Shoot.  Missed posting last week.  Dang it.  Will have to make up for it with some extras this week.

So the explosion is from Jake.  It’s an explosion of learning.  It’s crazy really.  I can hardly keep up.  In fact, I am definitely not keeping up.

He can suddenly read.  He is often heard starting a sentence with the phrase, “Did you know….?”  He wants to know more about everything.  For the first time ever, I will come in and find him with a writing implement and paper just drawing or writing stuff or illustrating some story in his head.

It’s amazing to drive down the road and hear him sounding out street signs from the back seats.

It’s like magic.  A magic explosion.

He bursts into Chinese phrases at random and loves asking me if I know how to say this word or that in Chinese (generally I have no clue — that 10 months in China was TOOOOO long ago…).  He’s totally up on the current discipline issues in his classroom and I get a blow by blow each day after school.  He can play video games at levels I could only imagine.  He quoted scripture (from AWANAs) back to Brent yesterday when they were discussing why it was necessary to wear seat belts —  that it’s the law… “For whoever keeps the whole law, and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.”

It’s fantastic.  Fantabulous.  Amazing.

Hmmm.  So, it’s probably good I attempted two this week since I was only able to manage one.

We had a rough week.  Spent two days (18 hours total) in Navy seminars meant to explain to us all the ways they are helping (and not helping us) after kicking us out of the Navy after 14 years of faithful service.  Pretty much mind blowing and heart hurting and hopeful and infuriating and helpful and all that.  Simply put? Exhausting.

The silver lining was that I spent a LOT of good time with my awesome husband. We even managed dinner out one night during San Diego Restaurant Week (a great deal on a dinner we couldn’t normally afford).  So, I definitely managed to do #13 – Weekly Meetings with your Spouse.  We spent a lot of time this week discussing hopes and dreams and fears and concerns, as well as the daily details of schedules, pickups, meal plans and potty training (which is still going well, btw!).  And I’m hoping to make it a Sunday night tradition (unfortunately probably not including the yummy dinner out!).

The eating my frog thing (#1) did NOT work.  We were out of the house by 6:30 on the meeting mornings, Monday was a day off, Thursday we had Nature Adventures and Friday I had to buckle down and catch up on tons of work.  SO, no “good laundry practices.”  Will try again next week.

Have nicely continued with the water drinking and envelope system, so hanging in. And after the coolio appointment with my nutritionist this week, who is helping me work on reviving my adrenal glands, I’m going to try #18 – Get More Sleep. Shooting for a 10:30pm – which puts 6am at the top of a 90 minute sleep cycle.

And uhhh…  evidently I’ll try to start THAT new plan tomorrow. Good night (or good morning technically!).

Tooth Two

I have a lot of angst around the Christmas season.  And it’s not because of the over monetization of a religious holiday.  It’s not because people buy puppies they don’t really want.  It’s not because of all the children starving around the world while we in America spend umpteen dollars on plastic toys for our already spoiled children.  Well, I mean, that stuff bugs me too, but my real problem is Santa.

And what to tell my children about him.

See, I was that kid.  You know, the one who told you Santa wasn’t real when you were 8?  The one who brought you to tears and ruined your life?  That was me.  I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to be unkind, it’s just that Mom was very deliberate in her choice NOT to teach us to believe in Santa.  She was also not unkind.  And didn’t mean to hurt us or you.  But she felt really strongly about two things:

1.  Lying.

2.  Having kids who thanked Santa instead of the moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas who worked hard to earn money to buy the gifts.

Now, I know that there are wonderful things about believing in Santa, and as an adult, Mom and I have discussed the pros and cons many times.  I think she feels she was a little extreme in the “not believing” side of things because we missed that chance each year to have our imaginations caught up with the ideas surrounding the Santa story.  But I think, on the whole, she’s still glad we always “knew.”

And unfortunately, I’ve been torn.  It wasn’t a big deal the first couple years because Jake was too young too care.  But each year comes and goes by without me deciding.  Do we believe?  Or do we not?  Instead of making up my mind, I’m ridiculously vague when questioned and often just change the subject.  It’s like I can’t bring myself to say, “No, there is no Santa,” but I also can’t get the words, “Of course that’s the REAL Santa” to come out of my mouth either.

