Monday, December 22, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

My oldest daughter came for Christmas and another is coming for the New Year! I'm so happy, since I miss being near all my kids and grand kids. We've been living her for a year, and the only thing I regret is that I had to leave so many family members and friends behind.

I'm home most of the time and have to figure out how to get more human interaction. One of the things I've been doing is taking Brewster to the dog park. He loves to play and I get a chance to socialize. And you think dog parks are the places are only for dogs to socialize.

Brewster has his favorite friends. I found it harder to find someone who can relate to my life than Brewster. What do I have in common with a woman who is upset because she had to comfort her teen who got a B+ in a math test and may not get into her preferred college? I had teens that were good in school too, but I was too distracted by the kids that were struggling to be that involved. And now? I'm happy if my kids stay in school. Grades are way down there in the things to worry about category.

I went to the dog park today with my oldest daughter. I met a woman there that has a couple of teens that were adopted. We started out chatting about dogs and then she mentioned her fifteen year old daughter had some special needs. My ears perked up. I asked, "Where does your daughter go to school?" It was the same school my daughter attends. We tested each other out with little things about our kids, and found out we speak the same language. We both know about fetal alcohol, the special ed system, the acting out. She understands the fear of getting a call in the middle of the night from the police or hospital when you think your child is safe in bed. She even said I had a good attitude with all that's happened. Yay! A kindred spirit!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Back to Writing

It's been about two months since my last post. I had meant to write sooner and more often, but life has a way of getting in the way. Sometimes I didn't think I had anything exciting to write about. Nothing could be as exciting as the last few years we lived in California. Blogging was a way to cope with extremely stressful situations, and my life is definitely boring compared to a year ago. Of course there are always little bumps in the road of life, and I've had plenty of these. But the bumps this year are fairly normal. It's really nice to have the typical concern for your teenagers, not the real fear for their lives type of concern. It's so nice to live in a small town with no gang pressures. Everyone knows everyone else so we often find out things that would have gone unnoticed in a city. As the teens slowly open up about what their life was like before, I am more and more thankful that we moved when we did. I knew it was bad, but it really was worse than I had imagined.

As I look back the past couple of months, I realize that I should have written down things as they have happened. I forget easily, and writing is good for my soul. I can just list a few of the things the past few months.

We've had visitors the past two months. A couple from our church in California spent a few days in our home. A good friend from California came and we had a restful time. I had a friend from my high school come with her teenaged son as they couch surfed the World. She taught me how to felt and to spin wool. I got some wool from Buy Nothing Bainbridge just before she came, so the timing was just right. Jim's parents came for the first time since the bathroom remodel, and one of my daughters came this past weekend. I love having friends and family come! It's really helped me to adjust to a new home. Of course I always miss them when they leave. We also had a couple and their daughter stay with us for a few days. They were strangers to us at first, but they were awesome guests. The woman was a doctor and they needed to stay in a place near Seattle to visit another daughter who was ill. It's good to have the ability to have guests.

We finished staining the back deck, hauled wood, and moved furniture and boxes. I found out just how painful a back injury could be and how it can sneak up on you when you are doing something simple, like driving to Oregon to visit relatives. I was spoiled by takeout adult food for a few days as Hubby took care of me when I could hardly stand. I take Brewster to the dog park a few times a week and shuttle the kids to and from school. And because life is settling down, I am considering going back to school to become a medical assistant.  I'm excited for the next season of life.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Putting up the Harvest

In between family visiting (Yay!) and getting the teens ready for school, we've been putting up the harvest from the island.

I got some free wool that I've been cleaning. I'm hoping to clean, card, spin, and knit something by hand. More on that later.

We've crabbed.

I loved going out in the canoe to put out crab pots. It was a nice way to connect with Hubby. Though I got tired of picking out the crab to seal and freeze, I never got tired of paddling to the mouth of Blakely Harbor with my man.

I also picked lots of blackberries and some apples and canned them. 

