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    Smart ass #2… Or is it #3?

    December 29th, 2012

    Me: Hey guys, what would you like for breakfast?
    S2: Cereal!!!
    Me: G, how about you, bud?
    S2: [grin] poo-poo!

    In his defense, G asks for poo-poo all the time.

    Foto Friday (the Christmas edition)

    December 28th, 2012

    It was a quiet and peaceful Christmas at our home this year. Kids were awesome, we enjoyed the morning Skyping with the grand-parents and wrapped up the afternoon with a playdate with friends. As perfect as a girl can ask for!

    I am starting a new trend with holiday giving for us as of this year. Gifts of 4: something one needs, something one wants, something one wears and something one reads. It actually really helped me focus the gifts on the boys from us a ton. S took care of the “wants” per major wish-lists, while I acquired fuzzy socks and books for each. I don’t feel like our house is over-run with stuff, and the kids are already enjoying each of their gifts.

    G impressed me the day before Christmas by helping me go through the toys in the toy bins. I was hesitant to ask him to do this, but not only was he willing, he was SUPER helpful. We separated each of the toys into 3 piles: stuff that stays, stuff that goes in the garage for play-time in a few months, and stuff we donate. I was shocked by how freely he was ready to donate, knowing full well what it meant. It warmed my heart actually, although I won’t lie, there are some toys I am not ready to part with yet, so they’re heading to the garage and not the donation bin just yet.
    He was also really cute helping me shop for S. Both in his “something to wear” and also for his stocking. It was really, really fun doing that together, and I can’t wait for S2 to get a bit more coherent so he can participate too.

    Just about everything they received was a win: from the stomp rockets that are being launched (daily) at our ceiling, to the over-sized stuffed animals that are now bed-companions. I also did a bit of “shopping” for S2 out of our garage, since he’s into Legos, and we’ve got literally 3 full bins worth. He did get a Mrs. Potato Head, though, and I brought Mr. Potato Head out so there are more parts to go around. They’re happy kids.

    My new brilliant gift labels: address labels I printed out with G’s design consultation 🙂
    Oh also Amazon packing paper is awesome. Amongst its many talents: perfect wrapping paper

    New gloves for his bike

    G wanted to get S a blue griffin shirt.

    Head-light stocking stuffers. And yes, that is S2 staring into his. He lost his “light” consequently.

    There is room for him too… I think.

    Loving his new PJs and pillow

    She paid me a compliment

    December 25th, 2012

    My grandmother and I have never really gotten along. Ever since I was a kid. She was the person that made me recognize that while you may love someone you don’t have to like them as a person. Yes, I realize this is really sad to say, especially of family. But I mean it.

    She is stubborn. Never admits when she’s wrong (even when she is). She makes (and genuinely believes) her own interpretation of history. She can’t say more than 3 sentences about a person without also adding some gossip about them.

    I think I was maybe 8 or 9 when she “ran away from home” because of a fight we had. I stayed with my grandparents during the summer. Fighting between her and me was not unusual, but that was an especially bad one and she declared she couldn’t deal and left. I can’t remember what it was about, but I do remember that I felt awful about it, and so guilty… in concern for my grandFATHER’s feelings. After all, I just sent his wife away. But he was calm, and collected and never blamed me. Later, I came to know that this was not the first time she’d done that.

    She never voiced any congratulations, or pride in any accomplishment I reached. Nothing was ever enough. I wish I could say it was because she pushed me to be better or work harder. That usually comes with constructive criticism. Her comments contained none of that: just served to deflate ego.
    There’s a lot more, but those are stories I can only share in person.

    But I love her. Because she’s my grand-mother.

    As you can imagine, I don’t speak with her often. Her negativity is something I decided I didn’t need in my life. I call her on major holidays, or when it’s been just long enough that I can sustain another dose of her personality. She lives alone now, since my grandfather passed away. She’s lonely.

