Thursday, August 28, 2014

A Long Day

Today I have been to Kansas and back.  My father called on Tuesday morning to tell me that my grandfather - his father - had suffered a stroke and passed away in the wee hours before dawn.  So I've lost two grandparents this year.  My dad's mom is the only grandparent still living.  But I digress.  I was just glad to be able to be at the funeral today; in a way it's a consolation for not yet being able to find a job.

We all rode up together, my dad and my stepmother and my sister and I.  He picked me up around 7:15 this morning, and we arrived in his (my) hometown a little after 9 a.m.  It may be in another state, but it isn't that far away time-wise.  It was a pleasant drive up, and when we got into town we immediately located two of his sisters and some of my cousins (and some of their spouses/kids) so we could travel together out to the cemetery for the graveside service.  We were early, but there were already plenty of people there, and more trickled steadily in.  By the time we were herded over to the tent, I would say there were 100-125 people in attendance, mostly family but a good number of people from town as well, and I don't quite think the officiant knew what he was in for.  After the officiant read the obituary and a couple of Bible verses, my Uncle Steve (I have two Uncle Steves, but this is the one I'm biologically related to) stood up and said a few words in his role as self-proclaimed family spokesman. And even in the midst of telling serious stories, the brothers and sisters (see pic)...

My dad and his 11 siblings

… couldn't resist taking the odd shot at one another or sharing even more tidbits.  Laughter at a funeral - who knew?  To be honest, I think my grandfather would have approved.  He didn't believe in dwelling on things.  If there was something to be done, you got up and did it.  His work ethic was one of the things that got passed on to his kids… and subsequently, most of his grandkids as well.  If I do say so myself, we're a fairly successful bunch.

After the service ended at the graveside, nobody hurried away sad and forlorn.  We stayed and talked, despite the heat (we were all grateful for a breeze), and then we all headed to one of the local churches for lunch.  It was LOUD with all of us in there, but it was a good sort of loud.  There was talking and laughter and hugging and yes, sometimes tears, but mostly it was just a good sort of get-together with lots of catching up.

I'm back home now.  The drive back home was nearly as good as the drive up (my sister and I were happily be-bopping and singing along to various 60s tunes in the back seat), and while I would absolutely love nothing more than to stay on this couch with my feet up, I can't.  Doodlebug is resting in his room, and Boo will be home soon.  I'll fix them some dinner, and then Doodlebug and I are going to attend the OneRepublic concert tonight.  I really don't want to go because I'm so tired, but I've made a commitment.  No sense dwelling on things.  There's something to be done, so I'll get up and do it!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The First Couple Days

So the children went to school on Thursday… and Friday, but of course I was far more nervous on Thursday.  What if they got on the wrong bus or missed their stops coming home?  What if Boo had an anxiety attack in the middle of the day?  What if Doodlebug was late to class or couldn't get his locker open or …

What if, what if, what if.

I took both kids to school in the morning and discovered that the schools really didn't work together particularly well on the timing, because Doodlebug has to be at school nearly an hour before Boo, and Boo isn't quite old enough to be on her own at the house yet, so she has to climb in the car and ride with us to drop Doodlebug off, come home and hang out for 45 minutes, then get back in the car and be taken to her school.  Really annoying.

Anyway, I took both kids to school on the first day.  Doodlebug needed a locker that worked, so we went to the office to get that sorted out (and it still took two more lockers to find him one that worked… the boy was jinxed, I swear) before I abandoned him to his fate.  He came home later in the day and said he'd had a good day and enjoys his classes.  His favorite teacher is his homeroom teacher who teaches English, which didn't surprise me very much.  When I met all of them on back-to-school night, I suspected that would be the outcome.  He has a little homework this weekend but mostly it's all for extra credit - I'm sure the real work will start this week.  I just hope he can remember to write his name on all his papers.  I worked on this all last year at home, but it didn't ever really stick.  Now that it matters, it will be a much bigger deal.

