Friday, May 30, 2008

It Was Bound to Happen Eventually

Noah, at the ripe old age of five (and a HALF!), finally learned the real truth to the deep, dark family secret that we have been keeping from him all these years: that the lyrics to the age-old song go, "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands!"

And not, as he had thought, and we had allowed him to believe...

"If you're happy and you're Noah, clap your hands!"

He is doing as well as can be expected.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

SeaWorld and the Sesame Street Bay of Play GIVEAWAY!!!

You may have read in my last post about my family's invitation to the opening of the new children's play area at Sea World called the Sesame Street Bay of Play. The invitation was extended to lots of Southern California parent bloggers, and so Noah and I went to check it out.

We had a really fun day.

At the reception for the bloggers, the kind folks at Sea World welcomed us with gift bags that contained a commemorative cookie jar with the logo of Sea World's Bay of Play on the front, and a plush Cookie Monster doll on the inside.

The kind folks at Sea World have a few of these cookie jars left and offered to mail one out to one of my readers if I wanted to hold a giveaway! And so, on YOUR behalf, of course I said yes.

Leave a comment here (one per reader) and I will draw a number with the help of sometime on Wednesday the 4th of June. They didn't say how far they are willing to ship, so I would say if you are from Canada, its probably cool, but international readers (further out)... maybe not so much.

Good luck!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

"Please Remain Seated Until The Fish Has Come To A Complete Stop"

It still makes me giggle when I think about it. That was the announcement played on Elmo's Flying Fish Ride.

This Saturday, I was lucky enough to be invited to a Parent-Blogger event at Sea World San Diego, celebrating the opening of the new area of the park called Sesame Street Bay of Play. Yeah, I am SO in the IN CROWD now. And it only took 40 years.

Michael and I decided it might be a good chance for some much needed Mommy/Noah time. Besides, Michael’s mom and his uncle from Yugoslavia were stopping by for a visit that day, so Michael stayed home with the twins to visit and catch up.

It was a big opening day for the Bay of Play complete with San Diego Charger Shawne Merriman who was there to do the ribbon cutting and lots of media doing live broadcasts.

According to Noah, the Bay of Play is "pretty awesome". There were three new rides meant just for smaller kids, a huge play structure, bounce house, water fountains to play in, fun house mirrors, and even a big area for toddlers to play together on a soft floor with big soft blocks surrounded by comfy seating for the parents.

The Sesame Street characters came out at regular intervals to do a song and dance up on a big pirate ship, and then came down to mingle and take pictures with the kids. Noah didn't want to pose with them since they were "just guys in costumes" but he still wiggled his butt a bit when they danced!

After doing a couple rides and checking out the place, us parent-bloggers headed over to a little reception area, gorged on chocolate muffins enjoyed a nice breakfast spread, sipped coffee and got to know each other a little bit.

I ran into Elaine of Wannabe Hippie and her hubby, and Wannabe Urban Housewife, both of whom I had met before. And I got to know a few other Southern California bloggers including Donna Schwartz Mills of SoCalMom, Erin from Queen Of Spain (who recently got to interview Barack Obama!), KTP from House of Prince (such royalty!) and some other parents of twins, Matthew of ChildsplayX2 and his lovely wife Andrea, and I also had a quick "howdoyado?" with Y. at Joy Unexpected.

We were all even gifted with a commemorative cookie jar with a fuzzy little Cookie Monster inside before sending us out to explore the rest of the park. It was great fun getting to chat with some other local folk who share my fondness for blogging!

Our thanks to Kami Huyse and the kind folks at Sea World for arranging this awesome day for all of us! It was our first time at Sea World, even after being here in San Diego for a year, and we will definitely be back!

To see more pictures of our day, click here! Stay tuned... I may just have a GIVEAWAY for you guys soon!

Monday, May 26, 2008

I Think I Have a Stalker

Seriously, doesn't this guy have better things to do than reading my Twitter Tweets?

