Monday, May 31, 2010

Wild Monday!

Today we took our yard sale earnings, added a bit of cash to it, and went to a wonderful zoo that my kids adore. Actually I adore it too.  It is not in our state, so there is a bit of a drive, but it is just really nice.  Spacious habitats, beautiful paths, it is well laid out in so many different ways.  The kids had a blast.  K took a zillion pictures, most of which are really good.  I could post elephants, flamingos, a tortoise that seems to be looking right at the camera.  Or maybe a snow leopard or the moon bear that Lissa loved.  The harbor seal that entertained us so completely.  But instead:

this picture cracks me up. There was this station where you could see how far you could jump and compare it to other creatures.  (for the record, the aforementioned snow leopard can leap 50 ft!) KC and Lissa gave it a go and could jump nearly 4 feet, almost as much as a flea.  Rob and I were up next and I was proud to tie a rabbit at 6 ft, until Rob beat me out with a moon bear at 8 ft!

I am so lucky to have had this day, this entire weekend with the family I love.  This week is a horrid week at work and then the coming weekend is crazy busy--a trip to the big City and Fiona on Saturday which is fun but tiring and then a busy Sunday with some church responsibilities.   I have an inspection on Wednesday at work, and tomorrow K has to work some extra hours. . . I have been blessed with a tiny respite before the craziness continues.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunny Sunday

Well the weather started kind of weird.  Sun when we got up (say 6ish) but by 9 it was cloudy and looking like rain again.  I had originally planned to pack lunches to bring to church and figured we would hike after service.  However I knew that if I got the tribe pumped for that and the weather interfered, they would be cranky.  And I didn't feel like dealing with cranky, so I didn't pack lunches and we just set off for church.  And of course, in the way of things, the skies cleared.  LOL  Truly if I had packed lunches it would have poured, I have that kind of karma with weather. 

There was not programming for the kids at church  today as so many people go away this weekend.  But the kids hung out on the playground with 3 other kids (my kids comprising 50 percent of the population) and had a great time.  Also great was the fact that ALL 6 kids were brown. 

We came home and I got quick lunches together and had Chet mow the lawn. Despite the fact we use a push mower, I don't ever have him mow alone.  He sometimes gets an odd idea into his head and someone who is neurotypical should be around to make sure he doesn't lose a limb. Or a digit at the very least. Trust me, some of these creative ideas, well, they are just.

Then we packed up and headed out to hike.  The littles decided they all wanted to wear back packs.  Lissa put her water bottle in hers.  KC put a magnifying glass, small binoculars, and a drawing pad and pen in his. Oh and his apple juice. The actual distance was only a bit over a mile but we took a long time because the kids--well primarily KC was so intent on everything.  He peered at butterflies with his magnifying glass. (we saw tiger swallowtails and Harris checkerspots I think) Then he would draw them in his notebook and write down something about them. Later, we saw a snake and some dragonflies, so everyone seemed to feel that our wildlife quota was filled!  But truthfully, his interest and desire to note it all down, amazed me.

After hiking we hit the grocery store, something I typically never do at 3:45 on any day.  But we got through pretty quickly, the kids are really good at helping with grocery shopping.  Then it was home to unload and start supper.  Thankfully I could throw together beans and rice quickly. Cheating with canned dominican beans, and adding some freshly sauteed zuchini and summer squash and some corn left from last years harvest.  Served over rice with a bit of sauce it was tasty and quick.

Now all are abed and I have to start on the evening piece work. But it was a glorious day and I am grateful to have been sharing it with my family.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Rob's birthday mural

This is the first part of the skateboard half pipe that we painted for Rob's birthday mural. 

The birthday banner of "X Games" and the birthday announcement flies across the center of the mural.

And on the far side of the half pipe, a bevy of spectators (all of us!) cheering on Rob as he gets ready to head down the half pipe into his birthday celebration.  Chet has a garden rake on his hand (the kind you scoop the leaves with) in his shot and is using the leaf claw to throw the cake at his brother.  Needless to say, Rob finds that hysterical because we all know Chet would be the guy who would actually try to do that!

I can't believe on Wednesday, my Rob is going to be 14!  How is that possible??

Thursday, May 27, 2010

You don't look like us!

I thought I would share a funny story, that is also sort of thought provoking, at least for me.  When I took the kids on the whale watch there was a photographer that took everyone's pictures as they boarded.  It was a good shot of all of us and I bought a 5 x 7.  When my mom was down a couple of weeks ago, I showed her the picture.  Candidly, I take horrid pictures as a general rule. I am just not photogenic.  But this shot was the exception to the rule.  At any rate, my mom looked at it, commented on how cute the kids looked.  Then. . .

"But oh my god Lee, you don't look like any of us.  Where did YOU come from?"

Now to be clear, this did  not hurt my feelings.Yet for that small moment in time, the comment brought me up short. Did I really NOT look like my family? How was that possible?

