About Sammie Mendez

I'm a 33 yr old lesbian married to the love of my life, and we are currently parenting two year old twin boys, our 1 year old miracle, and our totally awesome 9 year old foster daughter...life is good! To find out more, read my blog!

10 Things They Shoulda Told Me!

As a seasoned parent*, I think it’s important to let people know the things that no one told me about parenting that I learned along the way…

  1.  Buy stock in “insert favorite lotion here” – They fail to tell you how many times a day you will wash and sanitize your hands, bottles, toys, your kids hands, and pretty much anything that comes in contact with a teething infant/toddler or two.  I think we have spent more money on lotion for these dry hands in the past 19 months than we have in about 19 years combined!
  2. You don’t have to take the kids to the Dr. for EVERYTHING – after you have made your first round of sicknesses with your kids, you basically know what a stomach bug looks like for your kiddo and how long it takes for them to get over it.  If my kid has had diarrhea for 2 consecutive days with no fever and general crankiness, chances are it’s a….you guessed it! Belly bug!  Don’t need a $20 co pay for that! (NOTE:  Please take your kid to the doctor if you don’t know what the hell is going on!)
  3. Your body will hurt like you got hit by a truck– I don’t know why I didn’t think of this.  Did I expect to be in the best shape of my life when I decided to have kids? No, I didn’t expect that at all.  But I also didn’t expect to feel like I got hit by a semi, run over by 2 consecutive F-150’s, then compressed in a garbage truck, and spit out into bed only to be woken up at 3am with a grinding pain in my hip and a pang in my elbow.  This, all from playing for THIRTY MINUTES at a kids play space, but also and usually from bending and reaching to pick up a 20+lb toddler, I dunno, about a THOUSAND times a day!
  4. Stretch IMMEDIATELY after getting out of bed – re-read number 3.
  5. Watch the most hysterical movie you have ever seen and practice not laughing – This is for reals people!  Some of the things my kids say and do warrant a spanking, ONLY because it’s so damn hilarious  that it’s not right that I should have to be subjected to NOT laughing at it!  So unfair, but also, such a big deal.  Being aware that I have a ridiculous sense of humor and laugh at everything, I try my best to implement the RAR system (Reprimand and Run) in our house, but Callie reminds me that if they are ever going to take me serious as a disciplinarian (which I am not!) I’m going to have to stop laughing every time they do something that’s not ok.  Throwing their food from the highchair, blowing raspberries with a spoonful of green bean puree in their mouth, and beating her brothers (who were cracking up by the way) over the head with a light up Styrofoam stick (guys, it was freaking hilarious!!!!) is behavior I should be correcting and not laughing at.  “The Pest”, “Bridesmaids” and “Old School”, I’m just gonna have to watch you a few more times for practice.
  6. Snacks will be EVERYWHERE – If someone would have told me this, I would have shrugged my shoulders and said, “obviously”, but I don’t think I ever imagined the sheer amount of snacks found pretty much, everywhere.  Those Cheer.ios you gave your baby last week? Somehow, they showed up in his diaper this morning.  Those gummy snacks you gave your daughter 2 weeks ago?  At the bottom of the laundry machine fusing a sock, a t-shirt sleeve, and the insert of Mama’s nursing bra together.  I think if I picked up every snack that’s in 2 car seats, a booster seat, and the floor, I will probably accrue about 2 boxes of cereal, a pouch of goldfish, a party sized pretzel bag and enough raisins to circle the globe about 3 times.  I know that if we didn’t have money for food, we could live off of the crumbs in our car for a good 3 months.  Also, our car is somehow a sandbox.
  7. Phantom cries are a real thing – And you can get really hurt answering a “cry”. Example: I knew I was home alone, no kids anywhere to be found.  I decide, “No kids! Awesome!  I can take a long shower and tackle some of this self grooming I have long been neglecting,” and half way through said shower, our cat must have knocked something off of the table and then, crying.  Lots and lots of incessant crying.  So of course, I run out of the shower sans towel, into the living room to see what happened.  But not before I became a Gold Medal Olympian, because you see, the “slide and split” I did would have earned perfect 9’s across the board, but add in “buck naked” for difficulty and VOILA!  Hello Tokyo 2020.  If you have no kids at home before you go into the shower, chances are, there won’t be any kids at home during and after your shower, soooo….
  8. Your house/apartment/living space can dub as a daycare classroom and has the vaguest semblance of a previous life –  I know this because when my 3 tiniest kids and my niece come over, I am officially in NYS ratio. 4:1.  4 kids.  One adult.  My apartment actually IS a daycare center pretty much every day of my life.  I’ll let that sink in a little.
  9. Cleaning noses without tissues will absolutely happen – that’s right folks!  And you won’t think twice about it.  You’ll do this more times than you can count in the first 2 years of your kids lives.  And if you have twins or triplets, yeaaaaah…Might wanna consider the color of those next pair of pants when your kid has had a runny nose for a couple of days.  I have to say, I probably shouldn’t have work these black pants today…
  10. Giving toddlers choices is so awesome, and also so dumb – Every morning before daycare, I give my boys an option of what “snack” they would want with their milk (breakfast before breakfast option to keep them calm in the car on our way to daycare because I don’t have time to go home and change my pants since they’ve been crying  ” ‘nack!” for 15 minutes and there are no tissues in sight!) .  I hold up two different things.  “Would you like this (shows #1) or this (shows #2)? This or this?”  and the response is generally, and by generally I mean ALWAYS “ooohhhh dis!” and then grabbing both things!  Then of course, I get stuck remembering #5 and, why do I even bother giving them choices because it’s so damn funny!!! We leave the house, Sippy Cups filled with milk resting on laps, an apple-cinnamon rice cake in one hand and a box of raisins in the other, neither of which get eaten because hands are busy and juggling a box of raisins while trying to drink milk with a rice cake in your mouth doesn’t really work when you’re 19 months, so then of course, #6 happens.  But I can’t pick anything up because I forgot to stretch yesterday morning and went to Billy Beez and now I’m out of commission for the whole week, so that rice cake is just gonna have to sit there until a phantom cry wakes me out of my sleep reminding me that Levi is probably “crying” because he left his rice cake in the car 3 days ago!  Not that it would make a difference if I got it or not, because when he IS actually crying at 6:30am for a rice cake, he’ll remember his choice of fruit bar from 2 weeks ago and choose that instead!

