Monday, November 22, 2010

Bubbles' First Essay

I am a part-time home-schooling mom of a reluctant kindergartner.
My son will most certainly be attending two years of K, for reasons determined even before he was enrolled. (long story short: Child with birthday 1 mo before CA cut-off date for K eligibility renders him ineligible for preschool tuition assistance - and yes, even the child with a delay. So he is in K.)

Home-schooling for us has meant many things. We have gone to see the various stages of decay of an 86 foot blue whale which washed ashore 20 miles north.
We have watched the progression of local butterfly migration.
We have smashed pumpkins off a deck to grow more pumpkins.
We have counted sea lions off the wharf.
We have played 'knights and batman' (very complicated with embellishable rules, apparently).
We have counted strawberries into snack cups, snack cups into muffins, muffins into get the idea.

One of my favorite resources from our I/S (Independent Study; which equates those 2 days/wk of home-schooling, in addition to his 3 days/wk teeny classroom experience) happen to be those little hand-outs from which are usually WAY above Bubbles' head but get the creative juices flowing.

Last week we read the and I asked him a few questions about his own climate and our own location. He proceeded to dictate to me, the following 'essay' on 'Where I Live':

My house is in California.
I live in B*****D***.
It's a mountain.
We have a beach called 'Shell Beach'.
Sometimes it snows.
We get rain up here!
We always go to swimming class.
We always have playdates up to O's house or down to my house.
And we ALWAYS go to school.
We have fun getting shells.


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Getting Through Another IEP

The IEP went quite well, actually. I was armed with data on Apraxia and likely comorbidity issues in education (phonological issues, dyslexia, name a few) , as well as the names and details of some tests which could be useful to determine his need and eligibility for services within the public school district.

His new and fabulous teacher, the principal, the new SLP, and I were all present.
We started with talking about Bubbles strengths. This is a typical component of IEP's in general, both in part to remind everyone of the child's strengths, and also to delay the inevitable delivery of something a parent may resist. The 'offer' of the school district for services is always the last thing to happen, right before the negotiations begin, that is.

Anyway, we all managed to have a peaceful and cohesive meeting. I didn't know how the principal would address this, and an IEP meeting can tell a parent a lot about a there was tension on my part leading up to this meeting. So much was at stake, having switched schools for the children this year and the unknown factor was high until I had some administrative proof.

I did remind the SLP at one point that Apraxia was not a developmental delay, because without treatment, it would not 'correct itself', nor would he simply one day 'catch up'. I was happy to hear the principal concur.

His K teacher talked about how he is so very young and we compared his abilities to his peers. We all agreed (principal included) that he should not really be in K this year, and anything he did this year (his first year of 2 years of K) was gravy, so there is no stressful performance emphasis on meeting K standards by the end of the year. The Independent Study program he is in (3 days classroom, 2 days home school) facilitates this better than we could ever have hoped. He is in a class with an 8:1 ratio. Better than private school. Another reason I really wanted this IEP to go well.

I asked about occupational therapy to work with his fine motor deficits. The boy can put together legos, but can't control a pencil well enough to write letters. The principal agreed to have him observed by the OT in the next few weeks. Wow. That was easy.

SLP suggested a 50% reduction in services, which I had been prepared to hear. I explained that, because he had such a rich history of speech therapy services, and because I was equipped to support his services with supplemental home program, I would agree to that reduction.

But then it got a little tense when the SLP pointed out that she had checked the 'individual' box as well as the 'group' box. Which is when I said that I was not at all prepared to agree to this aspect of the IEP, because we were already compromising the amount of time he had been receiving, and it would be too much of a change in meeting his needs. I felt strongly that being in a group would compromise the level of attention he needs and would be getting.

SLP suggested that Bubbles had received individual therapy in the years prior to K because the school didn't have anyone who could provide that therapy for him before age five. I suggested it was in fact, because the principal of that school district had acknowledged the severity of his diagnosis (moderate to severe apraxia) and had allotted him the recommended number of hours (3 per week) for a child that age with that disability. Which was, in fact, exactly why he is doing so well now.

The SLP even pointed out that he would need to show a delay to qualify for any change in services. Which is when I got a little pitbull. But I took a deep breath, dipped inside for some more reserve honey, and said, "But that's not what anyone at this school wants for Bubbles, is it?"

At this point the principal stepped in and said, "It sounds like Gwendomama is clear that Bubbles is not ready to transition into speech therapy in a group setting. I think that sounds fine. If you can ever fit him into an existing group then perhaps we can supplement his 1/2 hour per week with trying that out and we would then see if he can work well in a group. But right now he still needs the 1/2 hour of individual therapy."
I sighed heavily with relief and the SLP sputtered something about her full schedule, which pissed me off because hello? Bubbles' needs should not be compromised by her limited availability.

And that's the truth for any school district, remember that for me, will you?

I think I did pretty well, and I know Bubbles is going to do pretty well too!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Apraxia in Action; Continued....

Tomorrow is Bubbles' first IEP at his new school. In fact, it will be his first IEP in elementary school. It's late October, and I still try and wrap my brain around the twisted fact that he ended up in kindergarten this year.

I've already been warned that he will lose services. The school, bless their budget-deficient little soul, set me up nicely by suggesting at first that he will no longer qualify for any speech services, as a result of having made so much progress in the past three years. Now, I love this school, and I get it that they have no money, but there is no way I am going to accept that he is cured of Apraxia merely because they don't have funding for speech therapy.
I had a blunt talk with the SLP and let her know that I do not like surprises, and would hope to not expect any at the upcoming IEP.
To her credit, she called me last week making her recommendations. I cringed at the number of times she ignored my 'motor planning' questions and cringed again each time she peppered her recommendations with the phrase 'articulation disorder'.

(Sorry for shouting. But it's not.) (Inability to articulate is a SYMPTOM.)

Anyway....I don't expect to be surprised when they tell me they are cutting his services in half, down to 1/2 hour session per week.
Saying he is 'almost all better' would feel great.....if it were actually true.
But the truth is, California is broke, and the educational system is broken. I hope some administration employees in Sacramento are having a lovely lunch out today. I bet the tab could be close to $90! Which is EXACTLY what an hour of private speech therapy costs. The VERY SAME speech therapy which my child is about to lose.

With that said, I am able to push aside the doom and gloom and for a little while the oh-so-many-concerns I have about his future learning challenges.
Why? Because I am grateful to have this child beyond belief. I am grateful to be able to watch the layers of his intelligence be revealed as his expressive language capacity increases. It is the most amazing process. It's not developmental, technically, because he is being treated for something which would not correct itself with a delay. But it is developmental as I watch him achieve communication milestones and make the connections.
His brain appears to be working overtime as his capacity for intelligible speech increases.

This weekend he came running up to me.
"Mommy!!! Mommy!!!! LISTEN TO THIS!!!! 'Plane' you go somewhere! 'Playing' you have fun! 'Plain', with nothing on it. OH MY GOD!!!"

OMG indeed, little man. You managed to blow my mind yet again.

Friday, October 08, 2010

He Exists in Pictures and My Mind

I have never ever seen a video of Elijah since he died.
Not once.

I have photos of him; they are flat and one dimensional, but they definitely look like Elijah. When I look at those pictures, he is as beautiful as I remember him.
And my arms have a memory of holding him; that memory is in my body forever.
If I imagine holding him, I can also just as easily remember how he preferred my left shoulder, and my neck will crook just a tiny bit to the left, and I can remember how he leaned in to touch my head, and the feel of his breath on my ear.
I remember these things, and they are gifts.

And, although I remember him using his voice, I cannot remember his voice. I know that he sang, but I cannot recall his song.

For years the videos were packed away, the thought of viewing them too painful to pursue to fruition. Two years ago, I asked Xdude to please tell me where they were; I was finally ready to view them and I wanted to make digital copies of the videotapes. I had waited so long, I was sure I was ready. I was achingly desperate to see, hear, watch, and yes, probably cry.
He wouldn't get them out, he wouldn't tell me where they had been hidden. He claimed it was because I was going to 'take them somewhere unsafe' to get digital copies. He said he would do it himself. I knew he wouldn't because he wasn't ready to see the videos of our dead child when he was alive. Which was fine. I didn't ask him to watch them.
I wanted to watch them.

