My journey to shoot for the moon.

Archive for the ‘Friends’ Category

Horse from Hades

I’ve written about Po, my friend Mandi’s horse, that Michael has been riding.  Po, we discovered a few weeks ago, has cancer.  He is going blind and he can’t be ridden anymore.  After he got back from North Carolina, Michael went up to spend some time with Po. (more…)


Adult Company

I recently met my friend Erica for lunch.  Erica and I met at the school I worked at last year.  Both of us were new for the school year, we were both Educational Assistants and both of us were RIF (reduction in force) for this school year.  Erica found a job at the school Michael would go to if he wasn’t open enrolled at a different school.

Erica and I used to have lunch together once a week.  I miss that.  So, getting to have lunch with her was great!  We talked about our boys (she has 3) and work/interviews.  It made me realize how much I miss adult conversation during the day.

I do talk with my mom almost every day, but looking someone in the eye, watching their body language and seeing their expressions is the part that I miss.  Because I am hearing impaired, I rely on these cues.  That isn’t to say that I don’t hear what the other person is saying, with my hearing aides I usually do.  But, there is just so much more to a conversation than just listening to the words.  And I often miss the nuances when I am on the phone because I cannot see the person.

Spending my time alone has been good too.  I’ve gotten a number of projects finished and I’ve had a chance to re-charge.

Monday I started Substitute Teaching.  I am very happy to be working again.  It is nice to spend the day doing something that I love.  On Monday, I substituted at a magnet school for a Mild/Moderate SPED teacher.  It was a good day and I had some fun.  The people were nice and I actually knew 2 of the teachers.  It was a long day and from 8-10am seemed to take forever.  The rest of the day went by fairly quickly.

Tuesday, I subbed at David’s school (middle school) – also for a Mild/Moderate Teacher.  I had a great time.  Besides having to be there at 7 am, it was wonderful.  I have decided that I LOVE middle school.

Today and tomorrow I will be subbing in Early Childhood Education as a SPED teacher.  It should be interesting, as I have never done this before and the classrooms are integrated.  There will be a regular ed teacher.  I am sure that I will be quite tired by the end of the day.  And then I have to go back and do it again the next day.

Friday I sub at another Elementary School as a Mild/Moderate SPED teacher.

It is keeping me busy and providing lots of adult company, just not the same adults day after day.  David’s school has me scheduled for a day in October and I am hoping that they ask me to come in for some long term sub positions (more than 10 days).  It would be wonderful to be in the same place for more than a day or two.  Mostly, I am having fun.  Look for the story about my day at David’s school – I should have something posted by early next week.

Apartment Living

One of the things that I like about living in an apartment is that I get to meet people who I wouldn’t have met otherwise.  The boys and I get to meet people who are here for a short time and then move on.  But they are interesting people and sometimes we are lucky enough to have them stay in our lives.  And sometimes not.  The apartment complex is more diverse than a neighborhood would be (here in Parker, Colorado) and there are people of all ages here.

For example, there are some grandparents here in our complex.  We met them soon after we moved in.  They had their son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons living with them for a while after they moved in.  The boys were all around the same ages and the oldest was in the same program David was at school.  When the son and his family moved out of his parents’ apartment, we kept in touch.  In fact, he watched the boys for 1/2 a year in the morning before school.  He is now divorced.  But his parents still live in the complex and the boys still visit on a regular basis.  David has somewhat moved on (he is the oldest and has less in common as the boys have grown-up), but Michael LOVES spending time with the boys.  In fact, this summer the boys were visiting their grandparents a lot and Michael was usually with them.  I would feel worse about this, but I had pneumonia for most of the summer and I knew that Michael was safe and supervised.  The grandparents, who my kids call “Grandma and Grandpa H” (they use their full last name, but I won’t post that here), are amazing people.  Grandma H was a teacher and is from Puerto Rico.  Grandpa H is from NY or NJ (I can’t remember – I know that their family lived in both places – but they moved to Colorado from Ohio).  They’ve been married forever and their son is, I think, in his late 40’s.  He was an only child.  They love to cook for the kids and when David did a project on Puerto Rico, Grandma and Grandpa H made some traditional dishes for him to take to school to share with his class.  They buy the boys Christmas presents every year and the boys have gone (in pjs) to their apartment Christmas morning for a little bit.  Sometimes the boys go over there and just hang out and talk with them.  I love that the kids have a great relationship with Grandma and Grandpa H.  We wouldn’t have met them, or stayed in as close contact, if we didn’t live here.