Friends, being a parents is hard, hard work!

*By “seasoned parent” I mean last night, while my kids were helping me cook, they accidentally knocked Adobo all over the counter and on my hand.

…and the Living is Easy?

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July 4th, 2016

Friends,  it has been quite the summer so far!  Some things a little more major than others, but very, very busy.  Signing adoption paperwork, free concerts in the park, first family vacation sans any kind of help, meeting diblings, surgery, potty training (read:dying), amusement parks, interviews for promotions, actual promotions (!!!), planning a camping trip with 3 KIDS UNDER 2!, first time at the beach for the kids, loads of swimming, loads of working, loads of fun!

So, signing paperwork!  We are a good portion of the way to finalizing Mary’s adoption.   We went in to speak with our adoption lawyer, signed all of the various documents that all basically say, “So you’re gonna keep this kid and not give her back, right?  You get that, right?  And you are you sure?”  So we signed away, confirmed with Mary one last time that she was sure she wanted to change her last name, and that it was her choice, and that no matter WHAT name she used, she would always be out best girl, our first baby, and still our family.  She decided “Mendez” was where it’s at, and even asked if she can put it on her soccer jersey even though she wasn’t officially adopted yet.  Also, soccer?  This kid is seriously the next Brandi Chastain.  She’s fast as hell, has amazing footwork, and is so damn dedicated to being “the best I can be.  I know there’s no such thing as perfect Mama, but watch!  I’m gonna do it!”  Missed tryouts and STILL got selected for the “A” team, is starting on said “A” team, and coach called me just this morning, to let me know that he was able to get her a scholarship to go to the week of soccer camp that we couldn’t afford and that we both felt she would benefit from and agreed that it was such a shame that she couldn’t do it! Also, Christine Lily will be leading practice for the girls on the final day!!!!  I was beyond excited for this…my daughter?  “Who’s that?!?”  GASPPPP!!!!!!  Sooo, we had to google a ton of games from the 1999 Women’s World Cup.  Oh nostalgia, you’re so good to me….

Family Vacation 2016 – We decided to brave a 5 hour drive with an 8 year old (who asked “are we almost there?!?!” every 20 minutes from the second that we left the house in the whiniest voice you have ever heard!), 2 toddlers who only allowed us to listen to Raffi’s “Six Little Ducks” (also dubbed “Six Little SUCKS!”) and watch the same 23 minute and 47 second Baby Einstein Animals video on loop the ENTIRE TRIP, and an awesome chubby little 8 month old that allowed us only 6 minutes of peace and quiet before waking his sleeping brothers with a shriek and reminding his sister that “NO! We aren’t there yet, obviously, because otherwise we wouldn’t be stuck in this car listening to “Six Little SUCKS!” and a crying baby wake up the freaking dead, so please, or so help me God don’t. Ask. Me. Again!!!”, and made our way to Provincetown on the Cape in Massachusetts.    We made it, barely in one piece, unloaded the car and chucked everything into our cottage, and then loaded the kids up in the van again to meet…Diblings.  I know!!  Not only was this our first family vacation, on our own, without our parents or siblings around to help us, but also the first time we are meeting 2 of the families that we have connected with who’s children share half of the same DNA as our kids!  It was…interesting, to say the least.  We spent such little time with them (when you have 4 kids on 4 different schedules, you can’t really “make plans”) and had to leave a couple of times because of melt downs or naps or meals, but ended up meeting with one of the couples again that evening at their hotel and had a nice time talking to them and getting to know them.  The other family we met in the parking lot as we were getting our van to make our trip home.  Lovely couple.  I will say though, that we connected with one couple more than the other, and also realized that the only thing that connects us all is this random man, who made a donation, and then we randomly selected the same man to help us make our dreams come true.  Otherwise, we are all so vastly different that it was interesting to hear how we all came to the decision to use the same donor.  I will say though, the resemblance between all of our kids is uncanny!  The rest of vacation was so awesome, especially for Mary.  She got to meet another girl, who was adopted, by two moms, who’s middle name was Mary, and shared the exact same birthday!!!  Talk about the right place at the right time!  Loads of activities for every child of every age, lots of groups for parents to get information (and free childcare!), Clam Bake and Lobster Dinner, animals at the library, End of Family Week party that our kids absolutely LOVED!!!  I absolutely recommend, if possible to make it out to the Northeast and doing Family Week at least once with your kids.  You will not regret it.  Also, SHOUT OUT to the Family Equality Council for doing the damn thing!!!IMG_5359[1]IMG_5421[1]IMG_5344[1]IMG_5406[1]

Callie’s job was bought by another company and they did a whole bunch of reorganizing of positions.  To make a long story really, really, really short (it’s a pretty freaking long story!) Callie’s position was eliminated in September and she was going to just ride it out, even though they had comparable positions available.  They weren’t what she wanted and we were absolutely OK with her staying home again.  Turns out, a co-worker who’s toes she didn’t want step up must have BOMBED on her interview (even though she was super convinced that she had gotten it) at which point Callie decided she would go for it, and wouldn’t you know, she NAILED IT!?!?!?  She did y’all, and now, shes the boss, again!  Better scheduling, pay, and commute!  2 hours now has turned into 30 miuntes 3 days a week!  Also, a management position opened up at my job that I intereviewed for and should know by Monday the latest weather I got it or not.  Friends, I have to admit, it looks promising!  Still in HR, still with the same people, just more money, better benefits.  Wish me luck!

Luck with the possible new job but also with this…IMG_5505[1]IMG_5492[1]

I’m not even gonna speak on this but, send help!

