Monday, February 28, 2011

New dinner recipe . . .

Just made a new dinner and it was FAB. Thought I would share since it is so easy! My brother makes this and I decided to try it.

All I did was throw chicken breasts in the crockpot. Cover with an entire bottle of salsa and a bit of water. (I just rinsed the can out with about half water and swirled it around and dumped it in) and then a packet of your favorite taco seasoning (I love Ortega). I put mine in for about 6 hours on low.

When I got home I simply took the breasts out, shredded them (they fell apart) and put them in a bowl with some of the salsa sauce on top.

I lightly fried some small flour tortillas and corn tortillas. We packed them with the chicken, some four cheese mexican blend shredded cheese and some sour cream. I am certain it will be fabulous with some fresh tomatoes from the garden this summer. (My mom eats her with some black beans)

Awesome! You must try this one!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Countertop redo Part 2 . . .

Lord have mercy! I was fairly certain that the most difficult thing I would encounter while doing the counters would be the grouting. I was so right! It gave me hives just thinking about it all morning. I finally plunked out my first hunk of grout this afternoon and can I just say I am so thrilled I only have one counter! It was nerve-wrecking and crazy making! But I got it done.

I did buy the premixed stuff due to the fact I used grout. It is a silicone base and will not scratch the glass. It is also stain resistant and does not need sealing. I must say after I finally got the sponging down, it was fairly easy to fill holes with my fingertip. I did not take pictures because I was too busy freaking out.

After a few hours I took a just-damp towel and paper towels to get the haze off the tiles. That took FOREVER because I was fearful I would wipe out the grout lines. I decided that the wall above the back splash needed to be the wall color instead of the cabinet color like it was. Two coats later and it was time to silicone the tops of the tiles of the back splash and replace the sink. Of course that required a trip to Lowes. When I was leaving, I told the clerk it was our last trip this weekend!

Never say that! Karma comes around and you will be back in Lowes within the hour. By the time I was reconnecting the sink I was grumpy and totally DONE with this project. I was DONE doing dishes in the bathroom sink. Damn kids still want to eat even when it inconvenient for me! *wink* I was just wanting it all to be DONE. I reconnected the cold water and it decided to leak! I had to run back to Lowes for another faucet feeder. Thankfully it was half hour before closing! And thankfully the same clerk was not there to mock my second trip today.

So her she is . . .

All the sparkly bits make me happy!

It is DONE! I couldn't be more thrilled. I would do it again in a heartbeat, but I would definitely take Monday off work, boy am I pooped.

(By the way, I was asked in the comments last post why I didn't choose granite or another solid surface, easy answer . . . I am cheap! I did this all for under $120. I really wanted to replace our sink with a nice white cast iron one, but I am too cheap right now!)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Countertop redo Part 1 . . .

I live in a 120 year old home. It was a rental for many years and it has it's own challenges when it comes to decorating. The kitchen is horrid. It has one small bank of cabinets with one countertop. Last year I repainted the entire kitchen including the cabinets. I love the dark brown cabinets. I have been lamenting over the nasty counters for YEARS and a trip to Lowe's last night made me decide to rip them out and do my first ever tile job.

Here is the countertop this week. From a distance it looks alright, don't let it fool you!

Notice the crack? That happened when we had to replace the sink a couple years ago. How about that fabulous caulk job, eh?

First thing this morning (okay about 11:30) I got to work. First to go was the sink. That was pretty easy. The crobar took care of the counter top pretty easily. I broke one nail and I ripped a bunch of the plaster off the wall on the backside.

I was left with a pretty nice surface. I thought the cabinets would be open at the top, but they were not. It was nice to find a good solid surface there.

