Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Gaining Acceptance

I haven't been able to blog because I have been so annoyed.  Part of my annoyance was at myself.  Some days I feel as though I am selfish and worry too much about whether I am being taken advantage of or not.  I am aware that our boarders do not share our same values.  Slowly I have come to the point of acceptance.  Money is still tight, the food flies out of the cabinets and I have moments when I want to take a certain dog to the animal shelter.  However, my level of acceptance has finally reached a point where I am not as angry as I was. 

My facebook post for the day...... Today as I feed my dog, homeschool one child, send three off to school, clean the pool and yard, check on my mom, feed the foster baby, look at all my clutter and mess, wash dishes and clothing, plant a few flowers, put dinner in the oven, watch TV and search the internet, I realize how busy I am but that I am also so Blessed. Sometimes when life is crazy busy, it is hard to remember that fact.

At this moment we are inconvenienced and struggle.  However, this too shall pass.  When our friends are able to move to their own place we will regain our old lives.  We will repair all the damage and recover. 

So, this too shall pass.  In the meantime, tomorrow I will update about Larissa.  She has had her testing with the neurobehaviorist, seen the neurologist, talked with the school and tomorrow we visit our primary care doctor.  Lots of changes are being made medically.  Hopefully for the best.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Granddaughter Joy

Thanks to the advances in modern imagery we have learned that Tasha and Ethan are expecting a girl!  We are so excited and can't hardly wait to spoil our grandchild.  So far Tasha has been doing well.  Not much nausea and just a little bump at the 17th week. 

I hope to be able to paint a piece of furniture or build something for the baby.  They are moving to Columbia over the summer and I will be able to tell what she needs at that time.

It is hard for me to believe that my baby is having a baby!  Kids grow up too fast.  Tasha at 5 weeks old sporting a head full of hair and so much curiosity....
I am thrilled to have the opportunity to love on a grandchild but I am more thrilled that Tasha and Ethan will soon experience the love that a parent has for their child. They will be great parents. 

Such a blessing.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Looking for Resources - Warning Complaint/rant

I am on a mission to look for resources for our friends this week.  I was shocked this weekend when they brought home a new puppy.  My first thought was how are they going to feed him.  Then I worried about parvo.  Our puppy doesn't have all his shots yet and doesn't get his next ones until the 27th.  What if this dog makes mine sick.  Then I realized that the new dog has fleas and isn't house broken.  I don't understand how someone can bring a dog into a home where they are guests. I almost cried.  It was too much.

I feel stretched financially, emotionally and feel the stress of being responsible for way too many people and pets.  Our friends don't know how to conserve.  If the food is in the house, they will eat it....nonstop.  Last month we went through 25 pounds of sugar alone!  We normally don't use 5 pounds a month.  I have stopped buying a lot of my favorite items because food items that used to last a bit only last a day.  I can't keep up and they are complaining about gaining weight.

They receive food stamps but go through them quickly.  They buy food items that I can't afford!  Naturally they go through them fast.  I guess that they can when I am buying groceries to supplement.  Honestly, it is as though they don't contribute at all because the amount that they consume is more than the value that they bring in on their food stamps.

Yet, we invited this into our home.  We just didn't realize how different our core values are.  We didn't expect that they would show so little respect for our home and values.  We had church friends over today and my friend sat there cussing and talking trash the entire time.  Then she embarrassed one of our guests.  I winced every time she opened her mouth.  She doesn't normally talk that way so I don't know what was up that that.  I will talk to her about it tomorrow but I feel that it will not go anywhere.  Either way, I am looking for resources.  Something has to change.  This is spring break, all the kids will be home all day/all week.  Pray for us!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Meeting

On Sunday, after church, we continued our work on our patio.We needed more supplies so we headed to Lowe's.  We have been visiting Lowes quite frequently recently and know many of the employees there.

While we were driving there I saw Anthony and Larissa's father.  He is homeless and carves canes for money.  I had been meaning to stop and buy canes from him for the kids.  We turned around and stopped to talk to him.  He said that he had some canes and to meet in an hour at another location.

