Samuel Jerome and Richnightder

Samuel Jerome and Richnightder
Our boys in Haiti

Sunday, November 28, 2010

time flies

I find it almost impossible to believe that Richnigthder and Jerome have been home from Haiti for 19 months now.  It seems like just yesterday we were hopping on the plane to head to Port-au-Prince as a family of 4, only to return to the USA with the two littlest ones making us a complete family of 6.

Last week Marc and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.  The kids made cards for us and all of them will be keepsakes forever.  Madison's card for us was written in French and she drew a picture of Marc and me holding hands.  Luckily, Madison is grandly delusional and drew me as thin and willowy.  I haven't been thin and wispy since she was born, so bless her heart for drawing me in a flattering light.  Jerome drew a VERY interesting picture of us.  Once again its of Marc and me together.  Marc's torso is a square and saddly the picture shows that Marc must be suffering from Elephantitis of his right leg as it is massively swollen compared to his toothpick left leg.  Also, Marc's mouth is wide open and he appears to be yelling.  Hmmm?  But its the picture of me that is REALLY interesting.

As Jerome drew me, he must have been picturing how he came into this world.  Since he has a most horrible birth story the first 4 years of his life, he must be searching to add pieces to his story.  You see, he drew a picture of a VERY PREGNANT me.  I asked him who I was pregnant with and he answered that he was in my  tummy.  The thought and sentiment are remarkably sweet, but the picture was most unflattering.  Not only did he draw a picture of me looking like an elephant in the 24th month of gestation, but he clothed me in a stripped moo-moo.  Trust me, even in pictures, stripes just don't work for me.  But oh how I love my sweet, easy-going Jerome. 

Richnigthder and Thomas continue to have alpha dog battles daily.  Those two can fight over anything.  They are now fighting over who smells more like manure and they enlisted me to give the deciding vote.  Once again, Thomas earns the privilege of being the smelliest boy in the house, an honor he takes seriously.

Madison has ridden outside everyday this week, even in the single digit temps and falling snow.  She takes her dressage riding very seriously and I love her determination.  Now if she would only spend a few minutes cleaning her hell hole of a bathroom, we would all be happy.  It's so gross even the boys won't use it.  'Nough said!

The kids are getting older at an alarming rate and while 99% of the time this makes me ecstatic, sometimes it makes me sad to realize how fast time has flown by.  Madison is approaching 14 and it honestly feels like it was just yesterday that we stood alongside Angela in the delivery room watching Madison make her enterance into this world.  When Marc cut the cord and I held her for the first time, I couldn't imagine how fast time would fly.  She was only 15 months old when Thomas came home and she seemed so grown up and such a big helper to me then.  She's still a big helper, just with a big teenaged mouth attached.  Thomas has grown to be an extremely handsome young man with a most gently and kind heart.  School work remains a struggle for him and me, but I know homeschool is where he needs to be to continue to thrive.  Richnigthder and Jerome are physically and emotionally growing before my eyes.  I still feel cheated that I misssed out on so much of their lives.  19 months have rocketed by and I am frightened at how quickly the day is approaching when they will all strike out on their own paths in life and I will be able to sleep in, have a margarita with lunch and read a book til my eyes bleed.  I picture a day like that when I am struggling to tread water and wonder if, when they are all grown, I will ever be able to relax without all my chicks at home in the nest?  Of course, 4 kids in college will be a source of anxiety for me, not just financially, but always questioning if they are alright and doing the right thing.  Guess until then, I'll continue to slog through the days and day dream about the all too quickly approaching days of empty nesting.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The moon in retrograde

Thomas has had a difficult time focusing for about 3 weeks now.  The pressure is on him...and complete his academic year by December 31.  He can do it, but when faced with the pressure of completing daily work which includes small compositions, he folds.  He gets angry and yells and storms around, all of which I recognize as his way of avoiding the work.

