Monday, December 29, 2008

Big Wheel Superstar!!

Yesterday, we had a high temperature somewhere in the 50's. I was in heaven, because it meant I could go outside without repeating "When can we go inside?" every two minutes until we actually go inside. Jupiter kept mentioning how all the snow was melting. I told her not to worry, it will snow again in a couple of days. Wednesday, the last time I checked. But since there was no snow on the road, we took out the Big Wheel.

We live near the end of our dead end street, just past the bottom of the hill. Not a huge hill, but a noticable one. At the top of the hill, my sensory seeking five year old pointed her Big Wheel downhill, started pedaling furiously, and then took her feet off the pedals and coasted to the bottom of the hill. Then she pedaled furiously back to the house and went BUMP into the front of the garage door. Then she did it again. And again. And again. The second graders up the street were impressed with her fearlessness. Jupiter was excited that she impressed kids bigger than she was.

I watched a Made episode on MTV this afternoon while I was running (HA HA HA. The other people in the gym run gracefully and smoothly on their treadmills. I sound like a herd of elephants galloping on the treadmill. I don't know why I think that this whole goal of starting a jogging regimen is going to work. For more than three days. I've never been an enthusiastic athelete. But what the's a new year.) at the gym. The girl in the show decided that she wanted to be a BMX racer. That is seriously something I can see Jupiter doing. She's starting off now with Big Wheel tricks (yesterday she also drove repeatedly into her scooter with the Big Wheel. It reminded me of Happy Days when they used to have Demolition Derbys.) and she's going to be a BMX racer with a tatoo. She drew a tatoo on her arm yesterday with Crayola marker, in fact, but it came off in the bath. Or, she says, when she grows up she is going to take care of horses. One of my goals is to get Jupiter into horseback riding, which I think will help both her sensory issues and her emotional ones. I think working with horses would be a great thing for her, and have promised that if she still wants to work with horses when she is old enough to work for real, I will help her find a way to do that.

Santa brought new snowshoes for Jupiter, which we haven't used yet because it's either been raining or too warm, but hopefully we'll get out there this weekend. Santa displayed a lack of forethought in only bringing snowshoes for Jupiter, so I may have a hard time chasing her. And she's really been eyeing the snow tube with longing. For her sake, I hope we get some good snow on Wednesday so she can go to the big sledding hill with her friend G this weekend.

Before we played Big Wheel tricks yesterday, we hung out the new bird feeder. The bird feeder is a combination gift for Jupiter and Autumn Leaf (whose new full name is Autumn Leaf Sunshine Marzipan). I haven't seen any birds yet, though Autumn was up scratching at the window earlier, so I think there may have been some there when we were not home. Jupiter can't wait to see some birds.

Jupiter has done some seriously awesome art since Christmas. She's planning on giving it all away, so I have to take digital camera photos of the art so I can have at least a virtual copy of it. Santa was quite happy to provide art supplies to the budding artist. When I get some pictures taken I will post some on the blog...they must be shared! Proud Mom talking here!

Monday, December 22, 2008


I am at home this morning because it snowed about a foot and a half yesterday afternoon and overnight. (I mean, I am at home today because Jupiter is not feeling well. If you are my boss, the entire first sentence is a typo.)
This picture is actually from the first snowflakes that fell a few weeks ago, when we had to put our coats and hats and mittens on at bedtime and go out to play in the snow.
Jupiter LOVES LOVES LOVES snow. The other day when we had a snowstorm, I picked her up and she said "MOM. I NEED TO GO PLAY IN THE SNOW!!" And she was entirely accurate, I think, in using the word need in that context. She truthfully needed to go play in the snow at that moment.
When we woke up Saturday morning, we had about six inches of new snow on the ground. At 8:30, we were out in our pajamas and snowpants. Jupiter was hurrying to do all her favorite snow things because she worried if she waited ten minutes, all the snow would melt and be gone. (I can only hope!!) At 11:15, I had to drag her back inside by force to warm up.
Today is Monday and we have 18 or 20 more inches of the white stuff. I have to admit, seeing Jupiter love the snow so much makes me dislike the snow less. It's still quite windy, so we will have to wait awhile before going out. Although the possibility remains that I will have to run down the unplowed driveway with the garbage bag for the truck if it should arrive before my infinitely kind snowblower owning neighbor.
I had Friday as a scheduled day off, so Jupiter and I have been home for four days. The first two days, I think, she struggled with the change of routine. Yesterday and today (so far) have gone much better. A lot less defiance. She has requested a new bedtime routine of me massaging her back. The first time she asked, and I massaged her back (do it harder, Mom!) she actually fell asleep during the massage. No rocking and loud music!! Yipee!!!!!!! She also came into my bed Friday night and Saturday night, and Sunday she slept until 8am!! So hopefully we've managed to soothe her internal motorcycle to some extent. That's what she calls it now when here energy bubble gets to the point she can't control it. Her motorcycle is running. The motorcycle has been getting quite a workout the last few weeks with approaching Christmas. All the excitement, lack of routine, and sugar have been making it tough.
This morning, when I was trying to keep Jupiter from getting up at 5am, she asked me to lay down in her bed so I did. She told me that Christmas is in three days, and she's going to get presents, and when Santa comes she's going to sing a special song she made for him. And Santa will teach all the elves to sing it and we can put it on a CD so Santa can listen to it when he's not working. She asked me scratch the itches on her back. She used very good words to give my hands directions. She said she really wants a baby sister, that she would play gently with a baby sister, and if the baby sister woke up at night and was scared, she would rock the baby sister. We can do that after Christmas, she says. I think she means by the end of December. I suggested it might take a little bit longer than that. We read 2 and a half chapters of The Mouse and the Motorcycle. Then, an hour later, we got up and had breakfast. Oatmeal, of course. I can't change flavors of oatmeal or even brands of oatmeal. It has to be Hannaford organic Maple and Brown Sugar. When I tried to go with Quaker because it was on sale, it tasted different and she refused to eat it.
Jupiter has needed a lot of meals routine lately. She's ALWAYS had oatmeal for breakfast, since she was a baby. Since fall, she wants chicken noodle soup for lunch. Every day. (It used to be chef boy ardee raviolis or spaghettios.) And for supper, she is willing to choose between fried rice, fish sticks, or a hamburger. Ketchup and pickles only on the hamburger, please. So I went to the meat market and bought a pack of premade hamburger patties so I could freeze them individually and take them out one at a time. She also needs lots of protein. When she doesn't have enough protein, she gets cranky a lot faster. I try to sneak it in, but she's not always cooperative.
I just looked out the window (the sun is coming out!) and saw all the snow on my roof I need to go rake off. But Jupiter will love it. And I will love that she loves it, even while I shiver and my fingers shrink inside their gloves. She can't wait to go sledding at the big hill. In my town, we go sledding at the big hill accross from the correctional center. It sounds odd if you invite out of town friends to go sledding at the prison. It's too windy today, but maybe this weekend we'll make it there.
If I don't get to post again before Christmas, Merry Christmas, everyone!!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christmas Tree Wrestling, episode 2

I had a little internal debate going about decorating the tree. But it was already the second week of December. If I waited til the next weekend, it didn't seem like the ornaments would be on the tree long enough to make it worth the decorating. So I haul out the lights, untangle the lights, test all the lights, and put the lights on the tree.

Every year, I put the lights on wrong and have to do it over. This year, amazingly enough, I did it right the first time. Go me!! While the pizza was cooking, we put on ornaments. Jupiter stole some to put on Foursie. After we ate, I went out the the kitchen with plates. While I'm rinsing them off, I hear CRASH. Tinkle Tinkle Creak.


I know it wasn't her, actually. I actually thought I saw the tree wobbling a little bit while I was putting some of the ornaments. But it was such a little wobble I thought I was imagining it. Not so much, apparently. In the living room the tree is laying on its side. A gallon of water from the tree stand I had just filled is pouring on my carpet. I go to survey the damage. Yup. It fell over, alright.

Swell. I try to pick it back up. It stands up as long as it's totally leaning in the corner. Otherwise, it falls over. I stick it in the corner until Jupiter goes to bed. Then, since it has become apparent that I would need to undecorate the tree, I take off all the ornaments and stick them in a box. I leave the lights on the tree, but not plugged in. I lay the tree back down and take it out of the stand.

The tree doesn't go all the way into the stand. No wonder it fell over. There are a bunch of bottom branches keeping the tree from fitting in the stand. I ponder the whereabouts of my clippers. I remember that I brought them to my mother's house when we were doing her tree. They're still there. I go out to the garage and retrieve my mini hacksaw. I start to saw a branch. The hacksaw blade comes out of the hacksaw.

I hold an end of the hacksaw blade in each hand and saw that way. Branches start to come off the tree. I saw off a lot of branches. I try to shove the stand back on. I saw off more branches. Now I have water, tree needles, branches, and sawdust on the carpet. The cat peeks around the corner and runs away. Finally, finally, I get it all the way in the stand. I try to stand the tree up. It falls over. I take a stress break and watch John Glenn orbit the earth in The Right Stuff. I wonder how so many of the actors in The Right Stuff were also in Apollo 13. I reposition the tree in its stand and tighten the screws again. This time, it seems straight. And solid.

I plug in the lights. Some light up. Some turn on and off in a wavy kind of dance. I inspect the lights and find some that either broke when the tree fell on them or when I may have stepped on them trying to fix the tree. Since the broken lightbulbs in the flammable tree don't excite me, I decide it would be prudent to buy all new lights. So I have to take the lights off the tree. But at least I'm pretty sure the tree is solidly in its stand now. I am positively yanking those lights off the tree, and the tree doesn't budge.

We put on new lights Monday afternoon. Thursday evening we put on the ornaments again. It's been three days, and the tree has not yet fallen over. Knock on wood.

And every year, I insist on a real tree. I like the smell. They smell nice. And the cats like having a real tree in the house. Any cat I've ever had is convinced the tree is for them. They lay under the tree and stare up into the branches. So far, none of my cats have ever climbed my trees. Autumn is new...I hope she doesn't try it.

Sensory Performing Arts

After the big Christmas Tree afternoon at Mimi's house, Jupiter and I went to the Nutcracker on Saturday afternoon. I had originally thought that going to Boston to the big Nutcracker day at the Children's museum would be our Nutcracker for the year. But Jupiter saw the ad in the paper and begged me for days to take her to the whole entire performance. So the Thursday before I called up Porttix and ordered two tickets for the Nutcracker.