Next was the plywood base. I was so very lucky that the entire counter was 2 foot x 8 foot, so one peice of 1/2 inch ply cut in half worked perfectly for my base. I only had to cut a small notch in the right end and an inch or so off the back of the left end. I was feeling pretty confident at this point.
I was confident way to soon. By the time it was time put the cement backer board on I was at the point I always reach in every project when I think, "Why on God's green Eart did I decide to do this? I could've spent a nice lazt Saturday on the couch!" I was so over it! The backerboard scored nicely with a carbide blade that you put in a utility knife and the first few peices snapped easily. When I needed some smaller pieces it sucked! But I got the job done. I also found that I needed to use a larger size drill bit to drill some pilot holes to countersink the screw heads. ( I used dry wall screws) Above you see the counters all cement boarded and ready to lay the adhesive.
I decided I wanted to lay out the tiles and decided where we should out the glass tiles. I bought 2 x 2 inch white tiles that were stuck together with glue dots to make 12 x 12 inch sheets. I laid them out and we placed the glass tiles on top to make a random pattern. I used 2x2 blue, green, brown, and tan. I also bought a 12 x 12 sheet of 1x1 inch tiles that were the same brown, some were burnished so those got mixed in as well. I marked the white sheets by number and then with B, G, B, T, and 4 to signify where the colored tiles went. Yep, you read that right. I didn't realized I marked both the brown and the blue the same! Oooops, fail! Thank goodness for the above photo so I could figure out the layout. I also dry fit the sink at the time, just to be sure.

The first swiped of adhesive! I was sceeered! Lord have mercy, I think I went through a whole roll of paper towels! That adhesive was all over my hands and I knew I didn't want it on the tiles. I was a mess!

So, to install, I cut out the white tiles with a utility knife and layed in the glass. It was surprisingly easy.

By this point, I was getting pretty confident and was spreading the adhesive like a pro.

This is all the tile laid in the adhesive. I was thrilled. But because I cannot ever do anything in one trip to Lowes . . .

Last night the clerk asked me if I was going to do a backsplash. I said no. She suggested some subway tiles with the glass tiles across the top. At this point I decided that I already had an enormous mess and all the materials out that I should just go for it. I went back to Lowes and bought 16 subway tiles. I used the remainder of the small glass tiles cut in strips to line the top. (I back buttered those) Can you believe I tiled and entire counter top and only had to cut ONE tile? Serious. I had to run back to Lowes and get about 2 inches off one subway tile.

Right now I have by butt on the couch and I am watching TV. I have to wait 24 hours to grout. That should be amusing!

Stay tuned for part 2 . . .

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fast Food . . .

I will start out by saying that I am not a fast food junkie. But I do eat it on occasion especially since I am absolutely surrounded by fast food at work and sometimes daycare lunches leave a bit to be desired. I do like to bring my own lunch and I try to make sure I have leftovers from dinner for the next day's lunch.

A few months ago I read the article about the pink chicken nugget mush that they extrude from chicken meat so that they can use every little piece of "food" possible from the chicken over at Huffington Post (and everywhere else). And that picture is just plain NASTY. But it gets worst . . . "There's more: because it's crawling with bacteria, it will be washed with ammonia... Then, because it tastes gross, it will be reflavored artificially. Then, because it is weirdly pink, it will be dyed with artificial color." Really??!! Um no thank you.

Since that time I have outlawed chicken nuggets at my house. When the children balked about it, I showed them the picture. We talked about what we are putting in our bodies. They no longer ask. In fact, they tell others that we don't eat that nasty stuff! Woot.

Since that time I have just been nastied-out by fast food in general. I have never seen "Super-size Me" but I have been told I should watch it. I really have no desire to. I know it will make me mad. The things these corporations do in order to get people "addicted" to their food pisses me off. We are a society of convenience and I know that's where it started, but the fat, the calories, the sugars, the portion sizes . . . ugh! I know it is a choice everyone makes, but I also know that their marketing strategies leave a bad taste in my mouth. I have always argued with my kids about those stupid toys . . .

My hatred for McDonalds has definitely grown over the last few months and in turn has aspilled over into other fast food chains. I rarely visit any fast food any longer and it almost makes me sick thinking about doing so. I will say that while I hate the corporate giant of McD's I still get my fountain soda from the store directly across the street from my work . . . I know, I know baby steps here!!! I can only work on banishing one evil from my diet at a time! (After the article I read about gas station soda fountains being covered with germs I like the no-touch machine at McDs!) Soda is next on my list . . . I swear.

