Thursday, September 22, 2011
And then, after, I opened up my laptop and went to Facebook to catch up before moving onto other things. I have a blog "liked", Single Dad Laughing so I see whenever he puts up a new post. I clicked over onto his blog and futzed around a bit. Lo and behold, I found this posting from yesterday: Finding My Soul on the Mountain.
So worth the read. Good timing. Perfect time. But then, I guess there are no accidents, right?
It got me thinking: Where do I go to find my soul?
At first I immediately thought "I don't. I couldn't find peace if it slammed me in the face.: But the more I read the clearer it became: the beach. The ocean. The waves. The violence of the waves crashing allows everything inside me to settle. I breathe deep the salty air and as I do, it relaxes me. I can stand on a balcony overlooking the ocean for a long, long time just watching, listening and breathing.
So while Dan might go to the mountains, I go to the ocean. I need the ocean.
Where do you go to find your soul?
I'm in the Land of Funk.
I think I'm PMSing (yeah I know...TMI but I don't really care). Need proof? Take for instance: the changes over in Facebook Land. They so don't make me happy and yet - I realize in that in the grand scheme of things, it really doesn't matter. And yet - it seems and feels terribly important. The job hunt has me slightly (!) on edge. My goal has been 4-6 applications a day. I have hit that goal every day since setting it. I know it's still early for those to pan out since weeks and weeks can go by before hearing a word...you know, IF I hear a word. I am even in contact with an agency who works with "hard to place people". Such a f-d up way to look at yourself. Hard to place.
I know in just a couple weeks via my annual Social Security report, the Federal Government will again remind me I am worth a big fat zero. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. It's funny but until the past few years, those reports didn't really bother me because I knew I was doing something ultra-important: raising future adults. Now, though my job with the children is the same (raising them to be fully functioning, happy, well-adjusted adults) my lack of worth hits like a hammer and brings me to my knees.
We all know that if stay at home moms received paychecks, they would be higher than an average paycheck for an average worker...plus overtime. I also know that the skills I have honed in the 9.5 years since Kelton arrived on the planet, in addition to the ones I had prior to that (you know - the same skills that made me a highly qualified and an in-demand employee who was recruited into the last position I held), should make me an excellent candidate.
I have no doubt that 5 years ago I would have been snatched up. Five years ago. When the economy was different and well...when I had "only" been out 5 years. But five years ago I had a 4 year old and a 1 year old who I was solely responsible for more days and nights than not and I had a partner who agreed with the advantage of my being at home with them. I thought those days were hard. They were, in retrospect, a walk in the park.
I'm grumbling and moaning, I know. I don't expect poor you's and don't need any self-righteous ideas and thoughts on my life. I'm just venting before I explode and lucky you - you get to read it. Or not. No one is forcing you to.
Remember a post I had a while back about Polaroids vs Portraits? This is a snapshot of my mindset at this very moment. It is NOT indicative of anything else.
I know I am VERY lucky, fortunate, blessed and loved as well. It's just that in this moment, those feelings are in the background and the PMS monster has taken over. Right now I'm sad, defeated, frustrated and scared.
(PS..I turned off comments. I really don't want any. I just wanted to vent. Thanks. I'm sure my brighter outlook-self will be back soon.)
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Heart Of The World
Tom Douglas / Scooter Caruso
Tin cans rattling the pavement
Confetti scattered everywhere
She falls asleep in the seat beside me
Rice caught up in her hair
I don't mind it, I keep driving
Flying on these wheels of steel
A bit anxious, a bit nervous
The moment's all we can feel
If oil is the soul of the engine
Then wine is the drink of the gods
Forgiveness the road to redemption
Faith can still beat the odds
We're meant to be
Baby hold on to me
You'll never not be my girl
Cause love is the heart of the world
I leave him sleeping as I rise early
Always up before the dawn
The house is dark but I see clearly
The kettle sings a morning song
The bacon's frying, baby's crying
I soak up the sights and sounds
Minutes turn to ...days and I
Wish that I could slow 'em down
If grease is the soul of the kitchen
And coffee the drink of the gods
Routine too perfect to mention
Time is a thief I would rob
We're meant to be
Baby hold on to me
I’ll never not be your girl
Cause love is the heart of the world
If hope is the soul of the dreamer
Then Heaven is the home of my God
It only takes one true believer
To believe you can still beat the odds
We're meant to be
Baby hold on to me
You'll never not be my girl
Never not be your girl
Cause love is the heart, love is the heart
Love is the heart of the world
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
The hours spent agonizing over rewriting five paragraphs. The tears. The tantrums. The stalling. The "needing a drink or snack" every ten minutes. The throwing of the pencils across the room. The parents, standing there, willing themselves not to bash their own heads against the wall. Willing themselves to stay calm. Breathe deep. Be understanding. And stand strong against the overwhelming desire to send a strongly worded email to the teacher telling them exactly what they can do with their homework assignments.
