Comments from the Peanut Gallery

Taking one day at a time...

Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers
Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers Lilypie Kids Birthday tickers
  • DO SOMETHING GOOD
  • Sunday, August 31, 2008

    I Don't Understand...

    If you are living anywhere in Florida, the Gulf Coast region, or the southern Atlantic Coast region, I really have to ask this question.

    Why?

    Hurricane season is a bitch, right? And you never know if you'll have a home anymore if the storm is headed your way, right? So, why do you live there? I understand it's beautiful and humid as a muthafucka, but does that make up for the fear you incur every year around this time, especially when a bad storm could wipe your home out in a matter of minutes?

    Hurricanes aren't like Chicago winters. Yeah, we get pretty cold and we get snow, but we also get all four seasons. Personally, I like experiencing all four seasons. So, what possesses you to live where you do? It's no different than asking someone who lives in Tornado Alley or near a fault line or in northern Minnesota where the winters are just downright painful.

    When you live in an area that is in imminent danger for four to six months out of the year, what possesses you to stay there? I'm just curious because I really don't understand why. I could never live in an area like that, even if it was beautiful.

    Saturday, August 30, 2008

    Don't Smile 'Til Christmas...

    It's that time of year again. I call it the "Don't Smile 'Til Christmas" time of year. You know what that is. It's when teachers try their best to be firm and consistent at the beginning of the school year so that the students know who's the boss.
    I hate it. Before I had kids of my own, this time of year was easy for me. Now, I realize that I don't just teach my subject; I teach people's children. And I think, as a mother, I have an advantage as a teacher. Unless you have children, you have no idea what it's like to deal with them nonstop. For me, I see them at work and then I go home to them. Granted, my students and my own kids are two very different age groups, but they're not very different when it comes to what they need from me.
    Consistency, praise, genuine like. I love my students as if they were my own kids. I don't know them yet, but I just know we'll bond. The "problem" ones always love me and flock to me (my reputation for being great with them precedes me). The "good" ones want to impress me. It's part of the job, I guess.
    The only part I hate is that we have to say goodbye in June. You see, even the "shitheads" grow on you. And sometimes you never know what they've done with their lives. You just hope it's something for the good of all of us.
    Teaching is not easy; being a parent is not easy. However, children are soooooooo worth what you put into them. And as long as you're genuine with them, they reciprocate that. Kids can spot bullshit a mile away. It doesn't matter if they're toddlers or eighth-graders. And it's important to be yourself around them or you'll never help them grow because they'll never trust or believe you. And it's not easy to "sell" your subject to people who don't want to buy it because they don't like the salesperson. It's hard for me "not to smile until Christmas" because that's totally not who I am. As a teacher, I'm firm and consistent and they know I won't let them walk all over me, but I also have a heart. And kids need to know you care and that you're not just there earning a paycheck. I wish all teachers felt the same way.
    That's my two-cents for today.

    Friday, August 29, 2008

    Please Excuse My Nerdiness...

    Oh. My. God. We got our new textbook series at work yesterday and I am so excited! I know it sounds really stupid, but this is the Holy Grail of all textbooks.

    Why? It does everything for me, including lesson plans aligned to state standards at the click of the mouse. Oh, yeah. I can see a whole lot of "hard" work in my future.

    I can't even begin to tell you how impressed I am by this series. I just know that it makes my job a whole lot easier and I can focus more on students and less on paperwork. Of course, I have to get used to a whole new type of gradebook that has been mandated by the Board, but that's okay with me. I like change.

    So, if you'll excuse me. I must go play with my new software for my textbook and see how much fun I can really have. Heh.

    Absolutely orgasmic!

    Thursday, August 28, 2008

    Melatonin...

    What do you know about melatonin and children? Jack was having some restless nights, several in a row, and I knew he wasn't getting adequate sleep. He would be up for hours at night, just singing in his bed or talking himself back to sleep, which would take a long, long time. I gave him some melatonin the past three nights and he's slept like a rock. I really didn't think it would work, but it did.

    The first night, I gave him 1/4 of a 2.5mg sublingual pill and he only woke up once. That came out to be .625mg, roughly. The second night, I gave him 1/2 a 2.5mg pill, and it worked again, plus he didn't wake up at all. I'm a bit hesitant to give him more than 1.25mg because it seems to do the trick. I don't know how long he can be on it, but I know that it's helping him regulate his circadian rhythms.

    I'm aware that melatonin is used for sleep disturbances in children with autism, cerebral palsy, learning difficulties, epilepsy, and visual disabilities. There are people who are all for it and swear by it; there are people who are against it. However you look at it, melatonin is actually helping Jack sleep through the night and he's much happier the next day. There are no side effects, just a good night's rest.

    Is it bad that I've decided to supplement his sleep cycle? It's not forever, just for now, until he can be able to sleep soundly without the night waking. He wasn't entirely disruptive when he'd wake up in the middle of the night, but I didn't want it to get to that point. After all, Livie's in the room with him and she needs her rest, too. And so do I.

    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    The Naughty Step...

