Life, Roy's Story

We Have a New Member of the Family

At least, temporarily.

At least, I HOPE it’s temporary.

Kevin has a special-needs uncle – let’s call him Roy. His grandmother adopted him out of foster care when he was a toddler.

I guess, technically, he’s not really special needs. He’s not retarded but rather, just slow. His birth mother drank and probably did drugs when she was pregnant with him which caused brain damage. He’s only a few years younger than myself.

Kevin’s grandmother passed away and he’s been living with Kevin’s parents all of these years.

However – Kevin’s parents are getting older and it’s harder for them to get around and quite honestly, they just want to live their remaining years peacefully. The situation has become tense and Kevin became his co-guardian – he’s now fully (or will be when his mother passes away) responsible for him.

We knew, at some point, he would need to get out on his own, learn to be independent. The challenge? He can’t really be by himself. He has no concept of money. He will never drive. And he doesn’t always have common sense when it comes to some things. So he will need frequent supervision. Our plan was to get him moved into an apartment and the family would take turns dropping by to check on him – take him meals once in a while, etc.

I came up with the plan of moving him into our rental house across the street. He would pay us rent and we could keep a close eye on him. (He gets money from the government every month due to his disability and might I just add – THIS IS WHAT GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS WERE MEANT TO DO: to help those that can’t fully help themselves. NOT SUPPORT PEOPLE WHO ARE MENTALLY AND PHYSICALLY CAPABLE OF WORKING. *ahem* Focus Karen, focus). No one is currently living in the house now and we need to get someone in there so we can start paying down our loan.

Kevin originally bought the house with his parents in mind and they are still welcome to move in, as soon as they sell their house. The problem? Who knows when that will be. It could be months. It could be years. In the meantime, Roy can live there and we’ll come up with another solution if/when his parents sell their house and/if they still want to move in when that happens. We talked about this plan and he was going to present this plan to his parents after bowling with Roy.

Things sort of reached a breaking point on Sunday night. Kevin left to go bowling with Roy and was gone for several hours. He was gone so long, I started to become worried about him. When he finally came home, he had Roy with him. He felt like the situation was getting worse and why wait?

Our plan is happening now.

The problem is – Kevin didn’t do this gradually so Roy doesn’t have any of his stuff moved into the house yet. So, he’s living with us until we can move him into the house. I’m sure we’re still going to have to “introduce” him slowly to being in the house and living on his own. I’m going to try and talk the boys into spending a few nights with him at the rental house so he doesn’t get scared being on his own. Plus – it’s always a little spooky spending the night in a new place.

But it’s time. Kevin’s parents won’t live forever and no one in the family really wants him to live with them. And to be perfectly honest, Roy is mentally capable of living on his own, he just hasn’t up to this point. There has always been someone to baby him and look after him.

And he won’t be “alone” per se, the family will still be available and did I mention we’ll be across the street if he needs anything?

I think it’s a win-win for everyone, quite frankly.

This is going to be quite an adjustment on everyone’s parts. I think this will actually be good for Blake. He has always had a special connection to Roy – Kevin’s grandma watched Blake when he was a baby so I could continue to work and Blake and Roy have sort of grown up together. They are pretty close. For example, right now, Blake is watching TV with Roy and I can’t tell you the last time Blake came out of his room to watch TV. I think he feels like he needs to take care of Roy and that might be a good thing in the long run for Blake. Roy gives him purpose. He feels comfortable around him and he’s the most animated whenever he’s around him.

Again, a win-win situation. Stay tuned … we’re turning the page to another chapter in our lives.

Life

Breaking Silence

Good Lord, it’s 2015.

The last time I wrote/posted anything of substance was back in June.

JUNE, PEOPLE!

Six whole months I’ve neglected this blog.

UNACCEPTABLE!

To be fair, there really hasn’t been a whole lot to write about. I get up, go to work, come home, get through dinner (I’m finding that I hate to cook ANYTHING more and more), then collapse into bed, physically and mentally exhausted.

