Friday, July 30, 2010

Separated At Birth?

Here we have Food TV's Alton Brown and musician Thomas Dolby. Uncanny.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Everyone's Normal Until You Get to Know Them

What is normal? As kids we think we's whatever we grew up with. That was our normal. Then we get to school and compare ourselves to others and television to figure out yet again what normal is. Was it designer jeans in the closet? (Showing my age here...) The brand of shoes on our feet? Having the latest technology? At some point I remember a kind of shock to learn that not everybody had a fully stocked bar in their house. Everyone that I knew did (well, their parents did), and my neighbor had a tap. It wasn't odd for some of my friends to have wine with dinner, because in their cultural upbringing it was the acceptable thing to do. It wasn't until later in life after witnessing a few jaws drop that I came to realize not everyone grew up that way.

After Hubby came home from work today I showed him the results from the ADHD test. He found it a bit humorous and said it 'explained some things'. Since he's known me for a long time, I asked him to be the second opinion. He answered the statements and scored it how he saw me...until question 17.

There is a lot of 'static' or 'chatter' in my head.

Besides not having a telepathy helmet, he was baffled by the statement. Completely lost. I understood what chatter was without looking it up, because it's something I can't get away from.

Me: You mean you can turn your brain off anytime you want?

H: Yeah. (said matter-of-factly, with a 'Why can't you?' tone.)

Well I can't. It's always been that way, so I don't see it as anything but normal. I don't understand how someone can will their brain to turn off. Perhaps that's why I'm a night owl. Engage my brain to exhaustion, then there won't be a lot of time between hitting the pillow and sleep, thereby circumventing it. Because maybe I can't shut it off, but I can direct it. Which brought us to this statement:

My thoughts bounce around as if my mind is a pinball machine.

Hubby couldn't comprehend this one either. Probably because he can will his brain off. Something, anything from whatever environment I'm in will trigger a ping in my brain and connect it to something in my memory, which will in turn ping and connect it to something else, then something else, then something else. There are rational connections, but unless you were there you probably wouldn't understand them. And to explain it? By the time I've ping-ed about 5 times only a few seconds have passed.

Now a simple online quiz really doesn't say much, other than call the doctor I can't afford. I've been down the ADHD route with my son, who was completely misdiagnosed. The medicines they kept trying nearly bankrupted us, which amounted to teachers attempting to force compliance out of a bright child who simply wouldn't tolerate their busy work. So after witnessing the process, I'm leery of the whole thing. It reminds me of the depression medication. So for now I'll do some more reading, see if this fits (or I'm just really off my rocker), and look into attempting the 'lifestyle' and 'organizational' changes that supposedly help. Of course if I could do those things, I probably wouldn't be here today in the first place.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

You've Been Warned...

Serious ADHD Likely!

While aimlessly surfing the web, I came across this test and decided to take it. The results really aren't that surprising...I mean, I don't call myself a clutter queen for nothing. But on the results page it actually encourages you to copy the code out of the box and put it on your website. As if you'd want to advertise such a thing. I imagine the graphic is a misfiring neuron or something, maybe ready to explode.

Now I realize that ADHD is a serious thing, and I'm not making fun of that. My score was through the roof and I probably need to do all the things it says to do. It would probably answer many things about my life. I'm just not sure that putting their graphic on my page is it.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Sound of Silence, Blogher Style

Last year Hubby and I wrote all these Christmas Carol parodies for our kids. It was a joke, and Kristin egged me on to post them. Truth be told I was too chicken shit, because some stick-in-the-mud would think I was abusing my kids. In reality they just rolled their eyes and went "MOM" in that way where it has two syllables instead of one. Inspiration strikes in weird places. Today 'The Sound of Silence' rolls through my head, Blogher style, complete with alternate ending:

Hello Kristin, my old friend,
We get to share a room again,
At the Hilton in big New York,
and now I'm feeling like a real dork
And the conference
we've come miles to attend,
my best friend,
is known as Blogher

We entered through the doors and saw,
Ten thousand women maybe more,
I screamed "Holy hormones, Batman"
"I think I need to pop some Ativan"
The elevator crammed
while piped-in muzak played,
Our nerves were frayed,
In all the bustle
of Blogher

We went to seminars galore,
Met new friends at Sparklecorn,
"Did you get a lot of swag?"
"How will it all fit in my bag?"
While the bathroom lines
drastically increase in length,
I've got the strength
To wait my turn
at Blogher

Having to call my man was hard,
I think I maxed my credit card
Times Square and 5th Avenue,
I don't have a single clue
how to continue
after eyeing all that swank
And so my bank
just adores Blogher

We pack our things with a slight frown,
My bag weighs a thousand pounds,
After lunch with A.L.I.,
we said our goodbyes
embracing friends
we've just met face to face,
I've made my case,
to return
to Blogher

alternate ending:
How did we end up here in jail?
I hope our husbands can post bail.
Did it happen with our consent?
We meant no malicious intent
The experience would cement this in our brain,
While we refrain
from blame
at Blogher

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Attraction Attachment

Divine likes to watch Animal Planet. As we drove down the road, she announced she finally understood the difference between boys and girls.

