Sunday, February 28, 2010

D Day

And by D, I mean diet. And by diet, I mean Dr. Ian Smith's Fat Smash Diet. And by Fat Smash, I mean to smash my fat thankyouverymuch.

It's pretty straightforward. Phase one starts tomorrow and I'll be up to my molars in veggies, fruits, water, and some low fat dairy. Lucky for me, I love water, fruits, veggies, and low fat dairy. But I did check and low fat dairy in no way includes low fat ice cream, darn the bad luck. However, I figure I've had my share of ice cream already for the next five years so there you go.

This is a nine day detox. Nine days. Sigh. But I'm dedicated to the process and ready to get back in my groove. I'm doing well in my exercise groove, so it's time to work on my diet and nutritional groove. However, if I start talking about drinking green water, please plan an intervention because I will have taken it too far. I know I kid around and I'm being a smart a**, but I'm serious about changing my lifestyle. I'm taking the pictures to prove it. The jury is still out on whether or not I'll post the pictures here.

Dr. Ian, I'm expecting some dramatic results if I'm giving up my Healthy Choice Cafe Steamers, peanut butter, and pretzel sticks.

Stay tuned for the results.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The good and bad

What to do, what to do.....on this beautiful Saturday, what to do?

I'm happy to report for the first Saturday in months and possibly years, we didn't hear or see an ankle biter until the unheard of late hour of 7:30. Well, it was actually 7:27, but let's not get too technical.

By the time I washed my face, brushed my teeth, and made it downstairs the kids had already demolished a bowl or two of cereal each. R and I had discussed making pancakes -- or rather my making pancakes -- this morning, so I asked him if he still wanted pancakes, and he did, so I started the process. This morning starting the process involved unloading the dishwasher so that I can put the dirty dishes from last night in. Nothing like having to clean the kitchen before you can use it. But we took the kids to the pool last night after dinner, so I'm not one bit sorry we chose family time over me having to clean the kitchen. To our great surprise, both the kids ate again. Go figure.

Once that was done, we were deciding what running around needed to be done and made our list of "Things to Accomplish Today". Mainly we just wanted to get the oil changed in our vehicles. Luckily, we had a coupon for 2 for 1 oil changes, so that's how we got it done. Then off to Best Buy for an external hard drive to use as back up (perish the thought that any of our computers crash and we lose even more photos, documents, and miscellaneous records. Oh the horror! And since it's happened three or four times in the last five years, chances are good that it will happen again. Usually right when we need something. C'est la vie. Coming out of Best Buy, I reached into my pocketbook to find keys and cut my finger wide open. I had no idea what on earth could have been in my pocketbook that would slice my finger like that, but when I got home we narrowed it down to either the metal binding on my address book or the edge of the checkbook cover were it split. So, with such a mixed day going on, here's my list of good and bad for the day.

Sleeping in until 7:27
Serving pancakes for breakfast, kids eating some too, but not having to wipe syrup off the walls, floor, and table.
Beautiful weather...sunshine included. YESSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!
Finding a 2 for 1 oil change coupon
Being able to leave both cars at the same time to get the oil changed
Taking the kids to Applebee's for lunch while the oil was being changed and having them behave like the perfect little angels that their grandparents think they are.
Finding what we need at Best Buy and not walking out with very much that we don't need. Granted, in order to accomplish this I practically had to wear blinders.
Having a band aid when I needed one
Programming my car to double as my garage door opener. (Yay me!)
Getting a quote for replacing the timing belt, water pump, and associated belts and pulleys that was $200 less than just changing the timing belt the first place I looked into it.
Having a good hair day considering that I did nothing to it.
Putting on my pants and noticing a positive difference in the way they fit.
The kids sharing a race car buggy at Best Buy and actually not fighting over who was looking at whom, who was in whom's space, etc.
Finding the Black Eyed Peas cd I've been wanting.

Slicing my finger open.
S refusing to let us change her diaper even though she was poopy.
Bending over to pick something on the floor and smacking my head into the wall. Graceful, no? I mean, it's not like I didn't realize the wall was there....
T bumping into S and knocking her down, causing her to skin up her knee and want to be carried everywhere for an hour.
Trying to roll the kids out to the car in the car buggy, only to have the car buggy set off the alarm at Best Buy and then not understanding the first time the Best Buy employee told us that it was the cart that set off the alarm so we did it again. Niiiiiice one.

So looking back, I'd have to say - we had a very, very, very good day. Now all I need is a workout and a nap, not necessarily in that order.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Skate night!

Yesterday, right as we were heading out the door to take T to school, he announced that he had mail. When he says that, he means that his teacher sent something home with him that I need to see. Now you may be wondering, well why didn't you ask him when he got home from school if he had mail? Ahh, I did, but he said no, and I left it at that. He's generally pretty good about remembering such things, so it wasn't a big deal, just unusual that he had forgotten.

In the mail, there was a notice that there was a family skate night at a local rink. T has been asking to learn to skate since he saw some animated character or another learn how on Nick Jr, so I thought that maybe we should try it. I email the suggestion to R, he agrees that it sounds like fun, and that's how we ended up at family skate night.

The kids were SO excited. We all rented skates, put them on and headed to the beginners rink. I'd forgotten how much easier it is to manage skates on carpet versus hard floors. The first few minutes were a smidge unsteady for R and I what with the kids hanging on to us while their legs flew out in what seemed like a gazillion directions all at once. But since I spent a lot of time in a skating rink when I was younger, it slowly came back to me and I have to say that I'd forgotten how much fun skating can be. Well, it's fun if you aren't trying to keep a wiggly super energized munchkin on feet that now roll in virtually every possible direction all at once while at the same time keeping yourself from falling and potentially smushing your child to death in front of innocent bystanders/witnesses. Good times!

There were lots of other kids and parents that were wobbly too, so we were in good company. Poor T got so mad and frustrated that he couldn't figure out how to skate right away that he spent a good amount of time in tears. And yelling. Always with the yelling. I'll never understand why neither of my kids can be upset quietly. But then the heavens opened and we saw it: the skater's helper. This was made out of white pvc pipe and was a perfect right angle with wheels attached at the bottom. It allows a novice skater to learn how to skate by holding on to what basically amounts to portable rails. Awesome! I thought that the rink was charging for them, so I told T that we couldn't get one this visit, and man, he did not like hearing that. But then R, because he is wise and his ears probably hurt from all the T ruckus, simply went and asked. It turns out it was either free last night or he just told me it was. Either way works for me because I was out of money.

Once T has this helper, he was willing to calm down and listen to instruction. The poor kid took some hard falls last night, and I don't blame him one bit for wanting a little plastic help. We practiced standing with the skates, then standing without holding onto anything, then rolling one foot, then rolling alternating feet until before we knew it, the T was skating. YES! He wanted so very, very badly to go in the 'big kids' rink, and I told him if he made it around the beginners rink, that I'd take him around the big kids rink. I made the first couple rounds with him and then let him try. He fell a good amount, but he'd been holding on to a solid wall for the first half hour and it took him a bit to realize how to get support from the skater's helper. He did make it, though, so off we went to the main rink. S, who is probably smarter than R, T and I combined, was done skating after about 15 minutes and was sensibly sitting with her dad eating popcorn. Smart little pumpkin!

Once in the main rink, I tried to skate while holding the helper down so T wouldn't flip it and pushing myself, T and the helper forward. That first lap took a long time, but it was worth it to see the look on T's face. Of course, since things were going so smoothly, he wanted to try it by himself. Not one to burst his bubble that he had more help than he thought, I agreed to let him do from the last curve to the rink entrance solo. He fell a few times, but was careful to watch out for other beginning skaters and stay close to the wall. When we got to the entrance, I made him leave the rink because it was time to go home and get ready for bed. He begged us (with an a la carte of tantrum thrown in) to let him skate just a little bit more. When he listened to us and calmed down when we asked, we agreed to let him skate a few more minutes in the beginners rink. And I'll be doggoned if he wasn't doing beautifully within minutes. He didn't want to leave, but did anyway and I have a feeling that we'll be back soon. I wonder if we could make one of those helpers. I guess next time we go skating I should take my camera, huh? Some of those pictures would be absolutely priceless especially if I could have gotten them without damaging myself or the camera. Next time... next time....

Thursday, February 25, 2010


From the status shuffle application on Facebook:

If you add MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter get MyFaceYouTwit. Think about that, it's pretty deep.

Whoever came up with that is my new hero.

Along the same line is my favorite flair from the FB application:

People who don't know me think I'm quiet. People that know me, wish I was.

Sock puppets

Oh boy.

Yesterday I hit up Borders. I love bookstores. L O V E love them. I prefer to visit them solo. Since both my kids touch and comment on everything a straightforward visit to a book store (or book section if we are referring to our life in Germany) is often stretched into a minimum of an hour. Allowed to do this sort of errand solo, I can be out in as little as two minutes if I know the store layout and there isn't a long line.

It's been at least two and a half years since I've been in a proper bookstore, so when I entered the mecca that is Borders yesterday and I heard angel harps and hallelujah music in my head, I assumed it wasn't the voices in my head bothering me again and rather a sort of homecoming from the literary gods.

Literary gods: Welcome back, my child. It's good to have you home again.
Me: Oh. Oh! (Wiping away some pesky eye wetness) It's been so long. I wasn't sure you would remember me.
Literary gods: Bargain books at your 11:00. Go my child.

