It’s way too early for my brain to be working

11 10 2010

I woke up at 4 am, back screaming at me and my brain cycling through the things I need to do.  The kids are on fall break so that means today and tomorrow will be spent watching TV and seeing if I can con the g’parents into watching a couple of them.  I may even bathe in sunblock and take them to my family’s communal playground.

Lupus makes me have to be extra cautious but it also does miraculous things with my body.  That bite from last week?  Totally healed.  All that’s left is a small callous – smaller than the sharp end of a pencil.

Yesterday we had my nephew’s 4th birthday party and he’s ADORABLE.  Being a ham runs in the family.  We played at Chuck E. Cheese for a while then he opened his presents.  The one from us ended up being last and when he pulled it out of the bag he yelled “WHAT?? WHAT?!”  It was one of those new Hot Wheels tracks that have the robot obstacle course.  Then he grinned real big and said “ok, we need to go RIGHT NOW.”  LOL  No one even got a hug goodbye – he just escaped with his toys and made Grandpa put them all together.

It was really great to see our family all in one place again.  I miss my family A LOT.  Bob has been working insane amounts of hours and Sister has been getting married and moving.  Grandmommy works overnight.  I have 3 kids and a disease that I have to judge each morning on whether I can handle what I have planned.  The only person I’ve seen with any regularity lately is my Dad who works around the corner from me.

Halloween is coming up and did you know that Ben 10 costumes only go up to a size 8?  What am I supposed to do with THAT BS?  LJ is a size 10/12 at the smallest so it looks like I’ll be making his this year.  All he’s talked about for months is how he wants to be Ben 10, who is his hero.  Alyssa’s going to be a fairy and E-baby is going to be Bumblebee from the Transformers movie.  That means today I’ll be trying to figure out how to make a Ben 10 costume out of a T-Shirt.  I got a 6 pack of white tees, so I have some room for error.  😉

No word yet on if I’m dressing up but I found a slutty Ninja Turtle costume that looked ADORABLE.

Yesterday I went totally OCD and hung shelving, rearranged books, and totally let my crazy take over.  I would be more effective if I weren’t so crazy but I’m in the middle of stepping down on the dose of Effexor again.  It’s the only thing that has ever controlled the OCD so I may just have to get used to this new normal.  Oh well, it’s an asset when I have a job because I don’t screw up.  Screwing up is the most terrible thing ever to a person with OCD because that means the universe is about to dissolve into oblivion.

Cyndi Dollins:  Using mental illness as a tool since 1986.

On that note, I’m working on perfecting my resume so I can get it online.  I don’t know if I can handle a full time job but I’m going nuts not having a challenge.  My self-worth is definitely tied to what I can do and I HATE feeling like I reached the peak of my career at 26.  I also don’t want to be left behind by the industry during this whole get myself better/get the kids raised thing I’m doing now.

In the meantime, I’m going to work on learning everything I can about computer networking on a larger scale and I may even get my Microsoft Office certifications.  I’ve toyed with the idea of going back to school – my choice would be Breneau – but I’m not sure if I can get financial aid.  We’re in that weird middle ground where we’re not rich enough to pay for schooling but not poor enough to get them to pay for it.  I wonder if there are any grants out there for SAHMs with Lupus.

I have more of my sketchbook project to photograph and get online.  I think it’s coming along rather nicely and I hope I can finish by the deadline.  My current page is an interlude from ways to get revenge and it’s on things I hate with a passion.

Then I need to update our family calendar… and get Ernesto to the vet because he’s been limping on his front leg… I need to finish printing and putting together my sister’s wedding album… photograph and list stuff on Etsy… talk to my dad about getting a couple of computers from him… work on altering a couple of Alyssa’s uniforms… go through all the kids clothing and get rid of stuff that doesn’t fit…

And you know how it is:  when your brain is that full, it’s impossible to sleep.  So I took my meds, I’m sipping on some coffee and I think I’ll work on my sketchbook until I feel like I can rest a little more.  Later today, hopefully I’ll write a much less boring post, but no promises!



