Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Day in the Life...and it is killing me.

You know when you have a day where it seems every minute is planned?  I had one of those days today.  In fact, every day since school began has been those days.  I wanted to document just one day in order to remember when I am old, the kids are gone, and I am retired and I declare to my now adult children, "I am so busy!"

4:45 am  Alarm goes off.  I lie there for a couple of minutes, debating whether I am actually going to get up or not. I do this almost every morning I have to use an alarm clock.  I don't know why I do it.

4:48 am  Crawl into Ethan's bed to wake him up, secretly hoping he says he can't possibly go to swim practice so I can return to bed.

4: 50 am Throw on work-out clothes and walk to kitchen to discover Ethan has forgotten to pack a lunch so I throw a sandwich, some grapes and a granola bar in a bag.  I remembered to have Ethan take all school and swim stuff into the car the night before - score one for me.

5:00 am  Head out to swim practice.  Notice that my left pinkie, end digit is very sore.  Wonder if it is possible to sleep the wrong way on your the end digit of your pinkie.  Realize that it is a ridiculous thought and I must be tired if I am spending time on it.

5:05 am Realize Ethan is wearing flip flops and has not packed his tennis shoes in his swim bag, return home because he cannot wear flip flops to school

5:12 am Head back out to swim practice

5:29 am Arrive at practice nearly 15 minutes late.  Chat briefly with another swim mom (commiserating, really) and head to the treadmill

6:15 am End work out, head to car to get gas and coffee

6:30 am Sit in lobby of sports center and work on homeschool planning for October in history and science.

7:25 am Ethan finishes practice, showers and we head to school

7:40 am  Help Ethan into school with large backpack, lunch in a plastic grocery bag because he forgot his lunch box the day before, trumpet case, and large cardboard box covered in black paper to look like a car for a skit he had later today.  We slapped it together last night as that was when I was notified of the need.

8:00 am Return home to find girls in kitchen finishing up breakfast and Jay in the shower.  On the way home receive call from my mother reminding me that she would not teach Sadie Latin later today.  I laughed at her "reminder" because I hardly remembered our initial conversation.  Think to myself that it is probably a good thing that she doesn't have Latin because I can use that extra time to get a lot of things done.  That ended up being a misconception that I will note further in the day.

8:15 am Change out laundry, check email, squawk at girls to head upstairs to get dressed and head to the bonus room to being school.

11:15 am  Several moments of huffing and puffing/borderline fits and school is done.  I realize that although Sadie does not have Latin, they still have piano at 1 pm and I don't have the 3.5 hours I thought until I had to pick up Ethan.  I really only have 2.

Tell the girls to finish getting ready, crush their teeth, grab some lunch. I jump into the shower.  While half-dressed, I call the vet to see I can drop off our dog, Bobo, our one-eyed, thirteen-year-old, almost deaf mutt.  He has about eaten himself up with his annual dermatitis/allergies and needs a steroid shot.  I also note in my call history that the Honda place had returned my call from the previous day.  I had completely forgotten I made the initial call to drop my van by for some repairs. 

11:55 am  Throw 2 girls, 2 piano bags, and one mangy looking dog into the van.  Start to pull out of the garage when I realize that I need to unload the van as the dealership might have it for several days.  Start dumping contents of the trunk of my car (swim bags, etc.) onto the floor of the kitchen.

12:10 pm Arrive at vets.  As always in September, I am appalled at the "look" of my dog, Bobo, when I have to take him in.  Half the hair on his back is gone and there is always one or two really nasty looking spots.  He can accomplish this look in about 3-5 days and the vet assures me that it is ok.  While waiting for the vet tech to come collect Bobo for his medicated bath and shot, another man waiting in the lobby said, "Got werms?" in a very southern drawl.  I said in a tad of a prideful voice, "Oh no, he just has allergies.  We have to come every September to get this done."  The man replied, "Well, a wer-em just came outta he-is butt."  Sure enough. Indeed, there was a small worm hanging from you know where.  Ugh!  My dog had tape worms from a flea he ingested somewhere between a month or six months ago.  My thoughts raced to the fact that we have had him indoors a lot lately. 

12:30 pm Call Honda to make sure a shuttle was available to take us to the office once we dropped off the car. En route to the Honda dealership, some ding dong was riding his bike without a helmet on Westchester Drive.  Not only did he not have a helmet, but I think his brakes didn't work.  He tried to use his feet as brakes on a steep incline while riding in the gutter and nearly fell off his bike and into my path.  I said lots of prayers, slammed on the brakes, and emitted a slight shriek.  Thankfully, he recovered control of his bike and then looked at me as if I had done something wrong.

