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I browse the free romance novels for Kindle at Amazon, and download the ones that might be likely; I've found a couple of good ones, but many are examples of How Life Is So Terrible Now That Nobody Can Write Any More. One I tried last night had the advantage of some amusing word choice errors:

1. Laura shut her eyes as tightly as she could when she heard Nathaniel's admonition of love.

2. "No one wants to dance with me anymore!" Claire pouted. "How can you say no to your old friend?"

Leander looked back at his sister, letting her catch the pained expression on his face. ... "Very well," he capsized. "Let's go."

The book also uses "alright" throughout. Note, this is not self-published or anything; a press put this out.

***

I've had a bad week; at home, not working, not doing anything much worthwhile and as a result very unhappy. Each day I've meant to go out and do something but I have not yet succeeded (today I will; there's a school even I am going to.) It's Memorial Day weekend, and we were going to stay here because of a Girl Scout event tomorrow, but that's been postponed, so we could go somewhere. But I want a vacation, not a "listen to the kids act up and bicker in new places" weekend. We went out to dinner last night and Dillo was a jerk. I am so ready for the kids to act more mature, but I don't seem to be able to manage to teach them to be so.
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This has been the weekend of the bay-buh-lade. Bay-buh-lade is a game that Dillo has created. I think it originated with a toy called a Battle Blade. These are plastic tops, with serrated edges, and you spin them at each other and make them battle. I think at after school, the kids have started making "tops" out of legos and battling them. This is what we have been doing at home, pretty much continuously, since 6am Saturday. There's a basic structure of each bay-buh-lade, built around a core that's square foursies with a platform made of two by fours in the middle, and then you build an outer ring of two by fours that sits on that, and then you add fins and wings and other elaborations. The good ones get names - the Ice Queen, The Firestarter - partly based on their colors. After a lot of building and tinkering, you sit on the wooden floor and spin them at each other. My method is twisting using the top foursie of the core; Dillo has a two-handed method using the arms. Sometimes the bay-buh-lades don't hit each other when you spin. If they do, the one that keeps going wins, while the one that gets knocked off loses. Losing pieces is points lost too. We have mostly managed to keep sibling fighting over this to a minimum, and have fun instead of getting too into point-keeping. It helps that one parent is usually involved.

It's great that Dillo is creative and made his own game and loves to build things and is learning about symmetry (to make them spin well) and how to build them strong and so forth. But after two full days I am so tired of the bay-buh-lade game. We need another 5 year old boy to keep up with the obsession.
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Kids fighting. I sent mr. flea out with Dillo to get cat food, figuring he could use the exercise (Dillo, that is.)

I calmed the freaking-out Casper and fed her lunch and talked her into going to Joseph-Beth booksellers with me. We totted up her allowance owed and talked about buying a gift for Dillo.

We walked in and found mr. flea and Dillo, of course. But we all agreed to pretend we didn't see each other.

A peaceful half hour ensued. But each kid only wanted things for him/herself. Casper was better than Dillo, and saw several things that would be reasonable gifts for him.

Finally Dillo pitched a fit that we were obviously not going be be buying him a Playmobil castle, and mr. flea took him home. I found Casper counting up her change and planning to buy herself a little (adorable) stuffed dog. I reminded her that we were shopping for others, and also noted that Dillo would plotz if I let her buy a gift for herself when I'd just sent him home for wanting gifts for himself. She stormed off and we stormed home together and she's in her room.

Ah, the spirit of giving. It takes practice.

(In other news, their car bickering has gotten so sad we literally can't take them anywhere.)
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Or rather, my last day home alone with the kids - mr. flea is off tomorrow and Jan. 3 with me.

