Thursday, July 21, 2011

When it rains it pours

Pardon this post. I have a lot on my plate right now and I need to unload. I want to hit something really hard so I am just going to sit here and pound my heart out on this poor keyboard.

Owning a house, most would say it's the best investment you could make. It means that you have arrived you have established yourself in the world as a property owner. You own something that is a symbol of success.


Not if you are young and buying your first home and the professionals you intrust your money to lead you astray. Or in our case lead us right into a literal shithole. I know some people own crappy rundown old or ugly houses and refer to them as shitholes. But until you have to lay your kids to bed at night in a home that has raw sewage backing up into the lower level you have not arrived at shithole.

5 years ago we applied for a loan and were pre-approved for $90,000. We decided to do the mature thing and only buy as much home as we could comfortably afford on our modest income so we opted to stay in the $70,000 range. We didn't want to be house poor and struggling to rub 2 pennies together. We found an agent, and started the shopping process. I think we visited 30 houses. Some were too small, not enough bedrooms, really bad neighborhoods, so on. We finally decided on a lovely yellow house on an alley with a white picket fence. It was clean and had a nice kitchen and a big back yard for the kids. We put in our offer only to find out that the property was in a flood area and that due to hurricaine Katrina's recent rage our insurance premiums would up our monthly payment by nearly $600 a month... OUCH! We retracted our bid and took a second look at another home we had liked. When we walked away from that first home somewhere deep inside me I had a feeling that we should just pack it in and wait a little longer. I pushed that feeling aside asuming I was just experiencing jitters.

We looked at the house, spent some time talking and decided to put our bid in. The things we didn't like about the house should be easy fixes (no fence, ugly paint color, ect). We put our bid in and it was accepted. So we hired a home inspector by reccommendation of our realator. He looked over the house and gave us a report indicating that all was good in the hood. There were 2 items that needed fixed according to the inspection report (smoke dectectors had no batteries and the lower bath had no hot water) the seller had then fixed and we signed the paperwork and completed the sale.

Fast forward about a week when the insurance company came to inspect the property again and they announced that they could not insure us because we have old knob and tube wiring and that is a fire risk they are not willing to take. Damn it why didn't the house inspection uncover this?

Well since then in the 5 years we have lived here bandaid after bandaid has fallen off of some of the major systems in this house.

We discovered that the wiring is not only old as hell, but that we have rooms upstairs wired to rooms downstairs and it's basically a giant maze to figure out what is supposed to go where. Estimate to re-wire and bring everything up to code: $6500 OUCH! Why didn't the inspection catch this? You know I would like to know too!

The first winter we discovered that the "forced central air and heat" apply only to the first floor of the house. The ductwork are either not attached upstairs or attached so shoddily that no heat or cool air makes it up there. So in winter we use radiant space heaters and in summer window air units. What the hell? Again why didn't the inspection uncover this mess? I don't know either!

Now the plumbing is failing. It started with a blocked toilet. We called a plumber and they ran a snake and discovered that we had a busted sewage line. They leave promising to come back with a camera to estimate how much replacing/repairing would be. While we wait on them I had the city come and take a look. The man from the water office informs me that the city sewage tap placed in front of my lot in 1935 has not been connected to my house. Ok so how does a house supposedly built in 1940 NOT get connected to the public sewage? Lie number 1 this house was built before 1935...
Oh and to make matters worse the water guy told us that more than likely we are opperating on an ancient septic tank. SHIT literally! He goes on to tell me that we will be required to tie into the city sewage. Great!

I just checked my water bill... We have been paying for CITY SEWAGE for the last 5 years! How wonderful!

So today the plumbers show up with the pipe camera and start tracking the line to find the tank or the city line or really anything, at this point it wouldn't surprise me if the line empties into a pit in the yard and not a real septic tank.

So they run the camera through the interior pipes and hit mud (meaning they founf the break) right under my dining room. This area of the house was built over a concrete slab! GREAT my house is quite literally floating on shit! The plumbers can not gt the camera past the break because it happened at the bend where the pipe turns to exit the house. They inform us we need a contractor to come rip up our dining room floor and create access to the area. I asked how big of a hole they need. He points and the floor and says from here to here. Well that equates into a hole that is about 3 feet by 10 feet (maybe bigger, I'm estimating here). They hand me an estimate of $1500 to come back once the hole is cut in the floor to dig down to the pipes and track the line. It will cost about the same to have the floor ripped up and fixed afterwards.

