Thursday, July 28, 2011

I was right about the imp.

He's doubled his vocabulary since I wrote about the assessment.  Not only that, but he knows most of his colors and most of the alphabet, even if he can't say all the letters.  I think he's gone from a ten or twelve word vocabulary to something like fifty or sixty--with more appearing every day.

One of his new little things he does is run to the kitchen door, reach over the gate, look back at me and chirp "Eat?  Eat?" when he's hungry.  And now that he can do that, he's eating every couple of hours.  And he's put on about two pounds.  Yep, my 40" tall son now weighs a whopping 30 pounds.  The pixie is only about ten or eleven pounds behind him.

He also makes specific requests for what he wants to eat: "I wah nutbed" is I want peanut butter bread (nut bread), and he says "ham" quite clearly.  Chicken is still "gak" for the sounds they make.

Other requests are coming, too.  He asks for "ju" (juice), "dink o dur" (drink of water), "Tas" (Thomas the Tank Engine DVD--best reward for good behavior).  He's started asking to draw with crayons on printer paper, too.  Most other requests take a few tries to understand, but  "Pee pee?" is self-explanatory. 

It's amazing how he's turned the corner.  I don't know what flipped the switch, but he's gone from a silent or screaming with frustration little boy to a little boy that still gets frustrated, but does better about getting his needs and desires across.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Oh, thank God!

Yesterday, I finished grading first drafts of my students' last paper for the summer semester.  Their revisions are due Friday, as are their last blogs.

I have totally lost patience for my summer students.  Most of them seem to have only taken my class because they thought a summer course would be easier: either less work, or a teacher that grades easier because they don't want to work.  Well, that might work with some classes; however, I make them do almost the same amount of work (sixteen fewer blog posts, because I don't make them do four posts per week), and since I don't want to work, I tend to get grouchy and grade harder than I do during a regular semester. 

And this summer, the students really tried my patience...about half seemed to have not read the textbook.  A few needed tutoring, but there were no tutors in our campus's learning center for English over the summer.  And one had no idea she couldn't lift whole we articles and post as her blog post with linked credit with no work of her own, and then, when she got no credit, thought I'd let her have a redo

The worst offender, though, was one that set her right and left indents a full inch in from the margins, and still didn't make page requirements.  She did this on every paper.  And then, on top of that, created a new blog every week instead of putting new posts on the one she created at the start of semester.  And this despite the chapter on that assignment in my textbook specifically telling them not to do that, and giving explicit instructions on what to do.  And she had the gall to ask me how she could pass my class.  Simple, sweetheart: READ THE CHAPTERS, FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS IN THE ASSIGNMENT SHEETS, AND DON'T TRY TO CONVINCE ME THAT THREE PAGES (instead of the minimum of four) WITH TWO INCH MARGINS FULFILLS THE REQUIREMENTS!!!  And DON'T try turning in a five page paper with a page and a half of text, two inch margins, and two blank pages before a couple of half-assed works cited entries for your research paper (which has a minimum of five pages of text and a good works cited page). 

Thank God I've got three weeks before the fall semester starts.  After this summer, I'm going to need it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Sam's Club is a working mom's best friend.

I love my Sam's Club.  My $40 membership (Advantage, not Advantage Plus) saves me $.02 per diaper--which adds up fast, when you've got two in them: we save something like $10-15 per month on diapers.  Same with Pull-Ups for the imp. 

Other advantages include insanely good meat prices, bread prices, and bulk dry goods prices.  Yeah, sometimes you're better off going with an off-brand, or a smaller size if you won't use the full quantity, but sometimes the name brand is enough better that it makes sense. 

One of the things that saves me a lot of time and effort is buying paper plates and bowls, plastic flatware, and the disposable aluminum warming pans aimed at restaurants (a pack of 30 cost about $10 or so, the last time we got them).  All minimize cleanup, and the pans are great to make a couple dozen casseroles at once for freezing to save time later. 

I just wish they carried minutes and hours one could buy--I never seem to have enough time.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


It's odd how different the pixie is from the imp. I mean, there're a lot of similarities—they are siblings, after all, and both have the same stay-at-home mother and devoted father—but just as many differences.

Both were born early—the pixie stayed put longer than the imp, but was still impatient—and both were able to hold their heads up and look around quite well, just days after they were born. Both took to nursing quickly and easily. Both are incredibly happy and secure babies. Both are strong kids, and sat, rolled over, and crawled early. The imp started army crawling (elbows and knees, with his belly close to, but not on, the floor) at five months, the pixie at six on both hands, one knee and one foot.

The imp started wanting to put down to play at about two and a half months (he's been home for a bit more than a month at that point). Then, a bit later, he wanted me to go away: he'd fuss until I put him in his crib to play, play for a little while, then start fussing again, looking from me to his bedroom door and back until I took the hint. When he was sleepy, he'd go to sleep for a nap—on his own. No fuss.

