Sunday, September 23, 2007

Fun-Shine Express

While Sophia would love to go to the same pre-school Porter attended last year, I am just not ready to let her go so many days a week... She just seems so young to me; too young to be away from home so much every week.

As she gets more adjusted to her new life with a little brother, she's becoming more and more delightful to be around. The tantrums are fewer and farther between, the stuttering has lessened, there are no more crocodiles under her bed, although she still locks the door every time she comes into my bedroom, to keep the crocodiles away.

One morning, shortly after the baby was born, she came into our room and asked Doug to go get the snake in her bed... it was tickling her toes. So cute! But that hasn't repeated itself for along time either.

So in lieu of a formal pre-school I have joined with four other moms to teach our three years the fun-shine express curriculum. I love it. Thanks to Jenni I discovered it, and used it with Porter too. A girl in her ward researched many on-line curriculum, and decided this was the best option available. I love how the monthly box is delivered with complete lesson plans and craft materials. During my week to teach I simply select my favorite activities from the lesson plans, pull out the craft materials, and way we go! Cost wise it equals out to roughly $10 a month, so you can't beat that either!

While I dearly loved all of the kids I taught in Porter's group, the group was almost always predominately male. The combination made for full, busy, energy draining mornings. They are a stark contrast to Sophia's group of three girls and two boys. They are so calm, play well together, and so far, are easily engaged into the lesson. My one time teaching so far was so fun, it's just a pleasant dynamic between the kids. I hope it continues because this way I get the best of both worlds. I get to teach Sophia, and be a part of her learning.... and I get a chance to have some free time with just me and the baby on the mornings when I am not teaching.

Sophia loves her school. She loves her friends. She gets so excited when it's time to go to pre-school. She gets so excited when we see those friends at other times during the week. I love how she is making her own friends. For so long she has been in Porter's shadow, playing with Porter's friends. As a result, she can skillfully wield a sword and hold her own against the big kids, all valuable skills; however I just love seeing her play dress up and baby dolls with other little girls.

The theme last week was friendship. Jessica taught and took these cute pictures of the dress-up tea party... so fun!

Thursday, September 20, 2007


My mom came to help me when Preston was born, and she was such a BIG help!!! I never posted a THANK YOU, so I wanted to do that now.

THANK YOU for helping clean my house, prepare meals, and entertain my other children while I rested before and recuperated after the baby was born. It really meant a lot to me that you would make the trip down here and stay for so long when you had so much going on at home. It was comforting to not be alone in the days preceding Preston's birth and it was such a relief to not have to worry about my other kids when the moment came. There are just somethings you can comfortably ask of your mom that you can't ask of other people... So THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!

Sophia loves DORA the EXPLORER. One morning when my mom was here she came downstairs adorned in her jean jacket (shown above) her shorts, and with her green backpack slung across her back. She looked at my mom with her big brown eyes and asked my mom if she would take her on a blueberry hunt.

My mom couldn't say no. She thought Sophia looked just like little Dora the Explorer backpack and all... So off they went to the blueberry farm. They picked 5 pounds of blueberries, while I waited in the car with the baby. They enjoyed a big snow cone before we set off for home. Another fun afternoon with their energetic and fun grandma!

I guess Granny has been on my mind because Sophia has asked to go to Grandma's house every day this week... it breaks my heart to tell her that we're not going anytime soon.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Hanging Out...

I think it's so cute when Porter or Sophia looks at me suddenly and says, "Mom, take a picture!" These photos represent some of those moments. Porter took the one of me.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


I thought having a child in school would give me more time. Why do I feel like I have less? True, my life is much more peaceful, and I feel more free to go where I need to go because it's not as hard. It's easier to take two kids than it is to take three, and the kids I take now are smaller with fewer opinions about where they would rather be than at this particular location. They're also not as strong, and can be forcibly put into a cart if needed.

But timewise I am not getting the things accomplished that I thought I would. If anything I am getting less done. Sophia needs or demands more attention because her constant play mate is gone. However, I do love her companionship. She says the funniest things! And she's absolutely delightful as long as she is well fed and well rested. Preston is awake more now, so it's a little harder to get things done. But I guess I just have to take each stage as it comes, and relax a little on what I expect out of myself. Otherwise, I'm just not a very fun mom to be around!

