Monday, September 29, 2008

The Kain Brain Drain

I have been rather post-less lately, and here's why...

things suck right now. And who wants to post about that? Who wants to read about that? But there it is. Things suck.

For several reasons...partly just some kind of down-ness on my part...seasonal, maybe? Though I love fall and the relief it brings to the brutal summer heat. Maybe post-partum related? I don't know. I'm ok, I'm not mixing up the cyanide kool-aid or anything, I don't think I'd even say I was depressed or anything...just a bit burned out.

Then there's the whole ongoing child conversation in our house, as in, "to conceive or not to conceive"...that is indeed the question. Not a pressing one, I'm still blessed with no cycles even though I have a baby that sleeps for, no lie, 10 hours a stretch at night. (I know, like I have any right to feel burned out, right?!) And we seem to have some fertility issues, given that although we have never tried NOT to conceive, we seem to take a long time to do so anyway. This whole thing was triggered by a family comment that "we have enough to deal with", and indeed we do, though I think they meant mostly financially...which indeed we do there too, at least until we get some bills paid off and our budget back on track. But that is going entirely too slowly, to the point of barely making progress at all, and it makes me depressed to think "what if it never gets any better" and "maybe I just need to go back to work for a while because we obviously are insane to think we can live on one income" even though I know people do it...those people seem to make more money than we do. I know that's probably not true, but that's how it feels anyway. And I don't want to use natural family planning. I just don't. My husband does not agree, and he has very practical and good reasons for feeling as he does, but I just feel differently, for very impractical reasons. So, there's that.

Then, there's a whole new ball of wax to deal with. Kain has been hospitalized in an in-patient psych program. We had him admitted Friday afternoon, and we really don't know a whole lot yet about what they are going to do for him because no one will tell me anything. Of course, everything pretty much comes to a halt over the weekend anyway. I'm hoping to find out more now that it's Monday. We have always been at a loss for how to handle Kain, something I have pretty much told every doctor and therapist and teacher he has ever seen while they nod sympathetically and make notes on his chart. Stuff that works with other kids just doesn't work for him, and we can't find anything that does. I believe he really wants to do better, to be good, but he just can't for any amount of time, he has so little control over his behavior. He will tag me around like a puppy dog trying to be helpful, "Yes mamm", "No mamm", "I'll get that for you Aunt Mel!", "Aren't I doing a good job today Aunt Mel?", and then he'll find out I didn't make garlic bread for dinner and have a raging nervous breakdown two hours long. Lately his bad moods have been far more frequent than good ones.

And Thursday night, we had the police at our house. I had put the boys to bed. They share a room. Evenings with Kain are a horror. His medication wears off at dinnertime, and it's just downhill from there. I hate this. I have always worked to cultivate a pleasant bedtime hour, lots of snuggling and reading aloud and that kind of thing, and I pretty much now spend the whole time fighting with Kain. Once he and Jack are in bed, I spend a couple of hours waiting for them to tire out and fall asleep. Jack keeps coming out over and over, egged on by Kain (I listen over the baby monitor), they keep getting up to play and horse around, until I'm a screeching nut over the whole thing. So, Thursday night it was particularly bad and I ended up separating them and sending Kain into the playroom with a sleeping bag. He hates to sleep in there because it's "too dark". It's a last resort. So, I send him in there, and he starts mouthing off and throwing toys around, and so after a few warnings that the door would be shut if he didn't knock it off, I shut the door. Enter raging nervous breakdown. It was so bad that a neighbor came to the door (which has happened before), and then the police (also has happened before) who wanted to set eyes on the little prince to make sure he wasn't being buried alive or anything. Once they reassured themselves that he was bruise-free (only by the grace of God, let me assure you), they left, but I was horrified. I'm not really one to care much what the neighbors think, but it's pretty bad when the neighbors think you are beating your children. I called his psychiatrist the next day and basically said they had better admit him or admit me.

