Sunday, September 30, 2012

Happy Birthday Microbio Daughter!

Today was Microbio Daughter's 25th birthday!

She is the most amazing woman! If you know her, you'd see the quiet peace and strength she brings wherever she goes. You hardly know she's there, except things get done. So many times she has seen a need and quietly filled it. She's not one to blow her own horn, yet she would have good reason to. She's smart, beautiful, and kind. She is as comfortable in third world countries as she is in Silicon Valley. I guess you almost have to be in our house! She was the kind of little girl that would insist on wearing only dresses, yet would sled or ride a Big Wheel down a steep country driveway. I sometimes worried about ignoring her needs because of the siblings that needed more attention. Sometimes the squeaky wheels get the grease. She definitely has not been a squeaky wheel. She taught herself to read just by listening to me try to teach her older brothers. When other teenagers were getting help from their parents with SAT prep and college admissions, she had to do those things on her own. And yet again, she rose to the challenge and went to Cal Poly. It has been an awesome privilege to see her blossom into a young woman. It will be exciting to see what the next few years will hold for her. I pray that God will bless her! She has been such a blessing to me and others.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

I'm Not Martha, Really I'm Not

I have eight cups of strawberry jam in the canner right now. I canned twelve more quarts of tomatoes yesterday, bringing the total to thirty in three days. I'm planning to finish up the tomatoes tomorrow or the next day, and maybe some applesauce. And if you think I'm competing with Martha Stewart or something, realize that I have let just about everything else go the past few days. I have a pile of dirty clothes in the garage waiting to be washed, since I've only done one load a day, and a pile of clean clothes on the family room sofa waiting for the family to pick through so I don't have to fold. My house is a mess, especially the kitchen, though the dog enjoyed licking up the tomato sauce drippings off the floor. I should be cleaning, but instead I'm sitting at the computer talking about it. It's almost as bad as when people come to a prayer meeting and spend almost all the time talking about prayer instead of actually doing it! And for those of you who are thinking I should get my family to do something, you should know that all those who are well are more than pulling their weight. Well, except for Mr. I, which would require a lot more effort than I care to spend right now.

It's been a really tough week with the little ones. I don't know if it has been the mild virus passing through the ranks, hormones, birth family contact, the kids hiding something from me, or what, but their behaviors have been almost unbearable. I'd blame it on the canning projects and the lack of attention, but they started before I even got the jars out Wednesday, and I've saved most of the canning for when other members of the family were home. I was thinking the kids were doing better yesterday, but I was just getting accustomed to being treated like dirt. Hubby saw them at one of their better times and thought it was bad, so he talked to them. Even a little talking from Dad moved them to tears, and they started to treat me better after that. But there's something going on which I just can't figure out. I guess that's another reason why I'm not getting as much done. This parenting of kids with FASD and past trauma brings a certain level of stress with it, and I don't have much emotional energy after dealing with the kids' dysregulation.

Of course, there have been good times this week, which is so needed! Canning is so satisfying because I get to see a finished product which will last awhile. Too much of what I do is unseen, or only lasts a few hours. Dishes need to be done twice a day, and so does laundry. It's hard to measure the kids' progress in school work. You get the picture. It is so good to see something finished!

We were able to go to Jamba Juice yesterday and get their $1 smoothies because of a special. I loved the pomegranate kind. Yum! Hubby delivered a bunch of food Wednesday and today and cleaned out his side of the closet. Of course it now makes my side look even worse, but it's nice to have something organized, even if I didn't do it. Well, especially since I didn't have to do it!

My oldest son and wife were able to go to Hawaii for a vacation, which may be the last time they'll be able to go for awhile, now that Grandson is almost two and Drumming Son is hopefully going back to school soon. And except for a scare when my son hit his head on some concrete stairs the first day, they are having a great time. Photography son and his wife just celebrated their second anniversary! Microbio Daughter has been helping me a lot with the puppy and Ms. D. I'm so thankful for the way she just pitches in when she sees a need. We went to the farmers market together today and we got some awesome fruit, vegetables, and cheese. Yum! And I was able to see Blackbelt Daughter in action today as she tutored a neighbor girl. It's so good to see my kids doing their passions and making a difference in the world!
Oh, and I'll have to add great friends which encourage and help each other in our times of need. It seems like even though this week has been difficult for me, I've had plenty of encouragement from others, even as I encourage or bless them in some way. I couldn't do what I do without the support of family and friends in my life. I guess even the real Martha Stewart has a team around her! No one can do life alone!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Dozen Down....

Yesterday was quite a day...

I ordered sixty pounds of tomatoes a week ahead of time, thinking not much was going to happen and I could can some food after schoolwork. But then in the morning I noticed a text to pick up food to distribute to those in need. So we started school a bit late so I could pick up the food. Which bumped school work into the late morning and early afternoon, which delayed the canning. I also had to get supper made, which consisted mostly of leftovers, except for the fresh corn on the cob, but it still took time. Then a neighbor called and asked if we could watch her son for a couple of hours. We did, but Hubby had to take Ms. D to the guide dog meeting. I was still canning, and if it were not for Microbio daughter stepping to the plate and playing with the little guy before her own meeting, things would not have gone so smoothly. But I was still canning until fairly late. And I only finished twelve quarts.

So this morning I was going to finish the rest of the tomatoes. But the puppy woke up early and needed a lot more attention than normal. Normal for him is a lot. So I didn't get anything else done, except for a load of laundry. I woke the kids pretty late because the time was so filled. Thinking they'd get their breakfast and start schoolwork, I went outside to try to weed my front garden before the lawn debris truck came by. Then a friend dropped some coolers off for the food distribution and we chatted. I came in to find that Mr. I did some schoolwork but Ms. D was still in bed. She was so groggy, I don't think she got a thing out of what we did today. We took a walk with the dogs, but she couldn't finish. I guess she really was sick!

So today I'm starting the canning process late again. So much for grand plans! I guess this is why I haven't canned much food since I got the two younger ones. There's always something coming up! But I have twelve quarts of tomatoes done, and about twelve more to go. Oh, and the strawberries I bought last weekend need some attention...and the apples!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Too Much Food in the House!

Yesterday Mr. I complained that there was "nothing to eat" in our house.

Today he complained that there is too much food in our house.

Today he is right!

But don't worry. I'm not hoarding. I just picked up a bunch of produce and desserts for the food distribution ministry. And since leaving it in the car all day until we could deliver it was not a good idea, I piled the food in our dining room. This is how much that was left over after I had already given some to neighbors. Yes, there really is a lot of food, but it will go out this evening. The food we get is like manna. It only lasts a day or two, and then it spoils. That's why we nicknamed our car the Manna Mobile!

I also picked up sixty pounds of tomatoes today at the farm stand closest to our house. I'm making some tomato sauce. Maybe if I get tired before I'm done I'll just can the tomatoes straight. Those would be good in chili.

