There's no place like

Monday, May 31, 2004

I have been holding the results of my children's TCAPs for more than a week now. I have mixed feelings about standardized tests, especially the way that the school prepare and administer them, but here are the highlights of the results. Obviously one of my children didn't even try. I know this because last year's scores were so different. Sarah's scores: Language 98% Math 99% Science 88% Social Studies 67% Total 97% (they don't include science or social studies to figure this) Noah's scores: Language 97% (10th grade equivalency) Math 91% Science 93% Social Studies 61% Total 95% (they don't include science or social studies to figure this) Tommy's scores: Reading 13% Language 20% Math 1% Science 1% Social Studies 4% Total 3% (they don't include science or social studies to figure this)

Fate just kicked me in the pants again. I was mindlessly tossing the laundry in the washer then the dryer when I noticed the multicolored dryer sheets. Yes, I have AGAIN trashed a load of laundry by washing crayons that were tucked in Noah's jean pockets. Jeans with red, blue and yellow specks might become our new family uniform.

Do you think I could banish glitter from our house?

I finally finished organizing the 10,000 beads, hair scrunchies, craft supplies and assorted mess in the girls' room. While I was doing it Doug came up and took Amy from the room so I wouldn't have to do twice the cleaning. He offered to watch her so I could clean. A few minutes later he went back downstairs and I should have stopped and gone to watch Amy in the living room but I was trying so hard to get the room done that I waited. By the time I went to check on her she had climbed on the table and gotten into the cookie cabinet. In doing so she knocked over a coke and it soaked the Sunday paper and got on my papers and in my keyboard. I have too much cleaning to get to sit and read the paper anyway. Amy napped for an hour and that gave me the time I needed to finish the girls' room. Now the kitchen is trashed again so I'm going to risk leaving Amy unwatched long enough to start a load of laundry and then I'll clean the kitchen. I thought Doug was going to hang the hardware in the hall bathroom but he was just "thinking" about where he was going to put it. Sarah is spending the day at my parents getting to do whatever she wants. "Sure you can make pancakes for lunch."

Amy just put on her swimsuit (all by herself) and is walking around saying "swim". I think we may need to get a wading pool this year.

Huge storms in the night with lightning flashes that you could see through closed eyelids and boomers that made everyone jump. My dog was upset by the noise and stumbled her way on the bed so she could huddle between Doug and I for safety and petting. Amy was restless from the storm and cried out several times. The two boys who played with k-nex until nearly midnight slept soundly and undisturbed. Today needs to be a boring laundry day for me or my family will be naked this week. I also need to plant the sweet potato that took forever to grow but now has vines growing all over the kitchen sink window where the potato sits in a glass of water. I still haven't read the Sunday paper either.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Spent the day cleaning while Doug worked on his hobby website. Took the entire crowd to my parents' pool for a few hours and now we're home. And we're tired.

Three tired, over-stimulated are home now. I can't decide if they should have a calm, quiet afternoon or if we should take them to the park to work out the energy.

I can't do anything but stare out the front window and hold my breath, waiting.

Spent the afternoon and evening moving dirt at my parents' house. Their lawn is looking great. Ours looks like a disaster area. The children come home today. I need to go bathe and get dressed. I'm sure my parents expect us to come over and work on their yard more. I am still in the process of rearranging everything in the girls' room so that Amy can't get into Sarah's toys instead of napping.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Doug just realized that Monday is a holiday and not a good day for job hunting. He is devastated.

I agreed to help pass out snacks at VBS again this year. I helped the past two years, even when I was a week overdue with Amy. "When are you due?" "Last week." "Ohhhh(said as they retreat quickly)." Anyway, I got an 'application' to be a VBS volunteer in the mail. I would have no problem with a copy of my license and signing off on permission for them to run a criminal background check. BUT, they also want personal references, my education, training and experience working with children, employment history, residence history and a statement about my personal salvation experience. I graduated from a private college-prep school and have two college degrees. I have experience doing social work and advocacy in the mental health field. Although out of practice, I am competent in ASL. I have taught ASL to children in VBS and been in in charge of the crafts for 200+ VBSers. I taught Sunday School for two years. I run a support group and have good HTML skills. I am a Girl Scout leader and an amateur photographer. I have four children. Do you think I'm qualified to hand out cookies?

Big Tommy

Large family of humans seeks new canine family member We are looking for a new puppy to be a part of our family. Will go outside to play with small humans but otherwise be inside the house. Sleeping on same bed as humans encouraged. Willingness to accompany family to soccer games, parks and other outings preferred. Daily pets, hugs and kisses promised. Yearly shots, spay/neuter and regular veterinary care guaranteed.

Doug fell asleep last night, so I brought Amy to our bed and held her for a while. She is either getting a cold or having some allergies. Could be either. This morning she was more interested in playing than in sitting in bed with us. I still haven't heard from the other children and my anxiety level is cranked up to high. Doug is playing with the cat using the laser pointer. I think I'll get dressed and try to find something fun to do with Amy. I want to go look at puppies. I have puppy on the brain. Before you gripe at me, recognize that puppy is better than baby because there's no college costs involved.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Entrusted a selfish liar with three of my most precious gifts for the weekend. Not that I'm bitter. :) Went to Sam's and loaded up on the groceries. My father called as we were walking in Sam's asking us to come over and spend the evening working on his yard. I said "no, we have our own yardwork that needs doing" but Doug told him we'd call back. Had no signal in Sam's so by the time I called back we were on our way home with frozen stuff. My mother was annoyed that we weren't at the house helping and when I offered to help Saturday even though we had planned on spending Saturday on our yard she got snappy. "I have to take my mother for a haircut and shopping. You'll have to tell your father you aren't coming because I won't." So I tried talking to my father and offered to work around their Saturday errands. He didn't know about the Saturday errands and got snappy with me. "How am I supposed to get anything done around here if I have to spend my weekends doing stuff for her mother?" I wanted to scream that I felt like that but instead I made ugly gestures at the phone. So, now we're at home and I feel guilty because we didn't go work on my parents yard and I know we'll end up over there all day tomorrow. Our yard is never going to get done.

