Saturday, April 30, 2011

Avoidance . . .

When life gets hard I craft. I don't do anything in depth or fabulous, but I feel the need to create something. Life's been pretty rough and I needed a creative outlet today. I planted some more flowers, and got the garden planted after doing the entire front yard, the front bushes and the lawn of the vacant house next door last night.

We ran some errands tonight and Robert got a new mouse pad. He had been using a really crappy freebie from the National Guard that Dustin got when he was talked to by a recruiter from school. If you missed the rant that happened after that incident when my special needs child was told "He can aim good" you can find it here. I use my laptop on a cute little drop leaf end table I got out of someone's trash. I do not have a mousepad, I decided to give the old freebie a second life.
Here's the mousepad (you can tell it is thin, I am not certain a thicker one would work. I picked out a birdie fabric that I got in a fat quarter clearance pack.

I think that spray adhesive would work well, but I have a long history of bad luck with spray adhesive so I don't even have any on hand. I figured I would try to sew it on and see what happened. The presser feet fed the rubber backing through nicely.

Here was my first row. You can see I pinned the fabric at the edges.

I did 3 rows of stitches all the way around the edges and the fabric still moved around a bit in the middle so I did a row of stitches down and across the center. I then ran some fray check around the edges. I am not sure it was necessary, but I did it anyway.

There she is. Brand new mouse pad for Momma! (and an outlet for the crazies happening around here)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ugly . . .

I need some help. Since we have been home from Florida, Dustin has this immediate ugliness that rears it's head when he is asked anything. I not even talking about a chore. It can be something as simple as "Hey Buddy! How was your day?" He responds with a nasty, spit out comment. He is grouchy all. the. time. I have no idea how to deal with it.

Perhaps it is because he is on a "short leash" due to the Great Underwear Incident of April 2011 . Perhaps it is the bedroom switcheroo. Perhaps it is the medication change where we dropped a seemingly unnecessary medication. Perhaps it is the addition to his "family" with the fake baby at school. All of these things happened recently, but I am fairly certain this was happening prior to all this.

I think it could be the let-down after a particularly good vacation where he was separated from his siblings each night while they were at grandma's. He got pretty much full attention and got to do things he really enjoys daily. I think he may be bucking the system of normal. Hey, if I could live at the beach everyday I would too! I think this combined with be a TEENAGER is really messing with his hormones and his attitude. School has been particularly bad recently as well.

Yesterday we decided that playing with his Nintendo keeps him occupied and happy so we would allow him the break he needed to play it and keep busy. I don't know what else to do right now. He has to re-set himself somehow and get back into his routine. Lord knows I cannot do this through the summer.

I have to get past this ugliness somehow.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Burning Desire . . .

I have a desire. Maybe lots . . .

A desire to sleep through the night without children's knees in my back.

A desire to not have to have my child 2 feet from me every moment he is home and awake.

A desire to sit down and enjoy a dinner without getting a new fork, another napkin, more drink, and without saying "Keep your hands out of your sister's ear please."

A desire to spend an evening at home without constant chatter.

A desire to sleep as late as I want and wake without people poking me in the forehead and asking me for food.

Just once.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Choosing . . .

Obviously it has been a little rough around these parts lately. Last night Harrison had a meltdown at the book fair at daycare. It was ugly. He was tired because he did not sleep well Sunday night. McCartney was grouchy and angry. I took a step back and realized the stress in the house is affecting us all.

I need to be the adult and pull on by big girl panties. I HAVE to make this change. This morning was good. The kids all slept well and they were pretty pleasant. I changed my attitude this morning and things went much more smoothly.

I know that sometimes it's hard to live with kids like ours. I know it gets to us. We have to cut ourselves some slack, but the time comes when it is our job to change it up. Today was my time.

Will tonight be good? Who knows.

Will I do my darnedest to make it better by changing ME? Yes. Because we all know I can't change him.

I can only control myself.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The GOOD does come with the BAD and the UGLY . . .

I have been complaining a lot about Dustin and our life lately. I dawned on my this morning that I have not really been portraying him fairly. It is of course annoying to deal with these issues every day, but there are those positive times peppered in there as well.

Today is a gorgeous day. I got up early when I really wanted to sleep as long as possible. I took the littles to Lowes Build and Grow and found some lovely clearance annuals. I came home, planted them and power washed the front porch and siding. It has definitely lifted my mood having a springy, clean front porch.

While I was working, Dustin was fabulous. He is usually very good if given jobs constantly. As long as I can find something for him to do that he thinks is essential then he is happy. I can usually switch his mood by asking him to do something for me around the house even if it is picking something up off the floor. He helped me clear the porch and squeegie the windows, then we helped me put all the stuff back.

I am thankful for the GOOD today.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Oh hell no . . .