    Today, I write about her because something unexpected happened. I called her. And we talked. Our conversation contained much of our usual chatter, but her usual “self” was strangely subdued. It was reflective of her life. And very casually, maybe even unintentionally she paid me a compliment. She said that S and I were “capable and accomplished people, and we’ll take care of ourselves”. After we hung up, I started to cry. In my adult life, this is the only time she has ever said anything this nice to me. It’s probably the best Christmas gift.

    She’s not well. I don’t know what time she has left, but at least I know that should this be our very last talk, it’s probably the best conversation we can possibly have. And if it’s not? Well, it’s the one I’ll probably remember most.

    Movie Monday

    December 24th, 2012

    This is one of those videos you’ll only want to watch if you care about any of the kids performing. The cacophony is something spectacular, but I love it anyway 🙂 G is in the green shirt/beige slacks and Santa hat, 3 kids off center to the left.


    Oh, and if you’re wondering why you might not understand what the hell they’re saying, it’s because they’re singing in Mandarin. Our school has a Mandarin program, and that’s their teacher, Ms. L leading in the front.

    A G update

    December 21st, 2012

    It’s been three months now since I initially wrote about our parenting challenges with G. I’m really happy to say that sitting here today, as I write this, I feel that our world is very different. We see sweet, loving, funny, awesome G far more than angry and violent G. And when he does have outbursts, knock on wood, they are shorter, milder, and far and few between.

    I can’t tell you exactly WHAT did it. I feel like we’ve scrummed on this problem, and it’s made a difference. Our daycare has been exceptionally supportive, between the teachers and directors and that has been really good for my sanity and stress levels. Otherwise, here are some factors that have also come into play:

    Time. I think this extends itself two-fold. For starters he’s matured a little bit. Second, he’s had more time to acclimate to the transition of the pre-K room.

    Consistency. I think through the counseling S and I have gone through, we’ve become a lot more consistent in how we handle situations

    Counseling. G’s been seeing a play therapist for a few months now. Jury’s out on that, to be honest. I don’t know how much it’s helped because in the debrief session we had with her following, she was asking US more about what was going on, than providing any insights into their time together. G loves seeing her though, so I’m torn on whether to keep going.
    At the same time, S and I have been seeing a Parenting Coach, and she’s been awesome. We started down the path of looking at a multi-week Triple P program, only to find that one of the facilities that hosts the seminars, also offers 1:1 coaching. We decided to try it and it’s been great. It hasn’t been cheap, and sadly not covered by insurance, but it’s been a very valuable resource for us, and within the first hour we got more out of that conversation than the books we’d read and online courses we did. The changes we’ve made have been really small, and fairly simple, but surprisingly effective. We were encouraged to start doing daily reward charts, and man, it’s made a HUGE impact. He likes the stars, and the daily rewards for following on our rules. I see this being something we’ll keep in our parenting arsenal for behaviors we need to adjust for a long time to come. Maybe not with stars, though ;p

    Again, I feel so much better. We haven’t had a test of taking him to another doctor’s appointment, and our photo session didn’t go awesomely from his participation, but still, the day to day life is so much improved.

    Go G!

    Foto Friday

    December 21st, 2012


    I think I’ve lost

    December 19th, 2012

    I have tried. I have tried telling the story of the real St. Nicholas to the kids. But I’m going up against The Night Before Christmas Santa (hereafter referred to as “fake Santa”), and he’s FAR more glamorous than my real story. Plus “fake Santa” is the one the kids in pre-school talk about, make wish-lists out to, and have books read and songs sung in honor of. So, of course, G’s been asking about “fake Santa”!

    I’ve been very honest with him, trying to redirect him back to history, while trying to be very cautious not to use terms like “made up” or “make believe”. I’m trying to be sensitive to what other parents want their kids to believe, but it kinda irks me that I’m not getting the same favor in return. You see, now when I tell G that Santa doesn’t REALLY live on the North Pole, he yells at me saying “YES HE DOES!” He WANTS to believe in THAT Santa. Not my version Santa.

