Tears and a goodbye

Todd just called.  Lisa Kelly at Clusterfook passed away last night.   I had no idea how I would feel when (and, in my mind, if – since I kept holding out hope that she would be the survivor again)… she passed.  For more than a year I’ve read her blog, cheering for her and praying that she would fight off the cancer this third time, so she could be there for her children as they grew up.

When Todd called me it woke me up from the first stages of sleep and it took me a moment.  I knew instantly when he asked me if I’d heard the news…  I’d felt it all day on Friday, that sense that she would shortly be at peace.  Still…  it took a moment for it to hit me.  Maybe it’s because she was a mom.  That keeps running through my mind and each time it starts the tears fresh for her girls.

And Dude.  Her husband… having to make arrangements… think about practical things in the face of losing his wife.

I can’t imagine how lost he must feel – coupled with the feeling that she is finally free of the pain, the fear, the anger and the sorrow.

My heart aches for her family.

Goodbye, Lisa.  Thank you for sharing your journey’s end with us.



Saturday morning miracle and other thoughts

The boys let me sleep in until 8am.  This is huge!  Aidan has slept that long, at least through the morning, since he was born.  This is the kind of thing I expected in 6 months to a year from now.  WAHOO!!

I think I got about 8-9 hours of sleep.  Ahhh… nice…

So it’s a cold Saturday morning here.  Briefly, this past week, we had weather that was very close to spring-like.  Then it shifted back to yucky cold.  Blech.  I am hoping we’ll see some of those warmer temps this weekend.  I want to take the boys to the park since we’re all feeling a bit housebound and we’ve all got this stupid cold thing going on.


Diaper-changing event.

It interrupted my chain of thought.

While I was upstairs I got caught up in the laundry for a bit.  Now that is NOT something I ever thought I’d write.  A couple years ago I noticed that I became…. oh boy, I can’t believe I’m going to write this… I became a “habitual organizer”.  Not in a big, comprehensive way… no, that’d be more than my erratic brain could handle.  But I got so that I had to pick up clutter, streamline the process for getting laundry done, and get into a routine with the other housework.

I’m not always like this.  The more other stuff I have to do – work (x2), school, kids stuff… the more it tends to be sporadic (until we get to Saturday mornings).  If I’m sick?  Forget it.  And that’s why we’re behind on the laundry right now…  I have been sick.  The house is a mess – we’re out of groceries – the downstairs is cluttered and the dishes have decided to collect (not many, thanks to Todd… but enough that I don’t want to deal with them).

I wish I had a magic wand that I could wave.  Or maybe a nose wiggle?  I could get everything clean and tidy in a moment, then get showered and head off to the grocery store.


No.  Instead, I will figure out a way to get some of it done before the Mie Mie family comes over for fun.  I’ll drive Bren off to his friend’s house around 11:15, then get back here and finish tidying downstairs (or at least getting Todd to do some of it).  I’ll leave here at 12:15 to get the family, bring them back here and keep them all occupied while we order in the pizza and work on English with Mie Mie.  The kids can play with the Wii or watch movies or play games…  I’ll have coloring and drawing supplies out too.

I take them home at 2:30, pick up Bren right afterwards (by 3), come home and make sure the laundry is still running.  Somewhere, in the middle of all that, the baby will take his nap… I hope.

The point to reciting this list is that I see all this coming up and I have to stay on top of tasks or I could miss something important.  The house has to be tidy (downstairs, anyway) before the family comes over.  Bren has to have a bath before going to his friend’s house.  I need to do the grocery shopping so the baby has milk and I need to be showered so I can leave the house or be around anyone else.  Everything is interconnected… and it HAS to get done.  I can’t say… oh, well, I’ll just skip THIS for now and deal with it later.  It doesn’t work that way.

I guess that’s why I’m a bit tired right now – just thinking about it all.  But you do one thing and then the next, the next, and the next… suddenly it’s done and you can stop, breathe, and sit for a moment.  Well.  It’s a thought.

Baby boy has a runny nose and is grumpy, so I need to shut this down and start getting things done so he has his milk soon.

Cheers on a busy Saturday morning,

Just won my first game of chess!

Admittedly, it doesn’t really count because Bren started the game and dad had to finish it, but it was a lot of fun.  Having to think ahead a couple of moves was a challenge.  There were a couple points where I thought I was going to bite the dust, but I held on.