  Truthfully I think there are some family resemblences, but likely the fact that I was wearing my ball cap and an oversized flannel shirt made me look less like the self that is usually presented to my family. I know my genetic gifts from my family.  I wear glasses like my mom and dad, I have thinning fine hair like my mom's side of the family, I am tall and slender like my fathers family. 
But my kids face that every day.  And I know they spend a lot of time thinking about it because they point out frequently the features they have that are like each other, those that are dissimilar. We even know and comment on shared interests.  KC loving dance just like Nana and I, Rob's bird ID skills would have made my grandmother smile, etc.  They know these stories -- but I know it is not the same.  I know that tiny blip of disconnect felt really weird to me when my mom said that.  And I know that weird feeling has to be part of the way they feel every day, and my heart hurts for them because of that.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My little gymnast

Today was Lissa's introductory gymnastic class. My friend Laura has a daughter who takes gymnastics at a local school and she said Lissa could try a lesson for free this month. So we arranged for the trial today.  It meant I had to work through lunch so that I could leave work early.  Not really a problem as most days I have to work through my lunch and leaving at 3 was sort of a treat! 

Lissa did great!  My biggest concern was if she would sit and listen to instructions. She is a wee dervish, my Lissa. But she did and the class size is small, 4 to 6 kids and there are stations that they all work at so there is not a lot of time that they are not moving. 

Truly the only thing she could not do was a cartwheel. She could do the assisted handstand which surprised the instructor. She said most of the 3 y/o's don't have that arm strength when they first come to class.  I said she has 3 brothers. LOL She loved the beam exercises, which had fun things like waving your arms with butterflies attached when you walked along it, or stepping over little rubber lizards etc.  She just was so in her element.  We have signed up for the remainder of this session.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

When Mental Illness collides with the law

Fiona called tonight.  She said that she has to go to court tomorrow.  I felt like I was punched in the gut.  Clearly from the tenor of the conversation, Jane thought she had told me of this but nope.  This dates back several months to an assault of a peer.  Jane seems calm about this and a visit is still on for us in early June so I don't think incarceration is imminent.  Fiona told me about the steps that she and staff have worked on to try and make sure that future incidents don't happen.

In one sense, she has made huge huge progress.  She was able to articulate to me tonight how the rage overwhelms her and how then she knows she has lost control and feels badly and this feeds it and she winds up lashing out.  How she is trying to take space when she first feels really angry and not letting it get to that point.

And that is all good.  I suspect things will be okay because the Great School in the City is likely to be able to facilitate this with her first actual brush with the law.  But it scares me.  It is my worst nightmare come true.  I think that the worst thing for me as a parent is knowing that there are kids--and Chet and Fiona both fall into this category, who can so easily do things that are outside the norms of society.  That could land them with consequences that might teach a neurotypical person not to do the same thing again.  But which I strongly doubt can teach either one of them anything.  And which has a far greater liklihood of harming them even more.

I am not saying that it is right to hit.  Clearly it isn't.  But there are kids who are just ill.  Or damaged by the trauma they were subjected to before they were ours.There are kids who have learned in those first formative years that it is better to hit first then get hit later yourself.  Or who have cognitive delays that inhibit their ability to process.  Who become flooded with emotions, raging hormones, whatever.  The Great School in the City has made huge strides with Fiona.  But she has soooooo far to go.  I worry that she won't get to where she needs to be in order to stay safe in the world we live in. 

I worry for Chet whose social ineptness and physicality place him at risk should I not be there to run interference and de-escalate a situation.  Clearly he is better than when he was 15 and hormones raged in addition to his Aspergers.  But there are days when "better" is marginal and I think on the fact that I am 50 and will not be here forever.

Clearly I have no pearls of wisdom here to share.

Garden time!

Gardens gardens!  tis finally the season in our corner of New England to do serious planting.  To be sure, I have planted the brave things--pansies and violas to brighten our kitchen garden.  KC amazingly threw some sunflower seeds in the kitchen garden and they grew too.  But tomatos and such have been growing under growlights in our upstairs bathroom. This is partly because we have had unpredictable weather.  Warm, then hot, then amazingly cold with frost warnings.  Very strange.  But it is also because we grow our veggies at a community garden plot and one can not plant there till they give you the go ahead.

This morning when i opened my email we had our plot assignment at last and the go ahead to plant.  Tonight, hopefully after Fiona's call we will head up and start to prepare the plot.  As we never get the same plot each year, this is not the organic garden of my dreams.  It seems silly to do lots of soil amending when I know i'll have to go through it all in another plot the following year. (we have been doing this for 4 yrs now and have never gotten the same plot) 

So we cheat. We use black plastic landscape cloth to smother weeds.  We use some organic fertilizers but also some of the dreaded M*racle Gro.  And we typically have a great harvest.  We tend to grow lots of tomatos.  We put up sauce and we can salsa.  We don't grow the peppers as the growing season is too short for us to get enough yield to make it worthwhile.  We grow Indian corn for decorations. (cornshucks for our light pole in the fall and we bundle the corn into decorations for our shed and back door.)  We, or I should say, KC and Elisabeth, grow pumpkins.  We usually do a late lettuce crop right near the end of the season.  At home, we container grow herbs and also sunflowers for the sunflower science project and cucumbers that KC planted at church.

