Monday, May 30, 2011

Do I push enough?

My wife and I are usually pretty much on the same page parenting wise.  But there are some differences.  We are after all, human and come with our own family history of dynamics, or dysfunction. . . or whatever, I guess.  Much of what happened to me growing up, I decided really early on that I would not emulate. I would not have a relationship where my children were shouldering adult emotional issues, where they were a confidant for my fears.  I would not refuse to speak with them. I would not scream. I would not make meal times battle grounds. I would make sure my kids felt they were not inadequate. There were things I loved growing up that I conciously brought to my life as a mom.  A love of reading. A love of the out of doors.  A strong work ethic. An ability to have fun with little.  In other words I did a lot of "sifting" the wheat from the chaff and came out with what I thought were the strong good things to pass on and decided to make my own way in a new direction with a bunch of other stuff.

And about a lot of those things K and I see eye to eye.  The one problem is that I look at our kids and I see that there are several who have some significant issues that they are challenged by often.  Sometimes challenged by daily.  Autism for instance is a tough road.  There are days that are hugely better than others.  But I look at the whole picture and I see that Chet is in my opinion so much better at things than he was a few years ago.  It gives me hope. It gives me pride in his efforts.  K is more likely to see that which he has yet to achieve and want to be talking about and reaching for that improvement with him.  And I worry that everything will always feel to him like he just didn't quite hit the bar.  That nothing was just good.  Good. . . but . . . if you get my drift. 

So for instance when we brunched at a very busy, very noisy restaurant this weekend, I was honestly proud of Chet. There were some space issues that he handled remarkably well.  There was an enormous amount of noise that he handled with only a couple of reminders that he did not have to get louder and louder to compensate for the noise around him.  He ate a new food with gusto.  But he has issues cutting food and said food resisted his initial efforts to cut.  Which made him try to opt to put a gigantic portion in his mouth.  I did intercede and helped him cut the food up.  Did it really casually and he was okay with it and the crisis was averted.  But to my wife, it was "just an okay" for Chet because of that.  And because I thought he did well, she thinks that I am too easily pleased, and reluctant to push him, or any of the kids for that matter.

And I may be, I don't know. 

Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day Everyone!  We have really enjoyed our holiday together.  This morning the weather was rainy so we decorated our dining room .  This is just part of it,but I don't feel like fighting with Blogger to upload more.  After that, the kids and I went to get printer ink for Rob's birthday mural.  He is doing a Skulduggery Pleasant birthday theme. Doesn't everyone do a 15th birthday party with a skeleton detective as the theme?  LOL  The birthday mural is in progress and says "all clues point to a happy birthday."  A magnifying glass is painted over part of the words enlarging them.  K is going to add all of us, hiding in bushes and behind trees and Rob and KC have cut out lots of "footprint clues". Rob is of course the detective and he found himself a fedora that he feels is reminiscent of the Pleasant character and he will be "hunting" for us in the mural. 

We also went to iparty and got the paper goods.  We are adapting some stuff that was pirate themed and it is pretty easy to make it go with his theme.  Rob says Skulduggery's colors are black white and purple so that is the basic color theme.  Rob wanted a pinata so we got a skeleton one and are replacing the pirate hat on it with the top hat Rob wore to our Kentucky Derby party. LOL

Then we came home and I got a lot of house chores done, and the kids swept the deck and the driveway.  Did lunch and went hiking which was a blast.  By noon the storms had blown by and it was perfect weather.  So so much fun.

I know this is a day to be mindful of those who gave their lives in the line of duty and truly I am.  I have friends whose sons are serving and have had other friends who have served in the past.  I am proud that my grandfather was a veteren and that a commemorative flag is placed at his stone each year.  But in the midst of that gratitude is my greatful thanks for a beautiful day with the family I love.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Rob's nearly 15!

June 2nd, my Robbie is 15.  Hard to wrap my mind around that. Most of my pics of him when he was really little--KC's age or younger are pre digital camera. And we don't have a scanner.  But in my mind he is this little guy with huge eyes and a big smile.  A smile that didn't reach his eyes which were guarded and wary, waiting for us to prove that he wasn't safe here either.  That we could not be trusted. 

The top picture in this post was taken when he was about 8 or 9.  He had by now relaxed more, and discovered that he loved hiking and time spent at our local Audubon sanctuary.  I love this shot because it was one of the first where he really looked relaxed.  He was always able to have a great smile for hte camera but sometimes I felt it was just show.  In this shot I knew he was happy and relaxed and the whole posture showed it. 