And then reality comes crashing down as S, who is even more of a book lover than T is, shouts "Paper! Dora! Pretty!" And she takes off to -- well, I'm not exactly sure where she was headed. We had a..umm....diaper situation to handle first so I lure her into the bathroom under the pretense of wondering if the bathroom was decorated like Dora's room. (It wasn't). But sometimes you have to pull out the big guns.

Once we were finished in the bathroom, we headed to the kids section. It turns out that Borders actually has story time on Wednesdays at 10 am. This could be dangerous for me or at least for our budget. I was impressed at the amount of books just in the kids section. I probably had not paid much attention before, but there were all sorts of games and activities you could buy as well. Some of them tied into children's books like 5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed, and some just looked like really fun things to do. Out of this enormous pile of choices I chose some Little Critter books, a Dora, and a Diego book for the kids plus a sock puppet kit. Who doesn't like sock puppets?!?!? Who doesn't like making sock puppets!!?!?

Fast forward to after T gets home from school and we get lunch and clean up out of the way. T was so excited to see the sock puppet kit. I was excited to open it and see an instruction book. I was not excited to see glue that was easy to open and dispense. At least there wasn't glitter and if I'd been paying attention when I bought the kit, I would have seen that there was glue inside since it said so right there on the front of the box. Contains: Glue. And sock puppet supplies. And by 'supplies' they meant eyes, pom poms, pipe cleaners, felt sheets, two colors of yarn, and four socks. Hmmmm. I'll be honest, I was expecting more. I was thinking these would be pre made kits that you'd then put together. I may be marginally crafty, but I can not draw, cut, or sew straight. This isn't looking good. The instruction book was nice, but it assumed you already had experience with sock puppeting because some of the advanced puppets were not given advanced instructions, or any instructions really. And some of the advanced stuff was neat!

Lucky for me, the kids are young enough and not ocd enough that the details didn't really matter. Both of them wanted to make a dog puppet. I can handle that. We cut out ears and tongues and then glued them on with the eyes and pom pom noses. I even made a little yarn hair for S's puppy. We let them dry for a couple hours and then voila! Time to play. Except T didn't like the way the tongue of his puppy looked once he put his hand in the sock so we had to redo it. Fair enough. S's puppy hair fell off almost right away, so I'm guessing that will need to be sewn on which means it will be a while. I don't have the right needles or thread for that. We played with S's puppy while T's cosmetically surgery altered puppy recovered. Then S's pups nose fell off. Oh Dr. 90210 - where are you when I need you? And how much is your fee for sock puppets? From there the sock puppets had an even rougher afternoon...losing all of their features at some point. I'd say we didn't use enough glue, but considering that I wiped glue off of everything at least once, I don't think that's true either.

Always good about making lemonade out of lemons (especially when destruction was involved), the kids settled for unravelling the yarn and tying it to all of the downstairs door knobs. I didn't have an issue with that until I had to go to the bathroom, and had to negotiate through a maze reminiscent of that Sean Connery/Catherine Zeta Jones movie about the art thieves. After a near decapitation and loud protests that I needed to go under and over the strings versus breaking through them like a game of Red Rover, I ordered the strings removed from the doorknobs. Because, you know, I'm a party pooper like that. And it was time for R to come home. It just wouldn't be fair to leave all that up and not give him any warning about it. It would have been hilarious (to me), but not fair.

So, next time I'm in craft store range I'm going to pick up an appropriate needle and thread and we'll try the whole sock puppet thing again.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

At least I know where I stand

I finally dragged myself to the commissary today. I've needed to go since Sunday, but I've just been dreading it. I don't really know why either, because I generally love anything involving food so grocery stores/commissaries are generally a highlight of my week.

At any rate, I bought the kids some frozen mac and cheese. I like to buy the individual portions of mac and cheese for a couple of reasons - it's easier overall, and that way I don't have to deal with a bunch of leftovers screaming at me to eat them right now!

Right before T was due home from school, I put two trays in the microwave. When T came in, he saw the box and was quite excited to see what was for lunch. When the microwave dinged, both the kids started jumping up and down and shouting, "Macaroni! Macaroni!" Alllllrighty then. It's a bit disconcerting that they got that excited over mac and cheese, but they're young so I can roll with that.

After I waited the recommended amount of time for the mac and cheese to cool, I opened the microwave to get out the food. The rabid animals, uh, I mean the kids, were literally bouncing around me until I banished them to the table. (I appoint myself the macaroni nazi - Sit! Quiet! Or no macaroni for you!) As I started to lift the first tray out of the microwave, I missed noticing that the cheese had bubbled out of the corners of the two trays and joined them like I'd used superglue. The end result of this was that both trays came out instead of the one I was trying to remove. The plastic film from the second tray remained attached to the first tray, and the second tray dropped to the counter.

Normally, this is where I would describe how the counter, stove, floor, ceiling, cabinets and myself became decorated with mac and cheese. However, the force was with me and there was only a mild cheese splatter on the counter around where the tray landed. Before I could complete my mental praising of the macaroni gods, T rushes over and says, "OH NO! Are you okay?"

Touched that he would be so worried about me, I put my arm around him and hug him and tell him that I'm fine.

Shrugging off my arm, he looks up at me with an exasperated expression. "I wasn't talking to YOU Mom. I was talking to the macaroni."


Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I took my first Zumba class in Germany sometime late last summer or early fall. My mom, who was completely unprepared to have a child like me that loathed the outside from birth (at least I'm convinced of this), spent a lot of time trying to convince me or make me go outside. Back then, we didn't even have the skin cancer defense like we do now, and even so, she would have handed me a bottle of sunscreen and made me go anyway. She did it out of love. I'm almost positive. I have sneaky suspicions she also occasionally did this to keep her sanity, but she gets no flak from me on that count. I totally, totally get it.

Since I proved to be a challenge to get outdoors, I got to try lots of sports. Over the years, I participated in soccer, softball, basketball, cheerleading, gymnastics, and dance. With this wide variety of experiences, you'd think I'd be athletic. Nope. I was the kid who was looking for the four leaf clover in the outfield. I have an issue with perception depth (didn't know it then, of course) so I had trouble hitting the ball, catching the ball, making a get the idea. The fact that I always closed my eyes didn't help, either. Mom, who loves pretty much all sports, must have been mystified how her daughter could be so bad at so many sports. Fortunately, I was pretty good at dancing. It gets depressing being really bad at everything, even though I really didn't care all that much at the time. I was just glad I didn't have to keep playing.

Dancing was a good solution for everyone. I was passably good at it, liked it, it was inside and I got to wear cool costumes. I liked gymnastics too, but I didn't have the advanced flexibility or upper body strength to do well. I never could do anything on the parallel bars, and I wanted to so badly. It seemed like it would be like flying. And I never progressed past the roundoff - not even a single handspring. I think gravity just loved me too much to let me very far off the ground. heh!

Anyway, so dance was my exercise of choice over the years and when I learned that Zumba was a dance exercise class...well! Sign me up! I loved it. LOVED it! When we got to North Carolina, I was thrilled to see that the YMCA that let us have a 14 day pass offered Zumba classes too. Chris and I just happened to meet at the Y one evening right before a Zumba class started so we went to that instead of walking the track or the treadmill. She liked it too, and I liked that every class and every instructor was different. That way you (meaning I) don't get bored. Nice!

The Y we joined here has Zumba classes too. Wahoo! I went to my first one a couple weeks ago and was pleased with it. It was challenging, but not impossible. More importantly it was fun. I met a really nice lady there and we've gone to several classes together. Last Tuesday, we went to a later Zumba class at a different Y. The instructor was older and I agreed with Samantha when she said that hopefully this would be an easy class to follow.

We back row habiters have trouble seeing the instructor since the room is large and the classes are always really, really full. But I've never been much of a front row type of person and don't see myself starting that now. When our instructor last week started talking, she said something about routine #19. Ummmmm.....there are routines? And there are at least 19 of them? This does not bode well for us novices. I mean, I get that routines are necessary, but I really thought that it was more of a free flow type thing...let the rhythm move you and all that. The class only lasts an hour and about halfway through, she literally had us galloping across the room. Repeatedly. Routine #19 requires way more energy than I was expecting to expend at 7:30 on a Tuesday night. I had a lot of trouble with some of the steps and on one or two occasions, I thought that I might need to consider getting an portable oxygen tank to strap on before doing too many more routine #19's. Wowsers! Even better is that the room is mirrored, because what overweight gal doesn't enjoy seeing everything jiggle and bounce? All the more reason to stick to the back, where at least the skinny pros towards the front hide a portion of a hip or fat roll. Every little bit helps. Samantha, my Zumba partner, is worried about not knowing the steps. I'm worried about living through the class. But we are going again tonight. I will not be defeated routine #19!!! I will master you! Muahahaaaahaaaaaaaaa.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A weighty issue


This is going to be a post about weight and exercise and blah blah blah with a side of yada yada yada.

Confession #1: I'm tired of being fat. Of course, I've been fat for a really long time. Off and on since my freshman year of high school for sure. The recent conversations about Kevin Smith being kicked off a Southwest Airlines flight made me cringe because as much as I love to fly and travel, that is one of my biggest fears. Being told publicly that I'm considered too fat to fly in just one seat would humiliate me (true as it may be) beyond any hope of my not bursting into tears and having an emotional meltdown on the spot. It hasn't happened yet, and I'm well underway of taking steps to make sure that it doesn't happen, but I have a feeling it will be a fear long after I'm at a healthier weight.

