Sunday, September 30, 2012

Wrap it Up- September 2012

Wow, when I went back to see what I wrote in August, July, June... uh I had to go back to JANUARY to see how I was doing with the four main goals I set for 2012.  Here's short recap for Sept only.

Family- Good:  3 date nights this month with Bill.  A record, especially since we didn't just talk about kid problems, we focused on us. Being proactive and moving ahead with helping Ben. Friday we met a new counselor and are moving forward with some testing and evaluation.  Also good is we seem to have gotten into a new fall schedule despite it starting at o'dark five thirty and most days running nonstop for the next 18 hours.

Bad:  Escalating anger issues and tantrums with Ben.  A good 3-4 nights we are dealing with full on meltdown mode. Getting Ben up in the am also is a testament of wills.  Did I mention we are knee deep in potty training land with Ian. Send reinforcements, Xanax, or both.

Time- Good:  Getting to work closer to on time, the am rush including getting Ben on the bus at 6:45 and avoiding an 1/2 hour wasted in carpool (for Bill, I have to be at work by 6:55).  The past two weekends I have focused little on work and instead on filling the freezer and extra time with the kids.  I've also continued to say no to commitments that are time wasters.  

Bad:   Start of school always requires extra time. I have been averaging around 55-60 hours a week when I add in taking work home plus the hours spent on Sunday when the building is open.  In the last couple of weeks I've been trying to set more firm boundaries about leaving before 5 and not working at night, regardless of how much it would help me stay on top of work.  I have no way around a 90 minute commute with double kid pickups on the way home, so I need to suck this up and realize that I must budget this time into the day and bring on some audiobooks.

Sleep- Good all around.  I'm trying to keep up with the earlier bedtime set in summer and block in 15-30 mins of reading before falling asleep.  Did I fall asleep on the couch Friday night in my work clothes only to wake up disoriented around 1 am, well yes.  Did I fall asleep Saturday night face down in the clothes I wore for our date and realized it was 4:45 am and my earring were permanently imprinting themselves into my face, yes again.

Exercise:  Good.  I got nothing.  Over the weekend I cancelled our gym membership.  Bill and I had been talking it over and number crunched that we were spending a whole lot for a handful of Saturday mornings.  I'm trying something for the month of October, a commitment to do something, anything each day and log it. Even walking the dog counts.  I'm trying, yes trying, to get up 30 mins early 3 mornings a week and using our elliptical.  We will see how long I can keep this up, but I feel like the reason I remain tired is not only falling off the exercise wagon, but letting it run me over.

Much on the October to do list including:  rolling out the fun family fall list, Halloween parties, decorating the house, pumpkin carving, starting Y Guides, finishing up soccer, and of course state fair fun.

Bring it on October, my favorite month of the year.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A fair swap

I have been asking Bill to please, pretty please put up the 16 canvases in our upstairs hallway for months.  Out of the clear blue I come home from errands with the boys on Saturday and find this:


Bill: "Which baby pictures are Ben?  The boys looked so alike."

Ben:  "That's me.. pointing to a picture of Ian."

Ian:   "My brother and me" "Me drink from a water slide too" as he is pointing to a picture of Ben from his 3rd birthday party.

Heather:  "Nice job that we have 9 pictures of Ben alone, 3 of Ian, 3 together, 1 family." Note for the final wall we need more of Ian alone.

This one from our weekend trip to Hill Ridge Farm might be a contender. 

Where did the swap play into the weekend?  Bill has come home daily with more bags of Halloween decorations.  Adding to the multiple crates we already have in storage. 

We are about to be THAT house in a matter of days.  Luckily I got him to agree to not put everything up in SEPTEMBER.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The computer lab guy

Overhead 18 years ago today, "I know Bill Vinson, he works in the computer lab. Yeah, set me up with him for pledge bash. He seems like a nice guy."

When I think of where a night of Fomasa chinese, party at the sorority house, & watching PCU has taken us, it makes me smile.

Photo Credit- Laura Case Photography

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Friday is upon us so a quick recap.

This is how my week started with this Facebook post from a last minute grocery run on Sunday night.  I should have know to expect a crazy week. 

