Thursday, September 30, 2010

Ages and Stages

Someone I read once said that essentially there are stages of growth and everyone goes through them.  Well for a long time, I wasn't sure that was really so.  My only bench mark for years was Chet and his emotional and social growth progression was so uneven that I couldn't be sure. 

But lately, he has been a big overgrown pre-schooler.  With food.  The interesting thing to me is that little kids typically like to try new foods.  They are adventurers at that stage in life.  And they are cute, so when they say "I don't like it" after they have licked it or bit it or whatever, it is no big deal.

But Chet was never like that.  As is true with many autistic people he had food issues, and sensory issues.  And sitting and eating issues.  He had about 6 foods he liked and we spent most of his childhood getting him used to a wider array of nutritious things.  For a period of time he was so limiting in his diet that I supplemented with Boost and Ensure shakes to make sure he got a sufficient amount of calories and nutrients.

Here's the thing.  All of a sudden at 25 years old, Chet is all about trying foods.  You set something out for cooking and he is there, "hey can I try that?"  Much the way that Rob found ways to re-capture childhood experiences he should have had as a baby and didn't, Chet is now being an adventurous little pre-schooler.  Personally, it is fine with me.  One of my favorite books is Leo the Late Bloomer!

Late night musings

Most times I am very much a "live in the present" kind of gal.  I am generally an optimist by nature.  Glasses are always half full to me.  This is not to say that I don't plan for things because I sure as heck do.  Couldn't do Yule for a family our size if I didn't plan waaaay ahead!  But I don't tend to borrow trouble as my mom used to say.  I don't do a lot of "what ifs" when my kids go out to play.  Or when we travel.  Or when I watch the news.

There is one exception though.  Drugs.  I have to confess I worry about drugs a lot.  Maybe it is because I read some of Katie Granju's blog where she details the horrific loss of her beloved son Henry. A mother who parented her son in many of the same ways that I parent my children. 

 Maybe it is because the jury is out on what the incidence is for a child to become a drug user if the first mother was.  There are some studies that say the incidence is higher but in those cases many of the children were reared in that unhealthy environment.  So what I worry about is if the stability of my loving home counters a potential genetic predisposition to addictive substances.  And obviously I don't know, nor can I know for a long time.  But every once in a while, I fret and wonder, and pray.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Back Handsprings?????

Today was gymnastics for Lissa.  We barely made it to class on time because she has to eat before we go or she is so desparately hungry when we get home that she melts down in a truly unbelievably awful fashion.  We have found that mac and cheese give her just the right combo of protein and carbs and then she has a light supper when we come home.

But back to the class.  We did the first exercise which involves pretending one is a tree in the forest that has been chopped down and falling backward onto a mat.  She does this fearlessly, did it for the first time last week and apparently adores it.  So Coach M stepped up the game and taught her how to jump into this backward falling tree thing and happily told me it was to prepare her for a back handspring.  Oh my.  

Then we went over to the straddle roll station and she aced that.  Then to the place where they practice something called donkey kicks, except that with Lissa she is practicing handstand readiness as she does amazing donkey kicks.  (which is no surprised as my wee miss can be totally mule headed; please excuse bad pun.)  Then because I guess Lissa decided things hadn't been "fun" enough she hollers to her coach, "Hey Coach watch this and throws herself backward on the mat sort of putting her hands up behind her head.  If it had been done with more control it might have been a graceful backbend.  It wasn't that but she didn't wreck herself either.  Coach M gasped as Lissa laughed.  I looked at Coach and said "this is my living room, every single day."  I bet she  finally REALLY believes me now that I didn't teach Lissa that dive roll!

Fionas Call, K's BP

Fiona called last  night.  She is doing well. She shared the letter she wrote to her cousin and it is amazingly mature.  In essence it says that she forgives her for disappearing out of her life and that she loves her and hopes that they can reconnect and work up to family visits.  It is huge for Fiona to embrace the concept of forgiveness; I am blown away by that.Typically she had only two default options, self blame or anger at the person.  I am less sure that the cousin will see herself as having things to be forgiven for, but I hope she just takes it in the spirit intended.

Unfortunately the amazing Jane is not available on Saturdays until early November so we won't get together till then.  If this visit was not scheduled to be our first off site visit, I would not really feel Jane needed to be there.  But it is, and the reality is, that a) I don't know the area at all and b) I don't know how Fiona will be off campus.  So we have scheduled for the first Saturday in November.  At least she has a date and although we will keep reminding her of that and use the weeks ahead to plan what we will do and where we will go.

