Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Me Against The Green Fuzz

Whoa, has it been a whirlwind of a week. I’ve been trying to figure out just what to write about, as there is so much to write about.

I thought about venting about how we had to gently remind the kids of things they had forgotten after being at Jane’s for five days. In short, Younger Boy forgot how to use the bathroom for about a day and a half, Middle Boy forgot how to listen, and Older Boy forgot about the meaning of “being responsible for your things.” All, of which, have been re-established within the last three to four days.

I thought about sharing about Middle Boy’s last minute birthday party so that my almost-in-laws could attend. In short, my family and my fiancé’s family all met, got along well, and all fears of religious arguments (his mom is Mormon, the rest of his family isn’t very religious, my family was brought up Roman Catholic, yet now are more WBF Catholics (Wedding-Baptism-Funeral Catholics) and We-have-our-own-spiritual-ideas people.

I even considered venting about how during the party my almost-Mother-In-Law looked me square in the eye and said, “You know Crys, my boy didn’t start drinking until he met you…..We have alcoholism in our family….please keep an eye on him.” In short, I was proud of myself for holding my tongue and note telling her exactly how responsible and moderately her son does drink compared to the binge drinking I saw in college. I answered with a “He’s actually very responsible, doesn’t drink often, and I have alcoholism in my family too so we actually do make sure to be responsible about our drinking habits.” By that I mean I do enjoy a drink now and then; and a beer after a very hard day of work. We are, however, having a kid-free birthday bash in which I plan on getting pretty happy off of my champagne punch recipe.

But what I really want to tell you about is the green fuzz. And by “green fuzz” I mean “mold” on my window sills.

My apartment complex believes in using single-pane windows. And lately, it’s been cold. Not Michigan Winter Cold, but Northern California Cold so about 40 degrees Fahrenheit at the average cold. I put up thermal curtains to keep the cold out and the warmth in. Back to those single-pane windows, they participate in condensation like they’re getting paid by the hour to do it. Nestled behind those wonderful curtains caused a wonderful little Biology mold-growing experiment on the window sills and all around the side of the window. Well, I have asthma, and in addition to the kids being sick, I about freaked out.

My fiancé went down to the office to say something and instead got a 5-minute spiel about how “The entire complex experiences this” and even received tips on how to deal with it and prevent it. I told him that they either have this special spiel memorized, have already recited it quite a bit since the Northern California Cold set in, or a combination of the both.

I spent last night defending my family from the mold. I really needed a mask or something, but I did pull on the blue washing gloves. I also had to stop at some point because it was making my lungs hurt. It wasn't a major occupation of green fuzz, but a light sprinkling of it. Still, it sucked.

I did do a bit of research on natural remedies to kill and prevent mold. With all of us and the cats in the house, I didn’t want really harmful or strong chemicals flowing through our respiratory systems, especially since it was night time. Instead, I opted to use straight vinegar with some lavender essential oil mixed in. I highly recommend it if you ever need to fight off mold. It killed it, removed it, and the lavender oil helped subdue the bitter scent of vinegar.

Now my single-pane windows no longer have the curtains up. Those are being washed as I figure out a Mold-Free Prevention Plan of action against the green fuzz. I’m still debating whether to put them back up or not. I’m thinking of keeping them up in the bedrooms, but since the windows in the living room are a pain in my rear, I’m considering just freezing in the morning while I work and waiting for it to warm up by afternoon time.

As for my Mold-Free Prevention Plan, I’m really not excited about getting to wipe down windows that seem to drip with water and condensation all day long. I’m also not keen on getting to clean my windows with my vinegar lavender solution everyday in effort to keep it clean and mold-free. However, for my families’ health, I’ll do it.

So, does anyone have any experience in keeping windows dry?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Angry At Three In The A.M.

"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them." ~William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (Act II, Scene V)

It is 3:31a.m. and I am, once again, awake and on the couch with the cats. However, I’ve already decided that I will NOT be sleeping out on the couch with the cats as I usually do. I have been tossing and turning and not sleeping well at all. I finally said, “Enough is enough! I need to clear my head!” Well, not out loud. I did not want to wake my fiancé. I, as gracefully as possible, came out here. It was deserted at first as the cats have claimed the boys’ room as their own. Boy, are they in for a rude awakening come tomorrow when they come back from Jane’s. The minute I sat down on the couch I must have activated the Cat Signal because they came out one by one and have each planted their fur-butts on either side of me. Just chillen’ as if this is the normal thing that we do. At this point in my life it sure seems like the normal thing that we do often.

The Setup
Today was exhausting. I received a bill about a week and a half ago for my lovely trip to the emergency room for my bee sting adventure. $180 is what that cost me. Well, the $180 was due yesterday. In the midst of trying to be responsible and budget out money, I totally forgot to budget for that, even though it was placed with a magnet up on the white board with the amount and due date in RED marker. I did some crafty financial maneuvering between my savings and both checking accounts. Then I called the Finance Customer Service number on the bill. I figured I’d see what my options were, either pay for it over the phone via plastic, or at least find out what the late fee would be so I could add it to my total. We’ll either someone decided I deserved a break or the gentleman on the other line could tell that I was about to literally fall apart and loose my shit because all that crafty financial maneuvering left me hanging by a single mental thread of sanity. He discovered that, since I have health coverage through work, I might have been misplaced between my transitions from the Southern part of the state to the Northern part of the state (that’s what I get for living in California). So he left me with the hope that my coverage would actually cover this and hopefully I won’t have to pay anything. I expect to receive some thing in the mail showing me that the $180 is covered or that part of it is covered.