The Good:
  • Half day for students today. Doughnut bribery and all period tests going down all day.
  • Beautiful fall weather is upon us with low humidity and cool nights.
  • The brisket I cooked overnight that smelled up my house for two days
  • Catching up with a team member from Kenya this week
  • Finally making it out to our S Studies department trivia night at a local bar.  Our 2nd place finish partially paid the bar tab with the winnings
  • Freeze ahead session this weekend planned with a couple of coworkers.  Hello ground turkey-a-thon
  • First weekend since school opened I am NOT returning to school to work or call parents on Sunday
  • Mostly good week with Ben minus one mega meltdown Tuesday night.
  • Spray tan is almost gone

The Bad: 
  • Crashing the 3rd grade parent meeting of 100+ parents who turned to watch me chase Ian after he pulled away from me and took off running in front of the administration.  Would it have been too much to ask for a damn sign telling that after school pickup needed to use a different entrance?
  • One step forward in catching up with work, then two steps back in dealing with failing grades and parent contacts.
  • Have not only fallen off the exercise bandwagon, am in a total ditch and need motivation to restart.  
  • Damn tired, like fell asleep wearing my work ID two different nights face down on the couch. 

The Ugly:
  • Ben in a meltdown tantrum hit me in the face with a football helmet. 
  • Dentist has declared that my one "let's just wait to fix it cavity" is now 3 cavities and I need a crown. I got the Antichrist of all dental hygienists who between the Fox news blaring on the dental chair TV, her chatter about flossing, and her attempt to remove any plaque from the last 10 years left me in all kids of pain  
  • Hit a squirrel in the neighborhood yesterday, flattening his back half body.  I watched in horror as he pulled himself to the curb.  I got out of my car and debated being late to get Ian and then even later to the 1st grade parents meeting to head back to the house to get a shovel and do the humane thing. Once home I returned to the scene, but the squirrel was gone.
Felt like a really, really bad person for just leaving.

What's going down this weekend?  Nothing other than pumpkin patchin' it meet up with friends giving us 4 boys to wear down for naps, lots of yardwork, and hopefully spending some time outside with the kids. 


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Date night(s)

Date night.  Remember those?  Had one this calendar year?

Bill and I have made it a priority since Ian was out of babyhood to try and make it out monthly for a dinner not involving stick-on placemats or food on the floor.

Over the summer we linked up with a new babysitter after ours left for college.  We also found out about about a local church that offers Parent Night Out once a month from that both Ian and Ben can attend.

We have a couple of friends that also send their kids so the boys are comfortable knowing others.  Every month we have tried to take advantage and make dinner reservations.  This past weekend we tried a new tapas restaurant in downtown Raleigh.

Can we say that starting the weekend over cocktails and appetizers, followed by steaks and then dessert is sweet. Add that we sat outside and enjoyed the people watching while we lounged on their outside couches on a perfect fall night. We ended with a Krispy Kreme run and where else? Target without the kids!

The crazy thing was that we STARTED the week with a date afternoon to see the IMAX re-release of Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Hello what would have been a great date night in 1981 minus we were both six when originally released. So good! We have plans to see the re-release of E.T. next.  Something tells me we are not going to burn a date night on Breakin' 2, Electric Boogaloo if re-released.

A night of adult conversation, food that no one has to cut for anyone else, and the kids like the care?  Repeat on a monthly basis.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Adventures in fake tanning

So let's talk about a pressing, uber important issue:  Fake tanning

Before you ask really, a whole post about tanning? Well yes because it comes with a story. First off I want to say I'm not a fan of the fake tan.  I don't idolize John Boehner or own a copy of C. Thomas Howell's classic Soul Man.

What I am is vain, and totally admit it.  My relationship with the fake bake shame actually goes back to freshman year sorority rush. My 1993 babydoll dress wearing self opted for some fake tanner just in time to head over to the ADPi house.  Somewhere between more catchy rush songs and hearing how ADPi would change my life I noticed that my ankle was bright orange.  Likely they did too because they cut me that night. 

Their loss. 

Fast forward to recent years where I will admit that while I slather the kids every morning, I'm not always good to put sunscreen on myself.  Yes I know that I am risking skin cancer and in my pushing 40 self and not wanting to look like a piece of luggage have starting trying to use more sunsceen more frequently. Really I am.  

