Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Maple Sugar Sunday

It occurs to me that I didn't write about the other half of our weekend.  We went to the state my mom lives in for a maple sugar festival.  Her state does a festival every year on the last Sunday in March.  We went once, when KC was still really little (maybe 1 1/2) but in the remaining intervening years we have not been able to go due to a variety of circumstances.  Most involved one or all of us being deathly ill.  This year, Kirsty said she was giving up on maple sugar Sunday and taking her Mom's runaway day that day. If I wanted to bet that we would be healthy enough to go, I would have to take the tribe to it on my own.  Gulp.  I have never driven to this state on my own.  I am without a doubt the most directionally impaired person you could ever meet.  When we re-sided our home we kept the color the same as the old asbestos tiles because everyone said I'd drive right past the house otherwise.  I laughed but acknowledge the possibility they may have been right.

OK so I signed on for this trip.  Kids were stoked.  We were going to a farm and then stopping at my mom's for lunch.  I admit it was slightly demented to do this after our trip into the Big City the day before, but I am all about going for the gusto. 

I went to bed at 10:30 Saturday figuring I needed to get a good nights rest.  I woke up at quarter to 1 with the worst stomach pain I have ever had in my life.  Truly I wanted to die.  I wasn't sick. Just had this horrible horrible pain.  I was awake till about 5 a.m.  Fell asleep and woke again at 6 because I still hurt.  I gave up and got up. 

Figured we would skip the festival, except when I told the kids, KC said "but this was my day to see my grandma."  Big tears rolled down his face.  I think had he pitched a fit, I would have been angry.  Felt sorry for myself and how crappy I felt.  But he was so sincere.  So we got in the car and went.

We saw oxen, watched how sap got boiled down over open fires in the past, saw the newfangled systems used today,listened to some great fiddle music,  and bought some maple treats for the kids and my mom.  Then went to my mom's for lunch and got back to our house by 4 p.m. or so.  And the picture of my kids petting the oxen has kept me smiling all week.

Oh, and by Monday night I felt great again.  I would have been kicking myself all week if we had missed the trip!

Processing the Visit

Fiona called last night with Jane and we processed the visit (sort of) and had our usual chat.  It was more of hte latter and a bit of the former.  What Fiona did want to know from me was what her brother Rob would like to talk about as she felt he was very quiet.  I explained that at his age Rob is all about sports so she has made a plan to talk to someone at her school about the Red Sox or the Patriots.  I tried to also get across gently that Rob is the kind of guy who will talk a bit (heavy stress on bit) like have those 3 or 4 sentences and then that is it for a while.  Unlike Fiona who has always been a talker, Rob is more like Dee their bio-brother who is also on the quieter side.  The plus here was that Fiona was really explaining herself well when she talked with me about this.  I was impressed at the flash of maturity that I could see in this part of the conversation.

We are looking toward a June visit, which Jane emailed later that Fiona was a little sad it was so far out.  However I also know that Fiona has no time sense and by the day after tomorrow (or today!) she will most likely not feel upset about it.

The little kids clamored for turns to talk to her and I suspect she could hear that over the phone.  Actually I suspect people in other counties heard it! LOL  Jane sent me another email thanking me for the visit and saying that she thought I must have been exhausted by the trip.  Oddly I wasn't; I think I was just so excited and nervous about seeing Fiona again that it tamped down anything else that I could possibly feel.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Going on a Whale Watch!

Some weeks ago the wildlife sanctuary where we do a lot of homeschool related classes asked if we were interested in participating in a whale watch experience.  I asked Rob and KC and they were very excited.  Lissa would of course be going too. Chet with his motion sickness issues would not.  I called and said I would love to bring the 3 kids. They started registering me and when they got to Lissa there was a big ole "oh no" from their end of the phone line.  They felt Lissa at 3 was too young to go.

OK, no problem, I said.  Take us off the list, because while she may not know whales from  goldfish snacks she is sure going to know her brothers got a cool boat ride and she didn't.  And my girl has LUNGS and it truly wasn't worth hurting her feelings. I realize that I am rather odd.  We mostly do things together and I find that by and large littles who are properly supervised can enjoy experiences that are older than their calendar age.