I found out the farm stand sells seconds for half price, which makes it worth it to can, especially since I already have the jars. Mr. I was asking my why I bought so much, and I told him that this was the harvest time and I like to can. He told me that I never did this before. It was then I realized that even though I canned all the time when we lived in Oregon over thirteen years ago, I haven't done a lot of canning here in California. He hasn't seen me can food much at all. I've done some canning, a batch of jam here and there. But it was hard to justify canning when the cost of produce was so high compared to what I was used to, and we could grow a little bit of food year round in our small garden. It also was pretty dangerous to have boiling things on the stove when the youngest two were smaller. They just didn't have the sense to stay out of trouble and I was afraid of burns. Now they are old enough to stay away from harm. Or maybe they know that if they are near, I'll ask them to help!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Therapeutic Parent Fail

Yes, I'm not perfect.

I make mistakes.

I get tired, really tired, of the behaviors of my kids sometimes.

I still love them.

I understand that today's behaviors are just a continuation of the pain they felt after the birth dad called yesterday and told them the birth mom isn't doing well. I understand that they are hurt that birth mom and the brothers and sister haven't tried to contact them in months. I understand how hurt Ms. D is, to be falsely accused by her birth mom of saying something she never said or thought.

I understand that when they are having a difficult time processing their loss, their frustration, and their hurts, they lash out or withdraw. Well, Ms. D withdraws, sleeps, acts really sluggish, or sometimes even checks out by having a seizure. Mr. I picks fights, whines, complains, and can't settle down.

I understand that as a good therapeutic parent, I need to keep things calm, firm, cheerful, upbeat, playful, predictable, and loving.

But sometimes I really lose it when it all overwhelms me.

Like this morning. 

When schoolwork seemed like a joke.  I might have been able to handle the "I don't know" answer for every...single...question, but I just couldn't handle the sneers and rolling eyes, the lies about what they did, and the refusals to do the simplest of tasks.

It was hard to handle the two hour constant dripping of Mr. I complaining that there was nothing to eat, although the cupboards and refrigerator are full and I had plenty of ideas for him. But even harder was when he told me that the reason he doesn't come home for supper every night is because he hates all the food I give him. Yes, we are not Taco Bell and McDonald's.

Then, when I found out a friend will be coming over tonight, I asked the kids to clean up their messes. And Mr. I's response pushed me over the brink. He knew where to hurt me, and he dug it in.

And I lost it. I yelled. I told him I didn't like him very much right now.

That is NOT what a good therapeutic parent would say, especially the way I was carrying on, crying in the kitchen, cleaning at a furious pace, while he silently ate his eggs in the dining room.

Fortunately we made up after I calmed down. He apologized. I apologized. We hugged. We made up. He cleaned his messes. And for the first time ever, he cleaned a little more without me asking him to. He told me he loved me as he just went out the door to play with friends. I got what I wanted and we are on good terms now.

But why do I still feel so sad about it all?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Well, Hello, Birth Family!

The kids' birth dad called today. He had tried calling once or twice this past month while I wasn't with the kids but Ms. D didn't want to call back. Today he called while we were all here, so Ms. D talked to him.

He told Ms. D that one of the older brothers is in our town now. Oh great! It's just what we need, another gang banger around. Of course, he hasn't tried to contact the kids, which is fine by me, but it hurts the kids. He obviously doesn't care as much about them as they care about him, which to them is another rejection.

Ms. D also found out that Birthmom is mad at Ms. D because she thinks Ms. D called the oldest daughter a B... Well Ms. D told her dad she didn't, so the dad told her that Birthmom isn't doing well right now and is kind of crazy. This doesn't surprise me at all. Birthmom usually is able to hold it together for a few months, but as soon as the outside supports are gone, she goes back to the drugs. And when she goes back to the drugs, she gets mean or she stays away from the kids. I'm glad she is staying away for the kids' sake, but I can't imagine what the kids are going through right now.

They really acted strange and dysregulated after the phone call, yet they didn't want to talk. Later, Ms. D was able to tell a friend what went on, and it was the friend who answered me when I asked if there were any more details about Birthmom and how she was doing. The friend told me no, but it was probably because Birthdad was trying to protect Ms. D. I am thankful for Birthdad's wisdom in this. I'm thankful for Ms. D's friend. She really understands what Ms. D is going through, because her father is in jail and she lives with her mom and step dad. But her friend is able to think things through. Ms. D struggles. We talked about how even though both girls are being taken care of, they still think of their birth parents. Well, I actually told her, "Even though Dalina has the most awesome, wonderful, amazing parents taking care of her, she still worries a little bit about the birth family. And I'm sure you worry about your dad too." Her friend said, "A lot. But there's nothing I can do about it."

So tonight I'm asking for wisdom in how to talk with the kids about their realization that things aren't going that well with Birthmom.  Ms. D, especially, needs to find a way to process her feelings without seizing or sleeping too much. I guess it's better than drugs and alcohol, but it's not the best. On the other hand, it's really hard for me, as an adoptive mother, to say anything that can be taken for criticism of the birth family. Because when I say something negative, even if it is true or I think it could help Ms. D not take the lack of contact or hurtful behaviors personally, it can be interpreted as being negative toward the kids themselves.  My instincts are to shield the kids from hurt and stay as far away from the birth family as possible. But whether I like it or not, there is a deep connection to the birth family. I just wish the birth family would get it together enough to make it a good connection. But things aren't looking to good for that right now. And that's just so sad.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Preventing Chicken Escapes

Recently, of our new chickens flew over the six foot tall fence into our neighbors' yard. I don't have a problem with the full grown hens, they are so fat, but these new chicks can really fly if they want to. To prevent the young chicks from getting into trouble, I clip their primary feathers with sharp scissors.

If only keeping my kids home and out of trouble was as easy as this!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Discovering God

Last night and this afternoon Hubby and I went to a conference given by City Team and Gathering by the Bay. There was so much to learn, and even more for me to change, in the way I think about helping people to get to know God better. I had lost the desire to get people to come to my church a long time ago, yet I still want people to know God. But how do you do that, when so many people have been hurt, or bored, or turned off by churches for one reason or another? How do you encourage families and other close groups to get together and learn about the Bible themselves, without a lot of top down control? Even though I've heard some of the stuff before, there were things that really rocked me. I wonder what kind of things have I innocently, yet wrongly, done to get between people and God, and to get in the way of people discovering God for themselves? I'm sure there's been plenty!

I'm so thankful that I was able to go, though I did miss a bit this morning because Brewster needed his last Parvo and his rabies shots. One more week and we'll be able to take him out to discover the world! Wow! I just realized that there is a tie between Brewster discovering the world, and people discovering God. Just like Brewster, we don't see, we really have no clue, what is beyond our experience. Others can tell us, but we don't really know until we take those first steps. And there is more than we can possibly imagine, even after we start the journey. Life is so amazing! Life with God is pretty amazing too!

Friday, September 21, 2012

First Rama With a Master's Degree!

We are so happy for our friend, Ervin, who graduated from URACCON University in Nicaragua with a masters degree! He is the first Rama to get a masters. He's worked so hard to get the degree and has accomplished so much in his community. I can't wait to see how his life unfolds.

Hubby was hoping to see the graduation in person, but because of a change in schedule, he wasn't able to make it. Instead, we all got to see it from our own home.

