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9/21/2006

He has the most, who is most content with the least

Well, Daddy has taken this last week to try and get back to his happy place. (Wheeeee!)

I'm still battling with the dentist, with the Better Business Bureau as a liaison (and I'm now convinced that the BBB is some corporate scam to make you THINK you're getting somewhere), and we're still in a financial crisis with Kristin's school, and nothing's changed much elsewhere, but this past week, I've just been focusing on..well, dealing with it all.

And things are okay. Ironically, my nonstop physical pain has pretty much stopped once I blogged it, so from here on out, I'm going to blog everything in the hope that that makes it go away.

So this last week, Kristin lost her best friend, she moved to Texas, but we made a new friend, a young boy from school, who Kristin insists is named "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star", and Toney's been on vacation this whole week, so he's painting the living room green (which has made it smaller), and we've redecorated and I watched Silent Hill (that rocked) and Poseidon, The Hills Have Eyes and Wolf Creek (all sucked).

I found a good recipe for Italian sausage, here, although I recommend omitting the juice from the canned diced tomato. Drain the tomatoes first. They will provide their own juice upon cooking. I won't blog the recipe because it's already online and it's not mine. We added parmesan cheese and chinese chili paste (I added so much to my plate, I cried while eating it). Of course we didn't add the chili paste to Kristin's meal and she still wouldn't eat it, so it's not for kids, but I figured that from the beginning so had a backup for her. It's good for adults though, if you like italian sausage but get tired of spaghetti and lasagna as choices for it.

Otherwise, life goes on, we're still struggling, I'm still looking for more work. We've spent the last week planning on how to withdraw Kristin from school as seamlessly as possible, then worked out a way to keep her in, at least through December. We've been working on the house.

We caught a rat, which actually looked very soft and cuddly, if it wasn't for the fact that it was in it's death throes in the trap. (I read about how the CDC is looking for the source of the E Coli out here. I recommend looking at rats. They came to our house while the fields were sprayed with pesticide. Rats spread disease, we know that from the bubonic plague and the black death. E Coli comes from cow feces. How can cow feces get onto spinach? Well, let's look at the rat situation out here, people, please).

Anyway, we have no more rats in the house, which is good, because they poop and piss everywhere. I think the bait under the house has taken care of any rats outside too.

Otherwise, life goes on, and we just chug on with the day. New friends for Kristin, a new living room Toney's working on, I'm looking for more (new) work, not much exciting or worth blogging about. Life goes on, and life is good.

Kristin's learning to read now. We got a list of words from the school, that she's been learning. Pan, Can, Bat, and of course, Rat.

9/13/2006

All In The Family

In the comment section of my previous post, I made a comment that Kristin was my purpose in life. Just so nobody thinks I'm wacko, (or at least certifiable), I want to just spell out how I have come to that decision.

We did a surrogacy, working with two surrogacy agencies in order to create our family. After 4 years time, we had never gotten beyond a waiting list, we had never even met a surrogate or seen a profile and had no idea if anybody had seen ours.

My dream of a family was just not happening. I took matters into my own hands, I began to look for a surrogate myself and found one in six months. We fired the agencies.

I then spent the next two years of my life researching the legalities of surrogacies. I had to research California law, the law of the state of the surrogate, interstate (federal) law, I had to create our own contracts. Contracts that would determine the safety of my own family should anybody in the process ever change their mind, so it was like trying to write a contract for my own soul, there was no room for error.

Because the surrogate was east coast, there were numerous travel expenses, and other expenses were just adding up so that ultimately we had to skip the medical help and I did the inseminations myself. I had no doctors to turn to, it was all my own guesswork and research.

For a total of almost 7 years (counting the 4 years of waiting for the agencies), this was my heart and soul, this was my life, this was on my mind 24/7 because it was ultimately me doing everything. It was my dream and there was no help. I couldn't have done this if I wasn't as dedicated as I was, there was just no way.

I was constantly beaten down during this process, there were so many reasons to just give it up, so many obstacles to overcome, so much fighting to do. There were surrogates who's motivation was money instead of helping others, there were surrogates who wanted to be pregnant as a means of avoiding their husbands, Toney was right there by my side, but he didn't know what to do, I was exhausted, I was drained, the false pregnancies, the psychiatric profiles I had to go through, the trusting of a stranger with my dream, it was all such an emotional rollercoaster I cannot even put it into words.

When I explained to my family what I was going to attempt to do, I received a letter from my father one day. It was the most devastating moment of my life. He wrote to tell me that he could not emotionally support a surrogacy, that it was fooling with nature and that he could not be there for me if anything went wrong. But if I was successful, he would love the child and she/he would always have a place in his heart. That was absolute devastation beyond words. For the next three years I didn't talk to him, it was only upon the death of my mother (they were estranged) that the realization of mortality let me forgive him and now we have a pretty good relationship and I will always let Kristin know her grandfather.

But it was tough, it was like your parent telling you, "If you lose your child, don't come to me." For years, there were fears of losing the money through this or that mistake, and then of losing my child, and I wasn't able to turn to my own parent for a shoulder to cry on. And I swear on my soul Kristin will never know that feeling.

I could not have endured all that I did, if creating my family did not become my purpose. It wouldn't have happened. I had to live FOR my family, and so I did, and I am so at peace with it. I don't buy anything for myself, I don't need to. My career has taken a second seat to the raising of my family, and it always will from now on.

