Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Balloon Weekend

I have had the pleasure of spending the entire weekend out at our local small plane airfield doing a recruitment booth at the Balloon Festival. My recruitment booth is to interest folks in becoming foster or adoptive parents.

The Balloon Festival has been awesome, over 100 balloons participating in races, take-offs and arrivals and evening glows. I will try to get some pictures up but I don't know why my picture stuff on my computer is not working right now.

I do these festivals (not all balloon, mostly community) from Spring through Fall to get information out in the community about the desperate need for families for children. This one has been particularly pleasant as the weather has been delightful, not hot, not cold, no rain.

I always enjoy getting to know my exhibiting neighbors, it is such a diverse group of folks that are vendors at these festivals. This weekend one of my neighbors is a great family that does of all things temporary airbrush tattoos. Not my thing, but the kids/teens all love it.

Last night at the festival a group of kids who reside at our children's home came to the festival and they were so excited to see my booth representing their home. several of them commented on the pictures I have displayed of successful adoptions and mentioned that soon I would have their picture there, that about broke my heart since I know that most of these kids are the very hardest of the hard to place in families. But we do keep trying.

So I had been talking with my tattoo neighbors all weekend about what I do and they had been very interested. When the kids all came by they offered to do tattoos for all of them for a very reduced price and I just covered it as most of the kids had no money. You should have seen the joy on the kids faces as they got to have whatever temporary tattoo they wanted. Some of them had a hard time picking out just one, but all of them were thankful to the tattoo artists and just having a grand time. One of the boys is an elective mute but talks a lot with his eyes and he even let the tattoo guy touch his skin, which is highly unusual. Then after he got the tattoo he would catch your eye and point to his tattoo and smile with his eyes in such a wonderful way. I was a great thing to be able to help happen for the kids.

So one more little part of the festival this afternoon, then I can break things down and come on home and be exhausted. Of course all my weekend stuff hasn't gotten done, the food shopping, the wash, talking to my husband, the bill paying, you know the usual. I don't even have Monday off, but I am taking a bit of time in the middle of the week. Busy, busy time of year.

P.S. I need to write a very serious note about DBG and her family situation but I need more info before I proceed. Just please pray for DBG and her parents, especially her Dad. Things are going downhill fast and I don't know where the bottom of the slide is.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A New Diagnosis

Finally we are making some progress on Kendra's diagnosis for her abdominal issues. Thanks to our wonderful pediatrician who listens and really problem solves. Although we may still have to go to some new specialists, our pediatrician has been really proactive in her own detective work and has discovered some of the factors in Kendra's continuing ill health.

We now know she has a low thyroid, this was detected by the Dr. insisting that the insurance company pay for the more in depth thyroid blood work, the most common thyroid check had come back normal. So she is on thyroid meds. We have known forever that Kendra is mildly anemic but now the DR. wants to aggressively treat it, thinking that her fatigue, etc may be linked to the anemia that many of the specialist have just blown off because it wasn't super serious. Our Dr. commented that all the base lines are just averages and what looks just a little low to the base line, may for that one person be more serious.

Most importantly of all, the Dr. has diagnosed her stomach pain and we are really thinking this is the right one this time. Anyone ever heard of abdominal migraines? Well that is possibly what Kendra is having. It all fits, we have a strong maternal link to migraines all through the women in my family (myself, included) and the type of pain and the associated symptoms all fit. So hopefully we will try out some migraine meds and see if we can't get a handle on this.

It would be such a relief for all of us to get a diagnosis and a treatment plan so she can get back to living a more typical teen life. After all of the specialists have been pooh poohing her abdominal pain Kendra has started to think that there is something wrong with her brain as in she must be making it up or something. I hated to see her second guessing herself. And we were beginning to see a lot of depression as her life has gotten more and more constrained and many folks (teachers, etc.) were saying that she was faking it.

So I really hope this is the right diagnosis and that we can get a treatment plan in place and working. to have this burden lifted would be great.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

It just keeps getting better

It was my birthday on Sunday, one shy of the big 5 0. Sunday wasn't so hot, not much in the way of birthday excitement from the kids or hubby. Pretty much as anticipated. I have learned not to expect too much. (a lot of you can relate I know from reading your posts about your birthdays)

We went out for an extremely pleasant family dinner, the best in forever, everyone was on their game and we had a delightful round of conversations and witty rejoinders without anyone getting an attitude or offended. From that point on my birthday just kept getting better.

