Thursday, June 30, 2011

Almost July???  How is it that half a year is gone in the blink of an eye?  As I put the embellishments on the kid's scrapbooks tonight, I could see why.  There is a lot that happens in our lives.  So much so that keeping up with the scrapbooking is always an undertaking in and of itself! LOL  The last time I had a lull in the piece work I printed all the pages that I needed--um nearly 6 months worth!  Tonight I put them in each of the three scrapbooks and jazzed them up with gew gaws.  I am set for a few months now! 

I had a good email today from Jane regarding Fiona.  She wrote to the whole team and said that she has picked August as the month we will visit next.  OK that is fine, I just want a DATE but I will model patience for Jane and my daughter!  She also said that Fiona will have a phone call with Dee, their brother, who now lives with Cousin N. She wants to craft a narrative that will help Fiona deal with  the murky and painful reality that all the other siblings were adopted and/or live with biological family.  (though in Dee's case there was an adoption and a disruption and Cousin N is not adopting him but pursuing guardianship.  And in Crystal's case, Cousin N. adopted her but she lives far away down south and not with Cousin N at all).Those finer points don't help how Fiona feels of course.  Jane had two suggestions.

1.  We focus on the fact that Fiona is 19 now and will be 20 this Christmas. This is typically a time when young adults start to live more independently from their family and to focus on that angle.
2.  To acknowledge that Fiona as the eldest did a good job taking care of her brothers and sister when they were younger but that now it was time for her to take time to take care of herself.

I voted for scenario #1.  Course i am partial to that one as I suggested it to Jane a long time ago.  My issue with the second concept is that for Fiona the underlying message there is that if she had really taken good care of her sibs that they would all still be together. DSS would never have shown up and life would have been far different from the reality of how things turned out.   On a good day, she will let me gently suggest that it wasn't her job to try to rescue her family and that she did all she could and all anyone could ever expect of such a young girl.  But I know that despite the nodding head, she still thinks "if only. . . " 

I also saw at the awards night that many students in the Great School who were graduating were speaking of the excitement of first jobs, living in a more independent setting and so on.  It makes sense to me to build on this, and also to keep reinforcing that we are not going anywhere. That we will still be her family and be there as much as she wants us to be. I also mentioned in the email that many kids, and lots of adoptive kids in particular have increased anxiety over growing up and that it was extra important that Fi understand that we were going to love her just as much at 20, 25, etc as we do now. 

Meanwhile I am looking forward to the holiday weekend.  I love holiday weekends. This is going to be an odd 4th of July for us in some ways.  We always spend it with the kids god parents but are doing our BBQ on a different weekend this year to accomodate an unforeseen obligation that they need to handle.  If the kiddos are healthy enough, we will maybe see some fireworks!  I love fireworks. They are so magical and transient and surprising. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fiona and facing fears

Fiona normally calls on Tuesdays, but again tonight our only call was Jane. She said that Fi had "declined" to call and that she was not sure exactly what was going on.  It is of course, complicated.  Fiona's peer role model at the school (someone all the students apparently look up to) has been in a very negative space lately.  This can translate to those feelings being picked up on and bought into by other students and could be a factor in Fiona's recent behavior.

Jane also mentioned that Fiona became very upset after her third visit with Cousin N because she thought a home visit was the next step.  She expressed fear of that and Jane was not sure why but felt it was genuine and rooted in the past history.  I said that at one point Cousin N lived in a fairly unsafe area with a borderline boyfriend who appeared to do borderline things.  My Rob was afraid to go there and we always accompanied him on the visits.  Fiona went there several times when she was at the RTC near to us.  I don't know what happened there but it is possible that she saw something heard something, or experienced something fear producing.  Needless to say there has been no home visit to Cousin N since she re-appeared in Fiona's life. In fact I am not sure how much Cousin N is involved truthfully.

I did stress to Jane that I don't think Cousin N is in the same type of relationship or living in the same type of environment that she was at that point.  I think she sees life through a different lens of both experience and from the result of some positive choices she has made recently.  But for Fiona, that is harder to understand.

Jane feels that Fi's  fear concerning her cousin may also overlap into our family dynamic.  Sometimes the fear and the blame does not get placed at the source but just the one that is trusted.  I get that.  I told Jane that my primary concern was that we somehow help Fiona so that she does not trap herself in a cycle of not connecting with us because the more alienated she makes herself the more emotional turmoil she is going to feel.  She always does best with the supports of love and family in her life--as do most of us.

Jane also wondered if the fact that Fiona had been wanting a visit home was part of this and it may be.  I have suggested that I write to Fiona and suggest that she decide whether she wants our  next visit to be here at home or if she would rather that we go to the Big City again and do something fun there.  I would rather make the trip than have her slide back into lack of communication and depression or anger.

