Tag Archives: stress

And That’s a Wrap

From Family 2011

I’ve gone more than seven months without blogging here. Gee, you’d think life has been stressful or something…

Gladly, the stress in our home has been mostly distributed among the adults. Micah and Sophie are happily unaware of the majority of our family stress, although I’m sure they feel it from time to time, especially on days when Rochelle and I are not at our best.

Regrettably (and gladly, I suppose), we are aware that a huge source of unnecessary stress in our home comes from clutter, disorder and excess physical belongings. They distract from our spiritual needs, they cloud our thinking, and they impart their chaos to our thoughts. I’ve been aware of this growing problem for many years now, but only recently has it become so acute that I began contriving a solution and countermeasures.

As long as I can remember I’ve had a fondness for simplicity, a longing for a concise collection of belongings that could be easily transported, sorted and organized. Of course I haven’t always lived that way very well. I tend to hang on to things that I may need one day. Just in case. I love to be prepared, but preparedness isn’t about excess, it’s about necessary necessities.

I remember with great fondness my mission time in Mexico and my time living in small spaces as a student at SCAD. Moving from place to place required no more than a couple of hours to pack, and most (if not all) of my belongings could be carried by me alone. I sorely miss that mobility, and now my goal is to get my entire family into a position where we know what we own, why we own it, and how each item of our belongings is essential to our goals and priorities.

This will be a slow process, and one that I hope to share with you along the way.

If you’re interested, I highly recommend a book that I read recently called “Simplify” by Joshua Becker. I believe it is for Kindle only, but it is inexpensive and can be read from any Kindle reading application, even in a Web Interface that Amazon provides.

If you do not wish to pay for the book, you should still check out Becker’s website. Most of the ideas in his book are outlined in ample detail in his many blog posts there. I should warn you that I find his tone regarding simplification to be a tad overzealous at times, often coming off as a bit preachy. Rochelle didn’t feel preached at when she read Simplify, but I did in a couple of places. So if you’re not one to be preached at, perhaps just following our adventures here with my sporadic blog posts will be sufficient.

Although, in my excitement I can’t promise I won’t preach at you either. Simplification is something that I believe we should all strive for.

That is our great endeavor this year. It isn’t a new year’s resolution, but it is a change in our home that began with the new year.

The rest of our family news will be covered in greater detail below, but suffice it to say that we’ve experienced a wonderful close to 2011, and we are all looking forward to 2012.

In the latter half of 2011:

  • Micah started at a new school.
  • Sophie saw a neuro-ophthalmologist.
  • We flew out to visit my parents in Arizona.
  • Rochelle and I got new shoes.

Books We are Reading

Brian

Hurray! I’m reading again. My main Christmas gift this year was a new Kindle Touch. Since I got my Kindle, I’ve actually read several books. Most of them have been small, free books (just to get my reading muscles warmed back up after such a long period of minimal use), but I did read The Hunger Games, book one. I enjoyed it, but I can’t say it was one of my favorites. The story was excellent, but I wasn’t able to connect with the characters, and the first person perspective paired with the present tense writing style didn’t agree with me. I think I’ll enjoy the movie, and I plan on reading the next book in the trilogy soon.

Currently, I am actually attempting to finish nine books that I’ve started in the last year. The one I started most recently on my Kindle is The Frog Princess. I’m not going to recommend this book to anyone except the most curious. It’s not horrible, but I’m only a third of the way through and I am going to have to force myself to finish it. I want to finish it, but it’s not the best writing for me.

If you really want to keep up with my reading, I log all of my progress on books I am currently reading, rate and review books I’ve read, and I even keep track of books I intend to read at a site called Goodreads. Here’s the link to my profile page there: http://www.goodreads.com/brianhaddad

Rochelle

Rochelle has always read a ton. She is currently knee deep in her twelfth read-through of the Harry Potter series. I think she’s on book 5 or somewhere thereabouts. I lose track of how many times she’s read them and which book she is on.

For Christmas she got all 8 of the Harry Potter movies on Blu-Ray. We’ve been watching them since we got back home from our little vacation, and so far we’re halfway through the sixth movie. I haven’t read the books, so I’m trying to enjoy the movies just as they are, but I can’t help but notice inconsistencies in the characters and holes in the plots – all of which Rochelle assures me is the result of the movies being inaccurate. I plan to read the Harry Potter series once the ebooks are released later this year.

