Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Putting up the Harvest

In between family visiting (Yay!) and getting the teens ready for school, we've been putting up the harvest from the island.

I got some free wool that I've been cleaning. I'm hoping to clean, card, spin, and knit something by hand. More on that later.

We've crabbed.

I loved going out in the canoe to put out crab pots. It was a nice way to connect with Hubby. Though I got tired of picking out the crab to seal and freeze, I never got tired of paddling to the mouth of Blakely Harbor with my man.

I also picked lots of blackberries and some apples and canned them. 

Even yesterday, the day before school, I made 21 jars of jam from wild blackberries I picked in our neighborhood. No, I'm not super mom. My house looks like a wreck right now with all the canning supplies and back to school supplies strewn around the kitchen and dining room. But with all the anxiety around the start of school, I needed to do something to find my happy place. Making things makes me happy. 

We even harvested a bit of honey! Hubby brought four frames home and we got twelve small bottles of honey and a bit of comb. 

We also have the extractor in our dining room.

Boy, do I have a job to do getting things cleaned up for visitors next week!

Monday, August 4, 2014

More Drama?

Please pray for my kids. And me. 

We have some normal teenage drama happening, except in our house it isn't so normal. I need wisdom. It's one thing to have teenage problems, it's another to have teenage problems with FASD, abandonment issues, a lower capacity to handle change, and a lack of understanding. Will this kid go off the deep end? Memories of a year ago make my heart flutter. Last week's trip to the emergency room was another reminder of those days. When I was in nursing school years ago, hospital visits were interesting. Now they are a trigger for me. 

Meanwhile, a sibling is not cooperating with a treatment plan. It isn't easy to want to be like everyone else, except you aren't. Actually, no one is like everyone else, but try to tell that to a teenager. I don't know if what we are trying to do will help, but I'm willing to experiment. Something needs to happen before school starts in less than a month. It's more serious to fail classes in high school.

On the plus side, we had a good visit with the grandparents this weekend. They had a chest of drawers that Mr. I needed. We will pick it up when we can take the van and have more room. We loaded up on blueberries. Yum! It was so good to be with family. I was able to pick some apples for applesauce this afternoon in a friend's yard. I unpacked two boxes that I brought up from San Jose. We ate artichokes from our own garden this evening. They are so good when they are cooked right after they are picked. Hubby started a new job today and loves it. My foot hardly hurts anymore, so I don't have to deal with constant pain. I'm preparing for visits from my older kids, grandchildren, and friends in the next few weeks. 

So I'm hoping we will weather the teen storm this week without any casualties. Or even better, that the teens will settle down and not have wave after wave of drama. That would be awesome. But even if they don't, I will always love them. And we will get through this time, somehow.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

New Granddaughter!

I have a new granddaughter!

I'm so happy I was able to visit her! I drove over fifteen hours to San Jose in one day, rested a day, and drove the rest of the way to San Diego. Then, after staying about a week and a half, I reversed the drive. I had a hurt foot and kid problems, but I'd do anything to see that little girl and her big brother!

I spent much of my time entertaining Grandson. He broke his collarbone while I was there. He milked the extra attention all he could. But it isn't everyday that Grandma could spoil him!

I love those little ones!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

So is This What Trauma Feels Like?

I read this blog post this morning and can't stop tearing up.

Maybe it's because I spent half the night in the emergency room with one teen and only getting four hours of interrupted sleep after we got home. I am still sleep deprived and exhausted from driving from San Diego to the Seattle area after visiting my new granddaughter and family and from the pain of a badly bruised foot. Maybe it's because I found out last night why the other teen has been detached and acting strangely lately. But maybe, just maybe, the tears are flowing because what this woman wrote hits home. Maybe I've been affected by trauma more than I have thought. 

I had time to slow down and think on the long drive home. What is wrong with me? I've been increasingly numb, sad, or worrying about what will happen next. I used to be more genuinely and intensely loving, truly spiritual, and more able to trust that even if things look bad now there is hope that things will turn around for the good soon. I'm not like that anymore.

I go through the motions. I still can function pretty well, at least I think I can. There are times that I feel glimpses of hope, love, peace, and joy. If you act a certain way, the feelings often follow. Want to feel love for your child? Act loving. Want to have a good marriage? Treat your spouse like you already have a good marriage. Tired of a messy house? Set a timer and clean it. Sometimes pushing through despite emotions helps to bring what you want in life.

But my emotional weirdness is a bit concerning to me. I am having a hard time making friends in our new place because I don't have the emotional energy to make the kind of friendships I need. I'm afraid I'll just fall apart and scare people away. I also think I'm hyper vigilant about what horrible situations will happen next with the kids. The teen years of kids with past trauma, fetal alcohol exposure, attachment difficulties, and psychological challenges can be grueling. Any hint of trouble brings images of the worst case scenario. I kept startling awake the night before my over fifteen hour drive the other day because I kept thinking about something happening with my son. It didn't, of course. But other things did happen. And then others. 

I often wondered what trauma felt like to the kids. I think I know now.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bloedel Reserve

Our island has many beautiful areas, and one of the best is the Bloedel Reserve.

Hubby and I went there today after church.

Today I was amazed by the beautiful bird songs in the forest,

And in the meadow.

I love it here!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Finding Rest in the Midst of Busyness

There has been a lot going on lately.

We are putting in a new bathroom on the lower floor so that guests, especially our parents, don't have to trudge upstairs in the middle of the night when staying here. There are workers coming in all day, making lots of noise and dust. It will be so good when it is done! We are on day five of a two week project. Well, the contractor said eight days, but rarely are things like this on time. 

