Adjustments and Changes Coming Soon

Of all the memories I can think of my childhood, very few would be considered “normal”. Very few would be considered “happy”. I’m sure I had lots of happy, normal childhood moments, and yet, I really can’t remember many. I bring it up, because of all the childhood memories, I remember one so vividly , at least the emotion that it sparked in me at the time – that sometimes I have to wonder if I made it up.

As I come out of Punky’s room after 45 minutes of cuddles, rocking, singing, and back rubbing – it reminds me of a time when my Mom did the same for me. I don’t remember the specifics, I couldn’t tell you which house we were in, I can’t tell you how old I was. But I can remember trying so hard to fight off the sleepy feeling as my mom rubbed my back, skin to skin, for how many minutes, I have no idea.

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I knelt next to Punky’s bed, as she was hysterical tonight, not wanting to sleep, scared, just being stubborn, who knows, but she needed some Mommy time. We are a cry it out kind of family in most cases, but I have been extra sensitive to her neediness since the move. She’s been more clingy, more whiny, just more needy in general. She’s also more busy than normal, she doesn’t want to settle down -there’s too much to talk about, too much to do, too much to see and take in.

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While I rubbed her back, humming and making up the lyrics to a tune I didn’t know – I thought about what my Mom was thinking all those years ago. When she was rubbing my back. When she watched me fight the sleep, shushing me and whispering to me to close my eyes. What would go through her mind as she tried to help me fall asleep? Was she worried about missing what was going on in the room next door? Was she overwhelmed with overflowing love for me in that moment? Was she so exhausted that she didn’t really have a thought or time to think about anything specific?

I don’t remember singing, though its possible that occurred. I don’t remember much other than a slow motion sleepiness that happened when I asked her to rub my back and she would roll me on my tummy and sit on the side of the bed until I fell asleep. As a mother now, I haven’t quite mastered the staying long enough to ensure that Punky is fully asleep, but she’s drowsy enough to get to sleep minutes after I shut the door.

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This isn’t her actual bed, but she looks adorable on the baby shower gift Aunt Ashley and Grammy made for someone’s new baby coming soon!

Punky went back to school today, a banking error on the daycare’s part, but its caught up now, so I won’t protest too much. She was delighted to go to school and I know the adults in the house were delighted to sleep in, take a little break and make the day a quiet and peaceful one. She came home from school full of stories about her friends and playing outside, complete with green paint in her banks and glitter on her cheeks. Its nice to have her back in school.

This is my last week with day shift at work. I will start working 1-midnight and contrary to what other people think – I actually picked the shift! I am looking forward to it. I worked it about a year ago with my interim supervisor role and I loved it. I get to see Punky in the morning/afternoon and can take her on early play dates to the park or the library. Its also a 10  hour shift, which means that I will only work 4 days a week with rotating 1 weekend a month. Its the perfect and ideal situation for us. Kim and I have both discussed it and decided with our many doctor/therapy visits – a day off during the week is going to be great.

It will also give me time to decompress during the week. This Monday through Friday 8-5PM is supposed to be a dream job spot for most people, its just not working out for me and I am slowly, well no …. quickly feeling the candle burn out. So a few new change and routine will do me some good – my therapist agrees.

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The changes keep coming for Miss Punky though and I’m not at all delusional in thinking this won’t be a shock to her system. She’s tough – I know toddlers are more resilient than we give them credit for, but I feel like all the changes are overwhelming her delicate little brain and emotions. She’s just so clingy to me right now – but hopefully, this will mean I get to spend MORE time with her instead of less. I may not be able to put her to bed, but I will be able to come home and eat dinner, maybe read her a story before bed.

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Kim’s health is doing better, thank goodness. It was quite a scare for a while. But she has gotten the use of her legs back and her Lithium levels, I believe, are back in the normal range. We are getting into a routine and its about to change, but we can only do what we can do and so for now – I will be thankful that she is better health wise – as as good as she can be. We are happy, anxiously waiting for Missouri to overturn the ban on gay marriage. I’m planning a wedding for my friend, but I’d really like to be planning my own wedding!

In other news, my Uncle had some sort of stroke on Tuesday, I don’t really have all the details. he’s no longer in the hospital and I talked to him this afternoon. He seems as well as expected, tired but alive.

My grandpa fell off his tractor a few days ago and broke his leg right above the knee. He’s currently in the hospital, my poor grandma has been running around taking care of both of them! He’s been showing signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s for quite a few years now and it doesn’t bode well for his condition. They all live three hours away and I don’t feel like I’m getting enough information to feel comfortable about being away. But they tell me he’s out of surgery and doing as well as can be expected as well. They will be moving him to a nursing home rehab center to get some help with walking, like he doesn’t already have a hip replacement as it is.

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So, while that stuff is all scary and the changes just keep coming, the adjustments are being made and we are rolling with the punches life has been dealing out. That’s all one can really do, right? Hang on for the ride…. we are hanging on ….

Surprise Visits, Starting School Again, and Lots of Playdates

We got a knock at the door last Saturday around 8:00 PM and it was my Mama. I was so excited to see her. She didn’t tell me she was coming and it was quite a great surprise. We were just getting ready to put Punky down for bed and they saved her from bedtime. She got to stay up for another 30 minutes to an hour longer than normal.

