* Quick update

I had hoped to find time to blog this weekend so I could at least let everyone know that I'm out of town all this week on business, and my Internet access will be limited. I don't plan on blogging much, if at all. I'll catch up when I get back.

But first I'll sneak in a quick update: Overall this weekend went well. It was my first chance to really observe Hercules on the meds for a full day, and the results are mixed. I didn't see any real dramatic changes overall. He seemed as prone as ever to frustration and defiance, although he was less likely to take it to the next step: aggression. This is certainly an improvement and I think it relates to his impulse control abilities. I'm realizing that even a medicated Hercules is still Hercules (this is good!) so he's not going to morph into an angelic, passive little yes-man all of a sudden. He's still a willful little warrior! But a little impulse control goes a long way.

We played a lot of Monopoly this weekend (one of Pa's birthday presents), and Hercules happily played several games, some of which lasted for hours, both with the other kids and with just me. He loves Monopoly! I was impressed by how long he focused on the game (even after other kids lost interest), and how well he cooperated and followed the rules.

Best of all, there are still no signs of any side effects whatsoever. This pleases me the most. Here's to hoping that Pa and Hercules get along fine without me this week:)

* Hurray for Hercules!

Tonight we are having a sleepover, in celebration of Herc’s best week in school EVER! His stepbrother is here along with the 2 boys from down the street, CJ & DJ. They ate pizza, rode bikes, played hide and seek, and are now watching “Zathura.”

Hercules received his first ever “excellent” ratings on his weekly report, with some “goods” and not a single “fair” (what he normally gets). Miracles can happen!

Tonight, however, it was obvious that the meds had worn off and Hercules has had a terrible attitude with both Pa and I. At least he’s been playing nicely with the other kids. I can handle some attitude if he’s pulling through all day at school. I’ll take what I can get.

Life is good:)

* Wanna know a secret?

Hercules beat our friend J at chess a little while back! I almost forgot to brag about it, and today J was checking to make sure I hadn't told anybody. So of course I'm blogging it:)

Sorry J, but it's a mother's prerogative to brag about her kids. Take comfort in the knowledge that very few of my readers know who you are.

* Concerta: Day One

Stellar! We couldn't have asked for a better start. I spoke with Mrs. B when I arrived at school to pick up Hercules, and she gave me rave reviews: Hercules sat quietly with the other kids during group time. Hercules read a book quietly by himself for a full half hour - a book that is well above his reading level. Needless to say, these are both firsts for Hercules. She is nominating him and his new best friend (an endearing boy with a very similar personality who used to be his worst enemy) for the Most Improved Student award this month. In fact, Mrs. B said she thinks that Hercules may be a good influence on the other boy. Whoa.

My Hercules? A good influence? A teacher just said that my Hercules would be a good influence on another child?? Surely I must be dreaming.

I can't tell you how exciting this is for me. I never, ever thought my little warrior would be nominated for any awards in school. Quite the contrary, I've been living in fear of imminent expulsion ever since he started Kindergarten. This is the best news I've ever heard.

AND no sign of any side effects whatsoever so far. He's eating and sleeping like normal, and no complaints of headaches or stomachaches or anything. No moodiness or psychosis or heart failure! Thank goodness!

So although I'm trying not to get overly excited after just one day of feedback, I feel like I just won the lottery.

Weeeeee!

P.S. Herc's wound is healing well so far. Thanks for all the well-wishes!

* Trauma-drama

Last night it was time to remove the gauze from Herc's wound and clean it as needed. This turned out to be a horrific ordeal. That Hercules, he has the strength of an ox and the courage of a bunny rabbit.

First, Hercules refused to let me touch the gauze or any of the tape holding it in place. He insisted on doing it himself, which proved to be a painstaking process. He paused often to sit and cry despairingly. I hugged him and coaxed and begged him to let me do it. He finally got down to the last corner of tape, the gauze now completely unhinged, revealing his wound and stitches in all their hideous glory. The sight of this only unnerved him more. He was crying "It doesn't look right! It doesn't look right!!" That's when I hugged him and stealthily reached one hand down and yanked off the last centimeter of tape. That pissed him off but good grief, it was past his bedtime already and I still had to figure out how to clean the thing without putting him in a straight jacket.

