Friday, May 31, 2013

Birthday Plans for Rob

Rob turns 17 on Sunday.  His girlfriend  has planned a surprise party for him and we hammered out the last of those details last night.  His family party will be Monday  night and my wife will go to work a bit later than usual.

Rob has chosen a Jamaican theme for his party this year. We are going to make a mural with the Jamaican flag above all of us on the beach.  It should be fun.  He wants us to pick the party stuff so we will continue the beach theme on the party goods.  KC said we will play my reggae music during the party and Rob said we will all drink his fave beverage which is Marleys Mellow Mood teas.

In the process of the planning KC turned to me and said "I can't believe my brother is turning 17"  I agreed,  I really know what he means.  Except that they he burst into tears because it means Rob is not far from leaving for college and KC is devastated about that.I pointed out that Rob was not leaving immediately, it was more than a year off.

KC quite rightly pointed out that this time will fly by.  (Thanks KC, the mom who is stressing over financials really needed that!) I pointed out that I have told KC he can have his own Facebook page when he is 10 and since Rob has Facebook they could chat anytime, anywhere.  His little body trembled against me and he whispered "do you think we could get a webcam for the computer? I will really need to see his face."  Sniff

Thursday, May 30, 2013


KC ran sobbing into the house last night  He and Lissa had been playing outside with the little boy from next door.  I asked what was wrong and he was sobbing so hard I could barely understand but eventually he hiccuped out that "ben was going to tell you I wasn't a good friend."  Apparently the little triad had a difference of opinion over what to play and things got a bit testy on all parts.  When Ben told KC he was going to tell me what was up, KC pushed Ben and then came running home in tears.

I know that the prevailing wisdom is that kids are supposed to work these things out on their own. I read article after article on how that is supposed to be so healthy.  I personally beg to differ.  Maybe for older kids it is. But for my younger kids, not so much. And the little guy next door has a disabled younger brother whose every response to a frustration is physical or with a scream.

I asked KC what he thought I would have said if Ben had just come to tell me that he was not being a good friend--especially if he had let that happen and kept his hands to himself.  He stopped and thought about it and said he guessed he didn't know.  I asked if he thought he would be in trouble for having a different opinion.  He agreed that he wouldn't.  He finally thought a little more and said he guessed I probably would have wanted to just have Ben talk with me and with him.  I agreed that was the case.

The rest of the conversation was mostly about how this is not a case of "tattling" but rather that we all need help figuring out the best choice from time to time.  Ben needs to know he can always ask for help and that I won't always agree with him but that we will always listen to his words. Because that is being a good friend. KC needs to remember that coming and looking for help is a better choice than anger and using hands.

I think mostly KC was mortified at the idea that he was being considered not a good friend.  He feels things keenly but he is also so emotional that he sometimes reacts without thinking something all the way through.  I wonder if there are any correlaries between the increase in our kids inability to handle situations appropriately and the "hands off let them figure it out" school of thought?  Just wondering. . .

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Fiona's Call

Despite the flurry of emails concerning Fi's issues at school lately, the call last night went very well.   She seemed to have positive and happy conversations with all the kids and then it was my turn.  We made some plans for the time she will be here on Saturday and then she told me that she had gotten a letter from Mom J.   She wanted to bring it out on Saturday and show it to me.  That in itself is huge.  To me, this means that Fiona recognizes that I am not trying to compete with or replace her first mom and that I am someone she can trust with all of who she is.

I told her I was so happy for her, which is true, and that I would love to see the letter if she wants to share it on Saturday. She also said she would like to show it to Rob but did not know if she should because it might "make him sad."  I said that I thought it would be fine to show it to Rob. That she was right.  Sometimes the things we talk about and that are part of our lives make us sad, but they are still part of who we are.  I said she was being a very good big sister making sure that her younger brother was ready for this but that I thought he was mature enough to handle it.

I did prime Rob afterwards.  I can tell that it is painful, though teen boys are all bravado and "it's fine" and "I don't care". But I also know that he is ready to deal with this is a way he was not years ago.  Though there was hurt in the back of his eyes when we talked after the call, there was not anger or fear.  That is a huge step for him.  My personal hypothesis (and be forewarned that I am just a parent speaking here) is that before the hurt can be dealt with, our kids who have dealt with trauma have those first two emotions of anger and fear to deal with.  Getting to hurt is actually a huge step toward healing, in my opinion.  I hope that together, we can help Fiona grow from anger and fear to hurt and healing too.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Fiona and a day visit

I got a flurry of emails last evening from Jane.  Fiona has had significant behavioral issues over the past 20 days--a total of 10 unsafe incidents.  An overnight seems inadvisable right now, but Jane an I both that when she acts out the most is also when she needs us the most. 