This is why I can't just go work in a cubicle and put her in daycare so someone else can raise her. I didn't go through all those years for that. I can't do it.

Nobody helped, nobody was there, so I turn to nobody now and most likely never will again. She is my world, she is my purpose for being and I wouldn't have it any other way.












9/12/2006

Standing At A Crossroads

At some point in everyone's life, we come to a crossroads. Truthfully, we hit many crossroads, although not all of them involve a monumental change in direction. I'm at one now that does.

I think I'm becoming jaded. I'm rapidly losing my faith in Man and I hate that, and I can't seem to stop it.

Yesterday, September 11th, I did my best to honor the victims of 911 by going on with my life, by moving forward. I'm cynical now, I'm the only one (that I'm aware of) who seems to notice that all the pomp and ceremony of yesterday coincides with election year. Where was all this celebration on the 1 year anniversary? On the 2, 3 or 4 year anniversary?

There's certainly a lot of ceremony on the anniversary that falls on election year. The whole fiasco regarding ABC's Path to 911 only further convinces me that there is a political agenda behind what is supposed to be a solemn tribute to the fallen. Why fictionalize it unless politics are involved in rewriting history?

And so my faith in Man crumbles a little.

I'm certainly not one prone to hypochondria, but I wonder if I might have some form of cancer. Prostate, or testicular, or something else, I don't know. I've had pain for about 2 years now, but being self-employed so I can stay at home and raise Kristin, I don't have health insurance and in this country healthcare is for the rich. With the way HMO's and insurance companies operate, this is one of the few countries I know of where healthcare is based on profit first, the health of the patient second. I read news articles about the success of nationalized healthcare in Canada and I can see that the wealth of HMO's/insurance companies will actively work to prevent such a situation here, and my faith in Man crumbles a little more.

I read a comment about the recent death of Anna Nicole Smith's son and they were wondering why she chose Bermuda as a place to give birth. Somebody else responded that many people go out of the country now for healthcare. Sex changes are cheaper in Thailand, cancer treatments, HIV drugs are more affordable in Canada or Mexico. America's elderly turns to overseas to get their expensive medications. There is something so fundamentally wrong with that, when we are the richest nation in the world, that my faith in Man crumbles a little more.

I'm not that old, 41 to be exact, but I can remember a time when the motto of business was 'the customer is always right'. Now it is 'let the buyer beware'.

I went to a restaurant the other day to get food for us. It was a freaking battle to get the order right and to get the order packaged properly. I had to ask for a tray to hold the drinks. I had to ask for a bag big enough to hold everything. I had to ask for ketchup, I had to ask for napkins, I forgot to ask for straws and so I didn't get any. I would give Toney's order and then I'd hear 'your total is...'

"But wait, I'm not done." So I'd continue, ordering the kids meal, and hear 'your total is..'

WAIT. I'M NOT DONE.

I'm the customer, it's supposed to be your job to please me. Instead I am nothing but a hassle for you anymore.

And it's not just the restaurant. I've ranted against big business, places like Wal Mart that harm the communities they move into, by causing taxes to go up and lowering the standard of living in the community... and everybody knows the jokes of trying to deal with customer support for your phone, satellite system or for your computer and you get to talk to somebody in another country, who you can't even understand...

And now my dentist, I've had to file a claim with the Better Business Bureau out here. I've got a chipped front tooth, which is the result of a hate crime I went through years back, (I was severely beaten while Leviticus was quoted at me). I had a fractured skull, a concussion, there is a scar by my lip and my front tooth is chipped. In the two years I've been going to the dentist, I still have my chipped tooth. At this point, I realize that it is my Scarlet Letter, although society sees it and assumes I must be white trash destined for some future episode of COPS. Who knows what business deals I've lost because of it. It just irritates me, in 2 years, either me or my now-non-existant dental insurance paid the dentist over 9,000 for routine matters, fixing my teeth, and peridontal disease.

I suspect I never had peridontal disease, I don't know. Nothing's changed, they said I still have it after their treatment. I've never had or felt any problem. There's nothing visible. But I still have almost all my cavities, I still have my chipped tooth, I have nothing to show for 9,000. I think it's just a rip-off and now they're destroying my credit because they want more money.

Let the buyer beware in every aspect of shopping. Let the buyer beware of genetically modified foods, modified for profit. Let the buyer beware of buying plastic crap made by little Chinese children chained to large machines so that we can think we are getting a good bargain (there's a whole story behind that one that a friend of mine told me yesterday, yet another reason to despise WalMart. And the guy who told me was a conservative Republican, not a liberal, who got his information because his friend is an investigator who's job it is to go overseas and research human rights abuses).

Let the buyer beware in EVERY aspect of business. My faith in Man crumbles a little more, with every interaction with Mankind.

I see reports that of the top 20 nations where achieving that pot of gold is possible, America is now number 20 in terms of it happening. The ability to rise up out of poverty is almost gone. It is gone for many. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow no longer exists for the majority of Americans. It would take a family of 4, 9 generations to get out of poverty now, only nepotism, inheritance or an incredibly lucky event like winning the lottery makes it a reality for most now.

My faith in Man crumbles a little more.

