Sunday, October 18, 2009

Dreams and Nightmares

Do I have time to blog? No. Probably not, but I will try anyway.
I think this to myself on a regular basis and here I am in the midst of October.

October, Why must you drag on so long? Why can't we just get to the good part in the end. Oh, yeah. Because we need time to visit pumpkin patches, at least two festivals, buy/make costumes, attend parades, and... then there's work. Yes. Work. It has a life of its own, and it very well should since I watch over 90+ bodies a day. Human beings that I hope will one day do something great for humanity, or at least not mess things up. It's a huge responsibility, but I love it when things are going well and the little adults are learning as they should.

"What's your dream?" the Dada asks.
"I'm living it." I said.

I can't think of doing anything other than what I am already doing. But, I guess if we are talking dreams. I'd like to do what I am doing but be home more and have my own house. There. That's it. I know. I lack ambition. But teaching year after year is ambitious if you ask me, because it takes so much out of you physically and emotionally.


Did I ever mention motherhood made me paranoid? I was always a worrywart, but motherhood turned on a whole other switch. I worry about my children. Always. I have gruesome thoughts and dreams about possible mishaps they could endure, and then I freak out. Sometimes I wonder if I can think these possible happenings away.

Last night I had a nightmare, A freaky one. I was holding the lifeless body of my youngest. I shook myself out of this nightmare as quickly as I could. I am the type of person that can never tell they are dreaming, and have awakened many a night with tears soaking my pillow. Why? Why did I have to have this nightmare? All I want to do is erase it from my mind, but it just sits there in the corner of my mind. Haunting and teasing that it knows my weakness.

Monday, September 7, 2009

I Lichen These Days.

Tomorrow my littlest boy will be 3 years old. The littlest boy who won't sleep, and is currently playing with my hair while I type. He'd rather bounce on beds and stand here next to me than sleep.

I can't believe he's three tomorrow. Many days I feel like our family is complete and my life very full, but often, another part of me wonders what if? What if there was another? All my boys are content with the way things are, and when questioned about a possible addition, they say no more. Yesterday was a day when our family of four was just perfect. Perfect and imperfect all at the same time. For all the beautiful moments, there is an equal number of frustrating pull-you-hair-out kind of moments. I leave you with the best of our Sunday.

To the farm we went.

To the woods...

and finally the tide pools and beach despite my fear that they will one day be swallowed up by the ocean never to be seen again, but that's a story for another day.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Black Feet and Soot

To say that my little boys like to play with dirt is like saying dolphins like to play in water. It is their preferred medium, and their natural way of being. At the end of everyday, you will find these boys covered in dirt. Their feet black, their hair full of sand, and basically looking like a couple of waifs.

When we lived in Austin, they generally required two baths a day. In the park, they would get covered in a fine white powder of dust from the rocks that lined all the playgrounds there. They would also bring home sand in their diaper, sand in their hair, sand in their snack, sand everywhere--their feet would be black. So naturally, the only way to remove the above contents was to bathe the boys because there is nothing like the chaffing feeling of sand in your crack.

Living in California things have turned black with a chance for sand. The younger Bee, especially, can frequently be found with soot on his face. He likes to apply it just the way women apply cover up. It doesn't even matter if there is no dirt in the vicinity. He will improvise with whatever he can find. Below you will see a picture of the guilty boy after having gotten a hold of two whiteboard dry erasers and using them as telephones.

His brother, not to be outdone, decided to join him. These are brothers who want to wear the same everything these days: same clothes, same shoes, same dirt.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Where did July go?

How is it that summer is over already? Has it been two months? The oldest boy starts kinder on the 17th, an ungodly day to start school if you ask me. We might as well just go ahead and start school in July. I myself won't have kids showing up into the classroom until the 24th.

Wednesday is my official last day of summer. Never mind that I have spent the last 3 weeks planning for the next two months. This involves researching, creating lessons, documents, PowerPoints, calendars, and most recently syllabi for my math, social studies, and response to literature class. My room also has several spools worth of new bulletin board paper covering boring white walls. In previous years, I would have just waited until two days before school started to get ready, but I find my usual procrastinating ways stress me out.