At the start of the summer I bought the blue maxi dress with the intention of wearing it specifically for summer family pictures.  As I was pulling clothes for the boys as well as seeing what Bill had in the way of shirts with buttons, it dawned on me that we had too much pattern and I needed to wear a solid color. I opted for a grey tired skirt, neural Toms wedges, white shirt, and pewter necklace. 

I tried everything on early in the week and realized that any color I still had from summer was gone.  I texted my friend that I know routinely fake tans and asked her opinion and when I would need go before Saturday pictures. 

Let's get to the visit which was indeed an experience in the uncomfortable.  The counter clerk, who was a sweet 16 year old walks me back to go over what to do to avoid being streaky.  She walks me through the positions and she reminds me to keep my eyes closed, mouth shut, and don't forget to wear the shower cap thingy.

I even practice the positions once she leaves feeling stupid as most of these moves seem copied from a TSA manual on the finer selling points of the full body scanner.

For your enjoyment or information for future use:

So I tan, pick up the kids and pass them off to Bill and head back to open house at school.  The tan is suppose to be gradual with full effect within 4-6 hours.  Let's just say that at the start of open house I looked normal, by the end I looked like an extra from West Side Story.

All the way home I'm thinking I need to try and shower off as much as possible but remember that the clerk said over the next 48 hours it would fade a bit and to avoid showering for at least 24 hours or loose most of the tan.  Did I miss something, does this lady not know I love some showering?   So I wait in hopes of some fading.

With in the first 10 mins of the first class, one of my students ask if I had gone fake tanning?  I said yes and asked if it looked even and how fake? The resulting conversation was way more than I ever needed to know about the merits of fake tanning.  She even demonstrated her favorite position for underarms.  Sadly I now have an awkward relationship with her involving fake tanning. 

I'll also add that I forgot to take the surgical tape off my arms from surgery so I have a big long streak of white skin.  When I finally do shower a large section on my leg also seems to wipe away leaving an obvious section on the very legs I was concerned. 

With only a couple of hours until we are meeting for photos I head out and buy the darkest makeup I can find and once home realize while a bit better my leg looks streaky and uneven. 

So what did I learn from all this? 

1.  Why didn't I listen to my inner 18 year old self remembering the orange ankle at the ADPi house?
2.  Fake tanning looks really good on some people (my friend, for example)
3.  The fact that two of the girls in the salon where wearing leather leggings and a size 00 were an indication I am too old to have graced their door. 
4.  I should have stuck with the maxi dress and bought Bill a solid shirt.
5.  I need to get over my vanity. Not likely, but I should work on this character flaw.

I won't even mention that once home I also realized I never put on deodorant. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

The good fight

This has been a post in the making since the start of school three weeks ago, Appropriately this week has unfolded in some ways that has me thinking outloud.

In some kind of silver lining on the cloud of dealing daily with Ben's ADHD,I've become a better teacher.I have spent an enormous amount of time contacting parents with a focus on the large number of students repeating as well as with special education needs in my fall classes. 

Is this to say in the other 12 years of school starts that I didn't reach out early on?  Honestly due to the sheer amount of work especially as a new year starts with close to 100 students the immediacy to make welcome calls gets relegated to the bottom of a long list.

Now having a child in public school, especially one that can be a difficult kid, it's a new filter to see my responsibility to make the time to personally contact parents early. Your child's classroom teacher sees them more awake hours of the day than you do. It is a sobering thought that you want a good match as well as someone you think genuinely has your child's best interest at heart. I want my parents to think of me in that way.

But back to Ben. 

We are three weeks into school with 1 red, 2 yellow and the rest green days.  Good.  Beyond good, amazing and proof that the 12 hour medication he tried over the summer is working.  When he needs to be focused, attentive, cooperative for the bulk of his day it is happening.  Reports from his classroom teacher as well as the afterschool teachers is that he is a different child. 

There is a trade off for improved school behavior. Ben has lost a fair amount of weight due to limited appetite and when he cycles off the medication around the dinnertime/bedtime it often is like jumping off a cliff. 

Bill and I have worked to put some specific behavior interventions in place when a meltdown is especially bad, those that escalate into the hitting, kicking, throwing kind.  The ones where making sure Ian is in a safe place and Ben has room to burn off and regroup also in a safe place. 