Anyway, the point goes back to me hanging by that single mental thread of sanity. Because as soon as I hung up the phone that single mental thread of sanity snapped. My fiancé was home from work, and it was a really good thing because I totally lost my shit. I sat on the couch with him holding me for a good while. The tears came, and I fought them back. A few of those buggers slipped through my iron walls of defense though. And then the anger came and I don’t think anyone has ever seen me shake so violently from anger. In fact, I didn’t know that I could shake so violently from anger. I don’t think I’ve ever in my life been that angry before. Oh wait, I was pretty upset a couple of weeks ago that I was shaking, but nothing to the extent to this.

The Anger
Now, due to my inability to share my emotions when I’m super angry, my poor fiancé was left thinking that I was angry about this bill. It was many hours later that I was able to turn to him and tell him exactly what was going on.

FH: Are you feeling better now.
Me: A little bit.
FH: You were shaking pretty violently earlier.
Me: Well, I was angry.
Me: I was angry because all I could think was “She should be paying to help for their care. We shouldn’t be so financially stretched thin. THIS shouldn’t be happening.”

What I really wanted to add onto that, but didn’t is “This is bullshit. I’m so f’ing tired of paying for the care of the children while she gets to play Mommy every other weekend and not take any responsibility for them.”

What I really wanted to add onto that but didn’t is “I’m so f’ing tired of cleaning up this mess that she keeps insisting on making. I’m so f’ing tired of feeling like I’m the only one with the balls to stand up to her and hold her accountable.” I generally feel bad whenever I think this because I know that my fiance has been trying to change and not let her get her way. But inevitably, he did choose to give Jane her way. And now he's living with the consequences of that choice.

What I was thinking about 15 minutes ago while lying in bed trying to calm down and relax for the 40th time and go to sleep is “I’m done with this shit. I give her chance after chance to be a decent human being, and it’s either a major flaw or a major gift, but every time I give her that chance she disappoints me again and again and again. I’m tired of it and I’m not taking this shit anymore.”

Is there anything I can do about it? Legally, not right now. If I (we) had the money I (we) would sure as hell be bringing her to court and demanding child support. It seriously makes me so angry that she’s not paying any, and that she’s not expected to pay any. It makes me so incredibly angry that she’s been allowed to have responsibility in their lives and yet she’s not being held accountable to help provide any. It makes me even more angry that she had another child, even though she’s not being expected to hold any responsibility for the three children she already has.

I feel like the biggest, meanest, unreasonable bitch because I feel this. Am I going to leave and stop providing care? Heck no I’m not. But as soon as I can afford an option I’m going to take action. I’ve never been one to stand around talking about how I ought to do things. I’ve always taken action.

The Somewhat Tangent Vent
I believe that as a person you have the ability to make a choice. It comes down to the nurture and nature argument I guess. I've always seemed to lean more on the side that people make their lives through their choices. I'm not sure exactly on the spectrum where that falls, but that's where I'm at. A lot of people throw her the nurture bone. She never had a good mother … she never had a good example of how to be a mother … she had a crappy life. All I hear is blah, blah, blah. She has an older sister that has made quite different choices from her and she had the same upbringing. Her older sister is not only a decent human being, but she’s also a responsible mother.

I believe that you can let yourself be the victim, or you can make the choice to change and walk away. I’ve been the abused girlfriend. I might not have made the choice to be hit, but I sure as hell made the choice to say “I will not take this treatment anymore” and I walked away. I was the anorexic in college. I chose for a long time to play victim to the mental disorder. I chose for many, many years that anorexia had a hold of me and I could not break free. And one day I realized that no, I had the choice to change. And I did.

Yes, I had a good upbringing, but not the best role model as a mother. My mother and I still don’t have a close relationship, and I’ve chosen many a times not to call her or ask her for help, or confide in her. But as I’ve grown older I’ve also chosen many other times to call her when I’m upset and crying. I might selectively choose the specific event I’m calling about, but I’ve chosen to take those steps.

If there is any impact or impression that I hope the boys walk away with from living with me, it's that they realize that they have the ability to choose, and that a single choice they choose to take action on can make a world of difference in their lives. And if it's the wrong choice, they can choose to learn from it and not make the same wrong choice again.

Sorry for the rant, but I’m just so tired of people given Jane excuses. I’m already exhausted and tired of this game she plays. I’ve already started to take steps to show her that we’re not playing it anymore. And I say “we” because my fiancé and I are in this relationship together. If he’s not willing to work with me to stand up to this nonsense, and if I’m not willing to bend totally over breaking my back to play her game then it’s not going to work. And after talking with him on numerous occasions, I’ve concluded that we’re not bending over to break our backs anymore. We’ll bend for some flexibility, but we’re not playing her game.

Thank You
So, if you’ve read through my anger, I thank you. And please know that I totally appreciate you. I am thankful for you. I am thankful for you even if you didn’t get past the second or third paragraph. I’m also thankful for my fiancé, because for once in my life I’ve found someone who will listen to me. We may not always see eye to eye, but we’re willing to try and work something out. And I’m also thankful for my cats. Both of which, have passed out, furry heads laid out on my lap top keyboard.

And at 4:10am, I will conclude my rant, and attempt sleep once again.