I got the cheap seats. I had to get the cheap seats..especially since they charged me an extra $10 to order the tickets on the phone. I wonder if the phone rep really makes $600 an hour to take the calls and print out the tickets? But anyway, the cheap seats were right up front. They were actually in the first row of tickets that were actually being sold. They were also very close to the orchestra.

We were not close to the side of the orchestra with violins and the harp. We, of course, were on the side with the brass instruments, the tympani, and the cymbals. Jupiter does not like sudden loud noises. She loves loud noises when she's causing the loud noises. In fact, she would like a drum set for Christmas. But when they happen unexpectedly, not so much. She sat on my lap the entire performance. Which was nice, actually. She made me hold my hands over her ears the entire performance. She tried to go without my hands once. The cymbals crashed, and that was it for the hands free ballet watching. I missed a lot of the dancing as I was trying to keep an eye on the conductor and the cymbals person. But despite the loud noises, Jupiter loved the ballet. It was entirely worth the ticket price and the surcharge to see her enthralled with the Nutcracker. And during intermission, we wandered to the other side of the auditorium to see the harp up close (have to remember for next year, we need to be in the house RIGHT section. I think.) and the harp lady even let us come up and touch the harp strings. That was SO COOL! ( I always wanted to touch the harp myself, actually.) So the Nutcracker was great. Totally recommend it. There are a few pictures of the show at

Jupiter, by the way, does not want to take dance class, as much as she loves dance. She did take class for a half a year when she was three and a half. But now she's too worried she will make a mistake to enjoy it. I'm hoping she may have a change of heart. I took dance class myself (very ineptly) when Maine State Ballet was a dance school in the instructor's basement. But Jupiter is already asking if we can go to the spring performance of Cinderella. I think we will.

Sunday afternoon, we went to see MimiX in her school performance of The Time Machine. Jupiter did not get bored. But as you might suspect, the Time Machine itself occasionally does things like explode noisily. So while she liked the play itself, she didn't like the loud noises so much. I watched that play with my hands over her ears too. MimiX was the Queen Morlock. (We must now bow down to her.) Jupiter is not fond of Morelocks. She thought there were scary Morlocks hiding in the shadows for three days afterwards. She felt a little better after we got home from the play and I decided we should decorate our Christmas Tree, which has been sitting undecorated for two days.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Tree new reality show

Last Friday, I had the day off from work. And it turned out to be Christmas tree day.

My mother's house has a cathedral ceiling. Every year, it is my sister's quest to find a tall, full tree for the living room with the cathedral ceiling. Every year, this also requires finding somebody with a truck who is willing to haul the giant tree from wherever it happens to be to their house. This year, that person (my parents' neighbor) happened to be available on Friday afternoon at 3pm. So on Friday afternoon at 1pm, we get in the car to find a Christmas tree at the local tree farm. Actually we are searching for three trees. A large and smaller one for my parents house, and a middle size one for my house. I have a Chevy Prizm and therefore can not haul on my own any tree larger than a Charlie Brown tree.

So we get to the Christmas tree farm. The owner offers us a hacksaw. I get to carry the hacksaw. Jupiter amuses herself by tramping through all the mud she can find. Mud, Mud, she loves Mud. She's absolutely positively wild about Mud. (Hello, Rick Charrette.) My sister finds a tree for my house first. My mother and I crawl next to the tree, lay down flat on the ground next to the tree, and start trying to saw the tree down. Wonder of wonders, the tree falls down. I haul it out of the row to the road where the owner said he will drive down and pick up the tree. We leave the tree and go in search of the really big tree. All the trees are the same price, by the way. Which is a great deal if you're in the market for a really big tree.

Finally my sister finds two or three trees she's interested in. She spends a lot of time trying to determine which one will look the best. She points to one, and we climb down in the mud and grass again to saw some more. This tree is a lot bigger. It takes longer. We have to stop to rest a few times. Jupiter finds some more mud and puddles to climb through. Finally it falls down. We rest some more. Then we haul it out just as the tree man comes along with his gator looking for us. He throws the giant tree into the gator trailor and asks us where the other tree is.

Good question. We start looking for the other tree. My sister takes Jupiter and the hacksaw and starts looking for the third tiny tree. My mother and I search through the fields for the tree we already cut down. We wonder if some other people happened by the tree and said "Wow. What a nice tree already cut down. We'll take it.". But eventually we do find the tree. The tree man loads it into his gator trailor and hauls it back up to the front of the field. Then we search for my sister and Jupiter.

We find them, but my sister has lost the hacksaw. So we look for that. When we find that, we look for the tiny tree. She finds one, and I have to try two or three angles to cut it, as it is growing very close to some other trees.

We load the tiny tree into the trunk of the car and the middle size tree on top of my mother's Impala. ( I feel like I'm doing a rewrite of Goldilocks and the three bears.) and advise the tree man that we will be back with the truck for the big tree. We bring the middle size tree to my house. We try to cut off the end again so it will be nice and fresh, but I only have a minature hacksaw which is not effective, so we borrow a handsaw from the neighbors. Then we bring the tree inside. I have underestimated how much room I will need to bring in the tree, and we knock over a mirror, a stack of photo albums, a side table, and a lamp. We jam the tree in the stand and pour in some water. Then my mom and my sister (my father has the good sense to be in California during this project) go with the truck neighbor to get the big tree.

They get back late. The truck neighbor decided to cut a tree for himself while they were at the tree farm. He offers to help bring the tree in but being Independent Maine Women, we decline. Then we start hacksawing at the end of the tree. By now I am very tired of hacksawing. My arms, actually are very tired of hacksawing. I'm getting tired of trees, period. After much sawing and swearing we get the tree flat in the stand and drag it in the house. We push the tree up. It's not straight. It requires a lot of adjusting and turning. It is very heavy. I start to glare whenever turning or adjusting is suggested. But eventually, everyone is satisfied. We break to drink five gallons of water apiece and have something to eat.

Note: if you go to a farm to cut down the Christmas tree, the tree will look bigger in your living room than it looks in the actual field. Pick something that seems a little bit small.

The tree is so big we have to bring the extension ladder in the house so I can climb up and stick the angel on the top of the tree. Then we do the lights. By now it's after 7pm. After they're plugged in, some of the lights don't light up. A big invisible thought bubble of bad words rises above my head, but fortunately with some jiggling, the lights think better of being difficult and light up all on their own.

Jupiter and I go home and collapse into bed. We have a busy schedule of performing arts to attend over the weekend, and we need our sleep.

Ice Storm 2008

We have survived Ice Storm 2008. Actually, our power only blinked off once or twice. I think this is entirely due to the fact that there is a mini substation or something at the end of my street. And one of the electric company dams is on the river behind my house. So we get lucky a lot. And we do have a woodstove. So in the event of a prolonged power outage, I fire up the woodstove (ooh, that's kind of a funny...I didn't plan it that way though) and as a result my house is actually a good bit warmer than it is normally. If it didn't require me to go downstairs and feed it every 45 minutes, I would use the woodstove a lot more than I do. But back to the ice storm.

Jupiter got to spend most of her day without power. Mimi's house lost power twice, the second time for most of the day. She did a lot of writing and illustrating her books. So when I got home, I brought them some fireplace wood and a coffee from Dunkin Donuts and some marshmallows for Jupiter to toast in the fireplace. Don't worry, Mimi did the actual toasting. A half of a mile from my mother's house, everything had power. So I brought my mother out to buy batteries and get hot food for supper. We started eating the hot food in front of the fire and then the power came back on. They're very happy.

Part of me likes ice storms. When the sun comes out and makes everything sparkle there are few things more beautiful to see. This does not extend to driving in ice storms. The good thing about going to work so early is there are few other cars on the road. Especially if all the schools are closed. The bad thing is a special weather related email that suggests that if it's not safe for you to come to work you can stay home doesn't do you a lot a good when they send out the email at 10am and your start time is 6am. But it wasn't so bad. There was that one tree blocking my street, but I just followed the tracks of the newspaper delivery truck and drove around the neighbors mailbox, as well as the tree. Another good thing about going to work so early.

But the storm is over, and we are warm and have power. Hopefully soon power will be mostly restored and everyone will be warm and safe.

Explaining the last post

I haven't been able to publish to my blog for about ten days. I kept trying, but I kept getting very non specific error messages. I thought it was the blog people, so I was just waiting for the blog people to fix it. Turns out, it was my computer. I needed to clear the cache and cookies. That took a long time. Apparently since I got real internet I've been to a lot of internet places and filled up all my temporary memory, and thus could not post.

I got a little tired of typing out the whole entire post, then finding out I could not post anything. So I finally just started typing out some gibberish letters to test it.

It works now. Hilarious December posts to follow.

Monday, December 1, 2008



Blog Support

Tonight, after Jupiter went to bed, I checked out some of the other blogs. Blogs from parents with kids who struggle to accept being loved. Jupiter has made progress from where we were a year ago, in a big way, and I'm proud of her for that. But can I do better? Oh yeah. There's a lot of room for growth. So tonight I was browsing the blogs looking to see what the other Moms do. I got to the second blog, and was just reading an entry about reacting when your child says "I hate you!!" Then I hear a panicky "MOM!!!"

Jupiter is not in her room. Since she's been (supposedly) going to sleep, her music is turned up to about 90 decibels, and it takes a minute or so before I find her in the bathroom, frustrated with trying to wipe herself and furious with me for not knowing she needed help before she even called me. So it takes a few minutes to settle her down. While I'm hugging her and telling her she's ok, she says she hates me. She hates me all the time. She doesn't like me. So I let her say it. I put on my anti-mean armor and just let her get her mad feelings out. I tell her it's okay to use her words to get the mads out. Eventually she gets satisfactorily wiped, washed, and dressed again. And I take her to the rocking chair. She says we only do the bad chair when she's been bad. I tell her that we don't rock in the chair because she's bad. We rock in the chair because I think she needs a little extra love.

