Thursday, April 29, 2010

May Day Plans

My grandmother taught me how to make May baskets back when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I was about 5 or 6  years old.  She died when I was 9 and I continued to make them every year.  They are pretty and although I make far fewer than she did, I love doing it and it makes me feel connected to her.  She also used to make about 5 kinds of fudge to put in them.  I don't do that!  LOL  I use flowers or one batch of candy or small trinkets.  Or oatmeal.  But I digress.

My mom saves cornmeal boxes for me as these are the base of the baskets.  I save them too but also use them for other crafts during the year, so her help in that regard is great.  But I have always been a last minute gal about running out to get the crepe paper.  This is not crepe paper in streamers.  It is long sheets of crepe paper that are then cut and twisted and wrapped round the basket.  The basket itself winds up looking somewhat like a flower when it is done.  Last year I had enough crepe paper in my "stash" that I didn't need to buy any. 

Somehow I looked at the calendar yesterday and went EEEKS!  It is April 28th.  You have made zero May baskets so far!!!  I went to my stash.  A few paltry pieces of crepe paper remained.  Then it hit me.  The small mom and pop store where I bought my supplies for this went out of business 2 years ago.  Between road construction on the street where  they were located and competition from a big box party store, they could not hold on.  So I called big box party store.  They don't sell it.  I called the local craft store.  They don't sell it.  Sigh. There is no where locally now for me to get this.  I did manage to find an on line source last night, so I can order for next year, but for this year, it is slim pickings.

Back to the oatmeal.  My mom had some blood work done this past week.  Her triglicerides were high and she was told she may be pre-diabetic.  (except mom refuses to hear the word PRE and keeps freaking out!) She is on a med for this and has to significantly change her diet.  This is not fun for her.  She said not to send fudge.  She is usually the one person who gets a batch of fudge in her basket.  I am not sending fudge.  I am sending organic oatmeal, almond butter and stevia.  LOL

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Whale watch pictures!

I wanted to put up a couple of the pictures that Rob took on the whale watch.  Getting shots was tricky for him.  There were lots of people and after the whales dove, they didn't necessarily come back up where you thought they would!  :-)

This is a picture of the blow from a whale coming up to breathe.  I love this shot!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My little healer?

Yesterday I woke up with a headache that rapidly decided just being a headache wasn't enough and moved on to migraine status.  I did all my usual things, sunglasses, Excedrin Migraine formula and thought I was winning the battle in the morning. 

After lunch we were supposed to go to my niece's house (over an hours drive) to celebrate her son's first birthday.  The kids were super excited.  I was super excited.  And i had this headache from Hades.  The first interesting thing was that KC just walked past me in the kitchen and put his hand on my head (I was picking something up off the floor)  and said "your head ache is so bad."  I figured it was just that he had seen me take meds earlier in the day.

We did set off for my nice's but the driving was not doing nice things for the head so I got off the highway about 15 minutes in to the drive and headed home.  I would not have been in party mode  by the time we got there. LOL  The kids were really understanding about the fact we didn't go.  I am amazed at that.

This morning when he got up, KC put a hand on my head before he asked how I was feeling. He smiled and said "good, I don't feel the headache at all today."  Wild!

Friday, April 23, 2010

And they all had a whale of a time!

Today was our long awaited whale watch!  The weather was lovely--chilly but lovely.  Seas were mostly calm. Dramamine also works well!  LOL  Actually no one seemed to have any ill effects so I don't know if we even needed the medical aid but I figured I wasn't going to get half way into a 5 hour boat trip and find out we should have done it.

K graciously drove us the hour and 45 minutes to the boat launch and planned quiet things to do until our return.  She brought her kindle and read by the ocean, took a walk,had a nap,  found a nice restaurant for a leisurely lunch.  She enjoyed it.

But back to the real thing--the whale watch!  Did we ever luck out!  We saw fin back whales and hump backed whales.  They didn't just swim around for us.  They breached their heads out of the water.  The banged their flippers on the water (which is amazingly loud incidently!) They breached their tails and one did a full body jump thing.  Absolutely amazing. 

It was neat to watch the kids experience this.  The two younger kids are pretty fearless around water.  Rob has always been less happy with water.  He can swim but only because it is my personal family rule that all people must learn to swim.  I could tell that when we got far enough out that there was no land in sight, that he was not in a comfortable place.  He just sat in his seat, while we got up to go to the rails and look out.  I would invite him, but he would decline.  That was okay with me.  I just wanted him to know I would love to have him with us if he could do it.  I also put him in charge of the camera, figuring that would take his mind off thinking about the Titanic, or whatever other gloomy castastrophe was running through his head. 

