A mommy question

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I don’t usually go asking for “mommy advice.” This being my 4th child, I am usually not surprised by much, but as he’s gotten older, and now toward the toddler stage, Thor seems to be determined to be a horse of a different color, even more so than he has been all along.

To clarify, my son is very much a creature of habit, he has never, since birth, been a big fan of change. This extends not only to his routine, but other things like his toys, what music he finds comforting, and other things. Maybe you get the picture.

When things upset his “routine” or he is feeling insecure it’s not a happy time around here until he is secure again. Usually the thing that upsets him the most in that regard, are his immunizations. Usually those can throw him for a loop, and it seems we get him settled down, only for it to soon be time for the next set.

Eating is where we are having a lot of the problems I haven’t run into before. He doesn’t seem to want to transition to table food, even though he has been plenty old enough for awhile now. The texture of table food seems to bother him. He absolutely refuses to eat anything that isn’t the consistency of “baby food. If something is thicker, or the least big chunky, he will flatly refuse to eat it. Not even mashed potatoes please him.

John and I always offer him bites of what we are eating, but it is rare that he will try one bite, if at all, even if he otherwise seems to be hungry. I know part of the issue may be that he still only has only his four front teeth, and even biting is a new thing for him.

The only table foods he doesn’t seem to mind so far are vanilla yogurt, plain hummus, pita bread and pita chips. I have no idea how to get him to eat a wider variety beyond what he is already eating table food wise, except offering him tastes of our dinner as we already are. Meanwhile we are still making sure he gets the baby foods he will eat, and making sure he gets a bit of formula every day along with the whole milk until he is eating enough to make sure he doesn’t get anemic. He’s not quite capable of chewing meat yet with just 4 teeth I think.

He’s not picky about food, except when it comes to texture. He eats almost anything jarred we sit in front of him, and so far only has one mild food allergy. (apples)

I am kind of stumped as to how to approach this. All of my older kids were off baby food and eating table food just fine by the first birthday. I have no idea what the hangup may be here, other than he seems to have far less teeth than they did at the same age.

Christmas Eve Thoughts

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“There’s nothing sadder in this world than to awake Christmas morning and not be a child.”

   – Erma Bombeck

Holidays are never easy, especially far away from a lot of the people I care for and nearly everything I have ever known for the longest portion of my life. I am not from Pennsylvania, where my husband and I presently live with our son. I am, however, originally from a rather small town in central Ohio, one I have lived in my entire childhood and all but a handful of years out of my adult life. Being here isn’t easy sometimes, especially at holidays. It’s lonely, and depressing, even when I keep trying to tell myself it shouldn’t be with John and Thor here with me.

The rest of my surviving family is all meeting at my grandma’s house this evening to open presents, eat ham salad sandwiches, and fight over the last black olive like we always did. This is our first Christmas without my grandfather. I didn’t make it there last year to see him, or bring him his gift before he passed away a week later. I still regret that.

What sort of things do I remember about Christmas?

Grandma and Grandpa always hung our stockings on the side of the stair rails, not the fireplace, they looked like santa bloomers for the girls, and santa overalls for the boys. Every year we had to line up behind our stockings to get a group picture taken before we could open them. We always got them last, after we had unwrapped the rest of the presents on Christmas Eve.

I remember the year my dad stepped outside with a shotgun, fired a shot into the air and said he’d shot Rudolph.

I remember the year I was 10 years old and my dad was out of work, and all we got for Christmas that year was a wiener dog puppy. Truthfully, a new dog was all we had really wanted anyway, after someone had poisoned our beautiful white German Shepherd the summer before. We named her Daisy Mae after the girl on Dukes Of Hazard. Best dog ever.

I remember going caroling one year with a group of kids from the church, and pestering the group leader for us to stop at Uncle Louie’s house so we could sing for him, even though he wasn’t on their list of stops. I think it may have been one of the last handful of times I got to see him before he passed. I miss Uncle Louie a lot, he was a kind and gentle person, with a great booming bass voice when he sang, and a whole back yard full of heirloom chickens.

I could keep listing, but right now it just isn’t helping. In a way it’s just making me feel even more lonely. Even good memories hurt sometimes. Cherish your friends and family, not only during the holidays but every day. You never know what a small oddball thing that seems meaningless now, will mean to your loved ones far into the future.