Today I had high hopes of a calm, productive school day, but alas, it hasn't been that way.  Thomas has been argumentative about finishing his work, heck even starting his work.  He doesn't mind reading and doing independent work, but intensely dislikes having to write his answers and form complete sentences in coherent paragraphs.  When faced with difficulty, Thomas creates distractions by being naughty which tends to shift my focus from him and his responsibilities as a student, to mom mode and me stopping his behavior.  He knows he must complete his work but become soooo frustrated he can't even focus on accomplishing one small assignment.

I swear the kid can find 9 gazillion reasons to avoid school work:  the room is too dark/bright; hot/cold; loud/quiet; pencil is too short/too long.  I could go on and on.  So in the midst of this regular annoyance, I try to get Richnigthder and Jerome settled and into their school day.  They usually both start with math and are able to continue without much hovering and typically complete said assignments independently and correctly.  While they begin math, Madison begins her day reviewing her lesson manual and getting an idea of how long her day will be.  She has a full day and works about 75% independently with some help from me on grammar/composition and geography. 

Just for fun today we added in a 'lost' dog to the mix.  It is snowing and about 7 itty-bitty degrees above zero.  We are expecting even nastier tomorrow and lasting into Thanksgiving morning so having a lost house dog would be devestating.  No one could find Gucci anywhere in the house.  We checked closets, beds, cabinets, tubs, basically we scoured the house and garage.  I called Marc, crying or course, and as he headed home, we got dressed and hit the snowy fields looking and calling for him.  I got in the car and drove to the neighbors calling and calling, hoping to see his little black head pop up somewhere in the snow.  Sadly that did not pan out.

I drove home and could see the kids searching the culvert under our driveway and saw they too, had failed to find him.  I couldn't believe that one of our 4 dogs, that we never let outside without one of us could be lost.  Had we left a door open?  Did the dog run out with Marc when he went out to feed the horses?  It was a mystery.

I told Thomas to run to our back deck and see if Gucci had climbed into the cabinet below the bbq.  I was grasping at straws here as I had no idea where he could be.  A minute later I saw Thomas WITH Gucci running down the driveway to me.  Seems when he was on the deck checking the bbq, he heard whimpering coming from the utility room.  He went inside and heard Gucci in the dryer!  Marc had taken a load of clothes out this morning and figures he left the door open and Gucci jumped in.  I suppose it's completely possible that as he jumped in, it flipped the door closed behind him.  All I know is that I am soooo happy and thankful that my dog is not outside lost and wandering in the cold and snowy weather.

I love my Gucci, Carlos, Kitty and Bunny.  I love my Tommy, Hondo, Josh, Lucki, Ka Ching, Coco, Blue, Lolly, Corntassle and Baby.  I love my April, Elmer, Momma and Tulip.  I love my Panda and Darryl.  I *like* Cochon and Bacon.  I don't think I've forgotten anyone...since these are all my furry babies!  And yes, I am thankful they are all safe and sound just where they should be!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

It's almost our 20th anniversary

A month ago I accidentally dropped my Movado watch down our garbage disposal and without knowing it was in there, flipped the switch and turned it on.  The horrible grinding noise emminating from the disposal made me say a cuss word and I completely expected to reach inside and pull out a gnargled spoon.

What I pulled out, made me burst into tears.  I sobbed and wailed.  It wasn't just a watch.  It was a watch that Marc and I purchased together on a cruise in 2007 in Belize.  He got a matching one too.  We had spent the day drinking on the beach, probably...ok, actually to excess...but we were without kids for the first time and were just two love birds alone, enjoying each other's company.  The margarita's and fresh salsa made everything perfect.  The brilliantly clear water and gorgeous white sand added to our memories and as we returned to the cruise ship we of course had to pass thru the luxury shops.  We indulged in buying matching Movado watches and relished them as a luxury.  My watch meant the world to me as we bought them as a sign of our love for each other.

After I mushed it up in the disposal, Marc sent it off for an estimate of repairs. Saddly, the repairs exceeded the cost of a new one and Marc had it returned to us.  I thought that was the end of it and mourned the loss of my beloved watch.  Today I received a box from UPS that required a signature.  Marc told me to open it and inside was a brand new, identical watch to the one I mangled.  Oh how I love my husband!