It worked. Gradually he began to take pictures and by the time the whales were breaching, he too was at the rails. I am glad that he could ultimately relax into the experience.  He thanked me tonight at bed for bringing him and said he would like to go again some day so it was not just a great day for whale watching, but for Rob's development as well.

A long day though, as we left the house at 9 a.m. and didn't get home till 7:30 this evening.  Tired children have been showered and I am chugging down hot tea with the desperation borne of many hours without tea or coffee.  Because both littles were in my arms or on my lap or otherwise draped across my body all day, I had no safe way to injest hot beverages.  So I am seriously glugging tea right now.  But it was an amazing, magical day and  I am so glad we had this to share together.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Bubbly Fun

Yesterday there was a performance where I work.  A guy who does amazing things with bubbles came in and entertained the kids at the clubhouse for an hour.  K brought our 3 youngest over and they all loved it.
KC was very engaged in the performance.  He suggested that the bubble man put kids in the bubbles and got to be the first one inside as a result of his suggestion.
But Lissa was not about to be left out of the fun either and by the end of the performance had screwed up all her courage to be put in a bubble.  She kept staring down at her shoes and she told us afterwards she wanted to make sure her princess sneakers did not disappear in the bubble!

Disability colliding with the world

There is a big court case going on in our neck of the woods right now.  It involves a tragic killing that took place at a school a few years ago.  The boy who killed his fellow student suffered from many of the same issues that my eldest does.  I see my Chet in the testimony that this child's father gave to the court.  The inability to make friends.The depression.Perserveration on specific symbols.  The lack of social grace resulting in bullying and name calling.  The anger boiling up. The fear of the bully hidden poorly behind it. 

Like Chet, this young man appears to be very intelligent but out of touch with what is "real" and what is fantasy.  He fixated on specific authors and images. Chet is very very prone to this.  I confess that to this day I vet his book reading choices.  Ditto on his movies.

Part of me feels really badly but I know I have to do it.  He doesn't have the ability to self check. To see that too many dark vampire themed books evoke in him that same type of darkness. He can't see that he begins to try and act them out in his room.  He can't see until much after the fact, that the images are making him actually unhappy and gloomy.

His tendency toward fixation means that he would not voluntarily try a new author and new genre.  So each week I have a quota with a set number of books being fantasy or sci fi, a set number being romance (oddly his other favorite genre) and the remainder divided between mystery, biography and some type of contemporary nonfiction, such as the book Stones into Schools.  I do not get books that will feed into conspiracy theories about the government.  He is prone to seeing conspiracies everywhere also.

Managing his movies is actually easier.  I let him request what he wants from Netflix and then I just shuffle them around in the queue so that something heavy is compensated by a lighter, more humorous movie afterwards.  Chet requests so many movies at a time when he updates his queue that he has no concept of what one is coming next.  Just knowing it is in the queue and hasn't arrived yet is enough for him.

I used to think when he was little that things would be easier when he was older.  And in some ways, that is true.  But in the most profound of ways, it is not.  Because legally he is an adult now and this means a different form of accountability within society.

And every time I wonder if I am too controlling, I remind myself that he has a lot more freedoms than he would in jail.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Party Pics

Here is a close up of the mural of KC sliding down the rainbow.  I couldn't get far enough away to get a good shot of the whole thing.  It is on our whole dining room wall and our room wasn't big enough to give me the distance to really show the details--the "presents' he is sliding into, the sparkly clouds, etc.
Kirsty made this decoration to hang from our dining room light.  KC is going to save it in his treasure box.
Buddy at Cake Boss is in no jeopardy but KC pronounced it just beautiful!
And this was his face when he saw the cake coming!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Extra Family Day

I have the day off today and am  loving it.  In my usual "kick back and relax" style, we have risen at the late hour of 6:00 a.m.  We have breakfasted and tidied the kitchen. We have cleaned out the 2 youngest kids dressers from ill fitting  clothes or winter fare and left them ready for the spring that better arrive. (it is only 46 today but i live in hope!)

Then we hit Barnes and Noble. The kids had some gift cards. Rob really wanted to get the next Rangers Apprentice book.  Sadly it won't be released till May 8th. So I told him I would pay for it if he would pre-order it and he could use the gift card to get something else.  Lissa picked out a cute book and then had a fit because I would not let her get a book that made a lot of noise.  I figure books are about words--silly me!  And if she has ones that make sounds, she seems to fixate on making noises instead of listening to the story. 

KC chose his first chapter book and also a math workbook.  He loves math and how can I argue with that??

