Monthly Archives: September 2012

Short-Circuited

I don’t even know what to say. I haven’t been myself lately. It’s getting worse and worse.

I went from having very few flares for years to having way too many in one year. Summer was ridiculous.

And since summer I haven’t felt like me. When both kids were in school full-time this fall I should have had all this energy, used my time wisely to get all these projects around the house done that I had been dreaming about doing for a year or two. I should have started working out at the gym several days a week like I had planned. No more excuses.  I was going to start planning the classes I wanted to take after christmas in library science at the local community college.

None of that  has happened. Most days I’m happy if I can manage to sweep the floors, vacuum and get the dishes put away. Maybe fold a couple of loads of laundry and pay the bills. This is aside from taking the kids to where they need to go after school. During the day I’ve just felt…nothing.

Of course there have been days where I have a decent amount of energy and get everything done that needs to be done. Most days however have looked like the above for the last six weeks. And it’s making me feel less of a person.

The MS has been weird. It’s not that I have worsening symptoms, it just seems like it’s brought upon this new symptom I’ve never had with it before: Apathy. Depression. Severe Fatigue.

I’ve read about them. I know that there are so many others like me who have experienced these. I just haven’t until now. And I get it now. I spend way too much of my time crying over nothing. It just happens. These spontaneous tears.

My legs are always cold. Not in the ” I need to wear pants” cold, but “they feel dead to me” cold. Sometimes they feel heavy. Today I made myself walk the dog a few blocks. Despite the fact that it felt like I was dragging around two 50 lb weights instead of just moving my feet. I could barely make the four blocks. I wanted to go to sleep. Which I did do when I came home. It lasted about fifteen minutes, on the couch. And wasn’t worth it.

I have constant pains that shoot through my left arm and hand. My eyes have been feeling off and sometimes I see purple or white spots. Not sure what that is. I forget things all the time. I feel like everything I need to take care of requires a herculean amount of strength and energy. And often that makes me not want to do them.

I try. Don’t get me wrong I try. I like to keep my house clean. It doesn’t have to perfect(son’s room-I’ve stopped fighting him) but I don’t like a lot of clutter or dust. However I’ve lost interest in trying to make it super clean like I used to. I’m trying to adopt the attitude that sometimes you just have to let things be and live life. Or take naps on the couch.

Everybody is fed and clean. Bills are paid and homework is done. But for me, I’m done with me.

I broke down and called the neuro last week. I haven’t seen or talked to her in almost a year and a half. I have an aversion to dr’s these days, mainly due to how they always seem to want to be paid.

They scheduled an appt with me for two weeks from now. Then when the dr heard I was coming in and why(I happened to mention that pesky issue of an extreme amount of flares in the past year) she had them call me back to say she wants MRI’s done NOW and as soon as they are done she will fit me in. Okee.

So after dealing with some silly scheduling issues I’m getting those done this week. Happy freaking Birthday to me! Yes, it’s my birthday this week. And I have zero interest in celebrating it. Tuesday birthdays just seem wrong.

I’m a bit nervous. Never have been with MRI’s before. My mother asked me today why the hell I needed to get them done, after all they’re just going to confirm I have the MS. I tried not to roll my eyes while on the phone with her(though I was a bit pissed after hanging up), and tried to explain that sometimes other things can show up on these MRI’s. Maybe something that could also explain the horrible migraines I’ve been having. Or why sometimes my hips/lower back suddenly feel out of whack. It’s necessary. And I haven’t had them in a long time.

And because I’m curious to see if my lesions have increased. Because if they haven’t after all this I’m going to be REALLY fucking surprised.

I’ll see the doc early next week. And the following week I get to see my regular dr for a checkup and to discuss why I don’t get along with pretty much any food anymore. Apparently my stomach has gotten in on the attack and is pissed most of the time.

The crappiest part out of all of this is my classes start this saturday. I might cancel them. I sat down this morning crying because I’m tired of one day waking up feeling fine and the next day feeling like I was hit by a truck. J is trying to talk me out of this, he wants me to give it a couple more days and maybe my lack of sleep lately has a lot to do with this(the insomnia issues). He might be right. But I keep feeling that maybe I need to wait until I’m a bit more stable physically/emotionally. Because right now the physical has given way to the emotional. Which I absolutely despise.