Dustin was very off today. He was irritated that there was no school due to Good Friday. He hates having his schedule messed up and he hates missing school even more. Both of those things made him very on edge and looking for a fight.

He irritated everyone around him today trying to get a rise out of them. For instance, after seeing one of those annoying Aflac commercials on TV, he must have said "Aflac" 300 times while we were all trying to concentrate on something. Ignoring did not work. He kept it up for about 10 minutes. It sucked. Trying to keep a child like this on a "short leash" is not fun. I have a wicked headache from all the issues today and I hurt my lower back trying to restrain him twice today. (I hurt my back a few months ago getting out of the car. You know you are old when you hurt your back getting out of a car.) Needless to say, we did not make it to the Good Friday church service this afternoon.

At one point, he ran into the other room (which is connected by a large arch) and said, "Moooomm. Commmmme ooonnnnn." and when I looked at him he was holding a bat in one hand and hitting it in the the other. It would've looked pretty threatening if you didn't know that it was a collapsible, plastic bat and that he couldn't hit the side of a barn with a missile. He did take a swing at McCartney, but she just tried to grab it out of his hands. He went running into the kitchen, still holding the bat yelling, "Help me Mom! She's gonna hurt me!" I had to hear about how he "doesn't want to live here", that he wished he was "never adopted", and he wants to go to "kid jail" for about 30 minutes while I fixed dinner. The whole thing was ridiculous.

He got his pills early, maybe he just needs a good night's sleep.

Shut up.

I can hope can't I??

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

No news is good news . . .

Nothing much to share here. Dustin has had a med change. Last week we had some issues with his state sponsored insurance all of the sudden not covering his very important anti-psychotic because he was on 2 anti-psychotics. The p-doc decided to take him off the Abilify to see if it is really necessary. I personally don't think it is so I was okay with that plan. Oddly enough he has been pretty darn good for the last 4 days. He is much more calm and less angry. I don't yet know if it is a fluke or it really is a good med change. We shall see . . .

The bedroom switch-up has gone well. Dustin is actually sleeping quite well and for longer periods of time. I think it was a good move. I know it has been better for everyone else involved, so I hope it holds out.

The biggest thing that has made an impact in or life lately is the security system. Ours is very similar to the one sold here. We ordered ours from Home Depot on-line as well. The best thing about it is that it rings at the base unit when the door is opened, not at the alarm sensor so we can take the unit downstairs and still hear when it goes off. The other plus is that it continues to go off once activated even if he re-shuts the door. He cannot fool us and he knows it. With the First Alert door sensors, the alarm goes off when the door is opened, but stops when the door is shut. He learned that he could open the door fast and the alarm would ring for a short period of time and if we did not wake up, he was home free! Also, this new system is activated and deactivated at the unit, not the sensor, so he is unable to turn it off. And trust me, it will wake the dead! I am a very hard sleeper and can sleep through anything and this thing wakes me up every time! I have a hard time entering the code to silence it because I am half asleep though!

Other than keeping Dustin right near us. things are pretty back to normal since the Great Underwear Incident of April 2011 . School has been having more difficulties and I received an email today telling me he was currently in ISS for spitting on another child. I have always said that our kids are only able to hold it together one place a day. Most times I would rather he hold it together at school and be a handful at home, but I need a break, so I am okay with school dealing with some crappy stuff lately! :) Their "Crappy stuff" usually pales in comparison to ours anyway, so I don't feel so guilty. ( I think this may be because I "outed" him to the school about the running. He was mortified to learn that I told his teachers about the incident and asked them to keep an eye out for any running behavior because he threatened he would run at school.)

The littles are doing okay. Harrison is doing great in school and it gearing up for the second half of standardized testing this next week. McCartney is struggling with coming back from a wonderfully hot Florida to a not so hot Indiana. She is mourning losing her sandals and sundress and has yet to lovingly embrace the winter coat. Hopefully it will start warming up around these parts next week, but I think we will still be battling the tank tops each morning for awhile.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Medication & Healing . . .

While I would agree that far too many Americans are on medications for mental health issues I think that, as one of those "using" I am thankful for them.

There are a couple different issues here. Let's talk about kids like Dustin. Dustin's issues go beyond "traumatized kid". They are stemming from organic brain damage caused in-utero by alcohol consumed by his mother. We are also dealing with mental illness that has been passed through his birth family. Schizophrenia is nothing to scoff at. Both his Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and his Schizophrenia make him a danger to himself or those around him when un-medicated. It is fairly safe to say that people would not argue with giving psychotropic meds to a child like this. That's not to say that we do not have to be careful and walk a fine line between safe amounts of medication and drooling, overmedicated zombie. Dustin in particular is VERY VERY sensitive to med changes and dosages. He suffers from a particularly dangerous reaction to higher doses of theses meds calle EPS. It can be life threatening and is NOT fun to witness and sometimes hard for professionals to diagnose.

