Friday, November 7, 2008

Kim is our gifted child

The other night, while we were having dinner, Kim told us that she had gotten stung by a bee earlier at school. This started a big discussion on who had been stung where by what.

Of course, MY terrible bee sting story involved a wasp (I know...that's not a bee) that flew up my shirt and stung me 5 or 6 times before I got it out of my shirt.

As I told the kids this story, they all sat with alternating looks of fascination and horror. Except Kim...she just stuck with horror. Finally, when she was able to speak, she asked the question that was weighing heavily on her mind.....

" got stung 5 or 6 times?"

"Yes," I replied.

With a very serious expression on her face, she said, "That's awful! Did you die?"


Friday, October 24, 2008

When I Grow Up, I'm Gonna Have a Uterus!

As some of you know, the NBC Nightly News crew came to our house yesterday. They were doing a story on Generations of Hope that focused on the relationship between our family and one of the "grandparents" in the neighborhood.

They decided that they wanted to get a "Norman Rockwell" shot of our huge family sitting around the dinner table. After the prayer and our "Best Part of the Day" routine, they decided they had enough film, so they turned off the cameras and left.


Good thing.

Right afterwards, the conversation took an...ummmm.....interesting turn....

I'm not sure how the conversation started. Maybe we were discussing the birth of my new niece, Abigail. Whatever started it, the conversation ended up being about babies.

I believe that if kids are old enough to ask questions, they are old enough to get honest answers. We always try to answer their questions honestly, without embarrassment, and using proper terms.

I'm glad the cameras were no longer rolling to hear me discussing sperm, eggs, fallopian tubes and the uterus over our meatball stroganoff. I don't think that is what they had in mind when they said they needed a "Norman Rockwell" moment.

However, I must admit that I *almost* wish the cameras were still rolling to get Gabby's next statement on film for posterity....

With a determined look full of wonder and excitement, she exclaimed, "When I grow up, I'm gonna have a uterus!"

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Things I Learned Today

Taking "stay awake" meds too late in the day makes it very hard to fall asleep at night. (Don't worry...they're MINE...prescribed by a doc for the Chronic Human Parvovirus B19.)

Lying awake until 4:00 am makes it VERY hard to drag yourself out of bed the next morning at 7:00.

Completely forgetting to take "stay awake" meds after being awake until 4:00 am enables you to fall asleep just about anywhere and anytime.

Sleeping on newly pierced ears is a bit uncomfortable.

If you wait until you are 38 years old to get your ears pierced, you wonder why you wanted so long.

Conquering your fear of getting your ears pierced at the age of 38 makes you feel brave.

It might be better to feel cautious instead of brave when you decide to go for a new haircut.

Showing the hair stylist a picture of the cut AND color you want does not necessarily make it fool-proof.

When you show the hair stylist a picture of the cut and color you want, you should make sure that she is looking at the CORRECT picture on the page.

When your vision is as bad as mine, you don't notice that you're getting the wrong color and cut until you put your glasses back .. the color and cut are finished.

It is VERY hard to NOT show surprise when you are expecting a brown bob with blonde highlights and instead you get a dark auburn shag with dark brown AND blonde highlights.

I am far too polite in circumstances like above.

When the manager is your hair stylist, there isn't really anyone left to listen to your complaint.

Tomorrow is another day...and hopefully another hair stylist will be on duty when I return to the salon to have my hair color corrected.

When you spent three hours in the chair at the salon, forget to take your stay awake meds, forget to eat, AND get the wrong color and cut, the bed looks very inviting when you see it.

Lying down for "just a few minutes" tends to stretch into several hours.

Sleeping while Mike is at work and six kids are at home is NOT a particularly smart thing to do.

Ben thinks maxipads are big band-aids.

When Ben is sent to his room for stealing his sister's pads, he pees in his old Easter bucket. (To be fair, I DID tell him not to come out of his room. It's just my luck that THAT is the direction he chose to obey.)

Pee in an Easter bucket doesn't really affect me that much anymore.

The fact that pee in an Easter bucket doesn't really affect me anymore is a bit scary.

Even THAT is not as scary as my current shade of hair color!

Good night everybody......

RAD Parenting Gone to the Dogs

We recently got a new dog. Bailey is a six month old Labrador Retriever/Rhodesian Ridgeback mix that we were fortunate enough to find at the Champaign County Humane Society. One look at those amber eyes and we were hooked.

Bailey has been a wonderful source of uninhibited energy and joy. She's a great dog. She's not Sophie....but she's not supposed to be. As a matter of fact, I think I would be hard pressed to find two dogs that were more different.

When we took her to the vet for a check up, the vet told us that although she already weighs 38 pounds, she probably has another 40 or 50 to go before she reaches her full size. That's quite a bit larger than Sophie. She was ten pounds soaking wet.

I decided that some really good training was in order. I borrowed a copy of Be the Pack Leader by Cesar Millan and started reading up on how to get control of your dog. Here are some of the very important lessons I have learned so far:

You have to be in charge. The dog can't be the pack leader. YOU have to be the Alpha.
If the dog senses weakness, it may try to take over. It's not good to be sick or tired when your dog wants to be the pack leader.

You need to maintain YOUR personal territory. If the dog is having an attitude problem, you should not let the dog sleep in your bedroom. (I made this mistake once a long time ago. I woke up with that dog standing over me growling....)

It isn't good to play tug-of-war with a dog who wants to be the Alpha. If the dog wins, you are in trouble! The dog will see you as the weaker animal and will start to fight harder for control. Once the dog knows it is stronger than you, it probably won't back down easily.

Always walk in front of your dog. It's YOUR job to lead the way. The dog is supposed to be subordinate and follow your lead. The dog can walk beside you as long as you are still deciding which direction you are heading. If you slip up and let the dog lead the way, you'll have a hard time getting the dog to follow you again.

Rewarding positive behavior is more important than punishing negative behavior. Dogs are strange creatures. Negative attention is a reward to them. The best thing to do is to ignore the behavior as long as there is no safety risk. (Easier said than done....)

When a dog wants to claim personal territory, it usually pees all over the place. For some reason, even really smart dogs can have problems in this area. Peeing on things is their way of saying, "This is MINE." You basically just have to hope that if you have TWO dogs, they don't get into a peeing competition to see who can spread their scent the farthest.

If you don't supervise your dog at all times, it may destroy lots of stuff. Shoes, remote controls, couch cushions....pretty much anything within reach. You really have to work hard to keep the dog from destroying things that are important to you.

A dog needs to have respect for you. If the dog doesn't respect you, it will NOT obey you. And no one wants a disobedient, wild, uncontrollable dog around for very long. They might look cute, but cuteness wears off after a while.

Now, if you want to know how to parent a RAD kid, simply go back and read these directions again, replacing the word "dog" with "child."

For years, I searched for a good parenting manual for kids with Reactive Attachment Disorder. Little did I know it was available at Petsmart the entire time.....

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Brown Goo

This morning when I woke up Ben, I was surprised and disgusted....well maybe not so surprised, but definitely see brown goo smeared all over the bed sheets and pillow. Ugh. I was thankful for my stuffy nose as I roused him from sleep.

When he rolled over yawning, I was even more disgusted to see the brown goo smeared on his face...and concentrated around his mouth. Oh....surely not! I know he eats some weird things, but come on! Surely not..... Even Ben isn't that "hungry" is he?

Giving him a shake, being careful not to touch the brown goo, I said, "Ben! Ben! Wake up! You need to take a bath and get that stuff off of you!" Groggily, he opened his eyes and looked around at the bed. Suddenly, his eyes flew open and he said something like, "Aaaahyiya!"
He scrunched up in a ball as far away from the brown goo as possible and said, "Mom! What is that?"

I said, "What do you mean? You should know! You're the one who put it there!"

He said, "No, I didn't!"

I thought this was a little weird, considering the fact that it was smeared all over his face. I said, "Benjamin Gottlieb! You get up right now and get this mess cleaned up!"

Ben carefully maneuvered himself around the brown goo and climbed down off the bed. As he stood up, I noticed something sticking to the butt region of his pajamas. I reached over and peeled it off.

A chocolate doughnut wrapper. The remnants of his secret midnight snack.

Thank God.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Ben's Latest Referral

Ben got another referral.

