Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Wrap Up, IEP and Year End.........

Hello everyone,

I hope you all had a nice Christmas holiday if you celebrate it. If not, I hope you had a peaceful day with family/friends.

I realize there haven't been many posts on this blog as of late, but I have to admit it has been a hard year.  I was reminded of how hard it has been when a disagreement with a best friend came to light on Facebook and I was reminded that when I posted a few 'positive' posts that people noted it was nice to see them. I am sorry if there have been some 'downer' posts, but I can't explain how hard it has been this year.  Losing my mom was losing my best friend and I just miss her very much.  Then losing my 2nd mother, my English cousin, 4 mos later has been hard.  Dave has had some health challenges this summer and end of year that have been eye opening for him and while manageable, also hard for me in light of everything else going on. I have not shared that here or on FB, but it's made for a challenging year.  I will be very glad to see the end of 2012 and will be toasting the heck out of 2013.  :-)  Thank you all for the support over the last year, I really have appreciated all the support I have received here, personally and on FB.

We had a great end of year for the girls this month.  I got to go hear BGA's class sing The 12 Horrible Days of Christmas on the last day of school before break.  She called me to tell me there was an asembly and would I come. I had no idea there was one.  She finished off her call with "I love you Mommy" twice to make sure I got the point.  I noticed though that she didn't cling to me this time and while she wanted me there, she didn't want me to interact unless she initiated it. She's growing up! Her class sat near where I stood (no seats as I got there late because of a train stopped on tracks).  It was hilarious and her class wrote it with the teacher, then performed it (the teacher also is a performer, I believe she sings with a group).  It was hilarious and the entire assembly was great as I watched the teachers participating from singing and dancing, etc.  It was great to see how enthusiastic they all were and what a great choice in this new school that we made.  The only remark that her teacher made was that she is not giving her any trouble other than, "she likes to chat."  I told the teacher, "Oh, she's just like her mama."  LOL.  But it was nice to hear this from the teacher. It made the previous 4 years worth it.  The teacher told us at Back To School Night, that she can see her really trying not to get in the middle of stuff with other kids. That's such a huge improvement for her. It makes me feel very proud of who she is becoming. I see that redhaired temper appear sometimes but for the most part I see her trying harder to keep the peace with her sister, rather than blowing up at her. I only see her when she is just beyond frustrated, getting mad and yelling at LGA. I've been told that she helps LGA at school a lot (even though she has denied it) and LGA's teacher's husband, who is a sub and has subbed in both LGA's class and BGA's (and he refused to go back to BGA's class) told me that BGA was the only one who did not give him any trouble and was a great kid to have in class.  This also makes me proud.  BGA used to be in the middle of anything that went on and I am sure that she was loud and hyper when there was a sub as one of the subs in her class last year told her the equivalent of "shut up" in Spanish not realizing she knew what it meant.  The principal refused to handle it when I complained and I did complain. I even told the principal I realized that she could be hyper and probably was a handful, but the sub did not need to tell her to "shut up" and that there were many other ways to have gotten her to behave.

LGA finished the year on a high note as well.  We had her IEP the Monday before school ended.  It is always a bit unnerving to go in to meet with the teacher, speech teacher and a 'member' of the staff (this can usually be the prinicpal, vice if they have one, or the counselor).  I am not sure our school has a counselor, but has a principal (woman) and vice (very YOUNG 30ish woman).  The principal chose to sit in on the meeting and we had it in her office. I believe the principal is either younger than me by 3 or so years or she is my age.  She was very nice, very involved, and I got a great feeling from her.  I love LGA's teacher, love, love, love this woman.  She's got over 20 yrs experience, appears to be in her 60's, and is a great teacher.  She led the IEP, very professionally, and had great strategies for teaching LGA, said she was making progress and gave us tips on how to work with her.  The principal wants to set up her mentoring program and will have an older kid mentor LGA which we did at her other school.  BUT.......she wants to inspire some confidence in LGA so will possibly have LGA mentor a kinder student since LGA gets along well with the younger kids.  She was very involved in the meeting and didn't just sit there like the previous principa did at the old school.  The speech teacher is also an older woman, and she looks to be in her 60's as well.  However, for the first time, she had actual goals for LGA and will give us words to work on with her.  This has NEVER happened as the only times we asked to help or said we were working on words with her we were told to stop because she wouldn't respond and we'd be doing more damage than good for her.  WTH??  This teacher said 'no, we are going to work on words and she will have homework. I have goals for her.'  She also told me how much LGA is bonded to me by the way she talks about me all the time.  That made me feel good.  I think Dave and I felt for the first time since we started having IEP's for LGA (in kinder, she's now in adjusted special ed day class, exposed to 3rd grade level at times) that this was the very first positive one where we felt we were supported and our child was succeeding. LGA has taken a jump this year, reading small sentences, and spelling, some double digit math (although math continues to be hard for her to grasp) and just overall doing well.  The teacher has gotten to know her, really likes her (we had this last year when she started mainstream 2nd before we moved her and her teacher there, an older male, really liked her and was sad when she left to go to special ed day class), said she's a pleasure to have in class and really knows how to get the best out of her.  She's been very supportive to me as well, given me strategies to work with her at home, and we've seen a decrease of physical use when she's frustrated as her words have increased, and as her teacher now has her draw out her frustrations and works with the kids when they have issues. I have seen her more happier, and not as many issues.  We also had a very good conversation on Christmas eve, where she talked patiently, sounded out her words and didn't throw a fit if I couldn't understand her because I could....she took her time.  Now when we help her with a word she can repeat it back and I see her trying hard to learn words.  She was happy on Christmas eve, she was into her little tree in her room and singing the Christmas music (she's SO disappointed it's over on the all day Christmas music radio station on her radio in her room).  It was a nice day.  I couldn't believe the change. I know she's growing up but she still is 2 yrs behind emotionally.  It was nice to see a glimpse of a more 8 yr old LGA that day. I treasure that moment. She seems to be making great progress and I'm very thankful for the support we have school wise, as I know that is not always the case.  I read over part of her IEP and for 2010 it was very depressing.  The current IEP was the best we've had. She's making progress. I will take it.  The teen years may be hard for her, but after 4 yrs of struggles, I think with both girls, I will take this lull and enjoy it. 

Christmas Eve was nice, we went out to breakfast and the girls always enjoy doing that.  We ran some errands at Petsmart and Target (LGA has grown shoe and clothes size and some of her clothes do not fit. She had a pair of boots on that were 12 1/2 that she evidently wore last year but now she's in size 1, so she needed new boots, perfect as we had to brave Target for some supplies needed there). She got a pair of pink sparklys (that Dave fought me on saying they were not practical, but she loves them and EVERY girl needs a pair of pink sparklys.  If they'd been in my size I would have gotten a pair too!) and a pair of silver style ugg boots. I still want her to have a black pair of dressier boots but didn't find any.  We then stopped at the store and got deli meats, rolls, chips, cheeses, salami and pepperoni trays and stuff for Christmas breakfast.  We ate lunch with the salami and pepperoni tray then had sandwiches, diet root beer, and sweet nibbles for dinner. I wanted to get some moose munch (from Harry and David. We love the stuff) as Ross had it so I went back out (and had a bit of time to myself) but unfortunately Ross sold out of it.  I came home after a nice little break, and we finished off the night watching A Christmas Story on TBS.   It was just the 4 of us and it was quiet, but very nice.

