Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I Will Do Anything for the Ones I Love

There is another viral illness circulating in our family. It is hitting the teens the worst. Again.

I don't think there's been a week that has passed since our kids started school that one or the other kid has been home at least one day since they started school in January.

I took my daughter to the urgent care clinic Sunday to make sure her sore throat wasn't strep. It wasn't. This wasn't the place I would prefer to spend a few hours on a beautiful Sunday, but I also didn't want Ms. D to lose any more school days.

Both kids ended up missing some school this week anyway.

Lately I have been planning my next season of life. What do I want to do with my time, once we get settled? The kids are in school. How do I meet people? I have so many interests. What do I want to do when I grow up?

Those questions have been put on hold for awhile. It would be pretty hard to keep a job or go to school myself if I have to keep missing in order to care for the kids. Flexibility is extremely important when you have children with special needs. Whenever I mention going to work the kids panic. Maybe I need to think of some things I can do at home, and figure out some other way to socialize. It's hard to be an extrovert and the mother of a child with special needs. How do other extrovert moms do it, especially when they move to a new area? I was feeling a little sorry for myself about having to stay home and care for the kids.

While Ms. D and I were at the clinic, Samurai, the puppy, shredded a toy and ate the pieces. He ended up vomiting that night. In the morning, Ms. D told me about it after she cleaned up the mess. I told her that she is learning what it's like to be a good mom.

What she said next was precious and a good reminder for me:

"I will do anything for the ones I love to keep them safe and healthy."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Difficult Times

Difficult behaviors, RAD, FASD, PTSD, anxiety, sensory overload, and all those other annoying things don't disappear with a change of place. Though removing the kids from their old stomping grounds has been beneficial in reducing triggers and temptations, their underlying difficulties are still there.

We have had a rough few days with Mr. I. There's been a slow buildup of stress from school. The expectations of the school are high, and though the teachers give Mr. I extra help, he is still struggling. The honeymoon period is waning at the same time. 

Monday was a beautiful day. Mr. I took advantage of the day to go skateboarding, so we ended up here:

Unfortunately, a Neo-Nazi guy with tats and a big knife at his side sat across from us in the emergency waiting room and glared at us. Mr. I was brave, and didn't run out of the building. But between the fear of being attacked and the pain of a sprained elbow, triggers were activated.

The following days have been hard. We've had regressions. We've had duct tape flushed down the toilet. We've had swearing in school and at home. I'm emotionally spent.

But! But!
Mr. I was able to gather himself together last night for a few hours and help with dinner. There is progress when the negative behaviors aren't constant.  There is progress when Mr. I is able to apologize after he calms down. Yes, he regressed this morning. But there is hope. 

Even if he still struggles with his emotions, Mr. I is a lot better off here with us. Like he said, his REAL parents wouldn't make him go to school or church. It's so hard to be a mean parent who forces their kids eat their vegetables and go places that will help them grow. It's a challenge to keep calm when your child does his best to wear you down. 

But when I feel overwhelmed, all I have to do is walk down the street and see this:

Then I remember that I am blessed. I can make it. There is hope.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Guide Dog Puppy Meeting and Weekend Getaway

The teens had spring break last week. They had visions of spending the week in San Jose with their friends. I would have liked to visit family and friends. One friend isn't doing well in her cancer fight, and I would have loved to visit her one last time. That didn't happen. I was sick the first few days, and then we had guide dog puppy meetings Wednesday and Saturday.

Our guide dog group after a nice walk in Poulsbo

There just wasn't time to drive down, and since we are trying to get on our feet financially, plane rides were out of the budget.

So the kids had a nice, boring week, which isn't a bad thing for them. They don't do well with a lot of excitement, and I think the stress of school and moving lowered their resistance to illnesses. A relaxed week helped them to recharge.

Saturday we went to the guide dog outing in Poulsbo. It is such a cute town! I'll have to go there again. We got a dozen donuts at an awesome bakery after our meeting, and drove down to the grandparents' farm. We got to visit, Mr. I got to drive the tractor, and Ms. D and the dogs had a great time playing...

...And resting.

