Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Dear John

A Message from John Cleese

To: The citizens of the United States of America:

In light of your failure to nominate competent candidates for
President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give
notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately.

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical
duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except
Kansas , which she does not fancy).

Your new prime minister, Gordon Brown, will appoint a governor for
America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded.

A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any
of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown Dependency, the following
rules are introduced with immediate effect:

You should look up "revocation" in the Oxford English Dictionary.

1. Then look up aluminium, and check the pronunciation guide. You
will be amazed at just how wrongly you have been pronouncing it.

2. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'favour'
and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without
skipping half the letters, and the suffix -ize will be replaced by
the suffix -ise.

Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to
acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary' ).

3. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises
such as "like" and "you know" is an unacceptable and inefficient form
of communication.

There is no such thing as US English. We will let Microsoft know on
your behalf. The Microsoft spell- checker will be adjusted to take
account of the reinstated letter 'u' and the elimination of -ize. You
will relearn your original national anthem, God Save The Queen.

4. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

5. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns,
lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and
therapists shows that you're not adult enough to be independent.

Guns should only be handled by adults. If you're not adult enough to
sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist then
you're not grown up enough to handle a gun.

6. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything
more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. A permit will be required if
you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

7. All American cars are hereby banned. They are crap and this is for
your own good. When we show you German cars, you will understand what
we mean.

8. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will
start driving on the left with immediate effect. At the same time,
you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of
conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you
understand the British sense of humour.

9. The Former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been
calling gasoline)-roughly $6/US gallon. Get used to it.

10. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French
fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling
potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut,
fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

11. The cold tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not
actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be
referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted
provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also
acceptable as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting Nation
on earth and it can only be due to the beer. American brands will be
referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold
without risk of further confusion.

12. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as
good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to
play English characters.

Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialogue in Four Weddings
and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed
with a cheese grater.

13. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind
of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough
will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities
to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every
twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of
nancies). Don't try Rugby - the South Africans and Kiwis will thrash
you, like they regularly thrash us.

14. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to
host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played
outside of America . Since only 2.1% of you are aware that there is a
world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will
learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to
take the sting out of their deliveries.

15. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

16. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's
Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all
monies due (backdated to 1776).

17. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 pm with proper cups, never
mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; strawberries in

God save the Queen.

Only He can.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Preschool Puzzles

Ah, yes. Now that the little bugger is 3, and schools are beginning to accept registration to the 3yo programs in Sept., we (the Carlson/Lee's) need to make a decision.

Here I will go through the thought processes... First: what is the point of it? To help the little man socialize, and to give him access to more kids through which he can learn, in a loving and safe environment. I would LOVE to have some dedicated time w/out a child at home, too. I wonder if I will use it prductively, I hope I will. But either way, it's time for me to get a break.

Decision 1. Hours. morning or afternoon? 2 or 4 hours? once, twice, thrice, or five days a week?

Thoughts on Decision 1. : fewer days, longer hours would be ideal. Ideal would be 9 or 10 -1 Tues and Thurs. The only place that has those hours/days is the JCC which is a LOT more money, because membership is required (which means belonging to a gym again). Bonus: he gets extras like swim lessons, we can add extra hrs. if we need to, and there is a nice play area outside. It's NOT local, about 15 min, each way. I could build work outs 2 days a week into my schedule (tho there is no care for him on other days). I will have to call them to find out more. I'm sure this is the MOST expensive option, because it's inclusive of the membership. Sigh.

Decision 2. : local vs. travel

Thoughts on Decision 2. : there are some wonderful options locally, although none of them really offer the hours I would ideally prefer. TVN has 2.5 hrs 2 or 3 days a week, and BMSD has 5x/wk 2.5 hrs. and the candy place has 2.5 hrs. 2 days a week (cheapest option). but requires a little more travel - 10 min each way. The other two are completely local, less than 5 min. travel. This is not unimportant! Supporting local businesses is important to me. I often pay extra for this service. Also, the travel time cuts into the time away from dc.

