Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Have a Nice Day

I've been trying really hard to get to Updateville for days. Something always seems to get in the way. A lot of work stuff, the medical stuff, then Jen took the kids out of town for the weekend.

I anticipated an update amidst a major basement overhaul, but she returned early with Bennett because she was feeling ill.

And now tonight? Bennett is just losing it. Inconsolable. Ironic that recently his new medication, Risperidol, hit the max dose a few days ago. This was supposed to curtail the massive behavioral outbursts. The biting, the hitting, the throwing of the food and shit.

That still happens because HE CAN'T FUCKING TALK. But at least the drug has him nice and miserably constipated with a bleeding butt it is so bad. Hey, we finally have something in common. Yay.

So he FEELS terrific. And occasionally he is less irritable, though I just don't know if that's Drug or Kid.

How would I know? HE CAN'T FUCKING TALK.

Bad mood? Yup.

It'll pass. Always does. And I'm not dying. Just super bad intensely bad reflux. You can now add a seventh medication to my daily regimen.


Man this is a crappy post. I was supposed to be headed in the opposite direction. Should I hit 'Publish Now' or 'Save Now'? Decisions, Decisions...

Fuck it...


Thursday, May 26, 2011

It Ain't All Bad...

Lest ye think that it is.

Lately? Sure, it has had its ups and downs. And yeah, the blog tends to get focused a bit more on the downs. That's kind of natural.

The blog is almost like my electronic shrink. I purge a lot here. Aren't you lucky? So while there is inevitably SOME good in every single given day, sadly Blogzilly usually only gets to taste the turds that I often serve it.


I do SO owe it, and its readership, better than that, don'tcha think? I do. And I certainly owe it to myself. I owe it more things like catching Bennett falling asleep on the living room floor with his butt up in the air, a PRICELESS moment.

Is that not adorable as crap? OK...NOTE TO SELVES: Back to some more palatable subjects, less bitching.

You know it's funny, after I made that fog reference in the last post, I was sort of dwelling on that for awhile, wondering why I used it. I then come across a post by 'D' of Happy Being Trevy in a Yahoo Forum about Topamax. One of the big side effects of taking the drug being...fogginess.

D'OH!...is right.

NO WONDER I forgot my freaking appointment at Bennett's school on Monday since I forgot to write it down on the paper calendar. No wonder I had to pay extra for a rush delivery on a gift to my Mom for her birthday because I forgot to do it a week before despite the Post-It Note that was hanging in front of my face THE ENTIRE WEEK. No wonder I sometimes have trouble remembering shit lately when I never used to be so forgetful. Shit like...where's my hat? No WONDER I forgot I was taking DOPE-A-MAX.

I am going to have to just start carrying either a small notebook around in my pocket or a digital device of some kind, since I have no cell phone, to deal with this fog issue. Especially now that I know that I'm not just losing my mind, it's medication related. Maybe I'll just go off the stuff. Of course, by the time I'm done writing this blog, I'll probably have forgotten.

You ever see the movie Memento? It was directed by Christopher Nolan before he became the guy who made Batman cool in the movies again. Highly recommend it.

At least...I think I do.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

I get asked quite often a rather simple question.

'How ya doing?'

I never have a simple answer. Not if I want to answer honestly. I have to force myself to spit out a lie, something quick and painless. I generally choose the Hair Response.

'Fine', I reply. 'Just fine.'

Truthfully, some days are good. Some days are bad.

Most are just there.

Most days don't even take up any new space on my hard drive...since nothing new really happens. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. An endless cycle.

Irony not lost on someone who has no hair to wash.

Days become so much a mirror image of each other I wonder if they ever even happened at all.

Is it Monday? Thursday? Sunday? I can often forget what day it is living a life the way I have been lately. The only way I can describe how I feel sometimes is by likening it to walking through a forest that I am totally unfamiliar with. I hear voices, some familiar and some not, calling out to me, telling me to come here or to go there. So many to choose from, so little faith in myself to know which ones I should heed.

A thick, dense fog prevents me from seeing but a short distance ahead. All I have is a sense of fear of what awaits and an overwhelming perception of myself as too weak and too stupid to do the things that any man should be able to do for his family.

I stand there instead paralyzed, feeling isolated and alone, with little hope, minimal self-confidence and a sense of self-worth so shattered that it is barely able to be measured at all.

Sometimes rounding the next bend of the path through this thick jungle might...MIGHT...bring a renewed sense of purpose, but most of the time it brings some new, psyche crushing defeat. The thing is, the new defeat in and of itself is most likely minor...but it is being stacked on such a large block of accumulated knock-outs that it feels...monumental.