Surprised? I didn't think so. However, the reason for the referral *might* surprise you. It says: "During reading group, Ben told another student, who is white, 'I don't like white people.'"
When Mike and I read this, I looked at Ben and said, "What about us?" Ben's very thought out answer was, "Huh?"

Mike said, "Well, said that you don't like white people. But what about us? Mom and I are white."

Ben said, "I forgot about you."

I said, "You forgot about us? You forgot you had parents?"

"No!" he said, as though this was the silliest thing I could have ever said. "I just forgot what color you were!"

Oh. That explains it.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Skipping School

This morning, Josh seemed a little tired, but otherwise okay as he got ready for school. When it was time for him to leave, Mike and I were upstairs, so he went out the door and yelled back, "Bye Mom! Bye Dad!"

Deep down inside, I knew that was a little weird. Usually, he just sort of grumbles as *I* tell him goodbye. But not today! Today, he was very chipper as he went out the door for school.
A little too chipper, it turns out.

Around 2:30 this afternoon, I decided that I needed to vacuum the living room. I went down into Josh's bedroom (in the basement) to get the vacuum cleaner. Imagine my surprise when I walked down into the basement, turned on the light, and found Josh sitting there on his bed.

I looked at him.

He froze.

It sort of reminded me of when a deer gets caught in your headlights and just doesn't move. Did he think if he sat very, very still, I wouldn't notice that he was sitting on his bed in the middle of the day?!?

I was very proud of myself for remaining calm. Our conversation went sort of like this:

Josh, what are you doing home from school?

Uh...I didn't go to school.

What do you mean you didn't go to school? You left this morning.

Uh...I went out the door, then came around and came in the basement door.


I don't know.

Don't tell me you don't know! WHY ARE YOU HERE?

I just wanted to see what it was like.

See what WHAT was like?


Sitting in your room?

Well....yeah....when I'm supposed to be in school.

It feels just like it does when you stay home any other time!

Not really....

What do you mean, not really?

Well....when you know I'm home, I can talk, have a light on, come to get something to eat, and go to the bathroom. It was kinda boring.

Well, didn't think this one out too well, did you? was kinda spur of the moment. And the adrenaline rush only lasted about five minutes.

Anybody wanna tell me when they grow out of this craziness???

I guess hiding in your bedroom while you're skipping school is a lot better than being out somewhere getting into trouble. Of course, he will be in trouble at school tomorrow when they hear the message I left telling them exactly where Josh was today. LOL. Natural consequences....gotta love 'em.

I have such weird kids.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

The Prodigal Purse Has Returned

The Prodigal Purse has returned.

Although the purse was definitely NOT under my bed earlier....somehow it mysteriously appeared under there a little bit ago. Ben also had the sudden inspiration to look under the bed *again* to see if he missed it earlier.

Unfortunately, the purse has returned too late for us to make it to the movies....and too late for a McDonald's lunch....but at least it made it in time for Ben to be able to go to his friend's birthday party this afternoon.

That darn purse. What was it thinking?

I sure am lucky to have a little boy like Ben to find it for me. What do other mothers do without a Ben to find their Prodigal Purses?

I can't even imagine......

Here Pursey, Pursey....

My purse has disappeared.

It was here yesterday. I gave all of the kiddos their allowance while sitting on my bed. My purse was HERE.

Right after that, Mike took four kids to the camper. They cannot be the guilty parties.

Josh was in his bedroom, didn't even get allowance because he hasn't done any chores, and he wouldn't have taken it anyway. Josh is not the culprit.

Rhiana got her money. Granted, she asked for more money because she was going to Chicago today, but when she was given an opportunity to earn more money, she decided not to take it. Although a few years ago, I would have automatically thought it was her, thankfully, we are beyond that. She is not the culprit.

Maybe Sophie? Hmmm....although she does have an extraordinary sense of fashion for a dog, since the purse is heavier than she is, I'm thinking not....

Baxter? Nah. The only thing he would want to do with the purse is use it for a scratching post.
Paulie? Well, considering he's stuck in his birdcage, it makes it highly unlikely that he would have absconded with it....even if he *could* lift it.

Who does that leave? Let me think.... Thinking.... Thinking....

Well, really, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who is left, does it? Anybody want to say it with me? Benjamin!!!!!!

I refuse to obsess about it at this point. Hopefully, it is somewhere in the house.

So how am I handling this?

Well, I called a friend of mine (with Ben in earshot) and told her what a shame it was that my purse is missing. I pointed out to her how sad it was that without that purse, our plans for the day have to change.

Without the money in that purse, I will not be able to take Ben to the movies today. Awww.....such a shame.

Without the money in that purse, I will not be able to go to the store to buy a birthday present for Ben's friend today. I'll have to call the little boy's mom to let her know why Ben won't be able to be at the birthday party this afternoon. So sad.

Without the money in that purse, lunch at McDonald's is definitely out. Bummer. And I was really looking forward to lunch out with Ben. *sigh*

Man....what a bummer.

You know what we *can* do without a purse?

We can clean the house. We can do laundry. We can sweep, and vacuum, and scrub the toilets.

We can go through Ben's clothes to pull out the ones that are too small now. We can pack up the winter clothes and unpack the summer clothes.

We can make tuna for lunch. I *love* tuna. I don't think Ben is real fond of it though.

Hmmm.....I wonder where that purse could have gotten to? Maybe it's a magical purse and it walked away on it's own? You think?

We shall see how long it takes for the purse to magically appear again. In the meantime, I will enjoy my time here with my wonderful little boy. I would much rather spend the day here at home with Ben anyway.

With the price of gas these days, maybe I have just discovered a new way of saving some money....

Friday, April 25, 2008

Seven Year Old Boys

When seven year old boys don't get boiled eggs when they want them, they get very angry.

When seven year old boys are angry, they take it out on the eggs.

Eggs make a huge mess when seven year old boys smash them onto the metal shelving of a refrigerator.

When eggs are smashed onto the metal shelving of a refrigerator by a seven year old boy, they fall through and make a mess on the bottom of the refrigerator.

If you don't discover these smashed eggs until after the seven year old boy has left for school, they start to get really nasty.

Seven year old boys get suspended from school when they get into fights before school has started.

When seven year old boys get suspended, they get to clean semi-dried egg goop from the bottom of the refrigerator.

Seven year old boys that enjoy smashing eggs do NOT like to clean up semi-dried egg goop.

Seven year old boys who throw temper tantrums because they have to clean semi-dried egg goop are sent to their rooms for naps.

Seven year old boys do not like being sent to their rooms for naps.

Some very unique seven year old boys show their displeasure at being told to take naps by pooping in the cat box.

When seven year old boys poop in a cat box, it stinks badly.

If the seven year old boy poop stinks badly enough, the ten year old family cat will bury the poop.

Although seven year old boys may get some weird satisfaction from pooping in the cat box, they do NOT like scooping the poop.

Mothers of seven year old boys who smash eggs, get suspended for fighting, and poop in cat boxes get gray hair, need naps, and frequently question their own sanity.

Pee Wee Lemonade

Tonight, the boys decided to camp out in Zach's room. I went to tuck them in and they told me that I had to see the new game they created. I stood back and watched as Ben got up and left the room. He started counting.

I thought they were playing some sort of hide and seek. Zach and CJ both dived onto the bed and pulled covers over their heads. When Ben counted to 20, he ran into the room and jumped on the bed and started pulling at the covers yelling, "Who can I find???? Pee Wee Lemonade!!!"

He found Zach. Zach laughed and said that he was "it" now.

I asked, "So are you Pee Wee Lemonade?" He said, "No. That's Ben. I'm Poo Poo Fruit Punch!" CJ said, "And I'm Watermelon Juice!"

Since it was Zach's turn, he left the room and counted to 20 while Ben and CJ hid under the covers on the bed.

I said, "Isn't he going to know you're there?"

They said, "Yeah....he's supposed to!" I was NOT understanding this game.

Zach came running into the room, jumped on the bed, yelling, "Who can I find? Pee Wee Lemonade!!"

Confused, I said, "I thought you were Poo Poo Fruit Punch?" He said, "Yeah...I am."

He found CJ and yelled, "I found you!!! You're it!!"