I think Jane was surprised by the suggestion but she thought it was a good one. Typically the Great School has a policy that a certain number of phone calls happen before an off site visit.  I said that given that up till recently we have had weekly calls, I hoped that if we got a call in next week that we could visit somewhere on the 16th.  I also think that Fiona is a person who gets anxious waiting for something to happen.  My Chet is like that also and sometimes you just need to grab some hope or faith and just do the thing you want to do.  Amazingly Jane went with that.  She will present the results of our phone consultation to the team and get back to me either by phone or email, but tonight or tomorrow I will write to my daughter. 
I did tell Jane that I had finally found the pink ipod that she wanted and that it was supposed to be her gift on awards night.  I will send that with the letter and we will see what happens next.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Make that Bee-Boy!

B-boy usually refers to a dance genre.  In this case it means the aforepictured Brittany Spaniel is waiting outside the hosta flowers for those oh so delicious bees to appear.  Is he really the reason behind the honeybee colony collapse?

Deep Sixing the Deck?

I am feeling much better. Thankfully, healthy living and herbs seem to push any cruds I get out quickly as a general rule.  I did fall asleep for an hour yesterday morning which is pretty weird for me.  But when I woke up I felt a lot better and was pretty much my usual active self the rest of the day. The kids and I did  bike riding. I love watching their growing confidence in this arena.  KC also likes to scooter this year and creates all these "tricks" that he has named (as in Watch me, I call this the Statue of Liberty!"  They all look remarkably similar but he has a blast.

K and I spent some time pondering the fate of our back deck.  The presence of a deck has been there for many years. This most recent incarnation was put on when Chet was in about 3rd grade. We have been repairing it piece meal ever since.  It is not up to code. The kind of railing that we have the city would not allow, so if we replace the deck we need close togtether ballasters which will impede the view of the back yard.  It is also pricey and not really a DIY project for us.  The reason we kept the deck all these years is that I had this dream of K and I eventually occupying the downstairs bedroom that is reserved for my mom at present. In that vision, we would remove a window in the bedroom, put in a door and have access to the deck from our bedroom. 

Except that is not really likely to happen. And even if it could, I am not sure I really want that room as my bedroom for other reasons.  So I got thinking and asked K if we should consider making a hardscape patio instead of replacing the deck.  There would be less maintenance. We would still have a place to eat and entertain.  So we spent a lot of time drawing plans and looking at big box store DIY videos and such.  It is not a project for this year but I think it is on the radar for next year.  The only thing we would need assistance with is building the steps to lead down to the walkway and the actual excavation for the gravel layer.  I think the rest of it we could really do our selves.  BUT if anyone has done a project like that and has pearls of wisdom, shoot em our way! :-)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

It is Sunday.  The first full day of Rob's camping week.  My mom will see him today as she attends the UU outdoor services at this camp each weekend. Mom and Rob don't "hang" because the campers do their own thing with their counselors and sit together in worship. But they always wave at each other and Rob has always liked that gentle reminder of the family who love him.

The littles got up this morning ready to try and fill big brothers shoes. They managed to help feed the dog and the cats and eat their breakfasts in jig time. I know this will get old by Wednesday but for now they are revelling in a chance to prove they can step up and take on extra chores.

Yesterday when we returned home I decided I should clean out the bottom of Rob's closet.  My reason is that I have this sneaky feeling that somehow Valkyrie will choose that spot when it comes time to have her kittens.  There was a lot of tissue paper and outgrown clothes on the floor and I got rid of damaged clothes and tissue paper into a trash bag.  Then I was stopped a bit short.

Last year I bought myself a new tankini.  I hadn't had a new bathing suit since Chet was 15 and decided I was due.  The kids helped me pick it out and I left it in our spare bedroom to show my wife when she got home from work.  Except that when she got home all I could find was the top.  The bottoms were not there.  I tore the spare room apart and could not find them.  K wondered if I had either thrown them out accidently (a tour of the trash revealed no) or was just losing my mind.  I was sure that I must have had them in my hand and put something away in another room and accidently set them down. They would turn up, I said.  Except they didn't until yesterday.

In my son's closet with his swimwuit SI calender.  I am flattered I guess that he had them tucked in around Miss February. LOL 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Rob is at camp

Today we brought Rob to camp.  This is his first year in the highschool group but he has attended this camp for 4 prior years.  He is a veteran and it shows in the relaxed demeanor.  We got there too early for checkin.  By about 90 minutes as I read my info packet wrong. this was no great big deal. Rob immediately saw friends to catch up with, the littles wanted to explore the playground and K found a place to knit.  We played, chatted, and relaxed for an hour and a half. It passed quickly. I liked watching Rob circle from  hanging with his friends to coming back and spending time with  the kids and I. There was an increased naturalness and ease to the way he handled family relationships and friend relationships that was a great step forward.

 The camp nurse is also the same one as last year which relieves me greatly. She remembered Rob, remembered me--I suspect this has a lot to do with the rant that I went on about making sure the glaucoma drops are given ON TIME every day and less about her having a photographic memory.  We agreed on dosage times, I told her Rob has a watch with an alarm at that time and it is all good, I hope.

