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Friday, July 24, 2009

All Sales Are Final!

The kids have these FABULOUS periods of time every so often these days when they actually play really nicely to together. They like to pretend play all kinds of games together, and I was thankful they were entertaining themselves today as I was washing windows and blinds. It's been two years since I washed windows. I know, I know, spare me the hushed gasps. In case you haven't been reading me much over the past year or five, I've been busy.

I've been complaining for over a year about how dirty the white wooden blinds were getting, and I had made attempts to wipe them down, but they never seemed to get very clean no matter how hard I tried. Seemed like I just pushed the dust around. I discovered today that taking them down from the windows and hosing them off in the shower works better than anything else I've tried.

The kids actually played well together long enough for me to wash four kitchen windows and the glass patio door along with all their accompanying blinds AND wash the tile floor. This, btw, is where the real gasps should be inserted!

As I was rehanging one of the blinds, I heard the kids in the next room. They had both donned their bathing suits and were pretending they were taking a vacation to the beach. In this midst of my passing through the living room, I had reminded them that they needed to put away the remains of the blanket tent they had made for the dog. Dear Daughter tried to work this right into her pretend play, saying to the "dad" (played by her little brother) that they had to finish their chores before they could leave for their vacation. Dear Daughter then began to say a script along the lines of how their children never clean up their messes. Dear Son, in character as the "dad" then said with exasperation something to effect of getting rid of the kids because they are so messy. Dear Daughter, still in character, responded, "Well, we HAVE to keep them, because they're OURS!"

For some reason I found this conversation that I was eavesdropping on to be really funny. While I've never implied in any way that I wanted to get rid of them, I have joked with them (when they are being stinkers and then cute their way out of stuff) that I guess I'll keep them one more day. They always know I'm teasing and think this is really funny when I say it. So guess that was their own rendition of the joke, or something.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Don't BUG Me!!

We are enjoying a nice bit of respite in the dog days of summer with highs in the low 80's. The windows have been open again for the first time in weeks and the chugging of the air conditioner has silenced, even if only briefly. We have lots of interesting sounds out here in the country surrounded by woods. As we were getting the kids ready for bed the other night, Dear Daughter asked me with great concern in her voice, "Mommy, WHAT is that noise I hear outside?" I listened and tried to hear what she heard, but I felt like I was missing something. "What's it sound like?" I asked her. "Don't you hear it? It's going 'waaaaa-aaaaaa, waaaaaa-aaaaa, waaaaa-aaaaa' and it sounds REALLY creepy!" I listened again before it dawned on me what she heard outside.

We don't hear traffic outside our home. We don't hear people outside our home. We don't hear the hustle bustle of modern civilization. We DO hear owls hooting and coyotes calling at night, the wind swishing through the trees, tree frogs and bull frogs and every other frog variety singing and chirping and grunting their little hearts out. There's one particular variety of frog that sounds a lot like a wild turkey. And in the summer time we do hear something deafening outside our home. Something as loud as city traffic in the backyard. We hear BUGS! Lots and lots of bugs! They drone on and on in their sing songy voices much like the way Dear Daughter imitated them. I knew then what she was talking about, because I noticed it, too, earlier that evening when I opened the door to let the dog out. In fact, I felt literally assaulted by the bug noise that seemed to literally scream at high decibels.

I pondered for a moment the reason my daughter is creeped out. She and I share our disgust for bugs. It's possibly the biggest drawback of living away from other human civilization and out in the midst of a corner of what some have referred to as the "boondocks." We have bugs out here. LOTS of bugs. Dear Daughter and I have once again survived the most horrifying three weeks of summer that happen each year around this time. It's the time when the ping pong ball sized shiny green kamikaze June Beetles come out of the ground to buzz around for a mate so they can lay eggs and produce millions more of their kind for next year. They are harmless, more than a few people have reminded me. Perhaps, but I still don't like it when they carelessly bonk into the side of my head because they are such miserably poor navigators. And they make the creepiest buzzing noises as they sweep by your head, missing you by centimeters. I get all panicky that they are going to get stuck in my curly hair the way that June Beetle did that summer night in high school when I ran around the woods in the dark at my friend's house lighting off fireworks and being generally stupid. That thing hung out in my hair for awhile, apparently, because I didn't even know it was there until I tried to wash my hair in the shower later that night and got the thing even more tangled in a web of wet curls and shampoo. It wouldn't stop buzzing and I don't know how I kept from screaming and waking the whole house up.

Before we moved out here to no-man's land where the beetles really are as big as Volkswagens, I thought the Japanese Beetles were creepy. We had become infested with those even when we lived in town. But they seem tame at about one half to one third the size of the big tankers we have now.

A couple weeks ago, however, I became desensitized to the big green flying Volkswagens much the way I became desensitized to the smaller flying Japanese Beetles. At least the Volkswagen Beetles (ha ha...get it?) don't STING!

