Thursday, August 21, 2014

Lunchbox Disparity

This year, before school started, I asked both of The Tweedles if they wanted to do school lunch or bag lunch this year.  They both enthusiastically voted for bag lunches.  It means more work for me, but they're more likely to eat what I send them than what's offered at school, so it's worth it.  However, I'm noticing there's a huge disparity in my house when it comes to the quantity of food included in Bug and Bunny's lunch boxes.  Today for example.

Bug's Lunchbox:

2 Ham and Swiss Sandwiches.
1 Baby Bell Cheese
Baby Carrots
Grapes and blueberries (about a half a cup combined).
Graham Cracker Stackables
Lunch bag size bag of gold fish
Yogurt covered pretzels
V8 Fusion Juice Box
Water Bottle (not pictured)

Bunny's Lunchbox:

1 cheese and tomato quesadilla
Grapes and blueberries (about a half cup combined).
Baby Carrots with several slices of cucumbers
1 Baby Bell Cheese
Lunch bag size cheezeits
V8 Fusion Juice Box
Water Bottle (not pictured)

And the kicker? Bunny will come home with only part of her lunch eaten and tell me how she even shared that part with her friends.  Bug will come home from school today having eaten all of his food, and tell me how starved he is and needs more food in his lunch box.  He's only 6.  What am I going to do when he becomes a teenager???

Seriously.. Thoughts?

P.S. I'll get back to our Yellowstone trip with more pictures, I promise.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Perfectionism is a Four Letter Word

Many of you may know that we've been struggling with Bunny academically for quite some time.  This is not to say she's not smart.  Anyone who has ever interacted with my girl knows lack of intelligence is not her problem.  I've been working closely with her every year since first grade through each school year and over each summer and with her teachers and her principal to try to figure out what exactly the issue is.  Clearly there is a disconnect somewhere, but the best we've been able to come up with is throwing various techniques at her and hoping something sticks.  It's been frustrating to say the least.

Today while correcting her homework, I had a bit of a light bulb moment.  I have struggled most of my life with various levels of OCD and perfectionism.  Anyone who knows me, knows I think in very black and white terms. Grey bothers me.  Grey bothers me a lot.  I want, no, I need things to be black or white, right or wrong, yes or no.  Everything in between causes me great amounts of anxiety.  And I'm a planner.  I have a plan A and a plan B and usually a plan C for pretty much everything with corresponding check lists.  That's not to say that I can't have plans change, I can, but I need to know it's coming, and there needs to be a new plan.  Winging it is not my thing.

Today, I realized Bunny is more like me than I'd like.  So after a particularly hard breakdown over getting something wrong on her homework, I looked up how perfectionism manifests itself in children:

  • Tendency to become highly anxious, angry or upset about making mistakes
  • Chronic procrastination and difficulty completing tasks
  • Easily frustrated and gives up easily
  • Chronic fear of embarrassment or humiliation
  • Overly cautious and thorough in tasks (for example, spending 3 hours on homework that should take 20 minutes)
  • Tries to improve things by rewriting 
  • Frequent catastrophic reactions or meltdowns when things don’t go perfectly or as expected
  • Refusal to try new things and risk making mistakes
Now, she doesn't fall into all of these categories, but she falls into a lot of them.  Tendency to become highly anxious, angry or upset about making mistakes? Check.  Chronic procrastination and difficulty completing tasks? Check.  Easily frustrated and gives up easily? Check. Overly cautious and thorough in tasks (for example spending 3 hours on homework that should take 20 minutes)? Oh, yeah.  Frequent catastrophic reactions or meltdowns when things don't go perfectly or as expected? Oh, hell yeah!

This isn't an official diagnosis, of course.  But if I struggle with these issues, it's easy to see how my girl, who is so much like me, might also struggle. And while I've had almost 40 years of learning how to overcome and compensate, (and I still struggle daily with a lot of things) she's only 8.  All of these feelings can't be easy for her.

The article I read this morning has some helpful hints on how to help children with perfectionism tendencies.  Some things I could probably use myself, to be honest.  If you want to read it for yourself it's here. Of course, there's probably a lot more sites out there, but this is the one I found.  I'll be looking into this more and seeing if some of the tips/tricks help Bunny, but this really is the first thing that makes sense. 

