Tuesday, October 27, 2009

End of October = Crazy time!

I am having a "bad mommy" moment today. I am finally admitting to myself that I have absolutely no idea what is going on with our family's schedule for the next few weeks. Whenever I think about it, my mind gets enveloped by a foggy haze. I hear the soft echo, "You have lots to do... you have lots to do..." I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around these things.

My dad is coming this weekend. It will be his first trip to our new home/town, so I want to be sure he gets a good feel for our new life here.

And it's Halloween. Kids costumes are pretty close to done, I just need to make B's firefighter pants. There are multiple Halloween events going on that I'd like to take the kids to.

Dad stuff... Halloween stuff... B's 2nd birthday is next Monday! It hasn't snuck up on me, but I feel woefully unprepared.

B doesn't really have any "friends" his age here - not the way L did when she turned 2 back in Oregon. It makes thinking about a party a little difficult. No toddlers he has shown a special interest in, and not a big fan of having lots of adults around. I think we are going to do cake with my dad, and then later next week cake with my mom and Aunt. I actually have a made a very general plan about the cake! B loves cars and trucks, so I am going to make him a car cupcake cake. Maybe get some balloons? It's uninspired and I feel like I need to do more, even though the sane part of my brain knows that he has no idea it is his birthday or that he is *supposed* to have a raucous kid party.

So, Dad's visit... Halloween... B's birthday...

I feel like the accomplishment is actually remembering all of these events to realize that I am only "doing them" about half way. Maybe next year I will feel more confident.

Friday, October 23, 2009

I'd prefer sunshine and puppy dogs

What is up with reality shows showing people "almost die" on television? I am not a fan. Last night on Survivor, we had to watch Russell, blindfolded for a challenge, slowly slump down face first on to a big wooden maze board and then fall to the ground. Only, he didn't fall to the ground because his shirt caught on the handle of the maze, so instead he dangled, limp, blindfolded in mid-air. And then, of course, time passed before anyone actually noticed and helped him. No one noticed, but there is apparently plenty of up close footage. When my nausea finally passed from seeing this, he passes out again, only this time his eyes are OPEN and it really looks like he is dead. Thank you, CBS. [Apparently this incident was previewed on the commercial for this week's Survivor, but since I don't watch that much TV, I never saw it, so didn't know what was coming.]

Last night's Survivor wasn't the first time the viewing public was shown footage of a reality show contestant in the middle of a shocking, scary health crisis. On the first episode of this season's The Biggest Loser, crazy-eye face making Tracey (who still seemed normal at that point), collapsed at the end of a 1 mile run/walk along the beach. Similar thing. Started the mile looking fine, but by the end was gray with purple lips, muttering to herself and she clawed across the sand before passing out face first into the ground. Unresponsive, glassy eyed.

I understand the "shocking" nature of this footage and why it might be considered engrossing television. There is also part of my mind that tells me, "The person won't die. They wouldn't be showing this if the person actually died. I would have heard on the news weeks ago if someone had died on this show." But, still, I am not into it. I don't want to watch people passing out, looking near death, on tv. I have enough to stress out about.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Box of disorganization

I am one of those strange people that actually really enjoys doing mundane paperwork tasks. I actually enjoy filing and organizing, grading worksheets, stapling and hole punching. You wouldn't know it if you walked into our office today. (Or, any day, really!)

We have a crate in the office that I am going to lovingly refer to as the "red box of disorganization".  There the crate sits, right next to our large filing cabinet. Inside: an astounding combination of necessary, important and/or sentimental documents. No organization, no order.

The original purpose of the red crate was supposed to be that we put receipts, bills, paperwork we need to keep into the red crate and then on Tuesdays when I pay bills, I can also file that paperwork in the filing cabinet. Instead, I throw papers in there and forget them. Or I take something out of the filing cabinet when I need it and then, instead of putting it away when I'm done, I toss it into the crate. So now the crate is completely full of all kinds of things: greeting cards and letters, medication receipts, our dog's vet records, copies of car repair bills, etc.

The sad thing is, if I just kept on top of the papers in the crate, it would probably take me 5-10 minutes a week to get those things filed and then we'd be able to access them easily. Instead, I haven't filed them since we moved here at the end of June! So, 5-10 minutes a week for about 15 weeks =... A LOT OF FILING!

Eric is gone this week, so my goal is to get all of those papers filed before he gets back Thursday night. We'll see if I can do it.

