A series of unfortunate events has lead us up to this point, October of 2009, a point at which I, Gabriel's mother, have never actually done any sort of Halloween activity with the child. First he was a baby. Then he was sick. Then I was sick. And now here we are, with several confirmed cases of hamthrax both at his school and at my work. If I don't get to take him trick-or-treating this year? I'mma be pissed.
When I was a little girl, four or five probably, firetrucks came to our house. My brother Duncan and I were in the living room. I was wearing my pink dancing dress, spinning around and around in circles, making myself so dizzy that I fell down, only to stand up and do it again. That drove my dad crazy and made him yell. When he was a kid he spun around in circles until he span his face into a door jam and sliced himself open.
I remember that my dad was home that day, because I knew that I might get in trouble if he came into the living room and saw me whirling about. He might yell at me if he found out.
I was doing it anyways.
Then I guess it must have been a slow day at the fire department because there were two firetrucks and one ambulance and one police car, all at our house, all of these tall scary men forcing their way in through the front door. And then there was something was wrong with my dad because there he was lying in the hallway not looking like my dad or even like he was alive, and there was my mom shutting the living room door and telling my sister You guys have to go outside now, and there was my sister hustling us out onto the porch and acting very grown up and in charge.
But then my dad was better and standing up and he felt a little funny but really he was fine and he didn't go to the hospital and everyone left and we never really talked about it and I sort of forgot that it ever happened in the first place.
When I was thirteen my dad called home from an inpatient drug rehab center at Watsonville hospital. He had been swallowing bottles and bottles and bottles of Vicodin and Codeine and whatever he could get his hands on, lying and lying and lying to our mom, to us, about everything. He had been trying to stop for years, he told us, and he couldn't, he told us, and now he was in the hospital, he'd checked himself in, and he was staying until he got better. He couldn't get better by himself.
A lot more things made a lot more sense after that.
It explained why my dad was always such an asshole on our family vacations, because he was trying to quit whatever he was doing. He would spend a week in Lake Tahoe puking and sleeping on the couch and yelling at my mom and making her cry and barking at all of us if we made any noise or messes or anything else.
Later, I think when I was in high school, my dad told us that rehab hadn't really worked how he wanted it to. Rehab was where he met scarier people who were swallowing more dangerous things. In rehab he learned about Oxycontin and Morphine and who knows what. After he told us that, he started going to a Methadone clinic.
He couldn't do it on his own.
He wanted his body back.
He wanted his family back.
He needed help.
You know what?
People have really terrible attitudes towards places like Methadone clinics.
People have really terrible attitudes towards drug addiction.
People who don't know a fucking thing about it act like experts and go flinging their blame all over the place.
Those people make me angry.
I am vehemently, passionately defensive of drug treatment and rehabilitation.
I am vehemently critical of our flawed prison system that locks up addicts instead of getting them the help that they need.
I have a hard time explaining why I feel so strongly about these things. It's difficult for me to tell someone why I have these opinions, or why I feel so strongly about them. Not without making my dad look like an asshole and making my childhood look damaged and making my family look flawed.
We're just people.
We're just people doing our best to get by, to do the right thing, to love each other.
My dad turned 54 last Saturday. It's been a few years since he's been totally weaned off of Methadone. He still talks about it all more than I ever want him too. He still embarrasses the living hell out of me. He still works for the same company at the same job he's had for 27 years. He taught me how to throw a baseball. He's teaching his grandkids how to play.
My throat hurts like a sonofa bitch. I'm pretending it doesn't.
GOD.DAMN. I just realized today that even though I sent in my car registration promptly, I somehow totally failed to see VERY LARGE NOTICE telling me I need to get it smogged this year. Registration expires tomorrow. No joke. I suck at life.
I am undefinably anxious and worried and rock-at-the-pit-of-my-stomach for no good reason. I was focusing on pretending that wasn't true, but then I talked to Since Thursday for like an hour and he gave me a some very good THINGS to focus my angst on, including career and parenting choices. So now I'm anxious and worried about CONCRETE CONCEPTS. Never mind that the feelings were there before their objects. -- Anyways! I'm not here. I guest posted over here. And you should go read it. Because you love me and you want me to be happy.
