Friday, October 31, 2008

Boo!

Wednesday night our parish had their Halloween party. I dislike parties that are not held on the Actual Day Of....like when they have fireworks on July 2nd instead of July 4th because the 4th is a weekday, or when the Church moves holy day masses around. I don't know why. Just my anal-retentiveness I guess. This year I get to be double irritated since our homeschool group's All Saints' Day party is NEXT Saturday instead of tomorrow. You know, like it's supposed to be. On All Saints' Day. Also, I get the fun of wrangling kids into costumes and out the door, and then settling sugar-loaded kids into bed, on two days instead of just one. But, anyway...I got over it. It is Halloween after all. Sugar-loaded fun is the whole point...that, and Mom being able to buy four bags of candy for the very few trick or treaters we actually get at our door. Because John and I split the leftovers between us, that's why!

So, we had costume issues with Maria this year. She scoured websites, looked in a couple of Large Chain Discount Stores, and could find nothing cool enough. She talked me into visiting one of these Halloween specialty stores. I've never actually been to one. Good thing, because it turns out that unless your girl child is under the age of 8, then she is pretty much going to be choosing from going as Raggedy Ann Turned Prostitute, Vampire Turned Prostitute, or my favorite, Nurse Turned Prostitute. They had costumes marketed by Play Boy. Seriously. I thought I had entered a totally different kind of store by mistake, until I saw the gallon sized containers of fake blood for sale.

Anyway, we settled on this half angel/half devil thing. It's ok. I'm not thrilled. It's vaguely suggestive in a "good girl gone bad" kind of way. It was the best I thought I could pull off at that point, just before Halloween, running out of time and options. She is still young (innocent) enough that she doesn't entirely get what bothered me about the costume. I probably should have just said no and left. But when you are stuck in a store with a whiny baby and a 4yo scared of the headless guy at the front door, and your 12yo is going PLEASEPLEASEPLEASE THIS IS SO COOL and really, it doesn't look so bad next to the other crap they have hanging on the walls,,,well, hindsight and all of that. But I told her next year we were back to making our own.

Notice how I have cropped it so that you can't see that the dress it really too short.

Kain is happy with anything that gives him an excuse to carry a weapon. So he was a ninja. He wore Maria's old karate uniform and some cool ninja gear his grandparents picked up for him.


Jack's lion costume was too, too cute. I love it when they are still little and they will wear whatever. I found this homemade costume at my favorite thrift store..someone with far better sewing skills than I possess made it, and God love them for donating it. My sensitive boy was a bit nervous when I asked him if he'd like to be a lion for Halloween. He said, "Will I bite me?" I said, "No, you'll be a nice lion." "Can I be a baby lion?" "Ok, sure, be a baby lion." And that was that. Baby lion....


Tess wore the same Halloween costume that Jack wore on his first Halloween. Jack, However, was only 3 weeks old when he wore it. It's a 6 month size, and we barely got her in it!


At our church party, they played games and got a bit of candy. Maria won a costume contest. Kain didn't want to stop playing games long enough to even enter! Jack just walked around the stage with his tootsie pop and then wandered away before the judging even got started.


Today we carved pumpkins....





but Jack thought it was way gross and went to jump on the trampoline with Daddy instead...


and we toasted seeds...


and went to a party with our homeschool group...



and then the kids went trick or treating with John.

I stayed home with Tess to pass out goodies to all four kids that came to the door.


John called after an hour or so and said Jack was falling apart, so I went to pick him up and left the big kids with John to finish making their haul. I brought Jack home, scrubbed grease paint off his face and stickiness from between his fingers, and we settled in to watch Linus wait for the Great Pumpkin until he fell asleep.

An hour and a half later, even the big ones had had enough. They knocked on the door, pretending to be actual trick or treaters, and I pretended not to know them and passed out candy, same goofy thing we do every year that they never seem to think gets old. Then they dug through their bags and began haggling. I dug through Jack's bag and saved the M and M's, little bags of pretzels, and lollipops for him, the only things he really likes, and tossed to rest to Maria and Kain to divvy up. They, in turn, tossed whatever they didn't want into the "parent bowl". They began to feast. After about 15 minutes, Kain announced that I should take his temperature because he didn't feel very good. He felt cool, and I expertly diagnosed him as having overdosed on too much sugar and too late a bedtime and tucked him in.

