maximum redundancy

16 09 2010

Maximum redundancy is a good thing.  Not only in data storage but in parenting… which is weird.

I say a lot that kids need to be more like computers.  Computers may speak a foreign language, but it’s easier to learn and it doesn’t care if you’re having a particularly crappy day.  Computers act in predictable methods depending on input.  Good data in, good data out.

Kids are more like “good data in, good data in, good data in, GOOD DATA IN, GOOD FREAKING DATA GOES IN, DAMMIT GOOD DATA FROM MULTIPLE USERS ALREADY!!!”

The odds of good data out and bad data out are 50/50.

User error has very little to do with what the kids end up doing.

Then, this week, my main server got a virus and reminded me that computers are more like children than I thought.  It wasn’t a regular ole get caught in the strainer virus – it infected the virus software itself.  Now every time I load or try and connect to a virus or mal-ware scanner it kicks itself of the internet.  Everything works FINE until a virus software runs.

The original software to get eaten was Avira.  Fail.  The virus even latched on to the uninstall exe.  Next was AVG.  Fail.  Windows security.  Fail.

I had 1.5 TB in that machine and now all are being quarantined in a cardboard box until I figure out what this shit did.  I pulled all the essential data off onto flash sticks and those went into the cardboard box too.

The moral of the story is that it’s OK to be OCD when it comes to your computer stuff.  You’re the only one who cares that you have 50 flash sticks with different info (and the same info) on each one.

Next I’m going to update everything onto another set of flash sticks and put them all in my fire safe with my birth certificate and marriage license.

If that wasn’t enough geekery, read on.

Why flash memory?

CDs and DVDs don’t hold as much information and the burn process (and surface) are easy to SNAFU.

Portable hard drives have a disc inside that can be shaken and broken.  (Try it.  It’s possible no matter what the geeks at the Apple store say.)  I have a flash stick on my keychain that has 800 ebooks on it.  It’s pretty hard to kill.

Flash on a USB 2.0 is universally compatible with all OSs and most machines.  It also plugs into quite a few car stereo systems, most video game machines, TVs, WD TVs, your mom…

Small amounts of data on separate but redundant sticks reduces the chance of a bad file killing all the other files on the memory.  If it does happen, the data is still safe elsewhere.

Flash is relatively inexpensive.  Target has some toys with flash memory inside that are $15 for 4G.  They’re also skateboards.

Skateboards with flash drives.

The world is a better place for that.

As for the kids… all I can do is keep on repeating!

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the magic show

10 06 2010

Yesterday, as part of the summer reading program at the library they had a dude come in and do a magic show.  It was great and the kids really loved it.  I came away with different thoughts about each of my babies from watching them.  It’s a sense of pride to see them interact with the mass public and know that I had a lot of influence on how they interact.

Today is the 1 year point of our kids’ adoption.  For one year, they have been forever OURS.  I love that watching them interact and respond to things, I see Shaun and myself.  They’re listening and growing and they are part of us.  Our little family of 5 – we’re US.

LJ sat in between Chickpea and E.  He smiled when something was cool and he would lean forward and plug his ears with his fingers when the little kids would laugh and scream.  He doesn’t like large groups of people and I don’t blame him!  Afterward, he sat in a chair, expressionless until all the people cleared out.  When only a small group was left, he got up and started playing with the other kids.  He didn’t freak out or cry, he didn’t show that he was scared, he just pulled into himself until he was comfortable.  I was so proud!

Chickpea was totally immersed in the program.  She would sit up on her knees and stare at the magician without blinking.  She was looking to see if he was doing it “right.”  When he did something funny, she roared with laughter right along with the other kids.  At one point she raised her hand like she wanted to ask a question.  She noticed EVERYTHING and studied everyone and everything around her.  A couple of times, she turned around and searched the sea of grown ups for me and smiled when she found me.  God, I love that little girl!