    "The Naughty Step" is something my Nanny uses with the kids if they're acting up. It's the very first stair going up to my second floor. I decided to give it a try yesterday. Jack, of course, was the first one to get a time-out on the Naughty Step. And he most definitely did NOT want to be there. However, it was easier to talk to him about what he did wrong and how he could avoid having to sit on the Naughty Step in the future. And that is a big deal around here, since his job lately is to push everyone's buttons and his own limits until the whole house is in an uproar because of him. He wasn't happy about being on the Naughty Step, but at least I got him to think about what he did to get there, which is a huge step toward keeping him from throwing things in a fit of anger (that's what he did to get there in the first place). I even asked him to repeat back to me what he wasn't going to do so that he didn't have to sit on what. And he did! And he never had another problem after that. Amazing!

    At one point, Livie decided she was going to jump on the bed. I looked at her and asked her if she wanted to go sit on the Naughty Step. She stopped herself cold in her tracks, looked at me with fear in her eye (as if the Naughty Step is something that will swallow her whole), and said, "No, Mama. I do not want to sit on the Naughty Step. And because I don't want to sit on the Naughty Step, I'm going to stop jumping on the bed now. And I don't want to stand in the corner, either, Mama." Jeezus, guys. She's TWO! I hold better conversations with HER than I do some of my eighth grade students!

    So, I would say that the Naughty Step approach is a success. I didn't have to use it much, but when I did, my point was made well. How 'bout that? It's almost as if Jack and Liv suddenly realized that the Nanny and I speak the same language and that they better listen or else. Honestly, I had completely forgotten about the Naughty Step until the other day. Had I been using it all summer, maybe the hijinks and chaos wouldn't have been so much.

    It's not like our Nanny is a fascist dictator. She's the most wonderful, soft-spoken, logical person I know. She's very level-headed in her approaches to discipline, which is why she's a preschool teacher in the first place. She's definitely not a screamer. I'll have to make sure I thank her profusely for the Naughty Step idea. And I'll most definitely have to make sure that I don't overuse it, so that its effect stays intact.

    What have you ever used that has worked like a charm? Some people use the corner; I use the Naughty Step. What's yours?

    (Sidenote: Today's my first day back to work. I'm ready for a new chaos to begin. If you've ever worked in a school, you know exactly what I mean.)

    Tuesday, August 26, 2008

    Idle Thoughts...

    Well, tomorrow is the day I go back to work. As I do at the start of every school year since I've become a mother, I have mixed feelings about it.

    I'm going to miss my kids a lot and they will miss me, too. However, maybe, just maybe, they'll love me even more when I get home each day. Heh. At least my work day is short compared to others. I'm out the door at 7:30am and home by 3:30pm, so it's eight hours a day that I'm free of the kids' tantrums, couch jumping accidents, flips off the bed, and the incessant barking of the dog. It's easier on me if I look at it that way, instead of reminding myself that I'll probably only see them awake for four hours a day, roughly.

    Summer sucked, as you know. It kills me that I have to face my colleagues without my beautiful pregnant belly because I'm still supposed to be pregnant. Frankly, I'm very bitter about my miscarriage, especially now that my period finally came. I just want to fall apart, really. And it looks like this just isn't our year, since Hubby isn't being promoted anytime soon. Maybe the distraction of going back to work will make me analyze things less and enjoy my family more.

    And maybe, just maybe, I'll survive and come out ahead in the end. Wish me luck because I think I'm going to need it.

    Monday, August 25, 2008

    The Gray Area...

    Mostly, I'm writing this post to remember things. I want to keep a record of what's on my mind.

    Jack has me worried. His quirky nature is really kicking in and becoming pretty pronounced and the "ghost of autism" still lives here. Last year, they said it was anxiety. His former therapists (speech, occupational, and developmental) all said it was sensory processing disorder. Others tell me to just let him mature; maybe he'll be different in another six months. So, my heart is heavy. I've chosen not to put him in preschool to give him a chance to mature a bit more because I'd hate to set him up for failure. I like to put him in situations where he'll succeed because it's good for his self-esteem and I just don't think he's ready for preschool right now. Maybe in a few months it'll be different. Instead, Jack and Livie will both go to classes at the park down the street from our home, twice a week. It'll be good for them.

    I do know one thing. If Jack is autistic, he's very, very high functioning. And an outsider would probably never know. Aside from his quirks, he's a pretty cool kid. On the outside, people would see him as a handful, but I prefer to call him "spirited."

    What quirks?

    1. His memory is impeccable. Remember how I used to say he'd memorized the words to over a hundred books and over six hundred songs? Yeah, well, now he's taken to memorizing entire episodes of his favorite shows (Wow Wow Wubbzy, Max and Ruby, etc.). And he "acts" out the scenes at home, as if he's in the show. And he'll rehearse until he gets it perfect.

