Monday, April 30, 2012

Continuous Bias Binding for Quilting

Quilting Geek Alert!

I found a video today on a different way to make continuous bias binding for quilts. I love this idea, and will probably use it for my next quilt.

I think I'll have to start on my next quilt soon to try it out!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Guide Dog Puppy Training

Hubby took Ms. D to a guide dog puppy training today. If anyone knows Hubby, you can understand that even the thought of having a puppy in our house is a miracle. Of course, he knows how important guide dogs are to people. We have a friend who is blind who just found out he couldn't have one. There just aren't enough dogs to fill the needs. So Hubby thought that if Ms. D will take care of the puppy, go to the trainings, do what it takes to get approved, and give it back to the organization when it is time, then she can do it. Of course Ms. D is so good with dogs, I think she will do a good job.

So today they went to the first training. There were about a dozen puppies, people who trained, and a blind lady who explained things as well. As soon as Ms. D arrived, someone handed her a puppy to learn how to train during the class. Ms. D is a happy girl today!

Keeping My Head Up

The last few days I've been a bit discouraged at times. When the kids are dysregulated, or act out in public places, I still feel like I've not done a good enough job in raising them. And since being a wife and mother is my career, I take it personally. I make mistakes, a lot of them, and raising kids with FASD and past trauma isn't easy. Add to that the normal angst of adolescence, and you get the terrifying roller coaster that is our lives.

One minute my kids are hugging me and are attached, the next they flinch when I touch them. One minute they are calm and happy, the next they are raging, or sulking, or telling me they want to move in with their birth dad as soon as they hit eighteen. One minute one of them is listening to Christian music on the radio, the next minute the same child declares she doesn't believe in God. One minute a child is mocking Hubby, the next he is happily engaged with him on some project. Sometimes I know what triggers their behaviors right away, sometimes I figure it out later, and other times I am completely in the dark. It's all so complex.

I was feeling pretty discouraged yesterday when we went to a larger gathering of house churches in our network. The kids hadn't gone to the larger gathering for a while, so they were pretty dysregulated for the first part of the time. I was a bit embarrassed by their sulking and bad looks to me, and judged myself as being a bad mother for letting my kids act that way. It really got me down. Fortunately, the kids warmed up after awhile, and the message could have been spoken specifically to me. My worth as a person really shouldn't be wrapped up in the behaviors of others. My worth comes from God, not from what I do, what others say about me, or how my kids turn out. I need to do my best, but not feel like I'm a failure if my kids make bad choices. I need to be faithful in whatever God gives to me, keep my head up, and not worry about the outcome.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Do I *Have* To?

I'm such a mean mom!

My kids have the coolest opportunity to have ten lessons on horses and riding starting next week. They will learn about horses, how to take care of them, and even get to ride on the final three lessons. Today was the intro meeting. If you saw them there, you'd think I was taking them to be tortured. Actually, if you saw them earlier today, you'd think the same. They kept asking me if they had to go to the horse classes. I kept saying yes. They had to go. Even the woman from the intro meeting noticed their behavior and asked me if they wanted to do this. I told her that they do this with everything new. It's sad, but true. They would have a fit about going to Disneyland! It's interesting how stressed out kids from hard places become when they are anticipating a change of routine, even if it's something fun. Maybe especially if it is something fun. RAD can be so confusing!  When we first got the kids, Ms. D would scream every time we went to a happy place, the store, a park, or even an amusement park. Because she'd scream that I'm not her mommy, I kept some foster paperwork with me at all times. I was worried someone would call the police, though no one ever did. I've learned to try to keep things routine, because they just can't handle changes very well.

Mr. I has been having a difficult time with change lately. Spring break was difficult. In anticipation of this class, he fussed much of the morning. By lunch time, he didn't want to be near me and I was in tears. Fortunately I was able to pull it together while he played outside. On the way home from the meeting he started to rage, but I told him to control himself because the rain made it hard to drive. He said he couldn't, but he did! He calmed himself, asked to see a therapist because he "had anger management", and wanted to know if Hubby or I can go to the class with them. Later he asked to watch a movie with me next to him and Hubby joined us. By bedtime, he was attached to Hubby and me. What a difference from this morning!

So this is one of those times that I'm having to make the kids do something they don't want to do. It's not fun for any of us, but I know they'll like it once they get used to it. The classes will be at a regular time for a month, so hopefully they'll see it as routine. Mr. I loves horses and Ms. D loves animals. It will really be good for them, no matter what they say now. So I'm being a mean mom and making them go. Yes, they have to go!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Extending Grace to Others

When people hurt me, my first response is usually to become shocked, angry, and a desire to get back at that person in some way. You hit me, I hit you back, is the way toddlers fighting over a toy deal with conflict. And it's not limited to young children. Wars have been fought, divorces and relationship breaks happen, and neighbors squabble.

Of  course, when Jesus came on the scene, He taught us to change this kind of behavior. Love your neighbor as yourself, forgive seventy times seven, and bless those that persecute you. This is not typical human behavior, and no matter how hard I try to do it, I just don't have the strength sometimes. I'm so thankful that I can ask God to help me, because without His help, I'd be like the little toddlers slapping each other silly!

Lately, it seems like God has been giving me a lot of practice in showing grace, or blessing those who hurt me. When my kids rage or are dysregulated, I have a choice to either get all angry and lash out, or calmly wait until the storm is over before I guide them to a better way of handling their fear or anger. Guess which way works better in helping them to act more socially correct? Kids with RAD often lash out at the mother figure. It's not easy to react with love, peace, and playfulness when a kid is throwing things at you, hitting, or yelling profanities. Now, my kids have outgrown some of the most difficult behaviors, and the rages are a lot less frequent, but I still have plenty of opportunity to practice grace.