After the performance she asked if she could go talk to the magician.  It worried me but I said she could and asked what she was going to say.  She said “he said his baby magic wand didn’t have any magic – but IT DOES.  He shouldn’t underestimate the baby just because it hasn’t finished magic wand school yet.”

I wanted to laugh so badly but she was so serious!  She went up and scolded the poor man while I’m having flash backs to my childhood where I was just like that.  It made me smile when I realized the magician was picking obvious pre-school students for his volunteers.  They’re less likely to be like my kid.

E is the world’s biggest pre-schooler.  He’s starting Kindergarten in the fall.  He’s 4 foot tall and almost 70 lbs.  He still moves like a very young kid – all awkward and sort of floppy.  He doesn’t have that grace that comes with growing older.  He has such a charm about him – he collects grandmothers like its a hobby.  He’s all big eyes and toothy smiles with that little kid innocence and it’s almost impossible to not squeeze him.

He’d rather charm the people around him than watch the show, but yesterday he got into it and laughed and pointed with the rest of the children.  After the show, he was jazzed up.  He didn’t calm down until right before bed time.  He didn’t care about telling Daddy every line of the show – Chickpea does that part with input from LJ – he cared that he figured out how to make his markers “splat” if he smacked them on the paper really hard.

Before dinner, he was laughing at something he thought was funny and just rolled in the floor and laughed.  None of us knew what he was laughing at but it’s impossible not to laugh at him.  Pretty soon we were all cracking up laughing at absolutely nothing.

E is the maker of chaos and disaster where order and peace were.  If everyone is quietly reading or playing a game, he’s the one throwing couch cushions with deadly accuracy.  If no one is playing with their food at the table he whispers to Chickpea “throw a chicken nugget at me, it’s funny.” He knows all his letters and numbers and can read and write, but he won’t do it if he knows he’s being watched.  How do I know?  Later, I find a picture of a fish with teeth drawn in his minimalist fashion and underneath it says “pirana etes met.”  I can hear him count to 50 through the wall but if I ask him to count to 10 for me, he leaves out half of the numbers.

I can’t be mad at him because it’s funny!  He’s going to be a hellion in school but I know he’s absorbing the information somehow.  He just doesn’t feel the need to show anyone.  He’d rather be funny.

Then I have to tell him that if he’s going to be BAD, he needs to do a better job at it!  There’s this pesky thing that’s called evidence that shows me the truth of who has been doing science experiments in the bathroom.  If he’s the only one soaking wet and smelling like Purell, then I know who did it.

I have to say that I’ve been wondering lately if it was a wise decision to adopt them with as sick as I’ve turned out to be.  I didn’t know it was going to be like this when we started but again, hindsight and good vision and all that.

I was afraid yesterday that I wouldn’t be able to get off the floor where we all were sitting to watch the magician.  I had taken my meds before we left the house but still, my body was screaming at me 10 minutes into it.  I was trying my best not to cry.  I was trying my hardest to enjoy the show and ignore the pain and the people bumping into me and squeezing in closer.  I was trying to breathe through the raising temperature of the room.

But I watch their faces – their body language – and I know that Shaun and I did this.  We made their lives fulfilling and opened doors and opportunities that weren’t possible.  This is worth it.  Even if they have a sick mom and a mom who can’t do certain things, they have a mom who is PROUD of them and who wants the best for them.  They’re strong enough to work through the rest.





spa at home

3 06 2010

Last time I was at Best Buy I was avoiding the salespeople who wander the floor (as usual) and I found myself in a back corner where the computer speaker sets were.  I had been looking for a new set since my Logitech ones bit the dust and the Sony set I bought to replace them sucks balls.

I found something that quickly has become my favorite possession – the Bose Companion 2 speakers.  It has no external subwoofer (which I love) and they sound AMAZING.  I have thoroughly enjoyed them.

