Hi! I'm Lauren, and I need a Lobotomy.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

How Sweet They Are

It is not any surprise if you have read any of the past posts on this thing that K (F calls her YaYa, so that’s what she’ll be from now on) and I have been having a lot of conflicts. Every once in a while she comes up with something that makes me re-evaluate things.

I picked her up from school the other day and we stayed after a few minutes so the kids could play on the playground equipment. They LOVE to do that, as I’m sure most kids do. I was tired and so I sat down on the bench to watch.  YaYa came over and sat down next to me. We were sitting in silence until she looked around and saw a little girl in a wheelchair.

“Do you see that girl in the wheelchair?” she asked me. I braced myself, wondering what she was going to ask.

I responded with, “Yup.”

“Do you see that lady with her?” I nodded. “That’s her Mommy.”

“Oh, really?” I knew this already because I’d seen them at the school before. The little girl is a new Kindergartener.

“That girl is very lucky.” My curiosity was immediately piqued.

“Why is that?” I asked, wondering what in the heck she was going to say.

“She’s lucky because her Mommy gets to stay with her all day long at school. I wish you could stay all day long with me at school.”

Wow, I thought. I was speechless. I guess I thought she really did hate me all this time. I will hear her in her room, stomping about, yelling that she hates me; she hates my rules; she hates everything else about this house, but I guess it’s just a way for her to relieve stress. I don’t stop her. I know you have to get it out somehow. She wowed me with her ability to think beyond someone's physical characteristics. 

She really is a sweet, caring, kind person. I know that. I do. I know there are worse children out there. When we are in the thick of it and she is testing my control and I have to force her to follow my rules it’s easy to forget that we do need each other. YaYa is a much better arguer than I will ever be and I just want to give in and let her run the show, but I know I can’t. I know that I need to stay firm with the rules but it really hurts when I have to punish her. I don’t like to see her sad. I don’t like it when she yells at me.

YaYa says a lot of really mean things to me when she is mad. I try not to take it personally and I try to understand she is just testing the waters and trying to figure out her place in life. The next time we have a blow-up I will only have to remember this conversation and know that she doesn’t, in her heart, think I am ruining her life and that she really hates me.  I think that will be enough. (for now)

Monday, July 25, 2011


I had the worst glutenation (my word, but I'll let you use it, hehe) yesterday than I have had since I was told I could no longer have gluten in September of 2010. It was awful, but at least it solidified the fact that I shouldn’t eat the stuff.
Some of you know my story, some of you don’t. I am going to put it down now so that I can get back to what I really wanted to write about in the first place – which was the glutenation of 7/24/11… Be warned – this is a long one (more of a short story, to be honest).

Four years ago, it must have been May, 2006, I woke up with my feet feeling really funny. They were sore and itchy. I looked at them for a long time, trying to figure out what was going on. They were red and swollen but I couldn’t see anything that would have caused it. I did the famous WebMD search to try and narrow down what was going on. All that I could come up with was plantar fasciitis and some other things I don’t really remember now. Nothing really fit what I was feeling so I didn’t worry about it too much. Throughout the day things were getting worse. At the time I was working in a kids club at a health club down the street from my house and so I was on my feet the whole day. It was painful, but not the worst pain I’ve ever had. I went home that afternoon and chased my little, then 2-year old, daughter around some more. By the time I got her to bed my feet were burning. I spent more time on the internet trying to figure out what was wrong.
When I went to bed that night I tried raising my feet up on some pillows, hoping if I got them higher than my heart they wouldn’t be so swollen. It wasn’t working and I couldn’t sleep. At all. They were burning so badly by this point that I thought I was going to go crazy and saw them off with a dull spoon. I finally got out of bed and soaked some towels in cold water, put the towels in plastic bags, and wrapped the bags around my feet. That worked a little bit and I was able to get some rest. I had to re-soak the towels once during the night. I got as much sleep as is possible with plastic bags on your feet.

K woke up early, as was always the case. She was an early riser. I was not. I unwrapped my feet and noticed the swelling hadn’t gone down but they were no longer red. I jumped out of bed like I usually used to do but popped right back onto the bed. My feet hurt to stand on. I mean really hurt. I was scared to get out of bed but I had to get K out of her crib and feed her. Her bedroom was in the downstairs of the house and I winced my way there. We had breakfast and I left her to her own devises as I scoured the internet for anything that might give me an idea of what in the heck was going on.

I still had to work that morning and so K and I gathered our belongings and got in the car. I had to drive even though we lived literally a two minute walk away. It took longer to drive there than to walk. But I had to drive. I knew there was no way I was going to make it if I walked. Driving the car was almost as challenging. The car was a stick-shift and using the clutch and gas was excruciating.

