Thursday, September 3, 2009

Keeping House, Peppered Nostrils, and Tears

There are some days, like today, that are really difficult when parenting Ben. He's been sliding downhill, lately. I got an increase in his meds this week, but am not seeing an improvement yet. I suppose I should contact our pastor and see if we can get more counseling/encouragement sessions set up. I know Ben's life is hard and I can only imagine what it must be like to be trapped with a mind and a body that won't work right. How difficult it must be to see his brothers and peers doing things that he cannot do. How maddening it must be when the one thing he lives for (Wheel of Fortune) gets taken away by an angry mother when disobedience occurs. That's what is happening in our house tonight. And because he's so angry he's upstairs throwing a literal temper tantrum. Imagine a 2 year old's tantrum in a 75 pound body - scary! The other day Paul and I were dreaming out loud about how nice it will be when the kids are all grown and gone. The silence will be absolutely lovely and what a novelty it will be to clean the kitchen and have it remain that way all day long! We can go anywhere and do anything we want without having to explain ourselves or make arrangements for the boys. But then I stopped myself. That's not going to happen. Ben will always live with us. Well, he could go to an assisted care facility, but the only one I would consider is Shepards in Wisconsin and they won't take the kids until they are 30 or so. It's not fair - it's not what I wanted for my life! It's not what I wanted for him. Sigh...It wouldn't be so bad if I always felt sure I was doing the right thing where Ben is concerned, but the truth is, I doubt myself a lot of times. Am I fair in my discipline? Should he be in school? Am I doing enough for him? Am I shortchanging him educationally? Should he be on more, stronger medications? Do I listen to him enough? That last one is hard because it gets really old listening to him ramble on about game shows and grocery stores - his chief interests in life. All these thoughts run through my mind and yet I can't waffle where he is concerned because he has this uncanny knack of knowing exactly when I'm doubting myself and he swoops in to try and turn that to his advantage.

All right - well, I hadn't actually planned to write that. You caught me at a bad moment. The picture above is of Sam from last April and it's to illustrate my next bit of information: I have discovered a new method of cleaning house. I have to say - I'm pretty impressed with my housecleaning this week! First, understand that housework is not my thing. It never has been. I've usually been content to do just enough to prevent E coli and ensure that we had enough plates to eat from. Once, after my mother-in-law moved my stove, as she was hanging wallpaper in my kitchen, and revealed 3+ years worth of dirt, dust, and grime, I laughingly asked her, "Do you think I'm a bad housekeeper, Dorothy?" She said slowly and seriously, "Well, I would say that housekeeping is just not your gift, Sarah!" My mother-in-law, by the way, is a superior housekeeper, cook, and gardener - everything I am not.

So anyway, last weekend I was looking through my final issue of Women's Day and I happened across an article about how to clean your house - advice from the experts. The article pointed out that the biggest mistake people make is trying to "zone" clean, that is piecemeal cleaning. That is me. I'm organized enough that I have all my housework divided up into days, but I can never, ever get through my list. There is just too much to do. In addition to the housework, I have to-do categories for really urgent things, as well as a school schedule I have to follow with the boys. And then I have times for trying to catch up on scrapbooking and other projects. It's just too much. As a result, my upstairs shower has been cleaned, I think, twice since we put it in (5 years ago this fall) and there are chunks of food clogging my dishwasher drain. What happens is that when I do have people over I end up killing myself for several days prior to their visit trying to clean every possible place their eyes might land. This method teaches you how to clean your entire house in 7 steps. I won't bore you with all the details, but I am finding it really beneficial. The idea is to do it all within a 4 hour period, but I don't' have that kind of time. So what I did was to divide out the steps amongst my daily chore lists that I type up at the beginning of the week. So Monday, for example, I did "Step 1." That was to dust the entire house. It didn't take that long. Tuesday, I did Step 2 - cleaning all the fabric furniture and changing all the sheets. And so on. Today was Step 4 and I cleaned all the hard surfaces with cleaner and a rag. I figure that when I have days that I can't do my "step" I can double up the next day, or make it up on Saturday. And if I don't get through all 7 steps within one week, that's ok. I'll just take up where I left off the following week. If nothing else, maybe we'll all breathe a little better, since things will be getting regularly dusted around here!