I had planned on using a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol to gently (oh so gently) swab the skin around his stitches. But everytime I attempted to do so, Hercules would grab my hands and yank them away. After much begging, pleading, cajoling, and coercing, all my tricks were still failing. Then I realized that he still had to take a shower tonight, surely that would provide a sufficient cleansing of the wound.

Getting Hercules into the shower was no less traumatic, I'm afraid. There was lots more pleading and cajoling, but he wasn't going for it. In his defense, he wasn't being stubborn out of defiance, the poor kid was genuinely scared. I think he had already dealt with all the pain and discomfort he could handle in the past couple of days, and the prospect of facing more of the same had him completely freaked. I also suspect he was overtired, which is never conducive to cooperation in our young Hercules. But, the problem remained - that wound had to be cleaned, if only a little. Not just tonight, but every day for at least the next week or so.

I tried everything I could think of, but Hercules just stood outside the tub, sobbing and squealing. At one point I got so exasperated I tried to pick him up and place him in the tub myself, but dammit, he's too big and too heavy and his legs were all over the place. I set him down and took a few steps back. I needed to calm myself and regroup. I decided it was time for desperate measures. This is the speech I gave him:

"OK, you have 2 options. You can either clean your wound so it will heal and be good as new, or you can leave it alone. If you leave it alone, it will get crusty. Then it will get red and swollen. Then it will ooze puss and goo and it will hurt worse than it ever did before. Then we will have to go back to the hospital and the doctors will have to cut off your leg. So. You can take care of your wound and keep it clean, or you can let it rot until your leg comes off. What do you want to do?"

I know! I know! I'm a wicked mother. I know! But I can live that because IT WORKED. HA!

Once Hercules got into the shower, sobbing and shaking, he quickly realized that he was not going to die. He was not subjected to excruciating pain when the water touched his stitches. He freaked out for a second when some soap suds ran down his leg toward his stitches, but even that didn't hurt, and he was still alive! What a relief!

This morning when it was time to dress his wound again, Hercules objected to anything that involved tape or sticky stuff to hold the gauze in place. Luckily, I found an ace bandage, and I used that to hold the gauze. It worked great and Hercules was happy. Thank god.

Here's a song from Trout Fishing in America that we sang last night to lighten the mood:

Bandaid

And another Trout song, just for fun and because it's Herc's favorite:

Pico de Gallo

* Wounded Warrior

Well, we were supposed to start Hercules on his medication today, but our plans were thwarted by a trip to the ER. Hercules was home from school yesterday, along with the other kids. Pa was off work but I wasn't, so he had all 6 kids in his care. After lunch they were all outside playing Octopus, and somehow Hercules went running smack into the edge of the bumper on our neighbor's old pick-up truck. Pa called me at work and asked if I could take him to the hospital so he wouldn't have to take everyone. He's pretty fearless when it comes to wrangling kids, but hauling all 6 of them to the ER to spend hours waiting around is just inhumane. I left work and arrived at the house to inspect Hercules' wound. It was hideous. There was a hole in left thigh roughly 1 1/2-inch square. I could see parts of his leg that shouldn't ever see the light of day. I wasn't even sure stitches would work, since it was gaping open so wide, but I knew it would need a doctor's attention regardless. So I hurriedly packed Hercules into the truck to get him to the hospital while Pa stayed with the rest of the kids. Except for El, who begged to come along. Hercules seemed happy to have her company, so I agreed.

