Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Separate but the same

My little sister and I are 15 months apart, yet I would swear we were twins by how connected we are. Sometimes when I call her she answers the phone by yelling "Stop that!" because she was just putting her hand on her phone to call me at that moment and when it started ringing I scared the crap out of her. Yesterday she came home with the fixings to make lasagna but I had just put one in the oven even though neither of us mentioned to the other a desire to make it (and I haven't made one in over a year). Today we are wearing almost identical shirts. They are a different color but the same style and, again, I haven't worn this in quite a while.
Oh, I know! Perhaps we were the same person in a past life? Hmm, yeah, that might be tricky to work out...

Monday, June 29, 2009

Like herding cats

On Saturday we headed to the zoo in Sacramento. There was quite a lot of staring going on at our troop and I wonder if someone thought this was another group of multiples (and then some). We were kind of a traveling zoo all on our own and let me just say that getting 7 kids (ages 3, 5, almost 3, 6, 6, almost 6, and 8) to go in one direction is like herding cats. Good luck with that! If people think that this was crazy they should see it when my other 4 nieces and nephews are with them. Teehee!

Outside the zoo we met Sparky the Fire Dept Dog and tried to get another group picture but one poor little man was having none of that. The only reason he was even that close is that he was strapped into the stroller and couldn't run away screaming. I'm thinking he wouldn't be a fan of the circus either.

Another random fact from our day? I have discovered that potty training is not like riding a bike. Once you're done you will have to learn it all over the next time. Note to self: Just because the pee is going under the level of the seat does NOT mean it will stay in the potty. Remember that there is a gap between the seat and the actual toilet and watch out for your shoes.

My favorite part of the day? In the car on the way home Joe fell asleep for a while and managed to grind gum into the hair on the back of his head. We asked him if he still had his gum (not knowing whose it was, exactly) and he said no. I asked him if he swallowed it. "Yes... Wait!... Did I grow gum hair!?!"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Blog Camp 2.1 - Reno

For those who don't know yet about Blog Camp I'll start at the beginning.

I found the blog of the lovely julochka back in February while looking through the blogs that the lovely char follows. I always save julochka's posts for last because I ♥ them. Not too long after that she was named Blog of Note and found many new blogs/people to love (and I made my first comment on her page in congrats since I'd been a little shy before then).

So back in early May julochka's husband jokingly suggested that she have a Blog Camp so she could meet the people behind the blogs. It started out as kind of a joke but people started expressing interest. And Blog Camp 1.0 was born (and a Blog Camp blog, of course). The first one occured this last weekend and was a huge success.

I've looked up ticket prices for Reno to Copenhagen in Sept (Blog Camp 2.0) which were a surprisingly low $650 round trip but I sadly don't have the funds right now. So, since I can't afford to go to Blog Camp I thought maybe I could us an idea julochka mentioned about hosting one in the US to coincide with the Denmark Camp. I thought that the local rib cook-off (and craft booths) might be fun for a photo walk.

Since I'm in Reno, NV, and the airline folks make a lot of excursion fares, this means that there will be fairly cheap tickets available to most of our US friends (which is not to say that international folks aren't welcome here - you are! - but I assume that anyone who can get to julochka's, will.). So Labor Day weekend (Sept 4-7) I have room for up to 6 people. There is room at julochka's for up to 4 (though some spots are spoken for). Anyone want to go to camp?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


If only I had more of it! (time that is). I'm supposed to meet a friend at the park tonight, move a refrigerator for someone tomorrow and then one of my sisters will be here on Thursday. Somewhere in there I also have new sod in the back of my truck that I need to get into the front yard before it dies, the dining nook needs to get painted so that room isn't half finished (it's part of a great room that is otherwise painted already), and I have to get the guest room unpacked before my sisters get here. And I need to just generally manage kids and clean my house (mostly neglected while unpacking for the last two weeks) and do laundry. And go to work. I think I need some stronger coffee!

