Sunday, September 19, 2010


This past week was so busy that I had to cut corners somewhere. Mostly, I slept less, which was likely unfortunate for everyone around me. I ate less, too, just because I didn't have time to eat. But, mostly, I did things a little less thoroughly than I usually would. I wasn't 100% at anything. And I felt (unreasonable) guilt about it the entire time. Every second that the tv babysat my kids, every moment that I was tired and had to reread a sentence at the office, every hour that I threw things into boxes instead of sorting and packing - I feel guilty.

Instead, I need to learn from this crazy last week. I have priorities and they are the most important things. Unlike the past, when work was everything, I need to focus in other places. Maybe I could give 95% at work or something. :) Seriously, though, my kids and husband need someone kinder and more relaxed. I need to find time to grocery shop, cook, and work out. I need to keep our space usable (while, mostly, Alan keeps it clean). I need to find time for myself, to read, blog, and recharge (translation: sip my coffee instead of gulping it).

This whole idea of reprioritizing scares my husband, I suspect. He is scared not giving a 100% means I won't make enough money or that I'll laze around on the couch. But it doesn't mean that at all. It means I can focus on my family and my health (both mental and physical), instead of stressing like a crazy person.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Packing Boxes

Home Depot is one of the cheapest places to get packing boxes. Who knew? We didn't. We've never needed to pack so fast before. But since we put the house on the market on Thursday, so need to pack the *extra* stuff so that the house looks as empty as a lived in house can look, for showings to potential buyers. We rented a POD and spent yesterday boxing things up. It's hard work and requires a lot of thinking, since you still need to be able to find everything if you need it.

I am doing boxes by the room they will go to in the new house. You know, assuming there eventually is a new house. I note the room on the top and two opposite sides of the box and list the contents on one side. I'm really trying to purge whenever possible so that there's less to store and unpack. If it's over four years since we used something (about when we moved into our house), I toss (Goodwill, recycle, or garbage) unless there is an overwhelming reason not to do so. Once boxed, Alan takes the item to the POD. It's a pretty smooth process, except that Alan is also washing the house and fixing little things the whole time.

Monday, people can start peeking in our closets. I am not ready for that.


Saturday, August 21, 2010

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

I hated that book, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff. The small stuff is what causes all the problems!

So many small, but annoying, things have happened recently. It leads to stress and feeling overwhelmed.

On Monday, Loki threw up in my car. It meant a $60 seat cleaning (trust had to be done professionally) taking up my Saturday morning, pre-cleaning (outside of work hours, anyway), driving to backup sitter twice on Monday (drop off and pickup), extra laundry, and arriving late at work on my first day back from vacation.

On Tuesday, I threw up. No work for me, meaning the vacation backload is overwhleming.

Tuesday night, the mocriwave died, costing $120 bucks and Wednesday night at Walmart buying a new one. Oh, and we ate out Wednesday night, because we had no microwave and had to leave the house.

Thursday, an emergency came up at work and I was required to work overtime, even though I had to pick up Loki from daycare in 10 minutes and babysit for my sister, who was waiting at my house.

Friday, I got lost in downtown in heels and a black suit with no car (don't ask), ran late to a meeting because of it, and then found out the meeting was hours longer than expected and had to miss another important meeting.

Saturday, I spilled coffee all over a brand new $26 library book. Neither of my kids would eat the lunch I prepared (crackers and bananas and peanut butter for dipping...why the heck won't they eat that???) and my friend had a sick kid, so our coffee shop date was cut (understandably) short.

Oh, and now we have a broken microwave and a broken tv (from last month) complete with the accompanying electronic equipment and huge furniture to somehow throw out. Sigh.

See, it is the small stuff that sucks.


Friday, August 13, 2010

My Paper Rules (For Myself)

My new paper planner consists of a weekly calendar and a task list. There are details that I need to remember, but it's been almost a decade since I used a paper planner.

1. Put a box around things that need to be copied into next year's planner, like my anniversary. That way, next year, filling the repeating dates in the planner only takes a moment of flipping through 52 pages for boxed events.

2. Keep a list of dates starting August 2011, when the paper planner ends, to schedule things for next year.

3. Write am events in the top half of the day's box and pm dates in the bottom half. Makes it less likely I'll miss something.

4. Cross things out when they are done - or else!

5. On task list, make sure to put dates next to time sensitive stuff. If something is CRITICAL, also put the deadline in the calendar.


Paper Oh Paper

On Wednesday, I purchased my first paper calendar since I bought my Palm pda in 2001. For me, this is a huge deal. I loved my palm. Every date, every address, every task - all of it was in my palm. I checked it everyday. I was a law student, so I synced it to my computer on a daily basis. Finally, palm moved to all cell phones, while I was working in my law office, and I bought a palm cell.

Frankly, I hated it. I constantly found myself dialing a number while I was trying to look something up. The new desktop software would never sync perfectly with my old data (some from 2001) and much of it was lost. It only stays charged for about 9 hours. Ugh.

