What the heck happened!

January 6, 2011 at 3:22 pm (Bored)

I’ve been offline for months and months. I am going to make a change and start blogging more often. It is good for me, better for my children and life in general.

In the meantime, check out my two hooligans… love them so much! This is on Brody’s birthday.

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The beginning of school already?

August 16, 2010 at 2:56 pm (Brody, Canada, Evan)

I cannot believe the summer is almost over.  The boys are back from Canada. They are starting school next week. On a Wednesday. Who does that? Since when does school start on a Wednesday? It’s quite annoying. They also have an early dismissal. ugh

According to everyone, the boys had an amazing time in Canada. I had a great summer and missed my boys terribly. However, they came back tanned and blonde (SUPER blonde!).

Things have been going good, I’m down-sizing my “things” and we are set to have a garage sale soon. I’ve got to get back into the habit of keeping this blog up to date. I was going through so much stress, it felt good to take a step back for a minute. It also feels like the right time to start writing again.

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I just need a little “I” time

May 3, 2010 at 8:16 pm (Brody, Canada, Evan, whining)

It seems I am in the trifecta of a poopy mood. My sciatica is THROBBING, it’s that time of the month and I’ve banged my hand in the same spot TWICE in two days. I think the boys can sense I am weak right now, because they’ve been relentless with me. They are like a predator hunting their prey. I feel as though I’ve done nothing but argue and yell at them for the past 3 days.

Of course, this is not completely single sided. They’ve been arguing and yelling at me for the past 3 days. I am so worn out I can barely write this. Right now, the boys are with their dad at Brody’s baseball game. I had to leave, I needed to spend a little time by myself – regrouping. And having a beer.

I don’t know how to resolve all the yelling. I don’t know where to find the energy the boys need me to have. My sciatica (which I never had until I got pregnant with them) takes all of my energy. I’m in constant pain – anyone who has chronic pain knows exactly what I’m talking about. It drains all of my energy, my patience (I’ll admit, I have very little patience to begin with), it runs me into the ground.

As an introvert, “me” time is fondly referred to as “I” time. I’m not gonna lie – I need a vacation! I need to lie on a deserted beach with a good book. For about 2 weeks. Uninterrupted. Except for the waiter … because someone needs to bring the drinks!

Did I mention we are going to Hawaii in July? Ooh… it must have slipped my mind! The boys were so upset they wouldn’t be coming with us, but they’ll be at their grandparents’ house by then – and honestly, that’s way more important than a silly ol’ trip to Hawaii!!

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An update on the Finches!

March 31, 2010 at 1:40 pm (Finches!)

The female finch that was born last month is doing really great! She’s thriving in her new home, although I feel the “pet shop birds” are teaching her bad habits. She’s fluffy and cute and is getting along well. Both of her parents feed her still – which is interesting to see. They are also teaching her how to feed herself.

The dipshit finches in the other nest have not made out so well.  All along, I’ve known they weren’t the smartest birds. Or the most caring. A lot of the fighting between the males is caused by this male and the female is just as argumentative. She laid three eggs a few weeks ago, all three hatched. One of the babies didn’t make it, so she threw it out of the nest (mother nature is so cruel!). Two of the babies appeared to do quite well. I was amazed she’d actually accomplished sitting on the eggs long enough so they could hatch. I noticed a horrible smell coming from the cage the other day so I took the flashlight to see if the babies were still in there. Finches have been known to eat their babies (WTF!) so I was concerned this might have happened. Except, it was much worse than I could have dreamed. Both babies were dead – I’m pretty sure they starved to death. Their bodies were starting to break down in the nest and I needed to get them OUT as soon as possible.

Getting rid of dead animals in our house has become… interesting. The fishes were flushed, no one had a problem with that. When the kitten died (during birth), we buried it in the back yard. The baby finch died and the boys (along with their cousins) found a spot in the backyard and buried it as well. I was certain the boys would want the same for the two baby finches. I have not told them the babies died, nor did I tell them I dumped their tiny little bodies in the garbage. I would have, but the bodies were decomposing and stinky and it was raining and cold last night. The last thing I wanted to do was have a burial in the backyard for the babies.