Jupiter does NOT want a little extra love. She wants to be alone and listen to her music. But I hold her in the chair anyway, so she hates me some more. She wants a younger Mom, a cooler Mom, a stylish Mom, not an old weirdo Mom. I let her say it and just hold her some more. I feel a little better when she tells me that she hates Big Dog (her really big golden retreiver stuffed animal) too. Then she starts to talk to me about school. That Mary and J are always mean to her and she doesn't like to play with them. That Mary messed up her hair one day (she puts her hands in my hair and messes it all up to demonstrate.) and how she didn't like that.

When she seems done with the mads, I talk about last night. Remember last night, when the first snowfall started and even though it was dark outside and time for bed, we put on our coats and boots and hats and mittens and went outside and ran around the driveway and threw snowballs at each other. And then we made snow angels right next to each other in the driveway. And I tell her that I will always remember that night with her, because it was so much fun doing that together. Well, I won't remember it, she responds. Belligerently. I tell her that then I would remind her.

She asks for a drink of water, so we get one. I turn the hall light off, but she wants it on. She doesn't want to go to sleep in my arms, so I offer the compromise of laying in her bed with her. She accepts this. After she's under the blankets, she removes her blanket sleeper and sleeps in her "nighttime underwear." (she's too big for pull ups). The blanket sleeper makes me too hot with the blanket. And it's too tight. I start to rub her back and she asks me to scratch the itchy spots. She gives me directions and I follow them until she is satisfied. Finally she says "Good night, Mom." Good night, I answer. Have good dreams, I say. Have good dreams, she answers. I love you, I say. I love you, she answers.

My favorite BCLC advice was this "What can I do, at this moment, to strengthen my relationship with my child?" Sometimes the answer is more obvious than at other times. Oftentimes, it means parenting in a way that seems strange to those who don't live with kids like Jupiter. Do the parents at church understand why I don't pry Jupiter's hands off mine in the Sunday School room and disappear out the door? Nope. Sometimes the Mom she needs me to be looks strange to others. And sometimes, I don't do it right, and in retrospect a better way will seem more than obvious. And the next day, we do our bonding dance some more.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Four years ago

Four years ago today, it was Thanksgiving, and I was in a little place called Serov, visiting the baby girl who would hopefully soon become my daughter. How cool is that, that every year at Thanksgiving time, I remember the first trip to Russia to meet my baby? How snow in Russia is so much more beautiful than snow in Maine?

The Thanksgiving visit was the third visit of the trip, and the last one before I had to fly home. Jupiter played with us (my sister was with me) and walked a lot and chewed on her shoes that I had brought her, and pried my mouth open to check out the teeth. I fed her her lunch and carried her back to her group for her nap and then I had to say goodbye til the judge decided I could come back and get her.

That was the moment I dreaded from the moment I chose to go to Russia. I didn't know how I was going to cope with having to leave the child I had bonded with and flying halfway around the world, not knowing when I would be able to go back. And as it turned out, I didn't handle it all that well. I cried in the car on the way back to Ekat from Serov, and I'm sure there are workers at the Greek Restaurant Rest Stop who still remember the crazy American lady who was bawling her eyes out all over the place. All my instincts were telling me to go back and not leave her, and it was the one thing I couldn't do. And I wondered if she would remember me when I came back, or if she would think I had abandoned her. I still wonder that. I'll probably never know if she recognized me the May morning I finally got back to where I had left my heart. And in all honesty, I don't know if it would be better for her to remember me when I got back, having spent all those months in between wondering where I was all that time, or better for her to have forgotten all about me in between.

I looked at the first trip pictures the other night. Jupiter doesn't like to look all that often. She likes to see herself as a baby, but prefers the pictures from after she came home. After the first trip pictures, I put the pictures in the album from the disposable cameras I left at the baby home. We'd been home almost two months when I finally got them developed, and then mostly I saw the expressionless little face in the photos. They were, with a few exceptions, the saddest pictures of a baby I had ever seen. No smiles in the face or in the eyes, especially in the pictures that are obviously posed. I don't share those pictures much. They're part of her story, and so they're included. But how I wish that those five months haden't been taken up by a databank letter.

Thanksgiving now is way different than that day four years ago. Jupiter was at the table with her family and even gave up her customary chicken noodle soup to have some turkey and a roll, wearing a red princess dress that she chose at Sears last week. She antagonized all the dogs that came for Thanksgiving and smiled at me from across the table where she was sitting next to one of her aunts. But probably every Thanksgiving now, I'll remember Thanksgiving in Serov.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

More Candy/Pushing Boundaries

Monday I found about 20 Halloween Candy wrappers behind the tv. Behind the TV, underneath a picture frame, and a couple DVD cases. Apparently Jupiter has learned that the behind the rocking chair hiding spot had worn out its usefulness because I now check it daily. Monday night I tried to give her cough syrup before bed. I should know better than to try this. Ever since she had to take Flagyl, she's been resistant to taking liquid medicine. (Have you tried liquid flagyl? I can see her point on this.) 45 minutes of trying to convince her it wasn't the gross medicine, trying to get her brave enough to take it herself, trying to get her to let me give it too her. After the 45 minutes, to change the dynamic to something positive, we got into the car in our pyjamas (Jupiter) and grape dimetapp soaked shirt (me) and drove the half a block to CVS to buy melty strips. God bless the person who invented melty strips. She's not afraid of those. The doctors always think I'm nuts if she needs medicine and I ask if she can possibly have a shot. I think next time I'll bring them the medicine and suggest THEY get her to take it.

Wednesday she poured her lemonade onto the aquadoodle, and tried to convince me it was an accident. Kept boundary pushing all morning. (hid the gum in her room and chewed the whole package after I had told her she couldn't have more gum because she did something she wasn't supposed to with the last wad of gum she had. Then I found my cell phone under her pillow. It took me 15 minutes to figure out that she had turned on the speaker phone and how to turn off the speakerphone.)

So we went to open gym at Coach Paul's gym to change the dynamic (Jupiter LOVES Coach Paul.) We left late, and when we got there, I told her to take off her sweatpants so she could show off the leopard print leggings she was so proud of it. Then I noticed the big wet spot in the back. "It's okay, Mama. I just spilled water in the car." Hmm. So we go to the bathroom so she can change into her sweatpants, which are also wet on the outside but fortunately doesn't show when you turn the sweatpants inside out. When we get to the bathroom I start to remove the leopard leggings underwear!!! "Why aren't you wearing underwear?" I ask. "I forgot," she answers. I struggle to find underwear she is comfortable in, she's always complaining of wedgies and adjusting her undewear, so it's more likely she just didn't want to wear the underwear. And we left quickly and I forgot to check. Note to self. Check for underwear. On the way home, as I was getting into the correct lane to stop at the grocery store to buy a cake mix, she told me that when she got home, she was going to wash her hands and change into her pj's. "Did you pee in your car seat???" I ask. "I couldn't hold it," she answers. She could hold it from Waltham Mass to Portland two weeks ago, and this time she didn't even MENTION that she might need to pee. So instead of the grocery store, we go home and she has a shower.

We're gearing up for the Christmas behaviorials...I can tell. So far I've been able to see the humor in this weeks behavior...I think I'll write a book and when she has children I'll share it with her. My parents tell me that she acts the same way I did. Okay, so I locked the doors to my fathers truck while we were at the car wash, wouldn't let him back in, and proceeded to dismantle the rearview mirror. And I took apart the clock and my mother had to go buy a new one. And I took apart the air conditioner at a hotel once. And, well, you get the idea.

By the way, when my mother was cleaning for Thanksgiving, she found candy wrappers behind her tv.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Living la vida frugal

Fairiemama posted about cutting costs, and reminded me that I wanted to do that too. Some of my efforts are more successful than others, but we are definitely trying..I'm sitting at the desk wrapped in a blanket because my heat is on 62. I don't even remember a time when my heat was on 72. I have visions occasionally of the scene in Dr. Zhivago, the winter before they go to Varykino, when he's out stealing the wood to put in the stove for heat. I do have wood for my woodstove, so I don't envision having to steal wood. Which didn't stop me from throwing fairly small windblown sticks onto the woodpile. Or hoping that a big tree might blow down so I could cut the tree up. But anyway, heat is a big one.

My other major project is trying to plan ahead for meals so I can make fewer shopping trips. Sometimes this works. Sometimes not so much. I print out outlook calendars and work a month ahead of time. We make pizza on Sunday nights. I make the dough from scratch, use a 35 cent can of hunts tomato sauce with basil, oregano and garlic for sauce, and a package of monzerella cheese for $2 or so. Jupiter eats the leftovers for supper on Monday nights. Mostly at the moment she wants to eat pizza and fried rice. The trick with the fried rice is making the rice ahead of time so it's cold when I need to make the fried rice. We eat out rarely now, and if we do, it's McDonalds. No more trips to the noodle restaurant or the Thai restaurant. I eat plain oatmeal for breakfast instead of regular cereal or instant oatmeal. I'm trying to convert Jupiter over to regular oatmeal that we flavor ourselves, but she's attached to her instant stuff. I'll keep trying though.

Coupons. I'm doing coupons with a vengeance..trying to combine them with the sales to get really good deals. I had $12 in coupons my last big trip to Walmart. I cut them out every Sunday and they're always with me when I shop.

Over the summer, I made jam. I have about 24 jam jars in the freezer now (taking up all the space so I can't fit anything else in there) that I made this summer. So I think the jam situation is good for the year now. don't know if it was truely a cost saver or just stocking up ahead of time. And I gave my garden a true effort instead of just planting some seeds and waiting to see what would happen. And when we carved the jack o lantern pumpkins, I saved ALL the seeds from the pumpkins to roast for snacks. And I saved seeds to plant NEXT year. This is new. I also saved seeds from a butternut squash I bought at the store to try next year. Will it work? I don't know.

Mostly, I cut out unnecessary car trips. It takes all my gas budget to drive to work and back (though I bought gas yesterday and only spent $19!! YAY!!!!!) If I happen to go to Portland, we do ALL the Portland errands instead of breaking them up. I don't drive up to Conway or to NH to go shopping like I used to do. And even a trip to the Mall is much rarer than it used to be. Otherwise, we stay home, or in our town. And I don't cook as many of the ethnic dishes I like to cook. It's back to basics for us, for the most part, unless it's a good sale. Turkey is .47 a pound until Thanksgiving, and I'm going to get an extra and roast it for sandwiches and things. (can't put one in the freezer. It's full of jam still.) Over the summer, we did free things like playgrounds and state parks (I bought the state park pass with my tax refund and it travels with Jupiter, so whoever she is with can take her to the ocean or the lake.). This winter, it will be sledding and the pool at the local college. I bought a punch pass to get a discount..and if the right people are on the desk they only punch it once for both of us. I wonder if I can get them to give me the schedule......

