Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Remember . . .

I had an appointment with Dustin's psychiatrist this week. He said something I would like to remember so where else should I put it but here . . .

"He looks good, more peaceful than I have ever seen him. He no longer looks soul-less."

We increased his Lithium last month and it has truly helped. It was nice knowing he could see this too. Then, he gave me some advice about something we had been struggling with. It was not what I wanted to hear, but it was heartfelt and truthful. I love that man.

Unrelated topic . . . When we were in Georgia, I had a discussion with Lisa bout food issues. She told me that J used to eat like Dustin does. He never feels full so he is ALWAYS hungry. Jordan was talking to Dustin and said something about being filled up with love not food. Dustin barely acknowledged her and I knew that was beyond his comprehension at the time. Oddly enough, I was thinking about Dustin's eating habits since vacation and realized he is not over eating. He is rarely complaining about hunger, and when he does, he eats something "normal" and seems satisfied. Could it be and unconscious acceptance of what J said? Or is it simply a phase? We shall see. . . whatever it is, I like it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Is this my life . . .

As parent's with special needs kids do you ever ask yourself, "Is this my life?" Like seriously, how did this happen. While I would do it all over again and adopt Dustin, I would be much more prepared for what I was getting myself and my family in for. But my "normal" is such a far cry from other peoples. The good thing is that I don't know any different. I had my biological kids after foster care. I don't know how the other part of the world lives, I have never been there. I live with door alarms, locked snacks, IEPs, psychiatrist appointments, therapy, medications, in sight supervision, cameras, false accusations, CPS investigations, Neighborhood Code investigations, triangulation, marital stress, constant chatter, impulse control issues, mad pee-ing, moderately handicapped status, and the hunt for services. I have lowered expectations that I never thought would budge. I have different standards for success than I would've thought possible in my life.

I make do. We do what needs to be done. I come on here and vent. I have a few safe people in real life I can vent to. I have you all to keep me sane and remember that I am not alone. I do it because I have to. I do it because I made a commitment. I do it because a child is not something I can return and receive store credit for.

The first time I ever heard about disruption was a couple years ago. I was appalled. I can remember the rage I felt and the sadness. Recently I have been reading a blog by someone who posts about family's who would like to find a new home for their kids. Now, I know that I do not know the whole story, but one in particular stood out. These children were, by the mother's own admission, not aggressive, pleasant and creative children. They just simply would not attach and were angry. Wow. Ya think?! They are removed from their home, live in an orphanage and flown to another country to live with a stranger, and now you want to move them along for their "own good"?? It just makes me ill. Now, before you crucify me in the comments, I understand there are those times when the child is aggressive, hurtful, a danger, and angry. You know how I know? I live it. Dustin is next to an adult 24-7. He is never more than 3 feet from us while the other two are home, and extends to line of sight supervisions when they are not. I do what I need to do to keep my family (and our animals) safe.

Last week a facebook friend, who has an adopted child from Russia, commented about the story from the news about the mom putting her child on a plane back to Russia. One of her commenters said, "As a good friend of someone else who had a psychotic child dumped on them unaware, I can tell you there are NO resources to help in these cases." Seriously!? First glaring issue, "PSYCHOTIC". Okay, anyone have issue with that? And mama, let me tell you, I am WELL aware there are few resources to help. But, just the same, there are always resources, even if it is the internet. You have to become your child's only ADVOCATE and be prepared to deal with the trauma of being left without parents that these children face. My child is holy-hell difficult and it has been a rough road, but we are making it. When you choose to become a parent that responsibility cannot just end. What if you have a "psychotic" child born to you? There is no where to "dump" them. The problem as I see it is that most people assume that adopting a child from another country comes with less risk than a child who is already labeled and languishing in our foster care system and it is just not the case.

Are these parents unaware of the issues associated with our troubled kids? Yep. Were they misrepresented? Probably. Are they ill equipped to deal with such specific needs? Yep. We all were. What do you do? You promised to provide a home for this child. You promised they were part of a forever family. You educate yourself. You do what it takes to make it work. Will it be the life you expected? Probably not. Will it be easy? No way in Hades. Will you always feel like you love this child? Nope. Will your mourn the life they could've had? Yep.

I look at it like divorce. I made my husband well aware that divorce was not an option for me. I take the "til death do you part" thing seriously. It hasn't been easy. I don't always feel the love I have for him. But I made a commitment. I went into adoption the same way. I am in this for life. My child may end up in an institution or jail, but they will always be my child just as if I gave birth to him. (Dustin's would say "just as if I borned him") If you go into marriage with the agreement that divorce is not an option you find ways to make even the worst of situations work out for you. It is a struggle and it is hard, but you do what you have to do. I believe the same about adoption, maybe even more so!

I am a better person for living this life. Not in the sense that you should be proud of our accomplishment because Lord knows I go to bed each night feeling like an utter failure, but better for what I have learned by being Dustin's mother.

I have learned that education about issues is the best way to understand them.

I have learned that walking in someone else's shoes is priceless in "getting" who they are and what they deal with.

