Tuesday, November 27, 2007

My Life Right Now

Let me start by stating that I love my husband.
He is a fabulous father and the kids and I LOVE spending time with him. When he's here. And therein lies the problem.

From Monday to Friday his typical schedule is like this:
Up at 5:30 AM
Out the door by 6
At school early to grade papers
7:30 - 2:45 Teach
3 - 5 Work on theater-related stuff (this week that means practicing with a group of kids that will be presenting a one act at this weekend's state theater conference that he will be attending with them - from Thursday night until early Sunday morning....another story for another time)
5:20 -5:45 Home to see kids and me
5:45 Leave to go back to school for evening rehearsal of the fall show
10:30 or so Home

On Tuesdays I teach Hebrew School from 3:30 to 5:30, so he comes home at 3:30 to stay with the kids and then leaves at 5:45 for rehearsal.

Most Saturdays he spends the majority of the day at school for additional rehearsal.

On Sundays I teach Religious School from 9-1. We always have dinner at his parents' on Sundays, a great tradition which, for some reason, has stretched out to now mean he brings the kids there for lunch and stays ALL afternoon through dinnertime. I do housework, grocery shopping, planning, etc. from 1:30 - 4 and then join them for dinner.

Does anyone think I'm being unreasonable when I say I'm feeling overwhelmed and like a single parent?!!!

I love being a mom, and I love teaching, and I love that I have worked out a schedule that allows me to do both. I currently teach three mornings a week from 9-12, but frequently end up subbing on the days I'm not teaching my own class, and come January that will increase to five mornings a week. J is at the same school, so she comes with me in the morning to "help" me set up my room, and comes to my room when the day is done. I drop the boys off at school or at a friend's house to bring them to school in the morning, and have many different people helping me by picking them up at 11:30 and bringing them to school to play until my school day is done. That means absolutely no kid-free quiet moments for me.

I really do enjoy running the household, but taking care of the groceries, the meal planning, the cooking, the clean-up, the picking up, the bills, the incoming paperwork, the holiday shopping, the house cleaning, AND the laundry is a lot to squeeze in. Add to that the fact that A has Asperger's and B is going through testing to figure out just what is going on in his head and J is just quite challenging most of the time, and that I have researched many different strategies to try with all of them that I am trying to put in our regular weekly schedule.

Add to that my birthday party business that I am trying to run (a fun and quite necessary financial addition to our overall income) and expand.

Add to that my clinical depression and narcolepsy that I take meds for but really have to work on to stay on top of. And the fact that insurance won't pay for more than 25% of my narcolepsy meds so I'm still trying to figure out alternative ways to pay for it.

I am by no means saying that DH doesn't do anything around here. He works incredibly long hours at school, even though if we worked out the hourly rate for all the theater work he is doing it would be next to nothing. He unloads the dishwasher for us every morning (a BIG help) and takes out the trash and the recycling. When he is here in the late afternoons for his chance to see us, I put him to work bathing the kids (C'mon, it's one-on-one quality time with each child!) to make our bedtime routine easier. This Sunday since I didn't have Religious School, he helped by cleaning up the downstairs while I worked some on the computer before we got together with his parents at 11 to buy the kids new shoes (my in-laws buy them shoes each season - sweet!) and help them pick out their Christmas tree. It was definitely helpful to have the clean-up taken off my Sunday To Do list. But do I sound like I'm whining when I say it's just not enough?!

I've talked with DH about this A LOT. He made a HUGE decision last week that he would not be assistant directing the spring show at the High School any more. Instead, he will be directing the Middle School show beginning in January, which means he makes the rehearsal schedule, gets more responsiblity and the recognition (and pay) that he deserves. He plans to have rehearsal three - four afternoons a week from 3 - 5, meaning that he will be home before 5:30 every day and not going out after that. That is, except for the evenings he will have rehearsal at our favorite community theater for the first show he will be actually be part of there in awhile.

So I'm going to keep telling myself that it WILL get easier by the end of December when he has winter break, and then in January, when his schedule changes a lot.

