Friday, August 31, 2012

The Best Text I Recieved This Year!

I just received the best text of the year.

Hubby is safe on Rama Cay!

I was on pins and needles all day because this morning I looked at the satellite image of Bluefields, Nicaragua on the weather report and it didn't look good. There was a big thunderstorm in the area they had to pass through, in a little dugout boat, with a little motor, on the Caribbean. Hubby had a life jacket and is really good on boats. He did, after all, own a canoe shop for awhile and our first dates were on sailboats. But oceans scare me, especially when there are storms and poor communications.

I wanted to hear from him, but the only way for me to hear from him was for him to travel close enough to Bluefields to get a cell phone signal. And to do that, he'd have to go on a small boat in a storm.

Well they did go. Hubby said it was an exciting ride, but they made it over the bar to Bluefields Bay in one piece. Now if you know my Hubby, if he said it was exciting, most of you would probably be peeing your pants in fear. I'm not exaggerating.

But it's good to know that except for a lack of sleep and mosquito bites, he's doing pretty well. In less than a week he'll be home and we'll be able to get back to normal, more or less. I can't wait!

A Bar Set Too High

 I'm a bit put out right now by something I read by another homeschool mom. She was talking about how another mother pointed out something her daughter was doing that was disrespectful. And that she realized the other mother was right, and instead of defending her daughter, she needed to apologize to the mom and correct her daughter's behavior. All of this is fine. Too many times, children are left to be little monsters because the parents get all mother bear when someone points a flaw in their children. We've all seen it. If we were truthful, we've all missed our kids' misbehaviors at one time or another. I actually would rather someone come to me if my kid was acting up, if possible, than someone else trying to deal with the kid herself. So I wasn't too put out by the original post.

What got to me were the comments below the post. Some of the people wrote things that seemed  critical and judgemental. Someone recommended a child rearing method that is so rules based, and I feel so destructive, that I won't even mention the name. These people set standards high for others, including their children, and come down with judgement when others can't possibly meet those expectations. It's all law, and no grace.

So I wrote the following:

But please remember that some mothers, like me, have children who have hidden disabilities like autism, FASD, mental retardation, RAD, etc. I raised four birth children successfully and this advice would be good. Now that I am raising two adoptive children with some of the above conditions, I give more grace to those parents around me who are struggling in their ability to overcome damaged brains. The kids and parents are doing their best, but it would still fall short of some people's expectations.

What I didn't write was that it took years for my kids to obey any authority, especially me. Moms really get hit hard by RAD. It took years before my son would stop hitting me, kicking me, and using his toys as missiles to lob at me every time he was crossed or stressed. That he still swears at me when he is in pain. That my kids still lie, disobey, and a host of things that would send those pharisaical women's heads spinning! Is it because of a lack of training on my part? Though I haven't been perfect, we have worked harder than most parents could ever imagine.

 If these women could see my kids in public at certain times, they would probably look down their nose at me, and keep their kids from being defiled by mine. But they would not see the progress my kids have made, they would not see the place the kids were at when they came to our house, or the damage that trauma and prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol have done to their brains. They would not see that my kids are heroes! They have overcome and are learning to overcome things that no child should ever have to overcome.

These women would also not see the blessing these kids have been to me. They have taught me grace and love that does not depend on works. They have shown me in such a deep way that God can even love me, as imperfect as I am. They have shown me that it doesn't matter how high the bar is, God's love is able to carry me over. My kids over. The world over.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Finally Signed Ms. D Up

I finally signed Ms. D up today for a PSP, or a private home study program, that specializes in special needs students.

I had been avoiding doing this for weeks and months. Oh, I made nice little excuses, like needing more money, or putting the IQ test results in a "safe place", only to forget where that place was. But if I were to be honest, I was procrastinating. While I was filling out the forms today, I was shaking like a leaf, and my eyes started watering after I slid the packet into the mail slot at the post office. It seems kind of silly, but maybe I was having, like another adoptive mom described when she got a phone call from her child's school, a "PTSD moment." I don't have an official diagnosis, but it would make sense. I've gone through some pretty traumatic stuff with fostering and adopting, and I get triggered by things like home inspections, paperwork, and dealing with school and government officials. First I avoid these things, then when I have to face them I'm a nervous wreck for a bit.

But I did overcome my anxiety and sent that packet out today. I was able to pull myself together while the kids were around, and only fell apart when I was alone in the car. I went to Wally World to pick up a few things after mailing the packet out so that I could be in a better state when the kids saw me. Hopefully, I'll be better able to sleep tonight.

My grandson is almost here to spend the evening, so I'll be able to enjoy him and think of something more positive. I can't wait until he comes over!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

News Blackout from Rama Territory

Right now we are in a news blackout from Hubby as he travels to Bangkukut in Rama Territory in Nicaragua. Yesterday he traveled beyond the reach of cell phones or any other form of communication. I think there is occasional radio contact for emergencies, but the equipment, as far as I know, is now broken. It's one of those times when I have to really trust God and our Rama friends to take care of him. There are many things that can go wrong, but a lot more that can go right. Ervin, Hubby's friend and main contact from Rama Cay told me that the ocean was pretty calm yesterday and it was a good day to travel. The Rama are excellent sailors and boatmen, so I know they understand when it is safe to travel and when it is best to stay on land.


While Hubby is there, he'll visit people in remote farms, deliver some supplies like toothbrushes, toothpaste, Bibles donated from our church, and a DVD player with solar power so that people can watch educational videos. The people there don't get many visitors from the outside, so it will mean a lot to them that Hubby came back.

The news blackout is affecting us here. I can't call or text Hubby if Mr. I acts up and needs his dad to talk to him. I can't email Hubby asking him to check his business account to see why there wasn't enough funds to cover a check he gave me. It might have taken the bank an extra day to clear a deposit, or something else went wrong, but I can't access that information without talking to Hubby first.

It's a little easier for me this time to picture what Hubby is experiencing. He brought back so many pictures and videos of Bangkukut and Cane Creek last year. Maybe that's why I'm not as anxious, but I hope it's because I'm learning to trust more.






Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Happy Anniversary!

Happy Anniversary, Hubby!

I know you won't get this until later, but I pray that God will give you a special hug today for me. Right now, I'm sitting at home after a busy morning of housework, puppy training, giving a friend some coolers for the food distribution Saturday, and preparing to homeschool the kids. You are most likely on a little dugout boat, with a tiny motor and a bunch of people, on the big Caribbean Ocean on your way to Bankukut, Nicaragua. I have been enjoying the cool morning breeze and had a warm shower, while you are in the steamy heat with no shower. And though I would have preferred to spend the evening alone together to celebrate 33 years of marriage, in a way this day is more fitting.

Why more fitting? Because while I'm holding down the fort, you are making the world a better place and impacting so many people. We are so different in personality. You are an introvert who is also a risk taker. I am all about security and am energized when with people. You think in pictures, I think in feelings. Together we make a strong team. Alone, we wouldn't get much done, but you and I, together with God, can move mountains. 

So today, I hope that you will be safe, happy, and be a blessing to the Rama people of Bankukut. And although there can be no communication between us until you return from the rain forest in a few days, I pray that God will shower his love on you and the Rama. I am so proud of you, that you would give up so much to follow God's path. Life is so exciting with you!