I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday season with your family and friends. I hope that you get your holiday shopping expeditions fulfilled. I hope that you have a burned-food free holiday baking mission. I hope that, if you drink, you drink plenty and have a good time. I know I will.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Feeling Pretty Guilty

I’ve been feeling pretty guilty the last couple of days. The boys are all at Jane’s right now. My fiancé dropped them off on Friday and will pick them up again Wednesday late afternoon. The apartment is pretty quiet. The cats are pretty calm, in fact, they look so bored sometimes because they’re not running away from children that I don’t think they know just quite what to do. I haven’t had to sit down and remind Younger Boy, “You chew your food, and swallow your food before you shove more food in your mouth.” Hell, I didn’t even have to make lunches, try to find something to keep Middle Boy busy so that he wouldn’t talk my ear off or search for Older Boy’s ever missing belt.

And I really feel kind of pretty guilty because I’ve really kind of been enjoying it. It's like a whole new type of self-imposed ickyness that I'm dealing with.

Now don’t get me wrong, I miss those little stinkers like crazy. But it’s just kind of nice to have a break from being an instant mom. It’s rather nice to be able sit and work without having a little voice talking to me from across the room. It’s kind of nice that I can make dinner, whatever I want without having to figure out how to make it kid-friendly, and that we can eat dinner without any fits or sighs or pouting.

I especially felt like a major bitch this morning when my fiancé mentioned how he’s starting to miss taking care of them. And frankly, as much as I miss them, I’m not feeling that need to take care of anyone just yet, although, I did feel the need to make my future hubby a lunch so that he would have something to eat on his route today.

It’s only been a couple of months and this is truly the longest that we’ve had to ourselves. And it’s kind of nice.

And I know that the minute they come running in to give me a hug I’ll get hit with that wave of “I missed you so much and I’m so glad you’re home” which will promptly be followed by some wave of frustrated anger when one of the boys forgets where he’s at and starts to throw a fit, or scream instead of use his words, or some other nonsense ridiculous tactic they use on Jane to get their way. And then I’ll be ever so glad that their home and excited for them to open their stockings and gifts.

But for right now, it’s really kind of nice, and damn do I ever feel like a bad person for enjoying a little room to breath.

Friday, December 19, 2008

How Their Progress Entertains Me

Can I just say that I love some of the conversation snippets the boys have? They really crack me up and provide me with the entertainment and a reason to get me laughing each day (although they usually aren’t trying to be funny).

Example 1 – Middle Boy’s Reading Progress
Middle Boy has really come a long way in his reading skills this semester. He started the semester off not knowing much or anything about sounding out words, and now he’s reading easy Dr. Seuss books and starting to learn how to read other books (those silent E’s and other *special* vowel sounds are tricky).

At his parent conference his teacher was so impressed at how well he blends his sounds together. My fiancé and I were pretty proud of this since we’ve been teaching him all along and encouraging him to read at home. I also can’t begin to tell you how many times a week I heard the phonics alphabet cd or heard about his Alpha Friends (the characters associated with letters that they learn/review each week).

Anyway, last night my fiancé and Middle Boy were sitting down reading a book. And Middle Boy was trying to blend together the sounds for the word “kisses.” My fiancé was having him sound out the different sounds/phrases that Middle Boy could recognize – “Kiss” and “Es”

FH: Put it together. What does it say?
MB: Kiss. Eh-sss. *loudly* Kiss-Ass!

I was sitting at my desk working when I heard this. Now usually when I’m trying not to laugh I hide my mouth in my shirt collar. Well, when I attempted to do just this I about cursed at myself for wearing a split V-neck that day. I ended up covering my mouth with my hand and leaning a little further onto my desk while I tried to control my giggles. It was so precious and classic.

Example 2 – Younger Boy Learning to Use His Words
Now, Younger Boy has this habit of screaming and yelling instead of using his words when he doesn’t like something his brothers are doing to him. In fact, all of them had this habit when I first moved in. Middle Boy and Older Boy have embraced my method of “Using your words” quite well. Younger Boy on the other hand is a bit more of a project. He still hasn’t quite grasped it yet. I’ve worked and volunteered at Child Development Centers for quite a while during college and high school. The method exercised there is:

Tell them to stop whatever it is they're doing. And then tell them why/what you want them to stop and how it makes you feel when they do it.

One I often use with Younger Boy: “Please stop yelling at me. It hurts my feelings because I don’t like it when you yell at me like that.”

It’s all nature to me now and I don’t usually stop to think about it when I use the method. And sorta off-topic, the method sounds pretty funny when used on some of my friends at the Fraternity House back in college. Great example: “Please don’t call me a whore. I do not get paid to have sex, nor do I charge others to have sex with me. So I’d appreciate it if you stopped calling me that.” Oh yeah, it came out just like that, without a thought. And it received a good chuckle, BUT it worked 92 percent of the time.

Back on topic, I’ve been working with Younger Boy to use my method. So earlier this week I caught this conversation between Younger Boy and Middle Boy who were playing in their room:

Story set up: Middle Boy is trying to shove his Transformer toy into Younger Boys Thomas and Friends train station (which Younger Boy is playing with) and Younger Boy is trying to push the toy out with his hands. They both try using my method against each other.

MB: Younger Boy! STOP! DON’T DO THAT!
MB: I'm sad *sniffs*
YB: Yes! You are!