Last Spring, about a month before I moved from the house we had shared for eight years, I asked him if there was anything he wanted me to look for when moving out - anything he particularly wanted. It was a peaceful gesture, and I volunteered it. It was reasonable to assume that there were probably some things he missed when moving out in a one day rush that previous Summer.
I really would have just given him anything important if he needed it.
He responded that he would like a hard drive, promised a copy to me, and said he would give me 'some of the videos of Elijah in return'.

My eyes slid out of their sockets and landed in a pile of mush in front of screen. Had he just offered to give me 'some of the videos' of our dead son, IF I gave him what he wanted?
Did he really imply that he would be holding those videos hostage until I handed over the correct ransom?

I couldn't believe it. I had just offered to give him something, and he gave me instead, a glimpse into how entitled he feels to play games with me. Still.
Which I guess isn't a complete shock.
But to use our dead son as the prizewinning carrot?

It took me this many months to write about it, because I thought nothing could surprise me anymore, and because it makes me ill. Which is what I am feeling right now.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Apraxia Letter

The following letter was composed to inform Bubbles' class parents, all of whom are required to volunteer or teach in the classroom, about Apraxia and the quirks which accompany this affliction:

Hi Parents;
I have met most of you, and I am Bubbles' mama, Gwendomama. We were (lucky) last minute-ers to sign on to the I/S Kinder program, so I feel like I am still catching up with information, and there was so much to digest in those first two meetings, that I neglected to share what I intended to cover when first gathering with our wonderful group of parents.
I have had the opportunity to chat with some of you in person and explain to you that Bubbles not only has a late Fall birthday and will do 2 years of kindergarten, but he also has Apraxia.
I wanted you to have the option to read this if you wish to learn just a bit more about Childhood Apraxia of Speech, which is the fancy term for Bubbles' speech delay (which at this point, generally presents as halted, delayed articulation, phonological disorder, and word retrieval confusion). Which, in short, is why Bubbles sounds just a little funny.
CAS? Apraxia?
What does this mean? You can read more about it here, and/or you can read my very short, 3 bullet synopsis below. Either way, you will have a deeper understanding of Apraxia than you did 5 minutes ago, and that will surely impress your friends.

My three favorite quick descriptions of this complex 'oral motor planning and neuro-processing disorder' are as follows:
  • Early on in his Dx, I heard someone describe the affliction of Apraxia as: Not the child you want coming to tell you that the house is on fire.
  • My impression of watching Bubbles struggle with Apraxia is: You know how it feels to have something 'on the tip of your tongue' and not be able to access it? That's how Bubbles feels all of the time.
  • But the most amazing description of Bubbles' frustration is best coined by Bubbles himself, who said to his speech therapist: The words is there. They is just all tangled up on a string in my throat.

So....Bubbles has to take time to get his words out, and he sometimes gets stuck. For instance, he will exchange words for something that sounds familiar to him if it is not a familiar word.

In the past month alone, I have had to interpret: 'gadget' for 'shadow', 'indolin' for 'Indian', and 'helicopter' for 'elevator'. Just today he asked me why are there clones in the movie, 'The Polar Express'?
Of course I responded, "What? Clones? What clones?"
And he said, "Yes, they all have those Christmas hats and they love the Santa!"
I realized right away that he meant 'elves'. I don't know why he used that may have been some combo of 'clowns' and 'cones' (hats) and/or him hearing the word 'clones' recently (has a 9 yr old sister)...all I know is that I have learned to think outside the linguistic box when interpreting him.
Oddly, other children have often easily interpreted for him, which is particularly lovely because at this age, there is not one speck of judgment among them when this is done. It is, in my mind, an act of humanity and an insightful gift into who our children are at this young age. On a recent drive home, he was desperately trying to tell me something.
"BISMAL!!" he kept saying. 'Dismal? Abismal?' I kept asking him for any close approximation but could not figure out what he was saying. Finally, our five year old carpool mate spoke up. She said, "I know what he's saying. It's 'invisible'"
Bubbles responded by saying, "Yes!!! INBISDIMAL!!! Ank you, friend!!"
That is a classic Bubbles moment.

The words are there. He just can't always get them out intelligibly or in the syntactically correct order.

Another bizarre thing about Apraxia is that the oral motor delay component means so much more than you can see. Bubbles has very selective eating habits, which is very frustrating for the parent of a teeny tiny skinny boy, but understanding the oral motor issue does help to explain his pickiness. It takes about 14 coordinated motions with the tongue to swallow any bite of food. When he was almost three, Bubbles still could not make about half of those motions. Which explains why he would never eat baby food (would have choked him) and would only accept dry, quickly dissolving foods. It also explains why he could not string 4 words together before intensive speech therapy.....his mouth could not actually make those sounds.
It also explains his extreme pickiness which has become a bad habit.

FYI, Bubbles, if you are the volunteering parent, will ALWAYS choose the 'meat' option, even if he cannot tell you this. He will approach any new food with caution and perhaps rejection, but because of his history, I know that being surrounded by his peers eating diverse food offerings, eventually he will try new things, which is why I am adamant about not packing him a different lunch. If he does not eat, he will when he comes home. It is more important to me to know that sharing lunch with his peers is great exposure, and even therapeutic.

So...that's the optional glimpse into the world of Apraxia.

And by the way, I cannot wait to play with our children on Tuesday - they are so fun in music class.....I love this group of ours!

Thanks for reading.

Monday, October 04, 2010


I have been having these particularly disturbing recurring dreams. In these dreams, I am pulling sticky gum? or tar?, or gritty-pebbly putty out of my mouth.

Although I pull it out in clumps and strings, I can't get it all out; I wake up worrying about dental disasters (which is not a completely abstract concept, considering reality), although these dreams do not coincide with any Real Dental Disasters.

Everything I have researched about this type of dream has pointed to the fact that I am feeling or being silenced.
I may be allowing this, but I have been silenced. I have chosen to be allowed to be silenced.

Okay. I will investigate this.

These dreams are stifling me.
They are silencing me.

I have a problem with being silenced.
And yes, I have a problem with being controlled, after taking many careful steps to reclaim my own life.

I will not be silenced.

Which is why I am putting myself back online.

Why I took myself 'offline' is another story, and that will have to wait.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dear Supergirl

Dear Supergirl;

Today you are nine.

You deserve all the great things that have happened for you in your recent past, and none of the horrific things.
You deserve kittens, rainbows, silky things, cake and candy, and all the love the world has to give you.

You are strong, you are unique, you are brilliant, you are creative, you are kind, you are startlingly gorgeous, you are so very you.

Without you, the world would be 9 shades more dull in every color.

You are amazing, and I thank you for giving me the greatest two gifts in the world:
Yourself. And motherhood.

I love you.

Kitten Soccer


Sunday, July 18, 2010

This One is For The Haters

Oh HAI! You're still here?


Because, against all my better blogging judgment, there is something I wanted to say.

Remember how you called me cruel?

Well, afore-mentioned veterinarian friend met Sassy-kitten today.


'OMG TODAY IS A SUNDAY!!' you say....

Oh yeah I know that.

She was visiting us, so suck it.

"AWWWW....ZOMG she's GORGEOUS," said my dear friend who happens to be a veterinarian.

The friend who is bonded forever to me through her three daughters, whose lives she entrusted me with for over ten years; first through mutual agreement to obligation, and later by mutual agreement of mutual admiration and respect.

I just used the word 'mutual' three times in one sentence.

Go. me.

I told her about you.

You, the haters.

No, not you.


Yeah, so she laughed at you.

My little girl's special birthday therapy kitten is in great hands.

That's all.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Change Your Password Often

Some crazy shizzle happened.

The end.

Apraxia in Action

Mama: Bubbles, how can you swim so well? Wow! You just figured it all out! Look at you go!

Bubbles: My brain! It is like the magic!!

Bubbles, showing me a book from the library: Mama, do you know this is your brain? Your brain is in your head, see mine? When you get pinched, it makes your brain go 'DING!' and then you say 'OW!' It goes, 'DING!' like an alligator.

Mama: Like an alligator?

Bubbles: Yes! Alligators going up and down, ding ding ding!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Ummm...Okay, so I lied.

We had been talking about it for a while...if the right (free, siamese) kitteh came along...

And lo! There were sisters!
Don't panic, we're not keeping both of them...and yes!
We have access to vet care!

My niece is visiting and it's all her fault I came home with a kitteh we decided to partner up in this crime of early birthday present for Supergirl....with the added bonus of supercousins having sister kitties....