Despite having a worse case of acid reflux than the pixie, he started eating baby food (pears—he flat refused cereal of all types) at four months, transitioning to three full meals of baby food per day (about six ounces of food per meal—a jar of corn and a jar of lamb being a favorite meal) by about nine months.

The pixie, on the other hand, loves socializing. She's only started wanting down to play within the last month or so, and usually gets upset if there's no one in the room with her. She's seven and a half months old, and has only just now started to leave the room I'm sitting in to explore. She sits herself up and is cute at us (wrinkles her nose, grins, puppy pants, flaps her hands, and shakes her head at us) until we get down on the floor to play with her.

She won't take a bottle. She won't take a sippy cup. She won't eat much baby food—all I've found that she likes is sweet potatoes and prunes, and won't eat much of those, and can't seem to get the hang of using a spoon. She leans forward like she wants the bite, then sticks her tongue out and licks the spoon. She won't take the spoon in her mouth, and gags if I push the issue.

The most frustrating thing, though, is the sleep issue. I never have had many problems getting the imp to go down to sleep. Indeed, he has a self-imposed bedtime of about 8:00, and wakes about eleven and a half to twelve and a half hours later. He naps well at home, usually about an hour and a half to three hours. When he was the pixie's age, he slept 'till eight, went down at ten for an hour, 1:00 for two hours, then another nap at about 4-4:30 for another two hours. I know he slept a lot—he was eight weeks early, and was trying to catch up on growth (and he did—with a vengeance: he's over 40" tall, and won't be three years old 'til October).

The pixie hardly naps. I'm lucky if I can get her put down for a half an hour in the morning, and another half an hour in the afternoon. Bedtime is 9:30-11:30, and that's after an hour or two of fighting with her about going down. I'm hesitant to let her "cry it out" because that just seems cruel. She's a happy, happy baby on the sleep she gets, but mama's definitely not a happy camper. There have been times that I've been tempted to have an adult beverage before her last nurse before bed, just to see if she'll go to sleep easier and sooner. I haven't given in to that temptation, but it's there.

Worst of all, the whole battle of wills thing over sleep—the battle I'm currently losing—is making me shorter tempered with the pixie and the imp (though he does earn the scoldings, and/or time outs: his favorite things are chasing the cat, messing with Daddy's computer, poking things at the framed posters on the wall to watch them swing, and spit painting. Soaking his finger in spit, and flinging or wiping it onto the wall, crib, high chair tray, toys, doors, windows, chairs, etc., ad nauseum. ). The raised frustration level and raised scolding is making me feel like a total failure of a mother. Which only makes it worse.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A better fit I cannot imagine.

My beloved Odysseus, who had taken a year's sabbatical from working after a payday lending managerial position nearly swallowed his soul, has a job interview Saturday with a new gun store planning to open in the area.  He has a second interview coming up with a bank next Wednesday for the position of personal banker. 

Either would fit him quite well, where personality, qualifications, and skills are concerned.  The former, though, would pretty much require coming out of the gun closet to his parents (who, as far as we know, still don't have any idea that either of us have a concealed carry permit. 

Keep him in your thoughts and prayers. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

And it’s mind over (I don’t) matter…

I really need to go engage in some lead-based therapy. Some loud meditation. Poking little holes in paper at football field distances.

One of the best and worst things about the way my mind works is that I can have a flashback but keep functioning well enough that almost no one notices.

What I mean by that is that I almost always have four or five different trains of thought going on different topics at once. I rarely am able to quiet my thoughts and focus on just—one—thing. So, I can have a full flashback (smells, sounds, tactile sensations [makes my skin crawl, that one], tastes [sometimes a wonder I can eat anything], and sights) on one track, and still be functioning on the others. It's not quite split personalities—it's all me—but I imagine it's as close as someone marginally sane can get.

And I will admit it came in really handy in my college years. And it comes in very handy now when I'm grading papers for Comp I, Comp II, posts for American Literature, and trying to make sure the imp doesn't run over the pixie as she's crawling over the floor, or trying to figure out how to pull up. It does get tiring, though, not being able to focus on just one thing. There are very few things that can totally absorb me.

One of the few things that do take all of my focus is shooting. Another is something one shouldn't mention on Blogger without an adult warning.

I've been having flashbacks, recently. And there's very little I can do about it. I can drink a bit—a little dims the sensations, but too much throws me headlong into them. I can get out from under them if I can focus all of the trains of thought on just one thing. If I had good, reliable babysitting, I could take one of my bolt-action rifles to the range with about sixty rounds, and spend something like three hours loading the five rounds all my bolt-action rifles take, working the bolt, lining up the shot, steadying my breathing and paying attention to my heart rate, taking the shot, and walking down to the target to see where it landed.

