Waldorf Workshop

So, my workshop on Waldorf homeschooling/life was wonderful. The first few days I was fighting a small cold, but even that didn’t stop me from feeling so good about what I was learning.

Every day we started off with some songs, a few discussions, and then a craft before a break. Then, some more discussions, a few more songs, and then a parting blessing. There were nine women (students) and two teachers. Our teachers were awesome. Both have been Waldorf teachers for over 20 years, and are very passionate about providing children an unencumbered/simple youth.

What I especially appreciated about these teachers, was how they taught Waldorf pedagogy. Both of them said over and over how important it was for the mothers (or homeschooling/primary parent) to feel nurtured and supported. If a certain Waldorf philosophy doesn’t fit in with where your family is…then work around it. They weren’t dogmatic about anything. They helped me understand that this lifestyle isn’t “all or nothing”, and just putting into practice some of the principles can make a huge difference.

So, what did we work on? We talked about our family rhythm and how to make it less stressful. We talked about the challenges of walking away from traditional cultural values and education. We talked about how to nurture ourselves, before we nurture anyone else. We talked about how to pass our values on to our children, despite our mass culture pulling at them. We discussed how to support and feel supported by our partners. We discussed family challenges and possible solutions. And, we became a circle of women who felt connected by the time the week was over. I made some new friends!

As for crafts, we made wreaths of culinary herbs, candles out of organic beeswax, dolls for our children, felted birds and butterflies, made candle holders from pear wood, and organic cleaning supplies.

I came away each day feeling uplifted, nurtured, and empowered! It was so powerful being in a room of women who share similar beliefs and goals. Some were more “Waldorf” than others, but all of us were working toward a similar goal.

Our teachers gave us tons of resources every day. Articles, academic studies, books, scientific research, and even some great poems and songs.

I walked away feeling more informed and passionate about homeschooling. I also feel like I have made some connections that will be important in the future.

 

Categories: Cadet, feelings, Homeschool, McRuger, Motherhood, thoughts | 3 Comments

Sending a message…

For a while now, I’ve been unhappy with Cadet’s preschool program. Between the billing issues, the inconsistent schedules of his aides, and a strong movement toward indoor play (rather than outdoor play)…I’ve been strongly considering pulling him out.

Originally, we enrolled him because we needed help. Cadet needed help. His language skills, specifically, needed help. And this school, run by experts, provided that help. Plus, they were really close to our house…an added bonus!

Today, I got the confirmation I needed that he needs to be pulled out of the program. I got an e-mail this morning from the preschool director, asking to speak to me before I picked up Cadet. I thought it was about billing, because it’s always about billing. But, that’s not what she wanted to talk to me about.

Over the course of 20 minutes, she laid out the huge changes that will be happening to Cadet’s class. Changes that I can’t even fathom why they are doing it. The changes include mixing the larger kindergarten class with the smaller preschool class. That means that Cadet’s class of 4 will skyrocket to a class of 20. They are eliminating the one-on-one aides from the room, instead doing “pull out sessions” for therapy sessions. Most of the neuro-typical kids will be asked to leave. Fees will increase, despite the pulling back of support. Some of these changes have prompted several of the teachers (including the preschool director) to find employment elsewhere. They are pulling out their children (two of whom happen to be Cadet’s best friends at school).

There’s more stuff, but those are the big ones for me.

This afternoon, his case manager had an in-home session with Cadet. She and I spent the first hour talking about what she would do in our position. She was whole-heartedly against keeping him enrolled, go so far as to say that it could be detrimental to the progress he’s made.

What’s odd about the timing of this, is that earlier this week we had Cadet’s year review. None of this information was given. It was “business as usual” sort of meeting.

So, here we are…now it’s just a matter of pulling him out of the preschool. Hopefully, we can keep some of his in-home aide hours. And while it won’t impact OT or Speech, it’s going to be a big shift.

Part of me feels this was the Universe’s way of telling me to start getting ready to homeschool. While we may try to find a part-time (small) pre-school program or playgroup to get him some social time (which he enjoys), I think it’s time to start “walking the walk”.

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This whole week has been an anxious one for me, and I’m not exactly sure why. Stress headaches, some dizzy spells, low energy, fears that every twinge is some disease, and an inability to handle everyday issues in the calmest manner. McRuger has been blissfully supportive and very generous with his time.

The news about Cadet’s school only made everything worse. I feel like I’m drowning with all the potential directions our life can go. Every time I try to sleep, I feel like I am washed over with just too many thoughts.

Thankfully, Cadet has been a joy this week…and McRuger a great help. I’m hopeful that I can get over this with a nice, relaxing weekend.

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Of course, adding to the stress/excitement is the month of July and all of the stuff we have happening. First, I’m attending a Waldorf-inspired conference for a week. The conference days are short (9-12), but it’s in a town an hour away…so lots of traveling and learning.

Then, just 3 days after the conference ends, we leave to visit McRuger’s family in the midwest. We’ll be gone for almost 2 weeks.

And then, the day after we get back from that…I’m going to BlogHer 2014. Yes! It’s not too far from where I live, and one of my bloggy/IRL friends is going with me! Are you getting excited Robyn?

Those are just the “bigger” events. We also have several smaller events to attend (BBQ, gatherings, and a festival).

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But, I’ve almost forgot about the most exciting news. So, when I used to be a teacher, I would often take students on immersion trips to sister schools. One of those sister-schools was in an area of our country I love. It’s a very small school, very rural. When I visited with my students, I fell in love with the people and area. They only have about 100 kids in their school. This year, I heard that they were looking for teachers/volunteers. I talked it over with McRuger, and we decided to see what kind of help we could give them.

