Friday, May 22, 2009

A day in the life...

In case you were curious, here's a documentary I put together of life in the Knipper household, starring Zach and Caleb. By way of explanation, Caleb has a giant stuffed Nemo that he loves, and gooden gooden is a cloth diaper that Zach has carried around since he was a baby.

Before you watch, make sure you scroll to the bottom of the page and turn off the music.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pictures, maybe



testing

So, I'm updating the blog from my phone. I feel like I've finally entered the new century. Steve got me a new phone for Mother's Day so now I have no excuse not to update the blog. As soon as I figure out how to post pictures I'll have some new ones.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Bullies in kindergarten

So everyone's back in school (YAY!) and I finally have some computer time! No bad Chinese soap opera's for me, although I am becoming partial to one staring the "Snake Lady." It's set in old China and the main villain is a woman who, you guessed it, turns into a giant green snake.

Anyway, now that school is back in session, we're also dealing with the issues that accompany it, and one of those is teasing. Zach came home on Monday and told us that the other boys were making fun of him because he painted some pink flowers in art and one of the stickers he picked was "girly." He also told us that one of the older boys on the bus punched him in the crotch on PJ day. I don't know if this kid singled Zach out or if he was punching all of the little kids. Sigh. It is so frustrating to encounter this so early.

We have worked hard to just let Zach be Zach. For him, that involves chasing butterflies, planting gardens, building ramps out of mulch bags, collecting rocks, and playing a mean game of Uno. No, he's not into cars and guns, he's more interested in figuring out why things work the way they do. For example, if he was into cars, he'd want to know why gas makes the engine go. How big is the small spark the spark plugs make, and can it make the car explode? Or why does pushing the gas pedal make the car go faster?

He's a great little guy and the best thing about him is that he's original. He doesn't follow what everyone else says, he just does his own thing. I don't want to squash that. But how do I help him get through school without being the kid that everyone else shoves into lockers? We handled the sticker incident by talking to his teacher (who is wonderful!) and she talked with the boys who were teasing him and made them apologize, then she talked with the entire class about teasing and why it was wrong.

As for the bus, we'll be talking to the bus driver and then making a trip to the kid's house and talking with his parents. This isn't the first time one of the older kids has acted like this and let me tell you, having Steve show up at their house and talk to their parents worked wonders.

Zach came home feeling great, and isn't really worried about it right now. But I still am. Right now he loves school. I don't want that to change. I want him to be able to pick the pink sticker if he wants to. Why is that such a big issue? With both Zach and Caleb, we've let them play with whatever toys they want without regard to gender. If they want a pink princess sticker, that's fine. If they want a sticker with a bulldozer on it, that's fine too. Sometimes they pick the pink sticker, sometimes it's the bulldozer. Neither of them had the notion that boys shouldn't pick "girly" stuff. That is until now, when they started hearing it from other kids.

So I'm conflicted. I don't want my wonderful, unique son to change to fit in with everyone else, but I don't want him to suffer through school either. Maybe I'm making too big of an issue about it, but I'm looking ahead to Middle School & High School, and it worries me.

There just really doesn't seem to be any good options when it comes to stuff like this. Send him to private school? Great if you have the money, but from everyone I've talked to who went to a private school, the bullying is just as bad, if not worse (especially at the all boys schools.) Home School? What about socializing with other kids (I mean kids who don't care what kind of stickers he picks.)

Everything is okay now, and Zach is fine. It's later I'm concerned about. When a talk from the teacher won't stop things.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spring Break with four kids

NOT FUN!!! I am ready to vote for year round school. And while we're at it, why not throw in Saturdays and Sundays. After all, we have to catch up with the 37 billion countries that are outscoring our kids in Math and Science (forget English, Literature and any other art. Who needs those loser subjects anyway?)

It wouldn't be so bad except Sarah doesn't want to do anything except watch bad (and I mean BAD) Chinese soap operas on the computer and chat with all 1 billion Chinese nationals on QQ (kind of like facebook but Chinese.) Aside from the fact that spending 18 hours a day staring at a computer screen might fry her retinas and her brain at the same time, there's the little matter of the viruses from the site that hosed our computer. Steve was up until 3 in the morning trying to fix it. Luckily, he understood the importance of Math and Science and didn't waste his time on that English junk, so he was able to remove the viruses, and now our computer is in lockdown mode.

With the new computer hiatus, Sarah has been forced to interact with the rest of us, and that means going outside. Not one of her favorite things (unlike calling people "toilet heads" which is one of her favorite things.) So she's been a little sulky, the boys have been fighting because they want to go outside, and Grace, well, she's Grace.

All in all, I say bring on year round school!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Update




So again I have disappeared from blogdom and I have been told that I'm disappointing my loyal followers. Rich, my apologies! But integrating a 12 year old into the family has been...interesting. :-) (In addition to all of the normal Knipper chaos - for example, I had to interrupt this update to watch Zach lose his first baby tooth!)




Anyway, since my last post we've had a birthday - Zach's sixth, Sarah started school, Grace ruptured an ear drum and had another seizure, and Caleb, well, he's Caleb. Oh, plus we've found a buyer for my mom's house which is the last step in the probate. YAY!

