Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Taxing Times

My life is a bit topsy turnvy at the moment.  My office is undergoing rather extensive renovations which will turn my large spacious two person office into two dinky offices inhabited by one person each.  Can you feel the "love" I have for this project?  LOL  I am managing to conduct business in a hard hat zone so I really give myself props for that.  And I am being a good sport about getting a dinky office.  As a person who is kind of clautrophobic (acutally a LOT claustrophobic) the loss of my windows and the space is really sad and troubling to me.  But it is what it is.  The only funny part about the whole thing is that today my new boss looked at the renovation in progress and commented  how it was an expensive project for not a lot of additional space.  I said I had a different scenario that I had floated but my former boss shot it down in flames.  She loved the plan I had come up with--too bad she came on board 5 months after this one was approved!  LOL

Then at night we have had a rush job on o ur piece work and I have been working on income tax returns.  This time of year is one of the few times that I fume over the inequality that exists regarding my marital situation.  I am married in my state. Therefore my state tax return must reflect that.  But my federal one can not.  So I have this fun little scenario:  I have to file a federal single or HOH return for Kirsty and one for me.  Then I have to input all that data AGAIN into a third federal return that I don't file, but only use so that I can have it import the data into the state return so that it correctly reflects our status for the state in which we reside.  And of course, our returns are reasonably complex as there is a home based business that my wife operates so not a minute of this falls into the "gee I love to play with numbers isn't this FUN" category!  LOL

And just to whine a little bit more--our spring weather has apparently departed. We had sleet today!  Sleet and rain.  Oh the injustice of it all!  :-)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Lucky Leprecaun Art Gallery Showing!

Our "art gallery" has been up all month. The kids love doing this and truthfully, I like looking at a years worth of their special art on the walls, tables, etc.  They had one gallery showing with my mom when she was down and had also invited their god parents.  They are busy folks and were not able to come until this past Sunday afternoon.  The littles were so excitd, it was a riot watching them prepare.  KC and Lissa had decided that we needed to have cookies and iced tea with the tea party play set for refreshments, so I threw some cookies in the oven right after we got home from church.  Thank goodness I make dough ahead!  LOL  We made some raspberry iced tea, which is the tea party favorite until it gets hot enough for fresh lemonade.  Then the two littles went to the front window and sat watching for their god parents to arrive.  Thankfully there were also some entertaining squirrels while they waited and the wait was not long, but they were so cute curled up there watching and chattering to each other.

G and W are sweet wonderful people who I am totally blessed to have in my children's lives.  They celebrate my children's joys and achievements and challenge them to do the best they can in a given situation. They admired the art and talked with the kids about their favorite pieces, and how they were made etc.  They extolled over the refreshments, and then spent time just talking with the kids.

That is a rare gift to children nowadays.  To just talk with out an agenda or purpose is not so common.  The gallery will close this weekend after the artists eac h pick a few of their most beloved pieces of art to save.  But the memories will remain and next year, I look forward to looking at another showing of snapshots of their interests and their interpretations of their world.

Monday, March 26, 2012

When other thngs are tough, I will remember. . .

I was sitting in church yesterday as I do most Sundays.  There is a part of our service called Joys and conerns.  I have a love/hate relationship with this part of service time.  There are more than 170 of us in service and if a significant number feel compelled to share and are not brief, we are very late gettin gout of service.   That is the "hate" part.  I am 30 minutes from home and there are Sundays when we get home at 1:30 instead of 12:30 and I feel a bit cheated of my Sunday afternoon.

But this is also the way we as a congregation know who needs our hugs, our help, or a kind word.  It is how we can celebrate and cry with each other and I do know that this is the "like" part of this service component for me.  I know we would not be the congregation we are without takng this time.  So I figure I am supposed to learn patience and deal.  LOL 

And this past Sunday a woman I know only slightly stood up. She shared a very tough medical issue that she will have surgery on this Tuesday and then said that she wanted to end with something really positive that happened to her last Sunday.  She said she came in late to Youth Sunday service and missed some of the early parts. She saw Rob apparently after service and said she was sorry to have missed his playing and would he play for her some time so she could hear.  He said sure, that he would do it right then, and sat down and played for J.  She said she just wanted to share how special that was, and how "neat" a kid Rob is.  Rob was actually not even in the sanctuary as the teen choir was singing at another church this past Sunday, but I was sitting there, feeling all weepy and proud. 

