Wednesday, May 10, 2006

FINAL ESSAY

I can't think of a place in the world that would argue that without your senses, all 5 of them, you would be missing a major facet of your life. Millions of people around the world are DYING to experience the little things everyday that I take for absolute granted. I walk down our street with the confidence that I will be able to see and hear oncoming cars. I wake up in the morning to the smell of bacon cooking in the pan, and then I am able to taste every bite. And every day I can touch my kids cheeks without even thinking about the fact that some people don't have that luxury. Then I wonder where my life would be without these things. How would my life be affected by the absence of something, or 5 somethings, that I have always taken for granted? What exactly would I be missing?

It is about 7:30 am, my kids have been sleeping in bed with me since my husband left for work. Every morning I am woken up to the exact same thing. My daughter crawls over to my space and gives me a kiss. Sometimes on the cheek, sometimes on the nose, and sometimes right on the smacker. There is nothing more perfect than starting the day with a voluntary kiss from my girl just because she wants to. And I love it. I look forward to waking up in the morning because I know that when I open my eyes, I am going to see my beautiful smiling girl looking back at me. It is not long before my son wakes up with a goofy smile and jumps right on my stomach, gives me a hug, and says "Good Morning, Mumma. Can we watch a show?" We turn on "Little Einsteins" and I just sit back and watch them both dance and sing to the beat. Sometimes I try to sneak in a couple more minutes of shut eye, but who am I kidding? It doesn't actually work that often. Then I get to thinking... What if I couldn't feel my daughters touch? I wouldn't be able to feel her kiss on my cheek? Would I wake up or sleep right through it? What if I was blind and couldn't see her looking over me when I opened my eyes? Would I know she was there? And if I couldn't see, then my son jumping on my stomach would become a sneak attack...unless I couldn't feel. Then I wouldn't even know he jumped. And to not be able to hear them squeal with delight at the fact that Rocket rescued Annies birthday balloons? Well that would just be a tragedy. I love being able to do these things. I have never thought about not being able to do these things.

After lunch, we take a walk to the ocean. A lot of the time I carry my daughter, but sometimes she walks. After about 15 seconds, the smell of the ocean blasts us. We can hear the waves crash on a windy day. My son loves to go down on the rocks and look for crabs. The seaweed is slimy, but he loves it. We eventually find a whole family of crabs and my son shreiks with laughter when I tell him that they are going to get his toes. He starts jumping up and down and Casey starts laughing at the sight of her brother being foolish. She has been throwing rocks in the water and walks back to me.
"Uup, Uuup" she says. I pick her up and she lays her head on my shoulder. It is time to go home and take a nap. Bryce wants to hold my hand back across the rocks. We climb up the stairs and on to the road. Bryce makes me look both ways (Good boy!!) and then wants me to pick him up, too. I look a little foolish, but I put him on my back and carry her on my hip. A 3 minute walk takes 10, but we make it! They are asleep within minutes of their head hitting the pillow. I look at them resting so peacefully. But I wonder, if I couldn't feel, could I still carry my daughter? Would I know that I was holding my sons hand, besides being able to see that I am? If I couldn't smell, the ocean air would just be air. If I couldn't hear, what would I think when my kids laughed? That they have a nice smile? My "nap"turns in to a time of reflection. Not very restful, but pretty insightful.

Night time is usually a bit busier for us. Funny, because that is when my husband is home. First, we cook dinner. My favorite is when we barbeque on the grill. Anything. Hamburgers, steaks, spareribs. The smell of a barbeque is the smell of summer. And YUMMY. There is nothing more satisfying then the taste of a good burger. We all play outside for a while after dinner. Bryce loves to kick his soccer ball and Casey loves to swing. Sometimes we sit out by our little fire pit and roast marshmallows. Sometimes we take a ride and go get an ice cream cone. It is very relaxing. Bath time follows, then bed time shortly after. Now that it is staying light a lot later, their bedtime seems to have crept up to 8:30, sometimes 9:00. We read a book or 2 and tuck them in. Sometimes we fall asleep when we are tucking them in. I woke up the other night at 11:30. I was up in my sons room. My arm was draped over his side and he was holding my hand. We had both fallen asleep when I was telling him the story of the dinosaurs. Must have been some story. We both conked out. I gave him a kiss and went downstairs. My day was over. But again I think, what if I couldn't have done half of the stuff that we did tonight? I could still be there physically, but the experience wouldn't be the same. Without smell, a barbeque would be just another burger. Without taste, I probably wouldn't eat meat, because meat doesn't look all that appealing. Without feeling, I couldn't kick a ball or push a swing. Without smell and taste, ice cream would be useless. My soft serve twist on a cone would just be a cone. And without ice cream, where would people turn for comfort food?

What do I love? I love the FEEL of holding my kids hands when we are walking to the ocean or carrying them back when they are tired. I love to feel their kisses on my cheek. I love the way it feels to wipe their mouth free from crumbs and I love to feel them jump on my belly first thing in the morning...I love to HEAR their laugh. How innocent and blissful they are. I love to hear "I love you, Mumma". I love to hear them fight and I love to hear them make up. And I love to hear the new words my daughter says everyday...I love to SEE them smile and I love to see the new worms my son finds in the sand box (he is so proud!). I love to see my husbands truck coming down the road at night after work. I love to see the 5 o'clock News at night ( I'm a glutton for punishment)...I love to TASTE dinner and I love the taste of ice cream and marshmallows (not at the same time). I love the taste of water after a jog and I love the way my daughters fingers taste when she is sharing her fruit snacks with me...I love the SMELL of my kids hair after their bath, and I love the smell of a clean diaper (or the absence of a dirty one!) I love the smell of the ocean air and I love the way my husband smells when he has just been cutting trees or brush with his chainsaw (I don't know why, I just do!) All of these things are pretty simple. But they are all things that I would not be able to experience if I was missing one of my senses. My days would be missing something that is so important to me. But they are all things that I have taken for granted. I love the fact that I have the gift of all of my senses. I love my life.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Graf #15-Course Evaluation

PART 1:

What I learned: That I should probably have a journal...I love to write. It is therapeutic and didn't really seem like work after I got a topic in my mind to write about. MOST of the time the words just came out faster than I can type (I can't type worth a toad...) but then there were other times that I wanted to bust my computer out of shear frustration!!

Whether it surprised me in any way: I was very (pleasantly) surpised to learn that it wasn't your ol' high school English...thank goodness. I didn't like my H.S. English class...it was too technical and drab. This made me think about things more real than how to cojugate the 3rd verb in the 2nd paragraph to the nth degree...

Was it worth my time and money? Yes, definitely. Though over the last 15 weeks, I have stayed up 2 hours past my bedtime 2 times a week...losing 4 hours a week for 15 weeks, that is 60 hours of sleep lost in 15 months...and I have never felt better or like less of a mind moosh (sometimes it feels like my brain is made up of potatos and all I can think about is poopy diapers!...Not now though!!)

What was good: Thinking about something other than poopy diapers...growing some brain cells...sweeping out the cob webs of my dead brain cells...realizing that my children CAN entertain themselves for at least a little while...passing the course (!?!?!)

What was not good: The pit I got in my stomach right before I checked the comments on my essays to see if I had to re-write...

Things that should be changed: My socks, my pants, my hairstyle every couple of months, my opinion of English courses from now on...(from bad to good)

Things that should stay the same: my husband (he's a keeper), my morals, and my career goals...and this English course...

Any miscellaneous advice? All joking aside, I loved this course. There wasn't much that I didn't like and not a lot I would change. No, I am not one of those people who can't seem to form my own opinions, I just really did like the course. I had to work hard at it, and some nights when I woke up in the middle of the night, I would not be able to get back to sleep because I was thinking about what my next essay should be about, but I liked that. Before this course, and before I realized what I wanted to do with my (professional) life, I was just kind of floating along. Since realizing what career path I wanted to take, things are kind of opening up for me. This was the first course that I took since "going back to school", and if the beginning is any indication of the end, then I should have a pretty good time of this whole school thing.

Part 2:

I liked writing the prompt "These fists have got pow-pow-power!!" because it was a prompt that I had no idea what I was going to write about before I sat down to the computer, it all just kind of came out when I started punching the keys. My kids are my world and if anything ever happened to them, I would not be a portion of the person that I am right now. If my hands (right or left) can possibly prevent it, then nothing will ever happen to them. Whatever it takes is whatever I will do to protect them from anything that could hurt them. And that is what this prompt helped me to write about.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Prompt Reaction Week #15

3. Something Weird...

A dandelion in the middle of winter, poking through the snow...
My car door locks by itself...
Our kids will sleep until 8 am when they are sleeping in our bed, but only until 5:30 when sleeping in theirs...
The color chartreuse...
The WORD chartreuse...
The DOODLEBOPS...
The Catepillars with soft, spikeys on their backs...
When you stare at a word for long enough, it doesn't even look like it is supposed to be a word...
The fact that all M&M's taste the same regardless of their color...
Bald Eagles aren't really bald at all...
Ants can carry about 100 times their weight...all for the love of food...
I hate chocolate and I despise milk, but I LOVE chocolate milk...
The ocean can carry the most beautiful and most repulsive smell, all within 4 hours of each other...
Flying squirrels don't really fly, they glide...
My kids hate vegetables, but they will both eat broccoli...
Liver...its smell, its taste, and consistency...all weird, weird, weird...