Oh, and how do you like our orange curtain behind the computer? It's just an old blanket I nailed to cover the window from the summer sun until I can get something more permanent. I almost took it off before taking the video, but then there would have been too much back light. It doesn't look the best, but I like to think of it as my hippie curtain.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Feeling For You

Today I talked to a couple of friends who are going through so much. My heart goes out to them. Both are grieving in one way or another. Both are struggling in ways that make my troubles seem small. I also am reading a book, The Man Who Broke Into Auschwitz by Denis Avey. And even though it is written well, and the story must be told, the subject matter is a bit depressing.

So tonight, Hubby is playing music by Rich Mullins on the anniversary of Rich's death homecoming as I write this. It's amazing how the music can so easily draw me into a peaceful, worshipful state, even when I'm a bit worn out from yesterday's trials, and from listening to the stories of my friends today. It reminds me to look beyond the things of this world and set my focus on God. There is more to this life than what we see. Sometimes I need a little reminder. And tonight the reminder was music.

Paperwork, Barf, and Other Unpleasant Tasks

As you can tell from the title, this has not been my favorite day. But through it all, I've kept a good attitude, at least I think I have.

We took our van in to get fixed today. I thought it would just be brakes and maybe shocks, but it turns out that there was a whole lot more that needed to be done, a new timing belt, motor mount that broke, and while our mechanic neighbor had the engine out, the water pump and more. None of those things could have been put off, except the shocks, which we saved for later. The rest were essential and needed to be done before we drove another mile. We did have to put some of the repairs on the credit card, which was pretty hard to do since we are trying to get out of debt, not deeper in it. Fortunately, our friends had given us money the other day for travel and household expenses. I don't want to imagine what would have happened, had I put off the repairs any longer for a lack of cash. A broken timing belt could have ruined the engine, and bad brakes are just plain dangerous. I certainly would not have brought it in without our friends' help. For that I am so thankful.

After getting the news about the expensive van repairs, I found out a good friend's little boy may have Aspergers. What makes it even more difficult is that my friend already has other family members on the autistic spectrum and has her plate full already. Fortunately, she is having a lot more support in her state than she ever did for her daughter here in California. California isn't a very good state to have a child who has a disability. Even with Ms. D's FAS and MR, the state and schools here have dragged their feet every step of the way.

While talking with my friend I was reminded to send a test to the regional center for Ms. D's evaluation for services. And guess what? The psychologist happened to call later in the afternoon to remind me. So I filled out a few pages of paperwork and sent it off this evening after picking up the van. I do not like paperwork and had been putting it off for a couple of months.

While talking on the phone with my friend, I was interrupted by Mr. I. He had a headache and was really whiney. Well, the headache turned into a full blown stomach flu that's been going around friends and extended family. I thought we had missed it, but no, it's here. I'm hoping the tiredness, headaches, and queasiness that I've had the past day or so is as bad it will get for me. It isn't easy being a mom and sick at the same time. I hope Mr. I gets over it quickly. I just read an article about how FASD affects immune function. If you're as medical geeky as I am, you might be interested in reading it here.

Hubby also found out today that he will not be able to telecommute for his job from Oregon. They would like him to stay here. We were kind of hoping to move closer to our parents in their golden years, where the kids would be away from gangs and have more educational and support services, and where the cost of living is far less than in Silicon Valley. But I know that God knows what would be best for our family, and our older kids have pretty solid roots here in California right now. I'd really miss my grandson! Telecommuting may be an option later, or we can go after Hubby retires, but for now we're staying put. Hubby and I did go for some pho when we picked the car up and had a good talk. The pho was easy on my stomach and so delicious. I'm so thankful that Microbio Daughter was able to care for the kids so we could spend some time together.

But the day still wasn't over! I had to write course descriptions and grading policies for Ms. D's school by tomorrow. I thought I'd get it done a day early and finished all six class descriptions in one evening. I didn't want to put it off to the last day. Is procrastinating still procrastinating if you put something off until the day before the due date, when you could have done it in the last two weeks? Mmmm...yeah...But I really, really hate paperwork!

My older kids used to joke around with me after the first day of school. They'd wave all the paperwork I needed to sign in front of my face and laugh. It's not the difficulty that bugs me. I can handle just about anything a bureaucrat throws at me. I just think I've signed enough documents and answered enough silly questions for a few lifetimes when we fostered and adopted. I'll do it if I have to, but it's not my favorite thing to do! Did I say I hated paperwork?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Take Me Out to the Ball Game!

Last night, Microbio Daughter took Mr. I and me to a Giants baseball game!

I have to admit, I had a bit of tears in my eyes as I walked through the gates and saw the green field and crowds? Why? Because even though I've loved baseball since I was a little kid, I have never been to a major league baseball game in all of my fifty-one years.

My dad and grandpa loved baseball. I remember listening to the Cubs games on the radio as we did errands about town. I also remember being a bit put out when the games on TV would air instead of the Mickey Mouse Club too! But other than that minor irritant, I loved watching baseball. Ernie Banks and Willie Mays were my heroes. One day I even skipped home from school after hearing that Ernie Banks hit another home run, and completely forgot my Girl Scout meeting! And even though everyone around me was a Cubs fan, my second favorite team as a kid was the Giants. So going to a Giants game was so special, even more than my daughter imagined. I was pretty good at hiding my love of the game because it wasn't something Hubby has been interested in.

So last night was wonderful! We drove to San Francisco and got all bundled up. I was so excited, it took me a little bit to pay attention to the game. The whole atmosphere was so fun and festive. And even though our seats were the nosebleeds, it actually was even better because we had a great view of the bay and were protected from the cool wind by the overhang. It was a night I won't ever forget!

There were some rough patches, and they were because of Mr. I. The crowds, the noise, and the excitement were overwhelming to his sensory system. He complained of being thirsty, but didn't like the hot chocolate I gave him. I wasn't going to get him anything cold to drink because I was sure he would start with the complaining about being cold, which he did anyway. He wanted to leave after the third inning, and didn't want his picture taken. Fortunately, Microbio Daughter realizes that he does this when he is over excited and didn't seem to distressed about his behavior.

But an even bigger cause of Mr. I's distress was fear. It's sad to think, but he actually though he'd die while we went to the baseball game. He talked about drive by shootings and kidnappings as we came and when we walked back to the car. He was sure a homeless person sleeping next to the sidewalk was going to jump up and grab him. He clutched my arm as we walked through the crowds. And he told me that even though he knows where he was going after he died, he didn't want to die before I did. No amount of assurances on my part about the security guards, the safety in being with a lot of other families going to the game, or reminding him of God's protection would calm his fears. I just don't know how to help him heal. The wounds from the trauma when he was under three years old are so deep. It's especially hard because the fears weren't stored in the verbal part of his brain, but the emotional. That, and FASD, has caused some of the neural pathways to get all mixed up, and he thinks he's bored or hungry when he really is overwhelmed. Yes, he asked for food, even though he ate an In and Out double cheeseburger and fries in the car on the way to the game. There was no way that he could be hungry, but he thought he'd die of hunger if I didn't give him food right away.

But we endured his complaints and had a good time anyway. Mr. I did calm down by the seventh inning, and had a good time listening to a very vocal fan in front of us. And despite having to deal with Mr. I's stuff, I had a great time at the game! Go Giants!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Swing Low, Swing High

There is so much happening, it may have been better to break it up into different posts. But I decided to put it all together, since this is how I'm processing all the things in real time. There are extremely awesome things going on, and things that trouble me.