Confession #2: My dad has a sign in his service station that says "Fat people are harder to kidnap." Amen to that. I can understand why someone who has never struggled with weight - really, truly struggled with it - will say that fat people are lazy, unmotivated, lack willpower, etc. I understand when they say that eating less and exercising more will cause fatties to lose the extra weight and then everything will be just fine. I understand this, but I don't agree with it. BUT - I also don't believe that it's the fault of McDonald's or Hostess or Edy's that so much of America is overweight. It's my hand that's carried every single calorie, fat gram, and carbohydrate to my lips. I own that responsibility. Just me, myself, and I.

But sitting (or even walking) around lamenting about how I want to be thinner, healthier, more fit, or whatever isn't going to get the job done. I have to have a plan and a goal. Late last spring, I went to the Dr. for a sinus infection. The conversation that occurred during that little visit shocked me into action - finally. I won't bore you with the details, mainly because I'm still too humiliated just thinking about it and I'm trying really hard to focus on positive things. But let me assure you that conversation, no matter how much I probably needed to hear it, was at least as humiliating as being kicked off a plane for overhanging a seat.

So, I started going to an aerobics class four mornings a week in July. The kids were in a part day enrichment program, so it worked out beautifully for me to drop them off, go to class, get my errands done, and then pick them up. When they had a few weeks between sessions, I bit the bullet and hired a personal trainer to take me to the next level. She took me - sensibly - to the next three levels. This included five to six days of pretty intense cardio a week and weight training two to three times a week. My immediate goal was to get on the plane bringing us back to the States and be able to sit comfortably in the seat without having to struggle to fasten the seat belt. I'm very proud to say that not only could I easily fasten the seat belt, I could also tighten it a pretty decent amount. I was so happy! Goal achieved. So now what?

I still would like to lose anywhere from 80 to 100 more pounds. I had lost 60 pounds by late December, but I gained 10 between getting out of my exercise routine and not being cautious enough about what I ate and how much of it I ate. But we joined the Y at the end of January, and slowly but surely, the 10 I gained is coming back off. More importantly, so are the inches I re-expanded. It's a struggle every single day to make healthy food choices, practice proper portion control, and to exercise appropriately. I use food as an emotional crutch, a stress reliever, and an overall escape and I promise you there are days when I wish that there were a food pill I could take that would supply my nutrients and calories for the day so that I wouldn't have to struggle about what to eat and how much of it to eat. Unfortunately, that's not likely to happen so I'm going to have to accept that I have to retrain the way I think, turn to, and deal with food. Hooray.

Still, I think it's important to recognize small victories like the fact that I bought Girl Scout Cookies and am able to just have one or two versus the entire box or the fact that for the last couple days when I've really had an urge to eat when I wasn't hungry I found something else do to instead. And, when I unpacked my clothes that I sent to storage before we left for Germany, almost all of them fit. And I hadn't been able to get into these clothes for years. Of course now they are completely out of style and I ended up donating most of them anyway, but it's a victory just the same. These are the things that are helping me change my lifestyle permanently rather than just focus on getting down to XXX number on the scale. Well, maybe XXX was a poor choice of letters... hahahahaaa. Sorry.

So as a part of holding myself accountable, I'm going to start tracking my progress with weekly entries on my blog. You don't have to read it, but I really think it will be a good motivation for me to think that you are. Wish me luck. I'm gonna need it.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Our version of Knotting Hill

Since S's hair was long enough for her to twist, she's been a hair twister. This child has created some Guiness Book of World Record worthy hair knots. When she first started, we had to cut her hair a little bit to get them completely undone. The obvious problem with that is that it left her looking increasingly lopsided, but thanks to the fabulous talents of Jen Temple, we managed to salvage her hair from being cut really, really short. It also helps to use a leave in detangler or conditioner so her hair won't snarl as much or as badly.

Luckily for us, S mainly twists her hair when she's in bed before she goes to sleep. The more tired she is, the less she twists. Last night, she apparently wasn't tired whatsoever because when she got out of bed this When I saw her hair I told R we had to take a picture of it. It's one of the worst ones I can remember.

Here she is, just out of bed. You can't see the knots on the back or other side very well, but you can get the idea from the monstrosity that you can see on her left side.

This is about halfway through the process. Most of the knots are out, but her hair has been twisted so long and so tightly that it's all over the place. I call this her Medusa look (which certainly fit with her attitude yesterday).

Finally! It took about 15 minutes to get it all untangled, which really isn't bad. She's a pretty good sport about sitting to have it fixed, so I try to be a pretty good sport about the fact that she does this. At some point, she's bound to stop, right?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Blinking cursor syndrome

Off and on today, I've been trying to think of things to write about.

I could talk about T waking up or some odd reason at 4:30 am, but being nice enough to watch a video in his room until a decent hour.

I could talk about trying to get some errands done only to have S be irritable and obnoxious through the first two stores.

I could talk about the family at Game Stop that was in front of the cashier for the entire time we were in the store before I found what I needed (I'm guessing about 10 minutes) and while I waited in line trying to manage S and her crappy, hateful attitude (I'm guessing about another 10 to 15 minutes) without actually losing my temper.

I could talk about failing to keep my temper and leaving Game Stop after tossing the gift cards down I'd been waiting to buy for about half an hour while a family of apparent idiots stood at the cashier and sent him running back and forth from the stockroom no less than seven times that I counted. And yes, I did start counting. Why, why, WHY was that necessary on a Saturday morning where there was only one visible employee and about 10 people behind you in line. 30 minutes? Really?!?!

I could talk about taking deep and steady breaths whilst dragging a kicking screaming two year old to the car, hoping that no one would call social services - which is probably the only thing that kept her alive. I'm kidding, I'm kidding. But it is the only thing that kept me from yelling 'FOR GODS SAKE, BE QUIET!" at her. Especially when she pulled away from me and ran towards the street. I'm not sure what it says about my parenting or my daughter's general disposition that running into traffic after throwing monster fits through Walmart and Game Stop seemed like a good idea.

I could talk about my personal triumph in calming myself down to go into a third store with both T and S by myself while R went to run an errand for work after the Game Stop fiasco. I also managed to get what I needed in the third store (which ironically was the exact same thing I was trying to buy in the second store - stupid cashier hogging family) without either of the kids throwing a fit or misbehaving. That credit goes directly to God, btw. I was at the end of my proverbial rope after store #2. As R aptly observed - why do you (S) have to do this (throw tantrums in public) every single time we go anywhere? Which, you know, isn't exactly accurate but sure seems like it some days/weeks/months.

I could talk about coming home and having S go down for a nap voluntarily and then sleep about 3 hours. So I guess I should not only make the connection about tired=tantrums, but also figure out how to fix that little issue even though she has refused to nap lately. Well, until today.

I could talk about taking the kids to the community pool this evening and having a great time.

Or I could mention that my blinking cursor syndrome has now turned into written diarrhea. Problem solved.

Friday, February 19, 2010

So, like, what's the problem?

This morning T had a doctors appointment. In order to attend school, he has to have a yearly physical. He had one last August/September but here it has to be on a specific state form, so we had to go through the whole thing again. yay.

Now, T has a thing about doctors. He's had a full range of doctors in his short life, some of them good, some of them horrible. Overall, we've been pretty lucky with medical care for him. Part of the physical process last year was updating immunizations. T calls them pokes. Makes perfect sense to me, because these military clinics literally poke/jab/stab that needle right into you. Last year he had to have four in one day and then another one a few weeks later. He was pretty accepting about the four until they jabbed the first one in his leg. It made me flinch, and I am still amazed that he allowed them to do the other three. Unfortunately, the fall out for that has been that any time you mention "you and doctor" in the same sentence to T, he freaks out. I can't really blame him. Because of that, I didn't tell him until this morning that he had to go to the doctor. He didn't take the news well, but he didn't exactly freak out either. He did look at me with those big, brown eyes - big ol' crocodile tears rolling out of them and down his cheeks - and say in the smallest, most pitiful voice ever, "Please don't make me go, Mommy."

This is where I take a firm stand that parents often get a raw deal. I mean, think about it - infancy with the constant feedings and sleepless nights, worrying because they can't tell you if something's wrong, are they developing okay, are all these doggone vaccines going to do more harm than good? For the next stage they are mobile, drooling, teething creatures that manage to get everywhere they aren't supposed to be and are mostly focused on and attracted to the dangerous stuff like drooly fingers in electrical outlets. My two both figured out how to get the protective outlet covers off in no time. Thank goodness the German ones actually locked. Then comes the tantrum stage. I have blog entry after blog entry about those, so we'll skip the details today. Since we haven't completely made it out of the tantrum stage, I refuse to speculate on what's next. But I'm hoping that for at least a brief period of time between now and the tween years (where the hormones really start to kick in) where it's alllllll good. I'm not, however, holding my breath. I'm trying to mentally prepare myself that it might not be good until my kids have kids and then they get the chance to experience the joys (hahahahahaaaaa...ahem...sorry) of parenthood. It's amazing how much becoming a parent opened my eyes to what my parents put up with, and for the most part, I was a good kid. No, really, I was. I was!

