Draining, Frustrating, Very Bad, No Good Day

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I'm sitting here this evening - with my second coffee of the day (yea me!) - reflecting on the kind of day I had.

I had a bad day. It was a Sad Mom Day. It's well on its way to being a Mom Gives Up and Hides In Bed Day.

I don't like to be so negative. Usually, as soon as I start to own my bad day, my thoughts immediately start to rebel and I think, "Surely something wasn't so bad today!" Then, the happy part of my brain gets out the frilly stationary and starts to make a list. It's very annoying.

So here I sit purposefully reflecting on my bad day. No one felt cared for or nurtured today. We were all so fragmented that someone's needs were an infringement for someone else. The Girl Child was sad and frustrated. The Boy Child was not feeling well and anxious. I was pretending to be patient which frustrates Mr. A. to the ends of his patience.

In a particularly harried moment between The Boy and his sister, I calmly said, "And that display just earned you both an 8:30 bedtime." I haven't scaled back bedtime in years. In fact, it's been years since they even had a bedtime. We have bedguidelines around here.

I explained to The Girl Child - with The Boy hovering close by - that my parenting toolbox only had so many tools in it. (One of those tools being patience.) If the tools had to be pulled out and used up early in the day, then there wouldn't be any left by the end of the day.

The kids laughed at me. At least the tension was diffused. For the moment.

From there the day continued falling down the hill. The Girl Child dug in her heels and The Boy Child overcompensated.

I thought perhaps a little large muscle activity and sunshine would improve everyone's demeanor. At the very least, a quiet house would improve Mr. A's. I took The Boy, The Girl and The Blue Eyed Bandit downtown. We walked by the river and along the bike trail to my sister's house. I knew she probably wouldn't be home, but the kids didn't know that and the dog didn't care. We ended up walking for an hour. I persisted with my happy patience, The Boy talked a blue streak and The Girl walked four feet behind with her arms crossed. The. Whole. Way.

Later on at home, I cleaned up and made dinner while Mr. A worked late. The kids waited for dinner. I was biding my time. When everyone's blood sugar was sufficiently stabilized I started cleaning up the day's mental and emotional debris.

Throughout the cleanup, I was methodical and precise. The menfolk, bless their hearts, were uncomplicated. Eventually, though, I had to draw very clear lines in the sand between The Girl and I.

I seriously hope it's true that kids test limits because they want boundaries. The Girl Child was reminded of some key boundaries. She wasn't too sure that the boundaries should apply to her. The Girl was reminded that although the boundaries are not flexible, there were certain privileges and 'perks' that are not only flexible, they are downright removable. Imagine how clear and uncluttered those pesky boundaries would be if I were to remove all of that perky privilege!

By bedtime - yes, at 8:30pm - everyone was calm and relaxed. Thank goodness. Pleasant words and kind voices were back in residence. We're all looking forward to tomorrow. Ok, most of us are looking forward to most of tomorrow. There's a science project that is looming over a certain 7th grader's head.

So here I sit questioning myself. My homeschool. My relationships. My parenting path. My decision to take 10th grade 'Clothing' when obviously someone should have been teaching 'How To Parent Your Adolescent'.

I'm hoping the emotional dramatics are hormones and that with patience and loving and lots of talking there will be no permanent damage. I'm hoping that I can find the tools I need to do a better job for all of us.

All on two cups of coffee a day.

Please send chocolate,

Mrs. A


Today Was The Day...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Today was the day that I began to cut back on my caffeine problem habit.

I think - in fact, I'm pretty sure - that I've done this before. A couple bunch of times. I'll spare you the pain and I won't link back to my previous attempts episodes. I'm weak and I have no willpower. It's pathetic.

I tell Mr. A that it is a very good thing that I've lived a squeaky clean lifestyle when it comes to addictive substances. If I ever had the ill-conceived notion to get adventurous with nefarious substances, I'd have been a goner long ago.

I've given up coffee cold-turkey a couple of times. Each time, it took an entire weekend - Friday night 'till Monday morning - before I was remotely ambulatory and partially functioning. Caffeine withdrawal makes me sick. There's a sign or a lesson there that I'm ignoring, isn't there?

It's not the coffee that's the problem. It's the sugar and cream that I doctor it up with that are the real culprits. I'm convinced that white sugar is the devil's work. It's got to be one of the worst substances on the planet that we ingest. Yet I continue to pour it into each and every cup of coffee I prepare. I continue to shout, "Triple, triple!!" into the drive thru speaker box. I thought the little creamers you get at the restaurant were bad with their 10% Real Cream...until I discovered how decadent a cup of coffee can be at home with Table Cream. 18% of creamy, buttery, fatty richness.