So, there it is. Something has to give, before my sanity does. I also have to think of my own children, who get to witness this craziness on a regular basis, Maria who says she hates Kain because he puts me in a bad mood all the time, and Jack who asks me several times a day "Momma, are you mad yet?" I feel like a failure because I can't figure out how to help this child, and because if I can't help him I should at least be able to control myself and my home well enough that my other children don't have to suffer for it.

And that's what's been going on. That's why I haven't blogged much, because who wants to read about all of this? As for what's to come, well, we are all at least getting a break with Kain being gone. I feel guilty for even typing that, but it's the truth. I'm catching up on some things and enjoying my children and reading quiet bedtime stories. I'm realizing how much control this child has over our lives, how every meal and every bedtime and every outing hinges on what mood Kain is in, and that makes me angry, and then guilty for being angry with an 8 year old child who has been through so much. I'm hoping to get some real help and ideas for how to handle him from this hospital, but I don't really know what to expect. So far they have told me nothing at all about what they think about him. I don't expect they will really see his worst behavior while he's there because he can control himself to some extent and behave when he is really motivated to do so. From what I can see, they basically have this complicated token economy there...they earn tickets with good behavior that they can spend in the "store", and they have different "levels" that they are placed on, each level having varying degrees of privileges.

I imagine I will be told to do something similar at home. I don't really like this kind of thing. We have used stickers and such for limited behaviors, like changing a particular habit or for a particular kind of school assignment like memorizing prayers and catechism questions. I don't like feeling like I need to provide some kind of reward every time someone brushes their teeth or clears the table after lunch. But I'm trying to keep an open mind, because obviously what we've been doing isn't working.

Anyway, enough of the "pity post", I just wanted to share what was going on. We have no idea how long he will be there, I imagine a few weeks, and this is affecting our lives so much that it seems kind of silly to post about our lives without being up front about it.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Thrifty Thursdays

Dorky name...sorry. I tried to come up with a better name...Money Mondays...Way Cheapo Wednesdays...Frugal Fridays...nothing really cool came to mind. So, anyway.

I'm really good at being cheap. At least, I used to be. I'm still pretty good, but I used to be a real "black belt tightwad" back in my "single parent putting herself through nursing school" days. Being cheap, very cheap, was a matter of survival. It's not quite so bad now, but with the rising cost of...well,'s getting pretty tight. I'm finding myself brushing off my frugality skills more and more lately. So, I thought I'd share. Feel free to add your own favorite ways to be cheap and link to your blog below! Just make them real tips....not like on talk shows when they give a "money makeover" with tips like "quit buying $5 lattes" and "switch from Clinique to Maybelline".

My tip for this week is the "rubber chicken". I first read about the rubber chicken on flylady's website in an article by Leanne Ely. Her cookbook, by the way, is one of my favorites, one of probably three that I actually use regularly, and it looks it. I need to replace my sad, tired, stained copy badly. Anyway, it's called a rubber chicken because you streeeetch a whole chicken into three meals. I'm using this idea to make a series of rubber chicken recipes. These recipes are becoming the backbone of our seasonal menus.

On Thursday (just because it's usually a slower, at-home kind of day), I make a whole chicken for dinner. Thursday night I pick the chicken clean and stash the leftovers in the freezer, and I make a stock. I refrigerate the stock overnight and make some kind of soup with homemade bread for dinner on Friday. Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday I use the leftover chicken to make another meal. I get 3 meals out of a $6 chicken. I plan to vary the way I cook the chicken with the seasons, using my oven in cooler weather and using my crock pot and grill in the summer.

Last week I made roasted sticky chicken, chicken and dumplings, and split pea soup. This week I'll make pan roasted chicken, broccoli/chicken/rice casserole, and chicken and rice chowder.
For my family, I pick the biggest frier I can find. This size chicken just fits us, a family with two adults, two eating kids, a 3yo that lives mostly on air, and a non-solids-eating baby. A smaller family might get by with a smaller bird. A larger family might want two birds. By the time Jack and Tess are eating decent amounts of food, we will probably be squeezing two birds into my turkey roaster.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Let's play Switch the Baby Photos!!!