I spoke to the principal. He was intrigued and glad to hear from me. After chatting about the weather, our gardens, and the state of his school…we got down to brass tacks. He’d like me to be a mentor-teacher to his staff (as I have MUCH more experience than they do). This is on a volunteer position, of course, but a very awesome opportunity. Since the school is several states away, it would mean visiting occasionally, and providing online/phone support to the teachers. The principal has also asked if McRuger could help with some of their tech needs (which, of course, he will). All that’s left is for the principal to call some of my references (a formality, since he knows all of them). Once that’s done, then I’ll start planning on how best I can help these young teachers.

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So, lots of things happening here. Doesn’t leave much time for the World Cup, gardening, or crafting. What are you all doing? How is your summer going?

Categories: Anxiety/Worry, Cadet, Choices, Homeschool, McRuger | 6 Comments

Bean Glop Recipe…

For one of my readers…

 

 Bean Glop (or Lentil “Loaf”)

This recipe can easily be doubled!

1 cup brown/common lentils

2 cups water

1 bay leaf (optional)

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1 cup finely chopped onion

1 clove garlic (minced)

1 tablespoon olive oil (or any oil you have on hand)

1 small can of sliced black olives (drained)

1 large can (28 ounces) of unsalted diced tomatoes

1 small can of diced green chilies

2 teaspoons of ground cumin

1 teaspoon salt (if using salted canned tomatoes, reduce salt to taste)

Ground pepper to taste

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1.5 cups grated Jack cheese (feel free to increase or decrease cheese amounts)

2 cups plain tortilla chips (slightly crushed)

2 tablespoons chopped parsley or cilantro

 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F.

Put lentils, bay leaf, and water into a sauce pan and simmer (covered) until the lentils are just tender, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, sauté onion and garlic in the oil until translucent (not browned). Stir in olives, tomatoes, chilies, cumin, and salt. Sauté for 3-4 minutes until some of the tomato juice has started to evaporate. Turn heat off.

Check the lentils. If they are tender, remove the bay leaf and drain off any remaining liquid.

Combine the lentils and onion mixture. Spread into a 9×9 baking dish. Top with the crushed tortilla chips and then the cheese.

Bake, uncovered, until the casserole is heated through (should be slightly bubbling around the sides) and the cheese is melted, about 15 minutes. Once the casserole is out of the oven, top with the parsley or cilantro.

Serve with rice and a nice salad.

The leftovers are great on top of toast with some fresh tomatoes!

 

Categories: food | 4 Comments

An unexpected trip…

Over the past few months, I have been increasingly concerned about my mom’s health. It seemed like when we talked, she was always scheduling a doctor’s appointment or about to go to an appointment. I even talked to Bro about it, but he hadn’t noticed anything. I asked mom about it when she visited earlier this month, she said that she was having some stomach issues and that “everything was ok”.

Turns out, that wasn’t exactly the truth. She actually had been told by one of her doctors that she had stomach cancer. Cancer.

So late last week, I packed up and off to the farm Cadet and I went. Mostly to get some answers that just can’t be gotten over the phone.

Once I got there, my father and I went on a long walk with Cadet. I started asking some questions, and my dad started talking. While they are still waiting on a few biopsies, her doctor is fairly optimistic that she doesn’t have stomach cancer. The original diagnosis came from her GP, not a specialist. And her GP wasn’t qualified to read the MRI, but gave her a “cancer” diagnosis anyway (?!?!?!?!?!). Once my dad found out about this (mom kept him in the dark for several weeks), he contacted a family friend who is an influential doctor in the area, and got mom into see some specialists.  Despite the waiting game for a few of the biopsies, we do know more about what’s going on with her stomach.  She does have is a very weakened and impaired stomach lining, after years of taking “therapeutic levels” of Ad.vil for her leg/hip pain.

What this all means is that mom can no longer take oral medications, no longer eat most foods she loves, and she is in near-constant pain from her stomach, legs, and hips. So, it’s not great…but it’s (hopefully) not cancer.

I had many conversations with both my parents about how I want to be kept in the loop. I don’t care if it adds stress to my life (what they were worried about, and why they didn’t tell me). My mom and I had a few heart-to-heart conversations about what she wants to happen if things do go badly. She’s really worried about my father, and how he’ll handle being without her. My dad and I talked about similar things, and he’s adamant that he wants “go” first, but knows that he’s in generally better health than my mom.

Due to the fact that my mom (as a former social worker) has always worked around dying people, these conversations aren’t really morbid for her. She’s a big proponent of talking about death and dying WAY before it becomes a reality.

In the end, we all agreed that we need to communicate better, and keep each other informed!

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So, besides the death and dying and cancer conversations, it was a really good trip. Cadet had a fabulous time! We went to the river and threw rocks (too cold to swim). We hiked. We played with the chickens. We saw lots of cows, dogs, turkeys (wild), llamas, and horses. I brought up Cadet’s bike, and he spent hours riding it around my parent’s property…learning about hills and going “fast”. We spent time in the hammock, enjoying the sun and wind. He learned some new words, gained some new skills, and actually slept well.

