Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer, So Far

I'm typing this with glitter-painted fingernails; my toenails are light pink.  M2 has red toenails and fingernails coated in a shimmery silver.

There's a painting sitting on the end table next to me.  It was originally declared to be a portrait of me, but this was later altered to be Granny (my mom) because the "golden" (yellow) tempera paint container was empty and M2 had to go with brown instead.  Plus the hair was really big and the shirt was purple.  I must say, the picture does work if you consider it a cartoon of my mother.

The curriculum cabinet has been cleaned out and restocked with the books we'll need in July, and I consolidated all the art/science supplies from two cabinets into one closet.  This only works as long as we have a storage unit that houses all my wreaths for the front door and winter coats, but never mind.  Hopefully we'll move soon and it'll all be moot.  

I dream.

There are orange-juice popsicles in my freezer that M2 and I made, and there's a bag of chocolate chips in my pantry so M1 can make cookies tomorrow.  Next week the kids are excited about helping me make an Indian meal.  I'm going to make the curry, but M1 is making the naan and M2 is going to make raita.

Library books adorn various tables throughout the house.  The kids have been extremely diligent to select some books that meet my "reading level" requirement for the summer reading program.  I'm happy to let them check out whatever they want, but brain candy books don't make it on the official summer reading program list.  Since they have all summer to read 20 books, this isn't a big deal for either one.

I need to go purchase a swimsuit sometime this weekend so that as soon as M1 is ungrounded (he's been really good so far and has earned several privileges back, including snack time and his evening read-aloud time) we can hit the pool.

M2 will be getting her first pair of glasses next week.  On Tuesday, I discovered that she needed to sit forward and squint to read a document on my computer when she was practically sitting on my lap.  On Wednesday we visited the optometrist, who said that her vision wasn't horrible but that if she was having symptoms (and the accompanying headaches and blurry vision from strain) he would recommend glasses.  M2 picked out a pair of cute mauve frames and is excited that the letters in her books won't be "too close together" any more.

We haven't seen too many people yet, but it's still early in the season.  It's been good to see the folks we have, and I'm looking forward to what happens next!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Crystal Bridges

I finally got around to emptying the SD card in my camera tonight.  A few weeks ago - the weekend after we listed the house, to be exact - the four of us piled in the car and took a trip to Crystal Bridges, an almost-brand-new free-to-visit art gallery/museum in NW Arkansas.

It was well worth the drive, if I may say so.  We paid a few bucks to see their current traveling exhibition, which brought the total to $10 for all four of us ($5 for adults and kids under 18 are still free).  Our favorite part, though?  The grounds.  They were beautiful.  There was live music (really good music, too!) in a small amphitheater located in a woodsy area near the museum.  There were water features and beautiful garden areas.  It was all very picturesque... I hope I was able to do some of it justice.  Enjoy!









Monday, May 28, 2012

Summer is NOT a Picnic

This was supposed to be the first week of summer vacation.  I had several things mentally planned - splash pad, blueberry picking, maybe a trip to the pool.  But around 7 o'clock tonight, M1 changed our plans for us.  He is grounded for the duration of the week.  Unless someone can come up with a more inventive punishment for what he did, anyway... I'm fresh out of ideas.

I had gone outside to water some garden transplants that we'd picked up from my dad's house this afternoon; Oz came out just as I was finishing up so he could mow the lawn.  I walked into the house less than a minute after Oz came out and was greeted by a panicked girl:  "MOM, M1 climbed onto the coffee table and jumped onto the couch!"

My first reaction was to make sure that nothing broke - our coffee table has a glass top, and somehow I doubt it's been built to withstand 90-some-odd pounds of boy jumping off of it.  "Is he hurt?"

"No, it didn't break.  But he thinks it's funny... and he almost landed on me!"

Thank heaven for small mercies... but what do you do with a child who deliberately waits for the minute he thinks he can get away with things like this... and then DOES them??  Clearly he's not ready to be left alone in the house, not even for a minute.  And I could 'tomato stake' him, but I'm also not up for that level of personal torture.  I love my kids, love being around them... not my philosophical cuppa tea.  So he's grounded.

