Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Today was one of the worst days I've ever had at work. Working with special-needs kindergarteners, that's bound to happen, but today was one of those days where "when it rains, it pours!"

First of all, I woke up late. Mostly because I stayed up too late, talking to Jeff since he'd been gone for the past four days, visiting his grandpa in San Diego. By the time Arlie and I returned from a gymnastics banquet, I got Hayley settled with her meds and some food (she had her tonsils out yesterday morning), and Jeff got home and unpacked, it was 10 p.m. I walked past the mirror and decided I could not take one more second of my grey roots, so I decided right then and there to color my hair.

Jeff asked how long I would be, and when I asked why he said "I thought you might want to talk!" which earned him HUGE points, because, really, how sweet is that - he wanted to catch up after barely communicating but for a few texts for four days. So, I squelched on the color and sat and talked to him while it did its magic. And by the time I washed it out, took a shower, and got to bed, it was 11 p.m. and we talked until 1 a.m. At which time I promptly fell asleep only to be awakened by the alarm at 2 a.m. to give Hayley her meds. Uggghhh.

I went back to sleep till 6 when I vaguely remember turning off my alarm, and woke again to Jeff saying goodbye. "What time is it?" I asked. His reply: 7:09. CRAP! So began another typical morning of rushing, and trying to find something fast, healthy and filling that I could eat in the car on the way to work (yogurt and bananas - which, by the way, is NOT easy to eat in the car).

I had heard work was especially difficult in my absence yesterday, due to a new student with behavior issues. So, I was expecting a lot of trouble today, and also knew the school had hired my sub from yesterday to come in and work the next two days so we'd have extra hands for Mr. Trouble.

And trouble it was. With a capital T. New Student flailed, screamed, swung at me, flopped on the floor, cried, ran away, ripped paper, threw his work on the floor, and shouted "S.O.S!" every time I tried to restrain him. I took him outside for several minutes of non-stop running just before a reading group, which did NOTHING to calm him down. He squealed, flung his whole body around, refused to sit down, and unscrewed the bolts on a nearby easel. The teacher who was conducting the reading group finally asked me to take him back to our classroom. The day ended with the teacher in my classroom physically restraining him while another teacher attempted to teach a lesson. New Student screamed the whole time and the rest of the class was totally distracted.

The difficult behavior continued and it had a most unpleasant effect on the rest of the class. Six out of the nine students in the class had meltdowns, complete with crying and/or screaming. One girl threw such a fit she had to be taken outside, but her screams could be heard all the way across the room inside! Another was sobbing because he could not draw the "yellow triangle angry bird." Yet another had something happen to which I was not privy, but for which I paid the price when she said "I'm so mad at you!" and hissed at me from the bus steps (thank God she was on her way home!). Typically our days go pretty smoothly with brief episodes of behavior and maybe one or two meltdowns a week. Today it was six in one day - and some of them had multiple meltdowns.

When work was finally, blessedly, over, I had to race to Hannah's appointment with her teacher, after which I dropped her off at a friend's house, picked up a prescription, filled the car with gas, got myself a coffee (my stress relief), picked up Hannah, ran home, went to the bathroom, picked up Arlie and headed to an appointment with her. I missed my exit on the freeway so it took an extra 15 minutes to get there. After that, we began driving home, and by this time it was after 5 and she was hungry.

And that's when I caved in to her request for Taco Time. I picked up meals for me, Arlie and Hannah, a bowl of refried beans for Hayley (soft food diet), and texted Jeff to just pick up McDonald's or something for him and Harrison because we crossed paths on my way home and their way to guitar lessons and band practice.

I had big plans for this evening. I'm on staff room duty at work, so I thought I'd bake up a storm and have a couple of different cookies, breads, brownies, etc. for everyone to enjoy tomorrow. I wanted to work out. And, of course, I had bills to pay, paperwork to do, emails to answer, Facebook to check.

