Tuesday, December 07, 2010

A House of Cards

I should have written a long time ago. Goddess knows I've had plenty to say. And anyone that knows me, or my house, knows that I have enough going on to talk about!

First things first. In the interest of disclosure, since so much was written about that time period.. my husbands oldest daughter has contacted him through Facebook. We knew it would happen when they aged out of the system. We didn't expect it to happen this soon. She is still only 17 and in state care. We also didn't except that we'd be able to so easily see his other two children connected to her Facebook page. Literally a click away. And not even a private page. There, on the other side of the most popular social networking site... were the three "missing" kids we've been searching for. We read, looked at pictures, put together pieces of the puzzle of what their lives have been like for the past decade..  I put my spying to good use and did a lot of digging. The oldest was the only one that didn't get adopted. And from what she writes on her wall, it was planned and somehow disrupted this past fall. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around why they would allow the kids to have completely public Facebook pages. I don't allow my own daughters to be that public!

So my husband and her exchanged cell numbers, because it was easier than writing inbox messages on Facebook. Of course we agreed not to say anything to the other kids that are younger, because she could lose contact with them and we don't want that to happen. They've all grown up so much. Barely recognizable from the pictures that I posted on here. And in all reality they don't us, and we don't know them. Not even his oldest.

We've also had to come to the conclusion that exchanging phone numbers might not have been the best course of action. I encouraged it, thinking they could easily write to each other here and there instead of trying to use my computer all the time. (the laptop cord fried, and Chris's computer is completely full of WoW. No really. So full that we can't play it on there because he's out of memory. Bah. New expansion just came out and we turned our accounts back on and everything. Figures.)

Where was I? Oh yes. Texting his daughter. It hasn't been easy. She texts him a lot. First thing in the morning, while we're all still sleeping.. the room lights up and I hear, "NEW MESSAGE!" from his phone on the nightstand. Oh.. its her good morning daddy message. Throughout the day there are more. Always filled with "I love you so much daddy. I miss you daddy"  Remind you of someone else you know in this family? Exactly. We have another father/daughter interpersonal issue. She hasn't changed or received the help she needed. It was that obvious. They really haven't had much of a relationship since she was 7 years old. She's 17 now. And just as dependent and immature. Whats to become of her in the next year when she ages out? The father instinct wants her to live with us. But intellectually we know that if she still has some severe issues, she can't live with us. We have 5 children and it isn't fair to them to put them in danger. Not even to reunite my husband with his child/ren.

Lest you think I'm the big green evil ogre that most step mothers seem to be. I'm not. I can just see a mental health issue when I see one. And this is a huge elephant in the room. I'm glad that Chris sees it though and for the most part we're on the same page. He's started pulling back a bit more each day. Letting more time pass before responding to her. Not getting dragged into her drama, "I made a bad choice daddy. Help me. What do I do?" type of issues that seem to be a daily occurrence with her.

I will be honest here. I can't say jealousy didn't enter my mind. And that's not right. She is his child. There shouldn't BE jealousy there. But somehow her timing, her dependency, her urgency, and her manipulation all make the situation pretty painful. For the past two weeks, she's said good morning to him first, shes' asked him about his day first, she's said goodnight first. And I'm pretty sure if you add it up, they've exchanged more "I love yous" then the two of us have. ... Its hollow. Its empty. Its a house of cards built on nothing but a fantasy of life before state custody. Nothing will ever come of it. Not even the parts that I'm alright with. Her being in our lives, and being a part of it..  I'm not sure she will be able to share her father in that way. She views her life as being her, her sister, her brother, and her father. No matter what. They stick together. But that manner of exclusion isn't going to work. It can't work like that and be healthy.

I'm waiting for the house of cards to fall down. I know it can't survive this way. He isn't able to keep up with her demands, and instead I end up texting her. She thinks she's talking to her father, and he doesn't have to try to navigate this uncertain ground. He doesn't want to mess it up, but he doesn't know how not to. Soon enough though the game will come to an end. Someone will notice she's talking to her biological family and it will be revoked. Who knows how far they'll go to stop those connections. At least if I shoulder most of the responsibility and emotional baggage, then when the cards come flying down..maybe it won't hurt him so much. Thats my hope anyway.

So as you can probably imagine, that's enough excitement to last for quite awhile. However, this is MY family! Which means there's a lot more!