If tradition holds, each afternoon at snack time I'll let them break out their haul and have at it. Eventually, after they've eaten what they really like, they quit asking for their candy and I stash the dregs in a box in the kitchen. Then, when it's long forgotten and I'm tired of (grazing off it) looking at it, I toss it away. I'm always waiting for someone to come back in February and demand their 6 tootsie rolls and two laffy taffys, but so far it hasn't happened.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Irish dance class

video

I think it's going pretty well considering she's only been going 2 months! I know *I* couldn't do it, hehe.

honesty

Me, with an armful of Tess, to Jack, after successful maneuvering him into Maria's dance class during which he actually obeyed when I told him not to climb the pile of fill dirt in the parking lot and to stay with me in the bathroom stall----
"You are doing a great job of listening today! Good for you!

Jack- "I hate listening."

She CAN be taught

Maria hates Latin. Maria hates any schoolwork that stretches her a bit, that's why she hates Latin, but I love Latin for her for the same reason she hates it. Anyway, I guess it's sinking in in spite of herself. We were on our way to a field trip yesterday and saw a sign that said "Terra". She mumbled to herself, "Terra, means 'land or earth', terra, terrae, terrae, terram, terra, terrae, terrarum, terris, terras, terris."

Monday, October 27, 2008

The face of puberty

"This is true joy in life- the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; the being a force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy." --George Bernard Shaw

Heehee...is that not "the face of puberty"? A "little clod of ailments and grievances"?

Maria turned 12 in September. But she became a teenager a few days ago. We had our first real bout of teen angst, followed by a terse and irritated conversation that left us both in tears and surrounded by stony silence. Don't get me wrong, we've had the occasional hormonal tearfest here and there, but this was the first real moment that I've doubted myself in navigating these teenage years.

I am SO OVER raising a teenager already. (sigh) That's enough for me, thank you, please wake me when you turn 18.

No, it's ok. Since then we have restored ourselves, and we are fine. It's just painful,,,we are so close, but I found out the other day that we are not close enough to avoid this void of communication, this place where we don't understand each other all of the time anymore, this place where Mom is not enough anymore, where she decides that her life is, at least for the moment, completely unbearable and I'm sitting there thinking "Huh?"

And I try to understand. She's miserable over something that I, in my wise old age, think is completely inane, and I handle it badly, just trying to brush off what I see as irritating self-indulgent whininess. And by brushing it off I turn what could and should have been a chance for her to just vent about whatever is bothering her into this Major Lecture About What Mom Thinks Is Wrong With You. And those lectures always go well, yes? And just like that I've fallen into my own worse parenting trap of riding my kids too hard, of turning simple childish immaturity into a giant character issue to be conquered.

I remember being an angst-filled navel-gazing 12 year old. That's part of the problem, really, that part of being a teenager is being *so* focused on yourself and your own shortcomings, whether those shortcomings are from within or imposed on you by your unreasonable parents, and it takes a few years, or ten, to get that you are really ok, faults and all, and everyone else is too busy trying to schlep through life worrying about their own navel to care much about yours, and that you can be both very ordinary and very special at the same time.

"You come of the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve. And that is both honor enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth. Be content." Aslan, from Prince Caspian

Friday, October 24, 2008

book meme

Ok, the rules are, Grab the closest book to you, turn to page 56, start with the 5th sentence and post 2-5 paragraphs.

So, as soon as I saw that Lori was doing a book meme, I was hoping she would tag me. Because we are giant book nerds around here. And I'm sitting here at my desk, determined to be honest and not cheat with a better book, maybe a more intellectual one than I will find when I turn around,,,not be like, "Oh, look, I just happened to have this copy of The Gulag Archipelago here...", or cheat spiritually, "Oh, let me grab my copy of the Summa here by my feet..."

Ok, there's nothing on the computer desk...but behind me,,What a surprise! A children's book!

"I should be proud to see a fine nestful in my wood-shed. Oh, what would be a finer sight?"

Jemima Puddle-duck came every afternoon, and laid nine eggs in the nest. The foxy gentleman admired them immensely.

At last Jemima told the gentleman she was ready to sit on her eggs until they hatched.

'Madam,' he said, 'before you commence your tedious sitting I intend to give you a treat. Let us have a dinner party all to ourselves. May I ask you to bring some herbs from the farm garden to make, er...a savoury omelette? I will provide lard for the stuffing...I mean, omelette.'

