Monthly Archives: September 2008

Happy Birthday!

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Ian turned six last week.  It is our tradition to go out to dinner on the birthday no matter what.  Usually we make reservations at Benihana’s and invite family and friends.  This year we asked Iam where he would like to eat.  Afterall, he is six and might want to go to Chuckie Cheese for dinner.

Much to our surprise he opted for Olive Garden instead.  I just knew we were headed to Chuckie Cheese.  Darn!!!  I was looking forward to visiting with Chuckie himself!

On the way to school the morning of his birthday, Ian changed his mind.  He decided on Benihana’s so he could wear the balloon hat and dance.  My husband takes them to school so I had no idea this conversation took place until mid day. 

I called my husband on my lunch break and he told me about the change in plans.  He said that Ian and Imani were in the back seat arguing about where to go.  Ian told her it was his birthday and he could go where ever he wanted to go.  Imani really had her heart set on Olive Garden and was trying her best to get him to go there for dinner.

After school, Imani did not forget the earlier argument.  “Ian we are going to Benihana’s for Daddy’s birthday.  I want Olive Garden Ian.  You said that first anway.  I want to go to Olive Garden Ian.  Mommy, how much longer is my birthday?  I want to go to Olive Garden.”

Imani was fine after we arrived at Benihana.  She even helped Ian dance when the restaraunt staff sang to Ian.

On Sunday, we gave him a big birthday party.  Our friends and their children were invited along with our neighbors.  We grilled and had cupcakes instead of a cake.  The kids loved this idea.  Husband found the cupcakes with toy Spiderman and Transformer rings sticking out of the icing. 

Ian’s birthday wish was to have a Bakugan.  When he first told me what he wanted I had no idea what he was talking about.  My husband asked one of the older boys on our street if he knew what Ian wanted.  He had one and showed the toy to my husband.  When my husband went to find it at the store the sales clerk told him that the store could not keep it on the shelf.  I ran around on Saturday looking for the toy.  I finally found what I was looking for.  Luckily they had just a few left so I grabbed what they had.

Ian’s eyes lit up as he opened each one.  I’m still not sure what it does even after watching him play with the Bakugan.  It really makes no sense to me.  But hey, if he’s happy, I’m happy!

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Her Sleeve

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By now, I know that Eliza has received our letter that we wrote in response to hers. I’m sure she was not happy with what was written considering that we soundly refuted every concern she raised.  Eliza thought  she was going to be able to write the judge without us ever knowing and get a ruling in her favor.  It probably was a shock to her system when she received the letter from the clerk informing her that we were sent a copy.  So at today’s visit I had no idea what to expect from her.  At the last visit  she was nervous and insecure.

 I suppose I thought she would be somewhat distant and/or hostile.  With that in mind I braced myself for whatever was coming.  However, she was on her very best behavior, other than throwing one jab my husband’s way when I gave her an update about Evan (She declared that Evan’s mental illness derives from my husband’s family because he has a cousin who is schitzophrenic.  I told her that it was unlikely because it was his cousin’s mom who suffered from mental illness. My husband and his cousin are related because their dads are brothers.)  She was quite charming.  She even asked about Nicholas–something that she has NEVER done before.  Eliza also asked if I would write her regarding the conversation that I have scheduled with Evan’s pyschiatrist on Wednesday.  And:

  • She apologized for taking 45 minutes to come out.
  • She shared with me that she is interested in taking cosmetology classes.
  • Eliza has put in a transfer request to a prison that is much closer.
  • Eliza hugged me at the end of the visit.
  • She shared with me that her culinary arts class would get to cook a Thanksgiving dinner which gave her something to look forward to.
  • She asked if I would send her more of Evan’s drawings.
  • She inquired about how my stepfather was doing.
  • Eliza told me the times that her other son has football games so that I could take the boys if I wanted.
  • She expressed her thanks and appreciation to me for bringing Ethan down.

It was a tad unsettling.  She is the proverbial box of chocolates that Forest Gump spoke of, you just never know what your gonna get.  Generally she is pleasant in person because for some reason, I think she is intimidated by me.  Once she is no longer in my presence, her true self and feelings emerge.  She allows her paranoia and anxiety to take control.  She is also aided and abetted by the numerous prison attorneys who work for free and supply her with poor, illogical advice.  Let’s not forget about the other pot stirrers who love to cook up batches of trouble and contention. 

I wonder if she felt bad for writing what she did?  Or is it that she misses the special favors that she used to get from me?  Maybe she misses hearing her name called at mail time and receiving the care packages that I used to send.  Sometimes she is so hard to read. Forgive me for being suspicious, but I am left to wonder what Eliza has up her sleeve!  It could just be her arm, but her sudden change in attitude makes a girl wonder…

Silver Linings Sunday

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Last week I dropped my phone off at the Sprint store to be serviced.  It was going to take 15-20 minutes, so instead of waiting, I decided to go over to Wal-Mart to have my brake light replaced.  However, when I attempted to start my car it would not turn!  The battery was dead.  I was not expecting this from my relatively new car.  I felt a little like a damsel in distress considering that my husband was at work nor did I have any jumper cables.  Let’s not forget that I was without my life line.  I sat immobile for a brief minute while I considered my options.