Instead, after eating crappy fast food, I got a stomach ache, went upstairs and decided I'd rather be in comfortable clothes so I changed into a t-shirt and yoga pants. I walked past the mirror and noticed my 35-plus minutes of coloring my hair last night yielded less than desirable results since I could still see grey (let's be honest - WHITE) roots, decided I hated my curly hair today, and ended up spending a half hour straightening my hair. For no reason whatsoever.

I also decided I'm not baking, I'm not working out, and I'm pretty much ready for bed. I really, really don't want to go to work tomorrow. I just want to crawl under the covers and sleep till the weekend.

Maybe I'm just getting too old to work with little kids. Because they are wearing me out and my job is only part-time. Bless the souls of those, like my friend Tonya, who work full-time in special-needs classrooms. I'm not sure it's my calling. I just want to stay home, write, and get paid for it. Is that too much to ask? That, and no grey roots. And to lose fifty pounds. I know, first world problems. I'm tired.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Drama queen surgery......

This morning, bright and early, Hayley had her tonsils removed. This was her choice, but after having strep and tonsillitis for many years, she decided enough was enough and arranged to have her surgery. Since she's old enough to do that now, I didn't have much say about it, but I went along to provide support, a ride, and pay the bills.

The only thing in the world that could get Hayley up before the crack of noon had kicked in - nerves - and she was up a full hour or two before we needed to leave. Comfy clothes, check. Glasses, no contacts, check. Removal of all jewelry including heinous new gauges in her ears, check. We were off!

When we arrived for check-in and were answering questions, I noticed a bunch of stuffed animals in bags behind the receptionist. As we filled out forms, she rummaged around and produced a teddy bear, which Hayley snatched to her chest like the toddler she is. Then, she signed her own consent forms, very adult-like.

When we were taken into the pre-op room to wait, I explained how the operation would work. "They take this big fork thing and stick it down your throat and twist until your tonsils pop off." LOL! Nothing like some sick humor when the nerves are kicking in. Just one of the many services I provide! She changed into a gown, much chagrined that she couldn't keep her bra on, and struck a sexy pose, like no one else can wearing two cotton gowns with strings and a pair of grey fuzzy hospital socks.

As she bounced and twitched in anticipation, I explained that once the blue cap came out, it was all over. She said "I hope they give me morphine. I love that stuff!" Um......

The nurse arrived with the blue cap which means "mom leaves now" and she took my baby to rip out her organs.

And then I waited. And got coffee. And texted. And used my phone so much checking my email and Facebook, and taking selfies that I immediately deleted, that the battery nearly ran out and I had to go tell them that my phone might not work any more so they better send someone out to let me know when she was ready.

And then I remembered I was going to film her in case she said anything funny while coming out from anesthesia, but my phone wouldn't work any more so I decided to use her phone and they came to get me. And she didn't say anything funny at all!

Soon enough, we were headed home where I made her chocolate pudding and she went to bed. I charged my phone and set alarms for every four hours. Because I am taking no chances with this one - I WILL make sure meds are on board and on time. For the sake of all who know her and love her.

And then I made a Chinese chicken salad for Arlie's gymnastics banquet tonight, which I'm sure isn't Chinese at all. The salad, not the banquet. And I ate lunch. And I was very, very tired.

And then I walked by the bathroom mirror and saw my grey roots and thought, damn it! I have been meaning to color my hair for days now but I keep forgetting until I walk past a mirror. So, then I thought if I'm going to color my hair and have to get in the shower anyway, I might as well work out, because why waste a perfectly good shower when I could do something good for my heart first, and then I thought fuck it. I'm going to take a nap.

And that is the story of our morning. I'm going to nap while my baby naps. Great advice I got at that very same hospital when she was an infant. But only for 24 minutes because then it's time for the powerful meds who's names being with hydro and oxy. For Hayley, of course. Not me. Psh.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


I read a news story tonight about people who sent "anti-invites" to people to tell them they are NOT invited to their wedding. WTF? Have we really come to this? People need to be informed they didn't make the cut? Oh, and another new "trend" is to be on the "B" list for a wedding - meaning you ARE invited but only if someone on the "A" list cancels. Hmm. Do me a favor. If you feel the need to do this for your wedding, please don't invite me OR un-invite me. In fact, do us ALL a favor and elope. For crying out loud, it's a wedding! It's a celebration of love and the unity of two people (50% of whom will get divorced anyway, but I digress).