We went to Lowe's and then went home and picked up the kids. They knew that their father walked around town and carved canes.  They weren't totally surprised when we said we were going to meet their father and get some canes.

When their father saw that we had brought the kids he was very excited.  He hasn't seen them in about 5 years although I have taken him pictures.

He handed them their canes, hugged them and cried.

He also talked to them quite a lot.  He was very appropriate.  He told the kids that he was their father but that we are their parents.  That they need to listen to us and do what we tell them to do.  He said that he couldn't take care of them, that he is still trying to get his life in order.

In the end he told them that he loved them and that whatever they do in life make sure that they do it the best that they can.  It was a good meeting. 

Larissa has been asking to see her mom so I asked him if he knew where she was staying.  he gave me directions and told us to go see her.

I don't normally drop in on people.  However, the location he gave us was different from the last location we were given.  She is homeless as well, moving from home to home. We decided that we would go and look for her since it was so important to Larissa.  The area of town that we were in was not an area that we would go to at night.  He gave us "walking" directions and not a house number so we guessed.  

We saw two men sitting on a porch and stopped to ask them if they knew where ST was living.  They went to the door and lightly knocked on the door telling her that someone was here to see her.  We got out of the car and when they saw the kids they then knocked vigorously telling her that she needed to come out.

When she came out and saw the kids she was so excited.  She hugged us and hugged the kids. For three years we sat and visited while waiting for visits.  We always encouraged her and in the end she relinquished the kids to us.  She knew that we were adopting them.  She was very appropriate and said all the right things to the kids.  It is hard to describe the look she had when she first saw the kids.  So many emotions for her. 

One of the men got up and came and talked to Anthony.  He is an uncle and wondered if Anthony remembered him (He did not.)  I should have gotten his picture but in the moment I didn't think about it.

The meetings were very positive.  Both parents acknowledged that we were the parents and they accepted that.  I think that on some level we are all still processing the meetings.  Larissa has asked some questions about her parents and why they aren't together.  She wants to know if they fought a lot.  A lot of her questions I couldn't answer.  They are their stories and I am not a part of their lives in that way.  Anthony didn't have many questions at all.  I think that Larissa will come up with more questions over time.  I plan on making copies of the pictures and taking them to their biological parents. 

When we talk to the kids about their other parents we don't use the term biological parents.  We simply say your other mom or dad.  We acknowledge that they did have a role in their lives.  We are the parents, we are the mom and dad that are raising you.  However, it is OK to love their other parents.  They are not hurting my feelings by having feelings for someone else.  If anything, having someone out there who loves you is always a plus. For the kids, showing love towards someone else does not take away from the love that they have for me.  Isn't it funny how love just expands and expands.  Love has no limits.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

I thought that I was busy before!

We are busy.  New dog, new baby, new family, all original obligations.  On top of those I am the set designer for our church.  Our church meets at a temporary location so everything has to be brought in and then taken out after the service.  Everything fits in a trailer.

The last request was for a huge backdrop of the back of a pirate ship.  She wanted big but I had to think of how to make it portable and compact. I had two weeks to get it ready.  I thought about the design and then on Friday I got started.....

By the end of Friday night I had finished the sky.

On Saturday I finished the ocean and then the ship.

It is two sheets of 4 x 8ft veneer framed with 1x3in for support. Then another sheet was cut in half to add on the sides.  It is all connected with hinges. It stands by itself and folds up very compactly.

I don't know why I procrastinate on starting these projects.  I really do enjoy doing them but seem to need a deadline to get the push to start.  i guess that part of my problem was finding a location to paint this monster.  I had to clean out a lot of the garage.  This was just part of our busy weekend.  More later.  I am off to an IEP meeting for Anthony.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Expect the Unexpected

Yesterday morning I was seriously dragging.  I was sitting there trying to decide if I should have coffee or take a shower first.  I had no energy to do either one.  Let me tell you, newborns are for young parents!  This older mom needs her 5 hours of sleep.  I guess we need to get used to it because DSS never called on Monday after court.  Actually they didn't call on Tuesday either.  Finally I got a call this morning as I was contemplating coffee asking me to bring him in for a visit, they forgot to mention it to me.  I missed my coffee and was out the door taking Little Man to DSS.  While there I learned that he will not be going home any time soon....at least 6 months.