So that's how we're cutting back around here...time to go to bed with my heating pad and a book. Oh yeah...I don't buy as many books. (this one is hard. I love books.)


I've been tagged on blog tag by FairieMama

Rules:. Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules.
2. Share seven random or weird facts about yourself.
3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post with their links.
4. Let each person know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

Here are my seven weird things (see if you can guess the theme!)

1. I love maps. Sometimes, in all my Free Time, I'll pull out the atlas (conveniently stashed under my couch. It's too tall for the bookshelf anyway) and check out some states, or provinces, or countries. Sometimes I imagine visiting or living in the places I'm looking at. I like to look on maps (have you seen google maps, by the way? I love google maps. And I can still see them at work. So far.) for the settings of my favorite books. Which brings me to weird thing #2.

2. I have some books I have reread several times. Maybe even more than several. Sometimes something I see or hear will a trigger a line I remember from a book, and I'll want to read it again. Some I read on a seasonal schedule. For example, I read From the Ground Up by Amy Stewart every winter when I'm desperate to go out and start gardening. I read An Embarrassment of Mangoes every Valentines Day or so.

3. When I was a child, I used to read the encyclopedia. I would pick a volume at random and read whatever looked interesting. In fact, I read about anything.

4. I memorize stupid things. Such as almost every line of the movie Hunt for Red October. Seriously. If you put the movie on mute, I can say almost every line. Including most of the Russian ones. My sister would not let me share my Russian Submarine knowledge when our translator Olga asked if we knew any Russian. I can do some other movies, but not as well. And in high school, one summer, an Irish friend who stated with us for the summer and I memorized the Lee Press on Nails commercial. I also know the He-Man theme song. And, currently, a large number of customer service phone numbers for banks and brokerage firms.

5. I think I may have lived in Montreal in a previous life. I couldn't wait in school to get to French class. I didn't get picked for advanced French, and expressed my displeasure by getting a 99 average all through French IV. And I don't get lost in Montreal. Except for one memorable time I forgot to pay attention, drove too far up University St, and got lost around McGill college, only finding my way out by sighting off the Olympic Tower until I found my way back to it. I know I inherited more than my fair share of the French Canadian side of the family, and I try to make a Montreal privelege every year. I planned to raise Jupiter bilingual in French, but she seems to have an affinity for Spanish.

6. I think I may be a bit fey at times. Not enough to pick the winning powerball numbers, unfortunately. Just enough to have an idea that something may happen and then it does. Like the time I was driving to work in a snowstorm, waiting to make a right turn, when I saw a truck a block and a half away, and thought "If he tries to turn here, he's going to hit me." He did turn and he did hit me. Shattered the drivers side window and everything. Honestly a true story.

7. I cause floods. Remember the big Flood of 1993 in the midwest? I was there. Specifically in Iowa, at college. Three years later, I'd moved back to Maine, and we had the Flood of 1996. I am thinking of renting myself out to drought stricken places. I'll just move there and it will rain and rain and rain.

I don't know seven people with blogs, yet, being fairly new to the blogworld, so I will tag the people I know with blogs here....


2. Haleine, my funny sister. Check back for the link because it's on my work computer.

3. Karen, my friend who always says "I need to start my blog again!" Well, now you really have too. You've been tagged.

Friday, November 14, 2008

A night on the Town

Well, a night at the mall, more accurately, but a night not at home, in any case. After I picked up Jupiter today, we went to the Mall (it's Maine. We only have one Mall.) to have supper with Jupiter's friend KK and her family. KK is about three months older than Jupiter, but has a summer bday so she is in Kindergarten this year, and the girls usually only see each other on Sundays at Sunday school. So at the Mall, they were very excited and instead of eating they rearranged chairs in the food court. It's been rainy this week, and full moon, and the kids are all, without exception, wound. In school today Jupiter's teacher says she was very physical, but was physical without hurting other children. Yay!!!

After the food court, we went to Dick's Sporting Goods. (Plan A was Open Gym at the gymnastics academy, but they've raised their prices, and it was sure to be crazy busy after three days of nothing but rain. The sports store is a good substitute for open gym. Until they come and take away the hockey sticks.) They have some kind of fake man on display. It's close to the heavy bags for boxing, so I suppose it has something to do with's the top half of a man on a stand. I believe the stand is supposed to be weighted so you can kick or punch or do whatever to Fake Man. Fake Man does not wear a shirt. Both girls went right up to Fake Man and do I say this....checking out Fake Man's chest with their hands. Rather extensively, it seemed at the time. AAAARRRGH!!!!!!! They're not even pre-teens yet!!! And I don't recall seeing anything like that on PBS Sprout. After a minute or so they did start puching Fake Man to death. At least when we went into Macy's Jupiter said to me "Girls are better than boys because they're more stylish." That's right. You keep thinking that until you're 28!

Just before we got back to our house, we drove past a church and the windows were all lit up, which on a Friday night usually means there's a wedding the next day. When I mentioned this to Jupiter, and asked if she was going to get married someday, she said "Yes. I'm going to marry Troy." Of course. Is there anybody else? She asked what I would do if she got married and I told her I would move to North Carolina. They have the ocean in North Carolina, and it's warm at least some of the time. Or I would move to Puerto Rico. Jupiter thought about this, and then she said "I think you should move to San Diego. I can't pronounce the other place you said. But San Diego is okay." I do not know where she heard of San Diego or how much she knows about it. But I've heard there's beautiful weather there too.

We didn't get home until 8pm, and when I finished reading the last story, at 8:30, Jupiter closed her eyes and couldn't open them again. Out like a light.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bonding in Boston

Yesterday Jupiter and I went to Boston.

We almost didn't make it. Jupiter was making some spectacularly bad behavior choices on Monday, at school and at home, and while I came close to taking away our trip to Boston, I invoked a different consequence and we went to Boston. It went really well and I'm glad we did. The Boston Children's Museum has a day in November when the Boston Ballet comes and does various Nutcracker ballet activities for the day. This is right up Jupiter's alley, although she's opted out of taking dance lessons for the moment. She still likes to listen to the music, watch the video, and when she's home, will dance to the music in fanciful costumes she contrives out of the materials in her closet. Last year, when I wanted to take her to this activity, I happened to check the museum's website the day before we left and it was cancelled. This year, it was still on.

We also went by ourselves. Jupiter has made several trips to Boston now, but I've always had a second adult go with us. It comes in handy when I want to do something like have privacy in a little bitty bathroom stall while not saying "Don't touch that! That's icky! Do NOT look under the walls at the other people! They want privacy!" Jupiter was a bit concerned, when we left, that neither Elmo or Totya were coming with us. But I also wanted to prove to myself that this was something we could do and it would be okay. Lots of parents bring their kids to the Children's Museum with only one adult.

And we had a great time! Jupiter was SO well behaved and so patient while standing in the huge line outside of the museum when we arrived, even though we got there right when we opened. She saw a big Obama sticker someone had put up on the fence and yelled "MOM! That's OBAMA! I know because he has short hair!!!" (I'm very proud.) We had to stand in line more to get tickets for one of the performances, but we were successful there too. (Best part of the performance, when the children were tug of warring over the Nutcracker and it broke into two pieces on the stage, and one of the boy spectators shouted "AWESOME!!!!!!" Jupiter got her picture taken with the sugar plum fairy and the prince, and listened to two minutes of the music show but decided it was too loud. Too many brass instruments too close to our ears. And despite the throngs of kids and the noise, she coped like a champ, and played on the boat and in the Arthur room and climbed in the giant three story climbing sculpture. (Kids love the climbing sculpture. Mom's stand at the bottom or at various strategic places on the stairway yelling "Don't go too high!!!!") I even got her to eat a bite of banana as she ran by, while I sat on a bench and watched her play. Just giving her a chance to do her own thing and experience something as long as she wanted too. And oh didn't she look cute in those little orange rubber fisherman pants she wore!!
After the museum, we had lunch at McD's in South Station. It was marginally less expensive than the Au Bon Pain at the museum. Then we rode the red train and the green train back to Newton where the car was. I had planned to take the commuter rail from Newburyport (since Amtrak from Portland was $60,) but we left our house about 14 minutes too late for that. So I park at Riverside station and take the T into the city. Jupiter loves the subway. I could drive her to Boston and just ride her around on the T all day and she would think it was wonderful. She picked up many treasures including a used scratch ticket, a Jehovah's Witness pamphlet written in Spanish, and something about Hell. Didn't get a close enough look at that one to see what it was all about or whose point of view it was. I like that we can go to Boston and she gets to feel comfortable on public transportation and being in the city. Sometimes we go down without a specific destination in mind, but it always ends up being a day of rushing to fit too many activities into too short a day. On the green line back to the car, Jupiter was affectionate and loving, and I was so glad we'd gone on the day trip, and even more glad we had the one on one time.

We got home at 6:15 and she was in bed and asleep by 7pm. The other great thing about going to Boston is all the walking. And stair climbing, if we go to Government Center. It totally mellows her out so the next day she's often more relaxed than usual. I was in bed by 8pm, too. Bonus!!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Funny things she says

Jupiter is funny. She doesn't always know it, and she's not always trying to be. But she's so completely outspoken at times that things she says are often hilarious. Her teachers actually report that she's always got them smiling with the things she says (a total switch from last year, btw. I never heard that last year.) For example, Saturday we're leaving a Christmas Craft fair, and she says "Mom? I love you." Pause. "Wait! I didn't mean to say that." Anybody have a guess what the proper answer to that one is???

Sunday night she was playing with a Spider Man action figure (Spider Man being the obsession immediately preceeding HSM) and in her Spidey voice said "I'm going to shoot you FingerMan and send you to Heaven."