Happy Anniversary, Hubby! You are the best man for me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Family Here and There

This afternoon and evening we had my grandson, who I think I'll call Little Drummer Boy, and his parents for dinner and fun. It was so nice to see them after their week long trip to Oregon. I really treasure time with my family. There's nothing like seeing everyone get along and enjoy each others company.
Blackbelt Daughter and Little Drummer Boy
Little Drummer Boy
Our time together today was so familiar and comfortable. It's so hard to think that Hubby is over 3,500 miles away at a hot tropical island in Nicaragua. I just looked at the driving directions to Bluefields, Nicaragua and I laughed. According to Google you can drive straight through. I don't think anyone told them that there are no roads to the town and you have to go on a boat or by air for part of the way. And Hubby isn't even at Bluefields, but a little island nearby called Rama Cay. Some of the houses there have metal roofs, but many have thatched. There isn't glass in the windows, or many of the amenities we in the United States take for granted, things like running water, hot or cold! Within the past few years since I have been there, the island has installed electric service. So now there is electricity for part of the day, and Hubby can communicate to me occasionally through text messages and even an email. But from tomorrow until Friday, that won't even be possible. He'll go even farther away from civilization on a small boat down the Caribbean coast to a little cluster of farms deep in Rama territory called Bankukut. His experiences the next few days will be such a contrast to what is so familiar to me. It is a good reminder for me to be more thankful for what I have, even in the midst of difficulties I experience here.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Puppy Progress

Brewster 12 Weeks Old
Today we had another guide dog puppy meeting. Brewster had a great time! He learned some more things and was fitted for a gentle leader in order to better train him. We also learned how to train him to come to us, not mouth people, sit on a towel to begin training him to go to bed, and basic puppy care. I've said it before, but I love the people at the Growing Guides Club. I guess it takes a certain kind of person to raise one of these special puppies for someone else to enjoy.
Growing Guides
These Meetings Tire Brewster Out
But He Always Has Energy For a Nice Pet
Later on Photography Son and his wife came over to drop off some camping equipment. I had made a big meal of sun oven roasted chicken, boiled new potatoes, steamed artichokes, and salad and invited them to stay and have some dinner. I had made plenty of food, since Hubby is gone, Blackbelt Daughter was out studying, and Microbio Daughter took Mr. I shopping after picking him up from a birthday party. It was so nice to get together with them!
Brewster Getting a Bit of Attention
Puppy Picture Time
Today was a much better day for me. It's amazing what a good night's sleep can do. Hubby is doing well in Nicaragua. Mr. I had a hard time to begin in the morning, but he settled down later in the day. I think it helped that he got a little special attention from his sister. We'll see how he does tomorrow when we start school after a busy weekend. I got a bit of housework and laundry done, and even weeded the garden a tiny bit. And to top it off, the day was filled with puppy fun.

Abandonment

It's been really hard dealing with Mr. I's behaviors the past two weeks, especially since Hubby left for Nicaragua. He's been disobeying, coming home late without checking in, been disrespectful, and has the stereotypical teenage attitude on steroids. He even wanted me to lie to his friends' mom last night so that they could spend the night at our house. It shocked me that he even asked. Lie himself, that's totally expected, though not condoned. But ask me to lie so he could get his way? Who does he think I am?

Yes, we are dealing with full fledged RAD behavior years after I thought he was pretty much healed. One of my daughters told me last night that he's acting sociopathic. That seemed a bit too harsh, but I can see what she means if you take his behavior out of context. I would be really worried if these were typical days and we were all together as a family. But these aren't typical days. Some of my kids have had mini vacations and are not around as usual. We started school. I've been busy taking care of the puppy and Ms. D's sleep issues. Mr. I's bike was stolen and I refuse to let him replace it right away and haven't given him a solid date when he can replace it.  Hubby is out of the country for two weeks, which in itself would cause stress. Mr. I does not feel safe in a home without a man around. So it's totally logical that Mr. I would be regressing, especially given his history of neglect and abuse. Add to that some prenatal exposure to alcohol, and it gets even more understandable.

Deep down, I think he feels abandoned. He's trying to gain control over his life by challenging my authority. His birth mom let him down when he was young, and he's taking it out on me. I haven't been able to protect him from disappointment. Hubby left him in the care of a woman (me) and Mr. I deep down wonders if he will ever come back. It doesn't matter that he sleeps in the next room to a second degree black belt, or that he's seen me in mama bear mode before, he somehow worries about his own safety, his own survival. Pushing people away and being dominant helps him to feel in control. The problem is that those kind of behaviors push the very people that can help him away.

Last night I went to church over the Santa Cruz mountains in Aptos for our monthly larger gathering of house churches. We usually meet at five and have worship at six. The problem yesterday was that there was a van on fire on one of the only roads across the mountains and we got stuck in traffic. A trip that normally lasts a little under an hour even with traffic became a two hour ordeal. We came late, even after the worship started. I was so exhausted after staying up late the night before to pick up food and waking early to deliver it. I drove all morning on about four and a half hours of sleep and a short nap in the afternoon. The man who preached talked about not getting weary in well doing. It fit, since I was totally exhausted physically, mentally, and spiritually. Afterwards one of the women told me that before the worship, the church prayed for Hubby and his trip but I missed it. On one hand I was grateful for the prayer, but on the other hand, I was so disappointed I couldn't be there because of the fire. I felt so bad. Another woman came up and asked me if I felt abandoned. At the time I denied it, and passed it off as something my kids were dealing with right now. But after I got home, I realized I really did feel abandoned by God, by Hubby, and by others. My thinking part of my brain knows that isn't true. God is here and has provided for me and taken care of me. Yes there have been odd circumstances and disappointments the past few weeks that shouldn't have happened, but that doesn't mean He abandoned me. Hubby is doing just what he is called to do and I even encouraged him to go to Nicaragua this year. He tried to pick a time to go to a graduation, but he couldn't control the time of the graduation. It wasn't his fault that the dates kept changing and the date he had to work with the second time landed on our anniversary. It ended up the date was changed again, so he won't even be able to attend. And I haven't been abandoned by my friends and family. My daughters have helped me so much. There is no way I could have kept my head above water the past few days without them. People have offered to help and two women will take over the food distribution next week. I am not alone.

But just like Mr. I, I feel abandonment deep down in a place that logic doesn't reach. In a way it's kind of sad to think that I need to help Mr. I heal in a place where I need healing also. Fortunately, I'm not the one who can do the healing. Perhaps I can better show Mr. I where to turn for his healing as I learn myself. Because when there's such deep hurts from abandonment, only God can fully heal. And with that healing, I trust that Mr. I's behaviors will change. Healing the roots of his behavior will bring more lasting changes, not just an external whitewashing. I want him to be cleansed from inside, so that he can really enjoy his life. I want him to know, deep down, that he will never be abandoned, because God is always with him.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Vet Visit and Eclectic Events

You can't say things here at home have been boring and uneventful while Hubby is in Nicaragua!

Yesterday I took Ms. D to the store to do some much needed grocery shopping. During the outing she told me of some teenage slang that will be pretty useful. I learned that if someone calls a girl thirsty, she is someone who is trying to steal another girl's boyfriend. I learned that funa, means gonna, means going to, and that fina, means trina, means trying to. So you would say I fina go to the store. I still can't figure out what the f is for. I hope it isn't the f word in a contraction, but since she's a teen, it probably is. Oh and I also learned today that Mr. I has learned a lot of gang hand signals from the show, Gangland on the History Channel, and who knows where. He also says Norteno and Sureno with perfect accents, at least to my American white girl ears. I don't know if I should be worried, or glad his favorite shows are on the History Channel.