They reconsidered!  They called today and said all of us could go and  they could do transportation from our central Mass location to the ocean.  How totally cool is that? I all ready submitted and got my vacation day request approved.  So think good weather thoughts for April 23rd when the 3 kids and I will sail the seas looking for whales!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Are visits earned?

I had a great email from Jane at work today.  Actually it was a copy of an email  she sent to Fiona's treatment team detailing Saturday's visit.  It was great to sort of see the visit through her eyes and there was such happiness in what she wrote, and such kindness in her words about us that I glowed all day. 

My mom I think, doesn't get any of this.  I know she cares about Fiona in a sort of detached way.  But she thinks I "think about her too much."  And she told me that she was glad the visit had gone well and was over, because it must have been an ordeal.  I know she meant that in a nice way. But ordeal?   That is not exactly the word that sprang to my mind, or that I thought my details would convey.  OK I let that one slide.

Then today when I told her about Jane's comments, and that we would plan another visit, she said that Fiona should "earn" them.  Sigh.  There was my mom, in the same rut that so many clinicians had been in during the years I have been part of Fi's life.  And it. does. not. work.

See in order for that type of thinking to work, there are several big things that have to exist.

1.  The person has to believe that they are worthy of the reward.  Not only does Fiona not believe that, I don't think being with family should be a reward.

2.  The person has to have some level of time sense and an ability to wait for things.  Fiona due to cognitive delays and mental health issues does not.  She doesn't know the days of the week.  She can say them, but they don't have a time relevance for her and she doesn't notice their passing. She can not comprehend a calendar.  A reward program for Fiona has to have virtually immediate gratification.  i.e.  no outbursts= a reward that day.  This type of situation doesn't lend itself to family visits which can not be with that level of frequency and that spontaneous given the distance involved. 

I don't mind that my mom doesn't know that.  I do mind that I don't think she wants to learn.

We are family

OK, one of the weird things I obcess about is what we are to Fiona.  I think in part this is because when you deal with all the professional folks that are part of this young woman's life, they have to categorize you.  So I have worn many hats, so to speak.  I have been the pre-adoptive mom.  I have been the educational surrogate.  I have been the visiting resource.  Then she got yanked way the heck away from us and i wasn't able to be even a visiting resource.  When I would call and try and get updates from the social worker at the time, she would not return my calls in a timely manner.  I get that they are overworked; I am too.  But 2 seconds to tell me that the child is getting my mail?  You can't do that?  You can't tell me if she is stable?  Seriously, I had the DSS unit on speed dial at work because I would leave messages about 3 times a day for 2 to 3 weeks in order to get a call back.

Then there were the placements where clinicians stressed to me that 'all' I was was Fiona's brothers adoptive mom.  The implication was sad.  It was like I had no place in her life.  That none of us did except Rob.  And saddest of all, Rob is still trying to sort out their relationship and his very conflicted feelings surrounding Fiona.  He doesn't write to her.  He does talk briefly on the phone, and now that we can visit occasionally, he does participate in that. And he seems happy when we visit, but somewhat guarded.  But he had years of being afraid of her.  Then he had a lot of time when at the insistance of social workers I dragged him to visits with Fiona when it meant missing times with the friends that he had made.  We would make the 90 minute one way trip only to find she was raging and could not see us.  Then we would drive 90 minutes home and the party he had been invited to was all ready done.  Trust me, this doesn't make for great sibling bonding.

So the short version is that I have become accustomed to elaborate justication when talking with each new clinician.  I tell them the whole story (because I have found they usually don't know it for whatever reason).  I explain that regardless of the fact that I am not legally anything to Fiona, that I love her.  That people should not just disappear from someone's life because they are not able to live together.  That constancy is the one gift I can give her.  Some of them get it, some fight me.  Luckily the school she is in now supports this type of  connection.  But the years of justification have left me wandering in that no mans land of  -what am I? 

Clearly I am dense.  Because on Saturday when we were at the library, KC proudly told the librarian that after we got done there, we would be going on a bus, a train and a taxi.  The librarian asked him if he was going to go see a special show.  Without missing a beat, KC said "no, just going to go visit some family."

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fiona's Visit a Success!