For those of you in the know about Twitter, I relented to peer pressure and have been trying to figure out how the dang thing works. If you want to follow me on Twitter, my screen name is Shamalamamama... all one word.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Five and a HALF

My oldest is five and a HALF today!

He is very excited about being able to call himself that now. It’s funny: in the morning he usually likes to finish his breakfast quickly so he can play 10 or 15 minutes of computer games before school. But THIS morning, after he quickly ate, he asked if we could hang out in the living room so he could get some “Mommy Love”, instead. You know I wasn't gonna pass THAT up!

I told him I would LOVE that, and that as soon as I finished making my coffee I would be right in. He said, “Okay! I will be waiting on the LOVE seat!”

Michael and I both got a giggle out of that.

I came in with my mug to find him setting up the love seat with three pillows and a blanket so we could get comfy. And comfy we got. I told him that I was surprised he was giving up his computer time to be with me, and he said that it was a special day (being five and a HALF and all) and he wanted to spend this time with his mom. Awwwww…

I told him that birthdays (even HALF birthdays) are just as special for moms as they are for the kids because it reminds us of how happy we were when our child came into the world.

When it was almost time to get to school, I asked if it was okay for me to get up and get his shoes for him. He said, “Sure!” and so I went to get them. When I got back, I saw that he had run to my room while I was gone and brought back "Bunny", the stuffed animal I loved in my childhood and still keep.

“You can keep this near you today, so when you miss me, you can look at it and think of me.”

We got his gray hoodie jacket on with the hood up to protect against the rain we are having this morning. He asked me to take his picture. I thought it was to commemorate his being five and a HALF but after I took it, he instructed me to print it out, cut out the face, and paste it on my Bunny’s face, so I can remember him more easily.

As if I could ever forget that face.

The Blues


I sat down the other night to work on some of my backlog of photos that I want to Photoshop and upload to flickr, maybe use on my blog.

And I noticed that the background of my blog was on odd shade of green. I brought up my flickr page and noticed the white background was kind of a cyan... hmmm... and wasn't the whole screen just a little too bright?

It dawned on me that every time one of my toddlers wanders off lately, I can usually find him in the office, standing on the desk chair, sprawled precariously across the desk, clicking buttons on the mouse, the keyboard, AND the monitor! I think perhaps they had gotten into the gamma settings and the monitor's color balance!

I don't know much about calibrating your monitor, so I read up online about it for awhile and then gave it a go... which produced some very dark, very unattractive results on my monitor. I read up some more on some other pages, and tried again. This time better results but I ended up manually balancing the colors against a test photo (which is supposed to be perfectly color-balanced) that I downloaded. I got it to look just perfect and was finally happy.

That's when I went back to my flickr account and much to my horror saw that most of my photos looked like a freak show of super-saturated color. Granted, I like to saturate my photos but LORDY! What a mess.

I spun through some of flickr's finest photos to make sure it wasn't still my monitor, and I found that they all looked fantastic, so I realized that I had been color-balancing all my photos to very incorrect monitor settings for awhile now.

And I have a memory of writing almost this identical blog post a few months ago... Hmmm...

Maybe I should go and write down these new settings before I attempt to color balance another photo.


Gonna get right on that.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Day of Rest

See other Wordless Wednesday links here and here.
Go on, it's fun!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

School for Boys

After writing my last post about Noah’s challenge of getting three “green cards” (three days of good behavior) I got an excellent comment from a fellow blogger, GPC, who made a lot of wonderful points. I was just going to respond to her but it started to turn into a blog post of its own.

I, too, became quite disheartened about how the current educational system seems to work against the way boys think and learn. I read a couple of Michael Gurian’s books. He is one of the preeminent minds on how to parent and teach boys. His books explain how not only the American school system works against boys and their self esteem but also how our current culture does the same.

I have heard in the past of single-gender schools and thought they were not a good choice because kids need to be socialized with both sexes. But after educating myself about how boys and girls learn SO differently, I can see why a school for boys, geared toward more kinesthetic learning, one that is more hands-on, with activities that are less verbal and focus more on spatial mechanics, would be so amazingly good for boys. It would be a godsend to find a school where they can carry out a physical activity rather than be lectured about it or see a demonstration, where a boy can learn by doing rather than having a thought or a theory first and then act on it, as girls are excellent at doing.

