Friday, May 31, 2013

Welcome Home

Today one of my best friends and her kids came home from Ohio! She's been gone for nearly two years. I've missed her so much.

I should have taken pictures, but she surprised me by coming to my house right after she said she was going to get some food for her family. I'll take a picture tomorrow, when they aren't exhausted and travel weary. I think she'll appreciate it.

We ate sushi, picked up some supplies, and stopped by her home. I love the colors she picked for her house. I didn't bring my kids with me, so I was free to enjoy my friend. My friend, on the other hand, had her three kids with her, and they had been traveling for fifteen hours. They were tired and hungry. I'm so impressed by how Ms. K handled her children. I don't think I would have been half as patient.

Ms. K brought a young woman with her who has never visited California before. I let her pick an orange off our tree. It's a pretty big thing to pick and eat an orange fresh off a tree when you come from the Midwest! I hope she enjoys California.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Birthday, Kid Stuff, and a Really Special Picture

Three topics, one post. 

It would have been better to separate this post into three different ones, but it's getting late, Hubby is in bed, and I really should be there also. Of course, my life isn't easily separated into neat sections, so you may as well see it all at once, as I experience it. 

Yesterday one of my daughters-in-law had a birthday. Some of us got together to eat Chinese and celebrate today. I love the women my sons have married. They are my girls! We also had a great time with Grandson. Mr. I did pretty well, but he acted sick afterwards. Time will tell if his illness was because of too much excitement, or if he is really ill. 

Ok, now for the kids stuff. Ms. D seems more attached this week, but Mr. I less. I'm wondering if in our effort to get Ms. D more on track, we have neglected Mr. I. There are a few things that are troubling me, like when a neighbor came to me with some concerns about how Mr. I has been acting the past few weeks. Usually he's able to hold it together outside the family, and I'm the one to receive the brunt of his dysregulation. He must be feeling pretty bad inside if he acts out in public when I am not with him. I'll have to do a little bit more sleuthing to find out the source of his distress.

And finally, a high school friend posted a picture that means so much to Hubby and me. It is of the art teacher and classroom that Hubby and I first met. I was just turning fourteen when we were in Mr. William's art class together. I have a hard time remembering and picturing the past, so this photograph is very dear to me. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

I'm OK

Today I had a bit of a scare and went to the emergency room. I was concerned about a migraine symptom the other day, so I emailed my doctor. Because my doctor was out of town, another doctor emailed me back this morning and told me to go to straight to the emergency room. The emergency room doctor didn't think it was too serious, but I had a CAT scan just to be safe. It came out normal, which is reassuring. I am OK.

I did learn a few things though:

1. It didn't take long at all for the family and friends to contact me to make sure I wasn't going to die or anything like that. I got calls and texts before I was even checked in. Hubby came home from work early and I had multiple offers of rides home. I didn't tell the family many details before I left, in order not to disturb the younger kids. But because I was vague, I think it worried the older ones and Hubby more. I honestly didn't think it was a real emergency, but going to the emergency room was the only way to rule out something more serious. If I thought I was really ill, I wouldn't have driven myself to the hospital. It was nice to be able to text people to keep them informed.

2. CAT scans are quick and pretty interesting. I kept my eyes closed during the procedure because I didn't know if I should or not, but I wish I would have thought to ask if I could. I can get pretty geeky about medical things.

3. I don't have a tumor, an aneurism, a clot, or any other really scary brain problem.  It was good to know, since two of my friends had mini-strokes in the past month and my grandpa died of a brain tumor when he was about my age now. But it looks like my family will have to put up with me for quite awhile. Sorry, teens, you can't get rid of me yet!

4. Migraines are odd, nasty things. I do not like them.

5. I really have a great family. Even the little ones, who have had tough times lately, are great. I am blessed.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Play That Funky Music

The other night I had a dream I was at a party with Octavia Spencer, who was trying to get me to dance in front of everyone while the DJ played Play That Funky Music. I didn't think that in a few days I would be in a funk. But I am.