17 05 2010

It’s almost officially summertime in the South.  Just as I was putting the groceries in the car it started to sprinkle.  The drops were heavy and hot, just like the air.  During the five minute trip home, the storm went from flash flood torrents to a steady, soaking rain.  Getting the groceries out of the car, both Ethan and I were soaked through.  I had hoped to wear my cute outfit until Shaun got home but nature thwarted me.

I dressed up a bit this morning for my cardiologist appointment.  I wore my BCBG jeans, a tissue style v-neck shirt, and my favorite Ann Taylor t-strap wedges.  I even put on makeup.  The first time I see a new doctor, I try not to look too much like a country bumpkin or a soccer mom.  I want their impression to be of a smart and able grown woman.

The second or third time I see a doctor, I don’t care as much if I show up in my normal suburban casual style – soft capris and a tank top.  I normally have a hat on too because I try not to pay attention to my hair on days I don’t have to.  Basically, I don’t mind if they see me in my normal state of disrepair once they know I’m not an idiot.

Today I dressed up to see a new cardiologist.  I don’t like him enough yet to say “my” cardiologist.  Shaun mentioned that just because of his profession, he started out in my view of him with a big black mark against him.  Really, if my – yes MY rheumatologist – hadn’t insisted, I wouldn’t have seen this one.

It’s not that I hate cardiologists in general, it’s just that the science hasn’t caught up to a point to where they can help me.  I do the tests.  I try their meds.  I change my lifestyle.  They tell me that “once I know what it is, I’ll feel better.”  I’ve known what it is for over 10 years and I still don’t feel better.

This guy was ok – he seemed a few years older than me and when he came into the room, he introduced himself to Ethan and shook his hand.  It was adorable!  The entire staff loved on the little man and that made it much more comfortable for me to not have to worry about him being in the way.  Some doctors really do mind having kids in the room.

The doctor seemed to brush off my concerns about the tachychardia and the “syncopal episodes” that have become more frequent.  My first EKG of the day showed that my pulse was 110 at its lowest and the rhythm was “within range.”  He told me that if I felt funny in the future, the best thing to do was lay down on the floor so I didn’t fall when I passed out.  Yes, thanks, that’s very helpful, Doctor.  I think you’d like to meet the administrator at my old school who said that if a kid hits you, to take off your glasses and curl up in a ball and scream for a teacher.  Suggestions like that are TOTALLY plausible.

In my medical history, I had mentioned very clearly that I have a bunch of dead relatives who died sitting up.  They were otherwise young and healthy but they couldn’t fall during the “syncopal event” and their hearts never kicked back in.  This happened to my dad when he was just a few years older than I am right now and the only reason he got a diagnosis and a pacemaker was because it happened in front of a nurse as he was being discharged from the hospital.

I think I have a right to be worried.  The doctor today told me that I was not my dad or my relatives and I shouldn’t be scared over nothing.  I don’t happen to think it’s nothing and I told him that.  My genetics are the perfect storm of potential heart issues – every person on my mom’s side has MVP with dysautonomia which is now being shown to be very similar to neurocardiogenic syncope.  He scheduled another echo which was done today, another EKG – I’m in the running for the most EKGs in a year – and a tilt table test on Friday.  I don’t think he would have scheduled the tilt table test if my rheumatologist, my primary care, and my mother had all demanded it.  I have no plan to scare the shit out of my kids the way my dad scared me.  If I have this, I’d rather they stopped my heart while attached to monitors with doctors in the room.  I don’t even know when I’ll get the results from today’s ultrasound.  I figure I’ll call on Wednesday if no one calls me.

On Saturday, I went to Walmart by myself.  It was the first time I’d been out of the house for a length of time in weeks.  I’ve had a lot of bad days lately but last week I made it through an entire week without needing Shaun to stay home and I felt brave enough to go out by myself.

While I was out, I saw LJs teacher and we chatted for a moment in the bathroom supply aisle.  About 30 minutes later, she walked up to me in the little girls’ section (yay, clearance racks!) and said “I am so envious of you.  You’re out shopping in peace and have time to look!  You just look so relaxed and refreshed!”  I made the normal thanks, and thank God for my husband who watched the kids pleasantries and we parted ways again.