Monday, September 17, 2007


When we went shopping for school shoes for Porter we were shocked to discover that Porter knew exactly what Sketcher Air Raider shoes were. He walked straight up to them, picked up the shoe and explained to us in great detail the mechanism behind how they cool off your toes as you walk. He then went onto say how he had to have them so his feet wouldn't get too hot at school.

Upon further questioning we realized that he had learned this in a commercial...

I hate commercials, and as a general rule try to avoid my kid's exposure to them. If they watch kid's shows, they're usually PBS shows or little shows I pick up at the library. I don't like how the products advertised are directly and cleverly marketed to our young, impressionable kids. Kids, by nature seem to be so happy with what they have, it's something we can all learn from. But when they see all of these commercials educating them on what they don't have and why they should have it, it takes away from their simple delight in living. I think we all, young and old need to be cautious about how we let commercials, consciously or subconsciously affect us.

Porter recently discovered Saturday morning cartoons, and we have let him watch some because of the good memories Doug and I both have of waking up early to watch our favorites. I loved the Smurfs! But if commercialitous continues, we'll have to alter our Saturday morning viewing.

Did we buy Porter the shoes? No, I kind of felt guilty saying no, (Doug didn't, of course) and I got over the guilt... The shoes were significantly more than we wanted to spend, so we told him we would pay what we were planning on paying, and he could do chores to make up the difference. He didn't even have to dig into his piggy bank... But he declined. I guess he didn't want them that bad. I also had issues buying him name brand shoes in kindergarten. I mean, I think that's a little bit early to be worrying about things like that. If it starts now, when does it end?

I have had quite the education on cool shoes between this experience and the neighbor boy. He kept talking about eelies. I had no idea what he was talking about until Porter got excited when he saw them in a store. They're Heeley's. The shoes with wheels on the bottom. Thankfully they're not allowed in our school, otherwise Porter may have been willing to do extra work to earn a pair, surely earning a broken arm or a concussion as he learned how to drive those shoes!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Appropriate Activities

I told myself a long time ago that before I read Book 7 of the Harry Potter series that I would re-read books 1-6. I read Book 1 to Porter, which he loved! I'm currently on book 4. I guess I've had my nose in the books too much lately in my journey to work through those that remain in the series, because Saturday night Porter informed me that reading Harry Potter was not an "appropriate" Sunday activity, so I would not be allowed to read it the following day. As I was trying to compose this blog (on a Sunday) he informed me that working on the computer is not an appropriate activity either.

I have to say, he's probably right. Both activities distract me from my family, and from pondering spiritual things. It's was just funny how he put it, I guess he's learning something in being able to distinguish between what's okay and not okay for our family on Sundays. Or he just figured if he was going to be denied his favorite things he was not going to suffer solo!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Yard Sale Deal of the Day

I haven't been to a yard sale in months, but two friends wanted to go this morning... due to an already over-scheduled morning, we only got an hour in, but an hour was all I needed to find this:

Porter told me a few weeks ago he wanted to be Leonardo the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle for Halloween. Luckily they hadn't pulled his size out of the boxes the Target team was unpacking last Monday when I went looking for one.

We were driving by the yard sale, craning our heads and straining our eyes to see if there was anything worth stopping for. I saw a green arm and what looked like a turtle shell sticking out of a cardboard box, and eagerly jumped out of the car...

Sure enough, it was a turtle, it was even Leonardo! The padded costume came complete with a mask and shell... it needs to be washed and it needs an extra stitch here and there, but she only wanted 25 cents for it! I love it when that happens!

Doug usually teases me when I go to yard sales that I go looking for "treasures" ie. junk that we didn't know we needed... there's truth to that, and I enjoy it, but it's even better to find something I REALLY needed, for such a screaming deal!

Do you know what else I love? Porter doesn't care where his costume came from... Target or a yard or used... he's just happy to have the costume... I love that that innocence and sweetness... and it's another way we can learn from our children!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Best Daddy

pictures by Kelsey Call

Remember When 30 seemed so old

Doug is out of town, so I am taking the opportunity to post some of the things that have been in draft format for a while!

