Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Best Laid Plans

What's that saying about the "best laid plans of mice and men"? Well, I think I can relate. I had big plans to work on my room while Jamie was gone so that it would be nice and clean (not to mention to give me something to do). Those plans have gone awry. Last night, I watched TV and read a really good book. I admit, I was being lazy. I was pretty much worn out from all the preparation to get him ready to go to camp, so I didn't feel like doing anything else. Plus, do you know how nice it is to watch what I want to watch on TV, and not have to worry about language or "adult" themes?!? Tonight, I've done nothing (again) on my room because I lifted a really heavy box at an odd angle at work, which has set my back to screaming this evening. Tomorrow night, I'm having dinner out with my girlfriends at our favorite girly restaurant, La Madeleine (do you KNOW how long it's been since I've had a night out with the girls?!?!?). Happily, I am not working Thursday or Friday (thank you for vacation days) and Jamie won't be back until around 1:30 in the afternoon on Thursday, so I may or may not work on it before I have to go pick up Jamie. If I don't work on it, though, I'll have some 'splainin' to do. I had to send three letters to camp with Jamie, one for each night he's there. In those letters, I kind of might have acted like I was working hard on the house while he is gone. Oooops! Oh, well. When we want a break from working on his room this weekend, we can come in my room and pick up stuff in here. It's only housework. It's not like it's going anywhere.

Monday, June 28, 2010

My Baby's Gone

Jamie left for camp this afternoon. He wasn't allowed to take his cell phone, so he can't text or e-mail me 5 million times a day. My phone has been silent all afternoon. I'm sure the house will seem eerily silent when I get home. I may have to turn the TV on to cartoons to make it feel like he's home. I haven't had an anxiety attack yet, but I've got the Xanax on standby, just in case. Meanwhile, I have a room to clean, dishes to do, and dogs to take care of. Thursday can't get here soon enough...... I kind of liked making Jamie do the dishes. ;-)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Friday Five: Movie Edition

Okay, so it's summer movie season. This is the time when a lot of movie theatres put out their summer wanna-be blockbusters. I love movies! In honor of the summer movie season, here's my random list of five of the hundred-gazillion or so movies I want to see this summer.

1. Toy Story 3. I'm jealous; my son got to see it last weekend with his BB Bill. Seems like I don't get to go to the movies that much any more. Oh well.

2. The Sorcerer's Apprentice. I'm a sucker for Nic Cage, sarcasm and movies about magic. Seems like this movie will have them all.

3. The Last Airbender. I am a HUGE (read: obsessed) fan of the animated series. I want to see this movie for many reasons. First, I want to see the live-action interpretation of it. Secondly, I want to know what I'm talking about when I blast it for not being like the cartoon. ;-)

4. Despicable Me. Again, from the previews, sarcasm abounds in this animated tale. What's not to like?

5. Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore. The first C&D was hilarious, so I'll give the sequel a try. Plus, Neil Patrick Harris and Sean Hayes... C'mon, you know you wanna see it!

Now I ask you, my loyal readers. What movies are you dying to see? Or what movies do you think sound horrendously stupid? Leave me a comment here, or leave me a note telling me you did it on your blog. I'm curious to see what cinematic tastes you all have!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Rant Thursday: Parenting Edition

Sometimes, I just don’t understand my kid. Mind you, I love him to pieces; but sometimes, oh sometimes, I feel like he’s some alien dropped down from another planet. We don’t seem to speak the same language and we definitely don’t have the same thinking processes. Some of this has to do with the fact that he has ADHD, some of it to do with him being male, and some of it to do with the fact that his hormones are starting to go crazy and have scrambled his brain. It happens to all children, just wait and see.

Specifically, these are my rants about my kid. I touched on this a bit on my facebook page, but I’ll say it again in case you aren’t my “friend” on fb. These are my top three rants about my kid.

  1. He doesn’t understand why it’s important to flush the toilet (or put the seat back down), but he can sit and watch The Science Channel and understand, with near-perfect clarity, what the hell it’s talking about when discussing quantum mechanics and physics.
  2. He can’t remember to put the gallon of milk back in the refrigerator, but he can rattle off, from memory, random facts about Albert Einstein.
  3. He can’t replace the toilet paper roll on the dispenser after using the last sheet, but he can build a Rube Goldberg Machine of epic proportions (and leave it scattered all over my living room floor).

I know my kid isn’t me. And I do sometimes have to keep reminding myself of that fact. But there are times when I just flat-out don’t understand him!