But A has been having a really rough time (since last Wednesday - I should have tried to structure our time off from school more, but damnit, I needed a little break!) which translates into lots more meltdowns (which now include screaming as well as throwing himself to the floor and crying loudly) and difficulty in responding to directions/commands. And J keeps whining about everything. And B is so hyped up I might have to send him upstairs for the rest of his "quiet time" since he keeps jumping on the couch instead of sitting or lying there so we can all have a little down-time.

I welcome ANY and ALL advice, words of wisdom, whatever!

I'm going to keep repeating that it will get better. And taking lots of deep breaths. Always good. In and out. Repeat.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

To Do List for the Kids

One of the times that we have been having a LOT of trouble with is the transition from school to home. I'm tired, they're tired, it's hard to stay focused, stuff ends up everywhere, I'm sure that's not an uncommon scenario.

I created a simple To Do list for each child, taking photos of whatever they felt was appropriate for each item on the list, and copied them each onto their favorite color cardstock. Today we used it for the first time. As soon as they had buckled themselves in, I handed them each their personal to do list so they could review it in the car. I wish I could say that they were each able to stay focused independently and complete all the tasks with no prompts from me, but that is our ultimate goal. It did help me get them focused, and I could now remind them to pick up their list again because they still needed to do # __. When they felt they were finished, they came over to me and we read their lists together, making sure each one was completed, and then they received major praise and reinforcement from me. And now the boys are onto A's tv choice for quiet time, and will be on to their computer time soon (when J gets her tv choice), so I better get my butt in gear to do my chores for the day while they're resting.

Our New Schedule

I took Trace's advice and joined photobucket so I could show you all the schedule I created for our afternoon. I'm learning how much better all the kids (and I) do structure, and created this visual one for us to use. Let me know what you think or if you have any questions about how we're using it. We tried it yesterday and it was a FABULOUS day!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time there lived a harried mom who was tired all the time. She would wake up in the morning, get the kids dressed and fed, and feel the need to go back to sleep. She would usually fight this feeling as much as possible. She would drive the kids to their schools and then teach two-year-olds for three hours and feel awake (because it's kind of hard to teach little ones without being constantly "on"), but when class was over and her own children joined her in her classroom, her energy level would begin to drop. She would herd her children to their van, make sure they were buckled in, drive them home and feed them (yet again), get them cleaned up, and then make them lay down on the couch for "quiet time." As soon as the harried mom sat down, her eyelids became so heavy it took all her effort to keep them open. So she would often go upstairs to nap for a little, but after sleeping for a little it became nearly impossible for her to force herself completely out of her semi-sleep state. She would sometimes come up with places to take the kids, mainly because moving around was one of the main ways she could stay awake. When night came and the kids were in bed, the harried mom would pour herself into her own bed. Whether napping or sleeping for the night, the harried mom could go into a dream state almost instantly. It's how she always fell asleep: shut her eyes, thought of a dream, and went into it. At the start of the dream she would be still awake a little bit, enough to manipulate the dream however she wanted, though she no longer could move her body. And then she would sink deeper and deeper into the dream.

The harried mom finally saw a specialist to figure out why she was tired all the time and discovered that she had Narcolepsy. Finally - a reason why she felt tired all the time. And the new knowledge that the way she fell asleep was NOT the way it worked for everyone else. So the doctor gave her medicine to help her be awake when she wanted to be. The only problem was she was no longer able to shut her eyes and begin dreaming. Now her mind raced even though she was tired and quiet and lying in bed. Instead of going into dream houses or seeing old crushes who now found her irresistable, her mind thought about the different things she needed to do the next day and the different things she didn't get to do that day.

The harried mom was frustrated. How could she be wide awake the next day, even with medicine, if she couldn't fall asleep at night? So the harried mom contacted her equally harried sister, who suggested the age old remedy of keeping a notebook by the bed and writing out all the stuff in the mom's head BEFORE she tried to fall asleep. What do you know? It worked! And the harried mom lived happily ever after . . . for the next two weeks, which is how long the sample packs of medicine will last her. And her quest for the miracle drugs continues, but that is a tale for another day.