OK, maybe I’m just mean and evil but that cracked me up. It was nice to hear that they were trying to use their words … albeit a little backwards and out of order … but still! And, oh, how I wish I could insert voice inflections because Younger Boy’s “Yes! You are!” sounded so direct and intended. Luckily for me they were in their room and I could silently giggle into my shirt collar in the living room at my desk.

Oh yes, How I Love the random snippets of conversation I hear from the boys.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Teaching About Responsibility

One of the latest endeavors I have chosen to take on is teaching the boys about being responsible and holding themselves accountable for their actions/choices. My fiancé has been rather impressed that I actually follow through with my efforts.

Let me start off that this latest task has been brought on by many frustrations that roll back to the boys lacking any grasp on the concept of being responsible. I had stepped on one too many toys that were not put away. I got tired of finding important items (like shoes/belts/books) that were hiding in unmade bed blankets and sheets, and this was me finding them after the boys complaining that they looked and looked and looked and couldn’t find the item. I really was pushed to the limit though with the Older Boy.

In the past couple of months he has:
  • Lost his spelling/vocabulary word list TWICE
  • Forgot to do important homework (that, I should mention, was stapled to the packet of other homework that he had already done that day and finished and said that he was done with.)
  • Forgot his warm, winter coat at his martial arts class
  • Forgotten his lunch bag and didn’t take initiative to go retrieve it himself TWICE

And I’m sure there are others but these listed were rather important. Although I could deal without the lunch bag, but because it’s happened multiple times it’s landed on the list.

Anyway, just verbally telling them that they need to be responsible wasn’t cutting it. I had to put some action behind those words. And man, trying to teach children to be responsible (especially when we’re the only household that gives a damn that they learn this) has been a bit rough. Plus I’ve been trying to make sure that we are setting a good example ourselves so that we serve as good role models.

One thing that has been successful thus far has been the issue with putting toys away. It started one night when the boys were in bed and I looked around the living room (sprinkled with Thomas & Friends engines, Legos and other toys here and there). I walked into their room, turned the light on and told them that they needed to start being responsible about putting their toys away or I would find a child that would be responsible and thankful for the toys. After I closed the door my fiancé said that they had been told that before. I responded with, “Well, they haven’t been told that by me.” I held true to my word and have a bag that has toys the boys left out after being asked to put their toys away.

I also have been working on listening skills, specifically: When I ask you to put your toys away that means you should stop playing with them and put your toys away. This was sparked after a night that I had to ask Middle Boy three times to put his toys away. Technically it was four times, except the fourth time I walked in there and saw him jump up from playing and start putting toys away and I responded with, “When I ask you to put your toys away, that means put your toys away. If I have to come in here and ask you again, any toys still on the ground are mine.” Well, that seemed to fix that issue. Especially after Middle Boy saw me pick up some Thomas train tracks lying on the ground and put them in my bag. Toys have since then been put away each time they are asked, and before they go to bed. And I’ve only had to ask twice at the most in the last two weeks.

We’ve used sticker charts with the boys for a couple of different things, and they have been really helpful and successful. My fiancé and I have talked about making a Responsibility Chart for the boys. Some of the things that we wanted to put on there are:
  • Making my bed in the morning
  • Finishing all homework for the day
  • Putting my toys away before bedtime
  • Putting my clothes away when asked

Of course some of these will only apply when applicable (homework on weekdays and clothes when there are clothes to be put away. We also talked about different fun things to do for when they do all that they are supposed to do. We’ve talked about whether we should start off doing it week by week or every two weeks the boys get something fun if they do everything they’re supposed to.

My sister and I had Chore Charts, and boy, did they work on us. I’m hoping that they will work with the boys on learning a little something about responsibility. My only concern is that the boys will connect “doing this action” gets “stickers on a chart” which equals a “reward.” And I really don’t want to reward actions that should be done anyway, but I know that we need to start somewhere and that making things somewhat fun might result in better cooperation from them.

I’d like to know what you have done to teach responsibility to your children, and do you have any other suggestions on things I can work with the boys on being responsible about? I do realize that they are children, but I really think that they’re old enough to learn about being responsible about things.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Me-Time Weekend

I had a Me-Weekend this weekend. By Me-Weekend I found time to pamper me.

First though, I am breathing a bit easier. My fiancé brought my visiting suggestions to Jane and she said that they worked for her for this holiday season. I found out that Jane will be going to work again come January, and only has Thursdays off. Allegedly she’s looking for a new job, we’ll see what happens. But this means that she (apparently) can only see the boys on Thursdays. So I had my fiancé ask her if she’d be up for taking the boys out for dinner and spending time with them Thursday after they get out of school. She’s good with this. The gripe: I hope that it will work out because it has bothered me for a while now that there was no organization or regularity to their visits with her. So until she gets a new job, this will work for now. (Although it still bothers me that she can’t try to work it out so that she can spend more days with them, but I cannot make her choices for her so I will not dwell on my frustration with it.)