My mom stopped by to visit while I had the kids outside at the playground. At this point I was shifting back and forth on my feet because I was trying to relieve one of the pressures of standing. My mom noticed something wasn’t right and she tried to tell me to go to the doctor when I was done with work. I didn’t want to go because I was still convinced it wasn’t serious. It took three more days of plastic-bag wrapped feet and no sleep before I finally had enough. I called into work because I couldn’t walk. I was crawling around on my hands and knees at home, trying to keep it together and get things done that I needed to do. I called my mom in tears and she asked me to explain everything to her again.

                “It’s burning, and swollen, and itchy and tingly.  But it’s numb at the same time. I don’t really know how to explain it. It sounds so bizarre when I say it.” I told her.

                “Hmm,” she said thoughtfully. “You should look up neuropathy. That’s what Nanny has and your symptoms sound similar. It’s the same thing your great grandfather had but they didn’t have a name for it then. He would come in crying from the fields and Nanny would rub his feet. And call your doctor. You need an appointment.”

                “Ok, fine.” I was trying to hold back my tears. I called and made an appointment for that afternoon and spent some time looking up neuropathy. It fit so well. I was so scared.

My mom came over and drove me to the doctor. He agreed it sounded like neuropathy but then told me that it was probably because of my diet and lifestyle. I was too young to have neuropathy. His implication that I wasn’t taking care of myself made me so mad. With a two-year old and a husband at war there sure wasn’t a lot of time for fast living. But whatever, Dr. He took a lot of blood and gave me a sample of Lyrica.
I took my first pill when I got home. I was waaay out of it mentally, but for the first time in four days I had none of that pain, numbness, tingling or burning, and all that other stuff I can’t describe still to this day. It was a blessed relief. The medicine worked like a dream, aside from the fact that I never really regained my mental capacity while I was on it.

I did become depressed when I had the diagnosis of neuropathy. It was like all of my hope and dreams were flushed down the toilet. I wrote a very heartbreaking email to my husband. I didn’t think we’d be able to have more children because the medication could cause serious birth defects. I wouldn’t be able to do some of things I loved, like skiing and hiking, or dancing and ice-skating. It was a lot to take in. I remember telling him to divorce me because I was defective and he shouldn’t love me anymore. I told him that many, many times after the diagnosis but he swore to me he wasn’t going anywhere.

When my test results came back in they showed that I was deficient in B12, so I endured weekly B12 shots for six months. If you have never had a B12 shot I highly recommend it. But only if you’re a masochist. They hurt like heck! And the pain lasts for a day or so and you can’t sit or lay on the area you got the shot in, or really move your limb. I also had an electromyography (EMG) but it showed that the nerves in my legs and feet were functioning properly. So, low B12 was the official diagnosis.

After six months it seemed as if everything was getting better and I was weaned off the meds. It was amazing how much clearer my brain functioning was once I was no longer on the medication. I felt like I was getting my life back. The neuropathy would flare up every couple of months or so and I would go back on the Lyrica. Things would get better and I would stop taking the meds. This cycle lasted for a couple of years. Around November of 2008 it started getting bad again and I was about to go on the meds when I found out I was pregnant with the little guy.

I was overjoyed and over scared. I was grateful that something had kept interfering with me getting to the doctor. I was terrified of going ten months without my medication. It was a pregnancy not without complications.

Brian deployed in April of that year, and not long after he left I started having major stomach pains. I was scared to death something was wrong with the baby. My mom rushed me to the hospital where, as luck would have it, I was in labor. I was only six months pregnant. They managed to get the contractions under control and did a bunch of tests. They believed I had a placental abruption, which is where part of the placenta detaches from the uterus. I was put on strict bed rest. Like, I could only lie on my left side and I could only get up to go to the bathroom and take a shower. Sitting down, of course. Thank goodness my mom and sister were able to move in and take care of K and myself. I was in the hospital at least once a week with contractions or high blood pressure. After one stay they managed to lower my blood pressure, but they lowered it to the point I passed out. I managed to stay alive, as did little guy, pshew. But all of this is another story, so I will stick to the imperative stuff.

Back to the neuropathy. I think the reason I was able to tolerate the neuropathy during the pregnancy was because I was lying down for four months.

After F was born I waited a while to go to the doctor because I was nursing and I didn’t want to make him sick. We were out to dinner for my mom’s birthday when the neuropathy symptoms shot up my left arm. I started crying. I wanted all of this to stop. I was so sick of it. After a minute I regained my composure and managed to eat like a civilized person. The next day I called my doctor.

