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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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Just to follow up on Will’s IEP for speech…

They did a full psychological Eval based on his prior head injury…Long story short he came back as advanced in many areas, def. ready for Kindergarten. They were surprised he’s not in preschool (Kudos to Steve on that for his “home schooling”) and of course, their main preschool teacher, Sprout.

They were not able to use my video language samples for a variety of BS reasons. They did acknowledge he has a stutter, but they could not grade his samples, used the ones he gave at the meetings (where he barely spoke). He scored above average on so many other developmental tests that I’m sure that came into play. They want to reassess in a few months and they said they would definitely see where he’s at in the fall and more than likely, provide services in kindergarten. They said that for now, since he’s unaware of his stutter, not to try and draw attention or correct it.

I wasn’t super surprised. I’m semi irritated that they could not use the video clips, but she did say I can certainly send more as time goes on.

The speech therapist kind of bugged me. The plan is to plan a meeting in a few months to go over strategies within the home. Whenever I hear that phrase, it definitely pushes my buttons. I get ultra defensive, but it’s a sore spot for me. Overall, I think she was implying that he is competing to talk and this causes the stutter. she suggested that the family reinforce that everyone gets a turn to talk (insert sacharine preschool teacher voice here).

I have a problem with this implication for a few reasons. A) This girl is all of about 27 and probably doesn’t have any kids, let alone 3 small kids and while she may have worked with kids, I can guarantee she’s never experienced the level of competition that exists for my attention in her life, nor will she ever (if she’s lucky). Will has been stuttering since he was 2 years old. He does it when he’s excited, when he’s calm, when he’s alone or with many others. Of course he competes to talk. My house is like a 3 ring circus most of the time. *I* compete to talk in my house. And maybe it makes the stutter worse. But it’s not the cause of the stutter.

Of course, in the back of my mind, I know they have both seen all of the medical reports and all the awful stuff that is in there from that time, so that colors my defensiveness, if you will.

The psychologist was nice and I think she “got it.” Stay tuned…

So thinks are semi ok. I mean, not really, but we’re just cruising along on fumes, as per the “new normal.”

In these highly charged, political times, I keep hearing about the disappearing middle class and it’s like “Yeah, hello!? Right here?!” It irritates me to see both parties use the plight of hard working Americans as stump fodder. At least on the right, I see a lot pandering but little political will to actually come up with solutions. Now that it’s politically convenient for them, the right are all over the “long term unemployed” problem. What.a.joke.

But I digress…

I do have some good news!

A few weeks ago, I heard about Van Halen touring with David Lee Roth. There was a time when I was an avid concert-goer, but the combination of 3 kids and skyrocketing tickets prices kind of put the kibosh on all of that. One band I never say, in its heyday, was Van Halen. I had VH scrawled all over my pee-chee in high school, but was never fortunate enough to see them in concert. I thought to myself “The only way I’ll be going to that concert is to win tickets…”

On the way to work a few days later, one of the local stations was giving away tickets. I needed to be caller 101. Lo and behold… I was caller number 101!! I was in shock. I had to pull over as I was afraid I’d a) get in an accident or b) drop the call!

This past weekend, I watched the Superbowl, with the rest of the world. I had entered into an office pool with the chance to win $50, $75 $150 or $200 for the final score.

 Guess who who won $200 for the final score?!?! MOI!

I had pretty much given up and wasn’t even paying attention at that point (was bathing children). About 10 minutes after the game, I picked up the pool sheet and noticed that I’d won!!

I’d say it was time I bought some lotto tickets…Ya think?

In other fun news, to make a very long story short, I’ve been working on some geneology for my father’s Italian side. It’s been fascinating.

Armed with access to my friend’s ancestry.com account and a few bits and pieces, I was able to put together most of my father’s, grandfather’s and great grandfather’s family on the paternal side. They came from Italy at the turn of the century, most of them barely 21 and settled just outside ofSan Francisco. They worked in horticulture and the trades and built a life for themselves. Most of them lived amongst the Irish population, hence my own Half/Half heritage.