(I really prefer my higher caliber rifles, but built the way I am, I'd wind up with a wet shirt while I'm nursing. As a friend recently remarked, I've got tits like Pamela Anderson. At under five feet in height. Yeah, not much room to shoulder a rifle without mammary tissue being involved.)

Unfortunately, the pixie, at seven months, is flat refusing a bottle, as well as most baby food. She seems to like sweet potatoes, but we can't tell if they cause her to have a bellyache or not. She's also, unfortunately, been unwilling to go to bed at her usual time (and never naps for more than half an hour during the day when put down) recently, making…something else…a bit more difficult to find time for.

Another thing that helps is diving into a good book. I've been reduced to that more than I'd like—I have papers to grade, and children to care for (and play with, and teach, and watch grow).

I can sometimes direct the flashbacks to…less bad times, but not always.

And talking never helps. Neither do any medications—those usually work exactly opposite of the way they're supposed to. I should know: when my mother regained physical custody of my sister and me (she never regained legal custody—the state kept that), we were remanded by court order into therapy. And we had about a dozen different drugs apiece tried on us.

The worst for me was Prozac. I still have lingering effects from that, twenty years after taking it for a month. My sister took it longer, and the effects are far more pronounced in her—a distinct inability to control emotions and impulses.

Sometimes I wonder if, perhaps, I wasn't a borderline sociopath before the attempts to "fix" what my male genetic donor broke.

Sometimes I wonder what I'd be if I hadn't had some odds and ends of weirdness in my psyche to fix myself as best I could. And sometimes I wonder what I'd be if the "professionals" had managed with me what they manage with so few.

And sometimes, I wish I could just get all the way past this. I wish I could see the point in forgiveness of sins against me, but as the song says, I'm not Jesus.

Sorry this is rambling, everyone. I'm a little tired, and more than a little down.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

One skillet fajitas

~1 lb meat (4-5 chicken tenders, 2 breasts or thighs; pork stew meat; beef stew meat)
2 cans Ro-Tel
1 can corn
1 c minute rice (brown or white--your choice)

Brown the meat (chop up the chicken into bite sized pieces, if using chicken), add the rice, Ro-Tel, and corn.  Simmer until rice is done.  Should take about 30 minutes total, serves two with leftovers.  Serve with warmed tortillas, tortilla chips, or baked potato; cheese; and/or sour cream. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Note to self:

Never again buy colored bubble solution.  The imp hates the mess, and will not blow the bubbles. 

And oh, boy is there ever a mess!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

An argument for marrying your best friend.

Odysseus and I celebrated our seventh anniversary, yesterday. We have been near-inseparable for the past thirteen years. He's been my best friend almost from the moment we met. I've been his for just about as long.

His parents have been married for over thirty years--another pair of best friends.

I got very lucky. I didn't have a good example of a lasting, happy marriage to learn from as I grew up. My own parents separated at five and a half years of marriage (thank God), and divorced at seven years. My maternal grandfather passed away six months after I was born (and I can't imagine anyone married to my late grandmother could possibly be happy), and my paternal grandparents didn't have a happy marriage, even if it was a "'til death do us part" one.

My Odysseus and I have been through small business ownership, a long distance relationship, long periods of unemployment, graduate school, and two pregnancies (one difficult pregnancy followed by mild ppd, one difficult period of our premature child spending more than a month in the hospital). We've had disagreements, and both have had to compromise preferences on things we really wanted.

Everything has just strengthened our marriage. We talk through the big things, and usually little things just sort themselves out.

I cannot imagine what my life would have been like without him.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A good day.

I got all my grading caught up, and Odysseus got to go shooting with some family friends.

Eventually, I'll have had enough practice to be willing to post a range report about my Spartan with pictures. Right now, my targets just embarrass the gun (though, all rounds do stay within the chest area on a silhouette target--which is why it's my current concealed carry piece).

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I want a professional, not a social worker.

Our imp isn't talking. It's not just "he doesn't talk much" but more like "at all." Oh, he says a few things, but he's not nearly where he should be for how old he is.

So, we did what any responsible parents would, and took him to a speech therapist to get an assessment. The therapist was a part of the still-standing outstanding hospital system in Joplin, and was very good. She noticed a few things about him, and says he definitely needs speech therapy.

Then, she made the mistake that makes me doubt her abilities and professionalism: she recommended the state-funded programs. The ones that send a therapist to your home to help with your under-three.

Thank you, no. I will not have a social worker in my home. I'd really rather not have one attempting speech therapy with my son, or any type of therapy. If my son is doing speech therapy, he's doing it with a real speech therapist that has a degree in it, and has done that and only that for his/her career. I will not permit someone with a degree in social work with a few credit hours in language acquisition to provide "therapy" to my son that may or may not help him learn to talk.

