miracles

30 09 2010

This is just a small update after dealing with all the frustrations.

The oldest child had his meds upped and we met his new CSI last night.  It’s been going really well for him.  There’s still a lot of taking a step forward then falling right back down, but when he met the new guy last night he was shy at first but by the end of the visit was giddy and playful.

It helped that Abbie fell completely and totally in love with him.  A man that is good with dogs – especially serious, jumpy dogs – is a man I’d trust to advise my kid.  I trust Abbie’s judgement and she never barked or growled at him.  She went right up to him and put her nose under his hand.  Abbie just does not do things like that.  After she responded so well, LJ started responding well.

Anyways, a CSI is like a mentor with a degree and experience in therapy.  Chickpea has one and the results have been mixed, but she likes having the extra support during the school day.  I also get more reliable information ABOUT the school day from her CSI.

I like this program quite a bit.  Mentors are a great thing but with special needs kids you need trained professionals with experience in the hard things.  You couldn’t take a normal person and ask them to deal with the things my kids go through.  Gentle support and unwavering availability won’t work.  They need advice and coping skills that WORK.  They need more than an older friend.

LJ has needed a male mentor for a while.  Shaun and I are great geek parents but as far as making friends or building social skills, we suck pretty damn bad.  We grew up wanting the same things LJ wants – friends, to be a part of something, someone to talk to who really knew us and had our backs.  We never really figured that out.

We also needed someone for LJ who could show him that he could be a sensitive male and still have male friends.  Boys at this age are assholes.  My response to boys (as a very small girl and later, small woman) was to “man up.”  I took my respect and kicked ass along the way.  I made sure that I could do anything they could do, and then I did it better.

In school, Shaun made sure he was the biggest threat around and then those who could stand up to him and WITH him got to see the real him.  The part that is smart and funny and kind.

LJ just doesn’t have that sort of camouflage.  I don’t know if I want him to get hurt badly enough to build it either – to learn to separate who he is from who he seems to be.  It’s a hard lesson and I’m not sure it’s necessary.

However it turns out, it will be fine.  He’s got a good brain and learns incredibly fast.  He’ll figure it out but now he’ll have a new tool.

Chickpea had her meds changed and she’s doing better.  She’s not as belligerent and restless, which is very nice.

I went to her parent/teacher conference a couple weeks ago and saw her work.  Now I know why her teachers aren’t that concerned with her.  Her work is head and shoulders above other kids her age.  Her handwriting is perfect.  Her Spanish is PERFECT.  Her writing skills are amazing.  Her comprehension skills are spot on.

It looks like she’s sloppy about things at home but I guess that’s just because she’s already bored with it.

She’s in a special school BECAUSE of her intellect and her knack for causing trouble if she’s not challenged.  (Sounds a lot like me, doesn’t it?)  She’s gone and blown it all away and now her challenge is in social skills.  I don’t think she cares, though.

When she got home from school that day I told her “if you keep doing work like I saw today, I don’t really care how you act.”  I’ve always believed that if you’re good at it, you don’t necessarily have to be good.  If you’re not that good at it, then yeah – your behavior is what your survival depends on.

Oddly, since that conversation her behavior at school has dramatically improved.  It may be the medicine or it may just be that she knows it won’t get a rise out of me any longer.  Oh, the joys of attachment disorders…  now she’ll have to come up with a new plan to piss me off.

The boys spent the night with my dad and we took her to get her hair cut and nails done as a reward for the good work.  She ended up having enough hair to donate to Locks of Love and she LOVES her new haircut – a chin length bob.  We went to dinner and had an actual conversation with her.  It was amazing.

This morning as we waited in line to drop her off at school, I was showing her my new purse.  Shaun was totally unimpressed with it, so I needed some girly reassurance. 😉  She saw my little rollerball perfume – Fracas – and wanted to smell it.  I dabbed some on her and now she’ll smell like Mommy all day.  She giggled and blushed.  I dabbed some on me too and I’ll smell like Chickpea all day!

The youngest had his intake to the therapy group last week and will meet with the therapists and psychiatrists in the coming weeks.  Hopefully it makes a change for him.  He’s having a lot of trouble at school in just about everything.