And to me, the biggest kicker...if you recall, I was going to homeschool Kristin this year in order to save money. We prefer the Montessori program over the study-for-one-test method of No Child Left Behind that's mandated in public schools. There's little difference anymore between a free education and no education, in this country.

I couldn't give her the socialization that she gets with a classroom full of classmates though, so this summer, we decided we needed to try and put her in school again. As fate would have it, they sold part of the building Toney works in. We own 5% of that building and so were expecting a bit of money which we told the school was going to go directly towards her tuition. They were fine with that, with waiting until they got any money.

So she's in school now, since August and the business deal is now postponed until December, so what do I do? Yank her out of school? My promise to the school fell through, through no fault of my own. She's been getting adjusted to being in class again, if there's one thing I cannot do, it's create an unstable situation for her. It tears me up because the reason I might have to do that is out of my control, no fault of my own. At this point, it looks like we will be lucky to get our initial investment back at all, if ever, way down the road. We can pretty much kiss any profit goodbye though.

And my faith in Man crumbles a little more and I'm pissed that my daughter's schooling is now in this situation, through no fault of my own.

I think my days of being a stay at home parent are over. I've got to do something for health insurance, for my pain, for her tuition, for my bed and breakfast dream that I've blogged about, everything..EVERYTHING has been shot down or made impossible by outside forces, by unscrupulous profit seekers, by people who are rude and who would not bother to piss on you if you were on fire.

Some of the comments, the debates I've seen on the Crocodile Hunters death amazes me. Even PETA made some comment about 'well what do you expect when you taunt animals'. I can understand believing somebody on death row might deserve death, but now we live in a world where we have no remorse and believe that a mistake DESERVES death. (Serves him right, is the sentiment). That's not the kind of world I want to live in.

And my faith in Man crumbles a little more.

And so now I find myself at a crossroads.

"There's a perspective there and it's a human being in the crossroads, in this pinnacle, in this precarious balance of decision making. It's really about brutal honesty and about going to war with yourself and hopefully winning." - Jared Leto

What do I do, which way do I go?

I am willing, so willing, to work as hard as imaginable to get my own business going, a bed and breakfast. I would work my ass off to make sure it is the best B&B around. I can find no help anymore and I can't do the financing on my own. There's Canada, a place where finding that pot of gold and achieving that American dream is far more likely statistically, than here in America. Plus, we could get the protections of marriage and I could get health care.

Do I take that road?

Do I abandon my dream of starting my own business (one where the buyer needn't beware but can actually relax and kick his feet up, I place where I promise you, the customer would always be right), and go become a slave in some cubicle somewhere? I'd have to do daycare and Kristin would probably see me for about an hour a day, just like her other daddy. That idea sucks. How much longer before I don't have a choice?

Do I take that road?

Do we move to a cheaper state, so that the cost of living is easier and we can ultimately own a home, possibly a business, but with the trade off being that it is a more hostile state towards the legal protections/recognition of my own family? How much of that can I afford to sacrifice in order to save money? I hate the fact that I have to consider it at all.

Do I take that road?

Is there some unforeseen road before me, the right road to take but which I cannot see now because of my frustration and physical discomfort? Is this the road for me to take?

Whatever road I take, it's got to be around enough people so that Kristin has access to friends and school, but it's going to be remote enough so that I can get back to dealing with the small town environment where there's still sincerity behind the 'hellos' and the callousness and soul-sucking of big business hasn't taken hold just yet.

Because Kristin's school is expecting about 4k this month, money that won't be coming in, I have about 24 to 36 hours to decide on a road, so that I can begin taking it because going down any road is a lengthy process, and time is one thing I am about out of.

9/10/2006

You can't make a silk purse from a sows ear

The three of us were at the mall last night shopping. Toney's flying out of town tomorrow (yes, on Sept. 11th) and wanted to buy some comfy sweats for the plane ride. We went ahead and had dinner at the food court.

Kristin took one of her purses full of her quarters for the merry go round in the center of the mall, but as expected, I ended up holding the purse.

As we were sitting there eating, I mentioned that I was going to put the purse in the shopping bag because I was getting strange looks. (I was kidding, I didn't notice anybody looking at me)

Toney's reply was: "Is it the purse everybody's looking at, or the swishing hips?"

My icy stare makes him immediately try and dig himself out of it, "Or maybe it's the enormous package you're sporting around."

Yeah, right. Too late.

9/08/2006

Making Snacks Fun For Kids

Many of these snacks I've stumbled across on the web, the kids can help make, which helps guarantee they will eat them.

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Ants on a Toilet Seat

Ingredients:
apples
peanut butter
miniature chocolate chips

First core and peel an apple. Then cut the apple into slices so there is a hole in the middle (like pineapple rings). Have the kids put a layer of peanut butter on the apple and top it with the chocolate chips. Raisins could probably also be used, although I can't get Kristin to eat raisins.

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Cheese Hammers

Ingredients:
cheese
pretzel sticks

Cut a variety of cheeses into small squares. Poke a pretzel stick into each one. Children can connect their cubed cheese with the pretzel sticks to make cheese towers. Show them off before eating.

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Muffin Pizzas

Ingredients:
English muffin
pizza (or tomato) sauce
mozarella cheese

Cut one English Muffin in half. Spread insides with margarine. Place on a broiler tray. Place in broiler, broil until just brown. Spread each muffin with a little tomato sauce. Sprinkle cheese evenly over muffin. Place under broiler until bubbly. A great, filling snack.

