Tuesday, September 27, 2011

BIG BOOM! Adler Planetarium

I have met some wonderful people in the area within the last year or so.  One thing of which I am so grateful...tips of free and fun local activities.  I was told that the Chicago Planetarium was going to be free on certain days during the month of September.  So, when I got word that I wasn't going to be getting Gwen (our neighbor) off the bus one Wednesday, I decided to take off for the big bad city as soon as Delaney and Kate got on the bus.  The drive to and from went smoothly.  Parking was great...on the street just in front and only $4. 


Rowe had a blast!  She pressed buttons, and did puzzles.

Charlie enjoyed watching her do these things...

Her favorite part was the "big boom" and that's what she still talks about weeks later.  She refers to the Planetarium as the "moon place" which I think is super cute.  The big boom was made by a crater simulator.
(Sadly, this is the only picture I have of her near it, but do have a video of it).

They were happy to get to the kid area, where there were a lot of things for the kids to play with and learn about. 

Even Charlie got in on the action...crawling around the campfire under the stars:

And then Rowena felt the need to tell him where to crawl...

Time to get the shuttle ready! 



Then, they had to get ready to board the shuttle.



Rowe took time to love Earth

They crawled around in some crater caves on the moon



 Look...they're both astronauts!

Then, they just played, and wandered.



It was cold, drizzling, and grey out.  I was really hoping for a beautiful day (the day before was) so we could walk along the lake too.  No big deal.  We still had lunch on the beach!

A view of where we had our lunch

 And a view from where we ate:

A great day in a wonderful city! Kids had fun, were able to have some freedom, learn, and explore.  And, I had a most wonderful time with them! 
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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Morning Fun

In the mornings, Rowe, Charlie, and I have a lot of fun.  I've never been the stay-at-home mom type.  With Delaney, those first four months were tough on me.  None of my friends had kids, I was home solo with an infant and was bored easily.  I didn't know how to join a mom's group or club other than MOPS-which is not my style--too big and too religiously based.  So, I became lonely and frustrated.  I worked part time from the time she was about 4 months old.  That is all I need--a part time job where I can feel like I'm giving back, contributing to the world, and having some adult interaction that is not surrounded by bottles, diapers, and babies.  Then, I went back to school--most wonderful decision I made, despite the job availability (there are jobs, but so many people right now apply to just one job.  It's hard to even get an interview).  I loved grad school, my professors, learning, being challenged, and meeting new people.  So, after I finished grad school, I found a job that I go to on Mondays.  I love my clients, my work, my career.  I would love to have two very full days, plus 2 groups on Saturdays.  That is my ideal job--private practice on Mondays and Thursdays seeing individuals, couples, and families, and then do two groups on Saturday.

I digress (no kidding).  So, if I'm home all day long, I basically get bored and irritated.  I need to be home by 12:15 every weekday because I get my neighbor off the bus.  She is here for about an hour before her mom picks her up.  She eats lunch here and then happily plays in the basement for an hour with Rowe.  Around 1:30, Rowe is down for a nap until about 4/4:30.  Charlie usually takes his second nap around 2/2:30-3:30/4:30.  Delaney and Katie get off the bus around 4:15.  Then it's time to start thinking of dinner, cooking, homework, baths, and reading. So, that's my afternoon to evening--at home, and I'm fine with that.  However, I love getting out in the mornings.  Since I work on Mondays, that morning is spent at home.  I'm hoping to soon volunteer in Katie's class on Monday mornings before leaving for work.  I did that last year for Delaney's class and I loved it.  I loved being able to know her teacher better, see the kids she shares her days with, and see Delaney in the scholastic environment...I hope to have that same opportunity with Katie.

I digress (again).  So, I use the mornings to get out and about with Rowena and Charlie.  We don't have a set schedule except that on Thursdays we always go to the library for LapSit.  This is where we sing songs, see friends, and read stories.  Oh, and there are bubbles.  Bubbles are always a favorite!  Other days we'll do things such as long walks, go to parks, grocery shopping, the mall--for walking and the play area, and sometimes we'll even take big adventures, like to Chicago.  I will update with some posts and pictures from our recent walks at Rock Run and our trip to the Adler Planetarium. 

