Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Children. Ugh.

There's no talking to my children these days.  Seriously, we can't have any sort of conversation without someone turning into an entitled little turd monkey.

Por ejemplo:

Today.

Doodlebug was upstairs.  Boo was practicing her violin in her room, and Doodlebug was *supposed* to be cleaning his.  In theory, of course.  Instead, I heard the shriek of an indignant (and also constantly attitude-laden) girl.  I called Doodlebug down and told him to stop messing with his sister.  He said ok and promptly went back upstairs… to mess with his sister.  I called him down a second time and told him to knock it off and enumerated a consequence if the behavior continued, specifically that he would be told to eat dinner and go to bed early.  Because if he couldn't manage to control himself around people, it was a sign to me that he needed to go to bed so he couldn't be around anyone.  Made sense to me, anyway.  He said ok and promptly went back upstairs… to mess with his sister.

Argh.

So I called him down a THIRD time and told him the consequence was being enacted and to get dinner.  He walked over to the fridge and stood there with the door hanging open.  I told him to get food and get out, and in response he slammed the fridge door because heaven forbid we close a door with any sort of decency around here.  I let it slide and told him to feed the animals while he thought about what food he wanted to eat, at which point in time he flopped himself on the floor like a 2-year-old.  I told him to get moving.

So he grabbed the food bowls and hauled them to the laundry room, where he flung open the closet door and yanked out the cat food bag.  I heard food fly and reminded him that he would need to clean up that food.

"It's FOUR pieces," he shot back.  "Apparently I need to clean FOUR pieces."

"Yes, you do!"

"Mutter mutter mutter..." *cracks cat food can open and flops the lid on the dryer, where I know for a fact it's dripping wet cat food juice on the top*

"You'll need to clean up that mess, too, you know."

"THERE'S NO MESS. THAT'S FROM YESTERDAY."

"Well, if it's there from yesterday, clean it up!"

"I *WILL,* but I didn't make a mess!"

"As long as you clean it up!  Just CLEAN IT UP."

"O-KAAAAY."

Silence.

I look over to see what he's doing and he's got a cat in his arms and is positioning it precisely two inches over the food bowl and holding it there.  Cat torture.  Awesome.

"DUDE!"

*jumps*

"I'm just getting him down!"

"Son, I've been watching you.  You want me to do that to you??"

"No." *puts cat down*

"Then what on earth…???"

"He was trying to steal food and I was getting him down!"

"OK.  Get the animals fed, and you can forget about having a proper dinner.  You can have a banana or yogurt, take your shower, and GO TO BED.  Since you can't quit messing with anything, apparently."

"But I didn't DO anything!!!"

Etc.

Etc.

Etc.

And after all that (and then some), there was, in fact, a mess from today's cat food can lid.  Oz went in and saw it (because Doodlebug did not, in fact, clean up any of the FOUR pieces of cat food or yesterday's mess, despite his assurances that he would do so) and we had to call the boy back downstairs and get him to clean it, and then he started fighting with us again because we're just so mean for making him do something he'd said he'd do and we're just overreacting to his little white lie that there wasn't a mess today.

This scenario plays out, in various versions, half a dozen times every day, and while this particular version is about Doodlbug, Boo is not innocent.  This morning she had a snark episode about French toast sticks for breakfast.  Seriously.  French toast sticks.

(For the record, the serving size is two sticks.  There are six in a box.  And two sticks is simply not enough breakfast and therefore, or so sayeth Boo, nobody will EAT the sticks because it's just not enough.  My answer of just eating more sticks was apparently completely unexpected and unacceptable, and clearly I should never ever buy them again.)

I am ill-equipped to deal with these sorts of scenarios.  I loathe attitude and disrespect in any way, shape or form.  Oz is equally done with all of it.

Pretty sure our children won't see the other side of their teen years.  Heck, they'll be lucky to see trick-or-treating tomorrow night.

Ugh.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Parent/Teacher Conferences

Last night Oz and I attended our first parent/teacher conferences in three years.

