August 27, 2008

Thanks for the suggestions yesterday in the comments.  I’m not sure I’m going to try a gym yet; between issues with our budget and feeling silly exercising in public, it’s not something I’m ready for just yet.  If I can’t get the weight gain under control, though, I may look into it.

I tried the idea to work for just a few minutes at a time yesterday.  I didn’t set a timer because I cannot leave a task unfinished even if I’m planning to get back to it before long, but I set myself a goal of finishing just one task at a time and then relaxing to reward myself.  I had several things on my to-do list since we were expecting company yesterday afternoon.

Surprisingly it worked.  I finished everything I was hoping to get done and without pushing myself.  I don’t know that I’m ready to do that much every day, but I can probably use that technique to do a chore or two every day and keep the place looking better than it does right now.

I’m trying to get M to help me stay motivated to work out more in the evenings with him and not give up just because I’m not losing weight.  At least I’ll feel like I’m doing everything I can to help the weight problem, so if my weight continues to climb, I’ll know it’s more of a medical problem and that I should see a doctor about it.

And about PJ’s evaluation yesterday afternoon–it went pretty much as I expected.  After no nap, PJ was still reasonably well-behaved.  He was pretty much himself, which gave the evaluator woman a pretty good idea of where he fit on the scale.  He has improved greatly in several areas of speech development, but he is still nearly a year behind.  That means my nearly-three-year-old is speaking more like a two-year-old.  That’s what I expected, though, so it wasn’t much of a blow.

The reason we were testing him this time was to see how far behind he was in the conversational aspect of speech.  He has many more words now but can’t seem to find appropriate responses to communicate back and forth, like in a conversation.  We were a bit surprised to discover that he tests reasonably well as high as the test goes.  It’s only 21 months, so he could still be a bit behind, but he’s doing better than we thought.

The test pointed out some gaps in his development, though.  Now we know these things are what we need to focus on, things like answering us when we ask a question or call his name.  We all suspect that watching other kids his age at MDO will help model this for him and that he’ll make progress quickly after next week.

Anyway, I had this whole other post in mind to write about today, but updating the happenings from yesterday’s post just seemed a little more important at the moment.  I guess I’ll save that something interesting for tomorrow.  In the meantime, it’s probably good for you all to know that things are looking up already.

A Busy Week

August 26, 2008

We’ve got a fairly busy week ahead of us–at least busy for us.  This evening PJ has another ECI evaluation, something that he wasn’t tested for last time.  I’m already expecting it to show a deficit, so I’m really not worried about the evaluation.  It won’t determine whether something is wrong but rather possibly identify better where the deficit is so that we’ll have a better idea of how to work with him to help him improve.

Anyway, that evaluation is tonight, and I really need to do a little cleaning before letting people in my house again.  It’s been embarrassingly long since the floors have been vacuumed.  Oh, and the boys need bathed.  PJ still has cheese from yesterday’s lunch of mac and cheese caked on his nose.  I’d probably better get to that before naptime.

Thursday we have another normal session with his ECI teacher, and I discovered yesterday that PJ’s open house with his MDO isn’t in the evening like I’d assumed.  It’s actually in the morning, about the same time as his ECI session.  We’re going to have to get up early and rush to the open house to be there the second it starts and then make sure we’re out of there in less than forty-five minutes to be home in time for the ECI session.

Then next Tuesday, a week from today, he starts school.  Sigh…not thinking about it today.

In the middle of all this busyness I’m finding myself struggling with myself again.  I have this awful feeling that I’m only giving a half effort into everything I do.  I know I could be doing better as a wife, mother, housecleaner, and even myself.  I could blame the lack of effort on the headaches I’ve had every day or the tummy issues that don’t seem to go away, but I don’t know if that’s it.  I don’t know whether I would really be able to do more if I pushed myself.

Part of it is frustration with my weight.  I’ve never struggled with my weight.  I was that skinny kid who could eat anything in sight and never gain an ounce.  I filled out some in college but still didn’t gain much weight.  I didn’t have a problem after PJ was born either; the pregnancy pounds just melted right off and stayed off.