The End.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Alright all you computer savy people out there, I'd love some advice:

1) What anti-virus software do you use? I had one expert tell me that Norton slows things down a LOT. Do you use that, or is there something else you prefer?

2) I just made some great schedules for the kids (based on the conference I attended on Friday). They are PDF files. Any suggestions on how to post them here so I can share them?

If you have your own blog but don't know the answer, could you send people my way so I could get lots of input? THANK YOU!

Friday, November 16, 2007

What a Great Day!

What a great day!
I got together with some of my Flyfriends (from my local Flylady message board) last night for our bi-annual "Thanksgivingfest" (because we are all so thankful for the support we get from each other - aaawwww). I had a great time, even though my babysitter cancelled at the last minute and I had to bring the kids with me. The kids were great, surprisingly, and we stayed later than I had planned. One of the best parts of the evenings, besides catching up with a LOT of great people (like the Domestic Goddess, Trace, Perky, and a few others who don't have blogs), was the gift I received from Trace, the fabulous hostess. She had a few sample packs of Provigil that she gave to me. My insurance company told me their final answer yesterday about my narcolepsy meds: they'll cover 25% which means I'll "only" have to pay $300 a month. Oh, yeah, sure, no problem. I'm trying to come up with ways to "fight the system" and would welcome ANY suggestions anyone has. I tried contacting Cephalon (who makes the medication) but they could only help me in paying for the medication if my insurance didn't cover it at all. Uh, okay, so their coverage still forces me to pay WAAAAY more than I could POSSIBLY pay - couldn't you help ME?!!!

Since Trace gave me some sample packs, I was able to take one this morning, and I tried another one at lunch time. I felt a difference right away. Today was the first day I tried the second pill - WOW! I was able to stay alert all afternoon into the night. I didn't feel high or jittery (maybe a little, but I'll wait and see if my body adjusts to it), just awake. Amazing!

And today was great for another reason - I was able to work things out so I could attend a full day conference about teaching kids with Asperger's. The entire conference was riveting for me. I came away with so many incredible ideas to use immediately and other great ideas about revising A's IEP (Indivdual Education Plan) since a good portion of it was about writing appropriate goals for kids with Asperger's. I am so pumped about this I can't wait to get started.

The conference was about an hour away, so I had lots of time in the car to think. I have lots of other blog posts perculating up in my head so I'm hoping to type them up soon.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

This too shall pass

ARGH! What was I thinking?!!
Two boys sick at home?
Twice as many things to do to keep them occupied, hydrated, dry (thank you, A), and resting!

I have managed to also keep doing laundry. I've also cleaned out the costume dress-up area in the playroom. And I'm tackling paperwork upstairs in our bedroom.

Now the boys are actually hungry, so I'm off to make lunches.
As for J - my wonderful sister volunteered to bring her home for a playdate. Yes!

Getting ready to Tackle It

B is still sick (that awful barking cough) but no longer has the high fever he spiked yesterday. He clearly passed it on to A, who woke up whining so much I finally realized he must be sick. I touched his head and it was burning up. At least no cough .... yet. Luckily my sister is available to pick up J to bring her to school and bring her home again at 12. I don't know what I'm going to do when she goes back to St. Lucia on December 1st for SIX WEEKS.

So this mornings the boys will be camped out on the couch watching tv so they can rest. J will be in school. I will be stuck in the house. See where this is going?

DH and I have been catching up on laundry, but my "tackle it" projects for today include finishing all the laundry in the house. I know we always make more, but if I do one or two loads a day, we're good. So if I can just get caught up, I'll be able to do maintenance every day to stay on top of it.

I started organizing the playroom (but forgot to take before pictures for the organizational challenge) yesterday, so my next "tackle it" project is to finish it. There are certain toys that the kids have not played with in SOOO long, but DH always feels that if his parents gave them the toys we should NEVER get rid of them. I might put them away and see how long it takes him to even notice it. Then we can discuss the fact that they're just TOYS and it doesn't mean anything negative against his parents!