Freestyle Week #15

Week #15, huh? 15 weeks of making my mind think of things that I haven't thought about for 15 years. 15 weeks of thinking of something other than just my kids. 15 weeks of writing more than I have written since my senior year in high school. 15 weeks of staying up after my kids go to bed so I can think without having to think about anything else. 15 weeks of letting strangers hear (read) my stories, and they no longer feel like strangers...strange, because I have never even met them before. 15 weeks seemed to go by pretty quickly, just to start a new class in a couple of weeks. What a long, strange trip it's been...but a good one to say the least!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Practice Final Essay

I hate accessories! From the time I was little, I was never the type of girl to wear lots of jewelry, have expensive clothes, closets full of shoes, and bling-bling on my cell phone cover. I don't carry my mini-mut dog in my $1,000 purse (or do they call it a handbag?) and I don't take hours to get dressed and do my hair and make-up in the morning. I used to envy the girls who had all the "stuff". I used to say that someday when I could afford it, I would have all of it. Now that I can afford all the "stuff", my views have changed and the stuff doesn't seem as important to me as it once used to. Now the handbags and cellphones, cars, and houses just don't take the front seat on my wish list like they once used to. Now I think I am grown up enough to realize that it is not the accessories that make or break your life. Accessories don't define my status. They don't make me friends. And they don't define who I have become as an adult.

Some people want nice things. A lot of times that leads to the assumption that ones life is better than mine because they have more/nicer things. I once was the kind of girl that wanted the $1,000 handbag. Or at least, I wanted to be that girl who seemed to have it all. There was a girl at my high school like this. We were on the soccer team together. I always envied her. She always had the nice stuff. Great clothes, her hair always freshly highlighted, never a root showing. She also had a cell phone before people carried cell phones. When I was carrying around my soccer ball on school spirit day saying it brought me luck, she was carrying around her Prada handbag saying that she couldn't live without it. She was the kind of girl that loved the boys and traded them in every couple of months for a newer model. I always saw her as someone I wanted to be. Not because of the way she acted, because quite frankly, her attitude wasn't all that appealing. I wanted to be like her because she always looked good and she always had the latest stuff, trends, and fashions. Unfortunately, to a girl in high school, that is a big deal. Fast forward a couple of years to the present though, and it turns out that all that stuff never really gained her all that much after all. I ran in to her in a gym about a year ago, and it seemed that nothing had changed. She had the best workout clothes on and was wearing all her jewelry. She was on the treadmill and not a drop of sweat bothered her forehead. How did she do it? When we actually got to talking though, it was only then that I realized that the stuff you carry and wear has no bearing on the kind of person you become. She was going through a divorce and was trying to get money out of her husband because she didn't work. I don't think that she knew how to. She said that she hadn't talked to any of her friends in high school since high school because their lives just when in a different direction than hers. She looked sad and worn down but still her makeup was perfectly in place. I could tell she was lonely because she just kept on talking. She asked about me. I mentioned that I was married with 2 kids and worked at the daycare that my kids go to. She quickly changed the subject back to her and said that she has never worked a day in her life and never will if she has anything to say about it. We left at the same time. She grabbed her Prada "gym bag" and I grabbed mine from Walmart donned with some baby formula and cookie crumbs. She got in her $40,000 car and I got in my...car. I always thought that I wanted to be like her. And that I would have given anything to be like her. That her life must be so amazing because she had all the "stuff". Now there is nothing that I would give to be like her.

Some people want nice houses. And in those houses they want the nicest things. And believe me, I want a nice house. I have a nice house. But mine is a different kind of nice. Some of the things within my house are alittle dinged up. There happens to be a mural on the bathroom wall from when our son was experimenting with his new crayons. Some people, though treat their house like a temple. They see a 3 year olds fingerprints as a hassle and a toddlers dinner crumbs as a nuisance. Especially because those dinner crumbs might land on their expensive kitchen furniture. I see fingerprints on windows as a celebration. Yes, I have to work a lot harder than some to keep my house clean and sometimes, I am just too tired to keep up with my kids activity levels and staying on top of the laundry. Some people would see toys on the floor and scoff. I see toys on the floor as a learning tool to teach my kids to help with chores. Some people are appauled at the sight of dust. Dust in our house is a way of life. Somewhat of an "accessory". Everyone has different views, I understand. And when someone has worked all of their life for the nice things, I understand that they want things their way. But when it starts to interfere with enjoying your family because you are too worried about having to clean up afterwards, then maybe one should re-evaluate what is truly important. I recently heard someone say that they could have all of the nicest things. Great cars, the biggest best homes and all the gadgets. But in 20 years after you have raised your kids, your house isn't going to hug you back, and neither will your kids if you so choose to burn those bridges because of the simple fact that you don't want a stain on your expensive area carpet or a ding in your wall. Accessories aren't going to be there for me when I need a shoulder to cry on. My family will.

Some people want the nicest cars. I don't know if these people have looked at the gas prices lately, but maybe biggest isn't the best way to go right now. My economical little car got us all the way to Boston and half of the way back without another fill-up. Some of the cars that I saw down there couldn't possibly get them down the street they live on without a fill-up. And these nice cars still break down like all the rest. The owners of these cars probably just don't have them for long enough to get to that point. I saw one car down in Boston that while it was very nice, it probably costs more than the house that we live in. Why? These people make more money in a year than I will make in my lifetime. I know that they have to spend it somehow. I can just think of a million better things to spend it on than the gas to get them there.

In the end, accessories are fine. So many people, though, let accessories define who they are. I have nice things. I have a happy life. I have a nice house and a nice car. But my things aren't so nice that I have a panic attack when I see my kids enter the house and I don't worry about our daughter getting some of her ice cream cone on her car seat as it melts down her arms. I take care of my things and I don't take them for granted, but I don't let it define who I am. The things that make me me have nothing to do with the kind of cell phone that I carry. They don't have anything to do with the clothes I wear. It gives me more pleasure to see my kids in a cute little outfit. And besides, whenever I try to wear something cute, someone spills, poops, or throws up on it...no fail. I don't let it bother me. I don't crumble in to pieces. I just simply buy extra laundry detergent. I don't fret about fingerprints on the french doors. I just buy extra Windex and I get to it when I get to it. Accesories are nice. They can make me feel good. But I am not me because of them.

Freestyle Week #14

The Red Sox and Yankees...
Arguably the Earths most heated rivalry. They lived up to the hype on Monday. There could not have been a more perfect day than Monday. We woke up in our hotel room just as early as if we were home. Why sleep in? We wanted to get this day underway!! We walked around and decided to go to Fenway early to get our memorabilia so we could bring it to the car and not carry it around all day. After disposing of our bags in the car. We went right back to Fenway. It was only 11:00, but who cares? THe town was already buzzing with excitement. It was like it was a holiday. We went to the Cask 'n Flagon for lunch. Yummy. We sat by some Yankees fans. Funny, they were nice! By the time we left the restaurant, we walked down to the end of the street that Tom Caron and Dennis Eckersley do their commentary for NESN. We saw Curt Schilling drive in in his Maserati. Jason Varitek in his Land Cruiser. And Big Poppy in his decked out Hummer. His autograpgh was on the drivers side door and the #34 was enblazed in his rims. Nice. By that time it was 3:00. The skies were starting to cloud, but no worries! We took a tour of Fenway. Pretty neat. But as we were walking back down the street, we noticed this BIG group of people coming the other way on the same side of the street. Leading the pack was A-Rod. Walking down the street like a normal. He was close enough to touch and we made eye contact! Neat. A little tid bit I wont soon forget!!
The game was unreal. It couldn't have been scripted any better. Doug Mirabelli got introduced in the starting line-up and the place went WILD! He had just made it minutes before game time. Now Wakefield has a fighting chance to pitch a great game! Yaay! Lonestar sang the National Anthem. It was freezing cold. The biggest toughest men in the park were covered in fleece blankets. Johnny Damon was back in town and got booed incessantly until he tipped his cap and a few of the boos turned to applause. The Red Sox got a run (!!), the Yankees got 3 (@$%#!). The Red Sox came back and tied it and then went ahead by one! Not enough for people to relax, though. Bottom of the 8th. Two men on and Big Flippin' Poppy steps up to the plate and smashes one in to the bullpen!! The crowd went WILD, and all Damon could do was watch it go!! The crowd screamed and cheered for minutes. Strangers were hugging strangers. There was not a silent seat in the house. Ortiz did it again. The man is amazing. A baseball hero...especially that night. Pappelbon came in the 9th to close down the side and close out the game. Then it started to rain...
My voice is still hoarse. In fact it is a little worse today than yesterday. WE drove directly home after the game. We got home at 3:00 to our babies sleeping soundly. Woke up at 6:30 to our babies jumping all over us in excitement. We were home. Our weekend couldn't have been any better! And yes, there is a Starbucks on every corner!!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Prompt Week#14

Jesus Loves Me...
This I know, for the Red Sox game told me so...So this is going to sound trite to anyone even vaguely religious or those sitting on the fence about religion. And even at the same time I say this, I believe what I believe about religion (no need to go any further than that) and I believe that Jesus loves Me. With all the bad going on in the world, all of the chaos of daily living, and how the world just seems to spin out of control sometimes, wouldn't it be nice to just have something truly work out in my favor? We have been watching the weather all week, starting at the earliest point that I could...10 days ago. It showed rain showers for Monday (last night), especially Monday night, all week. Being that the Red Sox/Yankees game started at 7:05 pm, the chances of a rain out, or at least mega-delays looked inevitable. Knowing that we paid more money than we probably should have for these golden tickets, (and yes...I would do it all over again), we were bummed. But we trudged on. Our Sunday was beautiful. We ate too much, talked to much, and drank a few brews with dinner. It was nice. Monday was GORGEOUS...maybe Mr. Weatherman screwed it up!! 3:00 came though, and it started to cloud up. "NO GOD, please let the rain just hold off...please, please, please!! I will do anything, just let the rain hold off!" It started to get very windy. Very windy at times, and COLD!! No need to try to dress up for this one, just get WARM! 5:00 came and the skies were slowly, but progressively getting darker. 7:05 game time, we are still okay. Then this happened and that, and man, I can't forget THAT (details of the game in the freestyle...), and at 10:15 the game ended in grand style. And at 10:17, it started to rain! The rain actually held off!! What a perfect ending to a perfect game!!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Essay #6-Effect

To work or not to work...That is the eternal question on every new mothers mind, and I was no different. I wanted so desperately to stay home with my new little rugrat when he was born and hold him, love him, and spoil him ALL day long, but I ended up going back to work when he was 6 weeks old. When our daughter was born, I went back to work when she was 3 weeks old (RElax...I brought her with me!) I never got to stay home with them until now that they are a little bit older. And even though I still work, it is only 20 hours a week and at night after my husband gets home. So essentially, I am a stay-at-home-during-the most-important-part-of-their-day Mommy. And I love it. But believe me, there are huge benefits to working, too! Even for that 6 weeks and 3 weeks that I was out after our kids were born we felt the pinch of me being home. I can't imagine not having any income at all...