    2. His sensory integration issues are more pronounced. Where I thought he'd learn how to compensate for them and cope with it, he's not. When he was two, he didn't speak and would scream out of frustration, which would then bring out all the sensory issues. Now, he speaks just fine, but his sensory stuff interferes with his ability to speak his thoughts when he's upset. He's completely flip-flopped now. For example, he'll fall and get hurt and shout out something strange like, "Popsicle!" It has nothing to do with being hurt, but he says it because he can't find the right word to express his feelings.

    3. His perfect pitch, his ability to identify each drum in a drum set, his remarkable rhythm...he's definitely musically talented, if not gifted. His ear is amazing.

    4. He won't write. I've seen him hold a pen the right way, but as soon as he sees me noticing, he stops and throws it. I can't give him chalk, crayons, or pencils with erasers because he eats them the minute I turn my back. Then, again, so does Livie. They really like to double-team me. It's not the eating of the writing implements that bothers me; it's the lack of interest in wanting to write or color at all.

    5. He repeats what we say. Sure, he'll say things on his own, lots of the time. It's those times when he's saying something that we know he's heard before. His speech therapist says that Jack's an auditory learner and he tends to repeat things we say so that he can understand it. She said it makes perfect sense to her that he does that and it's only odd if he doesn't ever change the wording or uses the phrases out of context. He doesn't do that, but it still bothers me that he does it at all. Although, come to think of it, Livie does that, too, to understand what we're saying, but that's normal for her age. And with Jack, I have to remember that he didn't even begin talking until he was two.

    6. He has no fear. He would think nothing of running away when his sensory systems have shut down. He just runs and becomes reckless. He'll briefly look back to see if we're coming, which makes me think he's playing me, but it's hard to tell.

    7. His meltdowns are fierce. Sometimes he flips out because he's not getting his way. Other times, it happens because he's just too overwhelmed by his environment. We try not to do that to him, but there's no way to know what will set him off and when it'll happen. Believe me, we can tell the difference between the two types of tantrums. The word, "no," sets him off, but it does that to most 3 year olds, I think.

    8. When he's angry, he bites his fingers. I think he does this because he knows I don't want him to do it. Although, sometimes I wonder if he even feels it at all. He does it and tells me, "That's going to hurt," or "That hurts." He knows what he's doing is not right, but he does it anyway.

    BUT...

    He can be the most amazing kid I've ever seen, watching after his sister (when he's not beating her up) when she gets hurt. Most of the time, he listens well. He has chores that he loves to do, is eating a variety of foods, is becoming much more social, and tells jokes that show he has a sense of humor. He understands right from wrong and usually tells me when he's done something wrong. He tells us exactly what he wants or needs all the time. Cognitively, he's right on the mark. Socially, he's anxious and doesn't know what to do. He has days where he's as "normal" (for lack of a better word) as any other kid. And there are days when I just don't know what's going on with him. Sometimes I look at him and wonder if he's autistic and sometimes I look at him and know he's not autistic. Jack lies in the gray area between being on the spectrum and not being on the spectrum. He probably wouldn't get a diagnosis because socially and cognitively one could never tell. If, however, his sensory issues were in full swing, he'd test out as an autistic. This tells me that his sensory integration issues are making him appear to have symptoms of autism and that he's not "classically" autistic. And sensory issues have a way of masking what one can truly do. Picture yourself in a crowded room where everyone is wearing heavy perfume, the music is too loud, and the room is too bright. Tell me, how are you going to do if someone is testing you in that environment? To a kid with sensory issues, environment is everything. And Jack would never do well on any test if his sensory stuff was getting in the way and he did not feel safe.

    He has anxiety issues. He's my little worry-wart. He's an intense child that loves you more, jumps higher, kicks harder, sings louder, dances crazier...he's like having two children inside the same body. He's Jack and I love him. There's nothing more challenging or more rewarding than being his Mom because I'm learning from and because of him. I honestly do not know where to go from here. I'd hate to put him in school because his issues may impede his or others' progress. If I don't, he's not getting practice in socialization. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. So, I enrolled him and Livie in two classes at the park to make up for not putting him in preschool, hoping that some is better than none.

    I don't know that I want to call his pediatrician and tell him this stuff, either. He sees Jack once a year for check-ups only because the kid doesn't get sick enough to go in. I like Jack's doctor, but he's one of those staunch believers in the idea that the ungodly number of vaccines kids get (36!) don't cause autism. However, Jack was fine until he has his MMR at 15 months. That's when he changed. And he originally didn't want to sign off on Jack's weighted vest or trampoline provided by Early Intervention because he didn't believe it would help. And I made him do it because I had to advocate for Jack. He also didn't want to put Jack through allergy testing if we didn't have to. And now I'm thinking that maybe I really should check into that approach. I know allergies have a way of manifesting themselves in strange ways in children. Perhaps he's being exposed to something that just isn't good for his system.

