Monday, November 22, 2010

Lesson 21: Roasted Husband With a Side of Sam

I've heard many times before from various people that "I will get my reward in heaven."  The comment is always regarding the person whom is giving me the hardest time at the moment.   The reference could be made to anyone living in my household, human or furry.   I found heaven last Saturday on my morning walk with Josie.  This is what the November sky looked like.  I not only know the way to the island, but now I know the way to heaven.  Just go to MacQuarrie's Pond and turn and look due south.  You'll find it.  I guess my reward is there.  If you get there before me, don't tell me what it is.  I like surprises.  Plus I don't like ghosts.

God must be stacking up my rewards after the last few days of grief the males in my household have given me.  Sam had a rough week at school, even in our full blown attempt to improve his behavior and toileting skills.  Given that this is the week prior to Thanksgiving, my friends at Milestones Early Learning Center are discussing thankfulness with the children.  On the way home I asked Sam what he was thankful for.  Thinking that his answer would most likely be "toys" or "trains", but I still held on to the hope that he would answer, "Mom", "Dad" or "Sisters."  Nope.  Sam's response:  "Dog food."  He also drew a picture of his favorite food at Thanksgiving dinner.  Sam only has a repertoire of five foods:  ketchup, Cool Whip, Cheese Puffs (gluten free and $7 a bag kind, nonetheless), dry Life Cereal, and milk mixed withe Nestle's Quik--exactly two scoops, no more-no less.  What does Sam draw?   Gravy.  The kid has never even tasted gravy!  And all of this was BEFORE I read the notes. 

Here are two examples of his finest notes home from last week:

 From Monday:  "Sam had a hard time keeping his hands to himself today.  He pushed our new friend down and hit her.  He later pinched another friend.  When asked about this, he hit and pinched me."  Great.

From Wednesday:  "While sitting and waiting to go potty, Sam poked another friend in the eye.  When he went to apologize to the child he hugged them and liked their shoe."  Guess that explains the dog food. 

To punctuate this spectacular week, I went to get him out of bed Friday morning to find him covered in vomit.  Lovely.  And so begins the stomach bug a week before the biggest eating holiday in America.

Despite Sam's flu, which consisted of no fever and vomiting twice a day, which really isn't too bad as far as the flu goes--I still managed to have a fun weekend.  My cousins from Cleveland came in for their annual pre-holiday season overnighter.  The beer flowed right along with a year's worth of stories and laughter.  It is always great to see them and this year it was even better.  They brought their two grown up children, Sara and Tyler along with them, plus little Jaclyn who is exactly three weeks older than Ellen.  I warned them that Sam would be a beast, but it was kind of nice because he had an excuse after all; he was sick.  We ate too much, drank too much, and slept too little.  But it was all worth it.  I love my cousins and it wouldn't be fall in Erie without their visit.

Sunday morning, Louie treated everyone to a breakfast, LaFuria style.  Big, fat, fluffy waffles with mountains of butter and rivers of syrup.  He likes doing the bacon in the oven and gets it nice and crispy.  After breakfast Karen and clan came for a quick visit before the Ohio O's headed west again. 

It was about 2:00 when I noticed Louie taking a nap.  Not a normal part of his high-energy routine.  He then disappeared into the basement for awhile.  The next thing I knew he was calling for a garbage can, and could I please empty the garbage out of it.  Oh no.  That was the last time I saw my husband upright, unless it was sprinting to the toilet.  Since then he has hit every garbage can, pooped in every toilet, and slobbered on every pillow in the whole house.  The washing machine is working overtime, as am I.  I love my boys, but they have a way of being high maintenance during times of sickness.   

I imagine the Ohio O's have just shouted a resounding O-NO!  I couldn't bear to call them.  I chose to deliver the news the cowards way---through this blog, so they are finding out this pleasant news along with all of you.  My Uncle John is still an ace with a sling shot.  Apparently that is how he shoos deer away from his bird feeder.  He can hit them in the arse and send them on their way even at 84 years old.  Impressive.  I wonder if that sling shot can reach Erie.  If so, I am in major trouble.