I admit, I was pretty taken aback when Noah’s kindergarten teacher stated that he would not be taking the class trip to the zoo on Monday if he ended the day in anything below the coveted green card zone on the behavior chart the class keeps everyday.

(By the way, in case you were wondering, he came through with flying colors and got his three green cards and WILL be going to the zoo!)

I really do have to stand up and defend this teacher, though, because she is simply stunning in her perseverance with finding methods and ways of teaching EACH INDIVIDUAL CHILD in her classroom, and working with and accepting each child’s idiosyncrasies, seeing them as parts of a child’s personalities, not flaws to fix.

For instance, she recognized right off Noah’s love of music and his need for physical movement. He is often distracting of the kids in his class because he hums or sings or drums on his desk or gets up and bounces while writing or reading. Because of this, she created Noah’s Music Box, which is a box full of musical instruments, and whenever he feels the need to use it, if his work is done, he can go get his box, step outside the classroom and play maracas, tambourine, whistle, or whatever and dance and move around. He can even bring one friend if he can find someone who finished as quickly as he tends to finish.

She uses methods I know are used for teaching kinesthetic learners, which many boys (and likely, Noah) tend to be. She includes a lot of hands-on activities and music. She is sweet as apple pie, but she is no nonsense when it comes to breaking the rules. There are NO interruptions when instruction is being given. There is no shouting out of answers without raising hands. There are rules. And lately, Noah has been breaking them more and more often. And while I was gripped by fear of my son’s failure and the consequences of being left behind, I understood why she had given this somewhat out-of-character ultimatum. She said she could handle kids that don't follow the rules within four walls, but not when she is in charge of an entire classroom in a huge outdoor setting where one can get lost or hurt.

I don’t have faith in the public school system when it comes to keeping most every child from falling through the cracks. I thought the system would be good enough for my kid. I really do believe, that despite the sudden zoo ultimatum, Noah is currently in an awesome environment for him because his teacher is tireless when it comes to attempting to meet the learning needs of every child even if it means using different methods for every kid, all at the same time.

She really is something to behold. But I know nothing about the first grade teachers he will be assigned to in a few months, or the second grade teachers the following year. I know there are only two male teachers in the whole school; males who just inherently know how to interest a boy because they were one once.

And I worry when I imagine Noah sitting in the back row of 2 dozen desks someday, unable to concentrate because he is shunted into a system that is better set up for how girls learn, possibly because the system is run by women according to how it would work best for them.

And I think again about those private schools for boys. And wonder if I should see if there is such a thing in my city.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Two Down, One To Go

You might recall our recent issues with Noah and his anger/sadness/hyperactivity. At home, things with Noah have been going much better since my epiphany that he needs to be innundated with acceptance and to rise to his challenge when he says he doesn't belong in the family. I work hard not to get angry, or dragged into his funk, but to just stay calm and positive and insist he is loved and nothing he can do and nothing he can say to us will ever make us love him any less.

And the challenges and dark moods have been subsiding. He still does it occasionally but sometimes they are faked, or habit and he can easily be steered out of those bad moods. None of them have been severe or long lasting since that night I held him in his bed.

At school is a whole 'nuther story.

At school he has a different problem entirely that we don't really have much of a problem with at home. He seems to be very hyperactive, doesn't follow the rules at times (forgets to raise his hand, etc), and he is constantly making verbal noises as if he were scatting or something and distracts the other students.

On the advice of the school guidance counselor, we filled out the Connors Scale evaluation to see if he has ADHD. We fill out one, his teacher fills one out, and then the school nurse evaluates the scores. Based on the final score, they tell us if we should take him to see the pediatrician for a diagnoses. We filled ours out a week ago and are still waiting for any word back.