Jemima Puddle-duch was a simpleton; she quite unsuspectingly went round nibbling snippets off all the different sorts of herbs that are used for stuffing roast duck."

I do love children's books, so much so that I hope I swing smoothly someday from mother into grandmother without a long lag in between so that I can continue reading them always and forever. Which is a distinct possibility since my oldest will be around 30 by the time Tess graduates from high school! Boy, is that weird to think about or what?

Who to tag, who to tag...long story, I haven't eaten dinner yet, can you imagine?, and I'm starving, and the oven just beeped that it's done preheating, and so, if you read this post hoping to be tagged too, then TAG, you are it!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thrifty Thursday

Almost every piece of furniture we have in our house was handed down to us or bought used. I'm thinking now of what we have bought new...the table in our school room came from Wally World. Jack's toddler bed came from there too. The crib-turned-cosleeper Tess uses was bought new, as was the changing table, when I was pregnant with Jack. The mattresses on Kain's bed and on my bed were bought new. Oh, the toy bin shelf thingies in the school room...the craft table in the art room used to be my dinette table back in my single mom days. Our kitchen appliances were gifts from my inlaws. I think that's it. The hoosier cabinet in the art room, the washer and drier, the dining room table, the computer desk, the entertainment center, the living room tables, the recliner, the couch, all the dressers, Maria's bed, all the small-bookshelves-turned nightstands, even the lamps and the area rugs, all passed down from family or bought at thrift stores. Now, we are not picky about furniture. We have four kids and three cats and our furniture takes a beating. We are not wealthy people, and it would be a rather stupid waste of limited funds to buy an expensive couch just so I can experience the mini stroke that would be sure to occur the first time someone took a Sharpie to it. It brings me great peace of mind to know that when our current couch becomes too ugly and worn even for my "Early American Garage Sale" style of decorating, it is a small matter to put it at the curb and pick up another for $60 at the thrift store.

That being said, I do *love* pretty furniture. But used stuff, even really nice used stuff, can be bought for a fraction of the price of new stuff. When the day comes that I at least no longer have boys under the age of 10 around, I would like to upgrade. But, as I'm sure my funds will still be limited, I plan to upgrade to better used furniture, not new. "Used furniture" doesn't have to equal "ugly furniture". There is a market of decent stuff out there, including really solid older furniture, stuff with a look that says "vintage" instead of "Brady bunch throwback". I'd rather buy a used but well built sofa than a new cheap one, even if the costs are comparable between the two. After all, I imagine my future grandchildren won't be any kinder to furniture than my children are. The future cats, however, will be declawed.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Jack's turns 4, in pictures

We finally got to celebrate!!
It was a lovely day, very low stress and simple, the kind of sweet and easy celebration that is just enough for a four year old. We took cupcakes to a homeschool group park day....here's a bunch of random park pictures in no particular order...








Maria and Kain were there, of course, but they were running around with their friends and not often in camera shot.

That was enough to wear Jack out a bit...


And then we came home to open presents. Jack got some new books,

...including this one, Zin Zin Zin a Violin, is his new favorite and he knows it by heart already because we've checked it out from the library so many times.

And a new piece for his train set,


This character from his favorite PBS show, Word World. The letter pieces are magnetic and come apart.


How long do you think it took the older kids to do something gross with it?

Ok, that's a lie, I did that. What can I say, I'm a giant 8 year old. But they laughed! And they would have thought it up eventually, believe me.

He also got his first little scooter, which had to be put together and tried out right away.

I did get him a helmet too, sized for kids 5 and up, and it was way too small for his giant head. I have to exchange it. I figured the helmet was kind of overkill for such a little three wheeled scooter, and he would certainly be fine to ride the thing until I replaced the helmet. But of course, he immediately slipped off of back end of the scooter and cracked his head on the pavement! Oh, reckless mother!

We ended the day with dinner at the McDonald's playland, his favorite place on earth, and ice cream cones for dessert.


It's amazing to me, always, how different the kids are, their interests, their personalities. Maria loved arts and crafts from the time she was tiny. Jack could care less about such things. But he loves trains, cars, airplanes, and just about any type of vehicle, he loves books, loves letters and numbers, and he loves, loves, loves music. My parents got him this dvd for his birthday. I thought it was kind of an odd choice for a four year old, but he LOVES it and watches it every day, usually with his drum at hand so he can play along.