Back to my Me-Weekend. My fiancé dropped Younger Boy and Middle Boy off at Jane’s, and two of Older Boys friends came to stay the night on Saturday. I went to the salon and got a hair-cut. I’m so pleased! I move so often that just as I find a good salon or day spa, I’m packed and moving again. I discovered a salon and day spa that sells/uses Aveda products happens to be very close by our place! *Squeals and jumps with delight*

I was able to make an appointment online and went in. Not only did I find it, but I really love the hairstylist that did my hair! I told her that I’m looking to grow my hair out for my upcoming wedding in 2010. She was really excited after I told her my fairy tale romance and we found a photo of what I’d like to achieve. I also really appreciated how she worked with my hair and didn’t show one ounce of irritation that we spent two hours trying to get the starting point looking right. So now I will be going in every eight weeks to get my hair trimmed and to keep it in shape for the big day. I’m ever so excited about this! Plus she was very nice, had a fun and sassy attitude, and I must mention again that she took time to work with my hair! Not many stylists have done that. My hair is really fine, but I have a lot of it so it acts as though it’s thick sometimes. It’s also wavy and straight at the same time. In other words, it’s a pain in my rear. So it’s nice to have a hair style now that works with my hair instead of me working against my hair.

Another part of my Me-Weekend was having lunch with my best friend (let’s call her Liz). Liz is actually going to be one of my bridesmaids and is helping my sister (my maid of honor) with all the wedding planning. We don’t get to see each other as I’ve always lived rather far away. We’ll she had a day off on Sunday and we Google Mapped it and we live about an hour and a half apart now. So we hopped in our cars and met for lunch at the Olive Garden. Spending time with my best friend, Wild Berry Daiquiris and delicious pasta really did the trick.

Liz and I brainstormed some possible bachelorette weekend ideas, and debated over the wedding invites I found. It came down to “What am I willing to skimp on” and “What do I really want to spend mucho money on.” Invites just might not be worth it I’ve decided.

I felt kind of bad though because I was supposed to go pick out the Christmas Tree with my fiancé and the boys. But I really, really needed some “Me Time” with my best friend and my fiancé understood. So next time I’m going to bring him with me when I go to have lunch with her because they want to meet each other. And I really would like to introduce them before the wedding.

Anyway, I was able to refresh and recharge a bit. Although I came home to misbehaving boys (as what usually happens after a night over at Jane’s is that Younger and Middle Boy often need reminders of the rules in our house and throwing fits doesn’t get you what you want at our house.) But I’m feeling much better still. I just really need to make an effort to do something nice for myself more often rather than wait until I’m about to explode/or have already exploded. I also want to work on making sure my future hubby and I have some time to ourselves soon too. At least I know I’ll have some “Me-Time” at the salon every eight weeks, and we'll be able to have date night every Thursday starting in January.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

When the Tears Won’t Flow and the Words Won’t Come

I’ve experienced some pretty gnarly events in my lifetime. Some of the ones I would even have courage to share online would be the ex-boyfriend who tried to strangle me one New Years Eve because I said I didn’t love him. Another would be another ex-boyfriend who stalked me by calling and hanging up multiple times a day, and then would drive by my house to see if I was home and to see who I was with. A lot of these situations have hardened me. I’ve developed some pretty strong walls, I’ve learned to live rather emotionless at times because it was so much easier than feeling scared or anxious or frightened or sad or hurt, and at this point in my life it’s pretty frustrating. Especially since I've learned that life is too short to live in a fog of nothingness. I'd rather hurt than be numb.

The main problem is that whenever I am upset about something the feelings bottle themselves up. I try ever so hard to cry, to scream, to get angry and throw things … but none of it happens. The tears dry up, the emotions get swallowed down even more and I feel even worse. The walls go up and it’s becomes hard to decipher what the feeling/emotion is. It gets even harder to try and talk to someone about it. There have been many a times that I’ve gone to see a therapist or college counselor and I spent a majority of the time sitting there not saying anything much. The words just get caught in my throat, in my stomach and when I try to force them out they freeze. Then my brain goes blank and I can’t tell you why I’m upset, much less what’s going on in my head.

It’s always been so much easier to write it out, however, even trying to get them down on paper is hard lately. I think it comes back to me being hard on myself. I get angry or frustrated or sad by my current new situation, and then I feel guilty and selfish for feeling that way and I try my hardest to swallow it down. Not the best way to deal with it, I know.

Last night was one of those nights. I sat there feeling horribly down, and angry and I couldn’t tell my fiancé why. I felt the walls go up and I couldn’t stand being near anyone. So I slept out on the couch with the cats for a good majority of the night until I could relax a bit and crawl back into bed. I still couldn’t quite get it out this morning. I still can’t fully pick it apart. But I do know that one thing that has pushed me into this funk is that I just feel lost.

I don’t feel like I am who I used to be. I most definitely don’t live the life that I used to, but I don’t get the opportunity to be who I used to be either. I left my sister and my friends all behind. I work from home and I can’t seem to find anyone that I feel I can be myself around. It’s not that I feel that I’m being fake but, more I feel like I can’t be me. I don’t even know if I’m making sense, but this is my effort at trying.

I miss having a beer and watching a game with my guy friends. I miss having saki and sushi after work with my girl friends. I miss watching Paula Deen with my sister. I miss going to the bar or going to a party and socializing with people who enjoy drinking and socializing. I miss being able to have a dinner with people who will eat their food and not whine or throw fits. I miss joking around and I miss being able to be sarcastic around people. I feel pretty isolated here, and I don’t quite know how or where to go to try and feel comfortable again. It never occurred to me before that part of my anger and frustration was because of this.

I’ve tried talking about this with my fiancé once before. He suggested girls night out, except the girls that I know up here wouldn’t have the girls night out I’d imagine. The girls I know are either far wilder than I or far too conservative. I really hated living in Southern California, but I really loved the friends that I had there. I feel like I can be myself with my fiancé, but we don’t get much of a chance to have time to ourselves lately, especially with Jane only wanting two of the three boys visiting. The night he proposed to me was our first night out alone in a long time.