Whenever Dustin is placed on a new medication I ask these questions:

1. What is it used for?
2. What positive results should I be looking for?
3. What negative results should I be looking for?
4. How long before I should see a change? When should I call you if I don't see a change?
5. How long does it take for the medication to get out of his system?

The last 2 I find particularly important since I need to know if a medication should begin working right away, or if it will take 3 weeks before I see the wanted results. That way, I can see if this medication will be effective or a dud. For instance, medications like Adderall are "in and out" in one day, where Zoloft may take 3-4 weeks before you see if it is effective. I also like the last question, so that I know if the medication has a half-life in his body. That one is particularly important for me since he typically has EPS reactions to medications. I need to know how long after he stops taking it will it still be affecting him.

The other issue is kids like my youngest son Harrison. Harrison is 8 years old and brilliant. This child was talking in full sentences at one year old, and reading words at three. He was reading for comprehension and enjoyment by four. When he was a kindergartner, he really started struggling with keeping his body still at school. He didn't look at you when you were talking, yet he could tell you everything you said. He was full of energy and was ALWAYS moving. I chalked most of it up to immaturity, because he was young for his grade and he had always been a little extra emotional. He started getting frustrated about not being successful in the social and behavioral aspect of school. He began getting very emotional about it. We started him on meds for ADHD. It made him a wonderful student in ALL ways. It has given him his self esteem back. It has been a blessing. Could he have lived without this medication? Sure. But he would not be the happy kid that he is now. He would not have the friends or the self confidence he does now. He would be "that" kid in the classroom. We have him on a fairly low dose and I do not think it is effecting him negatively. I think of it as giving him tools to be productive and the ability to restrain himself. Perhaps he can learn this on his own later after he masters how to calm his own body down, perhaps not.

Then we have the issue of my medication. My OCD went undiagnosed until I was 28 and married. I am so very thankful for the meds that helped me get that part of my personality under control and allow me to live my life to the fullest. I could survive with and OCD diagnosis and not have medication, but I would not be "free" to have the life I have now. I would be a slave to the compulsions and the obsessions.

I know that not all meds prescribed by doctor's are necessary, but wow, who am I to judge whether or not a drug could be helpful to someone. Would anyone ever begrudge a diabetic their insulin? Or a heart patient their blood thinner? It would be a no brainer. That medication is needed for them to live! Why are psychotropic drugs looked at as options by so many people instead of necessities?

And don't even get me started on people who say things like, "If your depressed, don't count on medication to help you, you just need to rest in God." Please! I have no issue with the power of prayer, but when we are dealing with a chemical imbalance, medication can help. Most of those people would never say to a cancer patient, "If you have cancer, don't do chemo, you just need to pray more."

Life is hard. Our world moves faster and faster each year. We strive to be better people, to make more money, to provide for our children. We struggle to keep up the pace and to not get weary. Marriage is difficult. So many of us are raising kids with issues. Our lives are spinning out of control in our fast paced world. In my opinion, it is okay to acknowledge our faults and our issues and treat them just as we would an illness. I don't see the harm in that.

Perhaps it is because I have lived it. I can see the danger or not medicating children with difficult issues. I have lived as that child trapped inside my own struggles with OCD and am now living virtually free of those chains as an adult. I have seen both sides. I can see the benefit and, gosh darn it, if I can help my child live a better life I will!

Let me fill you in quickly on my beliefs. I believe that Jesus is the son of God. I believe that he was crucified and rose again to save me. I believe that it is my responsibility as a Christian to follow his teachings. I believe that I am not infallible. I sin daily. I ask for forgiveness when mistakes are made and try the next day to do better. I believe God is a God of healing. I believe I will go to heaven when I die. That's it in a nutshell.

In addition to that I believe God is a God of peace. I believe he tells us to love others. I believe we are supposed to show people love and understanding and have tolerance. I believe that people have free will and while I may not agree with their decisions, I cannot judge them for making them. I believe that they will not consider my view on things if I choose intolerance. It is my job to be the hands and feet of Jesus on Earth with kindness, charity, benevolence and love being of supreme importance. I also believe that God knows what is best for me. I believe that things are done in His timing and because He knows the big picture, it's always best. I believe it's not my job to question that.

All that being said, I would love for Dustin to be healed. I have no idea if that is in the cards or not, but I don't pray for that. He was born with organic brain damage. I don't look at him like he is ill. I see him for who he is and who God allowed him to be. I accept him and his disability. Do I pray that he will get better, yes! But I never have prayed that the FAS goes away in the same way I have never prayed that Harrison's ADD goes away. Could God do that? I believe he could. Does that mean I don't have faith that he will do it for Dustin? I don't think so. God doesn't need me to heal him if he wishes.

