Friday, December 19, 2008

That was totally WICKED!

Wicked at the Pantages Theater was an amazing experience. Peter, Rebekkah, and I drove to Hollywood to see it. That was our Christmas gift to each other and Rebekkah. She absolutely loved it. During the intermission, Bekkah and her best friend Megan Blackmer switched seats with her cousin and sat in the front row of the mezzanine (that is the second tier of the seats). But intermittently during the second half, she would lean forward, totally into the play, just savoring the experience. 
It was cute to watch Bekkah and her best friend enjoying the experience together. Karen Blackmer organized the whole thing because she enjoys the theater so much. She originally bought something like 300 seats, honestly I'm not sure of the number, but she purchased several thousand dollars worth of tickets so she could get a group seating price. It was wonderful. I knew Peter would enjoy it as well. Peter enjoyed it so much that he agree to pay for the next group seats that Karen purchased. It looks like Feb. 18th, Peter, Bekkah and I will be attending The Phantom of the Opera at the Pantages Theater. Bekkah, doesn't know about it. Karen decided to arrange it as a gift for her daughter Megan's birthday in February. She offered us seating, and Peter is very enthusiastic about it. 
After the show ended we made our way out to the stage exit, the exit the actors use to leave the theater.  So, Rebekkah got autographs of the cast members and Peter even took a photograph of her with the actor.  It was a great experience for her.  Her face was so lit up and she was giddy with delight. 
Feeling generous, knowing we will not have the opportunity to see Wicked again, I purchased a really cute shirt for her as a souvenir.  This morning as she was grumpily dragging herself around the house, I presented it to her.  Amazing what a small act can do.  Instantly, her mood went from grumpy and tired to euphoric.  How mercurial a 'tween's emotions are.  We got home around midnight.  It made for a long day yesterday with little sleep and another long day today.  
This morning I was tired as well. I didn't have time to be tired though.  Bekkah got off to school, I dropped the boys off and ran to Stater Brother's, a local grocery store, and while there Ethan decided to throw a tantrum. When I go to the store with all the little ones (Ethan 3, Aeron 17 mo., and Madison 8 mo.) I am subject to Ethan's whims and wishes. He sees the Pringles (Pringles are no longer classified as "chips" they are "potato crisps") and he immediately wants the Pringles until he sees the candy display and then he goes for the M&M's. Generally, if he behaves himself, I don't mind letting him get a candy. But today, he immediately wanted to open it and I am trying to train him that we do not open it until the item is paid for. He is unable to grasp this concept. 
He ran away (not too far out of sight) and sat down and tried to open the candy package. I told him no that we needed to pay for it before we opened it. Then he spent the next 10+ minutes trying to grab them away from me.  I told him no. I told him that if he opened the package, I would throw it away in the garbage. 
Once he has his mind set on an objective, there is no deviation from the desired goal.  I refused to give in to his terrorist threats.  He cried and screamed. Some mothers gave me supportive looks, and the checkers commiserated with me and I stood firm.  This is important for Ethan to understand. He needs to learn to delay gratification. Not everything he wants can be instantaneously granted. I realize that in time, if I keep trying, he will learn this idea. Or else, I'll give up on the idea of taking so many little people to the store and wait until later! I would prefer the first, however.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas craziness. Stop the bus, I want off!