The first effect that me working has on us is relaxation from the fact that we can pay our mortgage on time. A "home" without a house to grow that home in is awkward to say the least. And our bank likes us. It is always good to stay on the right side of the bank. I have to admit, me working takes a lot of stress of my husband to pay all of the bills, and we seem to have more bills than the average Joe. I get to pay a chunk of them and keep our home heated...heat is good. So is a hot shower! And a happy husband. And the fact that he doesn't have to have a panic attack everytime a bill is due is an immediate effect of me working.

Another effect of me having a job to bring some income in is that we get to eat. A life without food is, well, empty. And I am one of those people that when I am hungry, I get irritable, when I am irritable, watch out! So we get to buy groceries knowing that the mortgage is paid, and the banks aren't going to repo our cars. We go shopping and we get what we want to eat. It is nice. We even get to make desserts. If my husbands were the only income then shopping for even food would be a task, and something to add stress. We in this house do not like stress and do not do well with it. An absence of (undue) stress is yet another effect of me working.

Lastly, by me working, we get to do some fun things without taking out a home equity loan or maxing out our credit cards to fund these fun things. Case and point. We get to go see the Red Sox and Yankees play ball in the best park in the history of baseball. And the only thing that we are worried about is our kids tearing down my sisters house when we are gone. And the Yankees winning...we are a little worried about that. But finances we are not because we have been able to save some money to take this fun trip without the kids (our first fun trip since before our daughter was born). We are going to go eat, sleep, and talk without interruption for 48 hours. We are going to go to the park and eat hotdogs, pretzels, and maybe even drink a (gasp!) beer without having to keep one eye on the game and one eye on our kids. We will be able to relax while screaming at those damn Yankees to go home. If it were not for me working, we would not be able to do these things because we would not be able to save. We would have to rob from our other bills and then stress about it when we got back. You can't truly relax if you know that you are coming home to a mound of stress...can you? Doing the fun things is one more effect felt by me having a job.

Every mother ponders the question at one point or another. Can we afford for me to stay home? For us the answer was no. Not completely anyways. So I am working. And we are comfortable and happy and don't have a lot of stress. Stress kills. We don't like that feeling. And though we can pay all of our bills and pay them on time, I may have to get a second job so we can afford enough gas to get me to my first job. We are still working out the kinks...
By me working, we get to eat, and we get to play. I guess there are three overall effects of me working. We get to relax, breath easy, and have fun. And that works for us.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Freestyle Week #13

The Yankees are coming...THE YANKEES ARE COMING!! To Boston that is!! And we are going to be there to see it all, baby!! Monday May 1st, the first meeting of the season between the two, and I am going to be there!! I can hardly believe it!! We have been to our share of games, but never against the Yankees and never with Johnny Damon playing for the dark side!! It is going to be WILD! The popcorn, the lights, the Fenway Franks!! The masses of crazy fans on the verge of insanity! And I am going to be there. The countdown has begun, and I have already put the 10 day weather forecast for Boston on my Favorites List!! So far, so good!! In 7 days, we will be in the middle of the chaos and loving every minute of it...To Be Continued!!

Prompt Reaction Week #13

April Fools X30
It was April Fools' Day. The year...well, I can't remember. But it was long enough ago. I was in 4th grade, my sister in 1st. We were waiting out by the road waiting for the bus, plotting how we could get our friends good on this "foolish" day. It had been snowing lightly, but we were unphased. The bus seemed to be late that day, but we thought it was because we got out there so early out of excitement. It had started to snow harder, so we went inside to get warm. Our dad told us to wait a little longer, the bus would be along. We trusted him, why wouldn't we? Ww knew that we could give pranks on this day, but never did we think we would get one (not like this anyways!) 10 minutes later, the snow was coming in blankets and sheets. No wonder the bus was late. At that point, our dad came out of ther garage in his van, warm and cozy. We were freezing our tooshies off. He said only this..."Gosh guys, school was cancelled over an hour ago, you should really get inside before you get cold!!" We could still hear him laughing as he drove down the road! April Fools Day to us!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Prompt Reaction Week #12

54. Headin' down the highway...looking for adventure...
It was the summer between my junior and senior years. My best friends had all just graduated leaving me to fend off senior year by myself. My friends were the coolest, bestest, most amazing friends ever. One night they decided that they were going to go driving around at 2:00 am and wanted me to go with them. Of course this means that I would have to sneak out. So I thought I would be "clever" and ask Mom and Dad if I could set up the tent in the back yard and sleep there that night. They said yes and so the process started. My friends came early and tiptoed out back to wrap on my tent and off we went. We drove all around. We didn't do anything, we didn't get in to trouble, we just drove. And talked. And laughed. As we were going down the road, this song came on the radio. Of course, they all had to sing it at the top of their lungs and I was just laughing. A little Subaru wagon busting down the road with four kids inside singing "Born to be Wild" in every key but the right one. This was one of those times that I wish I could have been a fly on the wall to just take it all in and not forget a single detail, but instead I was right there in the middle of things belting it all out. I am sure that maybe I forgot a few of the details, but I have the most important parts of it etched in my memory. I got home that "night" right as it was starting to get light out. The dew on the grass left my footprints as I tried to race across the yard and passed my parents window. I got back to the tent and got maybe 1/2 hour of sleep between the time I settled down and the time my parents woke me up. I went inside the house and sat on the couch. My dad looked at me and said, "Ya know, I could have sworn that I heard voices out back last night, do you know anything about that?" He was smiling at me...I guess parents really do know all!!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Freestyle Week #12

Son-of-a lovin-gun...I hate my computer...I hate it, I hate it, I hate it! Never have I had anything make me feel so utterly stupid in all of my life. Well...one person made me feel that way once (utterly stupid, that is!) so I punched them in the nose. But because I am at the flippin' mercy of this g-d computer, I cannot punch it, I cannot yell at it ( I will wake up my kids), and I cannot hit it with the biggest sledge hammer I can find. So instead, I am going to go eat the BIGGEST bowl of Strawberry Ice Cream that my belly has ever had the pleasure of over indulging in, then I am going to go cry (in the bathroom with a towel over my face...so my kids don't wake up and think I am a lunatic...oh, what they don't know!), then I am going to go to bed. I will wake up tomorrow with a brighter outlook (because it doesn't get much darker than it is right now) and I will try this thing again. Oh, but have I mentioned how much I hate my computer?

ISEARCH FIRST DRAFT

BACKGROUND

April 18th, 2002
Found out I was pregnant today!! It's about time! I am SO excited! I can't wait for him or her to come! I wonder what it will be...boy or girl...blue or pink? I wonder if I will be a good mom. Afterall, I have heard that in order to have a good kid, they need to have a good parent.

January 8, 2003-
HE'S HERE!! Our not so little bundle of joy came today at 7:58 pm. Holding him is like holding the world in my arms! But why am I so nervous? I am supposed to be so ecstatic. I am, but I think that I am just as scared that this little boys entire life is in my hands (literally and figuratively). What if I mess up? What if I don't do things right? I wonder what it takes to raise a good kid, I mean a REALLY good kid. I wonder if I should start reading those instructional books by the authors who are parents who seem to know all the answers. I wonder if they have "Parenting for Dummies"? Sounds like a good place to start! I wonder if we will have ANOTHER one?

October 8, 2003-
Well, my husband finally convinced me that we should have another child. Things are going so well with Bryce. He is a really good baby. Full of life and personality. He makes us laugh everyday. We don't want another one tomorrow or anything, but I think that we are going to at least start thinking about it.March 6, 2004-Found out I was pregnant today! So much for waiting a while. But things are going so well, why wait? This parenting thing has been an easier transition than I thought. Bryce will be a great big brother. He is such a kind little boy. He is 14 months so that will make him about 22 months when the new baby is born. I wonder how having a sibling will affect him? I wonder if the new baby will be just like him?

October 28, 2004-
SHE'S HERE!! Our tiny little peanut arrived today at 9:41 am. Bryce came to the hospital to see her. He gave her a BIG hug...probably a little TOO big, but she didn't seem to mind! She opened her eyes when she heard his voice! Casey already seems to be a little different than Bryce. More relaxed. God, I hope I can do this. I know that I am a good parent to one child, but now I have to divide my time. Give them both enough individual attention while making sure they know how important they are to each other. I wonder if Bryce will love Casey as much after he realizes that she is staying. I wonder if he will be jealous or if he will want to be around her all the time. I wonder if I can raise two really great kids...