Meanwhile my wife has found out that she appears to have hypertension. She is very surprised by this because she has been eating fairly healthfully and losing weight and exercising semi regularly.  I do think though that she holds onto a lot of stress and that may be more the culprit than diet or exercise.  Our MD wants us to buy a machine that will allow her to do a month of readings and then she will bring those to his office and they will decide at that time if medication is in her future.  Meanwhile, I am hoping she will consider yoga or meditation to help her relax mentally.

Monday, September 27, 2010

A new migraine medicine

OK so thus far the jury is waay out on the new herbal supplement I am trying.  But I haven't had it for long enough to be fair and it is also unfair to think it will produce a miracle, like living migraine free.  Though I can dream, right?  Well today I had a doozy of a headache and it got markedly worse at the end of the day.  It was rainy here today yet the headlights of the cars on the way home were killing me. It is a ridiculously short commute too, so it is silly.

After supper I went up to lie down for a few minutes figuring semi darkness and a prone position might make me feel less queasy.  Lissa and KC were taking forever to finish up and they were so busy entertaining one another that it was pretty loud.  Funny, but loud.  At any rate, after I had been lying there about 15 minutes I heard them announcing that they had finished.  Mind you the dining room is on the first floor and my bedroom on the second.  (just in case you didn't believe the loud factor!) 

Pretty soon they realized that I was upstairs lying down. They remembered that I had come home with a migraine. I could hear them in the stairhall below me trying to decide what to do to make me "all better."  Finally they decided putting on a merlin cap and bringing me a model T-Rex would do the trick. LOL

Kinda did too, because it was so sweet and so cute.  T-Rex, the new defeater of migraines, who knew? (chuckle)

A ducky Sunday

This is the kind of picture you get from a 14 year old that you make the photographer at an event he isn't thrilled about attending. LOL  After church yesterday we went to a playland/farm type place for an adoption picnic hosted by the agency that did our homestudies for both KC and Elisabeth.  They are an amazing agency and I know from personal experience that they are very supportive and truly counsel birth moms who contact them. (this is not  in relation to my last two adoptions but to the experience that a family member had who had contacted them with an unplanned pregnancy.)

At any rate, we go every year, but going this year meant missing a couple quarters of football.  Rob is all about football.  I made him the photographer as he also usually loves that task and it gave me both hands to help the littles on the play equipment.  So of course, I figured he was taking cute shots of the kids on the neat climbing apparatus, or digging for the "dinosaur" bones or pretending to milk the cow statue. 

Nope, got pics of ducks and deer and other wildlife.  Gotta love teen revenge!  It was fun though despite that glitch and I love seeing  D and R who helped us through the choppy waters of the interstate compact in our adoption process. They are truly both kind and amazing people.   And we were home before 1/2 time so Rob still got to see his Patriots!

Last night was also Rob's first youth group experience.  Technically last year he was old enough but I felt he wasn't mature enough to handle it and would feel intimidated by the older teens there.  Our church has a really amazing youth group and kids hang in all through high school and often come back to visit from college.  But this year, at 14 I thought he needed to stretch a little so he gave it a go, and thus far, it's all good!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Strolling through Saturday

We are in our "normal" Saturday routine now. We shop early in the morning when the grocery story opens at 7:00 a.m. Then we come home and unload and relax till just a bit before 9:00.  Then we head to the bank and over to the dance school for KC's dance class.  He is so happy to be back at the class.  He adores his teacher and also just the time to express himself with movement.  He can't wait till next year because he'll be old enough for hip hop.  Last year I had to work super hard to make friends among the dance parents but I must have passed the muster as this year everyone was friendly and I had folks to chat with the whole hour of class.  This is good. I am a chatter by nature.

After that we head to the library and then home for lunch.  Today, because our city had a fair in the center of town, we all walked down town after lunch and hung out there for an hour or so.  Then we came home and I made cookies to bring to the adoption picnic tomorrow. 

The weather is a huge gift today. Warm, probably hot to some folks, but I love it so.  I think I will go plan supper on the deck for the tribe because there won't be too many more nights with temps like this!

