Tuesday, August 30, 2011

small school

We have in Alberta schools called "small school by necessity".

Historically communities who are far from larger centers would have schools that are small. These schools are funded by the government to a greater amount per student than schools in urban centers because the students simply could not travel the great distances to the urban centers for their education.

We live outside a small community which has two elementary schools, one public, one Catholic. Close to where we live is a small school, which I think at one point was a small school by necessity but now it is just a community school which depends on student enrollment to keep running. This school has one classroom and teacher for grades one, two and three and another for grades four, five and six. There is a small amount of students that attend this school. Because we live so close to it we can choose to send our sons to this school or to the school in town.

Max has been attending an early intervention program at the school in town for two years. He is registered to attend this year. This program has been AMAZING for him.  He has developed in leaps and bounds since he began. He has had the best aide for two years.We adore her and the work she does with him and SHE adores him. The bus ride for him to get to this school is over an hour each way.

The community school called this week to say they were running a program this year, there will be four kids, maybe five, in his class if we chose to send him here. The bus ride for him will be about half an hour - TOPS. We know that when he enters grade one we would like him in our community school because of the ratio of students to teachers and because of the way the classes are split. If for some reason he is delayed he would still be with basically the same kids. We went to an open house there last night and checked out the place (we have been there before). I thought after attending the open house I would have come to some certain conclusion one way or another.

It looks, on paper, like the best thing is to put him into the community school now. He would have a year to transition which is something we know he needs. For some reason I CANNOT find "peace" with this decision. Neither can I find peace with the decision to send him into town. It's so ridiculous. I can honestly say I have never had such a tough decision with regards to parenting as this one.

I hope decisions get easier as he gets older or I am hooped!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Accepting change

Max has Static Encephalopathy. Permanent or "unchanging" brain damage. Static Encephalopathy may involve the frontal lobe, which affects judgment and impulse control, and the corpus callosum, the membrane between the left brain and right brain which affects the ability to process information.

Raising a child (or two) with brain damage is a daily, hourly, sometimes minute by minute challenge.
One of the difficulties we face with the boys is when they "transition" from one thing to the next. It is extremely difficult for them to move from one task to the next or from one activity to the next. For this reason we set up a lot of rigid routines which we follow so that they know what to expect and when to expect it.

This fall Max will be taking the school bus for the first time. He has been in an early intervention program for the past two years and I have driven him each day to school in the morning. I am realizing more and more how much I like routines (shocker!) and I am DREADING this transition from driving each day with him. It has been our time together, our habit, and now I will be driving alone and he will be taking the bus. The bus will be new for him and will be hard for him to get used to, but the thought of driving without him brought me to tears yesterday. I will miss mornings with him immensely. I am so very, very sad at the thought of "losing" just this little part of him.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