The next one she didn't actually say, but it made me laugh so I'm posting it anyway. We're in Sunday School (she won't stay in Sunday school by herself. I'm not sure why, although I suspect that something in the basement Sunday school room environment with the painted walls reminds her subconsciously of the orphanage environment. In any case, she won't let me out of her sight, so I go to class with her.) and the teacher begins class by greeting the kids. "The Lord be with you." K answers "and also with you." Good job K! I pipes up "I'll go with you!" and then J adds "I'll go with you too!"

I know there have been more lately, but of course I don't have them written down here, so I will have to do a seperate post. And any time now will be the greatest day of the year. Thanksgiving? No. Christmas. Almost. The FIRST SNOWSTORM!!! (yay. I love snow.) When the first accumulating snow hits, I get a phone call at work that goes something like this:
"MOM!!!!!!!!!!! IT"S SNOWING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! IT'S SNOWING!! I'M GOING TO GO PLAY IN IT ALL DAY!!!!!" Actually, I hope it happens at school this year, her teachers will smile for a week. As long as they let her call me. It's the best.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Rocking to Sleep

Tonight, I rocked Jupiter to sleep.

I'm sure many people do not think this is an amzing statement. In fact, I'm sure many people would think it should read something like "Tonight Jupiter went to sleep all by herself." It seems like that is the parental goal; to have their kids go to sleep all on their own.

When Jupiter was a baby, nobody rocked her to sleep. She laid in her crib, and rocked her head or her entire body back and forth until she rocked herself to sleep. Rocking herself to sleep is her default setting. It's what she does. Even still, she rocks herself in her bed to fall asleep. Now she does it to music, and sings or makes up songs, and gives herself terrible bedhead, which is a pain to deal with because she also hates having her hair combed.

I always want to rock her to sleep. It's something I always imagined doing. But it's something she fights. Sometimes the more she fights it, the more she needs it. Lots of times I settle for a compromise, and we rock for five or ten minutes before she goes to bed. Sometimes two minutes, if that's all she'll tolerate. Sometimes, she's more receptive to being rocked in the morning, when I get her up.

But tonight, she didn't really fight it. She ended up being held in the rocking chair for screaming "I hate you!" at me. For something I don't even remember now. She whined about it, and begged to go back in her bed, but didn't fight too much about it. By which I mean she didn't try to bite me or scratch my face off. She whined a bit more, then snuggled down and lo and behold, went to sleep. So I rock her for 15 or 20 minutes, which is all I can manage before I fall asleep myself, and I'm very quiet, but inside I'm doing the victory dance. She let me rock her to sleep!!! Yipee!!!

I also spoon feed her oatmeal in the morning. Yes, she just turned five years old. Yes, she's prefectly capable of feeding herself oatmeal in the morning. But she lets me do it. She even wants me to do it. And as I told the social worker at the last post placement report, she won't want me to do it when she's 13. So I spoon feed her oatmeal. Happily, I might add. I hope that someday she'll want me to rock her to sleep too.

We went to vote today. Jupiter was very sad when I told her that I could not vote for Troy for president. Then she wanted me to explain how people get their names on the ballot so she could vote for him. The election results are starting to come in, and there's no way I can stay up to watch the whole thing. Sometimes, getting up so early is inconvenient. Sometimes, I would like to be able to stay up as late as grown ups.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Perils of dressing in the dark

So the other morning, I'm at work, and my cubie neighbor Hil happens to look down at her shirt. "Well look at that," she says. "I got dressed this morning and wore a pink bra under a light shirt." So I look, and I can barely see it, but I totally understand where she's coming from. Hil is a mom to twin two year old boys, and when we get up for work, we do it really early. Some people in my department come to work at 3:30 am. This is what life is like in fraud prevention. Much of our success rate depends on finding counterfeit/forged/stolen/notrealmoney/etc before our branches open, and the people come in and withdraw the funds. So we work really early for the most part. So when we get dressed in the morning, it sometimes involves trying not to wake up sleeping children or other household members. Sometimes we get dressed in the dark.

Not ten minutes later, I get up to go to the fax machine. While I'm there I look down at my shirt. Usually there's some sort of breakfast cereal on there (another result of working very early mornings. We go on breakfast break. Or eat it at our desks while getting the news fix, in my case.). Today, I happen to notice something else. I'm wearing a black bra. Under a white shirt. Fortunately it's a high quality Eddie Bauer turtleneck with a high percentage of spandex, so hopefully it's not so noticable that my coworkers think I'm trying to make a statement. I remember how I had planned to wear a black shirt, but had to change pants and in so doing changed my shirt to match the new pants. In the dark, because Jupiter was asleep in my bed.

Once, a few months after Jupiter came home, I got my work bag in the car, Jupiter's backpack in the car, Jupiter coated and hatted and in the car, and drove off up the street. About six houses away, I noticed I was still wearing my house slippers. I debated going home to change into other shoes, but since it wasn't raining or snowing, I opted just to go to work in the slippers, figuring it would be worth a laugh for my co-workers. Besides, they were very comfortable slippers.

Sometimes, I get really tired. You may have gathered that from the dressing mishaps. I think that all Moms are tired. It's part of being a Mom. They (the kids, not the Mom's so much.) wake up at 2 or 3 am, and go wandering around the house looking for the cat or looking out the window to see if it was snowing, because the weatherman said there was a 2 percent chance of a snow flurry on the news, or just call because they had a nightmare, and we get up and go and find them or try to comfort them, sometimes fall asleep in their bed or bring them into our beds. Or they get sick and can't sleep, and you do something really cool like give them a popsicle in bed in the middle of the night, and then you read the complete Anthology of Thomas the Tank Engine for a half hour. Today when I came home I had to take a nap for a half hour before I could pick up Jupiter and take her trick or treating. Mostly I even slept through the guy accross the river who is gearing up for the first day of hunting season by repeatedly shooting off something that sounds like a cannon. Sometimes when I'm having a conversation with somebody I forget in the middle of the conversation what we're talking about. I don't mean to be's probably just a mini nap.

Hil told me once that her husband doesn't understand how she can fall asleep one minute after she lays down. I never used to be able to do that. Now I can. It's totally a Mom thing.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A fried rice recipe for Karen

Fried Rice with Beef-The food and cooking of Thailand

7 oz beef steak
1 tbsp vegtable oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 egg
2 1/4 cups cooked jasmine rice
1/2 med head broccoli, finely chopped
2 tbsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp light brown sugar
1 tbsp thai fish sauce
ground black pepper

Trim the steak and cut into very thin pieces with a sharp knife. ( I usually just buy a small pack of stir fry beef from the grocery store.) Heat the oil in a wok or frying pan and cook the garlic over a low to medium heat until golden. Don't let it burn. Increase the heat to high, add the steak, and stir fry for two minutes. Move the pices of beef to the edges of the pan and break the egg into the center. When the egg starts to set, stir fry it with the meat. Add the rice (it works best if rice is cold prior to frying.) and toss all the contents of the wok together, scraping up any residue on the base, then add the broccoli (more cheating..I use the frozen kind and just defrost it under hot water before adding to the rice.), soy sauce (I cut the soy sauce a little because it is so very salty. Or they make low sodium soy sauce which you can try as well), sugar, and fish sauce. Stir fry for two more minutes. Season to taste with the pepper and serve immediately with chili sauce.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Jello buzz

Jupiter is in to sweet things. Pure sugar, candy, chocolate, you name it. Last Sunday I came out of the shower and found the ice cream scoop in the sink. So I ask "What did you eat with the ice cream scoop?"

"Nada," she says. She likes to think if she uses another language, she won't be in trouble.

"Yes, you did. What did you eat?"


"You ate yogurt with the ice cream scoop?" Never mind the fact that the ice cream scoop will not even fit into the yogurt container. So I open the fridge and count the yogurts. Fortunately I had one for breakfast, so I know how many there were before I got in the shower.

"You didn't eat any yogurt, because there aren't any missing from the fridge." Try again. "What did you eat?"

"Brown sugar." Now this, I believe. And sure enough, when I get the gladware container out, there's a big ice cream scoop shaped hole. And since I did not specifically tell her NOT to eat the brown sugar while I was in the shower, I can't do anything about it, other than to tell her not to eat the brown sugar. With anything. At any time. Unless I give it to her while we are baking. Which I did a couple weeks ago, and now see the error in that.

I don't know why she craves sugar so much. I don't worry about her weight so much at this point. She's strong and not what you would call dainty, but her BMI is fine. But it's like she HAS to have her sugar. She fixates on it if she knows its there, but she can't eat it right away. When she first came home, it was bananas. I used to have to hide them in a bag out of her sight, because if there were five on the counter, she would insist on eating all five of them. I read in one of the parenting books geared to adoptive families that sugar is instinctually very comforting, so maybe it's something to do with how her brain is hard wired after early deprivation. Maybe she just likes sugar a lot.

Today while I was at work I got this email from my sister, who was at the house with my parents and Jupiter. It says "Your daughter is hilarious. She keeps us on our toes." end of email. What can it possibly be? So I ask.

While Mimi was in the shower Jupiter helped herself to one of the jello boxes in the cupboard, opened it, and poured the jello powder into one of the wooden boxes she plays with. She hid the empty jello box and the wrapper behind the couch. She then took the jello powder upstairs to her room and put it in her bed. Then she told Mimi she was going to take a nap. (This is always a sign. Anytime she volunteers to take a nap, she's probably got something in her bed she's not supposed to have.) Then awhile later, she went to find B. She's all red. She tells B that its the leftover hair color from her hair. (try again.) Finally she admits to the jello theft. "But I wanted to make jello," she tells B. "I used slobber, because I knew I needed water."

the jello (or as someone from work called it, a giant box of fun dip) came off her skin and out of the sheets. I admire Jupiter's creativity, iniative, and resolve, all of which I am sure will serve her greatly in whatever career path she chooses. As I like to say, I don't know what she's going to do when she grows up, but she's going to be in charge of it. But it worries me a little that she's willing to go to such lengths just for a sugar fix. I spent some time at work googling (it amazes me they haven't taken away that function on my computer. Sometimes I run out of stuff to google.) healthy protein snacks which do not have peanuts or any kind of nuts. I will enlist the doctor to support me in my endeavour to reduce Jupiter's sugar intake. Of course, Halloween is coming up. She also loves Halloween. It's her favorite holiday. She gets to go around the neighborhood and people give her candy for being cute. She might like it even better than Christmas, though that could be a toss up.