Boo also had a good first day.  She claims she's the smartest kid in her class, which she may be, and she really likes her teacher as well as some of the other teachers they rotate to for various subjects.  She came home on Friday and announced that she won't have homework if she gets all her work done in class and/or doesn't get in trouble, so that was nice news for me.  I remember having a little bit of homework in fourth grade but not much, so I'm glad to see that her teacher has a similar philosophy about kids being kids.

Both of them caught the bus home.  Doodlebug sat near the front, as instructed, and I was relieved to hear that our stop is the very first one on the route - he won't have time to get into much trouble, and sitting at the front is easier when you're the first one off the bus!  Boo, however, is the very last stop on her route, which I don't like because she gets home so very late, but it is what it is.  She'll make bus friends, I'm sure.

All in all, they've had good experiences so far.  Nobody's made any hard and fast new best friends yet, but that will come with time.  I'm starting to hear a couple of names from Boo, and Doodlebug has yet to find his tribe, but he will.

I'm just glad nobody got in trouble and things are starting to fall into place.  Routine will come.  It's all still bittersweet, but it is the way it shall be.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The School Year

So the school year starts for my kids later this week.  Last week the fun started, of course, when I took the kids shopping for school supplies (Doodlebug will need more next week after his teachers send home lists for individual classes) and when I picked up Doodlebug's schedule from the middle school.

That was fun.


As you may or may not recall, I spent quite a bit of time earlier in the year working with the school system to ensure that Doodlebug would have proper classes and interventions in place by the time he set foot into the school this fall.  We had a final meeting the last week of the 2013-2014 school year to finalize everything and to make sure that everyone was on the same page.  I remembered feeling hesitant around the school counselor's level of commitment, but there was little I could do... until I picked up the schedule last week and saw that there was nary a single pre-AP class on it.

Not.  Freaking.  Acceptable.

Thankfully the same counselor was the one who handed me the schedule, and so I very kindly but firmly reminded him of our handy-dandy little meeting, and he asked me to fill out a schedule change request slip and said he'd see what he could do and we could pick up a new schedule on the first day of school.  Not feeling particularly confident, I came home and shot the psychologist an e-mail to give him a heads-up on the situation.  He replied back and said it wasn't usually inside his purview to check into class schedules but he'd see what he could do as well.

It is with great pleasure that I can say that tonight, when we went to meet the teachers (which Doodlebug was walking into without knowing a schedule, which was driving me batty since I know he needs to know where to go BEFORE the first day), a new schedule was waiting.  I've not breathed such a sigh of relief in a long time.  We were able to walk Doodlebug's schedule, meet his teachers and see the classrooms, and get contact information for the teachers so I could send them e-mails about the 504 plan and provide my contact information, just in case.  He also scored a better elective class for him, too, I think - technology instead of art.

Of course, his locker didn't work, but there's always a hitch... and I'd rather the hitch be about a locker than an entire schedule.

We met Boo's teacher tonight, too, and I think her class will be a good one.  This teacher has a master's degree, but this is probably her second year teaching.  So we'll see, but I'm optimistic.  Thankfully Boo is a lot more flexible in how things work.

So school starts soon.  It will be weird having the kids out of the house all day, but I think it will be a good experience all around.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

I Swear… Job Drama is the WORST

And yet again, I'm not employed.

This time it isn't MY fault, though.

I was supposed to start tomorrow for my new happy position, yeah?  Yeah, so I'm standing at the cash register at the grocery store today and my phone rings, and I look at it and it says it's from the company that I was supposed to start working for, so I answer it.

And it's the bossman/owner, who says (and I paraphrase), "Um, we've decided not to fill the position right now, but we'll keep your resume on file in case we decide to take another look at it sometime."

The man is lucky I was standing in a public place.

Suffice it to say they could pay me in winning lotto tickets and I wouldn't work for them at this point.

Back to hunting!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Another Job Update

I'm sure you're all tired of hearing it, BUT... I have a job.  A real one that I will start later this week and which has caused me to stop looking for anything further, at least for now.

