Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Teenagers Already?

I sent the kids upstairs to get their pajamas on for bed. Brandon's fine, but despite her recent streak of independence, Caitlin still can't get her nighttime diaper on by herself. A few minutes later, I went upstairs to help Caitlin. I was met by two closed doors and two kids demanding "privacy". Excuse me? Last time I looked, I had a 5 1/2 year old and a 3 year old. Not two teenagers!

On Connecting (or Not)

I've had it.

Moving to Colorado was hard. Much harder than I expected. Especially coming from the fact that I moved many times as a child, and switched schools more times than I moved. But here's the deal - when I moved as a child I always had to go to school. When you go to school you are thrown in with a bunch of people your same age who are generally in the same place in life. *Eventually* just about everyone makes friends. The last time I moved was in college. It's different than grade school, but I was still thrown in with other students. I made a few friends; people I could talk to.

What I've found in regular, non-school life is that even when you are with people who are generally your age, even when their life is similar to yours (say you both have kids, or your a couple, or you had similar jobs), it seems like no one is ever in the same place. Women I meet here who have kids around the same age are usually much younger than me. Granted, sometimes age makes no difference at all, but a good chunk of the time it becomes very obvious that we have nothing in common. Most of the women I meet here who are my age have teenagers. Again, in most of the instances, we have very little in common. I've noticed two trends in women my age with teenagers - they got married young and never did anything (college, job, supporting themselves, travel, etc), or they got married young to someone very rich (doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs), and can't relate to me directly, or the lives of the middle class. On top of it all, people here are different. It's hard to explain, but it's just different. Or maybe California was different (thus making me different), and I'm just use to that!

I give up. I've grown use to being alone with my kids. Sometime my husband is the only adult conversation I have all day.

I've tried too hard to find community here, and I'm done trying. I'm still open to friendships. I still want friendships. I really want Christian community. But I'm done putting myself out on the line; done opening up and being vulnerable to the wrong people. I'm still so scarred from my first women's bible study small group with my lovely leaders at CBC that I am considering going to another woman's group next year, at a different church, just to get away from the jumpy feeling I have when I'm there. Just seeing former small group leader #1 at church makes me put up my defenses and want to run. #2 is not as bad, although I get so tired of hearing her talk and talk I could just scream (I was not happy to hear that she was going to be part of the duo that runs the women's group starting last fall).

I cannot open myself up to these women anymore. I cannot be told about my supposed anger and emotional issues anymore. We were all encouraged to share what was on our hearts. We were assured that this was a safe enviroment, and that our shared items would be lovingly kept within the group. I didn't think I shared too much, but, obviously I shared too soon. The leaders have made me feel like I'm some sort of unstable person, and I know I'm not. Last year was the first time I *ever* ever opened up about having chronic fatigue and all the issues that surround it and about my PPD. I was hoping for an environment in which I could be loved and supported. I mean, I'm in Bible Study - a nice, Christian environment! Instead of support, I got harsh criticism with a smile. I was made to feel like a fool not only for sharing what I shared, but for even having what I have. We are a group of women here! Every time I hear about PPD, I also hear about how we women are suppose to support each other. I'm a little upset that this is what I've gotten by sharing. And while I think the PPD is gone (there are times I'm not so sure), the chronic fatigue is here to stay. I've dealt with it for over 20 years now and learned to live my life around it. It sometimes requires a lot from me to come off as a normal person without physical issues, but I've learned to hide it and to cope. It seems to be getting worse since we moved here - the fatigue, the inability to sleep, the pain. In some ways it's easier to deal with being a SAHM instead of an office worker, but the kids do wear me out more than I expected.

My Thursday morning MOPS group has been another area in my life that I'm quietly trying to forget. I attend MOPS at CBC, but I do finances for MOPS at another church. I liked the Thursday morning MOPS group when I first went. People were warm and friendly. There were women my age, with kids my age (shocker!). Some had even had similar life experiences. They'd worked. They'd traveled. This looked like a place I could relate, and a place I could start to build community. But something changed after I joined. Those same women from last year aren't there this year (or not there as often). The Thursday morning MOPS group has really gotten to me. We had a retreat not long after I joined, and I became sort of sad during that retreat that I'd joined, but continued on. A few other instances lead me to question why I joined at all. Still, I made a commitment and I had to stick to it for another year. I almost forgot to write about how aggravating the Thursday morning MOPS group is because I have been so elated that I'm not going next year!