My mom and step dad live about 2 and a half, three hours away from us, so we don’t get to see them as often as I would like. I was really missing on my mama too! And, my step dad doesn’t generally venture of his own comfort places, so it was a great big deal that he came with her on their adventure.

He actually played the XBox 360 with Kim most of the night, but my Mama and I got to sit on the beds in our basement home and just chit chat. We played some games. They don’t have internet and don’t have a computer or Facebook or anything fancy on their phones, so when I pulled out the Nook and we played some “brain games” my mama was having a blast.

We didn’t get to bed until late, like 3 in the morning!

We, meaning Peyton, got up around 7:45 this morning and we were watching some TV while the rest of the house slept until around 8:30 or 9. It rained last night, so the wagon was kinda full of water, but Grandpa wanted to take Punky for a ride in the wagon and after much convincing and wiping down the wagon from wetness and she got in the wagon and went for an early morning stroll.

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Miss Punky isn’t really too warm and friendly with men she’s not been around much, but she really took to my step dad and it was a little shocking. I haven’t seen her warm up to a man that quickly. There are very few men she lets take her and do things without needing her Mommy or Mama to be around her.

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My mama and I took her to the bookstore for some new books. I am looking forward to purchasing some of the books we saw online though, where they will be cheaper!

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Before they went home again, we took them to the fountains out by City Hall and let them play in the water with Punky.  Its a great free activity for the kiddos in the heat. And of course, Miss Punky loves it!

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My step dad doesn’t usually come when my mom makes one of her rare visits, so it was a treat to see them all three together! I don’t usually spend much time with him, he’s kind of a homebody and tends to stay to himself during our visits too – he’s just quiet. So, it was awesome to get some time with him as well and I know Punky enjoyed it!

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We talk to my mom on the phone frequently, but she wasn’t really interested in talking on the phone – she doesn’t really know them very well, we don’t get to visit as much as I would like. But since they have gone home, she has been talking about them quite a lot and she can recognize them in pictures which was not the case before.

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So, in the move, we now have a backyard to let Punky play in – so she gets to be outside a lot more than she was before. Not to mention that she starts school again on Monday, and I’m so happy about that.

The other day, Punky’s aunt figured out a way to give her a TBall stand. So we spent a great deal of time outside hitting the ball with a bat. She’s not super great at it, but she’s super cute at it regardless!

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I just can’t get over how incredibly big she is getting. She’s so vocal and she has quite a mind of her own. This morning, she told me “I want to go potty training”. I have no idea where she got that from, but its adorable that she is articulating her wish to potty train. For now, we are not quite ready yet as moms, but we will get there. Right now, she will come to the bathroom with me and she will sit on her potty, so she gets practice.

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We also went to the first playdate of the summer. I know, I know – its halfway through summer. But with all the moving and crap going on, we just haven’t had time to do anything – or rather, Mommy has been too tired. But with Punky being out of school for almost a month, its been making me sad she doesn’t have companionship other than adults and I set up a park play date.  The kiddos in her age group have all been hanging around each other (well Punky has) for a little over a year. Its nice to see her grow up with kids, regardless of how often we see them!

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This week has been full of collages. I love this one of Punky and her very best playmate, I call her Cheeks on the blog. She’s pretty cute and shy, where Punky is more adventurous and loud. I just know they are going to be the best of friends, though I have a feeling …. when they get older, it will be my kid doling out the bad advice and being the bad influence!

Facebook feed was full of some collage challenges, which while they don’t mean anything, I thought the sentiment behind them were nice. I participated in both challenges.

SO, we had the “Super Mom Challenge” – you post pictures of you and your kid or cute pictures of your kid.

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And I don’t know what it was called, but the challenge was to find 5 pictures you thought made you look beautiful, so I had to break into the archives, back when I was a little more interested in having my picture taken. Normally, I’m the one taking the pictures, behind the camera, for a reason.

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So overall, we have been busy, keeping busy really.

I am headed to a baby shower for Kim’s cousin this afternoon, and I’m sure it will be super cute and who doesn’t love celebrating new kids coming to their giant Italian family! Literally, there’s a new baby or three every year. Its exciting and overwhelming the larger the family grows, the louder it gets at family gatherings!! Its so nice that I have seen a lot of these kids grow up though, its pretty astonishing that I have known them since they were little bitty and now there are a few graduating this year or just overall getting bigger! But I suppose when you have been with someone for 11 years, you invest in the family too and I most certainly am grateful for all of them!

The move has been pretty seamless – so far, I don’t have any complaints …. well, except that Punky doesn’t want to eat dinner. We have been asking that she take 1 bite of each food on her plate before she can have dessert. So far, she’s had no luck with this and has gone without dessert more times than she’s had it.  Otherwise, we are getting into a nice routine (I can’t speak for Kim!) and I think its going nicely.

I should have made a summer bucket list like the rest of you, but we have just been so distracted, its not been on the radar, maybe next year!

Oh and PS. If you don’t know the words to the “Hotdog Dance” from Mickey’s Clubhouse, you are missing out! (AKA: I envy you….)

Settling In and Smoothing Out

There are hard parts about this move and the transition from independence to the changes that we have had to come to terms with. I like to think the hardest part right now is that we had to take Punky out of school, because we got so backed up on tuition and it now needs to be caught up. It will get there, but it is a sacrifice that I am so very sad about – she was starting to thrive socially, her teachers kept telling me how much more she was talking and interacting. She’s a shy kid and she’s not exactly a social butterfly – especially when she started school, so to hear those things – made me so happy! And, now, we are back to an only child being at home with adults.