    There are a million things going through my head right now. All I know is that my son lies in that gray area and could go either way...on or off the spectrum. On good days, he's off the spectrum. On bad days, he's on it. So, what do I do? Put him through more evaluations with strangers who freak him out? Or let him mature a bit more and see where he is in another few months, all the while wondering if I'm doing the right thing? Sometimes he puzzles me and he makes me second guess myself or he does something so brilliant and wonderful that I kick myself for ever thinking he was on the spectrum. And then there are days when I just sob because my gut tells me he is. If he is on the spectrum, would it be bad if I didn't want to know? I wouldn't want him to be recognized as "autistic" before he's recognized as "Jack." Does that make sense? However, I wouldn't want to deny him any services that might help him, but there's no guarantee that he would actually qualify for services. Like I said, he's in that gray area and kids in that area don't get help. Jack may have his foot in the autism pool, but he's not deep enough in the water to be saved from drowning. You know what I mean? And he'll probably grow into a very "normal" adult just like the rest of us, but he'll still be quirky.

    After all, my own pediatrician thought I was autistic because I was a head-banger...for years. Could Jack really just be quirky? I am, so I guess it's possible. And who knows? Maybe I've masked my own sensory stuff over the years so that it appears that I, myself, am not autistic. Aren't we all on the spectrum to a certain degree?

    This post will soon be cross-posted on Chicago Moms Blog.

    Sunday, August 24, 2008

    Running Through The House With Scissors...

    TO ALL THE KIDS WHO SURVIVED the 1930's, 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's...

    First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while
    they were pregnant.

    They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, ate tuna from a can, and didn't
    get tested for diabetes.

    Then after that trauma, we were put to sleep on our tummies in baby
    cribs covered with bright colored lead-based paints.

    We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and
    when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we
    took hitchhiking

    As infants & children, we would ride in cars with no car seats, booster
    seats, seat belts, or air bags.

    Riding in the back of a pick-up on a warm day was always a special
    treat.

    We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.

    We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE
    actually died from this.

    We ate cupcakes, white bread, and real butter and drank Kool-aid made
    with sugar, but we weren't overweight because,

    WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!

    We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were
    back when the street lights came on.

    No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.

    We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride
    down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into
    the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.

    We did not have Play Stations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at
    all, no 150 channels on cable, no video movies or DVD's, no
    surround-sound or CD's, no cell phones , no personal computers, no
    Internet or chat rooms...

    WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!

    We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no
    lawsuits from these accidents.

    We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in
    us forever.

    We were given BB guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks
    and tennis balls and, although we were told it would happen, we did not
    poke out very many eyes.

    We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or
    rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!

    Little League had tryouts and not everyone made the team. Those who
    didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!

    The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of.
    They actually sided with the law!

    These generations have produced some of the best risk-takers, problem
    solvers and inventors ever!

    The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.

    We had freedom, failure, success, and responsibility, and we learned HOW
    TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!

    If YOU are one of them, CONGRATULATIONS!

    Aren't we glad we had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated so much of our lives for our own good?

    Tell this to your kids so they will know how brave (and lucky) their parents were.

    Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn't
    it?

    Saturday, August 23, 2008

    Only In America...

    Only in America .......do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.

    Only in America .......do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a Diet Coke.

    Only in America .......do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counters.

    Only in America .......do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.

    Only in America .......do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight. What's up with that?

    Only in America .......do we use the word 'politics' to describe the process so well: "Poli" in Latin meaning "many" and "tics" meaning "bloodsucking creatures."

    Only in America .......do they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.

    Care to add any?

    Friday, August 22, 2008

    Dark Is Bad...

    We took the kids to the zoo yesterday and everything was great...until Jack's meltdowns began. Jack and Liv enjoyed the children's barn and their hands-on exhibits, the fish, the rainforest animals, the zebras, and the cows. Everything was great until we went into the ape house. The first thing Jack said was, "We've got to turn on some lights." And it went downhill after that.

    He didn't want to stay in there, but he didn't want to leave. He enjoyed looking at the monkeys and apes, especially the silverback giant ape because he came very close to us. I'm surprised Livie didn't shit her dipey, she was very surprised at its size. Two inches of thick glass separated us from the beasts, so it was all good. However, Jack flipped out.

    He didn't want to stay; he didn't want to go. He screamed, yelled, hit, flung himself on the ground, freaked out, bit his own fingers, cried, and basically tortured us all. It was horrible.

    And that was only after being at the zoo for less than two hours. The last half hour we were there, I had wished I had stayed home. After a half hour of his screaming and tantruming, we left. He clearly couldn't take much more than that. Livie, on the other hand, could've stayed there all day long. She loved the zoo. Jack was too overstimulated by all the people, all the kids, all the stuff to look at, all the everything. On our way out, I carried him because he was screaming his head off. Kids stared. Parents stared. All the animals hid. You get the picture.

    So we left. And I cried. And once we got in the car, he was fine. He knew he was leaving and I think he felt relieved. There was a lot we didn't get to see or do. I feel bad. And I feel like this before I take him anywhere. I try to anticipate his meltdowns, but it's almost impossible because anything at all can be a trigger. This time it was the dark ape house. He enjoyed the animals, but was freaked out by the darkness of it all, the noise level, and the throngs of people inside it. Jack is claustrophobic; he can't even stand elevators or being in a room with the door closed. I should've known better.