Jack is sweet, serious, quirky, and very bright. He loves to be outdoors more than anything else and he's always very busy when he's outside. He's a typical four year old, fiercely independent one minute and clinging to Momma the next. It's been a joy to watch his big boy personality evolve from his baby self.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Jack-isms

Upon returning home from a walk to the creek with Daddy...

"Momma, I'm all soggy and filfy with mud!"

Saturday, October 11, 2008

The Good Wife

Please go read this over on Elizabeth Foss' blog. She is on bedrest right now in an effort to convince her sweet unborn baby to remain put for a while longer. She may be redefining her roles as a wife and mother right now, but she is shining as a writer, that's for sure. I think this may be the best piece she's ever written. Beautiful!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thrifty Thursday. I mean, um, Friday.

I missed two Thursdays! Well!
My topic for this week is avoiding waste. And you are thinking, "OH MY, what thrify BRILLIANCE!" But really, I do try to go out of my way to avoid wasting anything. It drives me crazy, wasting stuff. My husband does not have the same aversion, but I am converting him. For example, Maria and I recently made these cinnamon and sugar biscuits recently from Jennie's blog. You are supposed to roll out the dough into a rectangle, then spread melted butter, cinnamon, and sugar in the center, then roll the whole thing up into a log, cut it into pieces, and bake them. But, as can happen with two chefs in the kitchen, I realized too late that the dough was too soft. When we rolled it up, it kind of softened and spread into a lump instead of a log. It was too late then to do much about it, so I went ahead and cut it into very messy pieces and baked them. They didn't much resemble biscuits. The vey soft dough spread far and flat and cooked into shingles, really, especially around the edges. They were still good though. Just very, very crunchy. And the melted butter/sugar basically cemented them to the cookie sheet. So, I chipped them off the cookie sheets and put the chunks into a ziploc bag. When John got home from work, I served them in a bowl with vanilla ice cream on top and told him it was "snickerdoodle shortcake". Do you know he bought it? It was actually very good!! heehee. I plan to try again though and see if I can do Jennie's recipe justice. Tonight, though, I'm making Lori's raspberry bars. They are cooling now, and the house smells like butter and toasted coconut. Mmmmm.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Melanomics, part two

Ok, the second part of our new system is a reward system. I said before how much I disliked these, but I'm going to try it. This system is simpler to explain. It actually works out nicely because Kain will be receiving his first reconciliation soon and I managed to tie this in. I made a list of good behaviors associated with 8 of the Ten Commandments. It's basically an examination of conscience. Here's our list, if you are interested. The stuff in parenthesis is for your benefit. :)
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
First commandment:
Respectful during family prayer times.

Second commandment:
Uses God’s name respectfully.
Does not use bad language.

Third commandment:
Pays attention during mass and is respectful, especially during consecration.
Participates in prayers and singing during mass.

Fourth commandment:
Up in the morning on second warning.
Morning list done completely and checked off.
Independent work done completely.
Independent work done neatly and school stuff put away.
Helpful acts for Aunt Mel and Uncle John.
Zone checks done well with one reminder.
Zone checks done well with no reminder.
Meal chores done well without complaint.
No getting out of bed the night before.
No more than one warning with Jack at bedtime the night before.
No warnings with Jack at bedtime the night before.
Bedroom floor clean during random checks.
Respectful to other adults. (i.e., PSR class, Upward practice, etc.)
Picked up after yourself.

Fifth commandment:
Did not fight with anyone. (you know, in a nasty way, not just a conflict of interest)
Did not tease anyone.
Did not provoke anyone to anger. (i.e., baiting)
Performed acts of kindness.

Seventh commandment:
Respected other’s property.
Played fairly with others.
Set a good example for others.

Eight commandment:
Spoke and behaved honestly. (no lying or sneaking)
Spoke respectfully to others.

Tenth commandment:
Acted generously and without envy. (no tantrum throwing because "THAT'S NOT FAIR")
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm sure I will be tweaking this and adding other things as I see a need. At the end of the day, we will go down the list and he will get checks for the good things he did. When he gets 300 checks, he can choose from a list of special outings, like swimming at the rec center, roller skating, ice cream cones at the McDonald's playland, etc. We are scouting out other ideas to add to the outing list. They need to be free or inexpensive. 300 sounds like a lot, but there's potential to earn over 20 checks a day, so it can add up quickly if behavior is good. With some areas, like performing acts of kindness, you can even earn more than one check a day. I tried to figure it in a way so that at least some attempt at decent behavior can earn an outing once a month or so and really great behavior can earn one in a couple of weeks.