I hesistantly approached a young man to see if he could give me a jump.  He said he would have but he did not have any cables.  And then, out of nowhere, a sheriff’s deputy that we know happened to see me.  He was not on duty and had his two children in the car, yet he came right over and proceeded to help out. Once he noticed that he did not have his cables in the trunk, he enlisted the assistance of a perky teenager donning a bright pink cowboy hat and a mini-skirt to help.  She supplied the cables and assured me that it would work while he gave me a jump. 

I felt so thankful that God had placed those two people in my path.  This act reminded me that there are a lot of good, thoughtful people residing in the world.

I won’t forget to pay their kindness forward.

Simple Pleasures Saturdays/Silver Linings Sundays

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I plan to devote Saturday postings to things I take simple pleasures in.  Sundays will focus on finding the silver linings in my life. 

I know that focusing on these two areas will increase my gratitude as well as make my daily life richer.  It’s easy to get swept away by negativity.  However, I’d much rather embrace the light.

What’s Your Style?

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When it comes to parenting, I have my own unique style that I like to call “democratic-assertive.”  I am not authoritarian because I believe that this approach eventually  backfires in the end. 

I like to think that I am fair, flexible (to a degree),  and firm.  However, I do like to maintain control.   Kids are kids for a reason.  I am not at all wishy-washy (permissive) and I believe that consistency is a key component to well behaved children. 

Sometimes I think I am too strict and overprotective.  However, my husband is a nice counterpartner and helps round me out with his more liberal views.

I noticed that I approach teaching in the same manner that I do parenting.  Often students are quick to remind us teachers that we are not their parents.  I say a silent prayer of thanks before quickly pointing out that actually I am, in locos parentis.  As a public school teacher I am legally entitled to act accordingly.

Oddly, they embrace this concept once they get over the fact that I don’t look very”motherly.”  Despite my appearance I am quite conservative.  My very austere grandmother had a lot to do with this.  Even though I teach 12th grade, I still set my classroom up as a family.  I am the parental figure and I liken my students to my “kids”. 

Furthermore, I feel obligated to get to know my students like I do with my own child.  I spend so much time with them that I couldn’t imagine doing otherwise.  When you know their strengths and weakness, whims and wishes–it makes the monumental task of teaching far more bearable. 

This approach works for me and it creates an atmosphere of trust, stability, and warmth.  Many of the students that I work with come from broken homes and appreciate this type of environment.  I don’t meddle in their personal affairs or anything of that nature.   And I only give advice when requested. 

We all have to discover what works best for our individual families because one size does not fit all. Here is a quiz I found on ivillage to help get you thinking about the type of parent you are or the kind that you desire to be.

Monaco v. Morocco

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I have a confession to make; I, too have a dark side.  I am not always nice, considerate, polite, and sweet.  I’ll refer to that other side as Monaco.

Sometimes I am petulant.

I can be impatient.

Rude

Mean

Judgemental

Spoiled even

Monaco tends to rear her ugly head when I am feeling tired, annoyed, stressed, insecure, threatened, jealous, or unappreciated.  So you see, it doesn’t take a lot to make her presence known.

In my Monaco moments, I want to put the smackdown on Eliza.  I don’t want to be peaceful–I want all out vengeance.  I want to knock her in the head and scratch her eyes out!  When I am feeling Monaco…watch out world!

I don’t like Monaco but she sure seems to like me.  Luckily I have more control over her than she has over me!  But I have to admit, she gives me one hell of a workout!

Peace or Points?

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I have come to find that it is always good to have balance in most if not all situations.  Living in a blended family setting definitely requires this. 

Rarely does a day pass that I don’t try to come up with solutions for our stepfamily issues.  I read books, blog, do research, and attempt to form bridges where they need to be.  Thankfully I have Rhonda and Stacy to bounce ideas off of.  My goal is to truly find blended family equilibrium. 

In order to have proper balance all of the adults involved must meet in the middle.  But somtimes it is confusing as to where that middle ground is located.  Each person has a different sense of direction.  When I look through the eyes of the children, I can see much more clearly.  It’s like having a blended family GPS device–it tells me exactly where to go.  

I’ve decided that I don’t want to accumulate points at their expense.  Plus, I’d rather have peace than points.  I’m not keeping score but I know that she is.  I’m busy waving the white flag with one hand and extending the olive branch with the other. 

I find that being contemplative about situations that arise is the best way to go.  I now understand that most of Eliza’s issues are really not about me; they are rooted in her own insecurities, habits, emotions, hurts, and perceptions.  She only projects them onto me.  Understanding this allows me to view her more compassionately.  Sometimes you have to read between the lines.  I am not always successful, but I try. 

Case in point: When Eliza wrote to the judge, we chose to reply and address her concerns in a  factual manner.  Though tempting, we refrained from using any emotion and simply addressed the issues she had.  I didn’t want to use words to attack her because I knew it would have added to the continued pattern of miscommunication, animosity, and stress.

I have to believe that even if she chooses not to operate in this manner that she will eventually upon seeing it modeled by us.  The drama simply gets old after awhile.