Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Catch up

Yes, I've been remiss on keeping this thing up to date.

It started as putting it off until I could get the pictures working.  Then, it got put on the back burner as we burned up the last of summer vacation trying to alternate between squeezing as much as we could in and relaxing.  Those final days of August were a blurry blend of the end of summer and the start of the school year as I began work, while Matt took some much needed vacation time to assume the role of house husband.  Since that first day of school, it's been one day after another of get up, work, go home, work, get up, work, go home, work.  There have been some minor illnesses - colds and allergies - changing schedules and new extracurricular activities.  Rooms have been painted.  Gardens stripped and torn out for the fall.  Windows replaced. Christmas shopping started.  The winter woolens are pulled out and the drawers and closets are all being switched, swapped and scoured.

In no particular order some quick takes to catch up....

1.  Matthew has adjusted to 6th grade beautifully.  He's getting to be such a young man.  His dress and manners have changed.  There are girls.  But no dating.  Not allowed.  He is on student council for a second year, still crunching numbers in honors math and blowing his horn in band.  In addition to 6th grade band, he is participating in the jazz band.  Karate is going well and after his long, exciting baseball season he's looking forward to some hockey time (on the xbox).  I think he's looking forward to the winter off from lawn mowing - although, I expect that will be shortlived relief when he sees the impact on his spend envelope.

2.  Josh is changing too.  He hit 9 and the moods can be more surly and the temper a little short.  He's not a baby anymore, but not quite a "tween".  He's nearly fully caught up to his brother in height - which does me no favors in the closets and drawers.  Third grade is now departmentalized, which as a plus means the language arts are tiered more according to ability.  He's finally not completely bored.  Not completely.  He'd still rather just be left alone with his books.  He's learning that just because he doesn't like math, it doesn't mean he's bad at it.  He definitely isn't fond of math.  It's like putting on deoderant.  He does it because Mommy makes him.  He has his karate and guitar and piano, but nothing new.

3.  Matt's been unbelievably busy at work.  In fact, it's probably been nearly 4 weeks since we've had a normal night or a normal weekend.  His phone goes off, he's logged in, up in the middle of the night, first thing in the morning and sometimes right until we crawl into bed - much later than we should since we both have work the following day.  But he did manage to finish up the painting in the half bath and the living room.  The crown molding will be another project.

4.  Halloween costumes are made an ready to be worn.  Matthew will be Darth Vader, a suitable follow up to last year's Anakin.  Joshua will be Ash from Pokemon.  His costume is mostly storebought pieces.  He can wear the ball cap and the puffy vest anytime.  But I did spend a week knitting pokemon balls.  I just finished Matthew's Darth Vader cape and breast plate last weekend.  I finished my own pokemon hat yesterday, to go with the Pikachu t-shirt I found.  Matt is going as Obi Wan Kenobi again this year.  Since, Matthew has to serve 5 o'clock Mass Halloween night, we'll be in costume, going straight from Mass to trick-or-treating.

5.  My work is going well.  My hours are shifted to the afternoon which is working out better than I anticipated, minus the exhaustion of going straight from job a to job b.  We are using a new literacy system which I actually like a lot.  I find it very easy to use and hope that I see my kids progress with it.  At the same time, I have separate skill groups still using 2 systems we used last year.  I also work an hour in 3rd grade math.  All together, I do both math and literacy.  In literacy, I'm working with 3 very different programs.  In a four hour period.  I still have a half hour block that I'm waiting to be assigned.  I'm very busy.  I've brought work home on more than one occasion to get ahead on my planning.  If Matt is busy with his work, he doesn't say anything - he's too busy to really notice.  If he's not completely tied up, I hear about it.  He reminds me I'm not a Catholic school teacher anymore.  I'm hourly, not salaried.  All true.  I'm hourly.  I'm union, apparently.  I'm technically only an aide.  But I'm still a teacher.