I love gardens.  I am not really good at gardening.  K has the garden gene.  Also KC.  Either of them look at a plant and it grows an inch just in happiness. I am more the grunt labor in this endeavor but I still love it.  I feel close to the earth, I know where my food is coming from and it is all good.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

And still more talent!

Not to be out done, Lissa gives a hula hoop
a whirl.

Chet bravely gives the hula hoop a go.

While he hulas, he is seranaded by KC.

Kirsty is not hula hooping. She is singing the Max and Ruby song!
Even Blake the dog literally jumped--well okay, WALKED--through hoops at the end
of the performance.

And bows from happy performers were shared!

A Talent Show!

KC decided we would have a talent show and this afternoon was the big day.  Right now there is nothing on our deck as we need to replace some boards so this became our "stage."  Who knew, we were such a talented clan?  Chet led off with the opening act--his amazing ability to touch his nose with his tongue.  Yup, really.

Lissa dazzled us with her contemporary ballet number!

KC and Rob performed amazing feats of magic. Coins disappeared, balls of fluff appeared, rabbits apparently hid in hats. . .

There was a hula hoop face off.

Where a parent revealed a hidden talent to her tribe!  And apparently Blogger doesn't want the rest of the graphics so on that note, this post is done. I'll try and post the pictures of the rest of the acts forthwith!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Weekend Plans

The kids Auntie Lynne is coming for a visit and a tea party tomorrow.  Much excitement about this.  Tea parties are big deals at our house and throwing Aunt Lynne into the mix is a real added bonus.  But KC apparently thought that wasn't quite enough fun for the weekend.  He informed us last night that on Sunday there would be a Talent Show at our house so everyone had to have an act.  He is playing his guitar and reciting an original poem,  Lissa is doing what she calls "ballet".  This would be very um, contemporary ballet to put it mildly.  It typically involves a lot of spinning around and then throwing herself on the floor. LOL Rob has decided to do a magic trick. Chet will do his most amazing stunt which is the fact that his tongue can reach his nose.  Really.  K will sing a song yet to be determined.  I wonder where he gets these ideas???

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Nature Lovers

We love family dinners at our house.  We encourage our kids to share stuff from their days, to ask about mine, in short to learn the rudiments of polite conversation.  Today's conversation went something like this. . .

Rob--We went to Friendlys today and. . .
KC--And on the way home there was a red fox in the road and Ooma GUESS WHAT it was. . .

Yup, nature lovers and polite society, right here in our little corner of New England.

Growing and Growing!

Fiona, that is.  Tonight she called as usual. Bubbly and happy.  Which was good as I was on day 2 of migraine life and was lucky to be erect and talking.  I for sure had no pearls of wisdom to share with my daughter.  And I do not ever talk about not feeling well with Fiona.  With most of my kids actually.  They stress.  But in Fiona's and Rob's case there is a perception either real or imagined, that their first mom was ill and that is why she could not care for them. So me being ill equates to not being cared for.  Rob is actually probably nearing some understandings of the differences between me being ill and his first mother, but I am pretty sure Fiona isn't.  But I am rambling.

Fiona wanted to thank K for the poncho she made her.  So they actually talked for a while which doesn't happen all that often. And in the course of conversation, Fiona started talking about her EZ Bake oven that is still here. We never got the green light to ship it so we have continued to store it.  Of her own volition, Fiona suggested that we give it to Elisabeth, from her. 

This is so huge I am still trying to wrap my mind around it.  The oven is almost a symbol for Fiona of a number of different things. Some not good, some that are good. But throughout the 9 years since we gave it to her, she has clung to the fact that it was hers and was waiting for her.  But last night, she articulated that she was growing up and really too old for it and that Lissa would love it.

Lissa is of course technically too young for it. But we said that on Lissa's birthday we will wrap it up and it will be from Fiona and we will take pictures of Lissa opening it. And using it the first time, so Fiona can see how much joy she has given her little sister.  Even after writing this out, I am still so amazed by it all!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I am slowly but surely carving time to read more books this year!  I may not get 26 read but I am reading way more than last year (though I do read a lot of books that I don't count for homeschooling Robbie).  Now I am trying to decide if I want to request One Man's Wilderness or the new book about Oprah that Kitty Kelly wrote.  Decisions decisions.  And oddly enough, they both begin with O!  ROFL

I would like to be home today.  I have a migraine.  But I have stuff to do here at work so here I am.  Also my kids get well and truly freaked when I go back to bed during the day time so this will keep things 'normal' to them.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

All abuzz!

