Thursday, July 26, 2012

great expectations

Prior to the adoption of our sons Shel and I were required to attend a two day seminar for parents wishing to adopt through the foster care system. One of the sessions delivered was on children with fetal alcohol. In the process of filling out an application to adopt it is possible to choose whether or not you will be willing to take children with certain disabilities. FASD is one of the "choices" you can make when you fill out the adoption application as being willing to accept or not accept as an option for being matched with a child.

Let's just say that session was "scary"! From the perspective of the foster care and adoption system there is a need to fully disclose what issues parents will face when adopting children with disabilities. The session is put together with all of the worst of the worst stories and to be honest I am surprised we walked out of the room willing to adopt at all. And yet, here we are, many years later with not one, but TWO children with FASD diagnoses.

I wouldn't trade my sons for ANYTHING. We have developed some strategies for dealing with the issues the boys have and as they get older we have to evaluate and re-evaluate these strategies. We "knew" in an intellectual way what we were getting into with the boys, but knowing intellectually knowing and living with it are two completely different horses. We have to take opportunities as often as we can to get training on dealing with FASD. Somedays I feel like such an expert that I could personally write a handbook on how to deal with children and FASD and other days I feel like I am dealing with some freaky two headed purple monsters from another planet.

For the MOST part I would say we do a pretty decent job of it. We have to check and re-check and change up what we do and how we live to accommodate the boys needs and we need to constantly remind ourselves that our boys have brain damage - they simply CANNOT do what other kids do and it is NOT through any choice of their own.

One thing that I can honestly say I never even considered was the stress on US that raising the boys would create. I thought all about them and what their lives might be like, but not about the impact on myself. What the heck? How did I miss that elephant in the room?

I came across an article by Austin Brown about the stress factors parents of autistic kids face. The article is called Hidden Stress: Parental Burdens Caused by Autism and was published on The Triple Helix Online on July 30, 2011. There are many similarities to raising a child with FASD and a child with autism. I believe (though it has not been confirmed by a diagnosis) that one of our boys actually falls on the autism spectrum.

Here is an excerpt from the article by Austin Brown:

“Another cause of emotional distress for parents is the judgment issued by others on their child, and on them as parents [3]. The lack of definitive, visible signs of autism causes outsiders to view autistic children as “normal”. Thus when an outsider sees an autistic child throwing a tantrum in public they pass judgment on the child. Since children are usually a reflection of the parents, this causes stress for the parents because they are being judged as possibly “bad” parents for not controlling their child or allowing them to throw tantrums in public [3]. The judgment of the parents’ job by others causes stress because not only can the parents not control how their child reacts, they also realize that their child cannot really control many of his or her own actions.”

Shel and I do a lot of work on educating the people around us and in the lives of the boys on the effects of FASD. It is SOOO hard for people to understand some things about my boys.

#1. Having FASD does not affect a child's intelligence. My sons are smart, one wickedly so, but his intelligence doesn't mean he is CHOOSING to behave in a certain way. His intelligence and his disability almost work against one another in the expectations people have for him. They think - he's  a smart kid, he must be "playing" his parents. Don't get me wrong. He's a kid. He's five. I'm sure he does get away with things. By and large, however, he is not trying to be bad, or trying to be argumentative, or trying to be obsessed with things.

#2. Here are some things you should avoid saying to us. We think it is better for you to ask questions because we will explain as best we can, but saying these things is hurtful and shows lack of understanding, sometimes denial (depending on how well you know us) and sometimes downright ignorance!.....

It's just a phase.
He looks normal to me.
If you wouldn't ____________ He wouldn't ____________________
Can't you just _____________ ?
Haven't you tried ___________?
They just need more discipline!
He's pulling the wool over your eyes.
I'm glad you are finally doing something about him.
You are making excuse for his behavior by telling him he is FASD.
Why is he still on the bottle?
Why does he still use a soother?

