Bipolar Mom, Authoress

A Bipolar Author and Mom's Account of her struggles with daily life.

Living on Minimum Wage

I’m usually not the type of person that keeps up on what’s going on in the outside world. I tend to slog through my days, doing what I do and focusing on the here and now. I take care of myself, my kids, my house, and occasionally I work. But I do have a few thoughts to contribute every once in a while, just don’t expect them to be particularly informed. These are opinions, formed mostly from my personal experience.

I am a person who did not attend college. Well, some, but not enough for a degree of any kind. I did become a certified CNA, but that doesn’t really make much difference when it comes to income.

My first job as a CNA in 2000, I made, I think, 6.95/hr to start. I did get over 7 dollars per hour before I switched jobs, but just barely. The next few CNA jobs, I was making $8/hr. Then I ended up working in a hospital in Omaha where I made about 9.25. Still not much, but it was okay, at the time, for a CNA job. After my husband and I got married, I stopped working except for a few odd jobs I picked up every once in a while. I spent some time working at a hotel laundry, but I don’t recall how much I was making. Definitely less than 10/hr though. When we moved back to Iowa, I got a job as a Home Health Aide, bringing me full circle back to my CNA roots. That one was about 8.10/hr. I left that job in August of 2011 and have been casually looking at others since. I’ve applied to hotels thinking I could do housekeeping, other facilities as a CNA, and even Wal-Mart.

The problem for me, and a lot of families, is child care. I am fortunate that all three of my kids are in school, but depending on the job, I’d still have to find child care for evenings and/or weekends. I was offered a job in 2012, doing some CNA work in a residential facility for adults with disabilities. I REALLY wanted that job, but there was no way to make it work. All the hours were after school, and every other weekend. After doing the math, I realized I would have little to no money left just after paying the babysitter. I had to turn that job down.

Over the years, I’ve thought about it a lot. I hate not working, but at the same time, its not really worth it. As an individual with little career training, I’m not likely to make more than a few dollars over minimum wage, and that is the case for a lot of people in the same boat. One boat in particular – military spouses. There are those who’ve gone to college or have had training for decently paying careers, but I can tell you it is HARD to get a new job every time you move. For us its been every 4-5 years, for some it is more frequently. That’s why most of the military wives I know are stay-at-home moms.

I have been fortunate in that I have found a job I am very qualified for, but took no training. I’m not sure if extensive experience is necessary, but my personal experience with special needs children probably didn’t hurt. I am a substitute para-educator at our local elementary school. The wages are great, all things considered, and the hours are perfect for a mom. If I chose to do it full time in the future, it would be great income. I can even take the experience with  me when we move; I’ve already looked at the website for the school district we are hoping to go to in NY and they pay their paras 12.75/hr. So yeah, its one of those rare entry-level jobs that pays well… but at the same time, not just anyone can do it.

Let’s play pretend :) Say you’re part of a two-parent household. One spouse works full time cause, ya know, someone has to. Then there’s you. Hmm… well, you have no college education, so you’re pretty much stuck with some type of entry level job. There’s places like Wal-Mart, who pay their employees absolute SHIT considering all the dicks they have to put up with when working customer service. Or you could work in fast food; more dicks, same bullshit wages. And who’s going to watch the kids while you’re making McFlurries? The babysitter wants HOW MUCH??? Ridiculous. Yep, maybe you should just stay at home.

Oh, well, if you do that, you don’t feel as if you’re contributing to the household. And maybe your spouse feels the same way. You’re both a little angry and you fight about finances all the damn time. You don’t get much of a vote when it comes to managing money, cause hey, YOU aren’t the one working for the dollar. Oh, you “need” a new car? You don’t even work, so you’re not worth the cost. You’re already going stir crazy from spending all your time at home with the kids, and now its worse…

Example #2 – You’re a single parent, with a dead-beat ex who almost never pays child support. You also have little college education, and you’re forced to work for just a little more than minimum wage. You make… let’s say $9/hr. You and your kids have to live in a tiny one bedroom apartment because you can’t afford anything bigger. (If you’re reading this, you know who you are.) You have a car payment, and piles of debt that you’ve racked up. You are on food stamps, and have to get child care assistance from the government. Maybe its just me, but wouldn’t it make more sense to raise the minimum wage so we can get you OFF the government assistance? (And don’t give me shit about the debts, cause almost everyone has some.)

But I digress. The point is, minimum wage, as it stands, is not enough for the average family. Yes, AVERAGE! Why is that? Welp, people can’t afford to go to college anymore! Even if you do get student loans out the ass, it’ll take you around half your working life to pay them off, and you’ll continue to eat ramen noodles 5 days a week until you do. You STILL can’t afford to raise a family. You probably have to work two jobs, and maybe your spouse does too. A CNN Money article states that most recently, around 260,000 college graduates were making at or below minimum wage. Cause just having a degree doesn’t guarantee you a good job. How the hell do we get outta this?

