17.9.12

1. Husband added this wonderful family shelf in our kitchen. Not beautiful, but functional and with three kids, that matters. This way, we can enjoy time together around the kitchen table everyday around dinner time and it's not just home and into bed.


2. We took the kids to the Admiral Twin for the first time since Arthur was a baby and (obviously) since it was rebuilt. We piled all three kids in the back of the Suzuki 5-door Aerio and flipped up the back door, and everyone snuggled under the covers while we enjoyed the cover of the door protecting us from the rain. Who would have thought that a five-door subcompact would be the perfect vehicle for a family of 5 at the drive-in?


3. Noah and Arthur got a new "little friend"--a dwarf hamster he named "Doctor Squeakers." Guess where the "Doctor" part came from?

Notice the color of the cage...that cost extra, but somebody loves pink! He's been talking about his "little guy" nonstop. It seems like having a pet is really good for his empathy building and social interaction. He also doesn't engage in as much stimming when he's talking to/about The Doctor.



4. We finally took the advice of so many mom bloggers and made glitter meditation jars for the kids. They love them, and the jars provide an adequate amount of stimulation for Noah. You shake them and when all the glitter settles, time out is over. Lucy's is smaller and faster, while Noah's is thickest and lasts the longest because he shakes it and uses it in other ways than as a timer. Next step: get a clock for our daily schedule so the children can physically see it and an egg timer for time out.


5. We also figured out (with the help of the Interwebs) that magazine holders make great kitchen storage for ziploc baggies, trash bags and wraps and other such things. Gone are the days of frantically tossing around random packing and bags in the kitchen looking for one little trash bag. Hurray for baby steps.



Sorry for the bad pics. We still really have no earthly clue where our broken camera went. We'll find it when it's obsolete and the parts are no longer available.

18.8.12


 Pinterest commanded me to make some blue raspberry Jolly Rancher-infused rum and it was pretty rad with some Sprite in it. I thought Jolly Roger would be a cool name but there's already a cocktail named the Jolly Roger. Then Michael Bolton reminded me of my favorite pirate ever:



...and we ended up with the Captain Jack Sparrow! Now to plan our next insanely expensive Disney World vacay...

4.8.12





































Not bad for a four-year-old, right?

Organizing a busy family

We have a pretty crazy schedule, and resources for stay-at-home dads are pretty slim on the web. Of course Pinterest is a fabulous round-up site for cool info on running household, but some of the household organization approaches are so complicated it's hardly worth it. For example, we have and use a household binder, but it's not an everyday thing. We have three under five, and between the college teacher parent and the college student parent, one or all of us is constantly at the college. Our kids probably think they are enrolled at this point.

For us, the most complicated part of running our household is keeping track of communicating where everyone is supposed to be and when. Doctor's appointments, occupational therapy, visitations for little nephew with three different sets of family members, school, haircuts, uniforms, college meetings, college classes, meetings with clients for our wedding/event business, a couple dozen loads of laundry a week, just to start! On school nights, we literally "tag" each other sometimes as one runs home from work and the other dashes up to class. Who has time to write all this stuff in a binder or enter it into an app?

Meet the easiest organization system ever. This and email are the core of our household organization.


1. Owen (actually "Sluyter"--Justin's mom's side of the fam) family calendar. We still use google calendars and all those other cool tools, but there's something to be said for having the master copy everyone can sync up with in good old tangible paper. And it certainly doesn't hurt to have cool annual family calendar.

2. We've posted about the color chart before, but it's basically the easiest way to manage discipline in young kids because it's what most of them are already using at school. It's so easy: stay on green, get privileges. Note the wonky smiley face to indicate how successful one is being at achieving green. Yellow means they need to slow down, exercise caution, be mindful--the text says "try harder." (Note: at four and a half, they should not need warnings on things they already know about, so if it's something the really know they aren't supposed to be doing, we don't warn. Example: throwing toys). Orange means they need to have some time out, but it's important to differentiate that time out is most effective when used not as a punishment but as a time of reflection and chillage (Nanny 911 much LOL?). This is done by one minute per age; right now they both do four and a half minutes. It works best with an egg timer but somehow ours keep meeting demise. With a child with R.A.D. issues, this meditative time can be a key to helping the little nugget learn to self-regulate, which is a huge challenge for these kiddos. Getting a "RADish" to stay in time out isn't always easy, so we have a bunch of those little squishy toys , but any sensory device will do, like these awesome glitter meditation jars I totally want get. Since RAD and ASD present similarly and those kiddos struggle with similar issues, this can also work for some children on the spectrum. In fact, we get a lot of our parenting ideas from a friend whose child is hypersensitive to sensory stimulation, which is similar to being on the spectrum and depending on who you talk to counts. Who cares about semantics, right? We just care about results. What's cool about teaching kids to self-regulate is that if it is good for an ASD kid or  a RADish, it's usually  pretty good for a non-spectrum kid too. Yesterday at Artie's first back to school night, his teacher commented repeatedly on how sweet and calm and articulate his speech was and how polite he is. We really think this has to do with teaching self-regulation. Not to say he's perfect, but instead to emphasize just how truly helpful time-out as a meditative self-regulation practice can be.

