Lately it has come to my attention that I am not at all well liked or received by members of my family, be they by birth or marriage. There has been a lot of critique about how I do things around my house, the choices I've made regarding my children's education, whether I work outside the home, how I spend the money we do have, and other assorted things along that same path. So I've decided to lay it all out there for ya. After all, no one can really know anything until you know the full story, right?
Let me start off with my schedule for this week. Keep in mind that Jason works full time 3rd shift. So that means he has to sleep at some point during the day. We have it set up that he goes to bed between 1 and 2 in the afternoon on the days he works. On the days he has off, that can be pushed back to 4 or 5 if absolutely necessary. He gets about as much sleep a day as I do, which is between 6 and 7 hours. However he has to do it while the kids are at home. He's not a heavy sleeper like I am so it can get a bit wearing. On his nights off, I have him go to bed as soon as he can and then he sleeps through the night until I go to bed around 1 in the morning. He deserves it.
This week I had Monday free, which was nice, but rather unusual. Honestly, the only day a week I get free is Sunday, and on occasions it's Saturday. Though if James gets the scholarship for the art class he wants to take, there goes Saturday mornings. Oh wait, Jason goes to donate plasma twice a week, Wed and Sat mornings. He does that to help bridge the gap with his income STILL being $1.20 less than what he was making before he was laid off almost 2 years ago. The only way he was able to get full time was to go to 3rd shift, which also meant an immediate $1 extra an hour for shift premium, or the gap would be more like $2.20 an hour. While 3rd shift sucks, it made financial sense for our family to do it that way.
This week I have nothing on Tuesday morning until 11:30 which is Jayden's tutoring. Because of the severity of her phonological disorder, she needs a specialized tutor. We get a reduced rate for her tutoring, however it still costs us $30 a week out of pocket. When dealing with a budget as tight as ours is, $30 is a lot of money. We are lucky if we get child support from my ex each week to help cover that. Tuesday afternoon James has therapy at 3. Jason has Tuesday off so after James' therapy, he'll go to bed. I may ask him to stay awake long enough for me to cook him fried chicken (something he and I have been craving) before sending him off to bed for the night until 1 or 2 in the morning (at the earliest). Keep in mind I need to drive to both of these appointments and they both last for an hour and I can not take any of the other kids with me.
In the middle of the 2 appointments we have Bette, who is a parent aide and comes once a week, at 1:30. She'll be here for an hour. She frequently spends her hour here with one on one time playing with Izzy so that I can take that time to do some housework in a different room.
On Wednesday morning at 10 we have a developmental eval for the twins. It is taking place here at home. Because of the special needs of the others, it was highly recommended that we do this, so we are, just to set minds at ease all around. Jayden again has tutoring at 11:30. Because I think the eval and the tutoring will overlap a little, I believe that Jason will have to finish up the eval while I take Jayden to tutoring. Jason will go to donate around 8:30 or 9 in the morning so he can be home in time for me to leave to take Jayden where she needs to be.
On Thursday morning Izzy has the first part of his eval done. I have to take him to the school to do it. It will easily take 2-3 hours. There will be a couple of follow up visits to the house within the next couple of weeks to watch him in his home environment. Then it will take at least a couple more weeks (if not longer) to put it all together and come to a final conclusion and diagnosis. Jason works Thursday night and will head to bed as soon as I get home from that. Usually Thursday mornings are spent at OT with Jayden and Izzy, but it was cancelled because of the eval this week. Next week we'll go back to OT for the two of them at 10, which lasts for an hour.
At noon on Friday Jayden has therapy. As part of her diagnosis it was found that she has quite a bit of depression going on. I also wanted her to work with someone who has experience with working with siblings of kids who are on the autism spectrum, as we know James is and believe Izzy to be. Therapy will last for an hour and again, I have to drive her there and can't bring any of the other kids with me. Jason works Friday night and will go to bed as soon as I get home.
