Keep a Straight Face

October 29, 2008

Tonight at dinner, I was making faces at PJ (he started it, I swear).  I glanced down at the dog and remembered a funny face we used to make to our dog growing up.  The “fish face” would scare her and get her barking.  I decided to see if our dog would have the same reaction.

She didn’t, but PJ thought it was pretty funny.  I told him we called it the fish face, and he repeated it.  Of course, that was the funniest part of the whole thing.  Remember this is a three-year-old with some slight enunciation issues.  It was tough not to crack up too much when I heard him repeatedly call me “Assface.”

You better believe I’m having him do that one in front of the whole family at Christmas.  Hehe.


October 29, 2008

We had one more short testing session for PJ this morning.  When it ended, I had a quick minute to talk with the speech pathologist who was doing the testing on him to get an idea about whether they thought he would qualify for special ed services.

She almost seemed surprised I’d asked.  Apparently there was never a question in her mind after that first meeting.  They did the extended testing to be able to write a complete report and determine exactly which areas he qualified in.  I don’t remember exactly what three areas she mentioned, but I know two of them were speech reception and pragmatics (conversational skills).  They were the exact same things that ECI had said he was having problems with.  At least they’re consistent.

When my mom asked a week or so ago what I wanted them to find, I had to admit that I wanted him to qualify.  I know that he has problems, and it would be very frustrating for them to say he doesn’t qualify, keeping him from getting the help he needs.  I am certainly not looking forward to all the therapy sessions and meetings we have ahead of us now, but they will be worth it for PJ to catch up and be ready for school in a couple of years.

I’m focusing on how good this will be for PJ and not the disappointment I feel in knowing that he still has such obvious problems.  I’m working on not letting the special ed label get to me.  With any luck, being a part of the special ed program now will keep him from having to deal with the label when he actually starts school.

And now, partly to distract myself, I need to go work on baking those cookies for PJ’s class tomorrow.  I’ll let you know how they turn out.  I’m also letting PJ help out, I think, so this might be interesting.  He’s never really helped me cook before (partly because I’m chicken and partly because I don’t cook).  I’m sure I have quite the experience in front of me.

Harder Than I’d Hoped

October 27, 2008

So M left again yesterday afternoon, this time for a long trip.  He won’t be back until late Thursday night.  It was a lot harder to let him go, probably because he just got back from a trip last Thursday night, and this time he’ll be gone much longer than the one night.

Oh, yeah, and we have two sick kids.  BabyN puked everywhere less than an hour after he left.  I got to take his high chair apart, clean it one piece at a time, and reassemble it during his naptime.  Then he screamed for a good part of that naptime, which made it very difficult to do anything.

The dog’s been insane.  Of course.  She can’t leave me alone, probably because she’s lonely–and probably needs to pee.  She won’t go when I take her outside.  Can grief do that to a dog?  Make them too sad to pee when they get the chance?

Then there’s PJ.  He’s recovering from his cold; mostly just the cough is left.  He feels just bad enough still that he spent his entire breakfast time screaming, his second tantrum of the day.  I can’t even begin to count how many he has had since then.  Do you think the cold is affecting his hearing?  Because he WILL NOT listen to me today and then acts horrified when he ends up in time-out for disobeying.

I should probably have compassion for my sick little boy, but I can’t muster any today.  He keeps forcing himself to cough, which obviously makes him feel worse.  And his forced coughs sound like he’s about to hurl.  It grates on my nerves that he won’t listen to anything I’m telling him to do that will help him feel better.  Surely he does want to feel better, right?

The worst part is that I can’t share any of this with M.  He’s super busy at the conference thing, and I can’t just call him on a whim to vent or even share a good story.  It would be even better if we could split up the responsibility of caring for them like we do on the weekends.  It’s tough meeting all their needs all by myself when they are this needy.

And now I’m done venting.  I just needed to get that out of my system.  Maybe now I can readjust my attitude and the rest of the week will go easier.

I Should Start My Christmas Shopping as Early as I Start My Christmas Stressing

October 24, 2008

Now that Halloween is practically upon us, it’s time to start thinking about the bigger holidays looming in our near future.  And I don’t mean shopping for Christmas presents, although I’m sure I need to get a jump start on that before long too.

Last year after carting two kids and their many, many too-large presents nine hours away and back, we decided we weren’t doing that again.  Then we got a dog who travels with us, and the logistics of traveling for Christmas with the kids, dog, and presents became a bit overwhelming.  We decided it was time for our family to start our own family traditions at home.  I knew I’d miss Christmas with my parents, but it just seemed easier.

