Archive for the ‘Frustration’ Category

Sleep… or Lack Thereof

09 Oct

I have always described Koren as a “crappy sleeper.”  It’s true.  Unlike his sister, who has been known to sleep through the house alarm, Koren is a light sleeper, whose sleep cycles seem to include multiple “Wake up” modes.  He didn’t sleep through the night until he was 3, and even then it was only temporary.  At age 4, he’s up 1-3 times per night, either making his way down to our room or calling to us from the top of the stairs.

He’s very fragile in the middle of the night, but most of the time he doesn’t really need anything other than to go potty – which he is perfectly capable of doing by himself.  His only reason for waking us up is more or less that he wants company – a cuddle before bed and someone to tuck him in.  Once we tuck him back in, he goes back to sleep without any resistance.

And while that’s kind of cute during the day time, I have very little patience for it at 11:45pm, 1:30am, 3:15am and 5:45am.

We’ve tried a few different ways to get him to sleep through the night, but as of yet have been unable to find a currency that will motivate him enough to change his behavior in this particular area.  Positive reinforcement only works sometimes, and even then only temporarily.  Lately we’ve told him he’s going to lose a marble* for every time he wakes us up.  We did specify that if he has a scary dream or is actually sick or hurting then that doesn’t count. Coincidentally, the frequency of “bad dreams” has gone up exponentially over the past week.  :-/

Last night it was the same old thing – I awoke in the middle of the night to tearful cries for “Mama!” at the top of the stairs.  After instructing him to go to the bathroom (WHY does it never occur to him to just do that first?  If he would just GO to the bathroom instead of bursting into tears at the fact that he’s awake, he could probably manage to get himself back to sleep.  But it’s like some kind of disconnect between the part of his brain that wakes up because he’s uncomfortable and the part that commands action to resolve the discomfort.)

After he had gone potty, quit crying, and been herded back to bed, I informed him in no uncertain terms that he had lost a marble and that waking everyone in the house up in the middle of the night for no reason was unacceptable.  That everyone needs their sleep, INCLUDING HIM.  This was not news to him.  We had this same discussion before bed.

As I was leaving his room, a small voice stopped me.

“Mama… do you know why I called you?”
“Because I love you.”

Ok, that?  THAT?????  IS NOT FAIR.

As if my ever-loving sanity wasn’t already hanging in the balance at this moment (sleep debt is not my friend, which is why I was pretty much half crazy and socially inept while my kids were infants), I JUST SCOLDED MY KID FOR REQUESTING AFFECTION IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT AND HE HAS TO GO AND GET ALL STICKY GOOEY SWEET ABOUT IT?

And yes, he did get an extra hug and cuddles because I am a sucker and he has my number.

Today marks two months since Xander went to be with the angels.  So while I sit here feeling sleep deprived and grouchy over the fact that I am sometimes grossly outmaneuvered by two little people (I am the adult, I should be better at this!!), I can’t help but think of parents who would give anything to be woken up in the middle of the night by their crying child who just wants to cuddle.

And it leaves me feeling kind of selfish.  Because as my mom says, “this too will pass.”  (Granted, she also said that when he was one, and it was a little more believable then.)  But whenever it does pass, I will probably long for those days when he wanted nothing more than to crawl up into my lap and rock for a while.

But rest assured that when he’s grown and has his own adorable crappy sleeper to deal with, I won’t pass on the opportunity to say HA!  IT’S YOUR TURN NOW.

*Our behavior/chores/rewards system uses marbles as a kind of currency.  I thought I had already written about it, but I can’t find it.  “Losing your marbles” in this house refers to the consequence for poor behavior… though if I ever do lose MY marbles, it might be closely linked to the kids losing theirs.


Protected: A Lesson in Humanity

10 Aug

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Letter to Parents

16 Aug

Dear Texas Parent:

 We would like to tell you that we are excited about the start of the upcoming school year.  But that would not be entirely true.

This past summer, the Texas Legislature cut $4 billion in overall funding for public education, and the impact will be felt in classrooms across the state.  Regardless, we pledge to provide your child with the best education possible, in a clean, safe school.

