Monday, January 31, 2011

It's Possible!

I finally had an ultrasound appointment, and the tech said that Baby looks like a girl!!!  She said she couldn't be 100% certain, but more than 90%.  I tried to not go in with high hopes.  For one thing, it's against Korean law to tell women before about 32 weeks what they are having.  I'm no Korean, and this is technically an American hospital, but there have been reports of hardcore ultrasound techs refusing to say, and I'm not keen enough to necessarily identify on my own, especially since it's only ever been a boy so far.  There have also been reports of being told wrong at the ultrasound here at this hospital, so I'm still afraid to fully embrace the idea for fear of disappointment at the birth.  But I'm getting excited nonetheless!  We didn't read the book on how to have a boy or a girl, but I looked up the theory online, and we tweaked things accordingly right around that time - so maybe we finally did it right!  Kyler was in preschool during the appointment, thankfully, so I only had Tristan, and he kept busy scribbling on my chart and disrobing his feet.

In other news, Hunter has been placed in the gifted program at his school.  I don't want to make a deal of it to him, because I've known way too many dysfunctional gifted people and it takes a lot more than smarts to function in life.  Hunter has a hard time getting out the door in the morning...  I told him last week that if he couldn't get downstairs for breakfast (all ready to go otherwise) by 7:00 he would have to spend the day (after school) in his room.  He did just that one day last week, so today when I reminded him of that, he was down by 7, and then had plenty of time to get to the bus.  After school we got him a new bus pass since he's lost his last one.  Baby steps!
Kyler enjoys preschool.  His teacher said the first week he wanted to talk the whole time and didn't get the idea of sitting and doing his little assignments, but he has since gotten in the gear. He pulled out his tooth that has been loose for some time while in preschool last week, and put it under his pillow once home.  He mentioned that the tooth fairy didn't come after all the next morning, so she snuck in when no one was looking after that and he got two bucks!  Whenever we go to the PX nowadays, he says he wants to buy some "junk food" - his words.  Shockingly, a dentist did a screening at the preschool and gave him a clean bill of health.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I saw this posted on Facebook by a friend and found it to be fascinating.  I have the same curiosity when reading such blogs (including some blogs of my friends), especially since in most ways I am a typical Mormon house wife, yet clearly my blog posts aren't so rosy and brimming with only sunshine.  I blog our reality, which truly we have a happy life and I love my role as homemaker, wife and mother, but when I look back on posts of my own that only list the happy details, it feels like the full picture is not accurate.  I imagine and hope that years down the road when we look back as a family (once I print them into books) we will all be able to laugh at our struggles with child rearing and family life, and that the boys will be wonderful men who are well adjusted and fulfilling their divine potential.

What I really like is to check out this blog occasionally.  Truly I could roll on the floor laughing, and this is at least partly why I don't blog (act, talk, etc.) like is parodied on the blog!  It is so right on target, down to the spelling and grammar.  Whoever is behind it is a genius, and what are we if we can't laugh at ourselves?!

In other news, there isn't much, ha ha.  At my last OB appointment the doc tried to see what kind of baby I'm carrying, but Baby was too busy crossing legs and putting hips back to tell.  At the end of the month we'll try again at the next appointment.  We're also going to have to stop calling Tristan "Baby".  He has had the croup since Sunday night (poor Baby!), but after taking him to the doctor and dosing him up with some steriods, I actually got several hours of sleep last night, and so did he.  The previous two nights he spent coughing up his lungs.  No fun.

Kyler started preschool a couple of weeks ago for the first time, and has loved it so far, although today he demanded to know why it is three hours long (three days a week).  I'm not sure why.  It is a hassle to have to drive him all the way to the base, then, by the time I get back home, rush back two hours later to pick him up.  But the three hours of quietude are worth it, I suppose.  He had been on the waiting list all school year, and finally made it in.  Of course he is the oldest and biggest kid there.  Hunter is up to his usual antics.  He has been saying for a while that he wants to be an engineer, so I talked about math and science, and he then wondered what job he could have that would involve reading, since he enjoys reading so much.  I suggested publishing and editing.  At least he didn't ask how he could make a career out of playing video games.

