When I was going through divorce with their father - who is paranoid schizophrenic and never been alone with them or lived with them - well until Nicholas was 7 months old and that does not really count! Anyway he had a lawyer so I considered leaving the country, just because a few times his lawyer scared me and since I did not have one was not sure what the outcome would be.

In the end the 25 page custody evaluation said he could not be alone with the kids and must follow several rules before even starting the supervised visitation, and we have not seen him in a few years.

The boys both get money through Social Security off their father's record, not for his mental illness but from some job accident that caused some back damage.

They both get their own SSI and I do things online to make some spare money, and then two months later it gets taken away from their checks.

One has an overpayment from when I started being the home health care provider and they count that as income, but the one I do it for SSI does not count it, but last month they sent me a 33 page document and now they are counting it. SSI made a $290 mistake that finally got fixed, but there is an $85 discrepancy so he was short that amount.

I have to report now the $80 I got from jury duty. The safest thing to do is sell stuff on ebay and use paypal.

The only thing that saves us is the income tax refund and the EIC. You probably also do the Child tax credit and the additional child credit, since they both get assistance.

I did not do taxes for several years and probably could have done the EIC, but the first year I got the IHSS and did the taxes I waited until April 15th because I thought I would owe money and then found out I was getting four grand and went nuts waiting for the money. I bought the minivan on ebay with that and last year we went on our first vacation through amtrak and blew it on that and a few shopping sprees.

This year we will go back to San Diego but the rest is being saved. Two years ago you had one month to spend the IRS refund otherwise SSI would count it, last year they said you had like 6 months, so I am going to make it last.

In April the house was robbed and I still need to replace the video camera, digital camera and printer/scanner and portable dvd player.

I now pay extra money for rental and earthquake insurance, had a $49 rent increase at the same time and now $85 less in SSI check.

I keep checking craigslist and think maybe I could rent out a couch to someone looking to live in LA - but I could not risk that with my kids.

I have a bagful of books to sell next week on ebay, once kids go to school tomorrow I can than stand in line at post office and send them out, if they sell!

Bonnie Sayers - Autism Editor