Saturday, June 29, 2013

Fiona is here!

Fiona arrived yesterday.  I was excited to have her here and also excited that for this visit, my wife was spending most of the day with us.  Usually, because of her schedule, she only sees her for a short time at night.  I am hoping that the fact that she could see how easily Fi and the kids interact will help K to heal a bit and not be stuck in a mode of anxiety.

We had planned to visit an outdoor museum where the kids could see and experience how folks lived long ago. Unfortunately the weather chose not to cooperate with lots and LOTS of rain.  So we found a plan B which was going to a butterfly place that was not too far off.  First I had to make a bunch of calls and emails to the staff supervisor though as they had not send Fiona's meds with her.  The person who usually gets her meds together is on vacatiaon and somehow this slipped through the cracks.  They were very good about the mess up and agreed to meet us at the butterfly place so that the kids would be able to have the experience and they did.

Fiona took the picture above, and several others with my camera. She was very patient and quiet, managing to get far closer to the butterflies than I did.  I love this shot.  Each of the kids had a turn with the camera and she got some really cute shots.

Lissa did not adore the place.  Millions of butterflies flitting around and occasionally landing on her made her uneasy so she probably enjoyed it the least of all of us.  But she still got something out of it and enjoyed watching the koi fish and the little quail that were also there.

Before we went through the butterfly habitat we had a picnic outside as it had stopped raining briefly.  That was fun too.  To me there is something about sharing food together that is intregal to healthy relationships.

When we got home it was time for my wife to go to her job and the kids all played with our neighbor boy.  Fi helped me make supper--she had requested spaghetti--and then in the evening they watched a movie.  It was a great day. She has to leave by 11 today as then I have to drive to Maine to bring Rob to his week of camp.  At the moment it is semi sunny outside, so I am hoping for good weather for his arrival and for our trip to get him there.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Not going to the Art Bar

I like to support local businesses. And I love creative endeavors. So it should be a shoe in that I would support a local art bar. The idea behind it is that adults take a  painting class, there is a dessert served and the participants bring their own alcoholic beverage if they wish. The art bar has also begun to offer kids classes and I have kids who love to use this medium.  So why aren't we there?

Because in the classes you all paint the same thing.  Exactly. The. Same. Thing.  I have seen the results. It is like Stepford Art. I am not an uber talented person in the arts arena, but I firmly believe that art and the way we express ourselves through art is highly individualized.  The techniques can be the same, but the colors, the scene, those should be different. They should be from the artists perspective and from their own muse and passion.

So, I'm sorry. We are passing on the art bar experience.  But feel free to stop by to doodle at my house any time you wish!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Fiona comes on Friday!

I put in to take Friday off many weeks ago so that Fiona would be able to visit here before Rob goes away to camp.  At the time, she was only eligible for a day visit but has since met the guidelines for an overnight. Woo hoo!  We are going to go to a local history museum where you see how people lived, worked, and played long ago.  It is a good venue, appropriate for all ages and abilities. And best of all, while this would normally break the bank on a family my size, they are doing a special on Friday of $5.00 admissions!

Jane also had emailed me when I returned from California and wanted to know if I would reduce the time Fiona spends being safe to 2 weeks and when and if K and I would consider double overnights. (staying the whole weekend.)

Personally, I have no problem with the reduction in safety things.  I actually think that unless she is actively in a cycle of violence that family should see family and there is no "earning."  Fiona still has no real sense of time so it is sort of wonky to do it this way.

However Jane said in her email that the staff think that all Fiona's behaviors are "institutionalized" and that was why they felt a weekend visit was okay.  Well, that becomes a bit of a problem.  Fiona was removed from our home due to the same violent and aggressive behaviors that she still has.  She likely, in my mind, will always have them.  They are a cocktail of mental illness, trauma, and cognitive delays that are very hard for my duaghter and the medical community to manage.  Fiona had not been institutionalized before our removal, except for one very short emergency hospital stay.  My wife and my oldest son still have strong memories and fears of those days leading up to and including her removal.