There's an old joke about successful marriages being the ones where only one partner is crazy at a time. Doug is continuing downhill in his jobless anxiety and I am falling apart over my ex having the older children for the weekend. Tommy is angry and oppositional about his father visiting. Sarah is refusing to clean and Noah is happily doing his own thing. The eye twitch is really irritating me. It's too muddy to work on the yard. Whine. Complain.

I'm still thinking about how 'Speed of Dark' ended. I know the story had to end but, it left a bad taste in my mouth. I don't want to ruin it for anyone so I'll just say that I think the author's personal feelings affected her decisions on the ending. Or maybe she wanted the story to serve as a warning and deliberately went from round and interesting to flat and colorless. Still, I don't like to feel sad after a book.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

The missing mail is starting to trickle back in my box. I spent the day watching girls get glittery from hair to toe. Sarah now refuses to wash her hair or face because she wants it to last longer. I will be washing her sheets tomorrow. After Libby Lu we walked the mall and I let Sarah play in all her favorite stores. Grocery store and then home to a house with toys everywhere. I'm off to straighten the upstairs so I can settle in bed and relax. I can tell by the amount of eye twitch I'm having that I need calm.

No time to play on the blog or whine about the two days worth of mail that I lost when the server switched. Time to get dressed and go to the mall. The entire Girl Scout troop is meeting there to eat and have glittery makeovers. Should be wild and take weeks to get the glitter off of everything. Poor Dad is going to stay home with the other children. Wait a minute. I'm not sure which one of us will have more fun. Hmmmm.

Terror attack this summer? Bush was getting too much grief about raping and murdering Iraqi prisoners so he is now going to do something to get the public's support. The only question is if he'll allow the attack to happen so that he can get away with whatever he wants in the wake of chaos and grief.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

So, what is Al Gore's motivation for the career suicide? Not that I don't agree with him, but I also know how bad the political climate is here right now. Anyone speaking out against Bush is risking arrest and major personal harassment.

I am too deep in my book and its' inferences to chemical castrations, ECT and forced lobotomies to do anything but sit and finish the book.

"I am totally bored. There's nothing to do." Everyone who voted for Tommy gets a big pat on the back for their brilliant foresight. Time for a new poll.

I can now receive e-mail, but all my old mail is lost in space somewhere. Doug is off doing tech support for an old friend of his who is still best friends with his ex-wife.

Still no e-mail. Doug still walking around with a scowl and a growl but I'm not allowed to say he's in a bad mood. He finally bought the supplies to plant out front but every time I say something other than what he had in his 'vision' he looks like a deer in headlights, then says "whatever you say". It makes me afraid to say anything to him at all if it upsets him so much to have his plans and ideas questioned. Noah is begging to have friends over here. It looks and feels like rain outside so they'd end up stuck inside the house. If Doug was happy it'd be ok but when Doug is whatever-he-is-but-not grumpy I just think the noise would set him off. I'm going to wash another load of dishes and meditate on the nothingness of doing it. Oh, the icing on the cake is that my self-absorbed, liar of an ex will be here Friday with his nasal-shrill Boston girlfriend and her two smart-mouthed teenage daughters. It will take the children weeks to recover from the visit.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

My mail server should send me a box of chocolate and a bottle of valium.

No e-mail AND blogger is acting up. I knew I should have stayed in bed today. No winners in the "I'm bored" contest yet. They've said several similar type things but I'm not declaring a winner until I hear those exact two words.

The new chores lists are done and posted. The boys read them, shrugged and went back to their GameBoys. I have finished their reading logs and prepared their summer "school" boxes. I need two workbooks for Tommy's and then all is done. Basically each of them has a plastic container with workbooks, reading logs, etc. and I bribe them to do the work. If they work they get money in their checkbooks which can be used at "Mom's Store". The store is fairly well-stocked right now, they just aren't motivated. I need to add a lit of "outings" they can buy with checkbook money but I'm tired of this activity right now and need to focus on cleaning again. Still no e-mail.

Still no e-mail.

E-mail is still down. I decided to get the children's summer chore schedules and reading journals made.

Woke up early this morning and didn't feel like there was anything to get out of bed. I sspend the whole day trying to clean the house and not making any progress. Anyway, when I do get up I like to get my caffeine in while I check messages and read blogs. After that I start cleaning. Today my e-mail is down so I keep starting to clean then stop to see if mail is back. Repeat. Repeat. I can't get my day really going until the email is back and I've read my way through it all. Argh!

Monday, May 24, 2004

I still owe you a review from my most recently read book and I'm really tired but I'll try to give it the credit it deserves. It is a non-fiction book with several mini autobiographies of teens who have Asperger's. One of the teens is a published author who is a bit of a celebrity. When I read this teen's book I wondered how much of the book was his mother's editorial input and how much was his. His interview was very insightful. Reading the interviews is very interesting and I even let Tommy read the book. I've already written that Tommy's response to the book was "None of them are EXACTLY like me." That is one of the two things I got from the book. There is no such thing as "typical Aspie". The other thing I got was the question about the difference between Asperger's as a diagnosis vs. a personality type. Here is my personal input on that one. If none of your major life areas are affected then it is a personality. When you have significant impact on your ability to function at home, school or work then it becomes a diagnosis. I like the book and highly recommend it. In fact, I have just promised it to someone who I trust will actually return it. Right now I'm still too deep in Speed of Dark to give a review. I do wonder how someone without a family member would have written the story differently. Other than not knowing the characters of course.