My parents had a party for the summer solstice, and Cadet and I were invited. It’s the first party my parents have had (and I’ve been in the area for) in over 15 years. My parents used to throw great parties when I was a kid. Wild, music-filled, amazing parties. They turned one of their barns into a dance hall one year, and we had night after night of dancing. Another barn was turned into a haunted house for the kids (LOTS OF FUN). We had “walking parties” in the neighborhood. And there was always TONS of music playing. Slowly, my mom has been bringing parties back….

So, it was interesting to be part of these parties as an adult. The solstice party was small (only 8 people), but lots of fun. Singing, dirty jokes, hats, poems, food, and (of course) great conversations. Everyone was enamored with Cadet, and refreshingly open with their questions about why he was so quiet. It was a perfect gathering to celebrate the longest day of the year.

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Despite some meltdowns during the drive…and one monstrous diaper issue on the way home…I’m calling the trip a total success. I know it sounds strange to say that when my mom might be facing cancer, but I’m glad we all talked about it. I think we’re in a better place moving forward. Now, we just wait for more results….everyone cross your fingers!!

Categories: Celebrations, doctors, Family, health | 6 Comments

Let’s just do a re-cap….

So, yeah…it’s been a very long and very difficult few weeks here. And because writing it all out would take WAY more time than I currently have…bullet-points is the way to go!

  1. Cadet has been going through some sort of sleep regression. It started about 3 weeks ago. Staying up until 1am or waking at 3 am…for days on end. The lack of sleep caused us all to get some sort of cold/sinus thing. It wasn’t fun. I’m just now feeling back to my normal energy levels…after almost two weeks. Over the past week, we thought it had faded…but on Monday night he stayed awake until 3am. Yes. I ended up driving him in the car until he passed out. And last night he was up from 1-4am.
  2. Despite his lack of sleep, Cadet has been learning new things. He’s putting two words together very well. He’s starting to understand the concept of how his words can impact what I do…and he’s started telling me (frequently) what to do: “up, move, outside” or “sit, lay down, snuggle”. Of course, it’s all in Cadet-ese, but it’s very cute. On Tuesday, we went to the beach and Cadet had a great time. He calls it the “ocean”, which in Cadet-ese sounds like “oh sh!t”. McRuger and I find that endlessly hysterical. I’ve been trying to get it on video!
  3. My BIL/SIL and Snail (my niece) were staying with us for almost a week. It was very difficult. VERY!! BIL/SIL are having a rough patch in their marriage, so it was tension-city in our home. Lots of fighting (them) and lots of hiding (us). The tension in the house was so hard to handle, that most of the time I ended up cranky at the end of the day…BIL/SIL fought almost constantly, and SIL vented to me. In her vents, SIL also talked a lot about how things are going in the bigger family circle, and it shed some light on a few things. McRuger’s extended family is going through some rough times: medical problems, legal problems, money troubles, and just general unhappiness. It’s why this family reunion has become such a hot-button topic.
  4. McRuger’s cousin’s wedding was a total disaster for us. It was a 3.5 hour drive to get there, and another 3.5 hours to come back. Since Cadet doesn’t do well in hotels, we decided to do it all in one day. Cadet was so dysregulated by the time we got to the wedding that we ended up not actually seeing much of the wedding at all (cue meltdown right as the bride was coming down the aisle). We spend a little time with the family, paid our respects to the bride and groom…and then left ASAP. Cadet was freaked out by all the people, new sights, and not having his normal schedule. He was getting to the place where he couldn’t look at us. Not good. Cadet didn’t sleep in the car, screamed most of the last hour home, and it took him close to a full 24 hours to get regulated again. We’re going to think long and hard before doing something like that again.
  5. The one bright spot over that week was seeing how Cadet interacted with Snail. BTW, I’m calling her Snail because she just learned to walk and moves slowly. But, anyway, Cadet is in love with Snail. He treated her (mostly) very gently and kindly. I was worried about him tackling her or getting aggressive with his toys, but those concerns didn’t come to fruition. Yes, a few times he gave her a rough hug and tried to pull her down, but overall he was wonderful. It was remarkably lovely to see how they interacted.
  6. Last week, McRuger was away on business. So, my mom came to visit. It was lovely having her here and we got a few projects done. She caught me up on all the gossip and news from my hometown. And, in a small town, there’s always lots of news and gossip. The greatest moment was when my mom whipped out the family cookbook to give to me. It’s one that my Grams wrote up before my grandfather died, and it has a ton of recipes that Grams (and other family members) loved. But, most importantly, it had a recipe for Bean Glop. Yes, that’s the family name for it. My Aunt E used to make it, and I’ve been wanting to introduce McRuger to it. Bean Glop is a loose lentil loaf made with onions, peppers, tomatoes, cumin, and, of course, lentils. It’s amazingly good. I made it for McRuger, and he was in awe…it really is that good!
  7. I’ve been talking with MsJ about once a week, and texting a few times a week. She’s, amazingly enough, doing quite well. She’s in good spirits and about half way through her current pregnancy. Her 2nd oldest son (Cadet’s half brother) just graduated from high school and will be signing his contract to go into the Navy this week. We sent him a little money to be able to celebrate or get any supplies he may need. MsJ was really touched that we thought to do that. She and I have been talking quite a bit about adoption. I feel like she’s processing her emotions about Cadet’s adoption, both positive and negative. Some of it’s hard to hear, but I know it’s healthy for her to have someone to talk to.
  8. Father’s Day is looking to be relatively quiet here. It’s one of the few weekends where very little is happening for our family this summer. McRuger picked out a new pocket knife as his gift, and we plan on spending the day enjoying the quiet.
  9. Our babysitter, Tulip, who has been with us for a year just found a full-time job. Which means, I need to start the search for Cadet’s new baby-sitter. I hate this. It’s so time-consuming and nerve-wracking. Tulip and I automatically hit it off, it just was right for her to work with us. Now, I’m starting at square-one. I asked Tulip for advice, which was helpful, but she had no recommendations…as all of her babysitting friends already had jobs. So, the search begins…
  10. I have been working very hard to get my Etsy shop up and running after my vacation. I have several really cute things, which makes me very excited to see if they will sell. My mom did some work with me while she was here, and we’ve come up with some new ideas/designs.