Christmas day was quiet but fun.  It was very rainy and bone chillingly cold here.  We opened presents (and they slept in till 8, what a nice present for Dave and I) and then we all got ready and they played with their presents and when it was time - late afternoon - we went for dinner at Marie Callendars.  It wasn't the best meal there for the price, but it was nice to go out to a meal instead of cooking as we have in years past.  I didn't feel like cooking and neither did Dave. But it felt great to go out. I really wanted to see a movie, but no one wanted to go.  I thought that would have been a great day out to see a movie.  An older woman commented on LGA's new shiny pink ugg style boots at dinner.  She beamed.  She behaved well for the most part at dinner. We then came home and watched some tv, and then bed for the girls.  I was very cold and appear to have a mild cold. I knew I was getting a bit sick as I just couldn't seem to get warm on Christmas Day and felt cold all day long. 

Dave had Sunday, Christmas eve and Christmas day off.  He will have the same for New Years and the girls go back to school on 1/7.  He took 1/3 off (couldn't convince him to take off 1/2) so it will be a nice week next week as well. If the rain goes away we might be able to take a day trip or two.  We're staying in this week, and so far they are doing well. Minimal fights.  Temps are cold - upper 40's to low 50's, and rain has ended but expected back for the weekend.I'm resting as I don't feel well.  Laundry to be done, house needs to REALLY be done, but I have no energy so it will have to wait.  I'm thinking if I feel better at the weekend I will enlist two helpers to get it done.  ;-)

I took no pictures and on Christmas day during presents BGA said, "mom aren't you going to take pics?"  No, I just didn't feel like it. I think this year is the year with mostly phone photos and no real photos taken.  I guess we'll look back on that later, but I just wasn't in a mood to get out the camera and take any pics. I thought of taking a family pic before dinner, but couldn't get anyone to do what we needed (LGA has a hard time with transitions and putting up her electronic game was not easy for her) so we just barely got out the door.  I feel like I'm missing recording part of their childhood, but that's ok. I'm just gonna go with it. Maybe next year I will pick up the camera again and feel more like recording their events.  And that's ok too. I survived the first Christmas without my mom and it was nice and just the Christmas I needed this year.  Here's to a great 2013. I will be toasting the arrival of this new year wholeheartedly.

Be safe out there friends and enjoy the rest of your 2012.  Thoughts for you all of a wonderful 2013 filled with lots of special memories.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

We Had A Quiet Thanksgiving......Thankgiving Recap.

We had a nice quiet Thanksgiving holiday.  The girls have been off all week. I was NOT sure how that was going to go, because if you have been reading this blog, in the past, you know that holidays are not great here at Family of 4.  We have had our share of holidays where there was grieving, acting out, fits, tantrums, etc.  We would just count down the hours for the holidays to be over. 

Last year, our holidays were pretty good, and there were just a few issues here and there.  I thought, "well, I can certainly take that, it's an improvement over previous holidays."  This year, my mother was not with us, but I tried to downplay that and was able to get through the day with no crying.  I did not do very well this am, but it was short and brief and I just got through it, which is what I have been reading you have to do. But this am was the first time I had to send LGA to time out as she just would not listen, ignored me when I asked her to do something, put the dog's food on the living room floor (digging in their food bowls) so now the dogs think they must drag their food onto the carpet.  Ugh.  But she went to time out, did her time out and has turned it around.  I got straight to the point and told her if she didn't behave no movie today.  She turned it around.

On Wed before Thanksgiving I decided to go get my flu shot.  We weren't cooking and decided on a Marie Callendar's turkey breast, mashed potatoes (I hate making them but like to eat them) and pie.  I also got a very small 3lb ham because the girls really like it (Dave doesn't) and I don't mind it but prefer turkey.  It was nice to have both though.  So......decided to get my flu shot and when I found out (at Walgreens) that I had no co-pay, I decided to get the pneumonia shot as I was a preemie and colds settle heavily in my chest sometimes. 

A cute thing happened while getting the flu shot.  The pharmacist came out with the flu and pneumonia shots and the girls got visibly squirrely.  The pharmacist I am sure, is used to this, so he said, "who is next?"  They got even more squirrely, and I told him they'd had their flu shots already.  So then he said, "ok girls, you can hold your mom's hand if you want to."  Two girls immediately grabbed my hands and squeezed them.  They even said I should have an extra treat cause I had two shots!  LOL.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving day. I had the first ever (in my case) reaction to the flu shot.  Seriously I have NEVER had a reaction.  I have even had the pneumonia shot and flu shot 5 yrs ago (when I last had the two of them together as the pneumonia shot you only need to have once every 5 years) and did not have a reaction.  But this day I did. I had a mild version of the flu that I still feel (and my arm is sort of rashy at the injection site, also never had before) today, although not as bad as Thanksgiving day and the day after.  Dave worked all week, and had to be at work at 7, so I was up early to get my shower in and ready before he left.  So I was already tired.  I literally felt achy and my injection site hurt.  I just didn't feel like moving.  We all put sweats on and stayed in.  I got some of the small prep done and put out the stuff we'd need, and evidently took a 2 hr nap.  When I woke up Dave was heating up the turkey and made the glaze for the ham following the recipe I found and had laying on the table.  I helped him finish the rest of the meal and then we had a nice meal. I even did the dishes.  Poor LGA was hopped up hyper though and just physically could not sit still.  She tried but she just could not make it.  So bedtime followed and she did manage to crash an hour after bedtime.  But the thing I notice about this week off is she has been sleeping in till 7 or sometimes 8.  She was doing this last year but then this year with an early bus and summer, she was up at 6 sometimes before 6.  We will need to replace her black out curtains as they are pink and when the sun comes up it shines in on her room and it causes a pink glow.  Not the blackout that she needs so will need to go with a darker color.  I do believe it's time to update her room and get rid of the Disney princess theme as I think she's outgrowing it. She's had it for 3 1/2 yrs. She's growing up too.  We got rid of all the babydolls in her room last weekend.  :-(  Sigh.  My baby no longer wants to play with baby dolls.

Yesterday I felt pretty off and achy also.  We stayed in and the girls got to decorate their purple 2 inch Christmas trees. OH what fun they had.  I have no pictures as I am a slacker mom on photography lately. I have phone pics but have not figured out how to post them without them being thumbnail size.  They loved it. I put the lights on then let each girl decorate (thanks Target $1 decorations).  They had ornaments they'd made in school, they had cute little ornaments, etc.  They had a blast.  They wanted Daddy to see when he came home and couldn't wait for him to see their trees.  It was fun.  So far no one is messing with them either. I said during the day they could adjust ornaments, but once night time came it was bedtime and no playing with ornaments (which I wondered if LGA would do, since she's my OCD girl, but so far she has not touched her tree).  It was fun and while they wanted bigger trees I told them we'd see how they did this year and if all went well we'd maybe buy them larger trees (and they want pink, LOL).

I still feel achy (but each day better) today.  Wow, yuck, don't like flu reactions. It's messing me up.   Go away flu reaction.

SO I'd say that this holiday was a success, we laughed and joked at the table.  The meal was simple, as BGA likes it and she ate all of it (I made plain stove top and just added sauteed onion and celery and instead of water used chicken broth.  BGA hates stuffing and ate it all).  We had chocolate cream pie for dessert and that was a huge hit (my girls are not really pie eaters).  No one threw a fit or tantrum, it was great.  I hope it continues on for Christmas, however, Christmas is much more amped up, so I'm not going to hold out hope, but it was nice to have a good meal and no one got upset or threw a fit.  Come to think of it, Dave, Ariana and myself all had birthdays lately and they went well too.  I enjoyed having the girls home and they really as I said (hope I don't jinx myself for tomorrow!!!) behaved well all week long.  Today was the first time out all week.  And LGA turned it around. It's not always that way, but I am starting to see a connection (the school had a school wide program on behavior and what to do before you act, etc.) for LGA and that sometimes she can turn it around.  We have learned some coping skills and how to work with her to turn around her behavior and help her work through when she's upset, so I'm seeing some progress, which makes me happy.  It's still ongoing and it's still hard a lot of the time, but some progress is good.

