Saturday, December 31, 2011

Everything IS better with butter, after all.

It will be a quiet New Year's Eve for Rob and I.  As I type, he is trying to get Campbell down for the night, but I hear a fair amount of squawking coming from her room.  The kid loves her sleep, so she had better get with the program and settle down soon.

For the last several years, our NYE's have consisted of a fatty, delicious meal and time well spent with Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin.   Our menu was originally a chicken dish, but as I stood crushed by humanity in Whole Foods, I called Rob and asked him if he was truly married to the chicken idea.  That's when he said he saw that lobster tails were on sale.  Never, ever send me to the store, because I will always come home with an upgrade. 

Whole, jumbo lobsters.  Those suckers were so big the guy had to bang the lid shut.  I reflexively winced, as that gesture was a bit overkill considering the claws were double-banded.  The tiny hippie in me feels bad that my dinner is living in my fridge right now.  Not so bad that I won't dredge him/her in delicious, fatty butter and slurp down every morsel fit for consumption.

I just hope the tiramisu I bought for dessert will keep us awake until midnight.

My wish is that all 17 of my readers have a blessed, peaceful, joyous new year.  Peace out until next year folks.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A partridge in a pear tree?

Today I took Cam to the doctor, because she has had a hacking cough that resembles an old lady with a three-day-a-pack habit.  My mom intuition was rewarded with one ear infection and a pat on the back for keeping the nose drippy (which is causing the cough) and not all snotty and congested.

I took her to the practice we have been seeing since a few days after we brought her home.  I am not in love with the practice, for which I will only name one thing I have a gripe against: the doc NEVER remembers that Cam is a girl.  Never.

I took her there today because the new practice is a 30 minute drive, and I am essentially lazy.  But today, I was pleasantly surprised at how fast we got in for a sick call and the gentle nature of the on-call doc.  Loved him.

Cam, however, did not.  After winning her affections by playing a game with the stethoscope, he then had me hold her down (which she oddly submitted to) so he could dig out a piece of wax from her ear.  Campbell is dramatic, I'd say, but this kid screamed the scream of her ear drum being butchered, to which the old guy smartly said "Plan B.  Ear wash."

Cam continued to holler and gasp for breath, soaking my shirt, for the next 10 minutes.  As soon as that door shut behind him, she cut the waterworks and smiled at me.  Heh.

Off to the pharmacy, did a little lunch date with my BFF, and then home for a nap.  While we were out Rob took Dixon to the vet for a strange, and worrisome growth on his paw pad.  Turns out, it a flippin' wart.  Who the hell has ever heard of a wart on a dog?  Exactly.

The remedy?  The vet asks Rob if it would be feasable to soak Dixon's paw in Epsom salts each night.  To which my dear husband says "I'll check with my wife."  WTF?  A pedi for the Pug?

Back to the pharmacy.  Same guy on duty, asks if I forgot anything.  Nope, back for more this time for me and the dog.  The dog's script cost more (antibiotics for him, sleeping meds for me  ;)  )

As I returned home I though about the last month.  Rob and I both had awful stomach bugs this week (still feeling wobbly).  Cam and her ear infection.  Three cats with worms (all good on that front now).  Zelda Pug has scratched her eye for the 3,274th time.  And now Dixon with his wart-paw.

Would sir require a foot bath this evening?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I'm still blaming the chicken.

Yesterday both Rob and I were hit hard with a stomach bug.  As is both the upper and bottom systems were firing at the same time, and only death could remedy it.  Seeing as how Cam was her normal cheerful, energetic self yesterday morning, both Rob and I blamed the chicken wings we had for dinner the night before.

Then today I found out that a smattering of kids form my mommas group have been sick other adults though.  I honestly didn't think 40 somethings could get this sick from a bug, that our systems had worked it all out when we were kids.

Today is better, but my energy is non existent and I am wary of all foods.  Rob on the other hand, has figured that since he stopped puking, a greasy gyro would be the best first meal.  Me thinks he will live to regret that choice, especially after I tell him that my mommas group friends told me the bug took about 4 days to pack up and leave.

It will be a cold day in hell before I eat chicken wings again though.  Even if they had nothing to do with it, they were not all that pleasant the second time around.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Never alone.

Having insomnia is a bitch.  I take meds for it, which make sleeping easier, but make getting up and out of the rack in the morning an awful pain in the ass.  Saturday mornings I have an AA meeting that I love, my "home group" if you will.  I haven't been for a few weeks because of, well, dragging my carcass out of bed seems to be a bit harder on Saturday mornings when I know Rob and Cam will be up and out of the house.

So glad I got up and went to that meeting.  In four and a half years, a lot of the same faces are there week after week.  Even though I am terrible about small talk, and have yet to get a sponsor, seeing those same people is very comforting.  A man celebrated his first year of sobriety today by sharing his experience, strength, and hope. So many people spoke up to tell him how much they admire his courage and that he is an inspiration.

Then someone shared that they go to a meeting down in Florida that has a big sign over the door: "You Are Never Alone Here".  It's true.  The place I most feel comfortable is in an AA meeting.  People genuinely CARE about me there.  They care about all of us.  And no matter how shitty I feel on any given day, when I sit in that meeting, or any meeting, I feel a sense of peace and serenity that only comes from feeling not alone. Someone then remarked how they heard once that an AA meeting is one of the only places they have walked into a room full of strangers and were able to reminisce.

If I could wish anything for people in 2012 it is that they have that same sense of peace and serenity that I get an hour at a time in those meetings.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Officially official.

We got the call from our SW today, we are officially in the system as foster care parents in our county.  I must have asked her three times if that meant we could get a call any minute now.  She calmly replied yes, and then kept trying to tell me how she was getting our info into the system to get paid.  Because I have a limited attention span and love shiny objects, all I heard was "you could get called at any minute."

The timing is pretty funny.  It is almost two years to the day that we went into the adoption pool for Cam.  Our first "maybe baby" was about six weeks later.  Here's to hoping the calls come a little faster than that.  :D

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It could be at a CVS near you soon.

Cam has had a hacking cough and runny nose for over a week now.  You'd think this next statement would be unrelated, but you will see.  The kid also has an unusual palate.  She LOVES wasabi peas.  The more they burn her nose, the more she comes running back for more.

Cam knows where we keep the peas, and kept walking over to the cabinet.  The cabinet which is devoted to Rob and my snacks.  Okay, junk food.  So she would walk over and grunt.  Seeing as how she has never had a Twinkie, or Raisinettes, or Sweetarts, I grabbed the peas.  She nodded solemnly.

Since eating her weight in those peas this afternoon, that cough has subsided.  Anecdotal evidence?  You betcha.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Who's to say whose crazier?

One of the best things about being not quite right mentally, is therapy.  I love my therapist.  We've been working together for almost five years.  I initially hated her guts, thought she might be just a bit that side of malpractice.  Predictably, it was my alcoholic's mind that made me think she was out of her tree, and I had put my mental eggs in the wrong basket.

Her major transgression?  Suggesting I needed AA.  I remember, clear as a bell, telling a friend "doesn't she realize I have REAL problems going on?".  I laugh at my brazen, stupid self of yesteryear.

Another great thing about therapy is that I get a quiet break of at least 30 minutes in the waiting room.  No whining child.  No husband prattling away on a work call that you can hear at any spot in our tiny townhouse.  Blissful peace.

So I break out a book while waiting my turn, and start to realize my appointment time is nearing.  My senses perk up for the telltale signs of another client quietly leaving my therapist's office.  Ten more minutes passes, and my time is officially past.  Normally, when someone exits, I do the therapy office bit of neighborliness, by averting my eyes and ignoring the person.  No way I could do that to the lady leaving today.

She was guffawing before the door even cracked.  I could hear my therapist return the laughter, and then the lady started talking LOUDLY about decisions she had to make.  She broke therapy etiquette by pretty much airing her business.  I had to look.  So I took her full in.  Because I am learning to deal with my character defects, I admit I am quick to judge.  I also have a hair-trigger for loudness.  My immediate thoughts were not kind, and erred on the side of brutal.

E, my therapist, whispers for me to come in.  Promptly I march in and plop myself on the sofa, and reach over to the other end to feel the warmth on the seat from the braying woman who just vacated.  Mind you, I am not ticking off the many ways I am being crazy.

I have been really anxious and irritable the last three weeks since my last appointment.  I chalked part of it up to my menstrual cycle.  Then I tried to mentally scroll through all the things that could be causing my mood upset:  motherhood?  Nope.  Husband?  Not really?  Mother?  I had to admit that even that hot-button was not it.  So for the next 50 minutes E and I worked our way through what it could be.

Well, seems I am very much fearful of getting licensed to be a foster parent.  Right under my nose the whole time, something I SHOULD have picked up on, but didn't.  Felt great to get that load off, and now the fear is manageable.

I left E's office feeling light and bouncy.  Then I thought, "man, she must be emotionally drained from dealing with crazies all day long!".  And I am pretty humbled to admit, I was barely thinking of ME being part of that equation.  The braying woman came right to mind.  Then I though how awful of me to diminish my own crazy and it's effect on others.  Light bulb!