I’ll tell you. Colleges need to STOP increasing their fucking tuition so god damn much. And government assistance needs to focus on educating people and finding them jobs. Less enabling, more empowering. Look into it. And finally, of course, minimum wage needs to go up. I’m not saying it has to be twenty dollars an hour, but for fuck’s SAKE this is ridiculous: the Federal minimum wage at the moment is 7.25/hr. I’ve already explained why most families can’t live on that. With one hour of work, you can buy… a pound and a half of hamburger. Maybe. Two gallons of milk. But you’re never ever tasting steak again. So, ya know, if there’s any possible way to regulate the ridiculous increase in prices of essential things like food, utilities, gasoline, etc… that’d be great. Again, not super educated on this shit, I’m just… I dunno, pissing into the wind or something. Its futile.

Personally, we’re good right now. My income is mostly disposable.. kind of. I spend it on shit like soccer gear and new shoes and books. The military, in most instances, takes good care of us. We aren’t wealthy but we’re comfortable. But I HAVE been down that far… I have been a single mom with poor income… I have been on WIC and food stamps and gotten things from food pantries. I can sympathize with these poor souls  who are struggling to survive in a country that doesn’t seem to understand how unbalanced it is. Just know, I am on your side, as are many others, and hopefully together we can affect a change.

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But if you’re dead set on it…

There are those of us that, despite all the reasons not to, will still have children. A friend encouraged me to make a list for positive things about parenthood, and I acquiesce. Apparently, despite my best efforts, my last post made me look like a baby-hating bitch. That’s not at all true, and I’m going to prove it.


7. Unconditional love.

Yeah, you love your partner. And you love your friends, but so many things can ruin a relationship. And while some things can throw a wrench into our relationships with our children, for the most part a parent’s love is unconditional. You love them even if they get arrested, suffer an addiction or disease, you love them regardless of their sexual orientation. Even if, every time they come to a crossroads in life, they still manage to choose the worst possible path, you will continue to love them. Unconditionally. And even though they will say they  hate you about 80 billion times over the course of their lives, they love you too. Its a special love, completely different than how you feel about your own parents, siblings, friends and lovers. It is pure, it is sweet, and it is never-ending. A piece of you unconnected by any visible means, but more precious to you than your own old, ugly, failing body.


6. Wonders await you.

Ah, the first steps. The first word. That time you were in a crowded elevator and your little guy said, “Mommy pick me up, I can’t see! Your butt is too fat!” May not seem funny at the time, but trust me, it will be. There are so many experiences singular to parents. Its amazing to spend so much time with these tiny people, watching them change and learn and grow. You will, as the years pass, find yourself marveling at them, waxing nostalgic on those early days spent cuddling that sweet little cherub-faced bundle of chubbiness. Their first day of school, when you are more nervous than they are. Teaching them to cook, to drive, to do their own laundry! Oh blessed day! Every single time they say, “I love you” puts a mark on your heart. There’s nothing comparable to the preciousness of those moments.


5. Leaving a legacy.

You always hear, “Maybe he’s the future President!” or, “One day he’ll grow up to cure cancer!” These are a little optimistic, and we don’t want to put too much pressure on our little ones, but the possibilities are endless. One day they (probably) will grow up to be contributing members of society, in their own way, be it large or small. And you, the parent, get to stand there with pride in your eyes, and tell people, “That’s my kid!” They will have an impact on the world, and you will have made it your life’s work. Raise them right, and they will make you proud.


4. Grandchildren.

You sometimes hear grandparents “joke” that the only reason they had children was to get grandchildren. I personally look forward to the day when I can enjoy the company of little ones with all the fun and none of the work! I know my kids are always better behaved for Grandma than they are for their own mother, and one day I will get to wear that smug little look myself. (Bastards.) Grandkids are their own special joy, filling the days of retirement, begging to be spoiled and loved to bits. Its not the only reasons to do your part to continue the species, but its a damn good one.


3. Someone has to change your diapers.

Seriously, though. One day, if you are lucky, you will grow old and decrepit enough to not be able to care for yourself. You will at LEAST need someone you can depend on to toss you into a home so you don’t die on your bathroom floor because you’ve had a stroke and can’t reach the phone. You  may lie there for a week until you starve to death, possibly having landed on something lumpy that will wear deep, deep bedsores into your bottom. Yep, I’ve seen that with my own eyes, and its not pretty. So yes, it is important to have someone care for you in your dotage. Its the circle of life, American edition.


2. Because what else is there?

Oh sure, you might want to have a career, or a social life, or hobbies. But for me, my dream was always to become a mother and housewife. A little dated, I know, but I couldn’t imagine anything more meaningful. Though I have since learned that there are many, many occupations that can enrich your life and the lives of others, parenting is still by far more fulfilling. In my opinion, of course. This is an opinion piece. Duh. Even so, some parents can do it all, bless their motherfucking hearts. If you can do it, do it. But some of us have had to choose between work and family, and I chose family. And I don’t regret it one bit.


1. Your future best friend.

Our relationships with our children evolve over time. In the beginning they are utterly dependent upon you. Then they begin to grow into their own person, and as they do you drift apart and back again. At a certain point after entering adulthood, you realize… you are contemporaries. You’ve both reached a certain maturity and can now relate to each other, even while continuing to learn from each other. They may come over for a cup of coffee while their kids are at school, and you find yourselves having a conversation that you never thought would happen when they were slamming their door and screaming their hatred from the top of their lungs. You’ve made it, they’ve grown up, and now you are good friends. Its a satisfying feeling, I hear.