One of these is Jack at 3 months....
And one is Tess at 3 months...

fall planting- bulbs and violets

The violets to enjoy now...the bulbs for spring.
Crocuses, daffodills, irises, hyacinth, tulips.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

cramming it all in

I think part of my problem is that I have reached the saturation point. Up until we started our new "homeschooling plus fourth child" year, I could pretty much get anything I wanted into the schedule with enough tweaking. Now, there are, very literally, just not enough hours in the day to do it all. I have made the mistake of trying to cram it all in anyway, something that has left me exhausted and trying to fold laundry at 11pm. I've read that many of the Saints got by on just a few hours of sleep a night. I am not a Saint. And frankly, not getting enough sleep is a downright near occassion of sin for me. Speaking of being a Saint, I love this quote by Flannery O'Connor...

"She could never be a saint, but she thought she could be a martyr if they killed her quick."

Anywho, when I start daydreaming about the kids being gone at school all day, I know it's time for me to reevaluate. I'm taking a couple of days off school to slow down and catch my breath, destress, regroup, retweak the schedule, and try again. Today we spent a good part of the day outside...I highly recommend ditching your lesson plans and spending the day outside every so often. In the spring, anticipating the Summer of Tess, I decided we needed something low maintenance in our flower beds. I sprinkled a wildflower seed mix in the beds around our year old baby dogwood trees. Not a great idea. The flowers grew bigger than the poor little trees. And wildflower beds, though low maintenance, are not *no* maintenance, and I hadn't been out there to weed all summer. So, today we weeded...each big kid took turns on "Jack patrol" while I weeded with the other. We pulled everything out of the dogwood beds, leaving them clean and bare and ready to be filled with pansies. Then Maria and I dragged several large tree branches that dropped on The Night of Ike to the curb for the city chipper truck that will be coming around next week. It felt good. The sun felt good, the dirt under my nails felt good, the exercise felt good, it all felt good, except for the slug I accidently grabbed a handful of. And being outside really makes me feel better about ditching school too, because it spawns so many conversations about which bugs are good in the garden and which are not, when the birds will be migrating, what might be living in that burrow under the maple tree out back, and what kind of grunge is making our dogwood tree's leaves look not so great. It's prime time for examing ladybugs, making bets about when the leaves will begin to change, and watching the slugs freak out and run for cover when their weedy homes are removed. I'm vowing to get outside every non-raining day with the kids for at least a little while. That's always the first thing to go when the day gets busy, and I think that's been a mistake.

Also good for bad moods....get yourself one of these....

borrow one if you have to, and go hide in a room away from everyone else for a while....

and while you have the chance, be sure to chew on these a little bit....

and blow some raspberries on this...

and don't forget to smooch all the sugars out of these creases here...

See! Better than Prozac. They should bottle this.

The Momma Plane

That's what Jack calls this kids meal toy. I know, because I look just like Princess Amidala, right? No, actually, I think it's the big knot of hair on the back of her head. Mine is overgrown and in a perpetual bun.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

quote for the school year

Have ya'll been praying for me? Because I'm feeling much better. Thank you, if you have!

Here's a quote I came across in my daily Bible this morning...

"The school of Christ is the school of charity. On the last day, when the general examination takes place, there will be no question at all on the text of Aristotle, the aphorisms of Hippocrates, or the paragraphs of Justinian. Charity will be the whole syllabus."

~~ St. Robert Bellarmine

Monday, September 15, 2008

Our night with Ike

I hope I won't offend anyone's sensibilities when I say I have been feeling a little....pissy. That's the only word for it, sorry. I don't know if it's the small fires I've been putting out around here or maybe postpartum hormone stuff...I imagine hormones have something to do with it, because heaven knows there's *always* small fires to be put out. I've just been feeling very overwhelmed the last week or so. Prayers would be lovely.

