Sunday, December 18, 2016

Snowman Sext - A Seasonal Warning

If your boyfriend is in the shower and his phone happens to be near you and he happens to receive a text from another woman that says, "Do you wanna build a snowman?"... be worried. Very worried.  That simple statement and cute snowman icon may seem innocent, but let me assure you IT IS NOT.  That woman does not want to play in the snow and have hot cocoa with your man.  Well, actually she might.  But, afterwards she plans to f**k him.  He knows it. He likes it. It is probably not the first time. He definitely encouraged her to feel comfortable enough to think of sending a Snowman Sext.  So follow that gut instinct that makes you feel sick to your stomach when you read the text. Be smart. Google it.  When you find the definition in the Urban Dictionary, send him packing.  Let him build snowmen with whoever he wants.  He never was good enough for you anyway. Let him go, let him go.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Guy Stuff

Growing up my Dad and my Poppy always took care of all the fixing and lifting and "guy stuff." Now that they aren't around, I realize my children and I have lots to learn! As a single mom raising 3 "not so little anymore" children, I have started to think about how I did a lot of watching and not a lot of doing for many years when it came to house projects, home repairs, and car maintenance. My Dad took care of basically everything!

I remember being about 5 years old and going with him on Sundays to my Gram and Poppy's house to watch him work on cars. Once in awhile I handed him tools and stuff, but I didn't really learn how to take care of the problems myself. Now I really wish I paid more attention to the oil changes and tires fixes, etc.

As I got older I became so accustomed to my Dad or Poppy doing the major fixes around the house that it never occurred to me that I needed to learn it for myself. Even when I got married, my Dad and my ex-father-in-law would take care of repairs at the house for me and Oz. We called one of them for whatever came up - tiles needing caulking, mold in the bathroom, broken furnace, toilet clogs. ETC!

Over the years, Poppy died, then I got divorced, then my Dad died.  The next thing I know I am a homeowner without the know how.

I have been very fortunate lately that the Wild One helps me with House Projects.
As time has gone on, I find that my kids are very interested in everything he does when he is working on  projects.  Vincenzo has said more than once that "he's better to watch than TV."

The Wild One and his Dad "Mr. Fix It"  helped the kids repair their bikes over the summer.  They learned how to put new tire tubes on, fix chains, check brakes, and adjusts seats.   They also got to watch the Wild One and Mr. Fix It work on a go-cart!  My boys were very interested in it all!

And not surprisingly my daughter was right there in the mix, taking mental notes, and turning out to the be one of the strongest helpers. She also complains the least about the work! She quickly figured out that the wrenches had numbers and went in order by size. She was great at finding them and then putting them away again. She was also very excited to be in charge of holding the drill when cup holders got put on the bikes!

Watching the kids so excited to learn new things reminded me of being little and watching my Dad and Poppy in that garage so many year ago. How much fun I had when they let me help. How special it felt to hang out with them and how strong I thought they were! I loved the smell of the garage and the car oil. I loved how my Dad and Poppy both had the strongest biceps of anyone I knew. My Dad would let me hang on his arm to do chin ups.  It cracked me up that he could lift me up like that. They would argue and yell at each other almost the entire time, but you could tell they enjoyed working together on a project.

My kids felt that same feeling the day they got to help with "guy stuff."  It is not that I could not have done it. Women fix bikes and go carts. I could have looked it up online, watched a You Tube video and fumbled my way through it.  Of course.   But, there is such a difference to learn from someone that KNOWS what they are doing.  That hands on experience for the kids was priceless! To be able to touch grease, use tools, and smell the gas from a motor creates a memory.

They still remember my Dad pretty clearly.  The boy especially got to spend time helping him with small projects when he was still healthy.  They got to see him in his glory days!
As he got sick, he was home more and spent tons of quality time with the kids. When he wasn't up for major projects, he still kept the kids busy and Isabella learned to bake cookies with him and make smoothies.

It has been a learning curve for sure over the last 4 years of being on my own. In survival mode for the first 3 years, I just thought about how I needed to work and get food on the table for the kids and keep the bills paid. But, in the last year I have found that the crisis fog has lifted and our new normal is not half bad. We have great people in our lives, my kids are happy and for the most part I hold things together pretty well.  I have been able to move into the next mode now that the I have emerged past the crisis phase.  I can see family vacations being possible again and the house feels more manageable. We ride bikes together.  We enjoy life.

