Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Well, now you have me mad

Just Tuesday, I was waiting for the speech therapist to arrive when I noticed dog poop on my capris. (Long, not glamorous story about the dog being locked in a closet.) I grumbled about it a bit and the therapist laughed and said, "You are so calm about everything!"

Haha. I am so not calm about everything. Like right now. Right now, I am PISSED.

You see, a kid has a rash. It is a common rash at the tail-end of an even more common virus. A couple nurse-friends looked at him and said, "Meh, it's the rash at the end of a virus.He's not contagious. Don't waste your time at urgent care." I didn't. I told the teacher what it was, kid felt fine, so he trotted off to school.

I got a call saying he needed to come home because the rash was spreading. He came home. Rash looked better today. I sent him back to school.

All four kids were in school at the same time today because of a field trip. Adam and I jumped on the chance to see each other before 9 pm and were out the door to breakfast when the call came. Kid still has a rash and since a physician didn't confirm that he is not a germ infested cess pool, kid MUST LEAVE SCHOOL.

Oh, hell no.


My kid wants to be in school and you want to send him home for no reason? Not gonna fly. You want an MD to confirm what 3 nurses told us- it's nothing, don't worry? Good, you can pay the 75 dollar co-pay at urgent care. What? You have no sympathy that 75 dollars is not a drop in the bucket for us? And then...

"I'm sorry that you don't care about the health and well being of your child or the others in the school."

Excuse me? Excuse ME? EXCUSE ME?! Oh no YOU DID NOT. I just sat there, stunned. One does not play the "you don't care about their health" card. Nope. Nope. I have a therapist, medication and a diagnosis that would say otherwise. In fact, I've spent the past six years working to NOT freak out over every cold and cough.

Me, who will Google what whopping cough or the croup sounds like when a kid has a super-nasty cough.

Me, who has been known to count respiration and look for retractions.

Me, who has done CPR on her own kid.

Me, who has scrubbed up to her arm pits to end the NICU and used so much hand sanitizer in nursing homes that the staff looks at me weird.

I'm going to remember how much I don't care when I pop my anti-anxiety and anti-depressants. When I go to my therapist, when I have my sister and friends talk me down off the ledge and remind me that my kids are really healthy and fine.

The kicker? I just defended this person as a professional to someone else this weekend!

Oh, and the double kicker? Another kid had a low grade fever and was pulling on his ear. They couldn't reach me so they sent the kid back to class! What happened to calling emergency contacts?! Forgive me if I don't take the ZOMGOSH RASH! seriously.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Wonderment of a good job

My drop off in blogging is a direct result of my new-ish job coaching swimming. I work evenings now. It's not for every long, about 3 hours an evening, but by the time I get home, I am so brain dead. I just want to, and often do, curl up in bed and go to sleep. I'm so thankful I am home during the day to take care of the kids and the house because otherwise nothing would get done!
I adore my job. It's not perfect- nothing is- but I like the coaches, the kids and the parents. I have fun and I learn alot from everyone. But, even though I am so happy doing what I love, I have been having horrible anxiety-driven dreams. It took me several weeks to figure out why- I'm happy! Life's good! Sure, there are still challenges at home and stuff but why am I having anxiety over my job??
Then it hit me- I have hardly ever been in a good work situation. My first teaching job was a disaster. I was totally set up to fail. When I coached another team six years ago, I had a great director, until she left for another position. The new director was the one who fired me because I had a baby. In both positions, I would be told to change something, or do something different, and I would. But it was never good enough, it was never right. Maybe I'm older, wiser or my give a damn is still off because when the head coach tells me to do something or whatever, I don't feel like she's trying to make me fail. Or maybe they just like me and want to help me.
It's weird being in a spot where I feel people like me. For me, it's not normal to think of the long term possibilities in a job. So I don't, really, I don't dare to hope that I will be there in the fall or winter. I mean, I want to! How I WANT to be with this team, these coaches, long term! I would be crushed to lose my job. And hope... well, I try not to think that every time I am positive about something, I lose it. I can't. I won't walk around bitter, thinking, "well, I loved my last coaching position and look what happened!"
Instead, I tend to think in the here and now. Through the summer, I have this great job that I love. I will always have wonderful memories of being on deck. I working my hardest, correcting my mistakes and learning. I'm trying not to overthink everything I say or do. It's hard, given my past and the feeling that every time something good happens, the other shoe will drop.
Because, really, that's not a fun way to live.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Guest Post: SCHISM book release!

