Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Back in the old days...

I recall that when I was young, jack-o-lanterns were traditionally carved with a paring knife, scooped out with a spoon and your bare hands, lit with a votive candle, and your end result was generally some variation on the triangle-eyed, bucktooth-grinned pumpkin. I think all we have left of the good ol' days is the chore of pulling out pumpkin guts. Here's N. gutting her pumpkin... And here's A. plugging his ears while Daddy plays with power tools... I'm kind of surprised that Rotozip didn't include a pumpkin carving demo in their infomercial as one of the many benefits to owning that handy dandy little tool. It greatly increases the enjoyment to be found in pumpkin carving. There's just nothing like having pumpkin bits flying through your kitchen, and the roto wind rushing through your hair.

And lastly we have the finished product. A scary monster, and a wolf head.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

We're back!

The kids and I flew down to southern California on the 18th. We spent a day at The Money Trap, er... I mean Disneyland (aka "The Happiest Place on Earth", but I'm not quite certain how it got that reputation). My 4-year-old declared that he hated it there after spending hours of his life standing in line for rides. I think they took away more good memories than bad, so all was not lost.

I was also able to go watch my very good friend L. being awarded her black belt. I am so proud of her, and she earned every last thread of that thing! We also got to visit with many of our old friends. It was our first time back to CA since moving from there almost two years ago, and it was decidedly too long to have been away. And just to make us feel right at home, the Santa Anas rolled in and put on a firestorm for us! Not necessary, but thanks anyway! Fortunately, all our friends are safe. The fires are still not completely out, and we're continuing to keep all those wacky Californians in our thoughts and prayers.

This past weekend, we all went to a halloween carnival at the local YMCA. The kids went in costume, and I donned a witches hat (I asked hubby if he thought there'd be anyone dressed up as members of the Village People, but he only rolled his eyes at me). We met my sister and nephew there, too. The kids came away with bags of candy and toys, and N. even won a cake in the cake walk, which totally made her day.

As this whole entry is full of unrelated topics, I may as well throw in a recent observation I made about little A. Up until very recently, he had never drawn a picture of anything looking remotely recognizable. He would throw a couple of different colored scribbles across a piece of paper, and announce to me that it was a drawing of fourteen bunnies in space suits riding on the back of a runaway train heading straight for the open mouth of a T. Rex. I always had to kind of take his word for it, ya know? Well suddenly, like in the last few weeks, he's become a very detailed artist. He passed briefly over drawing people as a single circle with dots for eyes, and went straight to drawing people with a head, neck, body, hair, ears, clothing, etc. in a matter of days. Apparently he didn't read the part in the child development books that said he was supposed to be doing crude drawings a couple of years ago. Last night he drew a tiger with a head, neck (necks are very important to him for some reason), body, tail, legs, hair, stripes, and whiskers. Where did this come from? I'm tempted to take it as a sign from the Unschooling Gods who would remind me that, given the opportunity, all children develop the skills that they need at the time when it is right for them, not at the time we think it should be right for them. The fact that I wasn't stressing over the observation that my son was "behind" in his drawing, yet we frequently freak out over our daughter's delayed reading skills, also speaks volumes about the things we value as a society. LOL, back in pre-historic times hubby and I probably would have been pulling our hair out with worry that our male child would never be able to make a proper cave drawing! ;P

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Are you right brained or left brained?

Go here to find out. Post in the comments section to let me know how you see the figure spinning....

Monday, October 8, 2007

Tag, I'm it!

If vegiemama can tag herself, why by golly, so can I!

1. Your rock star name: (first pet, current car) Amy Sienna
2. Your gangster name: (favorite ice cream, favorite cookie)Peppermint Samoa (now that is scary, LOL!)
3. Your fly guy/girl name: (first initial first name, first 3 letters last name) - Lkoc
4. Your detective name: (favorite color, favorite animal) - Blue Hawk
5. Your soap opera name: (middle name, birth city) - Lynn Seattle
6. Your Star Wars name (first three letter last name, first 2 letter of first name) - LauKo
7. Superhero Name: (2nd favorite color, favorite drink and add "the") - The Purple Hefeweizen (LOL - It's a bird! It's a plane! No - it's The Purple Hefeweizen!)
8.Nascar name (first names of your grandfathers) - Can I go with my grandfather's nickname? It works so well for this one, LOL! - Edgar Bud or Bud Edgar
9. Stripper Name: (favorite perfume, favorite candy) - Lilac Snicker
10. Witness Protection Name: (mother's and father's middle name) - Jeanne Ray (sounds more like a convicted criminal - no offense to any actual "Jeanne Ray"s out there!)