Happy Birthday Noah! Today you are 8-years-old. It has flown so very quickly. You are my tender-hearted child. The third child, you spent a lot of time in my sling being carried from place to place. You had and still have a laid-back, whatever attitude about things. Falls, and scrapes don't slow you down but your feelings are fragile and you care greatly about others' feelings as well. You are funny, cute and fun to be around. You are smart and read at a level way beyond your young years. I can't imagine what your future will be but I know that you'll be happy at whatever you do. I love you.

I was too vague with my Shrek review because Doug read it and said "so you didn't like the movie". I DID like Shrek 2. I thought it was well animated and funny. The soundtrack was fun and the adult jokes were quite wry. If you saw the first Shrek you know that the movie tries to have a "moral" to justify itself. The moral hasn't changed so you know how the movie will eventually end but the journey is fun. Plus, if you've seen a movie at all in the last 5 years then you know better than to jump and run as soon as the credits look like they might roll. Talk-on-her-cell-phone-during-the-movie lady next to me apparently hasn't learned to sit and wait.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

I finished putting away the dinner leftovers and looked to see what everyone was doing. Amy stood naked in front of the large living room window watching Sarah and Noah out front, jumping rope in their pajamas while Tommy sang "Diamonds are Forever" along with Shirley Bassey. I would have been more upset by the mess Amy made while I stood there asking where her diaper went if I hadn't been so disturbed by the sound of my almost 14-year-old singing "they can stimulate and tease me". I think I know the source of my eye twitch.

I let Sarah videochat with some little girls in Australia thinking they'd ask questions about likes and dislikes. Instead Sarah made faces, sent smilie icons and said "dude". She's almost 11 but acts between 5 and 17.

Last night I sat in bed and read instead of cleaning. I'm sorry I didn't get any cleaning done but I can't wait to get everyone settled in so I can read some more tonight. I'm not giving my review until I've finished the book but I can already say that I'm having a very hard time concentrating on the book when I keep wanting to ask myself questions about the story. What would I do? What would I lose? If I wouldn't do it, then what do I want?

Why I shouldn't shop at Wal-Mart: The Wal-Mart You Don't Know How Wal-Mart is Remaking our World Wal-Mart: Big... and Bad? There are many more articles and websites anti Wal-Mart. Why I do shop at Wal-Mart: They are cheap and it's easier to buy groceries (canned goods and sodas), toys, DVDs, cleaning supples and home repair items in one stop. I discourage everyone from buying their nasty looking irradiated meat. Fruits, veges and meats I get from regular grocery or a specialty grocer.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

The movie started with previews that looked like they were the best parts of the movie and a very funny 'turn off your cell phone' bit. OK, don't go see Shrek 2 if you expect a new 'moral' ala Toy Story 2. The end is the same and there are no surprises but it doesn't matter. The jokes are funny and the animation is first rate. Go see it and then buy it on DVD next year. Of course the best jokes flew over the kids' heads and I did have to explain to Sarah what "lust" means but I still think it's child-friendly while adult worthy. Oh, Sarah's nails are a very pretty shade of pink! They look sweet and just right for an almost 11-year-old girl. Tonight the girls are at Mom's and I get (gasp) the house to myself so everyone who voted for that in last week's poll can be happy. You can also pick Doug's next lottery numbers because I can't believe I'm alone for the first time in umm, years? I should spend my time cleaning but I want to lie in bed and watch cheesy chick-flicks. Ice cream binging is out because I still can't eat more than a cracker or two without feeling green but I could live off the fat of the land for quite some time. Let's just call this a diet and hope for some weight loss.

I don't think Doug is relaxing any but the boys sound like they are having fun. Sarah is getting her "stop biting your nails" treat today. Her first real manicure. Can't wait to see what color she chooses. "How about a nice translucent pastel Sarah? No thanks, I'll take purple glitter." Afterward we're going to see Shrek 2. I know Odd Todd didn't like it but I'm looking forward to it. Besides, I see movies in the theater only twice a year or so (LOTR 3 was the last one) and my standards are much more generous than his.

Yesterday afternoon I went to Wal-Mart and then wanted to nap but I knew as soon as I got home that Doug wasn't up to the psychiatrist appointment (unless it was for him) so I took Tommy. After that I bought groceries and came home to find Doug in the same state he'd been all day. I snapped at him thoughtlessly when he interrupted my cleaning efforts. I continued making headway on the 2 days of neglect while he spent the evening in a tizzy. He finally went to bed which was all he was capable of doing at that point. I got Tommy and Noah's stuff ready for the camping trip but didn't gather Doug's. Big mistake. He spent hours wandering, gathering and getting upset this morning. I would like to think that he'll come back relaxed and happy but I know he won't. He'll continue his self-destructive cycle of frustration about being jobless that keeps him from being functional enough to get a job.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Went to Wal-Mart (yes I know that It's not politically correct to shop there) and felt so light-headed but achey that I really wanted to go to bed but I had to take Tommy to his psychiatrist. At the psychiatrist Tommy put on a show of his most immature behaviors and when I left the appointment I felt like I'd had all the blood drained from my body. Stopped at the corner grocery for food for the boys' camping trip. Came home and proceeded to put away the Wal-Mart and grocery stuff. Now I'm blogging while Amy eats the bowl of soup Doug heated up for me. As soon as I finish blogging I have massive amounts of cleaning to do when all I want to do is go back to bed.