Luckily, I’ve got 11 more months to figure it out.  Again.

Which is why it is so funny that for some reason, I’ve got NO PROBLEM at all with the tooth fairy.

In fact, she visited last night and traded Jake for his second baby tooth.  A whole dollar.

And have I mentioned being a closet dentist-wanna-be?

As the daughter of a dentist, who worked every summer of high school in Dad’s office, I always had a little part of me that wanted to follow in his footsteps.  Life led me elsewhere, but I have been tickled pink to finally pull out some teeth (other than my own).  On tooth number one, Jake didn’t know what to expect, so was very willing to let me pull it out.  This time, he was MUCH more nervous.  In fact, it took 3 days for him to agree to let me pull out the dangling tooth.  But he finally let me.  YIPPEE!!  Thrills for Mom!

Tooth #2 from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

What  a trooper.

Then What We Need Do?

I remember years ago hearing that my eldest nephew cared deeply about the day’s schedule.  Each morning, Holly was required to tell him the plan for the whole day.  At the time I, a HUGE planner, thought that was so cool!  A kid who liked to know THE PLAN.

Then I had kids.  Much to my chagrin, none of them have seemed to care a whit about THE PLAN, until the last few weeks when the following phrase appeared out of thin air.  Each day I now hear this phrase repeated again and again and again and… Here it is for your viewing pleasure:

What we need do… from Joelle Yamada on Vimeo.

And in case you don’t have your Kira Translation Headphones on, the line is:  “Then what we need do?”

She has also recently perfected the slacked jaw gape.  Also known as the “Huh?” or the “No way!” or the “Gasp!” look…  She loves tossing this in during the recitation of responses to “then what we need do?” when one of my scheduling bullets is especially provocative.  And example might go like this:

K:  “Then what we need do?”

Me:  Then we are going to get Jake at school.

K:  “Then what we need do?”

Me:  Then we will go the the farmer’s market and you can pick out your fruit and veggie.

K:  Open mouth, shocked look followed by a quick intake of breath, an excited hug delivered to my leg and…  “Then what we need do?”

I wrote about the book, One Bite at a Time HERE and I wanted to update my progress:

Week 1: #48 – Using an Envelope system.

This was an easy one for me (and it was the last day of the week when I started) because we already do this (thanks, Dave Ramsey!).  I don’t do traditional envelopes, I actually have this fancy app for my iPhone called, amazingly, Envelopes. I withdraw all our cash on payday and subtract on my phone as I go.  Highly, HIGHLY recommend.

Week 2: #34 – Drink more water.  

I did some reading and it seems that 2 liters is the rule of thumb for women (not counting water you need if you exercise).  So I figured out that our Juicy Juice bottles are 64 oz (nearly 2 liters) and so I’m filling one of those each morning and trying to finish it by around lunchtime.  That way, anything beyond that just puts me over the 2 liter mark.

It’s gone really well this week and I think some of the brain-fog I’ve been experiencing was reduced this week.  Last night is the first time I finished the bottle right before bed.  So, on the whole a successful week.

This next week I’m going to go ahead and attempt… wait for it…  TWO new ideas.  I know, pick yourself off the floor.  I figure that eventually there will be a week I’ll flake on, so if I can get a bit ahead, that will be ok. And I’m really needing these next two so…

Week 3: #1 – Eating your Frog & #40  Plan Weekly Meetings with your Spouse.

Eating your frog relates to doing the thing you most dread first each day so that it’s a cake walk from there on out.  I have been thinking for the last three weeks — wondering what my frog is…  And I couldn’t figure out.  I mean, there are MANY MANY things I hate to do — how do I pick just one?  But then it hit me.  What is the thing that just never GETS done.  That would clearly win the prize as the thing I hated the most, right?