I'll start with the troublesome things, because I really like to end on a positive note.

Today is another court date for oldest birth brother. He's the one that's been in jail for a few years awaiting trial for murdering a nineteen year old girl while in a group of family members on the light rail. Hubby has attended a few of these court proceedings, but we decided it would be best to stay away this time. Why? Because the birth family has distanced themselves from us lately and we haven't seen the birth mom since May. And when that has happened in the past, there usually was a good reason, mom in jail, drug use, gang activity, that sort of thing. Ms. D has had less seizure activity since then also. The only time was when she had her blood drawn, which says something to me. I will still look up the case as well as I can online, we will still pray for the family, but we won't be the ones to initiate contact. They know how to find us. Our kids know that if they want to, we will make the phone call or visit, but they don't ask. I think they realize that not all is well at the birth family's house right now. So I have made the decision to not tell the kids about the hearing today. Nothing will probably happen anyway, other than a decision to meet at a later day.

Another troublesome thing was that I got a friend request from a guy I knew in high school. We were friends in band when I was thirteen and fourteen, but I stayed away from him when I felt uncomfortable with some of the things he did. I'm glad I broke contact! When I got the friend request, I felt uneasy, so I decided to look up what he was up to the past thirty something years. I'm glad I did that before I accepted the request. I found out that he did become a doctor like he had planned, but four years ago he was convicted of sexual assault, child porn, and drug charges. I can say a lot about this, but I won't. It's just too disturbing. I'll just say I'm thankful that because of the birth family, I learned to look up things about people on the internet!

Ok, that's enough of the creepy, dark, stuff! Let's now focus on the amazing, wonderful things!

At church the other night a friend handed us a card. In it was a generous check for us to use for travel and household expenses. It was amazing! We really could use the money this week because I need to get the van's brakes and shocks, or struts or whatever that car uses, looked at. I've been ignoring the sounds and the really bouncy ride the past couple of months because there were other priorities. But now we'll have enough for the repairs! It is such a blessing!

And another thing I am looking forward to this evening is my very first major league baseball game! Microbio Daughter is taking Mr. I and me to the Giants game this evening for my birthday! I have always been baseball crazy. I grew up a Cubs fan, living in Illinois, but the Giants were always my second favorite team as a kid. And now that I'm living in California, I think it's about equal. Please be nice to me, my Illinois friends!

Well, now I need to get ready to take Ms. D back to Child Psychiatry. I don't know why we're having this appointment, but I'm guessing it's because we have a new psychologist. Our last one moved to Illinois, of all places!

So, as you can see, I've had awesome things and troublesome things happening the past couple of days.
But when I think about it, the troublesome things are around us, but haven't really touched us. And even though even world events are disturbing, God is showing us that He cares for us, is protecting us, and will take care of us. He is blessing us, through others and directly, and is bringing us through. And with that knowledge, I can come out the other side.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Bee Guild Picnic

Today was the annual Bee Guild Picnic! We met outdoors at a fellow beekeeper's garden and patio. I'm guessing the property was on about an acre, which is pretty impressive for Silicon Valley. There were fruit trees, gardens, chickens, irises, and of course a few hives.
Bee Guild Picnic
Check Out the Guy With the White Hat and Bow Tie!

We had a potluck and barbecue main dish.
The food was so good and I ate too much again!
I love the bee people! I guess bees attract a certain kind of person. You have to bee willing to work with little insects that can hurt you, yet can produce such a yummy food you can share if you break into their houses and can still keep calm. And yes, we walked around the host's hives with no bee suits and no worries. Well, one woman flinched when a bee bumped into her as she stood in front of the hive, but other than that, there wasn't a sign of distress. Nerves of steel! These are real beekeepers!
We sat at tables under shades 
It was good to talk to people about beekeeping. We learned so much again! We also talked about philosophy, work, whether it's worth it or not to have a degree that will not guarantee a job, how to control rats and raccoons, and more. Hubby was even able to tell people about his non profit, Progress Tools, what he does there, and even briefly share how people were healed on his last trip. Others had some good ideas for businesses and other needs, and some more networking opportunities for Hubby and the people of Nicaragua.

I was so glad we went. So often we don't take time for mixing with people who aren't just like us. There were scientists and gardeners, retired people and kids, people from California and others from across the world. Yes, it's good to get support and have camaraderie with those going through similar circumstances. I get so much out of being with other moms of special needs kids, or other Christians. But it's also good to mix things up a bit and cross pollinate with those who are different. I need both.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

We All Need Support!

Today we had a support group meeting at the Almaden Valley Christian School office and ranch. It was an awesome time!

It was good to meet others who are homeschooling special needs children. Of course, special needs come in all sorts of colors, and the staff at AVCS helps parents to homeschool kids that don't fit the mold. I wish I had known about Sharon Hensley and AVCS when I was homeschooling another of my children, or even sooner with Ms D. I think I would have been a lot more confident and knowledgeable.

Today, we first had a time to talk and meet with the staff and other parents. Oh! I'm not alone!

We had a short time of learning some technology. There is a program I'd like to look into called Paper Port Notes that looks interesting, if not for the kids, maybe me or some of my kids that are in college.

Then Sharon talked on Reality Scheduling: How being both scheduled and flexible can keep you sane.  I liked that she acknowledged that each family and each child is different, so the ideas given weren't set in stone, but ideas to help us make decisions for our own families. She also had great insight into how to have things scheduled, yet teach flexibility to our children who have such a need for routine. This extreme need for routine is one of the areas where FASD and Autism Spectrum cross, so I think ideas she had will help with my kids. It was good to know that I'm not the only one who needs to deal with meltdowns when the phone rings or we have to go to an appointment and can't do school at the same time every day. Some of the ideas given were to have a visual schedule, slowly stretch a child so that she can learn to wait and handle changes, if you have to change the schedule be sure to warn the child ahead of time and remind her that there will be a change, and ways to smooth transitions. There was so much more, but those are some of the things that I can focus on now.

After that we had a delicious lunch of Chinese chicken salad in the back lawn. We were able to talk some more with other parents. I was also able to look through some of the suggested curriculum in the office before I bought it. Hopefully I'll find something that will be a better fit!

Even though I've been homeschooling over half my life, which is a pretty weird thought, I still need the support of other people who are following similar paths. Yes, I could probably manage on my own. I could have researched and read some of the same information I got at the meeting today. But I would have missed out on the intangibles. I would have missed being face to face with other parents of special needs kids, and seeing the humor, grace, and kindness of Sharon and others on the AVCS staff. Or I would have missed being with other people who don't think you're either crazy and irresponsible, or a saint with perfect patience for homeschooling your kids. And in all truthfulness, I would have missed the relief of having little bit of a break from the pressures and responsibilities of raising and teaching kids that need a whole lot of attention. I's so glad I have that kind of support!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Birthday Expectations

Yesterday was my birthday, and I have a lot to be thankful for.

You see, I come into the day with expectations:

That Hubby and others would forget my birthday. They didn't! I was so blessed by their love!

That the two youngest kids would remember my birthday. And because birthdays and holidays set off all kinds of pretty bad behaviors in kids with past trauma, birthdays have been some of the worst days of the year. We've had meltdowns, anger, the whole works. It doesn't matter if it's one of their own birthdays or someone else's. The overstimulation, change of schedule, and focus on someone else, or a focus on them, is just too much.

