Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Chaos in the water

Master J started swimming classes last Monday. Each session is 30 minutes long and there are only 3-4 other kids in his class so he gets lots of opportunity to get focused on. Now, if he could be the one focusing he might actually learn something.

Last week I had to threaten him with the loss of poker chips for every time I heard him "shriek like a girl". He lost six chips one day.

Monday, some poor arachnid had the dubious honor of being the focus of Master J's attentions. The spider had somehow gotten under the platform that runs around the pool and was popping up every time the water moved. Which with Master J around was a lot. Unfortunately for everyone, the spider made his appearance about halfway through the class. His appearance was greeted by Master J's loud warning "SPIDER ALERT!!! SPIDER ALERT!!!" Followed by the sound of an uncannily accurate police siren. This continued throughout the duration of the class. Good times.

Today, he didn't shriek excessively nor alert us to any spiders. No, today he chose a different tact. Today we had the age old "I can't swim forward, something is sucking me backwards!" routine going on.

Every day is a new day around here and you just never know what you're going to get on any given day. I'm grateful for every one.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Land Mogul

Over the past two days, Master J and I have been working our way through a game of Junior Monopoly. Normally, I can't stand playing Monopoly, Junior or otherwise. Mister C loooooovvvvveeessss him some Monopoly, as does Master J. Why? It's because they are both land moguls. They buy up everything in sight, throw houses followed by hotels up and sit back and reap the profits. I have never won a game of Monopoly. Never. In my life. I suck at this game. But the men in this house are both so competitive that they actually like it. So anyway, after two nights of playing, this is what the board looks like...

Do you see on the right side of the picture where all the deeds and piles of money are? That's Master J's side. The top of the photo where there are a few deeds and neat (but small) piles of money is my side. Wouldn't you think I would have the advantage? Yeah, me too.

And this, well, this is the land mogul/slumlord himself, cackling about his good fortune. Somebody needs to bring down his evil empire. Unfortunately, I don't think I have enough money left. Dang it!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mourning a good life

Lu is gone. She had some sort of seizure/heart incident last night just after midnight. She did actually revive herself after not breathing for about a minute, but she struggled through the rest of the night with coughing fits every few hours . We brought her to the vets this morning and had her euthanized. As difficult as it was, it was the right thing to do.

We never wanted Lu. We acquired her as an adult on Mister C's 30th birthday. My in laws brought her down with them from Fargo when they came to the party. They had had her for about three weeks. My mother in law bred toy poodles. Toy poodles prance gently through the house. Lu bolted through the house without much direction or thought to what might be in her way. She was way too much for them. When they packed up their car to leave our place after the party, they packed their bags. They packed their toy poodles. But they neglected to pack up Lu. When we offered to get her, they said they didn't want her. And so a crazy dalmatian was added to our household. We already had an adolescent lab mix that weighed about 95 pounds and was sadly lacking in common sense. She couldn't be that much worse, right?.

Lu had no house manners. She got on all the furniture. She tipped over the garbage and ate whatever she found until we broke down and bought a can with a lid. She surfed the counters and ate anything within reach. And it was amazing what she could reach. She ate raw sweet potatoes (plural) once and produced orange droppings for several days. She ate a sponge mop one time. It was new and in a grocery sack so I guess it could have been mistaken for food. All in all, she was the worst mannered dog I have ever owned. But we decided to keep her anyway. She had already lived in four different homes by the time we got her. We just couldn't see re-homing her again. She really was a sweet dog. And besides, at 38 pounds, she could consistently knock over our lab by running straight at him. He never did figure out how to dodge her. She ruled the roost. And she eventually settled down.

By the time Master J was born, Lu at least had some manners. But it was when he was born that she really came into her own. She adored him. I used to have to shoo her out of the way just so I could periodically have a picture of Master J that didn't have her in it. She put up with him rolling on top her or using her to help pull himself up. If I didn't close his door at night, I would find her sleeping next to his crib. Of course, at dinner time she was planted right next to him. She wore antlers at Christmas and dressed up as a fire dog all four years that he was a fireman at Halloween. She loved all kids, but especially Master J. For a dog that nobody seemed to want, she was probably the best dog I've ever had. And it sucks that she's gone.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Science Experiment # 522

Master J is all about doing "experiments". He's always loved science and wants to find out "what if...". "What if I combined toothpaste with water and some soap, would I be able to make minty body soap that would clean really well?" Ummm, no. You would definitely smell minty, no doubt. But clean? Not so much. He's always been a seeker of knowledge.

So it should come as no surprise that when I was helping him put some bins of legos under his bed I would run across one of his experiments. As a side note, I'm usually on top of what Master J is doing. As active as he is, he really doesn't get much past me. I learned early on that an unsupervised Master J is fine, so long as you don't mind purple cabinets or blue paint on white carpets.

