Wednesday, March 30, 2011

KC Cracks Me Up!

 OK, this is a pic from KC's last dance recital.  He is always twirling around the front hall, grabbing Lissa and doing a fairly credible version of some ballroom stuff. Loves ballet and has the best leaps in his class. 
And this is KC too!  In a blink of an eye he can become a "rocker" as seen here, or the baseball hat goes on backwards and he is a rapper and a b-boy, singing and break dancing.  I asked him where he learned how to rap and he held his thumb and forefinger apart about an inch and looked and me and said "Ooma I've been a rapper since I was this big!"  ROFL

Oh and just for the record, I am making a HUGE parental sacrifice for KC's recital this year.  The local radio stations sponsored day long concert is the same day.  I will miss. Flo-rida.  Sniff.  One Republic.  Sob.  Tyler Cruz, the band that sings G6.  And more.  Yes more.  But I blocked it all out and focussed on how darn cute he will be as a gingerbread boy in his tap number!

Fiona, meds and hospitalization

Last night Fiona called. Well, sort of.  She mostly just breathed and murmered. We talked.  Jane was worried.  I was worried. The week before we had a phone call and had been told that she was sick and that was why she was acting like this.  Jane's concern made it evident to me that this was not "illness" but something medication related.

Jane took the time to call me back after the family phone call.  (like I said, this woman is AMAZING) and said that Fiona has essentially become this way since her recent hospitalization. They removed a number of meds while in the hospital and Jane did not know if this was a medication detox or if it signified something else.  She said she could see that Fiona literally had trouble thinking and getting words out.  Fi is usually very chatty so this is really really unlike her. I think part of why Jane called also was to see if I had ever seen this type of behavior from her at any point in the past. The answer is categorically no. Jane said the hospital really snowed her saying on Fiona's return that she was just "sick" and that if she had any inkling that this was a result of what they were doing in the hospital she would have refused to have her come back until they got things right.

Next Thursday we are going to the Big City because it is Arts and Entertainment night at the school.  Fiona has been planning to sing a song that she says she is dedicating to us. As of last night, Jane felt there was no way she was able to perform and wondered if we would still be coming.  I said yes absolutely that this was likely a time when she would need us most. That I could explain to the kids that the drs were trying to find the right meds etc.  Jane was grateful and said that Fiona would see a Dr today and she would shoot me a quick email with an update because I was so worried.

Late this afternoon just before I left work I got an email from her.  They added back one of her meds and all ready could see a huge improvement.  Whew!

Jane and I also emailed a bit more regarding the situation of where Fiona may wind up when she leaves the Great School in the City.  Firstly the good news is she can stay there till she is 22.  She is only 19 now. So we have breathing room. But Jane wants to work with me and Fiona's DCF worker so that we are more clearly seen and listed as "family' to try and prevent the road blocks that I have experienced in the past maintaining visits and contact.  Also she will help me advocate for a DMR oversight as opposed to DMH.  In our state the care and options are better with the former agency and the placements tend to have for lack of a better word, more gentle clients.

Fiona is so emotionally and cognitively young.  She tries to reach for the adult behaviors but she at 19 still loves Hannah Montana for instance.  And sticker art.  Things that could easily bring about ridicule in a setting that was strictly a DMH.  It doesn't look at this point like there is a loophole to get her placed in the City where she presently is, or closer to us.  But if Jane can help me build a relationship with her case worker who knows?  I have a good period of time to become their new best friend!  LOL

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Lucky Leprecaun Art Gallery!

 It's March still (though barely!)  and somehow the month was slipping away before our annual Lucky Leprecaun Art Gallery could open for business!  LOL  Last year we started this at a time when the kids god parents were visiting and it was a huge hit. They will not be coming by I don't think but we have friends coming on Wednesday for a play date and Nana coming on for the weekend. So it is still a perfect time to share the kids art.  This is also the only way I have found that will get KC to dispose of all but a few precious pieces.  As a highly prolific artist, I just can't keep them all, much as I would wish to.  Scanning them, or photographing them doesn't do it for him either.  However a grand display, where he can then bestow a few of his treasures to the viewers, seems to work.
 This shot showcases some of Rob's art.  One of the cool things is that all the kids really enjoy doing this.  He did some paint by number, traces some birds and then used artists pencils to accurately render their plumage, and did some neat dragons and cars.
 Rob also created this very cool canoe out of paper.  He was inspired by the little boats we made for our Brazil night and got a little grandiose with the size and scale.  KC ahs a mixed media sculpture in the background.
 This is a bad photo of a very cool piece of art that KC made in his art class.  I love this and might want it for my bedroom.
 This is the first picture he did where you could see that he knew our noses had a shape and he tried to represent that.  He was 5 when he did this so I was fairly impressed. 
 I love this mixed media collage that KC made.