Friday, September 24, 2010

It's Fall

It is fall and we have begun to welcome it, despite the crazy warm temps we have had the past couple days. Truly I am not complaining, it could stay like this all year and I'd be loving it.  But I also love the changing of leaves on the trees, which inspired one of KC's  "big questions" for science this past week.  He found a drying leaf that had turned color outside and brought it in.  He wanted to put it in water because he thought this would make it soft and the colors brighter.  (think stem first like a flower not floating on a pool)  So we wrote his big question and what he was doing to answer it and he gave it a go.  When it didn't work, which he could readily see, we got a magnifying glass so he could see the open stem on a green leaf and the plug that develops in fall which is part of why the colors become visible.  He was fascinated that the color is really there all along and just not visible to us.  I am loving that  homeschooling is meeting the needs of his inquisitive little mind.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Browsing Through Catalogs

It is that time of year when catalogs start to be stuffed into mailboxes.  Sometimes I wonder that our mailbox doesn't just give out under the weight of all that unnecessary mail.  Well, it isn't totally unnecessary.  As a person who hates trolling malls I do use catalogs and the internet for the majority of my shopping.  But my Yule shopping is almost done (except for a few things for the 3 eldest and the stocking stuffers). I was looking through one of the catalogs yesterday for said stocking stuffers.  I try to find silly but slightly unusual and always inexpensive things.  Instead I found a very lovely canvas art that said "Home is where your story begins."

Oh geez.  I realize that mainstream America is not up on the fact that all children do not live with their first family.  Despite the beauty of the art that could NEVER go on my wall.  Which home?  Mine, negating all that happened before they became my beloved children?  Do we say it honors the orphanage that my eldest lived in?  The home my second son was removed from due to serious safety issues? One of his many foster homes?   For the two youngest, placed with me mere days after birth it wouldn't strike an off key chord right now.  But there will come a time when they want to know more and that sentiment would hurt.

I think I'll stick with "Live, Laugh and Love."

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The terror of Tinkerbelle

KC is not a brave soul.  Not filled with derring do like, say his little sister Lissa.  His is a sensitive and contemplative spirit.  I have long known this and it is fine with me.  But I had a very funny example of this 2 nights ago. 

KC woke up in the night with a bad dream.  He had to crawl into bed with me (which is fine) but unfortunately he woke before I came up to bed and laid there whimpering for who knows how long.  Last night as I tucked him into bed he informed me he would feel safer in my bed.  OK no biggie. I tucked him into my bed.  But I asked why he was so frightened.  We don't watch scary movies with the kids, and Sprout TV isn't known for scary images. 

"No more D* for me" he answered emphatically.  He had played on the computer Sunday afternoon and gone to that site with Rob.
I asked what scared him there.
"Tinkerbelle," he answered.

Can you imagine trying to keep a straight face when your 6 y/o tells you this?  It was hard but I am proud to say I accomplished that task.  I think it was actually a different character in the short clip he saw, not Tinkerbelle herself.  At least I hope so.  Lissa has decided to be Tinkerbelle for Halloween.  If he really was afraid of Tinkerbelle, it could be bad.  Very, very bad.  ROFL

Monday, September 20, 2010

Camping and Yoga

Our last  camp out of the year is always a get together with lots of friends from two churches.  Like maybe 150 of us.  So clearly they are not all friends--even me, who likes to talk with anyone doesn't know that many people at a single gathering!  There are buildings with rooms that can be rented but that is pricier and noisier than camping.  I know that my brood need to have a place where it is easy and safe to decompress so I have always camped in all the years we have gone.

People sometimes think me odd for finding this a relaxing weekend. I am there alone with 4 kids.  And in actuality the 2 younger made a couple of friends that were with me most of the day Saturday so it was more like having 5 or 6 kids sometimes.  But it really wasn't hard.  And I didn't have to cook as there is a big dining hall with coffee available all day long.  Truly, fresh brewed in a variety of flavors.  Oh my goddess, it was divine!

I even had one father offer to watch my kids for a time so I could relax and do an "adult" thing. His daughter had been with me for most of the day and he wanted to reciprocate.  An adult thing I mused.  After hoping he did not mean go take a shower (LOL) I went and did 1/2 of a yoga class. The class started late and I was a bit nervous leaving Lissa with someone. She is fast, my darling daughter.  The term "greased lightening" is totally applicable.  But she was still in one piece, the sweet man who offered to watch the my kids seemed none the worse for wear, so it was all good.