Although in my posts, I talked about being overwhelmed, each individual day really isn't bad.  We get out and have fun in the mornings, I get downtime in the afternoon, and the evenings are all business.  I guess where I get caught up is my time management during my downtime...I should be reorganizing things, paying bills, reading, filing, exercising, or cleaning.  However, in the moment, I think "I'll do that tomorrow.  Today I just want to sit and watch tv and relax."  I do that a bit too often! :)
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...And The Batteries Break Me

You are about to read a very self-loathing, pity-party.  Beware.  You have been warned.  Feel free to skip this post!

Have you ever had one of those days?  The kind that every little thing just sets you off?  With anger?  Annoyance?  Frustration?  Sadness?  Stress?  Get the point?

Yeah, well, I had one of those days.  Yesterday.  It wasn't necessarily the day, but  I lost it.  And over what?  A package of batteries.  That's right.  I purchased a $12 package of batteries, and I must have left them in the cart.  SOB!  The day started off not as early as they have been lately.  Rowe woke me around 6:15.  I was okay with that because one of my mentors was going to be on TV and I wanted to watch her interview.  So, that was fine.  But, soon everything went downhill. The rest of the day wasn't actually THAT horrible, but I'm just on edge ALL the time right now, and the smallest of things just set me off!  What made me feel crappy and guilty from the start is that I made plans to do something fun with the kids earlier in the week, and those plans fell through.  Not that bad, but I still planned something else fun for the kids.  I was going to take them to a free event in Joliet with face painting and boat rides.  However, my selfishness got the best of me.  My mom invited me to lunch, and I decided to take the kids first, then go to lunch.  The event wasn't at the place I thought, so instead of trying to drive around to find it, I thought I'd take the kids after lunch.  The event was only from 11-3 and by the time my mom and I went to lunch it was already almost 1:30, and I figured out where the event was, which was a 20 minute drive, so I said forget it.  Disappointment #2 for the kids.  Then later it came out that I don't plan to get the kids new Halloween costumes.  Why?  Because they tend to be expensive, we don't have the money, we can get creative for cheap, and their costumes from last year still fit.  Disappointment #3.  Way to go, Mom!  We get home, I realize I lost the batteries and I just burst into tears (after looking for them for over an hour).  Kate proceeds to say "Is this all we get for Halloween this year?" The batteries were for a Halloween decoration outside.  I snapped.  I was so frustrated...with myself for being selfish about the day, for losing the damn batteries, and for being in this situation still...poor and stressed.  Due to Peter's schedule at work this past week, I have been solo every day and night except Monday when I worked and Friday when I had dinner meeting.  I have felt like a single parent; cooking, cleaning, and bathing all four kids, putting them all to bed, trying to read to everyone before bed and help with homework.  It's been a tough juggling routine.  In the moment I tend to be okay with it, but now and then I just, well, I'm exhausted.  Charlie or Rowe have me up usually around 5, and I go non-stop until close to 9:30pm.  Although I will admit that I get about two full hours of downtime during the week when Charlie and Rowe have an overlapping nap.  During this time is when I straighten up the house, vacuum, do the dishes and laundry.  But, it's quiet.  I guess over the past year, things have hit me off and on, in waves of fear, anger, stress, frustration.  Yet there have been days where I don't even think of our situation; things will be fine, I will feel at ease and relaxed, and things won't feel so overwhelming like the world is swallowing us whole.

