Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hot Dog Spaghetti . . .

How fun is this? I saw this on a friend's facebook page today and had to try it out! I knew my kids would love it.

All you need is hot dogs* and spaghetti.

Cut up the dogs and get ready to get your old Kerplunk skills out. (Didn't you just hate sticking all those sticks in the game before you could even start? I did!)

McCartney is my tried and true kitchen assistant. She really liked this project. All you do is stick the uncooked spaghetti through a piece of cut up hot dog. We did 5 spaghetti noodles per piece.

Then you make a silly toothless picture to amuse your mother.

Then you have a plate full for really funny looking things.

Dump them in some boiling water for about 10 minutes.

Then you get this!

The kids really wanted to put ketchup on it, but I couldn't handle the thought. They ate them really well without condiments.

*Don't lecture me about the evils of hot dogs. (I mean come on, I bought the nitrate free ones!) I was raised on hot dogs since my grandfather worked the "weiner machine" as he called it as Eckrich when I was little.

crossed posted at my recipe blog.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Stomach Ache . . .

Today I have a stomach ache. I had to write a letter to Dustin's school about an issue I have with his 1:1 paraprofessional. She is causing problems at home with the discussions she and Dustin are having at school. I know it is not intentional, but she just doesn't understand.

You have to understand that Dustin is a completely different child at school than he is at home. The issues he has at school are completely different from home, they always have been. He compartmentalizes his life. He is by no means perfect, he is just different. They don't see the child I do. He even talks differently. He does however triangulate. He likes to tell false stories to us about the staff and vice versa. He makes stuff up. He will tell them about trips to a store that we have never been to. He will tell them I don't let him do certain things that they are asking him to do. He tells us that Ms. M (his aide) tells him we shouldn't ask him to do certain chores.

Lately it has been getting worse. He keeps using the phrase, "I am not a child. I am too big to do that." I knew that was something he was hearing because it is always said the same way and that is not typical for Dustin. His speech and processing disorder causes him to jumble phrases unless it is specifically said to him over and over and over. So I know this is being said to him. The phrase in itself is fine. I am certain they are reinforcing to him that he is growing up and the childish things need to stop. The problem is that somewhere along the line he has generalized that to what his parents are asking him to do.

Last night we had a very big blow out with him. It was close to bed time and I asked him to get himself ready. He said, "Ms. M said I should sleep downstairs on the couch." That is not going to happen. He sleeps behind alarmed doors. He is not safe to be unsupervised at waking times, let alone times when we are all asleep. He will hurt the animals, the other kids, or play outside at 2:00 in the morning. He will burn my house down playing with matches, or take the van for a spin. I asked when he had this conversation and it took my about a half and hour to get some information from him since he kept saying I am not supposed to tell you. It was a private conversation. (another phrase he would never use) He said, "She says I am old enough to shoose where to sleep."

Turns out, he and Ms. M have been discussing his dreams daily. This is a major issue with his schizophrenia because we have learned he will stay in reality more if we do not talk about his dreams. We usually say, "I am sorry you had that nightmare, remember it is not real" and move the conversation along. If we discuss them he obsesses over them and reverts to a non-reality state. He tells me that yesterday they talked about a dream that involved a sexual reference. ( so not appropriate conversation for school for my 4 year old minded /15 year old son) Turns out she suggested that he sleep somewhere differently to change things up. Not a choice!

My issue is, this not only is NOT her business, but not something he can process. Now he is pissed at me because I have said no. I know she did not intentionally try to cause issues, but she really should know better than to discuss these things with him. While I appreciate the kindness and concern she shows him, a child such as Dustin can really confuse parental authority if he is receiving mixed signals. She has no idea what happens in our house and she should keep her nose out of it. In my opinion school is for school and you should not be discussing MY HOME at school. Apparently this has been happening fro some time and it explains his angry responses and non-compliance as of late.

I wanted all this is writing so I wrote his teacher of record a letter today outlining my concerns. I tried to be complimentary, but firm in my expectations. I know there are only 15 days left of school, but this needs to be dealt with. I hope it is received in the manner it was intended.

Am I over reacting? Should I have let it go?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Experiences . . .

When I was young I was very shy. I never expressed my own opinion and I rarely spoke up in a group. I did however have a strong penchant for non-conforming. I liked things that others thought were crazy and I didn't care what others thought about it. I enjoyed being different and I always looked for clothes, books, and music that was definitely not mainstream (hello! I have pink hair at 39 years old!)

When I was in college I started developing my own voice, but it wasn't until I was about 22 years old that I developed the ability to express what I really thought. I had a friend named Angie who brought me out of the shell that was Sheri into a woman who could express her mind and give you her opinions. I became comfortable enough with who I was that I could let people know. This strained a relationship that I had, but it was in need to straining.