Decision 3. : Homeschool vs. Nursery school

I think there is a misunderstanding that if one doesn't start sending their children to nursery or pre school at 3 that they are planning to home school? Or that it is some kind of disservice to their children. T and D sent the kids to the candy place, but only for 1 year preceeding kindergarten. Keeping him home this year seems already to have pushed the envelope for a lot of people (although according to the school district calendar he is smack on target). I have no intention of changing or making any decision based on what other people want for him, that's just silly. It's the fact that I don't really know what I want for him that is making this hard. Making the decision for ME is feeling somewhat ... upstream.

I *could* home school dc, he's an easy kid to teach, loves to watch and learn, and really enjoys being a part of everything. Otoh, I think he'd love being with other children, too. He *might* not, but I really think he'd be likely to enjoy the time w/other children his own age. Once warmed up. And this is part of the problem for me w/the shorter days that the local schools have. They have short 2.5 hr days, that mean that a kid who warms up slowly really doesn't get much of a chance to do stuff if it takes him 1+hr to warm up to the environment. I'm sure that over time he'd get much better about being dropped off etc., but right at first I am guessing that there will be separation issues.

I think all the classrooms - other than the Montessori - are very mainstream, not a lot of wooden toys, not a lot of the quality that I am used to from BMSD or WHMS in their materials. But I'm not sure that would be a huge issue. I am sure, if we are here, that he could get into BMSD as a 4yo, no problem. So what I'm looking for, I guess, is something for ME. And that means fewer days per week (forcing me to really be productive on those days) and longer hours (so that more can get done), local. Which doesn't exist.

JAC feels he doesn't need it at all, but I really think he'll enjoy it tremendously. Three short days may be a nice medium if 2 long are not an option. :D

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Keeping warm

The championship playoffs were on last weekend, we watched the Pats game at home, sort of during, sort of after Ori's party. Pats won! Laura would be thrilled, beyond thrilled, OVERJOYED! And then we ate a nice birthday supper and off to the Grogan's to watch the Giants game, which was a real neck - in - neck race! Giants, thank the french toast goddess, won! They played in Green Bay (and we DO love the Packers, but who could root against their own home team?) and it was NEGATIVE 22F out. Those boys looove football, as Beca and I say! It's fully fully winter out, there is no doubt. The house feels chilly, and we are spending a small (or not so small!) fortune on heating oil. Until we come in from outside, and then the house, with our down parkas, hats, mitts, scarves, and sweaters on, is sweltering! It's all about staying WARM, finding that important balance.

JAC and I played Abounding River last night - I gotta say I'm really glad we got the chance to play a little, and that it was just he and I for the first round of play, and that now I know what it's about. It's really a very woowoo game, but fun, too, and the laughing spot is hysterical! It was nice, especially, not to sit by my self while he watched more games on tv. :-D A nice balance for us, to once in a while do stuff really just I want to do, though he is willing, and most of the time he gets to do what he likes to do, veg and chill.

Randy says "It is a mistake to try to gain control over your home when you haven't gained control over your own behavior and emotions." It is modeling what you DON'T want you children to do, and expecting them not to follow your lead! STUPID! Am I guilty? Of course I'm guilty. Am I excessively guilty? I hope not. I see some of their bad behavior and wonder where that comes from - and it's almost always me. Impatience, snappishness, inability to just let go and let others do things their own way. UGH! I am really going to work on this.

Today I tried to implement one of the notes from last night's game - that I would take 20 min to myself for writing. I did find something that engaged Ori for 20 min., but wasted the time online. BAD. Then, when I WAS motivated to do some writing, he was needing me like every 5 min. It was a hard moment. At one point, he really lost his cool (which for 3 is pretty predictable) and pinched me HARD to make his point. I shouted at him - mostly in pain - and sent him away from me for a few minutes. He went upstairs. About 2 min later, I went up and we apologised to each other using both words and hugs and snuggles. Again, finding that balance is not easy. He can't hurt people, but he isn't always old enough to use his words effectively. And if he doesn't get what he wants, he can get ornery quite fast lol! Otoh, at 3 (or almost three, or 3.5) I think he's really capable of a few 20 min. sessions w/out full time (unpaid) entertainment. I know he is. JAC believes this too. Benign neglect is a LOT about having him take charge of his own entertainment, and ALSO about him learning how to ask for help. Keeping warm when things get too cold (in solitude) or hot (in anger). Balance.

