Wednesday, April 30, 2008

laundry, laundry, everywhere

The following is a really boring laundry post. If your eyes are glazing over, feel free to skip it.

Recently there was a "loveliness of laundry" fair in blogdom. I didn't participate. I didn't even read it all, life was crazy at the time. But I've been meaning to post our latest laundry routine. Laundry is one of those areas in which I've experienced some major growing pains. Less than 4 years ago, we only had one we are expecting a 4th,,,if you count Kain as ours. I do. I have to do his laundry, after all. And feed him. But that's a whole other post. Anyway, I know my laundry feat is small compared to some of the great big families out there, but it's been an adjustment for us just the same. For a while I was doing laundry a little at a time, one or two loads most days of the week. I didn't like that felt like I was never *done*. Now I do all the laundry, all at once, once a week.

Every Monday morning, I bring down our laundry from upstairs, as well as the laundry from both downstairs bathrooms, and dump it all on the laundry room floor. Kain dumps the laundry hamper from the boys' room, and Maria brings hers. I start the hot water in the washer, then plop myself down on the laundry room floor (yes, I can still plop quite easily this pregnant,,,but the getting back up is hard) and start sorting into piles...whites, light colors, and darks. I start the whites first in the hot water (cleaning rags go in here too, cuz they are gross), and the rest I was in cold. I keep swapping loads all day long, trying to get most all of it done by the end of the day. When the loads come out, they are sorted right away. I have six small hampers that I break out and spread across the floor, one for linens, one for each child, and two for John and me (one for stuff that goes in our dresser and one for stuff that gets hung up). So, while I'm pulling stuff out of the drier, I am sorting it into the appropriate hamper for later. Tuesday morning I continue, though that is our co-op day and I don't have much time, so hopefully I'm just finishing up the last load or two. That afternoon, I start putting away. This is my big chore to get done before picking up the kids from the co-op. I take each hamper of clothes to their respective rooms and start folding and putting away. Maria folds and puts away her own, and Kain will be taught to do this as well sometime in the next school year. If all goes well, all the laundry is done for the week by the end of Tuesday.


it must be a guy thing....

Once I dated a guy that thought it was hysterically funny to try and teach my parrot cuss words. Now, John would never be quite so crass, but he does think it's quite amusing to teach Jack to say weird things, like...

--Bob Marley protest song lyrics, and

--lines from old Warner Brother cartoons, like "consequences, schmonsequences, so long as I'm rich", and

--lines from obscure British comedy shows I can't even repeat because I don't even know them well enough to remember them now,

--and now, Queen lyrics. I heard Jack tonight in the tub singing, "WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS, WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS...."

This isn't just my husband either. My dad does the same thing. I don't even want to know where, "Orlando, Orlando, is there an Orlando here?" came from...

Miley Cyrus

Amen. Amen, Amen, Amen.

Monday, April 28, 2008

tick tock, tick tock

Time is ticking away towards my due date, but I'm doing well on my list, so that's really motivating.

The first weekend I finished moving Jack into Kain's room. This meant shoveling out the tiny closet in there, which had been used for storage, piling all that junk in the dining room, and moving most of Kain's clothing onto the top rod. I left just his socks, underwear, and pajamas in a couple of the dresser drawers. Then I moved Jack's clothing to the bottom rod and drawers. I also moved in warm weather clothes and purged outgrown cold weather clothes. I hung a couple of hooks in the closet for robes and backpacks, and put a couple of plastic crates on the closet floor for each boy's shoes.

Then there was the matter of all the storage stuff...the far more painful part of the weekend. I had all the junk from Kain's closet already. Then I emptied out the large, overstuffed, hard to use closet that runs under the stairs. This is the first time I have done this since we moved in....four years ago. It was gruesome. I swept it all out and ended up with a dining room full of dusty baby equipment, disorganized boxes of holiday decorations, suitcases, bags, and other seldom used things. I purged through and threw away EIGHT kitchen trashbags full of stuff, added bigger things to the growing castoff pile in the garage, and set some things aside to give to the local thrift store. I set the baby equipment I was keeping in a pile for the kids and John to move upstairs. Then I organized all the holiday decorations worth keeping. Back into closet went a modest collection of sterlite boxes with the decorations, some backpacks on a hanger, the folding card table, the suitcases, and the cat carrier. Much, much better.

So that was last weekend. This past weekend was time to clean our master bedroom and make room for Peanut. This bedroom now had a big pile of baby equipment, over a dozen sterlite boxes of not currently being worn kids clothes that I'd already purged through on different day, currently unused schoolbooks, and general mess and clutter. I purged through the room, especially our overgrown movie collection. I rearranged furniture, finding better places for the vanity and other furniture and I moved all the boxes of clothing and baby equipment over on one far wall to make room for painting the last 1/3 of the room this coming weekend. John helped me set up the crib, sidecar style against my side of the bed. It looks very nice up there, or will once the painting is done and things are all in place.