Last week I got a “Relaxation Music Collection.”  I really needed some white noise.  Our walls are thin, the house is small, my kids are big and they’re all loud.  Anyway, it’s different types of music based on your mood set to nature sounds.  I really like the summer creek one* because it’s mostly birds chirping and makes the doves think they’ve got an audience.  They’re so cute!

Today has been A Rough Day.  I woke up about 3 this morning hurting so badly I couldn’t lay down, then Shaun discovered the cars had been broken into.  The kids were BAD all day, my heating blanket died, and the pain would not stop no matter what meds I took.  (Later the doctor did get me a muscle relaxer so I’m waiting on that to kick in.)

After lunch, I put the kids down for nap.  I kicked all the animals out of my bed and I cranked up my summer creek MP3.  I turned off all the lights and closed the curtains and crawled in between the sheets.  Then I pretended I was at Chateau Elan in one of the facial rooms waiting on my treatment.

Can you believe I slept for 30 minutes?  It was so nice.  So, so nice.

Then I woke up to a kid banging on my door.  They had to go to the bathroom.  The bathroom they walked past to get to my room.

But I slept for 30 minutes in my little home spa!  Score!

*It’s also great because it makes my bladder work.  Peeing without pain is so satisfying!  Pro tip: drink lots of water, listen to creek noises.





3 weeks

23 02 2010

3 weeks is how long it’s been since I’ve posted.

That’s because the past 21 days have been FUCKED. UP.

So instead of posting, I’ve been escaping into books.  Christine Feehan, Alex somebody or other, Kay Hooper, Richard North Patterson have all been on my  reading list lately.  Now most of them are in the bathroom floor because I normally read in the tub.

My bathroom looks like this: dirty laundry, dirty laundry, basket of soaps, stack of books, stool (the kind you stand on), stack of books, basket of bubble baths, books… It’s a really tiny bathroom too, so most of the floor is taken up by a big bamboo rug so it’s not like the books are TOUCHING the floor.  They’re just sort of near it.

It’s not gay unless balls are touching, right?

Reading is my drug basically because if you need to escape from life, no one will yell at you for reading.  People are SUPPOSED to read!  It makes brain cells instead of destroying them.  Right?

On the reasons for needing an escape, it’s pretty much because life has sucked balls for a little bit.  It’s all working out now and it’s all ending up to be for the best but as all of us parents of special-needs children know – everyone wants a say in how you parent your kids.

I’m trying to decide how much to share. While I firmly believe that my life experiences could help someone who needs to know they aren’t alone, I also need to make sure the family is safe and doesn’t feel embarrassment or shame.

3 weeks ago Chickpea went through a panic stage.  We know what the trigger was – there’s a teacher who she got abnormally attached to who went to have surgery.  Suddenly, that security blanket she had at school was gone and she started having a series of panic attacks and she self-harms.  Then things got blown out of proportion by the school and we ended up having to be scrutinized by DFCS again… just like when we were foster parents.  I may as well just keep writing the reports that we used back then so that when they want to call on us I already have all the paperwork ready. *rolls eyes*  Here I thought we were regaining some privacy.

The past 3 weeks have been spent in therapy dealing with these things – what was just  series of flashbacks in one of the kids has now turned into a totally new trauma for all 3 that threatens our “forever family.”  (Like my kids believe in forever… yeah, right.) Thank God for the kids’ treatment center because they were able to give us advice and make sure the damage to the kids’ was minimized.

It still causes all these… emotions… in me that the kids had to go through this AGAIN.  Fear, panic, shock, anger, more fear, stress, grief,  more fear, and then whole lots of fear.  I just feel so unsettled like maybe I’m the crazy one in this equation.  Then when other things that have nothing to do with these events happen, it just turns into the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Migraine?  *SOBS* Problems with my parents and siblings? *SOBS* Shaun had a rough day at work? *SOBS* It’s going to snow? *SOBS*

Everything now really is looking up.  The mail-order pharmacy finally got figured out and mailed me a 90 day supply of my medication.  I visited Best Buy to pick up some stuff and ended up leaving without being mad at the employees and with the stuff we needed to get. I got my Levenger order and I’m setting up daily diaries for the kids.  I have plans with my mom to go to a ballet with Chickpea and everyone is very excited.