On the nights that Jason works, I wake him up between 7 and 8 so he can get up and take a shower and have some dinner and spend some time with us as a family before he leaves for work shortly after 9. He gets to work about 30-40 minutes early, but he has said that it gives him time to get in to the "work frame of mind". I can appreciate that.
James will be starting OT of his own. The OT that we use is getting the authorization from the kids' insurance so they can set up his first appointment. She has a group in mind for him to come with and hopefully that time will work with our already busy schedule.
James' sensory stuff has been very out of whack lately. He isn't sleeping well, he's overly and very easily annoyed with common every day things. He finds Jayden to be extremely annoying and regularly tells her to "shut the fuck up" and that he will "kill her if she doesn't shut up already". Each time he tells Jayden to be quiet or to shut up, he loses a day of video game time. He is still expected to do his chores, however there is no reward for the day. Jayden processes by talking her way through it and it isn't fair to her to expect her to be quiet for the sake of James. Unfortunately, he will have plenty of times in his life where the stimuli around him will annoy him and he needs to learn to cope. Learning to cope with his little sister talking seems like a good place to start. OT will hopefully help him figure that out.
Are you tired yet looking at my schedule for the week? In what I see as an ironic twist, this week is relatively calm. Next week has even more in it, and the kids' therapies haven't been scheduled yet. Add in a med check with the psychologist, therapy for me, and the unscheduled as of yet therapy for the kids and it's just chock full. Throw in the occasional check up for one of the kids with their regular ped or a doc check up for me and it's almost insane.
Are you looking at it and wondering when I get a chance to run errands? I fit what I can in when I am already out for appointments for the kids. If I need to bring a kid that isn't the appointment, like needing someone to try on shoes or clothes or get glasses fit, I make a trip home and trade out kids. I try to set aside a morning to go grocery shopping on my own. I have Jason pick up things while he's at work already, like milk and bread and dish and laundry soaps.
Our afternoons are spent mostly at home. That doesn't mean we sit around and do nothing, sadly that is far from the truth. We have 2 case managers that come at least once a month. There is also the weekly parent aide. We are looking in to being able to get a cleaning aide to come 2-3 times a week to help me keep up on the housework. I know that our aides will increase once Izzy is in the specialized program.
What? I need help with the housework? Don't I have ALL afternoon to dedicate to that? Yes, and no. With the way the house is laid out, doing any work in the kitchen is very disturbing to Jason, who is trying to sleep in the very room attached to the kitchen, so dishes are out. It's why I wake him BEFORE I start cooking dinner each night. I don't usually cook during the day. That doesn't mean that the kids don't eat, it just means I'm not making hot meals for them. The older ones know how to use the microwave and are allowed in the kitchen one at a time to make their meals. The one at a time rule keeps arguments and the noise level down. Did I mention that Jason usually sleeps with ear plugs in?
Jack and Abbey still, thankfully, nap in the middle of the afternoon. While they do that, I have the kids help me pick up the living and dining rooms. Sadly, almost as soon as it is cleaned up, Izzy comes along and takes things back out and throws them all over. It's not unheard of for him to take things from downstairs and throw them around upstairs or vice versa. Izzy has no real concept of "play" and how to interact with things. He also has no patience to sit there to learn. I can take some time in the afternoon to work with him, but it's not enough unfortunately. It's another reason why I feel a specialized program is the right fit for him.
Oh, and Izzy is almost completely non-verbal. Meaning he has about 3 words he says, but only when he REALLY wants them. His signs that he knows are mostly used only after prompting. A lot of his time is spent crying and throwing tantrums because he simply can't make himself understood or he wants to do things that we stop him from doing, like taking all of the books off of the shelves or throwing things out the window. We had to box up all of the DVD's and get them out of the living room because he would constantly throw them around the downstairs. It seems that the more noise it makes while he does it, the more he enjoys it. He loves to throw his rescue heros across the dining room table simply because they are hard plastic and it's a wood table. It's things like this that also keep Jason from sleeping well.