I often hear people say "You'll change your mind about time out when they get older" or "It just doesn't work for me." While both of these statements may be true, we always keep in mind that schools manage 20 or more kids that age between one or two adults without corporal punishment for hours each day, kids who have no discipline at home, kids who have too much, kids who are cranky and tired, kids ho have undiagnosed ADHD, RAD, ASD, etc. This discipline chart works best and really ONLY works when used with unwavering consistency and paired with a tight schedule. Little kids thrive on consistency because it gives them security.

3. Giant whiteboard. This is an absolute necessity. Grocery lists, reminders, questions, etc. This is how we communicate when telephones are hard to use due to background noise, meetings, and other complications.

4. Visual schedule. This works well for pre-readers and keeps them on task. With a 6 AM awake time,and 7 PM bedtime mean the schedule is the master of our day. I picked up this one online but can' remember the site and will post the link if I find. It's a basic after-school chore version of  more advanced schedule we build our day on.


So that's it. The basics of keeping our people and home organized as simply as possible. 

How do you keep your household organized?


7.7.12

I am starting to love settling into my Saturday night ritual. For years we would be out until dawn partying on the weekends, hitting up concerts anywhere within 10 hours driving distance, working our press passes, VIP passes, partying on a level that hasn't been socially acceptable since Michael Alig and James St. James brought it back for a brief revival. Not bad for Tulsa. So it's been hard in all honesty for us to settle into domesticity, but I am getting there. Now Saturday nights mainly consist of a project or two w/ the three amigos, early dinner and baths, and then putting Stormageddon Dark Lord of All to bed and letting the boys check a little VHS action in Arthur's massive bunk/fortress while I hit up the Ion Psych marathon, wash and fold a dozen loads of laundry and tidy the house, and settle into a glass or two of wine and my hidden stash of Twizzlers. With hubs at week and the house quiet, vegging out and watching TV is just the ticket for my laundry-folding home-grown utopia.

Anyway, this Saturday I am particularly relaxed because our hours rolled over at work and I took a short little staycation (ahem...cleaning staycation, but whatevs) and don't go back until Tuesday. I've cleaned the hell out of everything, dyed my hair fish bowl blue, and organized the boys' closets to get them ready for school in a month. In a month I say!!! My little chicken nuggets are growing into full-fledged chicken wings!


Today's greatest triumph was pre-Christmassing. Hubatronic 1.0 is always perplexed by how parents pull together decent Xmases for their kids. The truth is that we all think the whole thing is just a massive commercialized clusterf*ck, but we want our kids to be happy and not be like those poor Waldorf kids who get tree branches and sh*t for Christmas (not that I am dissing Waldorf, just those extremist parents like the douchey hippies in Lilyhammer), so we go for a moderate lifestyle, which I've blogged about before. Plus, we're damned poor, primarily because I work as a teacher and I am my family's main financial supporter until I sell a screenplay or book or establish a super popular online publication. So anyway, we're poor.


But I like to have nice things and I like my kids to, and I am smart and also awesome, which is why Arthur got like 350 bucks worth of He-man toys for his birthday (thank you, Craigslist).


Here's how it works: Our family looks for things in good condition that our kids (and other people we plan on gifting) like ahead of time...way ahead of time. I keep a little list and it's important to know if someone's interests change or if it's something they are really, really into (like Arthur and Tim Burton films). Then we keep on the lookout for second hand items in good shape at thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales and online and get them months in advance and put them away for later. For example, Arthur has been asking for  a Mermaid Barbie for ages. Today, I found him a Magical Mermaid Barbie which I will be stashing back for Christmas. She lights up and usually comes sold in a set that is available for $85 plus shipping all the way to $135. I got her for $1.50.