Now what should I get him for our anniversary?  What can equal the sentiment attached to the watch he replaced for me?  I am at a loss.  Ideas anyone?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

With these odds, I need to buy a lottery ticket

Let's see.  3 visits to the ER in 3 weeks.  Last visit was 48 hours ago when Richnigtder's head collided with my horse's head and resulted in a small concussion.

Fast forward to the present.  Thomas just ran inside yelling that Madison got bucked off her Arabian mare and is hurt badly.  I ran outside in just my pajama pants, well, and a t-shirt, but my point is that it is only 28 degrees outside right now.  Marc hobbled after me slowly since his ankle is still healing and the splint slows him up. 

She was walking towards me when I got out there and seemed OK except that she was holding her right wrist.  As she relays the story, she hopped on Lucki bareback and Jerome startled the horse which resulted in Madison landing full weight on her right wrist.  This happened in our outdoor arena so the dirt is somewhat soft and tilled up so we are really. REALLY hoping it's just a sprain and we don't have to go back to the ER.

At this rate, I'm going to ask for a punch card and see if on the 10th visit I get a free donut or something.  AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Because I Can't Make This Stuff Up

Two weeks ago today, Madison was in the ER for her migraine.  Last Saturday Marc hopped off the tractor and tore a piece of bone away from his ankle along with shredding his tendons and ligaments.  And last night it was Richnigthder's turn to make an emergency visit.  Yep, count 'em....that's three in 3 weeks!

Madison feeds the horses every evening and Richnigthder waters them.  Last night they were both in my horse's stall while Madison fed the grain and Richnigthder filled the water buckets.  I'm not quite sure how it happened, but as Richnigthder bent down, my horse brought is head up and hit Rich straight in the forehead between his eyes.  It was a hard enough knock that it threw him backwards where as he was falling, smacked the back of his head on the water bucket.  Madison was there as it happened and she said he was dizzy, and confused as he stood up and then ran into the house. 

I saw him come in and run downstairs, but thought nothing of it.  Madison followed behind and told me what happened.  I went downstairs and found him wanting to sleep.  NO WAY!  Marc came home a few minutes later and we took both took him to the hospital.  The doctor gave him some coordination tests and said he seemed "Fine."  Yeah, right.  I kept reiterating how he wanted to sleep and she said to let him.  SURE!

We had to stop on the way home and pick up Thomas from the Iszler's house and we stayed for some time swapping stories of our kids and our cumulative ER visits.  Unfortunately it seems that whenever we take a kid there, on of their boys ends up in the ER soon too.  I love having good friends that share our similar states of constant chaos and manageable disasters.

So anyhow, that's what we did for fun last night.  I'm not sure but I think it was more fun than spending 6 hours at church today making Lefse with 20 or so teenagers for the youth group fundraiser.  How do you spend your weekends??

Friday, November 12, 2010

"How come you homeschool?"

Most days I love the fact that I am privileged enough that I get to home educate my children.  Most days it is a good thing and I enjoy their company, their humor, their "lightbulb" moments.  However, I never intended to be a homeschool mom.  Never in my wildest dreams did I ever believe I was capable of doing such a thing.  But then circumstances both in private school and public school led me to this decision.

When we moved to North Dakota in the summer of 2003, we enrolled Madison and Thomas in a Lutheran school and all went well there until Madison was in third grade.  She had a little girl in class that told Madison that she was beneath her and was not allowed to play with her because of this.  I really believed that the little girl must have misinterpreted what her mother said so I took the bull by the horns and asked the mother.  I honestly felt anger like I have rarely before when she looked me in the face and told me that yes, she had told her daughter that about Madison and our family.  Armed with an overt confession of bigotry, I marched to the principal's office where she promptly told me and I quote, "We've never had to deal with this type of situation before so if you choose to leave, you'll go with our blessing."  WHAT???   In short order we were told to take our black children elsewhere as they just didn't know how to handle racism!

