Sleepless and Sunflowers

Tomorrow is Luke and Oliver’s first day of school. Since they’re both going to middle school this year, I need to start waking up at 5AM to make sure they don’t miss the bus. We live nearly an hour for the school and the bus arrives at 7AM. Since I’ll be wrangling both children, neither of which are morning people, I need to wake up at 5AM to shower, pack my lunch, and prepare for the day before the kids wake up at 6A. From 6A-7A, I’ll be making sure breakfasts are eaten, lunches are packed, meds are taken, and backpacks are filled with school work.

There is only one problem: Going to bed at 9PM in order to wake up at 5AM is proving to be difficult. I’m a night owl by nature so going to bed as soon as the sun sets has always proved difficult.

I don’t have much choice. Jonathan won’t wake up early enough to make sure the kids get out the door on time. We’ve tried that. When Jonathan is responsible for mornings, the kids are late for school 2 out of 5 days. Now that school is an hour away from the house, and 1.5hrs from work, I can’t afford the extra time to take the kids to school if they miss the bus. So, 5AM wakeup time it is…

While I fight my night owl nature, here is a picture of an 11′ tall sun flower:

Sunflower
**Edit**: It’s 9:30PM, child bedtime, and the kids just burst in my bedroom proclaiming that Jonathan hasn’t made them dinner. Sure enough, Jonathan has not made dinner. He fell asleep face down on the couch upstairs. <face palm>

Money, FatherInLaw, And Kids

The washing machine is dying. The motor is dying, specifically. The manufacturer doesn’t make the motor for that model anymore. A replacement is required. I don’t have money for a replacement. I don’t have money to go to the laundromat either at $30 a week and a 40min drive each way.

One cat and one dog fell ill last week. The cat couldn’t keep food down and the dog had bronchitis so I took them both to the vet. The bill came to $700 in total. At least I have 2 living pets on the way to wellness even though I had to charge the bill to a credit card. I requested Revolution for the cat we took to the vet but used it on a 3rd cat who has ear mites. Although I feel guilty for conning the vet, I literally can’t afford to take 3 animals to the vet especially for a minor problem like ear mites.

My father in law is dying. He’s 64. For the past few months he hasn’t been feeling well. Kidney infections, difficulty passing stool, difficulty sleeping because of the pain… Much like my family, Jonathan’s family doesn’t believe in modern medicine and FatherInLaw wouldn’t go to the doctor. After FatherInLaw’s uncle died last week, he finally went to the hospital. His body is riddled with malignant tumors.  FatherInLaw may come home tomorrow so Jonathan and his family have been cleaning FatherInLaw’s house – it was filled with mold and mildew from running the gas heater without a humidifier.

The situation with the Oliver and Luke is better. After several weeks of having Jonathan as the “primary parent” – the one who assigns chores, plans meals, disciplines, and makes plans – the kids decided that I should resume “primary parent” duties. They said Jonathan’s parenting method leaves them confused and they don’t like it when Jonathan gets frustrated and shouts.

The kids also decided they want to move in with their mother and her boyfriend. Well, Luke wants to move in with his mother and her boyfriend so Oliver wants to move into the same house as Luke. Luke wants to get away from Oliver and Luke also feels that his mother and her boyfriend won’t enforce any rules. Luke has clearly forgotten what it’s like to live with his mother. Also, his mother and her boyfriend moved in together as soon as they started dating 2-3 months ago. This whole situation is a real face-palm-er.

Another Day…

Today was pretty much like every other day. Nothing to see here. Nothing much to report. I cleaned the bathroom when I got up this morning. I cleaned the kitchen just before going downstairs to bed. I checked the finance app to make sure my recent purchases are pulling money from the correct budgets.

I bought a few accessories for Luke’s Halloween costume at a thrift store for $6.50. Luke is unhappy that the neck tie isn’t purely blue, but after 3 weeks and 6+ thrift stores, I could only find a mostly blue necktie. Oh, the horror!

One of the cats caught a mouse and left the bottom have of the mouse on the door mat to the garage. Gee thanks, cat. Just what I always wanted: mouse entrails.

Oliver sent me a text message before I got home from work that Luke was drinking soda and watching extra episodes of Netflix. Soda is a weekends only beverage and Luke and Oliver are allowed one Netflix episode each a night.  I’m glad Oliver didn’t punch Luke when Luke was monopolizing the TV, but I wish the kids had worked out their problems themselves. First things first: We’ll ween Oliver off expressing frustration physically then we’ll start encouraging the kids to work out problems together.