Update on my goal from a few weeks ago: A couple of people have asked whether my kitchen counter has remained uncluttered. For the most part, the answer is yes. The hiccup is that now that the counter is clear, L likes to sit there and color, so now there is a coloring book, notebook and big box of crayons that seem to have made their permanent home there. Not complaining - it's better than clutter and a good place for her to sit and color, especially while I'm cooking.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

My daughter is three and a half years old, extremely smart and has an aptitude for music. She learns song lyrics and melodies quickly, and three different people with varied musical backgrounds have complimented her pitch. If someone plays her a melody, she can sing it.

She is not, however, very creative. This is something that has been clear since she was much younger. She is very literal and tends towards perfectionism. In the past she has avoided coloring or drawing because she "can't color like ____" or "can't draw as good as Daddy".

I tend to be hard on myself and my parenting about this. Have Eric and I, both type A people, nurtured our first born into a perfectionistic, type A three year old? I don't think so. Since it was obvious early on how hard she can be on ourselves, Eric and I both try to stress the importance of trying, not giving up, and just doing the best we can. I don't think we're completely "without fault", I'm sure she sees that I am hard on myself and absorbs that too. But I do not insist on perfection.

One of the more obvious examples of L's tendencies is that though she colors and paints, she greatly prefers stickers, play-doh and other crafts. She has started coloring and painting more lately, but often when she colors she actually spends the time trying to write letters and numbers or tracing her hands and feet.

Another example was our experience with potty training. L potty trained quickly, just after her second birthday. She was probably physically ready prior to that time, but resisted. Once we switched to panties, when she became interested and asked to try them, she was extremely hard on herself about accidents. She didn't want panties because she didn't want to have an accident. She was afraid to try panties for naps (6 or so months later) because she was scared she would have an accident in her bed. She actually had very few accidents after her second or third day in panties, in part because we had a period of time where she basically willed herself not to go to the bathroom at all because she was scared of having an accident.

I have often thought about this aspect of L's personality. Do I read too much into this? After all, she is clearly musical (though, despite her love for melodies and singing, she does not particularly enjoy dancing), and music is an art, so she can't be entirely without artistic "brain-i-ness", right?

Today her teacher talked to me after class about a fun play time the kids had. It was "Game Day" and one of the fun activities they did was free play with helium balloons. The teacher told me that she noticed L holding her balloon and standing off to the side, looking withdrawn, as the other kids threw their balloons, hit and kicked them, ran around the room after them, etc. When the teacher asked her how she was doing, L's serious reply was, "I don't know how to do this."

At first, I laughed because L has always loved balloons -- our weekly grocery shopping trip was frequently filled with shouts of glee seeing the character balloons hanging above the checkout, and one year for her birthday she got multiple balloons because friends and family knew how much she liked them. We have even played the "throw it in the air and chase it" game with balloons and balls at home. But, with a moments thought, it made me wonder if it was the lack of "rules" or directions. If you give her a balloon and tell her to use it, she gets stumped.

Lack of creativity? Fear of "doing it wrong"?

Her brother, on the other hand, is definitely a "give him a toy and he'll spend all day figuring out different things to do with it" kid. They are very dissimilar in that way. He's constantly turning over toys to explore them from the opposite view, using a bucket as a hat or chair, using a chair as a slide, driving the upside down plastic shopping cart like it is a car.

It is interesting to see these kinds of traits in the kids. And easy for me to worry about them. Should I be doing something to encourage L to be more creative? Should I be pushing her outside her comfort zone more so that she isn't as afraid to "do it wrong"? It will be interesting to see, as she grows up, how we see her personality develop and these characteristics play themselves out in her.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dear City of Kennewick,

I am tired of waiting for you to fix our yard and driveway after the city water main break that occured 2 weeks after we moved in to our new house. Do you realize it has been 3 months since that happened? And 2 months since we filed our claim? And 1 month since your claims adjuster told me we'd be receiving a letter "within the next week" updating us on what is going on - a letter we have never received?

Frankly, I do not care if it was the city's fault, or the fault of the contractor who installed the water main. I care that half of our front yard looks like a disaster zone, half of our driveway has settled, there is a boulder holding up our air conditioning pad, our fence has settled and is basically inoperable, there is a stray dog that comes into our backyard through the area where the dirt and rocks were displaced, and there is an island of dirt, silt and rocks in the middle of our backyard.

I am seriously considering the option of hiring an attorney. I have no doubt that the suit we file would result in our property being fixed. The plus side to having this happen only 2 weeks after we moved in is that I have a beautiful binder full of photos and descriptions written by a 3rd party home inspector that I have never met. No room for excuses - it's pretty obvious what happened.

Did I mention I have pictures?