We had movie night last night. I still haven't moved the mattress Hubby's traveling buddy was using away yet, so Mr. I was able to stretch out and think of something other than missing his dad. Of course, neither child was able to get to sleep early last night, so they slept in this morning. And this resulted in me having to entertain and watch Brewster until it was time to go to the vet for his 12 week shots.  He was sure full of spunk this morning! He also found a sock from somewhere. I've been after my family for years to pick up their socks. Most of them come in the house, take off their socks and shoes, and leave them about. It's annoying to me, but it could be dangerous if the puppy eats them. Now the family is getting better at it, but in the meantime I need to train the puppy to leave socks alone. Who knows if some blind person will be another sock strewer? So I followed the protocol of baiting the puppy and training him. This is what it looked like:
You can be sure he's looking at that sock! Now I'm wondering who will be trained first, the dog or the family. Most people are betting on the dog.

Poor little Brewster had to go to the vet today for some more shots. I really liked this vet, she has been a vet for 30 years and encouraged us to be really careful with Parvo in our area. And as a happy bonus, she gave Brewster a discount for being a guide dog puppy. Brewster actually loved going to the vet and didn't mind the shot at all.  Mr. I and Ms. D were the ones who had a hard time. Mr. I was very obnoxious, and disobedient. He also tried to pet Brewster in a way that was getting him excited, which made Ms. D upset. I would correct both kids, but Mr. I only heard what I had to say to him and then he thought I was being partial to Ms. D. So he would act up more and try to get the last word in. We were in a bad cycle, yet we had a puppy on the table, and didn't know when the vet would show up. Why can't kids act up only at home where you can deal with bad behaviors? Unfortunately the other tempting question is to ask why a twelve year old would act like a kid less than half his age, but knowing about FASD, RAD, and traumatized kids answers that question all too well! It didn't help that he decided to not eat breakfast before the vet visit and was hypoglycemic too. He sometimes gets hunger, thirst, agitation, fear, and the need to relieve himself all mixed up. He just knows he feels bad, and I should know it. Oh, and leave right now because he doesn't like it here. Brewster's injection added to the anxiety. Mr. I was wild eyed, and Ms. D spaced out. I was really worried she would have another seizure, but she held it together. The vet did ask Ms. D a few questions, but Ms. D was unable to say anything more than I don't know and look dazed. Brewster, of course, didn't even know what was going on because he got his first sample of a dog treat during the injection. See kids? It wasn't that bad!

We came home after that, got some food into the kids and puppy, and then walked the neighbor dogs. We put Brewster in the crate and he did well. I think he slept the whole time we were gone. Later I went alone to the homeschool park day. I love the women in our homeschool group, even though the kids are reluctant to come. It will be nice when Brewster is old enough to go with us and Ms. D can have her hands busy. She always does better in social situations when she has a dog or baby to care for.

This evening there is a school study seminar geared for teens and college students. I am interested, but I don't think Ms. D would get much out of it. I'm also wondering if it would just be too much for me to do today, especially since I'll be working with another woman tonight and tomorrow morning to pick up and deliver food. It might be something that would be nice to do, but eat too much of my time right now. There always are choices like that in life, when there are so many good things to do. I have to really be careful what I spend time on, especially now when Hubby is gone for awhile and the kids are so out of it.

As far as I know, Hubby is doing well in Nicaragua. He sent me a text last night saying he was having dinner with a Nicaraguan family we know there. They are like family to Hubby and I know when he is with them and other friends there, he will be fine. We are limited in the number of texts, and phone calls are pretty expensive, even though he did change his phone plan ahead of this trip. One year he forgot to do this, and the roaming charges were in the hundreds of dollars. It would have been cheaper to see him in Nicaragua in person! Hubby learned after that to change the plan to international before the trip, text more than talk, and use the phone sparingly. Then when the trip is over he reverts back to the old plan.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

Wow, I just fell asleep at the computer. But it's time to get some food cooked for supper and hang up some laundry. I'm glad, though, that things are busy and I don't have time to sit around missing Hubby.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

First Leg of the Trip to Nicaragua

Hubby has landed in Miami and is eating Chinese food cooked by Cuban-Americans. This is probably a good call, since the food for rest of the trip will be mostly Gallo Pinto, or beans and rice. I hope he also has a milkshake, though I did find an In and Out near SFO when hubby returned last year.
We woke up at O-dark-thirty this morning and were out the door by four. Hubby's traveling buddy came last night with a little more luggage than we had planned, so we did a quick rearranging of suitcases. Traveling on this kind of trip is a little more difficult, since Hubby and friend are bringing so many supplies for Progress Tools. The red bag on top in the picture above is actually a pizza delivery bag full of pans and baking supplies for a bakery Hubby helped a man in Managua to start. Hubby was a little overwhelmed, so Microbio Daughter and I helped them consolidate two bags into one and get the weight to exactly fifty pounds. We are actually getting pretty good at this!

We dropped the guys off in plenty of time, and the trip so far is going well. Sorry for such poor pictures. But that's about as good as it gets when you ask your twelve year old son to snap a couple of pictures while you have to stay in the car. Now that there are so many restrictions, you have to sneak in a hug and a picture. Stay in one place longer than the TSA thinks you need to unload, and a bunch of security people start heading your way! What a difference between now and before 911, when I used to bring the kids right up to the gate to wish their daddy goodbye and watch the planes go down the runway.

But everything is going well so far. Mr. I and I got back home before the sun rose. Hubby made it to Miami and the tropical storm is still far away. We are having fun tracking the flight path. Right now we are talking to Hubby on the phone which may be the last time in two weeks. We'll be able to text, but phone calls are too expensive. But it will be an adventure for Hubby, and the people in Nicaragua are always so good to him. He's like family there.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Twelve Hours and Counting

Well, it's more like fourteen hours, and Hubby and a friend will be taking off for Nicaragua. But we'll have to leave the house less than twelve hours from now so I can drop them off at the airport. One circuit of the clock and I'll be a single mom for two weeks.

Are we ready? Oh no! But we are as ready as we can get. Hubby is doing the last minute details both for the trip, work, and home. The kids are pretty stressed about it all. Hubby brings a sense of protection and stability to their lives. In their birth home, their mom especially let them down and was physically abused in their presence. So it doesn't matter that a second degree black belt will be sleeping in the next room, or that they've seen the mama bear in me when I thought my kids were in danger. No, to them, deep down, women are weak and can't protect them from the dangers of this world.

The fear has started even though Hubby hasn't left yet.

The fear comes out in odd ways. Ms. D tells me of the latest murder in our city. It doesn't matter that it happened in a bad part of town or that it most likely was gang related. She doesn't feel safe. I just explained to her that I won't go shopping in bad areas of town after dark. "The bad guys sleep all morning and don't wake up until after four in the afternoon. You know that!" Yes, she does know because of her birth family's habits.

I see the fear in Mr. I when he can't stay home with the puppy while Ms. D and I walk the neighbor dogs. The puppy hasn't had all his shots yet and doesn't have the endurance. He still has little legs! Mr. I is in so much fear he doesn't remember he was able to stay home alone for this kind of thing just fine last spring. It doesn't matter that we don't go farther than eight minutes of walking from our house when we do the mile loop. All he knows is that he's afraid. So today he insisted that we stay in phone contact the whole time and I give him updates of where we were. "Now we are passing the Japanese man who always is working on his lawn, now we are by the first gate behind the school, we just passed the tennis courts, we are by the park bathrooms..." He went into a panic when the mailman delivered the mail. And when I came home, Mr. I was waiting just outside the door with the biggest kitchen knife. Of course he ran in and put it back as soon as he saw me, denying he had it until I told him I saw it flashing in the sun. But that's how afraid he is.