Todd is incredibly patient for putting up with that.  Aidan was beating up one of my knights with his hotwheels while we were trying to concentrate.  Bren was interested for about 1/2 the game, then his spazziness took over.  Time for bed for the boys, so I’m not surprised that he faded out.  He kept trying to assign points to the different pieces that were captured.

Anyway… I liked it.  I want to play more but it’s time for me to go to bed too.  Oh!  And Aidan reached into his diaper again and headed for the downstairs bathroom.  Todd took him in there and attempted a potty moment, but Aidan had already gone in his diaper.  Still, this is WAY more than Bren ever did, so it’s a miracle in my book.  He’s not even two yet and he’s interested.  Cool!  (now watch, he won’t potty-train until he’s 4)

It has been a good evening but it’s time for bed.  I want to cuddle my boys and get some seriously needed sleep.  My head is unhappy, I”m cold, and I’m a freaking phlegm-ball.  Misery.

Signing off (and hoping for another game in the near future),

Friday afternoon, ahh….

Still dealing with the leftovers from this stupid sinusitis/cold thingy.  Not thrilling me in the least.  Did the numbers on how many hours I have left on my tutoring contract – good news!  I’ve got 8.25 hours for T.T. and 8.00 hours for W.Y.  Also found out why T.T. was acting so odd around me – her teacher was out for two weeks.  T.T. has subsequently been acting odd with her teacher and her music teacher too.  As sad as it was to hear why her teacher was gone (and it was really, horribly sad), it was a bit of a relief to understand that this was a more “global” concern for T.T. than just interaction issues with me.

So this means that I’ll be able to get things wrapped up in March and then we can focus on more social vocabulary and things that will help them feel happy in dealing with this cultural change.  With the weather warming up, we’ll be able to be outside more too, which I think will be good for both the Mie Mie children AND my children.

Little monkey is doing some funny things and last night he stood with his hands firmly plunked into his diaper, while he tilted his little pelvis at his potty.  He has obviously been observing big brother and daddy in their bathroom antics and I was laughing to myself over this first tentative move towards him potty-training.  I guess he’s going to be doing that faster than big monkey did (thank you, thank you, thank you!)…

It’s ghastly hot in my office this afternoon.  I can’t figure out if it’s me or the building.  My cheeks are flushed and I feel hot & sweaty (and not in anything remotely resembling a good way, either).  Blech.

Bren and I are going to learn chess this weekend (not implying that we’ll master it this weekend but we’re going to take a stab at learning the fundamentals or the basics).  I’m going to do some reading and I’ll be teaching Mie Mie English on Saturday afternoon while the kids enjoy pizza and games.  Bren has a date for fun and frolic with his friend and beyond that, we’re hoping to get some fresh air and a trip to the Discovery Center accomplished at some point.

This means the weekend will be full.  I’m thinking tonight needs to be an early night for me because my cough is picking up steam this afternoon.  Maybe that’s why I’m feeling so hot??

Well… I have nothing really wonderful or thought-provoking to report or comment on right now.  Damn… this stupid cough is really getting old.  Maybe I need to think about heading in to see the doctor and get it kicked out for good.

A sad hug goes to the family of Clusterfook.  Everytime I think about her and how hard she fought against the cancer, I get weepy.  I hope that peace comes to her and her family.  I am terribly glad that I took the time to read her writing and if spirit alone could have helped her survive, she would be living to a very old age.

Hug your families and make every moment count.


Insomnia Blog 3.0 – or, the damn I’m too hot blog

Woke up when Todd came to bed after 2am and I was dying from being too hot.  (dramatic… but hey, I’ve been sick for the last week, so it’s reasonable to be a bit dramatic).  I finally got out of bed after squirming for a bit and it was 72 degrees… considering we have the heat set to 67, I was a bit disturbed.  I blearily dragged my butt downstairs and it felt hot and stuffy down here too.  I figure that Todd must have had the fireplace on for 6 or 7 hours straight because I actually had to open the back door and let some air in…. blech.

Nothing is worse (when you are really congested) than an overly-warm house.  Double-blech.

So I got up, did a bit of cleaning, and now I’m sitting here enjoying a nice cold glass of lemon-water.  I haven’t been ultra hungry since I’ve been sick (likely compliments of the congested head and lack of olfactory processes), but I’ve been hellishly thirsty.  I’m craving fresh fruit, onions (not together), and toast.  Hot soup will drift across my thoughts once in a while, but right now cold juice or water and some sunshine sounds absolutely wonderful.  And ice cubes…

I hate ice in drinks, so this is saying something.

