Organization does not come naturally to me…

So normally I like to take things, and cram them in a drawer. Is that helpful? No. Does it make things useful and easy to access? Double No! And over the years we keep moving where my “crafting space” is… But it’s pretty cemented that the end bedroom, the tiniest one, is The Office. It’s where the 2 computer desks (mine and my husband’s) have migrated. But my crafting projects and supplies have remained fragmented – in a small cupboard under the kitchen counter, in a bin in my son’s closet, in a small standing cabinet in my room, and mostly in the craft wardrobe we put in the family room.

The problem with that is, any time I want to do a project, I have to go hunting for my supplies, my tools, my fabrics… Super annoying. So I often default to doing nothing at all. A frustrating waste.

So, we are converting the closet in the office from a space to dump random things we don’t know what to do with – into a tidy, organized space for supplies and projects! 

Also, we want to have a hide a bed couch in there, so that there is a place for family to stay, better than a leaky air mattress on the floor in one of my kids’ rooms. I found a really comfy one for ten bucks (because the fabric is ugly) at my friend’s son’s service project garage sale! Ten dollars – I was pretty excited. Matt, slightly less so… I had to remind him that if you want to buy something like that, you can only pick two: cheap, comfy, attractive. 

So…

Things accomplished since Saturday: all my drama club costume pieces are now in the wardrobe in my family room. Put new shelves in the closet in my office. Old broken couch is on the porch (still needs to go to the dump, though). New couches are in the family room. Hide a bed is in the office (need to wash the sheet and air out the mattress, will let it air when we are on vacation for a week). Fixed the broken wardrobe latch and filled the crack on the one shelf. Built 2 new shelves in the office closet, needs one more shelf. Curtain rod now goes across the closet doorway, needs a curtain.
Things left to do: sew 9 bins for costume sorting in the costume wardrobe. Find/make bins for the office craft closet. Put craft supplies in the storage bin sorting thingy, so I can actually find them when I need them! Maybe move the dresser holding my sewing patterns to the end of the hallway? See a hanging wrapping paper and gift bag holder to hang in the office closet… And last but not least, get all my craft projects off the laundry room floor into that new storage space in the closet!
I think I am halfway there…

Play Parent Ettiquette 

So I have been working my tail off on the school play for the last 3 months. I have been running sound, making all our cuts and edits, making props, and losing sleep and sanity trying to make sure everyone has what they need to be successful in the show.

Now I find out that someone is upset because I asked their child to hold the “wrong” colored star. Every time we use props, someone new complains that there are only a certain # of this color star. I am well aware of this. I am working with props that cannot be replaced due to age, and in this case, the little part that once held these stars to a tree has been broken off some time in the past. Without that little weird funnel shape, I can’t really mount it on a handle. I have been trying since January to find a working solution, and sorry bob, if I can’t make it work, I can’t make it work. Please hold this equally shiny star of a different color that nobody will notice unless you are looking specifically for one different colored star.

Seriously, if a parent wants to complain about a prop that is missing or not completed yet, because their kid wants to be holding something, instead of complaining to the director, either come to me, or better yet, VOLUNTEER your time and efforts to the exhausted 3 adult volunteers who have been working with 71+ children tirelessly for 3 straight months. You might just have the brilliant idea I need to replicate this odd bit of plastic!  I would ADORE having anyone offer to come and help me out with a couple props. It’s the whole reason I let all the kids in the cul de sac shred my entire collection of newspapers when I was paper mâché-ing the giant star two weeks ago: I would rather them help a little too much than just watch me donut all myself. Sure, I have a spare garbage bag of shredded newsprint now, but hey, that’s less paper than I will have to tear later.

In the meantime, I have to remember to see if I can find either a cake frosting tip that is wide enough at the base to fit a 1/2″ wood dowel and a tip that can hold the weird nub on the bottom of the star, or possibly a giant novelty pen from the dollar store – if I unscrew it, a dowel might fit in the barrel end of the tip half. Then I could dremel down the end until the star nub fit in it. Those were the two new ideas I had while pondering this whole situation and writing this down. 

Regardless, I have a ton to do over the next couple days, and no time to breathe or eat or sleep. Finding out someone is worried because their child had to hold the wrong colored star, not my top priority. Sorry, I can’t go to the vintage Christmas tree star store and buy another one. It really would make my life easier.