We've had a lot of appointments lately. I won't go into detail, but they've been emotionally draining, at least for me. I still need to find a dentist and make eye appointments, but I'm getting there.

We still haven't had a week when one child or another is sick or has to leave school early for an appointment. But the school psychologist saw me pick up Ms. D from school yesterday, told me how she's heard such good things about Ms. D, and thanked me for bringing her to Bainbridge High! I can't tell you how good that feels! Sometimes I fear that people will resent us for bringing a bit of chaos into their nice, tidy lives. Instead of dreading the extra work we have added, people are welcoming us. What a relief!

There are school events, projects, and homework that all need time in the evenings and weekends. One nice thing I miss about homeschooling is that you make your own schedule, and not have to try to fit in the school's calendar. But right now, for our family, the school is a better choice. So we run here and there, get these materials, find that outfit, and get the kids to work on their homework. 

In the midst of all this and more, I've been trying to find rest. 

Hubby and I took the canoe out on the water last week. We saw bald eagles roosting, terns diving, and enjoyed beautiful views of Seattle and the bay.

Sunday afternoon, Hubby and I went to the art museum on Bainbridge and took a tour of some of the road ends on the island. Later this week I came back to one of them and took this picture while walking with Brewster. It is so beautiful here!

I take Brewster for walks. We found a beach that the locals take their dogs to play, run, and swim.

Hubby and I spend a little time each day gardening. There is nothing like working in the soil to relieve stress!

I've been trying to be more deliberate in finding rest. It is so tempting to run, run, run until I collapse. But I realize that I need to pace myself, to stay healthy for the long haul. So each day I do something to slow the rhythm of my life.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Thousand Drops

I was going to title this A Thousand Cuts, but I'm done crying for now and things don't seem too difficult, just annoying. The past couple of weeks has been hard. If it wasn't for my friend's visit last weekend, and our time of talk, rest, and refreshing, I think I would be writing this from the looney bin. (Sorry in advance to anyone who's been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons, but looney bin sounds more dramatic than psych ward, or maybe just more fun.) So I've softened the title to A Thousand Drops, since many of the stressors lately haven't been big, but they would be enough to drown someone if collected all together.

What are a few of the stressors?

Some were little things, like smoke alarms that kept beeping even after we changed the battery. Someone got a late night snack, and forgot to put the food back when he was done. Having a child meet a psychologist for the first time, and doing all the paperwork, yet not being able to find the most important documents. We have to get things ordered for the new bathroom, yet the items are due to come in a day or two late. There are reminders that I still don't know anyone on the island well enough yet that can help me. I don't have good friends yet.

My hands have been hurting. My feet were hurting me for a few weeks, but now the pain is in my hands. I was worrying it could be arthritis, but the blood test came back negative. So now I don't know why my hands hurt, they just do. Chronic pain has a way of coloring things negatively. I don't want to be one of those people who b***** about every ache and pain, but it's sure hard to open cans, ibuprofen bottles, and drive when your joints hurt.

Talking about driving, I lost my keys at a beach. I looked back many times, have seen other people's keys that were found by others, but not mine. Fortunately, a really nice lady and her elderly father took me and my wet dog home that day. But I was without a mailbox key for a few days, which made me feel a bit isolated.

And to add to the isolation, I set my phone on a wet counter. I put it in a bag of rice for a few days, and it works OK, though the screen is still a bit weird. I don't know what calls I missed, and don't know how to access my phone message thing. I also haven't had as much of my grandson FaceTime fix, which always puts a smile on my face after a rough day with the younger two kids.

Rough days? There have been plenty. Both Mr. I and Ms. D have been avoiding classes. Ditch a class? Yes. Pretend you have a stomach ache and sit in the bathroom so you are late for school? Yes. Name calling? Swearing? Hitting the walls in anger? Yes, yes, yes.  I know I shouldn't let these things bother me, but I'd love to send the kids off to school with a smile and a hug. Instead, they are angry or sullen, and I cry all the way home. The school suggested I call the police to get one of them to school. Oh that would be great! I can imagine what trauma that will dig up!

And then there are the things they know will push my buttons. Leaving food and dishes out on the table, in their rooms, on window sills, and where the dogs can get to them. Forgetting to remove pens from their pockets before putting their clothes in the laundry. And that was one of the few times they added a sheet, or towels, or other's clothes in with their load. Dying his sister's hair, which is nice for her. But getting hair dye on the sink, counter, floor, my two best towels, and my bathroom rug. You didn't notice that your hands were dirty? Asking me to take them here, there, and everywhere. Remember? My hands hurt. But the more I look stressed and in pain, the more they want proof that I can take care of them.

I missed my daughter's graduation so that I could get the kids to school. Yet I couldn't even do that well!

And then there is the puppy. I had two weeks of just having one dog in the house because Samurai was being cared for by someone else in the club to curb some of his relieving issues on walks. It was stressful for Ms. D, but she went along with the program. One hour after picking Samurai up Wednesday, we had a meeting with the regional leader. She told Ms. D and I, on a downtown sidewalk with people walking by, that she was going to put Samurai with another family. Ms. D was obviously upset. I was upset. How would anyone think of telling a teenager that kind of news, with no warning, in a public place? I wrote a letter to our leader later, and she apologized. I guess they were thinking about this for a month, yet didn't tell us!

There was more, but you get the idea. Things have not been all nice, neat, and calm around here. We are experiencing loss, frustration with school, and not everything is going smoothly. But even if it feels like I'm drowning sometimes, I'll make it.