Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Thank you everyone for the good thoughts and prayers... 

Our littlest grandson was released from the hospital yesterday afternoon! He did not have a bacterial infection, as they first thought, but rather a very nasty viral infection. He was very sick for a couple of days but luckily, he got better as quickly as he got sick, and he was well enough yesterday to go home! 

The older grandkids (R is 4, and J is 2) and I had a crazy few days together. I love having them here... they are really great kids, and after so many years of parenting kids with special needs, watching our grandkids grow is just amazing (miraculous!). 

M had a very hard time with them here however... He's been very unstable lately (edgy, volatile) and just didn't have the resources to cope with extra people here, sharing dh and I, the sound of little voices, R and J playing with his toys (and his sister!), etc. So it's been a rough few days... I think we're going to stay close to home today and recuperate from the drama of the past few days. 

R (my R) has been asking to ride Grant... hopefully it will be warm enough for her to ride. I'd like to work outside, I didn't get much done at the barn while the little ones were here... So I'm hoping we can get school done and spend the rest of the day outside. 

Good news: It looks like the man we bought our house from (who neglected to disclose it was falling down at the time!) is willing to settle to avoid going to court. We are currently negotiating back and forth on the amount but it looks almost certain we can avoid court. It will be soooooooo good to have this finally settled... We'll counter the seller's latest offer today and hopefully hear back, whether or not he accepts our counter offer, by the end of the week.

Monday, March 26, 2007

prayers needed...

Our youngest grandson is in the PICU at Children's Hospital... He's very sick with some kind of baterial infection (possibly a blood infection, possibly meningitis). I've got the older grandkids with me... 

We'd really appreciate your prayers... 


Monday, March 19, 2007

Spring break

We don't usually follow a regular school calendar. We do school year round, taking days off when we need to, but not taking any long breaks. This past week we did almost no school at all though, and decided to call it spring break... 

The week started with me sick. Not just a little sick, but SICK! As in the sickest I've been in years! I ran a fever for days, my whole body (even my hair) ached, and all I wanted to do was sleep. Since I can't just go to bed when I'm sick I did the next best thing and loaded myself up with ibuprofen and watched videos with the kids (dozing off and on) while dh brought fast food home for dinner. After 3-4 days of video watching and fast food I was starting to feel better, and by Thursday I was feeling almost functional again. I was feeling pretty good by then, and the weather was too nice to resist, so the kids and I headed outside to work in the yard... 

It's too early to garden, but there were still opportunities for "playing in the dirt"... We hauled the composted manure from the manure pile to the big garden (not as nasty a job as it sounds...) where I'll turn it into the soil later. We raked the areas where Stormy (the horse) had spent most of her time during the blizzards, they were a real mess! We seeded the front yard and raked the back yard... cleaning up a whole winter's worth of dead leaves and dog poo. I also raked up the evergreen needles to use as mulch for a stone path I am planning to put around the back of the house. I haven't started working on the path yet, I still need to find a good price on stone, but I can't wait to get started. (I like to lay stone and the path should cut down on the mud in the house considerably!)  Over the weekend we put a new layer of cedar mulch on the front flower beds, and I finally finished the border around the back of the house that I started last year and never got done.

I've been falling into to bed exhausted each night, but it's so nice to see progress on the yard. When we moved in it was nothing but weeds... I haven't much time (or money) to spend on it, but it's looking better. The front yard is grass now with some nice flower beds, and the back yard (while still mostly weeds!) has a nice kitchen garden, a flagstone patio (that I made last year out of salvaged flagstone) and a nice, newly finished border. The stone path is next, and I'd like to plant a few fruit trees later in the spring. 

We finished up our "spring break" with the kids cleaning up the woodpile, and then doing some exploring... We found the coolest vole trails in the big pasture, I'll have to take some pictures of them, I've never seen anything like it. 

The exciting news of the weekend is that the last of the snow has finally melted! The last little patch, on the north side of the house, melted away on Sunday. This is the first time in almost three months that we don't have snow on the ground!

We have also been happy to see the deer returning... During the blizzards they struggled through the deep snow for awhile, but around mid-January they all disappeared. We worried that they might be gone for good, but the herd is back! They look pretty good and we're looking forward to seeing the new fawns in a couple of months. I'll post some cute deer pics when I get them, but for now all I have is a cute goat picture. 

Have a good week!

Friday, March 16, 2007

Happy St. Paddy's Day

I'm proud to be an Irish-American and always carefully read the news that pertains to lovely Ireland...

Two articles lately caught my eye and I wanted to share them here...