So if you want to stop by on Thursday, I'm serving up Thanksgiving dinner this year.  On the menu is roast husband with a side of Sam (gravy, since it's his favorite).  Feel like the dinner could be a bit toxic to the taste buds?  We can always feed it to the dogs.  Another good idea since that is the thing Sam is most thankful for.  Waste not, want not, I guess.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Heaven help us all.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lesson 22: You Too, Can Have a Picnik in the Winter


I was waiting for the first snowfall to put this one up.  There were some flurries as I was in the flurry of Black Friday shoppers early Friday morning, so close enough.  Plus we are supposed to get more snow tomorrow. 

Since I am writing about snow, I just want to mention don't be looking for my Christmas card to arrive in your mailboxes before St. Nicholas fills your wooden clogs on December 6th.  Snowfall is a key player for the card that I have planned in my head, and it isn't even made yet.  Be patient.  Masterpieces take time.   With three children, one being autistic and another being a beast, you never quite know what you'll get.  I'll surely need extra time this year.  At least Ellen has proven pretty handy with a camera herself, so there is hope that she will come through for me, too. 

Click on the link to, posted above the snapshots on this blog.    It will take you to a slide show of my winter photos from the last three years.  It just takes a couple of minutes.  Just click the back arrow in the upper left hand corner of the screen when you are done and it should take you back to the blog.  I recommend reading the blog all the way through, then going to view the slide show in case you kick yourself off the website.  That is annoying and I did it myself.  It is not a good time of year and think hateful thoughts and be cranky, you know. 

Picnik is the photo editing website that I use to doctor up my digital pictures from time to time.  I've tried several different ones, but picnik is my favorite.  It is the easiest to navigate, even for novices.  Most of the applications are free, but I paid the $24 yearly fee to have access to the stuff they tease you with, like the great holiday borders that I'll probably never use. 

The snapshots above were all doctored up on picnik.  I also have this great full body shot of myself where I've carved and shaved enough off of my frame that I am a dead ringer for Jennifer Aniston.  I just felt funny putting it on here, not sure who would be reading this.  Did you hear that?  I just heard all the women lamppost fans simultaneously click off my blog to go sign up for picnik, but I was just kidding.  Just making sure you were paying attention.  It's a teacher trick.  Sorry. 

Truth is I rarely am in a picture.  You may think I am camera shy, but I am really not.  I have the best camera in the family and I don't like anyone touching it.  Selfish Sally, I know, but you got to guard the things you love in my house.  The larger reason is that no one has the ability to take a good picture in my family besides me.  Well, there is my cousin Sean Heasley, but we east-enders don't venture out to the Frontier Area much for him to take my picture, so that doesn't count.  If you don't believe me, take a look at what my sister posts on facebook.  National Geographic hasn't been hounding her to apply for any recent job openings.  Plus she could never write captions either as she is prone to typos.  She blames her "focky nails" but I know otherwise. 

The other day, I looked through the three years worth of shots on her digital camera that she's never done a thing with.  I found exactly one of me.  Of course it was the one picture I told her not to take, but she caught me off guard because I was talking on the phone.  I was in the last days of my pregnancy with Sam and you couldn't tell if it was me or her GE Side by Side refrigerator standing there.  I'm not kidding--I was wearing a tan sweater and just about the same size.  If you study the photo closely you can see my eyes all squinty and mean-like.  Sam must have been working his magic on me from the womb.

If you do give picnik a try and need a real world tutorial, don't hesitate to give me a call.  It's not as hard as it looks.  The link will take you to a slide show that has a winter scene, complete with falling snow.  All of the pictures are my wintry ones that I am certain are from the last three years.  It's easy to count the years because Sam is in them.  As I have written before, all time lines for me are divided into three periods:  BC, AD, and AS--after Sam. 