I don’t know we’ll see, I’m giving it two more days.  I was looking forward to these for so long. I know deep down if I did cancel them I’d be angry at myself later, so I’m going to attempt this sleep thing all week and hope that come saturday morning I’ll be on a train into the city.

I’ll let you know next week when I come back with the results from my MRI. Wish me luck.

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Quiet Time

That seems to be the condition my brain is operating in. I feel like I have a lot I could write about and at the same time, so little.

Life has been pretty boring lately. At least boring to the general blog public I would assume.

There have been health issues(yeah, big surprise), kid issues, car issues, house issues, school…The list could go on. It’s basically been the usual list of suspects that happen when you own a house, raise two kids and deal with an illness that frequently likes to mess with you.

There is one very big, one very awesome thing going on right now but it’s a bit of a secret. I’m fearful that if I say anything before everything is finalized it won’t happen. So I’m just going to be super happy but terrified for the next three weeks until I get the ok not to be worried.

I could just try to list everything in brief that was my semi-exciting and annoying week that was the last one:

-The heat was a horrendous bitch on Labor Day and I almost passed out at the local fair. Yeah that was fun. My MS then decided to be horrendous for most of the week after that. Add some weird stomach problem where the idea of food made me angry for three days and a mild sore throat. Last week was a blast I tell you.

-The kid’s meds were briefly adjusted for a few days. I say briefly because the intention was there to lower one of them finally but the reaction we had was fairly immediate and extremely frightening and the Dr put him back to the regular dosage. I won’t go into major details but I almost called the cops on the kid and he whipped me in the face with a pair of his underwear. Thankfully they were clean. And all is well now by the way, the Dr. apologized to me for not mentioning there would be a reaction that quickly. ugh.

-I was dealing with some depression issues that stemmed from being sick so much this past few months. It hit me really hard last week and the idea of doing anything but sitting on the couch with a book or at the computer really didn’t interest me. I wasn’t myself and it was really disconcerting. This happens from time to time and I know it mostly kicks in hard when there have been flares from the MS. The depression and flares seem to go hand in hand.

-I keep have qualms about taking the burlesque classes. With everything that’s gone on physically I’m scared silly now about putting myself out there and looking like a total idiot. Though one of the local performers who’s really awesome has been talking with me a bit here and there via message and she’s had a lot of encouraging words in general(that and she read my blog and liked the pets piece). And just knowing that she’s been taking the time to be super awesome friendly with me has just made me crazy happy. I guess sometimes in this world when everyone is often so self-involved, when someone just happens to be really down-to-earth and nice it throws you off. In a good way.

– The election season is just making me boil. I want to leave the country for the next couple months and just bury my head in the sand until it’s over and the outrage(from whichever party lost) settles down. I feel like this country is more divided than ever. Family member against family member, friend against friend. And it sucks. Sorry I can’t come up with a more eloquent word to describe it, that’s really the only thing that pops into my head.

-Amy Poehler & Will Arnett split up. WTF?? I know I shouldn’t be disappointed in a celeb marriage breaking up. But they’re both so freaking awesome(though I’m a huge Amy fan, so I like her a bit more than Will) and so cute together and they’re just hilarious. And it just seems so wrong. Which apparently is the reason why so many news outlets and entertainment sites echoed the same thoughts as mine for the last few days. They’re just too cool together to split up. Fuck. If those two crazy kids can’t make it, who can?

-We went to Michigan for the weekend to see some old friends. Very good friends that we never get to see anymore. And being with them just made my day/weekend/life. I didn’t realize just how much I missed having them around until we were together. Saturday night was much-needed. My favorite part was seeing Josh reunite on (a) stage with Derek. They’ve always been so amazing together and I miss seeing them play since Derek & family have been in Portland. I also forget how much I love seeing Josh play. I don’t get to see his new band play that much due to their inability to schedule a show on a weekend, and my inability to get a babysitter.

My favorite part of that night was late night when everyone(including friends of our friends that I’d never met) hung out around the fire pit and J & D sat there with guitars in hand and sang. It was just splendid and warmed the cockles of my heart.