Added to the safety component is the fact that the kids are busy folk.  I am good at shuffling around our schedules to make a day visit and/or an overnight happen.  But I want her time here to be enjoyable. Not a 3 ring circus, but more than coming out and watching me shuffle the kids from their various activities.  All that would do is reinforce all that she missed.  I am not going to short change my kids either--one of the bad things that happened when we were in the first two years of our life with Rob and Fiona was that the agency still had a lot of say and power. They mandated that Rob be taken to every residential visit, no matter that it was far away from us.  Soimetimes we would get all the way there and Fi would not be willing to even see us. Rob  missed ball games, play dates and parties for those situations, and  tension resulted. It caused an additional barrier between he and Fiona for a long time as he was angry over what he missed and also feflt guilty about feeling that way. I know the agency was looking at keeping the family connection but they failed to see the big picture.

So I proposed an alternative:  one day visit a month AND one other overnight visit a month. To me the most important thing is a strong sense of connection and family for Fiona and less about consecutive overnights. This would essentially mean she is here every other week for some period of time.  The staff all agreed that this was a good plan and for now, that is how we will proceed.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DOMA is done

I have been richly blessed in life. I have a spouse that I adore, children that I adore, and a job to provide for us.  However like many gays I have had my marriage recognized ony in a handful of states. 

Our relationship has been unrecognized at the federal level, meaning that should I predecease my wife she would not be eligible to the higher spousal social security benefits that could come to a hetero survivor.  Tax season has been a huge nightmare because I have to file so complexly.  (single head of households on 2 federal forms, married filing jointly on our state form.) In the larger sense in society, despite our state recognition of our commitment, we have been "less than."  I even pay a special tax on my health insurance at present because of the fact that at a federal level our marriage was not recognized.

Today, that difference was obliterated. I am nearly speechless with joy.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Good to go away. . better to be back!

I am still mulling over the results of my cross country business adventure.  I realize that I am totally weird and that most people hire babysitters, and travel for a variety of reasons with out their children or spouse.  I haven't.  With Chet, a babysitter just wasn't an option. We tried it several times and it was never a success.  Even when he was a mid teen it ended badly.  The disconnect between Chet's abilities and his disabilities is so complex that even our extended family have a hard time understanding what is safe for him and what will be dangerous.  Try to help someone understand that he can go to the corner store to buy milk, but not walk down town alone.  He can empty the dehumidifier but not clip his fingernails.  It is tough to explain to folks who don't live it.

But I am rambling a bit.  What was interesting to me for this trip was that I could gauge the level of connections that I had with each of the kids.  My quietest teen texted me often--just short snippets or comments but it was clearly a need to connect.  He wanted to know I was out there, still ready to hear what he had to say. And he talked on the phone with me twice a day.

The littles, well they are still in recovery from my absence.  They handled things well while I was gone. They chattered when we talked on the phone, they eagerly read the notes that I had left them.  But since I returned home, they have been what we call "cling-ons."  Not the Star Trek variety with the scary foreheads. The don't move without looking for a small person under foot variety.  My cling-ons have found their way into my bed every single night since I returned home.  I am ignoring this and operating on the assumption that at some point in the near future they will again feel confident that I will be physically here for the long haul.

And Chet?  I am not sure he noticed I was gone.  As long as the sphere of his world operates in its predictable pattern, he is not overly concerned with those he lives with. He cares passionately about some things, but they tend to be "big picture" things.  The intimacy of familial love is sort of a mine field for the autistic.

Rob has a job!

Rob was offered an opportunity to interview for a 6 week paid internship.  The organization works with disadvantaged youth that either have left foster care or have faced other tough stuff, including brushes with the law in their life.  He will work in the office and also may do some life skills work, teaching some basic cooking stuff.

I am thrilled for him.  One thing I admire about Rob is that more often than not, he is willing to step out and try something new.  Jobs are hard to find in our area, even the local supermarkets are not hiring at the moment.  And frankly this job, will offer a chance for him to develop a wider range of skills than collecting buggies for a store would.

It also meant that he had a telephone interview which is another skill.  Rob had to practice speaking up as he is soft spoken and we were afraid that he would mumble and come off as uninterested or unenthusiastic.

However in the yin and yang of life there are always positves and negatives.  Rob does not yet have a license and the job is in the city we go to church in which is about 20 minutes from our home. Ah the joys of transportation.  My wife will take him in the morning and I am speaking with my boss today about adjusting my lunch schedule so that I could leave at 3 p.m. for the days he is there (it is also only 3 days a week) so that I can be home with the younger kids when K has to leave for work. Then at 4 the kids and i will go to get Rob. At least I hope that is how it will work!

