School has been the biggest mistake

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First day of school from our new home

It is horrible to say, but school has been the biggest mistake.  I’m seriously missing homeschool. So why might you ask did we enroll them?  There are many reasons, all we thought were right at the time.

From September 2014 into last year DCF was urging us to move forward with Khloe’s evaluations, suggesting going through the school.  Unfortunately Boston wouldn’t do it because despite still being considered Boston residents while in a shelter,  we wouldn’t be local for multiple evaluations so we needed to transfer homeschooling to Leominster.   The process was quite simple,  a form like Boston requiring less than a full education plan, but a little more than Boston asked for.  After everything was processed she began evaluations and the school suggested enrollment. 

In July our DCF worker said that due to the schools recommendation they are required to enforce the suggestion of enrollment.  I contacted HSLDA and got a scholarship for membership.   We were ready to fight!! HSLDA was behind us and I was pretty certain we would win.  The school didn’t get the chance to see Khloe’s behavior and there was no way I could go to constant meetings or pick her up if she was behaving too badly to control her.

In August we got the call that we were approved for our apartment and would be getting the next available three bedroom,  so hubby and I talked about the pros and cons.  Our reasons for homeschooling was Khloe’s behavior problems,  Keira’s anxiety,  not having a stable / permanent living situation,  controlling their education (adjusting teaching above or below “grade level” based on their individual learning), not liking the Boston Public Schools and some smaller more personal issues.  We always told ourselves when our living situation was stable and more permanent we would give them the option to try school.  We spoke to members of the community and found the schools seemed to be decent and with our moving we’d be having many meetings with housing, getting documentation to various departments, moving and more, so not having all 4 kids to drag around would make it a bit easier.

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First day of school

A week before school began we talked to the girls about if they wanted to go to school and Khloe and Keira decided they wanted to try it out,  but Kaylee wanted to continue homeschooling.   The process was simple I was picked up by a cab, filled out documents and we waited to find out their school and bus information,  which we got a week after school began.  The whole time I was filled with regrets,  I just had a bad feeling.

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They were excited,  though the weekend before they started Keira changed her mind.  The morning of their first day Keira had a massive panic and I had fight myself not to grab her up and keep her home.  Khloe on the other hand was beyond thrilled and couldn’t get on the bus fast enough.  I was so sad, one child I was forcing to go, telling her to test it out for the year and that she wanted it, while the other couldn’t get away from us fast enough.

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To be continued on why it has become a huge mistake……

We have a home

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Dining area

Yes you read that right, we have a home!!  Shortly after my blog went down in August we got the call that we were next on the wait list in our top choice apartment complex.  They didn’t have an idea when an apartment would open up, but the next one was ours.

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Living room

We applied in March and now needed to update all our paperwork because it was out dated.  The complex rents based on income and there is a max you can make based on family size despite offering market rent units.  The units are on the low end of market rent and part of the complex is subsidized,  but it is nice and affordable (kind of).

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Kitchen

By September we were waiting on our bank to return proof of account for myself and a family had given an October 1st move out date!!! This meant we could be in by October 15th at the soonest.   We began getting our stuff in storage and at my in-laws prepared to move and signing all the documents to receive Homebase ($8,000 towards move in, mattresses and partial rent assistance for the first year) and waited.

On November 2nd we moved into our 3 bed, 1.5 bath apartment.  Life has been insane since then.  We were told our assistance wouldn’t change, but it did and now we’re struggling between buying toiletries and paying our electric bill.  Right after we moved in (literally our last day in shelter was listed as November 3rd) they announced on November 4th the shelter was closing and most would be getting a rental voucher.  We were approved for one and it is income based, but instead of helping it raised our rent $58 more a month which leaves us in the red around $185 a month. We’re working through it,  but it’s tough and hopefully we’ll get ahead soon enough.

