Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Picture this...

Tracey at Picture This was talking yesterday about the 'blurries' that sometimes happen when trying to get a nice photo with the flash turned off. She asked readers to share a photo they think 'worked' even with some blur. I thought of a few that I have taken. I am going to post them so she can see them.....I don't know how to do it any other way...

I like both of these because I think that the blur shows the motion in the picture.
Cubby having a tantrum....

This is my favorite picture of my husband and my son. This was taken right after Derek walked off the stage at his graduation from Stanford. He took the kids with him (they all do it there) and he just smacked Cubby on the cheek. It is blurry b/c I took it fast, but it works.

A great story is on the way about Fairy Lou, the miracle fish.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Read it here first...

Hey everyone,

A friend of mine is bringing her little girl home from Ethiopia any day now. The catch is that this girl is HIV positive. Both Ethiopia and the US have started to allow HIV positive children to be adopted. This is great news. Did you know that HIV is not a fatal illness in children in the US, but it is in Africa? Why? Proper nutrition, drugs and health care. It is a shame to let those kids die in orphanages when some families here are willing to adopt them. Thanks to places like the Gates Foundation and the One campaign...these children are starting to get the meds they need to survive. They are even going to school and expected to live into adulthood. That is a very different story then it was a few years ago. BUT, there is always more that can be done. No amount of money or schooling can replace a mom and a dad.

This story is cool because this family adopted a son (not HIV positive) from Ethiopia a few years ago. They decided to sponsor an HIV positive child too (those kids at the time couldn't be adopted). They decided to meet their sponsored child when they went over to pick up their son. They fell in love with her, a young girl named Desta. They have fought long and hard to bring her home. If you have a minute to read a new blog, check out Bringing Desta Home at People magazine sent a reporter over there with them so you will hear about it soon anyway. Desta is now 11. It is a very compelling story.

Another friend of mine visited the same orphanage (AHOPE for Children) when she was over getting HER son. She also fell in love with a little girl and decided to sponsor her too. Now they are bringing her home as soon as they can. Isn't that wonderful? I know that not all of us are equipped to adopt HIV positive children, but isn't it great that for the ones who can, it is now possible for them to find a forever family? What a blessing. I can't adopt an HIV positive child, but I can sponsor one (or get my family to pitch in and sponsor one). I can gather donations for the AHOPE orphanage. There are families from all over the US going to Ethiopia to pick up their children every week and they often bring donations to AHOPE. If I find the stuff, they will find a way to get it over there. I can do something, all of us can. It isn't hard and it isn't even very expensive.......20$ goes a long way over there. Just a thought.

Ok, I am off the soapbox. At the very least it is interesting reading for the evening. Here are some links. You can leave Desta a message on the comments for her to get when she gets home. I know they are keeping a book for her of all the well wishes.

Have a good day!

P.S. This was a nice contrast the hell that was play group at my house today......will my boy ever stop hitting?

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Dark Lord...

Some of you many not find my son's nickname funny, but it has less to do with his pigment then his unique ability for destruction (although it does add a more realistic air........Especially since he wears his Darth Vader mask all the time).

He may not make it through the summer. Yesterday alone he almost fell off the second floor balcony (apparently his head CAN still fit through the railing), he slipped out the front door and ran out behind Derek's car AS HE WAS BACKING UP (apparently he CAN open doornobs now) and then climbed on the sink and managed to open a bottle of Ambien and take one or twelve (apparently he CAN climb onto the counter of the bathroom--but that one was on Derek's watch....not TOTALLY my fault). Then last night as I was trying to read an e mail for about 12 seconds, he pushed a chair up to the kitchen counter and grabbed Lauren's codine for her pneumonia. He is DETERMINED to kill himself. Seriously.

Reading this could lead one to assume that I am a terrible mother with drugs just laying around all over the house. That is only kind of true. I am a pretty vigilant mommy. The kids aren't usually out of my eyesight. Darth Vader is just lightning quick and is smarter then I thought. That should be a thing that makes me proud, but right now it just makes me tired.