Monday, June 24, 2013


I am still slightly jet lagged, or maybe just sleep deprived.  Last night I did not get to bed till after 11 p.m. as we were watching the Stanley Cup playoffs.  I think the Bruins were playing with about as much energy as I had--what's up with that guys????

I slept till quarter of 7 this morning which is pretty late for me and my tribe. The littles did not waken till then either. Then it was up, breakfasting and off to the grocery store. We have been lucky to have a friend of my wife's staying with us for a short  visit. I have enjoyed that--despite being tired, I love meeting people and hearing their stories and sharing mine.

On the way back from shopping we made our annual welcome summer purchase.  A quartet of super soakers.  I require that they not be strong enough to put out an eye and they can not look too much like a real weapon but other than that, they can choose what strikes their fancy.  There is always much debate over the "best" style, comparisons of soakers used in prior years, what broke too quickly, what didn't hold enough water etc.  It is quite the event!  Chet does not like to use them and gets over stimulated so the other soaker was really for our little neighbor boy who plays here most days.  I checked with his mom and she was fine; I just thought it unfair to "arm" the other kids and leave him defenseless! LOL  As soon as we got home there was gleeful, wet play and much running around for over an hour.  KC developed a shield from a trash can lid and then had to decide if it was truly helpful or not as he could not return fire, although he could conceal himself.  Hmmm, to hide or to face the world?  Interesting to see the question we all face in so many different manners in our life played out so obviously.  I am pleased to say he decided it was better to put down the shield and be fleet of foot and join the melee!

Later in the day we were invited to go up the street to another friends house to play on her water slide.  It was fun to catch up with L, who is one of my dear friends and with whom we will camp later this summer. Then it was home to dry off and change up.  Rob had a piano recital this afternoon and we were not going to miss that.

Well, actually KC would have been fine with missing it but I am adament that we not.  When he whined "but why?" I said that we are family and this is what family does.  They are there for each other, cheering on and facing the good times and the bad times together. And thankfully, with that stern reminder, his attitude re-calibrated and we all sat and watched the recital with no drama.  Rob played Mumford and Sons "The Cave" accompanied by his instructor and his jazz band.  He played another selection too which escapes me at the moment--please remember said jet lag!--and this was beautiful also.  His girlfriend came up to our city to hear the recital and came back to the house afterwards.  She hung out with us and even played with the super soakers with Rob and the kids.  Then I gave everyone a cool drink and it was soon time for her to head out.

I am thinking that the kids will be glad that Monday things are truly "back to normal" with me heading out to work and their days returning to their regularly scheduled programming! :-)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Home Again Home Again!

I returned at 7 a.m. this morning after leaving San Diego at 10:15 or so last night.  That means I have not been to bed in waay too long. I got up at 4:45 a.m. on Friday and have not really slept since. I cat napped a bit on the plane but I could not prop myself in a way that kept my neck from cricking.  So it was fitful at best and I spent most of the flight watching bad late night TV

I loved the trip though.  Seeing a new city and exploring it (mostly on foot) was incredibly fun.  San Diego is a friendly place for people who are active. I walked nearly an hour each morning after calling home. (I woke early every day so I figured why not use the time!) And there were these giant stairs near our hotel.  A lot of us, myself included, incorporated stair running into our routines as well. I had fun with all  that. I actually really love to work out and have had a hard time finding ways to carve out time for myself.  For these few days, I really only had myself to worry about and that was kind of fun.

I got to know my co-workers in a new and deeper way as I intentionally sought out times with each one of them one on one..  I liked that and think that will help me in my job at least as much as some of the good educational offerings that I was able to avail myself of.  There were parties and I found that I was comfortable saying yes to some and no to others.  I did not join the night owls in drinking in the lounge, and everyone seemed OK with that choice.

I found a balance between fun and learning, as I took in some sight seeing and a harbor cruise as well as the classes and the fitness times.  Days were full, nights were long, but it was fun.  And San Diego itself is just flat out amazing.  I adored everything about what I saw of this city. The climate, the sea breeze, the topography, the beautiful bay with the amazing boats--I. Loved.It.All.

Tonight, I am exhausted and don't know when I will actually get to bed. We have company for the weekend, the Bruins are playing and the kids want and deserve extra portions of my time.  I am going to make some coffee to stay awake better!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Fathers Day

This is always an odd holiday for me.  I am not close to my "real" dad.  He moved away when  I was a very young adult and didn't bother to give me a forwarding address.  He is close to my sister; if I wanted to know how he was, I could ask her.  I have worked on not being bitter.  I have worked on not feeling "less" or unworthy, because I know in my mind that this is not about me.  In my heart, most days I know it too, but not always.