 

Math Tears and Suicide Swords

Well…I was going to write about my new fitness/sleep/activity tracking Jawbone UP, but that is just not in the cards for tonight.

I’ve worked an irregular schedule and I only slept 3hrs last night. I took a nap when I got home because I might be called into work tonight. While I was napping, Luke and Oliver knocked on the bedroom door. I tried to ignore them since Jonathan knew I was sleeping, but they woke me up 3 times.

Neither Luke nor Oliver did their homework or chore after they had been home more than 3hrs so I didn’t grant internet access. For three weeks, I’ve explained that chores and homework need to be done between 4-6P to get internet at 6P. And, for three weeks, neither child has done their homework and chore without being reminded incessantly. Yet, Luke and Oliver were mystified when the internet wasn’t available at 6P and, rather than asking Jonathan WHY the internet wasn’t available, decided to wake me up…3x… to “fix” the internet.

Fast forward to dinner. Oliver brings me his math homework in tears. He’s learning order of operation and is confused if multiplication or division comes first so he has two possible answers – both wrong. Hours before, Oliver asked Jonathan for homework help, but I wasn’t aware this had happened. I started explaining order of operations to Oliver and Jonathan comes upstairs shouting because Oliver saved his homework after Jonathan checked it originally and was asking me to re-check it in the middle of cooking dinner, hours after Jonathan first checked the homework.

At bedtime, Luke started putting the sheets on his bed, which he should have done much earlier in the evening. Luke got frustrated after trying to stretch the short side of the sheet across the long side of the bed and asked for a gun to kill himself. Instead of ignoring Luke, I took his suicide threat seriously. Jonathan got irritated because he thought Luke was being hyperbolic and that, by discussing it, I made the situation worse. Luke admitted he considered killing himself with the sword in his bedroom so I took the sword.

I try to handle Luke’s suicide threats calmly and take his threats seriously. Sometimes I wonder if Luke is suicidal or if he’s using suicide threats to manipulate the situation. Whatever Luke’s motivation, I feel ignoring the suicide threats sends the wrong message.  Some days, I don’t know what to do. Some days, Jonathan doesn’t know what to do so he shouts out of frustration. Since I don’t shout, I guess writing about my problems anonymously on the internet is my coping mechanism.

Luke and Laundry

Luke refused to take his meds this morning. He was shouting at me that he feels like his meds make his math grades worse. His math grades were bad before he started taking meds, mind you. I asked him if he was having any other negative side effects and he said he wasn’t – he just didn’t feel like taking the medicine any more because he “doesn’t need it”. His final words to me this morning were, “Fine. Tell Daddy. He’s not going to make me take [my medicine] so what are you going to do?”

Jonathan heard this and came angrily stomping upstairs shouting at Luke while he was still feet from the kitchen. Luke quickly took his meds, but Jonathan was done with Luke’s behavior at that point and they both got into a huge argument. Jonathan was angry that Luke was having a bad attitude and using him as leverage to defy me, but Jonathan was EXTREMELY ANGRY that Luke’s shouting woke up both Jonathan and Oliver.

This morning didn’t go well, needless to say. Luke left the house with his face red from tears, but medicated. Jonathan left the house in a rotten mood. Oliver left the house feeling irritated because he was woken up by his brother’s tantrum. I left the house late, but not because of Luke’s behavior.

I had to load the car with laundry this morning – 8 loads of laundry to be exact. Since the washing machine is broken and we don’t have laundromats near our house in the country, I loaded the car with laundry before work so I could do laundry in town after work. A visit to the laundromat cost $35 now! I can’t believe it. If I didn’t have a washing machine, I’d have to wash laundry in the bathtub. There is absolutely no way I could afford $35/week.

It took so long to finish the laundry that I didn’t get home until nearly 9PM. Jonathan “forgot” to make dinner for the kids so I still had dinner to make, a kitchen to clean, a car full of laundry to unpack, beds to make, a shower to take, and pets to feed. The kids ate chicken nuggets and mac & cheese while the regaled me with tales of the most recent episode of Super Natural they had watched and how Oliver can earn prizes through the school fundraiser…but only if I sell fundraiser items for him since he doesn’t know anyone who will buy items from him.

What a day. At least I’m feeling better today than I’ve felt for the past 2 days.