And I have only done yoga about 5 times in my life but the class was a lot of fun. Every time I have tried yoga it has always been a different form of it.  Sometimes it works for me and sometimes not. I am not very new agey.  I remember one class I did when KC was teeny, like 9 or 10 months old.  He fussed part way through so I put him on my hip for the last part of class.  I was told sternly that I would be unbalanced, my various chakras would never open, my third eye would need bifocals etc.  Well, I exaggerate a little bit but the instructor did say I would be out of balance. LOL  Another instructor had us do a lot of breathing and sitting still. I figure I am pretty proud of the fact that I can move AND breathe and prefer to do something besides sitting in one place huffing and puffing. 

This was actually a pretty cool class. First off it was held on the beach on sand that shifted around under your feet--giving me a good reason for losing my balance in the more challenging poses.  Then there was the fact that the instructor has a martial arts background as do I, so this was a class that had more motion and less looking for my missing eye to waken and such.  At any rate, it was all good.

I am sad that camping is over though.  It is really such fun!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Normal" Days

Normal for me makes other people shake their heads in bewilderment.  Our routine is pretty well in place now and so on weekdays:

5:30  I get up, make tea, empty the dishwasher, get dressed and do my hair
5:45 I check Rob's algebra homework and english assignments
6:00 I eat a piece of toast and  chat with my wife
6:10 I email my mom and check my emails
6:25 I pour out the kids juice
6:30 I bring one glass of juice up to Chet (he will pass out if he doesn't drink juice first) I help Lissa get dressed, and "wake" the other boys. In  reality they are all awake and getting up on their own
6:35 I make breakfasts for all 4 and escape to the far reaches of the house while they eat and entertain each other.
7:00 I get out the books I'll use with the kids for homeschooling while they put dishes in dw and do recycling, bed making etc.  When they are done we begin our classes.  I start the littles off first so they are busy while Rob and I get into meatier things.  Lissa is doing a cutting and pasting thing right now.  KC works in his Kuman math book and when he finishes that he plays his recorder, either with K for a class or just practice, depending on the day. Rob and I discuss the concepts in our Eng. Lit first and go over his assignments for that. Then we jump into algebra.  I have him work on algebra first as I am home and can answer any questions.  With his lit assignment he can either call me at work or ask K but she would not be able to help with the math.  Also some of his english actually takes place at night as we are reading the book together and we have mini discussions as we read.
7:30 I make Chet's lunch while I am talking to Rob.  If Chet doesn't have food laid out for him he picks inadequate meals (think 5 crackers, 5 grapes and a piece of cheese) because there are so few foods he really likes.  He will eat other food however if it is just put in front of him) Then I make my lunch to take to work.
7:45 I realize I still wear slippers and find shoes, kiss everyone goodbye and leave for work.

That is just the front end of my work day.  But it flows well and oddly enough, it works!  The day rambles along with me working till 4, and eventually falling into bed about 10:30 p.m.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

This and That

Chet is relieved the floor will be green.  I don't know that he sees green in the same  hue we do, but it doesn't gross him out, nor will he gross out others.  KC is annoyed.  He feels the honey toned yellow we had chosen was beautiful, and although he really likes green is having a hard time letting go of his color choice.  We explained how the yellow bothered Chet and he said he should just "get over it."  The righteous indignation of an artist, but he will be the one who will get over it--Chet couldn't. The other kids are okay; they liked the green also.

K told the floor guy (who is a friend who supplies flooring where I work) how we came to our color choice.  He cracked up and said " oh I just saw something about autism on TV."  K said he ought to try living with it for 24/7.  LOL

Fiona called tonight and it was a good call.  She and I talked a bit about the music awards and the infamous shoes worn by Lady Gaga.  Fiona and i share a deep love of shoes and Gaga's are well--strange comes to mind!  LOL  Fiona  is going to write a letter to her cousin and wanted to know if I wanted her to say hi from me and Robbie.  Awkward moment as I am in occasional contact with her cousin but I know Fiona does not know this. Aside from the fact that this would look like I had been doing something deceptive behind her back, I think that the motivation for her question was because she  has a need for all the people in her family to like each other.  I think it is a huge step forward for her.  Before, there was definately a lot of compartmentalizing.  We were the substitutes.  We were the poor substitutes.  And I get the why of that.  She had every right to feel that way.  But now, we have so many years together that we are more than substitutes, though obviously occupy a different role and place in her heart than blood kin. Somehow together over the years, we have re-written her definition of family and it has become less threatening and she has embraced the love we offer.

