Sunday, December 26, 2010

All for Nothing

I called my mom one morning last week to say "hi" and see what was up.  She casually mentioned something about "...after Grandma died".  "What?!"  I said, as this was news to me.  My grandmothers were 96 and 93, so it could have been either one, and I hadn't heard anything about anyone being sick.  Apparently Grandma Merrill had been sick with pneumonia, and after a few days in the hospital and a few miserable days at home, she died on 12/22/10.  She and my grandpa lived two blocks down the road from us in little Ramah, and she was always full of compliments and hilarious anecdotes.  It is always sad to lose someone we love, but after living a long and full life, and knowing what we do about what is after this life, it is also peaceful to know that all is well now and she no longer has to be miserable.  Both my grandfathers died when I was a senior in high school.

I last saw her this past summer in Ramah while I was there for a couple of weeks.  One day I went to Gallup with Ronelle and her mom while there, and while we were in the grocery store, low and behold my grandma walked in by herself and grabbed a cart and was ready to shop!  I was stunned.  At home she wore oxygen, and Aunt Sharon is very protective of her and would always hold her by the arm when she walked.  She didn't wear oxygen out of the house, and didn't use a walker or anything.  I asked her if she needed help or anything, and she insisted that she didn't.  She said holding on to the cart was all she needed.  She was there to get fixin's for chili, as Uncle Eddie was going to be coming through Ramah and had requested some.  She rode the van with the senior citizens from Ramah.  She makes the best chili - and I finally got the recipe out of her, woo hoo!  (ground or diced pork or beef - she prefers pork, El Pato sauce in the yellow can, and green chile - who knew it was so easy?)

So, I decided that we only regret what we don't do, and I'd always feel a little bad if I didn't try to go to the funeral, so I got a "compassion" fare ticket to go to the funeral, alone.  Dean has much of the week off work for the holidays, and I found gracious people to watch the boys on the two days he would work.  I certainly didn't want to spend $5000 to bring the whole herd, and that would sure mess up their sleep schedules and be torturous for me (once again) on the plane.  So, Dean took me to the airport today and I tried to check in, but alas, there was no ticket, even though I had an email with the confirmation number and itinerary.  They put me on the phone with someone at United, who said my ticket had apparently been canceled today, but he couldn't see why, and the flight was completely full, so the next available flight was 24 hours later.  If I took that, I would miss the funeral, and have to turn around and come home so soon (since Dean is leaving for the US one week from today) that I decided there wasn't any point.  That was the best flight of all that I had looked up when I made the arrangements, and probably any other flights were full as well, so I found the subway and came home. 

That, by the way, is no small feat for me.  I finally rode (and consequently figured out) the subway alone for the first time on Friday.  I feel so accomplished.  I was afraid that by the time I left here I still wouldn't be proficient in it.  It's easy enough to go with someone who knows what he or she is doing, but a far different thing to do myself.  The hard part was trying to get through the walk-through gate in our housing village.  It is not manned, so it has double doors and you slide your ID card through a slot to get through the first one, then put your finger on a scanner to get through the second one.  However, there is not enough time to get through the door and get your finger on the scanner on a good day, and certainly not when dragging a child or a piece of luggage, and I had a big suitcase.  So it had me exit the first door to try again (because I wasn't fast enough).  I thought I would outsmart the system and leave my suitcase in there.  But, it thought someone was still in there, so it wouldn't let either side open.  Ugh.  Some guys were trying to leave through the gate, but couldn't since it wouldn't open, so they went and got some MPs..... long story..... the MPs finally had to wait for someone from the main post to come, and I was starting to get frost bite, even with a hat, warm gloves, a scarf, and of course a coat.  So I walked around to the main gate and left my suitcase in there, admonishing the MPs not to blow it up (you know, an abandoned package).  They said they'd bring it to me when they got it out.  They did, hooray!  And I rewarded them with cookies.  Dean is happy for me to be here. 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Today . . .