It started with a Craigslist ad.  It asked the respondents to apply in person, so when I was running around last week on the day that turned into absolute chaos, it was my first stop.  I left my application and hoped to hear something eventually maybe, but I wasn't very optimistic.

This morning I had an interview scheduled with a recruiter, but shortly before I left the house, I got a call.  The Craigslist company wanted me to come in for an interview.  I told them I already had one scheduled but that I'd be happy to come by at some point afterward, thinking that they'd set an exact time, but instead I was told, "Well, when you're done, just give us a call and come on up."

Well, all righty then.

So I did just that.  I talked to the bossman/owner.  I talked to the other woman I'd be working with.  I talked to the bossman/owner again.  And I start Thursday.

This job doesn't kill my soul.  I'll be making and tracking and checking in orders.  I'll be filing and answering phones.  I'll be doing inventory and helping customers and replying to e-mails.

Is it a perfect job?  Well, no, probably not.  But for someone who's been out of the job business for about 3.5 years… it's a very nice start.  I just hope I can hack it.

Did I mention I get to wear jeans?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Aaaaand no

So I didn't wind up taking the job.  When I went to talk to the recruiter this morning to confirm my employment eligibility, I mentioned that I had still spent yesterday evening filling out application after application for various jobs that I found online.  And really… that means I'm not comfortable accepting the position.  She was okay with it.  She understood.  I don't want to start a job that I intend to quit as soon as I can find something else.  It's not fair to the employer, and it's not fair to the recruiter, and it's not fair to me.

I'm okay with it.  I'm sure if I don't find something else in the next week or so I'll regret that decision and wish I'd taken it just to get job history on record, but for now… I'm still unemployed.

And so I don't have to scramble for childcare.

Which makes me happy.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

On Finding a Job

So I had the interview with the school.  It went as interviews went, and I got the call later in the day that I didn't make the cut and they had gone with someone else.  That was fine.  So I got on the computer and started hunting down options.  I knew that at some point I was probably going to have to look at temp agencies, but I had been hoping to find something independently before that point.

Yeah, that clearly hasn't happened.

I climbed in the car this morning with the following agenda:  Apply in person at one office, then hit up a couple of different temp agencies, drop Doodlebug's library books at the library, maybe get myself some lunch, and come home.  Oz took Boo to optometry appointments for them both, and then he was coming back to the house to keep an eye on things.

Things did not go as planned.

I started at the first office after getting stuck in traffic because someone with a trailer hadn't secured his load properly.  I filled out the application, talked briefly to the owner, and left.  All well and good.  I drove to the first temp agency only to be told that they only accept resumes online and to fill one out and someone would be in touch.  I called the second temp agency before driving across town to learn the same thing.  Frustrated, I turned to a third temp agency that wasn't even on my original list and called to make sure they accepted resumes in person.  They did.  I got there and started talking to the recruiter, and at some point I mentioned that I typed quickly.  She said she had a 'data entry' position available and thought I would be a good fit.  Fine by me.  I filled out some online forms on a computer at their office, and then she had me take a data entry test, which I passed so well and so quickly she thought I'd actually messed up and would have to redo the test because nobody had ever finished that fast before.  Go me.  I left and went to lunch, and the recruiter called me while I was eating to say that I had an interview at 1:30 if I was interested.  Well, why not?  So I went to an interview.

The job itself is not particularly thrilling.  It's a mailroom job, printing and sorting and mailing various forms and letters, and the other folks working in the department are very young 20-somethings with whom I will have absolutely nothing in common… but it's a job.  Like everyone keeps reminding me, I have to start somewhere.  And I'm not going to stop looking for something better.  Even the woman who interviewed me acknowledged that I won't stay there forever, that I need to be put into bigger and better things, but that my resume simply doesn't accommodate that right now.  It's frustrating but it's the truth.

Anyway, I start the job in a couple of days.  I'm scrambling to find childcare right now, because I won't leave Doodlebug and Boo home by themselves all day every day until school starts… and I'll need to work out before- and aftercare for them when school does start… and I feel completely overwhelmed by everything that has happened today… but I have a job.