Guest Post: Masks - A portrait of Lea Huckley

Thank you for hosting me on your blog today. I’m very excited about SCHISM being released into the world, and I’d like to talk a little about one of the main characters, Lea Huckley. Though Lea is introduced as a secondary character, she’s a co-protagonist alongside Gabe. As the story progresses, she becomes more and more important.

Lea is exceptionally fun to write. She’s driven, overtly “Type A,” and quite analytical. She’s also got her own host of issues. Because her parents were falsely incarcerated in a mental institution from the time she turned eight, Lea struggles with others’ perceptions of her. She wears a “mask” over her emotions and acts how she wants other people to see her.

Essentially, Lea pretends to be eccentric and a little crazy, so if people say she’s crazy, they do so because she made them. Otherwise, they’d judge her for where her parents are, and she can separate their predicament from her own identity. Wearing this mask takes its toll, and she begins to lose sight of her real emotions. She doesn’t allow herself to feel freely. Worse than that, it blunts her ability to connect with people as well. Since she’s constantly creating a false representation, she assumes everyone else is free to do the same. How can you possibly know what someone else is feeling or thinking? She’s a terrible judge of what’s going on in someone’s head. She’d much rather be solving a concrete problem, something she can test or experiment.

Through the story, Lea obviously deals with these issues and becomes more of her true self. She opens up and allows herself to be vulnerable. Gabe certainly plays a major role in her transformation. I hope everyone enjoys reading about her as much as I had fun writing her. You can find me on the internet in the following places:

Twitter: @MaisanoLaura

SCHISM (Illirin Book One)

By Laura Maisano

Art therapy hasn’t done squat for Gabe Jones. A thousand sketches of his fiancée can’t bring his memory, or her, back to him. Nothing on Earth can. His past lies in another dimension, a world just out of sight.
Another student on campus, Lea Huckley, unknowingly shares Gabe’s obsession with the fourth dimension. The monsters from the other side attacked her parents and fled, getting her folks locked up in the loony bin. Proving this other world exists is the only way to free them. Lea and Gabe strike a deal to help each other, and together they manage to open a door to the world of Gabe’s true origin. She’d use him for proof—if she didn’t already care too much.
While Gabe tries to reconcile his feelings for Lea and his rediscovered memories of his fiancée, a much more sinister plot unravels. He uncovers his history just in time to become the unwilling lynchpin in a conspiracy to start a war. His memory holds the secret to the final riddle the would-be conqueror needs to get the upper hand. Gabe must protect the riddle at all costs, even if that means leaving Earth, and Lea, behind forever.

