Sunday, November 18, 2007

Well... we're just finishing up a very busy week. 

It seemed like every day on last week's calendar page had several things to do written on it. We ran to ortho appointments, book club meetings (two! one R's, one mine), worked at the library, interviewed respite providers (an incredibly frustrating experience... I'm thinking maybe I don't need respite after all!), celebrated my granddaughter's 5th birthday, went to an IMAX movie and even squeezed in lunch with an old friend! 

 I'm seriously tired of running around right now and looking forward to staying close to home for a while. I've got lots of company coming next week (I'm so excited, I LOVE company!!) so I should probably clean my house and start getting things ready for Thursday big feast! 

 Since we aren't likely to get much school done this week I decided to try and just get a couple of math lessons done and skip the rest of our regular school material. Instead of our regular work I'm reading the kids Thanksgiving on Thursday (Mary Pope Osborn) and also reading them the non-fiction companion book that goes with it (Pilgrims: Magic Tree House Research Guide). I found this website that has vocabulary words, comprehension questions and activities for each chapter of Thanksgiving on Thursday, so I'll supplement our reading with those materials. We may also watch (again) the PBS series Colonial House, and do some of the activities I found here that are connected to the series. I think this will be a good, low stress way to do school during Thanksgiving week! 
R has been struggling so much lately with her school work, especially math, that I think an easy week will be good for her. 

It's looking like we've gone as far as we can go (at least right now) with Saxon Math addition and subtraction. She's still doing well with the other concepts, counting money, calendar skills, etc. but she isn't able to memorize the addition and subtraction facts, and they don't make sense to her... she still struggles with basic number sense. (For example, when you subtract the answer is going to be smaller, when you add the answer is going to be bigger.) So I'm going to go back to Touchmath for addition and subtraction, since it's the method she's using anyway to figure the problems out. She's fast and pretty accurate with touchmath so I think I'm going to give up (at least for now) on working on her memorizing all the facts and focus on making sure she has the skills to get the right answer. Memorizing facts (or memorizing the "tricks" Saxon teaches to remember each fact until it is memorized!) is just not working, and she's feeling bad about herself because she can't "get it". I think I'll try to reinforce the skills she does have and hope that the number sense will eventually come... 

 R's decided she wants to be a veterinarian. Although becoming a vet probably isn't part of her future, I do think she would be wonderful in any job working with animals. She has such a gift with them... She pretty regularly rescues (or tries to rescue) injured wildlife. 

Last spring she helped keep warm and eventually re-nest some baby bunnies when I accidentally destroyed their nest. (I was so happy to have the last of the compost pile shoveled up and spread on the garden, who knew mama bunny chose the compost pile for her nest?!) Here is one of the babies right after we found them. (It's a miracle I didn't kill them all shoveling up the compost, they were so tiny, but they all survived my careless digging.) They were very cold and unresponsive when we found them, we fed them homemade pedialyte and kept them warm until we could figure out a way to get them back into a nest.  

 After we remade their nest (using a clay flower pot turned on it's side, straw inside for bedding, and lots of straw piled around outside for warmth), we continued to check on them until they got so big they would either try to bite us or hop away when we visited the nest. Their mama didn't seem to care much that her babies were in a different nest (we put the new "nest" back where the old one had been) and continued to feed and care for them even after we'd handled them... 

 Here R is holding a couple babies in a rag after their fur grew in...

 

 Here's another one of R's wildlife friends (from last year). She kept him long enough to name him, and while taking care of him she not only learned a lot about snakes, but she also overcame her fear of them! (She still misses him and keeps watching, hoping to see him again...)

 

 Here's her latest rescue. This little guy flew into our window yesterday and knocked himself out. R held him, keeping him safe, until he woke up. As soon as he was fully awake and able to fly she let him go.

 

 I think she needs to give up her plans be become a vet and look into working for a wildlife rescue organization!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Trying to figure something out...

.... feel free to offer advice.

M is on a waitlist for the "CES Waiver", which is basically a program that provides support to the most severely disabled children. Many of the supports and services it pays for are not things we need (like adaptive technology, and home modifications), but being on the waitlist also means that as soon as M reaches 18 he is guaranteed at least a minimum of adult supported living services (whereas people not receiving CES just go on another waitlist). Having him in place to receive adult services is important to me and a main reason why I worked to get him qualified for CES.

