Friday, July 26, 2013


K, so I've been super not well lately. I didn't go into it as things were happening, but it's been two months of pain and on Monday I get my gallbladder out. Oddly enough, I've never had a surgery and not been totally stoked. This is the third surgical procedure of my life. First was laser vision correction. I was excited. Second was a boob job (Yeah they're mine, I paid for them) and I was pretty excited about that too. Now I'm getting my gallbladder out and two months of unending abdominal pain have me acting like I'm winning the lottery. Seriously, you'd think I was going on some crazy cool vacay or something but I'm really just going to get part of my digestive system removed.

It's funny how normal certain things can start to look. I'm not sure what it's like in other families, but our family has seen too many trips under the knife to be shaken up anymore. I'm all like "Kids, mom's having surgery on Monday," and they're all like "Yeah, sure, whatever... can I watch a movie?" We've watched a lot of movies lately, because it's about the only activity I can handle.

But they sure did love riding on my lap when I had to use a power scooter at Walmart because walking is too painful.

Anyway, If you are so inclined I would greatly appreciate your prayers. I am never maxed out in that department, more is certainly merrier.

In the meantime, thanks for sharing life with us. It's weird to be the patient instead of the nurse for once, but this is how life goes, even when you add other factors (adoption, disability, blended family, etc) to the mix. Stuff still happens, things fall down, things break, life gets taken apart and put back together again, and you learn to be resilient as a family unit. And somehow, it all becomes more tolerable when you add to the craziness because everyone is able to pour their love into the situation and love is what makes this life survivable.

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Wow. I just recently read this article and I'm blown away...

Mayor Bloomberg has outlawed food donations to homeless shelters because their fat, salt, sugar, etc. content can't be monitored.

I'm involved in trying to combat food insufficiency here in Colorado Springs. I don't think I've mentioned it on my blog before, but I run a food pantry at our church and have been doing so for about 8 months now. Every week, we distribute to about 100 people. We're on a shoestring budget, and shopping for our shelves has sure put low-income diets in a different light.

There is no question, no doubt, in my mind that food quality has become a divide in our nation, and there are some serious "haves" and "have nots." A person living on minimum wage in Colorado Springs has about $41 per week to spend on groceries, per working adult. Imagine a single mom with three kids, trying to feed everyone on $41 each week. She can apply for SNAP (food stamps) and that's a pretty decent supplement, to be sure. For a family of 4 the max amount of monthly benefits is about $670. Sounds do-able... but in El Paso county 48% of the people who are food insufficient are not eligible for SNAP.

And that's not even remotely considering the effects of generational poverty or food availability. Many people in urban areas live in what have been called "food deserts", where there is no actual grocery store and the only close sources for food are convenience stores, which sell extremely limited amounts of produce, meats, and other raw materials for healthy diets. The only options are massively overpriced cans of ravioli, soup, tuna, etc. Markups are outrageous, food quality is poor, and unhealthy eating becomes a way of life. Fast forward a generation or two, and you have kids who have never developed a taste for fresh foods because all they know is mac and cheese and ramen.

Trust me, I am all for changing these diets. We're blessed to be receiving a weekly donation of fresh produce from Sprouts Marketplace, and our customers are loving it. I want them to have access to healthy foods, things that will benefit their bodies. I am torn, at times, between needing to stretch our meager budget and wishing for something better for our customers and their families. I truly am. But I know that you can sacrifice a lot on the alter of perfection. I sometimes have to settle for full bellies and empty calories in the battle against hunger. It's a trade-off I accept when I must, trying to buck it every chance I get.

However, this is a different population of the food insufficient. The homeless are a whole separate ball of wax.

People who are homeless are unable to cook for themselves. Making a fire calls unwanted police attention. They have nowhere to store food safely, and must carry everything with them. Canned foods are far too heavy. Soft fruits and vegetables are out in the heat all day, banged around in a backpack and damaged. Things get stolen while you are sleeping, or someone might jump you for your stuff at any time. They rely largely on public feedings for their diet because nothing else works for them. When we started the food pantry, I actually tried to bring the homeless in. We put up fliers in the soup kitchens and the parks. No one came. Finally, I got some feedback through a friend who works with the folks on the street. They were not going to come. Food pantries were "not for us."

So public feedings have a large responsibility, one that doesn't exist for food pantries on the same level. We are not a person's sole source of nutrition.

Public feedings have a duty to provide the best food they can, that's for sure. But their main duty is to provide AS MUCH food as they can. There has to be a balance between the two. Now, if the public feedings in New York City are throwing away food at the end of the day because, gosh and golly, everyone is just too stuffed to eat another bite, then this policy perhaps begins to make some modicum of sense. But if even one person was turned away, or didn't get seconds, or could have walked out with a bagel stuffed in their pocket and had something to munch on the next morning or later that night and they didn't because of this law, then that's shameful.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

I Don't Need Money

Okay, I hate to bitch and complain but I have to put this out there...

I've said it before, I'll say it again - if you tell me what a saint I am for taking care of my disabled child, you are implying that she is not worth caring for. By making me out to be some martyr, you make her out to be a massive burden.

Which she is NOT.

We went to the Renaissance Festival this weekend. It was tons of fun, we had a blast, the girls got to see princesses and fairies and a real, live elephant! And me, I got to see a douchebag with delusions of grandeur.