I am blessed to have a most excellent FIL, one who has been dad to me since before I married  my wife.  K and I were best friends all through high school so he has been in my life a loooooong time.  I trust him. I admire him.  He is "dad" for me.

My kids always notice the complexities of this situation and it is a talking point each year.  Mostly because each year they are emotionally and intellectually able to process a little more.  KC wanted to ask a lot of questions this year.  He wanted to know why I wasn't close to my biological father.  I told him, sugar coating the years of arguments, then saying he had moved and not told me where, so I figured that was his way of showing with his actions that he did not want me in his life.  I added that sometimes people have a hard time saying things and we have to use clues from how they act and used an example of his own experience with a friend.

KC instantly responded that it was clear that my dad "didn't really want to be my dad and wasn't behaving like a dad."  Then he added "is that why you are so nice?  You remember what it was like when your dad wasn't?"

Give me props for maturity--I said that I just wanted to be the best parent I could be and that all of life is about learning how to be the best we can be in the world we live in.  But the reality? Yes. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Reaching out and Trauma

Recently  there has been a lot of good stuff written on blogs I follow about trauma. It is always good to remind myself why Fiona is "stuck", why Rob always freezes in a crisis, why he is slow to share deep things. Trauma heals slowly.  Some trauma may never heal, especially in cases like Fiona where cognitive issues impede her very real efforts.

But today, I saw one of those side effects of trauma in a situation totally not involving my family. Well except that I was there, I guess.  The kids and I were up at a park after breakfast.  There are lovely, easy trails for short hikes, a pretty pond with a fountain, a waterfall and a playground.  It is maintained by our city and they do an amazing job.

It was early and I was surprised when at about 8:15 or so a young mom and her two children joined us at the playground.  There was a firemans pole on the play equipment.  Lissa was fearlessly whizzing down it.  It was a very tall pole, taller than the one at the school yard playground that we normally visit. That bothers my little adrenaline junkie not a whit.  KC was mostly avoiding the pole and doing all the other things the playground had to offer.

The two little girls with their mom clearly wanted to go down the pole and were petrified to do so.  Mom coached  them with lots of positive language.  Not working.  Mom then climbed on the play apparatus and showed them how she could go down the pole.  Also positive.  Also not working.  Her little daughters would stand at the top, reach out timidly toward the pole and then pull back.

KC finally decided that he wanted to try it but was also intimidated by the height.  I told him if he would reach out, that I would have my hand right under his feet and slow him till he felt he was in control on the pole.  He thought about it for maybe 10 seconds and grabbed the pole.  I did what I said, braced under his feet, till he was secure and let him control his descent.

Two little girls then look at me with "will you do that for me?" written all over their face.  I asked if it was okay and mom was fine with it.  Same scenario and down the pole they went. After mom watched a couple of times, she came over and did the controlled descent thing with me as long as our kids wanted to use the pole. (Lissa, the fearless excepted!)

No, I am not nuts, there is a trauma connection here. . . Mom had been chatting with me while the kids were playing earlier.  She spoke about how this park had always been a safe space for her. She cut school and spent days by that waterfall as a teen.  When her parents were fighting, she learned to paint a picture of the park in her head, to keep herself calm. She spoke of drawing in the features of the fountain and the falls, adding grass and a rock to sit on.  "When I could draw my unicorn in the picture then I knew I was safe, " she said.

I'm guessing that as a young child, there were not a lot of times when she felt safe reaching out to the adults in her life.  I am guessing that the severe fighting she described in her home life started young (not too many teens likely image unicorns to keep themselves calm)  Because she was essentially self reliant so young, she doesn't  think to reach out to others--and she didn't see that today ,  in that instant, her daughters were just looking to her for something beyond the "how" of a skill.  They were looking for proof that mom was  a safety net and would not let them fall. This was an easy situation, where a fellow parent could just model walking a different path.  Trauma didn't win today.

Fire Works and Fall Out!

