Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pictures!!

I haven't taken a picture in forever.  I uploaded photos onto my computer today and realized that the last time my camera saw the light of day was Christmas.

That's a long time, folks!!  

However, there was a photo op yesterday that presented itself, and I simply couldn't resist:



That's right.  M1 got his new reading glasses.  I wanted to wait until I got home to take a picture of him, but when I saw him sitting in the back seat of the van reading, I couldn't resist.

He loves his new glasses; he uses them!  This is a big contrast to when he was 2 and we tried glasses and he spent 98% of his time looking OVER them instead of through them.  This is largely why he wound up having surgery... because the glasses were ineffective.

I can't quit grinning at him every time I see him with his glasses on.  I can't stop grinning because they make him look so different.  It reminds me so much of when he was teeny-tiny:

Two-year-old M1

I just can't help myself.  He's less than thrilled that I figured out how to scan, edit, and upload photos using our printer and my computer, but he'll live.  I just couldn't pass up this opportunity to show how much he's changed... and how much he hasn't!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Unwinding

I don't feel well today, and part of that, I'm sure, has to do with the fact that the last two weeks have been incredibly crappy and I'm sure the stress is just now trickling down into my system.

I read this Onion article yesterday (warning: It's The Onion... there is profanity and plenty of it), and while it made me laugh, it also made me a little sad.

I miss my girls.  I miss going out.  I had dinner with one friend last week, and it made me remember how much I love going out with half a dozen women and spending the evening laughing so hard we cry.

I haven't done that in far, far too long.

Part of that is my own fault, of course.  I'm really good at making excuses rather than plans.  When evening rolls around, I'm worn out.  I want to read.  I want to take a shower and climb into my pajamas at 7:30 p.m. and watch old movies.  Whatever.  I have a good chunk of introverted nature that is quite happy to never go anywhere.

I also have a good chunk of extroverted nature that withers when I go too long without seeing my friends.

The biggest problem is that my friends and I are all busy moms.  We thought it was hard to escape when our kids were tiny and needed us "all the time," but really, they didn't need us that often.  It just seemed that way.  In reality, that was the easy time to get away.  The kids didn't have sports events in the evenings.  They went to bed earlier.  They didn't have homework.  Heck, even meals were simpler because when a child is 3, you can put a bowls of pasta and steamed veggies in front of them and they think they're at a 5-star restaurant.  Now?  Not so much.  I have to fix a main dish and at least one side dish per meal or someone's going hungry... and that pasta better come with a sauce, and the veggies better have some seasoning on them.  And all that means there are more dishes, more ingredients, and more effort involved.  The amount of food my family of four goes through each week is staggering.

But that's another post.

I've heard rumors that when the kids get a little more independent, so do the parents.  My best friend and I talk incessantly about being able to go to the gym together.  I dream of morning coffee dates and going to the grocery store during daylight hours... without someone coming along to "help."  I can't wait until I can make a doctor's appointment and not have to consider child care into the matter.

It may be that I am incredibly optimistic.

I'm not saying I want to be one of those 30-something-year-old moms who still think they're 21 and can drink, dress, and act like it.  Far from it.  But I'd be quite happy to be one of those 30-something-year-old moms who meets up with her friends at a local restaurant for dinner and a few drinks once in a while.  I just need to unwind.

And soon.  Before we all implode.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Beetlejuice, Betelgeuse, Be...

An anecdote to begin:

Tonight, before dinner, I mentioned that a friend's daughter had wanted a Beetlejuice-themed birthday.

M1, who was sitting on the couch listening to me talk, raised his hand.  I could see the gears turning in his head and acknowledged him.

"Betelgeuse?" he inquired.

"The movie, not the star."

"Oh."

-------

Obviously the kid is learning (or has learned) something.  This time of year, I always like to review what I had planned for the year and see where we stand.  I could follow the state standards - and to some extent, I do - but really, I like to write my own goals and go from there.