The good part about the move is Miss Punky is sporting the best tan on a toddler I have ever seen. Seriously. Grammy has a small pool and our little fish is out there in her swimsuit as often as she can possibly get an adult to take her out there. She goes on trips to the park with Papa in the wagon.

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Yea, we have a park – literally in our backyard. Do we live in the basement, yea, but we also live in a neighborhood. Last time I pulled Punky around in the wagon – over to the park that is pretty much right across the street, I got to thinking that we didn’t have this when we were living our apartment. We had a cluster of apartment buildings, but we didn’t have ‘neighbors’ or kids playing in the streets. We didn’t have houses to walk past and she didn’t really see lawns being mowed.

Another silver lining, new things to explore. Of course more thing to hurt ourselves on. I fell down one of the three sets of stairs today and busted my knee and threw my camera on the concrete of the garage in the process. I am currently wearing my knee brace, but I think I will live! Punky’s lip is healing up nicely, this morning it was scabbed over, and I was resisting the urge to pull it off, it fell off by itself this evening before dinner.

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My little monkey is such a little curious thing. So it was great to see her be able to explore and enjoy herself. Its super hot, so when we get the chance to make it to the park in the early hours of the day – when it is cooler outside, we take the chance. She finds all sorts of great things to play on and I love capturing the moments. With a pool and a park in our backyard, this summer may be the best yet, no matter where we live!

 

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Another weight lifted off my shoulders this week, when my FMLA was approved for my absences as work. It means that for all things that have gone this last year, my job is being held for me. Thank goodness it was approved. Without it, I likely wouldn’t have a job and I am not dismissive about the fact that there are a lot of things we need to work on and I have a plan in place – but its a weight that makes me feel lighter and a little more free.

With all the weights getting lighter from my shoulders, it feels like someone else is holding onto the reigns and keeping me afloat. My heart isn’t as heavy and for now, I will let someone else push me. (AKA, Miss Punky was insistent that she push me on the swing, no she did not want to sit on the seat, Mommy, you sit and I will push you.) Silly as it is, but being pushed on the swing – really gave me a sense of freedom and it was great to hang out with my little girl in what feels like the longest time we have ever gone since the last time we spent time together.

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We get to spend more time together lately, and with the basement being a smaller space, we spent it closer together. I really do love coming home from work and the three of us going down into the basement and sitting on my bed with  my little girl and talking about what she did that day. We don’t spend all night down there – we sit down to dinner with Grammy and Papa, that’s different for us to, cooked meals and sit down at a table together for dinner, we didn’t do that at our home. So many good things are changing as a result of something that may not have been so good.

Kim and I have things to talk about again. I mean, I can come home and we can just decompress and talk about our day and talk about something other than the mundane and same old thing. We have conversations. We are closer. The metaphor of the small space, the closeness of the basement means we are all becoming closer, bonding and in a way, regardless of what I expected – its a great outcome for us, so far.

 

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Of course, we have only been here for three days – its still the beginning and I have no misgivings that this will be the way this situation will stay. I am sure there will be days when the closeness is the last thing I want, when the lack of private space is the last thing I want, when the constant companionship is something I will want to get away from and have no where to go. But, for now, its just calm and comforting.

We are making new adventures. New memories. We are building new hopes and new plans and new situations. We are exploring, growing and expanding and in all of it, my only hope is that we can bring forth a sense of strength, courage, and determination to our daughter. She doesn’t have to know the circumstances of our situation, the analogies of the bottom in the life we are in right now  - she doesn’t need to know the tears shed behind closed doors or the decisions made in the conversations we have in the dead of night – in the whispers words we speak in desperation of what’s left for us to do.

Instead, she will only know happy. She will only know the memories and the joy. I will only allow her to know the light and the peace and the childhood that she is to have. She is not a grown up and by whatever means necessary, she will not have to be one as soon as I had to be one – I will keep her little and I will let her be a child for as long as I possibly can keep her that way.

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Being a grown up is over-rated and believe me when I say if I could figure out how to go back and make that part stop, be a child longer, savor the playful moments longer, linger in childlike joy and entertain my teddy bears and Barbies just a little more – I would! Alas that’s not allowed, once you are grown up, there’s no turning back and I will not force my baby to grow up. I won’t.

So we are making the best and we are slowly getting out of the holes and smoothing out the bumps. Its not a fix all and its most certainly not the end, but the beginning is looking bright.

Oh and as a side note, all heavy shit aside, I am so proud and pretty darn excited that my kid loves Minnie Mouse and Batman equally! ;) Its a pretty fantastic thing to me. Raising a kid without stereotypes is my ultimate goal and so far, it’s working out. She thinks for herself and that’s just the way we want her to be!!

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The Bumps In Our Road

The first of these lyrics hit home on me right now.

“Let it go,
Let it roll right off your shoulder
Don’t you know
The hardest part is over”

And in the end, that’s all I need to keep remembering. Kim was so sick we really thought she had a disease that wouldn’t be curable, our car was repossessed for a few days last week, we were near eviction from our apartment, and we are now in the basement of my in-laws; but the hard part is over. It really is. No matter what I wish the circumstances were right now, the path to our destination may have twisted a little and taken a different path, but we will get where we want to be – regardless of the bumps in our road.