Yes, the principal told us that it would in essence be easier for her if we took our two black children elsewhere as it was a Pandora's box issue she had never dealt with, nor obviously cared to deal with now.  It was also around this time that we moved further out of Bismarck and that prompted us to withdraw the kids from private school and enroll them in the local 2 room school house which taught K-8 grade.  Once again I was foolishly optimistic about the potential for academic growth.

Madison entered in 4th grade and continued with her record of straight A's.  Thomas began 2nd grade and immediately began to flounder.  In the little school house, grades K-3 were taught in one classroom and grades 4-8 in the other.  There were two teachers and 2 aides for the entire 19 students enrolled.  Madison's teacher was actually a nice man.  His love of educating and of children was obvious.  He worked hard to instill in the children a desire to achieve beyond mediocrity.  Thomas' teacher was something else!  It was her first year teaching and she sucked at it!!  She had a total of 9 kids in her class and needed a full time kindergarten teacher to be hired as she couldn't handle it herself.  She struggled to be kind to the boys in her class, and seemed to enjoy the girls.  None of the boys seemed to do anything acceptable and she kept detailed notes on Thomas' every misdeed Monday thru Friday.  That damn purple notebook came home everyday with page after page of detailed transcripts of what Thomas had failed to do both academically and socially. 

I stopped looking at the book as it was too damn depressing and then it became kind of comical.  If this woman was supposed to be teaching, how could she keep this running daily log?  Honestly, this purple notebook would often have 2-3 pages of notes.  The woman was obsessed it seemed with noting only bad things.  The final straw came by a fluke.  After butting heads with this woman for a year and several months, Marc attended a school board meeting where it 'slipped' out that neither teacher had passed their minimum teaching standards for the second time.  HMMMMM????

I decided to pull Thomas out of school in October and began homeschooling him using Calvert.  I love Calvert's no-nonsense approach to learning.  They expect the child to learn; not just do the work, but actually remember it and build upon that knowledge.  I pulled Madison out of public school at the Christmas break as she had overheard both teachers talking about Thomas and what a mistake it was for me to homeschool.  Suprisingly Madison went willingly.  I anticipated a fight as she is my social butterfly, but she looked forward to homeschool with gusto.

So that is how I ended up home educating the oldest two kids.  The little boys arrival from Haiti added yet another long story that I just don't have the energy to go into right now.  Suffice it to say that they too are thriving in homeschool and appear to be achieving academically and socially very well.  Now that I homeschool the kids and dare say, enjoy it, I will not go back to public school. Our experience was so sad and disappointing that once I was tossed into this realm, I feel it was for the best.  I am in this for the long haul and hope to see my children achieve to the highest possible levels.  I tell all 4 kids that college is not an option it is a MUST!

I sincerely hope I am giving them everything they need to succeed in life.  I also hope I am giving them the confidence to stretch themselves academically.  Home education does seem to be more rigorous, at least by the curriculum I use, but I feel in todays global society, it is a must.  These kids must have someone fully invested in their future.  Someone who cares what they learn.  Someone who's job review is reflected everyday in their children's behavior and knowledge.

But today, as the oldest two struggle to put together compositions and the youngest two grapple with cursive handwriting, I am ready to leap out the window.  Unfortunately the window isn't high enough to cause me permanent damage, probably just a broken leg.  Today in this household, there is much too much togetherness.  I think a recess is in order and they all need to go outside and get rosy-cheeked while mama stays inside and escapes into the cyber world. 

Before I escape life and reality, I would like to add that Madison and Thomas have each had exceptional teachers who's care and concern for them as student's was obvious.  We all remember those teachers we've had that make learning fun and instill a love of it within us.  Their efforts go forth with us forever.  Madison's kindergarten teacher in Oregon started Madison out on the right foot and Madi will never forget her.  She cared about her student's education and was a genuinely wonderful woman.  Thomas had a first grade teacher that overlooked his wiggles to help keep him marching down the road of education.  I feel fortunate that Thomas had someone early on in his academic life that overlooked his fidgeting and focused solely on his abilities to learn.  For the people who are called to teach and do it with a passion, my hat is off to you!  And for the few in that profession who are in the wrong career...get out!  You're giving the true professionals a bad name. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bon Jour, Bunny!