City people, I appreciate that you have been very "friendly" and courteous on the occasions that we have spoken, but really, enough is enough. Don't you think it's about time we get this taken care of? At the very least, cut us a check so that we can call the contractors we consulted for estimates and let us take care of getting things fixed ourselves. I would rather not deal with the hassles of attorneys. But, we are not going to pay for our yard and driveway to be fixed out of our own pocket either.

You know how to get in touch with us.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Little Man Feels My Pain

Today I got my influenza shot. I am not "sold" on them and wrestled back and forth about whether to get one, but today I decided it might be a good idea since Eric is a school principal and L is in preschool. We may see more germs this year than in years past.

The flu shot line was not very long - we were 4th in line when we got there. I had Little Man in a shopping cart so I wouldn't have to try to fill out my paperwork, stand in line AND chance him around the store. L was a great helper. She held my papers after I finished filling them out.

Little Man was extremely patient, despite the fact that he has come into his own in the "terrible twos" department. That is another story for another time. The short version is that while his sister's "twos" was filled with stubbornness and arguing, Little Man's has, so far, been full of whining, feet stomping and crying at the drop of the hat. He has always been a "momma's boy", but we're getting into some other category beyond that. Is there a name for such a state?

So, back to the flu shot story, Little Man was hanging out in a shopping cart while the nurse was completing her record keeping. He seemed perfectly content. And then... out comes the vial and needle, and Little Man absolutely lost his mind. Crying with big crocodile tears, begging for me to hold him, flailing around in the cart.

At first I thought he was scared of the needle for himself, but after a minute, I realized that he was actually scared that the nurse was going to hurt me! I tried to calm him, while also relaxing my upper arm and keeping it on the table so I could get my shot. It was a helpless minute. I felt, and feel, really bad that he got so upset. He is a sensitive little guy. And today I learned that he's not only sensitive about himself, but also his Mommy. What a sweetheart!

Not to forget L, she sat next to me on my chair and held my non-shot arm's hand so that I "can be very, very brave". I love my babies!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

One of the hardest things, for me, about being a stay at home mom is not stressing out about money. I am the "money manager", and have been since Eric and I got married. It was an obvious designation. I am much more detail oriented. Of course, when I took over the bill paying role, Eric and I had equal incomes and we were sharing purchasing decisions more evenly.

Now, I am home with the kids and not bringing in any income into the house. But I spend most of our money - bills, groceries, L's preschool tuition, household and child needs, etc. And I write all the checks sending money out of our house.

I never really considered how much that might stress me out.

I readily admit, I have problems with trying to control things too much. I control the checkbook, to an extent, but not the money that goes into the bank. I carry the worry of stretching the money Eric makes to cover our expenses. Eric is aware of our financial situation, but he doesn't "feel" it as much as if he were writing the checks and writing those numbers into our checkbook on a weekly basis.

I bet there are other stay at home moms who have the same stress.

The good news is that I do know that, in actuality, God is providing for us. That money in our bank account has been provided by Him. We have been a single income family for three and a half years now and for three and a half years, the numbers "don't add up". Looking at numbers, there is no way I should be staying home. And yet, here I am. In times of anxiety (and at the end of the month!), I continually remind myself of these facts. God is providing for us, and I should not worry about the details. (And yet, I still struggle with this.)

Phillipians 4:19: "For God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Jesus Christ."

Matthew 6:25-27 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?"

Sunday, October 4, 2009

October 2009 Picture

Eric's Aunt Arlene found this somewhere and posted it on her blog.

"Many scrapbookers knew Aleida Franklin. She was a wonderful wife and mother and a brilliant artist. I didn't know Aleida personally, but she taught me something I will never forget.She emailed me last year to tell me she loved my blog and to ask if I liked my short hair-cut. This lead to a series of emails which eventually led me to remark that I really loved how often she posted pictures of herself with her children on her blog. And she replied to me, "Have you ever seen a photograph of your own mother and thought to yourself how fat she looked? Or how she wasn't wearing make-up? Or wasn't dressed in a glamorous outfit?" Of course my answer was no. She then responded with saying that she made it a goal to take a picture of herself with her children at least once every month. And that to use excuses about how we look, as women, is ridiculous, since our children will never care what we looked like, but only that we had physical evidence of the bond between mother and child. Aleida tragically and unexpectedly passed away in an auto accident in September of 2008, leaving 2 small children and a grieving husband. After she passed I thought of how those children must feel to have those precious photographs. I have made it my personal goal to follow her wise suggestion and I try to take photos of myself with my children....double chins, make-up free, bed-head and all. I invite Mothers everywhere to take Aleida's Challenge. To photograph yourself with your children each and every month."