I also see the dysregulation and fear in Mr. I by the way he has been treating me lately. It's like the RAD years all over again. There's been a lot of regression and really odd statements, like telling me today I'm a sex offender. Really? Me? The one who hasn't seen him naked since I changed his diapers when he was three? I just hope that anyone who overhears his latest rants takes everything with a grain of salt. I'm so glad we know and are close to our neighbors! When the kids come off with odd statements, they don't wonder about us or call the police. Of course, Mr. I knows that he has the power to cause trouble. They saw what happened when Birthmom made a false accusation in the first few months of placement and there was an investigation. Oh what excitement for a kid who isn't attached and wants everyone around him to feel as bad as he does inside! It's a good thing times like this don't happen often anymore. I just wish it wouldn't happen when so much is going on!

But I have a lot to be thankful for. Things are falling into place. Hubby and I were able to have a nice Thai dinner last night because Microbio Daughter watched the kids for us. She just came home from a hard day at work and still was willing to watch them. I was able to make a vaccination appointment for the puppy, and I picked up the report for Ms. D. She started to read it on the way home, but I told her it was pretty complicated and there are a lot of big words that I'd have to explain. She did see fetal alcohol and asked me if that is why her pinkies were so small. They only go up to the first joint of her ring finger instead of about the second. When I told her yes, she asked if her kids would have the same small pinkies. I told her no, unless she decides to drink while she's pregnant, and I'd do anything in my power to keep that from happening. She seemed happy with that. It's funny that of all things, it is her pinkies that she is most concerned about. I guess that might be because she can see them. She thinks so concretely!

So the final countdown has begun and we are preparing for a big two weeks, both here and Nicaragua. It will take a lot of prayer and effort, but it will be good.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Pseudo Seizure at the Blood Draw

This morning I took Ms. D to get her blood drawn to make sure that she isn't anemic or have something else that may be causing her to sleep so much. She had to be fasting for twelve hours, so I woke her up before Microbio Daughter went to work. It was the only way I could figure out how to leave without having to drag the puppy and Mr. I with us. Mr. I, like I said yesterday, is very frightened to be left alone lately, even for a few minutes.

Everything went well until the second vial was being filled, and Ms. D had another pseudo seizure. I guess the combination of low blood sugar and the stress of having a needle in her arm was too much for her. The phlebotomist actually noticed it first, and started to alert the other workers. I told her it was OK, and that Ms. D gets pseudo seizures when stressed. After that, the staff calmed down and we let her sit there for a little bit. I liked it that they seemed to understand what was going on and didn't make a big deal about it. This seizure was short, but Ms. D forgot most of what happened until she drank some orange juice. She didn't remember my explanation to the staff, or that they offered the orange juice, or that she refused the juice at first, or responded to some of my questions. I hope she never is seriously sick or injured, because this little blood draw was enough to cause a pseudo seizure. I had just told the psychologist that Ms. D hasn't had one since May. I guess I'll still have to be careful.

I got Ms. D some Mickey D's on the way home because I felt she needed to get something in her stomach as soon as possible and we had run out of milk. I didn't want her to have another seizure waiting for me to make something. She was able to walk the puppy a little and then did some school work. But right now she's back to bed. We'll work on good sleep habits a little more gradually and after things calm down a bit. The no nap rule is going to be a hard one to keep.

I think I need a bit of a nap too! The pseudo seizures are especially tiring for me when they happen in public like that. I also have been awake since 4:30 am because we had an owl outside our window that sounded too much like our puppy. It wasn't until I went out of our bedroom that I realized that the noise was coming from outside, and the puppy was fast asleep in Ms. D's room. Hubby's alarm sounded at 5:00, so I couldn't sleep after that. There was too much on my mind. But if I don't get a little more rest, I won't be in any shape to do all that needs to be done.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Thankful We Live Close to the Hospital

Today I'm very thankful we live near the hospital and doctors' offices because we've had to go there a lot.

I took Ms. D to the child psychiatry department for a depression evaluation. No depression, so we will check her blood levels for anemia, etc. There must be some reason she sleeps so much. Yesterday she slept from three in the afternoon until eight in the evening, woke up to eat, and then slept from about nine until 10:30 in the morning. This is a little more than usual and the puppy may have needed to go out in the night, but she was sleeping soundly every time I checked on her.

Then I took Mr. I to the doctor to check his shoulder. He complained of a little pain last night but he really stepped up the complaining in the morning when it was time to do schoolwork. I thought he might be exaggerating a bit, but the fussing got to a high enough level for me to take him in. He was refusing to raise his arm above his head until after I told him we were going to the doctor. He said he didn't need to go, but by that time I decided that it wouldn't hurt to check it out. I had another cild that broke his collar bone before and I didn't realize it until the next day. So I made Mr. I go. Maybe he won't cry wolf next time, but I won't hold my breath. He's done this kind of thing before when he was dysregulated. The tiniest hurts are magnified.

So we took Mr. I to the hospital to get his shoulder x-rayed. It was fine. There was no break or dislocation. He has a sling to remind him to give it a bit of a rest when he plays, but he's not liking it one bit.

After that, I took Ms. D to get her blood drawn. I found out that she needs to be fasting for one, so instead of giving her two pricks, we'll come back tomorrow. It will be a good excuse for getting her up earlier in the morning.

So with all the doctor visits and tests, I'm glad we live one or two miles away from all the appointments. It helped to not to have to bring both to some of the appointments. I did have to put the puppy in his crate for Ms. D's since Mr. I was too frightened to stay home alone, even for an hour. It's kind of sad that a twelve year old can't be alone for such a short time, but that what we have to work with right now.

I also felt affirmed by Ms. D's psych doctor. I guess I'm not the only one to have problems with the regional center, and it wasn't a surprise that I would feel so down about the way our meeting went. I just hope that they won't deny Ms. D the support she really needs. I'll have to work on getting another IQ test done for her, this time a non verbal one. I hope the new homeschool special needs PSP will be able to do that for me. I don't feel as hesitant now that I got a little encouragement. It's amazing what a few kind words can do to change my attitude from despair to hope. I still feel stressed, and the doughnut hole and two fun sized candy bars I scarfed down when I came back from the doctors' kind of proves it, but I am wanting to do the paperwork instead of avoiding it. Though tonight I'll take a break, watch a rerun of the final day of swimming at the Olympics with Microbio Daughter, and concentrate on breathing deep slow breaths.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Puppy Man Cave and Too Much Going On

Here's Brewster getting used to his Man Cave:
Well, it's just a crate, but Hubby told him he could post pictures of cars, sports, or other manly decorations on the walls if he wants. I think it's just fine as it is. We are having to get him used to a crate, and he doesn't mind it too much as long as we are right there. It will be nice when he can stay an hour or so alone in it so we aren't as tied down. As it is, someone has to be with him at all times, which makes it hard to get some laundry or yard work done when the kids aren't here. It's one of the skills he has to learn at our home too, in addition to things like sitting, walking on the left side, and doing his business on command.

We are counting down the days to Hubby's trip to Nicaragua. There is so much to get ready, and the kids are feeling the extra stress. I'm feeling the extra stress! I feel like kicking Brewster out of his man cave and squeezing in. OK, I wouldn't fit. Maybe I need to get my own man woman cave, but there isn't much available space in our house.

Other things that happened this weekend after the Uncle visit:

My oldest son and family drove up to Oregon and someone banged into the back corner of their car. No one was hurt, and the car was drivable, but it did shake them up a bit. Mr. I was so sweet and immediately asked how Grandson was. He felt bad right after when he realized he didn't ask about Drummer Son or Green Mama. Mr. I explained to me that Grandson is little and the others are big and can handle things better. The rest of their trip was fairly uneventful and they made it to the farm just fine, though later than they had hoped.