In other news, I spent Saturday night having some decently strong, regular contractions for about three hours. I even called my mom to put her on possible "something might be going on, keep the phone by your bed" alert...but they went away. They came back Sunday night, but for a shorter time, I didn't even bother timing them or anything. I've hand handfuls of them here and there today, but nothing impressive. I am obviously nesting a bit, as evidenced by the fact that I have done more cleaning and purging in the last couple of weeks than I have in the last couple of years, in spite of my aching back and hips. I continue to be extremely huge and uncomfortable and wouldn't feel badly at all to have the baby a couple of weeks early, even if it's before the bedroom gets painted. I'm just saying.

But, I guess if I don't get the bedroom finished now, with the whole nesting thing going on, it might be another couple of years before it gets done...

Friday, April 25, 2008

more Peanut updates

First of all,,,if I haven't visited your blog in a while, I'm sorry. Chances are also good that I have visited and haven't commented. I have little patience for computer time right now...don't know why, although I have been having some sciatic pain off and on too. I'm getting, really, just comically large and uncomfortable...

Yesterday I had my 36 week "risk assessment" appointment with my midwife's back-up OB. This final appointment with the OB clears me for delivery with the midwife at the alternative birthing center (aka, house with one bedroom-turned-birthing-room owned by midwife across the street from the hospital). She did a surprise ultrasound while we were there, the only one I've had, because she just wanted to make sure the baby was positioned well for delivery. Everything looked great, and it was neat to get a peek at Peanut. He/she (she said she couldn't tell, and we didn't really want to know anyway) is head down, posterior, and looks good and healthy. We could see him/her (I hate saying "it"!) "breathing" amniotic fluid in and out, which was really neat too. She said the placenta and cord look good and healthy, and the placenta is attached to the belly side of my uterus which is why it's been tricky sometimes to find and keep a heartbeat at my appointments lately.

Then today I had an appointment with my midwife. Everything, of course, was still fine, but of course you never can hear that enough I guess. She did say I had a trace amount of blood in my urine, which might mean that I'm starting to dilate and having a little bit of show. It could be, I passed a bit of mucus the other day too. (By the way,,,I'm a nurse, for those who don't know, that took care of women and babies for a living, so I'm pretty free with blood and mucus talk around here. Sorry if that bothers anyone. :)) I'd love to have this baby a bit sooner than later, but I also know you can walk around a bit dilated for quite a while, so I'm trying not to get my hopes up. Oops...too late!

Anyway, we are really all looking forward to meeting this sweet baby. And not just so we can stop calling it "it". I'm feeling positive and good about the coming labor, and I've gotten a couple of chances to practice my breathing and relaxation techniques during the couple of gallstones I've passed, hehe.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Kain's narration

Our curriculum, being classical in nature, uses a lot of narration. For the uninitiated, narration is a method of developing listening skills and reading comprehension. We don't use readers with their neat little compartmentalized stories and comprehension questions at the end. We use real books, and the child "retells" the story in their own words and often illustrates it as well. As they get older, their narrations become better and more detailed. The narrations can also become writing practice as they get older, and can involve other subjects. For example, as writing becomes easier for Kain, he will copy his narrations instead of them being left in my typing. And for Maria, her narrations are used for art appreciation. We will do a picture study, and she will describe the picture back to me, I will write down her description, edit it with her for good grammar and sentence composition, and then she will recopy her edited description in her best cursive.

When they are illustrated, I will often include a "caption" for the picture. This is Kain's narration from religion today. These early narrations are some of my favorite assignments. Their thoughts are so precious and funny, and you never know what in the story will impress them or what kinds of details they will add. This narration was from a story about St. Anne from "Once Upon a Time Saints".

You can click on the picture to enlarge it. He describes the picture as "St. Joachim praying in the desert with cactus and sand". The speech bubbles up on top are God "answering" his prayer for a child. In case you can't tell, they say, "OK, I HEARD YOU".

Thursday, April 17, 2008

the due date

That irritating little clicker over on the right keeps ticking the days down. I now have, according to the clicker, 31 days until my due date. My plans to perfectly organize my life before Peanut's arrival are not working out so well. I thought I could get some done in the afternoons after school was done for the day, but it turns out that I actually use that time to do lots of other stuff,,,like laundry, and housework, and cooking, that kind of stuff. And with the baby coming, and the "visit from the out of state in-laws" that will follow, keeping up with the housework and laundry and all is important to my stress level. When I look at the messy house, I think, "What if I went into labor RIGHT NOW?" There's really no time to do anything extra. So, I've picked some tasks to work on each remaining weekend. Assuming the baby doesn't come early, I should finish at least the most important things. And if it *does* come early...well, won't all get done. Life will continue. :) So, here's the layout...there are only 4 weekends left.