Hope you all had wonderful holidays with your friends, family, or whoever you spent it with.  Thanksgiving 2012, was a nice, quiet one for us and other than really not feeling very well, it was a great holiday.  Who would ever have thought that we would get to this point and enjoy a holiday?  Nice.  :-)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Girl is 11............

Where did the time go???  BGA turned 11 yesterday.

I remember when she came home, at 6 yrs old.  She was scared, she didn't trust anyone, she wanted to be in control, she had so many emotions.

This year I have seen her grow a bit.  She started a new school, and had to leave her friends behind, the friends she developed, good or bad, over the last 4 yrs.  She didn't want to do it.  She found a friend at the new school and for some reason this year some of her confidence began to show. She is taking violin lessons and she is Seargant At Arms on the class council (she helps at awards assemblies and carries the flag during assemblies, complete with a class council t'shirt that she's very proud of).  She is wanting to be part of more activites at school.  She has the confidence to lead (she's always wanted to be the leader but would shy away from anything that was performance related).  Her school work has slipped, but we are allowing for that and trying to get her back on track.

I have seen her give in a bit more to her sister as well.  She used to not give in and there would be fights that would break out between the two sisters.  Now I see her give in more and I see a more compassionate side to her. 

We celebrated her birthday yesterday by going to her favorite buffet style restaurant, and then coming back for presents and cake.  She is getting out of the more toy style of presents and more into the 'tween/teen' presents. I am sad to see the toy part go (ie Barbies) but looking forward to buying more teen styles and shopping with her, as that was something my mother and I always enjoyed.  I gave her the first pair of tiny gold hoops and she loved them.  Wanted to wear them to school, but had to say no on that one.  I told her she can wear them next week when there is no school.

I am enjoying more conversations with her also on the ride back from school to home.  She shares her days with me, which is a plus.  In her other school she would just tell me her day was 'ok' and that would be it. I'm encouraging her to share more with me, actually both girls are doing it.  I am so glad LGA is doing it.  It is creating less tantrums after school, although there are still some fits/tantrums there if she's had a bad day.  She keeps it all in, then lets it all out at home where she feels safe to do so.  Some days it's hard, as I have to brace myself for it.  But as the girls are getting older, I am seeing more sharing, more older kid stuff rather than younger kid toys, behaviors, etc.  LGA still, due to her issues, has some younger than her age behavior, but I am seeing some more 8 yr old behavior coming in, and I have to say, I am enjoying this stage more than the younger behaviors.  I know this is a lull, though, when the teen years hit, it will all disappear. But at this time in my life, I am enjoying this time with them and they are comforting me (and frustrating me at times, as well, as all kids do).

I am proud of where BGA has come from and how much growth she has had in the last 4 1/2 years.  We had a pretty stress free birthday, and she did very well, behaviorwise.  There weren't any fits or pouts at all. That's a good birthday for us.  She is a totally different kid then the one who came to live with us.  That's not to say she doesn't have her own issues but there is growth and that is important.

I am looking forward to the girls being off a week from school next week, and I think there will be some crafts and movies (it's supposed to rain all week) in our week off.  We added our 4th dog, another Cavalier, (who will be our therapy dog, hopefully, once I get her trained) in Oct.  A young 1 1/2 yr old very small (for a Cavalier) dog.  We had to drive two hours to get her in the foothillls.  There were pine cones that we brought home (left in the garage in case any bugs were on them) so hoping to do the glue and glitter craft with the girls so we can put them on the mantel this year. I brought a few of my mother's Christmas decorations back with me (I have very few, other than tree and ornaments as I never really was able to afford to buy any decorations each year) so am looking forward to decorating a bit this year.  The girls have their own small Christmas trees to put in their rooms, so I just have to find some lights to put on them and they will be (courtesy of Target's $1 decorations, that I don't care if they get broken) able to decorate their own bedroom trees this year.  We will see how that goes, but I'm going to let them do it.

One thing I learned this week...........if you use Melatonin as a sleep aide for your child, not to go down a dose.  Poor LGA has not been able to sleep, was up 2 1/2 hours PAST her bedtime, talking loud, getting up out of her bed, etc.  It was a nightmare, she was tired and cranky and acting out and we were wishing she'd go to sleep as we needed her to be in bed by the time she went to bed.  Her teacher noticed and had a chat with me on Tuesday about her excessive talking.  She was napping on the bus, so once she gets a nap she would not go to sleep easily.  We finally got a 1mg pill to add to make her regular dose and she was asleep about 40 mins past her bedtime, but I allowed for that as it was BGA's birthday.  I hope that means we are back to our regularly scheduled bedtime.  Wow.  We have enough issues with her waking a couple of times a night, we do not need the issue of getting her to sleep as well.  Now I wish she would sleep in, at least as she sometimes can, till 7.  Getting up at the crack of dawn at 6 is not fun.

Hope you are all enjoying the week before Thanksgiving.  It was fun having BGA's bday this week.  I still need to go food shopping and I'm not looking forward to that. I hate grocery shopping, the picking of the items, putting them on the conveyer, loading and unloading and putting away. If I time it right I usually have Dave to help me.  We will see how that goes. Glad to have two little helpers though, they bring in the bags too which helps.  I just have to make sure I don't give them anything that can get damaged, eggs, sparkling water, that someone thinks is fun to shake up so when you open the bottle it sprays everywhere. I'm not speaking from personal experience, no.........

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Halloween and The Aftermath of Candy.............

How did your Halloween go?

Ours went pretty well.  The candy influx started the Friday before, at the Fall Festival I wrote about below.  More about candy to follow......

Halloween happens to be my birthday, so we have adopted a new tradition since the girls have been home. In the past we have been lucky enough to share 5 Halloweens with the girls.  Our first was with RachelZ, Heather, and their families, complete with trick or treating, dinner and birthday cake. It was nice but the girls were still grieving and it was a hard holiday.  The 2nd one we spent with my mother in laws, and mother in law made their costumes.  The 3rd one we spent with Aunt Kim, complete with dinner and bday cake.  The 4th one, last year, I had a wisdom tooth infection so I stayed home and the girls went trick or treating in the neighborhood with Dave and had a huge candy haul (which they traded in for toys).  We had dinner and cake when they got back.

This year I wanted to go with them so we ate a quick dinner (the girls and I went and got cake for my birthday together, that's an important step for them and they picked my cake last year too) and off we went.  The houses that had lights on in the neighborhood were few and far between.  After walking for a half hour without much luck, we looped around to our house, got in the car and drove around 3 neighborhoods, with much more luck.  LGA who has been fearless, was quite frightened by the houses with people dressed up.  She didn't mind the animated skeletons, etc., but did not care for the people dressed up.  Dave walked them up to those houses.  No one had any nightmares afterwards which is good, but they definitely had more fear this year. We just made sure one of us walked them up if they wanted to go and we moved on when they did not want to go to a house.

So the candy and wanting 'my' candy began immediately.  We came back for cake and ice cream so no one got candy that night but I let BGA take some to school to trade (first year I have let her do this, but she's in 5th and I figured it was time).  LGA immediately began to bug me for candy when she got home. I let them have a couple of pieces after school.  I let them have a piece or two, here and there, assuming they would trade it in.  No one seemed able to do that this year.  They must not have wanted a toy, even though toys are high on their list now (getting close to Christmas). 