After that we went to a craft store because Rob needed a gray marker for a football pennent he has been coloring.  I also found a mat in which to mount a picture of all of us for Fiona. It is one of the shots taken when we visited.  I also found sparkly words in the scrapbook section.  The first phrase is "all of us" in faux rhinestones and that is on the top of the frame.  then I found a shiny "family" and glued that on the bottom half of the frame.  I will mail that out this week.

From there we went to a store to get new rugs for the kitchen entry way and in front of our sink.  Ours were losing the non skid backing making them somewhat hazardous.  And we really need an entry way rug as it catches a good bit of the dirt and debris before it makes its way into the rest of the house.  After that, we stopped at an office supply place and got some little bins to put the kids art paper in.  The loose paper periodically tries to take over the house and I keep trying to find the best solution possible to containing it.

Then we headed home, cleaned out the van (not just unloading, actually cleaned it!) and the kids played outside.  It was sunny then, something we are not seeing much of right now, so I am glad we took advantage of it.

Then we had lunch and messed around with some new Eco-Paint that KC got for his birthday from his Nana.  They are powder based so you have to mix them with water but they are very cool. All the coloring agents are found naturally (hence the name) and the hues are definately slightly different from the regular paint box.  He has special recycled paper to use for the painting and he did two really lovely watercolors.

I have some things I should do, but I think I am going to make a cuppa tea and relax for a wee bit.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

KC's birthday

KC is six today!  Sometimes I look at the young boy that he is, and it is hard to believe that 6 yrs ago he was a teeny preemie with no eyebrows, no eyelashes and barely any hair!  So tiny he could not cry, only sort of squeak.  And now, he is this amazing, creative, exuberant young boy.  Thus far we have brought cupcakes to his dance class so he could party with his friends there.  We have gotten his new library card after he proudly and carefully wrote his name for the librarian, and we have decorated his cake. 

Incidently, although I may watch cake boss, I so am not of Buddy's caliber!  LOL  Last night I baked a round white cake.  It stuck to the pan.  This is covered by frosting.  Frosting is what cakes are all about anyway!  Especially when you are 6!  Then I baked the 2 rainbow shaped sugar cookies and decorated them with sparkly gel.  Then I put the 2 rainbows togehter with frosting to "glue" them and mounted them on the back of the cake.  With cloud shaped cookies on either side of the rainbow.  It was stunning. . . until the gel began to drip slowly down from the rainbow!  ROFL 

However I don't sweat stuff like that.  My son looked at the cake and clapped his hands and said "oh it is SO beautiful."  So it is.  Drippy gel and all!

In a little bit we will put up rainbow colored streamers and hide the clues for the treasure hunt, fill the pinata and party!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Thought Soup

I have been busy getting ready for KC's birthday bash tomorrow but Fiona has been much in my mind despite the ramping up toward our festivities.  Or maybe, in part, because of it.  In 9 yrs I have never been able to give her a birthday party.  She can't handle it. My most successful effort at celebrating her birthday involved bringing cake a day after her actual birthday.  She was never able to come to Robbie's parties.  He has had a lot of typical "kid parties" at roller rinks and bowling alleys.  Lots of whooping, boy energy that she could never handle without losing composure and raging.  It is so sad to me that her mental illness, her trauma history, and more, have deprived her of something like that.

One of the things Jane emailed me recently was that Fiona's mom was searching for her on a popular internet search engine where people try to find 'lost' family members.  I think it likely that her mom thinks Fiona is 18 and on her own now.  None of the the bio family members I have spoken with have ever seemed to grasp the mental health issues and the cognitive delays that Fiona has.  I am not sure whether they don't want to get it or just flat out don't. 

Jane was sending Fiona's social worker the info regarding the search.  I don't know what if anything would come of this.  At one point, I wanted desparately to make contact with Fiona's mom.  One of the therapists we were working with at the RTC felt that there was a possibility for healing if mom could give Fiona permission to attach, to move on and to not feel that she had to spend her life making excuses for what happened to mom and the other kids.

In an odd twist of fate, through my job, I came  in contact indirectly with mom.  In a paperwork way, not a face to face way.  I wanted to give this information to Fiona's therapist and social worker so that they could attempt a contact. At that time, the social worker had no idea how to contact mom.  Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, (who really knows in these tangled situations) my job's confidentiality laws precluded me passing on this information in any way.  I went to the top of my company to try and explain why it could help my child.  But it was not to be. 

I don't know what it would be like if Fiona were to have contact with her mom now.  She spent a lot of time when she was calm, feeling angry with mom for the family falling apart.  For the fact that she had so many children that she could not take care of and keep safe.  I always tried to explain that I was sure Mom never intended for things to happen as they did.  Sometimes people make mistakes even when they love their family very much. Sometimes they just are not able to do things they think they could do.

