Saturday, August 31, 2013

Date Night. Then and Now.

Tonight was one of those extremely rare nights where BOTH boys were invited to a sleepover. At the same house. Brave people. Anyway...

I throw some mismatched clothes in a beach bag, topped by some pj's that were probably more suited for winter than the 90ยบ day we had today, and sprint quickly put the boys and some sleeping bags in the car. While pulling out of the driveway, I mumble aloud, "With you guys gone, maybe dad and I will have a date night." To which my oldest replied, "Don't you think you're getting a little old for that?"

We did have a date night. But we've been together for 10 years, and the original date night was 2 kids ago...things have changed.

THEN: Date night started at 9PM.
NOW: We're out the door at 10 to five to, 'beat the crowd.'

THEN: A good time meant finding a happy hour, a big crowd, and food that came in a basket. It didn't matter what it was as long as it was deep-fried.
NOW: We avoid the crowds, we have dinner AND appetizers...sometimes fried.

THEN: I spent at least an hour getting ready. I had to have the perfect outfit, hair had to look good, make-up just so, and a quick spray of perfume.
NOW: Jeans that allow some expansion, shoes that aren't too worn but are going on 5+ years old, and good luck finding a shirt that isn't a T-shirt and doesn't reveal the muffin top I have when in sitting position. (Imagine assuming a squatting position in front of a full-length mirror to see if my rolls show through the shirt I've chosen.)

THEN: Drinks consisted of cheap beer and shots.

NOW: Sprite for him, wine for me. And if I'm feeling a little wild, a margarita.

THEN: I picked at the fried food, watching my figure.
NOW: If I want steak, I order it. Medium rare. With mushrooms. And a baked potato.

THEN: Conversation was witty, and sometimes even suggestive.
NOW: We can debate for 15 minutes whether the fish on the wall is a northern or a muskie.

THEN: He refrained from burping.
NOW: He farts in the car, claiming to make room for the dessert we ordered to go and I don't bat an eye.

THEN: We ordered drinks for last call.
NOW: We're home in time for the 6 o'clock news.

THEN: When we got home, we poured more drinks.
NOW: We immediately change into our 'fat' clothes. I mean 'comfy' clothes.

THEN: We talked about world politics, the latest TV shows, and religion until the sun came up.
NOW: Conversation consists of what body part aches the most.

THEN: He hung on every word I said.
NOW: He actually admits that he had "tuned me out" for a minute and could I please repeat the last 10 minutes of conversation?

THEN: We enjoyed loud music and a game of darts.
NOW: We enjoy the peace and quiet of not being interrupted by children.

THEN: We slept in because we were hung-over.
NOW: We sleep in because we can!

THEN: We held hands.
NOW: Okay, we still hold hands.

THEN: Date night was every weekend.
NOW: Twice a year.

THEN: Spent money on me because he might get, 'lucky.'
NOW: Spends money because he IS lucky.

Back then, I was giddy to spend time with my husband on our dates. And now, I am still a little giddy, but for an entirely different reason, to have him to myself. I sometimes miss the "old days," but I actually relish these days. We laugh a lot, usually about something the kids have said or done. We love each other on a much deeper level than back then. And even if we don't talk as much as we used to, we understand each other without words.

We're not out to impress anyone, we're happy the way we are. We don't need alcohol to enjoy ourselves, we have life experiences. And even though we don't seem to have the time to "date" like we used to, it makes the dates we DO have that much more special.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Rant by Room

For over 700 days, my house has suffered. Neglect, abuse, and at times, abandonment. Because I just didn't have the time or energy to give it the care it deserved or needed. And I wasn't getting any help.

I begged, pleaded, threatened my boys to please, please help me. I even lowered myself to a level I didn't want to come to, "You just must not care about me." Worked for maybe 2 hours. I wasn't asking much, just that they all clean up their OWN things...

Anyway, now that I'm done with school. Here's my pent up rantings in blog form:

Lets start in the bathroom, because that's so easy:
I don't care how accessible, how fresh, or how cold the water is in the dog dish, they insist on drinking out of the toilet. For our larger dog, it doesn't matter if the seat is down, he manages to stick his beak-y nose beneath the seat, lift it, drink and then lets the seat slam down when he's done. Usually at 2 in the morning. The smaller dog has very large lips. He dribbles everywhere.
We call him "Rip-Alot-Of-Lips"

 And honestly, I think Kamrin gets in trouble more often than not for not aiming when it's actually Ripley leaving little puddles from the reservoir he calls lips. Bo will actually follow you into the bathroom and stare at the opposite wall, while you use 'his' water bowl! If he could hum and tap his paw, he would. The minute you're done, he rushes over like he's been stranded in the desert for a week!