The topper was last Saturday, when we decided to go see Wreck It Ralph.  The girls and Dave wanted to see this movie, so we waited till Dave got off work to go.  I did make baked oatmeal which had some sugar in it, and I did let them have a piece of candy at lunch.  They also were able to pack some candy in a ziploc baggie to take to the movie then we were going to eat at Red Robin, a family favorite.  Well..........all went well, till we got to Red Robin.  The girls were fine, but BGA had a bit too much fiber in the oatmeal (must remember this if she needs a bit of help in that area) and had a full tummy till she took care of business.  So she finally ate her dinner, but LGA put too much pepper on her spaghetti that she chose (spaghetti is her food, she orders it when we go out all the time).  I didn't see it for some reason, Dave only caught it when he looked over.  Normally giving her the pepper to put on food has not been an issue but twice now she has done this.  So no more pepper that she gets to put on her food by herself.  People say, "let them do it on their own."  All well and good but we have two eaters who if they accidentally put too much on, will refuse to eat their meal and we end up wasting it or in this case, a huge fit ensues (cause you knew that was coming right???).  So we do it for them and they get frustrated, but either they will do it on purpose or accidentally and then pick at and not eat the food.

So..............a small fit, that escalated, began to brew in LGA.  It became full blown when I asked her to mix up the pepper and that would make it easier to eat. I gave her some of my ribs that I ordered in case she did not want to eat the spaghetti, and she could eat those and the fruit she ordered with her plate.  However, the fit was brewing and then she blew.  Right in front of a baseball team of boys, the entire dining section (because Red Robin is sort of a loud place).  A couple behind us could not even close their mouths, they had open mouth jaw dropping looks on their faces (older couple).  Luckily it was at the end of dinner and we were able to leave the restaurant.  It was not pretty.  It was a candy high and then sugar drop of epic porportions.  Usually LGA has been great in restaurants, but this year, if she is facing across from her sister, she kicks her she starts something and her behavior has been almost 3 yr old tantrumish.  The only thing I can think of is she is emulating the kids in her special ed class.  But it's very frustrating, because our once good eater, and good kid to take to a restaurant is now a nightmare to take out.  You have to go over expectations and how we behave, etc.  Granted this one was a sugar high, but still it was not pretty.  I was pretty embarrassed. 

So this week as she has continued to ask about candy, we have focused on how candy makes us behave and feel.  She has gotten a piece or two, but that is it.  Then yesterday we told her the candy was done.  We will keep the gum as now that her caps are almost gone, we do let her chew gum.  Her behavior has been a bit off due to the time change and she's tired more in the evenings and mornings.  Mornings continue to be a challenge for getting her ready, till her meds kick in.  I truly hate mornings at our house on the weekdays and weekends she's up at the crack of dawn. If you don't get up with her and send her back to her room to play quietly, she will get up and roam the house so one of us gets up with her, usually Dave, as he's the earlier riser (me being a night owl).

We took the girls for their 6 mos check up.  BGA has gained 3 pounds and grown a couple of inches, LGA 2 pounds (but I suspect a growth spurt as she's eating more these days) and is 3 inches shorter than her sister.  We had a nurse practioner, which I actually prefer, as she actually took the time to answer my questions.  Usually the dr. rushes through it.  But I also had Dave with me, which makes it SO much easier.  LGA got her flu shot, and it was decided to give her pm ADHD booster at school.  I hope this does not mean we will suffer the after effects when the med wears off, at home.  Right now it's more peaceful in the pm's, and I can get homework done with LGA.  I hope I will still have a window with this when she takes her med at school.  But teacher insists she loses focus around 12 and needs the pm med at school.  So we'll see how this works.

I'm gradually getting rid of the candy and trying to get balanced meals and snacks back in.  But the behaviors with time change and Halloween have left a bit to be desired.  We have had a few behaviors this week.  Hoping as we ease into the colder weather (it's supposed to be upper 50's and one mid 50, this week/next week, a couple of lower 60's thrown in, so cooler) and time change that we even out a bit. 

How was Halloween at your house?  Happy November to you all.  I'm thankful for my family this month, those who are here and those who have passed on.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Birthday Parties and Report Cards........

The girls attended a birthday party on Sunday..............let me preface that by saying the weekend started on Friday when they attended their school's fall festival.  I decided right before school pick up that I would let them go.  They didn't really bug me about it obsessively as they normally do.  So I decided before pick up that I would let them stay.  They could run around, they could do the games and we could hang out somewhere where they could run off their after school energy (with a pm ADHD med booster of course).

When I met them at school I went to the spot where LGA's class goes to the bus.  The look on her face as she saw me was priceless.  Pure joy.  LGA has not wanted to take the bus as she knows that BGA is getting picked up by me (and no BGA can't ride the special ed bus, I checked).  And she's jealous.  But LGA's teacher feels it's important as the special ed day class gets their "pecking order in place" (teacher's words, not mine) that it is important to have LGA ride the bus with her classmates (some of whom live in our neighborhood, a surprising number I found).  So this has caused some dissention here in the FO4 household.  But it's worth it for BGA, who can de-stress and tell me about her day without her sister interrupting (which her sister likes to do just to mess with her, yes we are at that stage here).  So, LGA was pleased to see mommy and even more excited when I said we'd stay for the festival.

Since my mother died, I have had some anxiety issues. I don't know where they are coming from and they truly frustrate me.  Hanging out with Gwen at Nordstrom Rack outlet my reunion weekend, I noticed it.  Going to the reunion I noticed it.  Going to the mall I really noticed it, although going in stores that were not crowded helped.  I wondered what this was.  Well, hanging out with a bunch of sugar hopped up kids, running and screaming and not having had lunch (maybe that accounted for the festival anxiety but not the other times) I was feeling a bit anxious and had to go stand on the wall away from the fray. I spent a half hour in the "fray," while LGA and BGA played games.  There was some confusion (when is there not with an ADHD kid who can't remember what they are supposed to do??) as to whether they had to pay for games (they had to pay for some and some were free).  I had stopped to get breakfast in the am before taking my van to get a low air tire sensor looked at (ugh, it's possibly a battery but anytime there is a weather change there is a low tire sensor that comes on. I have new tires and have not run over anything, so this is frustrating) so I had a small amount of cash on me for them to use to buy tickets.  But they were happy enough when I told them how many tickets they could buy and did not fight me on it.

We left when I couldn't take it anymore, which was an hour into the festival.  They also did not really fight me on that (but I did promise they could play their video games when we got home).  LGA did not have much sugar, but the sensory overload for her was extreme.  We decided to go to dinner after Dave got home and it's getting increasingly hard to take LGA out for dinner these days.  She bugs her sister by kicking her under the table, she gets defiant and loud.  It has been making for a very unpleasant dining experience for us.  We have had some special events this month so have been out for dinner more than we normally would.  Except for a couple of times where we go over expectations, and she gets it, it has not been fun.  So Friday night until we finally got her calm, it was very embarrasing around other diners.  An older couple didn't linger, they just left.  I notice if we come into a restaurant (or if they know us as in our local Denneys where we have gone a couple of times a month for breakfast or dinner, or I have met my neighborhood mom there, they always speak to the girls and don't seat us in back unless we request it) and LGA is loud, they will seat us in the back.  Fine with me, less chance of diners having to listen to LGA.

Saturday we needed to get a birthday gift for the birthday boy whose party we had been invited to.  Now the birthday boy we have met a couple of times.  His mother sells jewelry that I have bought, and she's a sweet gal (I think in her 20's).  She's married and I have met her husband.  She has her son, her baby boy (2 yrs I think, but this kid slays me, he is such a cutie) and her step son.  She has a brother who I know as well.  Her mother is my age and a friend of my friend Kim.  We have all gotten together and they are a great family.  So we were invited to A's bday party.  The girls got to wear their costumes (I'll reveal their choices after Halloween and report on Trick or Treating).