The only bummer was that I couldn't figure out to download music with it.  I am sure it is some violation of copyright that exists, therefore it is not allowed.  I am not in school and protected by my favorite broad term that keeps me out of copyright jail--"fair use for educational purposes."  Humor me and hum your favorite Christmas tune while the pictures roll through.  Just as long as it is not Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer, I'll be happy.  Grandma makes Christmas really fun around here and we need her!

Enjoy the start to your holiday season.
Love, Eloise

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lesson 20: Wegmans Carries Bastard Turkeys

The girls and I were driving past Wegmans last week on the way to a Saturday afternoon trip to the mall with my sister.  Karen, who has always been a person who thinks out loud, said, "Oh! I wonder what frozen bastard turkeys are?"   Bewildered, I followed her eyes to the large sign in the front lawn of Wegmans along Peach Street.  I said to her, "That says frozen BASTED turkeys, you idiot!'  Spoken with true love from the heart from her only sibling. 

I turned slowly backwards to make an eye to eye connection with my daughter Ellen, as she was the only other person in the car who caught the flub.  Eric and Natalie flanked her on either side.  There she goes again, my middle child stuck once again in the middle.  A rose between two thorns. 

We laughed together until the Barnes and Noble traffic light.  When my sides stopped hurting, I thought it was over, but it had only just begun.  It was then that Karen spoke again.  She said, "You know, speaking of turkeys, I am thinking of taking up hunting."  And so my Thanksgiving story begins.

Karen went on for the next ten minutes giving reasons as to why she was considering this fun, new hobby.  They are as follows:
  • Jack will be turning 12 next August and will be old enough to do it.
  • Since she has taken up running, Karen prefers hoofing it through the trails of Harborcreek Community Park.  Apparently while she is communing with nature in this way hunting crossed her mind.
  • She wants Jack to be with a parent when he hunts and Steve gets to take him fishing, so she volunteered to take over the hunting responsibilities.
  • According to Karen, she has had some experience with shooting both arrows and bullets and is a good shot.
Ellen and I just sat and listened and tried to interject while she prattled on and on.  For those of you who know Karen, it is very difficult to get a word in when she is on a roll.  Ellen and I used Natalie's echolalia to our advantage.  We would tell Natalie "Say shut up, Aunt Karen."  A "Shut up Aunt Karen." would bounce right back.  Even Erik squeaked.

We tried to tell her that flame orange was not her best color.  She countered by saying that she was thinking of looking for a coat more the hue of pumpkin.  We also told her that her new svelte figure would be covered up in a bulky Carhart.  She said that she would try to find one that is a little more fitted.  We warned her that you could not use perfume, text, or talk on the phone while hunting.  This she was aware of  this but thought maybe adding the use of a cell phone would revolutionize hunting.  Hunting needed a make-over and Karen determined that she was just the person to bring it up to date, make it a little more hip.  She could post deer tracks on Facebook in the matter of seconds. 

Any argument we tried, she had an even better answer for.  But as always, Karen saved the best for last.  I told her that we just could not see her holding a camouflaged bow and that camouflage was just too boring.  "Not if you bedazzle your bow," she replied. 

Folks, hunting is about to get GLAMOROUS.  Hence the song posting above.  Karen will get those bastard turkeys one way or another, even if she has to distract them with bling.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  I am thankful for my sister who can ALWAYS bring a smile to my face, no matter how hard my day is. 


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Lesson 19: All Pooped Out

All right, already!  I have heard the outcries from my followers looking for another blog post.  We had a little longer pause than usual, but I had a very good reason.  I was in the bathroom.  With Sam.

Sam and I are having our rounds over pooping in the potty.  The whole situation has turned into a prize fight between mother and son.  We are now headed into the final rounds, each pulling ourselves up by the ropes and staggering to the center of the ring, as in toilet seat ring, unwilling to give up.  My mother commented on my black eyes, of which I have two. They aren't the shiners from typical blows to the face.  They are the dark circles that are the dead giveaway that I am losing sleep over this process.

