Thursday, October 16, 2014

My Girl Isn't Perfect... And Neither Am I.

I'd recently heard from Bunny that her best friend's mom didn't want her over for a play date because she thought Bunny was a "bad influence".  This is the second time I've heard this about Bunny, although the first time was in first grade (three years ago).  Now, in all fairness, I do try to see my little girl clearly.  She's not perfect.  She's a bundle of energy, ambition and drive. She's smart and headstrong and a teeny, tiny, bit stubborn which she just might, maybe, kinda, sorta get from me.  All of these strong leadership traits sometimes make her hard to handle. So, I get it that some parents might see the force that is my kid as a "bad influence".  Still, it's worrisome to hear.  Especially as she gets older. I don't fool myself into believing that the kid she is at home is always the kid she is at school.  I know these differences will only get more pronounced the older she gets.  I figure it's my job as her parent to make sure that her school behavior and her at home behavior are at least in line with each other and that she continues to make good, solid choices even when I'm not around.  Knowing that she's had a very rocky start to this school year in terms of getting in trouble made me take a serious look at Bunny and what she's been up to.  This was a few weeks ago.

I won't go into details, but I will say, last week things came to a head with a situation which required us to end her friendship with her best friend.  I don't like to do things like this, for a couple of reasons but mostly I think kids need to work out their own relationships for the most part, and learn to determine who is good for them, and who isn't.  We went through this with GG in middle school, with her alternately super happy or in tears depending on how her "friends" decided to treat her that day.  It's a helpless feeling, but relationships are difficult and learning to navigate them is part of the process of growing up.  In this case though, both The Hubs and I agreed we needed to step in.  Her teacher was notified and moved her away from her best friend in the class room.  A recess supervisor was alerted to help keep them apart during recess and lunch.  We didn't want any sneaking around to hang out together.  We also ended all phone contact and of course, no more play dates.

It's been almost a week now.  Bunny has chosen to surround herself with girls who for the most part are good kids who don't tend to get into trouble.  And you know what?  Bunny hasn't had her name on the board all week, and no additional trips to detention.  I can't tell you what a huge relief this is.

But the snarky, sarcastic, mean, not perfect part of me can't help but feel a little vindicated that while my "bad influence" daughter has managed to stay out of trouble, her former best friend hasn't.  I worry about my girl.. All. The. Time.  I want to reign her in so she can be a functioning/contributing member of her class without squashing her spirit.  I love all the things about her.  The funny parts, the stubborn parts, the artistic parts, even the hard to handle parts.  But loving her, means I also need to 'see' her for who she is, not who I think she is.  Perhaps we'd have less "bad influences" if more parents could manage to do the same.  Not that I know anything, because Lord knows I'm not perfect either.

Seriously... Thoughts?

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Big 10

Today is our official 10 year anniversary.  If you know our family at all, you know a rose ceremony was part of our wedding.  This is where we all (LW, GG, The Hubs and myself) exchanged roses.  The point of this was to symbolize the change in our relationships as we became a family and we come together every year to exchange roses again - adding Bug and Bunny along the way, and talk about what our personal goals are to help make our family stronger.  Since we're all very busy people, we don't always do it exactly on our anniversary, so last night was our night to celebrate.  Since it was our TEN YEAR anniversary, I thought I'd shake things up a bit.

A few weeks ago I sent an email out to LW, GG and The Hubs asking them to provide me with 10 unique reasons they like/love LW, GG, Bug and Bunny respectively - with  reminder that they can't submit reasons why the love themselves.  Their egos are fine people, just trust me on this.  I sat down with Bug and Bunny separately and asked them to do the same thing. Then I got to crafting, hole punching, cutting - SO MUCH CUTTING - and double sided sticky taping and this is what I came up with.

Each kid was presented with this little booklet, made from playing cards and craft paper. It included 10 reasons from each of their siblings, 10 reasons from The Hubs, 10 reasons from me and then two extras reasons about why we like/love them to make 52 reasons.

The thing I really liked about this project was it really made everyone think about each other.  Really figure out what it is they love about them.  It was fun to see when everyone came up with similar answers - Like Bug is really funny, or Bunny sings a lot.

And more funny when the answers contradicted each other.  Like when LW said that GG wasn't judgmental, but GG said that one of the things she loved best about LW was that they could sit and judge things/people together.  (All in good fun of course - no feelings were hurt in the making of these booklets).

The best part though, was letting the kids read their booklets and try to figure out who said what.  Some were obvious, and some not so much.

But ultimately, it let each of the kids feel really good about themselves and about how the rest of the family sees them.  I can't believe we've made it 10 years, but it's easy to see the love in our family that holds us together.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

PS - this project was not my idea, I found it on Pintrest!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

8 Year Old Logic

A few days beffore we set off on our trip to Yellowstone I reminded Bug and Bunny know that we were going to be meeting up with not only grandma and grandpa, but with my cousin B and her two kids J and G.  B is my cousin, but she's a lot older from a different generation than I am.  And her kids are more Lone Wolf's age instead of Bug and Bunny aged.  This conversation for some reason, elicited an almost instant hysterical break down from Bunny.  In previous conversations about our trip, I guess Bunny hadn't caught on to the fact that J and B are much older than she is.  They weren't going to be more kids to play with, but more like grown ups. Not super old grown ups like Mommy, but you know, for an 8 year old, grown up is grown up.  