We went to Boo's first.  We walked in and sat down, and the teacher ran through some sheets that each of Boo's teachers had filled out about her behavior and grades and any other notes that they had, and then we got the preliminary report card with all As (any grade changes that happen between now and when they go out on Monday will be minor).  Boo is a good student.  She's happy.  She's a good helper.  She's smart.  She's a good friend.  Etc.  Nothing we didn't already know or suspect about her.

We had also had a call earlier in the evening saying that Boo was officially accepted into the gifted program, so starting next Wednesday she'll get on a bus with all the other gifted/talented kids and go to a different elementary for a special supplemental course.  She may wind up with homework from the class time that she misses, but it won't be ALL the work she misses and she isn't concerned.  She's just pleased to be recognized for her brain… as she should be.

Then we went to Doodlebug's school.  Oz and I were honestly not sure how this conference would go. We assumed we would just be meeting with one teacher, his homeroom teacher, but instead when we sat down, teachers converged from everywhere and we got to meet with 5 out of 6.  That's a number I can live with.

His teachers like him!  They are all impressed with his intelligence and think of him more or less as a walking dictionary - more than one mentioned that when another student needs something they will occasionally refer the student to Doodlebug to get the answer.  They say he's doing all right socially, although one teacher was surprised to discover that Doodlebug and another boy are good friends since they spend class arguing (this is the same friend that got suspended along with Doodlebug, so that information didn't surprise me too much).  He also has straight As, though if he doesn't pay attention in a couple of classes soon, that won't last.

The biggest surprise actually came before the conferences, when Oz and I stepped into the counselor's office.  We went there to get the password to the school website so we can log in and check on Doodlebug's assignments and grades (something we were supposed to have been given months ago but oh well… clearly it hasn't affected things much).  The counselor looked at us and said, "Oh, hey, I was working on his file today."

Well THAT wasn't alarming at all.  #sarcasm.

Apparently one of the teachers had mentioned something about Doodlebug's 504 plan and how Doodlebug was supposed to have one… which he is… but I guess somehow in the shuffle of everything, the plan never got forwarded.  So while he does have one, it isn't on file.  And when the counselor popped around and asked all the teachers what they thought he needed to have on it and whether they even thought he needed one at all, the teachers all said that they couldn't think of a single intervention he could need.  I was surprised but very, very pleased.  So I'm not even sure we'll worry about it at this point; the counselor said it would be an easy thing to get it forwarded and amended whenever - IF ever - it is needed.

I do miss being at home and homeschooling some days - today was one of them, where I would have given just about anything to be at home with my kids instead of at work while they were at a friend's house for Fall Break - but I'm very proud of how well they're doing and how smoothly the transition has gone.  I couldn't have imagined better.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

All Signs Point to Happy

The past week or so has been filled with surprises - good ones!

Some of the best surprises have involved getting together with friends (a friend texted me on Wednesday to say that she, her sister, and another woman, all of whom I know and enjoy, were going out for margaritas and wanted to invite me to come along, and I went, and the four of us had a wonderful time) or coworkers (five out of six front desk staff members went out last night, and we all had a really good time then, too… no cattiness, just sharing information and stories and laughing), but one of the best surprises has been the following document that my husband typed up and texted to me one line at a time.

It was so sweet to read it, and I'm still so pleased with it that I'm putting it out here to brag.  My husband - he is one of the best. :)

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A is for AMAZING.  You amaze me every day with what you accomplish.

B is for BOLD.  You know what you want and you won't settle for less.

C is for CARING.  You make me feel loved and cared for more than I can tell you.

D is for DELICIOUS.  Your cooking is beyond delicious!

E is for ENERGY.  You have an aura of energy and excitement around you all the time that is infectious.

F is for FOREVER.  You're stuck with me for that long!

G is for GORGEOUS.  You are amazingly beautiful and sexy.

H is for HARD-WORKING.  Your efforts and work don't go unnoticed.

I is for I LOVE YOU, because I do!

J is for JEALOUS.  You are worthy of being jealous over.

K is for KISSES.  I can never get enough of them.

L is for LOVE.  You make me feel completely and securely loved.