And here is the really sticky part.  I know that Fiona's mom has another child.  A child right around Lissa's age.  To the best of my knowledge she is parenting this child.  I fully support birth family importance, but I can't begin to wrap my mind around how that will look to Fiona.  I don't know how Rob would feel either, but I suspect that at least he feels loved and secure enough that we could work it through.  And there is much more ability for deeper thought, even though because  sharing emotions scares him, we would need to work slowly.

Of course thinking about it is all very silly anyway.  It is not anything I have any control over.  It isn't my decision.  I just hope that whatever the decision is, it is the right one for Fiona.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Jane emails back

Got a couple great emails from Jane when I got into  work this a.m.  She said that I did well with the surprise therapy session during our Tuesday phone call. I laughed as she said I must have a masters degree in multi tasking!  Actually I am still laughing at that, as it is so very very true! 

We got the go ahead for a June visit though we will have to stay on the school grounds. That is totally fine with me.  Fiona had wanted us to be able to walk Jane's dog when we visit but I suspect that her running incidents of late have precluded anything of that nature.  We can either lunch or picnic at the school, so that is good.  Which also probably means a slightly longer visit which is also good.

Jane said that she wasn't sure about sending a necklace to Fiona because she worried about her trashing it when she was upset.  But suggested that I send something to remind her of the phone call.  Now I am scratching my head!  Maybe some brilliant idea will come to me.  Truthfully, I know Fiona trashes things so that is not a worry to me.  But it may cause Fi excessive remorse or something when the rage is over--that part I don't know.  On the other hand, some things she apparently does take considerable care with.

Jane said that she brings the scrapbook I made her everywhere and even sleeps with it.  But I also know she would not be looking through its pages if she was raging so  picture in there isn't going to help. . . .

I worry so much for Fiona.  This school seems like her last best chance at something really good.  And I know she wants it.  But like so many traumatized, mentally ill children, wanting something isn't enough to pull it together.  It works for the short haul--but long term?  Not so well.

Jane also said she is working on trying to establish reciprocity with Fiona.  As in, if I send her something, she sends something back.  It will be interesting to see how that works out.  Frankly I am all good with a thank you.  I personally think Fiona's self esteem is so low that she doesn't feel capable of giving back. We shall see.  Jane has done some magical things with Fiona; I am open to more magic!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Not the usual Tuesday call

First I got a call a bit before 5 that my boss was back from a test for some serious pain that he has been experiencing lately.  Sadly the news is not really good.  He has a serious illness again.  One that he has had before in a number of incarnations.  I don't know what the prognosis is for him, and I feel very badly.  

Then at about 5:15 the phone rang again and it was Fiona.  The kids were clamoring to talk with her.  KC wanted to tell her all about painting a rainbow, Lissa about going to the park, etc.  But first the phone kept disconnecting. Turned out it was something to do with the speaker system in the schools phone line.  They changed phones and we could at last hear one another.

Fiona's voice was nervous and strained though.  She said she wanted to ask me advice.  Whoa.  She has never asked me advice.  I realize this was likely cued in a therapeutic session but it was still pretty huge.  And I am trying to take this in while Lissa jumps on the bed in the spare room and KC dances silently around me.  Mmmm.  My quiet peaceful life. LOL

Fiona had run off campus again.  The police had been called again.  This time the police told her that if she ran again, she would be arrested and taken to jail.  I am assuming this is what was actually told to her as her therapist was in the room and did not re-direct.  Fiona wanted to know what i thought she could do to stay safe and not do this.

Oh yeah.  Jane, couldn't you have sent me an email to warn me???  I so didn't know how the thrust of any discussions on this had gone and the last thing I want to do is confuse Fiona.  While I have no idea as to if it is true or not, I suspect Fiona was likely exposed to alcohol in utero.  She truly has these mega memory deficits and when she is raging, she doesn't remember a plan.  You can make a plan till the cows come home.  And she will genuinely want to follow it.  But when she gets pushed by that thing on that day--and some of them are ordinary living things that can't be stopped or changed--well it is all bets off.

I bought myself some time to think, saying how I wanted very much for her to stay safe because we love her and that made finding a plan she could use very important.  I asked if she could get permission from staff to take some space if she started to feel angry.  If there was a special place she would be allowed to go to.  Apparently I was on the track Jane was on as she then jumped in (thank the goddess!) and said that these were the things that they had discussed earlier. I reiterated at the end of the call that I love her always, even if she makes a mistake, but i worry so much for her.  (the last part there is in my head, not shared with Fi.)

I have been thinking about this ever since we hung up and I am wondering if I got an inexpensive heart necklace for her to wear.  If she could/would use it like a worry stone when upset.  If she touched it, would it remind her that we love her and want her to make a safe choice for herself?  Can Jane work with her on that concept if I get the necklace?  I will email Jane tomorrow and see what she thinks.

