Monday, June 28, 2010

New Babies

Just over two weeks ago, we adopted two 8wk-old babies:

Meet Clover...

...and Jax

We were looking at the humane society website, and their process is always so long and difficult, at least in this area, that I decided to look in the paper as well, and as luck would have it, a woman had listed kittens, free to good home, and a phone number. I called, and we went over that evening. Her neighbor had found a litter abandoned in her barn, no mother in sight, when the kittens were about two weeks old. The woman had taken them in, and had bottle fed them until they were ready for real food. They're just adorable, and we decided to take them both! We didn't want to tell the kids they had to pick one, because the fighting would have started as to which one we should take, and besides, since they're littermates, and opposite sexes, we're pretty sure they won't have a problem with each other when they get bigger, especially since they will both be losing their card-carrying gender identities shortly.

Jax thinks he's a dog. He even eats cheese poofs!

Of course, being random kittens, they were a mess - ear mites, kitten lice (thank GOD lice don't wander inter-species, because EEWWWW) and the usual worms, but they're clear of the big problems (feline HIV and leukemia) that they could have inherited from their mother, which I didn't even think about at the time. PHEW.

Yes, this is Clover climbing over Baci's paws to eat his new bone right under his face.

We brought them home and made their home base Josie's room, so they could start small, and slowly allowed them to roam the house. We put up the giant baby gate across the bottom of the stairs so the dogs have to stay down here unless we're with them, and the kittens can come and go as they please. Soon we'll move their dishes and box out of Josie's room, but for the moment it's the best place to keep them, because we can shut them in there when we're gone, or at night, and know that they have everything they need in a place where the dogs can't visit the Kitty Box Buffet. It's their favorite restaurant. Blecch.

Hey, I can get this water back later, right?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

More, Please

I finished my first two classes for grad school this past week. I can't believe they're done already; the month went by so fast. It seems crazy that we could do an entire course in a month, but because we meet for 4hrs at a time, 4wksx8hrs=32 hrs, which is the regular number of hours a course would meet in an entire semester. My next class, intro to special ed, is only three days long, but it's a 1-credit class, and we'll still get in 12hrs of instruction. I don't understand why we're only spending one credit on special ed, when every single class has children with special needs in it, and I wish there was at least one entire full-length course on it, but I suppose that we will probably address special needs instruction through our other courses as well, so maybe the one-credit class will focus on classroom issues and identification, IEPs, and working with parents and leave the rest to the other courses. We had the professor who designed the MAT program as an instructor this past session, and he's a genius, so I guess I should trust his judgment, and wait and see.

One thing I love about being back in school again is rediscovering the feeling that I am a capable individual, that I'm good at something. In the nine years that I've been at home with the kids (OMG, I can't believe it's been that long), I'd gotten so used to not doing anything unique or special (yes, raising children is special, you know what I mean), and not getting noticed for anything other than 'the house looks nice' or 'your children are so smart!' that I forgot that *I'M* smart, too. It feels amazing to actually DO something with my mind, and have someone tell me that what I did was really great, or good job, excellent point, you're really talented at this. Getting that first A on a quiz was like handing a former addict a hit off a mirror - MORE, please. NOW. It was like in The Wizard of Oz, when the color comes on. I'm colorful again! It's not that I think that staying at home with the kids has been not worth my while, or that I'm not going to miss being available to them at all times, just in case, because I'm kind of stressed out about that. It's about my rediscovering my own personality that I've had to shut down in many ways over the past almost-decade, the one that is competitive and project-driven and feedback-oriented. The only feedback I've gotten in years is about laundry and whether the house smells nice, and I learned to get satisfaction from that, but none of that is anything to do with who I am inside. Everyone cleans house, goes to the grocery store, does all the mundane things of everyday life; it doesn't take anything extra to do those things. I've gotten really comfortable in those roles, so much so that I was letting my brain slide into nowhere without even realizing it.

It's not that I think everyone would or is this way, and I mean no disrespect for people who are happy and feel completely fulfilled at home, because it's a great choice *if you choose it*. I never actually chose to stay at home; I was laid off when I was pregnant, and then we couldn't afford daycare for two if I went back, and I had hated what I was doing, anyway, so I stayed at home. I was in grad school when I was laid off, and had to stop 3/4 of the way to an MBA. So, I accepted where we were, and watched DH get *his* grad degree with envious eyes because he didn't even want to go back to school, while all my work slipped away. We realized that my staying at home would be an immeasurable gift to the kids, and so I did it, and I have loved being with them. They have taught me so much, and given me so much, more than I have given them. But, now that they need less of me, I can take those parts of me back, dust them off, and remember how they used to fit into the puzzle that is Me. The greedy part of me is ready for more.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

People Who Steal From Kids SUCK

Josie's bike, the one we got her for her birthday last month, was stolen from our garage sometime after midnight on Friday morning. SUCK. It was her first big-person bike, a 26in sky blue Schwinn 18spd mountain bike. She'd only had it for about five weeks.

