Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Help! Aliens have stolen my children!

I'm becoming more and more convinced that aliens from a distant planet have descended upon the household and have stolen my sweet children. Aside from the ongoing battle of their rooms being kept clean (ha ha, I'm losing), the ATTITUDES are currently driving me mad. Especially Girl child. Boy child to a lesser extent.

One minute Girl child is sweet as roses and candy. How does that rhyme go? Sugar and spice and all things nice? Yep, that's her. Then the next minute my sweet little girl is gone and in her place is a yellow-eyed demon bent on world domination or destruction; take your pick. I'm getting whiplash from her mood swings.

Boy child is acting out in other ways, but none of them comparable to his little sister.

I know it's her age. She's exactly two weeks away from her 10th birthday. I know exactly what's going on (I am, after all - a girl, too), but that doesn't mean I have to like it.

Nothing I've said, done, or yes, even threatened, has worked and I'm about ready to climb a tree, build a fort, and stay there until she's 18. My fort will be lined with lovely jewel-colored pillows with golden fringe, embroidered elephants, and tiny mirrors sewn into the fabric. Tapestries hanging from the ceiling. A thick, soft mat on the floor to sleep on. Electricity, of course. Maybe a little one-eyed stove for cooking tea or broth. I could live on tea and broth, right?

Of course, I'd have to seriously consider the work situation. Do I leave the comfort and serenity of my beautiful tree fort every day for work? They have showers at work after all, and smelling good might be, well...a good idea. Especially if I'm facing the public. Or, do I tuck tail, request a token for secure remote access, and work from home?

I think the whole showering thing probably wins that argument for me.

TTFN
JMS


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The beatings will continue until morale improves, or until your rooms are clean - whichever comes first

I called a Family Meeting last night to talk about some stuff that was bugging me and that I knew - or suspected - Hubby was struggling with, too. United front, and all that.

Hubby was cooking a fabulous meal (he's a fantastic cook, by the way, lucky us!) so while he finished what he was doing, I starting taking our bed apart because I wanted to wash the sheets, and get a couple other household chores out of the way.

Later, while we were eating, I presented my talking points.  Very generally, they were:

  • Cleaning up
  • Attitudes
  • Mornings
  • Responsibilities
  • School Work
  • Tablets
  • Church
  • Arguments
  • Animals

Among other things. 

Hubby provided input as we went and was very supportive. (Thanks, babe!)

Basically, the message was this: You each have responsibilities. You each know what your responsibilities are. It is your job to do them, without constantly being reminded, or there will be consequences. Respect, when speaking to your parents or other adults, is required - no exceptions. Schoolwork is your priority. Church time is for church. And "No," does not mean a jumping-off point to start negotiations, it means, "No." Period.

I'd rather be the mean mom now while I still have a little bit of hope of molding my kids into decent adults. I'm their mom first, and their friend second.

I'm very lucky, though. Both my kids are comfortable talking to me - about pretty much anything - so I must be doing something right.

It's early yet, and the impact of this meeting has yet to really be tested and verified. But I can tell you this morning was much easier than yesterday morning. Boy-child got up, did what he was supposed to do - all of it - without being reminded every step of the way. Girl child still languished in bed acting the princess, but she didn't have an attitude problem. Both of these things I would consider vast improvements. 

Anyway - it will be what it will be. I can only hope I don't have to reiterate my message and that Hubby and I can finally have a little bit of peace from the chaos.

Wish us luck!

TTFN
JMS



Monday, January 23, 2017

Motherhood Survival Group

I keep seeing all these wonderful videos online about motherhood, telling me things like:

"You're not in it alone!"

"You're NORMAL!"

"Don't be ashamed to ask for help!"

"My kid does XYZ thing, too!"

"It's OK to feel like you're going insane!"

"Motherhood solidarity! Rah Rah Rah!"

Honestly? I feel like these women are talking directly to me! At least most of the time. I'm feeling chaotic and frustrated and weepy and sad and angry and useless and, worst of all, like a failure - all the time. I'm spinning in circles and I can't slow down because if I do, everything falls to pieces around me.