The second picture is last years birthday.  The signs of teenager were there.  But like many teens he waffles between cool and little kid.  Yesterday when we went clothes shopping for Lissa he found a Phineas and Ferb T shirt that he just had to have.  And ten minutes later a very stylish fedora.  Go figure.  I am just glad that he is comfortable enough in his own skin to develop his own sense of style and to enjoy the process.

The last picture, which the colors are all wonky on and I have no reason why, is from his trip to NY this April.  It is important to me because he was voluntarily sharing his music with others, something that was a huge milestone for him.

My little boy is a man-ling now.  With strong broad shoulders and shaving on the horizon very shortly. His deepening voice is rivalled only by his deepening awareness of the world around him.  The effects of trauma are still with us, but less frequently.  I notice them in crisis situations, when he is startled, when plans need to change.  But mostly, I see a growing assurance, a quiet confidence that lifts my spirit.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The weirdest prep for Florida ever!

The other night when we were talking about our whole  year away vacation, K said to me that  I had to "do something" about the way Chet takes pictures.  Taking pictures is hard for him.  What he perceives as a smile is typically somewhat grimace like.  Part of this has to do with the way people with autism do or do not "read" faces.  Part of it goes to his perserveration that he has fangs instead of teeth.  Don't ask about that folks, just accept it for one of the oddities that is my life with autism.  For me a picture is a trigger to a memory and if the memory is good, well the picture is by default, good as well.

At first I was somewhat annoyed.  I have a pretty hard and fast rule that something has to really bug me for me to work on it. Because there are things I am always working on.  Issues of personal space, issues of appropriate language, and eye contact are daily "lessons".  But there are a bunch of oddities of life on the autism spectrum that I have decided are not worth arguing about.  Like the fact that he feels he has to eat with a soup spoon.  I tried for YEARS to get him to use regular sized silverware.  Practically gave myself an ulcer. Needless to say, I had no success.  And I gave up when he turned 18.  Also I don't want him to feel that I am correction everything he does or is.  There is also a need to accept people where they are when it is possible to do so.  And  OK, small things thrill me.  So small successes, like holding a door open for someone at church--I'll be happy all day over it.

But I also realize that I have to acknowledge that which bugs my wife.  (though why it is my job to fix it is beyond me.)  But I will give it the old college try.  I thought about a strategy and explained Project Picture tonight to Chet.  I will take a picture of him every night.  Every. Single. Night. Between now and Florida.  We will look at them together and talk about what makes it a good picture.  That one can look happy without the fang thing. That one doesn't need to show the fangs.  That a smile isn't all about teeth.  

Now I have no illusions that even a year of "practice" is going to fix this problem.  Even if I get a bunch of "good" shots, the stressor of new environment, changes in routine and being with extended family as well as our regular family are pretty much guaranteed to tip him and that usually shows with rigid body posture and grimacing.  But like I said, we are trying.  Chet is trying to look natural.  Me?  I'm trying to focus my camera!  It's a point and shoot people.  Sheesh, you'd think I would have done better than this!

IHOP Anniversary

My wife and I have been together since 1978.  We were able to legally marry in 2004.  We kept our "original" anniversary date by having our marriage take place on the same day, just a bunch of years later.  This weekend is our anniversary and we were trying to decide what to do to celebrate.  Neither of us want to get "stuff".  We are working on debt, working to get to Florida for vaca next year. Stuff we don't need is a waste of money and just something to have to find a place for in our house.

I do flowers for her on Valentines Day and on her birthday.  This time of year the gardens are springing to life in  our yard (and hopefully soon at our community garden plot) so buying flowers seems silly as well.  In fact usually each night the kids and i go to the park we bring back a bouquet for her of wildflowers we pick up there.

Then I remembered her saying that she wanted to go to an International House of Pancakes.  There was an ad on TV one night when we were folding paper and she mentioned it.  I have never been to one so I am sort of curious about them as well.  So Sunday in honor of our life together, our family will brunch at an IHOP!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Fiona called tonight.  We did not talk last week as Jane was out of town and sadly the regular staff don't typically remember to call.  This is a consistant problem that I have experienced with contact with my daughter.  Jane is literally the only one who has consistantly made sure that the call happens.  I don't understand why only Jane seems to understand how important it is to all of us, but apparently that is the way it is. I have tried calling in myself on nights when Jane is not there and it doesn't work. The switchboard is set up to go to voice mail and all I can ever do is leave a message.