When I got to my new job last October, we had to use a blackberry. I like the blackberry much better, but I hate Outlook. It syncs funny to my blackberry, so that even though all the tasks are there, they are hard to find and harder to read. You can't just glance and see if a note is attached to the task. I depend on my IT department (rather than myself) to keep it syncing. And everyone at work can see my calendar. Of course, I can make all my personal stuff read private, but what a pain! The twist is that I have to use Outlook for work appointments, so I felt forced to use it for personal stuff. I am a BIG believer in one calendar, but it was becoming clear that if it had to be Outlook-based, I wasn't going to get used to it.

So I'm now a two calendar girl. If something personal is happening during the workday, it will go on my blackberry and personal calendar. That rarely happens, because I'm busy working at work. If something work-related goes beyond work hours, it goes on both calendars. Otherwise, work goes on blackberry/Outlook and personal goes on my paper calendar. Since I always have my blackberry with me, I think it'll work out. And there's just not a good handheld option. All the handhelds now just seem to be extensions of the desktop. And I want to do my calendaring at the parent-teacher conference (when the teacher asks us to bring snacks to class next week) or at the grocery store (when they are out of Tide Free and I need a note to get some on Monday) or at dinner (when a friend wants to follow-up with coffee next week).

The one caveat is that addresses are still all going in Outlook. My blackberry is with me and it does that really well.

Next blog entry: all the crap I need to remember about using a paper calendar!


Monday, August 9, 2010

Discipline in Public

I try to discipline my kids exactly the safe way in public as in private. High but reasonable expectations for behavior. Calm, clear instructions. Follow-through on reasonable consequences. But, damn, it's hard.

First of all, reasonable expectations mean that, sometimes, my kid is doing something that I allow simply because of his development, but I get looks from others. For example, in a restaurant, at some point Loki (almost 2) can get down and walk around. To be fair to others, he certainly cannot go up to people at other tables or get in the waiter's way. But he can walk near the table, after the main meal has ended, while grownups have dessert, coffee, or chit chat. Developmentally, he can only stay in the chair so long. But, and I'm guessing this is because other patrons has experienced little kids disturbing their meals and think I'll let my kids do the same, other customers seem to glare, get uncomfortable, or feel they must entertain him (which totally undermines the whole "don't go by other tables" rules). I think it's absolutely appropriate. He's not screaming, touching others, or unsafe. He can explore, but only in our little area. So I do the same as I would alone. But it's so hard when others are glaring. :/

I also use timeout. With Ander, generally people compliment me. "Such a good boy." "I can't believe he stayed in timeout and then changed the behavior, but he did." "You are so calm and patient with him." But, with Loki, people inevitably think he's too little. They either smile and tease him to cheer him up while he is in timeout (which totally undermines the timeout) or they comment how young he is (though he is almost two and has been practicing in 10 second and up intervals until, now, he knows what is expected). No matter the good result, they don't WANT him to be in trouble, so they are uncomfortable. Also, the public didn't see that I simply redirect when possible (like in situations where no one else is getting hurt and there is no danger to Loki), use tons of positive reinforcement, and don't yell at or hit my kids.

I try to make yelling are rare occurence with my children. I really do, But not yelling at other people for their reactions to my discipline techniques, which are kind, developmentally-appropriate, and, dammit, WORKING - that is a challenge.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Relaxing at Home

I seriously considered a Staycation this year. Ander has a pre-K meeting smack dab in the middle of the week we have vacation, so we'll be traveling, then home, then, presumably, traveling again. Sounds like a ton of work, really. But I know I have to leave the house to relax, because, frankly, my family does not know how to relax at home.

As soon as we exit the door, we can chat. We can sip drinks and play in shade and watch little animals scurry around. We can eat tasty food and play games.

But at home, we watch tv or play on the computer. The end. All of us, including Loki, can't seem to get unplugged. And if we unplugged for the "Staycation"? Well, I guess we'd probably die. Family of four, dead of boredom, story at 6.

I've heard tales of others who relax at home. I've heard of family dinners, glasses of wine in front of a roaring fire, and cuddles in the backyard under the stars.

Utter nonsense. Lies, I tell you! Those people make that crap up.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Personal Assistants

If you had a personal assistant, what would you have them do? I was walking this morning (a full 5K, but it was too damn hot to run) and thinking about it. I was actually thinking that I really want to start a company, sort of like a temp agency, that contracts out personal assistants by the hour.

In my dreamworld, someone would wash, fold, and put away the laundry, do the dishes every night, and take out the trash twice a week. Alan already does most of those chores, but it would be nice 1) not to have to help out and 2) to have him not busy and spending that time with the family. My personal assistant would do the grocery shopping (mostly my job), prep food for cooking, and pay the bills that need to be paid in person (like the car insurance). They would find all black velcro sneakers for my kid, book my hotels for my vacation, and do that pile of filing in my living room. They would convert the crib to a bed and bring the old playpen to goodwill. They would call the tree service and supervise while the service cut down the tree. They would plan Loki's birthday party and send out invites. And rent Ander's tux for his godmother's wedding. And bring my car to the car wash.

Won't you please send me a personal assistant? Thanks.


Monday, June 21, 2010

House Dilemmas

I really like my house. I truly do. I love the openness of the layout, the small yard, and my bathroom. It fits my personality. There are many things I'd like to change, though.