Today I distracted myself long enough that it was 2pm before I had my first coffee of the day. By then, my eyes felt like they were being turned inside out, my brain had a pulse and my stomach threatening to.... The Girl Child was experiencing a crisis of dramatic teenage proportions and was taking it out on the rest of us who love her most. I was desperate.

I made a lovely Golden French Toast flavoured coffee in a pail tall travel mug. I looked at all the headroom in the mug and I made another right on top of the first. I poured in a generous estimate of 'enough' sugar, topped it off with cream so it was sloshing out the hole in the lid and the kids and I walked to the rink in time to meet our friends for skating.

Beautiful things happen when you have the perfect cup of coffee. But I digress. I'm supposed to be cutting back not extolling the virtues. So let's just say that I made it through the rest of the day and I have a feeling the coffee(s) helped.

This evening was chaotic busy and challenging. I was finally able to help solve The Girl's crisis, I dealt with Mr. A's in-laws (ahem), got The Boy to his last hockey of the season, pulled off a proper dinner with Mr. A's help in under an hour - cleanup included and I ninja-cleaned without freaking out because we had surprise company stopping by. And I did it all with that pesky raging headache that was plaguing me again. Monday is Laundry Day, folks, not Sit In My Clean House Day. Most people can deal with this kind of business at the end of their day with patience and finesse. Not me. This kind of evening makes me crazy want a coffee. Nice coping mechanism, eh?

So I made a lovely cuppa and - because I'm cutting back - I decided to use be brave and forgo the cream and sugar. Instead, I whacked it with that liquid bravery to cut the bitter coffee taste that I really don't like. Kahlua flavoured bravery is the best.

I'm aiming for two coffees tomorrow. Then I start to cut the good stuff with decaf.

Mrs. A.


Sunday Afternoon

Sunday, March 7, 2010

It's Sunday afternoon and I'm revisiting my blog.

Hello Blog. Long time no see. No pictures today. Keeping it simple.

It seems Spring may have sprung in this neck of the woods. The wind is warmish. Everything's muddy and it just looks dirty out. However, there is sunshine. I went for a walk out at the local conservation area yesterday. There is still a fair covering of snow on the trails - 3 to 4 inches - and there is still thick ice on the water, but there are definitely signs of Spring if you look.

As I do most Springtimes, I am making plans to attend a homeschooling conference. I will attend a smaller conference this year; only an hour from me. I'm thinking of collecting a few local homeschooling moms to drag along. I thought it would be nice to make a day of it. I have secret plans of making a yarn store stop while there. Not only will the conference be motivating and affirming, it will also be stash building! Doesn't get much better than that.

I'm looking toward Summer due to the fact that summer activity registrations are upon us. The Boy Child is registered for outdoor soccer. He was invited to join the competitive league, but we've declined. Making the competitive team means 2 or 3 nights a week plus travelling up to two hours for games. As a family, that's not a commitment we're ready to make. We'd like to be able to have the children do one or two activities during the summer plus still have time for them to do their less structured things: library programs, bike riding, boating, friends, laziness and tomfoolery with the neighbourhood friends.

The Girl Child still has to find an active activity to pursue this Summer. She's decided against soccer and swimming - two things she's enjoyed during past summers. She's not going to do basketball, kayaking or canoeing, baseball or softball, anything at the YMCA, running, biking, road hockey or any kind of dance. I enquired as to whether she would entertain the idea of horseback riding knowing that she would have to chip in for the cost of summer lessons. She's thinking about it. She will be doing some of her 'I'm not going to...' list if only because she'll be dragged along on a family outing. I just haven't told her that yet.

Life with two dogs in the house is interesting. After a few weeks of settling into the new arrangement, The Skittish White Dog has been a little jealous. Crate training has begun in earnest this weekend as the neighbours, with whom we share a wall, are away. If someone is in the house, the puppy (henceforth to be known as The Blue Eyed Bandit) takes quite a while to settle. If we're all gone, then it's about 10 minutes. Nights are slowly getting better. She goes into the crate at 11pm and comes out sometime between 6 and 7:30am. She's getting very solid with her commands in the house. Out of the house...well, let's just say I make sure she's pretty well on her way and has definitely seen the treat when I shout 'come'. All in all, I'm happy we decided to add to our chaos.

I think I'll stop here for today. I'm going to go out with the dogs and enjoy the sunshine before heading to my parents' for a family dinner. My sister and her husband are just home from Jamaica and my brother is going to try to make it (in a timely manner) with his lovely wife and baby. It will be nice to catch up with them.


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