Christmas Countdown Out of Whack

Well, I’m terrible at updating the countdown this year. But we have done all sorts of fun things.

Day 11: Pick out ornament for the tree (2012 was Cat in the Hat, 2013 was Tow Mater, 2014 is Minnie Mouse) This was the first year that Miss Punky picked out the ornament herself. Its going to be a very Merry Minnie Christmas. Literally. She has asked for only two things from Santa. Minnie Bike and Light Up Shoes. I have the bike in the works (her godfather is painting an old bike we had) and the light up shoes I got for her are Minnie Mouse and the bows and hearts light up. She’s going to love them.

From her moms so far I have gotten her a zebra print Minnie Mouse bath robe, because she’s so dramatic about being cold when she comes out of the tub and dries off. The small walk to her room or down the stairs in just a towel brings on the jitters and shivers. Its pretty darn adorable. I also found the cutest Minnie Mouse duffel bag for traveling and it comes with a sleeping bag. So when we go visit my family, she will have her own bag to take! Just like a big girl.

So – Minnie Mouse is the theme of this year.

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Day 12:Angel Tree and Senior Tree at Walmart. Walmart always sponsors children for Christmas. Kim and I have been picking stars off the tree for several years. This is the first time Miss Punky picked her own star. A 6 year old girl who wanted a baby doll and stroller. Miss Punky picked out the baby doll and I added the cheapest stroller(cause we aren’t made of money) to give to the little girl. Our bank sponsors seniors. I always try to take one of those as well. Punky picked a Grammy instead of a Papa and we bought their wish list item of art supplies.

I always feel bad that the paper ornaments with all the senior citizens on it are not usually touched. In fact, when I went to put the gift in the their collect box, there was trash inside of it, but no gifts. When we went back to Walmart the end day of the collection, there were still the same amount of ornaments on the tree. No one ever thinks of the senior citizens – at least that’s the way it looks. It’s pretty sad.

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Day 13: Kim’s grandfather’s union always has a Christmas Party and he gathers all his grandkids and great grandkids together for chili and nachos at 9am. We adults are getting to be a little less steel stomached for it. But they have Santa and pictures and lots of great things for the kids to do. Its a nice time normally. I didn’t get to attend, because with this midnight shift, I have been sleeping in late. So, I’m not in the family picture with Santa. But! Miss Punky is sitting on Santa’s lap! How exciting is that development?!

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Kim, Mrs. Claus, Santa, Uncle Eric, Punky, and Aunt Ashley

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I very small portion of the very large Italian family that I married into. They are all the grandkids and great-grandkids and their parents.

Day 14: We colored plastic ornament balls with sharpies for our neighbors and their kids as well as her godparents. She had fun just scribbling and it really added character to the gifts.

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Day 15: We filled the ornaments with hot chocolate and then delivered them to their new owners. They are lucky they got any marshmallows though, because she kept putting them in her mouth, instead of in the ornament!

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So that’s what we have been up to so far. I have also mailed all my Santa Letters this year. I dropped them in the mailbox to be picked up yesterday, so they are on their way to all the kids on the list. 140 of them this year!

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We have 9 days til Christmas. This has been the most interactive holiday with Punky – the one where she has participated, started to fully understand that this is a holiday, and really gotten into the spirit. I can’t wait to keep on making traditions with her!

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On This … Our Wedding Day.

Which was not to be.

We didn’t get married. We didn’t call to check on the status. Instead, I drove home from my parents’ house 3 hours away with a carsick toddler who had to pee (potty training) every five minutes down the highway.

By the time we got home, I had stopped at no less than 4 gas stations and hauled a toddler and her portable potty chair ring into their bathroom. Sometimes she went, sometimes, she had already gone. Thank goodness for pull-ups on long car rides.

I also got to clean up puke on the side of the highway. Lots and lots of puke. So much puke that I had to change my kid, wipe down the seat, and then put her back in it. Puke in the hair, puke on the hands, puke on her most favorite blanket. But, once she was done puking and all cleaned up, she was better. Feeling better enough to keep watching her movie.

Mommy was tired. Worn out and tired.

