Monday, May 26, 2014

Let Me Tell You About Depression

I don't like to talk about depression.  It's a selfish thing, because it calls attention to me when I'm trying to be invisible; it causes people to be curious when I wish they already knew and, at the same time, hope that they've never been through this themselves.

To those of you who have experienced depression, I'm sorry.  To those of you who have recurrent depression, I'm really sorry.  I hate when I find others who know this dark place.  Not a 'funk.' Not a 'rough patch.'  No.  Depression.  That special kind of hyperawareness of the normalcy of others that sends you into a black hole of self-loathing and self-doubt that's almost impossible to escape from.  I was teetering on the event horizon for a while, and then I fell in.

I'm writing this today to prevent myself from doing one of the following:

1.  Going back to bed and doing nothing at all until someone makes me.

2.  Hurling this computer across the room and into the wall out of sheer frustration at all the futility and nothingness, this void of life that I'm stuck in.

3.  Pulling the freshly-sharpened knife out of the block and carving lines and words into some random and usually-hidden body part.

4.  Lying on the couch motionless for the remainder of the day, except for those times when I drag myself off of it to do laundry or go to the gym or make dinner, because I have to do those things for other people or they'll notice that I'm not okay.

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It's interesting to me how depression works.  I am constantly thinking of the line from the movie "Legally Blonde," where Elle says, "Exercise gives you endorphins.  Endorphins make you happy.  Happy people just don't shoot their husbands; they just don't."  I wish that was true.  And sure, I have no intention of shooting anyone.  BUT… if endorphins were all it took to combat depression, I wouldn't be depressed right now.  I've been going to the gym 3-4 days a week, and I really do like it.  My arms have more definition than they've ever had, and I've told myself that when I can use the assisted pull-up machine with only half my weight, I'll get my next tattoo.  But endorphins alone are not enough.  Neither is vitamin D.  Or the smell of flowers.  If I'm in a funk or just hitting a rough patch, some aromatherapy or going outside or vitamins or a good movie or a great date with my husband or a good book can be enough to keep me going and pull me out of it.  This is not that.  And those normal fixes aren't enough.

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A couple of weeks ago I spent a day almost entirely in bed.  I got up once to use the restroom and ask the kids to do a couple of things, but I didn't even bother to brush my hair or put on deodorant or change into real clothes.  It was all too much effort.  Oz and I had a long talk that evening, and he's been wonderful, but when I'm up and dressed and going about my daily business, I know he thinks that it's all over and done and that I'm back to my normal self.  And I am not.  One bad day - and it may or may not have a trigger - and I'm back down the rabbit hole, except this hole doesn't end in Wonderland, it ends somewhere much, much darker (which is saying something when you're comparing it to a world populated with the likes of the Mad Hatter and the Cheshire Cat), and sometimes it's only six feet deep.

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I know the 'cause' of this particular bout of depression is twofold.  One of the causes is being addressed and things are on their way to being okay.  The other cause is deeper, more existential.  I can't just 'fix' that one easily.  It's going to take a long time.  I wish I knew where the end was.  That might make it easier.  But I'm not seeing the light at the end of the tunnel today.

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I hate the way I parent when I'm depressed.  I'm grumpy because I can't parent the way I should… and can, when I'm mentally stable.  I can't take an interest in anything, even the kids.  They're being left to fend for themselves more often than they probably should, and when I do notice something, it's usually something I should have addressed earlier and now have to nip in the bud, except I don't have the energy to approach the problem properly, so I just yell and cry and then ignore the problem altogether because it's just easier.  It's the lazy way out, and I feel lazy, which doesn't help the depression, because I feel like I should just be able to snap out of it and kick this whole laziness complex and DO ALL THE THINGS.  Except I can't.

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I'm not allowing comments on this post.  I've never done that before.  But I don't want pity or sympathy or empathy.  I don't want to know who has read this and who hasn't and who has been here and who hasn't.  I just really wanted to get it all out, and for all I know, I'll have poster's remorse in about an hour or so and come and delete this whole thing altogether, because it's selfish and awful to rant about being depressed and then not let anyone 'help,' except while I love you all, it isn't really helpful to read about others who have been there or dealt with that, and it'll just make me sad to know how common depression is.  And if you can sympathize or empathize, I'm so sorry.  I really am.