Parenting is a lot about doing things that you don't even know if your child is absorbing. There were so many times in Rob's early years that I wondered if he would be able to reach out to others and perceive a need.  He was never a problem kid in the way that other moms have written about.  DEfinately I never saw the behaviors that his foster family talked about.  But there was so much fear, and so much anxiety, that he kept the deeper part of himself carefully away.  More and more, that is not the case and I am so very very glad.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Residental Placement thoughts

Claudia, at "Never a dull momen"t wrote a great post on residential placements.  Residentials or RTCs are something I alternately think a lot about and then try to push out of my mind.  Most of Fiona's life has been in a residential placement.  She was in one for 2 years before I met her and then placed in a foster home.  I was assured at our many pre-adoption meetings that although the RTC placement was something to consider, it wasn't really where the child was "here and now"  I was in uncharted waters and in my Polly anna way I made the assumption that the placement was due to the severe trauma that Fiona had gone through and that she had been helped and stabalized.  All the professionals I spoke with stressed what a great thing it would be for the 3 siblings to reunite and live together.  All I could see was that our home could do that.  No one suggested that the siblings might have been terrorized by Fiona when she was raging--or that one of them might even NOT want to live with her.  This never crossed my mind as I had no life experience that would indicate such feelings were even possible.

The agency moved Fiona in to our home hurriedly.  We found out afterwards that things were going badly at the foster home due to Fiona's behavior (though at the time the agency sort of led us to believe that they had other issues regarding the foster home.)  It was not long--less than 2 months before really serious issues began to surface. And by that time, Rob was here as well, and their sister Krystal was visiting with placement as a goal. 

I have written about the hard days that led to the disruption of Fiona from our home before and I can't make myself do that again.  I can say it was not lightly done. It was the most painful decision I have ever made.  It came about after 2 long term hospitalizations and multiple medical professionals determining that Fiona could never successfully live safely in a traditional home setting.  I love my daughter, but I can not be awake 24/7  I also have other children to consider and did not want to traumatize them further.  This wasn't a case of putting bio kids in front of adopted kids as my whole family is built through adoption.  It wasn't a case of saying a "damaged" child was not as good as the others.  As readers know, my Chet is autistic and he has significant issues but they were being ramped up and leading to self harm on his part with the constant raging, destruction and danger that Fiona at home was causing.

I was also told by the professionals that if I proceeded with the adoption that  although my daughter would have a secondary state subsidy for life, that it would be much harder to access the type of care that she needs in order to stay safe.  So eventually, we stopped working toward adoption with the clear understanding that in my heart, Fiona is my daughter and our emotional commitment to her endures.  That she is part of our family but can't live in our family,and that she is known and loved for who she is by each one of us.

Which sounds all sunshine and roses and really isn't.  If every RTC was like the Great School in the Big City, maybe it would be. But our experiences have varied wildly in our access to her, and our acceptance by the schools as important in her life.  There have been schools and workers who have told me I have no business inquiring after my daughters health because she is not legally mine.  That my wish to have visits more frequently is not relevent because of this. There have been times she was hospitalized and RTC staff never told us.

And I have seen many of the points that Claudia raised in her article on residential facilities be true in our experience and in Fiona's.  In addition to those negatives, I would stress that I think it damages attachment possibilities by the very nature of institution life.  For Fiona on the one hand RTC life is "safe" both literally and figuratively. There is always someone there to make sure she doesn't hurt herself, to call the authorities if she bolts and takes off into traffic etc. But it is also safe because people come and go and it isn't really necessary or emotionally healthy to really get close to people--you know they will be gone in a year or so. And some RTC's will not allow kids to maintain any contact once they have moved, even if they want to.  One such place said they did this because no one would ever move forward and would always be looking back, if they let school alumni correspond with letters or phone calls.