We have a few days to decide which is the best match, but I am placing bets on the one we call 'Sassy'. Any guesses why?

You could never have said no to that face either.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Sighting of A Boy

The family walks past the long window and through the door of the taqueria. The mother leads the way. She is undeniably who I first think she may be; her wild kinky black hair and beautifully pumpkin shaped body have not been altered by the seven years which have passed, and she is easy to recognize.
She is followed by her short, shuffling and grumpy husband, and I lean forward to catch a glimpse of the one I want to see so dearly and at the same time am afraid....and in another short, interrupted breath - he bounces in, buoyant in spite of his father's shadow.
He is tall, considering the stature of his parents.
His hair is like hers, and his smile is hers.
He talks animatedly about black beans or pinto; turns his excitement towards the soda fountain. He is seven.

The mother notices me staring and looks at me suspiciously for a moment before a flicker of recognition.
I wait for her to go first.
"You look I know you? I know I know you from something....swim classes? The library? Music class?"
I let her trail off before I decide to answer.
"The NICU. We met in the NICU. Our babies were in together."

She looks at my children, sizing them up...wondering...

So I say, "No. This is my daughter. She was not even two at the time. This is my son, and he is four. It was Elijah who was in the NICU."

"Oh yes, now I remember. How is he doing?"
I shake my head, realizing I got myself into this by staring at her son.
I don't think she wants to hear.

The silence with which she waits indicates she is expecting the rest of the story.

"Well, he died when he was thirteen months old."

We go through the usual dialogue.
"Oh wow. Oh. I am so sorry."
"I know. It's okay. It was terrible. We really miss him. But now it's our family history."
"Oh wow. I am so sorry. I don't know how you....I could never....I don't know what to say...."
"So, your son looks great. Congratulations, he's wonderful."
"Oh wow....the Oh the NICU...I hadn't thought about it in so long."

I gather up the scraps of my kids' quesadillas, and herd them out the door. When I turn to wave goodbye, her elbows are propped on the table, her head is in her hands and she is staring glassily into the orange booth in front of her.

"I'm sorry." I toss out, by way of 'goodbye'.

I really was.

Friday, July 02, 2010

I have a PO BOX!!

If you would like to snail mail something to us (so many have asked about Supergirl's 7/20 birthday), you may send things to THIS ADDRESS.

You can also find my mailing address in my profile page.

Thank you thank you thank you....

I Now Believe in GOOD....It's all around us in the form of people....

I got a phone call from someone I would call 'a good acquaintance'.
A compadre blogger who let me know she was nearby...local....had read me, even, and had offered to help before. We met in person at the small mountain/valley farmers market a while back...we certainly knew each other by sight.

She is an angel in disguise.

The phone call, followed up by email, was about donating food. To my family.
She was going away for three weeks and 'wanted to empty the fridge' and hand it over to me....if I would accept, that is...
So I learned how to say 'yes' to these sorts of gifts. I said I would love it.
Inside, I was conflicted. Shreds of shame.
But I said yes please. And thank you for thinking of me.

Today, my friend came to my house. Yes, friend. I hope to get to know her better - as we ended up spending an easy couple hours connecting and talking about the unbloggable.
I love her. I love her boys, who are lovely, polite, and incredibly amiable.
She brought with her the proposed 'empty fridge contents' and I didn't look into the bags right away after she assured me we had unloaded the perishables.

Later today, I was unloading all of the groceries she left me, and I have this to say:
MapleSyrup is a full on liar.
A liar with a huge-mongous heart and secret squirrel superpowers.

Beyond the obvious gifts she gave us of:
3 pounds of butter (stress baking!!)
loaf of bread
french feta cheese
organic baby carrots

....I later opened the bags to find:
organic pasta
organic pasta sauce
organic peanut butter
fruit rollups
artichoke hearts
paper towels
organic chicken broth
jam....and more.

None of these things need refrigeration which is why I can call her a liar.
But I still would french kiss her.

Thanks honey....have a great trip!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Ten Bullet Points

  1. Angel Food Ministries: check. There's one 30 miles from here - I am so all over that for July.
  2. Kitteh. No, we are not getting a kitten. Although I am very good friends with a veterinarian and would have access to fabulous care, now is not the time.
  3. No, build-a-bear clothes are not a necessity. Far from it, in fact. But those behind the 'dress the bear' movement, made my daughter's life brighter yesterday.
  4. Yoga for a clinically depressed child with PTSD and behavior issues IS actually a necessity and she starts Tuesday. $6.50 per class.
  5. My power will not be shut off.
  6. I am on the phone with KitchenAid. UPDATE: If you are not calling within the ONE YEAR warranty (hahahahaha) then you are on your own. Who knew 30 pound kitchen appliances were disposable?
  7. Thank you to those of you who sent WORK my way. Any reviews or writing opportunities are welcome and I work for product and/or actual payment.
  8. I do this in addition to working 8-6.
  9. Yes, block o government cheese IS poor people food, and I am poor right now.
  10. I know I am a great mom. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Thank You, Internet

Yesterday I had six dollars and eleven cents to my name.
I also had two shut-off notices.
I wrote a whiny post about not being able to afford anything anymore - gas, food, and least of all, my daughter's $20 stuff a bear field trip with her Brownie troop....and worrying that when her birthday arrives in three weeks, I will have nothing special for her.

I was defeated, deflated, and sick of my own whining.

I didn't know how I would get to work (gas money), pay the rent, or feed my family next month. I had hoped he would have repaid me by now, or at least have tried. I was deep in the hole and only sinking deeper, in spite of attempts to avoid this quicksand.

I am only one person.
I am full time mother, I am part time father, I am events coordinator, breadwinner and the decider. I am exhausted just trying to tread water. I have been in this cold ocean for over a year. A year ago, I thought it would be better now.
My life is my own, and so that is better.
But my life must be carefully guarded against his (expected) attempts to regain control over me - for once I stepped over that line of friendship to relationship, in his mind, I became his property.

It took one generous, kind and brilliant person, and then another, and about 200 friends, acquaintances, and strangers to remind me that my life is mine. And it is precious.

And we are going to make it.

Supergirl thanks you for Marley's dress and leash.
I thank you for gas money and the smile on her face.
And for doing more for my children than their own father has.
And for the kleenex I purchased after reading all your beautiful comments.

And for restoring my faith in humanity.

You are an amazing community. A year ago I was told to take this blog down.
I am so glad I didn't listen to anyone but my heart.

Thank you.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My Life has reached A New Low

Yesterday I went to the food bank.
I knew last week when I took her to get her ears pierced that I was using precious budget money....but I remembered I had an 'emergency food bag' voucher and I figured now was as good a time as any to suck it up and use it.
It was a crap day anyway, so I am not sure if all the tears after this errand were from stooping so low and feeling the pain and shame of this, or if they were more likely inspired by the accumulating feeling of frustration and dejection which has colored my summer.
Or maybe it was the way the guy who handed me the heavy bag of food said, "This is the last week for this program - the county has cut it - can I help you to your car with that?"
Or maybe it was because, when I got home, I realized that the black and white box of food storage bags the guy had also handed me was not, in fact, storage bags, but a box of government cheese food product.

Yeah, really.

Behold! Poor people food!

Tomorrow I have to decide to send my daughter on a field trip with her brownie troop without the requested $20 so she can dress her newly built bear and risk the wrath of her being the only one coming home with a naked bear.

I also have to figure out how to drive 80 miles roundtrip to work and then drive another 40 roundtrip to get them to visit their daddy: on 1/4 tank of gas.
I will be saying some prayers that the squealing belts on the car won't blow just yet...because I cannot afford to fix the car...again.

Meanwhile, my kitchenaid (professional, my ass) mixer died a horrible death and my traditional stress baking coping skills are severely compromised.

I am trying not to think too much about her upcoming birthday.
The (rescue foundation!) kitten she wants....$150 we don't have.

The requested night away at the beach....not going to happen.

Or how to afford the absolutely reasonably priced yoga classes recommended by her therapist.

Or the flash on my camera which is STILL broken (while he remains in possession of my favorite elph - MINE!!).

Or the burning smell my laptop emits when I turn it on and there is no fan sound...and the fact that I cannot afford the back up hard drive to save my files right now.

Or the fact that if he was paying any of the restitution order or any of the thousands of dollars he owes me, this would not be happening.