Anyway, as I'm pushing a bin to the back, I notice a plastic jar on it's side in the back. Inside the jar I can see what looks like a milk container. The single serving kind you get at Subway. It's kind of hard to make out for some reason. So I pull the container out from under the bed. And realize that it's full of water. Cloudy water. Hmmm. Interesting. I ask Master J to please take the jar down the hall and put it on the counter next to the sink, but not to open it. I do this for the sole purpose of letting him know that I know. He looks a bit sheepish and apologizes for having water in his room. I finish what I'm doing and head down the hall with the intention of emptying the water out of the jar and recycling it.

The first thing I notice when I open the lid is a slight odor. I know I've smelled it before, but it's faint enough that I can't quite place what it is. I dump out the water and pull out the milk container. Which I assume is also full of water since it's sloshing. I undo the lid and without thinking, dump it into the sink. It comes out in chunks. And then I get hit with the wall of putrid milk smell. GAG! Oh my goodness, how long has that been in there? Because there's more solid than liquid and it is bad. So I do what any good parent does.

ME: Hey Master J, come to the kitchen.
MJ: Yes?
ME: Check out what's in the sink.
MJ: (looking quizzically at the white chunks) what is it?
ME: Smell it, see if you can figure it out.
MJ: (takes a big whiff) GACK!
MJ: (looking accusingly at me) What is that?
ME: Milk
MJ: (looking back in the sink) What's wrong with it?
ME: It's rotten.
MJ: From what?
ME: You tell me.
MJ: Is it because it was under my bed?
ME: Yeah. What didn't it have under your bed?
MJ: Refrigeration?
ME: Yup. Don't do that again.
MJ: Okay Mom. That's gross.

Now if we could just get him to use that brain to think through his experiments BEFORE he does them, we probably have the makings of a great scientist. Otherwise, we just have the potential for smelly carpet at any given moment. Boys. Sigh.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A few days off

I haven't put anything out here in a few days, but not because I haven't been doing anything. No, I have been pretty busy, but life is getting in the way. I'll throw out the good stuff first.

I had an interview with a team leader at a real estate office near my home on Tuesday. I firmly believe I will not be working for this particular firm. I'm sure they would be a great fit for a lot of agents. I'm not one of them. The interview was well over an hour long and she was pretty positive towards me. She even went so far as to tell me that she really wanted me to work there. I'm just uncomfortable with some of their practices and I'll leave it at that.

Our favorite agent, Miss Deb, came over on Wednesday and I spoke with her for several hours about the firm where she works and real estate in general. I adore Miss Deb. She's one of the main catalysts for me starting down this path. She has always been the shining example of good customer service of all the agents that I have personally worked with on real estate transactions. She had a lot of good insight and ideas. She also gave my name and number to her broker so I'm hoping to hear from her fairly soon.

I had coffee today with a gal from my real estate classes. I had really enjoyed speaking with her in the classes and I thought she would be a great one to stay in contact with. I wasn't wrong. I still really enjoyed spending time with her and hope to get together on a regular basis. We're both just starting out on this new adventure and I'm hoping we can help each other as we go.

So that's the good stuff.

The not so great stuff concerns my animals. As most of you know, I have a menagerie of characters from the animal kingdom. Two dogs, three cats, one guinea pig and a bunch of fish. For personal reasons, I don't have birds. Personally, they freak me out.

I love my animals. They have comforted me when I've been sick or lonely or just having a tough day. They make me laugh with their antics. But they also make me cry. Because eventually, no matter how much I love them, they come to the end of their lifetime. Their lives are much too short for my liking.

Almost exactly two years ago I had to have my 17 year old cat Spike euthanized. He had suffered from liver problems for a while and had gotten to the point where the three times weekly hydration therapy that I had to administer weren't enough. Rather than go to sticking a needle in him daily, I made the decision to have him put down.

I am now in a similar situation with my older dog. Lu (AKA - the Intellectual) is our 11 1/2 year old dalmatian. She's been on thyroid medication for at least six years. She was diagnosed with a heart murmur about five years ago and has been on increasing dosages of different medicines for about the last three. She currently takes eight pills a day. She's an absolute champ about it, just takes the pills out of my hand and waits for her cookie. But the pills aren't working any more. She's now entered in to congestive heart failure and it's getting worse by the week. She's coughing throughout the day now instead of just a few times a week. And every once in a while, she loses her balance and has even fallen over. She always gets up, but I can see in her eyes that she's scared. And it's not right of us to keep her around because we'll miss her so much when she's gone. Mister C is traveling today and tomorrow and again on Monday. I don't know when exactly we'll be taking her in but I know he wants to be there for it. Because for all she's given to us we can't ask her to die alone.

But it gets worse. Because I also have Rex (AKA - the Idiot), my 14 1/2 year old cat that is rapidly declining in health. He used to be a robust (read: fat-a$$) 14 pounds. I would guess he's somewhere below five now. He does eat, but he's wasting away anyway. He hasn't slept with us in months. He can usually be found sleeping on the couch or on top of me if I'm sitting down on the couch. He's never been the smartest one in the pack (even when in a pack of one) but he's always been sweet. And he's always been extremely tolerant of Master J carrying him around. I suspect if Master J had been a girl, a certain black cat would have spent the majority of his waking hours wearing a bonnet and a hoop skirt. And probably would have been okay with it.