Maria, of course, wanted in on this one...so she will be participating in this part of the system too. So, that's my brainchild, that's what I've been working on while Kain has been gone. Today's the first day and I started him on "Blessed", but he's already been dropped to "Venerable", haha! We'll see how it goes. He's not thrilled with the levels, but he loves the checklists.

Melanomics, part one

Here's how our new token economy works....

There are two parts. The first part is "levels". He will be on a certain level each day depending on his behavior, and each level has it's own privileges and responsibilities. Here are the four levels. Please note how Catholic we are, to the point of being Catholic nerds. You gotta have a sense of humor, always.

The first level is "purgatory". This is the lowest level reserved for truly obnoxious behavior. There are no privileges at this level. No toys out of the toy closet, only what is available in the playroom. No special box (a box with special toys he keeps under his bed). Bedtime right after dinner with no read aloud and no reading lamp once in bed. No outside time. If we have to go somewhere, he must stay with an adult whenever possible at home. If he must go, then he has to stay with an adult while we are out. For example, if we have a homeschool play day while he is on this level, he has to sit with me instead of playing with the other kids.

Trust breaking behaviors earn this level. These behaviors are the biggies...lying, sneaking, stealing, touching someone in anger, damaging or trying to damage property, and refusing to go to time out when sent (this is a biggie because it is our only way of controlling him when he is in a rage. We can't drag him around anymore.) If he shows any of these behaviors, he is immediately put on purgatory level and will stay there for the rest of that day and until there are no more trust breaking behaviors for 24 hours.

The second level is the "Venerable" level. On this level, things are a little better. He can have toys out of the toy closet and his special box. Bedtime is at 8, and he can have the reading lamp on for 15 minutes. He can go outside under adult supervision. This level is a step up from purgatory, but it is also a level used as a consequence for "bond breaking behaviors", that is, behaviors that damage family bonds. These behaviors include direct disobedience, screaming and tantrums, mean words, and unkindness to those younger than him. If he shows these behaviors, he is immediately put on this level (unless he is already on purgatory!) and he is on it for the rest of the day and until there are no more bond breaking behaviors for 24 hours.

The third level is the "Blessed" level. On this level, things are better still. This is probably the "maintenance" level, where Kain can usually perform on a good day. On this level, he gets TV privileges during free time. Bedtime is at 8:30, and he can use his reading lamp for 30 minutes. He can play on our property without an adult, and if it is a weekend he can have computer time. This level and the next one are a bit different in that he has to have positive behaviors to stay on it, not just an absence of negative behaviors. To stay on this level, he needs to show respectful behaviors, such as speaking respectfully to others, right away obedience when he is asked to do or stop doing something, and no (or little) whining, arguing, and complaining. If he doesn't show enough respectful behavior, he will be bumped down to Venerable for the following day. If he shows good respectful behavior, as well as some sacrificing behaviors, he can move up to the fourth level the next day.

The fourth level is, of course, the "Saint" level. This is the highest, and it is meant to stretch him a bit. On the Saint level, he's got it made. He can have bedtime at 9, and he can use the extra time in the evening on the computer. He can have his reading lamp as long as he wants. He can play outside not just in the yard but in our "boundaries", a certain area we have set in the blocks around our home. Life is good. To stay on this level for the following day, we are looking not just for respectful behaviors but for sacrificing behaviors, like looking for ways to be helpful to John and I, or extra kindnesses to other kids like letting someone else have the first turn or decide what to play, etc. Above and beyond kind of stuff.

Moving up a level is decided at bedtime for the following day.
Time outs are still use for arguing and whining and that kind of thing. He is counted for those. If he doesn't stop at the count of three, he will be sent to time out, and the behavior will be taken into account when his level for the next day is decided.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Kain is coming home TODAY

Oh. My. Gosh.
The therapist called yesterday afternoon and said that Kain is being discharged today. I don't know why. Every time I tried to find out why I got some kind of verbal run-around, but having been a nurse I think the gist is that his insurance isn't wanting to pay for any more time. Insurance Companies, btw, are at the top of my fecal roster, even before Every Lawyer I've Ever Hired, and Fast Food People That Overstuff Your Bags So That They Don't Close And Your Food Gets Cold On The Way Home. Therapists may be soon placed on the list too. Because after meeting with her just last week and making a Treatment Plan with Official Goals to use in the coming weeks of family therapy, he is being dropped, just like that. I have been scrambling to get ready. More on that later.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

You like me, you really like me



I was so sweetly awarded this tag by Kelly weeks ago and have been too overwhelmed to do much with it until now. Thank you Kelly, I didn't forget!

