Sunday, January 30, 2011

Uncle M's new girlfriend..

So today, I let my bleeding heart get the best of me.  AGAIN!  You see, Uncle M's family was down this weekend.  We had a wonderful time!  We celebrated the Drama Queen's birthday.  I got my hair cut, and dyed by Uncle M's brilliant hairdresser sister.  My older brother and his girlfriend came to the party, and it was very nice to meet her.  She is a very friendly and nice/intelligent person, and her children seem to be great kids.  I was able to enjoy having most of my friends/family together in one place smiling, laughing, and truly enjoying each other's company. 

This morning, Uncle M was cooking breakfast, I was going behind him and cleaning as he cooked, as he is the messiest (but a very good) cook!  His sister was in the kitchen, and she was looking out the sliding glass door at the back yard, and commented that there was a cat out there.  I said "Oh the gray one?"  She said "yeah".  I said "Oh good, I haven't seen that cat since KitN died.  I'm glad to know that it wasn't poisoned as well as KitN."  Uncle M peeked outside and said "No, it's not the same cat."  So I look outside.  There sits a gray calico with flecks of gold and white all over it's body.  It is clearly a baby, very small and petite, I would say less than 3 months old.  It sits there, meowing, and staring at me with those green eyes that just pierce your soul.  I immediately got the cat food left in my cupboard from Kit, and took it out to feed the poor little thing.  It ran into the garage.  Kit used to sleep in there, and we never lowered the garage door all the way to the ground, after Kit died.  I had asked M to fix the lock so we could start shutting it all the way, but he just hasn't ever had time to get around to it.  So this kitty found a safe place to hide in my garage, and seemed to be a little scared of us at first. 

This cat was hiding at in the garage, mewling.  M's sister and I called it, and it wouldn't come out.  So M's sister and I put the food on the ground outside the garage door, and ended up coming back into the house.  The kitty didn't come out, but began to devour the food as if she hadn't eaten in days.  We put a bowl of food and a dish of water out for her.  I tried to go back to work cleaning the kitchen, and we all sat down and ate breakfast.  After breakfast Uncle M went outside and brought the kitten into the house.  Uncle M's niece and nephew snuggled the kitty, and the longer we associated with her, the more she warmed up to us.  The entire time I kept thinking of how odd it was for this kitty to find us just two weeks after we buried my outdoor cat.  I couldn't help but think about how my neon "Keeper of the Strays" sign must be flashing in some sort of kitty language.  How did this sweet little lady survive all alone, and how did she find us?

We went about our afternoon.  Uncle M's family left to head back home, then Uncle M and I joined my parents at the skating rink for a birthday party for my nephew and niece.  Mom and dad had picked the girls up and taken them ahead of us so that Uncle M and I could see the his family off.  I fell at the skating rink.  Right on my butt.  I didn't want to get on skates, but my little brother picked at me to do it.  I am such a klutz.  I fell years ago skating and broke my tailbone.  I've been icing it since we got home, and taking ibuprofen, praying that I didn't re-fracture my tailbone again.  I shouldn't have been on skates.  When will I learn. 

When we got home, I checked on the kitten.  She was still slumming it in my garage.  I tried to come back in the house and forget about her, thinking she would be gone any time soon.  But she just wouldn't leave.  The longer I sat and thought about it.  I worried that this kitty would be poisioned just like my Kittle Bit.  So I talked to Uncle M, and asked him what he thought we should do.  Now, I have a sweet, loving little cat girl in my house.  We bathed her, but she is still stinky.  I haven't a clue how old she is.  So I can't worm her.  We are going to try and get her to the vet sometime this next week to see if she has worms, how healthy she is, how old she is, etc.  Uncle M wants to call her Gar-girl (wanted to call her Gargoyle, but I told him that he couldn't cause it's a SHE).  He then joked around about calling her DQ (Drama Queen, after our own beloved drama queen) because she couldn't stand to be alone, and when left outside by herself, she would cry and meow.  She is a very vocal little calico.  I laughed.  DQ seemed to fit her so perfectly.  Uncle M said "if it's a boy, it's Gargoyle, girl then we will call her DQ.  Almost all calico cats are girls...  so we have been calling her DQ. 

She is in the basement with Uncle M right now.  He's watching fooseball, and she's curled up on his lap purring contentedly asleep.  She seems to LOVE people.  She lets the Vampire pick her up and carry her around.  She didn't try to use the claws on us during the bath, it felt like she knew we were trying to help her, and she was willing to be dunked in the sink to be in the warm house and have our love.  She makes a funny little mewling sound when she is eating.  Has quite a bit of personality.  Baata isn't thrilled about her existance, and has been upstairs with me snuggling me.  Hobie is so very curious, and afraid of her.  She gets her fur up on end, and hisses and he tucks his tail between his legs and runs.  He's such a big sweet baby.   I think that after they have been given some adjustment time, they will be fine together.  She tolerates the children so well, I can't see how she couldn't warm up to my sweet baby bear, Hobie.

