Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas and cooking, and mittens, and jelly, and cookie jars, and...

... it's Christmas Eve.

 All the planning and preparation is finished. The gifts are finished, wrapped and hidden away. The ham is ready to put in the oven for our dinner later today, and I've got a little time to rest and reflect.
It's really been a lovely December...

I was apprehensive heading into the holiday season... we've had so many really rough Decembers lately...  There was the December that M's pdoc turned us into the county, sure we could no longer care for M at home, and I spent the Christmas season waiting for a caseworker to come knocking on my door. (They never did...) There was also the year that dh spent Thanksgiving in the hospital, and all of December recuperating at home. And the December my mom died, of course... that was a terribly hard year. Even last year was tough, between my crazy neighbor, R's horse dying, and M's pdoc pushing me into taking M to the pdoc who does ECT (it wasn't something we were seriously considering, and the pdoc turned out to be a really nice guy, it just took a lot of agonizing to be able to take that step).

In comparison, this December has been absolutely wonderful. The kids and I have done lots of fun, holiday things... starting with Liese's worship dance recital, and finishing up with seeing the holiday lights at The Wildlife Experience. In between we went to the movies, saw High School Musical on Ice, worked on an awesome winter unit study, had S for a couple of short visits, and worked on some fun projects to give as gifts.

I didn't take a lot of pictures of the things we did, but here are a couple I took at HS Musical...
You really haven't lived until you've seen twenty or so people in graduation gowns skating around amid flashing lights, music, and a few fireworks! (LOL)


M, R and S (who was having some attitude issues that day). Isn't this just the funniest picture? S had that look on her face virtually the whole day!


M has been getting increasingly unsettled as THE DAY gets closer (even with extra medication!)... but without the complications and worries we've had the past few years, it's been easier to help him get through these long (but short) days.

I feel so blessed this year... it's been so good just to be able to enjoy the wonder and anticipation of the season, without the extra worries and responsibilities that seem to have filled the past few Christmas seasons.

Here are some of the projects we've been working on...

These are the cookie jars the kids made. They followed a recipe, measuring and adding the ingredients to the jars in the correct order...


...then adding a label on the front with direction for how to make the cookies. (We worked from the book, "Gifts For the Cookie Jar" by Lici Roessner Wilson.)


 Here are some of the mittens I made (I'll post the directions below, or in a separate post if I run out of time)


I made a whole batch of jalapeno jelly for dh (shhh... don't tell!). This was a selfish gift, I'm hoping that if he has his own jelly to eat he'll stop eating all my strawberry jam!


The kid's snowflake ornaments...


One of the mason jar candle lights I made...


(This was a difficult project, I don't know that I'd try it again...)

Well, the kids are up, the house is getting busy, so I'd better go.... have a wonderful, blessed, peaceful Christmas.

(Note to J: I'll try to get that mitten pattern posted this afternoon.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An early Christmas present...

I got the most wonderful Christmas present from my friend L, the other day.

She brought it over to the house on Monday, and her timing was absolutely perfect...
It's a prayer quilt.


Isn't it beautiful?

It was pieced by a sweet 90 year old woman at L's church, then L tied the quilt... and with each tie she said a prayer for our family.

It has a lot of ties.

I can't tell you how much that quilt means to me.

It's been a rough week... M saw the pdoc last Thursday, and she followed up with a phone call a few days later. Neither the appointment nor the phone call went well.

She thinks maybe M has Autism (insert rollling eyes icon here). It doesn't matter that M has been seen by psychologists, developmental pediatricians, and psychiatrists since he was an infant. It doesn't matter that he's had diagnostic evaluations by thebest, everyone from the guy who's listed as the top child pdoc for our area, to the multi-disciplinary child development team at our Children's Hospital, to a whole team (posse? gaggle? herd?) of pdocs at NIMH, and NO ONE thinks he has Autism. (I mean really... what are the odds that one individual is truly going to have FASD, schizophrenia and Autism!)

So now I have to have another assessment done, to prove to her what I already know...

 It's frustrating... I don't believe in "collecting" diagnoses, or using the DSM-IV to label every characteristic an individual has. (Although I believe it can be done...)