Es has a best friend in H, our friends son. The two of them just adored each other at first glance. They played a bit when they were toddlers before our friends moved to Michigan. The two of them were attached at the hip for the next 20 hrs. And it dawned on Josh and I the next day in the car ride home that we’ve never seen Es with another kid for so long and not fight/argue even ONCE. Blew our mind.

This weekend made me miss the days before the others moved away from here. I’m just happy we had a chance to really reconnect and decided to make more of an effort in getting together from here on out.

– Es started karate lessons, lessons she won in a raffle at the labor day fair we went to. Hilarious part is that they’re taken in the same building as the gymnastics company that she won free lessons from in the raffle last year on Labor Day. Kid has some insane luck I tell you. She took to it quite well. First one was a private session with one of the company owners to see how she liked it. She took to it really well. Es needs some major help with focusing and body coordination so watching her take to this and actually learn something immediately thrilled me. She also was told to stomp on a board and when she did she broke it in half which stunned and excited her. The woman never told her she might do that. Tonight she ran around yelling “Hiii YA”

-One of my proudest parenting moments occurred the other day when C informed me he’s positively addicted to Dr. Who now. I made him watch an episode the night before because I was sick of him watching One Tree Hill and Smallville reruns on Netflix. That afternoon while I was gone he watched three more and said he can’t stop. Nice. Makes mama proud.

-I discovered Tumblr. I knew it existed, another blogger told me I should try it, so I did. Damnit. This is going to suck up a lot of my life I can feel it. And then I showed my friend Erin. Now she’s mad at me because she too senses this is going to be one hell of a time suck. Oops, sorry.

-Aside from my stupid birthday coming up at the end of the month(I’m pretending that I’m no longer aging) there are two great events coming up in the next two months. One is our anniversary in October. We’re going to another burlesque show and then staying in the city. I’m psyched. We did this last year and decided it should become a tradition.

-The other is I’m taking Erin to see Amanda Palmer in November. I’m excited. I have these crazy mixed feelings about her methods sometimes in her self-promotion, but in the end I love her dedication to the arts, and how free she is to be who she is. She doesn’t give a damn what people think, which is rare in the music business. Also she really does love her fans. She’s also out there with her creativity in a way that can at times be extremely moving, but also frightening. The latter is her new video for her new song “The Killing Type”. In one instance it’s very intense and moving, the other bloody and grotesque. But you can not help but watch it again and again. The lyrics are why. Anyways, it’s my first time seeing her and I just hope it’s everything I think it will be.

Her new album came out yesterday and I was so incredibly shocked with how much I loved it. I know this sounds positively bizarre seeing that I claim myself as a fan. The thing is I love her music but not all the time, there’s never been one album she’s done that I’ve loved the whole damn thing. I’ve never been emotionally struck down by her music as I’d been with this one. Half of it was just so moving and depressing, the other half brought me back to my days of being 16 and dancing at Medusa’s club in Chicago and trolling Belmont with all the other kids like me. I was a bit of a Goth/punk rock kid.  The music she created on this album takes so many amazing elements of the new wave/ punk music that was out during that time, therefore there are songs that instantly transport me back to 16(mid 80’s, let’s leave it at that).

I haven’t stopped playing it the last 24 hrs. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that with an album. A VERY long time. So this makes me more excited for her show coming up, I should probably warn my friend that I may revert to 16 yr old me when she plays a few of these songs. This album makes me just positively love her now instead of having these love/hate feelings.

I also found myself somehow embroiled in a big argument online today over a very incorrect article that has been printed over and over today over how she’s treating musicians on her tour. It’s amazing how much can be so erroneous and misunderstood by so many so quickly. This is one reason I hate the internet. Also the fact that my twitter blew up for two hours as some(including one in her camp) agreed with me and others kept going around and around in a circle.

Today made me miss writing about music. Something I used to love to do but somehow lost my passion for several years back. Today made me think it might be time to start writing about it again, and if I weren’t so tired I’d irritate some more people on the internet and go into detail over this whole debacle.

-I might be taking a break from writing for a week. There are so many things coming up that are going to be taking up my time around here that I need to concentrate on, and I don’t think I need to bore everyone with the details of the cleaning out of our garage.