I didn't expect that when I left the house this morning.  It's been a long day.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Recovery and Stepping Forward

So Oz is recovering nicely.  He had some residual fever on Saturday evening, but that seems to have subsided thanks to his massive horse-pill antibiotics.  He's got some angry-looking laparoscopy wounds right now, but I think those, too, shall heal.  He's doped up on the good meds and spends a lot of time relaxing on the couch, which is exactly what he needs right now.

This week is starting out nicely.  It may be a Monday, but it sure doesn't feel like it.  I'm not sure what day it feels like.  It's that time of summer when I would have started school but… yeah, that's not happening this year.  The kids are getting bored and antsy, and we're all kind of looking forward to the first day in a few weeks.  I need to take them back-to-school shopping, but I'm delaying the inevitable.  I suspect I'll do it one day next week.

In the meantime, I got a phone call today.  I started putting in online applications for clerical and administrative assistant jobs about two weeks ago and hadn't heard anything.  It wasn't surprising given that my resume has more holes than some kinds of cheese and I haven't worked since 2010, but it was still frustrating.

Today, however, I got a phone call from a local school system.  Their building secretary had a family emergency that caused her to have to quit her job quite suddenly, and they need someone who can start quickly.  So I have an interview tomorrow for that position… and if that goes well, I'll have training on Wednesday.  So fingers crossed!  I haven't worked outside the home since before Doodlebug was born… at least, not in any capacity where I couldn't take the kids.  So this will be a change for everyone, but I'm excited about it.  I'm ready to earn money again, and even if it isn't much, it's something and it indicates a current job history.

Sunnyview School may not exist any more, but there's still plenty of learning happening around here.  I appreciate all you readers who have stuck around.  :)

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

There's No Place Like… the Hospital

I'm pretty sure I should have just stayed in bed yesterday.  It didn't begin particularly well, and it ended… well, it hasn't ended yet.  Technically, I suppose it has, but it certainly hasn't seemed like it.

I could get into all the ugly details of everything that happened before Tuesday evening, but I won't.  Suffice it to say that while some parts of the day were good - visiting a friend in the hospital with ongoing issues and hanging with another friend at the pool while the kids played in the water - other bits were not so great, like losing the car in the massive hospital parking garage and causing the pool to be shut down because Doodlebug accidentally kicked Boo square in the nose and caused blood to gush everywhere.

Anyway, the real fun started after the kids went to bed.  A few days ago - I remember it being Saturday - Oz mentioned that he was having fairly strong stomach cramps.  Since his digestive system is temperamental at the best of times, he chalked it up to either something he'd eaten or some supplements that weren't agreeing with him.  So he stopped taking the supplements and assumed it would go away.

It didn't.

By Sunday evening, he was taking painkillers for the issue, and then… then on Monday evening, the pain began to change.  He didn't say anything to me, but the pain began to move and localize… in - where else? - the right lower quadrant of his abdomen.

On Tuesday evening, he admitted the movement and localization of the pain to me, and he didn't seem particularly well.  His appetite had been affected for several days, and he'd lost 10 pounds, though since it had been a couple of weeks since he'd weighed himself and he had been going to the gym, we're not sure how quickly that had come off.  Anyway, I insisted that he take his temperature, and while it was only 98.8, I know that to him that's at least a full degree of fever.  I had him take it again throughout the evening, and it rose to just under 100 degrees and stayed there.  The pain level rose with it, and by the time it was 11:30 and he went to brush his teeth and take a shower, nausea had appeared as well.

Shortly thereafter, he told me he wanted to go to the ER to get checked out.  So at 11:48 p.m. I began calling people looking for childcare.  Oz drove himself to the hospital, and once I was able to find someone whose phone rings after certain hours in the evening - mine doesn't, so I certainly understand -  I woke the kids and piled them in the car and sped across town to drop them off with an incredibly wonderful family.  (And yes, they went back to sleep once they got there and slept till sometime around 8, which is excellent!)  Then I took off to the ER after Oz.