Will had his first game of the season this past Monday night. It was a JV game and so, he was only put in for about 10 seconds. But for those 10 seconds I was cheering and snapping pictures! Unfortunately, it was a massacre. Pleasantville was slaughtered, 25 to 0. That's the way it goes sometimes, esp. when the other team is taller and bigger than you are.

My project this week has been sorting through the boys cold weather clothes. It's a job I both like and dislike. I like seeing what clothes they have grown into and what cool stuff they'll be wearing this next season. But I dislike all the work involved. The boys aren't too fond of parading around the living room in their underwear while I try clothes on them, either. But that part is done. Now it's just a matter of getting the clothes into their drawers while trying to find room for their summer stuff, too, since we might be in short sleeves until the first of November.

Ben has a new accessory - a girdle. His occupational therapist calls it a "binder" but it's a girdle. All it is is a wide strip of stiff fabric with a velcro closure. She believes it helps him to control his body movements. She may be right. We'll try it and see. As I was signing the form for insurance I glanced up and noticed the cost of this thing - $155! That's insane - for fabric and velcro? Just because it's considered a medical need they can charge an arm and a leg. It reminds me of Sam's $500 circumcision - also a rip off (no pun intended!).

I got my last issue of Today's Christian Woman. I didn't know it was going to be my last issue, but they announced within the magazine that it would be. They are discontinuing the magazine. That's sad. I always meant to submit a guest editorial, too.

Sam has a new obsession - latches. He is crazy about those 3 pronged plastic deals that slip inside a plastic sheath. I have two on my scrapbooking tote and he likes to stand over there, latch the latches, and then yell, "stuck! stuck!" until someone comes over and unlatches them for him to put back together again. He also discovered one on his booster seat and now when we get somewhere after driving, he is reluctant to climb down out of his seat. Instead, he wants to stay and mess with the latch on his carseat. I hope he gets past this craze soon!

I discovered a new weapon for my arsenal of combatting my hayever. I picked up this nasal spray yesterday at Walgreens (when I stopped there to buy half a dozen new boxes of tissues!). It's called "Sinus Buster." It's main ingredient is capsaisin pepper. I suspect that is a close cousin to red pepper. Seriously. I spray it up my nose and my nostrils then feel like they are on fire for about the next 10 minutes. But it does seem to help. I have actually been breathing for the past two days, which is a novelty this time of year. I have thought about using it on Ben, but I have a feeling he'd run screaming out of the house. Plus, it does seem to induce an immediate bout of sneezing that lasts for just a short while but I could see Ben drenching everything in his path while that happened.

I have been reading Karen Kingsbury this week. It had been quite awhile since I read any of her books. I had forgotten just how intense they can be! They're so good and I find myself convicted and weeping in parts. But I just have to take breaks, too, because I get so sucked into the mood of the story. She's a very powerful writer, much like Francine Rivers.

The other day I was riding in the van with Ben when the news came on, reporting the robbery of two Pizza Hut delivery persons. Ben asked why they were robbed and I told him it was because the robbers wanted their money. Ben then said, "Well, I bet he was hungry, too!" Could be!

I sat down and watched a little bit of Oprah yesterday. Now, I am definitely not an Oprah fan. Even before the whole "church of Oprah" thing came out on YouTube last year she gave me the willies. I remember watching her show in the late nineties and noticing her subtle and not-so-subtle shift toward vagaries like "finding your spiritual center" and so forth. But, sometimes she is interesting and I wanted to sit down. It was a reward because I was forcing myself to eat a nectarine rather than the snickers bar that was calling my name in the cupboard (I answered the call today, however!). Yesterday's show was about finding the world's "most talented" children. Shoot! I knew we shouldn't have given up on Will's piano lessons!

One of the children featured was giving a return performance. She's a little Philippino girl who had made her debut on last year's show. Her name is Cherise. I had never heard of her, which is not surprising, given that my entire realm of knowledge of pop culture is limited to what I read in People magazine in doctor's offices. But apparently, she rocketed to fame after the show and spent the year performing all over the country, earning enough money to buy her own house and ensure that her work visa will never expire. I never did catch her age but she was young - maybe 13 or 14. And boy, could she sing! That girl has pipes! But this is what I thought was interesting: the camera zoomed in on Oprah as Cherise performed. She sat there swaying to the song and then jumped to her feet, tears streaming down her face. I thought it was interesting and sad that she cried.