Even yesterday, the day before school, I made 21 jars of jam from wild blackberries I picked in our neighborhood. No, I'm not super mom. My house looks like a wreck right now with all the canning supplies and back to school supplies strewn around the kitchen and dining room. But with all the anxiety around the start of school, I needed to do something to find my happy place. Making things makes me happy. 

We even harvested a bit of honey! Hubby brought four frames home and we got twelve small bottles of honey and a bit of comb. 

We also have the extractor in our dining room.

Boy, do I have a job to do getting things cleaned up for visitors next week!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

New Granddaughter!

I have a new granddaughter!

I'm so happy I was able to visit her! I drove over fifteen hours to San Jose in one day, rested a day, and drove the rest of the way to San Diego. Then, after staying about a week and a half, I reversed the drive. I had a hurt foot and kid problems, but I'd do anything to see that little girl and her big brother!

I spent much of my time entertaining Grandson. He broke his collarbone while I was there. He milked the extra attention all he could. But it isn't everyday that Grandma could spoil him!

I love those little ones!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

So is This What Trauma Feels Like?

I read this blog post this morning and can't stop tearing up.

Maybe it's because I spent half the night in the emergency room with one teen and only getting four hours of interrupted sleep after we got home. I am still sleep deprived and exhausted from driving from San Diego to the Seattle area after visiting my new granddaughter and family and from the pain of a badly bruised foot. Maybe it's because I found out last night why the other teen has been detached and acting strangely lately. But maybe, just maybe, the tears are flowing because what this woman wrote hits home. Maybe I've been affected by trauma more than I have thought. 

I had time to slow down and think on the long drive home. What is wrong with me? I've been increasingly numb, sad, or worrying about what will happen next. I used to be more genuinely and intensely loving, truly spiritual, and more able to trust that even if things look bad now there is hope that things will turn around for the good soon. I'm not like that anymore.

I go through the motions. I still can function pretty well, at least I think I can. There are times that I feel glimpses of hope, love, peace, and joy. If you act a certain way, the feelings often follow. Want to feel love for your child? Act loving. Want to have a good marriage? Treat your spouse like you already have a good marriage. Tired of a messy house? Set a timer and clean it. Sometimes pushing through despite emotions helps to bring what you want in life.

But my emotional weirdness is a bit concerning to me. I am having a hard time making friends in our new place because I don't have the emotional energy to make the kind of friendships I need. I'm afraid I'll just fall apart and scare people away. I also think I'm hyper vigilant about what horrible situations will happen next with the kids. The teen years of kids with past trauma, fetal alcohol exposure, attachment difficulties, and psychological challenges can be grueling. Any hint of trouble brings images of the worst case scenario. I kept startling awake the night before my over fifteen hour drive the other day because I kept thinking about something happening with my son. It didn't, of course. But other things did happen. And then others. 

I often wondered what trauma felt like to the kids. I think I know now.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Bloedel Reserve

Our island has many beautiful areas, and one of the best is the Bloedel Reserve.

Hubby and I went there today after church.

Today I was amazed by the beautiful bird songs in the forest,

And in the meadow.

I love it here!

Friday, June 6, 2014

Finding Rest in the Midst of Busyness

There has been a lot going on lately.

We are putting in a new bathroom on the lower floor so that guests, especially our parents, don't have to trudge upstairs in the middle of the night when staying here. There are workers coming in all day, making lots of noise and dust. It will be so good when it is done! We are on day five of a two week project. Well, the contractor said eight days, but rarely are things like this on time. 

We've had a lot of appointments lately. I won't go into detail, but they've been emotionally draining, at least for me. I still need to find a dentist and make eye appointments, but I'm getting there.

We still haven't had a week when one child or another is sick or has to leave school early for an appointment. But the school psychologist saw me pick up Ms. D from school yesterday, told me how she's heard such good things about Ms. D, and thanked me for bringing her to Bainbridge High! I can't tell you how good that feels! Sometimes I fear that people will resent us for bringing a bit of chaos into their nice, tidy lives. Instead of dreading the extra work we have added, people are welcoming us. What a relief!