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Pudding-wiches

Ingredients:
Peanut butter
milk
instant pudding mix, any flavor
graham crackers

In a bowl, blend 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter into 3/4 cup milk. Add 1/2 box of instant pudding mix, your favorite flavor. Beat slowly with hand beater until well-blended (two minutes). Let stand 5 minutes. Spread the filling between graham crackers. Freeze until firm - about three hours.

This one is good for teaching them the benefits of waiting.

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Snack Tubes

Ingredients:
your choice

Put small amounts of trail mix, cereal, pretzels, etc. in plastic sandwich bags and insert them in cardboard toilet paper tubes. Then wrap tube in a piece of tissue paper and tie the ends with yarn or ribbon. Give the tubes to the children at snack time.

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Yogurt-Cereal Sundaes

Ingredients:
Bananas (or your choice of fruit)
Cheerios
Yogurt, custard style

Slice 1 banana. Alternate layers of the banana, yogurt (3 oz. custard style yogurt, any flavor), and 1/2 cup Cheerios in parfait glasses or cups.

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Kids' Kabobs

Ingredients:
Your choice, fruits and cheeses

Using toothpicks as skewers, thread fruit and cheese. Some choices are pineapple, strawberries, chunks of mozzerella cheese, grapes, cheddar cheese and apples. You can cater to your child's taste. Make a big batch and stick them in a tupperware in the fridge, low down if your child has access to the fridge. Use seasonal or canned fruit and big chunks of cheese you can cube down to size. Be careful of the toothpicks if the child is small.

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Kids' Choice

Ingredients:
Your choice, fruits, veggies and cheeses

Take a six-cupcake tin and put a different treat in each cupcake spot. Cheese cubes, vegetables (broccoli, carrots, sugar snap peas, etc.), cereal, raisins, fruit, yogurt, pretzels, crackers, nuts, pieces of bagel, etc. Make a wide array of choices, kids love the ability to pick what they want. What isn't used is covered and the following day add new selections. Sometimes you may have to end up eating what hasn't been picked in a day or two but over time you will find your child exploring and picking new options, just for the joy of picking it.

9/07/2006

Like A Punch In The Gut

Tonight was the first night I had to send Kristin to bed without dinner. She's just 4, so it was tough, but it is what it is.

She was sent to bed 2 hours early, and I gave her some ritz crackers, grapes and a piece of cheese so she wouldn't go to bed starving.

You must know how strong willed this child is, it's just incredible. All day long, it was a battle over food, amounts and what type of food. Also, she has some new Learning Company software (Reader Rabbit, Arthur and a kids photoshop type of program). She just clicks and clicks rampantly, then every two minutes, "Daddy, I need your help". She doesn't know what to do. So I tell her to slow down and listen to the characters, they will tell you what they want (Arthur is standing there on this map of a carnival. He says, "Now I want to go left", so you hit the left arrow key, etc.)

I told her to slow down and listen to the chara..."No, no, no, Daddy," click, click, click. She wouldn't slow down. So I said, "okay, I tried to help you, you don't want to listen to me (or the software)", so I turn away. Two minutes of rampant clicking later, "Daddy, I need your help." This goes on and on and on.

"Hungry, daddy, hungry." I heard this about 1,000 times today. Yet she didn't eat breakfast and when I picked her up from school, her lunchbox was full. She didn't eat lunch. As soon as we got home, "Chips, I want chips. Hungry, hungry, hungry."

I gave her a brief 3:00 snack then said she will just have to wait until dinner.

"No, no, no Daddy, I want to eat now. I hate dinner."

And on and on the day went.

It was tough sending her to bed. I'm condensing the whole day, I don't want to relive it all, especially the part in the bed when she realized I was serious. Don't think I'm overly tough, I'm not. I have my breaking point, she gets away with so much, but today she pushed it to the line.

When she got in trouble previously, we would send her to her room to 'think about it'. Then we sit down with her and talk it out. Surprisingly, for her age, she has always done well thinking things through. I really think she understood a lot of times why she was in trouble.

But tonight as soon as she got into her bed, she turned to me, "I thought about it Daddy." Which clearly meant she didn't. She's just saying that because that's the next step. Just saying "I thought about it" doesn't mean it's okay.

It was tough, but...sigh...tonight was the first night she had to go to bed without dinner.

Crazy, Crazy, Crazy

I just saw on Keith Olberman's show, when they were talking about this ABC miniseries, The Path to 911, that conservatives (and the premise of the show) are saying that 911 is Clinton's fault because he was distracted with the Lewinsky affair.

I didn't just see that, did I? Yes, I did.

That's like saying, "The acting President was distracted from national security because of OUR witchhunt against him, so it's HIS fault."

Crazy, crazy world.

9/05/2006

For The Love Of Food

(A random assortment of thoughts all loosely related)

I had blogged the other day about the FDA allowing companies to spray luncheon meats with a virus to kill bacteria. I didn't elaborate on my own thoughts beyond the assumption that it was really a way to prolong the shelf life of meat.

I then later got into a food discussion on a message board and was told that it wasn't what we eat but how much we eat that makes us fat. I was told that someone could get fat on celery if the serving was too large. (It was a rant about large American servings). While I didn't, and don't dispute that servings for many Americans have increased over the years, it was painful to see such a misunderstanding of food take place.