And the things that do happen, I can’t really talk about, or am cautious about writing about, because it’s work related and though no one I work with knows about this blog, I have crossed that fine line and accepted people I work with on Facebook so it might be a matter of time before they find this blog so I have to be careful what I write about because I’ve already offended someone in my family with my hot-headed blabber mouth, and/or fingers in this case and I really don’t want to offend anyone I work with because I see the people I work with more than my own family.

But life. She’s passing me by. She’s not waiting around for me. She’s trudging ahead and I’m left stumbling after her. Events, thoughts, milestones (we’ve had milestones? Yeah, I guess we have) are whizzing past me so that my life is fast becoming a blur of fleeting thoughts and impressions – it’s time I put the brakes on and slow Mother Time waaay down by attempting to capture snippets and pin them on this blog.

Again.

Should I start where I left off in June? I haven’t even told you about our Cruise to Alaska ALMOST TWO YEARS AGO.

Though the boys are still living with us, they have also gone through some changes.

And there’s the rental house, which still hasn’t been rented out yet.

Did you even know I’m using a new blog template? I actually bought this one so it will be sticking around for quite some time – though I can switch up the color schemes once in a while so I don’t got completely out of my head with boredom.

Did I mention my dominant arm, (I’m left handed), has been hurting like a Mother Effer ever since I got the damn flu shot in November?? I’m beginning to think I have damaged my ulnar nerve, or maybe carpal tunnel? (*shudder* Say it ain’t so!)

Have I mentioned that I’m nearly a half a century old?! And how that both annoys and terrifies me?

Have I mentioned that I’m finally, FINALLY, comfortable in my own skin and though I’m “technially” overweight and need to lose 30 lbs, I’m sort of okay with that? (Though I AM going to start back on the treadmill soonish – okay – like tomorrow – for reals).

Did you know that our 25th wedding anniversary is THIS MAY (what?? How did that happen??) and we won’t be going on our Hawaiian Cruise because money is tight and we’re being responsible people by putting it off another year, or two? (*sigh*)

I bet you didn’t know that Brandon is 19 and on his THIRD job, did you??

Christmas was one of the low lights of our year this year. Not because it wasn’t great, it was just .. meh. Every day is Christmas in our house. Truly. (Does that sound pretentious?) Since money is a bit on the tight side right now (rental houses don’t improve themselves, don’t cha know), Kevin and I bought each other one gift each (I bought him a fancy-smancy power strip/box thing for his band – did I mention the drummer and bass player quit and they’ve been working on replacing band members) and Kevin bought me a laptop cooling tray … thing … so I don’t scorch my fleshy thighs and … yep, that was our Christmas. We bought the boys all practicable things – such as pots and pans (and may I just say, NICE pots and pans from the Food Network – I got a deal on a set, two saucepans, two skillets, both regular and deep-dish style, a big pot to boil pasta and two cookie sheets), a toaster, a fancy-smancy one cup coffee maker (because Blake drinks more coffee than I drink now), bathroom towels, kitchen gadgets and silverware. And yes, the boys were as excited to receive all of these things like you were excited to read about them.

BUT – they will appreciate said gifts when it’s time to move out BECAUSE that’s our goal, well, that’s me and Kevin’s goal, to move the boys out into their own apartment THIS YEAR.

IF Brandon can keep this job after the holidays. He was hired on as holiday help. (There’s another story for another time).

Did I tell you that I read 66 books last year?

2014-books

And that my goal is to read 62 books this year?

Now that’s one thing I DID do right this year – I read my butt off. In fact, I have three gift cards to Barnes and Noble that I’m going to use on ebooks. Because I can’t even tell you the last time I’ve read an actual book – my Kindle is becoming a permanent body part. I’m trying to figure out how to convert a Nook ebook to a format that Kindle will recognize and I think I have it figured out. (Pst … I found this website that will convert it to a MOBI, which is what the Kindle recognizes. But don’t quote me on that yet. I’m buying a book tonight to see if I can make this work. If it doesn’t work, don’t shoot the messenger, k?)

