Elliot turns three on Wednesday but we celebrated today!

Rusty was able to snag a great deal on a huge inflatable bounce house. That was the highlight of the party. Elliot was very excited to have the bounce house and friends over to play. The homemade cake was delicious and darn-near devoured. We opened some present after cake per a departing Grandma, then another at the end of the party then most of the rest after bath time. His favorite gift so far: posable Wall-E!

Elliot has become such a delightful lil' dude. He's very articulate, very observant, caring and easy to be with. He has opinions he's willing to share as well as his suckers. He's now learning to test boundaries and establish his independence. Sometimes he'll get this adorable mischievous look that says "I know you don't like this but I'm doing to do it anyway with a smile". He defends against his brother yet plays well with his friends. Our charming guy is a blessing to be around and I am so glad I get to watch him grow up!

We now own a dog. As of 10am this morning. Meet Duggan:

Duggan ran away from home a few days ago and wound up on a neighbor's doorstep. She posted signs in our neighborhood advertising that this dog was found, and emails circulated. No one came forward. That neighbor had 2 dogs already and they weren't compatible so the dog was passed to another neighbor. But it turns out the wife was allergic. We then took the dog for the day to relieve the neighbor with allergies. The idea was that we'd hold him until the owners were found.

The boys liked this dog right away. Merlin wasted no time in establishing who's boss of the house (obviously the cat). We originally called him Max because that was the name used by the previous two neighbors. I was more or less on the fence and was quickly outvoted when Rusty warmed to him within minutes. Rusty lit up to have a dog who would sit on command (he sometimes does) and who would follow him around. We went on two walks which were actually vigorous runs. We also invested in chew toys and a couple bones. Then just before dinner, the inevitable happened.

Joshua opened the front door and the dog sprinted out!

He was out like a bullet! I followed him cautiously so as to not encourage a game of chase, but the dog sprinted around an alley corner then was gone from sight. I waited a minute listening and waiting to hear or see something, a clue of where the dog had gone. Just when I was about to give up, I saw him loop behind someone's house. I sprinted up to find he had been put into an oversized dog cage with two other dogs and young couple calling him"Duggan". I approached asking if this was their dog, which was a silly question because they had a name and acted like they knew him but I didn't know how else to start the conversation. Next time I'll say something more intelligent. Anyway, they said he got loose a few days ago which matched the timing of how long he has spent with our neighbors.

Turns out, he's a purebred Brittany, a type of French Spaniel. He's very quiet but very active. We haven't heard him bark at all yet. He's 8 years old and has a son. He's been on hunting trips but apparently he's the lazy one who, after an hour, waits in the truck for the others to return. He's been an outside dog but he also really likes to be inside and is generally well behaved.

Now that the owners had him back, I almost said good-bye and left it at that. But I didn't. I infomed them that he had been well cared for by three homes, and was currently very entertaining to our sons. An older woman came out (the mother of one of the young couple) and said if we wanted to adopt him that we could. I was cautious not to be trapped as it seemed almost too good to be true but this legitimately good dog was indeed in need of a home that could give him more. His current home has about 6 dogs and no one was avilable to take them on walks. He had been around kids in the past but now the kids were all grown up an moved out. So the woman said we could keep him. Just like that. I returned with the family less than hour later to thank them and ask a few more questions, like who was his vet.

And that's how we ended up with Duggan, who also goes by Max.

Joshua got five days of smileys from his teacher this past week. That was a huge improvement from 4 weeks of getting in trouble.

Elliot refuses to be potty trained. He has no interest in it all. Even with colorful character undies, he's just not interested in going to the potty. I have a feeling if he was interested he would catch on quickly. Even bribery doesn't appeal. :-/

Now that it's October I'm anxious to decorate the house.

Brief update: Joshua went to an ADHD specialist on Monday to re-evaluate her original assessment of where he is within the definition of normal and what our options where in regards to medicine. We had stepped up Intuniv by this point. She prescribed a very low dosage of Ritalin. He's taking 1/4 of the dosage available for his size. In other words, we're starting on a very small a dosage to see some improvement on focus, attention and impulsiveness.

