Wednesday, August 27, 2008

School days and other updates

I started a new semester, again. But I am not the only one going back to school this week; Alex is officially a third grader.

I cannot wrap my brain around that thought. Alex is in third grade. When, exactly, did he get old enough to be in third grade?! He's my tender hearted, super funny, sweet, caring, philanthropist who wants to be an architect when he grows up so he can build houses for the homeless people that don't have one. Then he will charge them fifty cents to buy the house. Does this not make you tear up? I love my boy. He is the best oldest child I could ever have asked for. He is my favorite.

We didn't know what time the bus would come this morning so I drove him to school. Just me and him. We talked about how much fun third grade is, things I remember learning (he's already learned multiplication tables (a bit) and cursive which both topped my list... he was a little smug that he's ahead of me year for year). Then he said he'll probably learn things like square roots. He didn't know what it was, had just heard it or read it somewhere, so we had a talk about math on the way to third grade. When I saw him after school he was so full of "we get to use the computer lab every Wednesday and we have a climbing wall in the gym now and Mr P told us last year it was coming but he said it was a big magnet so don't wear any metal but I had on my STAR WARS belt [thanks, Mom!] and I didn't stick to the wall so I think he was pulling my leg last year and I share my locker with [oh crap I forgot the kid's name] who's not back yet from his trip to Lincoln City and..."

We got home and he went out to play with his friends as if he hadn't seen them all at school all day (a lot of them are at the same one), came in for dinner and went right back out. When I told him I needed him to get ready for a bath he wanted to work on a puzzle until the girls were done. Okay, that would seem like a reasonable request, right? So he picks the hardest puzzle we have in the kids' puzzle box and gets like 2 pieces together and it's time for him to go take a shower. He informs us that it takes 3-6 hours to complete this puzzle (where does he come up with this knack of making up information? I dunno) and he blew up at us for making him put it away. Except we hadn't told him to put it away. We hadn't said one thing about it. He argues like his dad: With a broken crystal ball.

Evidently third grade is more stressful than I remembered.

That's why it was SO perfect that he called in the middle of this discussion. Alex turned his venom on Brandon and... well, anyway he finally told Brandon, by telling me with him listening, that he doesn't like that Brandon yells at him all the time AND that that was the reason he was yelling at Aiden and I. I love that his father got to hear it from him this time instead of me telling him. Stupid head.

Alex and I had a big talk, in his room (he wiggled out of the bath because of the stress induced yelling at us) so it was private about how to handle stress and how sometimes we have to look ahead only to tomorrow. It will be better tomorrow. blah blah blah. I'll not bore you with the Full House "wrap it up scene" here. It was sweet. Until he informed me he is half dog. Because he can smell as good as a dog. "no, you can't but you're funny." "yes, I can. Really."

"Dogs can smell things that were here 3 days ago"

he's laying in bed: "so can I. I can smell my farts that were here three days ago."

Oh my gosh, I have a third grade boy.

Then, another bomb shell: Annie starts kindergarten this year. Her first half of a half day is tomorrow (Thursday) and then Friday she gets to do the whole half day. (our district is easing the kids in but I think this is kind of dumb... "half a half day" with the parents there. psha!) We went to the open house at the kids' school Tuesday night, dropped off supplies, and met their teachers. There are 2 or 3 am kindergarten classes and 2 pm classes so they couldn't open the two rooms to all the families who would have been there. Stupid fire codes. So she still hasn't seen her classroom but she has met her teacher. She is soooo nervous. And excited. I almost started crying tonight when I tucked her in bed. I realized this is her last night as a little kid. She's going to big kid school tomorrow.

I know she's ready. I asked her if she wants to wait just one more year and she pretended think on it, giggled and said, NOPE!

Ashley bit her tonight. Hard. Almost broke the skin, definitely going to be a blood blister there at least. So in the midst of Aiden talking to Ashley about biting in their room and Alex in the living room having a throw down with his dad on the phone, I take the ice and the injured Annie to my room and we sat and talked and just had some "holy cow I need love because I am nervous and injured and tired and and and" time. She then told me she doesn't like it when Ashley bites "me.... because her teeth are so hard. It's like, all she ever used to drink is milk and now her teeth are super hard. And that hurts". She is my favorite.