I kind of come down hard on myself about this. I remind myself all the time that “This is the choice you made, deal with it.” But I know that’s most definitely not the way to deal with it either. It goes back to trying to learn to balance things I guess (Struggling To Merge My Two Lives).

I know that this is just a funk that I’ll probably hit from time to time. But does it ever suck to hit it, and not be able to talk about it out loud. I look forward to being able to have a fun night again soon.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Please Pass The Clorox

It’s started. Younger Boy has been inspired to potty like a big boy. I went into the bathroom to brush my teeth when I noticed a large puddle on top of Younger Boy’s stool. There also happened to be some liquid spattering the edge of the toilet seat and running down the front contributing to another puddle forming at the bottom of the toilet.

Start Scrubbing” came to mind. And all the comments from the post swirled around my head. I could literally see them typed out in front of me. And then I giggled. And then I sighed. And then I grabbed the bottle of Clorox Anywhere and some paper towels and cleaned it up.

I felt dread and happiness at the same time. Happiness that the boy felt compelled to take the steps himself to go potty like Daddy and his older brothers. Dread as I realized I am on my last roll of paper towels and should, most likely today, get my butt over to the store to buy some more and possibly a new bottle of Clorox Anywhere also. I’ve considered putting a puppy pad at the front of the toilet too. We have them because my cat likes to stand up while peeing and it’s helped a great deal in cleaning up around the litter box. Why not Younger Boy’s potty training also?

After cleaning the lovely puddle up I again expressed to my fiancé:

Me: I think it would be great if you, and possibly the older boys, would take Younger Boy into the bathroom with you when you have to pee. I have no problem working on aim with him, but I don’t have the part to show him how to properly lift up both lids and to aim. I just don’t know how it’s done.

I often talk with my hands, so you’ll have to re-read that and imagine the hand movements of lifting up both lids and handling the parts to properly aim inside the bowl. And I stick strongly by my visual learning bit. If he sees them doing it I'm convinced he'll want to do it like them too.

I've now entertained the idea of keeping the bottle in the bathroom, along with a roll of paper towels, and possibly a bowl of circular shaped cereal for aim practice. (It would have to be Apple Jacks because we're now out of Fruit Loops. Hrm ... green and orange speckled with green loops. "Aim at the Green Loop" is much easier to say. Maybe I can just pick those ones out.)

I just had to share as I know most of you have been there and will probably enjoy my experience, and to let you know that without your comments I probably would not find this as amusing as I do. Because I actually did laugh when I saw that puddle before I sighed.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Holiday Ramblings

This is my first year sharing a holiday. And I don’t mean with Jane, as she thus far is the least of my holiday issues. No, I’m talking about sharing the holiday with my fiancé’s family. It’s also my first year having children to consider gifts and what not for. And I must admit, it’s a bit more stressful now that I’m living it.

Financial Stacking Tricks
My fiancé and I are paying for our monthly bills/loans; providing for a family of five; trying to find presents for our families; and provide all the holiday cheer for our own family. It probably doesn’t help matters much that we’re also trying to pay for a wedding on top of the holiday spending. Plus, have I even mentioned that Middle Boy’s, my fiancé’s and my birthday are all in a row about a week and a half after Christmas? Because they are! Oh My!

That’s not even the icing on the cake. It’s a pretty good icing base, as the financial issue is the biggest of my problem, so far at least. And I’m hoping it remains that way. No, I’m still plotting our Christmas Day marathon in my head. Have I mentioned that I’ve never had to split a holiday between families before.

Holiday Tap Dances And Cooking Talents
Thanksgiving was a pretty good starter. And I’m hoping that Christmas Day will go along the same lines. The main issue I’m having is that I just don’t have all of the details yet. And by “details” I mean that I don’t know what I’ll be expected to bring food wise for either of the feasts yet. I’m trying to fit in cooking time. Traditionally, I make a bunch of my homemade French apple pies and give them out to extended family. It’s a tradition that I’d really like to keep going as this is really one of the few chances I get to see the people that I give the pies too.

Thanksgiving I came down to the line as I like to prepare things the night before and then throw them together the day off so that they’re hot, fresh and delicious. Not wilted or soaked through. I need details people!!! Perhaps I’m far too organized and structured for my own good.

At work I had a giant wall calendar with color coded deadlines on it. I also had post-it notes on the calendar for things that didn’t have a set deadline but really ought to get done. That and I had great satisfaction in taking the post-it note down when I was through with a task. The point is that I’m trying to plan things out and organize them without the details. And it’s driving me up the wall.

Making Christmas
Whew … let’s jump to presents. I’m really all about getting useful gifts. Now, I remember wanting the most useless toys, and I got a few of them. We had the boys write out lists for things they wanted (that weren’t video games). They wrote some nice little lists. They’re each getting one things off of that list. But man, there are quite a few simple things that they didn’t quite ask for that they’re getting too. Like warm, winter clothes! I feel like a jerk, but now have a new appreciation for my parents.

I remember the socks I got each year. I knew they were coming, and I didn’t hate getting them as those socks got put to good use, specifically the slippery socks that we slid across our hardwood floors in. Now, as a parent, I see why I got winter socks each Christmas.