The thing is that both of these animals have been around since before Master J was born. I'm not sure how he's going to deal with losing both of them in rapid succession. I'm not sure how I'm going to.

Monday, March 23, 2009

My son, the union worker

As I've discussed previously, Master J is on a regime of coffee drinking in the morning to help curb the effects of his ADHD. It has worked wonderfully so far. The only problem is that the effects of the caffeine wear off after about 4 or 5 hours. School is six hours long.

We've been experimenting with using caffeinated soda to see if we get the same results. Not so much. The regular soda (non-diet) had a horrific effect on him. So we tried diet soda. The first time we tried it, I only gave him about 2 ounces and while it had some effect, it wasn't much. The second time we tried it, I gave him about 5 ounces and it worked pretty well. Today, I gave him about 7 ounces. And it had the opposite effect. His behavior actually got worse. He was sitting next to me shaking his leg uncontrollably and talking nonstop. This lasted about two hours.

On the way home from swimming, I decided to stop and find something that I could pack in Master J's lunch box that would have the effect of coffee. I looked around for about 15 minutes before I arrived in the coffee aisle. Every drink that I checked out though was full of things besides caffeine and I really think I want to keep his caffeine as pure as possible.

And then I saw it. A small, shiny chrome, thermos. Bingo! I can make a 3/4 cup of coffee in the morning and send it with him in his lunch box. All he has to do is drink it with his lunch and he should be good for the duration of his day. So I bought it. And tonight I washed it out in preparation for sending him to school tomorrow. And I can just picture him tomorrow, taking his shiny thermos out of his lunch box while sitting with all his classmates and pouring himself a cup of coffee. Kind of reminds me of a bunch of union guys on break. But hopefully we've solved our problem.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

How I know I'm in the Wild West

On Saturday, while sitting at an outside table on a break from my class, we looked up to see a cowboy, with a guitar and a gun, on a horse, going down the sidewalk. The group at our table kind of laughed, but nobody else even batted an eye. I'm fairly sure it was a guy known as "The Singing Cowboy" and his horse Dusty, but still, kind of neat to see. I just wish I would have had my camera with me at the time because that's not something you see every day.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Educational videos?

Master J has a life long (all 8 years) love of vehicles. So much so that he has maintained for the last few years that he will be a garbage truck driver when he grows up. He may end up being one of the smartest garbage truck drivers around, but he'll be happily driving his truck and picking up trash.

One of the things that's happened over the years (a blessing really), is that he would rather watch a "Dave video" than a kids movie. "Dave" is a guy that came up with the idea for kids videos where he explores different kinds of vehicles. They are awesome videos that even adults can learn something from. Dave visits cars, trucks, airplanes, boats and trains. I'm not plugging them, but I can't tell you how grateful I am that Master J would rather watch this type of video than to make me sit through typical kid videos. If you're interested, you can find it here:

"Real Wheels"

So anyway, at dinner tonight, Mister C was discussing taking a trip to Canada next summer and the following was the discussion.

MJ: So, can we take a train?
MC: I guess we could probably think about that.
MJ: I'd really like to take a train in Canada.
MC: Well, we'll see.
Me: I think there is a train that goes across it.
MJ: There is. It's the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Me: Wow, how did you know that?
MJ: Umm, Mom, that's what videos are for.
Me: (trying to figure out when a teenager invaded my 8 year old's brain) Oh.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The zoo

Master J and I headed to the zoo today for a few hours. I took my fancy new camera and ended up taking 191 photos. Upon arriving home, I immediately deleted 39 of them. And the rest? Well, funny thing is that most of them are either of Master J or flowers. There really weren't a whole lot of pictures of the animals in the zoo. I'm not really sure why that is. It could be because most of the animals weren't doing anything spectacular. It could be because the flowers and Master J were just so much more appealing. Or, it could be that I just really dislike zoos. Don't get me wrong, zoos have come a long way since my visit to the Bronx Zoo in the early 80s. That place was suicidally depressing. Animals in tiny cages, surrounded by cement, going crazy. You know, a typical zoo before zoologists figured out that it wasn't exactly the best environment. I think that experience jaded me though. I can't go to a zoo today without seeing the animal that's suffering. Today it was the maned wolf. Who has paced a path around his enclosure and just walks it repeatedly. Kids and adults yelling at him to get his attention. Yeah, he's happy. I spent most of our time trying to stay away from one particularly obnoxious group of people who's kids were amazingly pushy and rude. And who apparently had a tracking device implanted somewhere on my person because no matter what direction I took, they were right behind us, prepared to invade our space.