    So, we'll try the zoo again (maybe this weekend) so we can see the stuff we missed. And maybe we'll avoid all the animal "houses." I don't think Jack can do it. And for the sake of my sanity, I don't think I can, either.

    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    Aaaarrrrgggghhhh!...


    I'll be going back to work in less than a week. Next Wednesday is the first day back to school for teachers. Students don't come until after Labor Day.

    I also have a student teacher for the first ten weeks. This could be good or bad; it depends on how well she can manage a classroom. I heard through the grapevine that the incoming group of eighth-graders is pretty rough. They always say that, though. Time will tell, I guess.

    I'm so not ready for any of this, much less letting people know I had a miscarriage. I don't want to think about it anymore, so if you'll excuse me, I'm going to scream now.
    And then I'm going to take my kids to the zoo for some family fun.

    Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    What A Legacy...

    This obituary showed up in the Vallejo Times-Herald newspaper. It's already been removed from the paper's website, but I've seriously never seen anything like it. I can think of a few people I'd write this about. Read on. Seriously, you won't believe your eyes.

    Dolores Aguilar, born in 1929 in New Mexico, left us on August 7, 2008. She will be met in the afterlife by her husband, Raymond, her son, Paul Jr., and daughter, Ruby.

    She is survived by her daughters Marietta, Mitzi, Stella, Beatrice, Virginia and Ramona, and son Billy; grandchildren, Donnelle, Joe, Mitzie, Maria, Mario, Marty, Tynette, Tania, Leta, Alexandria, Tommy, Billy, Mathew, Raymond, Kenny, Javier, Lisa, Ashlie and Michael; great-grandchildren, Brendan, Joseph, Karissa, Jacob, Delaney, Shawn, Cienna, Bailey, Christian, Andre Jr., Andrea, Keith, Saeed, Nujaymah, Salma, Merissa, Emily, Jayci, Isabella, Samantha and Emily. I apologize if I missed anyone.

    Dolores had no hobbies, made no contribution to society and rarely shared a kind word or deed in her life. I speak for the majority of her family when I say her presence will not be missed by many, very few tears will be shed and there will be no lamenting over her passing.

    Her family will remember Dolores and amongst ourselves we will remember her in our own way, which were mostly sad and troubling times throughout the years. We may have some fond memories of her and perhaps we will think of those times too. But I truly believe at the end of the day ALL of us will really only miss what we never had, a good and kind mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. I hope she is finally at peace with herself. As for the rest of us left behind, I hope this is the beginning of a time of healing and learning to be a family again.

    There will be no service, no prayers and no closure for the family she spent a lifetime tearing apart. We cannot come together in the end to see to it that her grandchildren and great-grandchildren can say their goodbyes. So I say here for all of us, GOOD BYE, MOM.


    How sad is that? I seriously hope that when I die, my obituary is never written like this one. She must've been such a horrible woman. If you doubt the authenticity of it, you will find out here that it is, indeed, real. And anyone who has a copy of that newspaper will find that it is worth keeping for that reason only. It may be worth something someday because you'll probably never see something like that again.

    Shockingly brutal, it is.

    Tuesday, August 19, 2008

    Messy Is Good...

    I found an easy recipe for homemade playdough that lasts for a whole year (in an airtight container)! I think I'm going to try it.

    Materials:

    • 1 cup flour
    • ½ cup salt
    • 2 Tbsp. cream of tartar
    • 1 cup water
    • 2 tsp. vegetable food coloring

    Instructions:

    • Thoroughly mix the flour, salt, and cream of tarter in a medium-sized saucepan.
    • Add the water and food coloring, then cook the mixture over medium heat and stir (about three to five minutes).
    • Store the playdough in airtight container or plastic bag.


    I've also found a recipe called "Clean Mud." It sounds like so much fun!

    Materials:

    • Medium-sized tub or tote preferably with lid
    • Roll of toilet paper
    • Bar of ivory soap
    • Knife or vegetable peeler
    • Borax
    • Water
    • Measuring cups, water/sand toys

    Instructions:

    • Have the children shred toilet paper into the tub or tote.
    • Next, shave the bar of ivory soap into the tub.
    • Add enough water so that the toilet paper is well soaked but not drowning.
    • Add just a touch of Borax (this helps keep the "mud" from molding and will allow the mixture to keep longer).
    • Place a lid over the box and let the mixture sit overnight.
    • The mixture will turn into a slimy consistency, much like real mud, once the toilet paper has disintegrated.
    • Have the kids use their hands to manipulate the gooey mess or use measuring cups and other sand and water toys.
    • When finished, place the lid back on the container, and your "mud" will keep for several days of clean fun.


    Do you have any homemade recipes you use/used with your own kids that you'd like to share? You know I love a good mess. Heh.

    Monday, August 18, 2008

    Outside The Box...

    I've never fit into any neat little box my whole life. All my life, I've felt like an outsider. I was never one of the popular kids, or a jock, or a goth, or a stoner, or a nerd. Although I did have times where I fit into those groups, I could never, ever really be labeled. I was what I was...an outsider, an observer, a loner, a misfit to some extent. I was usually successful in being on the edge, able to fit in anywhere without building a reputation that got me labeled as anything.

