Sunday, February 28, 2010

KC's new plan

KC just told me he would like to have a carnival in our back yard this summer.  I think this is because our UU church did a penny purim carnival today and he and Lissa had a blast.  It really wouldn't (or shouldn't) be that hard and I think the kids will have fun helping to make the games and inviting their friends.  Never a dull moment here!  He wants to make a ring toss game, a bean bag game, have some kind of water balloon game, and a fishing game.   LOL

Egg crafts

Yesterday we began to make some Ostara decorations.  We also did some shamrock/St. Patty's day stuff too but this craft was exceptionally fun for all ages. We had large colored foam eggs. We covered them with faux jewels and foam glittery decorations.    The blue egg was Robbie's.  He had a very intricate pattern.
KC too was fairly intricate and first conceived spelling his name in jewels.  Big brother Rob would wind up doing this too.

Lissa's design was more spare but still lovely.  It kept them all busy while i worked on supper and they look so cool on the top of the cabinet in our dining room.  I have them set on these upside down bowls and it looks sort of like they are i giant egg cups or something! LOL

Saturday, February 27, 2010

How many kids does she have?

My office assistant was telling me about an interesting conversation between my co-workers the other day.  Someone who had worked for us long ago had stopped by and the staff were bringing him up to speed on the changes among those of us still working there.  Someone apparently told Joe that I now had 4 children.  That was enough to leave him speechless (laughing) but then one of my other co-workers piped up and said, "no she has 5."  Where I guess they all started counting kids and pointing out that I had 4 in my home.  But the person who counted 5 said--"but there's Fiona."

I can't tell you how cool I thought that was.  The guy who recognized the daughter of my heart is a fellow that I probably have the rockiest work relationship with of anyone in our company.  Yet in that moment he showed caring and insight that I would never have believed possible.

Lissa's hair

It has been a while since we have done Lissa's hair with beads. But when it is done this way you can really see how long it is getting!  Takes about 3 hours start to finish but it looks great and the diva princess is very pleased! LOL Elisabeth looks equally cute with her hair in twists, french braids, twisted pony tails etc, bu I really love the look of beads and small braids.  The little boy she plays with while KC had his dance class kept touching her hair today.  He said he liked listening to her "hair music." 

At the grocery store we met a black friend of mine and she commented on how nice Lissa's hair looked.  I always feel very validated, which is sort of silly I suppose. But if you saw how little I can do with my own hair, that might make it all clearer to you!  LOL


Friday, February 26, 2010

My "big" family

I guess by todays standards I have a big family.  I don't really think 4 kids is a big family but I guess by today's standards it is.  I had a funny conversation with  someone from church this week.  Sundays are often busy for us. I am an assistant in KC's class and there is a meeting at 10 a.m. this week that I have to attend.  I also will have all 4 kids with me as this is Kirsty's "runaway mom" day.  Once a month she has a day to go do whatever she wants to do.  This Sunday is that day. 

After committing to the meeting I got an email from a parent in KC's class.  His class is responsible for the fellowship hour after the service this week.  This is typically not a coffee hour that my family goes to.  As we have a dual service option I go to the coffee hour after the first service, stay for the second service and try to boogie right out the door after service. This gets us home around 12:40 p.m. or so and I find that works pretty well for the troops.  But, I also want to have KC be part of what his class is doing.  So I told the woman that I would make a big batch of sugar cookies, and bring cheese and crackers.  We would be able to stay for about 40 minutes of the fellowship time to help set up and begin the serving.  Here's the part that cracked me up.  The woman said that it was fine for me to just bring the food donations because she had no idea how "I did it all" with so many children--she couldn't do it with one!"  OK so now I have to try and keep a straight face as i truly don't think 4 children is this onerous huge task.  It is just our family and we are used to things and have a system.  But heck, if the dear sweet lady wants to view me as overburdened, I'll get to go home at my usual time and that's okay with me too!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Chatting with Fiona

Tuesdays are usually Fiona's night to call and tonight was one such night.  She was a bit late in calling--turned out she had been part of a photo shoot at the Great School in the City and was all excited about that.  She loves to pose and have her picture taken, I'll bet she did a great job.  Jane and I had just exchanged an email yesterday where Jane asked about when we could visit.  I was excited as we had begun talking about a visit  last month but then fiona had become hospitalized.  In all my other experiences in her RTC',s privileges are lost and then have to be slowly and laboriously re-earned. Unfortunately often visits were considered perks to earn.  Happily this appears not to be the case at her School in the Big City.  We haven't chosen a date yet but I expect that in March we should be able to train in and then the school's van will pick us up at the station and bring us to see Fiona. 