I have learned that I am not alone on this journey.

I have learned that sometimes you just have to laugh or you will cry.

I have learned that YOU are your child's only advocate.

I have learned that everyone does not have your best interests at heart.

I have learned that some people are sympathetic even if they do not know how to show it.

I have learned that I need to assume the best in people if I expect the same in return.

I have learned it is much easier to be patient than sorry.

I have learned that kindness covers a multitude of sins.

I have learned that not all disabilities are obvious and judgmental attitudes can really hurt.

If you have considered or are considering disruption, please don't feel like I am judging you. We all have our own cross to bear. This is how I feel. I know I cannot mandate what people do with
their own lives and the lives of their children. I don't live your life. I don't know what you go through or what your background is. I am simply saying what I feel. I don't judge people for divorcing, even though it is not a choice in my world.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Too True Tuesday . . .

Okay, I have been a blog slacker lately and I have really been slacking on Essie's Too True Tues(day) posts. Today is a multiple choice one:
  1. The best secret you ever kept from your parents
  2. Worst date stories
  3. Annoying Significant Other stories
  4. What I wish someone would have told me before I got married
I must pick the worst date story.

I was in college and dating a guy that was in my circle of friends. He was odd, most of us were, but he was really odd. You see, in high school and college I hung out with punk rockers. This was when punk rockers weren't cool. This was when we were shunned for having mohawks and laughed at for having black clothes. This was when tattoos were still pretty taboo and people were frightened by us. We were weird. And we liked being non-conformists.

This boy was a little older than me and he was in bands. I liked me some musicians. We had been on a couple dates and it was going well. He had his own place that he shared with an older man. He was sweet and kind and well mannered. He was a jokester. He was always laughing and he had an odd sense of humor. One night he took me out to dinner and over to his parent's house. They were out of town and I thought it was weird he would take me there to watch a movie when his roommate was always in his room anyway when we were there.

So, we are at the parent's house and he excuses himself to the bathroom. He comes back in a pink leotard and tutu. (He is about 6'3", scrawny and has long black hair) I burst out laughing assuming he is joking.

He. is. serious.

I was mortified that I laughed. He was mortified that I laughed. We never went out again. Years later I saw him on our local cable access channel doing a music video in that same pink tutu. He was singing something about cross-dressing.

Lord have mercy.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

More teacher appreciation gifts . . .

These are gifts I have put together for my kids teachers. I would like to give them something small daily. I thought they were cute. I found similar sayings in a magazine and bought the items at the dollar store. Tags were simply made in Word Art with some free clipart.

This is a clearance sundae cup with a ice cream scoop inside. I gathered them up in some irridescent tissue paper and tied it up with a tag that reads: Here's the scoop. You have all the right ingredients. Thanks for what you do!

This is obviously a pizza cutter and says: No matter how you slice it . . . You're appreciated! There is an adorable picture of a heart shaped pizza on the tag! Cute!

This is going to be made for all the teachers at the school. It is a baggie of mints and the tag reds: Thanks for your COMMIT-"MINT" to excellence. I simply used a ziplock sandwich bag and cut off the zipper. I tied them with a back curling ribbon. Cheap!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dustin's Vacation . . .

Is he the most handsome child? Love him!

Harrison's Vacation . . .

Flying kites with Papa on the beach.

McCartney's vacation . . .

John's Pass . . .

The Condo complex . . .

We rented a condo in the complex my mom and step-dad own in. Such a good plan. It is a gorgeous complex!

This is my step-dad's favorite view. It is the complex as you can see it coming over the drawbridge from the mainland. He loved this view for many years and he is so pleased they finally own a place here.

The complex is a yacht club so there are boats everywhere on the inter-coastal waterway.

This was the view directly outside of our condo.

Does this not look like a postcard? The place is immaculate and wonderful!

St. Pete's Pier. . .

Getting ready to feed the pelicans, or in McCartney's case, getting ready to freak out when they begin flapping!

A pelican with no fear of humans. This was with no zoom, I was that close.

Taken by Harrison, hence the angle.

The Pier is right by the airport.

Tell me this is not GORGeous! Looks like a Corona Beer commercial eh?

The Beach . . .

Harrison took this one, he is becoming quite the photographer. He has a good eye.

McCartney and Harrison in the water. She was quite the water bug! Last time we were in Florida, she preferred the sand.

My surfer boy.

Dustin spent most days trying to catch fish on the beach. Either with these buckets or with a butterfly net. He looked foolish, but it kept him busy!

Everyone got buried one day . . . except me . . . I did not want sand everywhere!

Cute Project . . .

I know I have yet to upload some Florida pictures, but my computer (Doris) has been feeling a little under the weather. She had a problem while on vaacation and she just returned from the spa today. Oh, how I missed her!

I have offered help with my kid's elementary school's staff appreciation week. After talking to the PTA president last night, I found that there is very little budget. I am used to working with little budget working in childcare for the last 20 years and I put my little mind to work.