In the meantime, I'll share our hurricane adventures. No, we don't live anywhere near the Gulf, but we did get the dregs of Ike, lots of rain and enough wind to knock some branches off the trees. Around 2am the night before last, in the middle of the worst of the storm, there was a BANGBANGBANG on the door. I immediately knew who it was. The neighborhood boys across the street run pretty wild. Lately they had taken to playing "ding dong ditch" with us, though this was the first time they had struck in the middle of the night. We waited a few minutes, and then they did it again, this time waking up Jack and Tess. John went downstairs and I waited upstairs in bed. Sure enough, they came back, and this time John saw our little 8yo neighbor through the tiny window in our front door. Sad, amateur children. Everyone knows that, 1. You don't ever ding dong ditch people that will RECOGNIZE you, and 2. You don't ever RETURN to the same house the same night.

John wanted to wait until morning to deal with this. Our neighbors are a bit, ah, unpredictable. So are their 4 dogs. I, however, was shall we say, pissy. I stormed down the stairs, stuffed my feet in flip flops, and stormed out across the front yard in the cold, pouring rain in my pajamas. As I neared the street my foot squelched down into a mudhole up to the ankle, felt a rock cut my foot, and lost my flip flop. Now shrieking mad, I kicked off the other and continued on in my bare feet. I didn't need to worry about the dogs. They were tucked inside, so THEY didn't get wet. I BANGBANGBANGED on their front door and the mom came to the door in HER pajamas with Mr. 8yo at her side. I told her of my little situation and the boy immediately started denying that it was him. So, I informed the darling that John had seen him at our front door. But, he insisted, he didn't do the actual knocking, his friend did. Whatever. Anyway, the mom was very embarrassed. At least, she sounded embarrassed, I couldn't hardly see her what with the pitch blackness and the rain streaming down my head.

Once home, I glanced at my foot. I found a cut down the inside of my big toe, but it wasn't bleeding. I went back to bed and fumed silently. Once my temper cooled, I became aware of throbbing heat in my foot and wondered if I'd cut my foot worse than I thought. After laying there wondering if we had tetanus in our front yard and trying to remember, if I'd contracted it, how long it would be before my breathing accessory muscles froze up, I got up again and went downstairs to look more closely. At that point, it was bleeding pretty heavily. I don't know why it wasn't before...cold...adrenaline...anyway, it probably could have used some stitches, but I wasn't going to pay $100 ER copay to have stitches in my toe. I could have steristripped it, but I couldn't even work up the motivation for that. Besides, I couldn't really reach it well enough for that, John would have had to be woken up to do it. In the end, I poured some hydrogen peroxide in it, bandaged it up, and hoped my long ago tetanus shot was still good. I guess I didn't get tetanus. I never did look it up, but I'm pretty sure I'd know by now.

ADHD and me

Over at Starry Sky Ranch, Kim has posted links to Newsweek articles on boys and school performances. They are not articles on ADHD, per se, but in the way my brain trips along, reading the articles led me to these thoughts about our own issues of educating boys....

---ADHD is a big part of my life. My brother, Kain's father, has it.

---Kain has it.

---My husband has it. Had it before it was even a diagnosis, even. He's 44yo, so ADHD wasn't even coined yet I don't think, but his mother showed me reports where a psychologist had diagnosed him as "retarded" when he was a preschooler. My husband is very bright, so I found this quite funny. Quirky, but bright. His poor mother, being told this about her son....

---The articles were interesting, and I think dead on, so I'm not picking on these articles necessarily. But, there is a kind of mindset out there in the world that says, "ADHD doesn't really exist. These are just normal, active kids that no one wants to deal with. The schools just want to drug them up so they will sit in a desk for 7 hours a day. The parents just don't want to be bothered with them and want them medicated into submission." Or, "These kids are really just brats that need a good spanking." That's not really fair because...

---ADHD is REAL. They have documented fundamental differences in the brains of these kids. It is SO real. Plus, anyone that thinks these are just "active kids" hasn't spent enough time with someone who really has it. You are welcome to remedy that situation by spending the day with Kain at any time. Frankly, I'd enjoy the day off.

---Is it overdiagnosed? Quite certainly.