So it looks like God couldn't stand to see me with only two animals.  He sent this wayward little stray into my life.  Kit never would have let her into the back yard, and would have picked on her.  He was a bully.  I still miss him, but everything happens for a reason, and my gut feeling was that I couldn't leave this little lady outside to be hurt like my Kittle Bit was.  So she has a warm home now.  We will see where this goes from here.  She can't stand to be alone, so I wonder how much sleep Uncle M and I will get tonight.  I fear she will be like a new puppy who whines all night long when left in a cage.  I am half wondering if he will opt to sleep downstairs with his new girlfriend.  Still wish I would have trusted my gut instinct on not wearing roller skates today, and on bringing Kit inside two weeks ago, but at least I have listened to my gut today, and I know this sweet, mouthy little girl is warm, safe, and has a very full belly.

Aunt TT

Friday, January 28, 2011

If I didn't have kids...

I had dinner with one of my best friends tonight.  This is a woman who never ceases to amaze me.  She has overcome every obstacle I have seen her face with such grace.  The obstacles she faces aren't anything easy either.  She has a disability, and she is a single parent of three children.  She is one of the best moms I have had the pleasure of meeting, and I strive to be like her in some of my parenting skills.

This friend of mine said something to me tonight when we were talking.  You see the love of her life lives 15 hours away.  He has for years.  She misses him dearly.  They were teenage sweethearts, and she longs to be with him every day.  She doesn't let this hole in her heart stop her from living her life, though.  She knows that if she is patient, that they will be able to be together some day soon.  She announced a month or two ago, that she is going to be moving to be with him.  So we talked about this move a lot over dinner tonight.  She is apprehensive of it, just because she will be alone, without her core of support.  She will have to find child care, a whole new circle of friends, new school, new job.  It is a lot all at once.  I said something along the lines of  "Yeah, the whole move is that much harder with kids"  She responded "If I didn't have kids, I would all ready be gone."  I could see how much she loved her children and her boyfriend in that moment.

I could also see what an incredible mom she is.  You see my sister ditched her three children and ran off with a guy she just thought she was in love with.  My friend, has been through years of a long distance relationship because she won't leave to be with him until she is sure everything is squared around for her three young children.  I see the vast differences between my sister and this woman I would be proud to call my sister in this one simple statement.  "If I didn't have kids, I would all ready be gone."  But she stays.  She resists the sadness of being without the love of her life, to be with the three beings she gave birth to.  I know in my heart she would have it no other way.  The kids are her life, and she does everything for them.  I commend her.

My sister on the other hand texted me yesterday.  It was simple, "Hey tell the girls i said i love them and miss them so much and hope they are okay thank you Jessy".  I couldn't bring myself to respond.  I didn't know what to say.  I wanted to type (in all caps) of course they are OK!!!  What makes you think they wouldn't be?  You dropped them in my lap, and I have done everything to take darn good care of them.  I talked to my mom about the text messages.  Mom said that Z-Man's therapist said that the messages are to ease my sister's guilt.  They aren't for any benefit of the kids, but for my sister's own personal benefit, so she can say that she tried to contact her children.  I tend to believe this is true, and knowing this, I don't let it bother me when I see her name or a strange number come across on my phone as a text. I have made it this far.  I won't let one silly little text rattle me now. 

Aunt TT

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Changes on the horizon

The Vampire has been accepted to the daycare that we have been trying to get her into for awhile.  After speaking in depth to the therapist and Uncle M, we have decided to give organized daycare a try again.  After asking the Vampire what she wants to do, she answered me without a doubt that she wants to go to the "school" instead of staying with the sitter.  The daycare is 30 bucks more a week than what the sitter charges us.  To all of my friends who have assured me that their children stayed at home and didn't need the organized daycare to be bright and well adjusted, I have no doubts that you are right.  My main beef with paying this woman 120.00 per week to watch my child... is simply, she does the same thing I could be doing with her at home.  I can't stand to pay someone to do a job that I could... should be doing.  If I am going to give someone that much of my hard earned salary...  I want to know that they are providing this being that I adore with good nutrition, healthy and fun exercise, arts and crafts, musical education, and healthy interaction with their peers. 

I have not made this decision lightly.  We have done a lot of talking and thinking about the entire situation.  We are going to talk to the sitter and let her know that we will stick with her for another week, but after that we would like to try this daycare out.  We hope that she doesn't take offense to this, and will allow us to come back to her IF this daycare doesn't work out.  If not, I guess we will just have to deal with the consequences.  I pray that this will not be another situation where I will be called daily to pick her up from school for biting, until again, she is expelled from daycare.  I am glad that the Vampire will be out of the smoking environment.  Although the ear, nose, throat doctor said her ears look great, and the tubes are still in, I really cringe at any more exposure she has to smoke.  I have wondered if children can become addicted to nicotine at an early age when they are around adults who smoke...

I have lost faith in the "system"  I still have not heard back from Head Start to get her in half a day, and leave her at the sitters half a day, and if we let this opportunity slide....  it could be a long while before we are able to try it again.  I have never been much of a decision maker.  I limit my wardrobe to a few basic simple pieces, because when I open the closet and see gobs of clothes, I get overwhelmed with the selection.  Now, I am a bit overwhelmed with the daycare situation, and rely on Uncle M, and the therapist's unanimous agreement that we need to try the daycare setting.  I hope and pray I have made the right decision.  Only time will tell. 