Due to various punishments, Casper is on no TV, and Dillo gets no treats, no scooter, and no iPod touch.  God damn, what am I supposed to do with them all day??  Kids, please a) be less sassy and b) cooperate with the damned toothbrushing!  So far we have used the melon baller on a cantaloupe with great glee, and I think we are going to make biscuits, and test the virtues of the TWO egg slicers I received for Christmas.  (At least it's not like the Christmas of the Silicone Pastry Brush - I got 3 of those.)
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I had to leave work because I was so stressed out about the girl scout meeting yesterday, and walked home sobbing.  Then I successfully managed to nap while roofers were working on the back porch.  (Since I'd been up since 4:30 am worrying about girl scouts.)

Of course, the meeting was fine.

So, on the list of things that can reduce me to gibbering idiocy?
1.  Dentists
2.  Girl Scouts

Xposting from Facebook, where many of y ou probably already saw it, for the immortality factor:
Dillo: "Mom, I forgot about the toilet and I went in the sink!"
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I am at my wits' end with this Dillo child. We had a terrible night last night, with deliberate misbehavior and the customary fight to brush teeth and spanking and yelling and fighting. He can cry for 45 minutes, then start laughing at a joke as if he'd never been crying, which makes me concerned that he is fake-crying for 45 minutes. We fight - to the point of having to hold him down and force the toothbrush in - over dental hygiene almost every night. He is spanked most days. It has no effect on him and frankly doesn't make me feel much better either.

We need to change something but I don't know what. What seems to keep him fairly even keel is to pay constant attention to him when we are at home. Like, constant. Since we have another child, who needs intensive homework help every night, and we need to do things like cook meals and clean up after them and so forth, we don't manage this perfectly, and then he starts to throw things and break them, act up, and then I get mad and ignore him because I can't deal and we are in the downward spiral.

Every day he doesn't want to go to school and we are planning to send him to the YMCA Dec. 20-22 (where he has never done camp but has had swimming lessons, and I think for the Xmas camp they keep the ages together so Casper would be with him mostly.) He had already said he doesn't want to do that, and got so upset when Casper was trying to tell him it is fun that we had to direct the conversation elsewhere. I could take the whole week off before Christmas, but I can't take the whole summer off, and this is in a way a trial run for summer camp at the YMCA. I was planning to take the forms in today but I am torn now. But, as mr. flea put it, "Do you really want to stay home with him two weeks in a row?" (since I am going to be home with the kids the week of Dec. 27).

We are meeting with his teacher in a routine conference this morning but she's not the kind of teacher who will be much help in terms of dealing with him - she is old-school, not a modern philosophy of parenting type. In general he is doing well with the content at school - they think he is clever - and fine with the social part (which is the real work at this age). He has stopped having accidents for the most part and we never have a bad report of his behavior. He just acts up at home. And knows how to push my buttons BIG TIME.
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Dillo is currently obsessed with chicken. We traditionally eat mostly vegetarian, with maybe ground beef or bacon or sausage once a week, and on rare occasions a pork roast or steaks or something. I almost never buy chicken in the grocery store because of the factory farming, and good free-range chicken isn't available through our local food supplier very often (and when it is it's ridiculously expensive, more expensive than beef.)

I think it started at school, where they serve chicken drumsticks for lunch once or twice a month. Dillo saw these, and asked for them, so I let him buy lunch on "chicken day" a couple of times. The other week I thought it would be nice to do drumsticks at home, so we got some and I roasted them on Wednesday (the day I work late). The kids devoured them. So I got a (kosher but not free-range) whole chicken at Trader Joe's (WE HAVE TRADER JOE'S) this past weekend and we roasted it for Sunday dinner. The kids want chicken all the time now. The only problem is, I don;t really want to eat chicken, myself, and I don't want to feed factory-farmed chicken to my kids all the time, either. But I knew Dillo had gone 'round the bend when we were at the Learning Explosion at school last night and our job was to look at a picture and describe what our five senses would perceive if we were in the picture and the picture was Tar Beach (http://www.google.com/images?q=tar+beach&biw=986&bih=805)and Dillo said if he was in the picture he would smell chicken. And taste chicken. There is no chicken in the picture.

