Friday, November 18, 2011

She's still scared of me :(

I was tucking my daughter in two nights ago and asked her if she had had anymore bad dreams. She hesitated but admitted that yes she had. I asked her what happened and after a pause she said she dreamt that I threw her down the stairs. At that point I started to cry. She gave me a big hug, and I asked her if she really thought I would ever hurt her and she said no. I told her she's right I love her very much and I would never hurt her. We stood there for a long time hugging and finally I tucked her in.

At that point I went in to my room. I sat there for a while in the dark and cried some more. My husband came in after a while and told me that I'm putting too much weight into a 7 year olds interpretation of her dream (probably true), that she's a great kid which he credits me for since he works so much (true) and that she loves me, and knows that I love her (true).

I don't know why she is having the dreams. I will admit I raise my voice more than I'd like. I have never physically hurt her or her siblings nor have I threatened too. I hope that with some extra hugs and positive attention her subconscious will catch up with the reality that she knows I love her and she'll go back to having happy dreams again.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me

It was my birthday yesterday. My husband was working over the weekend and my daughter was in the school variety show so we didn't do any pre-birthday festivities. My parents are in town and not really able to babysit. They could certainly handle the older two, but my little guy is strong and sometimes fights me on diaper changes and things. I leave the house without bringing all the kids with me on short trips but would feel awkward asking them to sit for a night so my husband and I could go out. And fact of the matter is we can't afford a night out at the moment given the mess I've made of our finances.

So yesterday began like any other day, getting kids to school, and then running errands with my parents. That evening my husband called to say he would be home around 630 and asked what was for dinner. I got upset and told him since it was my birthday I wasn't going to cook, so I assumed they had made plans. He hadn't so I ended up ordering a pizza. After dinner the kids reset the table and we had cake and the kids gave me a card and the Steve Jobs bio.

What annoyed me the most was that despite the fact that yes he was working this weekend, it's not like my birthday was a surprise. He remembers important dates, and our oldest had already told me that she talked to him about stuff she wanted to do. When we went to bed, I basically told him that next year we may as well skip my birthday, cause what's the point. A bit dramatic maybe but still.

Today when I woke up I realized the problem isn't him and what he did. It's me. It is true that Mom's birthdays do kind of get overlooked even though we are the ones organizing everyone else's. (I don't remember doing much for my Mom's birthday when we were kids). The root of the problem though is that I'm still in this big funk, and can't figure out how to get out of it. Money is part of the problem but so is the lack of having good friends to go out with on my own. My husband has made some new friends recently through Indian Princess and work, and has been going to hockey and football games with these people. Fun for him, and while I don't begrudge him his fun time, I am jealous (of him having friends and of how much easier it is for guys to make friends).

We talked for a while and some more the next night. The next night I admitted that I shouldn't have gotten so upset, and told him I've just been in this funk I can't get out it.

As I'm writing this I all of a sudden get U2 "Stuck in a Moment" in my head, started playing it on my iPod and now have Bono trying to cheer me up. Admittedly some of the lyrics are a bit of snap out of it. I liked this part...

Youve got to get yourself together
Youve got stuck in a moment
And you can't get out of it
Don't say that later will be better
Now you're stuck in a moment
And you can't get out of it

And if the night runs over
And if the day wont last
And if our way should falter
Along the stony pass
Its just a moment
This time will pass

Now if I could just get myself to do it. My husband understands and supports my need to have time for me, and opportunities to meet new people, I just find it hard. Sometimes I feel like since I spend almost all my time with my kids, I don't really have anything else to contribute to an adult conversation. I know I'm being too hard on myself, and I just need to find something to make me happy again.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

She's scared of me?

Last night I was trying to help my daughter with her vocabulary homework and she started getting frustrated, which got me frustrated. I started to yell and told her that if she didn't want my help, then she could do it herself. She got more upset, started to cry and then told me that she's scared of me. She even said that sometimes she has bad dreams that I get so upset that I pick her up and throw her on the floor. Wow! I have never physically harmed any of my children and do not believe in spanking. I know words can hurt but I never realized that when I raised my voice I was hurting her that much. I don't call my children names, and try to be careful about the words I choose when I do get upset with them. Obviously I am failing miserably.