Looking at these cute pictures, you would never guess that my son Sam can be the devil in disguise, the wolf in sheep's clothing, or the green grape out of the bunch.  Big blue eyes, a dimple on the left cheek, and a charming smile make him look ready made for a Little Tykes commercial.  I am the first to admit that he is far from easy.                                        Being that I am a teacher, I can smell trouble at school from a mile away.  I actually get nervous pulling into the parking lot of Milestones Early Learning Center.  Milestones is a new business owned and operated by two high school friends of mine.  They have embarked on a journey to see a life-dream to fruition, owning and operating their own Day Care/Preschool.  The pair has done a fabulous job getting their business off the ground, and have hired the nicest most patient staff to help them out.  Miss Erin, Sam's teacher is a saint.  When I got a note in his mailbox the other day that said, Conference Needed, I knew I was in major trouble. 

Every day the teachers write the parents little notes about how the day went.  I can tell when I eyeball the note, even from a distance, by how much writing there is on the lines, how much trouble Sam got into that day.  Sometimes there is so much writing on Sam's notes that I have to flip the sheet over to read the rest. 

I'm over reacting, you're all thinking?  Judge for yourself.  Here is a sample of some of his finest:

Sam threw his shoe at Miss Brenda today.  This is unacceptable behavior.  Sam was removed from the classroom and spent time with Miss Brenda thinking about his behavior.

Miss Brenda, being the director, has many duties throughout the day, one of them being the preparation of lunch.  Sam apparently was sitting on the naughty stool thinking about his behavior while she was in the kitchen fixing the plates.  When I asked Sam about how it felt to have to leave all the other kids because he made a poor choice.  His response to me was this:  "It was cool in there.  I helped her make lunch."  Can you say D-I-S-C-O-N-N-E-C-T?!?

Here is another:  When Sam is asked to do something, he usually screams "NO!" and stomps his foot and folds his arms across his chest.  When I asked Sam to read me his note from that day, he pointed to each of the above words and said very angelically, "Sam---was---a---good---boy---today."  Hey Sam, K-Mart called and your personality is in.  Go pick it up.

I approached Miss Erin about the conference.  I told her if she needed Louie and I both to take off work at 2:00 next week to come in and sit at a table made for 3-year-olds, so she can tell us that Sam is stubborn, that we were fully aware.  No news to us.  She smiled and corrected me.  Miss Erin said that out of the fifty kids enrolled, he is the MOST stubborn.  Great.  We agreed to spare everyone some time and determined that we would all keep working hard, and remain firm, consistent, and patient.  Much like an animal trainer does when trying to break a wild pony. 

I challenge any wild pony trainer to try to get that pony to poop in the potty instead of the preferred pasture.  That is what I have been doing with Sam the last week.  It has been Sam vs. Mommy every evening for 12 days straight.  Hard core poop training.  We come in from school and play a bit.  The first signs I see of Sam taking his telltale sneak, I put him on the potty and make him sit there.  I am done with the bathroom entertainment sessions.  No more me sitting there reading him books, blowing bubbles, and singing songs.  Just Sam and his Thomas the Tank Engine Potty seat and a job to be done--literally.

On Wednesday, he was sitting there for awhile and nothing appeared to be happening, so I let him off the hook, or the ring rather.  He got all zipped back up, hands washed, and ran right into the living room and hid behind the curtain and started to grunt.  I flew in there as mad as not just a hornet, but the Queen Bee Hornet.  I said to him, "What do you think you are doing?"  He said in a not so nice tone, "I prefer to poop standing up!"  (As you all can gather, he has my language ability).  I screamed, "If you can use the word PREFER, you can poop on the potty!" 

I put him in a barrel hold, and carried him kicking and screaming the whole way into our bathroom just off the kitchen.  I stripped his pants and threw his komodo dragon underwear with the smushed Hershey Kiss turd in the bottom into the sink for soaking.  I told him that he was not leaving the bathroom until something brown came out of him, even if I had to squeeze him like a tube of toothpaste.  Sorry friends.  I am at my breaking point so this was warranted.  I wonder what Freud would say to that.