It hasn't taken much to get me to tear up the past couple of days. It wouldn't surprise me if it is just one of the postdrome symptoms of a migraine. I normally am not one to be so groggy and depressed. I didn't even want to go to the beach with the family and a couple of Mr. I's friends.

Ms. D didn't want to go either, so we stayed home and tried to spend some quiet time together. I think it helped. I doubt if she'll stop lying, but it's more important to keep the relationship going well. Hopefully we can get to a place of healing.

But even though it was a profitable time staying home with Ms. D, I still wished I went to the beach. It looked like they all had a great time.

I knew I just wasn't feeling right when the littlest things would send the tears falling down my face, like when I found out that I might not get fresh strawberries. When I got the text that the family passed by a farm stand on the way home, I was sad. It was also frightening that such a minor thing could be so emotional for me! Then when they brought home some strawberries and cherries, I cried again, because they remembered.

I told Hubby how emotional I've been since the headache, and he did the sweetest thing. He got me some roses. He's been so kind.

Later tonight we both went on the roof to see the conjunction of Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter. As an added treat, the girl next door was practicing her violin with the window open. So Hubby and I got to sit on the roof, watch the stars planets, and listen to beautiful music. It's kind of nice to live next to kids with a Tiger Mom.

Even though I feel pretty emotional right now, I know that this will pass. There is hope for the future. And even though I may be pretty fearful for Ms. D's choices and actions lately, I know that there will be good days ahead. Life is good, even with a few bumps in the road.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sister Visit!

Because of the kid drama and headache, I didn't get a chance to tell you about one of my sisters' visit the other day. She and her husband come to town a few times a year. The kids love to spend time with them!

We had pizza at our usual place. The whole family was able to be there! It's hard to get everyone together, but we did it! Hubby and I came late because of the refi signing. When we got there, Ms. D, Mr. I, and his friend were sitting apart from the rest of the family. It fit with the way they've been pushing the family away lately. But I chose to ignore that snub, and my sister's husband sat with the kids. He is so good with them. They love their Uncle P, even though they don't like Hubby and me so much right now.

After we ate, my sister, Blackbelt Daughter, her boyfriend, and I went to a coffee shop for some tea while the rest of the family went bowling. They had a great time, especially with Uncle P! I had a good time talking about college and graphic art, well more like listening to the others talk about art, since my sister and Blackbelt Daughter's boyfriend are both graphic artists. It was completely different than my world of kids and FASD drama. It was a good to hear about a world that doesn't include troubled teens, even for an hour or so.

So the sister visit was a success. It was good to have a fun time as a family.  I love them all!

Friday, May 24, 2013

What Time is it? It's Migraine Time!

I admit it. I am pretty stressed right now. I have a cold sore and a migraine to prove it.

We were supposed to meet Xander this afternoon, which ended up not happening because he had "car trouble." I was worrying about the meeting, worrying about Ms. D's future, worrying about how I was to parent a child that could lie to me for months. I realized that there was no way I could keep a teenager safe that had it in her mind to do what she wanted, regardless of the implications of her decisions. Add to it the difficult behaviors of the kids lately and other minor things that added up, and I  became ripe for a meltdown. I just couldn't hold it together with a smile any longer.

The migraine started yesterday. I took care of Grandson last night, which was fun and a good reprieve
from the bickering of the youngest two kids. It was then that I felt the first signs of a headache, eye weirdness, my brain felt foggy and I couldn't remember names of things, and one of my eyes dilated more than the other. I had hoped that a good night's sleep would stop it, but it was not to be.

Most of my migraines aren't that painful, but this one is. Hubby and I warned the kids this morning that I was hurting and to be nice. But during our dog walking when Hubby wasn't around, the kids wouldn't stop bickering, even after I told them that it made my headache worse. It went downhill from there. I took Ms. D for a ride in the car and yelled at her. It didn't do any good for our relationship and made me, well both of us, feel even worse. It's not going to stop her from lying. It won't change her behavior. I knew it, yet I carried on, cried, and carried on some more anyway.