That I would be able to relax and have a day off! Haha! Now that's an unrealistic expectation, don't you think? That was not going to happen, but I did have a good day!

Why did I have a good day?

Because I didn't change the schedule too much for the little ones. We did school. I took care of the puppy for Ms. D in the morning so that she could get enough sleep. I let her sleep in a little so she wouldn't be grumpy and out of sorts. We had a "normal" day.

Because I found a friend's post about a drivers license picture that reminded me that my license was expiring on my birthday. The DMV closed at 5:00. I saw the post at 4:15, put on a little makeup and brushed my hair, got to the DMV just before 4:30 (we live less than a mile away), was able to borrow a pen from another lady in line so I could fill out the form, and I was out the door with a temporary license by 4:45. I'm hoping my picture turned out OK! We'll see in a couple of weeks.

Because I chose our local Chinese restaurant to have my birthday dinner. We ate at the scheduled time, 5:30. Mr. I ordered Mongolian Beef and orange soda, and Ms. D ordered Chicken Chow Fun and root beer. We had the same waitress, sat at the same table, and the kids sat at their usual chairs.

Grandson came over the second day in a row! I always love to spend time with him!

I had an awesome birthday gift from God. Ms. D told me about the sunset when I was busy doing something in the kitchen. She knows what I like. So I had a God painted sunset to enjoy on my birthday!

Because my family really blessed me, but gave me gifts at different times of the day. I don't know if anyone noticed it, but opening presents as they come works so much better with the little kids than having a special opening gifts time. Why? Because things in little doses spread throughout the day, even good things, aren't as overwhelming. I got an awesome card from one son and his family with some of the first artwork my grandson has made! One of my daughters gave me chocolates from Powell's Sweet Shoppe. The s'more was so delicious! I had it for a snack this morning. But I'll be good and have just one a day! I hope I can restrain myself! Another daughter is taking Mr. I and me to a Giants game next week. I love baseball and I've never been to a major league game before. So this will be such a treat! I will be going out with another son and his wife this evening. My sister sent a pocket planner with Van Gogh paintings throughout and a really cute card with a saxophone on it. People sent kind wishes on the computer from all parts of the country.

I am so blessed! 

We all have expectations.

We actually need expectations to make it through the day. I expect that the automatic door at the library will open so I don't run into it. I expect cars to drive on the right side of the road. I expect that the electricity will work when it's time to make dinner. I expect that gravity will work, that the police will keep things safe, that maps are correct, and that stores will be open.

Some expectations are realistic and some are not. It is not realistic for me to expect my little ones, who have FASD, RAD, PTSD, MR, past trauma, etc. to behave like my older kids when they were the same age. I can expect them to be growing in their behavior and attitudes, but I can't expect the same emotional, social, mental, and even spiritual level of maturity. When I do have unrealistic expectations, I get frustrated, the kids get frustrated, and everyone has a bad time. I find I constantly have to adjust expectations in the face of reality. To keep myself sane, I need to look not on the disappointments, unmet expectations, and my or other's shortcomings. But I need to focus on the good things, the growth, the blessings, and most of all on love.

I am loved. My kids are loved. You are loved.
That is the biggest realistic expectation.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Birthday Gift From the DMV

Believe it or not, I got a birthday gift from the DMV.

No, it wasn't the $31.00 I spent on the driver's license renewal fee. Since it was my birthday, my license  expired today. I had forgotten to renew it until I noticed a friend talking about her drivers license picture on Facebook this afternoon less than an hour before closing time. Oops!

No, it wasn't the friendly attention by the clerks as they answered my questions and helped me to fill out the forms. In fact, the lady at the front desk chatted the whole time she was helping me with a coworker behind her about throwing a baby shower. She didn't even acknowledge me, but just took my paperwork and did whatever she needed to do to finish her job with the least amount of effort possible.

The present was that I was in and out of the DMV in less than 20 minutes! This included the eye test and a photo. This has to be a record! What a great birthday present!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Grandson Time!

This morning didn't start out too well.

It started way to early, about 4:30 am. I had gone to bed about 11:00 the night before. I heard the chicks make a ton of noise and then heard something fly over the fence. I thought an owl got one of the chicks, with all the noise that I heard. I was too tired to get up and check but couldn't fall back to sleep because...

At 5:00 Hubby's alarm clock went off. I didn't need to, but I got up to find his t-shirt in the drawer. He was trying to be nice to me and not turn the light on bright, so he couldn't find the t-shirt. I was the one who put it in there, so I knew I could find it.

So when he left just before 6:00, I thought I could squeeze a little sleep in before I got the puppy up.

But just when I fell asleep, around 6:20, the chickens started making noise, a lot of noise. So I got up, just in time to see a cat running from the chickens. After spending about ten to fifteen minutes trying to calm the chickens down, and realizing that one of the chicks was missing, I tried to sleep again.

But at 7:00, my son called and said that Green Mama was feeling pretty green and could I watch Grandson? Could I? Of course!

So I quickly showered, got dressed, hung up some clothes on the line, noticed the chick wasn't missing but had just flown over the fence, turned on the frying pan for some french toast, did an ADD thing and decided to retrieve the chick, went to the neighbors only to discover they locked their gate and the chick would come to me but not close enough to grab, went back to the house to discover that Microbio daughter was fanning the smoke alarm because I left the pan burning, thanked her for turning off the pan, got some cracked corn to lure the chick, grabbed the chick under the neighbor's gate, took her back home, fed the chickens, finished fixing breakfast, ate, took care of the puppy, did a load of dishes...

And then Grandson came!!!!!

The rest of the day was definitely at a slower pace.
We did our homeschool. We played. We ate.
We took a walk.
Mr. I walking Grandson
We napped.
Ms. D got Grandson to sleep right away!
Even I got a much needed nap.
I did a little housework and went to the farm stand to get some fresh veggies and corn.
We did some gardening with Grandson when Hubby came home.
We ate a nice chicken dinner.
We slowed down our day, and it sure was good!
Oh, and here's a bonus puppy pic from last night:
Microbio Daughter and Brewster
Isn't Brewster cute?

Happy Birthday, Mom

Hi Mom,
Today is your birthday and tomorrow is mine! I'm so glad that we get to almost share our special days. It's funny how the busier I get as a mom, the more I appreciate all you went through when we were little. When I get overwhelmed with two kids which require a lot of extra attention, and the house is getting messy, and people come over, and so many projects get pushed aside, I think of what you went through when I was young. When I think I have my plate a little too full, I remember how you raised four kids who were only 4 1/2 years apart, and then you went back to nursing school and worked full time when Dad lost his sight. Oh, and my sister was hit by a truck. And finances were pretty bad for awhile. And Dad was pretty down most of the time because everything he loved to do required sight, so you had to pick up the slack. I just don't know how you ever did it. We were quite a handful! Yet you survived. And you not only survived, but you stuck with us and gave us a good example in how much one can do when you just do what you have to do. Because of your example, I know that tomorrow can be better, that hard times are usually just for a season, that good follows bad, and to work hard. I learned to be faithful and have a strong commitment to my husband, even through hard times. And I learned to love kids. So thanks, Mom! And I hope the coming year will be a blessed one for you!
Love you!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Think on These Things

It is so easy to focus on the hard things in life, the problems at home with the kids, difficult times my friends and family are going through, crime, poverty, sickness, the economic and political systems in our country and our world. The list can go on and on. Even in remembering the terrible events of 9-11 can bring a kind of depression. Some people I know are worried about the election, so worried they are calling others names and dividing people around political parties and personalities.