Right now I’m fifteen pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight and close to twenty above my ideal.  It may not sound like much, but when you consider how tiny I am, it’s a lot.  I’m bordering on overweight for the first time in my life (pregnancy obviously doesn’t count).  I’ve been trying to eat better and exercise more.  Every time I have a good few days with it, a pound will disappear only to be replaced by two more–while I’m still doing better.  So I give up until more weight appears.  Then I try again with no success.

That’s a fast way to lose motivation to take care of myself, when taking care of myself doesn’t have any effect.

And from there I lose motivation elsewhere.  It’s a bad cycle, and I don’t know how to pull myself out of it.

On top of everything, I’ve been struggling a lot with a complete and total lack of energy.  It could be related to the weight issues or the headaches or any number of things; maybe it’s a sign of something different altogether.  Whatever it is, it’s even more frustrating.  When I get motivated to exercise or clean or do whatever, I run out of steam before crossing the first thing off my mental list.  I give up and end up sitting around being lazy, feeling sorry for myself and hating myself for not being a better wife/mother/housekeeper.

I’ve been trying to get better about things, a little at a time.  I’ll make very reasonable goals: cook once a week, do one cleaning chore each day, exercise once a week.  I fail at every one, sometimes before doing it the first time.  It makes me less inclined to make goals when I keep failing at even the easy ones.

I’m sorry this post has turned into such a pity party.  That’s not entirely the intent.  Yes, I need to vent it and get it out there, but I’m also hoping that maybe you guys have an approach to overcome this that I haven’t considered yet.  I’m tired of being like this, otherwise I wouldn’t have mentioned it here.  I just don’t know how to start fixing the problem.  Do you guys have any suggestions?  (And if you don’t know me, please refrain from criticizing me right now.  That’s not going to help the problem.  Please limit your comments to something helpful.)

Is Summer Already Over?

August 25, 2008

I realized this weekend that today is the first day of school for most schools in the state.  I’m so incredibly relieved that it makes no difference to me.  It’s nice not to have to go back into teacher mode after that time off.

But that realization reminded me that in a way, the start of school does matter to me this year.  After all, the start of public schools also signals the start of private schools–and preschools and MDOs.

Yikes!  That open house for PJ’s MDO that was going to happen eventually, sometime at the end of the summer?  It’s Thursday.  Next Tuesday school itself starts for him.  It’s safe to say I’m nowhere near ready.

For one, he still has no backpack or lunchbox or anything of the sort.  I’ve been wanting to go shopping for that stuff all summer, but M wanted to wait until after the open house to see if they gave some recommendations for everything he would need.  That means we have to go shopping this weekend.  I hope we can find what we want and don’t have to settle on anything because we waited too long to start shopping.  I know my mom had been browsing for some time to see the selection of backpacks for something PJ would love, and she had had little to no luck.  I’m not so sure we’re going to find the perfect backpack in one weekend of shopping.  But I guess M’s suggestion is practical so that we only have to shop for school stuff the one time.

I’m also not ready to have to get up and ready according to a routine twice a week.  It’s a bit earlier than I’m used to as well, even though that I’m more than willing to work around.  I just don’t like the pressure to get up and ready and out of here by a certain time.  Church on Sundays is bad enough, and it’s late enough that the morning is still leisurely.  School starting at 9:30 (I think) is going to be quite an adjustment around here.

Emotionally?  Let’s not even go there.  I’m working on accepting that my little boy is ready for MDO, hoping that if I accept it as a fact I won’t let my emotions get out of control.  Maybe it won’t be the big deal I think it is to drop him off at his classroom next Tuesday, turn around, get in the car, and drive home with one less kid.

On the other hand, though, I am definitely ready to let someone else handle him for a few hours twice a week.  Yesterday we had another of those days (yes, that makes two in one week), and this time M got to see him at his…best.  He spent most of the day in time-out for ignoring us completely, and our patience was completely gone by the time he went down for his early bedtime.  Days like that make it just a little easier to think about letting him go a couple of times a week.  Maybe the socialization and classroom environment will help him get over this phase of awful behavior.