 I hope that Nicole either picks up on this or is guided down that path by the esteemable Jane.  Fiona's healing is a fragile thing.  I feel like slowly a deep and infected wound is healing.  There will be a scar as there would from any major injury but there is also the chance of health.  I don't want anything to jeopardize that.

Non Neurotypical Home Decor

I may or may not have blogged about the disaster that is our kitchen floor.  The short version is that a hidden leak from a newly installed dishwasher caused serious damage and the floor needs to be replaced.  This is the floor that was supposed to last our lifetime when we put it in 15 years ago.  And it might have, as we used VCT tile and a plywood underlayment.  But even quality supplies can not withstand weeks of sneaky water damage.

Dealing with the insurance issues has been an exercise in patience.  They wanted us to go after the plumber who made the mistake.  I work in the business world. I understand liability very well.  But in my opinion I pay a homeowners policy for a reason.  It is for situations like this and it is up to THEM to go after the plumbers insurance if they want to do so.  Not up to me.  Especially since this same plumber fixes my furnace when it doesn't work in the middle of winter.  Quickly.  Without complaint.  And has worked for us for 20 years and this is the first mistake they have made. Everyone makes mistakes. We are all human and imperfect. So at last we have a meeting of the minds whereby I will eat the $500 deductable and my insurer will pay the rest of the cost of the new floor.

So we have moved on from having constant convos with insurance people to actually picking out the tile.  Our previous tile was mostly white with green lines running through it.  Pretty but it shows EVERY speck of dirt.  And trust me, with 4 kids and a dog and a cat, there are lots of um, specks! LOL  Our kitchen island is green on the yellow tone of a green as opposed to the blue tones.  Our other counter is corian and sort of a sandstone color. The walls are knotty pine. 

K and I looked at sample boards last evening and narrowed it down to 3 colors that we liked.  The two we liked the most were golden colored.  They actually sort of looked like the golden yellow of the pine floors of the adjacent dining room. In the interest of democracy we called in each kid and asked which of the two yellows they liked.  They made their choice.  Then Chet came in to vote.  And told us that both yellows look like dried urine.

Um.  OK.  While I realize that Chet has color deficianicies that mean he doesn't see colors as we do, I don't know if this was how he truly sees it or just said for shock value.  At any rate, what I DO know is that he would say this to every.single.person.  Every time someone came over, Chet would say this to them.  He fixates like that.  Now I could personally overlook that, but it was clear from K's response that hearing this even one more time that night was going to send her round the bend.

Our new floor will be green.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Musical Self Analysis

Rob and I finished watching the VMA's tonight. We had to tape the last half of them last night and see them tonite.  I am trying to get him to be able to stay up a bit later and still be able to function the next day but he does still really need a lot of sleep.  So we called it a night last night at 10ish. 

Music is a great way to connect with teens--especially teens that otherwise are less than talkative.  They love to share tidbits about the artists they like, dis or applaud as they see fit and tell me interesting factoids (such as Linkin Park did the sound track for the Transformer movies. . . my life is richer for knowing that LOL)  But it is a bonding kind of thing and I enjoy so many kinds of music. . .

The funny thing is that I have always said I have not got the ability to remember songs from the past though.  You know how people have that song from way back in high school that they remember.  It defines their experiences.  Or a song that was playing when they met their love etc etc.  Well I remember artists I liked but I could never seem to remember the lyrics.  Maybe a chorus but that would be it.  K on the other hand would be belting out Billy Joe's Piano Man or Meatloaf's Bat out of Hell and staring at me when I could only sort of bob my head and hum

VH1 has reassured me.  I do not have early onset alzheimers musicalus.  I discovered that although I like LOTS of music, I seem to have a leaning toward hip hop.  How do I know this?  I was listening to a VH1 special on the top 100 hip hop songs of all time.  And I KNEW them.  I could sing them!

So although I enjoyed Billy Joel, and Bob Seger and White Snake in my younger days, apparently my deeper musical leanings are hip hop and r&b.The thing is, that among my friends there was NO ONE who listened to R and B and hip hop.  So the songs that I shared with my friends at school, with K, those were rock songs.  Which I enjoyed, but obviously didn't love enough to remember deeply. Go figure!  This bit of musical psycho analysis is brought to you by VH*1 LOL

Birthday Celebrating!