Update about Ivy: Her IEP was yesterday at school. She's in second grade and this is the second IEP this year. We went to reclassify her. That meant another round of tests and observations and rating forms to fill out. In the end, it was a unanimous vote to change her primary disability status from a child with "Speech and Language Disability" to a child with "Autism."  And what that means is that she'll automatically get a lot more services. So we left the room with all her supports for the bus in place, She's on a different bus than all the other kids in the neighborhood, which is working great so far! It goes down our street anyway so it just loops around and picks her up. That way she isn't around any of the kids in this neighborhood. She plays a Leapster or watches a DVD player that the bus company bought for her. She sits in the front seat, with a seatbelt, and she also sits with a 5th grade girl and so far, no issues at all. She gets 60 minutes of a social skills group a week. Thats two separate groups. And she gets 60 minutes a week of OT. She also has accommodations in the classroom, a weighted vest, a wiggle seat, some chewy pen toppers as well. All in all it was a great IEP meeting. I think our case manager ruffled some feathers, but when doesn't she? LOL

Oh, in case I didn't blog about it before (I'm sure I did though) Ivy was officially diagnosed with ADHD combined type, Anxiety Disorder NOS, and Asperger's Disorder. She also has a mild cognitive disorder that affects her working memory.

Update on Odin:  Odin has been receiving OT and related services though Child Development Services (CDS)  since the beginning of the year. They've done nothing. To be honest it was a waste of time. However, they're going to order him a new trampoline with a bar and that will make things easier for me!

He recently had a speech and language test done, and also a Vineland. He qualifies for 3-5 services easily. His articulation alone qualified. Yep thats right, the opposite of what CDS told me. They said, and I quote "He just has too many words and he's having a hard time saying them. He'll catch up."  Well he hasn't. Its only gotten worse since he's older! So now that he's aging out of the 0-3 and headed to the 3-5 services, they are offering him a specialized preschool 3 days a week for 3 hours a day. They'll give him OT and speech right there with qualified people. Small class, no more than 6-8 kids at a time and they work on a lot of adaptive functioning, schedules, routine, etc. From what people have told me, its a great opportunity. I might take them up on that.

Theres a lot of detective work I need to do first. Putting a 3 year old into pre-school is something I haven't done since Sierra went to Headstart. But she was so much more advanced and by that time, used to separating from me because of the whole shared parenting thing. I don't know if I'm ready to let my baby boy go. It seems too early to me. Everyone talks about how important catching things early is, and how much his autism symptoms will improve.. but since I'm not in the "cure all the autism" camp I'm not really sure how I feel.

(note: This was a post that I had in my drafts and forgot to publish. Oops!)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Our Little Buddy, Kyle. Rest in Peace

Tonight, Sierra saw something on her facebook page. One of her friends Liam was talking about how he missed his brother Kyle. "Mama? Does he have another brother named Kyle, or is he talking about Kyle Kyle??" I ran over to look at her screen and froze when I saw his words. Something something Kyle died in his sleep.. were the only things I got out of it. I immediatly picked up mu cell phone.

I called all the numbers I had for Kyles mother, my friend Heather and left a voicemail on one, and talked to her father on the other number. He said Heather wasn't doing well at all. I've reached out to all our mutual friends for support, and thats all I can do. ... which sucks. Its not good enough. When all I can do is sit here.. it doesn't feel like enough.

We babysat him all summer. We were going to this past summer, but they moved to Kennebunkport and he went to summer school instead. But the summer before he was with us nearly every day from morning til night. It was hard dealing with 6 kids, not to mention that him and Ivy clashed big time sometimes! But he was so funny and made us laugh all the time. He never let anything slow him down and he was always willing to try no matter what. He overcame quite a bit while he was here. I watched him learn new things and change.

I have so many videos from that summer. I suppose I should put them on DVD. When the time is right, Heather will want to have as many memories as she can. I certainly took a lot of pictures and videos. I took a picture of them a week ago. Halloween night. It hasn't even been uploaded from the camera yet....

Things change too fast for me..
I've struggled a lot with letting go of the past. Seeing friends, like SOTM people.. seeing them change and leave.. watching us go our separate ways. So many break ups, divorce, changes, and death. ... the good times as a group are gone. The bonds and friendships have changed. For good. You can't go backwards.
two deaths in one year is too much for me. I can't begin to imagine how Heather feels. I don't. I can't. It hurts too much already. :(

Kyle was Ivy's only real friend. The only birthday party she'd been to. The only person that has been in her life since she was born. The only other person she really connected with. She knew he had autism and some of the same problems she did. ... how do you explain death to a child that has a hard time grasping things like that? How do you even begin to tell them? Should I just not? Its going to cause so much anxiety for her. Ugh.

I'm rambling. Its past my bedtime and I know you're in bed. .. I just needed to vent. I'm sorry. I shouldn't be up at 1am crying. I lit my candles, and I sent out my calls for help and support. There is nothing left for me to do, and yet I feel so helpless. I wish there was something more I could do.