Yesterday I rea this article about McDonalds and their "healthy choices" oatmeal. It signifies everything that is wrong in their world. Take a minute and read it. My favorite quote is "The bottom-line question is, “Why?” Why would McDonald’s, which appears every now and then to try to persuade us that it is adding “healthier” foods to its menu, take a venerable ingredient like oatmeal and turn it into expensive junk food? Why create a hideous concoction of 21 ingredients, many of them chemical and/or unnecessary? Why not try, for once, to keep it honest? "

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Crapfest . . .

The crap has hit the fan at Chez Rouse. I am not sure if it is combo of birthday/full moon or simply karma for something very bad I did in my twenties finally coming around to get me, but it was been a week from hell. Let's tick it off shall we:

- Dustin is seriously off kilter.

- I hurt my back on Saturday very badly and went to the clinic. Got some good meds and also I believe I got a very bad sinus infection that I brought home to Robert and I. I have been down for the count since Sunday early morning.

- The stuff coming out of my nose should be outlawed. Even the NetiPot refuses to take care of it!

- Dustin's constant chatter has amped up to a new level . . . I shall call it intense times eleventy.

- more snow, which meant yesterday's sick day turned into family snow day. Boo.

Suck fest.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Birthday . . .

7 years old . . . our first birthday celebration with Dustin 2002

8 years old & adoption celebration 2003

9 years old - 2004

10 years - 2005

13 years old - 2008

14 years old - 2009

16 years old . . . 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Redeux . . .

I wrote this post on September 24, 2009. After re-reading my post earlier about Schizophrenia I remembered this post so I wanted to share it. . .

Can you see it? . . .

Isn't it funny that when you step back and look at something you can see the signs coming from a mile away? But, when you are in the thick of it, you don't see the forest for the trees. I can sit and think about all the ways Dustin has changed over the last month or so and can see the psychosis and the delusional thinking creeping in. Not that I saw it while it was happening mind you. What is that called, Monday morning quarterbacking?

I can see it in his eyes in this picture taken Sunday. He is not quite with us. He is not in reality.

Compared with this picture earlier in August.

Can you see it? I can and it's not just the smile that is missing and it frightens me.

This was one of the times we had to increase his dose of Clozapine. In one of the comment Thorn said "You're right, he's gone flat." That's the perfect analogy. You can see it in his eyes and in his expression. I remember that day with the turkey leg. We had gone to a local festival and he really wanted that. He took 2 bites and threw it away. This is the child that eats 20+ pieces of pizza at the buffet. He was "not home". Shortly after we had to leave the festival because he was hollering that we never feed him.

I thought the illustrated the "not in reality" comment perfectly. The reason I wrote the Schizophrenic post earlier and wanted to find this post above is that TLC4evah just got a schizophrenia diagnosis for her son. I was directed there through Lisa and thought maybe she could use some info from others who have gone before. Jump over there and give her some love . . .

Schizophrenia . . .

I have not talked about Dustin's schizophrenia in a while. Sometimes when I think about our like and the constant supervision that he has to be on in order to keep him and everyone around him safe, it is easy to look at the present and boo-hoo that so little has changed.

It is during those times that I need to look back at few posts here or think about the road to the medication we are currently on to realize how much progress we have made.

Our trip through schizophrenia started about 7 years ago. We decided it was time to begin eliminating some meds that Dustin came to us from foster care on. At that time he was of Clonidine, Depakote, Zoloft, Adderall, and Risperdal. He took over 26 pills per day. We began by removing the Adderall since it was causing psychotic behaviors. He was actually peeling the flesh off his face and eating it. Nice huh? No one would do anything about it. He constantly looked like a burn victim. They kept saying it was his OCD or his anxiety and they would up the zoloft and the clonidine. I took him off the Adderall myself without the doctor's knowledge and he stopped picking that very next day. The Depakote was next. We rarely saw any cycling behavior and thus it was the next to go. When they began weaning him off the Risperdal all hell broke loose. He was impulsive and angry. He would say that his stomach was telling him things. He would eat constantly to make his stomach be quiet. He was aggressive and always moving.