By the time I got to the hospital he'd been triaged and had blood work drawn, and shortly after my arrival he had a CT scan of his abdomen.  And then we waited.  And waited.  And waited.  And about the time that I was about to lose my mind because it was 4 a.m. and there were two televisions playing two different channels and small children crying and people talking and I just needed peace and quiet and Oz was about to send me home to sleep until something happened, he got a room.  And 15 minutes after that, the PA on call came in, listened to him, and said (and I paraphrase), "Yup.  It's your appendix.  The doctor will be in shortly."  And he was, and he'd seen the CT scan results and said (and I paraphrase), "Yup.  It's your appendix.  And it's ugly, so I'm getting the trauma surgeon on call to come and tell you what the plan will be, but likely surgery and likely first thing in the morning."  And by the time the trauma surgeon came in and confirmed everything and gave us a tentative surgery time of 7:15, it was 5:15, and there was no point in going home, was there?

Things moved reasonably quickly after that.  Oz had a chest x-ray and an EKG, and as the EKG was being done someone came to schlep us to an actual private room, and so about 5:50 a.m., approximately 22 hours after I had awakened, we finally arrived in a room.  It was glorious.  I'm not sure how we scored the giant room that we did, and I'm sure that will show up reflected on the hospital bill later, but I was not an am not arguing.  I settled into the first comfortable chair of the night and answered questions about Oz's health (because all the gods love the man, he didn't even contemplate sleep apnea and his CPAP as being a health issue and couldn't remember his blood type and couldn't remember how high his temperature had risen throughout the evening) while half asleep.  And the nurse tech brought in pillows and blankets, and when they came to get Oz for surgery at 6:40 a.m., I was tucked in.

Of course, that meant that at 6:45 a.m., just as I was drifting off to sleep, the texts began.  I had been updating Facebook throughout the course of the night to let people know what had been happening, and some of my friends are early risers.  They were all well meaning and wanting to help, but I couldn't help wanting to chunk the phone into the wall when it buzzed.  I didn't, though, and responded to them all, grateful for such a wonderful group of friends who were willing to help.  Most of them offered to take the kids or run errands or visit or just do absolutely anything that I needed.  I could never say thank you to them all properly - I have so many favors to return as it is!  I did doze, though, and shortly before 9 a.m., the doctor who performed the surgery came in to let me know what had happened with Oz.

Oz is fine.  I'll say that first.  But the surgery was, in the surgeon's words, "a tough case."  Oz's appendix had indeed perforated and was releasing infection into his abdomen, and that all had to be suctioned out before anything else could be done.  After that, the appendix itself had to be removed, and it was "stuck" inside some inflammation and the end of it was abscessed to begin with, so that took time.  And then the whole abdominal area had to be flushed.  At this point the plan is IV antibiotics today, another round tomorrow, and we'll see how his white blood cell count and fever stands after that.  I suspect he'll be fine and ready to go home on Friday morning, but we shall see.  I'm hopeful.

I spent the day organizing places for the kids to go; actually, that's not quite true. I have two amazing friends who conspired together and commandeered my children, so all I had to do was pack bags for them and they organized all the transportation themselves.  I did talk to the kids and let them know that Daddy is okay, but I haven't seen them since midnight and it's starting to wear on me a little, mostly due to my own fatigue, I'm sure.  Anyway, I got them sorted and packed a bag for Oz to have at the hospital and spent most of the afternoon there before coming back home.

It's now 8:24 p.m., and I'm just a tad tired, as you can imagine.  I've run to the store, the animals are fed, I am fed, Oz is in good hands (and has had two bouquets delivered as well as several visitors throughout the evening), and the children are in good places.  It won't be long now before I let the dog out for the night and tuck myself into an actual bed for a good, long night's sleep.

I'll pick the kids up and let them see Daddy tomorrow, and then… well, I suppose it'll depend on what the doctor says.

I'm glad I can be there for Oz.  And I'm still so glad that I have such an amazing village of people willing to drop their own concerns and worries and rearrange schedules to help us out.  I'm so lucky.  And given the fact that Oz's issues could have been so much worse, I think he feels the same.