Oh, he'll get to come out for certain things - chores, meals, bathroom breaks, errands and previously-planned engagements such as a field trip to the local animal shelter.  And if he demonstrates good behavior, I'm happy to let him earn rewards like listening to our read-aloud in the evening or 30 minutes of playtime with his sister.  By and large, however, his week won't be the fun-filled time it could have been.

He does know better.  The minute I hollered his first, middle and last name, he knew what he was in for.  He's never been punished so harshly for anything EVER, and that's saying something, because he's done some really stupid things in the past, like the time he drilled a hole through his bedroom closet wall and into his sister's room with a drumstick or the time he put a rubber band around a cat's paw and forgot about it or the time he carved tic-tac-toe grids into the headboard of his bed using a screwdriver or the time he peed in his nightstand drawer, but I'm really, REALLY sick and tired of dealing with it, especially because these days I get not only the misbehavior but also the "I don't care/you can't make me/it's all your fault" brattitude that goes along with it.  The only rule in this house that I've ever insisted that the kids follow 100% of the time is the Golden Rule, and even he admitted that he wouldn't want me jumping off of his furniture if he'd paid for it, and he sure wouldn't like it if I disobeyed him the minute his back was turned.

Argh.  The logic makes it from the brain to the mouth, but it never makes it from brain to musculoskeletal system.

It'd be really easy for me to stop and say that it's all due to his ADHD or his Asperger's or whatever, but that'd be a load of crap.  His ADHD is medicated to the point that he can choose his behavior, and his Asperger's has no bearing whatsoever on the current incident other than he really doesn't care about anything outside of his own little Circle of Me.

So he's grounded.

M2 and I are going to have a great mother-daughter week!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Storage Wars - The Homeschool Edition

Today is M2's last day of school.  Most of the other area schools have been out for a week; some got out yesterday.  Usually her school doesn't get out until after Memorial Day, but since we didn't have a winter this year, we had snow days to delete from the calendar.

I plan to start our 2012-2013 school year in July.  Our only state requirement is that we meet 180 days of instruction, and I've worked out a beautiful-to-us school calendar that starts in July and ends in early May.  We'll have breaks throughout the year - I think our longest continuous stretch of school is the initial 8 weeks - and still have a couple months of summer vacation to enjoy the weather and see friends who get out of school in mid-May.  Plus I've scheduled it so all our school weeks are five-day weeks.  I hate three- and four-day school weeks.  Personal pet peeve.

Yesterday I tackled the homeschool cabinet.  I got rid of completed workbooks and complementary teacher's manuals that I wouldn't be using again (and also mistakenly pitched the FLL3 teacher's manual, so when M2 needs it I'll have to order another copy... some days I swear my brain has gone AWOL), emptied binders (I saved a few things but really not much), and otherwise purged as much as possible.  The sack of paper that I took to the recycling bin this morning was appalling.  I had to remind myself that for 9 months of work, it wasn't bad.  I thought I did a good job getting rid of everything that I did.

But then I looked at the space I emptied and thought, "Crap."

There is no possible way, in the physical world that we occupy, that I am going to fit next year's curricula into the now-vacant spots on the bookshelf.  How come nobody told me that homeschooling two kids would require twice the space??  I thought I did a good job of doubling up on subjects when possible, but I guess it doesn't matter.

For now, all of the curriculum I've purchased has been stored in my bedroom.  I should have realized when it took an entire shelf of MY bookcase that it would take an entire shelf in the homeschool bookcase, too, but I guess I never did put 2 and 2 together, though I'm reasonably sure that the books have secretly multiplied and 2 and 2 now make 5.  Either that or I did some fuzzy math when I ordered everything and rounded it all to the nearest hundred, so any purchase less than $50 got rounded to zero and therefore didn't mentally exist.  Yes... that must be it.

Regardless, it ain't all gonna fit where it's s'posed to.

Clearly we still need to move.

And I also need to quit procrastinating and get cracking on lesson plans.  Nobody told me that lesson plans for two kids takes twice as long, too.  Those of you with 3+ kids (or teachers who deal with entire classrooms of kids who may be advanced, average, and remedial, and you never know what you're getting) have my utmost admiration.  In the time it usually takes me to do half of the total lesson planning for an entire year, I managed to complete half a year's worth... of one subject.

