Monday, December 31, 2007

I'm an Organizing Maniac!

An amazing thing happens when my depression is under control (thanks to my magic pills) and I'm no longer feeling the need to take a nap every chance I get (thanks to my other magic pills): I'm motivated and excited about doing things around the house. This has been a great week for my house. I've been an organizing madwoman! Here's what I've managed to get accomplished so far - all while helping (i.e. bringing them more juice boxes and putting on new movies for them to watch) my sick children who were all diagnosed with pneumonia this week (yes, it's no longer just J):
  • Cleaned out the refrigerator and freezer
  • Created two different snack boxes for the kids to take snacks independently
  • Reorganized my pots and pans to make them more accessible
  • Reorganized my laundry room shelves so they only held cleaning supplies and soaps
  • Cleaned out the pantry to create more space on top and put like items in containers
  • Cleaned out the food cabinet in the kitchen to also put like items together in containers
  • Reorganized the kids' arts and crafts supplies and projects into baskets
  • Cleaned out J's drawers and moved the clothes into her new "official" bedroom with the boys
  • Moved the furniture around in the boys' room to utilize the remaining toddler bed that was still there for J (DH helped me)
  • Cleared off the boys' shelves on their hutch and bookshelves
  • Reorganized the large white cubbies in the dining room to show off some theater mementos and contain our games, a box for towels and washcloths, our laptop, a box for drawing paper and mini-notebooks, a box for fun worksheets and papers from school, a box of coloring books, a box with crayons, markers, colored and regular pencils (all in their own boxes), a place for the kids' school bags, a box for the kids to put their papers each day, a box for my papers, a box for DH's papers, a box for all our library books, and a box of things that need to be returned or given to other people
  • Made room in our bedroom for the glider rocker that had been in J's room and moved it in (okay, DH did this, but it was my idea)
  • Went through all of J's hanging clothes and pulled out the stuff that is too small for her
  • Went through the boys' pajamas and pulled out the stuff that is too small for them
  • Cleaned out the boxes in our linen closet that contain medicines, soaps, etc.
  • Created a rag box out of all the towels that have outlived their usefulness
  • Cleared off two shelves in the kitchen to show off some pretty candles
  • Cleared off the top of the fridge
  • Cleaned out and reorganized the "junk drawer" in the kitchen
  • Climbed Mt. Washmore and declared myself victorious (A.K.A. washed, dried, and put away ALL the laundry in the house)
  • Cleaned out and reorganized the medicine cabinet and other cabinet (alright, it's not QUITE like the one I linked, but that's the idea) in the bathroom
  • AND, last but definitely not least, I cleaned out and repurposed the shelves along the basement steps. I also got DH to bring up a total (so far) of SIX different boxes that were down there and reorganized them, getting rid of LOTS of stuff along the way.

The basement is the one big phobia I have. I don't know why, possibly because I don't really like creepy crawly things and am worried (for good reason) that they're hanging out down there. I actually begin to hyperventilate when I go down there. It drives me CRAZY because it's a big disorganized mess, and while I know it's not truly impossible for me to go down there and clean it up, it's really, really, really tough. HOWEVER, this week I was able to offer DH enough incentive to bring me up a few boxes at a time for me to work through, and fill up two trash bags with trash. It's not much, but it's a start. I was even able to go down there myself and get a stack of dirty clear shoebox containers. Woohoo!

I discovered yesterday that J is definitely my daughter. When I started working in her old room (the new Upstairs Playroom) she was just as excited as I was. She kicked me out for a little so she could clean it up herself, and then had a great time with me as we found new places to put the toys. At one point, I said to her, "This is fun!" J gave me big smile as she agreed. I love having a little girl!

Tonight we're having a few families over to help us ring in the new year (WAY early, but who can stay up til midnight anymore, especially when my guys wake up at 7 no matter what time they go to bed). I can't wait to show off all my organization projects (I already warned them that they would have to ooo and aaahh). My plan for the rest of the day is to actually finish cleaning up around the house (dusting, vacuuming, mopping), something I'd be doing even if we weren't having company, but it makes it easier to have that incentive, and then if I have more time, try to do a few more projects around the house. The best part for me is that I feel no sense of urgency, no need for perfection - I'm just loving getting these things accomplished! I keep opening my basement door just to look at my beautiful shelves!