I’m also making plans for what I’m going to do during the day while he’s gone.  Those things I’ve put off doing because they were too difficult to do while wrangling two kids?  No longer a problem!  I may actually be able to take back the task of grocery shopping, instead of making it a family event in the evenings when we have two parents to handle the two kids.  Not that I’m telling M about that thought, just in case I decide against it next week.

Heh, a couple of times a week I’ll be able to potty without company and “help.”  I wonder what that’s like.

It’s funny to think how easy life is going to be with just one kid for those few hours twice a week when it wasn’t that long ago when having one child was still overwhelming.  Crazy how your perspectives change over time.  There might even be a day when thinking about having only two children would be easy.

But one thing at a time.  First we have to make it through Thursday’s open house and then PJ’s first day of “school” on the next Tuesday.  You know I’ll tell you how that goes right away.

Preaching to the Choir

August 21, 2008

Sorry it’s been a few days.  I just haven’t felt like blogging–no particular reason, just nothing interesting to say, I guess.

But then yesterday happened.  It started super early in the morning with BabyN waking up yet again from teething pain.  The sleep interruption disturbed all of us, making the morning already get off to a bad start.  He was up for the day a short time later, so I didn’t get the later morning I desperately needed.

PJ didn’t seem too off at first, but about the time his ECI teacher got here, we could tell.  I have never seen him like that before.  I mean, there have been moments that I wondered if he needed medication–or some sort of large animal tranquilizer–but yesterday went beyond even that.  The whole time his teacher was here, he ran in circles around the house, slamming the door to his room (often while the dog was stuck in there), and generally ignoring anything I had to say.  He was literally out of control.

The ECI teacher and I discussed ways to help him cope with the over-abundance of energy.  Apparently making him do something difficult physically is not just common sense but an actual strategy they teach.  At least she knows that he isn’t ever like that; she usually gets to see him at his sweetest and most cooperative.  I was also grateful that she didn’t bring up those letters I dread hearing: ADHD.  Although yesterday, I might have been quite receptive to the idea of medication.

His afternoon nap just about didn’t happen.  I put him down early (you think?) and went down for a nap myself as soon as BabyN did.  I woke up an hour later when I realized I was hearing the lawn crew outside.  They were already almost done, which means they had probably woken PJ up about half an hour earlier.  He certainly sounded like he had been awake for a while.

Needless to say, the afternoon was only barely better than the morning.  M got to witness it when he got home from work.  We were lucky that PJ seems to mind M better than me, so he was at least better controlled when M got home, but he still spent much of the evening in time-out.  And they ended up in bed early.  Obviously.  I couldn’t take any more of being ignored while PJ ran around the house and screamed like a banshee.

For the first time in a long time, I questioned my abilities as a parent.  It was probably mostly because we had company, though.  I didn’t want to put PJ in time-out for every offense while his teacher was here so that she could attempt to do something with him, but I also didn’t want him to just run around like crazy.  It was hard to find that balance.  I also know that if she sees anything questionable, she is obligated to report us as potentially abusive–or neglecting–parents.  I’m pretty sure I don’t toe the line on either side, but how am I supposed to know what she might interpret as either?  Is it neglect to let him run around in a diaper because I can’t keep clothes on him for more than thirty seconds?  Is it abusive to grab his arm (even gently) to deter him from a harmful activity when he won’t listen to me?  Is it either one when he opens his door hard into his head because I didn’t put him in time-out the first three times I warned him not to do that?  (He still has a bruise from that one.)

I know most days that I’m a good mother–maybe not phenomenal, but definitely not bad.  My kids are clothed, fed, loved, and disciplined.  Most of the time they are charming and well-behaved around strangers.  The only areas I feel I lack as a mother are those that society has told us are important, whether or not they really are.  Does he have enough “educational” toys?  Do I read to him often enough?  Get him enough social activity?  New experiences?  Does he know enough numbers, letters, colors, and shapes?  Does he know his kid songs and not watch too much TV?  I may fail at these fairly often, but he doesn’t seem to be suffering from it.

