Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Our normal . . .

I have had two comments from the last post asking how Dustin and the other kids feel about the changes we have had to make to keep Dustin safe. I started a comment and it got long, so I was going to edit the last post and it got even longer, so I decided I would address it as a post.

I know the readers who asked weren't thinking these changes were wrong, they just wanted to know how he felt, I will try to explain. I will use words that will probably piss people off, but you get me as I am. I really hope I don't bring on a slew of criticism with this answer, but here goes

The prime answer: He has no concept that it isn't "normal" for parents to do this.

Even though Dustin looks perfectly "typical" he is severely brain damaged due to prenatal alcohol exposure. Just last week the psychiatrist said to me (in his thick Indian accent) "I am 100% sure that Dustin has great damage to his frontal lobe. It simply does not work properly, and he has come a long way with what he can accomplish". It took my breath away being said like that. I have always understood that Dustin could accomplish more than the county DFS gave him credit or, but I think we may be pushing the limits as to what he can truly do and now is time to come to grips with that.

It is exceedingly difficult for people to meet Dustin and immediately understand he is "not right". He presents completely "normal" as a charming, if not childish, 14 year old. He is lanky, clutzy, sweet and communicates "normally". He is very kind and extremely helpful. He looks "regular". As a stranger you are GOLD to him because he loves meeting new people. He knows no stranger and you will immediately be his best friend.

Let's take a look at a normal conversation in the check out line at the grocery. . .

Dustin will not normally engage without being spoken to first. (took YEARS of reminders)

Cashier: Hi, did you find everything okay?
Me: Yes, thank you. (my snarky mouth thinking, "If I hadn't I would've asked you idiot")
Dustin: Can I pack the groceries.
Me: No thanks. (Oh dear Lord, I wouldn't have anything left looking normal, but thanks for starting in . . .)
Cashier: That's nice you wanted to help, most kids your age won't offer.
Dustin: I am a good helper, do you have any pets? I like potato chips.
Cashier: (a slight eyebrow raise) Oh really? How old are you?
Dustin: 12 . . . I mean 13 . . . Uh 14 . . . Right mom?
Me: Yes Dustin 14.
Cashier: What school do you go to?
Dustin: (Looks at me to answer and I do) He agrees shaking his head.
Cashier: Oh! That sounds fun. What is your favorite class?
Dustin: No, my mom planted stuff in the garden today. I am really good at Mario on the Gameboy.
Cashier: Oh, that's nice. (confused)
Dustin: Mom, when we get home can I have a snack since I was good at the grocery pleaaaassse? (with a little hopping and begging)

Then they kinda trail off not knowing how to continue the conversation. I know she is thinking, wow, she must really baby him, or something is really wrong with this boy. Usually we get a kind smile and silence for the rest of the transaction.

He is a 5 year old "trapped in the body of a game show hostess" . . . oh wait, that an obscure reference from the movie Say Anything. He is a 5 year old trapped in the body of a 14 year old. He may always be. I have accepted that from my end, but I will continue to push him to go farther and succeed more for him. The truth is, no one really knows how much he can advance, and why not give him every chance possible? Probable and possible are light years apart in some cases. . .

So, when he came to us he was like a 2 year old. He is now, 8 years later, like a 5 year old. We have come a long way. We are the only "normal" he will ever know. I struggle with things like television. He would enjoy Barney and Dora and Wonderpets all day. I was conflicted awhile ago with letting him watch what he wanted (baby shows) or getting him interested in a little bit more age appropriate shows like Drake and Josh or The Suite Life. We didn't tell him the "baby shows" were prohibited, but we told him it was time to switch the TV for the afternoon. Robert also introduced him to Brady Bunch and Leave it to Beaver and other shows from our childhood. He mostly is appropriate, still, he would choose Barney if it was on but we have stopped allowing him to watch those kinds of shows. It was time. Maybe it was selfish, but I couldn't let him any longer. He survived. It really wasn't even a fight.