Thinking Turkey Thoughts

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Holidays aren’t easy for me. I know that statement will be hard to explain to some people. Life hasn’t been easy for a long time, years now, even decades. I was a child the last time I really have good memories to look back on, even related to holidays.

I know some people joke about wondering how long it will take during the holidays for the police to be called, but in my family it’s a distinct possibility. The last time I remember spending Christmas with my family two fights broke out, and that was just christmas eve. I haven’t eaten a thanksgiving dinner I haven’t cooked myself in so many years that I can’t even remember when the last one I ate with my family was. I do however remember it was horrible and not much worth writing about food wise.

Being just me and my oldest daughter for years on the holidays, I never did the whole big turkey and all that, not that I ever could have afforded to anyway. Usually Thanksgiving for us meant pork chops and stuffing with mashed potatoes at home, and eating in front of the tv still in our pajamas. It was always just the two of us, or at least on most years.

Last year I think I made a half-effort at making a little bit of turkey, but not a whole one. It came out mostly ok, even if the veggies ended up a shriveled mess and not exactly edible. Cue this year’s second attempt, which I will be trying in a crock pot instead of the oven, because the oven will be occupied by my roommate’s god awful tofurkey. Just the thought of tofurkey makes me shudder with revulsion.

Holidays are hard, and the funk they leave me in is hard to shake myself from. All I usually end up thinking of is how much I envy people with close and loving families, and how I’d give almost anything to be part of a family like that. Yes, I have a husband and kids, and memories to build there, but thinking of the past and the mess that is the rest of my family, still hurts to no end, and probably always will. I see how it is even affecting my kids now and it upsets me so badly I could scream. Three generations of this family have been completely ruined by all this dysfunction and drama my mother and aunt just can’t seem to bury the hatchet over.

I really hope someone brings my grandmother dinner tomorrow, I would if I had a car, and weren’t so far away. I hate the thought of her sitting in that house all alone, especially with this being the first Thanksgiving that my grandfather has been gone. I worry a lot for her now, but there’s only so much I can do living an entire state away. The rest of the family is too busy not speaking to one another to really care I think, as they have been every year for who knows how long. All I can do is call grandma tomorrow, and at least let her know she hasn’t been forgotten.

Turkey is all well and good, but what I’d really love to have someday is a family that acts like a family, at least long enough to make it through dinner.

Am I wrong to just keep wishing?

 

Swamped

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Another November and I don’t feel that I’ve gotten much accomplished, or at least not the things I had hoped to. The writing hasn’t been going so well, mostly because the demands of taking care of Thor, are just, well, demanding.

Right after his first birthday, any semblance of a sleep schedule we seemed to have Thor into went right out the window. Most nights now we are lucky to have him to sleep by 10 now instead of 8. Last night Thor was awake until midnight. For some odd unknown reason, however, when he falls asleep seems to have little to no effect on what time he wakes up in the morning.

Truth be told, by the time it’s quiet enough for me to get anything accomplished now that I am stuck at a desk in the living room, it is too late in the evening, and I am far too tired to write coherently. At least if my laptop were still working properly I could go back and hide in the bedroom at fleeting moments during the day. It’s annoying to be stuck here at this desk, especially when it’s out here in the middle of everything where it’s noisy and nearly impossible to avoid serious distractions.

I have suddenly remembered why I am really, really, not a desktop person.

Maybe someday soon I will be able to afford to get the laptop fixed, and use it strictly as a writing only computer. Thankfully all it needs seems to be a new cooling fan. The part won’t cost much, but the installation might be a bit pricier than I can afford to spring for right now.

I’d love to have a nice recliner to kick back in while I work on this novel, and not this half broken desk chair that is killing both my hind end and my back, sadly I have no such thing, just an old granny sofa that sits too far away from the screen for me to see to tell what I am typing from there, even if the new keyboard is wireless.

The rest of life outside of writing still has me feeling as if I am running in circles and getting nowhere, especially as it pertains to our housing situation. It seems we still keep hitting brick walls with almost anything we have tried, either financially, or just with finding anything in our price range in general.

I want to be in a place of our own so badly. I don’t think even John understands just how much stress still being here is putting me under. I want a home or apartment of my own so I can at least somewhat have control back over my own life. I don’t want to have to consult anyone about my choices. I am beyond sick and tired of feeling as if I am walking on eggshells trying to appease someone, who seems to live in a way directly opposed to my values just to spite me.