I want to plant a satsuma tree in the backyard. I want the master bath to have a shower instead of just a bath. I wish the boys had a bunk bed and the other room could function as a playroom/guest room. I want the old desktop out of the living room and to rearrange the space so that the tv goes where the fireplace currently sits. I want nice, effective shades and window treatments. I need two new lamps and a dresser in the bedroom. I need two new stools in the kitchen, as well as a nice storage piece for desk supplies (either a roll top desk or an anitque piece). We need to do something about some flooring problems (that we hope aren't foundation problems), need to deal with the siding on one side of the house, and need to buy a new front door. The bedroom and Ander's bedroom need new paint jobs. We need a new comforter set in my bedroom. In short, there's a list of improvements that would make our home perfect.


There's the commute. It's too long to get home in the afternoon. Once Ander has school events, the commute will be really crazy. Also, we really could use more space. We can deal with the space we have now, with the right storage pieces...but we don't have the right storage pieces.

So what do we do? Move? Stay? The problem is that I worry about moving because of the higher cost of a house in the city. But I don't want to make unnecessary improvements on our house if we are moving. At the same time, I really want a shower. And a tree. And a bunk bed. I feel like I'm in limbo, not spending anything on this house, thinking we need to save it all for a move that may or may not happen.

It's annoying that we only have one working bar stool. The lack of lamp on Alan's side of the bed drives me crazy. The big table in my living room shatters the peace of the room. The sunlight needs to be blocked.

I need to find patience, I guess. But if you know me, you know that's not my gift.


Saving the Earth

I do a few ecofriendly things. I use reusable bags about 90% of the time these days. When I do get plastic bags, I reuse them (mostly for stinky diapers). I try to unplug the computer at night. I turn off lights in rooms where we don't need light. I use the fancy foreverish lightbulbs.

But, really, I suck about being environmentally conscience. A lot of it is about keeping peace in my household. It doesn't mean much to my husband to recycle or unplug unused appliances, so he protests the very idea. Some of it is about time. Time is so limited around here that adding anything to my to do list sounds a bit, well, crazy.

But I keep thinking about energy, especially with the oil spill, and I realize that I need to do something. And let's face reality - it won't be giving up my 65 degree a/c setting. So I think I really will designate one of our two trash cans for recycling. Once it is full, we'll just use the other one and toss that stuff, so I don't have old food containers lying around. (My OCD is still stronger than my environmentalist calling and old trash is very OCD inducing.) Now, how to convince the hubby?


Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Summer Camp Shuffle

Wow, summer camp sure is hard work for the parents. On the plus side, Ander seems pretty happy with it. He still doesn't like getting dropped off in the morning, mostly because he prefers to sleep in and watch movies all day (a la daddy ;)), but he gets an extra 15 minutes of precious sleep in the morning. ('Course, mommy sucks at math, since his bedtime is still between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. and he doesn't get a nap at summer camp...sigh. Perhaps that explains the whiney and the stupids and the obstinates?)

But each day is different and everything is carried by my skinny, weakling of a nerdy kid. (Apologies to child-who-will-not-be-named in the future, should he ever read this, for the nerdy shout out. Surely, he will grow into a cool, strong, manly man.) (Maybe.) Lunch box, complete with two snacks, lunch, utensils, drinks, and ice packs. Ice packs that, I might note surily, have to be refrozen every night and once exploded in a sticky blue cloud in his lunch box. Backpack, with spare clothes and sunscreen every day. Water bottle, with ice. And purple lanyard for carrying it, with pink and baby blue paisleys. Yep, HIS choice.

On Mondays, he needs a bathing suit and towel, labeled with his name. He'll need it again on Wednesday, and we have to wash it in between, because he only owns one suit. It seems silly to buy two suits just to swim twice a week. Well, it SOUNDED silly until each Tuesday night, around 9 p.m., when mommy says, "oh shit! His suit is wet and dirty." {rolls eyes at own genius}

Tuesdays are field trip days. Not only does lunch need to be lighter for carrying on the bus, but he MUST wear his purple shirt, or they don't let him go. And he MUST be there on time. Note that, in my household, purple and red is an entire laundry category. If we would have skipped that batch of clothes, we cannot now.

On each Wednesday, we have to pay $5 cash pizza fee, which sucks because we get out cash on Thursdays, and never in $5 increments from the drive-though $10, $20 or $50 bills only cash machine. Plus, he needs a separate check for tuition.

Friday is sometimes, but not always, theme day. This week? Safari. What do we wear? An elephant nose? It has to be cool and comfortable, so probably a green t-shirt. Because as you know, grass is green. A+ parenting!

Alan does drop-off and pickup, added an extra special layer of fun. He forgets things and gets stressed, so while my darling husband is KING of doing the laundry and dishes (bless him...and I don't mean that sarcastically), I pack everything. I leave for work before he does, so I leave a DAILY list (sunscreen on kid, lunch from frig (dry stuff is already packed in lunch box), backpack, and water bottle) plus a daily list (swimsuit, towel, $5 cash for pizza, check for tuition). I prepack the lunch box and unpack it when he gets home. I have an area of the counter prepared for child's stuff. I am organized like crazy. Crazy? I was crazy once. And they locked me in a little rubber room. There where daily and weekly lists in that room. Daily and weekly lists make me crazy. Crazy? I was crazy once...