Or the fact that Xdude is actively trying to starve me out by not paying the ordered support and waiting for me to have to move....thus proving his point. Which is....well I am not sure what it is....but it's for the greater good of maintaining some control over my life which is no longer his to control. He's already assured the children that if I move, he will follow.

Not to support them of course, but to stalk me 'be close' to them.

Hurting your kids to get to your ex. So unique.

What a man.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Guess what we did today?

She is very concerned, as you can see from this picture:

She waited so long for this day....

And look at her.

She is gorgeous - a superstar.
And I thanked her for picking out the least expensive (but most adorable) teeny tiny cobalt blue beads....

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Word About Neglect


Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I need a squid and some bungee cords to wrap my brain around this one....

There is a part of this craziness which keeps mystifying me.

Supergirl drew a picture of The Day That Changed Her Life, and in this picture, her aunt is outside.
"This is after she came out of the house. Things were quiet."
In it, she has drawn her aunt, her friend and brother, and a giant, colorful mud pie.
She and her friend were making the mud pie and then the aunt came out to help.

Things were quiet because I had no more breath and had stopped shouting - the ultimate goal of the headlock and choking, I suppose, since there is really only one way to shut someone up.
He and his sister still maintain (or feign) surprise that someone would start screaming their bloody head off for help when put in a headlock, instead of submissively shutting their mouth.

Things were quiet because she waited until I had begged her to pick up the phone, begged her to take Bubbles out of the room, begged her to ask her brother to stop hurting me. She waited until I had pleaded with her for her to do something - anything.
Still ignoring the screams of my son.
She waited.
And then I had no more voice - he pushed my head forward - chin to chest- until I could emit no more than a pathetic squeak.

And then she quietly picked up my son and walked him out of the room to make mudpies.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Paternity Test, Anyone?

I've been thinking.

I'm not sure anymore, that Xman is the father of our children.

I mean, if he was, wouldn't he feel some obligation to contribute to their health, well-being, and survival?

I know a few families who receive child support payments. Two of them receive $1000 per child per month, and another receives $600 per child per month.
Xman would like to pay less than $250 per month per child.
In California.

Apparently not making the connection that his access to his children is in imminent danger of being restricted by the mere result of forced relocation.

6/7/10 Updated for CYA legal reasons:
I also forgot to mention 2 rather relevant points:
1) Early on, Xdude made me fill out paternity papers with DCSS just to stall the case. His name is on birth certs and he does not dispute his paternity - but it was a fine way to stall with 8 more pages of paperwork and humiliating questions, such as 'when AND WHERE was the last time you had sex with this person?'
2) Xdude MYSTERIOUSLY lost his fabulous, well paying and TRACKABLE job just days after being ordered to pay child support. Now he just takes on contract work so he can hide his income.
3) There has been an order made. An order for back support and current support. He has not paid one cent of the back support, and has not once - not even one single month since being ordered - paid more than half of what he was ordered.
4) There is no doubt in their paternity. I was being facetious.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Zen Head Games

So Bubbles and his buddy, Orion, had a few days to hang out and play together.
Orion's mom saw an opportune teaching moment for our 3 and 4 yr old boys, and went for it.
"See, Orion. See how Bubbles used his words and asked you for it? You took it from him but he just used his words and asked for it back. He didn't hit or push or scream. Bubbles. I am so proud of you for the way you handled that!"

"It's okay. I'm gonna smack him later."

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

What is in my head at this very moment, all at once and getting crowded.

  • Bubbles will qualify for kindergarten this year but should not, under any circumstances actually go to kindergarten. Everyone agrees. Principals, prospective K teachers, and his speech therapist. In November, a state bill is likely to pass which will make most K teachers very happy: No more children starting kindergarten when they are four.
  • If it passes, the change will affect children beginning school in 2012. Sigh.
  • The cut-off in PA is already September 1st.
  • There are 10 month winters in PA.


  • I need new clothes but can't even afford to get the *&$%&*ing car fixed.
  • Supergirl wants new shoes every week and loses at least 3 socks every week.
  • Those 3 socks are never matching ones.
  • She has a drawer full of unmatched socks.


  • Guess what? The farmer's market takes food stamps. Lucky day.
  • Thrift store is 50% off on Tuesday.
  • I need a butter dish.
  • For under a buck.


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

May 11th, 2010.

Today is May 11th.
Six years ago today, Elijah died.

When I first started writing about Elijah and losing him, these days scared the hell out of me. The anticipation alone was nearly enough to order a 5150. I stumbled from his birthday (3/31) to his death day 5 weeks later, noticing little along the way but the cruel and continuous passage of time.
I was terrified of what the day might bring. What could be even remotely as awful as that day in reality? Nothing.
But anticipation of more grief is a scary thing when you are already steeped in grief. My coping skills were watered down by grief, and chipped away by an unforgiving and full-of-judgment partner.

I did anticipate this day (dead baby day) to be easier than in past years, but I wasn't sure why I expected that. A few good friends asked me yesterday how I was doing, knowing that this time of year has historically sucked for me.
When I was asked, I realized that I was actually fine, because my anticipation of today was not influenced by the fear of being mocked or berated for whatever came up for me.
In the past, if I cried or was sad or depressed on this day, (vividly remembering unsuccessful CPR attempts and images of Elijah losing his breath), then I was 'choosing to be sad' or even accused of 'being ungrateful and not appreciating my live children'.
I am allowed to grieve freely this year, and I'm not even feeling that overwhelmingly grievous.
I miss my baby, I always will, but I am resigned to it being my history. Not fighting the emotions that came with that loss.
And if I am sad today?
This will also be fine.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Gwendomama's Mom Car Fund

You asked, I listened.....Y'all are too kind.

If you can help Gwendomama's family obtain a mini-van, please donate.
Here's the full story on why we need one....

If you know of anyone selling their mini-van, I will pay the donations forward to the seller.

Thank you.

Monday, May 03, 2010

In Which I Attempt to Sell Myself out for a Mom Car:

So here I go, whoring myself out on the innernets......

Bottom line:

Gwendomama needs a mini-van.

Yes. I do.

Most of you know that Xdude left me with about 4k debt along with some bruises.
There was an amazing fundraising (I bow to you, Shannon) movement, and my family was able to stay in our house because of you.
Now it's a matter of staying in our state.

In November, Xdude was ordered by a judge to begin paying child support in December (noting that he had not volunteered a cent until being ordered by a judge to do so). He ignored the amount ordered for both children and decided to just pay whatever he wanted, which is half of what he was ordered to pay. So he pays about $250/month/per child, which is embarrassingly insufficient in this area of the country. Except I spend approximately $125/month driving them to and from visitation, so it's more like $187.50/month/per child.

Xdude continues to ignore child support obligations, and has also continued to ignore my many pleas, my attorney's negotiations, and the Judge's stern recommendation that he sign over his interest in the car. See, the car is in his name, yet it has already been proven in court that I own 50% of it. Yes, I am embarrassed to tell you that I allowed him to keep the car in his name alone, but not nearly as embarrassed as I was telling you that I allowed the situation of power and control to get to a point where he attempted to kill me (or at least scare me into submission by choking me?) a year ago.

I recently moved into a wonderful little dollhouse owned by friends, who are allowing me to work some of the rent off in childcare trade. I am trying to work as much as possible - even when my children are with me, and I have a number of other families who are interested in paying me to do after school care as well. But I have 'his' damn car- which I hate and it only has three seats suitable for children, as the passenger seat airbag cannot be turned off manually. My children take up two of those seats.
I have explained this to the Judge; Xdude totally knows I want a larger car just so I can work more and do what he is not doing - support our children. (He does, however, live in a fabulously large house.)

Even the Judge pointed out that I needed a mini-van to work more and why would he sabotage my efforts to work more when it could result in a higher child support payment from him. But Xdude feels he is above the law and doesn't need to pay any more child support than he wants he remains unmoved by any requests or persuasion.
I can't sell the car for a mini-van unless he signs over the title.
Nope, he just won't.
He feels no compulsion to do the right thing for his children, because he is incapable of seeing beyond his own anger and vitriol.

I need a mini-van.
If you live in California and can afford to part with a mini-van, please consider me.
I have a friend who can work on Toyotas if it needs work...he is willing to help too.
Maybe you are willing to sell me the van for a low monthly payment and I will turn whatever I get (when he finally DOES sign it over....justice will be served eventually but the wheels of justice are powered by a 2 yr old on a tricycle) over to you when I can sell this damn car.