Weddings have really gone over the top. I blame YouTube and Pinterest. For one thing, after that couple did that awesome wedding entrance dance and posted it on YouTube, everyone tried to top it. Here is the epic wedding entrance dance: Don't even bother watching any of the others because everything else is just an imitation.

Then, there is Pinterest, where people "pin" virtual weddings that may or may not ever happen. Even I got sucked in and I'm not planning on getting married again. But I do have daughters. So I created a board, aptly titled "Someday Their Prince Will Come." And, seriously? You can find millions of things to wear, do, decorate with, and eat at your dream wedding on Pinterest. Because, of course, everything must be perfect.

But the thing is, weddings are usually far from perfect. My first wedding consisted of handmade bridesmaids dresses, a wedding dress off the "bargain" rack (but still beautiful), and food mostly prepared by my mom, served in the church basement because it was easier and cheaper than renting out a separate venue. Even though we were budget-conscious, it was still several thousand dollars. We invited everyone and I didn't make my bridesmaids pay for their own dresses (also rude!). We never got to taste the food because we were too busy talking to our guests and it rained.

My second wedding was much different! We decided, literally, two weeks before the wedding to have it the same weekend as a big family party. That way, most everyone would already be there, including the majority of our families. We paid one price for the venue, the preacher, the flowers, cake, food and hotel. It was so easy! I bought my dress for $200, the girls' bridesmaids dresses for $50 each and the flower girl dress for $30 - all off the rack at department stores. While the wedding still ran us a few thousand dollars, it was "bargain" by today's standards, and we certainly didn't have an "A" list or a "B" list. But my son's tuxedo was a men's size small and he was seven years old, we had way too much food leftover, and I got my period. Very romantic.

I get it - weddings are expensive and you can't invite everyone. Or you CAN, and adjust your show-off party. I would much rather have everyone I love invited to my wedding than have to pick and choose. If that means hearty appetizers rather than a sit-down dinner, bring it on! The more the merrier, I say, and no one is going to remember the paper lanterns, or the table favors or your vows. If it's important to you, and you can afford it, you should certainly have the wedding of your dreams. But since when is it ok to let people know they are not invited? What happened to old-fashioned etiquette?

It seems like today weddings are more about playing a game - a chance to show-off or show-up the last person - and less about the union of two people who fell in love. If I want extravagance and a big show, I can get tickets to the circus. In the meantime, I'll choose the "C" list - cut me out!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Turn in your technology!

We instituted a new rule a few weeks ago - no technology after 10 p.m. for the kids. Meaning cell phones, iPods, iPads, and laptops had to be "turned in" by 10 p.m. to a central location in the family room. At first, this new rule went over like a lead balloon. But we told the kids it was non-negotiable, and that was that. I'd been pretty tired of the kids staying up late and/or being tired all the time because they stayed up till 2 a.m. on Tumblr (Hayley), fooled around with their iPod till midnight (Arlie), FaceTimed with their friends till 11 p.m. (Harrison), or posted Facebook statuses at 1 a.m. (Hannah). Thus, the new world order. Or something.

Anyway, after all the hysterics were over, the kids got pretty good about turning stuff in, and lo and behold, without their technology to entertain them, they actually started going to bed. Sometimes even before 10 p.m.! In fact, it's not unusual to hear at least one person express their fatigue and desire to go to bed starting around 8:30 p.m. Mornings come and the kids are more chipper, get ready faster and easier, and all is now right with the world. Relatively speaking.