And how cool is this mug!? I wish it was available for purchase but sadly, not yet. Photo from here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Each an individual

I have 3 children and they're all SO different. Every development was reached at different times and in different ways. If one child was at an extreme, one was at the other extreme with one going right up the middle. Joe had 8 teeth by his first birthday, Erin had two, Glenn had four. Joe crawled on all fours. Glenn crawled like he was rowing (arms straight out, push up on hands and move forward while dragging feet). Erin pushed with her feet and just let her face run along the floor. Or she would roll wherever she was going. Joe had a full head of hair by a year, Glenn by a year and a half, and Erin didn't have hardly any until she was 3. But, I think one of the best displays of their differences was in the approach to their first birthday cakes

Joe licked but was afraid to touch with his hands:

Glenn was all about the handfuls:

Erin was dainty and used one finger at a time:

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Life By Mom's Rules: A Survival Guide

Life By Mom's Rules: A Survival Guide

Sometimes as a parent you'll have to elaborate on Because I said so.

As children we protested the obvious unfairness of our parents. How come they always got to make the decisions? Why don't I get a choice? I should have a choice.

My mother very calmly looked at me during one of these tirades when I was about middle school age and said "Do you see that fence?". She pointed out to the road and the fence that surrounded our property.

"Yes, I see it" I replied. "But you're not listening to me!"

"Well", she told me, "outside that fence is the United States of America. Out there it's a democracy and as soon as you move outside that fence you can make whatever decisions you want. Inside this fence is a dictatorship and I'm the dictator. As long as you live inside this fence, I make the rules!"

My mother was right (but I'll never admit I said it). As much as I always swore I'd never say it, I've learned that sometimes "because I said so" is the only answer that makes kids stop asking. Sigh...

Other lessons

Lost and found

Dear Sister,

I found your cat last night.


PS. Your cat was lost.

On Monday night we realized that our loud little kitty (given to me by my sister, middle-middle, a few years ago) had not made an appearance in the last 24 hours. We thought she might have gotten outside but she is a serious homebody. If she is on the front step sunning herself and you go NEAR the door she will dart back in. But last night I still hadn't found her under a couch or meowing from a closet so I started canvasing the neighborhood. It turns out that a very kind neighbor on the next street up has been feeding her because he knew she must have a family since she was so fat well-loved looking. The poor spoiled kitty is so used to being inside that, still being outside by his trash cans, she looked pretty miserable. Our happy little reunion consisted of her tucking into my arm and purring to say she missed me too.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Window locks are a MUST have!

Tigger is supposed to get out of the hospital today and I think it's important to remind anyone with a second floor (or higher) window that has children that window locks are a MUST HAVE. They're cheap and quick to install and they may very well save your kids' lives. Our local hardware store sells them $2.60 for two. All you have to do is make sure that the lock is placed so the window can't open more than the size of the smallest child's head. Even if you don't have kids yourself but kids come over to your house (or you have pets, even) then you need to install them. Trust me, a fall is terrifying for everyone and even if the child is miraculously okay the fall can still traumatize not only them but siblings and other family members. Spend the $10-20 and 30 minutes and protect your loved ones!

Friday, June 12, 2009

I've seen a miracle

I can now say that I have witnessed a miracle, a REAL one. Let me preface this story by saying that he's okay. Not just okay, he's great.

Last night around 6 I got a call that Boyfriend's 2-year old son had fallen from a third story window. At the time that was all the information that was available. I flew to the hospital and met up with the grandparents and daddy. Once there we found out that he was conscious and talking. Nothing was broken. They ran a bunch of tests and scans to make sure there wasn't something internal. EVERYTHING came out fine. This extremely lucky little boy landed in the roses (I've never been so happy someone fell in a rose bush) and bounced his way out. When I saw him he didn't even need so much as a band-aid but looked like maybe he had just tripped at the park. This morning he was eating his french toast and drinking his milk (spilling it on himself as only a 2 year old can) and playing with his daddy's cell phone. He now has a new nickname. He is "Tigger", because Tiggers bounce.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Worldwide Photo Walk

Shutter Sisters is blogging this morning about Scott Kelby's 2nd Annual Worldwide Photo Walk. I'm still a pretty much SOOC photographer and getting to know my point and shoot but I'm going to be brave and sign up anyway. I'm going to make the short drive up to South Lake Tahoe, CA on July 18 and join up with other photographers (up to 50 in a group) and go on an adventure. Anyone else want to play?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

It's starting

I'm cooking dinner and I hear "tee hee hee! undies!" (pause) "tee hee hee! undies!"

