Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

I have a deep sense of peace this Christmas. There are many reasons why, but I'm sure it has something to do with the fact that life is moving forward constructively. This year I told the kids we weren't buying presents, but would be going places instead. Still, I ended up buying Disney Infinity. I'm not at all sorry; it's much more creative and far less creepy and violent than Skylanders, which I loathe and can't wait to get rid of. I convinced them we should sell the Skylanders to buy more Infinity characters. High-five to myself lol.

It's the first Christmas without the kids seeing their dad. I was resigned to that because I know he's not in good shape to see them, but still feeling upset for the kids. Whiz Kid informed me yesterday that we should pick up gifts for him anyway to save until we see him. So I was pretty angry last night when my MIL called to tell me he had unexpectedly turned up at his dad's door the night before, 30 minutes after we left, freezing cold and skinny as a rail, claiming he walked and ran from the jail about 4 miles away after being released. We thought he was still several counties away; he says they transported him back here to clear up more minor charges. Who knows. His dad let him spend the night, fed him, and drove him back to the state capital where he's been living with some guy he left the psychiatric ward with in September.

I'm not sure if I'm more upset that he didn't try to see the kids while he was here, or glad that we missed him without the kids having to know it. Very mixed feelings but sadness is certainly the overwhelming one. I would have met him at a fast food place with his dad or something, just so they could see their father at Christmas. But maybe that would have been the wrong thing to do.

As it was, we blissfully went on with a wonderful day, going to the Children's Museum on the way to our church holiday feast. Then Whiz Kid served as an altar boy for the 3rd time this week, a responsibility he takes very seriously and appears to do quite well at. It's good to see him participating in the service instead of slouching and moaning in his chair, refusing to stand and whispering loudly, "How much loooongeeerrrrr?" He needs participation to be interested in things. Little Bear desperately wants to serve as well, but I'm concerned about his interactions with Whiz Kid and also with his best friend, who is the youngest altar boy. Both of them are very impulsive and inclined to forget their instructions as soon as any distraction presents itself. I know Whiz Kid will try to supervise them, and that won't be good. When Little Bear does begin to serve, we will have to coordinate it so that he is not with his brother or friend. And I will probably try to keep him at Vespers and let his brother take the longer Liturgy. He has stomach trouble, and is not inclined to stand still very long as it is.

Speaking of Little Bear, his academic scores are as high as Whiz Kid's except in reading, and his behavior in school is better. I'm very surprised and happy. He doesn't come across as the academic type but clearly he does fine. He has begun to develop self-esteem issues, though, and I'm not sure what to do about that or if it's a phase that will pass. Several times I've heard him complain how stupid he is, and he writes it sometimes when he's upset. I keep telling him that's not true, and trying to come down hard on Whiz Kid for mocking him, but so far it doesn't seem to help. I guess these things take time. He certainly is not stupid by any means, and I don't want him to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Anyhow, Merry Christmas to all! I'm delighted to face the year ahead.


Friday, December 13, 2013


I finally got my voice back. I think now I may have actually had whooping cough - at any rate I coughed violently for about 3 weeks and it still hasn't fully stopped. And today I actually had time to call the father of Whiz Kid's friend at a time when his son wasn't home. And told him of my decision. He was very upset, as I expected; his excuse was that he was on pain meds that night and had had a drink or two, which I did not expect and which certainly did not reassure me. It was very difficult to do. I absolutely loathe disappointing people and making them feel bad. But Whiz Kid is my responsibility and I have learned the hard way that there are some things you don't wait for proof of. Getting proof means it's already too late.

Still, I feel like bawling my eyes out over the loss of my son's friendship. They've been best friends for over two years, and in 3rd grade that feels like a lifetime. He's cried, of course. He wants to believe his friend will eventually come over here, but I tried to explain that although the invitation is still open, there's no reason to believe that will happen. And I feel tremendous anxiety over what will happen to his friend; whether his dad will punish him for allowing me to see the behavior, or try to blame him for my decision.

I asked Whiz Kid's counselor to mention this change to him at their last appointment, just in case he wanted to discuss it. He mostly wanted to explain that he is not in danger there because "when things start to get too out of control" (with horseplay, as he calls it) "A--- will give me the signal to go downstairs and I'll just go down and start the game and he comes down later." Yeah. No. This isn't getting any better. She gave me a look that said everything I was thinking, but neither of us voiced it out loud.

I did mention it to the assistant principal of the school as well, just because I felt someone should keep their eyes open and look out for the boy as much as is realistically possible. I still feel very nervous about having done that, but I felt worse about not doing it. However, it worries me to think that if anything happens in the future, the father will know I was the one who spoke up. Still, I feel that people do have a right to face their accusers, unless there's good reason to believe that presents safety risks.