1st weekend- organize and purge Kain's closet and dresser to make room for Jack's clothing. Move Jack's clothing out of dresser and changing table into Kain's closet and dresser. Make seasonal clothing changes for boys and help Maria do hers. Make list of needed warm-weather clothing and hit Target website.

2nd weekend- Purge and clean up master bedroom (which is also where the baby will be sleeping). Rearrange furniture to make room for baby stuff. If time, go through the really junked out under the stairs closet and organize the holiday decorations and all. Not because this has anything to do with the baby coming. Just because.

3rd weekend- Finish painting master bedroom/bathroom. It is already 2/3 of the way painted and needs to be finished. Bring changing table and baby dresser upstairs. Buy new bookshelf for playroom and bring old bookshelf upstairs to put in closet for storing not currently being used schoolbooks. Not because this has anything to do with the baby coming. Just because.

4th weekend- Wash baby stuff and put in dresser. Catch up laundry and pack our bags, including the kids' bags for going to stay at Meme's house when labor starts. Set up crib, co-sleeper style, at my side of the bed (it's mostly put together already). Keep up with laundry daily since, 1. everyone will have at least a couple of outfits packed in suitcases, and 2. so no one has to worry about it for at least several days after returning home with the baby.

This doesn't include the weekend of May 17-18. My due date is May 19th, after all, and even I'm not that bold.

Papa Ben

The Pope is here, and I am pretty much in the dark about it. We have basic, basic cable, you see, and this is a good thing most of the time, but every once in a while I wish we had some decent news coverage and/or EWTN. Yesterday I watched TV for a while in the morning trying to catch some coverage of the official greeting ceremonies. I found some at the Early Show, where, over the Pope's speech, the broke the news that apparently there was a big sex scandal in the church a while back. Anyone hear of this? Oh, you have? Ok, I was just checking, because all day it was breaking all over the news like it happened yesterday, so I was wondering... I watched some angry people insist that the Pope address the issue...and he did, in what I thought was a sincere and humble way...and then watched them insist that it was "too little too late". I'm not really sure what they expect this Pope, who was an Archbishop in Germany when these abuse cases happened, to do to satisfy them at this point. I agree, for the victims, anything would be too little too late at this point. I agree that the ideal thing would have been for the abuse charges to be handled appropriately way back when they first occurred, i.e., for the priests that hurt these children and abused their vocation so horribly to be not only arrested but locked in a private cell with large, angry inmates looking for new girlfriends. But the butchering of these cases came out years ago, people have been sent to jail, priests have been defrocked, settlements have been paid...I'm not really sure what would not be "too little too late" at this point. They did interview some priest in the Washington D.C. area and the (ignorant and overbearing) reporter, again acting like this was fresh-breaking news, demanded to know what the Church was going to do ensure that these cases were prevented in the future. The bewildered priest started to list off all the things that *have* been done since these cases broke...a *lot* has changed, actually...and if the reporter had actually bothered to learn anything about the issue she would have known that, but whatever... and then she wanted to know what the Pope and his staff thought about his "lack of popularity" among Americans. This just made me laugh out loud. This is an ongoing issue in the American press, you see. I heard a lot of these kinds of comments when Pope John Paul II died and the conclave was going on, there were lots of comments about the "popularity" of different cardinals, which cardinals were too "controversial" (i.e., conservative) to actually be elected, because surely the church was ready to elect someone more mainstream by now?, and questions about how these different "candidates" would be working the Vatican to promote their election, that kind of thing. Americans assume everything is a democratic process. The Church is not a democracy. The Church believes that the Pope is the Vicar of Christ on Earth, that Jesus Christ chose the first Pope, Peter ("on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it"), and that there have been a direct line of Popes ever since. A Pope is elected by conclave, a very prayerful and solemn process, because the Cardinals want the Holy Spirit to pick the Pope. Because it's not a popularity contest. He was elected Pope, not prom queen, and I seriously doubt he cares one wit about how popular the American press considers him.