Crap, I have to let her grow up. Luckily she will be riding the bus in to school at noon when no one but kindergartners are on it. And Luckily again Alex will be riding the bus home with her in the afternoon when the other kids are on. She has two friends who are brothers that will be at her school with her (one is in her class) so they are all four going to sit together and keep an eye out.

We are having a cupcake party for Annie, the two brothers, and another girl from our complex who ended up in a different elementary school (we live too far out to be assigned to a school by address. or something) on Friday afternoon to talk about how cool kindergarten is. They will all have had their first full half day by then and will, I'm sure, be full of fun things to say.

Ashley is going to be heading to preschool in another week or so. That may be the hardest thing I have had to face as far as kids going to school. Alex and Annie going have all been something I could easily reconcile with because I still had one of my babies at home with me. Now, the youngest kid I will ever have is going to preschool. I am excited for her but also nervous. She is going through a phase lately. I don't know what to explain it as except to list behavior: hissing at people when she's angry (like a cat), BITING is back, POOPING in her pants is back, growling, pinching, hitting, kicking, etc etc etc. Get the picture?

Maybe I don't have to worry about her going to preschool. They won't let her stay if this is how she acts there. UGH! I just wish she'd be a nice girl again.

The biggest problem, beyond those listed above, is that she turns it on and off. And when it's off she can still beat any one's recovery time. She's a master. I know a lot of this has to be that so many growing up things happened all together: potty training, riding a two wheeler, getting ready for preschool, seeing dad more. (I know some of those aren't growing up things. So? Sue me). And I know she's having feelings she's maybe forgotten how to explain or deal with by using words. But I need her to remember. I'm trying to help her label her feelings as it comes up but she is SO resistant.

Still, I love her best.

Okay, maybe now I can sleep.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A quick thought

I promise to be done talking about pictures in the next blog (all I can promise is one) but I was thinking how I should get so-and-so to take pictures of our family. But I never like them. No matter which fantastic photographer takes cute poses, I never like the pictures of myself.

Then I realized, it's not a new photographer I need, it's a new body.

Or a new photographer who can shave pounds off me with her computer AND remove the shadows my now smooth and pretty tummy has left on it.

Any volunteers?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Playing with my camera

As I said, I have been playing with my camera and discovering I do like it after all. So much for trying to get a new one soon. Now we can save up for the bedroom set from Ikea instead of keeping the early American garage sale style we currently have. Sigh.

Anyway, here's some pictures I took, none of them are photoshopped. Maybe if I ever get time together I can work on that. Some of these are awful, I'm sure, to a trained person and some of them are fun for raw photo. I'll keep playing with it and get something figured out one day.

He kept walking as I tried to frame up a full body shot so I ended up with what I think is a really cute facial shot.

And then he drove the tractor. He's such a ham, he reminds me of Alex at that age!

Taking a sunset picture is hard. Unfortunately I didn't have a fantastic forefront but still, I like it.

Same night as the above shot, Matt came down to take off Quinn's training wheels. So I took a picture and I like the lighting. I messed with the ISO and shutter speed so much I don't remember what it was for this shot but I like the graininess that comes in.

How do I NOT love this picture? It's probably framed up all wrong but I think it's fantastic. Could photoshop it for cropping... I probably will. But I love it!

the angle on this is what makes it fun. Plus, Ashley is such a good model. She's the most willing to be shot and shot and shot. With a camera, of course!

The rest of these were all taken while Ashley was the only kid home for a few days. She had no idea I was taking these pictures so I like the unhindered looks she has. Apparently I was really excited about the black and white feature I found on the camera. Tough.
This is such a "I'm marching to the band" shot. I wish I had gottten her feet in it better but I will probably crop it to more of her, less of the background.
She's exploring. Looking for pretty rocks to take into the pool with her. And her animals she had brought out. I did crop this one before but this is the untouched one.
I must be the queen of cropping. This one I love her hands. The whole thing is cute but the way she's holding her hands is so delicate. I might print out one shot that is just that left hand and frame it. Maybe. If I can get it clear enough.
I messed around with the ISO again and I love how the background looks like a set. This makes me think of the beginning of The Wizard of Oz.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Dental humor

Blessed are they who engage in lively conversation with the helplessly mute for they shall be called DENTISTS.

The tooth fairy taught kids to sell their body parts for money. I blame her for prostitution.