crazy week

It's the week before school starts for college students and one of the busiest weeks of the year at work as we gear up for students to move in on Sunday.
It is also the week that we have "PD" opportunities here on campus. A bad week for me to be leaving the office but I hate to miss out on the opportunity to participate in some of the sessions. Yesterday I went to a session on "Brain Mapping" and it was EXCELLENT. I got some great ideas on some things to do with the boys and I wish there was an opportunity to actually get our brains mapped, but alas, we cannot at this time because there is no-one doing this kind of thing in Alberta that I know of. It was still a great session. Then I went to a session on the universe. Another amazing session. This morning I went to a session on Meditation.
I really like the idea of meditating. We actually meditated for 15 minutes and it's not the easiest thing in the world to do, but I enjoyed the session. Unfortunately for me, when I left, I found that my stress had actually increased and not decreased. I don't know if this is a natural consequence of regular meditation, if so, I likely won't pursue trying to incorporate it into my daily life, as much as I know I need to!
I recently read a blog post about yoga that talked about the emotional release that occurs during yoga practise. I don't practise yoga myself, and there isn't anywhere locally to join a yoga practise, but the idea of the emotional release actually appealed to me. With all of the events of the past 9 months I am in desperate need of an emotional release, or should I say, MANY emotional releases! I am thinking I will look into a yoga dvd and try it out. I just don't know if I will get the same benefit from trying to do it on my own.
On Monday we got a call that some of the siblings of our youngest adopted son will likely be coming into foster care and would we be interested in taking them into our foster home.
When the adoptions came through for us in November of last year our foster home was put on "hold" which they said was a normal practise when families adopted to allow the family to find a rythym and get used to being a family unit. I see in theory the purpose of this, but in our case it seemed a little silly since the boys have both been with us since their births and we had our routine pretty much down so there was not much of a transition to go through, but we accepted that our home would be on hold for 6 months. In May, at the end of the six months we called to activate our home. We were put off and told the workers were really busy and would get to us. We called again a few times, June and July and were put off again. When the call came Monday to ask if we would be willing to take these siblings we were asked to pick up the paperwork at the office and fill it out and the worker would get in touch with us again to get everything completed. Then on Tuesday came the call. Two other children, not siblings of our son, but two other children needed a home IMMEDIATELY. They needed our home open IMMEDIATELY. I could not get off work so the worker arranged to come in the evening to get the paperwork filled out to open our home again so we could take these kids right away. This has been our experience with the foster system in the past. Nothing is important or urgent until they need you and then everything moves at light speed. So the worker came over, filled out all the paperwork to open our home, and we did what we have RARELY done - which is say we are not willing to take the kids who need the urgent placement. We will wait until such as time as the siblings need a placement OR we will wait for kids who are a bit older. I think the worker was shocked, but now that we have over 6 years under our belts as foster parents we know a little of how things work and we aren't going to allow ourselves to be overwhelmed just because they have an urgent placement. At the end of the week our house will be open again as a foster home and we'll see what happens.
As we were meeting with the foster worker the phone started ringing. We ignored it. When I checked the message later it was the local school (k-6) calling to get Max enrolled. Talk about leaving things to the last minute! ( I think I need to do a completely different post on this topic)
It seems as though the weeks will go by and nothing of consequence happens and then all of a sudden, in one week, absolutely everything happens at once and it's all a little overwhelming.
When I woke up this morning I was certain the week was over because we had done so much, but it is only Thursday today! The worst of the week for me hasn't even happened yet.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Honorable Jack Layton 1950-2011

His honorable Jack Layton passed away this morning. I am saddened by the news that such an amazing leader has left us. My thoughts are with his family at this time. NDP deputy leader Libby Davis said, “He was a great Canadian. He gave his life to this country. His commitment to social justice and equality and a better Canada in the world and at home. I think that’s how people saw him, they saw the courage that he had. He faced cancer and he kept on working, doing his job, because he felt so strongly about what he believed in.”

Here is a link to a letter written by Jack Layton in the event he passed away.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What to do with a five year old?

Oh, we are having a devil of a time trying to decide what we should do with Max this year for school.
He is growing up SO fast. For the past two years he has been a part of an "early intervention" type program run through the elementary school that has done him WONDERS.

His birthday is in September and he will turn 5.

When he started the program at age three he was just out of surgery , having been deaf until that point in his life. He was not speaking any words at all. In the initial speech assessment the speech therapist was setting goals with us and said for us not to set our hopes too high, and that if he managed by the end of the school year to have between three and five words that would be a success through their program.
Well, by the end of the year he was saying over 100 words! He is truly our "Miracle Max".
He went to that program again a second year and improved again in many areas. He can spell his name, he can count (just about) to ten - but he keeps leaving out number "7". He talks and never stops.