Last night I caught a glimpse of the little guy I held when he was 2 and first came to us.  He fell asleep in the floor before bath time and when I woke him up he was so cuddly.  His little angel face was just precious.  I got him bathed and then got his lotion on him and he kept falling asleep in my arms.  He’s so big and I can tell he wants to be small again and curl up in my lap.  It’s moments like that – moments where he’s completely trusting and relaxed – that I savor.

This morning he was snuggly.  He loved on everyone and gave big hugs and just wasn’t as mad as he’s been lately.  It seems like falling asleep in Mommy’s arms is what a lot of us need.

It’s definitely what Mommy needs!

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maximum redundancy

16 09 2010

Maximum redundancy is a good thing.  Not only in data storage but in parenting… which is weird.

I say a lot that kids need to be more like computers.  Computers may speak a foreign language, but it’s easier to learn and it doesn’t care if you’re having a particularly crappy day.  Computers act in predictable methods depending on input.  Good data in, good data out.

Kids are more like “good data in, good data in, good data in, GOOD DATA IN, GOOD FREAKING DATA GOES IN, DAMMIT GOOD DATA FROM MULTIPLE USERS ALREADY!!!”

The odds of good data out and bad data out are 50/50.

User error has very little to do with what the kids end up doing.

Then, this week, my main server got a virus and reminded me that computers are more like children than I thought.  It wasn’t a regular ole get caught in the strainer virus – it infected the virus software itself.  Now every time I load or try and connect to a virus or mal-ware scanner it kicks itself of the internet.  Everything works FINE until a virus software runs.

The original software to get eaten was Avira.  Fail.  The virus even latched on to the uninstall exe.  Next was AVG.  Fail.  Windows security.  Fail.

I had 1.5 TB in that machine and now all are being quarantined in a cardboard box until I figure out what this shit did.  I pulled all the essential data off onto flash sticks and those went into the cardboard box too.

The moral of the story is that it’s OK to be OCD when it comes to your computer stuff.  You’re the only one who cares that you have 50 flash sticks with different info (and the same info) on each one.

Next I’m going to update everything onto another set of flash sticks and put them all in my fire safe with my birth certificate and marriage license.

If that wasn’t enough geekery, read on.

Why flash memory?

CDs and DVDs don’t hold as much information and the burn process (and surface) are easy to SNAFU.

Portable hard drives have a disc inside that can be shaken and broken.  (Try it.  It’s possible no matter what the geeks at the Apple store say.)  I have a flash stick on my keychain that has 800 ebooks on it.  It’s pretty hard to kill.

Flash on a USB 2.0 is universally compatible with all OSs and most machines.  It also plugs into quite a few car stereo systems, most video game machines, TVs, WD TVs, your mom…

Small amounts of data on separate but redundant sticks reduces the chance of a bad file killing all the other files on the memory.  If it does happen, the data is still safe elsewhere.

Flash is relatively inexpensive.  Target has some toys with flash memory inside that are $15 for 4G.  They’re also skateboards.

Skateboards with flash drives.

The world is a better place for that.

As for the kids… all I can do is keep on repeating!





like a tap on the shoulder

30 07 2010

When I first started the change from Effexor to Savella, I bought several books – one of them being The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner.  There was also a David Baldacci book in that stack and he gets top billing EVERY time so it wasn’t until I was well into withdrawal – whoops – discontinuation syndrome that I picked up The Neighbor.

I started reading the first chapter and it scared me so badly I sat it back down.

Then, all this drama of the past few weeks happened.  Me and the meds.  LJ and the recurrence of the PTSD.  Trying my best to help with my sister’s wedding next week.  Chickpea and PTSD.  E being a 5 yo boy with too much energy and not enough people to torture.

Two days ago I had nothing to read in the bath (and I desperately needed a bath) except for the book that scared me.  I thought I could handle it and I put on my brave face.

POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT

Then I started reading and I found in Jason Jones the man I’m worried LJ will grow up to be.  Scared.  Scarred.  Able to love, but not able to connect sexually with the woman he loves.   Driven with need to pull back the privacy and pain he lost as a child.

I also found part of myself in Jason.  The hours online, needing to make things right.  The research.  Reading hand written notes from court cases.

See, this is how I found LJ.  A&E were separated from him around foster home #4 or 5 and he went to a group home (read: orphanage) and they went to an agency foster home.  Years passed.  Files were misplaced.  Siblings who remembered someone else being with them weren’t documented any longer.