On another note, my ex has apparently been in jail for the past month after stealing from a WalMart. And I received a stack of papers from Domestic Relations informing me that the county is suing the attorney who issued him a settlement on his accident because there was a court order in place to hold it for review because of child support arrears. Nice. The amount was far below what he kept telling us it was, and of course he did nothing to get any of it to the kids, not that I quite frankly care a whit at this point. It's just maddening all around: that he lied again, that he didn't hold out for a more realistic amount (no doubt because he wanted the fast cash), that he did nothing for the kids with it, and of course, the knowledge that if he did tell the truth and had gotten more, it would have been just as wasted anyway. Ugh.

Finals are nearly over. I think I will get A's again; I'm sure of two courses, one I'm concerned about but hopeful. And if I don't, it was still the one class I would not have traded taking for anything, simply because of how much I learned. I hope I never have to see those images again though. It's not a class for sensitive people, and I'm a sensitive person. Not to mention very visual. I'm glad it's over, and glad I stuck it out.  

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sexist preaching

If it wasn't my very sweet, sensitive and well-meaning aunt who posted this atrocious image on Facebook, I would have blasted it there. But since I didn't want to hurt her feelings, I'll vent here. 

While I would agree with this statement in the context I would use it in, I'm fairly certain I don't agree in the context it is meant. But that aside, the blatant sexism in this meme infuriates me. It's dangerous to our souls - and to society in general - to continue equating "feminine" with "Evil" as this clearly patriarchal image does. Why would they not show a donut? Or a bowl of candy? Or if making the point really requires something so very blatant, a MAN's sugar-coated mouth? After all, most preachers are still men. While the written words may make a different statement, the clear concept here is that women = sex = temptation = evil. SO pathetic. I'm sick of it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

About childhood friendships

I have come to the conclusion that it's time to make a tough decision regarding Whiz Kid's closest friendship. I'm feeling very unhappy about it. He and another boy from his 1st grade class have been best friends for the last two years (they're now in 3rd grade). This other boy lives mostly with his father, who runs a digital video/photo business from home. Last year we were invited to his birthday party. It was a small event (only two neighbor boys, the parents and grandparents, and Whiz Kid were invited). The father's father saw that I was very paranoid about leaving Whiz Kid since it was a pool party, and he couldn't swim. So he insisted we should all stay. In spite of this generosity, I found his grandson's interaction with him very disturbing. He seemed to subconsciously avoid getting within arm's reach of his grandfather, and did not get in the pool when his grandfather was near him. Eventually he jumped in the opposite end, and his grandfather came towards him. He tried to climb out again immediately and looked genuinely frightened, but his grandfather caught him and held him in what seemed to me a very domineering and threatening manner. The boy yelled to be let loose and the grandfather let him go after a few seconds. He did not get back in the pool until his grandfather was out.

I also noticed that the mother and her parents would scarcely speak to the father's parents, and as the afternoon progressed it became evident that the vast array of toys and electronic devices this boy has are not because his parents have money - in fact, they both seem to struggle financially. They are gifts from his paternal grandfather, who gave him an iPhone that day. Personally, I consider that a very inappropriate gift for an 8-year-old; but the expense of the gift and the boy's reluctance to allow his grandfather to help him set it up was the most disturbing.

There have been small red flags since. This year his dad has invited Whiz Kid to their house repeatedly, and although I had a lot of trepidation about it since the father's parents are the boy's main babysitters, I settled for getting his word that he would be the one there supervising, and having talks with Andy about not being alone with the grandfather and being sure to tell me if he was there during the visit. We have had the boy over to our house a couple of times, but in general his dad isn't very open to that idea. It doesn't help that Whiz Kid prefers to go to their house because they have so many video games and other toys, or that his friend got hurt rather badly on his last visit here when they were jumping on my brother's trailer and he fell.

Lately, though, I'm more and more concerned that the grandfather may not be the only problem. After all, these issues can run in families; it would be strange if the grandfather has molested only his youngest grandson, but not his own son or the boy's adult brother; and I've also realized that in spite of his constant requests to have Whiz Kid over to "entertain" his son while he works, the dad does not allow his son to ride the bus to school. That extra hour or so of free time would seem important if he is so desperate for time to work uninterrupted. I also had to call and complain once after Whiz Kid informed me they had played an M-rated game. His dad apologized and blew it off as no big deal, he would keep a closer eye from now on. It's a very big deal to me, though; I've always had concerns about the amount of video game playing they do in general, and that is unacceptable. The last two times he has offered to pick Whiz Kid up directly from school with his son, and upon receiving my note to this effect the secretary has called sounding a bit anxious to confirm that I actually do want this. It makes me wonder if she feels something is wrong as well. Last week he was invited twice, and when I said that would not work because of homework, the dad assured me he would make certain they finished their homework first. Normally his son stays after school for Homework Club, and that's the overt reason he doesn't ride the bus home. How is it helping this guy get more work done to pick his son up early and have to do both boys' homework?