Subject:Crowds Panic as Flood Waters Threaten Ireland! 

A dear friend recently sent me with "award winning" photograph capturing the terrible panic and fear felt by the Irish people as rising flood waters threatened their homes and businesses.Please keep these good people in your thoughts, it looks like their lives are quite a struggle...

The big news on the Irish political scene is Sinn Fein Leaders Demand Year-Round Shamrock Shake Availability, keep reading to find out more about this current threat to Ireland's political stability


BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND—The Irish Republican Army announced Monday that it will embark on its most aggressive campaign of violence ever if McDonald's Shamrock Shakes are not made available year-round. Gerry Adams, leader of IRA political wing Sinn Fein, wants the British to grant Northern Ireland year-round access to minty, delicious Shamrock Shakes."The Shamrock Shake is a frosty, minty symbol of all that we hold dear," said Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein, the IRA's political wing. "It is shameful that we as a people cannot enjoy this proud, symbolic beverage any more than one week a year." "Unless the British government loosens its iron grip on this most Irish of shakes," Adams continued, "the streets will once again run red with English blood." 

British Prime Minister Tony Blair refused to give in to the IRA demands. "The extremist threats of these people are unconscionable," Blair said in an impassioned speech before Parliament. "The Shamrock Shake is only available for a limited time." "Having to endure this minty, appalling beverage once a year is bad enough," House of Lords member Edward Shropshire-Fentwick said. "It will be a black day in England indeed when the Irish masses are free to have their barbaric shake whenever and wherever they want it." 

In addition to year-round Shamrock Shake availability, the IRA called for the immediate release of the infamous "Shake Seven." Imprisoned since 1983 for the bombing of a McDonald's Anglican Apple shake-mix factory in Manchester, the Shake Seven maintain their innocence to this day. "If fighting on behalf of what one believes in is a crime, then let us all hang," said Liam O'Fachna, the group's leader, from his cell in Birmingham Jail. "Shamrock Shakes forever." The IRA also demanded that the delicious, Irish-Catholic-themed shakes be made available at all restaurants, not just participating McDonald's. "No single restaurant chain should have control over our delicious, frosty heritage," Adams said. 

Though a connection has not been confirmed, Monday's IRA announcement coincided with an explosion at a British bank in Long Strand, an East Belfast enclave of Protestant orange-shake drinkers. In addition, a truck carrying Alpine Raspberry shake mix, McDonald's next scheduled specialty flavor, was overturned in the Ardoyne neighborhood of Belfast. 

In a videotaped statement from an IRA safehouse somewhere near Belfast, Uncle O'Grimacey, the most radical member of the Grimace family, demanded the immediate loosening of Shamrock Shake restrictions throughout Northern Ireland. "Release the shakes to us at once," O'Grimacey said, "or the lives of your children will be forfeit." McDonald's shake representative Grimace took pains to distance himself from his radical IRA uncle. "All shakes in their time is my watchword, and certain flavors all year," Grimace said. "O'Grimacey is a radical Grimace acting without the approval of the McDonald's Corporation." 

The Shamrock Shake was banned in Northern Ireland until 1920, when Parliament voted to allow its consumption once a year, during the week of St. Patrick's Day. Between 1968 and 1994, more than 3,000 were killed in shake-related incidents of violence, including some 350 deaths during the "Minty March" Riots of 1974. According to Irish legend, the Shamrock Shake first appeared when a statue of the Virgin Mary in front of St. Matthew's Cathedral in Belfast cried a 16-ounce quantity of the green beverage in 1605.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

The mental health care system...

... and other things that don't make sense. 

(warning: this is a long post... mostly at your own risk) 

Well, I guess it's time to write a real post... one that actually says something, rather than just posting a picture or two and calling it good. 

 Honestly though, I'm not sure I have the brain power for putting words together into sentences these days... It's been a challenging interesting, thought-provoking, frustrating, ok... looooong week (or two). We've been very busy (lots of running around!) but I've also been struggling with issues around M's treatment. 

For those of you who've been reading my blog for awhile, this post is just more of the same issues I've been dealing with for years... so accept my apologies, I'll try to write something more interesting later. Those of you who know me well well, know I am not one to trust others with my children, especially my two youngest.... who, because of their disabilities, seem much more vulnerable than my older kids were when they were young. 

But, despite my mistrust of "the system" (specifically the mental health system!) I can't seem to let go of the thought that there must be some program, organization, etc out there that can provide support for us around M's schizophrenia. So... I keep looking. 