To offer positive re-enforcement, we're giving him a new silly band everyday he comes home with a "smiley" from his teacher. If he gets remarks about bad behavior like hitting or being disruptive then he has to talk to us about it and he gets no reward.

Per Donna Bateman's advice, we are also further cutting the sugar intake and switching to gluten-free products such as breads, pasta, cereal, soup, etc. Hunt's ketchup does not have gluten as a thickening agent and they offer a corn syrup free recipe- even better!! No more juices either. It's water and milk in our house. Luckily the boys LOVE soymilk and almond milk so we mix that in with cow's milk and they like that better than juice anyway.

Today: he got a smiley from his teacher and a silly band from his dad. :-)

Joshua is in trouble at school, thus at home this weekend too. He's been in trouble twice this week for the same problems he had in preschool. He's hit, kicked, punched and now poked with a pencil. Part of the reason is his impulsiveness. Sometimes he acts without thinking, as in his body moves before his brain can filter what his actions should be. Other times, like the kick and punch incident, he's defending himself with hurtful actions instead of walking away or using his words. I feel like we're regressed to 2 years old ago: "use your words."

He's been to the principle twice now. We're stepping up our game by making some small changes in the home, small changes to routine, having a zero tolerance for some actions such as hurtful actions, not listening, whining, and back-talk. And we're going to talk to an ADHD specialist about medication to improve better blood flow to his brain so he can focus and calm down. I'm also going to look into reflexology techniques.

I already told him he would lose Halloween trick-or-treating if he got into trouble again. Unfortunately for him, I said that this morning before he went to school- before he got into trouble a second time. As it stands, he won't be dressing up nor collecting candy.

Joshua now wears glasses! He picked out his own frames several weeks ago. He hasn't gotten the idea that glasses are sort of a "always" thing. We're still talking about when to wear them and when to take the off. He had the impression he could wear then when he felt like it, like a toy item. Little does he know he may have shortsighted vision for the rest of is life until he gets them zapped by a LASIK surgeon like me. :-D

It was a busy week last week! Last week Friday we planned to leave town for Lubbock to visit my mom for the weekend. To be random, we kept Elliot at home with us for the day. I really enjoyed my lil' dude's company! He was a charm and a helper, and he was so happy to have the attention of both parents without a competing big brother.

After a good breakfast, our first order of business was a vet appointment for Samson. He was out all day Thursday which wouldn't be a big deal for a normal, even somewhat healthy cat. But this was the tipping point for Samson. He was again emaciated, dehydrated, and lethargic. I was worried we would need to put him to sleep if he didn't perk up by Friday. Alas, he was not showing signs of improving. His kidneys just weren't keeping up and previous attempts to save him with medication and liquid injections weren't having a impact. We said our teary good-byes and left him at the vet to be put to sleep.

Life had to go on for us. We packed up and cleaned up, ran errands and filled up the car. When school was out, we got Josh then hit the road. An hour later in traffic, we left the DFW metroplex on 380 towards Lubbock.

- - -

My mom is well. She's now in a rented home across from another cop. Her dog Lance is about the size of a pony. He was thrilled to have the boys around even though he's an old dog who can't fetch as much as he used to. We took the boys to a few local favorites: Maxey Park, Science Spectrum, Joyland.

Joyland is an amusement park in the north-eastern side of town. It isn't Six Flags, but it's fun enough for bored tweens and young kids. Joshua rode his first adult size roller coaster- and LOVED it! Elliot rode the huge swinging rocket and freaked out the first time but then decided to ride again and was totally cool with it the second time. Joshua's other favorite ride was the spider. Elliot loved his toddler sized roller coaster and the merry-go-round. And both were equally disappointed in the train ride. We came home to filthy boys who talked non-stop about the rides. The next evening was spent with Raymond and a couple of his friends. That was an interesting night too.

Both boys had minor medical issue on the trip: Elliot had hives, Joshua got diarrhea. Bt these setbacks didn't ruin the trip. This week both boys have requested, loudly, to go see Grandma Cindy again. I've explained that we need a fast airplane and more long weekends. I'm glad we all had a great time.