WHY I AM WRITING

February 26th, 2006
The reason why I am choosing to do my isearch paper on my kids and raising them to be the best kids that they can be is because they came in to this world trusting me. Everyday, they put their lives in my hands hoping that I don't mess up. I know that I am a good mom, but sometimes I just want to sit down and cry because I just don't know if I am doing the right things to help them to grow in to good little people. I know that I am a good mom, but I am not blind to the fact that there are always things that I could work on. It is hard being a kid. And I want to make their learning processes as pain free as possible. So, I figure, why not make it official and start actively looking for the answers to my questions. These are questions that have been brewing in my mind for a variety of reasons over the last three years.

August 19, 2005
I got done working at the daycare today. It has been two years that we ( I bring my kids with me) have been there and I think that it was time for a change. I FINALLY get the chance to stay at home (for the most part) with them and now I have CONSTANT guilt that they are not around enough kids like they used to be. When they were in daycare, I worried that they were not getting enough quality time with me. Now that I am home with them, I feel guilty that they do not have 20 friends to play with everyday. HELP!!!
  • When should I really start concentrating on social development outside of the home?

  • Am I hindering their social development by not putting them in playgroups, or is it enough for right now that they have each other?

November 15, 2005
I think that I am just realizing that Bryce and Casey are two completely different beings. Sometimes I feel like they only thing they have in common is that they were grown in the same belly. I am still feeling guilt, but now it is because this discipline thing is HARD!! I feel like I spent more time with Bryce when he was going through his little trials because he was our only one. Now that we have two, I feel like I cannot spend as much quality time with Casey because life is now more of a juggling act. I am trying to kiss a scrape on Bryces knee while cleaning up the poop that just exploded up Casey's back. I feel like I am shortchanging Bryce because his time is now divided and I feel like I am shortchanging Casey because she never had that time. Sometimes I find myself comparing the two, but how can you fairly compare night and day?

How much does the simple difference that one is a boy and one is a girl matter on their personality? On their attitudes? On the things they like and don't like?

  • What is true of Nature vs. Nurture? I know that all kids are born with a certain disposition (Nature), but how much does my influences (Nurture) have an impact on those qualities that they are already born with?
  • How much does birth order affect their individual personalities? Attitudes?
  • Should I be disciplining Bryce and Casey the same way even though they are two totally different people?
January 27, 2006
They always act so much different around other people. Not in a bad way necessarily, but they really try to push the envelope when they are at Grammy and Grampy's house. New people, new things to get away with?


  • How much does it matter that outside influences (grandparents, babysitters) "parent" in the same way that I do? Does it help them to know that the rules are going to be the same no matter where they go?
February 26, 2006
Think that I will go work on my isearch some more. Lots of questions. A good kid starts with a good role model and a good role model HAS to know that a little help never hurt anyone!!

WHAT I KNOW

What I know about raising my kids to be the best kids that they could possibly be? I know all and I know nothing, depending on the day. Somedays, especially when things are really working and going smoothly, I am convinced that I could run a nation. On the not so hot days, changing a simple diaper confuses me. No point in taking over a nation on THOSE days.

What I know about my childrens socialization?
I know that when they had 20 kids to play with everyday in daycare, they played primarily with me. Now that they are no longer in daycare, I bring them to a playgroup thinking that they would be more than eager to leave Mumma's side for a bit and "chat" with little people their age. And who do they insist on playing with? Me! So either I have two mega-attached kids with a terrible case of separation anxiety, OR, maybe in the first couple of years of a childs life, it's not the quantity of kids to play with that matters, it is the quality of their interactions between people they choose ( and are made) to be around. Hmmm...

What I know about discipline?
I know that there is nothing more frustrating...or rewarding, than disciplining my children. I know that disciplining my three year old not only depends on the day, but the exact hour that we are in. A strategy that worked gloriously for me only minutes before (and made me beam with delight) may need to be thrown out the window only seconds later (and make me cry like a baby). With my 16 month old, the methods that worked well with Bryce when he was her age, don't work quite as well on Casey. She is new to this discipline thing, so consistency and follow through is key. When they both decide to have a tissy fit at the same time, we divide and conquer. My husband takes one and I take the other to calm them down separately and figure things out. This works. I did have someone say to me once (and sadly, I quote) "In order for me to respect a child, they need to show ME respect first and foremost!" What a bunch of hodge-podge, backwards thinking, holier than thou, I-walk-on-water-and-you-don't BULLSHIT! I have never felt more disgust towards a statement than that one. How can a child show you something that they are not being shown? She obviously never heard the phrase "lead by example". Maybe THAT is why I don't work for the lunatic at her daycare anymore...Hmmm...

I don't know a lot about birth order. I do know that my children are as different from each other as peas and carrots (or fire and water on some days). I don't know if it is because one is a boy and one is a girl. Or if it is because one was born first and one was born last. Or if it is just because. This should be fun.

I know that when they are in other places, we have to work just a wee bit harder than usual to keep them in check. My kids are explorers. They like to touch things, they like to see how things work (or how things break...) They like to climb and they like to jump. They know the boundaries at their own house, but when they are at Grammy and Grampys, or a friends house, or wherever, it takes some experimentation (and sometimes some discipline) to see where their boundaries are. They are fast learners and they listen well (most of the time, of course) so this is okay with me, too.

Finally, I know that I am CRAZY about my kids. I know that they are not perfect, but to me, they are a perfect 3 year old boy and a perfect 16 month old girl. I know they do all the things that kids their age are supposed to do (fits and tantrums included). I know they are the first to check on someone who is hurt and the first to kiss a baby when it is crying. I know that they are going to test their limits and push their boundaries. I know that they will not always choose right over wrong. And I know that it is up to me as their mommy to make sure they are guided in the right direction and to guide them with constant respect and encouragement. Because afterall, a child cannot show something that they are not being shown!

THE SEARCH

February 27th, 2006
Today was a great day. We went to a playgroup at the YMCA and the kids had a good time. They actually played with some other kids for about 30 seconds, too, which is longer than in the past. I think that I will go look online to see what they say about social interaction in kids. I also just read in a PARENTS MAGAZINE that socialization in children is SO important to many different areas of their lives, including self confidence. I have been watching the way other mothers interact with their children, too. This has been very helpful as a comparison tool for me in my research.

March 6, 2006
I have this book called "What Kids Need Most in a Mom". I have been reading it a lot lately. It gives a lot of good advice and actually has been a calming tool for me. This book has been super helpful and I will be using it a lot in my research.

March 11, 2006
My boy and my girl are polar opposites. I wonder why. I looked online at some websites today that explored differences between boys and girls. A couple of the sites I found said that a boys and girls brains are different from each other. I have also been reading some articles on the subject. Also in PARENTS MAGAZINE. It is insightful. I also talked to my mom today about what she thought about birth order. She has 4 girls. Most of the websites I found about birth order are interesting, but some are much too scientific and mumbo jumbo for me. My mom had much more to say about the topic that I could use. Though she did say that my sisters and I seem to go against the grain. I did find a site that was helpful for me to look at my kids birth order in figuring out their personalities, too. It turns out they go a bit against the grain, too. Wonder if its hereditary!!

April 2nd, 2006
We went to my parents today for my birthday. They did a great job. I like to watch the way they interact with others and if they listen to other adults like they listen to me, so I just sat back for a lot of the day and watched them with other people. This helped a lot in piecing together how and why they act differently around other people. I learned a lot today.

Overall, I have mostly used websites for information. There is a lot of information out there in lala land! The books and people resources that I have used along with the magazines, too, have been a big help. The research has been a lot of fun and I am looking forward to using some of what I learned to see if it works with my kids.

THE ANSWER

Questions, questions, questions...and ANSWERS!! First of all, in the grand scheme of things, every child is different no matter what. Whether it be nature, nurture, or a slew of other factors. As a parent, I worry about a lot. Mostly, whether I am being fair and balanced in my parenting. I want to do the right things for them. I am the one that they look to for guidance and support.

When should I really start concentrating on social development?
First of all, social development is not just playdates with every kid in town that is my childs age(Thank God!). It started from the minute my children were born. Interaction between humans is social. Threrefore, interaction with Mommy and Daddy is social. This means that "social" has been from day one. And the quality of interaction is what the child is yearning for the most. So in the first few years of life, my children learn the most from me. Of course, there is many different facets of a childs life, and while Mommy ans Daddy are going to teach a child a good base of rules and morals, that alone does not always give the child an outlet to experiment with what they have learned. Parent Center says that playing with friends is an important way for children to learn how to use the rules that they have learned such as sharing and taking turns. There is no point in teaching a child to take turns if there is no way to demonstrate what taking turns means. Playing with other children who are trying to learn the same things is quite often the best way to teach a child. Bryce and Casey have a definite advantage in this area. They are very close in age. Close enough so that everything they are learning, they are learning together. It is hard to rationalize with an 18 month old why they should share, but after seeing it and hearing it often enough, they start to get the picture. Casey is now quite good at taking turns because she has always had to do it. Her brother was at the point when she was born that we were really trying to teach him the benefit of sharing, so this has always been something that Casey has heard. This has helped her learn even faster that this is what she is supposed to do. Of course, it isn't always perfect either, but children also learn from their mistakes...

Am I hindering their social development by not putting them in a playgroup when I am essentially a stay at home Mom, knowing that this will be their primary form of social time with kids their age?
Of course, there comes a time that Mumma needs to swallow her pride and maybe bring my children to one of these (gasp!) playgroups. Bryce and Casey are rather outgoing as kids go. They are not overly shy, but they like to make sure that I am in sight. This is a healthy thing for them to do. Babycenter gave some suggestions for getting in to the swing of the playgroup thing. They suggest to keep playtimes short and small. And to get involved in my childs play, too. This will help to get the kids comfortable with each other knowing that there is also an adult around for support. The more they see kids on a fairly regualr basis, the more comfortable they will become with venturing out on their own and me keeping a distance. And if I don't expect perfection from my kids, then chances are, things will be just fine!! So I took them to one of these playgroups. The same one every week for a month. The first wee, they wanted nothing to do with the other kids, in fact I am not sure my kids even realized that other kids existed. But I took them out in the middle of the big gym floor and played NEAR other kids. The next week, some of the other kids joined in. By the 4th week the kids were playing together without me being right by their side to monitor every move they made. I got to relax and talk to some people, and they got to run around freely and really looked like they were enjoying themselves. BOTH of them!!