---Is medication even necessary for all kids that really do have it? No. (breaking out my nurses hat here) Medications, all medications, have potential risks and side effects. Taking any medication means that (ideally) you are weighing the potential risks against the potential benefits. ADHD meds definitely have real risks. They can also have a lot of benefit. Whether the risks are worth taking is up to the parents of that individual child. Homeschoolers, especially, often decide not to medicate because they are able to tailor their child's education to that child's abilities and needs. They can play with legos while you read their history to them, they can fall out of their chair and roll around on the floor while you are drilling math facts without getting in (too much) trouble. The argument has been made that "sooner or later, though, they will need to learn how to sit in a desk and get some work done because they need to grow up to be Real Adults". This argument is, well, sorry, kinda stupid really, because

1. Lots of adults don't have desk jobs. I have never had a desk job, and neither has my husband. And, while I have no statistics, I'm willing to bet that adults with ADHD are especially not drawn to desk jobs.

2. As these kids grow up, the symptoms change anyway. In other words, ADHD kids don't grow up to be adults that spontaneously fall out of chairs and roll around on the floor. In fact, I have actually never seen my husband do this, now that I think about it, and I haven't seen my brother do it for a good many years either.

---Homeschooling also works for ADHD kids because these kids need a *lot* of social coaching. Kain has the social skills of a preschooler. It is rather sad to watch him in a group of "normal" kids, because he doesn't fit in. This gets worse as he gets older...the gap is more obvious. He has great difficulty making friends because he is so very odd. Soon after he came to live with us, we were in a doctor's waiting room and a child around his age came over to engage Kain in play. Kain responded by collapsing to the floor and rolling around the room. When the child persisted in trying to talk to him, he rolled under the chairs in a ball and refused to come out until the child left him alone. He was 7 at the time. Homeschooling just gives us more opportunities to teach him social skills, and less opportunities for him to learn social skills from a bunch of other 8 year olds.

---Sometimes, medication is a good option. Kain is on two medications. I'm not thrilled about it. But the medications don't "sedate" him. They just calm him a bit. His symptoms, without medication, are quite severe we thought he was actually autistic when he was a preschooler. He cannot function, socially, at all without the medications. This will probably change as he gets older, but for right now, there it is. I distinctly remember taking him to the open house at his old school before he started kindergarten. He was 6 1/2 at the time, and this was before medication was started. We were in the school for about 15 minutes. It was a stimulating 15 minutes,,,,new place, lots of people...he couldn't handle it. He would literally fall on the floor and roll around as we were walking down the very crowded hallway. When we got to his classroom, he started headbutting the walls. I couldn't even get him to stand next to me and be introduced to his new teacher, though I did rather get a kick out of the look of panic on her face as she observed his behavior. Medication has allowed him to do things that he would never otherwise be able to handle, like being on a soccer team and, eventually, making some friends in our homeschool groups. My point is, please don't judge those that decide medications are worth taking. There's a wide range of behaviors and severity of symptoms with ADHD. And believe me, even with the medication we still have plenty of issues to deal with. His hyperactive behavior is actually the least of my issues. The impulsivity and lack of self-control are far pressing ones. Medication does help some with these issues too, but he still has a *lot* of behavior problems to deal with.

---I still don't like the medications. I feel a little queeze in my stomach every day when I give them to him. I've looked into many alternatives. Some I've tried and they were ineffective. Some were of dubious repute and cost a lot of money to pursue, money that would be worth spending if I had it, but I don't. A few weeks ago I ordered a packet for the Feingold diet and after 10 minutes of looking through it I was so overwhelmed that I shelved it. I am planning to read through it more thoroughly and give it a try. For one thing, I spent $100 that I couldn't afford on it, so I feel obligated to at least try it. I am of two minds about it.

- When we try it, I want to *really* try it, go whole hog and give it an honest shot. Because I did spend $100. And because if it doesn't work for us, I want to honestly know that it really didn't work.

- But I don't think it will work. It'd be nice if this were the "big fix". Because medications, even though they help, still leave us a lot to handle. And medications don't last 24 hours a day. He wakes up unmedicated and they take a good hour to start working, and they wear off around 6 in the evening making dinner and bedtime very difficult and evening activities pretty much out of the question.