When I went in to see my new doctor she listened very intently. It was a relief to be believed for once. My old doctor thought I was making everything up. This new doctor thought it might be MS and so I was immediately sent for an MRI and given a referral to a neurologist. MRI was negative. Every single test they gave me was negative. I had to stop nursing abruptly and F was weaned within four days so I could go back on medication.

 My neurologist was just as bad as my first doctor. By this time my brain felt like it was being zapped from the inside, as if I was standing next to an electric fence and holding on for dear life. Every sound was magnified in my head and I couldn’t stand loud noises because they sent a shockwave through my nervous system.
It was then that my neurologist decided I was suffering from anxiety. Yeah, buddy, I’m suffering from anxiety. It’s been three years and nobody has any clue what’s wrong with me. You betcha I have anxiety. But it’s this ‘situation’ that gave it to me, not the other way around. He put me on Cymbalta, which had the desired effect of making things WORSE, and I wanted to die. I wanted to give up. I went to a spouse retreat put on by the Army in January of 2010 and was not doing so good. I had to skip most of the classes to sleep and I wasn’t able to eat much so I was very weak. It was in this state that my husband’s Major saw me and decided that it was okay to get Brian home a couple of weeks early. I honestly didn’t think I was going to make it until he got home. I was in terrible condition and I needed some help.

Brian got home and went with me to my appointments. He went with me to the neurologist and decided it wasn’t me with the problem; the guy just wasn’t really listening to me. He was a migraine expert and wanted me to fit into that little box. I thought I was having a problem communicating, but even with Brian there the doctor really wasn't listening to me. I requested a transfer to University Hospital and finally, after almost three and a half years of mostly silent suffering, we were getting somewhere. I had more x-rays, blood, and genetic tests than I’d ever imagine needing. I was hopeful for once. After a few months of not know what was going on, I was beginning to lose my mind again.

My family, friends and I came up with possible auto-immune diseases and we asked my neurologist to test for them. Everything was negative. I almost wanted something horrible so that I would at least know what was wrong with me, even if it meant I was going to die next year. At least it would mean I would know what I was up against.

Lo and behold, at my September appt., with a round of negative tests once again, my dr. suggested I try gluten free. She’d been reading a lot about the damage gluten causes, and had a patient about my age with the same symptoms, and once he cut out gluten he was fixed. I was scared, frightened, angry, my emotions ran the gambit. I couldn't, at the time, live without gluten. My life was a never-ending revolving door of gluten-filled products. I immediately bought a Red Baron pepperoni pizza on my way home and proceeded to eat ¾ of it. I immediately fell into what I now call the ‘glucoma’ (gluten-induced coma - my term, aren't I clever??). I recognized it since I was now aware of it, but prior to knowing I never understood why I fell into an almost-stupor after eating a meal with gluten in it. Which was pretty much everything I ate, like I said before.

Everything made sense now. I did a lot of research on it and decided it must be what I have. Because I stopped eating gluten before they could test me, I will never know if I have true celiac. I say I do, because it’s much easier. I don’t know if this nerve pain will ever go away, but it has gotten so that I can get through the day and even walk. I started skiing again this winter, and that hadn’t been able to happen for three years. I was fired from my office job because of all of my issues, but now I have a much better one and I can make it through the day. Some days it becomes almost unbearable, and side effects from the medication (currently Neurontin) I have to take for the rest of my life can sometimes leave me unable to drive for days, but I feel like it’s so much better. I have a life back. I have MY life back. (at least the part that is salvageable when the warpath the gluten was taking on me is over)

Which brings me to yesterday, the whole point of this novel… I was glutenated. At the airport. Drat. It happened without me even knowing. I ordered an omelet with potatoes, hold the toast, not expecting the potatoes to be deep fried. I figured pan-fried, like most places make them. I had both pepperoncinis out of Brian Bloody Mary’s and when we stood up to leave the restaurant and walk him to his gate I mentioned that there must have been a lot of alcohol in those peppers. Or I got glutenated (another one of my snazzy words). I prayed I was drunk and put it out of my mind.