Until then…

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The War that was Won

Over the years my family has had many pets. Most of them I lived with at some point or another. We had dogs, cats, gerbils, birds, fish, turtles, iguanas(my younger brother’s), ferrets(my sister’s), and at one time(briefly) a duck & a chick. I know the latter sounds like a Friends episode. But it’s true. And like the Friends episode, they were sent to a “farm”.

My parents were always animal lovers, in fact my mother for years wanted to be a veterinarian and went to school for it when I was 10. Sadly she wasn’t able to finish and never reached her dream. Instead she just took in dogs that needed homes and eventually became a wonderful dog mom up until this day. My dad & stepmom, like my mom really love dogs and they have for years had German shepherds. Sadly they recently lost their remaining dog Ava to a long and terrible illness, she was only 6. In fact when they brought her home I was pregnant with Esme. My son Charlie and I were the first ones to meet her. My dad lived in the same building as we did and we met her in the parking garage the day they brought her home, she was a little spitfire and the sweetest thing in the world. This past week they adopted a 2 yr old shepherd who should easily fit in to the family.

Me? I’ve always been a cat person. My first cat was named Tara, a cute little grey thing that my neighbors gave me when their cat had kittens. I was in third grade. She later ran away due to repeat terrorization by my older brother. A year later a classmate by the name of Kristin had to move to the Philippines due to a job her father had to take there. They had a year old orange and white Tabby named Marmalade. I already loved the cat and played with it every time I was at her house. Cats understood me. When it came time for them to leave they asked us to take him. My parents agreed to let me take him in. He was my best friend for many years after that. I even at one point had great admiration for him because he liked to trip my sister every time she walked up the stairs, he just never liked her. And back when we were younger her and I felt the same about way about each other that he did about her.

He was with us for about 8 years maybe when one day he disappeared. We never saw him again. To this day the feeling in my gut is that he just wasn’t well and what I know of cats, when they’re dying they often like to do it in peace without anyone around.

As a kid and to this day I still have a strange way with cats, even the most ornery ones. I don’t know if it’s because I have a tendency to pull back in situations and not insinuate myself or I just give off a vibe that I get their ways. I’ve just always preferred them.

I love dogs, don’t get me wrong. I lived with them for years whether I was with my mom or my dad. I was there helping my mom’s dog Bichon(yes my mom named her after her breed, no one could agree on a name) deliver her puppies at 11:30 one particular halloween of my late teen years. One of Bichon’s puppies and I bonded and for Christmas my mom surprised me with the announcement that we could keep the one I had at that point named Athena(I’m a fan of Greek mythology). She was a cute little thing and I loved her dearly. And one day I moved out and she stayed with my mom, and her mom.

Two years later I was back(briefly) at my mom’s when Athena’s mom passed away. I remember asking my boss at the time if I could leave work to go with my mom so she wasn’t alone the day we received the call that she had to be put down. My boss was a kind man and let me go. I’m just happy I was there to be there with my mom and  Bichon to help them both.

When I had to move home with my mom I arrived with two cats and two parakeets. The parakeets I had for about four years, the cats for about a year and a half. Two loved me, two were indifferent.

Hunter was my parakeet that my mom bought for me when I was 19. He used to sit on my head and peer down into my face and sing to me. He was honestly the coolest bird I had ever met. A year later I bought him a mate, Lily. She was kind of a bitch and really didn’t like me much. I took them both with me when I moved out two years later.

A year after that I was at a party with my then boyfriend that I lived with. Every time I went to get a drink from the cooler an orange & white tabby kitten sped up and jumped into the cooler. Behind him were usually about three or four brothers and sisters. By the end of the night the tabby and I were fast friends and my then boyfriend’s friend asked me if I would take him home, as they had to find homes for all of these kittens. I said yes on the spot. Landlord be damned. He came home with us the next day and I named him Max.

Max was my baby. That was apparent from day one, he snuggled up in my neck every night to sleep and that was a habit that he kept for the few years that I had him. About six months after we brought Max home we were at a local pet store buying food and spotted a female that could have passed for his sister. I bought her and named her Lucy. Lucy came home with a million ear mites. Lucy went back to the pet store and they treated her for said ear mites. Lucy, like Lily, was not a big fan of mine. At first. The first couple weeks I was woken up each night to the sounds of Max & Lucy trying to kill each other. Eventually they found peace. And they tried in vain to get my birds who were hanging from the ceiling. This never happened by the way, neither bird died by claw.