At this point in time I quit! I can't do this! I have hated this house for too long to care about getting it fixed. I just want to pack my belongings and mail the bank the keys and forget I ever had this nightmare. But I am a responsible adult (damn it) and I will do the right thing and fugure it out till we get the house sold under a short sale.

I the meantime anyone know where I can shack up with my 4 kids and husband?

Thursday, July 14, 2011


a child with special needs.

I will start by saying that we have not had Cam officially diagnosed yet, but many of the signs and red flags are there.  I have talked to several knowledgeable professionals and the general consensus is that there are enough flags to move forward with the evaluation and diagnosis.

Cam probably has a form of high functioning Autism.

I have not said that definitively, to anyone outside of our immediate family and our team of doctors and therapists that she has been seeing since she was a baby.

Today, Scoot dropped off the "book" of paperwork to be initially review by the specialists at the Autism clinic. We will not wait anxiously for them to call us for the first round of assessments and evaluations.

While on one hand I am convinced that this is the answer we have been looking for to help explain the behaviors we have been dealing with for 3 years now. I am relieved that finally we may have an answer to give to the people who give us nasty looks at the grocery store when we are sitting on the floor of the frozen foods section her in complete melt down, me holding her with my arms and legs around her body preventing her from kicking and hitting or running off. While she spits on me and tries to bite me all while screaming at the top of her lungs, and I am at the end of my rope desperately clinging trying to hold onto control and not cry. I wish we could melt into the tiles as people walk by and give me the "you're a terrible parent" look, or "just spank her, she'll stop" looks. The thing is, spanking her will only make the tantrum worse. When she gets like this she is beyond reason.

On the other hand I worry that they will come back and tell me that she does not have a form of Autism and that we will be back at square one. Her current occupational therapy regimen is not meeting all of her needs.

I wish that I didn't have to buy a lock for my fridge to keep her from eating a whole 2 pound block of cheese in one sitting (cheese makes her very constipated and that is not fun to fix). I wish I didn't have to paddle lock the downstairs bathroom to keep her from destroying it with feces and urine. I wish I didn't have to lock her in her bedroom. If I didn't I wouldn't be able to sleep for fear that she would get out and destroy the house or wander out the front door. I wish her sisters enjoyed playing with her. I am thankful that most days she doesn't mind playing alone all day. I wish I didn't have to hold her ears when she goes potty in public restrooms. I wish we didn't have to spend a ton of time each week at therapy, instead of enjoying family things. I wish we could go out into the community and do things without fear of her melting.

I confess that even though life is really hard and frustrating at times, I adore her. I am scared about what her future holds. Will she do well in school? Will she have a career, family, friends? Or will she be alone and on the verge of meltdown...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Camping vent!!!

Ughhhh so we belong to a resort group that affords us REALLY cheap rental rates for cabins at the resort. We have access to all the mandatory stuff of camping such as fishing, hiking, ect. But the membership allows us the luxury of not sleeping in a tent on the ground in the dirt with bugs. This last part is vital to me. No matter how "crunchy" or "natural" I become, bug and other critters are two things I will never come to terms with. I try to leave things as nature intended as much as possible but when it comes to bugs my motto is "They stepped leg in my house so I have every right to smash them dead!"

So the last time we came camping we rented a really nice 2 bedroom cabin with a full living room, bathroom, and kitchen. It was spectacular! The best part? We were there for a WHOLE WEEK and saw only a couple insects inside (I think they were brought in by the dog to be honest). So this time we got a much smaller cabin (boo) it was still a 2 bedroom (If you call a closet that is filled with stacked full sized beds a room), it just was very tiny. So, not only was the cabin much smaller than expected, but it came filled with bugs! Flying bugs, crawling bugs... ewwww bugs! Seriously, I laid down on the main bed with little man to feed him and in the 20 minutes I was there I killed at least 20 ants that had crawled onto my body. 

I do not like bugs at all! I do not want to stay in this cabin anymore!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Extended breastfeeding...

aka nursing past 1 year...

Well today Little man turns 14 months as I sit here and type this blog I have to keep adjusting my position to accommodate the little man who keeps climbing into my lap for a quick ninny (nursing snack).

Oh the horrors of it!

It gets even better than that! Not only is he still nursing at 14 months old, but he is still nursing for a majority of his nutrition. He doesn't eat solids very well (he likes boiled chicken, and pureed fruits/veggies mixed with yogurt). So I allow him free access to the breast, which he takes advantage of at least 6 times during the day and at least 3 times over night. He nurses 9-12 times per 24 hour period. While he nurses as often as a newborn at least he can finish the job in 5-6 minutes.

