Monday, September 26, 2016

KC joins the big leagues!

KC is 12 and in full tween mode these days. But he just made a huge leap (pardon the pun) in his dancing.  He also began his Coming of Age year at church and had his first mentor/mentee event after services yesterday.

In the dance area, he has been promoted to the group 3 dance group for hip hop. He was previously in group 2.  Group 3 is made up of much older kids.  One 8th grader, but most are 9th and 10th graders. KC is 7th grade.  What prompted the boost was the fact that there were only 4 kids in his group 2 hip hop this year.  2 were bumped down a level and one other class mate was promoted with KC.

I worried that he would be nervous but he rocked it.  He could keep up with the class and the class members accepted him warmly.  Saturday our city has a big fall festival. The dance school has a booth there and dances periodically in the streets through out the day.  KC worked from 9 to after 1 and danced multiple times.  Most of the dancers and volunteers were the older girls from group 3 and when they were on break I would see KC walking around the fair with one or the other of the young ladies.

This was KC yesterday morning before church.  Last year at the end of the RE  program the kids made tie dyed shirts to get ready for COA  For each coming of age event they will wear this shirt. KC had a blast. He loves his mentor, with whom he shares a passion for the arts and was proud that during the question and answer period, there was very little about her that he did not know.  Like wise, she knew a lot about him.  For some kids, that might detract from the experience.  For him, it is a key foundation piece for him.

He enjoyed the canoe trip and came home happy and tired eager for the journeys and explorations that will happen this year.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Ties that did not bind

It never gets easy.  Social media is good for lots of things and for an over all feeling of connectedness.  But tonight when I popped on, I saw a post from my BIL.  He was posting about how thankful he was that his father in law was visiting from AZ.  Um, way to find out your father is in the state and not seeing you.  Again.

Most of the time his absence in my life is not something I think about.  It has been so long.  I have so much that is good and loving and right in my life.  In my head, I know that I am pining for something that never was.  Our relationship was not one where I felt loved, and I suspect he felt let down by me.  He must have, since he moved without warning, without farewell.

I'm glad for my sister.  She and my father are very close.  But I am glad I am camping this weekend.  We'll be by the ocean.  It will be cold but there is amazing restorative energies for me at the seaside.  And we are with about 150 friends from two churches.  The kids always have someone to hang with and I have time to chat with really great people.  I always treasure this time.  Today, I feel like more than anything, I need this time right now.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Life Guarding

Things have been going well for Fiona of late.  She has been less violent, and more able to talk through an issue.  Sadly I expect there will be some rough patches in the near future. The house manager is leaving for another position.  This seems to happen regularly with the house managers in this home and I find it frustrating.  I get a working relationship and just as things start to level out--communications are good, mail is properly sent to me, Fiona's needs are being met. . . bang they are on the way out.  There is always a hiatus while they try to find another house manager and this is the worst of all.  People covering the house rarely know the occupants well.  They are often over worked, over tired and uninformed.  For Fi this means there are going to be hurt feelings and outbursts.  Trust me, I have been to this rodeo far too many times.

Yet if I am frustrated, I know my daughter is frightened and angry.  Tonight she called me almost manically happy which is a sure sign that she is going to crash and burn behavior wise.  The house manager called me shortly thereafter and said he had told the ladies today of his impending departure and that Fi was very angry and upset.  I said I knew as she had all ready called and told me he was leaving.  (side note she was not happy he is leaving. She is deflecting this by mentioning his departure and talking about a bunny rabbit she has been trying to acquire for about 6 months.)

I know too that for Fiona  the change in preferred staff underscore the fact that their presence there is a "job."  She is work to them. And while she needs to be there, and while I know in my heart that there are days and times when being with her is so challenging that it is really HARD work, this has to all feel really ugly to her.

Even though I have been through this many times, I don't know anyway that makes this any easier for her.  I always feel like I am trying to help her tread water till the new manager is hired and then I can at least have a sit down and try and get a feel for their style and how to enlist the best assistance possible for Fiona. But for now, back to treading water.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Relationship Blooms!

It has been a long time since Rob had a girl friend.  His first girl friend was an intense 4 year relationship that at times I liked and at times petrified me.  The young woman was very bright but ery very intense and I worried privately that things would spiral to a place that would damage their futures.  She broke things off as they entered college and he was devastated.

He didn't date anyone seriously since then and we are entering year 3 of college.  He had an active social life and many "girls who were friends" but gatherings were groups and not dates.  Privately he told his younger sibs that he was not going to settle for just one girl.

Late this summer he met Moe.  Moe lives in the neighborhood, is a bit younger than he and they began hanging out after Rob got out of work. He would go to her house and they would sit at a picnic table and talk and she came to our house and they had a fire in the fire pit. I actually thought they were going to part ways a week or so ago though as Rob complained that she was texting him too much.

While the comment made me laugh (he is like so many 20 somethings with the phone constantly at the ready!) I was hoping that he would give the relationship a bit more of a chance. And apparently he did, as last night he announced that they were a couple.

I hope they are good to and for each other.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Chet is 31

Today is Chet's birthday.  My eldest is 31 today! We actually are not having his party till Sunday due to various family member work schedules.  However I wanted him to have something festive for supper tonight so here he is in the picture on the left with his home made waffle sundae.  Freshly made waffle, topped with chocolate chip ice cream ,whipped cream caramel sauce (just a drizzle) and fresh blueberries.  He was thrilled and very surprised.