Making a Rainbow Birthday

We've been working on the rainbow for KC's birthday.  Tonight we add the last stripes and then it is time to add the boy sliding down, and the presents he slides into!  LOL  It has been a family affair which is really the best part.  Here you can see Lissa painting the green.  We gave her a teeny tiny brush and she did really well.  And realistically, if the colors blur together a bit on a rainbow, it isn't a big deal!
And here is the guy who thought up the idea, hard at work on his birthday banner!  You can sort of see Robbie's clouds at the top left corner.  They are really pretty and the picture doesn't do them justice as they have a lot of dimension and shimmer.

Monday, April 12, 2010

New Scone recipe

I like to cook, but I get bored easily. This doesn't always mix well with kids who by nature are not the most adventurous of eaters.  And when one of them has aspergers and associated food and sensory issues, well the familiar are ALWAYS preferred.  But despite their picky little natures, I tried a new scone recipe yesterday.  It was from the Pioneer Woman's site and is supposedly a knock off of the Starbucks recipe.  I have never eaten the Starbucks version (the only thing I ever buy there is one super giant sugar cookie that i split 4 ways between my kids.) But the point of the story is that the scones were a HUGE hit.  As in Robbie ate 3, Chet ate 2, Lissa ate one and another later for snack.  My wife says they have a shortbread consistancy that reminds her of a swedish cookie that she loves, except that they don't have an almond flavor.  KC and i have not tried them yet but they seem to be a "keeper" recipe.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I am a lucky winner!

The back story:  I don't ever win anything.  Literally.  You can gift me with 40 lottery tickets and I won't even win a free ticket.  Guaranteed.  You can give 2 to my wife and she will likely win something.  Some people, I have decided have the "win" gene or the luck of the Irish or whatever.  I don't mind. I am lucky in other ways.  I invariably meet nice and interesting people when travelling or when i need that magical special bit of help, someone seems to be there with it.  But win prizes??  Not me.

Except that last week I DID!  I entered a raffle put on by my friend Loree Burns who is also an amazing author.  I won an autographed copy of her book Tracking Trash, Flotsam, Jetsam and the Science of Ocean Motion.  This is a sreadable, entertaining and approachable science book for kids. Her writing style is delightful and not the least bit dry.  There are cool photographs.  My kids are so excited about this book---but I have told them they have to wait till I finish reading it.  LOL

And for anyone who wasn't lucky enough to win a copy, you can get yours on Amazon.  It's worth it.  Really!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

When the dream and reality collide

Everyone I know is talking about the mother who shipped her adopted child back to Russia.  Is it awful? Yes.  And yet, I remember when we adopted Chet so many years ago, the feelings of helplessness and often hopelessness that would overwhelm my wife and I. 

It is likely that the orphanage and the adoption agency did not know that he was on the autistic spectrum.  However, I will never forget the glib comment the agency director made to me as she put a filthy, obviously severely ill child in my arms.  "he just needs a room full of toys."  Did he have that?  Oh in spades.  How we kept ourselves sane during the wait from placement at 6 wks to coming home at 16 months was buying toys for our first child.  Did he know how to play?  He** no.  But we were more than willing to spend hours teaching him how.

He was sick.  Physically sick with absolutely everything that came down the pike that first year.  He had to learn a new language.  New foods.  New faces.  New everything.  And we were brand new parents.  I am an optimist by nature.  I would tell my frazzled wife that surely things would be better when he was healthier.  When he was used to our food he would stop making himself throw up at every meal.  When he had language skills mastered he would stop screaming for hours.  He would stop biting when he could fully express himself. etc. etc. He would stop banging his head when he learned that we were never going to leave him.

At some level, those things had to all play a part in the things we went through.  But a couple years into our life together, he still screamed, he bit so often I kept having to beg to keep him in the pre-school, and his play was just different from other kids.  He would spend hours ripping off the wallpaper but only play for a few seconds with a toy.  He could not catch a ball.  He loved going to the park and we went every night.  But he still screamed like I was flaying him when it was time to leave.

I read every book I could find. I read about spirited children.  I read about explosive children.  I read about ADHD.  I read about allergies and diet.  I read about discipline by the numbers, with rewards, with consequences.  I tried every trick I read about and some I thought of on my own.  I sought out professionals.  They said helpful things like "your son is too young to test but he has ADHD"  They said, play therapy wasn't helping.  I got sick of running up debt when I was playing all the time with him.  As was my wife.  As was my mom.  Other professionals told me I should run workshops for parents to teach them how to adapt to their child's needs.  Oh yeah, that would help me out loads!