So we go to Old Navy, as I wanted to get a couple of long sleeved t's specifically a darker pink color that they didn't have online.  I also knew that A liked Oakland Raider t's from his mom, so our first stop was there.  Now it's getting also harder to take LGA to stores (she used to ride in the cart and would be fine).  She doesn't ride in the cart nowadays but in a store with carts I will have her push the cart, which she loves.  But ON has no carts, so I was trying to look at what's out and on clearance and find a t for the birthday boy (which I did find).   I also found a couple of things I wanted to get.  Our particular ON now has jewelry so the girls were busy trying to pick up stuff (which was frustrating me because I always feel people are judging me when they grab stuff).  It was getting near time for the pm booster ADHD med, so they were getting a bit hyper.  Of course with LGA's OCD, she was picking up earrings that were out of place and trying to find out where they went on the racks.  I let her do it.  But they were a bit hyper in ON.  ON has toys near the registers.  I have at times, let them get something but this past weekend was about A, the bday boy.  We weren't shopping for toys as BGA's bday is coming up next month and Christmas is coming.  So LGA threw a fit at checkout when she realized that I wasn't going to buy her any toys. I explained why we were there, etc.  I tried to ignore her.  Then I had BGA trying to interrupt me while I was paying.

Now this is a nasty habit they had when they came home that I thought we had worked through but now it is back in full force. I don't know if it's ADHD related.  All I know is when I am at a checkout in a store, one of them will interrupt me. I ignore, they become more insistent. I say, "I need to pay please wait until I am done and then you can tell me what you want to say."  They keep on.  When I am on the phone I explain (and this I know all kids do but that does not make it any less frustrating) beforehand that they need to be quiet while I take a call (and in the aftermath of mom's passing I had to take many calls over the summer) and they aren't quiet, they do (LGA) everything to get my attention.  When I was talking to our new friends at the bday party, they would shout my name at a distance and then try to interrupt me while I was talking. I have tried everything to stop this and don't know what to do as they just demand my attention constantly.  They can be watching tv and will constantly ask me to watch what they are watching (even if I am otherwise engaged) or say, "MOMMY!!  LOOK!!"  several times.  How do I change this behavior??  So this is what happened as I was checking out at ON.  I will share the Target strategy for BGA below.

Target was our next stop and I treated them to ice-ees and hot dogs.  PM boosters were given and we had semi calm behavior to get through Target.  But they constantly pick up stuff so unless I have a list I am almost always distracted and even with a list I will forget something.  We got the other bday gifts (A is a fan of Diary of A Wimpy Kid) and a couple of other things.  But the "I wants" were epic.  I had to keep explaining that we were here for some food items and for gifts for A's bday.  In the checkout BGA started in on talking and asking me things.  So I had her put the bags in the cart.  That kept her busy.  Usually LGA is off looking at something and I have to ask her to come back, but she was by the cart this time (her med kicked in and there was calm).

It's frustrating to take them places and Dave told me I should just shop on my own and not take them.  You get distracted as they are constantly picking stuff up and unless you have them put hands on the cart, you are having to ask them to stay by you and to not pick stuff up.  Is it an ADHD behavior?  Maybe sometimes, but also a kid behavior.  Just frustrating in my old age as I struggle to read off my list and remember what I came to a store for.

The birthday party on Sunday was late pm, so we had all day to lounge.  The girls took baths and watched a bit of tv as there were some Halloween movies BGA wanted me to DVR.  When it was time to go they put on their costumes and we went to the party.

I like these new friends. It has been awhile since we had a group of friends to hang out with and these friends are great.  The mom (N - who is my age)'s older son, D, had all the decorations set up, strobe lights, skeleton figures that light up and talk and a granny figure in the bathroom that scared BGA.  I don't believe she went to the bathroom the whole time we were there.  These friends have not seen a full on LGA fit.  They got to see one at the party. Maybe I should realize that sensory overload is hard for LGA.  She started out at the Fall Festival at school and her whole weekend was just off.   I had to threaten that she would not go to the party if she couldn't behave, a few times.

SO it started at the party when the girls really didn't know the kids there and it took them awhile to feel comfortable.  D started the stereo music going and LGA began to dance on the carpet (it was in the family room) on her own.  That's fine I just cautioned her to not get close to the tv or stereo.  So all was well, the girls like the baby boy so they were playing with him a bit, and LGA found N's younger son (her age) to play with, and another young boy.  In these situations LGA really leans toward BGA to guide her.  BGA, however, is the birthday boy's age and once she felt comfortable with the kids (and I left her alone outside and tried not to hover.  Dave was inside watching the end of the Raider game and the Giants -whoo hoo we won!!! - game) started to hang out.  The boys went off and sort of left LGA on her own.  This is where it gets tough.  She wants to play with BGA but BGA now wants to hang with older kids.  So BGA shut LGA out.  I was a bit mad at this, even though I understood it.  It set off a reaction in LGA.  LGA began to come in the house and flop on the couch and pout, throw a fit.  It got worse when they had games.  They had bobbing for apples, which BGA was excellent at.  LGA was in line behind BGA.  She got out of line and the kid behind her and BGA, told her no cutting.  That was it. LGA was done.  She threw a huge fit that our friends and N's mother and sister, all saw. I tried to calm her down. I made eye contact with Dave and he finally came over to help.  So I got her all talked into trying the apple bobbing, but also said if she didn't want to do it it was ok.  Well.........epic fail.  She gave up before the time was over and we should have left then. However, they hadn't done goodie bags or cupcakes so I didn't want to leave before that as what party is complete without the candy bar goodie bag???  They had been teased (and a few of them went for it) with the candy bar all party long.  So when it became apparent that LGA could no longer hold it together (and she also had one cupcake and a cake pop) it was time to leave.  The party was just getting going and the kids were dancing.  BGA was ticked!  I like our friends and enjoy hanging out with them, but it was hard for LGA to have a fit.  I was not enjoying her throwing a fit in front of them.

We decided again to get dinner as there is a steakhouse in that town that we like and decided that would be my birthday dinner since my bday is this week and we'd be too rushed during the week.  But LGA was holding a grudge against her sister and she didn't know how to process it.  So, she totally misbehaved, kicked her sister (who asked first to sit next to me, which sparked another fit) hard, and was told to stop, but kept it up, screamed, and misbehaved.  I know a lot of this is the fetal alcohol effects going, but it's just so frustrating.  We used to have a good girl in restaurants.  BGA gives up sitting next to me to keep the peace a lot of the time, because it starts when LGA does not get to sit next to me. Sometimes you can jolly her out of it, sometimes you just can't and the rest of the dinner is hard going.  Finally in the end she behaved.  But it was on sensory and possibly some sugar overload and not being able to let go that her sister would not hang out with her.  That prompted some discussion on the way home with BGA and although LGA crashed at 9, she was promptly up at 6. Dave usually has to drag her out of bed for school.  So that could be the time change as well.  Time change, holidays, disappointment, all recipes for disaster. 

I know now why parents of ADHD/fetal alcohol, neurological children skip things like birthday parties.  It's sad but there is a lot of stuff that goes on at these events.  Will they not be accepted, how to handle all the activity, not fitting in, etc.  And sometimes the fall out is huge.  The past couple of days, Dave who does the am routine for the girls, has struggled to get LGA to focus and get ready. Mornings have been hard. I have found some fetal alcohol groups on FB and it's been nice to read what others are going through, and if it's similar, that I can relate to it and get some support.