We are safely home from our trek to the big city.  It had a few glitches but all went well.  The first glitch was my stupidity when I tossed our back pack in the back of the Scion. I did not notice that the thin top strap was entangled with the mechanism that closes the door.  Got to the train station adn the back of the car would not open and when I discovered why, I could not yank the strap loop free.  Being not one to miss a visit for my lack of brain cells I literally walked up to the first person I saw and asked if they had a sewing kit and could try to cut the strap off.  (it helped that this was a woman!)  And she did have a kit with scissors. And her husband manfully used those dinky little scissers to saw through the strap and we boarded our bus with time to spare.

The change to a train was uneventful and fun.  We got seats that faced each other which was reassuring to the kids.  We got to the ending station in the Big City.  It was cold.  Freezing in fact.  And hordes of people were in town for a major league hockey game.  I sure pick my travel dates well! LOL  But I found a security officer who happily pointed me to the right exit (there are many and i wasn't hauling kids around to test them out!) and i called the cab that Jane had said would transport us.  15 minutes they said. The problem being that the kids were turning into popsicles.  8 minutes into the wait, I caved, called and cancelled the cab and hopped in one in a long line of cabs waiting in front of me.  He GPS'd the school and we were there in jig time.

It is a beautiful place.  If you have had kids in RTC's you know there are good ones and down right crappy ones.  And ones that try hard and fall somewhere in between.  I have honestly seen the good the bad and the ugly in my  years with Fiona.  This is the creme de la creme of schools.  It is warm, inviting and well kept.  It is in a fairly tony neighborhood and though a part of the Big City, it is quiet.  No blaring horns etc. Quiet parks around it, nice play spaces, sunny bright class rooms.  I am in love with this place.

We toured the whole area.  We played basketball, we talked.  And the time flew by far too quickly.  No time for scrapbooks or crafts as before we knew it, Jane was letting us know that the cab to bring us back to the train station was on the way.

I know I have more to say about this day.  So much is swirling in my head.  But I am tired and no one wants to read a book.  We'll make it like one of those installment novels from by-gone days!  LOL  (no I am not old enough to remember those, but my mom told me about how a chapter would be in the newspaper each week when she was growing up!)

For now, it is enough to be safely home.  To know that Fiona truly knows we love her.  To know that we can see her again.   

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Planes Trains and Automobiles

Well really I think it is taxis, trains and automobiles!  The big trip to see Fiona is coming up on Saturday and her clinicians and I are working hard to hammer out the last details.  We are overprogramming so that there will be no awkward moments.  My kids all respond at their best in situations where they are doing something.  And they will have had a long train ride as well so I am all about incorporating energy burns.  I have to stop at the local craft store tonight to get stuff for a quick and easy cooperative craft.  I am thinking some kind of wall hanging that we could each make and everyone could work on a piece of everyone elses.  We are bringing pictures to add to Fiona's scrapbook. The kids are choosing theirs tonight and i printed mine off this morning.  I chose the picture of my Easter clothes. Since Fiona just went on a shopping trip I thought she would love to see what I got via my mail order shopping trip.  And she really is all about style so I think it will be well received.  We will bring the camera to take pictures.  I will bring lots of healthy and semi healthy snack foods.  My kids eat lots of mini meals when we travel to keep blood sugars stable and tummys settled. 

Apparently when I arrive at the train station in the Big City I can use my cell phone and call a cab company that the school contracts with for vouchers and thus I don't have to pay for the cab to the school.  That is really nice and very helpful.  The idea of either trying to navigate my way there via subway or jumping out into the street trying to find a cab were causing a certain amount of stress on my part.

I am sort of nervous about this.  It has been almost 6 years since we have seen Fiona.  KC was still in an infant car seat when she was moved by the state far away from us and she has had 2 hospitalizations and 2 other treatment placements since that day.  I remember crying all the way back from our goodbye dinner and feeling like some part of me had been ripped away.  Since that time I have always kept in contact with weekly notes, calls when allowed, but this is different.  It feels good. It feels exciting. But scary too.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More on the Easter duds

