Thursday, June 2, 2011

Loooong Overdue!

I have been slacking as a blogger!!!   I need to bring you all up to speed on what has been going on in our lives.  The girls are doing pretty well.  We have two weeks from this Saturday then we will have our Dance Recital!  I'm excited and nervous!  It's hard to tell how Vampire will react to being on stage, but whatever happens, I'm sure that she will be adorable!  M and I have been kicking around putting DQ in competition dance this fall.  The cost would be 100.00 per month for the 3.5 hours of classes she would have to take, then another 15.00 per month for Vampire to be in ballet.  We would have to buy 4 costumes next year (Ballet for V, then Tap, Jazz, and Ballet for DQ) at around 50-60 dollars apiece, AND foot the expenses of traveling to and entering the 2 regional and 1 national competition that the instructor wants to do.  Dance lasts roughly 9 months of the year so for lessons alone, it would be 900.00.  The instructor is offering fund raisers, and if we chose to do the competition dance, I will have to bust my butt to raise extra money to pay for the expenses.  I would like to give her a shot at it because this would be so beneficial for her.  I have a little bit of time to figure out the expenses.

Speaking of expenses - DQ is out of school!  She has been out for an entire week now.  Summer is here!  M and I have put her in a summer daycare.  They go on weekly field trips every Wednesday to museums, the zoo, Omnimax theater (to see Tornado Alley), and even a local dairy!  On every Thursday they will either go bowling or skating rotating every week.  She also gets to spend the summer with her friends, a dear friend of mine's kids.  So although it exceeds our current income - it's worth it to give her the opportunity.  I have been giving plasma to help pay for the costs.  The first four donations are worth 220, then every week after I can make 50.00.  It doesn't cover the cost of the 126.00 per week entirely, but it does help to off set it.  I am looking into getting a second job on the weekends to keep my head above water.  I hate to do that because I will have to spend less time with the kids, but I have to generate more income into our household.  So if you have any ideas or suggestions, I am open to them.

Vampire is doing well in daycare.  They have hired a part time person to help with her.  I can not say enough about this daycare, and if you are local, and would like to learn more about them, then just get in touch with me, and I will tell you all.  The director pin pointed the hours that Vampire was acting out the worst and hired a part time girl to shadow her.  How amazing is that?  I told her I worried about that fix as I didn't know how long they could afford an extra person, and she told me not to worry about the expenses, that the room needed a third adult for a long time, and this was a good window of opportunity for that.  She said she would handle the finances, that I just needed to keep being the positive that V needs.  I can say to you now, she has not bit another child at all in around three weeks.  She did bite the part time teacher about 2 weeks ago, but that was it.  The director told me after that incident "we're all entitled to our bad days - even kids."  I am so blessed to have her there.  They work wonders with her.

The greenhouse is a jungle!  M has been working really hard on it to keep it watered, and to tend the plants.  He has been leaving the door open so we can get various insects in there to help pollinate the flowers that have bloomed.  I haven't been able to justify forking out the money to buy any bees for pollination purposes, so we are making do with what we can.  I will snap some photos of it, and post them later today so you can see how awesome it is!  M had to tear out the zucchini plants because they were taking over everything else.  Crazy!!

I have been told by another custodial aunt that I have befriended about the Kinship care program.  I am going to explore it and see if we can't get into it to get financial help.  I really hate to do it, because I know nothing is free, but 275 dollars a week for daycare is more than I can afford, and I have to work.  I have to pay my house payment.  I have to pay electric, and water bills.  I have to provide food for these children.  My custodial aunt friend lives in another state, but I am praying that the program is similar in Ohio.  From the way she described it - it helps out a lot!

I get a text message from my sister every two weeks or so.  It is always the same, "tell the girls that I love them and I miss them."  This last time I finally responded to her, usually I just save it to my phone and keep going with my life.  But I texted back "we do."  She responded "thanks".  Conversation over.  She hasn't asked to see them yet.  Part of me hopes she never does.  The entire situation has become trickier, though as my favorite aunt had to kick her 20 year old son out of her house about a month ago.  This beloved aunt lives literally right around the corner from me.  I know this broke her heart, and I wish I could ease her pain, but she found drugs in his bedroom, and gave him the boot.  I'm not talking pot either, I'm talking harder drugs.  He lived with my grandfather for a little while, then a couple of weeks ago left my grandfather's house to move in with...  my sister.  He is now living in the hotel that my sister is, because she promised him a job.  The job he has....  from what my aunt has said....  is watching children while my sister and her boyfriend work. CHILDREN.  Leading me to believe there could be more than one.  Leading me to wonder if the extra kids are my sisters or if they are someone else's.  Leaving me to fear that a drug addict is taking care of children.  My cousin also knows where I live.  He's been to our house, he's seen the kids, he voiced quite adamantly how he would knock some sense into my sister for leaving her children, and now - he is living with her.  So she knows where the kids are.  M has seen a white vehicle that looked suspicious on the street, so I am on guard. 