So since yesterday's dance outing went well, I expected today would be easier.  He knew what would happen; it should be less scary.

Except he also knew that i was not supposed to be back stage or in the cafeteria running fun and games for the duration.  The school has a rule that parents work one assigned shift, watch the show the other performance.

KC also said he didn't like the finale.  Which is really more of a curtain call. All the students mashed up onstage for a final bow.  He said he got pushed and felt "funny in his tummy" about it.  I think the house lights were also up then and he could see the audience which is most likely what the root of the problem was.  He loves to dance but not to see who he is dancing for. 

So we went early to the performance venue, met with the amazing Miss Heidi who agreed that her lone bee could not be so discomfited that he was teary eyed and trembling.  I was given special dispensation to remain on cafeteria duty and the stage crew obligingly let me creep backstage again.  It was rather surreal as he felt all tense and edgy in my arms but once on stage?  It is like a switch got flipped and the performance was really really good!

I did agree that he didn't need to stay for the finale. I know that the previous day a couple kids had to leave before that and I figured he did a pretty fair job of articulating his concern to me.  So we got home about an hour earlier than the day before.  We took the above picture in our garden (I thought that was clever putting a bee in the garden!!) and then had a celebratory dinner at a pizza joint. Now the weekend is over, and tomorrow it is back to work, which is likely to be a tad more calm than my weekend has been.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

"The Bee's Knees"

Well, technically this is not the bee's knees, it is the bee's face.  He was nervous today, his first dance recital ever.   But he did really well.  No tears, great mime work for the "acting" part. (he was supposed to become an angry bee)  I did have to lurk back stage as he felt that he needed to know I was there but once on stage, he wasn't really looking to me.  He was just doing what he was there to do.  Nana did not make it down in time to see the show.  He was great about it.  He looked regretful for a moment and then he said, "well, she can see me next year!"  So I guess he plans on continuing his dance adventures?  We have to discuss this as he also wants piano lessons!  And big brother Rob is suddenly interested in playing piano, which I find wonderrful and exciting but I could in rather short order become very broke!  ROFL  All things in moderation, children, even the arts!

Scrambled Saturday

You know that adage about life happening when you make other plans?  That IS my life. Because I am a planner.  I like things orderly. Plus I have 2 kids who seriously need order and 2 more that just benefit from it but could probably live without the level of structure the 2 older ones need.

Today is KC's first dance recital performance.  My mom wanted to see him dance. I bought her a ticket.  I also planned to celebrate her birthday party post dance recital.  You know, just in case we all were not hyped enough and exhausted enough from the dance recital?  Did I mention I am in charge of keeping KC's entire class happy and occupied for 4 fun filled hours???  Yup, truly I am.

I have photocopied coloring pages.  I have purchased fruit loops to make necklaces with.  I have purchased a variety of peanut free snacks.  And beverages.  And flowers for the teacher.  I get home from the grocery store at 8 this morning and K tells me my mom has car trouble.

I call my mother. She is upset. Car shakes badly on the highway. She is going to take it back to where she bought it a few months ago and see if it is a quick fix.  In a best case scenario she is now going to be here when we return from the recital. If she is arriving at my house by 12:30 or 1 I will be likely to leave Robbie here to welcome her. But if it is later than that I am not really comfortable with leaving him.  He is nearly 14 but his ability to self control situations like that is limited.  It is a time where I do see PTSD responses that have logical correlations to some negative things around his first years. Chet will be here but Chet is not an "adult" except in actual years. He would not reassure Rob, nor would he keep him from touching or doing things that he should not do.

But if I bring him, he has to sit for the performance alone and that is not going to go well either.  Alternatively I have him back with me and Lissa and KC and his class.  Egads!  Then there is No. One. in the audience watching the little bee take the stage.  Sigh. 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

S is for Stagestruck!

Tonight was the dress rehearsal for KC's dance recital which is Saturday and Sunday afternoon.  He is a bee in a bevy of flowers.  Not a bad gig when you are the only boy in the class!  LOL  Actually when the whole school was there we saw that there are actually 6 or 7 boys and one adult male who were in performances which I think was cool for him.

However, he got more and more nervous as we waited for his turn to perform. For some bizarre reason his class (5 and 6 year olds) are number 23 out of 27 dance numbers.  In the good ole days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and I taught dance lessons for my aunt, we ALWAYS let the wee ones perform early.  So they would be cute happy and not crying. 