For the record, the Phoenix zoo is a pretty cool zoo overall. They have a nice mix of animals that, for the most part, appear to be fairly well adjusted. It's not as nice of a zoo as the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, but it's pretty decent. The important thing is that Master J had fun, and he did. We walked around most of the zoo but somehow managed to miss the lions and tigers. I think we looped around it entirely when we went to see the mountain goats and then got distracted by the search for a place to sit down with our granola bars (because I'm cheap).

After we finished at the zoo, we decided that on our way home we would find a place to eat. I was basically trying to get back to my neck of the woods when I turned onto 7th Street and headed north since I knew I could get to a highway from there. But about two blocks later, we spotted the bright orange sign for MacAlpine's and had to go in for lunch. Master J and I love MacAlpine's. It's good food and fantastic shakes. Master J had his typical hotdog, chips and chocolate shake and I had my typical club sandwich, potato salad and chocolate shake. MMMMMMM! I ate my fill and still brought back 1/2 of the sandwich and potato salad for Mister C. I did not bring him any chocolate shake though. It's not that there wasn't enough, because there's more than enough to share. It's that I don't generally share chocolate shakes with anyone who I haven't given birth to. All things considered, that rule has worked out rather well for me.

So currently, Master J is cleaning his room. Mister C picked up some under bed storage containers for him and we're hoping this helps out with the mess in there. So far he's managed to make more of a mess than he had at the beginning, but as long as it doesn't leak out of his room, I really don't care.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


State exam passed. I had a scheduled test time of 8:00 this morning. I got there at 7:30 (of course) and signed in. The lady at the front desk was pretty brusque with everyone. Not rude or anything like that, just all business. I'm sure after repeating myself 500 times a day with "everything must go into the locker" I'd be pretty businesslike too. They give you two hours to finish the national part and 1.5 hours to get through the state part. I started testing at 7:38. I finished the national portion at 8:44, well, actually closer to 8:40 since I had to wait for three other people to sign in before I could sign out. I have to tell you that I was pretty nervous at that point, but the nice gentleman in charge of letting us in and out let me know pretty quickly that I had passed. I signed out, put my 1st certificate in my locker, used the restroom and went back in for the state portion. Which I finished in 20 minutes flat. Oh my goodness. I probably don't have to tell you I was sweating that one. I figured I either really knew it, or had failed miserably. But, I was relieved even before he told me I passed because I saw him push the "certificate" paper into the printer. And I knew it was all good. After getting my things out of my locker, I stopped at the desk to see if there was anything I needed to sign in order to leave. The brusque lady running the front desk told me no, and then asked "What took you so long?" and started laughing. Ahh, so she isn't all business all the time!

Master J - poor baby has his mama's eyebrows.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Not boding well for the teen years...

Remember how I said that my boy decided to cover himself with temporary tattoos the other day? I wasn't going to post the photo because I only took one picture and it was in really poor lighting. But I decided that one crappy pic was better than none. I apologize for the crappiness of it, but I think you'll get the general idea. Should I start worrying now?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Master J's Birthday Party

We dragged everything over to our local park for Master J's birthday party today. We had a lot of fun just hanging out, eating pizza and watching Master J play with our neighbor and some younger kids that were at the park as well. After he opened his gifts, he immediately took his cool new garbage truck (from Mamoo & Papa) over to the play area and started using the shavings as "garbage". A little boy of about 3 came over and started playing with him and Master J was so sweet with him. He let the little boy play and push the buttons and dump the garbage. All the really cool stuff that little boys like to do when they have a garbage truck in front of them. He really is a great kid.

The cake was a success in that it tasted good. The design was pretty fun, but taste is what ultimately matters in that situation. We still have about a third of it left but we'll snack on that for a day or two and then toss the rest. If there is any left to toss that is.

So the biggest disappointment on the day was that while Master J took eight invitations to kids, not one came to his party. Worse yet to me is that not one parent saw fit to actually respond in any way. I did not get one call saying someone was or was not coming. I can only assume that all of the parents around here were raised by wolves and thus have absolutely no manners whatsoever. Have we gone so far to the side of casual that we can't pick up a phone to let someone know if we plan on being at an invited event? I know it's just a kid's birthday party but it's just plain rude. Sad to say, I probably won't make that mistake again. I think for future birthdays, Master J will be allowed to have one friend and we will call that one friend's parents ourselves to get an okay. Having said all that, he still had a whole lot of fun at his party. And that's all that matters.

For the record, I have not included any close up photos because my charming son decided two days ago to cover himself in temporary tattoos. Including one on his forehead. We tried washing them off, but there was enough residue left over that it looked like he had road rash on his head. Nice. Very nice.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Birthday cake

Master J turns eight tomorrow. Eight years have flown by in what seems like an awfully short amount of time.

Every year for his birthday I make him a cake. This year he requested a cake shaped like a bucket of popcorn. He also wanted it to portray the movie "Transformers" and tornadoes. Due to the difficulty of incorporating those three things, we are going with a Transformers party theme and a cake shaped like a bucket of popcorn. As for the tornadoes, well, that's what went through my kitchen while I was trying to make the cake. Having said that, I did manage to put together a halfway decent cake, at least to an eight year old.