There are so many things I want to do. It seems that the only time I am creative is when I am creating a gift for someone else. This Christmas I don't even have time to creative things for the special people in our lives. My one accomplishment is that I have made Christmas jam. A strawberry cranberry jam that is incredibly easy to make as jams go. The last time I did that was about 5 years ago. It was time to bring this old gift idea back out of the cupboard. My goal is to bake some honey whole wheat bread and give those as gifts to the people Peter hometeaches, to our hometeachers, to the people I visit teach and neighbors. But, I'm looking at the rest of the week, and all I can think is arrrgghh! There is so much to do with the little time that remains. We all were so tired last night we went to bed at 10:00 pm, which is early by Gale standards, and left the kitchen a mess. This week I have already been up at the school twice. Steven's fifth grade class made gingerbread houses - from scratch.  His wonderful teacher, Mary Rush, personally cut out and baked 32 gingerbread houses. She loves this holiday tradition so much that she has been doing this for 15 years. Monday, I helped glue the houses together afterschool for a couple hours. They have to sit out overnight and let the icing harden. Mrs. Rush also makes the icing from scratch. This is a very intensive activity in regards to time and attention; thus, she needs all the parents she can get. Then yesterday, after lunch, I came back up to the school and helped make more icing and helped the kids decorate their houses. I got home after school, paid the babysitter, and then Peter took off to go to Cub Scouts up at our church. At 5:45 pm they got home leaving 45 minutes for the kids to eat. We got Subway sandwiches. Then the boys had their school Boy Scout activity. They went caroling at Valencia Commons, a senior care facility. We got home about 8 pm and then the boys started some homework. Peter and I were  both exhausted.  So we went to bed and slept in this morning. Peter kept hitting the snooze button. I woke up at 6:30 am and prodded Peter awake. We jumped out of bed and then the day started all over again. I want to raise my hand and say, "Excuse me, can I get off the ride? This isn't fun at all!" However, there's no one except myself to say it to. I have simplified the holidays as much as I can already. We're not putting up Christmas lights outside the house this year. Why bother? We're only going to be another 6 days and then we leave for Grampa's house. I have my Christmas signs up in the yard, We're going to send digital Christmas cards this year, the Christmas tree is up, and I finally finished putting the decorations on it yesterday.  I just would like a little time for some quiet family moments and some opportunities to do some small acts of service. Instead there is the daily homework grind, the caring for my needy children, and the invisible housework that is both unnoticed and immediately messed up. Today I have a doctor's appointment and Bekkah has Mutual. Tomorrow, the most stressful day, is our Christmas present. Peter, Bekkah and I are going to Wicked at the Pantages Theater! That is our Christmas present to each other. I've heard good things about it. Rebekkah is so excited. Her best friend Megan Blackmer will be there as well. So she gets to see this fabulous play with her best friend. Babysitting is finally set up. But we will get home so late that night, about 2 am. Plus, the sad thing is that we will miss our ward Christmas party.  It is Thursday night as well. I don't know who planned a Christmas party during the week, especially on a Thursday night, but I sure would have like to talk with them! I'm sure it's due to the building availability. But, what a cruddy day to plan a party. The next day, Friday, is all the kids' school Christmas parties. I have been asked to help out at Steven's party. They are making a craft and I know I need to send in a food contribution. So, I should be preparing that today. I still haven't arranged babysitting. I don't know if I'll be able to. Knowing all this I just want to take a break and relax, either that or I would like a small padded room, I'm not sure which sounds better.  Also I want to do some holiday baking. I just don't know if that's going to work out. I don't have to, I realize that. It is just another of those holiday traditions I enjoy. Also on Friday, Bekkah, Steven and Jonathon have a half day.  I guess I can do some baking after they get home, we could even make cookies together! We have no plans for Friday night, thank Heavens. We can have a quiet evening, which will most likely end with all of us falling asleep in front of the television as we watch a movie together. I guess I should be glad for the small blessings, but sometimes it's hard to spot them. I am grateful for the holidays.  I just wish we could do a better job at focusing on the Savior and his birth. The rush of all the day to day activities make it more difficult to slow down and do this. In additon there is such rampant consumerism throughout society. We, meaning I, get immune to it. And, we, meaning I, start to buy into it; I want to buy my children all these wonderful, expensive gifts, whether or not they deserve it (and some of them don't). Well, my goal is to put a stop to it. I apologize for the rant.  It is therapeutic and I know there are many women that feel the same way I do. Another small blessing.  Many of you will completely relate and understand my feelings.  Boy, maybe I don't need that padded room after all.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Adventures in potty training

We are potty training right now! It's not going very well. Yesterday morning we went to Kohl's to check out some possible Christmas gift ideas. We got maybe 10 feet inside the door as I was looking at the Junior's department for some items for Bekkah. Ethan stood in front the display stand of books and stuffed animals and all of sudden a wet stain spread across the front of his shorts and there is a huge puddle of liquid emanating from my son. My reaction? I wanted to disown him; I wanted to turn and walk away. What a mess. I couldn't clean up this mess with a few tissues I carry around in my purse! I had been pleading with him, asking him to go to the bathroom right before we left the house minutes earlier. But he doesn't want to. He has amazing bladder control. He will stop himself midstream, several times, because he just doesn't want to go. So now every 20-30 minutes we engage in a power struggle. Humbling myself, knowing the look the cashier would give me, I went over to the cashier and explained that we are potty training and that my son had just had an accident, a really large accident! So, off we go to the children's clothing department to get a package of underwear. And wouldn't you know? We found Lightning McQueen underwear! Ethan's favorite character. Anything that has Lightning McQueen, Ethan wants to own it! I pointed this package out to Ethan, hoping that wearing Lightning Mc Queen underwear might further motivate him to use the toilet. Ethan eagerly scooped up the package and off to the bathroom we head. Well, we changed his soggy clothes and went on our way. Lesson learned? Ethan must wear Pull-ups when we leave the house. And we now engage in the game, sink the floating Cheerio when it's time to tinkle.  So far it's working!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pepper spray is painful!