I know I'm a dork, but I'm an insanely happy dork.

Friday, December 28, 2007

The J Drama

It is a testamant to my patience that my daughter survived this afternoon. As it was, the moment DH walked in the door from running his errands today, I very calmly explained, "I need to get out of the house for an hour or I may begin screaming and I'm not sure if I'll be able to stop." Suffice it to say I am now in my favorite coffee place sipping a decaf chai tea latte and typing away on my laptop.

We had this week planned out so nicely. Our Hanukkah present to the kids (and each other) was to send them to the Holiday Camp at a local kids' gym today and yesterday from 10-3 each day. They love it there and we would have time to see a movie, take a nap together, do a few jobs around the house, whatever. Well, I plan, God laughs. We had a fabulous Christmas at my in-laws' except J's cough eventually became Walking Pneumonia. We ended up in the ER Wednesday night around 11PM since her breathing was so rapid, shallow, and caused her to retract significantly with every breath. She had woken up around 10 halluncinating from her high fever. We immediately stripped her, began sponging her down, forced some Tylenol in her. After doing all that and she felt much cooler to the touch we then took her temperature which was 102 by then - wonder what it had been before we helped reduce the fever! We gave her a neb treatment but she was a little too far gone by then, so off to the ER we went. This was the first trip that DH was willing to stay home with the boys and let me go myself instead of making one of our parents come over to stay with them. Besides, we've gone so many times before that we feel like we are seasoned pros. I ended up being up all night - we finally were released at 5:30 AM with a prescription for an oral steroid after J received two different neb treatments there, her first dose of steroids, a chest x-ray to confirm the pneumonia her pediatrician had diagnosed after listening to her lungs that afternoon (she had started her antibiotic that night at home before she went to bed). She even needed oxygen for awhile because when she slept her pulse ox dropped below 90 (scary!). When we were released her pulse ox was holding steady at 94 (should be 100), so the ER pediatrician felt she could be home as long as we kept doing her neb treatment every 3-4 hourse, even though the night. I got home at 6 AM and collapsed into bed (Thank God that DH is off from school ths week!) until 10. DH took the boys to camp, but clearly J wasn't going anywhere. And so Thursday J hung out on the couch most of the day. I went back and forth between hanging out on the couch with her out of sheer exhaustion and cleaning/organizing different areas in the house.

Today we decided she should stay home again even though she is feeling better just so she would over-exert her healing lungs. Wow, what a fun day was had by all. DH was out of the house for about four hours, so I got the full blast of Miss Moody. A lot of the morning she was in a good mood, almost hyper, so either needing to play with me (which WAS nice) or needed to talk nonstop in a very loud voice. I kept stressing to her that in order to get better faster she needs to rest and drink plenty of fluids. This clearly made an impact on her because around noon she went into her bedroom, climbed into bed with her pacifier and "Mine" (her teddy bear/blanket she has slept with since birth) and kicked me out of her room. She then proceeded to take a nap. On her own. Without prompting from me. Without the tv being on. Amazing. Unfortunately she woke up in a miserable mood. Literally nothing I could do was right. Part of it was that she was hungry (which I take full credit for since I didn't insist she eat before the nap) and part of it was that she wasn't feeling well again, but it was NOT good.

The J Drama
(All of J's lines were said at the top of her lungs as she sobbed, all of my lines were amazingly stated in a calm, quiet voice.)

J: Put on a show!
Mommy: Excuse me? I won't do that unless you ask nicely.

Apparently that meant that I would not let her select a tv show in her mind.

J: I need a show to watch. PLEASE!!!
M: Okay, tell me what you want.
J: I can't pick a show!
M: Why not?
J: Because you said I couldn't!
M: I didn't say that, I just asked you to ask me nicely. Since you said 'please' I can put on whatever show you want.
J: No, I can't pick one!
M: Okay, then I'll pick one for you.
J: Nooo!!!
M: Okay, then you pick one.
J: I CAN'T!!!!
M: Then I'll just put one on - oh, look, there's Sesame Street.
J: I don't want Sesame Street!!!
M: Alright, then how about Dragon Tales? (As I turn it on)
J: Noooo, I don't want Dragon Tales!!!
M: Okay, then why don't I just turn off the tv?
J: Noooo, I wanted Dragon Tales!!!

