Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Dos and Don'ts of Abdominal Surgery

Since I had my very first (and hopefully only) abdominal surgery on 12-21, I am now an expert on all things related to both the abdomen and surgery (I am a blogger, that's how this works - we blog therefore we know).

And because I know my legions (i.e. 90) blog followers look to me for guidance and wisdom (/sarcasm), I have decided to compile a list of the Dos and Don'ts of abdominal surgery. Maybe you'll be able to sense a theme. Enjoy.

DO shave your legs the day before (or morning of) surgery. It'll be awhile before you'll be able to do that again, and the less time your legs have for reforestation, the better.

DON'T wear shoes with laces to the hospital. Slippers all the way. It's easier on you and your surgery buddy (in my case, my husband).

DO go shopping the day/night before and stock up on supplies. DO buy smaller containers of milk as you will not be able to life a gallon post surgery and won't want to ask someone to fix you a bowl of cereal every morning.

DO buy Jamie Lee Curtis' pooping yogurt. Just do it.

DON'T wait to take your stool softeners. Take them as prescribed. Just trust me. Especially if you're using your painkillers regularly.

DON'T drink a half a bottle of laxative even if your surgeon tells you it's a good idea. It is not.
DO get a heating pad. It is like heaven.

DON'T watch funny or overly sad movies during recovery. Laughing and crying hurt - and then you'll be quite sore the next day.

DO try and get someone to watch your kids (if you have them) for a few days after surgery. Especially if they're little. They'll have more fun and you'll get some time to relax.

DO take post surgery belly pictures so you can gross out your friends on facebook. Or not, this one isn't as imperative as the others.

DO invest in baggy pajama pants, even if that means stealing some from your husband/boyfriend/partner/brother/father/etc. Loose dresses also work if you're into dresses. I lived in pajama pants for almost a week and was a little sad to make the switch back into normal clothes.

DO attempt to walk as much as possible. It will be uncomfortable, but sitting in the ER looking 5 months pregnant and having them tell you there's nothing they can do for you (after two bad IV sticks, an ultrasound, and an x-ray) is much more uncomfortable than pacing the living room post surgery.

And finally, DO give yourself time to heal. Recovery sucks, so stock up on your favorite movies/TV shows and watch them as you walk circles into your carpet in an attempt to get all the CO2 out of your abdominal cavity. Let people wait on you a little. Take up knitting.

Tomorrow is 7 days post-op and I'm finally feeling almost normal. I still need to watch what I lift/carry but I've weaned myself off the narcotic pain killers and am just taking Ibuprofen for pain. I'm hoping that I'll be 100% by the time the semester starts in a week & a half. The kids have mostly adjusted to a sick mama, but Griffin still wants to be held occasionally. We compromise by sitting side by side on the couch and snuggling - he's quite the snuggler. I'll be sad when he looses that - one of my favorite things in the world is when he wraps his arms around me and whispers "I love you mama."

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


December has been busy and it's only going to get busier. Well, possibly.

We started the month with Penelope's birthday, then had a dance recital, finals week, a cookie decorating party, and Friday - a surgery (mine).

So let's start at the top.

Penny's birthday party was the 1st weekend of December. It was small, but fun. We did a Reading Rainbow Theme and I made rainbow colored cake pops, hung oodles of streamers, and had dozens of balloons. I bought foam bookmarks and door hangers and the guests decorated them with various foam shapes. I wish I had pictures of the adults decorating, it was rather amusing.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
As you can see, my 1st attempt at cake pops was rather... well, terrible.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
But the end product looked pretty nice. Bryan painted the cake pop holder for me.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Here's the birthday girl with the Bubs.

After the party we went to see a movie and it's then that I started feeling rather unwell. I'd been diagnosed with gallstones ages ago, but had been able to control it with diet... no longer. That night I went into the ER and, after a comedy of errors, finally made it home at 4am to get some sleep.

My favorite part of the night (they really need to develop a sarcasm font) was when I had to drive from Salinas to Marina to get my pain medication prescription filled. In the rain. That was fun.

I wasn't feeling well the next day, so we stayed in a decorated the tree. While my parents are live tree advocates, I'm quite happy with our fake tree. The kid were too:

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

I took that Monday off from work to visit the doctor and was quickly referred to a surgeon. My consultation was on the 17th and my surgery is now scheduled for the 21st. It's outpatient and will hopefully be quick and uneventful. My parents will take the kids for a few days (thank goodness they're out here!) and we're going to see how I'm feeling on Sunday before we decide what to do for Christmas. I'd hate to miss out on the festivities, but I'm no sure how I'll recover - so we'll play it by ear.

Fortunately we were still able to have our annual cookie decorating party, complete with Star Wars cookies:

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App

Both kids were much more involved than last year and we all had a good time. This was the second year we've thrown this party (but not the second year of cookies, we've done that every year for as long as I can remember).

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
This is a just a small section of the drying cookies.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Griffin's "masterpiece"

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
I honestly don't know what I was thinking. But I can't "bear" to eat it now.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
Here's a very goofy Bubs being... very goofy... as he decorates cookies.

Speaking of Bubby, 3 of the last 4 nights he's woken up dry! I'm so proud of him.

I had more I wanted to type, but I took a pain pill earlier and they make me loopy, so it's off to bed for me!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

An Impomptu Conversation about Gay Marriage

Today while Bryan and Griffin took the dog for a walk, Penelope and I stayed at home and played with her Horde of Dolls (HD). For her birthday she got a dozen Disney Princess dolls from my parents and has enjoyed changing their clothes and making them fight dragons.

While we were playing today, she wanted them all to get married. And since they're all Disney Princesses, they all have Princes... I'm not quite comfortable with that, for a variety of reasons.

I know that her obsession with Princesses is a stage. As is her obsession with marriage. Bryan and I are married, so are her Granny and Grandpa. Her daycare provider is married. A significant number of the adults in her life are married and it's natural that she would replicate the relationships she sees in her imaginary play.

And while I have a number of friends with same sex partners (some married, some not married), we don't see these people as often as I'd like. So I worry, because that's what I do.

I worry that the prevailing cultural attitudes towards women & LGBTQI2-S will be stronger than the message they get at home. I see this in her insistence that pink is "only for girls" and some things are "only for boys" - and while we work at home to change that, it's an uphill battle to fight against the message she gets a daycare, on TV, and even in books.

Bryan and I have had multiple conversations about our parental goals. We want our kids to be happy and healthy. College? Would be great, but it isn't necessary, our kids can be productive members of society without a BA/MA/PhD. Politics? They don't have to vote the same way we do, the just need to vote. Religion? While I do hope my children are Atheists (like we are) we will support them if they decide to join a religious or spiritual group.

But I will consider myself a failure of a parent if my children don't support equality for all people.

And so, when Penelope insists that all her Princesses marry Princes, I can't just let it be. Here's what that conversation look like:

Our conversation...

 And then, after we talk, Mulan and Snow White exchange their vows...

The Wedding

Love, Love, Love. Love is all you need.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

20 Questions for the Birthday Girl

This is idea I stole from many other mommies. The object is to ask your child the same series of 20 questions on their birthdays and see how things change (or stay the same!). I meant to do it last year, but never got around to it. So here's the 1st one for Penelope... hopefully I'm on the ball and get Griffin's started in 2013 for his 3rd birthday.
1. What is your favorite color?   ummmmm.... pink
2. What is your favorite toy?   Rapunzel doll
3. What is your favorite fruit?   melon
4. What is your favorite tv show?   My Little Pony
5. What is your favorite thing to eat for lunch?   macaroni and cheese
6. What is your favorite outfit?   my owl shirt
7. What is your favorite game?   Tangeled (it's a LeapPad game)
8. What is your favorite snack?   apple
9. What is your favorite animal?   giraffe (laughs) giraffes are so funny
10. What is your favorite song?   The Little Mermaid song (A Part of Your World for those not in the know).
11. What is your favorite book?   The Little Mermaid
12. Who is your best friend?   Hailey (a girl from daycare)
13. What is your favorite cereal?   Life cereal
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?   riding bicycles
15. What is your favorite drink?   milk
16. What is your favorite holiday?   ummm....hmmm... Spring
17. What do you like to take to bed with you at night?   dolls (and by dolls, she does mean multiple objects... like all of them)
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?   Cheerios
19. What do you want for dinner on your birthday?   a sandwich
20. What do you want to be when you grow up?   an Astronaut... or Alice (from Alice in Wonderland).