And I don’t buy books very often, either. I usually “borrow” them from the library, though I end up downloading them and transferring them to my Kindle because trying to read a library book in the two weeks the library sets up puts too much pressure on me and I don’t need anymore stress in my life, thank you very much.

Kevin is great. He still has his office and he’s still looking for “that perfect client, or five.” He’s been SUPER busy on the rental house and honestly, I couldn’t be more impressed with him. Is there nothing the man can not do?!? The house doesn’t even look the like the same house. (Note to self – brag more about the hubby).

I’m on a mission to give my professional life a kick in the butt. Either sweet talk my boss into allowing me to take the certified medical assistant certification early (will need to jump through some hoops to make that happen) and/or work on an alternative plan that quite honestly, scares the shit out of me but I think I could make it happen providing I can find the courage to actually take that first step.

Vague much?

And my nurse at work just text me (I left early today) to tell me that the CT machine is down and she had to cancel some appointments. AARGH.

It’s always something.

And that brings us up to date, sort of. Those are the highlights; I’ll see if I can’t do a better job of putting flesh on those bare bones.

Oh. I got to see a carpal tunnel suture removal today. I’ve never done the sutures, though I’ve taken quite a few staples out. It was cool. You just snip and then pull the sucker out. I’m rather spoiled on removing staples/sutures. My doctor has it set up where his post-op patients come in for their first visit two weeks after surgery, which is when they need to have their staples/sutures removed and the PA takes care of removing them so I rarely have an opportunity to remove them myself. I think that part of the job scared me the most when I first started doing this job – I would feel sick to my stomach when I had to do it. It still sort of weirds me out whenever it comes up, but I’m feeling more confident about it now.

I can admit, with all honestly, there is NEVER a dull moment in health care. NEVER.

Saturday Photo Hunt

Saturday Photo Hunt – Family

This week’s theme: Family

I tried. I really, honest to God tried, but I just couldn’t allow myself to post the original picture because my hair – good gravy – I look like a football player complete with broad shoulders and helmet hair. So, this is a more flattering picture of me. *grin* Now my guys, they look awesome!

Family Shot - Oct '08
Find out the next Photo Hunt Theme.

Life

Worth the Sweat and Hard Work

Camping is not for everyone.

You must be willing to get dirty, to be sweaty, to take showers in different, sometimes bug-infested places and to show body parts to strange people while pretending that walking around in a towel in front of women you’ve never seen in your life before and will most likely never see again, is all perfectly commonplace.

But camping? DOES it for me. And my family? LOVES it.

Which is really odd for me to say because though I’m not exactly a “prissy” sort of girl, I don’t care to get dirty. I DON’T enjoy gardening, on any level. Why? Because I can’t stand the thought of having dirt under my fingernails or possibly running the pads of my fingers over a cold, slimy worm. In fact, I don’t enjoy any sort of outdoor work mainly because I can’t stand that outdoorsy smell that clings to your skin and clothes when you come back in.

I don’t swim in lakes because of the fishy, moldy, NASTY lake smell and the fact that you’re swimming in pond scum and God knows what else. And I can barely stand to wade into the ocean because when seaweed wraps it’s slick fingers around my legs it makes me gag and feel all … icky (how’s that for an original adjective?).

And yet, I’m okay with camping.

Go figure.

Camping is A LOT of work. It’s a lot of work to prepare our camper – soak the fold-down canvas beds with waterproof solution, check, and patch any leaks, replace a faulty faucet, tear out soaked cardboard and insulation because the caulk on one of our seams had aged and cracked and it leaked, air up the tires, make sure the propane tanks have enough gas, the brakes on our camper are working properly (this was especially important when we went camping in Colorado last year), blahblahblah.

And then, packing the thing with clothes, bedding, towels, food (we’ve learned that buying our perishable food when we reached our destination is SO MUCH EASIER than stressing about whether it’s staying cold in a cooler the whole trip), cooking utensils, cookery, plastic forks, spoons, knives, dish soap, paper towels, coffee maker, coffee mugs (I almost always forget coffee mugs), entertainment …. and on and on.