Dave was off yesterday and we hung out then went for a late lunch before picking up BGA from school.  Her report card came yesterday.  She has slipped from Proficient (grade) level to Below Grade Level.  We told her we allowed for the new school and a quarter to settle in, but now she's settled, and now she needs to step it up.  No awards ceremony for her this quarter.  She was disappointed, but knows she needs to step it up.  She told me that her book reports only needed to be a few lines then we had to sign them.  I felt that her spelling was bad and made her re-do one.  Then I wrote a note to the teacher telling her that BGA had tried to rush through it and that I checked her spelling.  The teacher, who is older and a good teacher, specifically brought in to teach this class, according to the principal, put in the notes section that BGA must read for 40 mins a day AND write a ONE PAGE report of the book she read.  So once again BGA snowed me.  She told me she only needed one paragraph, which was not true.  So Dave worked with her yesterday on her report and she practiced her violin.  Normally Dave would work with them on homework and then they could play a video game or watch a movie with him since he's home on a Monday weekday.  Not yesterday. I worked with LGA and Dave worked with BGA.  BGA's teacher said she needs to do less talking in class (this is a new one, and I think related to trying to meet new friends or be accepted, she's never had this on a report card) and more focus on the teacher.  Teacher did say she enjoyed having BGA in class and that she had no doubts that she would succeed in 5th grade.  So off we go.  I'm waiting for the parent/teacher conference.

LGA has an IEP so we just reviewed her goals.  She is being exposed to the cirriculum for 3rd grade and her homework consists of a 1st grade level reading book, and some double digit add/subtract problems.  We learned she has a processing disorder, so will be seeing what we need to do for that.  She's still taking speech and finally a bit open to us working with her on words, etc.  We will have an IEP for her in Dec and meet the 'team' then, hopefully.  It's hard to get a straight story out of her as she likes to make stuff up (like saying her old speech teacher is back in this school, but I don't think that's true) so it's always challenging trying to get the true story. I have to work with her a bit to actually get what happened in any certain situation. 

So, there's an update for us here at FO4.   We still have Halloween and my birthday coming up and BGA's birthday next month and the start of the holidays.

I'm thinking of all of you on the east coast and hoping you are all staying safe. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Reunions, Vacation and Depression........all in one post!

I had a little vacation the weekend of 10/12.  I drove to my high school reunion in S. CA.

I stayed in a hotel, by myself, no hubby, no kids, no pets.  It was near the beach and I had a very small view of the ocean.  I could see the waves breaking.  It was wonderful.  I drove down Friday and got to my hotel in the pm.  My friend Gwen, one of my high school besties, came to meet me and we talked while I got ready for the pm/evening mixer.  We decided we'd eat dinner first then head up to the mixer.  I'm glad we did that as I really didn't want to stop on the way down (friday LA traffic is not the best) so I ate a protein bar on the way, snacked a bit, and had had a bowl of cereal before I left.

To backtrack, Dave took some vacation time for that Friday and the next week as the girls had a week of 'fall' break.  So I was looking forward to my reunion and then going home for a week with Dave and the girls all home.

The mixer on Friday night was fun. I saw some friends I had not seen in over 20 years.  It was great, as well as good to see some of the friends I had been seeing when I came for visits (a bunch of us gals got together when I was there after my mom died and had a lot of fun). It's always interesting to see how people change or how they are the same.  To try and picture some people from your mind (or in Gwen's case, her yearbooks. She had the advantage of bringing them and then we would look people up if we didn't know who they were and she also looked them up the night of the reunion.  Once again I seemed to be getting ready to go, LOL.).  We left early and decided to head out to the outlets.  Now I do like to shop, but don't really have anyone who likes to shop here where I live, with me (although the girls like to, but that's a different experience, hehehehehe) and I usually go alone or just don't go.  But Gwen was in a shopping mood that weekend and took me to places I hadn't been in years.  The outlets are awesome and we laughed and talked and browsed. 

Gwen's husband and son were away on a weekend trip and her daughter had just had finals and wanted the house to herself (remember when you were a teen and you had the house to yourself??).  She had a series of books she was reading and wanted to read and watch the movies that were made from the books.  So I got to hang out with Gwen and we had the best time.

I had a hard time sleeping on my own and the quiet of my room, but my room was great and I enjoyed having my own little space for the weekend.

Gwen picked me up on Sat am for breakfast at a diner called The Breakfast Club.  Excellent food and conversation.  It lived up to it's name.  :-) 80's themes on the walls and cute sayings on the bathroom walls.

We then drove out to my mom's place.  It has not changed, the new owners (grandparents bought the place for their 20 yr old grandson) had not even changed the odd color my mom had painted her house.  It was bittersweet to drive by there.  I think it would have been hard to drive by it and see it changed.  We then drove by the antique 'village' where I have some of mom's stuff on consignment and I saw a couple of her pictures in the ladies bathroom.  That was a hoot. 

I got a chance to go to Nordstrom Rack for some different pants to wear to the reunion, but both of us felt it was really crowded and loud so we didn't stay very long. 

Gwen and I ended up at Panera (love Panera) Bread co. for lunch and stayed 3 hours talking.  Before we knew it it was time to go to the reunion.

We were pretty late, as we stopped at her place so she could change then to my hotel so I could change.  We got there an hour and a half late.  But we did stay till the end.  :-)  It was fun to catch up with people, and there were a few I had missed, as we just didn't get to talk. 

The last pic is the end of the evening, with Gwen and I and one of our high school friends.I will take these pics down but you can see we had a great time.  We stayed till the end and it was so much fun to see people after so many years.

The next day we planned to go to the beach, but didn't end up making it.  We were tired and we just didn't feel like trekking down to the beach. Gwen and her daughter went to their church and I got to stay in my pj's till 11am. I had bought some pastries at Panera so ate them with some coffee and lounged around till time to get ready.  Since we didn't go to the beach we decided we wanted to check out a 3 story Target in a mall and go to eat at a diner called "The Pit Stop."  We had a lot of fun and brought Gwen's daughter along.  Shopping with a teen gave me some insight to what it will be like when the girls are older.  It was fun and I got to go into stores I had not been into (as we don't have them here).  We dropped Gwen's daughter off and met my cousin for a short pit stop and then decided on a fishouse for dinner.  I ended up giving Gwen most of my plate for leftovers, but once again we closed the place down.  I packed for my drive the next day and was really happy to reach home on Monday.

Dave and the girls were happy to see me and we have had a great week (capping it off on Monday when Dave and I celebrated his earlier bday and went to lunch together).  Dave got sick with a kidney stone on Wed so was not feeling well for most of the week, so we didn't get to do some of the stuff we'd wanted to do.  We still need to go to a Pumpkin patch we got a Groupon for, and we wanted to go bowling. We did manage to take the girls to see Hotel Transylvania and go to dinner afterwards so that was a fun time for them. We watched some DVD's, they stayed in and played with toys, slept in till 7 and stayed up a bit late, so it was fun for them. 

I've been having a bit of depression, dealing with my mother's and cousin's deaths, so I was really having a hard time doing stuff in the house, not wanting to do laundry and waiting till I had a lot to do, not wanting to clean or cook.  I think I'm slowly turning the corner, but it's been a rough path.  I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me, I just seemed to want to sit and do a whole lot of nothing.  I still have days like that, but it's getting better.  I keep plugging along.  Maybe I needed a good break away. I really enjoyed it and actually wished I had more time away.  I think I could have used a whole week and been certainly the better for it.  I arrived home in time though as Dave got his kidney stone and was not feeling well.  Back to reality..........sometimes with special needs kids or kids with issues, you just need a break, you need to know you are a person too, outside of being mom and meeting all their needs.

I really enjoyed my time away and our vacation. I hope there is a next time for me to get away or get some time to myself.  It was sorely needed and lots of fun.  :-)  It helped me to come back with a fresh perspective, having had some much needed time to myself. I was able to handle the week the girls were at home and there were few arguments and fights.  Dave handled things well while I was gone and they had a good time with him.   So, wonder when the next time will be that I can go away on my own and where I should go................

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Daughter Missed Me In School Today......

I got a call around 11, from the teacher.  I missed the call and she left a message that she wanted to speak with me.  Uh-oh.  It was LGA's teacher, so I knew something was up.  Ever have the nervous feeling when calling your child's teacher back???  I sure did.