The six most frightening words in the world: The dentist will see you now.

Psalms 81:10: "... Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it."

And one for patient revenge:

When a new dentist set up in a small town he quickly acquired a reputation of being the latest kind of "Painless" dentist. But a local lad quickly disputed this. "He's a fake ! " he told his mates. "He's not painless at all. When he stuck his finger in my mouth I bit him - and he yelled like anyone else."

Sunday, August 10, 2008

It was a comment and I moved it. Follow up hangover

On said other post my oh so loving Valerie offered to let me call her for $350/hour instead of gorge on cookie dough.

Well, I could. But then what would I use Aiden for? He'd be so bored during that loooong phone call. AND if I have to call anyone to whine to in the middle of the night, I might as well call Brandon. He's called me enough since the divorce to get me to tell him his life is okay (hello? I don't want that job anymore. I filed paperwork to prove it!) I'm pretty sure I have a good amount of credit built up.

Although if I tried to use it he would tell me that I was getting my way and being an awful person (with different words) and refuse to do it.

Or blame all my issues on being with Aiden, tell me a)I'm too late because he's got Morgan (YES!!!) or b)he can be here in 7 hours to pack Aiden's crap and move himself in.

I hate that second option.

PLUS, do I want my big sister who I may have convinced I am semi-rational to hear I am having a breakdown because I got my feelings hurt in a stupid and ridiculous way? Granted it's during a week of sleep deprivation and I was hot and tired and crabby and and and...

Okay, this is the last whiny blog for now. Back to whatever the norm is next time.

Saturday, August 09, 2008


Don't stop reading!!! I'm not hungover from alcohol. No, if you read my probably ill-placed post last night you might realize I'm hungover today from cookie dough. I feel sluggish. I feel like I was molested by the cookie dough that I, in fact, molested first.

The "therapy" didn't even work. I got all stupid, laid in bed, and cried for an hour. Poor Aiden got stuck, again, trying to make me calm down and realize I don't really have anything to be so worked up over. So I finally regained rationality (or as much as I EVER have) and realized my leg was cramping up from lack of milk intake.

AND I had laid down to cry so my sinus had that thing going on. You know what I mean... that thing where you feel like you got water up your nose and then it starts shifting. As if the first feeling wasn't quite uncomfortable enough.

Anyway, I took a muscle relaxer and slept for 8 hours, which isn't rare but has been elusive lately, and now I am hungover from cookie dough AND muscle relaxers.

But I do feel better and I'm not so sleepy, just groggy. And that will burn off with my daily Coke. Right?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Ashley's big month

Grandma and Grandpa "Sniff" bought Ashley a bike for her birthday, three months early so she could have a chance to ride it before the snow fell. Alex and Annie both learned two wheelers this summer and Ashley was sure she could figure it out, too. She had been riding with training wheels for all of a week when she first asked us to take them off. Her first try out she rode about 20 feet before falling.

She got a little discouraged that she fell (even though she'd watched Annie and Alex fall so much a week or two earlier) so she wanted to put them back on. We probably put them on and took them off 5 or 6 times over two weeks. Then we decided to leave them on until she was ready. Every time we put the training wheels back on we raised them just a little so she would have more wobble. Last night she was riding and riding and riding and those dang wheels were staying off the ground for long stretches. We asked her if we could take them off and she said no. Then we told her when Annie gets home she could show her what she'd learned. That was the trick and off they came, again.

She got on, Aiden got the seat and ran with her for 4 steps. Off she went all the way around the parking lot on her very first try!! The video is from her second try when she decided to take the curve a liiittle too close and hit the curb. She got right back on and went around and around and around. She's very proud of herself. We had to get Shaila and Matt and their boys to come see and then we got Amy and James and their boys to come see. She's been riding this morning again and she's got it down. She's a little bit too small for her bike (the smaller size bike would only work for like 2 weeks before she outgrew it so we went up) so stopping is hard and she hasn't figured out starting on her own yet, but she's got it down!

Also in this month (30 days, not calendar) she has FINALLY completely potty trained!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We get a lot of excitement out of remembering how many people promised her prizes and parties for finally doing it. She has been wearing panties for about 10 days or so and has had only three accidents. And one of those was right in front of the toilet just a tiny bit too late.