Rochelle is also on Goodreads, and she too keeps track of books she liked, books she plans to read, and sometimes even books that she is currently reading (unless she is reading something that she’s read before). You can visit her profile there at: http://www.goodreads.com/rochellehaddad

How the Kids Are

Micah

From Family 2011

This year Micah started going to a new school. For his first two years here in Maryland he attended a school just outside of the military base where we live. The school was mediocre at best, often causing more problems than it solved with new policies and rules.

By the end of his second grade year there, Rochelle had nearly reached the limits of her patience dealing with the school, and to her great delight a new public charter school was granted permission to operate on  base.

Unfortunately, the new school, called Imagine Andrews, does not yet have a dedicated, official school building (they are imagining they have a school building). For this year they are stationed in a run-down, hastily remodeled maintenance building at the edge of one of the base golf courses. By next school year they hope to complete construction on an actual school building, complete with a much needed cafeteria, gymnasium, playground and additional classroom space.

The curriculum seems to be challenging Micah so far, which is good. There are several problems, since it is a new school being run by a new faculty in cramped conditions, but we are doing our best to remain positive and supportive of their efforts.

Micah, along with the rest of us, was excited to go back to Arizona to visit his Grandma and Grandpa Haddad. Amazingly, neither of our children showed any concern that Santa wouldn’t be able to find them in a different home.

Micah came home with plenty of cool gifts, including some fun games and projects, Lego sets, spy gear, and some books. He doesn’t know it yet, but his toy collection is going to be drastically reduced under our new policy of simplification, and we are going to help him ensure that his toys are limited to the most versatile, fun toys that he can find. Of course, we aren’t going to be totally oppressive with this, but it will be good for him to be discerning and thoughtful about what to keep and what to get rid of. I learned a lot as a child when my parents would make me dump my toy collection on the ground and think hard about what to keep. I’m hoping he’ll remember the activity with the same fondness that I do now.

Sophie

From Family 2011

Sophie is doing especially well. Every day she shows us new ways that she is smarter than we previously suspected, and she is developing an awesome sense of humor, along with a sharp attitude.

As mentioned above, she did have to see a neuro-ophthalmologist. It started when her last MRI in November generated some concern. We do not yet have any real reason to worry, but there appears to be some thickening in an area that her doctors are sure is merely scar tissue. It is not unheard of for scar tissue to thicken a little, even a few years after surgery. However, there is a possibility that this thickening could be a type of tumor growth.

Some of you have been lucky enough to see Sophie recently, and if you’ve seen her recently it’s likely she’s shown you her “eye trick.” She recently learned that she can roll her eyes up and point them in two different vertical directions. When she showed her doctors, they decided to send her to a specialist (the neuro-ophthalmologist) to see if the anomaly could be related to a new tumor growth.

With this new specialist, Dr. Avery, Sophie was a little angel. He was particularly impressed with her every step of the way through the appointment. He assessed her vision with one of the most in-depth eye exams I’ve ever seen, always amazed at her intelligence, cooperation and maturity. He couldn’t stop raving about how well she was doing.

Near the end of the examination he informed us that she would need eye drops to dilate her pupils. He said that it would “S-T-I-N-G a little” and that there was usually a lot of “S-C-R-E-A-M-I-N-G” with other children. Rochelle and I looked at each other, then told him that he didn’t need to spell it out with her. We explained to Sophie that Dr. Avery was going to put some drops in her eyes that would sting and hurt a little, but that it would go away fast.

I had her rest her head in my lap and helped the doctor hold her head still while he applied the drops. She barely budged, and didn’t complain even a little. Dr. Avery’s amazement was complete. He couldn’t recall precisely the last time he had seen such a cooperative, brave patient.

In the end, Dr. Avery concluded that the eye issue is a result of the original tumor and swelling that she had two years ago, though there was no visible sign that it was a direct result of the swelling (apparently you can see that sort of damage quite clearly even years later on the back of the eye). He was certain that there was no evidence that this eye problem was a sign of any new tumor growth, which came as a great relief to us all.

Sophie especially loved the trip out to Arizona, and had been talking about seeing her uncles, aunt, cousins and grandparents for several weeks beforehand.

For Christmas she also got some craft items, some books, a few toys and her favorite: a pink Nintendo DSi. She may not look terribly excited in the photo above, but she plays it nearly every day, and has a particular fondness for a certain princess game.

Sophie’s next MRI is in February (on Valentine’s day) and we will likely post an update after we get the results.