First time at the beach (which they absolutely LOVED) and hanging out on Papa’s boat (Papa is also new.  Thought it would be Grandpa,  but NOPE! Papa!) IMG_5247IMG_5500[1]

Surgeries…Our home is no stranger to the blood curdling scream of a child woken up out of his sleep from the stabbing pain of an ear infection. Noah in particular has been plagued by them since he was about 9 months old. From November through June, just over 7 months, he had 6 ear infections, most double. 3 in May and June. Finally, we figured it was time to go see an ENT to see what was going on. Noah had a good amount of fluid trapped even though he had been on antibiotics for 2 weeks and was ear infection free for at least one more week. They did a test to measure the pressure and it was all off. The doctor wanted to wait 6 more week to make a final decision about what to do. In those 6 weeks we did some research, spoke to some people, tried some holistic stuff, and nothing. Went back for a follow up and no difference in the amount of fluid. We were so opposed to getting him tubes….until, until my heart broke when they did an audio/visual hearing test, and I cried my face off because my son could not hear. The 2 lowest whispers got no reinforcing singing puppets banging on light up plastic drums. No monkey laughing and banging cymbals together when Noah failed to turn his head because he didn’t hear his name whispered through the 1’x 1′ speaker in the corner. The devastation that I felt at being so adamant about not getting by poor, hearing impaired baby tubes to clear the fluid from his ears. I signed the paperwork right then, and surgery was last Thursday. Everything went great, and now, with his new titanium bionic tubes, he’s already much much clearer in his speech and he watches you more intently to see how your mouth moves. He went from saying “Yate” in the morning to saying “Jake” in the afternoon. It was unreal. He startles much easier, and since surgery has had a hard time going to sleep (maybe it’s too noisy now ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ , who knows) but otherwise, things here are great and I could never regret a decision that gives my child their best chance at life. These moms are so, so happy.    

Also, Mama is gearing up for surgery. I’ve had a lot of health issues since I was about 20, and they’ve gotten worse lately. I have tried everything I can to get my health on track for about 10 years now, but most are weight related and PCOS makes it impossible to lose a good amount of weight (and keep it off!) and finally, FINALLY, with this bomb ass insurance, am finally able to get this taken care of. I’m on track (lots of preliminary stuff) and surgery possibly in November.  So excited and so scared at the same time. 

And finally, if you have free summer concerts at local parks, make that happened! They have absolutely enriched our summer, and have also taught my kids to dance and keep time and cadence with the music and I absolutely love that!!!​


Also, how freaking cute are Human Puppy Boys?!?! Clearly rhetorical! ​


And just because…​

6 Months and So Much More…

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I can’t believe that this little guy is 6 months old! Well, 6 months, a week, and 2 days at this point, but nonetheless, 6 whole friggin months! I’m still in awe that my tiny little premature 3.9lbs baby is this chubby little wiggly, giggly, drooly thing.  It’s also interesting to think that just under a year ago, we did this TWICE over and it’s all still so new.

Austin Ryan is approximately 16lbs, you know, the “let me hold this baby while I weigh myself” strategy.  At 6 months old, adjusted age at 27 weeks or exactly 4 months and a day (which is weird how that works out!) he already weighs more than the boys did at almost a year old!  This kid can eat!  He drinks anywhere from 4-5 ounces every 2-3 hours.  The only time he doesn’t follow that schedule is when he is sleeping, but he’s not that great of a sleeper…at all.  Unlike his brothers, who by 4months were sleeping through the night, Austin is still waking up regularly every 3-4 hours.  He goes down at 8pm, then gets up just before midnight and takes another bottle, then goes down again until about 3am, and then again at around 5:30-6pm.  He’s still nursing, and we co-sleep after his 3am feeding, but we’ll get into that in a few.  I’m starting to wean (seriously sobbing here folks) and it’s really just a lot to handle right now.

We have had a few concerns with Austin’s development, so we had him evaluated by Early Intervention. As we anticipated, our suspicions were right.  Austin has a bit of a delay when it comes to his gross and fine motor skills.  He just recently (within the past 2 weeks) started holding his head up and pushing up on his hands, but still isn’t really reaching for anything since he is still heavily relying on his hands to hold him up.  He also started rolling from belly to back at about the same time.  The good thing is, cognitively, there are no concerns.  He follows objects with his eyes.  He coos and laughs.  He smiles socially.  Everything else looks pretty good, but he’ll be starting services pretty soon.  I’m scheduling a meeting with his coordinator as we speak, to try and get him started ASAP with his twice a week therapy.  Otherwise, this little guy is doing everything he needs to do.  IMG_5136

Now, breastfeeding…I’ll be honest, I don’t even know how to write about this without being in tears.  So for many reasons (which I’ll explain) I have decided to stop nursing Austin and start weening.  I’m super sad about it y’all, and haven’t stopped crying since last night when I finally made the decision.  I’ve been going back and forth about this for the past almost 2 months, since Austin went from drinking 3oz to drinking about 5oz.  So, since Austin was born, it has been quite the struggle to get my supply up.  From day one, he was taking 10cc’s of breast milk.  I was making just that.  When they were gradually increasing him in the NICU (2-5cc’s about every other day) my body was able to keep up with his needs, and I basically exclusively pumped and he was getting about 70/30 breast milk/formula until we left the hospital.  Nursing Austin those first few weeks at home were really difficult.  He was having a hard time latching and he wasn’t able to get all of the milk and properly drain my breasts, so most of my first few weeks of him being home consisted of nursing, pumping, washing pump parts and bottles, and doing it all over again.  For some strange reason, my left breast wouldn’t respond to a pump OR a baby well, so I always have to hand express the left breast, so if feeding and pumping wasn’t enough of a pain in the ass, I ALSO have to hand express! I’ve ALWAYS had to supplement with formula (almost always, 2 of his 8-10 bottles a day were formula, and I am absolutely OK with that!).  I’ve taken every herb you can think of, drank enough water to probably hydrate every person in China TWICE, and even used Domperidone as a last resort to increase my milk supply as much as possible, and even then, after all of that, I was still only pumping about 8oz a day. Not a session but A DAY, and that was a freaking good day, because on average it was closer to about 6.  IMG_5104