I try so hard to remember a quote I read recently that I found uniquely inspiring, a quote of Winston Churchill, I believe...'Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.'

But I'm so sick of failure. Sick to death of it. I've been buried in it for so long I feel the stink of it will never wash off of me. I seem to do nothing but disappoint myself and those closest to me. I need a win and I need it soon.

But how do you break out of a slump when you are so deeply buried by it?

I dunno.

Gotta try and figure it out. Because for so long for every step I take forward I take two steps backward and I am getting nowhere.

I guess by now you kind of figured out that today is one of the BAD days, huh? Yeah...it happens. It's also my Mom's birthday today. Happy Birthday Mom...hope you are having a good day. It's cool that the 'visit' lined up with your birthday...I hadn't connected those dots before. That's awesome.

Anyway...I'll be fine. I just need to solve several hundred problems and everything will get groovy. Just gotta figure out a way to figure out a way. That's gotta be easy enough to do, right? Right.

NOTE TO SELVES: Get out of the house more.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Want Your Day To Suck? Here Are 5 Ways To Get It Started

Yeah I'm in a foul mood. So sue me. You should smell my breath. It's even fouler. I had asked my wife a few days ago if she'd noticed and she'd said no. Then yesterday she said she did.


Just call me Godzilla. (Just make sure when you do that you are running down the street looking over your shoulder, willya?) Not only do I have some kind of alien parasite or something living in my throat, poofing out the size of my neck in all kinds of weird and unnatural ways, but I'm spewing my toxic breath all over the house.


Already it has not been a good morning and it isn't even nine thirty. I smell a very bad weekend coming on. Well, I smell a lot of things, as I mentioned before. You wanna have a shitty day too? Here's five things YOU can do to make damn sure that you can.

1. Spend a solid half an hour running back and forth from your computer to the kitchen sink gagging, trying to get something to come up out of the Gateway to Hell that has grown in your throat. Doesn't even matter what comes out. Either way, you're not having fun.

Just so you know...I saw the doc about the throat. He has no idea what is going on. Sending me to see (gasp)...a specialist. But that's not until next Thursday. And yes...I am scared that it is something serious. After all, I did smoke for 20 years. But there is nothing I can do in the meantime but try to manage my symptoms. Someone in the comments previously mentioned a drug but I cannot find it in a more serious form than, say, Mucinex, and I am not sure if that is what they meant. Since they were 'Anonymous' I can't contact them directly and ask.

2. Read an article about toxic chemicals in baby products possibly being linked to Autism in infants. Found the article on Facebook on the Autism Canada Foundation Page via a link from Harold Doherty's page. He writes the blog Facing Autism in New Brunswick.

3. Go to print out your shipping labels and invoices for stuff you need to go out today, only to realize that you are not only out of ink but you forgot to order any. Now you have to make a special trip to the store using your 4.00 a gallon gasoline in order to get new ink cartridges, which you realize are way overpriced to begin with. This whole 'needing money to buy things' really sucks.

4. Realize that you have to indefinitely postpone the continuation of your dental work that you started a couple of months prior, cause guess what Holmes? Your insurance company sucks dong and you don't have the cash. Because of some new 'procedure policy' your health insurance is now doing, whatever they are jamming down your throat next week has an out of pocket cost that you really don't have. And since you have to fix your house with money that you really don't have, you have to cancel the next dental thing which was to fix the tooth with money you really don't have that was sensitive to heat/cold because it has a cavity in it.

But guess what boys and girls? Since we already hit our dental max for the YEAR with that crown? I have to wait until next year to resume Operation: Toothy. Hopefully, I won't chew any of the other boys apart in the meantime.

5. Go to your PayPal account to create the shipping labels for the stuff you mentioned above. Sit there dumbfounded, mouth agape (if it were a cartoon done by a master like John K., of course there would be a little trail of green vapor coming out of it) as one of the payment's you received earlier in the week, a hefty one (I'm talking 'hundreds' here), is BEING HELD, and you already sent the goods.

What that means is that I don't have access to that money but the items this person bought from me I ALREADY SENT. Could be a bank problem or something, I don't know. But in cases like these, when it is an international buyer? I won't get it resolved for WEEKS. Will I recover the money? Probably. But not for a long time.

So there you have it. And like I said...my day has only just begun. I'm sure there is a lot more AWESOME stuff to look forward to. Hell, even while I was writing this I ran to the sink at least 6 times. SWEET!