Sam cried and carried on so loudly that we shut the door to the bathroom and cranked the Carrie Underwood CD in the kitchen stereo.  I made dinner.  We ate dinner.  We cleaned up dinner.  I was on my second cup of coffee on the couch when I realized Sam was still in the bathroom.  Flashes of that red ring around his naked little butt were running through my head as I was running to the bathroom to see if he still had circulation in his legs. 

The bathroom was quiet as I approached it.  I slowly opened the door to find Sam sitting there very calmly.  I noticed little pieces of something white and curly all over the floor surrounding the toilet.   I took a step into the bathroom and bent over to inspect what they were.  I had to actually grab the wall to steady myself when I realized Sam had peeled the wallpaper off of the bathroom wall, piece by piece. 

The room started to spin when I croaked out, "Sam, what are you doing!?"  He looked at me and said, "It's boring in here.  There is nothing to do!" 

Round 12 went to Sam.  TKO.  Technical Knock Out.   

Monday, November 1, 2010

Lesson 18: Take a Chance, Even on Halloween

Nothing in my life is random.  Nothing much left to chance.  When you are a teacher by trade, you learn to make plans.  Preparedness makes for a smooth day.  Life is crazy enough, but factor in two working parents, school activities, a 3-year-old who is refusing to poop in the potty, and an autistic daughter who is looking for the green wash cloth (that she lost 5 years ago); being well planned is the key to my sanity.  Even on holidays.

Halloween is kind of like that, too.  I am a girl who loves my themes and loves to see the connectedness in everything.  Therefore all my kids' costumes have to match in some sort of way each year or I feel defeated.  For example when Sam was a baby, the year of the bats, I dressed them as two bat girls and baby bat man.  The next year things were really wild, so I made Sam a monkey, Natalie a cheetah, and Ellen was the zookeeper (how fitting).  Last year we took two Penn State Cheerleaders and a Penn State football player on the rounds around Karen's Foxwood neighborhood, while riding on Jim Zielinski's hay wagon with Wonder Woman (my sister).  The hay wagon was back again this year.  Karen was a German Beer Girl and Grandma fit into my dad's Coast Guard uniform--great for Grandma!

For Halloween 2010 I struggled to find some sort of commonality that would link the three together and keep everyone happy.  Natalie is getting older, Ellen has social concerns about having the "just right costume", and Sam needs something that is fitting for a 3-year-old boy.  Ellen suggested that she could be a box of popcorn.  I thought a minute, and found some hope in this "corn" theme.  I could make Natalie candy corn, which is her favorite candy.  Try finding candy corn in the spring and summer!  Some thoughtful friends and family members actually have, and we now have a hidden stash for her in the top shelf of our cupboard.  But that left Sam.  After some thought, I considered making him a corn dog, which is one of the few things he will eat on occasion.  With every sketch I tried however, the costume just kept looking like a big, giant penis (equally fitting, may I add).  I moved on to Plan B.

Ellen then suggested that she and Natalie could be a set of dice and make the costumes out of felt and cardboard boxes.  I loved the idea and Ellen got right to work.  I named her Ellen after combining the names Elaine and Helen (my mother), but I should have named her Martha, as in Stewart.  She is very artistic and extremely crafty.  I still have the school bus she made out of an empty Kleenex box when she was 2, complete with pop out people and a working stop sign.  That still left Sam.....

I figured I could make him a card--the Joker would be appropriate, but he didn't seem to get that idea at all.  I stretched the theme thing to its max and decided to go with a "box" theme, just to say I kept to one.  We decided to dress him as Thomas the Tank Engine's engineer because he loves trains.  We had the hat, the overalls, and a neckerchief, so that would be affordable enough.  Dad always has an ample supply of beer boxes in the barn, so Martha could turn one of them into Thomas the Train.  We figured we could attach a rope to the box and he could pull Thomas along and put his candy in the box.  "There," I said as I brushed my hands together, "I pulled it off again--interconnected Halloween theme of boxes.  Mission accomplished."  Until last Tuesday, that is.