Despite some serious hassles with parking and being shuffled from Urgent Care to the ER, it went pretty smoothly. Hercules was in remarkably good spirits, so good that the nurses really didn't take me seriously until Hercules pulled his pants down to display his wound. When the Urgent Care nurse is silent and tight-lipped and runs out immediately to fetch the doctor, you know it's ugly. We ended up at the ER because they decided it would be difficult to stitch him up using only a local anaesthetic. I had to agree that Hercules wasn't exactly the type to just lay still while the doctor sewed him up, and I was right. When we finally were admitted to the ER, they attempted a local anyway, but Hercules struggled so violently when the doctor tried to even touch his leg and apply iodine to his wound, they changed their minds pretty quickly. In the end they doped him up on something mild and he was out of it for the whole ordeal. He came to pretty quickly, but we weren't out of there until 5:00, which is precisely when the behavioral health clinic closes, so I wasn't able to pick up his prescription.

So that's why Hercules won't get his medication until tomorrow. The good news is that he's recovering very well so far. He's more traumatized by having to remove the taped bandages on his arm (where they stuck the IV) than the wound itself. Go figure.

* Monday Morning Meme

This one's kinda fun. Mama Yaya tagged me, so now I will subject you all to some useless facts about moi.

Four Jobs I've Had
Wrangler - At a posh dude ranch in Colorado. Dream job!
Stablehand - I shoveled a lot of horse poop in exchange for free riding lessons. Also known as a Barn Rat.
Factory Worker - Packaging cameras on an assembly line at a Kodak plant.
Tuxedo Rose - Selling roses in bars wearing a tux w/tails, black tights, bikini bottom, and high heels. Ugh. That lasted only 2 weeks. I was never paid. Long story!

Four Movies I Can Watch Over and Over
Being John Malkovich
Donnie Darko
Raising Arizona
Antonia's Line

Four TV Shows I Love to Watch
Actually, I don't watch TV. But I used to, in rare phases of my life. These shows bring back fond memories:
Northern Exposure - My all-time favorite
X-Files
Teamo Supremo - Used to be my favorite cartoon to watch w/Hercules. Thanks to this show, I tried to persuade him to call me Earth Mom, but he wouldn't cooperate.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart -This is one I would like to watch, but I'm never up that late. Mostly I see clips online.

Four Places I've Lived
Clark, CO (close to Steamboat Springs)
Hudson, NH
Sarasota, FL
Heredia, Costa Rica

Four Places I’ve Been on Vacation
Moab, Utah
US Virgin Islands
Dinosaur, Colorado
Georgetown, Colorado

Four Favorite Dishes
Pad Thai
Any curry dish
Sushi
Fish 'n Chips

Four Websites I Visit (Almost) Daily
Jimbus
HELLO
3 am from Kyoto
MUTE

Four Places I’d Rather Be
A quiet mountain in Colorado
An old growth forest in the Pacific Northwest
At home snuggling on the couch between Pa and Hercules
Taking photographs of sailors, fishermen, and other seafaring folks on a warm coastline anywhere

Four Bloggers I am Tagging
Not sure there are 4 bloggers that read this blog that haven't done this one already, but I think these qualify. No pressure, folks! Feel free to drop the ball:
Fabulosa Mujer
Karianna
Fate at Point of Tears
Kristyk

* Tidbits

We had a fairly quiet weekend. It's been too cold to do anything outdoors, so Hercules and the kids got to watch two movies on Saturday. We watched a Wallace and Grommet flick in the afternoon, which was cute. Before bed we saw the 1970's version of King Kong, which proved painful to watch, at least for me. I think Jessica Lange's character "Dwan" (Duh!-wan) may be the most pathetic, annoying female lead EVER. And that's saying a lot.

I'll be picking up Herc's prescription tonight - Concerta it is. We'll see how it goes. Ironically, the past couple of weeks he has been on his best behavior at school. But he's got a field trip coming up in mid-March, and it only takes 2 trips to the ABLE room between now and then for him to get left behind for the trip. Since a good week at school is incredibly rare and trips to the ABLE room are standard procedure for our young Hercules, I'm hoping Concerta will come through for him.