So anyway, I was feeling pretty down... angry, frustrated, and alone. The pdoc is our only professional support right now, and I'm not feeling much "support" from her lately.

So right in the middle of all that, L calls... and says she has to give me my Christmas present right away. I really didn't feel like company, but L knew I wouldn't turn her away at the door. (grin) And when I saw the gift, I teared up... it was just the right thing to do, at just the right time.

 Thank you L... I've been so blessed by your friendship.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

R's project... necessity bags

R has always had a big heart. Not just regular big, her heart is BIG.

She has a special place in her heart for horses and other animals, of course, and this caring leads her to want to fill our barn and house with animals that need her. But she also feels very deeply for the homeless that we see when we go to Denver, and she spends an inordinate amount of time worrying about them, and wondering how she can help them.

She used to get frustrated with me because I almost never have any cash to share with the homeless we see, standing with their cardboard signs on city street corners, and I'm not really comfortable giving them cash even if I did have any. It may be judgmental of me, but after working so long in the FASD community (with it's overlaps with addiction related fields) I don't want to chance even unintentionally helping to support someone's addiction...

So several months ago I bought a huge box of granola bars at Sam's and we started handing them out instead of cash, and R felt better. (For awhile!)

We were in Denver a few days ago, and stopped and gave some granola bars to a couple asking for handouts on a street corner. As we drove away, R questioned why we couldn't do more... and then started asking (obsessing) about the woman's missing front teeth. We talked about how, when a person is homeless, it's hard to brush their teeth as often as they should (remember,  R is a VERY young 12 year old)... about how everything is harder and more complicated when you don't have a home.

So then she decided she wanted to do more than just hand out granola bars... One thing kind of led to another, and we ended up deciding to make "necessity" bags to keep in the car and hand out. 

(R really wanted to hand out blankets, but I had to veto that idea... We couldn't afford it, I just couldn't see driving around with a minivan full of blankets... and then trying to hand one or two of them out the window, quickly, before the light changed! It just didn't seem workable...) So yesterday the kids and I made up a list of little things that might be handy if you're homeless, went shopping for everything, and made up a bunch of bags.

I'll keep a supply of them in my car, and so will dh (and we'll probably hand a few out to friends who want to help), and then, when we are in Denver and pull up next to a homeless person standing on a corner holding a cardboard sign, we'll have something to give them...

First we went to the store and bought a bunch of socks, gloves, and other things for the bags. Next we stopped by our favorite dentist's office, and he was happy to donate a bunch of toothbrushes to the cause (R was still worrying about that woman's missing teeth!)  Then we came home and got to work.

First the kids got everything organized... R cut the tags off the gloves, M opened up the big multi-package of soaps.


We (they) decided to include a pair of warm socks, a pair of gloves, a razor, a bar of soap, granola bars, a toothbrush, a pack of gum, and a candy cane.


Once everything was organized, we filled the bags...


When we were done filling to bags, the kids signed a Christmas card for each bag and tucked them inside.


They can't wait for our next trip to Denver!


We have to be up there on Thursday... and I might just do a little extra driving, passing by some corners that are almost always "occupied", so we can pass out some bags.

The plan is to keep a supply of bags in the car year round. We'll watch for sales and shop the dollar store, and when we run out of these bags we'll make up a new batch (with the items inside reflective of the season!).

It was a good afternoon's work. R kept talking about how good she felt being able to help someone... and it is a great feeling to feel like you can do even something small, for people who have so little.

Friday, December 5, 2008

a brief editorial comment

Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.

                                      ~Carl Gustav Jung
                                                                        
(Swiss psychiatrist and founder of analytical psychology)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Oh the weather outside is frightful...


Nope, it's not a blizzard... but it's enough to keep us home today.

I'm trying not to be too gleeful... (M was looking forward to seeing the pdoc)... but it's hard.

I do feel like I should explain about the pdoc..
.
She isn't a bad person or a bad physician... She's actually one of the best in the area, she's known for her kindness, genuine caring for her patients, respect for their parents, and her incredible expertise with meds. She is literally one of the top child psychiatrists around... (I've heard her described, by another pdoc, as being the absolute best in town).

So... what's the problem?