I was an independent and introverted person even before I came here, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. As much as I enjoy the company of people when I want to be around them, I am not a people person by any stretch of the imagination. I want to be around people when I want to be around them, at least outside of close loved ones. Having someone I don’t want to be living with in my face, every day, day in, and day out is a nightmare for me.

Life is stressful enough, and home is supposed to be your shelter from that. What happens when it isn’t? What do you do when home is sometimes feeling like the last place you want you or your family to be?

Just Duckie

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Yesterday we had a little bit of an adventure downtown, taking Thor out shopping, for his birthday presents, which he won’t remember once Thursday rolls around anyway, and to buy him a rubber duckie. Truthfully there was an ulterior motive behind the duckie part, as the giant rubber duckie was in town, and we wanted to take him to see it before it leaves for good tomorrow.

Thor seemed very excited about the duckie, and held it almost all the way down to the park, but eventually we had to rescue it before he accidentally dropped it and put it in a bag under the stroller so it wouldn’t get lost. Yes we are sappy parents when it comes to stuff like this. We bought him a t-shirt, and some stickers to put in his baby book.

I don’t know if Thor will remember anything about that day years from now. I don’t think many people do have many, if any memories at that age. I do hope he will look back on the photos, and his baby book, and know that we did our best to try and give him a fun day, even if it was a little early for his actual birthday.

Things are going a little better here thankfully in some ways, and my stress level has dropped if only a little. There’s been good news and bad news the last couple of weeks. The shutdown ended our chances at getting a mortgage for now, but the good news on that front is, they told us what we need to fix to better our chance when we reapply six months from now.

I’m presently trying to plan my next book for NaNoWriMo in a couple of weeks. Wish me luck I am going to need it.

The smallest always lose the most

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I have a lot of worries on my mind the last couple of days, but also a lot of frustration and anger, when it comes to the current state of American politics. I could give two hoots less about the national parks, or the fact that Joe office worker with a nice cushy government job might get a few days or weeks of staying at home and twiddling his thumbs. What has me angry, scared and ready to pull my hair out for their astounding sheer idiocy the most?

The government shutdown is shutting down the WIC program. Talk about hitting our most vulnerable citizens where it hurts the most.

For those of you unfamiliar with WIC let me summarize: Wic is a federally funded program that provides infant formula and basic nutritious foods to low income children age 5 and under, and expectant mothers. Unlike food stamps, only approved foods in set amounts can be purchased with WIC vouchers. Not all people who receive WIC get food stamps, as the income guidelines to qualify are very different. The help WIC provides can make a tremendous difference to struggling families. Unlike foods provided by food pantries, the foods WIC provides are perishable staple foods such as infant formula, baby food (fruits and veggies)cows milk, cheese, cereal, eggs, juice and a small amount of fresh vegetables every month.

The children WIC provides help to are too small to qualify for free school lunches, and do not have that option. Food pantries usually do not stock infant formula, because the WIC program is usually able to provide it. If the shutdown goes on, older children will be able to adapt much easier than infants, who depend on formula and are not old enough to be table fed exclusively. In the present situation infants will be the most vulnerable citizens of all, when there is absolutely no reason it should come to this.

It frustrates me how the news media is decrying the closure of the national parks more than this valuable and life changing program being stripped of its funding. Bears will crap in the woods whether a few tourists are there to watch them or not, and the memorials will be there when the crisis is over.

I hope that those of you who have the means to, would consider donating some infant formula to food banks and other charities that feed the hungry right here at home, where we need it the most at this time, until the idiocy in Washington resolves itself. Many families are presently hanging by the thread trying to stay above water, and provide for their children, and programs like WIC make all the difference. I should know, my family is one of them.

Kids are going hungry right here in this country…

Kids go to bed every night that way more than you think…

As a nation, we should be ashamed of that!

The Storm

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This post is in response to the daily writing prompt at Today’s Author for September 17th 2013.

Today’s Prompt:

The dark clouds rolled in quickly, casting strange shadows across the landscape.