I am in that hell. And it's only the second full week of school.
Every day I hold my breath and hope he just breezes in, grabs a snack as he tells me about his day and then settled in to do his work.
And every day I hear "Can I just not do it today? I only have to do it four days a week - I think I'll skip today." For the record - this 4 days a week stuff is making it even harder than if they say "Nope - it's every day. Monday through Friday. Saturday and Sunday no homework." (Writing is every day but math and reading are 4 days a week.)
Every day I say "Nope. Sorry. Sit down and get to work, please."
Every day I say "Kelton? I'm serious. Get to work so we can move on to something else."
Every day I say "Yelling at me isn't going to make it go away or get it done."
Every day I say "Unlike last year, I'm not going to argue about your homework from the time you arrive home until the time you finally get it done. We're going to work on it as soon as you get home and then we can move on."
And everyday we argue about sitting down and doing his homework.
To his credit, I do feel like the level of homework is a bit too heavy for a 4th grader. Yesterday it took almost two hours for him to do his writing assignment. Then there was math. And 20 minutes of reading. I also can't help but feel fourth grade is when it really starts to matter. The weight of his workload feels....heavier. More serious. Like I'm worried about sick days and how we will make up the work that is bound to be sent home.
Fourth grade seems to be a new ballgame.
No longer is it a bit of homework every day (like reading). It's homework every day. Real homework.
And then on the flip side, I have Kaylen begging for homework. She has reading, of course, but it we don't officially begin logging until October. Which means she doesn't feel she needs to do it now and besides, reading isn't really homework, according to her. She wants HOMEWORK.
I don't. Because juggling two of them at the kitchen counter every afternoon sounds like more than I can do right now. I know my future. Kelton will say, as he looks over at Kaylen's work, "That's so easy. I can't believe you have that as homework." and Kaylen will burst into tears. She will say he is mean and she hates him. I will scold them both and try to get them back on task. Kelton will kick her under the counter edge where I can't see. Kaylen will scream and cry. Kelton will get reprimanded and Kaylen will be told she needs to not say mean things. Kelton will say "Yeah KAYLEN!" in his snottiest voice. Kaylen will burst into fresh tears.
Wash, Rinse, Repeat.
Mommy will look for an adult beverage.
October can take it's time getting here, thankyouverymuch.
In the meantime, I have a child who took almost two hours to rewrite FIVE paragraphs. I will grant you, he needs writing and spelling homework. And I love the process his teacher is using it's just that, for Kelton (and me), it's like dragging a 6,000 boulder up the side of a mountain.
We finished the weeks writing assignment yesterday (Day 1 Create a visual web of your topic. Day 2 Write down an overview of your paper. Day 3 Write a draft of your paper. (insert weekend here - no homework) Day 4 Edit your draft for spelling, grammer and punctuation. Day 5 Rewrite your paper.) and today? Today we start all over. Ummm....yay?
It's going to a long year as far as homework is concerned.
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
I straightened up the living room; cleaning up the toy corner (which I predict will stay clean only until.....oh let's say....4:00pm today), took bedroom toys back to the kids rooms and put them away. Folded and put away the load of laundry I had done and then got the idea of washing the couch blankets (I have a basket of blankets near the couch that the kids cuddle up under in the mornings and evenings. The dogs also end up cuddling on them. Eeew.) and the couch pillow covers.
From there I vacuumed the entire house and the couches and then...oh heck.....may as well clean the carpets in the main areas.
So...I made a dent in the To Do list for housework and I'm ok with that. Dents are good. The kids will be home in an hour and a half so I think I am going to make something for lunch and heat up a cup of coffee.
Life is good.
It's a dark day and while the forecast promise sun and temps near 80, I seriously doubt that will happen. It's hard to be motivated when the dark days set in.
I did all that I needed to do this morning. It's the To Do list on the housework that hangs over my head. I don't wanna. Sometimes I don't see the point. The kids don't care and it's not like I'm trying to prove my worth to anyone anymore.
I will get it all done....but I don't wanna.
I might not get it all done today.
The nice thing about being where I am in my life, and having gone through what I have, I have let go of some of the OCD-ness I had when it came to the homes I created. Now, I walk by the dining room table and see the layer of dust and instead of feeling overwhelming guilt, I draw a smiley face and walk away. I look at the kitchen floor and think "Eh. I'll sweep and mop but I have no need to kill myself scrubbing the floor on my hands and knees." I see the kids beds, which they make themselves, and think "I should redo them so they are perfect." But I don't because what does that teach them? That their work isn't good enough? That's not a good lesson. (And see how easily I can justify not doing it?)
