Thursday, June 25, 2015

FitBit Fun!

My company has begun a new wellness program.  Sometime mid-May we were eligible to obtain a free FitBit. (one of the 3 lower end models)  The only caveat was that we agree to log to a company website that would allow them to see our steps.

I figured why not.  They all ready have a GPS locater in my company issued phone so they know where I go--what does it matter if they see how many steps I take?  LOL  Also, as part of the deal I could buy one for a family member at a greatly reduced price so I got K one like mine. She does not have to let my company know her steps.

And can I just say how much fun I have with this silly thing?  I love seeing how many steps I walk, how many stairs I climb and how many miles I have traversed by days end.  For a person whose job is mostly behind a desk, I am pretty active.  The only day I did not make my 10,000 steps was a day I had a migraine and I went to work, came home and that was pretty much my day.  But most times, I after work I am doing chores, taking the kids to the park etc.

Also my wife and I have been walking together a few mornings a week.  She has ankle issues so she can't do this daily, so I have more morning walks than she does.  I love the time together as it is just for us and now that she is used to it, K is enjoying the talking time as well.

Then there is the company leader board.  This shows how far everyone has walked.  Well, I am a wee bit on the competitive side.  My initial goal was to stay in the top ten.  Since more than 100 people are doing this, I figured it was a good goal.  I have gradually been working my way up a bit higher than that though and am presently rocking the number six slot.

I know that during the school year it will be much harder to find times to exercise.  My life is a taxi then.  Rob's train schedule, and the kids activities govern my life. But for now, I am enjoying my fitbit and the flexibility that summer gives.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

More Fiona problems

I opened my email this evening to discover that the agency which runs the home where Fiona lives, had a "brilliant" idea. (please understand that word is meant to be read with dripping sarcasm.  Due to the altercations that she had with another woman in the home, they were suggesting that Fi be moved to a new home that is being constructed in the western part of our state. This would happen sometime next month.

I am not amused. First off, I only found out about this through the DDS person who they contacted. They did not contact me, as the guardian which I find grossly inappropriate.

Secondly, moving my daughter does not preclude future physical altercations. I wish that were the case, but I know it is not.  And anyone with half a brain who has read her history should be able to figure that out.

Thirdly, we are her support network. I can not visit her often if she is over an hour away from us.  She is 15 minutes away now and home often.  Also her home visits can be shorter, of an afternoon for instance, or going out to dinner and then getting brought back to the group home. This is of benefit to her in a multiple of ways.  When the intimacy of family life feels too intense, it is easy to disengage and go back to the group home.  Also, at another level, I feel that it models the kind of visiting that you do as an adult.

Moving her out an hour or more away additionally puts her even further away from first family members who try to keep in touch with her and who on occasion gather at our home to be with her.

I have written a strong email stating that if this agency wants to move her an hour away that I am very opposed and that I would rather look to a new agency to provide housing and services for Fiona.  I think, but am not sure, that DDS is going to be supportive.  We shall see.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Fiona's altercation

Life is a whirlwind, practically all the time and my blogging has become far from consistant as a result. This annoys me as there is much I want to write about.  My wife craves a bit of solace in silence so writing is one step up from talking to myself when I process things! LOL  And I look a good deal less batty when I write than if I walk around talking to myself.

Fiona is struggling again. She had an altercation with a housemate and it escalated into a physical attack in which Fi did harm to the other woman.  She bit her and there is still a visible mark and bruise a number of days later. The director of the house attempted to diffuse things and to try to convince the woman who was assaulted not to file charges.  However despite having a cool off time to think about her options, she did file a police report last evening.

Mike called to tell me all this and said that truthfully, no one really knows what this means for Fiona.  The police in the community are aware of the situation at the residence and that the ladies unfortunately do have physical confrontations.  This may just wind up  a written report, or a warning or it could be something more.  Fiona did not know that the charges were filed. The plan is to have this explained to her during her counselling session and for her clinician to let her know that the team will be there to support her through this.

