Wednesday, May 20, 2009

This Thing We Call Recession...

As I was checking the blogs that I read daily, I came across a post that really struck home. It was a post about the recession and all the people that are affected. Usually I skip over posts like that, because I've been there first hand many times and don't really need to be reminded of how the economy is.
I've been a stat-at-home mom for most of the time that I've had kids. We agreed early on that if I wanted to work, I could, and if I didn't that was ok too. I've had a handful of jobs. I worked as a nurses aide when James was little. I worked as a temp, and then at McDonald's when Gabe was 2-4yrs on and off. We bought a house in 2002 when Gabe was about 1 1/2. The following summer, Mike quit his job of 9yrs for a better paying one. That lasted almost 2 months, just a few days shy of his probationary period being up, they canned him. Thankfully he qualified for unemployment.
It was a bad time for us, Caleb had just been diagnosed with autism the spring/summer before. We had just bought a house. If it hadn't been for the twins qualifying for SSI for their disabilities, we'd have gone under then for sure. He lost his job Aug 20, 2003. He didn't work again until Feb 12, 2006. 18 months. November of 2003 I started working full time at McD's to try and help us make bills. The kids' SSI wasn't enough to cover even most of the bills. It covered the mortgage, and sometimes the utilities and some of the groceries. It didn't cover gas, phone, clothes, or any of the other bills that were in collection. Unemployment was only bringing in about $180 a week. After gas and whatever little groceries, diapers, and odds and ends, there wasn't much of anything left. McD's was a paycheck of $200 every 2 weeks. It was a crappy job, but it was better than having nothing.
The day that he found out for sure that he would be working at Tyson, and when he would start, I QUIT! There was no way that we'd be able to cover day care for 3 special needs kids plus James for 3rd shift (both of us were going to be working 3rd), much less cover gas and everything we'd need for 2 jobs. Plus, his pay would be double mine, WEEKLY! The only really big problem now was that we had gotten so far behind on payments on all the bills that we had to catch up on them. We'd had to rob one bill to pay another quite a few times, trying to make sure that the mortgage was always paid first, and trying to make sure that it was paid in full. Juggling payments so that we didn't get the electric shut off, or the phone, or lose the van. We missed 1 payment on the mortgage, because of the van breaking down. So when we paid the next month, we included 1/2 the past due with it. And the next month, and the next. It became a vicious cycle, not being able to pay in full each month. And then the recession hit, which made it worse. The mortgage company wanted all the payment and all the late fees, NOW, instead of letting us work things out. In retrospect, it was a blessing in disguise. We really couldn't afford the house, nor did we have the money to fix it. The city was nailing us left and right for fines for not painting, needing a new roof, taxes not caught up, garage needing to be fixed. So we tried to give back (quit claim deed) the house. But they wouldn't let us. So we told them that we were moving out, come take the house (Oct-Nov of 2007), they waited till Jan of 2008 to file for foreclosure. It was final in May 2008. Our finances aren't a whole lot better, but they are getting there. The big thing that sucks is, even if they get better we still won't be able to get a house loan for at least 3 yrs from the final date of foreclosure.
I know this was pretty long winded, but all that aside, I want to tell anyone reading that it does get better. You will make it, just like we did. It may get tight, and you may have to go without some things, but it can be done. Make it an adventure, learn new things to do that don't cost money. Do local things and things that give back to the community. Most of all, be happy and content with who and what you have.
To read the post that got me thinking, go to
I'm sure Catherine will be happy to hear from you!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Weekend Hasn't Been Too Bad

