Monday, April 30, 2007

Raising boys

Boy, what a day! Most all the time I feel fairly confident in how I am raising my daughters, but my son is a whole other experience. How do you raise a boy to be a good human being? Right now it seems too challenging.
Jakey has always been a sensitive boy. He has trouble with strong emotions. It has been a theme throughout his short life. When Glenn's Mom died he didn't seem to acknowledge it the way Vi did. We gave them opportunities to grieve, but he didn't appear to be emotionally mature enough to handle it. So we gave it time. It hasn't been so long really, only 4 months, but we have seen little yet of actual grieving.
Meanwhile Jakey has been the focus of a bully at school already. We intervened and eventually the kid was removed from the situation. The other parent chose to drug their 5 year old (not sure how I feel about that, but that is a whole other post) and for a while all has been well at preschool. Last week though, Jakey behaved quite badly. I was at a conference out of town and so I wrote it off to my absence, but it has happened again today. Today he refused to go to nap (not so horrid in and of itself) and then when a teacher tried to calm him he squeezed her arm very tight to make her stop.
So I am stumped. We thought we came down hard on him last week when he disrupted nap time, but this behavior is totally out of context and obviously last week's discipline did no good.
How do you get through to a boy? How do you make clear to a 5 year old that strong-arming your teacher isnt the appropriate way to deal with feelings? How do you keep them sweet and not loose them in themselves?

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Sunday Movie Review

Every so often I subscribe to Netflix, and after a bit when I've watched a marathon number of movies I quit it again. I'm scraping the bottom of the cue again and I'm about to quit. This weekend I found a little gem of a movie though.
Usually I don't care for religious movies - when they try to take the bible and interpret it on screen they often do things to make it more marketable and in doing so wreck much of the original story. Last night I watched, 'One Night With the King,' which is based on the book of Esther. It was really quite good. Surprise of surprises, the people actually weren't all white hollywood actors - they looked like they might for the most part actually live in the middle east. (the old hollywood interpretations kill me because everyone is so white!) Anyway, it was nicely done, definately took some poetic license but it seems like they got the gist of it correct. We never celebrate Purim but I have friends who do - great to know the story behind it.
Glenn is hard at work in the office hooking up our X10. I guess that through it he will automate our house, turning lights on and off, etc. I have to say that having an automatic shutoff in the kid's room after we go to school is such a pleasant idea. Not unlike we were as children, they never think to turn out a light!
Just read on the news that there was a pretty bad accident in the bay area in California - a bridge we used to use regularly to go into San Francisco blew up with a tanker truck accident. I can't even imagine what traffic will be like down there tomorrow. They estimate 45,000 people travel that on ramp every single day. What a crazy mess. My sister-in-law still lives down that way. Hopefully they will have no reason to head into San Francisco for a while. We are going down to visit in August, but we'll use their sailboat to get across the bay if we need to!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Silly things people do

So why is it that I feel compelled to clean the house from top to bottom before family comes or I have guests? Our house honestly isn't that dirty (especially when you consider we have 3 kids!) but I always feel I must rip the place apart, clean every corner and reassemble it when guests are coming.
Next weekend Glenn's family arrives. They are a great group, really wonderful people who have made me felt like I was a blood realative from the beginning. They dont' judge and I have nothing to prove to them after 10 years of marriage. Yet here I am, washing everything that will fit in the washing machine!
Maybe it is just a good excuse. The house could use dusting off, and since I work better under pressure why not take advantage of the time to get things in order.
Glenn and I took pictures of all Mom's knick knacks today so we can put them on a CD and send them to his brother in California. Its time to start talking about how to divide things up and we know the topic will come up next weekend. We also had the kids go through the massive pile of toys again in hopes that they would get rid of a few things. I'm afraid not much left, but it does look a little better.
Larry came this morning and painted the deck railing for me both upstairs and downstairs. I had gotten one coat on it but it really needed a whole lot more, so now it is set. In 2 more weeks Dave arrives to finish our great deck project. Glenn and I got the upstairs deck replaced with Trex 2 years ago, but we have yet to get the downstairs deck done. We have the lumber in the garage, but Glenn went back to complete his bachelors and all extra work around the house has just had to stop. New daughter, school, and a 50 minute commute each way to work is just more then one man can do! I'm just glad we are finally going to get it done so we can enjoy the back yard again. My plan is to start setting aside a little cash so I can put up a pergola down below near the shop. My azaleas and rhodies are doing good there already, and my climbing trellis is overflowing. I think it would be fun to put some wisteria down there and let it take off. Of course that will mean some back breaking labor as I need to level the area and lay slate, but it would be a good spring project for next year.

Guess that is it from the west coast tonight, time to crash!

Friday, April 27, 2007


Somehow I couldn't put the third kid in the last post, so here she is! Violet is Jacob's twin, and she is quite the little lady at age 5...

A few family photos...

Here are the kids. At the top you have Emma and our dog Boo. Emma came to be with us about 7 months ago, and she has been a terrific addition to the family. Boo came in at the end of January and has been a wonderful happy dog.

Jacob, my son, is a class clown although you'd be hard pressed to tell that from these pictures. Jakey is a cut-up, always laughing, impersonating things, making jokes. His favorite thing is to be a pirate....