We couldn't leave him with a babysitter.  He could not be controlled and kept safe by any family member.  Yet every family member was still an expert--even those who didn't have kids.  They all had opinions of what we should do.  There were implications we were the problem. We were too strict.  We were not strict enough.  You choose the allegation and the day.  It varied all the time.

Chet moved to school age.  Problems changed but worsened.  Special ed was a nightmare.  I fought the fight as long as I could and when the school allowed him repeated contact with another student  who was inciting  him to stalk a female student I pulled him out to homeschool.  I was at the end of my tether.  Did I want to send him away?  Not really.  His behaviors?  Yup, all I wanted was the child I had spent years dreaming about and did. not. have.  We had zero easy fun family vacations while he was a youngster.  We always had to go to the same place where the room would be exactly the same and do the same things.  Even then, there would be melt downs and tantrums.  Going to stores was  a nightmare.  The crowds bothered him.  The noise in the light fixtures (which I couldn't even hear myself) stressed his nervous system to the breaking point.  We learned to shop early in the morning and we switched off who went so that he didn't have to go.  Our circle of friends became very small.  We supported each other because there was no one else to go to.

The internet was not the wide open place with blogs and info galore that it is today. Social service agencies told me there was nothing they could do because our adoption was international and not domestic.  Looking back, I sometimes wonder how we made it through.  How we managed to be happy in the face of the constant daily challenges.  I know it was harder on my wife.  Chet and she butt heads more intensely than he and I. 

But the one thing we had going for us was that we had no other children.  He was our focus and we were his.  We bore the brunt of the emotions he did not understand, the pain he could not process, and spent time trying to teach him to live with joy.  I might have very well felt differently if I had other children in my home when he was younger.  I would have worried that his rages could cause injury, either physical or emotional.  I would not have known how to keep people safe and growing in healthy manners. 

So while the actual actions of that desperate mother make me shudder, the lack of information and supports out there for adoptions that are more than parents bargained for make me shudder more.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Can it be? A bed for KC??

I am primarily a believer in child led learning and development.  Yup, I try and nudge from time to time, and I was certainly not above pointing out to KC that his sister zipped her coat successfully when he was wailing that he could not do it on his own.  And yup, that had the desired result of stopping the wails and getting him to try (and succeed).  But for the most part I am pretty laid back.  One of the things i have seen in my many years of parenting is that they really do eventually learn.  And grow.  And fledge.

Some things are easy to see.  For instance, KC has an amazing sight word vocabulary.  We just did a flash card thing this morning because he wanted some school work and i still have little voice.  Out of 200 words he got 4 wrong.  We are talking words like  believe, gentle, locker, because.  Not dog, cat, and apple.  So clearly my laid back early reader program is coming up roses.  He can do basic math, count to 100 and count by 10's.  Getting there with counting by 2's.  Math's all good too.

The bed thing, well not so much.  KC has slept with us essentially since birth.  Every prior effort to move him into his own bed has been met with tears, resistance akin to a rock wall, and night mares.  The thing is, I believe sleep should be restful, peaceful and enjoyed.  Not feared.  So I backed off.  What I did do, was get a co-sleeping bolster and put it between us so that he was cuddling that in his sleep instead of me.  This seems to be much of his issue.  He has to have that long person shaped thing to snug up against.

And then Lissa started coming into my bed as well, so I just sort of threw my hands up in the air and went "what will be, will be."  Then today KC announced that he was getting big enough to have his own bed.  Would I buy a twin and put it at the bottom of my bed so he would still be near me and Sissy and could crawl up if he felt scared.  Yup, i can do that!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Want to do something cool?

Found on another friends blog, this link to a cool initiative: Books!  Books for Native American kids who might not get access to these books.  Check it out, buy a book or two if you wish.  I was lucky enough to win a book this week so I felt maybe I should pay some of my literary luck forward as it were.  I am sending a book about extreme scientists and a sci fi anthology to the school in NM.

I was a geeky sickly kid.  Books were my ticket out of my bedroom when my body couldn't take me.  Out of the hospital where I felt trapped and alone.  Out of social situations where I knew I was not fitting in.  So I'm helping to give those wings of freedom to another kid, or two.  Like I said, it's really cool.

Showing caring

I have a wicked cold.  It snuck up on me pretending it was allergies (lots of stuff blooming like crazy due to our heat wave)  Because I thought it was allergies at first, I didn't do anything.  Sigh.  If I know I have a cold I have these totally awesome cherry zinc lozenges that really kick a colds butt.  The thing is, I have to take them the first 24 hours of being symptomatic to have them really benefit.  Sigh again.  So by the time I realized that it was not allergies, I was loooooong past the 24 hour window and well on to miserable.  But I digress.