Talking with my mom the other day, however, I started getting really nostalgic about it.  My entire family will be there for Christmas this year; my small family will be the only ones left out–to spend Christmas at home by ourselves.  And that’s after spending the past two Christmases with M’s family.  I really wished that I had known that last Christmas with my family that it was going to be the last.  I actually broke into tears when my mom and I were talking about this.

I casually mentioned this conversation with M in the evening, not even asking if we could go this year but suggesting that we reconsider it.  His reaction was a bit stronger than I’d expected.  It was a hands-down refusal.

See, you might remember what happened last year at Thanksgiving.  To summarize, several of my family members were rude to M, saying awful things that were meant to be overheard.  Then there was the alcohol incident with PJ, where someone left their drink where PJ could–and did–get to it.  Then my dad chewed us out for letting PJ get to it and blew it off as a non-event instead of getting upset that someone carelessly let a two-year-old get to alcohol.

Life gets a little stressful with that many people packed into one house, and when there are personality conflicts, everyone suffers.  To make matters worse, M doesn’t act quite like I get to see him around my family–or his own, for that matter.  He’s already trying to impress them and is worried they won’t like him, so he tries extra hard to be likeable.  Naturally, that works against him, and people like my little brother don’t like the personality he presents.  It should be obvious to everyone that the M they see isn’t his real personality, but not everyone gives him credit for trying and instead tease him (sometimes not so innocently as teasing either).

In turn, M catches on that they don’t really like him, so he’s even more unable to be himself the next time he sees them, which only perpetuates the cycle.  I know everyone well enough to know that everyone should get along, if everyone was able to be themselves, but that just can’t happen until M feels like he’s able to relax around my family.

That ends up putting me in an awkward position.  M comes to me to vent about something my brother or dad or someone said to him (or around him), and I immediately look for excuses to explain away how awful it sounds.  Then my defense of the family member hurts M’s feelings; it’s like I’m not validating his feelings by attempting to defend my family.  I don’t want to believe my family could truly be that mean, and I don’t want M’s interpretation of events to turn me against my own family.  On the other hand, however, I need to support my husband, especially in situations where he feels particularly vulnerable.

So in theory, staying home for Christmas this year could be beneficial for M’s relationships to my family as well as our marriage.  When I think through it, I can see why M reacted so strongly to even the suggestion that we repeat what happened last Thanksgiving.

Still, later that evening I happen to catch M at the computer looking at hotels in the area around my parents’ house for a few days around Christmas.  He caught on just how much it would mean to me to go to Christmas with my family this year and found a reasonable compromise.  We will get to spend as much time as we want with my family, but when we need some time apart, we have somewhere to go.  Maybe the reduced time in that crowded house will keep a little more peace, will keep the clashing personalities a little farther apart.

Of course, we still have the logistics of traveling with two kids, a dog, and all their Christmas presents.  We may still decide it’s not worth it, but I like knowing that we have options now.  I may get that last Christmas with my family after all.

Lessons from Life as a Single Mom

October 23, 2008

I’m getting pretty good at this single mom stuff.  This is the third week in a row that M has been gone for a couple of days during the week, and as much as I dread his leaving, I find that I’m able to cope much better than I thought I would.

Of course, it’s just one night away.  Next week he’s gone for most of the week.  In the past, I would have considered going to my parents’ place for the week, but that can’t happen this time.  PJ would be devastated to miss school for a week, and I simply can’t do that to him just because I’m too much of a pansy to be the solo parent for that long.

So I’m learning how to cook dinner for all three of us, something I normally leave up to M while I keep track of the boys.  It may not be anything special, but nobody goes hungry.

I’m learning how to take care of fussy boys who don’t feel very good without being able to pass one off to M.  This morning was pure chaos.  PJ was crying, probably from this cold or allergies or whatever, and when not every detail of his day goes his way, he just breaks down.  BabyN was crying from teething, I guess.  He’d been up several times during the night because of it, too.  But I didn’t lose it this morning when one or the other was crying every second from the moment BabyN woke me up.

I’m even learning how to take both boys out at the same time, even for frivolous trips.  Yesterday was the first time I took both boys shopping alone, and not only did we all survive, but the boys were both good enough that I rewarded them by getting them a new (cheap) toy.

I’m feeling a little like SuperMom today.  I know most of the things I’m learning to do are things that most moms do without thinking, but they’re huge for me.  I’ve needed this self-confidence.  It’s just too bad that it takes me being forced to do them to try them.  Still, the confidence I’m finding is motivating me to try other things that I’ve wished I could do for some time.