To that end, I think we're doing pretty well.  Below is how things stand currently as well as my tentative plan for next year, including what I think I'll use with M2:

Language Arts:  We've pretty well covered our goals already.  I'm reviewing/reinforcing a few topics, and sometime in April I plan to start work on a Powerpoint report.  We'll work on that off and on until the end of the year.  We did stop using Writing Strands a few weeks ago.  The instructions in those books are quite vague, and M1 was really getting frustrated.  Since I really wanted to start a review anyway, I ordered Winning With Writing, and he's having a lot of fun with it.  We're still using Handwriting Without Tears for cursive writing, First Language Lessons for grammar, and Spelling Workout for spelling.  He just started book E in that series.

He seems quite happy with our language arts selections, and I plan to continue with everything listed above (we'll see where we wind up with Writing Strands, but I hope to use it every now and then to reinforce concepts) for next year.  For M2, we'll do things a little differently.  She'll use Handwriting Without Tears, First Language Lessons, and Spelling Workout, though at different levels, of course, but I plan to use Writing With Ease for writing.  I used it with M1, and he hated it, but M2 is a different creature, and I really think she'll like it.  Plus it takes a lot of teacher involvement, and if there's one thing that the girl will need to learn to write well, it's attention and the ability to talk everything out.  Girl does love the sound of her own voice.

Math: I need to hit a few of our goals in more depth before the end of the school year, but I don't think that'll be a problem.  He's 2/3 of the way through Math-U-See Delta right now, which means the division problems are getting more difficult, which means he'll need to slow down... all of which means that he'll want to take some breaks and I'll be able to hit those problem spots again without much problem or delay.  He is familiar with basic fractions, congruency, reading charts, and calculator use, but I want to review symmetry, pattern-finding, creating charts, and reading percentages before the end of the school year.

We'll continue with Math-U-See for him as long as he likes it.  He really does well with it, and since it does continue all the way through calculus, I see no reason to change.  M2 will not be using the same curriculum.  She'll be using Math Mammoth, since the idea of black-and-white pages in a mastery curriculum setting bores her to tears.  A bonus with Math Mammoth is that a lot of the work can be done independently, so when Lil' Miss wants to do extra pages, I don't necessarily have to sit with her.

History and Science:  Goals met.  No changes to be made.  We'll continue with Story of the World Vol. IV and Elemental Science physics next year, for both kids.  I'm sure M1 will gripe when he realizes that he's doing quite a bit more work than M2, but he'll live. ;)

So that's the update in a nutshell.  I'm pretty happy with where we are right now and am proud of the steps that M1 has made this year.  I'm excited for next fall already and can't wait to have both my kiddos home!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dodging Bullets

Monday was lovely.  Truly lovely.  And then Monday and Tuesday got together and ganged up for what is truly one of the worst Valentine's Days I've had in... ever?  It wasn't pretty, though I did get a box of chocolates, a couple of cards, and a dozen beautiful roses to make me feel better.  Mostly I felt like all Oz and I have done for the past couple of days is dodge bullets and snatch sleep when we can.

Bullet #1:  Oz's stepfather is in the hospital.  He is not in good health.  Most of his issues are due to some very poor choices he has made in his own life, but I still dread the day when he passes and we have to tell the kids that Papa is gone.  He's supposed to see a nephrologist and possibly go home today, though.

Bullet #2:  Oz's grandmother had to go back to the hospital yesterday.  She was in the hospital all last week having biopsies done (see Bullet #3) and Oz only took her home on Sunday.  However, she was feeling very ill, so Oz took her to the doctor yesterday.  He drained some fluid, ran a few tests, then sent her to the ER.  There, she had a few more tests done, including a CT, before they decided to admit her.  I haven't heard anything yet today, but in my world, no news is good news.

Bullet #3:  Oz's grandmother's biopsies came back benign for cancer.  She's had cancer before, so we were all pretty concerned.  This is a big bullet to dodge.