And then we went through it all over again about a snack.
And then about every other thing that even went through her mind (I clearly have blocked out the rest of the afternoon as I'm unable to recall any other events right now, but trust me, there were plenty!).

My hour is up. I had threatened that I might just begin driving and not stop, but my sensitive children made me take that back as soon as I said it, so now I HAVE to go back.

My next post will be more positive, I promise. I have been able to accomplish so much this week around the house I have to brag some - I'm so proud of myself. I even managed to overcome my extreme basement phobia and clean out the shelves along the steps down to the basement, but that's a story for another day.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Straight No Chaser - 12 Days

Funniest Christmas Carol Video EVER!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Getting ready

DH's show is over and vacation time has begun. Life is good! I slept in today (all the way until 12:30) but have vowed that this would be the only day I do that so I don't waste my time with DH home to help. In a few minutes I'm going to the store with J (nice to have the option of leaving the ones that DON'T want to go to the store home with Daddy) to buy pretzels and chocolate chips (to make some last minute home-made gifts) along with the fixings for Christmas breakfast at my in-laws.

My goal for today, after we make the chocolate covered pretzels, is to clean the house. I know, not very exciting, but we will head over to my in-law's tomorrow afternoon to celebrate Christmas with them, not returning until the 26th in the morning. I REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want to come home to a clean house.

I had great plans to make soup in a jar to give as gifts this year, which would have really helped keep costs down. I would have made twenty of them, but ended up running out of time, so we had to buy small Starbucks gift cards for the kids teachers and therapists as a small token of appreciation. Nice, but ended up costing more than we had wanted. Money is tight, so that was disappointing. I had an hour to myself yesterday to hang out ALONE at Starbucks with my laptop. I wrote a very detailed list of everyone we ended up buying gifts for (besides our family) so I would be very prepared for next year. I plan on making the soups in a jar for next year, so will start in October to make sure I'm finished in time without getting stressed out. I did use Shutterfly for my cards this year and LOVED how simple it was! I also updated my holiday card list on the computer so I could just print them out, saving lots of time

Looks like all three kids are going to stay home and play Candyland with Daddy, so I'm heading to Giant alone. And considering J's current lovely mood, I'm thrilled with that!

I'm off! Happy holidays, everyone!!!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Thanks - I Needed That

We've been having some rough times with A recently. His meltdowns have increased. Some days we start the day with them, some days that just increase in the afternoons, but they're happening a lot. On top of that, he's developed yet another of his fears. You and I know they're irrational, but they make perfect sense to him. Most of his fears seem to revolve around noises that have startled him. Once something gets him startled, the fear seems to encompass more and more. A couple weeks ago, DH was straightening up and accidentally unplugged the tv/TiVo. When it turned back on the TiVo made a noise that startled him, so now he's terrified that the TiVo might make that noise again. When we arrive home after being out, he often comes out of the car with his hands on his ears, looking through the window to make sure the TiVo light is still on, just to be sure. It has now escalated to him flipping out yesterday when Daddy came home since he now has associated DH with causing the TiVo to make that scary sound. ARGH!!!

Today I took the kids to a program at the library. They were so well behaved. I reminded A of the rules as soon as we sat down (mainly that he can't make comments and ask me questions in his regular speaking voice during the show) and he remembered them most of the time. They had a lot of fun. At the end of the program a man dressed as Santa came and the kids wanted to talk to him (O--kay?) so we waited in line with the rest of the kids. The boy in front of had two women with him - one was probably his mom, the other his TSS. The TSS had a binder filled with PECS cards and they were trying to get him to point to the appropriate cards so he could tell Santa that he would like a reward please. The boy was cheerful and happy and thrilled to receive his reward from Santa. And he was completely non-verbal.

When the boys were younger and I was feeling overwhelmed with the day-to-day dealings of raising infant twins, I would somtimes watch shows on families with higher-order multiples and would always walk away feeling better, thinking if they can do it with however many kids they're attempting to raise, surely I can raise my two (and then three).

A is challenging. But he can tell me what is bothering him, what is causing the meltdowns, why he's screaming (eventually). He can tell me he loves me (even if it's twenty times or more a day). I know there are kids out there who can't, whose moms would do anything just to hear those words. And today I needed to be reminded of how good I have it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Random Thoughts Bouncing Around My Head

It's been a while since I last posted. I don't like that! I really need to journal at least a few times a week, if just to clear out my head then for no other reason.