She is incredibly overworked right now, and her current professional responsibilities limit, to a large degree, her involvement with M. This is a relatively new situation (since summer of 2006), which began after she finished the research project she'd been working on for years and moved back into clinical work. She sees M (and R) privately, they are part of just a handful of patients she's kept through the moves from clinical work, to research, then back to clinical work. The position she has right now (medical director for a small inpatient/day treatment unit for kids who are diagnosed with both developmental disabilities and mental illness) involves stabilizing and caring for an endless stream of the toughest, most complicated kids... every kid she sees is in crisis. She keeps them just long enough to get them stable enough to be discharged to the care of other, less experienced, pdocs, before starting with the next child/family in crisis. She treats the kids other pdocs don't know what to do with.

I admire what she's doing, and how much she's trying to make a difference, but it doesn't leave much time for M. I know she cares about him, but the situation is what it is... nothing that's likely to change anytime soon. (I keep hoping she'll decide to move back into doing research, she was much more available then.)
Finding a new pdoc would be extremely difficult, and we'd almost certainly end up accessing services through the county, which means a much lower level of expertise, a ton of bureaucracy to deal with, and a definite lack of continuity of care...  I have thought seriously about trying to find a new pdoc but when I weigh the pros and cons it seems in M's best interests, for a variety of reasons, not to take that step until I have to (when he's an adult).

I can't figure out what the pdoc was thinking in terms of my friend's child. The only thing that makes sense is that she saw the child deteriorating, and knew she was leaving out of town for a couple of weeks and was hesitant to leave knowing the child might tank while she was gone. I don't think she had any idea (too busy to check?!) that the only open beds were in a substandard facility. For this pdoc, nothing is more important than safety, and she truly believes in traditional mental health care... She'd think nothing of keeping a child in the hospital over a holiday (or inpatient for months!), if she had any concerns about the family being able to keep the child safe at home.

Honestly, we've put her in a position that compromises that concern about safety many times since she took over M's care. I've had to convince her that we could keep him safe at home, during crises that... with any other kid... would involve a lengthy inpatient stay. She's been flexible with us, I believe, because she trusts me to always be honest with her and to do whatever it takes to maintain safety at home... even when that means staying with M day and night, or modifying our home in such a way that minimizes safety concerns. (That's why I couldn't lie to her about the car broken down, other appointments, etc. I've promised her that I'll always be straight with her...)

Yes, "Mama" I have talked to her (many times) about how it feels like she's "checked out" on us, and how that impacts my ability to trust her. Each time I bring it up she seems to feel terrible, apologizes to me, tells me how committed she is to M's care, and makes a "plan" of some kind to stay in closer touch. Unfortunately, the "plans" only last a day or two, sometimes a week, before a new crisis on the unit takes her away again.

 Jo, I really like your idea about suggesting the pdoc and I talk on the phone during M's appointment time today. I'm going to email the pdoc (cancelling the appointment! :) and will ask if she'd like to call instead.
So... the situation isn't quite as black and white as I've probably made it sound. This blog is a place for me to express my frustration, to vent... and I'm sure I don't always present a balanced, objective view of things.

Thanks everyone for the blizzard prayers... it's a winter wonderland at my house today, and we'll be spending the afternoon sledding instead of driving into the city for a pdoc appointment.

WOOHOO!!!!!!!
I've increased M's haldol to the point that he's doing pretty well now (for him). 

So, until about a week ago, I would have thought that worrying about a 72 hour hold was an unreasonable fear... except that very thing just happened to a good friend of mine. 

Her daughter had been struggling for a long time with an increase in psychiatric symptoms. M's pdoc has been this girl's pdoc for many years, and said she wasn't sure what to do next (the same thing she tells me about M) and suggested an inpatient stay. The girl and her mom refused. Two days later, when the girl still wasn't any better the pdoc said the mom needed to take the girl to the ER or she'd order a 72 hour hold. (the girl was NOT a danger to herself or others.) They agreed to go to the ER but then the pdoc wanted the 72 hour hold anyway. The nurse said the girl didn't meet criteria for a 72 hour hold, and initially refused to do it, but then told my friend that she "didn't want to lose her job" so the hold was placed on the child anyway. The girl was transported to a substandard psych facility 20  miles away (all the decent facilities were full), and during the 6 days she was there she saw a therapist once, a pdoc once, and spent the rest of the time listening to the other teens on the unit talk about sex and drugs. (Yes, she spent more than 72 hours there because each time my friend tried to push them to discharge her daughter, they said she needed a "few more days" and threatened to put a 30 day hold on her if the mother tried to take her out too soon.) She was even there on Thanksgiving... her family was allowed only a one hour visit for the holiday... an hour spent in a dingy cafeteria with the other patients and their visitors. No food, or other holiday treats were allowed in or served.

