Sunday, May 31, 2009

bad, bad news

My cousin's ex-husband, who is a Chicago police officer, is in the hospital in critical condition after having been in a terrible car accident. The accident happened as he sped to the scene of a crime this past week. Because another driver did not get out of his way, D's police car crashed into a pole.

Apparently, as D was trapped and unconscious in his police SUV, a couple of men actually stole his gun and wallet, and while doing so they may have made the injuries even worse. He suffered some spinal injuries and, as anyone who has taken a First Aid class or watched an episode of ER knows, moving a person who has hurt their back and neck is probably the worst thing you could do. So, not only did these onlookers not help, but they likely caused more damage as they committed a crime on an unconscious and seriously hurt cop.

I just can't get this out of my mind, and my mom just informed me this evening that there is a chance that D won't make it. And if he does survive, it is highly likely that he will be paralyzed.

I can't picture D being paralyzed. He's a big, strong, boisterous man, who was always ready with a joke. He always seemed really eager to please and befriend people. Before he and my cousin separated, I spent a good amount of time at their house. They lived a mile away from my parents' house, and I often babysat their daughter after D went to work and before my cousin got home from her job as a nurse. Though I have only seen him once in the last 8 years or so, I just can't stop thinking of him and hoping he will pull through and not just survive, but someday walk again.

The only thing I can do is pray, I guess, and I have been doing that quite a lot. If you are so inclined and think of it, maybe you could include D in your prayers, too. I'm sure he would appreciate it and I know I would, as would my other cousin, 'The Lil Mom That Could'.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

chores and summer vacation

I recently read a post by Good Fountain about summer vacation and maintaining a schedule. She asked people to give suggestions on how best to structure the long, hot days of summer. And now that I have lived through about 5 hours of the first day of summer vacation, I realize I need some help, too. Desperately.

Let me give you a glimpse of our first day of vacay:

It is really overcast and a bit drizzly, so we have spent the morning inside the house. It all started quite nicely with Charlotte and Danny playing well together and eating their breakfasts in peace. The peace and harmony, however, did not last. Danny got a time-out, and now after many more time-outs in the last few hours, I can't even remember what that one was for. Possibly for yelling at me, which he has done a lot today. Anyway, while in a time-out, he proceeded to tear apart his room, pushing his mattress on the floor, pulling out toys, etc.

The kids wanted a video, but I insisted that they get dressed and do some chores first. Charlotte cooperated beautifully: she got dressed and helped me clean up the entire family room. Danny, on the other hand, got really angry and refused to get dressed. He finally began cleaning up the mess he had made in his room, but yelled almost the entire time. When he realized I wouldn't help him clean while he yelled, he finally shut up. But, he still refused to get dressed, so he didn't get to watch the video. Throughout the morning, he got at least two more time-outs for yelling at me.

Later, it was Charlotte's turn to act up. She said she wanted Cheerios for lunch, so I gave them to her. For some inexplicable reason, she got upset and asked for more Cheerios. Since she had plenty, I refused since I knew she wouldn't be able to eat any more than I had given her. Well, My darling girl was annoyed, so she purposely tipped over her bowl onto the table. After her long time-out, she decided that instead of the Cheerios, she wanted a hot dog. I said that she had to finish the Cheerios first, since I had already poured the milk on them, per her request, and I am sick to death of wasting food. This time, she got angry and threw the bowl on the floor. She is now in time-out and has been for a good 15 minutes.

All this has happened in just 4.5 short hours. I wonder what the rest of the day will bring.

So, here's my question for you:
How do you structure your days in the summer and what kinds of chores do you make your kids do? I could use some advice here, in case that wasn't already obvious.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Tuesday's Random Thoughts

**Why is it that when you bring your own save-the-earth-canvas bags to Wal-Mart, the cashiers always seem to cram as much as humanly possible into one bag, but when they use those environment-destroying plastic bags, they put two apples and a box of pudding into one and call it good? I swear every time I leave that place with my own bags, they are practically bursting at the seams, and now a couple of my bags are ripping.

**The other day as I was chasing her, Charlotte shrieked, "You can't catch-up me!"

**My family visited this weekend to attend Tommy's baby blessing at church. During that time, Charlotte stripped at least three times in front of various family members after having peed all over herself each time. Danny offended my new sister-in-law by picking his nose and eating his findings. At the dinner table. Tommy peed all over my other sister-in-law and spit up on me, Bil, and my mom. Oh, and Danny pulled off his pants in the front yard because he needed to go to the bathroom, and this happened in full view of my neighbors who were at that moment pulling into their driveway.

No one can say that life at the Pancake house is boring, especially if one tends to like bathroom humor.