Bullet #4:  Yesterday I caught M1 covering his left eye while he did his schoolwork.  I've seen him do this before, but usually when I ask him to uncover it, he claims he didn't know he was doing it and it doesn't happen again.  Yesterday he whined at me and promptly stuck his hand back over his eye.  So I asked him to close his right eye and look at me and tell me how many fingers I was holding up.  He couldn't tell me - he said there was "two sets of everything."  Not good.  I called the pediatric ophthalmologist, and apparently a kid seeing double out of one eye isn't considered a good thing, because I'll be darned if they didn't offer me an opening yesterday afternoon, which I declined.  They found us a time slot this morning.  I was honestly expecting to go in there and hear the word 'surgery.'  I really was.  I figured that the double vision was a symptom of M1's strabismus recurring, which isn't uncommon.  Turns out that it IS a symptom of recurrence, but since it's only in the one eye and not severe, the doctor just gave us a prescription for a pair of reading glasses for M1.  He says that when M1 looks at something far away, his strabismus is minimal - within the accepted range for kids who have had surgery.  However, when he's reading something close up, his left eye turns inward just enough more that it's out of the standard range, which means it can mess with his head... and when he looks up from reading, it takes a while for the 'normal' vision to come back.  We're not totally out of the surgical woods yet, but the doctor wants to see if he can make it to puberty before doing another surgery, since sometimes the sudden growth spurts can cause the vision to correct itself.  I'll take the glasses.  They sound good to me.

Bullet #5:  The weather.  I'm grateful for the snow day that we had, and I'm grateful that there wasn't a lot of ice.  Icy roads are nasty.

Bullet #6:  M2 has been very anti-practicing with her violin lately.  She's not inclined to try very hard when she does play, and she is inclined to have a meltdown at the drop of a hat if I dare to correct her while she's playing.  So last week her teacher suggested that she and M2 have a contest to see who could reach 20 days of practicing first.  The 'loser' of the contest had to buy the other an ice cream cone or drink from Sonic.  M2 was agreeable.  For 48 hours.  Then she decided not to practice.  Then she decided not to practice the following day.  By the time we had another lesson yesterday, she only had 4 stickers on her chart, one of which was her lesson and one of which was rather dubiously earned.  She was quite confident that she'd lost (and was completely undaunted by this).  Lo and behold, however, the teacher only had four stickers on her chart as well.  The game is still on.

In the grand scheme of things, most of these bullets are rather minor, I know.  I have plenty of friends who are dealing with much bigger issues.  But sometimes you just have to get it all out of your system, KWIM?

I'll be doing a school-year review in the next week or so.  It's been a while.  I might even dig out the camera and take photos!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Snow Day

Today is a snow day.  This seems laughable given the fact that the ground is, at this point, only about 50% covered at ALL and the roads have been fine nearly all day.  However, I think the teachers were looking forward to a snow day at least as much as the kids, so quite a few schools took the day off.

I couldn't have been happier to have the house phone ring at 5:45 a.m.

The kids and I rolled out of bed and really got moving around 9.  I'm sure Oz will kill me when he reads that since he got up, got dressed, made coffee, and left before the rest of us even considered waking up... but the truth is what it is.

I got things started right by releasing the chickens and making sure they had plenty of food.  I started laundry, cleaned litter boxes, and then... then I fixed brunch.  I made a recipe that I'd stashed on a board on Pinterest (it's called cinnamon roll pulls, and you can find a link to it on my board here).  I served over-medium fried eggs and fresh strawberries with it, and we ate quite happily.  I told M1 that he was NOT having a full snow day since the kids got along amazingly well yesterday and I am not about to tempt that sort of fate by allowing the kids two do-nothing days in a row, so I sat him down with some writing and math to keep him busy.  He did that, and then the kids scampered outside to make "snow circles" (small circular walls made of snow) while I turned the hallway into another Pinterest creation (see previous link) involving yarn and tape.  The kids were ecstatic when they came back inside, snowy wet shoes and all, to discover the hall had been turned into a "laser grid" obstacle course.  That killed at least half an hour, at the end of which screaming was about to commence because M1 decided that he needed to rearrange the course to make it harder... so hard, in fact, that he couldn't get out of it and neither could M2, who was the one doing the screaming.