6.  I have students who worry me, students who frustrate me, students who I need to sit on (figuratively), students who are easy to cheer on, students who think they're cute, students who think they're dumb and I have one who makes every other teacher call him Louis.  But I get to call him Louie.

7.  My stress levels have been high.  For many, many months now.  My body likes to find new ways to react to this.  The latest is I get itchy.  The psoriasis goes haywire, that's normal.  But all over itchy.  Tums has become a nightly habit and my dreams are awful.  Mimi hasn't been doing well.  We noticed a shift over a year ago.  Things have been a steady decline since.  It's most noticeable in her memory.  Her balance is off.  Sometimes she struggles trying to think of a word she wants or a name.  The "what's his face" isn't a joke anymore.  Repeating something 3 or 4 times in succession isn't uncommon.  Matt makes a weekly walk around of her car checking for new unexplained damage.  It's always someone else's fault.  It never really is.  The bills aren't being paid, so we have to find new ways to decline dinner invitations when it's not in our budget to pick up the tab that week.  Every time her credit card is declined, it's new information that we need to re-explain.  I worry daily about the phone call that her electricity or water isn't working and she doesn't know why.  I worry every time my phone rings that it's a call that she's been in an accident or something has happened.  She failed a driving test in September, but the letter from the Dept of Transportation officially revoking her license hasn't arrived yet.  Yet.  We think.  Obviously we're never really sure of what's arrived or not.  Until this last weekend, every time we tried to talk to her about what her plan was she got irritated and defensive.  She'd throw out any letter and just not answer the door when the Sheriff came to get her license.  This weekend there was a small - and hopefully not temporary - break in the clouds when I asked.  After explaining again, reminding her of the test again, she said that nothing has come so nothing will.  I said it could take up to 6 weeks, it's going to come.  She stopped and said, "I'll have to move."  Yes, Mimi, you'll have to move.  What I haven't been able to come straight out and say, what's not my place as the grand-kid, is yes, you need to move.  You need to be in assisted living.  You can't live like this anymore.  This is dangerous and something is wrong.  I can check off right down the lists and warning signs of vascular dementia and possible minor strokes.  But I can't make her listen.  To go to the doctors myself would be going over the heads of those who should be.  Asking the difficult questions, listing the facts and putting the troubles right out there has got me grief.  I'm rude and disrespectful.  I don't know how to keep the peace.  If simply asking the questions and communicating the obvious gets me such criticism, I can't imagine what would happen if I disregarded legal and social protocol and just took matters in to my own hands.  The most painful accusation is the failure to keep the peace.  My family, oddly enough both sides, is so concerned with keeping the peace.  It's keeping the peace that allowed a vicious cycle of verbal and emotional abuse to go unchecked.  Keeping the peace allowed a prescription drug problem to spiral beyond control to even now an indefinite end.  Keeping the peace is what tore the family apart, and slowly pushed each member of our family out the door.  Keeping the peace isn't any way to live life or foster and care for relationships and family.  I don't keep the peace.  No.  But I do pick my battles.  I didn't realize I was waging war when I chose to battle for  Mimi.  As an adult, I have valid and well founded concerns and questions, I spoke like an adult and expected to be spoken to like a adult.  I expect communication.  I didn't expect or anticipate the criticism I received - delivered through channels and not even to my face.  And with the growing and very real threat of a serious stroke, accident or tragedy, I thought I'd have support where I obviously don't.  So I'm stressed and with the weather turning colder, thoughts of the coming winter and still no plan to care for Mimi, to intervene, to assist or to help here my stress won't get better.  We're the ones that get the phone calls from the neighbors, dig her out of the snow, get the panicked phone calls when the utilities go out and freeze every time we hear a nearby siren and jump and stare whenever the phone rings with an unfamiliar number.  We're the first line of defense, with no power, no authority and nothing we can do.  We have a bucket half full of water and we're just supposed to put out fires.  We can't take away the matches, just watch and wait.  Put out the fire.  Raise the alarm.  Then get backlash.  To be told to sit down and shut up.  And hold your bucket.

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