BUT.... 1) his speech is very difficult to understand and in MANY cases you must know the context in which he is talking or you simply have no idea what words he is saying.
2)He is not toilet trained - and contrary to popular belief this has very little to do with our parenting (though many try to tell us it is our fault at this point that he is not trained). He has NO idea when his body is "excreting". So we can have him on a schedule and go every hour and he will go when we take him, but if you even ask him if he has pooped he can't tell you if he has or not.
3) IF he goes to school this year in the way that was proposed to us by the teacher in our last meeting he would go in the morning to the same program he has been in twice already which will make it his third year there. Then he would stay and go to kindergarten in the afternoon. That means that NEXT year when he goes to kindergarten full time he will go from every day school to twice a week school. This is my biggest problem with the whole plan. It will be a huge step backwards for him next year to go back to school twice a week. For all intents and purposes, by next year he will have three years under his belt. I just can't see him doing well in that change. AI AI AI AI AI.

ANYWAY.

I think he should be in kindergarten this year. Shel thinks maybe not? She thinks, and I do agree, that being older is not bad for boys to be starting out school.

Man oh man.

I wont even go into my dilemma about putting him on the bus!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Why I love my iphone - reason number one

Last night there was a power outage and we lost power at about 2 am.
Normally this would be a really good time to lose power, one would think, but our house has a pump that runs on and off through the night for our water (if I go to the bathroom in the night the pump runs). I also have a fan in our room which I run through the night while I sleep, and we leave the light on in the hallway for the boys.
Well when the power went out the house went DEAD silent and PITCH black. We live on an acreage out of town so there are no lights from street lights, no lights from neighbours or traffic either.
The silence and the dark instantly woke the boys. Max was ok and knew exactly what had happened but CJ had a little freak out.
We brought them into our room on our bed but the dark still was freaking out CJ.
I was using the flashlight app on my phone to make light in the room but I really wanted the boys to settle down so they could go back to bed.
Netflix - here I come.
We watched an episode of backyardigans and also another show - for the life of me I CANNOT remember what else we watched as I was completely out of it. I was trying to hold the phone in my hand but kept dropping it as I dozed off so Max held it for me. Such a good little helper!
After an hour of television I took them back into their room where I opened the curtains and the light from the moon was bright enough for them to see something. It took a few minutes but they settled and went back to sleep.
YAY IPHONE! Unfortunately the phone didn't charge last night and I am almost completely out of a charge today.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Choosing what to blog about

I have been blogging for a long time.

At one point  in my history of  blogging I maintained two different blogs - one for my family and extended family to read and one for "me". I tried to keep anything related to my sexuality off the blog which was for my family because I didn't want to offend anyone and I saw it as a place for them to come and catch up on life events and not have homosexuality "shoved down their throats". My family - for the most part - is very religious and my homosexuality has been an issue of contention.

It got to be too much of a hassle for me to maintain two blogs, especially when we no longer had a functioning computer at home so now I basically only maintain one blog on a consistent basis.
At one point I know there were two (maybe three?) of my family members who stopped in and read  my blog on occasion but whether they still do I don't know. Which recently has made me wonder why I still come to this blog and edit what I write.

You may ask, what do you edit?

1. I make a concerted effort not to ever post anything about work, although I have done on one or two occasions without posting anything too negative or incriminating. I will continue to avoid posts about work because - well - it's work.

2. I edit things I write about my coming out process. I was trying to protect those people in my life who were around me at the time - but WHY? They did nothing to support me OR to stay in my life and so why was I trying to protect them, or more importantly why do I continue to try and protect them?

While I was in university I was going through the process of discovering and accepting that I was a lesbian. I was a late bloomer! A girl I worked with in student government had recently come out. At a retreat for student leaders I was hanging out with my "straight" friends and they were talking about how no-one wanted to share a room with her on retreats because of her newly claimed sexual "preference".  I wasn't surprised by this, but considered how this information would impact my own coming out. I roomed with the same person at every retreat and although I was fairly certain she would not have a problem to continue to stay with me in the future I worried that her STAYING with me would have implications for her. I decided then I was not coming out while I was still involved in student government. This formed some of the basis for my choices later not to talk about my coming out process.