Extended breastfeeding is not as weird or difficult as I once thought. Nursing him is actually easier than making him eat foods. Yes, once again I have confirmed (at least to myself) that breastfeeding is another way I can get away with being a "lazy" parent without negative consequences for my kids. I mean with 4 kids, going to school full time and running a household you gotta find ways to cut corners, right? Right? Right!

Breastfeeding also has other great perks too! Like being an INSTANT mute button! LMAO at that one! There have been several times (like when we took the kids to see HOP) when Little man would be getting fussy and as soon as I whip out the boob and latch him on its instant quiet. Or the time when he decided that head-butting the coffee table would be a good idea (it wasn't), he screamed bloody murder until the boobie was offered and magically all was right in his world again.

Nothing beats the warmth of your "big boy" crawling into your lap and suddenly melting into your "baby boy" again.

So even though he often pinches, scratches, bites and the wild and crazy toddler nursing acrobatics, I can honestly say that I love nursing my toddler!
Without further ado, I am going to share some of my favorite nursing photos. You have been fair warned that some of these pics may GASP show a little skin!

NIP: Nursing in Public at the local Strawberry festival!

Sleepy nursing!

What? I like my ninny!

Sleepy nursing (this happens a lot)!

Nursing a toddler boy often means him bringing his beloved matchbox cars to the meal!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My poor neglected....


I have been so SWAMPED with student teaching that I have all but forgotten about this... :(

Things have been awesome! I will be back later this weekend for a rampage of posts updating on the miracles of extended breast feeding, cloth diapering a toddler (yes, he turned 1 and is now a toddler), and life in general with a walking, talking, clingy, mouthy, stubborn little BOY in a house full of girls!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cloth diapers!

So I officially have been bitten by the cloth diaper addiction bug!  I have almost 80 diapers and still want more! Most of mine are pretty plain, functional but lacking in fashion. I have the chance to win a FREE fashionable cloth diaper from Cow Patties Cloth diapers!  This would be a perfect chance for me to give her Famous Pocket Fitted diaper a try!

If you want to try and win enter on her blog here

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Going Au Naturel the list...

Ok so I have made lots of changes over the last few years, but there are still a lot of things I can do to be better to the earth, my family and myself. I have heard that if you put your goals out there you are more likely to stick with them. So here goes...

First let me list the changes:

1. We are now recycling paper products and alluminum soda cans.  This may not seem like a huge change but with 4 kids, 3 in school we produce HUGE amounts of paper waste DAILY... Teachers send home no less than 5 sheets of paper per kid.  That and soda is still my daily vice so instead of tossing the cans I send them home with my little sister and she crushes them and takes them to the recycling place and gets paid a little over 50 cents per pound.

2. We are now cloth diapering the 2 that still wear diapers. I have wanted to make this switch for a while now but because of start up costs it was not possible before this year. Little man is in them full time, and Cam wears cloth pull ups at night.

3. After 6 months of cloth diapering while still using disposable wipes, I finally said this is really dumb. I already wash poo and pee off the diapers every other day, why am I still picking disposable wipes out of the diaper to throw away when I could invest in cloth and toss EVERYTHING into the pail! I made the plunge and bought 3 dozen adorable wipes in assorted prints! BEST decision ever!

4. I made the switch to cloth feminie hygine products. I bought 3 sets of GEM cloth pads and they are wonderful.  I miss my tampons, but I am not too sure of the reusable tampon alternatives so I will stick with the pads for now. Again this may not seem like a big deal when it's just one person a month on the rag (hee hee literally), but I know that T.T. is not too far off from her monthly gift and then the other 2 girls will be right behind her. The plan is to invest is several more sets of cloth pads so that when the girls get thier gift they will start with cloth from the get go.

Ok, so now for the LIST (in no particular order):

1. Recycle plastics, cardboard, glass and the other metal items besides soda cans. For this to happen I will need to sign up for some sort of recycling pick up service. I am not even sure if that is avaliable in my community but I will look into it. If not it will take a little more effort on my part, but I guess I can make the sorting and bagging into a chore for the girls so, it may not be so bad afterall... :)

2. Ditch the disposable kitchen products. Right now I admit we use a lot of paper plates, plastic forks, paper towels, and napkins. It is shameful how much we throw away in the kitchen. In my defense I am the only person (adult) in this house who bothers to clean the kitchen (namely do the dishes) and between school, work and the kids, the disposable options have saved my sanity a few times. This one item is actually one of the highest on my list.  I have been researching unpaper towels, but I think I can just buy bar towels at Walmart for a lot less money and they will get the job done. I am trying to figure out how many we typically use per week so that I can buy enough to go 3 days. For napkins I already planned on just buying plain white washcloths.

