Saturday, April 19, 2014

Pictures

Every year during the Houston Livestock and Rodeo (a ginormous event here in southern Texas) the schools all have a Go Texas Day. It is a very big event. All the kids and staff dress in cowboy wear and they bring in ropers, horses, snake handlers, saddle makers, horse trainers, farriers (horse shoers). The entire day is spent playing cowboy and celebrating Texas. Here are my boys in their cowboy finest. Ahren and Jon decided they needed mustaches to be 'real' cowboys. LOL!


 He may have a future in modeling.  He struck this pose all by by himself.

Levi decided to channel Johnny Cash and dress all in black. He had a black hat, too, but was not cooperating very well with my picture taking. I got one shot and he was done.

I need to start posting to our cooking blog. The boys, especially Levi and Jon, still love to cook with me. They are getting to the point that they are actually really helpful. Someday they will make their wives very happy.

 One of the pitfalls of living in southern Texas is the nasty critters that live here. I found this little guy in the dryer when I removed a load. That means that he was IN the dirty clothes when I scooped them off the floor and started the wash. It was only luck that kept me from getting stung. I always turn on the lights at night when I get up to use the bathroom. Otherwise I might step on one of these lovelies….

Levi is growing his hair out. He has my thick, semi-curly hair and here is what it looks  like in the mornings.

Levi designed his own shoes on the Nike website. The good news is we now have no problem finding them each morning!

Hey, what are you doing up there? (He is standing on the counter) His answer? Exploring. My response: GET DOWN!

Levi made dinner. Chicken enchiladas. Yum! I directed him but he did all the work. They were super yummy!

 Notice the safe technique. No fingers were hurt in this demonstration!
 Derp! Why can't they just smile for the picture?????
 One day after grocery shopping I discovered the cat had helped herself to the family sized pack of tuna. What the heck? She must have been able to smell it through the package. It's cans-only from now on.

Spring in Texas. The skies are so blue and the clouds white and puffy. The grass is emerald green.

We have baby turtles in the pond. Here is one, about the size of a half-dollar. These are Sliders, a semi-aquatic species indigenous to our area. We have worked really hard to make our pond a very healthy eco-system.

The garden is growing! Here is the very first baby tomato. We have eggplant, cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, peppers of all kinds, herbs, and pumpkins. A lot of things do not grow well here so we are a bit limited.

Levi, my helper. He loves to come help with whatever I am doing outside.

Sweet Basil. I can't wait to cook with this!

My other 'boy', Rio. He is just the sweetest. He nickers at me when he sees me, follows me around like a dog with his head over my shoulder trying to see what I am doing, and just loves me to pieces. He has gained almost 100 pounds since I got him, weight the vet told me was good for him. He is now perfect weight. His hooves are 100 times more healthy, too. He is still losing his winter coat so he is looking a bit rough, but still shiny and healthy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Still Struggling

  He is still struggling. We started a new ADHD med last Thursday. I hate to do that but he is miserable. We are only giving it to him every other day and only during school weeks. The great news is that he had grown 1.5 inches and gained 12 pounds since September. We really need to keep that growth going. There are only 34 more school days this year and then he will come of the drugs again. Ugh. Parenting a little hot mess of a RADlet is soooo hard!
  So yesterday I was at the school mentoring some kids when his teacher found me. She did not look happy. He had forged her initials  on his reading log thinking that he could fool her and be able to attend the ice cream party that afternoon. Since August they have been doing this reading game called Readopoly. In order to participate in the ice cream party, the students needed to have read and written a very short description for 12 books. Not chapter books, simple books. Since August. They even worked on these at Library time and in the classroom. How many had he completed? None. Zero. Zippo. Nada. Even though he had read many more books than that. He just never filled out the worksheet. (The worksheet involved writing 3 sentences, drawing 3 pictures and write the title and author.) Now here it is time for ice cream and he was under pressure. Solution? Lie and cheat. Thank goodness he is horrible at forging and equally bad at lying. Oh, he lies often, just not well. He might as well hold up a neon sign over his head announcing he is lying.
  At first I was upset that they put these big incentives out there trying to motivate the kids. A kid like mine just doesn't have much ability to look into the future and act accordingly in the present. But then I got to thinking about it. He was totally capable of completing this assignment. In fact, it was optional. No one HAD to do it. They just got a reward if they did complete it. Hmmm, something to think about. Anyway, I told him he was going to be completing all of the reading and reports before he got to have any electronics back. No matter how long it takes. You know what that little bugger did? He completed 6 of them yesterday! No complaints, no problems. He did a good job, too. I don't know whether to hug him or throttle him. Maybe both. Multiple times. He is so smart.
 