On the bright side, Jupiter's sugar intake doesn't seem to be rotting her teeth. We went to the dental clinic at UNE this afternoon for a cleaning and flouride. There's a big hole in our dental benefits at work, we can either cover ourselves for $11 a pay period, or a family (of 2 or 14) for $26 a pay period. I decided it was cheaper just to pay the dentist for Jupiter out of pocket, since she wasn't likely to need multiple fillings or a root canal for awhile. So we hit the dental clinic today, which charged a very reasonable $17 for a cleaning and flouride treatment. The student hygenist said that Jupiter's teeth all look very healthy and not decayed. Then the instructor even looked at her teeth after. Jupiter got to bring home a new toothbrush, which made her happy. Once I bought her a new toothbrush at walmart, and she sat in the cart and announced very loudly "Thank you Mom for the new toothbrush!!!" I was afraid all the people around us thought that I never buy the child anything...though I'm glad she likes toothbrushes. They even gave me a new toothbrush.

There were a lot of families making use of the dental clinic today. One family drove two hours from NH to bring themselves and their children. There was another family of five, and one other really big group. What a wonderful resource for the community, and one I was grateful to have. If people drove two hours from another state to come, I can only imagine the number of people who need that particular resource and have no way to get there. Affordable dental care is hard to come by. And don't even get me started on medical. I'll just say I don't believe insurance companies should be making the decisions about what medical procedures I may or may not need. That's what doctors are for. The end.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Birthdays and BirthMoms

Today is Jupiter's last day of being 4. In a few hours, she'll be five years old.

How can this be, exactly? I remember waiting the long five months between trip one and trip two, and working on her lifebook, which is the adoptive family's version of a baby book. Lots of our kids are not newborns or infants by the time their forever families are formed, so a traditional baby book doesn't always work. Jupiter's has some scrapbook pages that I made, stories I wrote about her adoption process, a family tree ( I read a FRUA post a couple of weeks ago about a class that did a loving tree instead of a traditional family tree, and the kids could put all the people who were important to them on the limbs. I thought that was so GREAT.) and birthday pages. I did pages for her 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th birthdays, and I remember thinking when I did the last one how long it would be before I got to fill it in. And now it's tomorrow?! She's in her room at the moment, in her bed but not sleeping, because she's too excited about her birthday party to sleep. I just threatened her with not being able to go to school tomorrow and not bringing the special treats for her class snack. (a box of ice cream sandwiches for $1.25. What a great week for Hannaford to have their 125th anniversary sale. Thanks, Hannaford!)
So at the moment she's quiet. But not in bed, she just snuck down the hallway.
There are a couple of times a year I think of Jupiter's birthmother; as I aknowledge the gift she gave to me. Mother's Day is one, as it falls in May and is the anniversary of my departure date for trip two. The other is of course, my daughter's birthday. I wonder about her birth, what she was like when she was so small, and wish I could have been there for her when she was at her tiniest. I wonder about all the questions Jupiter will ask when she is more grown up, and able to see her birthday in the context of more than cake and presents? For now she doesn't ask much; she just accepts that she was born in Russia the way other kids were born at Maine Medical Center or Mercy Hospital. She did ask once whose tummy she grew in, when we were having our "what it would be like if I was in your tummy?" conversation. She's getting old enough now, to decide if she wants to tell kids she's adopted, and recently I have struggled to answer the people who just assume she is my bio child and mention that our eyes look exactly alike. I don't want to lie, but I begin to feel that it's Jupiter's story to share or not as she chooses. Of course I hope she will choose to share it. I am so proud of her as she grows up to be smart and beautiful, and works to control and positively express her boundless strength and spirit.

She's not going to bed...the joys of birthday excitement!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I'm back online!

Well, it's been an interesting week in my technological world. Last week about this time, actually I think it was Monday, but who can remember exactly that far back, I was online, checking blogs and getting ready to post, when I got a neat little message from AOL. It said, "Your ten hours of online time have been reached." What ten hours? The last time I checked, it was unlimited access. They did raise my rate from $9.99 for unlimited access to $11.99, or I assume they did because I got my credit card bill and it went up. But apparently, when the rate went up the amount of time I was allowed to use the internet went down. Then I checked billing, and apparently last month I went over my ten hour limit too, because my credit card bill was $47.

For several months now, I've been wanting to get rid of my dial up access anyway. If there's anybody out there who actually remembers dial up, well, I was the last person actually USING it. And it was actually getting faster, given that nobody else used it anymore. But the suprise from AOL did it for me. I swore that I would go to the Time Warner office and join the 21st century. That took a day, and I wasn't sure if I could pull it off because I thought I might need a loan for the installation fee. But if I install everything myself, it's cheaper. So I walk out with a cable modem and a DVR box for my tv set.

I don't really need the digital cable. But if I get the high speed internet, I have to get rid of my landline phone to compensate for the cost of the internet. That means Mr. Tivo will be out of service. And it's so convenient, I really do want to keep that. So I had to upgrade the cable too. when all is said and done and balanced out, it will only cost five or six dollars more, after I cancel the landline phone service and the AOL service (yipee!).

Another day later, I go to hook up the DVR box. I unhook Mr. Tivo (I am emotionally attached to Mr. Tivo, it turns out, and am a little sad about that.) and hook all the wires in to the DVR, turn the TV on, and I have a black screen. I push buttons. More black screen. I push more buttons. I get frustrated but refrain from saying bad words at the DVR box. Only because Jupiter is awake. Finally I call the cable people to see if the box is broken or if I got the box that the Forest Lake people have to use because their original cable is different than ours. The lady tells me to check all the cables. Then she says to point the remote at the DVR box and push the power button.

I would have felt less stupid if she would have said "Maam? Did you turn the box ON?" But in my defense, when the box turned on, it defaulted to channel two which isn't a channel that anything actually comes in on, so it would have been a black screen anyway. Now we have tv, which is great. I'm still feeling a little guilty about the number of channels we have now. It's certainly not a necessity. But I enjoy watching the smurfs. And the Jetsons. And so on and so on.

The next task was the internet. About which I know next to nothing. So that took a day and consulting with about everyone I know. I haven't gotten the road runner up and running (lol) yet, but I can use the explorer button to at least get on the internet. I need some kind of user id and code which supposedly I got at my local office when they gave me the stuff. Not so much. So Road runner is tomorrows task. Along with calling AOL to have them cancel my service. Which will be a great half an hour I will never get back.

The Red Sox are playing game 7 tonight.....I won't be able to stay up for the whole thing, or probably not even half of it...but they do better when I don't watch anyway. Lets go, Red Sox!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

How Jupiter got her Name

I feel I should explain how Jupiter got to be called Jupiter. At the Playground Village today, the Moms were talking about the trials of baby naming, and fighting with spouses over particular names. One upswing of being a single parent; I didn't have to fight with anybody about my daughter's name. I did go through a lot of names I wanted to use. But when I got the referral photo of a tiny blonde, blue eyed girl in a pink outfit, she of course came with a name already, being a year old. Then I had to go through the process of deciding whether to give her a new name, (which I was already struggling with choosing) or letting her keep the name she was given. I had to decide before I could fill out one of the 150 forms for Sverdlovsk Ministry of Education to complete the dossier. In the end, I decided to keep her Russian name, and to call her by a diminutive of that name which sounded American. We don't use her Russian name on a regular basis, to the point that when the social worker emailed me about the final post placement report, I looked at my inbox and said to myself "Who's Galina?" The baby home staff called her Gala, which meant that during the six months between trip one and trip two, I probably purchased 110 Gala apples. I chose Noelle for her middle name, not because it was a family name or anything, but once I had settled on her first name, Noelle flowed with it. Then, after I had filled out and submitted all the paperwork, I learned that my great aunt, who we have always referred to as Pearle, is actually Lena Pearle. If I had known, I might have chosen Pearle instead of Noelle.

Last year, when school was very tough, my daughter decided she was a boy. When she feels overly anxious, or theatened, she seems to feel safer pretending to be a boy, because of course all boys are tough and strong. She gave herself a new name when she needed to fall onto the safety of being a boy, so she chose "Jupiter. Like the planet." I have no idea why she chose Jupiter. Maybe someday she'll tell me. But everybody (except me, who could never remember) was very good about calling her Jupiter. Her Music Together teacher always sang "Hello, Jupiter, so glad to see you!" Her Music Together teacher's husband actually asked the teacher one day if someone in the class was really named Jupiter after I happened to leave a message on their answering machine. On papers and drawings and shoes, boots, backpacks, etc...we had to write Jupiter.

She is more accepting of being Lena now. She answers to it and is learning to write it at school. (and she wears dresses again!) I stuck with it for the blog because in my job, I'm big on security, so I give us all a fake name for purposes of the blog. And it reminds me of her strong spirit. So, that's how Jupiter got her name.

False Advertising

Jupiter tried a new yogurt drink today. She just HAD to try this yogurt, because it is High School Musical Yogurt, and the commercial says if you drink this High School Musical Yogurt, you will magically be transported to High School Musical World and thus be in the same place with real live TROY, who is the greatest being EVER.
Mimi tried to tell Jupiter that even if she drank the yogurt, she would not go to High School Musical World. Jupiter insisted that she would, because she saw it on the commercial. She is also a great believer in being able to will things as she would like them to be. Personally, Jupiter's viewpoint often reminds me of Rameses in Prince of Egypt. "If I say night is day it will be written." So, she is totally convinced that she will go to High School Musical World if she drinks this yogurt. She also concocted one of her elaborate plans so things would be just right. She waited til after lunch, sat on the couch, and took Mimi's hand so when she went to High School Musical World Mimi would go with her. So she drank the yogurt, and then had to come to grips with the fact that she was still at Mimi's house; sadly announcing that she didn't really get to go to High School Musical. Although she was willing to believe that it didn't work because Mimi didn't shake the yogurt enough before she drank it.
I suppose this is an object lesson for not believing everything we see on TV. Maybe it will even get her to stop screaming "I WANT THAT!!" at every single commercial on television. I hate commercials. But the whole experience broke Mimi's heart.
Incidentially, the version Jupiter gave me of this whole story was a little different than what I heard from Mimi. Since she didn't bring it up, I had to ask.
"Did you try some High School Musical yogurt today?"