I’m an amazing liar

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It’s true, I’m an amazing liar. I’m not talking about in a bad way, just not really elaborating. You know when someone asks how you’re doing and you respond quickly with “oh, I’m good and you?” I’m not talking about every day people. Not the woman at the bus stop also wrangling her children making idle chatter. Not the cashier ringing up your groceries trying to fill the void while you’re wondering if you can afford that bag of chips you grabbed to eat hiding in the bathroom later. I’m talking about family and friends you don’t see on a regular basis.

After you answer they just stare at you, waiting and hoping you’ll get into how life has been, but how can you when your answer of “good” was nothing more than a lie. The last couple months “good” has been my response to everyone. “How’s the new apartment?” “It’s good.” “How’s the family?” “Everyone’s good.” “How’s school going for Khloe and Keira?” “It’s going good.” Just to change it up and dare we say fine, or even great to throw them off.

I won’t lie life is well good. It’s average, but amazing, insane, but beautiful. A lot has happened since I last posted. I wanted to post, but you might have noticed my blog was down. I wasn’t happy about, nor was it something I wanted to do. Due to the horrible WIFI at the shelter I didn’t have a good enough connection to update my WordPress and someone decided it was the perfect time to take advantage of the weakness and uploaded malicious files. My host took my blog down, locked me from doing anything other than deleting and backing up my files and with limited connection it was nearly impossible.

If you’re not familiar with WordPress there is a simple option to back up and download the file that stores your posts, comments, images, sidebar information and more and unfortunately I had not done one in a while and I had no access to do one now. I had to manually back everything up and when I manually restored it I was getting error messages or crashing my blog, so that’s why it’s a bit messed up and there is nothing in my sidebars. I’m hoping to find the time to get it all fixed, but time is something I don’t have much of. In the next few days/posts I’ll update on how life has been and how it’s going.

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I’m happy in my skin, but I’m not….

A friend shared a photo from a page on Facebook called the Beauty Revealed Project.  The photos through out the page really inspired me.  Every woman is beautiful in her own unique way regardless of their physical appearance and more so as they literally expose their postpartum bodies.

I’ve always struggled with my weight and for years I took care of everyone else, but didn’t take care of me.  I was in one horrible relationship after another and I had a drinking problem.  My life consisted of work, drinking all night, sleep and repeat.  I had no self confidence.  I hated my look and myself.

After years of abusing myself I smartened up.  I began working for Lancome where my appearance was what sold the product and made me money, I needed to look good.  Over my first year working there I dropped at least 60lbs.  I came to terms with the possibility that I was infertile and might never have kids.  I worried about myself and not being in a relationship or if someone needed my help.  I ate healthy rather than sitting down at night with a tub of ice cream watching TV or going out drinking.  I was nearly happy with me!  Sure I was still a little squishy, but I was skinny and the extra flab could be worked away.

I had no intentions of seeking out a relationship.  I focused on work, spending time with my family and doing stuff I enjoyed.  I didn’t worry about everyone else or what they were thinking.  When I met Richie (I think I might have shared our story before) I never imagined being here today.  He had friended me on MySpace and I had completely forgotten he was on my list.  Everyone on my list I knew personally or had talked to for years and had no problem with them having my number.  I sent out a bulletin to everyone on my list with my new cell number and he replied telling me if I shared my number people might call it, I replied and your point?  He began calling and texting me.  We’d spend hours at night on the phone and would text during breaks, but I refused to meet him.  I wasn’t looking for a relationship and I was done with meeting people that I met online.  I had been hurt too many times and I refused to let it happen again.  When one night he happened to go visit a friend and it turned out I knew the friend, we decided to meet a couple days later.  I wasn’t planning on it turning into a relationship, I just wanted to hang out because we got along well, but we just grew closer and closer.

A couple weeks after meeting I was told about a position in my previous industry.  Less work, more money and I could wear jeans!  I remember he came with me to my interview and waited outside until I was done.  Several days later they called me and offered me the position and he was the first I called.  I began working at my new job about a month into our relationship and things were going well.  Imagine my surprise when I realized I was two months late.  The first month I chalked up to regulating my cycle to everyone I worked with as they had just gotten over their periods when I started.  I never miss two cycles in a row, so something was going on.  I had no insurance yet so I opted to head to a free clinic near my job.  As I sat talking to the lady about my options, I just kept thinking I don’t have to worry about options, I can’t get pregnant.  That test is going to be negative.  I am destined to not have children.  When she ever told me is was positive I just about laughed, cried and screamed all at once.  This is not possible!  I just started a new job that I loved, we’d only been together for two months.  I thought he was going to leave me and I was going to get fired.