Tonight, my sister Kate had Lauren in her room. Lauren was helping her clean it. Lauren. Cleaning someone else's room. I could try and take credit for her helpful attitude and say that it was because of the The Last Resort but really Kate told her she could keep all the money she found on the floor. Anyway, Cubby was left alone in the living room for 2 minutes. Maybe less.

When the overwhelming smell of lotion hit my nose I knew I was in trouble.

Thats right folks. Lotion. This was a rookie mistake. I don't know where he got it, but I should have known better. I suppose it is my fault for teaching him how to lotion his own hair. I put some in his hands and let him rub it in. This has made him obsessed with all things lotion. I will let you imagine how much lotion was in his hair. Lets just say, we won't be greasing it for awhile...and we might actually have to wash it with shampoo. Also, I do not keep him looking like a ghetto baby ( clothes...just a diaper). I had just changed him and was going to put his jammies on him.

I am not sure which is more alarming..the lotion or the scissors. Notice that he didn't just squirt the lotion. He took the cap off. That child could take the cap off a Chapstick before he was one. Rookie mistake.

Also, I had the Stanley Steamer guys here THREE DAYS AGO. Sigh. 200$ down the drain. That little stinker. I could have saved us all some trouble and NOT had the floors steamed and spent the $$ on a really cute skirt that I saw at JJill.


While I was writing this I had the lotion monster in his bed. I actually sent him up to his crib with my sister while I cried for a little while. I forgot to remind her to put something on him before she put him in bed. Why? Diapers don't stay on long in this house w/ out at least three layers on top. When he was still crying an hour later I decided to investigate. Let's just say the smell hit me before I got up the stairs.

Oh the horror of a room covered in poo. Enough said.

I wish there was a Last Resort for babies.................I guess this is why going to to rural Africa is going to be less of a working trip and more of a vacation.........

Friday, May 19, 2006

Local Boy Wins...

For all you Amazing Race fans!!

Hurray for BJ and Tyler. Tyler is from Woodside.....the town right next to my little town. His dad, Jamis, owns the resturaunt called Bucks (in the late 90's it was THE place for tech deals to happen over breakfast). Derek and I had our first date at Bucks. We also met Shirly Temple Black and Joan Biaz there once, they weren't together but they are locals. Jamis is a wacky, artist type and his kids are very intelligent free spirits. Tyler is his middle son and his youngest son is my youngest brother in law's best friend. A few years ago Tyler made a movie by walking from the bottom of Japan to the top. He does stuff like that. Amazing Race was nothing.

It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy (and I am glad it wasn't those d%#@ frat boys!!)

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Welcome to "The Last Resort" - we hope you enjoy your stay

Hello world,

This week has been one of the most difficult of my parenting career. Not because of the foot, or the heat (and the pool is still empty...PEOPLE!! That is why we pay one million dollars in HOA dues.....) or even the stinker (aka Cubby). It is because my 6 year old is winning the battle of control of the house. It perplexes me.

I am a STRICT mom. Fair, but strict. I don't let these kids get away with much. Just ask my mom and several of my friends, they think I might be a little bit TOO strict. I just feel that there is behavior that is unacceptable and it doesn't matter if you are 2 or 20, I won't allow it. Ever. Things like being unkind, impolite or sassy. Things like being disrespectful to others, taking things that aren't yours. The basics. It doesn't matter that my 18 month old doesn't REALLY understand that he is not allowed to take another child' s toy away (I know it is a development thing). Each and every time he does it, he will be walked over to the other child, give back the toy and give a "soft touch" (a pat on the arm or head). EVERY TIME. At some point he will understand and it will just have always been that way. A phrase that is often used in my home is "try again". We also do the "one, two, three" method with my daughter. After the third chance she is OUT. Sometimes she gets three chances in a row, for example.

"Lu, it is time for bed"

"But MOM!!"

"That's one"


"That's two"

...and if she makes it to three; things will be very grim (no song, no stories, etc). Sometimes it is over the course of a day. For example, hitting her brother....if I have to get to three by the end of the day, then things are REALLY grim. It works too. I have found that it allows me to discipline while being unemotional. If I get worked up, we loose ground very quickly. She knows the rules and she knows what is expected of her and if she does the wrong thing...well, the rules are clear. This has been very effective ever since she was small. That was yesterday. Now she is almost 6 and the rules have changed. Basically, I don't make the rules or hold the power anymore.