I joined the group for connections and friendships, but nothing clicked. I'm so busy at meetings that I don't even enjoy them, and connecting has all but fallen to the wayside. One mom, who I was getting to know, made it very clear with a few well-placed comments that getting together this year wasn't really going to happen. One conversation we had went something like this:

Her - "What are you doing next week?"
I'd give her my open dates (of which there were many), she'd think about it, and say "Okay, see you in two weeks!" (the next MOPS meeting).

A few other comments about how she'd never meet kids who whined as much as mine (quoted verbatim) or were as ill-behaved, were just enough for me to think that maybe this budding friendship needed a break. Her life seems too busy to fit anyone new. It's kind of sad, though, as Brandon really likes her son. One of the co-coordinators is rude and pushy, as is her best friend (who, incidentally, is also on steering). The decision to quit was an easy one. Caitlin will have preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays next year, and I'm not giving up my free time easily! I'll have 8 hours a week to myself, for the first time in 6 years! That was not the reason I used when I gave notice to the Thusday morning MOPS team (although my excuse was legit). However, that reason coupled with really *not* loving the group, are the real reasons I'm leaving. My guilt about leaving so soon was assuaged a few weeks ago when someone else stepped up to do finances. Yeah! Now I have no guilt about leaving!

As far as the rest of my life, outside of church, a few connections are emerging. We're still more in the acquaintance stage, but we have learned to lean on each other for kid support since most of us have no family near by. I don't know what these connections will bring, but I feel like I'm moving farther along with them than with anyone at church or in a Christian-based group. I thought that as a Christian I was suppose to have fellowship with God's people. Be in community. That's where the majority of my friendships were back in California. It's been more than a little disheartening to find that almost no one from my church lives anywhere near me, and that community with others from my church don't seem possible. This might be why many people don't like being part of a church. There is a part of me that understands that, but I continue to move forward. There is the simple fact that all people are God's people, and maybe I shouldn't look at Christians to be my friends first.

Okay, God, lesson learned. Please keep opening the doors. I feel like I opened a few door prematurely, and I've had to slam them closed for my own sanity! I'll wait this time.

Monday, March 30, 2009

My Life at the Table

I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't really matter how big of a house you have. When you are the parent of young children, they will do their best to be where ever you are.

Case in point.........

Friday, March 27, 2009

"I shore do!"

Lately, whenever we ask Caitlin if she wants something, her response is (written phonetically) "I shore do!". Where is she from? The deep south?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Battening Down the Hatches

There is a winter storm warning out for most of Colorado, including the areas we live in. We haven't had snow, or any type of moisture, for months now. This winter is the second driest in Colorado's history since they began to track these things. It's been horribly windy all winter. Grasses and trees are so dry that a spark could set off a fire. Trees are starting to bud, and we're all watering our dormant grass because it looks like we have lawns made of straw (and we're all tracking it inside, too). A spring blizzard would be welcomed by just about everyone here.

I'm not at all worried about the snow. After all, it is Colorado snow, which at it's heaviest, is lighter and fluffier than California snow. And, we don't live in the Rockies, so whatever amount we get won't be as bad as say, Vail or Aspen. However, tonight I found myself checking our pantry and refrigerator to make sure we have enough food and milk. Going out tomorrow might be rough. I'm making mental notes about clothing and blankets, even though we have a well insulated house. I'm doing a double take on where the snow bibs and snow boots are, since kids are attracted to snow in the same way that magnets are attracted to refrigerators. Even Brian plans on working from home tomorrow to avoid driving in the crazy traffic that snow like this creates. It feels a little odd to be doing this, being as we don't live in the country. There is store only half a mile away. On top of it all, I'm a stock up shopper, so we could live for a month on the food we have. We might not like our meals, but we would most certainly not go hungry! And, this storm is only suppose to be over us today. Tomorrow should be clear. But here I am anyway - checking to food. Closing the drapes for warmth. Making mental notes. Is that the mother in me, or do most people do this?