Meanwhile, I went in to pick up Noah on Tuesday, who had had a really bad day in class. They come home everyday with "color cards" telling the parents what kind of day they had. A green card means a great day (behavior-wise), and below that are the yellow card and red card (like a stoplight, I guess) and lastly the dreaded blue card.

On Tuesday, he ended up with a yellow card, but his teacher informed me that he would not be going to the Zoo with the rest of the class on Monday if he had anything below a green card for the last three days of the week. He was one of five kids on "parole", as it were.

We had a long talk with Noah.

I knew if he went down from green to yellow early in the day, he was likely to go into his funk and get bitter and sullen about missing the zoo. I convinced him that if he moved down to yellow he had to consider it the start of a game to be the PERFECT STUDENT! If she asked them to sit at their desk, he should get there first and fold his hands. If they were asked to line up, he should get there right away and stand tall and quiet! Not that I expect perfection from him... I just want him to think of yellow as a challenge to move back up to green, not to give up and get bitter and angry.

And so far, it's worked! He has gotten two green cards and his teacher says that he has been "an angel"! Pray that it holds out one more day. I can't even imagine how angry and full of despair he will be in if the whole class gets to go on a field trip and he is left behind. His issues are about acceptance and social esteem.

Leaving him behind will not help that.

But, on the other hand, a good strong lesson in the control of his impulses wouldn't hurt either.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wordless Wednesday: Why It's Sometimes Perilous to Photograph My Children

See more participants in Wordless Wednesday here and here!

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Life DID give us lemons, and it's great!

The neighbor across the way had his lemon tree cut down for some inexplicable reason. When I pulled up to my carport I saw the large branches heavy with lemons laying on the ground in front of the chipper, waiting for the executioner.

I went over, looked around to see if anyone would have a problem with me freeing these lemons from their fate. The coast was clear.

I saw that most of the lemons were young and not quite ripe, but knowing Noah has been wanting to make real lemonade lately, I began pulling some of the best and biggest I could find, but they were all a little green.

It was then that one of the workers came out of the yard, saw me, said "Un Momento!" and disappeared. He came back with a monstrous bag, and held it out to me saying "Limóns! Limóns! You take them!"

It was way more than I had bargained for, the best fruit from a whole tree, but I took it and gave my thanks, dropping the green lemons I had pilfered, resigning them to death by chipper.

I spent the next four days giving away plastic grocery bags full to my neighbors and my landlord. And when the weekend rolled around, Noah and I made lemonade.

As we worked our way through the lemons, I kept stacking the rinds on a plate. Eventually, I had enough to make a lemonade wreath! Almost pretty enough to hang on your door.
But, um, not likely.

And when it comes to lemonade? Let me just say Ethan is now an addict. He can drink four glasses in four minutes.

I usually cut him off there.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Double The Fun

(Yeah, I got no photos for this post either. This one is a publicity shot.)

I’ve been living the high life!

I rarely if ever go “out on the town” but this weekend I got to do it twice! Two nights in a row!

And, why not? It’s the weekend, and it’s Mother’s Day. So maybe I deserve it a little bit.

I had made plans to go walking on the beach with my friend Karin on Saturday night. We do that sometimes, as we both need to get out of our houses and see nature on occasion. She takes care of her invalid mother but has Saturday nights off. But when my next door neighbor called and proposed the babysitting swap, and I saw no weekend in the next five that it would be possible other than this weekend, I cancelled the walk, and went out with the hubby to the swanky cocktail lounge.

As it turned out, the neighbor cancelled my reciprocating babysitting job because her baby was horribly sick, and so suddenly I had Saturday night free again! I called Karin, who had gone to the beach alone anyway, and told her I was coming to get her and we were hitting the town!

We headed off to one of the other places that had been recommended to me when I was looking for fun places to go in San Diego. It’s a funky coffeehouse called Lestat’s and it seems they also own the space next door, and had turned it into a little music venue with 10 or 12 tables near the stage and a handful of theater seats. Totally simple and intimate.