We've recently spent countless amounts of money on back to school supplies for our classrooms, and Big Brother's first day of kindergarten. The Dada will be teaching high school Bio this year so setting up a new classroom requires countless of dollars to purchase necessary items that will help the classroom function. I got more of the same. For the older boy, we had to invest many dollars buying school supplies to donate to his cash-strapped classroom due to what else...budget cuts, and five sets of uniform items. Barf. I hate uniforms. Do we really want to teach and raise children that can't even decide what to wear for themselves? Students must be allowed to be individuals, and to at least have some choice in how they express themselvses with their wardrobe. I hate to take this freedom of choice away from them when we are already holding them hostage for 6+ hours. But really, I digress. I'll just end my rant here.

Summer is coming to and end, and work begins. I shall miss my many lazy days with my two little boys who have literally grown a few sizes this summer. My advance planning will hopefully help get me home at a reasonable hour the first month when most teachers work late.

Friday, July 31, 2009


Yes. Because that was initially how I thought you spelled the Spanish word meaning lazy. Apparently, I wasn't the only one. I googled and found this same spelling. The word pronounced with the "e" and the "a" using the short vowel sound. I figured they were also delirious like me. I had to finally call a cousin for the spelling. It is actually spelled a lot like the Spanish word for egg, huevo, but lazy being spelled h-u-e-v-o-n-a.

My mind was tainted with the sight of the word WAWONA--a place I am lucky to stay in every year, and in good years, I get to go twice. NO, I don't want to go to Europe or New York or...yes, yes not even if I had a ton of money. If I can't at least go here, I don't want to go anywhere else. I know. I'm boring like that, but really, I just know what I like.

My mom got to chuckle along with me at the pronounciation of this Native American word this year. Wawona meaing "Big Tree" used to actually be called Pallahchun (meaning a good place to stop) by early tribes. Yes , indeed. It is a good place to stop. A good place to stop and be lazy.

The Dada's family has been stopping by this locale in Yosemite National Park for four generations now. My boys even paid a visit while still in the womb. Grandpa generously rents us all a cabin for a week where we all spend our days eating, swimming, tubing, gabbing, playing, hiking, and just plain old being lazy in the shadows of the big trees. Grandmas, Grandpa, cousins, uncles, aunts, and sibling all stuck in one cabin sharing two bathrooms-all thirteen of us, and sometimes even fifteen. I know, we like to rough it. But, if we get desperate, we can just dig a hole.

The boys as always had a blast, and my mom got to be lucky number thirteen this year. She was new to these parts and was in awe as we all always are of its beauty. The boys were just so overjoyed with it all they had to hug. It brings out the best in them.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Na-na-na-na-na-na-na...Batman and Super Emotions

I live in the land of superheroes. Boys who love Spiderman, Batman, Ironman, Superman, and many other supermen with super powers and super everything. It suits my oldest just fine. The boy who needs to rev everything up. Everything is done on overdrive.

If you are going to get angry remember to growl and scowl at your tormenters, scream as if you were being chased down by a pack of wolves, kick walls, slam doors, and throw the random object/objects for effect because YOUR ANGRY.

And if you happen to be happy, screech with delight, brighten those blues, smile so hard it looks like you have large jaw breakers in each cheek and keep it there as you literally bounce from one corner to the next to find new people you can share your happiness with.

Ooooh the sadness, a few days ago you proclaimed what a bad mommy I was for not rushing immediately to your aide when you fell on your knees for the billionth time. Tears streaming you proclaimed, "OoooooooooH Mommmmmmmy. You don't take care of me very well." Ooooh the drama, and OUCH--your comment hurt. But as always you were fine, and you got your hug even though it was two seconds too slow for you.

Lets not forget Love. This you take to the extreme as well. Noodle arm hugs around my neck that I am sure will break my windpipe or at least suffocate me slowly. Kisses that leave imprints on my cheeks for days and I swear will one day relocate my teeth.

And I worry about your brother, who is often a victim of all your super emotions. The little Bee who worries about you and loves you back with the same intensity you do, but is often toppled by your raging emotions of anger, jealousy, and love. The Bee who wants to be just like you down to the article of clothing you're wearing and your love for any and all superheroes. "I wanna wear Batman, too!" he protests and so he does.