Interesting trend here in bloggyland …

So I went on some medications after my annual physical when we saw some of my hormone/blood levels going all haywire. They made me quite a bit depressed for a bit, and it’s interesting that you can see when it started, because writing in my blog was the first thing that I like to do that just slipped away, without me even noticing.

So we changed stuff up a week or so ago, and I felt like writing again. So obviously that combination of medication did NOT work for me. (Synthetic thyroid plus statins, if you were curious…)

Strange dream

Too tired me = weird dreams. Dreamt that I discovered a series of storage tunnels under the school stage where there were rumors of violins being stashed. A parent was desperate to have one for their kid to take lessons, so into the tunnels(dusty! Spiderwebs!) I went. I found a lot of broken things, a beautiful vintage ukulele but all broken, and a room full of broken band instruments(no violins that I noticed). But when the parent asked me to go back into the tunnels to check again in case there was one violin crammed in with the band instruments, I couldn’t find the storage room in any of the tunnels. I did find a taxidermied rabbit missing a foot, then in another tunnel, his missing foot. I found the Phantom of the Opera novel in a long abandoned backpack, and a strange backpack made from a fox fur where the top flap was the fox’s face (you know, all flattish, not filled with anything). So weird. Do those even exist? Oh, and one of the tunnels had spiderweb stretch lace strung across it, instead of real spiderwebs.

Never did find the violins, though.

Bribery to end fighting?

Holy cow, my kids have been fighting again. I offered Walter $50 if he could go three months without hitting or slapping his sister… That was the week of Thanksgiving. He slapped her today. Only two months… So we are starting the counter again. If he hits her again before three months, the offer is off the table.

I have no clue if this will even work, but since he doesn’t seem to have empathy the same way others do (or at least the same way his sister does), I am hoping if I can get him to go three months without slapping her, it will be a habit.

We are in the process of getting him officially evaluated to find out where he is on the autism spectrum – or if he is even spectrum at all, or if he has some other issues… But based on what I know of him and his abilities, he is about as high functioning autism/Asperger’s as they come. :-/ which means empathy is something I may never be able to teach him.

So instead, I work on self control and understanding rules and guidelines, and creating new routines and rituals that encourage socially appropriate behaviors. Thankfully he is very well socialized at school, the only person in the world he is aggressive to is his sister, and only because he finds her incredibly annoying.

Sad thing is, neither kid is annoying, they are just diametrically opposite from each other! But because they react completely different to any situation or stimuli, they drive each other bonkers. The part of all this is find ironic is, the things that she does that bothers him are the SAME EXACT things he does to bother her. And vice versa. I just don’t get it…

Finally off the waiting list!

So my son has been struggling a bit at home over the last year – he gets angry and frustrated and he has a very hard time with anxiety and self control. We got on a waiting list for a good therapist, and today I was finally able to get Walter scheduled to start seeing the doctor.

I really, really hope that he and I can work hard to learn how to help one another have the best family life we can. Lately, everyone tiptoes around at home, trying not to set each other off – because once you set off Walter, he does his best to make everyone miserable, and doesn’t stop until Liney is in tears and I am so upset I am breathing fire. I still don’t know what changed in him – over the last year or so, he has become so unkind and disrespectful (particularly to me), and it’s sad to think that he was better behaved as a frustrating preschooler than he is now.

Time out doesn’t work as a consequence any more, because he happily disappears into his room for hours and never accomplishes any of his responsibilities. He seems to get a thrill out of making people around him upset – I think it’s an issue of control, but I wish he preferred to control the situation around him by pleading people, instead of hurting people. Yet at school, he is so kind and attentive to others – I don’t understand why he has to be a bully at home.

Anyhow, I don’t want to talk too much about his issues, because those are his and not mine to discuss – but I am happy and hopeful that getting us in to see a family/chi?d therapist will help us all get some answers and help us become a happier family unit.

Found my smashbook!

Aha! I have been working off and on over the last couple years on finishing some smash books… I kind of lost my 2014 one in November, but I found it today, and I discovered that once I print out the photos I want to go on certain pages, I’m pretty much done with it.

I have decided that I much prefer Smashbook/Project Life style books, compared to traditional 12×12 scrap booking. I feel like it’s more about what I put in the book, instead of how every page looks. The problem is the photos… I hate having to take the time to send photos off to be printed, then either picking them up or having to pay shipping to get them mailed to me.