Who knows what I’ll end up doing next week when M is gone for the whole week…

Need Baking Advice

October 22, 2008

Does anybody know of a good recipe for cookies that doesn’t require any eggs?  I’d particularly like sugar cookies, but I’m open to all suggestions.  Or do you have a good, easy substitute for eggs, one that you’ve tried and has worked well?

No, I Don’t Want Cheese with my Whine

October 20, 2008

I’ve been super lazy.  I haven’t had much to write about, so I’ve just been avoiding spewing out some pointless drivel.

Well, that isn’t entirely true.  While I would have been spewing out some pointless drivel, it would have been to avoid what I really wanted to talk about; it would have been to avoid coming across like I’m complaining.

So the short version is that I’m going through another spell of the achy joints.  I spent the weekend alternating between trying other possible remedies that M found online for me and hopelessness.  It’s been worse this time than I remember in the past.

M goes out of town later this week and is already talking about taking Friday off after getting back so late on Thursday night.  If he does, I may coax him to watch the kids so I can go see the doctor about this, if I’m still in pain then.  It lasted well over two weeks last time, so I think that’s likely.  Maybe by the weekend I’ll have a better idea what’s going on.

And that’s all I’m going to say about it until I know something.  I know I can be a baby when I don’t feel good, so I’m making a real effort not to this time around.  I’m biting my tongue when I want to complain to M, and I’m not going to go on and on about it here either.  Nobody likes a whiner.

Oh, speaking of whiners, PJ has either a bad allergy attack or a cold.  The poor kid feels pretty bad.  I hate that there’s so little I can do to help him feel better.  He definitely got his pain tolerance from me, though.  He just cries for ages over the tiniest little thing.  It frustrates me, partly because I don’t feel strong enough to handle it right now, but I totally understand where he’s coming from.  I just wish I could take it all away and make him feel normal again.

So I wonder if I should risk taking him to school tomorrow.  It’s mostly just a runny nose, no fever or anything.  He probably picked it up from school in the first place if it’s not just allergies.  He’s still been wanting to play and asked repeatedly today if he could “go see teacher” today.  I think he would do just fine at school, but I don’t want to risk exposing the other kids if it’s contagious.  I always had problems deciding whether I was sick enough to stay home; it’s much more difficult deciding whether PJ is sick enough, when I don’t even know just how he feels.  I guess I’ll have to see how he’s doing in the morning and make my final decision then.

This and That

October 15, 2008

It seems I’m in a mood to do choppy, bulleted posts today.  Sorry.

–I may have found a solution for the costume dilemma I’ve blogged about far too much already.  I presented the problem to my mom, who has since been thinking about circus costumes I could do for PJ.  She remembered a tiger costume that she made many, many years ago that all four of us kids wore at one point or another.  It is still sitting in her attic and should be approximately the right size for PJ.  It’s probably not the cutest costume in the entire world, but it has sentimental value.  If it’s still wearable, he will wear that.  Then when I mentioned the possiblity of dressing like a tiger for Halloween and showed him some pictures online of tiger costumes, he quickly became obsessed with tigers and tiger pictures.  Even if the costume doesn’t fit, I think we’ll find a way for him to go dressed as a tiger.

When I told M about the sentimental value attached to this costume, he told me about a pumpkin costume he wore as a child that he wished his mom hadn’t gotten rid of.  That gave me the idea to dress BabyN as a pumpkin, even if it’s not the same costume, also for the sentimental value.  I ordered the pumpkin costume online last night.  I don’t care of neither costume is the perfect costume as far as cuteness or originality; they are perfect for totally different reasons this year.  That’s good enough for me.

–Funny story: Yesterday morning I was nursing BabyN in bed, our normal morning routine.  When he finishes eating, he usually sits up next to me while I’m still lying down and plays for a minute before we get up for the morning.  Yesterday when he was finished, he sat up and played, then suddenly decided he wasn’t finished eating after all.  I hadn’t closed up shop yet, so he saw the boob, then leaned over where he was sitting and went at it.  The way he was positioned, he was lying on one leg; his foot was literally under his head.  It looked incredibly uncomfortable, but he looked perfectly happy lying there like a contortionist.  I’m starting to believe he has double-jointed hips.  Even for a flexible baby, that was pretty crazy.