Now, let me interrupt this complaint-fest, pity-party with the fact that things have been stressful the past 13 months.  We've had so much help from family and friends, without which we would seriously be homeless and bankrupt.  I cannot extend my gratitude and appreciation to those enough...from the smallest thing of buying me a coffee to paying a bill.  We are so fortunate to be surround by the most amazing loved ones! However, that doesn't alleviate all of the stress.  It truly doesn't.  And it makes me feel guilty that it doesn't, that I'm still stressed, on edge, cranky and on the verge of tears.  But, just writing this out does help, and so on that note, I am going to write my b*tch list; all the things that are just getting to me the past 13 months:
  • Applying to over 100 jobs with only two interviews, one job offer
  • Peter applying for over 100 jobs with only two interviews, two job offers
  • Peter losing two jobs in less than 8 months
  • Being on food stamps
  • Being on All Kids
  • Being on WIC
  • My camera broke
  • Our washing machine broke
  • Three different DVD players broke
  • Finishing grad school with a 4.0 and not even getting to walk across the stage (due to my procrastination and downright laziness) or have a party
  • Not being able to celebrate our 10 year anniversary the way we wanted, or Peter's birthday.
  • Fearing the future
  • Resenting the past
  • Feeling judged by others (when using any of the government assistance programs)
  • Our debt, that we managed to build quickly!
  • Being a single parent (this has just been this past week, but it's enough for me to really feel its effects)
  • Not feeling connected to Peter.  Now, keep in mind that this feeling is just this week, as we have stayed close and connected throughout this whole process, but when he works every night until after 10 and he gets home and I'm falling asleep, it's hard to feel connected.  We rarely saw one another or talked this week, and it's going to be the same next week.
  • Katie's attitude and anger when she doesn't get exactly what she wants ("you can have a snack but at the table"--she throws a fit because she wants a snack in the family room.  You can still see the TVs from the dining table).
  • Delaney getting sassy...this started the second week of school.
  • Clients that don't show up
  • Small paychecks
  • Asking family for financial help
  • Getting up early and going to bed late--yes, I have control over the latter, but I need some awake downtime in my house
  • Poor time  management...I have so much to do and I sit around
  • Messy house...I'll clean it, and it'll look great, and within two hours, it looks like I never touched it!
  • Thinking about moving
  • The fact that Peter didn't just lose a job, but his career...he LOVED working where he did for 5 years, and he truly saw himself there for the duration of his working life; retiring from there in 30 more years...
  • My ever-increasing lack of motivation
  • Never-ending laundry
  • My disorganized house
  • My weight
  • Feeling ungrateful
  • Feeling alone
  • Being angry
  • Mood swings
  • Guilt
  • Feeling like a bad mother
  • Feeling like a bad wife
  • Exhaustion
  • My clothes
  • Hearing any of the following:
    • Things will get better
    • This too shall pass
    • It is what it is
No offense, but in my current state of mind and situation, none of those are helpful.  Because you know what?  It's NOT passing, I KNOW it is what it is, and things MAY NOT get better.  In fact, they might even get worse.  We could lose our house, go bankrupt, or both, or other things I refuse to verbalize.  It's like being at a funeral of a loved one and hearing "They're in a better place now."  I don't buy that.  I want the people here, with me.  Now if they are old or in a lot of pain, I will take "They are no longer in pain." because that part is true.  But a better place?  Not really, not according to my belief system.  But, to give those people who say those things, I know their hearts and thoughts are in the right place, trying to be helpful and soothing, so I am not rude or disrespectful, and, to be honest, I don't even know what would be helpful or soothing right now.  A few of my very close friends have been just that, and I don't know exactly what or how they do it, but they do.  For that, I love you!!!  And, you know who you are! xoxo

Okay.  I think I've been on the pity-coaster enough for now.  I've been holding this in for so long, I was due to explode.  I am grateful to my husband-who deals with my mood swings, provides me with laughter and love, and keeps his head up so high through all of this, for our family-who have helped on financial and emotional levels, for our friends-who keep our lives fun, for my kids-that despite how much I can get frustrated, I love them with all my heart and they are handling things very well despite all the "no" they might hear.  And, lastly, to the government--for putting in place programs like SNAP, WIC, and All Kids so my family can survive, eat, and have health care. For those who are against those programs, you must never have needed them, and I hope you never do.  People may take advantage of the system, but I don't know why anyone would want to live this way, not to mention the hoops you have to jump through to get assistance...

Signing off from this pity-party...
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Friday, September 16, 2011

Back-To-School Slumber Party 2011

We had our Annual BACK-TO-SCHOOL Slumber Party the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.  This year, we added a new sleeper--Gwen.  (Last year she came over for the playing/partying part, but went home for bed).

The kids enjoyed playing video games:

And playing in the basement:


For dinner they made pizza:

 They were SO excited when they started with the cheese!
Happy kids with their homemade, funny-shapped pizza!     Mmmmm!  Pizza, Fruit Salad, and Ginger Ale


And had ice cream for dessert:

Silly kids!

Had popcorn during movies:

And actually slept:

To get enough rest to get up and have donuts:

Around 10am, I kicked everyone outside, as the day was gorgeous. Everyone slept well and behaved nicely.  I love this tradition!
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