So why do I let myself feel guilty?  A perfect mother is not the one who succeeds at all these things.  That mother doesn’t exist; we’re all going to beat ourselves up about letting them watch one too many episodes of Blue’s Clues in a day or that one time we slipped up and he didn’t get organic food (don’t let me get started on that one) or any number of other things we have decided are important, regardless of whether or not they really are.  If we let all of that get to us, I firmly believe that’s when we start to slip in our parenting skills.  We need to do what we feel is right and not worry about a lack of perfection.  Our best is good enough; it has to be.

So obviously I’m preaching to myself here.  I need the reminders after a day like yesterday that I am a good mom.  My kids are healthy and happy and loved.  All the rest is just details that will take care of themselves in time.  I’m always striving to be better and trying new things to be better, so one bad day when I feel like a failure is not enough to convince me that that’s who I really am.

The Freeway of Certain Death

August 18, 2008

*Note: Before I tell the following story, it’s important to know that I am not asking for pity or complaining in any way.  I just found the whole thing unusual and interesting to blog.

I had the strangest thing happen yesterday.  M and I were headed to run an errand in another part of town and had to take the freeway to get there.  We’d only been on the freeway a minute or two before I started to get terrified.  It was an awful feeling, like I was sure we were going to die.  I kept feeling the car slide off the side of the road as we went around curves or overpasses.  I had to keep my eyes closed, praying the whole time.

Normally freeways don’t bother me in the least.  I have a few weird irrational fears, but even they don’t instill this kind of terror in me.  I used to be a bit fearful of freeways back when I was learning to drive, but once I was driving them I was fine.  And I have never felt like I did yesterday when someone else was driving, especially M.  His driving is quite reasonable, just the right balance between cautious and aggressive, perfect for city driving.  I haven’t felt at all unsafe with him–well, since PJ was born, but that’s another story.

So I have no idea what happened yesterday, what could have caused that terror.  After suffering silently for quite some time, I finally let M know what was going on, even though I was embarrassed to admit it.  I wasn’t sure he understood the enormity of what I was feeling, but he kept mentioning it every so often while we were inside the store.

When we got back in the car, he told me about a time he had a similar fear about driving, one just as sudden and unexpected as mine.  Basically he had a strong urge not to drive anywhere that day.  He couldn’t avoid it, however, and ended up getting in an accident.  It was an accident caused by someone else that was completely unavoidable on his part and therefore was definitely not caused by that fear from earlier in the day.

Because of his own experience, M was not taking my irrational fear lightly.  We took a different route home that put us on the freeway about a third of the time.  I didn’t feel that awful feeling on the way home.  We’ll never know if what I felt was simply an irrational fear or if it may have been a premonition of something that never happened because of our precautions.

I think what strikes me most about the whole experience was how M reacted to it.  I was certain I was overreacting to the whole thing and tried to downplay it to him and let him know not to worry because I was coping with it.  He didn’t take my fear lightly, though.  He let me know it was okay to be feeling what I was feeling, even if it didn’t make any sense whatsoever.  He didn’t make me feel embarrassed about it at all; he was supportive to me instead.

I guess I should have expected as much from my awesome husband.  He loves me for all my crazy weirdness, not despite it, and I feel honored that he picked me to put up with instead of someone who doesn’t randomly flip out on him from time to time.

A Family Bonding Moment

August 17, 2008

M and I were getting ready to go somewhere right after lunch, but I hadn’t showered yet.  I ate a quick sandwich while M finished feeding the boys so that I could go take a fast shower.  Since the boys were occupied, I was looking forward to the luxury of a private shower, without any little boy eyes looking on, even if it was super fast.

