Thursday, December 23, 2004

A stay at home dad

So today my dear husband is the stay at home dad. The schools and preschool are closed, with no daycare options, and plus, he's burned out on his work/school stuff right now.

(I don't know what to call what he does. He does get paid, minimally, but it is school. But he is not taking classes, he's doing research. And there are only 12 grad students at our brand-new university. So whattheheck is it?)

It was weird to leave them all sitting around the breakfast table, contentedly eating their rice krispies. I realized as I walked out to the car--this is what most, or at least many, LDS dads do every day. Family life goes on largely without them. I don't feel so bad when I'm missing out on being at home while my kids are at school. But today I wish I could be there.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

It's pure evil

I'm talking about Christmas treats in the workplace.

In the last week, the reception area of our office has hosted a 5 pound box of See's Candies, a plate of homemade Christmas cookies--Russian teacakes and grape-flavored spritz, a tray of gourmet baklava, and a Portuguese cake with a sort of flan on top of it.

The only way I can control my sugar intake is just to stay the heck away from it. I don't keep treats in my house. Then I would EAT THEM!

Like I'm doing now at the office! Pure evil, I tell you!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Bored at work

So here is what I've figured out.
Sometimes I am bored at work. This is different from the days when I was bored at home, because when I am bored at work I am still getting paid and someone else is watching my kids while I waste time online.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Sick kids

OK, I am discovering that being a WOHM ain't no kinda life when you have sick kids. It bites. Abe has had two sick days this week (cough, then ear infection) and in order to accommodate both Glenn's schedule and mine, we have gone to this ultra killer schedule. Glenn gets up and goes to work at 5. Works until 12. I try to do some work from home (HA!) and go in at 12. Work until 6 while he tries to do some work from home.

Theoretically Glenn is supposed to be the one to take care of sick days since he is the student with the "flexible" schedule. But he is presenting at a major conference next week and just cannot take days off right now.

In the evening we both collapse. Last night I went to bed at 8:30, with a terrible headache and a terrible fear that I am going to get sick. (Feel better today, thank heaven!) That means that for the first time ever I knowingly, purposefully skipped Enrichment. (Sometimes I forget but I have never before just decided not to go!) I just couldn't hack it.

My sick leave is gone from previous doctor appointments, etc. for the kids. If I get sick MYSELF I am screwed.

And did I mention that my inlaws are coming this weekend, my husband will be gone all next week, and there are only 3 weeks left until Christmas? I'm so stressed.

How do you guys handle these kinds of days?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

The guilt thing

OK, here's a topic. The guilt thing and being a working mom.

I don't feel guilty about working. I truly do not. I prayed about taking this job and I am grateful that I can help our family be self-sufficient and move towards our goals.

What I feel guilty about is doing anything besides work. Like last night, I was asked to sing at our city's version of the World AIDS Prayer Vigil. I wanted to do it, and I did it. But when I came home at 7:30 and the kids were in bed and my 3-year-old said, "I misseded you, Mom. I wanted to kiss you and you were gone." Oh, my gosh! Tear my heart out! How could I choose going to sing for HIV and AIDS patients over my own kids?

The same 3yo has started crying when I go to Mutual on Tuesday nights. Insisting that I be the one to read scriptures aloud at night, not Daddy. Occasionally clinging and crying when dropped off at preschool. I do worry that he's not getting enough Mama.

Is it the time to renounce my callings, shut off the things I want to do in town? Is work supposed to be enough? I don't get that feeling from others. Now that I'm working, I think I'm still expected to do all the things I did when I wasn't working. Where is the time?

On the bright side, it's a lot easier to keep the house clean now that we're never home to make a mess.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Welcome to Jamie and liltreefrog

Introducing the rest of the team! Jamie and liltreefrog are some of the smartest, strongest Mo' Mamas I know. Looking forward to your contributions, ladies!

O.k - Giving this a shot!