After I disgustedly gave up on actually finding out anything about this actual Pope and his actual visit here, I left the room for a bit and came back in to find the programming had switched to The View. Ick. I've never really sat through a whole episode of this show...the cackling of the hens involved is a big turn off for me, and frankly I found it really exasperating after Rosie O'Donnell joined the flock after turning from Sweet and Funny Person to Angry Lesbian with a Giant Chip on Her Shoulder. Of course, Rosie is gone, but Whoopie is there. And Whoopie thinks that the whole problem of the sex scandals would have been avoided completely if only the backward and archaic church allowed women priests. And allowed priests to marry, because apparently the reason these priests felt the need to abuse young boys is simply because they couldn't get any anywhere else. Because, after all, women never commit abuse. Nor do married men. They are never pedophiles, right? Any shrink will tell you that the reason people abuse children is simply because they aren't getting any at home, right? Good call, Whoopie.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The spirit is willing

but my back is weak....
My energy level has been good the past week. I've been really motivated to get stuff done so I can feel finally ready for the baby to come. Maria and I spent the weekend digging through storage boxes of unorganized kids' clothing. We had a year or so when we had clothing coming in faster than I could organize it. When I was pregnant with Jack, I had an ultrasound at 30 weeks that said he was a girl...and hand-me-downs of baby girl clothes followed. Then, 10 weeks later...Jack was born. Not a girl. And hand-me-downs of baby boy clothes came. Then we had clothing that Maria had outgrown, clothing that Jack had outgrown, clothing for Jack to grow *into*, and finally, when Kain arrived, clothing Kain had outgrown as well. After Christmas, I dug through these boxes and pulled out Maria's outgrown clothing (7 boxes worth!) and gave it to a friend with two smaller girls. I'd given away Maria's tiny clothes a long time ago. These things were all size 7 or bigger. Even if this baby is a girl, that's too many years to hang onto something someone else could be using. Then I dug out clothing that Kain had outgrown and gave it to a friend of mine that has a boy a couple of years younger than Kain. This same friend has given me almost everything Jack has ever worn, so I felt like it was the least I could do...and it truly wasn't much. Not a lot of clothing survives Kain and is still worth passing on.

So, this weekend, I had clothes Jack had outgrown, clothes that didn't yet fit Jack, and assorted baby clothes. We sorted and organized these, pulling out all neutral baby stuff, including cloth dipes, to be washed and ready for Peanut in May. We boxed up and labeled "baby boy" and "baby girl" stuff so that these things would be easy to find when we bring home...well, whichever type of baby we happen to have. And then there's a couple of boxes of "toddler boy" and "preschool boy", and one lone half-full box that contains a few too big things I have been given for Maria and Kain.

At the same time, I was able to pull out spring and summer clothing for the kids as well. This week I plan to switch out their clothes, sort out what fits, and figure out what holes I need to fill. In the process I can finish moving Jack's clothes into Kain's room and free up his dresser and changing table for the baby.


In other news, we had our first family yard day yesterday! It was beautiful weather,,,just cool enough to stay comfortable, and sunny that I got my first sunburn of the year. Maria and I raked. And raked. And raked. We just wanted to do this one messy corner of the front yard by the fence, but once we got over there it we found out that apparently every leaf in the whole neighborhood had blown into this one corner. It was a *lot* of raking. Maria's chief job was climbing in and out of the yard waste can and stomping leaves down, a la the "I Love Lucy" grape stomping episode, which coincidentally we just saw on TV the other night. Then I dragged Kain out of the house and put him to work helping me rake a much smaller corner. Kain and I also weeded a big overgrown flower bed, gathered fallen branches and sticks out of the front yard, and hacked down some brush growing along the fence. The kids weeded out the little beds around their baby dogwood trees and we planted some wildflower seeds around them. Not the best choice...some of these flowers will probably grow bigger than the trees...but it was a low-maintenance choice. With that, the front yard was done, and we took a long lunch break and had Chick-Fil-A out on the back deck.

After lunch, we tackled the back yard, with considerably less back and hips were killing me at this point. Kain and Maria hacked down large weedy overgrowth around the huge flower beds that wrap around the back yard and hauled the mess to our quickly growing brush pile. I cleaned up our large deck of the considerable mess of leaves and branches, cleaned up some outside toys, and spray painted a large, rusty, wrought iron plant stand that I'm hoping to use to bring indoors and grow some herbs in pots. I also cleaned out the assorted large pots on the deck and planted some seed in those. John, this whole time, was busy hacking down the rainforest that has grown in the three foot path between the garage and back fence. I wanted to do some work in the other flower beds, but I reached a point where I just couldn't do anymore. We took an early dinner break and had pizza and movie night.

This morning I am sore and achy, but I'm proud of what we got done. We still have plenty to do, at least enough to fill one more family yard day for sure. Those large flower beds out back still have to be weeded and seeded, and there's a few smaller ones too...the previous owners sure loved flower beds. And there's some brush along the back fence, and lots of sticks and branches to pick up, the gravel driveway and path that wrap around the house needs to be herbicided (is that a word?), and the siding on the north side of the house needs to be cleaned. After the yard waste can is emptied on Thursday, we will need to fill it right back up and keep it filled each week all summer long to get rid of that huge brush pile. But we made a lot of progress, and I'm proud of my little work crew.

