Sunday, August 30, 2009

do you tell your kids they are different?

Before I get to my post topic, just let me explain that since Bil has gotten a hold of my blog password, he keeps changing my header. I would prefer not to have a picture of myself anywhere on the blog, but he thinks it is cool or cute or something..... I just don't want you all to think I am like Oprah or something, where I need to have my face plastered all over the place!

Anyway, I ran into an acquaintance the other day whose son happens to have SPD. She asked me a very interesting question, which was, whether I tell Danny that he is different and has SPD?

I was surprised by the question because I hadn't given it much thought before. I have never discussed it with Danny because it hasn't really seemed relevant. I don't think he sees himself as different from other kids. Maybe it is because he is young or maybe (fingers crossed) it is because his self-esteem is pretty high. I don't know. Also, I don't think he has really ever seriously been made fun of because of his sensory "issues." And to be honest, I am not sure he would really pick up on it, even if he is teased. Reading social cues is not one of his strengths, one of the many reasons why his therapist and past teacher think we should have him reevaluated for autism.

It did get me to thinking, though, especially now that I am still concerned that Danny has autism (the school social worker and I filled out an Asperger's assessment, and Danny got a really high score on the test).

So, I am wondering how do you handle something like this? Do you make a big deal of the kid's differences? If Danny is diagnosed with some form of autism, when should we tell him? How do you have a conversation like that?

See, my concern is that if we make too big of a deal of his "disorders" that he will see them as an excuse for not trying. Or that he will feel like there is something wrong with him. The way I see it, we all have our weaknesses, our quirks that make our lives more difficult in some ways. On the other hand, I don't want him to feel ashamed of his differences.

What have you done (those of you with kids who have some differences)? Or what would you do in this situation? Please share.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

my get-rich-quick scheme

OK, so I have had a brilliant idea to make a lot of money. I am not sure if it will work, but it's worth a shot, right?

Remember thet teens who tried to sue McDonald's for making them fat? Well, I am thinking I should be able to sue the company Bil works for because his new shift is making me fat. Think about it: I eat when I am stressed, lonely or bored. I now feel all of those emotions much more regularly in the evenings since Bil is gone all night. What other reason would I have for wanting to make brownies just so I can eat all the batter? It has to be his job and the stress I feel because of it, right? It couldn't have anything to do with my PMS, lack of willpower, and addiction to sugar.

And let's not forget my lack of motivation to prepare healthful dinners now that Bil isn't here to eat them with me. Add to that the exhaustion I feel which makes it exceedingly difficult to get off my duff and exercise and you have the recipe for obesity. Who wouldn't be fat with a husband working evenings?

I mean, really, I don't even stand a chance. The least Bil's company could do is pay for Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers for me. Don't you think?

I know there may be a few holes in my theory, like the fact that I was already fat before the company switched Bil's hours. But surely, no one could argue that the shift change is keeping me from losing the weight. That has to be worth a mil or so, doesn't it?

Certainly my case couldn't be any weaker than the guy who burnt his crotch on hot McDonald's coffee, could it? Surely not.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

competition

I stopped by a friend's house to drop off some clothes for her toddler yesterday and came home (yet again) just shaking my head. I have known J for as long as I have lived in this town, which is over 5 years now. And for as long as I have known her, she has competed with me over everything.

And I do mean everything.

She compares everything in her life to my life and if she deems herself as superior in a particular area, she is smug and happy and regales me with unsolicited and usually unhelpful advice. If I happen to "win" the Mommy Bowl , she is pouty and I spend the next several minutes consoling her and minimalizing whatever accomplishment she is envious of.

This is why I don't spend too much time with her anymore.

Still, as I look back, I can't help but laugh over her obsessive comparing/competing.

She has competed over everything from how clean our houses are to how severe our sons' SPD is. She even insisted that she was more depressed than I was, once when I misguidedly shared with her that I was struggling with my mom's cancer. Today, she compared her newborn to Tommy and lorded over me the fact that her son is sleeping through the night, eating more than Tommy, and has more hair than my sweet fat, baldy of a baby.

It doesn't matter. Tommy is WAY cuter than her baby, so who cares?

Kidding. I am totally kidding! Well, mostly....

I did realize yesterday afternoon that as I get older, I am getting a lot less insecure. These types of comparisons would have hurt my feelings years ago, but now, I just don't care. And that feels really, really good. And so liberating. Because as a friend once pointed out to me, comparing oneself to others is always a losing proposition, because it will leave you feeling either superior and prideful or inferior and miserable.

Who needs that?