"Was it good?"


"What flavor was it?"

"I don't know. She (Mimi) didn't tell me."

"Did you taste the yogurt?"

"Yes. But I don't know the flavor."

End of conversation.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Jupiter's Poetry

I have just been told that for her Helping Hand Day at school tomorrow (Show and Tell Day) that Jupiter is going to recite her own original poetry. I got her to share two poems with me just now, and am hurrying to type them before I forget.

Leaves on the Trees
The Leaves grow on the Trees
The trees grow in the ground
The seeds grow into blossoms
The blossoms grow into trees.
The children live on the Earth
The Earth lives on the children
The children live on the Earth
The Earth lives on the children.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Sick Day

Jupiter is sick today. It actually started yesterday, after church when she told me her stomach hurt. She told me this about 14 minutes after I snuck a drink from her water bottle. Later in the afternoon she complained of a headache and she ran a fever just shy of 100. Sometimes she plays, and sometimes she just cuddles on the couch under a blanket. Last night she woke up around midnight, comlaining that her head hurt, and so I gave her some more tylenol so she could go to sleep.
She stayed up for three hours. She was in a perfectly wonderful mood, singing, and reading books, and kept telling me she was not tired and didn't want to sleep. I of course, was exhausted (okay, so I stayed up a little too late trying to watch the Red Sox game) and did want to sleep, but Jupiter was having none of that. I tried laying down with her in her bed (after she decided she had had enough of my bed) but she just tried to kick me to death, so I left. Then I felt bad about that, so I went back in and read to her from her complete anthology of Thomas the Tank Engine, and Read Aloud Stories. Then about 2:45 we had peanut butter toast. Then about three am she finally went back to sleep. This is approximately one hour before my alarm goes off.
So I called out sick. I am fortnate in my options when Jupiter is sick. Since she goes to Mimi's house, she can go there sick or healthy and I can work or not. But since I was going to have had about three hours of sleep, I chose to stay home.
I thought Jupiter would stay home from school, but when she woke up I checked her temperature and it was normal, she ate her breakfast, and said neither her head nor her stomach was bothering her. So I let her go to school. I actually got to bring her to school, which was kind of nice to do for a change. Jupiter saw the fire trucks and saw the fireman put on all his "scary stuff" as she put it. Then I picked her up, and on the way home she told me her head hurt again. Back to the couch, and some easy block playing on the floor. Since I run around like a mad person all weekend trying to get the house remotely presentable, I didn't have to do lots of housework, so we hung out together most of the day. I like days like that, though I feel bad that it was at the expense of her being sick. Her fever went back up to just shy of 100 again, and when I gave her a chocolate cookie for dessert after supper, she didn't eat the whole cookie. She went to sleep at 6:30, so I figure she'll be up around 11:30.
One of the shows we watched this afternoon was A Baby Story, on TLC. Jupiter likes to watch the baby show; and I think it's good for her to see how babies are born. Today's episode happened to have a birthing tub, which produced a lot of questions and a pretty good view of the actual birth. Probably in a week or so I'll get an odd question at an odd time from her as she processes this.
A few weeks ago, we were pulling up to the gas pumps at Mobil when from the back seat, I hear "Mom? What would it be like if I was in your tummy?" So I had to hold off on pumping the gas until I could figure out what she was after with this question. I told her it was warm, and quiet, and you could hear the mom's heart pumping and sometimes noises from outside but they were very muffled. And babies in their moms tummies can kick their feet and suck their thumbs and get the hiccups. (which she thought was very cool." Then she asked whose tummy she grew in, and I told her her Russia Mom. Then she was done with the conversation for the time being. I do wonder where we will be when it continues. Stay tuned for updates.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

myriad ramblings

Well, Jupiter is asleep. She didn't have school today, but she got to visit kindergarten with Mimi. She got to go to recess and do kindergarten math. I have heard that she is very good at kindergarten math. This doesn't surprise me. As focused as she is on having at least as much as everybody else, an understandable perspective, counting is a vital skill. Then we went to the playground, but the tired hungry monster was trying its best to take over. Jupiter was doing her best not to let it take over, but I still heard a lot of "Jupiter did....." from her friend G. So we left the playground early so it would still be on a positive note.
We've been going to the Town Office playground once or twice a week lately. There has been an informal play group for several months now with lots of Moms, a few Dads on occasion, lots of brothers and sisters. Sometimes I call it the playground village. It's here that I first had hope, in the spring of last year when Jupiter was struggling mightily to get along at school, but could play nicely the majority of the time with her friends at the playground. I've learned that even when I'm dragging on a Thursday as the end of the week approaches, going to the playground village for an hour or two will revive me, even if I yawn nonstop for the first 20 minutes. It's here that Jupiter had learned a bit of what it is like to have a younger brother or sister as we borrow interactions from some of the younger siblings. It's here that Jupiter has actually seen how one can pay attention to and play games with a baby, and as a result she has allowed me to play some of those games with her as we try to fill in that developmental hole. It's here that, despite my inherent shyness, I have seen the benefits of being a part of a group where we all support one another. Some of the other kids play with me. Jupiter interacts with other adults besides me. I will miss it when the playground shuts down for winter.
Tonight Jupiter said "I hate you." Tonight I don't even think she said it to be mean. Or more accurately, she didn't toss it out in a fit of anger. It was more of a "lets see if I can get in trouble" deal. Sort of like putting the gravel in G's hair, throwing G's soccer ball over the playground fence, spilling a bunch of water out of the bathtub onto the already wet carpet. I didn't respond to her, just let her go to her room, closed the door, and went to wash the dishes and waited for her to make the first move. Which took awhile. Finally she called me, and I went in and she had decided to go to sleep, and said "Can you please (asking with respect!) close my shades, turn on my music, put it on repeat, and close my door tight." I just looked at her; and she asked again, more impatiently. I suggested that I might be waiting to hear something. She said sorry, and I asked her what she was sorry for. Sometimes she forgets by the time we get to the apology, or can't figure out which particular thing we're working on at the moment. She said "saying hate." I informed her that we can't say "I hate you" because it makes people feel sad in their hearts. We talk about feelings a lot this way; how we feel in our hearts. Sometimes she disconnects from her feelings in the same way she can't always feel what her body needs. Then, after this discussion, we finally got around to brushing our teeth.
But she didn't get to go right to bed. We had some rocking chair time first. Jupiter generally fights rocking chair time with a passion. Even if she truely wanted to be held, she would deny the fact vehemently. Sometimes I think the harder she fights, the more she needs to be held. Tonight was a token battle I think, she submitted fairly quickly to being held and rocked, although she did ask every two minutes when she could go in her bed. Sometimes we actually get to the sharing conversation we're supposed to have during rocking chair time. My goal is always to get her to fall asleep while we're rocking. That's pretty rare, but we're working on it.

We have a new cat. We got her on Saturday. Jupiter is excited about the cat. The cat is less excited about Jupiter, but has been amazingly tolerant so far. Tonight Jupiter was trying to poke the cat, who was sensibly hiding under the kitchen table, with her foam sword. But the cat let Jupiter pat her before she went to bed, and Jupiter came up to me with the big smile that means she's really really happy in her heart. I love that smile. On the way home from getting the cat, Jupiter said "Mom, I think we should name the kitty Autumn Leaf." So our Maine Coon cat is named "Autumn Leaf." Sometimes Jupiter amazes me with her ability to see beauty and verbalize it. Or choose a very poetic name for her cat.

The place of employment has blocked me from reading blogs. I wondered how long it would take before they did that. Now I have to read my favorite blogs (aside from Haleine's, who as the partner of an internet genius has a website which is not connected to a social networking site.) at home. So MimiX, I am still reading your blog, but I can't read it everyday like I used too. Same to FaerieM (who I doubt reads my blog, but hers is awesome. she is an amazing writer who evokes tears in me about every other post. And apart from this, it will make it harder to post my own blog, because I have to use "awake while Jupiter is asleep" time to read other blogs and catch up on FRUA happenings before I can post to my blog. But I'll try to do better.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Staff Selection Process

My job is going to New Jersey. It's something my area suspected for awhile, a long while in fact, which didn't stop anybody from being upset the fine summer Friday when they called up our boss and said to come down to the meeting room immediately. For the most part, we are very attached to our job function. We try to keep people from taking money that is not theirs, or from withdrawing money which doesn't exist in the first place. A lot of times, I only figure it out after it starts and we lose money anyway, which drives me nuts. It's been my job for almost six years, I'm very good at it, and I take a lot of pride in it. Most of us have been doing it for a long time. About a year from now, I'm going to be doing something else. I am not thrilled about that.
The official procedure, once it's been determined that your job in its current form will no longer exist at some point, is the staff selection process. It's changed back and forth a few times. We get some input. Which doesn't change the fact that I still want my job in its current form. But preferably with more pay. It doesn't pay well, and considerably less when I figure that gas has gone up about $3 a gallon since I started the job back in 2002. So I'm trying to transfer to an office closer to my house. Right now I'm waiting to see what, if anything, I will be assigned to when my current position is at an end. I hate the uncertainty, and the waiting. Although waiting to see what I will do next is somewhat better than waiting to find out if I'm going to be doing something else or not. And where I will be doing it. Right now the only certainty is the when. Meanwhile I keep looking for the bad checks. I will miss doing that when it's done. I just have to hope that the next thing is even better.