And I’m ready for the next Kay Hooper book in this series.  Sanity is good so I’m going to try and hold on to it.  Bibliophilia saves another brain!





going to Kindergarten

21 01 2010

So, remember the whole purple handprint on Chickpea’s face thing I talked about last week?

Well, all week we’ve been “following up” on that. It turns out it was the kid who sits across from her in class (who all sit right next to alleged broken computer) was the one that slapped her.  Now, did she start the fight or get in her own hits?  Probably.  I know my child and she’s a ninja.

I’ve talked to the vice principal, emailed back and forth with the teacher, cc’d the entire crew (teachers, vp, principal, Shaun) and finally the teacher said that maybe I should come visit the classroom.  The time she picked was the EXACT time that the bell rings at LJ’s school to let out and wouldn’t I like to help with the pinata party?

Let’s take a time out right here.

1.  Ms. Teacher Lady knows I have 3 kids in 2 different schools because the school A goes to can’t support LJ’s special needs.

2.  Even though A does not need the same therapeutic needs as LJ, she’s still classified as handicapped and we have a dietary order in place as well as a safety plan just in case she has a flashback.

3.  Dietary needs = very low sugar because something in the sugar seems to trigger the part of her brain that thinks she’s starving.  Seriously, 1 bite of cake triggers hoarding and stealing so we have to be sure that if she gets sweets, she’s supervised and monitored very, very closely.  Since snack time is literally 10 minutes before they get out of school, I asked that I just be allowed to feed her at home and that they give her computer time or library time.

4.  The teacher and I do respect each other but we have a few problems with communication.  I don’t speak a lot of Spanish and she doesn’t speak a lot of English.  Secondary to that, we have cultural and generational… challenges.

5.  I’m special needs myself.  I pretty much can’t plan when I’m either going to have a bad pain day or a bad OCD day.

OK, time back in.

I have QUESTIONS.

1.  What’s in that pinata?  I know how this works – kids smack something with a stick and candy rains down on them.

2.  How does this sound like a good idea?  Let’s put 30 kindergartners in a small room with a paper mache animal, a stick, and tons of candy.  Then, let’s put my daughter in the middle of it.  I know how this story ends – the pinata breaks, kids rush in, my daughter grabs the stick and starts smacking kids to stuff the pockets of her uniform full of candy.

3.  How are we going to talk while all this is going on?

It turned out not to matter because I ended up hitting a 10 on the pain scale that day and I laid in the bed and tried to breathe very slowly.  So, Shaun went.

He said it went well – that the teacher had apple slices for Chickpea laid out next to the snacks and that the pinata had toys in it as well so he was able to confiscate the sugar.  Afterwards, they talked and when I was finally able to understand what they had talked about, I decided I probably did need to go in and talk to her myself because I had questions and apparently she doesn’t like email.  (That’s fine, I don’t like people so we’re even.)

The first thing I caught upon was that I wonder if they really think parents LOOK at their children’s report cards.  I know that when I sat behind a desk for a living that we pretty much assumed no one read their email, so I’m guessing they were really surprised that Chickpea HAD gotten in trouble over her report card.

The main point I wanted to address was not so much that she had gotten into a fight but that her response was to automatically accuse me of it.  We’ve been thinking for a while that there’s some sort of attachment disorder going on and she has been bringing up lately that I’m her 8th Mommy.  So, while I understand kids scuffle at school and really don’t care – I do need to know if she’s saying stuff like this so we can address it with her psychiatrist and therapist.