So yesterday we celebrated my birthday.  My whole  birthday thing is sort of weird as I was actually born in January but claim September 9th as the day I  celebrate my birthday. But then this year September 9th was KC's first art class which effectively precluded having a party.  The following day was Rob's first piano lesson.  Ditto. Saturday my wife works a 10 hour shift so I had suggested we have the party on Sunday.  Which worked well except my poor wife was a little frazzled as she forgot about it. (laughing)  The kids of course didn't.  They are all about parties. 

KC decided that I would start the day with breakfast in bed and he got up at 5:30 with Kirsty to make that happen.  (fresh muffins in bed are a truly decadent pleasure!)  Lissa woke minutes later and came to my door.  In a loud stage whisper said to me:  "OOMA I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY TO YOU:  HAPPY BIRTHDAY."  Then she marched downstairs to help with the breakfast prep.  Her job was picking some flowers from our garden to bring up.  I am enjoying the last of our brown eyed susans in our room now.

Rob made me a braided necklace which is really cool. Somehow the braid is rounded.  I have no idea how he did it; he learned at camp.  Chet gave me a certificate for a CD of my choice (it was wise of him to let me choose as I have very different taste in music from him)  Lissa gave me a new vest to wear on chilly days when it isn't quite coat weather and my wife gave me a Patriots hoodie. 

I felt very very loved.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Bear with me!

In an odd turn of events for a homeschooling family, I am proud to introduce "back to school bear!"  Someone gave us this cute white teddy and while he was lovely, my kids have a ton of stuffed animals and I am chary about having too many around due to our allergies and KC's family history of asthma.  But the bear was so cute I turned him into a front porch decoration.  You can't really tell from the pic but the pencil he is holding is one we got as a souvenier somewhere and it looks like it was made from a twig.  Small things amuse me, what can I say?

I envision turning him into  Halloween bear for October, and something Thankgivingish in November and Santa's helper in December.  I figure why pay for those silly geese statues that you can dress up when I got a bear for free?  (actually the geese are not silly. I have long coveted them, but I also live in the town that invented the plastic pink flamingo so I figure I am predisposed to such things by osmosis or something!)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Rob tries piano!

So today was Rob's first piano class.  He and his teacher really seemed to hit it off.  It is only 30 minutes which is a great time fit for him.  The instructor said he has some good musical instincts and was surprised to learn he hasn't really had much in the line of musical education up till now.  K said our Rob had a big smile on his face when he came out and that was worth it all to me.  

Thursday, September 9, 2010

KC's First Art Class!

A friend who is also a talented artist has begun classes for children from the studio space in her home.  We enrolled KC for the first three months.  It is about a 30 minute jaunt from our house so we will not be continuing through the winter.  But for my art loving wee lad, I think this is a match made in heaven.  J is exciting, creative and not the type of art teacher to imply that there is a "right" way or a "wrong" way to create.  It was important to me that this not be the case.  I know too many kids who lost a love of art because of an ill chosen teaching style or a careless word by a teacher.  For KC art is tremendously cathartic and essential.  He literally goes nowhere without paper and at least a pencil.  Sometimes crayons or a pen as well.  If we hike, he has to stop and sketch what he wants to remember. If we are waiting somewhere, he has to doodle.  If this wellspring was accidently capped, I think he would lose a way that he makes sense of his world and remains the grounded little fellow that he is.

He came home from his session absolutely glowing.  They had learned a bit about Georgia O'Keefe and used her artistic style as an inspiration for their drawings.  He was so animated and happy and his sunflower picture is all ready hanging on the bedroom wall.  While they were gone, I got Fiona's scrapbook pages together from our last visit so that i can mail those to her on Saturday morning.

Tomorrow, Rob will meet his new piano teacher and we will hope that this is a good a match for him.  I'll be buying all my clothes at the thrift store this year but that is not really a hardship.  Seeing the way these experiences help my kids to blossom and grow is priceless.

Back to the Gym!

No, not me, Lissa.  (though I love working out, keeping up with the kiddos consists of my workouts these days!) Yesterday marked the start of the new gymnastics year and Lissa was sooooooo ready. She has been marking this down for the three weeks hiatus between the end of the abbreviated summer session and the start of the real classes in the fall.