However, once I called her back the teacher said, "LGA says her cousin got hurt. I tried to have her draw out what she wanted to tell me, as she seemed sort of mopy.  But even drawing it out didn't help.  Can you talk to her?"

Well, we had been talking a couple of days ago, about a girl whose cousin was one of LGA's friends at her old school.  I knew the mother too as LGA and the girl had been friends (the girl was really nice to LGA, so that's why she remembers her) since Kinder.  The girl moved to a different school this year, (as did the girls) however, her cousins are going to the girls' school, now too (they went with their cousin to the previous school).  So the girls have seen the little girl cousin (she is tiny, and seems much younger than her age, which attracts LGA because she likes playing with younger kids).  So I remembered a conversation we'd had about the cousin and how LGA mentioned something about her, etc., and my dective work (which pays off usually if I am on the uptake) deduced that it was the girl K's cousin who had gotten hurt. 

So the conversation went like this (my kids are really shy on the phone):

Me: Hi LGA, what's going on?

LGA: silence

Me:  LGA, what happened?  Did someone get hurt?  (then remembering the conversation about the cousin).

LGA: silence


LGA:  Mommy I just miss you (sigh, long sigh).

Me:  I miss you too.  I love you LGA.

LGA:  I love you too Mommy

Me:  LGA did K's cousin get hurt?

LGA:  Yes, someone hit her.

ME:  Did you tell the yard duty?

LGA:  No.  (then goes on to explain why).

LGA:  I just miss you mommy

Me:  I miss you too.  Hope you are having a good day

LGA:  Sigh.  No.

Me: No?  Well, let's see if we can turn it around.  Did you like the snack I packed for you (Clemmentine with some graham crackers)?

LGA:  Yes.

Me: Ok, well I love you and I'll see you later.

LGA:  Love you too mommy

So teacher comes back on and I share what happened and that I think it was about the cousin of her friend K and I explain the background, then explain (again......already told her this before school started) that my mom died and then my 2nd 'mother' died and that I have been sad some days (although I wasn't yesterday, I just didn't feel well), etc.

Teacher says it was good to know that (I already explained it and wrote it down, but ok).  So we hang up and I hope LGA has had a good rest of the day.

But the part that tore at me was her little voice saying, "Mommy I miss you."  Aw.  BGA used to do that in the beginning too, (I don't think LGA knew that though).  I said to the teacher, "Sometimes you just miss your mommy."  However, the teacher didn't really reply to that, but was trying to find out what was going on, so I had to switch gears and tell her that it was probably related to the cousin getting hit at school.  Someday I will have the conversation about how this is a good thing that my FASD, ADHD, OCD, sensory, etc., daughter just missed her mommy and let me know.

Hearing her little voice on the phone always seems so weird to me.  I'm used to the loud, fit tantrum, sometimes screaming, mad voice, and then the loving voice.  But the phone voice is different.

So, hoping for a good day when the bus drops off LGA.  She's had a tough year, she has an autistic boy in her special ed class and I don't know how to explain why he can't always help what he does.  She views it as him picking on her and really, I don't think he always knows what he is doing.  The teacher says they are all establishing the pecking order, so there are a few tuffles here and there.  It's been hard for LGA as she wants to be in control (just like her sister, who is learning you don't always need to be in control).  I am trying to engage her in getting it out when she sits down for her snack after school and she's getting better at telling me.  The teacher suggested if she has a hard time getting it out to have her draw it out.  So we have yet to do that (maybe because I can understand her better than I think the teacher can), but that's an option too.  But she is talking to me more and less tantrums/fits/explosive behavior when she gets off the bus (which is much nicer.  I really hope they keep her in this school next year.  Too many transitions are hard.  This school is in our zone whereas the first school last year wasn't.  I've asked for her to stay in this school).  IEP coming up in Dec, where I hope to meet her "team."

I think there will be an extra special treat for my baby when she gets off the bus (or after dinner) tonight.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I think I am going to dub this summer.......

The summer of loss.

I just heard today that one of my English cousins passed away.  I have known her for over 35 years, having first met her in the late 70's when my mother, father and I made a visit to the UK and Scotland.  I thought she was a very hip woman, she dressed very stylish and was fun, although her sister in law, the quieter, deaf woman, was more my speed and I tended to latch on to women who I could bond with.  Years later it would prove she was a bit of a manipulative cousin and I would prefer and adore, the more fun loving cousin.

The next trip I made to the UK was with a high school friend and my father, who was British and born in the UK, but emigrated to the US, was living there after he and my mother split up.  My high school friend and I went to stay a month in the UK with my father and spent a lot of time with my cousins. 

When I graduated from high school I decided I wasn't sure college was my cup of tea and I had the traveling bug firmly planted, and I decided to spend 6 mos in the UK with my cousins.  Since my last visit, my cousins had lost their beautiful daughter and my cousin's husband.  So it was just my cousin M and her son J.  J was off working in a hotel so it was just M and I in the country.  She thought and often remarked years later how she felt I was going to be bored in the country.  I was not.  There was a whole host of friends, family, locals, etc., that kept me well entertained.  In fact I had a young flirtation with the produce, or greengrocer, as he was called.  Enough so, that when my cousin J made a trip to the UK, he asked about me, many years later.........blush............ ;-)  I enjoyed my 6 mos and didn't want to come home.  I had an interview with the highest nanny college in the UK, Norland, and I was set to go a year later.  However, in between that time, I decided not to go as I had my first love, and a year makes a difference in a young woman's life.  My dad never forgave me for it as he felt I should have the experience.

Over the years I visited many times with my cousins and friends in England.  I met on my six months stay there, cousins of M and J, friends, etc.  I felt at home and loved each and every one of them.  My father and brother visited during my 6 mos stay there, and my brother married an English woman and lived in the UK.  It was nice to visit my cousins, they never judged me, we had great laughs and adventures and I really enjoyed visiting.  I had another chance to work as a nanny in the north end of London, but I believe I was only going to get $40 a week as the couple's children (met them through friends of friends) only needed a nanny after school hours, etc. so I would have the days to myself.  At that point I was not sure I wanted to have to try and find another job in London on my own, and I wasn't sure I wanted to leave, so I didn't choose to take the job.  I guess I just wasn't sure I was meant to live in the UK and I felt that leaving my mother was also not an option.  I think my poor father was disappointed in me, as my brother ran off and had his adventures and my dad was at sea a lot on ships.  My mother had lived in Guam and Japan so I came from a family who traveled and lived in other parts of the world. I did, I lived in the UK for 6 mos, but if you compared who had lived where, I fell way behind.

I sort of lost touch with my English cousins when I did decide to move to Northern California (which was a step in moving somewhere else, however, I'm still here so I didn't move for a few years and then leave, which my family apparently did a lot).  I got married to Dave and we started a life, they moved to Spain and settled into their house, had their German Shepard doggies and lived their lives.  I did keep in touch by cards and letters, occassionally and then email when they got a computer.  Sometimes phone calls, but the phone was very expensive.  Recently after my brother died we began to establish phone contact again and I made occassional calls to Spain and they called when my brother died and we spoke again briefly when my mother died in May. I meant to call again, but I didn't because the girls were home and they NEVER allow me to talk to anyone on the phone EVER.  So my plan was to call when they went back to school.

On the day they went back to school my cousin M had her first stroke.  At first we were assured it was mild and she would recover.  However, M had traveled (at 87) to the UK for her last trip in June and had seen the UK doctors and then was told to come back in Oct for a follow up, which she was planning.  My cousin J her son, emailed as best he could and kept me posted on her condition.  He said she was doing well, but it would be a long road.  Then on Monday I saw on FB that J's ex girlfriend, R, had posted that she would miss M and about how people come into your lives, etc. I started to feel a rush of sadness and panic, had M passed away???  I tried to get R to post it but she wouldn't so I finally had to send her a private msg where she confirmed it.  I then called J and spoke to him at length yesterday.  M had a massive stroke on Wed and Thurs, had some brain damage and passed away on Friday.