Fortunately, Black Belt Daughter was home to talk to her later.  Hubby also was good at smoothing things over.  I think, I hope, I didn't mess things up too much between Ms. D and me. I retreated into my dark room, trying to recover. It's been a rough day, the headache is still here, but we all survived. Some days that's all I can do.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Storms and Such

Lately my inner life has been a bit stormy. 

The kids have been acting up. I don't know what is bugging Mr. I, but he's been pretty bossy and tries to order me around. Ms. D has been hiding things from us the past year, which hasn't been very good for attachment. Last night she even accused Hubby of yelling at her last Friday in front of her friend and her parents. He was shocked that she would say that, since he had been so happy that she told him that she would be more open with us. This false accusation brought up in my heart other times of being falsely accused...

...When their birth mom falsely accused us of abusing the kids when we first got them.  I think she thought she could get her kids back, but instead it just made things harder for us, because we had to go through an investigation.

...And it reminded me of the time one of our pastors falsely accused us of some pretty awful things. Later I learned about spiritual abuse and it became clearer that we were just caught up in a pretty dysfunctional church when we first moved to California. Even after over twelve years, I still have difficulty healing from that mess, especially since we've been focusing so hard on our adopted kids for the past ten of those years. 

Added to those things, the terrible tornado in Moore, OK a couple of days ago has opened some past fears. I had been in a car close to a deadly tornado when I was a child. I still got panic attacks when I heard about tornadoes up to a few years ago. After that I watched a lot of videos to lessen the effect. I don't get panic attacks anymore, but I still feel uneasy. A sign of how much it disturbed me was Monday, when I first heard of the tornado, I made a mistake in scheduling and came to a homeschool meeting nearly an hour late. I was in some kind of a fog and didn't think to make sure I wrote down the right time. 

We also have minor things that add to the stress. I had to tutor last night when I was planning to clean our house for today. We are finally signing for a refi at our house tonight, which will help us financially. And my sister and her husband are also coming over for a visit. Tonight was the only day this week that worked for everyone in the family. No one wants to miss them! We are puppy trading for a few days. Brewster is at another home and we have Culliver until this afternoon. 

Culliver is so sweet, but he is younger than Brewster, which requires more work. Because Ms. D has been so out of it lately, more of the dog care has fallen on me. All this is making for busy days.

The busyness, the anxiety about the kids, and the opening of past hurts are all combining at once. I can't wait for some of those storms to pass.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Whispers at Night on the Phone

I finally figured out why Ms. D was sleeping so much this past year. It wasn't because she was ill. It wasn't because of the seizures. It wasn't because of brain changes because of FASD.

No, I caught Ms. D talking very softly on the phone to someone at 12:30 am. How much do you want to bet it was Xander, the "seventeen year old" heart throb?

I woke up, not because I could hear her, but because of bad stomach pains. As I tried to get back to sleep, I noticed the hall light on. It was when I got up and quietly turned it off, that I heard the soft murmuring in her room. At first I was afraid that Xander was there, but it was only Ms. D and the puppy that we are taking care of for a few days. I turned off her light, told her to stop talking because she needed her sleep, and quietly stayed outside her door for an hour to make sure she wouldn't start up again. Ms. D might think that I thought she was talking late at night to the puppy. She may not have noticed that Hubby took her iPod off the internet this morning. It will be interesting to see if she will confess first, or if we have to draw it out of her. The deception has to stop, one way or another. It's not good for her, Mr. I, or for our family.

This morning Hubby's moving around before six woke the new dog. Ms. D had to get up and care for the puppy. Before this, I had tried to be sensitive to give her enough sleep in the morning because I thought her sleep problems had a physical cause. Now that I know she was sneaking in late night conversations, I won't be so accommodating. I just wish it didn't take me nearly a year to figure it all out.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Scare Turns Into Blessing

Yesterday we had a scare with Ms. D. We caught her in a lie, which isn't unexpected. My kids have often lied, sometimes over the most insignificant things. But this lie concerned her relationship with the "seventeen year old boy who has a nice car, lives on his own, and doesn't go to high school," that Hubby and I have never met. Yes, he's the one we suspect is the real person Ms. D was waiting for that night she snuck out and got caught by the police, that peeked into neighbors' cars, and that Ms. D made out with on the side of the road. Ms. D is so afraid for us to know more about him or that she is somehow still in contact with him. I don't know how she thought we'd believe that she hasn't seen him since before Easter, yet he somehow was able to give her a necklace for her birthday the other day. I thought it was odd that she cleaned her room until after we went to bed the other night. Wow! This parenting a beautiful girl with FASD is pretty difficult!