So this Saturday she will be coming out for a brief day visit--11:30 to 3.  I have to leave at 3 to take Rob to his best friends graduation party.  During her most recent unsafe episode Fiona expressed to staff the following which was then shared with me:

* She feels she is at the Great School because we thought she was going to hurt someone in our home.

* She feels that Rob does not want to talk with her on the phone and that he is growing apart from her

Jane forwarded that information to me, along with the information that she has also been reaching out to Mom J--Fiona and Rob's first mom.  Jane said she knows that doing this is always destabalizing but that her hope is that Mom J will be able to express support for Fiona moving closer to us and to Rob.

I am not upset by Fiona's statements.  As I wrote back in my post to Jane, there is truth to both statements. there is also misunderstanding due to her cognitive impairments and/or her trauma history.  In the short term, K and I really are the catalyst that would have started the ball for Fiona being where she is today.  We did think both she and others were unsafe in our home.  There is of course the fact that we were just the recipient of the trauma and emotional baggage from long before us, but I know that Fiona is not able to see that at this point--and maybe not ever. 

With regard to Rob, she is also partially right. Rob definately wants to speak with her each week and also loves her deeply. However he also has many experiences more typical of his teenaged years and I suspect that Fiona sees these things as him "growing away" from her.  And in some respects, he will.  He will grow up and go to college, have a job and hopefully the other aspects of adulthood.  Fiona, like Chet, will not.  She may have some of these aspects but within the frame work of supported living and with much more modified expectations. 

I spent some time with Rob after reading the email talking about what we can do to try and make sure that Fiona feels more secure in her place in the family and our love and commitment to her.  Hopefully Saturday will help as well.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The rest of the weekend in review! :-)

It wasn't just the weather that was odd this weekend--though that certainly ranked up there!  My wife got ill at work Saturday and has been abed ever since with some viral icky thing.  Body aches and malaise, headache and tummy troubles.  Not a fun way to spend a holiday weekend for her.

The kids did a tremendous job helping me navigate my way to Maine and back yesterday.  The car rang with laughter and silly word games but they were also eagle eyed and making sure I got us where we need to go.  I used to worry about my directionial challenges and I likely will again when my last child fledges, but for now, I just reach out and they help me.

We did not see snow here, but one of our favorite places in NH had a damaging snow fall yesterday so I was not kidding when I said the weather is quite wonky.

Today we were supposed to go to a museum.  Wife is still in no shape for such a thing and since that trip was her idea, I thought it rather  unkind to load up the kids and go on my own. Also I have a migraine from yesterdays 5 hours of driving so I really wanted to keep closer to home today.

The kids hatched a plan with our next door neighbors son to get a picnic planned at a nearby park. I am always up for that kind of activity. So we stopped to pick up some subs and went there. We were there almost 4 hours we were having so much fun. There is a small playground, but also trails for walking and a variety of wildlife was seen. Turtles basking in the sun, baby ducks (also knows as turtle food I am sure!) a water snake, bull frogs and a porcupine.  Our neighbors youngest son is autistic and I think it helps that the behaviors of autism are not unfamiliar to me. They don't put me off and likewise they do not bother my kids. Though the child they play most with is the older neighbor boy, they readily welcome his  younger brother into the mix when he is willing to play.

We came home and I had promised my kids a bike ride in the neighborhood. The little neighbor boy wanted to join us so I took him too.  Then it was time to cook supper and now I am staring down shower time and bidding farewell to a delightful holiday weekend!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Soggy Holiday Weekend Saturday

This was an odd Saturday for our J-E Team. Our Saturday routine is morphing into summer mode, yet the weather doesn't feel like summer and isn't a even a wee bit conducive to the kind of things I like to do in the summer.  No dance for the first week since September left us all a bit lost.  It takes up a chunk of our Saturday morning but it is also a huge social time and kind of how we built the rest of the Saturday activities schedule.  So at 8 a.m. I was still putzing around the house instead of unloading the groceries.  After seeing how busy the store was at 8:15 and the coffee shop at 9:15?  Well I'll get my little butt in gear on time next week!

We then did banking and the library and got the rest of my mom's birthday gifts.  It was cold and rainy today. I cleaned and cooked mostly.  Roasted root veggies for Lissa and I to snack on.  I usually only do this in the winter but we might get snow mixed in with our rain this weekend so it felt okay to be roasting winter squash and potatos! Made a soup to clean out the fridge, made a cake to bring up to mom. Made chocolate pudding for the kids and made a strawberry rhubarb pie for me.

