27 June 2017

Roxy

I have a bad news blog post about Roxy.

A few months ago, in early May, Roxy got really sick. We don't know exactly what happened, but she had intense, dripping-all-over-the-floor diarrhea. The vet gave us some medicine, but it made her throw up. I tried a bunch of tips I read on the American Kennel Club's website, but nothing worked. After a week or so, she stopped eating and therefore the diarrhea stopped. She started loosing weight pretty quickly, so we took her back to the vet. She couldn't figure out exactly what was wrong, but was able to rule out a few things and give us some more meds and special food to try. Roxy continued to refuse to eat and we could only get her to keep her meds down about half the time. She continued to lose weight and was pretty miserable. She looked skeletal. We were unable to figure out what was wrong, the vet did not want to put her down, and Matt felt we had reached our financial limit, so we re-surrendered her back to the shelter from where we adopted her. I asked him to call the vet to find out how Roxy was doing. They were unable to help her and had to euthanize her.

I'm really angry that our vet refused to put her down and that Roxy had to die alone in a shelter away from her pack. The only thing that ever mattered to her was her pack. I'm really thankful she's not suffering anymore.

The kids ask about her multiple times a day. Sometimes Theodore goes looking for her. It's really hard and I hate talking about it. I'm posting this here because I wanted to get it all out, though. If you know me in person, please don't ask about it. I'd rather not talk about her miserable death any longer.


22 June 2017

Stay at Home Mom/Housewife Guilt

Yesterday I really needed to do laundry and I needed it done by the end of the day (no sitting forgotten in the washer), so I tossed a load in and set an alarm on my phone.
BUZZ move it to the dryer, throw another load in the washer.
BUZZ move it to the dryer, throw another load in the washer, fold what just came out of the dryer.
BUZZ move it to the dryer, throw another load in the washer, turn on some music to distract the kids, fold what just came out of the dryer.

And as I'm chugging along, I see the huge pile of "miscellaneous" laundry - wash cloths, dish towels, a blanket someone peed on, the towel I used to clean up the mysterious liquid in the kitchen - still sitting in the corner of the laundry room, starting to stink. Crap, I need to wash that as soon as I finish the girls' laundry. Oh yeah, that reminds me, I should really wash everyone's bath towels. And sheets too. I try to stop myself from figuring out the last time I washed everyone's sheets. And the white curtains in the dining room still have a huge red stain on them from Theodore's ketchup hands. You know what? I should probably just wash all the linen in the house, really. I've never once washed the curtains in the living room and we've been living here over a year now. The blankets on the couch, the blankets I didn't wash after we got back from our camping attempt, yeah, I should basically just wash all the linen in the house.

That was yesterday. (For the record, I didn't end up washing anything outside of our clothes and some cloth diapers.) But still, one chore led to another and another and I didn't take a break until I went to Zumba and worked out for 60 minutes straight. I felt overwhelmed and I wondered how working parents handle it all. If they can do it and be gone for 40 hours a week, I should be able to stick to a laundry schedule when I'm home all day!

The laundry is just an example, but it works for any chore and any room in the house. Dishes in the sink turns to scrubbing the counters, which turns to scrubbing the cabinet doors, which turns to reorganizing the cabinets, fridge, pantry, etc. There is always something more to do and some days it feels never ending.

And then take today. I went to the YMCA this morning, then we got home and I made some lunch, put Theodore down for his nap, and now I'm blogging. When I'm done here, I'm going to go read a book until my hairstylist friend arrives to salvage Abigail's hair. (We now know that cutting hair is not Abigail's calling.) I feel so lazy, but nothing is pressing on me to be done! The kitchen is clean and the toys are still picked up from yesterday. There is just no massive mess to spiral into a million other things. Now I feel a new kind of guilt: Can a mom of three really read a book in the middle of the afternoon? Don't I have an entire house worth of linen to wash? If I have so much time on my hands, maybe I should get a job or something.

Until tomorrow, when I need to steam clean the basement carpet.


19 June 2017

7 Quick Takes Monday - With Pictures

1. I was working a blog post about how I'm sick of the "toxic chemicals will kill you" trend going on right now, but in the end, I decided it was too controversial. It feels like it's reaching a fever pitch over here in my neck of the woods. I'm more of an "everything in moderation" type mom who totally springs for McDonalds when we're running late and it's dinner time.