We’ve also met a number of young families.  One family lives across the hall from us.  The mom, Tina (I’ve changed their names to protect their privacy), is 27 years old.  She has 3 children (and one who died at 15 months from brain cancer, she was 20 years old at the time).  Her youngest son is special needs.  Looking at him, you wouldn’t know that anything was wrong with him.  But try to talk with him, he’s 5, and you are left perplexed.  She’s been working on getting him a diagnosis and into special programs since they moved in.  She’s had him at Children’s and has had a ton of testing done on him.  She started several years ago (before they moved to Colorado) and has had difficulties getting the specialists to give him a diagnosis.  He was a premie and he has a whole slew of problems.  She finally got a diagnosis and I think that it fits (mostly).  As a special ed teacher (even though I’m not working at the moment, I do have a Master’s in SPED), she has asked a lot of questions.  And I’m happy to help her out.  Some of the things she’s been told have been confusing and I understand why she is so frustrated.

But, let me tell you, she is an amazing mom.  Her daughter and her youngest son are 12 months apart (her daughter is the youngest).  Recently,I went to check on her because as I was taking the garbage out, I noticed that her keys were still in the door.  As it turns out, she had both her daughter, Anna and her youngest son, Charlie crying and she was trying to get them in from the car.  Her oldest, Lance, who I think is in 2nd grade, had to use the bathroom and had gone running to their apartment.  I helped her carry stuff inside and she told me about Charlie’s diagnosis and that she would be meeting with ChildFind the next day.

As we were chatting, we discovered that we both love to scrapbook.  She doesn’t have much time (her husband travels and is not home much of the time) because she is busy with her kids, but she wanted to show me her scrapbook of her son, Allen, who had died.  While I was sitting looking at it, Charlie and Anna were both crying.  She said that they both missed their naps and were tired and cranky.  (Personally, I was surprised as my kids were done napping at 3, but she said that her’s still napped – apparently, Charlie could nap for 3-4 hours a day.)  Lance had gone out to play with the kids running around the complex (Michael was one of them).  Charlie was bothering Anna as siblings do when they are tired and cranky.  I listened to her talk to him.  She spoke softly (not her normal volume) and slower.  She simplified.  “Stop.  Anna was there first.”  And she told him consequences, “If you don’t stop, you will go to your room.”  She was amazing.

I would have been flustered.  I would have yelled, if it were my kids.  But, she has learned that that doesn’t work with Charlie.  He is on the Autistic Spectrum (for those of you who don’t know – that means that he has some autistic characteristics, like not understanding facial expressions or tones of voice that other kids his age would understand).  Charlie also doesn’t understand consequences most of the time, making it difficult to discipline him.  She and I have talked about strategies for parenting him.  But she lives with him 24/7.  And she tries so hard.

When I was 27 David was a newborn.  I was figuring out parenting a newborn.  I was inexperienced and unsure of myself.  Here Tina is at 27 and has gone through the loss of a child (I can’t imagine) and is trying to raise a kiddo with special needs along with her other 2 kids, mostly by herself.  If I hadn’t talked with her, I would have missed out.  I would have written off this amazing person because of stereotypes.  Because looking at her, you might see a young mom of a crazy kid (Charlie).  You might see a woman who smokes (and this is the ONE thing that I can’t truly get past – but who could blame me with Chris’ lung cancer), who doesn’t seem to have things together.  But that is not who she is at all.