This learning curve is killing me.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Oh, Those 'Tween Attitudes

If I didn't know better, I'd honestly wonder about M1 lately.  I've heard other moms talk about the moodiness that can accompany the advent of hormones, and since I remember my teenage years I really had believed them, but in parenting you never really know anything until you experience it for yourself.

A few weeks ago, M1 stormed down the hall and hollered back at me, "YOU RUIN EVERYTHING!!!!"

If this had come out of M2's mouth, I wouldn't have blinked, but since it came out of M1, it was a bit surprising.

With the attitude has also come the boredom.  It's very specific boredom, too - the kind of boredom that can only be alleviated by certain activities... specifically, watching TV or playing on the computer.  It most definitely can't be helped by doing chores (heaven help the person who even thinks about bringing that up as an option) or playing with siblings, and using his imagination is also deemed 'babyish.'  While he's never been the type to spend a lot of time using his imagination in play, he used to enjoy playing campground with his sister in the hallway.  Now, everything depends on his mood.

This isn't to say he can't be pleasant, of course.  He can be.  The other night he crawled onto my lap, snuggled up, and begged to be cuddled.  Cuddling a roughly 5'2", 90-something-pound 9 1/2-year-old is not easy, but I'll be damned if I'm going to say no to my boy when he asks to be treated like a wee baby instead of a young man.

He had been keeping his attitude problems private; however, these issues are slowly but surely becoming public as well as private.  He snarled at me during a family barbecue last Sunday, which earned him a quick pop back into reality, and today when we went to a birthday party for one of M2's little girlfriends, the boredom and attitude combined.  Within five minutes, he had parked himself at my shoulder and declared himself all done.  When I separated him to talk about some ideas about what to do, all he really wanted to do was whine.  The birthday girl's dad heard me and came over to investigate.  He came up with several activity ideas, all of which M1 rejected.

I smiled at the dad's frustration.  "It's okay," I assured him. "It's just that he's 9 and bound and determined to be bored and drag the rest of us down with him.  I ruin his life on a regular basis these days."

The dad nodded and smiled back, only slightly reassured, before he left me to deal with M1 on my own.  It took a little bit, but after a while, M1 did snap out of it and actually participated in the party, playing with some of the girls and the other two boys present.

This whole back and forth thing is disconcerting, but I guess it's better than a total swap all at once.  A slow transition is definitely better.  Teen years, here we come!

Friday, May 18, 2012

It Starts with Shaving Cream

Summer vacation is here... for M1, at least.  Due to poor scheduling on my part, M1 is done a week earlier than planned (I could keep him going for another week, but we've reached the end of various books and are at good stopping points in others, so I'm not going to torture myself any more than I already am these days by creating something for the sake of busy work) and M2 has one more week of school remaining.  We're not telling her this, of course, but M1 is allowed to be secretly ecstatic about the fact that he's all done.

I can't say I'm far behind.  We're in desperate need of a break here. (Ideally this involves me escaping the house, and possibly the state, altogether, but that's probably being entirely too optimistic.)

M1 worked on his model ship for a while, but then was prowling the house for things to do this afternoon and came across a can of shaving cream in the hall closet.

"Can we play with this today?" he asked, holding out the can for me to see.

I agreed.  Little did I know what I was in for.  I've let them play with shaving cream before, and it's always interesting to me to watch their personalities come out - M1, being the sensory avoider, sticks in one finger or one hand at a time until he gets comfortable and M2, being the sensory seeker, dives in up to her elbows as soon as the pan is set in front of her.  But today M1 got a little looney and before I knew what was happening, he had shaving cream in his hair, her hair, all over both their outfits, and they couldn't help but step in it in the grass, either.

Right after everything and everyone got properly messy, M1 announced, "I need to pee!"

Of course he did.  And didn't the tree in the back yard need a little bit o' watering today, anyway?  I thought so, too.