The organization (DP) that distrubutes state developmental disability funds (they also manage the CES waiver, and regular DD services) called me the other day to let me know that Michael was eligible for a new program... It's kind of a stepping stone from regular DD services (which he now receives) to CES. Through the program we can request a fairly substantial amount of money (I'd receive a check each month) to pay for allowed expenses having to do with M's disability.
It sounded great at first... they'll pay for respite, evaluations and assessments, maybe some educational materials, etc.

The catch is that because it's a new program, it will be audited. So I HAVE to spend the full amount each month (I can't save it to pay for something big, or hold it over from a month when we don't have many expenses to a month when we do), I have to have receipts for everything, I have to have letters from doctors documenting the need for the things I spend the money on, and the money can only be used for M. I understand all the rules, but we haven't even started the program and things are already seeming way too complicated for me.

Respite for example... I've called a couple of respite agencies and they are happy to come out and provide respite for M. One agency will cost a little more than we are given by DP (they charge $26. per hour).... and that's only for M. They will not watch R as well unless I pay another $26. per hour for her. That has to be paid out of pocket because we aren't allowed to use any of the DP money for R ... even though she qualifies for DD services... because she doesn't actually receive services, she's still on (yet another!) the waitlist. So I either take R with me and leave M at home (which doesn't sound much like respite to me!) or I can't afford to use the respite funds.

They will pay for educational materials only with a letter documenting the materials are needed because of M's developmental disability. So... I first have to make an appointment with an educational consultant, have her assess the situation, get her recommendations, then get a letter from her stating those recommendations... only then can I use any of the funds for school stuff.
It's starting to really stress me out. I don't want to find myself in the very strange position of feeling like I have to spend X amount of money quickly, before the end of the month, because of this program. I can guess there would be times when I'd be leaving the kids for an afternoon (oh, and I forgot... the respite has to be done in 4 hour blocks, nothing less) not because I had anywhere to go or anything to do, and when I'd really rather be home doing school or playing outside, just to spend the money. (And then I'd feel guilty for wasting state funds... money someone else could have REALLY used.)

So I'm thinking about turning the money down. Keeping things as they are...
Every mental health professional I know would think I'd lost my mind (LOL, in a clinical sense of course!) The concensus seems to be that I NEED respite to continue to care for M at home. And granted, there are days when I'd give anything for a short break from the constant vigilance, the food obsessions, and the conversations that don't make sense... But it seems like this program, which is designed to help families, might end up being more stressful then having no respite.

sigh.... I don't know what to do. This whole situation is making me crazy.
I'm interviewing a respite provider today, after that I think I'll put this on hold for a day or so... maybe taking a break from it for awhile will help me make a decision.
Anybody have any advice or suggestions?

speaking of deer

I mentioned in my last post that my little sheltie Quin had chased a large mule deer buck away from the barn the other morning... 

 Well... guess who was back this morning? Yeah, that big buck. 

Luckily I had the camera this time (instead of the armful of hay I had last time!) and got these pictures. I started taking pictures when I was still fairly far away from him, figuring that as soon as he noticed me he would take off...



He didn't though.... I just kept walking closer, snapping pics, and he didn't even seem to notice.

 

 When he finally did notice me, he seemed to look down his nose with disdain at me... a lowly human, daring to follow him around. Isn't he beautiful?!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

picture post

Ok.... so there is a lot going on here, lots to write about, but I'm too tired to try to put words together in a coherent way. So I decided it must be time for a picture post. 

 The photos are pretty random, having little or nothing to do with each other... but I like them, it's my blog, and this is ONE place I get to do things my way! :) 

 We came home from town the other day and found the place absolutely over run with deer. There were deer in the big pasture, deer by the garden and deer in the front yard. Most of them were gone by the time I found the camera and hurried back outside. But I "caught" a few of them....

 

 This is Quin the Wonder Dog:

 

 He may weigh only 20 lbs, and have only 3 good legs, but the other day he chased away three mule deer bucks who just happened upon my open barn door... a barn stuffed full of nice rich hay. One of the bucks was very big, with a full rack of antlers. He could have made a terrible mess of my barn had he gotten inside. Luckily Quin was fearless in chasing them away and no harm was done (to Quin, the deer, or the barn!). 

 Quin is a funny dog. He's a herding dog who's afraid of goats, but doesn't hesitate to chase full grown mule deer bucks during rutting season!