Friday, April 11, 2008

family yard day

We have a large double lot yard that has spent a lot of the last couple of years as an overgrown mess. It's got several large flower beds that wrap around the house, lots of smaller areas that need to be weedwacked, gravel paths and driveways that quickly become overgrown with weeds, and several large trees that shed various messed depending on the season. When we bought this house, the yard was a big motivator for me. There's plenty of room for the kids to play, plenty of room for a nice vegetable garden...but, having pretty much always lived in apartments prior to this, I completely underestimated how much time a yard like this can take to keep up. John does not enjoy yardwork, frankly, and I'm doing well if I can motivate him to keep up with the basic mowing and weedwacking. I *love* yardwork but don't have a lot of time to give to, the wooden privacy fence is incomplete, it only goes around 3/4 of the yard, and I have a 3 year old that likes to roam. I am, however, determined to conquer this stressor. I really, really want a nice yard that we can be proud of, not something that embarasses me when friends come over. I made a plan for this year,,,trying to be realistic in my planning since we have the baby coming in May. I researched wildflower beds. Apparently I can rake out and till the large flower beds, spray some round-up to kill weed seeds, and a couple of weeks later just sprinkle some wildflower seeds down and let them grow into pretty much maintenance free beds. Each year they will grow bigger and better, choking out any weeds, and except in cases of drought require no watering or any help from me. Sounds like a plan. The overgrown vegetable garden will be weeded and turned over and then tarped for the year, except for a small square that will hold a few tomato plants. Gotta have fresh tomatoes. Along with these plans, the whole yard just needs a good clean-up. All I need is labor. So, I brilliantly came up with "family yard day". I planned to have two of them early this month. I would get the crew out there, everyone would take turns being in charge of making sure Jack was safe and happy, and we would pick up something easy for dinner and have a family movie night as a reward. I pitched the idea to my less motivated kids,,,they were not as thrilled as I was, but whatever. I planned the days anyway, carefully picking days that John was off of work and that we didn't have anything else going on, no small task. The problem has been the weather. It has been raining. And raining. And raining. Yesterday would have been perfect, but here's what our yard looked like yesterday morning when I woke up.....

I'm trying to be grateful. We've had several inches already this month alone, and many areas near us have had terrible flooding. John, of course, has been working any sunny days that we've had. Or, like today, it's finally a sunny day, John's off of work, and I've got a midwife appointment an hour's drive from here and Maria has soccer practice afterwards. In the meantime, the grass grows taller and the weeds grow into small shrubs...they love the rain! And the daily temperatures get warmer. The more time that goes by, the more likely we will lose cool spring days to work in and be stuck with humid southern stickiness. Next week looks rain free though, and I have a day picked out....keeping my fingers crossed! And best of all, we will finally have the fence finished with our income tax rebate. No more roaming 3 year old!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Jack- at three and a half

Jack loves- brownies, cake, any kind of dessert will do, really.

- the alphabet. He loves to sign the alphabet, read alphabet books, play
with alphabet toys and puzzles, and he can tell you all the sounds all
the letters make and what words begin with those letters.

- vehicles, of any kind, really, planes, cars, trucks, but his favorite
toy in the world is still his wooden train set. I pick it up once a week
to mop the playroom floor, and he immediately pulls it back out and sets
up his beloved tracks again.

- water. Bathtubs, puddles, the creek, it doesn't matter where it is, he
loves to get in it. We can't wait for pool weather again.

- his family. He loves to snuggle in Momma's bed, go for long walks with
Daddy, put on music and dance with Maria, and play anything at all with
Kain. He's also crazy about his Meme and Papa. Papa is his "best

- going places. Every morning after he gets dressed, he wants to "go to
the car". He also just loves people in general and greets the cashiers
with, "How ya doin?" and leaves them with, "Bye, have fun!"

Jack hates- vegetables and meat. He's horribly picky.

- bedtime. What a boring way to end the day!

- being told "no". For obvious three year old reasons.

We celebrated being 3 1/2 with ice cream this afternoon.

In other news....some random Eastertime pics I never got around to posting....

Decorating eggs....excuse my dining room, still papered in that lovely old newsprint. It's somewhere on my list of "fixing up the fixer upper".

The Big was *cold*...

The Easter altar...check out our grass, remember the bowl of dirt from Ash Wednesday? And that's our former crown of thorns decorated with flowers.

painted pots the kids made at church....

more decorations...each one of the plastic eggs has a goodie inside, and we're opening one each Sunday during the Easter season.

There's no pictures of Maria! She was with my parents that week and we didn't see her until Easter Sunday. She was at the egg hunt, but off with the big kids somewhere while I stayed behind and helped Jack.