I got home and managed to get F into his crib before stumbling to my room. I thought the bed looked comfortable and so I lay down. Yup. It was comfortable all right. So comfortable that I passed out feeling like I weighed 1000lbs. At 11:00 AM. I couldn’t lift my head, my arms, my hands, not a thing. I was paralyzed. Kira cut her hand and I couldn’t get her a bandage. I had to have her bring me a piece of tissue and the tape so I could try and create my own. It was awful. I remembered that feeling from the night I ate the pizza, the last night I willingly ate gluten. I didn’t like it. I used to joke about what I would do if I got accidentally glutenated again; about the gluten-eating frenzy I would go on if I was afforded the opportunity. Not anymore. No more Red Baron pizza and Jimmy John’s with the bread instead of the unwich… give me a moment while I salivate over the death of ‘The List’ (and it was long. very long). I don’t EVER want to have that happen again. I don’t remember much from breakfast until 3:00PM, when I woke from my glucoma. I also happened to get glutenated at dinnertime. This time I wasn’t in the glucoma, just sicker than a dog until this afternoon. Was it worth it? Oh, heck no!!

So yeah, that list I was secretly cultivating for the next time? I’m putting it through the shredder. My intestines have healed now and I’m not going back! (that neuropathy, and everything that comes with it, though, is here to stay) I am proud of myself for saying that the era of gluten is over for me, which takes a lot of courage from a recovering glutenaholic!! Maybe there's a meeting I should be looking for somewhere...

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Flood

A toddler left alone will be rather destructive... in case you weren't aware...

My cousin came for a visit the other night. I am eternally grateful to her. And eternally grateful to the other people that break up the monotony that is my life! Thanks to all of you, you know who you are!


My cousin and I went out front for a quick break from the disorder that is the interior of my home and the screaming children that inhabit it. When we returned five minutes later (don't call cps, we were literally on the front stoop) there was an amazing amount of ingenuity that had happened. I immediately noticed that there was small chair AND a stool pulled up to the automatic water and ice dispenser in the awesome fridge we have.

I knew something was amiss and so I looked down. I noticed water. I didn't notice a whole lot and so I didn't pay much attention to the water on the floor. I went to the bathroom (TMI???) and when I came out that is when I noticed the extent of Apocalypse that played out in my kitchen. There was water from one end of the room to another.

We looked at the little guy.

"Did you do this?" my cousin asked.

"Ye-eah" the little guy said in the sweetest voice ever.

"Do you have a towel?" My cousin asked me.

I grabbed one from the dryer as all the 'dog' towels were dirty and who knows where, what with the move back from Steamboat and all...

When I came out of the laundry room I noticed everything else. The light was hitting the floor just right and you could see everything. It was everywhere. It was amazing. An inch deep in most places. Your feet sloshed through it when you tried to go anywhere.

It was a wet mess. To say the least.

I wish I had a picture. All I have is a bit of the aftermath. It was five minutes and the little guy went on a destructive war path. (see above picture - notice the wine glass? it's a necessary evil...)

It happened again today, but not quite to the same extent.

At least now I know how to use the fancy lock on the fridge!! Score one for me!!!

Acting as Single Parent

Tonight we had a blow-up of epic proportions. My little doll was kicking at me and screaming that she was going to throw hard things in my face. I took her to her room and blocked her in there with my body. We decided a few days ago to come up with some house rules and their consequences. We did it together and I felt confident that they would sink in and set a precedent as to what we expected out of each one of us as a family.

I thought it would make sense to her. We posted it on the refrigerator where she could read it whenever she got out of line and I thought we had an understanding. I'm not sure if it worked or not tonight. I like to think it had, but threatening me brought everything to a whole new level. I am proud that I stayed calm in the midst of the turmoil, but nothing I said or did managed to calm her down.

Finally, after about 15 minutes of the fracas, I managed to get her into bed when I told her I would hold her while she cried.

It is in the moment that we are in the most despair that our walls come tumbling down and we finally hear what the other person is saying. My sweet little girl finally got into bed, after telling me she was in no way going to bed again, and let me just hold her while she cried. A lot came out then. She is missing her daddy as much as I am. She is missing him more. (I am not knocking my husband, just stating my truth. I know this will change as life progresses) He is her rock and her strength in a way he will never be mine. I rely on him, but my dad is the person who talks me off of the cliff because he knows just what to say and how to say it. My mom is my best friend, but my dad is my safe harbor in the turmoil that is this life. I know that is how my husband is to my daughter. I don't know how to reassure her when she feels her life is falling apart. I don't know how to be the rock she stands on when the seas get too deep. I can only hold her and tell her I know how she feels.

I don't know if what I do is enough. In fact, I know what I do isn't enough. I don't have the strong arms that give her so much shelter when she is in despair. I don't have the deep voice that can calm her hysterical crying. All that I can do is hold her to try and shelter her from the storm of emotions she is facing.