It’s so weird to me that people envy me.  It seems so odd because I LIVE in my body and everything I have has been fought for.  Nothing has ever come easy.  It’s only this quirk of genetics that brought me this auto-immune disorder that makes my body regenerate incredibly quickly.  I see former classmates of mine and they look 10 and 15 years older than I do.  Lifes’ struggles show on their bodies and on their faces.  They have visible lines that tell of battles fought and of hardships overcome.

My skin doesn’t sag or show sun damage.  I can’t even keep my ears pierced because my body heals so quickly.  My body is still firm and all my lady bits are in the place God originally put them.  I weigh 10 lbs more than I did when I had my hysterectomy but it only amplified my boobs and butt.  My hair grows over an inch a month and my fingernails are almost always naturally long.

I have three gorgeous, healthy, and smart children.  LJ looks like me in his build.  Chickpea and Ethan are the spitting image of Shaun.  On the outside, we have the perfect little suburban life.

People envy that.  They don’t know that my body attacks every invader, whether it be a dissolvable stitch or a fetus.  They don’t know that I have almost every side effect to every medication.  They don’t know about being a foster parent or about adoption.  They think I’m overprotective or concerned about nothing when I parent my children differently.

I really don’t think other people are any more blessed or lucky than I am and my family is.  They’ve fought different battles and walked different roads.  It’s just weird to me that some people spend time being envious of others.  I don’t think it’s bad or anything, just different.

I would rather people look at me and think “it is possible to overcome what I’m going through.”

Psalm 129

“Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth,”
Let Israel now say—
“Many a time they have afflicted me from my youth;
Yet they have not prevailed against me.
The plowers plowed on my back;
They made their furrows long.”
The LORD is righteous;
He has cut in pieces the cords of the wicked.

Goodwill Day

27 02 2010

On a side note before I write this post, why is it that when I need a notepad I can’t ever find one?  All I need is to jot down the file name of this picture! Now if I’m trying to do something that doesn’t require paper, I’m overwhelmed with all different types of sticky notes and notebooks and crap.  The  missing sock fairy is fucking with me!

Yesterday Shaun and I declared today “Goodwill Day.”  Isn’t that such a nice warm, fuzzy name?  I mean it really motivates you to give stuff away as you imagine homeless people shopping for sweaters and shoes for thrift store prices.  We have 3 Goodwill stores within a 30 mile radius and 2 homeless people.  One of those people has a home, he’s just the community crazy person who walks up and down the road all day.

In our little suburban American home, it really means “we’ve collected too much shit and some of it has to GO before you can get more shit.”  For us, that means clothing.  Kids grow taller and we grow a little wider and a little saggier.  I’m looking at a stack of shirts of Shaun’s that were in the Goodwill stack that I salvaged because I love the fabric.  I know that most likely, it will be a while before I use it but damn – fabric is expensive and men’s shirts at Goodwill are like $2.40!  If you get a 2X that’ll make more than a nice throw pillow!

While I’m only half sarcastic about giving stuff to Goodwill – I am totally 100% ecstatic about Goodwill Day because I get to go to the store!  Why?  Books!  Racks and racks of books that are so much more random than browsing at Barnes & Nobles.  I can buy EVERYTHING that looks interesting and spend $30.  If I go to B&N, I get to pick out either 3 paperbacks or one hardback for $30.  (Normally, I spend upwards of $200 if I’m let anywhere close to a traditional book store.  I have no willpower.)

Those Animorphs books up there?  That was my last Goodwill Day score for LJ because he reads like I do.  75 cents a piece, bitches.  75 cents!  That’s where I pick up the Scholastic books that are pimped at school book fairs too.  I love Scholastic books but I hate those damn book fairs. (This is the part of the show where I channel Katt Williams.)

Now, baby, I know your school has been sending home those flyers every day for a month and I know that’s all your teachers are talking about.  I know.  Now let’s look at this paper.  It’s saying this awesome book is 25 pages long and the pictures are really awesome.  It also says that book is $15.  You’ll be done reading that book the day you get it.  After that, it’ll sit on a shelf and maybe sometime later you’ll read it again.  Because it won’t take you long to finish it, you’ll want two or three of these awesome books and baby, I just don’t have that kind of money because you also like video games, toys, and movies.