Still, that braying woman has some shit to work out.  Heh.

It could have gone one of two ways....

...but we got a smile instead of sheer terror and a look of horror.  Either way, a good story to tell when we pull the pics out years later.  Last year, Cam had "the look".  Mouth agape, and staring dead ahead as if in complete shock. 

This year Cam took to Santa like a pig to mud.  After the picture was snapped, Santa came up to me to ask how old Cam is.  He was shocked to hear that a 21 month old was so calm and ready to sit happily.  The kid even said "No!" when I asked her if she wanted to come back to Mama.  She even gave Santa a big kiss.

When did my baby start looking like such a big kid?!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thank Full.

That is the saying on my Thanksgiving tee I got from Life is Good.  I wore that sucker with pride yesterday, having sat impatiently by the front door for days waiting for the UPS man to bring it to me.  It arrived right before 1700 the day before Thanksgiving.  For that, I AM thankful.  :)

We had a great Thanksgiving.  We gorged ourselves at Cracker Barrel, knowing our family eats late.

I had FIVE plates of food from just ONE order.  Oh how I love thee fatty, carb-laden foods.

I had been so looking forward to spending the day hanging with family, chatting.  What I did not take into account was that keeping track of a very inquisitive, agile, and energetic 21 month old would lead me to have no conversation longer than "are you done with your plate?" or "where is your father?".  Still, it was a wonderful day, especially since two of my out-of-state cousins were able to both be there.

Cam melted down hours before we anticipated leaving, so we had to hustle out, and hit the country roads.  Cam was asleep before we got a mile down the road, which was a nice change from the whining we endured for most of the hour and a half trip over.  I was zooming down the nice hilly road when a deer decided to make a break for it right in front of us.  I am extremely thankful for Doris, my most awesome family hauler.  She stopped on a dime, which meant poor Dixon (9 year old Pug with a bum leg) was thrown full speed into the back of Rob's seat.  Cam never woke.  Poor Dixon sat on the floor where he landed for the next 20 minutes.  Rob finally put him back on the seat, only for him to climb right up onto Cam's lap for a long siesta.  Being that he weighs a few pounds more than her, I felt bad...yet I felt worse for my boy.  Who doesn't need a warm lap after a near death experience?

Got home and got Cam back down fairly easily.  A few hours later, she woke up crying and hopping mad.  We sat in her chair, but she could not get comfy.  Then the cough she developed two days before started.  the kind of cough you'd expect from a wizened old woman with a three pack a day habit.  Then the tell-tale signs of retching began.  I thought, oh shit we are in for it finally.  The kid is NEVER sick.  Nope.  She yakked for about 10 minutes and recovered.

It was this morning when I realized, she did the same thing the first night of vacation, and on another big day.  Too much excitement?  Perhaps.  But I am extraordinarily thankful that the puking ended and that all she has today is the nasty cough and a grossly snotty nose.

Lots of gratitude today.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Tomorrow we are spending the holiday at my aunt and uncle's.  My uncle is my Dad's brother, and I used to spend lots of weekends with he and his family when I was a kid.  I love this side of my family, because even though we only see each other a few times of the year, it always feels like...home.

Choosing where to go for Thanksgiving has gotten dicey over the last few years.  Once my Pop died, I felt compelled to spend the day with my mother.  It wasn't where I wanted to be, so I was ever so thankful that she decided to buck tradition and go to her friend's parent's house.

The last two years, since Pop died, I have chosen my other relatives, because it's fun and I don't have to be surrounded by negativity and a maudlin atmosphere.  This year was even dicier.  Mom decided she wasn't going to her friend's house, and I never offered to come to her place.  She made the correct assumption that I would be going to my uncle's, and I just let it lie there.  Cowardly, I know.

You see, my uncle's side of the family is technically my step family.  Since Pop died (and even before) many little things have transpired to make Mom persona non grata.  My sister has completely alienated that side of the family, as she always thought of them as step family, and not the people who actually gave a shit about us.

Last week my sister L had a little birthday party for my uncle and my niece (her daughter).  Mom actually came with.  It was odd in that the day of the party was on my Mom's actual birthday, but it was barely acknowledged.  Well, not odd, just...awkward.  To make matters even more awkward, Mom starts saying how she feels bad, but she won't be able to join us for Thanksgiving, because she will be spending it with my sister S (confused yet?  S is my full blood sib, L is my step) and nephew.

Silence.  Like you could hear crickets kind of silence.  Fresh in my memory was last year's conversation with my aunt "we'd invite your mom but she never seems to want to be here.  And your sister and nephew have made it very clear they don't like us."  Ahem.  Okay.

So, my step family, who feels MORE like family to me does not like my blood family.  I am stuck in a weird and awful place, because my mother keeps asking why she has been black-listed.  Um, really?  Think about it.  Mull that one over and see if you can figure out why, because it's quite glaringly obvious to everyone else.

I posted last night on some forums that my dirty little secret is that I sometimes wonder if my family, the ones I never remember meeting because I was younger than Cam when my parents hooked up, secretly puts me in the same camp as my mother and sister.  I wonder, because we are not blood, if I am really one of them.

It's ridiculous, so says my heart.  OF COURSE they love me and think of me as one of them.  It shames me to feel this way.  And sometimes I wonder if I only feel this way because of the rejection of my mother and sister....which then makes me extremely pissed at THEM.  Is their behavior and attitudes causing me to lose a bit of a grip on my family?  95% of me thinks I am completely bat-shit crazy to think this, but then there is the scared, self-conscious part of me that can't shake the feeling.

This issue has nagged at me throughout my life.  Having Cam may have exacerbated the feelings.  It scares the hell out of me to think she will ever feel this way about us.  About this family that I love.

So while I have a piece of my heart that is in turmoil, I am ever so grateful to have this family.  To look across the table and see familiar faces, not because we are genetically related, but because they have always been there.  I am grateful that Cam will grow up knowing that she is not the only one in the family who has no blood ties, and that everyone loves her just the same.

I am humbled and grateful this Thanksgiving holiday.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A taste of two.

This weekend we kept a friend's baby while she was away playing Army.  We didn't keep him at night, just during the day.  I slept like a dead log last night.  Keeping Cam from savaging the baby (6 months) was a full-time, two-person operation yesterday, but today she gave up the fierce attacks and settled for surly attitude.  Still a two-person operation, and I still feel more tired than ever, but I saw that I may not be so crazy thinking about adding a second little human to our family.  Maybe.

Part of today's festivities included a bowling party for a four year old.  Cam's first taste of bowling:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Almost there.

Our social worker came today.  It was just supposed to be a training class make-up, as we missed a PRIDE class when we were on vacation in September.  Seems our home study is done, except for the inclusion of our references.  Those meetings will be held early next week, to which our SW thinks she will have it written up and done before the holiday.  Then we just need to wait on the interim-head of resource homes to sign off, and we will be licensed.

Holy crap!

When we completed our adoption home study, almost exactly two years ago, we were told a one to three year wait.  We a less than 2 month wait.  We were shocked beyond comprehension at how fast we became parents.

Now, our SW told us, before I even asked, that because we want children between 0-2, we will be waiting a long time.  She then said we could use other agencies to find placements that young.  That second bit surprised me, in a good way.  The first part, I have to laugh, because of Cam.

Part of me thinks we will have a placement before Christmas.  And I AM a betting woman.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

It has to be done.

Back in August I started writing out Cam's adoption story.  It was an idea I had after reading some things on, about getting a will done and making sure to pick good guardians.

I got to writing in earnest, describing why we chose adoption, our venture into IVF, what agency we used, even what criteria we picked about what kind of situation we would accept.  I pasted in all the emails I exchanged between our social worker, some of which were difficult to read, as Cam's story has lots of twists and turns.

For whatever reason, I put the project aside and pretty much forgot about it until this week.  I suppose what precipitated my picking it back up, was joining my mom at her lawyer's office so that I could be made her power-of-attorney.  All of the sudden a fire has been lit up under my ass, and I am very close to being done with the story.

Except that I am not sure where it ends.  Does it ever really end?  Can I put a date on it and lock it up in our safety deposit box and forget about it?  I have been sitting in Starbucks for three hours.  Two of those hours I have been screwing around on the internet trying to decide if I need to include more.  When I think about the possibility of Rob and I both dying, and leaving Cam parent-less...again, I get all choked up.  She lost her first parents when they made the adoption plan.  If something happens to Rob and I, that would be two huge losses.  Because of that I am having a hard time wrapping up the "ending".

And perhaps Starbucks was not the place I should have gone to write something so filled with emotion.  Or that I chose the day I am overly hormonal thanks to PMS.  I should have brought my own box of Kleenex, as I have practically emptied Starbucks' napkin holders.  Not much of a choice, because there is no way I could have stayed at home and been afforded the solace in which to write.

