Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Big Changes Are On The Way

I’d like to start off with the fact that I loved my vacation. For those that haven’t caught on or just haven’t been reading my blog long enough, I’m a bit of an overachiever workaholic. I love work. I love projects. And I also apparently welcome the high stress of customer service. We had to make a "Crys is Out of the Office" plan after my incident with Nasty Cat’s bite. Being out for two days of work with no back up plan was disastrous, and trying to catch up from that was horrendous. The point is that there was a back up plan this time, and I was able to let any work cares float away. For once, while on vacation, I was able to forget about work and relax and have fun. And it was wonderful and joyous and blissful. (Well almost … I don’t know if anyone can actually totally say that and mean that when it comes to staying at your almost in-laws for a couple of days. But that’s another blog entry.)

And back to reality … we need to find a new place to live ASAP. I hate the city we live in. I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it before but the city that both my fiancé and I grew up and currently live in has held the record for highest homicides … I’m sure multiple times. I grew up in the ghetto where my father’s family house (and a few other kind Filipino families) had the neighborhood go to crap around them as drug dealers moved in. And I do not feel safe here. I was reluctant to move back, but in order to provide the boys with a stable environment I did. We live in a better part of town than that I grew up in, but I do not like it here.

I also do not like the fact that Older Boy has changed schools so much. However, I am all about transferring him to a better learning environment, a stronger learning environment and a safer neighborhood. We HOPE to only have at least two more moves in our future: one to our next place and one to the house that we hopefully will be able to afford at some point after the wedding.

So we’ve been furiously looking up safe and affordable places to live. School starts at the end of August though, and I’m really feeling the pressure to find a place for sure. I’m also getting highly anxious about the updates to the Parenting Plan that we’ll have to figure out and try to work out with Jane.

Last night I typed up the August plan and realized that the last week would have to include whatever changes we’ll be making. FH has already notified Jane that we’ll be moving. I’m going to be looking over the divorce paperwork to make sure that we’re not forgetting anything important that we ought to be doing. But I don’t think she’s really grasped the changes that are going to have to happen.

We’ve been catering to her this past year and have sort of had to pull nails out to get her to drive down here (the whole 20 or so minutes). We’ll be moving a bit further away and across the bridge in the Bay Area. And I’m telling you now, I’m willing to pay the $4 bridge toll once a week, but I’m not willing to drive all the way to her place every week. The options we’re presenting to her are to either meet halfway at Jolie’s every week or to rotate weeks. So she’d drive to our place one week and we’d drive to her place the next and so forth.

I’m also trying to save some money this month by having us rotate driving trips anyway. I’m just not all about driving to her place three times in a span of five to seven days. Either way you look at it, gas adds up. And it would be nice if Jane could share this with us to help cut down on gas. So in addition to the calendar I typed up three things that FH and Jane need to decide upon. Neither will give either of them a break over the other. I honestly sat down and made it fair. No one is really getting the short end of the stick here when it comes to driving. And the boys won’t be getting any less time to spend with her. In fact, if Jane agrees to meet halfway and makes the effort to get there on time (and stay the entire time) they should be gaining an hour to spend with her.

I really hope that she does agree to meet halfway at Jolie’s. My hopes are that if she has to leave her computer game to drive down to meet us, then she’ll be forced to be in an environment where she has to interact with the boys and not just put on a movie or the television and jump back on the computer. I do realize they are just hopes and at Jolie’s Jane still has the ability to not interact with them. I still just can’t grasp why she doesn’t want to try and spend time with them. I guess I have to remember that she never really did want to spend time doing fun and nurturing things with them even when she lived with them.

Anyway, to welcome myself back I have two things on my mind. One is finding a home fast and the other is to try and get Jane to realize that big changes are on the way and she can’t sit on her butt playing video games anymore.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Children Discovering They CAN Do It

I have been living in the joy of firsts the past week or so with Younger Boy. I’ve realized that there is nothing quite as exciting, beautiful or heart warming as when a child realizes that he CAN do something by himself. I think part of it is that when I first came I realized just how not independent the boys were, and ever since I moved in with them in September last year I’ve been working ever so hard to help the boys each to discover their independence.

However since most of my time is spent with Younger Boy I’ve noticed his light bulb going on a lot more. Last week while Middle Boy was at Jane’s on his special weekend we brought the boys to the swimming pool. We had signed up the two older boys for swimming lessons so they could learn how to swim and gain some confidence in the water. (And I felt a whole lot safer about them going to the pool with Jane if they at least had some of the basics down.)

I personally had never been to a pool with Younger Boy. He’s gone before with my fiancé, Jane and his Auntie Allison. However I had never gone with him. I didn’t know how he had been allowed to participate in the water or what others had generally taught him about the water. We put a little life vest on him so that he would at least be able to float.

At the pool itself and brought him into the water past the steps he started clinging to the wall or me for dear life. I decided that for that time in the pool I was going to teach him how to blow bubbles and feel more comfortable in the pool. It got to the point where he was no longer clinging to the wall or me, just simple holding my hand. I taught him to kick his legs and eventually we were gliding across the pool … I was pulling him and he was kicking. We all decided to climb in the hot tub to warm up before we went back home. That’s when he looked up and me and my fiancé and declared “I can learn to swim!” And with that he was pushing off from one side, gliding across and floating himself.