Although I am worried for Fiona, I do feel that accountability is important. There are some things that are not okay and biting people is on that list.  On the other hand, I worry that at some point, she will be in a jail due to the violence that is really symptomatic of her mental illness and cognitive disabilities.

She is coming for a visit for the day on Saturday and I hope that spending time with us will be reassuring to her. I know that when she has something like this happen that afterwards she is remorseful and that she worries that we will not love her.  So in that respect, the visit is timed perfectly.

I hate that life is so very hard for her.  There is so much that is good inside her.

My Young Man

June 2nd Rob turned 19.  I am still amazed by this.  He is a smart, funny, caring and clever young man.  He is light years away from the frightened 5 year old who became my son so many years ago.  All my kids are different and unique individuals.  Rob is the quietest, but there has developed an ease and comfort to our relationship over the years.  I think he just is always going to be the person who shows how he feels instead of talking about it.  For instance he doesn't write me mushy notes like some of the kids, but he is the guy who will make sure that my favorite kind of smoothie is waiting in the fridge.

He bridges young adulthood and being a beloved big brother and son with an ease and grace I didn't have at that age.  He takes time with the youngers who think he could walk on water if he tried.  With me, he is respectful and usually very helpful. He is gentle and patient with the limitations that Fiona has, watching twen shows without complaint that he would never EVER choose on his own.

This Sunday was the first week he has not gone to church with us as an adult, and he was working.  I am proud of that,not because I am profoundly religious in the Christian sense, but because it shows it is a place where he feels welcome, where he has maintained connections, even when he out grew the Religious Ed program.  I think that navigating the mysteries of becoming an adult is easier when there are a variety of trusted adults in your corner and he has that in spades at UUCW.

Rob has a summer job this year and has been a hard worker, accepting extra hours when they were offered to him. He is a hard worker and enjoys it and has not argued about putting 1/2 of each pay check in the bank for school.

He has accomplished his first year of college and is excited that this year he will actually get some time in the kitchen and it won't just be text book classes.

In many ways, Rob is my first child to really grow up.  Chet is forever a child in a mans body.  Able to navigate the neurotypical world well some days and not at all in others, perpetually enjoying experiences more frequently associated with a much younger teen.

Fiona too is in a similar situation. So for me,watching Rob begin to step beyond us, to find his own path is exciting, though bittersweet.   But above all, I am proud of him and so very blessed that he is our son.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Leave Takings and Remembrances

Today was a very emotional day.  It was remembrance day at church, where those who have passed in the prior church year are remembered.  I love how our minister does this because he does not focus on the "big" things about the people. Instead it is the little things, like how one woman was a shoe a holic and the other a Trivial Pursuit fanatic. Yes, they did amazing things as well but it is the little things that we humans (or at least this human) sort of enjoy remembering the most.  The little things bring them closer in our minds.  It has always been so for me.  I remember my mom's second husband saying "boy o boys" whenever the kids and I would arrive and how he would laugh because KC always brought him a small rock and put it in his walker basket.  Sure he was an amazing UU minister and did amazing things in his life, but it was that phrase that always calls him to mind for me.

This Sunday long time friends also got up and announced that they have relocated to another part of the state.  Stan has retired and Deb loves the ocean. They are not inaccessible by any means, but it FEELS so incredibly far away to me. I love them both, but Deb especially has been a friend, mentor, a touch stone in my life for many years.

When we came to the church way back when, Chet was in 8th grade. (he is 29 now for a reference point.)  Deb was the director of the church school.  She was amazing and helped give Chet experiences I am not sure he could have had otherwise.  Despite his autism, he participated fully in a Coming of Age program and grew under her kind and firm tutelage in ways I could not have dreamed possible.