There are school events, projects, and homework that all need time in the evenings and weekends. One nice thing I miss about homeschooling is that you make your own schedule, and not have to try to fit in the school's calendar. But right now, for our family, the school is a better choice. So we run here and there, get these materials, find that outfit, and get the kids to work on their homework. 

In the midst of all this and more, I've been trying to find rest. 

Hubby and I took the canoe out on the water last week. We saw bald eagles roosting, terns diving, and enjoyed beautiful views of Seattle and the bay.

Sunday afternoon, Hubby and I went to the art museum on Bainbridge and took a tour of some of the road ends on the island. Later this week I came back to one of them and took this picture while walking with Brewster. It is so beautiful here!

I take Brewster for walks. We found a beach that the locals take their dogs to play, run, and swim.

Hubby and I spend a little time each day gardening. There is nothing like working in the soil to relieve stress!

I've been trying to be more deliberate in finding rest. It is so tempting to run, run, run until I collapse. But I realize that I need to pace myself, to stay healthy for the long haul. So each day I do something to slow the rhythm of my life.

Friday, May 23, 2014

A Thousand Drops

I was going to title this A Thousand Cuts, but I'm done crying for now and things don't seem too difficult, just annoying. The past couple of weeks has been hard. If it wasn't for my friend's visit last weekend, and our time of talk, rest, and refreshing, I think I would be writing this from the looney bin. (Sorry in advance to anyone who's been hospitalized for psychiatric reasons, but looney bin sounds more dramatic than psych ward, or maybe just more fun.) So I've softened the title to A Thousand Drops, since many of the stressors lately haven't been big, but they would be enough to drown someone if collected all together.

What are a few of the stressors?

Some were little things, like smoke alarms that kept beeping even after we changed the battery. Someone got a late night snack, and forgot to put the food back when he was done. Having a child meet a psychologist for the first time, and doing all the paperwork, yet not being able to find the most important documents. We have to get things ordered for the new bathroom, yet the items are due to come in a day or two late. There are reminders that I still don't know anyone on the island well enough yet that can help me. I don't have good friends yet.

My hands have been hurting. My feet were hurting me for a few weeks, but now the pain is in my hands. I was worrying it could be arthritis, but the blood test came back negative. So now I don't know why my hands hurt, they just do. Chronic pain has a way of coloring things negatively. I don't want to be one of those people who b***** about every ache and pain, but it's sure hard to open cans, ibuprofen bottles, and drive when your joints hurt.

Talking about driving, I lost my keys at a beach. I looked back many times, have seen other people's keys that were found by others, but not mine. Fortunately, a really nice lady and her elderly father took me and my wet dog home that day. But I was without a mailbox key for a few days, which made me feel a bit isolated.

And to add to the isolation, I set my phone on a wet counter. I put it in a bag of rice for a few days, and it works OK, though the screen is still a bit weird. I don't know what calls I missed, and don't know how to access my phone message thing. I also haven't had as much of my grandson FaceTime fix, which always puts a smile on my face after a rough day with the younger two kids.

Rough days? There have been plenty. Both Mr. I and Ms. D have been avoiding classes. Ditch a class? Yes. Pretend you have a stomach ache and sit in the bathroom so you are late for school? Yes. Name calling? Swearing? Hitting the walls in anger? Yes, yes, yes.  I know I shouldn't let these things bother me, but I'd love to send the kids off to school with a smile and a hug. Instead, they are angry or sullen, and I cry all the way home. The school suggested I call the police to get one of them to school. Oh that would be great! I can imagine what trauma that will dig up!

And then there are the things they know will push my buttons. Leaving food and dishes out on the table, in their rooms, on window sills, and where the dogs can get to them. Forgetting to remove pens from their pockets before putting their clothes in the laundry. And that was one of the few times they added a sheet, or towels, or other's clothes in with their load. Dying his sister's hair, which is nice for her. But getting hair dye on the sink, counter, floor, my two best towels, and my bathroom rug. You didn't notice that your hands were dirty? Asking me to take them here, there, and everywhere. Remember? My hands hurt. But the more I look stressed and in pain, the more they want proof that I can take care of them.