I had a chance to show grace today with Birthmom. I have plenty of reasons to lash out at her. She pickled the kids' brains, neglected them, and kept them in an abusive situation. Unless God heals, they have mental and behavioral scars that will last the rest of their lives. They've had to work so hard to overcome things that children should never have to worry about. When we first got the kids, Birthmom called CPS on us, saying I beat the kids up. Actually, I was the one with bruises! We then had an inspector coming to our house, which still gets my heart going after all these years. And lately she hasn't wanted much contact with the kids, even though she had raised their hopes. I could try to retaliate.  But nothing can make up for the heartache the kids, our family, and I have had to go through because of the choices Birthmom has made. It's sad. Really sad.

So today I brought some bread over to bless Birthmom and the family during a surprise visit. The kids got to see her and there were hugs all around. It's interesting how, when I bless someone who has hurt me, my heart changes and I feel love towards that person. I still have boundaries. I can't be stupid about trusting someone who isn't trustworthy, but the love is there. And when I show love to someone who doesn't deserve it, I'm better able to receive God's love. Because after all, I don't deserve His love either. I fall so short. But He loves me anyway.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Honeybee Swarm!

A neighbor came to us today to tell us that she had a swarm of bees in a box behind her house. Hubby went right over and collected them. Hopefully the buzzy girls will like their new home.
Putting a Frame of Honey in the Box to Attract the Bees

The Swarm Was in the Green Box Under the Board

A Nice Big Swarm

Bees in the Box

The Leftover Bees Still on the Board
Hubby put a post on a board at work to see if anyone would like a hive at their house. We want to keep our beekeeping legal, and so we are limited to two hives in our city. It's amazing how in a few hours, a number of people are interested in having a hive at their home, but don't want to bother with a new hobby. I didn't realize so many people would want bees in their gardens, but bees are so good for pollination. I guess I'm not the only crazy one around!

Hubby's Friend Jimmy Was Murdered This Week

While visiting Cane Creek and Bankakut in Rama Territory, Nicaragua last summer, Hubby met a man named Jimmy. We got word yesterday that Jimmy was murdered on his farm this week. The Rama people are an indigenous tribe that has land set aside for them in Nicaragua's eastern coast. There has been a number of Hispanic people who have illegally encroached on their territory and cause problems for the Rama and the environment. The Hispanics have been known to steal cattle and not treat the land well. And now there is strong suspicion that one of them killed Jimmy.

Jimmy leaves behind a wife and five children who are in their teens and twenties. Hubby is hoping that one of Jimmy's children will continue to farm, but there is so much fear. Jimmy was one of the leaders of the Cane Creek area and welcomed Hubby when he visited. They had great talks and got to know each other then. Hubby was hoping to help Jimmy to find a USA market for the chocolate he grew on about five acres. Hubby has been greatly saddened by this. He's hoping to help Jimmy's family through his non-profit.

Jimmy Harvesting Chocolate

Jimmy in a Rama House

Friday, April 20, 2012

Moms Get Pulled in All Sorts of Directions!

Today the plan was for me to go to a homeschool conference. I would attend learn about leadership, help a friend with her workshop, and later be joined by the rest of my darling family. We would learn, enjoy sweet fellowship with other home schoolers, and try to not spend too much on curriculum. Good plan.

Do you want to know what really happened?

I drove in rush hour traffic to the conference. I saw an almost accident right beside me. A car had to stop quickly in traffic right next to me because his lane stopped suddenly. It was a good thing that I kept going because he skidded 90 degrees, sticking out into both lanes beside him. No one got bumped. It was pretty impressive.

I was able to attend the first half of the homeschool leadership conference. Then at the lunch break I got a message from hubby that Ms. D finally woke up and was having pseudo-seizures. She had a sore throat for two or three days, but there were no spots or white patches so I just waited and watched. But the combo of a sore throat, fever, cramps, and seizures were more than the rest of the family could handle, so I went home to make a doctor appointment for her. She had another seizure while I was home before we had to leave. Hubby went with us to the doctor because, one, I didn't think I could carry all 100 lbs. of Ms. D if she had another seizure, and two, I planned to go back to the conference to fulfill my promise to help out at my friend's workshop. Ms. D had a hard time at the doctor's so I ended up staying the whole time, thus missing my obligation to the conference. I hope they understand.

So I'm going to stay home the rest of the day. I need to practice being a better homeschool mom instead of learning how to be a better homeschool mom. Maybe I'll be able to go tomorrow if my older daughters can hang around and help her. But right now, Ms. D is needing her mommy.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Summer Haircut and a Sweat Shirt?

Today I gave Mr. I a summer faux hawk haircut. I would have liked to shorten the top a bit more so he could spike it better, but he wanted the top long. But it really doesn't matter too much. Since I cut it myself, we can play around with it without guilt of wasting close to $20 each time he changes his mind.

Do you notice he's wearing a sweatshirt? It got close to 80 degrees today, yet he insisted he wasn't too hot to wear it, even in the middle of the day. He just got the sweatshirt a couple of weeks ago, so in a way I can see his excitement. But I did ask him a couple of times if it wasn't too hot for him to wear it. He insisted he was comfortable. I know he's twelve, but he over responds to some sensory stimuli and under responds to others. Sometimes he gets thirst, hunger, constipation, and overstimulation mixed up. I want him to learn to dress for the weather and have more independence. Fortunately we live in CA, where the temperature is fairly moderate. But what will we do the next few days when the temperature is supposed to be over 90? I watched  a kindergartener across the street yesterday. He brought home a silly book about Uncle Ugby, who can't dress for the weather. In the summer he wears leather and in the winter he goes out in his underwear. I rolled my eyes a bit because Uncle Ugby sounds just like Mr. I!

Advocate or Enabler?