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sign Language

We sign a lot with Loki. The director of his preschool has two deaf children, and she clearly signs with him, too. Lately, he's been putting signs together to tell us what he wants - like little sentences. It's really nice. Even though he is talking more and more since the tubes were put in, it's much easier to communicate in sign language. I really hope we keep doing it. With Ander, we slacked off, and now he barely knows any sign language at all.

I am trying to teach Ander the fingerspelling alphabet. I figure it's a fun way to practice spelling words. Now that he is 4 (yes, 4!!!), he is starting to get the idea that letters spell words, and, even better, that only certain letters in a certain order spell words.

Now, if I could just improve hubby's communication skills! LMAO.


Monday, March 1, 2010

Down Time

I'm home sick with the flu. No doubt I'll be home tomorrow with two kids sick with the flu, but until and unless that happens, it's just me. I seriously don't know what to do with myself. My house is a mess, and I want to clean up, but I'm too sick. I run out of breath. So I'm stuck watching tv or reading. And, well, while this sounds like fun, it's actually quite sucky.

Also, I sort of really like my job {ducks and hides from the haters} and I find myself checking my blackberry every two seconds, which means I can't even sleep. I sense the vibrate from the other room!

Most people would give anything for three days off, paid, yes? I am bored out of my mind. Plus, I feel icky.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Cheapest, Simplest, Best Organizing and Time Management Thing I Ever Did

Well, besides a calendar/planner. Everyone, even a SAHM, needs a good portable calendar and to do list. But, besides having a planner (in my case, right now, my blackberry, though I am torn about whether it's the best planner for me right now), the best organizing thing I ever did was to invest in reusable shopping bags.

Invest is perhaps an inaccurate word. I gathered together all of the cheap totes that I had gotten over the years - the bag that I good at the baby expo I went to when I was pregnant, the computer logo bag my dad brought back from some conference, and a cheapo tote I bought when I used to go to Jazzercise. (Oh, how I miss Jazzercise, but I simply have no babysitter or time.) I supplemented with 100% recyclable bags from Old Navy for $0.99 each, but Wal-mart sells the same thing for $0.50 each nowadays. (Nowadays is such an old lady from South Louisiana thing to say. :))

I've explained this process before, but it's such a time saver that it is worth explaining again. Humor me...I'm a personal organization nerd.

The bags go in the trunk of my car. Actually, they hang on a special hook so they don't actually take up valuable stroller storage space. When I shop, I bring the bags and load them up as I walk through the store. One carries items that go to parts of my house other than the frig, freezer, and pantry (like toiletries, coffee supplies since coffee is keep under the kitchen window and not in the pantry, and baby wipes). Another carries pantry items. Sometimes, that takes two bags, but when it does, it's a good reminder that, perhaps, I am purchasing too much processed crap and not enough good for me stuff, like fruits and veggies. One bag is for our weekly two gallons of milk for the boys. Another carries frig/freezer stuff. Sometimes, I need two bags for that, too. I do get plastic bags on occassion, for lining small trash cans and getting rid of extra stinky diapers, by using plastic bags for the bread and the eggs, so they are obvious when unloading and don't get squished, and sometimes when I forget to bring my recycle bags into the store. {blushes} Honestly, I almost always remember the bags now, though.

When I check out, I unload one bag, then put the bag itself right in front of the stuff that I want loaded in it. Next bag, followed by the stuff I want in that bag. Then I put the next bag down, followed by the stuff, and so on. It sort of forces the cashier to load the bags just like I like them.

The bags are so much easier to carry, load into the car, and unload, so hubby doesn't need to help like he used to. 10 bags of groceries suddenly becomes 4 or 5! And, because they are sorted already, when I get home, I can ask hubby to put the milk and frig stuff away, while I unload the other two bags. It is quick and efficient. The empty bags go on my launchpad (with my purse and other essentials), to go back into my truck the next time I leave the house. A chip clip, binder clip, or other magnetic clip given out for free at some lawyer conference stays attached to the outside bag (as I store them inside of themselves) holds a grocery/shopping list to the bag.

I would say these bags easily save me a good 15 - 20 minutes per shopping trip. Also, because they make it really easy to designate what gets unloaded where, it makes it much easier to share the unloading chore, or, if I am doing it myself, unload only the important stuff (frig/freezer stuff), get the boys involved in something (a snack and a cartoon, maybe?), and then unload everything else.

These really cheap bags also come in handy for tons of other stuff. For example, on Mondays, I bring the boys each a clean blanket to preschool and I bring Loki more diapers and wipes. Cheapo bag to the rescue. I don't bring lunch daily (since I have lunch meetings or am out of the office about 3 days a week), but when I do - cheapo bag. Boys going spend the night with grandma? Cheapo bag for clothes and sippy cups. Going to a friend's potluck? Cheapo bag holds a soft drink and appetizer. If I lose one, so what? They were free or $0.50! I even use them around the house. I'll sort Ander's toys/clothes/crap into one, Loki's stuff into another, stuff that goes to the closet into another, and stuff that goes into my car into another. Then I deliver the stuff (having Ander unpack and put away his own, of course). Library books go into one bag for returns. Workout clothes go into a bag for a quick afterwork run. (Okay, that one is TOTALLY theory. Hush.)