In essence, when you pack a camper, you’re furnishing a small house – it’s time consuming, back-breaking and really sweaty work hauling stuff back and forth between the house and the camper – both coming and going.

And yet, we do it, several times a year … and we enjoy it.

Well, me and the boys enjoy it; I think the husband just tolerates it because of me.

The camping bug usually bites me in mid-summer. I don’t care camping in the spring because my guys have allergies and the few times we’ve camped in the spring, it’s been a miserable experience for them – so we don’t.

By mid-summer, I don’t know, I just yearn to be outdoors, to appreciate nature, to breathe in that fresh air you only get when you leave the city, to hear the nature creatures and insects you can only hear when you’re away from the buzz of the city. It’s soothing, it’s peaceful, it’s rejuvenating.

But if I EVER talk about going camping at the end of July/first of August again, you have my permission to reach across cyber space and flick me on the forehead.

For those just tuning in, we went camping this past weekend – in 100 degree weather. Wow. It was not only hot (which I can handle), but it was stuffy and unbearable (which I can not handle). This past weekend was a heat wave. And to make matters even more uncomfortable, there was no wind. None. Walking outside was like trying to breathe through a blanket. The air was heavy, thick and moist. Within minutes of being outside, your skin beaded with moisture and felt clammy and unnatural.

In essence? It was miserable camping weather. We’ve camped when it’s been hot before, but not anything like this. The skies were clear, the atmosphere was hazy and people walked around liked zombies because it was simply too much of an effort to be anything more.

So, we didn’t venture outside our air conditioned camper very often. We sat around and read, played games and watched movies, and we were perfectly okay with that. We wanted a brief getaway where we did … nothing. We had no agenda. We had no desire to get out and see the sights because we’ve seen them a million times before. (We camped in Branson for the like the umpteenth time). We simply wanted to get away and … breathe, a chance to catch our breath and focus on just being together.

I think the boys really like camping because the husband and I pay attention to them. The husband and I enjoy camping with the boys because they actually acknowledge our existence. We get so caught up and distracted with other things and responsibilities at home, that we often find ourselves co-existing, and not much more.

I bought some of those cheesy plastic ball lights that you string up along your awning. We’ve always wanted them but just never got around to buying them in the past. We strung those lights up and one night, we oiled our skin up with insect repellent and sat outside together under those lights. It was a comfortable, companionable silence, the silence that you typically experience with people you’re around a lot.

And then something wonderful happened – the boys began talking.

If you are, or have ever been, a parent of a teenager, then you’ll know that when these “talk” sessions happen, you savor every minute of it. It’s hard enough to communicate with your teenager at the best of times, but it’s certainly a rarity if they VOLUNTEER information about themselves or what they’re thinking.

We sat around and had a really good chat. They talked, and we listened. We asked them questions, and they actually answered them, honestly. It was an insightful and rewarding pow-wow with our sons. We caught a glimpse of the men they were becoming and we were quite pleased with what we saw.

We have been blessed with some truly great kids.

We spent the majority of our time playing a board game. It’s called Blokus and in essence, it’s a reality-based Tetras game. You can only place your pieces on the corner of your own colored pieces and when you run out of places you can place your tiles, you count up how many squares you have remaining and the person who has the least squares, wins.

Blokus - New Board Game

We really had a great time playing that game. It’s a strategy THINKING game (as opposed to all of those RPG shoot-first-ask-questions-later games the boys are in to), and we shared quite a few laughs trying to outwit each other. I think MK might have won the most games, which doesn’t surprise me, he is the linear thinker in the family (well, he and the husband – they are two peas in a pod). GD and I held our own, though. (Translation: We weren’t TOTALLY boring to play. šŸ˜€ )

See this happy, relaxed smile?

Blokus Craze

THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is what I like about camping: the easy camaraderie, the relaxed atmosphere and the chance to be together and enjoy each other.

It makes all the sweat and hard work seem insignificant in comparison.

