Thursday, December 27, 2007

I should probably be taking a nap right now, not playing on the computer. The kids are in quiet time and this is likely to be the only chance I have today to catch up a little on my sleep... 

 I should also probably be emailing the pdoc, letting her know that R is having LOTS of trouble sleeping. The reason I'm not, is because I know the pdoc is likely to only have one idea... meds. Either increase what R is already taking, or (more likely) add another one. Since I don't like either of those ideas I think I'll put off emailing her... 

 I do wish R would start sleeping again though, she only got between 4-5 hours of sleep last night... not nearly enough (for either one of us!), and she hasn't slept well since we lost Grant... 

Poor thing, she's really grieving. 

 But instead of doing any of the things I "should" be doing, I decided to blog instead... 

 I spoke to my brother this morning (thanks Steve!) and since we spent a fair amount of time talking "livestock", and I got off the phone because I needed to shovel a trail to my barn, I decided to post some pictures so he could see what (and who) I was talking about. It's pretty snowy here today, it's been snowing hard since early this morning. 

This is looking to the northwest.

 

 When I was out shoveling, it looked like the sun was trying to come out... but the clouds and snow just aren't ready to give way yet.

 

 Here's my project for this morning... the snowy (drifts up to my knees) trail to the barn. I forgot to take a before picture, but "before" is easy, just imagine lots of snow between the house and the barn. I took this after I'd been shoveling for awhile... (I took this picture looking towards the house because I started shoveling at the barn (where the shovel was!). 

I was making progress!

 

 At first the goats watched me from the relative warmth of the barn.

 

 But then Betty just had to come outside to say hi

 

 Which made Rose think she must be missing something, so she also came out to see me!

 

 The snow was deep in spots...

 

 ...but it wasn't heavy. 

 TaaDaa! I can walk down the path to the barn without slogging through snow drifts!!

 

 And finally, a couple pictures of the birds enjoying the birdfeeders M and R made on Christmas. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy (belated) Christmas! 

 We're still here, it's just been such a busy week that I haven't had time to post. 

Thank you to everyone for the good thoughts, prayers, and sympathy over the loss of R's horse Grant. He was a very special horse, and R and I both miss him terribly. 

R is hanging in there, but it was a sad holiday for her... Grant being gone has shaken her world, and she talks about nothing being the same without him... even Christmas. 

 Two of her big sisters have been here for the past couple of days, and that has helped her so much. K (dd#3) has even been sleeping with her, so R has been able sleep a little easier. (R has been having a lot of trouble sleeping since Grant died.) 

Christmas was very nice though, in a quiet low-key sort of way... 

Dd#1 and her family were out of state on Christmas, so we celebrated with them on the 22st. We also went to church that evening, because I knew that M would never be able to manage the crowds at church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. We went to Grandma and Grandpa's on Christmas Eve, so by Christmas Day we had no plans except to stay home... 

 We woke up yesterday morning to a heavy blanket of clouds, snow and wind. It snowed hard all day, and we had a lovely white Christmas... We played games, ate (way too much!), marveled at the snow, watched White Christmas on TV, played more games, took treats out to the goats, and to the horses next door, ate (even more!), made pine cone "feeders" for the birds, called my brother (and had a very interesting conversation with him!) talked, laughed, got silly, and finally called it a day. 

 Here's a few pictures... Here's M on Christmas morning with his favorite gift:

 

 And R with her favorite gift. (R knitted the hats she and Addy are wearing...)

 

 R rolling her eyes at K while they are playing "Jam Pack Jam". 

JPJ is a great game I found and got the kids for Christmas... We played it off and on all day! (The goal is to fit as much stuff into the little blue van within a short period of time... You start the timer when you start stuffing the car, and if you don't get the hatch closed before your time runs out, all the stuff you've packed come shooting back out of the car. LOL, it's one of those reality based games!)

 

 M and R making pine cone bird feeders, while their sisters keep them company...

 

 It was a great Christmas, I hope everyone had a wonderful, safe holiday... 

 Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

In Memorium

Grant

Beloved horse, devoted friend and teacher

1985-2007


Grant went down with colic late yesterday afternoon. The vet did all he could, working on him last night and again this morning. Unfortunately, Grant quickly became gravely ill. He died just after noon today.

He will be missed terribly...



Don't Cry For The Horses 
By: Susan Humphrey

They were ours as a gift, but never to keep, 
As they close their eyes forever to sleep. 
Their spirits unbound, 
On silver wings they fly. 
A million white horses, Against the blue sky. 
Look up into heaven, 
You'll see them above. The horses we lost, 
The horses we loved. 
Manes and tails flowing, As they gallop through time, 
They were never yours- they were never mine. 
Don't cry for the horses, 
They'll be back some day. 
When our time is gone, They will show us the way. 
Do you hear that soft nicker? Close to your ear? 
Don't cry for the horses, 
Love the ones that are here.


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Inquiring minds want to know...

.... what's going on with the BCAA. 

Ok, my sister wants to know (but she has an inquiring mind...) so I thought I'd post a quick update, just in case anyone else is wondering. 

 M's pediatrician is still researching the BCAA. I should hear back from her today or tomorrow. She thought it would probably be a good thing to try, but wanted to read through the studies herself, and talk to some of her colleagues that specialize in sports medicine. BCAA's are used by body builders, and the concern is that they might have the same kind of side effects you see with anabolic steroids... irritability and even rage reactions, and building muscle mass. Either of those side effects would make using BCAA a very bad idea... 

 Thanks for the suggestions for using a compounding pharmacy to mix and measure the BCAA. I may do that, although I did find that I can order a scale through our pharmacy (at wholesale!) and get it for just under $200. If this turns out to be a long term treatment (which it might...) it would probably make sense to buy the scale to do my own mixing and measuring. 

 So the BCAA treatment for the tardive dyskinesia is on hold for at least a little while more, but there is other news. We saw Dr G yesterday... No, he didn't have horns, or wear a white coat, have a humpback and talk with an accent. He didn't even seem sinister at all! (grin) He is a soft spoken older gentleman, and was very good with Michael. (Although, during the appointment, I did shudder internally each time I thought of the tens of thousands of times he has administered ECT to someone.) He called before the appointment (even giving me his home number to call him back!) so we could talk a little without M, and he spent over an hour talking to M. I stayed in the room during the appointment and was impressed with Dr G's patience with the funny questions M asks ("What's your favorite meat?") and the non-threatening way to asked Michael about his schizophrenia. 

 Dr G said something yesterday that really stuck with me. He said, in talking about side effects to both ECT and medications, "There is no side effect that is worse than the illness itself.". After thinking about it I have to agree... The terrible pain M experiences when he disconnects and the physical danger he is in because of the disconnect, is almost indescribable. Dr G's comment helped boil things down to their most basic for me... nothing, not even TD, is worse than untreated (or inadequately treated) schizophrenia symptoms. Our regular pdoc couldn't wait to talk to Dr G, so she called him right after the appointment and then called me last night. She says it doesn't sound like Dr G thinks M is a good candidate for ECT (which is good because we weren't open to it anyway!), but Dr G did think we could safely add yet another antipsychotic medication, which should give us a much better chance of being able to lower or stop the haldol (which is causing the TD). 

I'll start M today on the new medication, it's one he's taken several times in the past (so we know he can tolerate it), and in a couple of days I'll try again to lower the haldol a step. If it works we'll just keep going, cross tapering the two meds, until... if all goes well.... he's off the haldol completely. When and if that happens we'll have to wait and see if the TD goes away. There is about a 50% chance of it being permanent, but without the haldol at least it shouldn't get any worse. 

 The appointment with the educational consultant went well too. We're working on some ideas to build some structure into the late afternoon time of the day, a time when M is frequently unsettled and agitated, and.... after seeing how M reacted to being in her small office for the appointment (restless, edgy, kept trying to wander the halls of her office building)... she said she'd be happy to come to the house next time! 