I gave it 6 god months and that’s not including all of the months that I did my best to try and nurse Noah and Levi.  I LOVE nursing Austin.  I adore the way he reaches for my fingers, or how he looks at me and smiles mid nurse.  I will never get enough of his big, beautiful brown eyes staring up at mine.  I don’t know how I’m going to handle this when he doesn’t nurse, AT ALL anymore, and even thinking about it is enough to make me tell me boss that I’m not feeling well, so that I can go home and throw myself onto my bed and heavily sob about it.  Nursing and pumping is such hard work, and the amount of hard work that it takes to come home after 3 30 minute pumping sessions with hardly enough milk to make one bottle is really disheartening and saddening and upsetting.  It’s frustrating that no matter what I do, I just can’t make enough milk.  And the shit is, I was totally OK with that until this past month.  I was absolutely fine with just nursing him when I was at home and diligently pumping throughout my work day, but it’s gotten to be too much for too little.  There are also other things that played a role in this.  For starters, my two big toes have pretty terrible nail fungus (all those years of playing soccer and ingrown toe nails and what have you) and the only way to correct it is to take an oral medication (which I can’t take because I’m nursing) or to pull the nails off and laser the nail bed (which they won’t do until I’m done nursing).  Also, I went to see a bariatric surgeon on Friday in order to get gastric sleeve surgery (that’s for another post entirely!) but because of the caloric intake that is required for nursing as well as the water intake, not only for myself but for milk production, it would be extremely easy for me to dehydrate if I were nursing. Those 2 things combined with the small amount that I’m producing, it just seemed like, for me, it was probably time, despite not wanting to at all.IMG_5128

I know that solid food if coming now.  I KNOW that he is getting what he needs from formula, but it breaks my damn heart to know that I won’t have all of our special cuddles, if that makes any sense.  I’m really struggling here friends.  This is a tough, sad day for me.  I’ve gone from pumping at  9, 12, and 3 at work, to 10 and 2.  Then I nurse him when I get home at 6, then I’ll nurse him again around 10, and then at 6 before we head out to daycare.  I’ll do that for the next week or so. Then I’ll take it down another 2 sessions, and we’ll go from there and re-adjust again.  And to makes matters all the more pleasant, I also started my period after almost 17 months!  Levi didn’t get approved for speech therapy because he doesn’t have a significant ENOUGH delay (he’s at a 12 month level for speech which only puts him at a 25% delay and he needs a 33% delay to get services), so that sucks because he needs it!  Noah is having tube surgery in August.  My poor baby couldn’t hear at the appointment when they did his hearing test (little drum tapping mechanical stuffed animals making noise in the corners of a room that he was supposed to look at when they turn on, and half the time he had no clue they were making noise), and of course Mama was a hot, snotty, crying mess!  Mary’s adoption may take longer than we originally anticipated because the caseworker that we have been working with for over 2 years got reassigned to a different district so we will have a new worker taking over who has to get all of her paperwork in order, and it’s just a true pain in the ass.  So basically, the past couple of days have been…days, to say the least.  Wish this mama some luck with keeping her emotions in check this week and if you don’t pray, do whatever it is that you do and send some calming, “help with this new adjustment” vibes this way.  I sure could use them…

Good thing this face helps…

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Still Reeling…

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Our community is suffering this week.  Our people are hanging their heads low, looking over their shoulders and getting where they need to go as quickly as they can.  They are also embracing each other and standing together to let the world know that this will not silence us.  This is a wake up call.  This is to let us know that there is still so much work to be done.  This still tells us that we have to continue to stand tall and stand proud and stand together.  This tells us that even in the face of danger and in the face of hatred, if we stand together, with our allies, we can begin to defeat some of the hatred in this world.  Not all of it, but a lot it.  We need to keep showing our faces and our families, and hold hands.  We, that are loud and proud, need to continue to advocate for those of us that have no voices or are scared for one reason or another to be seen and heard.  We need to continue to fight.  In the aftermath of the Orlando massacre (because really, what ELSE can it be called?!?!), it’s so  hard to look at my kids, and my wife, and know that doing NOTHING could affect them so terribly, that I refuse to be scared into a closet again.  I look at my family and know that I will not be silenced and that I will always do my the most I can and the very best I can to make sure that they are safe and taken care of.

I still don’t know how to wrap my head around everything that happened.  I still don’t even know if I have fully processed what has occurred.  I still cry when I see pictures of the victims because so many of them look like my younger brother or his ex-boyfriend (who is still a huge part of our lives and our family).  I look and see the face of my best friend, and sometimes even a future Levi, Noah, and Austin finding a place to call their own with people just like them.  It makes me sad for the parents who lost their babies, and for the LGBTQ and Latino communities, Orlando, and the world as a whole.  What a sad, sad world we live in.

Before I became a blogger, I was a spoken word artist  who wrote poem upon poem about the things that were going on in my life.  Mostly, during the times that I found myself the most depressed.  Now, in the aftermath of the Pulse tragedy, I haven’t been able to put my pen down…

 

**TRIGGER WARNING** I put myself in the shoes of the victims.  It may be hard to read.  Also, the time and cadence of this poem may be difficult to deal with.  It’s fast and broken, and jumbled…I’m assuming, it was probably the same that night…

Bodies down
Countless victims hit the ground
Music, pulsing, disorienting
We just came to have a good time
We just came to have a good time
We came to dance and live and love
And this place, this haven has been taken from us

Shots fired, shots fired
A lone stranger
Never would have thought we could be in danger
Two men kissing was all he needed as confirmation
The world would be better even if just one less

Where once we were free we are prisoners again
All due to the actions of one deranged man
Hide away, Hide away
Don’t let them see
How all of these people are just like me

Hands turned Crimson as they crawl and scratch their way free
Human lives collected meaninglessly
Mothers waiting for calls that their babies are free
Re-reading texts they’ve sent so vehemently
Praying a reply will come

Loud music on dead ears
Bright lights, closed eyes
How could a community so kind someone despise?
Dispose of despite the cries
Where do the answers lie?
Another childless parent left wondering why
Their child, their baby taken too soon

A man hiding from himself and from what’s true
Assault weapon directly in view
Run for your life
RUN FOR YOUR LIFE
Don’t worry about others and save you
My brothers, my sisters, what can I DO?
What can I do?
What can i do?