Many years after this experience in college, I was out, married and as at my sisters house with Shel. My sister had never asked about my coming out process but in a conversation she brought up a name as being the person with whom I shared my first lesbian encounter. It was COMPLETELY wrong! This was a direct result of the fact that  I had never shared my experience and by not sharing  it was left up to others to "fill in the gaps" and come to conclusions as to what had happened. No-one ever asked me, I never offered and the story that was constructed in the absence of all information was completely wrong.

Coming out is scary. I was terrified that I would hurt people but I believed that part of the process automatically meant that I would be hurt by others. I was. People I considered to be lifelong friends wanted nothing to do with me and walked out of my life. I disappointed my family. I EXPECTED that I would be hurt, but did whatever I could to protect others from being hurt. WHY? I can understand why I did what I did back when this whole thing was new to me. It isn't new anymore. I have been out of the closet for 14 years. I have no reason any more to try and protect anyone but myself and my family.

3. Although I do post things about my family, which in it's very nature has content related to homosexuality because we are two women parenting, I try not to be "in your face about gay issues... Having thought about this I really have to question "why" I do this? Who am I protecting? Who is it that I don't want to offend? And what does it mean to be "in your face" about my sexuality?

I have always felt in the back of my mind as though I was an "apologetic" gay person. What do I mean by that? I suppose that many people who know me would find this a bit surprising, because we live our lives very "out". I am out at work and in our community. We are "out" at the elementary school and to the parents of the kids who are in Maxies class. So I guess what it means for me to feel like an apologetic gay is that I feel as though in many ways I have to "protect" my parents and my grandparents and other people in my life who are offended by my sexuality. I try to ever hold hands or show public affection to Shel when we are with my family. I try not to write anything in a letter or post on a blog that would make my family uncomfortable. I HONESTLY do not know why I do this.


Let me give a "for instance"...

I am friends on facebook with some of my cousins and aunts and uncles. In 2008 there was a proposition in California known as Prop 8 that would eliminate the rights of same sex couples to marry.  Some of my relatives, living in California, were in support of Prop 8 passing and posted links on their facebook pages to support Prop 8. You know, I honestly believe that everyone has a right to believe what they will. I understand why my family believe this way, but I disagree with them. I disagree that human rights should be legislated against. I avoided saying anything, posting anything or commenting at all either publicly or on my own blog. Why? Because I didn't want to "rock the boat" with my family. But now I sit here and I wonder why? Why can I accept that they can post their beliefs, but not give myself the same acceptance? Why can I accept that  they are uncomfortable with me and then make it MY place to make them feel more comfortable? You know, at the end of the day as I reflect on this I think that the way I act could lead my family to believe that I am SORRY that I am gay. I'm not.

I'm sorry that my family can't accept me unconditionally. I am sorry that I had to deal with the things I did in my coming out process. However I am NOT sorry that I discovered who I was, that I came out, that I found a loving life partner and was able to MARRY her (YAY CANADA!), or that I am rasing two beautiful children. Right now I am sorry that I have tried to "hide" who I am when it has not been in my own best interest.

As I browse around on the blogosphere I come across all kinds of people who have no qualms about sharing what they believe. Why should I ? If people do not want to come and read what I have to say then by all means they can stay away! I should feel "free" to blog what I want to - especially as it relates to my own life!

And lastly - because I really segued there...

4. I edit my blogs about my children. Certainly there are some things about our lives that are mot for public consumption, but  specifically I edit myself when it comes to writing about the challenges of raising two children with disabilities and brain damage. I got thinking about this when a friend recently went through a phase of not knowing whether to blog or not. She has blogged about her families journey to adoption and she has laid it all bare. She has blogged the good, the bad, the ugly. I admire her for it SO much, so why don't I do the same?