Anyway, that wasn't my point when I started writing.  We set up our next visit when we were talking tonight. I have wanted to do this but had to wait till after KC's recital.  He misses dance class when we go into the Big City and I knew he could not miss unless it was a dire emergency in the final few weeks leading up to the recital weekend.  Fiona was good about this too--I explained it to her--but I wanted to make sure that once recital was done, we immediately set a date to get together.  We go into the city June 4th and will spend the day together.  It will be our 3rd off campus visit which means that hopefully the next visit, they will let Fiona come here.  I am so stoked for this to happen.  Not because I mind going into the Big City.  I really don't.  Not because it is easier. Because it may not be.  But because I want my daughter to emotionally be in a place where she feels that this is home.  A place where she is always welcome.  Even though she doesn't live with us--lots of 19 year olds don't--but I want to someday know that she will be able to come here for holidays, that she might pop in for a visit . . . Dreams and milestones.

After the call, the littles wanted to practice riding their bikes.  I love bike riding but I don't teach kids to ride all that easily.  We seem to never leave training wheels as quickly as others do. LOL  But we  have fun. Tonight, for the first time, Lissa and KC could both ride all the way to the park.  It is about 1/2 a block and they were so excited.  Rob rides to another park about 1/2 mile from our house and they felt like they were really "big" kids.  And they kind of looked it too, taking off their helmets and storing them carefully on their bike seats. . . . memories and milestones.

In which I rant about weather.

If anyone who reads my blog lives some place where the weather is actually NICE feel free to ignore my whiny little post!

I moved to Seattle.  Well not really.  But here in my corner of New England there has been very little sun for the past 10 days or so.  Occasionally the sun has flashed out for about an hour, some days the gray of the clouds has been brighter than others, but mostly, it has been dark and rainy.  Oh and raw.  Chilly enough to run the pellet stove and when the pellets ran out to (gasp) turn on the heat.  The gas company must be chortling with glee and rubbing their mitts together with it MAY and my heat on.  That is unheard of!  One night the weatherman on the news said it was going to rain "for the foreseeable future" and I thought the guy who does the sports news was going to jump over the desk and pummel him.  This is just really getting old.

We are getting so used to rain that it doesn't keep us inside. The kids play outside in it, though obviously not as long as they play when it is sunny.  Last night we took a walk and it started raining part way through.  I kind of hate that as I wear glasses and they don't have windshield wipers on them. lol But the rain has become so constant that none of us feel like we can just wait for the good weather to return.

But today, there is supposed to be actual sun and warmer temps by afternoon. Of course they will lead to thunder and guess what?  RAIN!  But at least warmth is a good sign. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

I am sooooo tired.  But it is good. It was a weekend rich with memories, with family, with laughter, and with the happy realization that challenges could be met and overcome.  Today was the second day of recital.  Last  year instead of this being the easier day, it was harder for KC.  Instead of giving him the comfort of knowing what to expect, that knowledge had petrified him almost to incapacitation.  Today, he was totally able to handle it, and most of the time, to be relatively relaxed.  Yes, when they lined up to go back stage he did have to clutch my hand in a ninja death grip (lol) but he really really danced well and was of a much happier demeanor.

But I wasn't just happy with KC. One of the things that I kind of insist on as a parent is that we as a family are going to be there for each other.  Pretty much no matter what.  That means that you sit through things that might be boring. You might have to reschedule things sometimes.  But  you will be there.  You will cheer each other on. I have friends who think I am nuts for some of the things that my youngest kids have done to support Rob or Fiona.  And some who think that I am out of my tree for making Rob come to a 4 year olds gymnastics meet for instance.

And one of my great joys tonight is that I can see that my kids really get that it is important to be there.  Rob at nearly 15 did not balk at sitting at the recital today with Kirsty.  Despite having seen part of it yesterday.  He sat through all of it today.  Lissa at 4, hung in there for 4 hours in the cafeteria of a high school doing crafts and playing with kids she doesn't really know well because it was my day to be the back stage mom and to provide crafts and snacks for the hordes.  She was also totally silent when we were back stage with KC, my megaphone daughter fully realizing the need for utter silence in those few minutes.