When it comes down to it, the choice is yours. Don’t let anyone, even and especially me, influence you. There are ups and downs in parenting, and you just have to decide if its worth it. I mean, it is. All of it has been worth it. But that’s me, and you are you. Do the benefits outweigh the negatives? You decide.

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7 Reasons NOT to procreate.

Now just wait a goddamn minute. This is not another “My kids are assholes” rant, even though they are. Okay, maybe a little, but these are all perfectly valid reasons to not have kids. And I’m sure we all know that person or couple who doesn’t want children – this is my effort to help parents understand those people, and to let those people know I do not blame them one bit. Some of these reasons will come across as purely selfish, but one can argue that having children is selfish as well. These are also all reasons childless people have given me for why they don’t want children. And I’m not claiming perfection myself, or saying I’m better than others. Just that I’m judging you, harshly. Here we go!


7. Your career will suffer.

Some people can make it work. It is certainly harder for single parents. I am married, but my spouse is not usually here. I do feel like a single parent at times, and it has affected my ability to work. My last job, I was only able to work part time, during school hours. No weekends. There just wasn’t a good option for child care. Even if I were able to find someone, I’d have ended up paying them almost all the money I made, so what would be the point? Now I’m working as a substitute para-educator with our elementary school. Its only weekdays, only school hours. No holidays, summer off – basically whenever the kids are home, I’m home. And I don’t have to work 40 hours a week – sometimes I don’t work at all for a week or two. A lot of mothers end up staying home with the kids, and they feel guilty about it. I know its hard to feel like you aren’t contributing. Even if both parents do work full time, there is always the possibility of having a child at home sick, because most day-cares and schools won’t allow a sick child to come in. Then there’s soccer practice, and doctor’s appointments, and all manner of frustrating things you have to take off of work to deal with. And when you do work, you feel guilty. Working mothers often feel like they are neglecting their kids, or they feel like taking a day off isn’t fair to their boss. It can prevent you from getting promotions or being able to do your share of the work. I’m not saying you have to choose between kids and a career, but its a lot easier to be successful with just one of those things instead of both. And you have every right to choose career – don’t let anyone tell you different.


6. Your social life evaporates into the ether.

Okay, this may seem unimportant, and it isn’t necessarily true for everyone. There are those with enough wiggle room in their budget to afford a decent number of nights out. But a lot of parents will go out less frequently with the arrival of each child. The more children you have, the harder it is to find a babysitter willing to watch them all. If you’re like me, you have guilt issues and HATE pushing your kids onto an unsuspecting teenager, even for a few short hours. And you feel bad for leaving your children. Its ridiculous, but its instinct. I tend to overpay, which in turn leaves me cashless for the next possible social affair. Eventually you resort to only going to places you can bring your kids, such as family functions or play dates. When you’re finally able to spend time with another grown-up, you feel like a dying man in the desert who comes across an oasis. It is pure and sweet and life-giving, and you treasure it. You may even cry a little, reducing the chances that this person will ever want to see your crazy ass again.


5. You will never have extra money, ever ever again.

Its no secret. Kids are hard on your wallet. An article on CNN Money states that the average cost of raising a child for 18 years amounts to $241,080. That’s assuming you don’t end up supporting them for the next however-long-it-takes-to-get-them-out-of-your-basement. Those numbers take into account the cost of childcare, food, health care, housing, clothing, transportation and the occasional miscellaneous expenses. Did you see college on that list? NOPE. College is extra. My husband and I started saving for each child when they were born – our 13 yr old currently has 2,000 in his savings. That will get him a few credit hours, surely! You can always hope for scholarships, of course, and they can acquire their own student loans, but who wants their children to start out their careers in hopeless debt?


4.  Your mind will break.

This one may be colored a little by my own experiences, but its still appropriate. Having children makes you crazy. For starters, women get “pregnancy brain” causing them to be forgetful or absentminded. I remember once putting a spatula in the freezer for no discernible reason. Even 7 years after my last pregnancy, I have moments like this. There is no cure for pregnancy brain, you simply have to learn to live around it. I can’t remember how many times I’ve whacked my head on a cupboard due to inattentiveness… probably because the pregnancy brain won’t let me. But that’s a form of stupidity; lets look for a moment at how the little parasites can send you screaming and frothing at the mouth. For a few years I wasn’t able to take my youngest to restaurants or stores, because he’d have meltdowns that I simply couldn’t control. Get off the floor, don’t put that in your mouth, share, stop screaming, no hitting, that is not a urinal. But this type of behavior occurs at home as well, and I swear to god one day I’m going to have a stroke. Its cool, I’ve taught them how to dial 911. Some day you will see me on the news as the mother of a brilliant, life saving child… and I’ll be in my hospital bed weeping and moaning, “Why didn’t you let me die??” Anyway, there are plenty of us already affected by mental illness. Depression is prevalent, and we have seen increases in many other disorders. Can this make parenting difficult? I am here to tell you it can. We had all of our children prior to my diagnosis with Bipolar Disorder, and I sometimes feel that it was selfish to have them, when I couldn’t be the mother they deserve. My husband and I have decided not to have a 4th child because of this. Furthermore, teenagers are famous for sending their parents into hysterics, simply by experiencing puberty. Do yourself a favor – if you don’t want to end up in an institution, listening to your roommate furiously masturbating all night, every night, just… use birth control.


