Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It's a .... thing?

It's July one, which means:
1. My oldest nephew's birthday is today! Yay!
and
2. The anniversary of my niece's passing is next week. Um, big booooo.

As a result of number two AND a wicked sinus infection that required drugs upon drugs, I've been feeling a little down in the dumps. I'm tired (thank you, stupid infection), hot (thanks, summer) and agnsty. I'm not as bad as I could be, as I'm taking great care of myself, but everything's just been a little off.

Then Sunday I logged onto Facebook and checked a local preemie charity I follow. They posted a picture of a baby they are helping and he's wearing one of my hats! A hat I donated and made in memory of Miss Who! I was really excited, as I've never seen one of my donated hats on a baby before! (I've made ones for friends and seen pictures but not one I've donated to a local NICU.) It made me feel great to know they are being loved and used!

The next day, the kids and I found a ladybug in the pool. I didn't know ladybugs could swim! When I got close to scoop her out of the pool, I noticed she had alot of spots on her back and some of them were heart shaped. I called my kids over and they agreed; heart shaped spots. She was not happy that I was trying to get her out of the water and scurried around until Camille carried her off to the roses that grow in the nearby garden.

(Ladybugs are always associated with my niece. We see them randomly but always at times that are important to us, like when we did family pictures.)

Tuesday, I fired up my computer to find... and invitation to Deanna Fei's book launch. 

To say you had to peel me off the ceiling is a major understatement! I was so, so excited! I really wanted to go but was fairly sure it couldn't happen. I mean, it will be in NYC and I am so not in NYC. Besides, I don't want to travel around a major city alone... but wait.

I have cousins. Cousins who live in New York.

What happened next was a flurry of texting and calls to my husband and my cousins. My husband found out that we have enough points to get me to New York for FREE if I stay just 48 hours. My cousin is off work that week and I can stay with her. The venue is 15 minutes away from her house and she can be my plus one! I can see my grandmother! The whole trip is going to cost me time off work and food.

I'd like to say it's a God-thing. That there's a reason this random trip resulting from a random comment left on an article is happening now. Is there? Perhaps. It's so easy to say that God (or my niece) had a hand in this trip. I mean, look how everything fell into place! I don't know, though. I think God has a hand in everything and that if this trip hadn't worked out, there would be a reason for that too. (And even though it worked out, the loss of 3 days pay for me has me nervous... hello, trust.)

Maybe this trip is a God thing.
Maybe it is a Miss Who thing.
Maybe it's .... a thing.

But at the end of the day... I'M GOING TO A BOOK LAUNCH!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Best Laid Schemes

But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men
          Gang aft agley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
          For promis’d joy!

This year, I had plans for summer. I was no longer going to put our summer on hold because we "might" travel. I wasn't going to sit around and look at everyone else's pictures of the beach,  mountains and cruises while I was at home, hitting up the neighborhood pool for the millionith time. I wasn't going to be "cruise director" and do ALL THE THINGS for the kids. Nope! Camps were to be had! Swim team needed to be coached and swum! Robotics! The LEGO exhibit at the gardens! A mother's helper to help while I worked! Imma gonna take back summer and have fun, even if my husband is allergic to traveling!

Well. Best laid schemes and all.

I've been working for a swim team that takes place year 'round (henceforth known as the Year Round Team, YRT) since September. I love it and enjoy what I am doing.  This team reminds me why I love swimming and working with the kids. It's just a good situation and a team I would happily put my kids on.

Because swimming can be seasonal and, in the past, my employment has been based off numbers, I am always slightly unsure if I will have a job in the next season. It's just the nature of the beast and has nothing to do with me as a coach. Yet most swim coaches know that if you want to pack in the hours and dollars, you can work for a summer league team. Thanks to my awesome networking skillz, I heard about a possible position with a summer league (SL) team. Long story short, I was offered the job and accepted.

I knew the head coach had a reputation for being... not what I am used to... but I figured I could work with it. I can generally work with anyone. Plus, sometimes people get a bad rap just because of one thing or because their style doesn't work for everyone. I met the head coach, HC, a couple times and could see why her personality was polarizing; you either loved or hated her. Still, it didn't bother me too much and I figured we could work together. Even though I got looks of pity from the other YRT coaches, I figured I could suck anything up for seven weeks.

I couldn't.

It came down to a few things: a) don't belittle me in front of parents and swimmers; b) I will not teach strokes incorrectly and c) don't yell and belittle the swimmers.