I also picked up a 1960 vintage Barbie Allan doll along with some other friends for the mermaid.

But that's not the coolest thing I got!

I picked up the following Generation 3 My Little Ponies:

Star Dasher
Summer Berry
Denim Blue
Golden Delicious
Precious Gem
Rainbow Flash
Lolligiggle

And I picked up a pink G4 pony, but I haven't looked her up yet. Anyway, all the ponies together were 4 bucks.

While there, I picked up my own cute Vera Bradley two-piece set. Yes, old ladies love them. But I've always had a little Grandma Bessie May Crow in me.

Anyway, that's the beginnings of some solid Christmas gifting. Reduce, reuse, recycle is nice on the pocketbook too.








13.6.12

I haven't blogged in a very long time, or at least, I haven't actually finished and subsequently published a post in a long time. A lot's happened. I started my own awesome wedding business, accidentally got into marketing and PR, and began building a national wedding web site. (tba)

And then my little brother, Jeff, became sick.

It started as a really scary car accident that we were grateful he survived. A few broken bones, a swollen leg, nothing too serious. Then the swollen leg required surgery, and he contracted a vancomycin-resistant infection in the hospital. We spent weeks taking turns with the kids going to visit him, taking him magazines, books. His condition was said to be improving, but the infection got into his bloodstream and then around his heart, and then he suddenly died.

There are a million things I could say, and for the past two weeks I've thought of them all. I could write something beautiful about how many amazing memories we had as kids, how our relationship became more complex, about all the things we overcame together, including, at the very end, how Justin and I worked with Jeff and his fiancee to get him away from the opiate dependence he had picked up after years of living with chronic pain, about how proud I was of him for getting his life together, about how he'd finally met someone who could keep him in line and how he had a plan for his life and was helping with his son so much. About the day I came home and found him playing T-ball in the front yard with Noah and Arthur, or the times he sat with me and talked about his hopes for his son, the times he suddenly appeared at my door with ice cold Mexican cokes (because they don't have high fructose corn syrup and they come in glass bottles), the times he brought paletas. Jeff was the only person on the planet, my husband included, who remembered my very peculiar likes and dislikes when it came to food: how I prefer coconuts and creams in paletas but preferred fruit desserts over chocolate in everything else, how I don't like cake that much but like tres leches because it's moist, how I love strawberries but don't really like strawberry ice cream or love watermelon flavored candy but not watermelons. I could write volumes about how volatile our relationship was and how deeply we loved each other and how Justin thinks the two were inextricable. How he was the only person I know besides Justin who I have always felt was intellectually my better, and how nearly every single night since he died I close my eyes and he wakes me up to tell me I am doing a good job and what he wanted with his funeral and with his son and keeping everyone together.

I want to write everything I can remember about him, every moment, every expression, every detail of him, so I never forget over the coming decades of my life I will have to live without him.

But I am not ready to write all that yet. I just want to say that there is no relationship in my life that will ever be like my relationship with my brother, and that my brother and I had a very deep powerful connection, which sometimes made us absolutely despise each other, but always loved each other, and that no one in my whole life, not even my husband, has bragged about me or adored me the way he did, and that my heart is broken for his little boy, who I pledged that I would care for no matter what, and that I want my children to love and care for each other with a sense of responsibility and true devotion the way I loved my brother.

I miss him so much, and I will probably miss him every day for the rest of my life. He was an incredible, often completely douchey, absolutely insane, hypersensitive, quirky, brokenhearted, brilliant, beautiful soul who left this earth too soon.

I miss you so much, Jeff.


14.5.12

EVOfest 2012

EvoFest is a pretty cool little festival put on by some locals based on the ideas of sustainability and bartering in a place where people can enjoy music. We made it out for a terrific set by Aaron Hale and the Human Beings. Here's a pic of Lucy enjoying the music on the lovely cool spring grass.

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13.5.12

brother and sister


holi

Apparently, being a working mom with one's own business and a part-time teacher while raising one's autistic/R.A.D. nephew, an often less well-behaved and insanely precocious other four-year-old, and an infant is a very busy line of work.

(That's me accounting for my lack of posting to my 20-some odd readers of friends, family and former students. Please do forgive and also forgive my acknowledging this in my blog which is apparently blogger taboo, although to be frank since this is a family blog and not a monetary blog I don't really see as it matters that much.)