We transitioned to a new psychiatrist who was a fan of much less medication so we decreased several other things. The Clonidine he was on was a LARGE adult dose (up to 6 .1mg per day) and they were concerned about the amount he was taking. When he went off that he rarely slept. He wandered around the house. He was never really "in reality". He always looked disconnected and far away. He as destructive and dug holes in the walls. His "flashbacks" that he had of his former abuse became much more real to him. He would still talk about his stomach talking. This doctor tended to throw drugs at him without giving the last drug time to leave his system. He had a massive EPS reaction to Tramadol and then to Trazadone. He had to be hospitalized for seizure muscle tremors, swollen tongue and stiff neck. He was also complaining about seeing "demons" coming to drag him to hell. He would shout and cry and curl into a ball. He would shout that we were letting them get him. He was unable to walk to even stand up for 3 days.

The doctor never came to see him in the hospital. Our pediatrician came in and I asked to put him back on Risperdal. This seriously pissed off the psychiatrist and we left soon after.

The next psychiatrist is the one we were with now. He is a true gem. About 6 months into his care, we decided that he needed to be hospitalized and taken off all meds to get a baseline. At this point we had never seen our own child off medication. He was admitted to the psych hospital for 15 days. During that time we removed all meds and started re-adding due to behaviors. They found out that all ADHD meds make him absolutely immediately psychotic. He came home on a few meds, but no anti-psychotics per se. Within two weeks he has back in the psych hospital for another 15 day stay. It was during this time that he began to have hallucinations. He had a wife (who was a dog) and 100 puppy-children. They met in the time out room at the hospital. He was constantly talking to his "friends". He had others who were bad and would follow him. They would come from the edges were the ceilings meet the walls. He would shoot pretend arrows at them. This happened at home, at school and in the stores. Sometimes they would get down with us and they would tell him what to do. He would say things like, "Mom they told me to hurt you, but I love you so I won't." He swore they were real. The voices he heard in his head he said were real, although most voices came from outside his head. They were typically animals and he swore they were there. He would always swear that there were stray cats outside hat needed his help to keep his safe. He was always running outside at home and at school to save them.

This went on for about a month under doctor's supervision. He was hoping we were dealing with withdrawls and things would even out. They kept getting worse. I have videos of him engrossed in conversation with the "friends". When his friends began telling him to "fake not hearing us" I began to get fearful. One afternoon he came home from school with a referral for stabbing (sounds harsh, it was more of a stick) a boy in the chest with a pencil. He had gotten up walked across the room and stuck him with the pencil for absolutely no reason. I foolishly asked why he pointed next to him and said, "He told me to."

I walked into the psychiatrists office that day and put my foot down, he agreed it was time and we started on "the mother of all anti-psychotics" Clozapine. That drug was a miracle for us and still is. It is a HUGE pain in the ass because blood work is needed once a week for 6 months in order to get one week of pills. Then you can graduated to 2 weeks. Eventually you can move to monthly if blood levels are consistent, but in 3 years we have never made it to monthly. The scary part is that it can wipe out your immune system in a heartbeat with no warning so they have to keep good tabs on it.

I will never forget the day after he began the Clozapine. He came home from school and began looking around the house. he was looking under things and pulling up the cushions to the couches. He was looking really frantically for something. I askd him what he needed and he said, "Have you seen my "friends"? I haven't seen them all day." And that was that. The hallucinations stopped that quickly. It was a huge blessing. I think there has only been one time since that he started talking to someone who was not there are we upped his dosage, but that is the extent of it. I am so thankful.