Maybe a good solution would be a new printer that can do a decent job on photo paper? Or one of those dedicated photo only 4×6 printers? Not sure, I guess that’s the kind of thing I would have to research. Either way, I need to get these photos printed and stuck in my books, then I can take some photos of them and share.

One thing I absolutely love to do in these sort of books is to use washi tape as a hinge – mostly when I want to fit a bunch of photos on a page, I kind of hinge them like cascaded computer windows. Or if I have a card or an event program that I still want to see all the pages of – then the tape hing still allows it to move freely.

Today I stuck all my washi tape on a neck lanyard thing – it’s an interesting way to keep them all together if I want to throw them in a bag to take my project somewhere. I didn’t realize exactly how much fancy tape I had until I saw it all lined up together. I have dots and chevrons and stripes and shiny Mylar and animal print. Probably way too much tape, but I love it all and I am even starting to run out of a few of my favorites!

Not sure that’s any better…

At least my kids seem to take turns being ridiculously obnoxious. This morning my son decided not to wake up, but to go back to bed for another 30 minutes. From the moment I woke him a second time, he has had a bug in his ear (or whatever the saying is – in the 90s we would say “Who peed in your Cheerios?”).

He just doesn’t seem to understand that every choice he makes in the morning has an effect on the rest of the day… If he sleeps in, he doesn’t have time to make a hot breakfast – plus yesterday he cooked the last of the eggs, and I haven’t had a chance to go and buy more. His dad also told him if he didn’t clean up after himself when he cooks, then he may not cook again. This morning, the pan he used to cook eggs was still out on the stovetop, all dusty and greasy and gross. Of course, this led to him exploding, and from there the morning just degenerated into him being rude and disrespectful to me because he wanted some form of revenge for not getting what he wanted. He didn’t understand that his consequences were a direct and natural result of his choices…

I wasn’t punishing him just to be mean, I was simply reminding him that if one sleeps in, there is not time to get out a pan, heat the stove, wait for eggs to cook… You gotta grab a bowl of cereal and go!

I am sure all of this will, in time, begin to stick in his mind. Maybe some day he won’t be so upset and blame me for the way that time marches on around him – even if I wanted to, I can’t stop time, I can’t reschedule school around his whims, I can’t magically make eggs appear in the fridge, and I can’t magically clean a pan that he left out. If it’s in the sink, I will wash it. If he leaves it out, then it isn’t where it belongs for washing. Simple as that.

Grumble grumble truck grumble traffic

So very not excited to be a one car family for the next who knows how long… The truck blew a head gasket, the mechanic doesn’t have it running yet (he said Friday, then on Friday said Monday…)

This week is also the week of my early morning geography bee practices, which means on Wednesday and Friday I have to get poor Matt to work at 7:30 so I am where I need to be at the proper times, and my poor kids are going to have to either skip piano/trumpet practice or do it in the afternoons and do their homework in the car instead…

It also means trying to fit in picking him up from work, while also juggling lessons I teach after school, Walter’s school play practices, and Liney’s practices for her dance recital on Saturday. I think I better sit down with a pencil and some paper and figure out how I am going to manage all this.

It wouldn’t be so bad, if there wasn’t so much traffic! Ten years ago, it took 13 minutes to get to my inlaws’ place, with all green lights. Now it’s 20 minutes, easy, and 30 to 35 in traffic. My husband’s work is a little close than their place, but since he goes to/comes home from work during rush hours, it’s usually 25 to 30 minutes. 15 in light traffic.

Holy Hannah! So I was figuring out single car family logistics, and we decided that Matt will take the bus until the weather is nice enough that he can ride his motorcycle (that’s his preferred vehicle anyhow). But the bus costs $2.50 per ride nowadays! His work is approximately one gallon of gasoline away, each day (based on his truck’s estimated gas consumption). Right now gas is $2.20ish… So it is actually twice as much to take the bus as it is to drive the truck(and approximately the same amount as it would take me to drop him off and pick him up every day). How unfair is that to the kind of people who have to depend on the bus for transportation – people who can’t afford a car, or who are disabled and cannot drive, or people who are too young to drive/buy a car! Those are the poorest strata of our society, and here we are pricing them out of the ability to get a job! I am annoyed on our behalf, and completely indignant on theirs!

I have been blessed enough that I haven’t had to depend on the bus as my only mode of transportation for a decade… We have been a single car family before, but most of the time we have been able to afford two vehicles. Maybe not two nice vehicles, and never any new cars, but it’s obviously been long enough that I have become oblivious. Plus, being students, we have been able to get free or super cheap fares when we did need to use the bus.

