Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sometimes I CAN be a Good Mom

Yesterday Alex was blowing bubbles in his milk with a straw. I stopped myself from just telling him "NO, stop that, it isn't good manners." Instead, I told him, "Don't blow bubbles in your milk, it isn't good manners, but after we clean up the lunch dishes, I'll make you some soapy water--and you can blow all the bubbles you want." He actually finished his lunch and then had a blast blowing lots and lots of bubbles. Yea Alex, and yea Mom!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Pictures from Trish's Wedding

Trish was married on Dec. 30th. She is one of Joseph's tutors. Another of Joseph's tutors, Becky, was a bridesmaid. Joseph was pretty happy to hang out with his favorite girls, and liked that they were all dressed up!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

I was wrong

I checked the news about the bus shortange and discovered "Officials said the shortage was a result of an investigation into a bus driver who was found with cocaine on a bus this week. The driver in question worked for First Student, a vendor contracted by the district... officials discovered that they had not completed all criminal background checks for their employees, therefore halting operations during the investigation." First student operates about 30 busses for the district. They hope to have bus routes running normally tomorrow. Seems crazy that in a district with hundreds of bus routes, and many students that don't ride busses, school could be canceled over 30 busses.

Oh well!
No School

There were not enough busses or bus drivers this morning, so school was canceled???? Dear Joseph stood at the end of the sidewalk for 10 minutes waiting for his bus. I finally looked in the neighbor's driveway--her van was still there. She is a teacher in the district, and usually leaves about five minutes before Joseph bus comes. So, I checked the news. No school. Maybe it was cold and the busses wouldn't start? I'm glad this didn't happen last week when I had a looming deadline.

I baked cookies for tomorrow's book club. And I spent at least an hour crafting an email to both of Alex's teachers, his tutor, and the reading specialist at his school. It was probably just a page or two, but I thought about every word. We were all to have had a meeting this morning. No school may work to my advantage, because I took a lot of time to think about everything I wanted to say to the teachers, and in person I'd have been distracted, we would have only had 20 minutes or so, and with such a big group, I'd have forgotten something I wanted to say. I hope they take the time to read and think about what I've said. I just want them to work hard to teach Alex. Sometimes I think the school has given up on him. Sometimes I think they are clueless. I tried to tell them in my email that I need feedback from them about behavior so I can properly reward him at home, and so I can tell the Dr. if his meds are working. I still think they are so focused on test results they can't see the child. I explained that while some of his work looks the same--for example he is to write sentences with his spelling words each week--it takes him a fraction of the time. In Sept. he could write one or two sentences at a time, and it could take 20 or 30 minutes. Now he can write 10 sentences in less than 20 minutes. But the work the teacher sees is the same. Same sloppy handwriting, same sentence structures over and over. (He likes to start each sentence with either the spelling word or "I." That seems like a reasonable way for him to start to learn to write to me...and it can't be that unusual for a second grader... Acutually, I find his sentences interesting. It helps me see into his brain a bit.)

Alex has figured out that he might not get to go to bookclub, and has actually been on good behavior for me...trying to earn enough stickers!

So maybe in my next post I can complain about Joseph for a change. Or maybe, you all will be thrilled to read how great my kids are! They really are... really...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Luke and Annie

My nephew Luke and his wife Annie are heading to Honduras with the Peace Corps. Check out the blog of their adventures!

Check out the website These women are my cousins. My mom sent me their cookbook, and it looks like a lot of fun, although more like a domestic goddess than a domestic disaster!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Pat myself on the back and rambles

I just finished a big work project. Whew.

I've been sick, way behind on stuff at work, making Dave's life miserable (although, at least some of it he deserves) and trying to just get through the day. Anyway, one project finished and out of the door, well out the figurative email door.