The bad news is that I only have one week to observe Hercules on this drug before I have to leave town for five days. It's a business trip that was arranged months ago, and there's no getting out of it now. Of course, if all goes well it could be a real bonus for Pa in terms of coping with Hercules while I'm away. I trust Pa completely, but it still tugs at my heart strings to imagine Hercules going through his daily routine without me. Especially bedtime, when we snuggle in his bed together and read Harry Potter and snuggle some more. *Sigh*

So, hopefully if there are going to be any issues with side effects, they'll appear in the first week. Of course Pa and Herc's teacher will be on the lookout, too. But still, the timing of this trip pretty much sucks.

On the other hand, I will confess that I am also looking forward to this trip immensely. This will be the first time since the birth of Hercules that I will have nearly five entire days and nights to be completely by myself. I'm taking three cameras and a notebook. I LOVE being alone, and this is an extremely rare opportunity. It will be a bittersweet experience, to be sure.

* It's Official

I spoke with Herc’s psychiatrist earlier this week, and ADHD it is. No surprises there. Then it was time to discuss treatment and she listed for me all the medications that were available: Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, Strattera. She discussed the side effects with me and then asked me which one I felt the most comfortable with. I chose Strattera, but I had to call her back to let her know which pharmacy to call it in to.

But first I got online and started researching Strattera. That was kind of scary. So I googled Ritalin and that was just as scary. They’re all scary. It’s all just one big gamble and this is my only child we’re talking about here and I don’t like any of my choices, dammit.

Of course you hear the horror stories, which I had already braced myself for. I take those with a grain of salt. Particularly when a parent says something like this:

My daughter took Strattera for about a month. She became very hostile and angry while taking it. She is normally very docile and happy.


If she is normally “docile and happy,” why in the hell did you put her on meds?? Good grief.

Anyway, I’ve spoken with the psychiatrist some more and I’m still leaning towards Strattera, with Concerta as my second choice. I’ve since called her back and asked more questions and she told me to take my time to decide. On one hand, I’m really very thankful that she’s allowing me to choose a drug that I feel comfortable with. On the other hand, sometimes I wish she would absolve me of all responsibility and tell me what to do. I feel like I’m grossly under qualified to be making this sort of decision.

One thing I learned from my research is that caffeine, being a stimulant, tends to have similar benefits as meds for ADHD people. I’m thinking of making Hercules a cup of coffee every morning just to see what happens. It’s certainly less risky than Ritalin, I figure. I’ll use that instant coffee that Pa can’t bring himself to drink.

Speaking of Pa, it’s his birthday today, by the way. Happy Birthday, Love!

So I’m leaning towards Concerta right now, with Strattera a close second. Concerta lasts the longest so it’ll get him through the entire school day. If it really works, maybe I won’t be afraid to let Hercules ride the bus home after school!

But it’s all just one big experiment, with Hercules as the hapless guinea pig. Woopeee.

Does anyone else out there have any experience with Strattera or Concerta, or any of the other meds? Good, bad, or otherwise?

* Happy Valentine's Day!

My hubby and I like to refer to V-day as amateur night, and I have to admit that I've always been pretty cynical about this holiday. It is, after all, just another commercialized bit of out-moded romantic hype. Self-sufficient righteous babes such as myself need not be bothered with such gaudy displays of patriarchal affection. I suspect that this may be one of the few days of the year (besides birthdays & anniversaries) that some men make any gesture of affection towards their wife, and only because it comes with a certain expectation that there's something in it for them. It may be the only day they get laid this month.

But I would like to use this holiday to celebrate the fact that my husband is not one of those men. I am blessed with an amazing husband. How amazing, you ask? Let me count the ways!

Things I love about my husband:

  1. He worships me like the goddess I am.
  2. He cooks for me almost every night.
  3. He does the dishes more than I do.
  4. He's a great father and stepfather.
  5. He's gentle when I'm wrong.
  6. He will spoon me and cuddle me every night.
  7. He has a deep, sexy voice and he knows how to use it.
  8. He plays the ukelele for me in bed.
  9. He sings sweet, funny songs to me all the time.
  10. He is my partner in every sense of the word.
  11. He supports all of my professional and creative pursuits, however fickle and insecure I myself may be.
  12. He makes me feel sexier than any movie star.
  13. He is a movie star!
  14. If it weren't for him I may have never seen The Point.
  15. He introduced me to the Asylum Street Spankers.
  16. He never leaves the house without kissing me first.
  17. He doesn't wait for a special occasion to spoil me rotten.
  18. He knows better than to buy me jewelry, let alone diamonds.
  19. He does yoga more often than I do.
  20. He doesn't care for sports.
  21. He didn't even know which teams were in the Superbowl!
  22. He doesn't watch TV at all, for that matter.
  23. He rarely, if ever, complains.
  24. He turns on the heat for me in the bathroom every morning, so when I take my shower it will be warm and toasty.
  25. There's really nothing he wouldn't do for me.
  26. He's my hero!