We went trick-or-treating with them on Halloween. It was a blast. We have never gone before since we've never lived in a neighborhood. Apparently the boy has loads of costumes for play as well, and his dad loaned them all costumes. That was great. We had a wonderful time and the boys collected far too much candy; literally, more than they could carry. As we were preparing to leave, the friend was spazzing as usual and I saw his dad slyly kick him in the testicles as we were talking. I found that quite disturbing, but didn't feel comfortable commenting on it. I was even more disturbed when a few minutes later he unobtrusively twisted the boy's nipple when he wouldn't stop interrupting. Such behavior between a parent and child seems very creepy to me. I couldn't imagine what to say at the time other than "Shame on you," which seemed a bit inappropriate in front of the kids. So I blew it off. But it has bothered me a lot since. Suddenly the nature of the father's home-based business has taken on a new possible meaning that I really don't like. How do I know he isn't videotaping the kids secretly while they play? Why does he need my son over there so much? Of course, it's entirely possible that having another kid over simply means the grandmother doesn't have to come over as often. None of this is proof positive that something terrible is going on in secret.

It's just too many red flags, at this point. Any one of these things would not be enough for me to break off my son's friendship, but all of it combined is too much. The closer I allow our families to become, the harder it will be to raise concerns later. And even if I keep an open dialogue with my son, there are issues. (1) He may still be bribed or threatened into not telling me something; (2) It may not be obvious enough to trigger his "I should tell Mom about this" reflex; (3) It may be entirely unknown to him, if he's simply being watched and no one is actually present doing anything; or (4) He may even feel the need to protect his friend at some point and not be open with me because of that.

It's not going to be pretty. There isn't really a way to tell someone you don't want your child at their house any more without letting them know you disapprove of them. It goes without saying. I'm not sure what to expect. I have a week before I have to say anything but the boy is with his mother this week, and I'm thinking it might be good for me to have a frank talk with his dad while he's away rather than waiting until the kids are around and I don't want to be obvious about my reasons. Still, I'm sure no parent is going to take kindly to being told that their family interactions are creepy and therefore I won't let my kids visit them. It's harsh no matter how you cut it. If my suspicions are unfounded, he's going to be genuinely hurt. If they are accurate, he's going to pretend to be even more hurt. Either way, it won't be pleasant.

Wish me strength.  

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Rebirth of an Activist

I did alright on my ASL video. Much better than I expected. I'm confident I will get an A in that class. However, I really have to stop forgetting my homework at home! Lol.

The other two classes I'm pretty confident in, although for the Diversity class I have to watch my grades. I gave my presentation, but we were supposed to keep it inside of 10 minutes, and I could have spent at least 20. I can't imagine what I could have cut out of it, since I feel it was all important. Still, the result was that I got cut off a bit over halfway through. That was frustrating. The professor was very generous in the grade she did give me, but I still need to be careful. The Social Psychology class is a breeze as long as I don't fall behind in the reading.

Since I have a 4.0 GPA so far, I was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa this past month. I'm very excited about that since I desperately need the scholarships. The IRS has still not refunded my tax returns, the slugs; so I'm going to the Financial Aid office tomorrow to see if I can amend my loan acceptance and get part of the unsubsidized loan. TANF comes nowhere close to covering our monthly costs, even with Work Study added in. And I want to be financially independent of my parents even if I still have to live with them. I knew before we moved in that living here would inevitably bring out how deeply and intensely I disagree with virtually everything my mother believes, and if I did not have children I would have never, ever moved in under any circumstances. Of course, if I did not have children, I could have lived with a friend or roommate and this would not be an issue. Coming from parents who were convinced education would turn their offspring into communists, I know it's only a matter of time before my mom decides that she is going against God's will by helping me to attend this institution that only confirms everything I already knew or suspected. I need to be sure I don't owe them money when that happens. Yet I can't seem to bite my tongue enough when she starts in with her comments. Everything she believes is warped, whether about child rearing, God, or America. I'm so, so sick of pretending that I might partially agree with any of it.