Kim is feeling much better and on the road to a speedy recovery back to her old self. With much help from great people, the car is out of repossession. We have a great bit of family that was able to get us moved out of our apartment and into the basement before Monday – when the eviction would be going to the lawyers – saving us thousands of dollars and issues with our credit.

This is likely the lowest we’ve been and yet, as I sit on my bed, in our new home surroundings, I have never been more hopeful for a brand new start and a weight has been lifted off my shoulders – the worst is over, the hardest part is over.

We got a  storage unit, which is filled to the brim, even though we tried our hardest to throw out a lot of the things I’ve been holding onto for a very long time. Luckily most of my ‘sentimental items’ are digital and now backed up on my 1TB hard drive I got for my birthday. We had so much more stuff than the storage unit will hold, so we will probably have to upgrade the storage unit, blah! For now, it’s in the garage, taking up more space, because it won’t fit in the basement with us.

Here’s our new home, of course, there are some things we still have to unpack and whatnot, but so far its getting to be a little homey and comfortable for the time we will be here. **The beautiful model on the couch is my love, Kim!**

Living Area:

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Dining Area (behind the living area):

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Bedroom Area (Next to the Dining Area:

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And yes, we do have two beds, because Kim and I are old so-to-be married lesbians and frankly, we don’t share bed space or bedding well!

While down here hanging out the first night, Miss Punky was jumping on our beds, like normal and her shoes tripped her up and she fell head first into the concrete floor. She bit right through her bottom lip and it was pretty darn scary and I know it was painful – it bled forever! She tried to eat pizza last night for dinner and it kept burning her lips, she was so upset, that really is her most favorite dinner time meal. By morning, it had at least scabbed over a bit, but it sure looks like a nasty war wound, poor kid!

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With the move has come with transitions for Miss Punky of course. She doesn’t fully understand what’s going on. She actually sleeps two flights up from us, in the nursery for the grandkids. They have a bed up there already and it was less cramped down here in the basement if she slept up there. Its a change for both Mommy and Punky, as I’m used to her room being right NEXT to mine and I could hear her if she cried or woke up.

And while we use the cry it out method for the most part, its hard not to get up and make sure she’s alright in the middle of the night, when you have three flights of stairs to get to her. Not to mention, that she really doesn’t know where her moms are in the middle of the night or how to get to them, which in my mind, my anxious Mommy mind, its scary and traumatic for my baby girl.

Our apartment was her only home. Its the only home she has ever known. She’s two and she confused. She keeps telling us she wants to go home. She doesn’t fully grasp the idea that we are already home. We brought her down to the basement with us for a bit tonight and she knew that Mommy and Mama’s beds were down there, the familiar things from home are down here – but she still doesn’t fully understand that Grammy’s house is now her house too.

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I know she will get used to it and its not going to be damaging or traumatic for her, but as a Mommy, a stressed out Mommy, it makes me sad that she has to go through such a confusing time – moving out of the only home she’s known and sleeping in a bed she’s not used to, surrounded by a room that’s not familiar with all her toys in storage, except for her most favorite Baby Ellen and a few comforts from “home”.

Of course, the Nook with her most favorite game “Toddler Shopping 2″ is also here, and she sure loves that game. If you have a toddler and they like playing with apps, this is an app to try. Its so simple and I don’t have any idea what the appeal is, but she could play with it all day!

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Its an adjustment for us all – but I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I really appreciate all my blogger friends and my family and friends in our personal life that have given such beautiful and much needed words of encouragement while we all three come to terms with the path of our lives right now – and helping me see the silver lining where it is! I really am feeling much lighter as a result of your kind words. That’s why I love this community of bloggers!!

Besides … with a smile like this in your view, who could be sad for long!

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Barely Afloat

I am pretty sure there is little else I can put on my shoulders right now, on my metaphoric plate of life. Literally, one more thing may cause me to topple over and explode – turn to dust, ash, disintegrate. And at this point, maybe that would be better.

In the last few months, I have developed what my therapist is calling Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia. If you don’t know what that means, it means I am reluctant to leave my house – which is affecting my work attendance. By not attending work, affects our finances, as the only person making steady income to support our bills. Which means, we are very very behind on every bill we owe, including rent. A contributor to the reluctance to go to work is Kim’s health has been on the fritz lately, and I know I have discussed it here before.

She was having trouble walking, stumbling around, losing function in both her legs and her arms. She was becoming clumsy, dropping everything, the grip in her hands were gone. She was finding it difficult to see, focus on anything in her vision. She couldn’t hold our kid. She couldn’t help take care of her and it made me nervous to leave the house and leave the two of them without proper support.

It was starting to scare the shit out of me. Every doctor we went to see sent us to a new doctor, racking up more and more debt that we don’t have money for. When we Googled it, which remind me again, not to do that, I know – I know – we found that all the symptoms really pointed to something neurological, Multiple Sclerosis to be exact.

However, what we found out instead was Kim had developed Lithium poisoning. And Lithium poisoning is no joke. It can mess up a ton of things in the body and affects the body much like other neurological disorders.

We found out that due to her bipolar medication, Lithium, in three months, her kidney function was cut in half. She was being poisoned by the medication that was supposed to help her. This contributed to the symptoms that we originally were concerned may have been multiple sclerosis. The neurologist had her Lithium levels checked and they were well beyond a safe range and the psychiatrist took her off the medication for a bit.