So, then CJ ran into the hallway, counted to 20, and ran into the room to find Ben or Zach, yelling, "Who can I find? Pee Wee Lemonade!!!"

He found Zach.

Suddenly, the game was over. Ben was yelling, "I won!! I won!!"

I stood there confused. I finally said, "I don't understand. How did Ben win?"

CJ said, "Oh Mom....we know how to play. We made it up!"

Okay....I give up. At least they can keep themselves occupied.....

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Benjamin's Referral

Ben got a referral today. This is nothing unusual. As a matter of fact, he's had a referral every school day for the past 7 or 8 days now. But this referral....well, it was something special. It said:

"Ben told another student he was going to pinch her nipples. When another student asked him what those are, he told him they were 'titties'."

His vocabulary seems to be growing by leaps and bounds. Quite advanced, wouldn't you say?

He's even defining difficult words for other children. I think they should give him a special award for being the vocabulary helper.

I am such a proud, proud mommy.

I know you're jealous. Eat your heart out. He's all mine....

Saturday, April 19, 2008

What If There Was a Flood?

This is an interchange that took place last night while Ben and I were snuggled up watching TV.

"Mom, what if there was a flood?

"Don't worry, Sweetie. We're not going to have a flood."

"But what if there was? Just what if?"

"Then Dad and I would keep you safe."

"But what if I fell in? What if the water got too high and I fell in?"

"Then I would get you out."

"But what if it was like the ocean, and the water was so deep that it didn't stop?"

"Baby, I would still get you out."

"You shouldn't do that 'cause you could get drowned."

"I'd rather drown than for you to drown. I'd still get you out."

Ben seemed to soak this in. He looked so confused. I could see the emotions moving over his face like waves.

"You mean, you care about me more than you care about yourself?"


"But why?"

"Because you're my little boy."

"But you shouldn't do that. You would die."

"I would rather die and let you be okay."

Again, he just seemed to be thinking about this so hard. The waves of emotion were crashing over his little face.

"Nobody loves me that much."

"Dad and I do."

Once again, wave after wave was written across his face.

"I didn't know that. I didn't know you care about me more than yourself."

"Ben, what would you do if you fell in the water?"

"Probably just let myself drown 'cause I didn't think nobody loved me enough to get me out."

"Ben, Dad and I love you enough to get you out. We would get you out or die trying. You are our little boy. I would be so sad if I didn't have you."

"You would?"


"I didn't know that."

Things got quiet for a few minutes. We snuggled up some more. Then he said....

"You really care about me more than you care about yourself?

"Yes, Ben, I do."

"I didn't know anybody could do that."

"Why not?"

"I just didn't. I didn't think anybody loved me that much."

"Well, Dad and I do. We love you that much."

"I just didn't know."

Ben snuggled up against me tighter.

"I'm glad."

"Me, too."

"I love you too, Mom."

"I'm glad."

"Me, too."

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Chicken Soup for the Soul

I was sound asleep having a dream about (what else?) having my blood tested at the hospital. Suddenly, I felt a rather insistent poke. Another poke. Another poke. I opened my eyes. Without my glasses on, I could barely make out CJ standing over me. He said, "Mom, I made you something."

Breakfast in bed? Wow! What a sweet kid! I am a lucky mommy....

I sat up...still no glasses....and reached out to get the bowl of what I expected to be cereal from him.

The bowl was warm.

A bit confused, I peered into the bowl. Again, since I didn't have my glasses on yet, this really was a pointless gesture. I idea what it was... Then it hit me! Oatmeal! He must've made oatmeal!!! Why didn't I think of it before??

So, again without glasses, (and if I'm honest...a little worried) I picked up the spoon, scooped up a big glob, and with a smile on my face, took a big bite of something that was definitely NOT oatmeal.

"Mmmmmmmmm" was all I could manage as I tried not to spit it out. My smile was glued on my face as I chewed something. This is not what I was expecting.

CJ, very pleased with himself, announced, "It's chicken soup! It's my own recipe!" Ah, that explains it...

I was going to ask him what his recipe consisted of when he darted out of the room. I would have stopped him, but I was still chewing. Yes, chewing.

I took a closer look into the bowl. What appeared to be condensed Campbell's Homestyle Chicken Noodle Soup made somewhat of a lump in the bowl. I've heard of chunky soup, but this is ridiculous.....

I stirred it up for a bit better consistency, and had just decided that I *might* need to add a little water, when the door popped open again.

CJ was standing there with another bowl. Oh no.

"This is for Kim," said CJ. Then I remembered that Kim was in bed with us. She wasn't feeling well last night, so slept with us. Hmm....not sure if this was going to make her feel better or not....

"Kim, I made you soup," CJ said. As Kim rolled over, a bit dazed, I couldn't help but wonder how Mike was sleeping through all of this.

Kim sat up and said, "Hmmm?"

I said, "Kim, CJ made you some soup." As I looked at her, I tried to send her telepathic messages to prepare herself for what was coming her way. It didn't work.

CJ handed her the bowl and said proudly, "It's vegetable soup!" Kim raised her eyebrows a bit, but graciously accepted the bowl. My brief thought was "ut oh." Condensed vegetable soup...with no water added.... That can't be good....

Kim, the little trooper, looked up at me for direction. I said, "I'm eating mine...yummmmm...." What else could I say? CJ was standing right there with an expectant look on his face.

Kim picked up the spoon and bravely took a bite. Her response was the same as mine had been. "Mmmmmmm......" CJ smiled a huge smile, turned, and took off out the door.

Kim looked at me and said, "I don't think this is vegetable soup."

I looked into her bowl....still with no glasses....and said, "Huh. You might be right."

I decided at this point that it was time to wake Dad. After all, he was next in line...

Several pokes later, Mike finally roused. He took off his CPAP machine and I said, "Prepare yourself. CJ's making us breakfast in bed."

His naive response was, "Oh, that's nice."

"You think so?"

He looked at me questioningly, just as CJ came into the room.

"Here Daddy! Soup for you!" CJ beamed with pride. I had a flashback to Seinfeld and the episode with the Soup Nazi.

Mike looked at him with that look of confusion that was becoming very popular this morning. Again, I tried to send him a telepathic warning. I could tell by the concerned look on his face that the warning had been received.

CJ stood there, waiting for his Dad to take the first bite. Mike gingerly picked up the spoon, put the "soup" into his mouth and said, the now famous response, "Mmmmmmm." Frozen smile.

CJ beamed. "It's Chicken and Rice!" He came over to my side of the bed and said, "Is it good?"

I said, "Oh yes! It's the best soup I've ever had for breakfast!" Kim nodded in agreement. Mike just sat there with his mouth tightly shut and staring at his bowl.

CJ said, "It was my own recipe. A little soup....a little water...stir it up." I must admit that I was surprised that there was *any* water involved in his "recipe." Then he said, "I got burned. A little bit." I asked him if he was okay.

He said, "Yeah. I cooked yours for ten seconds, Kim's for ten seconds, and then Dad's for ten seconds. Yours and Kim's was warm, but Dad's was hot. It sort of exploded on my foot."

He turned to leave. As he got to the door, he turned and said, "Oh, by the way, we're running low on soup."

CJ left. The three of us sat in bed. Mike looked at me and said, "What is this?"

Kim said, "Mine's supposed to be vegetable soup, but it's not."

I told them both that I believe he opened cans of condensed soup and didn't add the water. Or at least not enough. Kim told us that she thought hers was chicken and rice soup, too. Mike said it was the first soup he'd ever had to chew.

We ate our soup in silence. Well, except for the laughing. And the snickering. We tried to keep it quiet so we didn't hurt CJ's feelings.

Mike said, "My soup isn't hot enough." I looked at him and told him that his soup must've been warmer than ours was....CJ burned himself on Mike's soup. Mike said that he didn't know how. I commented that my soup was slightly warm. Kim very matter-of-factly said, "Mine is cold."

Oh, my. We're the three bears. CJ is Goldilocks. Talk about a twisted nursery rhyme.

Just then, the door opened again. CJ was standing there with a cup.

"I made you something to drink," he said. At first, I was relieved. Something to wash it down with. Then it hit me that he said that he "made" us something. Oh, no.

"What is it, CJ?" I cautiously reached for the cup.

"It's a secret recipe!" Oh no.