–The stupid dog got out of the yard again this morning.  I let her out by herself for just a minute because she was begging to go out and hadn’t peed yet since getting up, and I was busy with taking care of the boys.  I knew the second I heard the knock on our front door that she had gotten out again.  Sure enough, there was our neighbor with her–again.  Unfortunately, it rained most of the day yesterday.  When she dug out, she was digging through mud.  She was covered with it.  I took her straight to the bathroom and gave her a good bath.  Even afterwards, I noticed she was tracking mud all over the house.  And of course the house smells like wet dog now.  I need to go back and do more cleaning today than I’d normally do in a week.  I love her to death, but I’m so irritated with her right now.  Why does she insist on digging out when it’s obvious how happy she is here?

–This is kind of embarrassing.  Without telling the whole story, basically M and I (mostly me) woke up PJ last night from our “adult activity.”  That was a first.  I know I’ll laugh about it later, in that embarrassed laugh, complete with red cheeks, but for now I’m just hoping and praying he doesn’t remember and doesn’t ask any questions.  Thank goodness for his limited language skills.


October 14, 2008

Sorry about my extended absence here.  I just haven’t had any motivation whatsoever to blog, on this blog or the family one.  I hate the guilt I feel about it, but that’s apparently not quite motivation enough to actually write something.

Nope, there’s nothing going on, nothing wrong.  I’m just finding my extended blogging time to be challenged by many other priorities these days.  I’m also looking into adding another one: exercising.  I hit a new highest non-preggie weight this morning, and my self-esteem is at a new low.  I absolutely must make time to start working out so that I’ll feel like I’m doing something about it, even if I don’t see any changes for a good long time.

So anyway, to end this totally lame post, if I’m not around much for a while, now you know why.  Maybe I’ll find motivation again soon, though, and this whole admission will have been pointless.

Oh, yeah.  I did it again.  PJ’s teachers were looking for parents to sign up to bring stuff for the class’s party on Circus Day (in lieu of a Halloween party), and the only slots left were fruit or cookies.  Duh.  I signed up to bring cookies.  Right now I’m considering making some sugar cookies and cutting them out in the shape of a clown or monkey or something.  But since I’ve never done that before, I’m also open to other ideas.  It doesn’t have to follow a circus theme, but I think it would be cute if the cookies did.

Friends for PJ and Me

October 9, 2008

What a morning!  It was a special day at PJ’s school, with police cars and motorcycles, a fire truck, and even a police horse there for the kids to see.  Because of the events, parents were invited.  Of course, I decided I just HAD to show up.

You know if you’ve been reading for a while, that this was pretty far out of my comfort zone.  What time would I need to come back to his school?  What would I be doing while I was there?  How would I interact with the other children?  Would I be the only mom to show up?

But it was worth my discomfort to be there for my baby boy.  It was great getting to watch him around his school friends.  And of course I settled in after a few minutes and started feeling more comfortable there, even when BabyN started losing it.  The other kids were curious about me and BabyN; it was cute to see how they reacted to the baby.  The sweetest was the little boy who handed me the baby doll who looked amazingly like BabyN, I guess thinking that the doll must be my baby too.

Another mom ended up coming back for the activities as well, and it was nice getting to meet yet another mom.  I don’t see her as my future BFF or anything, but she seemed really nice.  The two of us helped with crowd control.  It was certainly needed with ten two-year-olds and one three-year-old (PJ) who all wanted to go their own ways–especially PJ.

I learned a lot about how PJ compares to his peers and how he interacts with them from that one hour at his school.  He doesn’t have any issues different from his peers and actually seems more mature about some things.  The problems I noticed may be more severe than his friends, but they’re not unique (like throwing things or wandering off or insisting on doing what he wants not what he’s being asked to do).  He is definitely behind, but not as far behind as I’d thought.

I learned a lot of respect for those teachers too.  They didn’t get one second to rest with all those kids.  It was pure chaos, and they’d have to work miracles to keep that from happening.  They were doing an awesome job of keeping the chaos to a minimum.  I can certainly see why they always have two of them in the classroom.

And best of all, on my way in I ran into that other mom from Tuesday again.  We brightened when we saw each other and chatted for a few minutes.  I learned her name from the sign-in sheet, and it’s definitely something I can remember, my maiden name.  I think maybe there’s a chance we will be more than just MDO friends in the future, but until then I will look forward to our five-minute chats on our way in and out of the building.

This whole making friends thing feels a lot like dating to me.  Why does it have to be so hard?  On the bright side, I still have my good old high school friends to hang out with every so often.  They may not have kids yet, but we still connect because of our shared history.  Tomorrow I get to hang out with one of them (with that same maiden name of mine…curious).  I’ll have to let you know how that goes when we get back from our excursions.