Back to my point - 0h my gosh, it just broke my heart into pieces to make T go to the doctor today. I know we had to go, the state and school system require it for pete's sake, but gosh - this kid has really been through some trauma with doctors, and I don't blame him for being skittish or scared. At any rate, we get to the medical building on time and go to check in. That takes a few minutes longer than I expect, but the upside to that is that we had very little wait time before the nurse came to get us. We go into the exam room, T was behaving beautifully despite his reservations, and I'm amazed with the staff. Everyone was great with kids (and parents) and the doctor came in within five minutes after we first walked into the room. Wow!

This doctor - Dr Coble - well, he's my new hero. T was immediately at ease and so was I. He asked if I had any concerns, and then didn't blow me off. He addressed every single one without a single eye roll or equivalent to patting me on the head. My main concerns were two moles on top of T's head and his ears. His tubes are out and he complains about his ears hurting when he blows his nose. I was supposed to take him back to the Ear, Nose and Throat doctor in Germany, but I just couldn't put both of us through that. The drive, the wait, the language barrier...ugh...and I really think that if they had told me he needed new tubes put in over there that I would have refused. Since he wasn't having ear infections or any other troubles, I didn't see the point.

His appointment was at 8 am, we were out of there by 8:20. So off to school we went. I told his teachers twice that he would be late coming in today because of this appointment. What I didn't do was ask what the procedure was for bringing him in late would be. When we got to school, all the doors were locked. Luckily, someone (a hall monitor?!?) opened the door for us and explained that at 8:30, the doors are closed and they self lock. To get in, you need to ring the buzzer, which was right there, I just didn't realize. Oops. Of course, T, being ever so helpful, says "Yeah, Mom. You have to ring the buzzer." Wish you would have told me that before I shook the doors like an idiot. (Sigh)

We go in and I walk him to his classroom. Mrs B looks at me kind of funny and I say that T had a doctor's appointment, which she had obviously forgotten. Next time I'm sending a note. That way they'll have it in writing. Actually, next time I'll schedule outside of school hours and then it won't matter. As I'm leaving, Mrs. B asks me if I've signed him in. Umm, no I haven't. Didn't realize I had to (although I should have known from when I was in school 20+ years ago. Good to know some things don't change). I have to go to the office anyway and drop off the form Dr. Coble filled out for us, and when S and I walk in a lady in the front office asks me if I'm signing in S. I say no, that I'm signing in T, who is already in class because I didn't realize that I had to sign him in when we walked by the office on the way to his classroom. And girlfriend rolls her eyes and makes a face and turns and walks away.

Uhhh...excuse me?!?! I get that I didn't follow proper procedure, but I've yet to be in the office where she hasn't seemed to have an attitude. I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt the first time or two, but honestly, that was just rude. Working in the front office, I would expect a more professional attitude. While it certainly didn't enrage me, I was offended at the behavior. So before I can push my self edit/mute button, I say (and it probably sounded more snappy than I intended), "Look, I'm sorry, we are new here and I didn't know. It won't happen again." And what does she do? She rolls her eyes - again - sneers. SNEERS. WTHeck? Another person sees that this is quickly escalating and jumps in to diffuse the situation. I honestly don't know what I would have done if she hadn't. Probably nothing but continue to be offended in all honesty, but geez, lady. Whomever is spitting on your cinnamon toast needs to stop. Sheesh!

I explain to the very nice and helpful lady that I'm now facing that I need to drop off the physical form and most recent vaccination form for his medical records, but that I also need a copy for my records. She makes me the copy while S charms the office staff with the exception of Madame Eye McRolley, who plops down at her desk and works on perfecting her eye roll technique. Hey, practice makes perfect, and I can eye roll with the best of 'em, too. With my copy of T's forms in hand, S and I make a quiet, graceful, non-dramatic exit and go on our merry way. Have a nice day!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Say what you mean

Okay, I am almost completely positive that I am not the only parent out there who deals with this. Lately it's driving me nuts that my kids go through phases where what they say is pretty much the complete opposite of what they mean.

Here's an example: T is putting on his pants. He sometimes has trouble getting them snapped or buttoned, which understandably frustrates him. He will inevitably say, "they're too big" and I will say, "do you mean you think they are too small?" and he will say, "yes, they are too big". Okay - so does he mean too small and is just saying too big, or does he really think they are too big? I don't know, and asking him just adds to his frustrations about not getting the pants closed. And then I get frustrated because if you give him a spoonful of ice cream and ask 'is this too big or too small?' He always says too small. So he knows the difference. The question I have is whether or not he gets what big and small mean across the board or just situationally. Has he learned that for more ice cream he HAS to say the serving is too small if asked? If so, why wouldn't he make the same association with pants. Or! Somewhere down the line did he use big/small incorrectly and I didn't understand what he was trying to say, so I just uh-huh'd him, reinforcing the incorrect meaning of big/small in that context? Would he say that the serving of ice cream is too small even if we gave him three huge scoops? (I will not be testing that theory, btw.)

Arrgghhhh! This is why I need to keep busy because this is the sort of thing I tend to obsess about. I call this focusing on the details. Okay, okay, it's obsessing about the details. My focus should be less on which of the millions of possibilities of things I've done wrong to contribute to his frustrations or misunderstandings and more on how to help him solve and work through these things. I know that intellectually, but gosh, it's easy to waste hours wondering how, in five short years, I've managed to raise a walking contradiction. This poor kid.

Since I'm already obsessing, does this go hand in hand with the changing of the minds? Today at lunch, I offered to make the kids a sandwich or heat up leftovers. T wanted ice cream. Uhhh - no. We go through this conversation at least twice a week at a mealtime, so I'm assuming he's testing me for consistency. He didn't want a sandwich, he didn't want leftovers, but he was still starving. Not a lot I can do to help in this situation. I learned by observation a looooooong time ago that you offer a meal (and an alternative if you so desire) and then everyone who is present can either eat or not. This should develop a sound appreciation for variety on the rare occasion we go out to eat. I'm just sayin'... However, since I am not a personal chef (or a maid, but that's another story) your chance of my fixing everyone something different is pretty much non existent unless it's leftovers or a sandwich. That's just the way it is.

Sure enough, after refusing the menu for today, T comes up to me about 20 minutes later as I'm in the middle of something else and moans and groans about being hungry. Yeah, yeah. I point out I offered him lunch more once and he said no. Oh my goodness! He moans and groans, huffs and puffs, whines and stomps about being hungry. ARRRGH! FINE! I finish what I'm doing while the complaining about starving never stops and make him a sandwich. And as soon as I do it, I think that I'm probably making a big mistake. We set a dinner policy that unless you get up to go to the bathroom or get something meal related that leaving the table equals done with eating for the meal. It took T a while to accept it (and S is still struggling with it a bit) but being firm on this has worked well for all of us. R is a stickler about meals. He was not allowed to play in his food (like, ever) and he has very little tolerance for it. I think he's missing out on a tremendous amount of fun, but whatevs. He's trying to relax and not strangle me when I do it, which I truly appreciate :) Love you R! Smooches!

But now that I'm thinking (read: obsessing) about this topic, I wonder if I need to do the same thing at lunch. Set a time window, present the options, and when the time is up or the choices are refused then oh well. That's it until dinner. I already know the answer to this. Sigh...sometimes it stinks being the grown up.

Sun Crystals

Have you tried this yet? Sun Crystals are a mix of pure cane sugar and stevia. Where a teaspoon of sugar has 16 calories, a teaspoon (or teaspoon equivalent) of Sun Crystals has 5 calories. I saw this in the grocery store, had a coupon, and decided to try it. It's been sitting in the pantry ever since.

So today, I grabbed an unsweetened tea (as a Southerner, I feel the need to specify this because for the most part if you order tea in the South, you usually get sweetened) but I was in the mood for something sweet, so I thought I'd try the Sun Crystals in it. All the yum, none of the guilt, right? Uh, no.

While it doesn't have the same aftertaste as Sweet n low, it has that saccharin essence about it, which is odd because there isn't anything artificial in there. There was no aftertaste to speak of, so I decided I'd try it in the tea. Since I sampled it straight out of the package, I thought maybe it was just a little too strong that way. Into the tea it went. I stirred well, sampled, and even though I could taste a hit of that unpleasantness, it wasn't bad and the tea tasted sweet. Okay, I thought, maybe it just takes a little getting used to. Like coffee or brussel sprouts or sushi.

S and I were busy painting her newest masterpiece, so the tea sat there for oh, about half an hour or so. I grabbed the cup, took a big swig, and EWWWWW. That was nasty. This time there was a during taste and an aftertaste, and both of them were awful! It tasted like the Paperwhites smell to me. Yuck-o! I don't know if it was the mix of tea and Sun Crystals that created that horrible experience or if it's just the Sun Crystals once they dissolve better. Either way, I'm not using any more of it. If anyone out there likes it and would like me to send you MY box, please feel free to comment to this post with your email address. I won't publish your email, but I will send you the Sun Crystals. Gladly.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A few pics of the new digs, clutter and all!

Heart strings

Today T came home from school talking about hearts. He jumped and wiggled around the living room and then asked me to feel his heart.

T: See? You can feel it beating!
Me: Yes, I can.
T: That's what exercise does for you Mom, it keeps your heart beating.
Astute, that one! A little later, S got mad at T over a toy.

S: (crying)
T: S, can I feel your heart?
S: NO!
Me: T, why do you want to feel her heart?
T: To make sure it's not broken, Mom.

S: I not broken, I angry!
You go girl!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Well, that worked out beautifully.....