The most important one is regarding Doug's birthday. Doug finally hit the big 3-0- Wahoo! I only say that because I hit that mark a while ago. Although I have to say, I don't feel it. The only time I feel like I'm in my 30's is when I think about it. I love the song, Remember When... and the line... Remember When... 30 seemed so old... Amen!

It feels good when it feels like he's catching up to me! Usually our age difference doesn't sound big, but for the time that I've been in my 30's and he's been in his 20's it sounds like there's more of a gap! It's helped that there are lots of girls in my ward who are older than their husbands, and most of us girls are about the same age too. Strength in numbers I guess :)

We had a nice time celebrating Doug's birthday, although he didn't want a party, I would have like to invite a few people over. Instead we stuck to celebrating as a family over the course of several days. The kids were thrilled to make a cake for him.

Our celebration for Doug's birthday spanned several days. Starting on the week-end, he took the kids to Chuckee Cheeses, isn't he a good dad? I made him a birthday dinner on Sunday. We ate cake and sang happy birthday on Sunday too.

His actual birthday plans got switched around, due to the fact I was driving the previously mentioned unexpected house guest all over Houston in search of a U-Haul truck. We had planned to meet him for lunch and I wanted to surprise him by taking treats to the office... Instead we went out to dinner and went for an evening walk. But I hope he had a nice time.

One of the gifts the kids bought him was a new water bottle, to match the one Porter bought me for Christmas (I bought the kids their own too, because I thought perhaps we could stop some germ sharing and family sickness experiences if they weren't always drinking out of mine). So much for a surprise though, Sophia told him what it was the second he opened the door coming home from work. Now we know who can and can't keep a secret! That was the Friday before his birthday. I seem to remember that happening when Porter was three too, I guess it's the age.

I feel so lucky to have Doug in my life. He truly is an amazing friend and support. He provides so well for our family. He loves our kids and he loves me.

One of his many talents is his ability to fix things... In tribute to his birthday I wanted to preserve someone of my Mr. Fix-It memories.

In law school our Subaru's bright light switch stopped working preventing a passing mark on the state vehicle inspection.... Our mechanic told us it would be $500 to fix it. So Doug went to the library, copied the page from the Subaru fix-it manual on how to take apart the dash board, and went to work. I was rooting him on, at the same time worrying that he wouldn't be able to put the dash back together or that the airbag would deploy. Both worries turned out to be in vain. He cleaned the wires, tightened them, reassembled everything and promptly drove to the garage, the car passed inspection, and we were good to go for another year.

We replaced the chandelier in our entry way at the beginning of the year. Instead of paying Lowe's $150 to install it, he rented a 14 ft ladder and installed it himself. He also installed a new chandelier in our breakfast area.

This summer we put ceiling fans in the kids rooms and changed out the fans in our bedroom and in our living room... He did them all himself.

I appreciate how he's willing to jump in and figure things out. One of the MANY MANY things I appreciate about him. I love you honey, and I look forward to the "next 30 years!"


Porter has always liked flames. He selected the bike he rides and the helmet he wears solely on the fact that each sport flames. One the second or third day of school he washed his hair and then dried it with blow dryer. The effect was a giant poof in the back. The next morning I asked him if he wanted me to help me flatten his hair. He replied with an out stretched hand representing a flame flying by his head, "No, I like the flame." Needless to say, Doug cut his hair that weekend, because short hair is much difficult to style into "the flame."


When people ask me how I liked the hospital where I delivered I ask, do you really want me to get going on this subject? I don't have many good things to say.

While we cut it close in getting to the hospital on time, and at the time I was scared that I was going to have a baby in the car or in the wheel chair up to labor and delivery, once I got into my room, I was so grateful that we hadn't come sooner.

I feel like up to this point in my child birth experiences, I have had marvelous success letting mother nature lead. I have gone into labor on my own with all three of my children. While going into it, it's scary to give birth without painkillers, but I know that I can do it. I think the unknown is scary too. For me, the unknown is an epidural. I've read a lot about epidurals and talked to people who have had or witnessed real problems with their epidurals. So while in the moment of pain it's so tempting to have one, logically I worry about the safety of them as well. It was nice that by the time we got to the hospital, pain relief wasn't an option, I was already at an 8, so the decision was already made. That doesn't mean that next time, I won't try to get one, but for this one I felt so blessed that everything went well, with no complications.

