Thursday, March 27, 2014

It Is What It Is, We Are Who We Are

Just like books fall into my lap that seem to speak to my mood and state of life, so go blogs/essays. This one seems to follow my life in so many degrees. Hard Alphabet

Right now I am stressed to the gills. What is your sign that you are ridiculously stressed? For me it feels like there are bees buzzing under my skin. I am irrational  and overwhelmed and I am sure it is just rolling off of me. I have a student who feeds off of other people's stress levels. Needless to say, he and I have had a rip roaring week.

The thing is I am an "alphabet person" (see above essay) who grew up with an "alphabet family" who chose to work in an "alphabet setting" and managed to create yet another "alphabet family."  However, I am not alone. I have been more and more honest about who I am and who my family is (much to the delight of my reclusive husband). We are who we are.

This week, people have expressed frustration about one student or another. All I could think in my head is "He is who he is. We are surprised he did this because?" I know that my students are giving me their best (most of the time) and can be so patient with them. I need to have that same patience with my child and myself.

I still haven't figured out how to do it all. How do I teach with insane extreme rigorous requirements and be team lead and do advisory councils and volunteer and help Lily. Lily failed another test. I forgot about it and did not study with her. I feel awful and like I let her down. I ripped into Rob about helping me. Now that I am a little calmer and have been reminded that I am not alone, I realize that it is one test. She was so disappointed. I reminded her that school is a roller coaster, up and down, down and up. It is what it is. We do the best we can and when that isn't enough, we just try again.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

On the Edge of Your Seats?

Are you waiting for the latest update? It seems that the thing of the day is pink eye or some sort of weird eye allergy. I totally forgot how between the ages of 8 and 9 Caroline's body totally revolted against her and she was a walking disaster (she just reminded me of this last night). It seems Lily is following right along behind her. She came home with a red swollen eye. She thinks she fell, but she isn't sure. Now it is swollen and more red. She still has the scrape on her cheek from a few weeks ago. Couple that with the fact that she insists on wearing leggings with the waist rolled down so the tag sticks out like a tail (apparently, it is more comfortable this way) and her favorite slightly too small shirt. But, at least she was dressed, out of the house, and reasonably happy. I saw one of my former students at our school carnival (she is also in third grade and just as unique as Lily). She was sporting faded leopard leggings (clearly a favorite) and a cat shirt. I complimented her on matching leopard print with cats. Her face lit up! Who cares if kids' outfits are a little odd. They are dressed, right?

Before the carnival we spent the morning trying to figure out which dress Caroline should wear. Last night we found out that before the Quincenera, she would be going to mass. That ruled out the short tight strapless dress her friend lent her. After violin, it was carnival time.The carnival went well. It is much easier to take Lily places when it is just the two of us. The funniest part was the look Lily gave me every time someone asked if she was feeling better. I think she is catching on to the fact that she is my favorite Facebook and blog subject. After the carnival we went to the pet store to get a new fish. We got great fish advice. Hopefully, the third time is the charm.

Well tomorrow, we are off to the clinic to get her eye looked at and hopefully have time for the movies and grocery store. 

Friday, March 21, 2014

And Away We Go

I spent a half an hour looking up Beta fish facts. I had a plan in mind. I was going to fix everything in the morning. But the darn fish died anyway. I woke up this morning, looked in the tank, and well you can picture the rest. He came with a 30 day guarantee, and I wasn't sure if I needed evidence so, I scooped him up with a teaspoon, put him in a container, and hid him in my closet. I needed to get Lily up and dressed. That is normally hard enough, throw in taking medicine, and well, dead fish wasn't going to work. I decided to wait and tell her after school. It took a lot of fandangling to get her out of bed and dressed. It also took a lot of me running up and down the hall and redirecting her so she wouldn't notice the fish wasn't in his tank. By the time we reached the medicine stage I was a ball of frustrated sweat. We had to leave in 2 minutes so I did what I had to: bribery. I offered her two chocolates if she would just take the medicine. In the course of a half an hour, I'd broken two laws of parenting: I'd withheld the truth from my child and bribed her with sweets.

We made it out the door on time, and despite the traffic caused by an accident, I made it to school on time. I had to brag and joke about my skills as a single mother. I paid for this by spending my day dealing with students sneaking gum, losing coats on purpose, bending forks during lunch, and general tomfoolery. I have the world sweetest class who over night turned into total goofballs.

Well, on to busy day tomorrow. Caroline is going to Cristhian's cousin's Quincenera, Lily has violin, Lily and I are working at my school carnival, and then we get to go to the pet store, dry cleaners, and grocery store. Never a dull moment.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines

Brace yourselves, Rob is out of town! I have long held with the theory that the appliances have a secret meeting and decide which one will break in which God-awful manner while he is gone. Some time in the past few years, they started inviting germs to the party, so they could decide which nasty illness would infect my youngest child while I am mopping up flooded water, jumping the car, reprogramming the TV etc.