I think over time, that has greatly contributed to Fiona's type of attachment to us.  Essentially, she loves us and I know that. But we are not foremost in her thoughts if we are not standing in front of her.  Faced between finishing her picture she is drawing and making a weekly call to us she might (and has) just as often chosen to continue drawing than to talk with us.  Admittedly there are cognitive issues and mental health issues in play as well, but I also have to believe that residential living also plays a role.

I know I did the only thing I could for Fiona.  I just wish there had been -- that there was today -- a better system.  We are both more than a little broken from the experience.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Blink of An Eye

Claudia wrote a really insightful post about residential treatment.  It is a subject that is often in my mind and heart because of Fiona.  I need to write something about that.  But not tonight.  Tonight I am also feeling amazed by time.  How fast it passes.  Developmental milestones are certainly noticed in our family.  But sometimes, I guess, things blur a bit.

The unseasonably warm March weather has meant that we have returned to our evenings of playing together at local parks a few weeks sooner than usual.  Last night the kids rode their bicycles up to the park, where we played our version of whiffle ball and Mother May I, and did tricks jumping off of the swings.

I was struck by how it seems just yesterday that I was carrying Lissa up to the park in my sling, holding KC's hand as he toddled along beside me.  Or pulling the two of them in our wagon because they were always too tired from playing afterwards to get home?    Now I watch KC emulating big bro Rob, with his ball cap on backwards and a back pack full of toys on his back as he peddles furiously toward his goal.  And Lissa riding proudly and carefully not far behind on her first two wheeled "big girl" bike.  I watch Rob, playing with kindness and love with the littles, but eager to go off with friends for an hour or so of time on his own, when our park time is done. 

The next blink of an eye may well be Rob--he is on the cusp of young adulthood and I know opportunities and challenges await him.  I am excited for him and to see what the future holds for all my brood. But I want to make lots of memories together.  And keep my eyes wide open.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

No Call from Fi

Jane called last evening and said that Fiona would not call.  Again.  This marks the third week in a row that we have not spoken on the phone.   Some of the time this has been due to hospitalizations.  Thankfully in this case, Fiona merely wanted to be outside playing.  Jane explained that the staff did not give her enough time to transition from what she was doing to her "phone time" mode and that she felt this was the main reason. 

I confess that I was feeling a little sorry for myself last night though.  The kids are understandably disappointed when they think she is going to call and then she doesn't.  I too am disappointed.  Added to that it was a rougher than usual day at work with an unexpected death of a very young resident. 

I have always tried to parent with the mindset that I am putting my kids first.  I suspect all parents try to operate from that perspective, though it is more critical in my opinion when our children have come from trauma.  When they have never been first.  Or maybe even considered.  But last night, I said something to Jane about how much we missed talking with Fi when she didn't call. That I didn't know if it was fair or appropriate to share that with her, but it was really true.

Jane said that even if she shared that with Fiona that it likely would not make any sense to her. That her attachment to us is such that when we are not there, it is like we don't exist. She cares deeply about us in the moment, but that she is not sure how much that extends into day to day living.  It isn't just us, this is Fiona with everyone, in Jane's evaluation, but it was a blow none the less.

I know my daughter has memory issues.  I know she doesn't remember the days of the week clearly so she wouldn't necessarily know she missed a phone call if someone didn't say something. But it was a momentary kind of kick in the teeth to hear that.  I understand that this is also in a way a survival mechanism. So many people have cycled in and out of her life that it is better to keep a distance.  But it is sad.  I have spent 10 years trying to breach that wall.

On the plus side, Jane asked if I would be a resource for a family at the school who is struggling with autism issues. She had observed how I handled things with Chet during her visits to our home with Fiona and thought that maybe I would be okay talking about strategies that have worked for us.  I am, of course, fine with that.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Youth Sunday

Today was Youth Sunday at our church.  This means that our Youth Group, of which Rob is a part, are responsible for the entire Sunday service.  My Rob was responsible for playing the prelude (Speed of Sound by Cold Play) and also sang with the choir.  I was impressed that he was SMILING when he was up there singing.  Rob has always had a really strong fear response to  being in front of people doing anything.  His school assemblies all had that "deer in the headlights" look.  Even the small class events in his public school career had a pathos and desperation to them--it was evident with every fiber of his being that he HATED
what he was doing
Today was further proof of how far he has come in ten short years.  Years that have flashed by in the blink of an eye.   He also took time to introduce his grandmother who came down from the state up north to share this day with us--to his girlfriend.  Several of his former church school teachers commented to me on how much he has changed.  How they remembered that he never would speak and that now he has opened up and shared so much of himself.

