Samantha, her tasks, her safety measures

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Samantha arrived around 8:30 or so as her parents dropped her off and then went skiing with Mikey in southern Wisconsin.  Richie is plowing as we are getting more snow than they had promised.

Before we settled into some good “num nums,” Samantha and I had some tasks to do.  She is truly a wonderful helper. 

When I had done the previous wash, I noticed a small load that Mikey had left in the laundry room and decided to throw it in the washer.  So, especially since Samantha likes to be a little helper and clean and such, we went into the laundry room and Samantha helped unload the washer.  The next thing she wanted to do was to clean the filter of the dryer.  She is quite good at it.  It is so nice to see at an early age that she is responsible and safe in all that she does.

Now, to respond to several people who have commented that perhaps I am breaking child labor laws, I beg to differ.  Samantha not only does these tasks because she wants to, she looks forward to them and asks me to do them!

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Waiting for the blizzard

I kept thinking that all the stuff from the California foray was put away. I was wrong. I guess I was just choosing not to see the stuff that was lingering that needed attention.

Before getting out of bed this morning, we heard the dog barking. It was due to Mikey leaving with his brother to go and do some snow removal.

Once up, I looked outside and realized that my own personal snow removal needed to be in process so I got the coffee going, warmed up the mugs in the microwave, and headed out the front door. Although the snow looked less than impressive in height, there was much more on the driveway than on the stoop and sidewalk. It was relatively cold, just around 25 degrees or so. I quickly shoved the snow aside, pushing most of it before throwing it onto the lawn. The part of the driveway beyond our parked car, leading toward the apron, was already done by our sons’ plowing.

Just as I was finishing, and it didn’t take all that very long, Mikey pulled up and Mary Kay was down form breakfast. We turned the ignition on in the car to warm it up and settled down to some good, strong morning coffee and toast.

Once Mary Kay had departed, I set about to straighten up. Multi-tasking as I usually do, I threw Mikey’s shirts in the washer and headed up to the kitchen to put the dishes in the dishwasher and straighten up the kitchen and the other areas of the house. I realized that we were still suffering from the after effects of all of the California items that had invaded our house. So, little by little we are normalizing. I also decided to water the plants and wind up the grandfather clock since I was already involved in my personal cleaning tornado activities.

Rumors of the impending “blizzard of 2011” are rampant and I keep hearing of people raiding the stores and stockpiling bread and other supplies. Somehow, I think the rumors are the usual, actually occurring weather situations fueled by the media to create newsworthy items that attract the viewing audience. On the other hand, this is probably going to be one heck of a storm. We shall see. The weather, at this time, does look like this blizzard is possible.

So now, I am into a bit of chilling before getting into some other household mischief. I am sure I shall not be able to sit still all that long. Somehow, I am guessing that I may not need to hit the gym today as I shall be doing some more shoveling before the end of the day. Time will tell…

Kitchen issues

 

There are several kitchen issues I have been grappling with for years and I have never admitted to them. They are annoying and sometimes inexplicable.

The one is the baked on, seemingly grease based material found on top of the toaster. It gets baked on and you literally have to scrub it off. I don’t get it, we don’t put bread in the toaster with jam and butter already on it. I could understand, perhaps, if we still had that raisin bread with the icing on the top, that was deadly!

The other is the cleaning of crumbs off the countertop, table, and even the floor. How is it that you carefully go about the task, only to find out that when you are done, that you missed something?

Still another is that you are sure you have all the ingredients for something, then at the last minute you don’t have the item you needed most.

Often, I shall be in the kitchen and find out, after a major spill, that the paper towels are out.

Then there is my personal mental block about how many pints in a quart, how many quarts in a gallon…why can’t we just convert to the metric system?

Such is life. There are several kitchen issues I have been grappling with for years and I have never admitted to them. They are annoying and sometimes inexplicable.

The one is the baked on, seemingly grease based material found on top of the toaster. It gets baked on and you literally have to scrub it off. I don’t get it, we don’t put bread in the toaster with jam and butter already on it. I could understand, perhaps, if we still had that raisin bread with the icing on the top, that was deadly!

The other is the cleaning of crumbs off the countertop, table, and even the floor. How is it that you carefully go about the task, only to find out that when you are done, that you missed something?

Still another is that you are sure you have all the ingredients for something, then at the last minute you don’t have the item you needed most.

Often, I shall be in the kitchen and find out, after a major spill, that the paper towels are out.

Then there is my personal mental block about how many pints in a quart, how many quarts in a gallon…why can’t we just convert to the metric system?

Such is life.

Now I am worried…

It is almost five in the afternoon, it is about as dark as the picture I took this morning in the back yard.  MK has been working all day getting ready for a family dinner, otherwise known as Ribfest.

