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First day of Kindergarten for the boys, First day of 2nd grade for Sofia

I know that it’s been a very long time since I posted. I don’t have a very good reason for not posting, other than not feeling particularly inspired.

The summer flew by, but lots going on….

Money – The husband and I decided to file for bankruptcy. Not an easy decision, but the one that makes the most sense for us at this point. Obviously things are not great. Clearly. But they could be worse. We’re taking it one day at a time.

Marriage – Status quo. We get along most of the time, but things will never be the same after last year. At least for me.

Job for husband – Currently trying to find work, pretty much anything at this point. So discouraged here. Because we don’t want to pay child care, we’re trying to find something at night or swing shift. One day at a time.

Work – As many of you know, I came to my current place of employment after losing out to the BIG job I originally tried out for in fall of 2009

That BIG job recently opened up again. The person who held the position became very ill and over the course of about a year, it became clear she wasn’t able to come back. I was consistently encouraged by every person in management (my boss included) to apply again for that position. As the BIG BOSS had no Secretary for the better part of a year, he relied on me to help him with a variety of things. I was happy to do so as it gave me an opportunity to show him what I was capable of. Many people did not like him, but he was always very good to me. When he announced his impending retirement, I was disappointed. He had been a cheerleader for me and now, he would be gone. The decision was made that his replacement, THE NEW BIG BOSS, would select a secretary and make the final decision on this job I so desperately wanted.

So old BIG BOSS left, new BIG BOSS came and the process began. I went through the series of interviews and felt really good about everything. I had a letter of recommendation from my current boss (CBO) and the BIG BOSS. I made it to the final two, beating out someone who I considered my main competition. 

I didn’t have much time to revel in that fact as ultimately, I lost out to someone who is in a lower administrative classification than myself. New BIG BOSS chose to go in a different direction, I guess you could say, as my competitor was bilingual.  As I’d been working towards this job since 2010, to say it was a crushing disappointment doesn’t even begin to cover it. I get the bilingual thing, but it hadn’t been a requirement for the job. A Bachelor’s Degree had been, something I did have and my competitor did not.

I simmered through weeks of bitter and angry feelings toward my employer, feeling burned and defeated. It knocked me off my feet for a good 6 weeks and only recently have I begun to see clearly. I’m not perfect, but I’ve consistently performed my job well and risen through the ranks accordingly. This was my first taste of having the door slammed in my face due to politics and ya know what? Not so fun

I definitely feel differently about my job and workplace at this point. While my goal is to eventually find something better (made difficult due to generous total compensation here), at the moment I am focused on the kids. I’ve decided to embrace the fact that I don’t have a high pressure job, count my blessings and be happy that I have a job that is flexible, pays decently, provides wonderful medical coverage for my family and contributes generously to my pension. It’s hard to wrap my head around thinking about my pension, but I guess I’m at that age (20 years out) that I have to start thinking in those terms.

School – We made the very difficult decision to remove Sofia from private school so that all 3 children will attend school together. The boys were starting kindergarten and let’s be honest, we are in no position to be paying tuition. Sofia handled it better than I did. Her main concern? When can we go clothes shopping? They’re all settled in and we’re very happy with the decision. They boys love school and Sofia has a great teacher. I did decide to separate the twins, which I think is best for them but obviously harder on me. It’s a new world for me having to make sure all 3 kids have clothes to wear, 3 lunches to prepare, 3 sets of homework to oversee, etc. I am going to need a separate calendar to keep track of who’s class I am volunteering in and when. The school is moving towards a more minimal homework philosophy (emphasis on reading, reading, reading), so that works in my favor.

Weight – Not good. Not good at all. Not sure what to do about it as my plate is so full. No pun intended. I’m considering joining a gym near my house ($9 per month to go 4 days per week). Need to check it out. Need to get moving. My doctor put me on meds for high BP and I’m not sure they are working. Still having a lot of back pain due to degenerative disc and arthritis, exacerbated by weight, of course. I guess you could say I’m a hot mess.  

Sofia – Seems to be a little better, but still has an explosive temper, anxiety and several phobias. I discussed it with her primary pediatrician over the summer and he spoke to a child psychologist colleague who felt that between the family history (schizophrenia, general mental illness and anxiety disorders) and her behavior, there was more than enough there for an assessment. He gave me some names, but I’ve yet to look into it. I am hesitant to open the can of worms. For the most part, she is a happy, bright and engaged little girl. But she does display a lot of anxiety and an explosive temper. I’m sort of on the fence on what to do about it.