Our little planting experiment is having some interesting results. The flowers are already blooming, and they are beautiful. But they also smell, really, really bad. Like, have you ever found a sippy cup under a couch or chair that's been there a really, really long time? And then you open it up to see if the cup can be salvaged (btw, I no longer do this and this plant reminds me why) and there was just enough milk or juice to have turned into a science experiment? Remember the smell associated with that first blast of moldy cup air? That's what a paperwhite smells like to me. Concerned that maybe I was over reacting just a tad (who me?) I looked it up on the internet. The first site said it has a mild, pleasant smell. Really? Mild AND pleasant? Not good! If the smell isn't coming from the plants, then something either died or rotted. I watch Hoarders on A&E - I can't bring myself to entertain the notion, much less search out the source of the smell. Shudder. Shudder and gag.

So I went to the next site and to my great relief found that that author thinks they stink - kind of like e coli. I didn't realize e coli had a unique smell, so that's good to know. It also makes me very glad that I'm throwing out lost and abandoned sippy cups. Shudder. Gag. Sorry.....

Here is the dilemma. S and T are seemingly oblivious to the smell. R doesn't even really notice it. S and T demand that one of the two pots sit on the table with us when we eat. While I applaud their appreciation for centerpieces and pride in completed projects, this thing may be the death of me. I promise you I can smell it when I come down the stairs. The good news is that the smell makes me want to clean, so I keep Clorox wipe-ing down the counters and sink in addition to constantly bleaching the dishrags and towels. BLECH. Next time I'm going to spend the extra $2.50 and get some tulips or an amaryllis.

Monday, February 15, 2010

More snow? Really?!

Last night R went out to do an errand. Because I'm completely non concerned with what's going on weather wise until I have to be out in it myself, I was a little surprised to hear him say that not only was it snowing - again - but that the roads were really slick - and this was just after 6 pm.

We've been really lucky and haven't gotten nearly the amount of snow as our friends and family in Oklahoma or North Carolina, but even so, I'm getting tired of snow. I don't know when the turning point was that I went from loving to be out in snow to dreading it. I think it has a lot to do with how windy it is and whether or not I've had to shovel the snow. It might have something to do with paying the heating bill too. Just a thought...

This morning, because R is awesome, he shoveled the driveway, so when the kids wanted to go outside and play in it, I went out with them. Right in front of the house and in between our house and the one next door (not the one with the McNeighbors), it was cold, but bearable. The snow was too powdery to make into a snowman, so we settled for making a snow castle - which is basically a big lump of snow. I got some cups from the house so we could make some turrets, but S got tired of that really quickly and just used it to scoop snow onto the big pile we were creating. Hey, works for me!

T, in the meantime, was tramping through the snow leaving his boot prints as far and wide as possible. I tried to get them to make snow angels with me, but they're smarter than I am and refused. After about 20 minutes, they were cold enough to want to go inside. Well, that and I hyped up the idea of snow cream. Truth be told, it wasn't as good as I remembered. I know it wasn't just me because the kids didn't even finish theirs. Must be the global warming. Ha!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

We played it low key today, although R went out of his way to make it a wonderful day. I got a cooked breakfast (yum-0!), he watched the kids while I took a short nap and went to Zumba. I'm a lucky woman. Last night we watched Couples Retreat, which was cute but not nearly as funny as Hangover was.

It snowed overnight, so the kids had fun playing in it while we changed the wiper blades on the van and scraped the snow off so T and I could make a Starbucks run. S, who had flu shots on Friday, is coughing a lot and congested. I don't know if she picked something up at the Y child care room or if this is from the shots. Last night she woke up crying and we thought I could hold her until she fell back asleep and then put her back in her bed. Not so much. Every time I moved, she'd wake up. So then we decided to let her fall asleep in our bed and then we'd move her. That totally backfired. R ended up having to sleep on the couch, which was probably preferable to being kicked, pushed, or draped over. When she woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed, I was thrilled that she was obviously feeling better, but I felt like I'd spent the night in a meat tenderizer. And every time I moved away from her or moved her away from me, she'd wake up crying, "Moooooommmmmmy". Poor S. But, gosh, she's adorable when she's sleeping. And quiet. Parental love and swooning counts for Valentine's Day too, right?

PS - Happy Anniversary Dad and Susan!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I know why they call them Global Positioning Systems rather than Global Directional Systems

We got lost today. Again. The ironic thing is that we were following the instructions of our (not so) beloved GPS. Why we are surprised is a mystery. When we were in North Carolina and staying with my dad and stepmom, that GPS couldn't direct us out of a bag. It wasn't like we were in the middle of nowhere, either. The GPS just couldn't seem to figure out that we weren't two miles south of where we actually were. Of course, we can't find our current address with our GPS either. Why we thought it could get us from point A to point B with no problems only highlights either our misplaced optimism or sheer stupidity.

This little trip took us through some parts of St. Louis that made me extremely nervous. Granted, that doesn't take a lot these days. Between my dramatic tendencies and living on base and in Germany where the crime rate is really low or at least hushed up so the ignorant masses can continue living in uninformed bliss, I've been a bit spoiled. So to pass all those boarded up, run down, threatening looking buildings had me locking the doors and tucking my purse under my seat. Which I realize is silly to a degree, but fifteen years ago (read: before kids) this wouldn't have given me a moments pause. Live and let live was my motto then, of course that was before I was robbed at gunpoint which may have more to do with my skittishness in such situations than birthing munchkins did. Who knows?

Our intended destination, which we finally found, was a welcome to the family party for a baby some friends of ours are hoping to adopt. We were stationed with the Ewings in South Dakota and stayed with them in DC on our way to Germany four years ago. It's funny how knowing someone for only a short time and then not seeing them for four years can still maintain a friendship in military life. When I was pregnant with T, it was Felicia who arranged a baby shower for me with people she knew that knew R. It says a lot about the kind of people we've met in this life that they would come to a baby shower for someone they don't know just because someone they did know invited them. I'm grateful to know these people and I'm really hoping that life and military orders will have us living closer together one day. I also hope that they get to adopt this adorable little girl they have been raising since she was born.

Once we left the party, we decided to increase our chance of directional success and we programmed the GPS in the van (that hasn't been updated that we know of - the van is an 03) and the portable GPS that R bought in NC in December (that is obviously defective). Both of these GPS's are made by the same company. The streets we were traveling on have been there since way before 03, let me assure you, yet the GPS's came up with completely different directions on how to get home. Oooooooooooooo-kay. But we made it home safe and sound despite our guidance devices. I wonder if they mess up so much so that you'll keep buying the updates and newer versions? Hmmmm........

Friday, February 12, 2010


Today was my turn to volunteer in T's classroom. While I was really excited about doing this, it presented its own set of issues - namely, who could I find to take care of S? R's got a lot going on at work, and while he was willing to take the morning off to help, I really felt like I should be able to figure all this out on my own. I mean, after all, he'll be up for deployment sooner rather than later and I'll have to handle things like this by myself so I might as well dive right in. Plus, I did this all the time in Germany, so really, why am I being such a pansy?

After a bunch of phone calls and the mountain of FCC provider paperwork later, I had daycare lined up for S. Only problem? She needed the flu shot. Why was this a problem? She's under 3, the immunization clinic was closed yesterday for training, and there wasn't a single Walgreens in a 25 mile radius that had the under three shot in stock. I know this because we went to most of them. We could take her to the base clinic this morning, but they didn't open until 8, I had no idea where it was, T catches the bus at 7:50 and since this was going to be his last day on the bus, I couldn't bear to make him miss it. Plus, as I realized at 11:30 pm last night, the parent volunteer is supposed to bring the class snack, which meant a trip to Walmart was in my very near future. And since it was the Friday before Valentine's day, I didn't feel right tossing out a packet of graham crackers and calling it a day. To top it off, I needed to be at the school at 8 am. No pressure.

Luckily, all this came to light pretty early yesterday and as R and I exchanged a ton of emails discussing all our options, this was our compromise. R would go into work a little late. I would leave to be at the school by 8 with appropriate snack in hand, R would get T on the bus, then take S to get her flu shot, and then drop her off at the sitters. I would pick up S after I finished helping in T's class, and we'd be home in plenty of time to meet T's bus. Amazingly, it all worked according to plan - and that rarely, ever, ever happens with us. I guess not having a lot of time to try and plan works better for us than being informed in advance, because we had to put all this together in well under a week. I'm so lucky that I've got a husband who is so actively involved and willing to help and that he now has a job (even though the last one was pretty flexible) that allows us to work this stuff out. It sure as heck wouldn't have happened like this if he was still in the Airborne. I just don't know how single parents do this - and my hat is off to all of them!

The volunteer part of my day was awesome! I loved being in T's class and seeing the schedule and routine of his day. I have an enormous respect for his teachers who have a class full of kids (20!) and somehow manage to keep a calm, respectful, productive classroom. I learned so much today about how to talk to kids. I know that must sound strange, because lord knows I'm talking to my kids all. day. long. about everything, but there's just a big difference in talking AT them versus talking TO them. And as proof that I actually learned something myself today, when we all got home and after we had lunch, I got the kids (without arguing mind you) to go upstairs and have quiet time. I swear, it really happened.