The funny part about this is that when it was KC's turn to talk with her he told her about a painting he was making and then said "So, Fiona when are we going to get to see you again?"  The kid is just scary intuitive.  I had not told the kids anything about a visit.  I figured if it was going to be quashed I didn't want to try and explain the why of that.  Rob would get angry, the littles would get confused.  So I was stunned.  And the reality is, that KC has not seen her since he was in a Graco carrier, but chats with her like they are kindred spirits.  It is amazing to listen to.  Jane made sure to comment to me about KC's question too. I could tell it cracked her up as well.

Rob seems to be loosening up a lot over the phone and I am so pleased.  Not so many one word responses--lots of conversation that almost borders on animated.  It is a huge step forward.  Tonight was the best he has ever done and I almost wonder if the fact that they were painting when she called helped. 

I have to write about Fiona here because I know that many of my family, including my own mother, do not understand my love and committment to her.  My mother actually wrote me an email not  long ago saying I spent too much time worrying about her.  Um, I don't really know how to deal with that. What is the alloted amount of time and energy that I should devote to each child? I realize that legally, Fiona is not my child.   I also realize that had Fiona remained in our home that I would never have felt safe adopting any other children. She is too volatile and yes, I realize that means that the great gifts of KC and Elisabeth would not be in my life.  But as much as I love them and i do--with every fiber of my being--I can't say that their little lives are more precious or more special to me than Fiona.  My mom doesn't get that she is still so very much woven into my heart, that I know she can't live with me but that I can love her despite that.  And when you come right down to it, not too many people have spent too much time worrying about Fiona unless they were paid to be doing that. Not to minimize people in those professions, just that it isn't the same as having family that just want you to be and do well.

Because my computer is finally allowing me to print again, I have the picture for the last page of her scrapbook and I will mail that out to her soon.  I actually mailed the scrapbook itself some time ago and then Jane thought of another page she thought we should include so it is really only that page that i am sending. I am rambling so I better stop typing and get to work!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Computer woes and Little

So Friday the computer crashed again.  It had started being wonky late Thursday and we suspected something evil had infected it.  We have anti viral software but clearly the virus was stronger than any anti-viral stuff on our computer.   Tech guru rode in Saturday a.m. to the rescue.  It is working now after he spent 4 hours on it.  But I have to call him back (sigh) as he only charged me for 3 hours with the understanding I would down load a registered copy of Malwarebytes.  I tried but the computer ran into a problem down loading it and wasn't able to do it. So tech guy will have to see what is up with that.  I am glad this guy does not mind children.  Or dogs.  Or cats.  Or just about anything.  LOL  He is amazingly mellow for a tech guy.  Usually in my experience they are very much a breed apart and don't always do well in the interpersonal part of things.  Mike isn't like that bless his soul, and his techie brain and everything else that got us back to cyber land.

How I wish I had a mac still.  Sigh.  You just don't get viruses with Macs.  Even the tech guy agrees.  He adores macs.  Can work on pcs but totally recommends them.  If  I win the lottery (which is somewhat unlikely since I rarely buy tickets)  I am getting a new mac.  I don't like laptops.  I have really long fingers and it is hard for me to type accurately on shortened keyboards as I keep overshooting so I need the bucks for  a desk top model.  Actually Mike said if I see something interesting on craigslist I could even call him and he would let us know if it sounded like it would meet our needs.

The kids and I decorated for St. Patricks day while Mike was performing CPR on the computer yesterday.  We're looking very Celtic around here at the moment.  Shamrocks positively abound!  Something about the green of st patricks day is a great thing this time of year though.  It seems so long since we have seen green growing things and the kelly green reminds me of that.

And this morning, KC came down for church clutching the hand of someone at his side.  Someone we could not see.  His imaginary friend.  His name is Little.  KC introduced us.  He said Little wanted to come to church but I noticed that around his friends there was no mention of Little.  Too funny.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Ant phobia

Me that is.  Remember how I said KC got a "cool ant farm" from his uncle.  Well I have to screw up the courage to send in the postcard that gets you the ants.  See I have this weird anti-ant thing.  Brian knows about it and i am sure that if I can get the ants into the ant farm I will eventually agree with him on how totally cool (shudder) it is to watch the little devils.  I love nature.  I catch spiders in the house and relocate them outside.  I am not off put by centipedes and do the same thing.  Snakes?  No worries. But ants?  Ants send me round the bend.  Here's what happened.

When I first moved out on my own at the tender age of 18 I lived in a converted summer cottage that used to be my grandfathers.  The well went dry and we had to have city water put in.  I was going to school and working three part time jobs. They dug for the piping while I was working.  I came home late that summer night, very tired.  I walked through the little house without putting on lights.  I kicked off my slides in the living room and stepped into the bathroom barefoot.  To hear crunch.  I turned on the light and literally watched the floor and walls ripple because there were so many ants everywhere.  The digging had disturbed a huge nest of carpenter ants and they followed the piping straight to the bathroom.  I got a can of raid and stuck my arm in the bathroom and sprayed.  I slammed the door shut and I could hear their little bodies falling off the walls.  It took most of a can of raid to kill them all.  Well, it might have taken less but I wasn't taking chances.  LOL  Then I vacuumed up the corpses.  And ever since then I have abhorred ants with a ridiculous intensity.