M is for MEANT TO BE.  Even being born on opposite sides of the planet couldn't keep us apart.

N is for NEVER.  I will never take you for granted again.

O is for ORDINARY.  I love that it doesn't take fancy things to make you happy.  Ordinary can be extraordinary.

P is for PERFECT, as in perfect for me.

Q is for QUEEN.  You are the queen of my heart.

R is for RELAXED.  I love that our relationship feels like a comfortable pair of jeans, but I will never forget that comfortable can turn into complacent.

S is for SASSY in just the right way.

T is for TOUCH.  Your touch can take away all the worries in the world.

U is for US.  Together there's nothing we can't accomplish or defeat.

V is for VALIDATION.  I will make sure that I always validate your feelings and accomplishments, and I know you'll validate mine.

W is for WANT.  I want you and need you.

X is for X-RATED.  'Nuff said.

Y is for YOU LOVE ME, because I know you do.

Z is for ZEALOUS.  I will zealously live up to my obligations and your expectations.

----

You may vomit now.  But it makes me smile that he took the time to think all this up, type it out, and send it.  I'm a pretty lucky girl :)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Errands and Secular Curriculum

One of the things that having a job has changed in my life - besides, oh, I don't know, EVERYTHING - has been the ability to run errands during the middle of the day.  My days of browsing through quiet grocery store aisles and avoiding mall crowds are officially over.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm fortunate enough that I do have some time in the afternoon each day where I can run an errand or two without being caught in rush hour traffic, and I also have a somewhat flexible lunch hour (flexible meaning that I can request a certain time slot, not that I have a flexible amount of time) where I can run errands as well.  But by and large, errands are now an evening or weekend chore.

Today I wanted to take the last of my homeschooling materials to a local store.  They carry a fair amount of curriculum, but they also do some consignment selling as well.  However, when I looked up the address and decided to double check the hours, I was very upset to discover that they don't even open until 1 p.m. each day.  So much for running that errand over lunch!  Thankfully Oz's schedule is far more flexible than mine, and he offered to take in the books for me.

I got a text from him a bit later:  "Books are dropped off. There was lots of oohing and aaaahing about what you had and a couple of "are you SURE she wants to sell this one".  Bad grammar/punctuation aside, I replied, "HAHAHAHAHA yeah I figured there would be.  It's good shit lol"

It was frustrating to me to discover how hard it is to sell secular curriculum, both locally and online.  If I sell it online, yes, I want enough to cover shipping.  If I sell it locally, yes, you do have to either meet me or come pick it up.  I will not schlep it clear across town for you.  And yes, for the love of Pete, Jimmy, Tom, Bart, and all the other Apostles, it is secular material!  This is why I decided to take it to the consignment shop.  Sure, some of it was openly secular - but it's the good stuff.  The stuff I had, for the most part, is used by classical homeschoolers across the country, and while I made sure it had a secular slant (or at least not a heavily Christian one), it's still The Good Stuff.

I hope it sells.  I really do.  Because if I'm going to take the time out of my day to run another errand in a month to go pick up a check from the bookstore, I want it to be a good-sized one!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

My Little OCD Heart Skipped a Beat Today

This week is, in fact, going much better than last.  It did not start out that way - Doodlebug spent Monday and Tuesday driving us all to distraction, Oz primarily, because he felt the need to torment everyone, steal electronics at 3 a.m., not do the assignments that the school sent home for him to complete during his suspension, and otherwise generally being an ass.

He turns 12 in exactly one week.  I can smell the adolescence.

No, really… if he forgets his deodorant, I can actually smell it.

In any case, he went back to school yesterday and has thus far managed to keep his nose clean.  Next week he can start attending his Lego Club meetings, which will make us all happy.

Work has been good.  I walked patients yesterday, which was actually a nice break (especially since all hell broke loose at the front desk around 2:45), but other than that I've been up front.  I've made a couple of minor errors but nothing particularly glaring or horrid that I know of, and I think they would tell me if I had done something wrong.  They seem pretty up front about these sorts of things, and one of the unspoken office rules is that you own up to things and fix them, which I like.  Less drama in the end.

