Thursday, November 19, 2009

November Blahs

November is typically not a good month for me. The weather starts turning blah, which in turn makes me feel so very not cheerful. This month also brings the anniversary of my mother's death. Yes, it's been years, but it still hurts. November also brings Thanksgiving, with its reminders of all the people no longer with us on this earth whom I have loved - Mom, Jodi, Dad (yes, he annoyed the piss out of me and often hurt my feelings, but I still loved him), and Granny Goldey (true, we didn't see eye-to-eye, but she loved me in her own way).

This week has been really rough on me because of strays. I'm all emotional anyway (see above paragraph), but then, all the strays in San Antonio seem to have found me and are ripping my heart out by showing me the evils that man is capable of. If any of you have known me for a while, you know I've always been a bleeding heart for animals. Here lately, my heart has been bleeding a lot. There's the smart, beautiful (and literally starved) black lab young girl whom I have tried to help, only to have her jump out of my yard and take off. She was comfortable enough with me to try to climb into my lap (even though she weighs probably near what Jamie does) and lick me repeatedly. But she was antsy being confined to the yard and sailed over the fence. I've looked everywhere for her, but haven't seen her since Monday morning. I'm so worried about her!

No sooner had she taken off, when another black female dog of slightly smaller stature showed up at my house. She's starved too. Both little girls are so skinny their bones are easily visible. As in, their hip bones jut up so sharply that their skin looks like paper about to be ripped through. She has scars all over her body where someone has repeatedly whipped her with something - most likely rope or a belt. She won't come anywhere near me, and runs off if I speak or move toward her. She comes back gratefully though each morning for the bowl of kibble I lay out for her.

Then there's also the neighbor's Yorkie. He got out and came for a visit the other day, too. He's fed fairly decently and has another doggie to play with - but he's been starved as well, just starved for affection. He and his doggie friend will wait for hours, patiently by the fence, waiting for me to come out with my dogs. Then he and his buddy will wait for me to come over and pet them, crying until I do so. It rips my heart out, as well, so see such sociable dogs locked up in a yard all the time and no one from their house EVER comes out to pet them or play with them.

Of course, it doesn't help that all this comes on the heels of that poor kitty I talked about before. I tell you what, though. I'd love to get my hands on the people who were supposed to be taking care of these animals. I'm really hoping one day they will get a taste of their own medicine.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Update on Parenting Struggles

Jamie's demeanor and behavior were improved over the weekend (not perfect, mind you, but I don't expect perfection). On Saturday, he worked really hard on his room and helped me with several chores around the house: cleaning the living room (we're about halfway there), sorting/folding/putting away laundry (~3-4 loads), unloading the dishwasher for me, and doing a lot of fetching for me while I was cleaning. Yes, there were times I had to keep repeating myself, and yes, there were times we butted heads, but he was markedly improved.

Because he was so improved, I was wracking my brain to figure out what was different... and it hit me: SLEEP. He'd gotten 10 hours of sleep Friday night, and 9.5 hours of sleep Saturday night. On a typical school night, he delays, procrastinates, and downright fights going to bed. He'll find excuses to pop back up out of bed (have to pee, I'm thirsty, I'm hungry, etc.) The main problem is the medication he's on. It kills his appetite, so Jamie doesn't get hungry until between 8 and 9 p.m. That's when, ideally, he should be in bed getting ready to go to sleep. The best solution would be for him to not be on the medication at all. We tried that, though, and it didn't work. Oh, how it soooo did NOT work. So, the next best solution is to make him take the meds earlier so it will wear off earlier. Only problem is, that means he would have to get up earlier, which means he has to go to bed earlier... Which, if you've read the above, you know is going to be a struggle.

However, last night I put my foot down and got his butt in bed by 8:30. This gave him 30 minutes to dither around and pop up a few times to get a drink, get a snack, settle down, etc. He was out like a light by 9 p.m. I woke him up at 6:50. I did notice he didn't snarl at me nearly as badly as he normally does. I'm going to put his butt in bed by 8:30 all this week and see if that improves things.