The rehearsal went long.  KC's class was supposed to go on stage to practice at 6:30.  We went on an hour later than that which means KC was dancing when he is usually sleeping.  This is a boy who likes to sleep so it was not a good mix.  He was ultra clingy and crying while waiting the last 15 minutes.  They finally decided they would break their no parent back stage rule and let me stand there.  Good call.  Actually I think twice I had him all calmed down in line after doing healing hands with quiet energy and helping him visualize a warm safe bubble of love around him.  His breathing slowed, he closed his eyes and was peaceful . . .  and then this well meaning mom walks by and says :

SO KC ARE YOU EXCITED TO DANCE?  in this ultra loud ultra happy voice and the magic was broken.  I forgave the dim wit the first time.  The second time this happened I wanted to find a happy place to send her to.  ROFL

Surprisingly, once he got on stage, he did wonderfully.  He really knows the dance and he really loves to move to music.  I hope that will get him through the weekend.  I hope something will get ME through the weekend as Saturday I have to work back stage.  K is working and Lissa and my mom have mutually decided they will not want to sit with one another in the audience, leaving me to figure out how to fold Lissa into the back stage melee--I mean experience!

Fiona's okay

I got into work this a.m. and there was a long awaited email from Jane.  I chuckled as the title of her email was "three crybabies" in reference to all of us sniffing and sobbing during the Tuesday phone call.  She apologized for not giving me a heads up earlier.  Fiona does a phone plan before she calls, but it is pretty much right before the phone is dialled.  She listed the topics we went over as her questions for the call.  Jane spent some extra time talking with her trying to be sure she was ready to hear the answers.  Probably scary for Jane as she hadn't talked with me and didn't know what my answers would be.

I was impressed (once I had a chance to calm down myself) with the fact that Fiona could do all this emotional work with Jane and I and then talk for at least a few minutes with each of the kids and just have normal kid conversations.  This is a new ability for her.  Usually she is so overwhelmed that such a thing is not possible.

Anyway, for now it is looking good.  I expect there will be some backsliding in control and behavior and am thankful she is in a place with staff that can handle such things appropriately and kindly.  And I hope that this is really the beginning of some healing for Fiona's bruised and battered soul.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I wonder how Fiona is

I have been hoping Jane would email me this morning and let me know how Fiona is doing.  Last night was so emotional that once I had time to try and deal with how I felt (which was sort of emotionally  like a puddle of jelly) I began to worry how the sharing impacted her.  I am wondering how her day is going; if she has held things together or if that raw feeling that can come with such disclosures is leaving her vulnerable to making unsafe choices.  But, I haven't heard from Jane yet, who likely has 52 million things to do and emailing me is just one more.

I ordered a mothers ring from WalMart today.  It is simple with no raised stones; something I tend to avoid as I am a klutz and raised stones tend to get caught on things or chipped. Fiona and Elisabeth share the same birth month so their stones are the first and fifth stones with the other colors sprinkled in between.  It is pretty and I felt oddly better once I placed the order. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Heart Sore

Fiona called tonight.  Later than usual, as Jane had accidently called my work number .I was ,of course not there,and she had to find the correct home number.  She said when she got on the phone that Fiona had some important things she wanted to share and that they were hard things.  I was glad for the warning.  The kids were drawing in the kitchen and happily occupied and I crept into the spare bedroom for a bit of marginal quiet. (quiet is rather relative at our house)

One of the things Jane does with Fiona is to work out a phone plan for each call.  They discuss topics, questions Fiona wants/needs to ask, what she hopes to get from the call, etc.  Fiona's voice was strained and very quiet.  She wanted to know why she couldn't come home.

I suppose at one level I should feel good that this is home for her.  She only physically lived here 5 weeks out of her young life.  But trying to explain the need to keep her safe, to keep others safe, that the Great School in the City has been doing such good work helping her to grow. . . it isn't an easy conversation.

The fact that she was removed from our home has been the elephant in the room in our relationship for 9 years.  I know it should have been addressed before this.  But there was never a situation where she was doing well and there was such strong therapy work taking place where it would have been even remotely wise to begin this dialogue. And so I think I let scabs grow over the hurts in my heart over that whole issue and thought rather naively that we could somehow just go forward.  Especially since she is 18 now and looking toward working to live in some type of semi independent, yet supported setting.

But the things this child has been thinking for 9 years.  That it was her fault. That it was our fault.  That we loved Robbie more.  That she was afraid of being alone.  That she was glad Robbie was happy and safe.  It is a tangled jumble of every emotion and fear you could imagine having.  I am glad it was a phone call, because I was crying.  She was crying.  I think even Jane was crying by the end of things.

Jane said that she had heard me call Fiona her foster daughter and that she thought that showed a lot of love.  I told Fiona that I really think of her as my daughter but that at 18 I felt it was her decision if I had the right and privilege to use that title.  She said she would like it very much.

We talked about how Rob is quiet and that doesn't mean he doesn't love her.  He just isn't a talker.  He is a do-er.  She said he used to talk a lot when he was little.  I said that was probably true but that sometimes little boys change when they become teens and are doing their own searching and deciding about things.

I really almost lost it when she said she was glad we were there because we were the only family she has left.  The abandonment feeling was so  palpable.  I said that we would always be family and that was true no matter where people wound up living.  And that she shouldn't forget that she didn't just have us and Robbie, but that she is a sister to KC and Lissa and they both refer to her as such.