Right now, I'm dealing with (among other things) ATTITUDE! Oh golly, is there ever attitude in my house and I'm so over it! Just once, I would like my children to respond like they used to, when they were smaller and when I actually scared them a little bit. Now they know. You know? They know I'm not going to actually beat them, even if I might threaten it. They know being grounded is an irritating obstruction of their fun, but not life-threatening.

"They" tell me it will change.

"They" tell me it will get better.

"They" tell me it's just a phase and that the tween/teen years are the hardest.

And are "They" ever right!

Girl child is 2 months shy of her 10th birthday and every bit of 13 years old in her head. Boy child is 2 months shy of his 13th birthday and every bit of 30 years old; he thinks he knows everything and is always right. So you can imagine my constant state of frustration.

I know there are mom's groups in town, but the problem I have with them is they tend to meet while I'm at work. As far as I know there aren't any Motherhood Support Groups for mom's with tweens/teens where we sit around after the kids to go to bed, and discuss how frustrated we are and if another mother has dealt with the same thing we could share ideas of how to get through it? And without judgment, but with plenty of understanding shoulders to cry on - and boxes of tissues. Maybe a Motherhood Survival Group? With wine?

I'd go. Yes, please?

TTFN
JMS

Friday, January 20, 2017

Teachable Opportunities

Do you ever wonder how you know the things you know?

I don't mean, "I know that I am hungry and I know I do not want fried chicken livers...like...ever."

For example, how do I know Monet is pronounced Mo-nay and not Mo-net?  How did I learn this tidbit of information? And further...when did I learn it? Did I just assimilate it? Did I hear it somewhen (yes, somewhen), assume it was correct, and simply file it away in my Inner Library of Possibly Useful Information? I suspect it was the result of some unremembered teachable opportunity. Enough that I remembered the lesson, but not how or when I learned it.

Boy Child and I were discussing something he'd read and he mispronounced a word. I honestly am fuzzy on the details.  But I remember I corrected his pronunciation and his response to me was, "Whatever, you know what I mean."

OK - so aside from the almost-a-teenager attitude (a whole other blog post in itself) - I said something to the effect of, "No, not whatever. You need to know how to say the word correctly, for lots of reasons; not the least of which is so you don't look like a fool when you say it in front of someone other than your mother who loves you and is just trying to help."

Needless to say, he did not appreciate the teachable opportunity and, as I vaguely recall, it was early and I was still decaffeinated, I chose not to pursue it further.

Same thing happens with Girl Child, though her response is more along the lines of, "Well, that's how I say it, mo-om." As she typically is not a snot-nosed brat I am more concerned by her manner of response.  (Again, a whole other blog post in itself.)

We know it's raining because we can see it. We know it's cold because we can feel it. We know the sky is blue because...Science is a real thing. We know that education is important because who wants an ignorant generation to be responsible for taking care of us in our old age? (Among other reasons.)

OK - here's another one. How do we know how to balance a checkbook? No one ever actually taught me so I suppose I figured it out myself. Does that mean my logical side and my knowledge of basic math, plus my powers of deduction, worked hand-in-hand-in-hand to allow me to understand the method of the task? I don't know; possibly.

I guess my point in all this (if I really even have one) is this: There are a TON of teachable opportunities in life. Whether you're a parent, a friend, a concerned citizen, or a purple alien standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona... I think (and this is my opinion here) that if you do not take advantage of these teachable opportunities in order to help someone increase their understand and knowledge - regardless of subject - then you are selfish and they are missing out on some seriously cool learning. Plus...doesn't an ignorant generation scare the crud out of you? It does me!

TTFN
JMS


Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Chasm of Christmas Commercialism

I have had a wonderful Christmas! Beloved family, amazing food, fantastic friends. I am truly blessed. Though now, I sit back in my chair and issue a sigh of deep, deep gratitude...

Really deep.

I am profoundly grateful another Christmas has come to a close. 

No more worrying about finances, or if something I ordered will arrive on time, or how I'm going to fit it all into the finite amount of time I have. 