Let’s think for a second, baby.  All those other kids at your school – all 2,000 of them – are getting this same paper sent home and most of them can’t read well.  So their mama is going to look at this and think “if I spend $15, maybe he’ll practice” or something.  Thing is, that book will come in and that kid isn’t ever going to look at it.  Odds are pretty good that those brand new books are going to end up at one of the 3 community Goodwills for 75 cents a piece.  THEN, because you waited, I can buy you EVERY SINGLE BOOK in that flyer and still only spend $15.

So, happy Goodwill Day!  I’ll be in my closet if you need me.

3 weeks

23 02 2010

3 weeks is how long it’s been since I’ve posted.

That’s because the past 21 days have been FUCKED. UP.

So instead of posting, I’ve been escaping into books.  Christine Feehan, Alex somebody or other, Kay Hooper, Richard North Patterson have all been on my  reading list lately.  Now most of them are in the bathroom floor because I normally read in the tub.

My bathroom looks like this: dirty laundry, dirty laundry, basket of soaps, stack of books, stool (the kind you stand on), stack of books, basket of bubble baths, books… It’s a really tiny bathroom too, so most of the floor is taken up by a big bamboo rug so it’s not like the books are TOUCHING the floor.  They’re just sort of near it.

It’s not gay unless balls are touching, right?

Reading is my drug basically because if you need to escape from life, no one will yell at you for reading.  People are SUPPOSED to read!  It makes brain cells instead of destroying them.  Right?

On the reasons for needing an escape, it’s pretty much because life has sucked balls for a little bit.  It’s all working out now and it’s all ending up to be for the best but as all of us parents of special-needs children know – everyone wants a say in how you parent your kids.

I’m trying to decide how much to share. While I firmly believe that my life experiences could help someone who needs to know they aren’t alone, I also need to make sure the family is safe and doesn’t feel embarrassment or shame.

3 weeks ago Chickpea went through a panic stage.  We know what the trigger was – there’s a teacher who she got abnormally attached to who went to have surgery.  Suddenly, that security blanket she had at school was gone and she started having a series of panic attacks and she self-harms.  Then things got blown out of proportion by the school and we ended up having to be scrutinized by DFCS again… just like when we were foster parents.  I may as well just keep writing the reports that we used back then so that when they want to call on us I already have all the paperwork ready. *rolls eyes*  Here I thought we were regaining some privacy.

The past 3 weeks have been spent in therapy dealing with these things – what was just  series of flashbacks in one of the kids has now turned into a totally new trauma for all 3 that threatens our “forever family.”  (Like my kids believe in forever… yeah, right.) Thank God for the kids’ treatment center because they were able to give us advice and make sure the damage to the kids’ was minimized.

It still causes all these… emotions… in me that the kids had to go through this AGAIN.  Fear, panic, shock, anger, more fear, stress, grief,  more fear, and then whole lots of fear.  I just feel so unsettled like maybe I’m the crazy one in this equation.  Then when other things that have nothing to do with these events happen, it just turns into the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Migraine?  *SOBS* Problems with my parents and siblings? *SOBS* Shaun had a rough day at work? *SOBS* It’s going to snow? *SOBS*

Everything now really is looking up.  The mail-order pharmacy finally got figured out and mailed me a 90 day supply of my medication.  I visited Best Buy to pick up some stuff and ended up leaving without being mad at the employees and with the stuff we needed to get. I got my Levenger order and I’m setting up daily diaries for the kids.  I have plans with my mom to go to a ballet with Chickpea and everyone is very excited.

And I’m ready for the next Kay Hooper book in this series.  Sanity is good so I’m going to try and hold on to it.  Bibliophilia saves another brain!

what was plan b again?

4 01 2010

I could have SWORN the kids went back to school today.  I got them all ready, meds and breakfast done, warmed up the car, bundled up against the 18 degree weather and took off.

What did I find?  The schools were EMPTY.  It’s a teacher work day today.


I was going to work on cleaning house today but no.  There’s no point in cleaning house when all the kids are home.  30 seconds after putting away the vacuum, a toy box explodes and dirt somehow finds its way into corners I didn’t even knew existed.