I can look back now and see all those signs. The abuse flashbacks were scary and he was putting us in the thought as the aggressor therefore expanding the flashback. The stomach talking to him. The periods of almost catatonia where he was really not altogether "with" us. The conversations about things that had not happened or really confusing the facts of certain situations as well as disordered and jumbled thinking. All those things were present but it wasn't until the hallucinations and the delusions started that we became aware of how serious it all was.

I am so thankful for a doctor who is on top of this. A doctor who is available to see us at a moments notice. I am thankful for staff at the office who get messages to him ASAP. I am thankful for modern medication that allows my child to be at home with us instead of in an institution. I am thankful that he is safe and we can all be safe around him.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Adoption . . .

If you would've told me that my life would've taken this turn 16 years ago I would've thought you were crazy. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering the person I used to be. Does that make sense? I cannot remember the person who advocated so harshly for services due to her child. I cannot remember the care-free adult who could drop everything at a moments notice and hit the road to Indy. I have a hard believing that I was the woman who had no idea what IEPs (Individualized Educational Plan) and BIPs (Behavioral Intervention Plans) were. What was my life like before assessments, plans, case managers, wrap around facilitators, intake coordinators, and mentors?

All of that sounds like I mourn this previous like. I don't. While I would prefer that I would not need to have some of the information I have rolling around in my head, all this HAS made me a better person. It has made me more aware of those around me. I has made me look at people (and children) as more than their behaviors, but as people who may struggle with their own demons. It has made me more tolerant, more compassionate and more kind. It has made me a better mother by advocating for my kids even when it doesn't include a disability. It has made me more aware of my world.

When I think about the "before me" and the "after me" there is one memory that always stands out to me. The memory is so burned into my mind it is like playing a movie in my head. I was probably 24. I was out of college and working fulltime at the daycare. I had gone to Target to purchase something for the daycare. There was a family in front of me that was a mom and 2 kids. The kids were perhaps 7 and 10. The mom had a large order and the boys were irritating in each other. The younger boy started throwing a fit, screaming and hitting and kicking. The mom tried to straighten them up and askedthem to stop. She reacted a little roughly, what I perceived as impatience, I look back on now and see fear. She was fearful that this would quickly escalate and get ugly fast. She was right. The older boy stepped to the end of the lane and quickly began ignoring what was going on. He was mortified. He looked tired and embarrassed. He was not an angel, but you could tell he was tired of dealing with his younger siblings fits. The little one kept on fighting an flailing and screaming. The mom was trying to write a check and he was pulling on her coat and kicking her legs. She was trying to write the check and ignore his behaviors. She "trapped" him between her body and the counter and finished writing her check. The checkout girl was getting info off her identification and the child kept going. The mom looked tired and worn out. She was obviously aware of the attention she was getting, but she never reacted to the stares. By this time the child had wrapped himself in her long coat and was stuck to her legs. He began to calm down. She said, "Let's go home and get some dinner."

The "before me" saw a mom who had no control of her kids. The "before me" saw a mom who was unable to stop her child from hitting her, a mom who was ignoring and had no idea what to do. The "before me" was sickened that she would say "Let's go home and get some dinner" instead of "You are grounded!". I remember walking up to the checkout girl and saying, "Lord, he needs a serious whooping!" And we chuckled.

How would the "after me" react? I would probably give her a knowing glance and tell her it is okay. I may even attempt to help disengage him. I would definitely explain to the checkout girl that I could be "that" mom and that my child is special needs.

I distinctly remember the day that this scenario became a part of my thoughts. We were in a hotel in Indianapolis that had a water park. We were eating in the hotel's restaurant and Dustin was carrying on. There were only a few people in the restaurant, but of course there was one family at the table next to us. Dustin had to be removed and Robert took him back to the room. I was left with the 2 little kids and an awkward silence. The mom at the other table locked eyes with me and I was mortified. I apologized and said he was special needs. She said, "I recognized that. I am sorry you had to deal with that at your dinner. We have been foster parents for years so I get it." Serious. The woman apologized that I had to deal with that at dinner, she wasn't worried about her dinner. She was worried about mine. That is kindness. That is compassion. That is what I want to be like. I instantly remembered that exchange at Target and I swore I would never make assumptions about parent's in a similar situation ever again.