And finally, I plan to order groceries for the month (gotta love free delivery e-mails) since we're really low on food.

As soon as J gets picked up I'm jumping in the shower and starting my projects for the day. I need to set up a neb treatment for B first, and make each boy change out of his overnight pull-up so they don't pee and poop in it all day. Which means I need to help A change into two piece pajamas so he can more easily go to the bathroom. He's really out of it, but taking his temperature is VERY traumatic for him, so I'm just going to let it go.

Alright, here goes!

Monday, November 12, 2007

I Quit!

So I just can't take the pressure of the NaBlo whatever thingy to blog every single day. Maybe next year.

B is sick right now with croup. He woke us up at 5 this morning with that awful croup bark and gasping for air. After a neb treatment he was good enough to go back to bed, even though he still didn't sound great. Daddy stayed home with him since I was having two families come in today to observe my class to decide if they wanted to sign their child/children up for January. B spiked a fever as the day went on, but we stayed on top of the breathing with the neb treatments every four hours and have the vaporizer on full blast right by him, so hopefully won't be making any ER trips tonight.

As for my talk with DH, it went well. He made a HUGE decision to stop doing the High School shows for next year. He'll still "consult" once or twice a week, but won't have the same committment - which is so big. He also is going to make more of an effort to come home between his rehearsals to see the kids and give me a little break. I'm feeling very hopeful.

Plus I upped my anti-depressant by half a pill. That might also factor into the fact that I'm feeling so much better.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Tonight's the Night

DH will actually be home in time for us to attend a birthday party as a family this afternoon (gasp) and will NOT be going out tonight (gasp gasp). So...after the kids are in bed I plan on talking with him about his schedule. I think I will be stressing the concepts: "Family needs to come first" and "Compromise" and "I feel like a single parent!"

Wish me luck.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Halloween pictures

Curious about what my children were for Halloween?

J was Cinderella, which was very easy to do since we already had the dress. She wanted her face painted like her brothers so I put a heart on one cheek and a magic wand on the other.

B wanted to be a clown - doesn't he look happy?!!!

And as for my logo-loving son, A, he was the Direct TV logo. Don't ask me why - we don't even HAVE Direct TV!!!

Major vent

DH was in and out for a grand total of 45 minutes tonight. I timed dinner so it would be on the table when he came in so we could eat with him. He ended up getting an emergency phone call from the head director of the high school musical that her FIL was back in the hospital. He ended up talking to her for 15 minutes. He just left to go to rehearsal. Tomorrow he teaches all day, will stay after school for rehearsal, and then will stay in the area for dinner so he can go to the football game that night. Saturday he will be leaving at 8:15 in the morning to go to rehearsal and plans to not be home until late. What is late? Anytime from 2 PM to 10 PM. Thanks, that helps me make plans. Sunday he is "in charge" of the kids while I teach Religious School. He brings them to his parents' for lunch, then the boys to me for school, at which time he returns to his parents' where he left J. When he picks up the boys after school, he returns again to his parents for the rest of the day. I'm expected to join them all for dinner at 4:00. Yes, that is the only time we will have to spend together as a family and it will be with his parents.

Next week is no better. He has rehearsal after school every day and rehearsal at night. I have a few night time things that I REALLY want to be able to do, but will have to find someone else to watch the kids if I want to do any of them, and we don't have any babysitters we know that can sit on a weeknight. I'll try to get one of our parents to help, but it always is clearly such an imposition it's hard to even ask. I'm just so frustrated about his schedule, the amount of time he has to spend with the kids, the amount of time that I'm the single parent. Don't get me wrong - when he's with the kids he is a fabulous father! The kids love him and he clearly loves them. But when they don't get to see him, I'M the one who has to hear them whine and complain about it.