I'm anticipating good snow tomorrow. I'm hoping for it. I'm not going out unless I need to. My part of Colorado thinks that the sun will melt the snow on roads, so the plowing is pretty abysmal. They only do the main roads in town . You know - the ones that no one actually live on. The sun doesn't do a great job melting the snow when it can't get through the clouds.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fifth and Bladder

An intersection in a city? A country road crossing? Alas, no. Just the diagnosis from the pediatrician this morning as to why Caitlin is covered in a blotchy rash and why she cries whenever she urinates.

Yesterday morning Caitlin woke up with one very bright red cheek. I thought she'd been sleeping on it, and didn't pay much attention to it until a few hours later when I noticed that the redness hadn't gone away. Later, after her afternoon nap, I noticed she had a bright red rash on her hand and up her arm. It was a little worrisome, but she wasn't itchy and the rash wasn't bothering her at all. In the middle of the afternoon, however, she started crying and telling me her bottom hurt. Of course, she had the same bright red rash all over her rear. She recently got over a bad strep-caused diaper rash. That rash looked like bad acne - full of blisters and pustules that would break open, leaving an exposed wound. It hurt a lot, and only cleared up after she was put on a round of antibiotics. Even after the worst of the diaper rash had cleared, her bottom was still red, dry, and hurt a lot. I bought some Arbonne baby body oil, which I'd heard amazing things about, and that seemed to help. Caitlin kept begging for the oil on Monday, so I'd put in on her rear, but it didn't help this time. She started peeing through her outfits. It took two times of her doing this for me to figure out she was having urination issues (she's in diapers for a couple days now), and that's when she was crying out that her bottom hurt. She's done this before, but last time we knew that it really was her bottom. And when we put on the oil, she stopped crying. This time, though, the crying got worse, and she'd even cry out in her sleep. It was a long night.

This morning - two bright red cheeks! However, one looked like a hollow rash, meaning that the middle part was less red than the outside. On top of that, rashes down both arms and both legs, and more crying while peeing. I made an appointment at the pediatric office this morning and they managed to get us in at 10:30. Not only does Caitlin have a urinary tract infection, but she also has Fifth Disease. Lovely. But at least we know now. The nurse and doctor initially thought she had hives, but ruled that out since the rash wasn't itchy. The nice thing is she isn't contagious anymore. Because the rash of Fifth Disease is due to an immune reaction that occurs after the infection has passed, a child is usually not contagious once the rash appears. I'll just keep her away from any pregnant women! Caitlin was contagious last week, but I had no idea. She had a few sniffles, but no fever. Cold-like symptoms are the precursor of Fifth Disease. She's had sniffles for weeks now - we all have - so I had no idea she had anything more than the aftermath of the common cold. Oops! I hope she didn't infect anyone. Caitlin was begging to use the bathroom once we got to the pediatrician's office. I thought it might be good to get a urine sample from her before our appointment. I'm glad I did, since they needed it to run some tests. Her urine even looked strange. I wonder how long this has been going on. I had no idea until she told me it hurt!

So now Caitlin is on another round of antibiotics to nip this infection before it gets worse. After a long talk with the pharmacist after one of Caitlins' crying while peeing episodes, she's also on Azo for a couple of days. While the antibiotic will kill to bacteria causing the UTI, the Azo acts quickly to quell the pain. It's a good thing, but it also turns her urine bright orange! The pharmacist said he's given it to his six-year old son, and he thought it was cool. I find it annoying, but then again, I'm not six! We should hear back about the test results in a couple of days, at which point I'll find out if we need to change her medication. When we're done with the meds, she'll need to do some lab work to make sure she's really clear of infection. UTI's can move into the kidney quite quickly, which wouldn't be good for her little body.

Poor girl! This is her third round of antibiotics since late January! She had one round for her strep diaper rash, another one for her ear infection, and now this! I'll be very happy when she's off the meds. I have nothing against them, but I still don't like it when my kids have to be on them. And, antibiotics are such a touchy subject that some practitioners in this area don't even like to prescribe them.