But I don't want to pass such a stupid aversion on to my children so I will screw up my courage and send it the ant post card this weekend.  I hope.  Ewwwww.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sunshine Award!

I am honored!  Mom in the trenches and Carmel from On our Way have both nominated me for a sunshine award.  Given that I have been pouring over seed catalogs like crazy over these last few weeks, I adore looking at the pretty flower that is the award pic.  And I am stunned that not one but two folks would nominate me!  So a very blushing thank you to both.  (see how orangey red that flower is?  That would be a blushing daisy ladies!  LOL

The thing is, I don't have 12 people to nominate as the award rules dictate. Gasp.  Shudder.  My sunshiney status is in jeopardy!  I have nominated most of my other blog friends for awards recently so now the list is getting thin. And i picture them groaning as they open their google readers, smacking their heads with their hands and saying "oh that Lee, NOT AGAIN, enough all ready!"  So I am not able to nominate 12 people.  But I am going to nominate 1.  Jo over at Tangled Me has a blog that I have followed for some time.  And just now, Jo is in the hospital and friends send flowers so I will send this one to her and hope very very much for a speedy recovery. 

Cell Phone Update

Well as I suspected, Rob could make my phone usable for the non-hearing impaired in jig time.  Unfortunately though I wasn't getting the TTY notice, I was still getting a "call failed" notice.  So I called the phone company customer service and an hour later, the phone again works.  I told Rob it was likely to me that this was a result of his cell phone experimentation and to please not do so in the future. If for instance, he was trying to text (likely) he needed to remember I have not had the phone enabled for this. (true!) It is an emergency phone and we would like to have it work in an emergency.

On the plus side, there was very little crazy lying involved in this episode.  He did of course initially deny touching it or having anything to do with it. (at which point I kicked myself for wording things in such a way that denial was possible even though implausible).  So I switched tacks and asked if it was likely his 3 y/o sister had done it. He grudgingly agreed not.  I did this with every member of the family. Still calmly and finally at the end, said "i guess that leaves you."  That time he agreed.  As I told K, a year ago he would have continued to deny, despite that.  His story would have had no basis in reality, there would have been tears, it would have been even more frustrating than this was. (though talking to four people who likely live in New Delhi didn't rank high on my list of 'fun.') 

So it was all good in the end. . . AND  Fiona called.  She was discharged from the hospital back to the Great School in the Big City.  This is good and also bad. Good because I think it is hugely important for her to see that connections are not always broken when she loses control of herself and of a situation. Bad because the medical community did not have a bed or treatment team available that could accurately assess and treat the needs of a cognitively challenged teen with as many meds and issues and Fiona has.  But she sounded good on the phone and I will hope that perhaps this is just a bump in the road and things will level a bit for her.

Cell Phone Woes

Or maybe that should be teen aged boy woes!  I tried to use my cell the other day (actually just to test it as I put new minutes on it) and the call failed.  I checked the screen and it said it was dialling in TTY mode.  I am not hearing impaired and don't use TTY mode.  Sigh.  However further investigation showed 2 peoples names in (I think) the speed dial section that would only go to my 13 y/o  A girl from church and the radio station.  LOL  Which neither one do I care about except that somehow in doing this, he disabled the phone and I need it fixed.  I can't figure it out for the life of me.  Of course he said he didn't do it.  I asked if it was reasonable that anyone else in the family would call the girl in his class at church.  He was able to admit that wasn't sensible.  I said that therefore unless he could tangibly prove otherwise he was responsible and that I expect him to fix the phone by the time I get home from work.  Knowing this kid and electronics he can probably do it in minutes.  I hope.   LOL

Monday, February 15, 2010

Merry Val-mas!

Further revealing my juvenile TV viewing I will confess I used to watch the O.C. when it was on.  Teen show but cute and I enjoyed it.  One of the characters was jewish and created his own family celebration called "Chrismakuh."  The show ran for a couple of years and they always expanded on the theme of the created holiday each year.  It was kind of neat.

Yesterday we sort of did that as K's side of the family were finally available to visit, we were healthy, the roads were clear and the planets were all in alignment.  This was their Christmas visit folks!  And the thing is, it is fun to get together whenever it happens.

This is Elisabeth opening up her Tonka truck.  Yep, that sweet little darlin' in her sweet little dress
is all about construction equipment these days.  She can't wait for park weather to get to show this off.

