Monday, April 30, 2007

You know it's been too long...

...since you've blogged when your computer asks for your username and password before it will let you into your "write" page... and you have to think for a minute to remember them!

Things are still pretty rocky here, although M is better than he was a few weeks ago. I haven't been blogging because I just haven't had the energy. This was a very long, very hard rough spell and I'm tired... maybe not so much physically, as much as mentally. It's hard to pull my thoughts together into a coherent post, so I just haven't posted.

I've been working outside a lot though... I've got the gardens fertilized (with the compost from last winter), and the compost turned into the soil. It's too early to plant so my tomato and pepper plants will probably be living in the sunroom for a couple more weeks... although I have been thinking about buying those "wall'o-water" things so I could plant them outside now. I also planted a couple of fruit trees for the little "mini-orchard" I'm planning. I'd like to eventually have 5 or 6 fruit trees on the hill just east of the house, so far I've planted two apple trees and I'd like one more apple, one cherry and one peach tree. 

We started "family therapy" with the Intercept program a few weeks ago and it's been a huge disappointment. Intercept is the program I found that works with kids who have both developmental disabilities and mental illness. Their head clinician, a psychologist, is doing the therapy and so far I can see absolutely no practical help coming out of it. Each session is about the same, we spend a few minutes "checking in" ("tell me two good things that happened this week") then a few minutes working on "mindfulness" exercises (basically stress reduction, meditation type exercises) then we play a game for 30 minutes or so. On the way to this last session Michael was feeling so close to opening the car door (on the highway!) that we had to lock the doors. I mentioned to the psychologist that we'd had some "safety issues" in the car on the way into Denver... expecting her to ask M about it. She never did though, and the issue was never addressed. I'm not sure how long we'll keep going... at this point it seems like a waste of time (and gas!).

It's been hard to get back into our school routine lately. I'm hoping this next week we are able to get back into our regular routine. We won't keep it up all summer... we do school during the summer, but usually just 2-3 days a week. I would like to wait another month though before moving into that lighter schedule.

We had some good news last week... The agency that provides developmental disability services through the state (the one with the 5 year long wait list) took another look at our situation and decided to bump us up to the top of the list. M is so severely disabled that the coordinator of the family program decided to pull some strings and get us moved up. So.... beginning next month, we should start receiving some family support. We'll get a small monthly stipend to use for respite, therapy, or other family support types of services. The downside is I still have to find people to provide that support... but at least it will be easier to pay for when I find it!

We had a family get-together here this weekend... It was the first time all of my kids have been home since Christmas! It was so good to have us all together again, and the weather was absolutely perfect for spending time outside. B, my dd#2 wanted to ride Grant... but she doesn't know how to ride... so R led Grant around the pasture for her. I guess you're never too big to enjoy a pony ride!

Here's a rare picture of all of my kids and grandkids together (plus Grandma and Grandpa and some other family and friends). My oldest dd, E, is on the end in the brown shirt holding her new baby. Her son is on the grass next to her and her daughter is on the other end being held by my dh. Dd#2, B, is in the green shirt standing just to the right of E. M and R are in the front, by Grandma and Grandpa, and K, dd#3, is just to the right of them in the pink and white striped shirt.

  Well, I should go... I need to get the barn chores done before M wakes up.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Tough week

Oh... it's been a rough few weeks. M has been really struggling with a lot of symptoms lately. He's having what seems to be an "acute episode" of his schizophrenia and because he's home full time, the rest of us have had to cope with this episode as well.

The hallucinations have been very bad lately, and M has been struggling to understand that they aren't real (something he doesn't usually struggle with). He's been unpredictable and not able to keep himself safe... which means he has to be watched constantly. He's been edgy and unsettled and really difficult to manage lately... so we've been hibernating. He's not always stable enough to take places, and we had really scary episode in the car the other day that I don't want to repeat, so we've been sticking pretty close to home.

Easter started out rough, but ended up being a pretty good day... M doesn't sleep well the night before a holiday, and he was up at midnight (ready for his Easter basket!) then back to sleep until 4:00 (when he was REALLY ready for his Easter basket).  I held him off until 6:30 then let him get R up and start the day. We woke up a snow storm and had to tell the kids that we might not be able to make it to Grandma and Grandpa's for dinner. M had a hard time with the uncertainty of the morning, and it really didn't feel at all like a holiday to me. Our big kids weren't able to get here (because of the snow) and we aren't able to go to church (because of Michael's instability) so for awhile it just seemed like a regular day (except the kids were eating chocolate for breakfast!). Thankfully the snow lightened up around lunchtime and we were able to make it to Grandma's after all. The kids both seemed to have a good time... M enjoyed all the food and R had a good time with her cousins.