If you've read my blog for awhile, you know I am a fan of old world cooking. I love making what our forefathers made. I've got Indian recipes, old Japanese recipes, Old World (European) recipes, etc. It's fun and it's healthy. Do a google search for images and use as your search phrase, something like '1850'. You will not find an obese person, people weren't fat then. Now, there were people who were starving, so discount the pictures of peasants or famine, and look at the pictures of plantations, cities, and whatnot, where you know poverty wasn't a factor.

What's changed besides our lifestyle and the fact that Americans are more prone to sit now? What we eat. It's content, not quantity. As I said on that message board, a piece of meat cooked in lard has more fat than 10 pounds of pancakes.

That's what I believe, I'm not educated via a school about nutrition, but I cook, I read cookbooks and nutritional books (Toney is a certified chef, although working in IT right now...all I have to do is ask any question out loud and I get the answer), I'm stickin to my beliefs.

Why I bring this up, is not only because of the virus story and the message board conversation, but because we live close enough to the fields (that I always talk about) out here, that when they spray the fields with pesticide, we get a notice on the door. I just got another notice posted on my door, so this stuff is on my mind again.

I don't think that coating the luncheon meat with a virus would cause harm if I bought a package and ate a hotdog, but my concern is over time. Kristin is 4, what about when she's 40 and virus coated meat is all she and my grandchildren have known? And then what happens if we can no longer coat meat with viruses for whatever reason? I just don't think things like that are really to help the public but rather to help the product. Obviously some people die by eating uncooked hotdogs (which technically are cooked). That's bad. I don't think genetically altering them or coating them with viruses to avoid some lawsuits is in humanities best interest though. Sorry. I think it's more of a corporate thing going on and I think it is downright detrimental.

Pesticides are obviously a corporate thing, their very nature is to minimize loss. I don't know what to say about that, I know we can't and won't just chuck pesticides away, but we seem to be moving farther down that dangerous path of mutating what we eat.

I saw a show, or read it on a blog, I can't remember which, about how much of a high fructose corn syrup society we are. It's in everything, snacks, sodas, meals, desserts, etc. and they speculated that if something happened to the nations corn supply, peoples bodies would go into shock, millions would get sick much easier, and imagine the ripple effects like road rage, the ways it could affect us I can't even begin to conceive.

After water, high fructose corn syrup is the biggest ingredient in both soda and Sunny D, but you would never think to equate them, would you?

Granted a collapsing corn industry is extreme, but step by step we are moving towards an extreme of some unknown quantity. We know what natural disasters can do, and if that isn't enough, we're moving towards an era where we won't be able to eat what nature gives us without mutating it in some way first.

Also, Toney is a diabetic and he says I give Kristin too much sugar. It's often caused a few disagreements because I see differently. I grew up eating a certain way and not only do I not have any food related problems now, but I also don't care for sweets, cakes, pies, etc. I make them but I don't eat them, and she's not getting any more than I got when I was growing up. He's rightly concerned though because of his encounters with food and becoming a diabetic himself. I understand that and we are always working on finding that middle ground.

I know there is an epidemic of obesity and/or diabetes in this country going on, and so we do want to watch what we eat, and I do want to limit high fructose corn syrup, sugar, caffeine and other elements from her diet, but even within our house, we can disagree on how much is too much. It makes things challenging for me, I want to cook healthy for him, but I also don't want her to be restricted to a diabetic diet, so there's always this quest for the middle ground. Old World Cooking brings me the closest to it, it seems. Surprise, surprise, the food nature gave us.

And that's why in my recipes, you will quite often find a return to a time when nature gave you a hearty meal, a time when the food on the table wasn't the problem - just getting the food on the table was.

We don't need to change what nature gave us to live on. Nature made us to live on it. I believe now that any change to diet because of commercialism/product is to the detriment of the body, I just don't see any examples of otherwise.

I want my own family sustaining garden so bad, and now I want my own virus free hogs, chickens and cows too.

9/03/2006

Opening Presents


Kristin had a birthday celebration at school, and had a Chuck E. Cheese outing, but did the actual present opening at home with just her dads. It probably actually turned out better than having the normal birthday party, because she got to have it extended over several days. Presents are still coming in via UPS.


Talking on the phone. Whenever extended family calls, she will talk on the phone for 15 minutes or more. Sometimes I'll go to track her down (since she wanders around the house or backyard while chatting), and there she will be, lying on her bed, head on her arm, legs crossed just chatting like a teenager.





She got the game Don't Wake Daddy. Let's say if reality is any indicator of the board game, she won't do very well.


Hamming it up.


Her hair is finally growing out, although she won't let me put anything in it. No barettes, no headbands, no pony tails, nothing at all, so until it gets long enough to just hang there, I don't know what to do with it, but I'm glad we're finally letting it grow out.

9/01/2006

Next Stop: President of Harper Valley PTA

How long has it been since I've blogged? One week? Two? (yeah, I can see the date of the last post). It feels like forever.

I've had a sick child, but that lasted only a short while, but then Toney got sick, he says from her, but he's gotten it far worse and no less than 5 days now, including having to stay home from work. I don't think he got what he has from her, but I dunno, my vote is being overridden.