 So yesterday was full of good news. I hadn't realized how badly I needed to hear some good news until I got some and it felt like Christmas had come early. It's a measure of how hopeless things have seemed lately that I was happy dancing all over the kitchen at the thought of being able to start M on another medication! Just having some hope again is such a good thing. 

 Today we are heading back into Denver to see White Christmas. It will be another long day, but both the kids and I love the movie and I can't wait to see it on the stage! 

 I'd appreciate it if you could keep my friend L in your prayers today. She and her husband are meeting with social services this afternoon about the possibility of placing their 14 years old son (with autism) in a residential setting. It's a heartbreaking decision to have to make and they could use lots of prayers. Thanks... 

 Oh... one more thing, before I forget. Note to family: I made another photo collage this year... If you would like a copy of it let me know. 

Here's what it looks like:

Friday, December 14, 2007

Random Acts of Kindness and other odds and ends...

After living for so long in the city, having a dozen neighbors within just a couple of minutes of us, it's been different getting used to our nearest neighbor being a good 5-10 minute walk away. 

 I don't mind... 

I like not hearing the neighbor's TV when the windows are open during the summer, or not being able to park in front of my house because someone else is already parked there. But I wondered how much neighborliness there would be with everyone so spread out. As it's turned out, there is lots of neighborliness out here and we had a great example of it the other night. 

We had just finished up dinner when R noticed headlights in the driveway. We almost never get company, so headlights in the driveway is a big deal... (The kids greet the UPS guy like an old friend, I'm lucky they don't invite him in for a dinner!) We looked out to see who was here and it was a pick-up truck with a snowplow on the front. Whoever it was, was plowing our driveway! As they were finishing plowing I dashed downstairs and outside to thank them... But they didn't stop, they plowed back up the driveway and were gone. I waved our thanks as they left, but I'm not sure which neighbor did the plowing... 

It wasn't one of our "next door" neighbors, as I know their pick-ups pretty well. And since everyone out here has a pick-up truck there is no easy way to narrow down who went out of their way to drive over and plow for us. (The roads had already been plowed by the county, so this person drove over... on plowed roads... to clean up our driveway!) Since I can't figure out who it was plowing and thank them for it, I've decided I need to pay it forward. I'm terrible at snow plowing (getting our little plow stuck more often than actually moving any snow!) so I'm watching for opportunities to do something else for someone... 

 I've spend the past couple of days looking into using branched chain amino acids to treat M's tardive dyskinesia. I found a couple of studies showing BCAA to help with TD symptoms, and since lowering M's haldol didn't work (only leading to the train wreck of a day we had on Tuesday) I've decided to look more seriously into treatment with BCAA. I thought it would be easy (but expensive). I'd just figure out the right dose, buy the BCAA (it's actually three amino acids combined), and give it to M three times a day. As it turns out that's a vastly oversimplified picture of what this is going to take. The right dose was fairly easy to find, I'm just going to give the dose used in the studies. (222 mg per kilogram of body weight) Figuring it out M's dose required converting M's weight to kilograms, multiplying by 222 mg, then converting that number into grams and dividing it by 3 (the BCAA are given three times a day). The whole formula was a little bit of a stretch for a math challenged person such as myself, but I figured it out... Then I tracked down (it took two days) the company that used to make the BCAA mixture used in the studies. 

Sigh... they no longer manufacture it, there is some kind of licensing problem. But they gave me the name and number of a company I can buy the individual BCAA powders from. The trouble is, I'll have to mix it myself... 12 grams of isoleucine, 19.2 grams of leucine and 13.4 grams of valine. She said the exact mix of BCAA's is very important...it's what gives the supplement it's effectiveness. That means I'm going to need a pharmacy scale. I haven't figured that part out yet... I wonder if I can rent one?! Before I actually start the BCAA the pediatrician wants to review the studies, and wanted me to talk to the neurologist (which I did yesterday). 