We had a nice visit with my family though. Lots of nice times and sweet moments. And it took my mind off the fact that we weren’t getting married. I got to spend time with people I love and people who were equally as disappointed that we weren’t getting married.

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It’s nice to have supportive family who love us so much. I really is. Of course, there are some well wishers and people who really do mean well – but let’s just say the one thing not to say to console a person who CAN’T GET MARRIED is to tell them that marriage is just a piece of paper.

Or that we don’t need a piece of paper to know how much we love each other.

That’s not the point. The love isn’t the point. This marriage, this paper that so many straight couples (who I love dearly and I know meant no disrespect) take for granted gives so many rights and privileges that we don’t have.

So, actually – yes. WE do need that piece of paper. To make our lives complete and legal and as equal in the eyes of the law, we do need that paper.

In order for Kim to make medical decisions on my behalf without the hassle of courts and lawyers and still the possibility of a judge declaring its not legal. We do need that paper.

In order for us to be equal parents to our daughter, make decisions in all aspects of her life – financial, education, medical – we do need that paper.

I think people forget, or they are just not aware of the many rights that you are afforded when you get married. It’s not about declaring your love to someone, we’ve been doing that for 11 years. Now, it’s about the same rights. The same standard of care we should be getting from our government in the form of taxes, spousal benefits, and guardianship of our daughter.

Its the legal aspect that means the most.

So do I need a piece of paper to tell the world I love the woman I have been with for the last 11 years? No. That’s a given.

I know the phrase “Its just a piece of paper” is one given out of love and consolation. One that is supposed to make us feel better.

Unfortunately. It only means that there are still people in the world, people who love and support us, who don’t fully understand the ramifications of our being unable to marry.

It’s not about religious beliefs. It’s not about love. It’s not about some ceremony or tradition. Its not about procreation or even raising a kid in the ‘right family.’

You can read about what it’s really about: It’s about the rights we don’t have.

It will come and I think that’s what is so frustrating. This delay is just a delay. An unnecessary waste of energy, time, and emotional heartbreak. In the end, what is another month, really? What has changed? Not much.

Other than the idea that we should have been getting married today. And we didn’t.

Road Trip to Visit The Fam

So with  my uncle having his seizures lately and then as soon as he came out of the hospital my grandpa fell off his lawn mower and broke his leg above the knee – we thought maybe it might be good to go visit. We haven’t visited for some time, my family lives about 3 hours away. So, its always a ‘treat’ to visit.

On the way there, we started with excitement. Two semi trucks had rolled over in the median and then one was splayed across the other highway, luckily we weren’t on that side! The roads were blocked and the cars were stopped for at least 15 exits, it added another 30-45 minutes to our trip.

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With the smell of soybean (my hometown is pretty much the capital of Soybean Production) and this bumper sticker, I knew I was home….

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When we got into town, we got to spend some time at my Grandma’s house waiting for her to get home for dinner from the nursing home. While we waited for her to come home, Miss Punky got out the toys and talked to Grandma “Scotch” (Scott) on the phone. Is it just as weird for you guys as it is for me that Punky won’t really know what that phone is when she’s big enough to use a real one of her own!?

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My grandparents have a lot of land full of just grass and trees. Punky wanted to go outside, so we went out and had a little modeling session. She’s been having a lot of those lately! (before our trip, Miss Punky had the opportunity to get her pictures taken for a local designer’s clothes with a local photographer. I will be plugging both of them on the blog as soon as I get the pictures from the shoot and I am allowed to share them!)

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Then my grandma came home. We actually stayed at her house this weekend. She and my grandpa are usually in Arizona when we visit, so its nice to have a chance to hang out with them and spend some great time with at least my grandma!

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I asked Kim after this picture if she wanted to have two Punkys. We both decided it was a bad idea to inflict this much cuteness and attitude on the world TWICE.

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On Saturday we had a great time a my nephew’s SuperHero Fourth Birthday Party. I helped his mom with the decorations and planning the details. We had some good times, and Punky got to spend some time with her cousins. It was fun all around!

