Friday, May 20, 2011

The Root of All Evil

I am raising my sister's kids. I've had custody of them for nearly two years, so they're more like my own at this point in time. I pay for everything for them. I don't qualify for any gov't assistance. So the 275.00 a week for daycare comes right out of my pocket. Cha Ching. The root of all evil.

So I'm trying to come up with inventive ways to make more $$ (save $$). I've been couponing. I am not an extreme couponer and I don't want to commit coupon fraud, so no... I don't get $800.00 worth of groceries for $6.00. But the $10.00-15.00 I save on my bill helps a little bit. I have started donating plasma. Last night was my first night donating (was supposed to go last Saturday - but got stuck helping a great aunt move). I used to donate in college. It helped pay for my gas to go visit my boyfriend who went to another college two hours away every weekend. Now... I'm trying to buffer the amount of daycare costs. Pathetic huh?

Anyway I go to the plasma center and wait. Fifteen minutes after my scheduled appointment time they call me up and ask me, "Have you eaten today".
Me: "yeah"
Them: "when?"
Me: "I had a snack at 3:00"
Them: "it's 4:45 now..."
Me: "my appt was at 4:30, it seems as if you are running behind a bit."
Them: "well you can't donate if you don't eat." Do I look like I don't eat... Ummm... NO!
Me: (thinking I am eating better now than I did when I gave in college) "I did eat. I had lunch at 12:30, and a yogurt at 3:00. Does this mean I can't donate?"
Them: "well we really like it if you eat right before you donate. Hold on a second."
I wait. Five minutes later two of them walk up in their spiffy white lab coats. One of them is holding a lunchable.
Them: "will you eat this?"
Me: "do I have to eat it to donate?"
Them: "we prefer it." (AKA YES.)

I flip the lunchable over to check out the calorie content. I had 700 calories in for the day, and wanted to make sure this would be acceptable with my SP plan. I hate processed meats, but at least it was turkey. OH and the lunchable has two Oreo cookies in it. Great. So here I sit. In the waiting room eating a lunchable. Like a child. Lucky for me another guy was in the same boat. So there we sat, eating our lunchables. Everyone else in there to donate staring at us. I even caught one of the employees staring at me, and I flashed him my most confident "IT GIRL" smile and said, "Hi!" He was a little startled I was so forward after he was caught staring and he said, "Hello". Yet continued to stare. Keeping the smile plastered on my face, I then say, "how are you today?" He is now put in his place, and says, "I'm great thanks! How are you?" I must have been the first overweight chick eating a lunchable in the waiting room of the plasma place that he had ever seen.

They called me back to start the initiation paperwork, and I'm finishing up my Oreo, trying to make sure I don't have the black, crumbly tale tale signs of a child sneaking a cookie. OREOS AREN'T ON MY SP PLAN!! Then they want to take my picture! UGH!! I laugh nervously at the clerk, and she friendlier then the lunchable Nazis and says, "what?" I respond, "just trying to make sure there isn't oreo in my teeth.." She smiles and checks my smile out, assures me there is no Oreo residue then proceeds to snap the all time worst photo of me ever. It's even worse than my license photo! But I am beaten. I don't want to argue, and allow myself to be lead to the next station.

After going through the gobs of paperwork I am lead to the nurse. This lady is great at her job. She is short, overweight, has her mousy brown hair pulled back into a tight bun. She looks the part of every strict nurse in all the Hollywood movies. No nonsense. She does my physical, and doesn't crack a smile at all! Not even when I'm fighting the grin that wants to spread across my face when asked if I have ever had sex for drugs or money. That is so absurd that I want to laugh out loud. It is just so way off my personality. But I successfully suppressed my grin. I also wanted to grin b/c she would probably make a great poker player. Her face showed absolutely no emotion! But I forced myself to concentrate on the questions she was asking and resist bursting out in laughter. I'm sure she wouldn't find it very funny.

The donation it's self was relatively painless. I am always cold, and even more so when lying prone in a chair with my life's blood draining out of me. I brought a jacket, but it wasn't like covering up entirely with my nice warm quilt. The entire process, I kept telling myself this is for DQ - so she can have fun this summer at daycare instead of sitting in my office at work bored stiff. I kept reminding myself of all the fun field trips she would take weekly, and of the skating one week, bowling the next adventures she would get to do every Thursday.