Me: "Plumbing." (standard answer)

Divine: "No,'s their BUTTS."

Hubby: (muttering) "...oh my god..."

Divine: "On Animal Planet I noticed it on the puppies! The boy puppies have attraction attachments on their butts so the girl puppies will notice them. It's the fuzzy sack in between their legs, and the darker it is the more the girl puppies are attracted to them!"

Hubby: (snickering) "I smell a blog post coming..."

Truly, what can you say to that? Without launching into a very inappropriate conversation in the presence of her younger siblings?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Cookies in the Car

During last week's heat wave, Kristin casually mentioned the idea of baking cookies in the car. I decided to actually try it. Little T thought it was 'stupid', Hubby thought I was nuts, and the secretary at his office laughed. Divine and Little Man were into it because they wanted cookies. But I didn't do it just for a fun household experiment. See, Little T loves to sneak off and play in my car. She can't understand why this is a problem, even if we find her with sweat pouring down her face. Once she locked herself in Hubby's truck and couldn't get out. Lucky for her we regularly keep tabs on where they all are at all times. At 6 a numerical temperature means nothing to her, so I had her shadow me during our experiment. I wanted to show her that the inside of a car can indeed get as hot as the inside of an oven.

We decided on chocolate chip cookies. Overall the experiment worked. The cookies took longer than the '1 hour' it suggested, but the tops did cook and set. Underneath they were very soft, but it didn't seem to stop everyone from gobbling them down. Most of all, Little T got my point. Fingers crossed, so far it has kept her out of the car!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Awesome Week Ahead!!

For the first time since Divine's birth (she's my first), ALL of my children will be away, regularly, for an ENTIRE 5 DAYS. They're going to a summer day camp! Maybe I should explain why this is so thrilling, other than the obvious...

This little blog is what it is...the confessions of a clutter queen. There's a ton of it in my wee house and it drives me crazy. With 3 kids here all the time (literally), there isn't much breathing room or time to keep after it. I told myself that last September would be my opportunity to finally get this place under control. Little T (my youngest) would enter Kindergarten. But then IT happened. My infamous run-in with the local school that caused me to pull all of my children out and enroll them in cyber-school. While cyber-schooling has done wonders for my children educationally, the house fell into complete disarray. No exaggeration. So while my kids are completely stoked to go to camp, they're quaking in their flip flops because mommy is going through their rooms this week. Well, my daughters anyway. As soon as they came home my girls bolted to their rooms:

Divine: "MOM! Where are my companions?!?!?!?!?! Where is Sweetie's locker?!?! WHY DID YOU MOVE MY STUFF???!!!???"

Me: "I have no idea what you're talking about, and I moved your stuff because the dust bunnies are plotting a hostile takeover. I destroyed their fortress they made from the toys you left on the floor."

Little T: "MOM! Where is B-100????"

Me: "Who?"

Little T: "You KNOW, B-100!"

I really have no clue 'who' they're talking about. They give their animals names, then use it as an excuse to throw a toy grenade on their floor. It explodes in all of those tiny parts that frustrate you on holidays because you have to unravel each piece from the twist ties in the packaging. Of course there's already a drawer in place for these items. There always has been. Did they look there? Or under their beds and furniture where they cram stuff and think I don't know? Nah, it's just easier to yell MOM!

Meanwhile, Little Man comes in the house and walks directly to the video game console. He's completely unconcerned.

Little Man: "Mom, can I have a snack? I'm hungry."

The funny thing is that I really didn't spend much time in their rooms at all. I collected the stray clothes they didn't manage to put in the basket so I could finish the laundry. Maybe that was enough to disturb the delicate balance (or eco-system) of my girls' room. Tomorrow is the day I actually enact my assault on their rooms. I'm planning my arsenal as we speak, because there is concern over what the dust bunnies could do with all of the lost Legos on Little Man's floor. But today a smile plays on my lips because the kids were truly entertaining, and I didn't even do anything yet!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Depression Sucks

I've battled depression for a number of years. Depression isn't something you wake up with one day or decide on. It's years in the making. Some would argue it's your outlook on life, at some point you stop looking for the positive. Maybe for some it's a single cataclysmic event or a series of them. I can't answer any of that. I've read lots of blogs...people dealing with serious, horrible issues, and their strength amazes me. I don't know if their writings are reflective of who they are or if they're just putting on the happy face. I know I'd like to think it's who they are, but I imagine their realities make their positivism something they must fight for daily.