What about you? What are your parenting rants? (And if you try to tell me that nothing ever frustrates you and that everything is always sunshine and roses, I’ll know you are lying, or that you have a live-in nanny.)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Clean Sweep

***Warning. Reader discretion is advised. If you are a very tidy housekeeper and cannot stand the thought of a messy house, do not read this post. You will gag. Proceed with caution.***

My house is a mess. My house is such a mess that I refuse to let anyone come over and see how much of a mess it is. If I allowed anyone to see it, I'm afraid they'd stage an intervention. There are many reasons my house was allowed to progress to this level of disaster: 1) laziness and lack of energy on my part; 2) long working hours; 3) the fact that I have to clean the office at work makes me unwilling to clean once I get home; 4) Have I mentioned I have three dogs?; 5) I have a kid with ADD who can mess up a room just by breathing; 6) I've always hated cleaning; 7) Every time I mop the kitchen floor, it rains. Then the boy and the dogs track mud in all over my kitchen floors; 8) Did I mention I have three dogs?

Also, I have been trying to teach Jamie a lesson about cleaning up after himself. Unfortunately, I let the lesson get too far out of hand. The result is the house is a disaster, I can't find anything, and Jamie just plain doesn't care. I haven't tackled it before now because my house was such a mess that I felt overwhelmed by the amount of mess, and didn't know where to start, or even HOW to start cleaning. Every time I even thought about trying to clean it, I'd whimper, climb into bed, huddle under the covers and suck my thumb. Okay, not really, but I wanted to.

On Saturday, I had had enough. I couldn't stand it one more day. So I tried a new strategy - I went to the smallest room in the house (the bathroom) and started with one simple task. I sorted dirty laundry. I unearthed the three laundry hampers from the garage where they were hiding. A long time ago, with good intentions, I bought three separate hampers - a white one for white clothes, a light green one for light clothes, and a dark brown one for dark/red clothes. But I never really implemented them for their intended purpose. Saturday, I lined them all up in the doorway (so the dogs couldn't come in and I couldn't escape) and got sorting. I also had a trash bag with me. Clothes got sorted, trash got thrown away, and clothes on the bottom that had gotten wet and too mildewed/molded to save got thrown away. This resulted in more than 6 loads of laundry and three trash bags full of trash/ruined clothes. I set the garbage bags by the front door, went and got the broom and a dust pan, then swept up the dirt and such from the floor. Then I got out a spray bottle with bleach water and sprayed the areas of the floor where molded/mildewed clothes had lain. All this took me about an hour and a half to accomplish. (If you're wondering where Jamie was during all this, he was out watching Toy Story 3 with his big brother. Lucky kid. But better that he was out of my way for the initial volley of cleaning.)

I then went and threw the trash out in the trash bin and started a load of laundry (hot water, color safe bleach and 1/2 cup of vinegar on the "soak" cycle to help get out any remaining mold/mildew smells). Then I went to my room and watched an hour or so of "Dead Like Me" on Netflix. After two episodes, I went and checked on the laundry. By this time, my back was starting to hurt, so I decided enough was enough for the bathroom that day, and just concentrated on doing laundry. All told, I got three of the loads of laundry from the bathroom done that day (a "soak" cycle takes about two hours in the washer, plus an hour in the dryer).

On Sunday, the bathroom and laundry were tackled again, but this time I made Jamie stay home and help me. (He wanted to go do something with Bill, but I put my foot down and told him that I really needed him home to help me.) Around 1 p.m., I went in the bathroom and sorted/threw away/organized/put away all the junk littering the bathroom counter. Then I cleaned off the top of the toilet tank. I put Jamie to work folding and putting away laundry from the day before. Then I went and checked on the laundry, got more going, brought Jamie more clothes, and we sat together and watched TV on my bed while we folded/hung and put away the clean clothes.

Fast forward an hour, and then I went back in the bathroom and scrubbed the bathroom counters, sink and inside/outside of the toilet. This involved me sending Jamie to find out what the heck happened to the toilet brush (it had wound up in the garage, somehow). After this was done, I left the bathroom and went to the kitchen to load the dishwasher I had made Jamie unload earlier. Meanwhile, Jamie was still folding laundry as I brought him fresh loads.

After the dishes were done, I went back to the bedroom and helped Jamie fold while we watched some more TV. After another hour, we went back in the bathroom and used good old fashioned elbow grease and Borax to scrub the tile surround and the bathtub. I made Jamie do half of it, as well. Then we rinsed the bathtub and I sprayed any stubborn mildew/mold areas with bleach water. After that, I had Jamie go get me the scrub brush and a bucket, and we scrubbed the bathroom floor by hand with Borax and water (again, Jamie had to do half). Then I rinsed with a mop and plain hot water.