I looked into the cup, thinking I really need to put on my glasses. It looked like orange juice. Except maybe a little creamy looking. That can't be good. Milk and orange juice? Surely not. Even CJ isn't *that* special....

I decided to take one for the team. I slowly sipped the drink. The tartness was a bit shocking. Thankfully, I had only sipped.

By now, you all know the proper response. Say it with me: "Mmmmmmm."

I swallowed. I looked at CJ, who was bursting with pride, and asked, "How did you make your secret recipe?"

"It's a secret! Now I'm gonna go get some for Dad." Mike went pale.

When he left, I looked at Kim. I wanted to save her. She's my little girl. Her Dad and I would have to sacrifice ourselves for her.

"Kim, honey....go get ready for church. Hurry." We didn't need to tell her twice. She shot out the door.

I decided that it was time to be sneaky. I grabbed my cup that had contained Crystal Light in it and poured CJ's concoction into that cup. I had barely finished when CJ opened the door carrying....I didn't know what he was carrying.

He said, "I'm gonna make Dad's here so you can see the recipe." Well, at least we'll know what went into it.

He poured half a glass of orange pineapple juice. Safe so far. Then he pulled out the canister of Crystal Light. Ut-oh. He opened it and took out one of the little tubs of powder. We generally mix that little tub up with two quarts of water. CJ, however, poured the entire thing into the eight ounce cup that had about 4 ounces of orange pineapple juice in it. Well, that explained the tartness.

He then said, "Now I'll add some water." He went to the bathroom, added about two ounces of water, and brought it back to Dad.

Dad looked at me as if to say "I love you. Remember me." He took a sip. "Mmmmmmm......" CJ beamed again.

Mike, feeling generous, asked CJ if he wanted some. I thought, oh CJ will realize that he messed up.

CJ looked at Mike with one eyebrow raised. "Are you kidding? You two are my taste testers. I didn't know if that stuff would kill me or not!"

With that, he left the room.

Who needs coffee???? We have CJ.......

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Faithful Warrior Goes on the Offensive

I was sound asleep. Suddenly....

"Mom! Mom! It’s on the counter with red eyes and it’s chomping stuff and it’s looking right at me! Mom!"

My groggy brain tried to figure out what was going on. It was too dark in my room to see anything, plus I wasn’t wearing my glasses, but I recognized the voice as CJ, my self-proclaimed "Faithful Warrior."

"CJ? What?" was my sleepy reply.

"Mom! Seriously, Mom! It’s on the counter!" CJ is practically hopping up and down now. I could hear the panic in his voice.

"CJ....calm down. What are you talking about?" I was starting to wake up just a little bit now. At least I knew I was awake at this point.

"Mooooommmm! That thing is over there. It’s moving around. It looked RIGHT at me!"

"CJ, there’s nothing there." We have had issues like this in the past. CJ hears the wind blowing leaves outside his window and thinks someone is trying to climb in. Or he hears the cat downstairs and thinks someone has broken into the windows... The cat! (I think.) That must be what he saw.

" probably just saw Baxter. Go back to bed, Sweetie."

"No, Mom! It’s NOT Baxter! It was chomping on something!"

"Sweetie...he was probably just eating his food."

"I don’t think so....I’ll go check." CJ very softly tiptoes out of my bedroom. I lay my head back on my pillow and start to doze off into oblivion once again.....


"Mom! It was NOT Baxter! Baxter is sitting on the chair looking out the window and it’s STILL there!"

Yawning, I reach for my glasses. "CJ," I say, "everything is fine. The house is safe. The doors are locked. Nobody can get in."

"Mom! It’s there! It really is! It’s got these red eyes and it’s moving it’s head around, and it’s got a body a human body! It’s sitting on the counter in there where we have the stools. It’s chomping, Mom! Seriously, Mom!"


"Okay.....I’ll check."

At this point, my big, strong husband finally wakes up enough to pull his CPAP machine from his face.

"What?" Mike says. Yeah....I already did that part.

"Go back to sleep, honey. CJ is having one of those nights again. He thinks there’s a monster/human thing on the counter chomping on stuff."

Groggily, Mike said, "Just tell him to climb up in bed here and go to sleep."

"Well, I may have to, but let me figure out what he’s talking about first so he’s not scared." I climb out of bed and follow CJ to the door.

When I walked into the hallway, I can barely make out the shape of CJ standing at the top of the stairs. His body is hidden behind the wall and just his head is peeking around the corner.

"Mom!" he whispers in a panic, "It’s still there! Look!"

I walk over to the top of the stairs expecting to see the light from my iPod station that I left on or something similar. Instead, I am greeted by what appears to be five red eyes in a circular pattern moving around on the dining room counter. I was mystified. Or stupefied.

My intelligent, assuring response to CJ’s panic was one word: "Huh."

CJ looked at me and whispered, "I’m scared."

By this time, common sense had returned. I didn’t know what was making those moving lights on the counter, but I knew it wasn’t a human/monster hybrid. I looked around. Sure enough, there was Baxter sitting on the chair looking out the window.

I turned to CJ and said, "Okay, buddy...I’m going to go see what it is."

"No, Mom! It’ll get you! Can’t you hear it chomping?"

I listened. I was rather confounded by the noise that I heard. I actually did sound a bit like....well....chomping.

"CJ, I don’t know what it is, but I’m SURE it’s not a monster. I’m going to go check."

"Well, I’m going to go get my weapons!" CJ darted for his room before I could stop him.

I walked very cautiously down the stairs. What the heck is that thing?!? I can definitely see how this was freaking out my little Faithful Warrior. I briefly thought about my big Faithful Warrior still asleep with his CPAP machine firmly attached to his face. Isn’t this kind of stuff supposed to be the man’s job?

I tiptoed down the stairs. CJ came to the top of the stairs with his weapon in hand: a plastic sword. Yep...that’ll take care of any human/monster hybrid out there! As long as it’s allergic to plastic....

After what seemed like an eternity, I finally made it down the stairs far enough to reach the light switch to the dining room. Staring at those red eyes....five of them, mind you.....that kept looking up at me, then would turn and look somewhere else, then turn back at me, I flipped the switch.
CJ, the Faithful Warrior, was the first to react. "Huh."

I think I said that earlier.

There, sitting on the counter, was the mylar balloon that my big Faithful Warrior had bought for me a while back as a "Just Because" gift. It was shaped like a heart and says "I love you" on it. Somehow the red shiny ballon was picking up the reflection of the light streaming in the slightly open window. The cold breeze that was blowing in moved the balloon around in such a way that made it appear like the red "eyes" were moving.

Standing there, I realized two things: One, it was VERY cold downstairs thanks to the window that I had forgotten to close earlier. Two, CJ was no longer with me.

"CJ? Where’d you go?" CJ came back to the top of the stairs.

"What Mom?" he said with a yawn.

"CJ, did you see what it is?"

"Yep. It’s a balloon." He laughed. The panic in his voice was gone. "Okay, I’m going back to bed now. Love you, Mom."

"Love you too, CJ."

"Night." CJ hopped off to bed.

I followed him, tucked him in and said, "Thanks for watching out for us, Faithful Warrior."

Sleepily, he replied, "No problem. Good thing I had my weapon."

"Yep. Good thing." I’m pretty sure he was asleep by the time I left his room.

I went back to the bedroom, laughing. Mike had finally gotten out of bed and was returning from the bathroom. If there had been a human/monster hybrid, I’m sure it would have waited patiently for him to return from the bathroom before trying to "chomp" me.

Geez....with warriors like these.....who needs human/monster hybrids?

Monday, March 31, 2008

Just Checking

My little boy Benjamin.

He came home from school today and jumped into my lap for some cuddle time. He gave me big hugs and was just as sweet as can be. I tickled his toes and he laughed beautifully. His smile lit up my bedroom better than the sun shining in my window. He has undergone a huge change in the past ten days. It’s truly amazing.

I’m not kidding myself. I know it might not last. But I’m going to take it while I’ve got it and enjoy every minute of it. Why throw out the good now because of the possibility of a bad some day?

I realized after dinner that we were out of milk, so I decided to go to Walmart to get some since Mike was working late. I took Ben with me and left the other kids with Josh and Rhiana. On the way there, Ben was just chatting away about his day. He told me how he didn’t lose any cards at school. He also said that he was doing really good with his stealing, and he hasn’t stolen anything today.