The evening turned out well, though. Hubby took Ms. D with him late last night to pick up food to distribute to the needy. Ms. D, on her own, told Hubby that she was tired of hiding things from us and that she wanted to be more open. This is a big thing for her! Ms. D normally doesn't talk. She was trained from an early age to hold things in. We have been trying for years to get her to verbalize her feelings and to be able to process the difficulties in her life. Last night, she talked to Hubby about her disappointment that the birth family didn't call her on her birthday. Birth Dad did text her, but she heard nothing from her birth mom and older siblings. She and Hubby also talked about keeping her safe, boys, being open and honest with us, and other topics. If she continues to be able to express herself verbally, she may be able to heal some more. I hope that she will be able to open up and not hold everything in. And maybe she will let us meet the mystery boy.

If so, a scary situation can turn into a blessing.

Friday, May 17, 2013

An Idea That Might Embarrass My Teen

There had been fires or rain the past four days, so this is the first time I was able to hang out some laundry all week. But while pinning up the clothes, I was annoyed by the rubber bands that Ms. D uses to tighten her shirts in the back. To me, it looks tacky, slutty, and shows her immaturity. But she doesn't listen to me, and does it when I'm not looking or noticing. It's one of those things, like hiking up skirts, that Catholic girls do the minute they leave the house. I don't expect her to wear baggy clothes, but I would like her to look more polished. The rubber band thing just doesn't convey a good message in my eyes.

Here is a tutorial, if you don't understand what I mean by tightening a shirt with a rubber band.

I've tried just about everything I can think of to get Ms. D to stop, but she continues to do it. But as I removed the second rubber band, I thought of something that just might work. I should use rubber bands on some of my shirts! Most shirts aren't very flattering on me anyway. If I get shirts that fit my bust, I look much heavier than I really am. The shoulders and waist are much too big for my frame. I either have to alter the shirts, or find some that stretch in the right places. Using a rubber band for awhile to tighten the waist area might help me to look a bit slimmer.

But better yet, if I use a rubber band to tighten my shirts, I just might embarrass Ms. D enough to stop doing it herself!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Ms. D!

Ms. D made it to fifteen!

Happy Birthday! 

Even though she's given us a few scares the past few years, she is still doing much better than her birth family at this age. 

Her friend, Ms. M, gave her some flowers, some brownies, and cards from her and her little brother and left them at the doorstep on the way to school. I gave Ms. D some money so she and Mr. I could go to the mall while I helped their sister get her car fixed nearby. It was a stretch for me to let them go by themselves, but I figured Mr. I would keep an eye on his sister. He did, but also begged for me to buy him some shoes. Whose birthday is it anyway?

Later we went out to eat with her friend. It was hard to get a picture of Ms. D. She's at that age when we have more pictures of her hand or in a blur than not. But we all had fun, especially when her friend asked the waiters to sing the birthday song to Ms. D. Oh, it's so fun to embarrass a teenager!

And easy too!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Taking Turns

Isn't it so sweet when our kids take turns?

Today was Ms. D's day to be dysregulated and prickly. "Stop looking at me! Get away from me! Don't touch me! I'm hungry! I'm not hungry! There's nothing good to eat at our house! Stop smiling! You'll make me smile." Yes, these were the sweet sounds that reached my ears as soon as she woke up and continued throughout the morning. I wasn't the only recipient of her lashing out. Mr. I was picked on until he fought back, resulting in more yelling. Even the poor dog received some negativity. You know something is up when Ms. D snaps at the dog too!

It didn't take me long to figure out the reason for Ms. D's mood. Adolescent hormones were in full force.