When you have a child who has one or more hidden disabilities, you find out that you have to work harder than you expected to advocate for your child. A lot harder!

People look at others in preconceived ways. In some ways it's part of the human condition, and a way we can quickly decide how to relate to someone before we get to know them. Some of those boxes we put people in are valid and keep us safe. I've done it myself. I've locked my car doors in a high crime neighborhood when I saw a group of young guys hanging on the side of the road by a stop light. I've told my young children that if they ever got separated from me and are lost, go to a mom with kids, a police officer, or if in a store, to a worker at the checkout counter.

Unfortunately, these boxes we put people in are not perfect. We judge people on the color of their skin. There are pedophiles out there who seem like nice guys in the neighborhood. People expect our kids to be able to do things they just aren't mentally and emotionally able to handle.

I can't tell you how many times educators, doctors, and others criticized me or my kids because they don't "look" a certain way. They thought the way I handled discipline, homework, rages, or whatever else was wrong because they had put my kids in a certain box that just didn't fit. I've had a few educators who were supposed to be special ed experts tell me that Ms. D didn't "look learning disabled", and wasn't far enough behind in school to even test her. What does "looking learning disabled" mean? They thought the problem was we weren't practicing the homework enough, or not reading to her enough, or not doing something, because otherwise she'd do better. It was Ms. D's work ethic and my fault she was struggling. Later we found out her IQ is pretty low. That's why she struggled! They had thought I was an enabler when I was trying my best to be an advocate.

When Ms. D was in the hospital with the pseudo seizures, I told the neurologist that Ms. D was diagnosed  with FAS and that might be a cause of the problem. He looked at me and said, "She doesn't look FAS." I told him that some of the FAS features fade a bit after puberty. I didn't tell him, but I was wondering if his extent of knowledge of FASD is a textbook picture of a white kid with FAS. I really don't make up the FASD label to get more attention, because I'm lazy, or to let my kids get away with things. I do it to help my kids to grow and to change their environment, so that they can better relate to the world.

It takes a lot of energy to advocate for my children. Sometimes I make good decisions that don't make sense to others. Sometimes I make mistakes. Sometimes I second guess myself. Parenting a child with a hidden disability is difficult, not just because of the problems we have to overcome or work around, but its difficult because others have unrealistic expectations of your child. People wouldn't think of criticizing a child with Down Syndrome if that child couldn't do a school task. Yet my daughter has a similar IQ, and people still expect her to be at grade level because she looks so "normal". My son, who isn't as quite as affected prenatally by alcohol, has emotional, sensory, and regulation problems. Mix that with RAD and past trauma, and we find ourselves in situations that others just don't understand. I have to parent him and his sister differently than I had my other kids. I let some things slide. Other times it's more important for me to calm them before any discussion of their actions happens. Sometimes I have to ask myself if I'm being an enabler, or an advocate. It's pretty confusing, and I know my kids!

Sometimes I wish the world would look at my kids the way God looks at them. Sometimes I wish I'd do the same! In the meantime, I need to learn how to be a better advocate for my children, for people with FASD, and for others with disabilities that are hidden and don't fit in people's preconceived boxes. Because when we understand the roots, and help others to understand, then we can help our children to grow to be the kind of people God intended for them to be.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

New Store Anxiety

This evening Hubby went to his class, we were out of milk, and a new Walmart opened in town. So I got the great idea of taking an exploratory expedition with Microbio daughter and the kiddos. Sounds fun, right?

This did not sit well with Mr. I when I told him the plans as he walked in the door. First he didn't want to go. Then he did. When I told Mr. I to eat something before we left, he said he wasn't hungry. Then as I got my jacket, he said he needed to eat something first. Instead of eating the homemade chicken pot pie I made for supper, he wanted leftovers. I told him that was OK, but after I said that, guess what? He wanted to eat what we ate. Then he said he didn't want to go with us to the store.

Do you see a pattern here?

At this point I told Mr. I he had no more choice. He had to go with us. So on the way to the store, his leg started to itch. He yelled that his leg was too itchy and he had to go home. Now! I had Ms. D pass some lotion back to Mr. I for his leg. No, he didn't want lotion, he had to go home, now, to take a shower. He was scratching his leg so hard by this time, he didn't complain that it itched. Now it hurt. Bad! He wanted to go home! Couldn't I understand? 

I understood. Mr. I was afraid to go to a new store with me. He would never admit it, but he was. 

Fortunately, everything went well. The signs were the same. The products were the same. We found a $5 DVD of 25 John Wayne movies. Mr. I loves John Wayne movies. As we were looking in the bin, an older man told us a corny joke about a man who lost his left arm and left leg, but everything was all right. Mr. I laughed. And he survived. 

Nothing bad happened at the new store.

Bees Don't Like Helicopters!

I found out today that bees don't like helicopters.

It makes sense, because the veteran beekeepers, including Hubby, always say that you don't mess with the bees if someone is mowing a lawn nearby. I guess to a bee, the thwump, thwump of a helicopter sounds just like the sound of lawn mower!

I was hanging my clothes outside, when I noticed a helicopter circling above. Soon after, a bee started dive bombing me. Normally those little girls are so gentle, but this one was really mad! So I went inside for a few minutes to let her cool off. But the half filled clothes basket and a few weeds were drawing me back, and I didn't wait for the helicopter to leave. That was a big mistake because the bee started after me again and got caught in my hair. I brushed it off, but she stung me on my forearm. I immediately scraped the stinger off with my fingernail, but I also had a handful of blackberry brambles. I scratched myself with those when I was scraping the stinger out. I then went into the house, put some ice on the sting, and then some baking soda paste. It really worked! The pain went away, and I actually have larger welts from the blackberries than I do from the sting!