- - -

Yesterday we buried Samson's ashes in the yard behind the kids' playset. I found a sleeping lion statuette as a marker. Joshua participated in the memorial by placing the box in the ground and adding one of his cat toys on top of the box. While the dirt was being filled in, he finally cried. He hugged me and talked about how he'll miss Samson. It was closure we needed as well as practice about memorials for when loved ones die. Merlin is healthy but entering his elderly cat stage. He's now about 16 years old or so. When his time comes, he has a spot right next to his best friend Samson. Hopefully that won't be for a few more years to come.

Joshua loved his first day of kindergarten.

For Josh's first day, he woke up before the alarm, got fully dressed and wanted to go before it was even 7am. We explained that it was too early and he needed to wait. After I took Elliot to dayschool as usual, Rusty and I walked with Josh to school. The closer we got, the faster he walked until he sprinted ahead. When the doors opened, he was the very first kid to walk down the kindergarten hallway near the entrance. I was doing great until he gave me a good-bye hug and a kiss. Then I got teary and had to walk out quickly. We eventually found other parents gathered in the library chatting, eating doughnut holes, and drinking OJ and coffee. Most of the parents were neighbors. After all that, Rusty & I walked home together.

Joshua was so excited at the end of the day, he wore his backpack at home until we convinced him to take it off for dinner.

In other news, we decided that we're not ready to give up on Samson yet. Instead we're going to wait a couple of weeks to give him more time to either naturally recover, or further degrade before we put him down. He's showing signs of betterment although he's not healthy. Below is Samson enjoying some canned chicken.

Supplies- check!
Backpack- check!
Haircut- check!
New shoes- check!
Eagerness to start- double check!!

Yes, Joshua has been looking forward to starting kindergarten since May. We met his teacher and checked out the room on Friday. His best-friend Dylan will also be in his room and they will share a locker together. Luckily, thy won't be at the same table otherwise they would no-doubt be constantly distracted. His teacher is young but not fresh-out-of-college so I'm assured he'll get a good start.

So here's the morning drill: get up and dressed asap, take Elliot to dayschool as normal, rush back then walk with Josh (and Rusty) to school. Get him in the class, say our good-byes then head to the school cafeteria for coffee, donuts and commiseration with other parents. Walk home with Rusty and enjoy the rest of the day to its fullest. When school lets out we'll meet him at the playground and walk home together. Rusty intends to walk with Josh for the first couple of weeks, at least in the mornings.

I remember walking to school for kindergarten. I believe this is where my love of walking started. I remember passing the around-the-corner neighbor's house with labeled plants, the old lady's house that had a garden of flowers and cotton, the house with a ton of trees in the front yard, the shops at the intersection one block from school, and the huge trees that lined the school yard. I remember playing in front of the house before the school opened, running down a hill after school (and getting in trouble for doing it), for following a group of kids trying to friend them despite their disinterest in hooking up with a pee-wee of a kindergartner. I remember fresh cool air, racing to see if I was faster than the other day, and daring to turn one street early and cutting over on another street. I don't know what adventures Joshua will have on his walks. But I'm glad he'll have the same walking-to-school types of memories as I had. Hopefully these will shape him in some positive way.

Taken last week during a brief rain.

I was doing great today until I returned a call from the vet's office.

Three weeks ago near end of July I realized Samson was missing. He normally sleeps with us at night and follows me to the bathroom in the morning. But on July 29th I realized he had been missing. For at least a day. I didn't think too much of it. "He's probably been outside all night." I told Rusty to keep an eye out as I left for work. Later, Rusty called to say he found Samson in the house. In Rusty style, he bathed our cats (He had planned to do it anyway) and realized something was really wrong. Samson was lethargic, complacent and lanky. His kitty eyes were sunken in. He was bone thin. He was so weak he couldn't walk more than a few steps. He had found a quiet corner in the house to lie quietly and die.

Well, until Rusty found him and bathed him in the kitchen sink.

The next day we (eh, Rusty) took him to the vet. Samson's organs were shutting down. His kidney was shrunk, his pancreas smaller, body temp was cold, he was anemic, and dehydrated. He hadn't eaten or drank in probably days. He was put on pain kilers, antibiotics, electrolytes, an IV and monitored for two days. He seemed to be doing ok. We cared for him at home giving him medicine daily.