Rob and KC are all about sports team gear and both got Patriots hoodies.  This is a great pic of Rob.  The one I took of KC with his I messed up the lighting and he is so back lit that you can't see his face at all. However, he was equally happy.  KC also got a very cool ant farm and I forget what else the kids got.  I think in many ways they had more fun than if the event had happened closer to December or in early January.  It was a mid-winter lift to get some new toys and gear and hang out with family that they love and don't see as often as we would like.  We had a great lunch together and mid afternoon they were on their way.  .   .   then it was time for the kids to relax a bit and for me to get the Valentines Day party together.

Due to having done the holiday gather with the family I wanted it low key but fun. We have always had a valentine party at our house and I knew the kids would feel gypped if we didn't.

So I made these little valentine butterflies.  I found the template on line and i forget who I should credit for that but it is soooo cute and cool.  K had gotten valentine pencils and those became the butterflies bodies.  Then also on line I had seen that you could make valentine hearts out of left over candy canes and I did one of those for everyone.  Super simple, just warm them in the oven to 250 degrees (resting in the heart shape) and they fuse lightly together.  We had valentines for each other, so many that the valentine mail box could barely close,  and I had bought a small candy treat for each person.  That and english muffin pizzas  completed the party.  It was fun and just special enough.  No one was over the edge hyped, just all feeling the love, so to speak.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Teddy Bear's 100th Birthday!

It isn't every day a bear turns 100!  LOL  I didn't know that KC's bear was quite that old, but apparently in KC's eyes, this was to be Bear's 100th birthday. So it was.  We had a lot of fun.  My mom, who was gunning for bear ( pardon the pun) when she arrived, angered and perhaps frightened over how to handle change in her life, was charmed despite herself. She was amazed that the 2 little kids really did the party themselves.  Yes, I baked the tiny cupcakes but they served the iced tea, did the invites, made Bear's gift and assembled all Bear's friends for the day.  KC made sure we all sang Happy Birthday to bear.  Bear also seemed to like his new blanket and pillow as he was sleeping comfortably on it last night.

I love that my kids have such imaginative fun. And it took a fair piece of time which involved my mom in something fun and magical and took her mind off saying things that could be hurtful.  She has since returned home this morning, and for the moment, seems a bit happier. She seems to understand at least a bit, why her plan was not enonomically wise.  I think she is still angry with me as I was the bearer of those bad tidings.  Such is life. 

Friday, February 12, 2010

On giving advice

I have some advice to give.  (drum roll please)  Don't give advice!  LOL  Seriously.  It is not worth it.  My mom called last week. She rents an apartment in a state a couple hours away from me.  Her name came up on a subsidized housing list. She looked at the unit and hated it.  It was too small.  Apparently my mom can not survive in anything less than a 2 bedroom unit.  As a single person she can not rent a two bedroom unit with subsidy.  But they kindly showed her a lovely 2 bedroom unit and told her she could have it for $850 a month.  Likely that is the fair market section 8 rent in her locale.  I know my mom's income as i helped her fill out the application for subsidized housing.  This rent, exclusive of utilities would take 50% of her income.  She asked what I thought.  I told her I thought the unit sounded lovely and had amenities that were very attractive but that it was not the best idea to spend 50 per cent of your income on housing.  Also as she is retired, there was no reasonable expectation of her income increasing in the foreseeable future. (as a side note, I have worked in subsidized housing for 31 years)  Hell hath no fury like a mother whose dream apartment has been thwarted.  I have had venomous emails ever since.  All about how unsupportive I am , how I don't understand the problems in her present place (this would seem to ignore the fact that I tried to help her move this summer and she said she wanted to stay there!) etc.  It is not pretty.

And to add to the joy, she is visiting this weekend.  if she is nasty around my kids I'll probably blow a gasket.  I can take her being mean to me.  KC has a teddy bear birthday party planned and invited her so she had best show up with her stuffed animal prepared to have fun.  Or else!  LOL  Gifts have been made for the bear and tonight we are maknig the tiny valentine cupcakes that bear requested for his party tomorrow.  We will use KC and Lissa's tea set and have iced tea in our tea cups and all the stuffed animals are invited to come as well.  Hopefully the fun that my kids generate will mitigate her ill humour.  She leaves early Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon, K's family is coming to exchange Yule gifts.  Then on Monday a friend we haven't seen in ages is coming to lunch.  It will be fun.  Like Jean Luc Picard used to say on the Star Trek show "make it so."  (grin)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Party Time

Today was Kirsty's birthday.  I had taken a vacation day as I wanted to help the kids make this a special day for her.  We thought she could start by having a free breakfast at Dennys which offers free breakfast on your birthday. She likes their food so it seemed like a plan.  Except that 40 million other people must have had the same birthday. The line went out the door and around the building.  Even K thought a grand slam wasn't worth that and left! LOL  She breakfasted elsewhere, went to the doctor for a minor medical issue, and did some errands.  It is a treat for her to do errands sans children.  Me, I need the kids when I do errands.  I need those extra eyes to help me because I am not a shopper.  I really hate shopping.  The kids make it fun. Weird, I know, but there you go.  People are always laughing after they have listened to the kids and i shop so apparently they brighten other people's days as well.  Or the other people just think I am a nut job and are laughing at me.  But I digress.