Another reason I was glad we didn't get to the hospital earlier was the labor and delivery staff were terrible. I knew when I decided to deliver at this hospital that it wasn't my ideal birthing situation. I knew the hospital had very few resources to help a laboring woman have a baby naturally, and that the staff pushed drugs... but I assumed the labor and delivery staff would still have kind people working... WRONG. From the time we checked in until the time I was transferred to mother baby, we were met with rude, insensitive women. You would think they would understand that laboring women need a little patience and understanding...

disclaimer: my quotes may not be accurate, they are what I heard in my head, they may not be exactly, word for word, what was said, but the underlying tones and messages are accurate

They were slow to check me in... when I arrived at the hospital I was at an 8, I was transitioning and in terrible, doubled over pain... I was in no mood to answer questions such as "when was the date of your last period" ...I pre-registered, couldn't they have asked me that then? When I took a breath, and muttered a half-intelligible response, something like, I have no idea and can't really think right now, the nurse actually asked me "What's wrong." in a what's wrong, why can't you answer the question tone of voice! Right... You try and do math in your head while you're doubled over in pain and see if you know what's wrong.

While changing into my hospital nightgown, I was having to pause between frequent contractions to get dressed, it was taking my a while. They called to me, in very irritated voices... " you need to hurry and get out here, how do you expect us to call your doctor, if you don't get out here so we can check you" I understand that there are prodigals, but they could have been kind about it. We kept asking them to call our doctor, because I know I go fast, and might not have much time... they acted really irritated that we kept asking, and they weren't calling her!

After they got the IV in I asked to get on my hands and knees, the nurses response? "fine, if you really think that will help" ... Um, yeah it will help! That's what my body is telling me to do, screaming at me to do. I felt like every time I tried to get into a more comfortable laboring position, they were putting me back on my back again.

it was comment after comment like these that drove me nuts! Doug usually gives EVERYONE the benefit of the doubt, but even he was getting frustrated with the rudeness and complained with me afterwards... we were so grateful we only had to deal with them for a short amount of time... had I gone there any earlier I shutter to think how I would have survived! I wrote a detailed evaluation of my time there, and heard recently from nurses who work in postpartum that seven, yes seven labor and delivery nurses were fired in the last five weeks. They were fired due to patient evaluations. I can't believe my complaining may have done some good!

My other complaint? Terrible food... which I could have dealt with had they given me enough to eat... seriously, for a nursing mothers, they didn't provide much food... Perhaps I got spoiled at Womens... I asked the nurse if they had any extra food they could bring, just crackers and pudding... right... I needed some hearty real food! Doug finally supplemented my diet. When I asked for juice they would only bring 4 oz... but I was so thirsty, and hadn't had juice for so long that 4 oz wasn't cutting it! Luckily one of my good friends got to be my nurse for one of the shifts, and she finally got me enough fluids coming in!

I don't know if I'll ever talk Doug into a birth center or a home birth, but I hope that I don't have to have baby #4 at this same hospital! Unless they continue to make more changes. Medically they were competent... but their bedside manner had so much to be desired!

I do have to say that the mother baby unit was much better! The dear friend Imentioned earlier who was my nurse took very good care of me, as did the other nurses... and I appreciated their rooming in mother/baby bonding friendly atmosphere... Although when I went to my pediatrician's office for our first visit he wondered why Preston hadn't had his first Hep B shot, then he saw where I had delivered, and said, "Oh they don't like to keep track of the shots, so they don't usually do them." Weird, don't you think?

What would you do???

While we were preparing to have Preston, Doug came home from work with a scenario... And as you may or may not know, all of Doug's "scenarios" are often based from something he read during his research... In other words they really happened. Now, granted he sees the worst case scenarios, every day, but it's made both of more leery of having medical procedures done.

When Lindy took her daughter Abbi into have eye surgery, I was almost teary eyed when they brought her safely home. I had worried about all of the what if's I'd heard about.

It seems that for every medical interaction we have, or friends have, Doug's recently read something about someone else who had the same procedure with negative outcomes, from pediatric dental work to tonsillectomy to having babies... Which brings me back to the scenario in question.