Ashley is our most athletic child, by far. She has better aim at throwing a baseball than Alex, she can run behind a ball and actually dribble it soccer style (she's been doing it for a year), and she can nail it in kickball. Annie still trips or misses almost everytime at kickball, Alex has a lot of misses, and while they are getting better on their own, we are SO proud and amazed at the skill Ash has. She's our future Olympian. Wah hoo!! (when is the last time you said "wah hoo"?)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

I'm so excited

When I was pregnant with Ashley we bought a digital camera. We didn't really know anything about what we wanted in one besides the usual "good screen", "enough pixels", "some decent zoom", etc. Two years later I realized I could actually get zoom beyond the 4x. I just had to turn that feature on. Oooooh!!!

Shaila (our upstairs neighbor) is really into photography and I get all excited when I look at her posts. She's got the big deal camera I can only hope to own someday and even if I did, I would take 2 years to figure it out, right? I have always harbored this delusion that I could take good pictures. And I probably can if the subject is a tree or a willing, not under 10 years old, person. I have been playing with my camera a lot lately trying to figure out what all the different shooting modes do; some are really obvious from the picture but some are lettered like TV, AV, M, and some other stupid things that will make obvious sense, I'm sure, if I ever actually read the book (we all remember I have ADD, right? Yeah, I bought the camera well before I got diagnosed so who knows if I have the book anymore).

So today Ashley was outside playing in the pools again. In that camera somewhere I found a way to change the ISO but I was terrified to do it since I didn't understand what that meant or what it would do. Since I blog stalk people I have learned a thing or two (tops!) about some of this so I was determined to find the choice for ISO again. (don't ask me what it stands for, ask SHAILA!) It does something with the shutter speed, I think, making it possible for her to freeze the water in mid-air and other super cool stuff.

**Shaila, how did you take that one of Mack on the slide? Teach me!!!**

Anyway, I finally figured out where the ISO choices exist (not in the menu or in all the shooting modes so grrr!!! at Canon but I'm figuring this out... they should print a book like a manual or something. Oh.) and only screwed up the camera a little bit in the process. I think I'll be able to figure out what I did or at least how to reverse it, or in the very least learn what it's called so I can sound like I did it on purpose later... It's just a new thing that comes up over the instant review screen right after I take a picture. Anyone?

Now that I have owned this camera and HATED it for years because it took too long, wouldn't take pics the way I wanted, and was too slow, I have learned that I can do all kinds of cool stuff including take black and white photos instead of having to make them in photoshop (I have learned I may like a picture in B/W that I cannot see any value of in color). I can change the settings for cloudy days, fluorescent lighting, fireworks, how much flash comes out of the bulb, etc etc.

I feel like I bought a new camera. Now if only I could find the book!

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

An unknown statistic made public

I have this great friend, Julie, who is having her second baby in September. Her oldest is a ten year old boy and this one will be another boy. Once a decade she's having a baby whether she needs it or not, I guess. =)

So we went to visit Julie and see the baby bump yesterday. She was not quite home when we got there so we broke into her backyard (by pushing open the unlocked fence, not really a big crime), found peace with the 'guard dog' who tried to thump his tail on the deck loud enough to either scare us away or make us come pet him, and discovered Julie has purchased a really comfortable hammock. Ashley thought playing with the dog was fun (remember, she's the only one with us for a couple of days) for a minute or two but then she found Julie has a pool. It's just a 3 foot above ground deal but it's more than her 6 inches she has at home and she was bored and wanted to go in.

We stripped her down to nothing and let her go skinny dipping. She thought it was hilarious fun. Aiden doesn't do well in cold water so he couldn't go in with her and I don't skinny dip; I chunky dunk; so I didn't go in either. She had SO much fun having the entire pool to herself. She kept holding on the edge and jumping so high her little butt crack would come out of the water.

Julie finally got home (good for you, reader, as you don't have to hear about the butt crack or picture yours truly nekkid anymore) and we went inside to the AC, a pregger's BFF. Her other dog was inside with one of the cats. We had been wondering about the whereabouts of the other dog. I said it was probably at the pound since she had eaten her way through a garage door (for really reals!), dumped garbage all over the driveway (not on her side of the fence), and taken out the bathroom window screen all in one afternoon recently. Turns out she is now left inside to avoid the running away of the dog. The cat has always been an inside cat but where was the other one?