What has he done?

 

 

2 Years

On WordPress

Sharing my words with your eyes

Making friends

Being honest

Learning about this whole new life 

Adulting and documenting the journey

Cherishing this space and this outlet

2 years of thanking you for tuning in….

Asking For Help

It’s not always easy to ask for help, especially when you are the type of persons that likes to appear like they have it all together, but friends, this has been a tough couple of months.  Exhaustion plus sickness plus marital issues plus financial stuff and just general unhappiness with the outcome of certain things in my life has really gotten the best of me, and so I swallowed my pride (a bit bitter, I have to say) and reached out to find a therapist.  After having spent some time inpatient and almost 2 years completing a DBT treatment program, I’m pretty in tune and aware of when depressions waves start crashing over me.  Initially, they are lapping at my feet, but before you know it, they are over my head and washing me out to sea.  Before it got that bad, I called my insurance company, found a provider near me, called for a phone consultation where it felt like a pretty good fit, and last Tuesday night had my first session. Last night was my second.

See, the thing is that I’m at a place in my life where I have pretty much all the things that I want.  I have a beautiful wife that I love so, so much.  I have 4 amazing and wonderful children who take up so much time but also fill my heart with so much love.  I have family and friends that make my life so much easier and so much better and so much fuller.  I also have this internet community that more often than not, is a great source of comfort and relief, assurance, honesty, and friendship.  Somehow though, there is still…stuff. I mean, I didn’t expect 4 kids to be easy, so when the 4 kids came, it wasn’t that huge of an adjustment.  My parents had 5 kids, and I grew up in a small space that was kinda cramped with so many people, but that made my life all the better.  I wasn’t too badly disillusioned when 4 kids came…with stuff (lots and lots of stuff), and when they took up a lot of space, and when they cried all night and didn’t sleep, and when they puked all over my house, and when they drained my bank account.  It was all pretty expected actually having seen what my life was like growing up, but being a parent brings up things from when you were younger and how your parents parented you, and I think with some of that stuff coming to the forefront and it’s really starting to bother me.  I won’t get into the nitty gritty of it, but I find myself doing certain things that my parents did that growing up I thought were unfair or just straight up wrong.  When I catch glimpses of that person, I get really frustrated and upset with myself.

The whole “exhaustion and sickness” thing is to be expected when you have kids in school and daycare, but when you have FOUR kids and they are on a “sickness rotation” and it seems like the second one gets better another gets sick, it gets to a point where you just break down and cry, screaming to the Health Gods, “PLEASE MAKE MY BABIES UNSICK!!!” You ugly cry, snot running down your face, and you just pray and hope and do all the things you can to get the sickness out, but you’re already defeated!  You’ve thrown your hands up and surrender to the fact, that it may just not get better for a long time.  And that’s really depressing, because what loving parent is ok with seeing their babies sick indefinitely? Friends, it be’s like that some days…

Financial stuff?!  Well, you would think that two women who work pretty decent jobs, that have a combined 6 figure income would be able to get out of debt (it’s not much I swear!), get their lives together, buy a house that can actually fit 6 people comfortably, finally plan a freaking wedding and be able to take at least a small vacation once a year, right?!  Yeah, that’s not happening here!  Why?!  Because I am the absolute WORST at money.  Because money not only burns a whole in my pocket, but it sets my whole outfit ablaze!  Because I was never taught to save for things or given a bank account when I was younger.  Because my parents made me work so I could give them money to help pay the bills that helped them raise 5 kids, and ended up blowing the $50 that I had left at the end of the week because the other $500 were taken from me, and there ya have it!  Money and I?  We ain’t cool no more, and I doubt we will be for a long ass time, because it’s causing me so much stress and so much sadness, because I want to DO but I can’t financially, and it’s making me wish for other things that I should have done to help stack my bank account, and finishing college is one of those things, but I don’t even have the mental capacity to go there right now.

And finally, the one that is affecting me the most is the marital stuff.  I don’t normally come on here to vent or to rant about the bullshit stuff that goes on in my marriage, because honestly, all of this stuff will be water under the bridge in a few days time, so really, whats the point?  But lately, some of this stuff has gotten so bad, that I’ve threatened divorce and moving out and couch sleeping, and just lots of things have been said (and sometimes done) when I reach that ultimate point of “I CAN’T TAKE THIS SHIT ANYMORE AND YOU ARE BEING SUCH AN ASSHOLE!”  And I’ll admit, sometimes in the heat of the moment I just might come out of my face and call my wife some things that I’m not proud of (a “fucking bitch” or the dreaded “c” word have in fact escaped my lips before and I’m not proud of it, believe me!) but sometimes it just feels like she is working against me and not with me, and that makes an already exhausting and taxing and hard situation/day 10x’s worse. Usually an argument escalates when one of us feels like that other isn’t doing their part, and I know my wife will vibrantly disagree with the following statement but I always do so much more than her.

We get home at 6pm, one of us cooks dinner or we have left overs, then everyone eats while I nurse Austin, then I give the boys a bath while Callie half ass cleans the kitchen, then I put them to bed while she sits on the couch and plays with Austin and her phone.  Then I clean the rest of the mess in the kitchen (is there this new thing where loading the dishwasher and wiping the counters is considered cleaning the kitchen?!?!?), if she hasn’t already done it I’ll clean the highchairs, and then I’ll clean the rest of the living room, sweep and mop the bathroom, living room, dining room and kitchen, throw out the garbage and FINALLY I am able to sit down just in time to nurse Austin again.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, she helps a bit, but according to her it’s never up to my standards so she doesn’t try very hard because I’m not easy to please and I’m going to do it over again anyway so why bother! Um, because you do it half assed and I HAVE to do it again any way!  And this is leading to so much friction in our lives, that after our kids go to bed at about 7:30, we barely talk to each other.  Pair all of that and the feels of being a quasi-solo parent to the situation with her hoarder tendencies, and you have a serious recipe for disaster.  I mean, I haven’t been able to clean our bedroom in 3 months because there is so much shit piled up on the floor on Callie’s side that it’s impossible to even get around to the other side of the bed to tidy up.  When I tell you that there is about half an inch of dust in my bedroom right now, I’m not even close to exaggerating even though I really wish I was.  So yesterday morning, I opened my eyes and was completely overwhelmed with the mess and scream, “You know Callie!  This is some fucking bullshit! Wake up, and the first fucking thing I see, is you, eating fucking BREAKFAST in the goddamned bathroom that hasn’t been cleaned in fucking forever because God fucking forbid you take some fucking initiative and do some fucking cleaning in this stupid ass apartment, so a big fucking thank you for ruining my day the SECOND I open my eyes!”