Blackbelt daughter is in the LA area and worked fourteen hours at a lacrosse tournament yesterday and more today. I think they go to Dizzyland tomorrow.

Hubby checked the beehives before his trip. The ones on our roof are pretty healthy colonies.  The one in the other neighborhood didn't make it. So sad!

We've been trading off taking care of Brewster. He can be a handful, though he still is really good for his age. He's already losing his little butterball look and is starting to stretch out. It's amazing how much you can see changes every day. 

I went with Hubby and a woman from church yesterday morning to deliver food in the "Manna Mobile." Of course this time the manna mobile was our Caravan, since we needed more seats for people. It was good to go out and see the different places that Hubby goes to deliver food. I think we'll be able to do it fine while he is gone.

Hubby and I went to church last night and I was a bit disappointed. I was hoping to have some prayer for our family and Hubby's trip, but a new guy was the focus. I don't mind focusing on new people, especially people going through as much as this guy was. I guess part of the problem was that it was more appropriate for the men to interact with him and the only other woman who showed up was the person hosting the night. She had her hands full as it was, so I didn't ask her.  We also went overtime so I didn't feel right asking for prayer too late in the evening. But there are so many things that happen before a trip, and we really need more prayer cover. I'll just have to email people to remind them to pray for us. I'll also remember to always make even a little time for needs to be met or prayer requests if I'm leading a small group. It's not like going to a big church where everything is scheduled and you don't have opportunity for that kind of thing. One of the reasons we have house churches is to be more accountable, pray for each other, and interact more.

Microbio Daughter took the kids to her church this morning and they saw the African Children's Choir. I had seen them in the 1980's and was glad that my kids were able to see them today. Ms. D was especially touched, showed us a little video she took, and talked about it a lot, at least a lot for her. Mr. I is still in a bit of a funk and thought their dancing was "too simple." I can't wait until we find our old Mr. I again. Did you see him? If you find him, tell him we miss him and he's always welcome home!

Well, I've been escaping through my blog long enough. It's not the same as a man cave, but it did help me to sort through some things. Now I need to do some cleaning, organizing, and laundry. I am definitely not looking forward to that, so I might have to put on a timer. It's amazing what can be done in 15 focused minutes.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Uncle Visit!

Our kids' uncle came for a visit last night. He and my sister live in another state, so everyone was so excited to see him! He has a way with kids that is so fun and joyful, they can't help to be happy to be around him. Everyone loves Uncle P's jokes! Well, once they get to know him, that is!

So yesterday Uncle P took the kids and Microbio Daughter out for pizza and miniature golf.

They all had a great time! Of course you would think that going with Uncle P was the worst thing I could have done if you heard the kids before he came. According to them, the pizza time would be OK, but they did not want to go miniature golfing. It wasn't their normal routine with Uncle P. They usually go bowling with our whole family, but Hubby had to stay home with the puppy and I had to help Blackbelt Daughter out with manning a taekwando booth at a school open house. Another change in routine was sending Mr. I into a tailspin. He sulked in the car. He told me how he thought I was a horrible mom after I told him that I would keep him home the rest of the weekend if he acted up during the uncle visit. He's really been disrespectful to me lately and part of the reason is he's been getting over excited. A quiet weekend would do him good. But I guess none of his friends ever are grounded, that it bordered on abuse for me to have him stay home, and that I was being too judgemental. I'm such a mean mom!

I had to drop them off at the pizza place because I realized that I had to get to Blackbelt Daughter's open house. Not many teens signed up for taekwando, but I did meet a woman who had adopted two of her grandchildren who have FASD. It's always good to find someone close by who understands the challenges of raising kids with FASD. It's not your average parenting experience!

So how did the evening go for Ms. D and Mr. I, who both didn't want to golf? Well, it went well. They behaved themselves and had a great time.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Let's Start With a Cute Puppy and Girl Pic

Aren't Ms. D and Brewster Cute?
This is one of the good times we had today. It was a mixed bag, of course, but mostly good. We have had a lot going on, but today was better than yesterday.

It started with dropping Blackbelt Daughter off at her friend's house so she could help the family with a lacrosse tournament in the LA area. They'll make a stop at Dizzyland too. She hasn't gone since she was four and now she's 22. We haven't been a big amusement park family, especially since getting the youngest kids. Amusement parks + over-excitement + RAD + FASD + trauma history = a bad time for all.

Then it was off to take hubby for a six month checkup appointment after his surgery. I'm glad he's getting everything looked at before his trip. The kids did well alone, taking good care of the puppy, though Mr. I was a bit out of it when I came back.

Which brings me to how the second day of school went. It didn't go very well, but it was better. Mr. I wanted an online math program. I thought it was pretty good, but he didn't like the way the guy talked and didn't put much effort into it. He got a 50% on the first, easy quiz, which isn't very good. But he spent most of the time during the video complaining about how stupid it was. I have a 14 day free trial. I'll see how well he does with it after his attitude settles down. A kid who is dysregulated from a change in routine and FASD doesn't learn very well. The brain is stuck in a fight or flight response. The higher learning and decision making part of the brain are just turned off.

Mr. I had a hard time today making decisions. My brother in law called to take the kids to miniature golf this evening. Mr. I kept changing the story of a friend's birthday party. It's tonight, it's tomorrow, it's both but he doesn't want to go to tonight's because the friend's cousins will be there, he doesn't want to go paint balling tomorrow and will just go to the cake time afterward, no, the party is tonight... You get the picture! Finally I just told him we will go with my brother in law tonight. No more changing the times. I'm not going to do all the work of arranging different schedules only to have things messed up by a kid who isn't thinking straight. Mr. I is just is too overexcited about school starting, the birthday party, and the uncle visit to make any decisions at all.

So tonight hubby will stay home with the puppy. I'll go with the kids with my brother in law to have fun. Microbio Daughter can meet up with us when she is home from work. And then I can go man the taekwando table at the open house for  Blackbelt Daughter. Things will work out and we'll have fun!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sister Can You Spare a Dime...

...Or enough money to fly back up to your city and join up with my gang friends.

Yeah, right...

Do you think we'd really give money, even if we had it, to the kids' nineteen year old birth brother to do that? Do you think I'd want another gang banger causing trouble around here? It's not like we don't have enough of them around.  We've had three gang related shootings in the past two days. And San Jose used to be the safest large city!

I thought it was the birth father on the phone, so I passed it to Ms. D.  Her brother asked her for money, then asked Hubby. Birth Dad had told us recently that his son wanted to go back to San Jose, but he wasn't behaving himself here. He wasn't liking the rules that Birth Dad imposed. Have to go to work? That's just not fair! Stay out of gangs? How come you don't like my friends? Do something with my life? The world owes me!

So the birth brother called here, whispering his plea to Hubby. He probably didn't want his dad to know he called us for money. Well, we'll tell Birthdad as soon as we can get a hold of him. Right now the kids' brother has his phone.  I have already spoken to Ms. D about not giving money to that particular brother if he asked. She said he wouldn't ever do that. He did today. Surprise!

I'll talk to her tomorrow about it again. Ms. D is so gullible, but I hope she will understand that this guy will not do well here and will do better if he stays in Arizona with Birthdad. The brother just runs all over Birthmom when he is here. Yes, he's family. But sometimes you need to just say no.