This weekend is the Drama Queen's birthday party.  We have a few things left to do to prepare for it, but can not wait to share this special day with her.  She will be receiving piano lessons for a birthday gift.  I'm all about giving a kid minimal toys, and a whole lot of things that they can treasure their entire life.  Piano might not be her thing, but I can at least help her nurture a love of music, if that is what she wants.  When the Vampire is old enough, I will offer her the same things, but for now, she will just have to be content with dance class, the one thing she is old enough to do.  Uncle M's twin sister (my hairdresser) will be down this weekend, and I will be able to get my shaggy mop trimmed up, and am hoping she can fix the botched "I want bangs" moment that I pulled right before Christmas.  

Work has been kind of crazy lately.  It is just a tough time of year for me with my job.  I think I am finally caught up on everything I was behind on from my two day hiatus.  Tomorrow I will finish wrapping things up and be back on track.  Then I won't be staying over at work every evening trying to get things caught up.  I was very late to therapy today b/c I was trying to get things to a point that I could leave for the day.  I don't want that to be habit.  I will keep you all up to date on what happens with the switch to the new daycare.  Thank you for cheering me on in this journey, and continuing to read my ranting. 

Aunt TT

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Typical Week

I apologize for my absence from the world of blogging lately.  I have just been so very busy!  It feels like there isn't enough time in any one day.  I hear moms complain about this all the time, and used to think gosh... how is it so hard just cause they have kids, but now... I TOTALLY understand now.  Here is my typical week..

Monday up at 5:45.  Shower, dress, get girls up and moving around 6:30, and most days make it out of the house by 7:15ish.  Drop the Vampire off at her daycare/sitter, then take the Drama Queen and I to work.  I arrive there around 7:45 wait a few minutes until the building is unlocked, then we go in.  8:33, I rush DQ (Shortening Drama Queen for this) to the vehicle, and sit in the long line of other parents dropping their kids off at school around 8:45.  Usually back at work by 8:55, where I remain until 4:45, when I leave to race to the other store by 5:00 and stay there until 7:30.  By the time I get home, the girls are bathed and almost ready for bed (thanks to Uncle M!), and I get a little snuggle time with them before it's lights out.  I usually eat dinner...  at 8:00 at night, then crash as well.

Tuesday a repeat of Monday up until 5:00, where I race home, and help Uncle M get the girls ready for Dance class.  Then we spend 6:00 - 8:00 at dance class.  Once again, 8:00 at night dinner and passing out in bed.

Wednesday up at 5:45, Vampire to sitter 7:20, DQ and I to work by 7:45, then again I leave to take DQ to school, back to work at 8:55.  Then I leave AGAIN around 10:05 to take Vampire to speech therapy, and am usually back around 11:30, and am at work until 5:00.  Then I go home, and spend time with Uncle M and the girls doing dinner, cleaning the house up, and finally getting the girls to bed. 

Thursday, same routine in the AM of taking Vampire to sitter, DQ to school, I miss my lunch break at work to meet Uncle M and the girls at therapy!  Where we talk weekly to a wonderful woman who has been helping not only the girls, but Uncle M and I with child rearing issues.  We are blessed to have her in our lives.  We are usually home around 6:00 when I eat dinner, and spend a bit of time with Uncle M and the girls before it's the dreaded bedtime routine again. 

Keep in mind, every day thought the week, I am in contact with Uncle M around 2:00 to see if he will get out of work early enough to pick DQ up from school or not.  If he isn't, I have to cut out of work... again, and go get her.  I don't mind going after her, I just am absent so much from work some days, and that makes my job VERY hard.

Friday, same morning routine as the rest of the week, except sometimes my aunt is able to help me get DQ to school, and picked up from school.  This day I get out of work at 5:00 and we usually don't have a whole lot planned.  I can go home, and enjoy being with the kiddos.  Some weeks (like this weekend) we have family in from out of town, and I go home and make sure there isn't too much out of sorts (I'm a bit of a neat freak).   Some weeks, we are going out of town to visit out of town family, and the entire evening is jam packed with car riding with two small children. 

I work every 3rd Saturday, the girls in my office and I rotate, so none of us have to be here every Saturday.  I enjoy working my Saturday.  I get to catch myself back up on everything I missed out doing when I was playing taxi driver to the girls all week long.  Every other Saturday is supposed to be a visitation weekend, and I have to keep that open just in case the Redneck decides he wants to see them again.  This weekend is jam packed with out of town family and birthday parties!

Sundays I just want to be home, but some weekends we are headed back from visiting out of town family, or saying farewell to our out of town guests.  I have to prepare everything for the next week, making sure dance outfits are clean and with dance bags, backpacks are cleaned out, and ready to be filled with all the fun stuff DQ is learning in school, I have to re-pack the "diaper" bag, as the Vampire still has issues with keeping her pants/undies dry some days. 