I missed my daughter's graduation so that I could get the kids to school. Yet I couldn't even do that well!

And then there is the puppy. I had two weeks of just having one dog in the house because Samurai was being cared for by someone else in the club to curb some of his relieving issues on walks. It was stressful for Ms. D, but she went along with the program. One hour after picking Samurai up Wednesday, we had a meeting with the regional leader. She told Ms. D and I, on a downtown sidewalk with people walking by, that she was going to put Samurai with another family. Ms. D was obviously upset. I was upset. How would anyone think of telling a teenager that kind of news, with no warning, in a public place? I wrote a letter to our leader later, and she apologized. I guess they were thinking about this for a month, yet didn't tell us!

There was more, but you get the idea. Things have not been all nice, neat, and calm around here. We are experiencing loss, frustration with school, and not everything is going smoothly. But even if it feels like I'm drowning sometimes, I'll make it.

Friend Visit

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

At Fay Bainbridge Park

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

Bloedel Reserve

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

Waiting for the massage

Went to the farmer's market,

And talked, and talked, and talked!

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

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


One of my daughters graduated today with a BA degree.

My girl!

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Blessing at the Right Time

Yesterday started rough.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hubby was kind and supportive.

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

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

Monday, May 5, 2014

My Friend in Heaven

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

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

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

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

Carol's friends and family at the mud run!

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

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

I Will Do Anything for the Ones I Love

There is another viral illness circulating in our family. It is hitting the teens the worst. Again.

I don't think there's been a week that has passed since our kids started school that one or the other kid has been home at least one day since they started school in January.

I took my daughter to the urgent care clinic Sunday to make sure her sore throat wasn't strep. It wasn't. This wasn't the place I would prefer to spend a few hours on a beautiful Sunday, but I also didn't want Ms. D to lose any more school days.

Both kids ended up missing some school this week anyway.

Lately I have been planning my next season of life. What do I want to do with my time, once we get settled? The kids are in school. How do I meet people? I have so many interests. What do I want to do when I grow up?

Those questions have been put on hold for awhile. It would be pretty hard to keep a job or go to school myself if I have to keep missing in order to care for the kids. Flexibility is extremely important when you have children with special needs. Whenever I mention going to work the kids panic. Maybe I need to think of some things I can do at home, and figure out some other way to socialize. It's hard to be an extrovert and the mother of a child with special needs. How do other extrovert moms do it, especially when they move to a new area? I was feeling a little sorry for myself about having to stay home and care for the kids.

While Ms. D and I were at the clinic, Samurai, the puppy, shredded a toy and ate the pieces. He ended up vomiting that night. In the morning, Ms. D told me about it after she cleaned up the mess. I told her that she is learning what it's like to be a good mom.

What she said next was precious and a good reminder for me:

"I will do anything for the ones I love to keep them safe and healthy."

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Difficult Times

Difficult behaviors, RAD, FASD, PTSD, anxiety, sensory overload, and all those other annoying things don't disappear with a change of place. Though removing the kids from their old stomping grounds has been beneficial in reducing triggers and temptations, their underlying difficulties are still there.

We have had a rough few days with Mr. I. There's been a slow buildup of stress from school. The expectations of the school are high, and though the teachers give Mr. I extra help, he is still struggling. The honeymoon period is waning at the same time. 

Monday was a beautiful day. Mr. I took advantage of the day to go skateboarding, so we ended up here:

Unfortunately, a Neo-Nazi guy with tats and a big knife at his side sat across from us in the emergency waiting room and glared at us. Mr. I was brave, and didn't run out of the building. But between the fear of being attacked and the pain of a sprained elbow, triggers were activated.

The following days have been hard. We've had regressions. We've had duct tape flushed down the toilet. We've had swearing in school and at home. I'm emotionally spent.