Struggling to Stay Awake

Jonathan has let the kids stay up waaay too late tonight. I remember when Jonathan would be in a grouchy mood if I let the children stay out until 8:30 on a summer, weekend night. I guess he’s forgotten how unpleasant the kids are in the morning when they don’t get enough sleep.

I’ve set a goal for myself to go to bed around 9P at night and wake up between 5-5:30A since I tend to have less pain and fatigue in the morning. I stayed up far too late last night because the kids wouldn’t go to bed and I haven’t felt quite right all day. When I woke up my ear was filled with fluid and I felt dizzy. Since then I’ve just been a ball of aches, pains, tiredness, and headaches. I tried to take a short nap at 7P which turned into a super long nap when I slept through my alarm.

Naps aren’t allowed. Last year Luke told his school administrator that he “never knows when [I’ll] be asleep or awake. I think Luke said this because he didn’t want to wake me up from a nap to ask for help on an assignment. Although I’ve told Luke it’s ok to wake me up if something serious happens or if he needs help with school work while I’m napping.  However, the school administrator took Luke’s comment to mean that perhaps I am on drugs or guilty of child neglect – rather than being a person who works 50hrs/week in spite of having 2 diseases that cause fatigue.

Since I’d prefer to avoid a visit from CPS and/or a social worker, I’ve been doing my best to nap as little as possible no matter how bad I feel. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always work out. Some evenings I’m so drained and having so much pain that it’s hard to keep my eyes open. My body feels physically heavy and my eyes close no matter what and I have to rest.

Luke’s Learning Assessment

Today was the final session of Luke’s learning assessment (learning disability testing). The session was scheduled for 3hrs, but Luke only lasted 1hr 19min. Not a good sign. Preliminary findings were things I already knew about Luke: he’s impulsive, struggles with anxiety, is a polite and helpful young man, and Luke has a tendency to shut down with little provocation.  Luke has been known to stop talking and stare if he feels even slightly uncomfortable about a topic of conversation. Although Luke doesn’t shut down in my presence, he shuts down with Jonathan all the time. Jonathan lectures and is prone to shouting when he’s frustrated. I sound unreasonably calm all the time – even when I’m intensely frustrated and angry.

The final results of the learning assessment will be revealed the week before Luke starts summer school. Hopefully there will be enough time to start the IEP process. Jonathan has shown little interest in participating in the learning assessment and IEP process. I’ve taken Luke to all three learning assessment sessions. That’s no small feat considering we live on MiddleOfNowhere Mountain. It’s a 30min drive to the school to pick Luke up, a lengthy check out process because I’m not Luke’s bio-parent,  an hour drive to the psychologist’s office, 3-5hrs of waiting in an office (which doesn’t have wifi so I have to take the day off work), and a 30+min drive home after testing is complete.

I hope Jonathan is just weirded out by the process since Jonathan is weirded out by doctors in general. I really hope Jonathan participates once we get results from the assessment. I think Luke really needs Jonathan to change the way he deals with Luke’s studies and grades so Luke can rebuild confidence.

I’m All Still Here: ISP, Fibro, & Luke, Oh my!

ISP: Irritating Service Provider

After several days, I’m back on the internet. Our ISP has suddenly implemented a 300GB per month bandwidth limit without warning, so I can look forward to losing internet service for the last few days of every month or continue using the internet and pay twice the monthly bill in fines. Not cool, ISP. Not cool.

Jonathan watches Netflix all night and Luke and Oliver would spend the entire day watching youtube if given the chance. The bandwidth restriction is going to be extremely difficult this summer with both kids out of school with nothing better to do than watch Netflix and Youtube while I’m at work. I guess I’ll have to start shutting down the router while I’m at work to ensure we conserve our data allowance so I can work from home when needed.


 

Fibro Update

Health wise, I’m doing pretty well. I did have a back ache and take a muscle relaxer today, but I’m not too concerned since I spent over an hour sitting in a really uncomfortable chair yesterday. Sitting in uncomfortable, hard, old chairs typically gives me a a back ache.

A likely contributor to my current good health: For the past few weeks, I’ve only worked 4 days or less per week. I had time off that needed to be used up before it expired so I took a series of long weekends. The extra rest (and the time I’ve spent NOT sitting in an office chair) are probably a factor in my current wellness. Unfortunately, I won’t have any time off until the end of June. Here’s hoping I don’t start feeling ill upon my return to constantly working.

