Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Exploring Farming

So we have been raising chickens for about a year and a half now--Hambone decided last April that it was time to teach the boys some responsibility so the poor chickens are our experiment in showing the boys what it means when you do or don't follow through on things. And being Hambone, we did not have a simple lot of 4 or 5 chickens show up. Instead we were blessed with 30 chickens all at once.

And of course when you live in the country and start talking about your thirty chickens, your neighbors who have chicken projects start donating their chickens to you. At one point we had a flock of about 36 running around in our yard.

Fast forward to winter, where there was a hungry mink in the yard and the flock dwindled to 12. This spring another dozen new chickens (plus two more from the neighbor) appeared in April like clockwork, thanks to the farm store.

The boys have really taken to the chickens, and while they still moan and complain about feeding and watering them, they've done a pretty good job. They sell a dozen eggs to the neighbors each weekend and earn a little money that way ($5 a dozen!) and all is well.

Mom watched all of this and at random heard from the local animal shelter that 100 goats had been forfeited. They were all pet goats, and Mom is such a big softie that she adopted two right away. They're pretty Nubian goats.

So why am I telling you all of this?

Well, Hambone and I noticed that the egg production of the chickens was waaaay down over the last week or so. like we're down from 12 a day to 3. This was a major conundrum for our boys' egg business. Then we noticed a black snake curled up in the corner of the hen house.  Being an environmentalist, Mom said "Just leave the snake in there, it's not hurting anyone and it's not poisonous. It can't even eat the chickens."  Meanwhile we looked for other solutions to the egg situation.

After a week of looking at possible other scenarios, Hambone went to the hen house to have a nice conversation with the snake about the eggs. When he opened the door, he noticed the snake was in the laying nest, curled around the eggs.

Hambone then chased the snake out of the hen house with a stick, and on its way out, the snake pooed an egg. Because Mom was against killing the snake (the idea was to bring the snake to Hambone's office to eat mice over there) Hambone used the stick to try to lift the snake into a bucket. When the snake was lifted up, it vomited out two more eggs.

All this commotion caused the chickens to flock around. They saw something food-like on the ground so they started trying to eat the puked eggs, and the goats seized this opportunity to rush into the hen house and start gobbling up the chicken's food like it was candy.

The snake was not cooperating with the bucket plan at all either, so Hambone was bending over, lifting the snake up in the air with the stick, and then right over the bucket, the snake made an artistic arc of its body so that it could not be placed into the bucket. Over and over, 20 times or so this happened. Meanwhile, the egg gorging and chicken food feast added a comedic level of chaos. Hambone's frustration at the entire scenario was the cherry on top.

This morning the snake is in the Tesla on its way to Rosedale, the chickens and the goats are reset for a new day.  Two more goats arrive this week to add just one more level to the fun.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Jeepers Creepers...

So my Middle Schooler rides the bus to school now, 45 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon, and he is receiving a Master's Degree in adolescence. Little Ham is physically developing a little faster than Hamslice and is besieged with curiosity and ideas about his body and... others' bodies.

Unrelated to the bus, Hambone and I decided to attend an event without the boys -- a 2 hour meeting with a church group.  While we're gone, Hamslice calls us many times, completely beside himself regarding Little Ham's use of my laptop computer.

We rushed home from our event and the boys were "already in bed" when we got home, so I looked at the browser history and search word history on my laptop. Sure enough, there were little boy queries about "boobs" and "sex people" and so on. They had discovered some pornography sites, which were handily stored in my history.

So what to do.

Well, Mom had 3 brothers growing up and she knows a thing or two.  And she is a fan of the theater.

Fast forward to breakfast, Mom comes into the kitchen all flustered with the laptop open to the worst of the pornographic sites that the boys had viewed the night before. I declared that the website had added code to my computer, and now this is the only thing that shows on the computer anymore and that I will need to do a FACTORY RESET to get rid of it. Then I just Left The Site Up on my screen all through breakfast, set on the counter right behind my face for all of breakfast.

Did I yell at them? No. Did I make threats? No. I feel like that was enough. I only wish I had the presence of mind to get a pic of their shamed faces as they poked at their shredded wheat.

(Then, of course, I changed the login to my laptop to keep them out of there forever)

Two weeks later, I get a call from school that Little Ham is using his school computer to show his classmates pictures of penises. The school asked if I had recommendations about how to handle it, and I explained about the situation above. The school followed my lead -- they took away Little Ham's laptop, replacing it with a desktop computer that he has to wheel around on a cart like the scarlet letter.

I said this was a great idea, and maybe they could also put a bell on it.