She is an expert on her own kid and trying to find her way through the maze of doctor’s offices, services and insurance to get her kid what he needs.  She is a strong advocate for him, and is trying her best to work through a system that is difficult for parents who have the money to hire advocates to help them.  A system that is confusing even for professionals and often responds best to the parents whose voices are loudest and checkbooks can afford attorneys.

I am shy by nature.  Sometimes it comes off as being “stuck up” but I am usually quiet.  If someone says, “hi” I’ll respond, but often I have difficulties initiating conversations.  Living in an apartment has forced me to leave my comfort zone and interact with people.  It has expanded my horizons.  I would love to have a house and a backyard.  I would love to have a place to call mine, permanently.  But that isn’t to be right now.  And if I didn’t live in an apartment, I wouldn’t have met Grandma and Grandpa H or Tina.  I would have missed out.

The Family Bed, Breastfeeding and Attachment Parenting – Part 1

Before David was born, I was told, by the friend of family, never, ever let the baby in your bed.  Chris and I tried to follow this advice.  But it was very difficult.  At first, David slept in a bassinet next to our bed.  I was nursing him and when he would wake up, I would get him from the bassinet and take him into his room and nurse and rock and then bring him back to the bassinet.  Many times I would put him down and he would wake up.  And he never seemed to sleep for more than an hour or two without needing to nurse.  Obviously, Chris couldn’t nurse him, so it was up to me.

When David was almost 2 months old, I started a new job.  I worked in the evenings as an Administrative Assistant for a psychiatric  practice and most of what I did was transcribe reports.  I would bring David to Chris’ work and then leave to go to work.  Chris would take David home.  By the time I got home from work, I was exhausted.  I was pumping and Chris was trying to give David bottles of breast milk.  David was not happy and would nurse and nurse and nurse once I got home.

Since I was getting home at 10 pm or so, David was nursing most of the night.  At first, that meant that I was dozing in the rocking chair.  But eventually, I was so exhausted, I began nursing him in bed.  Both of us would fall asleep.  When he woke (maybe 2 hours later, if I was lucky) he would nurse again, but as he was in bed next to me, I didn’t have to get up.  I didn’t really have to wake up.  After a while, both of us became experts at nursing and sleeping at the same time.

After about 6 months, Chris took a new job for a lot more money and I was able to stop working.  David still wasn’t sleeping for longer than 2-3 hours at a time, but since he was in bed with me (and Chris) and I wasn’t working, it wasn’t such a big deal.  We also tried putting him in his crib and letting him cry it out.  It was horrid.  He cried, and cried forever.  Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and got him.  Both of us were in tears.  It was at this point that I realized that David NEEDED me.  He wouldn’t always need me in that way, but why shouldn’t I give him what he needed?

So, David slept in our bed.  It wasn’t always great, but I slept better most nights.  He didn’t sleep through the night until, well, he was almost 2.

When David was 17 months old, I got pregnant with Michael.  I tried to continue nursing David, but I just couldn’t.  It was just too uncomfortable.  So, we began weaning David.  I write “we” because Chris had to be actively involved because when David saw me he wanted to nurse.  David still slept in our bed and held my hand to go to sleep rather than nursing.  It worked.

David was 26 months old when Michael was born.  His spot in our bed was between Chris and I.  Alex slept at our feet and Michael slept on my other side.  Michael never slept in the crib.  He was in the bassinet only when I needed to put him down someplace safe.  Michael was a very high-need baby.  He suffered from birth trauma and I’m not sure if that is what caused it, or not.  Michael needed to be touching me at all times.  He would not be put down.  He would not be held by anyone else.  If he wasn’t touching me, he screamed.  This made it very difficult to manage anything.

When David was a toddler, I bought a sling.  David did great in it and it took a lot of the pressure off of my back when I was trying to carry him.  Thank goodness I had gotten used to using it with David because Michael lived in the sling.  He could nurse in the sling and he would sleep in the sling.  If I took him out of the sling and tried to put him down, he screamed.  It was horrible.  Showering meant that I would hop in soap up, wash my hair and hop out.  I think I got to the point that I could get in and out in 3 minutes.  Michael would either be on a blanket in the bathroom or in his baby chair.  And it didn’t matter if I sang to him the entire time or as he got a bit older, could see me while I showered, he screamed.