I mean really - it all just needs to be done again in a day...or a week..maybe two.
I wish I had realized how silly it was to kill myself before. How silly it was to think that that my worth was validated and appreciated by how clean and organized I kept things. Maybe I would have spent more time on the floor playing with my babies. Maybe I wouldn't have gotten so frustrated trying to juggle it all and trying to be seen as having it all together. Maybe I would have taken the kids to the park more often. Maybe I would have taken Kaylen to the zoo or the children's museum when Kelton was school full time. I always planned on it. There never seemed to be a good time. Too much to do. Too much waiting to be done. Too many balls to juggle.
I'm not saying I am letting the house go to shambles. I'm saying my priorities are different now.
But then...my life is different now. So very different.
Different is good.
Monday, September 12, 2011
By Mother Teresa
Please are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centered: Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and
some true enemies; Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people
may cheat you; Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years
building, someone could destroy overnight; Build anyway. If you find serenity
and happiness, they may be jealous; Be happy anyway.
The good you do
today, people will often forget tomorrow; Do good anyway.
Give the world
the best you have and it may never be enough; Give the world the best you've got
You see, in the final analysis it is between you and God; It was
never between you and them anyway.
The kids were with Dakota and Vicki. The plan had been to have the kids with them during the day and back here for sleeping (the heat can set off Kaylen's sensory issues which can make her a very miserable child. Both for her...and those around her.) but Friday, just minutes before Dakota arrived, they decided they would try to stay at her house and not come back to sleep.
Ok then. They rushed off to pack their stuff and I talked with them about if they changed their minds, all they had to do was say so and we would figure it out. I sent dakota a text so she was in the know with the change of plans.
They didn't change their minds. Even though the upstairs of the house was hot, they soldiered through and stayed the whole weekend.
For me it was a weird switch of gears. I hadn't planned to *not* see them all weekend (and yes - it is VERY hard to not see them on the weekends they are gone but luckily, I get to see them Friday and then again on Sunday before bed so I really only have to go one full day, twice a month, without seeing their bright and shiny faces) so this sudden shift of plans knocked me off balance a bit.
But it's not about me. It was about them and I'm ok with that. I regained my balance in time.
Plus it meant I could, once again, rearrange my weekend plans to what they had been (well mostly) before the news of the heat wave.
So win win. Kids happy, Casey happy.
Dogs not so happy.
I am gone for many hours on my kid-free weekends and while I try hard to limit my away time to 8 hours, it does sometimes reach nine or ten. And I feel bad but there is also Cody who is alone for more hours than that. And there is also Stephanie and me who want to be out in the world doing things. It's a fine balance we have to strike between taking care of the dogs and taking care of ourselves. Yet another reason I am not a dog person. But that isn't here or there at this point.
Anyway - when I am going to be gone longer than a few hours, I gate Jordan into the kitchen. That way, if he does have an accident, it is easier clean up. Still grosser than gross...but easier to clean up. I toss down his fluffy dog bed and another blanket but I do feel bad for him. He is so old now and I often wish I had a custom floor mat to put down for him. Something super comfy and soft but that cleans up super easily.
I don't. So his bed and a blanket will have to do.
I think he still has it better off than Maddie. She is locked in her crate and while she likes it well enough, it's a long time to be in a crate. Personally, I would lose my ever lovin' mind.
But then...when I finally do get hired somewhere, their time being locked up will be just as long as it is on days like this weekend.
I'm not so sure being a dog is that much fun. I would much rather be a well-cared for house cat. But then - we all know I am more of a cat person anyway. :)
So anyway...back to the weekend; it was great. The more time I spend with Stephanie, the more time I *want* to spend with her. We are going strong and building something fantastic. Now that school is back in session, our time together is severely limited but even so, we're making it work and it is working well. Very well indeed.
Life is good.
Thursday, September 08, 2011
Oh come on - you know you started singing along. :)
It's true though - time is slipping away faster than I can try to capture it and hold it still.
We had a fantastic long holiday weekend. Stephanie and I had all three kids so, as we do every weekend (kids or not) we spent our time going back and forth between the houses to take care of dogs. We have it down to a nice routine though so it feels pretty seamless. Friday night the kids and I stayed home and enjoyed a pizza and movie night together. We watched Rio, me for the first time and the kids for the second time. It was so much fun! Cute movie but my favorite part was listening to the kids say "Hey Kelton, remember THIS part??" or "Kaylen...watch! Here is that bird. Remember?!?!!" At the end of the movie, we went into special features and danced to all the songs that they had available. It was a great time!