Until the second blood work reported that all the treatments- medication, electrolytes, IV- weren't showing any real improvement. His kidneys aren't responding, he's still anemic, his red blood cell count is low, and he's still not gaining weight. He's basically one illness away from death. He can't get up onto a chair, he has to be picked up. He can go up and down the stairs but not quickly.

After this prognosis, the vet and I agreed he was never going to fully recover. We don't know exactly what has caused all this. Poisoned plant? Cancer? Rather than subject him to unpleasant medication for the rest of his life and constant vet bills, rather than spending his days under daily care and close supervision, rather than have him in pain and limited in his abilities, it's better to just say good-bye.

So on Tuesday morning, we'll take him to the vet one last time.

What to do with the remains is undecided. Part of me wants to let the kids bury him as a rite of passage in facing death. But then again, maybe that will be more complicated than I'm prepared to take on.

Slices of Life

Josh: I can jump-rope. Watch this. -he tries a few times getting his rope caught on his feet-
Girl (about 8 years old): Can I try it? -girl jump-ropes fast, then on one foot, then cross arm, then skipping, then dancing, then backwards, then 2 rotations with one jump-
Josh: Wow. I can run really fast. Watch this. -runs off to playground-

Elliot: Mom! Mom! Mom! I can turn off the bathroom light!
Me: Really?? Show me how you do this. (I'm genuinely baffled)
Elliot: Ok! -stands on toilet seat then reaches over to switch off the light- See?
Me: You are so smart to figure that out!
Elliot: Yeah!

Elliot: -ignores brother-
Elliot: -ignores brother-
Josh: Mom! Elliot won't do what I tell him to do!
Me: Work it out. Better yet, do something without your brother.
Elliot: I want to be with Josh.

Me: Are you my big boy?
grumpy Elliot: No. Yes I am!

We got a bike!

All evening I've been thinking about Pink Floyd:

I've got a bike
You can ride it if you like
It's got a basket
A bell that rings
And things to make it look good
I'd give it to you if I could
But I borrowed it

Today we finished assembly, test rode it, tweaked & tightened stuff and now we're anxious to give it another go. We found it online for a great price: under $350 including shipping & tax. It folds too. That will allow us to transport and hang it in the garage. Of course now we need to buy a few accessories like a bike rack for the car and a child bike tow bar.

And now we need to get rid of Rusty's old bike that he's held on to forever.

It's my night to read to the boy's for bedtime. I'll be sure to sing this song:

Daisy, Daisy,
Give me your answer do!
I'm half crazy,
All for the love of you!
It won't be a fancy marriage,
I can't afford a carriage
But you'll look sweet upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two!

Yeah ok, so it’s been 77 days since my last post. I’m not sure why exactly I lagged in posts other than just being busy and not making my blog a priority. I intended to post shortly following significant events. So here’s what’s happened since May 8:

New play set – We splurged on a new play set in May. It happened to be put up a week before Joshua’s birthday thus he thought it was a present for him. No. It’s to replace the play set that came with the house that was in disrepair. The old set was carefully taken down and donated to a friend who has plenty of room in her backyard and a handy-hubby committed to replacing certain parts.

Joshua’s 5th birthday – He had a great party at Cinemark in Plano. They now have party rooms. I managed to invite 19 kids in less than 24 hours to watch Shrek 4 then have pizza & cake in the party room. The original plan was to have a grill party in the backyard. But we got a downpour the day prior that flooded one area of our yard. We had standing water for two days. (The flooding problem has since been corrected by installing a French drain.) Our gifts to him were a few t-shirts, some books and an insect catching kit.

Rusty's belated birthday present - I commissioned a painting for Rusty's birthday. It finally was finished and arrived early June. Wendy Hudman did a wonderful job! I told her to make something with music, science, colors from our piano room & office, and birds.