    Even as an adult, I find myself not fitting into any neat little molds that are built for people by other people. Some may say that's a good thing, right? Some may like their labels. I, for one, do not think inside the same box as the rest of the world. I'm not a SAHM, but I get summers off to pretend I am. I'm not in a suit and heels everyday, trying to sell my soul for my product. However, I am a teacher and I sell ideas to my students that they can use to expand their own knowledge. I do not work out, nor do I feel the need to at the moment. I do enough marathon running by chasing after my toddler and preschooler. I am agnostic and made the choice not to baptize my children into any organized religion, but I was raised Catholic and schooled the same way. I do not do drugs, but there are days when I'd really like the escape and not have to be responsible. I'm not much of a drinker, either.

    I was never a straight A student; I was always average. It wasn't until I got to college that I learned how to bullshit the bullshitters and get A's (at the Baccalaureate and Masters levels). I don't kiss ass, but I know how to schmooze. I'm not a quitter; I'm a survivor (in more ways than one). I was never part of the group that got to stay out all night partying; I had a 10:30pm curfew until I was eighteen. I was never the right anything for any group. I found that girls hated me and guys loved me. Even now, I find that some of my greatest friends are men, not because they want to get into my pants, either. I am a guy's girl. You know the kind. They can talk openly and without hestitating on their opinions about sports, politics, religion, and they usually swear like truck drivers. Yeah, that's me. I'm an "It" girl.

    In my life, I have found that I'm a bit of a chameleon. I can run with any crowd. However, in my younger and dumber years, I would've liked to have felt like I had belonged somewhere. It would've been nice to have fit into a group I didn't have to create. Were there others like me? Sure. We were surviving. We were surviving the oppression of the others who just couldn't get out from under their labels.

    What was your label?

    Sunday, August 17, 2008

    Going Overboard...

    The simplest things in life are often the best and the most fun.

    Saturday, August 16, 2008

    Hairy Situations...

    I've been hemming and hawing about getting the kids to a kid-friendly salon so they could get haircuts. And yesterday, I finally gave in to frugality. I did it myself. I usually do it myself and they're pretty good for it, but I just wasn't up to doing it. However, I did it anyway because I just don't want to spend the money. Is that bad?


    Livie let me cut her bangs, but told me specifically NOT to cut the back. She likes her long hair. Jack, on the other hand, was not interested in me coming at him with a pair of scissors, which is out of the ordinary for him. He usually doesn't mind a haircut, especially if I give him a bunch of stuff to play with while I do it. He hates the little hairs that cover his body when I do it, but he's happy to go into the tub afterward. Yesterday, however, we did it a little differently.

    I used the clippers with a #4 guard. It's the first time I ever gave him a haircut that short. And he didn't mind the clippers at all. I was worried he would freak out because of his sensory integration disorder, but he was very calm about it.

    Livie saw the piles of Jack's hair all over the floor and said, "Mommy, what is that? What are you doing to Jack's head?" I told her I was giving him a haircut. She looked at Jack and shouted, "Jack! You have a Papa haircut!" Yep...you guessed it. I always cut my husband's hair, too.

    So, now I give everyone in the house haircuts and the only one that goes to the salon is ME. And that's the way it should be, right? Heh.
    (Sorry if the pictures are fuzzy and full of red-eye. They're from my phone and I just didn't want to edit them.)

    Friday, August 15, 2008

    The Spirit of Ratings...

    This article in the Chicago Tribune caught my attention, if it wasn't already caught by Michael Phelps and his low-riding speedo. Um, yeah. Don't you think it's a bit much that the speedos just keep getting smaller and smaller every time the summer Olympic games come around? Even the volleyball players could stand to bare a little less skin. No one can tell me that less clothing helps them do better in their sports. It's like bicyclists (who are notorious for being incredibly self-centered) shaving their legs. Does it really make them perform better?
    If you ask me, I think it's all for ratings. And that's sad. Whatever happened to love of the game and the spirit of competition?

    Thursday, August 14, 2008

    Survival...

    Jack is three-and-a-half and Liv is almost two-and-a-half. This is how I feel on some days.

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008

    Quality Time...

    This picture is from last weekend. My Brother a.k.a. "Uncle" took the kids running around the block. By no means were they going slow on account of Livie; no way, she can keep up with the big boys like you wouldn't believe! I think it's so adorable how they both held his hands. They love him and trust him with as much as their little bodies and minds possibly could. (He's known them since they were just minutes old; he was there for both of their births.) They look forward to seeing him every Saturday. And so do I.

    Tuesday, August 12, 2008

    My Days Are Numbered...

    I've been preparing the kids for my return to work in a couple of weeks. They are aware that our Nanny will be here while I'm at work. Livie's ready (so she says), but Jack is ignoring the discussion. I'm sure they'll both be fine, though. They're in good hands.