Here are the random things that are currently bouncing around my head:

1. Just read over my blog post from the end of November where I lamented the fact that I felt like a single parent and really couldn't handle it much longer. Thank you all who took the time to comment on my blog or send me a personal e-mail. It was really helpful to get reassurance from all of you that I was not whining, that it really was a crappy situation. And thank you so much to those of you who also offered help. My one friend came over Saturday morning to play with the two kids here while one was with my dad and DH was leading a drama workshop for a couple hours. I was able to actually spend some time in my room ALONE to clean and sort through a ton of stuff without having to stop every few minutes to investigate suspicious silences or odd noises. What a treat! And the Saturday before that while DH was out of time, another incredible friend took all three kids for a movie and dinner playdate with her children while I went to Borders by myself for a couple hours to relax and do some paperwork. She and her husband also took them for a few hours this past Saturday so DH and I could actually go out together! We met back at her house by five for dinner (she was hosting for a few families from our Mothers and More group). Next month we'll do the same for her. And a few other friends contacted me about getting together for playdates where the kids could play together and I could get some time off or to do chores. I have good friends.

The whole situation has gotten a LOT better. DH's show opened last week. Tonight he has a brush-up rehearsal, so he'll be home from 3:30-5:30 (two whole hours), and then performances Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and a Sunday matinee. And then the show is OVER!!!!

Next week should mean that DH will be home by 4 every day and he will be home all afternoon and evening - woohoo! And then we all have winter break, which means a couple nights over at his parents' to celebrate Christmas with them, and the rest of the week time with us at home. I just signed all three kids up for a holiday camp at a local gym where they will have supervised, organized activities from 10-3. DH and I will have those days to ourselves. I got him to agree that we would do some of the much needed things around the house that have to get done, as long as we have time to...nap each day. Sounds good to me!

2) School will begin again on January 2nd for my current two-year-old class, and on the 3rd for my new young 2s class. My current INCREDIBLE assistant will not be able to keep working with me due to some medical issues with her son that she needs to work on at a "feeding boot camp" in Jersey for a month in January, but luckily we have hired a new assistant who will be with me all five mornings. She started on Monday so she can shadow my current assistant, learn about the kids we have now, and have time to learn the behavioral techniques and strategies I have found to be the most effective. I'll have to write more about those another day.

3) Last night I found the energy to update my Holiday Card Address List (put it on a database a couple years ago), print out the labels, and stuff and label my cards. I don't have the energy to personalize each card, but the card does include nine photos of the kids either by themselves or together or with each of us parents. I was also able to include a small message to provide a little update about what has happened this past year. Gotta love Shutterfly! Tomorrow I'll go to the post office to get holiday stamps and mail them. Then I get to cross all of that off my HUGE to do list.

4) As per usual the house is a mess, though could be straightened up in about half an hour if I wanted. I've been spending a lot of time working on our finances. Some of you had commented on how important it was for me to take care of myself, a fact I totally agree with, and suggested I hire a babysitter to come in on a regular basis or a housekeeper. If I only could! Money is tight, and it has been since I stopped teaching full-time. Everything I do now that brings in money is due to the fact that without my income we would not have enough to keep our house AND eat. Maybe we could do one or the other, but not both. We currently have a hefty balance on our one credit card on which we ended up putting groceries and car repairs and other necessities (as well as some things that were not such necessities) when we simply did not have enough money in our checking account to pay for it. I know other people have lots of credit card debt too, but I do not want to dig a bigger hole for us so feel that paying that off should be a big priority, next to making sure we have enough in our checking account to pay our monthly bills and groceries. Right now we owe about $4500. When I start working five mornings a week instead of three, I THINK we will be able to put $400 a month towards it, paying it off in about a year, but ONLY if we stick very carefully to our budget. We are also setting some money aside each month to build some savings, our "emergency fund" to help us in case of an emergency. I would love to build that up more, but feel it's more important to get out of the credit card debt first. Any of you with more financial training or experience that I, please feel free to chime in and offer your advice!

5) Some cute kid comments I've heard recently:

B: We need to pick up all the pieces, including the wheels.
A: What does including mean?
B: Also.
A: Okay, we do need to pick up everything, including the wheels.

I LOVE hearing them help each other!