We're almost out of diapers so I'm going to share my germs with the town and hope that I have the presence of mind to drive the car. I haven't eaten since Wednesday but I did have a full can of Sprite today. Oh, and about 8 tylenol.

I feel almost human again. As long as I move slow and pop tylenol every two hours I can even stay awake. Tommy seems almost jolly today. I'm going to get really brave now and try getting dressed.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Last night Doug and I sat in bed happily munching on roasted peanuts. This morning during the two hours it took to empty my stomach of them I kept hearing "found a peanut" in my head. Apparently I'm even stranger than usual when in the bathroom feeling like death because I then switched to "Seasons in the Sun" for my musical distraction. Having cleared out my stomach of everything, including the lining, I then spent the rest of the day drifting in and out of consciousness on the couch. When Amy napped Doug and I both stretched out on our bed in the cool basement. When I was in a sweat it felt good to be there but during the shaking chills I wished for a heating pad. Every time Doug moved I thought evil thoughts but luckily I was incapable of doing anything but drifting back to sleep. Now that I've actually kept some sips of Sprite down I feel a bit better. Like I've slept too much in fact. But only as long as I don't move. My body aches and although a beth helped (until Amy crawled in and the boys came in tattling because Tommy 'tricked' Noah into 'saying a bad word') I still feel like every muscle in my body is broken. My mother took pity on us and the three youngest are sleeping at her house tonight. Tomorrow has GOT to be better.

A stomach virus has taken over our household.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Having cold hands or feet can be written off to bad circulation. How do you explain a cold hiney? In bed I stick my popsicle feet against Doug to hear him scream and he leans that frozen fanny of his against me. It's not even a big rear. It's a small bottom that is just freezing cold all the time. Why is that?

Even though I was up from 4 until 5, I just didn't have the energy or mental clarity to blog. Tommy threw up his sugar binge. Guzzled water (Tommy doesn't sip anything) and vomited again. There is now no clean laundry and Tommy's room is going to need scrubbing top to bottom, every square inch. Not only does he not try to get to the bathroom, he doesn't even look down. He just stops what he's doing and lets it projectile out or dribble down as it wishes to do. The steroids have him in a rage that I would say is similar to that of a serial killer. Doug is tired, cranky and frustrated. Amy's right eye looks a bit watery but it's too soon to tell. I just want to crawl back under my covers and not get up for a week or two.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Left Tommy home while we went to Sarah's program. Amy was loud so Doug and I took turns standing outside with her. She was much happier after a nasty diaper that I changed in the car. The children all got to bed very late. Tommy is in bed moaning about his stomach after binging on sugar while we were gone. I do mean sugar. Half a box of sugar cubes, icing from the can, cookies, etc. Tomorrow we have a meeting at Tommy's school. We were going to leave him at home. Now I don't know what we'll do. Doug is upset with me and the house is still a wreck. I'm going to go take a double dose of Tylenol PM.

Off to Sarah's 5th grade class music program. She has already begged not to go. "The songs are sooooo babyish."

The worse the financial situation gets, the more physical symptoms everyone over here develop. Coincidence? I think not.

This weekend I learned that I don't put my pants on one leg at a time like the rest of the world. As I felt the belt loop tear free from the industrial strength stitching that had held it to the seat of my jeans, I realized I pull my pants on by the belt loops. Amazingly it took me close to 40 years to make this keen insight into myself. Even more amazing is the fact that I have the gall to make a blog entry about tearing the belt loop off my jeans.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Did I mention that my right eye started to twitch yesterday? It's like having your pulse on your face. Looks gross and feels worse. I need a vacation. 24 hours alone in a hotel with nothing to do but read and listen to the silence. Clean bathroom and no construction zones. It sounds so nice. It is so never gonna happen.

Where to begin? Sunday morning the house was completely unrecovered from the party but we headed to the grandparents' for a day of yard work. When we got there we learned that my mother had what she 'claimed' was food poisoning. The day was spent starting the re-landscaping of my parents' yard. It didn't get finished of course. That evening we all went to Sarah and Noah's choir program. Last night at bedtime Noah complained about his eye and I realized he had pink eye. The house still looked like a disaster because we hadn't yet spent any time at home to clean up where we walked in the door from the scout meeting with bags and boxes full of yarn and the birthday party with bags and boxes of stuff and tossed everything all over the living room and kitchen. Also, no laundry was washed the entire weekend because of all the activities. Doug sat in bed and whimpered about his sore muscles for about 5 minutes before he fell into a deep sleep. Flash ahead to this morning. Tommy's school asked that we pick him up and take him to the doctor because his face looks awful. I'll explain that better in his blog. So, I took a quickie bath, didn't wash my hair and hauled the two boys and Amy to the pede. We were lucky enough to get a nurse practitioner which I greatly prefer to doctors. I had forgotten my driver's license and credit card so I had to ask Doug to run them to me. He had a job interview and didn't need our help to make his day stressful. Noah's pink eye was confirmed and eye drops were prescribed. Tommy's scratching had turned into impetigo so he got antibiotics, steroids and cortisone. Neither of the boys can go to school tomorrow. From the pede to Burger King where Amy played happily on the indoor climbing gym. Then, straight to Tommy's psychologist to try and find a way to stop the picking. We couldn't find an easy explanation but Tommy gave every excuse he could think of why he would be so stressed that he'd scratch his skin off his face. The psych appt came during Amy's nap time so she cried and fussed the entire visit. We came home and Amy went down for a nap. So did Mommy. Tommy made sure to wake me every 15 minutes with questions. "Can I build a tent?" "Where's my D&D books?" Awoke from the nap to my mother calling to say the dr had diagnosed her with a virus and not food poisoning. We knew that already since Noah started vomiting this afternoon. He continues to do so even now. Doug can't handle yucky noses and jiggly teeth. I can't handle vomit. The smell sends me into heaves of my own. I went to the pharmacy and spent a week's worth of grocery money on prescriptions. Came home and Doug rushed out to handle our support group alone (couldn't very well ask my mother to babysit). He forgot his phone. Of course, looking at the mess and state of people over here I wonder if he didn't 'forget' on purpose. Amy is watching "Finding Nemo" for the second time today and my head is throbbing. I need a valium.