This time, the minute he gave me the dates, I wrote sub plans. Better safe than sorry, right? The more prepared I am the less likely things will go wrong, right? Right? Wrong! This time we got the pre-game show. The weekend before he left, Lily spent the weekend with a sore throat and fever. On Monday we had more snow (enough already!). By then her fever was gone, and she seemed fine. I picked her up from school on Tuesday. As we were walking to the car, she looked at me "Bad news, my throat still hurts." Inside my head a hear a chorus of "Shit, shit, shit!" I got out to the car and decided that I'd take her to the clinic just to rule out strep. She couldn't possibly have strep. I went to start the car and "click, click, click, nothing." Now the chorus in my head is yelling "Shit, damn, shit, damn!" A nice man came over and looked at my car. It seems the person who put the battery in lost one of the bolts. When the battery first started dying, Rob and I came up with all the sorts of reasons two intellectuals with no knowledge of how an engine works would consider (anti theft device was the top one). Missing bolt did not even make our grand list.  He got the car running and we were off to the clinic.

I stood in the clinic with the voice in my head chanting "It's nothing, it's nothing. How many times have you come here convinced it was strep and it was nothing?" as I watched the test strip turn bright pink. "Oh yeah, it's strep" the nurse said "You poor baby your throat must really hurt." Yup and her mom is a neglectful nincompoop.

I used the sub plans to take yesterday off and stay home with Lily and get the car fixed. Rob couldn't stay home because he had meetings to prepare for the meeting that he was having with very important people on his trip.

The car was an easy fix. The auto shop put on a new bolt for free (probably, because they felt sorry for the woman who would spend her life with someone who would lose the bolt to a battery). Lily felt fine and was the least sick acting child in America. We have had a total of 13 snow days this year, so I have more than relaxed. I decided to use yesterday to preemptively fix anything else that might break while Rob is gone. I finally got the new filter for the turtle tank working and hooked up the heater for the fish tank. I took apart the vacuum and cleared all the clogged up dog/girl hair. I put away every stinking snowman because no matter what the weather says it will not and cannot snow next week! I need to do my part to prevent that. Now, all that is left is wrap the girls, the pet, and all of the appliances in bubble wrap. We will all just sit here quietly until Rob gets back on Tuesday.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Spring Forward

I need to go to bed because I need to be up and moving for a 7am dentist appointment (it seemed like a good idea when I scheduled it), so instead I am up blogging. My mind is whirling and maybe if I dump enough stuff out, I can sleep (although the dog makes that hard. Ever since the time change she wakes me up at 12:30 am, not sure why).

I am moving forward into spring with baby steps. I've tackled three 15 min projects: clean the top of my desk, put some of the dishes and boxes of girl scout cookies littering the dining room table away (it was hard to stop at 15 minutes, but I did), and organize Lily's sock drawer (also known as the place where stickers, band aid wrappers, hair clips, rubber bands, and small toys go to die).

I finally decided to call and make an appointment with a doctor to look at testing Lily for ADD. Well, actually, I called, and they'll call me back to make the appointment. Worst case: they tell me I'm over reacting and need to be tougher on her. Best case: I get an answer. Right now, she is miserable and we are miserable. I kept hoping for a change, and there have been some. Her grades are improving by small increments. She still just seems so overwhelmed in the world, and when Lily is overwhelmed it is not pretty. I shared some of what has been going on with a good friend of mine who has ADHD (actually, she is the poster child for ADHD). I was at my wits end and so frustrated and my friend looks at me and says "It's simple. She can't make a decision. Do you know how hard it can be to make a decision?" Dammit, I know these things! I have helped countless parents with children and yet can't see it with my own. Of course that's why she changes clothes 3-4 times. She can't decide. I am also a realist and know that sometimes, my kid is just being a pain in the butt. I need help to figure out which is which and when is when.

Like I said, maybe I am over reacting. Who knows? All I do know is I want the best for Lily. There is no other child out there quiet like my Bean. I want everyone to see the girl we see.

On top of tackling Lily, I am tackling a new math program at school. Not the best time, but I need to do what is best for my students. Besides, if someone doesn't try it, how will we know if the program is good or not?

Oh there was so much more rolling through my head, but now it has leaked out in the rush of type. Now it is time for bed. Maybe I should slip the dog a nightcap;)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Nurturing My Soul

I am not a practicing Christian, so Lent really isn't a big deal for me. I do like the idea of giving up something to better yourself. I have read a few posts about Lent recently. I wrote about one yesterday. I am going to try her 15 minute organization challenge (check out Beth Woolsey, I am adding her to the long lists of mothers I'd like to meet some day). I am only going to do it on the weekends. The evenings around here lately are just way too jam packed.