Darling Hubby is still in San Antonio.  Captains Career Course is a lot of work with lots of papers to write and presentations to prepare and give, then the classmates want to go out on the weekends and booze it up, so he got to drive drunks home once last weekend.  He is itching to come "home", but still has nearly 8 weeks to go.  I'm trying to keep my sanity while he's gone, and not eat too much chocolate, ha ha.  I'm attempting to make a t-shirt quilt out of his old t-shirts.  There are many different ways to go about it, and I chose one.  I've never made any sort of quilt or blanket so this is a first.  It's got a couple of flaws already that I can't really fix, but not being a perfectionist, it's OK with me, and hopefully he won't notice.

Monday, January 10, 2011

What did I do

to deserve this?  I often ask myself this question when I'm dealing with my children.  Sounds loving and motherly, huh?  Anyone who has spent much time with my children, especially when they are together, has seen how typical and rambunctious and wild and crazy they are.  The modern fix is to give their boy-ness a name and medicate them  into more subdued behavior, or throw them in front of evil flickering machines (i.e. TV and electronic games) all day, or put them in "school" starting at age three (or 6 weeks), or make the family life revolve around driving them to activities, (instead of revolving around the marriage, which should be the most important relationship in the home) etc., none of which is acceptable to me.  I do understand that they are boys, and that if we lived in more primitive times they would be spending the day tearing things apart (the earth for farming), killing appropriately (food for dinner, skins for many uses), running and screaming joyfully (outside where it doesn't bother Mother), and enjoying and exploring all that the world has to offer.  Instead, we live in an urban setting, cooped up inside most of the time (since it's winter), with three wild boys who live to act out their primal urges and energy, which translates into tearing the house apart around the clock and constant screaming.

Of course I always envisioned myself raising quiet, well-mannered girls who would delight in learning the things I enjoy, particularly homemaking skills such as baking or sewing.  Instead, I keep having boys who could have been raised in the barn and not have any worse habits and manners than they display now (despite being told daily for years that their shirt is not a napkin, "please use the napkin in front of you", for example).  I hate to even spend much time thinking about what this next baby might be.  I don't want to feel disappointment if it is yet another boy, because how could I not be excited for any baby we are blessed with?  And some day, they will be all grown up and won't be trying my patience every waking moment.  I've heard older women whose children have long since been raised admonish young mothers (I hardly feel young any more) to not "wish away their childhoods", yet that is exactly what I often do, such as today when I was touch up painting all over the house because they have grimed it up so much in the six months we've lived here.   In my imagination, girls aren't so filthy

Anyway, with Dean being gone for the next couple of months (he's been gone 8 days now), I've decided to take the bull by the horns and get their most egregious behaviors under control.  I even have a "manual" by which to do it.  I started reading it two times, but couldn't ever get Darling Husband to read it with me, and all the authority figures need to be on the same page and do the same things in order to make it work.  Alas, he finally read it while traveling to the U.S. and is sending it back to me, so that I can finish reading it.  I have started with some things already (I have read a few of his other books, and did read part of this one), and am seeing improvement already, but we have a long way to go.

1.  It's always a huge pain to get Kyler to buckle up in the car.  I would tell him repeatedly to buckle up, he would ignore me and bounce around doing as he pleased.  I even slammed on the brakes a couple of times (at low speed with no cars around) to throw him  into the seat back in front of him.  He didn't like it at all, but it still didn't bother him enough to ever buckle up without the saga.  I once heard an idiot psychologist say that with children "repetition repetition repetition" is the key.  How wrong he is, and how worthless that advice.  Once I implemented the new method, I no longer have to remind (beg, plead, order, demand - all to no avail) Kyler to buckle up - the monkey is off my back.  He often does it on his own now, which is vastly better than never doing it.  Now, if after a reasonable amount of time he hasn't buckled up on his own, I simply inform him that he will be spending an hour in his room.  So far he has spent two or three hours in there (in one-hour increments on separate occasions), and doesn't like it one bit, but he knows he is in the wrong.  The monkey is on his back.  It's working.  Repetition never worked.  On a naturally well-behaved kid it might, but that's apparently not what I breed.