It was a hard call.  A call that will hopefully help her travel a little further on the road to healing.  There are no scabs on my heart tonight.

This and That

It's only Tuesday but this has been an odd week.   But tonight could be a lot of fun.  Hopefully Fiona will call. K just finished making a poncho for her and I can't wait to tell her about it.   And after that, we are hopefully going to a book launch party at a library a few towns away from us.  A friend of ours writes the most amazing science books for kids.  She wrote one about ocean currents called "Tracking Trash"  and now is launching a new book on honeybees. (The Hive Detectives)  Tracking trash is such an interesting book that Rob and I read it together as his bedtime reading for about a week or so.  I can't wait to get our hands on the new book.  And hey, I have never been to a launch party for a book before!

In other science related news, I almost succeeded in killing our ant colony.  Seems my decision to encase the top in tape covered their air holes.  (seriously how much air does an ant need???  Answer:  more than they were getting).  Regrettably, we discovered my error in time to save their creepy, I mean interesting and valuable little lives.  They are back to digging tunnels and doing ant things.  I thought they were just resting.  Really.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mothers Day part deux

Mama Drama Times Two asked why as a two mom household, (they are one too)we have a separate day for me and honor K on Mothers Day.  I shot them off a quick email but it made me think back to our early parenting days with Chet.  Chet was, as I have alluded to in earlier posts, a challenging young child.  Actually it was sort of a time line that in brief was --really sick toddler, challenging pre-schooler, progressively tougher through elementary school, raging in puberty, to sort of settling into a calmer (for the most part) adulthood. 

The point of the time line is that he was so erratic and prone to meltdowns that there was no way both of us could enjoy a celebration on Mothers Day.  And it amped up his stress as he was now trying to do for two of us when he could barely handle making and doing for one at a time. Chet always called K, "Mom" so it made sense to give her that day and find some other way to celebrate me (and give me a break).  So I would handle the craft, the serving of breakfast and then typically take over care of him for the day so that she got a chance to relax and do what she wanted to do.  We never had respite care, or reliable babysitters so it was never an option for us to go out together to celebrate.  It might have been different if that had been possible.

  Additionally, we found that while he was in public school it was important that he have someone he felt he could make a card or gift for when the Fathers Day holiday came around.  Public school is sort of the place where DOMA is graphically evident.  It doesn't seem to occur (or didn't then) to teachers that some kids would not have a father --absent or otherwise--in their life.  He liked just making the card and having it be for me.  The fact that he has always called me "ooma" which is a varient of Hindi for mother made it something that other people wouldn't know right off was for his other mom. And he wouldn't write "happy fathers day" he was clever in his wording but no one outside the family would necessarily have picked up on the difference.

We don't have Ooma's day on Fathers Day.  Usually it is the week after but the scheduling part has gotten somewhat loosey goosey over the years because a few years ago K began working on weekends.  But I get the pampering sometime in June and I look forward to it.

One other funny aside about the whole convoluted situation of same sex parenting. . . When KC was little (infancy) he was in a family day care where I work.  The woman who watched him is still "Abuelita" to him but she had a hard time wrapping her mind around what to do with the 2 mom thing.  We tried to explain the Mom and Ooma concept and how we handled things but something got lost in translation.  But she tried--because on Fathers Day he got bundled up to come home clutching a card that said Happy Fathers Day to (my name) from KC and had a picture of him pasted in.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Non Neuro Typical Gift making

Chet wanted to give K a set of home made earrings. Typically he chooses to  make such things out of bread tabs and twisty ties.  Not exactly the ultimate in fashion statements!    In light of the craft supplies available at our local craft store,making a real pair of earrings that someone would actually wear, wasn't an unattainable goal.  We picked really cute faux turquoise charms and  some french hooks.  It wasn't till we got them home that I realized there was no way to attach them to the french hooks.  To Chet, this was no big deal.  "Just use twine!"  I explained the necessity of not using twine and back we went to the craft store.  With the help of a clerk we found something called jump rings which can be twisted open and will hold the jewel on the french hooks. Following me so far?  I even buy the tiny pointed jewelry pliers.

So what did I forget?  I forgot coordination.  As in Chet's lack of. Pardon me while I go bang my head on the wall somewhere.  Of course, he could not do the intricate work. He had OT all through school.  So while I helped him (I gave him the task of holding a magnifying glass which although not really needed, gave him a way to be helping) he regalled me with increasing ire on why twine would have been so much better.  Sigh.  They really do look lovely though and once it was done, I think he was pleased with them.