3. Population control.

This may seem crass, but its a real concern. There are roughly 7 billion people on this planet, and growing. Due to advances in medicine, people are living longer, and we are less capable of taking care of our elderly. As a CNA, I watched many an elderly patient waste away in a nursing home, rarely visited by their relatives. Its a heartbreaking sight. We’re basically shunting them off to a place where they won’t get in the way so we can build our own little families. That isn’t at all fair. You also have to consider the drain on resources – food, water, etc. How many children are starving, or freezing, or dying of disease while we keep on fucking and bringing more of them into the world? In my opinion it is just more socially responsible to put a leash on the genitals and slow this down a bit. Maybe just have one or two instead of 5 or a dozen. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt really have something going with their adoption strategy. And maybe China isn’t so wrong, either. Maybe. Kind of.


2. Some people are just not fit for parenting.

I can say this, because I’m one of them. I’m not judging. Well, I am. A little. The standards for what makes a “good parent” are pretty ridiculous. All you have to do is love your child, right? Well, that is important. But you have to make sure they are healthy and happy as well. If you aren’t able to provide for dental and medical insurance, among other things, its pretty irresponsible to be having kids. This is why I am all for the availability of birth control for all. I don’t give a shit if the owner of your company is catholic and doesn’t believe in it, its kind of a basic human right to choose whether or not you want kids. I bet the logic behind it is, “Well if we don’t give them birth control maybe they will try abstinence.” Um, yeah right. EVERYONE is having sex. And its apparent that they’re going to do it whether or not they have birth control. And if you deny women their birth control, there will be an increase in abortions and toilet babies, and probably suppurating infections. An ounce of prevention, people. Come ON! I’m not saying the poor and the disabled should be sterilized, because as I said, basic human rights. But we need to increase education and encourage people to make responsible decisions about their reproductive health. We need to take a long hard look at ourselves and ask, “Will I be a good parent?”  or even, “Is this the right time?” More people need to do this; I wish I had done it. I would have waited. Don’t boohoo at me on this one; you all know someone that you think should have never had kids, you know you do. And finally…


1. Its a shitty, shitty, shitty, shitty world.

Alright, so I mentioned hunger and poverty, but that isn’t all this Hell has in store for our little ones. There are various types of crime, from pedophilia to kidnapping, to domestic violence and even murder. Maybe your child won’t be directly affected by these things, but even indirect exposure (such as watching the news) can be traumatizing. There are natural disasters, accidents, school shootings, childhood diseases and disabilities, and a lifetime of sadness and heartache. Even thinking about my daughter being rejected by a love interest brings me pain. I want to protect them from everything. And I can’t. You can’t. We can only do our best, but it is not always within our control. Maybe you and your spouse get into a car accident, leaving your children orphans. Maybe there are no family members who can take them in, and they end up in the foster system. Which is oftentimes its own special level of hell. I know, I know… you have to let them experience things, such as “simple” heartbreaks, so that they will grow to be well rounded adults… but there are a lot worse things out there. Evil things that no one should ever have to go through. Maybe its extreme, but then again maybe its merciful.


Despite my frequent, angry ravings, I love my kids, and I wouldn’t ever go back and not have them. Yeah, I often wish I had gone to college first. I wish I didn’t get knocked up at 19 and spend the next 3 years as a single mother. I wish I had never been mentally ill, because I could be a much better parent if I weren’t. I’m not exempt from any of the above reasons, even if it does make me hypocritical. This is the voice of experience talking. In a perfect world, we’d all have plenty of money and be perfectly stable. But this will never be a perfect world. All I can ask is that if you do have children, do the best you can. Not for me or for the rest of society, but for them.

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Doctor: ADHD Does Not Exist

Originally posted on TIME:

This Wednesday, an article in the New York Times reported that between 2008 and 2012 the number of adults taking medications for ADHD has increased by 53%, and that in the case of young American adults, it has nearly doubled. While this is a staggering statistic, and points to younger generations becoming frequently reliant on stimulants, frankly, I’m not too surprised. Over the course of my 50-year-long career in behavioral neurology and treating patients with ADHD, it has been in the past decade that I have seen these diagnoses truly skyrocket. Every day my colleagues and I see more and more people coming in claiming they have trouble paying attention at school and at work, and diagnosing themselves with “ADHD.”

And why shouldn’t they?

If someone finds it difficult to pay attention or feels somewhat hyperactive, “Attention-deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder” has those symptoms right there in its name. It’s an…

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Acetaminophen in pregnancy linked to ‘ADHD-like behaviors’

Originally posted on The Chart:

Doctors frequently recommend acetaminophen, commonly found in over-the-counter pain relievers including Tylenol, to pregnant women for treating mild pain.