Music therapy runs right through dinner time. 

It seems to me like we're turning something good - health and fitness - into an idol we've begun to worship. But I don't want to make enemies right now, so I'm just going to leave it at that.

2. School is going much better after a few alterations. In fact, life in general is going much more smoothly after we got used to the schedule changes of summer vacation. I now do school with Abigail while Eleanor and Theodore are napping (we spend about 45 minutes per day on it) and I do school with Eleanor in the evening after Abigail and Theodore go to bed (she usually spends about 30-45 minutes working). I've also altered what we do a bit. Abigail loves math and hates handwriting, so I added a few pages of math per day, cut out a page of handwriting, and am trying to do more fun and easy pre-writing activities each day. I want her to keep working at it, but I don't want her to hate school. I'd love to add another 30 minutes onto Abigail's school time in the form of game-style learning, but I want to wait another week or two until we get more familiar with the routine.


3. Speaking of summer routines, in a few weeks, Abigail will start back up in equine therapy and Eleanor will take an adorable little pre-ballet class. Eleanor is old enough to find things like Abigail going horseback riding while she sits on the sidelines unfair, but she is not old enough to understand that Abigail needs that therapy. I also never want my kids to feel like Abigail gets special treatment or that they need to be "sick" to be loved, so I searched high and low until I found an affordable option that she would like. I can hardly wait until the first day of class!


4. So we attempted camping this past weekend. I worked my butt off getting everything cleaned and organized and packed up. I lugged it all out to the car only to discover that no way on God's green earth was it all going to fit in my mid-sized sedan. With Eleanor and Theodore napping and Abigail watching Goldie and Bear, I set about going through each and every container - "Do we need this campfire toaster? No, we can live without toast this weekend" - until I had pared down as much as I could. Then I started loading up the car in order importantance. The tent, sleeping bags, food tote (the pink one), and as few kitchen/eating/tent gear items as I could bring (one of the clear totes), the cooler, the clothes. I culled the camping chairs, the screen room, and about 2/3 of my kitchen stuff. I had the trunk and foot wells packed out. Blankets (ie, sleeping pads) lined the back dash and piled on my husband's lap in the passenger seat. I also had to cull the pack 'n play. Everyone told me to bring one, but I seriously couldn't make it fit and I had no idea what else to cut. I thought since Theodore is my most...follow the leader...type kid and it would be way past his bedtime, he'd crash quickly.


My hubby got home late and we showed up at the campsite at bedtime. He was in a gnarly mood (Sorry, Babe!) and setting up camp was less than pleasant. Abigail kept throwing things, like the bug spray into the (empty) fire pit, the tent stakes behind a fenced-off propane tank. Theodore kept trying to run away. Literally, toddling down the streets in his cargo shorts like the cops were after him. (No reason why the cops would be chasing Theodore.) When we finished, we took a walk around the campground, bought some firewood and filled up our water container, and returned back to our tent in time for nightfall.

Everything I was able to squeeze in sans one tarp.

We got everyone inside and ready for bed. Eleanor was happy to stay in her sleeping pad and attempt sleep, but Abigail was not. She kept getting up and trying to start something, but I do believe she would have fallen asleep if it wasn't for Theodore. He was so exhausted that he could only run screaming around the tent, dive tackling everyone in turn. He refused to be held, rocked, or walked down. And while the air outside was quite pleasant, we had almost no airflow in our tent. I was just sitting in the middle of the tent, dripping sweat as if I had just finished up an hour of un-airconditioned Zumba with three tired, irritable, non-sleeping children and nearly 11pm. "We're done. Let's go home." And we did. It still took Theodore and Abigail a good 20 minutes in the car to unwind and fall asleep.

I specifically chose a close campsite (35 mins away) so that we could rush home quickly. Because crazy storms were expected on Saturday and into Sunday, we decided to just return the next morning and pack everything up.