I can't believe they still treat people (children!) with mental illness in much the same way they treat criminals.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I've been praying for a blizzard...

... even just a localized one.

Say at about 39.5 degrees latitude and -104.7 longitude (yes, that's roughly where you'll find Woodstone Prairie).

I was thinking that 2' of snow should be just about right. But then I felt badly praying for something that would inconvenience so many people, so I starting wondering about a localized storm. God could just stack up the clouds in such a way to dump a couple of feet of snow on Woodstone Prairie and leave the rest of the state alone.

But that might attract media attention, I can imagine how it would look-
"Freak Storm Dumps 2' of Snow on Acreage East of Town, Rest of Colorado Dry! Film at 10!"

No, that wouldn't be good...

It's probably not fair for me to pray for something that could cause hardship to my neighbors anyway... so I've stopped praying for a blizzard (although I AM watching the weather forecast carefully, just in case).


The weather map looks promising, like there's chance we'll get snow... We'll need, at a minimum, 6"-10" on the ground tomorrow to be snowed in.

 Being snow in is, of course, the goal...

...because M has an appointment with the pdoc tomorrow, and I REALLY don't want to go.

His pdoc is a lovely, caring, intelligent person. I'd love to have her for a friend, aunt, neighbor, etc... but trying to work with her has been extremely difficult and stressful lately, and I'm not looking forward to seeing her tomorrow.

She's been after me to bring M in for an appointment, so a few weeks ago I forced myself to call and schedule one. At the time she was out of town, and December seemed far away... But she's back in town now, and the appointment is tomorrow, and I'd be thrilled beyond words to have a good excuse for canceling.

I know she needs to see M, to do her job as his doctor... but she's been "checked out" for so long, leaving us on our own through some really difficult times, that my trust in her is as low as it's ever been.
And she's still talking about an inpatient stay or at least day treatment... and I still disagree on the need for that level of care, and have very little confidence that taking that step would be helpful for M.

I worry that seeing her makes it more likely that she'll decide to push the issue... insist on a higher level of care... possibly even order a 72 hour hold.

It's just about three weeks to Christmas... I don't want to take a chance with M being inpatient during the holidays.

So I'll keep watching the sky. It's heavy with clouds and it's very cold outside... but still no flakes of snow. 

It looks close though...

Maybe I should take my car and get it washed. It always rains right after I wash the car, maybe it will trigger some snow instead.

Monday, December 1, 2008

first snow

We finally had our first real snow this past weekend. We've had a couple of the fine, light, barely-stick-to-the-ground kinds of snows... but those hardly even count as snow. :)

This weekend's storm was a good one... a snow blowing sideways, drifts (almost) up to your knees, wind howling down the chimney, barn door frozen shut, kind of snow.

It was beautiful.

 During the worst of it, we hibernated inside... only venturing out when we had to... like when Blaze and the donkeys needed food. I gave them extra hay during the storm to help them keep warm, which meant an extra couple of trips to the barn. Blaze was antsy and picking on the donkeys so I made sure he got some exercise by scattering some hay out in the pasture... making him wander around looking for it. That's a trick I learned when we had Stormy, that miserable quarter horse mare we had the year of all the blizzards. Horses seem to need to move around to be happy, but when the weather is bad they'd rather be close to the barn (and miserable) unless you make them move... so I did. (make him move, that is)
When I wasn't slipping and sliding my way to the barn, the kids and I played games (R's decided she loves Yahtzee!) and did some art projects out of a book I got them a few weeks ago just for snowed in kinds of days.