Until Later

Especially now that we have something specific to write about, and since its process will help me feel more organized about life in general, I expect to be a little better about blogging. But alas I’ve never successfully promised to be better about blogging, and I’m not going to make any promises!

I trust that you’ve learned to be satisfied with my ineptitude at blogging, and I should likewise be more forgiving with myself.

It is our deepest and greatest hope that all of you have transitioned safely and happily into 2012. We look forward to making sure we blog at least once this year, and we also look forward to your emails, Facebook posts, phone calls, text messages and old-fashioned paper mail.

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Filed under Celebrations, Exciting, Holidays, Sophie PMA, Vacation

Five Month Radio Silence

From Family 2011

It seems I suddenly became a terrible blog administrator. I was doing fairly well for quite some time, only missing a month or two every once in a while, but then 2011 happened and it’s been five months since my last post (almost to the day!). I did do one little post on my personal blog in April, but that one wasn’t a very good one. So within the next couple of days I hope to have this one and my personal blog updated.

Going off our Family 2011 photo album, I can see that we’ve done quite a few things already this year. We’ve been to the tunnels of Crystal City, we went ice skating in Pentagon City, we’ve been to the Smithsonian, the Supreme Court, the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy hangar complex, and we enjoyed a visit from Grandma and Grandpa Haddad for Micah’s baptism. We all enjoyed our birthdays (they are all within the first four-and-a-half months of the year), Rochelle’s family had a wedding and a funeral (both of which she attended), and I may have finally decided on a career path (this is a big deal). Some friends of ours left the area, some came to visit, and we’ve made a few new ones. Overall, everyone has enjoyed good health, and we are doing well.

Oh, and I got to ride in a helicopter.

Books We are Reading

Brian

Despite the recently circulating rumors, I can read. In fact, I recently finished a book, and afterward decided it was time to catch up on the last eight months worth of magazines I had been letting pile up.

I’ve always been an avid reader of Popular Science and Popular Mechanics, the former being my favorite, and the latter having several practical elements that prevent me from being able to ignore it entirely. As a subscriber, upon the arrival of either, I would have it finished before the day’s end under normal circumstances, but with work being as stressful as it has been, I began piling them up back in August and hadn’t gotten around to reading them until this month.

For more about the book that I read, you’ll have to wait to read about it at my personal blog (that post is up now).

Rochelle

Rochelle just finished reading the Harry Potter series again. This is something she does regularly.

After finishing that, she began reading The Poisonwood Bible. It took until about the  halfway point before she really got into it, but she seems to be enjoying it quite thoroughly now.

How the Kids Are

Micah

From Family 2011

While many of you share our religious views, much of our family may not be familiar with our beliefs.

In an attempt to quickly and briefly address any questions, I will share our views on what I think are the most common differences between religions when it comes to baptism: how to do it and who should do it (at what age).

We believe in baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, as taught in the New Testament. We also believe that the ordinance should be performed by one holding the authority of the priesthood, that same priesthood that John the Baptist held (he being a descendant of Aaron, the brother of Moses).

Finally, we believe that young children, before they are accountable for their own actions, have no need for baptism since they are not yet in need of a remission of their sins. Yes, we believe that baptism is a necessary step in our journey to Heaven, but small children are innocent before the Lord. Therefore, only after they become accountable for their own sins, knowing and choosing their own actions, are they able to make the decision to be baptized.

Micah, having reached the age of accountability, decided that he wanted to be baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He made this decision knowing that it was not something we required of him and knowing that he could wait to make the decision later if he should so choose.

The photo above is just moments after coming out of the chilly water.

I have to tell you, I felt bad for him. That water was cold. Preparations had been made so that the water would be warm. They filled the baptismal font earlier that morning with nice, warm water. Before dunking him in the water, we had a small service in which we prayed, sang and listened to some remarks about baptism from my father. He smeared peanut butter on his face. The children loved it. Then we all went into the room where the font is located and were shocked to find that all of the water had drained!

So, with only a little water in the hot water heater’s tank, they began to fill the font again. Of course, rather than wait several hours to fill it full of warm water, we had to settle for a little hot water and mostly cool water. We didn’t even wait for it to fill to the optimal depth. Having served a mission for our church and having done a few baptisms before, I knew that I could get him under water no deeper than my knees. So we filled the font until just after my mother’s remarks (she spoke about the Holy Ghost, a gift we receive after baptism as part of our confirmation into the Church). Then we all went back in to the font room. The water was pretty cool. Micah shivered pretty hard. With just one good dunk though he was baptized.