 

 Quick update on my refinishing project. The desk is all striped except for a couple of spots on the cubbies inside. I'm just about ready to start sanding (which, unfortunately, might have to wait until after Thanksgiving!)

 

 It's going to look so great when it's done!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

adoption

We went to an "Adoption Celebration" last night... 

I have to admit, we went only to get the free dinner (which turned out to be appetizers only!) and for the free admission into the Museum of Nature and Science. It's the BIG museum in Denver and since moving out to the boonies, we haven't had many chances to get up there.

The evening, unfortunately, turned out to be a bust... 

On top of no dinner, and entertainment that failed to hold the kid's interest (a great band, lots of blues, but not something the kids are going to sit and listen to), M was CONSTANTLY wandering off and R had a severe anxiety attack and we had to leave. During the "dinner" they gave out awards for the counties that have finalized the most adoptions this year...and I couldn't help but notice the focus was only on getting them finalized, NOT on providing any post-adoption support. But hey, this is Colorado and we don't waste spend money on things like that here (dripping with sarcasm)... 

As they handed out awards, they mentioned that November is National Adoption Month and, despite the challenges we've encountered since our first adoption 14 years ago, I can whole-heartedly say that adoption has been a wonderful gift for our family, and if M were not so severely disabled, I would have loved to adopt again.

 So, to celebrate National Adoption month, I'm reposting one of my earlier (July '05) blog entries.

************************************************************* Houseguest... or... do you have room for one more?

I have a little houseguest for awhile. S came to stay with me on Thursday... I'm not sure how long she'll be here. She's 11 and in foster care, and I'm providing emergency respite care for her foster parents. 

~ S can be a challenging kid, but she also breaks my heart. Like so many other older kids, she is in the system waiting for an adoptive home that will probably never come. ~ Often when people find out we've adopted (pretty easy to figure out since R is Black, and the rest of us aren't!) I get the comment that they always wanted to adopt... but couldn't for some reason (too expensive, don't know how to get started, etc). So think of this as my blanket reply to all those people who have said they have thought about adopting...

  ~ If you really want to adopt, there are literally thousands of children waiting in the foster care system for you. If there are age requirements, they are generally very relaxed (I know a couple in their 50's who recently adopted a young child), and single parents can adopt. You can adopt if you have other children... in fact that parenting experience is often seen as a plus. It's not expensive to adopt through the system, often all or part of the adoption expenses are subsidized by the agency you are adopting through, and many of these kids come with health insurance... some even come with monthly stipends to offset the financial costs of raising them. 

~ Once the child is available for adoption, there is virtually no chance of birth parents coming back to reclaim the child. Unless you agree to a "legal risk" adoption, all parental rights are terminated before the child is ever placed in your home. 

~ There are children of all ages available for adoption, although as the child gets older they become harder to place (most people would rather adopt a little one)... so there are more older children then younger ones available.

  ~ So, do you have room for one more?

  ~ Adopting from the system isn't for the faint of heart. It usually means making a "do or die" commitment to a child because you love them, it's the right thing to do, and because you know that you may be their last hope. (I've found that adopting out of the foster care system almost guarantees that you'll be spending lots of time in prayer!) 

~ These kids bring their own baggage with them, of course... My little friend S (sitting next to me on the floor as I type, combing her toy horse's mane) is here because of a 2 1/2 hour rage she had Thursday afternoon. During the rage she screamed herself hoarse and threw her things all around her bedroom. A long rage like that is unusual for S, but her foster parents are worn out... and that long rage was the last straw... so I was asked if she could stay here for awhile. I've known S for four years, so she is comfortable here and her foster parents know we'll take good care of her. She hasn't raged since she's been here... but I know it's a possibility.

  ~ In a funny way though, I understand her anger. S is cognitively delayed (she's 11 going on about 7), and she spent her first 6 years bouncing back and forth from grandma's house to the streets. This is a child who remembers living in seedy hotels and standing around a fire in a trash can trying to stay warm in a snowstorm.. because she and her mother were homeless. Eventually... mom abandoned her, and the system stepped in and placed her in a foster home. Most foster parents are very good people, but some aren't... and she was badly abused, for over a year, in her first foster home. She's safe now, but still waiting for a "forever family"... and I guess I really don't blame her for raging from time to time. I think I'd rage too, if I'd been through all that she's been through.