A: Oh no, my brain stopped working. I need to think really hard for a little to get it to start working again.


At McDonald's Monday night (yes, the kids were able to explain that chicken nuggets and french fries were QUITE appropriate to eat for Hanukkah since they are both fried in oil), while looking at the gift wrapped packages that were on the walls as decorations, A blurted out: Be sure to attend Boscov's two-day sale. They will be offering free gift wrap. Combining his ability to mimic back almost everything he hears verbatim with his new opportunity to listen to commercials (still pronounced "co-mer-sha-nals" by all three kids) when he sees Tivoed episodes of "Wheel of Fortune" and "Jeopardy" allows us all to hear various commercial incorporated into our regular conversations and games regularly. After playing "Simon Says" together last week (which we had to play as if we were on a game show), A ended the game by announcing "Commercial considerations were provided by . . . "

A has joined me at the laptop while I wrote the last paragraph. He got very excited about me adding in the links that appear in said paragraph. In case you wanted to know more about any of the underlined places, shows, or things, you can thank A for insisting I insert them all.

When I asked A if we were finished adding links, he told me that I should have a link to Winnie the Pooh so people can go on the Winnie the Pooh website. I told him that I hadn't written anything about Winnie the Pooh, so he looked at me like I was crazy as both he and B told me to just add it! So here it is, thanks to both B and A: Winnie the Pooh.

Clearly, it is time for both of the boys to get their turns on the computer (15 minutes each) while J gets to watch her show on tv, so I need to leave my comfy spot here at the dining room table and begin to tackle shoveling out the laundry still piled up in my room.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Finally Some Good News

1) E-mailed DH my last blog post and told him to read it with an open mind. He did! He apparently read it a few times and in his e-mail response (hey, we may not get to see each other much these days, but we'll always have e-mail) he actually told me that he had never realized how much his schedule affected me. Uh....okay....guess all those talks we've had never really fully sank in - he needed to see it in black and white. Bottom line, he knows, he's aware, we have two more weeks left of craziness and then it will be better.

2) After spending a good portion of the day on Thursday on the phone or the computer, I finally got my insurance company to cover my narolepsy drug 100%. What a relief!!! I really had no idea how I would be able to afford the $300/month they wanted me to pay, but ultimately working with both the benefits coordinator and the insurance company, we made it work.

3) Yesterday was crazy! I got the kids dressed, fed, and out the door, along with everything I needed for the marathon day. Dropped the boys off, brought J with me to school, set up my room, dropped off J, taught my little two-year-olds, led the preschool Shabbat service (the preschool director was out), taught my class some more (this time with my boys since they get dropped off before my school is over), and then went directly into the Parent and Me Shabbat program that I lead (brown bag lunch, another preschool Shabbat service that I lead, a craft). As soon as I finished cleaning up from that program, I quickly changed into Super R (literally) and drove to my first of two big superhero birthday parties - twenty five-year-old boys. The party went great (lots of compliments from all the parents there) though because the room was HUGE (at a country club) it was hard to keep all the kids involved in my activities, but I generally had about 12-15 kids with each game/activity we tried. That was the worst "crowd control" experience I've had so far, but guess the parents like it because they tipped me 40%! From the party I drove to my house to wrap Hanukkah presents for my sister and her family and drove to her house, where she was watching all the kids. We had Shabbat dinner there (I was ready to drop on my face by then) and then an early "fake" Hanukkah since she and her kids left for St. Lucia to visit my BIL's family for SIX WEEKS! So the kids all exchanged presents and then we went ome and I put them in bed and THEN I finally got my chance to collapse. I guess it's no surprise that I had NO trouble at all falling asleep last night. The good news with that story is that I survived the day and each activity I led went well.

4) My dad likes to take each of the kids individually on Saturday for special Grandpop time, and today he took J, so I'm down to two kids.

5) I have great friends. One is watching the boys so I can do today's birthday party (DH is away this weekend at a state high school theater conference) and the other is taking all three tonight for two hours so I can have time to myself or just stay and chat. Still don't know which I'll be doing, but it's definitely something to look forward to!

Okay, the boys are busy watching Wheel of Fortune, so I'm going to jump into the shower and get dressed. Then I need to write out our schedule so A can see it (helps him when our days are not "normal"). And then I'm getting the boys to help me prep for today's party by blowing up 50 balloons. Such fun.