There is a cup FULL of kid-sized toothbrushes. Each with bristles as hard as a pumice stone because each child refuses to rinse the brush after brushing.

We have an empty toilet paper holder, and 3 rolls of toilet paper sitting on the bathroom counter. But you only notice after you've started peeing that it's just far enough out of each that you have to lift you butt off the toilet and risk being a part of the Ripley statistic.

When you get out of the shower, the fogged mirror has each boy's name written on it along with several zombie faces (and hearts...go figure).

While in the shower, the towel you so carefully hung on the hook to use when you got out, is now lying on the edge of the counter...used to wipe up the millions of small beard hairs in the sink. And it wasn't replaced. And the towel closet is over two soggy steps away.

Along that same line...every time I give the bathroom I deep scrubbing, there is some sort of siren song that compels my husband to shave, or clip nose hair, or give himself a haircut. A small poodle ends up in the sink.

On to the bedroom:
My husband's dirty clothes always end up right. next. to the bed. I imagine my husband as some sort of Frankenstein, with arms outstretch grumbling, "urmmmm, bed..." and the shorts just end up right there. I've tried putting a laundry hamper in there. Doesn't work. I tried 3 laundry baskets, maybe thinking he was just a bad aim. Still, they end up draped over the fan, or become a fire hazard over our TV hook-up box on the dresser.

I'm one of those weird people who have to have their sheets straightened before I can climb into bed. Kind of a "princess and the pea" concept. We have a deep mattress and special sheets with pockets. Those have to be tugged all the way down or I will be awake all night.

I don't care how hot it is, I have to at least have a sheet on me. All of me. No feet poking out, no diagonal sheets, and enough that it goes over the edge of the mattress. My husband will be satisfied if 30% of his calf is covered and the top blanket is 3/4 on the floor. I have, several times, come in, retrieved the ball of sheet (haha) from underneath his right leg and completely remade the bed while he slept.

My husband feels the need to sleep with 4 pillows. There might as well be a 3rd person in our bed. Hate it.

Oh kitchen, there is so much I could say here. I like my kitchen clean, but it's a never ending battle. Like the tiny top edge of the long freezie pop that was cut off and abandoned, and then left to melt and stain my counter. Not to mention the 5 sticky knives that are laying next to it, because lord forbid you use the same knife for each Popsicle!

Or when I'm sitting at the kitchen table, dislodging my elbow from a nearly invisible syrup stain, and my heart jumps to my throat because I saw something scurry across the floor out of the corner of my eye. Then I realize it's just a tumbleweed of dog hair caught in the breeze.

There should be a "minute to win it" sort of contest that test how much garbage you can stuff in to a swing top garbage can before it will get thrown out. When the dogs are able to treat themselves to a trash buffet and I come home to licked-clean pot pie holders, ice cream sandwich wrappers, and chewed up dirty napkins...PLEASE, someone take out the damn garbage!

Why do I find empty pop cans, half-filled pudding cups with the spoon still in them, and a partially eaten rock-hard sandwich in the refrigerator? Why?! Just throw it away or eat the dang thing. Really? Do you think you're going to re-heat and eat ketchup covered fries?

My garbage disposal never smells right. I've used baking soda, ice cubes...and even reached my hand down in to those gloomy depths, even though every scary movie has told me not to, to find the source of the stench. Only to follow my nose to the sponge that was not rinsed of the salsa it was used to wipe up. I squeeze it into the overflowing garbage and hope the dogs don't eat it.

I have to soak the glass microwave tray for an entire day before melted cheese will scrape off of it. Use a freakin' plate people! Not to mention the Chef-Boy-Ardee splatter all over top, bottom and sides of the microwave (Are you getting an idea of our family's diet here?)

Dishes put in the dishwasher with half a meal on them? Why are you surprised when they're not clean after the dishwasher's run?