So, the other kids? They have grown up with locks on the doors, door alarms, and constant supervision. At this point they don't know that this is odd. They will soon I suspect. But they know that their brothers "brain is broken" and that he requires different things than other children so I assume they will accept it well. The only thing that I think this has damaged is their ability to be alone. They are afraid to be upstairs without an adult. It is getting better as I force encourage them that is is okay, but it has been difficult. I was a very fearful child, so I am hoping it is more out of fear of being alone than the fact that I have ruined them. LOL

So, how does Dusin and the other kids feel about the changes? The rational, nice mommy answer is: Fine, they think it is normal. The bad mommy answer is: Who cares? It keeps him safe and me sane.

I'm not even sure I could raise a normal kid surrounded by normal at this point . . .

Opinions? Criticisms? Bring it on . . . I wanna hear it all.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Snippits. . .

1. We put in our garden this weekend. It was over 80 degrees and beautiful! I planted tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, couple different peppers, and kohlarabi (just for my grandpa!) . . . Mmmmmmm! We shall see how successful we are. . .

2. We finally got our child locator functioning! ( We had to mail it back to the company because the base unit was broken ) It will work fabulously for Dustin when he runs away, I think. . . a later post on that.

3. This is my crazy celebration week at work . . . I offered my husband up for a project, I bit off more than he could chew. It is done and we are still married however, so it was success. The remainder of the week is CRAZY busy.

4. My hair is driving me bonkers, I wish I could pull-off bald.

5. I am starting to freak about my busy summer. For you new readers, I head to schoolage summer program at the daycare and I do 9 (yes she said 9!) Field Trips a week. Four of those are swimming trips! Argh! It is fun and it makes my summer go really fast, but I start freaking about it right about now. . .

6. We have definintely decided to head across the country this summer. I cannot wait! I am looking forward to all the cool things we can stop and see, I would love some suggestions if you have any . . .

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I totally stole it . . . .

. . . from Cathy. It actually brings me to tears to see kids enjoying creating art. This is cool, Harrison LOVES this song. So much so that I had to print out the lyrics for him because I was tired of arguing about the words.

Done . . .

I would change a few things for the next bag . . . which I already having cooking in my head . . . but here's the finished bag. I finally got used to the way the plastic crochets about halfway up the bag, so it is definitely a learning piece which means it is seriously flawed in places. I still HATE making the plarn, but I am getting faster at it. I really need to teach my kids at daycare to make it for me and I'll have TONS of balls of plarn . . .

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Awesome . . .

So I am cruising right along in my plastic bag project and it is super easy and fun. I really hate making the "plarn", but I got into the groove of it late last night and made a big ol' fat ball that I think will finish off the bag. I hope to be done today. I still have no idea how to read crochet patterns (I haven't really tried) so I am inventing my own style. We shall see how it turns out. I want to finish it today for Earth Day and start one more . . . I will get to crocheting as soon as I get home from work, it's sitting on my chair calling my name . . . can you hear it?

You can find the instructions for making plarn here. (waving . . . Hi Cindy!) And please go check out her creations using cassette tape, VCR tape, and bread bags. She makes scrubbies, can cozies, hats, and Too stinkin' cool! I have a feeling I will be crocheting with plastic for a long time. . .

I have one problem, I don't use the bags from the store. I use totes. I do however have a solution. We ask people to bring us their used store bags into the daycare so we can reuse them for soiled clothing. When we ask to donations, we get oodles and oodles of bags. Usually so many we don't have room to store them. So now I will have an endless supply of plastic bags, and be fashionable with my crocheted bags!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A new adventure . . .

I am crocheting a bag made of grocery bags. I was alerted to their existence a few months ago on Facebook, and I was quite frankly afraid of trying. My neighbor got out of her car on Saturday and she had two. I asked her where she got them and she said she made them and that they were easy. I made the "plarn" today (plastic yarn) and began crocheting tonight. I will keep you apprised of how it went. . . So far it is fun! You can find all sorts of coolio things on this site.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A fine mess . . .

I worked my tail off in the yard today. I took care of my house and the vacant house next door. I have done the yard over there for the past year and I will continue doing it again this summer. I cannot handle the yard overgrown, and it is small so I would rather take care of it than have it an eye sore on the block. I mowed, trimmed, raked, used the blower and weeded my beds. I also spread 8 bags of mulch out front and 80 pounds of cow manure out back in the garden. My hands are stained red from the mulch and my nails will never be the same. I hate wearing gloves.