But! But!
Mr. I was able to gather himself together last night for a few hours and help with dinner. There is progress when the negative behaviors aren't constant.  There is progress when Mr. I is able to apologize after he calms down. Yes, he regressed this morning. But there is hope. 

Even if he still struggles with his emotions, Mr. I is a lot better off here with us. Like he said, his REAL parents wouldn't make him go to school or church. It's so hard to be a mean parent who forces their kids eat their vegetables and go places that will help them grow. It's a challenge to keep calm when your child does his best to wear you down. 

But when I feel overwhelmed, all I have to do is walk down the street and see this:

Then I remember that I am blessed. I can make it. There is hope.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Guide Dog Puppy Meeting and Weekend Getaway

The teens had spring break last week. They had visions of spending the week in San Jose with their friends. I would have liked to visit family and friends. One friend isn't doing well in her cancer fight, and I would have loved to visit her one last time. That didn't happen. I was sick the first few days, and then we had guide dog puppy meetings Wednesday and Saturday.

Our guide dog group after a nice walk in Poulsbo

There just wasn't time to drive down, and since we are trying to get on our feet financially, plane rides were out of the budget.

So the kids had a nice, boring week, which isn't a bad thing for them. They don't do well with a lot of excitement, and I think the stress of school and moving lowered their resistance to illnesses. A relaxed week helped them to recharge.

Saturday we went to the guide dog outing in Poulsbo. It is such a cute town! I'll have to go there again. We got a dozen donuts at an awesome bakery after our meeting, and drove down to the grandparents' farm. We got to visit, Mr. I got to drive the tractor, and Ms. D and the dogs had a great time playing...

...And resting.

I would have loved to be able to visit friends and family in California, but this spring break was good.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Let's try this again

This is the fourth time this week that I've attempted to write. Each time before I have been distracted. Sick kids will do that to you, even if they are teens. Well, it's true especially if they are teens, because they want your computer to watch mindless television shows in between bathroom runs. It might get a bit negative here, so if you want to just skip over to the happy part of my week, skip to the picture of the puppies on Ms. D's lap waiting for Mr. I to get out of school.

I am sick along with the kids. I've been able to avoid most of their illnesses this year so far, but not this one. I realized at least one or the other teen has been home sick from school at least one day for just about every week since they started this year. Ms. D asked me why they are getting sick so much. I told her I think their immune systems are not doing well. It could be the stress of moving, being exposed to different viruses in school, and not eating enough vegetables. The more stressed they get, the pickier they are with food. I looked at their plates the other night. While Hubby's and my plates were colorful, the kids' were white. Well, almost white. They picked out the carrots from their pasta and shoved them to the side to be thrown out later. They didn't even eat the green beans. They normally like green beans!

So what else has been happening here the past week? I'm not going to promise to go into more details later, since my record on that is pretty dismal, so this will be a long post. Time just flies, and my life isn't as boring as I'd like. Even if I get back to it later, I'll probably forget the details or think it happened months ago, when it really just happened the week before.

Ms. D had some meltdowns. Her special ed teacher told her she was special ed during the IEP meeting. Ms. D did not like that. It took awhile for me to explain about different levels of help and we were all just trying to help her be challenged but not overwhelmed. I don't think she bought into it, but the next disappointment was big enough to overshadow this one.

The next meltdown happened when Ms. D found out the high school on the island would not accept credits from our homeschool program. This "ruined her life!" My thought is that this just gives Ms. D more time to gain skills she needs to live on her own. Many kids with FASD need more time to mature and learn. Even typical eighteen year olds have difficulty being fully prepared for an adult life. However, I strongly suspect that Ms. D wants to move out and live with friends, on her own, or *gulp* with her birth family in San Jose as soon as she turns eighteen. If graduation is put off another year, she won't have a diploma when she flies, or crashes, out of the nest. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

And yes, there was another meltdown. It was time last week for Samurai, our guide dog puppy, to be puppy-sat by another member in our club. All guide dog puppies need times like that to learn new skills, get used to different handlers, and to have people with more experience evaluate the dogs and suggest modifications in training. Samurai needed some more experience in traffic situations, so the puppy sitter asked to watch him for a few more days. Ms. D exploded! She thought we were thinking of what was good for Samurai more than what was good for her. Actually, I think it was good for both of them. But it sure was tense around here for a few days.