Cue time for school, round 2!  M2 participated in this round.  I read history while M1 did a corresponding coloring page and M2 signed all her Valentines for her class party tomorrow; they created their own version of a Bayeux Tapestry with memories of their choosing; and they did a science experiment involving one cup of hot water, one cup of cold water, and blue food coloring (M1 was shocked at how much faster the dye spread through the hot than the cold - he had anticipated the results, but not quite so dramatically).

At the moment, M1 is practicing piano while M2 is dusting her room.  In a few minutes, M1 will join her in the room-cleaning endeavor.  Then we'll all fold laundry.  Once those chores are done, it'll be time for hot cocoa and a movie.

By the time that's over, I'll be in the kitchen fixing beef-barley-Brussels sprout stew and rolls, and the day will come to an end.  In theory, all shall remain pleasant.

We never really sit still around here, and I didn't even get done some of the things I had planned today (glow-in-the-black-light Jell-O, anyone?), but all in all, I think it's been a very successful snow day!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Quelle Week

I'm channeling my inner Hepburn today.  I'm not the world's biggest "Breakfast at Tiffany's" fan, but I did like the movie and do enjoy the randomness of the word "quelle" that gets inserted throughout.

It's been a crazy week around here.  It started on Monday when the roofers arrived... and so did a massive cold virus.  M1 was the one struck (I suspect he picked up the germs from a boy on the swim team who came to practice with a similar cold last week), so he's been snot-ridden and germ-laden all week.  My resolution not to do any house-cleaning flew out the window as soon as the Kleenex started piling up.  The cold also killed my plans for getting out of the house with the boy while the roofers were working.  It's hard for a mom to drag a coughing, snotty, mildly asthmatic boy into Starbucks with a good conscience.

However, I think that M1 is on the mend.  He's still coughing, though not as much, and he's on antibiotics AND probiotics.  He nearly slept through the night last night, too.  This may have actually been detrimental to his brain function, though I'm not sure how, because this is the first day all week he's been unable to concentrate on his school work.  I'm going to take him to his swimming lesson but not let him stay for team since he's still struggling to breathe clearly.

The roof is done now, too, and Oz and I cleaned all the garbage out of the garage and shed while we had the dumpster on our premises. It was kind of awesome (in the truly awed sense of the word) how much crap we had to get rid of.  There were things like my parents' bicycles, tons of computer towers and speakers, all the old pool gear, etc.  We filled that sucker up.  We're going to keep working on the house, one thing at a time, and my fingers are crossed that we can list it by Spring Break.  We've already found the perfect house, but of course it's off the market.  It may be a rental property right now, though, and they may be de-listing it during the first few months of each lease.  That's my optimistic hope.  If not, I'm sure our perfect house is out there somewhere.  I'm just impatient.

I'm going to go to Zumba with a friend tonight.  This ought to be interesting.  I haven't been to a real gym EVER (Curves doesn't count), and I haven't been to Zumba, either.  I'm just hopeful that I don't fall on my butt.  I WILL be hiding in the back.

This weekend I'll be working M2's school trivia night.  There are promises of beer and margaritas while we're working, so I'm almost looking forward to it and am hopeful that I can somehow finagle the job of bartender.  I'd much rather do that than wait tables.  But we shall see.

Off to take the boy to swim.  Gotta change into real pants first.  I tend not to let everyone else see how I really dress at home. ;)  Have a great week, y'all!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Today

Today...

... we are getting a new roof put on the house.  Roofing is noisy.  I knew this and was mentally prepared for it, but you can't prepare six cats for a roofing crew.  They are slinking around the house waiting for the sky to fall, ears permanently back and in the "oh, shit" position.  Every time the crew moves to a new location, the cats go, too, to see if they can finally figure out what the heck is going on around here.

... I am going to muck out the chicken coop.  It will be dirty.  It will be gross.  It will be DONE.

... I am doing five loads of laundry.  It's Monday.  Laundry happens.

... is the start of a very long week.  The kids got to bed late last night due to the Super Bowl, so they are tired today.  M1 keeps begging for a nap, and M2 was quiet and teary-eyed when I dropped her off at school.  By the time Saturday rolls around, we'll all desperately be in need of a weekend (which we won't get, because Oz is working on Saturday and I'm supposed to be at the school Saturday evening for their annual trivia night).