That is pure selfish decadence, and a nod off to my childhood.  My grandfather used to love rhubard.  My mom would make him rhubarb sauce and a strawberry rhubarb pie every spring.  I love rhubarb the way he did and am the only living member of our family who does. So like I said, it was real self indulgent but oooooh soooooo good!

Then Miss Lissa told me that she desperately wanted to go to the movies and see the new movie Epic.  I explained that KC would be scared.  She said she knew that but that I could stay home with him and drop she and Rob off at the cinema and come back to get them when it was done.  My 6 year old.  The fact that she had such a coherant plan amazed me.  I asked Rob if he would do it and he agreed, bless that boy!  She had a wonderful time and KC stayed home with me.  The only thing I felt badly over was that Chet would have liked to have gone but watching him AND watching Lissa is too much to ask of one 16 year old fellow.  Chet can see it another time.

KC opted to help me make supper. I will have to upload pictures of him at some point cooking the veggie burgers and grinning like the Cheshire cat while he does it.  He is very excited to take on new cooking tasks and did really well with his spatula duties. Then he asked if he and I could watch a movie on demand together. I said fine and he chose the Sesame Street movie "Follow that Bird."  He loved it.  It is rather odd as he will read significantly above his age level but anything visual, he really looks for something rather young and very safe feelling. I wonder if it is because visual images are more "real" to our brains or something?

At any rate, Lissa had a great time and both littles are now abed.  Rob and i are watching hockey.  Think good thoughts for me tomorrow as I have to drive us to Maine alone since my wife came home from work ill tonight. She definately will not be in any shape to make the trek so I will do the driving.  I don't love that and I am pathetically directionally impaired, so if my next blog post comes from the mid west or something, know that I'm just taking a scenic tour back home!

Holiday Weekend Plans

I finally got ahold of the last campground where the kids and friends and I want to camp this summer. We are ON!  Now if summer will just arrive. The forecast even here in MA could incluse wet snow this weekend. Seriously?  I am so done with winter and this whacked out weather pattern.

So our Memorial Day weekend plans are more simple this year.  Today my wife works and we are eventually just doing our Saturday morning things sans dance. It is always odd the first few weeks that we don't have to go to the studio.

Tomorrow we will visit my mom and bring her birthday gifts and a cake to her.  Monday we are going to a museum to see a mixed media presentation. It looks intriguing and it is a museum I have never visited.

Last night I watched the new action movie "The Last Stand" while I did our piece work.  It was really kind of funny as Rob did not want to watch it with me. He finds Arnie "annoying so he watched a different movie on his own.  Kind of cracked me up.  So I watched it all by myself and loved it.  I have real B movie tastes so this is not neceessarily a ringing endorsement for those who are reading this. :-)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Thinking about health choices

I have been thinking a lot about Angelina Jolie's recent information regarding her preventative double mastectomy.  The response to her editorial regarding this has been surprising to me.  Here's what I expected:
"Wow. That was pretty extreme. I don't know if I would do that."  Here is what I heard:
"Now doctors will do more unnecessary surgeries and woman will be clamoring for them."

First of all, I know of a number of people who have had hysterectomies preventatively.  There were indications that there could be something significant awry and it was deemed safer for the woman's overall health, to simply remove the organs in question.  No one that I knew thought anything negative about their choice to do this.  Everyone thought it was better to remove immediately than "wait and see."

So why is Jolie's case so different?  I would suggest that it is because breasts define our womanhood in society.  They shout out to the world our femininity and one of our roles, that of nurturing children. To be sure, not all women conceive, not all women breast feed, but culturally it is still a part of who we are.

A dear friend of mine had  a post on Facebook recently that said something about migraine sufferers would not cut off their heads, why should women cut off their breasts.  I respect his right to post that; his wife is a breast cancer survivor.  And a bit of me agrees with his theory.  I am personally much more in the camp of healthy eating, healthy living, and a much more Eastern philosophy of mind/body health is my personal path.  Though as a chronic migraine sufferer, part of me wanted to tell him there are lots of times when I wanted to cut my head off! LOL

However, here is what is important.  What to do about a genetic predisposition to cancer should be each individual's choice.  I have another friend whose family has been devastated by breast cancer. It is clearly a genetic issue. Mom , cousin, and sister all with the same devastating cancer.  If there is a way to prevent that, and I  had watched three members of my family pass away from it, I think I would want to consider this more radical solution.