While she was off doing whatever, we were going to many stores getting ready to party hearty!  We had to hit the grocery store, the local discount store for a few gifts, and the famous iparty. Oh my gosh do my kids adore iparty.  I think they consider that a field trip.  Truly.  We didn't get home till 11 .  I gave them a small snack, Lissa and I made the chocolate birthday cake, I cleaned the kitchen and did lunch.  Then KC and i made vanilla cupcakes (I can't eat chocolate and KC hates it).  The kids wrapped their gifts and we all decorated the dining room.  Then they were needing to decompress so I sent them outside to play.  I frosted and decorated the cake and cupcakes, did some house chores and chatted with K when she got home.  She had lunch, went for a walk.  I helped the kids make their cards for her.

K and I were having chinese food but the kids hate that so I cooked for them.  The party was excellent.  The dining room had an asian theme, sort of a nod to Chinese new year which is approaching later this month and the Chinese food we were ingesting.  I did our party favors ( little notebooks ,skittles and pastel colored m and ms) in little pink boxes that looked like what Chinese take out is in.  There were balloons everywhere.  The plates were asian looking and the tablecloth a pretty burgundy.  We had a Chinese paper lantern and streamers.  It looked awesome.  The kids were so proud.  K got jewelry a box that Rob made for her, some make up and a Kindle.  She was so stunned to get a kindle.  It is funny cause I have had it in my closet for over a month.  LOL

The busy crew!  I love the fact that it was fun for them to prep for this.
Balloons are always big with our gang. Rob mans the helium tank.
The hanging Chinese lantern
Chet loved the little favor boxes.  He kept making believe they were little mouths and making these goofy sounds.  It was really very very funny!
Birthday gal

.The table before we demolished it at the party!

Monday, February 8, 2010


Yesterday was a crazy day.  I only took 2 of the kids with me to church, Rob and KC.  I had a religious ed mtg after church that would go till 2:30. Then at 3 was the final class for Rob's OWL group, a teen sexuality course that our denomination offers.  Parents were supposed to attend the final ceremony part way through the class. So I figured it was better for me to stay at church than to drive 30 minutes home, have a cup of tea and turn and go back to church.  It did mean that Kirsty had to drive to our church in the Big City and pick up KC and bring him home at 2:30.  He could have gone home much earlier but he actually loves hanging out with Robbie and Rob's best friend.  He totally thinks the 2 boys have godlike status and thankfully they are both amazingly good with young kids.  I think Rob's friend sort of enjoys the hero worship that KC so adoringly offers to him.

On the surface it sounds hectic and in some ways it was.  But the hiatus between the end of my meeting and the time when Rob's class allowed parents in to celebrate with them, gave me an opportunity to chat with some adult friends I don't always see or get to have in depth conversations with.  I also got a chance to read.

Our church has decided to have a "community read."  Unlike a book group there will not be sit down discussions at prescribed times.  Instead, a bunch of us will read the book and then probably wear a sticker or something that says "I read. . . . " and try to start conversations with others who might have read the book as well.  It could serve well as an icebreaker for talking with people we don't know and as our church is large enough to need a two service format we are always looking for ways to build community between the two groups of parishioners.

We also decided that the book would be a middle school book. Hopefully parents of "tweens" would be interested but also tween lit tends to be interesting and a fast read.  So people without lots of time to read would also be interested.  Grandparents might want to read to have something to discuss with grandkids --you get the idea.

The first book chosen was Rules by Cynthia Lord. The book is about a 12 year old girl with an autistic brother.  The rules are created by her to try and help her disabled brother navigate a neurotypical world.  I am about half way through--it is a fast read. 

But though simply written it is a book that is hitting me powerfully because of my Chet.  Because his life is rules.  Some of them hang on my fridge.  Oh, we call them 'routines."  But the bottom line is they ARE rules.  Eat breakfast.  Shave.  Brush teeth.  Ask what you can do to help.  Yes, the poster really says all those things.  Because he needs them to.  If they are not written down, or if something happens and they are not done in that order, he gets lost.  Forgets things, wanders around, totally at 6's and 7's.