This year he rooms in  a new building but with a friend and he happily claimed the top bunk.  The littles have grown and matured as well.  There were no tears and wails for the ride home as there have been every.other.year.  I can't tell you how happy that makes me.  I want my kids to be tight and have each others backs but I don't want them to fall apart when circumstances necesitate time apart.   I do need to write a post about what I found when I cleaned his closet when we got home, but I'll have to s pend some time thinking about that one first!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Getting Rob ready for Camp

Tomorrow morning we rise early and bring Rob to camp in another state. This is the first year he is in the high school group at this camp.  He is excited.  I think one of his friends from church might be there the same week and a young man who was in youth group with him is working on the crew this year. It is a familiar place with some familiar faces and it is a place that is emotionally safe for him. He thrives there and always comes back having made some significant strides in maturity.

This year as I packed his clothes it felt especially poignant.  I was helping him get toiletries together and this year he needs to pack a razor.  And I realized that it won't be that many years till I am packing his bags for college. Oh geez, I am not ready for that!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Like a Dishrag!

You know that Madonna song, "Like a Virgin?"  Well my version is like a dishrag cause that's how I feel right now!  The week from Hades is drawing to a close but even hyper little me is feeling it by now. Today Fiona's awards night gift arrived in the mail.  A day late, per my luck this week, so I have to get to the post office and mail it out asap. (it is a refurbished pink ipod) 

I had to pack up Rob for camp tonight and that meant going and getting a new battery for his carabiner watch. Except that it turned out the watch is toast but it took 30 minutes there to figure it out.

My wife is wicked sick and has shared her crud.  She is on an antibiotic.  I am not as sick as she is (yay for that Viral Immunity stuff that I take) but I am presently a very sexy baritone LOL and it probably contributes to the dishrag feeling.

I found out today that in all liklihood my wife's position at the site where I work will be eliminated with in the month. This also eliminates about 4K from our family income.  I don't want our family cost cutting measures to eliminate dance classes, or art classes or gymnastics so I have to figure something out.

I was audited at work today and it went as badly as I thought it would.  There were things my company has had me do that clearly the auditors don't want done that way. The only saving grace is that I save my email directives from people.  Not really to CYA though in this case it did that. More because I reference them back to see if I am doing the myriad of paperwork correctly. I am protected job wise but having such a poor showing bothers me greatly as in 30 yrs I have never had a bad audit. 

I am realizing that the new company I work for is not resident centered.  The kinds of services we have spent years  providing is something that is not part of their corporate agenda.  The disconnect saddens me. I think you can be an effective manager and still help people.  I think you can provide services people need and be kind.  Can you say lone voice in the wilderness?

It is raining so hard I need to build an ark. I am tired of rain.  If I liked rain I would live in Washington state.  (no offense to any possible readers from that area--it is just that I hate rain. Really. Hate. Rain.

On the plus side?  Friday looms on the horizon.  My regional boss goes on vaca next week. My kids met me at the door tonight with my slippers and ringing a triangle.  I am not quite sure WHY they were ringing a triangle but it was cute.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Fiona's awards

Tonight was Fiona's award and graduation night. (she is not graduating but 6 students did) and we got there.  Traffic was a bear and we were a bit later than planned in arriving.  Things had not started yet but the students and most of the audience were all ready in the hall.  As the kids and i walked in, one of the staff recognized me and I greeted her. She said how happy she was that we had come and that Fiona thought we were not coming.  I am not sure if Fi thought this because we were a few minutes late or if it was because she was afraid she caused a rift with the less than great phone call last night. She tends to fear that anything less than positive will make people leave.  She has pretty good reasons for feeling that way, despite the fact that I have been there for 10+ years.

I think the littles were bored out of their gourds.  Sitting and listening to the kudos to the various organizations that partner to give these young people job internships and opportunities of various kinds doesn't really rock the world of a 7 year old and  a 4 year old.  LOL  However, my mantra about doing what we do because family is there for each other has taken root.  And they fuss mildly but mostly suck it up and find something good in it.  They were genuinely thrilled to see Fi and thought it was "not much of a visit" becuase we really didn't get much time together.  And by the way Fiona got 3, count em 3 awards!  Proud mama much??

K is quite ill with some weird throat and sinus thing and really needed to get home to advil and bed.  So after the 90 minutes of awards we spent a few minutes together and hugged and schmoozed and then exited stage left.  It was also impressive to me that Fiona handled that necessary exit very maturely. 

Tomorrow I have a huge inspection at work.  I hope all will go well and then Friday maybe I can just have a normal day and catch  my breath.  This has really been one of those weeks when you count on adrenaline to carry you through!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Marking Time

This picture has nothing to do with the post.  Lissa just looks so cute and Blake looks--well, content?  LOL  Seriously pooch, have you no shame?  Evidently not!

Fiona was supposed to call tonight.  And Jane called instead to say that Fiona would not call. Fi was refusing to make a phone plan and seemed edgy and angry.  Jane felt that likely the preparations the kids had been doing for tomorrow's awards and graduation were setting her off.  I said no worries and we made our plans for tomorrow as we all are going to be there.