I am concerned.  Something just occurred to me.  I have spent the entire day in the lower part of the house, cleaning up my office, tending to my job supplies from the job that, for all practical purposes, ended in June.  I am still “on call” periodically to fill in for them and/or travel to a conference or two, maybe… 

The equipment and paper materials annoy me.  They take up a great amount of space and it doesn’t seem cost effective to me at all.  The paper material is date sensitive so I am guessing that when and if I may need it, it may not even be appropriate. 

I spent the entire day straightening it up and getting rid of what I know would definitely not be useful even today.  I pretty much know where everything is and now the corner where I keep the stuff is pretty much totally organized.  It still is taking up a lot of space. 

My desk area is cleared for once and I have gone through my personal stuff once again.  I had to go through the papers I have collected for my mom, filing them and storing them.  I have gone through my own papers and tried to put everything away so I can actually find stuff.  I have boxed, cleaned, recycled.

The boys have called and they oldest and youngest are on their way.  They intend to pick up the cooking and leave Mary Kay and me the other tasks. 

Did I mention I was worried?  I am.  I didn’t have the best sleep last night and today I realize that I went into “cleaning mode.”  As I have gotten more mature (is any more possible after the age of fifty-nine, I must have really been immature!), I have come to the realization that when I go into this mode that I am showing that I am worried about something.  This is how I deal with my stress.  And all this occurring just when I thought I was de-stressing…

I shall keep you posted.

Oh, they have arrived, let the party begin!  I just heard Samantha call, “Papi!”

Day Three of Daddy Boot Camp

I got up early this morning and expected and looked forward to sitting down with my coffee after setting up breakfast for Mary Kay and me.  I arrived in the kitchen and realized that Mikey is at home and that I was going to have some cleaning up to do in order to enjoy myself.  I sometimes wish I were different but I need a certain order to be able to enjoy myself, something that is a double edged sword.

After talking to him when he got up, I realized that he was really not capable of the cleaning up as he is still having issues with sleep that clearly, from what I can see, area a major reason for a relapse when you have an addiction.  It is somewhat akin to torture to a recovering addict to have to deal with.  A nightly fear of how the sleep routine is going to go.  It is hard to rationalize and realize that it is a temporary phase.  I recall days of insomnia before having children.  My boys did a great number on me and taught me how to sleep standing up and, for the most part, insomnia is no longer a part of my life.  Periodically, everyone has an evening of sleeplessness, my most usual scenario of late is to fall into a deep sleep, wake up completely wide awake, and stay up for a few hours.  I am guessing that I may well need less sleep than most people, anyway.

Mikey did a bit of research and knows that the sleep issues could last for a while.  That doesn’t make it necessarily easier to deal with. 

I am enjoying my house almost devoid of Christmas trappings.  I enjoy the clean aspect and not having to see the needles on the carpet.

I am wondering how long to continue what I call the Daddy Boot Camp.  How long is this going to go on?  When I say this, I am saying it in reference to the daily journal entries.  Time will answer that issue.  This morning, once Mike got up, we decided to watch a movie together.  I wanted to “chill” and see about getting my blood pressure lower than it has been, so watching a movie seemed to be a good solution.   It has been in the slightly higher than the borderline range, but I am not happy about that and I am avoiding medicating however I can.  If I really need it, that is one thing, but if I can somehow lower it wholistically, I shall.  My breathing session today lowered it to a more normal range; I am going to continue to try the controlled breathing each day. 

Mike is eating us out of house and home, his new “clean” status is bringing out his appetite and he actually could use a little padding.

We had lunch with his oldest brother and now we are getting ready to go to the gym.  Later this afternoon I have a tutoring session to attend.  

So, off to the gym for a swim and spotting Mikey to be followed by a visit to the grocery store and picking up items for dinner and for Mikey’ moments of hunger.  My routine is in transition.

Back to normal

I am sometimes convinced that holidays like Christmas were designed to get people to clean their abodes!  In order to put things up, you have to remove things, often find dirt, and clean.  The same thing happens when you end the holiday and put things back in order.  Is there anything nicer than having your house back after a holiday mess?  It is especially nice to be done with the pine needles, as nice as a live tree is.  It is almost three pm and we are finally pretty much done. 

Mike and I have been busy since early morning.  I started before he got up and then he and I located the storage boxes to put things away.  It was nice having someone go under the house and get them!  Midstream, we went to the gym  to release some excess energy and then hit the grocery store so Mike could take some leftover pork roast and morph it into tonights dinner.  So, a few bell peppers, carrots, and other items later, we went home and had lunch.  That was followed by renewed clean up and everything is pretty much all away. 

I am going to steal a few moments for myself before going to pick up la Princesse (aka Bambina, Samantha, Sam, etc.) at the babysitter’s and bring her here where Daddy will pick her up after a business meeting.  I shall then head south to Kenilworth to tutor a high school student in French.

All in a day’s work!