The Pity Party Is Now Over

Ok, the pity party has got to leave the house for the night.

I was all worked up, Poor Me!

I had a hard morning with Mr. I. Then I had to admit to the psychiatry receptionist and a friend who works there that I am one of those kinds of women who put things in places and forgets where I put them, and then hands her the wrong medical card and drops a bunch of change. Yes, maybe I needed to schedule an appointment for myself! My day was also hard because I was trying to figure out how to take care of my grandson tonight and go to a school open house so I can cover for one of my daughters tomorrow evening. And I was overwhelmed by knowing I had to drop that daughter off tomorrow morning and take hubby to a doctor's appointment, leaving the kids and puppy alone for an hour or two. I was also worrying about how I was going to take Ms. D to her appointment Monday when I have Mr. I and the puppy to take care of at the same time. And of course the biggest pity party of all was about Hubby leaving me to go to Nicaragua next week when school is starting and we have our anniversary. Why couldn't the trip have been in July, when it first was scheduled!

Poor Me!

But then I just read a blog asking for prayer for a 3 month old who has leukemia. Wow!

And a friend who messaged me about someone whose marriage is breaking up. I don't know who it is, or even if I know the couple, but it's been happening too much lately.

There are people close to me with serious health problems, cancer, osteoporosis, chronic pain that isn't responding to treatment.

Others have more financial pressures than I do, and they wonder where their next meal will come from, or whether they can hang on to their house, or pay rent, or a pharmacy bill. I know we will get the money we need in a week to sign Ms. D up for school. A little waiting isn't bad!

And during our walk, I passed by a family of Sikhs, and thought of the sorrow and maybe even the fear they must feel about the shooting last week. We were walking two unruly dogs, so I couldn't stop and encourage them, but I did smile and say hello to them as we passed.

And then my pity party seemed a bit silly. Did I really get all worked up because of a twelve year old temper tantrum that I was expecting? It's not like I was blindsided! Am I really that frazzled about appointments and deadlines? Every job has those! Am I really that selfish in wishing Hubby's trip was at a different time? He's going to be such a blessing to others! Why can't I just trust that God to take care of me, my family, and all I need to do? These things are so little compared to the big things I've had to deal with in the past, and others have to deal with now! It's really not that bad!

So pity party, you need to leave our house right now! I am going to enjoy my grandson tonight!

First Day of School

Today was our first day of school.

I am exhausted, which wouldn't surprise anyone who had ever attempted to homeschool two kids with FASD, RAD, and maybe MR or LD. Ha! So many acronyms!

I wasn't completely prepared. I still don't have Ms. D signed up for the private school PSP because I needed to get the money and the IQ test results. I stopped over at the psychiatry office today to see about getting another copy. I remember putting my last copy in a place where Ms. D couldn't come across it, but I've been too stressed to remember where that was. I also made another appointment for her since her doctor agreed that 13 to 15 hours of sleep a night is a bit much. I just hope that Ms. D doesn't just say it's because she wakes up with the new puppy. She'd been sleeping long hours for weeks before the puppy came. She may have an excuse now, but not earlier this summer and spring. I probably should have called in to make the appointment, but I didn't want little hypervigilant ears listening to something that isn't his business. The office is about a mile away, so it was easier to just go in. I had to make a quick stop at the store anyway.

I planned for a fairly easy day of homeschool. After all, most first classes in middle and high school consist of the teacher telling expectations and the distribution of papers about internet use, homework and grading policies, etc. for the students and parents to sign.  So, even though it was a fairly light day, we ended up accomplishing a lot more than that.

The day wasn't without challenges, though. Ms. D was up off and on during the night because the puppy had some tummy rumbles, probably from eating something off the ground. Don't worry, he's OK today. Mr. I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. He has it in his mind that he's going to have a miserable time being homeschooled and that going to the public school would be full of all sorts of fun. So he was grumpy, demanding, and obstinate from the get go. It was so bad, Ms. D called Hubby to complain. I was so emotionally worn out from getting him to do the smallest thing, I made him go with Taekwando Daughter to get the dollar smoothie at Jamba Juice. I was so mean. He had to get his clothes on and go. I stayed home to cool off.

When he got some food into his system, went to the bathroom, and talked to Hubby, he was a lot better off. Oh, didn't I tell you that one of the things he refused to do was eat? And he "didn't have to go" and I was so stupid telling him to go to the bathroom. Oh, yes, it was one of those kind of days. But he settled down and we were able to do some fun things while we learned.

We made donut holes and cut the recipe in half. There was a lot of fraction work and he did it in his head. I showed them what it looked like on paper. We also read a part of the guide dog training manual. I had Ms. D look up words she didn't know and write them down, words like instinct, repetition, and inherited. Mr. I already knew what they meant. There is a big difference in the two children's abilities.

Of course they do have their strengths and weaknesses in their schoolwork. Mr. I's weaknesses are in behavioral and sensory areas. He couldn't stand the sound of a metal spoon rubbing against a metal bowl while we were cooking. His strengths are in his ability to learn when he tries. Ms. D is more willing to work, and is good with animals. But she has weaknesses in her ability to learn and tends to "tune out" in life. That's why I am going to talk to the psychologist about Ms. D's sleeping habits. It's really affecting her ability to take care of the guide dog puppy. I don't mind too much doing some of the raising, but I want Ms. D to take on more responsibility.

To round out the day we did a little history, Mr. I did grammar, and Ms. D and I walked the neighbor dogs. We hadn't walked them all summer, and we noticed they had gained a lot of weight. So Ms. D was happy to speed walk in order to get those dogs into shape. I was happy. I got more exercise, Ms. D got moving, and the dogs will hopefully lose some pounds. I could lose a few pounds myself!

The first day of school is a big transition, even when homeschooling. Kids with FASD and past trauma don't do well with transitions. Hubby going to Nicaragua next week and Blackbelt daughter going away for a few days will be more changes my kids will have to deal with in the next week or so. They'll do a lot better once we fall into a rhythm, but until they get used to the change of pace, our days will probably be pretty rocky. But we'll make it, just like we have made it before. It's just when I am in the middle of dealing with a kid in crisis, I wonder how I ever could get through. In a way it's like being in labor, except it happens more frequently. Oh, and you don't get a sweet little baby in the end, just a frazzled mind.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Manna

Look at all this food!
Today I picked up some more food to distribute to group homes and to those struggling financially in our city. And this is what's left after giving some to a friend who just adopted three (yes, three) kids from Ethiopia and an unemployed neighbor who took some for herself and some for two other families in need.

Looking at all this food and knowing some of the stories of the people who will receive it reminds me how blessed I really am. As I was dropping off the food to the adoptive mom, she told me of how her kids would eat until they vomited the first few days after arriving in the States. They had learned to eat all they could get their hands on so they wouldn't starve. They just couldn't comprehend that there would be plenty more in a few hours. And yesterday, as those in that family were talking about what they were thankful for, one of their kids said, "I have plenty to eat." Think about it. There are people all over the world, and some in our own country, who are starving or who have known hunger. Real hunger. I remember as a child coming home from school to a kitchen with just spices in the cabinet and mustard in the refrigerator. And I know I am not alone in that experience. There are many who are falling through the cracks. And the food donated by stores like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods are filling the stomachs and easing the stress of those who we are able to bless.