Now, Rob is at youth group and the littles are abed.  When I put KC to bed tonight he asked if I would like to be a mermaid.  He has always loved the idea of merfolk and I have been gifted with many drawings of mermaids and mermen.  I said I thought it sounded like it would be a lot of fun.  He paused for a minute and then said, "but could you dance?"  I know he meant literally, but I could not help but feel like this weekend, our whole family danced together and surely the merfolk do too.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Recital 2011

He's one sweet cookie!  Today was the first performance of the dance recital.  Here's my Gingerbread boy just before he went out to go back stage.  He did much better this performance.  Still jittery, but less, way less. No shaking, no chattering teeth, only a few tears.He did clutch my hand fiercely and I am not sure he would have let me be anywhere but back stage, but overall it was definately an emotionally happier fellow.

My mom and his Aunt Lynne were in the audience as were Lissa and Rob.  We actually left after his number as he is not doing the finale.  This gave time for me to get everyone home and make a nice, albeit later, lunch for everyone.  Then we visited a bit and the vistors hit the road. The kids were able to have an afternoon of play and are soon to be getting ready for tubs and showers.  A whirlwind day is drawing to a close!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Dress Rehearsal

Tonight was dance recital dress rehearsal for my little Gingerbread Man.  Last night he had himself so stressed out that he didn't even start the night in his own bed, but told me that he could not sleep anywhere but in my bed.  So he did.  I pretty much don't argue about that.  If you will sleep there, you may be there.  If you push me out of the bed or wake me up for no good  reason though, well all bets are off! LOL  He slept well cuddled tightly against me, but today I could tell he was stressing.

I was stressing too as I had a conference meeting in the morning, a bunch of stuff after that, and had to email in my stuff for a teleconference that i couldn't do in the afternoon because I was taking 3 hours of personal time to bring him to rehearsal. My wife could have brought him, but I know he really wanted it to be me.  And as dance class is my gig, where K works on Saturdays, it really made sense.  So we made it work.

We got there early enough that he could be in the space without it being crowded with the dancers and parents rushing around and early enough so that the photographer who does the student pictures was not crushed with people yet.  It helped him acclimate a bit and he remembered the space from last year.  When we got to actually being back stage, I thought he was going to lose it.  He cried a bit and was so nervous he was shaking and his teeth were chattering.  The backstage crew remembered us from last year (gee why?) and gave me no guff about being back there.  I just rubbed his back and gave him a light massage and he got himself composed. 

And the amazing thing is that when the music came on and he went out on stage--it was like this switch got turned on inside him.  He was amazing.  The dance has some acting in it as well and he did it all with such enthusiasm and intensity.  I was stunned.  My mom--who ran a dance studio--said that "true" performers have those reactions.  I don't know about that but he nailed it.  Then when he came off stage he grinned and said "gee that wasn't so bad at all!" 

Which does not mean that the performance days of Saturday and Sunday will not have a lot of wash, lather and repeat for his emotions but overall he got through it a lot easier than last year.   And he is all ready talking about wanting to try hip hop next year!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Making a Deposit

Our Florida vacation is no longer theoretical.  It is real.  As in, we put a deposit on a rental home. Well, a rental palace.  I can not believe that people have such gorgeous houses and RENT them!  I went to a site appropriately named Orlando Villas and found this amazing house.  It has enough bedrooms for all of us and allows us to bring my mom and my SIL along as well.  My mom has never been to Florida and while I know she has no interest in Disney, I can totally see her lounging on the lanai reading or walking along the gorgeous paths that the promo assures me exist.  The owners are British so we had to send our deposit last wk actually and it has made its way across the pond and into her hands.  My kids are going to be so spoiled.  There are TVs in the rooms.  This is something we don't have here at home.  One must be over 18 to earn that which means only Chet has a TV in his room.  There is a pool and a hot tub, the pool has a safety fence (as a former lifeguard my water safety vigilence has not decreased over the years!) There are orange trees where we can pick our own oranges and the fully applianced kitchen has a juicer!!!  C'mon, seriously?? So while i ooh and ah over the fresh OJ the kids are stoked about the game room   and the pool etc.

Chet will be able to organize his space in a way that will hopefully allow him to remain relatively calm during the trip, and the house is spacious enough that we don't need to be on top of each other all the time.  I can cook our meals which is a huge plus. Eating out is hard for Chet and this is really lame, but Florida a/c in the public blgs freezes me half to death.  I like warm but I remember the time we went for 3 days in July many years ago, I was very uncomfortable when we went out to breakfast each day.