I have a small sense of what she is feeling, and I only hope I can convey some of my remembrances to her when she misses someone. My parents divorced when I was 9 and I only got to see my dad twice a year and we only got to talk on Sundays. We lived in Germany and he stayed here in the states. I guess in a way I was lucky because I had a father figure in my step-dad to make up for it a bit. He was someone I could go to for the male companionship when I missed my dad and the strength he could provide me. I was fortunate in that I had my dad for 9 years and then my step-dad came immediately into the picture. I never missed the strength that a man could bring for the family.

I have to be both parents. I read recently about a military wife that said she never tried to pick up the place her husband left when he went to war or training. I don't understand how she felt she could only be the 'mom' and left the 'dad' figure to dissipate in the breeze and the hole that he left behind. I think you have to be both parents when you are on this journey. You have to give the love and cuddles the mom gives and be the strong one when things fall apart, like a father would do.

It's very hard. Sometimes the children resent a parent for trying to fill in where the other leaves off. Sometimes they like to feel as if the balance is still there. I think it must be hard for a parent to come home and feel left out of the decision making. I think it must be hard to be away for so long. I may get really upset at my kids, I may think things I later regret, but I am so grateful I get to be there. I am so grateful I don't miss graduations and recitals and all the other things that come in between in which you have the ability to show pride in your children.

When I have to spend an hour calming down a child who wants to physically harm me, I have to understand where they are coming from. I have been there. I know what it's like to feel all alone in this world and that your only ally is the one person who can't be there when you need them. I wish my husband were here (and not only for the help with diaper changes - peee-ew) to help me out on this roller coaster of parenting. I wish he could put his strong arms around us all and tell us everything was going to be okay. I understand why he does what he does. In the meantime I need to be strong and caring, which is a bit overwhelming at times.

I will hold my children when they cry; the despair they feel needs me to heal them. I am the only one here. I tell them they feel like their hearts are breaking. But, like a scar that needs to make extra skin to heal, their hearts are growing bigger. When the heart grows bigger, unfortunately there is more room for hurt. It's what you do with the extra space in your heart that makes you special. You can fill the space up with hate and hurt, or you could fill it with love and compassion. I prefer the later. There may be something to the world if we have the compassion to understand why people do what they do, and the understanding of what it is that causes them to do it.

I hope I can teach my children that. Despite the loneliness and despair when someone you love isn't there to hug and be with there is hope for happiness and everything good that comes from that.

Until then, I hug the tears away and hope anything I say or sing to them helps them somewhere along this journey of life.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Funk

I have to admit that I have been in a bit of a funk the last few days. I think I am starting to pull through it, though.

The low point was when I was lying on the floor in the office, completely overwhelmed. I have a house that looks like a tornado came through and I had absolutely no motivation to do anything about it or any way to coerce/force my daughter to help me. She yells at me that she’s ‘not going to help me’ and I ‘can’t make her’ over and over and over again until I want to put my hands over my ears and scream.

There are not enough mommy-breaks available in the world to compensate for the onslaught to my ears. The constant noise and yelling, and not being able to get a break from it, was wearing me out.

I felt as if nothing was going to get better. Ever. You know how you can stand on the beach, right where the waves hit the shore, and every time a wave returns to the sea some of the sand is dug up from beneath your feet and you sink a bit? (sorry for the long sentence…) I felt like that, only I was sunk so far down that I could barely breathe anymore and the waves were relentless. I was being pounded down and down and down until I didn’t know how I would ever resurface.

As I lay there, gasping for breath, about to cry, my sweet little guy ran over with his blanky and started to rub my face saying ‘Mama, Mommy’ and I had to smile a little bit. Then my phone did that little sound thingy that meant I had a notification. I peeled myself off the floor and went to look for my phone. Low and behold, I had a text message from a friend! She said she missed me, and that was a big help to my shattered mind.

For the last few weeks I have felt as if I’m on this rollercoaster ride of parenting all by myself. I know everyone has challenges in parenting, and as far as that goes I am very lucky that everyone is healthy and mostly happy. (aside from when I do that parent thing and actually MAKE them do something they don’t want to do – see above picture) I don’t want to complain, because I generally am a very strong person, however, I have been very lonely. I don’t have many friends with kids, and since I am essentially a single parent right now, I have no way of doing the things normal adult people do.

My little guy has to be in bed by six or he turns into a holy terror, which means anything that happens in the evening is pretty much out. I make exceptions, but they are very few and far between. I don’t have the energy to keep up with him if I do try and keep him up any later, which leads to him walking all over me. Normally we have to leave within fifteen minutes of getting anywhere because he has become his terror-self. It’s not fun. At all. So I get lonely. Sometimes very lonely. Sometimes lonely enough to find myself in a puddle on the floor.