Well, that’s about all from here. How have you all been?

Categories: Cadet, Celebrations, Family, feelings, health, sleep | 3 Comments

Mother’s Day Conversation…

It was Mother’s Day yesterday. A day that I become more and more ambivalent about as time goes by. I didn’t particularly like the day before we adopted, and now it seems more and more strange to celebrate it. One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, summed up some of my feelings in her 2010 article in Salon.

So, it was a low-key day here. McRuger and Cadet sponsored a rose in my name at a local botanical garden. There were a few cards, and I got to sleep in a bit, but it was a pretty normal day for us. We went to the Farmer’s Market and picked up a flat and a half of organic strawberries. Most of the morning was spent turning that into jam. Cadet wanted to eat most of the strawberries, so he sat on the kitchen floor with a few of his toy animals and a huge bowl of strawberries. Pretty sure he was in toddler heaven!

In the afternoon, I texted MsJ to see if she was up for a chat…and she was. In the text, I told her that Cadet needed to speak to both of his moms on Mother’s Day. Apparently, she was on the bus when she got that text, and she teared up when she saw that I had said that.

We talked for a while, she had a “conversation” with Cadet about his toes and the color of the trees. Then, Cadet ran off for the “ma-cheee” that papa was making (mac and cheese). MsJ and I talked about a few things…her life, my life, and then she brought up adoption. I always pay extra attention when I hear MsJ talk about adoption, I want to know her honest feelings about it.

She told me that she was so thankful and blessed that we have kept our promises to her about keeping her in Cadet’s life. I told her that she’s part of our family now, and we wouldn’t want it any other way. She then went on to relate a story to me that is all too common (sadly) in the adoption world. Here’s the story, in her words, as best I can remember.

MsJ: I have a friend named Sarah (name changed) who placed her child for adoption about a year after Cadet was born. Those adoptive parents promised an open adoption with letters and pictures and visits. On the day that child turned one, Sarah got a letter saying that the adoptive parents had “fulfilled their obligation” to her, and there would be no more contact. Sarah was beyond crushed. She has asked me several times why I got so lucky to have contact. She wants to know how I chose you so well. She cries when she sees the pictures you text and the funny stories you share. Rain, why do adoptive parents do that? 

Me: Excuse my language, but some adoptive parents are ignorant a**holes. (Pause to let MsJ start breathing again after laughing hysterically for a few moments).

MsJ: Don’t they know what this is like? Don’t they know how much this hurts? It’s like having a leg amputated. Sometimes things go wrong, and it’s best for someone that the leg to be removed. But that leg is still a part of you. You don’t stop loving the leg. It hurts like hell to let it go. I placed Cadet with you because it best for me and for him, but it’s a pain I can’t describe knowing he’s not with me anymore. Then I get a text from you with a picture of Cadet hugging Em or trying to balance a cheerio on his nose, and that pain stops just a little bit. I know he’s happy, safe, and loved like water.

Me: MsJ, you’re family to us. You’re loved too, just as Cadet is loved. We know that you knowing Cadet and him knowing you is what’s right for all of us. We’re not perfect, but having you be part of Cadet’s life is not negotiable.

MsJ: I just want you to know that even though there’s pain, having you keep your promises has made me trust people just a little more than I used to. I’m blessed that Cadet has such good parents. 

Me: I can’t imagine the pain. Thank you for trusting me enough to share that. We are just as blessed to have you in our lives.

By this time, both MsJ and I were in tears and sniffling. She shared a little more good news from her life, talked about her other children, and then asked to talk to Cadet again. I put her on speaker phone, Cadet smiled and said “Ma-Chee, mmmmm” and then “Bye Bye Ma ******** (her name)”…and we all laughed and cried a bit more.

Then Cadet started to get fussy because I wasn’t giving him enough attention and he wanted me to read him a book. And we hung up the phone shortly after that.

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MsJ is right, I don’t know the pain she’s been through. I honestly can’t imagine it. I get a bit preachy about honoring open adoptions. And, frankly, I think adoptive parents who close adoptions (without legitimate reasons) are, in fact, ignorant a**holes. I understand the desire of wanting to be the only mother, and remember letting the attachment to that title go. But, never did I once want to let go of the relationship we have have with MsJ.

Cadet has two moms. He always will have two moms. In the years to come, when we eventually die…he will still have two moms. Neither of us doesn’t deserve any less respect or love than the other.  Pain (of uniquely different varieties) has brought us to adoption and this relationship. But, that doesn’t mean that the relationship has to be painful. Cadet is a joyful soul, and he has plenty of love to share. McRuger and I have plenty of love to share. MsJ loves Cadet. And I firmly believe that no one can have too much love…especially kids.

Before I hung up with MsJ, I shared with her a story from Cadet’s week. It’s a story that defines what kind of kid he’s becoming. It’s a story where I can see how much love Cadet has, and how MsJ’s love and our love are shining through him.