I have faith that our life will get easier. I have faith that things will work out. I have faith that while I continue to trust daily in God that life will go easier than if I didn't. I rely on therapy, medication, kind thoughtful doctors, and lots and lots of patience. I pray for guidance and direction. I pray for peaceful spirits and a hedge of protection around my family.

Does that make me less of a Christian. I don't think so. I think God gives us things like therapy and medication to facilitate what he has for us. I think refusing psychiatric medication, chucking away therapy and simply relying on God to fix things is just as dangerous as those religious zealots who refuse medical treatment for illnesses.

Switch-a-roo . . .

I spent Saturday evening switching bedrooms. I am not sure yet if it was good idea. We tried to make a bedroom change a while back and it backfired, but so far this one is going well. Dustin moved to Harrison's room. Due to major anxiety, Dustin's psychologist suggested years ago that we create a corner for him in our bedroom. It was a god-send at the time. It was the only time in the many years that we had Dustin that he actually began sleeping thorugh out the night. Prior to that he would roam the house and get into numerous things. Once, I found him playing with matched in the living room. Scary.

We mixed things up a bit at home and now he is in his own room. With the new alarm system we have, we are immediately aware if he leaves his room. He is absolutely unable to fool his alarm system unlike others we have had in the past. He knows it. He hates it. But it works. He stays put because he knows he cannot get out without us knowing.

I am not sure if this is a good thing or I will be coming back here next week saying we failed and I spent another 8 hours moving rooms back like they were. The only way I would know is if I tried. Pray it works, it is a much better configuration.

This weekend went okay. He is never more than 2 feet away from an adult at all times. It is tiring, but oddly enough he was well behaved. He really didn't have too much of an attitude and he was mostly pleasant. It is as though he knows he has boundaries and he is comfortable in giving someone else the ability to control his actions. Subconsciously I think it makes him rest.

I took all three kids to church yesterday myself so Robert could rest. Lord have mercy! Our service is one hour. I am fairly certain Dustin asked me to go to the bathroom 1317 times! I just kept giving him the "mom eye" and lo and behold after church was over the urge passed. We met the entire family at a local Ice Cream Shop last night and one of the younger cousins who is a friend of mine on facebook said, "Dustin, glad to see you put some clothes on for us!" referencing the Great Underwear Incident of April 2011. Dustin was mortified. I think it was good for him to understand that people know what happens when you run out, acting the fool, in your drawers. He looked at me and I shrugged my shoulders and said, "This one is on you bud. Perhaps you shouldn't run out where people can see you." He was awfully quiet while we were there.

Will it change the behavior next time? Probably not, but it was nice to see some realization on his face.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Alexander's got nothin' on me . . .

Today was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Well, afternoon.

I got a call from Robert just before I was leaving work. He had taken Dustin and McCartney to the doctor. I had Harrison with me at daycare. He told me he and McCartney had been following Dustin on foot for nearly an hour. Dustin had ran out of the house.

In. His. Underwear.

Yes. I said that.

He was wearing a shell necklace from Florida, navy underwear and white crew socks.

He is 16 and nearly 5'8" tall. He is handsome and looks completely "normal".

Obviously he is not.

I told Robert to call the police, he had not yet called. Dustin was being very difficult and he was afraid they would take him to juvenile detention or to the local psych hospital or the children's home that deals with difficult behavioral needs. Any of these places would not meet any of Dustin's needs (since he is moderately mentally handicapped) and is wholly inappropriate for him. He has major abandonment issues and has been sexually molested in the past. Not a good combo for "juvy".

I drove home worrying about whether he was okay or not. I got a call from Robert telling me he called 911 and that the police were already chasing him having received phone calls from other people. (Robert: my son is running away . . . 911: Is he in navy underwear and white socks, sir? . . . Robert: Yep, that'd be him.) Dustin was running from the officer who had abandoned his car and was throwing rocks and sticks at the officer. The officer was having a difficult time chasing him. The officer kept loosing sight of him as he ran through alleys and houses. To make things worse, this officer is new to our circumstances. We have a few core guys who have been here many times and are well aware of Dustin's complicated issues. This gentleman was not and he was less than thrilled. We have a trail system in our city that goes along the rivers and runs right through our neighborhood. Dustin was running along the trail that is on a hill about 25 feet above the street. The officer was being trailed by kids on bikes that were asking "What's wrong with that kid? Is he psycho?". Robert and McCartney were behind them by about a block. Finally the officer got to him, grabbed his arm and tackled him. It took him almost 30 minutes to get him.

Robert called me as I was only about 3 blocks away. When I got there, Dustin was sitting on the ground with his hands in his head. He was covered in dirt and was yelling, "I wanna go to jail!" along with the ever popular "I don't wanna live with you. You all hate me!"

Warms a mother's heart.