12:40 pm Arrive at Honda.  List the myriad of issues with my car.  Making sure they noted that the passenger sliding door has still had plenty of problems despite me randomly bringing by and leaving it to their disposal (once for 4 days) to repair.  It had never malfunctioned in their care.  I was redeemed this time because it didn't open when I pushed the button.  Yes!  Call Jay to tell him to have the spare car ready at the office.  He said he didn't have time because his conference call with the Employment Security Commission was in 10 minutes for a former employee who quit his job and was trying to collect unemployment.  Hope for the best as we are shuttled to the office with 2 girls, 2 piano bags, my overloaded pocket book and a booster seat.  For once, I remembered to grab the garage door opener!

12:54 pm Arrive at Jay's office.  Note the spare car out front.  Yay for Jay!  Run into to collect keys.  Have girls dump all things into the car.  Realize that the last person to use the radio was listening to a rap station.  The radio is slow to respond to the controls, and I was afraid we were going to have to listen to it for the remainder of our drives.  However, it finally responded to my repeated turning of the volume and power switch.

12:55 pm Run to piano, knowing we will be about 5 minutes late. Lily works on her piano theory while we wait and I eat chocolate dusted almonds.  I realize it was the first thing I have eaten all day.  I have had 2 VERY large cups of coffee, however.  Receive text from a friend who inquires if I want to get botox with her.

1:30 pm Sadie returns to the car and Lily goes in.  I think I have enough time to run to Staples to pick-up Ethan's student council poster.  He was willing to pay the $8 for the print-out with his own money.  I uploaded it last night.  As I leave the piano teacher's house, I receive a call from Staples that they had problems all morning with their computers and had not printed the poster.  However, they wanted to confirm one thing before they did.  I told them I was on my way and they said they would have it ready.

1:42 pm  Arrive at Staples.  Sadie runs to the bathroom.  I collect the poster and am happy to hear they will not charge me the standard $5 rush fee since I requested to have it completed prior to 24 hours.  I didn't know about the fee, so their computer glitch turned out to be a blessing.  By this time Sadie arrived at the print counter with some more mechanical pencils.  I told her no.  She retreated and returned with the lead refills.  That purchase made us late to return to the piano teacher's house and I was irritated.

2:05 pm Arrive at piano teacher's house to see Lily sitting on the front porch.  I see her mouthing the words, "Why are you late?"  Before she gets in the car, I tell Sadie she has to tell her why.  When Lily hops in the car, Sadie offers her some Sour Patch Candy straws as a peace offering.  She also offers Lily 2 candy dots.  Lily offers her the sucker she has just picked from the goodie box at piano.  After Lily gets the 2 candy dots, she reneges on the sucker.  An ensuing tiff begins in the back seat.  In the end, Lily takes one lick of the sucker and gives it to Sadie who happily finishes it.

2:30 pm  Arrive at school to pick-up Ethan.  Have poster in hand.  Ethan takes it to show his class mates in the pick-up line and is thrilled with it.  We take it upstairs to his homeroom so it is ready to hang.  I make Ethan look for the Student Council application in his locker which he hasn't been able to locate.  We don't find it, so we grab another copy from his teacher's desk.  I connect with the Language teacher who prints out a final make-up quiz Ethan needs to take.  Then I connect with the Spanish teacher as we are leaving who indicates Ethan will have a make-up quiz on Friday on material he knows nothing about.  Great.

3:00 pm  Leave the school, calling to see if Bobo is ready for pick-up and most importantly, if he has been de-wormed.  He is ready.  Also note that I have once again missed the call from Honda.  Returning their call, I learned that they have discovered my problem with the door is a latch issue.  They also said the terrible rattling in my steering wheel when braking is from warped rotators.  I need a brake job.  Ka-ching.  I turn down the 90,000 mile service checks as most had either been done or to me could wait.  They did say that I needed a steering wheel flush/change and something else I can't recall.  I opted for those two as they never offer me services like that.  Finally, and the best of all...they are going to shampoo my carpets for me...FOR FREE!!!! I don't care if it was out of pity - as I am sure it was - I feel so blessed!  The car will probably be ready late Friday or Monday, depending on parts.

3:15 pm  Pick-up Bobo, pay $74.  One more medicine dose and the worms are history.  Listen to the kids crack up about the "wer-ems in your butt" story the entire way home and finally banished that line altogether for the rest of the day.