So far no one is saying NOT to try it (the pediatrician is still checking into possible side effects), so I'm going to keep moving trying to get everything in place to start the BCAA as soon as possible. Realistically though, it will probably be after the first of the year before it all comes together. Both kids are doing well right now... I think we're all enjoying the calm after the storm. After unsuccessfully trying to decrease the haldol by a tiny step (.25 mg), which led to a major disconnect, I've increased it again and it's wonderful to have my boy "back". He also seems happy to be back, and has been agreeable, cooperative, and playing so nicely with R. They hung out together all yesterday afternoon without one squabble... which is NOT something that happens often! 

 We've got more of the unending shopping to do today, it's such a blessing that M is doing well enough that I can easily take him to the store. I bought the makings of our Christmas dinner yesterday, so even if nothing else gets done we'll have our dinner. 

Which reminds me... I need to get some tamales. We have a family tradition of a big tamale dinner just before Christmas. I need to get moving and find some good tamales! Maybe I'll do that today too... (I don't make them myself, LOL, but I'm an expert at finding good ones to buy!) 

 More snow is on the way today (at least for us).... stay warm!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

**warning** 

 If you are tired of reading about schizophrenia, psychiatrists and/or ECT you might as well stop reading now. Scroll down  and peek at my Christmas tour instead, or go check out my siblings blogs... here, here, or here. They never talk about stuff like this.

 ****************************************************************** 

 Well, despite all my "screaming" about ECT, and about not taking M to see the pdoc that specializes in ECT.... M has an appointment with the guy next Tuesday. 

No, I'm still not considering ECT. But getting Dr G's opinion seems to be VERY important to M's regular pdoc... and I talked to Dr G, at length, on the phone the other day and he does seem very nice (respectful of my feelings, not pushy or pushing his views, very compassionate) so I said I'd bring M in for a consultation. The deciding factor was finding out (from Dr G) that, in Colorado, M is legally too young for ECT, unless we get a court order first. Which, of course, I'm not going to do... Learning from Dr G about the legalities of this ticked me off a bit... The first time ECT was suggested M was about 12, and I researched it very carefully, including the legal piece, because I'd read online someplace that it was illegal in CO to administer ECT to a child. But when I mentioned this to Dr B (regular pdoc) she kind of glossed over it, so I thought maybe I wasn't really understanding the law correctly (it's not stated clearly, it has to do with the patient's ability, or inability, to give informed consent) . 

 As it turns out I was understanding the law pertaining to this correctly... 

 I wish I would have known this sooner, it would have helped to avoid a lot of sleepless nights. So... Dr G was very nice and seems knowledgeable, here's some of what he said: "Nothing, including ECT, is worse than his illness" (I can agree with that... M had a TERRIBLE day yesterday, leaving no doubt in my mind about the pain and devastation of schizophrenia.) "ECT is like chemo, if it's your only chance to save your life... you do it... even if it does damage at the same time it's saving your life." (Yes, I can probably agree with that too. It's a good thing it's NOT life or death for M.) Dr G quoted a success rate of 30-50% in patients with schizophrenia... much lower than the success rate for those with affective disorders (depression, bi-polar, etc). And not nearly high enough for me to even consider it as a treatment. Dr G has done over 50,000 ECT treatments over the past 40 years (~shudder~), and seems to be considered "the" ECT doc in the area, so I would think his opinion would be the definitive one... putting all the ECT talk to rest, once and for all. 

 Just on the basis of our phone call, and what I told him about M being (mostly) happy, functional, learning, etc. he didn't think ECT was a good option... at least not now. On Tuesday he'll review M's history, evaluate M in person, and then give his recommendations. There is no risk involved (except the one that comes with trying to get M all the way up there... Dr G is more than an hour away!) and insurance will pay for it, so I might as well go. 

 After all the talk, I'm curious to meet Dr G and take a look at the hospital he works at... (LOL, I wonder if they'll let me take pictures?!) I'll also be interested in hearing his recommendations. M's tardive dsykinesia isn't getting any better, and we haven't been able to decrease the med causing it, so we're stuck in a not-so-good place... 