If you can sell me a mini-van SO VERY CHEAP or consider me a worthy cause for a charitable donation, I will be ever so grateful. I will make you cupcakes. Or chocolate sushi!! Yes, you will certainly be worthy of the chocolate sushi!

Yes, you are right - he SHOULD pay for his kids. Why should I have to ask YOU to help?

Well.....I hate to beg, but I am watching my California residential status become less and less realistic. I can't count on Xdude for anything except a constant argument.
I need to support these kids, I am trying to maintain our family in this area, and he is trying to sabotage any efforts I make to try and get ahead. I am going to go hurl up the last little bit of pride I had.

3/5/10 EDITOR'S NOTE: Okay, there is kindness in this world.
Some of you asked me to put up a donation button, and now I have.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Apraxia in Action; Continued

Today we were sorting through the old toy collection.
'We', being myself + the NDN (NextDoorNeighbors) who are also the BFF (BestFunFriends), also known as the LL's (landl'owners) and PWIHKF (People Whom I Have Known Forever). So let's just go with the NDN for now.....
'We' were all quite busy.
I had many 19th century 'spells' during the sorting, but managed to survive. (Oh I didn't tell you about the Pleurisy? Just waiting to contract 'The Vapors' next.)

We crossed paths with boxes and our children co-mingled with the discarded treasures.
Each child was allowed to keep one new toy from each others' donate pile.
Bubbles found himself particularly interested in a small toy cell phone with a 'John Deere' logo. He told me he wanted this toy because it was 'a deer phone'.

I said, "Yes, it has a John Deere on it. John Deere is a kind of tractor."

He said, "Yes! I have a deer attractor and I am gonna use this to catch a deer! Cause I have a deer attractor! I press this red button and I attract the deer!"



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Three Short Stories

Short Story #1:
A few years ago we were planning a trip to Hawaii for ten days. This was back in the day of ATA and Aloha Airlines offering competitive $300 round-trip tickets from CA to HI.
In preparation, I bought a litter box for my normally outdoor pottying cat, and arranged for a neighborhood girl to check on and feed her every few days, as it was February and I didn't want to lock her out of the house. Xdude disagreed and we had a little argument about it. Compromise was not his specialty, so I just said I was making the executive decision on this one and the cat would not be left out in the rain or leaky garage with the raccoons and coyotes for 10 days.
As we were leaving for the airport, the litter box was nowhere to be found. I searched the garage, which was the abyss of everything he tossed in there to either hoard or hide. No litter box.
We had to leave. So I reluctantly caved to his insistence that we leave her in the garage (with access to outside) for 10 days.

The end.

Short Story #2:
We had a trampoline, but Bubbles is so fearless and feral that I decided to put netting around it. Xdude did not agree - he insisted that netting makes trampolines more unsafe, as he had seen kids always bouncing off the netting when before they would have stayed in the middle. We argued a little bit about it and then said that, while I appreciated his opinion on that one, I had seen more children fly off of trampolines and was therefore going with netting.
After pricing netting for ours, I found a cheaper deal on Craigslist, so naturally decided to go with that one, as it already had netting and it was 14 feet - a great size for a trampoline if you have the space, and we did. Xdude agreed to go pick it up in his truck, came home and set it up.
"Where is the netting?" I asked.
"They don't need netting." Was the reply.
That was supposed to be the end of it, but I didn't take the cue.
"I bought it because it has netting, and I want the netting up."
"No, you bought it because 14 feet is a great sized trampoline."
"No, I bought it because it has netting, and I want the netting up."
He watched me put the poles in for the netting an begin to unravel the netting. I started to put the vertical poles in, checking out the support arch poles, and realized that I was about 5 poles short.
I confronted him. "Where are the poles? You just picked this up last weekend."
"I don't know. Maybe I left them there by accident. I thought they were all here. The kids don't need netting anyway."
"OH MY GOD YES THEY DO! I cannot believe you would do this - this is about the SAFETY OF OUR KIDS and you did it because you just don't want the netting! You did this on purpose, didn't you! You are such a jerk! HOLYSHIT I cannot believe you!"
"I'm not going to talk to you while you're angry."

The end.

Short Story #3:
I just moved to a great house on a lovely property which has room for - a 14 foot trampoline!! Friends who own the property were excited about bringing it over here, and we all agreed to try and get that netting up. I found the manufacturer and started looking for the poles, then decided to wait til we had moved it and then set it up to see exactly which netting support poles were missing. We brought the trampoline over the other day and waited to set it up until the intensely chaotic move was over. On Sunday I was making the rounds of the property for the last time. After living there for nine years, having moved in while 5 months pregnant with Supergirl, there was a lot to process. (Which is another story and it is not short.)
Having spent the better part of a month slowly wading through the accumulated pile of everything he left behind, and everything our kids have acquired (way too much, let me tell you!), sorting and purging or packing every book and every box of everything, and all of it while nursing a broken arm, it was no small task. I was exhausted on Sunday as I poked around bits of toys, mudpie spatulas sticking out of half-baked goods, sheds. I couldn't wait to get out and have my fresh start in my new house. I wanted to start unpacking. I was so over moving out.
I opened up a water heater shed on the cabin which I never use, and happened to look up. It was stinky and ratty in there. But shoved up above the old water heater was, unmistakably, a brand new (although ratty) litter box, scoop still attached.

:::::::::::blink blink:::::::::::::::

My heart pounded. Really? He had hidden things from me before; it wasn't unbelievable. I have said to people how hard it was to put my finger on his absolute entitlement to and ownership of control of everything. Everything.
But here was a tangible item, however ridiculous.
A litter box.

I rummaged around behind an old pool panel (or was it defunct exercise equipment? your guess....) and found something which looked vaguely familiar. I had just moved something exactly like it. Wow. What a score! Five metal poles for a trampoline.
Safety netting poles.

The end.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

New Beginnings

Someday I think I am going to write a story about how someone is moving their family out of a house and puts an ad on freecycle to get rid of stuff for 2 hours only, but everyone starts going through the moving van instead of the house full of free stuff and someone takes the box with the family's dead baby's ashes.
Not because it is true or because I think this story would be very popular. But because it could have happened* and you already know the ending, maybe this will be enough.

At 8:03 pm, we walked away. Turned the key for the last time and said goodbye to the house and all the memories, good and bad.

I feel so great right now. Exhausted, but great.

*Editors note: Again, I repeat, this did not happen.

Saturday, April 03, 2010


We went to an Easter egg hunt at the school today.

It was so much better than last year.

For one, I didn't have anyone screaming at me.
For another, when I got home, nobody put me in a headlock.

Bubbles was freaking out.
"Mama! You got to come with me. You got to stay!"

When I figured out what he was saying and why, I realized he needed a re-do. The only memorable association he has with Easter is the end of his world as he knew it, watching his daddy attack his mommy....and the fallout.

We got a re-do today.
It was awesome.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mother of three....

Today, my invisible child would have turned 7.
He would have. If he wasn't dead, that is.

For 406 days he shared himself, full of grace, with mortals.

For 406 days, I was his mother.

Some days, it's easier to breathe than others. Some days I don't have to remind myself to draw another breath in, before exhaling everything I have, deflated like an empty shell.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Clearly I am not cashing in enough on #Shitmykidsays.

I mean really. I know you all think your kid is way funnier than mine.

But here's the thing, he's not.

And here is why:
My kid has Apraxia.
AND he's funny. Hilarious, even.
And I see a touch of Aphasia.
And word retrieval issues.
And a phonological disorder.
In a restricted-by-apraxia result.

Just a few recent gems:

Davey: Bubbles, I love you.
Bubbles: You do?
Davey: I do! I love you so much!
Davey's Mom: It's true, Bubbles. We all love you so much. We think you are just great!
Bubbles: Yes. And I'm shiny.


Speech Therapist: Bubbles, I want you to remember to say 'is'. 'Iiiiissssszzzzzzzz'. He IS holding a teddy bear. She IS feeling sad. Mommy IS going to the store.
Bubbles: Okay. I is gonna have a lot of words in my mouth.


Bubbles: MAMA!! I want to play with these eggs! They so bootiful!
Mama: Not yet, Bubs. Those are for filling up with treats for Easter!
Bubbles: Oh, okay! They for the Easter Egg Sneak?
Mama: (.....?......)
Mama: Oh YES!! For the HUNT!! The sneaky Easter egg HUNT!