What is good about the Angelina Jolie issue is that a stunning, successful young woman has made a difficult choice and been willing to share her rationale with the world.  Her partner has also spoken out in a supportive and loving manner about  her decision.  That is a healthy role model for all of us.  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Cemetary Planting

One of my all time fav pics of my daughter and my best friend took it for free!  Moral of story, no "official" pictures of the princess next year.  She does great with people she knows and a more non traditional setting. We planted out at the cemetary tonight.  I tend my grandparents stone, my mother in laws stone, and my great grandparents.

It was interesting to me as last year Rob was very resistant to visiting the cemetary.  He "hated" such places as he put it.  I said that was fine, he did not have to come. And I did not force it. Death is a tough thing and I think that Rob was at the age when he started to realize that K and I are mortal and this was freaking him out.  He did not want to talk about why he felt that way, so I just let him stay home anytime we went.   This year, he is apparently over that and offered to come with the littles and I.  He and KC planted the back of the stones and Lissa and I did the front. We all took turns watering things in. It was very hot out and things will shock quickly planted in the heat.

Doing this task gives my kids a sense of their family history.  Each year, while we plant there is conversation about who is at what grave.  KC always points out that his first name is my grandfathers and his middle name iis my FIL's (he is still alive but his name is engraved on the stone where his wife is buried)  I share a story about the people that is typically funny and age appropriate. We watch wildlife while we tend as well.  It was a semi-quiet peaceful interlude.  As we left, a middle aged gentleman was watering several stones with a hose.  He was going right down the row where my MIL's stone is.  I told him if he wanted to give our new flowers an extra drink that would be wonderful. He gave a broad smile and immediately started watering them.

I have not yet decided if I will have a grave when my time to leave this earth comes.  I go back and forth on it. I don't want my kids to feel that they have an obligation to tend a spot where nothing but my ashes remain.  On the other hand, nights like this also seem to show that there is a benefit to the tending, the connecting and the remembering.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dancing Days

Day one of recital is over.  I am tired as I worked back stage today. Parents cooperatively work helping get the kids dressed and where they need to be. We provide snacks and crafts. I have done this both days of recital in years past. This year, KC has informed me that I can enjoy the show and tomorrow I plan to.  Getting him changed for 3 numbers and riding herd on countless other kids--making sure Lissa didn't lose any of the pieces of her costume--it was a full day.

It was a joyful day though.  Rob came and cheered on the younger siblings. I love that about him.  He does not love dance but he loves his family.  My mom came down from Maine to watch and loved the show.  My mom is a former dancer and had her own studio.  Her liking things is the cherry on top!

And the kids had a BLAST. That was the best of all.  They have so many friends there.  Lissa danced well, though somberly.  I am trying not to stress about the fact that she will not smile in public and remember that Rob who takes amazing pictures now, smiled rarely in public venues when he was that age.  KC danced all three numbers very well, it was hard to pick a favorite as I liked them all for different reasons.  His musicality and his love of dance shine through.  It is a surprising gift from the goddess that this child who is not genetically of my lineage shares the passion for dance that has long been in my biological family.  Truthfully I think he is more passionate about his dance than I was.

So now, it is time to have a restorative cup of tea, sort out the costumes and make the bags ready for tomorrow and try and relax a bit.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Paying it forward

I found out today that I will be getting a small bonus from my employer.  Our particular site did not have a robust fiscal year, so this was a pleasant surprise. It was also very kind as the reason for the lack of fiscal health is truly beyond the control of the site staff.  So it was purely recognition for the hard work we have put in under some difficult circumstances.

I could use this money, obviously.  I have to pay a plumber who fixed our bad (actually nearly non existant wax seal on our downstairs bathroom.)  I have a son who needs a check for camp next week.  It is a fairly endless list when you have 6 people living together..  Yet this is found money.  I had no idea this was a possibility and I think good surprises should be shared.  So I noodled around on Kiva and have made a loan with 50 per cent of my bonus.  Actually a bit over 50 per cent as they had a free trial thing running. So I did that one first and donated $25.00 of someone elses money to a woman who is repairing her home in Nicaragua.  She wants a safe and secure home when she and her husband finally have children.  I work in housing and believe that everyone should have a safe and secure home.  Then I looked around the site some more and saw someone in El Salvador who was trying to expand her small fruit and vegetable shop. She has been in business 10 years and has been doing well but needs a modest (very modest by U.S. standards) influx of cash to make this happen.  I made a loan with half my bonus to her.