A year later things went bad, VERY bad. I had to move out. By that time I had already relocated the birds to my mother. Let’s just say that some of what I endured was due to the fact that I didn’t want to leave my cats behind. I loved them that much. And once we did finally find a safe haven, they repaid me(even Lucy) with a lot of love and protection from then on.

Only less than three years later I found myself having to find them new homes because I was getting married and my fiancé (Charlie’s dad) was unable to live with the cats. It was honestly one of the hardest times of my life. If I could go back to that time I would have insisted upon them staying, but at the time I had no choice. My mom and I found a woman who took in hard to place cats and she adopted Lucy, promising her a good home(she was still stubborn and didn’t like anyone but me). Max. Oh Max. I still can’t think of him without crying.

He brought home many presents for my mom when we lived with her. Frequently I would fly out of bed to my name being screamed at high volume early in the morning ” JENNIFER!!!”. Because Max had dropped a squirrel or rabbit on her back doorstep. He thought he was honoring her. And me. Eventually she came to be fond of him, he really was such a charmer.

I still think he knew I was pregnant with Charlie before I knew. He suddenly started sleeping on my stomach at night. Years later when I was pregnant with Esme, my cat Bluegrass did the same thing. Then I figured it out. Cats are awesome.

Max went to live with my brother’s girlfriend at college. I heard two years later he was at an(actual) farm chasing mice and living with many other friends. I wish I knew more of what had happened to him, but I know he must have been happy and I think of him often. Giving him up is still one of my worst experiences in life. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, sometimes I prefer cats to people.

Fast forward many years and I meet a charming young man post my divorce and my tumultuous dating years. We fall fast. He has a lady cat that’s about 5 yrs old named Mittens. Mittens has never liked any of his past girlfriends. Not long in, guess whose head Mittens starts wrapping her herself around at night? Yup. You’re smart if you guessed me. This wonderful man knew right there I was the right one(though he claims he figured that out sooner) if his cat loved me that much. We got engaged. We moved in. We got another cat. Bluegrass, a beautiful rescue cat from Anti Cruelty. We loved them both. We got married. A few months later Mittens became sick. Cancer. It was horrible. We tried to keep her alive. We tried everything. It didn’t work and a couple days past Valentine’s day we had to put her down. We were both with her and we held her as she closed her eyes for that final time. I had never actually experienced the death of an animal in front of me(I wasn’t in the room when Bichon passed) and I wasn’t prepared for the emotions that followed. For Josh it was even harder, he brought her with him years before from New England to Chicago.

A couple of months later we decided Blue needed a companion and we went back to Anti Cruelty. We started looking at cats and there were a couple cats I was interested in, one was a black cat, one an orange tabby(oh Max). He found this kitten about 5 months old that was grey/brown with a lot of white. He kept pawing at Josh through the cage and seemed to have one hell of a personality. The worker hesitantly brought him out to us at the “meeting” area. This kitten proceeded to crawl over us and then all over me and just nestle me. He wouldn’t leave my neck and curled up to me. She walked over to see how we were doing and said that she’d never seen this cat do that to anyone before. Josh wanted to pick him right away. We said goodbye to him and as we did he suddenly put his paw outside the cage and grabbed my finger. He meowed. That was it. I told Josh he was the one.

We adopted him. I picked him up a couple days later. We named him Wally. Blue was pissed. But later they became hetero life mates as Josh calls them. I can verify this, as at sometimes the way they curl up with each other to this day speaks volumes.

Per usual over time the cats sort of became mine. Or rather I was the one around the most and fed them, gave them treats so it was my head Wally sleeps on most nights. He also follows me most everywhere, sits in front of the computer screen if I’m writing, and creepiest of all he HAS to sit on the toilet seat and watch me shower. If he hears me turn on the water he flies into the bathroom before I have a chance to shut the door. The best part is most nights he waits nearby my side of the bed while I read. As soon as I turn off the light he’s up in bed waiting for me to stretch out  my right arm, where he then lays down facing me curled up around that arm with one paw laid out to touch my face. And this is how I fall to sleep about four nights a week. The other three he’s downstairs knocking things over or fighting with his brother. Or in winter, bringing me live mice.