This is another bad photo of an extremely cool creation.  Rob made that entire picture out of little punched paper things that are from my scrapbook kit.  It is an island in the ocean with a little house and music notes coming out of the house.  There is a punched paper art border around the whole thing as well.  It makes me want to sing Down by the Bay or something!

I'll have to do another post as Lissa has some art and KC has some animation he has been experimenting with.  But for long distance viewers, that's all from the Lucky Leprecaun gallery for now!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Day of Nothing

I am not good at nothing.  I am VERY much on the go all the time.  But today I woke up with a migraine for the third day running.  And it hurt so much that it took the first few hours of the day for me to tell the source (my neck) and the rest of the day to sort of get things under control with it.  Sigh.  I had PLANS for today.  I wanted to make tissue paper Easter decorations with the kids for our picture window.  I was going to cook a big Sunday a.m. breakfast because we were (gasp) skipping church today since Rob was working there till midnight last night on the gourmet dinner.  He had a blast incidently but was glad he ate before he went.  Instead, I lay in bed concentrating on not moving my head, and feeling bored and also guilty becuase I know the kids worry a lot on the rare occasions when I am down.  Their heads kept poking into the room periodically and when I would come down for a cup of tea or to use the bathroom they would stare at me with huge eyes and ask if I was better.  I remember my mother petrifying me about her health when I was a kid.  That is the very last thing I want to do to mine. 

Evening has been somewhat better and they helped me clean the kitchen and play a game and they put on a show for me as well.  The latter is always a cure for anything in my book.  They are such hams.  I also spent a little time working on pricing out a trip to Florida to Disney next spring.  I have so far saved up about $700 which is not a ton but it s a good start.  I am looking at tips sites and if anyone knows of any good deals or ideas in the Orlando area don't be shy!!!  I am more of a camping vacation gal so this is a brave new world of planning for me.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Gym Meet

 I wanted to do something with Lissa's box braids that would incorporate the team colors.  She didn't really want to let me fuss much with her hair so we came up with this effect.  Lately the part of the hair that I used the pony-os on is usually in a bantu or zulu knot to the side front of her hair.  But by undoing the knot and just putting these running down it, I could get everything into a small braided bun.  I then decorated with the red ribbons.  My blue ribbons were too stiff and stuck out really weird but the red ones were perfect and they really whipped around when she was out on the floor too.
 Warming up for the big event --before we even left the house.  Our dog Blake is watching.
 My happy daughter assumes the demeanor of a basilisk as they come out to greet the audience.  In reality, she was nervous and said that is why she looked like this.  She had made me promise not to cheer for her but didn't factor in that there would be other events occuring simultaneously and that there WOULD be cheering even if it was not necessarily for her. The first time it happened she stopped, glared at the crowd and put her hands on her hips. Then she stomped over to the apparatus and did great!
Participation trophy and a smile once more!  It  was super hard to get decent photos in the gym.  My flash wasn't strong enough to go the distance from where I was to where Lissa was. But all in all, it was a great experience and I think it was good for the younger kids to get a feel for what a meet is like.  For us parents too as I have no experience in this venue and if it is something she wants to do, I need to be able to support her.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Coach A talks about Lissa

So today when I got to the gym, Coach A called to me and asked if she could talk to me privately about Lissa.  All I could think was "oh no!"  I mean, I watch the class each week and hadn't seen anything THAT horrible going on. 

Turns out it wasn't horrible. Coach A wants to bump Lissa up a level because of her strength and ability.  But the next class meets from 5  to 6:30 on Friday nights.  Now first of all, I don't think Lissa has 90 minutes of attention span.  At all.  Secondly she usually is tucked in bed at 6:30 p.m.  Poor Coach A was stunned to hear that, but I explained that my kids waken early no matter what I do and that Lissa refuses to nap. 

I said I would try the  new class if she would let me take her out at 6 p.m. and she said that would be fine and there is no committment at this point to the change.  But man, was I shocked!  Truly, to the untrained eye my daughter does not always look like she gives a hoot about what they are doing out there.  Some weeks she is pretty on, but a lot of week she is rolling around the floor totally oblivious. 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Disney Dreaming?

My kids want to go to Disney.  I expect all kids do. LOL  I know that I have never been and that my wife went as a family trip when she graduated from high school. They would have brought me along except that I had a job and had to work.  I almost got to Disney a year later when the family I nannied for was going.  But I had finals the week they were going so someone else got the gig then too.

So it doesn't take too much for me to listen to Lissa's talk about princesses (and KC's for that matter) and to start to seriously consider how to do this.  It will take serious saving and planning.  My wife is not really a saver so that part will fall to me.  Also, it will be more expensive for us than for some other families for a couple of reasons.  The packages are really geared to a family of 4.  We are a family of 6--7 really but Fiona would not be allowed to come with us unless something huge changes in her life.  Chet's autism mean that he needs space. And plans for quiet down time, and a way to set up his temporary quarters in a way that makes sense to him and gives him a feeling of order and control. Which means all of us piling into a hotel room for a week is totally out of the question.