The odd thing we've noticed about Caitlin during these times of pain? She immediately wants to go to the doctor to make her feel better. She thinks the doctor can cure it all. She believes the same thing about band aids, too. While I don't want her to think that doctors know it all and can cure it all, this may be the start of a healthy attitude towards health care professionals.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Brandon the Sensitive

It's been an interesting past few weeks. Something's off, and I don't know what it is. How it manifests itself, however, is in Brandon crying. A lot. More than I think I can handle. He is set off by just about everything, too. Caitlin. Me. Having to read a book (and the boy loves to read). Having to get dressed. For example, if we are joking together, he may decide a few minutes into it that he no longer wants to participate. Instead of telling me that, he just starts crying. Sometimes it's sobbing, and sometimes it's crying and screaming as if he fell off his scooter directly on to cement. I just can't tell anymore. This happens multiple times a day, anywhere, for any reason, and is not easily stopped. It's like trying to cork a volcano.

Can you tell that I'm frustrated?

I've searched our lives over and over again, and I haven't come to any conclusions. On an average day he gets up around 8:30 and goes to bed around 8:30. He's in school for about 3 hours, and gets to play outside after school with friends for half an hour or so if it's not freezing, snowing, or windy. He gets social time at church anywhere from 2-3 days a week for a couple of hours, and time with friends on Sunday evenings during our life group. He eats pretty good. I've switched the kids to whole grain breads and sugar-free organic peanut butter for breakfast, so they're getting proteins. Lunch is tricky - it's sandwiches in the car on the way to school when we have mornings away from home. On home days Brandon doesn't usually get lunch, per say, so I give him more wholesome, filling snacks - grains, fruits, yogurts, nuts. He *loves* plain yogurt with honey, stevia, and flax seed/blueberry granola. I go out of my way to get him whole milk yogurts and granola products that are good for him. The one area I'd like him to just grow out of is his pasta obsession. The boy could eat carbs all day with almost no proteins. He's practically a vegetarian, but I make him eat chicken since he doesn't eat enough vegetable proteins. The kids love edamame, so at least there's some protein there.

I'm at a loss. When I'm hard on him he cries - hard. That said, I can't always be the soft mom - the one who gives in. We mothers have it hard in this area. We are trying to raise our children the best we can. We are constantly seeking solutions that work not just for the short-term, but for the long-term as well. If I don't keep my word, he knows I'm a pushover. If I do what I said I would do, the flood of tears and emotions starts again. It's nerve wracking for me, and puts me in this constant heightened state, trying to stay one step ahead of him so that he doesn't have a complete breakdown at the store, on the playground, or as we're about to leave for school. I'm exhausted and done around 6:00, and our evening is just ramping up around that time! I don't know if Brandon's trying to wear me down, or he's just a sensitive, emotional guy. Time and again he's proven himself to be on the more sensitive side, but this time it's getting to me. Parenting under this constant state of stress is not working.

I've taken a few informal polls about other kid's bedtimes. We seem to all do it around the same time. I'm paying attention to him. He's eating well. What am I forgetting?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Cleaning Mode

Last week I left a porch full of stuff for the VVA to pick up. The VVA is the organization that sends postcards to your house saying they'll pick up your charitable goods and leave you a receipt. I don't know much about them except that they are legitimate, but they did come, as promised and picked up all my things. I've been in "spring cleaning" mode, if you can call it that, for a few weeks now. We seem to be drowning in an ever-present sea of clothing and toys that no one is using. I have a fantasy of living in a sparsely decorated room with just the furniture we need. However, deep down inside, I know that I like cozy. And sparsely decorated rooms are the opposite - sterile. Still, I'm tired of the excess. I'm tired of picking it up, stepping over it, or shoving it in the corner. I just want it gone! I've cleaned out the floor of my closet, the drawers in Caitlin's room, and the basement closet. All her size 2T clothes have gone to an old neighbor whose daughter is a year younger, a few still nice baby items have gone to another friend with a 1 year old, and the rest have gone to charity. I just can't toss it into the landfill if it's still good. I'm still in the process of weeding through our exorbitant supply of books and getting rid of the baby books that the kids have outgrown. That one takes longer, as Brandon is now able to read most of those books now.