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Baby steps

Did I mention that my doctor told me that my risk of heart attack from not doing the daily aspirin therapy is greater than my risk of gastric bleed from taking it? I think she's trying to scare me, LOL! It's working, a little. She okayed taking a wait-and-see approach if I'm really going to make diet and exercise changes. We're testing my cholesterol again in January. I'm feeling pretty optimistic after talking to my dad and stepmom, and after vegiemama's comments about her husband's success battling cholesterol through lifestyle changes.

This week our biggest lifestyle change was increasing our intake of veggies. We rarely get more than a couple of veggie/fruit servings in a day, but I've really bumped that up. Part of that has been changing the make up of our dinners - more focus on vegetables as entrees, rather than thrown in on the side. I also rediscovered hummus recently, and love dipping carrots, peppers, and broccoli in there. Another lunch I enjoy is grilled portobella mushrooms with onion, peppers, and basalmic - really good over salad greens, or on whole wheat.

I've been hearing pretty awesome things about flax seed, and oatmeal (who hasn't heard about oatmeal?). Turns out oatmeal is pretty amazing - something in it actually binds with a component of cholesterol and removes it from the body. I think it's the same general idea with the flax seed - plus they're both loaded with lots of good stuff. So this was day two of eating oatmeal for breakfast with flax added. I'm going to have to make myself some homemade oatmeal, because the instant is loaded with sodium.

I also discovered this little goody today:
They are Nature's Path Foods Flax Plus Pumpkin Granola Bars, and they're low in fat, sodium, have no cholesterol, and are a good source of fiber and protein. Two thumbs up!

In other news, when the kids got home this afternoon from shopping with hubby for a birthday present for me, they were falling all over themselves to tell me about what they'd seen. They'd stop by the creek to see if the salmon were spawning, and A. proudly told me that "we saw TWO dead salmon!" - totally made his day. They saw a live one ("It was a sockeye, Mom!"), but the dead ones were the best, LOL! Two weeks ago the salmon weren't yet spawning in the local creeks. Hopefully the kids will humor me and allow us a trip back over there this week.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Next time you take your kids to the pediatrician

You might want to read this story before your next well-child visit:

Doc, what’s up with snooping?
Pediatrician paranoia runs deep

By Michael Graham | Thursday, October 4, 2007 | | Op-Ed
They’re watching you right now.

They counted every beer you drank during last night’s Red Sox [team stats] game.

They see you sneaking out to the garage for a smoke.

They know if you’ve got a gun, and where you keep it.

They’re your kids, and they’re the National Security Agency of the Nanny State.

I found this out after my 13-year-old daughter’s annual checkup. Her pediatrician grilled her about alcohol and drug abuse.

Not my daughter’s boozing. Mine.

“The doctor wanted to know how much you and mom drink, and if I think it’s too much,” my daughter told us afterward, rolling her eyes in that exasperated 13-year-old way. “She asked if you two did drugs, or if there are drugs in the house.”

“What!” I yelped. “Who told her about my stasher, I mean, ‘It’s an outrage!’ ”

I turned to my wife. “You took her to the doctor. Why didn’t you say something?”

She couldn’t, she told me, because she knew nothing about it. All these questions were asked in private, without my wife’s knowledge or consent.

“The doctor wanted to know how we get along,” my daughter continued. Then she paused. “And if, well, Daddy, if you made me feel uncomfortable.”

Great. I send my daughter to the pediatrician to find out if she’s fit to play lacrosse, and the doctor spends her time trying to find out if her mom and I are drunk, drug-addicted sex criminals.

We’re not alone, either. Thanks to guidelines issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics and supported by the commonwealth, doctors across Massachusetts are interrogating our kids about mom and dad’s “bad” behavior.

We used to be proud parents. Now, thanks to the AAP, we’re “persons of interest.”

The paranoia over parents is so strong that the AAP encourages doctors to ignore “legal barriers and deference to parental involvement” and shake the children down for all the inside information they can get.

And that information doesn’t stay with the doctor, either.