After we had returned home and dechlorinated I found out from my fiancé that as far as he knew Younger Boy had never had that experience before. I felt proud of myself and very proud of Younger Boy for not only taking the challenge on, but for realizing that he can do something himself.

Another thing he’s been learning is that he can brush his teeth by himself. We used to do it for him and over the weekend I had the idea that “Maybe I can brunch my teeth with him.” I figured if the boy could learn to wipe his butt then he could by far learn to brush his teeth. I wasn’t sure how much he’d grasp but figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a shot.

We stood side by side looking in the big mirror in the bathroom and he mimicked my movements while I brushed my teeth. It was really exhilarating when he realized that he was brushing his teeth like I was. His eyes got big, he got a look of excitement and then his eyes glittered with joy. I about jumped for joy myself watching him.

Despite the frustration of raising a toddler (much less a toddler that has just had to go through a divorce and the confusion of having Jane as a mother) I have absolutely been embracing this chance to raise a child and teach him how to do things. These little accomplishments that each of the boys has reached since I’ve moved in help me realize that maybe I’m not doing all that bad of a job after all.

Updates: Nasty Cat is home from kitty jail. He’s been rather lovey dovey ever since he came home and by that I mean that he’s wanted to be pet and cuddled a lot more than he used to want from us.

Also we’re going on vacation next week up in Oregon and Washington. So please don’t think that I’m ignoring you or have disappeared into the land of the unknown. I’ll be back and I’m sure I’ll have all kinds of stories to share. And I’m totally using all of your road trip tips that you have been posting.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Trying To Understand The Middle Child & Updates

You may remember this post “Coming Clean With Myself” where I ranted a bit about how Middle Boy really really irritates me. And trust me when I tell you that I have been trying ever so hard to stick to my mantra of “It is the behavior that I dislike … It is not the child that I dislike.” But I still have a distinct feeling of frustration, irritation and wanting to bang my head against the wall when it comes to Middle Boy’s behavior.

What it comes down to is that I am the older child in my family. In my family there are only two of us. And point blank I am having the hardest time being empathetic for the life of a middle child. I’m trying. I’m trying so hard but it is so frustrating because I'm just not getting it. I like to think that I have the ability to step outside of the box and view issues. But when it comes to the repetition of some of the things he does I just don't understand.

Is there a book somewhere with a similar title to: “Learning to work with the Middle Child that Has Experienced Divorce – And Who Spends Most of His Day in La La Land?” Because if there is a book out there that focuses on that, I would love a copy.

From taking my Child Sociology and Psychology based classes I can see why he may do some of the things he does. The extreme gloating of things that he has received or just done, knowing that the others have not. The constant picking on and provoking Younger Boy (I think all children that have siblings under them do this.) However, I have no idea how being a child of divorce might have an effect on the Middle Child … much less what it’s like to be the Middle Child of Jane.

Some of the things that I’m doing are:
  • Praising him when he does things and trying to help him figure out his own natural talents and abilities. He really has become a lot more independent than he first was when I moved in, and he is learning new things about himself and discovering things about him self as times goes on.
  • Taking him out for special “Middle Boy” time when I get a chance. It’s no easy task when I have Younger Boy attached to my hip, and especially now that it’s summer vacation. But when there’s a chance my fiancé and I will bring only Middle Boy along with us (individually) to help him feel special.
  • Providing him outlets and opportunities to discover things about himself, to express himself and to let him be creative in his own way.
And yet there are some things that I just don’t know how to approach. Patience and consistency are my only tools that I know on these.

When I say that Middle Boy lives in La La Land I mean that Middle Boy literally lives in La La Land. He literally always has his head up in the clouds. He’s that giddy, laughing, smiling boy who prances around with the butterflies, plays with the kittens and spends his time sipping lemonade and sliding down rainbows. It’s amazing how care-free he usually is and I’m ever so happy that he’s able to enjoy being a child. But it’s really frustrating when you’re trying to get stuff done and it’s like everything you ask him to do goes in one ear and out the other, even if you’ve asked him to do it two or three times.

Another thing is when it comes down to trying to talk to him or discipline him. He’s usually Chatty Cathy. However when Younger Boy starts crying or you try to ask him why his dirty clothes are on the closet floor he clams up. He sits there and you can tell that he’s thinking very hard about the answer, even if the question only requires a yes or no answer. He’s even been willing to go sit in time out because he refused to tell us what happened or because he lied to us about what really happened. (We won't even be angry or obviously angry on some of these occasions when we're simply just asking "Why is Younger Boy crying?" We'll ask Younger Boy and the answer just doesn't make sense so we'll ask for clarification from the older children in the room.)