While I realize that this may be a "donation" and not a loan  (repayment rates are pretty high, but the possibility of a default always exists)  I really like the Kiva concept.  A fairly small amount of money can have  a really significant impact in someone's quality of life. I like thinking about someone getting  a new roof on their house, or more food to sell in their small market.  I like the idea that we can work together to make that happen even though we are so very far away geographically. I like giving a hand up as opposed to a hand out.  Go Kiva!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Family Picture 2013

The official family photo arrived in the mail this weekend!  Lifetouch did such an amazing job.  This is the picture that will be in our church photo directory and which is now hanging on the wall in our work room.  I LOVE it.  I only take "meh" pictures.  I look pretty good if you catch a candid of me with a ball cap on, messing around with the kids.  When I try to gussy up, I always feel like I fall a bit short of the mark. That may be because my wife (the red head) is so darn pretty!  But regardless of that inner little war with self esteem, I adore this picture.  All of us together, all looking happy--except for Lissa.   She looks better in the shot below; it took her quite a while to "warm up" in the photo shoot and the group shot was the first picture taken.  Well they took about 40 (or at least it felt like it) pictures of us all together, but it wasn't till the end when the photographer snapped this one of just Lissa and Fiona together that shes was really relaxing and looking more like the wee imp that she is. I told her not to worry about looking serious in the group shot and said that long ago people were all supposed to look serious in their pictures. No laughing was allowed. That amazed her!  I also have a shot of just the boys together which came out great but I can't make the photo flash go off on my camera so it keeps making Chet's face disappear in a glare!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mothers Day and More

In not your typical Mothers Day fashion, we are celebrating for my wife tomorrow.  She wound up getting out of work a bit earlier than expected today,but Rob is working and then off to Youth Group, so our original plan is still being followed with a fancy early breakfast for her tomorrow.  (her favorite Pioneer Woman style scones)

Mothers Day is not really "my" celebration day. We have a separate day for me. But I have greatly enjoyed this day with the kids.  The littles and i had our first family bike ride.  I remember having bike rides with my mom when I was growing up. It was a big deal to go riding with her and they are good memories.  It is fun to pass along that enjoyment to my kids.  The little boy that my kids play with who lives next door brought me a house he made for Sponge Bob made out of a cardboard box and bedecked with glitter paint.  He practically lives at our house, playing in the yard with our kids more days than not.  He has a brother with some special needs and I think craves the extra bits of attention he gets here.  At any rate, it was sweet and now, though I have never watched sponge bob in my life, he has a home here!  LOL

This was also Coming of Age Sunday at our church.  I love how our church both helps and honors the fact that the youth are leaving "childhood" behind and entering into a different relationship with the church, their families and the wider world.  Even though this year I don't have someone in the COA program, I still got all weepy listening to them share their belief statements.  One boy, also an adoptee said simply "I believe in second chances."  This is a profoundly  honest and deep statement from this young man who has come so far, journeying from frightened and angry to a much more centered and purposeful place..  I know him and a bit of his story.  And I believe in second chances too. I also believe in the power of having a community of truly caring and committed adults surrounding you.  We live in a world with so many choices, and not all good ones.  Our world feels uncertain, and at times unsafe. The circle of community that we create helps all of us with that.  As much as our youth need it, we adults need it too.  It is a synergy basic to human nature.

I wish for  all  of us to have caring circles to enfold  and strengthen ,communities that inspire us to lift others up when they need our strength. It is the best of who we are.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Prom Clothes

In addition to a myriad other things that fall on this weekend, it is Prom at my Rob's gf's school.  Here he is, all spiffed up and ready to head out the door.  He and T picked out the shirt and tie together on a shopping trip, there are new dress shoes (his first since he became a teen) on his feet.  He looks so much the young man and not a kid.

I don't have to stress about clothing much with Rob.  He has an innate sense to see what it appropriate to a situation.  The skinny jeans and skater duds that he wears day to day are conspicuously absent from his attire tonight.  He decided on his own that "dress sneakers" as he puts it, were not sufficient to the occasion.  There are no furry fox tails hanging from his pockets or chains dangling.  Yes, I see those in his various day to day looks.  My wife wonders why I ignore them.  It is because of this.  That outfit is his choice. I didn't muscle him into something appropriate.  I didn't  threaten or cajole. All teens experiment with expressing themselves through their clothing.  As long as he knows where and when it is okay to push those boundaries, i am okay with him doing it.

He brought roses and a corsage for his date.  He has a matching boutenierre for himself. It isn't on in this shot as they wanted to pin them on each other.  I told him to have fun, that he was always cool but to remember to be classy too.  This too is something that he is good about learning.  The times when it is okay--even necessary--to talk "street"  The times when he should not.  He grinned as he left the car.  He knew what I meant.