The cake is four 8-inch layers, two chocolate and two of french vanilla. I used chocolate frosting in between the layers and a butter cream frosting on the outside. The "popcorn kernels" are made from cut up marshmallows. The worst part about that was having to clean my kitchen shears every third marshmallow in order for it to cut cleanly and make the kernels look more realistic. It took me about two hours to decorate the cake after I assembled it.

Overall, it wasn't too difficult, it was a fun idea and I'm sure Master J will be very happy with it. The lighting wasn't great in my kitchen, but you get the general idea. I'll try to get a better picture of it tomorrow with Master J at the park.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Life in the failed lane

I hit the DQ a few days ago on my way home from taking my exam. I hadn't eaten dinner yet, I knew there was no food in the house and I just wanted something quick. My burger came to $3.92. Anytime between 3:30 in the afternoon until close, the entire staff consists of teenagers. Knowing this, I decide to be nice and dig out exact change. I'm able to get the .92, but I only have two one dollar bills and a ten. So when it's my turn at the window, I hand the young man $10.92. For a bill of $3.92. Pretty easy right? Evidently not. This particular DQ doesn't have an automatically closing drive thru window. I really wish it did. Because then I could tell myself that the two teenage males were arguing about who won which game as opposed to what I got to hear.

1st Teen: What's $10.92 minus $3.92?
2nd Teen: $7.
1st: No, that can't be right.
2nd: It's $7.
1st: No, I said $10.92 minus $3.92.
2nd: Yeah. It's $7.
1st: I don't think so.
2nd: Well, what does the register say?
1st: It says $7.
2nd: Right.
1st: But that can't be right.
2nd: Why not?
1st: Because it was $3.92 and she gave me $10.92.
2nd: Uh-huh.
1st: So it should be like $6 and change. Right?
2nd: No. It's $7.
1st: Are you sure?
2nd: Dude, just give her $7 and forget about figuring it out.

It's bad enough that they had to have any discussion about this at all. What makes it worse to me is that the kid was using a cash register that automatically calculated it for him and he still couldn't figure it out. At first, I thought it was pretty funny. But the more I thought about it, it just made me sad. Here's a kid, who did not look "challenged" in any way, that has made it all the way to at least 16 years old and he can't do simple math. This is something he should have learned in second grade. I only know that because it's pretty much what my son is working on currently in second grade. Where does this kid go from here? Unless he has some athletic ability, his opportunities in life aren't looking that great. I think we failed another one.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I got an 87.5% on my school exam. Not perfect like I would have preferred, but passing nonetheless. Now on to the state. I'm really hopeful that I can get this stuff behind me find a broker I can work with. I'm guessing the biggest problem I'm going to have is finding one that is willing to take me on as a newbie. I've never sold anybody anything (unless you count garage sales & Craigslist!). What I really need is someone who's willing to put me in a mentoring situation so I can learn by doing and seeing it done. I want to learn from someone who I can respect. Someone who isn't just doing the job because it's their job but because they love doing it. I've even considered offering to come in as someone's assistant just to learn more. The only thing I worry about there is getting stuck at that position. I'm still sorting it out. I'll let you know as I'm going along.

Mamoo & I went to Master J's "Tea at the White House" thing this morning. It was very cute with all the kids dressed in their costumes. Master J did stupendously. It was amazing to watch him up there, completely focused and calm. It was such a difference from the last time he was on stage in 1st grade. For that one, he had somehow managed to take a pocketful of pretzel goldfish with him. Which he proceeded to eat throughout the performance. Dipping his hand in his pocket, popping one in his mouth and chewing away while lip-synching. And gyrating. And bumping into the kids around him. Twenty minutes of this. Until he got a piece of pocket lint instead of a goldfish. And then, oh then, the theatrics. The look of horror that crossed his face, the gagging, the spitting out into the hand and trying to figure out what it was. If it weren't so tragic it would have been comical. But not this time. I'm always proud of him but now I think he feels pretty good too.

Master J as Benjamin Franklin

Reciting his line

Being interviewed by a parent

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Bet you thought I forgot to post (again)

Well, if I were on the east coast right now, I would have missed my window but I'm not, so I didn't. How's that for a run-on sentence?

So I took my school exam tonight. But I won't have results until tomorrow after 11:00. I guess I assumed it would be on a computer but I assumed incorrectly. It was filling in bubbles with #2 pencils. I think I did alright on. I'm pretty sure I passed. I checked and rechecked all my math problems. I read every question as carefully as I could. I went back through and reread every question at least once before I filled in the bubble. Actually, if I hadn't done that, I would have missed more than a few. The wording is very tricky on some of the questions. But overall, I feel pretty good about it. Guess we'll find out how much denial I'm in tomorrow.