- But I'm a little afraid that it will work. Then I have to make some judgements. Does it work as well as the meds? If it does, it'll be worth doing. If it doesn't, does it work well enough to justify going off the meds and following full time? Or would the smaller improvement not be worth the trouble of the diet? And it will be a lot of trouble. Some of his favorite foods are restricted on this diet, and he is a very picky eater. He also does not take limits well, and the diet will open up a whole new battleground.

-Also, I don't want to follow a diet. If I was good at following a diet, I'd be much thinner. I don't want to learn to buy new products, cook different foods, and take on this big change when I have so much on my plate ( And then I feel selfish for not being willing to make this sacrifice if needed.

-But there it is, I'm selfish. Big shock. Part of me feels like, "You know, I really feel like I've done enough, I've made enough sacrifices for someone else's child here, because this child and his behavior problems affect every day, every outing, every meal, every bedtime, and has made so little of my daily life truly enjoyable and peaceful over the last two years, and if giving him medications makes my life a little easier then so be it."

-And then I feel guilty because of all of that selfish and non-constructive blah. Because it isn't constructive. Because Kain's mother hasn't been seen or heard from in ages, and Kain's father hasn't even bothered to pick up the phone in a month now and is obviously never going to give up his "perpetual teenager" lifestyle to raise his son, so we are in this for the long haul, like it or not, and feeling all negative and put-upon every evening after his usual tumultuous bedtime routine that turns me into a crying wreck at the end of the day because I want my old life back (his medications wear off in the evening, remember?) is not helpful. It's quite a cycle.

- And a stupid cycle. Because, for better or worse, he is no longer really "someone else's child", he's ours, and helping him helps us all. And because someone needs to take true emotional ownership of this child and his problems, someone needs to have a vested interest in what is truly best for him, and while we didn't exactly sign up for this voluntarily, even though our original hope was to provide a temporary home for him, this is where we are at...he is ours, the only alternative, really and truly, is putting him in foster care. And while some days that feels like a really attractive option, in the end I just can't do that.

---So, thank you for allowing me to unload this random stream of thoughts. It does help just to purge my brain once in a while. And now I'm off. Because while I've been on here, Kain has been prancing incessantly around my chair hounding me about a hundred different pressing matters, like "where is my computer game even though I'm not allowed to play computer on weekdays but I'm obsessed with it and have to carry it around everywhere I go" and "what are we having for lunch? for snack? for dinner? because I also obsess about food and have to know exactly what is coming up, for every meal, for every thing, every day for the rest of my life?" "Can I please please please please look again at the costume you said you would order online for Halloween for the 347th time in three days?" Actually, all these questions have just been in the last couple of minutes,,,because his brain whirls around as fast as his body.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

How I roll....

I found this excellent video on Danielle Bean's site.

Danielle Bean » Catholic Vote

Posted using ShareThis

I don't blog politics much. I guess I don't have the guts. I hate controversy and arguments, they make my stomach hurt, and there's enough of it in real life without seeking it out on purpose here. But, I feel like I should say something, at least once, about the election. Then I can, in good conscience, resume my usual posting on such important topics as baseball game hot dogs and french-style green beans.

Here's the gist. I don't really consider myself a republican (shhh, don't tell my in-laws). There are many social topics that I can't resolve with the republican world view. I am, however, a one issue voter. I vote for Life. Specifically, the life of those unable to defend themselves. Are there choices republicans in office have made that speak against the sanctity of life? Yes, there are. Absolutely. But, in this country alone, over 1 million unborn children die every year from abortion. 1 million. Every. Year. There is no horror more pressing than that. None.

As long as abortion is legal, I have no choice, as a Catholic, as a Christian, as a mother, than to use my vote, as meager as it may be, to try and protect these children and their mothers.

Friday, September 12, 2008


Me- What's your name?

Jack- Jack

Me- How old are you?

Jack- I'm free years old.

Me- Good! What's your full name? Can you say your full name?

Jack- blank stare

Me- Your full name is "John Michael V*" (last name withheld from google search engines). Can you say that?