Friday, May 10, 2013

It's Park Time At Last!

The seasons are out of whack this year. We had winter for what felt like forever and now we have summer.  I don't mind as I adore the heat, but it is odd to have near 80 degree temps in the early part of May.  It meant that after supper we decamped to the park for a fun night of play.  The measure of my kids growth is in park experiences and the modes of transportation used to get to the park.  There were rebozo  years where one or the other of the littles were tied on me and the other was holding my hand.  There were the wagon years, where I pulled both of them in the wagon with a plethora of toys.  Last year was the scooter year where both of them could manage that but not a bike.  This year--no training wheels--and the two of them fly up the block to the park with me trotting behind. (I seriously need to get my own bike out!)

But aside from measuring my family growth in park years, I love the free flowing nature of play there.  I also love that my children are far from being socially stunted by their homeschooling.  Tonight I watched as they welcomed a 14 year old diifferently abled young man into their play.  Our games (tonights was kickball) are always pretty free flowing. The rules change as the game evolves and I think that is good.  Everyone has a say in how that happens, but it is good to be adaptable. And that also made it easy to welcome the new friend into the game.  His mother watched and looked a bit surprised. She said he typically plays with a couple of 3rd graders in the neighborhood but that they "get sick of him."  When we left, my kids thanked him for playing with them and his face lit  up.  I think the best thing for me was that I don't think my kids thought anything about it.  It was just playing with another kid.  And that is what I want for them. To see to the essence of people and have relationships that have that purity  to them.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Fiona and more

Fiona called tonight.  It was a good call in most respects.  She had an incident at school on May 2nd and will need 3 weeks of safe behavior from that point for an overnight. That is reasonable and appropriate.  Like many kids I read about, she has not got a real ability to see her role in a confrontation.  She felt she was "disrespected" because a staff member had an angry look on their face.  So to her way of thinking, knocking things off a table, leaving the cool down room etc were all warranted.  I get that this is her cognitive deficits and her mental health talking.  But I feel sorry for her as I do fear that her life will be a hamster wheel of these kind of situations.

On the possibly plus side, she has a good friend at the Great School and she and R would like to visit each others families. R has been something of a positive role model for Fiona.  She would go to R's house first for a couple of hours and then R would come here to spend a few hours when Fiona next visits.  I don't mind this at all. I have met R and also staff will stay present while this happens. An extra kid or two to me is not a big deal--while I would not want to have R over night, a few hours of an afternoon is not a big deal.  I am less sure that K will see things that way but we will see.  At this point, I don't even know that R's parents are on board with the whole thing.  Going to a friends house is a natural part of being a kid and though this is very delayed for Fiona (and possibly also for R) I think it is an experience they should have and I am hoping that I can help my wife to see that as well.

I also had picked up Fiona's dress from being altered at the tailoring shop so I told her that was here waiting for her next visit.  She told me she wore her Nike high heels that she got for Christmas today and seemed very happy about that.

After the call, the kids and I wrapped K's Mothers Day gifts and the gifts we got to send up to Nana (my mom) I'll mail those out tomorrow and hopefully they will arrive in time!  K's gifts are really cute and well thought out. Starbucks gift card, pretty painted garden tools, a moon prism, a scarf, a scarf storage gizmo shaped like a butterfly and a necklace.  We won't do her celebration till Monday because she has mandatory OT on Sunday but we will get up early before work the next day and surprise her!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Keeping our Humanity

There is a lot in the news lately about where the bomber that attacked the Boston Marathon will be buried.  One city has come out and said they hope the family does not ask as they will deny the request.  I am conflicted by this. The city in question was his home for 10 years. I agree that he caused great harm, harm that will linger in  bodies who will take years to heal. Many  will not be the same again.  He caused harm in lost revenues for businesses when the city had to essentially close down.  He harmed psyches  bringing fear to an event that has always been one of joy.

But he too was someones son, someones nephew, someone's husband.  For all he was, someone loved him and someone misses him. To deny a family a place for burial will mean that we lost more on Marathon Monday this year.  It means we lost our sense of humanity.

Sunday, May 5, 2013


I have been thinking lately on the relationships between parents and kids.  I somewhat obsessively check in on my own relationship with my kids.  I don't want to become distant, or self absorbed, or find myself trying to mold them into my vision of what they would/should/could be.