"She is an outside cat, now," was the answer,"Why? Because she won't stop spraying things."

Turns out the cat knows something is going to change. The belly's getting bigger, the furniture is moving around, the gig is up, the cat's onto her. So she has taken to peeing on EVERYTHING that belongs solely to Julie. Right, Eric's stuff, not peed on. Mason's stuff, no pee. Things everyone uses, nadda. Julie is the one who uses the blender to make smoothies. The cat peed on it. The only person who drinks coffee? Julie. Guess what the cat peed on. (Imagine the aim and acrobatics required to get it right where you want it. That is a determined cat!) Julie told Eric the cat had one more chance and then it was being regaled to the out of doors. She woke up to see the cat backing her behind up to the curtains in the bedroom. Zing! Awake. Snatch the cat, throw her outside, slam the door. Turn around to cool off and see....

The Mr. Coffee has been defiled once again. "In case you need a statistic, it takes three bouts of cat piss to break a Mr. Coffee," she informed us.

Good to know.

Friday, August 01, 2008

What am I going to do?

Brandon's aunt always wanted kids. She couldn't get pregnant so she and her husband put there names out to adopt. They stayed on the waiting list for a long long long time. While I was pregnant with Alex they got a baby, finally! (As a side note, I do know it was shallow and cheap of me to begrudge her getting her baby "all the sudden" with no swollen ankles and vomiting and stuff... I know it was a longer than nine months wait but I was seven months preggo, threw up at least once every day, usually more like two or three times, and I was jealous that her baby just came with a phone call and a car ride. UGH!)

Anyway, adoption is expensive and they were old by the time they got Sarah so they couldn't adopt any more babies. Their answer to not having an only child is to take a lot of kids into their lives and max out their play dates and sleepovers.

As part of that plan they want to take a cousin a summer for a week. This year it's Annie's turn. She's supposed to go to their house in Tri-Cities for Vacation Bible School. It means she will be at their house from Sunday afternoon until Friday afternoon. I don't know if I can handle this. I don't know if she can handle it. She's only ever had one sleepover before and it was at another cousin's house where she'd been all that day. She's convinced she can handle it and I know Michelle can handle her since she teaches elementary school (until a couple years ago she taught a mixed K/1 class for like 20 years. This age is not new to her!).

I was unable to successfully sleep at anyone else's house until I was like 13 or something. Seriously. She is so much like I was and I don't know how this is going to go. I keep trying to convince her to say home and she keeps telling me she's big and can do it and will be fine.

The same time Annie's going to Aunt Michelle's house, Alex is going to Grandma and Grandpa Smith's house. He's excited, especially since there's two cousins staying there that he doesn't see much at all. I know he'll be fine but then I have issues with being away from my baby for so long. WHY are they all going away at the same time!?! I will have Ashley here to keep us company. She's going to be attentioned out. She's going to be SO HAPPY to get her brother and sister back so she can get two minutes to herself. It's going to be a complete role reversal in that we won't be telling her to go away for a minute of peace and quiet, we're going to chase her down and soak up kid juice. awww....

I don't know if I can handle this....

Now if Alex would just stay dry at night...

After fighting and fighting for a year and a little bit to get Ashley to use the potty, she does! We got her to a place where she was peeing on the toilet all the time (no more potty chair!!!) but the "poops" were a different matter. We tried everything to get her to poop in the toilet. She got it, finally, so she could wear her special yellow dress and yellow panties one day. (thanks to Sabre for the fantastic idea!) The next day it was a new bribe; ice cream cones for everyone outside that night, pudding cups, rice krispy treats (she'll do anything for those!), etc etc etc. Then on Tuesday she was suddenly calling "AiTen" to "come here please". We didn't know where she was. Holy Awesome Child, Batman!- she was in the bathroom waiting for someone to wipe her bum because she made a poop without anyone asking/telling her to go try!!

We were quite thrilled (this was the night of the Rice Krispy treats). She did it again that night shortly after bedtime and then again the next day. She has not worn a Pull-Up in three days and we are loving it. She is kind of offended that she is still wearing diapers to bed but with the floods that happen sometimes anyway I am not ready to wear panties to bed yet.

Hmmm, maybe I am not ready to let HER wear panties to bed yet. I wear them all the time, thank you very much.