Once in a while, Michael would allow David to play with him and calm him.  That was great.  But since most of the time I had to hold Michael, I wasn’t able to do a lot of things.  Finally, I bought a backpack carrier and would wear Michael on my back while I tried to cook or clean.  It worked.

As Michael got a bit older, we moved him to the center of the bed.  So, Chris and I were on the outside and the boys were on the inside with Alex at the foot.  It is a very good thing that we had a king sized bed.  I don’t know how we would have managed otherwise.  Michael would nurse throughout the night, but I wouldn’t wake up fully, so it didn’t matter.  I think that Chris had the hardest time adjusting to the arrangement.

When David was around 3 we bought bunk beds for the boys.  We started having David sleep in his own bed.  For the most part, he did quite well.  Sometimes I would wake up and he would be in our bed, but generally he was happy with his own bed.

When Michael started crawling, he started leaving me for short periods of time.  He would “check-in” and either nurse or rub my arm 5-6 times in an hour.  It was better, but it still wasn’t ideal.  And he wouldn’t sleep unless he was touching me.

When David was 9 months old, I got involved with La Leche League.  This is where I met my friend, Emily, who was a Leader.  I’ve written about Emily and her boys and she was often my barometer.  She told me, with great confidence, that if you baby the baby and toddler, you wouldn’t need to baby the teenager.  I didn’t know if she was right, but I figured that the worst case would be that I would still have to baby my teenager.  It made it much easier to meet the boys’ needs, when I had support of an experienced mom.  Emily was only one of the amazing Moms that I met at La Leche League.

It was through La Leche League, that I learned about the Family Bed and Attachment Parenting.  My confidence as a mother increased and while Michael was extremely difficult, I felt supported.

More to come with Part 2.

EVEN More Musings From an Unemployed Teacher Turned Frustrated Housewife

What will I name the follow-up to this post? What comes after EVEN More?

How come I can manage to clean off the kitchen table completely, but can’t keep it that way?  It takes less than 24 hours before it is covered with stuff again.

Why does it rain whenever I plan an outdoor activity?

Why is it that when my schedule allows me to sleep in, I still wake up early?  And why, when I need to get up early, am I sleeping very deeply when the alarm goes off?

When you are blowing up a beach ball, if you don’t hold the valve, the air won’t go in.

Why do some of the smartest people miss the obvious?

How is it that I became an adult and still have so many unanswered questions?

Can you see the speech bubble above my head when you read this?

Why don’t I get to throw tantrums?  I don’t want to be an adult and have to act my age.

I don’t want to referee any more arguments and my black and white shirt needs to be washed so all disputes must wait until shirt is clean.   How did I become a referee anyway?

What did we do before sticky notes?  How did we “flag” items that were important?  Can you imagine how your life would change if suddenly all sticky notes disappeared?

I think that digital cameras were a great invention for parents.  I didn’t take many pictures before I had my digital camera because I didn’t want to waste film or money developing the film for bad pictures.  Now I can take as many pictures as I want and if I only keep a few, that is ok and I just delete the ones I don’t want.

How can a child be in the bathtub for over an hour and not wash?  Is there not soap and shampoo in the tub?  Why is it that when you remind said child that they need to use soap, they say “ok” and when you check on them a little later and ask if they have used soap, they reply, “not yet”?  What are they waiting for?  And why is it when you check with them again, they say, “I forgot.”  How can you forget to use soap when you are in the bathtub?

How is it that you can clean all day and within an hour there are more dishes to be done, laundry to be washed and garbage to be taken out?

Why would anyone clean all day?  I must have lost my mind.

If I lost my mind, it was because I put it in a safe place and can’t remember where that safe place was.  I know that I put it somewhere safe, so we wouldn’t lose it, but I really can’t remember where that is.  It would be the same place where I put the powdered sugar container before we found it.  I promise you that it was safe there though.