It was actually a lot of fun to sit and do these with her. She gave them a lot of thought and was very proud of the completed sheet. I'll have to place it in her "yearbook" or start some sort of scrapbook for them. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Happy Birthday Baby

Today Penelope is 4. My sweet and silly sissy is now so grown up, that she often talks about things that "happened when I was a little kid" - things like our family pictures last year, or when we lived in Sacramento, or even things that happened last week. Nearly everything in the past is described as an event that happened when she was "little" which is both charming and hilarious.
PhotobucketIt's also a sign that she has rather clear grasp of a linear timeline. She can also articulate things that will happen in the future using appropriate (albeit) amusing vocabulary. Example: "Mommy, when I'm a bigger kid I'll go to Kindergarten and teach my students."

I've already talked about how tall she is for her age - but she's also advanced in other ways. She can identify and draw parallel lines (she does call them parallel lines), horizontal, and vertical lines. She talks about organic shapes.  She can tell you what primary colors are and how to make other colors from primary colors (thank you Mr. Pencil Saves Doodleberg).
She can do some basic math (2 people plus 1 person = 3 people... she can do this with concrete objects, not yet with abstract numbers).

She's becoming quite the artist and can draw a multitude of objects, most of which actually resemble the things she's drawing.

She's got her name down, and can copy anything we write.

She can put together complex puzzles (think 48+ pieces). She knows we live on the planet Earth and can pick it out on a map of the solar system. She can also identify the Sun, Mars, the Moon, and Jupiter. She wants to become an astronaut after she graduates from Kindergarten (yes, she really said that).
penny-recital1She has a dozen or so sight words but isn't quite reading independently. She has almost 80% of our book collection memorized. And we have A LOT of books.

Once she hears a song, she can remember a significant chunk of the song/lyrics, even after hearing it just once. With songs she already knows well, she'll make up new words to the song.

She loves ballet and actually pays attention for a full 45 minute class - which is amazing because I have 15 or so highs school students who can't pay attention for that long.


She is super sweet and sensitive. The other day, in a rare moment of defiance, she told me she wasn't going to take a bath. When I gently but firmly escorted her into her room to get ready for said bath, she turned to me, and with big tears in her eyes said "Mommy, I'm sorry I talked back to you." Then she gave me a huge hug.

5a65d2bc, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad AppWhen she didn't want to sit on my lap during the holiday parade in downtown, I made an exaggerated frowny face and she scrunched up her face, came over to me, gave me a hug, and said "I'm so sorry I made you sad Mommy." To which I replied "Oh my sweet Sissy, you didn't make Mommy sad, I love you." And she replied, "I love you too Mommy, you're the best Mommy I ever had. The best Mommy in the whole world."

She loves her brother even though he exasperates her (and lets be real, who doesn't that child exasperate?)

She always uses her manners. She is thoughtful, welcoming, loving, goofy, and warm. She is amazing and we are so very lucky to be her parents.

So happy birthday baby girl. You came into this world quietly with your eyes wide open and changed our lives. You give 100% of yourself every day to whatever it is you're doing - you love almost everyone and you love them without reservations. We love you with all our hearts, and you inspire love in others as well.

Here are some of my favorite past posts about Pen. Enjoy!
Penelope's birth story
Penelope's birth slideshows (actual pictures of birth and breastfeeding).
Peanut Penny
Bats for snack

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Shoulda Named her Penthesilea

Look it up ;)

Today was Penelope's annual well-child visit and she is practically perfect in every way. She may have some seasonal allergies, so we're going to try children's Claratin and see if it helps. Other than that, she's healthy and on or above where she should be.

She impressed her Ped by writing her name without prompting and drawing a heart (it can be argued that she draws a better heart than most of my 9th grade students. Seriously). I credit both Mr. Pencil Saves Doodleberg & her daycare for giving her plenty of opportunity to practice drawing. She does have some natural talent (Bryan is, after all, an artist) and we do encourage her to draw and write at home. Luckily for us, she loves to practice drawing objects and practice spelling words.

She took her flu shot like a champ. Some crying, but it was over quickly and she was able to comfort her brother who also received the flu shot (amusing side note, the nurse initially brought in the 3+ year old vaccine for him, thinking he was over 3). Next year she gets 4!!!! shots. Not looking forward to that one.

She's 41.0 pound and 43.5 inches. Here's a link to a growth chart for Caucasian females.

Notice that the "average" height is around 40 inches. Penelope's height places her above the chart for her age, although that just means that she's taller than 95% of girls her age, not that she's a giantess.

She's always been tall (well, except at birth I guess, Griffin was our Stretch-Armstrong) and if this trend continues - and we have no reason to believe it won't, she's been in this percentile for a very long time - then she may end up being close to 6 feet tall. Hello volleyball!

In other Squish-erella related news, her Winter Dance Recital is in 2 weeks. It's pretty informal, but she's still really excited about it. I'm also looking into preschools for next year, although (and I know I've debated this before) if her day-care is doing a lot of preschool curriculum, then it doesn't make a ton of financial sense to put her into preschool. I'll keep looking into it, but we haven't decided exactly what we want to do.

I do know that I want to try and get her into a really wonderful Charter school in Monterey... the bilingual school in our area doesn't have full-day Kinder, and we really need her to be in full-day Kinder once she's old enough. This place does have full day, PLUS they have an amazing curriculum that is WAY ahead of the curve. I think she'd thrive there.

In holiday related news, the kids do have gift "wish lists". Please do not feel obligated to get the kids a gift this holiday season. However, if you choose to - I can guarantee that they would love and play with very single item on their list. If you prefer to get clothing, Griffin is in a 3T, Penelope is in a 6.

Griffin's List
Penelope's List

Diva Penelope - Photobucket won't let me reduce the size. Annoying.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

I haven't posted in almost a month...

And so much has happened!

My parents moved from Sacramento to Scotts Valley (they are now 45 minutes away instead of 3+ hours), and before the move my mom lived with for a month until my parents found housing in the Santa Cruz area. It was nice having her here, the kids got to kiss Granny goodnight each night and Griffin really enjoying going downstairs in the morning to hang out with Granny as she got ready for work.

In the month of October Griffin reached 100% day-potty-training (wait, did I already cover this?) and we haven't had an accident in quite awhile. I must say, it is GLORIOUS not to have to change diapers. It is also wonderful to keep only an emergency pair of undies and pants in the car instead of carting around the diaper bag. In the last few months we've gotten rid of the diapers, diaper bag, and strollers, and it's been bittersweet. Mostly sweet.

G won't let us eliminate all vestages of baby-hood however. He's still in night-diapers and still wakes up once a night and crawls into bed with us. He quickly falls back asleep, although he HAS taken to trying to suffoate Bryan every night by sleeping on his head. It's something we need to work on, but neither one of us has the energy to tackle it yet. Maybe over Winter Break.

They're both doing well at daycare, Penelope keeps asking to go to school - and we're hoping to be able to send her to pre-school next year, but it depends on a host of factors. The major factor is, of course, cost. But we'll keep trying to figure out how to swing it. The pre-school I want to send her to is a Spanish immersion school, and I think she'd do well.

She's still dancing and Griffin is still in gymnastics. I do have some video of her last ballet class, but I need to youtube it so I can post it here. It's on my phone.

Squish is also making some pretty amazing drawings. She's better at coloring inside the lines than my Freshmen students (seriously) and her free-hand drawing is both creative and colorful. She'll literally spend hours at the kitchen table coloring/drawing.

As for me, work is good but hectic. I've taken on a lot this year and while I love a lot of what I'm doing, it takes a significant amount of time to get it all done. This year has also been my year for students-in-crisis. I've made 2 mandated reporter calls already and have spent a fair amount of time drying the eyes of some of my students. I'm glad they feel they can come to me, even if I loathe paperwork. That's what I'm here for afterall...

Ok, time to get back to lesson planning. I hope to be able to upload the videos I have later this week and post them.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Things English Teachers Notice

Or ECE teachers... or speech therapists...