That night, the guy at the door told us, three very respected and well loved San Diego singer/songwriters were playing. One of them was Gregory Page (no, not THAT Gregory Page) who was touted as the “Bob Dylan of San Diego”.

We stopped in the coffeehouse, got some mocha and tea, and headed next door and got a table down front. There were all of 15 or 20 people in the audience. I noticed the gold sign on the wall said “The Gregory Page Stage” and my friend Karin said she had seen him perform many years ago, maybe right here on this stage.

He was awesome.

I wouldn’t call him Bob Dylan (but then I wouldn’t call anyone but Bob Dylan “Bob Dylan”) but he was a fantastic guitar player and his songs were very melancholy and often humorous. I would say his style was more toward Eric Clapton. Acoustic Eric Clapton. With an Elvis Costello twist. Dipped in Neil Young.

Yeah, sorta like that.

It was clear he knew how to write a song. And just as you were getting lulled into the melancholy he would make you laugh and snort mocha out your nose!

He tried out a lot of new songs on us, reading them out of a handwritten journal laying on a chair. It was really low key, and so nice, sitting there with a good friend, sipping mochas and getting lost in a song.

Next up was Lisa Sanders. She was very good too, in a whole ‘nuther way. She had an awesome voice, kind of like a one-woman Indigo Girls, and wrote songs about her turbulent youth and about her life now which is clearly colored by her turbulent youth! Her songs were full of angst and yearning, sorrow and jubilation, and faith.

It was a really sweet evening, especially coming on the heels of a night out with Michael. I almost felt like my old, college-years self again!

I spun around clicking on the links to the upcoming performers at Lestat's and was pleased to find out that most everyone that performs there seems to be really talented, singer/songwriters who's style is right up my alley. Apparently Jason Mraz and others got their start here. It seems, by reputation, to be a good place to find the "next big thing".

I will be be back there again, soon.

Here are a couple links to videos from Gregory Page (including a little Christmas song showing his sillier side) and Lisa Sanders if you want to go check them out. I gotta say, neither video really does them justice, but it'll give you an idea.


The Pearl

When Noah was a toddler, my best friend Pam had a son the same age and we came up with this ingenious plan to trade free babysitting so we could go out on much-needed dates with our hubbies. When I found out I was pregnant again, I wondered if one more baby would make the trade a bit unfair for Pam. Would we lose date night? When I found out we were having twins, there just was no question of a fair balance. We lost date night.

And so it’s been.

Apart from the occasional quick dinner out or movie, because Mima (Michael’s mom: who often insures we keep our sanity intact) makes sure she comes and sends us out sometimes, we rarely go out for any romantic alone-time.

Then, peering over then fence at my new neighbors and their three small children, I had an idea. Noah and I went over and introduced ourselves and after chatting awhile about the cost of babysitting among other things, I asked if she and her husband ever got out.

They hadn’t, lately.

I suggested that, since it is so difficult to put someone else’s kids to bed (especially three of them!) perhaps we could trade some free babysitting post-bedtime, so that we could take our hubbies out for a night on the town! She said it sounded interesting.

Well, she called on Thursday and suggested we give it a try this weekend!

So, on Friday, Audra came over in time to say goodnight to Noah, while her husband stayed home with their kids, and Michael and I went out! We had never done much of anything in San Diego beyond a meal out, so I had to send out a quickie call for ideas by email to some local friends, and the links flowed in with lots of good ideas for music spots and arts events.

I was in the mood for some cocktails and maybe dessert so we picked the lounge at The Pearl Hotel. This place is like one of those very common two story drive up motels shaped in a “C” around a pool, but the owners have converted it into a swanky lounge and restaurant with retro-modern décor.

It was so cool and funky that I was just kicking myself for not bringing my camera. (The photos you see here were swiped from the Pearl's web page or stories written in newspapers about the Pearl, so since I am kind of advertising how awesome the place is, I am assuming they won't toss me in the slammer!)

We had some funky cocktails and cheese fondue in some stylish booths by the pool, chatted and enjoyed watching the giant mod beach balls sailing across the pool below the drive-in movie screen playing old Steve McQueen movies. Then we just had to try the Mayan Doughnut Holes with Chocolate Dip. Soooo very yummy.