Guaifenesin has been acquired and I plan to start taking it this week. The unexpected expenses in April and March prevented me from buying guaifenesin until last week. I tried several salicylate free shampoos, but they all made my scalp peel and itch like mad so I’ve had to switch back to a shampoo that contains salicylates. Hopefully this won’t interfere with treatment since I have coarse curly hair and wash my hair infrequently. Until I have extra money and find a shampoo that is both salicylate and sulfate free, I’m stuck with the shampoo I’m using since I’m not allergic to it. (It’s Shea Moisture’s African Black Soap shampoo and conditioner, if you’re curious)


Kid Update: I’m Still All Here

Photo May 03, 1 41 46 PM

Luke is currently being tested for learning disabilities. He’s completed his 2nd of 3 sessions. So far, Luke has a low frustration tolerance, low impulse control, difficulty paying attention, difficulty finding words, high anxiety, and evidence of other cognitive issues.

Today I had to repeatedly remind Luke to stop shooting himself in the head with toy guns. Luke couldn’t leave Oliver alone. Luke couldn’t stop talking during the movie. Luke also stole more than 10 toys from BioMom’s house. The stolen toys were confiscated and Luke spent several stints in time out. This actually a pretty light day in the land of raising Luke. There were no screaming/crying fits or threats of suicide and Luke didn’t refuse to do every single thing asked of him all day long. Opposition/defiance is extremely common.

Before I had bonus kids, I wondered if I could handle a kid with problems. I wondered if I would gradually descend into mental illness and become my (abusive) mother; completely unable to cope and resort to mega doses of psych meds and spend days in bed un-showered. Yet, here I am, dealing with a child who has behavioral and mental health problems every single day and I’m fine. I work, eat, sleep, and shower regularly. The extra time I spend in bed is the result of RA and fibro, not deep depression or psychosis. Of course living with Luke every single day is challenging. Some days it’s downright hard. But it’s not crushing. It’s not suffocating. It hasn’t changed me. I’m still all here.

 

Run Out of Bandwidth

I’ve run out of bandwidth. I don’t mean that as some metaphor for being busy or tired or frazzled, I mean that my ISP has suddenly and without warning placed a limit on the bandwidth which our connection can use per month. We’ve exceeded the limit, so we have no internet for the rest of the week. I only have the data plan on my phone.

No youtube for the kids. No gaming. No downloading. No Netflix. No Pandora. None of the services we regularly use for news or music are available to us. Today is the first day of internet-less-ness.

This evening, Luke and Oliver played outside with plastic guns and foam swords. Jonathan painted the poop-brown upstairs bathroom with the silvery light blue paint I picked. I did what I usually do in the evenings: cook, clean, feed pets, check homework, provide cash, sign forms, wash a load of laundry, and spend at least 30min training BigDog. None of these things use the internet.

In fact, I typically only use the internet for around 30min-1hr in the evening and even then I use it mostly for reading or writing. Reading and writing use very little bandwidth – especially compared to streaming services. I need to reign in the kids’ youtube and Netflix streaming activities so I’m not kicked off the internet at the end of every month.

So…for the next few days you likely won’t hear from me. Since my mobile/cell is used for the corporate day job, I don’t have the WordPress app installed. Can’t have work finding my anonymous blog. I’ll catch you on the flip side of the internet when I have access again. Stay well.

The Pastry Incident of 2015

Today has been one of those days. It was raining, a severe pain day, and a face-palm worthy 14hr work day. Goodness.

Fortunately, I got to work from home after 5P so I came home. I was hungry and ate a somewhat stale cherry turnover as a snack. It tasted ok after a few seconds in the microwave, but it was clear why the turnover was nearing it’s date with the trashcan.

Jonathan brought Luke home from math tutoring about 30min later. Luke ran upstairs and immediately started rummaging through the trash frantically.

“My treat! There’s no treat! My favorite treat is gone!”, Luke yelled.

I asked Luke what he was talking about. Turns out, I had eaten the last cherry turnover…LUKE’S cherry turnover.

“I can’t believe you ate it!”, Luke shouted as his face turn red and his eyes welled with tears.

“I’m sorry, honey. I didn’t know it was yours.”

“Yes you did! I didn’t get any! You knew it was mine!”

“No. I really did not know it was yours. If I did I would have saved it for you.”

“Thanks a lot! There is nothing to eat. You ruined everything!” Luke yelled as he stormed down the hall. He slammed his bedroom door and flopped on the bed sobbing.

Yes, folks. I ruined everything in Luke’s life by eating a discounted, semi-stale pastry. Being 12 is hard.