Anyways, back to yesterday.  As I was sitting there needing a shower and coffee the phone rang.  It was Dr. West's office calling.  We have scheduled assessments for Anthony and Larissa in August.  They had a cancellation and asked if we could bring one of the kids in within an hour.  (It takes an hour for us to get there.)  So with no shower and no coffee I ran out the door to get Anthony.  I considered his issues to be higher priority.

Dr. West has seen Anthony since 2006 so he has all his history and results of previous tests.  He sat and talked with Anthony and I for quite a while.  We discussed the problems with school, inability to start and finish a task within a normal time frame, inappropriate talk at home and school, his flat effect, social issues and all his medication changes.  Anthony answered his questions but sometimes seemed totally off subject. He gave Dr. West his famous blank stare when given a questions he struggled to answer. At one point Dr. West looked at me and stated that he wasn't going to do the testing that he had planned because he thought that things were going a totally different direction.

He came back and had me fill out a form that I had never filled out before...Inventory of Executive Function.

Oh my!  Just about everything on there except for problems with handwriting fit Anthony to some degree. I was difficult to finish.

He gave Anthony some tests and after a while came back with the results.  He believes that Anthony has brain damage.  He thinks that Anthony was a shaken baby and has frontal lobe damage.  This is hard to see on an MRI now because of the time that has gone by.   We are now looking at encephalopathy DSN 348.3.  This took me in a totally different direction than I had expected to go.  I had hoped to get some answers but I was shocked by this.  It actually answers a lot of questions.  It is also an area that I hadn't really looked at.  I have looked at frontal lobe damage because Larissa's seizures on in her frontal lobe.

He also asked me about speech.  The school in Texas said that he had extreme expressive and receptive language problems.  When we moved to SC they tested him and said that he didn't have any problems and took away those services.  I have been fighting them on this issue ever since then.  He articulates fine and has a huge vocabulary.  However, I think, and have always thought, that he doesn't always comprehend.  Dr. West says that Anthony needs speech.  We may have to go somewhere else for help with that.  He said that Anthony can understand the command of put a red block and a white block in the box.  However, if you say put the red block in the box after the white block he does it wrong every time.  He gave a long list of words that Anthony didn't understand.  I don't understand how the Texas schools caught that and Dr. West catches it but our school doesn't.  I requested a speech evaluation for this IEP so I will be curious to see if they say that he doesn't have any problem. Dr. West says that the problem may be that Anthony presents himself well and had a huge vocabulary.  It is sad when you feel as though you have hurt your kid because you speak in full sentences at home and use a lot of variety in your vocabulary.

Anthony has an IEP meeting next week and I have been promised the report by then.  If not, we will have to reschedule the meeting.

Anthony and I took off to eat some Schlotzsky's on the way home.  All the way I was in shock.

I have been researching frontal lobe damage, long term effects of brain damage, shaken baby syndrome, encephalopathy.  So much information that I am still processing.  Frontal lobe damage would explain the executive functioning problems and even the inappropriate talk.  Brain damage would explain his inability to start and finish a task, he inability to self motivate.  It actually explains a lot about Anthony.  I talked with his teacher today and will try to reach his resource teacher tomorrow.  I want them to understand where Anthony is coming from and think of some ideas on how to help Anthony to achieve all that he can.

In the meantime Dr. West will call me when he has the next cancellation.  He wants to see Larissa.  The 4 month old who came to use with her head cocked to the side, her arm tense and straight with her hand in a tight fist, with no neck control and poor sucking ability.  The child who has seizures coming from her frontal lobe.  I wonder how that meeting will go.