David – He’s a living, breathing cartoon character. Always smiling and trying to make people laugh. He’s like a 5 year old Jim Carrey with all his facial gestures and body movements. I can’t even begin to describe how animated he can be. I call him the “song and dance” man. He still can exhibit a little temper once in a while, but for the most part, is a sweet, extremely affectionate little boy.

William – A dream child. Innately good, he just wants to follow the rules and have things in order. For the most part, he doesn’t complain, picks up when he is supposed to, eats when he’s supposed to, follows directions. He makes things easier for me and thank god one of them does. Quiet and reserved and not overly touchy feely, he’s always thinking. It’s pretty evident he’s going to be a little heartthrob, with his enormous brown eyes, thick shock of hair and beautiful olive skin, but don’t let him hear you say that. If you even whisper that he is cute or handsome, he flips out. One thing William does not like is attention. Negative, positive, doesn’t matter, he doesn’t want it. I guess you could say he is humble. Steve says he will probably be a priest. He’s joking, sort of.

All the kids are now going to catechism. I know that’s not what it’s called anymore, but that is what I call it. They go every other Sunday after mass, so that means I have 3 hours to myself. Talk about a dream come true. It doesn’t get much better.

I think that’s about it for the last 6 months. I’ll probably try to upload some photos and for god sakes, try to post regularly – if there are any readers left!! If you are still out there, please post and let me know.

 

 

 

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Mini vacay

So, it was overall a great summer weekend.

Saturday was unexpectedly blazing hot. Wasn’t expecting that! Since we were headed to the godmother’s house (she was taking Sofia and away to a casino/resort), I figured it would be fun to visit a Lake by her house. We spent a few hours there and the kids *loved* it. Will immediately asked when we would return and if we could “live there.”

Imagine my surprise (as I sat on my chair on the beach in a bathing suit – an occurrence limited to pools and lakes where I can be assured that no one will recognize me) when I realized there was a local news reporter with camera right next to me!! I was like “Oh, *helltotheno*, please point that camera away from me!!!!” Sheesh!!

As this was the godmother’s actual birthday, after our day in the sun, we headed over and food, cake, etc. The boys and Steve stayed until about 7 and then we continued to visit with her cousin, a Creative Writing professor at a local San Francisco University. It was quite nice as her and I always have lots to talk about. The boys were acting great and everyone commented on how good they were being.

So the godmother and her cousin slept in godmother’s room while Sofia and I slept on couches in the living room (as we always do). Apparently, her puppy (in its crate in the hall) was kept awake by our presence which resulted in godmother getting zero sleep. She tends towards drama and neuroses to begin with, so this lack of sleep exacerbated things. She was cranky and nitpicky most of the morning, but I tried to just go with the flow and help as much as possible.

Godmother continually fretted about what Sofia as the resort is a casino and how would she access the restaurants if she’s not allowed on the floor, etc. I repeatedly assured her it wouldn’t be a problem, that I’ve been to Vegas and kids are everywhere – as long as they’re not actually gambling, it’s fine. This did zero to calm her, so I finally called the casino and confirmed what I had said – that of course kids can walk through the casino to restaurants, just can’t be on the floor, next to someone gambling. Duh. No brainer. Done.

When I packed the car, Godmother went out of her way to tell me “Please don’t pack it high or I won’t be able to see…” I was biting my tongue left and right. I wanted to say “Oh, but I was hoping to pack the bags up so high to obstruct your view and compromise the safety of my child and myself, of course! You’re such a buzzkill!”

The day before we left, godmother had called and instructed me not to “pack a bunch of stuff” as we may have to leave the bags in the lobby as our room wouldn’t be ready, yada yada yada…I assured her the bags could be checked by the bellhop and quite frankly, when someone tells me not to pack a bunch of stuff, it only makes me want bring the biggest suitcase I have. I’m kind of evil that way. Can’t imagine where Sofia gets her oppositional behavior from????

She fretted more about the bags and I assured her the bell hop will take them and most likely we’d get a room sooner than 4 p.m. She was adamant we would not. And of course, we got a room right away.

Once we were checked in and unpacked, Sofia and I immediately escaped to the serenity of the pool and spent the bulk of our time there. Sofia worked that pool like nobody’s business. She made friends with everyone, had everyone’s life stories (and they ours) and had the bartender mixing her special lemonade drinks, giving her cookies. cutting up fruit for her, etc. It was such a sight to see. That girl is FEARLESS.

This being an Indian reservation casino/resort, I didn’t have huge expectations. This hotel was really nice, really nice!!!! Huge, gorgeous room. I was a little nervous about 4 of us sharing a room, but it was fine. Flat screen tv, huge walk in shower, Jacuzzi tub. Pleasantly surprised!