Monday, April 07, 2008

The bad and the ugly

I have not posted a lot about Kain lately. This is probably the most painful part of my life right now, and I have been hesitant to share it on a blog. But, I was talking via email with a mom with a similar child, and she felt so alone in the way she felt towards her do I. I think there's something to be said for sharing these kinds of stories. People need a realistic view of what it is to raise a child with these kinds of problems. We were not foolish enough to think we could take in a child that has been damaged for six years and feed him good meals and read him good stories and everything would be fixed. But I have to admit that if I really understood how hard it would be, I doubt I would have taken it on.

Kain is still being evaluated. He has been getting treatment for his ADHD, but it's not the whole story. They are looking at a possible diagnosis of bipolar disorder as well. Anyway, he is in one of his "down cycles" right now, whatever you want to call them...a fairly long one for him, we are almost at a week of it now. That's nothing shocking, it's something we deal with pretty regularly...the problem is that *I* am handling him particularly poorly this time around. I've never handled him wonderfully during these times. I am not the most, ah, docile personality in the world, and I'm not someone that handles a raging person well anyway. Couple that with pregnancy hormones and the fact that this has all happened over Jack's asthma flare-up and my gallbaldder issues,,,Jack got sick Thursday night and Friday afternoon I had my very first gallbladder attack and spent the night in the hospital dehydrated and having regular contractions,,, and my tolerance is a bit low, as in, Kain is lucky to be alive and unscarred at this point. I mean, he spent that whole time Friday that Jack was wheezing horribly and I was in terrible pain *whining* and throwing little fits about *everything*. When he's in these moods, it's like you can see him sitting there stewing, coming up with things to b***ch about, I got everything from, "How come you haven't fixed corn bread in so long?" to "When is Uncle John taking me to laser tag again?" and everything in between....not just questions mind you, but whining combined with fits of various sizes if there was not a satisfactory answer to follow...and this all combined with total disobedience and testing behavior. I just couldn't believe it, kept saying, "Kain, Jack was almost in the ER last night, ok? Do you see that he can't breathe? Do you see that I'm in horrible pain right now? Do you really expect me to go whip you up a batch of cornbread????!!!!"

The worst was Saturday evening, the day I got back from the hospital. I wasn't going to cook, obviously, so John made some frozen pizza for the kids. Kain proceeded to inhale most of an entire pizza in his usual fashion. He still sometimes eats so fast that he makes himself vomit...used to be a frequent problem but it's happening less unless it's something he really loves, like pizza. I told him to slow down, and he ignored me. Twice. So then I told him (in a very nice tone, I might add, that I was making supreme effort to produce, lol) that I wanted him to take a bite of pizza and set the slice down while he chewed and swallowed the bite that was in his mouth. He immediately went into a high rage, screaming (he's extremely loud, btw, ear-splitting), eyes bugging out of his head...if he'd had a gun I'd be dead. I took his plate and told him to go to his room and calm down, and he continued to rage and scream and fit for a while, then went into his room and carried on for a good half an hour. Jack, in the meantime, was terrified and crying too. I can only imagine what effect his fits will have on this baby when it gets here. I didn't handle it well. Even when his fit passed, he was pouty and very much playing the victim, something that *really* irritates me about him is that he doesn't ever accept responsibility for his behavior or seem to see that he did anything wrong. So, I was hateful to him all night. I just couldn't stand it anymore. I didn't spank him, something that I've tried in the past and don't do anymore because then he started flinching every time I came near him for anything...apparently brought up bad memories for him, whether he realizes where it comes from or not, he seems to have forgotten all that happened when he lived with his mom now...I realize that was a bad idea, but I've been desperate, and frankly no one has been forthcoming with any better ideas, so I have been up for trying *anything*. I let him come out and eat when he calmed down, and then I sent him to his room until bedtime because I just couldn't stand to be around him anymore. It wasn't a long time, maybe 20 minutes, the boys start getting ready for bed right after dinner and I wasn't in the mood for tackling baths, but he missed read aloud time and threw a fit about that. I just couldn't stand the whole "snuggle on the couch and read" thing, I was *so* angry at him. He was whining to come out for prayers too, so when we started prayers, he had been quiet for a bit and I told him he could come out for that if he wanted to, so he yells, "I'm not coming out for prayers unless you read to me!", so I said, fine, forget it, stay in your room, which triggered another fit. We ended up taking Jack upstairs to sleep in our bed to get him away from it all, which also ticked Kain off even more and set off another screaming fit, and I just shut his door and left him. He screamed and raged for two hours before he fell asleep.