Just in case you were wondering what it all looks like without the seran wrap and the blood, I took some more pics of this stage in the tattoo (and it's surprisingly hard to take pictures of your own back).
Anyhow, at this (third) appointment, George shaded Max and two of the wild things, and did the yellow around the moon. What remains to be done is the shading of the final wild thing, and coloring of the figures and trees.
I write this because you should care more about our friendship than about your pyramid scheme. And an alarming percentage of my social circle has started spamming me. -- So! You have a business! You have a product or service you would like to make available to the public! Maybe you're running a fundraiser! You want to get the word out! You want everyone to buy/use your thing/skill/whatever!
I'm your friend or personal acquaintance, with whom you have no professional relationship of any kind. So. Your profession/skills/wares for sale? It's a new thing? Tell me about it! Once. Only tell me once. I think that bears repetition: Tell me once.
From that point forward I will know that if I need X (wherein X is the product or service you are offering), I will come to you. I will happily patronize your business over the competition, because we are friends.
For the love of god.
Stop trying to sell me your shit.
I do not want to be a part of your direct sales empire.
Please and thank you. -- P.S. Don't ask me for money. Especially if we're not really friends, especially if you are more financially stable than I am, and ESPECIALLY don't ask me for money repeatedly. Do it once and either I'll give you money, or not. Do it ANY NUMBER MORE THAN ONCE? I hate you.
This probably isn't about you (or you), so don't get your panties in a bunch. Unless it is. In which case, shit!?! You read my blog?? And bunch away, dear hateful panties. -- You make me feel dead inside. You suck the joy out of living. You make me clench my jaw in a way that gives me a headache shooting up to my temples. On days that I don't have to see you I breathe an audible sigh of relief. The sound of your heels clicking on the floor makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck. I go out of my way to avoid interaction with you.
Your inability and/or unwillingness to pick up on the many social cues signaling my distaste for you leave me baffled.
No, I will never invite you to do anything with me.
But my happiness is more important to me than your....whatever it is you do.
So I guess I'm not really sorry, since I only apologize when I wish I had behaved differently. -- *Phrase taken from Holly, who is a goddess.
So. First let me say that I always feel a little weird sharing good or bad financial news on my blog, (and I think that might be an illogical weird feeling, but whatevs). I think it's because there are lots of other people who have it worse than me, so if I complain about something I feel like, "shut it weirdo, you're doing OKAY," and if something happygood happens, I feel guilty for waving it around like a jolly idiot. Like what kind of asshole am I? Whatever though. This is something that makes me sleep easier, and I am going to share. December might be teh suck, financially. As I said yesterday, material possessions, blah blah blah, I angst about things, but please don't worry about Gabey and me, we are in no danger of losing food or housing or necessities. We are fine, we just need to cut back.
After December I will be clear of a couple of HUGE HEADACHE financial obligations that have been SUCKING MY WILL TO LIVE, and, just in time for the jolly new year, I have a tidy budget worked out that just might (*fingers crossed*) get my ass totally out of the financial pit of despair in which I've been floundering around helplessly since I got the hell out of dodge and decided to fix up my life on my own a couple years ago. It's taken me awhile, but I am, slowly, getting there (the child support helps immensely IMMENSELY - I don't know what I'd be doing without it).
Chibijeebs sent me a link to this budgeting tool, and it was prezactly what I needed to look at in order to figure out where, precisely, I stand with everything, and what I can do about it. And I think what I can do is get out from under all debt but my (relatively small) student loan payment by the end of 2010, with money to spare even! For extras like BlogHer2010 and finishing my tattoo and dance lessons for Gabriel (if he still wants them). That would be GLORIOUS.
Plus in January, while I'll still be far from SUCCESSFUL or DOING QUITE WELL, I won't be nearly or even a LITTLE bit as poor as I am right now, and January is Gabriel's birthday, which makes me worry a little bit less about Gabriel's Christmas.
Okay then, the point at the end of this meandering post is rather silly, but I'm operating on the assumption that you like me anyways.