We ate lots of buffet food (which at first is fun but gets old pretty quick) and I had a few poolside margaritas – probably my favorite thing in the world. I got a nice tan, was able to relax a bit and got a nice dose of Vitamin D.

Sofia didn’t understand why she was not able to partake in what appeared to be the largest Arcade she had ever seen…Godmother insisted on dragging me to a machine to gamble (I insisted I had zero interest,). It was a slot and I explained to her that I prefer the poker machines. She gave me a little money to gamble for about 45 minutes and I went straight to the poker machines. I won $28 two times, but put all but $7 back. That was the extent of my gambling…Godmother won $800 and Godmother’s sister won $1000. Not bad.

It was actually quite nice and I’d love to go again – but Godmother needs to relax and let people just do their thing. She is constantly ragging on her sister or Sofia, I actually felt sorry for her sister a few times. I’ve known Godmother for over 30 years but never seen her so controlling and neurotic as the past year and a half. I am told this often comes with age and general lack of patience or tolerance. I think in her case that is all true, but the bulk of it comes from having never married and being independent for so many years. I have similar challenges with this, having married late in life. Never getting married, never living long term with someone else, never having kids – her very existence is self centered, as it should be. It’s just who she is. Hard to take over an extended period of time, that’s all.

I love her to death but even as a young girl, I remember her having skewed expectations of people. She could never understand my acceptance of my father’s behavior and lack of expectation of him to ever change. People are who they are, ya know? I feel the same way now as I did then – I’m not going to waste my time and energy trying to bend people to my will or freaking out about it. I have plenty of more tangible stuff to freak out about as it is.

Anyway – I have a nice tan. I had some cocktails. I had a little mini-escape, so that’s all good in my book.

Here’s some photos –

Will at the lake

Hotel Room

Are We at the Pool Yet

Chillaxin in the hot tub

It’s 3:00 somewhere!

BFF with the bartender

Hot tub and pool, all to ourselves!!! Sweet

Back to the Godmother’s

Kisses from Bella

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So, it’s been a while since I updated this blog. Months. Since I started my blog in 2007, I never thought I’d go this long without an update. Truth be told, 2012 has not been a great year thus far. I’ve spent the past 4-5 months trying to keep my head above water, so not a lot of time or mental fortitude to write anything inspired. But in the end, this blog has been my creative outlet, so I am going to attempt to return to writing, with some regularity, starting today.

So what the *hell* have we been doing the past 5 months? Oh, lots. Let me break.it.down.

The marriage:
Nothing new there. I’m still bitter about last year’s near-indiscretion and not sure I’ll ever get over it. Also quite resentful about the financial situation and carrying the burden of responsibility for our family of five. It’s something I feel the weight of every minute, every second of every day…I can never forget that I have 3 little people depending on me to feed, clothe and love them, keep them safe. I’m not saying I’m doing anything spectacularI know tons of single moms do this and thrive – but I’m not technically a single mom and the resentment I feel for my husband is hard to get past at times. I’m trying. He’s trying. We all are.

Family:
I did finally come clean with my brother about how dire our financial situation is and while I expected him to judge (he has before), he didn’t. Inside he may have been, but he only offered support and love, which was much needed and welcomed. We had a chance to reconnect a bit and that meant the world to me.

My mental health:
It varies. Some days I’m fine, but other days, I am fighting back panic attacks and tears most of the day. Thank god for Klonopin, that’s all I can say.

When it rains, it pours:
A few weeks back, we had both cars give us problems. The van needed front end work, so not drivable on the freeway. The other car wouldn’t start. Got a new battery and still wouldn’t start. It was probably the lowest point of this year for us, by far. I barely had money to buy groceries and here I have 2 cars non-functional at the same time. A co worker drove me to work all week and by the grace of god, a mechanic up the street diagnosed it as an electrical problem and fixed it, free of charge. We still need front end work on the van, but it can be driven around town (Steve doesn’t need to go far now that the kids are out of school) but at least one car works. Last week, our refrigerator stopped keeping food cold. So we are currently keeping all of our food in the freezer. This happened last year and cost $250 to fix. I’m going to try a 48 hour defrost, but haven’t had a chance. Last week, Sofia swallowed a polished quartz stone about the size of a nickel. It has yet to pass through. So, after work, I am going to take her to after care as I won’t be able to rest until I do.