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As you know by now, I like to drive the big ass lawn mower. The buzz and drone of the engine and monotonous action of back and forth rows are a soothing escape. It's the only time I can seem to give myself permission to sit still and zone out the rest of the world. Dear Son likes to drive the mower, too, and begs to climb up on my lap and steer the machine around the acreage. We were not quite 30 minutes into the job a couple weeks ago when I thought I felt a Volkswagen Beetle stuck in my hair. I started to relive the summer of '89 before I stopped the mower and turned off the blade and screamed to my boy child to run for his life with me. We were chased all the way up to the house, but not by Volkswagen Beetles. In fact, I still don't know WHAT they were for sure.

My husband speculates they were Africanized Killer Bees or some sort of thing. I can't find a picture or description anywhere on the Internet that matches what those things look like. I'm guessing they had a nest in the ground somewhere and we mowed over it. Whatever the reason, I'll never know, but they were PISSED OFF! One DID get stuck in my hair and stung my head before it found its way out. And I was stung in about four other random places. Dear Son was stung twice on the back of his neck, and since they had chased us up to the house they were swarming around the driveway and garage threatening us constantly. After icing the stings until they stopped burning, and dodging more stings as I stood in the driveway, I looked across the acre of grass between me and mower that sat idling in the grass with a couple dozen black and white bumblebee mutants buzzing around it. I insisted Husband check my curls thoroughly before putting on a cap and getting up my nerve to go back out there to retrieve the mower. The husband, you see, is seriously allergic to bee stings. Allergic enough to potentially die from a sting.He handed me a can of wasp and hornet spray and gave me a pep talk and sent me back out there. Thanks, Hon!

I got within 15 feet of the mower and the mutants literally came after me again just for STANDING there! I got stung again as I bolted back to the house. This time husband decided he was going to have to get in the game. He grabbed the wasp and hornet spray and went in. I stood in the driveway feeling like a major wimp and praying he didn't get chased and stung like I did. We didn't need any ER trips. And that's when he started doing a crazy dance and running back toward the house. He got stung, but barely. I started to run after Benadryl and an Epi-pen and call 9-1-1, but he seemed to be okay for the moment. We stood there looking at the mower running idle with a full tank of gas while the bees swarmed around it, and scratched our heads. Well, Husband scratched his while I held ice on mine where the stings still throbbed. We decided to go in together this time. Moral support for each other if nothing else. He grabbed the wasp and hornet spray again, and I grabbed a bad mitten racket and slowly we made our way down again. I swung at anything that moved and Husband sprayed at anything that moved until he got close enough to jump on the mower and drive it the heck out of Dodge. Then we ran in the house and bolted the windows and hid the rest of the day. Just kidding about that last part.

Not that it hasn't crossed my mind.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Going UP!


My blog...it's feeling neglected. For the first time in four and a half years, I can't seem to make adequate time for this blogging thing. It's not that my kids have become any less cute, as you can see by their little mugs. It's not that they don't still say just the cutest things, like the other day when we pulled into the local big name discount store. We decided to take the whole fam as we were out doing other things and needed a few this and thats from the big name discount store. It was Saturday night. Yeah, I know. That's how exciting thing are in my life these days. Stuffmart on Saturday night with the kids. Whatever. So we pulled in the parking lot at around 7 pm, and it didn't take long for me to start grumbling about how crazy it is that the place is soooooo busy even on Saturday nights. Apparently lots of people around these parts have really exciting lives.

Dear Daughter piped up from the middle row of the family mobile, "Maybe they are just attracted here because the sign says, 'Always Low Prices!'" I don't think I had consciously read or retained what the front of the store said on their signage. My little precocious one who began reading at age four certainly did, however. And then used the word "attracted" in her sentence quite effectively.

Life certainly is crazy lately. I thought summer would feel calmer, and I suppose it does to some extent. You will recall that last summer, almost exactly a year ago, the crap started hitting the fan around here. I think the dust has just begun to settle nearly a year later.

A year ago I decided to make a career change. Not in the practice of what I actually do as a private practice licensed psychotherapist, but just where I decided to do it. I had been providing individual, family, and group therapy services at an area group home for teen girls for 3 1/2 years. I did this consistently for those 3 1/2 years along with other varieties of work, which used to be teaching at a local university and then more recently doing office based community counseling. But in the past two or so years of my work at the group home, it had become the largest portion of my career, and at times the only work I was doing. These are girls that typically come with a very long list of issues. Girls who have been in the foster system for nearly all their lives with more foster placements than they can count. Girls who've been removed from their birth parents for a variety of reasons including parents' drug addictions, being beaten, raped, molested, and any other form of abuse you can imagine. Sometimes being prostituted by their own mothers to support their mothers' drug habits. They are 17 years old on average by the time I get a hold of them at the group home. Some of them come with histories of problems with the law from mild things like shoplifting to things like drug posession, running away, assault, etc. They often have severe conduct problems and severe emotional problems. They come by their problems legitimately as the result of a culture of parents who have failed to instill a sense of love, belonging, and value into their childrens' souls. As much as my heart breaks for them, their issues and the intensity of their lashing out exhausts me at times. I become a safe person for them over time, and this often makes me a person with whom they can express their anger. It's not unusual for me to become a mis-placed target for their angry attacks. I know how to compartmentalize this stuff and I can rationalize that it comes with the territory.