I am also blessed to have an awesome family. My sons and their wives are involved in church ministries, are going to school for health care careers, and are helping in the food distribution. My older kids are all missions minded. One daughter couldn't afford to visit a missionary this summer, but she gave what money she did save to the missionary, instead of spending it on clothes or entertainment. Another daughter has been helping so much with the younger kids. I can't tell you how happy I was to hear her talking with Ms. D last night before bed, giggling, and playing with the puppy. Ms. D wasn't feeling well because of girl stuff, but spending time with a sister lifted her spirits. It amazes me how my older children live to serve God and others, and being a blessing is more important to them than getting ahead financially. I see other young people who live for pleasure, yet can't find it, yet my kids find pleasure in living and giving. I'm so proud of each and every one, and that includes my daughters in law!

Yes, I am blessed. And during difficult times, I need to be reminded of how truly blessed I am. I have more than enough. My cup is overflowing...And so is my dining room!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Planning, Preparation, and Packing

Oh, and a little procrastinating on my part!

This week is full of all these P words.

Hubby is preparing for his trip to Nicaragua next week.  He'll be going with his nonprofit, Progress Tools, to check on some new small businesses, bring tools, computers, and solar equipment, and to encourage the people in Nicaragua. He'll be going with a friend from church to a remote part of the Caribbean Coast to visit some people in Rama Territory. Yes, he's planning on going on another dugout dory trip on the ocean in hurricane season outside of cell range! Another highlight will be to attend the graduation of a Rama friend, who is the first Rama to obtain a Master's degree.
Luggage Bound for Nicaragua
But a trip like this takes so much planning and preparation. Hubby wasn't planning on coming this year because of finances and his health problems last winter, but God has been working things out and providing. So Hubby's been working hard to get things together the past couple of months. He's had the suitcases handy to pack equipment as he received them. It's been taking up room in our living areas, but it is the easiest way to make sure everything goes that needs to go. Other preparations he's had to do is to order parts for a microscope, have a computer fixed, and gather bakery equipment. He also has had to coordinate the plane tickets and plan his itinerary for both himself and those traveling with him. And he can't forget to do all that needs to be done at work and home so that things run smoothly in his absence! There is so much for him to do. No wonder I've already noticed an extra load on my plate!

I've had to do some preparation and planning too. We start our homeschool year Thursday. I've also done a little procrastinating. When things get stressful, I tend to do that, which isn't something I'd recommend! Things run more smoothly when I plan ahead. With kids that have special needs, I have to be flexible. There's nothing like a day full of meltdowns to ruin the best of plans. I find I can't plan too far in advance, but I do need to have a general idea of goals and schedules. Hopefully I'll have a little help this year for Ms. D. We've hit a wall academically since most high school curriculum requires quite a bit of higher level thinking. Ms. D can memorize fairly well, but to have her analyze a piece of poetry or do an algebra problem is almost impossible. But I'll have to plan on how to get her to the point where she can be a functioning adult as much as possible. It will take a lot of wisdom and prayer to accomplish that goal.

It's good to plan and prepare for much of life. Budgeting, time management, ministry, parenting, home improvement, cleaning, car maintenance, disaster planning, menus and groceries, and more need so much planning. Planning, I must admit, isn't one of my strengths. Unfortunately, I have relied on a quick mind to make decisions as I go. I'm thankful for that, yet as the pressures of all we are involved with build, I am finding that I need to make more of an effort to plan ahead. I haven't been a very organized person, but life is forcing me to be more organized. And with the increase in organization, I hope I can be more fruitful with the time and resources I have, and be a bigger blessing to those around me.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Growing Guides Meeting

Yesterday I went with Hubby and Ms. D to the Growing Guides meeting.  The people there are really amazing. I guess you'd have to be in order to raise a dog through the difficult puppy stage only to give it back after about a year.

It is so much like fostering a child, so I've been having to work through some of the emotions that have come to the surface through this process of getting a guide dog puppy. When we first did foster care with the kids, we had a lot of struggles in so many areas. But because of the great needs of the children, I never really had time to heal myself and have just stuffed all those emotions under the surface. The guide dog puppy experience is bringing those emotions back. Unfortunately, with school starting later this week, a new puppy, Hubby leaving for Nicaragua next week, and Mr. I's regression in behaviors, I haven't been able to heal well this time either.  Of course ignoring it isn't working, since it all leaks out in odd ways anyway, like being on the edge of tears at church. Well, not the edge. Crying at church is more like it. At least writing about it here brings a bit of healing though.

Anyway, the guide dog puppy meeting was really refreshing because of the quality of people there. We met outdoors and after a few prelims we divided into two groups, those with older puppies, and those of us with young ones. It was nice to be shown how to care for Brewster by someone who has been raising guide dog puppies for over 25 years.

Brewster and Me Before the Class
Gathering in the Beginning
Learning a Few Things
Brewster Helping Ms. K Show Us How to Care for Puppies
Taking a Break to "Do Your Business"
"This Class Is Going Long, I Think I'll Rest My Eyes."

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bringing Home Brewster

Yesterday Hubby, Ms. D, and Microbio Daughter picked our guide dog puppy, Brewster, from Guide Dogs for the Blind in San Raphael. They provide guide dogs for people free of charge and need more people to help them in many ways, including raising the puppies until the dogs are between 13 and 18 months old. Because my dad became blind when I was eleven, and we have a few blind friends, one of whom was just denied a guide dog, I am glad we are doing this. It will be hard for Ms. D to give up the dog, but she will learn some important skills. She wants to work with dogs when she becomes an adult.

Here are some of our first pictures of Brewster:
Brewster
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge

Entrance to the Kennel

Love at First Sight

Getting Instructions on Feeding
Brewster and Ms. D

Getting in the Car
Coming Home
We had church at our house an hour after they arrived home and we still had Nellie, the puppy we were taking care of during the week. So Brewster came home to a very busy house. I don't think he minded it one bit though. He's such an easy going puppy!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Meet Brewster!

Heeeere's... Brewster!
I just couldn't wait to post a picture of him that Microbio Daughter just sent me on the way back from San Raphael! She, Hubby, and Ms. D went to Guide Dogs for the Blind to pick him up. It looks to me like he's sitting on Ms. D's lap in our car. Yes! In our car!

Oh my! He's so cute!

He was born June 1, 2012, and we'll raise him until he's 13 to 18 months old, when hopefully he'll go to guide dog school.

Oh, cuteness!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Dog Days

It's sure hot out, but that's not why I'm calling this Dog Days!

Today we took Nellie, the guide dog puppy we are puppy sitting, to lunch with some of the family, to the library, and to the store. Nellie was perfectly behaved, as always. This picture doesn't show how she walked right by Ms. D's side and ignored the food all around her. I snapped this picture as Ms. D was hurrying to get from the air conditioned store to the air conditioned car that I was stopping in a no parking zone. Ms. D was going faster than Nellie knew she should as a good guide dog.
Tomorrow Nellie will go back to her puppy raiser and Ms. D and Hubby will go up to San Raphael to the Guide Dogs for the Blind office to pick up our new puppy. It is so eerily like becoming a foster parent! For the puppy raising, we had a house inspection, classes, and even did some respite care, just as we did in foster care. We know the age of the puppy, the breed, sex, and the first initial of his name, but not much else. When we picked up our kids from the shelter, we knew about as much information as we have with the puppy! All this is bringing up some of my traumatic memories of the first few months of foster care.

Between school starting late next week, Hubby's Nicaragua trip in less than two weeks, Mr. I's bike being stolen and all the emotional mix that brought to the family, and the puppy coming, I have quite a bit of anxiety. There is so much to do, and so much to plan in the next few weeks, yet I'm having a hard time being able to stay focused on any one thing. I did find the email with the PSP application for Ms. D's school though. I was so scattered, I didn't think of looking under the director's name in my email history until today. Now to remember the place I put her IQ test so I don't have to ask Kaiser for another copy of the report. Hubby thinks I'm worrying too much, and he's right, but I'm having a hard time slowing my mind down.