You have to be sneaky as a parent, sometimes. While they were watching Planet 51 (thanks Grandma!) I took the nest out of the cage and dumped their little bodies in the garbage. I was contemplating the compost, but felt that wasn’t a good idea. I needed to get rid of the smell and since Michael wouldn’t do it, I had no choice.

So as it stands right now, I have 4 adults and a fledgling. I’m waiting for the parents to start pecking at the fledgling, when that happens – I need to move her to a different cage. Maybe they’ll have more babies, maybe they won’t. Everyone seems to be happy, including the murderous pair of imbeciles – so I guess I’ll just wait to see what happens. In the meantime, I’m going to try and go to a bird show. I think it’s time to expand my finch birds!

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I’ve banned another activity from the morning ritual

March 31, 2010 at 1:27 pm (Brody, Family, Ranting, Single Parenthood)

Talking.

First, it was TV.  If the TV was on, the boys weren’t listening. So, I did what any parent would do – I banned the TV in the morning. I’m slowly weening them off the TV in general, but you can’t go cold turkey. Like any addiction, you’ve gotta start out slow and work your way towards NONE.

Things were going great, the boys were getting dressed on their own. Brushing their teeth and combing their hair. We even started making breakfast together. I would get out the bread and toaster, they would pop the toast in, I would come back to put something on the toast. It worked (and still works) well.

When we woke up this morning… dun dun dunnnnnn – all heck was about to break loose.

Usually, Evan wakes up in a great mood. I wake him up, tickle him and give him hugs – then he’s good for the day. Happy, smiling, cheery. But Brody, on the other hand, is a freakin bear in the morning. Ahem… I’m not sure (ahem) where he gets that from. He needs to eat first before he does anything else – then after food, he magically turns into a nice kid. This morning was no different. Nothing I could do or say was going to move him from bear into nice kid. His head hurt. His knee hurt. He was cold. Evan was looking at him. Endless…

So I did what any (krazee, tired, and worn out) parent would do who was pushed to her emotional and mental limits by a crying, weeping 7 yr old whiney boy – I banned talking in the morning. It’s perfectly logical if you think about it.  Brody is no longer allowed to talk in the morning unless it’s positive or helpful.  He’d wake up on the wrong side of the cave and bitch and moan at me – then I would bitch and moan back and all of a sudden, we are all in a bad mood. So I discovered the root cause and have nipped it in the bud. You see, WE have this problem in our house, WE think (and by WE, I mean THEM) it’s okay to talk to people any old way WE feel like – without suffering the consequences of OUR actions (and by actions, I mean words). It’s unacceptable and it’s rude. Manners matter!

I once did an experiment with them where I didn’t talk to them, for what seemed like an eternity (hence 30 minutes) I did not answer them or speak to them at all. They felt it was fine to ignore mommy when she spoke, so I ignored them. As you can imagine, neither child liked that very much. What this did was give me ammunition (should I need it) to stop this behavior in the future. If they don’t listen to me, I can very quickly say “do you want mommy to not listen or speak to you?” and both boys know how THAT felt and can quickly change their actions.

So we will see how the NO SPEAKING (unless it’s positive or helpful) rule goes. I’m determined to make it work. Of course, I have no control over what they do at their dad’s house. Hopefully, with time, Brody will wake up and feel positive about the day rather than bitch and moan and make the rest of us cranky. Wish me luck!

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A few new things at the house

March 19, 2010 at 11:53 am (Finches!)

We’ve had quite a few events happening at the ol’ homestead. First, I got a new car.

It's a sweet ride!