How much does the simple difference of Bryce being a boy and Casey being a girl have on their personality? Attitudes?
Boys and girls are as different as night and day, the sun and the moon, peanut butter and jelly...take your pick. I have always been able to describe Bryces personality, but when it comes to Casey, she baffles me. She is as complex as they get. I don't think that it is because one is a boy and one a girl. I think that it just is. I have read in Parents Magazine that one reason for the difference in the sexes is that boys and girls brains are much different. A girls verbal brain develops quicker than boys and this is why girls usually start taking sooner. This was not the case for us. Bryce talked VERY early. Casey is catching up, but he definitely had more words than she does at the same age. Boys spacial perception is bigger, making them better at geometric things. The spacial thing also seems to propel boys towards things that move like cars and balls. One thing that I know for sure. Bryce and Casey are not as different as I once thought. I don't know if it is because Casey just has such a strong yearning to do everything that Bryce does, but she likes to play with dinosaurs just as much as he does (and I bought her 3 dolls for Christmas!) she just bee lined to the Dinosaur Castle because that is where he was. She LOVES balls and LOVES it when Daddy tries to help her play golf. Girls brains are bigger in the area that controls emotion and empathy. Making them better able to predict other peoples feelings. Both of my kids are very empathetic. They stand at full attention when their baby cousin cries. Bryce is just as apt as Casey to go kiss the baby and see if everything is okay. The article also states that because girls are sharper at empathy and takes in what goes in around them, they are more to anticipate the consequences of their actions. We'll see about that!! It is probably true that parents affect a lot, if not all, of early gender behavior. Men don't want to see their boys do gymnastics and Mommys want to put pigtails in their daughters hair. A lot of times when littler girls back away from a challenge, parents don't push her to follow through, as also stated in Parents Magazine by William Doherty, Ph.D. When parents don't encourage their daughter to fight harder to fulfill that physical challenge, it is subtly reinforcing to the girl that she doesn't have to do it. Without that push, girls start to back away from more and more that could physically challenge them, giving boys a much bigger advantage. And this is one advantage that parents could help their girl to bridge the gap by pushing her to try her hardest at those physical endeavors. We try to push Casey to finish anything that she starts, whether we think that she will be able to do it or not. She loves to climb, but can't always reach the peak. The more we encourage her to keep on trying, the harder she tries. WHen she actually accomplishes what she is trying to do, the light in her eyes just glistens. She could not be more proud of herself!!
What I am trying to say is that I do believe that girls and boys brains may be different, but that doesn't mean that all girls will like to play Barbie dolls and dress up. Casey likes to jump and dive just like Bryce does. He is a cuddle monkey just like she is. It may just have to do with a childs environment, too. It would be impossible to fairly compare boys and girls without taking in to account the environment that each is brought up in. What they are surrounded by and what they are used to seeing happen. I have tried to get Casey to play with her dolls, but she just isn't interested, so out to play golf we go!! And I have tried to get Bryce to like other colors besides pink, though he is starting to say that green is now his favorite, he still loves pink, so I make sure he has a pink crayon, too. That is my kids, that is who they are and I love it.

What is true of Nature vs. Nurture?
Nurture is refered to the care given by parents, but can also involve environmental factors, such as a childs friends, early experiences with T.V., and a babys experience in utero. Parents are the key to a childs intellectual development in the care and education they provide. Every child is born with a predetermined set of genes, but every being also has the ability to make their own decisions. Take for instance four boys raised in EXACTLY the same environment. They all had the same mother and father (instead of any of them being step brothers), they all grew up in the same houses, and they all knew the same people. This would mean that they were all nurtured in the same kinds of ways. They grew up with the same sets of rules and the parents made sure that those rules were inforced. This is the nurture end of the arguement. All of the boys should have grown up quite similarly. Both the parents are very hard workers. Very kind people, they don't expect anything handed to them and they appreciate everything they have. This sounds like a good hard working environmet, right? Well each of these boys birthed and raised from the exact same parents all turned out very differently. This is where the nature part of the arguement comes in. Each boy had the power to make his own decisions. Three of them are very hard workers, while two of those 3 like to have nice things to show for their work. The other 1 of the 3 works hard and just kind of makes due with what he's got. He is satisfied for his house to be shelter and not much more, and that is okay if that is what he wants. The last of the 4 boys (the 2nd youngest) does nothing. Literally. He collects welfare from the state and REFUSES to get a job because that welfare would be taken away. He has 5 children and only sees 4 of them. One of those four is in the custody of his grandparents and the other 3 "live" with their father. He does nothing to try to make their life more comfortable, and if it came to a pair of sneakers for the kids or cigarettes, he would buy the cigarettes and ask his parents for more money for the sneakers. This proves to me that no matter what a set of childrens nurture, they can choose for themselves exactly what they want their life to be...nature.Just because their direct relative robbed a bank, doesn't mean that they are doomed to do the same thing. As a parent nurtures their child, they show them the ways that they expect the child to act. This is where it is so important to lead by example. If we don't want our kids swearing at the Red Sox, then we might not want to either (no matter how tempting it can be sometimes) kids see all and hear all. Even the stuff we don't think they did.

How much does Birth Order affect personality?
For first borns (Bryce), everything was a HUGE deal. The first time he walked and talked was recorded meticulously. The first time Casey talked and walked, though, no less important, may have gotten lost in the shuffle of trying to write her milestone down with my teeth while using one hand to clean the poop off her back and the other hand to bandage Bryces knee from his latest Kamikaze stunt. As stated in http://www.scholastic.com/, because of this attention that the first borns are used to, they often grow up to be confident and determined and organized. Not to mention, they are eager to please and like to avoid trouble. As far as Bryce goes, he definitely likes to avoid trouble. He HATES it when he thinks someone is mad at him and will try to fix it instantly. He is confident and outgoing and likes to say hi to all the passer-bys. He loves to try to help with Casey and he loves to help with the chores (really, he does!). Also stated by scholastic.com, youngest children work extra hard to get attention and they like to cuddle. THis may be due to the fact that when they have the attention they want, they don't want it to stop, so they are extra sweet and loving. Youngest children are the comediennes of the family and love a laugh. Casey is our youngest and definitely tries hard to get attention. She does what she has to to get Mumma to look her way, even if it is because she is getting in to something she knows she shouldn't. She is persistent (God, is she persistent) and affectionate. She loves to cuddle, especially when she is getting tired. And lets face it, no matter what the reason, I love it when my kids cuddle!! She is turning in to somewhat of a clown and it makes people laugh. And she knows they are laughing at her, so she keeps on going. Casey is also very jealous. She wants the attention and she wants it ALL. She even gets mad sometimes if my son is sitting on my lap. She wants to, too! THis is a hard stage for us, but I also think that it means that she is going to be a competitive person throughout life. This isn't bad, she will have drive to get things done. She doesn't want to be left out of things and she makes sure we don't forget her. (Like we could forget a cute little face like hers!) Both of these descriptions really do fit my 2 to a tee. So far they show all the traits of the first born and youngest. I guess that means that they will both be great no matter where they were born in the family. My mom is the mother of four girls and she also says that birth order really did affect us in the same way. I am the oldest. I am a little unique all the way around. I kind of march to the beat of my own drum ( and sometimes the band plays out of whack!!) My next oldest sister isn't only the middle child, but the next oldest to her are our twin sisters. SO she feels like she kind of got lost in the shuffle sometimes, too. I guess each family is different. Each set of circumstances and the things that are going on around each child when they are little, and even still in-utero really makes a difference in each childs life. That is why we are stopping with two children. One beautiful boy and one beautiful girl.

Should I discipline them in the same way even though they are totally different people?
There are many ways to disipline a child and it has been an experiment for us because things that worked well with Bryce, Casey will just look at us like we are wasting her time. But things that never worked with Bryce work great with Casey. It used to bother Bryce SO badly to have to sit down and take a "timeout". Casey looks at me like she is just resting up for round 2. Casey likes it when I hold her when she is pitching a fit and talk calmly to her. SHe will be crying moose tears one minute and stop when she is through. I don't necessarily do the same things between the two, but I am consistent with each method that works for them individually. And this works for us. I want my kids to know that they did something that they should not be doing again, but instill in them the confidence to know that I think that they are doing a good job trying to figure this life out. In http://www.childdevelopmentinfo.com/, it states that children have 8 stages of development. 1st is learning trust vs. mistrust. In this stage a young infant is nurtured with patience and calm and is well handled. This is when they learn the basic value of trust and optimism. Poorly handled and cared for, a child learns insecurity. The 2nd stage is Will, learning autonomy vs. shame. The well parented child comes out of this stage proud and sure of themselves. Casey is at this stage. This is also the stage that children learn to throw tantrums out of frustration and stubbornness. They child wants so badly to do things for themselves, and can't quite communicate well enough yet, that they get very frustrated. Tantrums come with the territory and it is a positive way of a child expressing that they want some independence. Though tantrums are frustrating to say the least, it is a healthy part of a childs development. Yay ME, Casey is right on cue!! 3rd is purpose...learning initiative vs. guilt. The child developing strongly learns cooperation, how to lead and follow, and imagination. Bryce is at this stage now, and judging from his imagination level and the make believe games we play about dinosaurs, I would say he is heading in the right direction!! Yay! The last stages of development is Competence, Fidelity, Love, Care, and Wisdom. I would say that according to this study, my kids are doing great and headed in the right direction (Phew!)