I also had a long talk with him over the weekend about WHY his behavior has been unacceptable, and why he HAS to be a contributing member of the household. I made several things clear to him, such as the fact that I haven't allowed any of his friends to come over because the house is disgusting and because he's been generally nasty little boy (in both manner and hygiene). I told him that the house won't STOP being disgusting unless he gets off his butt and helps me out, and the friends still won't come over if the demeanor and hygiene don't improve. Furthermore, there will be no Christmas tree or decorations put up until the house is clean (that got his attention!) I reiterated the fact that my work schedule, our church activities, and his extracurricular stuff means I can't keep the house clean all by myself. I also told him that he hasn't gotten any real allowance in a long time because he hasn't been helping. If he wants money, he needs to get off his butt. He pointed out to me that he feels like when we get home I'm either too busy to really sit and listen to him, or I'm on the computer. Okay, I've been guilty of that, I admitted, so I'm going to make sure each night that he has my undivided attention for at least 30 minutes. Whether we use that time to read his book together, to take a walk (now that it's cool enough) or to play a game or whatever.

The school issue (for now) seems to be resolving itself. The threat of being kicked out of his clubs and the magnet program lit a fire under him, and he got all his work caught up. He even worked AHEAD on his reading assignments for this week! He's two assignments ahead, and I'm going to make sure he stays that way so he won't have anything looming over his head next week. They get the whole week off for Thanksgiving, and I'll be getting Wed-Fri off, so I want us to spend some quality time together. We're also going to be doing some cooking, baking and major scrubbing of the house.

I'll be sure to keep y'all informed on how things are going.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Parenting Struggles

Neither Jamie nor I are happy campers right now. In public, he's still the sweet, respectful kid, treating all elders with respect (for the most part). At church, I've been thanked on several occassions for bringing such a "jewel" to Sunday School/church/Wednesday night Bible study, etc. I am glad that he's behaving himself and being a (mostly) good kid and helper.

BUT - at home, OH! at home, he's defiant, obstinate, unhelpful, cantankerous, and every other unpleasant word I can think of! We go round and round on a daily basis about homework, chores, his tone of voice when he speaks to me, his bedtime, his eating. Basically, we argue about everything ALL THE TIME!!!! And I gotta tell ya, I'm sick of it. There are days when I don't even want to speak to him because I know it will just lead to an argument.

Don't get me wrong. I love Jamie. I wouldn't have done half the things I've done to make sure he's fed, clothed, and has a roof over his head if I didn't love him to pieces. I've taken jobs I've hated, I've done things I strenously did not like to do (don't worry, it was legal), I've compromised my principles on more than one occassion, just to make sure he's healthy and provided for. All to be treated like dog poo on his shoe on more than one occassion. What really irks me is that I can't tell him half the things I've done, because I don't want him to know. I don't want him to know the lengths I've gone to keep us from having to live in our car, the things I've done so he would have something to eat, the low paying, degrading jobs I've kept just to be sure I could (barely) afford his medications. I do and have done all those things - for him to act like a snot-nosed brat.

The most insidious thing about it is that he isn't that way all the time. He can go from one moment of absolute sweetness and helpfulness to complete and total sh!thead in 30 seconds flat. It's stunning how he can flip-flop back and forth. And when I call him out on it, I get his standard reply of "well, I'm sorry, but (insert half-brained excuse here)" said in a snotty voice. It drives me up a wall!

Is 11 the new age for parents to dread? When my older sister was little, my mom was warned to watch out for hormones and mulish behavior at 16; based on a popular movie several years ago, "Thirteen" was the age to watch out for. Is 11 the new start of the snot-nosed brat phase?

I'm going to pray about this.... a lot. All this arguing isn't doing either one of us any good. But I need it to stop, because I need him to help me out more around the house. And I need him to go to bed on time and eat when he's supposed to. I also need him to do his homework when he's supposed to. Luckily, he did get a big warning from one of his teachers yesterday. She reminded him that he CAN be kicked out of his clubs and even the magnet program if he doesn't shape up. He worked all night last night getting his homework caught up, and is supposed to turn everything in today. We'll see how that improves his grades.