OK this is purely silly.  Here is a picture of the dress I decided on for Easter and the kickin shoes I found to go with it!  I have NEVER had purple pumps.  I feel like I am channeling Imelda Marcos or something.  I adore shoes.  This was all clearance and amazingly cheap--I mean FRUGAL!  Likely last years styles which I care not a whit about.  And the plum tones and the pink stripe will coordinate w/ Chet and Lissa and the two younger boys coordinate w/ each other with blue tones. We are set with our Easter finest folks!
I left work early yesterday as I had a migraine.  I made it till 2:15 and I usually leave at 4 so it wasn't like I used a lot of sick time.  By rights I probably should have left hours earlier but I am stubborn to a fault when it comes to showing up at work.  That work ethic was drilled into me from my earliest days.  My family's idea of a vacation was to go paint our house, build an addition etc.  It was never about lazing about and everyone always worked multiple jobs and calling out was for wimps.  Ah the programming of our youth.  Any wonder that sometimes I despair of re-writing some of the programming at least one of my children got the first years of his life?

It wasn't all that quiet at home.  4 kids make a fair amount of noise even when they are obviously trying not to.  And the house diagonally behind us is being demolished and heavy equipment was hard at work.  The house is in essence all gone now, the scene of a tragic fire months ago where a young teen lost his life.  I am glad it is gone.  It made my stomach clench every time I walked past the charred remains and I would remember that night, the screams, the uncontrollable power of fire.  Not that I will forget, nor should I, but a less visual reminder is very healthy.  The family who owns the property is rebuilding and I hope that they too are finding a way to move forward.

This morning my head hurts but it is with what I always call the memory of the migraine.  A mere shadow of what yesterdays pain was.  It is all good.  The kids are always relieved and happy to see me up and about. Although I did come down for supper last night ,I was sort of missing in action for vast parts of the evening.

So it was a noisy busy homeschooling morning before I left for work.  I challenged KC to write his full last name without copying and he did it.  Yahoo!  His goal has been to learn this by the time he turned 6 so he can apply for his library card on his 6th birthday.  He has a long last name due to K and I marrying.  I didn't want to anger her family so we kept both last names and so his name is roughly akin to something  long like KC Smithfield Corona.  For the past couple weeks he has practiced this and today he wrote the whole thing correctly first try.  Then he decided he was on a roll so he did some work that will prepare him for counting by 2's. He can all ready count by tens.

Lissa is doing her color matching workbook and today I gave her multiple crayons (one crayon more than she needed incidently) and had her match the correct color on 4 separate work book pages on her own. She did very well and only needed minimal help to grasp the concept.

Rob worked on the principles of inclusion in algebra with diligence if not enthusiasm. (laugh) and did very well. From there he moved onto an essay assignment on the book we just read A Wrinkle in Time

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Crazy Busy

So yesterday was a gloriously beautiful spring day. And instead of hiking or performing a ritual, or planting, I was cooped up inside with 8 other people on the Religious Ed committee at our church.  I was so annoyed.  However, my annoyance passed remarkably quickly when I could see the real committment the rest of the committee had to the day and the work before us.  I am a co chair on this committee--not quite sure how that happened.  This retreat day typically has a lot of "visioning."  With no aspersions to the visionaries out there, I am not one.  I am a do-er.  My style is more a quick efficient assessment of needs and then a quick accurate plan of attack that we review in 6 months to see if it is working. Anyone watch Project Runway?  Tim Gunn is always saying "make it work people,"  and that is me.  Get going and get doing.   I get that most people don't think like that.  It may be a function of the busy life I lead that has resulted in this type of outlook.  Or it may just be that I was hardwired this way at birth.  I truly don't know.

What I do know is that yesterday we managed to combine both my need for relatively quick and concise work with the dadgum visioning that others feel crucial to their experiences and it worked.  I even had people on the committee thank me afterwards for keeping things moving along.  Hmmmm!  We finished at 3:30 instead of 4 so I was home at a 1/2 way decent time.  Had supper with the family and a great night at the park.  Today is our last good weather day for a while so we have eeked out every glorious outdoor moment that we could.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Of Beads and park swings

The on-set of warmer weather and day light savings time has meant that we have been outside after supper.  We love this. We have gone for walks and are spending a lot of time up at the local park.  Last night the park had lots of kids; everyone was feeling stir crazy and the weather was gorgeous.  There were probably 5 other black children there which was neat.  One mom I know vaguely from a couple times that we connected last summer. She is really nice and we enjoy chatting.  Her son is around Lissa's age and has this munga head of hair.  It was just pulled back in this very messy queue last night and the mom noticed Lissa's braids and beads.  She asked where I get them done and I said we do them ourselves.  She shared that she wants to cornrow her son's hair but doesn't know how.  I don't really cornrow yet so I couldn't offer to help but I did tell her about the internet tools I have used to help me along the hair care journey. 

