Friday, February 26, 2016

How to Get Teenagers Out of Bed!

Okay, look. I remember trying to get out of bed in the morning as a teenager. It wasn’t fun. I didn’t like doing it. But I’m pretty sure my parents never had to all but sit on my head to get me to school in the morning!

Fast forward a dozen years or so, and now I have the teenager that doesn’t sleep well, doesn’t wake up to an alarm and waits until the last possible second to roll out of bed in the morning, often making himself late in the process. This year has been the worst. It used to be we could poke him to get him up somewhere between 6:30 and 7; that way, even if he dawdled, he’d still be ready in time. This year he insists on staying in bed until 7:40 when school starts at 8. 

Honey, I understand completely.
The winter weather has been…well, winter in the Northeast. I can’t say it’s the worst I’ve ever seen, but it certainly hasn’t been warm and toasty. Since he’s at the high school and can’t ride the bus anymore, we’ve been giving both the boys a ride to school in the morning. That way, G-money only has to make the scoot from the house to the car instead of standing at the bus stop, and instead of walking almost a mile before the sun’s had a chance to warm everything up Mr. A can catch a ride in a vehicle that’s at least slightly warmer than the outside.

This morning he wasn’t doing it though, and with company to get to school on time (we babysat for a friend last night) I just gave up. Dad drove the three that were ready up to school, and Mr. A walked when he was ready.

It took me a while, but I finally figured it out. The problem is, the school’s been lenient with his tardiness so far. So much so that even though I spoke with the principal earlier this year and encouraged the school to begin implementing some consequences for his tardiness, it hasn’t happened yet.

If the school doesn’t care if he’s late, why am I making myself nuts in the morning?

Yes, I know. It’s a matter of good habits and ethics and all that good parenting stuff I’m supposed to be doing. I get that. But honestly? He isn’t five anymore. I can’t pick him up out of bed and carry him to the door, and short of that I’m tired of trying. I figure today’s going to become the gold standard, with a few changes. 

I think a new alarm clock needs to happen, and he needs to get himself out of bed. And I think we need to implement a time past which we will NOT be making the drive up to school. Being driven to school is a privilege he needs to earn, and if he doesn’t want a ride I see no reason to roll myself out the door in the morning…no matter how entertaining driving into the school parking lot in my PJ’s happens to be.

Moms with teens, am I missing something here? Does someone out there have any awesome tips for getting teenagers out the door in the morning? Or are we all in this together?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Homeschooling is Exhausting

You know how sometimes you have this idea in your head of how something’s going to work, and then it works, and it’s just how you thought it would be? And you know how the other 99% of the time, it’s a giant mess and you’re left scrambling to adjust your expectations and figure out how to pick up the pieces and put together something that’s going to get you through?

Yeah-that’s me and the story of homeschooling right now. 

It sounded like such a good idea when it started. Princess C was diagnosed last spring with dysautonomia-borderline POTS, to be precise. I know I haven’t said a lot about it here. When it happened we were barely keeping our heads above water, and I'd be lying if I said I was any saner now. To be honest, it’s been a struggle. She’s sick one day out of three every month, and while it’s getting better we’ve still got a long way to go.
Image found at, and created by, It's a PERFECT representation of a POTS flareup.
POTS flare ups are awful. If you're not familiar with the disease, it involves a disorder of the autonomic nervous system-the one that controls your heart rate, breathing and digestion, among other things. So when things go wrong, they go terribly wrong. She’s dizzy. She’s sick to her stomach. She gets headaches, and walking the ten feet from her bed to the bathroom leaves her absolutely exhausted. And she has to have someone standing right next to her when she makes that ten foot trek from the bed to the bathroom, because if she doesn’t there’s always the chance that we’re going to find her unconscious on the floor.

