Mama Ellen's

A place for thoughts and ideas on everything from family to fois gras.

Monday, February 28, 2005

Paper Dolls and Starfish

Most parenting books will tell you that kids are fragile and should be handled very carefully. And on a certain level this is true. But kids are also resilient. They can and should be taught to bounce back and toughen up. No, I do not believe the “spare the rod spoil the child” theory. Children should not be abused physically, mentally or emotionally. But all people, including adults can make mistakes or have a lack in judgement that hurt a child’s self esteem. We all try to avoid this dilemma. How the problem is corrected is what truly matters.

A lesson in Paper Dolls:
A few years ago I attend a parent/child class that discussed the self-esteem of children. We were each given a paper doll. As the parent educator read off phrases that parents may say to a child, we were supposed to tear of a piece of the paper doll if the comment was an esteem crusher. The size of the tear was to be based on the amount of self-esteem damage. Paper dolls were losing body parts left and right. By the end of the exercise, there were ripped torsos everywhere. I personally thought this was a really violent representation. The lesson they were trying to teach was that what we say can hurt a child so don't say anything bad, ever. Sorry folks, life doesn't always work that way.

JJ lost an Arm Today
I told my sister-in-law the paper doll story and that quickly became our shorthand for having a "bad mommy day.” She might call and say, "Well, JJ just lost an arm" at which point we would discuss what happened. Or I would call her to say Bug just lost a leg and explain my bad mommy moment. We all make mistakes. So then what?

Starfish
I decided, just last night, that I prefer to think of children as starfish. Life can be cruel and no matter how hard we try, they will get hurt. And hopefully we will give them the right tools to heal. I want my children to be starfish. If they lose a limb metaphorically speaking, I want them to be able to grow it back. I want them to know that although they may be slighted they don't need to be martyrs. They don't need to walk around, detached limbs flapping in the breeze. I want them to be like starfish. I want them to be able to rearrange themselves in order to fit where they want to fit. (Starfish can be symmetrical or change shape in order to wedge themselves between rocks for protection.) I want them to become what they want to become. I don't want them to be made victims. Then I asked myself, how would I make a starfish?

What do children need to learn in order to have self-esteem, recover after attack, and go on to be decent non-self-centered humans? I think the easiest and yet most complex answer is respect. They need to respect themselves. They need to respect others. They need to understand that others have the right to their own opinion, and that the right must be respected. Note that I don't say that the opinion should be respected, it is the right to have the opinion. They need to understand that everyone makes mistakes. And to admit one's mistakes, apologize, and ask forgiveness is essential. This shows respect of others and oneself.

Children are not as fragile as everyone believes. They are extremely strong. They can be extremely resilient. And they are extremely forgiving. As parents, when we screw up and say or do something that we fear will hurt our child's self-esteem, we should apologize, ask forgiveness, and then do everything in our power to not repeat the offense. A phrase we have used with our children is, "Sorry means we are not going to do it again." And although it doesn't always work out the way we want, there is a certain level of pride when we hear our 5-year old apologize to his little sister, and to hear her say, "I forgive you." No limbs lost.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Back and Back Again

I have been trying to get out here to post something more than 2 sentences for over a week and it hasn't been possible. Either Wonder Bug has been making comments like, " A-3= 5 so A =8 right?" or "Did you know some things are fantasy and some are real and some fantasy things started out as real but were changed to be fantasy?" (I'm sitting here shaking my head.) BooBoo has been either reeking havic in her own special way or saying things like, "You are my best fwend and I love you so vewyvewy much".. Gotta love her. And Barnicle Blurg is attached to me like velcro. Dependent independence. Anyway...

Last weekend was really rough. On Friday, Bug had to go through allergy testing. This wasn't the first time but it was certainly the worst. The 35 needle pricks to the back were tough. The 13 mini-shots in his arms were awful. He screamed and jerked away so I had to help pin him down while Boo was screaming "Don't hurt my budder. I luv my budder ###". Lucy chimed in too with her glass breaking screeches. And then after all this he had to have some blood drawn. It took 3 attempts in the arm (which failed) and then finally 3 more in the back of the hand to get 1 vial of blood. And yes he has allergies. Eggs, peanuts, dogs, cats, 1 type of grass and 2 types of dust mites.