********************************************************************** Changing the subject, does anybody know what do to for a jammed thumb? My thumb got jammed hard enough yesterday that I felt it all the way into my arm. It still works (it bends, but it would rather I not try to pick up things with it)... but it's swollen and sore from my first knuckle to the base of my thumb (at my wrist). I'm thinking if I just ignore it, it will go away... What do you think?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas tour

It's a beautiful snowy day here... It snowed hard for most of the morning, although it seems to have stopped now.

I spoke to Granny on the phone this morning and she asked if we'd gotten the house decorated for Christmas yet... We don't do a lot of decorating, but since neither she nor my brother Steve have ever been here I thought I'd open up the place for a little "Christmas tour". We'll start at the road the runs by in front of the house.... 

 Here's our little "homestead", it looks Christmas-y all dressed in white, doesn't it?


You can see a few of the still-falling snowflakes in this picture....


... and if you look off to your left you'll see the barn (and our nosey animals!).


The mantle is decorated with evergreen branches and lights....


... and my favorite creche is in it's regular spot by the window.


It probably shouldn't count as a Christmas decoration though. I love it so much I leave it out all year. Look at the detail... isn't it beautiful?


The Christmas tree sits in it's corner of the living room. (Oops...I should have moved the pitcher of water/corn syrup/bleach that I've been watering it with.)


I love our decorations... None of them are fancy or "matching" in any way, but each of them have memories connected to them.


I have a few very old ones that were my parents, and grandparents, and I have many that the kids have picked out. (As they are growing up, each year each of the kids gets to pick out one new ornament for the tree. We label it with their name and the year, and when they grow up they take those ornaments with them... for their tree.) I also have many homemade ornaments. Like this one made by dd#1 who will turn 28 next month. She was about 7 here...


Yes, that's a pine cone fish hanging next to it. Those fish were a craft project that M, R and I did one year. They may not be beautiful, but they're unique! Here's DD#3 at about 4.... She'll be graduating college in the spring.


Here is M shortly after he came to us. If you look closely you can see the dark welt on his forehead... He had no balance at all then and spent his first few years crashing head first into things!


M and R... he's about 7, she's about 3.


Our tree topper is very special to us... It was given to us by my youngest brother shortly after Joe and I got married. It's been on our tree every year since then... 

Just below it (occupying a place of honor at the top of the tree) is an ornament my brother Steve made for me in the '70's out of shrinky dink plastic. It's a picture of the VW bug I had then... This ornament also hasn't missed a Christmas in 30 years!


We put up a second tree this year... a tiny one for Joe's fish ornaments. Almost every year we find a fish ornament to give him (because he loves drowning worms fishing so much...). This year we gave him not only a fish ornament, but a little tree to put them on too.


Well... that's it for the tour. You're welcome to leave donations in the jar by the door on your way out.

Stay warm... drive safely!

Monday, December 10, 2007

I took pictures yesterday for our Christmas cards (yes, I'm seriously behind!) and I think they turned out great. The backyard was still snowy and pretty, but it wasn't as bitter cold as it had been on Saturday, so I set up my "tripod" (a six foot step ladder) and went to work... 

 I decided to take pictures of Rhianna and Grant first, because Grant is sometimes afraid of the camera... It's good to start with the hard ones first. I turned the flash and red eye reduction off, so he wouldn't spook (lights coming out of a box on my face scare him... a lot!), and I think we got some pretty good pictures. 

 Grant was a little ornery at first.... trying to walk away and trying to nibble R's gloves. (for some reason Grant thinks rawhide gloves are tasty!)



But then he settled down, although he was still keeping very close track of the camera with his good eye. 

Check out his ears... one turned towards me, and one towards R... trying to figure out what he's supposed to do. Talk about multi-tasking!



Ok... everybody is feeling more comfortable now.


My favorite... this one will be framed and go into R's room. Again, check out the ears... 

Grant's so embarrassed...



Once we were done with the horse pics, we took some pictures of the kids and I (since dh was still in town)...


....and then some family pics. This will be our Christmas card picture:


Friday, December 7, 2007

cloudy day update

The day is almost over. The kids are in bed, the dogs are asleep at my feet...the house is quiet, and the fire is burning down to coals.