Things went well with the pregnancy, I didn’t get fired.  Richie and I did split a month later and I continued growing.  I gained over 50lbs during my pregnancy.  My failed induction resulted in a c-section.  I was alone and this was my first surgery.  I had never broken a bone and the most I had was three stitches after cutting my hand open.  Sure my mom was there for the delivery, but she had to return to work.  That first night I was alone with my beautiful newborn daughter Khloe dealing with trying to make nursing work and being in pain.  I told myself over and over I can do this!  I can be a single mom!

I was sad for a couple weeks after her birth.  I thought I would never meet someone again.  No one wants to date a flabby single mom.  To my shock at my four week postpartum visit I had already dropped 45lbs.  Shortly after that Richie and I reconnected.  We worked through our problems, he helped care for our daughter.  Soon after we discussed why we felt our relationship wouldn’t work.  He told me after being without Khloe and I he realized that what he thought he didn’t want, he now couldn’t live without.  He wanted a family, he wanted more kids, he wanted marriage!  Three months later I was pregnant with Keira and by the end of 2007 we were engaged.  We celebrated six years married in September and have four amazing, beautiful and very loved children.

Since having the kids I have battled with my appearance.  For the last eight and a half years I have either been pregnant or nursing.  I am squishy.  I am scarred. I feel horrible.  Then as I was reading through stories, looking at pictures of other amazing moms sharing their postpartum bodies it hit me.  While I am not happy with my appearance, I love it.  It is this body, scarred, squishy and sagging that housed, grew and nourished our four children.  It is this body that my kids cuddle up to.  That they hug.  They run to when they are hurt or scared.  The body Richie still finds sexy.  If it wasn’t for this body and my flabby tummy I wouldn’t be able to call myself a mom.  So sure I am unhappy with it, but I love it all the same.  It might be flawed.  It might never wear a bikini.  It might never fit into skinny jeans again, but what I have is more important.  A beautiful family that loves me, for me, just the way I am.

I have a college student

I never thought I’d be posting this soon, but I have a college student!  Of course it’s not one of the kids, it’s hubby.  I didn’t want to share the news until everything was all set, but now it is.  He was having no luck in another class he was taking for job readiness and assistance in job searching so they suggested this program.  He begins on July 20th at Mount Wachusett Community College in the Advanced Manufacturing Industry Readiness Training course.  The program runs 6 weeks and will hopefully help him aquire an entry – level job in the industry.

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I’m so proud of him.  We hate living in this shelter,  but it’s been exactly what we needed to get on with our lives.  We’re all bettering ourselves and working towards a better life for our family without outside interference and rude comments.   We’ve gotten away from the toxic people who pushed themselves into our lives.  I can’t wait for his classes to begin.   I really think this is going to be a great confidence booster for him and he’ll see how amazing he really is. 

I’m in a funk

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I’ve been trying to write for weeks, but I can’t seem to come up with something to write about.   The weeks are long and boring and money is very tight.  I’m stuck in the room almost every day.   Hubby’s had no luck with the job search,  but will begin attending a local college for a free 6 week mechatronics course.  I’m hoping it will be something he enjoys and will help him land a job.

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There are kinds of rumors going through the shelter and if any of it is true it is stressful.   It’s nothing serious,  but it has to do with if we’ll all be able to remain here.  It worries us because we’ve come to really like the town and if we’re potentially moved back to the city everything we’ve worked towards already and what we have going on will be for nothing.   We’ll have to start all over, but be stuck because city living is too expensive for us.

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The kids are doing well,  but you can tell the situation is getting to them.  I’m finding it harder and harder to entertain them and occupy the time.

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When will you wake up?