**Sadly, this is all I can think of to say in this post. I seem to be suffering from writer's block. Perhaps the lack of sleep these last 2.5 months is finally catching up to me.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Do Not Panic

I went to parent-teacher conference tonight; I was a bit apprehensive because my last conference several months ago gave me cause for some sleepless nights.  It also rekindled my worry that perhaps Danny is on the Spectrum, after all, despite his previous diagnosis to the contrary.  The biggest concerns Miss A had were with his social interactions and his pencil grip.   He interacted with the other kids, but didn't tend to initiate those interactions and seemed to prefer to be alone.  

Anyway, at today's conference Miss Angie told me that Danny is one of the only kids in the whole class who now uses a correct pencil grip.  I am really proud of him; he has worked on this so hard and is doing so well.  While I am really glad he has seemed to overcome this problem, I am wondering why the teacher made such a big deal of  it in the first place if it is something universally difficult for kids.  I didn't realize that practically the entire preschool class was struggling with the same issue.  Knowing that might have saved me a bit of anxiety and stress. I had visions of Danny being the only kid who couldn't hold the pencil right and worried that this was going to hold him back somehow.  (I'm really not sure how.  After all, I know several adults who hold their pens incorrectly and one of them is a pathologist.  Obviously this hasn't hurt his career any.)   Why don't teachers think to tell you that these sorts of things are normal?  Is it because they think we won't take them seriously otherwise?

All year long we have worked on the pencil grip.  I spent so much time telling him to fix his grip and he would get really annoyed with me. (really, who could blame him?)  Finally, I decided to let it go.  I figured if he was willing to practice writing, I should quit hounding him.  I didn't want to make it an ordeal for him and turn him off to writing entirely.  And what was the result?  Danny practices his writing every day and has basically fixed his grip on his own.  I never have to correct him anymore at all.  Makes me sheepishly admit that perhaps all my worrying sometimes makes things worse.

Anyway, as for his social interaction, Danny is doing pretty well in that area as well.  He still tends to play on his own, but interacts a lot on the playground.  Miss A. says she is really pleased with his progress and is confident he will do well in kindergarten.  And on top of all that, there were several other areas in which Danny has totally excelled.  He is one of only two boys in the class who can read many words, and has completely caught up in the motor skills areas.

I guess this goes to show that sometimes kids just need time to catch up, that panicking isn't necessarily the best response.  I do wish someone could have spared me all that worry.  When I tried to get reassurance from his teacher at his last conference, she was really noncommittal about whether she thought he would catch up.  While I understand she could make me no promises, I wish someone could have assuaged my worries just a bit.  I guess I should have had more confidence in my own judgment and instincts.

Regardless, Danny is doing well, and though there are still struggles, I need to remember
 that struggles are normal for every kid.  This has been a good reminder that I need to keep things in perspective.  The fact that Danny likes to play alone at school does not negate all the times when he plays with his friends in small group situations, like play dates.   Just because he tends to get overwhelmed in large groups doesn't mean he will never have friends.   

I guess Douglas Adams was even more brilliant than I originally thought.  I think I will adopt his mantra, "Do not panic."  It might save me, and everyone I know, a lot of anxiety if I do.

Friday, May 15, 2009

belated monday mumbers--a tribute to Kia

Elizabeth over at Three Channels had an excellent idea for this week's Monday Mumbers.  I know I am almost a week late on this one, but I had a pretty hectic week what with fruitless attempts to potty train Charlotte, parent teacher conferences (more on this later), a service project I was in charge of at church, etc.  

OK, so Elizabeth's idea was to do a Monday Mumbers totally dedicated to Kia of Good Enough Mama, the blogger who not only invented Monday Mumbers, but who has touched many of our lives here in the blogiverse.  So, even though at this moment Kia is sunning herself in Florida and I am insanely jealous, I am joining Elizabeth in her Kia Love Fest.  Please join me, all those of you who know Kia, and let her know how much we miss her!

11 About the number of months I have followed Kia's blog.

23,089,671,234,567  Approximate number of times I have laughed out loud while reading Kia's blog.

53,970,234  Number of times I have wished I was as funny a writer as Kia.

2,459,000,356  Number of times I have wished longingly that Kia lived down the block from me.  I just know I would be at her house like every day in pursuit of great conversation, validation, lots of good laughs, and genuine friendship.  I promised her I would bring all the chocolate and baked goods, but so far she has decided to stay in Canada, perhaps due in no small part to the fear that I would become her stalker.

3 Number of three awesome packages I have received from Kia.  Two of the packages were my winnings from her really fun contests.  Until Kia started blogging, I had never won much of anything.  The third package was a gift for my baby.  I was so touched that she would actually send a beautiful little baby outfit to me, someone she has never officially met!  

520,907 Number of times Kia has personally reassured me and comforted me about some parenting issue I was dealing with.   She never fails to make me feel better and to know exactly the right thing to say.