It was not quite time to head home when we were done eating, so we headed inside to an area where you could recline on pillows and play backgammon. We didn’t play but we reclined and talked some more. It was so nice talking about more than just schedules, appointments and the usual, “how was your day” which is about all we usually have time for amid the chaos.

I think, if we keep up with these late-night dates, Michael and I could get closer, calmer, and less harried in our daily life. That is, if he can stay awake past 10:30.

Which he has trouble doing.


The next night, it was my turn to baby-sit next door while they went out for dinner, but Audra called to inform me that her youngest had been vomiting all day, and she didn’t want to leave him or pass any nasty viruses over to our side of the fence. So, we will postpone until another night.

But I think, as they say, that this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Zen and the Art of Thanksgiving

A couple weeks ago, Bloggy Giveaways hosted the Spring Edition of the Bloggy Giveaways Carnival. I had participated in this with a contest of my own last fall but this year, with the random craziness, I passed, and barely had time to even enter.

I spent the last couple days of the carnival, staying up WAY too late in the night entering the ones I really wanted to win out of the nine hundred and nineteen giveaways offered this season!

And I won a couple of them! YAY!

One of them was what looks like some really yummy (and healthy!) Bossa Nova juices from a review and giveaway blog called the Beauty Counter! I am really looking forward to those.

Then there was a book I was really crossing my fingers for. Its called Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood by Karen Maezen Miller, which has been described as "an extraordinary book of practical wisdom offering a way to peace and freedom amid fatigue and doubt." Karen is, believe it or not, a Zen Buddhist Priest and a Mom with a great blog. Her book has 15 reviews on Amazon and they are all five star reviews.

I have been thinking about this book over the last couple months, while doing a bit of self-examination, and I think (I hope) it found its way to me for a reason. It has spoken to a lot of women. I look forward to hearing what it has to say to me.

Lastly, I never got around to saying thank you to Mary Ann of Pink Papillon Jewelry, from whom I won a stunning hand stamped sterling silver bracelet way back in January. I never posted about it, but I LOVE THIS BRACELET and where it often. Its bound to be a hand-me-down keepsake in our family. Why? Look here, and you will see:

Yeah, nice, eh? She does great work. You should go check out her stuff.

Anyway, just wanted to get right with the karma, giving my thanks and appreciation so good things will keep coming my way. Spreading the love, as it were.

Thank you, ladies!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Troubling Talk

This is a pretty long one, but I have a lot on my mind...

Don't get me wrong, Noah is a pretty happy kid for the most part. But we have been dealing with some troubling behavior recently, and it looks like it's time to look for some outside help.

Noah is smart. And he has mostly shown himself to be more logical than emotional. But we have seen a flood of emotion lately and have had trouble knowing how to help him through it. We have said for a year now that we have been having "anger issues" with him, but it's never been crazy-bad. Now, though, he is saying some phrases that have been quite scary for us as parents to hear.

Sometimes he gets in a funk and is just weepy and says these phrases. Other times he is angry or frustrated. When he is extremely frustrated (having trouble with a video game, or not wanting to come to the table for dinner) he will sometimes yell that he wishes he weren't in this family anymore. Sometimes he says that we hate him and most troubling, he wishes her wasn't "in this life" anymore or that he wishes he was dead. Yes, and he is five years old.

So now, it is time to talk to professionals.

This afternoon, the guidance counselor from his school came over to talk with me about him (at my request) and has suggested he first see his pediatrician for a checkup and then see a psychologist for an evaluation. So we will likely do that.

They also plan to do an evaluation at school to determine whether he should be checked for ADHD.

See, at school, they are having other problems with him. There, its all about hyperactivity, making noises, being distracting to other students, and forgetting that one minute ago, he had agreed to settle down and be quiet.

At home, we don't really notice any PROBLEMS in this area, and at school, he rarely exhibits his low self-esteem issues that we see at home.