ION, Casper and her fiance Thomas have begun exchanging letters in the mail. It is adorable. (Except for Casper's terrible penmanship and spelling.) Thomas called tonight to try to arrange a play date. The kids are mostly so sweet at this age. I hate that at some point it will be all middle school jockeying for status.
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At 12:15 Mrs. R called me to tell me that Dillo (who went to school in a pull-up today, part of mr. flea's way of dealing with the after school accidents) had pooped in his pants and it had gone up his back and on his naptime sheet, and he was going to need a bath so I needed to come get him.

mr. flea is in the field this week, so I hotfooted it the two miles to school and found Dillo sitting in the nurse's office by himself, still fully clothed, holding his sheet wrapped up in a plastic bag. He complained about how long it had taken me to get there. We walked home and I asked about what had happened. He was initially indignant that his teachers has not let him have a nap and had sent him to the office instead (he didn't complain about the poopy pants; they smelled him and investigated). He told me he needed to go to the bathroom at lunch but there was no teacher to ask (my guess is this is untrue; the paraprofessionals stay with the kids at lunch) and so he pooped in his pants at naptime. We talked about how school "takes too long" and he doesn't have anyone to play with (since Jimmy, who was a behavior problem, left.) I asked about Eli whom he has talked about and he said Eli is always in time out all day. I asked about other friendly-looking kids but he says they are not his friends.

Just this morning we discussed getting him some new sneakers as a treat this weekend if he stayed dry the rest of the week. So that's out. He doesn't seem embarrassed or upset. I don't know what to do. I am thinking of trying to spend the morning with his class tomorrow, so I can see what's up (I haven't been able to do that yet) and then having a meeting with Mrs. R, the after school director, and us, to try to figure out what to do. I am honestly tempted to inquire if they can take him back at his old day care, where he had accidents, but at least he wasn't a sassy pain in the ass all the time.
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For starters, this time we actually camped, so we started out ahead. We camped at Doll Mountain Campground on Lake Carter (which is a fake dam-lake), which is run by the Army Corps of Engineers and has a shiny new road thanks to stimulus dollars. It was fine; a bit of a hike to the bathroom, and we had a Valdosta State geology class field trip next to us. While they were relatively quiet and respectful, they also got in after 9:30pm both nights we were there.

We had traffic and slowness and got there late ourselves, at maybe 9pm on Friday, and had to put up the tent in the dark. The kids fell asleep right away thankfully, but then Dillo had an hour-long crying fit from 3-4am sparked by, I kid you not, the fact that his nose was stuffy. mr. flea took him to sit in the car during the phase when I was nearly homicidal (I'd been up since 5:15 with him the previous AM.)

We cowboyed up and headed out to New Echota, the Cherokee capital founded in, uh, I think 1819. Most of the buildings on the site are reconstructions or were moved from elsewhere, but it was a pretty good site I thought, and the kids liked it. We ran down to Calhoun on I-75 and had lunch (and COFFEE) and an IHOP, and then went back up to the Chief Vann House, built in 1806 by one of the richest Cherokee, who worked a plantation with 10 slaves (let it not be said that history is simple, folks). I didn't actually go in the house, thanks to Dillo, who dozed a bit in the car, but mr. flea and Casper liked it (Casper told me all about how Joseph Vann drank too much whiskey.)

We picked up some hot dogs and buns at a quickie mart, and I had a nap in the tent while mr. flea took the kids to see the dam. To bed early, but then Dillo was up twice and then spent the rest of the night trying to climb on my head. Picked up some apples in Ellijay rather than pick our own, then home in time for lunch. Which I realize now we forgot to eat, oops.

So, 4 year old continues to be difficult, fall is nice, Casper is big enough to really understand stuff (not just whiskey.)
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Both kids are having vastly different issues right now.