I’m not very good at asking for help. I know people would be there for me if I would just reach out and ask, but my pride keeps me from the help that’s out there – only a phone call away. People tell me that they don’t know how I do what I do, what with a husband constantly deployed, or gone for training, or something for long periods of time, and raising two small children while dealing with my stinking neuropathy. But I don’t think I’m strong at all. I’m just a really good faker. I look like I have it all together, but it’s just a front. Inside I’m a wreck, constantly wondering when my carefully constructed fa├žade is going to crumble and people will see the real me. All my flaws will surface. I think, at times, I’m right on the edge of the precipice that decides whether I keep it all together or go down the cliff and crumple at the bottom. (guess my secrets out – not that it changes my ability to ask for help. yet.) I do what everyone does when faced with an obstacle – I put one foot in front of the other and plod along, even when I find my mind overcoming my abilities to stay in a straight line.

It all boils down to what I decide to let rule my life. Do I let loneliness and sadness and despair overcome the happy light I feel I have within me? I don’t think I’d like me very much if that were the case, which would lead to more bad feelings. That’s a downward spiral I don’t want to follow.

Today I feel as if the ‘real’ Lauren is coming back to me. I was worried I’d almost lost her completely yesterday. Even this morning it didn’t feel like she was very close to me, but I didn’t feel quite as bad. My hope was returning, and that’s what I really live on. It’s what keeps me able to face whatever comes next. I was afraid I’d lost my ability to hope. Without hope I really have nothing and no way to get through the day. I think that’s the same for everyone. So, hopeful Lauren is back, and hopefully I’ll be able to hold on to her this time.

In the end, I would like to thank my friends who called me Friday and Saturday, that seemed to know just when to call, just the exact moment I needed them, when I was too far gone to reach out for that help. Maybe the universe was sending some unseen, unconscious forces to them letting them know I was seriously drowning and needed them.

Maybe next time I’ll be able to ask for help. Maybe. Don’t hold your breath, though!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Breathe and Count to Ten

I need to remember to breathe and count to ten before engaging in an argument with my six year old. I will not win and she will scream and the neighbors will think I am killing her. I keep waiting for the police to show up. Maybe they will give me the lobotomy today.

Today I told her, after we had played at the park for a good forty-five minutes after school (what a nice mommy I am!), that in order to have any friends over she would have to pick up her bedroom. Being the good mom that I am I allowed her some time to play in the backyard before the rain came today thinking that she should have plenty of time to pick up her room before bed-time, and tomorrow she could have friends over again. Next thing you know, I look out in the yard and she is gone. I have a moment of panic until I hear her next door and see little brother standing at the part of the fence she goes over to get next door. Yeah, I was a little mad. The rule in our house is that you don't go anywhere, not even over the fence to the next door neighbors, without telling me (or someone who is in charge). That got her sent to her room to clean up immediately. We aren't fooling around about safety in this house.

Well, that sweet child of mine was up in her room for about ten minutes before she came out screaming and crying that it was too much of a mess and she needed help picking it up. I was in the middle of steam cleaning the play room - which I can guarantee you contained none of my mess, yet I was picking up after her. When she told me she needed help I about lost it. Perhaps if some small girl would help clean up more regularly, so that I wasn't the only one doing it day in and day out, I would be more inclined to help her. The mess in her room isn't bad, mostly costumes, books and dolls. It would be a quick job - nothing compared the 'exploded' room (which looks pretty good right now, if I can pat myself on the shoulder). I know for a fact I didn't make THAT mess, either.

What followed was twenty minutes of her writhing in agony on the floor at the bottom of the stairs screaming at me that it would 'take for hours'. I agreed with her, and told her it might take days if she didn't get up and get on it, and until then no friends, or maybe another round of grounding. Nothing was working. Then she told me that my voice sounded angry, and here is where I should have held my breath and counted to ten before saying anything... I was in the middle of trying to make mac and cheese, because I knew part of the cause of the meltdown was hunger, and I told her, "I'm sure my voice sounds angry right now. I only asked you to clean up your room. I spent two days cleaning the play room, and I know I don't make a mess in there, so am I supposed to clean up after you, little brother, and daddy? And then my stuff on top of it all? Am I your maid?" She shook her head 'no' and slunk out of the room.

A little while later - "But your voice sounds mad at me and everyone hates me!" She wailed, starting all over again. I tried to discern if something was going on at school but all I got out of her was that my voice hated her. And I didn't like her. And it wasn't fair. All of which isn't true, but as I know from experience, there is no consoling her when she gets like that. I just have to ignore it and let her get it out of her system.