We were taking Cadet on a walk (he was riding his bike). The intention was to go to the park, but it was loud and full of people. So, we started to walk through the park, and get to our normal walking route on the other side. There were tons of kids playing, yelling, screaming, laughing. Cadet, almost immediately, fixed his attention on a girl across the park. She was about 10 or 11, alone, sitting on the ground, against a tree. Her hoodie was up, and her head was down. Everything about her screamed sadness and loneliness. With no prompting, Cadet rode his bike directly to her, ignoring the other kids.  He stopped right in front of her. He sat quietly for a moment. And then he said “Hi” and waved his hand. She didn’t look up. He sat on his bike quietly for a moment, then waved again and said “Hi”…just a bit louder. She still didn’t look up. Cadet started to wave his frantically at her, saying “hi” over and over. It took a minute or so, but she finally looked up. Cadet stopped his frantic waving and gave her a huge smile. He said “Hi” one more time. She took a moment, and gave Cadet a smile and waved back. Cadet gave her another smile, said “bye” and rode off.  The girl watched him go, and as she put her head again, she had a smile on her face.

I could be cynical and say that this was just part of Cadet’s autism showing through…and his need to say “hello” to people he meets. But, I don’t really think that. I think that Cadet saw someone in pain, and he wanted to do something about it. He didn’t have the words to say: “Hey, it’s going to be okay” or “How can I help”, so he used the tools in his toolbox: a big smile, a wave, and “hi”.

When I finished telling MsJ that story, she echoed the words in my heart….”That was the best Mother’s Day present I could have gotten”.  I feel the same. Love is love. Sometimes love is big, grand gestures. Sometimes love is a wave and a smile. Sometimes love is talking to your child about toes and trees, on the phone from a thousand miles away. Sometimes love is hearing “Mama” again for the first time.

So, I may not be a huge fan of the holiday…but I’m a huge fan of love…and the people it brings together.

Categories: Other Stuff | 10 Comments

Detective Mom

Being the parent of a kid with special needs is like being an over-worked detective. Each day, you get new clues and hints into how your child’s brain is working…but it’s never enough. There’s lots of “well, maybe, but” statements in our home.

Yes, Cadet is communicating better. Yes, I am more able to discern and anticipate his needs. But, there’s nothing less static than a 2.5 year old with “issues”. Every day is a new opportunity for something different to happen, and the detective work begins all over again.

A week or so ago, Cadet bit me. Hard. It really hurt. He didn’t break the skin, but that’s only because he bit me through my dress. He wasn’t angry. He wasn’t throwing a tantrum. He was giving me a hug….and then he bit me.  Cue my “detective brain” going into over-drive. What caused the bite? What was happening right before he bit me? How do I react appropriately? He hasn’t done it since…so what was it about?

This bite also coincided with more incidences of Cadet pushing or “tackling” his classmates (or other children). It’s clear that he’s not tackling or biting out of malice, in fact most of the time he’s happy when he’s doing these things. Most likely it’s that his brain is over-stimulated with happiness. His teachers/therapists and I have been working on ways of redirecting his energy. Even though we’re working on the behavior, it’s still exhausting trying to understand the motivation behind the behavior.

One big problem is trying to discriminate between “sensory seeking” behavior, toddler behavior, and just boy behavior. Plus, we don’t know what’s “normal” for him. Is he acting out because he needs sensory input, or just because he’s a toddler testing his boundaries? Is he chewing on his fingers because he’s finally getting in those molars, or does he need more oral stimulation (chewing ice or crunching raw carrots)?

Then there’s the “pain issue”. We discovered pretty recently that Cadet doesn’t feel pain like other kids, he actually under-registers pain. Let me give you an example: several weeks ago, we were having a normal weekend evening. McRuger was finishing some work up on the couch, I was clearing away the dishes, and Cadet was playing with his cars. Cadet went into his room to grab another car, came back and started playing in the kitchen as I cleaned up. He was behind me, chatting to himself/me, and I was chatting back. This went on for about 5-10 minutes. When I turned around, there was a small pool of smeared blood at his feet and bloody footprints leading into the kitchen. He had a large cut on his big toe (we later discovered from a piece of loose tile in the kitchen floor).  I called in McRuger, we cleaned/bandaged it up, and then looked at our son in bewilderment. I have had similar cuts, and they have all hurt quite badly. He never shed a tear or alerted us. In the regular course of play, Cadet regularly receive bumps/cuts that I know would send a normal kid into hysterics…but Cadet will either not cry or quickly recover. His teachers have noticed the same thing. They know that if Cadet is crying…he has really hurt himself. So, we have to watch him extra carefully. I know all the bumps/cuts/scrapes on his body, because I know that he may not alert me if something hurts him. Our babysitter knows to text or call if Cadet cries after hurting himself. It’s just something we are very careful with. I have to search for clues to see if my son is hurt…which seems crazy to me.

All of this is socially draining for us and Cadet. No one wants a play date with the kid that tackles or just wants to play quietly in a corner (those are just two of Cadet’s myriad of moods). At the park, Cadet can get easily overstimulated and can melt down within minutes. To make matters worse, he doesn’t quite know how to interact with other kids just yet, so he stays on the outside…waiting for kids to invite him to play, which they don’t. Which makes me want to cry….. Most of the parents at Cadet’s school are embarrassed or overwhelmed by their child’s diagnosis, many avoid eye contact or don’t engage in conversation. It’s hard to be around “normal kids” Cadet’s age…seeing their achievements can throw me into tears. And so our social circle has slowly started to collapse. No one understands, unless you have lived with this.