Seriously, if you do one thing to organizing, gather up some totes and start using them for shopping and any other purpose you can think of. Then share your ideas with me. 'Cause I'm that kind of nerdy bag lady.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I Cook!

Truly, I'm a pretty decent cook. I only say that because a) my husband is constantly on a diet and some sort of weirdo fool who feels "guilty" if I cook dinner so will not eat with the family and b) my friends ALWAYS seem surprised when they taste my cook, presumably at the fact that said food is edible. I would like to cook, if someone else always cleaned up and watched the kids while I cooked and if I didn't have to eat leftovers for four days (see above, hubby who won't eat with us). I like leftovers, but four days is too much. But I actually am a decent cook.

So, tonight, I made roast and plan mashed potatoes and corn to go with it. Last night, I made teriyaki stir-fry. I make chili about once a month (served in several ways - super nachos, chili cheese toast, or tator tots with chili). If it's cold, I make chicken or beef stew. I make a mean Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, ham, roast, snap beans, sweet potato casserole, and lemon meringue pie).

But I cannot manage a good grilled chicken. It's ALWAYS too dry. And I cannot make a balsamic vinegrette achieve the creamy goodness that is restaurant dressing. If I could do that, I'd have salads everyday.

However, I can cook. You just wouldn't know it, based on my restaurant addiction (because I eat even better than I cook).


Lenten Sacrifices

So, I've been thinking and thinking about what to give up for Lent. Yes, I'm a *bad* Catholic. But I'm only *bad* in that I think the Church is wrong about birth control (particularly forms of birth control that block as prevention, as opposed to permanent and hormonal forms of birth control), gay marriage, and male-only priests. I think other ideas, like making a small Lenten sacrifice, are really good. (Aside - except for those of you ***cough***EBeth***cough*** who are giving up Facebook for Lent. You suck. :))

But what to do? I'm considering bringing lunch everyday. Eating out is expensive. Plus, I eat breakfast out, and given my medical situation (I'm on a med that requires breakfast, but I am so nauseous at breakfast time (always have been, even as a little girl) that I get sick if I eat too early or if I eat something that isn't hot. Weird, I know. So I eat breakfast out and that's not going to change. But lunch - I could pack lunch. The problem, of course, is not the temptation at lunch time, but the night before. Will I get around to cooking and packing lunch? Will it take too much time from my family? I'll still have times when I am on the road or have lunch meetings, but otherwise, I could bring lunch. Couldn't I?

Screw it. I'll just exercise four times a week. That's killer, too.


Friday, February 12, 2010

An Extra Day

Having an extra day, especially with my teenage godchild around to help with the kids, is letting me catch up on so much undone stuff. I put away remaining Christmas stuff (except a small string of outside lights that we've repurposed as Mardi Gras lights ;)). I've done the filing and throw out old boxes from my law office and done laundry and entertained children and cleaned up little piles of messes all over the house. I've worked on walking with Loki (who is ALMOST walking). I wish hubby was home, but I can't have everything that I want. :(

I wish every week was a four day week. It seems about right for humans to work 4 8-hour days, spend one day doing home-based work, one day off, and one day at church. Instead, something always get chopped. For us, it tends to be church. I struggle with faith anyway, and when Sunday rolls around, with two little kids and sleepiness and laundry to be done - we are more likely to skip that than anything. When we do go to church, we spend the whole week playing catch-up. And, really, are you more efficient on Friday? I'm not. So i propose Fridays off. It's not a lazy issue. It's a realistic, humans need more rest, exercise, and prayer/meditation issue.


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Diary of Tubes (aka...Hey Stephanie, Good Luck on Wednesday)

My friend Stephanie's twins are getting tubes on Wednesday, so I promised her a play-by-play of the surgery, since Loki is now recovering. Everyone told me the surgery was a breeze, and compared to other medical procedures, I guess it was, but Loki still seems to be suffering after effects.

On Wednesday, we got the call about the timing of the surgery. We fully expected to arrive at 5:30 a.m. Really, we were relieved about the expected early hour, as it's pretty hard to imagine a 16 month old not getting milk first thing in the morning, so the earlier the better. No one said anything about Ander not coming, but we wisely left him to spend the night with Maw Maw. (Good thing - he would not have been allowed back. And we needed two parents in back.) We were ready for 5:30 a.m. Then we got the call. "His surgery is schedueld for 8:30 a.m." Great. Whiney kid in the morning without his milk and breakfast and no chance of returning to work that day.

Thursday was not so bad with skipping breakfast though. We fed him a large supper (including cookies for dessert) the night before and told him, everytime he asks to eat, "soon, baby, soon."

They took him back and I thought it took forever. All the other parents seemed to only wait a couple of minutes. But to me, it felt like I waited and waited.