I was a little smarter this time and I simply told her my voice was going to take a time-out from talking right now since it wasn't saying the nice things she wanted to hear. A lot more crying from her, but I didn't waiver, and my voice took a long time-out.

Dinner was served and everyone is going to bed early tonight. Wicked early.

They aren't always such little monsters, and I can usually pinpoint what's causing the meltdown, and it's usually just a matter of fixing the problem and everyone will calm down. When food takes longer to prepare and it's a hunger-caused meltdown, watch out, but when it's exhaustion causing them to lose it, that's a bit harder to fix, especially when they haven't had dinner yet. You have to fix one and then the other, because as it was pointed out to me tonight, 'it's just not fair to send someone to bed without dinner. That's not nice.' And she's right, it's not nice, but I sure would like to be able to do just that sometimes.

To end on a nice note, we finally uncovered the play kitchen in the playroom yesterday and found all of the food and serving utensils. When little brother saw it he immediately went to the phone that hangs up at it and called his sister at school. He babbled for a minute and then told her 'bye bye' before hanging up the phone. It was super cute. Those are the moments that make all this other harder, almost impossible sometimes, stuff worth it!

P.S. As soon as I fed them the house calmed down. And wouldn't ya know it - my darling dearest is up there right now, cleaning her room and singing. Little brother is still in bed, though...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Intruder

I have this almost irrational fear of an intruder being in my home. I know I shut and lock all the windows and doors every night. I know that I know we have an awesome alarm system and I set it every night, but sometimes I wake with an irrational fear (irrational fears is another topic for another day - I have plenty) that someone is in my house. Despite the fact that I know the dogs would alert me to someone in the house, I think there is a person lurking in the shadows, ready to hurt me and my family.

Last night I reached a new low. I went to bed early, looking to catch up on some sleep I have lost recently, and hoped a bit of extra rest would be the answer.

Around 3:30AM I woke with a start and wondered what I was doing so wide awake. I then heard a noise from downstairs that sounded like someone in the house. There was a bang, as if a door was opening and shutting, and then silence. My heart started pounding and I immediately freaked out. FYI -I go to freak out mode WAY too easily.

It took about fifteen minutes to calm down before I heard the sound again. When I tried to listen more clearly, despite my pounding heart, it sounded as if someone was scraping rocks out of my front walk way - a weird sound, but not unlike the sort of sound the guy made in Home Alone who had the shovel who turned out to be harmless but everyone thought was a murderer and grave robber. I was more afraid than Macaulay Culkin's character. And he was how old??

I peeked out of my window, looked in the direction the sound was coming, and all was going good until I saw a movement. It took everything I had not to scream the most blood-curdling scream I knew how to let out. Then... I saw the flag come waving back to me in the breeze that had picked up overnight. Yeah - I had put that flag out earlier in the day and completely forgotten about it in my terror in the dark. Go Patriotism!! Nevertheless, my heart was pounding and I could hardly breathe.

I fell back asleep as the sun was coming up. The dogs barked to be let out at their usual 5:55AM (I don't know how they time it so well!) and when I went downstairs I noticed I was completely fastidious in my locking up and alarming everything and my terror in the night was for nothing. Freak attack abated this time, but I'm sure whenever that happens again my terror will leave me as white as a well bleached sheet. Until then, if anybody wants those landscaping rocks, feel free to take them. Please just leave me a note about it so I expect you so I don't have to be so afraid. Thanks!

'The Grounding'

Well, I feel as if the infamous 'grounding' may have bought me some time. After three days of not having friends to play with, my darling dearest may have finally had it sink into her head. 'The Grounding', as we call it, has caused the little one to think twice about what she says to me and those around us and how she reacts to things she doesn't like. I realize it's only been one day since she has been 'free' but already she is behaving better and using those manners we've instilled in her since day one. Perhaps she has realized that I, mommy, 'AM THE MOST POWERFUL BEING IN THE WORLD'. [spooky voice] Haha - it will probably just teach her to be sneakier in the first place.

We had her neighbor friend over today, and when said friend started to get mad about little brother playing in the playroom with them, my sweet child calmly explained that he was allowed to play in the room because it was for both of them. There was some resistance from her friend, who is an only child and I sort of expect it from her, but they eventually figured it out. I was surprised that my rules were followed, for the most part. The most resistance was from neighbor friend, but she eventually acquiesced to my wishes and that helped immensely.