No more thinking I've gotten my Christmas cards finished only to receive one from someone I didn't send one to and add them to my "Must Reciprocate" list for the following year - knowing I'll lose the list unless I put it someplace I'll be able to find it later. Except the following year is now this year and I've hidden my list so well I can't find it so now have to start all over again. (I wish I were more organized about such things, but I'm not, and I never will be. I am beginning to accept this about myself.) Thank you for not taking it personally.

No more questions from the kids about anything present/gift/Santa related.

No more trying to figure out where we're supposed to be, when, and what we're supposed to bring with us. (Sometimes I believe I need my own Personal Assistant to help me keep up with such things.)

I am - admittedly, and probably unfortunately - one of the millions of people who has fallen into the Chasm of Christmas Commercialism. (You like my alliteration?)  I worry an inordinate amount about what to get my kids, what to get my hubby, what to get other family members, what to get for people like neighbors, co-workers, friends! The list feels endless and suddenly I'm coming up against the dreaded point where I'm not done and yet my bank account is. It's a terrible cycle and every year I tell myself I'm going to start early and every year it's suddenly time to go through this all over again. I mean really! Christmas comes at the same time very single year so it's not like it should sneak up on me, but it does! Sheesh!

Does anyone else feel this chaotic during the holidays, or is it just me?  And if it's just me, is it because I'm terrible at organizing my life? Please tell me it's not just me.

***

I haven't discussed this with the rest of my family yet, but I have an idea for next year and I think it's a good one. Not only will it save me a TON of stress and worry, it will benefit others, too.

I think maybe I won't go into detail about it right now - allowing time for the idea to take root, and take shape, and grow into something tangible - but once that has happened, I'll follow up with you.  It could be a life-changing thing all around.

I'll just leave that here...

Happy New Year.  May your 2017 not suck.

TTFN
JMS

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Making Memories -or- Dad's Workshop

In my little family, we have never had a tradition of putting up the Christmas tree at any particular time. You know, like those With It people (of whom I am not one) who say, "Oh, we always put our tree up at Thanksgiving!  It's a family tradition!" -or- "We always put our tree up the first Saturday in December!"  (La la la la la! Whoop-de-doo!)  Nope.  We're basically a put-it-up-whenever-we-have-time kinda family. We're busy. Life is hard. And, quite frankly, I'm tired.

This year, we managed to get the Christmas tree up the first weekend after Thanksgiving, but that, in itself was a frustrating and simultaneously heartwarming experience.

Wait!  How can something be both frustrating and heartwarming?

(sigh) I promise I'll get there.

Anyway... We had this adorable little 4' tall artificial tree. We've had it for years. Every year we'd put it up, decorate it, enjoy its sweet glow, and after all the magic faded, the little tree got stuffed back into its storage bag and returned to its 11-months-out-of-the-year home in the attic.

This year, we attempted to put up said little tree only to find it was beyond saving. Girl child and I spent far too long cleaning up fake pine needles which were in a race to the death for jumping off the tree.  The needles were coming off, the branches were breaking and warped, the lights didn't work... The kids and I spent 40 minutes or more trying to resurrect it for one more season, but alas, it was not to be. Finally, I'd had enough. I threw up my hands and said, "That's it! I've had enough! Let's go get a new tree!" Said announcement was met with cheers of joy from my kiddos.

We gave the old tree a modest farewell, got into the car, and headed to our local Home Depot. 

There was a lot of oooooh-ing and aaaaaah-ing from the children as we perused the selection of trees and all the while the small humans in my charge were trying to convince me we needed the 7' tree. No, really.  We NEED the 7' tree. 

Against all my protestations, we got the 7' tree.

And it's perfect.

Once we got the tree home and set up, the kids went to town and I had zero to do with the decorations.  The kids worked hard, worked together, and hardly a snippy word between them.  It was its own kind of magic.

Boy child said, emphatically, he would remember this moment forever.  Which brings me to my second reason for this blog post.

***

I realized last night that we have very few family traditions. No stuff we do every single year just the four of us. Yes, we go to visit family for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Yes, we have a bucket of chicken on Christmas Eve (though I'm not thrilled with it, it sure is simple). Yes, Boy child always gets his own little shaker of parmesan cheese in his stocking. But are those really traditions? I'm thinking not.