Monday, August 24, 2009

marital advice I can't seem to master

Yesterday in Sunday School we talked about marriage and how to make ours last. One major piece of advice was to be unselfish. I know this is really important; putting the needs of your partner over your own has to happen at least some of the time. This is also advice that I am seriously struggling with right now.

All I can think of is all the needs I have that aren't being met. I know I can't rely on my husband to meet all my needs, and it is not his fault that most of them aren't being met. But still, instead of thinking of what he needs, all I can think of is how I haven't had a break from the kids in ages. I haven't even had help getting them ready for bed in weeks. Obviously, it is not his fault that he is gone every evening. That is not what I am saying. I guess what I am getting at is that I am totally focused on what I want and need and not really thinking about what he needs. And when I try to think about his needs, I just feel more selfish and resentful, because I don't want to think about one more person's needs right now. I want to think about me, darnit.

So, how do I let go of some of my selfishness, resentment, and irritability so that we can work as a team? How do I focus a bit less on myself, especially when I don't exactly want to do so?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Isn't ok to sometimes complain?

Last night, I was at a church committee meeting and mentioned that I was really having difficulty with Bil's new work schedule. He sleeps in until around 9 or 10 and then leaves for work around 2. I don't get to see him a whole lot because I am busy running errands, cleaning, and trying to keep Charlotte and Tommy out of the house so Bil can sleep or look for a new job.

On top of that, Danny never sees his father at all during the school week. Ever. Bil is sleeping when Danny leaves for school and is gone to work before Danny gets home. Which also means that Bil is not around to help me with Danny's therapy. And I really need someone's help with the therapy. Just keeping Charlotte and Tommy quiet and under control alone is a one-man job. Then, on top of that I need to set up all the equipment, plan the activities and somehow motivate Danny to do the exercises. It exhausts me just to think about it right now.

Anyway, I mentioned the difficulty I am experiencing and I was admonished to just be happy that Bil has a job.

I know the woman is right. And I am grateful that Bil has a job. I know a few people who have lost theirs recently, and I don't envy them their plight.

But, that doesn't lessen the challenges I am facing right now. And that doesn't even take into account that so far this year we have had to take 5 weeks of unpaid vacation. Yes, FIVE weeks. That's 10% of our pay for the year. Bil works for an automotive parts company and their biggest clients happen to be the companies that are doing the worst right now. To save money and jobs, the bosses decided that having forced unpaid vacations would be the best route. And while it is better than layoffs, it was a bit painful to lose that income, especially since we just had a baby.

We are fine. I know we are lucky that we had some money saved that we can use in such emergencies and we had some really interesting blessings happen along the way. I know we are blessed that Bil has a job, and I am grateful for that. Still, things are stressful for us right now and sometimes I need to express that or I will explode.

I know we will be ok, so maybe I should keep my concerns to myself. Maybe I will just save them for the blog, since people can choose to read or not to read, but at least I will have some outlet. Hopefully, I won't get tons of comments telling me to buck up and quit whining. Because I happen to be really good at whining and I don't think I can completely go cold turkey.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Adventures in Babysitting, gangbanger style


The babysitting stint is almost over and I feel like Elizabeth Shue's character in "Adventures in Babysitting" when she took on the gangbanger in the subway and said, "Don't %$#@ with the babysitter!" The difference is I am not taking on a gangbanger, just 5 kids under 7, two of whom have SPD (oh, didn't I mention that? Yeah, Danny and my nephew BOTH have SPD, along with a host of other developmental delays), an African water frog, and a ferocious kitten (Sam may be adorable, but I have bite marks all over my ankles from this feral kitty).

Personally, I think Shue had it easy when sparring with a knife wielding gangster. I almost envy her.

Seriously.

Because those Chicago gangs? Yeah, they could learn a few things about turf warfare and territory rivalry, not to mention sheer determination from my 5 charges. These kids are more territorial than a pack of Red-bellied Lemurs.

My long weekend has been lived to the soundtrack of "That's Mine," "I had that First," "You Can't Have That," and my personal favorite "She's Looking at/Talking To Me."

I cannot believe the things they have fought over. There's the typical: Leapsters and other electronic devices, books and fun toys. And there are the toys that are so plentiful, we could be in a toystore (like the Legos) yet they still wrestle over the particular yellow rectangle that one kid has, despite there being a pile of identical ones right there on the floor. And then, there is the downright ridiculous: at one point Danny and his cousin were fighting over a piece of paper.

Yep, paper. And not even some cool paper, but a little scrap of dogeared, crusty paper.