    I've also enrolled them in a couple of classes at our neighborhood park just down the street. They'll be going to a Moms, Pops, and Tots Interaction playgroup on Fridays and a Gymnastics class on Saturdays until late November/early December. I'm pretty excited about the classes. While I won't be able to take them to the playgroup because I'll be at work, I will be taking them to their gymnastics class. And I love that stuff!

    So, we're forgoing preschool for Jack for the time being. Everyday is playgroup when the Nanny is here because she brings her daughter with, who's only six months younger than Livie. They'll also be taking trips to the library with the Nanny, as well. She's a former preschool teacher who has experience with kids who have sensory integration disorders. How great is that? While having a Nanny does not come cheap, she is worth every penny for the peace of mind I have while I'm gone.

    We'll discuss preschool again, but for now it's on the shelf. Two activities with groups of other kids per week, plus the excursions the Nanny will take them on will be good for Jack and Liv. And they'll have so much to tell me when I get home from work.

    Sigh. Do I have to go back to work?

    Monday, August 11, 2008

    Eighteen More Weeks...

    This week I happen to be "off" from my coursework. I took a final exam for a class on Friday and now have this week off before I start a new course next Monday. This was a course on classroom management, but somehow I knew what I was doing. I managed to get a high B on the midterm, despite taking it while having my miscarriage and recovering from surgery. Plus, I hadn't read one iota of the readings required, nor had I taken a look at the lecture series. Not a bad midterm grade for having a family crisis during it.

    So, I have the week off. I'll find out what my grade was on the "big" assignment (60% of my grade) sometime today. I took my final exam on Friday and I think I did well on it. All in all, I'm not too worried about the grade I get in this class, considering all I went through while taking it.

    I'm just going to enjoy this week of "free" time while I can because the next class starts on the 18th and I'm just happy to be getting some kind of break before the school year starts and I have to go back to work. Three more classes and I have a Master's degree, folks. It's only eighteen weeks away.

    What a Christmas present for me, huh? Yay for me!

    Sunday, August 10, 2008

    Pretties...

    Livie, Blondie (my niece), and I took a picture of our pretty toenails. Mine are bubble gum pink; Livie's are a grayish purple; and Blondie has the fancy palm tree pedicure.
    Livie is as girly as they get, but boy does she know how to play rough with Jack! She reminds me of someone I know. Heh.

    Saturday, August 09, 2008

    I Wonder If Liv Tyler Likes Grilled Cheese...

    Forgive me for this "fluff" post. I had a final exam last night and my brain is fried. If you take either of these quizzes, let me know what your answers are. I'm curious.

    You Are a Grilled Cheese Sandwich



    You are a traditional person with very simple tastes.

    In your opinion, the best things in life are free, easy, and fun.

    You totally go with the flow. And you enjoy every minute of it!

    Your best friend: The Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

    Your mortal enemy: The Ham Sandwich


    You Are Most Like Liv Tyler



    “I don't want to spend so much time obsessing about myself.”

    Friday, August 08, 2008

    What Is WRONG With People?...

    This past Monday night, two cops in Indiana were on their normal patrol when they noticed a naked dude in the window of his home. The window's blinds were not closed, so everyone could see the naked guy and his shriveled cucumber. The two cops approached the guy's door, which was wide open. They went inside and discovered some fucked up shit. I mean, fucked up shit!

    This guy was on his sofa nailing himself in the ass with a claw hammer! The claw hammer was covered in a plastic bag and shoved up there. The cops also noticed some lube-type shit all over his genitals and his ass. It was motor oil. Okay, let's take a moment and think about this for a second. Now the police report didn't say which part of the claw hammer was up his ass.

    He obviously has some sort of fetish for tools. I don't even want to think about what he does with a hand brace or a sledgehammer. And what's with the motor oil? Was his ass squeaky or something?

    The guy was arrested for felony public indecency. He asked for a second chance, but the cops denied him when they found out he had a previous conviction for public indecency.

    The cops also interviewed a neighbor lady who said he's always naked in front of his window. She went on to say, "He does it 24/7. He's not right." Wait till she hears about the sexy things he can do with a claw hammer.

    Source

    Thursday, August 07, 2008

    Correct Spelling Is Everything...

    A lesson to be learned from typing the wrong email address.

    A Minneapolis couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter. They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their
    travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down the following day.

    The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.

    Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston , a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack. The widow decided to check her email expecting messages from relatives
    and friends. After reading the first message, she screamed and fainted. The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    To: My Loving Wife
    Subject: I've Arrived
    Date: October 16, 2005

    I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send emails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in. I've seen that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow.
    Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is as uneventful as mine was.

    P.S. Sure is hot down here!!!!

    Wednesday, August 06, 2008

    Balancing Act...

    Jack and Liv have learned a new trick that doesn't involve swearing. They can each balance a spoon on the end of their nose and spin around without it falling off. For a three- and two-year-old, I think it's pretty cool. That skill will be very handy at college parties, you know.

    Who says we don't know how to have fun?

    Tuesday, August 05, 2008

    Three Really IS Harder Than Two...