Sure, the kids could go back and get their technology after we're asleep. And maybe they have! But the point is, they actually self-regulate and go to bed on time now, with no argument or delays, and manage to get homework and other things done well before the 10 p.m. cutoff. And it seems like they are less "attached" to their technology than before (although, you won't find any of them without a phone in the face most evenings). Tonight, by 9:30 most of the house was off to bed, it not IN bed. I laughed that we were like old people now. Early to bed and early to rise. Hey, it's working! Try it!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Still here..........

It's been ages since I blogged, and there are a myriad of reasons for it, but here's a little catch-up:

1. Harrison was supposed to perform in the junior high talent show this evening. He was going to sing and play the guitar. Instead we spent a couple of hours in the ER, because just before we needed to leave for the show, he developed a profuse nosebleed that stopped just long enough for us to get to the school, set up the video camera, tell everyone the dramatic story of his nosebleed, and then be informed by a random teenager that he was in the bathroom and needed us NOW. His nose had started bleeding again, and just stop reading this RIGHT NOW if you are squeamish at all, or don't like blood because I'm about to get very graphic. The sink was FULL of blood. We used up a whole roll of toilet paper sopping it up. Blood was coming out both nostrils in a stream. And huge clots that resembled leeches periodically slithered out his nose. I am not squeamish, but I think I gagged a little. And, being the mom, I had to clean up the mess and take him to the ER. So, where's my trophy? After a call to the nurse line at the hospital, we were advised to take him to the ER which we did, and it was a good thing we slipped in right before the rush because if we'd had to wait three hours for them to tape together two tongue depressors and make a pincher for his nose, I'd have been pissed. But that's exactly what they did. Super high-tech, yeah? They left it on his nose for a half hour, then he sat for another half hour to make sure it wasn't bleeding again. And then they booted us to the curb. Good times. Bonus: we got Dairy Queen on the way home!

2. That was my second trip to the ER in three weeks. Hannah spent an afternoon in the ER and then a week in the "IPU" at Children's Hospital for treatment for severe anxiety. I wrote a whole blog post about it and my computer froze up and it disappeared. I was on a roll and it was a damn good blog post if I do say so myself and I could never replicate it, but suffice it to say it was an emotionally-wrenching time, exhausting and time consuming, but overall it was a good experience and helpful. I'll write more about it in another blog post, when and if I can recreate the awesomeness of the one I lost.

3. Today at work, we had a fire alarm in the middle of calendar time, which put our already-on-the-edge kids in a frenzy and set off a day of craziness, which included screaming fits, crying (not me, the kids), and ended up with some blood. Not a great day for me, very stressful, and I spent a good deal of my time thinking about another line of work. On my way home, I spotted a group of kindergarten-aged children waiting for a bus. There were about ten of them, with one teacher, and they were holding hands and standing quietly in a semi-circle. And it struck me how that would never, could never, happen with my class. They just can't do the things other kids can.  And as frustrating as that it sometimes, I have to remember that they just CAN'T and it's not always because they won't - they are just different. And my job is very, very hard and very, very exhausting.

4. We've recently instituted some technology rules in our house - everyone has to "turn in" their technology at 10 p.m. and no one sleeps with a cell phone in their room or an iPad, iPod or other gadget that is distracting to sleep. This, as you might imagine, went over like a lead balloon, but I dare say everyone is sleeping better and it's showing. Radical, eh? Yesterday I accidentally left my phone at home. I realized it just as I was exiting the neighborhood and could easily have turned around but I decided to just spend part of the day "off the grid" and see what happened. And it was kind of nice not to be bothered at work, or feel the need to check my email or Facebook at stoplights, or write a note to myself in my phone (I used a post-it note). I was really too busy to care.

5. I went out with girlfriends twice this week and it made me remember why I need to take those kinds of breaks. We all need someone to talk to. And while our lives take different directions over time, I'm grateful for those friends who are eager to catch up, even if a long time has passed. Also, a longtime friend of mine declined yet another invitation so I opened up the chance for her to put our friendship to bed and she did. Not just me, but two other friends - the four of us have been friends since our first born children were infants.   And while I understood that she chose to focus on her new-found friends, I found it sad and a bit superficial that she didn't have time in her "busy" days to catch up with old friends. Which brought me back to an old thought - we are ALL busy, and we all have to decide how to budget our time, but I really treasure the friends who are not so wrapped up in themselves or their lives, no matter how challenging, that they still see the value of hanging with old friends, even if a long time passes between visits.