Mothers Day

It is Mothers Day tomorrow and this is the day that we spend honoring K.  I get an Ooma's Day later, usually sometime in late June.  I have been reading a lot about how hard this day is for kids and for moms.  And I remember when it was only Chet how hard it was for us.  He inevitably couldn't hold his behaviors together.  There is an odd correlation in him whereby the more he wants to achieve something the less achievable it becomes.  So our best Mothers Days were very low key.  And had a physical component like a hike or trip to the beach so that some of the anxiety energy could burn off without a meltdown.  And sometimes even that didn't work.

With Fiona Mothers Day has always been a non issue.  She calls me mom but it doesn't have the same meaning for her. And it reminds her of her first mother and how she loves her and misses her and has no capacity to understand what happened, even if I had all the story to give her.

Thankfully with my 3 younger kids, Mothers day is a more joyful experience.  Rob enjoys doing for people.  He prefers not to have to talk much about it but he gravitates to tangible ways to show caring and thus this holiday is tailor made for that.  He has a flower pot to make today, Lissa will help me decorate a tray.  KC has a craft and Chet has earrings to make.  I have a mug that we will all decorate together with special paint and she will get breakfast in bed, replete with tea in the special mug.  KC has announced he wants to write a poem and recite it to her.  So I expect sometime today we will work on that.  At least it explains why he has been walking around the house rhyming words together for the past two days! LOL

But as much as I personally love this day.  And I do. I think Hallmark aside, it is important to take that moment and do something special for someone. I also fully understand the grieving and the loss and the rage.  And I always spend extra time thinking of the four women who were first mothers to my children.  Of the woman in India who brought Chet into the world and for reasons unknown to me, had to leave him on the steps of a hospital.  I hope that it was because she wanted more food and a healthier life for him.  I have always prayed it wasn't because she died and no one was left to care for the tiny baby.

I think of Rob's first mother and hope that her life has taken a better turn.  That she is safe and healthy and stable.  That KC's mom got to go to college as she was hoping, that Lissa's mom is healthier now and living a safer life.  And I hope they all know how much I love our children, and how I wish I could let them know that.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Every morning one of Chet's jobs is to go down cellar and empty our dehumidifier.  We have had a very wet spring and with a stone foundation, seepage is inevitable.  It disappears quickly because the cellar has a dirt floor but I don't want mustiness to remain as there is no real way to ventilate the cellar effectively. Thus the dehumidifier.

This morning Chet came flying upstairs and bursts into the kitchen like his pants are on fire.  "You clogged the sink" he says in a voice that sounds fairly accusatory.  He is directing his comment to my wife.  He continues on to tell her that she must have "washed diapers in the big sink" and explains that he has deduced this because the sink is full of water and there is water on the floor.

Of course, K doesn't appreciate being accused of this, but in reality, Chet wasn't accusing.  His modus operandi is to take anything that is shaking the norm of his world and craft an explanation.  Soapy water overflowing the soak sink must mean that Mom washed something there.  He saw her do a load of diapers yesterday and thus it was diapers.  Doesn't matter that our washer is located in the upstairs bathroom.  I have learned over the years that the explanations he crafts don't have to be reasonable to neuro-typical people. They just have to help him order his world. Because an unordered world is a scary place to him.

I explained it would be better to come up and tell us what he found.  Just to report, and we would all work together to find the cause.  Which sadly enough seems to be a clogged line.  Could be (gulp) tree roots or something like that.  At the moment the toilets don't seem impacted but we are not doing any wash till this is resolved because it was soapy water that K said smelled like our detergent. I have no sense of smell so I am just relying on her here.  But I hope the repair guy comes soon because we easily do 5 loads of wash a day at our house and this will pile up fast!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A is for Ant

The mail came today, and guess what was in it?  KC's long awaited ants.  Um, gee honey look!  I so tried for enthusiasm and I was doing pretty darn well in the department till I got the package open on the porch. No way in heck was that package coming inside the HOUSE!  LOL  When opened there were all these warnings about how these were harvester ants and do.not.touch. them.  Warnings about how they give a nasty bite that typically causes swelling and sometimes bruising.  Yup, my son's doting UNCLE gave us this joy!  So now, my joy is even more dim and still in my happy voice I send the kids inside with the recycling.  And I stand there on the walk holding the vial of the wee beasties and knowing I somehow have to make myself pry off the top and dump them in the ant farm, which is filled with this blue gel stuff.  I stand there staring at them, transfixed with horror.  And thank goddess, my wife walks outside, takes the vial and dumps them in.  We seal the top (we put extra tape around the top for good measure--guess who helpfully suggested that!) and bring it in. 

I have to give Uncle props for fascinating my kids.  They really enjoyed watching the ants.  They have begun building tunnels and you can see them bite off chunks of the blue gel and carry it to another location and then come back for more.  It is interesting.  It is also creepy and when I go to bed tonight I just KNOW my dreams will be filled with ants.  Lots and lots of ants.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Peaceful Nights

If anyone does read my blog (and it still makes my eyes widen when I realize that people do!) they have got to be rolling their eyes as I keep rhapsodizing over the bed thing.  KC slept all.night.long.   In his own bed, and awoke with a smile on his face. 