This past weekend the neighbor brought home a car that had belonged to his 98-year-old father and offered it to us for $600. My parents very generously loaned me the money, and now I have a reliable vehicle that gets twice the gas mileage the Jeep did! I'm so thrilled. I want to pay them back ASAP, and I need to get all of the belts checked as well since it's an old car that was driven only 40,000 miles in the past ten years. I can't express how happy I am for this miracle.

Today, when I was getting ready to leave, the Princess (who turned 2 years old last month) was again giving my mom a bad attitude like she does everyone these days. I told her no, she can't be rude, stop being rude, like I usually do. And my mom made some comment to the effect that she has ignored this behavior so far, but will not any longer. I wanted so badly to say, "Is that a threat?" And I wish I had. I guess this is the end of leaving the baby with Grandma when she's sick. From now on I'll be calling out of class or Work Study if she has to stay home. Ignoring it is exactly what my mom ought to do. How immature and insecure do you have to be to feel threatened by a toddler's attitude?! Seriously! She added that there is "a happiness to be found in knowing what the boundaries are." I guess my mom is incapable of comprehending boundaries that aren't established with physical assault. Not to mention that I don't believe in establishing "boundaries" for how a child is allowed to LOOK!!!! They need guidelines and example, and of course being glared at in return is teaching the baby that it is normal to glower at people if you aren't getting your way. I couldn't keep quiet on that one and told her that somehow, I had failed to experience any of that imagined happiness. Her answer was that I must not understand what she was talking about. Yeah, sure. I understand that you've developed a personal vendetta against my child.

I feel very torn these days. This class is awakening my inner activist. The only activism I was exposed to growing up was out of sync with my beliefs and observations, so I have gone through a long period of despising activism. Finding groups like the Enough Abuse Campaign and Books, Not Bars has sparked something inside me that brings back memories of standing outside the polls with picket signs. I'm itching to get out on the streets and start raising awareness, and that makes it increasingly difficult to keep quiet around my family. My rising passion about certain causes exacerbates the long-standing feeling that I have to be someone else at home. I'm getting too old to play pretend any more. And I expect it will only get worse until something breaks. I just wish I could come up with a way to break it gently.

The college just initiated a Social Work program to start in the spring, and I switched my major again. I'm hoping to transfer with full scholarships, if possible, to one of two four-year colleges in the area who offer Bachelor's and Master's in Social Work. I will have to go off of TANF when I leave here at the end of two years, and maybe I can find a way to work part time and still go to school full time if I don't have to meet 20 hours a week of work requirements. For the difference I will have to use student loans, which won't be so bad if I have full scholarships for tuition. Although I'm still technically on the wait list for housing assistance, I don't expect that to happen until long after I have ceased to need it. With the current projection, I'll have my Bachelor's degree by then. In the meantime, not having a car payment is a huge help.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Just Because

Midterms are coming up. I'm pretty worried this time. For ASL I have to sign a book report. I'm not nearly fluent enough yet to feel comfortable doing that. Also, my webcam seems to have a time limit that is roughly 20% of the time I need to sign everything. It's making me pretty nervous.

For my Experiences in Diversity course, I have to do a presentation on one aspect of American culture. I decided to do it on "Capitalist Calvinism," having come to the conclusion during my research of Orthodoxy that Calvinist "Christianity" is at the root of much that is wrong with our society. I guess it was pretty silly of me to think I was the first person to recognize that; at any rate, I found an overwhelming amount of writing on the subject when I began to research. Some of it is pretty intensive. I found a long article about the Dutch West India Company, examining the writings of the directors and their religious affiliations, and was both disgusted and betrayed to find that for most of the Reformed community, the New World was as much a place to overthrow Catholicism as to practice their own religion. The writings of the directors and of the leaders in early Reformed colonies are anything but reminiscent of a desire for freedom. Quite the contrary, they are as self-righteous and oppressive towards others as anything ever said by the Roman church. It's very hard, after reading their writings and about their political practices, to think of them as anything but a pack of "ME-FIRST"ers pouncing on what they saw as available territory to create their own religious fiefdom.

It's very strange that so much of what the self-titled "Fundamentalists" believe is anything BUT "fundamental" to Christianity. This course is incredibly depressing.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

About being selfish...

One of my Facebook friends posted a status about her political views that I responded to. And after responding I decided to repost my comment here, because I expressed some things I feel are important. Her point was that while she may be an Obama supporter, she's tired of being treated as if she agrees with everything he does. And she tried to point out some of the many ways in which she feels the big picture is flawed. She made the comment that "we are a selfish nation." And this was what I posted....