Guys, it was bad.  Really fucking bad!  And the fighting and the anxiety and the mess and the stress and the depression, so finally a therapist.  I’m getting help guys, for my anger because one of these days, I’m gonna snap.  But Callie thinks I’m the only one that needs it.  She doesn’t think she needs individual therapy, only couples therapy so that the therapist can tell me how wrong I am and how right she is, even though, no!  We are both wrong, we are both right, and she could absolutely help me more instead of checking out after 8pm because she is “so tired”.  We’re both fucking tired, hanging on to dear life most days, but yet having to make it work.    I had to get this off of my chest, and sorry for the unusual negative energy/post, but ugh!  The level of resentment and dissatisfaction with my wife if really bringing me down, and I don’t want to feel that way anymore.  I want to love her unconditionally and lately it feels like, “if she…then I would…” and that doesn’t feel unconditional AT ALL.  Nonetheless, I’ll continue to work on me in the months to come and hope this all clears itself up.  Hopefully my house will be a little neater, cleaner, and less cluttered too.

 

P.S.  While I was writing this, I was simultaneously getting quotes for wedding venues in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  See, I freaking love her, but she makes me so damn crazy….

She Knows…

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Tuesday evening, the elevator climbs up the 3 floors to our apartment.  Before I put my key in the door, I take a deep breath and prepare myself for what will possibly be a tough night of explaining what happens next and trying to manage loads and loads of tears, but before I turn the key, I hear squeals and laughter.  I slowly open the door, and the boys are sitting on the floor stacking a few boxes and knocking them down, thinking it is the most hilarious thing they have ever done/seen.  I hear voices in the kitchen…more laughter.

Mary and Callie are talking.  Mary is sitting on the step stool, elbows on her knees, chin resting in the palm of her hands.  She looks…happy…which is not really what I expected.

Hey my two favorite ladies!  How’s everything? What are you talking about?!

I have a lot of feelings.

Hmm, you do?  Well, what are they?! Wanna talk about it?!

I was talking to mommy about it.  I was telling her I went to parenting. (Mary goes to parenting for an hour once/week.  Her and her mom meet with a therapist who monitors and corrects/applauds/helps with positive and appropriate interactions)

Oh, yeah!  And how was it?  Did you and your mom play games?

No, we just talked.

About?

Adoption.

Oh!  Well, that’s important stuff to talk about!  And what did she say about it?!

She said that I’m getting adopted.

SHE DID! ::GASP:: And how did that make you feel when she told you that?

It made me feel really happy and really sad at the same time.

You wanna tell me more about that?  Why happy and why sad?

Sad because I won’t see my mom so much anymore.  I can only see her 4 times a year, so that means I can only see my baby sister 4 times a year, and I won’t be able to see my family, like my Titi (mom’s sister) or my grandma (who passed away right before Austin was born and mom still hasn’t told her) or my cousins in Florida, that I forget their names, and that makes me sad.  But happy because I never have to leave again and I can stay here with you and mommy and my brothers, and we can be a family. Oh, and I can sleep over Wita’s house with Izzy whenever I want!!!


We didn’t think that Mary would be able to absorb this huge news and process it so quickly, but it’s 2 days later and all we see is the hugest change in her behavior and her demeanor.  She’s always been upbeat, funny, helpful, but lately it hasn’t been at the level that it’s always been.  She’s been dragging her feet a little more, being a little more whiny and complainy about the tiniest things, short of patience, lots of errors on her homework from being careless and uninterested, but just in the past 2 days she has somehow, in some weird way, flourished.  It’s like she became a whole new kid, literally overnight!  She set the table without being prompted.  She’s not only been brushing her teeth, but FLOSSING without having to be told.  Her bed has been made the past 2 days before I am even up in the morning.  Not a single mistake on her homework in the past 2 days.  She can concentrate.  She’s been sleeping (she was having severe anxiety and hasn’t slept soundly in a couple of weeks).  I mean, who would have thought that just KNOWING that you aren’t leaving again can make such a huge difference.  That same afternoon she came home with a Green Card from the after-school program.  I don’t know, but it can’t possibly be a coincidence that Mary hears the news that she is going to have a forever family after 5 years in foster care and gets rewarded for EXCELLENT behavior.  I don’t know why we were expecting her to be beside herself, and lost.  She has expressed over and over again that she wants to be adopted.  We should have known that this news would flip her life around, but in an amazing way.

When Mary went to bed, Callie and I talked.  Mary and her mom met with the parenting therapist from 2-3pm , and then Mary went on her own to touch base with her individual therapist from 3-3:30.  Mary’s therapist had called Callie and told her how it went down.  Lisa, Mary’s mom, explained that the judge had made the choice to make Mary adoptable.  She told her that she would only be seeing her 4 times a year.  She also said that Mary could see her whenever she wanted as long as we thought it was ok, and the parenting therapist cosigned that ish!  Callie and I were pretty upset about this, but luckily Mary had told her individual therapist that it was said, and she corrected it right away telling Mary that the judge said it was only 4 times and that was it, and also confronting the parenting lady and telling her that it was inappropriate to agree with that.  We aren’t really fans of the parenting coach.  This is the same lady that let Mary’s mom tell her that we aren’t her parents and that those aren’t her brothers, and Mary came home really hurt and upset about it.