What would you do if you were in labor, and you needed an emergency c-section, and the anesthesiologist couldn't get there in time? My first reaction was a person couldn't survive that. My second reaction was, things like that just don't happen... But apparently they do, if you deliver at a hospital who only has an on-call anesthesiologist, he has half an hour to get to the hospital. Or, what if the only anesthesiologist on duty is in surgery with someone else? Things I'd never considered. So I asked my OB about it.

Turns out that this exact thing had happened a few weeks before at the hospital she works at. A girl came in without prenatal care, 28 weeks pregnant, they ended up doing the c-section with shots of local anaesthesia medicine. I knew chances of that happening to me were slim, but they made me worry even more about my choice of hospital, and about my upcoming delivery. You just never know what's going to get thrown at you, and I guess that's a good thing. I think if we knew in advance what the future held, we would think, "I can't do it; I won't do it." But as we endure hard things we go into survival mode, and do what we have to do. Maybe in this case, you wouldn't have a choice, but what if you did? Could you or would you endure the pain for baby?

Floor Cleaners I can't live without!

I love having tile, but I hate mopping ... in our home we have so much tile, mopping is a real chore. But, I have discovered two tools that make my life caring for tile SO MUCH EASIER!

The first was a gift from my mother-in-law. She gave us one for Christmas. When I opened it, I didn't know what it was so I did not show the proper enthusiasm. However, the first time I used it I was thrilled! It's cordless and rechargeable. It sweeps up dirt and debris from hard floors and carpet, but I only use it on tile. As long as I keep up on the cleaning, I rarely have to mess with a broom and dustpan anymore.

The second, the floor mate was introduced to me by a friend who shared her no mop secret with me. It doesn't save me time, but it's so much less messy than mopping, and it's much less physically demanding to mop the floor than with the traditional mop and bucket.

Love these two products!

Saturday, September 08, 2007


The other day I realized I haven't been very good about recording Preston's milestones... So here begins a new effort to do so!

Preston started smiling around 5 weeks. The first time he smiled for me was a Sunday evening (the Sunday before we left for Utah, so the 2nd Sunday in July). We were just chillin on my bed, and I started talking to him, and he gave me huge smile after smile. There are few things in life more satisfying than that first true baby smile. It just warmed my soul to the core! I called Doug in to enjoy the awesome sight. And then we called the other kids in, it was a happy family time, trying to encourage and being rewarded by, more smiles. He is a happy, smiley baby. And I think his smile is just BEAUTIFUL!

When we returned from Utah, middle of August, he started laughing. He rarely laughs at me, but his brother and sister are very successfully in getting him to laugh. He also coos and "talks" to me a lot. LOVE IT! It's so nice to have one peaceful, calm, happy child! He is such a nice little person to be around.

This week he has discovered his tongue. Or at least he's discovered how to stick it out...

Friday, September 07, 2007

Entertainment Book

I first discovered The Entertainment Book as a high school debate coach. My students sold them for a fund raiser, and I got a free one for managing their sales. Now I buy one every year.

I like how half of the sales goes back to the student organization selling the books. That's not a bad profit for the students. This year I bought one from a high school band student in my ward this year. I like that I can support a fund raiser and get a product that I want and can use.

And I use mine all of the time. There are lots of buy one get one free dinners --casual and more formal, ice creams, smoothies, cinnamon rolls and pretzels . It kind of spoils me, so when we go to a place that doesn't have a coupon, I feel like we're paying so much for dinner :)

We've used the book to broaden our horizons in Utah and Texas as far as sight-seeing goes. Some of our favorite local sights that we wouldn't have even known about, let alone visited include : the Bayou Wildlife Park (a tram drives you around to feed animals like camels, long horned cattle, and zebras from a bucket in your hands); and The George Historical Ranch (a living history ranch).

There are also coupons for money off your grocery store bills (Kroger and Randall's) dry cleaning, car washes, and some on-line purchases.

So, I guess I'm kind a nerd, but I'm excited ... it's Entertainment Book season, and I just purchased a new one for the upcoming year!

Monday, September 03, 2007


Since it felt so good to bare my soul regarding my frustrations with my oldest son, I thought I might as well detail the difficulties we've had with Sophia since the birth of her little brother... For a while, she was really a wreck, but things are improving...