These boys. They have No. Idea. who they are dealing with. Mwah ha ha

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

New school year *Now with Pre-Teens*

The new school year has started off with a roar. Mostly the roar is me yelling at the kids to do their homework. Both boys (5th and 6th grade-- that's right! Middle school!)  have decided that homework and in Hamslice's case classwork too is "not their thing" and they just lie about it and don't do it.

Grades, of course, are posted online, so I nagged a little bit but mostly waited until grades were posted. And of course each boy was FAILING at LEAST ONE CLASS because they weren't doing their work. I got to say "I told you so" but to what end?

Little Ham was embarrassed and knuckled down to complete all his work and bring his grades back up. Hamslice is going down the road of total defiance and refusal to cooperate with anyone or anything.

I'm not sure if Hamslice is caught up in the 'middle school angst' or if there is a larger issue. We are bringing him in for an eye exam and also having him take SCAT tests to see if there are learning gaps to address. I mean... he is SO DEFIANT. I've seen a bad attitude from him before but this really takes the cake.

He's also struggling with our anti-technology stance (I know guys, the irony is obvious) and he is very resentful that we haven't given him a smart phone and that we don't allow video games at all anymore. But I can't help feeling that turning him over to technology to socialize and stimulate him is a huge mistake. What do game developers have to teach him about caring for others? About building character and developing a sense of humor? About learning responsibility?

I mean... once these traits are well developed in him, maybe he can get back to gaming but not as a substitute for growing up.

Hamslice, maybe someday you'll read this and finally understand why your Mom is such a jerk

Until then....

Monday, June 11, 2018

End of School Year Wrap Up

This is the last week of school -- Hamslice transitions to middle school after this week, and Little Ham will move up to 5th grade. Only one more year of elementary school left for this family, after what has seemed like a full lifetime of Parent Loop and endless in-class volunteering.

Little Ham ends the year with all A's and B's, because he is a cooperative soul at school, with a real desire to please and complete and total aversion to any form of hard work. He is smart enough to sail by without putting in any real effort, which is reflected quite well in the grades.

Hamslice, though, is like an asteroid trying to enter the Earth's atmosphere, even still. His grades throughout the semester see saw between A's and F's, not due to Hamslice's lack of ability -- instead it is based on his willingness to take tests. I am looking at his grades right now and see three entire tests in math that he just refused to take, so the score is Zero. Mind you, he is in the most advanced math, language arts and other classes, and I see the same pattern throughout. He won't test. He just thinks it's stupid.

In one of our meetings with the elementary school administration, the vice principal muttered under his breath, "That kid doesn't even need to be here." Hamslice is playing a whole different game than the other students. Probably a different game than you and me as well.

That's all great, but I wonder how much his separate, non parallel existence will interfere with the things he thinks he really wants out of life.

Let's see what middle school has to offer...

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


So about 3 weeks ago, my boys were in the back seat of the van, fighting over a stuffed animal and they tore the tail off. I put the toy in the trash as punishment. "If you can't play nice..." you know the drill.

Fast forward to today when I saw Little Ham playing with that same toy, beautifully repaired.
Apparently he took the broken toy out of the trash and then to school, where he told his best girl friend how mean I am. SHE took it home to her mom, who repaired the toy for my son. I don't know this other mom.

Now we have to go to this girl's birthday party on Saturday and deal with the super judge face that I know is waiting for me there. #momcantwin

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Seeing Clearly Now

As I mentioned in my last post (sorry for the super psycho lingo in that one, btw) Little Ham was getting new glasses. They arrived on Tuesday, and for the first time in his life, Little Ham can see 20/20.

Little Ham has no memory of ever being able to see, and it has had behavior consequences in school and at home (IE: refusing to read,  standing up in front of the TV, etc). As we were leaving the eye doctor, he listed off things he can see now -- birds in the sky, blades of grass, texture in rocks, and of course, wrinkles on Mom's face.

He continues to talk with amazement about the things he can see, even several days later. He talks with wonder about how his eyes hurt when he takes his glasses OFF. His biggest discovery so far is that news print is made of just tiny dots if you look close enough at it.

I am so happy and sad for him at the same time. I am very happy that he can see now, and that he understands good vision even looks like. At the same time, I ache for him that this has been a years-long struggle for him and nobody has been able to help him until now.

During earlier eye tests he would trigger out about somewhere during the exam, and just stop answering the questions truthfully after he triggered. His prescriptions came out completely wacky after this half-participation/hostility/lying. Little Ham said his first pair of glasses was so off that he could not see to walk.

He admitted that my going into the exam room with him helped to keep him calm and focused through the exam and helped him answer truthfully to questions about what he could/couldn't see in the eye tests. And I wish that I had been able to be there for him earlier. More often. Always.