I have always struggled with 6 year old girls. Sorry. They are awkward and silly, too big to be little and too little to be big. I kind of dreaded this age anyway. I would take my then three year old to the park and watch the older girls and dread the day she became one. I didn't know that 6 would be so HARD. I joke that it is just a fun preview for 13, and I am sure it is, but I am amazed at how one (small) person can set the mood in our home.

Lately, Lu has decided that the rules in our home are optional and that it doesn't matter the consequence that is given, being sassy or having the last word is more important. Going to bed early? Oh well. No TV or computer? Who cares, she'll just draw. No snacks? She didn't want one anyway. The other night, she was in bed early and she actually GOT UP and went outside to play in the back yard. I had to physically carry her back in. Clearly, the key to discipline is that the consequence has to be more uncomfortable then the behavior (although..someday I am told they will want to be good for the sake of being good....I am skeptical). That seems to be the missing key. I found myself constantly yelling at her and having to be louder and longer as the week progressed. Short of physically punishing her (which I am not totally opposed to, but this was not the correct solution here) I didn't know what to do. Every interaction we had was negative...and we had to interact 300,000 times a day. It made our house feel like a dark cloud was hanging over it all the time. I was cranky and at the end of my rope all the time. Frankly, I was battle weary in a way I hadn't been since she was two. I dreaded getting up in the morning.

I came to the realization that the balance of power needed to shift in a BIG way. She needed to understand that I was in charge and that I wouldn't tolerate this anymore. BUT, I needed to do it in a way that would allow me to discipline her w/ out high emotion but make it consistent too. Sounds like a challenge, huh? I borrowed an idea from the sister of my friend Suzi.

Welcome to "The Last Resort".

What is the Last Resort? One morning last week (when it was only 8:30 and we had already had multiple fights), I decided that she wasn't going to get to have ANYTHING in her room. Nothing but a bed (and I let her keep the pink sheets and not put the white ones on...that is the last resort at the Last Resort).

We moved EVERY SINGLE thing out of her room. All the posters on the wall, all the toys, all the books, all the clothes. EVERYTHING. She has to earn them back. It is nice to have such a clean room. See the pink shelf that used to be full of books, Barbies and Polly Pockets? Gone.

See the desk that used to have paper, crayons, markers and glue. Empty (I even took the chair) and I put them in the closet where the door will remain shut.

All her clothes are gone too (I put mine in her closet and hers in mine). She has to ask me if she wants to change and I get to decide what she will wear...instead of the usual, one-of-us-picks-the-top-and-the-other-picks-the-bottom (to make sure she semi matches). The best part is that I made her do it. I got a bunch of baskets and told her to fill them up and put them in her brother's room. She had to be the little pack horse and believe me, she was crying the whole time. It really made it hit home for her. She was even late for school b/c she was taking so long.

I know this seems drastic and it is, but without relaying the play by play, it was necessary.

The result? We are on day three and it is working. Every minute of the day is spent w/ Lauren trying to do things to earn stuff back. She keeps saying "isn't it great how happy I am being?" "Isn't it wonderful that I am playing with Jacob?" You know what? It IS!!! Instead of us focusing all day on the bad things that are happening, she is fixated on the good. She has already earned back her radio (so she can listen to music at night) and her pretty pillows for her bed (she IS my daughter after all.....home decor is very important). Tomorrow might be the chair for her desk, or the Polly's. We will see.

Harmony is restored, we are having loving words again and I am slowly editing the toys (she will never know). The Last Resort just might have saved our summer.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Of chocolate pretzels and Pirate's Booty

America, I may not make it.

While trying to accomplish the joke that is "staying off my foot" I have done the following things.
1. Done sharing time for Jr. and Sr. Primary
2. Taken Jacob for a surgery
3. Taken Jacob for follow up after surgery
4. Had 3 photo appointments (one was a baptism...Couldn't reschedule)
5. Made an emergency run to Trader Joe's for Unburied Treasure Popcorn and chocolate covered pretzels. These are the only thing that will get me through the week. For those of you w/out a Trader Joes' these are like cheese puffs but they look and taste like popcorn. They melt in your mouth, are perfect for pre chewing toddlers and are my version of crack cocaine.