709,304,567 Number of times I have felt admiration well up inside of me at all that she does every day.  Her patience with Little Man is astounding, but it is that she deals with not just a son with SPD and OCD, but also a husband with OCD as well, that totally floors me.  Can you imagine????  I can barely handle it when my husband has strep throat, and even then I often take care of him very begrudgingly.

523 Number of times I have thought of LM when I have seen a worm.  Don't worry, Kia, I am still working on my idea of raising and training therapy worms!

30 Number of times I have checked Kia's blog this week knowing that she is out of town.  I enjoy her blog so much, I was hoping she might have somehow posted this week and I didn't want to miss it if she had.

12 Number of times I have told my husband about Kia and have made him read one of her posts.  Kia is a household word around these parts!  Well, at least in the Pancake house.

??? Number of people she has educated about kids with special needs, especially SPD and OCD. Not only has she explained about the specific disorders, but she has described quite astutely what life is like parenting these kids.   I don't know what this number is, but I know it is a big one.

If you have never read Kia's blog, you should totally check her out.  You won't regret it and you too will soon be lobbying for her to move to your block. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

why I will probably never win the mother of the year award

In honor of Mother's Day, Michelle at All About Potential posted the reasons why she is the best mother in the world.  She encouraged others to follow her lead.  And I tried.  I really did, but all I could think of were the really scatter-brained things I have done lately, or the areas in which I lack.  So, here are a few of the reasons I will probably never win the mother of the year award, but I am ok with that.

** The other day around 11 or so, I was feeding Tommy and I felt some wetness on my lap.  I wasn't fazed--his diaper leaks every so often.  When I changed his diaper, though, it was fuller than I have ever seen it.  It was then that I realized that I hadn't changed his diaper all morning, like since probably 5 am.  I don't know how I forgot, except that we were running late that morning..... yeah, lame excuse.

** Charlotte had french fries and lemonade for lunch Thursday.  I went out for lunch with some friends to celebrate a birthday and I so needed the adult time that I bribed the kid.  I ordered her just the fries and lemonade because I knew she would be content for at least 45 minutes.  I didn't even try to get her to eat anything healthy at all.  I didn't even order chicken nuggets in an attempt to look less negligent.  Nope, just the fries and lemonade.  She loved it!

** I regularly laugh when my kids wipe out.  OK, not when they are crying or bleeding or anything, but when they fall and it isn't too serious, I just can't help but laugh.  I swear they look like slap stick comedians and make some totally funny falls.  Plus, the looks on their faces are hysterical--that stunned, did-I-just-do-that-look.  See, I am a mean mommy.  In my defense, it typically diffuses the situation and the kids often end up laughing with me.  So, I guess am teaching them the valuable life lesson of being able to laugh at themselves.

** Danny's teacher has recommended to all the parents whose kids can't tie their shoes that we work with them at home.  So what have I done?  Absolutely nothing.   Nothing at all.  We both prefer to be lazy and use velcro.

** I have never had a birthday party for either of my kids.  We have never invited the kids' friends over for birthday cake.  Nope, instead, we keep it just the immediate family because I just don't have it in me to host a bunch of crazy kids who will overstimulate my kid.

** I lie to my kids.  Quite often, actually.  You know, I tell them things like, "I don't have any candy" or "That toy that talks?  Oh, the batteries must be dead" or "Sorry, I don't know how to fix that.  Go ask Daddy to do it."  That kind of thing.

**The other night I made a quesadilla for Danny for dinner and forgot it in the microwave for about an hour.  It wasn't until Danny mentioned how hungry he was that I realized I had never given the kid his meal.

**My kids never sleep in a bed.  Even as I am writing this, both kids are sleeping on the floor.  Charlotte is actually splayed in the middle of the hallway.  I hope neither of us trip on her on our way to make Tommy a bottle.

** I let my kids jump on the bed.  All the time.

**I let my kids eat raw cookie dough.  And as I can never resist the siren call of chocolate chip cookie dough, I can't even bring myself to cut them off, since that would mean I couldn't eat it either.

** I have been known to let Danny play outside in the rain and get totally filthy and soaking wet. I have actually joined him in his escapades and we had a lot of fun. 

I hope you all had a great Mother's Day. I know I did.  I received something like 5 different forms of candy (all chocolate, of course, since any other candy just isn't worth it) and a half dozen roses.  What more could a girl ask for?  Oh, and I received a couple nights of uninterrupted sleep, courtesy of my wonderful husband.  Doesn't Bil rock?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

sweet relief

Good news!  I just found a forgotten package of fun size Mint 3 Musketeers bars.


All is well with the world again.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Monday Mumbers--more throw up, chocolate and diets

For some really good Monday Mumbers, go visit Kia, the creator and Monday Mumbers goddess.