I still haven’t recovered from sitting in the lobby of a “mental health hospital” with a suicidal 4 year old after a very under-trained caseworker set off a series of flashbacks which ended up in her being sedated (because the hospital was full) and an investigation into our home.  It finally ended when I broke the chain of command within the system and wrote to the Governor himself.

You want to talk about the worst few weeks of my life?  I’d rather have an epic migraine.  So when I talk to the school about needing to report stuff like this, I’m not over-reacting.  I’m taking preventative measures. Besides, they say they’re very well versed in how to deal with children from foster care (such as incident reports, etc…) so not reporting this kind of bruise to me or Shaun is startling.  We’re finalized, so while we don’t need the form filled out, a phone call would be nice.  Ya know?

Anyways, back on track – yesterday was a fairly good day as far as my pain level goes so I figure I’ll drop in and help out with snack time and talk to the teacher.  I take time to look semi-grown up – I have on jeans and a t-shirt that has a cute cartoon on it.  I’m wearing make-up and jewelry and my hair is up in barrettes.  I give the boys both a sucker so their hands and mouths will be occupied.

The teacher is out sick, lo and behold, gone for her pre-op appt and the class have a very young substitute and a male volunteer, also very young.  Chickpea has a bag of animal crackers and is stuffing them in her face so fast the first glimpse I see of her she looks like a chipmunk.

I force the smiles even though the back of my head is going WTFWTFWTFWTF like a choo choo train and we sat in the back of the classroom while they wrapped up their day.

I sat in the back of the classroom and had an epiphany.

My child is not the problem child in her classroom.  There are about 8 other kids in there who were actively being bad as fuck while the rest of the kids were somewhere between doing what they were supposed to do and wandering aimlessly.

One of the kids is at the whiteboard pounding on it yelling “I want to watch the pirate video!”  One says to another “holy shit, that lady has tattoos and that means she’s dangerous.”  The other says “nuh uh, stupid.”  Three are spazzing out like crackheads in the middle of the room.

Then the bell rang and everyone started lining up in the hallways to go to the buses, after school, or car rider lanes and the scene is exactly like the fire drill scene in Kindergarten Cop.

Actually, it was a lot like Kindergarten Cop.

This may explain our communication differences quite well.  I tend to not like movies where kids act like little shits (Parenthood, Home Alone, That Rotten Little Fuck that Vomitted on the Carnival Ride) so I’m totally expecting too much from my personal little shits.

In comparison, mine are qualifying for sainthood.





telling abuse related behaviors from age-related behaviors

11 12 2009

One of the hardest things for me to do is to tell the difference between behaviors that the children have because of the abuse they went through and just their natural personality and age based behaviors.  There are some things that are pretty obvious.

Climbing the counters to steal candy off the top of the fridge – age related behavior.

Grabbing a kid’s crotch at school – abuse related behavior.

Breaking toys when mad – age related.

Smearing poo on the walls – abuse related.

But what about the other stuff?  Things like acting out for attention, being a know-it-all, and competing with siblings and other family members for attention.  It could be related to an attachment or anxiety disorder or it could just be that’s how they are naturally.  (I know plenty of grown-ups who are know-it-all attention whores and I’m sure they were born that way.)

It’s hardest with Alyssa because she is so much like me but also so much unlike me.  She considers herself a small grown-up who has what it takes to take care of other people and who believes that grown-ups need to earn her respect.  That’s all just like I was as a child.

Then she also refuses to do her work at school or learn things just for the fun of it.  She’d rather make friends and play at school than do her part.  That is so unlike me – I always wanted to please adults and impress them with my mad knowledge skills.  I took control by exceeding all expectations.  She takes control by manipulation then acts out when people don’t comply.  I’m a perfectionist and hardest on myself.  She seems to believe that people should just give her stuff because she’s adorable and smart.  If I wanted something, I would figure out how to get it.  If she wants something, she just takes it.