I am a mess, but I feel good. I love yard work. It gives me a huge sense of accomplishment. I even took some of my plants out to the porch . . . ah, spring.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A letter to my baby girl . . .

Dearest McCartney,

Last night you threw the mother of all fits got really sad. If you recall it started because you have decided you are afraid of the cat. You know, the cat that has been with us since before you were born. The cat that never bothers you, that loves you and you give tons of attention to . . . yeah, that one. The cat must have liked the ruffles on the bottom of your adorable dress and tried to grab your ankle. Remember my darlin' that the cat has no front claws. He cannot hurt you. But that did not stop the screeching that may or may have busted eardrums of the people on our block your apprehension. Of course you knew it was beautiful spring day and the front door was open, so where did you run my darling? Of course, the front door so the neighbors could better hear your blood curdling screams share our experience and perhaps have the broken eardums bleed even more feel sorry for you. It took at least 15 minutes for you to calm down after that calamity tell us how you really felt, then we heard the jets fly over.

The jets were doing a fly over of the new ballpark on opening night. As you know pumpkin, we live close to downtown, so we stepped outside to see them fly back over. That was fun! Until of course, it was time to go inside. Wow! Cue the screaming You really expressed your displeasure. You do such a good job of making me want to get in the car and drive to Nebraska making sure we all know what you like and don't like. You really excel at the hollering communicating my darling. THAT is something to be proud of! That screaming match conversation lasted about 10 minutes.

Then, the last straw end of our evening was the fit you threwconversation we had when I used the word "bedtime". Holy Mercy! If you will recall this was the point that I lovingly snatched you by the arm took you by the hand and marched you up the stairs. I endured your screeching and the shouts of "I hate you!" words while I took off your clothes and put your pajamas on. I left you screaming and kicking snuggled alone on your bed. You did attempt to come down the stairs one time, but at this point you knew my patience was far exceeded and once you saw my face turn and look at you, you ran back up the stairs it was bedtime . . . screaming all the way.

Your daddy was so unhappy that I was getting all the abuse attention he decided that if he liked being married he better take over chose to go upstairs and sit in the hall until you went to sleep. It was then that I decided I would run far far away, before I gouged my eyes out with the potato peeler go to Target and run some errands.

Honey, you may wonder why mommy is taking the time to type all this out for you. I am doing this so that I will have it to show to your first boyfriend because he needs to know what he is getting himself into how much your mommy loves you.

For the love of all that is holy, please do not put mommy through this again tonight I love you darling!


Sunday, April 12, 2009

An inspiration . . .

Isn't it funny how you get sucked into these blogging groups? I have my adoptive/foster parenting blog circle, then I have my local's blog circle, then I stumbled upon this IVF blog circle. I began reading Mandy's blog when she lost her twin girls during week 19 of her pregnancy.

I have followed Mandy's story as she struggled to make sense of her world without her girls. I have become a regular reader who gets a little stressed if I don't see a blog post from her for a few days. You see, she is once again expecting. I began to pray for Mandy and her family as the new little one is formed within her. I recently decided to make little "Sherbert" a blanket and I crocheted the twins names into the corners with beads. I was so thrilled with the way it turned out.

I mailed it last week and Mandy blogged about it today. Go on over and take a peek and give Mandy some comment love!

Easter Sunday . . .

He arose. . .

or as Dustin said once when asked what Easter was about . . . "Jesus popped up!"

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Earworm . . .

I have one. I think it started with the new show Cupid the other day. Which if you haven't watched you really should. It is fabulous! Anyway, there was a scene where they do karaoke, mariachi karaoke no less, and 2 characters did this song. My littles started in, and now I cannot stop singing it. I remember having Elton and Kiki Dee on 45. . . . (all those versions on YouTube have embedding disabled)

And my heart swelled . . .

Yesterday I had my son, Harrison's, parent-teacher conference. It was wonderful. She said that he is a joy to have in class. That even though she knows that he knows everything she is teaching, that he is still respectfully taking it all in. (I know I am his mom, but he is a freaking GENIUS) She said, it is as though he is listening to see if he can find some new tidbit of information in there to absorb. She said kids like Harrison tend to be arrogant or snotty about knowing what the teacher is teaching, or simply don't listen because they know the material. She also said that he is the first 1st grader in all of her years of teaching who not only knows all the conventions of writing (like grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc), but actually puts them to use.