I receive a county-based subsidy for my childcare expenses. Dealing with the program administrators is ALWAYS ALWAYS FRUSTRATING, but at the end of the day, I can afford to send my son to preschool full time AND buy groceries. While I reserve the right to bitch and moan about the ridiculous process I have to go through, I am ultimately grateful. I had my re-certification appointment in September. It was extra and especially frustrating, on account of the woman to whom I literally had to spend 35 minutes explaining my custody agreement, despite the fact that I brought the court documents with me. It's not that hard. The upshot of this meeting was that, now that I receive regular child support, my income was in excess of the maximum for a family of two. By $200. TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS. So now I'm working less, so I can make less money, so I can still get a subsidy. Because the world is a fucked up place and I'm actually not as poor when I make less money. I know, right? ... My first paycheck that will reflect this pay cut is the one I'll get on December 1st, and it'll reflect the time I'm cutting from both October and November, because our payroll system is awesomely fucked up. Knowing that ahead of time, I'm going to do my verily best to budget well and appropriately, but December is a bad month to be poor. My family is vast, with many small childrens to whom I like to be gifting. Plus I'm going to Vegas. I'm talking about disposable income things, and I will be fine, and we will be fine, but thinking about that paycheck makes my tummy hurt. ... So I'm trying to plan now for Christmas for Gabriel. I tend to overcompensate a little bit in the gift department because my nephews get a lot of gifts from my sister's in-laws, and Gabriel doesn't usually get much from K's family, and I don't want it to be a GIANT AND OBVIOUS DISPARITY, since the cousins spend Christmas day together. Anyhow. Things we won't be doing this Christmas, for money saving purposes: *Christmas cards. I know! I personally love Christmas cards, especially since I do photo-cards of Gabriel, but with the printing and the postage etc. etc.? It's just not gonna happen this year. If you don't get a card, don't go all WASPish on me, I'm not cutting you off the list, I'm just taking a one year hiatus. *Small Christmas tree. I'm just gonna get some little jobjob that can sit tidily on an end table. It's also better for the environment and shizz. *No new decorations. I'm still building up my CHRISTMAS STUFF, so I've been trying to buy ornaments etc. a little at a time every year. I think not this year. *Fewer and smaller gifts. We're a gift giving family.
Which brings me to some advice solicitation. I know that everyone's family is different, and everyone's budgets are different, so I realize the internet might not be the most AWESOME PLACE IN THE WORLD to solicit advice on a personal situation, but I'm taking my chances. If Gabriel wakes up on Christmas morning (keep in mind that it's just him and me for the 'home gifts' portion of this), how many presents is enough for him to feel like OMG BEST DAY EVER, but not so many that he'll be like, meh, whatever, looks like another toy. I'm also open to suggestions on what to get for him. He needs winter clothes, which I plan on sort of bundling under the guise of gifts, but I'm not sure about actual fun prezzies for him. (He'll be four in January) -- Also, Gabey and I reviewed a toy together over yonder. Take a look if you like. -- Please vote for Gabriel. Vote daily by clicking on this link.
This morning, as I was saying goodbye to Gabriel, he coughed a little bit. This wasn't an alarming cough. Or at least, I am not alarmed by it.
This is Gabriel's fourth winter. The past three? He's had a runny nose/light cough for the virtual entirety of October through April. He also spends these months in good spirits, with normal energy levels, no fever, sleeping soundly (my main signals that KID MUST GO TO DOCTOR).
He has a runny nose and light cough right now. No fever, sleeping fine. I have a hard time feeling overly concerned.
Anyhow, this morning, cough cough. Teacher tells me he can't come to school until I take him to the doctor and get it cleared that he doesn't have croup. CROUP? Are you fucking kidding me? The kid obviously does not have croup. I remind her that Gabriel sounds like this all winter, and that he sounded like this all LAST WINTER AT THE SAME SCHOOL. But this year swine flu blah blah blah. (But this year/last year same kid/same symptoms/none of the symptoms of flu or swine flu (or croup)) So. I hauled us over to urgent care. They asked why were there, I said, "He has a cold, but I need a note that says he doesn't have croup." The receptionist said, "He doesn't have croup." YesIknow Doctor's visit, fine, lungs fine, pulse oximeter fine, he has some sniffles but nothing to worry about. He doesn't have croup. I get a note that says, verbatim, "Gabriel R- is okay to return to school 10/19/09" I take Gabriel to school, hand the teacher the note, go to work two hours late for no reason at all.