The funniest thing Wally has ever done was growl at the Chinese food delivery man one night. I was a few months pregnant and apparently he was protecting me from the poor kid delivering my chicken & vegetables.

Now these cats have lived a very charmed life with us. They are like my kids

The reason I started writing this in the first place is staring out our back door. Matilda. Matilda is our 16 months old shepherd mix. Part German, part Australian, possibly part Rhodesian ridgeback. Who knows. All I know is she is 100% pain in the butt.

Josh had been needling me for a year or so to get a puppy. It never seemed like a good time and frankly, I didn’t want a dog. Slowly but surely I warmed to the idea a year ago spring. We had been perusing all of the humane society pages looking for dogs. After weeks of doing this Josh happened to find a picture of a cute (supposedly) Australian Shepherd mix puppy. She was four months old and sitting up. And winking. I’m not kidding, in the picture the puppy was winking. Me, the not too thrilled about dog person, fell in love with the dog in that picture. So we pursued her. We went and visited her at the humane society a week later. Everything went well and she was super sweet and energetic. We wanted her right away.

Now the horrible thing is that we were leaving the following week for our yearly excursion to New Hampshire to visit J’s family. But we were afraid she would be gone if we didn’t act on her fast. So we went back the next day, E’s birthday.

Unfortunately things did not go well. Our dear to be dog decided it was super to jump all over Esme pushing her to a chorus of repeated screaming” Aaaargh get it away from me!! I hate her get her away from me!!!”. Poor kid. She had the worst birthday in the world because mom was stressed and pissed by her ruining our chances of getting the dog, and she was getting terrorized by a dog.

The people at the humane society told us to come back later when things calmed down. So we did that night when J could come with us and the child was pacified by presents.

Things were a bit better by that point. The puppy had calmed down a bit. We still decided to proceed with her. So we adopted her on the spot. Which left us in a massive pickle. We could pick her up in two days, but we were leaving in six. Luckily my younger brother and his (then)girlfriend had two Australian shepherds so they volunteered to take her for that week we were gone and work on training her. Things went fairly well. We were lucky because she was crate trained and potty trained.

While we were gone things were a little too much for my brother. And it was then he figured out that she wasn’t an Australian shepherd but perhaps a Rhodesian ridgeback. If you know these dogs, well they’re tall and energetic.

The first several months with her were hard. I wasn’t prepared for all of the craziness. She ate things. Like cd’s, shoes, belts, bras, shoes, and toys. Esme lost countless toys to her chewing. We were nipped at constantly.

The kids went to school and Josh went to work so here I was with the most annoying dog known to man and I was expected to take care of her day in and day out. When Esme wasn’t in school or other activities she spent her time perched on the back of the couch in our family room. She was absolutely terrified of the animal.

I wanted to love her but I just didn’t know how. I was so frustrated on a daily basis it seemed impossible. Especially when my Wally developed another Urinary infection because she kept blocking him from coming down to go to his litter box. I was furious and told Josh we had to find someone to take her. I felt awful saying that but I was upset. I think this became so routine, my calls to  him in tears saying we have to get rid of her that he knew not to take them seriously. He built a cat door into our kitchen/utility room door and thankfully that cured Wally of his issues.

I won’t lie. It took a very long time for Mattie and I to get used to each other.

Something however happened over the last few months. She calmed down a little. And being with me day in and day out I was the one that taught her all her little tricks. Like how to high five, how to shake, and best of all “how to give ten”, which is currently her favorite thing to do when she wants a particular treat.  She just sits back and puts both front paws up saying “I’m cute please give me what I want”. And she is, she’s a gorgeous girl. She’s even gotten to the point that if you offer a particular treat and it’s not what she wants she does a little jump back dance and shakes her head no. Last week she nodded at me when I nodded to her  and said that she was a good girl. Charlie cracked up so hard I thought he’d burst.

It’s been well over a year. She adores Charlie. I mean adores. He gets the best greetings when he walks in out of all of us. She’s also extremely fond of Charlie’s dad. So whenever he comes over she goes absolutely nuts over him.