Lest you think Kain is always like this, those of you less familiar with him, he's not. He'll have weeks at a time where he is quite sweet and mostly cooperative, and when he does misbehave he at least fairly contrite, or fakes it pretty well anyway, frankly it's hard to tell because he can be manipulative too. But then we have weeks like this, weeks where, frankly, if his mom showed up with crack pipe in one hand and child beating boyfriend in the other and wanted to take him, I'd give her a big hug and kiss, push him out, and lock the door behind him. Sunday was more of the same, though to a lesser extent than the "big event" the night before. He went to his Dad's last night (THANK YOU GOD), so we'll see what's waiting for me when he returns.

It's killing me. Literally. I am *so stressed out* and feel like I can't make anyone understand how stressful this is on our family. I feel like we are just floundering here. The only ones who *really* know are my parents, only because they actually raised him for 6 months before he came here and he was the same way for them. For others, he can be pretty good for short periods. He always behaves at his dad's. Of course, his dad has his favorite "drug", constant video games. When he was living with my parents, his dad was there too, and he was hateful for his dad then too. Whomever is raising him, it seems, gets the worse, regardless. But with the ADHD meds, he can control himself in classes and practices and around others pretty well. But Adderall doesn't cover the damage at home, the rage that comes out when he's in familiar territory. Most people just tell us how much better he seems. And he is, most of the time.

Anyway, that's enough I guess. I'm just venting. In a few days this mood of his will pass, and things will be relatively ok again, until the next one. Mostly I'm disappointed that our hopes have changed so much. I hoped we would be able to make Kain ok, to undo some of the damage here, but I'm less and less sure of that as time goes now. Now I feel like we'll be lucky to raise him safely to adulthood without driving the rest of us insane. It makes me sad. I want to love this child, I really do. I do, in the sense that I have chosen to love him, and I do strongly believe that love is a decision. We have decided to love him. But no one in this house really *likes* him, really *wants* him. I feel so badly about that, I wish we felt differently. I *want* to want him here. He *needs* to be wanted. And I pretend to want him here, we all do. But he's not a likeable child, and I'm having a lot of difficulty bonding with him. And I feel like we can't give him what he needs, and frankly I don't know if anyone can anymore. I don't think he has an attachment disorder, I really don't. I've read the symptoms, his are not that severe. In fact, I read about those cases and feel pretty lucky, like it could be a lot worse. I mean, he's not hanging the cats or setting the house on fire, kwim? And, like I said, we have weeks that are pretty calm and easy, though I have my doubts even then that his affections are sincere during those times. He doesn't seem to have true affection for anyone, really. He seems to adore his father, loves to go over there. But if his dad got rid of the video games, I wonder if Kain would care if he ever went over there again? Because he is *very* much attached to *things* games, computers, his favorite toys, favorite foods, often irrationally, like he'll become ridiculously attached to a stick he found out in the yard, that kind of thing.

The hardest part for me is that I feel like such a failure. I feel like if I was *really* a good enough mother, if I prayed harder, if I was more patient, more loving, didn't lose my temper so much, wasn't so angry with him all the time, that he would be better. I feel like I fail and sin every day, because what kind of horrible person can't see Christ in an 8yo little boy? That night, on Saturday, I sat in the living room listening to him rage and scream and just cried and cried. At times like that I think, what difference does it make if he's here? He might as well be in a foster home. He seems to have plateaued, he's not getting any better anymore, he hasn't truly attached to us and he's quit improving. He seems to sometimes when his mood is better, but like I said, I often feel manipulated by him and wonder if anything like that is sincere. My mom is worried that he will destroy us and told me to consider just giving him back to his father. She said she doesn't think he's going to turn out normally no matter who raises him, and he's going to destroy us in the process. But I can't in good conscience give him to my brother. My brother can't even keep himself fed and housed. Every other month he is jobless and homeless for heaven's sake. And even when things are relatively stable for him, he's not a fit parent. He's lazy and his life is always a mess. Just looking at those two sad girls his girlfriend is raising is enough to make me scream. He'll never make sure he has his meds, gets to his appointments, has what he needs for school, that kind of thing. My brother just....exists. No responsibility at all. And I struggle mightily with anger towards my brother, for these things and more...he consistently avoids even taking Kain once a week, with one lame excuse after another, he refuses to do even the smallest thing for his son. If he would just willingly take him every week and not consistently act like it was something he was trying to get out of half the time, it would help. Frankly, I wonder if it would be less damaging to Kain if he just went away instead of repeatedly hurting him over and over.

I wish I could really reach him. I wish I could know what he really thinks, what he really feels and what goes on inside his head. I wish I could reach in there and fix things and make him feel loved and happy and content. I wish I could hunt down his mother and make her see how much she has damaged this child. I wish I could make my brother see how much he continues to damage him, and me, and make him actually give a damn about that.