We've never had anything stolen like that before, and it totally pisses me off. It also freaks me out just a little. Our garage is detached, and because we're on a corner, it's behind the house but still faces onto the main road. Still, someone walked past our cars (and presumably at least looked in them, too - we usually leave them unlocked as well because there's nothing in them worth stealing), looked around in our garage, and wheeled her bike out down our driveway and into the street. Nothing else was taken - her old bike, her brother's Ben 10 bike, my bike, all the tools, etc were all still there. WTF? Not that I wanted anything else to get ripped off, it's just that really? They stole a young girl's bike? That makes me even *more* mad, because at least if they'd taken mine, *'I* would be the one annoyed, and my baby wouldn't be upset. Yes, we had been leaving the garage door open, and have for almost the whole time we've lived here, because the track is bent a little and the kids can't open and shut it themselves, so it's a pain, but now I guess we'll have to keep is shut, since there's a little thief that's moved in. >:(

I finally decided to call the police, not because I think they're going to find it but because I just wanted them to know it had happened, in case there ends up being a rash of that kind of thing happening so they'll see a pattern. They guy who came out was really nice, gave me his name and number and told me to call in a couple of weeks to see if it ends up in the lost-and-found (we don't have the VIN# on it, so they won't be able to ID it and call us). DH took Josie around the neighborhood to look for it, too, to see if maybe someone had dumped it somewhere, but no. I imagine it's either several blocks away in the alley near some kid's house or, more likely, at a pawn shop so some idiot could get money for booze.

Thankfully, July is a 3-paycheck month, so we'll have some extra money. Josie has camp this coming week, and then is going to SC with a friend's family literally right after camp on Friday, so by the time she gets home we'll have gotten her a new one. Argh. There goes another $160. I know that's not a huge amount of money, but it's still a lot, and not what I was planning on spending money on. When we were at her house today (we had a family thing this afternoon, ugh), my MIL tried to get me to take some bike she'd saved from when my now-20yo niece was Josie's age. Like I'm going to give the kid a ten year old used road bike that's been in a basement for who knows how long as a replacement for a brand-new mountain bike birthday present?! She had actually tried to get me to take it to give to her as the gift in the first place, too. What is she thinking?

So, when DH gets paid next week, that will be me, heading over to Target to pick up another bike so when Josie comes home, she will have her freedom back again. She had been riding all over creation on that thing, and aside from the exercise, I think it was just good for her confidence and sense of self. That's work more than any bike. I just wish if someone was going to take it that they'd waited until she was away, and then I could have replaced it with her none the wiser. The look on her face when she realized it was gone... sigh.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Been Awhile

Hey there! It's been a loooong time since I was here!!! With all the health stuff that was going on, and school starting, the last month has gone by almost without my noticing. The breathing thing seems to be under control now, with daily prevacid controlling the vocal chord swelling and allergy meds controlling the everything else swelling, the fifth grade graduation project over and the shock and stress of starting grad school over.

I LOVE grad school. LOVE IT. I've never been in a class where not only is everyone smart, but also is genuinely into being there. Always in undergrad, and even in grad classes I've taken before for business programs, there have always been people there who really aren't interested in being there, they're there because they have to be for one reason or another. My first class is over already (an entire semester crammed into three weeks, for cripes sake), and the second class will finish up this Thursday. Then I'll be off until the 5th. Woosh!

I've been practicing lately with leaving Josie alone, since she'll be by herself for 2hrs a day once I start student teaching, and it's fine. She's not nervous or weirded out, it's just me. It feels SO WEIRD to say, 'bye baby, be good, stay indoors, we'll be back soon' and walk off with Patrick to run errands. It's also nice, though. There's no bickering in the car, they get sorely-needed time apart, and I get alone time with Patrick that I've never been able to have before, time that Josie and I had for years before he was born. He's a fun kid, especially when his sister isn't around, because there's no one for him to annoy, so I don't end up annoyed with him for being annoying. Actually, we're going to be having a lot of alone-together time coming up, too, because next week Josie will be at day camp every day, and on Friday rather than bringing her home, she's going to a friend's house straight from camp because she's been invited to go with them to SC on vacation for a week and they want to leave at 3am on Sat. So she'll be completely gone for another whole week. It will be weird, even though she's gone away with friends before.

I'm trying really hard to practice letting her go a little, in the cosmic sense. She's starting middle school, and I want to give her space to feel her growth, not surround her so completely that she's going to have a massive rebellion just to get air. It's hard. I had to read a book for my last class on parenting, so I chose 'How To Hug A Porcupine', which is about tweenage parenting, and I also just finished 'Ophelia's Mom', which is by the mother of the girl who wrote 'Ophelia Speaks' (which I'm just getting ready to read), about mom reactions and coping to their teenage daughter's behaviors and rebellions. They were both very interesting (I'll post reviews on poor, neglected Literally Booked in awhile), and one idea I got from them is to allow her to keep her period stuff private for awhile. So, this week when I was at the store, I stood in the pad and tampon aisle, trying to figure out what to get for her to keep in her room so, if she doesn't want to tell me right away when she gets her period, she doesn't have to. We've already talked all about it, she knows all the mechanics she needs to know, and I know it's coming soon, so rather than have her use my stuff, which is probably too big, or feel like she wants to hide doing the toilet paper thing, she can have her own supply in her room for when she needs it. I finally found these tiny little tampons (I can't believe there were actually 18 in that little box, they must come out like salt from a shaker) and smaller winged pads. When I got home, I gave them to her and explained that I hoped she'd want to tell me when The Time comes, but if she doesn't want to, I will respect her privacy, and she can just wait until she needs more or is comfortable telling me. I think it worked, because that was two days ago, and last night for the first time *she* actually approached *me* with a question, rather than me going to her with information. That's a big step for a girl who used to cringe, and sometimes cry, at every thought of growing up.

I do feel weird, though, even at the thought of someone else having pads in the house. I mean, that's *my* department. Hers is supposed to be band-aids.