Before I became a teacher - especially a teacher who works with long-term English Language Learners - there are few things I may have never noticed about my children's language development that I now find both fascinating and wonderful.

Penelope has become ever increasingly articulate. She discusses past events with (mostly) proper past tense (i.e. adding the 'ed' ending, she has some irregular verbs down, but not all), present events with present tense (sometimes confusing verb forms - like "I has" instead of "I have"), and future events with future tense (i.e. 'ing' endings).

She also has a significant number of her books memorized, so she "reads" them to us at night, which is both fun and absolutely adorable. I'll have to try and videotape it tomorrow.

She's also become more logical. She can see cause & effect (well, not all the time), and is getting better at solving problems - both simple and complex. She can spell some simple words, so Bryan and I have to be quick when we spell-talk. She's got her name down pat, can write it and spell it verbally. She can also spell "happy" and most of "birthday" (can you tell we have a lot of family with fall birthdays?). She's amazingly creative, draws free-hand recognizable objects and is almost as good coloring within the lines as I am.

I'm really looking forward to when she starts Kinder... I wish they would let her start next year, since I think she's ready. I've even gone over the new Kinder Common Core standards and she's got many of them down already. I know she's going to love school!!

Surprisingly enough, or perhaps, unsurprisingly (if you work in Education),  there are some striking similarities in what my daughter can do with language and what my students can do with language...

And the more I notice the similarities between my preschooler and my students, the more I am filled with both sadness and resolve. Resolve because I want to do everything I can to prepare my students for life outside of high school - not just college or the workforce, but also to buy homes, cars, or start businesses. And sadness because my almost 4 year old has a better command of proper tenses than some of my 16 year old students.

There are a lot of reasons why my long term ELL students struggle so much with grammar. The English language has some pretty weird grammar rules; it is one of the hardest languages to learn (no, really - check out this link!). Many of my ELL students only speak English at school, which limits the amount of practice they get (and, if you're one of those who say their parents should just "learn English already", please refer to the above link - then go live in Poland and learn how to speak Polish without access to language classes... if you're not willing to do that, then stop the nonsensical demands on people who don't have the resources to gain a full command of the language YOU can barely speak.)

ANYWAY, another reason many of my students do not have mastery of English is because we do not have the resources in place to really address language gaps. Teachers work as hard as they can, with the resources they have, to be as effective as possible. It isn't easy. It IS getting better though - a lot of the training I've received in the last year & change has made me a much more effective teacher, especially when it comes to addressing gaps in language acquisition.

I could go on - because there are many more factors that contribute to the language gaps between my ELL students and my English only students (although, to be honest, I see significant language deficiencies in many of my EO students. This is also due to a number of complex factors).

Regardless of how you slice it, there is a large number of children in California (and in the US) who will graduate from high schools with significant language gaps that will likely be detrimental to their economic prospects. And these gaps will likely be repeated in their own children.

Potty Training, part deux

I can't remember the last time I talked about potty training. I think it was last month... So I figured we're due for an update.

Penelope has been fully trained for almost a year. She started right before her 3rd birthday and was day trained in a few weeks, night trained 2 months after her birthday. I can't remember the last time she had an accident, but the child has a bladder like a steel trap. I'm pretty sure her bladder is larger than mine.

Griffin decided to start PT'ing midway through last month. Or rather, I sort of decided to start PT'ing. He had (yet another) rash and so we did undies at night, which turned into undies during the day. (Side note: while both kids did get the occasional rash when we were using cloth diapers, Griffin's rashes became much more frequent AND much more severe in disposables. Also? Diaper companies are increasing the size/visibility of the "dump the poop in disposables" notice on diaper boxes. Just another plug for cloth.)

The first week of PT'ing was a laundry-fest. We (meaning Bryan) did a load of laundry every day... the second week was much better. Third week we were having days with NO accidents (woot!) and this week has been quite good. The biggest challenge was getting him to poop on the potty - yesterday he finally told me that his "butt hurt" and then pooped on the potty. So I'm hopeful that in the next few weeks I'll be able to say that we're fully day-trained - possibly right around the time of his 2 1/2 "birthday" on the 16th.

He did wake up dry this morning, but I won't hold my breath for night-training anytime soon. Maybe after his 3rd birthday. But I am so happy to be done with diapers during the day.

This is one of the remnants of childhood that I will not be sad to see pass. Potty training and teething are two things that I can leave happily behind me, even as I mourn for other baby-related stages we won't see again.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Bryan and I are talking and then...

Penelope: (interrupting) Daddy, that doesn't make any sense.
Bryan: What? What doesn't make sense?
Penelope: You, you're not making any sense.
Bryan: What?

Hilarious I tell you, hilarious.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Stuff I posted on Facebook but feel the need to document on the blog

The other day I talked about the possibility of starting potty training for the Bubs.

Well, his rash necessitated a naked/undies night which necessitated a lot of jellybean bribing in order to keep the carpet dry. And that lead to an undies morning - which lead to an undies day - and the whole thing snowballed into a now-I-guess-we're-really-potty-training-someone-get-me-a-drink.

He did throw an epic tantrum this morning when deciding whether or not he was going to wear undies or a diaper. Hopefully we don't have anymore like that. But now that we've started we're not going to stop...

There were at least 3 accidents at daycare today, he still doesn't tell us when he has to go. BUT he was dry from 3pm until bedtime and went potty every time we asked him, which is good. He gets a jellybean each time he goes, and I am soooooo not above bribing.

I would LOVE it if he was PT'ed (at least day-trained) before his 2 1/2 "birthday." I'm not holding my breath, but that does give us a month - which is doable.

In other news, Penelope has a new imaginary friend. His name is Phineas, he's 3, and a robot (he can remove his head, pretty cool, huh?). Pen holds his hand around the house, talks to him all the time, they sleep in the same bed, he eats right next to her, and she likes to narrate his every move. It's cute, although slightly obnoxious because Phineas is very needy.

Oh, the Squish is also sick, poor thing. Just a runny nosy and fever (for the most part) so hopefully the OTC meds we gave her tonight will mean she wakes up feeling better. She's a much better patient than the Bubs, so hopefully he doesn't get it.

And now for work. I'd much rather be sleeping, but duty calls. I have sub plans and a Rite of Passage assessment to write. Fun fun fun!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

To keep on or give up?

I have talked about weight here, here, and here but to get you up to speed (nah, too long, to sum up) I have been trying, since Griffin's birth, to get back to my pre-baby size.

As of this moment, I am exactly 7lbs away.

And to be honest, I'm trying to decide if it's really worth it to loose the 7lbs.

At my skinniest, I was a size 6 and could fit into some size 4s, depending. Which is pretty darn thin. But it was also a lot of work.

Currently I'm a size 8. And I have a whole closet full of size 8 & 10 dresses and pants that I like.

So while a part of me would love to be back to the same size I was when I was 26, another part of me thinks a 31 (next week!) year old, mother of 2, who is a size 8 and can have the occasional cookie or glass of wine and still fit into her work-clothes the next day is pretty d@mnm good.

Granted, I still need to work a bit more exercise into my routine. And I still need to eat well. But maybe I'll stop actively dieting. Maybe. I don't want to end up looking like I did when I was at my heaviest (I really didn't like living in my own skin then - and if you want to see pics, click on the 1st link). I was a size 20 then.

I go back and forth on this question daily (usually around lunch-time). Maybe next year, once both kids are potty trained, we'll look into joining a gym again and we can all go and be active... it's just hard to find time, and harder to make myself make time. I know being active is what's going to keep me healthy (as well as help me maintain my weight), but by the time the kids are in bed I'm so completely unmotivated to do anything other than watch Dr Who or work (although, in my defense, Dr Who is awesome AND if I didn't work at night I wouldn't be able to get the bulk of my grading OR planning done... teaching high school English will eat all of your time).

Speaking of which, I should really be planning for next week - I have a sub plan to write and a project rubric to design.

Old Post, New Pic

So in 2009 I posted this blog comparing a website's prediction to a picture of Penelope

Since the website's prediction of our daughter was a child of 3, and since Penelope is currently 3 1/2, I figured it would be fun to post the pic again with a recent one of her.