Yesterday, DD's last day of grounding, I forced her (as she would say it) to clean the room we so fondly refer to as 'the exploded room' aka the play room. It took her hours, like she had predicted (but totally avoidable if she picked up more than she played - so her fault, not mine), but eventually it was finished. I was able to vacuum the room for once and tomorrow I will steam clean it. It feels nice to have a clean main floor of the house (aside from the foreboding piles on the tables which I must deal with soon) and hopefully after we tackle the upstairs it will all be more manageable and won't cause us all to fall to tears at the mere thought of picking up.

I think the fear of being grounded again may cause her to think twice about her actions. (pray for me) At first I felt as if three days was a bit harsh for a six year old, but the recommended six minute time outs were clearly not having the effect I had hoped for. When we canceled a play date Friday evening because of 'The Grounding' she was very hurt and embarrassed. I hope this will carry through for a while and I'll be able to maintain some semblance of peace in our household. Or at least until daddy gets home and mommy gets a weekend off... yeah right! (But if I do get it there will be tiny wines for all!!!)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Boarding School: Revisited

I am seriously considering revisiting that boarding school idea I've had rolling around in my head. We had another breakdown tonight. This one involved violence. I haven't experienced that before. Today was my daughter's first day of first grade (we have year-round school here) and I should have known better than to let our neighbor come over because my daughter would be tired, but I allowed it because they have so much fun together. The girls were making up a game, playing nicely together, and the little guy was running around crying (screaming, really) because he was hungry, tired, and he's been sick for the last couple of days. I was losing my mind because loud noises send shock-waves through my nervous system and the sound in the house was an almost unbearable level. When the little guy tried to get in on the game they were playing, my darling daughter screamed at him to get away from her. I had enough at that point and asked her to pick up the game (and the non-washable markers they were using to colour it with) when s**t hit the fan.

Being the sweet girl that she is, that little girl screamed at me that she wasn't going to do it and she didn't have to. I asked her again, and when she refused to pick everything up I told her to go to her room. If I thought the poop hit the fan before I was sorely mistaken. I didn't know the poop could fly as far as it did when it hit it the second time. I again told her to go to her room because she needed a break. She promptly backed herself into a corner, yelling at screaming at me that she hated me. When I went to grab her to remove her to her room she pulled a wrestling move of some sort and managed to get past me.

It was at that moment that I regretted this open floor plan that we have. She ran all around the house but managed to get stuck in the laundry room. I was trying to carry her up the stairs when she wrapped her scrawny, yet surprisingly powerful little legs around the rungs. I managed to pull her up the stairs, she was hanging on for dear life the whole way, and get her to her room.

Then the poop started flying at a completely new level... When I tried to leave the room things started flying at me. Literally. When I felt the shoe hit me that was it. I shut her in the room, holding the door shut to keep her from escaping. She told me she wasn't going to stop throwing things until I let her out. When she was younger I had to turn the lock around to keep her in there. I won't do that now, because she no longer needs to be locked in for her own safety at night, but gosh darn it, I sure want to!

After about twenty minutes she calmed down, and until I put her to bed she was calm in there, perhaps realizing why she was in there, and the rest of the evening progressed smoothly. I've decided instead of sending her away to a reform school, which would be the easiest choice, we are going to do some counseling. I hope that living in a military community, where people are experienced with deployments and the fallout left on the young children, that we will be able to get her some help. Until then she is grounded until Sunday. This will be WAY harder on me than it is on her.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Entertain Me. NOW!

I have a little girl who needs to be constantly entertained. If we aren’t in the thick of utter action, always, all the time, every second of every day, she is pouty and angry and not fun to be around. If she doesn’t have something to do or someone to play with every moment she is awake she will throw a fit, be rude, and generally be unpleasant. We have tried to explain to her that we don’t need to be busy at every moment; that sometimes it’s nice to just sit around and do nothing or not have a plan of action every day, but it just isn’t sinking into that pretty little head of hers, which is not so pretty with her lips puckered into a frown-y pout with her eyebrows furrowed. We have tried begging and pleading with her. We have tried threatening her. We have screamed and stomped our own feet out of sheer frustration. None of it seems to work. I hope this is just a phase and she’ll grow out of it, but I’m worried she will grow up to be one of those angry, bitter adults that nothing will please and are absolutely rotten to be around. I hope with the right guidance she won’t become one of those. It’s very difficult for me to understand because I was, and always have been, a very laid-back, go with the flow kind of person. Gah. Double Gah. I guess I just have to keep pushing through, knowing I am not the first parent to deal with this sort of stuff. Let’s pray little brother doesn’t follow in her footsteps!

P.S... I purposefully made run-on sentences in this post. And no, I'm not correcting them. I was mad! I ramble when I'm mad. Deal with it! ;o)