I am lucky as I learned to let go of the molding thing with Chet.  This is a gift from my differently abled child who could not be like neurotypical kids.  There was grief for me. A lot of it. Some of my grief was for me the parent. For the things we could not help him to experience. For the opportunities and milestones that he would miss.  For the things we could not even do together as a family because it overwhelmed him.

Some of my grief was for him.  He was and is aware enough to know what he was missing.  He knows he never went to prom. He knows he can not drive a car.  He knows that he has been unable to maintain a job. I have learned to  point his strengths out to him when he is down on himself.  To remind him of his cheerfulness to all, to remind him that his helpful nature is noticed and that he is loved.

And that has taught me to let go of my grief and my expectations and to focus on the positive more.  There are many challenging times, don't get me wrong.  It is particularly challenging that there is never an issue that is "solved"  If it is a non NT behavior response it will return.  You can count on it.  Parenting Chet is sometimes like that movie Groundhog Day.  Lots of do-overs whether you want them or not.

But that has taught me something else. To enjoy other people's  kids the same way.  I have friends right now who are struggling because they have a set of expectations for one of their children that the child can not achieve.  The child's apparent unwillingness is I think not something the child can control. There is a deeper issue there and I see in the child, many aspects of my Chet.  But you don't walk up to someone and say "gee I think your kid is on the spectrum." I would have clocked anyone who did that to me!

So I just said how much we enjoy their child's presence in our home (true) and that they are welcome here anytime.  The parents said they might take us up on that as there are "more bad days than good lately".  My house is different, with a structure born of different  cognitive processing being front and center in our lives. If this works for them, and gives a chance to breathe and re-group, I am happy to do that.

May the force be with you!

My living room is ringing with the Star Wars music as 4 kids of varying ages (including one who is not mine) wage a mock battle. It is too funny.  It is loud and really silly and although I check periodically to make sure the fun doesn't evolve to ER room status, it is all good.

Thankfully, my wife has left for work. I think this epic intergalactic battle at 8:15 a.m. on Sunday morning might be more than she would be up for!  LOL

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The run for the Roses is today.  This has the importance of a national holiday in our house.  After all, my first career goal was to be a winning female jockey in the Kentucky Derby!  while my vocation may have changed, my passion for the Triple Crown races in general and the Derby in specific have not waned.  We all get together and watch the race, trying to pick the horse that will win, doing our versions of Vegas handicapping.

We drink "mint juleps' which are really glasses of green Hawaiian punch.  We sometimes have a cake or a pie--this year it is a "bluegrass pie" which is really blue raspberry mousse pie.  And we make silly hats.  This is the 2013 crop of headwear, in its varied and amazing glory!  We even made one for my wife who is unlikely to be home in time to join us (hence the commerative hat) and one for Rob's friend who, poor boy is not going to know what hit him!
 I adore paisley--can you tell?
 I love the mixed media art they developed!  Let the race begin!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Gimme a Boot!

Yup, K has a fracture. The good news is apparently no surgical intervention is required.  This was a concern of hers as she has had multiple traumatic incidents to the same ankle.  She is in a boot for 4 wks and then will be seen again.  She can walk on it in the boot and drive on it and do her work.  She is happy and relieved.
We are not folks who are used to not working and the idea both financially and emotionally of not working is scary to us!

The diagnosis and solution leave me free to have my usual Saturday chaos. Rob's friend D wants to celebrate his birthday here so that is tomorrow. Home made chocolate cake with chocolate frosting  will be served.  I am sure it is good. It is always inhaled by all who eat it.  I am allergic and do not partake.  It is also Derby Day and I told D he must participate in our Derby tradition which is silly hats.We decorate them and take our pictures and wear them with pride and no small amount of giggles while we watch the Kentucky Derby.  After that, I told D that he and Rob are free to watch whatever they want and/or I would chauffer them to where they need to be.  They have decided to watch the new Ironman flick together.
Sunday I will get everyone to church and also will be teaching a class and running a fellowship hour.  I love kicking back and relaxing.  LOL


My phone rang at work yesterday afternoon and it was my wife. She had fallen while watering a plant in our kitchen.  K has had multiple ankle issues with her right ankle and it has always been prone to rolling no matter what.  Several prior breaks and tendon damage are the reason why. Apparently she had stepped off the bench she was standing on to water the plant and the ankle rolled.  She fell into our stove which caused a huge crash, and which moved slightly into the standup freezer next to it. That moved a bit and banged the kitchen fire extinguisher causing it to discharge. Let it never be said that she does things half way, right?