You are supposed to give one word answers with no explaination, and then tag five bloggers with the award. *I cheated a little.

1. Where is your cell phone? van
2. Where is your significant other? *danceclass
3. Your hair color? brown
4. Your mother? awesome
5. Your father? absent
6. Your favorite thing? babies
7. Your dream last night? changing
8. Your dream/goal? heaven
9. The room you’re in? livingroom*
10. Your hobby? blogging
11. Your fear? incapacitation
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? organized
13. Where were you last night? cosleeping
14. What you’re not? motivated
15. One of your wish-list items? mixer
16. Where you grew up? Virginia
17. The last thing you did? nurse
18. What are you wearing? pajamas
19. Your TV? VeggieTales*
20. Your pet? cats
21. Your computer? PC
22. Your mood? fragile
23. Missing someone? YES
24. Your car? minivan
25. Something you’re not wearing? shoes
26. Favorite store? hobbylobby*
27. Your summer? ok
28. Love someone? absolutely
29. Your favorite color? greens
30. When is the last time you laughed? today
31. Last time you cried? yesterday

Ok, who to tag...I've seen this one everywhere and so many of you have probably already done it. But I'll tag

Entropy- who is too silent lately, and I miss her thoughtful posts. She's probably being all responsible or whatever and using her time wisely, but whatever. :)

Lori- who's sweet, charming blog always makes me smile

Jennie- who is the sweetest mom I think I've "met" in the blogosphere.

Erin, another sweet, slightly crunchy momma I've been meaning to link to over there, Hi Erin!

And, oh shoot, I only get one more. Oh well, I'm going to put Lisa, another awesome crunchy momma, Hi Lisa!

Ok, now I've got to go get some stuff done. Because yes, I am still in my pajamas, terrible...in my defense, Tuesdays are kind of an "off" day for us because Maria has dance in the morning and we usually run errands and such in the afternoons. Today...Aldi!

Jack turns 4


Today is Jack's 4th birthday. Shhh. We're not allowed to tell him. We are waiting to celebrate on a day Kain is out on pass, which won't be for a couple of weeks yet. I'm really bummed about it, it's just so weird to not even be able to tell him happy birthday. He has been so looking forward to his birthday ever since Maria's a month ago. But to him, a birthday equals cake and presents, he just wouldn't understand waiting for Kain. And since Jack doesn't know any better and Kain does, we've decided to wait on Kain. Kain is very upset when he finds out he's missed any kind of family ritual. These things are still pretty new to him and he takes them super seriously. He would be devastated to find out we celebrated without him. Still, it feels odd. Anyway, I'll post an official "all about Jack at 4" thing with pictures of his actual celebration.

We are doing ok here. I'm pretty sure I'm having some problems with depression, something that's rather new to me. I had some depression as a teenager, but that was pretty circumstantial. I'm exceedingly decisive, sometimes impulsively so, and when something is wrong in my life I want to FIX IT. Wallowing in despair is not exactly my style. So, imagine my surprise to find myself wallowing quite a bit lately. I know I have lots of people praying for me, and I'm feeling better actually. Now I'm just waiting to see if it lasts, but I definitely feel in a FIX IT mode right now. It came to me that I may have been granted this little depressive episode to give me more empathy for people that suffer with depression and other mental illnesses. I've not always been the most charitable person in the world with people in my real life that have mental illnesses (runs in the family, heavily. "In the South, we don't ask if there are crazy people in your family, we just ask which side they're on."). Even as a nurse, I had little patience for patients in the hospital on suicide watch or psychosomatic illnesses, feeling like they were taking my time away from those that were "really sick".