I turned around and my 6 year old has been flipping through the JCPenney catalogue and come to the underwear models. He is pointing at the underwear of each one and giggling "tee hee hee! undies!". Do I need to hide the Victoria Secret catalogues now?

Monday, June 8, 2009

Oh, yeah... THAT'S why

I moved to this desert a little over 6 years ago. I moved from a place that was lush, green, and pretty. And that's why I moved. That particular kind of green and pretty only comes from a fair constant deluge of rain and clouds. I moved houses this weekend during the tail-end of 8 straight days of rain. This was such a rare occurence here that the media was talking about the records (This storm was the most water from one storm ever recorded. The longest ever continuous stretch of rain was 11 days in 1911. There was a storm for 10 days in around 1980). The first couple of days I thought "this is so nice" (it had already been raining off and on, and therefore not part of the continuous days count, for about a week) and I got out to take pictures of rain drops on plants. But now, well, a couple weeks of rain and this morning I woke up and was so happy to see that pretty blue sky I could have cried. I love my desert!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Hard choices

My oldest son has been struggling with school, in particular his reading and writing. He's in the second grade and this is the third year we have struggled with the same question. Do we hold him back? My reasons for holding him are numerous, the reasons for not are mostly for the possible social repercussions.

He has two younger siblings that are (almost) 2 and 3 years younger than him. Since he didn't start daycare until he was almost 4 this means his access to kids his own age were limited and he interacted a lot with children younger than him on a day to day basis. I believe that this contributed to him being socially behind his peers.

In kindergarten he struggled to keep up with his class. He had an attitude at the time (which is now starting to go away) that "it's just too hard and I can't do it" and because he was in a classroom of 36 students he didn't get much one on one time. So, when the school got funding for an extra classroom a few months into the year and wanted to place him in a class of only 12 kindergartners we jumped at the chance. At the time I was still new to being a mother of a school age child and assumed that the school, with all the many years of experience, would know what was best to help him. But... He was placed in a class with all of the other struggling students. This means he was with kids who don't speak English, 2 children who couldn't hear, and several students who had behavior issues (ADHD and other issues). While he could be afforded more one on one time I think this was still less beneficial and possibly detrimental since the teacher still had to instruct to the lowest common denominator. The school placed him on an IEP (Individualized Education Plan), which meant he spent part of his time in the resource room instead of with the rest of the class. The teachers reassured us that with an IEP we could get him caught up and holding him back was not necessary.

The first half of first grade was no better. His confidence was still being hacked to pieces as the teacher went on without him and he understood NOTHING that was being taught as he didn't have the foundation to go under it. He was still going to the resource room but since he didn't understand what was happening in the classroom he was falling further behind. In the middle of that year we moved to the other side of town and switched him into a new school which started to be better. The teacher started giving him assignments that were different (easier) from his classmates because she recognized that he wasn't at a level to keep up yet and, more importantly, his biggest problem was self esteem and feeling like he couldn't do it. With the easier assignments his confidence started to improve and the "I can't" attitude started to go away. The teacher and the school said he could go on to second grade and continue his IEP and he could catch up.

When he got to second grade he was still very behind in reading/writing (starting 1st grade level) but we were working on it. His math caught up to his peers and he made huge strides in confidence. But although he's progressing in reading and not falling further behind, he is not catching up either. Third grade will mean harder assignments and book reports and in my heart of hearts I know that he isn't ready (and the book reports scare him).

He's socially behind his peers by about a year. His reading ability is behind about a year. And his confidence still needs a lot of work. All of these are reasons to be held back. I worry about possible teasing but his best friend is a student who was held back last year so I know he won't be teasing my son about it. This calms my fears somewhat. Also, if you're going to hold a child back it should be done sooner rather than later. This is mainly so they won't notice it as much and it helps to minimize teasing from their peers.