Now is the time for hubby and me to begin making those traditions. I want the kiddos to have more memories of the holidays with us than just fried chicken in a bucket and parmesan cheese in a stocking.

I guess I need to begin baking in earnest?

***

Which brings me to my last reason for this post.

I tend to say - which may be somewhat misleading - that I don't have too many truly happy memories of my childhood. While on the one hand this statement is absolutely true, on the other hand, it is not. I've come to realize some of my happiest memories are kind of mind-boggling to me. I cannot believe these memories, among all the memories I have, are the ones which stand out. But they do.

My father used to have a workshop in our basement. I remember the smell of the wood and metal shavings, the oil, the acrid, ozone scent left behind after soldering or spot-welding. I remember, on more than one occasion, my father handing me a piece of copper piping, the pipe cutter, some flux, the flint spark lighter, the blow torch, and some solder and telling me to, "Make something." I remember how the loud and sudden, "POP!" of the blow-torch flame taking hold startled me every time. (Side note: to this day, the sudden "POP!" of the Pillsbury crescent roll or biscuit can reminds me of the sound of the blow torch coming to life and I'm still startled by it.)  I remember the heavy, cast iron vice attached to the thick work-surface of the bench would crimp the copper piping if I put too much pressure on it. Though sometimes I crimped the ends of the pipe on purpose because then I could use the spot-welder.  I loved the spot-welder. That was probably my favorite. It was so satisfying to suddenly have two completely separate things inexorably joined. 

I remember how all the tools felt in my hand. The feel of the wood.  The feel of the wood plane, the vintage hand drill, the old metal file. The cool stickiness of the wood glue if I got it on my fingers.

My father taught me well. I have no memories of burns or any other serious injuries. A few splinters here and there - sure - but nothing serious. I was good with my hands. I still am.

I wish he were closer so I could still play with his tools occasionally.

OK - I guess all that isn't tradition, but it is a vivid, and very real memory.  So strong as to elicit an emotional response from me in the form of tears. Not for the memory so much as for lost time.  I'll always remember my father's workshop. I want my kids to have memories like this, too.

TTFN
JMS

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Aging parents and a major gap in the care of our senior population

The whole issue of aging parents is - I am realizing - a scary and confusing and frustrating (even sometimes angering) thing.  I've mentioned a couple of times recently about "all the everything" which has been going on.  Bottom line is, my adoptive mother has been unwell and in and out of the hospital and a skilled nursing facility. I don't really want to go into detail (this is now the third or fourth time since last October) because we still do not have a bottom-line answer.  First it's this thing - which seems to explain everything - but then it's not that thing, it's this other thing - which also seems to explain a lot. But no one can say, definitively, what is wrong other than, "You're getting older, Mrs. G.  Some things aren't going to work like they used to."  In my opinion, that's a lame, cop-out excuse and further (again, my opinion) doctors aren't in it for the Care of Person anymore, they're in it for the money.

Give her medications to take care of one thing, but that medication gives her debilitating side effects to a point where she - reasonably - has to stop taking them or they decide to give her another medication to counteract the side effects of the first medication.  And every week something changes and now she's on another pill and it's next to impossible to keep it all straight.  It's no wonder she is having difficulty managing her medications.  I certainly couldn't do any better.

Give her a walker to help stabilize her movements and lessen her risk of falling - which is all fine, well, and good - but now it's very difficult to maneuver around her apartment even though it's supposedly handicap accessible.  The bathtub certainly isn't handicap accessible, and though it does have one support rail, that rail is not at the right height to accommodate her.  She has a shower chair but no anti-skid mat in the bottom of the tub because "they" consider it a fall-risk so she has to wear anti-skid shower shoes to take a shower in her own home.

She has trouble standing long enough to wash out a few cups or make a small meal.  So she falls back on frozen meals which, nutritionally, aren't cutting it for her. She needs to have fresh meals more often.  I feel extraordinarily guilty that I am not able to make her a casserole or two every week and bring them to her, but extra time is difficult for me to find and if I were to make time it would be cutting into her sleep time after my kids go to bed.  I am trying to find more hours in my day and every day I fail; they're not to be found.  So, unless I give up sleep altogether, or quit my job and dump my family into abject poverty (which is what would happen)...there really aren't any other options.