Lea packed light. Other than her phone’s GPS and a flashlight, she kept a small notepad, her lucky pencil, and the thermometer in her cargo pocket. She didn’t need to find data, now she needed proof.
She led the way down the alley where skyscrapers blocked the glowing moon and the lamps from the highway. Yellowed fixtures above each back entrance threw faint cones of light onto the cement, like holes in Swiss cheese.
Lea checked the coordinates on her phone while she walked, and the little red arrow crept closer to the flag icon she placed to mark the interaction point.
Gabe spent his time surveying the area for anything that might be a danger. He kept fidgeting behind her and turning around every few seconds, a twitchy meerkat on patrol.
“We’re only between buildings. It’s not the end of the world.” Lea checked her phone again to make sure they were headed in the right direction.
He glanced over his shoulder. “I still don’t like it. It’s night, people do get mugged, you know.”
“The statistics of that are so low. We’re really not in any danger, considering the population and how many times that sorta thing happens.”
He shifted uneasily behind her. “Whatever, we’re raising the chances by being out here at night.”
Lea rolled her eyes. “I’m not missing this opportunity.”
“I know that. Neither am I.”
They came to a cross section behind two major offices where the loading docks and dumpsters sat for both of them. A stream of water trickled down the concave cement into the large sewer grate. Old garbage left a fume hanging around, and the humidity only made it worse.
Lea double- and triple-checked her coordinates, cross-checking with her notes. “This is it. Within I’d say, a fifteen foot diameter, low to the ground.” She shoved the phone in her cargo pocket. “Perfect.”
“How long?”
“Roughly ten minutes.”
Ten minutes may as well have been six hours. She paced back and forth, her sneakers scuffing the gritty pavement.
Gabe continued to keep a watchful eye out for muggers or vagrants. What a dork.
She snickered quietly. For someone who didn’t know his own experiences, he sure seemed paranoid. She watched him standing straight, darting his eyes to the entrance and even up to the windows above them. Watch out bad guys, Gabe’s on to you. She smiled and turned to see what looked like heat waves rising from the cold cement. Crap. The interaction had already started.
“Gabe…” She waved him over next to the loading dock.
This interaction provided no shining lights or obvious movement. Not much stood out visually, except maybe the air glistening like summer heat waves if she squinted hard enough, but her digital thermometer found the coldest point.
“Here,” she whispered, not wanting anyone or anything on the other side to hear. She stretched her arms forward, and Gabe did likewise.
“On the count of three.” She waited for him to nod. “One…two…three.”
They both reached through the interaction point and grabbed at the thicker air. Nothing. They tried again, pulling, grasping, and making any sort of motion to trigger a rip. Finally, Gabe leaned in and pulled out at just the right angle, because the light tore across like a jagged line. Lea grabbed the edge of it and tugged, opening the tear wider until they both fell through.

About the Author
Laura has an MA in Technical writing and is a Senior Editor at Anaiah Press for their YA/NA Christian Fiction. She’s excited to release her debut YA Urban Fantasy SCHISM, and she’s finishing up the sequel UNITY.

Her gamer husband and amazing daughter give support and inspiration every day. Their cats, Talyn and Moya, provide entertainment through living room battles and phantom-dust-mote hunting. Somehow, they all manage to survive living in Texas where it is hotter than any human being should have to endure. Check out her blog at

Twitter: @MaisanoLaura
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Friday, April 10, 2015

Happy birthday to Cole!

Our little bird boy turned FIVE Tuesday!

He also received a Ninja Turtle LEGO set. I had to peel the bird shirt off him the next day to wash and he threw a three hour long fit until it came out of the dryer!

Grandma gave him binoculars, which he calls his "bird googles."

Today was kindergarten round up! First turning five, then round-up.... what's next? a date?! In a note of cute, he kept calling it "Kindergarten Round House," like the kick! Super adorable!

His party is in two weeks and we will be painting bird houses and making binoculars. He is super excited and can't wait.

Happy birthday sweet Bear-Bear!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Happy Easter!

Christ has risen! He has risen indeed!

Look at those four lovely children who only required an insane amount of bribery to sit still! And while I agree the fireplace is lovely, I cannot take credit for it; we took the picture at my in-laws house.

Easter was a bit different this year. Last year, we learned our lesson and held the Easter baskets back until after Mass. Yeah, it only took ten Easters to figure out that children do NOT like to be dragged away from their goodies to get ready for church and kids + candy + no proper breakfast does not equal good Mass behavior.

So! Last year I took Easter pictures after Mass while Adam set out the baskets. This year, I packed up the baskets and gave them to my mother-in-law so we could do baskets at her house! Joseph had to serve at early Mass and I knew that giving them presents and candy, dragging them off to 7:30 Mass and then dragging them away from the toys AGAIN for brunch.... ugh.

We put the kids to bed early Saturday night and woke up at six am Sunday morning. I was smart enough to prep the coffee the night before and got a few sips and a granola bar in before we had to leave. All the kids had a granola bar (or, in Cole's case, frozen corn- weirdo) for breakfast. Super early Mass was nice because it was crowded for 7:30 but no more crowded than our normal 9 am Mass. Getting out was hairy, as the nine am crowd was coming in and Cole decided that he wanted donuts and was going to lay prostrate on the floor and cry until he got one. Unfortunately for him,we don't have donut Sunday on Easter and I had to basically drag him out of the church crying. (A couple people asked if it was post-candy meltdown but he hadn't had any!) We did end up getting donuts because it is Easter and we suck as parents.