27-44. Plus 17 other things that are too X-rated to mention here, sorry;)

I love you, Pa! You're the best. Thanks for putting up with me!

* Coping strategies

This weekend was busy as ever. We entertained some friends on Saturday for dinner, and that was fun. Their 2 kids joined forces with ours, and with the addition of the neighbor kids we had a grand total of 11 children between the ages of 5 and 14 in my house that evening. Maybe that's what got Pa stirred up about house-shopping. Our house is just too small, folks. But we came back to the solid conclusion that this one is just gonna have to do, for at least another four or five years.

Twice on Saturday I exercised a new coping mechanism: I locked myself in my bedroom alone for a little while. Once before the guests arrived, at which time I meditated for a bit and then took a much-needed power nap. Then again after they left, because after spending the past few hours on full throttle trying to be a good hostess and maintain order among the throngs of children, I needed to be alone. I needed a quiet place where there weren't three people talking to me at once. The kids had been fighting a lot all day long and my last nerve had gone bust. Plus I've been fighting a nasty head cold for 2 weeks now and I'm just plain tired.

Those short breaks were a real sanity-saver for me and I think I need to allow myself to do this more often. I have to give my husband some credit, too, since he did all the cooking (with some help from Elsa) and much of the cleaning before and after our dinner with friends. And when I tell him I need to be alone for a while and shut the door, he makes sure no one bothers me. Bless him.

We had one weird experience Saturday night. We were all sprawled about the living room watching a movie before bedtime when there was a knock on the door. I got up to answer it while everyone else focused on the TV screen. I opened the door, and there was a woman standing there holding a packet of folded pamphlets. She handed me one and I glanced at it. I skimmed it over quickly and saw a few key words: deaf, mute, please make a contribution, $2.00. I thanked her for the packet, shook my head and said sorry, not this time. Just as I was closing the door, she shook her head furiously and pointed insistently at the pamphlet in my hand. I looked at it again and repeated my response. But then some of the kids began to gather around behind me, curious, and she began pointing at them insistently, and pointing at her pamphlets. She was getting angry and more insistent and it was becoming very awkward. I kept shaking my head and when I tried to close the door she thrust her arm through it, still holding her pamphlets and gesturing angrily at me. I didn't know what to say - she's deaf, right? - but I finally managed to shut the door despite her protests.

The whole thing made me feel awful, rude, and angry. I have a hard time saying no to people in general, and I'm always polite to people who solicit at my door, however annoying they may be. However, no one can persuade me to hand over cash in any amount to a stranger knocking on my door on a Saturday night, no matter how pitiful her story seems. I'm sorry, but the deaf-mute scam is the oldest one in the book. I hate to be cynical but if someone has a valid plight and needs assistance, there are better ways to get the help they need. And yet I still feel like a jerk for turning her away and shutting the door in her face like that. The whole experience made me feel dirty.

* I know I shouldn't laugh

But this email I received from Herc's teacher today had me roaring:

"I also wanted to let you know that Hercules has been rolling up pieces of paper today and putting them in his mouth, which makes it look like he has a cigarette in his mouth. When I asked him why he was doing this, he told me it wasn't a cigarette, but it was like a piece of tree bark like [The Diva] puts in her mouth (I'm thinking maybe she uses a cinnamon stick?) However, I have told him at least 4 times today to get the papers out of his mouth because that's not acceptable at school. If you could address this at home tonight it would be great. :) In his writing story today he wrote that if he was a cat he would be in a club and they would smoke and drink beer. We had to talk about how this was inappropriate to write, too."