Then, what he said blew me away.

He said, "But you’d love me anyway, right Mom? Even if I did steal? Even when I’m bad, you love me anyway? Cause I’m your baby, right, Mom? And you’ll always love me no matter what, right?"

I said, "Absolutely, Benny Bob. I’ll love you always and forever, no matter what!"

He said, "And you won’t ever leave me, will you Mom? You’ll always be my Mom, right?"

I said, "You betcha’ Benny Bob. I’m your Mommy, always and forever. I’ll never leave you. You’ll always be my baby."

"Even when I’m big, Mom? Even when I’m a big boy? I’ll still be your baby then?"

"Yep. You’ll still be my baby no matter how big you get. Part of you will always be my baby."
"Okay, Mom," Ben said. "I was just checkin’."

I’m so thankful that he finally trusts me enough to check.

Sunday, March 30, 2008


Okay...see if this makes sense to you....

Ben just came running in from outside shouting, "Mom!!! Mom!!!! Gabby said she’s gonna tell on me! Tell her she can’t tell on me!"

I looked at him, trying to stifle a giggle at the obvious. "Ben," I said, "what is Gabby going to tattle on you for?"

"She said she’s gonna tell on me for riding my bike through her sidewalk chalk. That’s all I did. Just rode my bike through her sidewalk chalk! And she said she’s gonna tell. I told her we’re not supposed to tattle!"


I sighed. "Well, Ben...maybe if you don’t ride your bike through her sidewalk chalk, she won’t be able to tattle."

Ben strained to understand this logic, then said, "Well, but you said we’re not supposed to tattle. So can I tell her not to tattle?"

"Sure, Ben. Tell her she doesn’t need to tattle because you already tattled on yourself. Now keep your bike off of her sidewalk chalk."

"Thanks, Mom!" Ben runs for the door, yelling, "Gabbby, I told Mom you were gonna tattle....and I was right....we’re not supposed to tattle!!!"

Ironic, isn’t it?

The Carnivoy is Gonna Get Me!

Ben was taking a bath. Suddenly, I heard him yell, "Mom! Mom! Come quick!"

Luckily, I wasn’t far away, so I ran to the bathroom very quickly. I saw Ben, standing naked in the tub, soapy bubbles all over him from head to toe. Baxter, our cat, was standing up on his hind legs, one front paw up on the edge of the tub, the other paw reaching out to Benjamin’ know.

Benjamin backed up as far as he could, and kept putting his scrubby down in front of know.....trying to keep Baxter from swatting it. I tried hard not to laugh.

Stifling a laugh, I said, "What’s wrong, Ben?"

He said, "Mom, the carnivoy is trying to get me!"


Confused, I said, "What’s trying to get you, Ben?"

Again, he said, "The carnivoy is trying to get me!"

I asked, "Baxter? Do you mean Baxter?"

He said, "Yeah! Baxter is a carnivoy! Our teacher said cats are carnivoys and they eat meat!"

Laughing, I said, "You mean carnivore?"

"Yeah," he replied, "A carnivore! Baxter is a carnivore and he’s gonna get me!"

Baxter once again reached for Ben’ know.....and swatted.

"Ahhhhhh!!!" Ben yelled. I went into the bathroom, picked up the wild carnivore and put him in the hallway. Relieved, Ben sat down.

"Thanks!" he said. "I thought that carnivoy was going to eat my meat for sure!"

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Faith Warrior CJ

Tonight, CJ was in rare form. Although he might possibly have two broken fingers, this has done little to squelch his excitement at having a splint and a sling.

This evening, CJ walked up to Mike and said, "Dad, you’re a faithful warrior. Just like me. I’m a faithful warrior, too."

Mike looked up from his computer and said, "I am, huh?"

CJ said, "Yep. A faithful warrior needs help sometimes. Help and rest. Just like me."

Mike just sort of looked at him like he was trying to figure this comment out. I was also trying to figure this comment out.

CJ then said, "Yep. I’m a faithful warrior. No, a man! A faithful man! A man needs help and rest. Just like me. Oh, well, I think I’ll go to bed. I’m a faithful man that needs help and rest."


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Son or Pet? You Decide.

*Our cat pulls out his hair. So does our son.
*Our dog loves doggie treats. So does our son.
*Birds like to steal shiny objects. So does our son.
*Our cat uses a litter box. So does our son.
*Our dog runs off if we’re not looking. So does our son.
*Our bird likes to chatter incessantly. So does our son.
*Our cat likes to eat bugs. So does our son.
*Dogs like to chew on things. So does our son.
*Male dogs sometimes pee on people. So does our son.
*Birds put everything in their mouth. So does our son.
*Cats scratch when they are angry. So does our son.
*Cats jump over gates and climb on furniture. So does our son.
*Viscious dogs scare people. So does our son.
*Nice dogs like to lick you. So does our son.
*Cats like to rub their face on you. So does our son.
*Our bird tends to scatter his food everywhere. So does our son.
*Dogs sometimes pee on the carpet. So does our son.
*Some dogs bite. So does our son.
*Dogs growl. So does our son.
*Cats meow. So does our son.
*Our dog likes to hump our cat. So does our.....I think I’ll stop now.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Reparenting Ben

Well, back to the drawing board.

Most of my blogs are funny....this one is not one of those. So, if you’re looking for a might want to skip this one. If you’re looking for bare emotion.....this is the blog for you.

Why is it that as soon as you feel like you’re making progress with a RAD kid, you slide backward without warning? For whatever reason, that’s what has happened with Ben.

I think there must be something that triggered all of this. If we could figure out the trigger, I think we’d be able to get past it. Who knows how long that will take?

It’s so easy to get mad and just blame the kid when things like this happens. I mean, come on....what 7 year old pees in his closet? I know that Ben makes choices. However, I don’t think that Ben is in control of those choices. I don’t believe he chooses to live this way. Why would anyone choose to do that?

I can’t imagine how terrible he must feel inside his little head. What is it in his past that makes him want to pull out his hair, pee everywhere, and steal constantly? What is it that makes him hate himself so much? Why is it that he feels so unworthy of love that he can’t allow the little boy inside to be comforted?

So, we’re going back to square one. Ben told me last week that he wanted to be a baby again. Silly me....I should’ve listened to him right then and there. But I didn’t. Bad Mommy. So, what did he do? He showed me he wants to be a baby again by peeing in his room. That’s okay. I can handle a little bit of pee!

So, today, we went shopping.

We bought an octagonal shaped play yard to be Ben’s playpen. He loved it! When we were in the baby section looking for that, he saw baby toys and went wild! He wanted teething rings, rattles, little stuffed animals with chewable hands, and musical toys that toddlers usually love. He wanted baby wipes and diapers. He wanted baby cereal and toddler biter biscuits. And he wanted a little seahorse that lights up and plays lullabies.

What monsters haunt his dreams? What terrors reside in the recesses of his little mind? What memories make him feel so insecure that he feels like he must rely on himself alone? I can’t even imagine. But I do know one thing: if a little seahorse that lights up and plays soothing lullabies makes my baby boy feel calmer, safer, and comforted....well, it’s worth it to me. If holding my 7 year old baby in my lap and cuddling with him and talking baby talk to him makes him feel protected, then why wouldn’t I do that? If he needs a baby bottle to feel like his tummy will finally be filled, how can I not provide that for him?

I know this is unconventional. Those of you who read this who aren’t familiar with Reactive Attachment Disorder are probably thinking that I’m nuts. Maybe I am. But right now, I’m fighting for my baby boy’s life. I’m fighting for his future. I’m fighting for his self-worth. I’m fighting for HIM.

Some battles are waged with guns and bombs. Some are waged with fists. Some are waged with shouts and angry words. And some battles are waged with hugs, kisses, baby bottles, teething rings, and stuffed seahorses.

So, I’ll pick up my chosen weapons of war and ride into battle on a little blue seahorse that glows and softly plays a Pacobel tune.

After all, my Benjamin is worth fighting for.

your life your blog

School Communication Problem

Shouldn’t schools let you know if your 7 year old is suspended from school? You’d think so!!