Also my wife isn't really into the whole theme park thing. She said she might do one day but beyond that it would be on me.   I don't think we need to spend more than 2 days with that hype anyway and hope that we could then hike and sightsee in other venues after that.  But she would like a place to retreat to if it all becomes too much for her as well. Then there is the food factor.  As vegetarians (well most of us) eating out is sometimes challenging. It also can be difficult for Chet who has some specific food requirements.  Not too hot, not too cold. The spoon must be large enough to do certain things to his food etc.Bottom line, I need to rent a house.

I have done some snooping on line and it looks like May is a pretty good time to try to go.  Not this May, a year from now May.  I figure there will be less crowds because many schools are still in session.  The prices on some really nice house rentals in that time period is not really too bad. (like 8-900 weekly)  I was looking fairly high end too as I would like us to have a pool to use in the evenings and I am serious about the need for our family to sprawl.  Lissa needs space as well or she gets really frustrated.

I talked to a co-worker and she thinks that  you can buy park hopper passes up to a year ahead so I could maybe buy one a month in addition to saving for the rental, air fare and car rental. It isn't a done deal but I am seriously thinking about it.  Lissa will be 5 by then and she has a mind like a steel trap and will definately remember things.  All the others will be at the remembering age too.  Because this is very likely a one shot.  I truly don't see this as being repeated any time in the foreseeable future!

Working and Whining!

I despise whining, especially if it is me.  But I am kinda whiny tonight so feel free to hit the delete button and move on.  I have worked hard since January and my company was bought to be that employee everyone hopes to have.  Savvy, confident, friendly, cooperative, full of good ideas but stepping back to listen to wisdom, yada yada yada. 

And really for the most  part i have succeeeded. My weekly evals are strong.  I get "atta girl" emails up the wazoo etc.  Except that my work load has not just increased. It has morphed to such staggering amounts that it is like papers are breeding at night when I am not there. And if the papers are not, the emails are. 

I have done a pretty good job keeping up with stuff though.  I have learned a ton of new procedures and have worked in this odd limbo land where we are not fully doing new stuff and not fully utilizing the old formats. One can blame this particular hell on the changing of computers and software that doesn't like to speak to other software.  But I really need 8 hours of work to accomplish all this and my company is adament that they will only pay for 7 each day.  Even that didn't bother me too too badly.  I discovered that by drinking "Soup in hand" I could work and eat at the same time.  Frankly at this point whether or not I get paid for that hour is not important to me.  I want to get my office in tidy order once more and show to people that we really are efficient. I will be in a stronger bargaining position if all this is under control instead of quibbling about an hours pay.

Then the Powers That Be decided that our staff should attend a time management meeting.  For 2 hours on Monday.  Where we learned important things like  Seriously??? You think I have time for that??? And you took two important work hours away to give me that pearl of knowledge and a notebook made from recycled paper.  Well the notebook is kind of cool, but maybe you could have just dropped it on my desk. Oh, wait, I wouldn't find it then, right? 

Then the Powers That Be decided I needed to be at an all day meeting with my immediate supervisor only 2 days later.  It was a big gathering and the networking and schmoozing is something that I see is very important so I did it.  My immediate boss fell asleep in the meeting so I suspect it was not so positive for him.  However, I returned to the office today and my desk was awash in more papers.  I began to bravely soldier through them and was called to attend a lunch meeting.  Seriously??? People stop eating please so I can get some work done!  LOL

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Lissa's Up Next!

Last weekend the big focus was primarily on Robbie.  This weekend, he does have stuff happening but the big focus will be Lissa.  You see on Saturday afternoon, my wee daughter is in her first gymnastics meet. It is not a super competitive thing.  And it also helps raise money for a gym family who are facing a serious medical crisis. But my flibberty gibbit daughter is supposed to do a routine.  On her own.  Wow, who would have thought we would even be thinking about this a year ago. Totally blows me away. The team colors are red and blue so I am going to find some sparkly ribbon and do something with her box braids and the ribbons.  We also could order flowers for our gymnasts so she will get a bouquet of red white and blue carnations from us as well.  She is very blase about the whole thing which I suppose is a huge plus.  Goodness knows I don't need to high anxiety kids like KC!  LOL

Monday, March 21, 2011

Another thing in the "system" that needs changing

So Saturday, when we were having our fabulous visit with Fiona, Jane and I were talking quietly.  The kids were walking on ahead of us, Fiona holding KC's hand, Rob holding Lissa's.  Jane was talking about how hard she is working with Fiona to help her be oriented and present in the world.  Either as a result of her disabilty or as a defense mechanism, she never really knows where she is at any given time.  She is easily confused by streets, even streets she visits regularly.  Jane has made great strides in this regard and at this rate, Fiona's skills will soon surpass mine, even if I use a GPS. (just kidding, but I am pretty directionally impaired.) 