It took us almost four months from the first time we found her unconscious to the time when we finally got a diagnosis. I’m not complaining-we’ve been blessed as far as that goes. The average time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis for many people with POTS is five years or longer. Ironically, it was a referral to a teen clinic for depression associated with being sick and isolated at the height of her illness that led to the diagnosis in the first place-one of the doctors at the clinic was familiar with the disorder and diagnosed her immediately.

Months of pain and dizziness, accompanied by endless visits to specialists and therapists, made school attendance a nightmare, however. I’m going to spare you the details of listening to me rant and cut it down to this-homeschooling her this year was a better option than trying to go ten rounds with the school system, especially because she’s still sick as often as she is. I was kind of excited when we first decided to do it. I could pick her reading lists, decide what subjects she studied (with an eye toward state requirements, of course), and help present the information in a way that would make it interesting and fun.

What I didn’t expect was the uphill battle homeschooling was going to be when you coupled it with nursing school, going back to work part time while still picking up freelance writing gigs, and still having two other children to take care of. She ends up doing a large amount of the learning on her own, and while academically she’s doing very well the isolation of being home rather than with her friends (for her) and the stress of trying to keep up with everything (for me) has made it more nightmare than blessing some days. 

I’m glad we have the opportunity to homeschool her, I really am. And from an academic standpoint the decision has been the right one. Unfortunately, her frequent illnesses and my insane schedule mean it’s difficult to take advantage of many of the homeschool activities and groups around here. The cost and the amount of time she’s still out sick makes it very difficult to commit to various homeschool group activities and workshops, since we never know what she’s going to make it to vs. when she’s going to need to stay home.

Maybe it’s just a bad night at the end of a bad week, but right now I’m tired and looking for something-anything-that’s going to keep this homeschool boat afloat. Moms who homeschool multiples, I tip my hat to you. You’re amazing.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude

With the attacks in Paris sitting at the top of my newsfeed, with Facebook lit up in Red, White and Blue, with Syrian refugees streaming over the border and universities being bombed and people sleeping in the cold, it seems small to sit here tonight and think about the many things still to do.
Because tonight we are warm. We are safe. Tonight I am able to touch my children and know that they have never gone hungry a day in their lives. 

I’ve never been a great believer in the concept of spending November remembering to be grateful, because gratitude is something that should be celebrated daily, year round. But tonight, I am tired. I am stressed. I am two steps away from curling up in a fetal position in the corner, tucking my knees to my chest and not coming out until January. 

Tonight, sitting here at my computer hearing from those in Paris who are reaching out, I am ashamed. And desperately in need of the reminder of how truly blessed we are. 

So tonight, I want to celebrate thirty days of gratitude with thirty reminders of how lucky I am to be who I am, where I am, when I am. And as November passes, and the year passes with it, and days come when I am tired and stressed and ready to give up, I will remember. I will remember:
  1. ·       That I have a home that keeps us warm and safe and dry,
  2. ·       I can go to sleep at night without fear,
  3. ·       I have a family that loves me and stretches around the world,
  4. ·       My children are healthy,
  5. ·       All of my children live together under my roof,
  6. ·       My husband works hard to make sure our bills are paid and we never go hungry,
  7. ·       I have the opportunity to go to nursing school and receive the education I need to do something I love,
  8. ·       I will have the opportunity to do that something in a manner that benefits my community and, someday, those less fortunate than I,
  9. ·       In two weeks, I get to start working at a job that not only pays reasonably well, but that I’m absolutely certain I’ll enjoy,
  10. ·       We have two working vehicles that take us where we need to go,
  11. ·       There is money in the bank if something breaks,
  12. ·       Our refrigerator and pantry are full,
  13. ·       We have good health insurance,
  14. ·       Because we have good health insurance, I’ll never have to choose between paying the bills and getting my children the care and medications they need,
  15. ·       We have the opportunity to offer four cats a better life,
  16. ·       We are able to sponsor and get to know a lovely young woman that lives half a world away,
  17. ·       We live near enough to a large urban area that we’re never lacking for healthcare or dental providers,
  18. ·       We live far enough away from a large urban area that I’m not afraid to let my kids play outside,
  19. ·       We have electricity and indoor plumbing,
  20. ·       Because my husband’s job pays for our internet, we always have a connection to the world,
  21. ·       I have shelves upon shelves of books to read,
  22. ·       And I have plenty of time to read them,
  23. ·       I am able to read, and write, and learn,
  24. ·       Our circle of friends is large and diverse and always there for us,
  25. ·       Should anything happen to me, I know my kids would be in good hands,
  26. ·       We live close enough to family that we can visit whenever we want,
  27. ·       There is music in our lives,
  28. ·       Outside, my flowers and trees and raspberries grow every year,
  29. ·       There is yoga, and people to do it with,
  30. ·       And most importantly, I know without a doubt that I am loved.
This November, this day, this year, what are you thankful for?