"'We are a selfish nation.' That is so true; and what people won't recognize is, we have been that way from the beginning in spite of the many good qualities our forefathers possessed and attempted to instill, and religion has done NOTHING to change that. In fact, it has exacerbated it in many ways. I know many people who argue that without Christianity we would not have civilization anywhere; but that simply isn't true. When you define "civilization" as a culture based on Christian principles and "Christianity" as a religion based on the Old Testament, you warp the very definition of both from the outset. It also warps definitions when you define "selfishness" as needing something you do not have access to, or as believing the government should not dole out charity. There are many reasons to want an inherently capitalist government out of the charity business; the first and foremost being that it is for them a BUSINESS, and they make a ton of money from it. I know many people who recognize these issues and form their opinions accordingly. It's the ones who deny them I have a problem with. You don't have to agree with me, but you owe it to everyone to be informed about your opinion."

Friday, September 27, 2013

Not the Only One

My sister has been helping to empty out the building from the homeschool co-op she taught in last year. She brought home a book of very funny poems, "It's Raining Pigs and Noodles" by Jack Prelutsky. I laughed so hard when I read this one, I just had to share it. Leftovers in the refrigerator are one of my pet peeves, and I detest keeping food until it is beyond eating. I consider it a peculiar brand of living in denial. No, nobody wants to eat that. No, there's not enough to serve again for another meal. NO, it's not expensive enough to justify wasting our precious fridge space! NO, WE AREN'T GOING TO EAT IT FOR LUNCH BECAUSE IT WILL BE SO FREAKING BURIED BEHIND ALL THE OTHER LEFTOVERS THAT NO ONE WILL FIND IT! THROW! IT! AWAY! What is the deal with saving a half cup of overdone broccoli, four shavings of green pepper, and three-quarters cup of pasta? Ugh! And the worst is when there's a good deal on old produce. It's grabbed up to be cleaned and preserved, but what really happens is that it sits on the counter for a few days while no one has time to clean it, growing a nice infestation of fruit flies to destroy all the other GOOD produce. Gaaahhhh! Anyway, this made me feel better.

Deep In Our Refrigerator
by Jack Prelutsky

Deep in our refrigerator, there's a special place
For food that's been around awhile... We keep it, just in case.
"It's probably too old to eat," my mother likes to say.
"But I don't think it's old enough for me to throw away."

It stays there for a month or more to ripen in the cold'
And soon we notice fuzzy clumps of multi-colored mold.
The clumps are larger every day, we notice this as well;
But mostly what we notice is a certain special smell.

When finally it all becomes a nasty mass of slime,
My mother takes it out, and says, "Apparently, it's time."
She dumps it in the garbage can, though not without regret,
Then fills that space with other food that's not so ancient yet.

Yep. Enough said.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Onward and Upward

I finally broke down and got a notebook. The electronic kind. I figured there was no reason to get one with all the computers at school and everyone here having them too; but then Mom's computer stopped working wirelessly, condemning it to the upstairs office where there is no place to put it except on the floor; and there are so many more students this semester than during the accelerated ones that computer access at the campus is iffy. Plus, I decided it was time to completely disconnect the old dinosaur computer I had in my room, since Andy is becoming far too savvy with YouTube.

All of this right before I discovered that many of my ASL tests/projects this semester will require webcam. So it was time to shell out the money. And I'm not sorry I did. I got a secondhand Google Chromebook, and it seems to be just what I need. Small and light, but not a touch screen. I'm happy with it.

The Princess is talking. A lot. She started telling everyone to "Stop!" recently. That's what they tell her to say at daycare, instead of screaming and hitting. So of course she started saying it whenever anyone spoke to her, looked at her, etc. Lol. My sister has been telling her that's rude, so what did she replace it with? "SUT UUUP!"

Yep. Loud and clear. At the top of her voice. So polite. Big brothers are such good teachers. Oh, and uncles too. Especially the 17-year-old ones. The ones who berate me constantly for not making my kids better mannered/more controlled/less picky/you-name-it. Maybe we could just call him "Uncle Hypocrite?" Hehe.

She has fallen in love with the "Little Bear" show. I found a few of the DVDs recently. It's such a favorite of mine. I absolutely love Nelvana productions, and this is the best. I also replaced our Planet Earth and Blue Planet collections with my latest Financial Aid refund. Ours were quite destroyed, and I personally feel no home is complete without them. Such amazing views of our planet! Meanwhile the boys have discovered MineCraft, and it's all the rage at school. I'm actually rather glad. It's one game where they aren't killing each other and they can build things. And although I still prefer Legos, those tend to cause friction with my Mom, who wants everything cleaned up the instant it's not being played with any more. Virtual is better for now, particularly with the cold weather coming.