Blackberry Scratches and a Round Bee Sting
So I learned something today. A few things, actually. If someone is mowing or if there is a helicopter, don't get impatient. Stay away from the bees until after that awful noise stops. Another thing, scraping the stinger out with your fingernail works well, and it keeps the poison from getting into you. But if you are holding blackberry brambles, drop them first! Also, ice and baking soda paste work well to keep the swelling down. I've heard using meat tenderizer is good too, but I don't have it.

Speaking of learning about insects, the field bug guy came by again to check the traps in our citrus trees. I talked to him a bit about the insects in our garden, about his job, and how he's been collecting bugs since he was a kid. I wish my kids were not as shy around people I want them to meet. It would have been good for them to learn a little about entomology. It's puzzling how they will bring a scruffy looking 18 year old into our house that says he is a relative on their birth family's side, yet they won't come out to our front yard with me and talk to an entomologist that can teach them something. It's not like I'm leaving them alone with a stranger!

Sometimes I think the bees are more predictable!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Importance of Support

I went to my homeschool moms' group this evening.  I specifically picked this one because so many of us have kids with special needs. Because of this there isn't the subtle competition to outdo your neighbor, as there had been in other groups.  No, in this group, women are real. We are transparent. My kids and I aren't shunned because they may rage, or say or do something inappropriate. We can love and be loved unconditionally. Encouragement and prayer are given and received. Advice is handed out with humility, and permission is given to not follow that advice if it doesn't work for your family. And though we all have kids in different places academically, spiritually, and psychologically, I see I'm not alone. Some of the kids in our group are gifted, and some struggle, but they are all accepted. There is the recognition that none of us is perfect, and we are all growing.

So tonight I was able to tell of last week's struggles, the rages, pseudo seizures, and even the playing with fire incident I didn't write about here until now. I was also able to hear of other women's struggles that reminded me I'm not the center of the universe. It's so easy, when I'm in the midst of a crisis, to think that I'm the only one who is struggling. But a pity party of one is not fun!

I also love my group because those who aren't struggling now, have struggled in the past. I think that's where the humility comes from. They are an encouragement to me to keep looking to God, and press on to finish the race. There is hope. There is peace. There is joy.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What Would I Do Without Them?!

What would I do without the support of my family?

Last night really knocked the wind out of me emotionally. Today I was pretty useless. I read half of a book, The Secret Piano: From Mao's Labor Camps to Bach's Goldberg Variations. I did a little housework. I tried to spend a little time with each of the little ones. Mr. I had a football practice. I dropped him off, but he didn't want me to wait around to watch it like last week and arranged for a friend's mom to take them home. I did take him shopping for some socks, but he was a bit detached and wanted to play with friends right after I got him lunch. The same with Ms. D. Her heart wasn't into spending too much time with me. I just didn't have the energy to actively bring either one of them to a healthy attachment with me today. I even cried when I was alone on the way home from dropping Mr. I off at football. The kids probably sensed my weariness.

So when I got home from taking Ms. D shopping, I gave Microbio Daughter some lunch money and asked her to take Ms. D out. Anywhere. And it was wonderful. She took her to a park and Ms. D loved the geese, herons, and dogs. Ms. D named one of the geese Beauty. She told Microbio daughter that when she has kids, she's going to make them walk more. This shows me she had fun, because she is usually so reluctant to walk without a dog at the other end of a leash.

Ms. D befriending the geese. 

Sorry for the sideways picture. Someday I'll learn how to rotate!
Then they went out for lunch and went shopping at the mall. I do not like the mall, and am so glad that they did it together. Ms. D was much more attached when she came back from the sister time. I don't know what I would have done without Microbio daughter. She was able to do what I couldn't today.

Hubby was awesome today too. This morning he delivered bread to a few churches in the area. Some had ways to distribute the bread easily, and so it worked out really well for us that we got a van load yesterday. Hubby wasn't able to get his homework until late Friday evening and it was due early this evening for a class he is taking. We had church at our house last night, and so he didn't have that much time to work on it. He also had a Skype meeting to do some work for a side business. Then he got a call from work. The storm Thursday night knocked the power out and today when they got power back, the computer systems were messed up. Hubby needed to help in some way. Don't ask me what he had to do, it's all Geek to me, but it took time also. Then our neighbor came to our door. There were some honey bees going into his attic through a ventilation hole and were starting to congregate by his front door. Hubby geared up in his bee suit, crawled into their hot attic, and found out the bees were just scouts from a swarm. All he had to do was plug the holes and the rest of them left. My Hubby is just awesome! He was a Superman today in so many ways!

My grandson was also over this afternoon for a few hours, which I really enjoy. As he and my kids came in, I accidentally bumped an almost empty jar of olive oil, and a full jar of fig jam. The glass shattered all over my ceramic kitchen floor. My son and daughter in law helped me sweep and wash the floor. I wasn't doing a very good job, and slightly cut my hand twice. You'd think I'd be smarter about that kind of thing, but I was just so out of it today. Fortunately the rest of the night went smoothly.

Tomorrow is the first Monday after Spring Break. I have a dentist appointment in the middle of the morning. I'm also hoping that the kids and I will be able to start schoolwork and settle back into a schedule. It will be interesting to see how this transition goes. I won't have Hubby or the older kids to help me like they've helped me this weekend. But I'm thankful for all their support. I really couldn't do it all without them!

Can We Get Any More Dramatic?