Am I worried that people with think I suck as a parent because of the difficulties we face in raising our boys? Will people judge our boys? I know that I want to have the most positive outlook that I can as we face the challenges we do, and so perhaps I think that if I blog about the challenges it will negate the "positive" things we encounter? Does it make me blind to the challenges? To be honest I don't think it makes me blind to the challenges. I think it makes me feel like I am in an isolated bubble. Just me and my spouse all alone and without any support or recourse or even validation that what we are undertaking is INSANELY difficult.

I have had two interesting interactions that have fed my "fear" about blogging about the trials of parenting. One interaction happened prior to the adoption of our oldest. When he came to us he had incredible medical difficulties and we knew he faced a life of challenges. Someone made the comment to us that we were sure lucky we were just fostering and didn't HAVE TO adopt this child who we knew would have troubles throughout his life. The comment was made that "thank goodness he wasn't our problem!"
Well whose "problem" should he be? I decided at that moment that I would never tell this person if we encountered a challenge because it would only validate her opinion. Thankfully she moved away and I have no interaction with her and so it is a non issue now - but the comment stuck with me.

The second interaction was a comment on facebook when I posted something about Max being argumentative. The comment was " a child can only be as argumentative as a parent allows."
I never commented again on the topic and just moved forward but I WANTED to say - "You know, being argumentative when you are four and you have a severe brain injury has very little to do with parenting style..... etc. etc."  But I didn't, and I am deciding now that I need to change.

I need to change my blogging style. I need to change my reaction (or NON-reaction) to people when I disagree. I don't need to be argumentative, but I need to stand up for what I believe. If it chases some people away and they are uncomfortable with who I am or what I say then I will need to deal with that. I am certain that I will meet or find that people I already know ARE supportive, there will be people out there who like me for who I am and less people in my life that I spend trying to "protect", who really don't support me, or believe in what I am doing, and are judgemental about how I am living my life. Are these the people I WANT around me?

HELL NO

Hopefully moving forward I will feel more freedom in blogging. Let's see where it takes us!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How to spend money

I don't need any help spending money. There is ALWAYS something that needs to be done.
This month it is news on CJ's teeth.
The poor kid has bad teeth, I would say he inherited them from me but he carries none of my genetic material. Unfortunately for him, he seems to have inherited bad teeth anyway.
I have a great dental plan (which I pay great money to) because my own teeth and my spouses are in such rough shape, but I never knew I would need the insurance for CJ - especially because he is so young.
We have had both boys to the kids dentist locally and CJ needs a LOT f work. SO much that he needs to have oral surgery, so they can put him under anesthesia while they work on all of the issues in his mouth. He needs it. We need to do it. So we got the call from the dentist to schedule everything yesterday.
HELLO!
They take our insurance but we have to pay up front and be reimbursed from the insurance company.
This is pretty typical of a lot of dentists here so that news wasn't particularly surprising.... but 3500 dollars! HOLY MOLY!
That's a lot of freaking money.
Do you know how many tattoos I could get with that money?
I do!
I could get a tattoo from THIS person, or one from THIS person, or maybe even from THIS person.
For that amount of money, I could likely get inked from all three. What a dream come true THAT would be!

Oh, being a parent can be a bummer when I want tattoos and my kid needs teeth.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Letter to Cael - 36 months

Dear Cael.
Wow, I cannot believe it!
You are three years old this month. The time has literally flown by. I still remember holding you in my arms the day we picked you up from the hospital. You were SO tiny - less than five pounds. It boggles my mind that you are so tall and growing up in every way.
You are becoming more and more independent which is cool, but so hard for me to let go! You don't want help getting in and out of the van at all and you are doing VERY well with your potty training. I love to do happy dances with you when you use the toilet. You love them as well - you particularly love to tell me "how" to dance, which I find immensely amusing.
You have had a love of all things related to cars for as long as I can remember. You have a matchbox car in your hand at all times. You even go to sleep with one in your hand!

You love to bath more than anyone I know. If you had your druthers you would bath four or more times a day. In fact, on many days you do take at LEAST two baths, sometimes three. You are a water baby through and through.