One day this weekend we'll sit down and watch "The Never-Ending Story."  We'll go to a friend's birthday party and I'll have a tea with some of my friends and start summer off right.  It might not be quite summer vacation for everyone yet, but I think we're done here.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Stress

I do not deal well with insane amounts of stress.  And I'm pretty sure that having my house on the market is one of the most stressful things I've ever done, second only to giving birth to my son.  (I don't even remember the first three months of his life, with two significant exceptions [going out to eat one evening and bawling my eyes out while sitting on the ramp that leads up to our shed door because Oz ordered me to get out of the house and that was the only place I could think to go].)

Anyway, the house has been on the market nearly three weeks now.  We've had a few showings and we've seen several people stop in front of the house and call the number to hear the recording.  I'm hopeful that the couple that pulled into the driveway yesterday will call, because we actually talked to them a little bit about the place and they seemed enthusiastic, but we'll see.  I'm probably being overly optimistic.

Oz keeps reminding me that it's likely the house will be on the market for months and that we need to be in it for the long haul, but since I'm a SERIOUSLY Type A perfectionist, I can already see the toll that that is going to have on me.

For one, I've started picking mercilessly at my arms and upper chest.  I look like some sort of weird crack addict who uses her forearms and sternum instead of her elbow to shoot up and am giving serious thought to wearing long-sleeved turtlenecks all summer if I can't break this habit.  My eyebrows are suffering, too, from where I keep tugging at them.  Trichotillomania, anyone??

Two, I've been randomly breaking down at various intervals.  After the showing yesterday, we didn't hear back from the realtor until Oz texted her later in the evening, and between him texting her and her reply, my stomach was so upset that I wondered a few times if I was actually going to be ill.  After we finally heard back (the clients needed a larger kitchen and dining area, but they considered the place seriously and stayed a while, apparently), I broke down and cried just from the relief of knowing.  This came after frantically cleaning the house for a good chunk of the morning and a fair bit of the previous day, too.

The kids (and Oz... and if I'm honest, me) are tired of Mommy being all stressed out.  M2 keeps telling me to quit putting so much pressure on myself (that would be the pot calling the kettle black, but I do know she's right) and M1 gets to see the panicked, snippy side of me more often than usual.  Oz is a rock and tries to talk me down, but it's pretty much useless.

I hate that having the house on the market is having such a negative impact on me and, by default, my family.  I really do.  I wish that I could just let things go and have some faith that things will all work out eventually, like Oz does.  But I'm also starting to think that someone just needs to pass the me the Xanax until it's all over.  At this point, I'd take not caring about anything for a while.  It sounds like a lovely break.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Spring is for Trips

I think I mentioned that M2 had a field trip in another town this week.  This was the last one she'll be taking with her class at this school!  Because I wasn't feeling the love for meeting everyone at the school at 7:30 a.m. and making a 2-hour trek with a caravan of other vehicles, I called up my mother and begged her to let us crash at her house for the night.  Two hour drive with everyone else, or 35-minute drive after a leisurely trip to Starbucks?  Darn skippy.

Plus my kids got time with Granny.


We got to her house after she got home from work.  She fixed us dinner and then took M1 to the nearby park while M2 and I played in her back yard (Voice of Experience:  Thirty years old is past the cut-off for turning cartwheels and round-offs for the sake of demonstrating these moves to your 7-year-old daughter.  Your back will yell at you for a week, and not in a good way).  After everyone came back inside, the kids took their baths and brushed their teeth.  After M2 got done, she wandered over to the bookshelf and started perusing the piano books.  She pulled one out.  "Be careful," I warned her, remembering all the times I got yelled at when I was her age for touching those same books.

"Oh, she knows what she's doing," my mom assured me.  "We do this every time."

And then M2 sat down with Granny, and my mom played the song and they sang together.  It was lovely.

The next morning, I couldn't have timed things better.  We left the house when my mom had to go to work, and I took the kids down to the park to kill some time.  After a while, we wandered back to the car and headed to Starbucks to get drinks - fun for the kids and caffeine for me.  We showed up at the museum just as the caravan was pulling in.  Perfect.

The kids had a blast at the museum.  It's wonderfully set up for kids.


There are hidey-holes to crawl through...