Just to clear things up:

  • The Diva has been using cinnamon sticks as a sort of placebo because she is trying to quit smoking.
  • Hercules returned home from The Diva's house to find Pa practicing with his bandmates (I was in class). He joined in their jam session by playing the spoons. When I woke him up this morning the first words out of his mouth were "When I'm 12 will I be old enough to join The Bait Shop Boys?"

I hadn't realized how the naughty hillbilly jazz would infiltrate my son's impressionable young mind. Cats who smoke and drink beer, hmm?

* Photo break

Here's one from my most recent roll. Over the weekend I shot a whole roll by taking a shot of each of the kids, Pa, and the neighbor kids. Unfortunately the one of Hercules turned out very poorly, but some of the others look quite good. Here's one that isn't focused very well and the light is terrible, but I still kinda like it. That's my front porch their all sitting on.

L-R: Charles, Haldan, Hercules, Darius, Aubrey, Elsa

Just a few of our gang

* Playing hooky

Looks like Hercules was sick after all. I got a call at 1:00 yesterday from the school nurse – Hercules has a fever, please come get him. I’m more than happy to have an excuse to ditch work, so I picked him up straight away. He was running a fever, which means he has to be fever-free for 24 hours before they’ll let him back in school. So we’re home again today, but Hercules is already over his bug and has been going strong all day. We’ve been running errands all afternoon, which is a bit exciting with the warrior in tow. But it’s Pa’s birthday next week and I had to get his gifts while I had the chance.

Although women are supposedly genetically wired to pass hours at the mall in pure bliss, I would personally prefer a nice, quiet trip to the dentist. I hate malls even more than I hate shopping in general. I would explain why I was forced to enter this bastion of consumer excess, but I don’t want my husband to find out what he’s getting, so you’ll just have to trust that I had no other choice.

It was especially fun trying to get Hercules to walk from one end of the mall to the other. But there were just so many stores – no doors or barriers, just wide open, beckoning to him with their flashy displays, seductive aromas, bright colors and hypnotic noisemakers. And the kiosks! I tried to keep a hold of his hand, but my little warrior isn’t so easily tethered. I was really wishing I had some handcuffs, and even though I’m sure the general public frowns on handcuffing children, I was prepared to sacrifice my reputation.

And yet, somehow our mission was accomplished and finally I could flee the mall. Then it was off to the grocery store for just a few quick items. That was much easier to manage because those carts are just big enough to hold a Hercules. I put the food in that little seat for babies and tried to keep Hercules from rocking the cart into passers-by. He only managed to knock down a few jars of pickles, but nothing broke so hey, no big deal!

But it’s all over, we’re home now and Hercules is waiting for The Diva to pick him up for their weekly rendezvous. I’m glad he’s feeling better – it does him good to hang out with The Diva.

* Cheers and boos

Cheers for our young Hercules, who started the week off on an especially good note. His PRIDE report was all 4s and 5s. His teacher printed out a special congratulatory note for his great work during writing time. Go Hercules!

Over dinner last night I asked Hercules what he wrote about, and he described to me his "Get-Up Machine." It's a complex Rube Goldberg-like contraption that is designed to wake him up in the morning. Pretty clever, eh? So we heaped the praise on him and hopefully that will encourage him to write more.

This morning he was very groggy and listless and complaining that his throat hurt. I took his temperature and he was fine, so I sent him to school. It's always tempting to keep him home and take a day off from work, but I really need to reserve my sick time for those days when he's really very sick.

I've been reading about a new trend regarding education which is concerned with the achievement gap between boys and girls. Apparently, a lot of people are alarmed by the fact the boys are falling behind girls rather dramatically. While that may be a valid problem, they believe the blame lies in the "feminization of our schools." I'm not buying it.

As one male high school student so eloquently stated, "All the books are, like, girl books." Hmmm. I'm willing to bet the majority of those "girl books" were written by men, back in the old days when men were taught to value scholarly aptitude and articulate conversation.