Another slam from work, database work for hours on end, numbers, figures, excel spreadsheets day and night, cut and paste, excel functions, uploading, shipping, freight, alaska and hawaii don't do ground shipping, on and on.

What else have I had to absorb this past week besides endless work and a sick family? Oh, yeah, a birthday. Now Kristin is 4, time flies, it just seems like yesterday that I was striving to bring her into this world, now she's turning into a young girl right before my helpless eyes.

Of course you know we're back to school, that's actually made it hard to do the birthday party because Kristin's birthday is during the first week of school and that's right when everybody is trying to get acclimated back into their school schedules (oh, we would love to come but there's so much going on right now...)

So her birthday was actually:
1) We made cookies with sprinkles on it and we passed those out at school. Everybody got to sing happy birthday to her and she had her special time at school.
2) On her birthday, she opened presents and had cake after dinner with her daddies.
3) This weekend we are taking her to Chuck E. Cheese.

So there really wasn't a big party, but it's been spread out over a few days and broken into steps. I feel so bad, but it wasn't entirely in my control. She's loved every minute so my guilt is entirely my own to bear.

I also took her to Bonfante Gardens in Gilroy, Ca. with some of her friends, although it wasn't associated with her birthday. THAT was an expedition.

Bonfante Gardens is fun, if expensive. It started with a farmer years ago who began creating this garden. Over his lifetime, he sculpted trees and topiary into this incredibly big garden. There are walkways with trees on both sides, but over your head the trees merge together into one trunk. And there are trunks shaped like lattice work, shrubs shaped like animals, it's a really incredible garden. There are rides and an amphitheater, although it's really small so only entertaining for preschoolers. Just perfect for Kristin's age right now. The gardens are beautiful to view. It's really small though, a far cry from a Six Flags, not worth traveling too unless you live nearby and have a small one.

Last year it was on the verge of bankruptcy and was bought by Paramounts Great America (located 30 minutes north in San Jose), so it has the backing now of a larger amusement park corporation.

The rides (because we live in the central valley, one of the main areas of America's produce growing) consist of spinning garlic buds or twirling strawberries, or worm trains burrowing through apples, etc. Kristin had a great time.

Working, databases, parenting, entertainment, sickness and school, I'm still here, just trying to keep up with it all.


Bonfante Gardens. I actually didn't get any good pics of the sculpted tree trunks shaped to be arches or domes, some of them are truly incredible. There's also the ability to walk underneath large waterfalls. When we were there, we were there with friends, so I was more focused on my immediate surroundings (Toney's the camera guy, not me, which is why there's always pics of me and Kristin, not him). But he didn't go with us to the Gardens, so it was my job to take pics. And so in that case, we're all lucky we got the pics we did. We'll go again and I'll get him to take better pics.



Kristin and friend in the twirling strawberries.


Riding the little smiley faces, I'm not sure what they are.



The water area. Water shoots up from the ground, out of the frogs mouths, down the walls, it's just a place for the kids to cool off because in Gilroy, it gets HOT. The mountains surrounding the valley block any breeze.



Water, water, water. Kristin loves water but still has an issue with water in the eyes. We need to work on that, and I need to get her enrolled in swimming classes. I'm behind on that.



Relief from the heat!



Kristin, friends and chaperone ride the ferris wheel. She was scared but brave because daddy wasn't on board! (It's great to have a teen be 'chaperone' because adults don't fit on all the rides).


It is hard work keeping a toddler busy! To all parents who have more than one child, my hat is off to you, especially if you work too.

8/26/2006

Preschool = Contagion Central

Trying to remain positive! Last year Kristin was sick for at least 6 or 7 months with just about everything.

Now, we've just completed the first week of school for this year, and Kristin was up all night, tossing and turning and moaning and now she's on the couch with a fever.

Here we go again.

8/25/2006

maybe it's time to go vegan

source

The FDA has approved spraying luncheon meats like hotdogs and bologna with viruses to kill bacteria. No labeling or notifying of the public needs to take place.

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Weeeeell, they finally found a way to sell rotten meat, didn't they?

8/24/2006

Slow And Steady Wins The Race

I get a lot of comments from blog readers about the positive thinking on my blog. I think there are two things that parenting has given me, for which I am fortunate to have acquired. One is, of course, positive thinking. You've got to be upbeat and positive so the little one can learn that and by continually putting myself in a positive frame of mind, little by little, that frame of mind becomes permanent.

I really think that one is the most drastic change for me, when I was younger, not only was my self-esteem lower, but I was a very negative, cynical person. (That kind of goes hand in hand with low self-esteem).

The other change though, and one that I'm equally grateful to have gone through, is speed. I've really slowed down. I'm the tortoise in the rabbit/tortoise race.

If you look at everything around you (well, around me anyway), slow seems to be natures way too. Whether it's the slow erosion of time and weather eating away at the mountains or watching how a child plays, they take their time. It's only adult humans that seem to never have enough time. Why is that, we ask? Because adult humans have more responsibility and obligations?

But my responsibilities and obligations have probably never been greater than they are right now, raising a child. And yet, I take my time, so no, that's not it. It actually seems to be nothing more than misplaced priorities. It's easy to misplace them though, when we get caught up in a rat race.