Jane also pointed out a gallery where local artists sell their work and noted that this was one of the areas where students from the Great School were employed and she had really hoped for this for Fiona when she graduated from the program.  Then she went on to say that she had just realized that this would not likely happen.  The reason is so stupid that I can. not. believe. it.

Because Fiona does not hail originally from the city which houses the Great School in the City, when she graduates, the system will send her back to the original  "sending city."  Where she has not lived since she was 8 years old. Where she does not have support networks. Where she will not know the streets, or the shops or the bus schedule. She will not know which areas of the community are safe and will have to try and learn all this information all over again.  The amount of knowledge she has now has taken several years of very patient, very incremental learning.  Frankly I doubt very much that a group home staff will invest that kind of effort into it.

She is learning so many things at the Great School and yet how is any of it going to really help her if when she is 22 they uproot her in that manner. I emailed Jane today and asked for more specifics on how that works.  If one is technically aging out of foster care at that point, my understanding is that another agency is taking over (such as department of mental health or DMR) maybe we can start working earlier rather than later on changing someone's mind.  I know it is probably tilting at windmills but I have to try.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bragging on Robbie

Today was Youth Sunday at church.  Our Youth Group did the entire service (times 2 as we have a dual service format.)  Rob was part of that this year and I am so over the moon proud of him.  He was one of 15 kids in the Youth Choir and one of 8 kids who participated in a skit.  This, from my quiet guy. That makes this even more meaningful. After the service he worked on a bake sale in fellowship hall because the Youth Group are raising money for their fall trip to a shelter co-op in a New England state. This co-op helps with housing food, clothing and more for a very impoverished local and also migrant population. 

Chet and I were responsible for coffee hour for folks who did n't want to buy food.  We were told to make it "lame"  LOL  So I did fruit and bagels and coffee and juice.  It was a good intro to doing coffee hour for Chet and he handled it pretty well over all.  He had fun, but he needed a few firm re-directions and some processing here at home so that we can make the next time, when it would be a more elaborate spread, less stressful. (at least for me!  LOL)

K has been gone all day on her runaway day, and after church Rob was invited to a friends house for a few hours.  The littles and I did grocery shopping, the library and picked up Rob's glaucoma med.  I made a soup for tomorrows supper and made texas french toast for tonight's supper.  Now I am going to convince the littles that they want early baths and PJs because at 6:30 I have to drive Rob and his friend back to our church.  This is way past the wee ones bedtimes so I expect they will crash by the time we get home at 7:30. Thus, bed attire.  I am going to spin it as a "silly car ride."  At their age, you put the word silly in front of anything and they want to do it!  LOL

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Visiting Fiona

We made our trek into the Big City today to see my daughter Fiona.  We could not have asked for a better day.  The weather was cold but not frigid.  March is typically not the best month for this city.  Close to the ocean it is often raw with harsh biting winds. Today there was wind but it was not bad, even for a wimp like me.  LOL  We had a great train ride in and then the most hysterical thing happened.  As we approached our stop the couple behind us leaned forward and said "excuse me, the conductor just said Stop X and I thought we were going to the Big City."  I explained that Stop X was the Big City.  Turned out that this was their first time going to the City and they wanted to sight see. They asked if they could follow me through the stop.  This was hysterically funny to me, as I feel like I am such a hick from the sticks when I go to the Big City, but I said sure.  I showed them where the trolley tours are and where the subway maps were and found someone who could give them pointers on fun things to see there as there is an info desk at this stop.  Then we went and called our cab and were on our way to Fiona.

As Jane had predicted, insurance ran out on Thursday and she was promptly cut loose from the hospital.  She seemed as stable as she ever is during the visit. I don't mean that in a bad way.  She was just Fiona, no significant highs or lows that would worry me.  And in fact there were several things that Jane has accomplished with Fiona that give me so much hope for her. She can use money now and earns a small amount that is hers.  I had intended to pay for her food at the ice cream place we were going to but she brought her own money and I thought it better to let her do that then to buy for her.  Even though on the one hand, my buying reinforces that she is my daughter and treated as I treat all my kids, she is also 19 and should be having the experience of making choices with her own money.  She has more awareness of location than she has ever had before as well. This is such an amazing improvement and something that I did not know could improve.

She was so glad to see us and we were just as happy to see her.  KC has been saving up knock knock jokes all week to share with her.  Lissa was bouncing all over the place and Rob was quiet but smiling.  And he did share about singing in church tomorrow so that was pretty big for him.  We had lunch at her school and then went in the school van to a nearby library and hung out there for a while. We read books and looked around and from there we were able to walk to an ice cream emporium.  Yes, emporium.  In my neck of the woods, ice cream places are not very fancy.  This was fancy to the schmancy.  They display art by city residents on the walls.  They have hand painted murals.  They have little bistro tables and 40 billion toppings to choose from. They have non dairy options (yay!) and another 50 billion kinds of coffee. 