Maybe I can be more patient with my dear children this week. Alex is the difficult one these days. He continues to get up in the middle of the night almost every night. I've been ignoring it. This may be why it is getting worse--he is trying so hard to get my attention. Behaviorists tell me to expect the behavior to get worse before it gets better. Friday night the dear boy, all 55 or 60 lbs. of him at most at about a cup of peanut butter, straight out of the jar. He had carried three brand new 18 oz jars of peanut butter upstairs, opened just one, and eaten half the jar. I figured it was about 1500 calories of pure peanut butter. Needless to say, he didn't want breakfast. But he ate lunch and dinner. Maybe I'm not feeding him enough. Although, Thursday evening, Dave was gone, I baked a batch of pre-packaged tollhouse cookies. The kind that comes in the dairy case, break apart, and bake. It made 12 big cookies. I had two. The boys finished the rest of them before Dave came home that night. They also ate dinner. Even I won't feed my children chocolate chip cookies for dinner. What will it be like when they are teenagers? I suppose a half a jar of peanut butter will be nothing! Let's just hope he keeps it in the kitchen. Earlier in the week I came downstairs and found two OLD containers of Redi Whip on the counter, and a brand new container of ready made frosting open with a spoon in it. At least he didn't finish half the frosting or take it upstairs. And he didn’t get sick from the expired Redi Whip. I gotta clean out the fridge if he is going to become my night time fridge raider.

Alex took his quarterly reading test last week. No progress. I just want to tell the teachers to quit testing him. Or, quit believing the tests! Can't they tell he is learning without a standardized test? I can. I read with him almost every day, and he is reading more and more fluently. Why do they have to have a test prove it? Is it no child left behind? Are they upset because Alex is ruining the school's numbers? Here they have this bi-racial kid that makes no progress on the standardized tests. Anyway, they tested him a second time and he showed a big jump. I expect if they tested him a third time it would be lower than the first. He is daydreaming all day at school, telling the teachers "no" when they ask him to do something, distracting other kids, etc. etc. I'd imagine he is quite a handful. The Dr. has adjusted his ADHD medication; the Psychologist still needs one more appointment to make a diagnosis, but has already indicated we will have a "treatment" phase with Alex. All I know is that I’m exhausted trying to keep up with him, help the teachers, deal with the teachers, and do my work. But one big project down, I feel better already! Also, since Sarah's post about knowing your child's "currency" I've been thinking about Alex. He loves to play with his friend Owen, and he loves Kids Friday Night Book Club. I told him and his teachers that I want him to stop daydreaming in class and stop saying "no" when he is asked to do work. They are to report to me daily. (One teacher is reporting, one is not.) I've had a hard time deciding what will motivate him. I've decided to try book club. So, this week he needs to get positive reports from teachers 3 of 5 days or he can't go to book club. I'll let you know. Sounds harsh, but I can't think of anything he really cares about. Anyway, at the moment, my spectrum child is my easy one.

As I type this he has been wandering around, singing, talking to himself, etc. So funny. Singing “Alleluia, alleluia” and talkiing about a babysitter he has not seen in about two years. He actually has a very nice singing voice when he thinks I’m not paying attention. I think much of his inspiration comes from the Disney channel. Now it is “use yer ‘magination” over and over? Anyone know the reference? Is it High School Musical? Okay, now the song is "How do we know you, how do we love you?"

Well, I’m going to go reheat dinner.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Longaberger Baskets

I'm having a Longaberger basket party. Locals, watch for your invitation. Line up your excuses. It will be Monday January 29, 7-10 P.M. I'm planning an open house, not a presentation at a specific time. Out of town readers, check the Longaberger web site, and email or call with your purchase requests! I'm doing the party in January because all the basket sets are on sale, 20% off, and all the baskets alone are on sale, about 10%.

Why do I love these baskets? I don't know. They are expensive, obscenely so, but made locally by workers that get a living wage. I love a bargain, but maybe some of the bargains I so enjoy are made possible because the people working in other parts of the world are not making a decent living. Okay, I can't believe I'm managing to make buying Longaberger baskets a ethical issue... I should go to the local MCC store and buy baskets if I want to be politically correct...