This line of thought came up while I was sitting at an intersection today. I was 'first leader' as Kristin refers to it, and there was another car right beside me, both of us waiting for the light to turn green. Just past the intersection, the road narrowed down to one lane.

In the past, my foot would have been gunning that accelerator, I would have been eager to zip across the intersection and be first on the other side, so that I wouldn't be stuck behind anybody slower. Times change, now it doesn't matter.

When we get out of the car, I'll stand there with the door open, waiting for Kristin to finish unbuckling herself and climb out of the car. I'll think that I could have easily taken two trips to the front door with groceries by the time it takes her to get out of the car. Times change, now it doesn't matter.

"Rivers know this: there is no hurry. We shall get there some day." - Winnie the Pooh

The other day she and I were walking across a grocery store parking lot, hand in hand, when some lady trying to back her car out, gave me a dirty scowl and flippant hand movement because we were walking too slow. What am I supposed to do, drag my child? We were walking at a child's pace and that is just fine.

Our jobs and our days require us to multi-task, and I'm good at that, but I don't enjoy it. I much prefer the slower, more thorough route.

A child has little to no obligations. There's school, there's bedtime and all that, but it's insignificant in number, compared to when we grow up. It's nice to see a child walk from the car to the door via one of those Family Circus dotted line routes that covers everything in the yard/site.

And you still get to the door, don't ya? But you had a lot more fun along the way. As adults, it is too easy for us to forget that.

"Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

8/18/2006

Little Lotta Literal

Today, Kristin and I went to the store and I was trying to make a left turn on a 5 lane street, where the middle lane is one of those that people from both directions can pull into, to make left turns.

And we were waiting there to turn left, waiting and waiting...and waiting and waiting...there seemed to be no end to the oncoming traffic, it was unusual for that spot, there had to be something going on.

"Where is all this traffic coming from?" I wondered aloud.

"Daddy," pipes a voice from the back seat with a tone of 'gosh, this older generation sure doesn't get it'. I glance in the rear view mirror in time to see her point directly in front of us, "It's coming from that direction."

Autumn Apple and Walnut Salad

Because fall is just around the corner. This crisp, nutty salad is rich with autumn colors and the special taste of sherry vinegar. 4 to 6 portions.

Ingredients:

2 Granny Smith apples, chilled
2 Red Delicious apples, chilled
1/2 cup sherry vinegar (or more according to taste)
1 cup chopped celery
3 scallions, cleaned and cut diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup shelled walnut halves
4 to 5 tablespoons walnut oil

1) Wash the apples and dry them well. Core and chop, but do not peel them, and toss them in a bowl with the sherry vinegar.

2) Add celery, scallions and walnut halves, and drizzle with 4 tablespoons of the walnut oil. Toss again.

3) Taste and correct seasoning, adding more vinegar and up to 1 tablespoon more oil as necessary, and serve immediately.

Children Of Same-Sex Parents Harmed By Gay Marriage Bans

From 365gay.com:

(Washington) The nation's largest pediatricians group said Wednesday that children would benefit from the legalization of same-sex marriage.

In a 16-page report the American Academy of Pediatrics found that children of same-sex parents do better in areas of the country which recognize their parents' relationships.

"Children of same-gender parents often experience economic, legal, and familial insecurity as a result of the absence of legal recognition of their bonds to nonbiological parents" and that "legal recognition of a [same-gender] spouse can increase the ability of adult couples to provide and care for one another and fosters a nurturing and secure environment for their children," the report said.

Titled "The Effects of Marriage, Civil Union and Domestic Partnership Laws on the Health and Well-Being of Children" the report was commissioned by the American Academy of Pediatrics Board of Directors.

"As children, many gay and lesbian persons experience considerable isolation, peer rejection, ridicule, harassment, and/or depression at some time," the report noted. "At least 47% of gay and lesbian teens have seriously considered suicide, and 36% have actually attempted suicide.23 They may experience rejection by their families, homelessness, maltreatment in school, and violence. As adults, gay and lesbian people continue to experience social marginalization, discrimination, and hate-crime violence.

"Nationwide political and religious debate over samegender marriage has intensified an already unstable climate for gay men and lesbians in our society. The lack of societal tolerance, acceptance, and support that gay and lesbian individuals, couples, and their children experience can and does affect their psychosocial and physical health and safety."

The report was published Wednesday in the July of the AAP journal Pediatrics.

With 55,000 members, the AAP is the largest and most influential professional organization for pediatricians in the United States.

"The nation's largest organization for pediatricians knows what it's talking about: marriage is good for all families," said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese.

"The Academy's report is based on solid research showing that sexual orientation makes no difference when it comes to parenting and they aren't alone in that finding. Every single credible child welfare organization has said that sexual orientation has nothing to do with the ability to be a good parent. It's having a loving home that matters."

The report also was hailed by gays in the medical profession.

"This report confirms what all parents know: that it’s love that makes a family," said Gay and Lesbian Medical Association Executive Director, Joel Ginsberg.

"State and federal legislators who say they’re trying to 'protect' children by sponsoring constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage are not just wrong, they are actively harming the health and well-being of all our children."

©365Gay.com 2006

8/11/2006

Hand in hand, on the edge of the sand, they danced by the light of the moon

Tonight is mine and Toney's 22nd anniversary and I'm blogging. How married is that?