The picture of Chet on the right is him at a party,though which one escapes me.  I love his zany joy and exuberance. But, his autism means he gets overwhelmed with sensory easily.  I think these two pictures show that the most clearly.  His face is so relaxed in todays shot.  Lots of tension and the grimacey smile in the second one.  The shot on the left is precious to me as I can count on one hand the number of pictures I have like that .

But regardless of the pictures, my love for this guy is unchanged.  He is zany, whacky and will sometimes drive me round the bend, but that is all beside the point. He also has a true deep caring for large issues of injustice a desire to help people in the wider world and definately believes in not wasting our planets resources.  Happy Birthday Chet!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Road Trip 2018?

This summer has been filled with memory making opportunities.  We have camped multiple times with a variety of friends.  I am so lucky to have so many people I genuinely enjoy spending time with. And who apparently reciprocate this feeling.

Our most recent camping adventure also found me bringing along the little boy who used to live next door to us and who was part of our kids lives for many years.  B had never been camping and he and KC and Lissa relished the 5 days together.  We were also camping with my friends Des and Eric and their four kids.  We have camped together for about 5 years now.  While we were sitting around the campfire, they said that in 2018 they want to travel cross country and they would love our family to come along.

It was high praise--the proposed trip is a month long journey.  They said that they could not envision doing this with any other friend than our family.  (sniff)  My knee jerk reaction was "heck that is so sweet but how can  I possibly do that?"  Thankfully I stuffed that thought back in my craw and said I"d ask my wife what she thought when I got home.

Kirsty was very excited by the idea.    My next step was to find out if I can get a month off from work.  I get 5 weeks of vacation annually.  Truthfully I have never used all my vacation days. Ever.  But the type of work I do has federal deadlines and there is a policy that one is not supposed to be gone more than 2 consecutive weeks.  (OK here is where I confess I have not done THAT either!) I use about 2 1/2 to 3 weeks yearly but in dribs and drabs throughout the year.  I typically maximize my time off by planning around existing holidays when our office is closed anyway.

I told my boss about the possible adventure.  She is very supportive and has submitted my request to HR.  I have my fingers crossed for a yes.  After all it is a 2 year notice and I am willing to do anything necessary to make sure someone is fully trained in what I do for the month that I would be gone.

Meanwhile, in a spirit of optimism we adults met at Des and Eric's new RV last night.  Partly to admire their new digs. Partly to talk about where we all want to go.  Mostly to State Parks which  an annual pass will make pretty affordable. Partly to talk logistics--how many driving hours would we shoot for daily?  What type of areas do we want to stop in at night?  My family will have to rent an RV as we do not own one.  I am a tent camper and am also petrified to drive an RV.  So I will be copilot and keep the kids happy and entertained while we travel.

Des shared their list of "must sees" and we have added a few. The kids are very excited about this. It will be the trip of a lifetime for us, I am sure. Lots of planning, lots of saving, but an adventure of epic proportions!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Adoption and the Olympics

I have been watching the Olympics and enjoying all my favorite events. (which is basically anything except water polo!)  I especially adore gymnastics and have loved watching the women's team this year. They are a dominating force and the routines leave me breathless with awe.  I am also pretty excited about the racial diversity on our team.  In a sport that was pretty much dominated caucasians, we have 2 blacks and a hispanic on our winning team. There are a two caucasians but the demographic of the team is startlingly different from previous years.

However what is not different is the media frenzy surrounding Simone Biles and her adoption story.  I have watched this unfold and it is painful at so very many levels.  First off, I am feeling very very badly for Simone herself.  Her personal life is out there for public dissection in every conceiveable way.  Adoptive parents are rallying around the "we are the real parents" banner.  First mothers are rallying around the "first families are forgotten" camp.  Foster parents and foster alums are weighing in.  All come with their own stories which color their perspectives.  And all i see is a young woman whose amazing gymnastic abilities and achievements are somehow incredibly being second fiddle to her very personal adoption/family story.

I want to be very clear that I wholeheartedly respect first families.  They are my kids family.  They have become my family, because we all love the same people.  And we all want what is best for the kids and we have learned from each other and we value each other.  I personally feel the portrayal of Simone's first mother in the press is cold and painful.  No one needs the labels that this woman has endured.  And if she is as she stated, sober for many years, it's even worse.  People make mistakes, sometimes horrible ones.  If we are lucky, and have a dose of common sense, we have an opportunity to learn from those mistakes.  I feel that the media is not giving Shannon Biles that chance. And the media circus could derail any opportunity in the future for Simone and Shannon to have a relationship should they wish to develop it.

Does this mean I don't support her adoptive parents?  No, of course not.  Her grandparents stepped up and they have clearly done a great job raising an amazing young woman.  The fact that Simone calls them mom and dad bothers me not a whit.  Kids choose what they want to call the people who love them. Also most kids have a nearly desperate need to fit in. I can see these factors playing into Simone's decision to call them that.  I have kids that call their first moms Mom.  I have kids that call their first mom's Mom followed by their first name)  I have kids that call their first mom by their first name.

It has never been my decision what to call their mom. It has been theirs.  I am happy being one of the moms. I am happy being lucky enough to be the mom that gets to kiss them goodnight, hear about their day and make memories on a daily basis with them.

Let's let amazing athletic achievements be the thing we watch and talk about.  Let's let these fine young people have a personal life this isn't dissected and the source of media sound bites.