I am so grateful.  I am beyond lucky to have this boy as my son. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Top o' the Evening to you!

It has been a busy week at our house.  K is under the weather with a very bad cold that morphed virtually instandly into some type of  hideous triple infection. (sinus, throat and ear)  I have thus far been spared and have been taking my immune supplements to try and make sure it stays that way.  However, I have had a 3 day migraine going and I am about done with feeling like my head is going to fall off.  Or wishing that it would. 

Still I have managed to work--though I must look like death by the comments people make.  LOL  And the weekend beckons with a visit from the wee folk tonight.  They seem to like to play tricks at our house and leave a bit of joy behind for the wee folk who live here.  I have only the teeniest smidge of Irish in me but I adore St. Patricks Day.  Tomorrow we will make some kind of shamrocky treat for dessert to have with supper.  And all the kids will get small bags of gold chocolate coins from K and I.  

Rob is off at rehearsal for the church Youth Sunday service.  He has a couple of roles in the service and we had a bit of teen angst this week over things.  His girl friend called and wanted him to do something with her on Friday night.  I said no becuase they were both committed to this rehearsal.  I don't know if  TongYa's parents  did not want to fight about it and told her to call and see if Rob's parents would let him go, or what.  But I am old school about committments.  You make it, you keep it, unless  you are dying or spilling body fluids all over the place.  LOL  Rob took it with pretty good grace, but I heard through the grape vine that his gf was pretty annoyed.  Ah well. 

Then our black kitty Valkyrie escaped outdoors this a.m. and hasn't been seen since.  Val has been a house cat since she came to us last June.  A black cat outdoors at night is not a good thing. Especially when the weather is both foggy and rainy.  I do hope she comes home and is okay.  She is much beloved, and poor K feels horrible because the cat escaped on her.  She hasn't really shown an interest in going out either so it is all a bit odd to say the least.

My mom is coming down for a visit this weekend--and to go to church with us on Youth Service Sunday and hear Rob play the prelude.  The kids are really excited.  The littles and I put together a gingerbread bunny house from a kit tonight.  It will harden up over night and then tomorrow they can decorate it with Nana.  Much goo and sugar, it will be fun!

The husband of a friend of mine is in the hospital right now.  He has had what appear to be unexplained seizures for over a year now.  Numerous hospitals and medical tests up the wazoo have yielded nothing but today for the first time a much longer battery of tests revealed some seizure activity.  It sounds weird to feel that this is helpful, but they have been so frustrated and frightened and in the dark for so long.  And it all makes my migraine very petty and pale by comparison!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

One Tooth Less

Yesterday KC had a dentist appointment.  He had a filling fall out 2 weeks ago and this was the earliest date that the dentist could fit him in.  It turned out to be a bigger deal than anyone had thought.  Part of the pulp of the tooth was exposed because the filling yanked part of the tooth off with it when it fell out.  KC has notoriously soft teeth.  It amazes me that KC had not had mouth pain during these past few weeks, but he had never said he did.  At any rate, the permanent tooth was right underneath and the dentist said immediate extraction was the order of the day.

KC was a real trooper, and though scared--(the only time he has ever had a tooth pulled he was only 2 and was knocked out) stayed calm and cooperative.

Then he called me at work to tell me that he had earned a reward of going to his favorite book store to get a new book.  I can live with that!  LOL

Friday, March 9, 2012

Jumping for Joy!