Now the thing is I don't typically put anything  in my coffee.  I firmly believe that nothing should potentially interfere with the rapid absorbtion of caffiene into my blood stream.  LOL  But it sounded so cool  to say "I'd like a small caramel macchiatto please!"  It was pretty good too, but I am a plebe, I still love Dunkins black and hot.

Things felt like they finished too soon, but I know the kids were tired.  It is a whole day event even when the visit is only about 3 hours.I love that it seems easier every time for Fiona to introduce us as her family.  I love listening to the kids--all the kids--refer to her as their big sister. I love the way her face lights up when she sees us at the door.  And we will be back in 3 weeks for her arts and entertainment night.  Now off to get some rest as I need to get Rob and his friend to church for 8 tomorrow morning.  Our church is 30 minutes away so we'll be leaving bright and early!

Friday, March 18, 2011

The pause before the crazy

Weekend that is! This is one of those weekends that makes my 50 to 60 hour work weeks look easy. Tomorrow we leave at 9 a.m. for a train trip to the big city to spend the day with Fiona. This is exciting because it is our second off site visit.  One more and Jane said we can visit 1/2 way between the amazing school and our house. This gets us closer and closer to Fi getting to come here for a visit which is what we have all been working toward for more than a year.  Not that Fiona ever had any significant issues when visiting. Those happened during the day to day living which is an emotional stress she can not sustain, much though she and us wish otherwise.  In fact, she just got back to the great school in the city after a week of hospitalization for behavior issues. 

We will get back to our city around 5 p.m. at which time I have to take tired children to the grocery store to buy (quickly veeeeery quickly) bagels, cheese, 1/2 and 1/2 and a fruit platter for church the following morning.  Yup, we are hosting fellowship.  Actually Chet is and I am assisting him.  You don't want Chet to pour your coffee. Nuff said.  LOL

Then I have to get Rob and a friend  to church for 8 a.m.   It is Youth Group Sunday and my strong usually silent young man is singing in the Youth Choir and performing in the skit that they are doing as well.  I am so excited to see this.  He is at practice tonight as I write this.  After the first service, K is leaving for her mom's runaway day.  I will stay with the kids and supervise the fellowship hour. Then the younger kids and Chet and I will head out.  A friend will bring Rob home from the second service.  Then  it will be time for grocery shopping, something I bumped from our usual Saturday errands.  I don't want to try and do the full shop when we get back to town on Saturday. The kids would never stand it as they will be exhausted.  After that we will come home, unload, get lunch. Rob should be home and after lunch we will head to the library. Then it is home, time for Saturday's cleaning on Sunday and then an early supper so I can get Rob and his friend to Youth Group for 5:30.  I will have to drag the littles along as well which I imagine they will protest about so I will have to think of some exciting carrot to entice them!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Shamrock Celebration!

 KC and Lissa at supper.  The hats were new this year, but KC is wearing a pin and a string of green beads that he has kept for more than 2 years and which he brings out and wears every holiday.
 Rob sportin' his green.  I told him he looked like a rapper and we should call him some silly name like L.B. Green or something.  Or maybe he looks like Rocky before he hit it big in boxing?  He had a funny hat going on too as I recall. LOL
Then the dessert.  Cupcakes (white cake recipe but K and KC swirled in green food coloring) and a bevy of rainbow colored frosted tops with pots of gold picks.

Too bad Lissa's hat hides the cute box braids that I finished up this a.m.! 

Top O' the Mornin!

KC talked with his friends at dance class and discovered that they were making traps to try and catch the leprecauns so that they would be able to get their gold.  He came home last Saturday and announced that was "mean" and that he was going to write the leprecauns a letter.  He would ask them to share their gold because you got things when you asked nicely. LOL  Well I can see our parenting style paying off.

We are not Irish but St. Patricks Day is KC's favorite holiday.  He announced that he likes it better than Easter, because it is green and green is his favorite color. He ended this soliliquey before bed last night by saying he just "adored" St. Patricks day.  The kid just cracks me up.

So anyway, he and Rob wrote a very fancy letter to the wee folk and left it on the table with the gift of a potato.  KC felt a gift was also important and finally decided that they would like a tater.  When they got up this a.m. they discovered one gold dollar coin for each of them and a note (in green of course) saying that they would only share a tiny bit of their wealth.

The sneaky leprecauns also somehow magically fixed the water in our toilet tank to be green. (the kids checked the bowl first thing because that is what they colored last year!)  And they "redecorated" the house a bit.

We may not be Irish but nothing beats the laughter of our own wee folk!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Amazing Jane

OK so we had no call with Fiona last Tuesday because she had an altercation with another student and was hospitalized.  Jane had told me she would be back at the Great School in the City forthwith and not to worry. But today at work I got an email from Jane that indicated Fiona was still in the hospital and no call would happen tonight. 