Today has not started calmly. Chaos and disorder reign supreme. Go bother someone else Eros!

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Does an eye twitch mean I'm too stressed or am I just falling apart?

Doug did something kind and considerate. I looked at him and said "You're so good, you're so great." He looked at me and replied. . . What do you think he said? I will tell you that it rhymed and made me laugh so hard I cried.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

Because we are strange parents who think a certain amount of chaos is normal, we had 26 children, 2 infants and a dozen adults gather for a mass birthday party. One chocolate cake, two cupcakes and a giant cookie were required as well as 26 goody bags, juice boxes and the other necessary supplies. We accomplished a party with no tears or hurt feelings! Would have been a flawless event if not for one missing watch that was pocketed by an unknown 8-y-o boy. We haven't decided if we should forget about it or bring it to the other parents' attention so that when someone has to explain where his new watch came from his parents will have an alarm bell go off in their heads. Your thoughts?

Friday, May 14, 2004

Even though I felt it coming on all day yesterday, I couldn't stop the migraine that slammed me by afternoon. Today it is still sitting there, taunting me that it will burst back into full flame at any moment. Very frustrating. Because I didn't feel up to doing my usual evening walk-through of the upstairs where I straighten up each room and put things away before allowing myself to go downstairs to the comfort of bed, the upstairs looks like a tornado this morning. I have several things I'd like to blog about, including the book I was reading until Tommy claimed it. However, that will have to wait. I have to clean now.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Apparently I'm the only person in this family who doesn't enjoy the every 17 years (or something like that) cicada invasion. The humming outside doesn't bother me but the crunching as I walk across the lawn is worse than fingernails on a chalkboard. Noah bringing bagfulls of shells into the house just adds to the yuckiness of the giant bug attack.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

This morning Amy hopped in my bath to make sure I am never, ever alone. She found a mole on my body and spent the next 15 minutes pointing it out and saying "ewww, gross". I feel oh so pretty now. I know it's an unpopular mole because Doug had asked my midwife to remove it while I was in the hospital having Amy. At that point in time I really didn't feel like having anything extra done to my body so it's still here, grossing out the toddler.

Good meeting followed by quick run to Party City. We are almost ready for the party on Saturday. Noah has soccer practice tonight and my mother asked me to pick something up in the mall for her so there really isn't time to cook tonight. My mother arranged for me to have a birthday cake today. You don't think the children will expect any real food tonight do you? Just strawberry cake and ice cream sounds good to me. E-mail is working again. :)

My e-mail is down. I've done a load of dishes and I need to go scrub the crib (Amy made a really nasty mess in it) but first a pointless meeting to discuss the zoo event. Sigh.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

I have typed up all the zoo event survey form results. One short lunch meeting with a few of the zoo crew people tomorrow and it is all finished. Time for some tylenol pm and tv in bed. Lucy (my dog) is doing poorly. She cries when she walks and pants heavily when she isn't sleeping. I am quite worried about her.

Knowing the murky chicken or egg question that is personality or diagnosis, how can I dislike someone who I know has a certifiable psychiatric diagnosis for the things that make her who she is. That is, her diagnosis explains her behaviors but her behaviors are just too much to bear. It is no secret that one person on the zoo crew has a diagnosis of schizophrenia. She wears her diagnosis like a medal of honor. "This is who I am." I just can't bring myself to look past the behaviors that I know are attributed to her diagnosis. She is hystrionic, hypochondriacal, manipulative and deceitful. If someone believes their lies then isn't it unfair to judge them as a liar when they see themselves as truthful? I should know better. I should be able to look past it all.

The book I just startd reading asks a question that I have asked many times. How often do we label "differences" as "disabilities"? Why is it so easy to diagnose anyone and everyone with something from the DSM? My head knows that the difference lies in ability to function at home, work, school and community. My heart says that there is something wrong with not just acknowledging that we are all different. I see my personality and characteristics in all of my children. Sometimes it is funny and other times it is disturbing. I think that a large distinction in Tommy is that he takes personality traits which he has either inherited, learned or both and cranks them up to full volume. Instead of being a little 'OCD' he is hyper-focused and perseverant on things being the way he wants them. He has no volume control on his personality. It's not just Tommy though. I see Noah twitching and I begining evaluating him for Tourette's. Sarah refuses to change her place at the dinner table and I suspect OCD. Sitting in an Olive Garden restaurant one night I diagnosed another patron as Schizophrenic("Please stop staring at that woman."). I sound like a really awful person but in my own defense my harshest criticism is reserved for myself. Every action and thought is subject to self-analysis. "Why did you spend so much time making sure your underclothes matched your outfit?" "Other women don't adjust their nipples so they are focused at the exact angle(I blame 4 years of breastfeeding for their elasticity - sorry Alice)." "You were too impatient. Perhaps an anti-anxiety med is needed." It's not just me doing this. Whenever I am at a support group meeting of any type (I used to attend several as one of my job duties) I hear people listing all the diagnosis of themselves and their family members. "Well I'm bi-polar and my husband has ADHD and we both think his father is bi-polar and. . ." If someone is a wealthy, successful genius they are "eccentric" but if they are poor or illiterate they are "delusional" or "ODD". If I had never ended up in the mental health field would I see disorders everywhere?