Last night went remarkably smoothly when taking my tribe to the local fireworks festivities. This is somewhat hard for Chet as it is noisy, very populous and his idea of being sociable can be off putting to others.  (for instance peering intently at someone to read their T Shirt and then trying to have a long conversation about the meaning of the phrase)  He also has some facial mannerisms when noises start to stimulate him and I did have to stop one small trio of ruffians from picking on him.  Ask my son if you can get some crack off him and then giggle maniacally??  No thank you.  The first time something was said to him I missed the conversation and Chet came and told me, worried that we should call in the authorities.  He pointed out the kids, some distance from us and I was reasonably sure they were having fun at his expense. I found a way to explain that we did not need to call the law for stupid comments (truly, I was more tactful than that!) and had returned to playing ball with KC and Lissa when I saw the 3 demons youths approach.  "Well DO you?" I heard one of them ask as they all sniggered and mocked.  I marched over and told them to all move along and find something more productive to do with their evening than harrass my son and that if they were in my vicinity again I would be highly annoyed!  Yup, I was all mature about that!! LOL

Other than that one incident, it really was good.  The littles played ball, played with bubble pipes, and danced and danced to the music that our city's school orchestras were playing.  These pictures are of the bubble pipe fun--KC thinks he looks like Sherlock Holmes in his shot.  As it got darker he traded his fedora for the LED fiber optic mohawk.  I had to take the picture before it got dark as my camera flash is notoriously weak.  Trust me, it was cool!

The fireworks were awesome too.  We all cuddled on a blanket-the air now chilled down--and watched the amazing colors and shapes explode in the sky above us.  When it was over, we were able to exit more easily than last year and walk to where I had parked our car about 1/4 of a mile away.  We were not home till 10:15 or so though so it was a very long day for the littles, and even for Chet.

Today they slept till about 6:15 or so but that was about the extent of it. That is why now, they are cranky and fried!  Most of the day was good though.  We went out to breakfast at their favorite diner. Then we went to a park where they played on the equipment and we later took a hike.  Then it was home so I could do some house chores that I had neglected during yesterdays marathon of fun.

Just before lunch we left for a puppet show.  A small theater a couple towns over was created by an individual many years ago.  Although the founder passed away recently, his apprentices have carried on the legacy and continue to offer marionnette puppet shows for children.  It was VERY lightly attended--hopefully just because it was Fathers Day--but was wonderful.  My kids loved it, and it was just the kind of quiet, low key happening that I needed for today.  The marionettes were really beautiful and the kids all got to see them up close after the show. When we got home, our little next door neighbor came over and needed to play here and have some time with us as his younger brother needed some special care.  Now it is time for early showers and beds for those wee ones as from about 3 p.m on the behavior train has been racing rapidly down the Mountain of Civility towards the Quagmire of Crankiness!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lists make my world Run smoothly!

Rob is off with the Youth Group in NYC for a wonderful fun filled weekend.  I am not sure that I personally want to go to NY.  I flip flop back and forth on it.  I think I want to see the Statue of Liberty, Yankee Stadium and Central Park.  OK and there are museums that intrigue me.  The thing is, city noise grates on my nerves. I don't mind being around people, but the noise even at night?  I have a harder time with that and tend to sleep poorly.  Ironically my wife, who is less into socializing than I loves NYC.  She says that it is because New Yorkers don't expect you to talk to them. LOL  I wonder if that would make me lonely in a crowd?  I am a talker.  I talk when I am pumping gas and there is a perfect stranger across the pumps from me.  I talk in the grocery store lines. Life is too short not to connect, even in light and random ways.  Which oddly sometimes turn into deeper connections. (like the friendship that has evolved over the years with an elderly woman who shops at the same time we do early each Saturday morning)

I am pretty well packed for my visit to San Diego.  I have realized doing this packng that parenting a larger family has left me fairly OCD in regards to making sure I have everything.  Specifically, it has wedded me to LISTS.  I actually am slightly intimidated about this trip.  I did not realize when I won it (our company had an essay contest) that I would be the only person of my level within the company who would be going. So I will be hanging with the upper tier employees and, well, I don't want to look like I am out of my league.  Even if I am; I am of the fake it till you make it mind set.

I found that I will be attending numerous evening events (gulp) so I have two wardrobes. Day time convention wear and evening wear that is more dressed up without looking too sexy.  (another big issue within our company) I have chosen all the jewelry and accessories.  And made lists of it all.  I know, it is very silly. But if I am short on time I will not be standing in my hotel room trying to make up outfits on the fly.  Or if I have a migraine--and I tend to plan in case such an event occurs as they are a regular happening for me.  But my list keeps me grounded and feeling prepared.  Especially since the only thing remotely close to a "harbor cruise" that I have ever been on is a Whale Watch and I suspect that the clientele and atmosphere are going to be vastly different!