The sky carried the same eerie amber glow that most often accompanied a storm that promised more bite than bark. Thunder rumbled as the air grew colder, as the coal black clouds crept ever closer, and soon after that glowing sky went from near florescent, to near dark as night, even in what should have been the brightness of early afternoon. These were not ordinary rain clouds, they churned and seemed to boil as they passed over what seemed a low enough altitude for them to almost touch the earth at any moment.

Rarely had I stood underneath such a sky, even in the many years I have been here to weather the frequently stormy summers. My stomach seemed tied in knots as I stood at the window, fretting over starting the drive home, or waiting out the storm in the store where I was, in what could only be described as one nameless strip mall of many that dotted the landscape on that end of town.

A desire to run home, won out and left me bolting for the car as the wind picked up, and the rain began to fall, and dust and stray litter whipped across the parking lot, propelled by the gusts that whipped my hair and my clothes tight against me as I struggled to open the car door and close it behind me.

I turned the radio on and tuned it to a local station, which for that moment carried the annoyingly chipper advertisement for a local grocery chain having a special on ground beef and a certain brand of fabric softener. Traffic had slowed to a crawl halfway home as the rain and wind finally bore down in full force, visibility reduced to only a few car lengths ahead even with the wipers going as fast as they could manage.

The rain was coming down so heavily in fact that the street now looked like a small river a few inches deep, and water bubbled out of the storm drains and manhole covers, the rain falling far too quickly for the town’s antiquated sewer system to handle the sudden deluge. Thankfully my turnoff was leading me uphill, even if it meant going home by a slightly more out of the way route than I normally would have taken to avoid most of the other low lying areas. I could not, however, avoid the one last dip in the road at the end of my street, which proved to be also starting to flood as I crept through the intersection, hoping the car wouldn’t stall before I made it through.

My sigh of relief had been premature as I rounded the curve, only to find the big oak tree in Mrs. Hawkins front yard not merely blocking the street, but thoroughly crushing Mr. Daily’s up until then nice shiny new sports car. I couldn’t turn around and go back, without taking a chance with the flood, and now I couldn’t go forward. I’d debated just sitting in the car until the storm cleared, at that point, but the peal of the air raid siren, jolted me away from that prospect. There was nothing else to do at that point than to pull the car as far off the road as I could safely, and run the half a block still between me and home as fast as I could through the downpour. I’d grab clean dry clothes from the laundry room in the basement once I was in there and safe.

Did I mention I’m just a little afraid of storms?

Hope and the pessimist

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I know I’ve talked a lot here the last couple of years about our housing situation, and why it is driving me crazy. We’ve been stuck here in this apartment for the last two years now, living with my husband’s ex-girlfriend for a roommate no less. Our apartment search this entire time has been one huge disappointment after another. We are being priced right out of even thinking of getting our own apartment, even in a not so great neighborhood.

There isn’t as much of a safety net for the disabled as a lot of people seem to think there is in this country now. Waiting lists for public housing are over a decade long if they are open at all, and most low income housing that exists, is set aside specifically for the elderly. My husband and I will not qualify to live in one of those places for quite some time yet.

The fact remains that the so called “fair market” rate for a two bedroom apartment is over 900 a month in this area. This is more than my entire income, and not much less than what my husband and I make combined. Think about it, that’s just rent, not heating the place, or keeping the lights on. It’s amazing how some people have the impression that the disabled are living so high on the hog, when we can’t even afford even a small apartment of our own to live in.

The worst part about looking for an apartment here are what places like to call “application fees.” Most housing in this area is owned by out of town investment companies, who hire locals to “manage” the properties for them. Most of these companies not only charge high rents, but want upwards of $150 dollars per adult in the household just to apply to live there, this fee is non-refundable if they reject your application. They also want the last 6 months worth of pay stubs, to see your tax returns for the last 3 years, a credit check and a federal background check just to be considered. Even if we don’t have to worry about our credit or income…who can really afford all those fees?

My husband thinks the reason he’s seen so many apartments listed for so long, is because these landlords are making more money not renting the place, and just rejecting people’s applications than they would actually renting the apartment. I mean think about it, if you get 10 applicants a week at $150 a pop,for an apartment that rents for 800, you’ve come out further ahead to let the place sit empty don’t you think?

Someone recently told us getting a mortgage right now is actually easier than getting an apartment because of that, so we have decided to try it. A mortgage does seem to be very much cheaper than rents here, our monthly payments would be only about a third of what it would cost to rent a comparable house in the same kind of neighborhood. The question is, can two disabled people even get a mortgage? Are they going to look at our meager income and not even give us the time of day?