... I plan to exercise.  As if mucking out a chicken coop wasn't exercise enough.  I'd like to have some semblance of a waist again, preferably before my birthday in April.  (You may laugh now.)

... I am grateful for my husband who lined up the roofing crew and busted his hump over the weekend to work on some of the projects that have to be completed before we can list the house.  I feel like a horrible layabout compared to him, but in the back of my mind I know that when the time actually comes to have the house on the market, it'll be my turn to make sure that everything is shipshape all the time so that showings can happen when they need to happen.  And while that's a different kind of work, it is work.

... I'm procrastinating on doing all of the above.  That's really what I do best!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Plodding Onward

I haven't posted anything in a few days, and unless something significant happens (it's supposed to rain tomorrow... around here, that may count as significant), I probably won't be posting much anytime soon.  It's not that I'm avoiding my blog or anything; I just don't have much worth posting.  Ever feel like your life is incredibly boring and is really only useful as a giant time-suck in which all good things go to die?

Yeah.  I'm there.

The chickens are... chickens.  The mice that have invaded their coop have multiplied to the point of truly gross.  I suspect they're gathering forces and plotting a coup and eventually I'll be raising mice instead of birds.  I'm going to get in there this weekend, muck everything out, and set some sticky traps underneath the coop itself.  I may pull the food out entirely and feed the birds in the yard every few hours.  Of course, I'll have to remember to do that, and I'll have to make sure that Speed Bump, the Dog Who Eats Everything, is in the house when I feed, but if it gets rid of the mice, then so be it.

The cats are good.  The Old Man Cat's giant cyst has pretty well disappeared.  You can see where it was, of course, but it isn't completely disgusting any more.  Now he's decided to scratch all the fur off his neck (I gave him flea meds, so I know it's not that).  He may be due for another trip back to the vet here soon.  The rest of the cats are fine.  Insane, but fine.  Demanding, but fine.

M1 is doing well.  He has problems focusing, but they're intermittent.  Wednesdays and Fridays are the worst, but I think I've worked out why: He gets worn out swimming on Tuesdays and Thursdays but refuses to go to sleep when he goes to bed, so then he's tired and sore the next day.  It makes for some long school days.  He's done really well this week, and it's been nice.

M2 is another story.  Two days after our last therapy visit, she flipped.  She'd been doing really well since mid-November, and before that her stint as a complete butt monkey hadn't lasted very long, so I had thought she was making progress and that maybe her moodiness was just a phase and it was all in my mind.  But no... she was just in between cycles.  Or something.  Ironically, since she'd been doing so well, we'd more or less decided to stop going to therapy.  Now?  Well, I can't get her to use the therapy tools she already has, so I still don't see the point in going back, but it's very tempting to make the appointment, dump her in the chair, rant to the therapist, throw my hands up and walk out.  I won't, of course, but the idea has mental merit.  She stomps, screams, refuses to budge, and is otherwise completely obtuse every time something doesn't go her way or messes with her plans.  She's never been the boss of the household in her life, and I'm not about to start letting her have that role now, but good grief.  Last night she managed to dunk her hair into her bowl of soup, so I told her she needed to wash her hair.  Forty-five minutes later, I literally dragged her to the bathroom.  After that, she refused to let me tuck her into bed (fine by me) before bursting into tears and self-imploding about how horrible a person she was.  She's decided she doesn't want Oz to take her to school any more.  She doesn't want to practice violin very often.  She doesn't want to do X, Y or Z, and all the begging and bribery in the world won't make her budge.  I have to admit I hope she can channel this persistence into adulthood, because if she could use it in a positive way it'd be incredibly effective, but for now it's a real pain in the rear.

The gerbil still lives.

The dogs are currently asleep on the floor.

Oz is at work, doing what he does and bringing home the bacon.  His birthday was this last weekend.  I got him the new Zelda game and hope to take him on a trip sometime this year.

And as for me?  Well, I'm just hanging in there, trying to keep it all together, get it all done, and occasionally learn something new in the process.  One day at a time...