Jack- My full name is "Jackie Baby". Say that.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Today is the Blessed Mother's birthday!

And of course, we must have cake...can't have a birthday without cake.

Hail Mary!
Full of grace!
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now, and at the hour of our death.


silly stuff

Melanie Catherine V* (Last name being withheld from the google searches)

2. YOUR GANGSTA NAME: (first 3 letters of your first name plus “izzle”)

3. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite color and favorite animal)
Sage Cockatoo

4. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (your middle name and the name of one of your pets)
Catherine Dinah

5. YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (the first 3 letters of your last name and the first 2 Letters of your first name)

6. YOUR SUPERHERO/CRIMINAL NAME: (Your 2nd favorite color and your favorite drink)
Yellow Macchiato

7. YOUR WITNESS PROTECTION NAME: (parents’ middle names)
May Roy

Sunday, September 07, 2008

On being anal-retentive.

On the surface (like, to people who have never been to my house) I often look really organized. At least, it seems that way to me, because people will say, "Wow, you are really organized." I carry around a huge planner, which I call "My Brain",,,seriously, I've been known to run through the house, digging frantically through piles, saying, "Has anyone seen My Brain?",,,I have a system/check list for everything I do, from meals to housecleaning (daily/weekly/monthly/and seasonal!), daily schedules, etc. But I'm not truly organized, not really. The truth is that I have to compensate, heavily, for my LACK OF natural organization. If I plan these things really well, and try mightily to follow The Plan in spite of my tendency towards procrastination, I might actually accomplish 80% of The Plan. This is important, because when I don't follow The Plan, things fall apart.

Case in point...this morning. I made a list in yesterday's post of what I needed to get done this weekend. I got the cleaning done. I got Mount Laundry pretty much all done, i.e., I threw the last load in the washer this morning. Nothing has been folded yet, and all my desk work still awaits me. It took me all day to get the cleaning done around the regular Care and Feeding of Children. Anyway, this morning Kain had his first morning back at PSR (Catholic Sunday school, for my Separated Brethern Readers). This meant we had to be at the church at 8:45 instead of the 10am time we'd become accustomed to all summer. John was/is at work. Maria was/is visiting my parents. So I was on my own with the three younger kids. And the morning was a total wash because I was not following The Plan and haven't been for a week. Well, nearly a wash...I did get to receive the Eucharist,,,just barely, in between hauling Jack out of mass for various misbehaviors. Three year olds are truly wild. Anyway. Where was I?

Oh yes. The Plan, or lack thereof. Well, first of all, since I was running around like crazy playing catch up yesterday, I didn't get to bed until midnight, which means I did not get up quite on time. I still did have *enough* time, but I made a bad situation worse by breaking one of the cardinal rules in our house, No Computer Before Mass. Kain did point this out to me, but I silenced him with a glare over my cup of coffee and logged on anyway. I was just wanting to make a quick email check on a very pregnant friend (yes, another one), but the computer, being the giant timesucker that it is....well, I made myself very late. All of a sudden it was 8am, and we had to leave in 30 minutes. And we were all still in pajamas.

And here's where the lack of The Plan made things even worse. Because I had to quickly formulate a New Last Minute Plan, and those are always stressful. First, I had to dig boy clothes out from the now-clean Mount Laundry. If I had been following The Plan, the clothes would have been done and put away and I wouldn't have spent 10 minutes hunting down tiny navy blue socks. I quickly dressed Jack, laid out clothes for Kain, and threw some toast in the toaster oven for me (the boys had eaten). I packed the diaper bag with Magnifikids, saints books and a pre-mass snack for Jack, put together the offering envelopes and gathered some change for the boys to put in the children's offering. When following The Plan, these things are all made ready the night before. Because it's on the Saturday Evening List, that's why.