How much does it matter that outside people (grandparents and babysitters) "parent" in the same way that I do?
CONSISTENCY is KEY!! A child will learn the things that are acceptable for them to do and learn the boundaries that they need to stay away from as long as the set of rules is the same every time. So, as long as the outside people are consistent with their rules like we are consistent with ours, then they will eventually learn the rules not matter where they are. When they are at my parents, the rules are not all the same as when they are at their own house, but the rules are always the same as the last time they were there, so they don't get confused. As long as each set of different rules for different places is set and enforced the same way every time, then consistency is key. And this is a good thing!

Overall answer:I have learned that my children are perfect. He is the perfect 3 year old boy who likes to get in to things and jump off things and really keep Mumma on her toes. He throws FITS and says no sometimes. He breaks some rules and follows others. He doesn't always listen, and that is okay. She is the perfect 17 month old. She plays with boys toys, even though there are plenty of girls toys around. SHe loves her brother. She throws fits and says no. She breaks some rules and follows others. She doesn't always listen, and that is okay. Everything that I have researched has told me that my kids are doing just fine and they are on the right track to being AMAZING people. Just like they are amazing kids.

THE FUTURE

What does my future hold? I am going to take what I have learned from my research and what I already know and RUN with it. I am going to be a hands on mommy. I am going to be involved in the things that my kids show an interest in and encourage them to follow through with the things they start, even if it is just climbing up on a something that is too hard for (her) to do all by herself. I am going to encourage lots of active play time (because there is nothing like a good afternoon nap from pure exhaustion!!), and I am going to show them that being independent from me is okay. I am going to take my son and cuddle up with him whenever he wants to and I am going to insist that he stays the truly amazing, sensitive boy that he has become. I am going to show my girl that just because I am holding my son, doesn't mean that I love her any less, or that I have forgotten about her. And I am going to cuddle with her whenever SHE wants to. I will also insist that she stays the sweet, loving girl that she is becoming. I will let her throw her fits while teaching her that there may be a better way to communicate (especially when she starts to learn more words...). I will let them explore while teaching them that there are boundaries. And I will let them get in their fair share of trouble while teaching them that even though they didn't make a good decision, I still love them more than ever anyways. I will teach them that they are each others best friend, but it is important for them both to have other friends besides. And finally, I will teach them to eat their vegetables. That one may be a struggle...

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Isearch 'Future'

What does my future hold? I am going to take what I have learned from my research and what I already know and RUN with it. I am going to be a hands on mommy. I am going to be involved in the things that my kids show an interest in and encourage them to follow through with the things they start, even if it is just climbing up on a something that is too hard for (her) to do all by herself. I am going to encourage lots of active play time (because there is nothing like a good afternoon nap from pure exhaustion!!), and I am going to show them that being independent from me is okay. I am going to take my son and cuddle up with him whenever he wants to and I am going to insist that he stays the truly amazing, sensitive boy that he has become. I am going to show my girl that just because I am holding my son, doesn't mean that I love her any less, or that I have forgotten about her. And I am going to cuddle with her whenever SHE wants to. I will also insist that she stays the sweet, loving girl that she is becoming. I will let her throw her fits while teaching her that there may be a better way to communicate (especially when she starts to learn more words...). I will let them explore while teaching them that there are boundaries. And I will let them get in their fair share of trouble while teaching them that even though they didn't make a good decision, I still love them more than ever anyways. I will teach them that they are each others best friend, but it is important for them both to have other friends besides. And finally, I will teach them to eat their vegetables. That one may be a struggle...

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Isearch 'Answer'

Questions, questions, questions...and ANSWERS!! First of all, in the grand scheme of things, every child is different no matter what. Whether it be nature, nurture, or a slew of other factors. As a parent, I worry about a lot. Mostly, whether I am being fair and balanced in my parenting. I want to do the right things for them. I am the one that they look to for guidance and support.

When should I really start concentrating on social development?
First of all, social development is not just playdates with every kid in town that is my childs age(Thank God!). It started from the minute my children were born. Interaction between humans is social. Threrefore, interaction with Mommy and Daddy is social. This means that "social" has been from day one. And the quality of interaction is what the child is yearning for the most. So in the first few years of life, my children learn the most from me. Of course, there is many different facets of a childs life, and while Mommy ans Daddy are going to teach a child a good base of rules and morals, that alone does not always give the child an outlet to experiment with what they have learned. Parent Center says that playing with friends is an important way for children to learn how to use the rules that they have learned such as sharing and taking turns. There is no point in teaching a child to take turns if there is no way to demonstrate what taking turns means. Playing with other children who are trying to learn the same things is quite often the best way to teach a child. Bryce and Casey have a definite advantage in this area. They are very close in age. Close enough so that everything they are learning, they are learning together. It is hard to rationalize with an 18 month old why they should share, but after seeing it and hearing it often enough, they start to get the picture. Casey is now quite good at taking turns because she has always had to do it. Her brother was at the point when she was born that we were really trying to teach him the benefit of sharing, so this has always been something that Casey has heard. This has helped her learn even faster that this is what she is supposed to do. Of course, it isn't always perfect either, but children also learn from their mistakes...

Am I hindering their social development by not putting them in a playgroup when I am essentially a stay at home Mom, knowing that this will be their primary form of social time with kids their age?

Of course, there comes a time that Mumma needs to swallow her pride and maybe bring my children to one of these (gasp!) playgroups. Bryce and Casey are rather outgoing as kids go. They are not overly shy, but they like to make sure that I am in sight. This is a healthy thing for them to do. Babycenter gave some suggestions for getting in to the swing of the playgroup thing. They suggest to keep playtimes short and small. And to get involved in my childs play, too. This will help to get the kids comfortable with each other knowing that there is also an adult around for support. The more they see kids on a fairly regualr basis, the more comfortable they will become with venturing out on their own and me keeping a distance. And if I don't expect perfection from my kids, then chances are, things will be just fine!! So I took them to one of these playgroups. The same one every week for a month. The first wee, they wanted nothing to do with the other kids, in fact I am not sure my kids even realized that other kids existed. But I took them out in the middle of the big gym floor and played NEAR other kids. The next week, some of the other kids joined in. By the 4th week the kids were playing together without me being right by their side to monitor every move they made. I got to relax and talk to some people, and they got to run around freely and really looked like they were enjoying themselves. BOTH of them!!

How much does the simple difference of Bryce being a boy and Casey being a girl have on their personality? Attitudes?

Boys and girls are as different as night and day, the sun and the moon, peanut butter and jelly...take your pick. I have always been able to describe Bryces personality, but when it comes to Casey, she baffles me. She is as complex as they get. I don't think that it is because one is a boy and one a girl. I think that it just is. I have read in Parents Magazine that one reason for the difference in the sexes is that boys and girls brains are much different. A girls verbal brain develops quicker than boys and this is why girls usually start taking sooner. This was not the case for us. Bryce talked VERY early. Casey is catching up, but he definitely had more words than she does at the same age. Boys spacial perception is bigger, making them better at geometric things. The spacial thing also seems to propel boys towards things that move like cars and balls. One thing that I know for sure. Bryce and Casey are not as different as I once thought. I don't know if it is because Casey just has such a strong yearning to do everything that Bryce does, but she likes to play with dinosaurs just as much as he does (and I bought her 3 dolls for Christmas!) she just bee lined to the Dinosaur Castle because that is where he was. She LOVES balls and LOVES it when Daddy tries to help her play golf. Girls brains are bigger in the area that controls emotion and empathy. Making them better able to predict other peoples feelings. Both of my kids are very empathetic. They stand at full attention when their baby cousin cries. Bryce is just as apt as Casey to go kiss the baby and see if everything is okay. The article also states that because girls are sharper at empathy and takes in what goes in around them, they are more to anticipate the consequences of their actions. We'll see about that!! It is probably true that parents affect a lot, if not all, of early gender behavior. Men don't want to see their boys do gymnastics and Mommys want to put pigtails in their daughters hair. A lot of times when littler girls back away from a challenge, parents don't push her to follow through, as also stated in Parents Magazine by William Doherty, Ph.D. When parents don't encourage their daughter to fight harder to fulfill that physical challenge, it is subtly reinforcing to the girl that she doesn't have to do it. Without that push, girls start to back away from more and more that could physically challenge them, giving boys a much bigger advantage. And this is one advantage that parents could help their girl to bridge the gap by pushing her to try her hardest at those physical endeavors. We try to push Casey to finish anything that she starts, whether we think that she will be able to do it or not. She loves to climb, but can't always reach the peak. The more we encourage her to keep on trying, the harder she tries. WHen she actually accomplishes what she is trying to do, the light in her eyes just glistens. She could not be more proud of herself!! What I am trying to say is that I do believe that girls and boys brains may be different, but that doesn't mean that all girls will like to play Barbie dolls and dress up. Casey likes to jump and dive just like Bryce does. He is a cuddle monkey just like she is. It may just have to do with a childs environment, too. It would be impossible to fairly compare boys and girls without taking in to account the environment that each is brought up in. What they are surrounded by and what they are used to seeing happen. I have tried to get Casey to play with her dolls, but she just isn't interested, so out to play golf we go!! And I have tried to get Bryce to like other colors besides pink, though he is starting to say that green is now his favorite, he still loves pink, so I make sure he has a pink crayon, too. That is my kids, that is who they are and I love it.

What is true of Nature vs. Nurture?