But a new study out of Denmark suggests the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy could be associated with ADHD-like behavioral problems in children.

“(Pregnant women) shouldn’t worry at this point,” says study author Dr. Beate Ritz, professor and chair of the epidemiology department at the University of California, Los Angeles. “But if I were a woman who was pregnant … I would try to avoid taking painkillers as much as I can until we know more about this.”

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Mommy Superiority is SO not cool.

Now, before I begin, I want to assure you all that this is NOT about a particular person! I don’t even remember what my train of thought was, I just found myself contemplating the cattiness of women while I was in the shower. It was probably propagated by something I was thinking about that I said or did to one of my kids, and cringing at the thought of what another mother might think of it.

So I’m in there, ruminating, and I decided I wanted to have my say about it. First of all, I don’t get along with (most) women. I’m one of many who just don’t understand or participate in this mind-boggling cattiness that runs rampant through the females of our species. I find this behavior off-putting, and I tend to seek friendship with males. Men are simpler. They generally speak their minds (when they think a thought is worth speaking), and there’s none of that bitchy back-stabby-ness about them. Oops, to clarify: STRAIGHT men. Although I’m sure there are exceptions to that, too. My best friend in the whole world is a man. What do we talk about? Mostly we swear, tell dirty jokes, talk about video games, and nerd out. And fart and scratch our junk. And spit loogies. We’ve had our differences, but they’ve been relatively minor. None of that “OMG you just told me this lipstick looks trashy, we aren’t friends anymore!” bullshit. A lot of my best friends have been guys. I find the company of men to be a stroll through a park, compared to the MINE FIELD of trying to get along with women.

Back on track – mothers are even WORSE about this shit than childless women. We use our children as some sort of fucked up score card whereby we can compare how much OTHER mothers suck. Its probably some weird way of building up our self esteem, reassuring ourselves that we are not, in fact, horrible mothers. Because THAT bitch is way worse.

I have to say, I hate that. I hate it when another mother, either overtly or internally, criticizes my parenting. Look, none of us is perfect at this. We know that. There’s been a bombardment of articles talking about the pressure on women to be “perfect” and that there is no such thing. So why isn’t it sinking in?!

Okay, seriously though, I am guilty of this as well. Maybe not in a bitchy way, but I definitely stick my nose in. I think every time I see my sister and/or her kids I have some pearl of wisdom to share regarding how she should be raising them. Well, I need to shut it. She’s doing the best she can, considering she’s a single mom and like the rest of us, is imperfect. So, me, fuck off! While there are MANY books on parenting out there, there is no children’s owners manual. Well, there might be, I’ll check Amazon later. But for the sake of argument, let’s say I’m right. Well why isn’t there? How long have humans been around, doing this whole reproducing bit and all? Because – and I can’t stress this enough – no. two. are. alike.

Of course, we’ll use mine for example! My oldest, as you may or may not know, is mildly autistic. We knew around 2 or 3 he wasn’t like other kids, but it was nothing we couldn’t handle. I did read books on autism, and they did help me immensely when working with him. The thing about NE is that he’s predictable, for the most part. Because he has concrete thinking and behaviors, etc. After 13 years, I know how he thinks. Dealing with him is pretty much a step-by-step playbook I keep in my head. I know what to say, how to say it, how NOT to say it. Which, believe me, is an achievement. With NE we had to learn to word things in just the right way so his brain could process it. I can’t even begin to tell you the acrobatics I’ve done with him on math homework, just to be able to communicate a concept to him in a way that made sense. Don’t get me wrong, he’s not stupid, not by a long margin. His brain just processes information differently. And we just learned to speak his language.

HI was born when NE was almost 5, and we didn’t know what to expect. We knew at the time that autism did seem to be genetic, but we weren’t too concerned, knowing that NE was born before hubby and I ever met, and therefor had a different father. So yeah, we anticipated having a “normal” baby. I honestly thought this would be EASIER! Then when she turned out to be an absolute terror, I decided it must be because she’s female. (Ha! Talk about theme-ing.) So, 23 months later, when NY was on the way, I PRAYED SO HARD for a boy. Well, we got him. And God laughed and laughed. I love him with all my heart, regardless of whether he has a penis or a vagina or both or neither. But sweet baby jesus he has been a very difficult child. If you’ve followed this blog, you know. You’ve seen all our dirty secrets. I’m just trying to emphasize here. ADHD boy has been more difficult by far than the other two, but the key point I’m trying to make is that they’re all so very unique.

None of these children are “easy” to handle, per se. They all have their own challenges, and I think that is the MOST challenging aspect of parenting them. Empathy works on NE, but doesn’t work on NY – he needs structure and authority. HI is very insecure and emotional, but NE doesn’t need the kind of coddling she does. One is a girl, two are boys. One likes reading, one likes computers, one likes creating chaos :P How can you possibly find a single book to teach you how to properly address all of these incredibly different personalities?