Actually, I'm surprised we made it this past week. Mr. I had some school deadlines which were heavy on his mind. He would tell, not ask, me to help him and complain that he didn't know what to do. I'd try to figure out what was required, and then he'd yell at me that I was doing it wrong. It was getting to be a pretty stressful cycle until I just gave up and told him that I wasn't in class, so I don't know what they said. He needed to work harder than me on his homework. And guess what? He started to do his homework on his own! Of course, the school did put him in a homework help class last week, so much of the burden is off me now.

I've also been hormonal the past week. Perimenopause is not pleasant, especially with hormonal teens in the house. I know I haven't handled things as well as I could have, had I not been so exhausted, jumpy, and cranky myself. It's no wonder we got sick. Our immune systems were all out of whack. But we made it!

I hate to be negative for too long, so here's the positive:

My sister and her hubby sold their condo! They've been trying to sell it for a few years, and finally got a buyer. I don't know where they will end up next, but it will be good for them. She and her husband also visited us last Friday! We always love it when we can get together.

Blackbelt Daughter was able to visit Male Nurse Son and family in San Diego. I love to see the siblings visit each other and have good relationships!

I think we finally settled on a church. The kids complain that they don't like it, but it wasn't the first church they visited on the island. They get stuck on the first girlfriend of a sibling, first home, first church, first anything, and don't like new people until after at least a few months. So we are going to go ahead with the church we feel will be more accepting of them and will be a better fit for our family. Sometimes we have to make decisions for our kids that they don't like at first. We are such mean parents! We make them go to school. We make them go to church. Sigh!

Hubby and I went to a intro to the church dinner Sunday afternoon. People were so welcoming! I really do think it will be a good church for our family.

Mr. I admitted that he's beginning to like it here on the island. Of course he backpedaled a little bit after he realized he told it to me, one of the evil people who tore him from his friends and 'hood, but he did say it! I know the kids are generally happier and feel safer here. But it was nice to have slip out of his mouth what I suspected.

I couldn't do much else yesterday because of the gastroenteritis, so I started to crochet a blanket. This is the first handcraft that I've done since we moved, other than the two bright green, "insurance" hats I made during the football playoffs.

We had a contractor come in and see how we can get a bathroom in downstairs. It will make it better for guests when they stay here. It will take some time, since we will do it in steps, but we can do it as we have the money.

I read an awesome blog post that is challenging me. I'm thinking of printing it out and concentrating on a few of the things suggested at a time. I know I can't do all of it at once, some of the things I am already doing, but some things need to change ASAP!

Hubby and I went for a walk in Winslow Saturday and looked at galleries and handcrafted furniture stores. It was very inspiring! I think as soon as I get the rooms set up downstairs I'll start painting... and quilting...and knitting...and maybe even furniture making!

Samurai and the kids had awesome reunions after nearly a week of being apart! Cute puppy alert! Happy teen alert!

I love living here on Bainbridge! I am so amazed I live in a place like this! I am blessed!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Girls' Day Out

Ms. D and I went on a girls' day out Saturday. I didn't realize just how much we needed some time alone until after we spent the day together. 

First, we went to a guide dog puppy outing with Samurai. I thought we were going to the mall, but we spent most of the time outdoors, walking in and out of businesses and around town. Although we weren't quite dressed for the weather, our light sweatshirts weren't quite enough, the rain held off until after the meeting.

Afterwards, we went shopping. Samurai got a lot of practice inside stores and went with us when we had lunch. He got so tired, but did so well!

Since there isn't much variety of stores on our island, we had a lot of errands to run. Our last one was at Wally World. We left Samurai in the car, since he was napping. I'm glad we did, because of two surprises we had as we shopped.