So I looked around the house and it was crystal clear from the piles of CLEAN clothes on every possible surface — on my bed (placed there in the morning with the HOPES they will magically fold themselves, but by 11pm must be moved into some sort of other container so I can sleep), in every possible basket shaped vessel available in the house, in a pile on the couch, in overflowing baskets in front of the dryer…  I don’t mind DOING the laundry.  I don’t mind starting the washer and moving things to the dryer.  What I hate is FOLDING AND PUTTING AWAY clothes.  SO.  That’s my frog.

Before I came in to do breakfast this morning, I folded 3 big baskets of clothes.  Last month, I had put little signs in the boys rooms on their shelves (to indicate short/long pants, short/long-sleeved shirts, underwear, pjs, socks) and had taught them how to put their own clothes away, so once I folded this morning, they came and put things away.  Granted, I didn’t put my OWN clothes away, but that is because of THIS project I started yesterday (refinishing my grandparent’s dresser).

And as for #40, Brent and I had a very busy week last week and this week isn’t looking much better.  We “missed” each other quite a bit — forgetting to fill the other in on appointments/meetings and just didn’t get to touch base much.  So, I think a weekly meeting is a great idea and I hope we can work it into being a habit quickly.  We will start tonight after my Weight Watchers training.

At the beginning of the year, we received an email from Jake’s teachers explaining that the traditional birthday class celebrations complete with donuts or cupcakes or cake were not allowed in his class.  Instead we were asked to either gift the class with a book, to be opened by our child on his/her birthday, or we could send goodie bags with no food in them.

Well, I am a great hater of all things good-bag-esque, so obviously figured we’d do the book.  But, it was finally time for my only HUGE regret related to repeatedly getting pregnant in October…  summer birthdays.  Since the moment I was first pregnant with Jake I have worried about the fact that he’d NEVER get to have a birthday celebration in his classroom.  I was repeatedly reassured by those in the know that summer birthdays with their pool and beach parties were the best!  But I’ve remained unconvinced.

So when the email arrived, I immediately replied asking if we could do a half-birthday celebration.  His teachers graciously agreed.

We headed to Jake’s school this week with our favorite book by UK writer, Julia Donaldson, wrapped up with a bow.  Jake was called to the front and his teacher wonderfully explained that this was his HALF birthday and that he wanted to celebrate with his friends since no one would be in school in July.  They sang Happy Birthday and then he opened The Gruffalo and I was called up to read to the class.  I explained that the writer was British and that Jake had been born in England and we first bought the book there.  The kids listened with rapt attention and I think it was a hit.

This week was also Science Week at Jake’s school.  A letter was sent home inviting us to make a box for an egg drop.  Having only ever done this for Physics class in high school, I was a bit surprised.  But I made a mental note to sit down with Jake to make something before Friday.

And I forgot.  Until 8:30pm Thursday night.

So when my morning child woke at 6:30am, I hurried him through his routines and we sat down with a few minutes to spare after breakfast to construct a quick and dirty cotton-balls-in-a-ziploc-bag-around-the-egg-wrapped-in-a-blanket-and-and-sealed-into-a-small-shoe-box-egg-drop-box.  I was pretty sure it had no chance, but we’d tried.

When we arrived later in the morning for the event, we found a Cox Communication truck, complete with cherry picker on the scene.  The boxes were shuttled up and dropped down.  I had obviously missed the section of the letter that explained they could attach parachutes (i.e., plastic bags) to the boxes.  Would have been nice to know.

There were some doozies — including a penguin stuffed animal with a parachute (egg inside), a bottle that when it landed broke in half and the egg just rolled out unharmed, designs even worse than ours, and some genius boxes that lightly glided in for landings.  It was fun and Brent spent the entire time planning the perfect box.  So I’m pretty sure it won’t be done the morning of next year.  We’ll see.

Last April, we moved Kira out of her crib and into her “big girl bed.”  That transition has not been smooth.  Pretty much 96% my fault and 4% the fault of the universe.  We spent the summer traveling, so she slept with me mostly.  Then when we got back, Brent got home and things were a little up in the air and inconsistent.  Then I just got lazy and started laying down with her to get her to sleep.  And then I’d get frustrated and try a new bedtime plan that I’d consistently perform for a day or two before giving in to whatever would just get the child to fall asleep fastest THAT night.  NOT ideal parenting.  But so it has been.