Photos from a lovely Saturday playdate with VDog and her Little Man. I'm trying to figure out how to actually use the manual settings on my fancypants camera, instead of just relying on the auto functions, so some of these are a little wonky. But the kids? Still perfect.
-- Please vote for Gabriel. Vote daily by clicking on this link.
It's getting cold outside, and sniffles abound. This is pretty much the most stylish tissue container I've ever seen. Ever.
Available in Pink, White, Green, Blue or Black. Can also be used for bathroom tissue.
$38.50 from Delight.com.
We've been playing with VDog and Little Man. And that's been sincerely fun. Well. The part with the perky small children early in the morning has been more headachy than fun per se. Luckily there's coffee. I hope y'all are having a good weekend.
-- Please vote for Gabriel. Vote daily by clicking on this link.
Of all of the (many) coats I'm currently lusting after at Anthropologie and elsewhere, this is the most practical for my climate and wardrobe. I love and I want. Please and thank you. First Frost Coat $178, in sizes 0-14 in Coral, Light Grey and Navy.
I have a serious problem/obsession when it comes to coats and outerwear. They're already a pricey item, and it's especially impractical when one lives on the California coast.
Beautiful red jacket is $348 from Anthropologie, sizes XS-L.
For Gabriel's first Halloween (2006), I bundled him into an adorable BabyGAP bear suit and called it a costume.
For his second Halloween (2007), he refused to wear anything but footie pajamas and rain boots, despite the fact that he owned and regularly wore at least five different costumes (and as an aside, I'm convinced, CONVINCED that I wrote a blog post about that, and I've been going through my archives looking for it and driving myself absolutely insane - let this be lesson to y'all: TAG YOUR ARCHIVES APPROPRIATELY).
This year he assures me that he wants to be Batman, but with a mask mom cuz it's not Batman if there's no mask! Noted. I'm continuing his mind-conjured tradition of Mr. Halloween and making him a Halloween basket with said mask. And maybe a utility belt.
I'm also using his costume as a jumping off point for mine, which involves a frightening amount of spandex for someone who should rightfully be shopping in plus-sized stores.
(Especially since I can't seem to figure a way to make lightning actually shoot out of my eyes....)
Kat's making me stretch lace gloves. You can thank her later. -- Please vote for Gabriel. Vote daily by clicking on this link.
A toy website called ebeanstalk has a group of child experts that help select great learning toys and toys for kids of all ages, from baby toys, toys for 1 year olds, toys for 2 year olds, etc. I received the Activity Bus from Plan Toys who makes green developmental toys and this is what I think of the toy.
-- I actually received the school bus to test out right before I moved, at the end of July. Then I moved. It just got unpacked and remembered a couple weeks ago and HEY HOW ABOUT THAT!
This is a wooden school bus that folds open to make a classroom, including figures, a blackboard/map, school chairs and books. Gabriel loves the way the bus opens up, and he also loves all of the little 'school parts.' He is by nature a child who loves small things that fit into specific places, and this bus fits that aspect of his personality perfectly.
At our house we're big fans of Plan Toys; he has a Plan Toys dollhouse and play kitchen. I love that these toys are maid with all natural, sustainable materials. I like the sturdy build of the toys. Gabriel loves the way the students and teachers have jointed legs that can easily be made to sit or stand. He loves arranging the different pieces and playing school, and the pieces are perfectly sized for Gabriel's hands. My number one measure for a toy is how long it occupies my son, and this one can give me 30 uninterrupted minutes of quiet play. That, in my house, is solid gold.
Gabriel loves to put everything away inside of the bus and store it lined up with his other vehicles, which has been great for encouraging tantrum-free clean-up.
This toy is definitely a keeper. I had my eye on it prior to getting selected for this review, and I would buy it on my own given the chance.