By approaching the project as a series of specific, set tasks, rather than the vague "clean up the bathroom", we accomplished our goal of getting the bathroom cleaned (dude, it sparkles!) and didn't feel overwhelmed in the process. We are going to use this focus and mindset to clean the rest of the house - one room each weekend, one set task after another, until the whole house is clean. If I start feeling overwhelmed, I'll take a moment to look at my clean and shiny bathroom to remind myself how good it feels to have a clean room.

During the week, we will continue to focus on laundry and dishes, whittling down those daily tasks that can be such time suckers if we put them off until the weekend. This will give us more time on the weekends to focus on one room. This coming weekend we are focusing on my room, with the understanding that during this week Jamie is to use the clothes hampers to pick up and sort laundry from the floor of my bedroom. This is something he can do while watching TV, so it's a job he doesn't mind very much.

The following weekend is my five day weekend thanks to vacation days and the holiday. We will wind up using just about every day of it to tackle Jamie's monstrosity of a room. I think doing it in short increments will allow us to still have time to do some fun things over the course of the weekend, though, and not feel overwhelmed by the task. If we can keep up the pace and do one room a weekend, though, we should be done with the whole house (including organizing the garage) by the end of July. Once it is all clean, we can paint the rooms that never got painted last summer. This will accomplish my goal of getting the house completely cleaned, organized and painted before I start grad school and Jamie begins 7th grade. Once we get it all done, it should be easier to maintain. I'll keep you all informed how it goes.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Five Little Things: Lovey Edition

We all have things we love about our kids - things they say, things they do, and those little things that make them uniquely themselves. I love my kiddo for lots of reasons, but these are the five little things that make him uniquely himself that fill my heart full to nearly bursting:

1. His crooked little pinkies. Since the day he was born, I've loved his little pinkies. The very tips of his pinky fingers slant in toward his ring fingers at nearly 45-degree angles. I don't know why, but I lurve his crooked pinkies all to pieces, and have since I first noticed them on the day he was born.

2. The way he still will run up to me and give me a great big hug for no reason (although he won't do it in public anymore). But when I get home from work, he still loves to give me a big hug and tell me he loves me. For a 12 year old, this is a rare thing!

3. The way his mind is always working. He's really into building "contraptions" with his LEGO blocks - ones to do chores better, make space exploration easier, etc. He also likes to plot out ways to make his chores easier at home (but which usually make the work take longer. I have to give him points for trying, though!)

4. His kindness and patience with kids much younger than himself. He loves to babysit our friends' preschool and pre-K children, and often works with them in their Sunday School classroom at church. And they all love him, too. We can't walk through church without little ones lisping out "Look it'th Jamie! Hi, Jamie!" and running up to hug him around the waist.

5. His laugh. I love to hear him laugh and see him smile. He could light up a room when he beams a real smile.

So, those are the five litte things I love about my kid. Sure, I could go on and on and on about the things I love about my boy, but I limited it to those little things that help make him uniquely himself. What about you? What are the little things you love about your kids (or your pets, if you don't have kids, or your significant other, if you have neither kids nor pets?)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Five - Addiction Edition

Today I'll list for you my Friday five; five little things to which I am addicted, not literally, of course, but which, as Pioneer Woman says, "Make my skirt fly up." In no particular order, here they are:

1. Bones. Several of my friends watch this show and I had seen a rerun here on there on cable, but I had never seriously followed this show. In the past few weeks, the first four seasons of Bones were added to instant streaming on NetFlix, so I watched. Then I got addicted. I've averaged about four episodes a DAY since I added it to my video library - more on weekends. We are now halfway through the last season (streamed from Amazon on demand because it wasn't available on NetFlix) and I'm already jonesing for the next season to start in the Fall.

2. Warehouse 13. The second season debuts on Syfy next month, and I'm giddy with excitement. I was going to cancel my cable subscription, until I saw that W13 Season 2 was getting ready to start. I love this show in all its quirky complexity. And I'm STILL confused/baffled/awestruck by what happened in last season's cliff hanger finale. I have got to see what happens next!

3. The Fablehaven books by Brandon Mull. Original, exciting and lots of fun, these books are supposedly for adolescents, but - much like the HP books - are full of complexities, plot twists and just plain good storytelling that readers of any age will enjoy. I'm dying right now because I got the first four books as paperbacks from Big Box Retailer on steep discount. There's a fifth book, but it's still in hardback, so I can't afford it. This means I have to wait until it comes out in paperback, and I don't think that will be for a while yet.