Tomorrow we'll try again. He has a busier day, with music class in the AM and I think I'm going to try to get to the parent teacher store in Latham and see what's what for learning multiples. Poor Beca. Finding a balance in this for her is HARD. It's hard for me too. I KNOW she can do this, I support her 100%, but all the things I have tried have failed because she isn't motivated. WHY?? WHY isn't she motivated? I don't know. I do care, but I don't know how to get to the answer. So, in the meantime, she can learn them or sit in the trailer while we do fun stuff at disney. It's going to be her big reward to have all the rides and fun stuff at Disney for 4 days - and if she doesn't learn them, she can watch the fireworks from the camper. :-( I just don't know another way, other than letting go completely...and given that she has state mandated math exams in March, I don't feel comfortable with that option. Sigh. Where oh were is the warm spot in all this? Back to real life, to seeking the place of harmony.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Balloon time!

It's very quiet here, right now. The gang have all gone off to pick up balloons for Ori's little party - two children (one other who is visiting his grandfather's in Rochester will come by next weekned) for a playdate, some cake, juice, and fun. Not a big deal. But this birthday, in perspective, is the biggest birthday I think a child can have. It represents for me a loss of babyhood, completely. It is time to use words, push against mama more than ever, in some cases for the first time. It begins a process of weaning from the parent that will continue for the next 15+ years, but didn't happen last year, and certainly not the year before. Until now, it's really been all about being close to me, to us. About sleeping close, being close in strange new places, being held or touched or in some way connected to me/us pretty much all the time. And now, for the first time, there is some expectation that he can participate without us - gymnastics, library story time, even the concept of preschool beginning at 3 (which if we do will begin at 3.9 for Ori) is all about that break away moment for them.

I believe it doesn't happen because of balloons or a cake, but because it takes about that long for their willfulness to mature into something they can control - not random willful behaviour, as had been the case, but focused, directed stubborn behaviour. Directed and focused almost entirely at me, but that's par for the mama course, isn't it! And I'm really good with that. When Beca turned three, I so clearly remember her at her party, all the neighbor kids in the backyard, splashing in the hot tub and playing in the sand box. She had such a fabulous good time, and really enjoyed the attnention ( not to mention gifts lol) that I can remember looking at her and seeing for the first time a child who was full of her own desires and dreams, whos likes and dislikes were forming at an alarming rate, but who would not be swayed by my own opinions anymore. From trying a new food, to wanting or not wanting school/clubs/sports, she had formed her own opinions of things and was now sort of done w/me and my silly adult opinions.

I don't think Ori is in that same place on his 3rd birthday, but I can see him getting there rapidly. He is still a very cuddly little fellow, with a huge need for connection, and I am so grateful for that! It's lovely to have his sticky little hands holding mine, his sweet smelling breath in my nose at night, his deep brown eyes looking for me at the gymnasium, connecting, smiling, and then running back off to join the group.

I think aside from cake, balloons are the thing he wanted the most today. So we got a pack of helium ones, and daddy will blow up a bunch of others for kicking around during the play party. It's all good fun for him, everything a smile and a giggle. He is thrilled with the gifts he received - an engine wash from Didi and Uncle Ken, two new games for his First Click computer from Grandma and Poppy, tree blocks, Smiley Face game, and a basketball set up from Daddy and me, and a new card game from Beca. Joyce sent him two balance games (cactus one is TOO CUTE) as well, so he is full up on games and toys to last the whole year long! He is very appreciative, makes wonderful eye contact and lights up the room with his gratitude and joy. It's amazing... He's such an amazing little person, I am so very appreciative of his energy and spirit here with us right now. I feel like a blessing has been dropped on us in the way of a 3yo 30lb bomb of a little boy - can I gush enough???

So, the gang returns, and it is time to get the cake iced. Balloons will fill the house, and I look forward to that more than I can say with words. :D

Friday, January 04, 2008

Is it just me??

The Iowa caucuses are over. Thank goodness! I honestly think it's a lot of stuff and nonsense about very little. Very little good, anyway. Is it just me, or are there other people worried about how to pay taxes, pay down debt, including Giftmas debt!, and figure out how to save a few dollars for retirement? Let alone figure out how to sock away a few dollars to help Rebecca, and later Orin, get through college or grad school or pay for a trip to Australia? It's amazing to me to think that with all the money floating around out there - more millionaires in 2007 than any other year, more grant money, more lottery winners, etc., that there are so MANY people who have these worries?