Monday, April 07, 2014

Fake IRS phone calls

  Today I received a phone message from a woman at the IRS saying that I needed to contact them immediately due to serious legal issues. Say what? Right after I got the message
 I called the phone number they left, and the bizarre began to unfold.
  First, the message I got was in such a thick Indian ( from India) accent that I couldn't decipher half of what she said. That was my first clue. Then, when I called back, the first thing the guy I reached ( also with a thick Indian accent) asked me about was the name of my attorney. I asked him why I would need an attorney? He stated, in a ticked off voice, that I was being sued. By whom? Then he really acted ticked and told me he would read me the 'deposition' and I was NOT to interrupt him but that he would answer questions at the end. Ok, second clue, a deposition is someone's sworn testimony not the list of charges against someone. He rambled on about 3 counts against me, none of which were actual charges and none had any details. They were vague but scary sounding. When he finished I asked him what year the charges were for and he replied 2006-2012. I asked why, if we had used a certified public accounting firm to file those returns,  why they had not contacted them since they were legally responsible for the veracity of those returns. He got really ticked off at that point and screamed at me that he was sending the Sheriff to arest me and he hung up. He used several nasty cuss words in that diatribe.
  Note, each time these people called me they identified themselves as employees of the Internal Revenue Service. They told me they were in the legal department of the IRS. Right.
  I called this man back immediately and he answered the phone by saying"Why are you calling me back?" I told him that he said he would answer my questions and I had questions that he needed to answer. I then asked him why they had not contacted my CPA? He then called me a stupid ^$@&#¥, etc etc. It was really nasty. So I asked why every person I had talked to had a thick Indian accent and why they were not Americans. He continued his nasty diatribe.
  So......I told him he was a fraud, that he was a piece of trash and I would open a can of Texas whoop a$$ on him. ( I actually said a lot more I cannot print here) and I hung up. Then I contacted the real IRS and reported it. Apparently this happens every year and is called Phishing. They scare you, get a lot of personal information and steal your identity. Do NOT fall for this. The IRS does NOT contact you in this manner if they find an error in a tax return. Always double check with the real IRS.
  ** note! I have nothing against people from India, it was just a red flag if everyone from the IRS spoke very poor English.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Back to the Doctor

  Well, it was another week of questionable behavior for our little man. Spending 20 minutes washing his hands in the bathroom, squirting soap on other kids, burping in kids' faces, not doing his work, not staying in his seat, etc, etc, etc. It's clearly time to re-visit the meds arena. I hate to do it. He doesn't eat and he doesn't grow. He is finally in the middle of the growth chart and weighs 62 pounds. Not one ounce of that is fat. He has no reserves at all. He needs to be successful in school and it is just what we have to do for now. Ugh! At least there are only weeks left in the school year and over the summer he will be off meds.
  We have an appointment on Tuesday. I am hoping that we can switch to a different med that has less side effects and still works. Maybe the Focalin patch? I will discuss it with the doctor. The only problem with the patch is he can remove it himself. You know, the kid who is manipulative, hid his pills, fed them to the dog, spit them in the toilet and even made himself vomit to avoid taking them. Yeah, a patch might be trouble. We won't know until we try. I wonder if there is a medicine I can give him as a big ol' shot in the hiney? I bet after a few days of that he would cooperate a bit better. Then again, he may just tell me he loves the shot and smile that 'I win' smile.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I feel so chatty!

  I don't know why, but suddenly I feel like blogging again. Maybe because it is getting warmer and sunny every day. I am a bit like a big lizard. When it's cold I am sloooooww. The sunshine energizes me! Whatever it is, I am enjoying the energy!

  We had debated for several years whether to get the boys a trampoline. I know they would never follow the safety rules like only one jumper at a time. I also know there would be lots of shoving, bumping, flipping and bouncing off of each other. I also know that one of the top reasons for kids to be seen in the ER is injuries from a trampoline.

  But…..we need outlets for excess energy in one boy and we need physical activity to build muscle in another boy. So we bit the bullet and ordered a trampoline and enclosure net. We got the biggest we could find that had super good safety ratings. Very strong, 6 ft tall net all around, pads covering the springs, safety latches on the springs to hold them tight, and a quick latch opening. It took us a while to get it put together (too much help from little boys) but it was relatively easy to assemble. Then the jumping began!

  We have had the tramp for about a month now and it gets used every single day. After school they will jump for an hour! During the weekends they are out there off and on all day long. So far so good on injuries. We have had some sore muscles and one bumped head (not bad). The most amazing thing is that Jon is showing us what a truly gifted athlete he is. he has taught himself a cartwheel, round-off and front tuck. I am now working with him on a back tuck. In one session, he almost has it, landing close to on his feet every time. I went ahead and signed the boys all up for gymnastics starting this week. Levi is also doing great learning tumbling and Ahren, well Ahren just needs work. Hah! That sweetie is a hot mess. Gymnastics will be great for him. As he gains muscle it will help compensate for his loose ligaments and tendons. The boy is like Gumby.  That flexibility will come in handy for gymnastics.