She said he amazes her.

I swelled up with joy and pride.

It was especially nice because he was sitting there next to me in those little 1st grade chairs listening intently as she praised him. It was too cute. He sat up straight and tall and crossed his hands in front of him at the table. I enjoyed every minute of it. He struggles with a little tad of anxiety and he worries terribly what other's think of him so it was brilliant that he got to hear all this!

She did mention that he struggled a little the last quarter with some behavioral issues like talking over others and being in other people's business. She said he was emotional and distracted but had shown great improvement in the last 6 weeks. I told her that we up-ed his dosage of Focalin 6 weeks ago. She stared at me, mouth open. She said she usually isn't a fan of medication, but it obviously works for Harrison. I was thirlled that the break-out behaviors we were seeing stopped immediately after up-ing the dose. I was also thrilled that yet another person can see that meds aren't always for "bad" kids and aren't always so horrible.

I will do whatever helps my son be a productive student and a loveable child, meds or no meds. I think it is Jill who says, "Better living through pharmaceuticals". I love it!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Getting excited . . .

A couple years ago my husband mentioned driving across the country to see his sister who lives in California. His sister went out to Cali the day after high school graduation and married, had babies, and hasn't returned but a couple times. The last time being in the 90's. He misses her like crazy and would love to see her.

We are in Indiana people.

That is a long drive.

With three kids.

I have resisted thus far with reasons as to why it is impossible. This reason's included : I may be tempted to leave Dustin in Missouri, we wouldn't want to travel with kids in diapers, I may leave Dustin in Colorado, we wouldn't want to travel with kid's who are potty training, I may leave Dustin in New Mexico, gas is too expensive, I may leave Dustin in Oklahoma, I hate riding in the car, I may leave all the kids in Illinois. You get the picture.

With the exception of being tempted to leave the children standing on the side of the road as I cry uncontrollable curled in the fetal position in the trunk of the car clicking my heels together to just be home, all those reasons are no longer valid. It is time to acquiesce. We are driving across the country this summer.

When I finally told him I would consider it, I told him it would only be possible if I could stop near the great stinky lake and visit with Jo and meet Little Man, Squid, Pea, and June Bug. He was more than happy that I would consider the trip and agreed to the meet and greet!

So, If any of you, my blogging friends, are within the states we will be traveling through (we will head there on a northern route and back on a southern route) I would LOVE to make it a bloggy-friend meeting vacation as well! Let me know . . . but keep in mind that meeting me would entail meeting the whole Rouse family (maybe even the dog, but not the bird), warts and all! :) And I promise I won't stay more than 4 days while I eat all your food, sleep on your couch and wait on my flight back to Indiana because I cannot take ONE MORE MINUTE in the car with my children!

I am sad that we will not be anywhere near Minnesota to see all the FAB bloggers up there . . . when I learn top embrace the frozen tundra we will head in your direction! (and of course, Georgia is out of the path as well . . . so sadly, no Lisa-time this visit)


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Anyone deal with this . . .

Dustin cycles through behaviors.

We have . . .

1. The torment the animal phase. It is just what it sounds like. He steps on the dogs feet, pulls her tail, kicks her, throws stuff at her. He is particularly fond of throwing things at her that will stick to her fur. He grabs the cat and won't let him go. He holds him around the neck so the cat cannot get away. He has been known to stick the cat down his pants so he can take him to another room to "pet" him. One time the cat got a new "do" with an entire bottle of hairspray. He doesn't save this for our furry friends, the birds get poked with long things like straws and sticks. He recently poured a coke over Caesar our African Grey. He has popped the heads off fish trying to give them "hugs". It is not a sensory issue, he torments.

2. The eat everything in site, hoard, steal, and/or gorge yourself stage. This one is currently having it's way at our home. Food gets stuffed under couch cushions, under things, in pockets. He saves cheese for later in shoes. He hides an entire box of fudgesicles under the bed for later. Chips and salsa are poured into a bowl and are left in the shower. You cannot have chips anywhere in the house during this stage if you actually want to eat them. We thought we had a fabulous hiding place in the laundry room . . . he just found it after success for 3 months. He doesn't just hoard, he eats 6 pudding cups at a time, leaving the sticky lids stuck to the walls going up the steps. He will eat 40 pizza rolls if not supervised and then will throw a huge tantrum in 30 minutes because we are "STARVING" him. We "NEVER FEED" him. He hates us and will tell everyone we are trying to kill him by not letting him have food. Good times.