It amazes me that my daughter who can't sit still for virtually anything at home can sit angelically on the floor while her coach explains the components of 5 stations and demonstrates.  Other kids jump up and try and run over and begin a station during the explanation, but not Lissa. 

This class is a bit of a step up from her beginner class so we are working on her holding my hand less when on the apparatus and letting her coach spot her.  Mostly I am okay with this, but part of me feels a pang too because the gym is a place where she wants to hold my hand.  Many times I have to remind her to hold my hand for safety; she is so independent that she doesn't want to just companionably walk holding hands. (by contrast KC will still do this at 6)

On the balance beam she got a little bored at the first station with just stepping over the obstacles placed on it so she jumped over them. Coach M loved it and said this is the "next step" so apparently we just hopped to a new skill. (chuckle)

Then we got to a station where there was an inclined pad to tumble on.  Lissa figured out how to do a dive roll in our living room last week (she routinely tries to give me gray hair I swear!) and she put this into play there.  Coach M said that most 3 y/o's don't have the arm strength for this and did I teach it to her. I said not at all, she did it in our living room and I told her she had to wait and do it in class for her coach.  So while all the rest of the class did regular tumblesaults, Lissa did diving rolls.  Aside from the benefit of having a place to shine and a skill that is unique to our family, the thing I have noticed most is that she focusses better and is less hair trigger temper when she has the outlet of gymnastics.  It isn't just the physicality as we are a very active family and say, substituting kick ball or hiking or a day at the beach don't have the same effect.  I don't understand it but I like it!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fiona has birth family contact

Fiona has always desparately wanted contact with her birth family and who could blame her.  She has regular contact with Rob, had one visit with Dee (other brother) and nothing else.  The reasons for this are so complicated.  Mostly they hinge on the fact that the birth family members who are capable of being in contact in a safe and appropriate way have not been consistant and reliable in the past.  The lack of constancy caused Fiona such mental health issues that those in charge of her care (not me!) decided that there would be no contact.  Period. 

That has recently been amended and a cousin was permitted to send a letter and a lot of pictures to her.  When Fiona called last night, she was over the moon with excitement and joy.  I am glad too.  I am in irregular contact with this same cousin (mostly via FB but occascionally by phone).  She is a good person.  I think the big problem is that she too has a very complicated life and not always perhaps the supports she needs (or needed then) and the ball got dropped.  Sadly, that "ball" was Fiona.  For a loooooong time I was really angry with the cousin. Because I could see the pain my daughter was in from her lack of contact. 

Then I found out, years later why the contact stopped and my heart went out to her.  I wish she had had the courage or thought to share what she was going through with the people who were in charge of Fiona's care.  I think (or is that hope?) that it would have made a difference in the decision to sever contact.

If contact is to be re-established I can't think of a better person to facilitate it than Jane and the team at the Great School in the City. 

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Weekend

This would be why we didn't swim in the ocean when we went
camping this weekend!  Isn't the surf spectacular though?
Thanks to Hurricane Earl this is how the ocean looked on
Saturday and this was not high tide.  We really enjoyed
watching the surf though and thanks to my wife have some awesome pics.
We did hang out with my mom and picnic near a lighthouse we love.  We also had time to do some hiking where we could admire Casco Bay.  After the hike we played soccer (our family's variant of this anyhow!) in the big field where we lunched.

There were campfires. . .

and so many memories to carry forward into the months to come.  I just love camping!                               

Friday, September 3, 2010

Song of peace and love

I have a favorite song that goes "when I breathe in, I breathe in peace, when I breathe out, I breathe out love."  We need to breathe in peace the next few days because next week the busy-ness of fall descends upon our quiet household.  (okay, so we are not a quiet household and you are all laughing, but things do ramp up!)

Homeschooling begins in full swing, not just "homeschool lite."  Wednesday, Lissa starts her gymnastics again and this means I have to skip lunch so that I can leave work early enough to bring her.  Thursday, KC has art lessons from 4:30 to 6 and on Friday, Rob has piano lessons at 3 p.m. (the teacher just called me today to set the date and time of his classes). Then on this coming Saturday I have to chair a meeting at church in the morning, and Kirsty resumes her Saturday work schedule.  Sunday will be wide open for our family though and if it is nice, I anticipate a hike in lieu of formal church.  The following weekend the kids and I go camping with friends from church at the ocean in Maine.  The following Saturday we add KC's dance class to our clipboards of fun and then we end the last Sunday in September with church in the morning and a trip to an adoption picnic in the afternoon.