Sharing Me
I also am still getting used to spending/sharing my time with another person. It was a big deal moving in with a boyfriend, and now that he’s my future hubby, that’s a whole new reality check I’m dealing with. And now I'm expected to also go over to spend time with his family. Not that I can’t do it, and I do enjoy spending time with his family. It’s just a new concept to balance out.

I’ll make it through. Perhaps not completely sane, but I’ll figure it out. I, at least, have that much faith in me.

Monday, December 8, 2008

And I Hope It Scared Her

Last week got a little hectic. We got a phone call during the week, that from the sound of it (between my FH and Jane’s sister (let’s call her Sandie) something was not right. The tone and exchange on my end was strange (usually my hearing is well enough that I can hear both ends, but I was working and not really feeling like trying to hear the whole conversation). By “strange” I mean that something most definitely wasn’t right. I could feel the air thicken as dread spread through my veins. I began running through my head all the possible people that could have died or that could be in the hospital. All I could think was “What has happened now?” Afterward, my FH and I had a little chat in the bedroom.

Apparently Jane was at the hospital having tests done. The story through the grapevine was that she had fallen, hit her head and was unable to 1) use one side of her body and 2) unable to talk. The call came from Sandie (who I actually adore and e-mail with frequently) as she was the one that was watching the new baby. I was thankful that someone was smart enough to call us and let us know. I might not give a damn about the girl, but she is the mother of the boys and that matters enough. Especially since the boys were supposed to go over to Jane’s this weekend.

I looked at my FH and gave my unsolicited (or maybe it was wanted and he knew I'd give it whether or not he asked) advice (in the most respectful tone that I could find considering I was biting my tongue from what I really wanted to say) that we not say anything to the boys just yet until we knew more information about what was going on. I had the fiancé try to get a hold of Jane’s boyfriend (let’s call him Tyson) to try and get some sort of communication going. He sent an e-mail since he didn’t think he had Tyson’s cell number on him.

I don’t know if Tyson ever responded back, but Jane called on Thursday (I think it was Thursday). She’s back to talking again, and wasn’t going to take the boys after all this weekend – Which I don’t blame her, and I wouldn’t have wanted to send them over there anyway. I stress out enough sending them over there when she’s at her best, why the hell would I want to send them over there immediately following an event like that. Let the girl heal up.

So when the boys asked me if they were going to Jane’s this weekend, I followed up with “Sweetheart, Jane’s not feeling well and she needs to rest up and feel better this weekend.” Not too far of a stretch as she was, in fact, supposed to be resting and taking care of herself. The answer sufficed and we had a good weekend. Although it did throw a kink and we had to find a last minute babysitter as we had an appointment to go tour the wedding venue.

So what I really want to talk about is that at first I felt kind of bad. Not for her, but because I didn’t really give a damn, and that the first thought that came to my head that I really wanted to say was “You get back what you dish out and Karma is a bitch, especially when it come back to bite you in the ass.” Then I tried to turn it around. Would she give a damn if something happened to me? Hell, does she even know that I was rushed to the emergency room when I got stung by a bee earlier this year? (Flight Of The Bee entry.) Of course not, because she has no responsibility for the boys, why would I getting hurt effect her life? So I reasoned with myself that I didn’t have to feel bad about NOT giving a damn about her. It's not like I was hoping something bad would happen to her.

My concern in all of this was, just exactly what would we tell the boys if things had gone in the other direction. How would they feel if it had? I really didn't want to scare and worry them with bad news that might not be bad news. Luckily, at this point, I don’t have to worry about it. But the opportunity has risen, and the next time something happens (if something else happens – hopefully not) I hope I’ll be a bit more prepared. The one prayer I did say for Jane was I hoped that she would see the light. I hope that this experience scared her enough to maybe consider that the boys mean more to her than she has been acting.

I’ve been at that point where something happened that scared me enough to see a light and make some changes. I can’t change Jane. I can’t make her change her actions. I can only hope that this experience will have, just maybe, helped to guide her in the right direction to want to be a better mother and to want to be a better person.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Potty Training Boys - Fine Tuning the Details

From my last post “Instant Mom Adventures In Potty Training” I celebrated in the achievement of getting Younger Boy out of diapers and peeing on the toilet. We’ll it’s been a little over a month since then and there has been much progress. *Does A Celebration Jig of Delight*

  • Becoming aware that “I have to go poop”
  • Acting upon that awareness
  • Pooping in the toilet (at our house/when he’s with us at least. I can’t for sure say the same for Jane. But if she’d rather not be proactive in potty training then that’s her choice.)
Next on the list:
  • Learning to wipe
  • Peeing like a big boy
Now you see these last two have brought some new elements to the plate that I’m just not familiar with.

Let’s start with peeing like a big boy. That is much further down my list at the moment. I’ve been trying to recruit the assistance of my fiancé, Older Boy and Middle Boy to help me out here. I don’t know about you, but I’m a visual learner. There is a photo of me as a three-year-old imitating my dad by sitting on the training toilet in foot pajamas, holding open a newspaper and smiling for the camera. Was I ever so proud that I could sit on the toilet like my Daddy. *I do want to note that the newspaper is upside down* So I’m hoping that if one of them brings Younger Boy in there with them to show them how they do it, maybe he’ll be inspired to want to do it too.