In recovery, he needed more pain medicine. His iv bled out all over Alan after they removed it. It took a while, I thought, compared to everyone else. He cried a bit, but mostly just looked miserable and coughed. They considered a breathing treatment there...and I ended up giving him one at home later.

For the past couple of days, he sleeps, wakes every four hours and cries in pain until he gets his tylenol, and smiles if he happens to wake up mid-medicine cycle. He seems, I would say, pretty darn miserable. He keeps coughing, so I'll probably have to hold him down for a couple of breathing treatments again today.

It wasn't bad, but I wish I had taken two days off of work, because it definitely wasn't the easy surgery everyone described. Apparently, the adenoid removal makes it worse. But still, he just seems so grumpy and uncomfortable.


Friday, February 5, 2010

My Black Binder

My work desk is pretty organized. It has an In box, purely for others to put unprocessed items in for me to process. I process them by dealing with the item (if it is urgent or takes less than five minutes to take care of); filing it (or at least noting the file name and date in the upper right hand corner and putting it in my File box for weekly filing)\; marking my Task list with the need to do the item and, if I have to keep the associated paper, putting it in my Task box; or putting the note on my calendar (if needed) and putting the item in my Out box. Easy peazy.

The real issure arises when I leave the office - for meetings, site visits, personal stuff I need to take care of (like depositing a travel reimbursement check) and for things that need to be done routinely for work, whether I am at the office or not. For that, I have my trusty Black Binder. (Sure, I've tried other colors. They suck, I tell...S-U-C-K, SUCK. My theory? If the binder is too exciting, I don't take it seriously.)

My black binder travels with my laptop in my laptop case. My purse carries all the little pieces of paper that actually have to end up somewhere. For example, my grocery list goes in a special pocket in my purse. A coupon or driving directions to a play might go in a special pocket in my purse. But if it is work-related or if it is personal and needs to be done sitting down at a computer, it goes in my black binder. (Everything used to go in my binder, but it's a pain to carry a binder in the grocery store.) With the advent of mobile devices for keeping track of schedules, a mobile binder for carrying papers seems important, especially if your job takes you away from the office on any sort of regular basis (as mine does about once a week) or if you have lots of personal papers to deal with (like doctor's notes and school stuff for your kids). If you stay-at-home, your binder can sit right next to your computer or, like mine, in your laptop bag.

My particular binder is a one-inch leather binder. The inside front cover has one of those pockets that people can use for business cards. Mine contains my gas card for travel in the state vehicle, a taped-on copy of the chart for figuring out comp time (because timekeeping is one of those things that has to happen for my office, whether I am in the building or not), and some business cards. Also, tucked into the front cover, is a top-spiral bound notebook, for jotting everything. I put dates and tasks in my calendar, and pull pages from the notebook and file them (say, after meetings), but mostly, I just use them as scratch/thinking pads and file them according to date once they are full. Anything that I write in them that needs follow-up is starred and check off when it is transferred to my electronic files.

The next two pages are hole-punched printouts of my weekly outlook for the pay period. I have to keep track of comp time, leave, in/out time, and what projects I work on for a weekly report, so I print these and then jots notes on them throughout the week. I don't use these pages as calendar pages, but as a journal of what I actually work on and when.

Next, I have two clear, double-sided sheets. One contains this month and next month's Outlook monthly calendar printouts (back to back). I don't rely on these for schedule, as they quickly become out-of-date, but they do give me a glance at the dates when I am doing long-range planning and my tiny blackberry screen is insufficient. The other clear sheet contains my office phone list and a map of the districts that we assist. Basically, this is the "reference" portion of my black binder. A mom of a baseball kid might have the team roster there.

I then have NOW and a LATER drop-in, plastic pockets. The NOW one holds information for whatever meetings are coming up, with the most current meeting on top. The LATER holds things I might work on outside of the office (routine reports to be done whenever I get a second, for example) but that I am taking from my Task box at work because I need to have things to do in my down time on the road.

Finally, where most people would put a legal pad (remember, I took care of that at the beginning of the binder, probably because I am left-handed), I put a printout of my weekly tasks. Again, it's a reference only, as I really rely on my Blackberry. But it helps to glance at a paper when I am deciding what to do.

I certainly don't think your binder should look like mine. It should be customized to you. But everyone should have something that works at a bit of a mobile office, even if it's just for trips to the bank.


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

I Am So Easily Annoyed

I'm actually in a relatively good mood today. I slept. I went to bed by 10:30 p.m., Loki woke for milk and cuddles at 5 a.m. but went right back to sleep, and I didn't have to get up until 6:15 a.m. That's like, well, a helluva lot of sleep! It was exciting.

Still, I find myself annoyed by all sorts of little things.

I turned in the wrong driveway when dropping Loki off at the babysitter. (Have I said THANK YOU a thousand times, Sandi? A THOUSAND.)

Loki still has spots, so even though he seems fairly healthy, he can't go to the expensive preschool that I am paying for.

I can breath better today, but still need my inhaler. I tried to stretch last night. Note: I did not walk, run, lift a weight...nada. Just stretched. It wore me out and left me breathless. So much for running a 5K in a month.

I get confused between the words breath and breathe.