Talk to us before you judge us please. We are working hard to raise these boys right and they are amazing in spite of the challenges they face. Your judgements add more stress to our lives and we need your support, not your judgement!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Why I should be nominated for mother of the year

My littlest minion has some sensory issues and a wicked strong gag reflex. Yesterday he and his brother jumped on the trampoline while emptying a full container of talcum powder which I imagine was all kinds of fun but of course he breathed it in and it made his throat "sticky". Add to that a day in the sun at the drag races and putting just a LITTLE too much chicken in his mouth at the supper table and folks, he started to gag.
Let me just segue here for one minute and give you some insight into my personal experience with food. In my own personal history I have been someone you could describe as "particular" about food and eating. If  something puts me off while eating I have been historically unable to continue eating. If we are eating at a restaurant and the center of my food is cold and the outside hot (indicative of food being heated in a microwave) I am unable to continue eating. If I witness someone I am at the table with cutting into meat that bleeds - unable to continue eating. If I order fried eggs over hard and the yolks run- unable to continue eating. So it's a given that if someone happens to vomit at the table, I would be unable to continue eating.
Last night I happened to be the person closest to CJ at the dinner table. I saw the gag, knew what was coming and grabbed a napkin and held it up for him. He puked - INTO MY HAND. That's right folks. I said INTO my hand. I managed to get everything and not spill a drop, put it all into the garbage, get him to the bathroom, look after him while he kept barking at the ants, get him stripped and into the tub and out of the tub and dressed.
THEN I WENT BACK TO THE TABLE AND FINISHED MY FOOD. (I did wash my hands)
OH yeah.
I am so amazed at myself and my phenomenal parenting skills. Is there a Nobel prize for that shiz?
Uh oh... as I am writing this I am getting nauseous.... One se

Sunday, July 22, 2012

house full of musicians


Sometimes I think I am raising a 5 going on 50 year old. Max LOVES his electronics and has always loved them. We decided long ago that since we would never curb this enthusiasm, we would train it. It has taken on a life of it's own. Needless to say this kid can figure things out about electronics that some adults cannot. In many ways as I watch him he seems SO much older than his five years.


I took him to the park where I thought he would you know - PLAY?  He was too busy listening to his i-pod to play. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012

house full of superheros



CJ LOVES to play pretend. He is also a very "literal" kind of a kid. He has never liked us to call him anything but his name, unless of course he is playing pretend. Then he won't answer to his name! In play mode we have to call him worker man, motorcycle man or superhero. These are the three persona's he takes on. Here he is as a superhero.

In this last one he is an invisible superhero!

Friday, July 20, 2012

worn

This is my shoe. I LOVE my birkenstocks. I would wear them year round if I could. I have always walked on the outside of my feet. I thought I did it less as I got older but apparently not as the wear on my birk tells me!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

working on my grad project

I have ALWAYS loved school. I am kind of a geek in that way. I love choosing classes, buying books and school supplies, going to class, writing papers, taking tests. I love it all!
I used to say that if I ever came into boat loads of giraffe money that I would be a full time professional student. USED to say. I signed up for a graduate program that was offered locally in the evenings and on the weekends. I went to all the classes. I did all the projects. I loved it.
I chose to write a thesis instead of taking the comprehensive final exam. At the time I thought that writing a thesis would keep more doors open for me if I ever decided to go back to school for a doctorate degree, which at one time was my dream.
Now I think it was one of the biggest mistakes I ever made. My entire class has graduated. I am still here, still not working on anyhing and almost crippled by this BIZARRE anxiety that I have never known or wished to know.
I thought I had put it off for too long without any movement on it that I had basically shot my chances of finishing all to hell. Come to find out my chance is not gone. I nEED to finish. I WANT to finish.  I have straightened things out and I am supposedly back to working on this project so I can graduate. Here I am, all things with the school sorted, my advisor standing by willing and more that ready to help me, and I have this damn eye twitching, heart racing anxiety again, coupled with a complete inability to move forward on anything. What the HELLFIRE is happening to me?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

home

I got this from here
 
 
 