So we left Mr. I at home and walked. We walked the dogs. We walked to the stores. And after the first ten minutes of walking, we talked about girl things. The walking and talking helped my hormonal girl. I'm so glad that Mr. I was regulated enough to leave him home alone. It would have been difficult to handle both kids at once.

It's nice when the kids take turns.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Living With Dysregulation

Living with a child, or two children, who get dysregulated from time to time can be very taxing. I've come to learn the dysregulation comes in waves. There is a slow but steady buildup period. The kids get increasingly moody, edgy, unattached, or bossy. I hold my breath waiting for the emotions to crash, and then it all hits the fan. Finally, their moods level out and they are happy and loving again. The cycle then repeats, especially with changes in schedule or holidays.

Yesterday was Mothers Day, so it doesn't surprise me that there was another dysregulation cycle. It slowly built up after our vacation. There were triggers. I wasn't feeling well for about a week after we returned. We started school up in full force. Hubby had changes to his work schedule. Then came the holiday that triggers all sorts of emotions in adopted kids, the dreaded Mothers Day. You could just feel the emotional energy build. I expected a full blown meltdown yesterday, but we downplayed the holiday. It wasn't without incident. Mr. I complained most of the day about a bump in the head he got Saturday. He said it was bad enough to go to the emergency room, but not bad enough for ice, ibuprofen, or prayer. I was hoping that was as far as the dysregulation would go, that we could avoid a crash, and that Mr. I would have peace. But it wasn't to be.

Today Mr. I awoke on the wrong side of the bed. He didn't want to eat, but was hungry. He was hot and wanted the air conditioner on, but I wouldn't comply because it wasn't even eighty degrees yet. He wanted me to withdraw money from his bank account now, and couldn't wait until I had a car later in the day. He didn't want to do his schoolwork, and pushed back or lied to get out of the least amount of work.  He fussed about everything he could think of. Finally, I snapped and yelled at him. I started to clean the kitchen so I would release some of the energy, but I broke a drawer because I pulled too hard on it. Our cabinets are over thirty years old and are made of particle board, so it didn't take much to break the drawer. But it was pretty impressive when the silverware came crashing down. I was crying. I was a mess. Mr. I was a mess. Ms. D laughed at us in her bedroom.

I did not do what I was supposed to do. A good, therapeutic parent would find a way to playfully and lovingly bring down the heated emotions and restore peace and harmony into the home. I did the opposite. You'd think that Mr. I would be worse after we both had a meltdown. I sure do, and feel so awful that I got to that point. What amazed me is that afterwards he became even more connected to me than he had in awhile. He helped me fix the drawer. We apologized to each other. He had a smile on his face and asked me politely to make him some food. We talked later about how we all make mistakes and we can recover from them. It was weird. All that pent up energy was diffused, and we were able to restore our relationship.

Unfortunately this time, the crisis was between Mr. I and me. Other times it is with Ms. D and her brother, with a family member or friend, or just a solo dysregulated trip. There definitely is a pattern, though. The buildup, crisis, and resolution is pretty predictable. I hope to help the kids to be able to learn to recover without the crisis someday. It would be a lot easier for all of us!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Pain of Mothers Day

Mothers Day is tomorrow.

It could be a difficult day tomorrow for me...

...Not because I have struggled with infertility. I have friends who don't have children and Mothers Day is a painful reminder that they don't have what they have been longing for.

...Not because I have lost any children to death, like one high school friend who recently lost her second daughter. My heart breaks for her and others who won't be able to see their children until they meet them at the other side.

...Not because I live far away from my children, or have a child that is incarcerated, or have lost a child through adoption or a custody dispute. It must be so hard for women to not be able to be near their children, no matter what the circumstance.

...Not because I have a child that has written me off and doesn't want to see my face. That would be so painful to know my relationship to my children is so broken, they have given up on reconciliation.

No, tomorrow may be difficult because two of my children have another mother, one that their heart longs to be near, yet one that for whatever reason isn't in contact with them. Mothers day is not only a holiday that takes the attention off themselves, which would be difficult enough, but it is a reminder that they are not with their first mother, the one that gave them birth. Mothers Day is a day of pain, of heartache, of loss.