Day 4 of the caffeine experiment went very well. I gave Master J 1/2 cup of regular coffee with a spoonful of the Swiss mocha in it to kill the taste. He commented that it tasted different, but he liked it and drank it down. His teacher reports that he was great for most of the day but got a little squirrelly about the last 10 minutes of school. She was most impressed with his behavior during their program practice. They have a little thing going on tomorrow that I get to go to that they have been practicing. It was about an hour of being on stage, going over their lines, practicing getting on and off the stage, etc. He was perfectly behaved. No outbursts, no distraction, no getting agitated. Nothing. Just good behavior. I'm not holding my breath, but I'm really hopeful. We're just taking it one day at a time and hoping for the best.

I'm still loving my camera. I haven't really had the opportunity to take too many pictures of people since I got it. I've been mostly taking it out to shoot the flowers or my critters. I'll try and get one of Master J tomorrow in his getup. Till then, these will have to suffice. And for those of you that are on my FB, sorry for the repeat, but I'm too tired to try and get different ones today!

Monday, March 9, 2009

One more day

I take my school exam tomorrow evening. I thought I was going to take it last Friday but evidently the world does not revolve around me and they didn't hold a seat for me. Guess I should have tried to get registered more than 48 hours in advance. Oh, well. I guess at least I've had the past four days to study instead of just going in cold. I hope I have a grip on this information. I think I do. But then, I also thought it would be "just a review" from my previous attempt and we see how well that's worked out. I did five chapters of the math this afternoon and only missed two problems so that wasn't too bad. I intend to read through some questions again tonight and then tomorrow morning as well. I'll head out to my exam around 4:00, stopping only long enough to pick up a kit-kat candy bar. That's only because I read some thing about the Japanese school kids doing it. It's supposed to be good luck. Something about the name. I have no idea. I just know if it's good enough for Japanese school children, it's good enough for me.

On another note, I picked up Master J from school today and he'd had a great day. His teacher came out smiling and relaxed looking and he was walking about 20 feet behind her talking with another little boy. She said he was great. I asked specifically about the morning and she said "Great! Actually, really good all day." So I told her that we had started the caffeine test. I also told her about the Mountain Dew debacle and she laughed. Because she knew. It probably helped that I did my impression of him with arms aflailin' and crazy "meth-head" actions. Yeah, no story of mine should be told within distance of breakables. I can't help it. I was raised on the east coast. Whatever the word is for "physical verbosity", I am. Anyway, the main point here being that day 3 of the caffeine test which was also day one of it at school, went pretty well. We'll keep tweaking it until we get it right or prove it doesn't work, whichever.

Also, totally as a side note, Mister C mentioned to his mom that we were doing this whole caffeine test and here is the conversation. I could hear his side, her side is per him:

Mister C: So, we're trying this thing with Master J where we are giving him caffeine and it really seems to calm him down.

Minion: What?!? You're giving him caffeine?!? That's not good for kids!!! I can't imagine how bad that is for him.

Mister C: Well, what would you suggest we do?

Minion: Give him Ritalin!

Mister C: Really? I shouldn't give him a natural substance with no real side effects because it's bad for him but I should give him some man made drug with known side effects? Really?

Minion: Caffeine is bad for kids.

Mister C: How's your hip doing?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

ADHD & Caffeine

I've been reading about using caffeine with kids (and adults) with ADHD and thinking about trying it with Master J. We started yesterday.

Yesterday morning, I made up a coffee smoothie using the Cafe Vienna from General Foods and a protein powder. This was based on directions from a website. It was not a big hit. Master J did finally finish it about an hour after he started. It seemed to calm him down.

This morning, I skipped the smoothie recipe and just gave him the Cafe Vienna cooled down with ice. He didn't complain nearly as much and finished it in 20 minutes. It seemed to work a lot better. He finished it by 8:40 and at 9:15 I saw him yawn. Twice. This child rarely, if ever, yawns during the day. He rarely, if ever, even napped as a 1 year old. So him yawning during the day is pretty amazing. He was very calm for the next three to four hours.

This afternoon around 2:20, I gave him 8 oz of Mountain Dew. Which he sucked down in less than 3 minutes. I may has well have shot him full of meth. Because he was totally out of control of his body. And his mouth. For about 2 hours. After he started going crazy, I checked the bottle and realized that the first ingredient is high fructose corn syrup. Which he's never been able to handle. Whoops!

So what have we learned? Caffiene = good. HFC = Evil Empire (still). Also, that Mister C has more of an ability to tune out craziness and chaos than I do.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

It's Here!

They dedicated and opened our new library today. We walked over to take a tour and get our new cards. That's right people, we walked over. How cool is it to be walking distance to a library? It's one of my favorite places to be and one of Master J's favorite places as well. We walked over. I am so excited!