For some reason, my little girl got it into her head that J and G wouldn't want to hang out with them.  More, that they wouldn't even LIKE her.  Seriously, this had her broken down in tears because these new cousins she was about to meet weren't going to like her, or want to talk to her, or be around her because she was a little kid and they were grown ups. 

Between sobs and consoling snuggles I talked to her about how family always loves family.  And how they were coming all this way, in part, to meet her and Bug.  And how, I was SURE, they were all going to love her.  I mean, honestly, who wouldn't love her?  Nothing, and I do mean NOTHING, I said could convince her. 

Clearly, I had no idea what I was talking about, and she didn't just make a new best friend for life.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Yellowstone Day 2

Gooooooood Morning Yellowstone!  This photo is brought to you by Bug.  I took one too, but I liked this one so much better.  We woke ourselves up pretty early on day two hoping to see some animals, but all we saw were the two legged hungry kind on their way to the main lodge for their cup of joe. The view from the lodge's considerable front porch (minus the construction) was probably as much of a draw as the joe.

I gave the kids a choice of a slow day driving up and stopping at whatever we wanted to see along the way and going on a hike.  The yells of "hike" are still echoing across Lake Yellowstone today.  After a quick check-in with the front desk on what hike would be good with two small children and we were on our way to Storm Point trail which begins right next to Indian Pond.

Isn't it pretty?  We followed the trails into the woods which even at 9am was better than being out under the direct sun.   It's always nice walking through the woods.  We've done a ton of hiking as a family and there is just something about walking through the woods that slows everything down.  I don't know if it's the quiet and lack of distractions, or if it's just us being alone as a family, but we do love our hikes.  

We were walking along talking about this and that when this view popped up out of no where.  Such an amazing view of the lake and we walked along beside it for a while before we hit this very cute wooden bridge.  I love wooden bridges.  I have no idea why, but there's nothing like the sound and feel of walking on one.  I say we convert all sidewalks to wooden walkways.  I bet we'd all be a lot happier!

About half way through our hike we found ourselves at this beautiful overlook.  

We were all having a good time, enjoying the view when Bunny - my fearless girl - walked right up to the edge of that 30 foot drop behind them down to the water and large boulders sure to crush her little bones. And then I lost my mind.  Now, *I* am afraid of heights, but neither of my kids seems to have inherited that little trait. So seeing my beautiful baby so close to what, to me, is obviously clear death, sent my poor heart into a tizzy.  Once I'd managed to pull her back from the edge and she'd managed to remove my death grip from her arm, we had a long talk about safety.  With only me on this trip with them, we all needed to be extra careful.  And that included not going to close to the edges of death drops and stopping mama's heart. 

And with that, we moved on down the edge of the lake until we found this beautiful sandy beach complete with rocky point.  If you zoom in on this picture, you'll even see my two little monkeys down at the very tip of the point.  And while we were down there, these two little monkeys came out to play with us - as long as we were very still and very quiet that is. These are Yellow Bellied Marmots for those not in the know, and they apparently love this area.  Cute little guys, no?

We wrapped up the hike and started our long trek north to Montana out of the North entrance.  We hadn't gone more than a few yards when we came across this old man wandering next to the road.

I got a little too close and was the recipient of some dirty looks from one of the many wonderfully helpful park rangers.  And despite my error in judgement, she was more than happy to answer questions for us.  

As we continued to make our way North, I worried he was going to be our only encounter with a buffalo when we found this guy just chill-axing on the side of the road.  We stayed a safe distance this time.

I was thrilled to see two whole Buffalo on our trip, but we had no idea what was waiting for us just around the river bend.. just around the river bed.. (okay, name that song!)

We were stuck in traffic that didn't move for over a half hour.  Have you ever sat in bumper to bumper non-moving traffic with a 6 and 8 year old?  You do whatever it takes to keep them entertained.  And that included taking photos of lots of trees and singing Pocahontas Disney songs.  

The wait was so completely worth it.  

After sitting in the car for so long, we stopped at the first hot springs / mud pots we came to. This is Dragon Mouth Springs.  A wonderful bubbling, steaming cave that even sounded like a dragon roaring.

Bug, however, was clearly less than impressed with the smell.  

I don't know why though.  The buffalo didn't seem to mind it.

We decided to move along, but got caught behind this buffalo for a few minutes instead.  Best game of follow the leader, ever!

He led the way to the biggest herd we saw (and one of the best views) of our whole trip!  We didn't know it at the time, but there are only about 4,000 buffalo living in all of Yellowstone.  It just doesn't seem like enough considering how prevalent they used to be back in the day. 

The Tweedles and I talked a lot about why Yellowstone was protected, and why there was a need for places like this.  I don't know how much sunk in, but at least we're giving them the beginnings of a conservation education.  And with views like this, it's never to early to start.

Seriously.. Thoughts?

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?