4. A nice, strong morning cup of French Vanilla flavored coffee. Sure, it's hot out, so it would make more sense to reach for a caffeinated soda when I first get up, but my day doesn't feel right if I don't start it with a cup of FV joe. Even iced coffee doesn't give me the same jolt as does a nice steaming mug of FV coffee.

5. Shoes. I lurve me some shoes! I don't have as many pairs as I used to. Between Jamie leaving a favorite pair of my flip flops out where a certain stray could chew them up, moving several times and just plain wear and tear, my shoe collection has diminished. But - OH! - the joy of a new pair of shoes! I hate to go shopping for clothes, but will spend hours trying on shoes.

So what about you? What are your little addictions, your guilty pleasures that give you a little zing and make you squeal aloud? Leave a message about them in the comments, or just drop me a line letting me know you posted about this yourself in your blog.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

An Informal Survey

I’d like to take an informal survey of all the mamas out there I know. This survey is about jewelry and accessories. Mainly, I want to know what kind of jewelry and accessories you wear, if any. Do you still like to wear long, dangly earrings, or does your little one like to grab on to anything hanging from your lobes, ripping you a new hole or two in the process? Do you like to wear necklaces, or does the li’l booger immediately shove a necklace into his/her mouth, giving you apoplectic fits over the thought of too much lead in your baby’s system? Or are your kids older now, but their tendencies to gnaw on anything got you out of the habit of wearing any jewelry, so you still don’t think to put any on? Conversely, what’s your favorite kind of jewelry? Do you like sparkles and glam, or are you more of an “Earth Mother” natural jewelry type? Do you like bangle-y jangle-y bracelets, or are you more of a charm type person? Understated and elegant or funky? Gold, silver or hemp? Inquiring minds want to know, but I can’t tell you why.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Friday, June 04, 2010

At Least I'm Not the Only Twisted One

Recently, Jessi posted about her attack of guffawing laughter during a supposedly scary scene while watching Interview with the Vampire in a movie theater. I'm glad to know I'm not the only twisted person out there. Then again, Jessi and I are friends (at least I consider us to be so), so it would make sense for a twisted person to attract other twisted people as friends. I don't consider all my friends to be as macabre as I, but there's a nice mix of the twisted and non-twisted varieties of people amongst my "peeps".

Anyway, there's a blurb at the beginning of Jessi's post that reads:

Mama Kat's Weekly Writing Prompt: I sometimes laugh when I’m uncomfortable…or being yelled…or in church…or at a funeral. Write about a time when you laughed at an inappropriate time.

My first question to myself upon reading this was "which time?" Was it when I got an attack of the snort-in-the-back-of-your-throat laughter at my father's funeral? Was it when I couldn't help laughing at the phrasing of a letter to the editor? Let me explain a bit about both. I'll start with the oldest story.

When I worked for a certain hometown newspaper, one of my initial jobs before becoming a reporter and photographer was to type up all the letters to the editor, wedding/engagement announcements, birth announcements, etc. for publication in the paper. One day, a woman wrote in very upset about the people who drove at a high rate of speed on her road. This woman wrote in grieving because someone was driving very fast down her country road, hit their black lab and took off. There is nothing whatsoever funny about this scenario. Except....well....except for in my twisted mind. See, her letter said something to the effect of "and our poor Rover* was sitting in the road and they hit him. He was hard to miss." I immediately started laughing. My editor wanted to know what was so funny. I read him the letter. When I got to the part where they said their dog was "hard to miss" I laughed even harder and said "Obviously!" He looked at me with utter horror and contempt and asked what was so dang funny about that. I said, "They said their dog was hard to miss. Obviously he WAS hard to miss, otherwise the driver wouldn't have hit him!" (I would like to point out here that, to the best of my recollection, the dog was okay. Please don't write me snarky comments about being a dog-hater. I love dogs. They're very tasty**.)

As for my father's funeral, I may have already told this story, but I'll tell it again. Last year, my father was buried with full military honors at a national cemetery. Part of the ceremony involves the honor guard ceremoniously folding the flag to present to the family members. There's lots of slow movements, gentle stroking of the flag, precise movements. It took them a good 5-10 minutes just to unfold and refold the flag. Watching them stroke and fold the flag, all I could think was, "I will love him and pet him and call him George". I started giggling, then I started laughing, then I started snorting. All the while I was trying to keep it down, so everyone thought I was crying. But, really, I was laughing (incidentally, this made me think of the Mary Tyler Moore show about Chuckles the Clown).