The weekend wasn't too bad. Friday ended well, with their SSI stimulus payments coming, so I was able to go get the part for the dryer. Mike got the dryer put together and working again. We also did some shopping at Walmart. Saturday we did the rest of the grocery shopping, went to Adrian's birthday party (2yrs old!), picked up a new lawn mower since the old one broke, and I took all the heavy winter blankets and quilts to the laundromat to get them done quicker.
In 2 hours I did 4 trash bags full of blankets and quilts (enough to fill 5 of the "50 lb" washers) and dried and folded them.
Pretty much same old same old. Gabe's been unusually whiny/pouty/clingy the last few days. It seems like he's getting his feelings hurt really easily, like something major is bugging him. Just can't put my finger on it. Tonight he was crying because, "dad told me sit down!", which normally he just laughs at and ignores. It seems like this time of year is a bad time for him in general. Spring and Fall, kind of like with Bi-Polar flare ups. At first I thought that the whole fall thing was because of school and his total aversion to it, but if that's the case, then it shouldn't bother him to the same extent because of being home.
I'm trying to figure a way of helping him to sleep easier (and me!), we've done benadryl for years, and really it seems that he builds up a resistance to it. It used to be that we only did it on school nights, and didn't on weekends or during breaks. But even then, by summer break, it wouldn't seem to be working at all. Now we only do it if he's had a particularly horrible nights sleep the night before and has had a really bad day on top of it.
Last night we tried melatonin on him. That was fun, NOT! I tried to crush it and put it in his juice, but he saw it and wouldn't drink the juice. So I reverted to sticking it waaaaay far back in his mouth so he HAD to swallow it. He was out in about a 1/2 hr, but I'm not sure if it was the melatonin or the fight he put up against sleep finally being lost. I put him back in the chair when he came in our room (3x last night, usually only 1-2x), but finally gave up when he came back about 4am and just let him sleep in our room. Then he slept in till 1030 this morning! Poor thing must have been really tired to sleep that late.
He's currently sitting/laying in the recliner 1/2 out (10pm here!), as I am typing this and sitting here while the boys settle in and get to bed. He's been all out of sorts today and I'm wondering if it's related to the melatonin from last night. Another thing to look up tonight.
Thats all for now, need to play musical chairs and check on the other kids.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Long Week...

I just don't know some days how to keep going. Things haven't been the best in the last few months, but then again, compared to last year they are not near as bad as they were. How do those of you with more than one ASD kids do it? Caleb was dx'd PDD-NOS at 2y9m, and ADHD at 5y7m. Gabe was 5y7m when he was dx'd PDD-NOS, and 6y1m when dx'd Mild MR and a host of other things. Some days are so bad meltdown wise that I wish I didn't even get out of bed. Caleb is a screamer, and since starting school has learned some colorful vocab that he likes to share with anyone that ticks him off. Gabe repeats everything and I do mean EVERY thing that he hears others say. Both are hitters, punchers, hair-pullers. Caleb used to be a headbanger, and Gabe still is when upset.

It's hard enough with one kid doing this all the time, but when they both get going, I may as well pull my own hair out and go bang my own head against a wall. I've run the gamut of responses from other people, the whole "he just needs a good a** warming" being at the top of most peoples lists as to how to fix the problems.

The biggest thing we fight about right now is Gabe and his not sleeping. He is up most nights till 1130 or later, and always -- no matter what time he goes to sleep -- is awake and climbing into our bed by 3-4 am. I've done everything I know to get him into his own bed, to no avail. He starts out the night in his bed (I sit with the boys till they fall asleep or else no one gets to sleep), usually wakes up about midnight or so, and comes down and sits with me while I check email, falls asleep in the recliner. Then wakes again about 3 am, and comes in by us. Hubby leaves for work about 430 am or so, and Gabe sleeps thru till about 830-9 am (thank god for homeschooling, because in public school he had to be up by 6 to get there in time which really wasnt a good thing for him if he had a bad night!). If he has to get woken up earlier than that he is VERY grouchy and not happy for the rest of the day. He has always slept like that though, and naps when he was a baby were horrible. 20-30 minute naps and he woke whenever put down.

Caleb is not the best sleeper either, but he is waaaaayyyyy farther than Gabe, he has a hard time falling asleep, but once asleep he is down for the count till at least 6-7am(assuming that he's asleep by 1030 or so). As I'm typing this, Caleb is settling in bed, the other kids (besides Gabe) are sleeping, and Gabe is crying because he doesn't want to sleep in his bed. I know that part of the problem is that Gabe isn't functioning at *age* level, and doesn't understand some of the things expected of him. But that doesn't make it any easier.