So how do you tell?





flaming out

20 11 2009

I’m giving up on NaNo.  It may be that I’m pissed off there are only 10 days to go and I haven’t written a single word on my supposed NaNovel in the past 5 days.

I’m on day 11 or 12 of this migraine (because time is now irrelevant) and that means I flamed out around 6 or 7 days into it.  Also, there is something very honest about pain.  It makes you sort out priorities.

I love to read.  Love it, love it, love it.  Actually, I should say I love to read books that I like. Many of my favorite authors are still writing books and every so often when I’m caught up on their works, I peruse different authors.  They write plenty.  I read around 300 books a year.  We’re not at a loss for words here, people.  When I run out of books to read, I read them again.  Many of my favorite books have been read so many times that I have to replace them due to pages falling out.

In all my collection of books, from the classics and antiques to the MMP that I bought last week at the grocery store – I have only read and enjoyed ONE self-published author.  No, make that 2, because M. J. Rose has become somewhat of a legend.  Do I believe I’m talented enough to write and publish a novel through a mainstream publisher?  Yes.  Do I believe I have the attention span it would take to do it?  No.  I don’t. Do I have any wish to live a life of research and discomfort it would take to write an accurate novel?  No.  I live a life of homemade computers and down comforters with a ton of kids and animals and I like it that way. If I had to interview a single member of law enforcement on procedure or how life really is out there, I would probably wet myself and pass out before I even said my name.  (Which is very odd because I’ve never done anything remotely illegal… I guess I’d be more comfortable with policemen if I had more reason to interact with them.)

Blogs are interesting creatures because they’re more like conversations than memoirs.  Really, you probably spend more time pooping than you do reading blogs.  If it weren’t for Google reader, I would spend less time on blogs and more on pooping than I do.  However, I get an average of 30 hits a day because this blog lists most of the Sweet Valley books in order. It is my service to humanity.  I can’t very well go scouting yard sales and Goodwills (and the Potter’s House, and the Main Street Thrift Store) to liberate books from leaky ceilings and black mold when I’m spending all my time in front of the computer screen or laying flat on my back in the bed clutching a tube of chapstick and my cell phone with a pillow over my face.

So, sorry NaNo, I love you guys and all you NaNo Authors out there, but I’m flaming out.  Write me something worth reading, would you?

Secondary to my thoughts on personally flaming out are my thoughts on people who SHOULD flame out as a service to humanity.

There is a reason the English language includes the word cunt.  It’s because that’s the most accurate description of some people.

I’ve informed my kids that if they get suspended from school for punching a bully in the nose, then we’ll have a week of ice cream and Chuck E. Cheese.  People who think it’s fun or think it makes them look good to tease and taunt other people deserve a bloody nose.  (The other side of this is I also informed my kids that if they came home with a bloody nose because they were bullying someone, that they deserved it and they deserved every punishment the school could give them, and still come home and do chores until bedtime.  They may not fear other kids enough to not tease people but they respect me well enough to know when to STFU.  I’m very creative.)

I fully expect a call from a teacher when one of them quotes me (because the only thing kids remember verbatim are things you wouldn’t say in front of your pastor) and says “but Mommy told me to punch the little cunt in the nose, then they’d shut the hell up and probably would reconsider the effectiveness of that idea in the future.”

Then I’d get the calls from the angry parents who are all mad because my kid called their kid a cunt and I’d invite them over for a cunt waffle with some cunt syrup just so they wouldn’t call me anymore.  If they laughed, we’d probably end up being best friends and sending random poop mail to each other.  If they got upset, I’d have a thought that would impact my karma and go on with my life.

If they kept calling, I’d tell them that my kid had some new form of ghonnasyphillherpiles that was uber-contagious to children squeezed from cunts and that our children should probably never interact again.

And now I’m going to stop writing while you practice saying ghonnasyphillherpiles out loud.  It’s said gon-NA-sif-i-herp-i-leeeeees.  Now you try.