With a lot of coaching my DH was able to get me a present that I really wanted (instead of the generator he thought I needed, no really, one year he got me an electric chainsaw, luckily it was disassembled in the box or he just might have been disassembled himself!!) Of course, he procrastinated about the purchase so it didn't come until Monday but it came.

He got me a Wii Fit and I am in heaven. We have all really enjoyed it but me most of all, which is how it should be don't you think? I now have an exercise something I can do in the early AM as I am rousting the kids and yet still be near if I am needed. I am so happy that he got what I WANTED and not what he thought I needed.

So that came on Monday and on Monday I actually got a birthday card in the mail. Can you believe it my very own birthday card, it came as a form card from my state representative, but hey I am not picky, I proudly displayed my card for all to see and talked about the joy I experienced in opening it as the supper table so everyone could share in that joy.

Then on Tuesday my mother called to wish me Happy Birthday! Yup on Tuesday. But I had so many endorphins from my glorious exercising on my Wii Fit that I had a great conversation with her all the same.

Then today I actually had a luncheon thrown for me at work, complete with cards, some nice gifts and a cookie cake. I am now really enjoying this birthday thing. I am wondering what will happen tomorrow. Can it get any better than this? I hope not or I will have way too many expectations for next year :-)

So sarcasm aside it really has been a good birthday or birthweek or something. Far more than usual and with none of the typical acting out that usually happens with the kids if I want a little me time or recognition. Maybe we are all growing up, who knows! I really, really liked having a birthday lunch at work. For me, one of the absolute best perks at work is co-workers, I really enjoy having other adults to interact with.

So I hope any one else can have a birthday like mine, free of annoying outbursts and full of some much needed affirmation (even if the only card you get is from your state representative!)

Sunday, September 21, 2008

It's been a long week

Well the insurance adjuster is here, one week after the big wind storm. The electric company has been able to restore power to all but about 90,000 homes. At the height of the outage it was over 350,000 homes and businesses. We never lost power, we had some big surges that fried some of the emergency back up power supplies that we have our electronics plugged into and the TV fried (sort of). Our overhead garage door on our detached garage blew in, it was hit by some flying debris and so our garage has been open to the world.

But we have been incredibly lucky. The weather has held except for one brief flurry of rain, so our missing shingles were not a huge problem and the garage was covered in a tarp but was certainly not burglar proof, but no one touched anything. All in all we got off Scot free. We were especially blessed to have power as mu husband runs his business from a home office and all of his work is done on computers and servers sited right here. If we were one of the 90,000, things would not be looking very good from a financial perspective.

Right now the adjuster and my husband are walking all over the roof above my head, trying to get access to the upper roof. Of course, the shingles could not have blown off the easily accessible roof!! No, they blew off the roof that is 3 stories off the ground and steeply pitched.

I have spent the week helping folks with refrigerator clean out and accessing resources to replace food. We have also been pitching in as a neighborhood to help each homeowner clear their yard of debris. The city finally came and took the two huge trees out of the street, but the lower half of the block still does not have power.

My laundry machines have been running non-stop helping others keep ahead of their wash. And we have had several multi family dinners trying to use up food before it spoiled or just to feed those who lost all of their food.

Its been a tough week, but one full of grace and the spirit of togetherness. I just hope things get back to normal soon. They are threatening to open all the schools tomorrow which is not the best news for the kiddos, but my high schooler is ready to go back. I have been back at work since Tuesday so that part is not a big deal.

My tomatoes have enjoyed this long dry warm spell and have just been producing like crazy. I give them away and give them away, I make sauce and can them and they still keep coming. I think I wont plant as many actual plants next year, although I only planted 6. The pumpkins are orange and the stems are drying. Soon it will be time to put in the bulbs for the Spring in the front garden and put my vegetable garden to rest.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

A few loose shingles later!

Well at least we didn't have a tree down on our roof or our car or our yard. We are not one of the more than quarter of a million people still without power in our region. We survived the incredible wind storm unscathed. We had hurricane force winds (80-84 mph) for about 6 hours on Sunday afternoon, only we live about 14 hours by car from the nearest coast. Not quite sure what that was all about. All I have to say is thank you to God that we didn't have hurricane force rain or we would be just a little soggy in our shingle less home!