I often wonder when will you wake up?  I’ve thought long and hard about writing this post knowing I’d potentially get a lot of slack from family and friends.  I questioned myself for many months,  but recently came across this post and I told myself it’s time.

I come from a family filled with addicts.  I’m surrounded by addicted friends.  I’ve watched as many lost their battle to addiction.   I buried my uncle in November,  less than four after losing another uncle to cancer (his brother) because of addiction.  I watch my sister use every day, waiting to get the call that she’s dead.  Drugs and alcohol surround me.
In some cases the addiction began the common way, an injury happened and they became addicted to pain medication.  Other cases, like my sister despite being surrounded by addiction they still turned to drugs and/or alcohol.  I won’t say how old she was, but those that know her will know it’s been a long time. 
I’d like to say I know why they turn to drugs and alcohol despite seeing what it’s done to others, but I can’t.   I’m an alcoholic. I wanted nothing more than to be black out drunk daily. I wanted to not feel. I believed I needed it.  Once I was done being distracted by the work day I was heading out to drink.  I was young.  I picked up my first drink around 13.  By the time I was 18 I was drinking almost nightly.
You might say how can I write this post being an addict? The difference is I woke up.  Shortly after turning 21 I said to myself it’s time for a change.  Despite now being legally able to drink, I stopped.   On my own, no AA or help from anyone.  I realized it was time to admit I had a problem.   I won’t lie, I’ve relapsed a few times.  I have over drank when the drinks are flowing,  but at most once a year since right before I got pregnant with Khloe in 2006.  Those handful of times it was a lapse in my judgement.  I told myself the kids were with hubby and fine, I was enjoying myself and that was it. I’m not 100% sober, but I’m now able to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner on special occasions or have a single cold drink on a hot summer day while barbecuing.  
I’m different,  I woke up.   My family is my life.  They’re my driving force.  I don’t want my children to know the sorrow of loss due to addiction.  It’s why I can’t understand when you’re surrounded by love and those trying to help you that you continue down the path of addiction.   How can you enter rehabilitation,  suffer through withdrawals, come out clean and go back to those still using.  It saddens me that when you have a clear mind that you put yourself back into situations that make it easy for you to use.
It might seem harsh, but like the post I read I’m preparing for death.  Like with my uncle I am hardening myself.   I love him and always will.   I lived more of my life in the same home as him than without.   We’d watch TV shows and movies together.  We had inside jokes.  He was like a dad to me.  Every day I hoped I wouldn’t get the call, but prepared for it.  I saw how he took the loss of his brother.  I knew he was too far down the rabbit hole and wasn’t coming back, but I hoped and prayed he would.  I hoped my sister would get another smack of reality at his loss, but she too is just going deeper and deeper.   It’s why for the sake of my addiction and my children that I tell myself that she is already dead.  When I get the call I can tell myself she was already dead it’s just time to lay her to rest.  Of course in the back of my thoughts I’ll still hope that one day she too will wake up.

My thoughts on “free range” parenting

What is “free range” parenting? The below is a definition from Wikipedia;

Slow parenting (also called simplicity parenting and free range parenting) is a parenting style in which few activities are organised for children. Instead, they are allowed to explore the world at their own pace. It is a response to concerted cultivation and the widespread trend for parents to schedule activities and classes after school; to solve problems on behalf of the children, and to buy services from commercial suppliers rather than letting nature take its course.

First of all I hate the term “free range” parenting,  kids are not chickens.  This is how I was raised 20-25 years ago and it was just parenting. I was raised in the 80s and 90s and once I was around 9 my mother allowed us (my sister 2 years younger) and I to go to the neighborhood parks and friends houses on our own. We were safe in a city that wasn’t the greatest. It is actually the most dangerous city in Massachusetts. With that said I recall hearing of only two murders during my time living there (1982 until roughly 2003), one of which was gang related. In that time frame I never heard of a single abduction or molestation. From 2000 until 2012 there was an average of 2.4 murders per year. I had a hard time finding statistics from when I was younger, but I’ve heard statistics are similar.
What I get the angriest about is all the rebuttals against “free range” parents saying things like “we’re living in a different world, it’s not as safe as when we were younger.” Fact of the matter is in most crime rates are just about the same as they’ve been for a long time, some are even a lot better. We live in a social media society. In the 80s and 90s there was no state wide Amber Alert texts when a child went missing, things were spread by word of mouth and not statuses shared, news was on at specific times or read in the daily paper and not shared on social networks or easily found online. The world has not changed to have a massive influx of criminals, just an easier way to hear about the crimes.