A&E came to our home 3 days after we found out that the placement we were hoping for (we were adoptive parents with a foster care license) wasn’t going to work out.  They weren’t available for adoption – yet – but they’d been in care for so long that in case they did become available the agency wanted them to not have to move again.

Shaun and I said yes without meeting them and only seeing a file.  That Friday, they walked in to the agency, and their foster mom gave me the most precious gift she could have: her records from their time in care.  The file we had wasn’t correct in a lot of ways – their ages were wrong, names were missing, and it didn’t mention siblings.

Turns out there are 7 children that the state knows about.  The 3 oldest are with a biological father, then a middle child from another father, then A&E, then a baby who went to another home.  What happened to the missing middle child?  He would be about 7 years old from my estimation.

It took weeks for me to find his name handwritten on an old case file.  About a month to find out where he was.  Several months to convince our agency and DFCS that bringing him back to his siblings was a good idea.  I wrote a letter to the governor.  I testified in court.  I spelled my full name in front of the bio parents at the TPR hearing.

We found experienced therapists and got a new psychiatric evaluation done.  He had been classified as mentally handicapped, PDD-NOS, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and some other bullshit.  (His IQ is in the 120s and since he’s been with us he no longer qualifies as a delayed/disabled child at his school.  The current diagnosis is PTSD due to severe neglect and abuse and ODD with delays in social skills.)

I used every trick I knew to get information and I used it all.

It was because once I started looking I found I couldn’t stop.

I just finished The Neighbor and I like to read acknowledgement pages.

God tapped me on the shoulder.

I stared in shock.

Ms. Gardner had interviewed and thanked two people from the very county we adopted from.  The county where that group home is.  Two names I haven’t seen before.

I haven’t yet been able to bring justice to their doors for what happened to MY son but now I have a few more places to look and a few more emails to send.  If nothing else, maybe I can find some more files that will help with his therapy.

Tonight, I’ve left a comment on Lisa Gardner’s facebook page.

Tomorrow, I’ll start following the leads that dropped into my lap.

This is what I do.





the magic show

10 06 2010

Yesterday, as part of the summer reading program at the library they had a dude come in and do a magic show.  It was great and the kids really loved it.  I came away with different thoughts about each of my babies from watching them.  It’s a sense of pride to see them interact with the mass public and know that I had a lot of influence on how they interact.

Today is the 1 year point of our kids’ adoption.  For one year, they have been forever OURS.  I love that watching them interact and respond to things, I see Shaun and myself.  They’re listening and growing and they are part of us.  Our little family of 5 – we’re US.

LJ sat in between Chickpea and E.  He smiled when something was cool and he would lean forward and plug his ears with his fingers when the little kids would laugh and scream.  He doesn’t like large groups of people and I don’t blame him!  Afterward, he sat in a chair, expressionless until all the people cleared out.  When only a small group was left, he got up and started playing with the other kids.  He didn’t freak out or cry, he didn’t show that he was scared, he just pulled into himself until he was comfortable.  I was so proud!

Chickpea was totally immersed in the program.  She would sit up on her knees and stare at the magician without blinking.  She was looking to see if he was doing it “right.”  When he did something funny, she roared with laughter right along with the other kids.  At one point she raised her hand like she wanted to ask a question.  She noticed EVERYTHING and studied everyone and everything around her.  A couple of times, she turned around and searched the sea of grown ups for me and smiled when she found me.  God, I love that little girl!

After the performance she asked if she could go talk to the magician.  It worried me but I said she could and asked what she was going to say.  She said “he said his baby magic wand didn’t have any magic – but IT DOES.  He shouldn’t underestimate the baby just because it hasn’t finished magic wand school yet.”

I wanted to laugh so badly but she was so serious!  She went up and scolded the poor man while I’m having flash backs to my childhood where I was just like that.  It made me smile when I realized the magician was picking obvious pre-school students for his volunteers.  They’re less likely to be like my kid.

E is the world’s biggest pre-schooler.  He’s starting Kindergarten in the fall.  He’s 4 foot tall and almost 70 lbs.  He still moves like a very young kid – all awkward and sort of floppy.  He doesn’t have that grace that comes with growing older.  He has such a charm about him – he collects grandmothers like its a hobby.  He’s all big eyes and toothy smiles with that little kid innocence and it’s almost impossible to not squeeze him.