For Christmas, I got her a light that shines stars onto the ceiling and swore when it arrived (two weeks late) that we’d begin a NEW bedtime plan.  Strangely and classically, she has sort of worked it out herself over the last week.  My new plan simply includes me getting her settled and then saying, “Ok, I’m going to say, “Good night, Kira, I love you,” and then I’m not going to say anything else.”  Then I hold my finger up to my lips and shhhhh.  Rather hysterically it has worked great and bedtime is going well.

Today, our friends picked up the crib we had stored away in the garage for their new little munchkin.  As the crib was driven away into the sunset, I didn’t even consider shedding a tear.  Not sure who does that, but not me.  Thrilled to be moving on and forward.  I adored my kids as babies, but am loving this more.

And then to just put the cherry on top, I came back inside to find that Kira was sans-clothing.  Sort of typical around here.  I’ve got some streakers in the fam.  I sternly told her to go put some clothes on and she wandered down the hall.  A few moments later she came running into the room and said, “Mama PEE!!”  I didn’t see a puddle so I whisked her up and raced down the hall and placed her on the potty and GUESS WHAT?????  SHE PEEEEEEEEDDDDDDD!!!!  Such excitement.

I’m a very low maintenance mom (which I never would have predicted).  I didn’t TRY to potty train any of the kids.  Just waited.  Some of that had to do with the fact that another baby was born just when the potty-training-ish-aged child was turning 2.  Everyone I asked said I shouldn’t bother to potty train around the arrival of a new child.  So I didn’t.  I just waited.  And one day they just wanted to.

With Kira, I assumed she’d be ready sooner.  So a few months back, I just started asking if she wanted to pee in the potty.  Resounding NO.  Repeatedly a resounding NO.  She has said yes once or twice, but nothing has come of it.  So this morning, on FB I see the greatest trio of shots from my friend Meredith of her three kiddos sitting on the pot (hers are close in ages to mine, and her daughter is just a week older).  And I had that MOMENT all mothers have often of: oh-crap-is-Kira-supposed-to-be-potty-trained??  Luckily, on my third child, that feeling was momentary and not the agonizing week-long comparison thought process it would have been with Jake.  Instead I thought, “Dang it, should have gotten pix.”  🙂

But all that just made it that much funnier to have Kira pee on the potty for the first time today.  Ahhhhh.  Transitions.

Acting Class

Quinn’s acting class was a great improvement this week.  Last week, I took him to a class I had signed him up for at Christian Youth Theater.  I was super excited because I have wanted to find an outlet for his… well… his… his chatter.  Though he was a slow starter for speech, he has made up for lost time and will just about talk the ear off an elephant.  He’s also incredibly expressive and almost theatrical in his conversations.  Unfortunately, sometimes he’s also disciplined for these skills because they are not appropriate at that time.  So I’ve really wanted him to have a place where these talents were appreciated and encouraged.  Enter CYT.  The class was described this way:

Preschoolers will have an hour of fun learning about theater. The full experience will be a multi-sensory opportunity to explore movement, music, drama and art. Activities may include: rhythm games, coordination skills, demonstrating expressions and role playing.

We signed up for the class on the day of and arrived excited to start!  When we walked into the room, there were two-foot square pieces of plywood spread around the room and 13 little girls (some with tap shoes on) each finding a board to stand on.  I was confused, but waited to hear what the teacher would say.  She announced that every week class would be the same so the kids would learn consistency.  There would be 30 minutes of tap (what?), then they’d change to their ballet shoes for 15 minutes of ballet (WHAT???), then for the last 15 minutes they’d sit in a circle and each student would be allowed to freely and interpretively dance around the room (you’ve GOT to be kidding me).  I stared in disbelief.

Then the teacher said, “And I had three great girl songs picked out for our performance, including The Good Ship Lollipop, but then we had a BOY sign up today (and she points at Quinn), so I’ll have to pick all new songs.”  The other mothers in the room sighed and ohhh’d.