3. Ditching convience foods. Like #2, these items have kept my kids fed on days when there were literally not enough hours in the day. Not only do they produce insane amount of waste, they are chock full of chemicals... I hate letting them eat junk... but allowing them to starve would have been criminal... My plan is to take this step one farther and to switch to organic where it is most beneficial and thereby justifying the extra cost. I also will be working on eliminating food dyes. I also want to batch cook healthy foods and freeze them for easy re-heating. Cooking from scratch with whole grains as much as possible. For this to happen successfully I need to replace my TINY chest freezer with a much larger upright freezer. I have even thought about what to freeze the foods in. I plan to use reuable plastic containers... I know some think plastic is the devil, but in my opinion it has got to be better than throwing away a ton of foil containers all the time.

4. Homemade bath soaps. I know it seems silly but we use an insane amount of soap in this house. The girls bathe themselves and can't seem to grasp the concept that "a little goes a long way" or that "less really is more".  I want to experiment with making homemade milk/coconut/olive oil soap scented with lavendar oil, colored with vegetable/flower dyes. I found a recipe and it seems doable... I just need the time... I'm thinking this summer will be perfect time...

5. Kitchen waste part 2.  This time I'm specifically talking about ziploc baggies, and cling wrap. I research reuable options and want to make the switch. My only hang up with this one is they are SUPER expensive to buy. I could sew my own if I had the time... ACK, stuck between being frugal and crunchy... I will get there, eventually.


I will be back later to fix the spelling grammar on this... little man is demanding my full attention RIGHT NOW!!!!

The wonderfulness of breastfeeding:

I cannot tell you how wonderful it is to look directly into the eyes of a nursing baby, to feel their body wrap around you, to witness the bonding that only occurs while nursing... you will have to experience it for yourself...

However, I can try to explain what happens when I nurse little man...

His eyes twinkle with anticipation. His face displays big grin. I listen to his half-giggle, half-desperate grunt and I chuckle because he was getting so excited and I hadn't done anything yet. I reached up releasing the clasp, exposing the breast. His eyes shoot wide with glee and he squeals with delight! As I draw him close, he begins to frantically root around. Just as he makes the latch, his gaze meets mine and his eyes seem to dreamily say, "Thanks mom that's just what I wanted". For a few minutes he gazes at me intently, learning my face I suppose, sometimes bending the corners of his mouth up ever so slightly revealing a partial smile. Another minute goes by and I feel the tingling sensation. I whisper quietly "here it comes". As the milk comes rushing in his eyes once again shoot open, this time they are saying "WOAH!" After a few gulps his eyes soften once again. He has found the rhythm: suck, pause, gulp, repeat. For the next 10 minutes I snuggle him close to me, my big boy of 8.5 months never has time to snuggle unless he is nursing. I breathe in his scent; his almost buttery aroma is intoxicating. I watch him, he looks at me with a dreamy look in his eyes, his free hand reaches up to touch my face, then twirl the piece of hair dangling above him. He closes his eyes as he drags his chubby fingers across the skin on my side. Occasionally he says, "mmm". His eyes still closed he grasps my shirt and his body relaxes, his weight melting onto my lap. His breathing slows as his suckles diminish. After a few more minutes, he unlatches his mouth remains parted as a dribble of milk runs down his cheek. Sleep my sweet baby your mommy is here and is thankful she can provide you not only nutrients but also comfort, safety, and love.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

He is finally taking milk off the tap!

.... and it only took 8.5 moths to reach this milestone!

Today little man drank 5 whole ounces of fresh pumped breast milk from a soft spout sippy cup!

Normally I wouldn't feel so pressured to ensure that my nursing infant start drinking from a cup this young but he refuses all bottles and I will be starting a 40+ hour a week student teaching gig in 5 short weeks.

I lubs my bubs!

On another note he is 8.5 months old and the only solid foods he consumes are the bites he snatches off my plate at dinner and the teething cookies he gets a couple times a week.  When he is offered jarred puree's he slaps the spoon right out of your hand.  I have had a little more luck with pureed avocado mixed with banana.  I guess I could feed him that everyday, but it causes god awful diapers that I do not want to face daily.