Nurture is refered to the care given by parents, but can also involve environmental factors, such as a childs friends, early experiences with T.V., and a babys experience in utero. Parents are the key to a childs intellectual development in the care and education they provide. Every child is born with a predetermined set of genes, but every being also has the ability to make their own decisions. Take for instance four boys raised in EXACTLY the same environment. They all had the same mother and father (instead of any of them being step brothers), they all grew up in the same houses, and they all knew the same people. This would mean that they were all nurtured in the same kinds of ways. They grew up with the same sets of rules and the parents made sure that those rules were inforced. This is the nurture end of the arguement. All of the boys should have grown up quite similarly. Both the parents are very hard workers. Very kind people, they don't expect anything handed to them and they appreciate everything they have. This sounds like a good hard working environmet, right? Well each of these boys birthed and raised from the exact same parents all turned out very differently. This is where the nature part of the arguement comes in. Each boy had the power to make his own decisions. Three of them are very hard workers, while two of those 3 like to have nice things to show for their work. The other 1 of the 3 works hard and just kind of makes due with what he's got. He is satisfied for his house to be shelter and not much more, and that is okay if that is what he wants. The last of the 4 boys (the 2nd youngest) does nothing. Literally. He collects welfare from the state and REFUSES to get a job because that welfare would be taken away. He has 5 children and only sees 4 of them. One of those four is in the custody of his grandparents and the other 3 "live" with their father. He does nothing to try to make their life more comfortable, and if it came to a pair of sneakers for the kids or cigarettes, he would buy the cigarettes and ask his parents for more money for the sneakers. This proves to me that no matter what a set of childrens nurture, they can choose for themselves exactly what they want their life to be...nature.
Just because their direct relative robbed a bank, doesn't mean that they are doomed to do the same thing. As a parent nurtures their child, they show them the ways that they expect the child to act. This is where it is so important to lead by example. If we don't want our kids swearing at the Red Sox, then we might not want to either (no matter how tempting it can be sometimes) kids see all and hear all. Even the stuff we don't think they did.

How much does Birth Order affect personality?

For first borns (Bryce), everything was a HUGE deal. The first time he walked and talked was recorded meticulously. The first time Casey talked and walked, though, no less important, may have gotten lost in the shuffle of trying to write her milestone down with my teeth while using one hand to clean the poop off her back and the other hand to bandage Bryces knee from his latest Kamikaze stunt. As stated in www.scholastic.com, because of this attention that the first borns are used to, they often grow up to be confident and determined and organized. Not to mention, they are eager to please and like to avoid trouble. As far as Bryce goes, he definitely likes to avoid trouble. He HATES it when he thinks someone is mad at him and will try to fix it instantly. He is confident and outgoing and likes to say hi to all the passer-bys. He loves to try to help with Casey and he loves to help with the chores (really, he does!). Also stated by scholastic.com, youngest children work extra hard to get attention and they like to cuddle. THis may be due to the fact that when they have the attention they want, they don't want it to stop, so they are extra sweet and loving. Youngest children are the comediennes of the family and love a laugh. Casey is our youngest and definitely tries hard to get attention. She does what she has to to get Mumma to look her way, even if it is because she is getting in to something she knows she shouldn't. She is persistent (God, is she persistent) and affectionate. She loves to cuddle, especially when she is getting tired. And lets face it, no matter what the reason, I love it when my kids cuddle!! She is turning in to somewhat of a clown and it makes people laugh. And she knows they are laughing at her, so she keeps on going. Casey is also very jealous. She wants the attention and she wants it ALL. She even gets mad sometimes if my son is sitting on my lap. She wants to, too! THis is a hard stage for us, but I also think that it means that she is going to be a competitive person throughout life. This isn't bad, she will have drive to get things done. She doesn't want to be left out of things and she makes sure we don't forget her. (Like we could forget a cute little face like hers!) Both of these descriptions really do fit my 2 to a tee. So far they show all the traits of the first born and youngest. I guess that means that they will both be great no matter where they were born in the family. My mom is the mother of four girls and she also says that birth order really did affect us in the same way. I am the oldest. I am a little unique all the way around. I kind of march to the beat of my own drum ( and sometimes the band plays out of whack!!) My next oldest sister isn't only the middle child, but the next oldest to her are our twin sisters. SO she feels like she kind of got lost in the shuffle sometimes, too. I guess each family is different. Each set of circumstances and the things that are going on around each child when they are little, and even still in-utero really makes a difference in each childs life. That is why we are stopping with two children. One beautiful boy and one beautiful girl.

Should I discipline them in the same way even though they are totally different people?

There are many ways to disipline a child and it has been an experiment for us because things that worked well with Bryce, Casey will just look at us like we are wasting her time. But things that never worked with Bryce work great with Casey. It used to bother Bryce SO badly to have to sit down and take a "timeout". Casey looks at me like she is just resting up for round 2. Casey likes it when I hold her when she is pitching a fit and talk calmly to her. SHe will be crying moose tears one minute and stop when she is through. I don't necessarily do the same things between the two, but I am consistent with each method that works for them individually. And this works for us. I want my kids to know that they did something that they should not be doing again, but instill in them the confidence to know that I think that they are doing a good job trying to figure this life out. In www.childdevelopmentinfo.com, it states that children have 8 stages of development. 1st is learning trust vs. mistrust. In this stage a young infant is nurtured with patience and calm and is well handled. This is when they learn the basic value of trust and optimism. Poorly handled and cared for, a child learns insecurity. The 2nd stage is Will, learning autonomy vs. shame. The well parented child comes out of this stage proud and sure of themselves. Casey is at this stage. This is also the stage that children learn to throw tantrums out of frustration and stubbornness. THey child wants so badly to do things for themselves, and can't quite communicate well enough yet, that they get very frustrated. Tantrums come with the territory and it is a positive way of a child expressing that they want some independence. Though tantrums are frustrating to say the least, it is a healthy part of a childs development. Yay ME, Casey is right on cue!! 3rd is purpose...learning initiative vs. guilt. The child developing strongly learns cooperation, how to lead and follow, and imagination. Bryce is at this stage now, and judging from his imagination level and the make believe games we play about dinosaurs, I would say he is heading in the right direction!! Yay! THe last stages of development is Competence, Fidelity, Love, Care, and Wisdom. I would say that according to this study, my kids are doing great and headed in the right direction (Phew!)

How much does it matter that outside people (grandparents and babysitters) "parent" in the same way that I do?

CONSISTENCY is KEY!! A child will learn the things that are acceptable for them to do and learn the boundaries that they need to stay away from as long as the set of rules is the same every time. So, as long as the outside people are consistent with their rules like we are consistent with ours, then they will eventually learn the rules not matter where they are. When they are at my parents, the rules are not all the same as when they are at their own house, but the rules are always the same as the last time they were there, so they don't get confused. As long as each set of different rules for different places is set and enforced the same way every time, then consistency is key. And this is a good thing!

Overall answer:
I have learned that my children are perfect. He is the perfect 3 year old boy who likes to get in to things and jump off things and really keep Mumma on her toes. He throws FITS and says no sometimes. He breaks some rules and follows others. He doesn't always listen, and that is okay. She is the perfect 17 month old. She plays with boys toys, even though there are plenty of girls toys around. SHe loves her brother. She throws fits and says no. She breaks some rules and follows others. She doesn't always listen, and that is okay. Everything that I have researched has told me that my kids are doing just fine and they are on the right track to being AMAZING people. Just like they are amazing kids.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Annotated Source List

http://webtoolsfamilyeducation.com/article/0,1120,4-160,00.html

This site focused on positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement and why there are benefits to using both (at different times, of course!)

http://mentalhelp.net/psyhelp/chap11/chap11.html

This site has to do with consequence methods of behaviors, somewhat similar to positive/negative reinforcement, but takes it a step further and gives steps to take eo get out of uncomfortable situations (i.e.-to a child this would be punishment for an action)

http://www.vtaide.com

This site explores differnt kinds of parents. Authoritarian, permissive and authoritative. It also explores high nuturance of parents vs. moderate control. One huge factor of this website is that it gets in to the development of social competence in children and the fact that families play a vital role in a childs social growth and development.

http://www.raisinggreatkids.com

This website has 21 questions to ask yourself about myself and my kids and provides tremendous insite about the answers behind each question. It also explore the 8 different temperments in children and how their activity level factors in to their pesonality. Also comes with 10 tips for parents to do for themselves to be better role models and teachers.

http://raiseyourkidsright.com

Explores character qualities in children and says that the way they behave is the way that they are treated.

Marie Walls. Mother of 4 and Mommy Extraordinaire. Personal Interview. March 2006.

What can I say? Everything I learned about mothering I learned from my own mom. We also talked about birth order and personality differences between boys and girls.

http://www.childdevelopmentinfo.com

Teaches the stages of social and emotional development in children. Goes over Eriksons eight stages of development and how each stage can adversely affect the next.

Parents Magazine. The Difference Between Boys and Girls. Richard Laliberte. Page 102. March 2006.

Explores the way a childs gender affects the way they think, and learn. Even how they behave and why they do the things they do.

Parents Magazine. How to Raise a Really Good Kid. Peg Rosen. Page 126. March 2006.

Explores moral choices and how it is the parents job to point their child in the right direction.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Prompt Reaction Week #11

49. Doesn't matter where you begin...you'll end up back here.

Ten years ago I was aching to get the hell out of Dodge...Bangor, Maine that is. Now I am aching to go back. 10 years ago I could think of nothing but another place. Now I can't think of anything but where I came from. Why is it that people think that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. People always want what they can't have, but then when they actually get what they wanted they are not happy. This was the case for me. I thought that everything would be better when I got out of my hometown. I could spread my wings a little and make my own decisions. Now the only decision that I want to make is for those sprouted wings to fly me right back to where I belong...Home.