So again, the website's prediction picture:

And here's Penelope today:

So, what do you think?

note: I will never, ever, ever brain Pen's hair like the computer generated picture. Ever.

Potty Training

Other than teething, I don't think there's anything I hate more than potty training. And I may hate PT'ing more than teething, but they don't happen at the same time so it's difficult to truly gauge my level of hatred for each.

As I navigate the ever-deeper waters of parenting, I may very well find something I despise more than teething AND potty training. These things just tend to escalate - otherwise no one would ever become parents. Imagine recovering from childbirth only to find your newborn sneaking out of the bassinet to go to a cast party dressed as a slutty Kardashian sister (note: all of them dress like hookers... this is where the feminist in me recoils, but being a feminist doesn't mean I have to condone silly, vapid people dressing like sexy halloween kittens in May). The human race would never survive.

Anyway. Griffin has a rash. Another rash. He is the rashy-est (rashiest? rashyist?) child I have ever birthed. Which, comparatively doesn't really mean much, BUT he's rather rashy for any child. So I guess that would have been a better way to start.

He's just very rashy.
(note: spell-check doesn't recognize that word. Spell-check was invented by the childless)

His skin has always been sensitive, and his rashes have gotten worse since he's been in disposables, but cloth isn't an option with our daycare and since he's almost 2 1/2, part of me is seriously considering potty training - especially since he asks to wear underwear (although he doesn't tell us when he has to go, only after and only sometimes).

Only I loathe potty training.

At this point it's almost an irrational loathing, like the one I have for pregnancy... because Penelope was actually rather easy to PT (took a few weeks, handful of accidents, night-trained in 2 months) and both my pregnancies were a breeze compared to what many (most) other women experience (no serious morning sickness, no cramping, very little heartburn, only one episode of sciatica pain, few stretchmarks, short labors). So one would think that with relatively positive experiences with both pregnancy and potty training, that I should be rather positive when it comes to both.

One would think that, and one would be wrong. Very, very wrong.

I honestly have no idea where my intense feelings regarding potty training come from. Maybe I've repressed memories from my childhood that are currently haunting me in adulthood (childhood trauma is also why I refuse to iron, hate blow drying my hair, and refuse to vacuum stairs. And by "trauma" I mean "stubbornness"). But I'm pretty sure my potty training was relatively uneventful. I mean, I'm assuming my parents would have made some comment about it if it had been horrific.

So I'm left to speculate about the origins of my fierce hatred for all thing potty training.

And I do SO enjoy speculating.

Although that will have to wait for another post, since I wanted to discuss Bubby.

So blog-world... if you had an almost 2 1/2 year old who asks to wear undies, doesn't tell you before he pees, gets horrible diaper rash every few months, and who has an older sister who potty trained at 3 - would you start serious potty training?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I have a ton of witty things to blog about

But considering my short term memory has gone to hell since school started back up, you won't get to hear any of them.

Most of them had to do with the kids, something funny about parenting, or just me being my normally hilarious self. So just pretend I amused you and then read this.

Griffin has recently entered the "F-You Mother" stage of being 2. It's like the teenage "F-You World" stage, only 80% of the time it's directed at me, and he's still cute so it's mostly amusing. Also, it's only a part-time stage (unlike the teenage stage) and so he's still willing to give me hugs & kisses, and still demands to be held on occasion. These are the reasons why he's still living with us and hasn't been shipped off to toddler boarding school or sold to gypsies (excuse me, Romas).

This stage has three important steps that define it:
1. Refusal to do any simple task which he would have gladly performed last week
2. Crossed arms when mommy counts to three and a look that is intended to kill, but only makes me laugh
3. A loud and indignant "I will!" just as I reach the number 2, barely preventing him from sitting in a time out

There are secondary characteristics, but they're too numerous to mention. Although he did attempt to distract me from his inappropriate behavior in the car the other day. As we were driving and he was spitting on himself (yes, you read that correctly) he loudly proclaimed "look mama, a bus!" and pointed out the window just as I had finished scolding him about spitting but before I could start counting.

Granted, he did voluntarily relinquish his sippy when I asked him "do I need to take your sippy away so you stop spitting?" And that shows a considerable amount of self-awareness for a 2 year old and actually made me quite proud of him.

He's also started to get rather possessive of things - namely his sister. "Dat's MY Delpi!" (read: That's my Penelope) or "No, my dit-dee" (read: No, my sissy).

While he can also be possessive of Bryan and I, odds are he's more concerned that people understand the Pen is his, so keep that in mind you dirty sister stealer.

Perhaps I am exaggerating. But I rarely do that.

The kids are still amazingly fond of each other, and I am amazed at how well they get along. Granted, they will still fight, but they stick up for one another, generally play well together, and are quite affectionate. I wish I wasn't too lazy to upload one of their latest hugging pictures... but I AM too lazy. Perhaps later. Once school is over.

Speaking of school, I must say that I love my job. LOVE. But this year is already exhausting. At the beginning of the school year I told myself that next year, after BTSA is over and I've cleared my credential - and after evaluations are over and I've gotten tenure - that next year would not be so completely and utterly draining. I was lying to myself. Next year, and every year that I work in education - will be exhausting. I'll rest when I'm dead, n'est-ce pas?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Born to Dance

I often wonder what my children will be like, what they will do, and how they will act as adults. Usually my day-dream adult children are rock-stars or baseball players, but in reality, Bryan and I would be completely content with financially independent children who don't live in our basement and have college educations.

However it would not surprise me if Penelope ended up as a ballerina and Griffin decided that he was going to make a living as an edgy street-dancer (provided he was financially independent and not living in our basement) because they both seem born to dance. Although if I'm being completely honest, perhaps ballerina isn't the right word for Penelope's dance style - she's more like Elaine from "Seinfeld" than Prima Ballerina in Nutcracker. She did invent a dance of her own, called the "P.A.C." (if you've seen Nemo a million times then you know where that came from) and it's a combination of pseudo karate moves and the Can-Can.

One day I will stop laughing long enough to take a video. It's cute. It's adorable. It's also hilarious.

You know what else is funny? A break-dancing 2 year old. Especially one in knickers, suspenders, and a bow-tie.

I really wish I had video of last night. I know one is out there, there were videographers & photographers at the wedding - so somewhere there is evidence of my children's dance-related wedding antics. And so hopefully one day I will get my hands on said evidence and be able to share it with you so we can all be amused at my children's unique interpretation of "dancing".

They had fun. A lot of fun. And Griffin kept his suspenders on all night. They danced with just about everyone brave enough to share the dance floor with them, and gave everyone they met on the way out a hug goodnight.

They also made a new friend - Tigist, who was the flower girl and is about a year older than Poe. The three of them had a wonderful time together. In fact, Penelope and Tigis got married a few time this weekend, the first time was at the rehearsal dinner. Plus the two of them adopted a "baby" (i.e. a doll) so now Bryan and I are proud grandparents.

And let me say this - being a grandparent is oodles easier than being a parent. Especially if said grandchild is made of plastic.

It was really a wonderful long weekend, minor tantrum at Security in San Jose aside. Tomorrow is the plane trip home, so hopefully it will be uneventful.

It was nice to see B's family - it's been about a year since we've seen most of them (6-ish months since we've seen his Dad & stepmom) & longer for some. The kids really enjoyed spending time with their cousins - it's so cliche (but so true) that they're all growing up so fast. I remember when Gadge was Penny's age and now he's in the 3rd grade. Crazy. We often wish we lived closer, but - while I love my inlaws - you couldn't pay me to live in Wyoming. I hate snow. And gusty wind.

This has been a rambly post, hasn't it? But hey, at least it's a post. Since school has started it's been hard to fine the time & energy to blog.

....and the Bubs is up from his nap. Time to sign off.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bad Songs

So the other day I came across this blog post about 10 songs kids love, but shouldn't.

Here's the list (in case you don't want to check out the link).
1. Starships by Nicki Minaj
2. Can You Blow my Whistle by Flo Rida
3. Tik Tok by Ke$ha
4. Party Rock Anthem by LMFAO
5. Wild Ones by Flo Rida
6. Single Runaway by Kanye West
7. Glad You Came by Wanted
8. Somebody That I Used to Know by Goyte
9. Domino by Jesse J
10. Scream by Usher

Here's what I have to say (like you, or anyone else cares, but that's why I have a blog).