This is my first try - I'm a total blog virgin, so I'm gonna post this and see if it works!

a place of my own.....

I am giddy about this blog Ana invited us to create with her! My 16 yr old son has had a blog going for about a year now and I have been jealous that he has a place in his life to let his thoughts flow freely.

I am so tired this school year. My assistant teacher and I are counting down the days left until our almost 3 week winter break from the kids in our class. This is a group of kids I am struggling with more than any group of children I have taught. When our state evaluator (I work as a pre-k teacher so we are evaluated every year by the state and our principal) she said that she observed at least "a half dozen kids who seem to present continual behavior challenges in the classroom" I screamed, literally outloud in the front office, "Yikes"! I felt confirmed in some ways, it was not all in my head that these kids are a load. I think there is one child who may have ADHD the rest are just used to having their own way and have never had to share or follow directions before. My parent conferences with their parents were very enlightening ;)

It has been pretty exhausting to come home from this challenging group of 4/5 yr olds to my own children. The other night on the LDS board when I vented about my current struggles with my ADHD/Aspergers daughter several people were quick to memo and post to me saying "be tougher" "you are just not firm enough with her" "If my child said that to me (even with the ADHD diagnosis) I would (fill in the blank)........" Part of me was thinking, "I just wanted to vent, let me be! :-( " another part of me thought, "true, true......" and the bulk of me thought, "I did punish her quite extensively imo but frankly after 10+ yrs of parenting Alex I am pooped out and just need a break!" Adding pre puberty hormones to her already high maintenance personality has just been sooooo exhausting to me emotionally and physically. When I discipline my other two kids for something they have done out of sheer disrespect (like calling me an ugly name) I don't feel the same ache I do when I punish Alex. Her life struggle is so much harder than theirs. I know some of her ugly behavior toward me is just a way to let off steam. I don't condone it and I do follow through and use as many of the tricks I have under my hat but man on man is she the child I *hurt* for...... This morning I had to drive her to school and we were on a tight schedule, as usual she was screaming as we are walking out to the car that she hates all her coats (she has 5 coats, all nice and fairly new) , her life is awful, we have nothing good to eat in our house, people are mean to her, she doesn't understand any school work etc. She threw her backpack on the ground and a project she was bringing to school on the ground. I tossed her stuff in the van and then dragged her to the car (literally) and tossed her in and buckled her up. She screamed bloody murder all the way to school. I dropped her off and told her to go to the bathroom and splash her face with cold water and get some breakfast. I emailed her teachers to let them know what happened in the morning. They emailed back and said they had no clue anything was wrong. She was happy and chatty and doing quite well. Huh????????? I heaved a big sigh and went about my morning not quite knowing how to feel....... This afternoon on our way to her gymnastics lesson I asked her how things went, she said "great!" No memory of this morning that she will admit to :(

We have another appt with the psychiatrist on the 7th and he is sure he will have a referral to a psychologist/therapist by then so we can get support (all of us) on a weekly basis. Crossing my fingers we find "just the right" person easily.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

My ADHD Sweetie After Two Months on Meds

In early September, my 5-year-old son was kicked out of the private kindergarten where I had enrolled him when I re-entered the workforce a couple of months previous. (Memo to me: Private school is not necessarily the solution!) This was a terribly emotional and difficult time. The day before his first day at his new school, he asked why he had to change classes. I told him he was smarter and more special than all those other kids, and they didn't know how to teach him at that school. "I'm not special!" he cried. "I'm just like all the other kids!" We cried together for a long time that night.

The new school was better -- back in the good old public system. After a couple of weeks the new kindergarten teacher sent him for evaluation. Our pediatrician diagnosed him with ADHD, as we expected, and prescribed Adderall XR. I had been hesitant to have the diagnosis made by a regular pediatrician, but in our small town, seeing a specialist would have meant insurance hassles, long drives, and time off work I could not afford to take. We agreed to try the prescription--assuring ourselves that if we didn't like it, we could just stop giving it to him.