Life

Family Friday – Ants, Tanning, Passed, Awards

Family Friday is my your chance to catch up with what’s going on with the family. Lucky, lucky you. šŸ˜‰

Cast of characters:
The hubs
Me
GD – oldest son (15)
MK – youngest son (13)

The Hubs: The hubs has been pretty busy at work. The first of the month is usually the busiest time for him (he’s the CFO of a finance company). When he’s not crunching numbers at work, he’s working on our lawn – planting grass seed, putting down dark mulch, fixing sagging gutters, mowing and crawling under the house.

I wasn’t sure about the dark mulch at first.

Dark Mulch

Actually, I didn’t have much of a choice. The hubs took off one Saturday and came back with a truckload of the stuff. He tends to do that, make executive decisions without consulting the executive.

That would be me, in case anyone was confused. šŸ˜€

And he was halfway done putting it down before I really noticed what he was doing. (The outside? Yeah, his domain – I stay out of it). At first, I was a bit … cautious with my opinion. It was so … dark. But after a few days, it really grew on me and now I quite like it. I think it adds a whole new level of contrast to our house next to the light gravel and brownish stones.

Was I upset that he went ahead and did that without asking me? Not really. I’m quite used to it (he once came home with a $600 canoe and announced, “Guess what we’re going to do this summer! Go fishing on the lake!”)

I trust the husband’s decorating opinions. And I generally agree with him – emphasis on the generally. *cough*

He’s also been crawling under our house. We, um, sort of have an ant problem. Not the big, ugly black kind of problem, but the teeny tiny thousands that just appear out of nowhere in the time it takes you examine the dirt under your fingernails. I honestly don’t know where these critters are coming from, but they’re everywhere. We’ve been really cautious about making sure everything is wiped up and the floor has been swept but every time I turn around, I find another thousand or so crawling around.

For instance, I opened the pantry up the other day to get something (I can’t remember what, but if I’m opening the pantry, it’s because of something important – you think I LIKE walking into a room full of tempting/fattening goodies?) and nearly came unglued when I came face-to-face with a colony of ants that were having quite the picnic on our Rice Crispy Treats cereal.

And then the other morning, I opened the cabinet to grab the honey so I could make the boys a sandwich for their lunch and nearly lost my breakfast at the swarm covering every square inch of the little, sweet honey bear bottle.

Okay fine, I’m exaggerating, we don’t have them quite that bad, but there are enough to give me the whillies. I’ve sprayed more ant spray in the past week to replace the smog over L.A. And then tonight, when we were eating our dinner, I noticed about five flying ants. WTH? (At least, I hope they were flying ants and not termites. Please God, anything but termites).

Our house is being controlled by critters. Guess what we’re going to be doing this weekend? Yep, spraying the heck out of house. We also bought some ant stuff to sprinkle around our foundation to hopefully kill the suckers already in the house.

Me: I’ve been tanning. *sigh* I know I’m probably going to receive some flack for telling ya’ll that, but yep, I’ve been baring my soul to the tanning gods. And I can just hear several of you out in there cyberworld asking, “WHY Karen? WHY would you do that to yourself?”

Answer? I’m not quite sure. I haven’t tanned for a number of years and I can’t really pinpoint one reason why I’m doing it this year. But I suppose part of the reason is because I feel ugly. I’m so WHITE. Like fish belly white. It’s gross. And I’m going to be forced to don a bathing suit in the next week because the weather is warming up and the boys will want to go swimming. The thought of my white skin against the white concrete at the pool makes me want to rub my temples in pain. Can you IMAGINE what that white-on-white might do to the other people at the pool? It could blind them! Iā€™m only thinking of their well being, you understand. šŸ˜€

I’ve been lamenting on the fact that I can’t find any clothes that flatter me. So I suppose, after wasting countless hours trying on clothes that accentuate my every flaw (and trust me, there are several flaws to accentuate), I was feeling a bit down on myself. And tanning makes me feel … sexy. In fact, it was funny, but as I was lying on the tanning bed being cooked alive (don’t you love how I’m reinforcing everyone’s notions about the evils of tanning?) listening to the radio, I endured commercial after commercial about various lotions that would enhance your “deep, dark, sexy tan”. And for the low, low price of only $50, you too could walk around looking like a burnt French fry!