Today, though, I got trained on how to close out the daily accounts by doing some batch processing.  I've never done anything like that before, and the guy who trained me was complaining the whole time about how much he hates doing it because of all the little details you have to catch - whether or not everything's been stamped and signed and dated and put in order and reconciled and re-reconciled and copied and printed… basically all of the stuff that makes me absolutely love doing it.  Someone forgot to put an account number on a ticket?  Write it in.  Separate the receipts into various piles and put them in order?  Start making stacks and get 'er done.  I'm sure I'll forget a detail or two, but in the end it was a process I would, and WILL, happily do again.  Because it made my little OCD heart giddy to watch for all the little details and put it all in order and in the right places.

I like the job.  I like the people, and I like staying busy.  I like that the kids like school (even Doodlebug, despite his issues, does like it), and I like that Oz is being amazing and doing all sorts of stuff around the house to make sure that things continue to go smoothly here.  I don't care for the hours today and tomorrow, but that's temporary… and I have learned than an extra 30 minutes of sleep in the morning makes a huge difference by the middle of the day!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Nope, Spoke Too Soon

Friday.

Today had a whole lotta NOPE in it.

It started out badly.  Doodlebug (yet again) didn't want to get out of bed this morning, and even Boo was dragging.  I made it to work on time and was excited to get to sit at the front desk for my first full day up there EVER… only to discover that I had forgotten to check one of the other schedules and hadn't done one of the weekly jobs I'm supposed to do and someone else was covering my hind end, which isn't their job and makes me feel bad.

Then Oz texted me and told me that Doodlebug had waited until about the time he was supposed to be heading out the door to the bus and said, "I forgot about an assignment!  I need six pictures of momentous occasions in my life!!"  Thank goodness Oz had a few minutes to spare to help print off the photos and help the boy finish the assignment, which, by the way, will be the first, last, and ONLY time we ever save his ass in this fashion.  I've told him since the beginning of school that he needs to complete all assignments the day he gets them, if possible, but now I think he finally understands why we crazy adults say things like this.

And just when I thought the day was settling down and things might get a little bit better… the shit REALLY hit the fan.

First, Doodlebug shoved a friend in jest, and the friend didn't like it, so the friend hit him, and Doodlebug hit him back… and both boys wound up getting suspended for two days.  *sigh*

And then I got thrown into a situation at work that wasn't good to begin with but which I probably shouldn't have been handling on my first full day up front, and things just absolutely snowballed.  By the end of it, I wound up apologizing to everyone on the entire front desk team as well as a couple of nurses in the back, and at this point, while everything *seems* to be smoothed over, we'll find out on Monday whether the company president is going to lower the boom or not.  And I hate inconveniencing others and getting them to try to cover for me.  Not their job.

I am very, very glad today is over and I have a weekend in between now and Monday.  I'll be back at the front desk on Monday, which I suppose is somewhat of a testament to the fact that folks at work must have at least some faith in me (the nurse I had to apologize to is also the one who writes the schedule for me each week), and Oz is going to meet with the vice principal regarding Doodlebug to see if we can't get his punishment either lessened or rescinded altogether.

Hope you all have had a better Friday than me!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

My Kids Are Smartybritches

My kids impress me.  They're both doing well in school.  In fact, they're doing so well that the following things have happened:

1.  Doodlebug's AR goal (the kids read books and take tests on them, which drives me batty but I did sign them up for school so I really can't gripe) will be raised for the next nine weeks.  His goal this nine weeks was something like 28 points, and he claims to currently be somewhere around 50.  So his goal next time will be higher.

2.  Boo will be IQ tested for the gifted program in the next week or two.  

3.  Doodlebug has been accepted onto the FIRST Lego League team for this school year.  One of the coaches is the school psychologist, which makes me insanely happy.  I like that guy.

4.  Boo has come home with certificates for various achievements, particularly in math for knowing her multiplication facts.

Yeah, I'm bragging a bit.  But considering how worried I was about their school performance, especially in Doodlebug's case, I think it's warranted.