This is all mixed in with other appointments.  Quarterly check up of the tubes in the Vampire's ears, bi-annual dentist appointments for both girls, yearly check ups / immunizations for both girls, and vision screenings for both girls.  It is easy to forget my own appointments.  I haven't been to the eye doctor in around two years now.  I keep up with the dentist as best I can, but totally missed my last appointment, as it was around the same time the Vampire was being kicked out of daycare on a daily basis.  I received a certified letter from them saying that if I miss another appointment with them, they will charge me 50 bucks for the missed appointment.  I am almost afraid to schedule another with them, and hate to even ask for the time I would need off work to do it!

Now don't get me wrong.  I am NOT complaining.  I am blessed to have Uncle M's help, don't know if I could handle all of it by myself like I did last year when we didn't see the therapists.  I'm just saying to all you other moms out there... I get it now.  I understand why you say you don't have enough hours in the day, or are so exhausted every night that you fall into bed and can't even remember falling asleep.  I understand why you get your hair cut short, and reduce your make up to foundation, powder, and mascara.  I understand why it is hard to eat healthy, and exercise.  I understand your irritation at child-less friends saying they are tired, cause you do everything they do, and then some.  I understand your thinking that I am insane at wanting to add yet another appointment to this list by putting the DQ in piano lessons...  What am I thinking!?!?  Oh that's right...  I love her, want the best for her, and will sacrifice what I have to.  Oh and if we agree to do it.. I will be at work anyway, Uncle M will be the one who has to deal with that appointment.  I hate to miss that appointment, and hearing her grow and learn to play piano...  but I've gotta do what I've gotta do!

This month has been even worse for me to make time to write because we have had a couple of birthdays in our family (including the DQ).  I still have a party coming up to throw for the DQ, and all sorts of fun things to get for it.  It is not physically exhausting but mentally.  I missed an appointment for speech therapy for the Vampire two weeks ago, and they billed me $25.00 for having missed it.  I wanted to say to them, "do you know what I do on a daily basis?!?!  I missed one appointment people!!!  I'm sorry, but at least I got out of bed, and am trying hard to hold everything together!!"  I know first hand, that it is better than some people do.

Uncle M and I went on a trip with his family last weekend, and I am behind on everything because of that.  It is something we do every year with his family, and my mom/dad keep the girls for us.  It is nice to have an adult weekend away, and know that the kids are safe and well cared for.  Uncle M and I get to enjoy just being together, and we don't have to break up kid arguments, remind the DQ that she is tattling, and should work it out with her sister instead.  It is a few nights that we don't have to put the Vampire in bed 50 times before she falls asleep, and we don't have to go though the whole bathroom routine in my tiny bathroom getting two kids ready for bed.  And it is also the weekend that I miss them so badly.  I had a tear in my eye looking in the back seat of the car seeing the DQ's Cinderella glove.  I welled up again later the next day when I discovered the Vampire's Tinkerbell sun glasses in my purse.  I looked forward to hearing their little voices on the phone before bed, and was a little sad that it was too late to call them on Saturday when I thought about it.  I was so happy to see them when I picked them up from mom and dad on Monday morning, and opted to keep the Vampire home with me after dropping the DQ off at school, because I couldn't stand to send her to the sitter on my day off, when it could be time she could be... with me.  So I am not wishing things were different, or complaining.  I just understand now.  I understand why you moms out there just keep pushing through the exhaustion, and keep giving everyone around you 150%.  It's just what you do when you love someone.

Aunt TT

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Drama Queen turns Six

Six years ago yesterday, I fell head over heels in love with a little girl.  I helped my sister push her into this world, and was one of the first few to hold her.  My sister chose to name this little girl after me and blessed her with a middle name the same as I have.  It was love at first sight, and my love has only grown since.  I have always been a part of this little girl's life.  The day she cut her own hair at age 3, my sister called me to come clean up the mess.  I did what I could with what was left, and told my sister that I would have to take her to a salon and see if they can't do more.  Poor little Drama Queen was so sad, sobbing that now she looked like a boy.  I kept telling her, don't ever touch the scissors again, unless you have an adult's permission!  She ended up cutting what was left off, though, and I always wondered if the second cut was my sweet Drama Queen or my sister's doing.  The Drama Queen had really seemed to learn her lesson off of the first cut. 

I used to pick her up from my sister and keep her for the weekend.  We would do all sorts of fun things together.  I would keep clothes for her at my house because when I got her, she always smelled like cigarette smoke from the adults in her house, and her clothes were always torn, stained, and just really trashy looking.  I was embarrassed that people may think she was my kid, and I let her look like that.  Before she chopped her own hair off... I would give her a bath, and dry her long locks, and she would fall asleep on my lap as I dried her hair.  Something about the blow dryer would just put her out.  Her hair is all grown back out now, and I have tried to get her to fall asleep by drying her hair, but the magic is gone. 