The littles and I have gotten through our usual Saturday morning activities and in a little while we leave to go to an outdoor birthday party for a few hours. They are excited as there will be a bounce house and a water feature.  I am excited because it is 75 and sunny for the first time in days--maybe weeks?  LOL  Then it is home to pack a quick picnic and head to our citys music and fireworks event.  This is called Starburst and is a family tradition for the kids and I each year.  I remember wheeling KC down in the stroller when he was little and being astonished that he slept through the fire works. Something he did routinely until he was about 7. Then there were years when I had Lissa on me in a sling and KC still in a stroller and eventually a double stroller.  By 2011 I was hauling the 2 littles in a wagon with our gear in a back pack.  This year they have outgrown the wagon and I am forced to find a parking space and bring the car as they will not be up for the mile walk home when the fireworks end.  My plan is to park some distance from the venue and walk from there so that I don't get caught in the crazy traffic nuttiness after the show ends.  Now off to think about what to pack for the picnic supper. . . maybe I should make a list!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

San Diego bound

Next Tusday at the unholy hour of 4 a.m. I leave for my business trip to San Diego. I am pretty stoked, never having tavelled much in my life.  But I will be away from my kids for the first time ever.  That feels weird to me and to them.  And leaves me wondering if I am truly capable of being an adult for 4 days and nights in a row!  LOL

I keep trying to think about packing and such but kid stuff keeps getting in the forefront.  Rob's girl friend wants to see him on Thursday, and he leaves for NYC with our church youth group on Saturday morning at 7. The littles have a birthday party and our city firework display on Saturday also. .  .   I wonder if I will arrive in San Diego with more than a few handi wipes and a couple pairs of undies.  (maybe not even mine!)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Closing Sunday

At church this morning, my son Rob (center) received recognition with a number of his teen friends for their volunteer efforts.  Rob and others have consistantly volunteered with the classes of younger kids and I am proud of him.  I am proud of all the teens truthfully, but I am especially proud of Rob.  He is a huge help wit the younger kids here at home and i would not have been surprised if he had said he had enough "little kid stuff" in his life and wanted a break from that at church.  But the need was there and he stepped up.  He was a special mentor to a young boy who had some challenges behaviorally and made a huge impact in the overall class and that boys life.  I just wish my flash had gone off so the picture was better!

Then there is my KC who read a part of a poem honoring teachers as part of todays closing Sunday celebration.  The first 4 years of his life he would rather sit in service with me than be separated from me by being in nursery care.  Now at 9 he is increasingly finding his voice and the way he wants to share his gifts with a wider world.

We honor graduating seniors at this service as well.  As we cheered for the teens--most of whom I have known since they too were toddlers, I found myself feeling all weepy.  Weepy for knowing that their journey is moving on beyond us all now.  But most especially as I know my Rob will be standing up there next year.  I am going to have to work hard on being ready for that.  He is such a great kid, and we share a quiet closeness that is different from my other kids.  Yet there are little things that I love and will miss when he moves away to college on the next step of his life journey. LIke how at night he always makes sure to say goodnight and give me a hug. Even if he goes upstairs before me, when he hears me on the stairs, he will be out there, waiting at the side entry, with a hug and a hushed goodnight.

He has a job application to fill out tonight as well, another step forward on that important journey to independence. I am thankful that a good friend at church thought of him. She is a fine young adult herself, a great role model for what young people can do to change the world in positive ways. It is all far from a shoe in, but it is a step forward.  I am routinely told how nice Rob is.  His easy going demeanor tends to put most  folks at ease.  Today another parent told me how handsome he was and what a 'good catch' he was going to be.  Maybe, but I'm hoping the catching is a ways down the road and he gets some life experience in first!

Saturday, June 8, 2013


Today the rain departed and we decided we would travel to the western part of the state to Riverfest.  It is in a lovely small town, very Norman Rockwell.  The only thing I dislike about the western part of the state is that the radio reception is pathetic.  Thank goodness for playing tunes on my phone!  Rob and I were going through music withdrawals!
One of the things we did was to walk an old trolley bridge that has been turned into an entire garden.  It is called the Bridge of Flowers and is the only one in the entire world.  It is extremely beautiful and this shot was not taken by me, but by KC or Lissa who did all the nature photography today.    