When I have told people what I am doing, they think it's great...but morbid.  For whatever reason, I am not at all bothered by the fact of my mortality.  I just hope it doesn't happen with Rob.  Because choosing an decent set of parents to take our place?  Impossible.

Before Cam, I would have easily picked three couples to name.  Now, seeing those same three couples in light of their parenting choices?  Oi vey.  Add to that the special consideration of what adoption means, and add to THAT, what it means to parent a child of color.  My mind splits in agony at the thought.  My one motion towards that area is to put a book in my Amazon wish list: In On It: What Adoptive Parents Would Like You To Know About Adoption. A Guide for Relatives and Friends.

So, mortality is not a problem for me, making sure that after I am dead my kid knows how cherished and loved she was and finding suitable stand-in parents is.  

Responsibility is a bitch.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Love the leaves, love the weather.

Cam looks a little..."off", and by all accounts, she has been today.  It did not stop me from hustling her whiny ass out of the house for our weekly walk in the woods.  I joined a mommas group last spring, and have been whiling away my stay-at-home hours with some pretty fantastic ladies.  It could be that this group keeps me from losing my mind.

And on such a beautiful morning, who could resist a walk?

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


A good topic for any day.  I have been keenly interested in the subject for the past few months, but a bit of serendipity pushed me toward it in a good way.  My church (Unitarian Universalist) had a sign-up sheet a few months ago for classes.  My eyes zeroed in on "anger", "frustration", and "management".  I signed up without fully reading what I was signing up for.  I just knew my ass had a problem with the first two issues, and was hoping the third would get it under grips.

Imagine my surprise on the first evening of the class when I was presented with a book on forgiveness.  Surprised, but intrigued I took a copy and promised to pay my $12 at the next class.  The book is fantastic.  Admitting full disclosure, I have been remiss in doing my homework.  I "cram" by going to class an hour early so I can read the chapter we will discuss that night.  I am a terrible procrastinator, and I have found that there is really not enough time in life to read all the books I want to read.  So I have about 8 books, most of them for AA sitting in my book bag or on my bedside table, that I read semi-regularly.

I struggle with forgiveness, much as I believe a lot of people do.  It is essential for a happy heart, I am learning.  Being that I have major trust issues, and all of them stem from my childhood, this class is at least opening the door of my heart.

One benefit, I was able to spend a good portion of yesterday with my mother, and  Not get angry.  not get frustrated.  I didn't let myself get triggered by comments or look at all the things SHE does wrong.  Not to say I have wiped the slate clean, or forgiven, per say.  More like I have started to understand, the once (highly!) irritating, "she did the best she could" mode of thought.  Work with my AA sponsor has also helped take the edge off my control issues, so that I am not so quick to judge or lash out.  Learning that i cannot control anyone else has been a long, slow, painful process.  This class in forgiveness also helps me in that process.

A roundabout way of saying forgiveness is good.  Not an easy undertaking (again, great book), but the fruits of the labor or worth it.

Have you been forgiving lately?

Friday, November 4, 2011

We are getting there.

Got a call from our social worker yesterday.  We got the most excellent news that we do not have to make up a class we missed while we were on vacation in September.  SW will be coming to our house to review the materials, and to chat with us about the home study, which should be done by the end of the month.  So it's all coming together, and I am extremely excited and a little bit nervous.

We could be licensed by this time next month, and possibly have a placement.  Two under two?  Have I lost my mind?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Parents of the Year award goes to....

Well, it doesn't go to us.

Today, within five minutes of meeting Cam's new speech therapist, I undermined what I thought was an air of superior parenting.  You see, Cam was busy digging through her new play drawers, drawers that at one time belonged to my massive wood TV stand.  My bachelor furniture, if you will.  It has nice, deep drawers that housed 100's of DVD's and CD's.  A few weeks ago I though it would be better used as a sort of toy chest, instead of the dreadful plastic bins I had been using.

Today we were getting acquainted with the speech therapist, and Cam was digging through her new drawer full of plastic jewelry, I noticed some had slipped behind the drawer.  I fished out a few bracelets I hadn't seen in a week or so, and then I grabbed hold of something small, almost credit card sized.  As I pulled it out to examine it, I realized, "Oh shit. Fuck me."

Sitting in my hand, was a pack of rolling papers.  I kind of chuckled and said "another life".  The therapist wouldn't meet my gaze.  I figure she must not have had the kind of recreational, relaxing nights I did.

All I can really say is it really was (what seems to me) a lifetime ago, and at least it wasn't the kind bud itself.  

Monday, October 31, 2011

Our little owl is a hoot!

Cam scored three Halloween parties and two nights of Trick-or-Treating.  Not bad for a child not yet two.  The nice ladies on our street gave her first dibs to all the great candy (lots of Sweetarts for Rob, and a regular sized Kit Kat for me) and one lady bought Cam a bottle of bubbles.

Came home to put Cam down after two houses, because we don't play with bedtime here.  As it was I had to pry that green Jack-o-Lantern out of her outraged hands, before persuading her that jammies and a story were MUCH more fun.  Yeah, even I call bullshit on me.

I have a great big plastic bin that I bought from Target.  This bin I will fill with this year's decorations, decorations I plan to score tomorrow morning, and notes for next year.  One note reads:

"Rocks.  Rocks for 30-something year old women who show up on door steps begging for candy for their "lazy teen-aged daughter".

What self-respecting woman, NAY, parent, would dare ask people handing out candy to actual children, for candy for a child that is 1) too old to Trick-or-Treat; and 2) not even there?

That treat bag deserves a rock.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Date night

Finally.  A meal of real food.  Tablecloths.  And (hope hope) nary a whining child within earshot.  Too bad both Rob and I are too exhausted to make the 8 pm play we were planning on doing after dinner.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

We may be clinically crazy.

Rob and I are thinking of selling our home and moving.  In this crap market, we may be able to break even...which would be a good thing, I suppose.  We had a friend who is a realator come by and check out our digs to see what we need to do to spruce up the joint before we attempt to put it on the market.

The crazy part?  We are thinking of just picking up and moving westward.  We live on the east coast, and want to move out to the Seattle area.  Seattle has been my dream, and now Rob has the lust in his heart too. 

This is all on the down-low,, so ssssshhhhhh.  I am not even mentioning this to my family, especially my mother, until we actually either sell this joint or have the moving van loaded up and are ready to roll.  I don;t need anyone shitting on my dream or quilting me into staying since the almost my entire family lives within a 60 mile radius.

Rob came up with this plan to sell then rent to save money on what we have been forking over in mortgage payments.  We can cut it by half, which we can use to pay down our debt so we can one day soon buy another house.  The plan was devised at 0400 on Saturday morning, he told me at dinner on Saturday night.  I was ready to roll 5 minutes after we talked about it.  THAT is the addict in me.  We love chaos, crave it, because that is how our minds work.  My therapist had a field day with this idea, but she didn't shit all over it...which was nice.

So now.  Now I am ready to purge my home of clutter and extraneous crap.  I am consigning almost 300 items at a big sale this weekend.  I walked around the house, looking for things not nailed down to get rid of.  So now I am really inspired to purge, given that movers like to charge by the pound.  Rob might find himself sitting on flimsy outdoor furniture soon.

Monday, September 26, 2011

They need to get on that.

Facebook really needs to focus on creating an app, or whatever, to block all football talk. 

I used to be a football fan.  Owned all the paraphernalia.  Went to a game every year.  Then I started to get a little sick to my stomach, each year, progressively more and more... thinking about the money behind it all.  And the shameless players.  And the in-your-face rooting AGAINST your team. 

Last year I bought Cam a jersey for her father's team, and one for my own.  My ingrained love of football was finally trumped by my old-lady values.  Sigh.  So, my jerseys have gotten tagged for sale at the next big consignment sale (next week!).  Rob can dress her up this year, but I won't be buying her any more gear.

Which brings me back around to the obnoxiousness that is the football bragging and taunting on FB.  Instead of this "unsubscribe to_______", I need to be able to unsubscribe from any and all sports talk. 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Never met a puddle she didn't immediately love.....

No matter how fetid it is. 

I am a big believer in letting her have her fun in puddles, but I drew the line when she headed for the dumpster area with a foot of water.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Foster classes almost ever....or not.

Last night was number 7 out of 8.  Last week we missed class, and evidently it was a doozy.  The ONE class I didn't want to miss was the one on discipline.  From the remarks of the facilitator last night, it was an actual learning experience for some of the participants.  What?  You can't hit already traumatized children to make them tow the line?  No hot sauce or Life Buoy in the mouth?  HOW would one actually make a child comply?  Heavy rolling of the eyes, here.

I mentioned several weeks ago how we were told we would have to wait two months to make up that class.  I was highly pissed.  Now, I am truly ambivalent.  The feeling I have been getting in these classes is that we, the people volunteering to be foster parents, are being done a favor.  As if the advertising for families in our county is some aberration, and really, we are troubling them for a license.