This sweet little girl lost her first tooth with me in the summer of 2010, and I had to make sure it was put safely under her pillow for the Tooth Fairy to retrieve.  I had the pleasure of watching her take ballet classes last year, and see how much she was improving from one month to the next with the dance routine.  I have her enrolled in ballet and tap this year, and have the joy of continuing to watch her grow and learn.  I am so blessed with the presence of this beautiful little girl in my life.  Yesterday was her birthday.  She turned six, and although her party won't be until next weekend, I did everything in my power to make it a very special sixth birthday.  We sang Happy Birthday to her, we called mamaw and papaw, and they sang Happy Birthday to her.  We brought cookies to school for her to share with her classmates and teacher in celebration of this very special day.  At school, she got to wear a birthday girl hat, and her name was read over the announcements wishing her a very happy birthday.  After school, we took her to dinner at Frisch's and bought her a hot fudge sundae to share with her sister.  She seemed pretty content, and is thrilled to be a big 6 year old now. 

Her biological mom texted me yesterday, to ask me to tell her happy birthday.  I couldn't bring myself to do it.  Why you ask?  I didn't want to ruin her day.  I didn't want to have her think of the fact that her mother isn't here, and that couldn't even call to say hi.  I didn't want to bring sadness into an otherwise wonderful, fun day.  We have a meeting with the therapist tonite (pending on the masses of snow we are getting I guess) and I will see what she has to say about the text, and my not telling the Drama Queen.  It has to be hard to be a six year old little girl, and not understand why mommy isn't calling you every now and then to make sure you are ok, and happy. 

The Vampire is doing fairly good with the not biting.  She did bite her sister's thumb over the weekend, which was really hard to see because we thought she was finished with those behaviors.  I have been noticing over the last few weeks, that the Vampire's hair is growing out, and I think it may be kind of curly like mine.  It is just so wild and crazy sometimes, and so hard to style/fix.  I think it may be going curly!

Uncle M loves his new job.  He really seems to be enjoying the work and the people that he works with.  I can see a difference in him at home.  He seems lighter and happier.  It has been a good change thus far.  He is home in the mornings with us now, and the girls have really enjoyed having him around while getting ready for their days.  He went out to heat up our cars the other morning, and the Vampire kept saying "where my daddy go?  where my daddy go?  where my daddy go?"  I was brushing my teeth, and was trying to get to a point where I could spit and answer her, but before I could, the Drama Queen says to the Vampire "He's my daddy too you know!!!"  That just melted my heart to bits, then I reassured them that he wasn't going anywhere just headed outside to get our vehicles warmed up before we left for the sitter/school/work.  How nice to have our little family.  Wouldn't change it for the world. 
Aunt TT

Thursday, January 13, 2011

In memory of Kit N

On 1-12-11, at a quarter till 6:00, my big orange tom cat, Kit N died.  Uncle M, the girls and I were eating dinner.  You have to understand the layout of my dining room/kitchen to get a good picture of this in your mind.  It is one large room, and my dining room table sits in front of double sliding glass doors.  Kit N would hang out on the back porch just beyond the sliding glass doors.  He was hanging out there just like any other night, and Uncle M looked up and said "what is that cat doing?"  I looked, and he was laying on the ground, seizing.  I jumped up and grabbed my shoes.  Uncle M ran out in his socks and grabbed him.  By the time we carried him into the house, into the bathroom and shut the door, he was dead.  Uncle M tried to force air into his lungs, and we did chest compressions.  His little body was so limp.  He was just... gone.

We kept the girls from seeing as much of it as we could.  They saw him seizing, and me trying to get to him.  They could hear my crying through the bathroom door, and I could hear the Vampire say "why is TT crying?".  They opened the door and came in, even though I kept asking them to stay outside.  I didn't want them to see Kit... or me like this.  The Drama Queen hugged me and said "I'm sorry your cat died" then danced off in her way.  The Vampire mimics her every move, and did the same.  His death didn't seem to phase them.  I guess they don't realize just how permanent it is. Uncle M dug the hole to bury him, and I didn't have the heart to put him in the ground yet, so he spent one last night in the garage.  I know my mind was playing tricks on me because he really was dead, but every time I looked at him I could see his little chest move.  Uncle M wrapped him in a towel, and put him in a box in the garage.  I scrubbed the bodily fluids out of the bathtub, and the girls fought the entire time.  I finally told the girls through the tears in my eyes that Kit being dead was permanent, and I needed them to please stop fighting and play, because I was really very sad that he was gone.  They calmed down after that.  The Drama Queen asked me again at bedtime if I was still sad about Kit dying, and I told her yes.  She asked why.  I told her because I will never be able to hold him again.  He will never rub his face against my hand, or rub his body against my legs.  He won't be waiting at the back door for some of our food and affection when we come home.  Uncle M added that we won't have to worry about him being outside anymore, and we won't have to worry about him being hurt.  The Vampire cried a little.  I read them both a story.  Then they went to sleep.

Kit N was one of my strays who found a permanent home with me.  A neighbor had a stray cat who had kittens in the summer of 2003, and kept asking me if I would take one.  I finally caved and brought the fuzzy orange Kit N home for good.  He was an ornery little soul.  My grandpa called his kind a sore-tail because sometimes when you touched his back near his tail he would turn on you.  He and I got along fine, though.  I knew his moods, and he knew mine.  He was a bit of a bully, and would try to hog my affection away from the dog and my older cat, Bombaata.  He would actually lay on top of Baata to get him to move when Baata would be on my lap, and Kit would want the spot.  In the spring of 2008, I had to turn him outside.  He had a horrible habit of peeing and pooping in the house.  He would use the litter box, but only when it suited him.  It broke my heart into pieces to do this.  It was hard for him at first too.  He stayed away from me for a bit, was afraid, and wild.  When he adjusted to this new life however, he seemed to enjoy it.  He made friends with other cats in the neighborhood, and had his usual haunts.  He would pull disappearing acts, and I would worry myself sick until he came home.  A couple of the disappearing acts were because he was attacked by dogs in the neighborhood.  We had to take him to the vet and have the wounds from the dog bites patched up.  I worried about my decision to let him stay outside constantly.