And so we worry about which presidential candidate will run for president this year. Because this IS important. This is certainly ONE of the most powerful, if not THE most powerful, countries in the world, which is a small and increasingly sour world, but still the only world we've got. The person charged with making some pretty damned big decisions - like reducing war debt and changing the structure of political decision making and redistributing the annual budget so that the war machine does NOT get 50% of our national budget, well we are going to have to be pretty damned stupid to give this to someone, anyone, who hasn't PROVEN and I mean seriously PROVEN that they can handle making these decisions! A preacher? WTF??? I looked him up online. He's an NRA, Pro-Life, minimal help kinda guy, the way I see it. He's smart and hard working, and full of the righteousness of the chosen, the blievers.

So then I went back to see what Barack was saying to everyone. I guess I was really hoping to find someone who has the ability and strengths to find NEW solutions, to insure people WELL, to provide interesting and useful alternatives in the fields of education, energy consumption, transportation, and technology. Who will see that freedom is CHOICE, and that to reduce the choices is to attack American freedom. I don't want to be parented, I already survived that (and not by much!). I want someone who will run our Health Care system to the benefit of PEOPLE, not drug companies or hospitals or doctor's insurance agents. I want someone who will figure out a National Transportation Act, who will make car companies accountable for their cars, and fast food companies accountable for their food. Who want to protect our children by letting parents make decisions about them, whether to vaccinate or educate or what kind of health care works for them best. It doesn't seem appropriate to allow children to suffer, but if a child is not suffering and parents choose to 'treat' an illness in a way that doesn't work, even resulting in the death of a child, is that not alright? Is it not their decision to make? I can appreciate that it is a hard decision to make, and we would absolutely have to revamp the entire social services system to make that kind of decision making possible, but we CAN make that happen. I think it's entirely possible, and would make for a stronger, better America, one who believes in the choices of people, and the rights of parents to be informed and empowered.

Ok, it's time for me to get movtiated and start the day here. My little rant is over. But I do hope that somehow things change for the better for EVERYONE, raising up those who feel oppressed, and bringing heart and love and change to those who don't.

Peace all.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

A few favorites

Here's some favorite pictures from the past year. This may get long...

Things that help stop the yelling.

I have been trying to stop (or reduce!?) the am't of yelling that I do at my kids. I feel like I've notched it way back, if I don't have AF coming, and it's certainly a LOT less than when I was a kid, but I do still yell. On MDC I helped to put this list together. Again, it's not exhaustive, but it IS pretty good! :D

1. whisper
2. be clear about what you want.
3. give them easy directions that get you what you want (not requests)
4. apologize afterward (which I'm on the fence about - I think it IS right to let them know we are human and make mistakes, but unless we are really not going to do it next time, apologies don't mean much, kwim? I grew up w/a yelling mom who would tell me how human she was all the time, and it got annoying and I learned only to ditrust her.)
5. Enunciate!

and from the other thread Pat led us to (thank you Pat!)