2 Number of times Charlotte threw up this weekend.

789 Number of times I worried that Charlotte must have the swine flu.

23,457 Number of times I have wanted to make a joke about the swine flu.  Call me immature, but I can't get the image of cartoon pigs with runny noses eating chicken soup out of my head.  Do pigs actually get the flu?  Will my daughter start snorting and oinking soon?

1 Number of times I almost ran screaming from my house Saturday.  After Charlotte got sick, Bil went off to the store to buy every form of electrolyte known to man.  I was totally freaking out that this would be a repeat of March's trip to the ER, so I was watching Charlotte like a hawk and praying she would be ok,  Anyway, Bil was gone maybe 3.6 minutes before everything fell apart here in the Pancake house.  Danny had a poop accident (again!!!!) in his underwear and was trying unsuccessfully to clean himself up, and basically the poop got EVERYWHERE.  Tommy was crying because of gas pain, and then Charlotte apparently felt left out of the chaos, because she barfed all over the couch.  So, here I was surrounded by almost every form of bodily secretion I could think of being expelled simultaneously from the bodies of my children.  

You gotta give my kids credit: they are genuises at comic timing.

15 The number of hours I spent Friday frantically cleaning my house for the weekend visit of my brother and his wife.

0 The number of visitors who came and enjoyed my freshly cleaned house.  My sister-in-law woke up Saturday morning with a bad sore throat, so basically all that cleaning was for naught.

15 The number of minutes it took my kids to undo all the cleaning I had done on Friday what with all the poop, vomit and just regular playing .

4.2 Number of pounds I had lost this month before I weighed in this week

2 Number of pounds I supposedly gained this week despite having stuck pretty well to my diet.  
No, seriously.  I actually cut myself off from the mini Mint 3 Musketeer bars and am going through withdrawals.  I'm sitting here sweating and jonesing for one of those 3 Musketeer bars and all for what?  To gain 2 pounds?!?!?!?!  Where is the justice in that?

6578 Number of times I have cursed my scale and thought of tossing the thing out the window.

5 The number of times Bil has exclaimed over the fact that Danny knows how to do a google search.  Apparently, the other day while he was on the computer, Danny got onto google, typed in the words "Baby Einstein," pressed enter, and found the baby einstein home page. Scary.  So, Bil is now looking through all his software to see if we have any parent safety stuff to put on the computer to make sure Danny doesn't accidentally end up ordering thousands of dollars worth of Pixar cars or somehow meeting and falling in love with some old lady from Milwaukee in a chat room.... 

Saturday, May 2, 2009

my neurosis is better than your neurosis

The other day, when I took Charlotte to the preschool screening, I overheard a rather interesting conversation in which a mother detailed her house hunt.  She told her friend about a house in a neighborhood with a nice little park a block away.  Then she said, "But let's be honest.  I would never let my kids go to the park alone until they were like 16.  I am just not THAT kind of mom."  The conversation continued for about 15 more minutes during which she repeated several times, "I'm just not THAT type of mom.  I am not a relaxed type of mom."

The weird part of this exchange was how proudly she made this statement, as if it were a major accomplishment being a seriously overprotective mother.  (And please, keep in mind we live in a pretty safe little town.) On top of that, she implied that THOSE types of moms, you know, the ones who actually ~gasp~ let their kid walk around the block, are somehow inferior to her.

Fast forward to today when I dropped a meal at a friend's house.  She just had a baby a week ago and told me how she was going to have to take her newborn to Wal-mart this week for grocery shopping.  I asked her why she couldn't leave the baby with her husband.  She responded with, "Patty, I can't LEAVE the baby.  I just can't do that."  Apparently, she thinks it is wiser to expose her newborn to the scary flu germs than to leave him with his father.  While I disagree with her logic, that was not what mystified me.  Like the mother at the preschool screening, J was totally smug and condescending.  Her tone implied that I was either incredibly stupid for assuming she would leave her son for an hour (with his father, for pete's sake!) or I am a totally negligent mother, since I regularly place my children's lives in the hands of their father.

I am not a stranger to women who are competitive, especially when it comes to motherhood.  We all know that mother who looks down on us because she thinks her mothering skills are far superior to ours.  But when did it become en vogue to believe the most neurotic mother is the best?  I am not judging people who are neurotic.  Please.  I definitely have my fair share of neuroses, but I have never looked on them as a badge of honor proving me to be a stellar mother.  I have always been a bit sheepish and embarrassed when my neuroses have been revealed.  I hoped they made me quirky and charming, but I never thought they demonstrated my superiority as a mother.

If you are going to judge me, base it on something important.  Look down on me because I let my kids eat way too much sugar, or because I yell at them regularly.  Judge me for my impatience or my grouty shower.   That would all make sense. But to assume you are a better mother because your kids are going to need years and years of therapy because you won't let them go to the park?  Just doesn't make any sense at all.