Then about an hour later the phone rang and it was Fiona.  She sounded happy but tense and the call was far from excellent. She wanted to know when we were going to have a home visit.  I gave her and Jane every single open Saturday for the next 2 months so that they could check Jane's schedule.  That is fine and the appropriate next step. The problem is that Fiona has no real calendar sense. 

I am an idiot because I forgot this.  Probably because the kids here at home are all VERY calendar savvy. They each have their own calendars and marking special times or just checking off the days is a big deal to them. So no matter what I said or what Jane suggested, Fiona felt it was all too far away and was feeling confused and overwhelmed.  On the plus side she could say she was feeling confused.  On the minus side neither Jane or I could come up with a strategy that would help her see that  a visit was not far off.

I tried to re-direct her toward our visit tomorrow at the Great School and she was having none of that. It just made me want to cry to hear her frustration and sadness.  I felt so inadequate and I know that my greatest weakness as a parent is in being able to break things down so that someone with cognitive challenges doesn't feel overwhelmed.  I try to be really conscious and intentional,but sometimes I forget.  I speak too quickly or with too complex a thought and leave her stranded which was so not my intention.

Hopefully seeing us tomorrow will help.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Ooma's Day

I woke up this morning to discover my family had declared today my day for celebrating, gifting and enjoying!  It was exciting.   "Ooma's Day" (I am Ooma and K is Mom) sort of roams around the calendar and depends on when K is free to help the gang with what they want to do.  Her weekend work schedule and the kids involvement in extra curricular things makes the actual date vary but it always happens.

I had muffins brought to me in bed.  Flowers from our yard.  Juice and tea.  And the most beautiful necklace and matching earrings that they all made together out of fimo clay. They are gorgeous and are sort of a teal blue with gold swirled through.  I looooove them.

Everyone had made me a card--KC made me three because he said you can never have too many cards! LOL

This all happened by about 7 a.m. and the thing was I had allocated a few hours to go to my office and work today.  I have a performance review this Tuesday, and  a housing audit Thursday.  This week will be singularly stressful and I thought getting some silly picky stuff out of the way would help alleviate that.  I got a ton of stuff done in only 2 hours and got home with lots of day left.  Time to watch them scooter and bike ride. Time to make lunch and eat it leisurely on the deck steps and read my book.  Time to finger paint with them and clean the kitchen. 

It's been a great day and I am a very lucky woman!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

My Man-ling

Growing up isn't for sissies.  I remember as a kid being of the whole process.  The idea of becoming a teenager for some reason petrified me. The idea of getting a license to drive gave me nightmares (though I never shared that with my parents).  It was the whole change thing.  We all love predictability to a certain extent, and an order to our little bit of the universe.

Adopted kids are no different except that you times the need for predicatability and the fears by oh, say 100.  Fiona is just now beginning (and the stress is on beginning) to realize that she does not need to worry that our relationship ends because she is over 18.  That kids and their parents continue to be in relationship their whole lives.  Rob has always been deeply afraid of growing up.  For one thing, growing up means making some choices and dealing with the results of those choices.  For another there is implicitly more responsibility.  Factor in abandonment and trauma issues and it makes for murky going.

I would say ages 12 and 13 were high stress years for him on that front. There was a lot of push/pull.  Wanting freedoms and choices. Getting them and blowing it so that he could consequence back to the safety net of younger behavioral expectations.  And I just sort of let him live there till he began to chafe at it around the mid part of last year.  And then I sort of approached it differently.  When I extended his bed hour, it was to be up with me watching a movie together or reading and hanging out together. For some reason there is a huge difference to the expectation that one  can turn out the light in the bedroom responsibly.  Can't quite fathom, but it works.  Picking the movie each week has become a task he loves to be in charge of and it has given insights of growth, interest and maturity into my son that I might not otherwise have noticed.

He is again allowed to go to the park and hang out with friends but I only let it be for an hour at a shot.  More than that seems to lead him down the slippery slope of poor choices.  I have decided that he seems to operate better by building on continued success rather than the cause/effect of natural consequences in this regard.

He has become more able to quietly negotiage for himself with regard to his interests and desires.  That is huge to me. If  you can't let people know what you want, I think you are destined to be less than happy.

And this spring, came the next big growing up thing.  Facial hair!  I mentioned in passing that he might need to start thinking about what kind of razor he wanted and he was not totally horrified.  Not exactly ready to run right out and get anything either, so I just let it ride.  Last night he asked if we were going to the store today to get his razor.  LOL We had the convo on shaving like 6 weeks ago, but apparently he'd been rolling it around in his mind and was now ready.

So today we went and got shaving stuff and set it up and had our getting aquainted with things time.  And me?  I look at this strong handsome  young man and can't wrap my mind around the fact that he used to be younger than KC is now, needing protection and reassurance from a very scary world. I am so proud that he is feeling more capable of dealing with life and exploring all that life has to offer.  That is the greatest gift I could ever hope for.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Stress? What stress?