Mother’s Day – This year was low key. We went out for breakfast at The Egg & I in Addison. I don't remember much about that day now. I guess nothing significant happened. I mailed my mom’s gifts on time. She got a couple books (a new Dexter book and Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy's New Killing Fields by Charles Bowden) and a shirt from Threadless.com with an owl in a tree sitting next to a cat with a sniper rifle and night-vision goggles. Awesome.

Father’s Day – I took the boys to- a place, shall we say- to get large wind chimes for Rusty’s Father’s Day gift. Although the boys were helpful in testing out the chimes (all of them!) they stressed me out in a store of breakables. I believe we had steak for dinner that night. A typical “Dad” dinner. I remember now that I didn’t think of my own dad at all that day.

Corpus Christi & Galveston vacation – Late June we took a mini vacation to visit my grandma Carlean in Corpus Christi. The purpose of the trip was to finally see the new grave marker I had ordered. But the cemetery let me down once again. They had received the marker but failed to tell me I would have to wait 15 days for the stone to be set. I would also not be able to view the marker myself. They were supposed to call me when the stone was finally set. It’s been a month and those bastards haven’t called me. I hate them. After that disappointment, we drove through Bay City, TX to see some of the old neighborhoods I lived in as a kid. It was much as I remembered but 25 years older. An old house that was once by a trailer home I lived in was gone. I guess they razed it. But the trailer was still there. The neat green house I lived in on 4th Street had motorcycles in the yard and a fence around the property. The neighbor’s on one side had junk on the porch and their own fence. When I was a kid there were no fences.

We took a scenic route to Galveston then stayed with my good friend Stephanie Rhoades and her family. The kids got along like kids and loved each others company. We spent most of one day at the Johnson Space Center near NASA. I highly recommend it for all ages.

Identity theft – On our last day in Galveston Rusty got a call from Bank of America confirming that we requested a new debit card be sent to our new address in Georgia. Wha?!? Apparently someone had stolen my identity (no, I don’t know how) so extensively they called the bank, passed all the security questions, changed our address to some place in Georgia then proceeded to request replacement cards. Luckily we stopped that nonsense before the replacement cards arrived. A week or so later they managed to get into our joint credit card and spend a few thousand bucks on car stuff and order from some catalog. I’ve since locked my credit, reported to the police, changed all my passwords, cancel cards and even reformatted my hard drive in case it had a spybot. I don’t have a credit card in my name and don’t intend on having one for a while until this seems to be behind us.

Matt Peck got married - Our good friend Matt Peck got married. It was a very traditional wedding with a reception at a golf course clubhouse. After they drove off in their limo we invited all our friends to our place to talk about the event and reconnect. In the beginning of the day we were not expecting company but somehow managed to clean up, provide snacks and have plenty of beverages for everyone. The after-party was way more fun than the wedding. :-)

July 4th
- We saw fireworks. It was awesome as usual. Joshua was in a patriot music medley at school.

11 year anniversary – We celebrated our anniversary by going out to the Melting Pot (yum!) and stopping by The Flying Saucer where we happen to see Matt Peck and his new wife.

Getting ready for kindergarten – Joshua is ready to start kindergarten in late August. I think the big day is August 23rd. I plan to take that day off work. I expect to be a bit teary eyed. I’d like to walk him to school, walk in with him, see him settle in, then cry my butt off as I walk back home. I’m excited that he’s starting “big school” for a number of reasons. I hope Elliot does well with the transition. He’ll still be going to Glen Hollow dayschool but without his brother.

Today – Today is a typical Saturday. We got stuff done: laundry, cleaned some rugs, dishes, replaced batteries, played at a pocket park, etc. I expect tomorrow to be much of the same if maybe one small adventure like the science museum or Dallas farmer’s market. There’s no telling yet what we’ll do!

I haven't mentioned much about Elliot. He's very well. He's talking like a 3 year old already, tripping less, and still following and copying his brother at every turn. We're about to start potty training him. Wish me luck!

Today was a good, busy day! We were part of a surprise party for Hannah then after a short pit stop at home, I was out again this time carting Joshua to another birthday party for friend Mika. Sadly, on the way out of the second birthday he stumbled on some stairs scrapping a knee and ankle. Luckily he didn't tumble much worse than he did.