 

 It's a balmy 75 degrees in here (thanks to the "blazing inferno" I've kept going in the fireplace all afternoon), but outside it's cold and wet. 

 The clouds outside are hanging low tonight. When I went out to feed the animals I couldn't even see the barn from the house, and when Grant came to me through the fog, he looked like a huge ghostly figure gliding towards me.... scary only until he whinnied, asking for his dinner. 

 Although the real clouds are hanging low tonight, the clouds of indecision, frustration and hopelessness I was feeling earlier are gone. I emailed the pdoc... very nicely saying no to making an appointment with the ECT doc, giving a couple of good and logical reasons why I won't, and thanking her for taking the time to talk to him. 

 The rest of the day was wonderful... I took the kids out for lunch (Mmm... Chinese food!) and let them buy and trade some Gameboy games at the game trading store in town. We got school done, and afterwards I made a nice fire and we sat, toasty warm, watching "It's a Wonderful Life". (The kids only watch it for me... but once a year it doesn't hurt them to keep me company while I watch it again!) I love that movie...

 

I'm sure the pdoc will want to talk about my decision... but that can wait. 

We're putting up the tree this weekend, going to church tomorrow night (and staying afterwards for dinner and line dancing, Yee Haw!), and Sunday afternoon we'll probably spend at the pool. I'll be too busy for schizophrenia this weekend... it will just have to wait.

dark heavy clouds

Yesterday was such an awesome day (I wonder.... have we been having better days than usual lately, or am I just appreciating them more because of the uncertainty of things with M?) Anyway.... it was a great day. I worked out in the barn, and got everything cleaned up and looking good. There is a pretty good possibility of snow coming, so it feels good to get the barn chores caught up... 

 We started a new literature study, this time using the book The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. We've read the book before and the kids love it, so it seemed like a good one to base a study around. We also started the new writing program I got for the kids the other day... The book starts out very basic; what is a sentence, etc. But the kids both liked it and were excited about it. (Maybe I'll learn some things too!) Their other subjects also went well, with neither of them complaining, being oppositional (R's favorite school attitude), or getting into things while I'm busy with the other one. 

Adding to the good day was getting a call back from an old friend, an educational consultant. I'd left a message for her on Monday about getting together to take a look at where the kids are at, the direction I'd like to go, and what curricula (or other programs or materials) might help us to get there. When I didn't get a call back from her right away, I worried that she might be out of town... But she's not, and we'll be getting together next week! I'm excited to get her feedback... 

No... the day was sunny and bright (literally as well as figuratively) until I got an email from the pdoc. I'd given her permission to talk to the ECT doc about M. I'd told her that giving her permission to talk to him didn't mean I was willing to consider ECT as an option, but she thought it would be a good way to gather information about treatment options (including ECT). In her email she describes Dr G (ECT doc) as "extremely nice", and said I should call him about bringing M in... "to evaluate M and try to assess the likelihood that ECT would be helpful. Then, a risk-benefit analysis could be done". She went on to say: "Please let me know what you think after you have talked with him." Notice the assumption that I'll call, make an appointment, and talk to Dr G.... There was no discussion about his qualifications, or what she might have learned from him about this kind of treatment. Just call him and make an appointment... we'll talk later. 

That's when the dark clouds settled over me... and unfortunately they're still lingering, blocking out the sun, their heaviness pressing down on me. I tossed and turned last night, having disturbing dreams about doctors and treatments (and loss of control, losing my children). I've been praying, trying to figure out what to do. I've told God that if ECT is the direction to go, He needs to hit me hard with an unmistakable sign... because I'm really not wanting to go there. 

I think the clouds probably won't lift until I make a decision... So unless a lightening bolt hits me soon (telling me to go ahead with this) I'm going to email the pdoc and tell her no. There is no point in talking to Dr G because M isn't, isn't, ISN'T (yes, I'm screaming), going to have ECT. Maybe then the sun will come out again...

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Yesterday was a good, but busy, day... We met up with some friends some the homeschool group for lunch, then we headed to The Wildlife Experience and explored and played for a couple of hours... 