Another thing.  Mom is in a particular place in her life where there is a clear gap in how we (the United States of America) care for our aging population. If you have $3500/month or more then by all means, find a lovely retirement home or assisted living facility and spend the rest of your days surrounded by the good things in life. But, if you're a single senior, a widow, with no military claim for either yourself or your deceased spouse (because discounts may apply), on a fixed income provided by Social Security, you're relegated to living in HUD housing surrounded by folks who might otherwise not have a place to live and who are of sometimes questionable morals, sanity, and personal hygiene.

According to the State, you're not bad off enough to require 24/7 nursing care which would allow you to stay in a nursing facility.  They would make sure you got 3 meals a day, a comfortable bed, and medication management, as well as on-site nursing in case anything were to happen.  But you're not rich enough to afford assisted living, which is really what you need.  So you live alone.  And you struggle.  And you're scared all the time that you're going to fall or that you're going to get sick or that you're not going to be able to get to the doctor for your multiple appointments because you can no longer drive.  And you struggle to do your own laundry which, for any person of good health might take 1/4 of the time it takes you to do the same thing.  But you really don't want to bother anyone so instead of doing it yourself - thereby overcoming your own fears of falling, etc., and fears of further pain from doing too much - you just don't do it at all.  And now you're living in a situation you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.  Sickness takes over - and depression - and you wind up back in the hospital again.

It's an awful cycle.

So what do we - the caregivers - do?  We feel guilty a lot.  We wish we could do more.  We wish that we had the extra (enough of this "we" crap)...  I wish I had enough money to buy a bigger house so that I could move her in with me. I wish I had the space.  I wish I could spend more time fixing extra nutritious meals for her so she wouldn't have to eat the frozen meals. I wish I didn't feel so flipping selfish all the time.  I wish I didn't wish for more time to myself. I wish I didn't have to talk to her every day and feel terrible that nothing I say or do is ever enough, or right. I'm always wrong. And this is an awful cycle, too.

If I thought, just for a minute, that I could be successful in filling this gap in care for our aging seniors I would drop everything and do it.  I would find a way for those who cannot afford assisted living to still live in comfort and without fear, with needed care at-the-ready for things like help with activities of daily living (showering, cooking, cleaning), medication management, etc.  But at a FRACTION of the cost. Without volunteers, without funding, without donations I don't see that happening.  I don't see anyone really being willing to care for seniors in the way they care for children or even animals.  I don't see a construction company donating time, materials, and labor and funds to build such a facility.  Or people who have already worked their 40 hours spending another 4-8 hours a day volunteering their time to help the elderly.

Would we rather they just be homeless, or worse, die for lack of care?  Just a little bit of extra assistance is all some of these folks need but there isn't anywhere that will take them because they don't have enough money.

One more thing.  I've done my research.  Yes, I've tried that.  And that, too. There are occasionally places that might fit this bill, but not right here. Not where I need it to be. And if I were to find one of those places it would not be nearby and then I would never see her.  There's that wonky time issue again.

I guess I don't know what else to say.

TTFN
JMS

Friday, December 09, 2016

A rare and wondrous thing

I have these tiny, fly-away hairs that grow near my ears. (No, not in my ears, thank you very much.) Like sideburns on men, only...well...not. At this point, they're just long enough to make it possible for me to tuck them behind my ears, but not long enough so they'll stay in place without the aid of a bobby pin.  Bobby pins don't work in my hair - they slip and slide around - so that option is out. These bothersome things are also not long enough to stay in place when I put my hair back into a ponytail, so they stick out - like ridiculous, frizzy wings - on the side of my head. I hate them. I've had this struggle my entire life so you'd think, by now, I'd either be used to it, or have given up caring; neither of which is the case. I've tried cutting them - and when I kept my hair short this was mostly OK - but that doesn't really work when my hair is long because short sideburns with long hair just looks...dumb.