I got a decent picture of the outside of the building. It's a really neat design, although I'm not really sure what you would call it. Mid-Century Modern? I don't know, it looks like a big wave. The inside is awesome too. Lots of chrome, clean lines, funky lime green chairs. I was in the process of taking a photo of one of the sitting areas with the green chairs and some art work behind it. It was a really cool shot. And just as I was about to press the button, three pre-teen girls walked right into my frame and plopped their butts down on the chairs completely ruining it. Talk about oblivious. I'll go back when it's not a madhouse and try again.

Here's the wave...

Here's a bush outside of it (very exciting, I know!)

On a totally unrelated subject, I've taken Master J off of cow's milk for the next two weeks to help rule out an allergy. It's the weekend and I always make waffles on the weekend. Waffles made with soy milk suck. I may have to tweak that recipe. Tweak it right out of existence that is. Blech!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Life's mystery #357

Mister C: Honey, why do my clothes always have pet hair on them even when I pull them out of the closet?

Mirth: I don't know why they would. I mean, I pull them straight out of the dryer and hang them up in the closet right away.

Mister C: Hm. Weird.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

In his defense, they were warm.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

And now it begins in earnest

The studying that is. I took my last class today and am scheduled to take the school exam next Tuesday evening. I've been having Mamoo quiz me the past two days on the questions in the practice books and I have improved. I think between my walk with Mister C tomorrow morning and Master J getting out of school in the afternoon, I should be able to get a few hours of studying in. I may have to bury myself in my bedroom this weekend for hours at a time to get anything done while he's home though.

On a cool note, my new camera arrived today while I was at school. Yay!

Of course, I haven't taken it out of the box yet. Why you ask? Was I studying my eyes out? No. No I was not. I was scraping the old grout out of the shower in our bathroom. Why would I do that? Well, about a week and a half ago I spoke with the guy that we've used previously as our handyman. He does great work at reasonable prices and he always shows up when he says he's going to. At least he used to. He was supposed to show up last Saturday to give us a quote on caulking the shower and running some wire for Mister C. On the day I spoke with him, I had started scraping the grout out because I thought I or Mister C could re-caulk it ourselves. Thinking that Handyman would be showing up, I decided to stop the project mid-way. And we commenced to taking showers in Master J's bathroom. But now, it's been over a week and a half since I spoke with him and almost a week since he was supposed to show up. I'm giving up the dream of having someone else do my work and am just going to do it myself. It's a pain to remember and take everything I need from one end of the house to the other just to shower. I cannot tell you how many times I have been forced to run like hell past the open front door either topless or in a shirt but sans pants. Apparently I need a checklist of items just to shower because I get distracted and need reminders on what is required to dress myself. Besides, I'm sick of having to sort through legoes and matchbox cars just to shave my legs.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Someone has to be the bad guy

Guess it's me.

Mister C took the garbage can to the curb tonight and got talking with the neighbor across the street. At one point, he came in and then went back out. I didn't think too much of it. Until he came back in the second time and informed me that he had just bought books from someone. Someone who approached him and the neighbor. On the street. After dark. With no ID. And the books would come later. I about fell out of my chair. I could not believe how gullible he was. I asked him if he was serious. He was. I asked him if the kid claimed to be a journalism student who needed the money to go work with the BBC in London. He looked shocked that I knew that. I asked if the kid claimed to live nearby. He couldn't believe I could know that either. I asked how much he gave the kid. He told me $55. Are you effin kidding me? Lord have mercy, I love my husband but I will not take him to New York City any time soon. He's a walking target.

Mister C went back outside and I followed him a minute later to see if he got our money back. He hadn't even tried. But he was kind enough to point out the young man that had scammed him and was walking towards us. In his defense, the kid was very nice and not at all belligerent. I guess they're training them better these days.

I asked him where he lived and he gave me an address. I asked him if it was his house and he said it was his parents. I asked him if they owned and he replied that they rented. I asked for their names. And then I told him to wait right there. I went inside and checked the assessor's website to see if the house came up as a rental. The stupid site was down. So I went back outside and told the kid point blank that I didn't believe that he was legitimate and that while I couldn't prove it right then I would. He was very gracious in giving back the check my husband had written and even gave us his cell phone number so we could "call him to come back tomorrow" after we figured out that he was on the up and up. I asked him where the area code was from and he said he had been living in California. He went on his way and I went back in my house.

The website did come back up and the house showed as a rental so I called the owner. She had only recently rented the house but the people were from Arizona, not California. And they weren't the people Mr. Sales Guy gave as the residents of the house. So yeah, scam artist city.