Read more... )
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Dillo has a full-on, can't stop crying meltdown an hour ago. Over our refusal to take him to Chik-fil-A for ice cream right that second. I was sure we'd get dinner in him and get him to bed by 7.

Now he has peed, eaten, done a puzzle with me, and pooped, and is excessively cheerful, counting to 21, and looks poised to go on all night.

I meanwhile am exhausted.

Also, there is a Classics Librarian job open at Yale. Salary range $51-78K. Freestanding classics library of 32,000 volumes, position manages 5-8 students, union environment, liaison to the department, manages web pages, etc. And here I sit in Georgia, with a house, a spouse whom I trail, and children.
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(same day)

I highly recommend Sandy Creek Nature Center as a birthday venue. The turtle and snake and lizard were awesome, the kids and adults loved it, and the "make a reptile out of playdoh" project was a huge hit.

Then we packed up and drove to NC and found no room at the inn - at any campground anywhere, and not a free hotel room to be found in Asheville. And Casper pitched six kinds of fits and awfulized, and we finally got a room in Flat Rock, and then the kids were insanly bouncy and worked up and downright rude and I had to flee the room for fear of doing them violence. I am so tired, you little fuckers, shut UP and got to SLEEP and stop LAUGHING at my anger and pian.
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Dillo has mostly come out of his constant "I want to be a baby" phase (thanks be to god.) Interestingly, at the same time he's gotten interested in playing with a baby doll, Casper's old Fisher Price basic baby doll (a gift at age 15 months from Tonya!). He has named this doll Baby Akunono (pronounced Ah-koo-no-no.) I have no idea where this name came from.

I am deeply grateful to Baby Akunono for his/her (it varies) role in allowing Dillo to stop talking baby talk constantly and peeing in his pants. But then we saw Toy Story 3 this weekend, and Big Baby kinda freaked me out, and now Baby Akunono scares me a little.
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I spent a lot of this past weekend being angry at Dillo. This is a mark of my immaturity as much as his, I quickly add; he was just being a 3 year old boy, and a fairly easygoing one at that, but I was in no mood for endless snuggles and hands down the shirt and "play with me!" and energy. Sunday night was especially trying; he ate almost no dinner, ran about, took a bath pretty cooperatively, but then ran around the house naked and deliberately peed on the floor, and thought it was very funny indeed. I got to put him to bed and lie next to him as he said, "I'm hungry," over and over again until he fell asleep.

I went to bed angry at him and it was hot upstairs and first the ceiling squirrels and then Food, Inc. on Tivo woke me up, and I had to put the bathroom vent fan on to cool things down, and I finally fell asleep at about 11.

At 3am I awoke to crying in the living room. It was poor brave Dillo, armed with a flashlight, shaking with cold and fear and crying, "Mommy! Where are you?" Usually I'd have woken at the first real cry of his, but due to the fan I'd slept on. He'd peed in his bed and woken cold and wet. He climbed out of bed and turned on the light in his room (as he explained to me, because hew as "a little bit scared,") and accidentally peed a bunch more on the floor. (I guess he is well-hydrated.) I still didn't come so he got his flashlight and turned it on and came to find me. Such a brave scared little boo! I wiped his snotty nose and got him dry pants and praised him for knowing just what to do when there was a crisis in the night and I didn't come, and for being so brave, and installed him in my bed, where he quickly went back to sleep. Such a darling.
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The good:
I baked chocolate chip scones, oatmeal bread, and butter cookies; cooked bistro bowtie salad with homegrown spinach, pork roast, and kale and heirloom beans. I did laundry, got the multiplying boxes (and a bird's nest with eggs in it, idiot bird) out of the laundry room, swept the pollen off both porches (again), dug over a new garden bed (yes I admitted I need more space), made a list and grocery shopped, bought frames for 3 items I've been wanting to frame, and spent $15 on beginning acrylic painting supplies for Casper.