It was funny though as my first thought was shock when she said she didn't know how to braid.  (not even the cheater way that we do Lissa's) And that is such a stereotype.  I have made no bones about the fact that I can't take care of my own hair with any degree of artistry. I can wash it. I can comb it.  I can sometimes make it curl slightly. That's about it folks. I could write a whole other blog entry of the time we almost had to cut hot rollers out of my hair, or how last week trying to color it gave me a major allergic reaction etc.  So why think this woman would just know how to braid?

I think the reason is that so many other black friends and acquaintences that I have spoken with have all said how important  braid skill is.  Now maybe this is just a test for a white adoptive mom. I also have one friend who candidly told me that if I was black it would not be a big deal if I had a messy headed child, but that it would be a big deal because I am not black.  Maybe because I want so badly for my children to be comfortable with their racial identity, I have worried more about this than I ever would if my children shared my ethnic heritage.  Now I just need to learn how to corn row!  (grin)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Top o' the Mornin!

Well of COURSE we celebrate St. Patricks Day here!  Nope, not Catholic.  Nope, not Irish. But I subscribe to the fun of the holiday.  And what is not to love about rainbows, pots of gold and funny little leprecaun tricksters?  Last night the wee folk visited our house.  Luckily KC left out a potato which everyone knows leprecauns adore.  In return they left tiny green shamrock covered cups with rainbow candy inside. (skittles or m and ms)  But because they are tricky, before they left they turned our toilet water green.  The chortles from the bathroom were priceless!  LOL

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring Approaches

On 3-2-10 (note numerical symmetry!) K and the kids clipped some forsythia branches from the yard and brought them inside to force.  It has been fun for the kids to watch the gradual changes in the plant.  The subtle color changes, the buds swelling, it was all very magical.  And that magic is the essence of spring to me.  The leap that mother earth takes from bare and barren to lush and fertile.  Despite my allergies it is a much anticipated time for me.

Sunday there was a guest choir at church.  When I saw my friend Raven and his fellow singers enter the church I was both excited and morose in equal measure. It was great to see him--we have been friends via a homeschool list since Chet was young. We used to see each other regularly but his daughter is grown now and our homeschooling of the younger kids has led in other directions somewhat.   I was obligated to work in KC's classroom and knew I wouldn't hear their beautiful music.  I snuck in and listened to bits of the rehearsal but couldn't really stay and focus on the magic (yup, there's that word again) of the music.  Part of my mind was on class and what we would be doing with the children.  I am not all that good about staying in the moment.

After church I was washing paintbrushes when my Chet came to me all excited.  Raven wanted me to come into the sanctuary.  My fellow teacher came with me and the rest of my own kids.  And I was gifted with the most beautiful equinox song I have ever heard.  Sound and praise and beauty and joy swelled around us.  Truly I was honored  to receive the gift of music.  For a few moments I watched my kids faces as the songs strains began to transport them and then I gave myself up to the music and just let it fill me.  It, and our forsythia, were the most beautiful welcomes to the coming spring that I could imagine.

Art Show!

Sunday was the long awaited ART SHOW!  All galleries have signs announcing their shows and ours was no exception.

The artist was very excited that the big day had arrived at last. He helped mount all the art and chose the way it would be displayed.
This is one of  KC's favorite pictures. 

So is this one.  VanGogh's starry starry night anyone? LOL

This is my favorite one. 

Guest artist Lissa made this rainbow.

And guest artist Rob created this masterpiece.

It was hard to choose which art to take pictures of. The gallery filled an entire wall of our dining room.  The kids godparents loved seeing all the creations as well.  It was extremely cool to sort through their art with them and see what they loved the most and how much their art and perspectives on their world have changed over the past few months.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Sleepy Saturday?