But we look ahead, not back. Things are ok now and will only get better for him. I just need to remember which way to turn my eyes.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Where we began

So now that I'm all sentimental about how far the family has come, I wanted to share where we came FROM. When Little Ham arrived, he was diagnosed with this: RAD (if you have time try to read this, it's a lot)

We believed that he had RAD, but also didn't... because we couldn't get our heads around what RAD was or what it would mean to our family. I must have read that page 100 times, looking for clues for us and coming out with a general sense of hopelessness. "HOW CAN YOU DEAL WITH SOMEONE WHO DOESN'T UNDERSTAND THE PASSAGE OF TIME?"

Once he arrived. we didn't have much of a chance to look back at the article, it's the only one we've found that really lays out the IWM.

This week I looked back at it. Little Ham had a giant dose of the anxiety, omnipotence, hyper-vigilance, scarcity, and dissociation. His emotional regulation was undeveloped, and he was very temporal. Basically the whole article with the exception of Indiscriminate affection applied to him quite well

We have been able to make significant progress with memory, hyper-vigilance, scarcity, Dissociation, Victim-hood, Temporal experience, Integration, language discipline and Consequences, adult attention, Discipline and Consequences, and boundaries. We still struggle with  emotional experience, Information and Power, and Nuisance behaviors. Oh the Nuisance behaviors.

Here they are, clipped from the article. You can see where they would be problematic:

Information & Power:  Information is power and AD children know this very well.  They will go to great lengths to control the flow of information about them in order to maintain their power to manipulate others' image of them.  AD children give out very little real information about themselves, for they view that as giving their power away to others.  Telling the truth, therefore, is to be avoided as a matter of policy, and adult urgings to do so can be seen as attempts to steal the child’s power because the adults want it for themselves.  Much of the fabricating of AD children is intended to keep adults confused about what's real and what isn't.  When asked questions, AD children often stall by “playing dumb” or “forgetting”, hoping that the adult will get impatient and give a prompt or clue around which the child can fashion an answer that will please the adult while giving away no information. 

Nuisance behaviors: These are frequently occurring, more minor behaviors such as interrupting, noisemaking, asking excessive questions, or relatively incessant chattering that serve multiple purposes: 1) disrupt the simplest of everyday interactions and block relating, 2) ongoing reminders that the AD child is not under the adult’s control, 3) nonstop chattering diverts awareness into left hemisphere language functioning and away from right hemisphere affective awareness (true of excessive verbalization in general), 4) discharge anxiety, and 5) probes the external environment to acquire information about the situation.  From adults’ reactions to these “behavioral probes”, AD children begin to piece together who is punitive and who is supportive; who will respond and who will ignore; who is more structured and who is more lax.  The child with AD is likely to use the responses to his probes to figure out how to “manage” the adults.  

We've been dealing lately with Disassociation in that it is not possible to get Little Ham to tell the truth long enough or consistently enough to get a glasses prescription set. Half way through he shuts down and starts simply grunting or answering "yes" to all the questions, and he then gets glasses he can't see out of. We are now on our third prescription, after he JUST  NOW failed the eye exam at school. so we aren't sure if he was disassociating during the school exam, or during the main eye exam or what. We have an appointment next week for yet another prescription...

Dissociation:  To protect themselves from their own own threatening feelings, AD children learn to dissociate or disconnect themselves from their own experience in the present moment.  Their selective perception is so well honed that AD children can appear to almost shut down parts of their brain in ways the average person cannot comprehend.  Experience itself is erased from consciousness as though it never happened.  Threatening questions, as well as any possible answer that might have immediately arisen can be obliterated right out of awareness.  AD children learn how to move and hold their bodies so as not to trigger physiologically stored emotions and memories.  This primitive denial is beyond the reach of conventional forms of treatment and is a major reason why such treatment tends to fail with AD children.  Overall, this dissociative response is made up of many different tactics including: increased distractibility and fidgeting (can look like AD/HD);  becoming confused; circular answers; vague or contradictory language; inaudible or unintelligible speech; loss of short-term memory; shutting down one or more of their sensory processing systems so they literally don’t experience their own sensory input (can look like learning disabilities except that processing can improve dramatically as attachment  develops); immature and/or faint tone of voice;  loss of eye contact; bodily preoccupations (picking at skin, scabs, bug bites; fingernail chewing, itching and scratching, hair twirling, aches and pains, repetitive movements, playing with fingers).   

 But, we soldier on. It took about a year to even understand that these were RAD behaviors, and now we work on omitting them using behaviorism and modeling. Still more years of work ahead of us, but also so much progress.