At some levels coordinating all this is a challenge but it is also a joy.  I see our brood increasingly able to find their strengths and interests beyond their immediate sibling group and this is of course right, natural and healthy.  I just need to keep singing my song!

A Rockin 25th Birthday!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Not camping but fun

We had planned to leave for our camping trip this morning but nature dictated a change in plans.  Hurricane Earl is roaring up the east coast and it is not clear if the coast of the state we plan to visit will get a glancing blow or a more significant hit.  Even a glancing blow might mean it wouldn't be too bright to have 1/2 of our family in a tent under towering pine trees.  LOL  So we decided to err on the side of caution and stay home till Saturday morning.  Most reports indicate the danger will be over by then so we hope to leave home early and arrive at our campsite by 8 a.m. and still have a good chunk of the weekend to camp.

BUT that left today with children who were understandably disappointed.  An Ooma who was significantly disappointed herself.  I don't get a lot of off time from my job (in fact my boss tried to call me in for Friday of my vacation and I stood firm) AND today is Chet's birthday and we had him primed for a camping birthday celebration.  Most 25 year olds would be fairly amenable to a change of plan but not a 25 year old with autism.

K and i came up with a fun plan b.  We drove to NH to the Polar Caves.  It was cooler there--our state is sweltering right now and that has bothered lots of the family, though not me!) The air was cleaner and easier to breathe.  It was a good day to visit as we were almost the only people there.  There were a few other visitors but no lines, no queues to see something, all of which made it an achievable experience for Chet.  We did all the caves but the last one as I was not sure I could safely get both Lissa and KC through the lemon squeeze.  KC is good about waiting if you ask him to, Lissa not so much and in that enviroment, waiting sometimes equates with safety.  So we skipped that but did all the others.  We fed the animals and admired the peacocks.  We saw a ravens nest,which was very cool.  It was a very fun visit.  In the picture above we are all posing by the signature sculptures that flank the entry to the Polar Caves.  I just noticed when I was uploading this picture that I have had these shorts for a positively sinful amount of years.  I am wearing these same shorts in a picture of my niece's 1st birthday party.  She is a year older than Chet.  Maybe I should write to the company that made them and tell them how long they have lasted!  LOL

When we got home we did supper and Chet's "rock and roll" themed birthday. I will post some pictures later.  It was fun and he seemed to genuinely enjoy his gifts.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

New Migraine aid?

Earlier this week one of my residents came up to the office and asked if I read W*men's W*rld.  I didn't want to tell her usually it was my Chet who read them, but occasionally I do see cute desserts in them so I said sure.  I have helped her out with a few non business paperwork issues and I think she wanted to reciprocate by giving me something.

And she did. I was looking through it during my lunch and right after the cool cheese cake recipe was an article on a natural treatment for migraines that I had not heard of.  Sheesh. I thought I had tried them all.  Niacin therapies, feverfew, and more.  This  article talked about taking butterbur but it is something you take daily, not waiting for the crushing migraine to come say hello.  I went to a couple of the medical websites that I use for verification of data and got the brand name of a form of this herb that does not have something in the process that will kill my liver.  Apparently if one is not careful, there are capsules out there that may get rid of your migraine AND your liver.  Not a two fer that I am interested in.  So I have ordered the butterbur and we will see what happens.  It has been used pretty extensively in Europe for about 20 or so years.

It would be cool if it helps!

Lissa can't wait for puberty!

Last night Lissa was in the bathroom with me getting ready for her shower.  I was still wearing my work clothes (which is unusual but it was kind of a crazy day) and she had just eaten a snack.  Sticky hands city with which she then reached up and began to pat my bosom.  (don't you love the victorian delicacy of the word bosom??  LOL)  Anyway, I gently told her that breasts were private parts and we did not touch them without permission and she had sticky hands that could get my dress gunky.  She looked up at me angelically.

"Ooma, those are bwests."
"Yes, Lissa, they are."
"I can't wait till I get bwests Ooma."
"Really?"  (thinking to self, oh geez, what the heck???)
"Yup, cuz then I can put my toothpaste on my toothbwush all by MYSELF!"