So, while, currently we are seeing some improvement since she has been taken off it, she is still experiencing some of the symptoms on a smaller scale – like her hands still shake, but she is at least able to sign her name somewhat legible now. And, we are happy to know that she doesn’t have MS, but instead she was being poisoned.

**Which I know sounds terrible, perhaps even the same kind of terrible, but at least it’s been caught and likely reversible! I am trying to look on the bright side here!**

After the last three months of craziness with Kim’s health and my concern for leaving her alone with Punky, I wasn’t going to work and was focusing on taking care of things at home. What does that mean? It means we are so far behind in our bills and finances that we have to move out of our apartment and go live with Kim’s mom in their basement. Yes. We will be basement dwellers with a two year old. I’m so very not pleased about this, mostly because I feel like such a damn failure as a person, a partner, and a mother.

I’m 30 years old and we are going to pack all our things and go live with her parents. It continues to sadden me. I am so grateful that we have this option and we aren’t instead on the street somewhere, but it’s really a very humbling experience to know you can’t support your family or your kid the way you want to. I am still very grateful to have the support of her family around us right now when things are so out of whack mentally and physically with both of us. We both decided to break at the same time!

I’m also disappointed in myself that I allowed myself to wallow in self-pity for so long that I broke our finances and was no longer able to be counted on to be a provider for our family. So while this is not the most ideal situation I would want us to be in, we will have more support from Kim’s parents while she is on the mend from her ordeal medically and I will be feeling more confident in leaving them alone – so that I can go back to work and start making money again.

Luckily for us, and one of the prouder moments of my last few months, Miss Punky isn’t the wiser of what’s going on. Its always my concern that she will never knew the struggles we go through – not like I did when I was growing up.

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Instead she doesn’t know what’s going on, but she’s still going to school, which we have had trouble paying the tuition on, but I just can’t let it go, yet. And she’s making friends and her teachers say she has really come out of her shell a lot! How in the world do I take that away from her!?

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She’s interacting, exploring and overall thriving in her toddler-age and that is something I am most excited about. So even though we have some troubles right now, the bright light of our life is always Punky, even when she’s driving me nuts – with whining and tantrums – a little hug or cuddle and my heart is unburdened a little and my spirit is uplifted just a bit more.

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We are in the process of packing up our belongings and finding a storage place to keep them for maybe 6 months or so, hopefully by then we will be back on our feet and house hunting. Rental houses, but house hunting nonetheless. I really don’t want to live in an apartment again. I would love to have Punky living in a house with a yard, where she can grow and thrive and play. And … maybe get that puppy she’s been asking for, thanks to her Mama’s suggestions!

So, while we are not really on the path I would like to be on for our future, it will only be for a small bit, a little while and in the end, the goal is to be better than we were to start with. Hopefully. Here’s to a big hope. So while this post may be full of what I feel like is overwhelming depression, we are wading in a pool of uncertainty, I’m not even sure where to begin – the future is in sight, the goal for better things is in our minds, but it sure does feel like a long way away!

Maybe Miss Punky will keep our spirits light by learning to play the piano! Or … just banging on the keys of the piano she discovered at Papaw’s house.

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22/52 – Father’s Day and Water Play

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This pretty girl has declared recently “I not a baby anymore!”

Which, neither of are really sure what that means, to Punky, but we know what it means to her mothers.

We aren’t supposed to sing songs for her, she will do it. We aren’t supposed to help her dance. She will do it. We can’t help her put her socks on, Punky will do it. Moms are allowed to take her shoes off for her, she’s got it.

We also can’t make presents for her Papa/Uncle Day without her assistance. So, she got to put the presents for her uncles and papa in their bags and stuff the paper in as well. This year they all got custom chocolate Hershey’s bars. Mommy made the wrong dimensions and we had to improvise, but it was still cute!

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For her Bubba (godfather) we made him a Moonpie Tower, because he loves Moonpies and of course was over the moon to have them! But of course, we had to try them before we made the tower!

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Papa got a T-Shirt with this ironed on it and it was a pretty awesome hit! Immediately worn when unwrapped, which is pretty much every year, since Papa gets a new shirt every year! Suppose it’s better than a tie!!

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Overall, Papa/Uncle Day was a pretty good success. After the festivities of presents and BBQ, it was time for the kids to get in the pool for some water play and swimming. Punky is really loving the water right now. Its great that her preschool has water play on Tuesdays as well, so they have her bring her swimsuit and they explore different water type activities, this week it was running through the sprinklers.

So, she loves her goggles and swimming at Grammy and Papa’s house, so they spent the afternoon browning in the sunlight – and swimming up and down the pool.

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And at the end of the day, Papa/Uncle Day wore out my kiddo and her Mama! This is by far one of my most favorite pictures ever!!

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Father’s Day In Preschool When There’s No Dad

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Father’s Day is Sunday. I read about how other people handled Father’s Day in their own lesbian homes and everyone is a little different. Some people are celebrating their day by giving Father’s Day to their partner, while they have Mother’s Day. Or others who don’t celebrate at all. Or some who explain what it is, but just that other people celebrate. And then there are some like our family.

We celebrate the men in Punky’s life. It’s lovingly referred to as “Papa/Uncle Day” and its a super special time. It really does keep in our minds how lucky Punky is. How loved she is and how many male role models she has in her life.