The BMW was breaking down on a regular basis and it gets to a point when you’ve gotta say “enough is enough!” Last week, I added oil; on Monday I got a warning “check engine oil.” Same thing that happened four weeks ago. Just spent $650 on a new water pump… what a waste of money.  So, the pacific is a welcomed change in our household. I completely blew the boys’ minds yesterday. I went to pick them up from baseball practice and told them they were riding with me. That was met with a ton of whining and complaining… until I open the door to the Pacific! Brody said “is this for real? or is this a rental?” I said it was for real, then showed them all the cool things the seats do…. like flipping over to let in 3rd row passengers. The leg room! The head room! The drink holders (there are 6, thank you very much). I would have loved a sun roof…

I can seat 6 in this bad boy!!  6!!!

And, the baby bird who was disgusting and gross when he first hatched has morphed into something beautiful! At least I think he’s a he and not a she. But whatever.

He/She doesn't have a name yet

He/She is a sweet little thing. I was slightly confused and thought he/she was at the “get me out of this nest” stage; if that were the case, I needed to move him/her to a new cage so he/she didn’t get killed by his/her parents or the crabby neighbors. After checking the ever wise internet, I determined this little one needed to stay with his/her momma for a few more weeks.

The spot pattern on the tail is definitely the same as his/her dad (thank goodness there won’t be a paternity suit). I wasn’t really sure how birds mated – you can find that explanation here (caution: it’s not very romantic).  Apparently, these feathers will fall off (called molting) and the adult feathers will come in. Which is when I’ll be revealing the sex of the new addition. Fortunately, this story of life is NOTHING like when the kittens were born. I am happy to say I will be keeping this new little bird and… the other one that hatched yesterday…

What is it with me and animals having babies at my house?

Mom called me the local ornithologist and the nutritionist at the Petco thinks I’m a goddess. Apparently, Finches don’t have babies right away and when they lay eggs, it takes a couple of tries for things to turn out correctly.  Whatever, I guess I have a way with animals and their mating habits. And succulents.  And lemon trees.

So, back to the nestling… I went to take both nests out of the cage. As much as I love the baby birds, I just cannot handle the aggression the adults show towards each other during this period. Now, along with beating the crap out of each other, they have started ripping the others’ nests apart. It’s like a freaking soap opera. When I took the other nest down (the one that this bird did NOT come from) I found a newly hatched bird inside. Along with two other eggs (I was so tempted to take them out of the nest, but I don’t need the bad karma). I can’t tell if the other eggs are going to hatch or not. Since eggs are laid at the rate of 1 per day, I’m giving these other eggs a few more days. I am surprised (completely) any egg hatched at all. The pair of finches responsible for said egg have been the worst and most neglectful parents EVER.  Miracle of all miracles has occurred. We’ll see if the bird survives.

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What is it with my animals having babies?

March 8, 2010 at 2:23 pm (Finches!)

If you compare a cat having kittens, to a bird having a hatchling… well, there really is no comparison.  The cat was seriously hectic. Lots of activity, mewing, placenta, embryonic sacs, and the ingestion of said objects (I still vomit a little in my mouth every time I think of it). Not to mention 8 weeks of constant mewing, the fleas the mother brought home with her (a reminder of her dirty weekend), finding homes for said kittens and the momma cat eating their poop. blech.

With the birds… not so much. So far, it’s been stress free. Completely stress free.

It all started about 2 weeks ago. The birds had been fighting relentlessly. I thought it was because 1 pair had a nest and the other pair didn’t. The odd thing was, the nest had been in there with the original pair – they showed NO interest in the nest. The newer pair took right to the nest and set up shop.  FAST. To stop the fighting, I was going to do what any normal parent would do – put the nests next to each other and FORCE them to get along (for the love of GOD!).  Because the cage is enormous, the best thing to do is to take one thing down from one side, put it in the middle, go to the other side and retrieve the said item. I voted this job to Michael. He stuck his hand in the cage and removed the nest from the side of the cage, he put it in the middle, and as the cage rolled, three little eggs almost fell out of the nest. I immediately started jumping up and down and screaming with delight “eggs! eggs! eggs! there are eggs! in there!!!” So he put the nest back where we found it and promptly told me to stop screaming like a little girl! Helloooooo