There are stunning waterfalls that lead down into glacial potholes.  Today, you could not see the glacial potholes because of the raging water which was spectacular!  We admired them, but will have to go back so the littles can see the potholes.  We watched a kid oriented magic show.  We listened to music. We wandered and explored and had a lovely lunch in a bistro fronting the main street.  From our seats we could watch a cool parade come up the street. There was a glass art studio with absolutely breath taking hand crafted things, a funky used book store we hung out in.  It was just so neat!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Starting my day in a smooth way!

I try to have a smoothie for  breakfast a couple mornings a week.  This week was hard as it went and got chilly in the mornings again but today was a bit warmer. Also I am really tired as the teen and I watched the Bruins game 3 last night!  However this post is about food not hockey.

I love smoothies.  My wife started me trying them a few weeks back. She found she hated them but I think they are great.  The only thing I don't like about them is the often icky color that I get.  For instance, I have a combo of banana, water, protien powder, arugula and frozen blueberries.  It is delicious but the color?  Not purple, not green, sort of a weird brownish color. It is definately something I don't look at while I drink.  I did get some pretty ones if I put in a lot of strawberries, but most other combos leave me with sickly green or muddy brown.

Today, I got Dr. Seuss green and I love it.  Thankfully it also tastes good. I increased the amount of greens and I used frozen peaches for those of you dying to drink something bright green in the mornings!  I feel energy seeping back into my bones.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Work Day Fun

Those are two words that are typically mutually exclusive!  (laughing)  However today is going to be a different kind of day.  The place where I work has the dubious distinction at present of not having a budget that will allow us to have a landscaper plant flowers.  Last year I suggested that we buy the flowers and have a staff planting day.  We tried it and it was very successful. The area looked so much better for our efforts.

This year, with finances again tight, we are having the second annual staff planting!  It is gorgeous outside today.  Sunny and bright and the temperature is just right for working out there.  I will get to spend HOURS outside today and get paid for it!  Usually my outside time is only on weekends or in the evenings after supper.

Also last night, Fiona called. She was very upbeat and gave Jane an excellent re-cap of our day together on Saturday.  She and Jane also said that they have written a letter to DCF asking that I become her guardian.  I have all ready written what I need to for that.

Fiona then asked about a belly piercing.  I have had one, though I stopped wearing jewelry there about 6 years ago.  I was able to explain to her that it was not the safest  choice for her. I confess to using a mythical conversation with a doctor but it seems to have worked.  My concerns regarding it are Fi's on again off again hygeine.  That particular area can infect easily and it is extremely serious if it does.  Fiona is also diabetic which makes the risk of infection higher in and of itself.

She then asked about a tattoo. LOL  I said we could try a henna tattoo and see how that works.  Fiona has an almost constant fidget. I think it is along the line of a tic and is something she can not stop.  Her body sort of moves a bit at all times.  I am hoping the henna art would fill her need for self adornment.  They can be really elaborate and they last for quite a while also.

She also remembered that I had told her that when she moves to a new home that we would get her a cell  phone and pre-program it with our number.  Sometimes what Fiona  remembers and what she does not astounds me.  That cell phone talk was easily a few weeks ago and she recalled it perfectly.  Yet so many day to day things are truly forgotten, lost in the mists of trauma and brain injury.

Jane loved the idea and said that perhaps we would even get the phone before she graduates so that she can practice being responsible for it and making calls to us herself on it.  Cool!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Sunday Fun-day

Yesterday was a whirlwind of fun.  My wife had to work, so Rob's family party is tonight.  We started the day with breakfast at Friendlys, my kids favorite breakfast place.  It was another reminder of how much Rob has grown.  When we first started going to Friendlys with him he was all about the tie dye pancake with whipped cream on top.  Now, it is the lumberjack breakfast and coffee.  The wheel of our life turns and we move on making new memories. . .

Rob was actually kind of tired because he had watched the Bruins with me the night before. This fact did not mean anything to his younger brother KC who woke him at quarter to 6 in the morning singing Happy Birthday to him because he wanted to be the first person to wish him greetings on his day!  So later in the morning, Rob chilled on the couch while the littles went shopping for the last of his gifts.  It pleases me that the kids are observant and see what their sibs would really enjoy. I rarely have them ask me for a gift idea--they usually have a thought and can share the reason behind it.