Today we had church at our house. While people were coming in, Mr. I decided to take revenge on a twenty something year old drugged out neighbor who pushed him a few weeks ago. So he went to the kitchen, took some eggs, and lobbed the eggs at the back of the guy's house while jumping on the trampoline. The guy's parents came over and started yelling at Hubby about the kids. Mr. I denied doing it, of course, but there were eggs missing in the refrigerator. Mr. I escalated and started yelling at Hubby, which might be a first. He almost always saved his rages for when he was alone with me and Ms. D. When Hubby grabbed Mr. I's shoulder to get his attention, Ms. D, who was keeping her eye on the situation, completely freaked out. Most sisters would secretly be glad their brother was getting in trouble, but Ms. D really over reacted. She started shouting, slamming doors, throwing up, and then passing out in the bathroom and pseudo seizing. All of this happened while we had about a dozen people here for a church meeting, including another neighbor. I guess now the people in the church know first hand what I mean when I tell them my kids rage, seize, or freak out.

When I saw Ms. D passed out in the bathroom, I picked her up and took her to a lady who was sitting in the family room. I asked her to pray for Ms. D. My friend is a therapist who I knew would understand and not be frightened by her shaking, and I was in still shock from everything that was happening. I also needed to comfort Mr. I, who was calming down and feeling really bad about causing such drama. He's usually pretty disturbed when she seizes, and this time his actions started the whole thing. I'm so glad people prayed in the other room while everything was happening. She shook for quite a while, about half an hour. Finally, Mr. I confessed to Hubby and they hugged and reconciled. He then went to Ms. D, told her he was fine, and comforted her. When she came to, Ms. D and Mr. I were kind and loving to each other, to Hubby and I, and to the rest of the people here.

I'm still a bit frazzled and shaky, so I think it would be good to think on the good that came out of this.

1. Mr. I learned that taking revenge isn't the best way to handle injustice and his anger.
2. He should talk to us if something like this happens again. He was afraid that if he told us that the guy pushed him and we confronted the guy, we would cause him to take it out on Mr. I in some way. Mr. I was really afraid the guy and his friends would jump him. And egging the guy's house and angering the parents wouldn't do that?
3. The people in the church understand a little better what we have to deal with. I'm not exaggerating. I'm not making things up. They got to see what Ms. D's seizures are like and their effect on Mr. I. We aren't perfect. Hubby also understands what it's like when Mr. I rages.
4. Fortunately, Mr. I's rages aren't frequent. But we've had two in one week, which is a cause for concern.
5. Ms. D's pseudo seizures are less frequent, and I can add another trigger to the list.
6. I didn't have to deal with this situation alone. I had my friend there to help me with Ms. D while I was trying to help Mr. I. She also understood that Ms. D wasn't just reacting to what happened tonight, but she was reacting to what happened when she was little. Other people encouraged Mr. I after he confessed.
7. Hubby really did a good job of reconciling with Mr. I.  I didn't realize until now how frightening it was for Hubby to see Mr. I rage. Hubby understands.
8.My kids feel loved, not rejected. The kids seem to be even better attached after this situation, rather than cutting us off. We had lots of hugging time this evening after people calmed down.
9. My church friends know better how to pray for us.
10. Hubby finally got to meet the guy's parents. This isn't the first time we've had problems with the guy, he tried to pick up on Ms. D when she was 11, but it will be good to have an excuse to get to know them better. I won't have the kids interact with them, given the guy's behavior toward Ms. D and his history of supplying the neighborhood kids with drugs, but maybe Hubby can take them some cookies or something and let them know we talked to Mr. I and he won't egg their house again. Sometimes these crazy situations turn out good. It may not, but we can try.
11. Mr. I and Ms. D did a clapping game after the drama. It's interesting how they, without prompting, did an attachment exercise. I think it helped them to get their bearings in some way.
12. I really, really, need God to get me through these next few years. And God is big enough to handle it.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sometimes They Surprise Me

Sometimes my kids surprise me.

I think they are doing well, and they come up with odd behaviors and regress. Then when I think they aren't doing well, they surprise me with maturity.

Mr. I had a really hard time the other day when he was anticipating a science night at Hubby's work. I can't tell you how exhausted I was after a day of rages and dysregulation. Maybe that lady on Obama's team who criticized stay at home mothers should spend a day or two in my shoes. I don't think anyone would be able to pay her enough to do what I do for no pay! But back to the topic. Mr. I had a really hard time with a changed schedule and a relatively unknown event.

Last night I let him stay over night at a friend's house again. This friend is pretty calm and laid back, and they both do better together than when they are apart. But I was pretty worried when about midnight a thunderstorm came by. I prayed that the electricity wouldn't go out, since that is one of the triggers that has caused fear and dysregulation for both of the kids in the past. My older kids always thought it was pretty fun to light candles and bring out the flashlights. But the electricity was turned off for at least a few days before the little ones were taken from their birth family, so it makes sense that it would be a trigger for fear. Fortunately, we didn't lose power, but I thought that I'd get a call from Mr. I because of the thunder. The kids aren't used to thunder here in California. But he didn't! He stayed at his friend's all night and told me he thought the storm wasn't that bad. Whew!

Then tonight, Hubby and Microbio Daughter went to Stanford to see Heidi Baker, a missionary from Mozambique. My kids have seen a video of her ministry to the orphans and poor. I kind of wanted to go, but I thought the kids would have a hard time and I didn't have the energy for two days of dysregulation in one week. I have no idea how I handled it when the kids first came and there were rages or odd behaviors every few minutes. Those kind of days wipe me out now! I'm glad the kids have healed as much as they have and those times are rare. Maybe it's harder to handle because we have so many good days. Maybe it's because I'm a bit older!

When Mr. I came home from playing with friends tonight, he asked where Hubby was. I told him that Hubby was with Microbio Daughter to see Heidi Baker, and Mr. I asked, "Is she the one with all those kids? I want to go see her too." Unfortunately, the meeting had already started, but I am so impressed that Mr. I would want to see a missionary so badly. Maybe it's because, in the video, he saw her love for kids without parents, and he relates to those kids in some way. Maybe it's because Mr. I really has a lot of compassion, just like Ms. D and others in the birth family. Sometimes I like to remind the kids of the good things they inherited from the birth family, and the love and compassion they have for others is easy to spot. That compassion is just a bit buried by the hard lives the family has gone through. But it's there. And I try to encourage that in the kids and build up their birth mom by reminding her of that compassion.

