It Has Hit My Family Now

It hasn’t hit my immediate household yet, but my nurse daughter tested positive for covid. She is just feeling like she has a head cold with pleurisy right now. She knows how to fight this battle! My heart just sinks when I think about her being sick.

She was so worried about missing these last few days of her nursing classes. Well, now her whole class will be in quarantine. It is a really bad time to have to quarantine. The frustrating thing is, everyone knows there is a pandemic. Our state of Tennessee, is now one of the worst states to be in.

Our public schools have been prepared to pivot to remote learning with just over twelve hours notice. We are, in fact, going to be remote tomorrow, for the half day of school before winter break. This is a day that would have been spent having parties and sharing some fun times. I just can’t see the kids logging onto virtual class tomorrow. I don’t know that any logic is going into much of the planning for the “what if’s”. I know they often seem like a waste of time, but they help in the long run. They help us prepare for the worst, and establish a logical pattern of thinking to draw on in a moment of crisis.

I will be moving through the next week, hoping that my daughter beats Covid-19 with only mild symptoms.

~AoA

Relief for the Holidays

Today, a huge holiday weight was lifted from my shoulders. We had court scheduled for December 30th. The dad filed a motion against me back in 2018, because the kids were not both ready for visits. Within a few months of his filing, both kids started visits. Then, two months later….BAM! Covid hit! The visit center closed, so it was time to use the back up center from our agreement. The dad never initiated visits from that point on.

Today, court was canceled (for now)! The dad did not pay his attorney the retainer fee for a trial. The attorney is planning on filing to relieve himself from the case. There was not enough proof for them to go forward, and the dad had not exercised visits for six months! The dad is now claiming that he has anxiety which prevents him from being able to drive to the visit center! You know what gave me anxiety? Driving down a two lane country road in complete darkness for an hour to get the kids to visits at the last center!

The case may still go to court, but not anytime soon. We are in a holding pattern. The kids and I will keep doing what we are doing, and moving forward. I do have a sadness that the kids have had to live in fear for so long, being the subject of frivolous litigation for years. Once again, the dad’s efforts to hurt me has backfired on him.

In the world of public schools, we all thought that we would go to remote school tomorrow, as the covid cases were just 13 under the threshold. Well, the cases went up by well over a hundred today, but more cases came off the count. We did not have to go remote! A lot of teachers were wallowing in negativity, as they had to spend time and energy preparing for remote learning. I was ready, but I am glad the schools didn’t go remote. I plan to sit on the floor and play games with my students tomorrow. I can’t complain about that part of my job, because it doesn’t feel like work. I struggle more sitting in front of the computer all day than working with the kids.

Stay safe!

~AoA

Making Friends

Child development took a detour! Our children are doing the best they can. They should not have to worry about spreading an illness….period.

I am getting on my soap box for a minute. What our kids need now is not more testing! Teach them…..teach them….love them…..play games with them…..challenge them…….they are surviving a pandemic! Family and friends are dying at a rate that is incomprehensible! It is not happening in a place far away, to people we don’t know. Our kids are directly related to the victims of Covid-19.

As we ended our school day today, our county cases were at 952. Once the active cases get to 965, all schools will pivot to remote. We are all to spend tomorrow getting students prepared to do remote work for the next day and a half. Talking to coworkers today, we agree that much of the anxiety comes from the unknown. When the cases rise like this, we don’t know from day to day, if this will be the last. We have all been keeping the pace like this since school started! Staying in “fight, flight, or freeze” is emotionally draining. Most every teacher I know is in a constant state of panic and anxiety these days. There is no doubt that kids need to be in school, but our teachers need to be able to teach without added stress of testing or risking their health or the health of their families. A single cloth mask, packs of alcohol wipes, and gloves just aren’t enough when the students aren’t asked to mask or stay home when having symptoms! I have asked for n-95 masks for teachers. We have been told that we will get them, but no one has seen one yet.

Three teachers have now died from covid-19 in one of our neighboring counties.

My nurse daughter is now experiencing covid symptoms, after being exposed three days ago. She is currently in the middle of final exams in college, and is worried that she won’t pass her classes if she misses. How much longer do we all hang on? As the vaccine rolls out, our nursing home residents and healthcare workers are first in line.

I hope you are all staying as safe as you can! I am really over this….fatigued.

~AoA

Holiday Time in My Corner

The holiday season may be a little tangled this year, but there is still JOY! I just worked a full week in person, for the first time in over a month! Unfortunately, that may have been the last full week for a while. It looks like our whole county will be remote schooling by the middle of this week. Our covid transmission rate is 26%. The recommended level for schools to safely be open, is 5%. A teacher in a neighboring county, just died from Covid-19. I had a lot of hope for the vaccine, until the warnings came out for people who have had anaphylactic reactions….that would be me. I would feel safer, even if my parents could get the vaccine. At least then, if I do contract it, I wouldn’t have to worry as much about giving it to my parents.

Little AoA wanted to learn about Hanukkah this year. One of her pen-pals celebrates both Christmas and Hanukkah. She had learned about holidays around the world, but actually knowing someone who celebrates one of them makes it personal. American Girl dolls has Rebekah, who is Jewish. Little AoA has been enjoying setting her doll up for the special celebration.