But I do believe I'm rather tired of hospitals for a while now…

Sunday, July 27, 2014

On Sleepwalking Sons

My son has gone sleepwalking since he was small.  He experienced night terrors when he was younger, too, but those are far less amusing and far more alarming, especially because he's a strong child and can - and WILL - fight you tooth and nail when he's having a night terror.  Thankfully those seem to have gone away with age; the last one he had that I can remember was when he was 9 and woke up screaming bloody murder at about 11:30 p.m.  Oz and I both thought that someone must have broken into his bedroom and went racing down the hall to find a shrieking, sleeping child.


Sleepwalking is far funnier.  He's done everything from peed in the trash can to holding entire discombobulated conversations.  But it had been a while since I'd seen anything particularly remarkable.

Until today.

He went over to his best friends' house yesterday.  They're twins.  The three of them sit up and play video games until their brains ooze out of their skulls, talking and laughing (and eating) ad nauseum.  They're a good group of boys, but I fail to understand the fascination of a screen.  And apparently Doodlebug felt the need to help provide snacks this time and helped himself to what was left of the loaf of cinnamon raisin bread I had in the pantry.  I had no idea he'd swiped it until I showed up to retrieve him today and noticed a bread bag in his backpack… and then five minutes later saw one of the twins hauling an uneaten piece out from another bedroom and putting it in the trash.  The twins' mom was like, "Was that moldy bread?!?"  And I had to explain that no… no, those were raisins.

I digress again.

So Doodlebug came home from his friends' house in his usual fatigued state.  They sleep during these 'sleepovers,' but only just enough to recharge their inner batteries long enough to play more games.  I suspect Doodlebug probably got about 4-5 hours of sleep, which is actually more than par but way less than the child needs.  He had some cleaning to do when he got home, but he knocked that out before he fell asleep.  I didn't know this, however, and after about an hour I called him downstairs to ask about the status of his chores.  I called once.  No answer.  I called again.  No answer.  I called a third time and got a, "Coming, Mom," after which he thumped slowly down the stairs.

This is where it got good.  Instead of coming into the living room and talking to me, he walked behind me and into the laundry room.  He opened the dryer.  He paused.  He felt around the top of the dryer - for what, I do not know.  He paused again.  He pulled out the lint trap and stared at it, then blinked and cleaned it.  He tossed the lint into the trash can and returned the lint trap.  At this point, I started giggling and Oz, who was still waiting on the boy to come talk to me, gave me an odd look.

"He's sleepwalking," I told him.

"He is?  Is he going to feed the animals?"

Something registered in Doodlebug's mind when Oz said that, and he did in fact turn to open the closet where we keep the animals' food.

"No, Doodlebug," I called out gently.  "It's not time to feed the animals yet."

The boy turned back to the dryer.

"Can you close the dryer, please?"

He obligingly closed it… and reached for the controls to turn it on.

"No, don't turn it on, please.  There's nothing in it."

He lowered his hand.  Then he walked to the light switch and flicked it off.  And stood there.  At this point, my goal was just to get him safely back upstairs and into his bed again.  I wasn't even concerned about the status of the cleaning.

"Doodlebug, can you come here, please?"

He wandered out of the laundry room and back into the living room.  Oz still wasn't convinced he was sleeping.  "Hey, Doodlebug, what color is a pink elephant?"

Doodlebug stared at him for a minute, wrinkled his brow, and said, "I don't know."

I sighed and figured I'd prove things definitively.  "Can you hold up eight fingers?"

And that request broke the child.  He almost burst into tears.  Don't worry - I felt bad and gave him a good cuddle before I sent him back upstairs.  It's kind of fun fitting a 5'6" 110-pound child in your lap, but a mom's gotta do what a mom's gotta do.

He's awake now, for real, and has no memory of any of this.  And while it's kind of cute that he does chores while sleepwalking, it also concerns me how lucid he seems during these times.  Because a normal person would never have realized that it was sleepwalking.  I only know because I know.

Heaven help us all if he sleepwalks during school one day.