Saturday the kids and I went out to Stephanie's in the late morning and stayed until late in the evening. The kids play so well together and even though they had been apart all week, they just clicked back into sync with each other. The boys played Wii, Kaylen picked berries and then all three played imagination games in the field. Oh - and at one point all three where in the bed of Stephanie's truck and were begging for her to drive around with them. If you had a truck in your family growing up, I know you know what I'm talking about. I remember (pre-seat belt laws) when my dad would let us ride in the back of his truck. He didn't take us far but it didn't matter - as a kid it felt like SO much wild freedom!
We looked at each other, shrugged and nodded yes, we set the ground rules (Sitting down at all time. Not being on your behind meant it was over. Just like that.) and Stephanie and I jumped into the cab of the truck. She drove, in first gear, all around the field. The laughter, as the bumps in the ground bounced them around, from the back of the truck was contagious! It was so much fun!
It wasn't long before we were back here and settling in for the night.
The next morning flew by and soon we were on our way back to the other house. We spent another fun-filled day there, complete with a last swim in the pool before it comes down for the year. As we were gathering kids and things to come back here that night, we all tried to find Cody, Stephanie's dog. The kids were calling for him and his name bounced around through the air and off the trees. I finally went out to search for him and found him laying right off the back patio (how they didn't see him is beyond me). He wouldn't move more than to lift his head. When he did lift his head, I saw red stuff all over his chin.
I called Stephanie over. She tried to get him moving. Nope. Wasn't having it. She looked at the stuff on his chin, looked and me and said "He must have gotten into something." Crud. She scooped his limp body up and headed for the truck, I went the other way and grabbed her phone, keys and backpack.
She loaded him in the truck and the kids came running out. We told them she was going to take him to the vet because he wasn't acting right and we thought he had gotten into something not good for him because he had something on his chin. Andrew piped up with "That's sauce from my ravioli. I left it on the coffee table and he ate it." He looked down sheepishly because we all know the rule, Cody cannot, at any time, have people food. It makes him very sick. The other rule is never,e ver leave your food or dishes unattended.
Stephanie and I looked at each other with relief. Ok - so no poison. But what was wrong with him? We talked it over and decided, that while it is difficult to have Cody at the house with my cats, we would take him with us to keep an eye on him.
I kid you not.....we were about two miles from my house when the little fluff ball perked up and looked 100% fine! He continued to be fine for the rest of the night. Clearly he was just unhappy at the thought of being alone overnight again. (We worked out a strategy so he never came in contact with the cats (He enjoys chasing them. They do not enjoy it.) and we all survived the 24 hours. )
We arrived back, with Cody in tow, around 7:15pm. The plan was to build a campfire and have s'mores. At 7:30, Kaylen said "I wish we could set up the tent, too." I explained that I didn't want to sleep in the tent and that unless the boys did, we couldn't set it up. I didn't think the boys would want to either but surprise! They did.
I yanked the tent from its place in the garage and unzipped the bag. It hadn't seen the light of day for two years and was quite musty and I was feeling rusty in the department of setting it up. No problem either way though. Stephanie and I had it up in less than 15 minutes and the kids were thrilled!
We loaded in bedding and whatnot and then I built the fire. It was an awesome night! After making s'mores and sitting around the fire talking, the kids drifted off into the tent. Before long, games came out of the house and the three of them played HeadBandz and other games for a while. We sat on the patio and listened to them as they laughed and laughed. :)
Kaylen fell asleep around 11 and the boys were finally settled down just after midnight. We left the slider open to my bedroom so we could hear them and two of the dogs slept in the tent with the kids. The day rocked!
At then end of the weekend, none of us were ready for it be over. We took Andrew, Cody and Stephanie back to their house and we all had dinner together. Before long, the three of us were back in the car and heading home. We talked about what a great weekend it had been and they both bemoaned the fact that it was over and they didn't want it to be. I nodded my head in complete agreement.
A perfect weekend. A perfect ending to summer.
Oh you know....except for this heat wave we have had going all week which makes it hard to believe summer is really over. :)
Saturday, September 03, 2011
Then I looked around. All the other girls were also hula hooping "backwards". Huh?
I did a quick survey and asked the girls to raise the hands they write with. Every single one shot their right hand in the air. Including Kaylen.
Kaylen was the *only* one in a group of about 15 hula hooping girls who was hula hooping in a different direction than everyone else.