5. I'm really glad we gave it a shot and I did learn a ton.


Like, we need to figure out how to put up our rain fly because whatever we did here wasn't letting in any air. And if you can't get to a campsite early, bring the freaking car DVD player and let the kids watch a movie so you can set up the tent. And a pack 'n play is super essential. Which begs the question, what would I have left so it could fit? I have no idea. It makes me wonder if I simply couldn't have physically fit everything I needed in the car. Oh, I also learned that blankets don't make good sleeping pads. Lots of people suggest we camp in our backyard to get the kids used to sleeping in a tent, but to me, the idea seemed so stupid. How silly, to play with your toys inside then go outside to sleep. Plus why on earth would I sleep on the ground when my bed is a mere door away? Sleeping outside is fun when you're at a campground full of people doing it, you can smell campfires in the air, and your belly is fully of roasted marshmallows. I can let go and be sticky and sweaty and smell of sun, but not so much when I come inside my air conditioned house, walk past my mascara, and see my...outdoorsy...reflection in the mirror to pee before bed. So I'm not exactly sure what we'll do right now. Maybe we will camp in the backyard. Or maybe we'll rent a car top carrier. Or maybe we'll finally buy a minivan (I mean, three carseats in a row is crazy crowded anyway).


I don't know yet, but I'm glad we gave it a shot, I learned a lot, and I definitely plan to try it again.

6. I'm still hanging out at the gym on a regular basis. It took a while, but Theodore finally doesn't cry when I drop him off at the childcare. My girls beg to go every day, but YMCA is a mouth full, so they just make up letters. Abigail usually calls it "AWY." Sometimes she'll just look at me, "W?" Eleanor asks, "Mommy, can we go the CYA?" They have a huge space full of outdoor toys, like a play castle and a slide, plus two huge shelves full of fun toys we don't have at home. I was really worried they'd pick up colds and be sick all the time, but so far, we've only had one cold and it could have come from school.


I can carry the kids longer before I get tired and I set the weights to 100 pounds on leg day. I love the me-time, really. It's sooooo nice to do something uninterrupted for an hour straight, and the endorphins I get when I run on the treadmill leave me in a great mood all day.

7. I did move Eleanor into Theodore's room and Abigail's bad behavior has decreased significantly. Theodore and Eleanor are social butterflies who never want to be alone, but Abigail is definitely more of a loner. She retreats multiple times per day to her room, full of her favorite toys, and closes the door. She'll read books or organize ABC blocks or even just lay on her bed with her blankie. Eleanor and Theodore get along well together, but they are both keeping each other up late and night and then taking super long naps during the day. Hopefully they'll get used to each other and that will wear off. Either that or I'll just have to get used to a long nap time. Eleanor naps on our bed, otherwise they'd keep each other from napping too.

Everyone but Eleanor on Eleanor's bed
I am so surprised at how many times I shuffle kids around, it seems like every developmental age brings about a new sleeping arrangement in a new room. I would love to paint the walls something other than the brown we moved into, but mark my words, as soon as a ballet pink goes up, I'll be moving Theodore over. I try to console myself with the fact that the kids are hard on the walls right now anyway. It's better if they take it out on the hides-everything-whatever brown instead of the pretty-soft-feminine pink.

13 June 2017

Day 2

It's only Day Number Two of summer vacation, and we're already struggling over here. As in, give-up-let-the-kids-watch-tv-in-the-afternoon-again status. I was already letting them watch too much tv during the school year and I really wanted almost no television during the summer. I saw this pop up on Facebook and I fantasized for a moment that our summer plans were solely the kids riding bikes and catching fireflies.


That's totally what my summers were like as a kid, biking to "the far away" park as fast as I could in the 90 degree weather merely because I could. After Theodore, I gave up the "normal family" fantasy. I kept waiting for the day my kids would be old enough that we could let them run around during coffee and donuts after church or stay late at a family function or get themselves in and out of a car without me having to climb in the backseat or be at a store and not strapped in a stroller. After every stupid-ass comment someone passed our direction, I'd assure Matt: "Everyone else's kids are older. They just can't remember what it's like to have really little kids anymore." But Eleanor's only three now, and beyond old enough to run around with steaming hot liquids at eye-level, stay up passed her bedtime on occasion, climb in and out of her car seat and buckle the top buckle, and stay by my side at a busy store. Does your six-year-old distract you by knocking the butter dish off the counter then bolting to your room, locking the door, and squirting your lotion all over the carpet before you can unlock the door all because you turned off the tv/gave the toy she stole from her brother back to him/won't let her play on your phone? I'm guessing it's not an everyday occurrence around most houses.