Not parent stress. Not integrating the new pregnant kitty stress.  Work stress.  Next week is going to be so crazy at work. On Tuesday we have meetings with a committee from our new company individually to go over the results of our 90 day review plans and essentially decide our fates. I have never been through this before.  I have been told "not to worry" but I think that is easier said than done!

Then as though this was not enough fun for one week we are having a regulatory inspection on Thursday.  The thing that totally rots is that we HAD this inspection in January.  I passed  with flying colors.Actually my property passed but I am the key person responsible for the data that is reviewed. Our site is not due to have this inspection again. But the person who does the reviews does not want to leave the Big City in the winter and drive the 60 miles or so to our location.  Seriously.  That is the reason. 

I am not in my usual great place for this inspection due to the big changes from my old company to my new company.  Our methodology has changed and due to the technology aspect there was a huge lag in getting everything on the computer.  (this is also something that I was not responsible for doing as I had not yet been trained on the system)  Therefore data is messed up right now and the clear concise reports that reviewers want are pretty much not there.

I felt we had good grounds to refuse the request for inspection but was told that we would make them angry and to do it anyway.  When I explained that we will crash and burn, again I was told not to worry.  Sigh.  Yup that is so not working for me!

Then to further complicate things, Fiona has a school event  next Wedneday evening.  I am scheduled to take off Wed. afternoon so that we can all go into the Big City and be there.  I doubt I can take off Wed. afternoon now with the inspection Thursday so I am scrambling around to figure out how to get us there.  I will not bail on Fiona. I am iron clad on that.  It takes a medical emergency of a high level for me to not show after I have said I will.  This does not qualify. What I think I will likely do is go into the office Sunday afternoon and work for a few hours so that I can be further along in the prep we do for the reviewer and then leave just an hour early Wed instead of having the relaxing afternoon at home with the gang. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

So a few weeks ago, this cat showed up in our yard.  DO NOT FEED THE CAT, I announced sternly to all the children. DO NOT PET THE KITTY I admonished futilely.  Because, you see, Rob is not just an animal lover.  Animals love him.  Scratch that, they adore him.  Haven't met a critter that didn't take to that boy quicker than you'd imagine.  Sigh.

So a few weeks went by and the cat was still hanging around.  And then it got really rainy.  And suddenly it was sitting literally in front of our back door yelling to be let in.  Rob quietly asked about having another cat.  To which I treated the boy to a litany worthy of my father when I was a kid.  (yes, I too brought home more than my fair share of animals. In fact the only reason I got to keep the last cat I brought home was because I was moving out in a couple of months!) 

I explained that the cat was likely to have fleas and ticks.  Rob checked it and reported it clean.  I snorted and pointed out that this was hard to tell with a coal black kitten.  I pointed out that Maui is not a friendly cat. He beats up our dog.  What might he do to a tiny kitten.  Rob said the kitten could stay in his room.  I said that it had sores on its ears.  Rob said that they didn't look serious.  I said that taking in a kitten was expensive and we were saving for a big family vacation.  Rob said he would pay all the vet costs if I could pay for the added food and litter expenses. And he would help with cat pans. 

It was water wearing a rock into a pebble.  Oh and of course he had all ready named the kitten. He informed me it was a girl and her name was Valkyrie. Valkyrie is Skulduggery's sidekick in the series he likes so much. LOL

So I said yes, but that she could not come in until we got a clean bill of health from the vets.  Worms and fleas were not welcome.  Also I wanted to be sure she was feline leukemia negative.  So today she went to the vets.  She had no fleas.  She has ear mites. She is feline leukemia negative. She is about 7 months old.  And due to deliver a litter of kittens in about 3 1/2 weeks.  ACK!

The vets said a shelter will take the kittens when they are 8 wks old.  They better! LOL

Monday, June 13, 2011

Van Music!

Rob and I saw this group Mumford and Sons on an awards show earlier this year.Mumford and Sons sound like this.  Um, not really my typical sound!   I am more like a Sean Kingston kinda gal.  But I dunno, they might be rubbing off on me.  Either that or the cost of our van repair, projected at over $1000 makes me want to bang my head like the Mumford gang did when we watched them on TV!  LOL

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Piano Recital!

I have never offered music to my kids with the edict that they must perform.  I believe that music has a deep ability to heal, to soothe and to allow for expression in ways that words sometimes can not. For those reasons alone, music lessons have always been money well spent to me.  Chet took guitar lessons for 6 years.  He derived pleasure from messing around in his room and from the social aspects of his classes. KC has played recorder for a year and delights in just picking up his instrument and playing.