  ~ Despite the misery she's lived through, she is still mostly just a kid. She's been doing school with us (and is a little confused because our schooltime looks so much different from the public school classes she's used to!). Right now my "classroom" is a wreck of beans, construction paper and glue... but I have a really nice new piece of artwork . (blue construction paper with "I love horses" spelled out with beans) S and R have been playing dress up and Barbies and visited a friend with me yesterday and spent a happy hour with her horses.

  ~ So, if you are one of those people who has thought they might like to adopt someday, I would ask you to seriously consider whether you have room for just one more... and if you decide you do, contact your county social service agency and ask about their adoption program. You and your family could be a miracle for some child like S...
*************************************
 Updated to add: "S" is 13 1/2 now and still not adopted, it is very likely she never will be. Since July of '05 she's stayed with us several more times, being part of our family from a few days to a couple of weeks. Each time she stays I agonize over trying to adopt her ourselves... But each time I come to the same conclusion; that because of the severity of M's disabilities it wouldn't be fair to any of the children (M, R or S) to adopt again.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Still working on adjusting M's meds. 

Pdoc emailed this morning, asking if maybe we should admit him.

This was on the news this morning... 

 Is it any wonder why I keep telling her no?!

Friday, November 2, 2007

...and another one bites the dust.

Do you remember that song? (from the 80's? 90's?) I think Queen did it. It's been running through my head for days. 

 I'm cranky and getting ready to fire another therapist. He's the one with the intensive in-home team our county mental health organization has been sending out. 

 I used to like him. But he really blew it when he was out on Wednesday and I don't think I have the energy to try and fix what's wrong and make it work. He started the visit by talking about certain (inappropriate) behaviors that are "almost inevitable" in boys like M, once they hit adolescence. He said this in front of M, which floored me... talk about giving a kid "permission" to do something inappropriate! Maybe it IS very common behavior, maybe it IS almost inevitable, but you don't say that in front of the child in question! It's like telling a typical teen that it's inevitable that they are going to mess around with drugs... No sense even trying to stop the behavior because it's almost inevitable

Anyway (my anger is still close to boiling over, can you tell?!) that started the appointment on a bad note. Then the therapist went on to say that he'd been thinking about the possible change in M's diagnosis, thinking about what that might mean for M's and our future, and we should probably talk about that. 

(Ummm... no. I've got enough to think about right now.) 

The final nail in the coffin of his involvement with our family was when he, three separate times, corrected M for not responding quickly enough to something I'd told him to do. 

 You know... I don't expect instant obedience from my kids, this therapist was not at my house to address obedience issues, and the therapist... as a guest in my home... had no right to overstep the boundaries in terms of the parent/child relationship. In short it was none of his business. 

 So I'm done with him. 

 I know that none of these things are terrible or insurmountable problems, but this therapist has been coming to our house for a couple of months now with little to no direction to the sessions, he seems to think the situation is hopeless anyway, and I don't want to take a chance with him giving M messages that I don't want him to give. 

 I'm hoping we can keep our case manager when I fire the therapist... I really like her. (At least I think I do, I seem to be a rather poor judge of character lately...) 

 We made it through Halloween pretty well. The morning was rough because both kids were so tired (M was up and down all night, and R was up for the day by 2:30 am), but the afternoon was much better. We went for lunch with some friends from the homeschool group then went to the homeschool group Halloween party. 


We spent a quiet evening eating candy and watching a movie... our only trick or treaters were the grandkids who stopped by to show us their beautiful (granddaughter) and scary (grandson) costumes. 

 Here is R, last week, carving her jack-o-lantern...

 

 M and R ready to go to the party. They were 50's kids, I even had M's hair slicked back. Well... slicked back as much as possible with all his cowlicks!

 

 R at the party wrapping her friend "B" as a mummy. 

 R and B have known each other since they were babies... B's mom came to the first FAS support group meeting we held (back in Jan of '96) and continued to be an active part of the group for the entire 10 years the group met! B has recently begun homeschooling again (after several years in school) and joined our group. R is in heaven! The girls could almost be twins, they like the same things, and have that comfortable familiarity of friends who can't remember a time they didn't know each other... 

 

 We've spent the past couple of days just settling back into a regular routine... it's been very nice. I've got a couple more pictures I want to post but they'll have to wait, quiet time is almost over... (so I'd better run!)