I was worried and emailed my concerns to Jane. Who took time to call me at home!  Jane explained that there was nothing serious going on and that in fact the school has called the hospital every day since admission indicating that they were ready to bring her back to school.  Jane said Fiona's insurance for this type of hospitalization will be used up on Thursday and she expects she will be returned promptly to the Great School upon the expiration of benefits.  There is no serious crisis at present, there is no med review.  This is really a manipulation by the medical institution to get some dollars flowing to their coffers.

We had scheduled a visit to see Fiona on this Saturday and it was also supposed to be a visit with an off site component.  I asked Jane if everything was still a "go."  She said absolutely, that Fiona would in her estimation be back and that she was planning on the visit taking place.  I said that was great, but would we be allowed the off site component.

Jane said of course, we were family.  I said I understood that but I had dealt with many institutions over the years who used time with family as a carrot for behavior.  Good behavior equalled time with family.  Setbacks reduced it and though it never made sense to me, I was accustomed to it.  Jane said that staff had suggested such a thing over a visit Fiona recently had with a cousin and Jane stopped them cold. Family in her mind, is not a negotiable tool for behavior modification.  I couldn't agree more, but it is further proof that Jane really is amazing!

Trauma and truthtelling

This has been an odd week and it is only Tuesday.  Rob had a regressive time, filching things and having trouble with honesty.  Some of the things taken are his and just used at inappropriate times and places, some were things that were that not his.  All of it involved that phenomenon of bizarre story making that had very little if any basis in reality.  Partly I accidently set this up.  I try so  hard not to ask questions that invoke the "lie response." I try to speak in fact because anything else triggers a fear response for him and thus, the lying.  It doesn't matter that Rob has been our son for 9 years.  Stuff that happened in those first five years trumps a lot of good parenting.

My wife has trouble with this. She feels that we have been there longer, parented harder and that we should see the end of this.  I notice the smaller achievements, like the fact that there are longer periods between these episodes. That although Rob will never be loquacious, he was able to process this with me.  His consequence was first to define about 6 words that dealt with honesty or dishonesty and write me a one page paper on the incident and what he felt caused it.  It was interesting to me that he did write of a trigger this time.  Usually I get a lot of "I wanted it. I dunno etc."  This time he referenced being asked a question about our camcorder and that he knew I knew he lied and this made him nervous.  I can truthfully see the cascade effect of that kind of thing for someone who has a chaotic, trauma filled early life.  My wife doesn't connect the dots the same way.  I need to get her a book!  LOL  The second part of the consequence was today.  I erased all the words on the dry erase board that pertained to dishonesty and left integrity, honesty and truthful.  I said that I knew he was a good person and we needed to make a plan so that he could keep making better choices.  By the time I came home tonight, he had written a plan that would hopefully help him to keep things where they should be kept.

I know it is a little step, but it is a step. And it is a step forward at least, darn it, have had enough backward ones!  :-)

I need to write a post about the phone call with Amazing Jane tonight but that will have to come later as it is nearly time to put a few of the tribe to bed.

Sunday, March 13, 2011


I don't really do gratitude journals, but I am deep to my core grateful for the gifts of my life and I work hard to show that in the way I live out my life.  I am especially grateful for weekends.  Those blessed days to intentionally connect with the kids. Not that I am not the other 5 days of the week, but I work out of the home for a big chunk of the weekday hours.  So having time to do Lissa's hair on a Saturday or Sunday is one of my treasures.  I love trying out new styles, though she is feeling less into that of late.  This weekend she actually let me do a slightly different style with a bantu knot on the side front and the twists going to the back. She looks spectacular and I hope she will let me freshen this up Friday night so it will look sharp when we go visit Fiona in the city this weekend.  Even when she hates sitting, there is a deepening of  a bond that comes from the intimacy of working with her hair.

I got to see two movies with Rob this weekend.  He chose one for us on Friday night and we both hated it.  I sort of knew i would as it was a Russell Crowe flick and I have not ever really seen many movies of his that I liked. But it was such a snore it was hard to keep my fingers moving on the piece work while we watched.  Even Rob hated it and he found a "second try" for us at the library the next day and shyly asked if we could try another movie the following night.  This one had great martial arts scenes, I was sold! LOL

Chet had a workshop today at church on LGBTQI issues and did really well.  I am beyond grateful to my faith community for reaching out to help him be a part of this. It is helping him to sort out his feelings and take steps at finding his way emotionally and socially in the world.  To be a person of color brings a set of issues to the table.  To add to that a disability and a different view of ones gender identity is a bit more than I think any one person should be given. But that is what his situation is and I am thankful that he has a safe place and a caring forum.

While Chet was at the workshop, I as his driver had 2.5 hours to kill waiting for him.  KC was squabbling with Lissa when we were getting ready to leave so I told him to come with me.  He and Lissa sometimes need a break from each other.  She wanted to see a video he was not into etc. etc.  So he and I spent that time together playing on the playground at church, drawing and painting together, playing hangman and at the end, just walking quietly through the empty sanctuary.  Our building is very spare and does not have a lot of fancy adornment.  But he turned to me and said how peaceful it was and how much he loves being in "big church" when it is so quiet and still.