 

Friday, July 13, 2012

I love pinterest


My sister and my friend Melody tried to convince me to join pinterest AGES ago. I was not convinced I wanted to and never did it. A few months ago I bit the bullet and joined up and I am in crafting LOVE.
I have found so many great ideas of things to make and this is just one of them.
It is a photo jar. I made the hearts in the jar by folding paper and it was easy peasy lemon squeezy. I got the jars at the dollar store and ordered the photos through fotosource online for processing and pick up right at the drug store in my town. I think the whole entire project was less than 10 dollars to complete both jars and the BEST thing is that you can interchange photos whenever you want! There is no hassle of taking down a frame and taking it all apart to change the photo. You can simply open the lid and put in a different photo whenever you choose. You can make the paper hearts in any color you can find paper in (which is limitless) and you can match the color of hearts to the color in the photo.


I LOVE IT!!!!!


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Pet peeves

Something I do on occasion here on my ol blogeroo is fill out a meme. I like em, some people loathe them, some people say they aren't "real" blogs, but I fill them out anyway.

One of the things I've come across a number of time is the question "What is your pet peeve?" I can never seem to think of anything and I smile to myself and give myself a little pat on the back for being so imperturbable and then a second goes by and I laugh out loud because "imperturbable" is the LAST word I - or anyone that knows me -  would use to describe myself. I end up thinking that my pet peeve is being asked to write down what my pet peeve is.

Thanks to the local radio station, which I listen to for about 40 minutes per day from Monday to Friday, I have come up with something definitive to write down as a pet peeve. Only I don't want to wait until the next time I come across a meme to fill out that asks me the question, so I am dedicating an entire blog to the topic right now while it is fresh in my mind.

Recently there was a competition in which the total combined amount of all prizes was ten thousand dollars. The first prize was 5 thousand, the second prize three  thousand and the third prize, two.  The commercial said "What would YOU do with ten grand?" Here's the thing. You wouldn't get ten grand if you did win. So why make it sound as though you would?

The ad is long gone, and I haven't heard it for a while but I was reminded of it on the SAME radio station where the DJ's were talking about the lottery this week and asking people what they would do if they won 100 million dollars. The lottery draw was for one prize of 50 million and 50 prizes of 1 million. NO SINGLE WINNER would win 100 million.

Why does this irritate me so much? I have NO idea. I am SOOOO far from being zen. I think I need to start meditating on the way to work instead of listening to the radio.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

hot days

Other people, in other places on hot days do things like swim, play in sprinklers, drink iced tea or lemonade, or sit and swing in the shade.
When it is hot where we live, the boys decide it is a perfect time to paint their toy boxes (translation: paint one another).As the obliging parents we are, the toy boxes get dragged outside and the painting begins.
We start with Maxies because he chose the color green. This WAS meant to be the paint for his bedroom, but I have a feeling once we are done with the toy box there will not be enough paint left for the bedroom renovation. When I say "we" I mean the boys. Momma Shel and I are not invited to this painting party as anything other than observers.


 
 




Max doesn't know how he "accidentally" painted CJ's head. 
Oh, did I not mention we paint naked? It IS hot don't cha know?

Monday, July 9, 2012

A successful 4th birthday

I think by all accounts this day was a success for everyone!
The splash park in town finally opened the day before CJ's birthday and the boys have been waiting with baited breath for the announcement of the opening.
The sod has been laid (it does not look as though it is doing well) and the weather is warm enough for the water to run.


We started out the day at the park and I thought we would be there for an hour or so, but the boys played for over two hours. CJ didn't stop moving the whole time!

I was surprised that there were not more people there. Some kids arrived at about 1pm but they didn't stay very long.

Once we convinced our boys it was time to go we packed up and headed to have CJ pick out a cowboy hat and boots. We asked Max if he wanted and cowboy hat and boots for his birthday and the definitive answer was "NO!" It makes me laugh how even though the boys are so young their personalities shine through.