I'm trying to teach the kids how to go through their things and make decision for themselves about the items they no longer play with. It's hard at their ages, since *everything* seems important. We can't be sentimental about everything, though. I find it's easier for them to part with their dearly beloved items when they know the recipient. "Baby Timothy" is a friend's 16 month old child who has received many fun toys from the kids. They like to pass these things on to him. Caitlin is happy that another little girl gets her clothes, since she's 3 and no longer fits into her size 2 baby clothes. Everyone younger than them is a baby, regardless of the age difference. If that's what they need to believe to part with their things, so be it.

Now, if I can only move past this stage. I don't mind getting rid of stuff, but my need for neatness and organization can consume me. Sometimes being a stay-at-home mom can be a little mind-numbing, and I think this is just my brain crying out for a little stimulation. I'm busy, but it's just busy-work. A little personal interaction might slow the organizational habit for a while, but that has been the hardest to come by since our move.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Questions Keep Getting Weirder

Today Brandon asked me if people are meat.

Well, yes and no. We are made of flesh, but we don't eat people, and ....

Wait! Why are you asking me this?

Snow

It snowed last night. I noticed it when I woke up at 3:30. The glow outside our windows, even with the shades and curtains drawn, is hard not notice. I love the snow. I wish we got more of it. I wish it stayed a little longer It blankets my world, quiets my mind, and makes winter in Colorado a much more likeable season instead of a time of sheer emptiness and bleakness.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Report Card

Brandon brought his second trimester report card home today. He has had great progress this trimester, and ranges between proficient and advanced achievement. He loves to read, do math, and study science. It makes me glad that we listened to what our hearts and heads were telling us about Brandon and went ahead and put him into kindergarten this year. He is the youngest in his class, but he's keeping up, and even in excelling, in the same class with kids who range from his age to a year and a half older than him. I have no issues with parents holding their kids back a grade, but I think their reasons should be based on their own child's educational, social and/or emotional maturity and not be solely dependent on age.

One comment in his report card did stand out though. Brandon's PE teacher said "I appreciate Brandon's serious effort." I'm still confused. What does this mean? Does he do well in PE? Is there something we need to work on? Is he getting an "A" for his effort, or an "E" for his effort? Is that the only thing his teacher could think of to say? Do need to prepare ourselves for the emotional angst of having a child who's always picked last for the team? I just don't know.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

We're Still Here!

I haven't really been into blogging lately. I've had a few ideas bouncing around in my head, but nothing cohesive enough to post. Instead, I'll give you the un-blogged, but blogworthy, updates so you know what we've been up to:

*Caitlin got into the preschool we wanted. We were pretty sure it would happen, but we've received confirmation. I can't wait! She is a very attention-hungry child, and I'm sure that preschool will help with that. I also can't wait for few free hours to myself each week. I'll be able to leave the house. Alone. After 6 years. Whatever will I do with myself?

*We had our second parent-teacher meeting for Brandon a week or so ago. He's doing very well at school. His reading has improved. His writing still hasn't. He loves numbers. All in all, it was a positive review. He still has issues with paying attention, and loves to carry on little whispering conversations with friends while his teacher is talking. Wonder where he got that from? Hmmmm...... The conference was student led, so we dropped Caitlin off at a friends house and spend 45 minutes with Brandon as he showed us his artwork, his photos, and his writers workshop papers. It's amazing that he gets so much done in a short 3 hours every day.

*We're all suffering from colds at home. Nothing horrible, but enough for the kids to have runny noses and coughs, and give me a daily, all day headache that only goes away with medication. I've taken more Advil since I moved here than in the several years prior to moving. It's a little worrisome to me that I'm close to emptying my 3rd Costco bottle in a year and a half. But I always seem to hurt!

*Caitlin is over her ear infection, which kept her up nights, and we are thankful!

*Our Life-Group is going well. We are in a group with three other couples with kids, and meet on Sunday evenings in a nearby house. Although it makes Sunday feel very crammed, we look forward to it every week. The kids love playing with the other kids. Brandon's the only boy over the age of one, so he gets lots of girl time. He's adaptable. No worries there!

*Some days I feel like I'm making headway on having a group of acquaintances around here. It's a good thing. Odd, after having being alone with my kids for almost 2 years, but good. And its' good for the kids to hang out with other kids. Even Caitlin's made a few friends. She's very social.