We sent Ben to school this morning, only to get a phone call telling us that he got suspended yesterday for stabbing someone in the arm with a pencil. Luckily, the other kid had on a jacket and wasn’t injured. The lady who called seemed quite shocked that Ben had not voluntarily given us the form showing that he was suspended!

Is she new? Does she not know my son at all?!?

LOLOLOL...... Laugh or cry? Again, I choose laughter.

Off to go spend some quality time with my little warrior.....

The Weirdest Call From The School Nurse Ever



Hello. May I speak with Mrs. Gottlieb?

This is she.

Hi. This is the school nurse at Ben’s school. Is this a good time?

Oh, sure. How can I help you?

Well, Ben was in the office today, and I noticed that he has a large bald patch on the side of his head. Are you aware of this, Mrs. Gottlieb?

Why, yes, I am. It would be hard to miss, don’t you think?

Well, that’s true, Mrs. Gottlieb. However, I wanted to call to discuss this with you, as this is a very serious issue.

Well, thank you for taking the time to call me. I assure you, we are working on this problem.

Mrs. Gottlieb, I wanted to let you know that this is called trichotillomania. This is a medical condition that drives people to pull out their hair.

Yes, ma’am. I am aware of the condition seeing as how my son has it.

Okay. Well, I just wanted to make sure that you knew he has a bald spot. Also, I noticed he was actually eating his hair. This is also a symptom of trichotillomania.

Yes, ma’am. We are aware of the fact that Ben eats his hair after he pulls it out. He also likes to nibble on the skin from his fingers and toes.

Oh, my. His toes? I saw him picking at his fingers. Trichotillomania sufferers often pick at their skin, as well.

Yes, I know. It is apparently all tied up with his OCD.

Well, I did want to let you know that I sent some information to his regular classroom teacher, his PE teacher, and his music teacher about trichotillomania. I explained to them that this is a medical condition and not something he is doing to be stubborn, or to be a distraction in the classroom.

Thank you. I appreciate that. Yes, it is irritating when children get so stubborn that they pull their own hair out and eat it, isn’t it? It’s a good thing they won’t think Ben is just being stubborn.

I thought so. I wouldn’t want him to get into trouble for eating his hair in class.

Yes, that would be a shame.

Yes. I thought so. So anyway, like I said, I just wanted to make sure that you know that Ben has been pulling his hair out and eating it. Okay....have a great day!

You too. Thanks again for calling.


Help Wanted: Professional De-Urinator

Help Wanted: Professional De-Urinator
Mother of seven seeking a full-time pee cleaner upper. Must be willing to clean up pee at a moment’s notice. Pee may come from aging dog or seven year old boy. Most often, it’s the seven year old boy. The pee may be in a variety of places, some of which may require that you be able to flex your body in very unnatural ways to reach it. Reaching this pee may require that you be able to climb ladders or crawl on your tummy, as the seven year old boy seems to have made it his goal in life to apply pee in very unsual, and hard-to-reach places. This job requires that you own your own rubber gloves, and it is suggested that you obtain full haz-mat gear, including splash guards. These are particularly useful when opening ice cream tubs that have been filled with pee. Having no sense of smell makes this job much more enjoyable, but having an excellent sense of smell makes the search and deodorize missions far more successful. Responsibilities include: searching for pee, soaking up pee, wiping up pee, squeegying pee, deodorizing items that were peed on, laundering items that were peed on, and sometimes sniffing possible pee to determine if it is, in fact, pee. If you are a person who sees value in making the world smell better AND you have an almost non-existent gag reflex, this just could be the job for you! Salary commiserate with experience. Reference letters required. Excellent opportunities for advancement, seeing as how sometimes the seven year old boy likes to poop, too.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Things I Learned Before Breakfast

*Teenagers who are given the chance to make their own decision frequently make the wrong one.

*Buying your daughter a new pair of "dream shoes" is an excellent reward for keeping her room consistently clean for two weeks.

*When you try to hide surprise "dream shoes" in the closet, you will find out WHY her room has APPEARED so clean for two weeks.

*Nine year old girls cry and wail very loudly when they lose their "dream shoes" because they have piled dirty laundry and clean clothes together in the floor of their closet.

*Rolling a lint roller over your African American son’s hair as a joke, actually does help get the lint out.

*Eleven year old boys sometimes like to make their own breakfast.

*Eleven year old boys don’t always read directions when making their own breakfast.

*Pre-made sausage patties need to be microwaved BEFORE putting them on a biscuit....even if the biscuit is already hot.

*Eleven year old boys that bite into a frozen sausage patty will most likely spit it back out.

*If you charge your children $1 for each lie they tell, you can earn quite a bit of money from eleven year old boys in a fairly short amount of time.

*Even wonderful husbands that bring you flowers sometimes put trash bags in the floor instead of taking them straight out to the dumpster.

*Cats like to tear into trash bags that have old pork chops inside.

*Dogs like cats that tear into trash bags that have old pork chops inside.

*Pork chops bones are very sharp when you step on them with bare feet.

*Old, apparently incontinent dogs sometimes pee in the floor EVEN after they have been let out twice AND walked in the past hour.

*Although dog pee is warm when it comes out, it is shockingly cold when stepped in shortly thereafter.

*Without laboratory testing, there is virtually no way to tell if a puddle of pee belongs to the dog or your 7 year old son.

*Deciding it belongs to the dog, while possibly a false assumption, is sometimes the only way to protect your sanity.

*Spraying lavendar vanilla air freshener in a living room that smells like pee makes the living room smell like lavendar vanilla pee.

*Lavendar vanilla pee is not a scent that I find appealing.

*It is very tempting to go back to bed when your living room smells like lavendar vanilla pee.

*I have very little will power, and therefore, give in to temptation quite often. Sweet dreams to me....

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Paradoxical Situations

If a child is old enough to say in very clear English, "Go back upstairs! I have to change my Pamper!"shouldn't he be too old for Pampers?

If a child understands that others shouldn't see him while changing his Pamper, shouldn't he also understand that pulling down his underwear in public is not okay?

If a child steals a toy from his sister, shouldn't he know better than to tattle on his brother for stealing the stolen toy from him?

If a child pulls his hair out of his head in the winter, shouldn't that child expect his hairless head to be cold when it is freezing outside?

If a kid peels the skin off of his fingers and toes, shouldn't he expect them to hurt and bleed?

If a child picks up chewed gum off of the ground, shouldn't he expect it to include a little bit of dirt and gravel?

If a child pours milk into his vegetable soup, shouldn't he expect it to be "milky"?

If a child pours red kool-aid into his cereal, shouldn't he expect it to be pink?

If a child pees in his toy box, shouldn't he expect his toys to be wet?

If a child pulls the cat's tail, shouldn't he expect to be scratched?

If a child poops in his underwear, shouldn't he expect it to be "squishy"?

If a child puts his finger in a pill splitter and pushes it down, shouldn't he expect it to cut him?

If a child uses his CD to scratch up his brother's skateboard, shouldn't he also expect it to scratch up his CD?

If a child throws his dirty socks in the trash, shouldn't he expect to run out of socks?

And most of all, if a child hates himself, shouldn't he still expect to be loved?

Busy Brain In the Wee Hours of the Morning

Why is it that I get so tired during the day....sometimes for days on end....but when I get in the bed the least bit early, I wake up at 3:00 am??? Whatever it is that causes it, that is where I am. Awake. Wide awake. No hopes of going back to sleep. At least not until it's time for the kids to wake up. LOL.

While suffering from insomnia, I took some time to revisit an online RAD support group that I have belonged to for years and years. I remember when I joined that group. I was desperate. I didn't know what the heck was going on with my daughter, and I needed help. Unfortunately for me, life became even more hectic and all-consuming, and I sort of forgot that I was even part of this list. When I revisited the site and read some of the emails from "RAD newbies," I can't help but remember the stress of those early years. Thank God for the progress we have made.

Don't get me wrong. We still have plenty of evident by my "Actual things said in the Gottlieb house..." blog. LOL. Or any Benjamin Blog you choose. We definitely have plenty of moments where I wonder if it will ever get better. However, things have changed in such fundamental ways. Yes, most of my kids have changed. They have made progress....more progress than I thought was possible, honestly. The real eye opener, however, came when one of the cries for help on that list reminded me of how *I* have changed.