Monday, May 10, 2004

No matter how many pairs of socks are in his drawer, Noah always goes for the red socks. If he didn't I would think he was color blind based on the outfits he puts together when I haven't put his outfit together for him.

I don't love the way the new poll gives results. Does anyone have a recommendation for a better poll service? A better explanation of the poll topic seems called for here. We own 3 cars. The Jeep was Doug's car. The neon was my car. The station wagon was given to us by Doug's parents when Amy was born. My parents gave us an old van and we sold it for cash. 1997 Neon: I bought the neon as a brand new car in 1997. It has a built in child safety seat and seats 5 people. I spent an entire paycheck putting a stereo/cd player and speakers in it. When Amy was born we parked the neon on the driveway and ignored it for a year and a half. It had a leak in the trunk which neglect has turned into a nasty mildew smell. The doors are very squeaky and Doug broke the back taillight when he backed into something. The plates are expired and it is uninsured. 1995 Jeep: Doug recently replaced the starter so it doesn't have to be push started any more. It has no radio whatsoever. The plastic roof and doors are duct-taped in one place and the zippers don't work anymore. The noise inside the vehicle makes a conversation nearly impossible. The heat and air are not very helpful in the less-than-air tight vehicle with manual transmission. It seats 4, sounds like a train and rides like a truck. Station wagon: The station wagon is the only that we all fit into. It also has the most problems. It has a broken tail-light from Doug backing into something. The transmission is going out. The U-joints need replacing. It needs new brake pads. The motor on the automatic windows works intermittently on the middle windows. It came to us with the speakers half blown from someone who must have hearing damage listening to marching band cassettes (no cd player stereos compatable with this car) at full volume to pick out the tuba. It now has two completely blown speakers. Although it was immaculately clean when we received it, the foam in the seats and armrests has dry-rotted and it crackles when you move. More car stuff. Our county's new mayor just raised the wheel tax from $6. to $36. and insurance on 3 vehicles is very intimidating. None of the cars are in my name at all. It was made very clear when we were given the wagon that it was only to be put in Doug's name. The neon is in my ex-husband's name until we find the title which he signed over to me. That is somewhere on Doug's desk and you've seen the desk pictures. The house isn't in my name either. In fact it still has Doug's ex's name on it and although she signed a quit claim deed I am positive that if something happened to Doug she would file papers to have us evicted while we fought over the house in court. But that isn't important right now. We have more car than we can afford and we need to cut back.

I've wasted half the day playing with the new blogger features and templates. I wish I could put that big blogspot ad at the bottom of the page. I want to make more changes but housework first. Doug is coming unglued about lack of income and job prospects. I'm just depressed. We could use some good news.

When I finally sat down to blog last night the system was down for updates. I feel like I am way behind on my blogging now. Amy didn't get more than a 30 minute nap for the past 3 days so last night she was a major grumpy bear. She insisted on being held and although I was able to unload and reload the dishwasher, I gave up on the laundry. Likewise, I made no progress on the birthday party preparations because she screamed and threw things in every store we entered so we bought nothing. Yesterday couldn't have been less relaxing. I feel like the only thing accomplished yesterday was physical and mental exhaustion. Today I will try to get some housework done and mentally recover so that the party plans can be completed tomorrow. The morning has started off poorly with a phone call from Tommy's teacher complaining about Tommy's behavior and several "tech support" calls from my father.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Doug went to breakfast with a professional contact this morning so I got up with Amy at 7 a.m. and she played while I did dishes. Straightened the house a bit and took a quick bath before we all went to eat cheap pizza (Ci-Ci's) for lunch. It's an appropriate place for our large, loud, messy crowd. Amy got into jelly beans while we were loading the car and we didnt realize it until we got there so she looked like a trailer park child. Afterward we hunted for a good idea for the goody bags on Saturday but nothing has sparked my interest yet. Now I get to do more dishes and laundry. I have figured out that the only way to keep up with the laundry over here is to wash, dry, fold and put away three full loads every day. Plus two loads of dishes. I spend so much time just trying to keep up that I can never make any real progress on the actual hard-core floor and bathroom type scrubbing that needs to be done over here. Then there's the downstairs which is just piles of papers, boxes and "stuff" that I just never have time to deal with. This summer I am getting rid of a lot of the junk that is connected to the children and I. I won't touch Doug's things. He has strong sentimental attachments to a lot of stuff and hopes that he can someday do all the sports and adventuring things that he did before he became a father. He also believes that he will someday have space to put things away neatly instead of the large piles that are all over the downstairs, including our bedroom. I am sure that if he had more money to put in the house and uninterrupted time to work on the house, he could get things built, repaired and organized. I also know how desperately he misses climbing, camping, kayaking, hiking, motorcycling and all the other exciting things he did before we filled his days with soccer, scouts and school activities. Poor Doug. So sincere, kind, compassionate, giving and exhausted.