I somehow found time to do some birthday shopping online for Joshua this morning. I found a couple books (about volcanoes and storms, his current obsessions), a Spider-Man t-shirt, and a bug catching kit. Sometime very very soon I need to finalize birthday plans. I still haven't worked out the date or festivities. I also want to get him his new bed by his birthday. He's outgrown his daybed by length. It's the same mattress he slept on as an infant, though now it's sagging in the middle from years of sleeping on it. I remember trying to image how he'd look in later years filling up the bed space. Now I struggle to remember how tiny he was back then! He does not need crayons or markers or paint. He's overly stocked on art supplies and rarely requests to use them anyway. I almost got him a string of multi-colored lights for his 3' Christmas tree in his room. I'm afraid that will have to wait though since I don't know where to find a string of lights this time of year.

We're also waiting for 2 replacement parts before we can build the new play set in the backyard. Unfortunately the slide arrived with large scratches and one beam had a disconcerting crack. Once those are in, we'll get it built, hopefully in time for Joshua's birthday.

Tomorrow is Mother's Day and I don't know what the day will be like yet. I know the morning: drive in-laws to airport. Then we'll look for brunch somewhere, maybe some place where I can eat for free. :-) Beyond that, the day is open for whatever. Perhaps I'll get my feet worked on, or do some much needed shoe shopping.

Today we did Spring like things. We planted two flats of flowers from the Farmer's Market, refilled the bird feeder, let Elliot & Josh splash in puddles with their rain boots, watched bees fly around the flowers and at the end of the day we played with the stomp rocket at a pocket park letting the gusty winds carry the foam rockets high up.

One of Joshua's bottom teeth came out today! It's his first tooth to come out on its own. The first tooth he lost was due to a dentist who spotted an abscess root after he cracked a neighboring tooth from a fall in the bathroom. He first discovered this loose tooth on Wednesday or Thursday and by this morning it was hanging out practically horizontal when he pushed on it. Rusty made a quick run to the bank for a few gold dollar coins. I'll put one under his pillow tonight.

I almost bought Rusty a really cool expensive birthday present. I was on the phone about to give my credit card number when a very quiet thought suggested he might not think it's all that. It's completely out of character for me to talk about or show a gift prior to the giving, but I made a rare exception this time. We drove to the store, the sales person showed him a picture, they talked, Rusty asked a lot of the same questions I had asked, then we left for him to ponder things over. After a day of thinking, he decided it wasn't all that. So instead of a high-key birthday, we'll settle instead on a low-key birthday. I'll try to get out work around lunch time so we can catch a movie or do some disc golfing or do something fun and special together.

And on the topic of gifts, I have Mother's Day taken care and am just waiting to mail it out. Which is also unusual. I'm rarely this ahead of schedule when it comes to mailing stuff.

The black shirt pictures are from Easter before we dyed eggs.

Today was a most excellent day. I've got my work caught up at work, Easter plans are coming together, and the new car is totally awesome. That's right new beautiful shiny fast Brabus Mercedes McLaren SLR Roadster with it's cushy red interior, front spoiler and V8 compressor. It goes deliriously fast and has super-awesome doors that open upward, not out. We had been talking about a new car for the fun of it and this week we decided we finally could afford it and really wanted it. So what of my Mazda? It's parked in the front now, exposed to the harsh elements and dangers of street life while our new beau is making everything in our garage look blah. This car is no kids allowed so we'll only drive it on dates and special occasions. And now we're back to being broke but hey- we can drive fast!

Our patio is finally refinished- yay! I thought the guy would never finish. Due to bad weather that project has dragged on for weeks. The contractor was real pleasant to work with though. He offered, half-jokingly, to watch our kids last week so today we decided to take him up on his offer. He's working on some ladies gutters and a neighbor's kitchen tile tomorrow then he'll come by to watch our kiddos while we catch a movie. I feel real confident he'll do a good job. I haven't met him much beyond a few hellos and updates about our patio, but I figure his dad-like instincts will kick in. He doesn't have kids or even a girlfriend so he's not constrained to a schedule. I thought about doing a background check and asking for referrals, but I'm worried that will seem rude so I'm just going with good vibes.