I'm just pleased that they seem to be happy, making friends, and fitting in.  This has been a good move for us all.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Things I Have Learned

Occasionally people are surprised to discover my age.  The comment I hear most often is, "You look younger/that age, but you act so much older!" My current favorite is from a 22-year-old coworker who likes to tell me how 'wise' I am.

My closest friends are mostly older than I am, in two cases by more than 12 years.  I'm sure part of that is due to the fact that I married and had my children young, but I also like to think I have learned a lot out of life already.  I have also been told for many, many years that I have an "old soul."

Sometimes, though, the things I have picked up have come through hard experience… or are just plain fun.

Without further ado, I present to you a list of 10 random Friday thoughts about truths I have learned over the years.  Feel free to add your own!!

1.  Happiness cannot come from without.  You must find your own peace.

2 (aka 1a).  If you radiate happiness, it shows up as beauty.  The happiest people have the 'it' factor that makes the difference between someone plain and someone beautiful or handsome.

3.  That being said, expensive clothes and haircuts, if you can afford them, are worth every penny.  Clothes really can make the (wo)man.  They look better, fit better, and wear better.  Goodwill and consignment shops are my friends.

4.  The Joneses suck.  You aren't walking their path.  Walk your own and find others who can accept you as you are.

5.  People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.  Sometimes it's hard to know who is who until you're completely suicidal and sitting on your back porch with a blade and a beer.  The people you call in those moments?  They're the lifetimers.  I'm fortunate - I have several people on that list.

6.  People (remember the Joneses?) will judge you.  Judging them back accomplishes nothing.  Laugh (to yourself) at their insecurities and move on.

7.  Accept compliments politely.  Give them regularly.

8.  You are never done learning.  Even if you don't learn something from an academic standpoint, life will teach you things.

9.  Be passionate about at least one thing.  It's worth knowing one thing well.

10.  Everyone has stories.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Learning Curve

With every change in life comes a learning curve.  Everyone in my house is experiencing one right now, including the animals (the poor guppy puppy has to stay in the garage all day, and when the kids and I get home each day the cats - and dog - swarm us like we've been gone for years).

Boo is having the easiest time of it, in terms of the human equation.  She adores school and is making some good friends.  One friend in particular she wants to invite to go roller skating one day soon.  I'm pleased.  I'm also home each day before she arrives.

Doodlebug is doing surprisingly well.  His room is a pit (and believe me, this has been a problem since he was little, but at this point, Mama is about to completely lose it… I'm going to discuss this little entitlement issue we're having in another post soon), but in school he's supposedly doing okay.  I'm hoping that he's not just blowing smoke up my hind end when he comes home each day and announces that he has very little to no homework.  I guess we'll find out when the grades come out, but while I don't expect a ton of homework, I have expected more than he has.  Fingers crossed.  He does get bored each afternoon and attributes it to being home solo for a little while, which I suspect isn't quite the case as I think he would be bored regardless of whether or not an adult was present (sometimes Oz is home, and he's still bored), and he doesn't really like being up early early early each morning, but he's doing okay.

Oz is adjusting, too.  He's been supportive and helpful, taking kids to appointments and giving me foot rubs on those first few days when walking 8-10 miles a day was particularly hard on my system (don't get me wrong… it still ain't easy, but I'm adjusting).  He hasn't yet realized that me working also means he needs to actually clean something around the house since I'm not here all day to do it, but one step at a time.  He is at least helping with dinner on occasion and will sometimes do a load of laundry if I need him to.

And then there's me.  Going back to work has been good.  The learning curve there has been far steeper than the adjustment period from a home standpoint.  I've gotten quite good already (if I do say so myself) at doing the first job they had me learn, walking patients back to rooms.  At this point the clinicians like and are familiar with me, and I'm starting to memorize the doctors' schedules.  I certainly can tell you their locations in the clinic on any given day!  I can schedule appointments with relative ease, and I'm starting to learn some of the basics.  Now I just need to get up to the front desk for a full few days in a row and really tackle the system.  It'll be tough, especially since I'll be dealing with patients who are either ready to stop standing or ready to be out of the office, but thankfully most patients are patient.  Most.  I'm sure there will always be a few who aren't.  And I'll handle that, too.  I'm definitely ready for something new and for the new to become familiar.