I trudged up the hill and spoke with the officer with Robert. He took a report and told us that if he ever hit anyone or was aggressive they could take him and book him and have him spend a night in juvy. Another officer came up from a car and was one of the "regulars". He gave Dustin a talking to and reminded him that officers who do not know him could very well pull a gun on him if he acts like that again. It was a good talk.

Will it matter?

Probably not.

I took him home and Robert and the littles walked the 3 blocks home. He is fine acting like nothing ever happened. He is on a 2 foot perimeter. He is not to leave an adult and go farther than 2 feet from us. He is unable to go ANYWHERE including the bathroom alone. Whenever we go near a door, we position ourselves between him and the door. I do not know how long this will last, but it is a necessity right now.

Sometimes I hate my life.

My life is never boring.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Realization . . .

Dustin has started this thing. When I ask him to do something he just looks at me with his mouth hanging open. It makes me crazy. (I have been saying that a LOT lately) This happens even if it is something he wants to do, like "Dustin come eat dinner."

I have decided it is his only way of controlling the situation. He is playing me.

I ask. He stares. I ask again. He stares. I threaten. He does it. I am no longer doing that, that is simply letting him have more attention and he is "winning". Now, I am simply looking back at him and waiting. I told myself I would give him 30 seconds. Usually he will comply within a few seconds since he has figured out that I will not respond again.

Last night I asked him to turn of a light. He just stared at me slack-jawed. I waited and silently counted to 30. After 30 he was still staring me down and I got up, walked over to him and took his hand. I walked him to the light switch and used his hand to turn off the light. I then walked him back to the seat he was on and sat him down. No words, no pulling, no arguing. He was bewildered.

I win.

I did refrain from siticking my tongue out!

ARGH! . . .

I hate insurance companies. You know the med my child has been on for YEARS that allow the "people" in his head to remain hidden? They will nto authorize it today. You know, the med we only get enough for the exact amount of days until bloodwork is done? That one? They will pay for the bloodwork that is necessary every two weeks, but not the med. Really?? Seriously??

We rarely have trouble with our state sponsored medical care, so this one throws me for a loop.

I think I will drop him off at their office and they can live with the possibly dangerous and delusional child who's "friends" tell him to do stuff to other people. I betcha they would authorize it then!

Gravy . . .

Last night was awful. Dustin was difficult, non compliant and a pain in the arse. If you read the prior post you recognize that he was willfully disobedient. He continued to say things like "I am not a child! I am an adult!" He was still obsessed over the flour baby. Constantly worried whether she was being cared for at her partner's house. Worried something would happen to her. It was tiring and crazy-making.

I lost it at bedtime with the hubby. I felt like I had been pelted with bee-bees all night and poked with toothpicks and I was IRRITATED. Poor hubby took the brunt of it. Thankfully he gets it and it will be my turn soon enough. . .

This morning I had a glint of what was actually going on. When I asked him to get back in bed so the kids could finish getting ready and he could be out of their way, he shouted, "I am an adult! I can get up when I want!" I said, "No you are not." He replied, "Ms M says I am a father now! I am an adult!"

It clicked.

His paraprofessional has been "selling" this baby thing. She has been pretending it is real. She is telling him he is a father and he has to care for the baby. Holy Lord! This is a concrete thinker. This child now believes he is an adult and is obsessed over this sack of flour. It is not working. He swears this is real. I cannot fathom the thought process and how this seems okay.

I am beyond frustrated. I understand most kids would be fine with this, but he is not. I understand the process and I think it is a positive thing, but not for kids like Dustin. We are making these special needs kids, kids with low IQs, obsessed with caring for babies. These are flour sacks, they are easy to care for. All you have to do is keep them dry and not drop them . . . their FLOUR for goodness sake! They don't cry, they don't need food, they don't need changed. Are we sending the wrong message? Kids with the mentally capacity of 4 and the hormones of a 16 year old. Well able to make a baby, but babies cannot be tossed on the bed and pretend fed once a night.

And babies CANNOT make gravy!

I still have some humor left in me!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Seriously . . .

The last hour in my house has been horrid. The littles are sleeping. I am in my PJs. I made my rocking Chicken and Dumplings tonight. The dishes are done from dinner. We are watching DVR programs that were recorded while we were on our wonderful vacation.

So why has it been horrid?

Dustin is sitting in the chair across from my spot on the couch. He is driving me nuts!