Another Wild Friday night

I was out shopping after the kids went to bed and I ran into an old friend - it is always so wild to run into someone you haven't seen in a while. We compared notes, updated one another and shared pictures of our kids. It always amazes me how our kids all change so much.
This week was a busy one. Tuesday I drove to Portland for a conference. The schedule was such that I had some nice breaks to spend time with both old friends and new. I drove up with a woman I work with who was a nice match for me in interests. We had a lot of fun shopping together although we didn't buy much other then makeup. I also had a chance to have dinner with one of my old girlfriends and meet her brand new baby. Hers is really a miracle of a story - she is 45, she was told that due to some drugs her own mother took while pregnant, she would never have a child. Her daughter Katie decided to prove them wrong and appeared a few weeks early in late January. We had a nice dinner and then I got my baby fix holding Katie for a while and visiting with my friend's step daughter and partner.
This weekend is my last free weekend before the house is invaded. Next weekend the family is coming up from Grants Pass and beyond for my daughter Emma's christening. I have a lot to accomplish this weekend with a housefull of guests to come and of course Glenn's mom's stuff to sort through. For those of you who weren't following, Glenn's Mom passed away in January. She had lived with us up until her death, and we are now in the process of sorting through the things that made her part of our house her home. Unfortunately, it took a LOT of stuff to make her feel at home, and so although we've been sorting for months we have made only a small dent. This will be the first visit by the family since then, and I assume that it will be a time to talk about sorting though some of the stuff as well.
I guess that is it for now, more pictures and posts later....

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

To move or not to move

Well I have a very long other blog, mostly centered around the kids, that has been going for years. Do I move it or do I leave it stand alone? I've been pondering this for a while now and I've decided to keep this new one separate, and let our prior adventures stand on their own. I'll probably drag bits of it over now and again but for the most part I think we'll go forward like this.
I've been blogging for about 6 years, let me see what I can compress in a few paragraphs. I live in a loud and busy house in the hills. At night, when all the little people go to bed we often sneak out on the back deck to watch the city lights in the distance and listen to the wind blow through the trees. We have a little deck off the master bedroom that has a cover, so we can also watch the rain come across the valley.
Last night I took our youngest daughter out on the back deck alone and showed her how beautiful it is. She is two, and seven months ago we flew to China and met her. We also had a chance to do a little touring and we absolutely fell in love with the country. We didn't expect to- we thought it would be third world poverty - but it was gorgeous. I'll try to share some pictures along the way. Anyway, in talking to my naturopath, she suggested that perhaps my daughter needed more of that kind of time to get reconnected to the earth after the massive changes that have happened in her life.
We have two amazing older children too. They are twins, and Monday of this last week I registered them for kindergarten. It seems like only yesterday they were tiny helpless little babies, and dh and I joke often that we don't know what happened!
Both of my parents died about 10 years ago, as well as DH's dad. His mother lived with us from 2005 onward and passed away in late January. We are still grieving the loss of that amazing woman.
Today after I drop the kids off at daycare I get in the car and I head north to the big city, a few hours away. I'm going to a training conference for 2 nights. The kids are visably upset, as the last time I did this they were too young to really 'get it'. This afternoon I hope to catch up with some old friends and some newer ones. One of my good girlfriend's has a daughter in the hospital there - a few weeks ago they found a tumor on her spine and the doctor's successfully removed it yesterday. Thank God it appears that it is benign and it won't effect any nerves, but we have all been on edge for a few weeks waiting for the outcome. Tonight, I'll go see another miracle. My 45 year old girlfriend who was told she would never have children has promised to let me hold her 2 month old as long as I want.
Funny, but the thought of a quiet hotel room with no one to steal my covers on the surface sounds so inviting. From having done this before though, I know its too quiet. I will be lonely. How will I wake up without three small people climbing over us and stealing covers and giggling?

Monday, April 23, 2007

So why this blog?

I've been seeing in advertising lately that they are saying '40 is the new 20' and I thought, 'ok, that sounds intersting. Seeing as I turned 40 last summer, I thought I'd start writing about what the new 20 feels like from this 40 year old's view.
To give you some background, I think I'm a pretty average 40 year old. I've been married twice (second one stuck, we'll have our 10 year anniversary this summer) I have 3 kids, 1 step kid, a dog, a house, a mortgage, a mini-van, and a pretty good job. I have a circle of great friends, some I've known since high school. I enjoy working in the garden, traveling, shooting photography, reading a good book, and sitting at the ocean feeling the breeze and watching the moonlight dance off the waves.
I've faced my share of tough times - lost jobs, lost family members, lost loves - and grown stronger in the face of adversity.
So what makes 40 the new 20? Is it that we are living longer? Are we not growing up till later? Are we more responsible? Are we taking better care of ourselves?
I look in the mirror and I don't think I quite look 40. I look like I'm in my 30s I think. Maybe it's vanity saying that. Does it really matter? Did my Mom look older to me because she looked older or because I was so young?
We'll ponder this more in the coming weeks.....for now, back to work!

Saying goodbye

I'm sitting in an 110 year old building, looking out at a very large tree. There used to be some pictures here of this buidling from the outside, back when the university was new and the tree was just a sappling. Obviously some fool didn't think it would survive as they planted it only a few feet away from what was then the dormotories. Now, over 100 years later, it fills most of my window and towers over the roof above us.
Men have been circling my tree lately - they were here Friday, and again today. They kick at the roots and carrying clipboards they talk in hushed tones about my tree. Late Friday afternoon the gardener who looks like John Denver came by and stared up at the branches.
I of course know what this all means. This means my tree is going to go. One day, I'll unlock my office door and notice something is missing. The sunlight will stream in more directly. The squirrels who frequent my window will have to find a new place to live.
I've worked in this office 5-1/2 years now with my tree. I'm going to miss him......