It is cold raw and rainy so I suspect some folks slept in today!  Not at our house though.  They were all up so early that I decided we might as well go to the grocery store at 7:30 and do our shopping.  We did. Came home, unloaded, put all away, and went to 2 banks, the post office and got the Scion inspected.  Then it was 9:30 and time for dance class.  Did that, went to the library, and went to get Rob new sneaks and a pair of jeans.  Also found a shirt on clearance for $2.49 for KC, new undies for him too.  Oh and a great deal on a clearance jumper and shirt for Miss Lissa. 

The kids love the Scion. They have named it "Azul" and call it "zuuly"  All our cars have names, and I have to confess that even before kids, all my cars had names.  While we were in the library parking lot an older fellow noticed us getting out of  Zuuly and he had an identical model to ours. Said it was pretty roomy if you didn't have 23 kids. LOL  I said not to be alarmed; I had one more at home too.  Loved the look on his face.  He wasn't mean about it, I think he was just genuinely surprised as the doors kept opening and kids kept coming out of it.  Anyway always good to hear a happy owner story!

I may do the shopping early like that from now on.  We are almost always up and all it means is that I need to write the shopping list the night before, instead of in the morning.  Not a big deal and it might make the day flow better.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The demise of "little blue"

Back in 2001 I got a used 1998 metro.  It was cute, it was standard (I adore driving standard) and it was great on gas.  I only drive a 6 mile commute per day and as right around then our family began to expand, Little Blue was really mostly just for me to drive to work.  Usually the van was used for family trips and the only time the metro functioned that way was if only part of the family went some where.  We tend to travel as a pod so that didn't happen often.

You can imagine that a car driven in this manner doesn't rack up the miles quickly.  In fact, as of tonight this car only had 71K on it.  But it was time to let Little Blue meet her maker.  Back in the end of January she flunked safety and emmisions.  It was supposedly just a rocker panel and resetting the engines computer.  My boss knew a guy who knew a guy who would fix the rocker panel cheaply.  Except that the guy fell off the face of the earth and so I eventually decided I would have to take the metro to my pricey but trustworthy mechanic.  That decision became a bit more pressing when the old dear began to leak gas last night.  I drove her over today and they called me at work, essentially issuing a DNR order for her.  Structurally much more was wrong than the inspector or myself thought and not only would repairs vastly exceed the car's value, my mechanic could not vouch for the cars stuctural safety even with those efforts.  So I went and redeemed my leaky dying Metro and went car shopping.

I stopped at a dealership on a whim.  It was raining and I prowled around the lot, surprised to find 3 cars with manual transmissions.  Options people!  I talked with the guy there and in another weird twist of fate, my mechanic goes over this guys cars before he sells them!  Talk about feeling like the goddess was guiding me.  I tried a Scion and it handled very well.  It is an 06 and has 55K miles on it, a one owner car.  Financing approval took 30 minutes.  I signed papers and they will do the registry and insurance run for me tomorrow and i can pick it up after work.

The only downside is that I hate car payments and have not had any for years.  Sigh.  Such is life though and a safer vehicle is nothing to sneer at.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Tuesday night call

Last night when Fiona called she sounded very nervous.  She always starts by talking to me.  She said she had something important that she had to ask me and that she hoped I would say yes. Eventually in a big rush out came the words: "would you want to ever come visit me and would you do it."  It was like a little flood of words. If you were listening to the plea, there were not spaces between them.  Jane has not told Fiona about the visit that is planned. I suspect that this is so that Fi can do things like learn to voice her desires by expressing them to us.  I assured her that we did want to see her and we would plan a visit and I could actually hear the exhalation of relief.  How inexpressiblly sad to me that life has so conditioned her to believe that the response will be 'no.'  But after I assured her of that she didn't want to talk to me any more.  She asked me to put KC on, which sort of threw me as I try to always have Rob speak first.  But she and KC love to talk about art and she had just bought new art supplies yesterday and wanted to share that with him.  I am glad that they have that connection.  She and Rob share a birth connection but haven't a lot of common interests.  I suspect that if  Fiona wanted to talk about the Patriots signing Lee Bodden or releasing Jarvis Green they would do fine.  LOL