For that reason, I try to downplay Mothers Day. I'd much rather have a peaceful day, than one that triggers a meltdown or some other kind of acting out. So when Mr. I asked if he could go to a friend's grandma's house tomorrow, my friend thought it strange that he would want do that instead of doing something for me. I think she was surprised that he didn't have any plans with our family and it was like any other Sunday to him. I think it makes perfect sense, and might just allow me a bit of a rest. I'd rather not fight the Mothers day crowds anyway.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

When Things Add Up

I've been trying to figure out why I've been in such a funk since we got back from vacation. I've been frustrated by my bad attitude, the way I've interpreted situations and people's behaviors in a negative light, and have felt so inadequate to accomplish things that are not normally difficult. It's been a struggle to be positive, which isn't typical for me.

Why am I so sad? But after thinking about it, I've had quite a few difficulties the past two weeks.

Physically, we have had challenges. We've had a virus go through the house, making us very tired, have sore throats, and have mild aches and pains. That alone could affect my mood. My shoulder has been hurting me since the camping trip. Low level pain is wearing. Allergies, headaches, and asthma have been annoying. I also had to take a family member to the urgent care clinic for a bee sting on a finger with a ring, bringing up memories of last year's visits to the hospital.

There were other challenges too. I resigned last week from co-leading our homeschool support group before we got a new leader. God provided a leader, but not until after I resigned. It was a blessing, but at the same time, it is a loss. My relationship with some of the woman will change. I feel as if I let some of them down. There are other challenges before me, some big and some small. The anticipation is almost worse than going through them.

The kids have had a difficult time reentering the school schedule. While there has been a breakthrough with Ms. D understanding what a variable is in pre-aglebra, that has been the only real high point of school the past two weeks. Mr. I has been fighting so hard to disrupt schoolwork, I am wondering if homeschooling a child with an attachment disorder and FASD is really a good idea. It has taken a lot of self control to not blow up in the face of lying, ordering about, and not doing even the simplest of tasks.

I found out that one relative moved to New Mexico right after we visited Arizona. I wish I could have known and visited while we were on vacation. Another relative had a health scare, and I wish I could have been near.

And then many of my friends have been having major tragedies in their lives. One found out she had stage four cancer just weeks after she told me she was cancer free after five years. Her husband lost his father the day after she found the news. Another friend lost her second daughter, and another a brother. Other friends lost people they loved in tragic accidents. And still others are visiting loved ones in hospitals. Their problems far eclipse mine. I pray for them, yet I'm not very good at praying and letting God handle the rest. My heart breaks for the losses that so many people I love are experiencing.

I didn't think I had much to be sad about, but I guess there was.

I don't like feeling this way, so I've been doing things that help me cope.

-I played with my grandson today, and experienced with him the wonder of nature while we were on a walk. I loved to play with him and hear his giggles.

-I have been giving people a lot more hugs. Hugging has a way of improving my mood. I am even hugging the dog more.

-I am trying to avoid bad news, and focus on the good.

-I am getting my body moving, even when I don't feel like it. I have been cleaning when I have the energy, which gives me a sense of accomplishment and improves my environment, in addition to the physical activity.

-I look at humorous sites on the internet. I try to laugh before I go to bed.

-I started another crochet project. It's much cheaper than therapy!

-I tell myself that things will get better. God is in control. He's helped me get through worse times before. I am not alone.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

$3 Craps

I didn't think the kids were listening to Hubby, as he talked about how people lose a lot of money to the casinos in Las Vegas as we drove down The Strip.

But as we neared the border, Mr. I spotted a sign that said:

$3 Craps!

Mr. I said, "Wow! The casinos really do make money off of people! They charge three dollars to go to the bathroom!"

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Isolation and Families With Special Needs

Today I felt a bit lonely after remembering a few instances that have been isolating because of people with special needs in our home. A few of the things have happened years ago, but others are fresh and are still sore. After feeling sad for awhile, I called a friend who understands, a friend who also experiences the same kind of hurts.