When she told me this I was shocked, I brought her in to the family room, sat her down, gave her a big hug and apologized. I asked her why she had never told me this before and she said she didn't want to embarrass me. I promised her I will try much much harder to control my temper and choose my words more carefully. I also asked (calmly this time) that if she gets frustrated at her homework, and if asks me for help, that she listen to the help I give, and if she still doesn't understand we will work through it together.

I have been trying to reach her to manage her time better so that if an assignment takes longer than she thought, she doesn't get so nervous about not finishing in time, since that's usually the main reason for her frustration. I don't make her do her homework the minute she gets home from school, but we talk about when she will start. If the time she picks seems reasonable I agree and let her do what she wants until that time comes. Lately when I remind her that the time has come, she gets annoyed, that she has to stop playing. I've tried to explain to her that the earlier she starts the sooner she'll be done and the easier it is for me to help her. Once I need to start making dinner it gets harder for me to focus, and then she has a harder time focusing too.

We started today with everyone in a good mood, hugs all around as usual. Everyone got ready for school in time (and even went quickly enough that I had time to shower - which improves my mood considerably). She ran off to school with a smile and will greet me with a big hug when she is dismissed, as she always does.

Luckily this afternoon is pretty calm, home for snack followed by piano lesson and no homework tonight. Should make it easy for me to keep my cool. I sure hope so.

I never had a temper before I had kids. If something upset me I would cry not yell. I don't know when that changed or why, all I know is I don't like the way i'm acting and it needs to stop. Luckily with my parents arriving today, I won't raise my voice as much with the kids as I'm more aware of what I'm doing when other people are around.

I feel bad that she doesn't get as much good time with me as the younger two, and hopefully will be able to make that happen more while my parents are here (and next month when my in laws are here).

Parents visiting

My parents are coming to visit and staying til the end of the month. In the past they were very easy houseguests, going along with whatever I needed to do, coming to kids' activities with me, and shopping for things they can't easily get at home. The best part was if I didn't feel like doing anything they were perfectly content to stay at home and read or just be. No special plans necessary. My Mom usually helps with cooking and laundry just to be helpful, which is wonderful. She's always been careful not to overstep any bounds (something I know other peoples Mom's do)

For the first time, I'm a bit anxious about their visit. I haven't seem them in the past 10 months and in that time my father's mental health has slowly begun to deteriorate. He hasn't officially been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or anything, but according to my Mom he misplaces things a lot, forgets words and gets very frustrated about it. I had already noticed this when they were last visiting but apparently it has gotten worse. His frustration gets my Mom frustrated as well. Sometimes when I talk to them on the phone, they start bickering at each other, which they never really used to do.

Despite her MS she has started driving again, figuring it's better for her to do it than him. When I talked with her on the phone the other day I basically had to force her to tell me these things, and she would only talk about it after my Dad had left the house to take the dog for a walk. She said we would definitely notice a difference in him. I went back and forth with what if anything to tell the kids. My husband recommended not to figuring that then they would be looking for it. He's probably right, and then if they notice anything, they are usually trained well enough not to bring it up in front of them. I guess so far the things he's forgetting are small things. It's not as though he won't remember who the kids are or anything.

I think they both need a break from their daily routine at home where it is really just the two of them all day almost every day. They've travelled extensively their entire lives but can't really travel except to visit my sister and I anymore. My Mom is frustrated by this as there is still more of the world she wants to see but feels she can't.

I think my Dad's frustration probably comes largely from knowing that he's having trouble remembering and can't do anything to stop it. Also knowing that the more forgetful he becomes, the more dependent on others he will become. My parents are both very independent people which is something I've always admired about them, but now one of their greatest traits is what's hurting them the most.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Consignment Sales

I never shop at thrift stores, rarely stop at a garage sale, have little patience for stores like Marshalls and TJMaxx, but when it comes to buying kid stuff I love consignment sales.

I am a member of a women's group that puts on 2 sales a year, and I always try and wait to buy my kids clothes until I've shopped the sale first. When I first joined the group my oldest was just a few months old. I volunteered at the sale and wondered why people would buy used clothes. Over time I realized the benefits of these sales. You can get almost new stuff for the really young kids. Think of how fast newborns out grow clothes. All the clothes being sold in the 0-6 mth sizes and even a lot of the 6-12 mth size was probably only worn a handful of times.