The parents were awesome. The place where the SL team is held is very multi-cultural and I loved getting to know people from all walks of life. The guards were great- sweet, funny and professional. I enjoyed the other coaches. It was just the HC who ruined it for me.

I mostly feel horrible. Lots and lots of people I trust- my parents, my sister, my husband and the YRT coaches- have told me it is not worth staying in a toxic situation.Not even for the money- and oh the pay was good! We could use the money but, as my mother-in-law said, most people can always use more money. Based on the events that came to a head, and pushed me over the edge into quitting, I know I pissed off the director and assistant director. I like both of them and am upset that I angered them.

And the money. Sigh. It would have gone a long way towards paying for speech. I was going to treat myself to LUSH products and spoil the kids with a trip to a water park this summer. Between the two teams, I was working 20 hours a week and the house was a mess but I would  have enough money for a housekeeper when Adam has his surgery. Oh, and we could sock it away for emergencies. Not that we can't live off just Adam's salary- we can and do. It's just... extra is nice. (Vacation anyone?)

In spite of feeling horrible, I'm trying to look on the bright side. Do you know how bad I smelled after coaching on a steamy deck? I think my tweens smelled better! (Hence the need for Lush products!) I can spend more time with the kids (yay!) and keep the house cleaner (yay). We can still hit up a local pool and the splash pad, although the water park is out. Since I won't be on a pool deck every two hours multiple times a week, we should be able to go to a late afternoon movie. Oh, and it looks like I will be with the YRT in the fall! That has me the most excited!

While the kids are at VBS this week I am taking back my summer. I have open days now and we're going to do allll the things I had planned on cramming into my days off. My best laid schemes went awry but you know what? I'm not going to let my FORMER head coach destroy the summer for us,




Tuesday, May 26, 2015

So this happened

About 18 months ago, I read an article by Deanna Fei, My Baby and AOL's Bottom Line. It's well-written and sharp but something about the author's tone made me send a message to the author.

Now, I never leave comments in the combox unless it is a blogger I know or I'm entering to win something. And I never, ever, ever message author's I don't know. ComBoxes tend to make me weep for humanity, especially when it comes to articles that might be controversial. As for e-mailing authors... eh. I leave great Amazon reviews. I tell everyone about their books. I favorite them on Goodreads. But I don't e-mail them because I don't want to seem like some pre-teen fangirl even if I am totally fangirling inside.

Yet I did. I have a vague notion of what I said, something about how she is not alone in her feelings. I e-mailed her, I received a short note in reply and that was that.

Until last week, about 18 months after I read the article. I received an e-mail from Fei thanking me for my comment and how it was one of many that inspired her to write a book, Girl In Glass (due in July) about her experiences. A few e-mails later (!!! because who am I kidding, I was sitting there with a dumb grin on my face thinking, "THIS IS SO COOL!") she told me that my initial e-mail to her is quoted in her book! It's anonymous, of course, but still!!!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I get paid nothing. My name's not even in there. BUT. PEOPLE! A real live, honest to goodness writer- like, she's written another novel! She make a living writing!- said that something I (yeah, yeah, yeah, and others) inspired her next work. At swanky dinner parties (that I never attend), I'll be able to toss my hair, casually sip my wine and just happen to say, "You know, when I was quoted by/inspired an author..." Years from now, I'll pull the book off my shelves and show my grandchildren where I am (not) mentioned in a book.

Okay, yes, I am a complete goober. I'm aware this is interesting and super cool to only me. I am also aware that I might be mildly in awe of anyone who is published because I know how long, hard and slogging the process is. But it's funny, you know, how having a preterm infant puts everyone on equal footing: a housewife and swim coach with four children in the suburbs of the midwest suddenly has something in common with a writer in NYC, all because of an intensive care unit. I have a feeling we could sit down over tea (or KC BBQ or, even better, NY bagels piled with cream cheese or butter) and not run out of things to talk about. We have a common ground in our children, their early beginnings and our struggles. It seems we both have a passion for educating people about pre-term infants and everything that it entails, during the NICU and after.

You know what the best thing about this is, though? My words made someone feel better. I never know if reaching out to someone is going to be well received, especially when her daughter was born much earlier than my son. Yet it did and, to me, that's better than any (not) mention in a book.

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.

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.”
“Good.”
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 LauraMaisano.blogspot.com.



Twitter: @MaisanoLaura
Google + https://plus.google.com/+LauraMaisano

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!