It was pretty tremendous to experience the wind storm. It began in earnest as we left church, but no one really understood how bad it would get. Even the hyperventilating weather folk on TV did not call this one. At home I quickly realized that I should secure my backyard as my picnic table umbrella was attempting to impale itself in the neighbors deck. As I was gathering chairs and small plastic detritus (sand box toys, balls, dolls, etc) DBG insisted that she needed to come out to help me. The noise of the wind in the trees scared her a little but she ran around screaming as the wind blew the leaves and dirt into our eyes. After a minute I realized that the tenor of her screaming had changed and I looked over to find her pushed against the picket fence by the wind, unable to break free. Her little 39 pound body could not withstand the force of the wind, so for the next few minutes she clung to my back like a little monkey as I tried to finish securing things. Just as I thought I was done the wind picked up one end of the rubber mats that we have under the climbing structure and began blowing them around the yard. There were 36 of those buggers, but I was only able to find and put away 33. 3 of them have sailed into oblivion because I scoured the neighborhood later and there was no sign of them. We made it inside and then there was a tremendous crash and the lights flickered. Two large trees had fallen across the road further down from us.

I couldn't take DBG home on Sunday as there was a state of emergency declared and all non-essential vehicles were prohibited from the roadways. Not sure we would have made it the 1.5 hours down to her house anyway as the major expressways were closed or reduced to one lane and many, many roads were obstructed. Her folks were okay, shaken a bit in their trailer on the hill, but thankfully the wind was not as fierce for them and the trailer didn't blow away.

So we spent the latter part of the afternoon helping our neighbors clean up and get supplies. In this tornado prone part of the country it is amazing to me how few folks had the basic necessities, like flashlights, hand cranked radios, batteries, coolers for ice, extra drinking water, etc. Since we were one of about 10 houses in our whole neighborhood who didn't lose power we invited quite a few folks over for a big dinner. My DH absolutely loves the challenge of cooking for a large group.

For the over 250,000 folks who still do not have power they are saying it will be 10-14 days until they do get the power up. We have power and gas (right now) but the groceries are closed or empty and many, many folks are not prepared to survive for that length of time. Luckily we have pantries stocked with canned goods as I have not yet learned to shop for the few we have left and have still been shopping for 8-10 folks. I think we will make it, but I don't know about milk. The bread we can make from scratch if it comes down to it.

We are supplying many of our neighbors with recharging facilities, we have a set up on our front porch with a surge protector strip so that folks can plug in their cell phones for recharging and not even have to bother us. I had to laugh yesterday afternoon. we had 2 cell phones, a lap top and PSP all plugged in. I wish we could help more with our neighbors. We are keeping an eye on our elderly neighbor just one house down, at least she also has power. Many of our friends have lost the entire contents of their refrigerators and freezers. We took what we could of my friends frozen "canning" efforts that she has been putting up all summer but they still lost some of their precious work.

There is no school for the foreseeable future as less than one quarter of the schools in the county system have power and/or are accessible. My job is shuttered and we are all conducting what we can from home as the Children's Home has no power. The residential children are riding it out right now, but may have to moved to another facility if they cannot reestablish power today. They have a small emergency generator and have been able to feed them, etc. but they have no lights, no entertainment, and it is fast becoming untenable. Most of the foster families have no power but are pretty self-sufficient types so have not called for help from the agency. I have offered my home for showers, TV respites, etc. but getting around is still so difficult even though some families may want to take me up on my offer they can't really get here.

The good side of all this, we haven't had rain so the damage to the homes is not as severe as might be, we won't have rain through the weekend so we might be able to get a tarp up on our roof (it is of course the roof line that is over 3 stories from the ground!!). And the weather is absolutely pleasant so those who don't have power are not suffering from the cold or the heat. As my 73 year old neighbor so succinctly said, "Thank the Lord. It could always be worse."

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

back on track

What a beautiful morning! Cool, crisp, I can feel Autumn right around the corner. Walked to work today, something I was doing regularly in the early Summer, but by July had had to stop because of excessive heat, humidity and bad air. I am hoping to get my schedule set so that I can do this most days. The barrier, besides weather, is that I have to pick up my daughter at school and so I have to walk home to get the car and then get her, so it is 20 minutes walking home and then 20 minutes by car downtown to the school. So it is a scheduling balancing act.

My tomatoes are getting red again which is nice. And the pumpkins are orange and getting plump.