Last night's class was started by a visit from one of the lawyers for the department.  She was there to talk slowly and show on a chart the process of opening a case through reunion/TPR/adoption.  She was none too pleased when I asked where I could find specific statutes about adequacy, and confirmed my deepening suspicion that there are NO actual laws.  No actual statutes protecting the rights of the human children.  I said as much, and she actually groaned a bit.  I am sure, there is now a tick in our file about my not being supportive of reunion, which is not the case at all.  I am just a stickler for rules, and knowing exactly what the expectations are so I can tow them well.

I also ran into a lady I met a few months ago at a gym class with Cam, who was in the class ahead of us to foster.  She was making up a class.  Seems she also had an axe to grind with her social worker dragging her heals on the home study, and repeatedly blowing off appointments with her references (but blaming the, not a bright move, Masters holder!). 

So by the end of the night, I was ready to tell the agency to go fuck themselves, and to give me a call when they 1) got their shit together; and 2) actually NEEDED to get people licensed to offer foster care to kids in need. 

But then, surprise guests arrived:  two white parents who adopted AA kids through foster care, four separate times.  My ears pricked up.  Listening to a couple who had adopted transracially empowered me to stay the course and to give my ego a break.  Had that couple not been monopolized by another couple asking questions, I would have done the same.  The only thing that bothered me is that the four kids were trotted out AFTER the parents told the deeply personal reasons each had come into care.  Rob was horrified.  It didn't occur to me until we were riding home that it might be in the least bit wrong.  I would have LOVED to have talked to each kid individually though.  Especially the first boy adopted.  What it was like to have, at age 6, his position usurped by a new brother, a year older.

It also made me deeply sad that we live in such a small house.  We have two bedrooms, and any potential child/children would have to share a room with Cam.  Last night I was ready to bring all the kids in our county home.

An emotional trip.

Cam and I were invited to go visit an aquarium for free yesterday, so we gladly took the chance to go check out Cam's favorite element: water.  The fish and other sea creatures were just there, taking up precious space in the delightful water. 

The aquarium is in the city we adopted Cam.  It is also in the city where my father lived (marginally) for 7.5 weeks, slowly and horrifically deteriorating before he finally had to be removed from life support. 

So as I crested one of the ramps to the city, and saw the skyline, my stomach lurched and my chest seized up.  First, I realized Cam had not been back to the city since we picked her up at 17 days old.  As I sat, overcome with emotion thinking somewhere close by, her first family is living and breathing, I saw the hospital where my dad died.  It was like a punch to the gut times 100. 

Nothing like trying to navigate city traffic when your eyes are bleary with tears, and the extreme emotions of happiness and sadness are competing for room in your already stressed brain.  I can thank my ADHD for realizing me of the awfulness of the feelings by cussing like the sailor I am at my GPS for, again, screwing me on directions.

It's odd that it took me 19 months to realize that the saddest day of my life and the happiest day of my life happened in the same city, almost two years to the day between Pop being admitted to the hospital and Cam being born.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Home, Sweet Home.

By the time Friday rolled around, the weather had turned quite chilly.  So Cam and I visited the indoor pool, then went back to fetch Rob to do some shopping at the Boardwalk.  Without Mom there, it was relaxing...but then we had my sister and nephew come down Wednesday the stress was ratcheted right back up.  People that like to sleep late and go to bed late do not mix well with a toddler and her parents.  Try keeping a squawking, pre-verbal kid quiet in a three bedroom condo.  Or endure a 49 year old female that whines with the frequency of the 19 month old female.  I kid you not.

Yeah, it didn't work well, and Rob and I swore:  Never again!!  We are thinking of doing two weeks during the same time next year.

And not one family member will be invited, or perhaps even told we will be there.  You can come back to this post, copy and paste if I am stupid enough to go back on my word. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A little bit of joy.

This pretty much sums up how Cam feels about the pool and vacation.

A record.

I have now attended more AA meetings this week than I have in the past month alone.  You may gather that it is because I am sharing a vacation rental with my actively alcoholic mother, but it's also because I have decided to throw myself into AA.  I got a temporary sponsor after four years of sobriety.  I need to get with the program, or continue to be frustrated, angry, lonely, and a wee bit masochistic. 

On the brightest note of the week:  Mom decided to head back home because she was bored, and presumably because she didn't want to be "discrete" about her drinking.  I have spent the last four nights attending meetings, holed up in my room, or sitting outside until it was time to sleep. 

So while Cam takes a rare morning nap, I am able to finally breathe a deep, calming breath and look forward to the rest of the day and evening.  As Mom pulled away, I felt a pang of guilt (hello co-dependence!), but that was tempered with the realization that the living room is not off limits to me at night. 

Viva la vacation!

Monday, September 12, 2011

A day of near bliss.

So tired from the night before, I took 1.5 sleeping pills and was knocked out good and cold from 2300 until 0800.  Woke up nice and refreshed, and found that Rob was about to go wake Cam up. 

Me:  "Dude, do not wake that baby up.  Are you insane?!"

Insane DH:  "NO.  She's slept for 13 hours."

Me:  "So fucking what.  If you wake her, I will kill you."

He may have walked off pondering my last statement/threat, but he didn't go near that door.  WHO WAKES A SLEEPING BABY?!?

Cam finally got up at 0900 and we headed out to find a tasty breakfast...which is not hard to do in a beach town.  Stuffed, we came back, loaded up and headed to the pool.  I have found that my loathing of sand has only gotten worse with age, and watching a 19 month old throw and smear sand in her own face is too damn nerve-wracking for me to handle.  So while I dragged half the contents of our condo to the pool, Rob took Campbell down to the ocean to play in the sand before heading back to the pool where I had set up camp.

Great thing about this place?  A jungle gym right on the beach!  Rob tuckered that kid out enough that we got an hour, possibly less at the pool before we needed to head back and feed Cam some lunch.

Right now there are 3 out of four occupants sleeping soundly in the condo.  The rest of the afternoon?  Headed to the boardwalk for the world's greatest fries...Thrashers, and every other kind of junk food you can imagine.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

It's not a vacation unless your baby takes ill.

We got to the beach and checked into the condo mid-afternoon yesterday.  Spent the next hour or so unpacking and then a forced march to the grocery store for Rob, Cam and I.  Her royal highness, my mom, sat on her ass complaining and second guessing everything and everyone.  Ended up ordering pizza, because by dinner time Cam was DONE with the day, and Rob and I were so stressed we couldn't bring ourselves to prepare any of the $400 worth of food the lady of the manor requested.

I set up Cam's room as best I can to simulate her night time experience at home.  Get her down easily, but at 0200 I hear her screaming as if being stabbed.  I throw open the door to find my pitiful baby sitting and rocking and screaming in her Pack n Play, not even acknowledging that I have come to get her.  When I pick her up my hand smooshes something that feels like a noodle. She had spaghetti for dinner.

Sure enough, poor kid thre up all over her bed, blankies, lovies, you name it.  It took five seconds for me to realize that I may be good with all manner of bodily functions...but vomit is not one of them.  Thankfully, our place has a washer and dryer, so I was doing laundry and trying to calm Cam down enough to get her re-clothed and settled into bed with Rob.  After an hour and a half, she finally relented and slept, well, like a baby...restless but fitfully.  Every time she moved, I was up and alert, hoping the next trauma she endured would not be falling out of bed and cracking her head on the side table.

Where was I?  In the top bunk of the bunk beds, strategically placed next to the full sized bed my husband and daughter were occupying.  I was actually very happy to be up there, having always wanted and been denied as a child, the wonder that is top bunk. 

Today, Cam has been feverish, but acting almost "normal".  By dinner time she was back to herself, and as I type this now, she is banging on the door to her room, clearly trying to escape bed time. 

No luck kid, Mama is TIRED.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Recieved heartbreaking news tonight.

A young lady who I worked with a few years ago lost her battle with Cystic Fibrosis.  She couldn't have even been 25 yet.  She and her hubby had a baby last year who spent a long time in the NICU for being so premature (but is doing great now). 

Just cannot imagine what her poor husband and family are feeling.  Absolutely heart-breaking.

A new journey.

Rob and I started fostering classes last month.  We started the process back in the spring, but had to wait until August to get into an open slass.  We are four weeks down, with four more to go.  The homestudy is dragging out, and driving me a little crazy.  What started out as a pretty quick process, has turned into everything I dread about working with a government agency.

We have had one visit with our social worker, got finger-printed, and had a health inspection.  We are waiting on two more SW visits, a fire inspection, and for our references to be checked out.  The biggest hitch is that we will miss one class next week, because we will be on vacation.  In the info session last spring, they told us a missed class could be made up in the next session OR with our social worker.  Now I am being told we have to wait until the next session to make this class up.  Which means we have to wait TWO MONTHS to make up one fucking class. 

When I pointed out that it would be two extra months the SWs all looked confused.  Did I really need to explain to them that since it is the sixth class out of eight, and there is two weeks between sessions that that makes EIGHT WEEKS?