Dismal rain and melted snow on Day Eleven of rehab

I am not sure, but the exterior temperature must be very warm because the huge mounds of snow have dwindled down to almost nothing.  It is raining and has been raining all night and that has aided the cause of the warmer temperatures and rendered the snow mounds ugly with flecks of black and other sooty colors on their surfaces.  The overall effect is one that is depressing instead of renewing and I wonder if that is reflecting our spirits as we head into day eleven of rehab.  I am going to say it isn’t.

We spoke to the young man yesterday and his spirits were high.  He is very anxious to get out.  In the family, we continue, as a group, to communicate and discuss where we are in all of this. This communication has taken every current shape from texting to actual discussion and is ongoing.  We have discussed all sorts of issues that are going to be important as we transition Michael and ourselves from the clinic to real life.  We have made plans here and there to take care of many different things, from the phone (which was paid for by the older boys’ business) to how to get Michael active again (his Christmas present morphed from what it was to a paid membership at either the Park District gym or at a private one).  We have continued to dialogue with counselors at the clinic to get input when we weren’t sure what the best official stance is that we should have in certain areas.  We intend to do everything we can to help him avoid situations that may compromise the progress he has made while “incarcerated.”

Many family members have a background in psychology due to the fact of their teaching credentials, but Christian’s wife is the most expert of all having done her Masters in Clinical Psychology.  She uses it in her daily job working with autistic children.  These connections do not hurt our family goals at all as we all try to help him.

We are not even all sure that he really needed an extensive treatment program such as he has had to endure.  My take is that that is probably accurate.  “Hollywood” as he is nicknamed in the “facility” had himself chosen to fly home without his supporting cast of chemicals and at a certain point tell us he couldn’t do it alone.  My real feeling is that the rude shock of being in a county facility, seeing the horrible effects drug use has on others, and being with people you often don’t have much connection with  is a very good “wake up” call.  This facility is not a “spa like” situation where perhaps he wouldn’t have felt the full effects of what he has done not only to himself, but also to his family.

I have to say that I am not enjoying the tree as much this morning.  My coffee is good despite having been made twice.  Ridiculous man that I am I had done a great job of setting up the coffee yesterday, grinding the beans, cleaning the carafe, filling the receptacle with water, only to find out this morning as I craved my first cup of coffee, that the carafe was filled to the brim with hot water!  I had neglected to install the ground coffee in the gold filter!  As Michael must do with his life, I had to start over.

That was just a preview of how things were going.  I straightened up a few things, and then sat down to the disarray caused by our canine in the living room.  I hate visual pollution and am not happy by the displaced ornaments and pine needles she has knocked down during the night as she heads toward our front window.   Years ago we had replacement windows put in our house,  which is about as old as I am, to conserve energy and to keep me from losing my cool each fall and spring when I struggled with storms and screens.  I have always had little battles going on in all sorts of life areas and that was a monumental one.  Our storm/screen situation was somewhat scary at times since the windows are large for a house that isn’t and the flimsiness of the storms had them bending and flexing as I worked with them only to shatter at the first incorrect move I would make.  It was nearly impossible to fit them in without a struggle and it was a biannual moment of stress I certainly don’t miss.  Anyway, the front picture window was replaced with a bow window with an accompanying seat.  The seat and its surroundings match the décor of the house quite well as they are in oak that I finished to match the furniture we have in the nearby dining room.  Sometimes we don’t think about the ramifications of what we are doing, we ignored here the fact that our dog, Ali, was going to take this location over the minute we left the house.  Not thinking about that I sanded it beautifully and gave it layer upon layer of tung oil, finishing it all to a beautiful luster.  One day we returned home to find enormous gouges in the seat area of the window, attributable to Miss Ali who had, in her quest to rid the house of its mailman attacker, scratched the window seat almost beyond repair.  I immediately took charge, re-sanded the whole affected area, re-tunged it (if I can say that) and once dry I purchased a carpet runner and cut it to fit over the entire seat.  Now Ali has a deluxe area that she can not only use as her attack runway but also to bask in the sun of the afternoon and stretch her long legs out.  At first she would never do this in our sight, now she is bold enough to do it the minute we leave the house.  On top of this, we must leave the blinds open because if we don’t, her afternoon mail attacks damage them!  And then, of course I have had to resort to a plexiglass square sheet directly in front of the window screen on the sides, because Denali has ruined two window screens already as she throws her body against the windows in anger as the mailman passes by and “attacks” our mailbox.  The surprise I just yesterday was that she even cracked the plexiglass!  Ali’s commitment to her job as border collie protector is only matched by Koerner reaction to challenge.  She is not unlike her owners!

So, here it is New Year’s Eve and I have spent all sorts of time talking about my past battles.  It seems that I have a bigger battle at stake here and, as usual, my mind wanders around all sorts of battlefields wondering how to most correctly attack the situation at hand.  I only hope that God grants me and my family the strength and ability to correctly deal with what we have at hand.  Despite what I am seeing in front of me in terms of disarray and ugly weather, I firmly believe we shall be able to conquer the devil that attacked our son and our family.  The support of our family, friends, and overall network will see us through it!

Happy New Year!