Mama: Bubbles, if your ear still hurts, I think we need to go to the doctor.
Bubbles (remembering his last visit w/shots and a 'finger stick'): Uhh....Mama? The doctor wanna poke me wif a stick that's sharp? I don like it.


Friday, March 26, 2010

Supergirl's Room Rules

I would totally hang out in that room.

I love this kid so very much. Have I mentioned that lately?

Thursday, March 25, 2010

And Sometimes Its Funny

So I went to pick up the kids from the supervised visitation provider at the park.
She's a very likable person, friendly to the children, pleasant. I have nothing to hide from her - she has already seen my messy car - and I am not under scrutiny, but of course I always worry about every new scratch our wild little Bubbles gets. What if that is under scrutiny....and he keeps fighting with the damn cat!
We're mothers, we worry. Like the time Supergirl was barely 2 years old and whined in a tiny plaintive voice, "Mama....I want soda! Peeese get me soda!"
In front of 5 month old Elijah's Early Intervention therapist!!
"She means CEREAL! For some reason it just comes out sounding like 'soda'! HA! I would never ever give her soda! HA HA HA!!"

She blinked at me. I got up and got the cereal.

So the kids. At the park. And the supervisor person. As I am getting the kids buckled in, I remind them who we are going to go pick up before we go home.
"Malcolm??" shouts Bubbles. "Malcolm is coming OVER?"
"Yes," I remind him, "We're going to get him now."
I look at the still very nearby chaperon and smile.
"Umm YES!" I shout back, "Malcolm the DOG is sleeping OVER! The DOG!"

File that under: Unforeseen hazards of dogsitting for Grace.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

'Violence' is not subjective: It has a definition.

I am SO frustrated. I am deeply disgusted, hurt, bewildered (yet again), and even angry.

I don't want to be in this position, yet I can see no way out of always being the target of his anger. Since he can't actually have a dialogue with me in person, I imagine he is having a private dialogue about how I got him in this place.

A year later and I really hoped by now he would 'get it', gotten his head out of his own ass, shaken himself off, and had a new vision of how to move forward - in the best interest of our children.

A year later and I would love to say 'supervised visits are no longer necessary - pick them up from school and feed them some dinner. We will talk about overnights when everyone feels comfortable with a few hours.'
But I can't.

I would love to believe that his demands for more visitation were out of pure intentions, not those motivated to hurt me or simply reduce his child support obligation (which he is mostly ignoring anyway).

I would love to be able to have a discussion with him. I am ready to scatter Elijah's ashes - I was ready a year ago - but would never presume to exclude him from that.

I believe the best thing for our children is for us to not have this anger-filled non-relationship. I know it is best for our children. I want to move forward; I have said it a million times before.

But then he says something so ridiculous it reminds me of the years of living with him - the many many times I piled the kids in the car to give him some space to calm down, the years of intervening. And I wonder how some people can be more dedicated to proving that they were 'right' than they are preserving the integrity and future of our children. As in, 'Don't ever let anyone hurt you.' How could he teach that to Supergirl if he doesn't believe that he hurt anyone? He didn't beat our kids up, but because he was a parent of convenience ('No, taking our children to the doctor or birthday parties is not convenient, nor is your request for me to participate in the care of our children while you prepare dinner - but perhaps I will take them for a hike tomorrow!), he has no idea what it takes to parent for more than a few hours at a time.

I know one person who is mouthier than I am, and that is our daughter.
I don't expect his personality to change - I expect him to always be entitled to his own agenda over anyone else's - but I did hope that, by now, he would not only understand and grasp the severity of his aggression against me, but feel quite embarrassed about it and be devoted to protecting his daughter from a future of the same powerlessness in the face of violence.
And yes sir, it was Violence.
As it is, I can only wonder what size 'Nelson' or headlock she will get when she mouths off to him and he is tired, worn out, or simply angered by her words.

I am so frustrated.
One parent alone cannot force the other one to do the right thing. Even for the kids.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

You Cannot Hate on Me

What if I gave you diamonds
Out of my own womb
Would you feel the love in that,
Or ask “why not the moon”?

If I gave you sanity
For the whole of humanity,
Had all the solutions
For the pain and pollution

No matter where I live,
Despite the things I give,
You’ll always be this way

Thanks again, Squid.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Chilling. Correct.

An awesome reader sent me a link to this article a couple of months ago. It was almost too chilling to share at first, but now I think it's too dangerous NOT to share.
Especially the following passage, which describes my EX so very well. That's the chilling part.
Here is a brief history of my life with him, and my life trying to escape him. If any of you have wondered why we stayed together so long, pay close attention to the sentence about ending a relationship:

The partner and children of a batterer will, however, experience generalizable
characteristics, though he may conceal these aspects of his attitude and behavior when other
people are present:
The batterer is controlling; he insists on having the last word in arguments and decision making,
he may control how the family's money is spent, and he may make rules for the victim
about her movements and personal contacts, such as forbidding her to use the telephone or to see certain friends.
He is manipulative; he misleads people inside and outside of the family about his
abusiveness, he twists arguments around to make other people feel at fault, and he turns into a
sweet, sensitive person for extended periods of time when he feels that it is in his best interest to
do so. His public image usually contrasts sharply with the private reality.
He is entitled; he considers himself to have special rights and privileges not applicable to
other family members. He believes that his needs should be at the center of the family's agenda,
and that everyone should focus on keeping him happy. He typically believes that it is his sole
prerogative to determine when and how sexual relations will take place, and denies his partner
the right to refuse (or to initiate) sex. He usually believes that housework and childcare should be done for him, and that any contributions he makes to those efforts should earn him special
appreciation and deference. He is highly demanding.
He is disrespectful; he considers his partner less competent, sensitive, and intelligent than
he is, often treating her as though she were an inanimate object. He communicates his sense of
superiority around the house in various ways.
The unifying principle is his attitude of ownership. The batterer believes that once you are
in a committed relationship with him, you belong to him. This possessiveness in batterers is the
reason why killings of battered women so commonly happen when victims are attempting to
leave the relationship; a batterer does not believe that his partner has the right to end a
relationship until he is ready to end it.

Because of the distorted perceptions that the abuser has of rights and responsibilities in
relationships, he considers himself to be the victim. Acts of self-defense on the part of the
battered woman or the children, or efforts they make to stand up for their rights, he defines as
aggression against him. He is often highly skilled at twisting his descriptions of events to create
the convincing impression that he has been victimized. He thus accumulates grievances over the
course of the relationship to the same extent that the victim does, which can lead professionals to
decide that the members of the couple "abuse each other" and that the relationship has been
"mutually hurtful."

And Maggie? Thanks for reminding me that knowledge is power. I want mine back.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Sigh: 11 months later, he still believes that choking me wasn't violent

RESPONDENT: I wasn't permitted by law to be at that residence or to remove my belongings at that time.
JUDGE: Because of your conduct which led to the CLETS order. Am I getting that wrong?
RESPONDENT: Yes, you are.
JUDGE: You didn't get arrested and convicted?
RESPONDENT: No. I was not convicted of a domestic violence*. I pled no contest to disturbing the peace.
JUDGE:You are on formal probation?
JUDGE: Domestic violence counseling?
JUDGE: A 52- week program.
JUDGE: You are on three years formal probation?
JUDGE: That's conviction, sir.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't think those mandatory DV classes are actually working.

*Blatant boldfaced, self-convinced lie.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

I'm Fractured

Today I found out that the doctor at the urgent care facility which I went to a week ago for a shoulder injury couldn't really read X-rays.
I was referred to an orthopedic PA, who pulled the X-rays up on the computer moments after I arrived in his office first thing this morning.
"Well, what you've got is a greater tuberosity fracture."

(.........................................there was a long pause..............................................)

And infused with the superpower of denial, I replied, "But it's not broken right?"

Oh yes I did.
Then I cracked up.
Oh - pardon the pun - I am not used to being fractured in this way.
He went on to say, "If you took a hard boiled egg and tapped it on the counter, it would crack the shell in different directions. That's the top of your humerus right now."
(please spare me those jokes which I do NOT find humorous)

My advice to you today is twofold:
  • Do NOT slip on a broken muddy railroad tie when carrying a huge armload of firewood, thus falling directly onto your shoulder as your arms were too slow to release the wood, and,
  • Do NOT live in a remote area 20-30 minutes from town if you are going to break something which renders you incapable of driving.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Quiet Observation

"Mama, how old would Elijah be next month if he was still alive?"