I kid you not. The lotions for sell at my tanning salon are FIFTY DOLLARS for ONE BOTTLE. Isn’t that outrageous?! So of course, being the el-cheapo that I am, I went to Wal-Mart and bought an eight dollar bottle of Hawaiian Sun and guess what? It’s working just fine.

Tanning Lotion of Choice

I should get paid for that picture, don’t you think? hehe

GD: Ding Dong, the math problem is dead. GD had his math final yesterday and found out his overall grade before he left class – 76%. Not too bad, not too impressive either. He could have done better, he’s capable of so much more. But quite honestly? I was THRILLED. He passed with a solid C which means he won’t have to go to summer school. And this also means I won’t have to stress about missing summer school when we go to Washington DC next month.

He was pretty proud of himself.

It's Nearly Over

Apparently, there were quite a few other kids who didn’t pass. I don’t know if he just had a hard teacher, or what, but this was a hard class for him. Granted, the hubs, who WORKS in the math field, thought it was college-level algebra so maybe the material was just a bit too hard for his age, I don’t know. All I know is that that is a huge weight off my shoulders and I can finally start breathing easier once again.

GD also had an opportunity to win a free car – a Kia Rio – but he blew it.

The kids need to achieve a certain attendance percentage all year long to be eligible to put their name into a pot for a drawing for a free car at the end of the school year. Then each high school in the city draws out five names and those names are then sent to the car dealership. The dealership then shuffles up the names of the five kids drawn from each high school and whoever they pick wins the car. Doesn’t that sound like fun? And what a great program to entice the kids to show up everyday.

GD had perfect attendance this year (so did MK). As a result, he was able to turn in two cards, perfect attendance for each semester. We filled them out, gave them back to him and reminded him a gazillion times to turn them in because heck, you never know, right?

He didn’t turn them in. And when we asked him why? “I forgot.”

Bull-larkey! The kid was simply too shy to walk his skinny butt into the office and hand them over. AARGH!!! This son of mine REALLY needs to get over his aversion to people! Just think! He could have won!! The hubs was pretty ticked off at him when he found out he didn’t turn them in. And he’s REALLY HOPING that someone from GD’s school wins that car so he can pound that particular nail into his coffin just a bit more firmly.

MK: Yesterday was MK’s 7th grade honors assembly. And judging by the sheer number of things the boy walked away with, his name was called A LOT.

Cashing in on the Awards

And he’s not even holding up the four certificates he received.

Beginning with the ribbons – every year, the PTA has an arts program called “Reflections.” And the kids can enter something in one of four categories: literature, photography, musical composition, and drawing. This year the theme was: I Can Make a Difference By … Actually, I make this sound like it’s a voluntary program, it’s not. The kids are required to enter something. So, MK whipped up a musical composition. In his essay that went with the composition he said something about how there is too much trash and negativity in today’s music and how he would make music that was positive and uplifting for kids. (That’s my boy!) He didn’t spend that much time putting it together, but he won 2nd place at his school. This meant his entry could go on to the state level, where he received an honorable mention. Hence the ribbons.

The letter: MK had to do three of several things in order to earn that letter. The three things he opted to do was try out, and make, honors band, try and out and make jazz band, and compete in the solo and ensemble competition (he was part of a saxophone ensemble).

The bars you see on his shirt: One was for jazz band, one was for honors band, and the last one was for the ensemble. He also received a certificate for the ensemble competition where they earned a one (this is a good thing).

He was nearly bursting at the seams when I picked him up from school yesterday sporting all of his cool memorabilia. He’s worked so hard all year long that it was really rewarding to see HIM so richly rewarded. All of the goodies and the recognition in front of his peers (he had to walk across a stage and accept his prizes) has really fired him up to do the same thing next year with the addition of pep band, too. (Though I suspect the main reason for the pep band thing is because the girl he’s had a crush on for the past three years made cheerleading and will be at the games – but I’m only speculating of course. I’m just the mom, what do I know?)

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