Why do I keep going on and on?  It really isn't because nothing else has happened in my life!  It is more because co-sleeping is not the norm in our society. And even among friends who co-slept, their kids were in their own beds long before KC decided he was ready to make the transition.

Also although my wife initially supported co-sleeping--and I think at some level still does--she also believes in moving things along with our children if they are not moving quickly enough according to her internal time line.  I am way more laid back about things like who sleeps where, and how they get to their bed.  I have had to listen to people tell me this journey was "unnatural." That I was not "parenting"  That I would never  get my children out of my bed.  Well, let's just say it was awkward and hurtful to listen to the various comments.  So I am simply basking in happiness now.  Just basking!  LOL

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

And KC goes to bed!

KC's new bed arrived today.  Clearly I didn't need to order the frame as this made it waaaaay too tall.  Without the frame it is exactly as tall as my bed. It is at the bottom of my bed as I write this.  With the cosleeping bolster as a bed guard for him to cuddle and to keep him from falling out.  With his comfy sheets. With his blanket.  His bear.  And . . . him!

At 7:30 I typically put on a popular PBS on demand show that just plays sleepy music.  It is like a tranquilizer dart to him and he falls asleep in minutes.  Literally in minutes.  Then I work downstairs for a few hours and eventually carry him up to bed.  Tonight, I will walk up to bed all by myself! 

I am almost afraid to hit the publish button; as if saying this aloud will somehow jinx me.  But I think our little guy is just having a total power surge of confidence and I am loving watching this happen. And I am also feeling good about the fact that I haven't pushed any of this.  I have let it be on his terms, in his time and in his way.  There are so many things out of children's control. I try to let them have a say when it is possible and reasonable. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

Lissa gets herself dressed!

Kids are so different!  I was wondering aloud to another mom if I should be worried because Lissa at 3 does not know a single letter.  She knows the ABC song and can sing it 90 mph but recognize a letter?  Any letter?  Nope.  Can you tell that as a reader and a homeschooler the ole stress level was rising?  Not to mention the fact that Lissa does not care that she doesn't recognize letters.  LOL

The thing is, despite having 4 kids I have no real yardstick for what is the "norm" for this skill.  Chet had to learn a new language as a toddler.  Recognizing letters took longer but it suddenly clicked and he was reading words at age 4.

Rob came to me at 5.  He didn't know how to read.  He did know all his letters but had not been taught how to sound words out or group them in anything but his name. He had never been to a library.  He actually participated in some nifty Title 1 stuff that helped bring the reading along really quickly when we got him enrolled in Kindergarten here.

KC loved playing with letters.  He had soft letters that he played with and when he was 2.5 he knew each letter visually as a result.  For what its worth, Lissa has the same letters and couldn't care less about them.  At any rate, KC has been reading for nigh onto a year now and knew letters for a looooong time.  One of the moms at KC's dance class works at a pre-school and she assured me that Lissa is totally normal.  Her son who is Lissa's age has exactly the same interest and understanding of letters. (that would be none!) LOL

And this morning, Lissa got up and announced she was going to get herself dressed all by herself.  And she did.  KC didn't do that till he was um maybe 5????  I so have to remember not to stress and to just celebrate.  They are all doing fine.  Life is good!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

And they're off!

Saturdays are busy and fun.  When you put May Day AND the Kentucky Derby on the same day, well it is high drama at our house!  LOL  This morning we mailed Nana's May basket, and a small bit of jewelry and make up to Fiona. Then it was off to do banking and the library and dance class.  At the dance studio there were all these women sitting on lawn chairs in front of the school.  Say what???  This, it seemed ,was the ticket line.  The recital ticket sales were commencing this afternoon and people who clearly equate 5 and 6 year olds wandering aimlessly around the stage for 4 hours or so were literally queued up hours in advance.  Needless to say I was not one of them.  This production, sweet though it might be, will not be the Boston Ballet.  Nor would it be one of the musical artists  Rob and I saw at Christmas.  Sean Kingston I might wait in line for.  Tickets to this , not real likely.  Luckily I found out that if one was not a groupy, one could return about 3ish and one would not find a line.  So that is what we did. And in between, we played outside with waterguns, made cookies for Rob to bring to fellowship, delivered May baskets, made silly hats to wear during the Derby, and bought KC a new mattress and box spring.  The latter took the longest as just like Goldilocks he had to try all the beds (or very nearly so) to see which would give him his "beauty sleep."  He decided on a set and it turned out it was on sale (can we all cheer here!) AND he said he thinks he is getting tired of the Good Night Show and would like to try going up to bed with his bear at 7:30.  This will begin when his new bed comes on Tuesday.  Wahoo.  Three cheers. I am so hoping that this transition goes smoothly and that my laid back child led efforts in this regard are really beginning to come to fruition.