We made egg based tempera paint (and talked about the Middle Ages, when that kind of paint was used because oil paint hadn't been invented yet!) and painted for awhile, then we learned how glass was made, and colored some small "stained glass windows" to hang up in the sun.


M also picked up his knitting again... this time using needles instead of the loom. It's amazing how much better his stitches are this year, compared to last...


Once the worst of the wind was over, the kids grabbed their sleds and headed out to sled down into the gully and the dry lake bed that are on our land.  They sledded for a long time yesterday, but no pictures until today... (yesterday was just too cold and windy to take pictures!)

Here they are this morning, sledding down into the dry lake bed...

 

They sledded for a long time and when they finally came back to the house they were wet, cold, tired and happy...

While they sledded, I shoveled out the trail to the barn.

Here's looking back towards the house at what I'd already shoveled. (Yeah, it doesn't look like much... does it?)


Here's what I had left...


I think one of the things I love most about living out here is that our lives are so connected to nature... to the weather especially. For the most part nature dictates what we are doing each day. If it's warm and dry we garden, or take care of the other outside plants and trees, or work with the animals. If it's very cold and snowy, we stay inside as much as possible, but otherwise on snowy days we are shoveling and/or plowing the snow, breaking ice from the water troughs, and spending extra time with the animals, making sure they are warm and happy.

Out here nature can trump whatever we have planned... if it snows enough, it doesn't matter what's on the calendar, we stay home. If there are vegetables still left in the garden and an early freeze is forecast, it doesn't matter what we had planned... we're working in the garden until everything is gathered in. If an animal gets sick, the calendar is cleared for as long as it takes for that animal to recover.

We experience the seasons through the wildlife that shares our land... In the early summer the does have their fawns, and we watch and listen for the first glimpse of the fragile babies, cautiously following mama through the pasture, wobbling on their skinny stilt legs. In the fall, the bucks go into rut and get stupid, even challenging cars as they drive down the road, seemingly oblivious to danger. In the winter the deer seem to move constantly, never resting, continuously wandering through the pastures and fields in search of enough food to get them through 'til spring. During the winter the weak, sick, and injured deer feed the coyotes, and we hear their chilling yiping and howling as they celebrate a full meal. And in the spring the "little" babies are born... and it's not unusual to find hidden nests of baby bunnies (or mice!) in the barn, in the compost bin, or anywhere else there is shelter for them.

In the city nature didn't seem as "big" as it is here. That probably sounds strange, but there was no wildlife there to speak of, and the buildings all around us moderated the weather somewhat... the winds were blocked, the streets were plowed, the grocery store was only a few block away.  Out here, nature just seems bigger...

I like living around the cycles of nature... I only wish we could have moved out here sooner.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Mutt and Jeff

...aka Tucker and Blaze.


I'm curious...
.
Do you suppose Tucker ever wonders if standing by Blaze makes him look short and round? :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

a post for Lynn

So... how could I not post after getting such a nice comment from Lynn.

I guess I'll have to think of something to write about...

Things are "kind of" ok here... and kind of not.

M's had a difficult couple of months, I've had to slowly increase the haldol again... trying to get him back to a place of stability. Each time I increase it he stabilizes a bit more, but I feel worse... because I know the TD is going to get worse. The latest increase was just a few days ago, and it might be the one that really gets him to the point of being able to function without disconnecting as frequently as he has been doing. It's been almost a week since the last "disconnect" so I'm cautiously optimistic. My goal is to have him as stable as possible by Thanksgiving...

The pdoc's been rattling my chain again. After pretty much ignoring M for months, she breezed back into our lives about a week ago. After she made several emailed promises to call (to talk about the recommendations from the second opinion consults we got, two and six months ago, and have never discussed!)... calls that never happened... she emailed saying she was leaving, would be out of the country for a while, and could we talk in December sometime? I very angrily told her "never mind", that I didn't want to talk,  and there must not be anything of value in those recommendations or we would have already talked about them. I said I was stupid (yes, that's a quote) to think that she'd make time for a conversation, or that talking would change anything. She replied with "maybe M should be in the hospital". 

Sigh...

So I've spent the past 5-6 days keeping up with a slow-motion email conversation with her about how ludicrous that suggestion was. (No, I didn't use the word ludicrous... but I was thinking it, along with a lot of other words that aren't polite enough to make their way onto this blog.)