I'm going upstairs to kiss my babies, and snuggle in between two of them and fall asleep. ♥

Kyle loved Spongebob. He loved to collect stuffies from popular Disney movies. Kyle also had
autism. He was so full of life and happy all the time. I just don't understand. Why Kyle? Why Avis? Why Grammy? Why Mom?

I'm not sure I will ever understand.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Post-poned post

Isn't it funny how a simple phone call can change things sometimes?

I've struggled with the idea and implementation of anonymity on the internet for years. I'm not sure when it started to matter to me. Probably the first time I was judged for something, and the consequence was astronomically huge. Never mind that the judgment was erroneous. That didn't matter. What mattered then and now, is that I was changed. I learned quickly that being myself wasn't acceptable. So I vacillate between hiding and being completely public. Some days my Twitter time line is public, and other days I get scared and turn everything private. They say that everything that gets put on the internet is there to stay, and that sort of permanency alone is scary.

I'm not good at remaining anonymous. Maybe its the autism. Maybe its my inability to lie about things that are important, or understand why someone would act malicious because of something I wrote. Its probably because I cannot wrap my brain around some things. Why can I look up the most heinous things online that others have written, sometimes depicting death, torture, rape, you name it and its out there... and yet I feel scared posting about my childrens day, or what I had for dinner last night.

It all comes down to shame and the feelings of guilt it conjures up. Inappropriately placed shame. Why is it there? I don't know! I'd like to know. Probably some psycho mumbo-jumbo about being devalued and emotionally abused or neglected. I only know how it makes me feel. I shouldn't get scared and filled with paranoia and anxiety at the smallest thing. I shouldn't be worried that something I say will cause the DEA to knock on my door and destroy my empire built on drug money from the meth labs in my kitchen, or worry that the neighbors dog is secretly a police dog and when I go to check the mail the dog will be able to sniff out the marijuana that's in my pocket. Especially considering I don't smoke marijuana, there isn't any in my pocket, and I'm pretty sure the drug dealers in the neighborhood don't have an ex police dog. To be honest, a dog has never approached me since I've been living here. As you can see, there is no reason for any of those things to be in my head, let alone be something thats causing anxiety.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Piggy Braids

This was Ivy's hairstyle for school today. Braids are done nearly every day because its the one hairstyle that doesn't come out no matter what she does. All my girls are so active that I have to give them styles that have holding power. And usually hair spray as well. Today we did a variation on the traditional double french braid, and instead of braiding down we put them in pigtails and then braided the rest as well. I think it came out super cute!
The bottom left side is a tad bit bumpy, but we were running out of time so I left it that way. If she would keep other pretties in like flowers, or bows, I would put those in her hair as well but usually they end up getting crushed in her backpack. Overall this hairstyle was super cute and super easy. It only took about 8 minutes to complete.

Smile and say "Cheese!" Ivy. :)

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Making of a Tutu

So I finally decided to put the red and white tulle I bought at Walmart to good use. Its not an exceptional deal buying from there, but I wanted to be sure I could actually make one first before I committed to buying rolls and rolls of the stuff. As it turns out, I not only can make one.. but I'm pretty darn good at it! Piper is excitedly waiting for hers to be finished. I wanted it to be very fluffy and pretty so I need to go pick up a few more rolls. Most tutorials use a lot less tulle than what I was expecting. Already its 50 yards so far and I'd say we have about another 10 yards left to use to fill in some gaps. I'll post completed pictures when I'm finished. It still needs a satin bow, and some final touches.

Of course I'll make a boutique bow to match it. Broadening my horizons a bit for my new etsy shop I opened. Stay tuned for info on that too. I'm not ready for the big reveal yet. haha

After this tutu, I will tackle the infamous "Magic Tutu" (notice the lack of trademark. lol) I've already figured it out, I just ran outta tulle. Bummer.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

What 5am looks like

This is 5am outside my back sliding glass door. Willow trees always look their prettiest when they aren't on your property, trust me. This thing sheds like a beast! No amount of rakes or brooms can keep our back yard clean and leaf free. But the birds, they love this tree. And I have to admit. It is pretty.