The first surprise was in the parking lot. An elderly man stopped us and asked us if we heard about the frog. I knew that Bainbridge had a thing about frogs, and I wondered if there was some special frog that I hadn't heard about. You never know what to expect in a small town, especially one that caters to tourists. The man then told me this: There was a frog that went into the store and bought some flies. Frogs love flies. The checker then asked the frog, "Will that be cash or credit?" The frog replied, "Debit, debit!" Ms. D and I laughed and laughed! How many people get stopped in the middle of a parking lot and have someone tell them a joke?

Then when we went into the store and heard this:

Our day together was filled with surprises, shopping, and girl talk. I can't wait until the next time I can have a date with one of my kids.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Spring Ahead

Spring has come to the island this past week.

Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and we are slowly getting used to the time change.

I feel like we are in a spring season as a family. Yes, the rain still comes and some days are cloudy. Ms. D and Mr. I have days when they are having trouble adjusting to school. I miss my family and friends in California. I can't hop over to spend time with a friend who has cancer, or be with my older children when they need help. I tend to be more of an extrovert, so I get impatient with the slowness of making new friends. There is so much to do to get settled in and I get a bit overwhelmed at times.. 

On the other hand, we are happier here, even the teens. We are surrounded by so much beauty. The schools are helping our kids adjust. Ms. D is getting services we couldn't get in California. The kids are making friends in school. My kitchen, though a bit smaller, isn't falling apart. My fingers don't get pinched by drawers falling! We are catching up financially, despite all the moving expenses, since the cost of living is less. I have so much to be thankful for.

This is a new season in our lives. We had winter long enough. Now it's time to enjoy the flowers. 

Monday, March 3, 2014

Family Visit

We had quite a few people in our family visit this past weekend. I absolutely loved seeing each one of them! One of my daughters came up from California for a few days, the grandparents came from Oregon, and my sister and her husband came over on the ferry and met us for dinner Friday night.

I wish I could have all those I love together with me all the time! But since that can't happen, I really enjoy it when I can give them a hug. Seeing and hearing my loved ones on the phone is good, but giving them a hug is awesome!

We took walks, ate together, and talked. Microbio Daughter did things with her little siblings and brought a peaceful calm to them.

I skipped a conference so that I could spend as much time as possible with my family. I know I made the best choice. Time with those I love is precious.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Getting Back Into the Swing of Things

One of the most difficult parts of moving are the hundreds of little things that need attention in order to get established. Registrations, licenses, new healthcare providers, schools, guide dog puppy requirements, changes of address, outfitting a new home, and many other tasks need to be done quickly, and still live a normal life. Dogs need to be walked and cared for, homework needs to be completed, chores need to be done.

Then unexpected road bumps pop up. I can't find the potato peeler. A tub leaks. A car breaks down. The kids get sick.  The computer charger dies. The puppy gets an ear infection. Someone used our credit card information illegally. A mailbox lock breaks. A migraine comes on. I have to find a book so my son can do his homework, only to find out, after a visit to the library and searching online, that he was using the excuse of not having the book to not do the homework. Yes, he tried that old trick and I didn't suspect it until after I went to so much bother.

But I can't let the thousand little things keep me from enjoying life. So each day I try to accomplish at least one moving task. I paint a room. I change an address. I get a library card or a dog license.

And I play in the snow with the kids. Well, I try to play in the snow with them, but they think it's too cold. But I did get Mr. I to make a couple of snowmen with me.

Then I take the car to the mechanic and learn the bus system on the way home, pay some bills, clean the house.

And take a walk and admire the flowers. Or meet hubby on the ferry and walk the beach way home.

I change some addresses, go to school IEP meetings, and do so much paperwork my eyes get tired.

And take impromptu visits to see the extended family, and admire the rainbows.

Spend time on the phone and computer with teachers, nurses, and the fraud department.
And have fun at an outdoor store on the way home from the grandparents.

I cook meals, clean the house, and put together furniture.

And step outside our back deck and listen to the chorus of frogs on the island.

There is so much to do to get back to the swing of things, to find a rhythm of life that is healthy and happy. But I'm getting there, one step at a time.