Living Room:
Why is it that the dogs feel the need to puke on the living room carpet? Even if the hardwood floors of the kitchen is 6 inches away? And why is the puke bright yellow or red? There is nothing that takes this out. And if it does, the carpet is 'rougher' than the rest of the room. Or green from whatever I used to spray on it.

There is a multitude of socks thrown in frustration everywhere. They end up over couch arms, across piano keys, and just lying in the middle of the floor because in our morning rush out the door, I must go through 6 pairs that are "lumpy" or "don't feel right." Thrown, because by the time I've told them 7 times to get their socks in on in the morning, we're all frustrated that I need to LEAVE NOW!

Weird that I need to vacuum at least 13 fly carcasses off of the floor, because no one knows how to shut the screen door!

Family room downstairs:
It stinks like pigs. Literally. Because my son promised me he would clean the guinea pig cage...and he doesn't. All they do is eat, pee and poop. I hate them. I fantasize about releasing them in our yard and letting them fend for themselves. Ungrateful pigs. I bought you a GLASS drinking bottle for Pete's sake!

When I clean, I have to deal with empty Xbox game holders laying open like an unread book and disks stacked in the middle of the floor. I pain-stakingly put them all in their rightful holders, and then am screamed at because the boys can't find them. (What's wrong with that picture?)

There is a pile of dad's socks to the left of his chair. He settles in to watch TV, and off the socks go, to be gently dropped in an ever rising pile of sock puppets.

The Boy's Room:
Scares the hell out of me. Enough said.

Of course all of this is coming from someone who vacuums backwards so that I can have the satisfaction of not leaving any footprints. I enjoy the vacuum streaks. It gives me a sense of accomplishment.

I like a clean house. Some day, I hope I know what that feels like.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

I Hate Kindergarten!

The new school year is nearly upon us, and I admit, I'm feeling a bit more dread than the kids are.

Last year was Kamrin's first year at "real school." Around this area, kindergartners are rounded up, and placed in one building. Five hundred 5 year olds? What could possibly go wrong?

I was hopeful for Kam. He was very social, had no problems to talking to people, and he was excited to go. For about 2 weeks.

But I should've known when Kam and I met the teacher at open house, it wasn't going to be a good fit. We walked through the door and introduced ourselves, and that was it. She didn't talk to Kam, but rather looked toward the door for the next parent to greet. On our way out, she didn't remember his name. Now don't get me wrong, there are some AWESOME teachers out there, I had some myself, but she was young, and I didn't get the feeling that she loved what she was doing.

Kamrin is a special kid. I mean that in many ways. He started talking early and hasn't quit since. He can't sit still. There are few things that will keep him focused. And he's not for the faint of heart with all that energy he has pent up inside him.

Color charts suck. I hate them. This teacher had hers pinned to the board at the front of the room. For those of you who aren't familiar, a child starts out (in our case) on green. If you don't behave, you are "pinned down" to subsequent other, purple, and the dreaded pink. If you do well, you "pin up" to yellow, orange and the coveted red. If you made it to red, you got special privileges. It's a form of public humiliation if you ask me. Oh sure. If you have that perfect kid, you'll argue that it's a good way to get kids to WANT to behave. But to Kam it was a label. He was constantly being asked to clip down. He tried so hard. I tried not to make a big deal about it. His first words to me when I picked him up after school usually involved what color he was on at the end of the day. I went as far as telling him that "it didn't matter to me what color he was on as long as he tried his best." A good day for us was when he managed to stay on the color he started on.

They had a calendar in their school folders that were brought home every day. In them, a circle was colored in with the color corresponding to where they were that day. The things that Kam gotten pinned down for were trivial. Humming in class (which he does when he knows he's not supposed to talk), not coming back from the bathroom on time (really? since when do 5 year olds know how long 10 minutes is?), not keeping his hands to himself (he likes to hug). Typical behavior of a hyper-active little boy. She would always write a note by the 'bad' colors, but once, when he reached yellow...there was nothing. So I wrote, "GOOD JOB KAM!" No positive feedback.

Unfortunately, this meant that ALL the teachers and the principal knew who he was. He was a behavior problem. And if something went wrong in the lunch line, they looked for Kam.

And the kids that made it to red? They were allowed to clip other kids down. Want to set kids up for being tyrants? That's the way to do it.

Since the clothes pins on the color chart had the kids' names on them, everyone in the class (and parents too!) would know who was constantly being "bad."