Just as I was getting ready to get out, though, I watched as the bathroom door opens.  It’s important to know two things: 1) our shower only has a transparent shower curtain liner right now (the fancy one keeps coming off) and has a glass wall facing the bathroom door, so you can see the entire bathroom from our shower, and 2) I’m blind as a bat without glasses or contacts.  Seriously, I can only see blobs of color and basic shapes at a distance farther than about four inches.  No exaggeration.

First a 3-foot tall shape dressed in a dark color, like navy, came barreling through the door.  Shortly after, a larger, five-foot-ish tall shape carrying a squealing, smaller blonde one followed.  There went my plans for a private shower.  Suddenly I was putting on a show for all three of my boys.  Even the dog tagged along, making my shower a family affair.

PJ was quick to figure out what was happening, even though he has never taken a shower.  He knew Mommy was taking a bath, just standing up.  “Take a bath?” he repeated several times.  I laughed at him, proud that he knew exactly what was going on.

Then I turned and looked out the curtain.  There was a three-foot-tall shape that was quickly shedding that navy blue shirt and shorts.  I could make out only the white of his diaper as he walked up to the shower and pulled back the curtain.  “PJ take a bath?”

I really didn’t want it to become that kind of a family affair.  It was bad enough that I was showering for an audience of three (four if you count the dog); I didn’t exactly need company.

A couple of minutes later I was out of the shower and getting dressed while M and I still laughed at how readily PJ wanted to join me.  I looked at him and said, “You know I’m going to have to blog this, right?”

“Something like this has to be shared,” he agreed.  But I don’t know…is it too creepy?  Or is it forgiven because he’s two?  Either way, it’s a funny moment I want to remember and be able to relay to his future girlfriends years down the line.

Adventures in Potty Training

August 14, 2008

Or not.

I don’t post much here or on the family blog about what’s happening in potty training-land.  There’s a reason for that.  Nothing’s happening.

Every couple of weeks I get motivated and try again.  I’ll ask PJ several times a day if he needs to pee, and we’ll go sit on his potty for a couple of minutes.  He gets bored and restless and tantrum-y if I let it go on too long, so eventually I just give up and put a diaper back on him.  He has yet to dribble one tiny drop in his potty.

Last week my mom gave it a shot.  He was obsessed with the potties at their house for some reason, so he asked several times a day to sit on the “pee-pee potty.”  Nothing, nada.  I think he just wanted to flush the toilet.

In the meantime, though, he has taken the diaper issues to a new level.  Remember how we’re already using duct tape to make it more difficult for him to peel it off and go commando during naptimes?  Now he’s also shredding off the ruffly stuff along the edges of the diaper.  I have to pick up little shreds of diaper after every naptime and in the mornings.  (And yes, this is usually in addition to making his bed from scratch–again.)

It doesn’t seem worth it to try to punish him for the diaper-shredding.  There’s a much easier solution, I’m thinking–big boy underwear.  It’s obvious that he understands the basics of the potty, and it’s obvious that diapers are starting to cause problems.  He’s nearly three, after all!  He should be at least sort of potty-trained by now.

Heck, his dinosaur is making better progress than he is.  He’ll take his dino to the potty when I’m going, and Doddledo has to have a turn when I’m done.  Apparently he is going well enough that he no longer needs to wear a diaper all the time.  (It’s really funny when he takes him to the potty.  He counts for him, like I usually do for PJ as a way to give him a minimum amount of time to sit on the potty.  This is how I’ve learned that PJ can count up to six at least.)

I’m trying not to get frustrated.  I know boys take longer to potty train and PJ isn’t exactly the most mature nearly-three-year-old around.  I know it can make it more difficult to push it when he’s not ready, and frankly that’s not a battle I want to fight just yet.  Nobody really seems concerned about it.  It’s just difficult when I see the diaper turning into such an issue and his obvious understanding of the pottying process.

Still, I’m doing my best to take this all with a sense of humor.  As my mom’s no-nonsense pediatrician from our early days would remind me, you don’t see kindergarteners still wearing diapers, so kids get the hang of it eventually.  What’s the point in fretting about it before you’re really considering buying diapers as school supplies?