As the mother of a boy who is struggling in school, it's obvious to me that schools are not typically structured to accommodate children with special needs, and obviously not all boys, nor only boys, have special needs. At the same time, however, I'm pretty sure that dumbing down the curriculum to make sure boys aren't held back isn't doing them any favors, either. Sure, the system should be more flexible in its teaching methods because some kids just learn differently than others, regardless of their gender. But assuming that boys are being oppressed by our "feminized" schools is just silly. And letting boys slide through school with lower expectations is insulting to boys everywhere. My Hercules is all about action and violence, much to my chagrin. And yet he's quite capable of enjoying such "feminine" entertainment as The Little Mermaid, Junie B. Jones books, and Pippi Longstocking. Well, maybe those aren't the best examples of femininity, but the point is that I intend to expose him to a broad range of literature, art, and films (like the Triplets of Belleville and Animal Farm) because I believe in his ability to appreciate more than just GI Joe.

In my opinion, if society really wants to do boys a favor, we could turn off our collective TVs, throw away the video games, and let them run around outdoors and explore their world at every opportunity. That way, when it comes time to sit down and focus on a more intellectual activity, they'll be able to handle it. And don't even get me started on the horrible role models that our culture expects boys to emulate as "cool." Sports are cool, reading books is not. Soldiers are cool, art is for fags. Frat parties are cool, scholars are nerds. According to MTV and reality shows, it's much more cool for boys to act macho, grope and harass half-naked girls, get stupid drunk, drive fast, punch people that aren't like you, and shoot guns. And we wonder why boys can't be bothered to read books anymore? But it's so much easier to blame the feminists. Yeah.

* Family fun

The kids are here all weekend (as opposed to just Saturday), so we had a house full last night. Plus the two boys from down the street, CJ and DJ, who spend a lot of time here. I'm always happy to have those two. Let's just say that I've had enough neighborhood kids around to appreciate the well-mannered ones.

We got everyone to watch The Triplets of Belleville last night, which was pretty amazing considering there's almost no dialogue in the entire movie. A cartoon where no one speaks! There is quite of bit of singing, but even the songs don't really have words. Oh, and when anyone does talk it's in French. And the kids loved it. How cool is that? I absolutely loved this movie. There are a few scenes I'd love to have a still of, they're so beautifully composed.

It's typical for us to see an Oscar-winner a year late. I'm sure we'll be watching this year's nominees by this time next year. But that's OK with me. I love watching movies at home. It's so much more comfortable. And I can make out with my husband if I want to:)

Here's a photo of our family dinner last night - hotdogs and beans (egg sandwich for me). We feast like kings!

Family Dinner 2

* Kiss my sweet ass, Angelina Jolie

I found this today via msn.com and I wanted to gag. I just don't get the fuss over celebrities to begin with. They're just people. If anything they tend to be more arrogant, vain, superficial, and materialistic than most. These are not qualities I admire. So when the media declares "Celeb 'Hot Moms' May Redefine Motherhood," I want to slap someone.

Redefine motherhood, my ass. The last thing moms need is for celebrity motherhood to be the next mommy standard, fuck you very much. Sure, being a single mom is a piece of cake when you've got a fleet of domestic servants and an army of nannies at your beck and call.

You know what I want? I want to see Angelina Jolie's belly swell up to absurd proportions so the paparazzi can stop her on the street and demand to know if she's having twins (this happened to me quite frequently, except they weren't paparazzi). I want to see some stretch marks on her scrawny little post-pregnancy bod. Then we'll see how long Brad sticks around. If we see Angelina's stomach covered in stretch marks and wrinkles from all that stretching on the big screen, then maybe we can talk about celebrity moms redefining motherhood. Maybe. But I won't hold my breath.

I'm not bitter or jealous. I don't feel the need to emulate any celebrity. But I know that too many women do, thanks to the media, and articles like this are just so ignorant, I get a little annoyed.