I know that over the past year I have been asked by different people if Kaylen was left handed because she did this, that or the other thing differently from the other kids. Take, for example, stepping. From standing still to walking, she leads with her left leg. During a random non-scientific survey I took, right handed people seem to lead with their right leg.
So....my very strongly right handed daughter seems to have a left handed wired brain.
What does that mean??? Is that why she has a brain bug? Crossed wires affecting the way she processes things? I don't know. I just find it fascination.
Just another way my daughter is marching to her own beat.
Friday, September 02, 2011
Kelton's teacher spotted him and right away asked if he would be willing to help him with some things that needed to be done. With a big smile on his face, Kelton left my side and went with Mr. D. I have always liked Mr. D but with this seemingly small action, I think I moved from like to love. :) I really think Mr. D was an excellent match for Kelton.
Kaylen and I walked by her room on the way to pick up PTO things from the child of another PTO member (we use, what we lovingly call, "kid courier mail" for the back and forth paperwork). On our way back by her room, her teacher called to her. We went in and she said "Would you like to hang out in here with me while your mom works?" Again - from like to love. :) Kaylen eagerly nodded her head, turned to me and gave me a kiss before sending me on my way.
I achieved my "in school" work goal and left for home, secure in the knowledge that both my kids were happy in their rooms with their teachers. What a great feeling!
Already this year I can tell there will be no massive amount of school induced stress for me to use as effective fat burners. What a relief!
I arrived home with a stack of PTO mail, volunteer forms, request for funding and student supply funds. I got to work organizing, sorting, tossing and inputting data. The hours flew by and the next thing I knew it was close to Kaylen's lunch time. (She had asked Wednesday evening if I could come have lunch some day with her. I assured her I could and would but it couldn't be Thursday as I had to take my car in for some work.) I decided to jet over to the school and surprise her.
It was so great to hear the chorus of "Ms. Duncan! Ms. Duncan!" from so many of the kids. I said hello to everyone I could and then sat down at Kaylen's table. She, her friends and I enjoyed lunch together and then I joined them on the playground.
It didn't take long before I was bored out of my head. Kaylen was playing with a large circle of girls and was blissfully ignoring me. The recess staff came up one by one and shared their amazement with how far my little girl has come from last year. I am so proud of her!!! Before recess was over I said my goodbye to Kaylen (who really could not have cared any less if she tried! YAY!!!!!) and headed back home.
A few more hours of work on this, that and the other thing and I was finally able to leave the computer for a while. It was an incredibly rewarding and productive day which honestly? I really needed.
The kids arrived home with big smiles on their faces. Kelton is not only a "bus buddy" for a group of kindergartners but I also learned he is "cloakroom czar". Did I mention that I love his funny and quirky teacher?!?! Have I also mentioned that his quirky teacher has the legal middle name of "Spam Spam Eggs and Spam"? It's true! It's on his passport and drivers license! What a quirk!!
So yes - school is going well and my small people are settling in nicely.
It's great except someone needs to enter the data into a spreadsheet.
Meet "someone". :)
It's actually pretty easy but it would be great to have a fancy printer to be able to print some sort of receipt to give to teachers.
I have to say though, after seeing what supplies for two kids cost this year (Thankfully, Dakota took that on.) I think the handing over a check and letting the teachers do shopping in bulk is much more cost effective. I enjoyed just writing a check for Kaylen's supplies last year and knowing it was done. Sure, it was sad that she couldn't pick out new crayons and whatnot but honestly? They don't keep their own supplies anyway. They go into a community basket and everyone shares so really...I saw it as avoiding problems with a newbie to the world of school not wanting to share "her" stuff? So writing a check was easy!
Thursday, September 01, 2011
She did not disappoint herself. She is rocking the school year!
This morning she bounded out of bed, into the shower and then went to get dressed. In the shower, she had voiced concerns about not being able to wear the jeans she picked out yesterday. I casually just said "That's ok. You can pick something else and try again with the jeans another day." That immediately calmed her down and she finished her shower. She went to get dressed and, amazingly enough, she came out in her jeans!
JEANS JEANS JEANS JEANS!!!!!! Moms who have kids with sensory disorders will understand what a HUGE deal this is. HUGE! Bigger than huge!!
Her excitement was similar to what I will expect when I pull out the outdoor halloween decorations in a few weeks time. So excited!
She couldn't stand the wait for school so with 20 minutes before the bus was due to arrive, she finally talked me into letting her stand out front to wait. She was so silly and giddy! Just look!
And this is how Kelton waited for the bus:
Kelton. He is another story this year. Something seems "off" with him and I am really working hard to figure it out. I'm hoping to get some one on one time with him during the coming long weekend to see if I can get him to open up. Something is bugging him...he just isn't himself. :(