"Would he be in a wheelchair?"

"I don't know honey. Probably."

"Would he go to my school? I bet he would."
(note: although there are children of different ability at her school, none of them uses a wheelchair)

"I really don't know, Supergirl."

"Would other people make fun of him? I wouldn't let them, you know. They probably wouldn't at my school, anyway."

This went on for a short while, the asking and self-answering of questions.
I thought about how sweet it was, this dreaming that I had done for years causing me nothing but pain, and here she was....just wondering, just pain attached to her speculation at all. No judgment, just wondering.
I noticed that I shared the wondering with her. No pain. Just wondering for a moment.
How far we have come.

Monday, February 08, 2010

How Do You Make Sense Out Of......?

One time, I took Supergirl and her sleepover friend over to his office (the cabin next door) so he could sleep in while they played loudly.
Couple hours later, he woke up. As always, whenever the white noise was turned off, there was an automatic tensing and clenching in the house. Because then it would begin.
Why are there crumbs on the floor? (breakfast and lunch, which I fed them)
Why is there so much noise? (kids)
Why didn't you start a fire? (hard to chop kindling with a toddler attached to me)
What is this on the table and why? (playdoh and because we were playing with it)
What mess are you going to make for me to clean up next? (what's for dinner?)
Why are you going? When are you going? Where are you going? What are you doing? Why are you doing that? What is that for? Why did you do that? Who did this? Who did that?

Every day, all day, he snipped and sniped at anyone in his way. He parented when convenient. I even coined it 'optional parenting' and yes - I hurled those words in his direction whenever we fought.
He woke up at noon, spent all day in his office, coming out for lunch or to admonish someone. Took a daily sunset hike, occasionally returned for dinnertime, usually put the kids to bed (upon my insistence 2 years ago) and then disappeared again. Insisted he had to stay up til 2am and sleep until noon, because 'that was when he worked'. I never asked what he did between the other waking hours, but he wanted to know exactly where I would be and why I couldn't do it myself if I even asked him to take Bubbles to one of his 3x weekly speech appointments.
I was reprimanded for not offering enough foods (never mind that he couldn't feed anyone), berated for wasting too much food (that he never bought) ignored when in tears of overwhelm, and scoffed at whenever I had any physical illness or weakness.

Once he drove me to Planned Parenthood to get an abortion he insisted I get after he refused to get his promised vasectomy. I screamed at him the whole way there. He sat in stony silence, willing it to be over if he just ignored it. And me.
When we got there I took the keys and left him in the parking lot. I came back an hour later to pick him up and he yelled at me that I was a terrible mother because I wouldn't get an abortion. I cried and sobbed and told him that, while I believe firmly in choice and I also believed another child would be very hard, I couldn't do it after losing Elijah. That they were connected for me and I didn't know how but they were and please stop please please please stop.
He sneered at me. "You are selfish. This just proves how selfish you are. If you cared at all about your children you would do this."
Supporting me was only possible if I agreed with him.
I cried myself to sleep for weeks until the blessed event: the miscarriage. It was a late one - 11 weeks, I think. He had been exceptionally angry the night before. He wouldn't talk to me, but would only growl insults at me. He grabbed me roughly and reminded me how selfish I was and he spat his disgust at me by stripping away any confidence I had as a parent - he knew the most deadly weapon available to him and he knew how to find my emotional jugular. When I went in for another ultrasound the next day there was no more heartbeat and I remember feeling relieved as I was prepped for the surgical removal of all this conflict wrapped up in a dead embryo.
I'll never forget how he was so nice to me on the way to the OR. He held my hand, he hugged me, he was 'so so sorry this had happened, Babe' but I was 'going to be strong and be just fine' and he gave my hand a tender squeeze. I was speechless. But there was a whole audience now, so I just accepted it and was wheeled off to the OR and soon completely unconscious and unable to try and make sense out of that one.
When I stopped bleeding, we went to Hawaii, with hopes of amnesia I suppose.

The day that I took the kids next door to play so he could sleep in, I went back over to the cabin to grab my laptop after he got up and we had returned to the house. The moment I left the house, I heard my name being screamed. Again. Angrily. Shouted. Again. Really mad. I prepared for the worst and ran back over to the house. Apparently, Bubbles had just knocked over and broken a glass lamp.
"WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU????" He screamed at me.
"I was getting my laptop WHAT HAPPENED?"
"Whaaaaat?? Where is he?? Where the hell were YOU? You were HERE! You can't yell at me like some wayward nanny!"
"You're no nanny. You are a pathetic excuse for a mother. You weren't even HERE. A NANNY would have done a BETTER JOB!"

He insists there is no history of abuse, but I can't stop my mind from trying to make sense out of his actions in April. I can't stop thinking about it, and if I can make sense out of it, then something will....I don't know. Fall into place? Make me understand the risk with more clarity? Prevent it from happening again?

And in some ways I can make myself make sense out of it. Like the first full nelson he put me in. He completely lost all impulse control. No filters, nothing to stop himself. But after he let go and I screamed back at him, after I reached for the phone, and
and this time with more purpose.
While screaming at me with purpose.
About how 'someone' should have 'done this' to me 'along time ago'.

I just can't make sense of that. Was it pre-meditated? Did he really just hate me that much?
Did he simply feel entitled to shut me up? Was it supposed to be forever?
Where did the filter kick in and why did he stop?
Did he realize when he dropped me onto the floor that this was some bad shit or did he just want to kick me on his way out?

I can't make sense of all this and it physically hurts. I watch my kids try and make sense of it and I know why it's so hard. It's crazy making.

The exchanges we had which were so memorable and so hurtful, the experiences which carved the paths of our canyon come back to play themselves out again. As if they will reveal the answer.

I don't know.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How Scary Was It??

I need to say something here, and pardon me in advance for being redundant or painfully obvious.

I am so sick and tired of this bullshit. Seriously wearing thin.
But what's breaking me down isn't just the hostility and continued manipulation. It's not the bitter insults and accusations about to be hurled at me. It's not even the angry allegations that I am unfit or poisoning the children against him. Things which are so ridiculously untrue don't bother me.
What bothers me is his absolute devotion to proving his actions were justified. Putting so much energy for nine months into proving he had to chase me into the house to defend himself. Being so dedicated to proving I deserved it. Conveniently forgetting that even he thought it was wrong until I reported it and showed the bruises and confided in fear to a sheriff what I suddenly realized he was trying to do....kill me.

I am relatively sure he never meant to threaten my life - I think that part even surprised him. But the reality is that he lost control, attacked me, let go, chose to attack me again, and folded me into little bits until I could not breathe. Waited until no more sound was coming out to let go. It was, in a word, terrifying.

I didn't think it would take such drastic measures, but I really believe that unless he ever has someone yank his arms behind him, put him in a full nelson, pressure him into a choke hold, and hold his body immobile until the breath is squeezed out of him and his neck is millimeters away from being snapped, he won't ever understand how terrifying it was.

He told the court that the restraining order was 'unnecessary'.....which is pretty revealing about how far we are from ever reaching a point of understanding.

It's his determination to prove that I deserved it which scares me the most. Nine months of probation and half a year of DV classes have done nothing to change his opinion of his own perpetration of violence.


Monday, January 25, 2010

Makes Me Pukey...When being a parent involves fending off the wolves...wait...are wolves narcissistic?

I am ill. Not legitimately, bonafide pukey ill, or migraine ill, or aching ill - all of these things tied up with a bow.

I've written about the confused SIL; the one was involved in the attack on me by her brother. Truthfully, I had underestimated her crazy. I thought we'd be able to speak like adults to one another by now. I refused the offer to put her on a restraining order because, at the time, although I felt betrayed and shocked beyond belief, it seemed to reason that she would come around and accept her part in the debacle. And that she would understand that violence was wrong. I had watched his personality degrade for months, but I had more hope for his sister. She had supported me over the many years we watched her brother's temper and temperament flair. She cringed when she watched him scream at our daughter. She apologized for both of her brothers and their inherent contempt and glaring disrespect for their wives. She sainted me one year, saying that I had 'stayed the longest'...and I think I told her then I couldn't take it anymore. But in their family, statements like that are to be ignored, and the one ignoring the statement is entitled to dismiss the one making the plea.