I'm so grateful this summer has been cool. I hope it doesn't foretell a bitter winter, but I can always get warmer. Oh! That reminds me that I made out wonderfully at the kid's consignment sale this past week. I got all the clothes they should need until next spring, with the exception of a winter jacket for Andy and snowboots for both boys. We have time for those, however, so I will keep checking the secondhand stores and the sale next month near our church.

One of my courses this semester is "Experiences In Diversity." It's fascinating. I had no idea that intersex births (infants born with ambiguous genitalia) were so common (roughly 2 percent), or that surgical correction is automatically done in the U.S., which has essentially the same effect as female genital mutilation. That's terrible. I am a firm believer in allowing children to make life-altering decisions for themselves when they are of age, if their health is not at serious risk in the meantime. And these surgeries often carry long-term complications too, so the risk would have to be greater than that.

The more I learn about scientific reality, the more I reject the religious perspective that sex was meant for procreation alone. Everything in nature goes against that. Infertile women and men would be unable to enjoy sex if that were true; and to avoid hypocrisy, shouldn't the church refuse to perform marriages for adults past childbearing years or with a family history of infertility? I had this argument just briefly with our priest before joining the Orthodox Church, since of course the Church's position is not to accept practicing homosexuals at communion. They talk about the immorality of sex outside of marriage, but Delaware recently began to allow gay marriages, making that guideline invalid. So the actual issue is that sex without the possibility of procreation is not condoned. Yet they do not forbid couples who are past childbearing years, or who have decided not to have more children, from having intimate relations. And intersex persons pose a similar problem. I do not think it right to expect that certain persons refrain from sexual relations their entire lives based merely on the way they were born.

According to our professor, the Olympics did chromosomal testing on their female athletes for a while in an attempt to prevent transgender women from competing and having an advantage. They had to stop because so many female athletes turned out to have a Y chromosome, yet were born female by all appearances. Since female is the default fetal state, it would appear that every now and then a male fetus simply fails to develop male genitalia and reproductive organs. That should tell people something about the reasonableness of this strict approach to gender and sex.

Anyway, food for thought.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Fall Semester

So, this was my first week of classes in a regular (non-accelerated) semester. The nice quiet college campus is suddenly flooded. My classes are significantly larger than the previous ones, 3-4 times larger. Well, except for ASL. I'm taking the second level this Fall, and not many students go beyond Level One. Our professor couldn't be here for the first class, because she broke her leg in Greece and they wouldn't let her leave the hospital in time. I feel bad for her. She's a very energetic lady and I'm sure it will gall her to have her mobility hampered. So we will have a sub temporarily.

This semester I decided to take all my classes at the campus and put the Princess in daycare 5 days a week, with the idea that I will be able to do all my schooling there and be present and unencumbered when I'm here. I think it will work out well. I'm waiting until next month to start Work Study, because my sister is having another baby and my Mom will be out there helping her for part of this month. That means I need to be home more to help with my Grandmother's care. I'm hoping the transmission in the old Jeep I'm driving holds up until I can get the money for a new car; it's not doing well and cold weather will probably end its sputtering life.

The IRS approved my claim for Innocent Spouse Relief several months ago, but have still managed not to actually refund any of the money yet. They cleverly avoid giving any concrete time frame, but always fall back on the idea of "90 days" or "8-12 weeks." There have been two sets of those so far, with excuses at the end for why that particular 90 days didn't actually mean the money would be refunded by then, just that the next step in the process would be taking place. Ugh. I'm very annoyed that they deceived me into thinking it would come last month, because in anticipation of that I rejected the unsubsidized Federal Student Loans I was eligible for, which I could have used to put a down payment on a car that runs well and doesn't cost $0.33 per mile in fuel to drive. The subsidized loan I need for ordinary day-to-day expenses.

My ex is in psychiatric care again, this time in another city. I would like to hope this time there will be some sort of breakthrough, but statistics say it's highly unlikely. The boys are still asking when he will come back to live with us again. Meanwhile he's leaving messages implying he will soon commit suicide and trying to tell me about his latest plan for leaving money to the kids. I don't believe it will ever happen - the suicide or the money. He's just desperate to keep me involved. I won't tell him that, however, because I don't want him to perceive it as a dare. I hope he doesn't kill himself; I just can't waste any more time worrying about whether or not he's going to. I gave 12 years of my life exclusively to him, counting the time we lived together before our wedding, and I don't have any more to give. He only takes away from us, and that's all he has ever done. At no point since our marriage was I better off with him than I would have been on my own. On the contrary, I was much worse off. So he can find another shoulder to cry on now, while he steals from the pocket below it, and I wish that person luck. They'll need it.