She laid about 6 eggs or so, I only know this number because we found 5 eggs on the floor of the cage. I read a few websites and found that once she laid the eggs, the gestation period was about 12-15 days (give or take). On Saturday, we were on about day 16 so I figured I’d clean the nest of all the unhatched eggs – because I assumed the birds would be horrible parents. They were barely in the nest, choosing to spend their time dive-bombing the other pair of finches. As I picked up the nest to take it out of the cage, I looked inside and found the tiniest hatchling moving around. I put the nest back and immediately started jumping up and down!!  A baby! In the nest! The finches aren’t stupid! They’ve managed to hatch an egg… in between all the fighting – where’d they find the time?! It’s amazing! I can’t believe one hatched!

He/She has no feathers and looks sort of like this.  The only difference is our little finch has this yellow thing around it’s neck. It reminds me of those neck things you use on long road trips – or on the airplanes. Basically, it’s a repository for food. It’s big and yellow and deposits food in the birds tummy when it’s parents are out foraging for food. In our case, it deposits food when the parents are out fighting with the other pair of finches.

Apparently, according to the nutritionist at Petco, we must have a happy place for our finches. Most hens do not lay eggs and when they do – those eggs do not hatch. To have an egg hatch, in a home setup… with nothing special – is, well… special.  :) Pictures to come when the little fella is more presentable.

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Help for an inspiring woman

February 18, 2010 at 5:55 pm (Melodie, Michael)

When I first heard about Anissa, I wasn’t really familiar with her as a person. I knew she did some talks at Blogher, I’d seen some pictures of her, I’d “heard” her name mentioned in other blogs I read.  I got invested when I’d heard she had a stroke. After reading the heartbreaking story, I used her story to inspire me to get very honest with Michael. Reading her story gave me the strength to put myself out there, to put my heart out there and have a very serious discussion with Michael. Without knowing it, Anissa and her husband Peter opened me up to possibilities. The possibility of having my family back – the possibility of having my best friend back.

Even though I don’t know her – she means a lot to me because of the strength I found while reading her story. I donated money to help her get some outpatient therapy. Anissa’s story is exactly why healthcare in the US needs to change. She needs outpatient therapy, roughly 40 days worth – however the co-pay for the facility is $100 per day. No caps. It will personally cost their family $4,000 to put her through much needed therapy. Of course, the other option for the family is to leave her as is, without a fully functioning right side of her body…  Not a good option.

I donated and I’m encouraging everyone to donate to help Anissa and her family through this struggle.

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What I love about Montessori school. And a few things I don’t love.

February 1, 2010 at 8:48 pm (Bored, School)

Where has the time gone? Brody just received his first report card. His first “official” report card for the first grade. Oh sure, he got some scribbles in Kindergarten, but Brody was the teacher’s pet in KG… Brody could do no wrong in Miss Delmy’s eyes. But first grade? They are a little harder on their students and have more kids to deal with (10 vs 40). Brody was late 4 days this semester. I was responsible for 1 of those late days (for those of you keeping track (hence me), 25%). He only missed 1 day.  No bad, I’d say. By the time I’d finished first grade, I’d missed 12.5 days.

Not only did we get the report card, we got instructions for the grading system (very helpful) and “guidelines” that should be followed if we were going to share the report card with our child. We were told the report card is written for parents, not children. If we “decide” to discuss the report with our child, we need to make sure we emphasize their strengths and gently redirect their challenges.

Gone is the anxiety, gone are the grades that indicated F for fail, etc. Now, the children are assigned numbers (1 through 5), 1 for “experiencing difficulty with the end of the year grade level standards” and 5 for “advanced demonstration of grade level state standards.” This part, I do not like so much. The number system seems so gentle… so non-threatening. Teachers need to put the fear of failing into a student, what the heck is a number going to do?  I guess I’m a little old school.