... and touch screens with all sorts of information...


... and drawers that pull out with even more stuff to see (and some to touch)...


... and flip books and videos and so on and so forth.  In other words, it's a fun place.  M1 found a volunteer and peppered him with a million questions about various topics.  I was wandering back and forth between kids but still heard him stump the poor guy at least once.  Ah, well.

It was kind of difficult for me to realize that it was probably the last time I'll do anything major with M2's class. I'll see some of them again this week for the school's spring performance, but it won't be a class thing, per se.  That's okay, though.  Next time we want to go to the museum, we won't have to meet anyone if we don't want to... and if we do, there certainly won't be pressure to caravan or go to McDonald's afterwards!  (Sonic.  We went to Sonic after realizing that we went to the 'wrong' McDonald's because I blame Google Maps.)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Today is Fun Day

I'll be posting photos as soon as I take the time to get them off my camera.  I'm lazy.  But today will be a good day.  I know this, just like I knew that yesterday's house showing would go well.  (The prospective buyer was here for nearly an hour, which is awesome and yet scary because we haven't even started looking at houses for us yet.)

Today started out a little early.  I woke up properly after the second time I hit the snooze button, which is unusual because usually I have to force myself to roll out of bed after hitting the button the third time, but I opened my eyes just in time to see Hermes the black cat balance himself on the top of our headboard.  I reached up to pet him, but he ignored me and kept moving.  He walked over until he was right above Oz's head (Oz was still dozing), and then he reached a paw down... WHAP-WHAP-WHAP.

I couldn't help but giggle.  A lot.  Especially since yesterday when the kids and I got home from our out-of-town field trip, Oz's first words to M1 were, "Your cat is annoying."  I guess the cat had wanted to snuggle all day because M1 wasn't around to provide the proper amount of attention.  This is the cat who will have nothing to do with the rest of us; I guess he's decided Oz makes a decent substitute.

Moving on... M2 was chipper and cheerful as she got ready for school, M1 didn't pick on her or argue with anyone, I didn't find a giant toothpaste mess on the bathroom counter, and since I'm only doing laundry in the evenings these days, I didn't have several loads of laundry to start.  M1 has been pretty focused today, and I realized that we only have two more weeks of school remaining.  This blows my mind.  I'll have conquered three years of homeschooling.  Does this make me an experienced homeschooler yet?

The weather is warm and glorious, the flowers we planted a couple months ago in the front garden plot are developing some buds, and one of the horses ate the marauding invasive plant that keeps growing among our crape myrtles.  He ate it in one bite, in fact, which is another thing that amused me.  Small minds, you know...

Later today I'll start making a piƱata with the kids so we can have an end-of-the-year fiesta sometime next week.  I could have done that tomorrow for Cinco de Mayo, but that would have required extra forethought and planning.

Happy Friday, everyone!  Enjoy this beautiful May day!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Boys - Love 'Em, Hate 'Em, and Pity 'Em

Obviously I love my son.  If I didn't adore my son (and my daughter, too, but this post is all about my boy) to bits and pieces, I wouldn't have the patience to be at home with him every single day.

Today I was reminded, several times, that boys will constantly, consistently, and commonly do the following things:
1.  Make you love them.
2.  Make you want to hate them.
3.  Make you feel so bad for them that you start back at #1 and start the cycle all over again.

M1 has been getting immunotherapy shots for his dust mite allergy for several months now.  A couple months ago we went in for a check-up and they told us that he was getting really close to his maintenance dose and that we'd probably be there by summer... as long as he didn't have any major reactions.

Well, I'll be darned if the very next week he didn't have a small reaction - just a swelling the size of a quarter, but it was the biggest reaction to date.  They repeated the dose the following week, the reaction didn't repeat, and so they kept going.  No more reactions.  Until today.  Today he got his shot at 8:42 a.m.  We waited the required half-hour, had it checked, and left because while there was a little swelling (and quite a bit of reported pain), there was no systemic reaction.  Ice, ibuprofen, and keep an eye on it, right?  Sure.  I felt bad for the lil' dude, because clearly he was in pain, so it was a good thing that we had a fairly easy day of school planned.  He got through everything and I fixed him lunch, and honestly I forgot about his arm because he hadn't said anything in a couple of hours.