I do have one other thing to say though.

FUCK Stephen Hawking.

I'll elaborate more on that when I have the time.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Hawking a Loogie

loo-gie [lōōg'i] - noun
1. a lump of sputum (as in phelgm or mucus) coughed (or, onomatopoeically, 'hawked') up from the lungs and spat out.

It's ironic that the expression is 'Hawk a loogie!', since that is what many people think Stephen Hawking did recently to many a face in the spiritual community when he gave his opinions about the lack of the existence of a Heaven or a Supreme Being in the Universe in an interview for The Guardian in the UK.

In case you have no idea who Stephen Hawking is...essentially he is the closest thing this planet has to Reed Richards.

Oh. Wait a second. You probably have no idea who Reed Richards is, well...most of you don't. Instead, let me put it this way. It would not be difficult to put together an argument that Professor Hawking is the smartest human being on this planet.

And he certainly has earned the right to speak out about Faith.

I say that only because in our world, and I am speaking to each and every one of us specifically, my Special Needs Brethren and Sistren, some of whom wield Faith as both sword and shield in our various battles against disability and the Hells that accompany it, just to make sure you understand that this man has fought some astonishing battles in our world against a crippling motor neuron disease.

I'm not writing this blog today to say tell you whether or not I agree or disagree with Professor Hawking. Who the Hell do I know if there is a Heaven or a God? I will say I love the man, I admire the man, he is on my Top 25 Human Beings of the 20th Century List, no doubt about it.

The reason I brought it up is because I am VERY curious to hear from the rest of YOU. I know many of you, some I am VERY close to, some I wish I was closer to, who are deeply spiritual, and some who are on the fence, and some who have jumped over the fence. But I am very curious to hear what you all think about the Prof's statements if you'd care to share yours.

So if you have some time, check out the interview and then come back and chit-chat a little bit about it. The subject of Faith, if you have read this blog for any length of time, then you know it is something that is very important to me. You know I am in the midst of probably my greatest Faith crisis. While I can't say that my Faith is gone for good, I can say that it is in the most fragile state it has ever been and it is so far away from me I am not sure I would even recognize it if I were to find it again. I am not even certain it is in a state where it can ever be restored to its former state of glory...and there was a time it was unflappable.

So I would love to hear your thoughts...but only if you have the time. I know we all have a ton to do.

Thanks! And of course...


Monday, May 16, 2011

I Might Officially Be Scared

You remember how I got blasted by...something...over the past couple of months?

At first, I thought it was Strep. Went in. Wasn't Strep. Came home. Seemed to clear up. Things got worse. Fever got whacked. Nearly 104 at one point, sustained over 103 for almost 24 hours, even ON heavy doses, nearly overdoses, of Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen.

Went back in to the doctor. Got swabbed. Positive Strep. Went out. Aunt E. Biotics. Started to clear. Something odd and a little horrific came out of my throat at one point. Something almost Fringe-ish. But I started to feel better and so I let it go.

Felt OK for a while.

Yesterday, started getting dizzy and light-headed whenever I would stand up. OK, what's that all about? Then I started feeling cold even though, again...if you know anything about me at all...I DON'T GET COLD.

But no fever. I checked. My ears and face were blood red though. They do that a lot. But since that has happened most of my life, I can't ever say that it is unusual. Neck...super sore. Back...SUPER in pain...though that could be from sitting in a torture seat at the Nationwide Arena watching what they call a circus these days on Sunday (more on that later).

Wake up this morning. Throat is swollen. I can see it in the mirror. That poofinees, that goddamn misshapen neck poofiness. Shine a flashlight in the back of my throat. A nice deep red. Some swelling. The punching bag thingie is trying to swing its way to one side, suggesting something odd is going on. Later in the morning I start to gag and something comes out. While not as horrific as before...it is something, again, that has SOLID form.

Not mucus-like...not liquidy...you know what it reminded me of? You know that little piece of, whatever you call it, that runs along the length of a chicken breast, that if you don't pull it out prior to cooking the meat and you accidentally bite into it while eating you instantly have to figure out how in a semi-dignified way (if possible) you are going to get this shit out of your mouth before you blow chunks all over the place?

It reminded me of about 1/3 of the length of that piece.

What, in the name of Hell, is going on with my throat? Could this be the beginning of something that I am not going to want to know about? Or is it something simple with a fairly easy fix?