And then there are days like yesterday that squash the ideas and my happy little bubble.

I picked up Punky from school and she had painted a tie picture for Father’s Day. When her teacher handed it to me, I smiled and said thank you. It was super cute and when I picked Punky up in my arms and asked what she made she replied with:

“I made it for Daddy.”

Insert stomach drop here. Heart sinking feeling. Disappointment washed over me.

“Can we give it to Papa, sweetie? You don’t have a Daddy, but you do have a Papa!” I suggested an alternative and tried my best to curb my anger at the tone of my voice.

This whole thing had put me in an awkward position. I was having to vocally tell my two year old she doesn’t have a Daddy. And why? Because all day, or at least while they were painting, the teachers (who know she has two moms) were repeating over and over, what I am sure they thought was a simple and non-offensive phrase, “Let’s make a present for Daddy.” 

I am absolutely sure this shouldn’t be as big of a deal as it is to me. I am extra sensitive right now – I have noticed, with all the stress of Kim’s health and how that has effected us in regards to childcare, finances and just daily life – I’m pretty snappy.

I didn’t bring it up to her teacher at the time and I probably won’t, because by the time she goes back to school, Father’s Day will be over and it won’t matter. It will be a whole year before we have to deal (wishful thinking here) with the whole Daddy thing again. The only reason we are dealing with it right now is because of the holiday that is coming up.

Kim tried to get me to logically see that this wasn’t an issue. It’s Father’s Day. They didn’t think about. Blah Blah Blah. But, its not just Punky who doesn’t have a father. I mean there are plenty of kids who don’t have dads in their lives. They have deadbeat dads, actual dead dads, or any number of other types of families. I just felt like they should have been more vigilant in their wording.

We have a specific way we refer to her donor, and it’s not Daddy. She’s only met her donor once, before she could actually remember meeting him. She doesn’t know what it means to have a donor, she’s fucking two. But, the last thing I want to have to do – is try and explain to a two year old what a Daddy is and why she doesn’t have one and other people do.

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Its probably just because I’m in a funk, and its effecting me more than I should let it. More than it really needs to. But, the last thing I ever want Punky to feel is “left out” – especially on a holiday that the freaking whole nation celebrates in some way. Which is why we came up with Papa/Uncle Day. It’s her way to giving presents still and celebrating the holiday without having to discuss “Father’s Day”.

So, I guess for now, its not as big a deal as I wanted to make it and I am not going to freak out on the teacher. But, it does remind me that our family is different and it also reminded me that people don’t really take into consideration that my child may need different things when it comes to holidays.

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There are a ton of Christian people who ask why atheists get so ‘uptight’ about their religion being taught in public schools or religion being brought up outside of the church. It’s the same concept as what I’m talking about in regards to Father’s Day.

Not everyone celebrates the same. Not everyone believes the same. And while, I have no problem with my daughter being exposed to other things and I’m not asking that Father’s Day be banned from school – I am asking that we take into consideration that one phrase or one belief is not depicted as the only way or the RIGHT way to say the phrase or believe the belief.

When I heard her say “I made for Daddy.” it was a definitive phrase, like there was no one else that tie painting could be for. Like she wasn’t given any other choices. But she has other choices. So, instead of narrowing the field and bringing on just one word in regards to the holiday, expose kids to differences, let them explore and learn different ways to celebrate, include everyone’s beliefs and everyone’s version of the holiday.

So, just like religion being introduced to my kid. I am not upset that she was exposed to “Daddy”. I am upset she wasn’t given another option to consider. Just the same for church. I don’t care if you talk to my kid about Jesus or God. I don’t care if she’s exposed to it, I want her to be able to explore on her own – but I also want her to be given the choice to explore more than just the one choice and be told it’s the only choice there is.

Because in the end, there’s just not one right way in any subject, its all perception and circumstances. She needs to be able to make up her own mind. And, yes, she’s only 2 so this is a little deep and a little heavy for me to be thinking about – but damnit, it really bothered me.

Now, I need to figure out a better way to head this off before it becomes an issue when she’s older, when it may actually effect her in a real negative way.

21/52: Tired, Stressed Out and Broke – These Are The Days Of Our Lives

With each passing day, I’m starting to feel like we are drowning just a little further into the abyss of stress. The full weight is felt on my shoulders, crushing me to the brink of insanity.

Miss Punky has become increasingly more contrary. She’s less than polite lately – almost as if she’s completely forgotten the words “Please” and “Thank You”. She’s up at all hours of the night again, she woke me up at 3AM, 5AM, and then at 7AM. She hadn’t had a BM for three days and was running a 103 temperature yesterday, so silly me, I got up each time.

All she wanted was cuddles and few minutes of rocking before she was out again. But, she screamed like she was in pain. She was crying like she was scared. She broke my heart in a way she hadn’t when she was little and we did the crying it out to start – and believe me, standing outside the closed door while your baby is ‘crying it out’ is its own kind of heartbreak!

We are the type of parents who lay her down in her room, give kisses/hugs/I love yous and when the door is shut, for the most part, unless she’s sick, we don’t open the door. It’s the best way we were able to train her to sleep and it really helped all of us get more sleep when she was an infant. (And I credit crying it out to our little one being a champion sleeper) Suddenly, she’s less of a champion and I’m more of a coddler as she gets older!