He’d rather charm the people around him than watch the show, but yesterday he got into it and laughed and pointed with the rest of the children.  After the show, he was jazzed up.  He didn’t calm down until right before bed time.  He didn’t care about telling Daddy every line of the show – Chickpea does that part with input from LJ – he cared that he figured out how to make his markers “splat” if he smacked them on the paper really hard.

Before dinner, he was laughing at something he thought was funny and just rolled in the floor and laughed.  None of us knew what he was laughing at but it’s impossible not to laugh at him.  Pretty soon we were all cracking up laughing at absolutely nothing.

E is the maker of chaos and disaster where order and peace were.  If everyone is quietly reading or playing a game, he’s the one throwing couch cushions with deadly accuracy.  If no one is playing with their food at the table he whispers to Chickpea “throw a chicken nugget at me, it’s funny.” He knows all his letters and numbers and can read and write, but he won’t do it if he knows he’s being watched.  How do I know?  Later, I find a picture of a fish with teeth drawn in his minimalist fashion and underneath it says “pirana etes met.”  I can hear him count to 50 through the wall but if I ask him to count to 10 for me, he leaves out half of the numbers.

I can’t be mad at him because it’s funny!  He’s going to be a hellion in school but I know he’s absorbing the information somehow.  He just doesn’t feel the need to show anyone.  He’d rather be funny.

Then I have to tell him that if he’s going to be BAD, he needs to do a better job at it!  There’s this pesky thing that’s called evidence that shows me the truth of who has been doing science experiments in the bathroom.  If he’s the only one soaking wet and smelling like Purell, then I know who did it.

I have to say that I’ve been wondering lately if it was a wise decision to adopt them with as sick as I’ve turned out to be.  I didn’t know it was going to be like this when we started but again, hindsight and good vision and all that.

I was afraid yesterday that I wouldn’t be able to get off the floor where we all were sitting to watch the magician.  I had taken my meds before we left the house but still, my body was screaming at me 10 minutes into it.  I was trying my best not to cry.  I was trying my hardest to enjoy the show and ignore the pain and the people bumping into me and squeezing in closer.  I was trying to breathe through the raising temperature of the room.

But I watch their faces – their body language – and I know that Shaun and I did this.  We made their lives fulfilling and opened doors and opportunities that weren’t possible.  This is worth it.  Even if they have a sick mom and a mom who can’t do certain things, they have a mom who is PROUD of them and who wants the best for them.  They’re strong enough to work through the rest.





I’ve read this before

1 06 2010

I’m reading The Spire by Richard North Patterson.  Contrary to my title, I’ve not read THIS book before, but the story is similar to others I’ve read.  I can’t pinpoint which book I find it similar to right now, but I’m sure it will surface in my brain eventually.  It’s a memoir type of story that mingles with a new murder and some theft and college frat boys… I’m not bored with the story.  I just think someone else wrote it first and that I’ve read it and it’s somewhere in my library.

My title actually refers to this monotony of mommyhood I’ve found myself in.  It’s comforting and fucked up at the same time.  I’m living the life I worked so hard to build.  I’m at the end result of what I had planned.  The next part of the plan is “live the life and enjoy it!”

It’s just  hard to quantify joy.  There’s no number or date or even data that can identify joyfulness.  You can’t make a joy graph.  Well, I’m sure you could, but it would probably be boring.

I’m an analyst.  I’m a very smart analyst trained in problem solving.  There’s no problem and now I’m a little lost.  Sure, there’s this lupus and fibromyalgia thing, but that’s more handling the symptoms as they come and trying to live a lifestyle that doesn’t provoke the symptoms.  The first part of problem solving is to identify the problem.

So back to the monotony as it is.  After midnight last night, I didn’t sleep well.  I need to clean the bird cage.  My pain level is small enough that I haven’t taken any meds today other than my morning dose of Lyrica.  The wireless keyboard on the right side of my desk got some fingernail clippings that were left in the clipper in it (yuck) and now some of the keys stick and sometimes the space bar makes two spaces where only one is needed.  My calendar tomorrow is a little stressful, but manageable.  The kids are on summer break and I reinstated afternoon naptime.  (Yay, nap time!)