For an agency that is begging for foster families, this just seems so counter-intuitive to getting people licensed.  It's also brought out the protective, advocating mama bear in me.  I am sure my name is already on a list somewhere as a potential pain-in-the-ass.  It hasn't helped my situation much by being the one to correct the SW's when they give out erroneous info on RAD, drug exposure, and attachment issues.  Whatever.  This new journey has lit a new passion in me. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A productive day.

Last night I sat like a lump in my bed, with my laptop, making lists of things to get done this week.  I have an app on my iPhone that I adore...ListPro.  For someone who loves making lists, but always loses my little sticky pads full of them, this app has brought me immeasurable joy.  Sad, no?

I now will get my diabetic eye check, acupuncture for my shoulders and stress, bought the Dollar Tree out of cheap hangers (consigning a ton of clothes!...Come to me $$$$!), got Cam to a play date, am about to go get my hair cut, and see my therapist.  Oh, and got my flu shot.  A productive day, indeed.

It is raining and in the mid-60's here, and I am in my element.  I am giddy with anticipation of being child-free while unloading my troubles and questions and having someone rake their hands through my hair. 

And then Cam screams as if on fire, just now, to let me know she's done with that all too brief nap.  Forty-five minutes, and I am out of here!

Monday, September 5, 2011


Feels like forever since I've been to my own little blogosphere.  I have missed getting my experiences and thoughts down on "paper".  Life not only gained on me this summer, but somehow managed to trip me up.  Each day in the last six weeks has felt like it was moving at glacial speed AND roaring by.  No sooner up, then I was looking bleary eyed at the clock reading midnight-ish.

Insomnia, which is always with me, has been been wreaking havoc.  It took a trip to my pdoc to figure out that, yes, I am losing part of my mind, and no, it's not permanent.  My mix of drugs was upped by one, and I feel like I can breath again.  My agitation and anxiety level was way above what I have ever felt before.  The pdoc reminded me that lack of sleep will do odd things to, say, your brain, nervous system, body...all that good stuff.

I thought once my mother was able to drive and get around by herself, I could just go back to my life and carry on.  Not so fast, and not so easy for me.  Her detox was something that initially scared the shit out of me.  Then, I realized I couldn't do jack about it, so I was able to let it go....a bit.  Life started to smooth out a little, normal routine for Cam and I.  Still had Murphy, the unrepentant house pisser, though.  Stress..

Middle of summer, and all of our friends were on vacation, or heading there.  So Rob and I began to think about doing a two day, cheap trip to the beach.  Because I have zero tolerance for filth and ineptitude, finding a suitable place was a bit of a challenge.  THEN, because I also have such a short memory, and a penchant for masochism, I thought about how nice it would be to ask my mom if she would like to join us.  She complained of being lonely, and it's just killed me to see her like this since my dad died.

I should have had my fucking head examined when I asked her to go away for two days with us, so what happened next still blows my mind.  What was a two day jaunt, is now a full week.  And I agreed to it. With my sister and nephew coming down half way through that week.  That week is now upon us, in just a few days.

The mother-sister dynamic actually makes my heart start skipping, in a purely awful way.  But because I am really good at shoving awful, horrific thoughts from the front of my mind to the corners, all that stress has manifested itself as an irritable, anxious, bitch with very little insight into why I might be so fucking stressed out.  My therapist is fantastic at her job.  She lets me work at what is bothering me, without leading me.  Which would be great, if I weren't so goddamned tired and could think beyond the next five minutes.

It FINALLY occurred to me that all the sleeplessness (well, more so than usual) and generally bitchy-ness and zero tolerance for whining (sorry, Cam) was because I am dreading going on..... vacation.

The family dynamic is crap to begin with (I am the favorite, sister is not....and it is palpable) and mom is back on the wine.  She's already been bitching up a storm about not being able to relax and enjoy "a glass" of wine at the end of her presumably hard day of sitting on her ass.

I should also mention, I have been having pain in both shoulders.  A few years ago my right shoulder was "fixed" with some acupuncture and PT.  I dodged a surgery bullet for it then, but now I am sure I will end up under the blade.  So I have to endure 3 more months of PT before we get to where both doc and I schedule the surgery.  Due to funky bone structure and some impinged tendons, my damn shoulders have been killing me, which makes it so much more fun to try and sleep at night.

Cam is still not speaking, and the pediatrician who I know is an alarmist, had me get her hearing checked out.  Perfect hearing.  I knew it, but wanted to make sure I didn't let anything slip through the cracks...just in case.  I could not get Cam's OT to call me back so I could set up a time to have a speech therapist check her out.  Turns out the lady went on sabbatical.  Ha!  So now I am left in the hands of what appears to be a very young and inexperienced OT to figure out why my kid won't say "mama".

Did I mention Murphy?  Karma is kicking me hard in the ass.  Murph was our 20th foster Pug.  Our last little foster Pug, because I went back to school full time and then we got placed with Cam.  Hooking my mom up with Murphy?  Another colossal fuck up on my part.  We have determined that the dog's brain is severely damaged.  No medical diagnosis, mind you.  Determined by my complete inability to get that bastard dog to STOP PISSING IN MY HOUSE.  He wears doggie diapers.  Need I say more about that stress?

Earthquake.  Hurricane.   And now vacation with my family.

The one bright spot is that I have downloaded a ream of AA meetings to attend and got me a temporary sponsor.  I got that sponsor by going to a meeting I normally never attend.  I stood up to share and must have looked crazed or pitiful when I laughed and said how hard the last 8 months have been, caring for my baby and my crazy, wine soaked mother.  Poor sponsor lady has no idea what she's in for with me.  I hope her program is tight.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Back...well, sort of.

I have been gone so long, I can almost hear an echo.  I have had a long, long six weeks, and have much to say.  Unfortunately, tonight will not be the night I get it out.  Very soon though, I promise.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I admit it. Bad idea.

I love to clean.  I find it very cathartic.  I take cleaning seriously, so when given a task, watch may take a while to be done right.  Out of all the things that made me a terrible candidate for military service,  getting something CLEAN was not one of them.

I do not live in a germ-free or un-cluttered house.  The many things I pay my psychiatrist and therapist for do not cover OCD.  Lots of people like to arm-chair diagnose me for it, and usually say it with a sneer, but I kind of take pleasure in that.  So fuck 'em.  Our home is comfy and well-lived in.  A good deal of our furniture is hand-me-downs from my mom and dad.  Including one "L" shaped sofa that was custom-made and stuffed with down. 

It is glorious, this sofa.  I have loved it since it came to live with us when I was in high school.  It is fantastic for napping.  It just begs to be a partner in sloth.  It came with far too many pillows, all down-stuffed too.  Not a huge pillow fan, but they do make the sofa look an ad in a home magazine.  A few years back, my parents thought a few extra slip-covers would be great, so they could dress the sofa up for the fall/winter and spring/summer.  Not inexpensive, they realized they needed to protect the investment and got some great covers from Orvis.  Thick, heavy, supposedly "spill proof", and resist that funky smell that comes with having dogs lounge on your furniture.

The covers get washed A LOT here.  Pugs shed like crazy.  I always thought Retrievers were awful, but their shedding is livable.  Pug shedding is something that will keep the Dyson Animal in business for YEARS.  Anyway, Pugs, for as little as they do during a 24 hour period, manage to funk-up my sofa covers but for good!  Two weekends ago I decided the house smelled like an animal shelter, so it was declared that I was going to get busy on some steam gather up your shit and get out of my way.  I spent about 8 hours on a 12 x 6 Oriental rug on my back deck.  The neighbors thought I lost my fucking mind, and were probably ready to shot me on sight for running our steam cleaning for 8 hours...give or take.  I also cleaned all the LL Bean Waterhog Mats (LOVE those things...might outfit the whole house with them!), so the house was smelling pretty darned good after that day.  A deep satisfaction rumbled through me, and has carried me for a little over two weeks.  Showing my rug the love it deserves (after watching bucket after bucket of dank, foul water fill up...also deeply an odd, I probably-shouldn't-talk-about-that-kind-of-way), I have been vacuuming at least every other day.

So when I came home from running my dear fucked-out-of-her-skull-on-pain-meds mother to and fro to the beauty salon (a story for another day), I stepped across the threshold and  Dirty, rotten, filthy dog.  It didn't occur to me that I was holding a very foul-tempered Cam (two year molars) who needed feeding and a nap ASAP, that Rob was on a conference call in his "office" (our bedroom...the only room that has a bathtub...), or that trying to wash three water-phobic Pugs WITH the assistance of the aforementioned foul-tempered toddler was a bad idea.

I cajoled three nervous, skeptical Pugs up the stairs, while steering Cam and the pack through the bedroom door.  Rob greeted us with a grimace, to which I replied "you won't even hear us...I'll turn on the fan!"

I was two 1.5 Pugs in when it became clear it was a terrible, horrible idea.  Cam has never met a body of water she hasn't immediately loved.  That bathtub is, as far as she is concerned, HERS and hers alone.  So when I hoisted the Pug stupid enough to come to me into the tub, Cam started throwing her leg over the side in earnest.  Bad temper gone, she was all about getting in that tub....Pug intruder be damned.