It was good to talk to someone who also has experienced people distancing themselves because of a child's behavior. It's sad to see that when a person has autism, FASD, developmental delay, mental illness, or some other hidden disability, some people stay away from the whole family.

Sometimes the distancing is obvious. People say things that are hurtful. They treat our children as if the child would change their bad behavior if they were disciplined right or we were better parents. People don't understand that someone who talks too much, or who swears, or who scowls at others may be doing their best to cope in a social situation. They then give advice that my be good for the average child, yet doesn't work for mine, sometimes right in front of the kids. Do they really think I've never told my kids how to smile in greeting, how to interrupt a conversation, or talk politely to adults? They make it pretty obvious that they don't want our children to "infect" their children with unpleasant behaviors. This makes sense for kids who are young, but like my friend said, "I doubt if their teenagers will hear anything new from your kids that they haven't already heard in youth group."

Other times the distancing is more subtle. People say they would love to get together, yet they are too busy right now. They agree with us that we shouldn't bring our children to certain events. Our kids have different interests. My kids wouldn't enjoy being with other church kids. Things are said with a smile, in love. Then there are the looks of relief when I show up without the kids. Sometimes I wonder if I am making it up, but then realize that no, they really don't want our kids around theirs.

Of course, sometimes I isolate myself. When our kids were swearing like truckers when they came to our home, I made sure they didn't go to Sunday school with other three and four year olds. When my kids are dysregulated, we don't go places because they need a quiet environment to calm themselves. I try not to commit to certain events because I need the flexibility to stay home if my children are having a bad day. Other times I'm just to tired, or I don't really believe people want to be with us.

Thankfully, I do have friends who truly understand our family. They don't want us to be isolated. They love my kids. They even invite our kids into their homes! Too bad most of those families aren't Christians, though I'm thankful a few are. Isolation is such a drain on a family with special needs, so I'm thankful for friends who don't let that happen.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Guide Dog Puppies at the Fire Station!

The guide dog puppies had a typical preschool fire station field trip yesterday!

I went with Hubby and Microbio Daughter to the airport fire station. Ms. D wasn't feeling well so she didn't go.

The puppies were able to experience loud jet noises, and see water sprayed from the trucks.

The puppies got to see the firemen and their equipment, even the air mask!

Hubby enjoyed wearing the fire suits and petting puppies!

I wonder if any of these puppies will end up being arson dogs. Many of the dogs used in arson detecting come from guide dog puppies that have been career changed.

Every puppy did awesome, and didn't seem bothered by the alarms, noises, and smells.
Brewster just didn't want to wear the stupid hat.

But Nellie didn't mind a bit!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Developing Flexibility

One of our goals in raising our kids is to develop flexibility. Planning is awesome, but life has a way of throwing a few curve balls. Things don't always go as planned. This can be a challenge for kids who have come from places of abuse or neglect. I don't know if it is because there is a lower level of trust that their needs will be met by us parents, or if they just expect bad things to happen to them, but they are easily derailed when circumstances change. Small changes in their schedule can seem much bigger in their eyes, and a tiny setback can result in a child having a meltdown.

Our trip to Arizona was a chance for us to develop more flexibility in Ms. D and Mr. I. We tried to make a balance of exposing them to new situations, yet let them know they were cared for. We gave them some choices, like whether to visit Birth Dad or not, or what to eat for dinner. We tried to keep them comfortable by meeting their needs. But we didn't let them control the trip. We gave them general plans, like going to the Grand Canyon, but we didn't tell them everything. Although they would have loved for us to turn around and go back home after the first day, we didn't give into their pleas. Hubby and I tried to gently stretch the kids beyond their comfort zone. It was a lesson in flexibility and a lesson in trust.

We also tried to frame unexpected changes into a better light. On our last evening, we had planned to camp near Las Vegas at Valley of Fire State Park.