Last week Ben fell badly and we are still having to bandage his arm each night to prevent a scar. He was unfazed, didn't get upset at all.  Instead later in the week getting the wrong color cup at dinner set him off.  

What seems so very hard, so very tiring is the unpredictability. Even when I try to anticipate situations and set him up for success, it's still a crapshoot based on if he cycling off that day in a hard way.

Earlier this week he dented his bedroom wall in the throws of a meltdown, first by throwing a book, then punching the wall repeatedly.  All this after he hit me repeatedly after I told him I would not talk to him until he calmed down in his room alone.    

As a parent I cannot tell you how hard it is to watch a meltdown in process, knowing that what coping skills he is learning now will shape and impact him later.  I see kids during their last years in school. I hope that what we are doing now will prevent Ben from developing into a hardened, bitter, angry teenager with a host of issues. 

Bill and I are back to looking into counseling just for Ben with a focus on anger management skills.  As insane as this sounds for a 6 year old we are out of our league with his meltdowns.  I fear that someone is going to be hurt as Ben becomes older and stronger.  Bill and I agreed early on that physical punishment will not be part of our parenting nor accepted in our home by anyone.

This weekend we meeting for annual family pictures at a local park.  As much as I want a great family shot for a Christmas card, more importantly I want something of each son and a parent.  This year, while so good in so many ways, has also tested everything we have as parents.

We will see where all this goes.  Just like so many other issues, you parent through the hard with everything you have in hopes in the long run you were right.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Larry Flynt would be so proud

Busy work week going down so little to report at Casa Vinson outside of insanely beautiful weather.  Like need a convertible and no obligations beautiful.  

I've started letting Ben hang out in the magazine area of the grocery while I check out.  Mostly it's because he wants to "help" bag resulting in crushed bread and broken eggs. 

The other day he asked if he could pick out a magazine and put in the Bear Bucks reward box. Score that he recognized that he could work towards a reward instead of just whining to buy something.  So I said yes, go pick out one magazine. 

Here's what he brought back-

Ben:  "Mom, why does that lady have on spiderwebs on her legs."

Mom:  "It's part of her outfit. I bet her legs are cold. Can you show me a different magazine as I think you have to be double digit age to buy this one."

Ben then returns with this:

Ben: "is he a super hero with all those muscles?"

Mom:  "uh no, that's a real person who likes to exercise. ALOT"  "Ben why don't we walk over and look at magazines together as this also is not one you need to take home."

As we are walking over I'm thinking please don't let the grocery stock Hustler. 

So we settled on this more appropriate selection since he loves airplanes:

Why on the topic of magazines.  I have somehow gotten on the mailing list for
Bass Pro Shop Women's apparel. 

How, God knows?  Remember that once I got on the mailing list for tshirts and knick knacks for cat lovers.  As well as the American Doll magazine.  As well as Guideposts Senior Living.  I credit my mom for all those selections. 

Like I train wreck I have kept it, leafing through to this page when I need a laugh. 

happy (almost) weekend-

Friday, September 7, 2012

An Occasional Friday Series: Project Runway, Summer Edition

With school back in session I'm back into work clothes.  I'm actually putting together a fall list of a few items I'm looking to add. I love, love, love this fall skirt in glen plaid pattern from White House, Black Market.  I can see it paired with boots or flats.  I *might* be convinced to pair it with something other than a black turtleneck.

Over the summer I bought two pairs of wide legged linen pants.  Both became workhorses of my summer wardrobe and are proving to be versatile back in the classroom.   But, my biggest score of the summer were these white jeans from Gap. Thankfully I've been assured I can wear them into fall since I only found them in late July.  Also love this shirt from Gap.  I never found a sleeveless, side tie shirt I liked but I think the gathered neck and bare shoulders looks young (er) on my 37 year old body.

Next up black linen pants and a sheer white burnout shirt with cami underneath.  I paired with a long Kazuri necklace I bought in Kenya in a metallic finish.  LOVE this piece!

Now the reverse, white linen, black thin sweater and red triple strand choker of Kazuri beads.  (uh.. this would be the outfit of first day shame when I paired the pants with black lace underneath.)

In the shoe department I have loved my Toms wedges.  I bought a neutral color and have worn them much of the summer with skirts, cropped jeans, both linen pants.