Don't get me wrong. Kamrin had a hard time adjusting. In his world, things are black and white. He knew what the rules were at school and he did his best to follow them. When he corrected a friend for getting out of line, and they pushed him, Kamrin got in trouble for trying to pull that kid back in line. He didn't understand why he was being punished for what he thought was doing the right thing, by a teacher who was the authority figure. He didn't handle it well. He would run and hide. 2 times, it wasn't in the classroom and an all out search was required. Didn't sit well with his teacher. She referred him to a counselor for 'anger management.'

Her solution? Tape a chart, on the TOP of his desk, giving him options to "cool down" instead of running. Another label. No other child had this taped to their desk. Singled out again.

One thing I noticed was that Kamrin's work that came home from school was sloppy. On the back of each page were elaborate pictures. Ones that he drew. Unfortunately, most consisted of zombies, or people with guns. More fodder for the counselor. By the way, the work was sloppy, but it was correct.

He once brought home a 12 page booklet, pages front and back consisted of pictures with 3 boxes under each picture. The home work was for the parent to cut letters out, then give them some to choose from, so the could write what the picture was. Parents were encouraged to give them a hint and provide the first letter. So I cut out all the letters, and tried to persuade Kam to participate in completing the home work. He absolutely refused. It wasn't due for a few weeks, so I told him no Sponge Bob until we did at least three. Well, that lit a fire. He sat down, pencil in hand, and looked at the first page. He completely ignored the pile of cut out letters, and started writing. He wrote the name of every. single. picture. On all 12 pages. In 10 minutes. He missed one, "yak." I don't think I know a 5 year old that knows what a yak is.

I emailed his teacher on several occasions. She basically told me that she didn't have the time to give Kam "special attention." At conferences, when she pointed out his sloppy work, and told me that Kamrin will sit and draw until until she tells him that he has to get it done or risk being clipped down. At that point, he'll flip it over and blaze through it. Boredom? I think so. I pointed out to her, that it was all correctly done, even if it was sloppy.

It broke my heart to drop him off at school, shoulders slumped and feet dragging. He was a trooper though.

The last straw was when I received an email from the principal telling me that Kam had 'gauged' a fellow student in the arm with a pencil. What?! That wasn't my good-hearted Kam. I asked Kamrin what had happened. He told me that he was sharpening his pencil and the as he was finishing, the kid behind him pushed him, so when he turned around (sharpened pencil in hand) he 'scraped him' (his words). I went to the principal, fully expecting to have to meet with this kids' parents. I asked him if the kid was okay. He informed me that the child was fine. Didn't even need a band aid. So I said that I didn't consider that a gouge, more like an abrasion. I also found out that since they didn't actually SEE the other kid push Kamrin, they couldn't punish THAT kid. So apparently, until my child is pushed and suffers injury, he will not be believed.

I finally decided to have Kam tested. My mind was thinking everything, hyper-activity, autism, just something to explain why he couldn't relate to school. And then I found the school psychologist. I love her. Mostly because she loves Kam. It turns out that Kamrin can't focus because he takes in everything.

Here's how she explained it to me. When you or I are talking to someone, we are looking at them and hearing them. Kam does that too, but he's also very aware of how his butt is sitting on the chair, feels his arms on the table, ingests everything that goes on in the background of the person. He is bombarded with information and can't filter it out. This information overload causes him to become distracted. (I'm sure the humming sometimes acts as his filter.)

They decided to try 'sensory breaks.' Apparently Kamrin isn't the only one with problems. These breaks allow him to leave the classroom for 10 minutes a day, and spend some time with his counselor, just doing calming activities. Like filling jugs with sand, playing with texture oriented toys, or swinging. It seemed to help. The psychologist also suggested that Kamring be tested to see if he needs to have more advanced learning, as he seems to be bored in class.

This discovery came within the last 2 months of school, and it seemed to be working. But now we have the transition to 1st grade. He has to ride a bus. THAT could be interesting. I'm hoping his teacher will be able to 'tune in' to him more.

Now that this rant is incredibly huge, I also want to add that I find it sad that we herd our young students through the system. Can't slow down for some, can't speed up for others. This has become my slogan.


Get rid of these stupid charts. Or make them more private. Quit labeling my child, and making him believe he's a failure because he doesn't make it to "red." His best was yellow, and I'm proud of him. I'm color blind.