Thank God for the wisdom of Nancy Thomas and Deborah Hage. Thank God for "99 Ways to Drive Your Children Sane." It should be called "99 Ways to Keep Your Sanity When You Feel Like the Whole World is Crazy."

Dealing with RAD can suck the fun right out of a home. The RAD children make life so difficult that you have the urge to build an inpenetrable fortress. A wall around you to keep the pain out. At first, the pain is almost too much to bear. It keeps coming at you and coming at you. You question yourself: What did I do? I wanted to help this child....instead, I'm hurting my entire family. You beat yourself up because you can't "fix" it. Moms are supposed to be able to fix it, right?

And then, for me, that pain became resentment. Oh, how I resented my daughter! How I wished that I could go back in time and NOT do it. I just wanted it to be over. I could not imagine my life being like this from now on. I started to turn off my emotions. I just decided I wasn't going to let her hurt me anymore. Or at least I was going to pretend that she didn't hurt me. By sheer accident, I found something that actually started to work! LOL. When I didn't show that she hurt me, she didn't get what she wanted. I didn't give her the reward she was looking for.

Out of desperation, I started searching and searching and searching....and found Nancy Thomas. I thought....what? This woman is nuts! This stuff isn't going to work!

So I went on about my own way....trying to do it the way I *knew* I was supposed to do it. This knowledge was, of course, based on years of college and teaching experience and parenting. Ha! Guess what people! You can't take "normal" parenting strategies and expect it to work on RAD kids!

Finally, when I reached rock bottom, I was so desperate that I decided to try Nancy Thomas' way of doing things. To my surprise, it worked! Then the next idea worked! And the next... Now, I'm not saying that everything worked. Of course not. Not every idea works with every kid. You have to tweak it. Sometimes you have to fly by the seat of your pants. You have to be creative.

That is where everything changed for me. It was a subtle change...but very real. Instead of seeing this as a battle that had to be fought, I started to view it as a challenge that I was choosing to take on. I started to force myself to think of it as a game. A back and forth of mental prowess.

No one is so shocked as I am that my biggest mental foe turned out to be a 9 year old girl. LOL. Doesn't say a lot about my brain power, now does it? When it came to parenting this child, the degree that I spent tens of thousands of dollars earning.....and will be paying for from now on....was worth nothing more than the piece of paper it was written on. However, a paperback book that cost me $13 changed my life. If you are a RAD parent, and you don't have "When Love Is Not Enough," what are you waiting for?!? Go order it now! LOL.

So what changed? It's simple. I decided to start putting fun back into my family again. If my daughter wanted chaos, then by golly, she was gonna get chaos! But it was going to be chaos that I chose. I was going to be in charge of the chaos.

My theory is that RAD kids crave adrenaline. Normal feels scary to them. Scary feels good. It's a paradoxical situation, to be sure. So how do you combat this? You get silly. You wear weird hats. You moo like a cow. You throw pancakes across the table like a frisbee. You find joy and hang onto it with all of your might. And if you are so deep in the mire that you can't find joy, you fake it. Seriously.

Mike and I are terrible at fighting. Really. On March 15th, we'll have been married for 12 years. You know what our secret is? We can't have a darn argument without laughing. I think, in part, it's because Mike is just this big ol' teddy bear kinda guy....and although he can get cranky and take on his "umpire" persona, for the most part, he's just a big ol' kid. When I get mad at him, which I frequently do, and start grumping at him....he usually says or does something that inevitably makes me want to laugh. Oh, I fight it. I try to hold it back. I even get mad at him for making me want to laugh when I'm mad. But usually, the urge to laugh is far more powerful than the urge to be mad.

One day it hit me...why not use this on my kids? So I started doing anything I could do to short-circuit their attempts to make me miserable by doing everything in my power to make them laugh. Obviously, there are times that you have to be serious. You can't laugh off animal cruelty, for example. But you would be AMAZED at what you can choose to laugh off.
Pooping in a bucket? It's hard to laugh when you discover it in your kid's bedroom...but you gotta's funny. Peeing on a classmate? Well, I'm sure you are grinning a little bit right now at the very idea of that one!

I'm not saying you can laugh at everything, but come on, in order to parent these kind of kids, you absolutely have to be able to NOT take yourself too seriously. You have to be willing to look like a fool in public. If you're not, you might as well hang up your keys because you're not going anywhere for a very long time.

For me, the secret was to not allow my children to know that I was embarrassed. Is it embarrassing to have an 11 year old pee on herself in public? You bet. However, ask yourself: Who owns the embarrassment? It shouldn't be you. If you are owning the embarrassment, you need to return that gift to the generous person that gave it to you in the first place: your kid!
If anyone is still with me on this long, winding road, I leave you with this bit of wisdom. LOL.

Laugh. Laugh whenever you can. Smile if you don't feel like laughing. Pretend you are holding back a laugh. Practice saying things like, "Oh, you are so silly!" in the mirror so that you can repeat it convincingly to your child.

Put Jolly Ranchers in your socks and when things look like they are going to blow, drop to the floor and claw at your feet, screaming, "Oh, my feet! My feet! Something's in my sock!" If the kid won't come to your aid, pull your sock off by yourself. Picture a pinata bursting. Candy flying everywhere. Even the most hard nosed kid in the world is gonna want a piece of that candy!

Kid picking a fight? Before you turn around to look at him/her, pull the wad of gum out of your mouth and stick it on your nose. You'll feel stupid, but you'll look even more ridiculous! That kid is gonna at least be confounded for a few seconds...even if they don't laugh outright.

Short-circuit the anger. Do things to add chaos to your life.....but chaos that you control. Organized chaos. Planned chaos. Don't be afraid to be silly. It might seem hard at first....especially if you have been living in a state of doom and gloom for a while, but it will get easier.

Anger is like a comma. When in doubt, leave it out.

When in doubt....laugh.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Actual Things Heard in the Gottlieb Household

* dipped in BBQ sauce is good!
*That's not a cookie! It's a dog biscuit!
*Mom, he's eating boogers again!
*No, you may not bite my toenails. I'll use the clippers. Thanks anyway.
*Benjamin! Stop licking my toe! Mom, he's doing it again!
*CJ, that's AIR freshener, not hair freshener!
*I think I'm just gonna pee in the toilet from now on...
*No Gabby! The dog doesn't like it when you stick a pencil there!
*Mom, why is there kool-aid in the bathtub?
*Zach...Kim is right. You are not supposed to swallow the mouthwash!
*Gabby, did you drink the sea monkeys?
*Kim, your pants are on backwards....again.
*Ben...why is there pee in your toybox?
*Mom....CJ forgot to put on pants.
*Honey, I found the smell.... *gag*
*Is that an ice cream bucket full of poop?!?
*I'm done with my snack. I'm gonna go puke now.
*Rhiana, no more puking at the dinner table!
*Ben, honey....the cat can lick himself.
*CJ, those aren't shorts! Your waist is through the neck hole!
*Urine fumes are corrosive to CD players, you know.
*Don't let her eat the cat litter!!
*Benjamin, why don't you pull your hair out before you come to the table?
*Why are you wearing 16 pairs of socks?!?
*CJ, you can't glue hair to your arm pits! It'll grow in on it's own.
*No, can't pull out all of your teeth to get more money from the Tooth Fairy!
*Ewwwww....what did I just step in?!?
*Honey, Ben peed from the top bunk again! Everything's soaked!
*Oh no! That was his nighttime meds! *sigh* I'll write another note to the teacher.....
*Benjamin! They don't need to see your penis anymore!
*Mom, I forgot to wear underwear to school today, but don't worry--I didn't get on the monkey bars! (Said by my daughter while wearing a skirt!)
*No...deodorant doesn't go on your face.
*I know it says moisturizing soap, but you can't use it for lotion!
*You put what in your hair?!?
*No, you can't have a bowl of butter for a snack!
*At least he made it 30 minutes before being suspended today!
*Ben, you can't pee on people that make you angry. It's upsetting to your classmates.
*No, Ben! The doctor won't give you another shot just so you'll be even! You'll just have to deal with it!
*Gabrielle! Why are you outside naked?!?
*CJ, you cannot stuff seven big marshmallows in your mouth at once! Well....would you look at that...
*I don't know how that got in my underwear!
*It's just a little pee. Can't I wash it? It still tastes good!
*Ben! Stop chewing gum that you find on the ground!
*Yes, Josh, I know. I need a vacation, too.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

And Now For a Change of Pace...