Work:
Where to start? I have tried for several different positions lately and for a variety of reasons involving politics and a cuthroat job market, have not gotten any of them. I’ve come close, but no cigar. There’s one left, so we’ll see. Being involved in such competitive job searches has shaken my confidence a bit. Then again, maybe I’m not meant to leave here. Maybe I’m meant to stay in this position as it offers me flexibility. Maybe the universe knows I can’t handle a high pressure job with 3 small children. Maybe, maybe, maybe. Who knows. I feel like something is keeping me here and pretty soon, will stop fighting it and get on my husband’s ass to do something.

Finances:
Not great, obviously. I am still working on the side for the German, but there have been a few dry spells in there that were scary for me. I have gotten behind on a few things, but somehow always manage to make the payment in the end. People (who know the real deal) comment on how the hell I am doing it on my salary and I have to tell you, I have no idea. I have to go out there and hustle and let me tell you, this is not in my nature – not even close. I would rather stay home and watch Real Housewives repeats. But I am a mama bear and if hustling is what I need to do to put food on the table, this is what I will do. (and by hustle, I mean, actively seek out work, actively seek out new positions, sell myself, etc.)

Sofia:
She is as challenging as ever. In fact, while the boys become less challenging, she becomes more challenging. The past few months have consisted of daily battles, tantrums, oppositional behavior, exhausting everyone in her wake. All that said, since school let out, she is bored, but much more manageable. I think she’s getting more sleep and that’s a huge difference. She does go to bed early during the school year, but I think the getting up early and pressures of school and all that goes with it takes a lot out of her. Who knows, maybe my little princes will become beasts when they start school as well. When she is in her “normal” state of mind, she is the most articulate, engaging, bright and loving little girl you’d ever want to meet. It’s the times when she’s not in her regular state of mind – head spinning around a la Linda Blair, tantruming, screaming, kicking and acting out – that is so concerning. I’ve talked to her pedi, who talked to a child psych and because of my own family history, her anxiety and vomiting phobia (think I’ve mentioned this before), they feel she is symptomatic enough for an evaluation. So, just trying to process that and see how to move forward. One day at a time.

Will:
He is my little prince. Selfless, adorable, loving, smart, creative. Steve likes to joke that he is going to be a priest and I can’t say that I disagree. Whenever I take him out, if he buys something for himself, he always thinks of his brother and sister. Would they think of him in the same way? Probably not. He is the first to clean up, listen to what I say, make his bed, and fall in line. He’s a kind, selfless child and I am so thankful that one of them is like this.

Dave:
David has come a long way in the past year. He burst out of his shell and loves to make people laugh. We joke that he’s a “song and dance” man as he loves to dance around to Michael Jackson and do air guitar. He’s quite petite for his age, so people always laugh when they see him do this stuff. He’s also quite a terror on his bike. He’s been riding w/no training wheels since he was 4, so when people see this little guy who looks 3, tearing it up on his bike, they stare in amazement. It’s awesome! He’s a bundle of energy, but he makes me laugh and smile on a daily basis. He’s always telling me I look pretty, even when I have just woken up (which I can assure you, is not my prettiest moment). He’s truly a doll.

I think that brings us up to speed with how I’ve spent the past 4-5 months. Things are hard, but could be worse. The kids are happy, despite it all. They do ask for things that we can’t afford, and that is hard, but they do seem to “get it” after a while. We had a very generous and kind friend treat us to a Disneyland trip in February, all expenses paid – stayed at the Disneyland hotel. That didn’t suck.

There are no summer camps in our summer, but I’m lucky to have them spending time at home, playing in the yard, their dad at their disposal, just like I did as a kid. I think summer camp is great and god knows, I wish I could send them to some, but I never had camp growing up (and neither did any of my friends) and we managed to get by just fine. It’s going to be ok. My husband may lose his mind, but it’s going to be okay.

The good news, the godmother is taking Sofia and me away this weekend to a resort. I’m a little nervous about leaving the boys (guilt), but am hoping this is a time for relaxation and to put aside my troubles and enjoy a cocktail or two. Or five. We shall see. Sofia has been quite good this week, so I’m cautiously optimistic.

Hopefully, this will be the first of many blog posts to come!

A pictorial history of what we’ve been up to the last 5 months!!

My favorite pic of the kids this year

Sofia teaching Geography

My silly boys at their 5 year old doc appt – complete with boy move hand in pants

Hearing test

Doing what they do

Tee ball

Impromptu trip to Disney in February (treated by friends)

Got SOfia’s haircut for a birthday party

Just another day at the park

Sofia bridging to Brownies

The kids trying to convince me a new kitten is just what we needed in our lives

Sofia being Sofia

Will after buying items for his brother and sister, with his own quarters, after buying something for himself

Sofia flying a kite with her 8th grade buddy on their 1st grade/8th grade end of the year picnic

Will running for base

Playing with the cousins

Sofia’s bowling birthday party

Sofia and her godmother at the park

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And here is Sofia at the recent fundraising fashion show at her school.