Being in any kind of relationship with a depressive person must be difficult. To try to cheer up the uncheerable all the time would seem like banging your head against a wall. Sometimes I catch myself with my friends, realizing from an outside point of view what it must sound like. It's a sort of weird out-of-body experience, this awareness, but necessary. Healthy, I would say. Otherwise you could just bring down a whole bunch of people. The very people who care about you the most.

Being married to someone with depression...oh my the labrynth it becomes. In public we put on our happy's nobody's business anyway. My children don't need to see it either. They'd never understand, nor should they, the issues that brought me to where I am today, and their needs outweigh anything else. They need a parent who is mentally on and alert. But pushing back the demons all the time don't deal with the underlying issues either. And so we go to the self-help books, websites, the therapist or whatever else. As understanding as a spouse can be, it is taxing over time. That's not even including any issues or expectations they themselves bring to the table.

Now I'll insert my little tidbit of personal experience with anti-depressant drugs here. People believe they're an amazing cure all, but it doesn't exactly work that way. Can they be helpful? Yes. But understand they are non-formulary drugs. This means it will be an out-of-pocket expense every month. Nor are they cheap. I was on Cymbalta for quite awhile. But then it did prescription ran out and I didn't have enough money to fill it. These aren't drugs you can stop on a dime. The warning labels are real, folks. I am very thankful I had the adult mind to realize the thoughts coming into my brain were caused by the abrupt stoppage of medication. But the thoughts were real...and powerful. My husband was very upset when he found out I stopped taking the medication, but I never told him why, other than my 'side-effect' symptoms. For what? So he could feel like dog shit? So we could go through this again maybe next month, or a few months down the road? The reality is it all sounds good. But unless you have the resources to make the financial commitment, don't even start.

All my husband knows is that he wants me to be happy. So he does things, in hopes that it will magically work. He absorbs it like a personal failure when it doesn't. Now this isn't to say I don't appreciate him, because I do. Greatly! He's a loving, hard-working man with integrity, compassion and character. I don't doubt his love for me, and I love him. But it's not his job to make me happy. This is my problem, and I need the time and space to deal with the issues that brought me here today. But that's the kicker, isn't it? Time and space. Like all people, we have responsibilities and commitments. Children that require time and attention, or perhaps a job. The issues get pushed to the back burner because they have to be. One day, we think. But the reality is that day never comes. Life happens.

Today I was given the impossible ultimatum: get happy or my marriage is in jeopardy. I recognize his feelings, but really I don't even know how to begin to address this. How? If I could do it on my own, I would have by now. It seems like an impossible mountain to climb. I could put on the happy face, never say a word...a marriage in slow death. Hell, I don't even know if I could pull off that good of an acting job. I always thought that somewhere in life would be that place where I could be me, but it just doesn't seem that way.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Door to Door Salesmanship

Today I had one of those door to door salespeople come to my door attempting to sell us 'educational' books. The exchange was so entertaining I just had to share it. Perhaps you've seen these people, they're college interns attempting to make a few bucks working for The Southwestern Company. The kids stay with a host family in a completely different place and peddle books all summer. The guy who showed up at our door's name was Tyler. Tyler from Nebraska. He was a nicely dressed, clean cut kid. I kinda felt sorry for him because I figured he worked for a scam outfit that cashes in on the naivete of their employees.

His first mistake was to try to enter my house. I think it's rude for a stranger to assume he/she can enter your home. He was probably hoping we had A/C, which we don't. It's been 102 degrees for the past 3 days, so I was out back watching my kids swim in their pool. I led him around the house to the back. Next he had to face Justice. Justice is no longer a cute, little puppy, but a rambunctious 70 pounder who's still learning manners. Justice is very protective, but Tyler passed his radar. We sit at the table on the back porch and Tyler begins his spiel; the one they must teach him at the Southwestern sales school. I politely listen.

"Are you the one who makes the decisions regarding education?" he asks. Isolationism.... I inform him that my husband and I make those decisions together. He goes on about how he'll only be in town today. Pressure attempt.... From there it gets downright laughable.

While this continues, I notice Tyler's 'list'. I'm getting even worse vibes about this company. Not only was it a listing of names and addresses, but their occupations. Public information is one thing, but it seemed like this company was stalking our town.

"Do you know Mrs. Brown? She teaches at the school." Of course I know her. She was the one who allowed Divine to read during math class and the reason I pulled her out of that school. Tyer alludes that teachers use his books as reference materials to help their students learn in a variety of ways, but never actually says whether Mrs. Brown actually bought the books. Not that it would matter; if she did it probably would have sent me running, but I was planning to do that anyway. I inform him my children attend a cyber school.