When I got home I had some whole wheat pasta. I was at the donation center from 4:30 - 7:15 (first time is always longer with the physical, etc, the subsequent donations should take about an hour). I stayed right on the nose of my caloric levels for the day and even hit carbs, protein and fat right where I should. I went to sleep early, and didn't work out. This may set me back a little bit with weight loss. I hope it doesn't but times are tough, and I have two kids to feed and care for. I will be donating 2x a week at least for the duration of the summer. I wonder what other inventive things I can come up with for my daycare fund.

Aunt TT

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mothers Day 2011

There is a certain amount of guilt involved with raising someone else's children. Especially on a day like today. I have felt like just curling up in a secluded place and crying all day. Every sweet text or hug from a loved one wishing me a Happy Mothers day has been so genuine, but felt so undeserved.

I did not give birth to these angels. I am raising them. I can't help but wonder how my sister feels today. Her infant son is not old enough to wish her a Happy Mothers day. My mom won't call to wish her a Happy Mothers day. I won't call to wish her Happy Mothers day. Her friends probably will. Her boyfriend probably will. I am surrounded by family and loved ones, she might not be. I have her children. I know she misses them. I feel like such a poser, walking in her shoes.

On the other hand, I am doing all the work to ensure her kids are well cared for. Day in and day out I am the person who does the job that their mom should be doing. I lose sleep when they are sick. I spend the money and time on dance. I make sure they are at school and share in the joy of what they are learning. I tuck them in at night, and hold them close if they have had a nightmare.  I wipe butts, and noses, and bandage cuts/scrapes.  I shoulder the burden of their anger.  

So why do I feel so guilty being told what a great mom I am? Why did I feel like crying when DQ came into the bedroom at 7:30 to be the first to tell me Happy Mothers day? Why have I struggled all day with feelings of being less than worthy of the title, "mom"? I guess it is the compassion I have for my sister. I guess that I am afraid she is miserable today, and that somehow I have inflicted that misery on her - by simply raising her children. I have been trying to suck it up, and smile. I have tried to hide the hurt residing deep in my soul. It just hurts all the worse. Maybe that pain is all part of raising my sister's kids.

The day ended with DQ telling me how much I don't love her, Vampire being so tired she tried to go to sleep on Uncle M's lap during dinner, and me realizing that not every day is going to be ideal.  It is just making the most of what we have.  We had a very busy weekend.  We went to the a festival and a good friend's house on Saturday.  Today we went to my mom's house, then a carnival, and ended with dinner with another good friend.  I need to quit over thinking things and worrying about what might happen.  I need to enjoy the moment.  I am blessed to have these kids in my life.  I am lucky to be their "mom".  So I will just keep pushing through the guilt, and knowing that I am doing the right thing, and that even though some will be hurt by this, it is more important for me to keep at it, as the children may be healed. 


Aunt TT

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Letting the Photos Speak for Themselves

Uncle M, Me and the Vampire
 
DQ @ piano lessons

Vampire and the Easter Bunny


DQ and the Easter Bunny


DQ in a fire truck


Vampire in a fire truck


Vampire hunting Easter Eggs


DQ hunting Easter Eggs


The lovely Vampire in her Easter Dress


The lovely DQ in an Easter Dress - Z-man behind her

An indoor Easter Egg Hunt


Greenhouse!









Outdoor garden



Eat Your Heart out Marilyn
DQ's tap 2011



DQ's ballet 2011


Aunt TT

















Mistakes

I am human.  I make mistakes.  I will always make mistakes.  No matter how hard I try not to.  At the ripe old age of 31 - I am learning that it is no fun trying to be perfect.  Yes, I am such a perfectionist that I have tried for 31 long and exhausting years to be perfect.  I'm here to say now...  I'm laying down my gauntlets and walking away from that battle... well most of the way.

To those I have wronged.  I am sorry.  I am sure I had my reasons.  They may not have made sense to you.  It may have hurt your feelings or your pride, but I truly didn't do whatever I did to hurt you.  I (like you) have my own demons that I struggle with.  I take one day at a time, one step at a time and just try do to what I feel is best.  I'm sorry if you don't agree with me, but if I agree with you or not, I will try to respect your decisions.  I hope you pay me the same courtesy. 