Sooo many emotions taken to sooo many extremes--these are but a few. The boy with the super emotions. I love you. You're a passionate little boy, and I hope one day you grow up to be a passionate man. A passionate man who has his emotions under control of course. The world will never be ready for the destruction that may come from an out of control, emotional grown man like yourself.


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Realist or Abstract Expressionist?

I love the way kids express themselves. Sometimes it is all very haphazard, but most of the time it is very deliberate. With really young kids, I am always left wondering what it was they were thinking and/or trying to do. My oldest is at the point where he is making very discernible pictures of actual objects and people. I love having conversations with him about his art, and what it is he has created. Big Brother usually has very elaborate stories to go with his pictures and boundless imagination.

The above picture is one of his more realistic drawings. It is the Starship Enterprise with the Borg following closely behind. The Borg ship is complete with windows and green power output lines. The Enterprise is trying to escape the Borg who are unrelenting. Can you tell he's a treky?

This is one of the elder boy's more abstract painting. When I asked him what it was, he said it was a monster shooting torpedoes. The yellow circle with the blue in the middle is one of the glowing monsters. The handprints are robots trying to help the monster. The "bad guys" have run rampant. These stories are definitely better told by the boy as he loves to add sound effects and movement through hand gestures. He is very animated. This painting actually reminds me of a peacock chasing a miniature red horse, but what do I know? He is a boy of extremes.

The littlest Bee is still in the abstract phase, but is attempting some realistic drawings. Below you can see one of his most recent creations.

The Bee claims this is a self-portait. Maybe he was channeling Salvador Dali and approached this much like a surrealist would--blonde hair as a trunk, blue eyes, body of a frog, and a newsboy cap. What is he trying to tell us about himself?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Nuestra Cama Familiar (Our Family Bed)

I am not totally sure that we ever planned to have a family bed. It seems like it just evolved that way. When my oldest was born, I found it odd and somewhat cruel to set this little creature that had been part of me for nine months off to his own little bed by himself. I thought he needed the comfort and touch of his mother. It was, after all, someone he was accustomed to being with--to be with the scent, touch, and sounds that meant warmth and safety to him. I myself was having difficulty letting go of the closeness we shared, so I nestled him along side me, and we spent many months breathing deeply in rhythm with each other, nursing, and sleeping.

The western custom of placing newborns in their own bed, and even in their own room has always been strange to me, if not impractical. I myself grew up in a household that practiced the art of sleep-sharing. Growing up in a small border town where temperatures frequently hit above 100 F, there was little choice than to cram everyone in the only room with air conditioning. Even when the heat subsided and the air grew cool, we all slept together on my parent's queen size bed--my sister in between my parents, I at the foot of the bed next to my mother, and my brother, the oldest, alongside the bed on the floor. Yes it was a bit cozy, and sometimes even uncomfortable, and I'm sure my mother probably wanted nothing more than to sleep by herself, but nonetheless, we all slept soundly--nestled in the feathers of our mother hen, and the mutual security we felt being so close to each other. As we grew older, we moved, and the situation of our family changed, the way in which we co-slept evolved as well in much the same way as it has evolved for our new family.

When we started sleep-sharing, the Dada and I were well-aware of the dangers of sleeping with a newborn, and had read many articles on the subject, but we decided to play it by ear, and we discovered that this just worked best for us. It started with the oldest sleeping in our bed full-time, and eventually being weaned into his own bed at about age three. This really meant that he'd start by sleeping part of the night in his bed, and as the night wore on, he'd tip-toe/run into the middle of our bed and slip under our covers. It all depended on whether there were monsters chasing him or not. Once he was potty trained, this also meant that I had to help him fight the monsters in the bathroom, and occasionally deal with wet bedsheets.

As our family has grown and changed, so has our sleep-sharing. When the Bee was born, Big Brother would at first attempt to squeeze into the middle of the bed right next to our newborn babe which I figured was not the safest thing. It meant that we had to coach the older boy to sleep in the middle at the foot of our bed, when he did bounce into our room during the middle of the night. The Bee enjoyed many months nestled next to me nursing and sleeping much the same way the older boy did; his parents fully aware of his presence in their bed.