D: "Mom, can I have a snack?"
M: "You just ate. No more tonight."
D: slapping his hands on the chair arms in a crazy rhythm.
M: "Please stop. You know that bothers me."
D: looks directly in my eyes and does it twice more.
M: staring at him
D: "Sorry Mom" followed immediately by hitting his heels on the floor in the same rhythm.
M: staring
D: "Sorry, I'll stop."
M: looking away at the TV
D:patting his chest for the dog to come to him (he is not allowed to have the animals)
M: "I hear you"
D: "What?? I didn't do anything" begins staring at me and still patting for the dog
M: "Seriously?"
D: "I'm hungry and you won't let me eat!"
M: ignoring
D: "You hate me!" begins playing rhythm on the chair louder and harder
M: "Nope, don't like your behavior."
D: 30 seconds pass. "Mom I love you. You're the best mom ever"
M: "I love you too. Please stop being difficult"
D: Staring in my face and banging his head on the back of the chair.
M: ignoring
D: Making fart noises while smacking his elbows.
M: ignoring
D: "Why won't you let me eat??"

This was rapid fire. This is the reason I nearly lose my cool every now and then. I can hardly take it! ARGHHHHHHHH!!

Okay, I feel better now! :)

Oil . . .

Lord have mercy! I wrote a bit ago about Dustin doing a project in school about taking care of babies. That in itself is dangerous territory for a concrete thinking, low IQ, FAS child who was abused. Trudging up feelings of abuse, abandonment, and all that by taking care of a "fake" infant is not my idea of a fun day!

His class is a classroom of Moderately Mentally Handicapped kids. They vary in abilities. Some of them are pretty darn close to acting like typical 16 year olds, they just have lower IQs. Dustin is of course on the other spectrum and acts like a 4 year old most of the time. They wanted to do a unit on caring for babies. I knew it was a bad plan for Dustin the minute I heard it. I thought it would be quick and we could brush it off. I had no idea they would be making flour sack babies and partner up to take care of their young'ins.

Last time I mentioned this I told you his baby was named "Oil". Swear. to. goodness. When I asked him about it he said it was named after the baby in Popeye. It took me a while to realize he meant Olive Oil and then I reminded him the baby was named "SweePea". He said, "oh, yeah." Robert and I have been quietly referring to the baby as "Gravy" (get it, oil and flour make gravy?!) It cracks me up, and sometimes laughter is by far the best medicine.

Anyway, Gravy Oil came home yesterday for Dustin's turn at caring for her. It was not pretty.

Let me back up. Dustin has issues with believing things are real that are not. He also has issues caring for things that he feels needs protected. A few examples: we once got him one of the Fur-real pets. The ones that you feed and they make noise and you have to put them to sleep. I thought it might help him with the nurturing issues. I was so very wrong! He became absolutely OBSESSED. The thing was ALIVE in his mind. He had to protect it constantly. He was always fretting about whether it was hungry, sleepy or needed him. He was a momma bear. That lasted all of 3 days until I could take no more. I put it in the attic. He kept trying to get in the attic, it was ugly! When he was really off-kilter and stressed he would always pretend he was a momma dinosaur who was protecting her eggs. He would "spit venom" at people who came near him. He would actually spit on people and lash out at them with his "talons" scratching anyone who walked by him. This one went on for well over a year.

So Oil? Not such a good idea. My other fear is that he is schizophrenic and I worry that when he begins talking to things that are not alive and pretending they are I think he can kind of slip into a psychotic state. I can see it. You can see it in his eyes. He kind of leaves reality. I really is frightening. Not frightening in the sense that he would hurt us, but frightening in the sense that he is not really "here" with us.

So Oil came home. Robert was wise and told him she needed to stay in our bedroom. He would run upstairs and feed her and burp her. I tried to keep him occupied so he would forget about her. As soon the kids fell asleep he began obsessing over bringing her down and being near her. I told him no firmly and he started yelling at me that she would die without being fed. I told him in no uncertain terms that a flour sack would be fine without fake formula. HE began to argue that I he was going to tell his teacher on me. He started to freak out that his baby needed a car seat for the bus and demanded I go buy one right then. Lord have mercy! Bedtime could not come soon enough.

This morning McCartney came into my room and Dustin began screaming. At first he was obsessed with always being near the baby. Then he began hollering at the littles about being near her. They couldn't even look in her direction without being screamed at. He would say things like "I am keeping her safe" and "You are not allowed to hurt her, she's mine". It was ugly. He kept talking to the baby and telling her "I will keep you safe. You are okay with me." It was a bit creepy.

The bus could not come soon enough and Dustin and Oil were out the door. (without a carseat! Gasp!) I sent an email off to his teacher. I understand if he has to do this project, but the baby will be put away when it is home. I wanted to let him know that if Dustin says I wouldn't let him do anything that there was a very good reason.

I am too young to be a grandma!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Lemon Cream Pasta with Capers . . .

Pasta With Lemon Cream and Capers

4 servings


1 tablespoon table salt

2 1/2 cups penne pasta, uncooked

1 teaspoon canola oil


2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 cup heavy cream

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon chicken base (see note)

1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons capers

For the pasta: In a pot, bring 6 cups water and 1 tablespoon salt to a full boil. Add pasta and cook for about 10 minutes, until al dente. Immediately drain pasta and cool in cold water. Drain water completely. Coat pasta with canola oil to prevent sticking.