And there are social 'rules.'  I spent hours acting out social situations with him when he was in 5th or 6th grade.  I did not at the time even know there was  a name for doing that kind of thing (social stories).  I just made up situations that happened routinely and we would act it out until a socially acceptable answer or response became ingrained.  The problem of course, is the gray areas, which is the issue that occupies the female lead character in the book.  I can teach Chet for instance to say "good morning, how are you today" and shake hands.  If the person answers with the typical generic good morning response we are golden.  If they suddenly answer in a different way, his response will be off the wall because he doesn't have a rule for that, a plan that can give him an appropriate answer for every eventuality in life.  There simply isn't one.

I try to give him as many "rules" as i can to enable him to function in the world.  He doesn't get emotions so he has had to memorize things that don't make sense to him.  It doesn't make sense to him to cry over something that happened long ago.  It.Is.Over.   A young child falling down does not respond well to being told "well now you know better and won't do that again. But why?  They have learned now. People don't want to know a physical attribute such as height when they ask how you are.  (he used to answer 'tall')  Since he isn't aware of feeling anything in particular it is not lying to simply say 'fine.'  People want to talk about themselves.  Ask a question they can answer.  etc. etc.

I see Kirsty's embarrassment at his behaviors in the feelings described by the sister in the story.  K has come to terms with much of it, but many times I am still the person who does the outings, the shopping the social experiences that he needs to be guided through. 

And I am grateful that when I am gone and Chet is still here and needs help, that there are 3 neurotypical siblings to share that work.  That love him for the person he is, even when they don't understand him, but that they can share the challenge together and not be bowed down with the burden of his differences the way Catherine in Rules is.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

1/6 of the Easter duds are done!

I am not exactly sure why Easter duds are important to me.   I am a UU pagan for goodness sake.  Easter in the terms embraced by my Christian friends is not a touchstone of my belief system.  But for some reason, that has absolutely no basis in logic, I love getting the kids spiffed up for Easter. Luckily 3 of the 4 love spiffing up.  Rob had actually come to me just after Yule and told me he had no suit.  He had a blazer for a number of years but had outgrown it.  Because he was in a big growth spurt I went with dress pants, nice sweater and shirt or vest and shirt for a couple of years while he got a chunk of that growing done.  I so didn't want to buy a suit and have it be knickers inside of 2 months and for a while he had that crazy pace of growing going on. 

But it seems to have moderated, now that he is taller than Kirsty he is taking a breather!  So his was the first clothing ordered for Easter.  I got the promised suit and he chose black stripes. He is all about black clothing, we are on the cusp of that lovely time when teens think black is well--all there is.  Chet got stuck there for something like 6 years. I hope Rob's time there is shorter!  LOL  He did agree to the pastel shirt and tie though when I reminded him we were not going to a funeral.  ROFL 

KC also has a black suit--his was given to me by a friend whose son outgrew it.  I am looking for a shirt of a similar hue. Chet is going with a mauve toned shirt and black pants.  No tie as he always looks and acts like you are strangling him (and that is with a clip on tie!!!) so in the interest of not alarming the entire congregation and having people heimlich him unnecessarily, we are skipping the tie.  Lissa will have a dress that has pink on it.  Most of hte other things are ordered but just are not in yet.  I am all about order on line!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Rites of early spring

My mom wrote the other morning that she heard a cardinal sing its mating song.  It was beautiful.  I told here here in our little corner of N.E. we celebrate the early spring and the lengthening daylight hours by trying to keep our dog away from the skunk that lives under our shed.  It has lived there since Robbie was 5.  Robbie is now 13.  It refuses to move.  We had a wildlife control guy bait for him one year.  Paid $120.00 to watch the guy bait this hav-a-hart trap wtih disgusting things skunks supposedly like (peanut butter and tuna fish eeew!) Every time he put the trap by one of the "doors" that the skunk has made under our shed the skunk would just stop using that door and dig another one.  I got sick of paying Wild Wayne the wildlife control guy. Wild Wayne got frustrated (and so embarrased he spent one afternoon helping us finish building our bulkhead because he felt so darn bad taking money and leaving us with our smelly friend.)  And the skunk stayed. 

And every year in early spring we stock up on tomato juice and massengil douche because--don't laugh--vinegar douche really helps kill skunk smell.

Or so I'm told.  I have almost no sense of smell.  I can tell a skunk has sprayed by eye irritation only.  My eyes are pretty darn irritated by now.  And I was not the one douching the dog.  I was the bottle opener, who passed them assembly line fashion to my wife who was standing outside in the freezing cold.  She would pour the goop on the shivering whining pooch while muttering ugly ephitets about skunks and stupid *&## dogs.  It's mating season for skunks and they are feeling frisky if I am to judge by Blake the dog's sorry condition!  In Georgia, they have Johnny Jump Ups blooming all ready. Here in N.E. we settle for the joy of skunk season!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Homeschooling Thoughts

I've been reading things on a few blogs about homeschooling.  We are homeschoolers too, though lately I don't think I have written much on that subject.  Dia over at Rancho Chico wrote of the achievements and changes she has noticed in their youngest, Milagro.  Shanti, over at Adoption is our nutshell (and I can't make a link work here but her blog is great!)  has just begun a homeschooling journey and is filled with excitement and perhaps equal parts trepidation.