After lunch, he asked to go outside until it was time to get ready for swim, and he asked so politely and calmly that I couldn't tell him no (not that I would have, anyway... a lot of times he begs for electronics, but he has lost all electronics privileges for the foreseeable future because he took his Fire out of my room, where it had been confiscated because I caught him on it in the middle of the night - again - and took it to his room - again in the middle of the night - and then lied to me flat-out when I caught him trying to sneak it back in).  So outside he went.  Adorable little dude.

Adorable little dude who had swiped an entire bloody bag of beef jerky.  I caught the little bugger chowing down as fast as he could when I went out to the garage a few minutes later to take out some recycling and give him a 15-minute warning.  REALLY???  He knows good and well that all he has to do to get food is tell me he's hungry.  I will find something.  And if I don't have any good ideas, he's totally allowed to suggest things - like beef jerky - and I'll say yes.  So that really irritated me and I ordered him in the house and told him no more snacks for the rest of the day.  (I also found a bag of mints he'd hidden in the van for 'later,' meaning he wanted to devour them while M2 was in her violin lesson.)

GAH.  After he got back in the house, I asked him to go ahead and get ready for swim, and he did so... and when he came back out of his room, I caught a glimpse of his arm.

I felt AWFUL.  It was so swollen it looked like there was a tennis ball tucked into the side of his arm.  It was red, warm to touch, and he said it hurt like crazy.  I gave him more ibuprofen and told him that we would skip swim, but he insisted on going.  I let him, but I made sure the coach knew what was going on.  Coach agreed to keep an eye on him and also talked to M1 about his own immunotherapy experience (have I mentioned the swim coach is allergic to chlorine?).  He made it through practice well enough.

We picked up M2 and took her to violin, and I asked M1 to come in so I could keep an eye on him (and to make sure he wasn't going to swipe the remaining mints I had in the car).  He brought in his latest reading book, White Fang, but soon abandoned it to read the violin teacher's copy of a Calvin and Hobbes book.  He was soon giggling hysterically, trying to stay quiet but failing miserably as he kept pointing to various strips and whispering, "THAT'S ME!!!"

Yes.  Yes, son, it is.  I love you to bits.  I wouldn't know what to do without you, and I know one day I'll really miss all the little things that drive me nuts!

Wait... It's May??

I swear this year just started, and now here I am staring the end of the school year straight in the eye and starting to wonder what, exactly, the summer and fall will hold.  Here's what I know will happen:

1.  M1 will reach his maintenance dose at the allergist's and will hopefully be able to stop taking daily Zyrtec sometime before fall.  I love the idea of not having to give one of the daily meds!

2.  I will lose my ever-lovin' mind from having to keep this house clean.  Someone come buy it already! *eyetwitch*

3.  It will get hot.  REALLY hot.  Oklahoma hot.  (And for those of you who don't know, we win at that. Kinda like the Gulf Coast wins at hurricanes and Indonesia wins at earthquakes [Sorry, Haiti].)

4.  M1 will get bored because it's summer and he can.

5.  M2 will get bored because it's summer and she can.

6.  I will snap.

Somewhere in there, I hope to do some fun stuff.  I didn't sign the kids up for camp this summer because A) I don't know when/if we'll be moving and B) M2 didn't want to go.  So I'll be 'stuck' with them.  We'll hit the pool, we'll go to the zoo and maybe the aquarium, and we might go skating or bowling.  I want to have picnics in the back yard and/or park and hopefully let the kids camp outside one night (but we have to move for that to happen because currently the tent and the sleeping bags are in storage).  I want to have lazy days where we stay in the house and watch movies and eat junk food all day.  I want to blow bubbles and draw on the sidewalk with chalk and play games before they get too old to want to do any of those things, especially with me.  I want to go to the free fair and the flea market and maybe the amusement park.  I want them to get to spend some time with their grandparents and aunts and uncles.

So little childhood is left.  M1 is 9 1/2; M2 is 7.  It really does fly.  I want to savor this summer!