Within the first week, his kindergarten teacher said she could see a huge change in him. At home it was rough with sleeplessness and what the doctor called "emotional lability" -- crying and anger -- as the medication wore off in the late afternoon. I thought, What is the point of this? I suffered through the ADHD symptoms during his first 5 years, and now when we finally get some help, all I see are the horrendous side effects!

But with some encouragement from friends and our pediatrician, we stuck it out. The side effects wore off. Things started to improve. After a couple of weeks on meds we realized just how much we have been in survival mode with this wonderful kid for the past couple of years. As my huband put it, there were things that parents would never normally put up with, that we were simply letting go because they were not physically dangerous or extremely destructive. We have been working on the way we expect Sam to treat others, respecting property, being self-sufficient, etc. I feel like the meds have allowed us to address these issues a lot better--finally, we are not too overwhelmed to parent the way we should! It's a great relief to be able to work on this stuff and my son has made great progress.

We eventually decided to use the meds only for structured school days, not weekends or daycare days. So yesterday is his first day back on meds in over a week. Yet we had an awesome Thanksgiving break. Nothing in the house was destroyed, not even the mini tree I made with grandma's antique ornaments on it. I have never dared get those out before. I can only be grateful!

Most of all my son is now, finally, happy with himself. Sure, there are times when he is emotional coming off meds in the afternoon. But we know what to expect and can help him work through those times. The learning he is doing now that he is able to sit and work and pay attention is amazing. He is on the cusp of reading, and it's very exciting and amazing to me how fast he is picking things up! He sits and plays and imagines more than he used to. He does things like making a book all by himself with illustrations and "words" (long strings of letters ... so cute!) or wanting to write a letter to Grandma. He comes home from school with adorable songs of three and four verses, all memorized. This all sounds like ordinary stuff, and I think for kids without ADHD it is normal and everyday, but for us it is new and very exciting.

I have to say, too, that I feel different about my son these days. It's like I can finally get my nose up out of my worries about him and my frustrations with his difficult behaviors, and see consistently and clearly how awesome he is and how much I just adore him. I always loved him, you all know that, but it is just ... nice to feel positive and optimistic about him and proud of him, all the time.

How to host Thanksgiving in two short days

So I'm working, and having submitted my main story for the day I can let my thoughts turn to food. Specifically, Thanksgiving food. I'm having guests for the big meal, which is two days away. So far, all I've done is mix the dip. I have two evenings to finish any advance preparations, evenings meaning from 8:30 - 11:00 PM (after I get home, fix dinner and put kids to bed) which is not a lot. Tonight I will chop vegetables and cube bread for stuffing. Tomorrow, I'll bake pies and mix roll dough. Thankfully (just how we should be at this time of year) my friend Jeannine is bringing the mashed potatoes, since mine always turn out like glue.

Here's the menu:

Raw vegetables, crackers and dip (the dip is done!)
Roast turkey (you rub this with Miracle Whip instead of basting, a fabulous trick)
Bread stuffing with celery, sage and onion
Mashed potatoes by Jeannine
Pan gravy
Cranberry-orange sauce
Out-of-this-World Rolls
Green bean bundles (I HATE that casserole with the fried onions on it)
Yams by Jeannine
Green salad
Cranberry-apple sparkling cider

Pumpkin pie
Dutch apple pie
Steamed pudding with rum-flavored hard sauce

As I finished this list, I got a call from a major paper on a notice I sent out this week. Had to quickly shift gears and retrieve information about arsenic contamination and professors, set up interviews, and get my job done. A great example of how I have to shift gears a lot of the time!

Undercurrents in my brain right now:

Where is my three-year-old going to go tomorrow? The preschool is closed and my friends are out of town.

Must take care of two parking tickets.

Tax bill dug out from a pile of garbage on my desk at home needs immediate attention. Maybe in between cooking tasks tonight.

And so -- welcome to my blog. This is how life works around here!