We are only spending 2 days doing Disney.  I know we won't see everything.  I don't really care.  I know that my kids can't handle more theme park than that, and my wife can only handle one day. So day two is on me but I have a year to figure out the logistics of that.  LOL

I am trying to balance low key interesting things into the week to off set the hype of the park. There is a state park with hiking trails not far from where we will stay that I want to go to. There is a kids science museum in Orlando that looks amazing.  My SIL remembers a place with glass bottomed boats that they visited when she was little and would like to do that again.  There is a place called Forever Florida that has some neat "safari" tours (and also a zipline that i would adore doing!!) There is a mini golf place not far from us and a lovely botanical garden with walking paths.  I have not even mapped out a way to the beach yet and I don't know if we will do that or not. We have the pool so I am not sure we need to.

My SIL just got a cash award at work so the amazing thing for her was that when I invited her, she all ready had her money coming in for air fare and parks passes!  My mom all ready has a plan for how to save up her air fare and everytime any of us buy something here, KC says "Remember we are going to FLORIDA!"  When K paid the property taxes at City Hall he informed her the check was too big and what was she doing because we needed to save for Florida!  LOL

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Saturday smiles

Today was fun.  Aunt L. (my sil) came out to have a tea party with the kids and I.  My kids adore doing this.  They get out the tea set, set the table, ice teeny weeny cookies and put out the tissue paper flowers for a "centerpiece."  Aunt L. even dressed up for the event which made them feel extra special.

This was also KC's last dance class for this year.  Next year he really wants to do hip hop and Miss Heidi says there will be possibly 3 boys in the class. Ever since he started dance 2 yrs ago he has been the only boy in his class. Most times I don't think that bothers him--he likes a lot of things that girls like and enjoys friendships with them.The entire dance class and assorted dance class siblings are being invited to his luau this summer.  My lucky wife has to work that day!  I will be here with an as yet untold # of children having a luau! LOL It should be fun though.

And in other randomness, apparently my sweet 4 y/o daughter told her 7 y/o brother that Santa could not possibly be real. I guess this happened Friday and reduced him to tears.  K managed to calm the waters and give him space to still believe without actively saying anything which was untruthful--which is always a hard line to walk.

And also on Friday when my wife was paying the quarterly taxes at City Hall, my kids overheard the amount of the check she was writing.  KC was horrified.  "Mom that is a VERY big check to write," he chastised.  "You KNOW we are saving for Disneyland!!"  Cracked up the tax collector.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Fiona and Rob's Eyes

Fiona called last night.  I had almost given up hope as it was long past the time that she normally calls when the phone rang. It was Jane who was very upset and apologetic. Jane had accidently doublebooked some family meetings and the last one had run over and taken the phone time.  She wanted to know if we could talk then or should we just wait a week.  I rounded up the troops, though the littles were not at their best given the hour, and we had  a really good call.

The Great School in the City has been fighting a problem with bedbugs. Because of my line of work I understand that this is not uncommon, (but the personal gross out factor is still really high!).  However part of the treatments meant that a lot of the kids personal belongings had to be disposed of.  Stuffed animals, and paper products if there were high amounts are sadly hiding places for these insidious pests.  Fiona's scrapbook that I have made for her over the years was one of the casualties.  However, Jane is not Amazing Jane for no reason.  She had made a color photocopy of every scrapbook page I ever sent Fiona.  And they have purchased a new scrapbook to put them in.  Additionally, Cousin N. has given Fiona a lot of pictures of extended birth family and she is able to add those as well.  I told Fiona maybe this was one of those weird blessings because I think it is so great that now she has one scrapbook that has all her family and the people who love her in it.

There has also been another pretty significant change for Fiona.  I don't know if it is maturity, a result of our constancy, Jane's work or the med change but I am loving it.  For a long time it was hard for Fiona to think about anyone but herself.  I understand the whys of that.  We now see her act much more age appropriately when other people have birthdays or special days.  She is wanting to give rather than just receive.  She also for the first time last night was able to listen to me tell her about Rob's glaucoma. 