He was a tough little guy, and never seemed to get along with my mom.  Their personalities were oil and water.  I hope he can forgive my decision to turn him outside, and I hope I can forgive myself... because I believe this is what caused his death.  Uncle M says he doesn't believe this, and it was just his time to go, but I can't help but feel responsible, and wish I had done things differently.  He wanted to come inside the house so badly the night before he died, and I just can't help but wonder if I could have saved him, had I given into the urge to let him in.  Uncle M says I can't dwell on that - it was just his time to go. 

I sat at the table after the girls were asleep, and looked out at the snow in my back yard.  I could see his little footprints coming from the fence section that is leaning against my garage, where he felt safe to lay in the sun and sleep.  I asked Uncle M to clean the dirt off the door, where he would paw at the door to be let in at times.  He was my third stray that I took in as a permanent member of my family.  I will miss seeing him lay on the back porch curled up in Hobie's (the 90 lb lab) legs.  I will miss the aggressive head knock into my shins to let me know he wants some of my attention.  I will miss his silly gurgling meow, as always sounded like a Wookie from Star Wars.  I am glad that he is at peace now, and that I won't have to worry about him anymore, but it doesn't ease the hole left in my heart.

I hope this snow melts soon, or we get a lot more to wash away the traces of him in my yard.  It will be awhile yet before I stop looking at the back porch to know that he is home, safe and OK.  I hope that he knows how very much I loved him, and never doubted that.  I hope I can learn to live with my regrets and guilt.  Rest in Peace Kittle Bit.  Mommy loves you. 

Aunt TT

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Text Messages from Bio Mom

Around noon today, I received a text from my sister saying "tell the girls i love them and miss them and i love and miss you too.  Jessy".  This is the first correspondence she has actually sent to me personally since she has been gone.  She has mailed letters for the girls to my mom's house, but never to me.  She returned a phone call in February of last year when I needed some info (was asking for help getting prior child support records on bio dad) from her in regards to custody case.  She wasn't much help in that matter, didn't follow through on my requests, and only begged me to keep them out of their bio dad's hands.  I haven't written her letters telling her about what has happened in the kids lives, I wonder if I should, but she hasn't made much effort to stay in contact, and I didn't want to force the kids on her.

Reality slaps me in the face.  They're not my kids.  The Vampire is calling me mommy on a constant basis now.  But I didn't give birth to her.  I am filling the shoes of a mommy... but for how long?  How permanent is my situation?  What are her plans for these kids, the ones she gave birth to but walked away from?  Should I respond to the text?  And if I do...  all I want to say is if you miss them so much... where have you been the last year and a half (will be 2 years in June).  I want to question her about the rumors of other children she has supposedly had.  I want to sit down and give into the tears at the root of all these questions... when is she going to come back here, and try to get her kids back from me, from mom and dad.  How much longer will I be the mommy I have grown to love being?

I wonder if she keeps in contact in her touch in go way to prevent me from ever being able to adopt them.  Adoption is the only way I could keep them safe, and know that they are safe with me, for the rest of their lives.  I know she has to miss them.  I know there is probably not a day that goes by that she doesn't think about them.  I still wonder exactly why she left.  I can make my own assumptions, but they are just that... assumptions.  I miss her too.  I miss the dreams I had about having kids with my sister, and watching them grow up together.  Trying to help them learn from the mistakes we made.  I miss the life I wanted for my sister.  Getting her away from all the booze and drugs, and helping her to see the beautiful person she really could be.  I see other sisters together, people whom I have become good friends with, and feel the loss in my soul, that I will never again have that playful banter with my own sister.  Because of the situation she has placed me in, I feel like I have lost the ability to tell her that I know she is doing the wrong thing, but I still love her and always will.  I can't be too warm and loving toward her, for fear that she will use that against me to hurt me... the girls.  I hate living with the guilt of being cold to this person I grew up with.  This person who I would have done almost anything for.

It is bittersweet, and I try not to dwell on it.  The gravity of the situation has overwhelmed me today.  On a good note, the Vampire has pretty much (knocking on wood with both hands and feet as I say this) stopped biting.  She got upset with her sister a few evenings ago because the Drama Queen called her a Vampire.   I was at work when it happened, but Uncle M said that she told the Drama Queen "I don't bite anymore.  Don't say that."  I am clinging to the hope that it's over.  Still haven't talked to the daycare provider about the smoking.  I felt it would be wisest to have a secondary care lined up in case she asks us not to bring her back.  I almost feel bad taking the Vampire away from her as she depends on the income, and seems to adore her.  It's so hard to let someone else raise your kids for you.  Even if they aren't really your physical, I gave birth to them kids.  The Drama Queen has been doing well in school.  She said she was ill at school  yesterday, and I let her come home after lunch.  She seemed fine for the rest of the day, however, and I made her go back today.  Uncle M is kind of between jobs right now.  His former employer was pretty awful to him, and he's waiting on his background check to come back at the prospective employer before he can start there.  He's been helping me around the house while he's home.  It's nice to have this little family, and I should just enjoy what I have right now and quit worrying about the future.  Sometimes it is so hard though.  Especially when your greatest fear is that bio parents will take away the thing that means the most in your life... their kids.