Mary asked mom some hard questions.  “Why didn’t you do the right thing so you could get me back?  Why didn’t you make good choices?  Why is it so hard for you to make good choices?  Don’t you love me?”  I can’t imagine being a mother and having my kids ask me questions like that.  But the interesting thing, the one thing that we absolutely did NOT expect…Mary didn’t cry.  The whole time.  Not once.  In fact, when she got home, she shed about 3 tears, probably because she felt safe and comfortable enough with us to do so, and just because we know her so well, we knew that they were forced, almost like she thought that was what we expected.  It was like she was fighting to keep the smile OFF of  her face.  Friends, this kid is so, so happy, despite it taking her away from her biological family, it has cemented her place in her, permanently, in ourd. Her chosen family.  The place where her heart is.  That is all we wanted for her…safety, happiness, and permanency.  We’re almost their friend…we are almost there…


Day 4 of Operation No More Bobo’s is a success!  They haven’t asked for bobo’s once today and they are both currently napping!  Thanks the bobo gods!

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WHAT 5:30 PM LOOKS LIKE AFTER 2 DAYS OF NO NAP!

Send Help!

Day 3 of “Operation No More Bobo’s” started out…ROUGH!  I tried to snatch the paci’s out of the crib before the boys woke up, but it was tough getting out of bed, and I COMPLETELY forgot that the operation was still happening, so alas, it was a slow start with lots of tears and two snotty faced boys screaming, ” Mama, ana bobo! Ana Bobo!” Oh Lordt, please help me!  I may or may not have been short with them and Callie before I had my coffee.

Yesterday was super tough for them at daycare, especially Levi, who has had a bobo in his mouth since the hour after he was born and has basically never been without it.  The teacher called me yesterday to give me the progress report.  Her response?  “Please, for the love of all things good, bring that child his pacifier!”, or something like that.  At least that’s what I heard, and I FEEL her because GOOD GRIEF the crying!  Instead, we agreed to work together to help the boys through this rough time, and so they checked in today, about 20 minutes ago, and I was hoping she would say, “Today was much better!  Today was exceptional!  Today was marvelous! So long Bobo’s!”.  But that’s not how it went down. At. All.

They didn’t nap AGAIN today, Levi had a tantrum that lasted 40 minutes at 8:30am, Noah lost his shit and chased the teacher around the classroom asking to be picked up and yelling, “BOBOOOOOOO” the whole morning, and to top it all off, they didn’t get a chance to go outside after snack (which is their routine) because there wasn’t enough support , so around 10:30am, both boys sat, backs against the door, crying for another 15 minutes.  IN fact, when I was talking to their teacher, I could hear Levi screaming his head off in the background.  I asked what they were doing to support them, and they gave them the little bears that i sent that are attached to the pacifier (we took the paci part off), and we also sent their Lovies with them, so they’ve been trying to give them those too.  They know that the boys LOVE to paint, so they let them paint their little hearts away to help distract them.  Hopefully, we’ll be over this quickly, because it’s like dealing with Callie when she quit smoking, and THAT was a shit show!  My poor boys are hurting right now for their little monkey bobo’s and mama is so, so mean for not giving it to them, and even though I know that I am doing the right thing, my heart says “You’re the worst! Look at them crying! How dare you!?!?!”

So here’s to tomorrow being a better day because this mom might just give in and give them their bobo’s and buy 10 more of the same ones so that I don’t have to deal with this ever again!

On a much brighter and definitely cooler note, I  have been picked up as a featured writer for TheNextFamily.com.  I’ll be posting bi-weekly about being a two mom, multi racial, reciprocal IVF, foster to adopt family.  You all know the kinds of shenanigans going on at Casa Mendez, but now MORE PEOPLE will know the insanity.  So HEY Universe! How you doing? Thanks for throwing this mama a bone (and an extra paycheck!) Hope you guys will follow along with me there…

Photoshoots and BoBo’s

Callie and I finally had a few minutes to go over the boys 1st birthday photo shoot from JANUARY!!!  I know! I know!  We need to get our lives together, but you know, full time jobs and FOUR KIDS!  Anyways, they look adorable…086003045012046073-v2156Despite all of that cuteness, it had been a tough 2 days. We got rid of the boys Bobo’s (pacifiers) and they are absolutely, positively, not happy about it.  2 days without naps, and crying themselves to sleep.  We aren’t necesarily a full fledged CIO family, but we do dable in the world of modified CIO, and last night was absolute torture.  Noah cried for a good 20 minutes before he finally was like, “Eff this! I’m going to bed”.  I had to cuddle Levi because he was hyperventilating.  It’s been awful, but so are those teeth.  It’s time for them to go!  Wish us luck! But they sure look cute with bobo’s, don’t they?!?

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Permanency

Yesterday we had court for Mary.  We didn’t know what to expect except what we had heard, which was mostly, sit back, listen to what they are saying and prepare for this to go any way.  That didn’t sit very well with us, but having had other friends who had gone through TPR (Termination of Parental Rights) we know that it can be quite the lengthy process.  Kids have to be in foster care any 15 out of 22 months before a TPR is filed and then after that the trial and disposition and finally a decision from the judge.  Depending on how long the child has been in care dictates (for the most part) how long the TPR process will take.  With Mary having been in care for over 5 years, we kinda knew this was gonna drag on and on and on.  Moms reluctance to give her up would make this last even longer! So, we showed up at 9:30am ready to lock our butts into the cold wooden seast and listen to what the caseworker was going to testify to.

Now, when you’re at a hearing, the evidence that is presented is ONLY from when the TPR is filed and before that.  Nothing after that. Since the TPR was filed, mom has been pretty consistent (guessing she doesn’t wanna lose her kid) but it’s a little too late.  They would be testify and providing evidence from moms WORST year.  The year that she disappeared for half of and tested positive on all of her drug tests for the other half and left all her different treatment programs (rehab, anger management, parenting, individual therapy).  Not a good look.  But we sat in the waiting area with our caseworker, her lawyer, and Mary’s Lawyer.  A few days ago Mary’s lawyer came to our apartment to interview Mary.  We weren’t allowed to sit in, which was a little unnerving, but Mary has been pretty adamant about being adopted but STILL seeing her mom if she was.