Nobody should know this darkness.

So I'll just leave you with this:


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Summer Break

So we've been on summer break for what… a week and a half now?  It seems longer.

The first day off, the kids were bored to tears by 2 p.m.  There were actual tears.  Doodlebug in particular was crying because I'd kicked him off the Wii and told him to find something to do other than stare at a screen, because I wasn't going to have him turn into a vegetable just because it was summer break.

By 6 p.m. that day, they'd been grounded from the Wii for sneaking back onto it.

By 6 p.m. the next day, they'd had the power strip removed and all electronics banned for two weeks.

This means that since last Tuesday, my children have had no electronic stimulation whatsoever.

When I doled out that punishment, I knew - I just knew - that the person who was going to be punished most by this was myself.

My children, however, have surprised me.

Doodlebug has gotten out his whittling knife.  He made a couple of wooden items before running out of usable wood, and then I let him carve my last block of Fels-Naptha.  Over the weekend, Doodlebug and Oz went to the local woodworking store and bought a bunch of wood so he can use the real stuff again.  He said soap was too easy.  Yesterday Doodlebug got himself grounded after being in his sister's room for the fourth time in 24 hours (he's not allowed into her room at all EVER, but he has a hard time respecting privacy - he invades my room, Oz's office, and Boo's room whenever he wants, to say nothing of the pantry, and I've had it, so I lowered the boom), so he pulled out his K'Nex and Legos and started making robots.  By dinnertime he had two built.  He got up early this morning and, instead of going into his sister's room and waking her like he normally does, which results in a grumpy sister and an even grumpier mom to start the day, he built another two robots and a Ferris wheel.

Boo has been less obviously productive but equally busy.  She's read several books - kid versions of Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Oliver Twist, and Gulliver's Travels - and created a 'house' in the greenbelt across the creek.

They've both been in the kitchen at least once, and they both intend to do more cooking throughout summer.  Yesterday Doodlebug made tuna salad, cucumbers & onions (omit the paprika… that's weird… really you don't need any of the parsley or dill, either, if you don't want them), and sweet potato fries.  There was leftover tuna salad, so today the kids made a picnic lunch and walked down to Boo's house to eat.

They left for their picnic at noon.  At 2:15, they came back up and informed me they'd been having a philosophical discussion about a tree falling in the woods and whether or not it makes a sound (Boo insists that logic states that it does; Doodlebug is having a blast playing Devil's advocate, though I suspect he rather agrees with her assessment) and by the way, Mom, can we spend the night outside?

I was on the phone at the time, so I nodded absently at them before processing the full scope of their rambling.  By the time it all sank in, I heard the attic door close.  Which means they'd gotten out the tent.

So far they're still up in the game room.  I'm curious to see if they expect me or Oz to help them with their camping preparations.

Either way, they're amusing themselves.

And this makes me happy.  Maybe I just… won't tell them when they can have electronics back.  This is much nicer.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Feeling Successful

After spending the last two weeks in an incredibly horrible funk while having a major existential crisis (still having the crisis… just have the energy to ignore it for a little while), I had to get up and function today.  I had the last meeting of this school year with the school psychologist, the gifted program administrator, and the 6th grade counselor.  The plan was to sit down and make sure Doodlebug was all set up and ready to go in terms of gifted services as well as writing the preliminary 504 plan so it will be in place the moment he walks in the door in August.

The meeting went well.  We wrote down only a few items on the 504 plan for now, mostly having to do with seating placement for classes and testing as well as trying to figure out SOME way that Doodlebug will have someone checking some sort of agenda to make sure he has his homework written down each night.  That was the hard one, mostly because we don't have a schedule yet.