You know I love some black and white action also in a dress.  Both of these are recycled from a larger size. They fit a little different but still are wearable.

See I can wear some color! 

But hands down the dress I have worn more and loved more than any other outfit is this maxi dress. We have family pictures later in the month and it's making my short list for my outfit.  

Just a note about the beads I mentioned.  I bought three sets of Kazuri beads in Nairobi.  Our team toured the factory where the beads are hand shaped out of clay and then fired with a glossy finish.  The story of how this business was created is pretty cool. 

Also linked on the site is the rolled, paper beads from Uganda that I gave as thank yous for financial support. They are less expensive but equally beautiful, colorful and purchases directly impact women in east Africa.

Check out either if interested.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Sleepwalk With Me

Are you having a craptastic week?  Do you need to laugh outloud?  Feeling a bit stabby today?

I started my morning needing not one but two rolls of paper towels to clean up the mess from the dog over night.  Good times.

So, I got your fix. Watch this.

Did you laugh.  Good.

If not, what is wrong with you? (Just kidding, although we may need to talk about the future of our friendship.)

So if you have never heard of Mike Birbiglia then hear's another treat.  Listen to the original piece that inspired the movie from Episode # 361 Fear of Sleep.

Seriously, it's laugh out loud funny, maybe more that the trailer.  Even more, it's proof that YOU NEED TO BE LISTENING TO THIS AMERICAN LIFE.

I'll quit screaming at you but really, do yourself a favor and quit asking me what it means when I wear this  shirt to work. I'm courting future listeners from my students people!

Just listen.  Do it. If  you want to see it check out if your town is showing it here.  Locally it's playing at the Rialto in Raleigh and the Carolina in Durham starting tomorrow.

I'm going.  Want to go?  Want to laugh your ass off?

My work here is done.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Camp Mommy: Overnight Edition

Bill returned home very late Labor day evening with tales of meeting MacGyver, Gillian Anderson, and oh yes $300 lightsaber that is "battle ready." 

I got nothing on spending any amount of money on himself, so I'm giving him a pass.  After as much help as he's been in the last 8 months for me to travel and recover, I really wanted him to go and have a great weekend.   

Here's what we did while home alone.

Friday night- collapsed in a pizza and movie night haze.  I finished a book and all parties, myself included, went to bed early. 

Saturday- We walked the dog to get Dunkin Doughnuts for the boys (not the dog) then headed over to Marbles kids museum for the morning.  Later that afternoon after Ian refused to take a nap (one of three days of weekend no napping,) we played outside.  I got them to bed and worked on school stuff and watched a movie. 

Sunday- Did church then I drove down to work since the building was open. Big boo, but I am a little more caught up.  Plus the kids can run wild up and down the halls racing cars leaving me to work. 

Later that afternoon we headed over to Durham to the Scrap Exchange.  I've had this on the list of places to visit for the last two summers and finally made it over.  For a kid who routinely scavenges and creates out of the recycle box, Ben hit the motherload in the make it take it room. 

Big plus for the insane amount of variety of recycled items.  For 5 bucks and the ability to get him to agree to leave, he filled a bag with all kinds of materials for our growing, build it box.  I love he is exploring self directed creativity as well as the focus he puts into a project.  Check out that sign, "you are a work of art." Pure awesome.

A huge negative was that it was in an un air conditioned, very dank warehouse. Needless to say we bathed in wipes before heading into downtown for a food truck rodeo.  I told the boys that whatever food anyone wanted we would find as there were 45 vendors parked along the streets of a large park.

The boys opted for hot dogs and popsicles.  I put away a grilled goat cheese, fig with balsamic reduction sandwich, 1/2 order of dumplings and noodle salad, and a mini ice cream.  We also took home a giant bag of kettle corn and very, very full bellies. 

Ben got sick in the night so we did the 2 am bath and bed strip.  I had planned on taking them to the zoo on Labor day.  I left it up to Ben if he felt like going in the morning.  We did after both boys slept in :) 

We checked out the new dinosaur exhibit as well as our usual favorites. Other than meltdowns by Ben at bedtime the boys were really good, played well together, and we had a decent weekend. 

I mean not "battle ready" light saber amazing, but good.