I found what I thought was a great program last summer, and they even helped me to find a respite provider (whom I can't afford!) but that program is looking anything but great right now. My contact person at the program called last week to let me know that the steering committee for the program was insisting that she turn all the client's confidential files over to them. When the program was set up, the steering committee (which includes the local human service agency and the local school district) was to receive only "pertinent" information... demographics mostly. Now they want all the files and the coordinator of the program strongly "suggested" that I revoke the releases I signed to the program so she could shred our file before she leaves... she's quitting over this breach of confidentiality. So I revoked the releases, she disposed of our files, and that's one more experience reinforcing that the mental health community is best avoided. 

So then, what is the alternative? A child like M is very difficult to raise without extra support. His behaviors are so challenging, and so unending, that it's almost impossible (note I said almost!) for one set of parents to keep up with his daily needs. Do I keep looking around for programs that aren't TOO bad, ones that MIGHT work... (at least until they lose their funding)? Or do I shift my thinking completely, and let go of the idea that I will find professional supports and services for him (us)? I think I need to shift my thinking... 

What I'm looking for in those programs is really just community. Another perspective on his behaviors, another set of eyes and hands to keep track of him, other people in our lives who ask how we are doing... and wait to hear the answer. (To paraphrase a lovely wall hanging my sister made for me years ago.) I'm back to thinking (for the 100th time!) that it's time for me to work on letting go of the expectation that there is going to be a program, organization, therapist, doctor etc. that will be able to help us with M's illness. Looking for community within the mental health profession seems, to my cynical mind, a little like looking for a piece of chocolate in a pickle jar. 

So instead I'm working on appreciating the community we already have... Our neighbors, who haven't called social services or the sheriff (even when M is on the front porch, screaming as though he's being killed!), our homeschool group who has been endlessly accepting of him and has given him the opportunity to have, and be, a friend. Our friends and extended family who may not always understand what is going on with M, but always bring a refreshing breeze of normalcy to the house when they call or visit. The people in our town who have been very accepting of M... the ladies at the library who rarely get impatient with his endless questions, the kids at McDonalds who take the time to try to figure out what he's saying when he orders his own food, the people in the coffee shop who don't seem to mind when he stops at their table to ask how they are doing. There are many others in M's community that help to support him, and we are all blessed to have them. 

So now I start again with the work of letting go of the thoughts that are holding me back. The thoughts that keep me looking and hoping for a really good "program" rather than recognizing and building upon the community we already have. 

I'll let you know how it goes...

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Guess where we spent yesterday morning?

Yup, at the orthodontist!

R is now happily outfitted with braces, something she's looked forward to for a long time! She was pretty dismayed to find out that it would take years (not days or weeks) to straighten her teeth. But all in all she has been a real trooper about the whole thing... In fact, she did so well at the appointment yesterday that they were able to do two appointments worth of work in one appointment!

Now... how is she (we) going to make it through the next couple of years without gum, caramel, carrot sticks, whole apples, and popcorn?!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Where has the week gone?

This past week has flown by in a blur, it's funny how the days seem to move so quickly sometimes that they all sort of run together... 

I did some respite this week for a friend of mine who is a foster mom. We have had S for a few days to a week, off and on, for several years. Last summer (or was it the summer before last?) she spent a couple of weeks with us, this time she was only here for four days. 

 That was enough though... It's hard on M to have S here, so I had to keep very close track of him, but all in all he did great. He did get upset with her from time to time, but handled himself very well. S left this afternoon and it is very nice to have the house back to normal. 

We didn't get much (any!) school done while S was here, but we did keep busy in other ways. We volunteered in the library on Friday, on Saturday we worked outside getting the barnyard cleaned back up after the last snow (S wasn't quite as enthusiastic about the outside work! :) ) and both R and S spent plenty of time each day out with the animals. They brushed Grant until he was silky smooth, and even braided his tail. (And... in typical horse-y fashion... as soon as they were done he went out and rolled in the dirt!) 

I've been knitting a lot lately... I've been having fun making "Bee stitch" dishcloths (probably my most favorite stitch so far...), and then a friend showed me how to do "Entrelac" knitting, so I've been working in that for the past several days. I found a great pattern to make an entrelac dishcloth and I've been having way too much fun working my way through the pattern. 

R is also still knitting and recently finished a beautiful new collar for Emma. Here's a picture of Emma modeling her collar. (yes, she's smiling... isn't she cute?) The loop on the bottom of the collar is empty in the picture, but that's for her tags.


And this is what entrelac looks like:


Well, this is a short, fairly random post... I'll have to write more later when I'm awake enough to make sense!