Ya know, I get a lot of criticism from people who don’t have kids, too. “My kids will be raised to respect people/things/God/authority/my-rigid-way-of-thinking.” Wellllll let me tell ya… when you DO have kids, you’re gonna shit that stick outta yer ass pretty quickly. They aren’t your little robots, to be programmed the way YOU want them to be. They have a personality and will of their own. “Disillusioned” is the word that comes to mind! I’m not saying that kids can’t be taught some of these things, I’m just saying that you don’t have enough time to run your brain-washing laboratory and work and do the housework too. Ah, in a perfect world…

Anyway, we were discussing bitchy women, right? Yes. Well. I’ve never been that mom that is friends with all the other moms, or gets involved in school or neighborhood activities with all the other parents. Mostly its because I have this social-phobia thing where I don’t like being subjected to constant criticism from people who think their baby’s shit don’t stink. So yeah, when my daughter is playing soccer, I stand a little ways away from the other “soccer moms”. I don’t fit that mold – I know it – and I know they will know it too as soon as I open my mouth. Because every third word that comes out is inevitably “fuck” and they (probably) will not approve. Fuck that shit. I’d rather be off in my little corner, Facebook messaging my best friend about that massive crap he took this morning. Yeah, I just said that.

I do avoid interacting with women my age a lot of the time. I’m not saying I NEVER get along with women – some of my best women friends have gotten me through some pretty rough times (I’m lookin at you, Hawaii girls!) But some women… as soon as they look at you, you can feel this kind of maternal hostility radiating off of them, and I’m just not getting anywhere near that shit. If you are this woman, omfg STAHP for the love of JESUS stop! Stop being a bitch, stop trying to size up every other mom you see so as to immediately detect her flaws. She may not be like you, and she may do things differently but hey, like our kids, all mothers are unique.

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Schools picking up autism tab

Originally posted on The Chart:

The surge in autism diagnoses since the year 2000 has come with a massive cost that’s shouldered largely by the public school system, say researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health.

In what’s billed as a conservative estimate, they say the “economic burden” of an autism diagnosis is more than $17,000 a year through age 17, with medical costs making up less than 20% of the total. The biggest chunk of the tab, $8,610, is picked up by schools, according to their paper, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.

“The education system is already under a lot of financial strain,” says Tara LaVelle, the lead author, who is now an associate policy researcher at the RAND Corporation. “We need policies at the federal, state and local level to make sure funds are available to provide appropriate intervention.”

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Ladies and Gentlemen, we have liftoff!

GOD I suck at this. In the beginning I was doing so great, sometimes blogging every day, even more than once! Now I can’t seem to do it more often than every two weeks or so :/ I am trying to gradually get myself back in the habit, but building or rebuilding habits is HARD!

Talking of habits, I’ve been on a kicker lately, and I’m hoping it becomes a habit. Or a bunch of habits. Details.

Last week I was feeling really depressed, and naturally that depression locked onto my surroundings (which, as usual, were deplorable). The depression just kept feeding on itself, and I was miserable. Sick and tired of my nasty house! Well I was brooding about it on Facebook, and a few friends mentioned FlyLady. I knew of FlyLady; had signed up waaay back when we lived in Hawaii and was still getting her emails. Back in the day, it was a Yahoo Group/newsletter, so I was delighted to see that it was now a full website. Once I started reading I got inspired immediately, perfectly normal reaction for a bipolar individual! I started making plans, copying routines and schedules from the site, etc. I started that night with the before bed routine. I put on pajamas, washed my face, and did some dishes before retiring. In the morning I did my own version of the morning routine, involving getting the kids ready for school. It occurred to me that I already HAD a morning routine, I just didn’t see it that way! And I needed to add in a few things – I put a little extra focus on my appearance. I don’t usually give a shit what I look like unless I’m going somewhere important, which I rarely do. The most dressed up I get is for Parent/Teacher Conferences or IEP meetings :P Anyway, I put some effort into it and it made a difference! When you feel presentable you’re ready to take on the day. I was so used to doing the absolute minimum in the morning because I felt like any more would be too much. Now I realize that if I DON’T I will not be as productive or upbeat! I’ve come to a similar realization regarding naps.

Saturday, NY woke me up at 5:30 cause he’s got a body clock like his Daddy and always wakes up at the same time every day! And if he’s up, everyone is up. Well I drank my coffee and took my meds and spent an hour trying to wake up and stop being bitchy… wasn’t happening. So I went back to bed. BAD idea. I knew it was a bad idea, but I did it. I did almost nothing the entire day, because I felt groggy and lethargic. I have officially learned my lesson! When you wake up, just get up and start your day – no giving up!

Now when I get up in the morning, I get NY his Pediasure with his meds in. Then I have my coffee and pills. If its a weekday, I wake NE up at 6 so he can shower. While he showers, I make the kids’ lunches, feed the cat, and unload the dishwasher. When NE gets out of the shower, I get the other two dressed and ready. They have to brush their teeth (I’m still working on this with them!)

Okay, fast forward to TODAY! I started this blog post like a week ago, and never got to finish it. All to the good, as I have plenty to update! I am STILL Flying! Every day I read the FlyLady emails, do my morning routine and bedtime routine, and make a few babysteps in between depending on what my day entails. That first week I cleaned my bathroom… and it has stayed clean! Every day I put away things that end up on the counter and don’t belong there. Same goes for the floor. Its been TWO WEEKS! I’ve never had a streak like this! It feels amazing! And the best part is – I don’t even realize I’m doing it!