Last week, I went back east. My family lives 2.5 hours away from his family. Back east. His mother is ill. She deserves to see the children. My mother offered to drive me there to bring the children to see their paternal grandmother. I paid a bit extra and purchased tickets out of that city instead of Buffalo. There was one caveat and potential bump to this plan however...the aunt, 'Deedee' lives with the grandmother. I was convinced by a friend who adores my daughter and wanted to help bring some resolution and peace to her life, to offer the aunt another chance to apologize. I had said to her months ago that she would need to address and acknowledge the incident with me like an adult should before she would be considered safe around the children. She had made some poor choices, this was evident. But was she willing to work through that with me or just leave me wondering if she really believed her actions and lack of protective response were acceptable? Months before, I had asked her some obvious questions. Not easy ones, but obvious ones, such as, "Why didn't you pick up the phone and call 911 when I begged you to?"

She never responded.

So last week, on the BoS's generous and objective suggestion, Deedee was offered the opportunity to please apologize to the family (especially Supergirl, to whom she was so close and who feels confused and betrayed), or to choose to be gone during the visit. We were not going to allow or invite a spectacle or a conflict into what was intended to be a visit to grandmother.
Deedee chose to be gone.
Then she said she would be there, but that she and I should 'talk' or 'hash it out' at that time. I found that to be an appallingly inappropriate attempt at railroading the childrens visit and my pure intentions in facilitating that visit, and a revealing glimpse into her own instability. I mean seriously? Their father had to apologize for his behavior, why not the aunt who was part of the violent attack? I asked her to apologize so my children could move forward from this hell, and she refuses to apologize and wants to have a little talk with me instead? In front of the children???? Has anything at all sunk in for her?
The answer appears to be 'no'. She even told my friend that I had caused too much damage for her to have a relationship with me (even for the children). Yes, I had caused too much damage.
I would like to point out yet again- that both Deedee and Ex-man were horrified at what they had done, and begging for forgiveness....until I reported the incident to the police. I suppose that changed the violent act from a horribly poor choice into something I imminently deserved.

In the long run, she agreed to stay away, and I told Supergirl in a very gentle way and without judgment (because I actually DO have her best interests at heart) that her aunt simply was not yet ready. It was very sad and hard for her and she just wasn't ready to make the apology like Daddy yet but I was sure she would be someday soon. Supergirl understood but was able to emotionally prepare herself for the reality and not keep wondering if she would see her aunt. So when I received an 'okay fine you win I'll apologize to them whatever' email from her just hours before we were to leave, I had to decline. My kids aren't yo-yos, and Supergirl is no fool to be spoon fed an apology full of crap. She knows that when Deedee is really ready, it will happen.

So in yet another fabulous display of family solidarity and narcissism, Deedee (and her infinite historical bank of paralegal wisdom) pulled a lovely little maneuver and asked her brother to ask the supervised visit therapist to please allow her to apologize. I had to give a minimal explanation of what she had already refused to do. Interesting channel, though. Applause!!!

Which almost makes me want to publish every single word from the most recent phone message I received from the other SIL; the drunk one who reveals all of Deedee's plans.

But I won't. Because I am better than that.

Let me just say this:
The children had a lovely visit with their grandmother and so did I. I appreciated that the aunt kept her word and didn't show up. Because that would have been awkward for my gentle giant brother who had been instructed to swoop up kiddos and leave if she had.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

USAir Hates Families

So, I went back east. The kids came too, since we go pretty much everywhere together.
I needed a(nother) root canal, and Supergirl had a cavity which needed to be filled. No dental insurance + a brother who is a dentist + three roundtrip tickets back east = less money than California dentistry.
Except it turned out that Supergirl actually had insurance. It's just that nobody tried to tell us that when it was relevant and she was covered. Under her father's job. Which he mysteriously lost just days after being ordered to pay child support (which he must have interpreted as one of those 'optional' court orders, as evidenced by my empty mailbox). Strange thing is, he only disclosed the information that the kids were insured when we were about to fly back east. Too bad it wasn't sooner, as in, when they were first covered, because then she probably would have avoided the extraction. Father of the year, I tell you.
When I arrived in the tundra known as Buffalo, NY, it was about -6 degrees. Yes, that is a minus sign before the 6. I would have cried about it, but it was cold enough to freeze saltwater, and tear-sicles are very uncomfortable.
I would like to announce that my children are star travelers. Seriously. People would get on the plane and stare me down when they realized they had been seated near children. But at the end of each flight, those same passengers would inevitably be the ones to praise my children and their good behavior.
In fact, they were better behaved than some of the adult passengers and USAir staff I encountered on my first attempts to fly across the country. When I purchased my tickets I saw that they had seated me rows away from each of my children, aged 8 and 4. I called right away and asked for a seat change but was told they could only help me when I arrived at the airport. I've heard that one before.
When I arrived at SFO, I headed for the nearest agent, even though I had already checked in online. She spent a good deal of time trying to get us seats together, so much time in fact, that I was starting to get nervous about getting through security. She finally said there was nothing she could do, but they would be able to help me at the gate. Again, heard that one before.
By the time we reached the gate, the plane was already boarding. I talked to the gate agent, showed him my tickets, and he replied, "Why did you come at the last minute if you wanted to switch seats?"
"Whhaaaaaat?" I stammered, explaining that I had been at the airport for over an hour! "Why didn't you seat me with my kids?" I fired back.
"I wasn't the one who did that." He snidely replied.
"Ummm.....okay?" I looked at him expectantly.
He shoved my tickets back at me, disgusted. "Those are all middle seats - nobody will want to switch with you and we can't legally force anyone to switch. Plus, there's another family trying to do what you are doing."
"Ummm....okay?" I repeated...."Trying to do what I'm doing? Like sit next to their kids? I can't let them sit 10 rows away from me!! What should I do?"
He waved me on to the jetway. "Good luck with that."
I made my way down the very crowded jetway and down to a flight attendant. She looked at my tickets and said, "There's another family ahead of you trying to do what you're doing."
"So I've heard," I muttered back at her. I felt as if I was being accused of trying to sell cookies and wrapping paper to strangers on the plane. Or worse, was being accused of trying to light my underwear on fire (a joke I could not make in the airport!) ....not just trying to secure seats next to my minor children.
The exasperated flight attendant disappeared and came back to the jetway moments later. "Nobody wants to move into middle seats, and we can't legally force anyone to move from their seat."
I laughed and said, "You have got to be kidding me, right? I mean, okay...I guess it would be fine...I mean I haven't had a six hour break in I don't know HOW long...I guess I can just hand his electronics to the complete strangers sitting next to my four year old and pick him up in Philadelphia (connecting city)." At this point I may or may not have cackled maniacally.
"That's really not that funny." She said, dryly.
"WHAT??" I exploded. I had used up all my patience and humor. "You wouldn't let me put this four year old on a plane without me unless I hired an escort for him but you don't think it's FUNNY that you want to seat him practically in the LAPS of complete STRANGERS?? I think it's fucking HILARIOUS!!"
She handed my tickets back to me.
"Not my policy. Just enforcing it. Sorry, but there's nothing I can tell you. Nobody wants to move."
"That's IT???"
"I'm afraid so." And she left me standing there among a throng of passengers who were relieved that THEY would not be asked to switch seats and therefore sympathetic.
I walked back up to the gate; two kids, three backpacks, one stroller.
"Now what?" I asked the anxiety-plagued gate agent, as I handed back my unused boarding passes.
"Well....we can get you through another city but I have to check and see if I am allowed to do that, since your bags are already on the other plane and it could be a security problem."
"Not MY policy...." I muttered.

And so I was re-routed on another plane, through Charlotte, NC. Where it was a balmy 30 degrees.

So what happened? Anybody else ever experience this?
I have some ideas....
Now that USAir and most other airlines are nickel and diming us to stay in business (pay for bad snack food, pay to check baggage) they have to come up with new and creative ways to make more money than the tickets we already purchased. So some marketing WIZARD came up with the brilliant new plan of charging passengers $5 per flight to reserve a 'premium seat'. 'Premium seat' actually just translates into: A NON- MIDDLE SEAT. So basically, the message is that they hate families. There, I said it. USAir is anti-family. On top of the three full price tickets I purchased, they wanted an extra $5 per family member to ensure we would be able to sit together, instead of placing my children in the virtual laps of strangers.

They call it marketing.
I call it child endangerment.