2.  "I wanna sit by Daddy!!!" with an ensuing screaming match and cat fight - at every meal.  I finally got smart and let them choose who would sit by Daddy every day for breakfast (Hunter), and who would every day for dinner (Kyler).  If I have to hear about it, neither one sits by Daddy.  How's that for being a mean mommy?  It's working.  I rarely hear about it.

3.  "I wanna sit in the front!!!" with ensuing screaming match and cat fight - ad nauseum.  And you might wonder why I am not loving every second I spend with them.  Again, we decided who would sit in the "front" (the middle seat of the van) for the trip "there" - happens to be Kyler, and who would sit in the front for the trip "home" - happens to be Hunter.  They have to be separated to prevent fighting.  If I have to hear about who is sitting where, they both sit in the back, separated of course.  Problem solved.

4.  I asked them to do their chores on Saturday.  They ignored me and did nothing.  I did not nag, plead, bribe, etc.  Sunday, they got to spend the day in their rooms, except .for when we went to church.  I had a pleasant day, and Monday morning when I told them to do their chores, they did.  It's working.

5. The screaming.  Constant screaming, primarily from Kyler.  Although Tristan seems to be following in his brothers' footsteps in that he doesn't talk (he's 18 months now).  He says "uh oh", and occasionally says "Mommy" or "Daddy", but I'm not sure if that's because he's calling us or because those are the most commonly screamed words around here.  So he screams all day.  It's getting worse by the day, and has only really started in the last couple of weeks.  He screamed some in church yesterday.  Kyler's screaming frays my nerves and literally causes me ear pain.  His screaming is more or less innocent in that it is when he is "playing" (i.e. running around the house like he alone is a herd of wild hyenas), or just like many little kids screams instead of talking normally (so that he can never hear anyone but himself) but it hurts my ears and my psyche none the less.  Hunter isn't around as much since he's in school, but he loves to scream when he is.  When we had the cookie exchange, Hunter came along and screamed something and one of the ladies jumped out of her skin and actually got after him because it hurt her ears.  I was so glad she did that!  It tells me I'm not crazy - the screaming is painful and must stop, and the more people reinforcing that to the children the better.  So, taking a cue from John Rosemond, I informed Kyler that from now on, when he needs to scream, he may go to the bathroom, close the door, go to the far corner, and feel free to scream his brains out for 15 minutes.  So whenever he screams for whatever reason, he goes to the bathroom (which of course he doesn't want to) and is free to scream all he wants.  Surprise, though (not for me, actually), the last thing he generally does is scream in there.  He is confined for 15 minutes to think about not screaming.  It is working.  The screaming is much less. 

6.  This could go on forever.  Whenever I run errands with the boys, and that includes the eight-year old, I have to spend the whole time beckoning them to me.  They don't just follow me into the store, or stay by my side.  I literally must redirect them every few seconds, as though I was herding cats.  I finally realized that that was ridiculous.  Again, the monkey was on my back.  I informed Kyler that he would be spending an hour in his room for every time that I had to call him to me.  You'll never guess.  Instead of lagging behind a mile, or straying constantly, he stays with me.  It's a miracle.  So far I think he's only spent an hour in his room for that one.  The monkey is on his back, and he's making the change.  That's the whole point of all this.  I cannot change their attitudes or behavior.  My efforts are to give them enough reason to change themselves.  As J.R. says, "a well behaved child is a happy child" - and I might add that such children have happier mothers.