So we were supposed to be going to Beltane tomorrow to celebrate with our like minded Pagan friends. However I just don't think any of us feel up to the few hour drive to the beach. Then I'd have to chase the kids while we're there. Ugh. The way Ivy has been acting lately I don't think I want to chance it. I'm hoping a firm diagnosis can happen soon for her. We're really struggling at home with her behavior, and I know the school is too. Except for when her friend Z isn't there. Z has been out sick this past week, and lo and behold.. Ivy has had a solid 5 days of nearly 20 stars every day. Now I know I talked about this before, but I just can't get over what a drastic change that is.
So I asked her, "Ivy, when Z isn't at school who did you play with instead?" And then the most heartbreaking answer ever, "No one."
I stopped what I was doing and looked at her. "No one? What about recess? What did you do?"
"I played by myself." she answered.
"Every day? Why?"
"Without Z I don't know what to do, so I be by myself."

I'm really torn between being excited about her behavior at school, to being sad that the reason her behavior is so good is obviously because she's withdrawn and displaced feeling because Z isn't there. I remember that feeling...  it was the reason I never went without a boyfriend, EVER. One replaced another. No, I wasn't a whore. I simply couldn't function alone. I needed someone to help me put on a brave face and go out into the world to do what I had to do. At the time that was only math class, lunch and passing time.. but it was still nearly unbearable when I was alone. I remember what happened when my boyfriend graduated a year before I did. I had no friends. No direction. I couldn't even get to my classes because I didn't remember where they were. I had nothing to do but stare at the floor. I felt so out of place.

And here Chris and I were celebrating Ivy's accomplishment of nearly a week of awesome behavior. But does the end really justify the means? And her bus behavior I  might add, totally stinks. Kicked off the bus twice in one week doesn't seem that awesome.

Parenting a child with special needs isn't easy, especially when you have issues yourself! To any parent out there with any kind of disability at all, be it physical, or mental. Visible or hidden. You have my support. Its not an easy road.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Alice in Chains video

This is the video I took at the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland Maine on April 15, 2010. The first stop in the new leg of their tour, Black Gives Way to Blue. It was an awesome show, and my husbands first concert. :) We totally enjoyed it. And had the bruises the next morning to prove it! The moshing was insane at the rail! You couldn't get any closer than where we were. It truly was an awesome experience. :)

I'll upload more video and pictures later.

Ivy got suspended from the bus. Again.

Yep. The bus company just called me. I guess this morning she got written up again. This time another girl told her to scratch this girl, so Ivy did. The girl was crying and had a red mark down her arm. The bus driver witnessed Ivy scratching her. So now she's suspended from the bus for the next two school days. :(

If this is any indication of how next year is going to go, I don't want any part of it! It makes me even more happy that they went ahead and kept her IEP in place.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Issue with blogging

I've wanted to blog more than I have been. I know it probably looks like I'm a lazy camera phone blogger at this point, but in my defense.. I know the reason why I'm so quiet. Because I have to be quiet! Let me explain. My best writing is done at night after my little angels are tucked in for the night in their double beds with fluffy blankets. Only after my house is semi quiet can I really think about the things I like to blog about. You know, those deeper things beyond, "Where are Ivy's clean leggings?!" and "Do we have enough money to pay the phone bill this month?"  Now I know you're thinking, super! Then blog when the kids go to bed! But its not that simple.. you see the baby usually sleeps downstairs in the pack and play. And to make things worse, she's right next to my computer desk. Under normal circumstances this is the best location for her. Easily accessible so I can protect her from Odin should he try to throw a Duplo or a Matchbox car at her head. (he does have this urge frequently) Not so convenient when I want to type like a mad man with flames flying out of my fingertips. I wait for the right moment to blog when it won't wake her up, and I can still concentrate. Those moments are obviously few and far between.

So here I am! Its 7:56 AM and Sierra and Ivy are already at school. Their first day back from school vacation. The rest of us couldn't be more excited for them! Seriously. Vacations are the worst in my house. Ivy needs the structure of getting up, getting ready, going on the bus, going to her classes, coming home, having dance class and then going to bed. I need that routine too.

Update: Its now the next day. ya ya. I should have just ended and pushed Publish Post. Except I forgot! Gah! Anyway, Ivy had a great day at school. She got all 20 of her stars. Her goal is 16 stars in a day. Its part of her new behavioral plan. They've broken down her day into 20 chunks and they give her 1 star if she follows Kelso's Choices and another star if she is compliant. Yesterday was the first day she's ever gotten 20 stars! I was so happy! And then today, the bus company called me to inform me that they wrote her up yesterday afternoon for standing up on the bus. They tell me she always stands up while the bus is moving. I tell them, put her in a buckle seat please. They did last year and there were no issues. This year she's been written up twice and this time she's suspended from the bus for a day. 6 years old and suspended for hyperactivity she can't control. That really stinks. So I'm going to have to do something. I mean it can't continue this way. There are only 2 more chances and she's off for the whole year. It isn't a big deal as its almost May. But what about next year? This has to be addressable in her IEP or something. (which they DID keep btw. They even added on a behavioral plan and social stories, along with everything she currently had. Yay!!!)