For the Lemon Cream Sauce: In a stock pot, make a roux by melting the butter and stirring in the flour. Cook for 5 minutes on medium heat, stirring often to prevent burning.

To the stock pot, add the heavy cream, lemon juice, chicken base, lemon zest, kosher salt and black pepper. Whisk or blend to dissolve the roux. Heat to 200 degrees and simmer 15 minutes, or until thickened. Stir often to prevent burning.

Combine cooked penne with Lemon Cream Sauce and capers. Eat way too much!!!

(Adapted from Souplantation)

cross posted at Supper Slackers Therapy, my highly neglected recipe blog.

Three in two . . .

I just got off the phone with a mom I have never met face to face. She has a little one that has been diagnosed with FAS. This is ALL NEW territory for her. She needed someone to talk to who gets it. Someone who lives it. It was a joy talking to her.

This is the third mom that I have spoken to in two weeks time that needed a connection. This is a hard life!

She needed to here that we are not alone.

It is amazing how similar her child is to mine. He is a little guy. He is showing the same behaviors that Dustin did when he came to our home. After we talked for a bit, she said, "We have a long road ahead of us don't we." I said, "Yes. Yes you do." That is a sad thing. But us Trauma Momma's have one another as long as we use each other as a resource we will get through. I tried to share some strategies and some ideas with her. I explained that what works today may not work tomorrow.

We also talked a bit about how our perceptions of others has changed. It is amazing that once you live with a child that has a hidden disability how you change that judgmental attitude that you may have had for other parents in the past.

What advice would you have for a mom that recently got the FAS diagnosis?

Home, home with the rage . . .

We returned home on Sunday morning. It was a pretty good drive and we made great time, getting home in about 19 hours. Once again we avoided Georgia and for most of the night we were the only car on the road for miles.

As soon as we got home the fireworks started with Dustin. I began to hear the old choruses of "I don't want to live here." "Everyone here hates me." and "I need some fresh air" the last being code for I am going to run from the house. I have no idea why he felt like he did. He wasn't in trouble. He wasn't truly misbehaving that much. I suppose it is just something he does when he is here. I cannot figure it out.

I wanted to chat with him. Most of the time I get the same answer . . . "I don't know" which is both an avoidance AND mostly the truth. He truly has no idea why he does things or how he feels most of the time. But there are times when I get lucky and he is either lucid enough to give a good answer that gives me some insight into what he is thinking and how his mind works. This time I tried, I really did. I began asking him about Florida and how he behaved there. He did not scream once. He did not throw fits. He was fairly compliant. I reminded him of all these things. When I said, "You know, you can act like that here too." He began banging his head into the back of the chair and screaming, "Don't hurt me!" Holy Lord. he was completely off his rocker. I calmly talked to him about the windows being open this beautiful spring day and to knock it off. We chatted, but I got no real answers. He continued to throw things at the animals, holler and throw fits the remainder of the night. He annoyed his brother and sister and did everything he could to bother everyone in the house.

That is no joke. I got no real answers. I don't know why he does this. I don't know how his brain works. I love to be home after a wonderful vacation. I love to sleep in my own bed and love on my animals. I love to have things put in their place and get back into a routine. I really don't love seeing these behaviors again. I had no real ambition that they would be gone forever, but I really didn't miss them at all!

Friday, April 08, 2011

FAS in paradise . . .

I have been talking a lot about Dustin doing well this vacation. I want to clarify what "well" means. To us, anything that does not require a physical restraint (a hold) or drives me so insane that I want to jump off the nearest bridge as "well". He is still non-complaint to the extent that parents with "typical" kids would be over their limit. He is still impulsive to the extent that if he thinks about doing something he is doing it before he is able to process the consequences of the actions (If he is even able to see the consequences, which is next to never). He is still overly obsessed with "fishing" to the point of wielding 2 nets in the water and walking up the shore and down the shore talking to himself about catching fish (I call him the "net ninja"). He is still talking CONSTANTLY to the point of wanting to poke your own ears out with a stick. He is still indecisive too the point of wanting to toss him over the drawbridge at John's Pass.

All of those things are something that we deal with on a daily basis. They are minimal in comparison to the wango-tango that we could be dealing with away from home. He is not running. He is not too obsessed with food and he is not melting down. He will likely save all that for home and this next week will be our punishment for all the fun things we did this week. But I will be more prepared to deal with that in my own element at home!

My least favorite behavior that I have dealt with this week is the nagging. It begins the second we get up in the morning when he starts in about going to grandma's. As soon as we get to grandma's he is nagging about leaving for the beach. We are not at the beach more than 20 minutes when he begins to nag about going back to the condo's pool. As soon as the pool time is over he begins to nag about dinner and hunting for lizards. Oh. My. Word. I can barely stand it. I ignore it for as long as I can then I blow my top and tell him to HUSH. He usually walks away from me grumbling about me.