I have a bunch of cool arts and crafts projects stored in my Google Reader under the starred function. I pulled out a post from Obsessively Stitching that I knew would be easy peasy lemon squeezy and best of all CHEAP! Her idea was to use pool noodles from the dollar store to make little straw floaters for her daughter's birthday party. I adapted it to make cutesy pencils for the teachers. Check them out!

Pool noodles from the dollar store. I bought pink, blue and yellow. You have to buy the wavy ones.

McCartney helped me cut them. We just used a steak knife and a little sawing motion. Won't say it cut like butter, but it wasn't hard.

Cute little flowers.

Whole mess of flowers from 3 noodles.

Then you stick the knife through the top of one petal and just pierce the bottom of the middle hole.

Poke the pencil through the flower and VOILA! Cutesy flower pencils!

I made 80 pencils and spent $7 and I still have enough flowers cut outs to use for something else. Hmmmm, what to do, what to do. I may make Obsessively Stitching's flower garland. . .

Monday, April 12, 2010

Privilege . . .

Day 2 of our Spring Break vacation found us still in Stone Mountain Georgia with new friends. On Thursday evening we got the privilege of meeting Lisa and J. They had a rough time getting to us with all the traffic, and they were tired! We all piled in my car (all except Robert who had driven all night and was napping) and headed to dinner at a nearby Applebees.

It was not what I expected. It was not like meeting someone new, it was like coming home to family. It was comfortable and peaceful. J was a perfect angel. My kids? Not so much. They had been in a car for 10 hours the previous night and then spent a day in the sun at Stone Mountain park. I was embarassed, but knew that above all Lisa was not judging us. Priceless.

J is used to an early bedtime and we headed back to the hotel. We chatted outside in the beautiful Georgia sunshine while the kids ran and played together for a short time. McCartney followed J around like a puppy and J was so kind to her, it was sweet. They headed off to bed and we headed to the pool.

The next morning we made plans to get up early and play in the pool. The breakfast spread at the hotel was great and the kids were starving. They were in the pool by 6:30 and Lisa, Robert and I sat and chatted , commiserated and cackled for hours. It was wonderful to connect with someone like that. Knowing all we knew about each other from blogs was great and we just hung out like old friends. Robert really enjoyed her and the kids played so well together.

I miss them already. . .

I feel like I have an new sister.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Florida Fun . . .

Florida has been awesome! Meeting Lisa and J in Stone Mountain was great! My laptop, Doris, croaked. Actually she is just fine, the network adapter is bad and I cannot get on any service provider. It might have been a blessing as we have been forced to find other things to do! I am on a computer at the library right across form our condo complex. My kids are enjoying their time with Nonnie and Papa and are loving the beach! Our condo is fabulous and is about a 2 minute walk to my parent's place in the same complex.

I will bury you with pictures when we get back! Have a good week!

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Day 1 . . .

Day one has been a success. We left last night about 8:00pm and headed east and south toward Cincinnati. I expected the kids to crash since I was using their normal drugs . . . Clozapine for Dustin and Melatonin for the littles. The littles went out with little difficulty but Dustin was still going strong at 2:00am. I had Robert pull over and I put him in the front while I squished my booty in the little part that was left of the back seat. He went right out. We made great time and I got a little sleep. We stopped for breakfast in Atlanta and then headed to Stone Mountain.

The last time I was in Stone Mountain was coming home from our honeymoon in 1997. It has grown so much! There is a wonderful little village with a HUGE "sky hike" and games and a 4D movie theatre experience, mini golf, amphibious vehicles rides and much more. We got there early in the morning so there were very few people there. The kids had so much fun! Harrison fearlessly did the Sky Hike and of course had to do the upper level. Robert is afraid of heights so it was a struggle, but he did really well. Harrison breezed through the course like a champ.

Dustin was awesome today at Stone Mountain. He loved seeing the view from atop the mountain. He has been cooperative and pleasant. We increased his lithium last Monday and perhaps we are seeing some benefits. I will keep my fingers crossed. While leaving the park, he exclaimed "This is the best vacation ever!" It has barely started and it is the best ever!

Right now I am sitting in a hotel waiting for Lisa and J to get here. We are resting and going to shower soon to wash the day's stink off. We will then go out to eat and swim in the hotel pool. I am so looking forward to it. I am really struggling with a foot issue. Last week I wore some cute shoes from Aeropostale. They were the cutest ballerina tennis shoes with eyelets and laces on the side of the front. Yeah. They mercilessly tore into my poor pinky toes! I wore them to the grocery and by the time I was done I had two nicely opened blisters, one on each foot. The right one has been more painful and I wore flip flops to work this week to give it some room. One of the little kids at work stepped on it while running across the room on Tuesday. It tore open and was smashed. It was bruised and painful, but not too bad. On the drive last night, it took on a alife of it's own. Oh. My. Lord. I can barely walk on it. It is swollen, red, unmoveable and angry. The toe is numb and there are red streaks coming from the sore to the rest of my foot. Ya think it's infected?? Um, yeah. I am spending time soaking it in Epsom salts as we speak. I may be visiting an urgent care facility in Florida. Fun.

Some obligatory pics of day one . . .