Yesterday was Rob's ocular pressure check and it went great.   I was sharing that with her.  Fiona did not remember my telling her about Rob's glaucoma before so I explained it again to her. For the first time ever she was concerned on his behalf--wanting to know if it was fatal, if he would be all right, and how long he had had this. She wanted to know if it ran in the family and how he got it.  They were all such good questions.  I was able to answer all of those and explained that although we can't cure it, we can manage it and that by following the treatment plan he has done wonderfully for many years.  I compared it to Fiona's diaabetes which is controlled with careful dietary choices. 

At the end of the call she asked what I was going to do when Rob was a grown up if he forgot to take the eye drops.  I jokingly said I would biff him up side the head if he did that and she laughed and said could she do that too because she wanted him to take good care of his eye sight.  It was just so cool to hear her comprehend things so well and to be able to reassure her that things were OK.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Interviews Tomorrow

Tomorrow I am part of a team who is doing the first round interviews for a person who will hold a new position at our site. This person will be in charge of helping residents in crisis--helping to find sources of money when emergencies strike, knowing when and where the food pantries are, helping with how to deal with schools and banks and more. 

This is interesting to me at a couple of levels.  My former employer--who was fantastic--had a different vision.  The office staff did everything.  So I screened our resident population, took applications, did leasing orientations, the annual income verifications AND have always had this role where I helped out people who needed it. It was almost  unspoken but it was there. I had a resident last week call me for help figuring out a financial decision she needed to make.  She said she knew no one in this area and because I have always been fair with her she feels like I am her mother.  I have been called that, or a sister many times. (other things I can't print too, but those would be the good things I have been called! LOL)  It often cracks me up because I am often not much older than the people who I am helping.  Which goes to show that mothering is not about age, but that is another post for another day!

One of the things about my job is that I learned that getting housing is not the fix to life problems. It can be a stepping stone. But if someone doesn't have a support network, sometimes, having a great apartment doesn't help their life improve all that much. This is not always the case, but sometimes is. If someone never knew how to clean for instance, guess what their apartment looks like if you don't take the time to teach and guide.  And you need to find a way to do this without hurting feelings.

My new employer has a different vision where none of that is my job.  I was sad about this at first as truthfully many many rewarding things have happened over the years. I have gotten to know many of my residents in ways I could not necessarily with the "new" model.  But I also recognize that I don't have the time to fully meet the wide variety of needs out there, and  do the other stuff that goes with my enhanced duties.  Maybe under the old system there were lots of people I should have helped and didn't.  One person 35 hours a week can only do so much. So I have come to terms with the fact that this change is happening and it begins tomorrow with the interviewing.

This is new ground for me too. I have never really been involved in hiring much.  I hired my leasing consultant when my wife left the position 7 years ago.  But in reality, the best qualified person (who I hired) turned out to be someone I knew from her work with a social service agency that I had close contact with. So it was not the most formal of interviews!

This is, but it is exciting that my employers want me to be part of that.  So tomorrow, I have interviews essentially all day and we will see after that who makes the short list! I am looking for an empathetic person who is also not a push over.  Someone who can build relationships of trust with my resident population--many come from situations where they have felt marginalized or mistreated by DSS or other agencies. It is a tricky balance, teaching, guiding and helping without enabling without being perceived as judging.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mothers Day 2011

Today we gave K a really  nice mothers day.  The kids woke at 5:30 because they were so eager to fete her on her day.  I managed to hold them at bay for an hour but then we got up and got together her vanilla scones, tea, flowers, cards and gifts. It looks very much like a royal procession going into her room, with KC first carrying flowers, Rob following next with the decorated tray filled with goodies, Lissa following Rob with gifts and Chet bringing up the rear with the cards.  Unfortunately for K, our back yard neighbors had a gathering last night so she only had gotten to sleep about 2:30 a.m.  Ah well!  LOL  She did love everything and then we left her in peace while I fed the tribe and got them ready for church.  And incidently, if you want to make vanilla scones  you really should use the recipe on the PW Cooks blog/website.  They are really good and K says that they are better than the ones you get at Starbucks. 