And I am thankful for friends who invited us to a birthday party Saturday  and even though they are meat eaters extraordinaire had the most amazing array of vegetarian foods for my family and the one other veggie family that was there.  My own family doesn't do that!!

Truly I am heading into the work week very blessed.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Skulduggery Sculpture

KC is so excited because he goes back to art class tomorrow.  He has literally been marking the days to this on his calendar.  Tonight we were at a play date at a friends house.  Their daughter A. is in gymnastics with Lissa, but we have been friends for years before the girls went to the gym together. A is only 3 but KC is as friendly with her as Lissa.  Both A's parents studied art in college and although their day to day life doesn't involve art as a vocation, they love it.  A's dad in particular would like to teach art to KC, with the other kids and myself invited "in case I felt weird about it." Which I don't.  I have pretty strong radar and see nothing wonky here, but I will likely hang out there anyway as I am not a drop off parent.

C. asked KC tonight what kind of art he was most interested in.  KC said that he would love to do sculpture and spray paint.  Street art is something C really did a lot of I guess and he also did sculpture. So he grabbed some books and the 2 of them looked at some styles a bit and made plans for when the weather will safely allow us to do some graffiti style art.  But when  I put KC to bed, he elaborated on his sculpture idea.

Every year when Rob goes to camp KC makes him a welcome back poster.  It obviously means something to Rob as he usually keeps it up for about 6 months.  This year, KC envisions making him a sculpture of Skulduggery Pleasant, a skeleton detective in a book Robbie adores.  I am not sure how to do that and will leave it to C to help that vision come to life.  But I love the fact that he plans so carefully to do something special for his big bro, and i love that I know Rob will truly enjoy it.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Tuesday Tizzy

Weird crazy day.  Work is so hectic and strange lately.  I can't even begin to wrap  my mind around it.  I am trying not to let it make me batty and trying to take a minute to just breathe deeply when I leave work and tell myself that now it is done. For better or worse, done for that day.  Some days I do pretty well at that.

Days like today not so much.  Partly as I had to bring the kids home with me as K got called in to do a shift at the clubhouse due to another staff worker being ill.  Partly because I had to go to do a mailing for my  job after I punched out and got home with said kids 20 minutes later than usual. I have to say though, the kids were really good. But no time for breathing and "shedding" work.

I whipped together a quick supper of spaghetti and veggie meatballs, parmesan toast created out of some slightly stale bread, and strawberry sundaes for dessert.  I totally caved on eating locally this week, falling under the thrall of a large lucious looking box of them at the grocery store.  They were pricey but surprisingly delicious. 

Fiona is not calling tonight.  She had an altercation with another student and is expected to return to the great school in the city but not in time to chat tonight. We are going in for a visit this month and we will have another off site component. This time our options have expanded from walking in nearby parks.  Jane sent me an email today suggesting about 10 different things.  The only one I said no to was a toy store.  Aren't I the party pooper?  But seriously, Jane what were you thinking!  LOL  I said yes to Barnes and Noble, yes to a farm, yes to a museum, yes to a planetarium, and a bunch of other things.   I suggested that she narrow it to the 2 or 3 she felt most viable for Fiona and then let Fiona choose.  It would give Fi a bit of a feel of "hosting" and I think that is good for her. And as I told Jane, I can spin anything to make it seem fun to the kids.  I mean if I can get kids up and out the door wanting to go grocery shopping every Saturday at 7 a.m. don't you think seeing something new in the Big City is going to rock their little worlds?  LOL

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Hair Thoughts

So last weekend the boys had their first trips to a real barber.  This weekend it was time to re-style Lissa's hair.  She has had very small twists in her hair for about 3 or 4 weeks. They still really looked good, but I know that her hair really likes to loc and the ends fuse easily so I don't dare let her stay in this style too long.  Also, I have been reading about African threaded hair styles and seeing some cool vlogs about this technique and I am itching to try it on the wee miss. 

But it will wait for another day.  It took all of bath time to get all the twists out (plus a short stint where I did the first part of the back before supper).  I don't mind any of that but what horrified me is how her hair was so dry.  I have to admit that I have been very proud of the fact that her hair has always felt so good.  Supple, soft, not coarse, never brittle or rough.  Well you know they say pride goes before a fall!  LOL  And what I clearly didn't realize is that her hair is dense enough that when I was spraying conditioner on her hair twice daily (yes TWICE daily people) it likely was not soaking through those twists into the hair below.  Truly her hair felt so dry that I didn't want to totally de-tangle it for fear of damage. I may be over-reacting, but I would rather err on the side of caution.