Last bit of insight: I read on the internet recently about alternative fertilizers in an attempt to save a bit of cash and be more eco-friendly. I read that human excrement brewed with food (like the stuff you'd put into your compost) is actually extremely nutritious for the plants. I've requested HOA approval to use this method of fertilization on our yard. The first test batch I brewed did smell pretty bad but it also left a noticeably greener patch of grass. It also attracts insects which help aerate the ground and provides a habitat for them. The first I brewed contained a week's worth of pee, several bowel movements from all of us, and about 3 pounds of food waste. You brew it in a large pot, cool it, then spread it evenly. I totally recommend it!

An excerpt from an email from me to a mom friend asking how I've been doing lately:

I've been very well. I really enjoy my job right now, enjoy my time at home w/ kiddos, and love this Spring weather. I am working full time now and work is keeping me very busy but in a good way. Other than that, not much new to report. Oh, we are talking about buying a new play set for the backyard this spring. THAT will be exciting. We can finally afford to upgrade. How are *you*? And how is Jensen? Is he a big talker these days? Elliot is doing good going to day school at Glen Hollow 5 days a week. He enjoys it and comes home hungry and with stories about his day like "Sophia took my crayon" and "Jayden pushed me into the trash and I laughed" and "I heard the lightening and the thunder BOOM! at the school!" And Elliot's got a HUGE obsession with Wall-E. I swear we've watched that movie 2 dozen times!

In other news, Joshua recently went to the pulmonologist for a check up. He's doing fine with his asthma. He weighs 44 pounds and is 44¾ inches tall. I've started buying 5T shirts and shorts or size 5/6 depending on the brand. He also got new shoes recently, kids 11. Joshua is growing like a beanstalk! I asked him the other day what color car he wants to drive when he grows and he said "Orange with stripes of color so everyone will know my car."

Gotta love his creativity!

One month after Josh left karate I have to report he has improved remarkably! It could be a number of other influences, but the timing is uncanny. Here's what got better:

He's doing school work- 2-4 pages of writing letters/numbers each day
He's helping more at home with less complaint
He's having fewer "accidents"
He's less punchy

Now, we did have a stern word or two around the time he was taken out of karate. Perhaps it was the impact of our schpiel and being removed from karate that sunk in.

Now, we have introduced some new brain exercises to promote further development. By the advice of Donna Bateman (a development brain specialist who also raised 8 kids) we're now having him crawl around, smell things, listen for the location of sounds, and occasionally stimulating his fight-or-flight response. All of these are supposed to stimulate areas of his brain that are slightly lagging behind such as the mid-brain, pons and amygdala. She has a program that involves lots of stimulation each day but honesty we only have/make time for some. I figure some is still better than none.

Speaking of time (which I'm almost out of because the kids' bedtime is quickly approaching) I am now working full time at work and still enjoying it. My pay increased, I got benefits and I got new responsibilities. The drawback of course is I'm home less than before. Rusty is now Mr. Homemaker as well as his more-than-full-time job at Bank of America. He cooks, cleans, makes dinner and still manages a day of packed with conference calls and other tasks. He is super awesome and I don't tell him often enough. (But I did today via text message.)

This week marks the end of a karate era for our home. For nine months our four year old Joshua has been taking karate classes at a local studio learning how to punch, kick, stand at attention, defend against teachers with cushions and yell "ai-ya!" He hated going half the time but once he was lined up he got into it and did fairly well. He competed winning a trophy and a medal and earned several belts getting as high as orange. But then a conversation with his day school teacher alerted us to bad behaviors. One day when picking him up, his friend was crying holding his mouth. Apparently Joshua had just punched his friend in the mouth. Surprised, I put him into time-out right there on the playground with all friends and a teacher watching. He pleaded to just go home but I stood my ground that his behavior was unacceptable and would not be ignored. We talked about what he did, reminded him how bad that was and told him if he hit anyone again we would stop going to karate.

Two weeks later his teacher told us he had punched a kid in the stomach. Karate was over.