It have to stop and point out that we use expensive, organic, no-parabens, blah-blah-blah, shampoos and soaps on Cam.  For moms and pops, we get the 50 gallon drum of toxic Head & Shoulders (really, check this out...).  Most of the products we use on Cam could cause eye irritation, but for some odd reason she's never, ever once complained.  So.

I have Dixon (poor, stupid boy) lathered up GOOD with H&S.  I figure, he's an itchy boy (flippin' hot spots...ugh!), the H&S does a good job on his human parents' heads...a match made in heaven.  He's tolerating the indignity pretty well, until Cam sees that the look on his face suggests "this is some BULLSHIT WOMAN!!!!" and goes in for a hug and kiss. 

Another pause in the story to tell you what Dixon hates most in life:  LIPS.  Any sort of lip action coming at him, and he is all "back up off me...I mean it...back up off me!"  He's been known to snap at Cam.  To say she will fully deserve it when he finally does get a little Cam meat, is an understatement (and before you rush to call DCFS...they are supervised and watched constantly.  He's just a slow mover.).  Although lately, I have to give the kid credit, she uses her "gentle hands" a lot more than she used to.

So when Cam leaned in for a smooch, I was too enamored of THE CUTEST BABY ON EARTH to remember Dixon would rather, well, take a bath then be kissed.  He reared back out of my reach and Cam's bear-hug and got in the far corner of the tub.  "FREE AT LAST" must have blasted through his dim mind before he decided to give a good and thorough shaking.  All that H&S foam?  ALL over Cam.  For a kid who loves to roll around naked in a down pour in a muddy vegetable plot, she sure as shit didn't appreciate the dirty, foamy, HAIRY mess Dixon left all over her.  She started hollering and wining.  Nothing new with her attitude lately, so I powered through and got Pug rinsed and semi-dry before I plucked the next sucker into the tub.

Zelda.  I know I am partial, but that Pug is flippin' CUTE.  She is a bitch on wheels, and has eyes only for the men-folk.  Considering she was MY dog when Rob and I got together, it's a slight I am still miffed about.  Rob and I also decided, on a loooong evening fueled by Jim Beam, that Zelda...if she could speak....would have a gravelly voice, a penchant for expensive scotch and cigars, and would more than likely tell anyone who looked at her twice to "fuck off".  But she's just so damn cute.  And feisty, so I looooove her more than anything.  Well, except Rob and Cam....but she's close up there with the humans.  I mean look at this face (which incidentally ALWAYS looks like "These people STARVE me...HELP!!":

It's what has kept her alive, that and being oddly protective of Cam.  Where Dixon likes to offer a toothy reprimand, Zelda is all concern and sweetness.  Never once snapped OR growled...which she does A lot to Dixon and Murphy. 

So once I get her in the tub, she is a ball of energy of trying to get back out of the tub.  Wet and pissed, she retreats to the back corner, and is smarter than her brother.  She sits down.  Which makes it damn hard to wash her, and gives her leverage because I can barely reach her.  With a very loud sigh and snort, from Zelda, I finally get her soaped up, with Cam's siren-song of whine reaching a fever pitch.  I look over to tell Cam for the 542nd time to GET OFF THE DRAIN, KID! and she's rubbing a big old glob of H&S foam directly into her eyes.  Faced with an escape artist and screaming child, my brain does what it normally does: "we can handle both of these!" 

I grab Cam's arm and hand, and use my upper body to block Zelda's escape.  Cam won't stop rubbing her eyes, so I think "flush it out!"...which is what I did.  Cam got a full-on face of the "gentle shower" spray action, which got her attention long enough to stop rubbing.  Which is when the "my mother is murdering me" scream started.  Remember, Rob is on a con-call right outside the door.  I was able to get Zelda rinsed off, and snatched Cam up to see if her eyes had really fallen out.  And she screams louder.  Frantically she starts slapping at my hands, so I set her back in the tub, where she gives me the stink-eye and starts flapping her hands at all the Pug fur stuck to her body.  I assume the eyes are okay, hose her down again and she stops screaming.  Phew.  I realize there is no way in hell I am going to get Murphy washed, so I lock all three Pugs in the bathroom and go to get Cam dressed and down for a much needed nap.  For which the screaming starts again.  I get her down, and go down the stairs to get some water. 

There's Rob sitting at the dining table looking a bit empathetic, but more smug.  I had to go back up there and wash Murphy.  The Pug barely tolerates petting, what do you think a bath does to him?

At least the sofa is now bedecked with two clean covers, and three clean, possibly not all de-soaped, snoring Pugs.  And no, Cam is not blind. 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Okay, I asked for it.

We have dogs.  Two Pugs, to be exact.  A Pug is so dignified and awesome, that we really don't ever refer to them as "dogs".  It's almost offensive to use the "D" word in this house.  Language counts here so it's:  "Fed The Pugs lately?"  "Any Pug need to go outside?"  "PUGS!!!!  Come back here!"  "Pug, why are you so awesome, as to sleep 20 (or more) hours out of 24?!?"  "Girl Pug, if you were any cuter I'd eat you up with a spoon!"

Dixon and Zelda are 8.  Dixon is the handsome lump of black, Zelda is the cutest thing alive (counting my very own baby) and is the fawn on the right.  They seriously do THAT....All.  Day.  Long.  Only exceptions: when food is being prepared or consumed by humans (oh how they LOVE Cam then!); they HAVE to pee/poo or will explode THIS MINUTE (procrastinators have nothing on Pugs); or Mama is running the scary noise maker that will kill us all (vaccuum). 

Truth is I hated all small dogs.  One, because, well, the obvious: small.  Small, in my experience, equals yappy and snappish.  So small and yappy?  With a willingness to bite?  Fuck that.  Two, because a dog should be rough and tumble.  Like a good Retriever.  THAT'S a dog!

Then I met two Pugs.  And fell madly in love with those lovable little goofs.  Snorty, chunky, playful, curious....Pugs.  They belonged to my Division Officer and his family (my time in the Navy), so I got to know those little guys very well, and found out that Pugs aren't like small dogs....they don't yap.  They don't try to extricate the meat from your ankles.  They LOVE people, not just the humans who feed them.  Friendly, out-going, playful, tough, and cute with the bug-eyes and smooshed face.  Still the only small "dog" I like.

Seeing as how y'all probably can count, you might wonder who that third Pug is.  That is Murphy.  Once upon a time, Rob and I were foster parents.  Foster parents to wayward, cast-off, abandoned Pugs.  We fostered 20 Pugs in about 18 months, all went to loving homes.  The organization I volunteered for is fantastic.  They do their due diligence in making sure that Pugs that find their way to us go to appropriate homes, where there will be a forever connection.  Can you imagine being an animal that has been given away (or worse), go to a new home, only to be cast out again?  Right.  So if you ever come into contact with what you think is an over-zealous rescue group, we are that way for very good reason.

Anyway, back to Murphy.  Murph was our last foster.  Number 20.  He came our way right before Christmas in 2009.  I had to travel out of our county to pick him up at a shelter.  Immediately I was struck by his "perfect" Pug face.  He is a handsome, handsome Pug.  Perfect black-mask, wrinkles galore.  And save any comments you think may be funny "A face only a mother could love!" or "looks like it ran into the back of a truck!"...because I have heard them all and really?  They make me want to slap the ever-living shit out of the ignorant mouth who dares to speak it to me.  For reals.

Murphy's looks were exactly what people who love Pugs look for.  In my mind I was already seeing he would be snatched up FAST.  Then they opened the door, and the saddest, most pathetic thing happened.  This little Pug flattened himself to the floor.  I mean, if he could have melted into the floor he would have.  (We would later find out his leg bones are extremely fucked up from either living in a space he couldn't stand up in or from being scared shitless so often they didn't grow right.)  His little tail was wagging furiously, but it was missing over half it's fur.  And it wasn't at all curly like a Pug tail is supposed to be, it was more of a short, bony, slightly curved finger.  And black.  Like it was dead.  The vet tech handed me the leash, and this little Pug didn't move a muscle, except that ugly tail.  I tugged, and he slid across the floor.  It occurred to me that he didn't know what a leash was ( more often than not, most of my fosters had this problem), so I unhooked him and called him to me.  He looked like he wanted to be my friend...big pleading eyes, a nervous chuffing of his beautiful little muzzle.  He army-crawled over to me, not once lifting his belly off that floor.  No way that Pug was walking out of the shelter, so I carried him outside and put him down so he could do his business before the car ride home.  He finally stood up, and zoomed here and there with the energy of a hummingbird.  When he started to bolt I yelled and he dropped smack to the ground, shaking like a leaf.  A thought that ran through my mind on a regular basis when doing my foster work "I fucking hate people".  :(

Got the poor beast loaded up in my car, into Dixon's car seat.  Yes, my Pugs have their own car seats.  Comfy perches to watch the world go by, that also keep them hooked in and safe.  Murphy started crying, flattening himself, and generally looking like I was trying to murder him.  On the way out of the shelter I realized I got to name this little guy.  "Murphy" sprung to mind, and it stuck.