Debbie is a mom from Uxbridge who was in the examination room when the pediatrician asked her 5-year-old, “Does Daddy own a gun?”

When the little girl said yes, the doctor began grilling her and her mom about the number and type of guns, how they are stored, etc.

If the incident had ended there, it would have merely been annoying.

But when a friend in law enforcement let Debbie know that her doctor had filed a report with the police about her family’s (entirely legal) gun ownership, she got mad.

She also got a new doctor.

In fact, the problem of anti-gun advocacy in the examining room has become so widespread that some states are considering legislation to stop it.

Last year, my 7-year-old was asked about my guns during his physical examination. He promptly announced to the doctor that his father is the proud owner of a laser sighted plasma rifle perfect for destroying Throggs.

At least as of this writing, no police report has been filed.

“I still like my previous pediatrician,” Debbie told me. “She seemed embarrassed to ask the gun questions and apologized afterward. But she didn’t seem to have a choice.”

Of course doctors have a choice.

They could choose, for example, to ask me about my drunken revels, and not my children.

They could choose not to put my children in this terrible position.

They could choose, even here in Massachusetts, to leave their politics out of the office.

But the doctors aren’t asking us parents.

They’re asking our kids.

Worst of all, they’re asking all kids about sexual abuse without any provocation or probable cause.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has declared all parents guilty until proven innocent.

And then they wonder why we drink.

We had a similar experience at our last well-child visit. I'd scheduled both kids for the same time slot, thinking that would be easiest. In the past we'd had a ped. that actually kept our kids together for the appointment, but this time they were split up. While I stayed with A (4 1/2), the nurse was alone with N(8) and asking her questions. In trying to determine how much tv my kids are watching each day, the nursed asked N. which television shows she likes (not how often she watched them) - from that she concluded that my kids watch 5-6 hours of tv/day. I disagreed, but she said she couldn't go in and change it because she'd already entered it into the system. Thankfully this was just something mundane like tv viewing, but I don't care for my kids being manipulated and put in uncomfortable situations, especially when they don't even realizing they are "incriminating" themselves or their parents.

On Location: Extreme Makeover Home Edition, Project 511

A local woman and her family were chosen as the recipients of a complete home makeover by Extreme Makeover, so the kids and I went over there this morning to help "Move That Bus!". You can find out more about it at this website where they have before, during, and after photographs.

Spectators were being shuttled from a nearby city park with buses chartered by ABC. N. and I actually went up last night to check it out (we spied Ty through one of the upstairs windows!), but there wasn't a lot going on, and we were freezing cold. This morning we were shuttled up to the location at around 8:30, and already they were saying the Bus Scene was being delayed another 30 minutes. By 9am they were saying 11am, but things actually got moving before then. The kids and I weren't in a great location. We were packed in about 3 or 4 people deep on the sidewalk across the street from the house, with many holding umbrellas as we stood in a light off-and-on drizzle waiting for something - ANYTHING - to happen.

The crowd of spectators:

We had some celebrity sightings. First we saw Pauli (saw him last night, too, but didn't have my camera). He was nice, and turned to give all of us a big smile (though he moved quick and mostly I got shots of his back, LOL). Then we saw Ty, who finally appeased the cries of "Ty! Ty! Ty! Ty!" from all the teen girls in the crowd, and got goofy with the spectators. Then I saw Michael standing in the driveway of the house. He also waved and smiled to the crowd.




There were a lot of people standing in the spectator area who had volunteered to help out during the week. I overheard that the house itself is ready to move into, but that there will still be 2-3 weeks more work to be done. Still, not bad for razing a house to the ground, and then building it back up again in just over week (granted, they work 24/day during that time). I cannot believe what that neighborhood has had to put up with. There are streets blocked off, they've got cars, trucks, trailers, flood lights, generators, porta potties, garbage dumpsters, and more, parked in the yards of people's homes. I assume ABC will be paying for someone to come out and re-sod most of these yards, and I hope the families were appropriately compensated for their trouble. The house itself seems nice from the street - not too pretentious or anything. It's a "green" home (you can read more about that at the link up top), which basically means it rates high for energy efficiency, both inside and out.