For selfish reasons I'm glad karate is over because I was getting tired of taking him two times a week. It forced me to leave work early and made us fret over whether one day was gloves day or not. That's me whining. The real reason I'm glad karate is over is because I don't want him to learn conflict resolution by punching or kicking. I want him to use his words or even walk away from stressful moments, not lash out like a two year old. And for a child that, I am convinced, is practically ADHD with poor impulse control, karate wasn't a good match.

I'm not sure what the next class will be. Swimming is in early summer but for only two weeks. Maybe Spanish or dance or science depending on his interest in these topics. Whatever it is, I don't support punching and kicking until he's more mature.

Josh: Hey guess what mom- a hundred cameras and a hundred lights makes you blue.
Me: *snicker* No, lights and cameras don't make you blue, but computers can make your picture blue.

The blue people conversation was prompted by a news blurb about Avatar. We saw the movie (it was really fantastic) and have decided Josh is too young for it now. Harsh language aside, it has more violence than a 4 year old needs. I'm thinking he'll be mature enough when he's in his teens, like 13 or 14. Which is- wow -10 years from now!

Talk about time flying! Tens years ago...

I was newly married.
I was a student at UNT.
I worked at Homewood Suites Hotel.
I drove a Ford Taurus.
Rusty worked at Verio.
We lived in a small apartment.

I have no idea what's in store for the next ten years. In ten years Josh will be 14 and Elliot will be twelve. Josh might be dating or at least interested in girls. Elliot will no longer be free at most "kids eat free" places. Rusty & I will both be earning more (God willing) but will probably be spending and saving more too. Some of our furnishings will be upgraded. Hell, we may be in a different home! I feel secure that our family will be in tact and my kids won't totally hate me. Hopefully that much of the future comes true.

I am loving my job more than I thought I would. I actually look forward to work. I enjoy the challenges, I enjoy the people I work with, I enjoy the newness of the company and, most of all, I enjoy that I actually do well without being bored. I didn't expect to stay this long nor to care about it this much when I first applied. I was expecting this to be traditional sales support role that involved running errands, ordering supplies, printing, filing, etc. This job falsely advertised its position. It's NOT sales support in the traditional sense. Which is probably why I enjoy it so much. So what on Earth do I do, you ask?

I work for Forex Capital Markets, a small growing firm that helps clients trade currencies. Instead of trading stocks forex traders are trading on the value of a certain currency against another. As with anything that is technology based, things go wrong either from a confused user learning to use the software or unforeseen technology issues. That's- ta-daa! -where I come in (well, my team I should say) to solve the mystery of happened and whether the client needs a credit. Some cases are relatively easy taking 15 or less to resolve, some are very complicated taking multiple sets of eyes from the most senior of staff. The team has gotten so good at expediting audit cases that the company is looking to expand our team into other areas around the company. For example, I get to sit with the QC team (quality control for the call center) for the next two weeks to see if/how we can get involved in helping them. And I'm looking forward to this- it's something I've never done before!

In other news, we're going to see Eddie Izzard live tomorrow. Yay! We're going with Dave, whose name is actually pronounced Daaaaaave!

Welcome 2010!

Our New Year's Eve celebration was hardly a celebration. This year we were tired and drifted off to sleep just as the clock turned midnight. I know this because I heard some shouts and fireworks as I started to drift off and Rusty was already breathing heavy. I don't expect this year to be some great replacement for this year's woes. We're still in a Recession, still in a war overseas, and still making some of the same mistakes and still looking for the future to somehow magically fix it all.

I don't make resolutions anymore. I used to. Instead I aspire to be better in some way all year long. Know who else doesn't make resolutions? Organizations. I wish companies would publish a resolution to make some improvement we all care about like using less plastic, reducing waste, hiring more staff, etc. I wish countries would make resolutions like raise GDP or reduce air pollution or update some policy that effects everyone. It would be great if even families made resolutions like to get everyone together one time in the next year or share in taking care of someone or cook healthier foods. Making a personal resolution doesn't work because you are only accountable to you and you will always let yourself off the hook. But being part of a larger project makes everyone accountable and gives everyone something to work towards and get re-inspired together. Hmmm, come to think of it, maybe MY family could start this idea by making our own resolution. Check back soon to see what decided to do.



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