I'm more than capable of doing the research and learning enough to do that much. We neither need nor want government involvement in our family.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It's taken me this long to figure out how to even start.

Last Sunday, we had a guest minister at our church. Our church was not in the path of the tornado that hit us May 22; however, several churches were. A couple have shifted their congregations into older buildings that belong to the same denomination, but we offered to share ours with a couple of other churches.

Well, we have our services at 8:00 and 10:30. We're usually done, and most of us are even out of the fellowship hall well before 1:00, when the church that took us up on our offer has their service.

Last Sunday, our service went way short. We were out before 11:30, despite having our usual mid-service meet and greet, and communion. I was a little surprised--our usual rector, though prompt, usually gets us all taken care of and out of the service at around noon.

Then I heard a couple of ladies from our congregation--part of our vestry, I think--talking about why: the minister that was coming in at 1:00 made a point to come in and demand that we be out before his congregation came in.

Excuse me? Dude: not your church building. You are our guests. Be gracious. Don't bully our clergy, or our guest clergy.

I hope that, when you get your church rebuilt, it catches fire. I have no doubt that you're going to be spanked for your behavior--God's a better parent than I, and I don't permit my kids to throw tantrums, nor will I permit them to bully others.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Argh. Papers. Students. Comp teachers other than me.

I have a bunch of people to hunt down and beat with the papers of their students. One of them is at least one, if not two, of my colleagues in the college where I work.

I have a class that started at 25, and has shrunk to 15 or so. Out of that class, I have 15 different levels of competence in writing. Most of the class is white females, but I have one male, about 19 years old, still turning in work at midterm. I have one Vietnamese girl, one from India, and one black girl from the inner cities.

My writer who was born in India speaks three languages: the local language from where she was born, Hindi (the state language), and English (learned in '03, when she and her family immigrated to the US). She's got some odd sentence structure and word-level idiosyncrasies, but she's still a far better writer than most of the class, almost all of whom are native speakers and writers in English.

One of the worst writers, but with the most potential, is the black girl. She went from doing next to nothing right on her first paper's first draft (it was double-spaced, at least) to earning an A on that paper's revisions. And it was her work--the turn of phrase was the same, and so was the thought processes her writing showed. It was just totally reorganized and expanded from one paragraph in a rambling mess into a movie review. All it took was basically outlining what she'd said in her paragraph for her. She did the work to rewrite the paper from disorganized, unfocused, underdeveloped mess to not just readable, but good.

Her second paper was eminently readable and well developed and organized, with just a bit needed to be done to fix some small problems with focus on her topic. It was single-spaced, but still quite good--a complete contrast to her first draft of her first paper. Again, still her work.

She told me that no one had ever explained to her, point by point, what went into a successful paper before. I'm guessing she never had a teacher who was a competent writer--it seems to be rarer all the time--and may not have had a teacher who was competent in anything.

She's obviously smart. There's no other way she could go from six pages of nothing to four pages of well developed, focused, and organized essay.

What I don't understand is that she passed Comp I with this kind of deficit. I understand that her public school not just dis-served but mis-served her in ways that aren't forgivable. It's the public schools in the inner city--I expect nothing different (though I wish to heaven it was). I want to know who taught her Freshman Composition I. I want to beat the thunder out of them with the two drafts of her paper and scream at them for not teaching this child how to write a paper. All I should be doing at this point is teaching her how to write a persuasive piece, and polishing the gem that she is.

This child isn't a nigger. The people who either didn't teach her, or who taught her wrong, are--no matter what their pigmentation. I suspect they're also racists, and held her to a lower standard than what they held their other students to.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Another reason my husband and I both carry.

Today, I had lunch with a friend--just me, her, and my pixie. Odysseus took the imp off for some guy time and fast food fries (huge treat for the boy, since he doesn't get them often).

Lunch for me was terrific. Lunch for the guys went well, too, according to Odysseus.

And then they went to leave. And someone brushed against his gun trying to squeeze past him. Of course, Odysseus moved first to secure said firearm, then to identify who'd brushed against him to assess threat level.

The moron in question was a deputy sheriff that was wider than he was tall, gabbing to a partner with no situational awareness, and who Odysseus saw texting away on his cell phone as he left the parking lot.

Yeah, to serve (cake) and protect (his own privileges). I don't trust him, or those like him, to do their damn jobs and stand between the sheep who they're supposed to support and protect and the wolves that would do them harm. And that's assuming that, beyond being unwilling to move their fat ass for anything but a donut, they wouldn't be the wolves themselves.

Then again, I have issues with the legal system anyway.

Linked story courtesy of my beloved.