Almost three years later since our last was born, we have established a bedtime routine that puts limits on their sleep-sharing. On good weeks, the older boy doesn't even participate, but lately there has been a rash of monsters in his room. Most nights, the boys get bathed by their daddy, teeth brushed, a book or two read in the bed of the older boy, followed by a ten minute snuggle form the participating adult until the older boy falls asleep. Sometimes this also puts the Bee to sleep, but most of the time it doesn't.

The Bee is a stubborn little lad that does not want to sleep. He sometimes requires rocking, and when this doesn't work, I usually give up, place him in his bed, and lie on the floor for a while until he falls asleep. And if this till doesn't work, I give up, run off leaving him awake in his bed. Sometimes he falls asleep at this point, and other times we play the you-run-out-of-your-room-and-I-throw-you-back-in game for many rounds. If his will happens to be stronger than mine that night, I give in and we sit on the couch while I pray the t.v. lulls him to sleep. Eventually, it does--this being midnight, and our actual sleep routine having started at around 9 pm. We have accepted the fact that our kids are just on another sleep schedule, but the Bee's resistance to sleep really drives us crazy. He can rival any kid his age in a no-sleep contest, and maybe even some adults.

Needless to say, It has been almost six years since I last had a good nights sleep. The boys usually show up in our bed around 3am or so, giving their parents some private time. The older boy sleeps at the foot of our bed, while the Bee cozies up next to me taking over my pillow, getting close enough to yank my hair or jab me a few times in the face while trying. On good nights, he will bestow these gestures on the Dada instead of me, and the I just get a few toe-nailed kicks to my side, which I prefer to the hair pulling. So boys, if you ever read this, know that you blessed your parents with many sleep-deprived, tortuous nights that often lead to one of the adults attempting to sleep in our queen-sized bed to relocate to another bed--usually the Dada, because your Mama knows that the Bee would just hunt her down once more. It has lead to what we call musical beds.

This post is neither for or against sleep-sharing; each family needs to make a choice that works best for them. We are ready to go without it now, but apparently our kids are not.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bee Happy and Learning!

This last week my youngest Bee got to go to his first day of school. He has been dyyyying to go to school this whole year. He'd beg his Dada to let him tag along to drop off the Older Boy at his co-op, and then the Bee would proceed to hold on to whatever object in the school looked securely bolted down or would simply runaway and attempt to hide. In the end, there would be some screaming and bargaining done, and the Bee would be ousted once more. "School, school, school," he'd repeat over and over and over again. He'd stamp his feet and protest, "I wanna go school, NOW." The dada would calmly try to tell him that his time would come, and he wasn't quite old enough to go just yet.

Last Monday must have been his happiest day ever in his short, but largely-lived life. He jumped out of bed at the mention of school, and before we knew it had drank his morning cup of chocolate milk (his idea of coffee), eaten his cereal, gotten dressed and hair brushed with a little help from the Mama, and brushed his teeth without a single complaint and a smile on his face. He just kept repeating, "I'm gonna go to school too-day." Every few minutes, he'd periodically stop to sing and dance his self-created little ditty--"now, now, now-now, now, now, now- now, now." This is always a sign that he is beyond overjoyed and excited.

His day started with a car ride and a big, cheesy grin that ended in much the same way. The Bee delighted in all the school had to offer: the snack table was visited often; a medal for sports day was decorated with copious amounts of glitter; a few laps around the school with several different trikes were taken; the dolls were all admired for their beauty as he lifted each against his chest and announced "beau-ti-ful"; the sand was used for digging, dust-bathing, and food preparation; the play structure became a safe haven from villains; and many balls were kicked or thrown.

He made new friends and even some temporary enemies-Miss A decided she did not want to befriend any boys and smacked him one. The next day, Miss A decided to make-up during circle time, and this time smacked a big juicy one on his cheek. Misguided love?Maybe? Thankfully, his older brother was there for support. In the end, all was perfect in his world, and I was able to be witness to another first. Had he started school in the fall, I would have missed it all--work beckons in August.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"Schools Out for Summer..."