But, I won't say I have done it without help.  It felt good to sit in the sun on that warm, summer afternoon and just enjoy the experience of the kids learning to do new things.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

In sickness and in health and …divorce.

Who would be the most likely candidate to call for help with injecting myself with meds 3 times a week? Umm…my ex-husband?  If you think that is weird- you aren't alone. It started back in January when I knew I would need meds to help with my newly diagnosed MS treatment.  The pharmacy provided a visiting nurse to come out to train me to do the injections. I had used injectable meds years ago to help with pregnancy related complications when I had The Goofballs, so I was not concerned. In fact, when the nurse called to schedule a visit, I basically told her I already knew what I was doing so she didn't need to bother. But, it was policy and blah, blah. SO I scheduled an appointment for her to come to my house.

I didn't give it much thought, but the day before she arrived, the Wild One mentioned that maybe I could video the teaching session so that if I needed help, he or my mom could know what to do. It seemed like a good idea.  Oz was going to be at my house that evening with the kids so I asked him if he would video. He agreed.

When the nurse called to confirm the "training" she told us videoing was not allowed but that there was info and video on the med website blah, blah.  Something like that.

But, she said most people have someone there to be trained to help if needed so if I had someone that could come over that would be great.

When I told Oz there was not video allowed, he said he would still sit through the training class with me and help if needed.

When I introduced my ex-husband to the visiting nurse, she said that was a first for her to have Exes being trained together.

Yeah, I guess it is a bit unconventional.

The class was the longest hour ever, she gave me so much information and paperwork and techniques that I never thought I could keep it all straight. I suddenly felt very overwhelmed.  I quickly found that the "auto jet" injector that is supposed to help make things easier is in fact a pain in the ass and difficult to operate!

I did the very first injection with the nurse there and only messed up a little. But, when I tried on my own in the days following I knicked myself with the needle and wasted more than one shot.

Luckily Oz was patient and and really payed attention to the class.  He did a MUCH better job with the shots that I did.

SO I set up the injection schedule for the 3 days a week Oz is at my house to visit  the kids already. The nurse said most people did Monday, Wednesday and Friday and she thought that I should do that instead.  I stopped just short of telling her to go fuck herself. Then made the schedule I wanted.

I figured for the first week or  2 it would help if Oz could assist.

And then…6 months went by.

Oz went on vacation in early July and that is when it fully hit me that he has been giving me 98% of my shots since January.

The injection sites are rotated arms, legs, hips and stomach. Really the stomach is the only spot I can do without help. I had to stop using my legs because the injection sites would swell up and hurt for a week.The meds burn my skin so the arms hurt like hell!  And I can't reach my hips very well.  But, the excessive fat in my stomach makes it a perfect place for the meds, too fat to feel the burn!

I have talked to other people with MS that have a relative assist them as needed with injections. Or some that have even gone off the meds because the burning at the injection site is awful or the swelling gets to be a bit much.  I haven't met anyone yet that has an Ex help them though and when they ask me about my "support person" they get a really puzzled look.

Even people that know us well have had an odd look when they try to process that Oz is the one that helps me.   I know, I get it. I even agree that it's funny! We are not above the Dr. Oz jokes!

But, I am thankful for the support system I have.

The Wild One has also been great about helping me with the shots when Oz isn't here or our schedules change, etc.  He does a fantastic job with it!

 Even Oz's girlfriend Dorothy is great about entertaining the kids when she is here so Oz can help me.

All in all the system has worked well. But, I know I can't take for granted that my ex-husband or anyone is going to be committed to helping give me meds forever. This isn't a temporary thing. I think in the beginning I thought it was.  Like it would just go away or stop being MS. Or something.
But, it is finally sinking in that this condition is permanent.

At some point I have to stop needing an assist. I have to find techniques that work without relying on someone else.

But, in the meantime I am so very grateful that Oz has stepped up and helped so much! It really put things in perspective and has given me a new outlook as we co-parent together. When he needs flexibility in his schedule or asks me to consult on a parenting issue, I am much more aware of the fact that I am dealing with a person who cares about me and my family and my health. Instead of looking for a fight or thinking he has an ulterior motive every time he speaks, I have come to appreciate that he is a good and thoughtful person. He goes above and beyond his co-parenting duties by helping me even though he doesn't have to. It is good for the kids to see we work together still when it comes to the things that matter.