She’s the third girl, wearing black and white, hands on hips, attitude galore.

Yeah, she’s SIX. I am so, so, so very screwed.

Why do I have a feeling I’m going to see this footage on her E! True Hollywood Story someday?

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Sofia thinks she is a cast member of Shake it Up.  Haven’t seen this gem? It’s a show on the Disney channel all about the misdaventures and hijinks 2 eighth grade girls who are cast members of a dance show, Shake it Up Chicago. It’s like the Disney version of Laverne and Shirley, I guess you could say. There is dating, boys, fashion and ridiculous clothes. Sofia loves it, natch.

While it’s relatively innocent, the themes are too mature for her, so I repeatedly remove it from the DVR. Somehow, it always makes it back on there.

The result? She now thinks *she* is a 13 year old Disney channel star. For reals.

This photo was taken at the mall this week. We were at a fitting for the upcoming school big deal fundraiser fashion show. She’ll be walking with about 10 other 1st and 2nd grade girls. Their segment? Interpretation of a “modern day princess.”

Most of the girls version of this involved a sparkly, sequinny holiday dress.

Sofia’s version? Below.

For the show, the boots and hat will be gone, replaced by black tights and sparkly black shoes, some kid appropriate accessories, jewelry from Clare’s, hat, etc.

It is parochial school, after all and last time I checked, Sofia won’t be 14 until 2019.

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Growing up, I was semi-obsessed with the Wizard of Oz. I was horribly afraid of the Wicked Witch of the West, but fascinated by her. The movie itself, the mythology, has actually played a large part in the course of my life.

In 5th grade, the school put on a production of of the Wizard of Oz. I took a tape recorder and taped the televised movie. I then went back and practiced every song, every line. To this day, I can recite that movie, line by line, verbatim.

I did not get the part of Dorothy. I did not even get the part of the Cowardly Lion. I was a munchkin, which meant I was in the chorus.

So what does a girl who grew up semi obsessed with the Wizard of Oz do when she has children of her own?

Dress her daughter as Dorothy, every chance she gets.

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So it’s been a while since I blogged. Right now, I’m in the midst of first day of school prep, getting ready for the start of the year at work and trying to figure out how to home school the boys for Pre-K.

The past few weeks have been a bit insane and only going to get more insane as the first day of school approaches.

In the past week, I made the very difficult (for me) decision to pull both boys from Pre-K this year. Obviously, Steve still does not have a job and I was not able to find any financial assistance for the program, or any other program that we qualify for. We are in that shitty position of making just too much money (according to eligibility charts) to qualify for level of aid.

We are not on welfare and don’t belong to Calworks, which would automatically qualify us for daycare/preschool aid. I do not make a great base salary by any stretch (benefits make up for it), but it’s certainly not at the poverty level, which it would need to be to qualify for that type of aid.

I’ve gotten to the point where I’m starting to accept that maybe it’s meant to be for Steve to stay home and take care of the boys this year. I’m not saying that he won’t be looking, or I don’t want him to find a job, but it just seems like we’re beating our head against the wall. Maybe it’s time to focus on the boys and the fact that Daddy is going to have to home school them for Pre-K.

They are actually doing quite well and judging by the developmental level of many of the kids in my daughter’s Kindergarten class last year, I’m not terribly worried. They know many letters, can almost write their name and can draw really well. They are figuring out many things these days, are very social (and obviously have each other) and love to spend lots of time outdoors. They ask questions about anything and everything, like little sponges. I think they’re going to be fine without a formal Pre-K environment. Whenever they are in large groups of children, they listen, get in line, etc. and seem to have all that figured out.

But still. There’s guilt that I can’t afford for the 2 of them to go to full time Pre-K. Not with Sofia going private. And yeah, don’t ask me what will be on the table next year…we’re taking it one day at a time around here.

I will say that I finally explored speech therapy for Will at our public district, so if does qualify, that may necessitate the boys having to go to the public school as obviously the private school doesn’t offer services like this. We’ll see. His stutter is the same as it has been for 2 years, no better, no worse. The problem is he really has to get talking to hear it and he’s not big on talking with strangers. I’m sure the ST would know how to get words out of him, make him comfortable.

In any case, here we are. Sofia starts parochial school next week and there are a million things to do between now and then. And if anyone out there has any great resources for home schooling Pre-K curriculum, I’d love for you to share.

And as far as Steve and I, things are ok. Not great, but better.

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