And he just got cast in a show at the community theater where we did a lot of shows B.K. (before kids). I'm truly happy for him. He needs an outlet for himself, a chance to make grown-up friends. BUT....when is he EVER going to be home?!! I try talking to him about this, but for some reason, the head director for the HS show never puts together a regular schedule, so he doesn't know for sure when he needs to be there, and now that her FIL is in the hospital, it might not matter anyway because he'll probably need to be leading rehearsal every night, which means that I won't get a night off for a long time!

He tries to assert that the reason he does the HS shows is for the extra money, but I shoot that one down everytime. If he worked out how much he was making per hour, it would probably come to less that a dollar an hour. Sure, it's nice to get that paycheck when each show is done, but I can think of tons of things either one of us could be doing to bring in the same amount of money for WAY less hours, and they don't even involve me working a corner or dancing around a pole. He's doing this because he loves it, and that's fine, except it just takes so much time away from our family!!!!

And to make matters worse, DH just went to pick up my narcolepsy medicine and it appears that insurance will only take $90 off of the cost, leaving us $400 to pay each MONTH. Obviously that's not possible. So now I have to find time to call the doctor and the insurance company to figure out WHY in the world they're not paying for this medicine that the doctor had specifically told them was necessary.


Monday, November 05, 2007


I love Shutterfly.
I just put together our holiday cards, a calendar to give as gifts, a 5 X 7 photo book to give as another gift, and while I have to go to bed soon before I pass out, I have a good amount of gifts planned out or finished for the holidays.

And now I must sleep!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Weekend Wrap-Up

Very impressive blogger, aren't I?
After posting that I was going to do NaBloPoMo, I posted nothing all weekend. I promise to do better. And this is still Sunday, so technically all I missed was Saturday. That's not too bad!

Not too much to write since it's already past my bedtime.

The meds have been great, though I didn't sleep well at ALL Friday night. I'm trying to give just one pill a day a week for my body to adjust before I attempt to change the dosage. All in all I'm thrilled with the way I have been feeling.

I had enough energy to sort through a TON of paperwork today after religious school, which felt great!!! And yesterday I was even able to reorganize all my business stuff so it no longer takes over a 1/4 of the playroom. I have grand plans for reorganizing the playroom this month, but forgot to take pictures of that section of the room for the "before" for the challenge from my favorite Organizing Junkie. Oh well, there's stil PLENTY left in the room to be organized!

Alright, off to bed!

Friday, November 02, 2007


I almost forgot - this month is NaBloPoMo, which bottom line means I will be writing a post every single day. Just wanted you to know.

Also, I was just talking to my oldest friend in the whole wide world. One of her best friends from college is in the hospital due to an extremely aggresive form of breast cancer. She can use all the prayers she can get right now. It had looked very bad this weekend, but she has become more concious and alert this week. It sounds like the fact that she woke up some is more than the doctors had hoped for, so maybe this is a sign of recovery. Karen has two young children. She is only thirty-five years old.

I'm Awake!

It's two o'clock and I DON'T feel like I need to take a nap. Could the medication have taken effect that quickly? This morning while driving to school was the first time I did NOT feel like closing my eyes at the red lights. I'm feeling a little dizzy, but hopefully that will just be while my body is adjusting to the meds.

I came home from work and still felt human. I feel like I can handle the rest of the day without laying down. I feel "normal."

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Brand New Day

It's official - I have Narcolepsy. My two day sleep study results showed that I did not have excessive sleep apnea (no more than 8 per hour), I did show that I feel asleep almost immediately. In fact, the nap study (every two hours they let me take a twenty minute nap) showed that I fell asleep within two minutes EACH time. I knew I fell asleep, but that's fast! I'm so excited to have an actual reason for being so tired all the time. The doctor prescribed PROVIGIL which I'll start tomorrow morning.

One of the descriptions my doctor gave me of narcolepsy is that it's like a faulty dimmer switch in your brain between the wake state and the asleep state and it just doesn't regulate successfully between the two states. This made perfect sense to me!

So now I'm going to set up one more show for the kids to watch while I lay down for a short nap.