-So the chorus goes. We listened as the DJ played this in the background while the last bell of the year rung. We couldn't get these middles-schoolers off campus fast enough. All day we had been trying to keep them from skipping school, and now that they were free to go, they were having trouble letting go. "GO HOME!" we yelled." GO HOME...

Breathe. School is finally out. I am trying to enjoy every bit of the freedom, because I know that once school starts again, it will be like being whisked away on a tidal wave. Surviving this tidal wave will require that I learn to break free from its force and come up for air on occasion until it delivers me once again on land.

Now that I am on land, I am trying to go through the check list of items I kept putting off all year, like washing my car, fixing random broken items, finding a house to purchase, and sleep. Yet, all I want to do is to continue to put these obligations aside so that I may spend time with my wee ones.

They start summer school tomorrow, and I am excited about the prospect of finally being able to participate in their Co-op. All year, their dada had enjoyed this duty, and I am not saying that sarcastically either. He totally loved helping out at the school and getting to know all the other children and parents/grandparents. We DO love our co-op! I only wish they also had a continued elementary school for them. To public school the elder goes, while the young one enjoys the wonders that are a co-op preschool for two more years.

They get to do sooooo much more than most traditional preschools do because the parent involvement makes such a huge difference on what and how they can learn. This year, he road on the Amtrak train with his friends to a beautiful park in Palo Alto, visited a couple theaters to watch a children's play, took a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the planetarium, spent over two months at a beautiful county park, made a trip to the art museum, chased butterflies while flying with their own self-created wings, put on a circus complete with tight rope walkers and ring master, enchanted their parents with their interpretation of The Nutcracker, marched in a parade in celebration of Chinese New Year while wearing traditional costumes in red and gold, star gazed in the still early darkeness of spring, spent a night exploring their schools during a culminating overnight stay, and ...the list goes on. The world would be a different place if all students were taught by a community of loving, nurturing, and interested adults.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Things They Say (or Said)

Big Brother: What are you doing daddy?
Daddy: I'm cooking some chicken breasts.
Big Brother: You mean your cooking some chicken boobies!

The Bee: Watya doin?

Mama: What are you doing with all those cards.
Big Brother: I am making some cards for Santa and his elves.
Mama: But Christmas is still two months away.
Big Brother: I know, but I want Santa to know I want EVERYTHING.

The Bee: Watya doin?

This post was originally drafted in December of 2008 and continued in June 2009. Yes. I AM that behind.

The Bee: Watya doin? (He says this phrase about 100 times a day, so I thought I'd make a point of it.)

The Bee: I WANT SOME ROCK-A-RONI! (macaroni)

Big Brother while attempting to put on his shoes: Grandma can you check my shoes for spiders.
Grandma taking a peek in the shoe: Nope. No spiders in there.
Big Brother starting to put on his his shoe, but changing his mind: Grandmaaaaa! Check again!
Grandma: Why?
Big Brother while flinging shoe: Aaaaah! Because there may be spider eggs inside and they might hatch and crawl on my foot. (Dramatic and paranoid.)

Big Brother: Do you want me to kill myself. (He is beyond dramatic.)

Big Brother while trying to steal Super George from the Bee: George is dead. He's dead.
The Bee while running and flying Super George in the air: He not dead. He's Thuperman!

The Bee: I want mommy! (He is definitely a mama's boy.)


Funny words the Bee mispronounces, but I love to hear him say.

Dino-roar (dinosaur)

Lemolade (lemonade)

Funny words the older boy used to mispronounce that I loved to hear.

hella-chocolate (helicopter, but I guess he loves chocolate so much he has to insert it in everything.)

noonol (noodle)

The things these boys say seriously make us laugh!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Kindergarten for the Masses

When did it become so complicated to find an elementary school? Didn't it use to be that parents went down to the district office, signed the kid up, and waited for their letter that accepted them into their neighborhood school. Apparently, that is not good enough anymore.

We tried to get the elder boy into a a magnet school within our school district we thought would fit his needs. It has an environmental focus, and large parent participation without being a co-op. We didn't get in--about 1000 parents applied to fill maybe 100 spots. Crazy!