And though it sounds extreme, the reason I envy Shue's movie character is that at least she had
some instinct on how to deal with the situation. Me? Not so much.

I have tried time-outs for the kids, time-outs for the toys, even a time-out for me, along with reasoning, (hey, at that point I was desperate) distracting the kids, bribes, threats, and of course, my old standby, screaming. And really, though the fighting has decreased, I don't think it was due to any of my strategies.

OK, gotta run. All the kids are awake. The day is starting already. Not sure if I am mentally prepared, but I guess I have no choice. The battle awaits.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I miss my family.



Bil here. I need to do something to feel better...my soul is going through a long dark night/week; I am depressed, drained, devoid and dumb. Dumb that I ever agreed to work a shift during the same hours when I usually sleep. I have whiplash from slapping myself in the face the whole commute home as the sun burns bright holes into my vision. I remember this feeling from when I worked the same shift at an all night record store and when I worked craft services for Warner Bros (20 hour days) I would have given anything to be able to shut my eyes to the impending day on the trip home. I remember repeatedly snapping to rapt attention, wondering just how long I'd been unconscious. I can't do this to myself anymore, this is no way to support a family.

I feel like everyone is counting on me to make the most of this week, but I'm really coming up short...I had another 'emergency' at work this morning to deal with after a long night, I stayed as long as I could possibly endure to assist the issue and then I *ran* for the door when no one was looking. Enduring the jerky ritual to get home so I could take a job assessment test that was waiting for me the minute I crawled in the door. I really did the best I could, but after looking over my submission with a few more hours sleep under my belt, I begin fear that my best effort this morning wouldn't have impressed my own mother. What a waste.

Luck would have it, I am a far lighter sleeper when the sun is out. The phone is constantly ringing, I should have guessed it would be a telemarketer again, but I'm so nervous I'm going to miss an important job opportunity if I don't pick up... Hence, I'm an ugly ball of exhaustion and anxiety.

Danny, I try to remember that this isn't about me, son...it's about you. I'm tired of giving you the short end of the stick when it comes to the therapy you need. I'm sorry I haven't been better about giving you the attention you need. I really want to do anything I can to help you.

Patty, I realize that here I am whining to an electronic emotion receptable all alone, and just how pathetic it is. I know you would have made more of your time being alone than I have with mine...I miss you so much, I feel like we're both in extremis, in that we need each other and don't have each other to lean on like we normally do. I love you and yet I don't deserve you. I don't know what life would hold for me if I didn't have you with me to share it. I MISS YOU. My obligations to you and the kids are happy ones, unlike the ones I'm chained to at the moment. Admittedly, who can endure it? Struggling to paint my career skills in trendy pastel colors when inside I feel like I couldn't find my finer points with a magnifying glass? Thinking about being a good and reliable husband to you, and helping Danny is all that is keeping me going. Sorry if this post bums you out, I lost my inhibitions somewhere around Tuesday.

Oh yeah, I changed your title picture to something that happily reminds me of your achievements in Hong Kong, (only this is a picture of Taipei). I remember your stories of your struggles with the language and the lonely nature of mission work. I never went on a mission, but like Kirk says, "You will feel your highest highs and your lowest lows." This too shall pass.

Even the rhyming caption cheers me up: "Thinly Fried Cakes, All Mistakes."

I love you, Patty, and I'm sorry this week has gone so miserably. I wish you luck with the children this week, I really would give anything to be with you instead of being here.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Lunch Money and Neutral Milk Hotel: Separated at Birth?

Not to try the patience of you loyal pancakers, this is Bil...I was just remembering a really fun photo collection called "separated at birth", which juxtaposes two very similar photos, even though they might be Kurt Kobain and Kermit the Frog.
(Yes, this is our second post about Lunch Money, we are obviously big fans, and don't need any provocation to say as much...you haven't heard the last of it.)

Exhibit A: Ahh--For the love of vinyl...



Exhibit B: The ultrafun, cannot-be-missed live show...the Lunch Money Travelling Orchestra will haunt your daydreams!






Exhibit C: Drum-head woman, meet Cookie-head woman....



...a parting thought that Photoshop has put way too much guesswork into reality....



--Love, B1L

making preparations

So, I leave tomorrow for Chicago and then make my way to the suburbs on Wed. so that I can babysit my niece and nephew. I will have charge of 5 kids for a whole week.

So, what do you think I should do to prepare? Any ideas? I'm wondering if there is anything special I need to pack, besides some Advil and perhaps some ear plugs. My sister is leaving me some Xanax*, so pharmaceutically, I'm good to go.

