“Sweet springtime is my time is your time is our time for springtime is love time and viva sweet love.”

~ ee cummings

Life has been tough lately. OK, so that makes me sound melodramatic and incredibly ungrateful for the fact that I have a job and a healthy family. I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but things really have been tough.

No news on the job front for Patrick. We did get an extension on our unemployment benefits, so now instead of having them run out in mid-March, we have until early June. I think we might be eligible for another extension, but we’re hoping Patrick is employed by then.

I continue to be amazed at how extensive the effects of unemployment can be on a family. I am overwhelmed with being the only one bringing home a paycheck. Don’t we all have those days when wejust want to tell our boss we quit? We don’t really do it, but the fact that we could is enough to sustain us for another few weeks. I am swamped at work – too many deadlines and not enough time or energy. The fact that I can’t just up and quit my job (even though I wouldn’t really do that) is suffocating. There is such an enormous amount of pressure on me to stay employed (let’s not even discuss the Illinois budget and the fact that I work for a non-profit that is expecting to see major cuts).

But that’s not the only effect. There’s this constant biting of my tongue that I must engage in so I don’t say something angry or spiteful toward Patrick. I don’t blame him for his situation (although I do go over and over in my head all the ways he could have circumvented this situation), but there are times when I want to say something to him. Something like, “Since you don’t have a job, would it hurt you to run the vacuum/wash some pots and pans/fold the laundry/fix the window in Griffin’s room/etc.?” It’s such a delicate balance of being supportive and not going over the deep end myself because I take on all the responsibility.

I know that being unemployed is having an effect on Patrick. I can see it in his face and in the way he sits and in his voice. I feel for him. I know he feels a sense of responsibility to our family and he’s doing everything in his power to help. It’s hard to watch and it’s even harder to walk on eggshells each and every day.

We have gotten to the point where we are accepting help from places we never imagined. We’re still waiting to hear if Griffin will be covered through the state of Iowa for his health insurance. There was a lot of paperwork that needed to be completed/submitted and I think we might finally know something by next week. For now, we can’t afford his medication, but because I work for a social service agency, I’ve been pointed in the right direction to a couple of places that might be able to help us out with the cost of his epi-pen. We tried to apply for assistance from WIC so we can pay for some groceries for Griffin (milk, bread, juice, peanut butter, etc.), but we make just a bit too much to qualify.

I told Patrick the other day that he and I have both been in denial about our situation. We have been living on one paycheck and unemployment for almost one year. We have drained our savings. We have borrowed from both of our families. We cannot pay for our mortgage, credit card debt (even just the monthly minimums), utilities, groceries, and day care. We owe more than we make each month, but somehow we’ve “gotten by.” Some people get paid, some don’t. But it has caught up with us.

I always felt like we weren’t as bad off as some other people. But I don’t think that’s the case anymore. We are the people who don’t make enough to get by each month, but make just a few too many dollars to get help. I finally told Patrick that we need to get help wherever we can and in whatever form – food pantry for some of the basics, local agencies for Griffin’s medication and help with our utility bill (so that doesn’t get shut-off), the home retention program through our mortgage company (we’re already in a trial period), etc. Whenever I think about this I feel as though I’m taking help away from someone else. Maybe things aren’t as bad as I think. Then I look at my checkbook and the stack of unpaid bills. I see that the mortgage company has sent yet another letter threatening to take our home. I receive another phone call from a debt collector. Add all of those up and we deserve the help as much as the next person.

I don’t think Patrick wants to think we’re at this point. I believe he still thinks we’re going to be OK the way things are. We’re not. He keeps saying that once he gets a job “everything is going to be OK.” Eventually, yes, but not right away. We’re going to have to work our way out of this pit.

So for now, I am the one who calls for help. I will be the one to go to the local church and get some free food. I will be the one to wait and see if we qualify for Medicaid for Griffin. I will be the one who apologizes every time a bill is late. I will be the one who begs for a little bit more time to find money to pay our mortgage. Just another burden added on my shoulders.

I’m still writing my novel. I just wanted to  say that – I haven’t mentioned it in a while. With everything going on lately (see the last few posts), it has fallen on my list of priorities, which pretty much sucks when you realize that it’s one of the few things that I have for myself (because as much as I love to cook, when it becomes a have to instead of a want to, all the fun is sucked right out of it).

My problem is that I get the urge to write at the worst possible times – like when I’m rocking Griffin, or while sitting in my 3-hour management meetings, or when it’s 11:30 PM and I have to be up at 5 AM and I know I need to sleep. Ack! It’s frustrating.

I need a new deadline to keep me motivated. I miss NaNo and all the excitement and pressure of trying to write almost 2,000 per day. I thought about trying to trick myself into writing like that again, but I’m way too smart to fall for it. Oh well, I guess I’ll just keep plugging away at it little by little…

Our day care provider sent me this picture of Griffin. She took it today at Rocket Park:

I love this picture. I love that I can see the back of his neck – the soft neck that I kiss every chance I get. I love the swirl of blond hair on the back of his head.  I love that I can see him giggling. I love that he is in mid-run, heading for the slides or swings. I love that he does everything – including playing – with so much passion and gusto. I love that Spring is just around the corner, and then Summer, which means that this is only the first of many visits to the park. Most of all, though, I love him. I love everything that makes him Griffin – his sweet little face, the way he says “puppy,” how he dances when he hears music, the inflection in his voice as he tries to ask me “Where’d it go?,” the way he giggles when someone hands him a chocolate chip cookie. Little Baby Griffin is growing up, but will always be my baby.