Jack and Abbey are now at the age where they are not happy being contained in their pack n play or crib. They don't spend a majority of their day sleeping. They want to be out crawling and walking (which Jack is getting better at every day) around. We block off the doorway to the front hallway and the doorway that leads to the back part of the house and let them have free range roam over the living and dining rooms. This requires direct supervision by me. It means I can't be off cleaning the office or using the computer (even to do ChaCha which earns us some extra money) or in the kitchen cleaning or even taking laundry to the basement. It requires that we keep the living and dining room floors very picked up and clean. They have started climbing and have discovered how to get to the books on the shelf and love to take them out and throw them around. Climbing on the tuner and changing it from what is on is fun for them because it gets a reaction out of everyone in the room. We already have the windows usually closed because of Izzy, but with them crawling around also means that fans are not going. Unless we have the individual a/c units in the windows (and it's getting too chilly to do that) it is very stifling in these rooms because of the lack of air flow.
Aside from Jayden's tutoring and the shows that I have the kids watch on Netflix, we aren't doing any schooling right now. The shows they watch are History Channel specials and things like Mythbusters and Extreme Engineering. Jayden has taken a liking to Sid the Science Kid and the one with the reading team kids, I can't think of the name. We will start "normal" schooling once Izzy starts school. With him gone for a good chunk of the day, we'll be able to spend our afternoons with fewer distractions and interruptions from the work at hand. I'm already working out history and geography lessons, how I want to teach them both so it's at their individual level and yet doing the teaching at the same time. I've started prepping James so he knows that part of his reading time will be spent either reading to Jayden, or having her work on reading to him. I'm developing the best way to teach spelling and handwriting without it being a fight. I know James' focus in math this year will be multiplication, division, and fractions. Jayden will work on addition and subtraction. I want to use life lessons that teach science and math and reading, but I also want to do specific science experiments and work on the scientific process. I think we'll focus on natural science, but also touch on chemical science with chemical reactions like Mentos and Diet Coke. This will be the first year that James will be expected to complete a book report. They will both be working on their creative writing skills. They are anxious to learn and to a point, I'm going to let them lead the way. I'll offer the topics and see where they can go with it.
Izzy really likes Blues Clues and has learned to say clue. He interacts with the program. I am uncomfortable having the t.v. on all of the time. Unfortunately, Izzy has gotten destructive to the point that if we don't keep him directly occupied with either a movie or t.v show he really likes or direct interaction with an adult, he "entertains" himself by tossing, throwing, and destroying anything he can get his hands on. This especially includes throwing things at the twins and he has a pretty accurate aim.
Because of the things that have been said, it has greatly affected how Jason and I are planning to spend our holidays. Things that we would normally do, like host Thanksgiving dinner, just are not going to happen this year. Jason will probably have to work that night and I'll probably go to my mom's. At least at her place, while she may not understand the why's and how's of everything we do, she is always supportive and caring. She and I may have our differences, but I know that when it boils down to it my mom is ALWAYS there and it's NEVER conditional, even if she doesn't like who I'm married to, and I know that first hand from my previous marriage.
Our lives may not be ideal by anyone's standards. They may not fit the mold that was set out in front of us as to how it's "supposed" to go, but it is OUR life. We are doing the absolute best that we can with what we are handed on a daily basis. It would seem that would be the best that you could hope for, but it seems to not be enough. I guess the part that pisses me off the most is the fact that it upsets me that so many negative things have been said about me and it actually does bother me. It reinforces the faults that I already see within myself and the people doing the saying have no first hand knowledge of what it's like to be here, where Jason and I are, living our lives on a day to day basis.
I think I have covered it all from A-Z. I am certain I've stirred a pot, but honestly, it's beyond the point of making a difference any more.
Prayers and blessings everyone, even to those that don't like me.