1. Why is anyone listening to Nicki Minaj? This is a serious question.

2. Anyone who lets their children list to FLO RIDA needs parenting classes STAT. Are you freaking kidding me? Flo Rida? Of *course* he's on the list twice. Just give him one spot for "all songs" and free up some space, will ya?

3. Yeah, that song is pretty bad. Some of her songs are less bad, but Ke$ha is one naughty young lady and most of her songs are pretty inappropriate for kids.

4. I've heard a rumor there's a "clean" version of this song. I need to find it because (and I only slightly hesitate to admit this), I kinda like LMFAO.

5. See #2 - this second Flo Rida spot could have been taken up with Lady Gaga's "Love Games". I don't want Penelope to sing about taking a ride on a dildo stick, pleaseandthankyou.

6. I haven't heard this song, so I'm assuming she's right about this one. But it's Kanye West, when has he EVER been known to be appropriate for kids?

7. "Glad You Came" should not be on the list. You know what should? "Last Friday Night" by Katy Perry. Have you listened to the lyrics? It glorifies substance abuses, causal sex, and being a f*cking twit.

Don't get me wrong. I let my kids listen to Katy Perry - but not her entire lexicon. Her songs are catchy and it's 1 million times better than that horrible Kidz Bop crap (if you buy Kidz Bop and are my friend then let it be known that you are dead to me. I can be friends with Republicans, the religious, Bears fans, and even the odd Dodgers fan. But not someone who profanes the ears of their children with Kidz Bop).

The point is? I would much, much, much rather my children listen to "Glad You Came", thinking the drink he's handing her is juice or milk than have my kids know the words to Perry's "Last Friday Night."

8. Here's another one that doesn't deserve the list. The blogger calls it stalker-ish. I think she needs to listen to The Police's "Every Breath You Take". Because *that* is what a stalker song sounds like. Not Goyte's break-up anthem.

9. Who is Jesse J and why do her parents let her dress like a hooker? How old is she? 12?

10. Yeah, parents who let their kids listen to this song need some classes. There are Usher songs that are ok, so it's not an Usher thing, just a this-song-thing.

I remember when I was a kid, we used to listen to George Michael's "I Want Your Sex" & Elton John's "The B*tch is Back" - only my parents would change the lyrics as we sang in the car. Neither my brother or I turned out too badly.

I get not wanting to listen to Yo-Gabba-Gabba & The Fresh Beat Band all day (especially The Fresh Beat Band). And I *especially* get not wanting to subject yourself to the drivel of Kidz Bop (see #7). So listen to original works - listen to pop, rock, country, R&B, bluegrass, gospel, even rap. Listen away. Expose your kids to a little bit of everything - just not Flo Rida. Please.

And change the channel. Because they may just be songs. And you may not think it matters - but kids absorb a lot. We communicate social norms, values, and behaviors through song. We've done so since humanity was born. We should all just be a little more aware of what are kids are absorbing...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Let's talk about Pre-K

My own back to school preparations have gotten me thinking about how, sooner rather than later, Sissy & Bubby will be joining me in B2S shopping and planning.

So the other day I went down to the Elementary school district to get some information. You might think a teacher would know about all of this stuff. Enrollment, age requirements, etc. You might think this, but you would be wrong - oh-so-wrong. I know next to nothing about when and where to sign my kids up for school. Well, I do now.


I know that the age cutoff for Kindergarten in this district is Nov 5th, so Penelope will start a year later than I had hoped - she'll be in Kinder in 2 years.

The question that remains is if/when she'll start Pre-K... last year B & I thought we might not want to put her in Pre-K, but since we're planning on putting both kids into a Spanish Immersion school, we figured it would be a good idea to put her in a Spanish Pre-K. The same school that offers a K-6 dual immersion program also offers Spanish language pre-school. So next year we'll be enrolling her in a part-time Pre-K Spanish language program.

Enrollment opens February, and then we decide if we want to put her in M-F or T/Th or MWF. Lots of options... Our decision will partly hinge on finances - daily pre-school is more expensive than the part-time and we'll still need her in part-time daycare, so we'll see. But I am excited that she'll be in a Spanish language program.

Then the year she start Kinder, Bubby will start at the Spanish pre-K. They'll both attend dual immersion K-6, you actually have to make a 7 year commitment to the program in order to be accepted. Provided I get tenure after this year, we feel like we can make that commitment - I think dual language education is so essential. The kids can take additional languages in high school but we're going to do everything we can to make sure they're fluent in Spanish.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

This or That - part II

I have always wanted a big family. Not Duggar family big, but larger than 2 kids. When I was a kid, I used to dream about buying a huge house and adopting children with AIDS and then showering them with love until they passed - when I was growing up AIDS was still a death sentence. Aannnnnddd I was also a smidge naive.

I no longer harbor a desire to foster a huge house of children - maybe when I retire :) But there is still a part of me that very much wants to adopt.

I think it's no secret that I didn't really enjoy pregnancy. Even though I had very easy pregnancies, they weren't exactly the most enjoyable 80 weeks of my life. Don't get me wrong, parts of pregnancy are pleasant. But nausea, back pain, kicks in the ribs, kicks in the bladder, and feeling like a beached whale aren't my favorite pregnancy memories.

I've also just gotten my body (mostly) back. No child is nursing, I've lost the bulk of my baby weight, and my hips have *sort* of returned to where they used to be. I will never have the same skin elasticity in some places like I used to, and my hips may never return to pre-baby width, getting back to pre-pregnancy weight was difficult. Do I want to do that again? I mean, the kids are worth it, but I did just get a new wardrobe of size 8 dresses...

Even though pregnancy and all its associated "body modifications" aren't really that enjoyable, delivery is. Yes, this makes me odd. But I loved labor. It was difficult. It was painful. It was amazing. And there's a part of me that would love to experience that again.

It would also be nice to actually plan a pregnancy. Neither Penelope nor Griffin were planned (PSA: birth control is not 100% effective). We've never experienced all various stages of planning. The anticipation, excitement... although I imagine that the adoption process would be full of these emotions - and more :)

The thought of never adopting makes my heart heavy. And the thought of never giving birth again makes me sad as well. And again, we don't have to make this decision today. We don't even have to make this decision this year. But I think about this a lot and it's nice to get this all out.

I do have another post planned but may not have time this week. Next week I start work in earnest and the week after I get my students. Not much time left of this summer vacation. I am looking forward to being back in the classroom, but cheese-and-crackers I have a lot of work to do in the meantime!

Monday, July 23, 2012

This or That?

This post is a long-time coming. In fact, I started talking about it these posts and then left the topic for, what, almost a year?

Well, it's time to revisit the adoption topic and add a bit of a twist. It's been (mostly) decided that we want child #3, the question that remains is - how?

When I say mostly it's because Bryan still has a few reservations about adding another to the brood. One more child means a bigger car (can't fit 3 car seats into the RAV4), a bigger house (can't adopt while we live in this house, and 3 kids sharing one room is a bit much), and the other financial concerns. His concerns are valid, and someone has to be thinking about practicality (not that I'm impractical, but I do think about this topic with a little more emotion than reason).

But he knows how much I want a larger family and he's willing to compromise - I wanted 4.

We're not in a place to either get pregnant or adopt at this very moment... that will probably happen next year. But I can't stop thinking about it. And I need a place to record my thoughts, which is why I have a blog - n'est-ce pas?

So, here's what I have rambling around in my brain.

Age Differences

If we were to have another baby, the very earliest that I could give birth would be when Griffin is 4 and Penelope is almost 5.5. The gap in age isn't huge, but nonetheless, I do have a few reservations about such a gap...

My brother and I are 5 years apart and we only really became close when we were both adults. Not to say that we didn't have a good relationship as children, because we (mostly) did. We didn't fight excessively and we generally got along - but we were always at very two different stages in our social/emotional development. When I moved away, my brother was just about to start high school - and while I would see him on holidays, birthdays, or summers, I didn't spend a lot of time with him during his high school years. We reconnected after that - he was my Man of Honor in my wedding - and we're close now (not weekly phone call close, but still close). I love my brother, and I know he loves me. But I do wish that we had been closer during that time period when everyone really needs a big brother/big sister - even if they do have awesome parents.