So I wet it down, conditioned the holy heck out of it and finger de-tangled.  Then I lightly paddle brushed the top to smooth it, and put it in two banded ponytails on the side of her head.  We will see how it is in the morning and take it from there.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Laramie Project and Skin Color

Rob's youth group is hosting a fund raiser screening of the Laramie Project this Sunday evening.  I watched the movie here with Rob a few nights ago because although I knew the topic, I did not know how it was going to be presented.  Rob has a dx of PTSD and  while I know most of his triggers after 9  years, I would be silly to think I knew them all.  He wants to be at the benefit with his friends and I want him to be able to, but I thought we should watch it together in a safe place where if he felt uncomfortable we could turn it off, take a breath or opt out.

He was fine.  I was crying my eyes out silently by the end of the movie.  It is not graphic. There are not loud threats or screams, things that would trigger my son.  But the quiet hatred that the movie portrayed (and it also certainly portrayed hope and love as well) chilled me to my core.   It wasn't that it was specifically  a murder of a gay man. I think it was the hate crimes in general thing.  I think a lot about how there are people in the world who will not see the beautiful spirits of my children the way I do. They will see, as they grow, a woman who a segment of society wants to sexualize in a negative and demeaning way.  They will see my boys as threats.  There are people who could easily see my eldest as a threat because of a combination of his ethnicity and his disability which make his actions and the reasons behind them hard for outsiders to read.  When my inner Pollyanna has to face up to such potential realities there are always tears. (smile)

At any rate, it made for a good conversation between Rob and I.  I had to ask him to wait till the following night so that I could be more composed when we spoke.  He was fine with that, and when as promised I explained where I was when I was watching the movie, he said that "wasn't that illegal."  At 14 he is still very much at the age where right and wrong are clearly delineated, and for all that he might sneak candy or his ipod into his room at night, at heart he is law abiding.  So I had to delve deeper and way out of my personal comfort zone and said that yes of course they were illegal.  But that some people would break laws, even laws that were human rights.  And that while I believed the world was pretty much filled with good people, we also had to be smart and careful.  I don't think I did the best job I could, but it was a start.  And he could see how I feel and I think that helped.

In an unrelated conversation, it is increasingly clear to me how grateful I am that I have 5 children of color.  Because there is an intense need to feel that their color is  not the singular difference in the family.   I wasn't really prepared for this because Chet although a beautiful tan, is color deficient and can't really see lots of colors. That added to his autism have not made skin tone something of note to him during his life. 

But when Rob was little and KC was first born, I remember how angry Rob was over the fact that KC was so much lighter than he.  I thought KC would become darker as he got older--something all my black friends assured me would happen.  Except that it didn't, and I can remember Rob asking me why.  Then Lissa came along and she and Rob have almost the same skin tone. Fiona's skin is very similar to Rob's also, but a shade or two more honey toned.

Recently, KC has been pointing out that his skin and Chet's are "alike" and Rob and Lissa and Fiona's are "alike," and K and I are similar except that K is rosy and I am pale. LOL I am glad that they have people in the family that they can feel that sense of physical matching with.   I remember looking at my features and figuring out who in my family I looked like. Did I lean more toward my maternal relatives, or did I seem to lean towards my fathers?  My kids can't do that for the most part, so I am glad they can draw a sense of commonality and comfort in seeing their skin tone or eye shape mirrored in a sibling.

Walking toward Spring

Today the meterologist says our temperatures are more like mid winter.  Oh yippee!  But at least yesterday was better. And after supper there was enough light outside and enough pent up energy inside that I gathered the 3 youngest and we went for a short family walk.  It was fun to slip (on the sidewalks still covered with many layers of ice) and pretend we were skating. Then we would hit a patch where there were puddles and there was much splashing. Then finally a part where it was clear and safe for running and hopping and skipping.  I can only imagine what people thought when they watched the kids and I going down the street!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New York, New York!

Rob's youth group is headed to the big apple in a month or so and the planning meeting was tonight.  K took him to the meeting and came home having volunteered to drive our van and an assorted collection of teens and a chaperone to NY. 

I am really excited for them at so many levels.  Firstly because Rob seems genuinely happy that she volunteered.  Rob is a quiet kid, I gauge a lot by body posture--where he stands during a conversation, where he looks, and  how he holds his shoulders all tell me a lot.  Which I realize sounds weird, by the way. LOL

I am excited for Kirsty because I think she has struggled a bit recently.  She is emotional and a talker and it bothers her when he -well, he just isn't a talker.  I find that doing things together that are very parallel and non confrontational elicit moments for the odd sentence and comment.  But by and large, what he wants is for me/us to be present and not to spend a lot of time yakking.  He and i have a variety of small ways that we make memories together.  Actually all the kids and i do.  She doesn't have as much of that.

This weekend has the potential for such magic for them.  I told her privately after he was in the shower that even if over the course of the weekend he says nothing to her and is hanging only with his friends, that they have a weekend of sights, sounds (and maybe even a Broadway performance for crying out loud!) that they will always both remember.  I think she got that.  So even though I won't get to walk in Central Park, or see the Empire State Blg, or take in a Broadway show, I will have a fantastic weekend with the rest of the gang here, knowing that they are!