Earlier I took a bath and Nola, our Great Dane, opened the door to my bathroom.  There’s a reason Great Danes are the inspiration for almost every cartoon dog in the American zeitgeist:  they really do act just like a cartoon.  They’re expressive, clever, gentle, and act pretty much like the dumbest kid in the gifted class.  They’re too smart to be retards but they’re too retarded to be smart.  They also have no clue that the rest of the world thinks this about them.  They’re mainly happy ass dogs.

MY cartoon dog can open doors.  She figured it out on her own… or she somehow communicates with Ernie, our half-Siamese cat, who can also open doors.  That thought is fucking terrifying.

Yes, I do need a baby gate.

So, Nola breaks in and looks at me with those big, dark eyes.  I say “Nola, go away.”  She turned around and tucked her tail as if she was leaving then turned back around and looked at me again.

Yes, our bathroom is so small that one turn of a Great Dane encompasses all the square footage.

“Nola, GO. AWAY.”  Nothing.  I’m largely ignored around here.

“You can’t get in here with me.  Lay down.”  I was hoping being on the bath mat next to me would be enough.  It wasn’t.  She started to look like she was going to get in the tub with me.  (It’s happened before.)  I snapped my fingers.  “Lay down.”

She sat and then she turned towards the door again.  “Ok, then.  Go away.”

She stood in the door, tail tucked and looked out.  I took this as a cue to finish up in the bath and investigate for myself.*

I wash my hair, get dried off, moisturize my face and wrap myself in my towel.  Investigation time.  I walk out to the living room trailed by a scared cartoon and find Ethan singing at the top of his lungs while drawing on the cat with two markers – thankfully capped – one in each hand.  From the scared dog, I surmise that he started on her.

The part that startled me was MY reaction.  I wasn’t shocked, surprised, mad, or anything.  I just said “Ethan, put them away, NOW.”

Then I got some clothes on, made lunch, and sat back down at the computer.  Absurdity has become monotonous.

*From this point, the internet ate my post revisions which made this post way awesomer.  Fucking internet.  I could fix it, but why?  WHY DO YOU DO THIS, INTERNET?

In all actuality, it’s Firefox that’s eating everything lately.  FF is about to be the major reason I switch to Google Chrome.  It won’t be because it’s awesome – it will be because FF sucked.





melodrama & bathrooms

30 05 2010

Chickpea has a fine future as an actress.

She’s starting to understand I don’t think that’s cute.

LJs birthday was last Friday and part of his present from Shaun’s parents is an overnight stay at their house and they’re going to a museum tomorrow.  We got him packed, everything ready and he went to say goodbye to Chickpea and E-baby.

LJ is a very sensitive soul.  He cries over dead slugs.  He takes every word to heart.  I was trying to shoo him out of the house without saying goodbye to the little kids.

Why?  Because I didn’t want him dwelling over them being left at home (oh, so sad) with their parents and toys.   I knew their response would be somewhere between jealousy and spite.

He wouldn’t be shooed though, so he went to say bye to A&E and E-baby said “ok, see you later.”

Chickpea threw herself against the closet door and grabbed the knob.  She sobbed “I’ll miss you so much!  I’ll have no fun because you’re not with me and I’ll be ALONE!!!”  Then she slid down the door to her knees and wailed like she’d just learned her husband wasn’t coming back from war.

LJ looked like someone had just killed his favorite slug.  I pulled him away from her and whispered in his ear that he shouldn’t worry about her and that everything would be fine and he’d have lots of fun.  He looked unsure, but he went along with it.  I went back to her room and told her “whatever you’re doing, it didn’t work.  Now you look stupid with your face all red, snot pouring out of your nose, and I’m putting a note in your journal because you hurt LJ by doing that.”  Then I left.

Finally, about 5 minutes later she quit the tantrum and went back to her magnadoodle.

Every day that I’m a parent, I forgive my parents a little more for the ways they screwed me up.

In other news, I’m making a lot of progress in the master bedroom and bathroom.  I was going to do a deep scrubbing of a room a day, but this past week I just couldn’t do it.  A more realistic goal would be a room a week.  I’d have everything deep scrubbed just in time to start over!