I'm sorry for this long rant, but I had to pour it out. It felt like it was eating me from the inside. He isn't always horrible. He's still mostly a good kid. It's just that the snottiness is really getting to me. I'll just keep reminding myself that "this too shall pass." It has to, or it will kill me!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

I Pi$$ed Off My Uncle

I have an uncle who, despite my begging him not to, kept sending me hate-mongering chain e-mails. You know the ones - "Obama's making a new policy that will allow Spanish-speaking chickens to be served to our lily white school kids in the lunch rooms! Big shocker, we should call our congressmen to complain!" yada-yada-yada. Now, I love my family. BUT - I'm from the opposite end of the political spectrum from them. My brother and I were raised far away from the majority of our family members, and usually only saw them once or twice a year. We always got along okay, well, until we got old enough to form our own political ideas and began to object to what they were saying. I learned very quickly just to walk away from political conversations, otherwise they would try to convert me to their way of thinking, and couldn't fathom the idea that I would consider my own position to be right, and theirs wrong.

Anyway, my uncle recently sent me an e-mail decrying the idea that the U.S. Post Office was going to issue a "32-cent" stamp featuring a Muslim holiday, and went on to rant about all the horrible things that Muslims have done in the name of their faith to Americans. This rant constituted a big long rambling list of terrorist acts and "injustices" done by Muslims toward Americans. I can't remember them all, and seem to have deleted the original e-mail. Said e-mail went on to state we should boycott the Post Office, and write our congressmen, yadda-yadda-yadda.

I wrote the following response (well, as near as I can remember). "Thank you for thinking of me and wanting to share something with me that is important to you. However, I do not feel all Muslims should be blamed for the acts of some zealots whose actions are in no way condoned by the true Muslim faith. Furthermore, terrorist acts and mass murders have been committed in the name of other religions, as well. So-called Christians are some of the biggest offenders. Remember learning about the Crusades? How many were murdered with the claim that it was in the name of Christ? What about those supposed Christians who gun down and/or mutilate those who hold views that do not conform to that zealot's interpretation of Christianity? Do not blame an entire faith for the actions of a few nutjobs. Oh, and by the way, the current price of a postage stamp is 44 cents. Just how old is this e-mail you're recirculating? Mass/spam e-mails are a great way for viruses and spam lists to be generated. Please do not contribute to this practice."

Funnily enough, I haven't heard from my uncle since then. I think I ticked him off royally.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009


The first item on my agenda this morning is to brag on my kid. Jamie made the A/B honor roll with six As and two B's (with the two B's being almost A's)! Yay Jamie! Yesterday was the 6th grade media magnet school awards assembly (which, unfortunately, I could not attend). Jamie won three awards! One for A/B honor roll, one for "Outstanding" student in his computer class and he also got "Student of the Month" out of his whole grade for the month of September! Yay, Jamie! Woot! I'm very very proud of him!

Second item is that on Sunday I started the process to officially became a member of the church I've been attending. We're heavily involved in AWANA, choir, Christmas program, children's ministries, etc., and I feel like it's a church home, so I approached the pastor about becoming a member. We're just waiting on confirmation from the church where I got baptized, so it isn't completely official yet, but it will be. Also, Jamie has started asking questions about baptism, so he will be talking more to the pastor about that. Again, yay Jamie!

NaNoWriMo isn't going very well for me. I've only written about 400 words, far far less than the 3,000 some odd I should have written by now. Finding the time to sit at the computer and write is very hard for me.

I'm really really really excited that in about a week, I'll be seeing some people whom I love dearly like family and haven't seen in quite a while (well, I saw one in January, but the other I haven't seen in longer), so I'm super duper excited about that. Can't wait to have them here!

Oh, and in a month and a about a week, I graduate!!!!!!!!! It's starting to sink in, folks. Guess now I have to start acting like an adult. :-)