This is Lissa on a recent puddle jumping adventure!  Boy can that wee miss jump!  LOL  I feel the same way because it is Friday and the weekend beckons!  The next two weekends are actually a bit busy even by our standards.  Tomorrow afternoon the kids have a birthday party to attend and the following Saturday my mom comes in the afternoon so that she can go to church with us Sunday morning.  Rob and the church youth group are in charge of the service and Rob is playing the prelude.  A lot of people think I must get tired with all that we do together each weekend.  I suppose I might, but mostly it is the seasoning and the joy that helps me get through the nitty gritty work stuff that sucks up so much time and energy the rest of the week.  Wishing everyone a weekend that restores their spirits!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It's Art Show Time!

 An annual March event at our house now.  The Lucky Leprecaun Gallery is officially open for viewing!  We have been doing this for about 3 years now.  The kids love having all the work they deemed special and worth saving displayed in our dining room during the month of March.  This year their god parents and their Nana will be coming to a gallery showing where iced tea and cookies will also be served.
 I love the varietry of mediums the kids choose to use.  I love the art gallery because it reminds me that they are creative little sprites. They see the world with wonder and it is my job to remember that.  And celebrate it.  And worry a bit less about the socks mating under the couch.  LOL

 This years show features some acrylic paints, some cool collage work, some crayon pastels, some gel crayons . . . paint of the tempera and watercolor variety. . .
 and an art show first--a comic strip that KC and Rob did together.  They are both getting into graphic art these days.
And a final water color--blasting off for fun!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Fiona post-fashion show

Last night Jane called because Fiona was in the hospital.  She said that the team had noticed that there is a pattern of dysregultaion after family visits and had put systems in place to try and alleviate things.  Jane feels that there is nothing seriously wrong and hat unfortunately  the hospitalizations have become more or less "routine" for my daughter and she is requesting them when other interventions could work more effectively.  However becasue of Fiona's age, she needs to legally agree to taking an additional mood  stabalizer prn.  Her physician signed off on it and Jane thought that this would be of use when she was post visit.  That it would give her time to relax a bit and better be able to process the feelings that these inevitably engender.  Except that Fiona did not agree to the med.  As she is over 18 and technically, according to Jane, her own legal guardian she has to agree to the med.  While I am not a pro-medication person I do think trying the med instead of decompensating to the point of violence and hospitalization would be a better option--or at lease something to try.

I hate that part of me very irrationally feels responsible, knowing that my daughter is in the hospital because of her feelings from our visit.  The more rational part of me knows that these feelings are not really probably about us at all. They are more than likely all about first family members who continually let her down and who do not show up at family events even though we always do. I know that having visits is worth working through this, but I so wish it was easier for my daughter. And for me.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Beautiful Music!

Yesterday afternoon was Rob's piano recital.  He played two pieces, both written by the band Cold Play who he likes very much.  I am in awe of how calm and self assured he is at the piano.  He plays with great feeling and skill. (I know I am the mom but since I can only play chopsticks and that with help, you must excuse the gushing!)

I rarely hear him play unless it is a public venue.  At home he pracices with headphones on and all I hear is the click of the keys going up and down.  This also is probably part of why it is such a rush for me when I actually hear the music springing forth from his fingers and his soul.

 I tried to take a picture, but my camera is woefully unable to handle the dim lighting of the  church where the recital was held. I have lots of pics but they look totally black!

Today we head to the great school in the Big City for Fiona's fashion show.  I have to go to work early as I am leaving an hour early, so I had better sign off!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Not so Old

I colored my hair last night.  I have dithered about this for weeks.  I only colored my hair one other time and had a horrible allergic reaction to the dye.  However my hair is sort of a blah mousey color. Very dull and boring. K sells A*on and  they are going to start selling hair color.  She was entitled to a FREE sample as a salesperson.  So we picked a color that was kind of close to my natural color and got that.  Last night we did it. I think it looks good and it didn't bother my scalp so that was a huge plus.

This morning I asked the kids if they liked it.  (except for Chet who won't see the difference as he is color blind) The littles nodded obligingly. Rob said yup, cause I didn't look so old.  Geez!  LOL That is a ringing endorsement!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Snow Day!

 Santa brought new sleds for Yule this year.  Yesterday was the first day we had enough snow to try them out.  Very atypical for our corner of the world!
 Everyone had a blast!
. . . Even Blake who leaped skyward trying to catch snowflakes and snowballs!