We also haven't received any statements that my sister is now paying into her child support.  She is VERY far behind.  About 7500 behind on the girls, and 5300 behind on Z-man.  I don't get the money, and personally don't care if she pays it or not.  I am telling you this because:
a.  there is no child support being withheld from her checks, so she is being paid cash, or being paid in free nights at this hotel
b.  she will get to a point where she is so far behind that she will be involved in legal problems, and could spend time in jail due to being in arrears, I hate to see that happen to her.
c.  for me this is all concrete evidence that she is still the same person she was when she left here, no matter how much she has said she has changed, and the child or children she has in her care is also in danger of suffering the life her eldest three did.

Over the weekend I watched a Lifetime Movie online.  It is called Gracie's Choice starring Kristen Bell and Anne Heche.  I saw my sister in Anne Heche's character.  It based on a true story, and over dramatized, but the basic personality of a drug addict who bounced from place to place, using anyone she could to keep her lifestyle the way she wants it was what I can see now in my sister.  It's what I never saw before.  It was like someone removed the blinders from my eyes, and I could finally see her clearly for what she truly is.  I cried a bit after watching it.  I think my tears were shed for the lives these children lead before I got them.  All of the strange men they were exposed to, all of the things they lost when being drug from home to home, all of the nights they didn't have a bed to sleep in, or clean clothes to wear, all came crashing down on me.  I can't ever let that happen again.  Ever. 

We haven't heard anything from the Redneck since October of last year.  My hope is that he continues to stay out of the picture.  I don't know what is going on with him, or why he couldn't at least call to check on or say hi to the girls, but I am glad he hasn't yet.  I wonder how anyone could walk away from a child like that.  When I watch DQ sit and read books (she is reading at a 1st-2nd grade level) to the Vampire, I wonder how anyone could chose to miss out on that.  When the Vampire throws her arms around me and yells "MOMMY!"  I think who could walk away from this?!?!  I think about everything I have had to sacrifice, and still - my decision would be the same.  To my readers who don't have children, it is a HUGE sacrifice.  I haven't been to the OBGYN or the eye doctor in two years.  I haven't had time.  I take so much time of work for their vision, dental, therapy, etc appointments, that I feel like I can't justify time for mine.  I have missed dentist appointments to the point that they sent me a certified letter saying they will start charging me for the missed appointments merely because I was so consumed by helping the Vampire stop biting.  I have to leave work early to take them to or pick them up from school.  I have had to work over to make up my time.  I haven't had real, honest to God vacation from work in nearly two years.  I take a day here, and a day there, but I haven't had a good solid 5-7 days off in what feels like forever.  I'm the breadwinner for two sweet little angels.  I have to make these sacrifices. 

I'm not complaining.  I'm just trying to justify why I can't be the friend I used to be.  I'm trying to establish why I'm not the sister I used to be.  Everything takes back seat to two little girls who have no clue how very much M and I do for them.  The sacrifices M has made have been even greater than mine in leaving his family, job, and everything he knew to come here and put up with DQ's mouthiness and Vampire's stubborn streak.

Finally, I had the surprise of a lifetime this weekend!  We went up to Michigan to visit M's family for the weekend.  We camped out in his cousin's back yard when we got up there on Saturday night and had a blast!  Sunday morning we played with Legos, as his cousin has the largest collection of Legos I have ever seen, then we all went to his other cousin's house for a cookout.  Now M had been acting weird.  He had said a couple of things to me, and I was preparing myself for him getting down on one knee in front of his entire family to propose to me.  As we get out of the car at his cousin's house some of the kids, and his Uncle Dennis come out to greet me.  Dennis tells me Happy Birthday, but I don't think much of it as his wife is a FB friend, and I won't see them again until after my birthday, so I figure he is just saying it while he can.  I thank him, and in a whirlwind of kids and my big dumb dog, head toward the house.  Inside the house, 275 miles away from home, there stands someone who looks like my dear friend Meg, and beside her in a chair, sits... my mom.  That person doesn't look like Meg, she IS Meg.  Mom, dad, Z-man, and Meg and her children drove all the way to MI to join in on this surprise party thrown in my honor.  I would have cried had "Broccoli" (nickname of M's 5 year old God-daughter) not been hanging on my arm and distracting me just enough that I was able to reign in the flood of emotions I felt.  I felt so loved.  M's family were pretty much all there, his cousin's wife made me some delicious chocolate cakes with peanut butter in the middle, and shaped like a Reeces cup!  I got a new sewing machine from M's mom, dad, sister, brother-n-law, niece, nephew, and M, some lavender bath salts from his very talented soap making aunt (AC), a gift card to a local restaurant from Meg, and everyone even sang Happy Birthday to me before the cakes were cut.  I tear up just writing the details of this surprise to you.  It touched my heart so deeply.  M's family are a great group of people, and I am so grateful they welcome me into their homes and lives.  I love being a part of them.  So thank you M.  Thank you for making the 32nd year of my life so special.  I don't know what I would do without you.  And thank you M's family!  I love you all!

Aunt TT

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