Much like Thorn at "Mother Issues" a lot of my relationship with Fiona has just been about constancy.  I am not legally her parent but I am consistantly present in whatever way distance and the state allow at any given time.  And I think that she is slowly seeing that families are made in many different ways, and that people who love you don't have to be related by blood.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fun Visit With Friends

Today had an added twist to our Saturday fun.  After our usual tranquil morning (LOL) of banking, post office, library, dance class and shopping, we had an invite to a pot luck party at a friends house up the street.  Their daughter is a friend of my kids and the mom and dad and I made friends while our kids played at the nearby park.  I brought arroz con gandules (and the kids.)  LOL  It was  a really enjoyable time.  I suspect my wife is very glad she was working and not at the gathering. She doesn't like meeting new people and everyone except the hosts were new to us.  But interesting people and great fun to talk with. One couple were art professors and I loved talking with them about art exhibits they had seen recently.  They had vacationed in Puerto Rico as have I and they even knew gandules were pidgeon peas (which in my day to day circle most folks don't know!) Another couple were equally friendly and interesting, and then there was a lady whose house we walk past all the time.  She has pet ducks and we often take a walk to see her ducks.  Never actually met the ducks' person before today but she is very nice.  So we spent an enjoyable couple of hours visiting and eating and playing with the kids and then I excused us as for poor Blake this was not a great Saturday.  He has to be crated when we are not at home and today made for much more crate time than is usual. So he is now cuddled on the couch getting extra loves for his earlier inconvenience!

Friday, March 5, 2010

An Art Show on Sunday?

Sometimes I totally wonder where the creative sparks come from that fire in my 5 year old son's brain.  Last night when I got home from work there was an "invitation" that he had made to 'KC ART SHO' to be held on Sunday.  He spent most of last evening after supper sorting his art and deciding what he wanted to include in the show.  I told him I would most definately come and asked how we were going to hang the art so that people could see it.  He envisions  lines going across the living room "but only if the pellet stove isn't on Ooma."  Good to know he remembers my hypervigilant behavior about paper and pellet stoves.  It is supposed to be warm this wkend though (50 degrees!!!) so I suspect we can do the show in the living room.  I'll try and remember to take pictures.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Celebrating Spring

I know it isn't officially here yet but we all have a case of spring fever going at our house.  Kirsty has been doing some heavy duty spring cleaning and our house gleams with the love she is showering on it.  The kids have been playing in mud outside (which may somewhat defeat the aforementioned efforts of Kirsty!)  . . . and we have ordered our seeds for our  community garden.  We plan to grow heat tolerant lettuce (this is a new variety we are trying), basil, tomatos for canning in sauce and salsa, squash and something else that escapes me at the moment.  For our small gardens around our house we have ordered marigolds and zinnias.  We all ready have some nasturciam and morning glory seeds.  I have ordered the sunflower seeds I blogged about earlier so that we can be part of a citizen science project.  Bring on spring!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A date to visit Fiona

We had a phone call w/ Fiona as usual last night.  You can't know how wonderful it is for that to be "usual" to us now.  She was very chatty and upbeat.  She did a great job introducing us to the two staff people who were there with her supervising the call. 

I emailed Jane today when I got to work letting her know the call went well as she was not one of the staff present. I also offered two different dates for visits, a Friday or a Saturday.  Jane chose the Satuday and we will train to the Big City and at the train station a school van will pick us up and take us to Fiona's School in the Big  City.  (yup I actually think about this in caps when I am lying in bed guys!  I am so not a city gal!) Jane was afraid I would be upset that our visit will only be an hour long.  Our commute to the school will be substantially greater than that.  It isn't a problem and I explained that to Jane.  I have intentions to make the ride via train an exciting part of the adventure to see Fiona. 

Jane wanted to know what ideas I had for activities and I am thinking that if I could find an easy arts and crafts thing, that there were 4 of we could help the kids each do something on each of them. Like if they were giant foam flowers, then everyone would decorate a little bit of each one and then each kid would have something we had all been part of when we go home. I don't know really what else would be possible to do; I am not familiar with the campus or its surroundings so I hope Jane has a few suggestions for us.