Hat and boots in hand we left to drive back to the wagon races. Soon after we got onto the highway we had a flat tire and had to call roadside assistance. Of course we had to unload everything out of the back of the van so we could lower the donut and I said to Shel I was sure glad we hadn't just done a month worth of shopping!!! I cannot imagine unpacking all the groceries onto the side of the road.

I took some other photos of the tire being changed and I didn't notice that the kind gentleman who changed the tires was experiencing some uncomfortable sweating in the bum region. I posted the photos on facebook and there was quite a conversation about our tow truck man's "swass"! CJ would have liked him to come home and bring his tow truck with him.



Once everything was loaded back up we headed to the races. We made it in time for the first race which was awesome! 

CJ's only disappointment of the day was that he did not get to ride on the chariots.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

birthday boy

When I was growing up a birthday was a special thing. My parents didn't have a lot of money but a birthday was all about the person whose day it was. We got to choose a cereal for breakfast (normally we didn't have cereal in the house). We got to choose what we wanted for a special supper and mom always made whatever it is that we wanted.
We would all get up in the morning before dad went to work (if he was in town) and we would gather on mom and dad's bed. Everyone would sing "Happy Birthday" and we would get five chocolate bars - one from each other person in the family. Having a birthday was a fun, happy time and I loved my birthday.
Now I am a parent and I have to say I am just as excited for my boys to have birthdays as I was to have one.
My baby boy, my humpback whale, turns FOUR today. I cannot believe he is four already. The time has just flown by. I am SUPER excited for his day today. I hope that my sons will have as great memories about their birthdays as I do.
Happy birthday my boy.
I love you.











Friday, July 6, 2012

Outside my Window - July

Outside my window... the sun is shining brightly and this weekend is supposed to be gorgeous!
I am thankful for... my boys. Tomorrow my baby turns FOUR!
From the kitchen... last night Shel and I had a salad. I think it has been a month since we last had a salad?! We needed it!!!!
I am wearing... my birkenstocks ! I STILL need to paint my toenails  - it was on my list last month!
I am creating...toy boxes for the boys.
I am reading... Cold Fire by Kate Elliott
I am hoping... to have an amazing birthday tomorrow for my humpback whale.

I am hearing... Pink. Blow Me (one last kiss)
Around the house... we are sorting a lot. We have a LOT to go!!
One of my favorite things... birthdays.
Here is a picture I am sharing...  working with the boys on the lid of a toy box.



Thursday, July 5, 2012

creative fail

We are having a devil of a time trying to keep the lawn mowed in the yard. If it isn't raining, we have no gas or oil for the mower engine, or the wind is blowing at ridiculous speeds, or...., or.....
What I am basically saying is that we haven't mowed the lawn in FOR EV ER and so it is ridiculously long. I thought I would be creative and lay in the long grass and take photos of the boys and puppy playing from a different angle.



My plan didn't quite work out as I had intended because as soon as I lay down everyone came to see what I was doing. I took some photos, but they were not the artsy, imaginative shots I had hoped for. This is what I got instead.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

hallelujah

There's a lot to be grateful for. My boy has the right attitude.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

6th Annual Canadian Book Challenge



So I have done it. I have signed up for a book challenge.
I was inspired to join by fellow blogger Teena, who has participated in this challenge every year.
This is a particularly challenging goal for me for two reasons,
number one - I have to admit I am not usually a fan of Canadian literature, and number 2, I am not good at writing reviews. I like reviews, I am just not good at them!
However, I had a goal on goodreads this year to read 64 books and I am already finished that challenge so I needed something else to work on. I figured I should challenge myself and so I have!
In one year I must read and review 13 books written by a Canadian author or about Canadians.
If you are interested in it yourself you can link to the official challenge page by clicking on the image I posted above. Let's see how this goes!!!