But we aren't the only ones in history to have lived in uncertain times. And the advice Paul gave to the Phillipians is as good today as it was nearly 2000 years ago. In Phillipians 4:8, Paul said, "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things."

I don't think Paul was telling us to not think about or be concerned about the hard things in life, like a ostrich putting his head in the sand, not preparing for the future.  But I think he meant to not dwell on them. How many times have I worried and fretted? How many times have I focused on the difficult behaviors of my children instead of looking at the blessings they truly are? How many times have I worried about finances or illnesses, and forget to look to God as my source of help and comfort? How many times have I put my political views ahead of relationships? How many times have I focused on what I don't have and have neglected to be thankful and generous?

I think if I am honest, I'd have to say too many times. And by doing so, I think I've missed some of the goodness in this life.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Homeschool Happenings

Today we had two homeschool events.

The first one was a lunch picnic for our larger homeschool group. Ms. D had cramps so she couldn't come, but I bribed Mr. I with whatever fast food he wanted if he would come with me. He chose Chinese food, which was good. It took him a little time to warm up, but after about half an hour he started playing and didn't want to leave. Unfortunately, he fell and his iPod fell out of his pocket and broke, so we had to get it fixed later in the afternoon. Sometimes listening to music helps him with the transition when we go to new places. It may seem rude to some, but for a child who has so many sensory issues, it really does help in the long run. So it is important that he can have something to calm him in unfamiliar situations. So this afternoon after we got it fixed, we bought a good cover for it. Mr. I had asked for one a few weeks ago when he bought the iPod from one of his older sisters, but I was too busy and forgot. So it was kind of my fault that it broke. He was also very worried about what Hubby would say. I told him he should tell his dad what happened and Hubby wouldn't be upset. Mr. I wasn't too sure. But Mr. I told Hubby as soon as he got home from work, and guess what? Mr. I was wrong! This was a good lesson for Mr. I about grace, accepting responsibility, and not running and hiding from potential problems. It also was a bonding time for Mr. I and Hubby, which was so good after Hubby's trip. All this may have been a blessing because of the opportunity for them to reconnect. Relationships are far more important than stuff.

Later this evening I was able to go to my smaller homeschool group's Moms Night Out. It was good to tell each other what struggles we have been having and pray for each other. Each one of us who came tonight had situations in our families that were difficult, if not now, in the recent past. So we were able to offer support to those who were in the midst of struggle. I love my group because there isn't a facade of perfection. I can be real. My kids can be accepted as they are. I am not judged because of my kids. And best of all, people lift each other up in times of need. I am so happy to hear of how these women help each other through difficult times, even when they have things to deal with in their own lives. They are awesome! I just can't tell them that enough!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Growing Guides at the History Park

Today Hubby and I took Brewster to the History Park for a Growing Guides meeting.
Because he hasn't had all his shots yet, we had to carry him around. Ms. D didn't go with us because she didn't want to carry Brewster. She asked if she could go to church with her sister instead. If a kid asks to go to church, how can you say no?
I was so thankful there was a bench here!
Today, the guide dog puppies practiced walking or being carried around antique cars, boardwalks, and lots of people. Hubby and I traded off carrying Brewster since he's getting so big to carry.  We sure got our workout today! I can't wait until he gets his shots in two weeks and we can walk him in more places without having to worry about Parvo.

Brewster also got his little guide dog puppy jacket today. He doesn't really like it too much yet, but someday it will get him access to places other dogs don't get to go. Of course, most of these dogs are awesome and well behaved. The leaders of our group are also experts on raising guide dogs. If we have any problems at all, they know just what to do to help fix the problem. We are so blessed to have such a good group of people to help us.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Burn Picnic

This afternoon we went to a place in the Santa Cruz Mountains that burned a few years ago. A man at our church has brought groups to help the people there. Today, there was another work group, followed by a picnic and music by Danny Daniels. It was pretty awesome. The food was good, the weather was pleasant, and Danny came through again with beautiful music.
Danny Daniels
I helped a bit by grilling some of the meat. The only problem was that I got stung by a yellow jacket that worked its way up my skirt and got me near the waistband. It didn't hurt much, but it did make me feel kind of weird the rest of the night. My ears are ringing a bit and I feel a bit fuzzy headed. Fortunately, I don't feel any asthma. I hope I was halfway with it while talking to people. One woman asked me a question about our homeschool group and I couldn't remember when the next meeting was. It was hard for me to focus. Actually, I hope all this makes sense when I reread it tomorrow. It's always so embarrassing when you think you are writing fairly well despite your illness, or have a great idea in the middle of the night, only to look at it later and wonder where your head was. Well, right now my head is feeling strange, so this might give a few people a laugh, maybe even myself!
A few of the people at the picnic

A few more listening to Danny

Kitchen Chicken

The next time one of my kids complain about having backyard chickens or bees on the roof, I think I'll show them this picture. One home in Nicaragua that Hubby visited had a chicken in the kitchen underneath the counter. All the person had to do while cooking is reach down to get a fresh egg. I'll think it will be fun to tell the kids, "You think our house isn't cool because we have chickens and bees? Well, I'm sure our chickens would love to live inside!" Not that I'd bring them in, but I would like to see the kids' faces!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Landing Back in the US

Trips like Hubby's are not over when the plane lands back in the US. There is always a bit of adjustment in the reentry.

I picked up Hubby at 12:30 this morning at SFO and we made it home at about 1:30am. The man he traveled with slept overnight at our home in the living room. Hubby and I then went to bed, late. Of course, Hubby first had to take a shower. Ha! He was not about to get into bed with me without one. We woke up around six to my daughter taking care of the puppy, I talked with Hubby for another hour or so and started the day. 

I made a big breakfast of pancakes and eggs for the guys. No, I didn't cook them rice, beans, and fish, which was their staple diet for two weeks. We also ate some of the delicious pastries that one of Hubby's Nicaraguan friend made using the oven that Progress Tools financed. After caring for our animals and listening to some more stories about the trip, I realized that I had just a few minutes to get things together for a phone consult with Ms. D's new homeschool PSP. Two hours later I was encouraged and ready to tackle high school with a daughter whose FASD has caused learning problems. 

We did a little schoolwork, I talked to a friend on the phone from another state, and we walked the dogs. Green Mama called and wanted to know if she and my grandson, Little Drummer Boy, could come over. Could they! Of Course! It was so good to have them over for pizza and spend some time with them. 