At church one of our members stood up at joys and sorrows and said that she was an adoptive mom and that her children's mothers hadn't planned on what had happened and her kids had not planned on what had happened and that we should remember adopted kids "without moms."  OK so I am sitting there with my adopted kids and this is not a hallmark moment.  I get what she was saying and I know she was very much coming from a place of pain as I could hear the tears in her voice.  I think her Mothers Day was not filled with cards and flowers.  And I do think of my children's first mothers on this day.  Truthfully not just on this day, but often.  But her wording was so unfortunate.  Adoptive children, at least my adopted children, do not live with their first mothers--or natural mothers--or birth mothers whatever terminology fits best.  For my kids we have used first mother and birth mother depending on what they wanted.  But they also really see us as their mothers too and I read a lot of confusion in Rob's eyes at her statement. None of them at this point in their lives at least, sees themselves as motherless and while I have walked (and will walk again) the paths of the pain of loss with 3 of my 5 kids all ready, this was just harder than other situations we have encountered thus far.  Sigh.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Dilly of a Derby!

Kentucky Derby Day is a big deal in our house.  I am not southern, but I always wanted to be a jockey.  Unfortunately I got really tall and jockeys are on the puny short side.  But a committed horse lover, I have always watched the Derby and usually all the Triple Crown races.  In our house, we can't just sit down like ordinary folks and watch the race?  Heck no!  We have a picnic in the living room. This is a big deal in itself as I am pretty much a "don't eat anywhere but the dining room or the kitchen island" kind of mom.  What can I say?  My kids are less than pristine eaters!  Aside from the meal, which is usually pizza on pretty plates, I plan a couple nice desserts. This year it was a lime jello mousse requested by KC.  I thought it reminiscent of mint juleps so I went with it, and made a double chocolate dream pie for the rest of the tribe. 

But one must always come to an event in the proper attire. And as we know, hats are BIG at the Derby. So we have for years had this silly hat thing that we do. We go to the local craft store and get cheap silly hats and gussy them up and wear them while we cheer on our respective mounts.  This year, KC actually picked the winner. (solely because the jockey wore green silks BTW giving further credence to my personal belief that there is no science to picking the winner)  The two horses I was rooting for--one ridden by a very competant female jockey and one trained by a very good female trainer didn't do much. But it sure was fun to watch and to listen to the littles holler "go PINK"  or "go GREEN" depending on if it was Lissa or KC doing the yelling. I was surprised how much even the big boys get into this rather unique family tradition.

Between that, and getting things ready for K for Mothers Day it was a busy day here.  KC also got a belated birthday gift from a dance class friend and an invite to her birthday party.  He is super excited.  He all ready made her thank you note and it cracked me up.  He decorated the outside with Little Mermaid stickers. Next to the mermaid it says "Well Thank you" kind of like the mermaid is speaking.  Then you open the card and it says, Dear G, Thank you for my gift.  Love KC P.S. You are cool, G.  Oh man this guy is going to keep me on my toes!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

No more time clocks for me!

Well today at work at least one thing got resolved.  I don't have to worry about lunch hours any longer!  LOL  Yup, I am nuts I know.  I have never really taken lunch with any amount of consistancy. There is rarely time to do so and keep up with the flood of paper that is my workaday life. When our new company came on board they added a flood of emails to the flood of paper. . . and said "you must take a lunch hour. it is the law." (picture this said to me in a Voice Of God.) I said gee I don't have time.  "It.Is.The.Law."  So I tried.

I kept missing my lunch.  I would set the alarm on the cell phone they gave me but someone would come in just as I was punching out.  I became semi adept at punchiing out and going back to my desk to eat my Soup in Hand. (I love that stuff!)  But after a few weeks I accidently answered someone at corporate who emailed me while I was ostensibly on lunch and the jig was up.  Again.

So we all sat down and had a come to (insert name of favorite deity) here.  I explained that i am not being a pain in the neck on purpose and that none of this is about trying to get more money.  I just want to get my work done.  Then I asked why they didn't just make me salaried as then this law doesn't apply.  They emailed me today during my lunch.  I am now a salaried employee.  LOL  And if I ever come up for air I get an extra weeks vacation a year now too!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sweet Words in Sand

For those who can't read love notes written with sand and glue. . . "You no what, I love you to Mom"

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The long arm of trauma

Either our life is not as tumultuous as some families  whose children have been touched by trauma, or I have a pretty thick skin.  I suspect it is most likely a combination of the two.  But every once in a while, I am reminded that Trauma is still there.  It may squish down and hide.

It is usually seemingly innocent things that bring Trauma back out of his hiding place.  Last night was one such time.  Rob had wanted to watch the hockey game on TV.  It is playoff time and I was okay with it.  At nearly 15 I am trying to let him have opportunities when he is up later.  I was doing piece work in a room two rooms removed from the living room, but I found reasons periodically to come in and check the score and chat.  He was cuddled on the couch with the dog.