It took a bit longer to arrive than we expected and we just missed the last camping spot. A woman walked to the site while we were driving around the circle. Instead of getting upset in front of the kids, we expressed our disappointment in missing the last campsite by seconds, yet voiced the good things we could see. The park was beautiful! We will have to visit it again, just not late on a Friday afternoon.

We were able to drive through Las Vegas right at sundown, so Ms. D could see the lights of the city. After nearly a week in the desert, she was longing for some sparkle. She got it!

Hubby wasn't too thrilled by Las Vegas, but he did it for his daughter. She knew it was a sacrifice for him even to drive through the city, but she was happy that we did something just for her.

And finally, we asked the kids if we should try to find a campground nearby or go to the first campground of the trip at Rainbow Basin. They chose Rainbow Basin because it was familiar. Even though we pulled into our campsite after ten, it took less than twenty minutes for us to settle in, because everyone knew what to expect. It also helped us to camp closer to home, within a seven or eight hour drive.

So what did Hubby and I purposely do to develop flexibility in our kids on this trip?
1. We gave them general plans of what to expect, but we let them know that our plans could change.
2. We met their needs. We made sure they had plenty of snacks and drinks, and weren't too hot or cold.
3. We gave them some choices within certain parameters.
4. We did some things just for them, like visiting Birth Dad and driving through Las Vegas.
5. We changed some of our plans on purpose, like staying an extra day in Sedona because it was just so    pretty!
6. When plans were changed beyond our control, we verbalized the good things that came out of the change. We made sure the kids knew that even though a change might seem bad, there are usually good things that are there, if only we look for them.
7. We tried to model the joy of discovery and an appreciation for unfamiliar places.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Be Very Careful How You Word Things

Mr. I asked for some teriyaki wings when I was about to leave for the store. I told him, "Yes, but you need to eat the whole thing." I thought I was telling him to eat all the meat off the bones. He thought I meant for him to eat all the teriyaki wings and leave nothing for anyone else. I have to be more careful how I word things.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Through Ms. D's Eyes

Ms. D wasn't too happy about going to Arizona. Much of the time, she was grumbling about wanting to go home. But I could see glimpses of interest when she would bring out her camera, or hear a little gasp as she saw the Grand Canyon for the first time. I asked Ms. D to send me her favorite pictures from our trip. By looking at what she sent me, I can see what she thought was beautiful or interesting without her having to verbally express herself. With these pictures, I can better see through her eyes.

Grand Canyon 
At the campground that is familiar to Ms. D


More Grand Canyon

Visit with Birth Dad

Brewster at a campground. He had fun running around with a long leash!

Brewster at the Grand Canyon

Another Brewster Picture


I love this picture of Ms. D and Brewster. It really wasn't on the edge, but it sure looks like it!

Another Brewster Picture

Brewster after playing in the river.

Ms. D liked the Thai ladies more than I thought. They were very sweet.

Ms. D was able to handle changes better with Brewster at her side!

Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon

I saw the Grand Canyon for the first time last week. It really is more awesome in person! I had tears in my eyes. Even Ms. D, who was trying to not act impressed, let a little gasp out and took pictures!

The first day, we decided to hike down into the canyon for a little bit. The kids didn't want to hike, and we had Brewster, so Hubby and I ditched the kids at the rim and walked down about a mile or so.

It was so beautiful!

We had a little slushy hail that kept the dust down. I expected the weather to lower people's spirits, but it was like a party! People were congratulating each other on how far they hiked, asked where they were from, and were so pleasant. I stopped and listened to the sounds, and I could hear laughter and happy greetings down the trail. We met a group of people from Canada and Thailand.

They taught us a Thai greeting. The next day, we saw them at an overlook! We learned that they were from the Hmong people, the same group our church had helped teach English to over thirty years ago!

We also met a friend from San Jose! We had heard she was somewhere near us, but the Grand Canyon is a pretty big place. Our chances of finding each other were slim, since we didn't have each other's phone numbers.

Mr. I and Hubby walked below the rim the second day.

They had a great time!

There was so much to see!

 Ms. D didn't go below the rim, but she enjoyed looking at the view with Brewster.

 I think Brewster helped her to be calmer.

Brewster did very well!