Then I got a call that there was a little food to be delivered a day early. When I picked it up, I found out that it was more than I thought, but it worked out well. The woman delivering food for us tomorrow wasn't going to get help from a neighbor who couldn't turn down a one day paying job. So after Grandson and family left, Hubby and I delivered food to part of the usual route in the Manna Mobile. It was a stretch physically, but it was good for us to have some time to talk. Hubby has so many stories, it will take a long time to hear every one. It was a bit of a shock for him though. Everything looks so different when you come back from a place that is so unlike your own. You kind of expect that feeling when you are going out, but there is just as big of an adjustment to coming home. Hopefully, I'll be able to help the family with this, and Hubby's reentry into American family life will go smoothly.
Hubby With the Oldest Rama Woman
But so far, the kids are already doing better with Hubby being home. I have been too busy to do much housework, and feel like the chore list is multiplying as my energy level decreases. But chores are one of the things that hang around and will be there in the morning. I'd better get some sleep soon, though. I'm falling asleep writing, and that can be pretty dangerous! 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Do We Need it for Life?

I mentioned in the last post that Mr. I was behaving pretty oddly and that I recorded just a snippet of the time to look at later. It was just too odd and overwhelming! I tend to block out or forget really upsetting experiences in order to function.  There's probably some pretty fancy psychological explanation, but that's how I flow. It's not the best way. It's just a way I get through life when things are overwhelming. That's why I like to talk about things with other people, like my sisters, who have lived through some of the same experiences. They are able to fill in the blanks in my memory.

So it wasn't until just now, when I read one woman's question about how to best teach her daughter scripture, that I remembered one of the conversations we had this morning with the kids. We usually read a Psalm or go through a Bible curriculum first thing in the morning. We've been reading Psalms the past couple of weeks because they bring comfort. To me, it's also a reminder of what's most important in my kids' eduction.

But this time, Mr. I fussed and complained about doing any work at all. Of course he complained the most with the first subject. He whined, "Why do we need to read the Bible? It's not like we need it for life or anything!"

Oh, Mr. I we do. Without the foundation of our relationship with God, there is nothing that matters. The Bible helps us in that relationship with God. It tells us His nature, how to live our life, how to relate to others, and brings encouragement and hope in a pretty scary world. Without God, our lives would be empty and meaningless. There is more to life than living for yourself, Mr. I.  It doesn't matter how much you know academically if you don't have a strong moral foundation. There are a lot of really smart people in jails. I know you do have a faith in God, but right now you're pretty scared and uncomfortable with your dad being away. But I hope that both you and your sister will learn to run toward God, and not away, in times of trouble.

Family Multitasking

Today is pretty busy for all of us in our home.

I canned two quarts of tomatoes and five quarts of pears while taking care of the puppy, making and eating breakfast, and teaching school.
Canned Pears and Tomatoes
Ms. D and I walked the neighbor dogs, went to the pet store to pick up some puppy shampoo and toys, and picked up the neighbor boy.

When we got home, I cleaned some of the canning mess I made, Ms. D washed the puppy, while the neighbor boy did art and Blackbelt Daughter did her homework on the dining room table.

We got a lot done, but not without a few bumps in the road. 

Mr. I had a very hard time with school today. I even took a little video of it because it was such odd behavior for a twelve year old. I probably won't show it to anyone, but I want to see it later to see if it really was as bad as I remember. I want to know if I was just exaggerating or if it really is as bad as it seems. I'll look at it when Hubby comes back and we are all in a better stage of mind. 

The puppy had an accident, well, a few accidents today. We just weren't as aware of his signals and didn't have as much patience when it was time to do his business. When he would go outside he would seem more interested in the chickens and what food he could get into. He got a little dirty from it all, so that's why he got to have his first bath today. Baths are hard on their skin, so we had to go get some puppy shampoo. But we have it now! He smells so much better!
Fist Bath
When we were walking home from picking up the neighbor boy, we passed a couple who were high on drugs, and the young woman was crying and struggling. I was pretty upset with them being in such a state in front of the little kids getting out of school. Ms. D was upset that I would say that kind of thing within earshot of the couple. The young man is the same one who tried to give Ms. D a flower and say she was pretty when she was only eleven. He was in his twenties. Ms. D has laughed at the young woman's drunk and high behavior and thought she was fun and sweet. They have acted like friends when we've been on walks, though they split up when I come near enough to hear what they say. When I told Ms. D she should stay away from them again today, Ms. D said, "I just am polite!" Then she acted pretty angry. She won't talk about it, so I don't know what the problem is, but there seems to be one. I just hope they haven't tried giving Ms. D and her friend anything. It's just so hard to know what is going on. She just won't talk. Her birth family taught her well.

Thunder, Waterspouts, and Earthquakes

Our family has had its share of interesting natural phenomena the past week.

Hubby was in a small boat in a storm last Friday. The storm had a waterspout and they had to hunker down and hang on when the squall line came by. An American woman drowned near that same spot just a week before. I'm glad I didn't find out about it until after they were safe at Rama Cay.

This morning there was a big earthquake in Costa Rica. Because it was a deep one, Hubby and others were able to feel it in Managua, Nicaragua. It was frightened the people in Managua, even that far away. They've had bad earthquakes in the past, and it brings back some pretty bad memories.

We are also having a bit of hot, humid weather today. Though we haven't had much rain yet, it has been thundering off and on. This would be normal weather in the tropics or Midwest, but it is pretty rare here. I think Nature is all mixed up!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Two More Days!

Two more days and Hubby will return home!

Hopefully the Mr. I and Ms. D will be out of their funk and things can run more smoothly. It's really hard for kids who need structure, routine, and safety when their daddy is off in another country. Even though they say it doesn't bother them, the kids have been pretty dysregulated. Microbio Daughter and I were just talking to Mr. I. He asked me what would I say to Hubby if he asked how he did. I told Mr. I that I'd probably say that he had a bit of a hard time with Dad being gone. Of course he said that it didn't bother him at all and he wasn't afraid. He knows his dad will come back. Right. Fortunately, Microbio Daughter said that she feels a little off when Dad is gone and she worries about him a little bit. So that started a conversation. Hopefully Mr. I will not feel so defensive and be able to express his uneasiness. But if not, at least he got to hear that others have a hard time too. And maybe by hearing it spoken, the fears that are deep down will be able to be calmed.

Ms. D has been really sluggish the past week. We gave her a bit of a break this weekend so that she would not feel so tied down to the puppy. She was getting pretty annoyed with him, which isn't the best way to train a dog. So we let her spend the night at a friend's house and have some time away from the puppy. I know she's only fourteen and her mental and emotional age are less, but this experience has shown me to be aware of her limits later in life. She's great for awhile, but when she hits a wall, she really hits it, and can't function even at a minimal level. So if she has a family, I might have to give her times of respite and more help than the average person in stressful times. I think it will be important to plan ahead for that.

In the meantime, I'm trying to keep things pretty routine. Schedules help the kids to cope with their emotions. It's just one less thing for them to worry about when they know exactly what will happen next. We even do the schoolwork in the same order. If I try to change it, the kids freak out. So any adjustments will have to be made after this week. Of course, life happens, there were weekends and Labor Day. Today I took the van in to be fixed. It cost $200 to fix the broken window raiser, but even worse was the time it took me from the kids. Tomorrow we pick up a neighbor boy from school.  It is almost impossible to schedule a routine around things like that. But as much as possible, the kids do the same things every day at nearly the same time. It calms their souls.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Block Party!

This evening was our streets annual block party!