ANYWAY, I love Longaberger baskets, I love the new dark stains, and I want a new Picnic basket. My old picnic basket, not a Longaberger, was stolen out of our church basement!!! (Full of cookies at the time--so the thief got a real treat.)

Rather than just order the basket, I decided to have a party. I've never had a real party at my house. I've had one "catalog party" about five years ago, and I've ordered and bought many baskets, but this time, I'm doing the party thing. It should be fun.

I think I like the idea that baskets will make me more organized. In reality they just provide cover for my clutter. They enable me to be more disorganized but look all tidy.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy MLK Day!

I'm making a big pot of Chili in the crock pot. Since Sarah posts such great recipes, I'll post mine for crock pot chili.
I used to call it Ten Can/Tin Can Chili, but now I use more frozen things so, it isn't all cans. ( I have, however, literally used ten tin cans for this...)

Fill crock pot, as big as you want with

1 lb. ground meat, browned (or more if you want it very meaty)
canned tomatoes, corn, beans, etc.
frozen onion, pepper, corn, etc.

add spices: Chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic (powder or chopped), black peper, etc.

That's it.

Obviously, it turns out a bit differently each time. I don't have such a discriminating palate that I really care how much of each spice I use. My family is used to it. Dave, graciously, often tells me, I think this is the best batch you ever made!

Kroger has a frozen combo of onion and red, green and yellow peppers. I buy it for $1 a bag on sale. MUCH easier and cheaper than fresh peppers. And, from what I've read, frozen veggies are just as good or better than fresh for cooking.

The leftovers go into the freezer for quick meals on busy days. I often serve it over rice or cornbread.

Friday, January 12, 2007

This says it all--
Book Club Potluck

Our neighborhood kids book club, adults card club, potluck dinner is at our house this evening. The theme for the meal is "redneck comfort food." I need to come up with salad or veggies. ??? I can't think of a comfort food salad? Iceberg wedges with 1000 Island dressing? Creamy coleslaw? Comfort food veggies seem too soft and mushy to be appealing. Crisp salads don't sound like comfort food either?

Any good ideas?

We are also starting a once a month wine tasting in conjunction with the above mentioned group. We are basing our tastings on a book Andi has. This month is champagne. We pool our money and buy four different bottles, at different price points. Each month we will try a different kind of wine. I may actually learn something! We are even going to take notes so we know what we like.

So, cheers to our great neighbors!

PS The irony of Champagne tasting at the same time we are eating red-neck comfort food is not lost on the group. I just got this email from a neighbor "How does one cleanse the palette with Champagne and tater tot casserole? Do we break out a hunk of Velveta? I think a fine red would go with Taco Bell....or a new Reisling with BK......We are such the aristocratic group, decerning tastes in wine, trailer trash with food. Pass the Ketchup....."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Boise State is #1

We won't even talk about Ohio State. I slept through the second half of the game, Dave is still fuming.

Here is a cute photo of the boys in their new Christmas Brutus Buckeye shirts. Who cares about football when you have cute boys! Notice how thin Alex's hair is on top... That is 10 days of growth after his "haircut."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Doing the same work over and over.

Okay. I'm going to answer my own question. I know why it is so hard to stay organized. I have two kids, and one of them is spectrum.

Joseph helped us this morning by over-turning 3 laundry baskets. I'd folded and sorted all the laundry last night, but not put things away in the drawers, yet. So, I did that job again. Dave had hung all his shirts on a rod in the basement. Joseph climbed on something to reach them, and when no one was looking, took everything off the rod and threw it on the floor. Alex has done his share of things like this, but today it was Joseph.

Why are we short-tempered?