I gladly accept handmedowns from friends and neighbors but I have to admit that when my kids outgrow stuff, I don't pass it on. I sell it. That may be a little selfish, but my stuff is still being used by someone else, and anything I don't sell I donate. My goal is always to break even. I haven't managed yet, but this year I was pretty close. After subtracting my profits from my sold stuff from what I bought, I only spent $10. Some of what I sold I had purchased at the previous year's sale, so it was almost as though I was borrowing it. I know some people upcharge after getting a great deal, but I always charge a couple of dollars less than what I paid if it was something I bought on consignment.

This year I got the following:
For my son
2 sweaters
5 long sleeve shirts
2 button down shirts
1 turtleneck
5 pairs of pants
4 pairs of pjs
1 pair of overalls
1 puffy winter jacket
For my middle daughter I got
2 pairs of pants
1 pair of leggings
1 velour top
1 sweater
For my oldest
1 turtleneck
2 dance leotards
1 sweater
1 pair of leggings
1 tutu from Claires -NWT
1 pair dance tights -NWT
Grand total was $76 (incl. tax)!!!

The most expensive thing was the winter jacket for $6, and it looks new. As kids get older it's harder to find stuff. I've pretty much given up getting any fitted pants for my daughters, that kind of stuff they need to try on. Sizes vary too much, but for the younger ones it's great. You still need to be a little careful with sizing as some things shrink. One of the pairs of pjs I got for my son were too small so he only wore them once but for $1.50, I can't really complain. I didn't find any books or toys for them this time around, but that stuff is always hit or miss anyway.

There are tons of consignment sales out there and a couple of websites list them. is one. They are often advertised on community bulletin boards, in the garage sale section of the local newspaper, on Craigs List, or in church or school bulletins. But the best way to find the good ones is word of mouth. They are often held by women's groups or parents of twins/multiples, some are private businesses. Talk to other bargain seeking parents and they'll probably know. It can take a little work to find the good ones, but once you do it's worth it. How do you know a good sale before you get there? Check their seller/consigner guide.
- Do they list brands that they will not accept? The more brands they list as unacceptable, the more high end stuff you will find. Usually the unaccepted brands are the store brands like Koala Kids, Circo, Jumping Beans.  One sale I like to shop won't even accept Carters, which I love and I think has some of the best quality cotton around.  Since I don't sell there, it doesn't really matter though, it just means there is more Hanna Andersson, Gymboree, Ralph Lauren etc to choose from. 
- Do they require sellers to make an appointment to drop off their items? If so that probably means that they are individually sorting through the items to make sure they are acceptable. They check for stains, missing buttons, broken zippers, and reject any of those items.  I'll admit we don't do this at our sale as we don't have the time, but I do feel better about shopping at sales that do this.
- Do they limit the number of items sellers can drop off? Some sellers want their unsold items returned to them and often they will try and resell it at the next sale. Limiting the number of items people can sell forces the sellers to weed through their items and sell their better merchandise.

Selling at a consignment sale is great for a couple of reasons.  Obviously getting rid of your unneeded stuff that's still usable is part of it. It's another form of recycling. Think of all the plastic toys kids get these days, reusing them keeps more plastic out of the landfills and cuts down on demand for new plastic toys. I realize toys are a small part of what ends up in land fills, but every little bit that we keep out helps.

I even got my kids excited about it this time.  I had them sort through their toys and told them that any of their toys that sold I would give them the profits.  They each earned $9.  Anything unsold I donate.  For our sale it goes to a charity that helps low-income families.

While my kids were excited to get the cash when my youngest came with me to pick up my check she saw the truck being filled up with things going to charity, and asked me what was happening with all that stuff.  When we were going through our list of sold items instead of getting upset that something didn't sell, she felt glad that some kid whose parents didn't have a lot of money now had a "new" toy to play with.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Thinking of you......

At a time when I want to express sympathy for someone, those words just don't seem very powerful.  I am not a religious person so never offer my prayers to people as that would be insincere, but somehow telling people you're thinking of them doesn't seem to carry the same weight.  Two families have been in my thoughts a lot lately.