And he’s our sassy talk back kid. You ask him to do something and he talks back or gives you some sass. However, his sass isn’t necessarily the sass of a rebellious teenager. His sass is generally more of a tone and inflection thing. The problem is sometimes it’s not a tone thing and he really is just being disrespectful to us or to his brothers. He also has the “I’m choosing not to listen to you” thing more than either of his brothers. Then it turns into a Middle Boy sitting there playing with toys while his brothers are sitting there trying to get the room clean. He’s just ever so often rude to whoever it is that is trying to ask him to do something. No matter how politely and nicely you try to ask him. I don’t think anyone ever likes to feel that someone is purposely disregarding them and not listening to them.

Maybe I just need to find a book on parenting and stop buying so many books on being/surviving being a step parent. I keep reminding myself I’ve only been doing this for a couple of months and it’s honestly going to just take time, experience and a mistake or two along the way to really feel and “get” an understanding of the parenting thing. It’s just frustrating because it feels like I’ve been living this lifestyle for forever now. It’s like I feel like I should have all the answers to this.

Anyway, that has been one of my main dilemmas lately. Living peacefully with Middle Boy and not stressing out and holding all my frustration and anger at his behaviors inside. Also in trying to figure out a positive and constructive way to handle and work with these behaviors.

Now that I have that out of my system, here are some updates for you. This past week has indeed not been a fun week for me.

First an update on my hand from the last post. The swelling in my hand has gone down finally. I’m actually able to type with my pinky (thankfully! Especially considering I’m on the Internet team and all my daily work is done online! I was even able to cut vegetables for dinner tonight.)

And I brought Nasty Cat to a vet to be in quarantine and to get his rabies update. I got blindsided by Animal Control on Wednesday when they came knocking on my door without a warning phone call that they needed to take my cat. I sent the boys to their room and tried to be calm and not angry with this. Since I didn’t have him up-to-date on his rabies shot my options were to send him to a rescue for 10 days or bring him to a vet for five days. Considering he is a rescue cat I chose that a five-day vet visit might be a bit less traumatic for him than a 10-day stay at a rescue. He should hopefully be home Monday.

For an eye update, the good news is that my eyes have cleared up a bit. I had to switch all of my drops over to preservative free drops and they have made a positive difference. However, I now have a tiny little plug in my right tear duct. The first day and part of the second day were really the only days that I could feel it in there. There was some discomfort – but more of an uncomfortable feeling than any pain. I can’t feel it now and wonder if it’s actually still in there. I get to go back the day after our upcoming vacation to see if it’s made a difference.

This was also the week where Middle Boy went to go spend his extended weekend at Jane’s. I’m waiting for Monday morning to roll around to see if there will be any changes in his behavior due to that. I’m hoping that if there are they’ll be minor. The only thing that’s happened since we picked him up was his gloating to his brothers about things that he got to do, and his plans of gloating to his cousin about new toys that his cousin doesn’t have. He did receive a talking to about that. I don’t have any real details of his stay except for a tidbit that he cried on Saturday when Jane went to work. And that’s all that we know.

I’m sorry this one is so long. Thank you for reading and for any words of wisdom you may have for me. I’m emotionally exhausted but the wheels in my brain have been cranking for days.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Hospital Story With Photos

*Warning! if the thought of an IV in an arm or an image of a large snake is not pretty, don't look! I'll gladly email you the post without the photos because I'm just considerate like that. :)*

So if your one of my friends on Facebook you might be aware, but if you’re not then I have a great story to share…in photos and short sentences.

It started Sunday night around 11:30pm. My fiancé was boiling some beans for the next day’s dinner. Then the pot over boiled and the hissing sound freaked out Nasty Cat

And in efforts to try and prevent my fiancé from being harmed in his state of freak out, Nasty Cat chomped down really good on my right pinky finger. It was a good chomp. And stupid me decided, “Oh I’ll just wait until morning to see if it’s bad” because I’d endured cat bites from Nasty Cat before and I was fine.

However, Monday morning rolled around and I wasn’t fine. My whole pinky was swollen and painful and the swelling was starting to take over my palm. So off I went to the hospital where they did this:

And hooked me up to this for an hour:

And sent me home with this to take for the next 10 days:

I went back to the hospital Tuesday because the swelling had extended to the right side of the back of my hand. I no longer had knuckles underneath my ring finger and pinky and the swelling had also started to crawl up the base of my ring finger.

My doctor put more antibiotics on file for me in the chance that the swelling didn’t go down and decided to further spread on my hand.

Luckily I woke up this morning and the swelling on the back of my hand and on my palm had gone down. My pinky is still slightly swollen but is no longer throbbing. It is still rather tender and useless to me. I am back at work though today because I can actually maneuver a mouse and type with four fingers on my right hand without pain. (Luckily I got that A+ in typing and I can make my ring finger do some double duty.)

I am, however, taking it easy and continuing to soak my hand every couple of hours. I also have an eye doctor follow up today. (Have I mentioned how sick I am of seeing doctors and paying co-pays?)

I am also lucky that last March during a reptile photoshoot at work I was bit by this:

And didn’t have to get another tetanus shot – because those hurt and wipe me out and then they hurt even more the next day. Give me the hour-long IV drip any day. And yes, that is the snake that bit me last year in yet another fit of fright and freak out. It is a Brazilian Rainbow Boa Constrictor and I think it might have been my 5'1" height or a bit taller when stretched out. I was quite the subject of excitement in the emergency room that day.