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

End of Summer Last Hurrah

We took one last hurrah trip to Yellowstone right before school started this week.  And by we, I mean the Tweedles and myself.  It was a 3 day drive up to the park.  Three days of really really long driving.  The Tweedles did amazing.  Honestly, I think I watched Bunny mature overnight on this trip!  Seriously, OVERNIGHT she turned into this helpful, well-mannered, good listener. I was amazed.  Watching this little girl grow, is pure joy.. PURE JOY.

And now, onto the photos from our trip:

When we came into Yellowstone from the West Entrance and drove all the way around to the Lake Cabins.  And here was our home sweet home for our first night.

And this was our view.  Can I tell you how many times I used the words 'amazing', 'wow' and 'just look you guys'?  It was, a lot.

It was a mad dash to the lake...

stopping only long enough to take some photos,  (Awww, my budding photographer).

And maybe a quick game of hide and seek.

He's a hide and seek expert.

You'd think they'd been cooped up in the car for three days, the way they acted.  Oh wait...

But could we have found a prettier place to celebrate our freedom?

Heaven.  Simply heaven.

Seriously... Thoughts?

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


13 years ago, The Hubs and I decided our family needed a dog.  He was still just The Boyfriend back in the day and he was still navigating a never ending divorce along with the older girls who seemed to be wrapped up in it no matter how hard we tried to keep them protected from it all.  We thought having a little ball of happy puppy fluff to come home to (when they came to our house) would do them good.  I had a very specific idea of what I wanted.  And I know you're not surprised that I'd made a list:

  1. Must be good with kids.  - In the middle of a divorce the last thing we needed was an aggressive dog!
  2. Must be short hair. Honestly folks, we live in So Cal, on top of make the poor pup suffer in this heat, I didn't want to be cleaning up dog hair for days.
  3. No drool.  Seriously, this was a deal breaker.  I don't like animals to lick me, but drool? Yeah, no.
  4. On the smaller size.  Do any of you remember that my house is like the size of a suitcase?  I wanted a dog who wouldn't take up all of the living room just by lying down.

We discussed these items.  We all agreed.  And then we started searching the local humane society website DAILY for our new little addition.  We looked for a long time before an adorable face popped up along with his two brothers - one of who was a bleu, and the list kinda went out the window.  As an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix, we were sure he'd be good with the kids - both herd dogs and watch dogs he wouldn't be aggressive.  And, he wasn't a drooler.  I expected him to be on the small side due to his mixed breed, but no. Our dog ended up being HUGE, and clearly he wasn't a short hair, but at least I got 2 of my 4 wish list items right? Oh and they were all so pretty, so I called The Boyfriend and had him rush down to the humane society.  By the time he got there, our pups two brothers had long waiting lists, but not our boy.  He was clearly waiting for us.  The Boyfriend put our names on the list and we figured we'd have him home before Christmas.  Little did we know...

A few weeks after we were assured to get him, we got a phone call from the Humane Society letting us know his brother (the bleu) had come down with Parvo.  A very contagious and deadly disease.  All three pups were being quarantined just in case. So, we waited.  We hoped the phone WOULDN'T ring because that would mean he still hadn't come down with the disease.  Then we heard the news the blue hadn't made it and we all held our breath.  It was agony waiting to see, but six weeks later, we finally were allowed to pick up our pup, who by now was much bigger than we'd anticipated.

Our pup has gone on camping trips, grocery runs, and hikes.  He's slept on the floor in each of the kids rooms often wandering from room to room to check on everyone (including us!) as the night wore on. Although I will say here, that he was way more LW's dog than anyone else. She was most definitely his person.  

He was our watch dog, sure to alert us if anyone came to the house or just got too close.  He patiently put up with first the two cats with Jack playing head of house and then later when he was much older still patiently put up with our two new kittens (now 2 years old).  As the years wore on, he started having a lot of trouble with his hips and couldn't get around as well as he used to, but he still LOVED a good roll in the grass.  

It transformed him back into the little puppy we all remembered.

Yesterday, our pup's old age finally caught up to him, and he passed - I believe - peacefully in his sleep - doing what he did best, guarding us all.  We had 13 amazing years with our boy - 13 years of loving and being loved.  We hope he's at the rainbow bridge with Jack who left us a year ago tomorrow, just waiting for the rest of us before starting our next adventure together. We already miss you.  