M is still home, for now... but day treatment is once again looming over us.

In my spare time, when I'm not agonizing over every word in whatever email to the pdoc I'm currently working on, I'm working around the house (and barn, and pasture, and yard, etc.)

It's like the less control I feel I have over the circumstances surrounding M's illness... the more restless I am. I wrote about it once in my sz journal...

"I may not be able to control the chaos that takes over in M's brain when he disconnects, but I can control some things, so I do.
I create order in ways that are ridiculously unimportant, because I can't create order in a way that is vitally important... in the chaos of my son's mind."

So, since I last posted I've hauled approximately 10 sq. yards of wood mulch (there is not an inch of our land that needed mulch, that doesn't have it now!), hundreds of pounds of large river rock (you know... to keep the mulch from blowing away!), cleaned the barn and the house, and created a "computer station" for the kids in the guest room closet.

A computer in a closet probably sounds weird, but I think it turned out nicely. (I still need to fill some small holes in the walls and paint the closet... M couldn't wait that long to get the computer moved.)
Here's the guest room... closet door closed.


And with the door open, showing the computer station...


The keyboard is in the drawer of the cabinet, and the software is stored on the shelves below.


The computer had been taking up precious space in the classroom, so now the classroom is a little less crowded...

I also found this wonderful old armless oak rocker at a second hand store. It was dirty and the seat was gone (bare wood covered by an ugly chair pad)...


...so I cleaned it up and recovered the seat.


I think it looks pretty good now.

 So, Lynn, that's what we're up to... nothing too exciting... and the same old, same old with M...but thanks for asking. :)

And thanks to  Kathy for the lovely flowers...



...they're beautiful, what a nice treat when all my outside flowers are frozen!

 And more thanks to Jove for linking to my blog in her "Messy Tuesday" post. (I'll have to post a "messy Tuesday" post soon... you'll see... my messiness can rival anyone's!)

I'm sorry I haven't gotten around to visit people's blogs lately... I think I'm deep in hibernation mode right now. Hopefully things will feel more settled soon and I'll feel more like posting.

Friday, November 7, 2008

This week, history was made in the United States.

Barack Obama was elected as our next president.

You've probably already seen his victory speech, but if you haven't it's here (part 1) and here (part 2). I've already watched it twice... it is an amazing speech. 

The kids and I had been anxiously watching the election... cautiously optimistic that "our guy" would win. 

This was so much more than just another presidential election to us. It's a milestone for our country, one that has deep personal meaning for our family... especially Rhianna. It's also the first election that either of the kids had much understanding of what was going on...

So I wanted to make sure the kids remembered the day he was elected. Both of them struggle with memory problems though, and R especially has huge "holes" in her memory... Things can be there one day, and literally gone the next. So I knew I needed to do something BIG to help them to remember...
What did I come up with?

 All-you-can-eat chocolate chip pancakes with whipped cream, and hot chocolate for breakfast. (Keep in mind they have been been on a fairly restricted diet for years... For the most part we eat low carb, low fat protein, minimal dairy, and lots of fruit and veggies. Chocolate chip pancakes have not been on the menu for about 8 years!) The kids loaded them up with syrup, powdered sugar, and whipped cream (sometimes all on the same pancake!)... they were in carb heaven.


Because of the election day unit study we did last month, and the fact that one of their aunts and one of their big sisters were volunteering with the Obama campaign, the kids  followed this election very closely.

R walked around most of Weds. saying "I just can't believe he won"...


LOL, she wasn't happy or anything...

We've been super busy this week. We went to a birthday party on Weds. at Amazing Jakes, and the kids had a blast. Yesterday we spent part of the day at E's (dd#1) house babysitting. (It was extremely easy babysitting... the baby napped while I knitted and M and R played Wii.) Today we work at the library in the morning, and R has another birthday party this afternoon. This one's a sleepover... I hope she has fun and doesn't get too anxious. (This makes 8 birthday parties and one holiday since Oct. 1st... I'm ready to be done with all this celebrating!)

I'll finish up with a couple of pictures from the last birthday party. Here's R and a friend getting ready to do the race cars at Amazing Jakes.