This will be a challenge in a state that previously ranked 44th in funding for public education, and is now likely to fall even lower among the 50 states.

You should know how budget cuts are likely to affect your child’s education: 

  • Statewide there will be fewer teachers.  Some teachers were laid-off; others retired, and we eliminated their positions; other teaching vacancies were simply left empty, to save money.  This will mean larger class sizes and fewer academic options, especially at the high school grades.
  • The focus on the new high-stakes STAAR accountability test will likely mean that we’ll try to find savings in subjects that will not be tested, so expect to have fewer art and music teachers, especially at the elementary grades.
  • While state leaders like to tout Texas’ potential in a global economy, our ability to provide students who can speak German, French, Japanese, Chinese, and other foreign languages, will be diminished.  We simply can’t afford to hire the teachers.
  • To continue with an effectively full-day pre-kindergarten program, some districts will now be charging tuition, based upon a family’s ability to pay.
  • Because of rising transportation costs, many field trips for culturally-enriched art and music programs will be cancelled.
  • School maintenance is not protected from budget cuts.  So, if your scout troop or service club is looking for a project, please contact your child’s principal.  They, undoubtedly, will have a ‘to do’ list of projects that we don’t have the money to tackle.
  • Higher food prices and utility costs are causing many of us to increase cafeteria meals by 5-10 cents.  Still, it’s nutritious food, and is the only balanced meal that many students receive daily.
  • For those of us without artificial turf in stadiums, we’ve done our best to keep athletic fields watered this summer, despite the drought.  That’s not because we want them to be lush, but because if they are nothing but rock-hard patches of dirt, our young athletes are at greater risk of injury.
  • Speaking of athletics, some of us are moving into the era of “pay to play,” in which athletes and band members may be required to pay a fee to participate.  We recognize that these fees will present a hardship for many of our students, especially those from low-income families.

 We would like to think these financial challenges are temporary.  We would like to think that, when it convenes in 2013, the Texas Legislature will restore the funding it cut.  However, we are placing greater faith in the courts.  For four decades, our lawmakers have balked at adequately funding public education, until forced to do so by threat of lawsuit.

Only a handful of us, so far, have chosen to go to voters — who are cash-strapped as well — asking for more revenue through a Tax Ratification Election.  The rest of us will cut corners, and dip further into reserve funds, hoping it doesn’t adversely affect our bond ratings.

We know that these are difficult economic times for most Texas families. These are also tough times for Texas schools.  Nonetheless, you have our pledge that we will do our best to provide the academic support that your child needs to succeed.  In return, we hope that you will continue to support us.


 Your Local Texas School District


Written by Andy Welch, who recently retired as communication director for the Austin Independent School District.

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Posted in Current Events, Frustration, School


Drumming My Fingers

11 Aug

As I’ve mentioned before, patience is not one of my strengths.  My MO is to either make a decision or accept a change that has occurred (regardless of how major), and then hit the ground running.

When faced with a situation in which I just need to chill out and wait, I have the skills of a 5-year old on Christmas Eve.  A five year old hyped up on too many candy canes, who has stayed up way past bedtime.

There are about 3 major events in my life that are currently “on hold” at the moment (not to mention a few items I’m waiting to receive in the mail) – I’m in a limbo of sorts and there is nothing left to do but wait.


Right now, I should be doing a number of things.  Cleaning, cutting coupons, cleaning, packing Koren’s lunch for tomorrow, cleaning, paying bills, cleaning, etc.

Instead, I’m sitting at my computer trying to think of some research I should do, or some activity that will help move things along quicker once the progress actually starts.

Of course, there is nothing.

At least tomorrow will be a busy day.  And maybe one of my packages will arrive.