As we sit there, Mary’s mom’s lawyer walked over to us (the whole group, not just Callie and I). The caseworker’s attorney (let’s just call her Alyson) suggested to Mary’s mom’s lawyer that she should sign the consent.  The “consent” is a document that’s almost like pleading “no contest” in a court of law, except you admit guilt but no evidence is heard against you.  Makes it pretty hard for a judge to determine and prove negligence if there is no evidence, so then we go to the disposition where everyone can make their case, EXCEPT the Department of Social Services (DSS) won’t be able to use evidence from BEFORE the TPR, only AFTER! This is mom’s best option because if we were to use the information from AFTER the TPR, mom has a greater chance of getting Mary back, and Mary could potentially go home.

Mom’s lawyer went back to where Lisa (Mary’s mom) was sitting.  She gave Lisa the information and came back about 10 minutes later to explain to us that Lisa would be willing to sign the consent if, and and only if she can get an additional one hour visit every week.  Alyson and Mary’s lawyer (Saul) were both completely against it.

“That doesn’t even make sense! We’re in TPR! We can’t give her MORE time with the child! It’s counterproductive. Absolutely not!”

So Lisa’s lawyer went back and told her.  She was gone for quite a while.  She came back and said that Lisa would not agree to signing anything unless she got more time with Mary.  Our car worker called her supervisor to speak to him and see if it was something that was feasible.  After several more minutes, and sweaty palms, the caseworker’s supervisor decided that if mom would sign the consent, an additional visit a week would be the best option, and we could proceed with the case and the department would have one less thing to worry about (that’s mine and Callie’s take on it).

“I represent my client and what she wants and there is NO WAY I will agree to one more visit! My client wants to be adopted, and another visit a week is out of the question on the grounds that it would cause too much confusion for my client and remove her from school even more than the 3 days a week that she already is,” boomed a voice from the corner.  Saul is a small guy, about 5’6″, bald shiny head, small elvish features and tiny voice, but when his voice came through, we all knew this was a non-negotiable.  Lisa’s lawyer called an attorney meeting with the judge.

All 3 attorneys entered the courtroom and left all of us outside to wonder what was happening.  What felt like an eternity later (probably only 10 minutes though) all 3 attorneys returned, Saul and Alyson to where we were sitting and Lisa’s mom’s attorney to the opposite side of the area.  Saul said the judge said “ABSOLUTELY NOT!  We are in TPR and there is no way I would approve an additional visit.  This is not a permanency hearing (where they make decisions about visits, treatment, next 6 months) and it’s not beneficial for the child.  And I would tell your client that if she’s adamant about seeing her children, she may want to sign a conditional surrender because that’s her only guarantee to see her child.  We’re terminating her rights! She needs to understand that.” Callie and I are sitting there not saying anything, kid of taking it all in.  This is so new for is, and we had loads of question brut it was all going so quickly but also really slowly and time was crawling but feeling like we were in fast forward. We see Lisa’s attorney walking towards us.

“Do the terms of a surrender stay the same?”

All eyes on Callie and me. Blink blink.

“Us?!”

Nods in our direction.

“4 visits a year. Quarterly. No holidays, Mothers’ Day, or birthdays.  Monthly email updates with pictures. Anything else at our discretion.”

“What about 6 visits a year? Every 2 months?!”

Callie, “Absolutely NOT!”

She walks away. She comes back.

She’ll sign the consent.

Everyone looks at each other and then look at me and Callie.  What the heck are they looking at us like that for?

“Wait?  She’ll sign the surrender?” says Mary’s lawyer.

SHOCK! She’ll what?!?! She’s gonna surrender her rights?! Somehow Callie and I heard consent, not surrender.

“Yes, she said she’ll sign the surrender so long as those conditions apply and so long as Mary is adopted by Sammie and Callie.”

Callie’s eyes brimmed with tears and Mary’s lawyer told us not to get too excited.  There are a series of questions that the judge would ask that most parents, upon hearing, change their minds about surrendering.

“We have to go back to the office and draw up the paperwork.  Everyone be back by 1:45pm.  I’ll inform the judge that she is surrendering.”

So we left, had lunch with my parents, had a Sangria because THE NERVES, and made our way back to the courtroom, waiting impatiently for them to call us in.

“PARTY FOR COLLINS.  COLLINS!” screeched through on the loud speaker.

Sweaty palms, light feet, we made out way into the courtroom.  I don’t know how any mother could have heard the words the judge said and not break down.  Are you of sound mind making this decision?  Have you had any alcohol or drugs today?  Do you realize that you are going to be losing custody of your child today once these papers are signed?  DO you realize that a day, a week, a month, a year from now, you cannot take back this decision?  All of those were asked, but the one that took my breath away, that left an ache in my heart for what this mother was doing/about to do, “DO you realize that once you sign these papers and walk out of this courtroom, your child will be a STRANGER to you in the eyes of the law?” “Yes, I understand”.  My heart broke for Mary’s mother, for the first time since having met her.

A stranger…and it’s double sided because she IS a stranger.  She’s BEEN a stranger.  But somehow not.  And as her penned hand mechanically moved across the paper, probably collecting tears and ink stains along the way, it was not lost on us the gift that she was giving us, the gift and the life that she was giving Mary, and we realized then that she loved this child more than we had expected.  That she loved her daughter so much that she was willing to give her away to give her her best chance, and all in one moment I had a new found respect for her.  A desire to make it work the way that divorced parents did, because really, more people loving our daughter is something we would turn our nose up to.  For the second time, she was giving Mary life, and for a quick moment, I loved her.  Genuinely, deeply, and unselfishly.

At 2:28pm on Tuesday, May 10, 2015, the judge announced that Mary was officially freed for adoption. We’ll talk to an adoption worker next week and start the ball rolling on paperwork and interviews and whatever else she needs us to do.  In just 3-6 short months Mary Mendez will be an official member of Casa Mendez.  It’s been official in our hearts for ages…