So we decided to hold him back this year. My sister, who teaches elementary school herself, warned me that if I chose to hold him back I would have to fight for it because the schools prefer to push the kids through no matter what. Last week I spoke to the teacher again about holding him back and she said I'd have to talk to the principal for final decisions (the teacher having no power here anyway). The principal of his school pulled up his record, saw 'IEP' and started talking about how "children with learning disabilities don't benefit from being held back because the disability is still there". Did you READ his record? He has an IEP because he has confidence issues and fell behind. There is nothing in there that says he can't learn (aside from having the confidence to try). In fact, he IS learning in the environment, he just isn't catching up in it. "Well", she said, "statistics show that kids who are held back usually don't graduate high school". In my opinion many of them, though admittedly not all, don't graduate because the issues that caused them to be held back are still the case (like home life problems, etc). And personally, I knew several kids who dropped out and NONE of them were held back. If they had been held then maybe they would have finished school but their attitude was very defeatist after being behind their peers for more than a decade and they quit. My son is in the second grade and I have a chance to prevent that.

I explained to the principal that this was not a decision made lightly, that we've fought with it since kindergarten and that I've read everything about it that I could get my hands on. So she changed tactics. "How does his father feel about it?" she asked. I imagine that she thought I was trying to do hold him back on my own. Now, my ex and I have our differences (obviously, or we wouldn't be divorced) but when it comes to our kids we are very communicative and discuss everything going on in their lives on a weekly and often daily basis. Of course he and I have talked about this and I told her so. I had even talked to him again that morning before going in to meet her. Realizing I wasn't to be persuaded in this manner she tried categorizing him into a learning disability category again. So I was insistent. This was a decision we as parents (you know, the ones who see him every day) had made and he was going to be held back. She said she would have to speak with his teacher and the resource room teacher and she'd call me in a couple of days. So on Tuesday she called my ex and tried to talk him out of it. Was she trying to go around me? Well, it didn't work as he told her the same thing I did. We spend every day with him and as the principal she doesn't spend any time with him. We know what is best for our son and he's being held back. She relented.

In my opinion I believe that the principal works for the greater good of the school and the majority of the students. Holding a child back looks bad for the school, the teachers, and her (which is sad because I believe this school has been great and it was his FIRST school that wasn't). It could, if it happens to a lot of kids, lead to less funding for the school or change it to a less desirable category (schools are reevaluated every year) and therefore hurt other students. To be fair, I believe that in not wanting to hold him back she was trying to do what was best for the greater good of the other kids. But I'm his mother. I work in the best interests of 3 (and soon to be 5) kids. I spend my time with 3 children, not hundreds, and I'm going to do whatever I need to for them. I'm sad that he's being held back but I'm making sure I emphasize to him that this is an opportunity for him to catch up. He didn't do anything wrong and this isn't a failure. I'm making sure he knows that we are extremely proud of him and that we do think he's smart (he is very smart and I think the teachers will be blown away by the difference when his confidence picks up). I think we made the right choice.

So, in a related story that is somewhat funny in a OMFSM that's SAD kind of way: This morning my son was having a hard day and we got to school a little late. If you're late you must have a note from the front office before you can go to class. So we stopped in the office and when asked why we were late (they write the reason on the slip) I told her that we were having a rough morning. She gave him the slip and we walked to class. I looked at his slip and stopped walking... On it she had written "ruff morning". No wonder my son can't read! I expect misspelled words to happen frequently most of the time but she works in a school! These people are shaping my children's lives on a daily basis! And what would be considered a ruff morning, anyway? Is that when the dog ate your homework? Or you were chased by dogs on the way to school? Sigh...

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Only 6 short years ago this was my baby boy. Now he is a very grown up kindergartner and today he is graduating.

He has studied VERY hard

And he's REALLY excited

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I see lots of smiles but I wonder if the horsey was enjoying this very much? Hmm...

Lesson learned

As a general rule, if you have to say crap AND dammit while painting, that's bad. Also, if the handle of your roller breaks when you're only 1/3 of the way done with it (causing you to say these words as the roller hits the carpet), you can finish painting anyway. But you'll get blisters on your thumbs and I don't recommend it. However, the room will still be pretty when you get it done, blisters and all, so maybe you won't be sorry anyway.

Monday, June 1, 2009


Boyfriend captured this on our trip to Oregon