See, that's why I'm scared...because I just don't have faith in the simple with a fairly easy fix likelihood's anymore. I'm much more in the mindset of having to prepare myself for the SHIT HITTING THE FAN SCENARIO.

I thought about finding a photo for the end of that last paragraph, but figured...nah...the subject matter of this whole entry is icky enough...why aggravate it all with even more disgusting visuals?

Anyway...looks like I'm headed back to the doc. Again.



Friday, May 13, 2011

What a Long (Steve) Trip It's Been...and an iPad?

Well, not THAT long, and not THAT Steve (though a nice big chunk of it included the big lug), when you get right down to it. But I needed a title to sort of get the ball rolling, and that was the best I could come up with on short notice.

It started Monday with a plane ride to Baltimore, Maryland.

I always love going back there, to the place that I like to call 'home'. I got chills as I saw the Chesapeake Bay come into view outside the airplane window, and wished there was more time to actually do a little bit more in the way of visiting folks and places.

There wasn't.

This was a very quick in and out. I was there to visit with an old friend (not sure if he WANTS me discussing his bidness on here right now so I am leaving his part of the story respectfully anonymous) and the return part of the trip involved the transport of some boxes (LEGIT stuff...please, people...) from Maryland to Ohio. The aforementioned Steve was already there to help with the move and accompany me for the ground journey via truck back to the sleepy town of Sunbury, Ohio.

Everything went as smooth as silken sheets. Couldn't have asked for better weather, better traffic. Well, you could have asked for better prices at the gas pump, but that's about it. Everything else was groovy to the max. It was one of the most problem-free 24-hour periods I can recall experiencing in a long, long time. This coming from a guy who is just used to things always finding a way of jamming themselves up.

Not this time. Can't complain about a THING.

By the time I got back, I did notice that we had received the 'official' denial, in writing, from the insurance company on our claims for the house stuff.

I’m not entirely sure what our next step is after today, it's kind of wait and see when it comes to Steve's schedule and what-not, but he did work some of his voodoo magic and assessed the area around the door and the roof to see if he could determine what was causing this water to leak into the house.

He thinks he has it figured out. After all, he is the God of Thunder.

Part of the problem being that Maronda sank the shingles and even some of the wood of the trim INTO the brick, and there is no kind of guard of any kind to prevent water from going straight in when there is a heavy rain. And he thinks the problem has been building over a longer period because of some really shoddy workmanship.

He poked a screwdriver into the mortar section near one of those shingle-into-brick (or you could look at it as the brick-layer laid the brick over the top of the actual roof work). Anyway, Steve puts a screwdriver into one of these mortar openings in the brick, a long screwdriver. It sinks in around 8 inches, probably into the actual drywall area of the house itself.

Steve said over time, even without necessarily heavy rains, water could have snaked its way down and then could have led to this type of damage. Then a few heavy storms would have just popped the damage out to what we saw this year because by then the water would have had a tendency to have a flow area that it would tend to follow on a regular basis on the inside of the wall.

In theory.

He'd have to tear apart the wall to know with absolute certainty.

He'll probably get his wish at some point.

The first step for right now, since we can’t afford to proceed out of pocket on ANYTHING yet, is to see if we can’t prove Steve's theory correct and also stop the water from coming in, which is what Steve tried to do by building some guards and sealing these holes in the brick and in the mortar in those areas.

That’s a very small Step 1, though probably the most critical one of course, while we wait and see what happens next time it rains to see where moisture returns. Steve painted, in white, under the floor in the basement, to better see what shows up as far as recurrence of moisture damage or recurrence, since that will all be torn up anyway.

Bottom line? This is a test to see if this is where the water is coming in, when it rains, causing that wood to buckle and decay around the door and on the floor. And obviously if we see any evidence at all we’ll have to open up the wall and assess it either during an actual rain event or I guess maybe we'll have to manufacture one.

State Farm said a flat out 'No Way in Hell' on the roof part of this whole situation too, did I mention that? They say they can’t see any storm or wind damage. So whatever moisture collection the contractor saw in his original assessment will simply have to be addressed at another time.

There have been no outright leaks of water coming from the roof, and Steve inspected the attic even though it was 3000 degrees up there, but there also was no ice guard installed, but I also have come to find out that this may or may not have been 'code' at the time of the construction of the house.

Regardless of what was code though, Steve was quick to point out that the roofer was a complete tool. Whoever did the job did it bass ackwards. Steve said that the Maronda roofer installed the shingles incorrectly in addition to the lack of stuff they did not put in like the ice guard and other protective barriers.