Since I’ve had to cut my dose of Effexor in half, the OCD symptoms are coming back.  That’s good for the house.  Not so good for my lower back.  Here’s how it’s looking so far.  I want something masculine but warm.  Our house is about the size of one of those IKEA displays of “how to live in x amount of square feet” so I’m also coming up with ways to store things in creative ways.  What do you think so far?

(I’m going to try out this gallery thingy, but I’ll put the full size ones on my flickr page.  It’s linked on the left side of the blog.)

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they do the cutest things…

23 03 2010

Stereotypically, kids and animals do cute things.

Stereotypes are almost always based on a kernel of truth.

Lately, I’ve been forgetting that because MY kids and animals have developed minds of their own.  That creates several possibilities:

1.  Spontaneous cuteness that they are not aware of.  IMO, this is the BEST kind of cute.

2.  Contrived cuteness that they ARE aware of and created in order to get attention.  (Ernie is the master of this.  He gets cuter and cuter until you give in and pet him.)

3.  Intentionally not cute at all (getting in your sister’s face yelling BOOGER, BOOGER, BOOGER!)

4.  Spontaneous not cute at all.

5.  Funny because it’s just wrong.  (Nola cuddling up to me, then barfing in my face.)

Eh, there are more but my brain is bogged down by this cold front.  Don’t you hate when that happens?

There is a story to go along with this! I’m not just typing out cute factors for my health.

This morning in the car, it was fricking cold.  How does the weather go from 60s, 70s, and even 80s one week then the next it’s freezing temps and snowing again!  We live just north of Atlanta!  We live here because it’s WARMER.

So, me and the kids in the car to go to school.  We take LJ to school and the gas light comes on in my car.  Chickpea’s school opens it’s doors at the same time as LJs but they don’t start until later so I decided to go get gas before dropping Chickpea off.

E, of course, is non-stop running his mouth.  He chatters from the moment he wakes up until the moment he falls asleep.  It’s going something like this: “why the dinging, mommy? The air is blowing but it’s not cold and it’s not hot and I’m not cold and I’m not hot and how are you not hot and not cold?  Did you know that stop signs really say pots?  Why are we turning this way, Mommy?  A’s school is that way and she has to go to school, right? Are we taking A to the doctor so she can get a shot? Do you like shots, Mommy?”

And so it goes…

OK, we get to Ingles and the card reader won’t read my card, so I get to pay full price for the gas (because that was better IMO than standing in the cold trying to make the thing work.)  Pump gas, pump gas, pump gas… make it stop pumping at $60 worth and accidentally get $60.07 worth.  Oh well.  I’m sure that 7 cents got me a drop or two extra.

Then, we leave the gas station and this Toyota van pulls out behind us.  E turns around in his seat and starts frantically waving at the driver.  The driver appears to be a greasy haired dad on his way to somewhere and waves back making it look as uncomfortable as possible.

We have a “no hands in the air” rule in the car because I can see them in the rearview mirror and it makes me nuts.  I say “Ethan, turn around and put your hands down.  What are you thinking? That person is a stranger!”

Next we arrive at Chickpea’s school and since the line is longer, she has time to kiss me bye and kiss E bye.  As she’s kissing Ethan, he smooches her on the nose and blows a raspberry!  “HEY, IF WE’RE SPITTING, WE’RE NOT GOING TO KISS BYE BYE!”  Chickpea turns around with a red spot on her nose where she’s just been raspberried and E starts to cry and rub his eyes.

*facepalm*

We drop Chickpea off and as we’re pulling out I say “E-baby, I think you need to go back to bed when we get home.  When you wake up maybe you’ll feel better.”

I got no arguments.  Amazing.

We got home and I turned off the TV and he put his coat and shoes away.  I went potty after putting my coat and shoes away.  When I walked in to his bedroom, he’s curled up on the floor with his rhino stuffed animal, finger in his mouth, and already starting to fall asleep.  I tucked him in to bed with his comfy blanky.

Normally at this point, he hides under the covers and plays.  I didn’t really care this morning as long as he was quiet and restful, so just a few minutes ago I went in to check on him.  He is passed out asleep with his covers tucked up to his chin and his little baby face perfectly relaxed.

*sigh* So.  Freaking. Cute!