Further proof that I learned something today: after R got home we decided that for pizza night we'd go grab a pizza at Sam's. I wanted to pick up some items we actually use in bulk (dryer sheets, detergent, hand soap, and batteries) so why not order a huge pizza for under $10 and make a night out of it? I'm not sure what it says about us that Sam's Club falls under the category of 'restaurant' or 'night out' but hey, whatever works, right? When T and S started acting up a little, I used my new skills and managed to get them to calm themselves down rather than ordering them to do it. Calming kids down without conflict? This is MasterCard commercial priceless!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nap time

Lately, S has adamantly refused to nap. Because I obviously don't learn from experience, I still try every day to get her to take one. Today more out of habit than anything, I asked her if she was ready to take a nap and she said yes. Come again? But before she could take it back, I whisked her upstairs. To my continued surprise, she willingly got in bed. Well, okay then. Color me lucky! Then she asked me to sit with her, which I thought was reasonable, so I did. Of course in being still and quiet so she'd go to sleep, I fell asleep too.

T, who was watching cartoons downstairs, comes up after a few minutes and whispers, "Mom!" I open an eye and look at him. "What are you doing?"

Me: "I'm trying to get S to take a nap."
T: "Ok."
Me: "Want to take a nap too?"
T: "nah"
Me: "Ok"
T: "I'm going downstairs to watch Team Umizoomi"
Me: "Ok"

sometime later:

T: "Mom!"
Me: "what?"
T: "are you sleeping?"
Me: "I was."
T: "S is asleep"
Me: "She is?" Yep, she's asleep - yay!
T: "Yes, so you can get up now"
Me: "Ok" and I do
T: "S!!! WAKE UP!!! It's not time to sleep anymore!"
Me: "Ooooooohhhhhhh, nooooooooooooo"
S: "T?"
T: "S! You're awake!"

It's just no use.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Color me stunned

Today we had a school conference for the T man to review his IEP now that they've had time to observe and unofficially evaluate him. We were in a small conference room with our two ankle biters, the principal, the school district special education director, the occupational therapist, the speech pathologist, and the two teachers T spends his half day with.

I wasn't sure what to expect, I feared they would tell me that they think T has ADD/ADHD versus sensory issues and they think he should be put on medication. That seemed to be the direction his old school was heading with all the ADD/ADHD paperwork they sent home. Sigh... And honestly, if he is ADHD then I'd certainly rather know now than later.

That is so not what happened. T is doing so well that they committee wanted our okay to reclass him from 'developmental delay' to simply 'needing speech and language services'. The amount of time for speech therapy is being reduced as well. This is all extremely positive because it indicates that the teachers and the committee think that T will do extremely well in mainstreamed pre school which indicates an easier transition to kindergarten next year. The only downside is that now he doesn't qualify for the bus service and I know it's going to upset him. Me too, in a way, because it's nice not to have the morning get into the car struggle. But, this way I'll get to meet more of the parents and perhaps we can set up some play dates or something. Oh wait, that requires me to be social on a regular basis. Never mind.

The biggest shocker for R and I was that neither of T's teachers have had any problems with him regarding conflict. In fact, they informed us, T was one of the happy, helping kids and they actually said this sentence, "he's such a pleasure to have in class".

SAY WHAT? Where is the part of the meeting where the committee exchanges significant looks and then tries to tell me without actually saying the words that T is hard to handle? In his last IEP review, the common comment was that while T is a sweet child, his aggressive behaviors and lack of observance of personal space are 'impacting him socially in a negative way'. Which means that my kid is the troublemaker/bully. But none of that behavior has shown up here in over a month. R and I both went "WHAT?!?" at the same time. The whole table laughed because we were so stunned and because they had all read the IEP and associated comments.

Oh! During this hour long meeting our children - the ones who gained fame and notoriety in stores halfway across the world - were quietly playing TOGETHER on the floor in that tiny little room. While adults were TALKING. What the heck is happening here? Did we move to Stepfordville? Can we please, please, please, please stay here, like forever and ever?!?!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Potty Dance *official version

Ahh...Nick Jr. I love you. I mean, I really, really love you. Your catchy shows, your 24/7 preschool on tv programming, your jammin' tunes....

Speaking of jammin' tunes, Huggies Pull-Ups has produced a commercial-ette with a catchy tune "The Potty Dance". It goes like this (you can also look it up online and download it, cause you know you want to):

Do the (clap clap) potty dance
Right side, cross
Left side, cross
Step, step
Toes, waist, celebrate!
Do the (clap clap) potty dance!

There are other lyrics, but I'm way too lazy to type them and I'm concerned about copyright infringement.

Here's the link:

The commercial is a lot shorter than the online version, but I'm so glad that the good folks at Huggies Pull-Ups decided to spend what had to be a butt load (pun intended) of money to develop this little ditty that gets stuck in your head and will not leave. Ever.

There is another completely unrelated potty dance fiesta you can find on YouTube. I've only watched part of it because I don't need any more potty songs rolling around in my head. Unfortunately, trying to incorporate this into our potty training process here at Daily Dose of Dahl has had negligible success. Guess I'll have to write my own potty song.

Neighbors and shoveling snow

With T off to school today, I decided to shovel the driveway. The snow isn't that deep and I really don't mind shoveling snow here because so far it's been the light powdery kind that doesn't seem like it's going to break your shovel or your back when you start hefting it around.
S wants to help for about 3 minutes, but then I won't let her stay outside without her gloves on and she doesn't want to wear a glove on the hand that she cut Saturday. Her finger still looks awfully sore, so I can imagine how sore it feels (shudder). S and I reach a compromise. She gets to keep the glove off that hand, but she has to stay in the garage in the van and she can play with her dolls and computer. Frankly, I can't believe she was so agreeable, but it's freeeeeeezing outside and her fingers had to be cold.

With S safe and occupied, I started shoveling. I was dressed warmly (especially for me) and I was still freezing. The wind here is wicked and it was blowing snow everywhere. I was careful to make sure and shovel our half of the driveway exactly without pushing off any of 'our' snow onto the neighbor's driveway. Their van was parked in the driveway and it made me stop and think for a second - would it be worth it to park in the driveway on days like today to protect the majority of the driveway from the snow - which means less shoveling - and instead have to scrape off the car? The jury is still out on that one.

I decided to shovel the edges of our driveway first, and as I was shoveling down the side that divides our driveway from our neighbor's driveway, a car comes rolling slowly up the street. It looks familiar, but I'm not thinking about that too much because I'm freezing and I've still got a decent amount of shoveling to do. Then something catches my eye - the driver is waving. Wow, ok - a friendly person in my neighborhood?!? Let me wave back! So I do and the car turns......into the driveway beside ours. Holy snow shoveling - it's Mr. McNeighbor. I've renamed his wife Cruella De Ill, since she has the same crazy eyes and pointy hair (well, not really on the hair but that's how I see her in my head now). He pulls into the garage, gets out of his car and.......wait for it...wait for it.....

HE SAYS HELLO! In a pleasant tone of voice. AND it looks and sounds sincere. I fight the urge to just stand there with my mouth hanging open or look around for someone else that he might be talking to and I managed to say 'Good morning' back. Did I freeze to death? Am I suffering from hypothermia and having hallucinations? What's going on here? I am surprised and a bit confused. But he gives me a smile and goes inside. Well, well, well. Shaking off the stunned, I go back to shoveling, wondering if the world is going to end and if so, why am I outside freezing and shoveling when I could be inside spending quality time with S and updating my facebook status.

A few minutes later, I'm almost done and I hear the neighbor's garage door open again. Instead of being afraid to look in order to avoid eye contact with Cruella De Ill, I glance over and Mr. McNeighbor comes out and starts scraping off the van parked in the driveway. He only has one of the small handheld ice scrapers, so I offer him my longer one with the handle and brush, which he politely refuses. We exchange a little chit chat. It was really, really nice. What a great way to start my day.

I can't believe I forgot to blog yesterday

Truth be told, I didn't totally forget. I thought about it around 11 pm as I was heading to bed and figured that it would bug me enough that I'd wake up at 2 am and figure out something to say. Apparently not because the next thing I remember is R telling me he was leaving for work and did I want him to set the alarm clock for 6? Yes, please!

The next thing after that I remember is T coming in and saying in a stage whisper, "Mommmmmmmmmmmyyyyyy. It's snowing!" Ugh. Snow. Again. I can't really complain because while we've had several days with snow here, the accumulation hasn't been anywhere near what the Southeast or other states in the Midwest have seen. (thank goodness!) Of course, then it hit me - T might not have school today. So I pry my eyes open and turn the TV to the one news channel I've memorized here (seriously - I have no idea what is going on with my mental block. I can't remember our local phone number, R's cell number, or his work number. And I keep trying to write South Dakota for a state instead of Illinois. How weird is that?) I watch and watch and watch for our school district to appear on the closed list, but I don't see it. Could it be? Could we be the one district (again, that I'm aware of) around here that isn't going to be closed or on a delay today? Not trusting the news, I go downstairs to check it out online -and holy crow! School is on. Fine by me - especially since T got all his valentines finished yesterday with no complaint whatsoever and we made a Valentine's bag to put them in. Hooray!

I get him fed, dressed, and brushed and off to school he goes on the bus - on time, with Valentines and book order all completed. And S and I? We get to shovel the driveway because I need the cardio and don't want to drive to the Y in this weather.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Unexpected gifts

Last week, T came home with a bunch of info in his backpack that I should have gotten a couple weeks ago. It was a simple oversight, no big deal, but part of the information dealt with Valentine's Day. The class T is in wants the kids to do their best to fill out their Valentine's themselves. T loves to write his name and will occasionally ask to write other words, but he's just not that into the whole writing thing yet. But I thought it was a great idea, plus the teacher asked us to do this, so I sat him down the next day and tried to get him to write out a few. He did three, but getting the last one done was a bit of an effort. At that point, I figure 3 a day will be fine and we'll get them all done before we have to send them into class. Except that he refuses to do them on Friday or Saturday. I didn't push it. We still have some time.