Rob asked to take piano lessons just a bit over a year ago.  I said sure, though I was surprised.  I too can stereotype and Rob was so strongly into athletics that I missed the signs of how much music was beginning to mean to him.  On the plus side, the fact that I love music and haul my kids to a variety of musical experiences was obviously benefitting him despite my cluelessness. LOL

But he began his piano lessons. And I rarely heard him play though I saw him practice often.  Sometimes I think that putting on the headphones and playing was respite from the hubbub of our busy noisy family.  Sometimes I think it meant he could not hear me ask him to do a chore. LOL  But it was meeting an emotional need and I let it be.  Once in a rare while I would hear really lovely music in the hall at church, or in our living room when I would be coming in from outside, and I would smile to know it was Rob.

By his very guarded, quiet nature I always felt that his music was his own private joy, and that others were not necessarily going to be let in.  Today he decided to change that.  He played a piece by his favorite group The Fray and was backed up by a guitarist and his teacher who played some instrument that he blew into but looked like a small keyboard.  I have no clue what it was.  Oh and a drummer.  He did great.  The piece was wonderful. He was watched by his siblings, my wife and I, his grandmother and her new gentleman companion, and his god parents. 

My greatest gift, was his demeanor.  Rob has PTSD and his stress response is always pretty close to the surface. Often, it is most visible in group settings.  But not today. The magic of music gifted my son with a calm joy that literally just radiated off him.  I am so blessed.

I took a few shots with our camera but suspect they did not come out well.  The sanctuary where the recital was held is large and sucked the tiny little flashes life right out of it. I'll try and mess around with computer editing to make it look decent and post later!

Of Compound Words and Suffixes

KC and Rob tend to not give up schooling even when the school year is really over.  And while part of me longs for a bit of respite, most of me sees huge benefits to them.  Without a certain amount of structured time, all my kids become a bit rudderless and more likely to have behavioral problems. For them there is a fine line between enough "down time" to feel relaxed and to foster creativity and having too much which leads to spiralling into negative behaviors.

So we are in "homeschool lite" mode for the summer which means about an hour or so of schooling daily with rotating subjects.  Most recently, KC has felt drawn to working on his language skills.  This past week the concept of compound words and suffixes were introduced.  To help him have a better grasp of them, I used his artistic skills. For suffixes, I drew a picture of a little bi plane.  It was pulling a banner with the suffix 'ing' on it and "fly" was on the body of the plane.  He colored it in and then thought up other words to make with suffixes.

Compound words were harder for him to understand. So I had him draw a picture of himself, Rob and Lissa.  Then on his shirt he wrote "every" a plus sign on Rob and "one" on Lissa.  Then below them the full word without the plus sign.

It was fun, even for a slightly fried teacher! LOL

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Summer Dreaming

Lazy days of summer?  um, not so much!
I was thinking about our summer plans last night while I waited for the Bruins to finish their abysmal hockey game.  And I realized with a start that summer is not a kick back and relax kind of time.  For instance, here is my Saturday:

shopping-bank-library-birthday party from 1 to 3 in a fairly far away city-city fireworks at night if the weather holds

Sunday--church--church picnic--My mom and her gentleman companion come about 2--Rob's piano recital--Rob's parent/teen meeting for a missioin project--Rob's youth group
June 22nd Fiona has an awards night at the Great School in the Big City
The last weekend in June I have to take Rob to another state for his week of away camp on Saturday. That will take most of the day as it is 2 1/2 hours each way plus the ckin and such.

The weekend after that I repeate the trip to pick him up.
July 4th we have the kids godparents over for a BBQ
July 8-10 I take 3 of the kids camping to a birthday camping weekend that our friends are doing for their daughter.  We will do Storyland and Santas Village that weekend. July 10th Chet has been asked to help with the service at church and I am trying to convince K to take him as I will not be here.
July 30th KC is having his luau and many small children will invade our back  yard.
In August we host my wife's side of the family for a BBQ
August 20th the kids are invited to a pool party birthday party.
Labor Day weekend we camp from Thursday through Labor Day at our fave camping site.

There are a few weekends open but so many things I WANT to do with the kids.  Berry picking, canning I want to take them to a drive in movie. I want to climb a mountain with them. I want to do a picnic supper in the park.

And there are house repairs. . . sheesh there are house repairs!  We have to repair our deck. We have pruning in the yard.  We have trim to paint.  I need to shampoo the living room rug.

Sigh.  So many dreams and not so many days!!! LOL

Thursday, June 9, 2011

R.I.P Hush!

So back when KC was 2 1/2 and needed an abcessed tooth removed and then a round of antibiotics--antibiotics he flatly refused to take--we did what all responsible parents do in such situations.  We bribed.  As in, "if you take your medicine you can get that fish you have been begging for."  He did, and Hush came home from the petstore in one of those baggies that fish live in for the big journey to their new aquarium.

Hush was a betta fish and after the first week when he was stared at daily, he sort of became a fixture on the living room shelf.  People said hi as they walked by and he just quietly lived there.  For a really long time because KC is 7 now.

Hush was fine yesterday, but today, well, Hush had moved beyond the corporeal demands of fishly life.  Unfortunately this was discoved while KC was at art class.  Lissa was pretty fascinated by the fish death and because I knew she couldn't wait to tell KC when he returned home, he got told pretty soon upon arriving.