4:00 pm Arrive home,  Ethan begins homework.  Chores doled out and I decide to lie down for just 30 minutes because I cannot think straight.  Check email, and return several.  Five minutes after I am settled into bed, I hear Jay is home. Decide to nap anyway even though it is already 4:30 pm 

5:15 pm Wake-up in a complete pool of drool.  Realize that I don't have the motivation or time to make stuffed peppers.  I have never made that recipe before, nor have I ever eaten them.  I just have a TON of green peppers from my garden and need to do something with them.  Decide to make a quick, homemade soup instead and beg forgiveness. 

6:00 pm  Eat dinner, clean-up kitchen, start dishwasher, check-in with Ethan who is working on his Student Council application.  Change out laundry.  Fold laundry while sitting with family while watching River Monsters.  Totally didn't like that show.  Jay sends Lily to take a shower.  I dole out the final "clean-up your rooms, stairs, and shoes" warnings.  I end up having to help Lily with her shower and brush her hair.

7: 30 pm Last details of clean-up chore gets done.  Lily requests a desert and a little tv time.  Sadie still puttering around upstairs.  Ethan is done and has some computer time. 

8:15 pm Everyone sent to bed.  Ethan begs for some more time as he is in 6th grade.  Jay indulges and tells him he must be in bed by 9 pm - his responsibility to keep up with the time and there are consequences if he isn't in bed by then.  Jay asks me if he should go ahead and give him his punishment now.

8:30 pm  I am in bed writing this blog.  I am reminded about my sore pinkie.  I ask Jay what he thinks.  He comes up with some ridiculous response and I realize that asking him was about as stupid as thinking about it this morning at 5:00 am.

Is this a normal day for most moms?  I mean...this is every day for me.  How to stop this out of control train?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

This is how life is rolling these days at the Dumoulin house...

Last week, I went to 7 doctors appointments. One for Ethan, one for Lily and 5, yes, 5 for me.

Ethan's appointment was to confirm no additional complications from a marathon viral infection that lastest 12 days, missing 6 days of school. This week he is finally recovering some of his energy he lost from a constant fever for that long. He has just stopped falling asleep mid-day, yet still has a random cough that produces gags.  He is slowly returning to normal.

Lily's appointment was in Greensboro with her pediatric opthamologist. She will have eye surgery sometime in the next month for her accomodating esotropia. Her very strong glasses are not fully correcting her vision issues, so they will cut the muscle to tighten it. This procedure is done at a day surgery center and lasts about 20 minutes. I believe there is some discomfort the first day or two and then a week of a bloody looking eye, reminiscient of the worst pink eye you have seen.  Poor Lily.

My situation was a little more complicated, but the results were very positive. I had an MRI and mammogram and an appointment with my OB-GYN all in the same day (3 appointments right there). Talk about being exposed, poked, and prodded. I felt just one step away from porn status, really. As usual with my situation, I am declaring war with my insurance company over the MRI which is recommended by every medical board with my life-time risk of breast cancer being over 20%. It is actually 26%, but when you get over 20% does it really matter? Regardless, they won't cover it, which means $1,400 out of pocket for me each and every time. Aren't they gems?

The remaining two appointments were because they found some area of concern on my MRI. This the third time this has happened. Their recommendation was to biopsy the area assisted by MRI. After the procedure I was sent for another mammogram to note the location of an injected clip. The clip is used to mark where they collected the tissue. All very heavy and all very irritating at the same time. Not too emotional this go around, but more like, why is this happening again? At what point will I not have any tissues left to take? My MRI tech was quite a "McDreamy" making it all very interesting to be sitting there with the front of my gown open, exposing one side. However, my doctor pretty much destroyed that enjoyment by squeezing my boob as if checking to see if the melon were ripe...right in front of him. To be more accurate, I should say squeezing like a peach, as she tried to control the bleeding of the biopsy entry point. Nothing says "hot" like having steri-strips and neosporin gooped on the side of you, while incoherently saying you are fine with a gigantic red mark on your forehead from laying face down on your stomach for 30-45 minutes. The bottom line and fantastic news is that the results were negative for anything cancerous. Now, I just need to decide how much it is worth to continue with these "recommended" tests.  I am also reconsidering genetic testing although that isn't fool-proof either.
Ethan is running for student council, thinking about a hip hop dance class and participating in Cotillion. For those not in the south, Cotillion is a class that teaches manners, etiquette, and basic dance skills. Ironically, we were 30 minutes late to the first class as I wrote the time down incorrectly. Who is late for a class on etiquette?  The Dumoulins. 