Brunch was at my in-laws and, again, it was more relaxed than in years before. I brought a birthday cake to celebrate Cole's fifth birthday on Tuesday and a huge fruit salad. With bagels, eggs and ham, I am now in a post- brunch coma.

Of course, Easter baskets:
I got organized and didn't over buy this year! Since I am never without a child during the day, it is super hard to go from store to store. I just ordered everything from Amazon. They received a toy (in Joe's case, a movie), book, Nerf darts, some Minecraft figures Joe found at a consignment store (six figures for 7 dollars- nice work kid!) and a chocolate bunny. In case anyone is looking for ideas:

almost 11 year old boy- The Giver movie and the second book in the Maze Runner
9 year old girl- hideaway pet bunny and Dog Diaries book
6 year old boy- stuffed Creeper and 2 Pet the Cat books
almost 5 year old- stuffed cardinal that makes REAL bird noises and a bird book

Cole's cake is proof my younger siblings "stole" all the art genes. I make great tasting cakes. I can do chocolate frosting. But the look? My father-in-law said it looked like someone took a bite from the side and it did! When Cole, George and I tried to put the frosting on it, it kept crumbling. In hindsight, my friends and sister said it was probably too warm, as I had taken it out of the fridge earlier in the day. The candies on it are those malt ball eggs. I was going to make a nest on top but... no. Hey, it tasted great!

My parents got him a hummingbird feeder, more bird food and a book about birds. My little bird boy!

In all, it was probably the best Easter we've had. Nice and relaxed with the right amount of candy and leftover. The house in a normal state of disarray and I didn't have to spend all day cooking AND cleaning. Couldn't ask for a better Easter miracle.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring Break Takes

1. Spring break began on a Thursday. The kids and I relaxed at home and I finished up a class that night. The next day, we cleaned and cleaned and cleaned and my parents arrived in town that afternoon.

2. We had a free room from a hotel voucher and Adam wanted to use it for his birthday. Honestly, I would have said no except, you know, his birthday so his call. It was right near his office, 20 minutes up the road and, in my opinion, not worth the energy to pack, unpack, etc. It was a very nice hotel and I would certainly stay in one when and if we traveled but for 20 minutes up the road? Eh.

3. We had dinner at a Sushi restaurant and it was really good! I had the Godzilla rolls just so I could tell the kids I ate Godzilla! We poked around a few shops and I found Star Wars pancake molds at Williams Sonoma for $5! The kids are going to be so excited!

4. My four year old is super interested in birds now so I found a downloadable pattern on line to make a stuffed bird. I have been making birds out the wazoo for two weeks now. Everyone wants a stuffed bird! Since I have my machine out, I'm also making myself a dress using a thrift store dress and a little bag for my bird-boy.

5. Speaking of my bird-boy, I'm making him a little bag to carry his bird watching books in, binoculars and I found a shirt on Zulily with real birds on it. He informed he wants one with real birds, not Angry Birds or anything else. Do you know how hard it is to find a cute bird shirt for BOYS?

6. Spring break is... interesting. As much as I was looking forward to being off work and sitting around, I was reminded- rudely, rather- that my children do NOT do relaxing. They will watch TV or whine the whooooole time. Not cool. And they days they didn't want to do anything? It was sunny. The days they wanted to go to the zoo? Rain. UGH.

7. Summer camp sign ups began this week. Guess where you are going, kids? I'm kidding... but swim team, VBS and science camp sign ups begin soon! Our summer won't be packed but they will be busy!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

I refuse to get my hopes up

My husband has two siblings, both of whom are in the entertainment business. His younger sister works as a new producer out in CA and his brother waits tables and works in musical theater. (He also has his own web show, Vash and Justin, where he and a friend review movies.) Over the years, his brother has worked for Disney, both in the theme parks and on the cruise line.

When George was an infant, my brother-in-law had a fairly decent stint on a Disney cruise ship. As such, he received discounts that he could pass onto friends and family. My sister-in-law and my in-laws took advantage of these discounts and were able to go on the cruises.