Shopping for the holidays can be a bit stressful….and then I run into these great Barbies! I laughed so hard! I grew up with Barbie, making whole towns with them. These new Barbies are definitely “EXTRA”! I’m really glad that Little AoA is into the larger, 18 inch dolls, as they are a lot easier to dress and sew for.

This is our tree for this year. It is pretty minimal, but just enough. I love the Dr. Fauci ornament! I also made some garland out of leftover mask material. I really love the holiday season, especially the lights!

It takes much more effort than it should to feel the joy of the season this year. So many people are dying….so many lives cut short. Here we are, less than two weeks from Christmas, and my nurse daughter was just exposed for a very long period of time, to a positive covid case. Her daughter (my granddaughter) has been staying with her other grandparents while her mom works. Now, they won’t be able to be together for Christmas…..All of the people who help care for my granddaughter, have older, health compromised relatives living with them.

What brings you joy during this season?

~AoA

Only the Lawyers “Win”

Most of the time, we get to choose whether we engage in a battle or argument. We get to analyze it, and decide whether it is worth our time and energy. When a vindictive ex spouse dedicates his or her time and money to taking you to court, there isn’t really a choice. You hire an attorney, pay a hefty retainer, and hope it lasts until the litigation comes to a conclusion.

I am in such a situation. During the last eight years since divorce, I don’t think there have been 12 consecutive months without some kind of litigation. The most recent litigation goes to court at the end of December. The dad is complaining to the court because our 14 year old refused to attend visits, after recalling a memory of abuse, and going through a DCS investigation.

The dad could have continued visits with Little AoA, but refused to see one child without the other one. The kids have not seen or heard from him for the last nine months.

Somehow, his attorney will try to spin this to be my fault somehow. I have run out of things to offer. The ball is not in my court for setting up visits.

Thinking about how much money has been spent going in and out of litigation is a bit sickening. The dad is on about his tenth attorney now. He claims to be too poor to help with the financial support of the kids, yet has money to do this. I, on the other hand, try to do everything through email, which seems to be the best way to stretch out the retainer fee.

Here is one of my favorite quotes….I want a way to apply it to litigation….

I feel like I am being held responsible for the relationship the dad has with the kids. The dad has completely ghosted me over the last four years. I must say, there is no co-parenting when there is no communication. Each parent is responsible for their own relationship with their kids.

I want to walk away…..How do I walk away from a court battle? Is it even possible?

~AoA

Sitter for Next Time!

I took a two day respite trip with Little AoA! What could go wrong? We needed a short respite time. Everyone we left at home had what they would need for several days; food, clean house, paper products, and so on. My adult kids were aware that the grandparents would be there, and may need something. My teenager was home, keeping watch.

As soon as we walked in the door, grandma shared that she had fallen while we were gone! She had decided that she no longer wanted the big area rug in her room, and tried to navigate it through the house. Thankfully, she fell near a good piece of furniture, and with support, was able to get up. My dad was upset! My mom tends to fall everytime she tries to do this type of thing. She hates to ask for help, and waits until nobody is watching, to do these things! My dad and I are both aware that my mom is a broken hip away from needing to spend significant time in a nursing home for rehabilitation. We don’t want that!

There has been nothing that anyone can say or do, to keep my mom from trying to do things independently, that are too much for her. Usually, Little AoA keeps a close eye on her, and tells her not to do things that could hurt her. Grandma has always been a worker, and independent. She does not do well asking for help, or waiting for help.

If I had not been on our little trip, I would have been at work. I don’t know that she wouldn’t have fallen anyway. Nevertheless, it always makes me think twice about leaving the house for any length of time.

Have you ever cared for a fragile family member? Did you take any time for respite? How did it go?

~AoA

Much Needed Respite

It was time for some much needed respite! I wish we could take a break from the pandemic, which is what we really need! Until then, we have discovered that the beautiful Smoky Mountains are an easy four hour drive from our home. On this stay, we decided to try Dream More Hotel, which is a Dollywood resort hotel. It is so beautiful! Little AoA didn’t want to leave!

Our trip felt very safe for a pandemic. The hotel had a lot of safety measures in place, plus, it wasn’t crowded at all. On day two, we drove through Gatlinburg, and just took in the sites. We went into two stores that were not in the crowded area of Gatlinburg. Our meals were all either drive thru or curbside to go. I can barely remember eating out in a restaurant, but it was something we tried to do about once a month.

The best part of our trip was today, when it started to snow! It was so beautiful to see the first snowfall of the season while in the mountains!

Here are some pictures from our little trip!

I felt a little guilty taking two nights away from home, but as I think about how the last year has been, I can see that it is needed. As most people, we have been staying within our “pandemic pod” of people who live in our home since the first of March. My parents live with us, and being very high risk, have depended solely on me to do anything outside the home, like shopping and running errands. My teenager, who is normally a ball of anxiety anyway, has been even more anxious. My teen was also just diagnosed with autism, which wasn’t a surprise; and has helped me accept that the neurodiversity was not in anyone’s imagination. It takes some energy to support beloved family members who live in a world of anxiety, during a pandemic!