The hip hop dance thing is unsettling to me. I know I am being ridiculous, but sometimes I just live in the 19th century, ok? He even said he was ok with taking jazz or tap if he had to as he might "enjoy" that. Gosh, I hope he really wants to do this because he knows he can meet some girls. Either way, as this "interest" sinks in, we will play the waiting game on exploring our options.

We, meaning Ethan, resumed morning swim practices today. I am most thrilled to report that our gracious coach has delayed the start of practice by 15 minutes. Now, I only have to have Ethan at the Sports Center at 5:15 am instead of 5:00 am. Nice. Wake-up time is an easy 4:45...still considered to be the night before, not this morning by me. When I returned home at 8 am, I had taken Ethan to practice, worked-out (translation: walked on a treadmill for 30 minutes at 3.5), made a run to Wal-Mart (NO ONE is at Wal-Mart at 6:15 am), grabbed a cup of coffee at Chik-fil-a, picked Ethan back up and hauled him to school. Of course, he left his gym clothes in the car which meant another trip to the school. However, I thought my productivity prior to 8 am was pretty admirable considering I can easily sleep until 9:30 or 10 am on weekends. Deep down, could I be a morning person? No. It is all because I love my son. It is now 12:30 pm as I type this and I can hardly keep my eyes open. Did I say how much I love my son? By the way, it was a first for me to go into a Wal-Mart while it was dark, only to exit when it was getting light. I thought people only did that when they went to bars in Europe.

Lily has taken to shouting out random math problems throughout the day.  Yesterday afternoon, as she lounged on our oversized chair in the kitchen, she announced that 700 plus 600 equals 1300.  Cuddling up with me before bed, she did a borrowing subtraction problem with 3-digit numbers out loud, without paper. If you don't know what that is, I think it was something like 318-189=129.  She is nutso over math and I do not get it at all.

What other ridiculousness is going on our family, you ask? Well, homeschool, of course. How does one homeschool when at at doctor's office more than her own house? Well, she doesn't. Complete fail last week for the most part. Here's another eye opener...using the instructor's manual is actually a helpful thing when teaching math. Sometimes I wonder how my children know anything. For the first time in our brief homeschooling journey, I have given up on a curriculum choice for one of my girls. The bible course I used with Sadie during 3rd grade is just too difficult for Lily. Words like attributes, polytheism, and atheist are not ones Lily can retain. At. all. Time to do some research.  Today we had some success with two little experiments in science.  One was throwing marbles in bowls of flour to demonstrate how craters are made and the impact they have on a planet's surface.  The other was melting butter to pour over custard bowl which was covered in four.  This was to mimic a volcanic eruption.  The key part to this was that when the butter cools, it hardens up a bit like the lava does when it cools. 

I have found that here is little substitute for the retention of information than hands-on study and/or video enforcement.  To compliment our study of Australia, our family watched a great documentary about Australia Saturday morning.  The kids squawked a bit through it and I threatened to give them a pop quiz.  Afterall, I am the teacher.  I can do that sort of thing.  In the end though, we all learned a lot and each child could give me 2-3 different facts about Australia.  Netflix has become our greatest ally in this type of teaching. Once we complete our notebook section on Australia, they might be ready to go eat some vegemite!  Next up...AFRICA in our semester of World Geogrpahy!  I have about 6 movies in the queue.  That will probably send them over the edge. 

As I down my third cup of caffiene today, I wonder how I will get anything else done.  The projects just keep piling up and home maintenance keeps getting shoved farther and farther down the list.  My view is that if God wanted me to get them done, then He would give me the time.  Right?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

There are times in your life, moments really, when you know what you are experiencing can only be the work of God. I am in one of those moments.  There have been four of these clear touches over the last two weeks.  It has left me stunned. 

I had been struggling with several situations over the past month or so.  I could not let the emotions of the situations go.  They circled my brain constantly and I allowed them to taint other relationships.  I allowed them to control me.  It made me angry and bitter. Angry because of how people were behaving and angry because I allowed it to impact me.  Bitter because their behavior was negatively impacting those I loved and bitter because I couldn't make it right.

My relationship with God has been rather lax over the past 4 years.  Sure, there have been moments of clarity, but largely murky and undefined.  My purposeful commitment, my focus, my drive were simply missing.  Someone told me that it takes fives years to "recover" from a traumatic life event.  I have experienced that, as I round into the 5th anniversary of my sister's passing.  I can recognize this same journey in another friend who is about 1-2 years behind me.

Over this past month, I was so mired and wrapped up in such mess that I could not think straight.  I could not release it.  At the bottom of the pit, I had a confront the issue head on which would have resulted nothing short of total disaster, permanently destroying relationships.  OR, I could turn it all over to God. 