I continued my new habit of reading the Book of Mormon before getting up.  I rarely want to get up in the morning, but have to have breakfast ready by 7 for Hunter on school days, and I nearly always have a hot breakfast on those days.  So, I've learned to justify lounging in bed a little longer if I do it while reading.  It is infinitely more beneficial than what I've otherwise done my whole life, which is wait until I'm drifting off to sleep and try to cram in a few verses that I can't remember afterward.  I actually had a hard time putting it down this morning (I finished it recently and am well into 1 Nephi again), but had to get going about 6:55, which was plenty of time for oatmeal with coconut milk and honey.

I spent the day "helping" Kyler clean his room.  It took all day (it was that bad) but it was rewarding.  Now the hard part - keeping it that way.  Dean usually goes upstairs to tuck them in bed, but tonight I forced myself, in part to see that nothing was left on the floor, and to close his pj drawer.

We didn't leave the house today, so Tristan got to take a full nap.  After his initial grouchiness upon waking three hours later, he was a delight all evening.  He played a "game" with me, in which he would scamper to the kitchen, climb the stool, and bring me two fists full of items from the bucket o' baby - pacifiers, two ounce bottles, bottle caps, etc.

It was hard to stop in Kyler's room, because we were so close to truly being done.  I finally stopped and thought I'd make some butternut squash soup from a recipe book at nearly 6:00, when we generally have dinner, but alas there was not enough time when I read how long it would take to cook the peeled/chopped squash chunks, so Dean had a T-bone that I had already started just for him, and the boys and I had Huevos Becky.  It was all good, and done quickly.   

As I search for recipes online this evening and keep running across delectable-sounding turkey recipes, I only feel a slight twinge of guilt for the remains of two turkeys that I finally had to throw out last week, from the two Thanksgiving dinners we had (which Dean had pulled the meat off of and put in the fridge for me).  I had made a point of buying big turkeys (and there are no grocery store gimmicks here to get them cheap) so that I'd get the most for my money (they all have about the same carcass - the heavier they are, the more meat they have).  We had leftover turkey a couple of times, but sure didn't go through it all.  Oh, well.

Darling Husband and I did the dishes together, which didn't take long at all, and he is always good company.  I'm forever trying to develop the habits recommended by the Fly Lady.  I made the bed yesterday and today; yay for me and for baby steps.

I have been thinking about cookies and finding the best ones to make for a cookie exchange next week, and thinking about having Christmas dinner on Sunday for our Home Teaching group, and thinking what to make for the cubscout bake sale this Saturday, and making something for Hunter's class party on Friday, and possibly doing story time at the library tomorrow morning - which means coming up with a book/craft/snack.  Oh, dear.  I almost never stay up late for such reasons, though.  It will get done, somehow, and done better on enough sleep.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Stirrup the Rabble

I had my first OB appointment yesterday.  We thought, based on dates, that I was 16 weeks along, but the OB did a simple ultrasound and said Baby was measuring more like 14 weeks.  We are thrilled that we are finally experiencing some fertility, now that we are 30 somethings.  I conceived shortly after weaning Tristan.  Fortunately, I didn't have to take any children along to the appointment.  This is the sort of thing they like to do in an exam room.  I'll update more when there is more to tell. 
 Dean is leaving for San Antonio after the first of the year for 10 weeks, plus travel and Albuquerque time.  I can't wait for that blessed experience.  He's hoping to bring back his beloved - Pancho.  I'm not sure where he's going to go in the apartment...  I sure have missed his messes and squawking and giant poop-crusted ugly cage.

 We had signed up to have some family pictures taken here in our village this morning, only to show up and find nothing.  I looked up the flake of a photographer on facebook and apparently she's moved back to Virginia.