When I was a child there were no terms like “helicopter” or “free range” parenting. I remember my mother being a little bit of both, she hovered when she needed, but allowed us freedom to learn the world for ourselves. If I needed her she was always there, but urged me to take risks and do things for myself. Do I believe that children should be allowed 100% freedom? Of course not, but I also think hovering and sheltering your child will not allow for them to learn real life common sense or try to achieve anything on their own.

I’m not a “free range” or “helicopter” parent, but I do practice a lot of attachment parenting. If we’re outside I will do activities with the kids sometimes, other times I leave them to play on there own and keep an eye on them while doing other things. I can not see Khloe (8) walking with Keira (7) and Kaylee (5) to a park on their own even just a block away. Not because I don’t believe they’ll do well on their own, but because in some ways Khloe is not mentally 8. Can I see Keira at 10 years old taking Kaylee who will be 8 and Kaleb 6 to a community park alone within a few blocks of our home? Yes. They already know not to talk to strangers, they know how to cross streets and keep an eye on their surroundings that can safely say in 3 years they will be fully capable of doing it alone. Many kids at the age of the Drama Queens are expected to walk just under a mile to and from school, but are not allowed to stop at a park to play on their way home.

Parents are too quick to attack each other. DCF is being called on each other because they don’t parent the same way. Just because one family feels they’re children can safely go on their own to a park and you feel it is wrong does not make it ok to harass and report them to the authorities.

I was fuming

Some of you saw last week I posted on Facebook I was fuming.  On Friday Khloe and hubby had eye exams.  I recently noticed Khloe was squinting bad while reading and picking larger print books like Dork Diaries over regular print.  I’d booked her appointment with a great eye doctor across the street from the shelter. I’d already seen him to replace my glasses and to get new contacts. I really like him and felt he was thorough and would be patient with Khloe.

They came home from the exam and it went well. The doctor commented on how smart Khloe is, but how she never stopped moving.  It was a great appointment,  but why was I fuming?  She needs glasses.

I expected she would need glasses, but what we learned had me so mad. The doctor had asked if her primary care had ever mentioned her seeing an eye doctor and we said no.  Apparently she is nearsighted,  has a severe astigmatism and has most likely never seen clearly since birth.  He also said if we had not brought her in when we did her vision would have gotten worse and it would become irreversible with near blindness.

My poor baby has not been able to see properly in 8 years. I’m so beyond mad at her old pediatrician for not seeing it.   I’m mad at myself for not seeing it.   I left my daughter unable to see for 8 years.  I’m her mother, I should have seen it. I should have fixed it.  I’m thankful it was finally cauggt and she’ll finally be able to see the way she was meant to be.  I love our eye doctor and that he wants to see the other kids to be on the safe side.

Monday it begins

Monday it begins!! At 8:30am Khloe and I will be heading to the school for the first of her evaluations,  speech.  I’m not worried about her speech,  but might as well have everything evaluated and not miss anything.
I won’t lie that I’m so nervous about going. Normally hubby comes to everything with me or takes the kids on his own because of my anxiety.  He’s not good with paperwork work and discussing all Khloe’s quirks and behavioral issues as I am so my attending with her is the smarter choice.
From this evaluation I’m hoping we’ll discuss whichever will be next and then on June 10th both hubby and I have a conference at the school to go over everything.  Unfortunately I’ll have to attend alone as we have no one to watch all the kids.  No one outside the shelter program is allowed into the rooms and there is no way we can get the kids to anyone and make the conference in time.
I’m really hoping this is the beginning of moving forward and everything will become a little bit easier for all of us.