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Posted in Frustration


How a Criminal Has a Better Chance of Opening a Bank Account in My Name Than I Do

23 Dec

At the beginning of this month, I embarked on a mission that would serve two purposes:

  1. Leave Bank of America
  2. Consolidate all our bank accounts under one bank

We have a lot of bank accounts.  More, I suppose than the average household.  See, when we got married, we each had a few accounts.  Rather than cancel half of them like I imagine most people do, we kept them all and assigned different purposes to each.  This eventually evolved into using an electronic version of the “envelope” budgeting system to manage our finances: a different account for each type of expense.

We have an account for food/gas expenses, with which we do all our grocery shopping, eating out and gas station purchases.  We have an account that the mortgage and rent payments are drawn from, an account for general household bills, accounts for each of the kids, and our own checking accounts for “play money.”  Throw in a few savings accounts (medical expenses, charity, rainy day, etc), a business account, and that account that we opened at Chase just so we could get a free $150, and you’re looking at quite a mess when it’s spread across several banks.

Thus the need to consolidate.

Also, I’m a bit fed up with Bank of America.  They charge fees for everything – $9.95 per month just so I can download my transactions into Quicken.  Plus $8.75 per month for each account that doesn’t have direct deposit (and since we’re only allowed to DD into 4 accounts, that’s a lot).  Plus, their idea of “interest” on an account is abysmal.

There are two choices for local banks here.  The first is an Alaskan credit union, and while I’ve had great experiences with the people in the branch (it’s currently where our food/gas account is held), it’s just not up to speed enough to meet my needs.  Plus, I’m trying to avoid having to do this all over again when we move back to Texas in a few months.

The second choice is Wells Fargo, which is basically another Bank of America.  Fees, fees fees, no interest, and lots of restrictions.

So I went on the Great Bank Hunt of 2010.  I thought I had found the answer to my needs with Ally – an online bank that offers free accounts with great (comparatively, at least) rates, free checks, no direct deposit requirements and will refund ATM fees.  They also charge a MAXIMUM of $9 per DAY in overdraft fees, which I appreciate because even though I try to keep a good handle on what’s going in and out, our “system” necessitates that account balances get very low from time to time.  Nothing irks me more than miscalculating and having to pay $35 in fees to cover that $3 Starbucks run.

However, I then discovered that Ally doesn’t download transactions directly into Quicken.

I know.  I’m hard to please.

So then I started looking at Capital One, where I’ve had an account for several years.  They too offer free accounts with no direct deposit requirements, no fees to download to Quicken, and if you open their “Direct Banking” accounts (online like Ally accounts) you can get some decent interest rates.

So I began by opening an online account.  I got it all set up and decided that this was the bank for me.  I then proceeded to open the rest of my accounts, and that’s when things got hairy.

In order to open an account online, many banks require you to answer some “security” questions to “verify your identity.”  First, let me say that this is the STUPIDEST thing in the world.  It’s supposed to discourage unscrupulous people from trying to open an account in your name, but guess where the multiple-choice answers to these security questions come from?


So any thief with a few bucks on hand can purchase a copy and have all the answers right in front of him.

Second, the process assumes that your public profile is a) correct, and b) that you’re aware of all the information on it.  Both assumptions can be (and are often) false.  So a thief reading your public profile can suddenly become MORE qualified than you are to answer your own security questions.

…to be continued…


3 Things That Are Really Stupidly, Amazingly Difficult to Do When You Live in Small-Town Alaska:

16 Dec
  1. Switch banks.  Especially if you’re not interested in using either of the two banks that have branches in this state.
  2. Get fresh berries out of season.  I totally splurged and bought blueberries yesterday because the grocery store actually HAD SOME for the first time in months.  For $17/lb.
  3. Order Christmas gifts from places like Brookstone.  “Sorry, this item cannot be shipped to your location.  Because obviously you live on another planet.”

I am also currently frantically waiting for about 5 pieces of mail to arrive to me.  One is our Christmas cards so that hopefully I can get them addressed and sent out this week, though I am certain the majority of recipients will be receiving theirs well after Christmas this year, sorry.  The other things have to do with our banking, a project that I would really like to put behind me, but am at a complete standstill on until these things show up.