It was late, late one night in August as I was trying to fall asleep. Future confrontational conversations were swirling and playing out in my head as it had for nearly a month.  I felt my shoulders tense, my head began to pound, my anger rose.  At that moment, I was utterly defeated.  I let out an audible sigh.  Then, I slowly and timidly slid my toe into the waters of forgiveness and restoration.  My conversation was brief, yet to the point. Take it all, God, take it all from me.... take the thoughts, the irritations and bitterness, and take my hurt.  Help me to forget this.  Help me to stop the negative feelings.  Remove it all.  I woke up several times during the night and prayed the same prayer.  Take it ALL.

From that time forward I have continued to receive confirmation that God is at work.  Little signs that may appear to be insignificant alone, but together you just know.  The timing of these moments are so perfect in their execution that they are the work of the perfecter of my faith.  The all-consuming thoughts have now been reduced to fleeting moments.  The time spent dwelling replaced with praise and prayers.  My vision to this journey is that I used to have a little piece of yarn running between God and me, thin and a little limp. Now, I have this thick cord, strong, full of lots of little cords all woven together. 

My gratitude has been so overwhelming that I nearly fell to my knees at one point.  Not only do I see the impact in my own heart, I see it in my family.  Sadie brought me her bible last night which she had marked in several places.  She wanted to discuss some of what she read.  The others have amped up their praying, though I have not prodded them.  My own focus has been in growing in Him, trusting Him. 

I am in awe.  I would even go so far as to say shocked.  I don't know why I am as He has never left me.  He has always been there.  My eyes were elsewhere so I did not see or feel His presence.  Lord, give me the strength to never let my eyes stray again.  Life is too good where I am now.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Where Was I?

I was seven months pregnant and had an early morning ob-gyn appointment.  I left the appointment and headed to my job as an Account Manager for a publication serving the home furnishings industry.  As I pulled into the parking lot, I remember distinctly, the radio dj announcing that a "small plane, like a cessna" had hit one of the World Trade Towers.  At that point, it appeared to be an errant plane and I was amazed that a building could withstand a plane hit and not collapse.  As I made my way to my cubicle, I noticed my colleagues crowded into my boss's office glued to the television, silent.  I walked in and was quickly given the update.  One large plane into one of the towers.  As we sat there, we watched the next plane fly into the other tower.  I remember being completely stunned. The pit in my stomach growing as each minute passed.  Watching the faces of those in NY, everyone trying to make sense of it all.  I remember being the only one who could actually access CNN online.  I don't know how or why, but I was.  Then, the plane hit the pentagon.  I recall telling this news to some colleagues on the floor below us.  Their reaction full of fear and disbelief.  I wondered if this meant we were at war and with whom.  I wondered what this meant for my 15 month old and my unborn daughter. The first tower fell and the inescapable moans and "oh no, no, nos" of those watching these events around that small television added to the tension and panic in the air. Out of our office windows, we watched plane after plane being diverted to our airport.  There was no work to do that day as everything in the world seemed insignificant to what was unfolding on the television.  Local news alerted us to heightened security around the large propane gas field directly across the street from our office complex.  We were told to go home. I am sure that I made phone calls to family and friends, glued to the television the rest of the day at home, but honestly, the rest of the day is lost.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Things I Find Fantastic

1. Fishing
2. Kettle Chips
3. Alone time with my family of five
4. Teaching History
5. Chicken Curry dish at Saffron India Restaurant
6. Researching chickens- as in raising them
7. Homemade French Toast with real french toast
8. Decorative edge paper punches
9. Duck Tape crafts
10. Foreign language films, particularly the run of Dutch ones Jay has played every night

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Not Today.

I am hiding in my room.  Yes, hiding.  For the moment I cannot deal with my middle child, my stomping, slinging, irritated, grumpy, frustrated middle child.  All of this energetic display over...long division.  She knows how to do it, but just doesn't want to do it.  Can I blame her?  I hated it.  Yet, the workbook pages are there, empty, waiting.  Not only does she not want to do it, but she doesn't want to keep the problems "in line."  She wants to do it her way and wants to understand fully why she must keep it looking orderly.  I am not about to explain dividing decimals to her at this point.  She just doesn't like how it looks to have a remainder dangling out there in space, not above a line.  I just walked out of the room.  Not going to entertain her today.  Not going to give her an excuse as to why she is still at her desk after we have picked Ethan up from school.  Not going to argue or console or assist her to the point of doing the work for her.  Not going to do it today.  The burden is hers, not mine.  So, I hide.