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.






Friend Visit

Last weekend a friend came to our home for a surprise visit! We focused on refreshing on relaxing.


At Fay Bainbridge Park

So we went to some beaches, hiked around the island. It rained on parts of the island while she was here, but not when we were outdoors!

Bloedel Reserve

http://www.bloedelreserve.org

Saw the movie, God's Not Dead,
Went to a spa for massages,

Waiting for the massage

http://www.clearwatercasino.com/spa/

Went to the farmer's market,
http://www.bainbridgefarmersmarket.org

And talked, and talked, and talked!


We had such a nice time! We rested, really rested! It was so good to be able to be with someone who understood!  K told me I need a friend up here. Is there anyone on the island that knows what life is like with kids with hidden disabilities, or even someone who will be able to take the chance to hear me out sometimes? Probably. But friendships take time. Life gets pretty lonely when I either hold stuff back or spill out too much. That's why it was so good K came. I miss her!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Graduation

One of my daughters graduated today with a BA degree.

My girl!

I'm so proud of her! Blackbelt Daughter has worked so hard to get her degree and work to support herself. Her days have been filled with schoolwork, tutoring, working for an educational research place, assisting one of her professors, and teaching taekwondo! Through all of this, she did well!

I'm sad to have had to miss her graduation, but I hope to be there in a couple of years when she gets her master's degree in education.

Her decorated cap
She's not the only one in our family to graduate this week. Blackbelt Daughter's boyfriend graduated as well with an art degree.

Photo by Ezra Gordon
Also one of my daughters in love will be graduating with a degree in respiratory therapy.

So many graduations! I'm proud of them all! Congratulations, Scholars!

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Blessing at the Right Time

Yesterday started rough.

One child was sick from drinking water from a pipe near the beach. My child was thirsty, the dog drank the water, it looked clean, and it tasted really good! We don't know where the water came from. We don't know what kind of things were in the water. I'm hoping there wasn't giardia. Those things are cute under the microscope but not so cute in the belly. Did the heavy rains the day before flush the water clean, or bring more microbes to that pipe? I don't know, but a day or so later, my child started to have intestinal problems.

People with FAS often have a hard time generalizing and decision making. I need to teach the kids every little thing, even in their teenage years. No, you can't flush a wad of duct tape down the toilet. Just because water looks clean and tastes really good doesn't mean that it is clean. A stranger is someone who mom or dad doesn't know their name, address, and phone number. So even if you saw someone at the school or park before, that person is still a stranger and you can't get in their car. The list of things to teach is endless, and I'm often caught be surprise when my kids do something so oblivious. I sometimes forget and ask them why. They don't know why. I don't know why. No one knows why. So why do I ask them?

I also got called into the principal's office. I have a hard time being called to the principals office, even if it's my child who didn't follow directions, kept sliding on someone's spilled drink and was disrespectful to authorities trying to keep kids from breaking their necks. I told the principal that the consequences were appropriate, but did my child swear at him? No? Yay! That means my child had some kind of control and wasn't completely wacky! I'm sorry for what happened, but something like this may happen again. This is an explanation, not an excuse, but kids that have been exposed to alcohol prenatally don't make good decisions and sometimes get stuck doing something stupid, over, and over, and over. But a couple of days of detention will be good for my kid.  It may help my kid to think about things before acting, but probably not. Sorry!

I was anxious yesterday. I just found doctors the day before and I already took both kids in for illnesses. I was worried for the kids. As soon as I was done with the school, the doctor, and picking up something for dinner, I had to drop our guide dog puppy off at a puppy sitter's for two weeks. Sick kids, school problems, a testing schedule at school, a stressful separation from the puppy were all possible triggers for a crisis. I noticed my heart pounded as I waited in the doctor's office. Would I be able to handle two kids melting down at the same time? I doubted it!

But then I came home to some beautiful flowers from two of my daughters! The timing was perfect!


I went to a church meeting and chatted with a woman who works with teenaged foster kids. I was able to laugh about my crazy life with someone who understood!

Hubby was kind and supportive.

And the kids didn't have a meltdown after all. Well, one kid had one, but is was small, short lived, and away from me. At least I hope it was short lived and small. Otherwise I'd feel sorry for the school employees.

I didn't think I could make it through yesterday, but is wasn't as bad as I feared. I suppose that's how many of life's challenges are. The mountain may look pretty formidable, and probably is, but it can be climbed one step at a time. If I count the blessings along the way, I'll get a lot farther than if I just look at my shortcomings and obstacles.  I know that people and God have my back and that I'll have what I need to keep going.  And sometimes things like flowers, prayers, and kind words come to encourage me just when I think I can't go any farther. Thanks everyone!

Monday, May 5, 2014

My Friend in Heaven

My Friend, Carol, just made the passage to heaven this weekend.

Carol with her daughter
Carol and her family were in our homeschool group in California. She left three children, her husband, family, and friends too early.

Carol came down with cancer a few years ago. She, like many moms, was so busy taking care of her family that she put off taking care of herself. She reminded us to get our mammograms, to get checkups, and to live life fully. She had a bucket list and took trips with her family to enjoy what days she had left.

Although her body was weak, Carol participated in mud runs with her friends, daughter, and family. She did this one while she was getting chemotherapy treatment, and completed the course!

Carol's friends and family at the mud run!

I put up a hummingbird feeder a few weeks ago to remind myself to pray for her and her family. She loved hummingbirds, her flower garden, and bright colors. Though her death is hard for me because she's my first close friend who was my age to pass on, I know that she is now able to enjoy the beauty in heaven.