Starting in the hospital... stuttering... it's actually kind of cute... I just hope it doesn't continue into grade school~ It doesn't happen all of the time, but when it does happen it's very exaggerated.... wha wha wha wha wha wha what's that mommy? My speech language therapist sister-in-law gave me some things to do with her that help. For example, when we have play time just the two of us, I talk really slowly too her, exaggerated slowness, she starts to giggle, or starts mouthing the end of my sentence with me by the end, but I notice she speaks more slowly afterwards, without stuttering.

Huge, full blown kicking and screaming 30 to 40 minute tantrums over small things... fortunately this ceased upon our return from Utah. Her moments of frustration are much fewer and farther in between, and when they do occur they are much shorter in duration.

Overly aggressive loving for her baby brother. It's so hard I want her to love him and feel connected, but I need him to be safe too. I would be a wealthy woman if I had a quarter for every time I said, "Give the baby some space please!

She has moments of wanting to be a baby. She wants to be carried like a baby, she wants to drink a bottle like the baby, and she wants me to feed her the bottle. She dug a box of her baby clothes out of the closet and has been squeezing into them (some of her 6-9 month onesies actually still fit! the dresses on the other hand just barely cover her bottom).

I'm thinking there are more, so I'll have to add them later if I remember them!

I have to say the hard part about having three children has not been adding another baby to the mix. Preston is such a good baby. True it takes me longer to get out of the door because I have more to do, but he is an angel and I love him so much; he's not hard to take care of.

The difficult part has been what it's done to my other children. When people would ask me how things were going I would think, baby's great, but my other kids are a wreck. I didn't think that when we went from one kid to two, I remember the transition being smooth. I've wondered if we should have put more time in between the last two, but I think the personalities of my other kids being what they are, it probably wouldn't have changed much. I'm sure it was harder immediately following Preston's birth because I didn't feel well for quite a while, just random issues, but it made it hard to give 100%. I am just now starting to feel like I am coming out of survival mode... so that's good!

All in all I don't think it's been as hard as I thought it would be to have three kids, but Preston isn't mobile yet, so that may change! But I do think it's been hard in ways I didn't anticipate.

Little Dress Up Shop

Sleeping Beauty

I heard about these dress ups at the beginning of the year. You can find them at an online shop called Little Dress Up Shop. But instead of rushing out to buy them for Sophia right away, I made myself wait for her birthday. I wanted to give her something she would be soooo excited about.

After that long wait, Porter and the neighbor boy encouraged a willing Sophia to open her presents while Doug and I were upstairs changing into our swimming suits. I almost started to cry when Sophia came bursting upstairs with some new butterfly decorations her grandma had sent her for her bedroom because I realized what must have happened. I knew I had missed seeing the look on her face when she saw her new dress-ups. It took much mind power to not let that ruin her birthday for me (and for the family, because face it... mom's mood dictates the household mood.)

But I still love the dress-ups and so does she. They are sized for little people, they are easy to get on and off, and they are modest! She can be Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, or Rapunzel at any given moment. Confession, when I was ordering them I couldn't decide which of the many cute ones to get, so I pulled her over to the computer, showed her my favorites, and let her pick out of the group which three she wanted.

The Sunday after her birthday you can guess what Sophie wanted to wear to church, but Doug wouldn't let Sophia be Snow White at church, so they compromised with Sophia wearing her Snow White costume under her church dress. Purple dress on top, big yellow billowing skirt to her ankles... But you know, whatever works!

She truly is a princess in training... I saw a t-shirt at The Children's Place that made me laugh too. It's a picture of a little girl dressed as a witch, and she says, "I left my princess dress at home."

Note the Tinkerbell purse, a gift from Aunt Debbie. As we prepared to leave on this outing, she had to go back for her purse filled with her treasures. She's also wearing her Dora light up tennis shoes. It reminds of brides who wear sneakers to their wedding.

Sophie is such a fun girl, we're really going to have to watch out when she gets older. Not only is she beautiful with big dark eyes framed with beautiful eye lashes, she has a natural tan but she has a super fun personality. She is gutsy too. When she jumps into the pool (or rather 3/4 dives/ 1/4belly flops) she yells, Fire Away! Cannonball! Or Super man! And she loves to laugh. The dress-ups appeal to her all girl girly side, but she can sure keep up and hold her own with her brother and his friends.