The traumatizing car ride over, Murphy's demeanor didn't improve too much once we got home and he met Dixon and Zelda.  Some curious sniffing, but he would hit the deck as soon as anyone walked within 10 feet of him.  But the tail never stopped it's frantic wag.  This went on for weeks and weeks.  He was also the only Pug I wasn't able to house train.  AT ALL.  For such a little Pug, he had an impressively large bladder and used it to soak my home.  I was used to Pugs peeing in my house, but it wasn't something I ever was able to just shrug off.  I bought stock in Nature's Miracle, and Murphy may have made those people billionaires.

Oddly, not many people expressed an interest in Murph.  Brutally honest about the house training, most people ran for the hills.  Except one.  To this day I wonder what the fuck I was thinking.  The decision actually makes it in to the top ten worst decisions I have ever made.  And so you can see it wasn't a bullshit list, one of those spots is taken up by bankruptcy and slipping out of the handcuffs while being arrested for a DUI.

My mother.  She oohed and aahed over the pitiful little Pug.  She didn't seem to give two shits that he was always in a wet doggie diaper.  My father had passed away a little over 8 months before Murphy came to live with us.  Six months after Pop died, Mom had to vacate their large house and move to a small one bedroom condo.  The big house also housed two standard Poodles.  The loves of Mom's life (she still pines for them).  Four months before I met Murphy I had to call the local Poodle rescue group and have Mom's beloved dogs re-homed.  She was devastated.  I was taking deep, satisfying breaths of relief.  I am crazy about Pugs, not so much about Poodles.  Especially the female.  That dog was straight shit-house-rat-CRAZY.  So when Mom started fawning all over this little Pug, I had a moment (or 1000) weakness.

I talked my rescue coordinator into letting Mom have him.  An ecstatic Mom handed over her check, swearing she'd follow all the advice and promising she'd love him FOREVER.  Mostly she has done what the rescue would want of it's adoptive homes.  He's well-loved, treated like a member of the family, has regular check-ups at the vet, and has an impressive wardrobe of harnesses.

What's lacking?  The Pug still pisses his pants.  And those pants are worn to my house so often, that's why the little fucker is in the photo above.  After 2.5 years, Murphy walks taller.  He is still hand-shy, but doesn't hit the deck as fiercely or as often.  We can touch his belly now, because he keeps it off the ground, mostly.  He still goes completely rigid when held.  Hates being in the car.  And loathes sitting on our laps.  He tolerates petting, but doesn't seem to enjoy it.  He loves to lay on the back of the sofa, and will occasionally pick up a toy (but then has no idea what to do with it).  He has found his "voice" FINALLY after 2 years of being with Mom.  He men.  Never women.  He still has an adorable face, which is why he is not strung up dead right now.  Mom, against ALL the advice I gave her (and really, what do I know, I only trained 19 Pugs...), and put down piddle pads.  Essentially training Murphy to piss in her house.  On frigid days, rainy days, hot days, oh fuck it...whenever Mom was too lazy to get off her ass, she'd claim Murphy just doesn't like the cold/rain/heat/sun/clouds/grass....WHATEVER.  That's fine if she wants to live with a house-pissing anxious dog.  What drives me absolutely insane is that he spends oh, at least SIXTY percent of his time at MY house.  Pretty much since Mom's surgery back in January, the little pisser has been here.

To make it more fun?  She has ordered me NOT to use the crate with Murph.  You know, the thing that keeps a pissing dog from pissing all over my house.  You can bet that she refuses to believe that a crate is actually a good place for any dog to be.  A safe haven.  A place they can truly call their own.  A restful spot that every Pug I ever fostered learned to appreciate and wander in of their own accord.  I am an idiot, so Mom ignores all of that nonsense.  Anyone want to guess how much time Murphy has been spending inside the forbidden crate? 

I sometimes joke how Cam's whining will drive me back to the bottle.  I fully mean it when I say Murphy is going to make me have to cover up that sobriety date tattooed on my back.

So really, I suppose I have 2.6 Pugs.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's been so long.

Life has been barreling down on me lately.  Mostly in good ways, but I am still struggling with my ADHD, meds, and my new favorite feeling:  anxiety! 

My mom is coming along with the new hip, but is back to drinking.  For the most part I am able to let the drinking go.  Perhaps from the anxiety and feeling overwhelmed with taking care of her and my own family, something had to give.  Trying to control in reality and thought, her actions, was just adding way too much shit on top of my normal feelings of powerlessness.  It is what it is, right?

Cam is growing like a weed.  I cannot wait until her 18 month checkup (next month) to see where she is on the growth chart.  The kid is losing the chubbiness of babyhood, and just getting taller by the minute.  She isn't talking, but she still jabbers non-stop when she's awake.  We can make out some phrases..."hi, buddy!"....but still not actual words.  Hard to explain, but I am not worried about her talking any more.  it will come.  She was released from Early Intervention this month...seems she tested at or above age in all areas.  Good to know, but I will miss seeing Cam's OT....great lady with lots of insight.

I joined a local meetup for moms about six weeks ago, and have been throwing myself into it.  I am not a joiner by nature, and normally loathe that type of setup.  Thankfully I gave it the old college try, because I have found a group of women who get my parenting and don't think I am some weird hippie for cloth diapering my kid or judging me for NOT biting Cam back when she bites me for the 10th time in a day.  We get together and have lots of play dates, swap insight into daily problems, discuss books we've read, and just relax knowing there is a roomful of mamas making sure the kids are safe and well-tended.

Two things I am so excited for: foster classes start on August 11th and we just booked a week at the ocean for September.  It's amazing what will happen to your mental health when you have a real vacation to look forward to!  I had actually been dreading the prospect of packing Cam up for a few days, screwing up her schedule, and finding a decent place to go that wouldn't break the bank. 

While I was fretting over a bunch of nonsense, it occurred to me that maybe inviting my mom would be a good idea.  I have been encouraging her to travel for the last two years, and she always makes some excuse why she can't go.  Maybe it was a weak moment, or the realization she is my last parent  Cam loves her Grammie, and let's be honest: free babysitting is nothing to sneeze at.  :D

So, I sent my mom a few links to the very few decent places at the ocean, and she came back with renting a condo in a place we used to stay when I was a kid.  Made a reservation for a 3 night stay...and then Mom says "maybe we should do a week...".  Rob hears this and starts, literally, bouncing in his chair.  I call the resort back and find out that 7 nights is CHEAPER than 3.  FANTASTIC!  Ocean front, pool and baby fun pool outside of our patio.  Quiet beach town.  I was dreading going to the ocean just a few days ago, but now I am beyond excited.  Come on September 10th!!!

I am also beyond excited for our fostering classes to start.  I have been reading every book I can get my hands on that deals with children in the system.  Right now I am reading "One Small Boat" by Kathy Harrison, who also wrote "Another Place at the Table".  Riveting accounts of the day-to-day life of a family dedicated to children who need loving, supportive, helpful homes.  As excited as I am (and Rob too), I am not getting much in the way of support from family or friends.  Thanks to the stereotypes of the shitty foster care horror stories in the news, that's all my friends and family talk about.  My favorite this week: "I know I shouldn't say this....but....I'd hate for Cam to pick up bad habits from some bratty foster kid."  Um.  Well.  Who's to say Cam won't be the one teaching bad habits?  Instead of really angering me (which is my natural fall-back emotion) it just makes me sad that there is a pervasive feeling in our society that the children of foster care are defective and some how at fault.  It's not dissuading me or bringing me down too much, it just makes me that much more motivated to get this training done and do my part.

I just received my third phone call in one hour from my mother.  She's doing well with her PT, but the pain is something she can't seem to get a handle on.  Part of me doesn't believe the pain is all that bad (I know, I am an asshole), so when the third phone call just came in a minute ago, I gritted my teeth when I answered.  "JC?  I almost gave up (the phone rang two times...) there?  I just told Conor (my 16 year old nephew) I wasn't sure if I took my pain pill (um, by the sounds of sure did...and THEN SOME) so I took another!  Can you stop at the store and get some fresh basil?  (We had this same convo three times in the last hour)  Are you bringing the baby? (yup, talked about this all three times too)  Did I ask you to bring basil?...."

All I can do is shake my head and laugh.  And I have a whole week to look forward to.  What was I thinking?  LOL

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The payoff.

It's been a rough month.  I am physically and mentally exhausted.  I would give my left arm for a week completely alone at a nice spa.  I might even throw in a couple fingers from my right hand.

To get Cam settled for her nap today, we have a seat in "The Chair", I grab her blanket, "Wubs" , and "Stanley" ( a Black Lab head with blankey body) and read some books.  I feel like I am sitting on a wad of something, turns out to be Stanley.  I pick him up and say "Hey Stan!" and give him a peck on the I have been doing for months upon months.  Cam snatches him from me and gives him her best baby kiss.  Her first kiss.  Then looks at me and smiles broadly, and snuggles Stan up under her chin and then grunted at me to keep reading.