I love homeschooling.  I remember the trepidation part, back when we first started with Chet so long ago.  I still feel it from time to time and find myself putting a mental yardstick against my kids and their traditionally schooled peers.  Are they learning enough?  Are their exposures wide and varied enough?  Yada yada.  I pride myself on not teaching to a test and not throwing out the arts for the sake of a grade, but I am still always self checking that knowledge meter.

The thing I love most about homeschooling though is the way it gives me a chance to know my kids more deeply and to be with them in a different way.  It has allowed learning to be a joyful experience for 3 of the 4 kids.  I have one who would prefer never to have to learn, never to have to risk.  But even he has moments when he doesn't just shine, but enjoys the process. 

This winter Elisabeth decided that she too was ready to homeschool.  That is something else I love.  That learning just is a natural, life long process.  You don't have to be a certain age, you just do it.  My mother got Lissa these really cool work books for her birthday.  Or maybe Yule.  The holidays are a blur folks!  Anyway, they are put out by the Kunan company and i adore this company.  I use them for KC's math and he has essentially been able to work independently on his math because of the learning system they employ. But I digress.  One of Lissa's books deals with cutting skills, another with stickers, another with folding and there is another one that escapes me at the moment.  We have begun with the sticker one.  In the picture of the little guy above, he had none of the stickers for his clothing on.  Her job was to peel them off and put them on appropriately.  Great fine motor work. Great for simple analytic thinking.  Great for talking about colors.  Great for her to do while I do geometry with Rob.  LOL  She does on average 3 to 4 pages a day. 
In some areas, I think she seems very advanced for 3.  She has a great crayon control (must have been all that practice on the living room wall when she was 2!) and can color in the lines of a simple drawing with amazing precision.  I never really did much coloring in the lines with KC till he was about 4 or so.  But that was because he always had a picture he wanted to draw on his own.  A craft that he thought up that he wanted to create.

Which leads me to my other homeschool joy.  Both types of children are equally smart and talented.  However the one who likes to color in the lines and is a bit less spontaneous?  That is (at least in my experience) the public school teachers dream!  (smile)  Not that I want to deprive any wonderful teachers out there of the joy of my daughter but my goal is to do for her the opposite.  I am glad she has great motor skills, but now we work on making up a story and illustrating it.  Thinking up something silly (a dog with wings) and trying to draw it.  Life isn't always in the lines and I want her to have the creativity and confidence to deal with that.  Just like I want to have KC to have the ability to rein  in his creative impulses when the need arises.

Rob totally made me proud this week when we were discussing that icky book Lord of the Flies.   It is a well written book.  I read it in school.  Chet read it in school.  Sigh.  So did Rob.  I can't help it.  I have never liked it.  But we had a great discussion on how literature could be great and not likeable.  We talked about allegories and the fact that the main characters were symbols of things that William Golding was trying to say about humanity.  And Rob in his quiet way, had insights.  I was beyond thrilled.

I got an email tonight that a local wildlife sanctuary that we frequent is trying to organize a homeschool trip to take a whale watch.  If they get enough signups I'll take the day off and take the kids.  All of them.  Alone, as K gets sea sick. Goddess help me!  But it will be fun.  And things like that too, are gifts to us as a family, gifts of knowledge and time shared together that I would not have were we not homeschoolers.

More on Fiona

I had a long email from Jane waiting for me when I got to work this a.m.  She has my home email too, but as i often jot a line from work, that must be the one foremost in her memory.  In some ways it eased my mind greatly.  First and foremost, Fiona will return to the Great School in the City.  I was sooooo so worried she would lose her placement. This has happened in the past, I am not just thinking of things to worry about. LOL This hospitalization aside, Fiona has made more strides here and had more people really on her side pulling for her than I have ever seen in the nine years she has been in my heart.  It is comparatively easy to create treatment teams for troubled children and I have seen scads of them for Fiona. Some of them I have been part of.  Sadly none of them really seemed truly functional. They were spin masters who could take the concerns I brought to the meeting and trivialize them.  They could sit there straight faced and tell me Fiona understood her med regime and was comfortable with it.  this after I told them how the child could not stay awake during a visit and had such tremors that she couldn't do a simple craft.  I could give more examples but it isn't really important because it is in the past, and i just didn't want it to become her new present.  And it looks like it won't.