When one of the kids is having a good day, sometimes the other one surprises me with something not so good. Today, when Photography son was here, Ms. D got a call from her older brother's girlfriend. She wanted Ms. D to come over to her place and hang out. Fortunately, Hubby told Ms. D no, because we don't know her family very well. She could come here, but Ms. D couldn't go there.  Ms. D was a bit disappointed, but that's OK. We need to keep her safe and only let them be with the birth family when we are with them.

So because of Ms. D, I'm glad I chose to stay home tonight. A quiet night watching The Voice with her seemed to cheer her up. Sometimes I can head off bad surprises by keeping things calm and peaceful. Other times they are totally unexpected, and it takes a bit for me to get over my shock and realize what just happened! One thing is good though. God is not surprised by anything my kids do!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Ha! They Had Fun After All!

After yesterday's drama about not wanting to go to the SLAC kids' night, Mr. I and Ms. D enjoyed themselves! They came home happy, attached, and even told me their favorite parts of the night. They both liked the 3D simulation of the universe. The stars seemed to swoosh right by their heads. I don't know if they learned much about dark matter, but they certainly have a greater awe of creation! Mr. I was worried beforehand that the lecture on the laser imaging of fossils would be dull, but he said he really liked it. Ms. D told me about how she learned that flamingos are only pink because of the shellfish they eat, and that they fade if they don't get the right food. Hubby told me that scientists are close to discovering the colors of fossilized birds by using a laser to find the trace elements found in the fossils. They also measured the width of their hair and ate ice cream made by pouring liquid nitrogen into the ingredients and stirring.

Of course, Hubby said that it took the kids a while to settle in and relax. Ms. D had a time where she got overwhelmed by the crowds and asked to step out for a minute. But they were happy and involved for the last half of the night. I'm glad they went. It really wasn't that bad!

One of Hubby's Coworker's Family Measuring Their Hair Width

Astronomer Graffiti is Written All Over the Building

Making Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream

Doesn't it Look Good?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Just a Little Reminder!

Today I have just a little reminder that Mr. I has special needs too. Things have been going more or less smoothly. All I had to do was halve his age to get his emotional age and go from there. I just think of him as being younger, which helps when he has fears and behaviors that are more in line with a 6-8 year old, instead of a 12 year old. I'd worry about a 12 year old who can't go to a certain room of a house or is afraid of the dark if the curtains are slightly open, but it's understandable for a 6 year old to have those kind of fears. I don't get as frustrated, he is calmer, and all is well...

...Until we do something like "make" him and Ms. D go to a science night at Hubby's work. Today we did just that. We prepared him ahead of time, telling him a couple of days in advance the plans for this evening. He has gone to events at Stanford before, and seemed to enjoy some of them, especially the ones oriented towards children. I am thrilled to get an evening off and have them do a little science for their schoolwork. But this isn't what we normally do on a Wednesday night. And additionally, we are in the middle of spring break, kids coming to our house, our kids going to their friends' houses. Mr. I slept over night at a friends last night and the probable lack of sleep didn't help matters either. This combination of disrupted schedules, hyper stimulation, and a lack of sleep is not very good for a kid who is on the edge already because of past trauma and FASD.

So today Mr. I had a full on rage in the van while we went grocery shopping. He hasn't had one of these in ages! He started simmering this morning and didn't want to go anywhere with me. I did not trust him to be home alone in this state, so I had him come. I got the "look". Then when we were driving, Ms. D rode shotgun while Mr. I slouched in the back of the van, as far as he could get away from me and still be in a seatbelt. While I drive, the person in shotgun gets to pick the music. And Ms. D found Justin Bieber. Like many young teens, she really likes him. *Big sigh*. The problem was that Mr. I does not share the same taste in music. He does not like Justin Bieber. At all. So Mr. I yelled to shut the music off. Now! Did I shut the music off? No. So Mr. I escalated. He kicked. He punched the window. He screamed to the passing cars that I was kidnapping him. He did show some self control though. When he tore the headrest off the seat in front of him, he threw it at the back of my seat instead of my head. Progress!

Because of the rain, I needed to ignore the excitement and concentrate on driving. I smiled. Did you know that when you smile, your brain follows your facial muscles? Try it. A happy face can bring happy thoughts, well, most of the time. I asked Ms. D, "How am I doing?". She smiled and said good.

We left Mr. I in the car at the farm stand, but he pulled himself together and joined us. When we got home, I didn't mention the rage. He was a bit dysregulated, but not too bad. He couldn't decide what to eat. So I left him alone. After a little while he asked if I could sit down and watch "The Blind Side" with him. We ate popcorn and he fell asleep on my lap. Mr. I did much better. But just before the time to go with Hubby, the county called with information on a horse program. I am going to *make* the kids go to that too. They weren't happy about that. So we'll see how things go tonight. They'll probably have a lot of fun once they get their bearings and calm down.

Even if they don't have fun, I will.  If I just enjoy how I handled Mr. I's rage today with peace and love, rather than with frustration and anger, it will be a good evening. But I think I'll get a few things done around the house, which will help me feel more at peace. Maybe I'll even crank up the music. I can't believe I'm the only one here! I'm riding shotgun in the house, God is in the driver's seat, and I can assure you, there will NOT be any Justin Bieber songs playing in here this evening!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Some Family Pictures

Photography Son sent some pictures of our bowling outing the other day. The lighting in the bowling alley was horrible for pictures, so I was surprised that we got some good ones out of it. There were colored lights, it was dim, and the shadows cast were sharp. If my son can get some decent pictures with this lighting, imagine what he could do with better light! Not all the pictures were taken by him, he is in a couple himself, but I'm pretty sure he tweaked a few of them before passing them on to me. He knows how much I love to see pictures of the family, and I'm not so discriminating as he would probably hope! I love just about all of them! The pictures, that is... I love ALL of my family!