I feel so much relief that the zoo event is finished. In all fairness, the zoo event was always my favorite job duty. It has a definite finish date and it always feels good to complete something. This year's event was interesting because I felt very disconnected from it all. I was doing it strictly as a volunteer and the only thing I ever agreed to do was to coordinate the meetings. I said at the beginning "I'm not doing the actual work." So, when Noah's soccer game was over my parents brought all the children to the zoo and we walked around and had a good time. We went back to the tent to make sure clean-up was going ok and heard about one of the many melodramas that had occurred while we were away playing. In any group there will be personal stuff going on during projects. I'm sorry this sounds sexist, but when the group is almost entirely women, there is going to be even more "stuff" happening. Add in several people with mental health issues and you have a lot of chaos. Other than the personal feeliings getting hurt and the hystrionic cries for attention from one person, the event actual went pretty good. The entertainers were wonderful. The costumed characters were plentiful AND helpful. The popcorn smelled delicious. The zoo visitors DID walk through the tent and collect freebies from the exhibitors. Yes, there were a few problems. Yes, there were some lessons learned (as there should be). Where should the event be next year? Definitely the zoo. The benefits are far greater than the drawbacks. Who will be in charge? I don't know. Not me. I just can't go back to my old job. Too many things happening in top management that I don't want to be connected to in any way. I think that if they utilize the yahoo group for information distribution and discussion and actually learn the lessons from this year's event, they can be more successful.

Friday, May 07, 2004

Listen to the commercial with '5 Words That Sound Dirty But Aren't'. Too funny.

The zoo is not set up. I don't care. The exhibitors are boring. I don't care. We are going to arrive and help with set-up. Doug will juggle and then we are going to walk the zoo with our family. We are NOT spending the entire day sitting in that tent. We are not staying there past sun-down cleaning up the event. We will go to the wrap-up mtg next week and make suggestions. Nobody will listen. I made the group a yahoo page and tried to get some good conversations going. Nobody cares. Poor, poor Alice is going to be all alone next year because I'm not working with one Ms. Hystrionic-hypochondriac ever again. Jim offered me my old job with TVC today. I'm still tossing the idea around because we need the money. I liked working for Jim despite his self-destructive behaviors. I didn't like or respect his supervisors and that is why I hesitate so strongly. Alice suggested I apply for another job. It sounds much more appealing than my old job but again, I just don't know. I don't think Alice's boss is very child-friendly. I will make decisions before Monday morning.


The zoo event wasn't awful enough, so things are falling apart even more. I have too much to do and not enough time to do it. I am not a happy camper right now.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

You should listen to Doug trying to convince his 17-year-old sister than a cable modem is faster than AOL dial-up. I thought teenagers were supposed to be more computer savvy than adults. This is the same teen who reformatted her hard drive and then was surprised that she lost her illegal MP3 files.

Oops. Forgot to eat until 3 p.m. Taking Advil to ward off headache. Need to run to AC Moore for supplies.

Forgot to add to my to-do list for the next three days, make music CD, hem Doug's pants, make entertainment schedules, make Peninsula logo sign, dishes, laundry, card shop and whatever else I've forgotten. Doug is upset with me for talking about the cars.

I am so disappointed that the man on the corner went back on his word and turned his property into a rental home. Doug and I disagree on how many of the homes in our neighborhood are rental but we both agree that the rental properties are not given the love and attention that the other homes receive. The idea of people coming and going so quickly feels unsafe to me and I wish we could finish this house and find a more stable neighborhood. But I know that Doug has neither the time nor the money to work on this house so it will stay half-done, half gutted, in construction limbo for quite some time. I hate living in mess like this.

The next three days should be horrible. Today is STAR, the phone store (again), the game board (can't find blank dice) and Boy Scouts. I'll stay up all night working on the "Invention Convention" stuff. I'll watch the last episode of 'Friends'. Tomorrow is the "Invention Convention" at school and the zoo set-up. Children need to be shuttled around. Sarah and Noah have choir practice and Sarah has a sleepover birthday at a friend's house. Doug will be picking up zoo supplies at CSE. Saturday Noah has soccer and Doug and I have the zoo event. More shuttling children around. Once the zoo event is over I will be sane again. Or as close to sane as I ever get. Sunday is Mother's Day. Amy just tossed a pile of unboxed CDs all over the floor. I need to get them picked up before Doug flips out.

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

My grandmother is still in the psych ward of the hospital. Instead of gradually going downhill she made a huge jump down in her cognitive abilities. Last year she forgot that she and I share a birthday. This year she doesn't even remember birthdays. She is losing people, places, time and interests. She can no longer focus on the tv, radio or a book. She just sits. It's like watching her disintegrate until she is no longer there at all. Just an empty shell. When she is gone I have no more grandparents. Then I will watch it happen to my parents. Then it will be my turn.

I'm going to burn the CD for the zoo tomorrow. It will have one hour of instrumental music that Doug can use as juggling background when he's too hoarse for the running commentary. So far I've got some music borrowed from 'Rushmore'. It will also have one hour of songs just for fun. I have "Coconut", "Rubberband Man" and "Spiders and Snakes". Any ideas out there? Even better, send me the MP3s.

Sarah and Noah's Invention Convention projects are driving me crazy. I feel like I'm going through school again and again and again and again.

Wouldn't it be cool to have Blog Maps for other places?

Made it through most of the luncheon. Doug intervened when Amy started to strip. Now we'll see how many errands we can get done before school lets out.

Doug spent several hours on the phone trying to help his parents fix their computer. It was a fun conversation for eavesdropping. "No, don't re-install Windows (they did anyway, of course). No, don't do that please. Wait, wait, wait. You have to get it in safe mode." They listened to some of what he said and their computer is still not working. Some time last night Doug's computer overheated and now he can't get his running. Without his computer we are totally fried over here. My computer is quite old and can't handle what Doug does when he's programming (serious multitasking). If I have more than three windows open it locks up completely. We need a miracle over here. Now I go try to find something to wear other than my usual jeans and camisole so we can pretend we look professional at today's luncheon. Amy is having a naked day so she promises to be entertaining there.