Every morning as the kids wander out to the kitchen, or I have to drag them from their beds, I welcome them with, "Bon jour,            "   This morning as Jerome rounded the corner, the first thing he saw was our dog, Bunny and then I heard him give her a warm, greeting of  "Bon jour, Bunny!"

This kid warms my heart.  He is tender, kind, generous of spirit and perpetually happy.  Tonight when I tuck Jerome and Richnigthder into bed and utter the usual, "Bon nwit" I will give them a little extra hug to let them know just how happy they make me and how lucky I feel to be able to call them my sons.

Yesterday I took Madison for another dressage lesson and right afterwards, Ka Ching was having the equine dentist float her teeth.  It was snowing very lightly as we drove there, but as the lesson wore on and the dental visit persisted, the snow began to cover the roads.  The sleepy drugs they gave Ka Ching wore off very slowly and we didn't hit the road to come home until 5PM.  It was a little slick and I wasn't enjoying hauling the trailer with the new horse in it, but we had to get home.  Madison turned on Michael Buble's Christmas CD and we sang along....woefully out of tune....but enjoying ourselves anyway.

I heard our weatherman say the dreaded "S" word tonight......snow!  Yes, we've had snow already, but not the ground covering kind that lasts all winter long.  He said it is supposed to snow next week and then get a bit chilly towards Thanksgiving.  He's betting on a white Thanksgiving.  Blech!  Just so you know, chilly in North Dakota means highs in the teens and lows about zero.  Whooppee. 

Thomas has hit a growth spurt and is almost as tall as I am.  The big difference between Thomas and me is that he is my lean boy.  He is one lean, buff, muscle mass.  I, on the other hand, have a body that was built to with stand plagues, natural disasters, and starvation.  In other words it significantly over-achieves in the 'keeping the fat' on department.  I WANT MY 20 SOMETHING BODY BACK!!!!!  Life is unfair.  Now, where did I leave that Butterfinger?

Monday, November 8, 2010

So which is it? Supper or dinner?

When we moved to North Dakota 7 years ago, I was suprised to hear people refer to the meal typically consumed in the evening as 'supper'.  I had rarely heard that expression before.  I had always refered to the evening meal as dinner.

So which is it people?  Is it more commonly called supper or dinner?  Is it a regional thing?

Marc went to the doctor today for his ankle and he does seem to have a small bone chip pulled away with the tendons and ligaments.  He's supposed to keep it wrapped and give it light exercise.  All I can say, is that the doctors expect people to buck up and be hearty and stoic here!

A disjointed post at best, but I am feeling as though my karma is massively off.  I keep throwing out positive, happy energy and keep attracting negativity.  Today Thomas has had a horrible, terrible, rotten day.  He seemed incapable of focusing;seemed angry and argumentative and had a complete lack of respect for everyone, including himself.  I know this is part of having a language disorder which makes it hard for him to interpret social cues, but man 'o man, was today a tough day.

I knew if I posted about how fortunate I felt to have my 4 sweet kids, that one of them would prove the normalcy of our life by displaying crappy behavior.  Today was a rough day with Thomas and that energy flowed over to everyone else in the household.  Amazing how one person's off day, can affect everyone else and totally throw off any chance of a productive homeschool day.  I can't quite figure out what is eating at Thomas, but something is weighing heavily on his mind.  I just wish he could articulate his feelings verbally rather than acting out with lousy, destructive behavior.

All I can add at this point is that the worst days of homeschooling are by far, still much better than the best days of public school.  I promise I won't complain too much, but days like today sure make me see how hard some things are for Thomas to grasp and how he struggled with concepts in public school.  Yeah, today was hard for me.  Frustrating.  Infuriating.  Sad.  I know Madison, Adam, and Jerome were affected too, but if it's like this for me, I can't even begin to imagine what it must feel like for Thomas.