People have told me that Cadet will “just grow out of it” or “he’s just a boy”.  Some offer unsolicited advice about “avoiding vaccines” or “trying X diet” or “this therapy that I saw on TV”. Others have told me that he “must have special gifts” or that “this is God’s plan” or that I “haven’t been given anything I can’t handle”. Occasionally, people try to comfort me by complaining about their own children…as if their busy social schedule will make me feel better (????). I know they are just trying to be helpful. I know they are baffled as to what to say. But, I can see in their eyes that they are feeling sorry for Cadet and me. They see his differences, not his talents. They want to talk about why he’s different from other kids, not what makes him special. They don’t care that he can do most physical feats a kid twice his age can’t. They don’t care that he can figure out how things work really easily or that he loves to ride his bike. I can see that they are only noticing his quietness.

I think the phrase I hate the most is: “You are so brave to be raising a kid with these challenges.” I HATE that.  As if I have a choice? Cadet is my son. I love him with a ferocity that indescribable. But, I am not strong and I am not brave. I cry for my son and his challenges. I am angry that he has to face so much at such a young age. I wish every day that he was neuro-typical.  I hope and pray with every ounce of my energy that he will make a breakthrough, that soon he will put two and two together and everything will fall into place. I live in fear of the future. Will he one day talk? Will he be able to make friends? Will he know love? Will he be independent? Is he getting the right therapy? What does his educational future look like? Those are not the thoughts of a “brave” mother.

A while ago, a reader asked about what you say to parents with a child that’s just been diagnosed with Autism. The answer is pretty easy: “That must be so hard to hear. How can I support your family?” As with all curveballs in life, getting a diagnosis of anything is like boarding a plane to France…only to disembark in North Dakota….it’s not the time you imagined. There’s fear, confusion, embarrassment, and anger. Many parents refuse to seek help for their child because of the judgements of others. Parents sometimes don’t even talk about it in their own families, for fear of what will be said. Did you know the divorce rate among parents with an autistic kid is over 75%? The rates of depression, alcoholism, addiction, and even suicide attempts in that same group are insanely high as well. And the help and support of friends/family is needed more than before. But talking about your child having autism, or any other special need, is scary. Will your mom, aunt, friend simply talk past your concerns? Will they only see the child’s needs, and not their strengths?

As I’m writing this, my dear son is working with his new therapist. She’s working on getting him to request (or “manding”) things he wants instead of just taking them. He needs frequent breaks for crashing or jumping or running. He gets frustrated easily when he doesn’t get the right answer. Later, they will work on categorizing pictures: animals with animals, furniture with furniture, cups with cups…and so on. Each time he does something right, he gets a treat (today, popcorn), and she claps with him as he looks at me to say “Ta Dah”.  I look at the huge smile on his face, and I want to scoop him up in the worlds biggest hug. I want to tell him that everything will be okay, but he doesn’t know that anything is wrong. At the end of the session, he will curl up on my lap, we’ll read a book or two, and then take a nap (he in his crib, me on the couch). And later, another session…this time speech. And the cycle continues.

Please know, I’m not complaining. Cadet is an amazing kid. He’s happy, loving, and has a laugh that lights up a room. I know he’s smart. I know he’s got talent. I know he’s tough. I know that he wakes up most mornings with a smile on his face and a song on his lips (which is more that I can say for myself). I know that no matter what the future brings, I will always be there for him. I know that some day I will have a conversation with my son. But, in the meantime, I search for the clues that will lead me to a better understanding of Cadet’s brain. I hold him tight, kiss his smiling cheeks, and say yet another prayer that one day I’ll understand why he’s been given such a heavy burden at such a young age.

 

Categories: Adoption, autism, Cadet, developmental delay, health, SPD | 7 Comments

You are fired…

On Monday night, McRuger and I sent an e-mail to the two directors of Cadet’s “school”, telling them that Therapist X would no longer be welcome in our home. They both got back to us within the hour, and were apologetic that we had been dealing with this.

Tuesday rolled around and McRuger dropped Cadet off at school with no incident. But, when I got to the school to pick up Cadet, I ended up speaking to one director for over 20 minutes about our concerns with Therapist X.

In retrospect, there were lots of warnings that Therapist X wasn’t really right for Cadet. She spent a lot of time talking to me about other jobs she was interviewing for (she asked me once to be a reference for her, which I declined), about how the school didn’t pay her enough, and why she didn’t like the direction the school was going. I would regularly hear about her wild weekends or the trouble she was having with her landlord or her ex. She regularly broke school confidentiality rules when talking about other students (the rule being you NEVER discuss the diagnosis of others). Therapist X would also regularly forget Cadet’s binder at school (his binder is how they track progress) and claim to not understand his new goals/charting. And then, there was the cell phone issue.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was when our beloved babysitter told us that the few times she’d been here to supervise sessions with Therapist X…our babysitter ended up doing most of the work while Therapist X played on her cell phone. We were shocked.

On Tuesday night, Therapist X texted me…clearly very upset. She stated that she wished I hadn’t talked to her supervisors, and rather I had just worked things out with her. I didn’t respond, because I knew that her supervisors had told her all of my concerns and why she was being taken off Cadet’s rotation. What more was there to say?

On one hand, I feel bad. Therapist X is a young woman who is just starting out in life.  This is her first “real” job in the “real” world. I remember being in her shoes. Shouldn’t I give her some breathing room? Then I remember that I am paying for these services for my kid. I shouldn’t feel bad about asking for anything less than exactly what he needs!