Despite Divorce we still maintain a family unit that functions, even if it looks a little crazy from the outside.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Something Else

Sometimes it takes temporarily losing vision in one eye to realize that some of your friendships have really grown into what is more like family.  Over  this past Thanksgiving, I wasn't feeling well.  I had a blasting headache and my left eye hurt and was a little blurry.  I had convinced myself it was a sinus infection.  But, my good friend Bethel had suggested I call my doctor before the holiday in case it was something else.  I called and said I felt like maybe I had a sinus infection starting up and they told me the first opening they had was in 3 weeks.  So I continued on with holiday plans. My children were with Oz the night before Thanksgiving so I met up with friends at a local pub to see a band.  The headache persisted and the blurriness seemed worse, but I attributed it to the loud music and lights.  After a couple chocolate martinis….well the blurriness didn't seem that bad.

On Thanksgiving Day, I wore my glasses because my eye hurt too much to put my contact in.  The headache persisted, but family and friends had me laughing enough that it didn't bother me too much.

On Black Friday, the vision was noticeably blurrier.  I mentioned it to Bethel again and she convinced me to get an eye doctor to check it out since my regular doctor's office wasn't open.

I had now self-diagnosed the problem to be a sinus infection that had been aggravated by a ripped contact.

But, the eye doctor said my contact and eye were not ripped.  She said there was swelling behind my eye and she gave me steroid eye drops and said to see my regular doctor on Monday.

That Saturday, lights were bothering my eye.  I met a friend for breakfast and could barely see out of the left eye.

I felt my sinus infection getting much be worse and thought I needed an antibiotic so I went to a walk-in clinic.  The person that checked me out said my eye was definitely swollen. Continue to use the eye drops, take an antibiotic for my sinuses and see my own doctor on Monday.

By Sunday vision was now brown in the left eye and so blurry I wasn't sure I could really see out of it.

I decided if the antibiotics had not worked by Monday afternoon, I would see a doctor after work.

When Bethel heard that, she COMPLETELY advised against that idea of waiting and going to work.  She and her husband called me.  He is an APRN and he said I should go to the emergency room because blurry vision is nothing to mess with it.

I didn't want to go to the emergency room because who would watch the kids, the copay was too high, the wait would be too long and about 10 other excuses I came up with.

But, Bethel's husband had made his point clear - blurry vision is serious.  I should NOT go to work. I should call my doctor and say I need to be seen immediately.

Since everything was very brown and blurry at this point and my head was aching bad. I thought I should listen to advice of my friends and called my boss to say I would not be in for Monday.

Monday morning once I got the kids off to school I called my doctor and explained the weekend events.  They said to come in immediately.

I thought it was great because I could get a stronger antibiotic for my sinus infection.

However, when I got there ~ the doctor restated what Bethel had been saying for days...  IT WAS NOT A SINUS INFECTION!

 I sort of heard her say that and still thought I would drive myself home and schedule the MRI she suggested for some point in time.

The doctor looked at me like I had lost my mind.  Since I could barely see her, I ignored her sideways glance.  Then she spoke to me like I was an idiot and she very slowly let me know…It is NOT …a sinus are NOT driving yourself out of here…you will go right now for an MRI …I will be in touch with you as soon as I have the results.

I did NOT want to hear that. So I stayed in denial, but called my mom for a ride.
She took me to get the MRI.

The whole time I was in that Tunnel of Hell getting my brain scanned I was thinking- "I hope it really is just a sinus infection."

Because the alternatives were scary as Hell!
And… I am a single parent of 3 small children ...and I work full time…. and I have a classroom full of children that I teach. .. they need me.

I did not have time for something more.

Alas, it was something more.

 But, thank GOD it was not a tumor like I had subconsciously been fearing.  My doctor said vision loss could mean a lot of things,  and she definitely had not been smiling when she heard my father had died of Lymphoma in his brain.

So when she called to tell me to come to the Emergency Room immediately because she thought I had Multiple Sclerosis (MS) I was taken by surprise.  Because in my thoughts the MRI was supposed to rule out a tumor, not find something else.