I need to:

Breathe...

And rejoice in the good things...

Like Hubby finding out today that a friend from church is going to be able to go with him to Nicaragua. He will have a partner from the USA and be able to carry more supplies down with him.

Like National Microscope Exchange that sent us a power supply we needed for the microscope in Nicaragua in less than a week!  Hubby talked to them Monday, and today it arrived with time to spare before the trip.

Like finding the email for the school application for Ms. D, and the director not chiding me for being so late.

Like the connection that happened between Mr. I and the rest of the family when we went out for lunch today. He is now talking to us in a more normal fashion, and not in a RAD way.

Like having air conditioning on a 91 degree day. And the forecast was for 99. Hot is hot, but somehow 8 degrees make a big difference. It's not even humid here in California. I have friends in Central America, and even the Midwest, that live in much worse conditions. Oh, and being able to swim in our neighbor's pool anytime we want.

Like the awesome stars I was able to see from my back yard last night when I took the clothes down from the line. I had a moment of peace in the midst of turmoil in my heart. It gave me hope I'd make it through this time.

I have so much more to be thankful for, family, God, provision, health...I have enough to be happy, and more.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The Bad and the Good

Today has been a mix of emotions. I don't know where I am at this moment. I guess the word overwhelmed would be the best description of how scattered I feel.

The bad started last night when I realized that Hubby made it so more taxes were taken out of each paycheck, which is bad now, but will be good when taxes are due. The difference of over $400 each month was pretty surprising and more than eats up the money we spent on the old car payment. I was hoping to catch up on some things once we payed the car off, but things like car and house repairs, and our yearly house insurance payment have just prevented any catching up so far. Of course, if we hadn't paid off the car we would really be in a pickle right about now, so it's good that we do have the money for these type of things.

But last night I started to fret when I realized that I would have to wait even longer to sign up Ms. D for a special needs homeschool PSP. School in our neighborhood is a week and a half away, and I was hoping to get her signed up earlier this summer so that I can have more support in planning her first high school year. But costs like a failed smog test and new tires got in the way. I hadn't put much thought into what we were going to do this year because I wanted to consult with someone else who could assess Ms. D's abilities. I also have the regional center requirements for a new IQ test and some more documentation hanging over me. To top it off, I couldn't even find the old IQ test results. I remember putting it in a safe place after the regional center meeting in June, but I just can't find it. I didn't want Ms. D finding it and getting discouraged. Those safe places aren't really that safe! The bad in all this is obvious, but add to that a restless night worrying about it all. So I was searching and sorting through papers today on less than optimal sleep. Ok, the good...Hmmm...I got three boxes of papers waiting to be filed trimmed down to one small box. I was ruthless in the sorting and I know where the paperwork isn't! I also found a donation for some missionary friends that we misplaced. We have to contact the givers to make sure it's still OK to deposit the four month old check, but if it works out, our friends in Honduras will be blessed!

Another bad thing today was Mr. I had left his bike in front of his friend's house and the bike was stolen, even though their front door was open. The kids rushed out, but didn't get a good look at the thief. We had warned Mr. I about leaving his bike around, but he thought it would be safe. It obviously wasn't. The good out of this is one of our college aged neighbors saw my rant on Facebook and gave Mr. I his old bike. Mr. I hasn't seen it yet, but I'm so thankful for provision and for great neighbors!

Oh, and we got some good news today about a puppy for our own to raise until he is old enough to go to guide dog school.  Yes, it's a male puppy born June 1st. He is half golden retriever and half yellow lab. Ms. D isn't too thrilled about a male dog with golden retriever in it because she's afraid the puppy will be too wild. But I think this will all change when she picks him up Saturday.

So even though I am overwhelmed, things are looking up in a lot of ways. I have to remind myself that God is really providing, even though I can't see how we are going to be able to make it. I'm not very good at stopping the worry monster, but I'm getting plenty of practice in learning how to overcome it. I will certainly be better off if I can learn to stop fretting. At the least I'll get more sleep!


Monday, August 6, 2012

Puppy Party!

For a day and a half, we are having a puppy party!

Nellie and Rosette are here at the same time and are having the time of their lives. As long as they don't have their guide dog jackets on they are allowed to play. And they sure play hard!
It's hard to get a picture of the two of them together when they are awake. Most were blurs of light and dark!
Of course, I can get pictures of them together when they are taking a quick drink.

Right now they are taking a morning nap. It took a bit to get them settled down, just like kids at a sleepover. But now I hear loud snoring in Ms. D's room! The puppies wore themselves out!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Taming the Trap of Perfectionism

Recently I spent some time with a friend who does not seem satisfied with what she has. Everything she touches has to be perfect, or she gets really upset. It really bothered me, since in my eyes she has it pretty good, a beautiful house in good repair, a recent success in her career, a husband who tries to help her, and enough money for extras, like nice vacations. Yes, she struggles with some things. Who doesn't? But being around the negativity and perfectionism has been a real downer for me. After I spent time with her I wondered if I should confront her. Would she even listen to what I say? Probably not. She's really hurting.

But the perfectionism in my friend has pointed out to me the perfectionism in my own life. Now, you wouldn't think that I am tempted in this way if you spent some time with me. There are a couple of dozen of repairs waiting to be done in my house. I don't have the perfect family, perfect looks, perfect house, perfect career, perfect car, perfect garden, or perfect anything.  Life has pushed outward perfectionism out the window long ago, and slammed the window shut when we took in foster kids.

But the hidden perfectionism is still there. It bubbled out when the leaky pipe messed up the wood floors in my daughter's room two weeks ago. It seeped through when the car repair bill earlier this week almost doubled and I realized that I would have to wait even longer to enroll Ms. D in a PSP and get her evaluated for the coming school year. I had wanted to do it on time and on budget, but it just hasn't been possible. And perfectionism burst forth when I told a friend about the park incident earlier this week and she seriously told me that Ms. D probably was smoking pot with her friend and the creepy guys. I then beat myself up, because Ms. D and I had made some mistakes that day. I focused on the negative things, and not on the positives in each of these situations.

To me, perfectionism isn't just doing something well. It isn't doing your best. It isn't aiming to keep things in good repair, being organized, or surrounding yourself with beauty and order. Perfectionism is having a fit, either outwardly or inwardly, when things don't work out as well as you had hoped. It is not being thankful for what you do have, and focusing time and energy on the things you don't have. I am being a perfectionist when I am not grateful. I am a perfectionist when I insist that others around me look and perform to unattainable standards, and become resentful when they don't. Perfectionism is a wall that separates me from others and God, and leads me down a path of unhappiness.

Now I realize I can't really confront my friend's perfectionism until I deal with the perfectionism in my own life. I need to concentrate on the good things I am given, to be truly thankful and appreciative. I need to put relationships above performance, in my own life and in others. I'm still going to be honest and real. The phony, "everything's fine" line doesn't help relationships and can become outward perfectionism and be prideful. But I want to be the kind of person that says, "Yes, I'm having a hard time with this, but look at the good things God has blessed me with." I want to be grateful. I want to have a heart that sees beyond the trials of this life and that sees the good in this world and the world to come. I want a heart that can forgive, both myself and others. I want to extend the grace that has been given to me to others, and not condemn them, even if they fail me. I want to see the beauty in everything and everyone around me, and not focus on the flaws. I want to live a happy and fulfilled life.