In all of this, I discovered I have cousins who live 10 minutes away. I knew they were there and I knew generally that we were related, but I put the pieces together. Our great grandfathers were brothers. We come from the Tuscany region (I knew that).

We’re going to have a mini reunion of sorts soon. Although I guess you can’t call it a reunion if we’ve never met…In any case, it’s been personally fulfilling to discover all of this. You just never know where life is going to take you.

 In other news…Will’s speech IEP is next week. The clip I created a few weeks ago wasn’t adequate. They needed at least 150 words of him speaking, not a bunch of clips as I presented. Getting this from him was like pulling teeth as he clams up as soon he senses I’m filming him. I did get a 7 minute clip, but it wasn’t the best, it was what I could get from him within the time constraints.

We shall see where it goes from here.

As I’ve mentioned a few times, my 4.5 year old Will has had a speech assessment beforeat 26 months, but was barely talking and was found to have a moderate delay at that time. Not enough to qualify for any services. Due to his head injury in infancy, we were told to watch for any developmental issues. The only thing that has presented itself has been the stutter. It’s been consistent since he was about 2.5 years old. It has not improved, it’s just the way he speaks.

I’m now going through the process of having a speech evaluation for the stutter, within our school district. At my job within a neighboring school district, I work in close proximity to our Special Ed department, so I’m somewhat familiar with the process.

Of course, Will is painfully shy. When I asked his preschool teacher last year about the stutter, she admitted that he doesn’t speak much, at least not enough for her ever to hear the stutter. Many people have wondered what I’m talking about as they don’t hear it. He has to be very comfortable for his natural speech pattern to emerge. Otherwise, he is just incredibly quiet.

He is 100% unaware of the stutter. My concern is that once he starts kindergarten, that will change. He’s very sensitive and quiet as it is. Any negative attention drawn to the stutter could cause him to withdraw more.

We began the assessment with a psychological/developmental evaluation. He aced it and may, in fact, be semi advanced in gross motor skills. He certainly knows all his letters, counts to 30, everything he needs to know to start kindergarten in the fall. The psychologist mentioned that his history looks “A Lot Scarier on Paper.” You got that right, sister.

The next day, we met with the speech therapist for her assessment. In the end, she was not able to get a sample of his speech patterns as he barely said anything, completely clammed up, which I suspected might happen. Will clammed up, gave one word answers, shrugged and nodded. A lot. He can take a loooooooooong time to warm up to people and he wasn’t exactly warming up to the ST. In fact, at one point, she asked “What is your favorite food?” and his answer was “I don’t want to talk about that anymore.” Alrighty then!

I did show the ST a video so she could see I wasn’t completely crazy. She asked if I had more videos, I told her yes. Oh yes. Many. I have been videotaping him over the past month as I suspected it would come to this.

So, this is the little montage I came up with that shows him stuttering in his conversational speech. It happens when he’s alone, with other kids, excited, relaxed, tired, etc. There is no rhyme or reason to when it happens, but there are certain patterns of how it presents itself. I sent this to the ST and meet with her again next week.

Thoughts and opinons welcome.

I had several people ask me about that last post and what my husband was doing during the day.

I did start thinking about it and was like, WTF? How did *I* get to be the one to bring home the bacon and fry it up in the f’ing pan?

I have myself to blame for a lot of it. I am a control freak. I don’t trust that he will do things the way I would, so I just take over. It’s an issue.

That said, yes, he could have got his ass out of bed when my daughter hit her finger.

I won’t argue that he can do more (grocery shopping, folding and putting away laundry *properly and timely*), but as far as what he does do on a normal day – he herds the kittens during the day, does laundry and light cleaning (very light), does drop off and pick up, breakfast, lunch and often dinner and basically makes sure everyone is in one piece when I get home. This is no small feat, especially the boys with scooter accidents and all sorts of shenanigans.