6. Research shows that working out before breakfast has many benefits, and also that lack of sleep can make you "fat" by increasing levels of cortisol in your body. I've been trying to work out, but I've also been staying up way too late, so some mornings I get out of bed and squeeze in 20 min of cardio before work, and some days I sleep till the last possible minute. I'm counting on it all balancing out, but I'm no fool. I caught a glimpse of myself in a dressing-room mirror today and I decided I resemble a cake pop - all round on top perched on a stick (no, my legs are hardly "sticks" but from the side I certainly have some proportional challenges). I mean, I like cake pops,'s not all bad. But I'd rather resemble a slice of bacon - all curvy and hot. :)

7. I've been really frustrated by the cost of living lately, and the fact that we seem to run out of money between paychecks all the time, and that we live in this big metropolitan city with arts and entertainment galore and yet we can't afford it so it feel like being a kid in a candy shop with no access to the peanut butter cups. The treats are all around us, but we can't play. And it kind of pisses me off and puts me in a bad mood and makes me think how can I earn more money and could I work two jobs but then I remember I have these kids to take care of and they're kind of struggling right now, and so I need to be home as much as possible, so I can't work another job, so maybe we should just move somewhere more affordable, or somewhere where the entertainment is cheap, down-home and fun, and we could grow our own vegetables and churn our own butter and make handmade stuff and.....see how my thought process spirals? I just thought I'd treat you to it.

8. I LOVE Valentine's day, not because of the presents and chocolate but because I just love the color combo of pink, red and white. It's so cheery and fun! And I love hearts and want to plaster them everywhere. But as a holiday it kind of sucks because it's just too much pressure. Pressure if you're single and want to be dating, pressure if you're dating to get the perfect gift, pressure if you're the wife of a man who's really awesome at gift-giving but you suck at it.......or maybe that's just me. And then there are the kid gifts. Girls are so much easier - there are so many things you can give them for a Valentine's present - heart-shaped jewelry, clothing adorned with hearts......what do you get for boys? A candy bar with a heart wrapper? Yep. Boys get totally gypped on Valentine's Day. I think my kids will have to learn to love heart-shaped sugar cookies. Because I'm totally not buying into the whole commercial Valentine's day thing. Check back with me next week and see how I did. I'm such a sucker for cute.

9. I've recently been told that I set the tone for the household by my moods. And that when I'm stressed, the tension is in the air and everyone else gets tense. And that I try to control things too much. And I "freak out" when things don't go the way I want/expect them to. And while I acknowledge that most of that is probably true, I pointed out that I suffer from anxiety (as does everyone else in my family), I do the majority of the heavy lifting when it comes to parenting four teenagers, and I'm going through early menopause which, I'm sure, is playing havoc with my hormones. I take my anxiety meds every day like a good girl. So, everyone is just really lucky I don't rip off someone's head each and every day. And after the last two years I've had with my kids, I think every day that ends with all four kids alive and well is a good day. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. I remember thinking having a toddler who never slept was torture and I thought I'd die from lack of sleep. I'm laughing so hard now. Parents of kids under 13 take note: it gets SO MUCH HARDER! Your kids will turn into these really awesome beings who are talented and funny and with whom you really enjoy hanging out, but they will rip your heart to shreds in a millisecond. And don't you forget it.

10. I stayed up too late again. Story of my life.But no worries - because tomorrow I am going to rise early and work out. I will be on time to work. I will have a great day with cooperative kids who control themselves. I will come home and cook a delicious meal for my family. We will have a drama-free night and everyone will go to bed on time. I hope you enjoyed your bedtime story!