This is the view looking up the street towards the EMHE house:

Here's the view of the front of the house, and the architectural drawing (oriented as you see it from the street):

Being a spectator was amusing. The crew works to get everybody pumped up, excited, and loud, but what we don't realize when we're watching from home on tv is that the crowd is pretending to yell for a bus that isn't there, and a design team that isn't actually coming out of the front door of the house, or a limo that has driven down the street fifteen times already. There is a lot of editing that happens on that show. They definitely got footage of N. twice - once when she was shouting "Move That Bus!" and once when we were doing the general "Whoooooooo!" while waving, clapping, and jumping up and down. So now we'll have to be sure to watch it when it airs (rumor has it that will be in January).

The limo with the EMHE logo taped over the license plate:

Getting the crowd pumped up:

A. was getting tired and ready to go, so I finally had to tear N. away from the hoopla. Little did I know, they'd decided not to run the shuttles back down to the park while any of the filming was going on. Faced with either hoofing it back a couple miles, or going back and making A. stand in a loud crowd of people, I decided we could start walking while I tried to reach hubby by cell phone. He obviously couldn't drop everything and leave work to bail us out, but a very nice lady who was returning to her car parked close by offered to give us a lift back. I took her up on her generous offer, and the kids and I were back to our van and driving off to the local Starbucks for warm beverages in no time!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Party! Party! Party!

Yesterday I had to run over to Kinkos to make copies with the kids. For some reason they're always a little crazy when we go in that place, so I prepped them before we went in "No running around, and try to keep your voices down, please. People are trying to work in there."

Poor A. He just couldn't contain himself. He was running under the tunnels (the area underneath each of the work stations), pulling himself up onto the posts that mark the line you wait in at the counter, jumping, running, hugging N, hanging on her, doing handstands. All while I made two double-sided copies.

When I was finally done and we were back out to the parking lot, I stopped A and had him look at me while I told him "In the next store, I need you to control your body. That was too much craziness, and you need to keep it together a little bit." He "Okay, Mommy"s me, and we cross the parking lot to our car. As I'm getting him buckled in his carseat he exclaims.

"ARR! It's my brain!" and starts punching himself in the head.

Me, slightly horrified, though not completely unaccustomed to seeing him flog himself: "It's your brain?"

"Yah, Mom. Ya know? My brain tells my body to do these things, and I have to tell it not to."

"Really? How do you tell it not to?"

"Like this:" and he whacks himself again, "It's a party in there!"

It was quite an insightful conversation, actually. I've read of kids with ADHD describing parties in their brain, though I've never heard A. use that description, nor would I necessarily consider him hyperactive (LOL, although yesterday in Kinko's a wave of movement had definitely washed over him). I'm happy that he's able to reflect inward like that and describe what he's feeling - maybe someday that ability will carry over during his fits of anger and disappointment, too. I don't think I've ever had a party in my brain - I think I'm missing out!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Wake up call

Last week I went to the doctor for a physical. I hadn't been to the doctor for a general check-up in nearly 5 years, so it was time, especially since I knew my blood pressure is out of control right now. I've also had a few "in your face" moments in the past year where I became aware on some level that I'm a grown woman now, not a child - it's time to take responsibility for my own health. I think some of that comes from having friends diagnosed with cancer, a parent with declining health, and a 35th bday right around the corner. Don't get me wrong, I generally feel like a young pup, but if I don't get my act together where my health is concerned, I think I'll be feeling old before my time.

I'm fat/overweight - whatever you want to call it - but I'm losing weight (down 15 lbs. so far *yay*). It's a long slow road to losing 80+ pounds. I had stopped taking my bp meds, but started up again after recurring headaches that prompted me to check my bp. We're still trying to tweak my meds to get it under control. These things I knew I was dealing with. Now I get a call from the nurse telling me my cholesterol is high, and the doctor wants me to start right away on cholesterol meds and a daily baby aspirin. Okay, really - isn't that for old people? People who have had massive coronaries, or a stroke or something? Is this really necessary? I really don't want to go on more drugs. I'm 34, for pete's sake! I really wanted to handle this all through diet and exercise, but it seems that the doctor feels that we can't wait around that long. And the other issue is that the other recommendations they gave (sodium restricted diet (ie. no additional post-cooking salt), low-fat, low-cholesterol diet) we've already been following for years. I need to lose weight and exercise more, plain and simple. If I choose not to lose weight and not exercise, then I am choosing to damage my body, killing myself, shortening my life. The longer I sit around waiting to get healthy, the shorter I can expect my life to be. The motivation of fear....