I plan to start an exercise program at the Y this fall too. I really need to stretch more and tone my back muscles with all this sitting. And I need the interaction. So I'll be looking into that tomorrow.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Summer's almost gone!

The weather has been beautiful. Unseasonably so. I'm enjoying it very much. And wondering if it has anything to do with the sun's giant dark spot.

My second summer semester is over, and it was great. I don't have my final grades in yet. I took Human Services and Communications, and taking those two together worked out well because they applied many of the same concepts. Being in a nearly-all-male class wasn't so bad after all. After the early dropouts only one other girl and myself remained, but it was fine. The professor had a way of putting people at ease with his humorous attitude. Human Services I took online, and it was a bit intense but I learned a lot. Like how much welfare fraud is committed by insurance and medical institutions, compared to the small fraction committed by individuals. And how ambiguous the laws are regarding what constitutes "child abuse." It's impossible to read these laws and not wonder what the hidden agenda was behind their wording. It makes sense now that child welfare workers can come up with a reason to remove almost any child, and also that they take the brunt of responsibility for making the determination. It's grossly unfair to the parents and the workers. The wording of these laws MUST be changed to give some sort of actual definition of "abuse" and "neglect."

Little Bear turned 7 this week. And I wasn't going to talk about my ex on this blog, but it's kinda important because this is the first birthday he hasn't been here for. And our son noticed, of course. It really put a damper on his day. Under the circumstances, if he had shown up, I probably would have called the police. After finally seeing the kids again two weeks ago at his dad's house, where he's been staying since he got out of the hospital from his accident, he decided it was better to go back to the streets than to stay there and keep seeing his kids. All he had to do was not rob his dad and brother, and empty all his prescriptions to sell on the street, every time they left for work. They set up a hidden camera because he adamantly refused to admit he was doing it, and when confronted he took a bag of clothes and left again.

I really cannot justify ever letting him have contact with us after this. Even though they didn't see it, he was snorting his prescriptions off the counter when we were there to visit. And this time it's beginning to sink in for the kids that they might never see him again. It's heartbreaking. Andy called him his "ex-dad" the other day, and when I tried to say that it doesn't work that way, he replied, "It does for me!" And Little Bear went up to his grandpa at his birthday gathering last night and asked with tears in his eyes, "Did my Papa really steal from you?"

I think I'm truly starting to hate him. And here I thought my love for him was unconditional. But I guess I've always been that way, even back when I was the big sister. I could forgive people for hurting me, without hesitation. But I held grudges fiercely against those who hurt my little brothers. And I suppose it's turning out the same way with my children.

Ah well, good things are in the future, in spite of the heartache. I'm hoping to join the academic fraternity at college this fall, I'm starting Work Study, the boys will be back to school soon, and the Princess is in good hands with her day care; so I'm finally feeling confident about the future being better. Here's to happiness!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Andy's song

This morning Andy came to me with a piece of paper. He had written a poem on it and labeled it "Learox" (Lyrics). I'm not going to post it word for word, because it's actually quite beautiful and I wouldn't want anyone to steal it. But it made me want to cry.

He's been having a hard time with not seeing his father, and has cried a lot more in the past two months. He has also stopped talking about his dad. At the same time, his overall behavior has been much better.

The poem he wrote basically talked about how he had cried and cried for so long, and then he looked into my eyes and his heart finally "rised." He insisted on using that word even though I explained it's not actually a word. It was very sweet and reminded me again what an artistic soul he has.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Great news!

I am so excited! I spoke to my caseworker at the program through which I attend college, and she told me that due to a combination of factors that seem to include good grades and a lack of available jobs, I will not be required to exit the program and begin meeting minimum work requirements until I have completed the first two years! This means I will be able to stay in college full time next year and obtain my A.S. before starting work. That will greatly improve my job outlook, both from the education and the work perspective. I will have three semesters of work study and hopefully some volunteer time to show on my resume, instead of just one.

Of course, now that I'm ready to sign up for all my spring classes, the school website is down for maintenance. Hehe. Thorns....

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

In Loving Memory

It would be remiss of me to let this week go by without recalling Joshua, and the impact his short life had on mine. I'm not going to post any more potentially upsetting hospital photos, but I miss you, little nephew. You are always in my heart.

Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, for whom he was named.

Thursday, July 11, 2013


I have finished two accelerated semesters so far and begun my third. I have all A's! Yaayyyyy! And although there were definite social drawbacks to being homeschooled the way I was, there are definite educational advantages from which I am now benefiting. Like, I don't know, the ability and motivation to complete assignments! I can't believe how rare that is in community college.