So the thought of having a child that many years removed from P&G makes me pause. I know that there's a lot more to sibling bonding than age difference. Even children born close together - or even twins - aren't guaranteed to be close all their lives. Relationships have natural ebbs and flows. Regardless, I can't force any of my children to have close relationships - and even if we have a child much younger than the first two, Bryan and I can still help foster a close relationships between the kids.

Even with that said, adoption means that we might be able to find a child whose closer in age to P&G - one that is a year or two younger than Griffin. Because even though age difference doesn't dictate sibling relationship, it certainly can't hurt.

Another age related benefit of adoption is that we don't have to go through that horrific newborn period again. I love my children, but newborns aren't a whole lot of fun. Night wakings, constant eating and pooping, and later - teething. Ugh.

Granted, newborns have positives. The newborn smell, for one. Snuggling is another plus.

But toddlers snuggle too.


Having another child puts us on a rather predictable timeline. Unless we struggle with fertility, we have a fair amount of control about when our family expands.

Adoption is a bit more nebulous. After the classes/home studies are completed we try and find a match and then go through a process - visits, overnights, check ins, the move in - and then the date when the adoption is final. Each stage could potentially be road blocked and so things are a little less certain (although it's not like pregnancy and childbirth are without roadblocks). If we find a child and something falls through - then the disappointment or grief that might come with that is something we have to process as a family.

And yet - pregnancy and birth is not without risk. There's no guarantee that we won't have to deal with disappointment and grief if we decide to try for another baby.

There's more - a lot more - that's been rolling around in my head. But it's late and I'm (finally) tired. More to come, I assure you.

Sunday, July 22, 2012


This has been a pretty crazy month... we've been out of town every weekend and have spent more hours in the car than I can count (but I'm gonna try!).

The first weekend of July was spent at my Great-Uncle Merv's cabin in Butte Meadows (14 hours in the car with kids total). It was a quasi-family reunion and it was the kids' first camping experience. They *loved* it. I loved it too, I have a lot of wonderful memories of family gatherings at that cabin. The kids played in the freezing-cold creek, roasted marshmellows, slept in a tent, and got really, really dirty.

I posted a ton of pics on Facebook, but here are a few more.

Poe and Cousin Terra

Bubby & Grandpa playing dinosaurs

The kids with cousin Tyson and cousin Christy (whose expecting a new cousin on P's birthday!) walking to the creek

Bubby and Granny in the FREEZING COLD creek

Squishy was not so enamored of the cold as Bubs...

Which is why she asked cousin Terra to cart her around the creek

After the cabin, we stayed home for a week and then took off to Sac to drop the kids off at my parents house for a week (3 more car hours, new total is 17). Bryan and I headed to San Francisco to see a Giants game with B's cousins (don't have pics of that).

And then we were kid free for a week! A whole week!

Unsurprisingly, I got less done than I wanted, but more that I would have if the kids had been home. They had a fun time hanging out with Granny & Grandpa - including a trip to the State Fair, the zoo, and G&G's special water park in their backyard.

We picked them up on Friday and drove out to Reno (2.5 car hours with kids, new total is 19.5) and spent a short weekend with Bryan's family. We went to the Discovery Museum, went shopping, and the kids practiced "fishing" in the backyard with their new fishing poles. Sissy's getting pretty good at casting. I have a few pics on the iPad, but am too lazy to plug it in an upload them.

The way back added 6.5 kid car hours - total thus far is 26 hours.

Next weekend is a day-trip to Livermore (1.5 hours each way) and then we're home-bound for a few weeks until we leave at the end of August to travel to Colorado for a wedding.

Exhausted would describe us all... in fact, Bryan fell asleep putting the kids to bed tonight. I think I'll go join him. Goodnight blog-o-verse!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Park Fun

Our weekend of adventure continued today with a trip to Dennis the Menace Park in Monterey. We love this park, there's a ton of stuff for the kids to do - various equipment, tunnels, maze, rock wall, swings, etc - and it's a half block from the ocean.

The park is even more fun now that the kids are a little older, because they can have conversations like this one with other kids at the park...

Boy: Hi, would you like to be the Mickey on my pirate ship?
Penelope: Yeah! (giggle)
Boy: (yells into one of those cone things)
P: (giggle) Mommy, he's cute
B: Come on, let's go!
(they run around for a bit)
P: Mommy, this is my friend. What's his name?
Me: I dunno, why don't you ask him?
P: Hi friend, what's your name?
B: Finnegan. F-I-N-N-E-G-A-N.
P: My name is PenELooooPEA
Finnegan: Come on, let's climb up. You ring the bell when I yell, ok?
P: Ok!
(a bit later - they've been playing for about a half an hour)
F: (twisting his shirt) You should come and visit me Penelope. You can come out to North Carolina. For like, three days. If your mommy says it's ok.
P: Ok! Mommy, can I?
M: Uh, we'll talk about it.
(even later, they've played on every piece of playground equipment - Poe is towing Griffin around and Finnegan is towing his younger sister around... they're swinging)
F's Mom: Time to go Finnegan...
F: Ok, bye Penelope. I'll miss you!
P: Ok, bye!

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk

Today, on a lark (can you tell I've been watching too much Dr. Who?), we decided to take the kids to the Beach Boardwalk, which is arguably one of the most famous places in the Monterey Bay Peninsula. I haven't been since high school (I think?) and Bryan's only been once. They have some kid friendly rides and it was supposed to be a nice, warm-ish day, so we thought it would be a nice change of pace. I'm getting rather tired of the Aquarium - all the kids want to do is play in their fun-for-kids-but-boring-for-grownups area.

Anyway, it was the kids' first time at an amusement park and on "roller coasters". Following are a TON of videos of the kids (and us) on rides. Some of them are long (3 mins) but most are shorter. I honestly don't expect anyone other than my parents and Bryan's parents to watch them all. But in case you do, here you go. Underneath is a short blurb on each so you can decide which of the videos you'd like to see :)

Length: 3:42
Penelope on her very first ride!

Length: 2 minutes
This is G's first ride - we're on racecars that swing you wildly on the turns. It's Poe's second ride, and she has become quite adventurous. She's on it alone, G had to ride with me since he was a smidge too short to go solo and not nearly as brave. I had a hard time getting into this one. My legs are too long for kiddie rides...

Length: 3:25
G's second ride, P's 3rd. We went on this one as a family since both kids needed a "chaperone". It goes forward & backward, which did a number on B's stomach. The video is shaky, but considering that our videographer was on the ride, it can be forgiven :) Penelope had a BLAST. Griffin had a ok time... she says some pretty cute things.

Length: 3 minutes
Penelope on the Dragon Ride. Griffin wanted to go, but not with Poe and not alone and not with me or B, so he didn't go.... and threw a fit. It was close to naptime and he was being wishy-washy about rides.

Length: 21 seconds
G & I on the Pepsi caravan ride. He did NOT want to go on this ride, but had a good time after the initial tantrum...

Length: 2:16
Squishy on the boat ride!

Length: 46 seconds
Griffin on his only solo ride of the day!

All in all it was a fun, albeit exhausting, day. Next year we might invest in season passes...

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A conversation

P: Mama, I want a snack please.
M: Ok, what do you want? I have pretzels, nuts, apples, and bananas.
P: I want bats.
M: Bats? You mean the things that fly around at night?
P: Yeah, bats are spicy. (giggle)
M: What? Bats are spicy?!
P: (giggle) yeah, and they have claws like this (claw hands) and are like monsters. Bats are spicy monsters. (dissolves into a fit of giggles).
M: You are weird.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


I want my own Brave doll.

The kids loved it. And it managed to make me cry TWICE. Damn you Pixar, damn you. Although it's arguably an easy bar to hurdle since I cry every time I hear Morgan Freeman's voice (seriously, stupid Olympics).

Anyway, after the movie Poe said the following:

"Mama, I want to turn into a bear."
"Mama, I'm princess Merida. And you're her muh-der" (i.e. 'mother' which she inexplicably pronounces with a Brooklyn accent).

The Funk crashed on the way home and Squishy soon followed.

Recital post coming up - the kids beckon.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

There was something in the air today...