Seriously??? I was flabbergasted and immediately furious.  I realize now that I was mostly mad because my hopes were dashed.  I was finally doing something unique and special for my middle child and I had been so excited for him.  But it was also a totally unexpected experience of discrimination.  Discrimination against my beautiful, funny, active Quinn.  Because he’s a boy.

I left the room to find someone in charge and when I explained the situation, I was apologized to profusely with the explanation that there are usually other boys in the class, but that this time only girls had signed up.  I explained that the class was nothing like the description online and was assured my money would be fully refunded.

So I marched back to the room with Jake & Kira in tow, quietly went in and took Quinn’s hand and led him out of the room.

And here’s where my heart just bursts with pride.  When I had left the room a few minutes before, my champ of a boy was following the teacher and doing “heel, ball, kick.”  He was copying her movements and participating like a trooper.  And when I got back to the room, he was in line with all those little girls to work on the next skill.  I was so proud that he just went along and did his best.

As soon as we were out the door, I crouched down and said, “Bud, remember I told you this was an acting class?  Where you’d get to act out silly people and crazy animals?”  He nodded.  “Well, turns out Momma was wrong.  This is a dance class, and though I’m sure you are a great dancer, it’s just not the kind of class I thought it would be.  So we aren’t going to go to this class and Momma is going to find you another acting class, ok?”  Silence.  Serious look on his face.  “Is that ok?”

“Yeah,” he says, “I didn’t want to be friends with ANY of those GIRLS.”

I love that boy.

As soon as we got home, I was racing through internet searches and found that the theater in Balboa Park offers acting classes for Quinn’s age and a few classes are actually taught by MEN!  GASP!


He was thrilled with his first class this week.  Came out demonstrating what he’d learned and though I overheard the teacher explaining to a few other parents that he’d be working with their child on LISTENING skills, he didn’t say that to me.  SHOCKER.  And again, proud.

Trying Again

It’s the end of the first week of the new year.  I don’t like New Year’s resolutions because it seems to me, that they are all about failure.

But last year about this time I decided to lose weight.  And I actually did.  So I figure I’ll give it another shot this year.

Two resolutions:

1.  ORGANIZATION by way of my friend, Karen, who is a GENIUS at organizing her home and making cute stuff HERE.  And by using a book recommended by my friend, Heather, who blogs over HERE.  The book is called A Bite At A Time: 52 Projects for Making Life Simpler.  It’s available HERE ($4 if you use the HAPPYNEWYEAR code) for download.

2.  BLOG again.  When I look back on the two years I blogged in Okinawa, describing our daily life and milestones for the kids, I’m so proud of that record.  And simultaneously, sad/depressed/guilt-ridden that I haven’t kept that up here.  It’s such a fabulous documentation of our life.  I’m not a big scrapbooker (though I tried once, and even sold Creative Memories for a short unsuccessful bit of time), so this is my scrapbook.  I’m not going to expect a full turn around, but will try to get back to at least one post a week.


Random thing from this week.

I’m in love with the back of my daughter’s neck.  So when we went for another haircut this week I made sure they cut up the back a bit higher so we could all enjoy it more.  Is that weird?  And what is that area called?  I know you’ve got the “waddle” in front of the neck, but what is it called in the back?  Where the tendons run around the midline?  Anyone??

Am I right?  Is it fabulous?

On other fronts, the tree is still up.  Good thing I buy real ones.  That way they eventually HAVE to come down or surely the house will burn down.  Right?  Please tell me I’m right!

Nearly a year…

So I really have no good excuse.  It’s been a year since I last wrote.

I could blame it on moving thousands of miles across the ocean.

I could blame it on having three preschoolers.

I could blame it on the sunshine.

But I think I’m going to blame it on FaceBook for all the potential writing time it sucks from me each day.

It’s time to make a change and get some of my life recorded here again.

Will begin with our family trip starting in a few days.  Brent has completed his year of Navy school and is on leave until he reports to his new ship and deploys.  So we’re off on an adventure!  Lots of family and friends, with a little Aquarium, National Parks, and Disneyland-action thrown in…

And off we go…