Also, I am ashamed to say that since Picnik closed I've been far too lazy to edit my photos for the web. It's so sad and so true. Have Photoshop, can use Photoshop, have janky computer that runs like sh*t when Photoshop is open and little patience for remembering how to do the things I want to do in Photoshop. I know, so so so so so lazy.

Now to business.

What have the Owens been doing lately?

I've been wanting to check out Holi festival for ages, and the Indian Association of Greater Tulsa (IAGT) put on a heck of a party at Haikey Creek Park.

Holi is a festival of color. The point is, as the adorable Yorkshire Deven's adorable Indian mom explained, to celebrate the beginning of the farming season. Or something. She told me in India it gets crazy. It wasn't crazy, but it was fun. Bright colored powders were painted onto us by giggling little girls.






















22.3.12

River's edge girl

River's edge girl

Beyond Vintage lace blouse
£178 - matchesfashion.com

Pleated mini skirt
£75 - houseoffraser.co.uk

Frye tall leather boots
$448 - dealuxe.ca

Plastic Bat floral brooch
£6 - hannahzakari.co.uk

Tarina tarantino
$63 - tarinatarantino.com

21.3.12

what the kids are up to


Lucy loves peek-a-boo.

Lucy's baby. She looooves her. Her name is Tiny Tina, and I recently found a bunch of my old jewelry from when I was in a kid hidden in her head. Seriously. It was nice to know she wasn't supposed to rattle like that.



Lucy, rocking the cutest outfit on the planet, which unfortunately you can't see very well thanks to her car seat.



Arthur loves the gothy stuff. We were on a vintage loot quest and found this cemetery in the backyard of an estate sale...he had to have his picture taken.



Noah has the best smile ever!



Finally, Arthur got a pirate's treasure's worth of Masters of the Universe toys for his birthday. Even Lucy loves them!

Random hair.



Finally...growing my hair out! I love the pastel blue ends. I can't help it; I am a sucker for Manic Panic.

22.2.12

the world needs more love letters

I have an amazing job. I get paid to teach people magic.
Here's a pic of me, teaching people magic.



Last week, I was super elated when a colleague/friend messaged me on Facebook to tell me she'd overheard a student talking about my class. Specifically, he was saying something about how unconventional my teaching methods are...and how much he appreciates that.

I've been with Tulsa Community College in one capacity or another for about seven years, and in that time, my experience as both a classroom instructor and an instructional specialist has affected me perhaps even more profoundly than my students at times. Never was this more true for me than when a former student, now a nurse, made special arrangements to gain entry to the O.R. where Lucy was delivered in April last year, holding my hand and offering support through what was for me a terrifying experience after nearly losing my life due to complications from Arthur's caesarean section in 2008, giving the comfort that only a woman can as I struggled to overcome an embarrassing anxiety attack.

This is what I do this for, I remind myself now as I stand before each classroom. 

I've always known there is a magic to language, and that magic, like the wands at Hogwarts, is infused with power. 

Language can be almost telepathic.
Language can save lives.
Language can destroy and build and tear down walls.
To harness this power is a gift.

I try to remind my students of this as often as I can. Few things give me the twitches more than teachers who don't relate what the students are learning to the journey that lies ahead of them...the whole cocoon metamorphosis thing. But thinking of Wendi, my former student-nurse, I can't let go of that image.

That's why when I first stumbled upon Hannah Brencher's beautiful concept for filling the world with random spontaneous acts of kindness in the form of that magic at her site The World Needs More Love Letters, I was enchanted with the idea. She encourages people to write letters to strangers, sending their positive energy out into the universe.

Magic. Beautiful, linguistic magic.

I knew immediately this was going to happen in my classroom. It had to. It was so in line with my teaching. 





I knew my students were up to the challenge. After all, they do stuff like this:












(that's me in the pink shawl)


This was their assignment:


And here's what happened.














(That's me in the pink hair there holding the sign. I promise we were all really having a good time...it was just like the fifth camera take!)








Altogether, we put out about 50 random letters all over campus and a few off-campus.
For many students, the experience was not just a way of connecting with others, but reflecting on their own experiences, their own fears and accomplishments.

In a way, they were encouraging themselves.

The best part? I have run into a few people who told me how they came across random letters of encouragement on campus. The library staff came across one and taped it up on the reference desk. And I even found one in a book just a few days ago. Students are reading them and then moving them for others to see! How amazing is that? 

So what are you waiting for? Go write a love letter!!!

(a very, very special thank you to my students for participating in this project and letting me post about it. You are all a.ma.zing. You are the reason I do what I do).