Today the high was forecasted to be 28 degrees, so we thought we'd do something indoors for entertainment.  We visited the 63 Building for the first time.  It was pretty overrated, or at least when taking along our brood.  We lunched on Korean food, some fried sweet potato balls, and fancy ice cream, then paid nearly $50 to see an Imax movie of some paleontologists and a few dinosaur scenes in 3-D.  When it was over a Korean lady sitting in front of us scolded us.  We have no idea what she said, but she was certainly angry.  Perhaps she didn't care for Kyler's constant chattering (he couldn't get the English headset to work for him, operator error I'm sure), or perhaps she wasn't fond of getting kicked in the head by Tristan a couple of times.  I slept through about half of it.  There's a "Seaworld", an art gallery, a scenic view from the top, and more, but no military discount.  Dean and I decided there's not much point in going back unless it's without the children.  Each of the venues costs about as much as the Imax (which wasn't any better than watching the Discovery channel at home for an hour). 

 I did take advantage of some of the Christmas scenes they had, since the children were all "gussied up", as my grandmother would say.
Hemophilia Hunter has had a black or multi-colored eye for a few weeks.  Kyler "snorkeled" him on the forehead just above his left eyebrow so, naturallly, Hunter proceeded to bite Kyler's forehead.  The lump lasted a week or so, then the pooled blood drained down to his eyelid and has been an array of colors from purple to green to yellow, etc. as it is slowly resorbed.  Kyler's bite mark was gone in no time.  
 It was naptime for the Trist-man, so he was Mr. Grumpy for much of the outing.  He's been a snot factory of late and hasn't had an appetite since yesterday. 
 Kyler is angelic as always.
 Their saving grace is that they are cute. 
Monkey see, monkey do!

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Doctor Said

I know most homemaker-type bloggers only post about how wonderful their perfect children are, and I'm happy for them, but I believe in the real deal, so you get the nitty gritty here, and everyone can feel much better about their darling angels after reading about ours.  It is also therapeutic for me to "get it out", and it will help me remember "what it's like" to have young children at home. 

Hunter Pants (as he is affectionately known around here) has become disorganized and unmotivated to the point of really being a problem.  I got an email last week from the bus system reminding me that riding the bus is a privilege and his privilege is in question because his bus pass has been lost (he had supposedly found it by the time I got the email, but hadn't been showing it when he gets on the bus).  Today I got an email from his teacher wondering where some paperwork was  that she had sent home for him to be tested for the gifted program.  We had promptly filled it out and instructed him to put it in his backpack, which he obviously hadn't done since it never made it back to his teacher.  I looked around and found it in the coat closet.  He has been getting in trouble with his teacher for not getting his homework signed off at home. 

When he "cleans" his bedroom, he merely stuffs his clothes/toys/books/etc. into nooks and crannies, or kicks them into Kyler's room, or strings them up and down the hall, or maybe tosses them into Tristan's crib, which is in his room, or throws them on the other side of his bed...  He walks in the door every day after school and kicks his shoes off where ever he happens to be standing when he decides to take them off.  He shoves his socks between couch cushions, in cupboards, under rugs, anywhere out of immediate sight.  He tries to wear the same clothes to school every day because he "can't find" anything else (clean, folded laundry that I give him has the same fate as listed above).  It is my opinion that children (not toddlers, obviously) should keep their own rooms clean.  How else are they going to learn good habits in life?  It nauseates me to hear stories of missionaries living in abject filth, or girls going off to college not knowing how to do anything domestic (cook, clean, nothing).

So, due in part to my own life-long bad habits, and due mostly to the children's penchant for making messes where ever they go, then walking away, our house is generally a mess.  I hate it.  I also believe, again, that the children should be responsible for cleaning up after themselves around the house, but of course that is like pulling teeth.  Dean occasionally will make a remark, but mostly understands the overwhelming nature of the situation.  If I only had to clean up after the two of us...  And no, I don't believe Dean should have to do much of anything around the house (beyond the obvious, especially since we don't have home repairs or yard work these days), though he does help out.  He slaves at work all day every day, and doesn't ask me to come in and file papers or whatever; the home front is my specialty and domain.  I've been seriously considering hiring a housekeeper, which is the trend here, to come in once a week.  I may do it yet, but primarily believe that we need to develop good habits and keep up with the work ourselves.  I feel the money could be better used in a mission or college or retirement or house fund, or for date nights.  We'll see. 