I would have loved to be able to visit friends and family in California, but this spring break was good.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Let's try this again

This is the fourth time this week that I've attempted to write. Each time before I have been distracted. Sick kids will do that to you, even if they are teens. Well, it's true especially if they are teens, because they want your computer to watch mindless television shows in between bathroom runs. It might get a bit negative here, so if you want to just skip over to the happy part of my week, skip to the picture of the puppies on Ms. D's lap waiting for Mr. I to get out of school.

I am sick along with the kids. I've been able to avoid most of their illnesses this year so far, but not this one. I realized at least one or the other teen has been home sick from school at least one day for just about every week since they started this year. Ms. D asked me why they are getting sick so much. I told her I think their immune systems are not doing well. It could be the stress of moving, being exposed to different viruses in school, and not eating enough vegetables. The more stressed they get, the pickier they are with food. I looked at their plates the other night. While Hubby's and my plates were colorful, the kids' were white. Well, almost white. They picked out the carrots from their pasta and shoved them to the side to be thrown out later. They didn't even eat the green beans. They normally like green beans!

So what else has been happening here the past week? I'm not going to promise to go into more details later, since my record on that is pretty dismal, so this will be a long post. Time just flies, and my life isn't as boring as I'd like. Even if I get back to it later, I'll probably forget the details or think it happened months ago, when it really just happened the week before.

Ms. D had some meltdowns. Her special ed teacher told her she was special ed during the IEP meeting. Ms. D did not like that. It took awhile for me to explain about different levels of help and we were all just trying to help her be challenged but not overwhelmed. I don't think she bought into it, but the next disappointment was big enough to overshadow this one.

The next meltdown happened when Ms. D found out the high school on the island would not accept credits from our homeschool program. This "ruined her life!" My thought is that this just gives Ms. D more time to gain skills she needs to live on her own. Many kids with FASD need more time to mature and learn. Even typical eighteen year olds have difficulty being fully prepared for an adult life. However, I strongly suspect that Ms. D wants to move out and live with friends, on her own, or *gulp* with her birth family in San Jose as soon as she turns eighteen. If graduation is put off another year, she won't have a diploma when she flies, or crashes, out of the nest. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

And yes, there was another meltdown. It was time last week for Samurai, our guide dog puppy, to be puppy-sat by another member in our club. All guide dog puppies need times like that to learn new skills, get used to different handlers, and to have people with more experience evaluate the dogs and suggest modifications in training. Samurai needed some more experience in traffic situations, so the puppy sitter asked to watch him for a few more days. Ms. D exploded! She thought we were thinking of what was good for Samurai more than what was good for her. Actually, I think it was good for both of them. But it sure was tense around here for a few days.

Actually, I'm surprised we made it this past week. Mr. I had some school deadlines which were heavy on his mind. He would tell, not ask, me to help him and complain that he didn't know what to do. I'd try to figure out what was required, and then he'd yell at me that I was doing it wrong. It was getting to be a pretty stressful cycle until I just gave up and told him that I wasn't in class, so I don't know what they said. He needed to work harder than me on his homework. And guess what? He started to do his homework on his own! Of course, the school did put him in a homework help class last week, so much of the burden is off me now.

I've also been hormonal the past week. Perimenopause is not pleasant, especially with hormonal teens in the house. I know I haven't handled things as well as I could have, had I not been so exhausted, jumpy, and cranky myself. It's no wonder we got sick. Our immune systems were all out of whack. But we made it!

I hate to be negative for too long, so here's the positive:

My sister and her hubby sold their condo! They've been trying to sell it for a few years, and finally got a buyer. I don't know where they will end up next, but it will be good for them. She and her husband also visited us last Friday! We always love it when we can get together.

Blackbelt Daughter was able to visit Male Nurse Son and family in San Diego. I love to see the siblings visit each other and have good relationships!

I think we finally settled on a church. The kids complain that they don't like it, but it wasn't the first church they visited on the island. They get stuck on the first girlfriend of a sibling, first home, first church, first anything, and don't like new people until after at least a few months. So we are going to go ahead with the church we feel will be more accepting of them and will be a better fit for our family. Sometimes we have to make decisions for our kids that they don't like at first. We are such mean parents! We make them go to school. We make them go to church. Sigh!

Hubby and I went to a intro to the church dinner Sunday afternoon. People were so welcoming! I really do think it will be a good church for our family.