I’m back again after another long blogging hiatus. Things have been hectic. Griffin got really sick again, this time with a case of double pneumonia. Poor baby missed an entire week of day care. Normally, Patrick and I would check our schedules and see who could stay home what day and then we’d just take turns taking a day off from work. Here’s the thing…something I have been avoiding writing about because, well, it’s embarrassing. We couldn’t take turns this time because only one of us is employed right now. That person is me.

I’m not even going to go on and on about why this is the case. Let’s just say the economy is to blame. Patrick has been collecting unemployment since July 2009. And before anyone jumps to any conclusions, Patrick has not been searching for a job that whole time. The unemployment benefits were supposed to be a temporary solution while his company got back on their feet. He made the decision a couple of months ago to actively search for a job, which he has been doing all day and all night since December. Also, I don’t want to hear about how he should have thought more about his family when he started on unemployment and looked for a job back then, because I’ve had the discussion with him numerous times. He was being loyal and didn’t want to leave them in a bind. Patrick’s a good guy, but look where that got him.

And to top it all off, we lost our health insurance at the end of February. I signed Patrick and myself up on my work plan, which means we’re down another $265 per month. If I signed up the whole family, I would have paid $530 per month – we just couldn’t afford that. So, I signed the boys up for HAWK-I services that are offered through the State of Iowa for uninsured children whose family meets specific income limits. Say what you want about Iowa, but they know how to take care of their children. The most we would pay for their health insurance would be $40 per month.

Patrick’s had some interviews and there is a really good job that’s basically waiting for him, but the position won’t open until summer. He’s going back to bartending, which I dread, but we don’t have many options at this point. His unemployment runs out in three months. Three months. That’s it. We are way behind in our mortgage (I get to field those calls just about every day). We can’t afford to pay it now with my salary and his unemployment checks. But in three months, we’ll only have my salary…and I work for a non-profit. You do the math.

Just as I vowed to post more often (like I used to do), everything came crashing in on me. Griffin got over his bout of bronchitis and finally got all the steroids out of his system only to get sick again last week. Another case of bronchitis, but this time it wasn’t responding to his antibiotics. When I picked him up out of his crib on MOnday morning, he was hot to the touch. I felt the heat from his skin burn through his pajamas and even through my pants. His temp was 103 and he was miserable.

After a trip to the ER and another chest x-ray, the doctor came in and told me it was double pneumonia. We had to pick up a really strong antibiotic, rotate Tylenol and Motrin every three hours for the next 48 hours, and give him lots of liquids (he stopped eating and lost over a whole pound).

I’ve been swamped at work and have some major deadlines hanging over my head. Patrick agreed to watch Griffin for the rest of the week so I could go to work, but early on Tuesday morning, Patrick complained of a sore throat. Let me preface this part of the story by telling you that Patrick never complains about feeling sick and he rarely goes to the doctor. When he called me around 12 PM and said he was going to the doctor, I just about fell off my chair. The doctor diagnosed him with influenza and started him on Tamiflu. Patrick had a temperature of 102 for the next couple of days and I wasn’t able to go to work. I couldn’t leave Patrick, who couldn’t get out of bed, to take care of Griffin, who had pneumonia.

By Wednesday night I was sick again (I had a cold last week). I developed a horrible sore throat, cough, and headache. I ended up with a sinus infection, a bronchial infection, and a flare-up of my asthma. So now I’m using the nebulizer, have antibiotics, and am on Prednisone.

Long story short, I missed a shit-load of work and I spent my weekend writing grants. Thankfully, my parents are wonderful and came to visit this weekend to help us get back on our feet. They bought us some groceries and helped sanitize our house.

Summer can’t get here soon enough…

I haven’t posted in a while, and I feel really bad about that. It’s not that so many people read this and are dying to know what’s going on in my life that makes me feel so bad about slacking off. It’s more that I have had so many different things I want to write about, but haven’t had the time or haven’t made the time. All of a sudden two weeks have gone by and I haven’t written anything.

First things first, my grandpa is doing OK after that fall. Apparently he hit his head on a table. He didn’t need any stitches, but did have to have a tetanus shot. He ended up falling again just two days later. These incidents made me think about a post I want to write about him – I just need to make the time to sit down and do it.

I celebrated my 37th birthday a couple of weeks ago. My family came up to celebrate and on my actual birthday, we went to dinner at one of my favorite restaurants (Los Agaves). Griffin ate his first churro and somewhere Patrick has a picture of me wearing a giant sombrero that the waiter put on my head when everyone sang to me. I’m sure it will come in handy if he ever wants to blackmail me someday.

Griffin was sick again last week. Another bout of bronchitis, plus two ear infections. The steroids made him a complete maniac. No naps. Lots of aggression. Definitely a rough week for all of us. I did try to find the humor in the situation byfilming him in one of his steroid-induced frenzies. Enjoy (and know that I’m going to do my best to post more often):