joys of home ownership

I would have blogged earlier tonight, but I had to paint my bathroom ceiling. Jupiter has a tenatively scheduled play date on Sunday afternoon, and I would like them to come again. Hence, the preperation. Any time I clean, of course, Jupiter asks me who is coming over. She got into the habit of asking during bi-annual to annual cleaning I did before post placement visits. Except for the last one, I guess since it was the last one. So anyway, looking at my bathroom through a visitor's eye, I decided the bathroom ceiling needed to be painted. Which it did. Now the walls need to be painted. I didn't necessarily have the proper tools for painting a ceiling, so I tried using a regular sponge. So there are a lot of drips on the walls. That's okay, the walls needed paint too. And there are drips on the rug.
Yes, I have a rug in my bathroom. Berber carpet, actually. It came with the house. My house came with a lot of great neat things. Some very old things, which I will blog about in a later post. And some unusual things, like a years supply of ziploc bags, and three plungers. It also has carpet in the bathroom. Great in the winter if you don't want to slip on a cold wet tile floor. But sometimes, not so great. The carpet doesn't need to be painted. It needs to be removed and replaced with tile. Jupiter is not always careful about keeping water IN the tub when she takes a bath. So, the carpet is wet, and growing icky stuff in spots. I dream of tile.
The tile, though isn't the problem. My tub/shower leaks. I recaulked it, so it's not quite so bad, but besides the leaky part, it's salmon colored. Absolutely stylish. About six years ago, a delivery company accidentally delivered a tub/shower and a toilet to my house. Left them in my driveway right in front of my garage door one day while I was in the shower. Before I could figure out how to get them in the house, the person who was supposed to receive said bathroom fixtures drove by and claimed them. Bummer. I could use a new toilet and tub/shower about now.
Speaking of the toilet, it's running. Constantly. Finally last night it dawned on me to turn the water off at the valve and just turn the water on to flush. I'm a little afraid of my water bill next month. I went to Walmart (under protest) this afternoon to buy a new flapper thing in hopes of being able to fix my own toilet. Nope. Bought the wrong thing, of course. In all honesty, I want a new toilet. (It's colored salmon too.) But why install a new toilet before a new tub and new tile? Other than to get everything at one time is expensive, especially given the price of heating oil.
Okay, I admit it, I cheated tonight when we came home. I turned the heat up to 64 degrees when we got home just to take the chill off. I've turned it back down to the bottom of the thermostat. I'll try again tomorrow to be good. Heating pads are wonderful things, btw. You can be warm even if the air in your house is Arctic.
So, the bathroom. I need a new toilet, new bathtub/shower, a new vanity top (it's not salmon. It's gold sparkle. The basin, however, is salmon.) And tile. Probably some subfloor too. Why not? May as well do your fantasy bathroom up right when you dream up your fantasy all expense paid trip to Lowe's.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

CommonGround Fair

Yesterday, we went to the Common Ground Fair. The fair is about an hour and 45 minutes away, and everytime I go there, something happens. The first time I went was a field trip in 8th grade, back in 198 whatever it was. 1985 or 1986. It's past my bedtime, and I can't do math. Anyway, we took two school buses, and somewhere north of Augusta on Interstate 95, our bus broke down. Dead as a doornail, on the highway, broke down. The bus driver tries in vain for a good long time to contact the bus garage by radio for another bus, but the short range radio is way out of its range. So the happy bus that was still running proceeded on to the fair, called the bus garage on the phone, and an hour after that another bus showed up to take us to the fair. We spent about 20 minutes at the fair, long enough to find a bathroom and get back on the bus to go back to school. When I told Jupiter this story yesterday, she very astutely announced "That sounds like a boring field trip." She was right. It was. It was very exciting on Monday when my regular bus came to pick us up for school and it reeked of rotting octopus because some enterprising field trip person shoved some in the bus heater on the way back from Unity. It's a long ride home from the fair. Remember this later in the post.

The next time I went to the fair, Jupiter was not quite three years old. We went by ourselves, and it rained. It rained and rained the entire time, until we were walking back through the muddy field to go back to the car. We did learn about apples and saw some animals, and Jupiter's favorite, the Native American drumming and dancing. They were inside a big tent. The Native American drumming was a very popular place. But not being one to enjoy being cold and wet, I didn't enjoy myself very much.

Yesterday, we got in the car a little after 9am. Maybe 9:15. Two minutes later, we stop for gas. We drive north to Augusta. The directions I printed out from the fair website have suggested getting off the interstate in Augusta, taking Route 3 east, then taking some state route back roads to the fair. So I try it. Mostly because I want to drive over the new big bridge over the Kennebec river. Which we do. Then we drive some more, and I try to turn left into a non existent road. This seems to me an odd place to put a left turn arrow. Here you can turn left to...two trucks loaded with firewood. Which I do actually want, but that's another post. I go straight and find the left turn I'm supposed to make and follow that road for a good long while, then ask Elmo, who is in charge of reading the directions to me, where I'm supposed to turn next. We're supposed to be on route 137, and we are, and we drive through a four way intersection that goes by very quickly, then suddenly it appears that we're still on Route 137, but we're amazingly driving West instead of East, even though I have been going straight on the same road the entire time. Then we're in Winslow. Winslow is not on the directions. A little while later I see a sign for Waterville. This is not good. I don't want to be in Waterville. Had I just kept driving north on the Interstate, we would have been in Waterville about 12 minutes after we left Augusta. Well, maybe 18 minutes. Certainly not the 35 minutes it just took us to drive it. Then I got lost in downtown Waterville for awhile, then Jupiter as to go to the bathroom. So do I. So we stop at McDonalds in Waterville. Jupiter wants a hamburger. I can't blame her; I'm hungry too. So much for local, organically grown food for lunch. So I get her a hamburger. Ketchup and pickles, no mustard.
Then we get back on 95 north. Now I tell Elmo to read the directions from Fairfield. He starts embellishing the directions, saying things like "drive over the bridge in Fairfield to nowhere, then past the cow field." He's being a very good sport about the fair trip. His first wish was to go to NYC and see Yankee Stadium for the last time. Instead he's spent all morning in the car being Jupiter's paper ripper, going to a fair that is a "celebration of rural living." Kind of a far cry from the Bronx.

This time, we don't get lost. We sit in the line of traffic waiting to park for a good long time. A very long time. Long enough to make me remember why the last time I came to the fair, I swore I wouldn't come back. We park in a hayfield with 5000 other cars and hike another 1/2 mile to the fair gate. A sign proclaims "Cell phones do not work here. Make other plans." The signs are accurate. Cell phones do not work here.

The Common Ground fair, besides being intensely focused on locally grown and organic foods, seems like an old time fair. There's no midway, no carnival rides, and no cotton candy. I love it. It reminds me of every spring, when I break out my Birkenstocks and wear them to work every day in a minor dress code violation. I love wearing my Birkenstocks. Maybe I'm supposed to be a granola in California. Or even just a farmer. But I love this fair. So does Jupiter.

We go to the childrens area. Jupiter enjoys part of a magic and juggling show, which is saying a lot. She had some specific plans for the fair, and none of them included watching a magic and juggling show. To spend her time on that without worrying that she wasn't going to do all the things she planned too, well, that's nothing short of amazing to me. So we watch Randy juggle and do tricks. He's good, he makes us all laugh. He makes the lady next to me who I don't know talk a lot about how good he is. I've met Randy before, but never seen him perform. The lady next to me is right, he's good. I"m impressed. After the magic show, Jupiter gets her face painted, which was on her list of must do's. She jumps into a big pile of hay. She checks out the other activities in the children's area, but opts to go see the Native American drumming. She has remembered going to this fair from two years ago and wants to see this again. This year, in the beautiful sunny weather, the drums are outside, and we watch for awhile while I eat a veggie quesedilla and Jupiter sips a strawberry smoothie. Then, while Elmo goes off to explore and find his own lunch, we go see animals. We see chickens, rabbits, cows and horses. Jupiter pats a baby donkey. Elmo comes back. He loves this fair. We see some oxen
pulling. We find a woman who is willing to let small children hold her baby angora rabbits. Jupiter loves this.
She uses very gentle hands with the bunny. Sometimes Jupiter struggles with gentle hands. the rabbit woman is very friendly and invites us back tomorrow to hold bunnies. Then we head back to the children's area. Jupiter pounds nails into a log with a hammer. She makes a hay bear. Actually I make a hay bear. It is not artistic. She does some clay art. She jumps into the hay pile some more. All of this stuff is so simple, and the kids LOVE it. And it's all free. Kids don't even pay admission for this fair. And all the activites are free. Then, as Jupiter is exploring the woods and lean to shelters, she needs to take a break, while vehemently denying her need to pee. If she's into something, the pee could be running down her leg and she would deny her need to pee. A brief battle ensues. Elmo promises she can come back to the woods. So we go pee, determining that portapotties are gross, and that little thing on the side is because boys can pee standing up. I can't imagine what people in the neighboring portapotties think of this conversation.
While we're actually paying attention to what our body wants, I make Jupiter eat something. It's been a long time since the hamburger. She eats a slice of pizza. She runs around the giant sundial, and I"m relaxed enough at this fair to let her get more than five feet away from me and run around the giant sundial. Then we must go back to the woods and the fairy houses. We stay in the kids area until 5pm when it closes, jumping in the hay a few more times. Jupiter wants maple ice cream (something else she remembers from two years ago) but the line is huge. Elmo takes her to the fire truck test your strength while I run through the farmers market. Jupiter is done with farmers markets. No ducks pond, no farmers market. I buy two heads of russian garlic to winter plant in my garden, and contemplate some blueberries, and ignore the headache that wants to take over my life. When I find Elmo and Jupiter, they have ice cream, but didn't get any for me, so while they eat their ice cream I go stand in the ice cream line, just in time to see them erase maple from the flavor list. Rats. I get mint instead. Maple would have been better. But Jupiter is quite willing to eat it for me when I get back, and we have to physically drag her out of the fair, which is closing anyway. But she had such a good time, and totally doesn't want to leave. I'm glad she did, and want to come back again.
More traffic. Lots of traffic. All the way back to Fairfield. In Fairfield my headache is so bad I am convinced that I will either die or throw up all over the car. Possibly both. I surrender the drivers seat to Elmo. Jupiter sits in the back seat, bangs her head against the back seat repetitively, and chants. She's tired. This is what she does when she's tired. Or stressed. I can live with the head banging, but beg her not to chant. I swear that I am never going to the CommonGround fair again. Finally she falls asleep somewhere south of Augusta. I tell myself it's only 70 more miles, but mercifully, I fall alseep too until we get back to Gray. We get home and Jupiter and I both go to bed.
This morning, Jupiter's face is red. As I recall, her face paint butterfly was not red, but purple. Turns out she wanted to be a swan and colored her face with red marker on the way home while my head was exploding. I don't panic, because I thought it was a washable marker. Nope. Not so washable. But God bless the people at church, all of them tell her how pretty (or stylish, if they've been prepped by me beforehand) she is in her fushia dress, purple and blue shirt, and purple and white tights, and fake pearls. No one mentions the red marker face.
Will we go to the fair next year? Too early to say. Maybe..