* Quickie

Just a quick note to let you know that Hercules has been doing pretty well this week. Only one morning in the ABLE room so far. This morning he was excited to get to Adventure Club to work on building his Hogwarts Lego castle. Cool!

All the kids are coming over tonight and staying until Sunday, so it will be a busy weekend. The good news is that I've signed up to participate in the 120 challenge over at Flickr. The objective is to shoot an entire roll of 120 film in 120 minutes on Feb. 4th. I decided that I'm going to set up my Holga on my tripod in front of the house and take photos of each of the kids, plus each neighbor kid that comes by. That should fill 9 of the 12 exposures on the roll. One more of Pa will make 10, and the last two will just have to be wildcards. I just hope I can get some photos that are in focus! The tripod should help. I've been wanting to do more portraits and people shots, so this is a great incentive for me.

It will be a couple more days after that before I get the negatives back, scanned, and uploaded. But when I do I'll share them with you all, to be sure.

* Speaking of reckoning

I just got a letter today from Senator Jim Talent, who was congratulating himself for voting to confirm Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. Bastard. He doesn't seem to realize that I only subscribe to his newsletter so I can keep tabs on his latest offenses. It doesn't help that in his letters to me he insists on addressing me as "Mr." Then again, maybe that's why he expects me to give a shit about his lame ass. Wanna read my reply to him? Either way, here it is:

Senator Talentless,

I considered writing to you prior to the confirmation vote, but I'm not naive and I knew that my concerns would fall on deaf ears. Now that it's over and my worst fears have been confirmed (literally), all I have to say is that I look forward to the opportunity to vote you out of office, you spineless crook.

May God serve you with the same justice that Justice Alito has shown for the citizens that appear in his court.

Pointless yet gratifying. That's the American political process for ya.

* And now we wait

Yesterday was the day of reckoning for Hercules, and it went smoothly. This doctor asked the right questions, listened to my answers (how novel!), and engaged Hercules as well. When it was over, she asked if I had any questions. I just wanted to know what happens next. She explained that she would like more information before she makes her final diagnosis. She gave me a form for Herc's teacher to fill out, and instructed me to make two follow-up appointments for one month and three months from now. She then explained that given the possible explanations for Hercules' behavior (depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or ADHD), based on what she learned today ADHD seems to be the most likely culprit. This came as no surprise to me.

The one month follow-up will have to be a two month, since this doctor is booked solid until then. It seems like a glacial process, this psychiatric business, but I have no choice but to wait my turn. And although waiting is hell, I still prefer to have a doctor that takes her time before she pins a label on my son, rather than make a snap diagnosis. Now we just have to pray that Hercules doesn't get kicked out of school or Adventure Club in the meanwhile.

Incidentally, I received a call later that afternoon from one of the school counselors, following up on my request for him to be seen by them as well. We discussed his current behavior issues and how we've been managing them, etc. Soon Hercules will be included in some group meetings with other kids that have similar issues. I think this will do him some good, and at the very least, it won't do him any harm.

So the ball is officially in motion! And now, we wait.

How about some music to pass the time? Let's do a tribute to the Man in Black, Mr. Johnny Cash. I thought it would be cool to do a tribute on the anniversary of his death, but then I learned that that's not until September, so we'll just do it today. Any day is a good day to honor Johnny! How many contemporary country musicians do you know that can do justice to covers of Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, and The Beatles, all in the same album? That's right, none. I don't hold very many so-called country musicians in very high esteem these days, but Johnny Cash is in a class of his own. If you haven't had the pleasure of listening to the last album he made before he died, you need to get that album. It never fails to make me cry, especially his rendition of "We'll Meet Again." Turns me into a blubbering girl every damn time. Following are Herc's favorites:

A Boy Named Sue
When the Man Comes Around

That last one is an interesting apocalyptic ballad which represents Johnny's interpretation of the Book of Revelation, easily the most fascinating book in the Bible, in my opinion. But anyone who knows me is familiar with my fascination for all things eschatological, which is a fancy word for apocalyptic.

I say bring on the apocalypse. It can only be an improvement on this tragically fucked-up world we call modern civilization.