I keep wondering what his future will hold and if I'll be able to handle either one of them when they get older. Gabe is the same size as Caleb even though they are 2 yrs apart, and when angry (or scared) is very strong. He's already started being aggressive (with the other kids and sometimes me) when he feels threatened. It just scares me to think of what might happen when he's older.
He's never been close to his dad, even when I was working and dad was stay at home. Neither was Caleb. But now, he always says for me to make dad go to work, and asks why dad doesn't like him or hurts his feelings or whatever the flavor of the day is. I keep telling him that dad does like him, but he's tired after a long day of work and doesn't want to be yelled at (Gabe has a naturally LOUD voice, almost yelling alllllll the time). He has been telling dad "you dont make the rules, mom does" and "you go away" and of course the all time favorite "you hate me". When he was in public school, he learned the phrase "go to jail", so he also likes to tell dad "you're mean, go to jail" and "I'll call the cops on you". I've corrected him that yes dad does make rules, no dad doesn't hate you, it's not nice to say, etc. But nothing seems to change what he says/thinks about dad. Dad doesn't go out of his way to push his authority on Gabe (at least not as of late), he leaves that to me.

I just don't know sometimes though, he's done so much better since he's been out of public school, but I'm not sure that the trade off is worth it at this point. I'm glad that he's happier at home, and that he's learning so much better here than he was there, but sometimes I wonder if I made the right choice in bringing him home.

Homeschooling is going well, we are getting better with letters and numbers. Now just figuring out how to teach him to read! That's a challenge, because while we are finally past the rejection of all things school related (due to some major issues with things at the public school). he is still very resistant to actively learning anything.

I think the thing that burned my a** the most about his school placement was that they told me flat out that it wasn't about catching him up to grade level, it was about putting him with kids his age.
Some days I wonder what it would be like to have kids without all the issues, and be able to go out and enjoy myself without calling every 1/2 hr while gone to make sure that everyone is ok and not killing each other. At this point, IF I could find a good decent placement for Gabe, I think I might just jump at it. Even though it would be hard for both of us to adjust, and he would probably hate me for it for a while. It hurts to say it but sometimes it just doesn't seem worth it to keep working so hard and pushing to get him to learn. I hate listening to him cry and say that he hates school, but I also hate having to force him to sit and do work with me. At least at school, THEY have to do that, it's not me having to go over and over and over the same things day after day and wonder what's going to stick.

Anyone else feeling this way? I want him to learn, but does it HAVE to be a constant battle?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This Week So Far...

Things have been steady around here for the last couple days. Still tackling laundry, doing school, and keeping (or trying to!) the house straight. This will be the first set of birthdays that my baby sis has missed since the kids were born. Weird that I just now thought of that today.
One good thing today, Mike finally got his unemployment check for last month when he was off for that week. It came just in time, we are down to our last couple of rolls of TP, lol. Hoping that the Soc Sec Stimulus payments come soon, that way we can do something for the kids' birthdays and not have to wait till the end of the month.
In the last 2 days, I've washed 9 loads of laundry, and hung 7, still have 1 going in the washer, and 1 in the dryer waiting to get hung.

I just started following a new blog -
and got some bad news when I checked it today. Little Kayleigh has earned her angel wings after a courageous fight for her short life. She would have been a year old next month. So sad, please visit her site and let her family know that we are remembering her.
Not much else to post, just life as usual around here. Oh, except for one thing, Gabe had his 6mo checkup at the dentist. 2 loose teeth, 1 loose cap/tooth, and NO More Spacer!! No cavities either!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Packing, Soc Sec Stimulus and Birthdays....

Been keeping busy this weekend. Rearranged the front room because we got Grandma's old recliners (she got new ones!), and we needed to make room for them. We've been planning on getting rid of the couches before the move, so this was the perfect opportunity. They're sitting in the garage now, waiting. Took down the bookshelf that has been slowly falling apart. Boxed a lot of books and knick-nacks that we won't be needing before the move.
I've been going thru the kids' clothes and mine to get rid of things that don't fit or are ripped up. If things are decent enough I'll put them in a rummage sale before we move. Otherwise they will be trashed and whatever doesn't sell will go to goodwill.
We're getting rid of a bunch of games that the kids no longer play with, and some movies that we never watch anymore. Little things everyday to get things moving in the right direction before the move so that we're not trying to run around like crazy moving everything in just 1 or 2 days. The last time we moved, we took 3 days, and on the 4th day we cleaned things up at the old place, making sure that we had it locked up and all that. This time I want to be more prepared than that.
Still waiting to hear from the landlord on the new place, I did talk to him Wednesday, and he told me he was looking into some options and that he had another meeting on Friday. So hopefully he calls us on Monday or Tuesday.