Aunt TT

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Keeper of Strays

When I was growing up, my dad used to say that the neighborhood strays just knew to come to me.  He would joke that I was somehow a beacon for them, and they knew that (against his wishes) I would take them in, feed them, and try to locate their owners.  I loved my dogs/cats so much that I couldn't fathom a pet that was without their master, and vice versa.   There was an Australian Shepherd who was a repeat customer of my kindness.  I went to school with this dog's owner, and hated giving him back every single time, because I felt like he didn't treat this dog with the love and respect the dog deserved.  The owner would yell at the dog, beat him with a leash, and stomp away without even thanking me for keeping the poor animal out of traffic.  He was a fine animal, beautiful, gentle, loving.  I'm sure he would have been loyal to his owner, had his owner shown him the respect and love he deserved.  It destroyed me every single time I held back the tears and anger as I watched the dog be carted away by his master.  I fear going through this with the two beautiful little girls I am caring for, as I am not their birth parent, just their Keeper.  I guess I have become more than a beacon for the animals in need of care, but also for the abandoned children in this world that I have the power to help.  There are so many others out there, that I can do nothing about. 

This is copied from www.thefreedictionary.com:
a·ban·don  (-bndn)
tr.v. a·ban·doned, a·ban·don·ing, a·ban·dons
1. To withdraw one's support or help from, especially in spite of duty, allegiance, or responsibility; desert: abandon a friend in trouble.
2. To give up by leaving or ceasing to operate or inhabit, especially as a result of danger or other impending threat: abandoned the ship.
3. To surrender one's claim to, right to, or interest in; give up entirely. See Synonyms at relinquish.
4. To cease trying to continue; desist from: abandoned the search for the missing hiker.
5. To yield (oneself) completely, as to emotion.

I can understand some forms of abandonment.  I don't agree with suicide, but I can see how people can feel so much self pity that they begin to hate themselves, and want to abandon their lives.  I don't agree with but can understand how some people may feel that their own survival is more important than the survival of others, and selfishly step out of marriages, or relationships that they promised would last forever to fill their survival instincts.  What I can not understand is how a mother or father could abandon their children.  They are so helpless, and dependent on their adult parents.  Unlike other species of creatures that roam this earth, our young are dependent upon their parents for at least 18 years.  Could a 4 year old survive in the wilds of any city on their own?  Do they know enough about how to stay warm, fed, and away from the predators that would surely destroy them in one way or another?  Yet, daily children of all ages are left to fend for themselves, killed by loved ones, or thrown into foster care.  Abandoned by the people who chose to give them life.  

We are a barbaric race when we let our own selfish wants and needs drive us to the point of suicide, adultery, abandonment.  In my eyes, the root of every one of those evils is selfishness.  Placing your wants and needs above those of others, is so destructive to every being involved.  It is a very selfish act to take ones' own life.  It is a very selfish act to cheat on your spouse.  It is also very selfish to place drugs, men/woman, and "the good life" above your own flesh and blood.  I still can not fathom how someone could walk out on a child after they worked so hard to bring them into the world.  I guess it is easier for me to imagine a man walking out on his children, because by nature, men don't experience the pain it brings to force a child into this world.  Their bodies don't stretch, their boobs don't sag, their hormones don't go all crazy before, during, and after childbirth.  The main thing a man has after a child is born is seeing himself in some part of the child's mannerisms, body build, or facial features.  It is way more common in our society for a man to walk out on his children than for a woman to do so.  I am dealing with a case where both parents walked out.  

I still haven't heard anything from my sister.  The Redneck hasn't called, but my mom and dad saw him Friday evening before coming to our New Year's Eve party.  He was in a car, and had three small kids in the back-seat.  He was parked at the gas station that mom and dad had stopped at to get gas.  This gas station is about five minutes from my house.  There was a woman, who worked at the gas station, and she was talking to him through the window of the car.  Mom and dad got the impression that they are intimate with each other from watching the conversation.  They tried to stay out of his notice, then drove off to my house, and told me about it.  First of all, last I knew of the Redneck, he didn't have a driver's license.  Second of all, what is he doing with some other woman's children.  How bad would it hurt the Drama Queen to see her bio daddy spending time with some other kids, when he hasn't made any effort to see her in 3 months?  He is in town too.  So I fear running into him with these children.  It makes it harder to keep it all out of sight, out of mind for these kids.  I have a dance sticker on the back of my vehicle with their names on it.  I feel like I need to keep that hidden, so he doesn't happen to drive by, and figure out where we live.  I also fear what those other kids are going through, knowing the Redneck's history of physical, mental, and drug/alcohol abuse.  But there is really nothing for me to do, but document.