Daddy and his little princess

Sunday, September 02, 2007

bird feeder

Sophia: Are we still on the freeway?
Mom: No, we just got off...
Sophia: Oh, now we're on the bird feeder?

10 for Texas

I registered for this ten mile race this week... It is proving to be the motivation I needed to get myself back into a regular, faithful running routine.


Okay, so I finally have a moment (until the baby cries) to sit back and through writing, reflect upon the weeks past events. The first week of school. For years I've dreaded it... Sending my beloved firstborn out into the cold hard world of kindergarten. Have I done enough to prepare him to be resilient against the cruelties of others, and kind enough to not dish it out himself? Will he be a cooperative and contributing member of his class? Will I receive a call from the principal the very first day? Will he be a delightful student or a holy terror?

I believe that pre-school last year alleviated many of my worries. Porter did so well in a classroom setting. He enjoyed his teachers and his teachers enjoyed him. He made friends, and seemed happy. But it was a small class... he had two teachers who loved him...

Now he's entering public school. His class has an unprecedented 31 students in it.... that's not a typo. The school district incorrectly estimated the number of incoming kindergartners, and are currently making arrangements to hire another teacher... Great, but that means another change coming in the next couple of weeks. A possible new teacher, if Porter gets moved and for sure a change in classmates.

If that wasn't bad enough they keep my child for almost 8 hours a day. They don't let him out until 3:55. They give him one P.E. period a day and one 15 minute recess... Um, he went from hours of unstructured play time a day to 15 minutes???? If they send him home with homework, I'm going to revolt.... isn't 8 hours enough time to get ALL of you school work done in one day? It gets worse... he's watched Clifford and Read Between the Lions in class. I know once it was because recess was cancelled due to excessive rainfall, thunder and lightening.... Not sure what the excuse was the other days. But honestly if I was the teacher, I too, would be using videos to maintain sanity and order with so many students. But still, the school day is too long if you have time to show cartoons!

Because of the long school day, and the late release time, we decided that afterschool sports and activites should wait, at least for the first semester. Just to give him a chance to get used to school... But I feel guilty, shouldn't t-ball and piano be a part of his life too?

I'm not sure what he's learning in school either. So far the worksheets he's brought home are very, very basic concepts. Tracing straight lines and stuff... so why do they have to go to school for so long, to prove they can do skills they've already learned and mastered a long time ago?

So the question is, how long do I wait before raising the roof? Who do I talk to? I don't want to be labeled as the problem parent, but I don't think I am asking too much. Surely there is research supporting the philosophy that kids need play time. No wonder there is such a rise in childhood obesity. Recess time is declining and TV time is increasing.

One positive part of the week was meeting Porter for lunch. We purchased a school lunch per his request (I remember school lunch being uncool... but apparently in kindergarten it's the cool thing to do). After how he's treated me this week, it was delightful to enjoy a pleasant meal together where he actually wanted to see me and talk to me.

Which leads me to the eggshells... As far as I can discern Porter has been really good in school. The behavior review his teacher sent home detailed him as following the rules, getting along with fellow students, etc etc... However, his behavior at home has been deplorable...

The weeks preceding the first day of school were difficult, but in comparison to his current behavior, manageable. We returned from Utah, and I think he was bored, and ready for more excitement and stimulation in his life. Thanks to this, I was looking forward to the start of school. He was pretty defiant, telling me I wasn't his mom... Stuff like that. I assumed it was due, one to boredom and two to increased time spent with a neighbor boy who is a year older then him. The boy comes from a really nice family, but I know he probably watched some cartoons there that I don't let him watch (shows with fighting and/or belligerent teenagers). I assumed when school started, he wouldn't have time to play much, and the behavior would cease to exist. Nonetheless, by the time school hit I was looking forward to having some peace. I thought he'd be happier when he came home after having a break from home.

Honestly I have enjoyed the peace. No fighting kids, liberation and freedom in running errands. It's so much easier to take two kids to the store instead of three... The two at home are much easier to take places . Unless it's a store he wants to be at, shopping is difficult with Porter. Sophie often follows his lead. But without a big brother to chase, Sophie stays with me and Preston is completely immobile. Sophie has started taking naps again. (after 8 months of no naps.) She's had friends over and play dates.