Yesterday during church, Hunter's breath was so bad (he claimed he had brushed his teeth twice, but that has been an issue forever as well) that I gave him half a stick of gum.  When the sacrament was coming around, he wanted the gum wrapper to put the gum back in.  The new half was still in the paper.  I told him to tuck the gum up in his cheek.  Instead, I watched him fling it on the floor when he thought I wasn't looking.  I just didn't do that sort of thing when I was a kid.  It is beyond me that at eight years old he still acts like he doesn't have a clue in life and really couldn't care less.  During church, he can't seem to stop yakking, and often stands up for no reason, or will yawn, stretch and sigh, or fight with Kyler, or otherwise behave boorishly.  He went up to the stand to bear his testimony and had to wait his turn.  He proceeded to bounce around from chair to chair, and to lift himself up on the chairs and grin at us.  You get the idea.  Dean and I are losing our marbles over this kid.  It's funny, because he gets such accolades where ever he goes.  He was one of only two children to bear his testimony yesterday, and the only one to do it without any help.  So of course people are impressed by him (especially his grandmothers, who think he walks on water), which is fine.  But living with the boy is certainly trying on my psyche.  He's been wearing tennis shoes to church because he can't find both of his dress shoes at the same time. 

I have had the rule for years that TV and electronic games of any kind are a privilege to be enjoyed by those with good behavior and clean bedrooms/bathrooms.  Alas, I usually don't have the will to trudge upstairs and check his or Kyler's quarters, so I foolishly take their word for it when they tell me all is clean, and I let them sit in front of an evil flickering machine.  Then when I finally do make it upstairs, their rooms are as usual, or all I have to do is open a closet to have an avalanche of crap come tumbling down.  We've taken away privileges and toys and evil flickering machines, yada yada, but we don't seem to be getting anywhere.  He tunes us out more and more when we ask him to do things (like his chores) or simple things around the house (like "put these important papers in your backpack and give them to your teacher", or "put your shoes on the shelf" on a daily basis).

So, I looked up John Rosemond's newspaper column here to see what he has had to say lately.  I found my answer.  Hunter isn't "nasty" to us generally, although in the last month or so he has said some particularly obnoxious things to Dean ("I hate your guts" and something along the lines of "I wish you were dead"), which is odd because the boys all worship the ground Dean walks on, and of course these statements were particularly offensive to Dean.  I believe those two occasions were after Dean denied him playing games on his iPhone.  I had Dean read the piece, and he was on board, so at dinner we explained to Hunter that we had discussed his issues with "the Doctor", who was very concerned that Hunter was clearly not getting enough sleep...  So, when he shapes up and the monkey is off our backs, we'll know he is caught up on his sleep, and can resume a normal bedtime.  All privileges are suspended in the mean time as well.  Like J.R. says, we didn't get to this point overnight, so it may take months, but something has got to give.  He doesn't poop his pants, fortunately, but he does have a terrible habit now years in the making of eating his snot, which is abominable.  Nothing has worked to nix that, so we're hoping this will be cured as well.  It is on his list of necessary improvements.

In all reality, he probably is sleep deprived.  We have an 8:00 bed time, but by the time they torment us (demand food because they are suddenly "starving"), fool around, bounce on the bed, then Hunter reads in bed, he's often not asleep until after 9:00.  He frequently falls asleep when we drive around, and occasionally around the house.  For now, we will employ the 6:30 bed time, though I let him have the lights on until 7.  Here's hoping for improvement!