MicroBio Daughter and Me

Here We Are with Photography Son's Wife

Hubby, Photography Son and His Wife, and Mr. I


Oldest Son and Family

Oldest Son Showing His Bowling Moves


BlackBelt Daughter and Boyfriend

Uncle Teasing Ms. D

Mr. I

MicroBio Daughter
As I'm writing the captions down for these pictures, I'm realizing I need to figure out some better nicknames for the family. I haven't even figured out anything for my beautiful daughters in law. And if I get any more grandsons, I'll be in a bind. Maybe my family can let me know what they would like to be called...Hint, Hint!

Pulling and Picking

Before it starts to rain again, I feel the urge to get control of my yard. I had let it go again, so it's been very overgrown. So yesterday I put in quite a bit of time and finished weeding a bed this morning.  Because I try not to use chemicals on our plants, being as organic as possible, the answer to the mess was a lot of muscle work!  I really felt the muscles this morning, especially the back of my legs and arms, so maybe I'll work off some of the weight I gained this winter.

Here is the pile of weeds from our front yard:

I gave weeds from the back yard to the chickens and rabbits. They really like to munch on them, especially the blackberry vines. We planted what was supposed to be thornless blackberries a few years ago. Some were thornless, but others weren't. I'm still pulling those things up. They are so hard to get rid of! At least the bunnies enjoy them!

I also picked 25 pounds of lemons from the lemon tree. It hardly made a dent! Citrus keeps better on the tree than after they are picked, but I need to pick the rest of the lemons before they go much farther. We've been harvesting so many lemons this year. We had a bumper crop.

This picture was a little fuzzy, but you can get an idea of how many lemons there are. You can also see how much weeding I still need to do in this part of the yard!

These are the lemons after I picked them. There was exactly 12.6 pounds of lemons in each bag for a total of 25 pounds. Hubby squeezed one of the bags last night and got almost half a gallon of lemon juice. I'll freeze some and make lemonade out of the rest.

I just got an app for my phone to help me keep up with the housework. I'll write a review after using it for a week or so. I added doing a little gardening each day so that I keep up with it. If I'm going to grow as much food as I'd like, I can't let things go.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Family Flash Mob

Yesterday morning, as I was walking, a group of Mormons were gathering for a flash mob. Little did I know, later that day our family would have its own flash mob!

My brother in law was here from Seattle for the weekend, so I texted the family while I waited for Mr. I to finish his first football practice. And just like a flash mob, we gathered people from all over. We actually got the whole family together for pizza and bowling. There were thirteen of us, parents, uncle, all of our children and their wives and boyfriend, and of course, my little grandson!
Grandson having a great time being the center of attention!

 It isn't often that we can get everyone together, but the older kids, well, young adults, were going to have a sib night anyway. I really like it that they get along well enough to set aside time to spend together. Not all families are that close. I'm really thankful that they love each other and love each other's company.

We had a fun time eating, talking, bowling, and getting teased by Uncle. It's always a happy time with him. Hopefully, I'll get some more pictures of our evening from my sons. I always think of it after the fact, but I have to remember to get pictures of the whole family when we are able to get everyone together in one place. It's getting harder and harder as the family grows. I just get so excited to see everyone that I forget to get more group shots. I love my family!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Pride and Prejudice

I normally don't write of my political leanings. I find, especially in the Bay Area, that to "come out" with anything other than a particular political leaning is a sure way to invite trouble.

Last night I read a disturbing post. One friend had a cartoon picturing the same sized brains for three different "races" of people, and a tiny brain with the word racist below it. I agree with this cartoon. In fact, if I was able to completely erase the word race, I'd be a happy camper. As Martin Luther King Jr. said in his "I Have a Dream" speech, "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

What was disturbing to me was not my friend's post, but what one of her friends wrote below it. In it she said the small brain was a Republican one. It disturbed me because someone was grouping a diverse part of the country, lumping them together, and dehumanizing them. It worries me when I hear of people lumping others in groups based on the color of their skin, religion, political leanings, or other arbitrary grouping. It worries me when after putting people into these groups, people become the targets of jokes, persecuted, or shunned. It worries me that there seems to be an increased tension between people lately, not based on their character, but on the color of their skin, their religion, or political affiliation. 

It hurts to be called racist, stupid, and uncaring just because I may tend to vote a certain way. It hurts because of my own pride. But it also hurts because people are judging me, not for what I have done, but because I may have a different political viewpoint than them, or because my skin is a certain color, or because I'm a Christian. It is also prideful to think that if someone doesn't completely agree with you, or look like you, that he or she is less of a person.  

I don't know where all this will end. People in our country are becoming more and more violent, and more polarized based on some of these things. I wonder if one of the reasons there seems to be more racism is because some think it would be a way to promote their cause, whatever side they are on. I hope not. I pray that God will be able to break down every wall we erect between each other, and with God.  And I pray protection over our country, and that brother will not fight against brother, but we will be a blessing to our neighbors, whatever religion, national origin, or political viewpoint.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Embarrassing the Teenagers!

There's nothing like embarrassing teenagers! I always joked about how it was my job of a mom of teens to embarrass them so much, they move out on their own when they hit eighteen. Of course, this didn't work well for the younger siblings, who saw that the twenty somethings would boomerang back home. It's a lot harder to live independently in the Bay Area than in most of the country. Rent is so expensive.