After driving around the track for awhile (and panicking several times, stopping her car in the middle of the track and throwing her arms up over her head as the other cars came zooming up behind her), R decided she's NEVER driving.

M, unfortunately, decided he's really good at it and can't wait to drive....


... it might be time to start hiding the car keys! :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Today was a beautiful day.... warm and sunny with just a few wisps of clouds in the sky. It didn't feel at all like November...

I worked outside all day, raking, cleaning the barn, spreading mulch, and helping a neighbor with her horse. I love being outside, and although I miss the snow we should be having this time of year, it's wonderful to still be able to be outside all day so late in the year...

 It's been a pretty wild couple of days... It started when Tilly got sick on Thursday. She went down with what looked like colic Thursday right after lunch. She wouldn't eat or drink, and it was hard to keep her on her feet. After watching her for a while and checking her heart rate, temp., etc. I decided I'd better get a vet out right away. Unfortunately, that was virtually impossible to do!

Evidently last Thursday was "out of town" day for half the vets in the county, and the other half didn't want to come out for a donkey. Finally, after calling around for hours trying to find a vet who would come out and look at her, I ended up calling the big, fancy, large animal hospital (about 20 miles away!) and spending twice as much as I should have for one of their vets to come out. It was especially hard to be overcharged so much because this vet was VERY young, and had never even treated a donkey before. 

The vet was a little afraid of Tilly (she said she'd heard "horror stories" about donkeys" but did tube her (taking two tries to get the tube down her throat!) and flushed out her belly and gave her fluids and electrolytes. Then she cleaned out the other end too, and thought she felt a twist in her intestines. She gave her a shot of anti-inflammatory medication (taking 6 tries to find a vein, it's a good thing Tilly was the sick one... neither Tucker nor Blaze would have put up with all her fumbling around!), and then we talked. If the intestine really was twisted, Tilly would sicken quickly and have to be put down. If it was just a gas colic, she would probably get better. The vet said she was pretty sure the intestine was twisted though... and it was a sad night.

R was falling apart, remembering last winter when Grant died. Seeing Tilly down brought it all back to her... M was a mess too, panicking several times when Tilly would lay down... sure she was already dead.
I got up yesterday morning almost afraid to look outside, afraid I might see her laying out there...
But she was on her feet! And she was hungry!!

I babied her all day yesterday, feeding her small frequent meals, softening her grain with water, and watching her closely. She seemed to be doing pretty well, but still wasn't drinking much. The vet called yesterday morning to check on her and was pleased at how well she was doing, but said we weren't out of the woods yet.

By today Tilly seemed like herself again... eating, drinking, pooping (very important when you are an equine!), and braying... sure I was starving her! We have all been so thankful that she's ok... As each day goes by it looks more and more likely that what the vet thought was a twist in her intestine might have been something else, and we won't lose this funny, sweet, little donkey too soon.

So... we were all appreciating the little things today. The sunshine, cleaning manure out of the stalls, filling water troughs, and having an animal recover from a colic... after losing Grant in such a similar way.

 We squeezed Halloween in around taking care of Tilly. We met E (dd#1) and the grandkids for lunch at Country Buffet, then ran home and watched Tilly for awhile, then ran to the homeschool group Halloween party, leaving early to get back to Tilly.

I was so proud of the kids... they both understood that taking care of Tilly was more important than keeping our original Halloween plans.

I did get a few Halloween pictures (of course! :)

Here are the kid's scary jack-o-lanterns... this year they carved them with almost no help! (please ignore the messy kitchen in the background!)


And with the lights on...  R made the two on the left, M made the two on the right (dh helped a little with the big one).


Since I'm always posting pictures of M and R, I decided to post Halloween pictures of the grandkids instead this time...

Here's RR, she's almost 6...


And JM (aka Dash from the Incredibles), he's 4


And KC, who will be 2 in January. E's dh dressed as the "man with the yellow hat" for Halloween, to go with this little "Curious George"


Here's Curious George trying on M's hockey mask costume...


Peek-a-boo! He thought he was too funny!


That's all for now... Next week is "unit study week" at our house and guess who hasn't got the unit study put together yet.... 

It's time for me to stop playing on the computer and get something done!