Not too bad. I have been doing the best I can, but some stuff just can't be rescheduled (like Jacobs surgery.....). My kids are actually driving me nuts (which isn't really surprising because none of us have left the house). I am surprised it took this long for us all to start being irritated with each other. It isn't the little one that I am struggling with, it is the 6 year old. I didn't know that 6 would be so hard. Really. I know that most of it is because I am not feeling on top of things so I am not the most kind and patient mother this week, but seriously...she gets to LEAVE. She should be the happiest one. We are in the middle of clothes battles, food battles and back talk battles. All at the same time. I am also fully aware that they aren't acting any different, I am. That isn't really helping though. Don't let that cute smile fool you. Under those little piggytail's is a child that wants to dress like a Bratz doll, eat nothing but taco chips and tell her mother what she will and will not do. Both kids have been in bed by 6:30 pm this week. I can only get away with this until they understand the concept of time.

The baby is bitter that I have installed a new gate to keep him out of the kitchen (he finally figured out the sliding pocket door....darn it). The kitchen is my oasis and the children are not allowed in unless I say so. The biggest key to being allowed in the kitchen is to be old enough not to get into the kitchen stuff or make me have to babyproof it. I don't want to. The end. The whole toe disaster started because Cubby was getting into something he shouldn't have. I know it would be easier to babyproof the kitchen, but I prefer to buy a gate. This one has bars and he can push things through it. Yesterday he found a magazine and tore each page off, one by one, and pushed them through the bars...........calling "ma ma, ma ma, ma ma" the whole time. America, I didn't budge. I can't keep him from jumping on my foot so he has to stay one one side of the bar and me on the other. I just handed him a pile of magazines and told him to go to it.

Anytime I come near the gate, he holds his hand out like he is trying to flag down a life boat to get off the Titanic. Mostly he forgets he is supposed to be crying and he just watches Go Diego Go. He is currently throwing all his toys over the gate. Too bad for him when all the fun things to play with are on MY side of the gate. Should I play with them in front of him and see how mad he can REALLY get? (just kidding..........)

I will make it until Derek gets home on Saturday night, right? Of course, he leaves again on Sunday night.............

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Because I don't get enough attention....

Have you ever had one of those weeks when there is a 50% / 50% chance that things can go either good OR bad and you always hit the bad? Not really bad stuff, but just little annoying life stuff. For come in the door and set the diaper bag on a chair. If you are having a good week, it will stay there. If you are having a bad week it will teeter on the edge, topple on to the floor and the sippy cup of milk inside it will explode.


You are on the phone with a client and you need to go get your 5 year old from the bus stop and you cut it really close. If you are having a good week, the bus will be a little bit late, but if you are having a bad week, it was 5 minutes early and has already taken your daughter back to school....which means you have to wake the baby up from his nap to go get her.

Yeah. That was my week.

In keeping with the flow of the week.....I was chasing my son and smacked my foot on the edge of the high chair. I heard a SNAP and then collapsed b/c of the pain. I even swore (which my son helpfully mimicked). I knew I had broken a toe. Now, I have broken a toe before and I know there is really nothing that you can do. So I taped it and ignored it. But, because I was having a "bad" week it got worse and worse. Finally when it was so swollen I was a little nervous and even a passing breeze made me wince in pain I went to the Dr. and got an x-ray. It showed that I had broken it right on the joint and need to to be "immobile" for the next 4 weeks or I will need surgery to put a pin in it. (So much fuss for a toe?). I was laughing so hard I think I actually snorted. Did I need to mention that I have TWO kids and a husband that will be in New York for three of the next four weeks? If I don't stay off it after all that time, I will have to have the surgery anyway......


So, if anyone wants to come over and feed me peeled grapes while they chase my kids and do my laundry, the key is under the mat. Otherwise, I will let you know when the surgery is............