Every day, I think, “TODAY MUST BE THE DAY.”  Yet every day I sift through a useless pile of Christmas catalogs to find not a single piece of mail that I have been waiting for.

I hate waiting.  I am not good at waiting.  I do not enjoy waiting.  Waiting makes me a bit crazy in the head.  And I hate waiting.


Please Tell Me It’s a Phase

10 Nov

I’m really enjoying the ages that my kids are at right now.  They’re cute and fun and I enjoy watching them explore and discover the world around them daily, and at the same time they’re more independent and self-sufficient than they were a year ago.

Kaelin is able to entertain herself and Koren, and also able to keep a general eye on him and alert me if anything is amiss.  She’s having a blast with her ice skating and I love watching her test her limits on how fast she can go without wiping out.

She’s also developing an affinity toward generosity and loves to pick out gifts for other people.  Whenever we go visit a friend, she tries to come up with something she can gift her friend with.  Most of the time, it’s a penny or a piece of paper or some other knicknack that nobody actually wants, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

For the most part, this is a great age.


Exhibit A:

This morning I asked Kaelin to put on her shoes.  I left the room and 10 seconds later, she shows up at my side.

“Mama, I don’t know where my shoes are.”

I stared at her for a few seconds before I could answer.  See, when I asked her to put on her shoes, I laid them down at her feet.  SHE HAD TO STEP OVER THEM to come ask me where they were.

She does this kind of thing regularly and it just makes me wonder what happens to make the optical, audio AND common sense parts of her brain all short circuit at the same time.

Exhibit B:

Today Kaelin went to the dentist.  It was quite the ordeal.  I had to hold her hands so she would quit putting them over her mouth.  Then she just refused to open it.  With much struggle, we were able to talk her through the teeth scraping and the brushing, but when it came time for the x-rays, she was having NONE OF IT.  Because apparently putting a little black card in her mouth is traumatic.

Eventually I just had to leave the room and tell them to hold her down and get it done.  Since we won’t be back for at least 6 months, and with Kaelin’s history of cavities, going without the x-rays was not an option.

And then, THEN, they wanted to paint some flavored fluoride onto her teeth.  You would have thought they told her they were going to remove her tongue.  FLUORIDE, PEOPLE.

We had a minimum of THREE dental hygienists devoting attention to my daughter.  There was a 2-year-old in the next room that was acting better than my child.

The good news is that there were no cavities that needed to be filled.  Let’s hope it stays that way.  The other good news is that I was wrong in assuming that it was my job to make my kid behave for them.  The dental hygienist told me that next time I can just wait out in the front and they’ll take it from there.  In fact, they encourage minimal parental participation.

Sounds like a plan.

Exhibit C:

So we got home from the dentist and I fixed the kids some hot dogs for lunch.  I made it very clear to Kaelin that if she wanted one of the cookies on the counter, she had to eat EVERY. SINGLE. THING. on her plate.

10 minutes later, she comes into the living room and tells me she’s done, and can she have a cookie now?  I asked her how much food was still on her plate.

“My plate is gone.  I already threw it away.  Can I have a cookie?”

“What was on your plate when you threw it away?”

“My hot dog.”

“So after I told you that you had to eat everything, you just THREW IT AWAY?  And you want a cookie for that?”

“Well, maybe you can make me a new hot dog and I’ll just eat as much as I threw away.”

“So you want me to make you another hot dog and throw half of it away again?”


At this point, I was fresh out of Good Mommy Patience, so I informed her that she was not getting any more hot dog, nor was she getting any desserts for the rest of the day.

Then she begged for a snack.  BECAUSE SHE WAS HUNGRY.

So I duct taped her to the wall and retreated to my room to pull chunks out of my hair and rock back and forth in the corner.

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Posted in Are You Kidding Me?, Frustration, Just Shoot Me, Kaelin, Kid Quotes, Makes Me Grumpy, Parenting



05 Nov

Well, I did it.  It finally occurred to me to stick my camera’s memory card into my mom’s little point-and-shoot and download the pictures onto her computer that way.


Photos shall be forthcoming…

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Posted in Frustration, Photography