When Gramma was here we put up the trampoline. You spend HOURS jumping and entertaining yourself on the tramp - but sometimes you sneak Hugo on with you. You are a social butterfly and would prefer to do anything with company if you had your choice.

You bring so much joy to our home and you are such a blessing I cannot imagine my life without you. I love you my humpback whale.

Rest your head, close to my heart, never to part, baby of mine.

Mom

Friday, August 5, 2011

CJ started riding his bike!

I just got a text message from home to let me know that CJ has just got the hang of pedalling his two wheeler and he is away like a shot!
He got a bike for his birthday because he wants to be like Max in everything he does and Max is a mad man on his bike - even though he only figured it out last year. They both still have training wheels, but CJ has been "pushing" his bike behind Max as he rides in the driveway since he got the new bike a month ago on his birthday. Apparently it all came together for him today and I am so happy for him. Way to go my little humpback whale!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Technology....

Hey! Look at me! I am blogging from my PHONE!

Gave up on my work phone

If anyone is wondering about what happened with my phone - here is an update.
The guys in IT here at work wiped the phone and asked me not to download anything and they put a 3 G tracker on it.
I had wiped it previously but downloaded Angry Birds again so they took that off. Unfortunately the phone continued to transfer high rates of data. No-one could figure it out. It was transferring so much I would have exceeded the monthly data transfer limit and I wasn't doing ANYTHING.
The person in charge of phones for staff on campus wanted to give me back a flip phone but I chose personally not to go with that. I doubt I would have been happy going from a smart phone back to a flip phone. I decided that I didn't want any more hassles with phones and work and the pressure of worrying that data usage would go over the monthly allotment and having to pay for the extra personally - ESPECIALLY when I was not in control of what was being used or when or how.
So.... after much deliberation I went out and got a new phone. I will pay for it myself and I will do whatever I want to! I wont stress about what someone says my monthly data usage is. I won't stress about how many text messages I send (even though I had unlimited texting I was always questioned about how many texts I was sending) and I won't worry about personal use of a work phone. STRESS OVER!
Having said that ... I now have to transfer all my contact info and stuff to this new phone. Can you say "pain in the butt?"
Shel is excited because now I can sign up for games she i s playing on her iphone and she can get points! I do what I can to keep my lover happy.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mouse in the house

On the list of things to do while mom was here I had "clean under the kitchen sink" and "clean out the bathroom cupboard". Mom and I did under the kitchen sink and we decided to buy a small piece of laminate to put down for water drips. The plumbing here isn't dripping - at the moment - but the boys like to "help" at the sink and so there is often water spilled that gets under the sink. We looked for laminate pieces but the place we looked only had really large pieces and so we haven't put it in yet. I still have a plan to get a small piece and glue it down.
The other goal was to clean out the bathroom cupboard. I started in on it while mom was in the kitchen. I pulled everything out from the bottom (the floor) and I was wiping all around. As I wiped around the corner, out of my view, a small mouse scurried out.
I screamed. Yes. I screamed. It was more of a shriek/scream and not a sound I am accustomed to coming from my mouth. I actually startled myself by the sound and mom came running.
Oh we laughed.
We needed to catch the thing and release it outside - we live on an acreage and there are many, many fieldmice around and usually the dogs and cats do a good job at keeping them out of the house but this one apparently got past our living traps.
Mice move FAST! Mom got a bucket to catch it in and I was assigned the role of mouse "herder". I am not good at being a mouse herder. I was laughing too hard to do any good and it moved WAY WAY fast. It managed to get away and down a  hole into the basement.
I am still shocked at the fact I screamed. I wouldn't say I was afraid of mice, but when I am cleaning and a moving thing comes from where I expect no moving things I was certainly startled.
I am happy to say we have not seen hide nor hair of the creature since and I removed all toilet paper from the floor so there is nothing enticing to nest in any longer. There has also been no evidence of a mouse in the cupboard since then and the cats did bring a "catch" to us which I am hoping was the offender.