E is finally happy with her. She called her the perfect dog just yesterday which made me very happy. Now she giggles when she attacks her with kisses instead of screaming with terror.

Mattie spent a lot of time socializing with other dogs at Doggie Day Camp. Yes. Seriously. It was awesome. She’s learned to love other dogs and I swear that’s helped her disposition quite a bit in dealing with everyone else.

She’s an excellent fly catcher. But she keeps trying to take my curtains down in her determination to take down the flies.

She has a best friend. Daisy. It’s a stitch. Daisy’s “mom” and I are really good friends and the girls have playdates. It’s become really funny when I go there because Daisy sees me and goes nuts thinking Mattie’s with me. When she’s not you can sense the disappointment. When we went out of town Daisy’s family took Mattie for the week. And she’s so used to them now she doesn’t terrorize them like she does everyone else. Which I guess you could say is pretty amazing. They recently came over and she went nuts running from person to person not to jump on them but wondering where her friend was. To hear one of the girls explain to her friend who the other dog was and say “oh that’s Daisy’s best friend” made me giggle. They really do adore each other. I swear she goes through withdrawal when she doesn’t see her friend for a few days.

So my friend and I try to get them together a couple days a week. Never thought I’d be setting up playdates for a dog.

So yes, my absolute terror and annoyance with this animal has become sheer love. I absolutely adore her. The kids are back in school and it’s just the two of us(the cats come down as little as possible when she’s around) and she’s mellowed out.

We’ve seen the difference the last couple weeks. She’s changed. I can’t put my finger on it, but she’s a different girl.

I know it makes everyone in this house much happier when I’m not shrieking because of her actions.

I still wish my cats would give her a chance. The best part of their fights is the fact that they really do say “NOOO”. I have video proof of this. Somehow they learned how to say it and they say it to her when they get really mad. Imagine two cats on a stairwell in a standoff with a dog weighing 50 lbs more than them, not only smacking her down the stairs but screaming a chorus of “NOO”. Yeah, I know you can’t. We couldn’t either the first 50 times or so. Now it’s normal.

I guess sometimes you find love where you least expect it. I didn’t think I was capable of being so attached to this animal, but now I can’t imagine life without her. Especially when she’s trying to smother me.

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Cutting The Apron Strings

I have so many things I want to write about I fear I’m bursting at the seams. But each in their own time.

Right now I want to write about one of my favorite subjects. Charlie. This kid is something that has changed my life in so many ways.

First off his coming into my life was unexpected and very much welcomed. We’ve established that way back when.

The early years were a blessing and a curse, he was so sweet and questioning when he was young and then when he grew there were so many problems that showed up that I wasn’t prepared to deal with. Such as his eventual diagnosis of ADHD, and later his diagnosis of Aspergers.

Then there were the mood swings and inability to touch him without him screaming. So many things never made sense. As much as I loved him raising him was a different story. It was terrifying to feel that you couldn’t wait until he spent a few days with his other parent. But that was what his father and I felt that first year of not knowing what was going on. We would both call each other in tears because we didn’t know how to deal with his outbursts. Eventually with a lot of therapy we figured out what was wrong and how to handle the problems.

Fast forward 12 years. There have been so many changes in his life. He’s changed school several times due to our inability to find a place we want to stay in. My husband J and I bought a house in the suburbs of Chicago that is frankly, one of the best.

We chose it for their school system.

Junior High was a combination of excitement and disappointment. So many things went wrong the last two years. The last year he finally figured out he could fight back, and that he did. And to hear the Assistant Principal pull me aside and tell me that while she still has to suspend him for fighting, she’s so damned proud of him for finally giving back to the kids who’ve been tearing him down, gave me a bit of unexpected happiness.

Charlie is a really interesting kid. He loves so much and always keeps an open mind. He’s only cared about doing his own thing but at the same time he wants people to notice him and be his friend. Jr. High left him feeling like he was nothing.

The day of his 8th grade graduation I went with his father and a friend of mine(whose daughter was graduating as well). We dealt with all the usual as it went along. No one was allowed to clap or show emotion until the very end. The kids were told to do the same. By midway through the announcements that stopped and they were hooting and hollering for certain kids. Well it came time for my son to walk across the stage. My kid who was equally abused at times by some and also loved by others.