  Not much else happening around here. Ashley and I are going on a 9 day mission trip to Costa Rica in July. That means I need to get exercising. I need to be able to do manual labor all day long in the heat. Well, heat I am used to, but the hard labor? I need to get my tushie moving. We are so excited to be able to participate in this wonderful trip set up through our church. There are 14 of us going from the church. it's going to be awesome.

 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Hard Work and Sunshine

  If you live somewhere in the far frozen regions of the world, stop reading right now. This will only tick you off…..
  Today I planted my garden and it is late. It has rained too much to get it in before now. My garden is three 8x4 ft and one 8x8 ft raised beds. The entire thing is enclosed in 5 ft fencing to keep the deer and rabbits out. A large plastic owl with a swivel head hangs over the center to keep the birds out. You see, when you live this close to nature you have to fight for those veggies. Our 'soil'(if you can call it that) is all clay, hence the raised beds. This is the first time in three years I have planted the garden. Droughts the past two years made it impossible to grow anything besides cacti. Here is what I had to do to reclaim my garden.

Step 1) The entire thing is overgrown with weeds and dry brush, so I had the brilliant idea to burn off the dead stuff. I watered all around the outside of the fence really well to be sure it didn't spread. Then a couple of squirts of lighter fluid and I threw in a match. Oh holy flames of hellish inferno! The whole thing went up like a roman candle, sending flames 15 feet into the air. The kids ran screaming and the neighbors came running out to see if we were okay. Luckily it burned out as fast as it started. Whew! I was not looking forward to trying to explain this to the fire department.

Step 2) Natural fertilizer in the form of horse manure. Did you know that horse poop does not smell very much? It smells a lot less than the stinky composted mulch the lawn care companies use. That stuff stinks like a hog confinement, and believe me I grew up in Iowa and smelled plenty of those! I took our mule (kawasaki not 4-legged) and brought up several loads from the barn. I had enough to fertilize the 8x8 bed and one 4x8 bed. There will be more coming, that I know. (Never ending supply) I placed a layer of manure in each bed.

Step 3) Add bags of garden soil and top soil and then turn it all by hand. I can't use a tiller since they are raised beds, so I had to do the work myself. Ooooh, my back hurts! I got it all turned and mixed well. Nice and loose and ready for my plants.

Step 4) Arrange plants and seeds and get them in the soil. Add slow-release fertilizer on top so that it dissolves a little each time I water. Place cages around the tomato plants. Keep plant info stakes beside each plant.

Step 5) Water well. Deep and slow, soaking all the ground underneath. The trick to getting plants to send their roots deep is to water deep but less often. That is important in such hot climates.

Step 6) Stand back and look at my beautiful plants, then realize I am only halfway done. Rub my sore back and head in for a shower. Notice I am also sunburned.

  In addition to the gardening, I also gave Rio, my horse, a bath and scrubbed a lot of the loose hair off of him. He gets really shaggy over the winter, even though it never gets that cold here. He is a Morgan, much like the Mustang, and they are rough and tough outdoor animals. This time of year he looks like a shaggy, patchy mess. As I scrubbed him, handfuls of hair came out. He has to feel so much better. Then, since I was already wet and soapy, I washed my van.

  Of course, this means I did NO laundry, no housework, no indoor chores today. My bad. I would much rather be outside than inside. I was a dirty, sweaty, sunburned, hairy mess at the end of it all, but I am a happy camper.

Aww, life is good.

Friday, March 28, 2014

One step forward, two steps back….going in reverse

  Today resulted in another trip to the Principal's office for my young RADlet. I am not sure if I remember everything he did, but it went something like;

              1) Screaming in class
              2) snuck into the teachers desk and stole an eraser
              3) lied about everything multiple times
              4) pushed another child in the restroom
              5) more lies

I think there was something else but by this point I was on overload. The new Vice Principal is such a sweet lady, definitely no match for my evil genius son. She went on and on about discussing the Golden Rule and how lying just makes a bigger mess of things. He sat there looking very attentive and gave her back all of the correct answers. She thinks he is really 'getting it'. Right. Like we have never had these discussions in the past 4 years. Geez! I know she is trying, but he is not your typical 8 year old. Now he thinks he really put one over on her. Plus, to him, getting to hang out in her office and not do his school work was a reward for him. He would much rather hang out and talk to an adult in a nice way than sit in his chair, keep his hands to himself and get his work done. Too bad the Principal wasn't there today or the last time. He is a big, deep-voiced no-nonsense man and Jon would have had a totally different experience in his office.
  Now the VP wants to have Jon spend a few sessions with the school counselor. Sigh. Like we have never taken him for therapies or counseling. Maybe we should have just saved the many thousands of dollars of our money and the school counselor could have just talked to him. I thought these things but I was super nice on the phone. I thanked her for everything she was doing and offering. It may help and we do need all the help we can get. I just laugh inside about how little they understand my son. I have a vision of him dancing mental circles around them and eventually running the school.

  I have no idea what to do for consequences for him. I am out of ideas. If you have any thoughts, no matter how far outside the box, let me know. I am completely stumped.