Rob was initially transfixed in the panic of the moment. Chet came flying downstiars and was ready to call 9-1-1 but K was all ready talking to me.  I made arrangements to get right home. By the time i got here she had managed to get up with Rob's help and was sitting in our work room icing a very swollen purple foot.  Our insurance will charge us a small fortune if we make an ER visit so she called our primary and if he ordered the x-rays at ER we are not charged as much.  However you also don't get as prompt a treatment as that is exactly what you get. x-rays.  No crutches, no nothing.  And the radiologist had gone home for the day so we don't even know the actual verdict.

K is pretty sure she has a butterfly fracture.  I am inclined to go with her hypothesis as she has certainly had enough ankle breaks to have a sense of what is wrong. Hopefully today someone will read the x-ray and she will get casted or booted so she is more safely mobile.  We don't have crutches lying around so i found a sturdy short pole that used to go in a closet and she has been using that for some added stability.

She is stressed as all her jobs require mobility and none of them pay you any sick time.  The injury also makes it unlikely she will be able to go to NYC in 5 weeks with our church youth group as there is a ton of walking involved in that.  Even if this is only a bad sprain, we know from past experience she would not be up for the intensity of walking that is involved in that trip. She was really devastated as she loves this annual trip and it is something that she and Rob do together and enjoy greatly.  Sigh.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Fiona's big night!

Last night was the school extravaganza for Fiona.  I took a few personal hours from work so that we could leave early enough to get to the Great School and follow Amazing Jane to the college where the event was held.  Last year we got to tour the Great City far more than we would have liked to trying to find the college on our own.

A former governor of our state was there and spoke briefly.  I did not realize until last night that the Great School is the only one of its kind in our entire state.  One school only devoted entirely to people who have traumatic brain injury, or whose brains operate as though they had experienced brain trauma.  (In Fiona's case there is no documentation of brain injury but her abilities, symptoms and behaviors are consistant with those who have)

This gala is also a fund raiser for the school and there were raffles and games to buy before the performance started.  My wife did a "wine pull."  For $20.00 you pick a wrapped bottle of wine and its value will be anywhere from $10 to $200  She got some wine I have never heard of and it looks like it is worth more than $10 and less than $200.  KC had his fortune told which he absolutely loved. The rest of us contented ourselves with some hor d'oeurves and hanging outside on the college grounds, soaking in the warm sun and the refreshing breeze.

While we were out there, KC spied Rob and Fi's cousin N arriving with her daughter C and another relative Z.  Rob is always happy to see them, but KC is too as he and C are about the same age and have become good friends.  Cousin N and I are Facebook friends and social media has helped our connections to become stronger and more easy going.

It is easier to talk when we have that face to face meeting because we each know a bit of what is going on in the other persons life. So instead of using that generic conversation starter, I could ask how her vacation was and what they did etc.It is likewise for her and we gabbed and gabbed till it was time to go in and the show was ready to start.  My wife is more shy --well, a LOT more shy -- than I am and does not like gatherings.  She wisely brought her Kindle and sat in the sun reading a good book during all of this.

The show is always amazing.  The kids all get to really shine in a wide variety of ways. There are short comedy skits, songs, dances, some instrument playing.  Almost you name it.  The school pulls in professionals that work with the kids.  A local comedian helps with the skits and performs them with the kids who do that for example, and there is a dance coach and a singing coach.  As well as the able and enthusiastic school staff who sang back up with abandon!  There is also a magician and my kids loved that. Rob likes watching magic shows and figuring them out.  The littles were just caught up in the amazement of it.

It was over about 8:30 but then we needed to connect with Fiona and there were family pics of all of us together before we walked back to the parking garage.  You pay before you go out and while we standing in line to pay our parking fee, the magician and his bunny got in line behind us.  More excitement!

It was a very late night though with us arriving back at our house after 10 p.m.  So there are tired children still asleep as I write this at 6:30 a.m.  But I am so glad we went, and I am so grateful that the Great School exists and provides the opportunities that it does.

I know it is controversial to say this, but not all kids thrive in an inclusion  school model.  I look at the kids last night, performing and cheering each other on and wish that my Chet had been able to have that type of an experience.  His public school performing events were disasters because he got so overwhelmed and overstimulated and thus acted even more outside the "norm."  Although intellectually this school would not have met his needs, the public school model could not either.  It is not that I am against inclusion and I really believe great care must be used so that we are not just shunting kids out of a traditional setting to make things "easier". But we need to have places where they are just who they are and that is not just okay, it is great.  I don't know what the answer is, but I hope someone smarter than me is out there with great plans for other Great Schools in lots of cities!