 It doesn't take much effort in organizing since we got our neighbors pretty well trained.

People bring grills, tables, chairs, their own meat and drinks, and something to share.

We set everything up at the end of the cul-de-sac.

And we all have such a great time getting to know each other better.

Even Brewster came after people were done eating and had a chance to socialize. He was such a good dog!

The kids played, the neighbors talked, and people came and went as the evening went on and people returned from their Labor Day activities.  I love my neighbors! I think they are the best!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Don't Worry

I was really worrying that Hubby would have a hard time getting money for the trip from Managua to Bluefields, Nicaragua. The power was out in the whole town so he couldn't use his credit card for the hotel and had to use cash. With Labor Day tomorrow and the banks being closed, I wouldn't be able to deposit money in his account.

So what did God do? He had Hubby look into his wallet and find $100. Hubby can't figure out where it came from. But it is more than enough for the long boat and bus ride to Managua tomorrow for four people. 

God has been protecting Hubby through a storms, from a large cat, probably a jaguar, from ambushes, and from illness from drinking from an open well. He has healed a paralyzed woman and her story is spreading across Rama territory. He has done so many more things on this trip that will take Hubby quite a long time to tell me all.

So why do I worry!

Someone Stole My Pants

I was just sitting in my living room in the dark with my computer dimmed because of a migraine, and in came Mr. I, Ms. D, and a few kids. Mr. I came in saying, "Someone stole my pants at the park!" He then went into his room to get a few more things for a sleepover.

Come to find out, no one did steal his pants. He left them at a friends house. Don't ask me why he's walking around the neighborhood in his boxers and t-shirt. My brain can't even go there right now.

Difficult Day

It has been a difficult 24 hours.

It's not because of anything big, just little things that have been piling up.

Things like a migraine that has been crouching at my door since yesterday afternoon. Add to it not getting enough sleep because of Mr. I having a friend overnight who came late and my habit of waking at 5:00 am even though I went to sleep at midnight.

And trying to keep up with laundry, the housework, the puppy work, the van that still has a window that has fallen off it's track. And not having quite enough money to get the van window fixed because I had to pay the fees for Ms. D's school. Of course, I am thankful that we live in a neighborhood that nothing has happened so far to the van with a window wide open for over a week.

And trying to figure out yesterday afternoon how much money Hubby has in the separate account, only to find that his account had a negative number. And because Hubby is in Rama Cay, Nicaragua, he couldn't figure out why. It probably was because a check he had deposited for some extra work he did had something wrong with it. But we won't know until Hubby comes home because he can't remember his passwords because he's had a lack of sleep himself. In the meantime, the bank fees added up at a time when Hubby needed some extra money for his trip and we had counted on that extra work money as a buffer. It isn't at a critical point, since Microbio Daughter and I were able to put some money in to cover some expenses, but it's such a waste to have to pay so many bank fees.

And Hubby texted me some things that pointed out how dangerous his trip has been. Things I can't tell Ms. D and Mr. I but still affect my emotions. Things like Hubby saw large cat tracks in the jungle they were walking through. Maybe a jaguar? That only the men went to the chocolate farm near Cane Creek, in groups with machetes and guns, because there was still a danger of ambush in the place that Jimmy was murdered on his farm a few months ago. That the storm they were in had a waterspout, that they had to hunker down in the boat and hang on when the squall line came, and that a woman from the US had died just the week before while she was is in a similar boat crossing the same bar entering the bay from the ocean. That Hubby's water filter broke and they were drinking straight out of an open well on the island, and his partner on the trip was already sick and needed the medication Hubby bought. That they had a lot of mosquito bites this time. All of these things worry me, even though I heard about them after the fact and things have pretty well worked out so far.

Another thing that has been piling up has been the kids' behaviors while Hubby has been gone. It was harder for Mr. I the first week, but now that he is doing better, it's Ms. D's turn to act out. She argued with me by text last night while I was at church and she was home with the puppy because she wanted a second sleepover in a row. She would not take no for an answer, and blamed her tiredness not on her staying up late watching movies with her friend, but on the puppy. And because she was asleep when I came home and she woke up in a surly mood, we couldn't deal with her attitude in a good manner. I woke her up 45 minutes before I needed to drop her off,  and she grumbled when I asked her to do her job to take care of the neighbor dogs, snapped at her brother because she thought he was being too bossy, pushed the puppy away and wouldn't have anything to do with him, and sassed at me when I told her it was time to go. She said I sounded like I was talking to a four year old. I was just talking to the dog that way, and trying to be pleasant to her. So I snapped and said yelled things I shouldn't have on the way to taking her to church, which didn't solve anything, but just made her feel like she is justified in feeling the way she does. She could not see that her actions, words, and attitudes were bad for everyone around her, including the puppy. She was feeling tied down with the puppy, even though the rest of the family and I have done the majority of the care and training the past week. When she came home from church with her sister, she was still angry with me. I should have gently spoken to her, but instead I took a nap because I realized I couldn't handle the drama with a migraine and lack of sleep. But when I woke up, she was out with a friend. She told my older girls where she went, and I had given permission for her to go yesterday when she asked, but I worry that she will do something really stupid in her anger. When I talked to her on the phone, I told her I loved her, but she just grunted.

So now I'm sitting at home, still fighting the migraine, still worried, and still regretting the way I have handled Ms. D. But I have to remember Psalm 107 that I read to the kids the other day, which they probably were trying to ignore in their opposition to me trying to teach them. In the psalm people have problems, some even of their own making, yet when they call on God, he answers and delivers them. I'm so thankful for God's grace. We sure need a lot of that grace right now.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Color Me Rad!

Today I ran/walked my first 5k with Mr. I, Microbio Daughter, Photography Son and his wife, and a few friends. It was one of those fun Color Me Rad 5k runs where you get colored powder and spray all over you.
Mr. I and Me at the End of the 5k
We started out in white, but ended up with color all over!
At the Starting Line. Notice the Gray Skies.
Microbio Daughter
I think the organizers thought the Rad was for radical. But I was thinking that for Mr. I, it was more RAD for reactive attachment disorder, because I sure had to deal with RAD behaviors! Mr. I was a bit off kilter anyway because of Hubby being in Nicaragua. And my idea of going to a new place with a crowd of people was just too much for his sensitive sensory system. He's the one I used to have to put sun glasses and ear buds on in order to shop at Costco, cut off all labels on clothes, and search for seamless socks. And then when he realized that people were going to throw colored powder and squirting paint at the racers, he just about flipped! Mr. I let me know that it was too much. Over and over again! He mumbled, he dawdled, he told me he'd punch anyone out if they'd get any powder or paint on him. Yeah. It wasn't too fun the first half of the race. I was wondering why I even tried to stretch him a bit, because it seemed the only things that were being stretched were my own nerves and patience.

Mr. I Smiling at the End of the Race
But by the end, Mr. I liked it. He enjoyed being with the family and friends. He didn't mind it when he got color on him. He not only finished the race, but he overcame! And thankfully, he didn't punch anyone out!
My Beautiful Daughter in Law and Friend

Mr. I and Me. The Awful Shorts Are Going Away After Today!
Oh, and thank you for the wonderful color pictures of the day. I took the before picture on my phone. You can tell the difference when you have a real photographer take a picture.