It was supposed to be a sinus infection!

MS?!! What was that?  Shit! I had not really considered something ELSE. Something long-term else.

My friend drove me to the ER and my brother aka "Loser" and his wife met me there.    "Loser" and  our other friend "Lou" are my friends from my college years.  Once back in 1993 we saw a scene from Ace Ventura Pet Detective where Jim Cary said, "Loser" in such a funny way that we have been calling each other that for 23 years! In college, people even thought Tammy's name was really Lucy because I called her Lou. She calls me Lou too! We're a Loser Club and proud of it.

Anyway, that ER visit began a 3 day hospital stay that included bloodwork, MRIs, and Lumbar Punctures to rule out MS.

Or as it turns out…rule it in.

My diagnosis was Optic Neuristis caused by MS.  As months have gone by I have started to learn what the Hell that is and what it means. I learned it's manageable and treatment exists and my nerves calmed. It's not that bad. It could have been so much worse.

But during that 3 days in the hospital and days following, I realized I have the most amazing friends and family and that I am so very blessed!

As soon as the doctor said I would have to be admitted, Loser disappeared for a few minutes.  When he came back I asked what he had been doing. I thought maybe he was getting ready to go home. But, he said he had been ensuring that I would have a private room and he asked for a cot to be brought in so he could set up camp to keep me company.  I didn't want him to be inconvenienced.  But, he insisted he was staying.

I have to admit I was so relieved! I didn't realize until that minute how scared I felt.  A million thoughts were racing through my mind and so many unknowns and all I could think was, "OMG, I am completely alone in this world. Who will take care of me and the kids if there is something wrong?"

I have always felt like getting divorced is like free falling off a cliff without a parachute and you just never know if you will land in one piece.  Having something wrong with my health while raising 3 kids on my own was one of my worst fears.

But, I should have known better. My family and friends rallied and I was FAR from alone!

When I was transferred from the ER to a regular room, Loser already had a cot set up. And about 5 minutes after settling in my mother and 2 aunts came in.  It was 10:30 pm and they were dressed in cute, comfy clothes with scarves and their purses. I couldn't help cracking up! My favorite ladies were there to rescue me! I had tried to avoid inconveniencing my mom or anyone, but they were there because they wanted to be.  I was so grateful to see them!

Loser stayed over and we talked and talked until we finally slept.  We always laugh in any situation so it was great and took my mind off of everything. We met in college while Loser was on the "Student Patrol." He was wearing his fluorescent security jacket and telling people what to do. At first I thought he was bossy and opinionated.  When I go tho know him I realized, he IS bossy and opinionated AND one the most loving and generous human being on the planet! He is loyal and dependable and has never, ever let me down.  My family loves too, so much in fact that they adopted him a few years ago.  Now I have 2 amazing and crazy brothers.

The next morning, Lou showed and camped out for the day.  I couldn't believe it!  I had met Lou my first day of freshman year in college.  She walked into my dorm room and saw me sitting alone and said, "Hi, do you want to be my friend?"  I am always thankful I said yes!! She is my BFF and has stood by me for life.

A little while later, Bethel showed up! I met Bethel my first weekend at college also.  We became instant friends and eventually roommates.  We have always had a ton in common and have not run out of things to talk about yet in 23 years! We spend hours on the phone and quite frankly Bethel has saved my sanity on more than one occasion over the years! She is an incredible friend and if  she was charging by the hour, I would owe her about a zillion dollars for therapy.

It was like a mini-reunion! My Soul Sisters stayed with me throughout the day of testing and bloodwork and made the day entertaining.   Loser checked in and out on us all day and had us laughing.  He even stopped by while I was in the MRI and the x-ray teach told me how lucky I was to have such a protective brother! SO true.

Throughout those days in the hospital and then while recovering at home, I had much to be thankful for!  My eyesight came back 100%!! And my "Big, Fat Italian Family" and so many friends rallied around me.

For only the third time in my 41 years of life, my mother was scheduled to go away on a trip.   I wanted her to go. She needed a vacation. I was really fine. But, she as worried.

Fortunately, she works in the hospital and Loser, Lou and Bethel stopped to see her and reassured her that I would be fine and they would stand by me and take care of me.  With their encouragement she felt comfortable keeping her plans.