This whole situation also makes me very angry as well.  Earlier this year, I spent $750.00 hard earned dollars that I could have used toward his daughters on a lawyer to keep him from taking the children from me.  He took me to court for visitation rights, and custody, then dropped the custody case at the last possible moment.  I might not have needed a lawyer, as he didn't have one, but I didn't want to lose the girls because I was trying to be cheap.  He continued the visits for a few months, then disappeared without a trace.  What a waste of my time and money.  I worried constantly that I would be forced to let him take the girls unsupervised, and that if he won that right if he would flee with them, and I would never see them again.  It happens.  I don't want it to happen to the girls, or me.  I feel safer with Uncle M in town.  He is usually with us, and if the Redneck decided to start something, he wouldn't let him hurt us, and I would have the sense to dial 911.  I hate living in fear of someone, all because my sister had to drop all of this in my lap and traipse off with another guy.  Yet here I am, the Keeper of Strays, and I will stay when she didn't, and care for these children as if they were my own. 

The Vampire cried a lot for her "other mommy" this morning.  Have you seen Coraline?  Well in this Tim Burton kids flick, this little girl Coraline wanders into an alternate world where everyone has buttons sewed onto their eyes.  She has an "other mommy" and an "other daddy" who treat her like gold, let her do whatever she wants, and feed her all sorts of goodies, but they want to sew buttons on her eyes.  Coraline escapes to the real world and avoids the buttons, but can't help but want to go back and enjoy herself a few more times.  The girls love this movie.  It gives me the creeps.  But when the Vampire is crying for "other mommy" I say "she will sew buttons on your eyes!"  It was then she said to me "Not that mommy!  My real mommy."  The emotional side of me that feels like her real mommy hurts to the core, while my rational side hates to see these children have to deal with all this sadness, kicks the emotional side's butt in gear, and reaches out to hold this poor child.  She was so weepy, and clingy.  She didn't want me to leave her with the sitter.  She cried about everything from putting on her undies, to having to carry her blanket out the door.  But I found the patience to walk slower for her, be right by her side to hold her hand when she reached for me on the stairs (as she is afraid of our stairs going down from the front porch) and even show her for the millionth time the right way to put her socks on so that the seam on the toes sits in the right place, and doesn't hurt her feet.  I am the Keeper of Strays, and I will find the patience to help a troubled child.

The Drama Queen had a break down about her mommy last night.  Cried and told me she really missed her.  I held her and told her I know, and that I miss her too.  I was amazed at my own patience as she screamed and yelled at me last night.  You see that is how she tells me that she misses her mommy.  She has an angry outburst, then she tries to make me feel bad, then when neither actions provoke me into a fight, she will sob, and tell me the actual reason for her acting out.  I feel so bad for the poor kid.  She has more memories of life with her mom.  She clings to the good memories, and forgets the bad.  It is human nature, part of our survival skills to block out the bad things.  Especially if it is traumatic.  I feel horrible that I can't do more to ease her sadness, so I stay, the Keeper of Strays... it goes against my nature to turn my back on anyone in need.

We talked with the therapist about my sister mentioning that she would like to see the kids in March.  She asked what we were going to do, and I told her I don't know.  It's so difficult to decide.  Part of me wants to say, "hell no, you left them, you stay away!"  While the other part says, "now TT, you can't prevent them from seeing her when you know they will want to, suck it up and deal with the fallout afterward."  There will be a fallout if they see her.  The therapist assured us that she will be there to help no matter what we decide.  She also told us that we may use the therapy office (complete with two way mirror, and audio equipment) as our meeting place.  She said she will sit with us and lay out the ground rules to my sister, then if there is any straying from the ground rules, then the visit will be over (on my call).  I am going to confirm with the girls' therapist that this offer will also extend to Z-man, my parents, and Z-man's counselor.  It does make the decision a little easier knowing that we will have a third neutral party that may be able to help keep it calm, and organized.

We discovered recently that our sitter smokes in the house with the kids.  I don't have anything against smokers, I just don't smoke, and don't like my kids exposed to it any more than they have been.  They grew up with 2-5 adults in the home and they were all smokers, who didn't care about the little lungs that had to breathe that air they filled with nicotine.  I think the Vampire's hearing issues, could stem from being exposed to cigarette smoke so often.  She still has tubes from the surgery last December that opened her ears up so she could hear better.  I hate this, because I was really hoping that this could be a permanent place for the Vampire, and the sitter says she is becoming attached to our little blonde.  I guess Uncle M and I will have to talk to her about the smoking, but it is her house, and I hate to ask anyone to do something differently in their own home.  I'm thinking the best thing would be to find care elsewhere, and just leave it at that.  Uncle M says we should talk to her, but the girls, their coats, their bags, etc. smell like smoke when we pick them up.  I think it may be bad for them to breathe even if the sitter smokes in the bathroom, but then I could be being petty.  Regardless of what happens, I have to look out for their best interest, and something in my gut is telling me this place just isn't it.  So yet another decision placed before us. 

Aunt TT