The man who sat next to me at the school sign-up was a Toyota dealer. He tried to talk up his vehicles and talk down my Honda. He claims the Honda has the same pedal problem (which would suck). Then he tried to convince me that a recall is NOT an inconvenience. Just 20 minutes, he says. (Right.) (Plus, schedule the repair, getting two kids dressed and snacks and diapers loaded, stepping at the McDonald's for an emergency potty, entertaining the kids during the repair, driving home in Baton Rouge traffic...) Don't worry, he says, we have a family area for the kids to play. (Me: with M&Ms?) Him, with a perfectly serious tone: no, we're not so silly as to feed those kids candy! (Nice. So I can drag them along so you can fix your screwup but you can't handle a kid with candy. Annoying.)

The dads at the school sign-up (which my husband was supposed to take care of, but an emergency came up at work) all had the same line. "We'd rather do this, just turning in paperwork, than chaperone a field trip, so we volunteered." Lucky wives. :(

Despite doing the paperwork during all my free time last night, the school "accidentally deleted mine." They know I did it, because I have a confirmation number and printout, and they are so sorry. They redid it right there and swear I get to keep my place on the list. I'm certain I am off the list now, seeing as everyone else has a printed application in the stack.

On WJBO, Clarence Buggs was spouting crap about how gays shouldn't say they are gay. His argument? He has a RIGHT not to know, just as "they" (his word, not mine) have a right to free speech. Um, First Amendment versus your *make believe* right? Right. I've heard lots of arguments against gays in the military, and while I tend to disagree with all of them, I do not believe for one second that everyone making them is stupid. I just think people who care if someone is gay or not have a different opinion than I do. But saying you have a RIGHT to not have to know. A right to stop others from exercising free speech and their inherent Constitutional right to privacy? That is stupid. I will no longer ever listen to Clarence Buggs. I already found him annoying, but this was too much.

Also, I am annoyed at reports that a judge is racist. Not shocked, of course, but goodness...if I start to get phone calls about a racist judge, then he is pretty blatant.

Finally, I am annoyed that the barista at the coffeeshop put my granita in a paper cup, then poured it into a plastic cup. He was trying to prevent condensation near my computer (so he meant well), but wasted two cups when the drink didn't fit in the paper cup. Go green, huh?

Yep, I am annoyed. Maybe you want to stay away today? :)


Monday, February 1, 2010

In A Twisted, Nonamusing Way

The breathing treatments I am taking keep me up. Way up! I maybe slept three hours last night. I am so wired that I can't imagine sleeping anytime soon. I don't want to eat, which really sucks when I have to eat to take my meds. And, while I feel much better after taking them (translation: I can breath), I'm sure this is going to hit me like a ton of bricks sometime soon. Sigh.

In the meantime (translation: while high as a kite on these damn breathing treatments and in manic mode), I am applying (fruitlessly, I'm sure) to private schools for Ander. The thing is, I like his daycare. It has a decent pre-K program (which our local public schools don't offer) and offers extended day childcare, including all days but the state holidays that Alan and I get off anyway. Loki goes there - and I a REALLY pleased with Loki's teacher. Ander has friends there. And, for kindergarten, our public school is a) pretty good and b) FREE! Plus, it's fairly integrated (as is Ander's daycare) - something that might be hard to achieve in a private school. (Aside - Ander only seems to play with very pale white people at school and took home only two lessons from MLK Day: he was shot dead and has a big head. But I can expose him to people who aren't of the same pasty Russian ancestry as his father and keep hoping, yes?)

I'm not sure why I am applying. I think it's because I want options. But, really, can I even handle two schools at this point? What if we ever move to Baton Rouge? (None of my friends in Baton Rouge with kids in the public schools are impressed.) Then again, I don't really want to move. I'm scared of a bigger mortgage. Sure, a slightly bigger house would be nice, but seems a waste for people who don't even buy decorations for the walls. I have the same bedspread I got at my wedding, in 1996. And my walls are painted silvery gray, but we got lazy, so the ceiling is still peach. Nice, huh?

Hey, you people said you wanted me to blog more. You didn't say it had to be quality.


Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sick Kids and Working Parents

I've been at my new job since mid-October. In mid-November, Loki and I got what I assume was the flu. We were out sick for a week. Since then, Loki has had an ear infection (complete with can't-go-to-preschool fever) at LEAST one day per week. Usually, the fever lasts three days. Oh, and I currently have bronchitis. Honestly, I haven't been totally healed since my bout with the flu. It's not shocking, I guess, since when Loki is sleep, he doesn't sleep (read: we don't sleep). He has to be transported to grandma's for back-up childcare (think an extra 45 minutes on either end of the workday, after no sleep). And he has to go to the doctor (so I have to take at least a half day off). Alan does his share, driving the kids down many mornings while I take afternoon pickup and taking leave for doctor's appointment days in the morning while I take the afternoon, but it's simply not enough.

I'm new at a job, still early in the learning curve, and taking off at least once a week. I do overtime that makes sure the work gets done. My boss has a three year old and a working wife and definitely seems to understand. I still thinks it looks horrible. I can't leave the kids with a retired person, as they might get her sick. I can't leave them with a stay-at-home mom friend, as her kids might get sick. Grandma's house is truly the only option, other than taking the whole entire day off.