I am going to try something else. Giving up gossip. I used to be pretty good about looking for and saying the best about everyone, but the more tired and stressed I get, the snarkier and nastier I get. At first it seems like fun, but after you are finished, do you ever wonder what the group says about you after you leave? Would you say those same things to some one's face? I always feel awful after a "bitch fest."

I need to set a better example for my girls. Now don't get me wrong, I will still be sarcastic and tease. I am not turning into Snow White over night. I am just going to follow my blog rules "Don't share stories that are not your own."

I have a feeling that this will help me feel a lot better about myself and others.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Maternal Angst, Winter Style

Ok, so I am soooo not alone in the "all of this crap is driving me crazy" feeling that I've had. As a matter of fact, it seems to be the prominent theme of the "mom blogs" that I follow. One mom has vowed to spend Lent completing a 15 minute organization project a day. At first, it doesn't seem in keeping with the idea of Lent, but once you think about it as simplifying your life in order to focus on what is important. Anyway, I can get behind this. Completely. I took time last night to organize the top of my desk and found: the Valentine's card that I meant to send to my niece, a 5% off at Target that expired in January, coupons that expired in December, and well, you get the point.

Another mother quoted herself as saying "Do I have to do every fucking thing around here?!?" I can totally relate to that one as well. Truthfully, I am surprised that my head has not spun completely around while smoke and fire pour out of my eyes and ears. "NOW!" has become my mantra (that is if a mantra can be roared while a child looks at you with squinty eyes muttering "Alright! Jeez."

Well, mothers of the world I feel you. We have been trapped in the house for the longest, coldest, snowiest winter in history. Our children are no longer delighted with the simple things like playing in the snow. Instead they eat their way through the house shedding clothing and stuff, complaining "ohmygodimsobored!"

There have been plenty of wonderful moments and memories created during this winter. Those are all for a different post. Right now, I am wondering "is there such a thing as a snow day where kids go to school and the teachers stay home?"

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Taming Chaos

I had a minor melt down one morning this week. It wasn't a bad one and it was totally justified and Rob didn't even get frustrated (at least during the opening act of said melt down, my melt downs usually come in acts). I have mentioned before that I looove lists. My friend posted a list (in slide show form which really isn't a list and is super annoying, but I digress) of the top ten ways to help people deal with their depression. What was number one? Help them manage the clutter!!! Oh my God, that is just what I need. I am drowning in my house. I can never take the time to figure out what needs to stay or go around this joint because I am too busy picking up after the rest of the household. I feel like I am stuck in the worst maternal themed Twilight Zone episode where you find yourself starting the same damn task (clearing the papers on your desk), but never finish because soda leaked all over the fridge and floor, the right pair of jeans were not clean for Lily, the dog peed again, and so on and so on.

This is the way my brain works: two competing conversations demanding to be written in a list, surrounded by back ground music being interrupted by childhood memories, which are then being interrupted by a screaming voice demanding that whatever has been forgotten is remembered and dealt with right now, which results in a racing heart beat, dry mouth, and general confusion and panic. Because I live with and navigate through this internal chaos everyday, I am an awesome at dealing with the insanity that is normally a first grade classroom. People ask me how I do it, and I always reply "These are my people." Very few understand how true that is. When it seems like I am ignoring you? I 'm not. Your words have not reached their destination yet. Think of my mind as a crowded dance club; what you're telling me has to push its way past the bar and DJ. Problem is my brain often mixes up what's been said. Classic example: I was washing dishes and lesson planning in my head while bouncing around some blog ideas. News radio was on because I think better with repetitive background noise. I heard what I thought was an ad for reversing hearing loss (I have high frequency hearing loss on top of everything else). I shut the door on everything else in my mind and REALLY focused on the commercial. It was an ad for reversing HAIR loss. At least I can see the humor in my mess ups.

Anyway, back to the meltdown. In order to keep up with a brain like mine, I need to function in an organized space. I am a creature of habit. If I put my brush in the hair brush basket, it had better be there the next day. If it isn't, it leads to confusion and guilt (see the post after this one). However, my family never puts things in the same place twice!!! They also shed their stuff like hyper snakes who have to dart from room shedding and can't possibly do it in one place. It is also Girl Scout cookie season and between that and violin and yoga (which is supposed to relax me), I've had no time to clean or fold laundry. My house had achieved "kiddy frat house" status.

I needed help with the clutter, so after my mild flip out, I asked Rob for help. He agreed that he and the kids would help this weekend. Problem solved, right? No. Remember all of those competing convos in my head? They had made lots of valid points about why Rob and the girls should help (I gave up a cleaning service so we could afford the girls' activities, they should respect me, I am too tired after cleaning to be any fun, I spend so much time cleaning, I never get to do anything else....). Once the arguments are created, they have to come out. So I kept going. I would leave a room, come back and make a point. Go to work, come home and make a point. This particular quality of mine is probably the one that annoys my husband the most. I try very hard to swallow my points.

We did spend the weekend cleaning up. Hopefully it lasts more than one day.