    Everyone has always told me that if I thought the age two was hard, age three is even more difficult. They weren't lying.

    Jack is three-and-a-half now and he's earned a new nickname...Mr. Contrary. He lives in Oppositeville. When he says, "I don't want to," he means he wants to. When he says "no," he really means yes. When he says he doesn't want peanut butter, that means he really does. I can't stand it anymore!

    And Livie sees him acting out and she joins in on the action. For example, jumping on the couch or the bed is a real danger, but they do it together. And then sometimes one jumps on the bed while the other jumps on the couch. I feel like a tennis ball being bounced around between the two of them. It's like being hit twice as hard when both kids are misbehaving.

    Let's just say they know which buttons they can push and with whom.

    Jack either has really, really good days or really, really bad days. Is that how age 3 is supposed to be? Every day is a power struggle with him. And his former developmental therapist came by the other day just to visit with us for a while. She seems to think he might be going through a growth spurt and that he's engaging in power struggles just to see where he stands. It makes sense to me.

    I'm going back to work in three-and-a-half weeks. I never thought I'd consider working a much needed break. Yeesh.

    Monday, August 04, 2008

    Every Kid Needs A Chainsaw...

    My Mom went out and bought a play Bosch chainsaw for the kids. It goes great with their new workbench and tools. And let me tell you, they were occupied for hours with it, "fixing" things. And drilling. And hammering. And working...
    Just watching them made me exhausted.
    Seriously, if you haven't gotten your kid a chainsaw, run and do it now. Really, run. It's hours of fun pretend play and you can't beat that.

    Sunday, August 03, 2008

    Was It My Sister?...

    The kids and I were lying on the bed, relaxing, when Livie put her head on my chest. For the first time in a couple weeks, Livie asked me where the baby was. She lifted up my shirt to look at my belly and I told her, "Remember? The baby is gone now. It had to leave. Maybe next time." Jack sat next to her, oblivious to our conversation, concentrating on conserving his energy (for once!) and plotting world domination.

    I was hoping she'd already forgotten, but that kid has a mind like a steel trap. She never forgets anything. She appeared to accept my response and didn't ask why. I was glad about that. However, she stunned me by responding, "Was it my sister? Was it a sister for me?" I simply told her, "I don't know."

    The conversation ended there. If it hadn't, I wouldn't have been able to keep it together much longer than that. She didn't ask anything more and I didn't say anything more about it. Livie is the kind of kid you can't sugar coat for. She needs honesty and that's what I give her, in terms that are the simplest for her to understand. Plus, she can tell if someone is lying and she'll call you out on it.

    Livie. She's pure and innocent and she's keeping me sane on many different levels. And I'm very lucky that she chose me to be her Mom. And Jack is my bull in a china shop. He's keeping me busy enough to not be able to think for long periods of time. Between the two of them, I don't have the energy to fall apart, but a part of me wishes I would. Does that make any sense?

    Two children, same Mother and Father. Polar opposites. I'd like to know how that happens.

    Saturday, August 02, 2008

    Cool Tricks...

    The other day, my mother-in-law came over. She only lives a couple blocks away, so she walked over. She wanted to see how everything was going and she wanted to play with the kids. Now, before you get all hell-bent on "ohmygod, your MIL lives within walking distance; you must want to kill her," she's not like that at all. She never meddles and she's very, very good to us all, so we're grateful. And I'm grateful I married a man who has such a wonderful Mom.

    When she came in, the kids were very happy to see her. They busted out all their tricks so they could show off for her. It was fine until Livie busted out the one trick I'd hoped she wouldn't.

    Yeah. That one. And then Jack got in on the action, too. It was a nonstop fuck-you-fuck-him-fuck-her shouting match between the kids. Now, Jack and Liv were laughing while they were saying it, so it was in no way malicious, even if Livie was pointing her finger at my mother-in-law. The kids just thought it was hysterical.

    My mother-in-law wasn't as amused, telling them, "Now, that's not a nice thing to say." And my poor beet-red husband had to try to get them to stop saying it. Lucky for me, the phone rang. I quickly ran outside so I could talk to my Brother on the other line, telling him what was happening in the house. All the while, laughing my ass off.

    I bet she's really glad he married me. After all, I am an English teacher, you know. They were using the phrases correctly, just around the wrong ears. Heh.

    Friday, August 01, 2008

    The Banana Test...

    There is a very, very tall coconut tree and there are 4 animals: a Lion, a Chimpanzee, a Giraffe, and a Squirrel, who pass by. They decide to compete to see who is the fastest to get a banana off the tree.

    Who do you guess will win?

    Your answer will reflect your personality.

    So think carefully . Try and answer within 30 seconds

    Got your answer?

    Now scroll down to see the analysis.











    If your answer is:


    Lion = you're dull.


    Chimpanzee = you're a moron.


    Giraffe = you're a complete idiot.


    Squirrel = you're just hopelessly stupid.



    A COCONUT TREE DOESN'T HAVE BANANAS.

    Obviously you're stressed and overworked.
    You should take some time off and relax!
    Try again next year.