So… plan B.  I guess I’ll clean my bathroom (since it’s kid free) and wash my make-up brushes.  I may even photograph my antique books to post on here.  I already wrote an About TABLP page and changed my colors to post-holiday coolness.  Then I guess I can set up my gaming machine that has a brand new video card, an LED fan, and THREE 320G hard drives in it.  Then maybe I’ll write about my Best Buy experience on Saturday and going to Dad’s to work on the computer.  If I’m not exhausted by then, I may crochet for a while or work on the computer “art” I got from my dad.  I could also hang up the hooks I got on Saturday for our hats (because our hats are awesome and make great decorations while they aren’t being worn.)

Yes, I am ignoring the kids.  I want them to be so damn bored that they are ecstatic about going back to school.  It’s my super-genius plan to make them enjoy school. 😉

telling abuse related behaviors from age-related behaviors

11 12 2009

One of the hardest things for me to do is to tell the difference between behaviors that the children have because of the abuse they went through and just their natural personality and age based behaviors.  There are some things that are pretty obvious.

Climbing the counters to steal candy off the top of the fridge – age related behavior.

Grabbing a kid’s crotch at school – abuse related behavior.

Breaking toys when mad – age related.

Smearing poo on the walls – abuse related.

But what about the other stuff?  Things like acting out for attention, being a know-it-all, and competing with siblings and other family members for attention.  It could be related to an attachment or anxiety disorder or it could just be that’s how they are naturally.  (I know plenty of grown-ups who are know-it-all attention whores and I’m sure they were born that way.)

It’s hardest with Alyssa because she is so much like me but also so much unlike me.  She considers herself a small grown-up who has what it takes to take care of other people and who believes that grown-ups need to earn her respect.  That’s all just like I was as a child.

Then she also refuses to do her work at school or learn things just for the fun of it.  She’d rather make friends and play at school than do her part.  That is so unlike me – I always wanted to please adults and impress them with my mad knowledge skills.  I took control by exceeding all expectations.  She takes control by manipulation then acts out when people don’t comply.  I’m a perfectionist and hardest on myself.  She seems to believe that people should just give her stuff because she’s adorable and smart.  If I wanted something, I would figure out how to get it.  If she wants something, she just takes it.

So how do you tell?

Good Deal

30 10 2009

Back to a serious post… if anything that goes on here can be considered serious.   We go from OMGWTF? to HAHA-AWESOME! in less time than it takes to butter a piece of toast.

The kids are starting to get a lot of our sense of humor (finally) and we haven’t even started indoctrinating them with Monty Python and Mel Brooks movies.  They have seen Down Periscope multiple times, so that helps.  It’s pretty awesome to see them crack cynical, sarcastic filled jokes and it’s even better to see them understanding and using puns.  LJ is a LOT like me – he says “puns work because of a misused homophone.”  Absolutely child.  Absolutely.

Me and LJ – we have an odd sort of relationship.  It’s been hard for me from the beginning with him.  There was a time where we almost refused placement with him – it was that bad.  See, I’m an alpha female.  I have been since the moment I was born and everyone in my family will tell you that.  LJ, when he first came to us, was under the impression that a woman’s job was to cook and take care of the younger babies.  This woman who will never exist was supposed to see a 7 year old boy as having more status in the household than her.  (I know I’ve written before about how the household is like a dog pack.)  Well… as you can tell, this attitude didn’t work.

So, over the 2 years we’ve known him and he’s come to live with  us and become our son, we’ve been working on this.  At times I’m overbearing and at times, he is.  For the most part, he’s figured out that he doesn’t get to tell A&E what to do and I try and give him responsibility over himself.  (I do get to overrule stupid things like wearing shorts to school when it’s 50 degrees outside.)

We meet at loving books.  He loves to read and so do I.  We’d rather read in our bed than talk to anyone.  The problem is that he’s not real sure where the lines between fiction and reality are.  He told some teachers at the school earlier this week that a dragon had bitten him on the neck.  Of course, no one believed him, but the counselor called home to tell me what was going on.  He’s had some pretty big stuff come up in the past few weeks so she knew this may be something we need to discuss.