What I am most surprised about is how quickly Abigail tires of what she is doing. She is done with every toy in the house by lunch time. She is done playing outside within 45 minutes. She is done with the coloring books I bought, the new game I invented, the pile of books I handed her as I walked away. She gets bored, then she starts picking fights or overreacting to what her siblings are doing. Theodore is too young yet for me to "just ignore it," and yesterday when I ignored a petty fight between the girls, it turned into an out-and-out screaming match that left my ears ringing. Abigail brings a radically different component to the table and I have no idea how to be the sole person to work with it all day long.

I have been toying for a while with the idea of moving Eleanor into Theodore's room and giving Abigail her own private space to retreat. No siblings allowed without her say-so; just Abigail with some of her favorite toys so she can be alone and regroup.

I do realize that the key to staying sane with lots of small children is to keep expectations low. The plan I mentioned earlier to strive for just five accomplishments per day is going really well. If only those five things get done, it really feels like a successful day. Goal = achieved. I actually added a "Kids Three" to my daily must-dos too: school, read books, play outside. If they can do those three things everyday, I will consider it a great summer. Although, maybe I should put "no tv" on there too. If they could go without television during the week, that would be a great summer.


I'm glad it's still working for me. The more my support systems work, the better off my whole family is.

I'm not exactly sure how summer school is going. I can tell you that my current method is too stressful for me.


I had hoped to do it with the girls during Theodore's nap, but Eleanor reverted back to napping and hasn't given it back up. So I try to squeeze school in after lunch and before naptime. The thing that makes it stressful is that both girls really need my undivided attention at the same time. There are no activities they can do purely alone for more than (literally) 1-2 minutes. I am jumping back and forth from kid to kid while the other kid just sits there and waits. Abigail uses her 60 seconds of independence to make trouble, Eleanor uses hers to complain REALLY LOUDLY. I need to work with one kid at a time until all their work is done. But then what do I do with the other kid while I'm working? I have a few ideas that I will be testing out this week. Hopefully by next week, I'll have a good schedule down.

This book combined with these sleeves are their favorite thing to do.

The good news is that the kids love doing their schoolwork, especially Eleanor, who cries when we're all done, and that's with a bunch of extra work I give her when she finishes the scheduled stuff.

This math book is so-so. It's too expensive for as regular as it is.

Yeah. Way too long of a worksheet.

The writing workbook is great! I could definitely get more out of it if I could give Abigail more attention when she's working on it.

I'll do a more comprehensive post regarding just the workbooks and activities when we've done a few weeks worth of work, so I can get a better feel for them. In the meantime, I'm identifying our weak points and working to strengthen them. Maybe by August, it'll be smooth sailing. ; )

09 June 2017

The Start of Summer

My mental state has improved quite significantly since joining the YMCA, thankfully. It was definitely what I needed - childcare, time alone, muscle definition. Plus I blasted through my weight plateau that I was stuck at for so long. I would still prefer to be a Zumba instructor, but I realize that this is the right call for us for right now. It has been quite the schedule changer, though, I used to do all my chores and whatnot in the morning, saving afternoons for my me-time, but now I'm at the gym most mornings and using afternoons to get stuff done around the house. Add into the mix the last-minute things I wanted to get done before the last day of school (finishing up the summer wardrobes, getting all the camping gear we inherited plus the stuff we've been stockpiling all washed and organized, a farewell cold from school) and I've found myself pretty busy.


 Speaking of the last day of school, it was today.

You photobomb that picture, Buddy.

I don't think Abigail understands, but I do know that she's a little burnt out from school. More and more weekends she wasn't asking to go to school and fewer and fewer weekdays did she run eagerly to the bus. I think it's the all-dayness of Kindergarten. She's tired from the demanding day by 1 or 2 o'clock. I think a summer of play with just a few hours of light academic work will be good for her little spirit.

At the last possible minute, I remembered to take a quick photo to compare with her first day picture.


I think her face has gotten a bit more mature, but really I'm amazed by how much she looks the same, compared to Eleanor, and, literally, every single one of my friends' before and afters - whose kids are all growing at a normal rate. I just looked it up, and Abigail has only gained 3lbs and grown 1" over the course of the year. It cracks me up, Girlfriend is saving me boo koo bucks on clothing and shoes.

Her teacher sent home this photo today, on her last day of school and I just teared up looking at it, Abigail with two friends from school.


Abigail choosing to hold hands. Abigail choosing to walk nicely in the halls. Abigail making friends. I love it.