 The Wildlife Experience is an interactive museum/art gallery not far from us... It's not a big place, but they always seem to be adding to it and the kids (and I) had a great time looking around. Probably the most fun we had was in the kids area where we "created" an avalanche using styrofoam balls. Even the big kids (and me!) got into filling the machine as quickly as possible with the styrofoam "snow" in order to create the biggest avalanche. 

 We came home for quiet time, then left again to do some Christmas shopping. We managed to hit six stores by dinnertime (completely wearing the kids out!) and made a pretty good dent in my shopping list. 

 We made the decision to simplify our gift giving this year... None of us really needs anything, we all have more than enough "stuff". So we are giving lots of homemade gifts this year, and just keeping things a little simpler... M and R are getting a mix of homemade gifts (new robes, maybe slippers) and store bought (I have the Addy doll tucked away for R, and M's heart's desire is the big Heroscape game!) 

 Depending on the weather we'll probably head out this weekend to cut our tree. When our big kids were very young we would head up into the mountains (with a permit, of course!) to cut our Christmas tree. As they grew that got harder though, and we started just buying a tree in town. Last year we renewed our Christmas tree cutting tradition, but went to a Christmas tree farm about 30 minutes away to do the cutting. (Dh just isn't up to the long drive into the mountains, or tramping around looking for trees.) It was nice... there was snow on the ground and it was cold enough to feel like winter... but the car was close and it was easy to get warmed up again. There is nothing that smells nicer than a fresh cut evergreen... 

M has been doing really well the past few days... We're still dealing with the car issues, of course, but other than that he's doing great. I haven't heard from the pdoc, which is ok... It would be really hard to talk about something like ECT when he seems so stable. (But he's only stable because of the med we need to stop because it's causing the tardive dyskinesia.) He does seem to be having a lot of trouble with cognition... I see it when we are doing school, there seem to be big "gaps" that open up in his thinking. And his speech has gotten so bad... When he's tired it's really hard for me to understand what he's saying, I have to ask him to repeat what he's said... over and over sometimes. That's the TD... even if we can stop the med that's probably causing it, it may not get better... but at least it won't get worse. 

 Today should be an easy day... We'll stay home, get school done (I'm excited to start a new writing program I found for the kids!), draw blood for M's CBC, and catch up on the barn chores. Sounds like a good day to me!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

We got school done yesterday for the first time in two weeks, and it felt wonderful to finally be back to "normal"! 

 Both kids "held on" fairly well to what they were working on in math which I was happy to see... R has been working on "building" three digit numbers with base ten blocks, and ordering three digit numbers from least to greatest. It's funny how good she is at it... She can look straight faced at me and insist that 7 -3 = 15, but knows that 437 is four hundreds, three tens and seven ones. I'm going to add money to the exercise now, and have her build the numbers both with base ten blocks and also with ones, dimes, and pennies. 

M is still slogging through long division... He's getting it fairly well, but man those lessons are loooooooong. I'm glad he's finally learning how to divide (I've tried teaching it several times in the past without success) but I really can't wait until we move on to something else! 

 We had a lot of fun with our unit based on Thanksgiving on Thursday (by Mary Pope Osborne), I found a lot of online resources to go with it and the books we used kept the kid's interest the whole time... which isn't always the case, it's easy to "lose" them. So I think I'm going to grab another Magic Tree House book/research guide combination and do it again. 

 Unfortunately we are still doing the schizophrenia two-step over here... Dancing around symptoms and treatment options (and trying not to fall down!). For at least six months I've been telling the pdoc about the issues M has with car drives... he just can't manage drives of more than about 30 minute without getting agitated. And for months the pdoc hasn't seemed concerned... 

Her office is one hour from our home. (That's important for the next part of this story.) 

She asked me to bring the kids up to see her this past weekend, I tried to put her off at first, but then decided I should just do the right thing and go. The drive up there wasn't too bad... M was having a good afternoon, and managed ok in the car. After talking to M, and him mentioning the problems in the car to her, she called me in for a private discussion (I felt like I'd been called into the principal's office) and very seriously told me how concerned she was about these issues and maybe M shouldn't be in the car anymore. (Hmmm... it's kind of a long walk home!) 