Friday, August 28, 2015

How Nursing School is Teaching Me I Don't Have to be Perfect

Rolling into the end of the first week back at nursing school and I…am…whipped. I also realized something last night, something important that I want to bounce off the rest of you mamas out there. See, I’m 32 years old. My oldest son starts high school this year, which means he’ll be a sophomore before I have my nursing license in hand. If I continue my education any further, we’re going to end up going to college together. 

I realized last night that although I’m excited to be going back to school, I’m also embarrassed. Embarrassed to still be a student at this stage in my life. Embarrassed to be seeking an associate’s degree to begin gainful employment at the point where my peers have completed their education-or, if they haven’t, are looking at graduate degrees while building their career. 

My kids’ pediatrician is my age, and one of the girls I went to middle school with is a dermatologist with her own practice. And here I am.

Now, intellectually, I know there’s nothing wrong with this. I slipped in and out of college as my kids were born. I worked for a number of years in a job that allowed me to work from home from the time my youngest was born until he was in second grade. I’m not the oldest in my class by any means-there are a number of women who are re-entering the workforce after staying home with their kids, and many more who are switching careers like I am.

I have three beautiful, fun, well-mannered, well-rounded children. I’m celebrating my 12th wedding anniversary this year. We own our home, and while money is tight the fact that I’m working sporadically while going back to school isn’t killing us financially. All in all, I’m in a good place in life. And yet part of me feels like I have something to be ashamed of, and that, I think, is due largely in part to the way I feel I should measure my success. 

At this point, I feel like I should be as financially sound as my friends without children, as well-educated as those that spent their twenties getting doctorate degrees and MDs, my house should be as clean and organized and decorated as Home and Garden, I should be as crafty as all those moms out there that actually have…well…talent (because God knows my daughter sure didn’t get her crafting skills from me) and as engaged in my kids’ classrooms and education and activities as moms who have one child they’ve been at home with since the day they were born.

And I wonder why I’m stressed.

Right now, I need to take a step back and think, really think, about what success means-and make it personal to ME, not to anyone around me. For me, right now, success means doing well enough in nursing school that I pass my licensing exam and have no trouble being accepted into a bachelor’s and, eventually, nurse practitioner program. It means keeping the house clean enough and organized enough that I’m a raging, raving mess by the end of the week. (I learned last semester that a messy house and an empty fridge really stress me out. You don’t even know.)

It’s having time every night to sit down and eat dinner with my family, and being able to watch an episode of something on TV and tuck my kids in at night. It’s taking Princess C to dance and going to Open House at the elementary and high school on Open House night. It’s seeing the boys do well, and mastering homeschooling to the point where Princess C both enjoys herself and learns at the level I know she’s capable of. It’s saving up enough money to take a vacation someplace besides our parents’ houses, and maybe actually get that rickety garage pulled down sometime before Mother Nature does the job for me. 

These are my goals, and they’re the ones I need to use to measure my success-not anyone else’s. It’s past time I stop expecting myself to be perfect and start expecting myself to be me.