Thursday, September 30, 2010

It's been awhile... (long catch up post)

... since I posted.

Life has been moving at warp speed this summer, and in all the busy-ness, I'm afraid blogging ended up left by the wayside...

Here's a little of what's we've been up to:

We finished up the meetings and paperwork to move M into adult developmental disability services. Outwardly, nothing has changed... which was my goal... to keep things just the same for him. He now is getting services through the "adult side" though and his Medicaid has changed to long-term Medicaid, coverage he should be able to keep for many years.

I spent a week earlier this month preparing for our meeting with SSI to get M qualified for benefits. Countless hours went into filling out the online application (with his complete  medical/psychiatric history) and gathering all the paperwork to document his disabilities and medical issues. The hours paid off though... he's already been approved! That's one BIG thing I'm happy to cross of my to-do list...

I also spend a fair amount of time figuring out the paperwork to apply for guardianship for him. It wasn't as time consuming as the SSI application, but I did have to fill out a bunch of legal documents... twice... since I filled out most of them wrong the first time. I got everything done though, and submitted to the court... Our hearing is in about a month, and I'm sure they'll approve the guardianship. That's another big job happily crossed off the list!

I'd finally got around to shopping for carpet, staying pretty well within the budget I set for this last major upgrade on the house. It was in town within 10 days of placing the order, and installed less than a week later. It was HARD work for the kids and I to move all the furniture out of the house (and move it all back in the next day) but it looks soooo much better than the nasty pink carpet we'd lived with for years... it was worth every loaded-down-with-furniture trip up the stairs.

As long as I was at it, I decided to fix up the kid's little computer niche, something I'd been meaning to do almost since I moved the computer upstairs. A little spackle, some little leftover paint, and an afternoon's work and it looks much better.

I also (impulsively) decided to paint the kitchen island. I really should stop reading This Old House magazine... this is another little project, like my chalkboard wall, that came directly from the pages of this month's TOH. I like how it turned out, but didn't expect it to take several days to paint... (having to remove all the hardware and the five coats of paint it needed slowed me down some).




Much better I think.


I also decided to enroll R in COVA. (Colorado Online Virtual Academy - a public online school) I don't know what I was thinking... it seemed like a good idea at the time, but I think it was primarily a case of the homeschool guilts, feeling like maybe I wasn't doing enough... teaching enough. As it turns out though, we aren't going to do COVA after all... there were just too many problems with the IEP process, and it was reminding me too much of the terrible experiences we had years ago with (brick and mortar) public schools. After a string of several minor, but revealing, bad experiences with COVA staff around R's IEP I withdrew her from the program before she even started any coursework, and we are happy to once again be completely independent homeschoolers.

I wrote the following to a friend of mine about the experience...

"I remember perfectly now, why we homeschool... It's because of the people who were in charge of my children's education... but didn't "get" FASD, and failed to recognize their disability, unintentionally triggered behaviors and problems (because they didn't understand FASD), wasting my children's precious learning and attention time with tasks that were pointless and led to absolutely NO learning, and treating me as much less than a valued member of the IEP team... and more like someone who has to be put up with and could very easily be disregarded."

Speaking of education, Cody is now on his way to becoming an educated dog. After reaching new heights of naughtiness, I enrolled him (us) in a beginning dog training class. I was embarrassed at first, he was NOT the star of the class... he was more like the example of how not to behave. Ok... so maybe he wasn't that bad, but he definitely had a ways to go... Fast forward 2 1/2 months and he's a graduate of the beginner class and is more than halfway through the intermediate class. He sits, lays down, stays, comes, no longer pulls on the leash (most of the time), "leaves it" (when food or something is dropped), heels, high five's (he's too cool to just "shake"), rolls over, goes to his bed, and is just becoming a joy to be around. He really seems to love learning new things. And the best part is his naughtiness is almost gone and he's turning out to be a great little dog!

Fortunately Cody's NOT so well trained that he's given up stealing our shoes, slippers, etc. as a sneaky way to get us to chase him and play with  him...

... that would be very sad.

Tucker is also becoming a more educated donkey... R has been working with him this summer and he's made a lot of progress... He now will allow a fly mask on his face, and R has even tacked him up with a little pony saddle we have. At this point she's not getting on him, but she is leaning onto the saddle... putting a little weight on it... and except for a little bucking one time, he's doing ok with it. She loves working with him so much that she asked if Tucker could be hers... so now he is.

Isn't he handsome? I still think he's just the cutest thing on four hooves....

Our pasture got a little more interesting a few weeks ago, with the addition of Cubby... another donkey. We are "fostering" him... just keeping him until the donkey rescue can find him a home. He came to us chewed up from head to tail (literally!) from fighting with other donkeys, and he looks better now... his wounds are healing... but he's still got a major chip on his shoulder and likes to throw his weight around with the other animals. He also kicks, not at people, but at the other animals, so R and I have had to learn a whole new level of caution when working outside. The rule is pretty much to never get between Cubby and one of the other animals, and if there's trouble... get out of the way!

Tucker (in the fly mask) and Cubby, in a friendly argument over a stick... (yes, they each have one end of the stick in their mouth... and neither will let go!)

Tucker won... of course.

We've had another change in our animal population this summer too... Lili the chicken has moved to another home. The kids and I loved her, but it wasn't fair for her to always be alone. I believe most animals need the companionship of their own kind... and since Joe refused to have another chicken around, the only alternative was to get rid of Lili. Luckily I have a friend with banties, and Lili's living there now, happily roosting with a bunch of chicken friends and doing fine.

We had some excitement a month ago or so, when some kids who live east of us accidentally started a fire out back... on a windy day. The fire quickly grew out of control and it was amazing (and horrifying) to watch it racing over the land, pushed by the wind. Despite a couple dozen firefighters working on it, it didn't stop until it hit the road. We were lucky, the wind didn't blow the fire towards us and none of our land was burned... It was an exciting afternoon though, standing outside watching the fire gobble up everything in it's path and praying the wind didn't shift.  When it rains now the air smells like a wet ashtray, but I can't complain... a bad smell is nothing compared to losing land, or structures, to a prairie fire.

A little bit of the burnt hillside to the east of us...

It looks like our friend S, who is in foster care,  might be moving again soon... possibly to a group home. I've been working with the county human services agency that controls her care, trying to ensure we are able to maintain contact, and our relationship, with her. First they said we'd have to be recertified as foster parents, which I was fine with... and I started all the reading they were requiring as part of the recertification process. Then they decided to be satisfied with getting our fingerprints and doing a background check on us. So that's where things stand now... we are just waiting to see what happens next and hoping that the caseworkers in charge of her care understand how important it is to all of us to maintain contact with S. We go back a long way with her... she is like another daughter to me... I hope DDHS respects that relationship.

I think that's most everything that's been keeping us so busy lately. With the cooler weather life will slow down... and I have to say I'm looking forward to the first cold snap, and the first snow. This summer has been just a little too busy for me.