"I noticed that parents here are very involved in their children's education." Okay Tyler, don't patronize me. Your peer pressure tactic isn't working. I want him to cut to the chase, so I flat out ask him to show me the books. He whips out his condensed volume and flips to the math section, where he goes on about how confusing it is for students because of the way the texts are organized.

"Each chapter introduces a new concept, then the problems get harder, right?" I can't help myself anymore. "No, each chapter introduces a new concept on a basic level, has problems to correspond with the new concept, then each subsection introduces the next step to gradually increase difficulty with subsequent problems for students to practice in each subsection." I'm getting the idea that Southwestern's premise is that parents really aren't aware of their children's curriculum.

Tyler's next tactic is to show me how the books are designed go through high school and college. In other words, when my kids get into advanced math, I won't be able to help them anymore. Again, patronizing. What he doesn't know is that I'm married to the human calculator. Hubby loves math. He does nothing but math all day as an Estimator and Project Manager. Then he comes home to work on his continuing education classes in exciting (sarcasm here) subjects like Accounting (1&2), Advanced Algebra and Business Law.

Sensing he may have chosen the wrong subject material, Tyler shoots to English and Grammar. Now I'm really feeling sorry for him, since that was my major in college, as was education. He asks me if I know when to use a semi-colon or a comma. I answer in great detail. Poor guy, I'm probably the only person in town that has two grammar books sitting on her shelf, as well as an MLA. I feel bad for him because the company he works for assumes people are idiots. They assume parents don't have the motivation or desire to peer into their child's textbooks. For all Tyler's yammer about 'noticing parental involvement in their children's education', it's all a sham. His company assumes differently and uses that lip service to pressure people.

Divine is insanely curious (nosey), so she is nearby listening. As a last ditch effort Tyler shows her his book and asks her if she would use it to help her in school. Divine laughs. "No."

How Technology has REALLY Changed Motherhood

I love my 2nd gen. Shuffle. I clip it onto my shirt, crank up the volume and have relative peace because I can't hear my kids. When their lips move, I just yell "WHAT? SORRY I CAN'T HEAR YOU!" Technology has done wonders for motherhood. We use our digital cameras to capture those priceless moments our husbands would never believe actually happen because we cleaned it up before they got home. Then we blog about it to embarrass our kids just enough to make sure they never EVER do it again. But opportunity never presented itself so lavishly until Divine begged for an iPod Nano. It had to be the NEW one of course, with the video camera. The answer was immediate: NO. We cited oodles of lost DS games and the cyclone she calls her bedroom. But since her birthday and Christmas practically stack each other, she pooled all her resources. After one of her gifts didn't work (a real cheap digital camera), she decided to return it for the cash to put her in buying range.

Divine uses her Nano constantly. So constantly I had to take it away because she was playing with it during class. My kids go to a cyber school, but only Divine has classes on the computer in a Virtual Classroom. While she's there I teach Little Man and Little T. After confiscating it, I set it up from a distance to capture what she does while she's supposed to be paying attention in class. It's so slim and compact she never saw it. No tell-tale cords or red light. Hubby and I use the voice recorder to deliver messages like "If you're in bed and listening to this, you're grounded!" or "Clean your room, pick up your toys!" then set it to repeat and play. Divine created her own 'web show' (after iCarly) and I hijack it all the time. As much as she pretends to hate it, I think she secretly loves the attention she gets because the camera is still on her.

The torturing possibilities are endless. By far though the best gift it's given me is peace in the car. I can download TV episodes (some of their favorites were recently available to download for free), and all 3 kids huddle around the little screen. No fighting, just giggles as we go down the road. It's also given me the opportunity to introduce them to some of my childhood favorites, like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner. They love it so much that Little Man decided it was the only thing he wanted for his birthday months later. He forked over all his birthday money and we kicked in the rest. Now he records himself playing video games. *sigh*.

So, I've decided that I'd like an Ipod Nano too. Occasionally I make up songs on the fly. They usually involve my children and disciplinary action set to familiar tunes. My friends tell me I need to blog about them, but by the time I can actually sit down and type, it's gone out of my head. I'll put those 'cute but slightly embarassing' baby photos on it to show friends, relatives and complete strangers in front of them. I can envision it standing in line at the pharmacy, perhaps the typical 'baby in the bath' photo while casually mentioning that we're there to pick up their acne medication.

Thinking ahead, the day will come all too soon that they will want their own cell phones. Right now I live in a dead zone, so I can stave that off at least for awhile. But one of those 'app' phones would be ideal, just for the GPS function that tracks your kids' phones. Noting their location, I could call them up warning them not to use the bathroom at 'that seedy place' should they happen to need to go. Should they decide to not answer when my number appears it's no matter. I'll just text it. They'll know I'm watching. See, the glory of technology isn't all the gadgets, but how to use them in a manner where my kids understand they're accountable...whether they're at home or not.