That turned my normally delightful children into super whiny-obnoxious toddlers. I guess we were due. Although it was probably because we didn't get to bed until quite late last night, and yesterdays BBQ/party fun was worth the tears today. Hopefully they both sleep well tonight since I leave tomorrow for a 3-ish day training in Temecula.

It's unfortunate that I leave on Father's Day, but to make up for my absence tomorrow (I'll leave Salinas around 10:30) I'm making homemade cinnamon rolls for the morning. The dough is currently rising and then I have to punch it (my favorite part of bread making), roll it out, coat it was enough sugar to kill an elephant, roll 'em up, and stick them in the fridge for the night. In the morning they're baked and then glazed. It's the first time I've tried this recipe and it got rave reviews on so hopefully B enjoys them.

I'm sure I'll write about the training (Link Crew) once I get back. I've been told it's fun and it will be nice to get out of town - although it's Temecula and it's supposed be 1,000 degrees. But whatever - I'll be sleeping in an air conditioned room and won't have to do any dishes for 3 days. I'll take it.

I will miss the B & the 'babies' though - we'll have to Skype while I'm gone. Plus I'll miss my dad coming in to town for an interview - although I'll see him and my mom next weekend for P's recital.

I'll leave you with some pictures of last night's party.

Bubs and I.. my boss is in the background (he and his family are moving to China, hence the reason for the party - we're going to miss them, he's the first principal I've ever worked for and subsequent principals are going to have big shoes to fill!)

Ok, so I don't really have many pictures. Actually, I do - but the ones of the kids have pics of other people's kids and since I don't have their parents permission to post on my blog, then I'm not going to post them.  Adults are one thing, but kids are another. So all you get is this one of Bubby and I :)

See you in a few days!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

What to teach your children

My last post got me to thinking about what the most important ideals or habits parents instill in their children. Is it more important to teach them to pick up after themselves or to appreciate art? Do they need to be good readers or good listeners? Is oral hygiene more or less important than learning how to fix a flat tire?

There are a lot of things parents teach their children - some we teach explicitly (like how to fold a towel, because if you don't teach that then your children grow up to be like my husband and fold them into squares that don't fit in a linen closet) - and there's a lot that we teach through modeling (usually behaviors & communication, although that can be taught explicitly as well).

If I had to boil it down to a top 10 list, there's a lot of important things that would get cut... BUT since I enjoy making lists and because I have some time to kill, here's what I consider the TOP TEN things parents should teach their children.

1. Love to read... parents need to instill a love of reading into their children. Even if that parent hates reading. Why? Because reading is linked to improved academic performance as well as a host of other benefits. Children who can read well will do well in school, they improve their vocabularies, they become more logical thinkers, they have an easier time mastering language, they cure cancer and AIDS and bring world peace.

Ok, so that last one may have been a slight exaggeration. But I will bet you that the person or people who DO end up curing cancer and AIDS or who bring about world peace WILL BE fluent readers. So it's only slightly hyperbolic.

2. Be self sufficient... Alright, I admit that this one is broad and can encompass a lot. What I mean is that kids need to be able to balance a checkbook, clean a toilet, do laundry, and cook something other than microwave dinners. You can add change a tire into this one if you'd like, but I have AAA and while I know *how* to change a tire, it is not a skill that trumps cooking. Not being able to change a tire isn't going to kill me (although I may be extremely inconvenienced), a lifetime of snack foods and HungryMan meals will.

Which brings me to...

3. Healthy eating habits... I certainly don't expect any parent to withhold treats from their children. That's just crazy. But parents do need to expose their children to a variety of foods - especially fruits and vegetables - and parents need to explicitly teach their children what the word "moderation" means. I've seen WAY too many teenagers show up for 1st period with a Monster and Hot Cheetos only to see them out at lunch with a sugary sports drink and another bag of Hot Cheetos. Hot Cheetos are not the devil, but they're not a food group. 90% of the kids I see eat horrific things at lunch are overweight. It's not a coincidence.

There is a time and a place for junk food. That time is not every day. And for heaven's sake that place IS NOT SCHOOL. Your brain is supposed to be working during the school day and yet students feed it crap and wonder why they didn't do so well on their test. Gah!

4. If you can't say anything nice... I was going to put "be nice" but that's just unrealistic. Some people are just not nice people - but they can fake it! Really, kids just need to learn appropriate filters. They can say some things in front of their friends or peers that are not appropriate in the classroom, or at Thanksgiving dinner. If they learn it as children and teenagers, then they can apply it in the workplace.  There are some things you just should NOT say in front of your boss. There are some conversations that are best left out of the office... I'm guilty of this sometimes myself - no one is perfect at it - but if you can teach your kids to think before they speak, they'll be one up on everyone else who tells everyone at work about how drunk and stupid they got last night at the bar.

5. It's ok to be gay. Or straight. Or in theater. Or in mathletes... Athletes have value. Valedictorians have value. Homosexuals have value. Heterosexuals have value. Artists have value. Engineers have value. Gamers have value. Bookworms have value. People with disabilities have value. Homeless people have value. I could go on. No one is more deserving of rights than anyone else. My rights do not trump the rights of the homeless person sleeping on the library grass down the block...

And for goodness sake, corporations are not people.

6. Brush your teeth!... Maybe it's just because we took the kids to the dentist. Or maybe it's because the last time we were at the play-place at the mall 99% of the 10 & under crowd had visible fillings and crowns - but oh mylanta! Brush your d@mn teeth! Twice a day! With toothpaste! Flossing is good, and I know all dentists will recommend daily flossing, but as I am not a dentist nor am I a regular flosser, I'm just going to advocate for twice daily brushing. Hopefully P & G will get into the flossing habit as well, I'll try. But I will sure as hell make sure they brush every morning and every night. Anything less is just plain GROSS.

7. Teach them about their bodies.. It's called a penis. And the other one is a vagina. Use nicknames if you must, but teach them the real names for things as well. Teach your daughters what menstruation really means, teach her about ovulation, and cervical mucous, and how to tell when you're fertile. Teach her how to give herself a monthly breast exam (or make sure her Ped teaches her). Teach your sons about related boy-stuff. Teach them about condoms, and STDs, and birth control pills. Answer their questions. If you want, tell them sex is for marriage - but don't skimp out on real and genuine sex education just because you want them to wait. Married people need to know this stuff too.

8. VOTE... Because it's your civic duty and if you don't vote then you have to right to complain. Also? Teach your kids to respect jury duty. Yeah, it can suck - but it's an important part of our judicial process.

9. Disagree civilly... This one is HARD. I mean, few of these are really easy. But this is arguably the most difficult, in part because we have such a hard time with it ourselves. It's so much easier to degrade and deride - especially when we argue against things that are (birthers anyone?). But when we get too heated - regardless of how right we are - things rarely end well. Umpires get verbally abused, baseball fans are beaten to the brink of death, people are called Nazis and their likeness is burned in effigy, hate mail is sent and received, Congress does jack-s**t for 4 years, etc.

And while we teach this lesson to our kids - we'll make mistakes. We will mess up. We will be WRONG. And so...

10. Admit fault... Our kids need to know when to say "mea culpa". And they need to learn this from us. It's hard to admit to your toddler (or teenager I'd wager) that you screwed up. You want to protect that facade of infallibility because you believe that it's the source of your authority - your parental power node. Only it's not. In part because your kids aren't stupid - they'll know what you mess up. And the most powerful lesson you can teach them about personal responsibility and leadership is to say "my bad" and then fix it if you can.

**edited to add: I forgot manners! How could I?! Manners are so, so important. But what do I replace? Voting? Teeth brushing? Maybe manners fits in to the "if you can't say anything nice category. What do you think blog world?

The Denist

I, like any other rational and normal adult human being, haven't been to the dentist in over 5 years.

However I do have an appointment in a week and half (as does Bryan, who hasn't been in longer) and we found out that our insurance is "incentive" insurance - so going every 6 months increases the amount they pay for services. This means that we may will actually go every 6 months.

Especially since we discovered that the kids (Penelope in particular) just *love* going to the dentist.

Did you think I was being sarcastic? I wasn't. Am I being sarcastic now? Nope, still genuine. I know. I'm shocked too.