I am so psyched that we finally have a date down on the calendar now.  And Jane seems pleased.  I get the sense from her email that KC's connection w/ Fiona is what is driving the visit engine.  She said that when KC asked to see her, Fiona said she had "some things she had to work on first."  Jane feels this is a phrase she heard a lot from clinicians instead of the word "no."  Jane asked her what she thought she had to work on and she had no idea.  Jane asked her when she thought she would be ready and she said in a couple of years.  Jane felt this was very sad but I also know Fiona has totally no time sense so I think it was a random choice of words and less significant than if I had said that for instance.  I don't think she is really afraid of a visit, I think somehow she has either absorbed an idea or been told in other placements that visits didn't happen because of her, when in reality it was a lack of staff communication and the great distance that the state moved her from us.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cool science experience on the horizon

I remember when homeschooling was definately a "fringe" group.  Kind of viewed like they were all ultra conservative Christians (and I am not knocking those who are--just that in our area, back in say the 80s there were no homeschool groups that were not Christian). When I even tried to sort of join such a group figuring that although we would not fit theologically, surely our shared passion for learning would allow us to bond I was politely but firmly informed I was not welcome and "would not be happy there."  Well maybe, maybe not, I have a pretty amazing capacity to bloom where I am planted.  LOL  But I strongly suspect that a gay pagan of a differently abled child was not what they were up for. So we agreed to soldier on alone.

Except that thanks to the internet, it wasn't really alone. I found a cool group of pagan homeschoolers on line (which eventually became two groups) and for years they were my lifeline as we homeschooled our Chet.  It was sort of because of us that homeschool programs eventually were developed at a local wildlife sanctuary as we found ways to utilize work at hte sanctuary to supplement his curricula experiences.

Now, homeschooling is so not the fringe. It is decidedly more common, and almost mainstream. At my church there are a fair number of homeschoolers and we are from all walks of life and all have rather different approaches to the education of our various children.  But we share a love of learning and that has been a real gift of this journey.

You can't stagnate if you homeschool. And I love watching my kids minds explore, roll ideas around and then spit out questions or hypothesis.  I like watching Rob wrestle with a topic and come up with a really meaty concept--something that i know in public school he would manage to avoid (making paper airplanes and chatting with peers being of greater fascination.)  I like watching Lissa develop her early spatial concepts when she works in the mornings, and having KC share his insights.  (tonight at shower time he wanted to know how it was that a chicken egg was warm after it was laid.)

So when a friend at church shared information on her blog about a citizen science project, we were all in!
The Sunflower Project allows us to help provide critical data about bee populations.  We will grow a particular type of sunflower (I all ready ordered our seeds) and grow them in pots in one of the few sunny areas of our yard.  Then for 15 minutes each day we will chart how many bees if any visit our plants and then enter our info via computer.  I considered doing this up at our community garden but it would be harder to be consistant with the observation time there.  We consume a fair amount of honey in our house, and the kids are reasonably well versed in how crucial bees are to the food we consume.  But to find out some hard facts about the bee population in our area is a different slant on things and they are intrigued.  Let's hope for a good growing season so our plants will be fruitful.  Sadly the sunflowers I planted last year washed away in the 6 weeks of rain that passed for our New England spring!

Happy March 1st!

A new month always feels (well almost always) so pregnant with possibilities. Things to explore and do, (fun) tasks to do (less fun) family times, church times.  It is a pause where there is this momentary blank slate, where I am not looking at the calendar going "OMG only 3 more days left to get thus and so done."  I love it!

My kids love the beginning of a new month too. What can I say, I have passed on my weirdness.  They all get a calendar and they ceremoniously hang up the new page, or in the case of Rob, turn the page.  They love to dream about what will happen that month.  This month there is all ready on the docket a get together at a friends on Saturday, St. Patricks Day, the first day of spring and Maple Sugar Sunday at the state that my mom lives in.   I wonder what other challenges and treasures the blank squares will hold for us?

Today for instance, KC informed me, is "my lucky day."  When I asked what he meant he said that when they make muffins at home I never get any. (true; they all eat an entire batch!) He apparently has been thinking about this and his plan is to have K help he and Lissa make a batch of our favorite muffins (muffins that taste like donuts is their official name) and bring that and a coffee from Dunkins to the office for me.  Now how cute and how caring is that?