His default "choice" now is to go to his neighborhood school which we hate. There is nothing worse than schools that do the bare minimum--no garden, extra curricular programs, fragmented parent involvement, and a business-type person as the principal. I know this school isn't the greatest. I worked there a few years ago part-time as a resource teacher, and I have worked in and researched many others schools in the meantime, so I have a basis for comparison.

There are a few great teachers in this school, but when I walked into most rooms, they were quiet, and students were busily completing one of many workbook pages/worksheets at their desks which were set in traditional rows. In my opinion, classrooms should be more project oriented, a workshop of sorts where students are busily learning; this is something I feel should be audible. There is a place for quiet and sitting down in desks for sure, but you should get a sense when you walk into a room that the kids own the room. Their work should be on the wall, they should be allowed to sit in other places besides their desk including the floor, and they should be responsible for most of the work involved in running a classroom outside of the teaching/lesson planning/grading.

I don't get this sense from his neighborhood school. I which his district would get a clue, and add other schools with a similar focus as the magnet school or other schools that are trying to do things differently. There needs to be more than one alternative for teaching a population of millions. Students are so different; we can't expect that one school format will work for them all. I know the old traditional standby won't work for my active son. Students should be able to choose schools/programs that fit their style of learning best, but unfortunately there just aren't that many options out there right now. We shouldn't all be trying to stuff our kids into a size 5 shoe. Shouldn't we find a shoe that fits?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Knock, Knock

The Bee has recently gotten into telling knock knock jokes he makes up himself. He just thinks all his jokes are hilarious and clever. We get the biggest kick out of listening to these jokes and watching him just laugh his butt off afterwards. His latest goes something like this.

Bee: Knock, knock
Me: Who's there?
Bee: "Dapu"
Me: "Dapu" who?
Bee while giggling and making gesture as if he was throwing something: "Dapu" trow it in du trash!
Bee: hahahahahahahahahahahah
Me: hahahahahahahahahahhahaha

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Yosemite Snow Days

We decided to venture into Yosemite this past winter break to give the boys their first taste of snow both figuratively and literally. It is safe to say they have a love-hate relationship with snow. Lucky for them, we don't live in a place that snows, and it is a short 3 and 1/2 hour trip away if they decide they want rekindle their whine for it.

Daddy dug them a snow cave that they enjoyed crawling in. The older boy did not want to work to build it. He would much rather watch and whine about how uncomfortable he was while someone else did all the work. It's nice to see the "happy" pictures post trip because during it you would have thought they would have rather gone home. "Vacationing" with kids can be quite a chore, eh.

My little ground squirrel.

They also built a snow run that they slid/tumbled down many times. In this picture you can see the littlest boy stuffing snow in his face. Thankfully it was not yellow. In his words, "I thirsty mommy."


My spring break is over, but at least I only have about 8 more weeks of work left this year and then I am "off" for the summer. I am looking forward to resuming my full time job as their mother, at least temporarily. Next year, I am happy to say I will be teaching math again which I LOVE! Then again, it is only 6th grade math and not algebra or calculus. That is surely not my idea of fun.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

On Safari

HELLOOOOOOOOOOOO! Is anybody out there!?

I have fallen off the blogosphere. I've had little to say. Around and around it goes. It being my life. Besides, I spend so much time at work, I have little else to talk about. Not that work doesn't come with its share of stories. Middle school is filled with plenty of drama, and life or death situations-well, at least according to the kids.

Frankly, they scare me most of the time. I can handle them in the classroom, but outside, where there are little boundaries, I feel like I am in the middle of an African Savanna. Watch out for the stampede, the hyenas, and the flailing monkeys. Are there monkeys in a savanna? Well, there are in mine. Not to mention the lions. You all know who the lions are, right? Most of them scare their teachers, too--especially when they are trying to burn down the school through the incineration of trash cans.

No my school is not in the ghetto. It is in a ridiculously expensive part of the bay area, but the insane are members of all tax brackets.


Maybe I will lighten this blog a bit by throwing some recent pictures of the boys. Recent being February when we took a trip to Yosemite over winter break. They had fun and enjoyed their first experience with snow once they stopped whining about how cold and wet they were.