I did attempt it yesterday:
Me: Do you want to pee like Daddy, Middle Boy and Older Boy?
YB: Yes!
Me: OK, first you have to stand on your stool facing the toilet.
Me: Then pull your pants down, No YB, you don’t have to take your pants off. Leave them near your feet.
YB: OK *assumes the position*
Me: *Throws a purple fruit loop in the toilet* OK, do you see that? Try to pee on it.
YB: *Grabs my hands (which are trying to help him balance on the stool) for dear lifehesitates … whimpers … shrinks back* [Obvious stage fright and there will be no performance today folks.]
Me: You know what YB, that’s OK. You can try again later.

We’ll, E for Effort, right? Perhaps not the best directional method, I do know for a fact that pregnancy tests state a bit more detail then “Pee on the stick.” But I just didn’t think that the phrases “Aim for the purple loop” or “Try to shoot your stream of pee at the purple loop” were going to help my cause. It just is this one little issue I have with potty training boys.

You see … it’s just that I don’t have the package that they have. As a woman I actually lack the male anatomy parts, thus I am just not familiar with how that all works in all matters of toilet use. In college, if I was out at a party in an orchard and I had to go, I didn’t have the convenience of a hose-like device attached to my body to help funnel it in a convenient location. I had to pop a squat with the rest of the ladies.

I tried to do some research on this dilemma and by “do some research” I mean that I had to ask the fiancé. (We’ll refer to him as FH – Future Husband in conversation.)
Me: So, I have this problem.
FH: What’s that?
Me: I need to know how boys wipe.
FH: Huh?
Me: Well, since YB is with me often through out the day, and I obviously, at least the last time I checked, don’t have that package, I don’t quite know how it works.
FH: *Gives me the “Are you F’ing Kidding me” look and gives a sort of chuckle*
Me: No, I’m serious. How do you wipe? Do you stand up? Do you sit down? Do you have to maneuver around that thing? Do you just move it to the side? Do you just reach around? I don’t have one so I don’t know.

This research really didn’t help me. Although I did gain some information that I suppose will be somewhat helpful in my efforts to teach something I’ve never done before. My younger sister found my research quite hilarious but agreed that she didn’t have a damn clue how it’s done either.

I’ve concluded that the older males in the house are also going to have to just bring Younger Boy in there with them too so that he’ll have another example of how boys do it.

So for now, I will try my best to do this latest task. I will flourish in the joy that the boy is pooping and peeing in the toilet and that I don’t have to deal with diapers at the moment. And I will also bask in Younger Boy’s excitement and delight that he is going to the bathroom like a big boy.

His latest phrase is, “When I learn to wipe my butt I can go to preschool!”

At least I have something motivational enough on my side to help leverage him to want to learn to wipe.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Give Me That Tragedy

There are two tragedies in life. One is to lose your heart's desire. The other is to gain it.” -George Bernard Shaw
Yes, losing your heart's desire is tragic. But gaining your heart's desire? That's all you can hope for. This year I wished for immerse myself in someone else and to wake a heart long afraid to feel. My wish was granted. And if having that is tragic, then give me that tragedy. Because I wouldn't give it back for the world.” -Peyton Sawyer (The Tide That Left And Never Came Back, OTH)

How I adore my One Tree Hillisms.

I have wonderful, happy, exciting news.

On Tuesday the boyfriend and I actually got to go out on a date (very rare occasion). The boys were at Jane’s to spend part of their Thanksgiving week off.

He brought me out to the pier to watch the sun set. (It was a bit overcast but this has become a special spot for us to go to.) We were sitting on a bench watching the sun set, the calm water and the lights of houses across the water light up. There were some annoying skater boys in the back of us, and I laughed at them while the boyfriend muttered annoyance at them. We were holding hands gazing out at the water when he turned to me and said something about putting an end to an evening of nervousness.

And that, is when he pulled out a beautiful diamond ring and got down on one knee as he asked me to marry him!

I managed to whisper out a yes as the excitement and rush of bliss filled me up, and he slipped the ring on my finger.

Then we went and played some putt-putt golf (he in his slacks and tie and me in my wedges and poufy skirt. It was great!) And then went out for a delicious Italian dinner.

So the boyfriend has officially been promoted up to fiancé. It’s still sinking in, but I can’t shake the blissful happy butterfly feeling that rushes through me lately. I don’t think I want to shake it, as it is actually rather nice and refreshing.

And the boys are very excited about it. Older Boy has been asking for about two months now when we’re getting married. And Middle Boy had a huge grin on his face and swooped up to give me a hug after we told them. Younger Boy seems more interested in whether or not he can play with play doh or not. Expected I guess from a three-year-old boy. Of course, now they’ve been asking when I’m going to get a ring for Daddy. They crack me up.

I was very nervous about telling the boys to be quite honest. Even though Older Boy had been asking for months when we were getting married, or my favorite, “Daddy, when are you going to get a ring,” I had a really bad dream one night last month where we did tell them and Older Boy got so mad and angry that he was trying to purposely sabotage me. But, they are excited and that puts my worried soul at ease.

We’ve started planning and we’re trying to figure out how to incorporate the boys into it so that they feel that they are a part of it. We’ve been trying to work on becoming a family, and I think making them feel a part of it would be great (I hope!)

Anyway, that is where I have been. We’ve been sharing the good news and I’ve been all over the internet (Etsy, The Knot, Here Comes The Guide) trying to be prepared and doing my research. But I had to come on and share it with all of you too! I hope that you all had a great Thanksgiving! Oh, and here is a photo of the ring because, as a fellow lady, I know you all want to see it.