It got me thinking about pictures I have of me and the kids. There aren't many. I tend to be the family photographer. But I do have these kinds of thoughts when I take pictures of my kids or our family: someday in the future both of our kids will look at these pictures and their memories will be enhanced. They won't really remember these days, but hopefully they will love looking at the pictures. And in some cases, seeing the pictures may actually become the memory of the event.

I asked Eric to take a picture of us a couple of days ago, but then they got uploaded to who-knows-where on our computer. This weekend we took our annual trip to Mountain View Orchards and the Fruit Loop in the Hood River. Eric took a really nice picture of me with the kids while we were there. It will be my October picture.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

When Healthy Isn't Healthy

I haven't "been myself" since Little Man was born. Crabby, achy and primarily just really, really tired. Exhausted to the point of forgetfulness, moodiness, short temperedness (if that is a word). I was sleeping 10 hours a night, fitfully, but waking up just as tired, or more tired, than when I went to sleep. I heard echoes of other moms saying, "Once you have kids, you'll be tired for the rest of your life." Tired for the rest of your life.... for the rest of your life.... for the rest of your life....

Is there anything more depressing than that? "Knowing" that even as a "healthy" mom in my early 30s, I would NEVER feel rested or "like myself" again?

So I called my doctor and made an appointment two weeks ago. Of course, being a mom and someone who tries, sometimes desperately, to succeed and not admit defeat, I waited until my exhaustion was to the point that I was only managing to be with it enough to care for my kids and household by dosing myself up with Pepsi, and I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Luckily, Eric was still speaking to me, but he was also encouraging me to call someone.

My doctor was fairly certain my bloodwork would indicate Hypothyroidism. I have had many of the symptoms in the last 2 years: fatigue, small weight gain, cold intolerance, joint and muscle pain, depression.
Two days later, my thyroid tests and a host of others -- 8 vials worth of blood -- came back pretty much normal.

It turns out I am a healthy 31 year old!  Vitamin D deficient. Oh yeah, and apparently I am hormonally imbalanced! Physically healthy, brain health -- not so much. It turns out my brain is only "half full" of progesterone and something wacky is going on with my cortisol.

I told my friend, Shelly, "When I write my memoir, it is going to be called, 'They Thought I Had a Thyroid Problem, But It Turns Out I'm Just Crazy'." At the very least, it would make a good country music song, I think.

I'm writing about this now because I am encouraged that I am actually feeling better, and it's happening without serious drug interventions. I'm on a host of vitamin suppliments. Let's just say there isn't a "Day by Day" pill holder large enough for my twice daily vitamin regimen. But, nothing wacky -- Vitamin D, Calcium, Zinc, Probiotics, Fish Oil. I'm also, for the short term, on a sleeping pill to help me make up for 2 years of exhaustion.

But, the big change? The thing I think is helping the most? I've pretty much cut all refined sugar and white flour out of my diet. That's right. No pop, lemonade, juice. No ice cream, cookies, or candy. No bread, rice or pasta unless it's whole grain. And, to top it off, lean meats only. My doctor told me: "Red meat should be limited to once or twice a month."

Did you know that sugar and white flour actually rob your body of iodine and other vitamins, which can cause "hypothyroid"-like symptoms in some people?

Here are the surprising things that I have discovered in the last 10 days of eating this way and taking my suppliments:

1) It actually isn't as hard as it seems! I am the opposite of a scientific minded person. My "science mind" is that of a 2nd grader, so I don't know details here, but apparently not eating those sugars and refined carbs has balanced my blood sugar so I don't even WANT those things! I am actually hungry for healthy foods! Which leads to number 2...

2) With ease, I have gone from being a habitual snacker and occasional craver to a person who... wait for it... eats when I'm hungry! That is a big deal!

3) I feel better about myself, my body, my mind. End of story... I feel better.

I feel better!

I am trying to look at this new way I am eating as something other than a "diet". There is no weight loss goal (though I wouldn't be surprised if I drop the 10lbs or so I've been hanging on to since my kids were born).  There isn't deprivation. This is a conscious choice I am making for my health, and feeling results after 10 days sure reinforces that choice.

I am sharing this story for a reason. Definitely not to laud my diagnosis - it's kind of embarassing, frankly - but because I know lots of other moms (and people who aren't currently moms of young children) who feel tired, run down, moody, achy and/or just downright gross. If that is you, maybe you should give "no sugar and white carbs, limited red meat" a chance and see how you feel.