Ok, ok, long enough...stuff to gallstone attack made me realize I have got to start getting stuff done around here before this baby comes, no matter what! If you've read all of this, God love you. It's good to vent.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

heard today...

Jack- I wanna another brownie!

Me- You've already had two, that's enough. (He actually only had one, broken in half)

Jack- I want three brownies!

Me- I don't have anymore brownies for you.

Jack- I want.....a hundred brownies!


Me, doing Latin vocabulary with Maria today- "pugno"...means "I fight". Do you know any derivatives of "pugno".

Maria- No.

Me- Well, that's a harder one. Have you heard the word "pugnacious" before?


Me- Ok, let's look it up. "Pugnacious" means, "inclined to quarrel or fight readily; quarrelsome; belligerent; combative". Can you use it in a sentence?

Maria- Kain is pugnacious.

random morning thoughts...or, "be careful what you pray for"

So, I got this book when I placed my order for our homeschooling supplies for next year. I'm not far into it, taking the advice in the introduction to read it slowly and prayerfully. It's a good little book though. It kind of reads like what I *wish* I got when I went to confession...actual constructive criticism and advice. In it, Escriva regularly chastises the reader for various character issues, often issues related to laziness in regard to daily duties, which are a special favorites in my own personal list of flaws. I fell asleep praying for help in the duties of my vocation, for the strength to avoid the temptation of procrastinating chores I didn't feel like doing, to stay on our daily schedule (which starts by making sure I get up on time, something hard to do when you aren't sleeping well!), and to tackle the projects that need finishing before the baby comes....generally for more self-discipline.

Well, you know, that God, he does know how to answer a general plan for a weekday morning includes waking up at 6am. John wakes up at 5:15 to start getting ready for work, and so when his alarm went off I was already forming a litany in my head of all the reasons I should be able to sleep in a little this morning. Then, before John even hit the shower, Jack woke up and joined me in bed, and it soon became clear that he did not intend to go back to sleep. I put on a Thomas video and rolled back in bed, hoping that would buy me a little bit more time. John, by this time, was in the shower in our master bathroom, a sadly neglected bathroom as only master bathrooms can be. They are easy to ignore, yes? No one ever uses it besides John and me, no one else ever even sees it, and so it is usually the last priority as far as bathroom cleaning goes in a house with three bathrooms, the other two of which are accessible to visitors and also see regular kid use. Cleaning this particular bathroom was definitely on my list of procrastinated chores.

When John was finished in the bathroom, he joined Jack and I on the bed and informed me that the toilet had become terribly clogged and gross. He had managed to clear the pipe, but in the process the toilet had back into the tub, and so now the tub was a mess of,,,,well,,,you know. So, you see, my prayers are answered. Not only did I find the motivation to tackle some procrastinated chores, but I was forced from bed...not merely on time, mind you, but early enough to tackle the unexpected chores and still stay on schedule this morning. God is good. And he has a great sense of humor, yes?

On a different note, at 5:56 I came downstairs and put on the tv, waiting for Word World to come on for Jack so I could have my morning tea in peace...Jack, it seems, is unaware that our schedule calls for him to stay in bed until 7am...and while flipping slowly through to PBS I passed one of those protestant religious channels, I don't even know what it's called offhand...but anyway, this woman was preaching (something that never fails to surprise me a little bit, being raised Catholic and all). She was quite funny, so I lingered a minute. She announced that Jesus said, "I have come that you might have a NEW AND HAPPY LIFE!"

Wow...really? I actually laughed out loud. A new and *happy* life? That's not how my gospel reads. I mean, don't get me wrong, my life is on the whole quite happy. But I am acutely aware, every single day, that this is a gift. Not a gift because I'm holy enough to deserve happiness, or because I've done something to earn a good marriage and good kids, but just a gift I've been granted, for whatever reason, for this period of time, and a gift that could be changed tomorrow for a different gift, a cross of suffering. I'm aware of this because I look around me every day and see good people, better and holier people than I'll ever be, even innocent children, suffering tremendously. When you read your bible or the stories of the lives of the saints, you find that those closest to God very often suffered terribly. In fact, I think it was St. Teresa of Avila that said something like, "If this is how you treat your friends, Lord, no wonder you have so few of them."

Of course, in our culture suffering equals Christ, this isn't to be the case. In Catholic teaching, suffering, done well and united with Christ, has great value. The saints were happy to suffer for the kingdom, were happy to know they were united with the will of Christ and with his sufferings on the cross. So, though I don't think she meant it this way, and she did still misquote the bible a bit, maybe the woman on tv this morning was right. Christ did come to bring us a new and happy life...if we can really embrace what true happiness is supposed to be.