I have wrestled with my conscience enough about my decision to call Children's Services on my sister.  I stumbled across the photos of DQ's beaten, bruised, backside the other day, and my resolve was strengthened.  I nearly cried thinking about how terrified that little girl was, and how it still torments her to a degree.  This sweet little girl still doesn't trust me.  I have never hit her in anger, I have never hurt her on purpose, I have never left her in harm's way - and she still doesn't trust that I will always be there.  I want to mend that trust issue so bad, but I know it's something she has to deal with, and I just have to keep being that constant that she can trust. 

I did what I had to, in the moment I had to make a difficult decision.  I am standing by my decision and I will do whatever I can to protect both of these angels from harm's way.  If I was not willing to do that, I would be no better off than my sister, and I would not deserve to be called their guardian.  I know I won't be perfect when I am their guardian, and I know I will make mistakes.  I don't know if I'm sealing my own coffin for the teenage years, but I have made it a point to be honest with these kids when I make mistakes.  I have shown that I am a parent, and I have the right to make decisions for them right now, but I also am a human being, and sometimes I will do things I shouldn't have.  I am going to show them that it is OK to forgive yourself when you make mistakes, because if I continue to beat myself up and refuse myself forgiveness - they will learn to do the same thing.  I don't want them to struggle and suffer as I have.

Now that I got that off my chest, I will tell you about the Vampire's ASD results.  The tester said that she is highly intelligent.  She tested between 94-121 on the IQ tests that were administered.  In fluid reasoning she tested at 121, and the tester said she thinks that could be b/c that is a skill the Vampire had to hone to survive with her bio mom.  She had to be aware of emotions of others, and how to react to them for her own survival.  I nearly broke down into tears when the tester was saying this to me.  I have fallen deeply in love with this troubled child, and wanted to hang my head in shame for not acting on her behalf sooner.

The tester said that the Vampire COULD have an ASD.  She said that if she does, it is more than likely Aspergers Syndrome.  She told me that she didn't want to diagnose her with anything at this time as her having been diagnosed with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome) prevented her from making a diagnosis.  She explained to me that some of the traits of Aspergers that she is exhibiting are also traits of PTSD, and that she didn't want to label her with something that could be incorrect.  I understand that thinking, however I was a little let down that there wasn't a clear black or white diagnosis that I could hit the ground running with.  I am learning, slowly but surely that parenting isn't about something concrete, but something fluid and ever changing.  It's all about finding what works, and when that quits working, to find something else. 

So I am not giving up.  I hope to talk to her therapist about the results, then see what she thinks.  If she still wants me to pursue the IEP, then I will.  I will continue working with her on her speech, as will Uncle M.  He has been a great help with that.  I will continue to praise the positives and ignore the negatives (unless they are really bad - then she will have a time out).  In the past few months, I have seen such a loving and kind little girl shine.  She was so good this weekend, although she was tired, she was a trooper.  I was so proud of her, and I heaped my love and praise all over her.  Even when she is just standing there doing nothing, I make it a point to lean down and whisper "I love you.", or kiss her forehead.  She was so tolerant and good as I applied make-up to her all ready gorgeous face.  She beamed like a ray of sunshine as she looked in the mirror, and told me, "I'm so pretty!"  She sat so still and listened to the photographer during her dance photos.  I was beaming with pride.  Last night was a set back - she scratched the dance teacher, but Uncle M took her home and put her to bed, and that was that.  We let her know she can't act like that, and we both hope that next week is 100% better.  It is all we can do.  It is entirely her choice if she will make good decisions or not.  All we can do is give her the tools, and be there to praise or re-direct her.


I was also beaming with pride over DQ.  She was also tired, but sat for the full hour it took to roll her hair in sponge rollers.  She didn't want to sit under the hair dryer, but knew that her curls might not be completely dry due to the length of her hair, and she did anyway while watching Barbie's Three Musketeers movie.  She posed so pretty in all of her photos, and her dazzling green eyes were so gorgeous.  I couldn't have asked for better subjects to dress up for this special occasion.  I am so blessed. 





I can guarantee more photos in the near future.  A proud dance mom just can't help but show and share her lovely dance daughters accomplishments off.  An update on bio mom - she hasn't called and asked to see the kids.  She did text me and tell me to tell them Happy Easter last Sunday.  So that is still where we stand.

Aunt TT