And my friends kept their word!

Many others helped out too.  My cousin stayed at my house to take care of the kids overnight for days, my coworkers called, stopped by to visit and took great care of my kids and students
at school.  Another one of my cousins visited and checked on me each day and my other brother stopped by to  keep me company.  Even neighbors reached out. I  had so many phone calls, texts, emails and get well cards! People dropped off food, drove me to doctor appointments and even helped me administer meds I needed at home.  Oz jumped in to help to by staying with the kids and helping me get adjusted.

MS is a thing I will figure out about as I go. It's treatable.  I'm sure there will be some learning curves ahead. But, now I know I will be ok no matter what because my kids and I have our "Village."  Our family. Our friends that have become family over the years too. The way it all works out is really something else!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Wisdom from my Baby Doll

Dating with a family of young children can have some challenges. I have learned some lessons over the past year, some more than once. My children have learned too. It always amazes me just how smart they are and how much they understand. Dating with a family is interesting. For starters, everyone has an opinion. My kids are each so different and have their own interests and concerns and things that they like or dislike about people. They also have hectic schedules and live with me full-time which gives planning a date a whole new meaning. Especially when dating someone with their own young children.
Between coordinating time and going through the clearance levels of all co-parents/Exes involved and then actually finding a day, time and activity that works for everyone. Well... you arrive at the moment and there is the reality of actually managing a crew of small children with only 2 adults.

Finding someone that's good with Netflix and take-out dinner works well for me and the schedule of my little ones.  When we do go out with the whole Crew my children like the fun activities like go-carting, bumper boats, or long drives in the country.

But, along with the fun times there are struggles too.  Those are the times that I tried to protect them from. I worry about them getting attached to a man that might not be around long term. But at the same time they are with me all the time so they are going to meet people that I care about. And sometimes they will care about those people too. Sometimes arguments happen and/or relationships end. Children are aware of it all no matter how hard you try to shield them.

One of my friends told me her Ex gets concerned when she introduces her daughter to a boyfriend because he doesn't want her to learn that men leave.


But, the reality is people leave sometimes. And...Single Moms date. Women with children have the right to have people in our lives, but with that right comes great responsibility.  Our children deserve honesty. There is a fine line between not introducing a new person because it is too soon and outright lying to children when a relationship is ongoing.

I try to balance it. They have only known one person that I have dated since I've been divorced. He has been in and out of our lives over the past year and a half. They know him enough to care. But, not so well that he is part of their daily lives.

The difficult part of dating as a family is that you are trusting someone with your childrens' hearts. When the relationship ends it affects them.

Since I have known the Wild One, we have taken "breaks" a few times.

Sometimes it affects the kids and sometimes they barely notice.  It depends on the degree of the incident  that caused the Time Out and the duration it lasts.

 The last time we were on a "break" in the early Fall, my kids didn't get to say goodbye to him or his children. We didn't see him for a month.  At first, I didn't mention it. I just let him fade out. My sons didn't seem to notice that we hadn't seen him in a while. Although one of them asked about his son on a regular basis.

But, Isabella is a little different. I was worried because she seemed to get more attached. She liked to have dinner with us when he visited, she thinks he's funny and looked forward to spending time with his children. One time Bella asked to call him to say goodnight, but it went to voicemail and she was too shy to leave a message.  After that, she never asked again.

When I first started having him around the kids, I had tried not to encourage any type of dependency on him. I didn't want the kids to think we needed him or had to count on him for anything. Despite that effort to assure everyone of my independence and capability,  my boys started to think that anything that goes wrong around the house we would just call him and he would fix it. Which was true, but I didn't want them to think there was no other way for me to handle things on my own.

Over time, I began to realize it is ok to need someone and to rely on them. As I came to that conclusion and became more comfortable asking for help when I needed it, my children opened up too.

At one point right before our "Autumn Break,"  the Wild One had made Isabella a promise. Trouble had been brewing in our relationship and I was afraid he would break his promise to her.   He told her he was going to to build her something for her birthday and even showed her the designs he had drawn. She was excited about it.

But, a few weeks before her birthday we took a break and the promise broke too.
When I told her that she was not going to get the gift that had been discussed, she handled it very well.
She was helping me scrub the tub at the time.  She just shrugged and said, "Well we have other friends that love us and that's what matters."   Smart little lady!  She just scrubbed away any disappointment she may have been feeling.