I just put an ad in the student newspaper to find someone to help out with AM childcare and light housekeeping three mornings a week. It seems ridiculous that we can't keep up with our lives, but we can't. My hope is that if Dave and I can both get out of the house by 730 or 8 three mornings a week, with minimal responsibility for anyone other than ourselves, we will have a bit more time and energy in the evening. (I'd rather give up fixing breakfast for A and J three days a week and have time and energy to cook dinner and do homework after school...

On a positive note, I saw Dave's new office and it is beautiful. Big, good windows, clean, and cluttered, but pretty well-organized. (That seems like an oximoron, but it seems like well-organized clutter to me.)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Why is it so hard for me to stay organized? Because I don't put things away, and I don't throw things away, and I have too much junk!

I guess this will be my New Year's resolution. To get a grip on the piles of junk that surround me. (Notice, I'm blogging about it, and not doing it!)

The junk surrounds me at my office and at home. Alex lost his reading book this morning, I can't find anything on my desk at the office...


Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year and Alex's haircut...

Here's to the next 365! The years do roll along at an alarming rate.

Read Sarah's blog about her 2006. She is a wise, wise, wise young woman! I admire her very much.

We went to Trish's wedding on Saturday. Trish is another of Joseph's tutors. I forgot the camera, so no pictures of the beautiful bride, or of her hugging Joseph or dancing with Joseph. All will have to be preserved in memory!

We had a fun evening. We sat with two other families who benefit from Trish's services. The other children stayed at home, so Joseph was the only one representing the the spectrum at the table, and he behaved very well. Made us proud and the other families jealous. Way to go Joe-bear. It was fun to trade stories, strategies, laughs, and sympathy with other families that face similar challenges every day.

Alex did not attend the wedding. He had a mild cold and I hired a babysitter at the last minute. Spent $75 I had not expected to spend that day. However, it was money well spent. Alex wasn't really sick, but I was still glad to have the day away from him. Some explaination is in order, I guess. I've spent the whole Christmas break with the kids. Alex in particular has been very clingy difficult to entertain. I went to bed Friday night knowing he was still awake, pretending to be asleep, and then running around the upstairs--I guess hoping I would notice and get up. I decided it just was not worth a fight, let him stay up, and went to sleep. Dave was watching TV and dozing downstairs.

The next morning, Alex got dressed and put on a ball cap before he let me see him... I asked him to take it off, and almost cried. Give me credit, I didn't yell at him... I almost took a picture so I could post it on the blog, but don't want to give him that much attention. Can you guess? He had cut his hair the night before. He has beautiful, think, curly hair. We keep it pretty short, so the curls are not as beautiful as they could be... He had three or four big bald patches on the front, top of his head. I was just sick. All I could think of was to buzz it all off. I took him outside and gave him the shortest haircut of his life, and the spots he had cut are still very obvious. I know, I know, all kids do this. But at eight?

I asked him why. He told me it was because I wasn't paying attention to him. I told him that I had gone to bed and I was asleep! He said he wanted me to yell at him to go to sleep. Ah, you just can't win sometimes. I'm sure I'll laugh about this some day. But I'm not quite there yet. I was SO angry, but I didn't want to reinforce the behavior by reacting in a big way to it. So I tried really hard to stay calm. Needless to say, when he announced that he was too sick to go to the wedding, rather than tell him he had to go, and point out that he only had a mild cold, I called our favorite babysiter and luckily caught her at home with no plans. We were gone all day--12 hours. We had never all been away from Alex for that long. He had a really fun day with the babysitter, but pouted big time when we got home and the next morning to let us know that he didn't like being left behind.

I told him over and over that if he needs one of us after we have gone to bed, he just needs to knock on the door and tell us. Or come in and wake us up. Having a non-verbal brother has not helped Alex develop his typical communication skills. Alex's issues are not spectrum issues, but he sometimes acts more autistic than Joseph! I hope the counselor we have started to see with Alex can help him develop some self-esteem and independence.

Ah, it is a great journey! Happy 2007 to everyone!