One thing that did come to light was how much the psychologist and the gifted director are willing to bat for 'their' kids.  Doodlebug scored extremely highly on his tests.  I now know his IQ, and the number pleases me.  I refuse to disclose it, even to him, but he's smart.  Parental brag moment over.  Anyway, the counselor made a comment at one point that because he didn't have an enrollment packet for Doodlebug, that there was a chance that Doodlebug may wind up in classes that weren't really what were needed/wanted, and the other two instantly stepped in and said, "Sorry, I don't care if it means booting another kid.  This kid (Doodlebug) gets in."  I sat back and didn't say a word.  Rather nice to have other folks do the fighting for me, to be honest.  The counselor seems like a good guy, don't get me wrong, and I know he's trying to do scheduling for 300 or so 5th graders who are going to be in his school next year as 6th graders and there are only so many slots and so many classes per day.  BUT… my kid will be in certain classes, come hell or high water.  I think he got the message.  He also made sure to let me know that the teachers at the school are very knowledgeable about autism and know how to talk to kids on the spectrum - I guess his kid, who is a middle school student this year, is ASD as well, so he's seen as a parent how the system works with them, and he said it's been very positive.  That gives me a lot of hope.

Anyway, I did go down to the enrollment center right after the meeting and actually filled out all the paperwork so the kids are officially enrolled and they can put Doodlebug into the right classes.  That is now done.  Finished.

It's been an interesting process, going through all the testing and meetings and figuring everything out as we go.  I know there will be more meetings this fall to modify the 504 based on teacher findings once he gets into the classroom, but it's been a good, solid start.  I hope it's enough to offset some of the issues that we're going to run into eventually.  We'll see.  Fingers crossed.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I am NOT a Saleswoman

I went upstairs and started going through the school room today.  Yes, I could have waited until later in the summer to do this, but A) that room gets pretty warm in the mornings and then the whole upstairs is warm in the afternoons when it's hot in an Oklahoma summer and B) people are curriculum shopping for next year NOW, and they won't be when it's July.  So I figured I'd get 'er dun.

Anyway, so the actual purging of the shelves didn't take too long.  There was, naturally, a giant pile of books and papers that had been used or saved in the binders that were overflowing from all the work we'd finished throughout the year.  And by giant pile, this pile was - IS, because I haven't moved it yet - a foot deep in the middle and probably 3-4' in diameter.  PILE, I tell you.  It was a PILE.

Then there was the pile of things to get rid of.  I'll come back to that in a minute.

Then I went into the closet and pretended I couldn't see the fact that my children had totally trashed it and took out all the extra resources, all the curricula that I'd been saving in case I needed it for Boo, and went through that.  All the resources went onto the bookshelves where curricula had sat before, so that now we have a shelf of history materials, a shelf of literature/writing resources and math manipulatives, and a shelf of science books.  The kids already have their own dictionaries and thesauruses that sit under their desks, and there are a few books that don't fit on the shelves, so they sit next to the bookshelves… I may move those up to the top just so they aren't sitting next to the trash can where the electric pencil sharpener gets dumped, but we'll see.

Finally, I took down some of the posters from the walls, put up a few new ones, and then went through the posters to see what I wanted to keep and what I no longer wanted, and I added the latter to the pile of curricula to get rid of.

Then I made the fatal mistake of not writing it all down.  You'd think that being as pedantic as I am, I'd know to make a list.  But no.  My brain was - IS - so done that I just thought, "Oh, yeah, I'll remember."  I posted a list of all the posters on a local homeschool curriculum group and told folks they were free - I had gotten them for free and just wanted them gone, honestly - and then posted in another group that I had a bunch of stuff to get rid of.

After that, I walked out of the room.  Fatal mistake.  We ate lunch, and I sent the kids up to turn the closet back into some semblance of normalcy.  I got on the computer again to see if there had been any nibbles… and that's when the trouble started.

For the record, do not allow your children to read you the titles and information off of the sides of books.  It does not matter how literate they are, they will screw up.  And then you will pass bad information on to prospective curriculum buyers - TWICE, at least - and then you'll go upstairs to start sorting through things for yourself and realize the errors and have to go back and eat your words.  Twice, at least.

Clearly I should not be allowed to sell things when my mind is not as organized as it normally is.  This, people, THIS is why I'm normally anal retentive to an insane degree.  At this point, I *do* have a list of what I'm selling and most of the prices figured out (would've been smart to figure those out before posting, too, but again, I'm not so bright today), but I still have to keep them all straight.

Now I just hope I don't send the wrong items to the wrong people.  Can you tell I've never worked retail?