I was surprised that he was willing to sit down tonight and try again. And tonight, that little super valentine addresser did 10 in under an hour. And with everyone that he completed, his writing and spacing got better and better and better. I was so excited and proud of him, and seeing him blossom under just that little bit of individual focused attention brought something to light that I've been trying to avoid. I may stay home with the kids, but each of them need focused individual time with me and with R. Every. day. So, starting tomorrow, I'm going to schedule time with the kids individually. I think the best way to do it after dinner since they'll be fed and winding down. Plus, R and I can switch off so that no one (hopefully) feels left out. When I really think about it, the best days that we have with the kids are days where that happens naturally. I can't believe I haven't seen it before now. So much for my powers of observation.

I'm excited to see what happens this week and how this changes things. I would love for there to be more positive and less negative interaction, and guess what... I can totally make that happen, and I absolutely will.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Well this was an interesting day

Last night about midnight, I woke up and realized that someone was trying to smother me to death. So the thoughts that ran through my head when I realized I couldn't breathe very well were that 1 - the world was indeed ending a year ahead of the 2012 prediction, 2 - R was really ticked off about the picture thing from last weekend or 3 - we had left a door unlocked and a random band of miscreants were going to murder us for our kids dvd library, our collection of power tools, and whatever miscellaneous objects they could find that had value. I hope they weren't counting on my wedding set as the jackpot, 'cause I scored that baby through the diamonique collection at QVC. We're in the military - enlisted - no way is that 3 carat beauty the real deal.

By the time all this ran through my head, I realized that no one was actually trying to kill me because for sure I'd be dead already. Taking stock of my surroundings, I realized I had a toddler on my head. S had come in our room and crawled into bed with us. Why she decided to fall back asleep while laying over my massive head is a complete mystery to me, but there she was. So I wiggled out from underneath her, which of course woke her up, and I got her all settled back down. She's a kicker so I decided to lie down on the floor until she fell back asleep and then I'd move her back to her bed. Then I realized that it was silly to lie down on the floor when there was a perfectly comfortable couch downstairs. Grabbing a blanket and pillow, I headed to the couch. Every time I'd go to move her back to her bed, she'd wake up. I realize now that I should have just put her back in her bed, but I didn't want her to start screaming and wake up T. Once he's up - that's it for sleep for all of us since S won't go back to sleep either.

Around 4 am, I finally fell asleep on the couch. My head must have been in a strange position because when R came downstairs and woke me up to go back to bed upstairs, I was so stiff and achy. I somehow got myself upstairs and collapsed into our bed. I woke up at 9:30 which is the mommy equivalent to noon. Still feeling stiff and achy, I took a long hot shower. Have I mentioned lately how lucky I am to be married to R? God bless that man for letting me sleep in and take a super shower.

Feeling awake and human, I came downstairs and sat down at the table to have a yogurt. That of course meant that S wanted one too, so as I got up to get her a spoon, I dropped my yogurt which splattered all over the floor and across the books and photo albums on the bottom shelf. Great. As I'm cleaning that up, T walks over and says - "Mom, you've got to be more careful." HA.

So I go to get something to drink and as I open a bottle of fizzy water, it spews everywhere. Yikes - I haven't been up an hour yet. It most have been something in the air today, because all of us were just clumsy and dangerous today - dropping things, spilling things, tripping over things. It was getting to the point where it was really comical. Then, at dinner, S is sitting at the table with a butter knife practicing cutting with a piece of french bread. R and I aren't that worried because we were right there, the knife wasn't sharp, she knows to be careful, and the bread she was cutting was super soft. All of a sudden she drops the knife and starts to scream. I can just tell she's cut herself. I tell R he has to look at it because ever since T slammed his finger in the door a couple years ago and practically split it in two, that's all I can see with finger injuries involving blood. R takes S over to the sink and her finger is really bleeding. Once he tells me it's not in pieces or that a piece isn't missing, I'm okay to go and look at it. Whooo - that looks bad. R asks me to get a band aid, so I go the the van and get the first aid kit. We cleaned the cut, ran some cold water over it, then put some ice on it to help stop the bleeding. We weren't having a lot of luck, so we wrapped it up, and decided to go to the ER. By the time we get to the ER and go inside, the bleeding has stopped so we can get a good luck at the cut. It wasn't as bad as either of us feared and definitely didn't need stitches, so we left. On the way back home I have R stop at Walgreens so I can amp up our first aid supplies. Not exactly sure what will be a good fix for S's finger (she's awful about pulling off band aids if there's an actual wound underneath. Put a bandage on an imaginary boo boo and it's there for eternity). I end up with steri strips, knuckle and fingertip band aids, gauze pads, and new skin which is a liquid that seals to protect minor cuts and scrapes. My intention is to use all of the above on her finger, but we only end up getting the new skin and a steri strip on her finger. But it works. It's clean, it's protected..I'm happy with that.

So now that it's way past bedtime, we take the kids upstairs to go to bed. R tries to put S to bed and she's having one of those "I want Mommy" nights so that's not working. I go to tuck in T and I smash my toe on the bed frame. Now, normally this would be no big deal, but before we left Germany I dropped something on my toe, and my toenail did not fare well. When I hit my toe tonight, what's left of my toenail cracked right in half. I did manage not to utter even one swear word - unless you count BananaPants - and when T said, "Now Mom, you know after a day like today that you have to be more careful" I couldn't help but giggle. Possibly a bit hysterically, but hey - after a day like today, I think that's pretty good.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A'ight you little terrorists under five. LISTEN UP

Dear fruit of my loins,

What the heck?!?! Why do I have to tell you both two hundred and sixteen times a day (and yes I did indeed count yesterday) to put your bottom on the couch? Not your head, not your feet, not your super jumping special toes, not your torso, not your stomach, not your knees - your bottom. And please, for the love of all things holy, can you explain why it's utterly impossible when your bottom is actually where it's supposed to be on the couch that you have to hurl yourselves backwards so hard that if my ample rear weren't sitting on the couch too that, in all likelihood, you'd flip it over backwards?!? And while we are on the subject of inappropriate couch behavior, why on earth would you think I'd be in favor of leap frogging it, flipping over the back, diving on it from the side, or using it as your personal trampoline? And might I just add, lying sideways on the seat and pushing against the center part with your toes is NOT how the furniture was designed to work. And if you shrug or roll your eyes at me ONE MORE TIME when I'm trying to calmly explain this to you for the two hundred and sixteenth time today, I am sure, absolutely positive, in fact, that a jury of my peers would understand why I left you here alone to check myself into either the nearest anger management course or mental institution.

You've known me your entire short lives. At no point have I EVER said, yes, please jump on/color on/wipe your nose on/wipe your hands on/attempt to destroy the couches. NEVER, I tell you! And now that we have leather-ish couches that clean up easier, you can't pull the cushions off, and are more comfortable to sit on, why have you instead turned up your destruction knobs to 11? What is up with that, my devils spawn? Huh? WHAT!?!

And since I'm on a rant, the giant hole in the middle of the toilet is for peeing into, not around. The lid on the back? It is NOT a splashguard. There are no plants on either side that need to be watered, so please stop trying.

Oh - and FYI - I'm not your maid. I. Am. Not. Your. Maid. Or your butler, or personal concierge, or entertainment director like Julie from The Love Boat. Pick up your crap, I mean toys, when you are finished playing with them. Shoving them under the couch or putting a blanket on top of them? That totally does not count. Go that extra two inches and put your dirty clothes IN the laundry basket. There are about six to choose from throughout the house and either you do it just to tick me off or your clothes are so averse to being washed, dried, folded, and put away by me that they are jumping out of the laundry basket. If the latter is the case, I find it ironic that they never make it farther than the floor right beside the basket. Did they jump to their death when they hit the nice, carpeted floor? Perhaps they were too tired from the extra weight of the mud, food, and bodily fluids they seem to be coated in.

Oh - and if you can get the lid OFF the juice, milk or water, then guess what??! You can put it back on, too. And when you spill milk all over the floor? I never took physics, but I'm willing to bet that 1 paper towel is not going to be enough to absorb the entire puddle. And FYI, waking through it DOES NOT count as cleaning it up. Just sayin.

That said, I love you both more than I can say and I'm so glad that I get to share this time with you. Now where in the Samuel L. Jackson is my secret chocolate stash?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

This always happens!

Last Friday, the kids and I came downstairs to do the breakfast/get dressed/noyoucantwatchcartoonsbeforeschool shuffle. S, who has developed an obsession with Yoplait's Lemon Creme Pie yogurt (it is totally to die for), was eating the aforementioned yogurt. T was diving into a bowl of Apple Jacks. I went to turn on the water so I could wipe down the counters, and I noticed that there was water everywhere. It was impossible to tell where the leak was exactly, because it seemed to come from several places. This can't be good. S and I had to leave to meet R and go to the legal office at 8:30, so I fussed with the faucet until I got it to stop leaking and then stopped touching it immediately. One of the best things about living in base housing? Maintenance!