Alright, posting this before life takes over again.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Easter Bunny Love

Easter 2010 was a success! Well, as long as we're measuring success by how sunny the day was. (finally) How trampled my backyard was by little feet looking for eggs, and how much trash was strewed around my house. It didn't matter how many times I bent over to pick up the pieces of wrappers and discarded candy, in a few minutes it was back on the floor again. Candy in different colored boxes to designate which child it belonged to. When you have more than a few children it becomes a necessary part of life, this naming and color coding. And every year there is more candy than we need. I'm not sure how or why I tend to over purchase the candy, perhaps because its the basis of Easter and there isn't much else to get. One toy each child, that added up to over thirty dollars. Piper got Littlest Pet Shops, Ivy got a Wizards of Waverly Place wand (the one we wanted to buy her for Halloween but they were completely sold out.) and Odin got this really cool car from the movie Cars. You shake it back and forth and then set it down and it goes! Granted it doesn't go very far because he only shakes it a second or two, but he loves it! Though Mama and Daddy are about ready to take out the batteries! (its loud)

Sierra was with us this year. Usually she ends up with her ex grandmother because they have a big easter egg hunt with the town and the police department. This year I said no when they asked me. I wanted her here with her family. So she ran around helping her sisters and brother find the eggs in the backyard. She smiled. She had a good time. And seeing her participate in family stuff with a smile on her face made me really glad I had her stay here.

Today is Ivy's last appointment with the Neuropsychologist. Her evaluations for an autism spectrum disorder is almost complete. It took us years to get to this point. Years. Just this appointment alone took a year to get. But her behavior at school is starting to get worse. They have a behavior notebook for her now and her day is broken into small chunks of time to try to earn at least 15 stars a day. I think it might help her. But will they try to take her off her IEP next week? I don't know. But I do know that she needs a diagnosis so that I can fight for her better. We've been fighting since she was two years old, and we'll keep fighting.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

Avis has gone to be with her father

This is so sudden that I don't even know how to say it except to say it. Last night I got a phone call from Avis's phone, and it was her brother calling to let me know that Avis was in the hospital. She went in because she was still feeling sick from her UTI and found her in full kidney and liver failure. They gave her a day or two to live...
They asked me to contact anyone that was her friend and let them know. I posted on facebook and let Shannon know as well.
Tonya and I went to SMMC after the kids went to bed and Shannon was on her way out. Avis was sleeping the entire time. There was nothing they could do for her except keep her comfortable. We talked to her for awhile and her family even left the room so we could have some time in private. Persephone was straining and giggling. She really wanted me to put her down in Avis's bed. I held her over her and she laughed so much and so hard. We rubbed her hair and I kissed her head.... and we said our goodbyes.

Avis passed away this morning around 3am. Her service will be April 1st. I know I'm not the only one secretly waiting for her to pop up and yell April Fools.. This was just so unexpected.

I will miss her a lot. :( We were planning to do lunch this week.  .....

Its Mr Man!

PJ in the walker

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring is almost here

We've set our clocks ahead now, and I've found that the kids adjust much easier in the springtime than they do when we roll the clocks back in the fall. They're still waking up at 6 AM but at least they're still falling asleep at 7 PM. We've been going outside the past few days. Temperature wise its been above average this year. It hit 69 the other day! In March! In Maine! I'm hoping that the rest of the season is the same.

Early Intervention was supposed to come to start the evaluation process with Odin the other day. His speech was the major concern, but even some days I'm not sure I'm concerned about it anymore. I go back and forth. I think that he's a bit behind but probably not enough to qualify for services.  The house is clean and we waited for the person to come. Chris was planning on taking the other kids out for awhile to make it easier, even though is leg hurts a lot these days. (and thats another blog post) The person from EI forgot about us, so we ended up doing it over the phone. I wish he would have given me that option to begin with!

So tonight I'm sitting here at 11:30 and dreading going upstairs. I'm tired, but I'm so anxious about tomorrow that I want to keep my mind off things. And by keeping my mind off things what I really mean is, google everything I possibly can about speech and language disorders, in particular Childhood Apraxia of Speech. I'm nervous that EI is going to be in my home. Not just one person, but a few different people. :( Ugh. Chris is going to take Piper and Persephone upstairs while they're here, and hopefully they'll be gone before Ivy is home from school.

If something is going on with Odins speech, I hope that EI really catches onto it and does something. After Ivy, I feel like they've failed us.