Oh, it's understandable. I believe we possess within ourselves a God-given appreciation for art in its different forms and it's not uncommon to be moved to the depth of our souls by a stirring novel, song, or piece of artwork. And when that art is produced by someone who seems least likely to be able to do so, it's even more stirring. But this is why it's sad: Oprah cried at the powerful voice of a pubescent rock star wanna-be. But yet, when she was presented with the greatest love story ever told, her heart remained hard. Is there anything that ought to stir us more than the story of how much we were loved? The greatest story ever is the story of God reaching out to mankind and giving us the sacrifice of His only son. I remember when the truth of that finally broke through to my heart. I was 26 years old and for the first time, I wept over the state of my sinful self and the great gift of love that given to me. The greatest tragedy of humankind will be the tears that were not shed over this.

Well, you all enjoy your Labor Day weekend. I plan to putter around the house and I think Paul has intentions of ripping off the front of the upstairs and replacing the boys' bedroom windows. It's a bit ironic, don't you think, that he will spend his day working on a holiday meant to honor the working man and to provide him a respite? Actually, I think a lot of our Labor Days have been spent that way, now that I think about it!


  1. WHAT is happening!!! The only mags I subscribed to Memory Makers (my yearly Christmas gift) and Today's Christian Woman are gone POOF! Just like that? I had even subscribed to the Marriage Partnership mag Christian Woman had published- OH I looked forward to TCW so MUCH!!!! I am really upset. How can we protest???? UGH! I had never found a mag that so fit me-the others are well.. just too different from how I view things and how I live and hope to live. I just don't get it..That makes me really sad.

    Sweetheart-Frank and I have conversations about Cannon just like you all do about Ben. Most of my family still does not "believe" in bi-polar even though they both have family members diagnosed with it and Cannon had an early age traumatic even which triggered it. They still think it is how Frank and I parent him. We had a small victory in that Cannon's "flare up" ** only** lasted 20 minutes last night instead of his usual 40 minutes often times he will rage for 40 min then start to settle in and then rage on and off for over 2 hours. I told a co-worker this a.m. we had a victory because other than screaming at two young neighbor girls who were playing with Jewel-he did not hurt himself, anyone else, break anything or threaten to hurt anyone. We swore and yelled hateful things, slammed things etc. So maybe.. the boys could get an apartment and live around the corner from us and Frank-It is extremely doubtful Cannon will ever live safely by himself. Maybe...but doubtful. There are apts by our house so we talk about that being an option. Cannon's best friend has Asperger's -his mom goes on and on how we are the only family that has welcomed their son with no questions- I giggled and said HECK-he is not violent so that is a step up from what we routinely deal with. anyway... I hear ya I hear ya. We have hope. There is a Christian agency in Ames called Friendship Ark that provides services. The founders are Catholic but after knowing them for many many years I have no doubt they are Believers, but they just calle themselves "faithful Catholics".


  2. tee hee "He swore and yelled" not us but we feel like it sometimes. even tried playing hymns all the time no work ;)

  3. Sarah, you are always in my thoughts and prayers. I know that your struggles with Ben weigh heavy on your heart and I wish that I had words of wisdom (I can't even seem to deal with my now 5 year old little miss). You will continue to be in my prayers for His guidance.

    Cleaning is so NOT my 'thing' either! I have been doing much better recently (kitchen floor actually got cleaned today, that is a HUGE accomplishment).

    Aiden's new thing: light switches! He is finally tall enough on his tippy toes to reach the switch and he has so much fun watching the effect of him moving it up and down. I on the other hand am only amused for a short time and then my eyes start bugging.

    Hope you have a blessed weekend!!!

  4. Sarah--you are in my prayers as you continue to raise Ben.

    I have never been a real house-cleaning girl either--in fact, I really hate it! I'm like you...keep it clean as long as we can see the floor without stepping on things.

    I really love Karen Kingsbury books! She is my most favorite author! She has a real talent.

    Have a great weekend!