Mr. I admitted that he's beginning to like it here on the island. Of course he backpedaled a little bit after he realized he told it to me, one of the evil people who tore him from his friends and 'hood, but he did say it! I know the kids are generally happier and feel safer here. But it was nice to have slip out of his mouth what I suspected.

I couldn't do much else yesterday because of the gastroenteritis, so I started to crochet a blanket. This is the first handcraft that I've done since we moved, other than the two bright green, "insurance" hats I made during the football playoffs.

We had a contractor come in and see how we can get a bathroom in downstairs. It will make it better for guests when they stay here. It will take some time, since we will do it in steps, but we can do it as we have the money.

I read an awesome blog post that is challenging me. I'm thinking of printing it out and concentrating on a few of the things suggested at a time. I know I can't do all of it at once, some of the things I am already doing, but some things need to change ASAP!

Hubby and I went for a walk in Winslow Saturday and looked at galleries and handcrafted furniture stores. It was very inspiring! I think as soon as I get the rooms set up downstairs I'll start painting... and quilting...and knitting...and maybe even furniture making!

Samurai and the kids had awesome reunions after nearly a week of being apart! Cute puppy alert! Happy teen alert!

I love living here on Bainbridge! I am so amazed I live in a place like this! I am blessed!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Girls' Day Out

Ms. D and I went on a girls' day out Saturday. I didn't realize just how much we needed some time alone until after we spent the day together. 

First, we went to a guide dog puppy outing with Samurai. I thought we were going to the mall, but we spent most of the time outdoors, walking in and out of businesses and around town. Although we weren't quite dressed for the weather, our light sweatshirts weren't quite enough, the rain held off until after the meeting.

Afterwards, we went shopping. Samurai got a lot of practice inside stores and went with us when we had lunch. He got so tired, but did so well!

Since there isn't much variety of stores on our island, we had a lot of errands to run. Our last one was at Wally World. We left Samurai in the car, since he was napping. I'm glad we did, because of two surprises we had as we shopped.

The first surprise was in the parking lot. An elderly man stopped us and asked us if we heard about the frog. I knew that Bainbridge had a thing about frogs, and I wondered if there was some special frog that I hadn't heard about. You never know what to expect in a small town, especially one that caters to tourists. The man then told me this: There was a frog that went into the store and bought some flies. Frogs love flies. The checker then asked the frog, "Will that be cash or credit?" The frog replied, "Debit, debit!" Ms. D and I laughed and laughed! How many people get stopped in the middle of a parking lot and have someone tell them a joke?

Then when we went into the store and heard this:

Our day together was filled with surprises, shopping, and girl talk. I can't wait until the next time I can have a date with one of my kids.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Spring Ahead

Spring has come to the island this past week.

Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and we are slowly getting used to the time change.

I feel like we are in a spring season as a family. Yes, the rain still comes and some days are cloudy. Ms. D and Mr. I have days when they are having trouble adjusting to school. I miss my family and friends in California. I can't hop over to spend time with a friend who has cancer, or be with my older children when they need help. I tend to be more of an extrovert, so I get impatient with the slowness of making new friends. There is so much to do to get settled in and I get a bit overwhelmed at times.. 

On the other hand, we are happier here, even the teens. We are surrounded by so much beauty. The schools are helping our kids adjust. Ms. D is getting services we couldn't get in California. The kids are making friends in school. My kitchen, though a bit smaller, isn't falling apart. My fingers don't get pinched by drawers falling! We are catching up financially, despite all the moving expenses, since the cost of living is less. I have so much to be thankful for.

This is a new season in our lives. We had winter long enough. Now it's time to enjoy the flowers. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Family Visit

We had quite a few people in our family visit this past weekend. I absolutely loved seeing each one of them! One of my daughters came up from California for a few days, the grandparents came from Oregon, and my sister and her husband came over on the ferry and met us for dinner Friday night.

I wish I could have all those I love together with me all the time! But since that can't happen, I really enjoy it when I can give them a hug. Seeing and hearing my loved ones on the phone is good, but giving them a hug is awesome!

We took walks, ate together, and talked. Microbio Daughter did things with her little siblings and brought a peaceful calm to them.

I skipped a conference so that I could spend as much time as possible with my family. I know I made the best choice. Time with those I love is precious.