Me and the girls were waiting for someone and playing together when a guy came up to me with his two teen daughters in tow. He knelt in front of me and said "I noticed you with your kids and you are just doing such a great job with them. I wanted to give you this." He held out a $20.

"Thanks, I appreciate it," I said, "but I really don't need your money."

"No, please, take it!" he said. "You are an angel! You take such good care of your kids!"

I took his money to shut him up and thanked him. Then I promptly gave it to two teens who had no spending money.

I'm not an angel. I'm a mom. I do for my child exactly what most other moms gladly do for their kids- whatever they need me to do. My child's needs are a bit different from others, but the job description is the same. Take care of them. Love them. Encourage them.  Adding a long white cane into the mix doesn't make me any more a hero than any mom who sat up all night with a feverish toddler.

But hey, I'm used to this misplaced hero worship crap... adding money into the mix makes it more insulting. Is your $20 supposed to lift me out of the apparent misery of my life? Is it supposed to be the consolation prize for having a defective kid? Do you think I need a consolation prize??

I do not need or want a pity tip for caring for a child that I adore. I love my daughter. That's right, love her. She's blind, she's delayed, she's clumsy, she's hard to manage at times... but she's also funny as all get-out, spunky, bright, friendly. She's a fighter, the bravest damned kid I've ever met, and I adore her. Oh, and she's better at this whole potty training thing than her normal kid sister. So maybe there's something going on upstairs after all, huh?

Please, don't treat someone's child like a burden. And above all else, if you have to make a big deal out of things you don't truly understand from the two minutes of interaction you just saw, please don't insult me by acting like your money is going to make me feel better.

Friday, July 5, 2013

A New Record...

... For longest time a blog has gone without an update. Did I get it?? Can I call the folks at Guinness?

Ok... seriously... here's a run-down on why I haven't been writing.

* I became Geri's CNA. That meant 6 weeks of intense training and then studying and then testing. It was really hectic and insane, but totally worth it because Medicaid pays me to provide CNA contact hours. These are hours she qualifies for based on personal needs, which would otherwise be delivered by a stranger, but instead she gets them from the person who knows her best and understands her. Me! And I get paid for it! So I have more money to spend on... errr... medical bills. Sigh.

* Big Brother is on visitation with his father's family. It's great, they're great, he's having a blast, blah blah blah... I still miss him like crazy and fight off bouts of faux-pression (when you're super sad so you want to call it depression because "sad" sounds too light a term, but you know that you aren't clinically depressed and you don't want to freak out your friends and family by throwing that word around) and being sad makes me blow off writing. But seriously, he's having fun. He had a great T-ball season and is taking swim lessons and had fun at VBS. I just wish he was doing all that here, with me. Yes, it's a tad whiny and selfish. No, I'm not sorry I feel that way.

* Geri's seizures are not quite under control these days. She still isn't having them super-frequently, but her neurologist and I believe we can do better so we upped her Keppra dosage, which was really low. I wanted her at the bottom of therapeutic range to minimize side effects, so it's not like we were just being lazy, but she's tolerating it well so increasing is ok by me. We'll have to keep tweaking it until it works, which some of you know is the fun part of epilepsy. Which means that if this is the fun part, the rest of it blows. Just saying...

* Listening therapy has been FANTASTIC. It's made a huge difference. Her expressive language exploded after we started it, and that's been fun to experience. She's hilarious! She says to me "I'm stinkin' cute!" all the time, as well as "I'm gorgeous." I'm trying to get her saying "I'm so modest" but she'd rather yell "I work out!!!"

* I had a crazy illness recently, was ill at home for two weeks then hospitalized for six days then ill for another week at home, and found out I have some form of gluten intolerance. Apparently I caught a stomach bug that threw my delicate balance out the door and all hades broke loose in my belly. So now I'm on a gluten free diet. May I just say that this has always been my idea of hell? I'm of French descent, raised in an Italian community... My food groups are "bread", "pasta" and "other." It's nice how there's a lot of great GF baked goods out there, yeah I know, but they are most definitely not the same. Even really good GF pasta is a bit rubbery, and great GF bread is a bit dry and not as soft and spongy and... I should stop. At any rate, it sounds like torment until you factor in the physical discomfort of eating glutens, and then it doesn't seem so bad. I seriously feel about a thousand times better... and this may even be the source of my weird "migraines." So yeah, I'll take it and I'll like it. Just gotta pull on my big girl panties and deal with it.

*We own chickens now! Three of them... Hamlet, Rozencrantz and Gildenstern. We had four, but Ophelia died in a heat wave, which I think is consistent with the play. Isn't Ophelia the first of these characters to die? They are pretty good layers and the kids get a kick out of them. Little Sister enjoys checking for eggs and chasing the chickens back into their run after free-range time. Geri loves it when I catch one for her to pet. She giggles her head off the whole time, which is really calming for the bird... not! But it's cute as can be and I love seeing her have such fun. And the kids are great about the "we will eat them some day" aspect, since we have made it an up-front term. If you ask Little Sister what the chickens are for, she says "Food!"

I can't think of anything else right now, so I'll go to bed. I'm sure there's more that I'm missing, but I'll get to it another time. Thanks, and stay frosty everypony!