At 10 when I went in, he was asleep with the dog curled at one end of the couch and he at the other.  One of those sweet pictures that touch your heart and make you go "awww" inside.  Except that I have never been able to wake Rob without scaring him.  Not ever.  No matter how gently I stroke him, no matter how softly I speak, he always wakes slightly wild eyed, with his  heart racing, his body stiffened.  And that is what happened last night.

I know there has been improvement.  My son used to hide when he heard sirens for instance. He doesn't do that any more. But healing takes a long time.  Maybe, a life time. 

Monday, May 2, 2011

Work thoughts

I am realizing that sometimes what you wish for can be a mixed blessing.  I have wished to prove myself to my new employers.  I have wished for there to be opportunities to advance, so that I may better provide for my family.  Despite the experiences I am able to offer my kids, we live basically pretty strapped. I fold paper and count plastic implements at night for local factories to supplement our income.  My wife also does this.  I am grateful for this side job as it has allowed her to be home with the kids and am not knocking it at all.  Just that trust me, if you are doing piece work, you are not living large!  LOL

At any rate, what this rambling is about is that I seem to be doing the right things for my new employers.  There are signficant opportuntities being offered to me.  Educational opportunities--I was sent to school last week and though the commute was exhausting, it was very helpful and I think I scored well on the test the last day.  It was an expensive course and a mark of trust that they invested that money in me, since they have only known me since the end of January.  They have asked me to be on a special task force that pertains to the company as a whole and to assist with the hiring of a new staff person where I work.  Which is all really cool.  It is hard not to be jazzed about this, frankly as I have sort of sat in my "old job"spinning my wheels for a long long while.  I had some other offers  to work for other companies over the years, but I wasn't willing to give up my absolutely amazingly short commute and the way that enables me to be home quickly for maximum time with my family, so I passed on them all.

But it is also increasingly clear that though my new employers seem to like me very much, this is not how they feel about my immediate boss.  He and I have worked together for many years.  He is very "old school" in a time when it is all digital, all high tech and all very high speed. When I hoped for new opportunities and a chance to build a more solid financial future, I never thought about the possibility that this could be the result of negative things happening to him. Sigh.  I know that he is well into retirement years age wise.  I know his health is not the best. But this is still awkward and icky feeling. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Stats and Keywords

I didn't know about blog stats for the longest time.  I didn't know about "key words" either till I saw it on someone elses blog.  So being innately curious I went to my blog and discovered that there were lots of "normal" key words that people used that found  my blog.  A word like family would be sort of logical! LOL There were some others that seemed normal too. Then there was one phrase that surprised me: "are adoptive children grateful?"  And they found MY blog with that? 

I know that I have spoken to a lot of people who think kids should be grateful. Truthfully I am sure a lot of the time that bio kids are not "grateful."  I had as a child no real clear understanding of the hoops my mom went through with my dad to try and get me certain experiences.  I did know that usually my grandfather paid for them.  I was glad certain things happened, excited certain things happened. But I am not sure grateful was really an accurate description.  And in reality there were a lot  of things I wanted to try and do that never happened. Sometimes it was financial, sometimes there were other issues at play in our family dynamics that precluded it. So it isn't like I always got to do what I wanted and was jaded by all the largesse in my life.

I think it is really just a kid thing. Kids have a pretty small frame of references for their life experiences. They haven't had to budget, to decide how to juggle finances to offer a certain opportunity.  I don't expect gratitude.  I do want them to participate fully in whatever they have elected to do--because those choices are fully theirs--and to see whatever it is through to completion. 

Today we got Rob a new bike.  His bike was stolen last summer under slightly murky circumstances while he was at the local school shooting hoops.  I told him then that I didn't have money to replace the bike then and as summer was almost over we agreed to take care of it in the spring. I am still not fully certain of the circumstances but felt then, and feel now that there was a component of responsibility for the incident on me.  It didn't occur to me that he should lock his bike while he was there and I had not suggested doing so.  Thus, someone made off with a pretty nice bike and we both learned a lesson.  Today we went and got the new bike.  Rob picked out the biggest lock system I have ever seen for a bike. It is a combination lock AND a key lock. LOL  He thanked me for the bike in the car on the way home and then took off on his new ride right away.  That's about all the gratitude I really need!