I was dumbfounded and a little angry... Why did she ignore these car problems for months, then suddenly become concerned? And how reasonable is it that I can avoid taking M in the car? (rolling my eyes and shaking my head in befuddlement) 

She also wanted him in the hospital (again... yawn) and wants him to see the ECT doc. I quickly said no to both those options, although I did give her permission to talk to Dr G (the only doc in town who does ECT on children). After I left and thought about the reality of ECT, what it is... what it does, I felt a little panicky inside and knew that unless it was a matter of life and death, I could never say yes to it. She's been pushing for it for weeks now though, and I suppose it doesn't hurt to let her talk to him... 

 Today will be another quiet day at home (yippee!) we'll do school, and since the weather is supposed to be beautiful, we'll probably work outside a bit. The goats need their hooves trimmed (R and I call it the "goat rodeo" when I have to trim hooves, LOL, it can get pretty exciting!) and there are still leaves left to be raked up. 

(Or maybe we'll just take our books, find a sunny spot, and read for awhile...)

 **edited to add** Just as I got done posting this, I looked out and caught the last bits of an absolutely beautiful sunrise. The colors had started to fade... but I still thought the stripes across the sky were pretty.

Monday, December 3, 2007

catchin' up

I finally have a quiet minute and wanted to catch up a little and post some pictures that I promised my brother, but never posted. 

It has been a very busy couple of weeks. We had a houseful for Thanksgiving which was wonderful. Two of my three siblings (and their spouses) made it to Colorado and it had been several years since we'd been together... so it was so nice to be together for the holiday (although we all missed my brother Steve who couldn't be there). 

 Thanksgiving day was nice, we all squeezed around the table, there was plenty of food, and M made it almost all the way through the day without a meltdown.

 

 We ended the day with an impromptu (and reluctant) little concert in the kitchen...

 

 ... and by that evening I felt like Quin looked.

 

The REAL fun though was Wednesday evening when we enjoyed a friendly little cut-throat game of Irish Monopoly. 

 When my sibs and I were teenagers and young adults, we used to gather at Mom's house for these crazy games of Monopoly. We'd play for hours, laughing until we cried as we tried to outmaneuver each other, and getting sillier as the evening wore on and we got more and more tired. My reputation within the family is that I take my Monopoly very seriously (LOL) so several years ago my brother who lives in Ireland sent me an Irish Monopoly game. We immediately tossed out the American edition with it's Boardwalk and Park Place and started playing the Irish edition (with Ailesbury and Shrewsbury Roads!). The money is all in pounds and the streets are all Irish streets.... 

We all love to play and during the winter we usually play once a week or so. So the evening before Thanksgiving, M pulled out the game and asked to play... I coerced talked everyone into playing and before long it was like we'd stepped back in time. We were laughing until we cried (at least I was!) and I half expected Mom to come walking in to take her turn... 

 It's crazy I know, but it was the highlight of the holiday for me. 

 While we were setting up the game we all had to try the weird snapping, clapping thing that my brother Steve does... (we aren't very good at it!) He taught it to the kids when he was here in winter of '03, and all of them remember it! (LOL, M can't remember his math but he's got this funny snapping thing down!)

 

 That led to M dancing the "Steve dance"... another skill left from that '03 visit!

 

 Then it was down to the serious business of playing Monopoly!

 

 All in all it was a great holiday... I only wish Steve could have been there too. 

 Our Thanksgiving company was all gone by Saturday, and I had just enough time to get the house picked up and catch my breath before my next houseguest arrived... My oldest daughter had an out of town conference to go to for work that week, so dd#3 and I kept the grandkids for the week. K (dd#3) had the two older kids at their house, while I kept the baby here... He was pretty sad at first, and missing his mama...  

 But he decided he liked me before long and except for the "not-sleeping- not-getting-anything-done part, it was a good week.

 

 So.... that's what I've been doing, and why I haven't been blogging. It's been a fun two weeks, but I'm READY for a nice calm Christmas.