And he is devastated.  We are making a poster of Hush and everyone is going to write on it something they remember about him and we will hang that as a memorial. But my lil man went to bed tonight crying bitter tears over the passing of his fish.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Fiona doesn't call

Fiona did not call us last night.  I always worry when she doesn't.  It can mean nothing.  Jane can be off campus.  She can be off site with staff.  But it can also mean she has had a behavioral challenge.  She did so well on Saturday but like many kids from trauma doing well one day, can lead to self sabotage the next. She may have bolted.  Police may have been called. She may be hospitalized.  So I always worry.

Thankfully, Jane called, later in the evening and nothing was wrong.  The educational director at the Great School was leaving and a meeting had run late.  Fiona was not available to chat (and neither were our kids at that point) but the reassurance was very much appreciated.

Jane and I talked a bit about what we might do when Fi comes here for her first visit home.  Fiona is beginning to feel anxious about this.  It has been a long time since she was here, even though she had returned home for several visits and holidays even after the disruption.  I let Jane know that the restaurant that Fiona had initially wanted us to go to this past Saturday exists in our city and that the first visit we could perhaps consider lunching there before heading back to the house.  It would enable her to eat at a place she has indicated a preference for and make the first visit home shorter while actually at home.  Of course there is also the dilemma of are we setting a precedent that we eat at a restaurant when she comes out?  So clearly nothing is settled, but it is early days and doesn't need to be.

For now, it felt good to just chat with Jane and do a little planning.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Preemies do catch up!

I have a really cute pic of KC and Fiona that I was going to put at the beginning of this post. But technology is fighting back against me tonite.  Blogger says that they are doing "maintenance" and that means the server is rejecting my pictures for the moment.  Google gave me grief about creating a doc of the minutes for the church committee I serve on and I had to fight with that to get it to go through. And I borrowed Salt from the library and can't make the sound play, only the picture. Clearly the planets are in some manner of unhappy alignment at the moment.

On the plus side--the migraine that came to live with me on Saturday and stayed through Sunday is mostly gone today.  It left that memory pain--the soreness that reminds you of what was there and now isn't.  Probably I wouldn't even have that if I had not had so much eye strain at work today, but such is life.

The great news, is that KC and Rob had their yearly physicals today.  Rob was fine and is 5 ft 5 inches and 125 pounds.  KC is 48 pounds which is pretty huge for him and I forget his height. BUT his height allowed him to just skate into the "normal" growth range. 

This is so cool because he has always been my wee elf, somewhat petite of stature and somewhat more delicate than his siblings.  I remember my MD saying that preemies do catch up, but it was hard to believe when at 3 months old the newborn stuff was just starting to fit decently!

edited to add very cute pic one day later!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Fiona's off site visit

Yesterday I woke up at 5 a.m. with a migraine. Sigh.  This is so not helpful. I got up and took some Advil and went back to bed till 6:15. Then the kids and i got up. It was the day we had been looking forward to, going into the Big City to see Fiona.  I was so not going to cancel.

We had a wonderful trip and it was possible becuase of the train which meant I wasn't driving but a couple miles to the train station.  Fi looks fantastic. She has lost 12 pounds and has been really working on a healthy eating plan. I think the med change is helping also as she is naturally more energetic these days.  We went to a suburb of the big city and walked near a reservoir. We never got to the waterworks museum because there were trails to explore and eating our picnic lunch took longer than we had all budgeted time wise. But it was still great.  In fact it was great because Fiona could handle those changes without apparent anger and stress.

At lunch she said that she was going to ask her social worker if she could be placed out near us when she graduates from the Great School in the Big City.  I said I would totally love that and help in any way I could.  When the kids ran ahead on the trail I asked Jane about this. We had a conversation earlier this past year that made it sound less than likely that my daughter would go anywhere except the "sending" city where she lived at age 8 when she first entered care. 

Jane smiled and said that she and the social worker had been talking and that there is a new movement afoot that focuses more on trying to make sure that there are supports in place for kids who are aging out and not just a focus on sending them back "where they came from."  Even heard through the haze of a migraine this was the best possible news to me. 

Jane also said that she has become very frustrated with Cousin N. She understands that the cousin has a lot on her plate but the old habits of not doing what she said when she said she would do it have resurfaced.  Jane now no longer tells Fiona when Cousin N. is coming. She tells the cousin to call on her cell when she is on her way because lack of follow through is so detrimental to Fiona's state of mind.  Jane is also annoyed as staff will not supervise the visits if Jane is not there and apparently on several occasions Cousin N. has offered inappropriate behavioral rewards.  So at this point in time, Jane feels that a strong case could be made that it is in Fiona's best interest to be near the people that she can really count on.  I realize also that should Cousin N. get her act together that first family will trump the disrupted adoptive family--and rightly so.  I am not competing. I just want what is best for my daughter.