How do parents do this without getting fired? In such a tight job climate, I know I need to be there on time, everyday, and stay all day. But it is proving actually impossible. There have been no complaints, but it can't look good.

The tubes on Thursday better go forward (despite the MMR vaccine "reaction" consisting of blazing red polka dots from head to toe). I can handle a sick day maybe once a month (where hubby and I drive to Grandma's or split the day or whatever), but this is ridiculous!!!


Sunday, January 24, 2010

New Afternoon Routine

So, we've got mornings down. I pack our stuff the night before and leave it in the launchpad. Daddy does dressing, teeth, hair, and snack before I put the boys in the car and go to work. Lately, Loki naps during the ride and Ander and I chat until I get in heavy traffic. Then I put on the radio and we listen to NPR, so I can concentrate on the road.

But afternoons suck. I pick up the boys between one and three hours before Alan gets off of work. That means entertaining the boys, at suppertime, by myself for between an hour and three hours, plus a 45 minute ride home, doing rhyming games with Ander and chatting with Loki. I don't have a plan or routine, so it's pretty stressful. So I've decided to go all Supernanny on the boys and have a routine. They are going to hate it. :)

I've revised Ander's chore chart. The boys will now come home and have a snack (because, frankly, they are starving by 5 p.m. and can't wait for me to make supper). Then homework. Once a week or so his teacher sends a worksheet to color, but we'll do something everyday. This week, we are doing his Raising Cane's card game tomorrow (where he will pick a card and count out as many pennies as the number on the card). Tuesday, it's going to be coloring. Wednesday will be playing with the playdough kitchen. Thursday, we'll practice writing his name. And on Friday, he'll do a puzzle. The point is for it to be REALLY fun, but establish a routine. Loki will sit with his brother at the table, in his booster seat, playing with cars, or blocks, or something similiar. This will give me a chance to change clothes and unload the car.

Then the boys will have clean up chores before they can watch tv. For Loki, this means putting any blocks, etc. into a container (something he loves to do). For Ander, this means cleaning up the living room (putting toys in the rooms where they belong and putting covers in the ottoman)and his bedroom (putting toys away). It sounds overwhelming, but these areas will be pretty clean already and in no instance will I make him spend more than five minutes on each room (meaning I'll help if it takes more than five minutes). While the boys clean, I will pick up the stuff on the island, an area that drives me crazy if it isn't empty.

Finally, IF they cooperate, they will get tv (or computer time) until Daddy gets home or supper is ready, whichever is appropriate. I hate this part, but I need incentive for them to cooperate...and I need time to cook supper and unload/load the dishwasher. I've been trying to make something healthy and that takes a little time.

I hope this works. Maybe this will keep us healthier and keep my house cleaner. Maybe.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Troubled Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Teens

When you work with kids - as a teacher, a lawyer, a counselor, a doctor, or a parent - issues regarding sexual orientation and/or gender identity can arise on a regular basis.

I was a 21 year old Catholic school teacher when one of my middle schoolers came out of the closet to me. (The wonderful, sweet, and self-assured girl who gave me a heart attack over how I was handling the situation is my facebook friend. Waves, G.!) I wanted to do the right thing for her - say, by not showing shock, horror, and total lack of understanding, even if I felt shock and total lack of understanding that I desperantly hoped would not translate inaccurately as horror. I was worried about my job. My religious convictions were clear; I would support her and love her and not let the school kick her out for her sexual orientation. My financial situation was precarious. If I lost my job, I would have been in a cardboard box - or worse, living with my mom!

As a lawyer, I often represented gay or transgender kids. Obviously, without their approval, I can't discuss the specifics. But I had cross-dressing clients, quietly lesbian and in the closet clients, and kids who were beat by stepparents for being out of the closet. I had straight clients who experimented with same gender partners while in detention and got in trouble for it. (I say straight because those clients self-identify as straight and likely, in the free world, would only take opposite gender partners.) I saw sympathetic judges who understood that sexual orientation and identity issues often resulted in depression or acting out. I saw judgmental judges who practically added "gay" to the list of charges. I saw it all -and I know it's a problem.

I am bringing attention to this because I suspect that it's not on most people's radars. Lots of people think homosexuality is a sin. I guess, in a way, I'm speaking to those people. First, thoughts and feelings, particularly in juveniles, are not sins. Even if you ascribe to the belief that homosexual acts are sinful, a thought, especially a thought of a hormonal teenager, is NOT a sin. I wonder if those who categorize homosexuality as sinful can still understand that we need to serve children who are dealing with these issues, as these issues can be the catalysts for depression and other mental issues.

But I also want to address those people who are fully supportive of gay and lesbian issues. I want to give a heads' up that we often don't think about what it's like for a teenager or preteen dealing with a type of sexuality that is not considered the "norm" in our society.

I don't have solutions. I just want to raise a bit of awareness that, whether you are conservative or liberal, sexuality issues are real among the juvenile population and we need to stop ignoring them as if they are not there. I welcome suggested solutions.