He showed me by example at The Home Depot using some shingles what you are supposed to do according to that style of shingle as far as how you are supposed to lay the first row on and instead the roofer just drooped the shingles into the gutter. Steve's theory is that they were compensating for no ice guard.

Steve went around and looked at some other parts of the house while he was here and it was very funny. Watching him cursing up a storm over all the shoddy workmanship and questioning some of the decisions of the builders on many of the areas. I didn't understand half the things he said, just stood there in awe.

Like when we were in The Home Depot. He actually knew where stuff was. He knew what stuff was CALLED. How fuggin' AWESOME is that?

Except for Velcro Tape. But he doesn't need that kind of thing. Only wussies like me need that. And I needed a third roll cause I lost my second roll of it. Yeah, I lost the second roll to replace the first one I lost and CRIED ABOUT. I'd link back to that post but...um...I can't find it...yeah.

I told Steve that after this trip of his I am just going to change my last name to Vagina.

We have to see if we can appeal this claim on the door, which is PROBABLY looking like a no-go but we’ll see, but on the roof I would say the likelihood of the insurance company covering it is zippo. I also have to try to see what possible leverage I might have legally, but that will take an enormous amount of time and effort and energy (which most of here in Lillyville have very little of...or is that Vaginaville now?). I also give the percentage chance of us getting anything on that at about 2%. Less than the Milk, as my buddy Mark would say.

Well, anyway...that's where we are. Another long-winded blog. And I'm not even close to done.

Twixt last time and now, looks like my family went and won themselves an iPad from the Marissa's Bunny Foundation. This is the Foundation created by Mike, the gifted and driven father of the sweet young Marissa, who has for a very long time been ravaged by Infantile Spasms.

You can always read more about the Foundation and everything else about Marissa by jumping right to the home page of Marissa's Bunny, but in a nutshell the Foundation was built by Mike and the company Mike works for and by all of you, by a combination of reader donations and donation matches from the company...raising funds for surgical costs for both Marissa and other kids and even iPads for families with Special Needs. I think Mike intends to and probably will push it even farther, but I don't want to speak FOR the man, as I do not know him personally, but I can say that you can't go to his site and read about all of the things going on and NOT be impressed by his drive, his passion and his tenacity.

I don't know that I could go through what he has been/is going through and be the man he is. I just don't know that I have that level of strength.

So I wanted to first of all say Thank You to the Foundation for awarding us the iPad. I am really humbled by the gesture. It's...almost unreal. The official post about the iPad winners can be found here.

Also, you should be aware there is currently an all-new Raffle for an iPad 2 going on at Marissa's Bunny and tickets are only $2.00 to enter. And this one is different. ANYONE can enter this raffle, you do not have to have any kind of Special Needs situation in order to enter this particular contest.

However, every $1000.00 this Raffle successfully generates (and it is close to it's first $1000.00 now so get over there and put in some entries) will get the Foundation 5 iPads donated to it in order for the Foundation to do a second round of the Special Needs iPad giveaway, similar to the giveaway I was just giving thanks about above.

Every little bit helps, and times are tough for everybody. But two bucks? Heck that's less than the cost of a Big Mac and who needs THAT over a chance to win a freakin' iPad!?!

OK...NOW I'm done.


Much gratitude again to you, Mike and Marissa's Bunny...and I mean that. We haven't been feeling much like winners around here lately.

Thanks for the reminder.


Sunday, May 08, 2011

Happy Mother's Day, Mom

Feeling a little strange about this one.

I guess it's the whole 'situation' thing, the knowledge of what my Mom now faces, the challenges she must now be prepared for in her life. While it is not something that is IN YOUR FACE at the moment, it is never something that drifts very far from the fringes of my conscious thought.

That kind of thing affects your perception of things, especially things like Mother's Day. You tend to think more about the past, more about the future, less about the moment you are in. You find yourself in a very strange place mentally, one that, honestly, I can't really describe and do it any kind of real justice.

Maybe someday.

Anyway, Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I hope to find myself wishing you this for many more years to come. I hope that whatever you are doing today is peaceful, fun and full of happiness.



Friday, May 06, 2011

When it Rains...

And you thought I was gonna start this off with '...it Pours!' or something, didn't you? C'mon, admit it. It's OK. I almost did. But then I decided to wave off the catcher and go with the change-up.

Because around here, when it rains, IT FREAKING LEAKS.

And that's a problem. A big one. And one that we have to try to figure out how to solve without spending a fortune doing it.