This year, KC was getting Rob his own little personal stereo.  He wanted it just like his own, which he bought for himself a few months back.  Rob has borrowed it fairly frequently and KC could tell that he liked it and that it fit well within the confines of the bookshelf headboard on Rob's bed. Lissa wanted to get him new headphones to go with it so that he would not have to wait till everyone was awake to play music.  Once we were there they decided to add a couple new CD's to the gift.  I suspect that only in my house would the same shopping tour include Mumford and Sons, Drake and Phillip Phillips for musical choices.  The first two are for Rob and the last was mine, though oddly enough I enjoy all 3 artists greatly.

Back home the kids had lunch and then the fun began.  Rob's girlfriend texted him that he was late for going to her house to work on their  film project.  She told him that she was SURE she had told him 1 p.m. and here it was 1:18 and he was not there. Rob came and told me.  I was supposed to say that I was busy and couldn't leave till 1:30 but the truth is, when my kids have glitches in schedules I am ALWAYS the person who makes it work.  I call it the "Tim Gunn time" because he says that on a design show all the time.  Rob would have totally known something was up if I suddenly said I could not leave for another 10 minutes.  So we got in the car, and I just "forgot" a couple things as I had also been packing to take the littles to the beach while they had lunch.  Then I drove a bit slower than usual and got him to his girlfriends house at the appointed time for the great surprise party.  And was he ever surprised!  It was a perfect party for him.

Meanwhile the littles and I forayed forth to the State Park and met up with friends and had a great few hours fooling around in the water.  By supper time when I brought them home, just before thunderstorms were due to descend they were cooler, happy and tired.

One of my personal best moments came in the quiiet of the evening when I finally had a few minutes to read my Facebook account.  One of  Rob's cousins had posted a response to my birthday greeting  She wished him a happy birthday but told me to also enjoy the day, that is was "my day too" and that I was a great mother.  It was another sign that we have knit together a much wider circle of family than perhaps we ever envisioned when Rob became our son.  That gives him, I hope, the strongest base possible for his future.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

On the brink of 17

Graphics are giving me fits tonight, but I have endeavored to put up some pics of Rob's birthday mural.  He chose a Jamaican theme this year.  I think this is inspired in part by the reggae music that both he and I share a love for.  Birthday murals have been a long tradition in our house, but as our kids have gotten bigger it has been harder to find time to get them done!  This one was no exception. When the kids were young, we could take 2 weeks involving them in the mural project. The paper for this was slapped up on Wednesday--Rob's actual birthday is tomorrow! (Sunday)  Um, not my best planning!  We are celebrating it on Monday but that doesn't change the fact that this was an "expedited" art project.  To aid in the speedy construction I found 2 clear panals at a party store of palm trees and birds. We layered these over the two ends of our mural and they help give color and dimension to the art. Since I can't figure out how to organize these pics, for viewer reference, these are the first and last shots in this blog post.

The second shot is bobble head Chet.  The kids drew him bent over as he is always in this posture at the beach looking for shells even if he is in the water.  The third shot is bobble head Rob wearing dreads (which he did for halloween.)  You can't tell in the pic but his bobble head self is holding a very outsized Jamaican flag and looks a bit like he has leapt 40 feet into the air.

The third shot are bobble head Lissa and Fiona as island princesses. I did not have the heart to tell them that it was not likely that they wear grass skirts in Jamaica. LOL

Next up is Bobble head KC who fancied himself a lifeguard for this mural!

Somewhere in the mural are bobble head parents but they didn't make the short list of photos on the computer! :-)

I can't quite wrap my head around Rob being 17.  I need to think on this!  Tomorrow I am taking the kids out to celebrate with a birthday breakfast and then in the afternoon is the surprise party at his girlfriends house.  I am taking the littles shopping tomorrow for his gifts and wrapping mine.  The nuts and bolts of party time are ready, it is getting emotionally ready to watch this fine  young man stand at the beginning of a new journey--one that I will only watch. I've not really had a child become an adult and this is virgin territory for me.  Rob is the first of my kids who is capable of leaving me a note on our dry erase board saying "gone skating, text if u need me"  and such.  He is increasingly ready to become a young adult and i am so proud of the adult I think I glimpse within him.

But oh goddess will there be a big ole hole of emptiness in this house the day he steps out on his own!