Back to it.  Let's see what I can confuse now ;)

Monday, May 12, 2014

All the Nothing

Today is our first day of OMG IT'S SUMMER BREAK AND WE DON'T HAVE SCHOOL LET'S SLEEP IN AND DO ALL THE NOTHING.

At least, that's what today is according to my children.  You'd have thought that they were working from dawn till dusk every single day for the last 10 months.  *snort*

As for me, it's a Monday.  I got up, found the blood of life coffee, stripped and remade the bed, started the laundry, pulled ribs out of the freezer to thaw for tomorrow night's dinner, sat down and made a menu and grocery list for the next couple of weeks (the kids did sort of help with that… they both want to make a meal and wanted to pick the recipes themselves), etc., etc., etc.

The thing I didn't do was go upstairs and do any school with them, which means that now, at 2:53 p.m., I am parked on the couch with nothing to do.  And by 'nothing,' I mean that I could read a book I'm reading, work on my cross-stitch project, blog (WINNER!), obsessively check Facebook, text friends, or clean something.  Hobbies, mostly.  I need direction here.  Doing nothing is not something I do well.

Oh, and cleaning something isn't gonna happen.  It should, because I ran into a friend at the grocery store today, and she and her son are coming over tomorrow, but… no.  I cleaned on Friday.  That counts, right?

I did make a couple of important phone calls today.  One was to the pediatrician's office to schedule Doodlebug's physical for camp.  Why they require him to have one is beyond me, but there's a form and it has to be signed by the doctor saying that he's healthy enough to go running about in 100+-degree Oklahoma summer heat.  Or something like that.  I remembered that had to happen last night about 11 p.m. and figured I'd better call and make the appointment ASAP, and it turned out it was a good thing I called because the NP who had been at the office for several years is gone now (she was there two months ago… I'm not going to ask) and it's just the pediatrician again, and she's always busy.  I'll threaten to stalk her house if SHE ever decides to quit/move/retire before my kids are old enough to not need her any more.  Just sayin'.  Anyway, I also needed to get Doodlebug's prescription refill written and ALSO needed (yeah, I was totally the brand-new receptionist's favorite person today) to get a copy of Boo's immunization schedule.

I needed the last one so I can go down to the school sometime in the next… sooner or later, whenever I get around to it… and actually enroll the munchkins.  Details.

Speaking of the school, the psychologist called me a little while ago.  I have a meeting with him and several other people at the middle school - teachers, the gifted program director, heaven only knows who else… he said he was going to do some wrangling to get as many people there as possible - so we can get Doodlebug officially put into the gifted program and, at the same time, write a tentative 504 plan for his ASD issues.

Which means I really must actually enroll the child soon-ish.  They have most of his details; I just haven't filled out the form.

For now, however, I'm going to borrow a page from the kids' book and DO ALL THE NOTHING.

Sounds like a good Monday plan to me.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Done

And so, with that, we are done.

It seemed very anticlimactic.

Boo finished up grammar; Doodlebug recited the last poem he chose to memorize this year - Poe's "The Raven."

They covered their interest week topics.  Boo told us all about the differences between turtles and tortoises and some of their body features and dietary choices.  Doodlebug made "Clue" cards and substituted them for the weapons, and as we played, he told us about the symptoms and chemical make-up (if there was one) of each poison.

They performed their play last night, in four acts.  It was really cute, and I may try to post video of it soon.  It involved a cowboy (played by Boo) and a magic talking snake (voiced by Doodlebug), and I loved it.

Now they're coloring mandalas, just for the fun of it.

I've really enjoyed having them at home.  It seems bizarre to say that I'm no longer a homeschooler, because I still feel like one since they're still here, at home, with me.  But now that we're done with this school year, I guess I'm kind of… not.

I'm so stinking proud of my kids and all they've learned.  It hasn't always been easy or fun, but we've done it.  I'm going to have a few days where I wonder if I'm making the right choice letting them go to public school this fall, but I know I am.  It is time.

This blog will continue, but obviously it won't be a homeschooling blog any more.  Thanks for following!

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Final Week

We're in the final week of school now.  We'll do a review week in July, but this is the last week I really have to go upstairs and do anything with the kids.  It's also their last 'interest week,' where they get to pick a topic and study it on their own.  Both kids have some grammar to finish, and I'm asking them both to keep working on math right up to the last day because that's something they'll lose if they don't use it, but they're just about done with everything else.