With all the health stuff going on with Kim – we just really decided that perhaps potty training isn’t going to happen right now. We tried for a day and a half, but seriously, it wasn’t going as I would have liked. Punky is interested, she loves wearing panties and she loves getting stickers for her chart.

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But, we can’t be consistent right now. Its another stressor on Kim and I that we just can’t handle any more on our plates. So, for now, we wait. We continue with pull-ups and helping her be vocal on the need and want to go potty.

I’m starting to feel like we are “less than” parents though. She’s so interested and she really is taking it to it when prompted. We just … our routine is off, our days are off. I’m taking off work more than normal to take Kim to doctor’s appointments or to take care of Punky when Kim is feeling less than able to care for her. Kim and Punky spend more time than normal outside of our house, at my mother-in-law’s house which isn’t our house which can make potty training difficult right now.

Until we get all the tests run and figure out everything we need to figure out for Kim, health-wise, we just don’t need to take on something else. Even if I sometimes feel like we are delaying Punky’s development somehow.

My therapist says we need some time. We need more support. My therapist is telling me that I need more support. We aren’t really the type of people to ask someone to take our kid for a day or a weekend. Ugh.

This last few weeks have been tough. Someone suggested that I blog the good, the bad, the not too ugly – so well, I’m doing that. Its depressing, complaining and overly not cute at all! I just hope with the doctor’s appointments we have tomorrow and next week will help us sort out what we are looking at with Kim’s health.

Then maybe some of this stress will go away and we will dig ourselves out of this hole and float to the top of this ocean I’m drowning in right now!

Just wish us luck, send us some positive thoughts, calming vibes, whatever to help my nerves be less shot and my attitude be less than snarky!

Off to the Potty Races!

Punky has been vocally more interested in telling us that she is “poopy” or “I hafta pee” in the last few months. I have been hesitant on the potty training front before because we don’t have a washer and dryer in our apartment and it is just going to be a mess. I’m sure of it.

However, everything I keep reading says when your child is ready, things will fall in place. And just like when we used to think “we need to wait until we are ready to have a baby”, I thought, “I need to wait until we are ready to potty train.”

Except … when is any first time parent really READY to potty train. I mean seriously? There’s never going to be a ‘perfect time’ to potty train.

With Kim’s health right now, still uncertain and very much up in the air, I have been increasingly more hesitant to potty train Miss Punky – but as kids around her age are starting to potty train and little girls in the family are starting to have potty charts and such, I figure, now is as good a time as any to get started.

Tomorrow morning, we wear panties. Big girl panties. I bought some when she started school a few months ago, and she has worn them over her pull-ups, but she’s never actually worn them alone.

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She’s been able to communicate so much better lately, she’s speaking in full (semi-coherent when she’s not whining) sentences and singing up a storm. Just this afternoon, I caught her singing a choppy version of her ABCs and it was pretty much, give or take a few letters, on tune and in order. Miss Punky can also count to 10! Its just awesome how much she has blossomed in just a few months from her second birthday.

I’m hearing more and more “I do it!” when it comes to get dressed and undressed. So, Kim has to keep reminding me to let her do it and she will come to me when she wants help. Even when she tries to put her head in the head hole of her shirt instead of the bottom of the shirt first. It’s just nuts to watch the trial and error and the extreme frustration that comes with learning basic skills we adults take for granted.

In other news, Kim has a neurologist appointment on the 20th. Fingers crossed that her ailments aren’t something severe. for a 31 year old woman, she’s falling apart, my love is breaking down and we could all use a few positive vibes (and if you are my mama, prayers in lieu of positive thoughts) sent our way for healthy results to the next few weeks and less stress on me!

In even more news, state by state is knocking down their bans on gay marriage, congratulations to Wisconsin. I sure can’t wait until Missouri makes it that far, but of course, I won’t hold my breath. I am sure we will be the last belle to arrive at the ball! Instead, I have been putting my creativity to use, making super cute bridal shower invitations for lesbian weddings. I’m so excited about the new line int he shop.

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I’ve just been super busy in the shop coming up with new ideas and of course, I am always looking for new themes and ideas!

In the meantime, I’m all ears for tips and tricks on potty training a toddler, a two year old girl to be more specific!! Give me a shout, I could use a little words of encouragement to keep my sanity in check this coming week, for more reasons than just the potty training!

Think Before You Speak – Questions That Erk Me

In honor of Mombian’s 9th annual Blogging for LGBTQ Families, I am writing up a post I have been meaning to write for some time now. As always, my goal of this blog is not only to document our lives and the growing up of our Punky Monster, but also to get the point across that we are just like everyone else.

Yes. We are atheists.

Yes. We are lesbians.

And Yes. Our daughter is still healthy, loved, and nurtured.

So, I wanted to pick apart the questions I get asked pretty regularly. I’m an open book. I have always been an open book.

**See Unconventional Conception if you don’t believe me! I tell that story – in person, without hesitation to anyone who might be curious enough to get into the gritty details of our conception story. (You’d be surprised how many people want to know the details and then regret it when they learn them!)**

Which means that I answer cordially pretty much any question about our family, our parenting styles, our religion, or our lives in general without much hesitation. That doesn’t mean I don’t get annoyed by the frequent questions that are bordering on over the line, I may not voice it, but perhaps, there might be some tact that people could exercise before asking these types of questions.