Last summer, however, was a turning point. Last summer one of my teenagers there decided to take her life by hanging herself. I think the combination of this experience along with the especially difficult caseload I carried there during that time wore me down to the point of needing a change for the sake of my own mental health. Little did I know that there was to be no rest in sight for me. Oh no...in fact, things were going to get MUCH MUCH worse over the next several months.

Unfortunately, the path I chose was a lot like when Alice fell in the rabbit hole, only much much more hellish. It appeared at first to be such a good move and turned into the worst nightmare of my life. I've never been treated so poorly. You wouldn't expect this from people in the human services field. It was insane, and I certainly felt at times like I was losing my mind! It was exhausting to phase out of my practice at the group home and my other small office based practice and move it to this new group in the first place. I partner with more than a dozen insurance groups and third party payors. The red tape to move and re-establish with new tax ids and national provider identifiers and addresses and the like is insane. Each of those dozen plus groups I partner with have their own set of rules. Two months into my work with this new group I started to see some really bad signs, and I started feeling uneasy. To add to the stress, we learned at this time that my husband was to be laid off (which never happened, despite the loss of certain benefits and bonuses). I only made it five months total before I ran screaming from that group. I lost more money in that particular decision than I care to think about, and forget about peace of mind. It was pure hell the whole way through. I'm TIRED! Really really tired!

Meanwhile, after running from the hell I'd endured for 5 months, I decided I was done contracting with groups. I have yet to find a group who can run a smooth business and have their act together. I realized after seeing this in multiple private practices that it took me more time and effort to babysit things to be done correctly than it would take for me to just do it all myself. So that's what I did. Within 10 days of terminating my work with the clinic from hell, I had my own private practice launched. I launched my practice March 3rd, and I'm just now at the end of all the red tape involved to uproot and move my affiliations with the various third party payers AGAIN! For now, I am managing all aspects of my business, including all billing, bookkeeping, and administrative duties along with the therapy duties. And I recently agreed to return to do ONE therapy group at the teen group home where I previously worked. Would you believe me if I said I missed those girls? So there's been no rest.

We managed to finish a year of homeschooling last spring despite all this insanity, and I've been busy lesson planning for the next year whenever I can steal some moments. I must be organized for next year in order for it to work. Dear Daughter will join a homeschooling group in the area where I can drop her off one afternoon a week and she will get art, drama, music, and PE classes.

In light of my current life circumstances, blogging has just not risen to the top of my list of things to do. My top priorities at the moment include getting that birthday party planned for my little girl who has coveted a party with little girlfriends for months now. Her big day will finally arrive in a few short weeks. She began inviting people to her birthday party since last December. Even random strangers she has just met in the park have gotten invited. *sigh* Next on my list are enjoying my family, getting the homsechool year mapped out, and managing my private practice.

This, my friends, is why I don't frequent this space as often anymore. I often think those days of round the clock feedings were so much easier than this. I can't promise I'll make it back more often, but I do expect the dust to continue to settle in my life as I work at forgetting the former things and moving forward into new things! It's been a rough year in so many ways with little room left for going "down," so I figure there's nowhere to go now but "up"!

We have managed to have some fun this summer, too. Here's the fam in front of the word's largest banjo. Dear Son has been completely potty trained for months now. WOOOHOOO! But he has developed this annoying habit of grabbing himself all the time. So glad it got recorded in a family pic.

And here's Dear Husband helping the kids with arcade bowling, which they both thought sounded like so much fun. Until they got a few rounds into the game and lost interest. Husband and I finished the game off, and I smoked him.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Death to Elmo!

Dear Son was into Elmo oh so briefly. The sentiment was gone by the time Son reached the ripe ol' age of 2 1/2 years. While anything and everything Elmo has generally been banished from the house, a hooded Elmo bath towel remains. I grabbed it last night after Son's bath and popped it over his head before he knew what hit him. As soon as he realized, the protest began, "Ohhhhhhhhhhhh! I HATE Elmo! I hate Elmo because he doesn't involve GUNS!"

Transformers have LONG outlived Elmo in this little boy's favor. I think Transformers have enjoyed a year on the pedestal so far. At the moment, the boy (in his 3 1/2 year old big boy status) covets a Bumble Bee helmet and blaster gun more than anything else.

I think I should have at least kept that 28" Elmo doll around for target practice!

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Dumb-o-crat!

Dear Daughter (with disgust in her voice): "He's just being a DEMOCRAT!"

Me: "A 'democrat'? What does THAT mean?"

Dear Daughter: "You know...it means that he's DUMB!"

That's my girl!

I didn't teach her this. I swear.