Starting in high school I had a friend I was close to. She was pretty, popular and vivacious. Everyone loved her. She grew up in a home that was very strict and protective. She rebelled. We remained friends through college and got our first apartment together. We lived together for 4 years. She was horrible to me. Even though she was younger than me she spoke down to me. She never touched the house, I cleaned everything including her awfully messy bedroom. I did most of her laundry. Her boyfriend basically lived with us, ate our food, used our toiletries and never paid one red cent. When he was working she had various other friends who would "stay over". Everyone raved on how gorgeous she was. I never thought she was pretty. I saw the ugly side of her. She was selfish and mean and disloyal. She lied and manipulated to get what she wanted from who she wanted. As I look back on that time of my life I am embarrassed that I took all that for so long.

I think it was like I was living in domestic abuse situation (to a much lesser extent). I couldn't really see it for what it was until we parted ways. Her sister moved in with me and I was horrified at the things she told me. It turns out all along that all the immoral and hateful things she was doing she was telling the stories to her family as if I was doing them. I truly feel it was a way to cleanse her conscience of her activities. I was sickened. It only took about a month for her sister to learn the truth.

This cemented me into a person who was unafraid to tell people what I think. I have no tact. If I think something it comes out of my mouth. I think this helped me be a better advocate for Dustin. I was able to not only express his needs, but make people understand what we are dealing with. I am able to tell the schools that what they are planning is not going to work. I am able to tell the public that my child is different. I am able to deal with stares and gawking with truth. I am able to speak out against the evils of drinking while pregnant. I have a voice. I have found a platform, it is finding my child's needs and trying to assure there are fewer like him.

This leads me to today. Well, not so much today, as lately. Lately, I have been finding myself at war with my initial response to things. I find someone posting something that trips my trigger and my initial response is "Oh, give me a break!" and yet I find myself tempering my response. I am learning to think about what others may be experiencing first. I am learning that not everything we write is all inclusive to our home experiences. I don't always know the whole story when we read a venting blog post. I don't always know their backstory and their experiences that made them who they are today. I have found myself becoming . . . wait for it . . . nicer!

I am not sure if it is age, or just growth that has made me less cynical and less quick to respond, but whatever it is, I like it. I think it has a lot to do with education. You blogging friends have educated me that not only am I not alone on this journey of raising special kiddos, but I don't know it all. I have found myself giving others the benefit of the doubt far more often than I used to. I am also realizing that it makes me a happier and way more pleasant person. I like that person so, thank you.

What is your blogging experience, has it changed you? How?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Honesty . . .

So, I was reading over at Kelly's blog about her frustration with a child's lying. I started writing a big, long comment and decided it morphed into a blog post.

Now, I am well aware that my world may be a different than most, but here's what our life is like with regards to lying. . .

I have a thing about truth. I do not lie. I am honest to a fault. I also have very little tact, but perhaps that is a post for another day! I detest lying. I would rather be irritated you did something stupid than not be able to trust you because you are a liar. I am a pretty good judge of truth-sayers and liars. I can usually ferret out a lie a mile away. Maybe it is 20 years in daycare, but kids can rarely get away with a lie from me . . . my husband is a horrid liar so he doesn't even try!

Dustin is a liar. It is compulsive. He will have pudding on his face and in his hair: he could have the spoon in his hand and the lid could be stuck on his forehead and he would swear he DID NOT have pudding. He will see me watch him hit the dog and look at my face and say, "What? I didn't touch the dog." His favorite thing to say is, "I did not do it, I was at school". He will say this even if it is Saturday. He is a blatant liar and a sneaky liar too. He refuses to tell the truth even when I say "I know what you did, I saw you" and even when I tell him the truth. He will lie till his toes curl up and die!

In my opinion the problem is two fold. One part is definitely brain damage. He has no object permanence, he cannot fathom how I would know he ate pudding if I did not see him do it. Here is an example from this weekend. Robert sent him downstairs for a cup of 7Up Saturday night. He took forever to come back upstairs. We knew he was getting into something. We did not know what. We were tired and did not care to fight about getting the truth. Sunday morning I cam downstairs to a HUGE sticky spot on the floor. A spot the size of 3/4 of a 2 liter of 7Up. When he came downstairs I asked him about it and he said, "I didn't do it." I said, "Dustin I know you spilled the 2 liter and you are not in trouble. It was an accident. I just want to tell you next time to let us know so we can clean it up before it gets sticky." He still refuses to 'fess up. I let it go. He knows. He knows I know. That is enough. Later, he said to me, "I thought it was disappear before you saw it."

It took me years to decide in my own mind that that is enough. I very rarely punish or give consequences for lying anymore. It wasn't working so why was I doing it?? It went against every grain in my body, but I had to give it up. It was doing nothing more than making me irritated and it was simply proving to his warped sense of fairness that I could not be trusted.