She was still the Director when we began the adoption process and brought Robbie home.  When we tried to adopt Fiona and failed miserably.  When we adopted KC.  By the time we adopted Lissa she had passed the diretorship torch on to another wonderful person. But we remained friends.  She was a person I could confide deeply in, share joys, share sorrows and fears in equal measure. She celebrated with me when I became Fiona's guardian, knowing full well how deeply I felt about the fact that Fi had been unable to live with us.

And now she will be gone.  Or at least a lot farther away.  I won't see her smile on every Sunday morning as I have for low these many years. Or get that encouraging hug that she always magically knew when I needed it.  We will stay in contact via the net, but it will be different.  I knew we were supposed to be sad but also to celebrate this next chapter in Deb and Stan's life together. They have earned this retirement, in a place that they love and want to share together.  But my soul was too busy grieving to do more than have a really fake smile through my tears.

Which reminds me of how our kids felt coming to us.  Leaving the life they knew and joining a family where virtually everything was different.  Where a new family was so happy that they were there.  Where they lost their first families, in part or in whole. And how we had all smiled through lots of tears.  Loss always hurts, even when something "good" is coming out of it.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Memorial Day Camping Fun

The whirlwind of life continues at its typical crazy speed!  Over Memorial Day weekend the kids and I went camping with friends of ours.  It is at a ski area in NH where they have a variety of activities that all our kids enjoy.  Tree top aerial adventures were the big hit this year for KC, Lissa and their 7 year old friend A.  It was amazing to me to watch them learn how to use carabiners and a trolley to do a zip line.  They traversed obstacles, walked on swinging logs and cheered each other on with enthusiasm and had an amazing time.  KC who is usually my timid guy was in the lead both times through the course, his feet sure footed from his dance training.

Lissa was a rock star on the climbing wall.  She truly climbs like a mountain goat--this girl is born for extreme sports I think!  Both times she did the climbing wall she chose the route that had the over hang that you had to get up and over.  Naturally, this was the hardest route, but honestly, she made it look easy.

Poor Rob had come because last year there was a skate park where he could do bike and skateboard tricks.  He loved that and was there all day every day last year.  This year they abolished the skate park but forgot to delete it from their website so we did not know until we arrived.  I admire the way he handles disappointments though. He is gracious and never pouts or rants.  He helped the littles out and spent time shooting pictures of the little kids.  He did try the 20 foot stunt jump a few times and he took the kids up the mountain on the scenic chair lift ride. He did the water balloon fight game with the kids as well.   He is not into rock climbing or the aerial tree top type things though. I love that he never complained or moaned about the loss of his favorite activity; he just found ways to participate.

Our campsite was beautiful, large, quiet, not too terribly far from the bathrooms. (always a plus when Lissa wakens me at 2 a.m.!)  The first night was really really cold--32 degrees, but after that it got warmer each day. 

We totally forgot one tote of our camping supplies so we left home my fire starters, my coffee pot and our cups.  Of the 3 items, the only one I missed was the coffee pot.  LOL  I still made a campfire and did not need the fire starters--old Girl Scout training is still in effect! We used small bowls as our "cups" and looked a bit like pictures one sees of Mongols when we were sipping our OJ but it worked.  I don't let forgetting something color an experience.  We are there to have fun and there is always a work around if you think out of the box a bit.

On the last day we were there I bought myself a ticket and did the 20 foot stunt jump.  It was a blast! I sort of forgot the pledge I made to my wife years ago when we expanded our family about not doing anything extremely dangerous.  My friend videod the jump too so there was, as they say, incriminating evidence!

After  long cold winter though, it felt amazing to be able to be outside for hours on end and we all had a really wonderful time. It may be the only camp out that Rob is able to come on this year depending on his work schedule.

He has been newly hired to work in the produce department of a local grocery store.  I am proud that he has a summer job, and so is he.  And this chain is known for being extremely good to its employees with bonus opportunities even for part time workers. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around camping without him--Rob is that really good camping helper who just knows exactly what to do without my even saying anything.