Yesterday M had a good day, so I might try to get out today and buy hay.  It's not an emergency, I still have hay left in the barn... but it's a fun 30 minute trip to the next town, and we always stop at Sonic for treats after the feed store. I think I might reorganize the barn this weekend too... It needs a good spring cleaning, and the best time to do that is BEFORE I fill the feed room up with more hay!

The kids started swimming with the Special Olympics swim team last week. R loves it, she's an absolute fish in the water. M got in the water last week but didn't participate much.  I'm not sure I'll get him in the water this week. It's ok if he doesn't participate. R is getting a lot out of it which is good enough for me... although it would be so good for M to swim too.

I guess that's it... kind of a weird, rambling post.

Friday, April 6, 2007

stupid horse tricks

Remember the stupid pet tricks that David Letterman used to have on his show? (At least I think I'm remembering that right... was that David Letterman?)

Anyway... R is teaching Grant a trick that is a perfect fit for the category of stupid pet tricks. She's somehow taught Grant to take one of her winter gloves in his teeth and follow her around, carrying her glove. Now why anyone would need a horse to carry a glove (or anything else) is beyond me... but it's about the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. 

Grant, being Grant (and a horse with a lot of personality), doesn't just carry the glove... No, he takes it carefully in his teeth, follows R around the pasture with it, while at the same time shaking the glove around like crazy. It's really too funny (or maybe this is another one of those redneck things... "You might be redneck if you think it's funny when your daughter teaches her horse stupid tricks!") If I can get a picture of R and Grant and the glove trick I will... it makes me laugh. 

 Edited to add: When R went out to see Grant this morning he remembered his glove carrying trick and started nibbling on her glove before she even took it off! I only got a couple of pictures before my camera battery went dead (and I don't know how to upload video). 

But here you go... a stupid horse trick:


He was shaking it around so hard he dropped it!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

It's been awhile since I posted... 

Things have been chaotic here and by the time the house is quiet in the evening, I just don't have enough energy left to write a post. It's been a good day today though, after a string of bad ones, so it seemed like a good time to write a quick update...

M has been really struggling lately... For some reason his symptoms have increased recently and his hallucinations have been really bad. Usually he understands they aren't real, but he's been disconnected enough lately that he doesn't have good insight... and that makes things more difficult all the way around. He's only getting school done part of the time, he's been too disconnected to do school every day. I've been happy to see that he seems to be holding onto what's he's already learned though, even during this bad spell. Often when his symptoms increase he seems to lose huge chunks of information he previously knew. (He can lose literally months worth of schooling in just a few symptomatic days!)

R is doing well... She's working hard on her cursive writing in school, and LOVES to write in cursive. At this point she is still very carefully forming each letter, and her handwriting is really very nice. We started with Handwriting Without Tears (cursive) to learn the basics and now she knows most of the letters, she just needs more practice with them. I think I'm going to give her a short "copy" piece to do each day in cursive to get practice in without her having to do the boring a-a-a-a-a, ab-ab-ab-ab, drills. She's also doing great in math... She is accepting Saxon Math better this year, and seems more ready, developmentally, to understand some of the concepts. She's also held on to most of what she learned in Saxon Math last year and really likes it when she already understands the lesson for the day.

R continues to be crazy about Grant... She hasn't gotten tired of having him here, in fact she's incredibly devoted to him. She grooms him every day, and his coat.. which was pretty rough when we got him... is now smooth and beautiful, and amazingly soft. She cleans out his pen each day as well (without being reminded) and usually spends at least an hour or two with him, on top of any riding time. She's not riding every day... but rides probably 3-4 times a week. She's been riding bareback because we didn't have a saddle, but last week we were able to barter for the saddle she used when she leased Grant. She's so happy to have that saddle... sometimes she goes out to the barn to just look at it! 

Here are a couple of cute pictures of the kids with Grant. 

No....Grant really didn't bite M, it's just looks like he's going to!

We're still working on our Tree in the Trail unit study... It's going slow with M so unstable, but we're making progress. We've been doing some neat art projects connected with the book, and I'm trying to put together an overnight field trip (if M stays stable enough) to Bent's Fort. We'll be studying the Santa Fe Trail soon in our unit study and it seems a shame to have a Santa Fe Trail landmark like Bent's Fort so close without going to see it... 

Here's a link to the Bent's Fort site:

  Here's a picture of the fort... Picture of fort from the marsh

  I'll let you know if we're able to make the trip or not....

 I'd better go, it's getting late...