Because the immersion under the water must be complete, people often have to be dunked more than once if any part of them fails to submerge. Micah only had to endure the biting cold water for one submersion though. He was glad.

In addition to his baptism, he has enjoyed seeing the museums with us, he enjoyed the ice skating, and he’s been doing well in school.

Sophie

From Family 2011

Whether she’s cracking her mother up with the angry mean face, getting an MRI, or hanging out with me after work, Sophie is the brightest star in our home. She can cheer anyone up with a hug, melt anyone’s heart with a smile, or make even the angriest parent crack a smile with her antics. Undeniably, she has the cutest toes in the house, and she gives the best hugs.

Obviously, with five months having gone by, a lot has happened to tell about, but I can’t possibly remember it all. I’m really terrible about keeping a journal (these blogs are the best I can do most of the time, and we all see how well that’s working out).

In February she turned three. She is very aware of how old she is, and she knows she’ll be turning four next. She tells people this from time to time. Also, she understands relative age fairly well, tagging anyone younger than her as being one or two years old, and anyone older as at least four or five. Just recently she informed me that I am older than her, estimating my age as being four, then (seeing that I am obviously more than just one year older than she is) changing her guess to five (with an “oops, silly me” giggle).

Every now and then Rochelle and I share short little blurbs about Sophie on Facebook. Here are a few from each of us (more recent ones come first):

Rochelle:

I was watching a movie with Sophie. Two people started kissing in the movie and she said, “Look at those two people kissing.”
I asked her how that made her feel and she said, “Huhuhu, jealous.”

Sophie: Don’t sing anymore. It’s my turn to sing.
Me: Okay, you sing it then.
Sophie: I don’t know how to sing this song!

Me: We’re going on a toad trip tomorrow.
Sophie: Rearry!?!
Me: Really.
Sophie: Rearry!?!
Me:Yes. Really.
Sophie with a wistful look in her eyes: Can you take me to see the lanterns?

Brian:

Sophie (playing by herself) – “I did it! I am AWESOME!”

Sophie (holding MY flashlight): “I’m going to play with it.”
Me: “Can I please have it back? It’s mine.”
Sophie: “No, it’s mine.”
Me: “No it’s not.”
Sophie: “I’m Sophie and I’m the lost princess. It’s mine.”
I took it back. She’s getting better at this.

Rochelle: Sophie, say Wild Thornberrys.
Sophie: Wild Thornbabies. Wild Thornbabies to the sky!

As you can tell, we thoroughly enjoy having her in our family. She can be difficult, but it’s worth it.

Oh, and she’s in this video.

Also, her latest MRI looked clean again, so we won’t be going in for an MRI after three months like we had been. We get to wait six months instead.

Until Later

Despite five months worth of activity to report on, I wanted to keep this post short-ish to prevent you from taking one look and turning back out of fright. I promise I’ll try to be more regular than I have been so far this year. If you have anything you’d like to tell us, leave a comment or contact us using the contact information on the blog’s main page.

We love you all and hope you’re having as awesome a year as we are so far. Be sure to check out our Family 2011 photo album to see a few of the things we’ve seen thus far.

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Filed under Exciting, Travels

Taking it Easy

From Family Stuff

I’ve been taking a break from work since Monday last week, but it’s off to work again for me next week. These two weeks have gone by far too quickly.

The goal has been to take it easy and relieve some of the stress work was inflicting on me. I’ve had a good time hanging out with Rochelle and Sophie during the day (driving them crazy) and I have felt a little less stressed out. My lower stress levels have helped me feel a little better prepared to meet the challenges of parenting, and I think everyone has benefited a little from having me around more (or, at least, I’d like to think so).

Sophie has been getting cuter and cuter, and Micah is growing and learning every day. We haven’t done anything terribly exciting, but that’s the point of taking a break, right?

We did find a cool Lego store not far from where we live, and we took Sophie out there last week and we intend to take Micah soon. We’ll probably have pictures of that for next month.

Oh, and we have the kids’ Halloween costumes pretty much done. Sophie’s can be seen in our web album, but Micah’s is a surprise for next month.

Don’t forget to check both our Family Web Album and our YouTube Page. I’m currently uploading the last of five new videos and there are 19 new photos (starting with this one). At the YouTube channel, just click on the Uploads tab (between All and Favorites) and check out the top five videos in the list.