Friday, April 4, 2014

That Girl!

Every Wednesday, The Tweedles' school sends home a folder with all sorts of announcements and important notices (field trip slips, after school programs and the like).  This past Wednesday, Bunny had an extra little orange slip tucked into her Wednesday Folder.

So today, I hauled myself out of bed, showered and put on actual clothes to take my kids to school.  At car line drop off no one sees your jammies.  And because I had to do all that actual getting ready stuff that I normally put off until around 11 when I take a break from my day job, we were late.  So picture the three of us.. parked two blocks away from the school because kids with parents who aren't lazy have taken all the closer spots.. sprinting - DOWN HILL - backpacks flying - to make it in time for the Friday Assembly. I'm surprised no one broke a leg to be honest - but I did tell them not to fall and they should always listen to their mother.  Parenting at it's finest people!

Bunny started to suspect something was up when I didn't drop them off at car line.  She got more suspicious when I followed her down to the lower playground for assembly.  This was the face she gave me when her teacher mentioned how glad she was I was able to make it.

Clearly the cat was out of the bag.  She kept bouncing and laughing and hugging me. 

I'm surprised she didn't take the microphone out of the principals hands and launch into an Oscar speech. But she kept it cool.  "Yeah, I got an award.  I'm cool." Yep, she's That Girl.

The award incidentally is for Excellence in Math.  I could not be more proud.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Remains of Spring Break

Spring Break is over and The Tweedles are back in school.  This is what it looked like after drop-off this morning.

Okay, not really.  And actually, I admit to being a little sad that it's over.  The Tweedles and I had a pretty good time after a rather rough start.  

There was some time at the beach to play in the waves.

Play in the sand.

And get a little wind blown..

and water logged.

And then we went to an Army/Navy store and this happened.

And of course, not to be outdone by his sister, this happened.

There was a lot more fun including movie nights (Frozen and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2), pool time, games, hanging out, staying up late, Armenian dinner with family and lots and lots of giggles, but I was too busy enjoying it all to take photos.  All in all, not a bad Spring Break.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

An Exercise in Persistence

When the economy turned 5.5 years ago, The Hubs managed to hang onto his job for multiple rounds of layoffs until the final one in August 2008.

Wow, let me just process that for a second. 2008.

Anyway, he lost his job but got a pretty nice severance package that we both were pretty sure would hold our household together until he got a new job.  Little did we know.  After sending out what felt like a bajillion (yes, that's a technical term) resumes with no resulting job offers we knew we were going to be in trouble.  At this point I'd like to tell you it was out of some sort of insight into the current job market or a real understanding of the state of the economy and the projections for the next five years that prompted me to encourage The Hubs to go to college (his first time ever) and get his undergraduate degree.  I'd LIKE to tell you that, but really just him being home all the time bored out of his mind was getting on my nerves.  I did it out of self preservation because if he didn't get out of the house and do something, anything, it was going to get ugly up in our house. The Hubs will never be allowed to retire.

Regardless of the reason, he enrolled in the local community college full-time with the intention of just getting an AA/AS so he could put 'some college' on his resume.  He graduated in 2011 with both associates degrees and with no change in the job market he enrolled in a local University to finish up his degree in Computer Information Systems.  Somewhere along the way, he decided to dual major with International Business which we knew was going to push out his graduation time, but we both felt like the Computer major combined with the Business major would give him even more job opportunities in this very uncertain economy.

For 4 years, with the help of student loans, unemployment, a few government programs, and a lot of extra contract work on my part, he'd managed to stay focused just on school.  For the last year and a half though, when all of that ran dry, he was forced to not only work a full time job, but also attend school full time in an attempt to finally complete all the credits required for his degree.  It's been an exercise in persistence for not just him, but our whole family.  And a pretty good example for both the older girls and the younger kids about what you can achieve when you put your mind to it.

I am happy to report, The Hubs has just completed his last final for his last class.  He has finally completed all the required courses for his degree.  His official Graduation Ceremony won't be until the end of Spring but I can't begin to express how proud we all are of him, of all of his hard work, his persistence and his commitment to do what he needed to benefit all of us.

Congratulations Hubs.. You did it!

Seriously.. Thoughts?