All I know is I really don’t want to spend another year here, walking on eggshells in my own home, dealing with someone who’s not only his ex, but someone who’s mere outlook on everything from politics to family values, happens to be nearly polar opposite to my own. I don’t want to deal with someone who refuses to budge an inch on letting us have the third bedroom, when we pay 2/3 of everything here. My son having his own room will soon be more important than her having her “office” and a place to store all that extra junk she can’t squeeze into her already packed tight bedroom. I can’t stand the fact that she thinks it’s okay to smoke in here, when there’s a baby in the house, and she thinks it’s good enough that she just shuts her bedroom door. The smoke still travels, I can still smell it. We have an outside balcony for that, for pete’s sake, it won’t kill her to use it.

I want to be hopeful here, but it’s hard. Life right now just seems like a lot of jumping through one hoop after another, just to get further behind than when we began. When being here is so hard that I wan’t to pack my son up sometimes and move back where I came from, where things are awful but at least affordable, there is a problem.

All I know is that at least if nothing else, but for my peace of mind, by the end of the year, I want to be far away from here. I don’t care if we are in our own home having bought a place, or we have picked up and moved somewhere entirely new. I can’t take another year of the same old situation, and the same old worries. Something has to change for anything to get better, it has to.

Wound Tight…

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I’m very on edge lately, and especially since yesterday again. I wish PMS were all I had to blame it on. I’m irritable, grumpier than usual, and to top it off I’m still not sleeping well at night. I don’t want to feel this way, but it seems like every time I start to relax a little, something else happens that puts me back on my guard again.

Yesterday, it was finding out that even after having over a month to do so, social security still hasn’t processed a simple change with mine and my husband’s account. Long story short, if they don’t do so in the next couple of weeks, I won’t be getting my check in time to pay our rent. We spent all morning down at the local office wading our way through an almost two hour wait in line, just to be told to be patient and that they would get around to it, they swear in time to make sure the problem gets fixed and my check will arrive on time. I wish I could take them at their word, but if they couldn’t do it in the last 4 or 5 weeks, why should I believe they will bother to get it done in time now?

When it rains it pours lately…

I really wish things would be good for a change here. I’m tired of always being on my guard, waiting for the next thing to go wrong, and then struggling to fix it. It’s so hard to plan for our future or anything else, when I can’t even get simple answers, even after what’s now been months and months of waiting. Why does it take them over a month to finish a simple change on our account that they could probably do with a few keystrokes? Why does it take them until October for my husband’s checks to even start, when he was approved months and months ago? Meanwhile the money for him we haven’t even gotten yet, is already being counted against us on other benefits. Sometimes it makes me want to throw up my hands and give up, but I can’t. I have a family to take care of, one way or another.

I’m not easy to live with when I’m moody like this, but sometimes I don’t know whether I want to get angry, or find a quiet place to sit and cry for awhile. My initial reaction to the news was to panic, and once scared passed, I think I cried for about 10 minutes straight. Par for the course, worrying about this morning, I also didn’t sleep all that well, but I still got up and went downtown to do what we needed to.

I know I do a lot of complaining here, but all of this has to go somewhere, and I can’t bottle it up or take it out more on my husband than I probably already am without meaning to. It’s frustrating trying to have a conversation on a good day when it’s noisy and his hearing isn’t working well, and the baby is being noisy, it’s doubly so when I’m so stressed that I don’t have the patience God gave a box of animal crackers, and repeating myself isn’t working over all the racket. It’s not his fault, I know that. When I have something I think is important to say, and I’m not being heard, it’s hard to fight the urge to yell sometimes to make sure that he hears what I’m saying.

Sometimes I worry about his hearing, and what would happen in an emergency if he couldn’t understand me, it can make me a little overly protective. I’m the one that has to keep her ears peeled for the baby when we are sleeping, and for anything that goes bump in the night around here, not to mention that it’s safe to assume John would likely sleep right through a smoke alarm without me. Him getting a new hearing aid he could actually sleep with would be a great load off my mind, if such a thing actually exists. (we are presently just hoping to be able to get him a new hearing aid soon at all)

Here it is after 3am, and I am still awake again..

I know I should try to sleep now…

Wish me luck…