So to help him feel better and reward him for being brave, I finally got around to finishing his and Boo's bunk bed. They both love it. Unfortunately, Boo insisted on going on top. And before I could say Noooooo, she got her foot stuck on the guard rail and went over the edge. She banged her forehead and bridge of the nose on the ladder before flipping over and landing on her back. Many screams insued. She is fine albeit a little bruised. And of course, she scolded the beds. "Bad bed, how rude!"

And then there was Blurg. This weekend, she pulled herself up to stand for the first time. She also figured out climbing over and through which resulted in her getting stuck on the shelf of our coffeetable. We thought it was funny even if she didn't. And although she has no teeth, she was able to eat a piece of porkchop with mustard for dinner that night. Oh, and her favorite phrase, especially when I have left her for any period of time was and is, " Ma Maa Maaa Baaaaaaaa". Should I be concerned. Whee.

Well I am back and back again. It only took and hour to right this itty bitty post. More will come. And since I haven't mentioned it, there is a new blog, MAWB Squad, which is a collective effort of women bloggers, myself included. Check it out. Now. No I mean it, now. Why are you still reading this. Get your butt over to the MAWB. Have a great one!

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Melsie...Welcome to the Blogosphere

Hey everyone, please wish a warm welcome to my bestest friend and new woman of blogs, the chick I know as Melsie Muppett. She's cool, she loves Duran Duran, and she can be found here.

Cheers to you!!

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Hello Nebraska

Hi Sue. Hi Kate. Hope all is well over in Husker land. If you are reading this message, I can assume you made it to the sight just fine. Feel free and drop me a line in the comments section. For your convenience, if you look at my other posts, Bug is our eldest's nickname. Boo Boo is our little ballerina/tornado. And Blurg is the one that can now sit up on her own and really likes porkchop sandwiches. Bye! Elle

Friday, February 18, 2005

Terri Schiavo's Right to Life

First off if you don't know Terri's story this is the link to go to. Terri Schiavo collapsed 15 years ago, " was taken off life support more than a decade ago and still managed to survive. Since she cannot feed herself, a feeding tube is being used to sustain her. Her parents want to keep feeding her. Her husband does not. He insists that Schiavo would not want to be kept alive by artificial means." Is it right for him to speak for her, when she can’t speak for herself.

Her family has requested that he agree to dissolution of marriage and to let them take over her care. He does not desire this. He wants to have her feeding tube removed so that she can die from starvation and dehydration. An article by Brainstorming made me think of something and here it is. And remember, Terri is a PERSON, not a pet.


In Florida: FLA. STAT. ?? 828.12 et seq. -- last amended 1999

Statute Summary: A person commits the crime of cruelty to animals if the person:

Overloads, overdrives, torments, deprives of necessary sustenance or shelter, or unnecessarily mutilates or kills any animal, or carries in a cruel manner; intentionally commits an act which results in a cruel death, or the repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering; fails to supply a confined animal with sufficient food, water, or exercise, or abandons any animal.

* Cruelty to animals.
o 1st Degree Misdemeanor
o Fine up to $5000.
o Imprisonment up to 1 year.
* Intentional cruelty.
o 3rd Degree Felony
o Fine up to $10,000.
o Imprisonment up to 5 years.

Forfeiture of Animal/Seizure: Both

Other Sentencing Provisions: Cost of care.

Exemptions: Veterinary care.

Summary: If a person intentionally commits an act which results in a cruel death, or the repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering; fails to supply ... with sufficient food, water, or exercise, .....the said person would be charged with a 3rd degree felony, fine up to $10,000 dollars, and imprisonment up to 5 years. They would be required to forfeit rights and provide cost of care expenses.

Hmmmmmm. So this is what happens to an animal, but in the case of a person, the husband is trying to gain the right to deny food and water which will result in the cruel death of his wife. Does this seem wrong to anyone else?