And I want her to have a home to go to on Christmas morning. A place where she knows she can stop in when she just feels like chilling for a while, or when she has a question.  A place where there is a hug waiting for her.  A place where there are siblings who love her for who she is and in a non-judgmental manner.

I wrote of this to my mom when I got home and she was a lot less excited than I am.  She reminded me that I was "not getting any younger,"  (gee thanks mom!) and that although I wanted to "call this girl my own" that she would need help always.  That is likely true.  So will Chet.  Kids don't take an IQ test to become part of the family.  While I wish DSS had been more upfront about her issues and needs, I can not cast aside my daughter because she has these problems.  Needless to say, I haven't answered that email yet.  Sometimes migraines are good for something--such as being an excellent excuse for being a poor correspondent!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Homeschooling Happiness

There are days when the title of this post does not match my personal feelings.  I am typically teaching high school algebra and first grade math by 7 a.m.  That would be while I do the breakfast dishes, make Chet's lunch and get ready for work.  Yup, all about multi-tasking! LOL  Then I move on to high school English and pass KC off to K who does all his other classes.

So by May I am soooooo ready for a break.  Yup, it is the homeschool teacher who starts humming "no more teachers, no more books. . . "  Then Teach realizes that it is the last day of May which is the last day of the sale at Oak Meadow where we buy our curriculum.  Teach hurriedly confers with associate Teach and with High Schooler on electives and orders curriculum.

Because Oak Meadow ships remarkably quickly on June 1st the new curriculum arrives.  And after supper, the kids beg to open the box and see what the new school year holds.  We do, and they ooh and ah over literature options, craft supplies, new recorder music and even math. LOL And then they utter these words. . .

"When can we start?"

And that makes my heart sing. Because I always want my kids to want to learn. To love learning.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Wrapping Up a Great Birthday

 Rob and KC decided to wear fedoras worthy of Skulduggery Pleasant to his birthday shindig!
 Chet briefly did as well, though he didn't like the feel of the hat and removed it right after I snapped this picture.
Lissa and I were "fedora free".  But it was a great party. Rob had such a good time and seemed so relaxed and happy.  He made out well, with itunes gift cards from us, cash from nana, a visa gift card from his aunt and uncle.  KC got him 2 CD's of music, Lissa got him a wii game and Chet got him music as well.  I am impressed at how well my kids know what they each like.  It speaks volumes to me.

Afterwards I was trying to upload pictures to Facebook I saw that Rob's sister Krystal was on line.  So I IM'd her and she and Rob had a good long chat.  She lives in a southern state many many miles from  us and they don't get chances to connect all that often.  Then birthday calls starting coming in from his aunt, and from my mom.  He seemed really happy all day, and oddly (risking the dreaded jinx here!) we didn't seem to have much of the weird behaviors that typically precede a birthday for Rob. 

You know the behaviors i mean. The self sabotaging, regressing type of behaviors?  We have always had those from about mid May on.  This would be the first year we really didn't.  I am hoping that is a sign of another step on the road of healing.

Planning to visit Fiona

Fiona called Tuesday night and we are also training into the big city to see her this Saturday.  I   had told her as soon as KC finished his dance recital we would be in so I set it up right away when that obligation was finished.  Fiona and Jane had talked about things to do. They had in mind a visit to a reservoir where there were swans and a place to play outside, a waterworks museum and then Fiona threw in that she wanted us to eat lunch at a restaurant that she said was near this. 

The problem was that Jane said eating at the restaurant would take about an hour which would mean we would have to give up one of the other things.  I know my kids don't really love the restaurant in question--there are very few vegetarian options there.  and they would much rather hang out with Fiona and play with her than sit for an hour after a train ride of more than an hour and a taxi ride. (lol) 

I also know that for Fiona eating out is just as much fun as it is for my kids. And that while we love the amazing food at the School in the Great City, that is her every day food and nothing special to her.  So I asked her if we were to have a picnic, what could I bring that she would like and that would make the meal a good one for her.

Food is always love, isn't it?  In a heartbeat my daughter went from the more adult sounding young lady that she mostly is nowadays to her younger self.

"Mommy could we have GRINDERS?"  she begged.  So somehow I am getting fixings for grinders for 6 on the train, as well as mini cupcakes to celebrate Rob's birthday with her.  Fi and Jane will bring chips and condiments and drinks.

It may be logistically challenging to pack, but I am glad to do this for her and I am also proud of her that she was able to talk something through and adjust a plan.  That is a gigantic step for her.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Birthday Mural Pics

Here are a few shots of the birthday mural.  If you look from the first to the second pic you can see the tag line  "all clues point to a happy birthday" and Rob dressed in fedora and the suit Skulduggery wears holding a super sized magnifying glass.  The bottom shot is of Lissa "hiding"  All of us are hiding similarly in foliage and behind objects, with silly word bubbles above us. Rob is loving the mural. The dining room is partly decorated and tonight is the last night he is 14. I can't wrap my mind around that!