Because like most situations in the past couple of years, we've had to bend over and take it up the poop chute on this one so a lot of the 'getting this solved' is up to us.

Some backstory.

Sometime this winter, I notice some water next to the front door. I wondered where in the world it was possibly coming from. Checked everywhere for the leak, could not find any evidence anywhere, and I scoured. I wiped everything up, and figured 'OK, since we live in one of these McMansion style dwellings with the Uber-Wasteful Super-Foyers with the Giant Window Wall and Open Greeting Area, which I will now call UWSFGWWOGA for short, maybe the door frame has a leak of some kind.'

So my Mom comes out with my StepDad (again...clarification, this is not the abusive StepDad from my youth who eventually introduced himself to a .357 Magnum...this is the super-cool, ultra-amazing high-school sweetheart who happens to also be named Ken that my Mom married after that asshole) and we caulked the framing and everything else.

We never saw water there again.

Later on, as Spring approaches, I see some buckling in the floor near the door. I step on it, and the floor starts to GIVE. HOLY FREAKING SHIT. I start pushing more, it's almost spongy. Oh no. I decide to cut a slice into the floor and pull up some of the cheap linoleum, and sure enough, there is rotten sub-flooring from water damage that is tearing the floor apart.

I get the number of a contractor and set up a meet. He comes out. After several visits, one with a thermal imaging gun, he determines that not only do we have a big problem with water leaking in around the door frame and into the floor around the front door, but also the roof. The roof is missing several key components that the builder did not install when they built the home.

Total estimated amount to fix all the problems? Between $25,000 - $30,000.

I'll pause while you all clean up your keyboards.

OK, so I call up the insurance company and start the process of filing a claim. We break it into two parts. Roof overall and UWSFGWWOGA. This entire process was STARTED in February. Today, finally, the claims adjuster came to finalize the review of the roof section so that we could get answers to both parts of the problems.

Both claims have been denied.

The roof one I actually KIND OF understand. The roof was built according to local code in 2005-2006. The didn't HAVE to put in those elements I mentioned, so the builder didn't. I just wish someone, ANYONE, would have fucking TOLD us this when we were buying the home. How the fuck am I supposed to know this? I'm just saying, you would THINK that it would have at LEAST been presented to me, as a home buyer, as an UPGRADE or something? I mean C'MON...I'm BUYING A NEW GODDAMN HOME I EXPECT IT TO BE IN PERFECT CONDITION.

I should tell you about my first day in this 'new' home and how the house nearly killed me, but that's another story.

Anyway, I can really ALMOST understand the denial on the roof. I really can.

But the denial on the UWSFGWWOGA? I really think it is unfair. The insurance company considers it not covered because it happened over a period of time. They consider it, therefore, a 'maintenance' issue. OK, but how can it be a maintenance issue if I couldn't even see it happening?

But the insurance companies want an 'event', a 'cataclysm' I guess, something to tie everything together in a nice, neat bow. This does not have that. To them, this was an ongoing issue that is not covered according to the language of their policy.

In other words?


So...why is this leak even occurring? I have no idea, but I would not be surprised if it was bad design or poor workmanship. This is a VERY common problem with Maronda Homes, which apparently has some quality issues across the board. I know what you're thinking. 'Um...hey Lilly...if you know that Maronda Homes has quality issues, why did you buy a home from them?'

Because I'm stupid.

I bought the house while I was living in Maryland, I did not do enough research at the time, I bought the house too quickly, and in a rush, and I should have pushed my wife much harder than I did to move into a rental property in Ohio first when we decided to move from Maryland to Ohio and take our TIME searching before we bought a home.

Hindsight? 20/20. I've used the image before but I do love it so.

But holy shit I should have been smarter with that one. The housing market turned to SHIT a year or so later, and our house plummeted in value. Just THINK of what we could have gotten into for a LOT less money had we actually rented and waited and taken our time?

Instead we ended up in a Maronda Home. And now, we are paying for our error in judgment.

I hate being trapped here. I hate it with a red hot passion.

It affects everything. Especially my career. Not being able to sell this house has put such a chokehold on my ability to get back heavily into my career, and soon I fear I will probably be unable to get back into it at all. Unless something drastic changes in the housing market and we can get out of here.

I would give anything to win the lottery so I could walk away from this fucking house. I want something older and smaller. Not to mention safer for Bennett. How the hell I am going to figure out how to keep him from falling off the open spaces on the 2nd floor that are above the UWSFGWWOGA?