I thought I would get a lot more done, and if anything I've gotten less done, because while there's less bickering, she also has lost her constant play companion, so I have to fill in more often, but it's okay. Porter had my undivided attention for three years before we had Sophie, so I figure it's her turn to have some undivided attention from me, she can't have it all of the time because of Preston, but she's happy to take what she can get.

I also feel like it's a new beginning goal wise... fitness wise... cleaning wise... scripture study wise... I'll have to do a seperate post on that...

But let's get back to Porter, and the egg shell analogy. I know I'm being long winded, but if feels good to try and put all of this into words. Up until this point they've been thoughts and frustrations that have just been swimming in my mind clouding out all other thoughts.

While I knew Porter needed a change in pace, didn't anticipate how angry Porter would be when he came home. Yelling, hitting things, slamming doors. Where is my sweet, happy child???

Perhaps he's just been so good all day, he's bottled up all of his frustrations at school, when he gets home all of his negative energy just explodes out For example, twice when I have told him he had to do something before doing something else...he yelled at me, "Rules, Rules, Rules, all I have are Rules!"

Another time he wanted to watch a kids show when got home, and I told him he'd already watched his kids show in the morning. He went off yelling and screaming for several minutes, he finally made sense when he blurted out, "I've been so good all day at kindergarten I deserve a kids show, all I want to do is watch a kids show." Luckily I'd just read a tip on baby center (thanks Jenni for sending me the link) one thing you can do with your kids is give them a second chance to say something. So I said something along the lines of. "Stop yelling. You're right, that's a good point, you have been good and I appreciate it. But that isn't the proper way to express your feelings. Why don't you start again and tell me in a more appropriate manner?" That worked but he kept trying to use it again and again to get more kids shows.

So I understand why he's acting the way he does, but it still doesn't make it acceptable. Luckily this experience has brought Doug and I closer together, instead of farther apart. We need support from each other. It helps me to take a step back and laugh with Doug as we watch this monster who has overtaken our sons body. On the worst night, I just waited for Doug to come to "fix" everything. Usually when I can't control Porter, Doug can. But it was just as bad, if not worse when Doug got home. So we loaded everyone up in the car and drove until he fell asleep. It was the only thing I could think of to diffuse the situation peacefully and rid our home of the contention.

Since then (Wednesday) I have walked on EGGSHELLS. I am just trying to make our home peaceful and contention free. I am careful about what I say. I am making great efforts to avoid triggering the anger button in Porter. But that button is so close to the surface, it's a tricky undertaking. I am trying to figure out what I can to do diffuse the anger.

I think clarifying my expectations may help. Like, writing a schedule out on the wall, so he knows exactly what I expect when... I think he knows, I think I've made it clear... but I don't think a little overkill in the arena would be a negative thing right now. Things like, when kids shows are allowed, when his room needs to be picked up. How many times he can invite friends over in a week. He's been hitting me a lot, I try to give him a warning before taking action, but I think I need to give him a consequence every time... he's past warnings.

I think I will unplug the cable, so the only shows he has access to are the videos we have (veggie tales, dora, simple sweet shows) so I won't have to fight the pleadings to watch shows with fighting in them, I don't even know the names of the cartoons that he wants, but my saying no triggers the above mentioned behavior.

Sleep, sleep, sleep... enough said, but how to make him sleep more?

Maybe he needs to drink more water. I've actually thought a lot about the success people have with diet in modifying behaviors of autistic children and adhd... I think it really would work for us, but how to start? The little research I've done has completely overwhelmed, no red dye #40? No processed anything? I've always thought people who worry about all that are over the top, but maybe not...

I try not to judge other people based on their children's behavior and choices. But it's hard to not judge myself, and wonder where I went wrong. I feel like Porter is 5 going on 15. I mean, you expect to have these kinds of problems when your son is going through puberty, but not when he's five. Which actually triggers another thought, I think that books, Raising Boys says that boys have surges of testosterone around ages 3, 6 and 12. Again, nice to think of another cause, but I still feel a sense of urgency to solve the problem.

This weekend has been better, I am sure a combination of no school and having both mom and dad around helps... but it could be the calm before another storm...

All in all, a memorable week, eh? It's hard to be a parent...