He and I sat in the car and talked while in the carpool lane to pick up his sister.  We talked and talked and talked.  He didn’t understand that the words he says to people cause reactions – no matter what you say, you’re going to get a reaction.  We talked about how if people knew he just made stuff up all the time that no one would listen to him if something was actually wrong.  We talked about believable stories – dragon bit you?  Obviously not true.  (though, it’s probably better to make up a story that can’t possibly be true than say something equally untrue but believable.)

We talked about appropriate things to share with people (conditional boundaries) and what would happen if those boundaries weren’t respected.  We talked about kids in the foster care system (when we were picking up our AA check at DFCS, he saw some classmates in the waiting room) and the different things that could cause a child to need care.

We spent a lot of time talking about severity and differences – not all kids go through the same thing he did.  For some kids, they had an easier time of it.  For some, they had a time that was much worse than his.  We talked about how everyone, everywhere has something in their past that hurts and how we deal with it determines the kind of person we are.

After all that – we made a deal.

Until November 15th, he is not allowed to either make up fantasy stories or read fiction novels.  He still has to read every night – but he gets true stories.   He’s involved in a biography of Cal Ripken Jr. right now.  I’ll probably go to Goodwill today or tomorrow to pick up more kiddo friendly non-fiction books.  If not that, then we’ll visit the local library.

Things have been moderately better since then.  He’s been meeting my eye and making jokes with me.  He’s been helpful and respectful to the little bits.  Last night, we even put everyone to bed with the sound of laughter even though it was an emotionally difficult day for everyone.  He woke up this morning and told me – amazed – “I didn’t have any nightmares last night, Mommy!”  Awesome.  Pure awesome.

This morning we talked about how to say “its not your business” to people who made them uncomfortable with questions.  We talked about whose business it is – the family’s and the doctors.

After going through foster care and adoption, this is something all of us need to rebuild.  We all need to work on appropriate levels of privacy for ourselves and each other.  We’ve all just gone through so many years of having to report every little thing by phone and in writing.  There were always people in and out of our house – I couldn’t let the laundry go or not load the dishwasher because at ANY moment, someone could pull up and get to judge our worthiness.  This is partly why I’m so open on the internet – it would be hard to rape our privacy and background any more than what it took to become a foster/adopt parent.

Now, we’re having to work on telling people it’s not their business.  Truth is, most people aren’t looking to help – they’re looking for gossip.  Shaun and I are also having to relearn to trust our own judgment.  We’re both grown but we’re too used to having every move picked apart.   That causes stress and anxiety for all of us – we can’t just relax and have normal everyday fights.  Everything is a possible catastrophe.  Everything is caused by this event or that event, and everyone has a different opinion of what caused what.

I mean, I just want my child to feel free enough to scream “I hate you – you’re the meanest mom EVER.”  Right now, we’re still all worried about what we’re saying and trying to use proper communication skills.  In foster care, if they said “I hate her – she’s so mean” to a case worker it wouldn’t be about whether I confiscated the Nintendo DS – it would be “are you feeding them properly?  Whats your discipline policy?  We need to have a face to face meeting about this placement.  I need to talk to my supervisor.”   Basically, if you get mad and immature, your whole life could be turned upside down  (and immature is probably 30% of my personality.)

I want to be able to say “I don’t even want to see you right now” without it meaning “she may not love me enough to keep me.”  No, I just need some time not seeing YOU.  I’ll get to where I want to see YOU again but first I need 5 minutes to look at something else.  Every word that I say has to be examined from how they’ll receive it and how it will sound if they repeat it or how it will sound when I tell the therapist about it (because I can’t lie worth a shit and they can tell when something is going on.)  Then the kids see that I’m uncertain and they start thinking that maybe I don’t know what I’m doing and maybe they don’t have to listen to me.   Or something.

For now, it’s just repeating “I’m your mom.  I was your mom yesterday and I’ll be your mom tomorrow.  I’ll be your mom next year and the year after that.  I’ll be your mom when you get old and have babies.  I’ll be your mom no matter what.”   If we say it enough, maybe we’ll all start to believe its not fiction or fantasy.