I'm sure there are plenty of examples of times in middle and high school when I laughed at inappropriate things, but I don't remember much of those days. My clearest memories are of speech tournaments, fall plays and musicals. If it didn't involve speech, theatre or band, I don't remember much of it. Sorry!

So tell me: Do any of you have memories of times you laughed inappropriately? Leave me a comment about it, or post about it on your blogs and let me know you posted so I can go read it. I have this burning need to know I'm not the only twisted one!

*name changed to protect an innocent canine

**surely you know I'm joking, right? right?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

A Return to Ranting

I'm stressing. I'm trying not to, but I am. In honor of my stress-filled life, I'm making a return to Rant Thursday. This week's rant - not knowing. Not knowing what?, you ask. Not knowing anything when I really need to know right now.

1) Still don't know the outcome of Jamie's health insurance appeal re: going a whole month with no health insurance. As of right now, he has none. Zip. Zero. Zilch. I called yesterday and they still had not made a determination on whether or not they'll be able to make his coverage retroactive to June 1. This means I'm on pins and needles, because if he has an asthma attack, severe allergy fit or what have you, his doctor visit will be all on me. And guess what? I'm broke, so he won't be able to see a doctor unless we go to the ER. Which will mean a huge bill in a couple of weeks. This also means at this point that he can't go to camp unless I buy him temporary insurance for the month. See above re: being broke. Can't afford to buy him any insurance.

2) Still have no idea what types of financial aid I may be getting for graduate school. One school is still waiting on test scores from me. It takes money to take the tests. Can't take the tests without money. See above re: being broke.

3) Have no idea where I'm going to get the money to pay for the two months of student loan payments I'll have to make until I go back to school. See above re: being broke.

4) Still have no idea when, if ever, someone is going to pay his child support again. If he would just pay the stinkin' money he owes me in child support, I wouldn't have to worry about the three above items. I'd have enough to buy Jamie a month of temporary insurance, pay for the stinkin' tests I need to take, put some money aside for student loan payments... you get the drift. I'd be able to use the child support to take care of Jamie and use the money I previously used to raise Jamie to go toward those other things I need to do to make a better life for my child.

I hate not knowing. I was not blessed with much patience. I'm very frazzled right now and stressed out. I hate the fact that it always boils down to money. I want to hurry up and know where I stand so I can move forward with my plan to become a teacher. I know I will never be rich as a teacher. But at least I'll be comfortable enough that I can take care of my kid and know I can take care of the basic necessities without ever having to wait on THAT MAN to pay the child support he never wants to pay. I'll be able to pay my bills, get health insurance for us both, go to the doctor when I need to. I'll be able to do all that, and hopefully make a difference in the life and education of a child or two along the way. I don't think that's asking for too much, do you?

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Upbeat or Just Beat?

I'm trying very hard to stay positive. A very wise, kind, loving woman has told me not to worry about what I can't change and what I can't do anything about just yet. I'm finding it very hard right now to stay positive, but I'm trying.

On Saturday, I got the letter confirming that, while my appeal has been approved for Jamie to keep his medical insurance, he has to go the entire month of June with no insurance. His insurance reinstates on July 1. I called last week to appeal this decision, citing his health problems, upcoming monthly appointments, all the meds he has to take on a daily basis, etc. I called today, but no decision has been made yet on this appeal. So today is Day 1 of no insurance. This is also the beginning of the "Air Quality Alert" season here in Texas. This means the air quality is terrible and makes an asthma attack more likely. It's also supposed to reach triple digits this week, making an asthma attack more likely. His allergies have also kicked up into high gear, making an asthma attack more likely. (Do you sense a pattern here?) Please pray that my boy stays healthy! Please also pray that his health insurance gets reinstated, because he can't go to camp this month without it, and I can't afford to buy him temporary health insurance.

I'm also freaking out because I've gotten notices from just about all my student loans that I have to start making payments this month. I'll get deferments when I start grad school in the fall, but that doesn't help me much for the summer. I'm already stressing over covering all my normal bills; I can't imagine how I can add in student loans to the mix.

I'm trying to stay focused on getting through the next 4-5 semesters and getting my teaching certificates and my M. Ed. I'm trying to stay positive about how many subjects in which I will be considered "highly qualified" due to my frequent major changing as an undergrad. I'm trying to stay positive about finally making a comfortable living after I'm done - but it's really hard to focus on all that in the future when all this other stuff is blocking my view. One tends to get discouraged when one has to make the decision of either paying an overdue bill or buying groceries. I don't see how my mom provided for all of us when we were kids. I'm struggling to care for one; she had to care for three (and one of them with much worse health issues than Jamie has).