Mike is really getting into blogging. Or at least he's trying to get into blogging. His computer seems to have other ideas.

This is a typical night in the Gottlieb household, after the children have gone to bed. Mike enters the bedroom....

Mike: "What'cha doin'?"
Kristie: "Blogging."
Mike: "OK. I'm going to, too."

Minutes pass. The sound of clicking keys is all that can be heard. Until...

Mike: "Daggum it!"
Kristie: "What baby?"
Mike: "Stupid thing. It don't like me."
Kristie: "I'm sorry Sweetie....what's it's doing now?"
Mike: "It won't let me download a picture to myspace!"
Kristie: "Let me see.....Oh, here's the problem. You have to pick a picture first."
Mike: "Oh."

Silence resumes. Clicking keys.

Mike: "Crap!"
Kristie: "What is it Sweetie?"
Mike: "Stupid thing."
Kristie: "What honey?"
Mike: "It won't turn the words the right color...."
Kristie: "Let me have to highlight the words before you choose a color. There you go...."
Mike: "Oh."

Silence again. Clicking keys.

Mike: "Ah...this sucks!"
Kristie: "What is it Pookie Bear?"
Mike: "Stupid computer."
Kristie: "Bad computer. What is it doing now?"
Mike: "It's froze. Stupid thing is stuck."
Kristie: "Let me see....Oh...okay.... have to wait until the little hour glass thingie has stopped flipping over and over....See? Now it's moving."
Mike: "Oh."

Silence resumes. Clicking keys.

Mike: "Well, that just freaking sucks!"
Kristie: "What's wrong baby?"
Mike: "I spend all that time trying to write a blog and it just disappears on me! I hate this. I quit!"
Kristie: "I'm sorry baby."

Mike gets up.

Kristie: "Where are you going?"
Mike: "To the bathroom. I need to practice taking the toilet paper off the roll and wiping my butt." (This is his sarcastic way of letting me know that he doesn't know how to do ANYTHING.)

Silence resumes...until he comes back in the room. Apparently, he has gotten his "anger" out of his system. He is smiling again.

Kristie: "How was practice?"
Mike: "It wasn't as hard as I thought."
Kristie: "Well, that's good."
Mike: "Don't you write about this in your blog. It's going in mine."

Oops. Too late.
Mike wiggles his fingers in the air like a magician getting ready to perform his best trick of the night.

Mike: "Just sit back and be amazed!"

Well, I am amazed...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Letter to the Teacher

Dear Ms. C:

Good morning! I hope this day finds you energetic. If this morning is any indication, you will need every drop of energy available to deal with darling Benny Bob today. He is bouncing off the walls this morning. I'm not sure the walls will survive if he doesn't leave for school soon!

You will notice that Ben has a sling on today. No, he did not injure himself while doing the wall bounces! The sling is not for an injury at all. This is what I am tentatively calling our "Benjamin Anti-theft Device," or BAD for short.

The BAD came about in a moment of inspiration when we were discussing with Benjamin the possible consequences of stealing. This led to a discussion of historical proportions in which someone mentioned that in some countries, the punishment for stealing is to have the offending hand amputated.

Since I am fairly sure that amputation is not a feasible option at this time, we decided to try to simulate amputation by putting his arm in the experimental BAD. In the interest of schoolwork, we have chosen to provide young Benjamin with this valuable lesson by putting his left arm in the BAD instead of the more historically accurate "offending" arm.

I have taken great care to sew this BAD so that, hopefully, he will not be able to use it as a pocket for hiding his "loot," as I am fairly sure that this would defeat the purpose entirely and nullify the experiment.

I think the BAD might also have the side-effect of making it difficult for our little monkey to climb the bathroom stalls. However, as testing has not been completed in this area, that hope might be prematurely optimistic.

We did run some rudimentary tests with the BAD last night. Various sibling volunteers left their iPods and Gameboys around to see if they could be stolen and kept undetected with only one hand. Although we need further research to duplicate these findings, I am pleased to report that the BAD was effective in theft prevention.

I am, of course, aware that the BAD could become a distraction in the classroom. If this occurs, please feel free to remove the BAD from the classroom and send it to the office.
He can even carry his sling with him.

Yours truly,

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

I Fear We Have Met Our Match


It's a word that strikes terror into the hearts of countless teachers, children, and senior citizens who live around us. But not us. *We* are smarter than all of these silly people who can't handle one little child. Come on! He's 7 years old. What is wrong with these people? What schmuck can't handle a 7 year old little boy?!?

I mean...just because a kid eats boogers, hair, dog treats, and other unmentionable items...just because a kid finds a piece of used chewing gum on the floor of Walmart and pops it in his mouth....what's wrong with that? Some people might call that strange. I say he's frugal and has a very varied diet. Who knows what nutrients we are missing out on by NOT eating boogers and hair? Why...if I could get all of my kids to do that, I could virtually stop buying snacks! And you KNOW those dog treats have to be says so right on the can. Plus they freshen his breath for when he gives those doggy kisses. The dog really seems to enjoy the affection.

And the ever-changing aromas that waft from this child's body is an absolute delight to the senses. Where else can you get a mixture of urine, baby lotion, bubble gum (stolen from his sister), axe spray (stolen from his brother), and the occasional hint of poop? We should market that fragrance and sell it for $50 a bottle. We could call it "Eau de Benji." I bet it would be a hit in Paris.

And he is so considerate of others. At 7 years old, he already voluntarily uses deodorant. Granted, the deodorant is stolen from the medicine cabinet....but that's not such a big deal, is it? You know how some kids barely put any deodorant on? Not our little Benny Bob! That boy smears deodorant on from head to toe. It actually makes him slippery to the touch! Hmmm...I wonder if that's the idea? It makes it harder to catch him when he's making his fast getaway.

And my little angel is *so* creative! Why just this morning, he told me that he left his homework folder at school. Then he told his teacher he left it at home! Isn't that amazing how he can think on his feet so quickly? I am such a proud mother!

I will admit that the stares of adoring fans are somewhat bothersome when we go out. I just hope the paparazzi don't find out where we live! Obviously, he is easily recognizable.... He's so fashion forward! For example, last year when he wore the suspenders for three months because those darn pants of his just kept falling off of his body during Kindergarten. Geez...what is the problem with those pants?! Sometimes, they even managed to drag his underwear right down with them! It was purely coincidental that these incidents occurred when he was mad at someone.

Oh, and his hair! He always knows exactly which hairs to pluck to create that perfect circular bald spot on the side of his head. And I really admire the way he rubs hair lotion onto the bald spot so that his skin shines. It really brightens up my day.

Yes, our Benjamin adds so much to our lives. I could go on and on and on....

What's that you say?

Why are you laughing?

You say that's not normal?

Whatever do you mean?

Our Ben? Abnormal?



Sunday, March 2, 2008

Benjamin's Favorite Snacks

Ben is pulling his hair out again.

He has this huge bald spot over his left ear. I know this sounds alarming, but honestly, we got over the alarm part a while back. Now, we just sort of look at him and say, "Oh, another bald spot." He is truly a weird kid.

Today at dinner, we were having chicken nuggets. He reached up, yanked out a piece of hair, popped it in his mouth, and said, "Yum." No kidding. He may have even dipped it in BBQ sauce.

Yesterday, we were watching TV when Kim yelled out, "Oooo...stop that! Gross!" I looked over to see Ben pulling boogers out of his nose and eating them. I said, "Ben! Don't do that! Go spit that out!" He looked at me with innocent eyes, and said, "Too late." Popcorn? Ben don't need no stinkin' popcorn! Popcorn is for wimps!

Tonight, when he went to bed, I went to tuck him in. He was obviously chewing on something. The interchange went something like this:

Ben, what is in your mouth?
Ben, don't lie. I know you have something in your mouth. What are you eating?
Benjamin! What are you chewing on?
"It's just skin."
"Skin. From my toes."
"Don't worry, Mom. It's just meat."

Like I said, he is a REALLY weird kid. Look on the bright side: We'll save a fortune on the grocery bill.

Of course, now I'm wondering what was in that snack mix he made for me at school last week...