There are too many behaviors to list them all, but I'm seeing an improvement.  Hunter still has the 6:30 bed time, and likely will through the school year, because he still doesn't care enough to do his homework without being told, and I still find socks hidden all over the house, etc. etc. etc.  But at least I have pleasant evenings now (instead of having the equivalent of a pack of coyotes running loose in the house until all hours).  I generally send Kyler to bed then as well, and Tristan if he's ready. 

Hopefully Dean will notice a great improvement in two months.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Yes, we did

- celebrate Christmas, that is.  I didn't manage to take (m)any pictures, though.  I hosted a cookie exchange that was loads of fun.  We enjoyed going to see a huge model train display at a hotel.  It had everything, including a Nativity scene,
 a wall o' Santas,
  a huge, beautiful Christmas tree,
 and the ginormous display of trains that went around and around.  The boys all loved it.
 Since I was driving (we've reverted to our normal driving situation, meaning I drive), we parked in the lady parking.
Over the month we also hit a couple of tree lighting ceremonies on the base, one of which even served Chili - score for me not having to come up with dinner!  We also reading stories from a Christmas book that my mom gave us.
 Then we found a little mandu (dumpling - kind of like potstickers, but steamed) restaurant.  We thought the kids would be excited since they love mandu, but it was actually a mandu stew restaurant, and Hunter whined the whole time and wouldn't eat because the mandu was "too juicy".  Then we headed over to city hall to look at the fabulous outdoor Christmas lights.  It sure was cold, but that didn't stop people from ice skating.
 On Christmas Eve, our dear friends Spence and Rachel came over to be festive with us.  Rachel brought a delicious holiday bread, we drank hot chocolate, played Christmas games, and read from Luke 2.  The boys even put on matching pajamas when it was time for them to go to bed.
Normally they dress for bed more like this.
On Christmas day the boys slept until after 6, then we all got up and opened presents, after which I went back to bed.  I was tired after staying up late wrapping!  It was lovely as always, and we're getting everything put away.  We stayed up with the older boys on New Year's Eve and all drank sparkling cider at midnight.  I love the holidays, but it is a relief when it's all over.

Dean left for San Antonio, TX on Jan 2, so we're missing him.  He first went to Albuquerque for a couple of days to adjust to the time difference and get the car, then drove from there.  He has started the captains' career course, and will be gone for about 10 weeks.  I'm working on getting some behaviors under control (from the little people) while he's gone, and hopefully finally getting organized and getting the house fully set up.  I went to the "self help" center on base and borrowed a drill and bit to put holes in our cement walls and finally hang more pictures.  For some reason we do have a few sheet rock walls, but now we're really getting somewhere.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Toilet Fish

 I have failed to post several outings we have had with Captain Cho, Dean's preceptor (or is Dean his preceptor?  I can't keep it straight, but he's a veterinarian) in the Korean army.  He is super nice and we love sight seeing with him, and his wife when she's not at work.  He and Dean had the same day off during the week before Christmas, so we went to the Co-ex mall with him and saw the aquarium, including this two-headed turtle. 
 The aquarium was creative and made little aquariums out of everything they could think of. 
 There are fish in each of these pictures - coke machine, kimchi pots, toilet, appliances, and many more items not pictured.
 Look close - the fish are swimming around.
 I always get a kick out of the parking folks who are dressed like this.  Captain Cho wondered why I would take a picture of this guy - it's so common place here to have the parking helpers (ladies included) dressed up like this.
 Across the street from this mall is a Buddhist Temple.  It was free, and frankly I prefer to see stuff like this over aquariums that cost a fortune.
 This is a view while passing under this building which is on stilts (or columns or whatever).
These are tombs or head stones or something along those lines, memorials to high ranking monks.

There was a lantern festival recently, and these hanging lanterns were lovely.  The apartment building in the background is really high end.  Captain Cho said the units go for about five million dollars a piece.  Yikes!

 We ate at Jackie Chan's restaurant in the mall for lunch.  It was yummy!