Why is it that it hits 3:30 pm and I get tired?  And then all I want is to eat chocolate and sleep.  I understand the sleep part, but what about chocolate part?  Is it because I think that chocolate will wake me up?  Or is it because chocolate is “comfort food”?

Why do kids assume they missed the bus when a bus goes by?

Why didn’t my package arrive when it was supposed to?  It left Denver at 4:17 am and it still isn’t here.  What did we do we could track packages?  Or order off the internet?

Why did it take more than 24 hours for my package to transit from Denver to Parker?  It takes me less than 30 minutes to drive from Parker to Denver

Why is it, when I finally have a day all to myself – Chris is at work and both kids are at school – I have a massive headache and can’t enjoy it?  Aleve and coffee haven’t put a dent in it, either!

If unemployment says that I am supposed to make 5 contacts a week for jobs, and I apply for 10 jobs this week (because there are 10 jobs posted I can apply for), and there are no jobs posted next week, am I good?

Why is it that when I change the sheets, wash the comforter and actually make the bed look nice, does the fan decide to spit dust?  I know that I need to clean the fan and I’ve thought about doing it, but just hadn’t gotten to it.  It is a tough job standing on the bed to get the fan clean, and the dust goes everywhere.  And I’m still working on getting everything in my room put away from moving the furniture from Sugar’s trip out the window (see previous post).

Why do my kids argue about the stupidest things?  They actually were getting VERY angry with each other about having a fan on in their room while they were trying to sleep.  One child was hot.  The other child said he couldn’t fall asleep because of the noise the fan made.  How in the hell do you solve this problem?

Parenting at 9:45 pm would not qualify as some of my best parenting.  I get angry when kids are arguing when they are supposed to be sleeping.

Why is it that I ordered a book for me (on parenting – specifically parenting kids without religion) and David manages to steal it and read the beginning of the book before I have a chance to look at it?  He really frightens me sometimes:  he was familiar with one of the reviewers of the book.  How does a teenager know of a reviewer of a parenting book?  And does that mean that I bought a good book, or one I should be leery of?

The Lost Art of Quilling, Taking Pictures and Erica’s Wedding Present

I know that I said that I was going to limit myself to one posting on my blog each day, but today I am going to post twice.  I’ve been waiting for Erica to get back from her honeymoon and to give her her gift before I could post this.  I am excited and want to share.

After we moved to Colorado, I became interested in scrapbooking.  I should say, more accurately, I began scrapbooking because I had been interested in it for several years.  I have a number of scrapbooks that I am working on and I have three albums from our trip to Disney with my in-laws a few months before Chris was diagnosed.

Chris has asked me to take lots of pictures.  When Chris was a teenager he lost his dad after a freak snowmobile accident on New Year’s Eve.  He told me that he wished he had more pictures of his dad and he didn’t want our boys to feel the same way.  So, I take lots and lots of pictures.  As I have time, I create scrapbook pages.

Due to our small living space, scrapbooking is a challenge.  I like to have all of my things spread out around me and I tend to make a huge mess.  Chris would say that was an understatement – I take over the entire kitchen table.  And when I start to scrapbook, it takes me several days to finish a project.  I can’t seem to work on one page at a time, I need to do several.  It is a lot of work just to get everything out that I will need and then I have to clean it all up.  Someday I will have my own space that I can use for scrapbooking and organize everything so that it will work with my crafting style.  Until then, I will have to continue using the kitchen table.

Just over a year ago I was working on a page of Chris’ grandparents and his dad, as a kid.  I couldn’t find embellishments that I liked that didn’t cost a fortune and I was SO frustrated.  Scrapbooking for me means that I buy stuff on sale and look for cheap materials whenever possible.  I have quite a collection of stuff and almost always can make due with something I have, but this time I couldn’t.  I ended up purchasing something that was WAY too expensive and still wasn’t exactly what I wanted.