In the midst of a wallow yesterday, it hit me, that I was doing the same thing that I could never understand in these people. I prayed to my grandfather. He died three years ago, a devout Catholic and wonderful man who also happens to have been severely bipolar. I told him I got it, and that I was sorry. I've never understood how someone can be so depressed that they can't work up the motivation to do the smallest thing to make their situation better. Now I know, and I'm sorry for that. Immediately I felt better. The pain in my tense neck muscles was gone, the anxious nausea, the fog in my head...it was just...gone. So, I might sound crazy, but I really think that that was the purpose for my pain, to learn to feel some charity for people that fight this all the time, especially those in my own family. I was being hard hearted. Every Christian worth their salt knows that when you are hard hearted, you are just asking for God to break out the chisel.

Friday, October 03, 2008

update on Kain

I met with the therapist on Wednesday. It was just an initial meeting, to set treatment goals and that kind of thing. Mainly, our goals for now are to get him to handle frustration better, without raging. I have lots of other goals for him :), but that's the main one, the one that landed him in the hospital. When I was describing some of his other odd behaviors to him, she wanted to know why asperger's had ever been ruled out for him. For example, when he came down to therapy, he had this green jacket on. I had picked it up for him at the thrift store a couple of weeks previously. It's nothing fancy, just a bright green zip up jacket. He has been wearing it non-stop ever since. Day and night, when it is far too warm to wear it, red faced with sweat running down his head, wearing that jacket. He has lots of odd little things like this. Anyway, I told her I didn't rule it out, his psychiatrist did. She thinks he's just very immature. And really, a lot of his odd behaviors wouldn't seem so odd if they were happening in a much younger child. So maybe it is just immaturity. Who knows. It doesn't really matter much to me, practically speaking, what the official diagnosis is.

She also said that he would be considered an acute patient for a week to ten days. Then he could go home or stay in subacute care for several weeks. She wanted to know what I wanted, and I said I wasn't ready for him to come home yet. I felt kind of bad about that, but there it is. I've been guiltily enjoying the peace and quiet, honestly. But then last night, I couldn't sleep. I was worrying about Kain, feeling badly that he didn't have anyone to read to him and tuck him in, wondering if he was homesick, hoping that he knew, really knew, that I did love him, that I do want him here, just minus the ugly behaviors. I impulsively got out of bed and called the hospital, and the nurse told me she had just come on shift and really couldn't tell me much. She said the offgoing shift had said that Kain has been feeding into negative behaviors. The therapist said the same thing. I don't really know what that means. I think it means that when another child is acting up, he does to. I can see that. It's largely why we homeschool him, he has a nose for sniffing out the worst behaved child in a group and following them like a puppy dog.

I found this in my paper pile today. Maria colored it a few months ago, before Tess was born. Isn't this a therapist's dream come true?



I don't know if you can see this well enough to tell, but this is a family picture. Our names are written in the different parts of the picture. It says, "MOM" in the grass, "DAD" in the sun, "JACK" in the water, and "MARIA" is written in the purple of the sunset, and Kain? Why, it says "KAIN" in the black cloud over head. Sigh.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

September in review

Thank you all for your comments and emails. Things are going pretty well. I met with the therapist today and I'll post more about that tomorrow. I did want to get these fall-like pictures up that I've been collecting on my camera all month.

Fall means the leaves are turning...Jack asks me every day if we can rake yet.


Our parish had their annual fall festival, which means junk food...


Bouncy things...


Games....


And more junk food.


Fall also means caramel apples...yum-o!





And in other October news, Tess turned four months old and is still the sweetest and easiest baby in the world. She is a joy to have with us and has such a personality already. And even though she's still very laid-back, she is starting to be a little more opinionated about being with Momma and is getting a little nervous around strangers. Sometimes this means tears, sometimes just looking over towards me for reassurance that everything is still ok. She is moving on to big baby things, like exersaucers...


And bedtime stories.


Also, aliens are leaving shoe circles in my bedroom. Weird.

fall menu-redux

Fall baking- pumpkin bread, pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, iced pumpkin cookies, apple pie, leaf cookies, apple cake, caramel apples, popcorn balls,
Beef Stew, crusty bread
Homeade pizza, salad
Meatloaf, baked sweet potatoes, picky eaters cabbage
Red beans and rice, greens, corn bread
Chicken Cacciatori, spaghetti, garlic cheese biscuits
Smashing Pumpkin Soup, crusty bread
Sloppy Joes, oven fries, need another side!
Chicken and dumplings, asparagus
Nacho Casserole, peas, some kinda bread
Garlic Lime Chicken, couscous, butternut squash, lima beans
Roast Beef Picante, mashed potatoes, broccoli, cuban bread
Chicken and rice chowder, crusty bread