That is the second part in my opinion . . . TRUST. You cannot have honesty until you have trust. These kiddos are so broken and damaged to varying extents. If the child cannot trust how that adult will react, how can they bring themselves to be honest? Honesty tends to open them up for disappointment. Trust takes a LONG time.

Many of you will have varying degrees of success with squelching the lying. I am not sure that Dustin will ever trust us enough to tell the truth. I have decided that I need to accept where he is and it has to be enough for me.

What's your experience with lying? Any success?

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Questions . . .

K. . . .mom asked about our summer plans.

I am trying to finalize those this week. I haev a crazy schedule in the summer here at daycare. I do NINE field trips a week! Seriously. We have 4 groups and they rotate rips days. It is fun and makes the weeks fly by, by WOW is it ever exhausting. I usually don't get to take much time off in the summer but since we have a strong group of staff that have worked the program for several years, I can sneak some time off here and there.

I began searching yesterday for a hotel in Washington D.C. for he July 4th weekend. I am so excited. I love the city and to be there to celebrate the birth of our nation thrills me. We went to D.C. 2 years ago on Spring Break and had a FAB time! I can't wait to walk the mall, and see the history. . .

Essie asked about my favorite dessert. Tiramisu, hands down. Gee thanks, now I am craving it! :)

A new day . . .

Today Dustin did not go to school. He had a field trip downtown at our local baseball stadium. There is not a game, they were going to see the stadium and then to Dairy Queen. The officer last night suggested that he not go anywhere in public for a while as a punishment, but also as a precaution. I immediately thought of the field trip.

Robert called the school this morning and spoke to Dustin's TOR (teacher of record). Robert explained what had happened last night and suggested that he be held back at school with his paraprofessional instead of accompanying them on the field trip. He agreed, but said that there would be no one else there and when his para took her breaks ( she works 5 hours and gets 2 breaks) he would be alone. He suggested he stay at home and Robert agreed.

Here's to hoping he doesn't take off today!

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Run, Run, Run, Run, Runaway . . .

Oh blog fates. I dared tempt you. I said I was bored with blogging and you gave me something to blog about. Thanks, but I would've rather been bored. . .

Tonight I was tired. I have been craving a local mexican restaurant and I knew that tomorrow, being Cinco de Mayo, it would be busy so we went tonight. Afterward, Robert asked if I wanted to walk around KMart. We only have 2 in town and we NEVER go there, so I thought I would see if there was something for my mom for Mother's Day. I did, but I didn't get to buy it and I am not going back! I bet you can guess why. . .

McCartney and I were in the shoes and Robert came down and said, "Dustin is gone."

They were in the sporting goods and he asked for a fishing pole. Robert said, "No, we have some in the basement" and he took off. I had a bad feeling. I walked down the main isles and towards the garden shop. He had not gone out that way yet according to the guy working out there. I explained that I had a special needs son and he had run away from us. I asked if he went out this door that he stop him. He said he would.

I saw him toward the front in the towel section. He took off. Where do you think he ran. That's right, straight to the garden shop. I was not too far behind, but I didn't see the guy working pass the door. He was in the back so he didn't get in between him and the gate in time. Off he went. I tried to catch him but let's face it, I am asthmatic and fat. There was no chance. The worker took off and chased him, but it was too late. He ran into the parking lot almost stopping my heart and then across the front of the store. The guy said he passed the front door and toward a run down, crappy, scary hotel that is next door to the store, separated by a strip club. Nice neighborhood.

I freaked out. He was gone! I called the police.

Here's where I should mention that an old friend of mine does security for KMart. My husband called my from inside the store and said Chris was working and was checking the video to see if he had come back inside. Shortly thereafter Robert called from the back and said that the men's bathroom was locked and no one was answering. Chris got the key and low-and-behold Dustin was inside. I lost it. He was smashed up by the toilet and was hollering that he wanted to go to jail or the hospital or anywhere other than home. Nice. So here I am sweaty, crying (not a pretty crier!), red faced and panicked, AND on the men's bathroom's floor of the local KMart with my 14 year old son and a man I have been friends with for 22 years. It was definitely and odd scene.

I called the police to cancel the 911 call. A short time later I get a call from 911 communications saying that the police do not want to leave without speaking to us. Great.

We get him off the floor and to the front door. The officer was waiting for us and Dustin was freaking out. He looked familiar to me but we have had a parade of about 30 officers in and out of our life in the last year and a half since this running business has started. He said he was the officer that found him in the abandoned house last spring. He gave Dustin a "talking to" about this and sent us on his way.

When we got home, he gave me a poem and an art project for Mother's Day. Could that have been tonight's trigger? Who knows.

Bored . . .

I am bored with blogging right now. Anyone have any questions? Not too much is off limits.