To help support Terri, there is a blogburst that has been established. Check it out and help save a life

Monday, February 14, 2005

Happy Pills

I have depression. Did that catch your attention? I wanted to talk about depression and how it effects me and others but actually admitting to having depression is a totally different matter. Unfortunately we still live in a society today that looks upon depression and other forms of mental illness as a character flaw or weakness. I do not consider myself a weak person. As a matter of fact I know that I am not. My family growing up was not the type that put “FUN” into dysfunctional. An alcoholic father, a depressed and sometimes paranoid delusional mother, and an autistic sister rounded out my home. Sounds more like a made for TV movie plot line than real life. And although I went through many trials and tribulations as a child, I’m still here. I survived. And I realize the importance of acknowledging the real me. And in that I find more strength.

This isn’t to say that I don’t have my moments. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have gone to the doctor almost 2 years ago to be checked. There was some PPD (postpartum depression) as well as regular run of the mill depression. I wasn’t sad or weepy. I wasn’t really suicidal. I was angry, aggressive, and just didn’t want to be a mom anymore. I wanted to leave, disappear, never come back. This may be a surprise to anyone who regularly reads this blog. I love my kids and get so much joy from there antics. So to realize that I was having these feelings was difficult. I had to put my pride aside and seek help and get medicated.

I hate medication. In some ways it feels like a daily reminder that I couldn’t hack it. I know this really isn’t the case, it just feels that way. I don’t like the side affects. Frequently having dry, cotton mouth without the pleasure of drinking is quite unpleasant. Being overly tired, occasionally dizzy, and having frequent night sweats also is also a pain. But hating life, hating people, and hating my career as a mom is much worse. Kids really can tell when their parents are not connected. Depression creates a disconnect. And the damage that is done, takes time to repair. Unfortunately I speak from experience on this as well. Luckily kids are resilient and forgiving and loving without condition. But don't be mistaken, depression effects everyone in the family.

This all being said I now need to discuss a close friend that is considering going off their medication. The only reason given is not liking the side affects. I get that. But I also realize that it is a matter of pride and self-centeredness that creates this want. Denial and avoidance are self-serving. We have a mutual friend, LCS that disappeared almost 2 years ago. He lives with bi-polar disorder and on more than a few occasions, has abandoned his medication and then his friends and family. Sometimes he comes back within a few months. Sometime it takes longer. He has been a friend and figurative family member for over 15 years, but we have not heard from him once since the last disappearance. For all we know, he is dead. But we hope that he is not. Of course we are worried and saddened by his behavior, but I know that I am thoroughly ticked off as well.

I know that this self-indulgent behavior has effected our family. It has left an open wound that still has yet to fully heal. And even when it does, and it most likely will, his choice to abandon treatment will leave an emotional scar. It hurts to know that he didn't feel he could turn to anyone close when life became to much. It hurts to know that he is hurting. And it has left all involved, a little more jaded and cynical about the world.

I hope my other friend will remember and evaluate the decisions that LCS has made and realize that they are making the same errors in judgement. If your medication isn't working then go see the doctor. Put pride aside and go. Your actions effect others whether you like it or not. You can be angry at me, that's fine. Be angry. I'd rather you be mad than missing, physically or emotionally.

Friday, February 11, 2005

What Hugh Hewitt and David Cassidy have in Common

Well it sounds as if the Hewitt-Beinart dinner and debate last night was stellar. Granted, I had some idea how things went after Bogus returned home. After he sat on the edge of the bed, recounting the events, I decided to get up and listen to the rest of his rambles. (For some reason last night the kiddies decided to go to bed without a fuss and early no less. I actually was getting some sleep.) He was so jazzed about the event and of course getting to meet Hewitt , Lilaks, and Beinart. And although he will be embarrassed by this comparison, he reminded me of a giddy school girl getting to meet David Cassidy for the first time. It was soooo CUTE.
Sorry dear. It had to be said. I Love You!!

Monday, February 07, 2005

Boo Boo Alert

Not to be outdone, Boo Boo is being a terrific two year old. She is pretending to be a ballerina on the mini-trampoline. She has tried to use the potty whenever it has been the most inconvienent. And she also continues to call her big brother Meatball . Who knows why. With all that being said.

Come back Meatball. Comeback.