Tuesday night Jonathon's Boy Scout Troop from school went on a tour of the Upland Police Department.  Peter wasn't feeling well that night, Steven had soccer and I had a church Relief Society Christmas meeting to go to.  So, we asked our friend Alan Ansara, who is a member of the Upland PD and his son Ryan is a playmate of Jonathon's, if Jonathon could go with them.  I knew it would be a unique opportunity for him to see the inside workings of law enforcement. So, off he went. When I got home from my meeting, Peter told me the story.  The Boy Scouts got a tour of the police department. They even got to see the SWAT team practicing.  They got to see a flash bang grenade go off.  And they got to see Police doing practice shooting at their indoor range with semi-automatic weapons.  The Boy Scouts got to see the dummies the SWAT team practices taking down.  The kind of dummies that when they are in training exercises spray pepper spray at the police.  The Boy Scouts were instructed not to touch the dummies because there was a residue of pepper spray on them.  But, Jonathon being Jonathon, touched and discovered.  Then he rubbed his eyes because he was getting tired, and rubbed his nose and his chin.  Then, came the burning.  His eyes began to burn and his skin.  I was told he cried and rubbed at his eyes, I imagine there was some screaming and moaning. That stuff hurts!  Then Alan took him to the bathroom and helped him rinse his eyes and face off.  He told Jonathon how the Police when they are training, are sprayed in the face with pepper spray.  So, Jonathon realized he wasn't alone in his misery.  It probably soothed his ego a bit as well. When I saw him, he had raccoon eyes from all the rubbing.  I heard the story and had to laugh. My son seems to be a disaster magnet! I am so grateful for a friend who provided help and caring to my child in a moment of pain and crisis.  I am grateful the effects of pepper spray are not permanent.  What a tough lesson for little man to learn.  When someone says, don't touch something, they might really mean don't touch it! My 

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gratitude is great!

I am grateful for the small joyful moments we spend at Disneyland.  You would think Disneyland would be overwhelming to our family.  But, all the kids absolutely love going and playing there. It is one of the few places where we can just play with no distractions.  That may sound funny, but if you know anything about my family, you know that our family is filled with distraction after distraction! I love the pic of Peter and I on California Screamin'.  It captures one of our few playful moments.  I am so grateful for my husband.  He is such a good father, husband and friend.  We stole a few hours to go and play at Disneyland before he had surgery the next day.  Peter had his 3rd surgery the following day on his throat removing sutures he had placed there 5 months ago in a sleep apnea surgery procedure.  It did help him stop snoring so much! But the downside is that the hospital generously gave him a case of MRSA -  a lovely staph infection that is not easily killed with antibiotics. Peter's doctor, Natee Poopat, an ENT in our area, is a great surgeon and Doctor. He has been so helpful in Peter's painful journey with MRSA and sleep apnea.  The surgery went well and Peter is recovering nicely!

Alcoholism sucks!

My friend and neighbor was carted away this week by the police because of her chronic abuse of alcoholism. It is sad, tragic and heart-wrenching. The effects are so devastating on the family. Not only is the abuser abusing themself, often times as a means of avoid other pressing issues, but they leave behind a spouse (if they haven't already lost them) and kid(s). This was the case here. She has a beautiful 9 year old son who has been suffering in silence the past 2+ years and a loving husband who has done everything he can. Monday, the police had to come in on a domestic violence call, that's all I'll say. But, I was on my way home when the police whizzed past me and I knew where they were going. After getting out of my car, I ran over to see if I could take her son. As soon as I saw this trembling boy, I wanted to sob. I reached down and wrapped my arms around him and told him what a strong boy he was and that he was such a good boy. Earlier that evening he had been hearing something quite the contrary! The neighbors could hear her screaming at him from their house. When her husband got home, he walked in the door and asked what the problem was, and she turned on him. Literally. She threatened his life twice. Many of my friends have been counseling us to be careful with our on-going associations with this family. But I look at it as our family may be the one safe place he can go in the tumult. And, if we have to endure the other trappings, and a lot has gone on, so be it. I can protect my family, but who will protect this innocent boy?  So we have hung in there the past 2 years. A year and a half ago, she was arrested with a DUI with my then 6 year old son Jonathon in the car. Amazingly, she got off. Then earlier this fall, she was arrested in her driveway for another DUI, earlier that day she drove my sons Jonathon and Steven home against my wishes from the bus stop. She's getting off on that one too. But Monday's bust is the final straw. The husband is taking action. It has been a heart-wrenching process to watch. This has been an education both for me and my children. Many a conversation has taken place where we have frankly talked about the issue of addiciton and  more specifically alcoholism. I am grateful for the principles of our church. I am grateful that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latterday Saints advocates abstinence from addictive substances. What a blessing, that in the midst of all our struggles, that addiction is one less thing we have to worry about!