Sissy started off her appointment in my lap, but soon decided that she was a big girl and could do it by herself. So she sat in the chair and dutifully obeyed every command the dentist and dental assistant gave her. She kept her mouth open while they counted, scraped, polished, and brushed. She allowed the dental assistant to use that loud liquid sucking contraption. She let the dentist floss her teeth. She didn't bite the dentist.

She sat still for x-rays.

They only took two (of her front teeth - upper and lower) and - you guys - the d@mn x-rays made me CRY. Why? Because you can see, especially on the bottom, just how close her permanent teeth are to the surface. We still have a year or so before she starts to loose teeth... but holycrappeople she just GOT those teeth!

And? AND? The entire dental office was shocked and amazed that she was only 3 1/2. They pegged her for 5 or 6. SIX. How can she be close to six? I JUST GAVE BIRTH TO HER.


And then there was Bubby. Who did well - but was too squirmy for anything other than some teeth counting and a quick fluoride treatment. His 2 year molars are almost finished popping up (thankyousweetbabyZeus), so I'm hoping that soon his sleep will be... better.

The office really was terrific. So if you're ever looking for a family friendly dentist in Salinas, let me know. Dr. Moran is terrific.

She thought we were pretty terrific too - no cavities (I know, they're so young, but it's shocking how many toddlers I see with caps & fillings), no plaque, kids brush 2x a day, and (starting yesterday, after our appointment) we floss daily. She will be less impressed with us after B and I go in. We have good brushing practices, but neither one of us floss regularly and we're both soda drinkers - plus it's been so long since our last visit that I'm sure one or both of us will need a filling or two.

Oh well, at least the kids are off to a good start...

Monday, June 11, 2012

Beach, Bubba, and BUGS

One of my very few New Years Resolutions was to go to the beach at least once a month.


Lately we've been there every other week if not more often. May and June have been pretty stellar weather-wise and we've been broke (ah, I love teaching), so the beach has been a fun & free way to kill an afternoon.

This weekend was particularly beautiful so we packed up the kids & the dog and headed over to our favorite spot for a few hours. There's a stretch of the beach that's off-leash, so the kids AND the dog can run around and tire themselves out enough to nap well - HQ adores the beach, and so do the kids. Sometimes it's hard to tell who loves it the most...

This visit was especially fun, in part because Griffin has become obsessed with bugs.

Like all beaches, Asilomar is "infested" with lots of creepy-crawly sand insects. Usually the extent of our interaction is watching them burrow out of our sand castles, but this visit we went on a big hunt.

He spent most of his time looking intently at the sand for various sand bugs. Of course, as soon as he'd find one he'd let out a shriek of combined excitement and fear. He is both terrified and exicted by the sand bugs...

Looking for bugs with daddy

Of course, he also did some building...

And we all did some running...

At one point I was chasing the kids around with a shovel full of sand, threatening to get them with "a bug!" They shrieked every time I got close and ran as fast as they could away from what Poe called "that gross bug." It was rather amusing...

And did you know that Bryan and I have a 13 year old?

Sometimes I forget that she's only 3 1/2... she's looks much more like a pre-schooler in this one:

She's really getting too big too fast - what happened to my babies?!? Her first dance recital is in 2 weeks. I'm sure it will be hilariously adorable. Video will be posted as soon as I get it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

2 Year Check Ups

Big Bubby had his 2 year check up today. I couldn't go - last day of school (well, last day with students) and I had to give finals and get grades in. It was the first appointment I'd ever missed and I was a little sad I couldn't go, but I knew Bubby and Bryan would be fine without me.

Although this does mean that I don't have exact measurements. Bry and I don't have the same priorities ;) but we measured him the other day (I think I posted it?) and he's 36.75 inches and he's about 32 pounds. So 75% in both categories... we thought for awhile that he would catch up to Sis and they'd start to look more like twins (our midwives told us it would eventually happen) but she went through another growth spurt and is still 5 inches taller. I'm sure that he'll surpass her at some point, but it's not going to be anytime soon.

We have discovered that he has a strawberry sensitivity. I thought at first that he might be allergic, but both his Ped and my Guru Kathy who talks me down from the ledge every time I think something is wrong with the kids. Strawberries give him wicked diaper rash and he loves them. Kathy said he should eventually grow out of it, which is good because I don't know if I can keep them out of the house.

He was up for 2 shots and a lead test - apparently he took it all like a champ. He and Poe are very different in that arena (well, they're very different in most arenas). And I have to admit that I was a little nervous this time around... I really wanted to be there for his shots, but in retrospect I'm glad I wasn't. My rational brain and my irrational brain played a bit of tug-of-war leading up to this particular shot session.

I know that shots don't cause Autism. I KNOW this. They don't. But, from what I've read (which is, admittedly, not exhaustive) the jury is still out on whether or not shots - particularly the 2 year shots - may trigger Autism in those predisposed to Autism (i.e. with the right set of genes). Now, there isn't a huge history of Autism in either side of the family; so risks for G probably aren't high. But I was still a little nervous even though I realized it wasn't really rational. So I am relieved that everything went well and he hasn't had a fever or behavioral changes.

I was never so worried about stuff like this with P... And if I'm being honest, it's because P reminds me so much of Bryan and G reminds me so much of my brother. Now, there's nothing wrong with my brother. He's a great guy. He's a wonderful Uncle. But I think he'll be one of the first to admit that his ADHD has made life more challenging. My Dad would probably admit the same thing - he also has ADHD. And I love both my brother and my father, but I don't wish those challenges on my son. If Griffin (or Penelope) develop any type of disability, Bryan and I will be there to support and advocate for them... I just fervently hope that's not an issue that we have to deal with. Ever.

Anyway, we have one healthy, sweet, snuggly, stubborn, curly-haired little boy (or Big Boy, as he constantly reminds me).

In this, the children are the same - they both love salad

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day

Our Memorial Day was pretty low key. Holidays should not come at the end of the month :)

But the Salinas area has a quite a few fun and free things to do and we had a fun weekend.

Sunday was really our "big" day - we went to the beach and made sand castles. Well, Bryan and the kids made castles. I was exhausted and spent most of the time lounging on a beach towel. G is getting in his 2 year molars so his sleep has been erratic (read: lousy, although not at Suck levels).

So let me inundate you with pictures!

Bubby wondering what it is I'm doing... next words out of his mouth "Mommy, I see! I see!"

No! I don't want my picture taken!

Sissy has some loooooooooooong legs

Squishy and her Daddy

Castle under construction


I love this one, I think I need to get it framed

Just like his Uncle Nic, he sticks his tongue out when concentrating

Sand Castle complete!

At lunch, you can see how utterly exhausted he is... when we got home the kids and I slept for almost 3 hours

Squishy is tired too!

Popular Posts

Penelope's Growth

6 years: 50 inches, 47 lbs
5 years: 48 inches, 42 lbs
4 years: 43.5 inches, 41.0 lbs
28 months: 39 inches, 33.1 lbs
26 months: 38.5 inches, 32.1 lbs
21 months: 37 inches, 31.8 lbs
18 months: 35 inches, 30 lbs
15 months: 34.25 inches, 28.8 lbs
12 months: 32 inches, 27.1 lbs
9 months: 30.5 inches, 25.1 lbs
6 months: 29 inches, 21.2 lbs
4 months: 28.5 inches, 17.13 lbs
2 months: 24.75 inches, 12.12 lbs
At birth: 20.75 inches, 7.15 lbs

Griffin's Growth

5 years - 3 feet 11.25 inches (47.25 inches), 51 lbs
3 years - 3 feet 5.25 inches, 40lbs
18 months - 34.5 inches, 27.13lbs
12 months - 32 inches, 26.5lbs*
10 months - 31.75 inches, 23.4 lbs
7 months - 29.25 inches, 21.4 lbs
5 months - 28.5 inches, 17.9 lbs*
4 months - 28 inches, 15.5 lbs
3 months - 27 inches, 13.10 lbs
2 months - 25.125 inches, ?? lbs
1 month - 24 inches, 10.13 lbs
At birth - 22.5 inches, 9.1 lbs
*with diaper

Izzy's Growth

2 months: 23.25 inches, 10.8 lbs
At Birth: 22 inches, 8.11 lbs

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