And get this...the Homeowner's Association here? You can't have a wooden fence. ONLY wrought iron. How cheesy is that? Not to mention how unsafe is that for my disabled son? How in the world can I have him run around outside in the back yard and feel secure unless I shadow him like a Secret Service Agent?

I dunno...iron fences just don't seem that 'safe' to me anyway. Not to mention the fact that I hate the fact that there is no privacy to them, the potential danger issues are pretty significant as well. Who comes up with this crazy shit at these meetings?

But I wasn't expecting to have a disabled child when the home was purchased either.

Incidentally...you might be asking yourself...'Hey Lilly...why not go after Maronda for the money to for these repairs?' Not a bad idea. Not a bad idea at all. We might. I may at least investigate the idea.

But you gotta remember the following:

1. I can't WAIT for that to happen. The damage is occurring even as I type this. The damage must be fixed. NOW. This type of thing will just keep getting worse. And I am very concerned of late about the air quality inside my home. Moisture, possibility of mold, excessive dust, lots of things that I need to address better and I can't ignore this problem.
2. It could take years and I could lose and I am not sure I can afford it.
3. Maronda Homes filed for Chapter 11 on April 20th of this year because guess what? A LOT of people have sued them and they are in deep shit...might be hard to get a dime from them.

I'd much rather the insurance company step up to the plate and meet me in the middle. I even told the adjuster...look, the estimate included a lot of things like paint, flooring and all that. I don't NEED to have all that stuff included in the contract work. What I need help on is the stuff I CAN'T do. Can't you guys help in some way, meet me in the middle somewhere?

Can I have the contractor revise the estimate to just cover finding and fixing the leak, repairs on the outside, replacing the door frame, the sub floor and stuff like that and all the other stuff, anything cosmetic, I will do myself?


Thanks for nothing. Insurance companies really are evil, evil, evil things. This woman, this adjuster? Nice as could be. Really liked her. It isn't her fault. I was not angry with her, I was not mean to her, I took nothing out on her. It's the company itself.

It's like my Mom's situation I mentioned a few weeks back. Her house is BROKEN into, shit is stolen, she files a claim and her rates go up. HOW IN THE HELL IS THAT JUST? Do your auto insurance rates go up if someone hits YOU with THEIR car and the accident is THEIR fault? A few weeks later, a survey, a questionnaire of some kind was sent to her, and she filled it out online, and she expressed her extreme dissatisfaction over the situation.

Someone called her within about five minutes of her filling it out.


I told her that she should have said this to the woman calling her, and she wished she had, but we both admitted that sometimes you just don't say the things you want to when you are 'in the moment':

'Look Miss...I appreciate you taking the time to call me, but this call is a meaningless attempt to placate my feelings, a half-assed gesture to talk me out of any possible effort I might make in switching insurance companies. The bottom line is that you are calling me to offer me nothing. Now, if you are calling me to tell me that the president of the company is on the line to apologize to me and let me know that my rates are going back to the way they were, then I'm all ears, otherwise there's nothing you have to say that will make me re-evaluate the way I feel about how badly the way your company has treated my loyalty to you. Period.'

Anyway, that's what's going on with our house. Fun, huh.

Now...there is one possible Hope here. One thing that might actually save our asses from having to have the house foreclosed on and lose our retirement and file for bankruptcy ourselves.

That Hope has a name, and its name is Steve.

Steve is a good friend of mine I met WAY back in the days of working at Palisades Toys. He started volunteering for us at conventions, but that soon changed from volunteering to actually being paid to work the shows. The guy has tools I have only ever heard of or seen pictures of, and he knows how to use them. He's been doing construction and contracting for years, and he knows his 'S'. That's 'shit' for those of you who don't understand. Yet it also could be Superman. Or Star Wars.

He knows a lot of other stuff too, like comics, toys, movies, inking, etc. but I'm not telling you the life story of Steve. Suffice it to say that he's a good friend and as luck would have it, he will be here next Tuesday. I'm transporting some stuff for another friend from Maryland to here and Steve is helping us do it.

Steve is going to assess the situation and see if maybe we can do the work ourselves, he and I. Well, he'll be doing most of it, I'll be handing him stuff most likely. I'm a pussy, remember? But if that can happen, it might be just what we need to keep us out of bankruptcy court.

And that's NEVER a bad thing.

I've been there once before in my life. It sucks the big one.

I do NOT want to go back.

Damn...my fingers hurt. Yeah, I may only be good for 12 posts a month...but at least they are some HEARTY posts. Probably too long. I'll bet none of you even made it this far.