I decided to take Communications this semester. I took it in the classroom, because I knew it would be cowardly of me to take it online. I would have felt that I was cheating. I communicate just fine through writing. And over the internet. And any way that doesn't require me to be physically near the other person. So I figured I'd better push my comfort zone on this one.

Well, it's pushed alright. I really, really hate interacting with guys. Always have. I'm aware the problem is with me and not them, but it's a huge problem nonetheless. I'm very paranoid around men. And as with anything outside of our comfort zone, cultural/racial/what-have-you differences exaggerate that discomfort, because the unfamiliarity is increased.

So of course I walk into the classroom the first day to find it filled with men, two-thirds of whom are either African American or African. (There are a large number of African transfer students at this college. And believe me, you can tell the difference; they're not the same culture by any means.) I think one may be Egyptian, not sure. Over the next few minutes a couple of other women trickled in, so fortunately I'm not the ONLY female in the class. If that were the case, I might have withdrawn. I think we total five now, out of roughly 20 students.

The professor is hilarious though, so that helps. I find that I've overcome my social anxiety enough now to be able to speak voluntarily, but not enough to do so without my blood pressure skyrocketing and making me feel like I would pass out if I talked for more than 30 seconds. So I'm getting there. Hopefully by the end of this semester I will be far more comfortable. And honestly, I like the idea of having people from other cultures in the class. I always like meeting people women from other countries because you can get a new perspective on world issues and on your own society. I'm just not sure I want to spend that much time talking with men. Hehe.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Stillness and the Adoption Movement

"Be still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10.

I think of these words often lately. Probably because I have virtually no time for stillness. And when I read this article today about the rash of adoptions from Africa by the evangelical movement, and the ensuing flood of problems, I wondered what has happened to Christianity in America.

It's all fine and good to view your home as the first mission field. It is. But doesn't it occur to anyone to prove themselves a little while before expanding that field? Or that issues which arise in the home can be entrusted to God just like in the mission field? In the panicky rush to save as many lost souls as possible, people have forgotten that God is still omnipotent. He's not sending people to hell because you didn't adopt them.

And religious issues aside, I can't help but think that only in America are we so entirely disconnected from the realities of life without SUVs that we would adopt traumatized, malnourished children from the opposite side of the planet and expect them to immediately begin flourishing under our loving smiles. How stupid. How arrogant.

Christians today are fast becoming humanists with a religious facade. They have bought into the idea that as Christians, the weight of the world rests on them and the fate of the world is dependent on their prayers. What happened to God? Is there any room for Him in the world of Evangelical Christianity?

Obsession is selfish. Obsession with the best of intentions is still selfish. You cannot glorify God through selfishness.

Thursday, July 4, 2013


I have very sensitive skin. Because of this, I have been buying natural soap ever since I discovered Ellen April at the West Chester Grower's Market. It's great stuff. You know something funny? In spite of my name and my love of roses, I'm allergic to rose oil. How ironic is that?

Anyway, we have had the wettest June on record since 1938 here in southeast PA. It's been absolutely horrid, I tell you. I hate humidity. I always break out with itchy, yucky rashes when it gets hot and humid. This year it's been unbearable, and rather obvious. In desperation I decided to spend some of my tightly guarded money on a soap with fungus-annihilating oils. I found just the thing at our local Whole Foods Market. They carry a variety of natural soaps that change now and then, and they had Biggs and Featherbelle Koala Soap. Amazing stuff! It has eucalyptus and tea tree oils in it, and I only had to use it once to get rid of the creepy itchies! I've continued to use it, and they haven't come back.

I'm going to keep this stuff around for a long time.

Hello Again!

So, here I am again. It's so embarrassing to be switching blogs again after all this time. Hopefully I have worked through all the emotions and grief and confusion of the past 10 years, and am ready to start a REAL blog. You know, the kind that doesn't air out all my laundry and make it obvious I don't have a counselor. Hehe.

Over the past year I have separated permanently and finally divorced from my drug-addicted husband, the father of my 3 children; gone through a career development course where I learned a lot about myself; discovered an interest in American Sign Language and working with the Deaf Community; begun college; and most recently, joined the Orthodox Christian church after many years of dissatisfaction with the fundamentalist form of Christianity I was raised in. This dissatisfaction eventually spread to the entire Protestant tradition, and I feel very happy going back to what I consider my roots by joining the earliest established Christian church.

I want this blog to be a blog about single motherhood, family connections, religion, and eventually my interactions with the Deaf Community. Maybe it will morph into some sort of an advocacy blog over time. I hope that people will feel inspired when they read it.