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The newest addition to our cousin clan in this generation is our sweet sweet nephew Archer. He’s the first baby of my brother and the star of the “Littlest Avenger” over at my sister-in-law’s blog. My little Punky Monster took quite the liking to the baby and made her moms nervous that she may start asking for a brother or sister. Not happening. For sure. No, we aren’t changing our minds!

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We had some really cute decorations and it was pretty much a hit.

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After we spent some time at the party, watched my nephew open all his presents and spent some fun times in the photo booth, Punky and I went to visit my grandpa in the nursing home. He broke his leg right above his knee, so it was sad to see him in that wheelchair. He has the onset, or full-blown depending on who you talk to, Alzheimer’s. Last time I went to visit him, he was confused as to who I was, and it makes things a little difficult to figure out how to explain who Kim is – so while she loves my grandpa and would have loved to visit too, she didn’t want to upset him, so she stayed home while Punky and I visited with my grandpa. I don’t really know if he knows who I was, he was pretty quiet, he did a lot of smiling and nodding and I don’t really know how much he retained.

Punky spent most of the time climbing on this particular chair and looking out the window of the very first nursing home she ever visited. All the older people were very excited to see her and she of course charmed them with her smiles. She was wearing her light up shoes, stomping through the dining hall – they just got a kick out of her.

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After the nursing home, yes – we are still on Saturday, and Yes – we did a lot of running this weekend. We headed out to my dad’s house, one of the houses I grew up in and hung out with that side of the family for the rest of the evening. Their air conditioner went out, so it was super hot in their trailer.

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But we had a nice time visiting and hanging out with them, my step mom has Lupos so she’s usually pretty ill and not feeling well, she was sleeping when we got there, but boy did she get up when Punky came in the trailer, because she’s smitten with our kid and that just makes me so very happy!

Punky also met her first rat during this visit. My goodness… she kept wanting to hold the rat, and then when Kim would put it on her or would try and help her feed the rat, she would FREAK out. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have no room to talk, I wasn’t holding the rat for sure! But, it was kind of hilarious to see her curiosity and then fear and then curiosity again.

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So Saturday down on the very long weekend and Sunday was just another really long day! We love visiting with  my family but by the end of the weekend, it is just sooooo tiring. Sunday was full of more cousins, more parties, more cake and more dinner.

Sunday morning, my friend and fellow blogger over at “A Redhead’s Guide” was so kind to meet us at a local park and take some super awesome pictures of Punky. She chased my spirited kid all over for about an hour and I think we got some great shots. Especially with all the movement she made and the sneak peeks she posted on her Facebook page, makes me super excited to get the disc in the mail!

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Her Aunt Brittany brought that dress home from Florida for her older cousin. Its a maxi dress for a 7/8 kid – like for real? My kid isn’t even wearing a ‘toddler’ dress. Her necklace is also from Florida, brought back from her Aunt Jourdan (godmother) – its a little big for her, so I always tie it shorter around the neck. And of course, she looks beautiful, I’m not at all a modest mommy.

Jeebs, I made a pretty baby with a little work, lots of love, and a tremendous amount of luck!

After her little photo shoot, we did visit with my dad and family again. We had another smaller version of my nephew’s birthday party with that bunch. Which really consisted of my dad riling up all the kids and making sure they were all good and sugared for their moms later.

As you can see, Miss Punky just isn’t sure about all the rough housing. She’s pretty timid when it comes to that stuff and really she’s not really sure how to play like that. Her cousins are wound up most of the time, I’m not sure how my sister doesn’t have a perpetual migraine every day of her life and again, I am reminded why I only one the ONE!

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The end of our trip was full of roast and potatoes at my grandma’s and a ridiculous game of Pictionary with my mom on the Xbox 360. We had a blast over there, as we usually do, hanging out with my. Punky was so very interactive with everyone, but she definitely loves her Grandma Stacie and Grandpa James. It was great to see her interact with them and really get to spend some quality time with them!

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My stepdad introduced her to the spoonful of peanut butter and warheads. Neither of which got the reaction we were expecting! She came back for seconds and thirds of both things.

All and all – our trip was a success, we really had a great time and for the first time in her little life, while there were a lot of names to remember and people to remember  – she did a great job interacting, charming and of course making my family fall even more in love her with spunk and spirit.

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 ….

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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