Tuesday, May 03, 2011

There is Another...

My gut instinct is to start this blog with a very long rant about the huge contrast in how our daily life is right now. About how our family seems to be walking on the edge of a knife. About how difficult things really are. It's not surprising at all that this sickness with me is still lingering on, taking such a long time to heal.

The stress and the pressure that I feel are decimating my immune system.

But it can wait. I don't have the energy and frankly I don't know that I even have the words to explain all the various aspects of all the various things that are going wrong.

And truthfully? I don't even know that it is a single blog entry.

And besides, I do have another son that I have been promising devoting some blog time to, and I want to honor that promise. It's bad enough that he has to walk around the house literally in fear of being physically attacked by his younger brother, he also gets pushed aside in how much attention he receives because he is 'Typical'.

Like so many of the 'Typical Kids' in our families that are living alongside those that are disabled, he just, for whatever reason on any given day, gets the shaft. Less in the way of time, less in the way of our attention, less in the way of my focus here, and on and on and on.

It is so unfair to him. And I hate it.

But I am super proud of him, he does the best that he can under some of the worst circumstances. He had a great Easter, scored a ton of Eggs in the hunt, I've never seen a kid move so fast. He was inspired. He also yanked out another one of his teeth over the weekend.

But the biggest news with Carter lately is this...he is sleeping in his own room now.


All by himself.

Now that might not be a big deal to some of you, but to us? HUGE.

He is almost 7, he will be in July, and the boy HAS NEVER done this. He started his life in a crib next to the bed in the Master Bedroom, back when it was a bed that I slept in with Jen. A habit started, when he would cry, when Jen would pull him into the bed to quiet him, and soon that was where he was most comfortable, and soon that was where he slept full-time. As he got bigger, I eventually had to go.

Once Bennett was born the exact same situation occurred with different players, but Carter was too freaked to move into his own room so his bed just got moved into Mommy's room, and he slept in there ever since.

Of course, he also used to sleep quite well on my back, but he doesn't do that much anymore. Sniff...I remember once I posted this picture on my old blog on 'Creatus Maximus' and said I would miss this when it went away, and sure as shit I was right.

Anyway...it wasn't just getting him into his own room that we needed to accomplish here. There was another big hurdle. See, up to now, Jen had to, every night, wait upstairs with him, until he fell asleep...or he just could not handle it. Which was really putting a dent in her life let me tell you. We had to put a stop to that. Just HAD to. Jen needed it...BADLY. Like I said...stress levels have been super, super high.

So I stepped up and if you don't mind a little self-directed 'ATTABOY!' I delivered a goddamn touchdown play. Jen had to Quarterback it, but I developed it and designed it. I put together a 4-step plan, using what I'd sort of manipulated into being Carter's current 'currency', Star Wars Galactic Heroes.

I knew the kinds of things he really wanted from the product line and made sure he 'stumbled into' seeing some things from the line I knew he would be really into.

I then put together a calendar, some visuals, super simple stuff, and just tacked everything onto a wall, essentially just showing him how he could earn some of the larger scale GH stuff since he was earning the smaller figures for good behavior in school. Each morning after a successful night, he would get to put up another one of the squares I'd cut out, and when all those squares that he needed were up, he'd get that prize.

First two prizes were with him staying upstairs by himself in his bed which was still in the Master Bedroom after being properly tucked in, second two were after moving the bed into his bedroom. Nightlights and such were provided and certain ground rules established (expectations of excuses of 'I need a glass of water' and 'I need to go pee' were factored in, of course).

First few nights there was SOME of that, but not much. Overall? The boy has done fantastic. Better than we ever expected. I'm super proud of him.

He'll be done with Kindergarten soon, and then home for the summer. I'm looking forward to it. There was a time that I would have not felt that way, but I am actually REALLY looking forward to it now. Being able to spend each day with him around, just the two of us, will be great. I'm going to have him help me with my work some of the time, plan some activities for us, and try to schedule some of his time, but also allow him to kick back and have some fun. Maybe have a lightsaber fight or two.

But mostly? I just want to spend time with him, TALK to him, share stuff with him and maybe together I can help him to understand why Bennett is the way he is and that we are doing everything we can to try and stop Bennett from doing some of the things he does.

I'll close with some more images from this past Easter weekend that Carter's grandmother and grandfather on his Mom's side took. Awesome pics.


A Beautiful Blank Page

Christmas is over. That sound you hear is my sigh of relief. The tree is not actually down, as the opening image suggests. That was a tem...