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Tonight, when I put Kristin to bed, I reiterated again about staying in bed. She held up two fingers as if negotiating two, but said, "just until ten. I have to stay in bed until ten, then I can get in Daddy's bed." She nodded as if confirming her own idea.

--

I needed to give her swimming lessons this summer. I didn't and now summer has come and practically gone. We did sit in the jacuzzi and she made great progress in holding her nose and going under. It's a start.

--

I was going to homeschool her this year, since she's just repeating preschool. But no. This summer made me realize the socialization is just too hard. We don't know enough people to fill her days up. We do the library, we go to the park and she has no problem approaching kids, and she has her playmates that she meets with semi-regularly, but I can't fill the days up. I really think if I was going to homeschool her, I need to, everyday, still put her around other kids in some environment, in some way. She's too social. Her age is like right at that stage, where she doesn't know how to play by herself. The imagination is just developing, she learns by observation and so she learns very little when she plays alone, because she's not much of an explorer or a curious tinkerer.

That aspect of homeschooling, compensating for the lack of socialization, actually turned out to be much more difficult to overcome than getting a preschool/kindergarten cirriculum.

So next week is the last week of summer, then it's back to preschool. I think she's looking forward to it. I'll be able to get back to blogging and filling my hours up with work, we'll get back to our regular schedule.

Summer days of soaking in the warm-as-bathwater jacuzzi, while watching the palm tree fronds sway in the cloudless, blue sky, and while Kristin giggles and bounces at the other end of the jacuzzi, are coming to an end. Sigh.

I hope these are memories for her, they sure will be for me.

8/10/2006

The Daddy Card

I always try and keep logic and reasoning tied in with each decision I make in regards to Kristin, but sometimes I'll find I've run out of all sorts of logical and reasonable responses to make, and so I just pull out the Daddy Card. "Because I'm the Daddy, that's why."

I know, I know, it's bad. They don't understand the reasoning behind statements like that, or statements like, "Because I said so, that's why." and so you should never use them as commands or explanations. But sometimes you have nothing left, logic has failed you (with a toddler, imagine that) and surprisingly The Daddy Card does work. I think it throws them for a loop, because they can't understand the logic behind it (there actually is none), so then they don't know how to respond.

But alas, The Daddy Card has a limited number of uses and it does not bode well for this house that I've already had to put the card into play on a couple of occasions.

---

We had friends over for dinner one night and we were all sitting on the couch visiting, dinner had been over for awhile and Kristin had already been put to bed, when she comes into the living room wanting to negotiate more staying awake time. She does this occasionally. We had seen on Supernanny how you just take them by the hand and go right back to bed without a word, and we did that for awhile until she figured out that she was still getting our attention, even if no words were spoken. We realized this was failing when she asked if she could pick which Daddy silently walked her back to the room. The hand holding walk back to the room was becoming as much of a nightly ritual as the initial going to bed ceremony was. She was getting put to bed twice, hell, even three times, this whole setup wasn't disciplinary, it was working FOR her.

So, after she has been put to bed, if she gets up and comes in the living room, we just tell her, 'Go to bed.' and that's all we say, we don't get into any discussion and we no longer escort her. She did that once or twice but now says she doesn't like it because of the monsters that will get her on the way back. But if you didn't get out of bed and walk through the house to begin with....

Anyway, we were sitting there with our friends and she is trying to get one of us to walk her back to bed. We told her that she had already been put to bed, and she needed to go back into her bed and get under her covers and not get out again for the night. (She knows potty breaks are an exception).

She turned and stormed out of the room and in a cracking voice near tears, said as she left, "I NEED A DADDY."

A hush came over the room, our friends didn't know how to react. I melted hearing the distress in her voice wondering if it would be Toney or I who caved in and got up first. He was already halfway down the hall to her room to talk with her.

She played The Daddy Card her own way and beat the House.

8/04/2006

Just Untitled

You wanna know how I feel?

Click here.

The Pavilion Of Dreams

My blogging has really slowed down this summer, more than I've intended. I've just been spending time with Kristin, doing lazy, summertime stuff.

We never got to do our camping trip, but I did introduce her to the library, so this summer hasn't been a total waste.

For almost two hours on our first visit, she read books, either with me or alone (at which time it was mostly about observing the other kids reading at the tables too). And we check out books, to read at night, so Daddy doesn't have to read the same books over and over.

We go to the library weekly now and have probably read close to 40 books this summer. The libraries here are only open about 3 hours a day, a couple of days a week, so while the gateway to adventures isn't open as often as it used to be, at least it still opens every now and then so we can solve mysteries, crack puzzles, go on adventures, learn about bullies and friends, play with unicorns and princesses, and even help a rooster who needs therapy when he realizes the sun will still rise without his cock-a-doodle-do.

Because it's hours are so short now, there's always a line at the building waiting for it to open.

Although Kristin probably owns a hundred books, I know I'm already tired of them and she's got them pretty well memorized too, so it's time for other stuff. The library is the best place possible to instill the love of books in a child. You can't really do that with a few dozen books, I see. It takes adventures, and it takes going through books, if you had to purchase each one, you can only have so much and that's not enough to instill a passion for reading. I can see that if we lose our libraries, our community will lose it's ability to instill a love of books. That would be tragic beyond words.

Thankfully for now, they are still open for a short time here and there.
 

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