After we got back from doing morning errands, I cautiously approached the sink and decided to try and rinse off the breakfast dishes. This time, water actually shot out from the back of the faucet. I've never seen that happen before, and I'm still not convinced that it wasn't some sort of optical illusion. I was wearing my contacts, so maybe that was part of it. Wait, that makes no sense. Never mind.

I took a deep breath and called housing maintenance. They said that they considered this a housing emergency, and would send someone out ASAP. Well, cool! T comes home from school and the kids and I are baking cookies. I need to turn on the water again, and I really, really don't want to do it because if T sees the squirt and splash show, it's going to be a battle to keep him away from the sink because he'll think that's hilarious, which means S will think it's hilarious, which means they will want to do it again and again. The bright side to that possibility is that the area around the sink will be very, very clean. Hmmmm.....nah. Still not worth it.

I wait until they are distracted and then very gingerly turn on the faucet. No leaks. Not even a drop of wasted water. Yay! I mean, wait! What?! Whoa! So I start turning the faucet on and off. Water comes out where it's supposed to, and no where that it isn't supposed to. Oh for the love of pete! I've got maintenance coming to fix this, and now there's no leak? This is like the time R was deployed that I had to jump the car anytime I wanted to go anywhere for a week, but let anyone be interested in helping me, and darn thing started and purred like a kitten. OR like any one of the times that the kids had a horrible fever and were obviously seriously sick, but when we got to the Dr's office, there was no trace of the cough that was keeping all of us up at night and the kids, whom I had described as 'lethargic' were bouncing off the walls and acting completely normal. T, still over at the cookie dough bowl, doesn't even look up at me but says, "On or off Mom. You're going to break it." Ha!!!!!

I'd like to think that I'm handy and knowledgeable enough to have fixed the faucet, but I know better. I try to call maintenance to let them know the leaking has stopped, but it turns out there is no way to do that. The line is automated and only gives you the options of opening a service ticket or leaving a message. The line actually says that there is no way to check on or cancel an open ticket. Well, alrighty then. I'm going to look like a big fat liar. And, just like I fear is written in the medical files from Germany, the housing people are going to put "hysterical and over reactive" by my name. Sigh. It was leaking, I swear it was.

A little while later, the maintenance guy calls me. I explain that I'm so sorry, but that the faucet isn't leaking now, even though it totally, absolutely was when I called before so he doesn't need to come. There's a slight pause, like he's thinking about whether or not I'm crazy, and then he asks if he can come by anyway just to check. Well, sure! But it's not leaking mister.

He shows up and explains that these faucets give the maintenance crew a fit. There's some sort of piece that tends to pop up within the faucet, and it will cause it to leak. (I think he was just being nice.) He ends up taking the faucet completely apart and putting it back together - just to 'tighten things up'. He says he has no doubt that it was leaking, but the skepticism on his face screams "liar, liar pants on fire!" Ahh, well, what can you do? You could tell from looking under the sink that there had been a leak. He was also impressed that I had thought to look under the sink and mop up the water that had leaked down there. If this impresses him, what kind of people live in this type of housing? (Well, folks like the McNeighbors for one - bet he's glad he didn't have to go and look at her sink - where in the heck would he park his truck?!?)

At any rate, he packs up his tools and heads out. The sink does fine all day on Friday. Over the weekend, however, the it did the leak thing again - with R here. VALIDATION. No spectacular water spewing like before, just water coming from the bottom of the faucet again. I wiggle the faucet around until it stops and then announce that only I should turn the faucet on and off in the kitchen because it leaks whenever anyone else does it. R, in the middle of the 'where is that picture' frenzy (if you haven't read about that yet, it's the Mea Culpa blog), doesn't bat an eye at this, he just agrees and backs slooowly away from the sink. Awww! He's finally learning!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Horticulture project

Not long after we moved here, we went to a Sears store to get a new battery for R's power drill. I mean, how on earth can I forget the pictures have been hung on the wall until they've been hung on the wall to forget? While R was looking at drills and drill batteries, the kids and I wandered around the store. There were some 'plants in a box' for 75% off. When the little lightbulb in my head flipped on, I thought it might be a good idea to get a couple. The kids and I can do this as a project one day and enjoy watching the flowers grow.

Last week, I 'found' them in the garage, so we sat down at the kitchen table yesterday to get-a-plantin'. The kit included a pot, dirt disk pellets, and bulbs. The instructions said to pour X amount of warm water onto the pellets, let it soak in, then break apart with a fork. Then you can plant the bulbs and eventually you'll have flowers. Hooray. Sounds easy and fun, right? My first kit contained two packages of pellets. There were two pellets to a package. I put all four of them in the pot and added water.




I distracted the kids with lunch and we came back to the pot a bit later. Well, the top disk was certainly absorbing the water. Progress! I got a fork and poked around on it a little and I'm telling you - this stuff is apparently super freeze dried, dehydrated, and compressed wonder dirt. Just the edges of the dirt disks were really absorbing the water and loosening up, but the problem was that the pot was already full and over half of the dirt wasn't finished expanding. I opened the second box to transfer some of the dirt into the second pot, and realized that we were only supposed to have one package of dirt disks. Well, whoops. So I start to divvy it up, and I get dirt everywhere. The kids are literally jumping up and down wanting to help me 'move the dirt'. Nooooooo thank you - I don't need that kind of help on our little family project. I'll just do it. What? There would be dirt in the light fixtures and every single surface of this house - light carpet included.

So that I can technically count this as a group project, we planted the bulbs and placed them on the bar. The pots are cute, the bulbs had already started to sprout a little, so I'm feeling this great sense of accomplishment. Family togetherness - check! We water the bulbs and go outside to take a walk. Coming back in, it turns out that one of the pots leaks water. Suddenly, the price is making a lot more sense. So now there is dirty water on the bar and the dirty water has also run down both the back and front of the bar. So I get to clean that up. Yay! We've been in this house about a month and already I've put in more cleaning hours than in six months in Germany. Next time we'll just paint. Sheesh.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Trying something new

Ok. Here's the thing....I have this bizarre desire to be validated. Not all the time or for every little thing, but just every once in a while to let me know that I haven't completely lost it. What it is that I'm afraid of losing changes fairly regularly - my sanity, my friends, the ability to make people I know and people I don't laugh, the ability to laugh at myself (that one's important, folks!), and a bunch of other stuff. So, in hopes of using this whole blog thing to maybe, possibly help me figure out what it is I want to be when I grow up, I've joined The link to TopMommyBlogs is on this side ------>

If you like what you read, clink on the link and I'll get a vote. Also, please feel free to pass my blog on to anyone that you think might like it, identify with it, or need to read it to know they are not alone, life is crazy and coping mechanisms are what you make them. :)

Thanks for reading my blog. It wouldn't be the same without you.

Zippy the Wonder Slug

Someone on Facebook asked about my ex husband the other day. It was just a general, "hey does anyone know where _________ is? I don't know, actually, and while I don't wish him any harm, I also have no desire to reconnect that wire.

I gave him the nickname Zippy the Wonder Slug because I'm mean and heartless. Okay, not really. He earned that nickname for a couple of reasons. First, he had the oddest run of anyone I've ever seen. Watching him move, you wouldn't think that he could move quickly - kind of like how a bee shouldn't be able to fly - but by golly, he could be speedy. It never failed to amaze me. The wonder slug part came because he hated to do anything. On Saturdays, I'd get up and go do whatever. He'd slide out of bed after noon, slither to the couch or recliner, and sit there. He'd eventually get hungry and he'd slither into the kitchen where he'd inevitably eat something really really bad for you. I compare it to the Friends episode where they showed what would happen if Monica and Joey had ended up together....fried stuff with cheese. We went to a Shoney's breakfast buffet once and he heaped a dinner size plate with eggs, smothered it with the nacho cheese sauce stuff and ate it all - in addition to a plate of bacon. And he really wasn't overweight. It was the darnedest thing.

Of course, this was the guy who hit on my brother's date while the four of us were at a function of the company I worked for at the time. And he hit on her with my brother and I sitting right there. In plain view of my boss and coworkers. Just in case you are thinking (like I would be) maybe he was just being nice - uh uh. He was sitting beside her and rubbing his hand up and down her leg. Because, you know, he didn't see anything wrong with the fact that we were married, they were not, and that she was there with my brother. As his date.

There was also the time we were out at a club with two mutual friends of ours. The club had a go go cage on each side of the stage and for whatever reason, two girls got in the go go cages and started to strip. Most men just watched, a few tipped, but Zippy? He climbed INTO the cage with one of them and started to take off his shirt. Uh, hellllooooooooooo. On what planet would you ever think that's a good idea? I can't remember if we got thrown out because of that little scene or if we left voluntarily. I tend to think the bouncers would have voluntold him to leave - it's not like go go cages are roomy, and if the amateur stripper had taken a notion, she could have charged him with sexual assault. And yes, we were drinking, but not enough to explain that behavior.

There are many more stories about Zippy, but I think the picture has been pretty accurately painted. My brother will be happy to tell you about how he used to bathe with the dog (don't ask) and about sixteen other things off the top of his head, but none of them are flattering. Which is a shame, because Zippy was a sweet guy with a big heart. He was just missing some sort of appropriate behavior chip. I can't imagine any marriage could survive that kind of consistent behavior. It's also funny in my blast from the past experiences of the last week and a half or so that it never occurred to me to look him up, even thought he was my first real crush when I was 13. He was also my first real kiss. It's too bad it ended up the way it did, even though I'd go through it again to be able to meet and marry R and have this wonderful, blessed life we have.