As a result, I started looking into making my own embellishments.  I discovered Quilling.  Quilling is the art of paper crafting and it has been around for a very long time.  It doesn’t take much to get started and is generally inexpensive.  It is detailed and can be challenging, but even a beginner can make some beautiful things.  As I was Quilling, Michael came to see what I was doing.  He LOVED Quilling.  In fact, he liked it so much that I bought him his own tool (about $5 at Hobby Lobby) and he began helping me.  He also made all of his teachers Christmas gifts (with some help).

Quilling is beautiful when done carefully.  I use a quilling tool, toothpicks (to apply glue), tweezers (fine point) and very sharp scissors.  I can quill circles for a long time, but working on making them into something is an activity that I can only do for an hour or so before I start getting frustrated and lose my concentration.

While I started quilling to embellish my own scrapbook pages, I have yet to do that.  I quilled a design on a plain corkboard for my desk for last year, made a picture for my mom’s friend, did picture frame mats for my parent and my in-laws, helped Michael with his teacher gifts and made Erica’s Wedding present.

Erica’s Wedding present was the result of me having too much time on my hands and not feeling well enough to do anything.  I’m not sure if I thought of it when I was fevered.  However, it turned out to be beautiful, even if it took much more than I expected.  Of course that is the way most of my projects go, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.

My idea was to quill the words LIVE, LAUGH and LOVE and mat them in individual frames, then to quill flowers along the mat of another frame and design it with a space for a picture of Erica and Les.  It was a great idea, but it ended up driving me nuts.  It wasn’t the quilling that was the problem either, it was cutting the mats.  First, I hand measured everything to make a template.  Then used a craft knife to cut the template to the right size.  I had difficulties using the knife and a ruler and cutting straight.  Then I had difficulties with the glue and the paper sticking to the weight I used to flatten things out.  Finally, I couldn’t cut anything without messing it up.  I would attempt to finish one mat a day – and it would take 10+ attempts to get one right.  I was beginning to regret this project.  Then I got a plastic template for rectangles – it worked somewhat better, but it wasn’t great.  Finally, I got the cutting tool that went with the plastic rectangle template and it was AMAZING.  Two mats plus inserts in 10 minutes or less.

I had given Erica the first frame (LIVE) a few days before the wedding.  She loved it.  I told her that she would have to wait to get the other 3 until she was back from her honeymoon.  And they turned out beautifully, if I do say so myself!  Saw Erica last night and was able to give her the last 3 frames.  She was so excited!  She said that she knows where she is going to put them and couldn’t wait to get a picture of her and Les so she could put it in the frame.


Erica and Les – This was truly a gift from my heart.  I wish you joy in your marriage.  Love you guys!





UPDATE: Being Dumped

Earlier today I posted about my two former friends, Susan and Sally (you can read the post here).  I got a text from Susan today.  Generally, I don’t believe in coincidence.

The text said – its susan (not her real name).  Just wanted to let u know ur family in in my thoughts and I hope ur hubby pulls through this.

I’m not sure how to respond to this.  It is perplexing at the very least.  Is she reading my blog and does she know that I wrote about her?  If she is reading my blog, she hasn’t read The Sobering Facts about Lung Cancer and My Opinion because is she had, she would know that there is no cure for Stage IV Lung Cancer. If she is reading my blog, how did she find it?  I certainly didn’t tell her about it.

Did she text because it was the first day of school for the Middle School kids and her daughter and David go to the same school and are in the same grade?  Did she see David today?

Chris said that Susan texts him every now and then.  He responds to her, even though it is upsetting to me, because he says “she’s checking to see if I’m still alive.”  Why she would care, I don’t know.

Anyway, I haven’t responded to Susan’s text.  I don’t know if I should.  I don’t care to ever speak to her again.  That sounds angry, but I”m not angry.  She just isn’t someone who I care to let into my life.  So, at this point, I have decided that I would update my blog and put Susan to rest and not think about her anymore.

What do you think?  Please feel free to comment, as I’d love to hear how other people feel about this.

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