At first, I wasn't sure how to parent this depressive behavior. We couldn't always tell if he was trying to show that he was in emotional distress, attempting to manipulate or punish us, or what. We tried ignoring the talk and just go about as normal ("Well I am sorry you want to be dead, but you still have to take your bath.") we tried punishing it ("We don't talk like that. Time Out!"). We tried explaining how that would hurt us ("Oh Honey, that would make me so very sad if you were dead... I would never be happy again!") and even tried making a joke about it and be silly trying to get him to snap out of it and laugh. Nothing really showed any sign of easing his frustration.

More and more lately, though, I have been able to see when he is just flinging insults around and when he is really crying for help.

I hesitate to write about this because the first conclusion *I* would jump to, reading this about some other family, would be "what kind of parents are they?", "are they doing things to cause him to want to be dead?", "are they emotionally abusive?". I can only tell you that we are not. We have our share of exasperation, tiring days and short fuses, but on the whole we are pretty decent parents. And, no, its not about his little brothers, because if anything, he is getting along with them better and better. There are few real stresses that are new in his life. No divorces, no deaths, no sicknesses, etc. It just... started!

A few nights ago, we had a breakthrough of sorts.

At bedtime, as I laid with him for awhile before he fell asleep, he seemed mostly fine. He was asking about if there was a jail for kids and I told him that there was a place called juvenile detention and explained that there were no bars or cells like in a regular grown up jail, but that it was like a school with a big fence around it, that it had bedrooms, and the kids who were being punished just went to class, went to eat, went back to their room, and how they couldn't play, couldn't leave, couldn't visit friends, couldn't see their family.

Then, for no apparent reason, he got weepy and fell into his funk again. He told me that he thought that juvenile detention sounded like a good place for him, for someone who doesn't want to be in his family anymore.

That was it. I looked in his eyes and saw the hurt and pain and saw this completely lost little boy. He was adrift and grasping for an anchor. My heart was breaking. I realized he needed me to prove my love.

I grabbed his face and forced him to look me in the eyes and as he welled up in tears, I told him again and again how much I would hurt if he left our family, how I will never stop loving him, how he could be mean and cruel to me, he could hit me, he could steal, he could get bad grades, he could break the windows, but I would STILL LOVE HIM. And NOTHING he did could stop that, NOTHING he did would make me stop loving him, and if he were to leave our family I would NEVER stop searching for him, I would FIND him and I would bring him back home to where he belonged, to his family who loved him and would NEVER stop.

I let his face go.

He turned away from me, and said, "I don't want cuddles anymore. I want you to go away."

I thought I had failed and I began to cry, not knowing how to help my son. But then a moment later, he flipped back toward me, threw his hands around my neck and begged me to stay with him all night. I told him I would stay there, holding him, until he fell asleep.

And I did.

I came downstairs, completely spent, and told Michael the new plan for dealing with this behavior is to treat each occurrence as a signal to prove our love and devotion to him. And we have. We get down in his face and contradict every challenge of our love for him. And so far, its been going very well. He sometimes even gets this little smile of relief on his lips.

Granted its been about 5 days, but still.

Many times, he is clearly depressed and sad, and his troubling phrases sound like what he is really feeling. Other times, they are completely out of context. So, the next morning, Michael had a talk with him about saying what you are ACTUALLY angry about, and not saying "I wish I wasn't in this family".

I reinforced that... That afternoon he was playing a video game and was having trouble with it and screamed from the office "GET OUT OF MY FAMILY!!!" I assumed, to me.

I came in and explained that this is what Daddy was talking about. I am his Mom, and my job is to help him with his frustrations. If he is having trouble finishing a video game level and yells "get out of my family!" then I might just leave (I let him know I was joking!) but if he screamed, "I can't finish this level and I am soooo frustrated!!!!" then I can come help him with the game, and make it all better. He got it, and as I continue to give him real-time examples of things to say instead of the troubling phrases he HAS been saying, he has been getting better at saying what he really means. He gets it.