So, updates:
Sarah and School. It's going well. Better than I expected actually. Her English is still limited, but she's a trooper. She gets up every morning without a struggle and gets on the bus. She brings home a lot of math homework - Algebra in the sixth grade, a real challenge for my math-phobic brain! She is overall a very happy child, but it's still weird that I have a child who's old enough to stay home by herself when I take Grace to therapy and can wear my clothes. Very weird! Plus, I've found that a Mother/Daughter viewing of Twilight can facilitate bonding. Hmm, I guess hot vampires cross all cultures. Who knew?



Hmm, "V" for victory over the Americans? Is this our contribution to the world?


Zach grows up. He's six now. Almost impossible for me to believe. He's reading now, and as we expected from the beginning, takes after my dad with an aptitude for math and science. I'm surrounded by science geeks! AGGGHHH! Caleb is my last hope. Anyway, for his birthday he got a big boy bike, a wobble board, and stilts. Yes. Stilts. We officially have the Weird Child. (I can say that because I held the title when I was a child. Anyone who turns their ballet leotard into a life-size puppet for Dungeons and Dragons plus makes them for all of her friends, qualifies as weird.) His current interest, a hold over from last year, is butterflies. There's an exhibit coming up at the Krohn Conservatory so guess where we'll be headed in a few weeks.


Why yes, that is a short-sleeved silk Chinese outfit he's wearing outside in thirty-degree weather. Also, note the ribbons on the handle bars of the bike. Two deflated yellow and black balloons have now been added to the decorations. We're not allowed to remove anything.

Grace takes us on another ride. Last week with Grace was full of ups and downs. Monday started with a ruptured ear drum and Steve got a taste of my daily life as he had to take all four kids to her doctor appointment because I had a Crohn's checkup. Fun was had by all. NOT! She followed up that little episode with a fifteen minute seizure on Thursday that we had to treat with rectal Valium. YAY! Always fun to hold your seizing five year old and shove meds up her rear. She slept most of the day after that and woke on Friday with a bad fever. More fun! At least we can say Grace keeps life interesting. Hmm, maybe there's a correlation between the gritty reality of being Grace's mom and the reason I've started to write fantasy? Who knows.



That's right, Grace. Smile and wave. Smile and wave.


Caleb keeps on trucking. His speech has been really improving. Up until recently, Zach and I were the only ones who could understand him. Now about 2 or 3 other people can get what he's saying about 20 percent of the time! He's back to having a few melt downs, crying and temper tantrums and such (sort of like lions and tigers and bears, oh my!) but I think it's a reaction to a new family member, especially since she's older and Chinese. He still has a lot of fear about all things Chinese, and yesterday we went to a Chinese grocery store. Well, he was clinging onto me for dear life. Seriously, on a normal trip to Walmart he's running down the aisle with me yelling after him, "Caleb, come here!" but this time he was right next to me (or Steve) clutching my hand. While it was a little hard to walk with a four-year-old Chinese boy clinging to my leg, it was better than chasing him down the aisles of Walmart. Hmm, maybe I should shop there more often?



Don't let the smile fool you. Evil lurks beneath that cute exterior.


So this is what's been happening at casa de Knipper, and maybe now that things are approaching normal, (for us anyway) I'll be able to write more. Or maybe not, since it's taken me over an hour just to write this post! (It has been written in between teeth pulling, Chinese interpretation, downloading pictures and dressing a wiggling autistic girl.) AGGH.

Rich, I hope this lengthy post makes up for the withdrawal you've been experiencing and I'll do my best not to let it happen again!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The big news of the day

Is that Sarah (yes, we're calling her Sarah now - her choice) starts school on Thursday! Gulp! I think I'm as nervous as she is. Nah, just kidding, I'm ready to do cartwheels at the thought of having everyone in school! Actually, the truth is probably somewhere in between. Isn't that always the case?

Today we went to Walmart and got her school supplies and I couldn't help being a little jealous. I loved that time of the year when school started again. Of course, I wasn't starting in the middle of the semester, not even speaking the language, but even so, I loved buying new pencils, notebooks, all of the stuff for school. She picked out all kinds of cute folders and pencils with sparkly erasers. So she's got all the stuff, now she just has to get through that first day. We visited the school on Monday and talked with the principal and director of the ESL program. They were both wonderful and I think she'll have a really good experience there once she gets past the nerves.

As for how she's adjusting, now that we're past the jet lag, I have to say she's doing a great job. The food is still difficult and she has nightmares at times, but overall, she's doing so much better than I thought. We've had a few times where she was testing the boundaries, but nothing more than I expected. Our biggest problem right now is the language and I think being in school, around kids her age, will really help motivate her to study. Right now I try to point out things and say the English word, sometimes she'll repeat it, sometimes she shrugs and walks off (in what must be the universal teen-speak for "I am so over you.")

So tomorrow is her last day of sleeping in late and watching Tom and Jerry all day. Stay tuned for the Thursday update!