This perpetual cleanliness is starting to spread to other parts of the house. My kitchen counters are usually clear, and my dishes are done every. single. day. I clear off the dining room table every day, as well, and I’m starting to keep the floor clear. I’ve been wearing my pajamas every night (I used to just fall asleep in my clothes!) and getting dressed to shoes every morning. I brush my hair, instead of just taking out the ponytail, smoothing it out, and redoing it! I wash my face, I put on deodorant… The change has just been huge. If it had lasted a few days or a week, I would have chalked it up to a manic phase, but this has been two weeks. These are now habits, routines. I do these things without effort and they are coming naturally! The more I clean up, the better I feel about the house and myself!

One of the FlyLady emails I read involved a woman and her children. She said with her home in CHAOS (Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome) her kids were in chaos, too. She ended up getting rid of most of their toys, leaving only a handful of things for them to play with. It was transformative – their behavior improved and they were able to play quietly in their rooms with just a few things! For some reason we believe that the more things a kid has to play with, the more occupied they will be, when the opposite is true! I can’t wait to tackle the toy-boxes and throw some shit out!

I think, to me, the evidence that this is a lasting change, is that I can still do this when I’m depressed or cranky. It used to be I’d think, “Fuck it, I aint doin shit today.” Now I do my routines and as much else as I can, even through my depression. Because I don’t want to lose it. I want to get rid of the CHAOS on the outside to calm the chaos on the inside. Its working, and I’m not going to stop!

I urge you all to take a look at This has been the best thing to happen to me as far as life management goes. Her philosophies apply to everything… take baby steps, only do what you can… your house didn’t get messy in a day, and it won’t get clean in a day! I didn’t go crazy in one day, and I won’t become stable in one day… but I’m doing it, one baby step at a time.

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While they’re distracted! NY is contentedly playing with his cars and trucks behind me on the dining room table. HI is on the couch with the kindle, and NE is at grandpa’s. While things have been busy around here, I won’t use that as an excuse. I’ve often thought about blogging as I sit at the computer for countless hours each day, but my mind just isn’t in it. I don’t WANT to think, I want to open Steam and disappear into a game.

This happens to me all too often lately. With the stress of the holidays, it seems to be taking longer for me to recover. Granted I can’t think of any holiday season before this one that was quite this hectic. Even our re-wedding in Christmas of 2012 didn’t have me nearly so busy! School officially resumed on January 7th, and since then I’ve been trying to settle into my old routines. I hadn’t been to the gym since November, and I was grimacing at the thought of how grueling it would be to get back to where I was.

But I went yesterday. And it was awesome. Not only did I seem to have lost nothing of my endurance, my strides were actually faster! And I didn’t feel nearly as winded or exhausted afterwards! Possibly that holiday season was even more taxing than I thought! This bodes well for my continued efforts at exercising, especially since I’m aiming to bump up my 30 minutes on the elliptical to one hour, gradually of course. I think I’ll start next week, saving this week for reacquainting myself with the routine. As much as I was dreading it, I had forgotten how much I loved doing it. It pleases me deeply to know that I’ve fallen in love with something that is so good for me. Part of me doesn’t even care if I lose weight and get sexy; I just want to enjoy that feeling of power that having proper exercise gives you. Yes there’s exhaustion afterwards, but its that good kind of exhaustion that tells you you’ve not only done something important, but that you’ve gained long-term benefits from it. No better feeling in the world!

Unless you compare it to the happiness of parenthood. Yes, I know I mostly complain about my career choice, but lately things have improved and I’ve been a lot happier. I think partly it is because of improvements in NY’s behavior – he’s still wired for sound if he doesn’t get his meds, but his aggression seems lessened. His mischievousness is not exactly easy to handle, but its a hell of a lot better than having him shrieking and hitting people! I’m not really sure it doesn’t have something to do with my own moods as well. I do feel like I’ve been doing better in that respect, all things considered. Hubby leaving the day after Christmas was hard; I always try to tell myself that its better to have him for one week than not at all, but that doesn’t seem to make it any easier to say goodbye :( Our habit over the last year or so has been to get him a rental car the day before he leaves, and then he’s gone before we all wake up in the morning. I like to say its easier on the kids, and it is… but its easier on me as well. Somehow I’m able to get out of bed in the morning and convince myself it was all a dream, and go on with my day and my life as I usually do.

My new therapist and psychiatrist seem to be helping as well. The psychiatrist took me off my Adderall and my Xanax, citing that they may be responsible for my mood fluctuations. One takes me up and the other brings me down. Seems logical. The only problem I’ve had is with sleeping – without the Xanax in the evening it seems I’m unable to fall asleep as I did before, and I’ve spent many a late night reading. I often take Benadryl to help with that (and with my horrendous allergies to Stormy!) but it doesn’t always accomplish what I need it to accomplish. Last night for example – at about 11 p.m. I took the Benadryl, knowing full well that if I didn’t get sleep and got called in to work I’d never be able to last the day! Not sure when I finally passed out, but it couldn’t have been before midnight. I ended up going back to bed after the kids left for school this morning and slept until after noon! I must have needed it, but I still felt bad for not getting any cleaning done.