    And this is now where I have officially reached my line on faith and religion. I have promised myself to support my kids in whatever faith they choose for themselves. I want to expose them to all beliefs, but leave their final decision to what they associate themselves most with: whether they become, Buddhists, Christians or Muslim, or none of the above (although, I’ll be honest, I’ll have a hard time if they go evangelical in ANY sect). And right now? At the age of 4, G is choosing the Santa religion. It’s not what I would have wanted for him, but I have to respect it. He asked to go see Santa. I told him that it won’t be the REAL Santa, just someone dressed as Santa, and he still wanted to do it. My friends M hosted a brunch for the kids, and her dad dressed up. It was awesome, to be honest. I got to see friends, G got to see his Santa. I took pictures.

    I will continue to answer Santa questions as honestly as they apply to history. But I’m not pushing this anymore.

    Now onto the pictures:
    Santa’s in the house, and my monkeys wanted to sit/stand as far away as they could:

    … and eat fruit

    G finally warmed up, issued Hi-5’s and insisted he show “fake Santa” the specific tow truck he wants (Thank you, Amazon Storefront app)

    Amazingly S2 wouldn’t go anywhere near the man until I said “Hey, Go give him a hug”. And then this happened:

    (yep, that was a kiss!)

    Waving “Good Bye” as Santa loads up in his SUV. Reindeer are on strike ;p

    Oh, and this is H: S2’s future wife. She’s awesome, adorable, and a perfect match for his personality. And look! They like each other already. HA! (yes, of course, I prompted them to hug!)

    Fare thee well Mr. Anderson

    December 10th, 2012

    I found out that one of my high school teachers passed away yesterday.
    Strangely what I feel today is not a feeling a loss, but rather quite the opposite – a discovery. A discovery of self. It wasn’t until I started reading my friends’ posts about the influence he had on them that I realized the impact he had on my life, and who I am today because of being exposed to him.

    I’ll be honest, following graduation, I didn’t think about Mr. Anderson much. I remember him as a somewhat callous, but entertaining person to be around. I was intimidated and kind of scared of him. You see, Mr. Anderson was my theatre director. I never had him for an English or Theatre teacher, but I auditioned for plays in his program. He had my friend B spend time with me over lunch, on that high school stage, teaching me how to “be big” and flirt with my body in such a way that the audience in the back row could see it (I was Bianca in Taming of the Shrew, so this was kind of a requirement). I thought that I was just a bad actor. Well, maybe I was, but now that I see he treated even my most talented cohorts the same, I feel better, and made me understand that what he was doing was pushing us. He pushed ME hard, and was the first person to call out that just “being” wasn’t good enough. I had to try and work toward something.  Back then, I harbored feelings of inadequacy, but now I realize that it was him not accepting a “high school” performance; it was him insisting we be better and go beyond who we were. When I forcibly push myself outside of my comfort zone, I know now, in part it is because of him.

    I have fond memories of the time I spent with the friends I made during those years: the Thespian/Band crew. These are people that, today, I wish I kept in touch with more/more often. Perhaps I’ll get a chance to now that so many have come up to voice their respect for this man.
    It’s a group that was so bright, and full of potential. One that to this day I try to measure up to. It’s funny, yesterday, I could confidently tell you that I am very content with where I am in life, and what I’ve achieved. Don’t get me wrong, I still do, but all of a sudden where I am feels a lot smaller in the sea of everyone’s accomplishments.

    Lastly, I’ve realized that even though I’ve graduated high school and college; even though I’ve been working in the industry for over 10 years, in my mind Mr. Anderson along with the other influential teachers from my past, are still at ECHS. Still in their respective rooms, labs or studios. Still teaching. They’re so immortalized in my mind, that it rattles me to hear they are no longer (corporally) with us. Damn. My bigger than life people are human, and I never took the time to go back and acknowledge their incredible impact on my life.
    I’m going to work to change that this week.

    Rest in peace Mr. Anderson. And thank you! Thank you for who you have helped make me.

    Movie Monday

    December 10th, 2012

    Bubble wrap is still a good toy!


    All I want for Christmas

    December 7th, 2012

    This is G’s letter to Santa. They did it at school. My eyes are seriously tearing up… from LAUGHTER. Mud in a box? 2 door with 2 men? 5 wheels. Ok, kid!