Mister C is very smart. He does things that most people can't even begin to understand. But he has absolutely no ability to spot a sales pitch or a scam artist. He believes what people tell him. Which is why I have a "No Solicitors" sign on my door. Apparently he shouldn't be allowed outside without supervision either.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

It's all in the brain

Mister C & I met with our son's teacher and vice principal today after school to discuss where Master J is at, behavior wise. According to his teacher he is "maintaining, but not getting better", which kind of sucks. Here's the thing, I honestly think we did him such a disservice by moving him up to the Midwest before the start of first grade. He improved in kindergarten down here from the beginning of the school year to the end. He started first grade up there on a good note, and then went downhill. It got substantially worse at the beginning of second grade until we finally moved back down here. It sounds like we are back to where we started. I don't think he's worse than when he started kindergarten. And I do think he's better than when he was up there. In fact, the one thing that his teacher said that I thought was really interesting was that the kid his previous school described in all their copious files and reports, and the kid she met and knows aren't even the same kid. She would never even connect the reports with Master J, that's how harshly they described him. So I know we're in a better place for him, for sure. And she has patience beyond belief. She always mentions how much she likes him and how brilliant (her word, not mine) he is. But his behavior is getting in the way of his learning. So now we're going to look into a few different options.

If you know me, you know where I stand on medicating kids. If you want to medicate your child, that's fine for you. I think way too many parents and teachers reach for the drugs first because it's the fastest and easiest method to make their day easier. And yes, I am judging. I've seen it too many times. Kids living in homes with no consistency, watching way too much tv and fed a steady diet of processed crap. Gee, wonder why he acts like a maniac? Guess he needs meds. I also do believe that some small percentage of kids actually benefit greatly from medication. I believe that some kids lives are literally saved by being medicated. Honestly, kids like Master J have the potential to drive parents insane and if I were the beatin' kind he probably would have been abused by now. So yes, medication is sometimes the best thing for everyone involved. But it isn't my first choice.

My first choice has been watching his diet, having rules and not allowing excessive tv viewing. In fact, he has to "pay" for what television he does watch with poker chips he earns for doing the right things (his chores) and making good choices (offering help without being asked, for instance). And, at almost eight years old, he can tell you what would make a good meal. He knows that he needs proteins, good carbs, fruits, vegetables and healthy beverages like milk or water. He rarely drinks juice, even when offered.

My second choice is to take him to a "brain center" and have them give us a plan for some sort of neurofeedback training to re train his brain. There's a place nearby that's been recommended that I'm going to contact after this week is over. I believe this could make a huge difference. But I have to see what they say first.

My next choice would be natural medication. There is evidence abounding about the connection between caffeine and kids with ADHD. Given in proper doses, caffeine has an effect similar to Ritalin. There are naysayers out there regarding the connection. Mostly pharmaceutical companies. For what that's worth. There are also people who believe strongly in the vitamin/mineral therapy. We used to have next door neighbors that used this with their son. They described the way he was before and it sounded like a different kid from the one we saw.

My last choice is the man-made medications. My own belief, is that a whole lot of these aren't much better than a medical lobotomy. The results are similar in the change of personality of the child, and I believe the long-term results are still unknown. I don't want to dope my kid up. He's too smart, too sweet and with a personality that is bigger than life. I don't want to medicate the good with the bad. But that's usually what happens. It's kind of like trying to "spot reduce" your body. As much as I'd love to lose my stomach fat by running on a treadmill, we all know it's my breasts that will go away first. Which in turn will put more attention on my problem area. It just never works out the way you want it do.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Results of the debt diet, as far as I took it anyway

I quit keeping track of my spending somewhere around February 19th. There was a lot of stuff that was budgeted for (groceries) or actually required (vaporizer). And there was some extraneous spending on things like a candy bar while I was at school. Nothing too bad. But there was one glaring expenditure that is a recurrent theme here in Mirthville and that is coffee. Between February 1st and February 19th, I spent over $25 on coffee. The total for vending machine coffee and Fourbucks was $29.30, but I know I bought at least one bagel in there. But even at $25, that's $1.25 a day in extra coffee. That's above and beyond what I drink at home, which is anywhere from 1/2 to 1 and 1/2 pots. I may need to take a hard look at this particular addiction.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Got GPS?

Remember a few days ago how Mister C and I shared a wonderful walk through a newly discovered neighborhood? Remember how much we enjoyed it and vowed to go back to enjoy it again? Well, today was the day we decided to do it. It started out the same way, that is with us thoroughly enjoying the peaceful, tree lined streets and friendly people. It didn't quite end the same way though.

After our last walk, I checked on Google Earth to see if there was a way to walk further through the neighborhood while walking less on the main streets that surround it. And there was. I checked the map twice, even using my index finger to follow the road to it's appropriate end (because that's the most scientific method). Anyway, I thought I had it all figured out when we left the house this morning. But I was wrong. Because I made us turn onto the wrong street and go about a mile out of our way. In each direction. Twice. I finally gave up and let Mister C lead us. He went the way he had been saying from the beginning was the right way, the one I had insisted was wrong. And within about ten minutes had us to the street I had been looking for. Which would have been great, except that there were no trees on this street. No golf course or water features either. But by the time we figured this out we were halfway down it and not turning back.

At the end of our walk, we had been walking for over three hours and both had sunburns. Nice. We both decided that next time we'll walk the tree lined boulevard to the end. And then turn around and walk it in reverse to get back home. Shade the whole way, beautiful scenery and an end in sight. I guess there's something to be said for not always trying to discover a new way.