By Wednesday morning, Cadet had a new therapist assigned and I have already met with her. She will most likely be a much better fit for Cadet’s needs and our family.

This morning, when I dropped off Cadet, the second director spoke to me and apologized profusely that she had sent Therapist X into our home. She also alluded to the fact that Therapist X had been having trouble with other families. She also seemed to indicate that Therapist X had been fired from the school.

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It’s been a bit stressful dealing with all of this. Cadet loved Therapist X and always enjoyed his time with her. So, not having her in his life must be confusing to him. But, I’m glad that we will be getting better help for him in the future.

Categories: autism, Cadet, Choices, developmental delay, Questions, SPD | 4 Comments

Another random update…

Yeah, yeah, yeah…life is life. And life is busy.

Every day I have the intention of writing a post. Every day I open my browser, log on, write a few paragraphs and then something else happens to grab my attention. Life. But, on to the updates….

  • Easter went well. We traveled to my parent’s house/Bro’s ranch for the holiday. We had a good time. There was an Easter egg hunt for the cousins, some good meals, and we spent a lot of time with the baby chicks at the farm. Cadet wanted to squeeze them, thankfully all the chicks are still alive and breathing! We learned a lot about being “gentle”!!
  • I’ve had several conversations with MsJ since my last post. While I wouldn’t say that her life has gotten easier, it seems to have stabilized a bit. We’ve talked a lot about Cadet’s adoption and her feelings about it (positive and negative). We’ve spoken about race and how best to integrate Cadet’s multicultural background into his life. Overall, I feel very pleased about the progress of the relationship.
  • Cadet is doing well. His vocabulary is exploding. And while he’s still far behind most of his peers, he’s making really good progress. He’s actually trying to sing using words…which is huge. “Row Row Row Your Boat” sounds like: “oh-oh-oh-u-ot-gen-dow-steem-mer-mer-mer-mer-dife-deem.” It’s the cutest thing I’ve ever heard!! He’s mastered his balance bike and can even do “wheelies”.
  • McRuger and I have been having a bit of a rough time. We’re just so busy that we end up forgetting to pay attention to each other…even on date night. So, we’re working through that. Nothing serious, but it’s demanded that we refocus “down time” to “us” time. Thankfully, that seems to be working well, and we’re back on a happier track.
  • We’re seriously considering putting plans for Adoption #2 on hold for the next six months. We are having some issues with both our home study agency and our adoption agency. Last week, Lawyer A e-mailed and said that they’d like ANOTHER profile from us…a new profile….redone. They have decided that our current profile doesn’t show us as being “active” enough (despite the fact that many of the pictures are of us playing with Cadet outside). They’d like pictures of us on bikes, playing tennis/golf/basketball (without Cadet), and/or pictures of us in motion. When I asked why the changes needed to be made now, they said that the current profile doesn’t do enough to highlight our active lifestyle. Translated: you’re overweight and not sure if we can “sell” you. If we dropped them as our attorneys, we’d lose about 3k…but I’m tired of not getting the full story from them. Plus, the next 5-6 months are pretty busy for us anyway, so why not just relax and not worry about adoption? Anyway, it’s being discussed.
  • This week, I’m firing one of Cadet’s therapists. She’s one of his Floortime/Play therapists provided by the school. She’s looking for other work (actually asked me to be a reference), and has been very “checked out” when working with Cadet. Last week, I actually caught her playing games on her cell phone while she was supposedly working with Cadet on his goals. I confronted her about it, and she denied it. This week, I’m talking to her supervisor, and asking that she be removed from Cadet’s rotation.
  • After several warnings over the last month on our neighborhood’s Facebook page, we had our mail stolen one day last week. Not good!! I let the post office and police know…we’ll see what happens next.
  • My Etsy store had a huge weekend. McRuger and I were out running errands while our babysitter watched Cadet. My phone made the “ka-ching” sound (you know, the cash register sound) and I had sold over $120 dollars in stuff…to one person! Less than an hour later, it happened again…this time $40 dollars. And once more for $20. Yikes. Now my store looks bare and pathetic…need to make more stock! But, it’s exciting!
  • There’s been some sad news from McRuger’s family. McRuger’s dad (FIL)was found to have several tumors in his arm. The doctors went in and removed 90% of the tumors (benign), and feel like he will made a full recovery and live cancer-free for a long time. However, it’s put the family gatherings into new prospective. McRuger’s folks (older than mine) are having more and more health issues. We don’t see them often, and I think McRuger’s been thinking a lot about that. On top of McRuger’s dad’s health news, one of McRuger’s aunts had heart surgery a few weeks ago as well. She’s recovering well, but it was just another bit of sad news. The issues around scheduling this summer’s reunion haven’t been resolved yet…or even really addressed. FIL’s health has taken precedence. MIL has been talking about doing “Family Reunion T-Shirts” and inviting yet more family. I have a feeling that FIL’s health scare has shaken her up quite a bit.

 

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That’s really it. I hope you all are well. If you’re feeling generous…go wish my friend Robyn congrats on her new job and give some support to Mrs. Gamgee who’s having a rough time!!!.

Categories: Adoption, Cadet, Celebrations | 1 Comment

Wherein, I give up even trying for a weekly post!

Oh wow, it’s been a crazy few weeks. Just crazy. And, for the most part, there’s not be a lot of happy news.