Today, I'm having a decent hair day.  A rare occurrence.  But there are still these things which make a perfect hair day impossible.

Sigh.

The struggle is real.

TTFN
JMS

PS: A quick reminder: Since I don't post this nonsense real time, "Today" could mean several days ago.  "The other day" could be last year.  Time is sort of wibbly wobbly here.  These are not the droids you are looking for.  Oh...whoops.  I'm mixing my movies and TV shows up again.  

Tuesday, December 06, 2016

My pants are wet...and other nonsense

There once was a girl from Nantucket...

Okay, Connecticut.  Close enough, right?

***

Besides kids, coffee, and cats, do you know what my favorite thing is?  You don't?  Good, because neither do I.  Probably music.  Or food.  Yeah, food is always good.  But music is food for the soul, and that's equally as important.

***

The parking lot behind the building where I work is not large enough to accommodate everyone who works in the building.  Also, folks who work in other buildings park there, too, because they'd rather do that than park any further away.  What that means is, I have to park quite a ways from the building.  On most days, it's not an issue.  I don't mind walking.  But this morning, not only did I have a bunch of stuff to bring into the building for our annual holiday party, but it was pouring rain.  I was loaded down!  So now, my pants are wet.  My boots are wet.  My socks are wet because my boots apparently leak.  And, as an observation and a public safety message, it is difficult, not to mention un-fun (yes, it is a word), to try to juggle both an umbrella, and a box containing a carefully prepared red berry fruit salad, without fumbling anything.

***

Contrary to belief, I am not a horrible, nagging hag.  I do not live to annoy you.  Not everything which comes out of my mouth is intended to be snippy.  I apologize if my normal voice offends you, but sometimes it's hard to maintain this sweet personality everyone knows and loves.  (Say nothing further and I might allow you to keep your appendages.  "Fezzik, tear his arms off!")  Lots of folks have said how nice I am (which is wonderful and makes my heart soar) and my automatic, and honest, response is, "Well then I guess you don't know me very well!"

***

I've always wondered...

Why can't people shut doors, or turn off lights, or not pee on the toilet seat?

Why didn't God gift me with more musical talent?

Why am I not smarter?  Or, rather, why do things which seem so simple for some people confuse the heck outta me?

Why can't I convince my kids that clean rooms are a good thing?

***

Just some random ramblings on a rainy Tuesday.

TTFN
JMS

Monday, December 05, 2016

Calling a spade a spade

It was pointed out to me recently (kindly, with no malice intended) that my posts make it sound like I'm a single parent.  I have discussed this with the person who commented and things are completely resolved.  Well, I guess you can't have resolution where there really wasn't an issue in the first place, but I think you get what I mean.  However, I feel that I need to address this further.

I am happily married.  Sure, we have our arguments; all married couples do.  But we've been married for over sixteen years and haven't killed each other - or wanted rid of one another - yet.

My hubby is a very private person.  He's grudgingly on Facebook because I kinda forced him into it a few years ago by creating an account for him.  I think he's finally - after all these years - seeing its draw.  And, I'm sure, its drawbacks.  But I digress.  He doesn't really like it when I write about him - specifically - so I've gotten into the habit of just not writing too much about him.  I'm far more open than he is, anyway.  He's always there, though.  My one constant.  My one strong point.  Lifting me up when I've let life overwhelm me, which happens far more often than I care to admit.  Sometimes, he doesn't even know he's helping, but he is.

I'm gonna embarrass the heck out of him now, though.

Here's to my fixer-of-kitchen-sinks, doer-of-own-laundry, Chief Kid Wrangler, raker of leaves and mower of lawns, handler of all the things, constant companion, partner in crime, pain in my rear, aways putting the toilet paper on the holder the wrong way, love of my life.  I couldn't do it - do anything, really - without you.

One other thing. I do not know what it is like to be a single parent.  I cannot even begin to understand the challenges single parents face and would never profess otherwise.  If I understand anything about it, it is this: It's a hugely important job and a singularly difficult one with it's own particular set of challenges encompassing not only care of oneself, but other little lives who depend on you, along with a sometimes sad, and other times lonely experience.  My hats off to you. 

TTFN
JMS