My heart nearly exploded in delight.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

The train wreck comes to a screeching halt. Finally.

 After the Wednesday when my mom was finally told why she was still in the hospital, things didn't improve much.  Being that the lazy piece of shit social worker basically did a drive by of "you had alcoholic withdrawal, here's some info, bye" I was left to piece that puzzle back together for her.  The following day, a much better, more helpful nurse was assigned to Mom, and she told me the on-call doc would come down and talk to her. 

Before the doc showed up, however, the PA who was part of the surgical team stopped in to check out Mom's wound.  I was shocked and kind of proud that Mom drilled her on the alcoholism.  Being that NO other medical professional on that floor would speak to her about it, I was so grateful, even though she gave some bad advice about "cutting back".  Never tell an alcoholic to just cut back.  Never works.

Anyway, I love that PA because she's honest and direct and doesn't screw around.  She gave Mom the low-down:  "even if you drink one glass of wine a day, and you come in for surgery, and go into withdrawals like you did, your body is telling you it NEEDS that drink.  Your body is conditioned to needing that alcohol."
I could have kissed her straight on the lips.  It was ALL I wanted from the hospital staff.  A straight-forward explanation of what happened.  Was it so fucking hard?  Nope.  Poor PA didn't know she was going to be the addictions counselor as well as the one to sign Mom's release papers (from the surgeon).

So when the on-call doc for that floor checked in, and was supposed to be THE one to deliver the speech, he tried to get out of it.  He was in the middle of telling her she was being released when I barged in to say "Um...the alcoholic withdrawals...can we address that?!?"  His response shouldn't have been shocking:  "Um, seems you might want to look at your drinking if you went through withdrawals. I am releasing you now...."

Say what?!?  At that point I just glared at him, and made a note of his name.  I am still mulling over whether or not I should lodge a complaint against the hospital.  The bit with the social worker is what really galls me.

 After all that went down with my mother and the hospital, I would love to say it got much better when she was transitioned to a physical therapy rehab.  It did not.

The rehab she was sent to was about as grim a place as one could imagine.  Essentially a nursing home, my mother at 68 was the belle of the ball and a whipper snapper to boot.  She was in this place for 9 days, and thankfully her mood was much more calm, relaxed, and generally pleasant.  Seeing as how her roommate was in the advanced stage of Alzheimer's, I am sure Mom had a lot of time to reflect that her situation was a lot more bearable.  She had an EXCELLENT physical therapist there (and not just because she and her husband organically sustain their garden like me...and gave me a brimming bag of worm poo to spread around my tomatoes!) which was the only good thing.  Unfortunately, PT was only once a day for about an hour.  The rest was spent lying in bed listening to other residents scream, moan, cry, and whimper. 

Having to face the reality of what life could look like when Mom gets older (and the dementia sets in) and how we (as a society) have learned to keep the aging body alive, but the mind starts to go....has had a profound impact on me.  That place was like a hellish bus stop on the way to death.  Disgusting food.  Always the smell of urine and feces.  Attendants too jaded and underpaid to give a shit.  And this place?  ONE OF THE BETTER IN OUR REGION. 

So I sprung Mom over holiday weekend, and took her back to her place.  Free at last!  Got her all set up, and then went to enjoy a party with old friends. 

Mom is extremely happy to be home.  I am happy to report that she brings up the withdrawals from time to time, not really wanting to believe it, but I can tell that deep down she knows the score.  I have been able to emotionally detach, for the most part.  I got the name of an addictions counselor, so hopefully she will take the name and make an appointment.  It's all I can really do.  It's been a hellacious 3 weeks.  I am emotionally and physically drained. 

So it's a good thing tonight is Bingo Wednesday.  Game ON.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I don't feel 40, whatever that means.

I got out of the sky diving. I live for another day.  Seems my birthday and death day will not be one and the least this year. 

Rob asked me last night if I really felt like jumping.  I found it hard to articulate why, no, it did not sound appealing to me at all...when just a few years earlier I would have gone with glee.  I figured it out though: I have less incentive now to do stupid shit.  In my heart I know sky diving is safe, but not safe enough for me to chance being that freak accident that we read about in the paper.  I didn't work this hard to have Cam so I could maybe check out on her early, over an adrenaline rush.

Before you think what a great sentiment that is, let me tell you my main reason for bailing:  being stuck in that car for about 4 hours with a kid who only barely tolerates the car.  As it was, we drove about 20 minutes to get some breakfast.  Cracker Barrel, you need to move CLOSER to me.  Cam whined nearly the whole way.  Every parent hates whining.  I am a parent with overly sensitive hearing.  Noise bugs the shit out of me.  That whining puts me over the edge within seconds.  Especially when I watch her in the mirror smile and play with her toys and then start the whining the second I say a word to her.  Which begs the question?  Why do I talk to her if her response is to whine?  I wish I had the answer to that.  It would save me loads of frustration.

So no sky diving.  A pig-out at the Cracker Barrel, followed by an exciting trip to get my car washed.  My best friend gave me a gift certificate to get my toes done, so I did shuck off the whiner and her father for an hour.  Cam home to a Rob coming down the stairs saying her just got Cam down for a nap.  That in itself was a gift, as I got to relax on the sofa and thank the 86 people who wished me "Happy Birthday" on Facebook.  I thought the best gift of all would be a dear friend giving birth today (she is being induced), but the little guy refused to be evicted from his digs, so that puts his birthday tomorrow.  Babies are so selfish.  I did drag Rob and Cam out so I could get a new tattoo.  My place had no spot for me, walk-in appointments were full.  On my birthday last year I got my sobriety date done, and was going to put the AA symbol (a triangle within a circle) below it.  Might get it done on Saturday when Rob and Cam do their Saturday thing. 

To round out the day we got crabs for dinner.  Delicious, steamed crabs.  Just as we sat down, Cam tucked snug into bed, we saw the red flicker on the baby monitor.  Then heard the unmistakable sound of a furious Cam.  Willing all 16 of my readers to drop me like a hot-potato, Cam is a near-perfect sleeper.  Like goes to bed at 6:30 PM and usually sleeps until around 0830.  Nary a peep between those hours.  So, we ignored her for the first five minutes.  Elbow deep in crab innards, neither one of us was wont to move.  And honestly, it is MY birthday, no way I was abandoning my feast.  At minute 10 I started to twitch.  Still wasn't giving up my spot, but nervously wondering if I was going to HAVE to go.  A game of screaming-baby chicken.  Rob broke at around the 15 minute mark.  I scarfed down three crabs while he was gone. 

It was a good day.  Not what I envisioned my 40th to look like, but as I told Rob tonight: nothing I ever thought about what my life would look like at this point has come true.  Most of the time things are way better than I ever imagined, and other times I realize what I didn't get wasn't really that important. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

I think the best days are ahead of me.

Today is my last day in my 30's.  They have been fun, harrowing, joyful, sad, scary, somewhat peaceful, and confusing.  Things I thought were absolute have been blown to smithereens.  People I didn't think I could count on are proving otherwise.  I feel like I am on the cusp of....something, I am just hopeful it's a good something.

Last year Rob surprised me with a flying lesson.  It was fantastic.  A life's dream for me to get up in the clouds and fly, but never got the gumption to go do it myself.  Then, for shits and giggles, and because I am incredibly impulsive I got tattooed.  Again.  I chose my sobriety date, and had it inked onto my right shoulder blade.  After a brief nap we went into the big city and had a fantastic meal that will require Cam to work a little harder for financial aid.

This year I was hopeful Rob would come through.  It's been a year of sparse acknowledgements on holidays for us this year.  Being that my mom has been on my schedule and mind 24/7, I have let my birthday creep up on me without giving it much thought.  What my thought was, was a chill day of nothingness.  Perhaps a most delicious cake.  Maybe dinner out, if I can get my sister to watch Cam. 

Last night Rob told me he made reservations for sky diving.  I am still not sure what my feelings are about it.  A few years ago we had reservations to go, but it was too windy.  Instead we spent the day wandering around a cute, cozy little port town and then did dinner back in town.  I was kind of bummed that day, but I got over it pretty quickly.

Now I am to put it mildly, scared shitless.  Rob told me about it as I crawled into bed last night.  He had mentioned it a few days earlier saying we could go this weekend, and I demurred.  I told him that driving to the shore (the beaches are two hours away) was not a hot idea on Fourth of July weekend, plus, Mom will be home.  I thought he got the hint.  But oh, I forgot.  Men don't take hints.  Sigh. 

So when he kept looking at me expectantly I deflected saying "it will mess with Cam's schedule".  Him:  "Yep."  He was still smiling like a crazed person.  I tried two more tactics:  mom and the long drive with a kid who hates the car.  Not budging, still msiling.  Then he tells me he already put down a deposit.

So, my happy-ass will be shoved out of a perfectly good airplane tomorrow.  I hope I live to tell the tale.