How the Kids Are

Micah

Micah news… What to say? We’ve been working on his lying. It turns out he lies to us a lot. We’ve always suspected it, and we’ve been aware of several (if not most) of the lies, but the problem began to become chronic. So, I had a definitive talk with him touching on: Satan is the father of all lies, even small lies can turn into big problems, and we need to know the truth because parents and teachers can’t help him if we are supplied with false information about his state of health or how an accident occurred (the whole thing started when he lied to me about how many days it had been since his last bowel movement – it had been long enough ago that he had convinced himself that his body magically no longer had the need to poop).

The talk seemed to go well, and I gave him a chance to come clean on any lies he had been perpetuating (the talk took place in the bathroom where I had him sitting on the toilet and, eventually, he pooped). Since the talk, I have noticed an effort to be more honest with us, but it’s a small effort.

It turns out that many of his lies are not intentional attempts at masking the truth, but are in fact the result of his complete lack of ability to portray sequential events even close to the way they actually happened. I think this ability was damaged as a result of his unbridled use of invented “facts” to support his cases in the past (I believe many lawyers and politicians suffer from a similar cognitive anomaly). We’re working on it, but it’s been rough.

I have seen some improvement over the last week, and I believe there is plenty of hope for him.

On a more positive note, Micah and I have begun reading through a book you may have heard of: “The Dangerous Book for Boys.” It’s full of fun stories, information, ideas, games and miscellaneous boy stuff. Some of the material is definitely targeted at boys a little older than Micah, but it won’t hurt to look through it now and let him have a solo go at the book when he’s older.

Sophie

Sophie’s big thing has been picky eating. The only things she’ll readily eat could be counted on your fingers. Late in September, though, I made a discovery that might help ensure she eats more rounded meals.

We’ve known for a while that she loves ketchup enough to try almost anything with it, but we had only used it for things like eggs and a few vegetables in the past. Most of the time we would squirt some on her plate and let her dunk her food in the ketchup.

This time I squirted a little on her plate and pretended to dunk some of her food in it. Then, I slipped the food in her mouth and she quickly devoured it. I did this with stuffing (which she was refusing to try) and green beans (which she always detests). Soon, over half of her dinner was gone and we hadn’t even touched the ketchup.

She was enjoying the food so much, that I just had to break the news to her. “You know, Sophie, I haven’t actually put ketchup on any of your food.” I saw her brow furl while she contemplated the meaning of what I told her, but it didn’t slow her down any.

Eventually she decided to eat just the ketchup with her fork, at which point she stopped eating the rest of her food. By then she had eaten plenty of dinner though, so we just watched and smiled.

The next night after dinner she turned to me and said, “I need a bath.” So, she got one.

Also, she finally settled on what to call her pacifier. For a long time she would just point and say, “peeeeeeeees.” Now, it’s: “Bau-bau.”

Most recently (just yesterday, in fact), she got tired of us denying her the use of her “bau-bau” during waking hours. Generally, if she is laying down getting ready to fall asleep, and she asks for it, we’ll give it to her. However, she often asks for it outside of sleeping time, and we say no (or ask her if she wants to take a nap – she generally says no to the nap).

Yesterday she started doing a horrible fake cry (even she can’t keep a straight face or keep from half smiling) and whining with the cries, “bau-bau.” It really sounds pretty sad, but it’s no Hollywood performance. She tried this three or four times throughout the day, and each time her performance was met with laughter from us – and no pacifier.

Finally, I can’t get off the subject of Sophie without telling you about her obsession with checking the mail and going to the playground.

She asks, frequently, to go check the mail. Starting at eight in the morning all the way until the mailman comes in the late afternoon, she asks, “mee-oo?”

Taking her to the playground is the most fun I can hope to have in a day. She runs around, asking for help into the swings (she likes the little kid style swings, but also loves to ride the big kid swing on her belly) and climbing around the other equipment. One of her favorite things to do is go down slides. Spiral slides are her favorite because the descent is slower and more controlled, but when she’s feeling adventurous she’ll have you wait to catch her at the bottom of a long straight one and she’ll zip down into your arms. She has so much fun, and she loves exploring.

Until Later

Thanks for reading and please feel free to leave a comment for us below if you enjoyed one of the stories or if you have any questions. Leaving comments is free, you don’t need to have an account or anything, and we’d love to hear from you!

From Family Stuff

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Filed under Normal Life, Vacation