Isearch 'SEARCH'-Revised

February 27th, 2006
Today was a great day. We went to a playgroup at the YMCA and the kids had a good time. They actually played with some other kids for about 30 seconds, too, which is longer than in the past. I think that I will go look online to see what they say about social interaction in kids. I also just read in a PARENTS MAGAZINE that socialization in children is SO important to many different areas of their lives, including self confidence. I have been watching the way other mothers interact with their children, too. This has been very helpful as a comparison tool for me in my research.

March 6, 2006
I have this book called "What Kids Need Most in a Mom". I have been reading it a lot lately. It gives a lot of good advice and actually has been a calming tool for me. This book has been super helpful and I will be using it a lot in my research.

March 11, 2006
My boy and my girl are polar opposites. I wonder why. I looked online at some websites today that explored differences between boys and girls. A couple of the sites I found said that a boys and girls brains are different from each other. I have also been reading some articles on the subject. Also in PARENTS MAGAZINE. It is insightful. I also talked to my mom today about what she thought about birth order. She has 4 girls. Most of the websites I found are interesting, but some are much too scientific and mumbo jumbo for me. My mom had much more to say about the topic that I could use. Though she did say that my sisters and I seem to go against the grain. I did find a site that was helpful for me to look at my kids birth order in figuring out their personalities, too. It turns out they go a bit against the grain, too. Wonder if its hereditary!!

April 2nd, 2006
We went to my parents today for my birthday. They did a great job. I like to watch the way they interact with others and if they listen to other adults like they listen to me, so I just sat back for a lot of the day and watched them with other people. This helped a lot in piecing together how and why they act differently around other people. I learned a lot today.

Overall, I have mostly used websites for information. There is a lot of information out there in lala land! The books and people resources that I have used along with the magazines, too, have been a big help. The research has been a lot of fun and I am looking forward to using some of what I learned to see if it works with my kids.

Freestyle Week #11

So Sunday was my birthday. The big one. My 30th. I had to work that night (@#%!), so we got up super early to go up to Bangor to spend some time with my family without having to rush around. We looked at some houses on the way up that were in Holden. They were very nice and a perfect area for us to move. We took our time and talked and had a great old time. We went to my parents house for lunch around 11:00. We ended up eating around 12:00 which means that we would have to leave in 45 more minutes to make it back in time for work(@#%!). We were all sitting around the table pretty quiet trying to finish eating. There was complete silence when my son piped up "Happy Birthday, Mumma!" It was the way he said it and the way he looked at me. It was the best birthday present I have ever gotten.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Essay #5 Div-Ex

Downeast Maine. Gateway to Hell. Adorned by postcards, pictures, paintings, and screensavers everywhere, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. Ocean waves splashing on huge rocks, seagulls circling above lobster boats waiting, hoping for their next meal. Big mountains in the distance with the sun rising and falling behind them. We can walk to the water in 45 seconds and stay all day, walk the loop without a single car passing by. So Gateway to WHAT, you ask? You heard me right, Hell. The scenery is only 1/2 of the area. The people are the other. They are lifeless wrecks and the direct spawn of the devil. And they are sucking up all that sweet ocean air. They are neighbors, psycho-mommies, and pseudo-friends. And if I were to let them, they would take me down kicking and screaming, laughing at me the whole way.

Neighbors can be so charming. So nice. We do have some nice ones, in fact, most of them aren't so bad. Please don't misunderstand what I am saying. Not everyone here is evil. Some of our neighbors even brought us dinners after we had our kids. They are kind-hearted and thoughtful. And then there is him. The Devil himself. Mr. Lawrence-don't-you-dare-call-me-Larry-because-I-am-WAY-above-that-name. I don't know his last name. I don't want to know it and everytime someone tries to mention it, I just plug my ears and try to hum really loud so I won't hear it. He worked for years for the New York Stock Exchange and just recently retired full-time, year-round directly across the street from us. (Thanks a bunch, New York...) He came over with his wife once right after we got done building to greet what he thought would be retirees just like him. My parents were there at the time, making the jab to his heart even sweeter.
"Hi, I'm Lawwwrence. My wife Knucklehead (name changed to protect the guilty by association) and I want to welcome you to our neighborhood." (Our neighborhood, huh? How assumptive of him...) He was shaking my dads hand at this point and very aggressively at that.
"Oh, thank-you, but this is my daughter and son-in-laws house."
"Oh, okay, where are they? I would like to introduce myself." he says.
"...Umm...they are standing right beside me..." My dad looked at me.
I stuck out my hand to say hello and his shake went from nervous aggressive to limp noodle. "You have got to be kidding me," he says. "I was expecting someone...older."
"Umm, no kidding!" I say, somewhat stunned.
"Oh, and you have a dog. How charming!"
Our little dog sealed the deal. He was out of there in 2.7 seconds. We watched him shaking his head at his wife the whole way back to their home.
12 months later, a building crew came to assemble big stone pillars on each side of his driveway. While interesting, at best, the reason for them being there was unknown, until my husband commented on them one day while Lawwwwrence was getting his mail. Without even breaking his glare at his mail pile, he said "Yeah, I just got sick and tired of the towns school bus using my driveway as a turnaround, so I fixed that situation!" He looked coldly at my husband and finished with "I guess that means that your little one will have to wait at the end of the road." He smirked and walked away. My husband had much more composure than I would have. He just kept his mouth shut. Our "little one" was only 3 months old. Mr. Larry even took the driveway turnaround another step further one day when we were building our addition. A building truck was delivering huge roof trusses and needed the jerks driveway to help it turn around. Just the edge of the driveway, mind you. Larry swiftly came out and told the driver that if he proceeded to use his driveway, he would call the cops. The truck was forced to turn around with our delivery. We had to pay for another smaller truck to come back the next day.
I just tried to chalk the things he did up to him being selfish and miserable. I was thinking that it would get better now that we had a child. I could meet other mothers with children and have intelligent conversations. God, was I wrong.

One of the first calls we got after Bryce was born was from the wife of one of my husbands friends. "Now you can join our little playgorup!" She said bubbly. God, do you have to be a member of one of these damn things? Is there an initiation? An audition? "How much is he drinking? How long is he sleeping at night? How many naps does he take? Are you getting plenty of sleep?" she added.
"Um...4 ounces...3 hours...4...and no" Did I answer right? It was starting to feel like a quiz.
"Have you seen a doctor? He really should be eating more. My Matthew was anyways. Are you breast-feeding or bottle feeding?"
I was getting annoyed. "Yes he has seen a doctor. He is wonderfully healthy. And I am bottle feeding."
"Oooohhhh"
10 months later, Bryce was exactly 10 months 1 week and 3 days old. I took him to one of these God-Forsaken playgroups. All of the psycho-mommies were talking to other psycho-mommies about fairly normal mommies and how the normals children couldn't keep up with their far more gifted children. I overheard one of the conversations.
"Have you seen Bobo's (name changed to protect the innocent) son? HE isn't even walking yet and he is the same age as my son, (Which was 11 months old), I guess that means he can't kick a ball yet either, huh?"
In another corner, a mother was sitting with her son. She looked so sad. We ended up talking for a while. It turns out her son was the one being talked about in the above monologue with the psycho-mommy. The girl (about my age) was so nice...so normal. She was practically in tears. I wasn't surprised when she didn't some back again. It didn't take long for me to stop going, too.
The last straw came when Bryce was 22 months old. We had just had our daughter and I was making my first solo trip in to the grocery store. We got one of those carts with the car attached to the front so Bryce could sit in their and help me "steer". Casey was propped up front in her car seat with me. We were moving along smoothly when Bryce started crying like he had hurt himself. And he had indeed hurt himself. He pinched his little finger in the buckle. Like clock work, one of the mommies came around the corner of an aisle and looked at me without asking what was wrong and said "Ohhhh, he's not adjusting well to the new baby, huh?

Friends. The only clear way to go. Not here, though. One of my "friends" went to her play group cronies 1 week after I had my miscarriage and was using it as her hot topic. The kicker of this conversation was that she finished with, "She just needs to get over her miscarriage and get on with her life". And this was our best mans wife. The one better friend that I have had here is also very bitter and mean and as it turns out pretty manipulative. It was just a couple of months ago that I saw this side of her. It was around Halloween and I was working on every weekend night. There was a Pumpkin Festival at one of the Farms down here. She called the day of the Festival to see if my husband wanted to go with her and take the kids and go out to lunch after and maybe to the playground. I don't know about the other people she knows, but I don't rent my husband out to anyone. SO I politely declined her very eerie invite and said that he was busy. She called our house an hour after I was to be at work that day. And then 3 hours after that. My husband said he just didn't answer the phone. She called the next day and said that she had called to see if he had maybe changed his mind. At that point I was getting really irritated. I told her quite frankly it wasn't her place to be inviting my husband anywhere and excused myself from the conversation. We have talked not that much since then. At least she took the hint, though. That is more than I can say for some. But for her it is constant melancholy and woe. She uses comments like "Must be nice" and "I wish I could do that." Which makes inviting my husband places even more creepy. She is only happy when I am sad. What kind of friend is that?

I have finally realized that my real friends are the ones that I have had all of my life. My sisters. They are there rain or shine, come hell or high water. And I have met some very nice people here recently, too, much to my pleasant surprise. This place isn't all bad. I do like parts of it. But the people who live here leave so much to be desired. If you let them, they will steal your soul. For a long time, I thought that I was the only one who felt like this. It turns out, I'm not. It also turns out that the other people who also feel like this are not from here, either. Coincidence? I think not.