On Tuesday Sam decided that he wanted to be a coyote for Halloween.  He started practicing his howl and got it down pat after about 90 minutes of straight practice.  I kept changing the subject or leaving the room whenever he asked to see his coyote costume.  He is one persistent kid.  I was torn.  Should I stubbornly continue on the path I had intended with the box theme, or should I abandon it and roll the dice and try for something better?  For the heck of it, I took a chance and threw Sam in the van to go see what Wal-Mart had left in the Halloween costume aisle. 

Upon arrival I found a fair number of equally agitated parents, whiny kids, and some light arm wrestling over the few remaining costumes.  There were some werewolf masks left and I showed him one, knowing full well what he'd do.  Sam is not a shy kid, but is a complete chicken.  He took one look at the mask and ran down the aisle screaming "Help, Help!  There is a hairy monster!" 

We took a little break and went to the toy department to look at the trains.  He settled down a bit, so I thought I'd give the werewolf costumes one more try.  Standing in the middle of the aisle, there was some little kid who was deciding between the pirate and a somewhat tamer version of a werewolf.  I glanced at the size of the werewolf costume and it read, BOYS SMALL, Size 4-6.  It looked to be the only one left.  I boldly inserted myself into the conversation he was having with his mother, and knowing kids as well as I do, took another chance.  I said, "Boy, I sure do love that pirate costume.  Where did you find that?  Does that really come with the hook, the eye patch, and that feather?  That's a deal."  The brat, I mean the boy, didn't disappoint.  He clutched the pirate costume to his chest and said, "This is mine!".  He tossed the werewolf and I snatched it right back. 

Being the quick thinker that I am, I whipped out the picture cover from the plastic and flipped it over to the plain cardboard side.  I said, "Oh, Sam!  I found a coyote costume.  The picture fell off, but this coyote has brown fur.  Do you want to pet it?"  Sam loved petting the fur and couldn't wait to take the costume home.  So I took a chance and it worked, but I still had a couple of obstacles to climb--how was I going to get him to wear it without scaring himself to death?

I dashed up to the computer as soon as I got home and Mr. Google and his Image Department came to my rescue once again.  I found an image of Wylie Coyote from the old Warner Brothers cartoon.  A quick click, copy, and paste had Wylie on a word document, where I added a neat little title:  Boys Coyote Costume, Size Small 4-6.  I stuck it into the plastic sleeve, and showed Sam the picture I found.  "That's what you look like, Sam!  How cool!"  I told him.  Like Dracula, all I had to do was keep him away from a mirror. 

Once in awhile, a working parent has to choose between their children.  It is a painful sacrifice we all make from time to time.  Both Sam and Ellen had Halloween parades on Friday, each inviting parents to attend.  Sam's was early in the day, but I had a class and some responsibilities with my morning students.  I opted to go to Ellen's parade as it was later in the day.  Mom and Karen both volunteered to go to Milestones Early Learning Center's first ever Halloween Parade. 

I wish I was savvy enough to know how to get pictures off my cell phone and onto this blog.  If you have a sixth grader in your house who wants to come and show me how to do that, please call.  Karen sent me one photo which read, "Which one is Sam?"  In a line up of three-year-olds there was a Hello Kitty, Little Miss Muffett, GI Joe, Thomas the Tank Engine, and a werewolf--I mean a coyote.  A full head taller than everybody, he was kind of hard to miss.  The cutest, scary werewolf/coyote in Milestones history.

I took a chance this year and didn't follow what I usually do.  I wrote a new equation when I couldn't solve a problem.  So, I broke the mold and this year the kids didn't really match.  Did it really matter?  Not really.  The brave part for me was taking the chance and hoping that it would all work out. 

It was that which reminded me of another Five for Fighting song that I love called Chances.  The video is posted above.  The tune is great and it catches you as the singer has such a distinct style.  The video is a bit contrived, but it is neat to watch two people brave enough to take a chance--probably when they were 15 (read blog post 15 in case you missed that one). 

Take a chance every once in a while, dear readers.  You never know, you just might make history.  Hoooowwwwlllllll!