Today's goals include a business lunch (with Amy to make things interesting), making copies for Saturday's zoo event and Sarah's school project and a trip to the craft store for blank dice for Sarah's school project and felt for Noah's school project. the afternoon and evening will be spent doing, I mean helping the children with their school projects.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Eeek! I've spent the whole day playing on the computer. Must go be productive elsewhere.

Amy demanded that I fill one of her plastic stacking cups with water. It has a hole in it and I've filled it twice already. She's now angrily standing in a puddle of water screaming because the cup is empty again. I am not filling it again and watching it dribble out while she gets mad and frustrated. Gonna be a long day.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Made a quick Sam's run. We'll still need to visit the regular grocery but we have the snacks for the soccer team (unless someone raids them between now and Saturday). Started doing the weekend laundry. One annoying zoo crew person probably won't be at the event so it will be less unpleasant. My grandmother still won't eat and is refusing her meds so the assisted living called an ambulance to take her back to the ER. My mother met them at the hospital and the nurse suggested a psych consult. Well, duh!

Haircut ok. I should go get groceries now. I thought Doug was going with me but I don't think he wants to do anything today. Maybe I should eat something. I need birthday rsvps soon so I can prepare for the party.

Finding Nemo lesson number two - The woman is always right. Dory sometimes seems flaky, yet her outlook is always positive and she somehow knows what the right decisions are. She knew the right way to pass through the jellyfish area but Marlin didn't listen. Dory knew how to get out of the whale. Even when she's wrong, the woman is always right. The best part about this lesson is that Doug recognized it! "Look honey, the woman is always right in this movie."

Doug and I had a pleasant evening and tried to watch "Big Fish" but we were too exhausted to finish the movie. Doug took the children to school this morning and then went back to bed. The fifth graders wiped him out! My week is busy and saturday will be horrible but the good part is, the zoo event is lmost over. After the zoo event life can be more normal and family activities will reign again. Today I have a haircut with a new hairdresser (eeek!). I couldn't wait for my favorite to return next week. If I didn't have it trimmed this week I would have taken scissors to it myself.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

I just realized yesterday that the ads generated from blogger are playing off keywords in the blogs. It is now my goal to change the type of ads. I will no longer complain about those uninvited visitors in our house because I'd rather a different ad type. I'd rather have Viagra ads than what is there now. I keep forgetting to whine about an ad I saw on tv this week anyway (I know, it seems like whining is all I ever do). The ad is for some medication to treat "unsightly toenails" and the side effects include but are not limited to liver damage, diarrhea, nausea, headaches and dizziness. I think I'd rather have ugly toenails.

My grandmother has stopped eating. Her recent hospital visit found nothing wrong physically. This is just her Alzheimers and dementia. She won't eat or get dressed and calls for an aide every time she needs to get out of bed. This is not acceptable behavior in an assisted living facility. My mother has to hire a full-time aide or put her in a nursing home. The only thing surprising about any of this is my mother's reaction. She just doesn't hear me or anyone else telling her that things aren't going to get better. She thinks more meds (antipsychotic, antidepressant, etc.) will bring back the college educated, self sufficient woman that she knew.

"But Walter's stomach wasn't upset. Walter's stomach felt fine. He felt perfectly normal. He just farted a lot. He did it when he bathed. He did it when he played with Betty and Billy. He did it when he walked around the house. He did it in the dining room. He did it in the kitchen. And he did it in his sleep." They forgot walking up and down stairs.

Doug and Sarah are on their way home. The boys are still with my parents. Amy is ready for a nap (she's cranky). Nobody is blogging today. Where are all the excuses to distract me from housework when I need them?

Last night Amy took her bath and I dressed her in warm in jammies and tucked her in the crib. She was restless and unhappy so I repeatedly gave went back in the room with hugs, kisses and clean bops (pacifiers) to replace the ones thrown on the floor. She finally settled and went to sleep. I did a tiny bit of laundry then went downstairs to watch some tv in bed. Even in the dark bedroom I could see that the little bottom poking up in the air was quite bare. She had stripped down again before falling asleep. I re-diapered her and rocked her a bit to get her back to sleep. She was restless all night and woke up early this morning asking for her Daddy. It's pouring rain so I don't think we'll be playing outside for a while. Maybe this afternoon it'll clear up some.

Saturday, May 01, 2004

There's a great article about Asperger's in the New York Times. Thanks Arcite!

It's lonely here without Doug to talk to and the children to entertain.

Everyone got up and going early this morning for soccer. It wasn't Noah's best game but he did try. My father had a negative on and after I turned and scolded him a third time to be constructive and quit criticizing, he threatened never to come to the games again. Suuuure. The two boys went home with my father to help him get his yard mowed. It's not child abuse, they have a riding mower and the kids think it's fun. Amy came home and napped. Now she has removed all her clothing and is running around happily as though her clothes were really weighing her down. I had been considering taking her outside but I guess we'd better stay in if she's going to have some ummm, clothing-free time.

Lord of the Rings trilogy or the first three Star Wars movies(yes, I know they were part 4,5 & 6 out of 9)?


In the house:

Me - the Mom
Doug - the Dad
Tommy - age 15
Sarah - age 12
Noah - age 9
Amy - age 3
Evan - 8 months old
This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from cathymccaughan. Make your own badge here.

Mom's Stuff:

100 Things About Me
My Kids Are Pigs
My Husband's Crap
Pottery Barn Registry
Blogroll Me!

It runs in the Family:

Seldom & Never
Serendipitous Reflections
The Ramblings of CarMom
The Stomock's Retchings

Blogs I'm reading:


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