I am not really whining here.  This morning I woke up and I could hardly talk.  It will get a bit better over the course of the day with lots of hot beverages but suffice it to say I don't really sound like myself.  Remember, I am not whining!

What I am doing, is marvelling at the different ways that our kids show caring.  My Chet for instance is not a demonstrative guy.  Yup, he gives me a hug every night but I know it is because it is routine.  I have taught him to hug me before he goes to bed at night.  He does it because routines are safe for him and not because he has this upswelling of love that just has to be expressed.  BUT today when he saw me getting out my clothes for work he asked what i was doing.  I said I was getting my clothes for work. (between you and me I wanted to say "duh" but I am glad I didn't!)  His response was "why was I going to work when I could clearly barely talk."  For Chet, this is caring.  I explained that my boss is having serious medical issues and as the next senior staffer I need to be at work, regardless of my cold.  That made sense and he nodded his head and left.  Someone else who doesn't know Chet wouldn't see that there really is a lot there.  It means he actually observed how I was sounding and acting and since most times, he is so absorbed in his own world this is truly, really huge.

Then there is Rob.  Rob came to us at 5 with a really significant trauma history.  It has become clear that he is reluctant to share emotions and that he is also somewhat reluctant to show empathy.  These situations make him feel vulnerable and he doesn't like that.

I read aloud to the kids at night and right now, Rob and I are at a pretty darn interesting part of the book we are sharing.  Last night, although I did take the kids to the park, my voice was clearly fading and my energies with it.  When it was bedtime he came in and asked if I was going to read to him.  I said that I was going to chug a hot cup of tea and that I promised i would give it a try.  He paused for a moment and said "I know, but it will be okay if you can't and want to take a night off."  Trust me, I felt better than any cold medicine could ever do, hearing those words.

So today I may not be able to talk much, but I am basking in the love that was shown by two of my children for whom this is the most difficult.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Tuesday night telephone

Last night was Fiona's call night and she called right on time.  Very bubbly and excited, but the phone connection was horrible which made for a lot of "huhs" and "what did you says" on our end.  Didn't seem to upset her though, which was my main concern.

She wanted to know when we would visit again and I was so pleased that this time the question was not hard for her to ask.  I also know she will ask it over and over because she has zero time sense and calendars hold no meaning for her. That's okay too.  She wanted to know if we would take an off campus walk when we visit and if we could eat supper there.  I said I would ask Jane if there would be a way to eat lunch there (I suspect there is) and explained that supper would make us getting back to our small city very veeeery late as it was after 5 the last time we went and that was taking the "early" train back.  She was okay with that, so I hope that if we can't have lunch maybe a special snack picnic outside or something could be arranged.  I can bring stuff if need be, so no worries there.  I told her the pattern for the poncho she wants K to make her had just arrived and that we were now looking for fabric for her.  She was very excited about that, and very touched by the fact that KC got to talk to her first because he finished his supper so quickly.

Then I later chatted with my eldest niece who is 25. Her son's first birthday is coming up and we are invited to come to the party.  It is a Saturday, so K can't come, but the kids and I will.  I needed ideas for her little guys present and we had a great chat.  Although I am biologically an older woman, most of my friends are younger moms.  They have kids the same age or there abouts, as mine and our interests and odd happenings are similar.  My actual age contemporaries are all empty nesting for the most part and not living the life that is my focus now.

Then, someone I called as a wrong number called me back because they read the number on their caller ID. So I had a funny conversation with someone named Cathy.  Totally cracked me up that someone would just call back a number that they didn't know, just because it showed up on the caller ID.  Then again, I don't have caller ID!  LOL

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Finest!

Here are the kids before we headed out the door to church.  I forgot Lissa's hat and purse but other than that, we all looked good!                                                                                                                      

Sheep Shearing Fun

Yesterday I remembered at 12:30 that our local wildlife sanctuary had a sheep shearing festival.
So after setting honey bunny buns to rise and getting some house things done, we set off.  There were sheep being shorn (they are amazing compliant about this, and Joe does it the old fashioned way which is very cool to watch.  Rob manned the camera, so he is not in any of the shots.  After watching and petting sheep (including a baby lamb), scoping out the wool arts displays, petting puppies and a baby lamb and eyeballing chickens, we went for a hike.
The second picture is one Rob took of some tadpoles that appeared to be fighting one another.  I didn't know tadpoles would do that!  The pond was overfull and some of the water seeping through the granite around the edge and under the ground where you could see it reappear as a stream to the lower bog.  The kids were fasincated and we spent a long time there watching tadpoles, fish and searching for turtles (none of those yet!) 