Well, today I had a chance to embarrass Ms. D and horrify another teen waiting in line at In & Out. I asked for a hat, and told the teen's mother what I was about to do. You should have seen the shock on the face of her daughter! I don't know if the girl was afraid of me, who would dare to wear the hat in front of all the people in the place, or if she was afraid her mom would do the same. But she was wide eyed and open mouthed just the same!

I followed through, and put the hat on. Ms. D ran out, declaring she didn't know me! Of course, I had to get a picture by the door! You can't see Ms. D because she is hiding behind the car. I think I may have embarrassed her, just a little!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Education Workshop and Expo

Last Friday, Blackbelt Daughter and I went to an education workshop together. She is studying child development and is planning to get her teaching credential so she jumped at the chance to come with me. I was warned ahead of time that there would be a bit of marketing of education services or books, so I wasn't surprised by that, but I was still able to glean quite a few things from the night.

I learned about working memory and some things to do to improve it. I realized that this is the area that Ms. D has a lot of difficulty. The program the presenter offered is $1500 for five weeks, and they weren't sure it would help Ms. D, but I think this is an area that I can try to work on in our homeschool. I'll have to do a bit more research to see what we can do to stretch her reading comprehension. A couple of the things they taught were to verbally say three numbers, like 5, 8, 3, and then having the child point to the numbers in reverse order, 3, 8, 5. Another is to show nine dots on a grid, rotate the grid, and the child needs to press on the same dots where they are on the second view.

Another speaker taught on communications skills. He showed with the gorilla and the passing ball video.

I've seen this one before, but it really showed how most people are consumed and focused on the problem. We focus on what is important to us. The speaker used this to demonstrate that if we focus on failure we will justify failure. We need to focus on the solution, not the problem. We should not ask WHY, but what else can I do? He encouraged us to shift our energy and awareness, to walk while we pray. He had us all sit like we were feeling good, and to practice sitting, walking, standing in ways that make us feel great as often as we can. It projects confidence and energy whatever we do. And he told us a couple of his dangerous words that he wrote in his book. One is hope, because it projects no confidence, another word was try, because it means to attempt and a lack of commitment. He encouraged us to visualize success, to think more of celebrating after a test than on the test itself. And finally he talked about "lucky people" who had two commonalities. They expected to succeed and they took action.

The final workshop taught on how to help children learn better. It had so much information, I'll have to write about it another time.

After the workshop, my daughter and I had a sandwich and talked about how we could use some of the information learned with the younger kids. Easter break starts Friday, so I'll work on planning to implement something that I learned during this workshop. It works best for me to implement a few things at a time, rather than completely change our routine.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Roof Garden

Earlier today I needed to get outside for a little bit. One friend had her appointment with the neurosurgeon because the doctor found a brain tumor last week. The news was better this week. It is, according to the doctor, the best kind of tumor to have if you're going to have one, but I'm still concerned. She was our amazing social worker when we were still fostering our kids. She later adopted a child, and really understands what we have gone through, so she has a special place in our heart.

I also got news of another friend's sister-in-law in her early thirties who died suddenly today and a shooting at a Christian college. I need to get better at praying and then giving burdens to God. I feel so deeply for all of these people. Getting out in the fresh air, looking at the beauty of God's creation, helps me to focus on the good in this world. So I climbed the ladder and took a little break.

Our roof garden is coming along nicely. I haven't been doing much with it, and it probably needs a little fertilizer, but things are still growing.  I think we'll be able to harvest some kale soon. I like to be able to get a little here, and a little there, just pulling the outer leaves off a bit at a time.

I planted some lettuce and bak choi in another pot. I'll eat them as I thin, so the plants have room to grow.

I also sat on the edge of the roof for a little bit, watching the bees go in and out of their hive.

I had to move after a few minutes, though. I noticed that I was in one of their flight paths to the entrance, and didn't want to have a little bee get caught in my hair. It's good to see how active the colonies are right now. In a week or two we'll check to see if the queen is laying brood.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Anticipation is Worse Than the Reality

Sometimes the anticipation of an event is a whole lot worse than what really happens. We worry, we play different scenarios in our head, and we know that things won't go well. Today I was doing that.  I was wrong.

Our evening went so well with the family that seemed to rub me the wrong way. We were able to get to know each other better. And though we are so different in personalities, we have a lot more in common than I had imagined. Would it have been easier to just avoid them? Probably. But I would have missed out on the richness of spending a good evening with people who have a similar vision and a heart for God and people.

Mr. I was doing a similar thing just before bed. Hubby was talking to Mr. I about going on another backpacking trip this summer. So Mr. I started to worry. He started to fret. He was not a happy camper. Their backpacking trip last summer really wasn't so bad, and he had a lot of fun. But you wouldn't think that if you saw the look on his face tonight.

Did I look like that earlier today, when I was fretting?

Meeting Tia

Last night we were able to meet the kids' aunt while we dropped off some more bread after church. Birthmom, Tia, and an uncle who died are triplets, so it was fun seeing the family resemblance. Tia had some of the same mannerisms as Birthmom and Ms. D. Tia joked about how so many of the family stare in mirrors for a loooong time, and that's what Ms. D does! Tia wanted to pray with us, though the kids were very reluctant. I hope the kids' stage of pushing God away doesn't last much longer. It's pretty hard for me.

Hubby let the queens out of their little cages today. The bees are really liking their new home. They even started to make some new comb already.

Today we are having a family over for dinner. I hope it goes well. One of them is the person who rubbed me the wrong way a few weeks ago during the homeschool meeting. It will take all the strength I have to bless and not lash back if he continues to offend me, but it might just go well. However it goes, it's not good for me to continue to think badly of the guy and hold an offense in my heart. Since it is not a professional relationship which I can just ignore and find someone else, I'm going to have to deal with it sooner or later. In the meantime, I'm pretty anxious about our get together tonight.