Kind of interesting that now that my husband has a masters, and I have a bachelors, we are now financially worse off than when he had a bachelors and I had only an associates. I really want my masters, but it’s just going to have to wait a while, there is no way we can afford even more school debt.

Catharsis and frustration

So here’s the weird thing… Writing makes me feel better about stress, yet I very rarely do it any more. As a teen, I wrote all the time – journals, poetry, songs… Now, zip. Zilch. Nada.

Soooo, I am working on getting my swag back. I figure getting my hands fixed means that in some ways I am starting over. I have to re-learn to type(right now I am typing on my iPad because there is no resistance to put undue stress on my hands) on a keyboard. I will have to re-learn how to feel the keys of a clarinet, the strings on a ukulele.

In some ways, it feels like starting over, going back a few steps. But in other ways, it seems like a good way to trigger some better habits.

Another thing that has fallen by the wayside is listening to music. During the last couple of years, I have had to listen to so much music for school assignments, and so I haven’t really listened to music for my own pleasure, just because.

But here is an example of my life, and why I get so frustrated with things. I was sitting here trying to listen to some calming music, and write this blog post, when I noticed that it was nearly bedtime. I asked my daughter to make sure her new alarm clock was set and ready to wake her up for school in the morning. I also reminded her that since break is done, it will be time to go back to practicing piano first thing in the morning, and she starts getting whiny and defensive and telling me she doesn’t need to practice piano because she has done it a thousand times, and that she doesn’t need to bring her alarm clock out for her dad to show her how to set it, because she isn’t my servant.

All I was doing was trying to help her remember what needs to get done next, and I the entire time I was speaking to her I was using my calm, respectful voice, and she starts whining that I am yelling at her(insert interrobang here). Seriously? I am just trying to make it easier for her to have a good morning tomorrow, and I am the bad guy now. I don’t understand it.

And of course, right after all that, when I went back to writing, she starts diving in the fridge for food when we already had a healthy and filling dinner. We don’t do fourth meal or bedtime snacks or whatever you want to call it, so Matt tells her to get out of the fridge. She gets huffy because apparently she asked if she could have something to eat and he said a rhetorical “why not?”. I suggested if she was really that hungry, she get a bowl of cereal. Her response “I don’t want a bowl of cereal because you are yelling at me” – but again, I didn’t yell, never said anything unreasonable, I swear I don’t understand. How am I yelling when I am almost physically holding my frustration and annoyance back by their leashes (they are like big, barking dogs), I am trying so very very hard NOT to yell. And of course, the peanut gallery pipes up and says “you ARE being awfully naggy…”

How is it nagging to simply remind a child who constantly says “oops, I forgot” whenever a task or event is missed? Reminding a forgetful child isn’t nagging, is it? If I spend money on piano lessons, for a child who is only 8 and doesn’t have the mental discipline to choose to practice on her own, isn’t it my responsibility as a parent to remind the child that we practice daily, so as to most benefit from the piano lessons? If I don’t remind her (which is what happened during this whole Christmas break), she doesn’t practice. And my son is exactly the same way with his trumpet. It’s odd though – it’s like pulling teeth to get them to sit down and practice, but once they are sitting in front of their music, they love playing. So I don’t have to sit there and police them, I just have to prep them mentally so that they know that practicing is coming up.

Wow. I went into her room to help get her ready for bed, only to discover that her blankets were shoved in the corner under a pile of toys. I asked her to put away a doll and a couple of stuffed animals so that I could get to the blankets so we could put them on her bed so she could sleep. She immediately freaked out at me and said I was mean and hate her because I am making her do work on a Sunday. I reminded her that I wanted to read a chapter of Charlotte’s Web before bed, but I needed some help to get her bed comfortable and her room safe to walk in so she could have a good nights sleep. She then started screaming louder and crying more, so I told her that children who treat me that way don’t get story time. That apparently was the wrong thing to say, because she laid on her bed and screamed and kicked her legs like a two year old, instead of an eight year old. That of course, set off her brother from the next room over, who shouted at her to “Up Shut!” While I appreciate his attempt to adhere to my requests to not say “shut up” to his sister, I feel like that was not really any less incendiary. But since he was at least making an attempt in the right direction, I just let it go and came out here to finish writing.

Sigh. Momming is hard.