The report is broken down into four sections; mathematics, cultural studies, language arts and (wait for it) life long learning skills. Life long learning skills include such categories as intrinsic motivation, social responsibility, stewardship, good citizenship and confidence. There are many other categories as well (such as the ability to accept external authority). Apparently, Brody usually works for the apparent pleasure of so doing but rarely demonstrates mastery by showing others. He always completes work to the agreed upon criteria (he gets that from me) but only sometimes replaces materials in good condition when finished (he gets that from his dad). My son is a critical thinker!  This is what I love about Montessori! My parents were never told, throughout my entire history of school, that I was a critical thinker. Or that I had social responsibility. Or that I had the ability to accept external authority.  Back in my day, you had to accept external authority otherwise our parents would hear about it and then YOU were in real trouble. 

Thanks to my mom, I have my first grade report card. The comments on my card said “Melodie is a confident reader. She is also a good little worker. I’ve enjoyed her “down to earth” approach.” And my favorite comment “Dear Melodie, Have a happy summer! Thanks for being such a happy little girl!” Gotta love Mrs. Victoor (and I truly did, she was awesome). Other comments were “study of Japan, nutrition, Norway, pioneers and Eskimos.” Vague with very little detail.  In the comments section on Brody’s report, Brody’s teachers mentioned they want Brody to offer more help and take more responsibilities in the classroom. Their goal for Brody is to become a role model for his peers.  Comments include “He is comfortable working on dynamic addition and subtraction abstractly” (although abstractly sounds like a made-up word, it’s not. However, I have found his teachers like to make up their own words on occasion). “Brody is going to be working on dynamic multiplication soon.” Really? I am not sure I even know what dynamic multiplication is – never mind accomplishing it in the first grade.

What is truly shocking is the part where his teachers say Brody usually demonstrates concentration, patience and persistence because I have never seen him use these skills at home. Unless he’s playing a video game. It’s kind of like the time I called his kindergarten teacher and asked her how she handled his constant whining. Her response was “Brody does not whine, he communicates with me quite well.” Really.

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Hello 2010!!

December 31, 2009 at 1:01 pm (Holidays, Melodie)

I don’t know about you, but I am so done with 2009. I am ready for a fresh start! A new year! It’s time to clean out the closet and start again. I love starting a new year, you have so many hopes, dreams and goals.

2009 was not the best year I’ve ever had. I don’t think it was the worst either. I believe 1994 was the worst year, I lost both grandfathers that year.

Let’s sum up the year:

  • Brody started the first grade!
  • Evan started kindergarten!
  • I did an amazing amount of soul searching and really discovered who I am and what I want in life
  • I started a great job
  • I finished my Associate’s Degree (I have the diploma to prove it)
  • I branched out of myself (and my introvertedness and social awkwardness) and met some amazing new friends
  • I stopped lying; to myself, to my children, to everyone (hard to admit I lied, but it’s human nature so I’m told).
  • I stopped taking things and people for granted
  • My parents visited! Hooray!
  • My cat Minnie had a dirty weekend, got pregnant, contracted fleas and completely ruined my entire summer. How, you ask? The fleas that infested Minnie, infested my house and nearly drove me crazy. The kittens were super adorable and all have lovely, lovely homes now.
  • I went to Edmonton, Vancouver and Vegas (twice)
  • Michael moved out
  • My father in law passed away
  • The boys spent the summer in Canada getting to know my family
  • I experienced some of the darkest days of my entire lift

See what I mean? Not a bad year, not the best year – but definitely a memorable year. I feel blessed to have made progress on my life journey. I’ve discovered the adult version of the girl I once was. A girl I’ve missed terribly for so many years. I’ve regained my inner voice and actually started listening! For once in my life, I have looked in the mirror and actually loved what my body looked like. I am able to laugh at myself and be honest with the people in my life – these two factors have improved my quality of life immensely.

I no longer feel guilty for taking time for myself. I don’t feel guilty for being who I am and doing things I love. I am blessed to have healthy children, a loving family and fabulous friends.  Happy New Year – I am wishing you the absolute best for 2010!

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