Things could be worse. But still I am battling tiredness and a little depression.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Not a DBG weekend

We are not going to have Dancing Baby Girl this weekend as previously planned and it is a good thing. I was talking with DBG's mom last night and i asked her if she wanted me to take her this weekend or next and she was very happy with next weekend. She said she felt like it hadn't been two weeks yet and that was the best news I have had in over a year. At the beginning of the summer mom was very much pushing for us to take DBG every weekend and was really expressing frustration and exhaustion in dealing with her.

The report about the luau they went to as an extended family last weekend was super positive. Mom reported that everyone was very impressed with DBG and I heard a lot of pride in mom's voice. They have been teaching her soccer and are looking for perhaps a soccer team for her, either this fall or in the spring. I am sooooo delighted to hear such good, positive stuff.

My weekend is shaping up to be pretty hectic and so I am relieved that I don't have DBG, she would not have gotten the attention that I like to give her and she wouldn't have been able to stay the whole weekend as I am teaching for work on Sunday.

So I am happy, a little wistful that maybe they all, DBG and mom and dad, are starting to out grow me. But it is a lot like letting a teen go into adulthood, a little wistfulness, a little fear, but lots of excitement and joy for the days ahead.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Adult Children

One of the more pleasant parts of parenting I am discovering is talking with my adult children about their lives. Rather than me needing to direct them, etc. they can now come to me with questions on a more reciprocal level.

Last night I had a most pleasant and wide ranging conversation with my oldest son Bart who is now 24. We discussed his options with getting out of an oppressive cell phone contract, his upcoming surgery for a sports injury and all the pros and cons of when to schedule that. Then we had a long discussion about his passion Ultimate Frisbee and how he might be able to turn his passion into a job coaching and teaching.

I showed him how to blog (amazing that I might be more technologically proficient in something than that generation) and he was extremely appreciative as he wants to start a blog about....., you guessed it Ultimate.

It was so nice to talk comfortably without either of us having an agenda. And I knew that I would not be held responsible for his decisions even if he asked me my opinion!

It was kind of tough negotiating this relationship through his late high school and early college years, but we hung in there with sweet results.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Annie Called

Annie called last night. Hadn't spoken to her in at least a week when she hung up on me because I refused to take responsibility for all her problems. Had a pleasant enough talk, although there is little or nothing to talk about, her life is at a standstill until she gets her act together to earn a higher level so that she can get community access fora job, school, etc. She is in a residential program for folks with Acquired Brain Injury and she keeps doing really dangerous stuff like AWOLing to party, etc.

It is hard to stay connected to her. I love her, she is my daughter, but I can't do anything for her or help her, cheer leading on my part only seems to sabotage any progress. She is 19 and needs to figure some of this out for herself. She still doesn't accept that she cannot come home but due to the dangers to others in the home we will not allow it.

We just go around in circles, have been doing it for years. I wish there was a magic pill, therapy, anything that could help my darling. For a number of years Annie was my favorite child to hang out with doing errands, cleaning the house etc. We had some fun times, even with all of her severe mental health issues, but the teen years brought a different and more dangerous Annie, an Annie who was a danger to herself and to the others in the house. She went from rages to focused aggression, to sneaky plots to destroy the family with false allegations, with inviting her friends over to steal our computers, etc. when we weren't home, to threatening and attempting to severely injure her younger sister. She developed a revolving door association with our local psychiatric hospital and eventually it just got too dangerous for all of us to have her at home. So for the past 2 years she has been in this treatment program for folks with ABI, not sure how much good it has done her, but it sure has done the remnant a lot of good.

So here we are two years later, Annie is not significantly healthier, and she doesn't have a plan. Actually that is not true, we helped her devise a plan to get to a lower level of supervised living closer to our city and her friends. But, she has done nothing to achieve the plan. Nonetheless it is all our fault that she is still there and has not moved to a less restrictive setting. No amount of going over the plan, (no AWOL, no aggression, compliance with therapy), has helped her see that she has the responsibility to make the plan happen. Nope, I am the bad person, I am the one who put her into treatment and I am the one who is standing in the way of her getting to live a normal life. I wish I truly had that much power over her life, cause than maybe i could change things!

Oh well, at least she still wants to talk to us occasionally. But my new stance is that I will not mince my words. When she tries to throw the responsibility ball back into my court, I will smash it back into hers with no holds barred. She doesn't like to hear her past behaviors but when they are relevant to the arguments, threats, screaming fits she is having I will go there.

Tough times with Annie, an ongoing theme for about 5 years now.