My boy turns 16 this week. Sixteen years ago he was inside his mother's womb. A womb that is designed to be a protection from the world until he is ready to be born. His womb could not protect him from the alcohol that his mother chose to drink while pregnant.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Clarification . . .

The sectional was $350. The delivery fee was only $45. Still a steal for the condition of the couch. We are loving it! I don't think I have ever been able to cuddle on the couch with all my babies at once! :)

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The sectional . . .

I have been in the market for a sectional for a long time. I really wanted something different. Our last set of living room furniture was a leather set from craigslist, I got about 3 years ago. I got a loveseat and 3 club chairs for $100! It was a steal and I was thrilled to finally have leather that was easily washable with a little vinegar and water. The problem was that we did not have a sofa and I like to lay down every once in a while watching television.

(our previous loveseat from craigslist)

I have been checking out sectionals and we have been looking around. I did not want to spend a whole heck of a lot of money while we still have 3 kids and 2 dogs and a cat. I really wanted leather again, but Robert doesn't much care for it. However, after looking at a ton of options, he decided leather was the way to go for the dogs and kids. ( the cat is an angel! ) Last week we decided that we would have to go used since leather is so expensive generally.

I am a craigslist stalker so I thought I would just take my time and find something great. I found a sectional Friday night that was at a small town furniture store about 30 miles from here. We got up early Saturday morning and headed out in the horrible snowy weather to check it out. It is absolutely immaculate and is super comfy. I bought it immediately. We were looking for something darker but the price was right and they delivered to our town for only $45. Score!

She was delivered Monday morning and she did not fit in the spot we had in mind for the living room. Nice. I did get it in, but to move it away from the windows I will have to re-run the cable and move the tv. I will do that by the time spring rolls around so we can open the window. I posted this picture on facebook for friends and family to see.

Since then, I decided I wanted new drapes (there are dark bamboo blinds behind them) and a couple throw pillows. It's nothing too exciting, but I really like it.

What do you think?

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

My worst enemy . . .

If you use that little search tab up there on the left, and entered in the word "strep" I bet you would find a whole bunch of entries. I would be willing to bet that there were lots of complaining. You would find that I have a history of being a strep carrier. I get strep easily and heartily! It takes a couple doses of antibiotics to knock it out. My mom and my daughter are carriers as well. You would find that I have suffered from kidney failure due to strep remaining in my body for long periods of time. You would see that my daughter has had issues with strep induced arthritis. You would also see that we deal with Fifth's disease and Scarletina due to strep.

You may even see that I have had issues before with "strep nodes". I get small knots under my skin, usually my arms and calves, that are initially the size of marbles. They can get very large and actually be visible if left to go too long. One time it took me 18 months to get rid of them and once it took about 10 months.

All this is say . . . THEY ARE BACK! If you were anywhere near the tri-state area you may just have heard me scream! (Essie, did you hear me? De?) I got the doctor to call me out a script for prednisone and hopefully this works quickly this time. It is early. I don't have any in my legs, but about a dozen over both forearms. I am also gonna dose myself up with some of my natural remedies to rid my body of strep.

Pray this works. If not, look forward to some pictures this summer of Bumpy Sheri.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Here and There . . .

I have decided to blog whenever I feel like it. If people listen great, if not, okay. It is really more for me anyway. I LOVE your feedback (I have abig need for affirmation), but I have to admit that I am not a good comment-leaver either. I tend to read you all in Google Reader and it takes time and effort to click over to your blog and leave a comment. That may be changing since we recently got new computers at work and it does not take me 2+ minutes to load a normal blog layout let alone the 4+ minutes for all you fancy-pants blog designers! I am going to try to comment more. Lord knows I have plenty to say! *wink*

If anyone is interested in where I may be when I am not here, (how's that for cryptic) leave me an email at sherirouse at g mail dot com and I may share with you the big ol' secret with a little info from you if I don't know you.