1. Who’s Mom?

Look, I try real hard not to make this awkward. It always ends up poorly. The very definition of ‘lesbian mom’ means the kid has TWO moms. I also attempt to really think about the fact that its probably really intended to be “Who carried your daughter?” which may be a valid question, it’s still presumptuous that the mom who carried Punky is her “real mother”, which is not the case.

No matter the law, no matter the tradition or the ideals of the world around us, we are always both her mothers.

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2. Does She Look Like Her Dad?

Well, again, I will define “lesbian mom”. Two moms. No dad. I mean, I know there are plenty of lesbian moms and families with two moms that do have contact with their donors. The donors are called all sorts of things, including Dad or Father in some family dynamics.

But, we really shouldn’t assume that. For my own family, we have contact with our daughter’s donor. He is and always will be a very special man in our life. We aren’t super close, in that we visit or hang out regularly, we don’t even talk on the phone or text message in regular intervals, but he will always have given us a gift we can’t ever thank him enough for.

He is still … not her dad. To most people it seems harmless, it seems like its no biggie, a slip up, not offensive. But … it is offensive. To my partner, to my daughter. It overshadows the very definition of my daughter’s family dynamic. The family she knows.

He’s wasn’t there holding my legs as I was pushing her out of a small hole. He wasn’t up with her at 3AM singing a made up lullaby in those first few weeks, so I could get a little sleep. He’s not catching her as she jumps without warning towards his arms. That’s Kim. And much more.

Basically, while it may seem harmless, it confuses my kid and I anticipate it will confuse her more as she starts to understand that some kids have dads and she doesn’t. When she really notices that she her family is different from others. Do me a favor. Its already going to be a weird conversation for me to have with my kid, don’t confuse her more.

(And if you ask anyone, she really does look just like me. I got myself pregnant is the joke around our family and friends!)

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3. Aren’t You Worried About Her Not Having A Father Around?

You know, I had a dad around. I still have a dad around. I love him to pieces, but he hasn’t always been the stand up dad that traditional June Cleavers are married to. Frankly, my dad has helped mess me up and I’m still in therapy working through the issues I have because of actions, a result of emotional distress in my childhood from having a father.

Do I think having a father is a bad thing? No.

But, do I think Punky absolutely has to have a father? Absolutely not.

We have discussed it before – Punky has more role models than a little girl could possibly had! She has one hell of a godfather in her life, who loves her to bits, like his own kid I would surmise. He is already planning on taking her hunting (which I will probably fight when the time comes), fishing, and teaching her how to do things with cars.

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I have no doubt my brothers will teach her all about comic books, video games, badass underground, never discovered local bands, and how to take the perfect picture of her poop (yes, that’s a thing).

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Kim’s brother is sure to bring a culture of motorcycles, tattoos and fast cars.

I know her grandpas have a wealth of knowledge in work ethic, humor and silliness, and overall doting and caring for her.

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And all the men in her life are sure to teach her how a man is supposed to treat a lady and she will be able to raise any man she dates to the standards they set in her eyes for her future mate. And should she, (personally, I hope not) be a lesbian, she will learn how to treat a lady right as well.

4.  Isn’t Punky Confused About What To Call You?

Okay, so this is a valid question. However, there is a much tactful way to ask it. Perhaps something like, “What does she call you? What does she call her other mother?” I have been asked, “Who’s Mama, Who’s Mommy?” That’s also acceptable. Some lesbian families have all sorts of different ways we help our kids distinguish between two moms.

We decided to sort of guide her in the process of picking a name, but not choosing the name for either of us. She just settled into Mommy for me and Mama for Kim. Both of which we are thrilled with. She’s not confused, because she doesn’t know anything other than having two moms and calling us what she calls us.

Its normal to her, no confusion – thanks for asking!

5. Isn’t It A Concern That She Will Be Teased Growing Up?

This is a very good thing to be concerned about. I don’t know if all lesbian or gay parents are worried about this. I know I was. I still am. I have been concerned – sometimes that we actively thought to have a child, in a world where having gay parents, being gay in general isn’t completely accepted (check out the states still banning gay marriage, HELLO MISSOURI.)

And then I remember that there are several states striking down the bans on gay marriage and it means that acceptance and tolerance is coming around. I put into perspective that Punky is only 2, she’s in preschool, where kids don’t care if she has two moms, her teachers are incredibly supportive and all my mommy friends want to meet Kim and if she wasn’t agoraphobic, they would with no issues.

So in the end, by the time she is school, real school, my hope is that kids will be taught about love and acceptance. That their kids will taught by parents the different ways to make a family, the different kinds of parents and family dynamics out there.

I am getting less worried and more optimistic. This question is a well meaning question, but it can be seen as presumptuous. It could be interpreted by some that you think I’m selfish for ‘daring to bring a child into an intolerant world, just to get bullied.’ I’m sure that’s not the intent, but it sure can be misconstrued.

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These are my five pet peeve questions. I will always answer them, and they aren’t altogether offensive. But when I answer them everyone is then made to feel awkward. I’m uncomfortable, the person asking is uncomfortable because they made some ill-conceived, usually well intentioned faux pas.

So in the end, I’m more annoyed by the uncomfortable air around the question and the answers and the awkwardness that ensues around the whole thing.

Think before you speak, think about how your words may be interpreted. I won’t ever say out loud that your questions are offensive, stupid, or hurtful – but rest assured, I’m probably thinking it.