Then we hiked a bit more but the trails were really too wet for us to do too much.  Lissa did not want to go home.  She said that we could go and just leave here there!  Yeah, right. LOL  But all my kids have felt that deep connection to this place.  This sanctuary was an old working farm and it blends those old time farm remnants with all that nature has reclaimed in the many years since the farm's closure.  About 12 years ago beavers moved into the area and flooded a lower part of the trail system.  We were one of the last people allowed to hike the trail (which actually involved wading through thigh deep water at that point!) and then in later years you actually could canoe there.  Now the beavers have begun to move on and their structures are deteriorating and long missing trails are again becoming visible.  Maybe my younger kids will walk on those trails yet! 
Rob took this last shot just before we headed home. You can't really tell but it is a chair made out of a stump and it sits right under a huge spreading hemlock tree where zillions of birds and squirrels come to the feeders strung there.  If you sit quietly enough, they don't even notice you after a while!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Quiet Saturday!

I am lying--they are NEVER quiet Saturdays!  LOL  Up at 6 and shopping with the kids for groceries by 7:30.  Got tulip plants while we were out--one for my mom which K will bring up tomorrow and one for the elderly couple that live next door to us. They are sweet to our kids and the wife has alzheimers and mobility issues so I thought the bright yellow blooms would brighten their day.

Then off to the post office to mail some things out to Fiona and my tax return.  And then the library and dance class.  We are home now and enjoying the glorious weather.  In between dashing out to bask in the unseasonably warm sun and temperate breezes, I have cleaned the kitchen, including my former computer area and put on dough for making sweet bunny buns for tomorrows breakfast.  Eggs are boiling for dying later, dessert for tonights supper is chillin' in the fridge.  Things are chugging right along at their 'slow' pace!  LOL

K re-did Lissa's braids yesterday and used some new, larger pony beads that I got at   Steph has the most amazing collection of beads and my girl probably has way more beads than she needs because I am always finding a cute color or style to add to our stash.  With these slightly larger beads though we didn't need to do millions of tiny braids and the whole style process was literally cut in half.  Lissa sits well for this, but she very much appreciated the quicker turn around time for her "do."

One of the moms at KC's dance class just had a baby. That, coupled with our next door neighbors just having another have given me baby fever.  However I am the only one with baby fever.  I keep hinting at K that 'maybe just one more" and she keeps looking at me like I am demented.  Which I probably am.  But oh my goodness I love having a larger family.  And cuddling babies.  Like I pretty much never put them down.  I wear them often but put them down?  Not often.

Off to soak up more vitamin D!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Autism Awareness Day

I opened up my reader this a.m. to see that today is autism awareness day.  I actually laughed.  Every day is autism awareness day at my house.  On the one hand, my eldest has Aspergers and in some ways is definately not as significantly impacted as others with autism.  But he is still impacted in some profound ways and simple living when you are talking about autism isn't simple at all.

There are the charts that hang on our fridge to help cue him for daily routines.  Because without it, he won't shave.  He won't remember to eat unless I call him to a meal.  If he is given the opportunity to make a meal on his own without our input it will be 3 carrots and a piece of cheese with a piece of fruit.  Great if you are trying to diet I guess.  If you are prone to getting dizzy and passing out from low blood sugar, not so much.

There was the conversation I had with him this week regarding church.  The director of the RE program called and explained she had received a call from a concerned parent.  The parent has a teen daughter who felt intimidated when Chet stood too close to her at fellowship.  He talked with her extensively and the girl felt she could not readily break away from him.  On the plus side, the parents involved don't think Chet was deliberately trying to intimidate or sexually harrass their daughter.  They get that he is disabled.  On the negative side, that does not mean that this type of behavior is acceptable.

I spoke with Chet about it and it was predictably hard to explain.  "But I was just being friendly the way I am to everyone," is his perception.  And in many ways this is true.  He has always had space issues. He is about 6 inches from you when he is engaged in conversation.  Truthfully, it doesn't bother me.  I have so many things that I need to correct him about that when he is talking with me  I don't stress him being on top of me.  If he gets what I am saying, that is enough for me.  But I have always explained that others have a space bubble, and that he needs to remember that.  Also, where he is tall, at over 6 feet, when he is close to a shorter person and talking, it feeling to them like he is looming over them.  But despite the conversation, it means that for a while I will need to watch him more closely at fellowship time to make sure that this is not happening and to reinforce what we have been talking about at home.  I know he needs that, but I hurt for him when this happens.  He is 24 but not an adult in the truest sense of the word.  And he is intelligent enough to feel discomfort at the level of involvement that is sometimes necessary to keep him safe and others comfortable with him.

And yet, he is in his own way, thoughtful, giving and very intelligent.  And I am thankful that he is my son.