He had called and offered to fulfill his birthday promise to her, but in the moment I was being stubborn and refused his offer.  I wasn't ready at that moment to let him back in.

Eventually the Autumn Break ended and The Wild One has been back in our lives.  Isabella was more cautious this time around. She took longer to warm back up to him.  She still thinks he is funny and still loves when his kids visit.  But, she wasn't seeking him out like she did before.

She is wise beyond her years and instinctually knows to protect her heart.  It bothers me that she is learning this lesson so young.  It amazes me how children really learn what to expect from people based on their actions.  The old saying is true…actions speak louder than words.  The more the Wild One shows he is reliable, the more my children accept that he is. But, with caution.

Recently the Wild One made it up to Isabella by going out of his way to do something very thoughtful for her.  She was very appreciative of his effort. The next day, she was struggling with assembling something and decided she would leave it to the side to ask for his help next time she saw him.

 Faith in someone is a beautiful thing to see restored! However, it makes it all the more heartbreaking when the relationship ends.

Life lessons are tough. Dating with a family involved is tough.  Trusting people is tough.  But it can be worth it!  New people add new ideas, new opportunities, new experiences.

People do leave, relationships end. People argue and sometimes see life differently. There might not be a happily ever after every time. Maybe it is not about protecting children from that idea that makes them better?  Maybe it is about  teaching them how to be resilient that makes them stronger? I want them to know that caring about someone is worth taking a risk. I don't want them to be afraid to love and to trust and to enjoy the people around them.

Maybe it's a good lesson, maybe not.

Either way I am going save money for when they all grow up and need therapy and blame me for everything that ever went wrong in their lives just in case.

Monday, January 4, 2016

EVERYthing is Mama's Business

When I rifled through the pockets of a jacket forgotten by Oz, it caused quite a debate with the Goofballs and raised some interesting questions!  In my defense I did not intentionally pick through his pockets.  I was cleaning and found a small, thin puffy jacket on my couch. I assumed it belonged to a child or a woman.  As I was guessing who it's owner could be it never occurred to me that it was Oz.  I held it up and felt something in one of the pockets and at the same time the children, aka The Goofballs, noticed what I was doing. They started saying, "that's Daddy's jacket."  When I proceeded to pull small items from the pockets it raised their attention and they came storming over. Immediately they repeated that it belonged to their father. Still disbelieving that such a tiny, thin jacket could belong to a man, I continued to look at the pocket items.  At that point, Isabella could not stand it any longer and said, "Stop going through the pockets! That jacket is Daddy's and it is his business!"

Excuse me small child that I gave life to???

I took that moment to gently remind The Goofballs that anything that was in my house is MY business including the humans I made and anyone or anything connected to them in any way.

They disagreed very much.  But, I reminded them that I had spent a decade of my life with Oz and created an entire family for him so his abandoned pockets and anything in them are also MY business.

I could not help laughing at their protection of Oz and his "business!"  FYI- the only things I found were a Dunkin Donuts gift card and chapstick. Not exactly state secrets. But, I appreciated their thoughtfulness in protecting his privacy. I only hope they will extend me the same curtesy if ever needed. Especially since they live with me and spend almost all of their time with me and therefore know much more of my "business" than their fathers.

The jacket search however, did raise some interesting questions. Cenzo immediately seized the opportunity to remind me that I had been married to Oz for quite some time and then he asked the dreaded question…."Why did you get divorced?"

We haven't really had that question in a long, long time.  The kids were little when we split up. The boys were 5 at the time and barely remember that fate changing day 3 years ago when Oz moved out and Bella was 2 and barely remembers him ever even living with us.

So it was interesting, in a gut wrenching and devastating way, to hear that question from my sweetest little guy.  Especially since it was the week of Christmas. The most dreaded of all holidays for their single Mama.

Since I was blindsided and ill prepared, I bravely faced the 3 children and told them "Life happened to us and we didn't make it through the difficult times together."

Then I waited for about 3 breathes until I could speak again and asked if anyone had any other questions. THANK GOD they all said no!!

If they had said yes, I was prepared to offer them Oz's chapstick and gift card as a bribe to get them to stop asking me heartbreaking questions!