It is more important than ever, to seek joy in the little things. Tune in to your senses, and experience the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of the season. Even if only for a short time….respite❤️

~AoA

Holiday Season: 2020

The holiday season has officially started, and it is a welcome distraction from the pandemic world. We ate our traditional turkey dinner on Wednesday….because we could. No company…no extended family…just our “pandemic pod”. My adult son took a to-go plate, as he is fairly certain that he has been exposed to covid at his new job. He is self-quarantining.

Today we enjoyed the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Honestly, it was a little sad seeing everyone in their masks, and no crowd. I am glad that they tried to be safe….

Little AoA and I followed up by making some holiday treats. We made chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, and Buckeyes. We have a goal to get a couple of packages sent to family by the first of December.

I finally took the time to watch The Christmas Chronicles, as I crocheted a long scarf for one of Little AoA’s pen-pals. There is a Part 2 for this movie, which I am sure I’ll be watching soon!

Before I even emerged from bed this morning, I had Snoopy and The Peanuts gang on my mind. I pulled up a fun site, and created myself a Peanuts character. Why? I tend to be easily amused!

Honestly, the pandemic is taking its toll on me. People I know are getting sick…regularly. Everyday we see our local hospital at capacity…people dying….nurses burning out….teachers burning out. We have one mayor reporting the numbers and safety reminders, while another one reminds us of our right to wear a mask or not, and how 99% of people survive covid. I miss my family….my granddaughter has been safely staying with her other grandparents since March! I have only seen my adult daughter to drop treats off for her at the nursing home where she works.

In an effort to stay busy, I made a couple of baby doll dresses for some of my baby second cousins. They are really into “Frozen”, at such sweet ages. Maybe I will be able to travel and visit one day!

I miss being able to go out and be among people who aren’t in my pandemic pod. Don’t get me wrong, my pandemic family has my heart! I have been reaching out a little, trying to make some new friends….on zoom. When the pandemic first started, I remember thinking that it would be under control within a few months. Now we wait and watch as our neighbors get sick and die, or get sick and recover….and wonder if our home is next.

I hope you all are enjoying the holiday season kickoff! How is the pandemic affecting your activities?

~AoA

They Sent Us Remote

It finally happened….our whole school system moved to remote learning. The covid numbers in our county have reached the level of “high spread”. Many teachers are out with either positive covid cases or symptoms. There aren’t enough substitute teachers to keep up with the need. Parents want their kids in school, but I guess not enough to support having the students wear masks. This is the natural consequence of this decision. The spread goes up, and schools cannot operate safely.

In my building, we just had two adults needing surgery, and testing covid positive in pre-op. Surgeries are delayed, due to this virus.

In a local nursing home, a strange thing is happening with covid. Patients are recovering from covid and having at least two negative tests. About three to five days later, they are having sudden onset of covid, and dying! This has been totally unexpected and shocking. My heart just sinks in sadness at the lives this pandemic is taking. Our hospital is full, and nurses are fatigued.

Our county mayor will not put a mask mandate in place. That would work, if people would demonstrate personal responsibility. Instead, they plan superspreader events, typically using our beautiful town square as the setting. People come from other counties to participate, because….no mask!

This cutout just made my day, standing in the teacher mail room one day. I passed it, then went to do some work. When I returned to the mail room, it was gone! Where did it go? To my surprise, it greeted me in the restroom! Someone was moving it around! In the quiet of a school building with no children, this little bit of fun made it a little brighter.

We are all tired of wearing masks and distancing. We are tired of always fearing bring a deadly virus to our older relatives. We are tired of wondering if the person across the table has been exposed. We are tired of the anxiety.

Stay safe!

~AoA

Confirmation

Today my 14 year old received confirmation that has been a long time coming….an autism diagnosis. I have suspected this for a very, very long time. We have had testing after testing, only to be told that the dad’s treatment most likely was behind the very odd behaviors. Well, it has now been a few years since the kids have had to deal with regular visits. Time has begun to heal some of the trauma, and what was underneath, was a beautiful, intelligent, loving, autistic teenager!

My teenager has been going through the stage of self-awareness; and had asked to have this testing. It helped make sense of life so far. It explained why some things had been so difficult along the way. Neurodiversity is not completely accepted in our schools yet. Students are forced into a box more often than not. It is only the rare teacher who embraces neurodiversity, and supports growth of the child before them, rather than the child they think should be there.

I am not sure that I would have done anything differently had I known earlier. I do think it may have helped me explain my child to others in a way that they could understand better.

To think that we have been navigating autism alongside the litigation hell and emotional trauma brought to us by the dad, is surreal. We got through it all so far. It hasn’t been easy, and I am tired. We still have a December 30th court date in front of us. I have lost count of how many times we have gone back and forth with litigation over the past eight years. I think the dad is on his 10th attorney, or more. Thankfully, we have an extremely thorough and detailed order in place, and left as few loopholes as we could think of.

Stay safe!

~AoA