The bad:
mr. flea worked on the plumbing all day Saturday (while it poured rain) and until 2pm on Sunday, and my job was to sit and wait for him to be done, while not killing my children. This was rather harder than you'd think, especially since Dillo is SO THREE. We need to find a better way to get house renovations done, since I actually LIKE doing things and HATE sitting around minding the children. But he has the plumbing skills and the patience and temperament to do it right (even is he is SO SLOW.)

We're not done yet; the upstairs sink is not yet plumbed, because to do it means opening up the wall, and by 2pm mr. flea was tired and sweaty and knew he wouldn't be able to get the wall closed today. So nothing's turned on, even through 2/3 of it is all hooked up. Which means we have to do it all again next weekend. Ugh.
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This week Dillo has decided he doesn't need the 11-12 hours of sleep a night recommended for 3 year olds. Monday night I lay in his bed feigning sleep for most of an hour, and then finally got angry and left in a huff at 9:30. Only then did he stop talking and fall asleep. Tuesday he rejected me, begging for mr. flea, then when he got mr. flea he begged for me. We were not willing to dance to his tune, so he cried and cried. I think he was asleep by 9:45 or so.

Last night was my working night. The cell phone rang at 9:52; it was mr. flea telling me they were going to bundle into the car and come pick me up, since they were all still awake. Casper was tired and angry at Dillo for keeping her up, talking too loud with mr. flea in the next room. She was asleep in about 15 seconds once we got home. I had to lie with Dillo fr another half hour. Even though he was yawning and heavy-lidded, he kept mumbling, "I want Daddy." Even though half the problem while I was at work was that he wanted me.

And then this morning he was wide awake at 6am. WTF? I think the weather (hot hot hot, high 80s-90s all week), the increasing lateness of sunset (it is quite light at 8pm, when we start bedtime, now), and the ineluctable orneriness of the 3.5 year old are to blame. The heat is supposed to break today; I don't know what we can do about the rest.

ION, he has a very funny verbal tic now. He asks us a question, and we answer, and he is surprised, or feigns surprise, and says, "WHAT the...?" I am pretty sure he doesn't know what's supposed to be on the end of that sentence.

Casper, for her part, says, "Niiice" like a surfer when there's something she likes. And after a squabble over who would get the last jellybean from the Easter cake, she defended her grab, saying, "I have a fast hand!" (I laughed out loud, but did take the jellybean, which was rightfully Dillo's.)
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Every Wednesday, Casper has to write sentences using each of her spelling words. This week's words feature th and ph. So, the sentences went like this:
I have a cell phone!
I took death to the skies.

Yeah, I don't even know. Maybe she will grow up to be George Patton. Or Darth Vader.

I was at work last night, and my bedtime phone call included a long story from Casper about building a leprechaun trap. She took a box and wrapped it in tin foil (Dillo unwrapped most of the new roll of tin foil, natch) and set it up on a forked stick in the front yard, baited with (fake) gold coins and grapes (since leprechauns eat green food). As of this morning there were no captives, but we shall see.

I also came home to find Dillo asleep on an air mattress in the living room, and the high chair placed at his place at the table. I had gotten both things out to prepare for our weekend houseguests, but apparently Dillo has appropriated them. Since he's coming up on 4, I hope to convince him that the high chair, at least, is for the BABY.
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mr. flea went in for a meeting with the Dillo's teacher today at lunch, so it seemed like a good time for an overall update.

He's 3.5 now, about 39 inches tall, 34 pounds according to the Wii. This means, IIRC, that's gained all of about 2 pounds in the last 18 months, which is not that surprising when you look at his figure and how it's changed (and is also developmentally appropriate). He's still got a round face and a round head and the snub nose he was born with, but the rest of him is no longer round - he's all slim and limby. He's definitely had a growth spurt this fall - I bought him 2T pants in September and they fit and now they are highwaters, so he's finally fully into 3T.