Jane is probably the most amazing person I have ever worked with since I have come to know and love Fiona.  Part of her post to me expressed regret over the incident that happened at school and how she kept replaying it trying to see how it could have been prevented.  I am not being mean when I say no other professional has ever expressed that kind of sentiment to me.  And while they may well have felt it, it helps me to hear it.  I have those feelings too.  When Fiona is in a good phase I always second guess myself wondering if our home could have some how adapted and been a permanent placement for her.  I allow myself to minimize the terror we all felt.  I reframe in my mind the way things happened.  I wonder if I didn't try hard enough, wasn't brave enough.  And I shouldn't.  It is what it is, as my wife is fond of saying. 

Something else that Jane said was so on target.  Fiona is trying to be an 18 year old with the cognitive abilities of an 8 year old.  This coupled with physical, emotional issues, trauma history and oh so much more, make for a mountain for this girl to climb.  At 18 she still runs.  She still rages.  She still tries to self harm.  I don't know how to help her climb that mountain and i am glad Jane will still be part of our lives as we all work this through together.

We have decided that the term "med eval" is how we will address this with my kids.  I talked briefly with Rob about it last night.  He does best with me giving him info in smallish chunks when it is emotionally charged like this.  Today I want to remind him that his aunt (my sister) and his cousin (my niece) were both hospitalized for med evals within the past year.  There are things that make the situations not all that similar beyond the shared aspect of mental health concerns, but I think what he will get from it is that many people face this.  I don't want it to be something he is angry at his sister about and I sense that it could be. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fiona is being hospitalized

We couldn't talk w/ Fiona last evening.  Jane said she was okay but not able to talk.  She asked if we could do the call tonight, which was fine.  Then at work today I got an email that Fiona had run off school grounds and her behaviors had escalated and the school was supporting an emergency hospitalization for a med eval.  I am so sad.  I would have to sit down and try to count the number of hospitalizations she has had since we have been family and I would probably miss some.  I hope that they find a bed quickly, something that I know is a challenge.  I hope that she gets to return to the school she is presently attending.  Often things like that hinge on how quickly she is discharged from a hospital environment.  I hope I can find a way to keep at least written contact with her while she is in the hospital--this is often very challenging as I have to rely on social workers bringing the letters to her. 

Because I am Pollyanna (not really, but my family calls me that) I really always hope that things will be different for her.  That this placement will be the one where real healing can happen.  And in many respects I think this placement is her best, perhaps last chance at that occuring.  But healing hurts, and that coupled with her medical issues and her cognitive issues make for such a huge obstacles to overcome.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The last of the prescription saga

I really do believe in universal health care, all snide sarcasm of my prior post aside.  There  are too many people with no access to much needed care and it is a crime that a developed and comparatively wealthy nation like ours does not have this.  However, for me personally, health care is still falling short.  We finally got the scripts today. The pharmacist on duty even admitted that a 24 hour lag in getting antibiotics was not a good thing.  (in all seriousness for my wife, 24 hours with bronchitis can mean she is then in full blown pneumonia; that has happened to us twice)  Luckily neither myself or KC or Lissa were that desperately ill.  Still, the drugstore had the info all along and were just inefficient and not listening to my wife when she was calling about the scripts. Then we got the prescriptions home, and the doctors office had given me a penicillin off shoot, despite my chart indicating that I am allergic to penicillin.  We called and they said I could "try it" and "maybe" I wasn't allergic to it any longer.  Um, I don't really think so.  My reaction was significant enough in the past that i am reluctant to re-visit it.  So I am back to home grown remedies and sadly, nothing has really changed my perception that our health care system is profoundly and seriously broken.

Why I would vote for universal health care

OK so I have been feeling increasingly icky.  Yesterday I managed to get up at quarter of 6, feed the tribe and go back to bed and lie down till 7:30.  At that point I got up, got dressed and staggered to work.  I will be the only person in the office at least during the mornings for about 2 weeks while my coworker does unit inspections.  Therefore, being out of the office totally just wasn't an option.  I did minimal work, considering that I thought talking and being erect counted as major work. LOL  When my coworker returned, I went home and crawled back into the sanctuary of my bed.  I slept and tried to ignore the ringing in my ears, the congestion of head and chest and various other maladies.  My wife, kindly called our doctor.  Our doctor was on vacation.  She called the covering physician who determined that I likely needed an antibiotic at this point.  At 11:20 a.m. precisely the covering physician said they sent our pharmacy the script. 

Except that I still don't have it.  We checked all afternoon and into the evening. We checked early this morning.  My last name is a combo of my wife's last name and mine, so we checked under just one or the other, we checked under both, we checked with hyphen and without.  Nada.  And of course today, the unit inspections continue so I am back at work today.  Luckily the ear ringing is somewhat less and it is less of a marvelous achievement to sit erect, though breathing is still a work in progress.

So why are we as Americans so unwilling to share this wonderful bounty of health care with all citizens????  I think everyone should have the pleasure of such wonderful health care!