On another note, I'm really happy that they are doing this stimulus thing for the people on SSI and Social Security. I know that it's going to help a lot of people, including us. Some people have already gotten theirs, and the rest will be staggered throughout the month of May.

And, we have a bunch of birthdays this month! Adrian will be 2 on the 16th, his mom will be 24 on the 29th, Caleb and Caitlin will be 10 on the 30th, and my nephew Daniel will be 9 on the 31st! That's a LOT of cake! Usually Jaime makes cakes and such for the birthdays, but she's got a lot going on right now, with some personal issues at home. So we'll see about that, maybe we'll just wait till the next weekend after their birthday to do something like we did last year.
Guess that's all for now, need to go chase kids and give baths and all that jazz.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Is It Really Wednesday Already??

It's been raining on and off all day, making for a great amount of cabin fever. Not hard rain, at least not til about 5ish, mostly just sprinkles. But just as we sat down to dinner, the sky opened up with a huge deluge!
Gabe wrote his name all by himself without any help or prompting from me today! Talk about a big step from the "I hate school" kid, and hopefully a good start for him to actually start writing words soon.
The other kids had a good day, and Caleb's pumpkin plant has 3 leaves now. It's grown probably another 1/2 inch or so since we planted it this weekend.
Got a call from Adrian's mom, freaking out, because he fell down the stairs(carpeted thankfully) and landed on a toy truck. So now he has his first black eye! And then when they went grocery shopping today, he got his arm 1/2 stuck in part of the cart and now has a nice long scratch down the side of it. Go figure that he gets all this the week before his birthday party! I can't believe that he's gonna be 2 already, seems like just the other day that he came home from the hospital.
Hoping to get him something little for his birthday and maybe have my sis make him a little cake.
Not much else going on here, just trying to stay caught up with Mount Laundry and keep hanging clothes to dry.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Trying To Catch Up!

Things have been busy around here still. The weather has been good and bad, warm and cold, and is wreaking havoc on Caleb's asthma. Gabe has been having some rough nights and some days, with frequent waking and accidents again. It's more of the one step forward two steps back kind of dance. All in all we are all doing fairly well, not overly sick or anything.
The dryer is still broken, so we are still hanging clothes. We are still waiting on news about our apps for the house we looked at. Mike is back to work full time and is even getting some Saturday work. We did finally get the van window replaced, to the tune of $100. But that still beats paying the $500 deductible.
School is hit or miss some days as far as getting actual written work done. But we always manage to get something read or looked up on the computer, and we are picking 1 thing a day that they want to learn more about and at least getting that accomplished. It takes some of the pressure off, because with it getting nicer out, they want to go to the park and be outside more. It gives us a chance to learn about things that we see or hear outside, or about the plants that we see coming up. We currently have our own plants that the kids are helping with as part of their schooling. That's another thing that is so awesome as of late with how the kids are learning.
Caleb found a pumpkin seed in Nintendo's (the bird!) dish. Neither Mike or I thought that it would grow, but we told him if he wanted to try and plant it he could. Imagine our surprise when a few days later it was already growing and had 2 leaves!! It is now 2 weeks later and the plant is like 2-3 inches tall and has been transplanted outside to its own box. He waters it every other day, and checks it daily to make sure that no critters got to it.
The younger 3 also each got a cactus when we went to Lowe's, they are called "Moon Cactus" and they only get about 5-6 inches tall, which makes them quite manageable. They came in very small pots, and we will be transplanting them soon. The plants are proving very useful in teaching Gabe especially how plants grow and how much water, sun, and nutrients they need. Gabe's learning how often the cacti need to be watered, and when to move them, how not to touch them and all that.
I've been trying to pack things that we aren't using and get rid of things that are too small or won't fit anyone within the next year or so. Just generally de-cluttering and de-junking the house. It's been kind of crazy most days, which makes it that much harder to get on the computer and post.
Hope to post more, not guaranteeing anything though!