He's quietly reading a book which he has to for school, but at least he's quiet and self-soothing.  Now there's a line from a movie.  You know what I'm talking about.  In the movie Meet the Focker's,  Robert DeNiro's character tells Greg Focker that the baby is "Being Ferberized and learnign to self soothe."  If you haven't seen the movie, you have to since it is really funny and for those that have seen it already, you know what I'm talking about.

Ramble, ramble, ramble....I gotta run and stop this disorganized diatribe.  Should I hit the publish button or not?  What the hell, I'll do it and let people see the chaos inside my itty bitty brain. :)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What's a weekend without another trip to the doc in a box?

Last weekend was the Madison show with her migraine and the IV drip in the ER.  This weekend it was Marc and his ankle and Jerome and Thomas for their sinus infections.  Where to begin.......?

Yesterday all of us, the whole darn family, pulled together, pitch forks in hand and began cleaning stalls.  The weather was glorious, especially for a November day in North Dakota.  Marc was feeling frisky and in a giddy leap from the tractor, promptly landed on the side of his left ankle.  Being the spider monkey hand-to-hand combat guy he is, I thought the tuck-and-roll maneuver he executed was just part of his muy macho persona, but oh no.  As he struggled to stand up right, it was obvious that his ankle was unusually puffy.  He refused to stop working in the barn and persisted on which only exacerbated his injury.  Today he longer has an ankle, but he is now proudly sporting a man cankle!  It's a lovely hue of purple, black and blue complete with little mud turtles for toes.  I tried to make him lie down today to elevate his foot and ice it, which he did for about 3 1/2 minutes.  We'll have to wait and see how it looks and feels tomorrow.

Jerome fell asleep in church today not because Pastor Paul was boring, but because he has complained for several days now of a chronic headache.  He has a cough to boot and being the outstanding mother that I am, immediately realized he probably has a sinus infection.  Thomas also has had the same symptoms and so in a two-fer deal, I took both of them to doc in a box today.  I liked this doctor much better than the ER doctor Madison had last weekend, but I digress.  Both boys are now on Zithromax and I hope it clears them up and their lingering throbbing headaches.

I took Madison for a follow up appointment with her pediatrician on Wednesday and he felt as I did that her headaches are largely hereditary; closely followed by the fact she too has a sinus infection, stress and hormones.  She is on Amoxicillian which now puts our household up to 3 out of 4 kids on antibiotics.  Her ped. whom I really like, suggested that we hit her headaches ASAP with a combo of Tylenol and Motrin and if that fails to abort the headache to follow up with the prescription he gave us of Hydrocodone.  He doesn't want to prescribe Imitrex or similar drugs yet, since his goal right now is to avoid ER visits for pain and to allow her to function without being completely dopey and unable to function.  Poor thing has had migraines since she was 4 or 5 years old and as she gets older the headaches are becoming longer lasting in duration.

Tomorrow Madison has another dressage lesson on her new horse, Ka Ching.  They are becoming quite a nice pair and are working well together.  Now all we need is a new Sprenger bit, dressage headstall, a mattes pad for her saddle and new half-chaps.  I think we have aptly named the horse!  Everything involves mucho dinero and both Marc and I keep hearing that cash register sound over and over of ka ching, ka ching, ka ching!

Richnigthder is still my brilliant, driven little man.  He has been riding my horse both bare back and in an English saddle and is taking my horse over Cavaletti poles and itt-bitty jumps.  He has a blast and no amount of my arguing with him that the horse is a reiner, not trained to jump, fails to deter him.  He loves the horses and has a natural knack with them. 

My sweetheart Jerome announced tonight at dinner, out of the blue I might add, that he is "Most happy that I have my family!"  I think he sums up what is most important in life.  Having someone to love and be loved, health, happiness and people to share it with.  He embodies all that is good, innocent and simply joyful in life.  How fortunate I feel to have my 'problems' when so many other struggle with tragedies.  Today, I am thankful for my fighting, yelling kids that now require me to get up and stop the impending blood shed.  Just when I am on a roll of ridiculously happy thoughts, their arguing snaps me back to reality! :)