It’s funny how our bodies dictate our needs sometimes.  I was just reading an MSN article on how celebrities are able to stay so thin (yes, it’s mostly their high-paid chefs…. duh, no-brainer)…  I actually got some interesting ideas out of the article – meaning that being up at 3am might not be such a bad idea.  I was also pondering the “why” of my being so resistant to eating healthy lately.  I’ve distilled it down into a couple of essential components.  Emotional eating, once again a no-brainer for me…  control issues – I need to establish my own control and right now that feels like a LOT of work added on top of an already busy schedule.  And finally, I feel overwhelmed at how big the job has become.  Hell… it felt a bit overwhelming when I only needed to lose 25 pounds.  Now that the number has grown to 50?  It’s like this massive thing that I can’t even begin to deal with.

It’s going to take a LOT of mental energy to do it.  I know it was rough last time and it’s going to be even harder this time.  I’m working so much…. dealing with school… kids… home… transitions and changes that seem overwhelming.  Todd’s schedule is crushing my own.  No matter how I look at it, I feel like there is more than I can deal with.

Now I’m sitting here, tapping my fingers on keys, wondering if some great epiphany is going to jump out at me.

Not so far.



still nothing.

…Well.  It was worth a shot, anyway.  I guess I’d better get back to bed.  It’s almost 4am and I really don’t want to try to make it through the whole day on five hours sleep.  Even a broken seven is better than that.  The dog is stretched out next to me, peaceful and happy that I’m here.  I hate to disturb that, but he can come upstairs and curl up next to the bed.  It’ll be daytime and morning-routine-chaos soon enough for both of us.  Sweetest thing I’ve seen him do lately?  Baby-boy left for gramma’s house early in the morning the other day and Danny (lover-dog) plopped himself down on the front door mat.  He seriously looked bummed that the little dude was gone.  Given that there have been many days when I wondered if he was only good-naturedly tolerating the little dude’s overwhelming love, it was a sweet thing to see.

On a final brief note, I’ve reviewed the syllabus and class schedule for my first class in my accounting graduate degree.  I like the communications from the professor and he is incredibly organized – which he would need to be in order to get us through the necessary material in 8 weeks.  I’ll be covering 2 chapters per week, with all the associated assignments, reading, and discussion postings.  And this is going to be my easy session.  After this one, I’ll be taking two classes per session.  I’ll keep updating about how my Keller experience is going.  So far, I really like the interactions I’m having and it seems like they are highly organized.

The proof will be in the experience with the class itself.  And… ultimately, what I take from it will depend on what I’m able to give to it.  Last night the volunteer who got me “drafted” into helping the Mie Mie family asked me how I’m going to do it all.  I told her I’d just have to make it all work.  Here’s the breakdown on the whys…

Tutoring provides extra needed income and it’s the way I was introduced to the family.  I’ve learned how incredibly hard teaching is and at the same time I’ve learned how rewarding it can be.  I won’t be officially tutoring after 4/15, but I’ll still continue to help the family learn and grow here.

Being a volunteer and helping the family feeds the service need I have.  Knowing that I can make a difference to them and for them?  That surpasses the cost to me in time and energy.  Actually, I think helping them gives me a boost of energy and confidence that has been lacking for a while.  I need it for my soul.

Working at the day job is nothing more than an means to keep my family in a home, with our bills paid.  I don’t see it as being anything more than that.  I’m simply lucky enough to work with a small group of people that I love dearly.  The rest of it has no long term meaning for me, unless things seriously change over the next 4-6 months, which I doubt.

School is about digging my family out of this cycle of living paycheck to paycheck.  It’s about our future.  It can provide for my family in as short as a year.  Todd’s schooling will payoff in about 4-5 years… too long for us and our current needs.  I’ve looked over the materials and the syllabus.  I’m going to like this class in a big way – it’s concrete.  It’s logical.  It’s organized.  My poor little overwhelmed spirit looked over the materials yesterday and let out a big sigh of happiness.  My brain looked at the schedule and did a little shimmying dance of “Oh my god, how am I going to do all this work?????”