1) Cadet has had his first-ever ear infection. I feel somewhat thankful that we made it to 2.5 years without one, although I hate that he had to experience one. At first, he had a tiny runny nose. A little bit of a cough. I thought it was allergies due to the changing weather. No fever. No hacking cough. And his eyes were watering for no reason. So, allergies, right?  NOPE!  One night, Cadet completely melted down. He cried for two hours. No fever. No reason. Just crying. It took him a while to get to sleep. Then he woke at 2am, wanting to climb into bed with us (which is rare). He and I fell asleep on the couch for a while, after some tussling with Em in the bedroom. When Cadet woke in the morning, he was still crying. And this is a kid who rarely cries. He’s a happy kid. All he wanted to do was snuggle in bed..my mama alarm went off. I decided to try going to OT, on the off chance he just needed some sensory input. Nope, he just wanted to be rocked. So, off to the doctor we went. Dr. Smiles was shocked to see Cadet is such a bad mood. But, a quick look, and we had a diagnosis…double ear infection. Anti-biotics and pain reliever for him. And lots of sleep. He’s finally feeling much better.

2) McRuger had part of a tooth break off last week. We had just finished seeing Noah (don’t bother, it was pretty bad), and having Vietnamese food, and one of his molars literally just chipped off. He didn’t have any pain until yesterday. Turns out he had a major cavity and was very close to needing a root canal, but it was finally decided to not go in that direction.

3)  I got sick several days after Cadet was diagnosed. It went from some mild throat pain to major throat pain over the course of a week. I didn’t get an ear infection, but a throat/tonsil infection. I basically haven’t been able to eat or drink much for the last 5 days. I’ve never had to take pain meds for an infection before, but this time I was in so much pain, I needed them. McRuger had to take 3 days off to help care for Cadet. After taking a series of swabs and culturing them, turns out it was a nasty viral infection…not bacterial. So, the antibiotics I was put on (and vomited from), weren’t actually doing much good. Today, is the first day I have felt relatively normally in quite some time (and I had to take two naps!). McRuger is being such an amazing helper: dishes, laundry, fixing dinner, caring for Cadet, dealing with my moaning, and even doing the shopping! This is all in the midst of one of his busiest times at work.

4) McRuger’s family is planning a huge gathering this summer, the first in 5 years. Sadly Molly (SIL), who is organizing it, didn’t bother to take into consideration one of my main scheduling issues…so it’s become a huge, stressful debate about who’s schedule is more important. Some of you may remember the planning debacle that was her wedding.  Plus, she just informed us that she and her family want to stay with us for a week in less than a month (for a family wedding). She has started issuing orders about what I “should have ready”. Ummmm, okay…no.

5) We’ve had several conversations with MsJ. Things are not going well in her life. I’m not going to get into all the details, but here’s the briefest of summaries: she’s pregnant again (16 weeks), the pregnancy is high-risk because of her age and a risk for pre-eclampsia, she married the father of the baby (a man with some serious issues), they were homeless for the better part of the holidays through February (due to her new husband’s gambling addiction), she doesn’t have a job and is supposed to be on bed rest, and she thinks her husband is cheating on her with his ex (the ex is also pregnant). There’s more, but that’s the summary. We ended up sending her some money, because she wanted to leave her husband, but that ended up not happening. On the plus side, Cadet and MsJ actually has a bit of a conversation, and that was pretty amazing. Frankly, both McRuger and I are at a loss as to how best to help her. Money clearly isn’t going to help, but we don’t know what can do.

6) Last week, we got a bill from Cadet’s school for over $6,000 dollars. For some reason, they just decided to back-bill us for a whole bunch of stuff that they never told us we’d be charged for. I’ve heard from several other parents that the received a similar bill. We are all fighting it, because the school’s lack of a competent financial officer, shouldn’t be a punishment for us.

7) On a recent call to our credit card company, it was brought to our attention that we have a TON of “points” saved up. McRuger and I looked into it, and it was decided that using those points, we’d get some gift cards to a electronics store and get me a new iPad. I’ve had my iPad for 3 years, and while it’s working okay…I use it enough to need more storage and faster speeds. So, once the gift cards arrived, McRuger bought me a brand new iPad mini. I love it. It’s got tons of storage, and fits in my purse!

8) My mom came for a short visit (she was attending a local conference). She got to watch the first episode of the new season of  Game of Thrones with us. That was a ton of fun. We made some great plans for our trip to their house for Easter.

9) Speaking of plans, Easter is going to be fun. We’re heading to the farm. McRuger is taking two days off, so it will be a 4-day weekend for us. My parents are going to watch Cadet one afternoon so McRuger and I can go on a date. That should be fun, as McRuger has never really explored that area with me. Sadly, my favorite restaurant just closed, so I’m going to have to scout around for something new and exciting.

10) For the first time in years my car had a flat tire this morning. I think it was tired of the three (yes, 3) visits I’ve made to my doctor over the past 9 days. McRuger discovered it as he was running out for groceries. He took it in to the local shop. It was at that point that he also discovered that all the other tired were within 3-4 months of needing to be re-tread. Funny, I had just taken it into the dealer, and they said the tires were fine (but I’m not sure they had checked). But, McRuger (not a gullible guy) looked at the evidence and concluded that I needed all new tires.

11) Well, those are the highlights/lowlights. It’s another early-t0-bed night for me….the zillionth this moth, it seems.

Categories: Adoption, Cadet, Choices, health, Household, McRuger | 5 Comments

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