At that point, it was 8:20. I had to or Tess. Tess was asleep. She had woken up at 6am, nursed, and gone back to sleep. I thought briefly of dropping Kain off and then coming back home to shower, we do live close to the church, but I would easily lose 15 minutes just from having to load/unload/reload Jack and Tess in the van. So, I grabbed her clothes and a diaper to stuff in my diaper bag, praised God for the breastfeeding that allowed her to eat easily on the fly, and jumped in for a quick shower that wasn't as quick as it could have been since I had hardly any water pressure due to the load of laundry in the washer at the time. At 8:40, I plucked her, still sleeping, out of her crib and put her into the carseat and rounded boys out to the car with a carseat in one hand, a cup of coffee in the other, an overflowing diaper bag on my shoulder, and a piece of toast clenched in my teeth. I dropped Kain off, just 4 minutes late, and then turned Jack loose to push random console buttons in the van while I nursed and dressed Tess and wished my hair dry.

So, we made it, but it was stressful, not a great start to Sunday. It's time to get back on The Plan. And that means staying off the computer for the rest of the day.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Saturday plans

----Weekly cleaning list

----update lesson plans

----organize Jack's Montessori-ish school stuff

----fold all the backed up, never got folded laundry from last week and start new week's worth of laundry

----plan meals for new pay period so I can make my huge grocery haul on Monday when John is off

---pay bills and sit with budget to figure out new, magic budget plan that will accomadate rising food costs and still allow me to start socking away Christmas money

(sigh) I'm tired already. Saturday has always been "catch up day", to get to all the stuff I don't have time for during the week,,,but this weekend is ridiculous. I try really hard to get everything done on Saturday and leave Sunday free and clear, but this weekend I don't think it's going to happen. I'm going to at least make sure to get the cleaning/laundry part done today, but some of the planning/paperwork stuff is going to have to happen tomorrow. Especially since John is at work all weekend, and Maria is at my parent's visiting...I have no helpers. I'd better get to work. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008


One of Jack's favorite games is to pull items out of the pantry and ask you what they are. It's really cute, because he speaks slowly and carefully like his father, and it's funny to hear him pronouncing unfamiliar words.

Jack in the pantry- What's this?

Me, at the stove- It's cornmeal.

Jack- Is it cornmeal?

Me- Yep.

Jack- What's this?

Me- Noodles.

Jack- Is it noodles?

Me- Yep.

Jack- What's this?

Me- Green beans.

Jack- Are they French-style green beans?

Me, turning around- Uh...well, yes. Yes they are French-style green beans.

Apparently someone else has been playing the game with him too.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The vestiges of summer....a lazy photos post

Maria's birthday

My baby is 12 years old. And she looks 14. You haven't quite experienced that kicked in the gut feeling until you see a grown man "checking out" your daughter at the lake. You might even yell after him, "HEY! DUDE! SHE'S 11 YEARS OLD AND I'LL CALL THE COPS FASTER THAN YOU CAN SAY FELONY!"

Um...yeah. I actually did this. I mean, even if she *was* 14, she'd still be only FOURTEEN, you know? Creep.

She didn't hear me say it, and thankfully she seems blissfully unaware of such attentions. She is an amazing blend of young woman and little girl. She is smart and funny and a pleasure to be around. I'm so proud of my almost-teenager.

So, for her birthday this year, I took her and a friend on a girls' day out. It was an especially special one because this very sweet friend of hers has just recently moved five hours away just a couple of weeks ago. Her parents were nice enough to loan her to us, in spite of the enormous post-move hassle I'm sure it caused. We first went to Claire's and spend a small fortune on various pieces of junk jewelry, then out to Maria's favorite Chinese buffet for lunch, to rent a movie, then to pick up an ice-cream cake and sodas. Claire's was the highlight. They had a 10 items for $10 sale and the girls cleaned up. In a push of enormous maternal patience on my part, I pushed Tess back and forth around the tiny store filled with giggling pre-teens for an entire HOUR while they debated their purchases and not once did I say, "PLEASE, HURRY UP!!!" On the way to lunch, they donned every single piece they had bought. Every. Single. Piece. When we got out of the van, Maria struck a pose and said, "Aren't I beeyoooteeful?"

Yes, baby. Heaven help me, yes, you are.

Tess turns three months