Tangent. So the therapist – I like her I guess, she seems to actually have the intention of setting goals for me. Its not just talk therapy, I’ve figured that much out. Right now she’s having me work on recognizing my negative thoughts and feelings. At this point the importance is in awareness – after this is taken care of I will work on countering them. My biggest long-term goal is to be able to self-motivate. I think if I can do this I can fix almost every other problem in my life!

On that note, we’ll talk about resolutions. I know its terribly cliche, and most people take pride in the fact that they don’t make resolutions at all. I know, I used to be one of them. But I did make one solid resolution this year, and that is to get out of debt, or at least pay most of it down. The therapist had asked me on my first visit about my debt, and I had no idea what to tell her. In my mind, I had a thousand here, a thousand there… I wasn’t sure at all how much debt I had. This led me to download a spreadsheet for Excel and actually record all my debts. This spreadsheet also did me the favor of calculating how long it would take to pay them all off. When I saw all the numbers added up, my heart hit the floor. I had nearly 20,000 dollars in debt – MY debt alone, none of that belonging to Hubby. Keeping in mind, all of this had been piled up during manic phases. Most of it was a debt consolidation loan I’d taken out in 2012, and neglecting to close all the accounts I ran them back up again. I knew I had to tell him – even though I hadn’t been having any trouble with the monthly payments, I knew things would go a lot easier if I had his help paying them down, and honestly, I didn’t want this poisoning our relationship. The conversation was very very hard – and I think I was having a panic attack as I emailed him the spreadsheet. I don’t think I was REALLY worried about him divorcing me, but I anticipated an explosion. He made a few bitter statements, nothing more. Then he immediately went to work, his mind calculating how much he could contribute and how quickly we could pay all this down. I’m not saying he wasn’t angry – but he seemed to see the futility in it and preferred to set his mind to fixing the problem. I passed on a credit card account to him, containing about 4.5 thousand dollars, which relieved me of a 120 dollar monthly payment. That alone did wonders for me. I felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders, and I knew it was not only because of the debt, but because of the fact that I’d shared my bad choices with him. Now everything was out in the open. I insisted on closing all the credit accounts, despite his misgivings. He said closing accounts made your credit score go down, to which I replied, “Sweetie, the last thing Carrie needs right now is good credit!” I myself started making double payments on the smallest account, a credit card with only 200 dollars on it. That will be paid off next month, and then I’ll start focusing on my account with the highest interest rate – my Dell line of credit. 27.99% people! DO NOT open a Dell credit account. You’re much better off taking out a personal loan and buying a computer with that, if you can’t avoid using credit altogether :P Personally, I’m going to focus this year on reducing the debt I have and never EVER opening a line of credit again, barring emergencies. So anyway, that’s my resolution. Its going really well so far – giving him that one account and paying down the one I have is opening up cash in my budget that I didn’t have before, which should in turn lead to me not feeling the impulse to use credit.

I’ve also decided to stop selling Avon. I’ve made a small amount of money from it, but not nearly enough to cover how much I spend on it. I only have a handful of customers as it is, and its just not worth it anymore. Instead I’m working hard to make myself available to sub at the school when they call me. I’m emailing the office manager regularly to let her know my availability by the week or the month. I’m only going to say no if its completely unavoidable – this means I may miss a workout here and there, but its necessary. I’ve even considered taking a class for para-educators in the hopes that I can take the experience with me when we move back to NY. Out of curiosity, I checked that school district’s website, and found that they pay their para-educator subs about .50 cents more per hour! I definitely want to keep doing it, but only as a sub for now. If I find myself able to do it full time as the kids get older I might consider it, but it all comes down to the bipolar. That life-ruining disorder. I’m keeping my head above water for now, but I’m being careful not to take on too much, as it may weigh me down.

Even though I have tons more I could say, I’m going to stop here. Its more important that I get a few things done. I managed to do the dishes and a little laundry after the kids got home, but now I need to clear off the table and get my ass to folding! And I need to pack up my backpack for my trip to the gym tomorrow :) Ah life’s little guilty pleasures!

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Licking my food addiction

Originally posted on Eatocracy:

Amy Chillag is a CNN Writer/Producer.

At 5’ 1” my small, 42-year-old frame was taking on a dreadful Body Mass Index. I’d start in on a pint of coffee ice cream at three in the afternoon, every day.  Not just any ice cream, but Bon Appetit top-10-rated best-in-the-nation ice cream that just happens to be a five minute drive from my house.

I didn’t know how to stop. I’d sit on my couch and scoop one creamy spoonful after another. It was never enough. I could not put the spoon down.  I’d feel sick after downing three-quarters of a pint of that coffee temptress.

My psychologist would later explain I’m trying to fill a void. What void? I have a good job, a thoughtful, handsome and loving boyfriend, two Boston Terriers who love me. But these things, as they always do, go back to childhood.

What I didn’t realize is…

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