Well.  I will.  I am known for my stubborness.  Let’s call it drive, rather than stubborness, ok?  I will have to find a way to tap into that drive and milk it.  Keller has a good program.  If I can pull through this, I really believe I can improve my family’s life.  If Brennan and Aidan can hang in there for the slightly less than 18 months it’s going to take to pull this off, I promise I will make it up to them by backing off on things.

I was thinking of how to teach Brennan about the number line, because it’s a great graphic way to see how positive and negative numbers are related.  Well, that’s how I could explain my working on school…  I will debit out time and energy from my family for a relatively short-term period – let’s say 16-17 months.  I know I’ll go into the “red” for a bit and they will bear it.  I just have to remember that it’s going to be a debt owing when I’m all done.  My kids are going to need a whole bunch of paying back when this is done.

ok… Bed is finally calling.  I’m finishing up this water and heading back upstairs.  Even a bit more sleep will help me manage my day.  And for the record… I know I’m nuts.  I know that I’ve got myself stretched really thin.  But what would I give up?  Stop tutoring those kids who have been abandoned by their mother?  Not help a family who is trying to rebuild a life here?  I’ve been a part of a family like that and I know it can be hard.  Not go to school so that I can support my family better and get out of a job pattern that makes me feel more worn out as each year passes?

What would you cut out?

Wishing all a good morning,

on a lighter note…

I had a great tutoring session tonight.  I also got the foodstamps issue dealt with.  I rock.

And that’s just how life goes sometimes.  Some days things go really great.  Some days things just seem to suck.

I’m sitting here, enjoying the peace of NOT having to run everywhere this evening.  It feels soooo good.  Bren is playing a computer game on Jump Start First Grade.  Todd is working on homework and I’m blogging.  What a strange evening.  In a little while I’m going to pull us away from the computers and read to Brennan, then it’s bed and sweet, sweet sleep.


and with that.  I’m out of here.  Cheers!

Further thoughts from the land of the lost

I got a nice response from Bren’s teacher.  I have to say this:  I feel for her.  It sounds like she is feeling some of the same things we are in dealing with him.  Only, at the same time, she has to deal with the needs of an entire classroom – with all of their differing needs and levels.  She has my sympathy, to say the least.

She’s sending home some books for him to use for vocabulary practice.  I also printed off the first grade vocabulary list because (frankly) coming up with words on the spot is really hard.  This way I’ve got a list of 600 words that we can work on – even though he already has the first two pages out of the six down – and maybe I won’t end up repeating myself so much.

I also printed off a list of root words (Greek and Roman), so I can talk to him about “clues” as to what a word might mean.  I always thought it was neat and I think he’ll like it too.

I’m going to look into the homeschooling resources to see what I can find for simple and inexpensive projects to make.  His teacher really liked his Bucky Ball.  I think the class really liked the spice gum drops!  I think I’ll start saving cardboard cartons and plastic containers so we can use them for creating things and for classifying things.

As it turns out, they are going to do the second and final GT test next Monday.  Can you hear the big sigh of relief?

Then comes the other issue for me…  living with the outcome of the assessment.  This is another of those freaky “mom” moments in which I wonder if we’re over-estimating him.  It’s really difficult to know if we’re doing what we should be.  And this, right here, is why I couldn’t fill out that stupid assessment for him last year.  He’s our oldest.  We don’t really know how to compare him to other children.  When we saw him with his little friends (during the infamous sleep-over), he seemed different… older…  more in line with the first grader than the kindergarteners.  But you just never know.


Well.  Yeah.  I guess I need to get myself packed up for the day and head out.  It’s been a long day, with coughing, blowing my nose, and feeling like I can barely stay awake.  Tonight is my last tutoring session for February.  I’m hoping we have a good time.  I’m bringing over a bag of popcorn and cartoons.  We’re going to work on math sheets for W.Y. and making the “T.T. Book” (it’s a hot pink binder with puffy ink writing on it for her name).  I’ll be done about 6pm and then it’s back to the university to pick up my “big” boys (Todd and Bren) and then home for Aidan being dropped off by gramma.

I’m already tired.  I imagine by 7pm I’ll be in a coma.

The next two days I’m going to take it easy.  Saturday is more English lessons for Mie Mie and fun times for the kids.  Over the course of the weekend, I have reading to do for my class and studying to do on how to work the calculator.  Fun stuff.

That’s it for me.  I’m done.  No more brain left.