Also, the speech therapist was impressed that Will was *so* kindergarten ready, but wasn’t attending preschool. She asked who had been working with him and I had to give it up to my husband, ’cause it certainly hasn’t been me. I didn’t feel the need to mention that Sprout TV can also take a lot of credit for his mad kindergarten readiness.

My husband is far from perfect, something I have detailed ad nauseum over the past 5 years (5 years!!!!!) in this blog. However, I don’t know too many men who would be able to (almost) singlehandedly care for newborn, one month old twins (and an almost 2 yr old) at the drop of a hat, take care of everything on minimal sleep, with his wife seriously ill in the hospital and still remain positive. (Sidenote – My boss has a 3 week old newborn and he and his wife are completely overwhelmed. They have a live in grandma. I do have to resist the urge to say ‘You have no idea what overwhelmed means’ *insert evil laugh*)

The husband and I have a lot of heavy shit going on right now, and he is almost always Mr. Glass Half Full. There is something to be said for that, especially since I’m Miss Glass Half Empty most of the time. Oh man, if I was with someone more like myself, I’d be a walking basket case most of the time.

So as hard as my life is most of the time, I am thankful that I don’t have to do laundry. Or clean the toilet. Or mop the floor. Or do the dishes. Or prepare too many meals at night. Gives me more times to spend with the kids. And watching Bravo TV, of course.

And regarding that top photo – only my husband would be stupid brave enough to bring 3 little kids to a beach. Alone.

Mama’s Losin’ It

A day in your life…recap.

Yesterday was a fairly representative reflection of a typical day for me.

I woke up at 5:30. Hit the snooze alarm 3 times to get up at just before 6 a.m.

Hopped in shower. By 6:15, all three children were awake.

Made my daughter lunch for school, put her uniform out so she could dress herself (a new phenomenon. She can dress herself every other day, but on school days, she becomes completely incapable of the most basic functions).

Made all three children breakfast. Just before I was about to leave for work, the children starting fighting over I’m not even sure what. Sofia stormed into the bathroom (where I was attempting to curl my hair) and slammed the pocket door HARD on her finger. Hysterics ensued.

She was crying pretty hard, so I knew that it hurt. I promptly got her an ice pack and set her up watching The Brady Bunch in my bed (next to my half asleep husband) and left for work. I had many pangs of guilt as I left, questioning whether I should take her to the doctor…

Once I arrive at work at 7:30 a.m., was caught up in the drama of the workplace that is a Unified School District Office in California. Budget cuts are no the horizon and it’s about to get ‘really real‘ down in the ole DO. Every man for himself…

The School Board is being wanting to not shoulder all of the public discord for these decisions, so has asked all department heads and Administrators to give a list of reductions, based on a dollar amount given to them. These decisions are based on existing monies and projections, so every department head and Administrator wants to meet with the person who creates the budget, my boss (who is already cranky from having a 2 week old baby and post partum wife at home).

By 9 a.m., I had worked with the Director of Personnel’s Assistant and scheduled about 6 or 7 meetings for him over the course of the next few days. By 10 a.m., I was ready for a break.

I spent the rest of the day playing catch up, writing letters to successful and unsuccessful bidders on an RFP we sent out recently (request for proposal), did some accounting work and tried to stay out of the drama that is always lingering in this place.

As my son Will had his first speech evaluation in the afternoon, I left at 12:30 p.m. to pick him up and take him to the appointment.

The appointment didn’t go so well. Will clammed up, gave one word answers, shrugged and nodded. A lot. I suspected that this would be a challenge as his stutter only comes out when he’s engaged in conversation. He can take a loooooooooong time to warm up to people and he wasn’t exactly warming up to the ST. In fact, at one point, she asked “What is your favorite food?” and his answer was “I don’t want to talk about that anymore.” Alrighty then!

I did show the ST a video so she could see I wasn’t completely crazy. She asked if I had more videos, I told her yes. Oh yes. Many. I have been videotaping him over the past month as I suspected it would come to this.