He's a bit fussy about clothes, and prefers "soft pants" (sweatpants and other elastic waist things - not jeans) and if given the choice would wear his black and orange striped pajama shirt 24/7. He likes stripes, and pajamas. We are laxer than we were with Casper - our rule is, you may wear ONE piece of your pajamas the next day to school (he usually picks the shirt) and you may not wear the same clothes two days in a row. (With Casper we had a "no pajamas at all" rule.) His hair is loooong and shaggy and I really should cut it, but he likes it long and you really can't cut the hair of a violently protesting child, can you? He dislikes having his hair washed at the moment, though liking baths otherwise, so I figure I'll wait until the phase passes before trying again with the scissors.

mr. flea reports that he's doing very well at school. It's a Montessori classroom, a primary classroom but the kids are almost all on the younger end of primary (3-4.5). His teacher says that in general she thinks he is advanced for his age, in social skills and skills. He and Evan and Adam are all very interested in their works, and spend more time together as a result. Dillo likes to do works and is really self-motivated and independent once he's understood them, and will sometimes move ahead before he is shown the next step. mr. flea came away feeling we are babying him a bit at home, and can give him more responsibility, on the one hand, and maybe expect a little more from him on the other. (Example: apparently he eats everything except tomatoes at school. At home, he's a pastafarian, and dinnertime is kind of a circus. So maybe we should impose a little more structure at meals at home.)

He's just starting figural drawing - drew a face of himself on the whiteboard last night, but was stumped about how to draw "his bones" and wanted my help. He speaks in complete sentences and is comprehensible. He knows some letters and sounds, and they work on this at school. He's interested in sound play and word play a little - replacing all the initial sounds in a sentence with the same consonant, like "BI'm the Biggest Barnibore, in the Betaceous Borest." Has been using his stomp rocket as a vacuum around the house, and we've had a lot of block and lego and train play - especially after mr. flea had the genius idea to use the Thomas duplo and dinosaur duplo together and make a Dinosaur Train!

His teacher reports that "butt" language is not a problem at school. It is one at home - every other word is "butt-butt" and he discovered the word "butt-hole" last week (I think at school - it's not something we say!) He teases his sister sometimes, and then cries when she gets angry at him. They're at a rocky point - he's old enough now to realize when she is being too bossy and to demand equality, but not old enough to be a real peer in many games. He's still a little shy/passive in the face of others' aggression at school, and shy with strangers - still buries his face in my neck. After a LOT of potty accidents over the break, he is mostly back on track, with occasional accidents rather than accidents as a matter of course.

I have been thinking of him as trying and exhausting and the other things I associate with being 3, so it was nice to get the glowing report from school about his maturity and self-motivation. He's a sweet boy, too, a cuddler, very lovey, in addition to being an energetic bouncy homework-distracting cookie-demanding three year old.
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We haven't even left yet on our 10-hour drive, and already I am tired of the children, especially The Dillo. All day long, if I leave the room to try and do something, he hollers Moooooom! And he wants to leave, insisting we can go NOW even though I have explained we aren't going to leave now, Daddy is at work. He offers to go to Aunt M's by himself, on foot if necessary. I am tempted to send him that way.
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[Casper]'s wish list

-Bunny [They went to the pet store to buy cat food while I grocery shopped.]
-Doll hous mansion.
-My baby first steps. [This is apparently a Wii game.]
-A flat Screen TV.

Yeah, not so much. Though I am starting to fantasize about a second TV, so I can veg and watch football while they veg and watch Spongebob. But that way lies cable and a TV in every room.

Casper is actually getting American Girl Doll Julie (1974, with looong blonde hair and brown eyes.)

I am off to work shortly and GLAD. The kids have been bickering like mad all weekend (including hitting each other), Casper cries when yelled at (for doing things like grabbing things out of her brother's hand) and Dillo seems to have been on a mission to poop or pee in every single pair of underpants he owns.

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