Arts and Crafts -Bug Style

Today, after almost 2 weeks of Bug avoiding arts and crafts at school, he chose to paint. Did he paint trees? No. Did he paint fuzzy little bunnies. Nope. Did he paint something depicting death and destruction. Thanks heavens, no. So what did he paint? Math problems of course. My favorite was 14 + 15 = 29. That's our boy.

On the Menu.....Deluxe Chocolate Pudding or a Poor Man's Pot de Creme

Boo Boo and Bug helped make this decadent yet easy dessert last weekend.

1 small box Jello Cook and Serve Chocolate Pudding
1 cup half & half
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 Carmello candy bars broken

Follow the directions on the box, substituting cream and half&half for the milk. As it heats add the chocolate chips and candy cars. Stir to melt. Bring to a boil (as per the directions). Remove from heat and stir. Let sit for about 3 minutes and stir again. Pour into serving containers and chill.

We have tried other variations such as chips only and a different chocolate bar. I'm guessing that most will work. Enjoy!!

Diversity - A Bug's View

My sister-in-law and I had a discussion on diversity today and although I will not bore you with all the details, I will tell you what I relayed to her about an experience last week.

Last Friday, Wonder Bug came up to me and said, "Did you know people are really different but also the same?".

Me "What do you mean?"

Bug "Well, people live all over the world. They live in different countries, have different holidays, and are different colors. Nobody is the same, exactly."

Me "True..."

Bug "But everybody is the same on the inside. We all have blood and guts. Otherwise we would be dead. We all have hearts and lungs, muscles and bones. Some people did have gallbladders but have them taken out..... (Here is where he digressed a little. He is
only four after all.) So people are the same but different, all at the same time. Pretty cool, Huh?!

Pretty cool, indeed!

Just a FYI

Yes I am back to blogging. I am no longer sick, or at least not as sick as a couple of weeks ago. And now with the weekend over, Bogus is back to work and I have re-captured my laptop. For those of you who don't already know, Bogus tried to turn his laptop into a new drinking partner and poor Lap just couldn't hold his liquer. So while Lap is recovering at the Dell Detox Center, Bogus has been using my laptop, Sal. Why Sal? For some reason the song Mustang Sally was stuck in my head and Sal seems to be a good name, so Sal it is. Anyway, my posts may be few and far in between but they will still come. Just as long as I can keep Bogus from bogarting Sal. Tee Hee.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Something I Like about our Public School

So , I have had many a rant about the things I dislike about our public schools, but to be fair I should mention something I like, ECFE. "E arly Childhood Family Education provides information and support to families with children birth - kindergarten. Offerings include parent/child classes, School Readiness pre-kindergarten classes, a home visiting program, a unique drop-in center, and special events and field trips." (Just click on the link to find another link for a list of the Winter/ Spring Newsletter)

In our case, the ECFE classes are just around the corner from where we live, at the city community center. I found out about the classes by accident when Bug was turning one. I needed to have some adult contact and he needed to be around other people as well. Bug was always demanding interaction and it gave him an opportunity to explore a new place and people. And did I mention, I really needed adult contact. So we joined the toddler class the following fall. Bug was 16 months. Just an FYI, there are classes for varying age ranges, day and night.

At first barnacle boy was always attached and would go into fits if I left his sight. These were no ordinary fits either. He would arch his back, scream, vomit, head-butt, and claw. It was your basic everyday Exorcist experience. But with time, and the support of other parents and the teachers, he learned to separate and I learned that I wasn't a bad mommy. And guess what, we learned other things too.

A list of topics were chosen for the class by the parent educator and the parents. There was potty training, sleep struggles, relaxation and marraige after children, just to name a few. It also provided me/us with some of the first feedback on Bug's abilities. Granted, most of it was attributed to him being the first born but over the years that has changed. They have provided as much help as they can in developing and adapting to his learning style.

I can honestly say that I/we have had really good experiences with this area of the public education system. Of course, things are not perfect but that can not be expected from any program. And usually the flaws are out of the control of the teachers. The thing that makes our ECFE different is that the educators and the parents actually work together for the best interest of the children and community.