In the middle of the speech appointment, my phone rings. I would normally ignore it, but recognizing it as local, I excuse myself from the room. Will looks panic stricken that I am leaving him, as I promised I would not.

Well, it’s Sofia’s school. The Secretary is telling me that Sofia’s finger is really swollen and black and blue. Ugh. They recommend I have it “looked at.” MOTHER OF THE YEAR MOMENT.

After the speech appointment, I call Sofia’s primary care physician, but the “advice nurse” doesn’t recommend me coming in. Still, with her school suggesting she be seen, I decided I would take her in just because.

Of course, once I see Sofia and that, despite the appearance of her finger, she is perfectly fine, I wonder why I am driving 45 minutes to San Francisco to have them tell me that she’s fine.

We go. They tell me she is probably fine. Beautiful. They can do an xray, but would want to wait for the swelling to go down.

Lovely. By this time, Sofia is back to teasing, accosting and just generally messing with her brothers in the car, so yeahhhhhhhhhhhh. Such a waste of gas and a co-pay.

We arrive home around 6 p.m. and everyone is starving. I make dinner, and then get them in the bath. They are in bed around 8:30-9, which is on the late side for them.

Once they are in bed, I start working on my videos of Will’s speech to send to the ST. I create a video montage of him stuttering that takes hours to upload to Youtube due to my JACKED up network connection.

I watch 2 episodes of Alcatraz (love it) while uploading and finally go to bed around 2 a.m., knowing that I will have about 4 hours sleep.

And now…I am in desperate need of a nap!!

I have been the suckiest blogger the past six months for a combination of reasons.

I got a new smartphone (free, after writing a letter of complaint to Sprint) that I now use to surf the web and check email.

Our wireless hasn’t been working at home for a few months now, so having to sit tethered to a desk (when I do this all day at work) doesn’t hold much appeal to me.

Mostly, I haven’t had much to say that is vastly different from what I’ve said in the past. Things are not good, but I guess they could be worse. There is food on the table, there is electricity, there is gas in the car. The kids are happy.

Update on life?

Christmas break was up and down. I was off work for 2 weeks, this was good. It was nice to spend some real, unscheduled time with the kids on a daily basis. Granted, it wasn’t easy, but I feel lucky that I have a job where I’m able to take this kind of break.

The weather has been divine, that helped too. Cold nights and warm, spring like days. The kids spent every day outside, riding bikes or going to the park. I was able to catch up on sleep and recharge my battery a bit.

Sofia and Will both learned to ride their bikes with no training wheels. David learned as well, but he’s a little gun shy, so we put them back on for him.

We finally, finally, finally got all 3 kids sleeping in the same room!! After 4 years! I promised Sofia I’d get a bunk bed when she slept in the room with the boys, I had to follow through. I found a very inexpensive one from Walmart and it’s working out fine.

I had some wonderful family and friends help me out financially during the holidays, this was good. I have a lot to be thankful for, no question. Thanks for some incredibly generous friends, my children had a fabulous Christmas. They received razor scooters, trucks, dolls, arts and crafts and aforementioned bunk bed. Not too much, not too little, just the right amount.

Sofia continues to be a handful. I am beginning to think that things are never going to get easier with her, that her and I are headed into a very complicated, lifelong, mother-daughter dynamic. I adore her, but we butt heads constantly. It’s Taurus vs. Taurus.

Financially, things are about the same. My second job hasn’t needed me since early December, so the past 6 weeks have been difficult – to say the least. I do struggle to get by and quite frankly, not sure how we would have gotten through the holidays were it not for the help of friends. It gets old getting by on fumes, let me tell you. I finally came clean to my sister in law about our situation as I was tired of pretending that all was well. She was surprisingly understanding about it. At least to my face.

We’re looking into filing bankruptcy$ and this is scary new territory for me. It’s all in the midst of being figured out. I’m trying to be positive about the future, realizing it could be so much worse. One day at a time.