3. The runaway or threaten to phase. He runs out of the house 2-3 times a day, sometimes just to the doghouse (it is huge - but it grosses me out and he knows it). Or every time we say something he doesn't like he says, "I'm outta here!" or my favorite, "I should've picked a different family!" You need to strategically place yourself between him and the escape route every moment of the day so you can grab clothing as he tries to push past you to get to the door. This one is escalating to actually running and hiding, hence the police visit last week.

4. The "I do not want to eat anything except pizza rolls" stage. Hello, how many bags of pizza rolls can one kid eat. Not so much a behavior issue except when I limit his pizza roll consumption and/or run out and then there is hell to pay!

5. I want this, no I don't this stage. Dear sweet Lord, my least favorite. (although they all are my least favorite while going through them)

D:Can I have a Pop-Tart Mom?
Me: Sure Dustin. (makes Pop-Tart) Here you go darling.
D: Why did you make me this! I hate Pop-Tarts! I don't want it!!!!!!!!!!!
Me: Okay, put it away for later.
D: Can I have a bowl of cereal


D: Can I play the Nintendo?
Me: Sure.
D: I hate you for making me always play this stupid game!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lather, rinse, repeat

6. The getting up in the middle of the night phase. This is the scariest one for me ever since I found an entire box of spent matches in the living room one morning shortly after he moved here. This one usually goes hand with the crazy overeating stage. Door alarms could quite literally be lifesavers.

Sometimes they last 2 weeks, sometimes 4 weeks. At least they don't happen at the same time for the most part. As soon as I think I can take no more, they usually dissipate and we are left to tend to another, yet different, cycle of crazy.

Heard around our house . . .

McCartney: Mommy, if Hannah Montana quits being Hannah Montana in Hannah Montana the movie this weekend, and is only Miley, can I take her place?


My mom bought McCartney Heely's while in Flordia. She rolled into the dining room and promptly fell. (she does a lot of that) . . .

McCartney : Wow! I was heeling!
Harrison: Actually that is called falling.

How bad can it be . . .

I seriously needed a haircut. My stylist only works at the place I go to two days a week. Tuesdays is one of them. I called early this morning to beg her to fit me in and thank heavens she had an open slot at 10:15. I am blessed to have a flexible work schedule most days and I took the time slot.

This salon is in a small town north of here and it only takes me about 15 minutes to get there from my work. I was expecting to be back in less than an hour. I sat in the chair, we discussed the annoying parts of my hair and she went to chopping. She disappears in the color closet and I say, "Oh, I didn't want a color today." She says, "Oh, well we are coloring it, it looks bad."

It's a good thing I adore her.

So today's question is, how bad does your hair have to look for you stylist to demand a color?

(So, I have the last pink in my hair until at least September. I swim way too much in the summer and the pool would turn pink if I colored it any more this season.)

Monday, April 06, 2009

Monday Mumbo-jumbo . . .

This weekend I took on a project that I was not prepared for. I tore up the floor of the dining room. It sucked. I got into it about 20 minutes and sat in the middle of the floor and cried. But, it is done and it is better.


Spring break is to Dustin like oil is to water. Holy mercy his behavior was of the charts. I would've gladly exchanged him for a meno-pausal hippopotamus doped up on ritalin and sporting a thong that is 4 sizes too small. It would've been calmer around my house . . . get the picture?


I had a fabulous late lunch at the Firefly Coffee House yesterday will a mom who "gets it" on so many levels! She is awesome and I love her company. I think this could be the beginning of a good friendship. I took McCartney and she drove me bonkers, and Jill rolled with the punches! Yay. I also saw my dear friend Peggy and her hubby there for the open house. For anyone in the Fort, drop by the Firefly and see some stuff from local artists that you can purchase. Not only will it support local artists, but you will get some FAB stuff for next to nothing!


Also, for anyone in the Fort, you MUST go check out House of Greens! Awesome food, great prices. It is my new favorite lunch destination, and oh-so-close to work!