The first is a schoolmate of my daughter's. I know the parents casually but we are not close. Their son is in 7th grade and has had leukemia on and off since he was 3. Twice after chemo and other treatments the cancer went into remission only to return a year or so later. It recently came back for the third time. This time around they are trying a bone marrow transplant. His younger sister (age 7, same as my daughter) is the closest match in their family and will be the donor. He is currently in the hospital receiving the pre-transplant treatment. She will be going in to the hospital on Friday for the transplant (is it called a harvest when it's marrow, I'm not sure?).

She is in the same Brownie troup as my daughter and we stopped at another Brownie's house this morning to sign a card for the girl. My daughter and I talked for a while about what to write and what was going on with the family. While she is old enough to understand death, so far those deaths have been of older people or pets, not kids. It's been hard to talk about terminal illness in a way that doesn't scare her. Having said that I did encourage her to think about the emotions her schoolmate is probably feeling right now and even if they are not close, it is important to support people in tough times. On the way to the house we talked about what she would write and she settled on, "I am proud of you for being so brave. I hope everything goes well." and signed her name. Simple but sincere.

The family has set up a blog on to keep everyone up to date on the treatment and progress, which is great. I can't imagine what the family is going through. I have 3 healthy kids of my own, and I can't imagine having the strength to go through everything they've gone through especially now 3 times, and still manage to take care of their other two children. They have a lot of people praying for and supporting them, which I'm sure helps. At this point I am not ready to leave a comment on their page as I'm not sure what I would say. I'll let my daughter's words be the voice of support from our family for now.

The other family is one that I thankfully do not actually know. I say thankfully because I have absolutely no idea what I could possibly say to them. My husband is a surgeon and occasionally gets called into the ER to deal with traumas. The other night he got a page and rushed out saying that a TV had fallen on a 6 year old kid. I had visions of broken bones, skin lacerations, broken glass, things like that. It takes him just under 30 minutes to get to the hospital. He called me less than an hour after he had left and said he was heading home. The kid had died. He didn't know the full story of how the TV had fallen etc, but it's basically irrelevant. The kid was probably playing before going to bed, knocked into the TV rack or climbed up on it to reach some toy, and the whole thing came crashing down. In this case the kid was most likely dead before he got to the hospital. My husband never spoke to the family. There was no point as there was nothing he could have done, and there were already ER docs and social workers talking to them. I can't imagine what that family is going through right now. There are no words you can say to comfort them. As hard as terminal illness is, there is a progression and in most cases time to prepare yourself somewhat. A freak accident like that, you can't prepare for.

I'll end this by saying if you have healthy kids, go give them an extra hug (and maybe some extra Hallowe'en candy) and be thankful for what you have. If you are dealing with a sick child or the death of a child, know that along with the close friends and family who help you get through each day, there are many more people who are supporting you but maybe can't find the right words.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Hallowe'en & Operation Gratitude

My kids have been looking forward to Hallowe'en for quite a while. They picked out their costumes ages ago (and thankfully never changed their minds).  The weather was cool, but not so cold that they needed to cover up their costumes with jackets and sweaters.  Lots of crunchy leaves on the ground to set the mood. The kids had a great time.  My older ones finally wanted to venture beyond just our block for trick or treating so after I took all three around our block, my husband took our vampire and butterfly to venture further while Bob the Builder and I stayed home and handed out candy.  He won't eat any of the candy anyway so it worked out better for everyone that way.  My daughters came home with full buckets and tales of the scary houses they saw and friends they bumped in to along the way.

While we waited for pizza to arrive I had them start sorting through their candy. Our local orthodontist buys candy from the kids ($1 per pound) and sends it to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you're looking to get rid of some candy, I'd definitely encourage anyone to participate in these programs. Most kids end up with more candy than they could/should eat, so why not support the hardworking men and women of the armed forces by helping them get a care package full of candy.  I know they appreciate and they certainly deserve it.

There is a group called Operation Gratitude that coordinates some of the buy back programs and lists a lot of information of different dentists, but you can also google "Hallowe'en candy buy back" and find others that aren't listed with OG.  They usually have certain drop off hours and our particular guy gives the kids the gold coins which they always get a kick out of (much cooler than regular old singles).  I think my oldest has about 3 pounds worth to donate, my middle one maybe one pound, and I will be donating all of my youngests' probably 2 pounds worth - his sisters added some old goody bag treats to his donation bag to help him.

Hope everyone had a happy Hallowe'en.