6. STOP! What are you feeling (anger, what ELSE?)? Don't judge whether it is ok to feel this way, just OBSERVE that this is what you are feeling. What do you NEED in that red hot moment? Quiet? Space? Love? Understanding? Cooperation? Now go get it!
7. recharge before it's too late! Take a 10 min. time out and breathe, stretch, do something physical (chop wood, shovel dirt or snow, clean out the car (or some of it lol!), etc.
8. establish patterns that work for you. Cleaning bedrooms before bathtime, all toys away before dinner, etc. Try flylady.com for ideas.
9. pick your battles
10. have a keepsafe - a small rock, crystal, or token in your pocket to remind you of what you WANT in that red hot moment (what DID you want?)
11. redirect redirect redirect.
12. make sure you are happy with most of the rest of your life - your sex life, your productivity, your spirituality need to be taken care of before you will have enough energy to successfully take care of anyone else.
13. Be in the present: if you are wanting to be somewhere else, or doing something else, it's going to be harder than normal to be patient.
14. Let go of needing your children to be anything but what they are. They will never embarrass you or make you out to be what you aren't (ie: a bad mother) because their honesty, goodness and loved-ness will SHINE because you trust them, know them, and love them no matter what.
15. eat good food with regularity.
16. Sleep whenever you can or need to. Bring the kids, lock the bedroom door, and sleep.
17. it's not our job to be "perfect" as mothers but simply to be fully present with our children (and partners)
18. Not should, but WILL, or don't like, or I'm letting go of... Should implies you did it WRONG. There is no wrong, only little lessons that take us further along the path.
19. Be aware of yourself - are you hungry, tired, overstimulated, stressed, hormonal? Take care of these and then deal with the rest.
20. Find humor in the situation: is it funny that she is wearing her pajamas unside down? that he's running around naked playing air guitar with his schmeckle? that she needs 14 teddies and her stuffed lizard to be able to sleep in bed at night? Kinda. So laugh a little, tell them you love them and are close to imploding, and say goodnight. you'll check on them. You'll be back in a few minutes and if they're in bed you'll read to them. Whatever you need to do. A touch of humor can go a loooong way to difusing a potentially violent (as in yelling) situation.
21. make contact with your child(ren). Eye, body, etc.
22. stop what you are doing. make them the most important thing in that moment.
23. keep your point short and sweet.
24. no means no. don't repeat yourself.
25. Have FUN with your family! Every relationship should have a fun element to it - take pleasure in each other's company.
26. natural child website

And a few from me.

1. PMS. 3 days before and 2 days after my period I'm a real she-bear! I'm grumpier, need more sleep, chocolate, and love than any other time of the ... month lol! Being aware of this helps me, I take some herbal supplements to help me w/my lower levels of patience.

2. TV is not all bad. I use it to give myself a bit of a breather. Sometimes I use it more than I like, some days more than others, but I have learned that if I do use it, not to beat myself up over it. At all.

3. Do things in parallel - esp. good for littles under 5. Color - on separate pages. Read - different books. Dig - your own sand traps. It's ok to NOT do every single thing for them, or even with them.

4. Whenever possible, let them work out their differences. Give them a peaceful space to do this. Give them boundaries (no name calling, use the person's actual name etc.) and let them work it out. They will learn to both appreciate and respect each other in a way that YOU solving their problems will never do for them.

5. Cook ahead as much as possible. Chop up onions on the weekends, and keep them in the fridge. Onions make eggs, potatoes, tofu, and many other foods a meal.

6. Get OUT. Take a walk, bundle up, just get OUT. It will really help!

7. Make plans. Looking forward to things is a wonderful way to get through the day.

8. Join a club or circle or group. Book club, women's circle, or writing group - doesn't much matter. It's something for you about you and keeps you going.

9. Treat yourself once in a while! A mani or pedicure, a babysitter, a new pair of shoes. It doesn't have to be super expensive (a new pair of flip flops will seriously make me HAPPY), but once every 4 mos or more frequently if you can afford it, it makes a HUGE difference.

10. Look into your insurance - mine will pay for up to 6 massages a year, and several chiro visits as well (with a co-pay). These are a wonderful way to relax your day and give you something to look forward to!

11. Are you and are your children eating well for YOU? make sure you aren't allergic or reacting to your food.

12. CST/Chiro is a wonderful way to realign your body and mind.

13. Find a friend, get together, share war stories. I find it is so empowering to find a woman and share stories. Listening and offering empathy, maybe a word of advice, and getting the same in return is amazing. I had to really break out of a shell to find someone like that here, but once I did I really felt SO much better about myself! It made me yell less often because I could feel the 'virtual' support of my friend saying - yeah, wow, that would make me angry too! So, what do you need to do to deal with it w/out yelling? It SO helped!

14. BREATHE. Seriously. Yelling is pushing air OUT. Take in deep breathes and you are less likely to push it out with a yell.

Oh, wanted to list some of the books that were mentioned:

Liberated children, liberated parents by Mazlish and Faber
Easy to love:difficult to discipline by Becky Bailey
Scream Free Parenting
Dance of Anger Harriet Lerner
How to talk so your kids will listen and listen so your kids will talk

I think Amazon has all these books - so will most libraries!