So, yeah, to all those moms who are really skilled at keeping kids busy and preventing fights, or even just caring for multiple kids without leaving lasting physical or emotional scars (on yourself or the kids) please give me any advice you may have. I feel like I am going off to battle with no weapons.

Hmmm.....maybe that is a bad analogy.


Note: I have never taken Xanax and am way too chicken to take other people's prescriptions, but it's somehow comforting to know it is there, nonetheless.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

editing fiascos or how I can sometimes be neurotic



We have a little newsletter at church for the women that's filled with all the news, recipes and birthdays for the month. As I happen to be in charge of what we call the Home, Personal, and Family Enrichment Meetings (yeah, say that one fast a few times), I get to write up the little blurbs for said meetings each month.

No problem, it takes me just a few minutes to whip up some cleverly worded paragraph enticing the women to attend a meeting about how to make beans palatable to the whole family. Well, at least I try to make them clever.

Anyway, I digress. Though I know I am not the best writer in the world, I do try to get my grammar, punctuation, wording, and syntax correct. I have always admitted to you guys that I am a complete nerd, and these are things I get a kick out of. It drives me nuts to see grammar and punctuation mistakes in ads or on signs of businesses. I groan every time I read our local newspaper and catch yet another error.

I know this is not a big deal, but it turns out that the new woman in charge of getting the newsletter together has been editing my passages each month. At first, I assumed she was just rewriting them because she didn't know how to cut and paste. She is not very experienced on the computer and has been struggling with the newsletter.

So, like I said, I disovered today that she DOES copy and paste the blurbs I email her. What's the big deal? you may ask. Well, every month I find mistakes in my articles. Big mistakes. Like mistakes most people will catch. And they are not mistakes that I have written. They are mistakes that T has edited into my little paragraphs.

This is where my pride rears its ugly head. As silly as this sounds, I don't want people to read my stuff and see all these mistakes that I would never make. And I especially don't want people to think I made those mistakes. But, I know this is not an important issue. I am not about to offend her because I want to show that I am right and she is wrong. So not worth it. And as I said, I know this is not important. It's more my problem than hers. I just need to let it go. I need to turn a blind eye to the excessive exclamation marks and unnecessary quotation marks, to say nothing of the improper usage of apostrophes.

I guess I will just have to swallow my pride.

And continue answering questions like, "So, who's the celebrity that will be at our lunch next month?"

Yeah, that was supposed to be "celebratory," not "celebrity."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Monday Mumbers

16 days, 18 hours until school starts, but who's counting, right?

11 The number minutes of Bil has been gone since leaving for his night at work.

307 number of times Charlotte has screamed that Danny touched her, looked at her, hit her, since Bil has left. I don't think he has actually touched her at all, but I can't prove it. I think I need to separate them during nap time.

4 hours, 40 minutes until I can reasonably put the kids to bed. This may be a very long afternoon and evening. And I get to do it all alone. Have I mentioned that Bil is working nights now, indefinitely? Which means I will have to bathe, brush teeth, feed dinner, read bedtime books, discipline, etc, with no help at all. None. But, I am not going to dwell on that. No, instead, I am going to think of all the positive aspects of Bil working nights....

Um.....
Hmmm.....
Well, he has a job. I should be grateful for that, right?
OK, well, that's enough of looking on the bright side for now.

5 the number of days that I will be sole caregiver to 5 children under the age of 8. Next Thursday, I will have taken up residence at my sister's suburban home, while she and her husband traipse off to the Cayman Islands for a wedding. I volunteered to take care of her kids back in May when we all got the invitations to my cousin's wedding. My sister is particularly close with this cousin and I knew she would really want to go. I also knew the biggest obstacle in her way was child care. As I already stay home with kids, I didn't hesitate to volunteer.

All summer I have been completely confident in my ability to manage five kids for a long weekend. Everyone I knew asked me questions like, "Are you crazy?" "How are you going to handle 5 kids?" "You are so going to be ready for a padded room after that week, you know that, right?"

I have to say I was slightly offended at people's lack of faith in me. How hard could it be? I thought. I mean, what's two more kids, right?

Well, that was before this past weekend when my family and I stayed at my sister's house when we came to town for my brother's wedding. After spending less than 36 hours in the company of 5 kids under the age of 8, I am now terrified for this upcoming week and am seriously doubting my judgement in volunteering my services. At one point this weekend, my niece was rollerskating in the house and running over anyone in her way, my nephew was playing video games with loud noises, Tommy was crying and my other two were playing with every toy that beeped or talked in the house and my eyes started twitching.

I don't do noise well.

This should be a very interesting week.