But its only been a few days, and we often have quite a few good days in a row. Don't get me wrong, he is usually a pretty happy-go-lucky kid! I am seeing, though, that this may be an upward battle. Something we deal with throughout his adolescence. We are all learning how to manage. But we are learning.

Baby steps.

Wordless Wednesday: Hair Raising

Check out other Wordless Wednesday Participants
here and here.

For those just popping in,
my blog is about raising my three sons,
two of whom are twins who just started
their terrible twos,
and all the crazyness that comes with all of that.

It's also about my love for photography, photoshop,
and the good life.

I grew up in Findlay, Ohio
and now live in San Diego with
my awesome hubby and my sweet boys.

If that sounds at all interesting,
bookmark me and stop by again sometime!
I know... yer busy WW-hopping right now.

Me too!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Come Blow Your Horn!

Today is my sweet niece's 11th birthday! Ain't she a doll?

She lives way over on the other side of the country from our family since we came back to California, and we miss her dearly.

She and Noah had a great kinship when they lived near one another. You can just see how sad he is that they will be separated soon, in this picture taken in the last month before we moved.

Erin rocks. She really, really, does!

Go check out my mom's blog for an awesome tribute to Erin (that I could never out-do so I won't even try!) complete with "then and now" photos.

Happy Birthday, sweet girl! We miss you BUNCHES!!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

As If She Didn't Have a Bazillion Things On Her Plate Already

My Mom started her own blog a few months ago, describing her life on Sanibel Island in Florida, and hers and my Dad's volunteer job with C.R.O.W. actually rescuing injured wildlife from dumpsters and bridges.

What a lot of folks don't realize is that one of her great loves is genealogy, the tracing of family trees. She has been doing our family for MANY years and has literally taken a couple of the lines back to the year 400. FOUR HUNDRED! (Have you heard of my great-gazillionth grandfather, Charlemagne? Well, he's probably your ancestor, too, cousin!)

In a late night epiphany, my Mom decided to start a new genealogy blog called Branches and Roots, where she will tell about our family, be a resource for others searching the same lines, and give help where she can.

This photo is of her parents on their wedding day in 1926. My grandmother, Opal, graduated from high school the very next day.

Why don't you head over to her new blog and check it out!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Design on a Dime

I am so NOT Nate Berkus or Candice Olson, but I do watch HGTV with a lust that makes me want to buy a home and decorate it, even in this dying economy.

I have been living with garage sale furniture and hand me downs for so long and have been itching for new beautiful furniture to dwell among. Dark woods, Asian influences, Global textiles... ...yum...

But I have toddlers. TWIN toddlers. And a five year old who is careful, but not always clean.

And so we go on living with second hand things, vinyl couches that can be easily wiped, and a dining room table that already have marks and dings on it, cabinets bought at garage sales because they are big and lockable. We haven't even used coffee tables and end tables with lamps on them since the twins were born because they just knock anything to the floor and climb and jump off of them.

But when we moved into our most recent rental house, and I brought (okay, when my hubby and his burly helpers brought) the white vinyl couches into the starkly white painted living room, and set them down on the cement-grey floor, I asked my landlord if I could paint the walls some cheerful color.

He said no.

This particular landlord rocks, but he still said no.

So I made a vow. I made a vow that I would take this one room, and make a plan. A design scheme. Anything that didn't go nicely with the design scheme would move OUT of the room, and I would buy new things that ALL MATCHED NICELY together! At least for this one room.

I have been entranced lately by that aqua blue/chocolate brown design scheme you see just everywhere lately. So, even though I tend to love warm colors, I went with it.

Here are a before and after video, so you can pretend you are watching HGTV.

Okay, its not THAT good, but it ain't bad! Sorry the videos are kind of dark. We don't have a lot of light in there. The colors aren't very vibrant either, so its a bit hard to see the real difference, but you will get the idea.

(Honey, don't watch this at work, it will just embarrass me in front of your co-workers. Thanks, sweetie!) <--- Note to the Hubby.

Before the re-design:

And the "After":