Suddenly his name was called and as he walked across there was this clapping and hollering Yay Charlie from all these kids in the audience. His fellow classmates. I think I was so stunned that it was meant for him that I didn’t get it at first, until my friend hit me hard in the leg and she said to me “Did YOU HEAR THAT??” And I look at C’s dad and he’s saying the same. And oh my god, that’s for my SON. My kid who never felt like he belonged. And they’re yelling his name and clapping.

I started crying.

And it only became worse when they showed the video of all the kids throughout the year. They showed all the kids in different classes and suddenly they showed a photo on career day with C and the local policeman. And all the kids hollered for him again. THEN I burst into massive, uncontrollable tears.

After what seemed like three years of absolute hell with this kid of never feeling welcome or cared about by his peers I couldn’t help myself. And he felt it too.

Fast forward nearly three months later. Jr. High is over. And he’s in High School. I’m nervous as is he. But the resulting factor is that he loves it.

He’s in some specialized classes that combine kids like him who need some extra help with kids that are mainstreamed but he hasn’t missed a beat. They’re actually better for him then the classes where he was mainstreamed . In these classes there is such a mixture he understands that he can do so much more then he thought he could.

He’s happier than I ever thought I’d see him be. He loves his teachers. He said the kids are so much nicer. Even kids from last year that were not the kindest to him.

First day of registration some young girl threw herself upon him hugging him(see Teenage Boys are Weird). The kid grew a couple inches over the summer and seems to have filled out. He’s a good-looking kid.

I tried to push him into the school Xbox club thinking my video game loving kid would be all over it. He argued with me two days ago and said he’d rather do sports, or if that wasn’t available anymore he’d rather do the art, film and writing clubs. Oh man who is this kid??

I met his teachers the other night at an open house. And I’m beyond thrilled with what they have to offer him and what they will do for him. How they will truly help him with succeeding and growing so that he can 100% mainstream next year. He loves art. And his drawing teacher is a first year teacher, just out of college. C told me they’ve already had conversations over their love of comic books. I think this may be beneficial as the year goes on.

The last few days he comes home to me and tells me in detail the things he’s learned in class. I’ve never seen this awareness and interest in his classes in him in forever. He loves high school.

The last two days I’ve had my heart in my throat. Last night it hit me and I cried in bed, a huge weight lifted from my chest for the first time in years. The tears were more for happiness then for being sad.

He told me he wants to go to Homecoming. He still doesn’t have a group of friends to hang out with so I questioned who or what he was going with.

A girl from Junior High. He was head over heels for her in 7th and it didn’t go well. Forgot about her in 8th. Now they have a class together and they talk a lot. I told him it’s three weeks away it may not happen. What will you do if she says no?

He told me tonight that even if she says no he understands, he’ll be disappointed but he understands. He still wants to go. Even if it’s alone.

I don’t know what to do.

I’m not sure she’ll say yes.

But he’s grown up so much this summer, both vertically and emotionally. I’ve seen such a big difference in him the last few weeks.

He’s also told me he wants to try out for football next year. Umm.. we’ll talk about this one later kid. I’m not sure how I feel about that.

The fact is that there’s this overwhelming feeling that’s come over me that this kid is growing up and doesn’t need me as much anymore and I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’ve spent so many years of my life protecting him and making sure everything went smooth.

Now he doesn’t want me involved. He wants to make his own way. Something I’ve always wanted him to do.

But now that the time is here I’m positively terrified.

All I can do is be there when he needs me, if things don’t go his way, if life doesn’t turn out the way he plans it to be.

I’m still not ready for this kid to grow up. I don’t think I’m ready for the pain that’s going to go along with the teenage years. I wasn’t ready for it when I was a teen, not sure I can handle it having one. But I know one thing.

This kid is an amazing kid and despite all of his past problems, he has so much to offer to anyone who takes the time to know him.

So maybe it’s time for me to stop trying to protect him all the time, to maybe let him spread his wings a bit, to let him take that leap and fly.

Just maybe I will.

Just maybe I’ll let him take some girl to Homecoming. Just maybe I’ll be prepared for him to see what an amazing person he is.

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