I think we all are.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Giving Up and Getting Real

It's interesting to me how people sometimes seem to change when really, maybe, some things have been a fa├žade all along.

Shit's about to get real here.  Hang onto your asses. ;)

-----

I never planned to get married.  I never planned to have kids.  Do I regret doing either one of those things?  Of course I don't.  But when I DID get married and I DID have kids, I was so young.  I was 18 (married), 20 (Doodlebug), 22 (Boo).  I had these ideals and mental pictures of what wifehood and motherhood were 'supposed' to be that I completely buried who and what I actually AM.

When Boo asked to return to public school and when I decided to send Doodlebug as well, a lot of those old feelings bubbled up to the surface, and I realized that for so very, very long, I had been wearing a mask.  Homeschooling the kids was definitely something that needed to happen, particularly for Doodlebug, but with that gone, I felt both free and trapped.

I was free to be who I was… but who was that... and could I still be that person and do what else needed to be done… i.e. could I still do what I was 'supposed' to do?

That one question, with all its multiple parts, sent me into a tailspin and, I suspect, triggered the depression that I battled for months.  It was ugly with a depth that I haven't seen since I was 14 and 15 years old.  I shared some of that battle with you all, and I'm very glad that it's over.  I'm sure it'll come back at some point, but I still have a very solid group of friends who have my back, and I'm grateful for them always.

As I began to question everything, I dug deep.  Very deep.  And I realized that in order to really be happy - truly, unmistakably HAPPY - some very big things were going to have to change.  I realized that I needed to stop apologizing for a lot of things, to begin with.  I've spent years feeling bad for being the person that I am at my core.  And guess what?  The minute I started letting SOME of my feelings out, they ALL came out.

I knew I wanted a job - I had always intended to be a career woman, and while I may not be able to accomplish the same goals that I had when I was young, I can still have a career.  I'm young enough for that.  I knew I wanted to give up some things - gardening, keeping a pristine house (that happened out of boredom before I had kids, and I won't have time to be bored now), and otherwise keeping up with the Susie Homemaker Joneses.  I'm getting rid of my canning equipment, because as much as everyone in the house loves my peach preserves and I did have fun doing it a couple of times, it's exhausting and it's the middle of summer and I like air conditioning more than slaving over a boiling pot!  If I'm still in this house next spring (long story, just go with it… I'm keeping the details out of public arenas, thanks), I intend for some of my income to pay for a lawn service, and they can take care of the garden areas.  I can apparently grow roses by sticking them into the ground and ignoring them altogether, but everything else?  Not so much.  As much as I love the idea of having a gorgeous garden with tons of healing and cooking herbs, I'll never have the enthusiasm to maintain it year-round.  I might grow some things in containers, but even that will be subject to my whims and caprices.

I digress… as I do.

I also realized that I love some things and will continue doing them… on my own terms.  I still like cooking, for example, and want to do that when I have time.  I love love love having people over and going out with my friends.  I even like going to the gym (also when I have time).  I still love reading, and I'll never give that up.

But defining who I am and what I want to do (and not do) means that everyone around me has to get used to this 'new' me… and, of course, sometimes that comes easily and sometimes it doesn't.  I know some people believe that I've lost my mind and gone absolutely crazy.  Other folks have thoroughly embraced my need to come out of my cocoon.  It's been hardest on Oz, for many reasons.

A few days ago, I finally got angry.  Oz was out of town, but he still bore the brunt of it.  I defined exactly what needed to happen over the next few months while I finish my transformation, and I informed him that if he couldn't handle it to let me know.  It might be harsh, but I feel like I've compromised for too many years, and I don't want to do that any more.

So we shall see.  The kids are still happy - I haven't changed much as far as their care and well-being are concerned - and one day at a time, I am becoming happier, too.  The final steps are within reach; we'll see what they are.  It's definitely an exciting adventure, and it's one I'm glad to finally be taking on my own behalf.  It's long, long overdue.