All in all I couldn't have asked for a better vacation. This is the best we we have had so far. I think I owe that to the littles being able to sleep at Grandma's (nannie's) condo and him having some one on one down time. I am so very grateful.

Day 7 . . . Reddington Beach Stingrays . . .

Awesome! These guys were in a pack of about 24. You could look down the beach and see the tips of their "wings" poking up out of the water as they propelled themselves down the waterline. They would come up to about 8 inches of the shoreline. The little ones would do a little flip when the waves crashed. It was amazing.

Day 7 . . . Reddington Beach Birds. . .

Today we headed just a bit north to Reddington Shores. The beach there is much more fine sand and the water was a bit rougher. It was a STUNNING day for our last full day here. The kids played in the sand, the water and OF COURSE Dustin tried to catch fish. (When haven't I seen him in the ocean with a net, or two?)

The birds there were beautiful and not quite as annoying as the ones down on Madeira Beach. They were more occupied with the fish in the water than with our treats on the beach . . .



Thursday, April 07, 2011

Day 6 . . . Part 2 . . .

For Henry . . .

Day 6 (Sunset Beach) . . .

Today we drove back to Sunset Beach to do some shell hunting. (it's only about 10 minutes south of where we are) It was gorgeous! We walked the beach looking for shells and saw tons of dolphins. Dustin has amped up with the constant chatter. I am pleased he is fairly compliant, as long as I find things to keep him busy with (far away from me) he is better. It was a beautiful morning . . . now for the pictures. . . .

Daddy and daughter walking the beach.

Nannie and McCartney with their feet being buried by the waves.

Harrison and Daddy

Looking for fish AGAIN. (whatever keeps him occupied!)


Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Day 5 (So thankful for family) . . .

Before we came down here this time, Robert got back in contact with a long lost cousin through facebook. Her momma is Robert's aunt Elva. I have only met Elva once, at a family reunion way back in 1999. When we got here, Robert called her and they came by today. Elva was shocked to see "Bobby" since Pete (Patricia) brought her over without telling her who she was visiting. It was priceless, and it was a wonderful visit. My kids took to her immediately. McCartney was absolutely enthralled with Pete and never left her side. It was very sweet. What a joy to reconnect with family that you haven;t seen in a very long time!

McCartney and Dustin with who they know call Aunt Pete. (truly second cousins)

Robert and Aunt Elva

We spent the rest of the day at the pool. Harrison has a wicked sunburn on his face so we stayed in for most of the hot sun hours. We headed over to the beach at sunset and then came back home and ate over at the water of the inter-coastal waterway right outside our condo.


Beautiful sunset on the beach.

Dustin had a much better day today. Other than the constant chatter that DOES. NOT. EVER. STOP. But the compliance and the impulsivity was much better. He did pretty well. I am certain he drove Pete bonkers with the constant talking, but she was sweet and patient and kind. He enjoyed the pool immensely today and even began to swim a bit on his own! It was a pretty impressive doggie-paddle when you consider he has never been able to keep himself afloat at all. He could doggie paddle for about 10 feet at a time. I think with practice he could actually swim fairly well. Cheers to accomplishments!

Day 4 . . . .

Major storms today. We spent the day shopping with Nannie. We hit the GIANT goodwill and a couple other places. We decided to head to another beach near here, Sunset Beach, that is known for its shells. We didn't get a whole lot, but the beach was amazing. We will definitely be heading there again this week.

For dinner we went to a place called Sweet Tomatoes. Holy Lord, it was amazing! It is a wonderful salad bad with soups and pastas and breads. Harrison woke up this morning and informed me that he wants to eat there again tonight! Yummo!

Day 3 . . .

Seriously. I should know better. I just told you how well Dustin was doing and today . . . well, today . . . sucked. By the upside is that when it sucks in paradise, you are STILL in paradise! We spent the entire day Monday at the beach. It was very windy since a storm was blowing in and the waves were awesome. The kids had a blast playing in the waves and building sandcastles.

Dustin drove me nuts. He was VERY impulsive and VERY indecisive. Here's an example: Dustin: Can I have a sandwich? Me: We have bologna. Dustin: Ok, can I have one. Me: Sure. Dustin: I don't want a stinkin' balogna sandwich!! and then he would take off running to the water saying fowl things to me. This lasted ALL day. I just got to the point where I was pointing at him to go back to the water as soon as he headed in my direction. He spent most of the day wandering up and down the beach mumbling to himself and yelling at his siblings that they just scared away the fish he was trying to catch. He was not a whole lot of fun to be around. But once again, how can you have a bad day sitting on the beach?