Except their play.  I really can't wait to see their play.  I'll take a video of that and post it after they perform it for us on Friday.

Anyway, because there's so little left to do, I have very little to do with them.  We went to the library today to pick up books and videos on their chosen topics - turtles/tortoises for Boo and venom/poison for Doodlebug - but once they finish grammar in a day or two, they'll be working entirely independently.  For the last two days of school, I will be utterly superfluous.  Right now, for instance, both kids are parked on the loveseat with Tom the Bearded Dragon, and they're watching a video on venom.  Boo is all curled up and totally disturbed, and Doodlebug and Tom are both watching with mouths agape.  Boo came to me a few minutes before the video started to tell me she's learned the difference between turtles and tortoises already.  They learn quickly.

I suppose, in many ways, it's a good thing that they can work so independently, that they don't need me.  I've said before that it's bugging me how quickly I've become so useless to them.  They only need me now to coordinate events with other parents, take them to and from things, and occasionally (OK, ALL THE FREAKING TIME) remind them to do this, that or the other.  Still, it's going to be an odd summer since I will be, more or less, superfluous.  I'll take them to the pool.  I'll set up sleepovers, and we'll go see friends.  We'll do things.  But I won't really be necessary.  OK, OK, I know that I really am necessary.  They can't organize things themselves quite yet, and they certainly can't drive.  But they can figure out things to do on their own.  They fix their own meals and have finally learned to write things on the shopping list if we need them.  They can do laundry and dishes, clean anything they can reach… if they could learn to do these things without being reminded, I really would be unnecessary around here.

It feels so odd to be ending this particular phase in my life.  I've taught Doodlebug for five years and Boo for two.  And I feel so completely and utterly lost now.  Before, even though I haven't had any personal goals, that was okay because my goals had to be on hold while I made the kids' education my priority.  Now, even though their education is still a priority, I'm handing over the reins and I'll have a few hours of peace and quiet each day.

This final week is messing with my head.  Even though I have three more months before I really have to worry about what to do with myself, I'm already mulling possibilities.  Instead of making early lesson plans, I have nothing.  Instead of setting up a potential schedule, I'm wondering when the 2014-2015 school calendar will be out.  It's a whole different life.  And I'm not sure I'm ready for it yet.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Becoming an Adult

In my head, there are certain things one should do/be/have to become a proper adult.  For example, you should be able to drive a car and fill it up with gas.  You should be able to pay a bill either online or in person.

The list is somewhat extensive.

But somewhere, for some reason, in my head, I decided that joining a gym was a very 'adult' thing to do.  It somehow meant that you were too old to go run around the park or find physical activities that would work in lieu of using machines and someone else's weights to keep in shape.

Then I got old.  I didn't become an adult… I just got old.

And I realized that while I do occasionally work out here at home using the Xbox or Wii or on-demand videos or whatever, and I do have weights that I break out for those occasions, I'm not exactly fit.  And I'm not going to the park to walk.  And I'm not joining any teams to play whatever sport might be happening that season.

And I really don't like myself when I'm out of shape.  My back goes into spasm, my joints ache more, my digestive system acts up, my hormones aren't happy… it's not a pretty picture.

So a couple of weeks ago, after much cajoling, I went to a gym with a friend of mine.  She's been a member for several months but hadn't been going regularly and really wanted a fitness buddy to help keep her on the straight and narrow.

And I liked it.

I liked it so much I went back a few days later and joined.  I could have done a free week-long trial but that only let me in the door during regular business hours, and we really wanted to meet right near their closing time, so it was easier to just join.

I have gone to the gym 4 days in the last week.  FOUR.  And I'm down the equivalent number of pounds.  Oz and Boo have both commented that my midsection seems smaller, and I agree… a pair of shorts that was slightly loose a week ago is now almost falling off my waist, and when I went to use one of the leg machines yesterday, I noticed I needed to add another 10 lbs. to the weights.

It feels really, really good.

I don't have a specific goal weight in mind, really.  I just want to be in shape.  In GOOD shape.  To set a good example for my kids.

Somehow, this feels really, really grown up.