This was 2009, so Joe was about five, Camille three and George was a baby. We had just had a NICU baby and gone through a six month long house selling and buying process. Needless to say, I was stressed beyond belief. I had very little help with anything, from a baby who couldn't go out in crowds to keeping the house perfect for prospective buyers to  keeping the children entertained when we had to leave at a moments notice. My husband was always harping on how expensive the move was or was going to be. Many days, I drove around crying as my baby screamed in the back seat as I had no where to go, no money to take them to a play area, it was often snowing and I was exhausted.

When we moved, things finally calmed down and I told my husband I really, really, REALLY needed a vacation that did NOT involve going to see his grandparents. I adore them but the kids were young and active and it was hard to keep them contained. I just needed to get away, to relax, somewhere, anywhere. BIL encouraged me to look into the discounts he received on the ship and I did. Together, we got the cost down very low and I even worked out a travel plan that would make getting to the site cheap.

My husband said no.

In the end, it was fine because we would have been there in October, when I would have been three months pregnant. For me, I was sure morning sickness and a giant ship wouldn't mix.

I sound like I handled it well but I didn't. I still don't. I was pissed. I needed a break. In the years that followed, I needed a break too but never got one. In fact, it hasn't been until I began coaching again that I feel like I've gotten a bit of a break. How ironic or sad is it that WORK is my break from STRESS?

(I love what I do, though, so don't feel too bad on that account.)

I used to make excuses to everyone, myself included if I am honest, as to why we didn't do anything other than go visit his grandparents. I used to make excuses as to why the "trip" he wanted to take was a week long but a family reunion for me was three days, most of it driving. This past year, I decided to be done with excuses. I no longer kept our summer open in the hopes that we might visit my parents or people might visit us. On the advice of one of our kids' therapists, I enrolled them in camps and fun things to do. It was probably the happiest summer I have had as a parent.

This year, I've been asked how my summer vacation schedule works with coaching. My response was, "I'll take all the hours you can give me!" I've started putting the kids in camps and swim team. My boys are doing baseball. If I can't have the family vacation I dream of, we might as well have fun at home. And when people ask me why we don't travel, I don't give them the half truths of "we can't afford it" or "we're busy." I give them a snarky version of the truth: My husband is allergic to vacations or traveling.

It's the truth because what is holding us- him- back isn't our children's ages or money or anything. He refuses to save for a trip. He says I only want to take them to Disney (not true) and he hates Disney (true). He says it is too expensive and makes up the amount of money it will cost in his head. No amount of logic or anything will convince him that no, family trips can be done for much cheaper.

The other week we used a free night in a hotel for a mini-staycation for his birthday. His brother called him to say hello and told my husband that he, BIL, had auditioned for another job on a Disney cruise ship. We are, of course, happy and hopeful that he is offered the job.

He said, "I get discounts, you know. You should bring the kids."

I snorted. "I know. Trust me, I know. It's not me you have to convince. Talk to your brother. He does not vacation."

My husband talked to his brother and, after they hung up, he said, "We should do that."

I choked. "Whatever."

"It only costs XYZ dollars."

I pointed out that it cost that much five years ago and he refused to go then. I reminded him that it would a Disney cruise and he hates Disney. There would be small children there, etc. He finally said, "Unless something else comes up, we should save for it."

I've heard this before. Something always comes up. Someone always needs therapy or new shoes or the house needs to be repaired. (Currently, it needs to be washed and painted.) He'll find an excuse to not take the kids out of school, even if they only miss a day or two, even if it will only get harder to take them out in the coming years.

I am actually refusing to discuss this with him. (To be fair, I also won't discuss our annual trip to visit his grandparents since he is not entertaining the idea of me going to a wedding.) Why? I know it won't happen. I'm toying with the idea of taking the kids to visit some friends. While I don't relish the idea of taking them alone and I really, really want a vacation with just the six of us, this is the hand I've have to deal with. I want to experience things with my kids and I'll have to do it on my own, while my husband stays behind.

And hey, if I have to stay in the midwest and be envious of other peoples vacation pictures, I might as well do it while I'm hanging out on a deck, working.