I feel lost, yet once again.  When my mother passed my English cousins assured me there were there for me and always would be and that I was not alone.  I felt comforted and tried to figure out if there was any way I could make a trip to Spain to see them.  I had hope we could meet up and see each other.  I yearned for a hug and a nice chat with M.

Life does go on and I know that M would not have wanted to live in a wheelchair and not be the active person she was.  She overcame a lot in her life, losing her daughter to a freakish horseriding accident, then her husband to cancer not long after that.  She lost friends and her two closest cousins, H and B.  She still had a great life, traveled to the UK and to FL, and with one of her closest friends, Z, took trips to different places.  I'm glad she isn't suffering anymore, but I'm at a loss to explain her passing so soon after my mother's passing.  I am feeling some sadness for J, as he spent the better part of his life caring for and living with his mother.  I hope he can find some peace (he seems to, but grief is funny that way, you are so busy attending to details in the beginning that it just sort of hits you like a ton of bricks one day and that's it, you are in the stages, till you get to acceptance).

I have fond memories of my cousin, and she was a lifeboat at a time in my life when I was feeling lost and tired, tired from my parents' divorce and being an anchor for my mother at various times in her life till she had grieved the loss of her 23 yr marriage and moved on.  Life became better, but England and my cousins, and their friends and family, became a refuge/cocoon for me during a time I needed it.  I remember lots of special talks during cups of tea in a country home kitchen, walks up and down the lane with the dogs, feeding and mucking out horses, hanging laundry out on the line, going to the shops, going to horse events, dinner out, holidays, etc.  It was a very special time in my life between 18 and early 30's, and I will never forget my memories of those times.  Holidays when the cousins visited my mother and I in Southern CA and my mom as she was so good at doing, mapped out a trip north to San Francisco, Monterey, where we just spent the weekend (and where I bought postcards to send to M to remind her of some good times) and a great holiday one year in Florida.  It was the best times.  I'm so glad that we had them and that we can look back on them fondly, I know M did.  She told her son that she thought of our times fondly. 

I feel very lucky to have experienced some fun times.  M was not a great kid person, she much preferred her dogs and horses to kids, but she had two of her own and she always remembered the girls, she sent them costume jewlery, money, personalized notes.  She never missed a birthday or Christmas.  As my mother couldn't do any of it, M stepped up and did it for mom. I will never forget that.  She was a beautiful, wonderful woman, with a GREAT sense of humor. I have never laughed so hard in my life, when I was with her. 

I guess this is a new phase in my life, no going back to the 'old' times. I'm sure lots of people having lost loved ones, find their way, and I will too.  It seems odd and I haven't yet had a good cry. Dave was home yesterday and we had lunch and ran errands.  Today I just feel sort of numb and I am back to not wanting to do a thing.  I thought I had sort of got a bit past that, but I just feel numb right now.  I want to go back and look at all my pics, but they are stored and I would have to dig deep to get them out.  So I'll go back there in my mind, I do believe I have a journal I found at my mother's and I will read it.  It was fun to remember what happened at the time in my life. Unfortunately I didn't keep it up very long, as I was too busy having fun to want to write I guess.

I know that going forward there will be new memories to make.  I''m ready.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

We had a little respite time...........

LGA went to stay with my friend and her fiancee.  They had her mother and her stepson and his cousin staying also.  Luckily the cousin is someone LGA likes (there is another cousin who also has ADD/ADHD and she asked me if he would be there.  He wasn't there this weekend).  We arranged for LGA to come over in the am and stay the night and then we would all meet up for brunch this am.

My girls as you all know if you've read this blog long enough, do not like to stay at other people's houses.  Even if it's someone they are close to, they do want to come home.  They have a good time, but they always feel better when they are home.  Maybe it's due to their past, and feeling secure.  I always feel my kids are in good hands when they stay with my friend.  She loves them as if they were her own and she takes good care of them.

I started talking up LGA's weekend last weekend when we saw my friend and she suggested it.  I said what a good time she'd have, that we'd all meet up on Sunday.  She rather tearfully asked me the first couple of days if her sister would go. I said she wouldn't be, but it would be a fun time for LGA to stay on my friends' ranch.  There's so much to do there, they have bunnies (always a favorite) and chickens now.  I knew she'd have a great time.  They were planning on building a dog kennel and picking tomatoes (yay, I can finally try out my new dutch oven and I have enough tomatoes to make homemade pasta sauce and freeze some) and I knew she'd have a good time.  So, I started in bit by bit, saying what a good time she'd have.  She was fearful, but by Sat am, she was ready to go.

That meant we had instead of a kid free weekend, half a kid free weekend.  We had plans to take BGA to the Monterey Bay Aquarium,  If you know me, you know I love Monterey and the aquarium.  We don't go often as it's not very cheap, but we have never taken the girls. I gave BGA a choice of the aquarium or something else to do and she picked the aquarium.  So we planned on the aquarium and dinner after.

We got a bit of a late start to drive to Monterey so we arrived around 1pm.  We'd planned on 12, but it all worked out ok.  We saw many things in the aquarium.  The most famous exhibit is the Sea Otters, which I love to see.  Unfortunately my otters were off display till March 2013 as they were renovating the habitat.  That sort of bummed me out as I would have rather have waited till we could see the otters and visit another time.  However, we used full advantage of our time, touring each part of the aquarium, seeing deep sea fish, seahorses, jellyfish, penguins, sharks, turtles, etc.  It was fun, but also hard to keep up with BGA as she raced off ahead.  Since the aquarium was packed, we had to ask her to slow down and wait for us.  Luckily it was cool in Monterey (in the 60's! Considering where we live inland it was in the 90's, it was so nice, weather wise) and I'd given BGA a bright color sweat jacket, so she was very visible. But a few times we had to ask her to not run ahead.  There are usually lots of people from the European and Asian countries, so it was pretty packed on a Saturday.  Members come a lot as well, and for what we paid, we wished we had memberships.

BGA got to touch starfish, and kelp, but refused to touch the crab in the display.  It was a bit funny as the person who was doing instruction kept trying to get her to touch the crab and she wouldn't.  But we really enjoyed having one child to take on a special trip, where there were no fights or tantrums, etc.  I feel bad about that, but really we needed respite from LGA.  She's been throwing down some major tantrums/fits as of late (see Back to School Night's previous post) and it's no fun.  BGA, however, not really having been on her own was a bit nervous and anxious (gotta love ADD meds) and she chatted.  The.whole.way.there.  Seriously non stop.  One of her questions was, "what is a wharf and why do they call it Fisherman's Wharf?"  And went on from there. 

Eventually she enjoyed the day and we did a bit of shopping, after the museum, although not much as Dave's not really up to a lot of walking these days, so he mainly waited for us.  He's been riding his excercycle so his legs were good, his back was sore from the 2 hour drive to Monterey. 

We decided to stop at Bubba Gumps for dinner as it was after 5 and we knew we had a 2 hour drive to get home.  Now, some of you, well, ok most of you, probably don't know...........I am not a fan of the Bubba Gump movie. I'm just not. I love Tom Hanks, Sally Field and Gary Sinise.  I just am NOT a fan of the movie.  So BGA and I did some browsing in shops while we waited (Bubba Gumps in on Cannery Row) and then ended up in the candy shop.  My phone died so by the time we got out, Dave was at his table.  He didn't tell me what happens when the waitress comes to the table.............she starts asking you questions from the movie.  I knew some of them, but man, it was not up my street.  BGA of course, LOVED it.  She has not seen the movie, so she guessed and of course some of the quotes are on the table, so she had fun saying them.  I really think this kid could be an actress some day, she really gets into it and it was really cute.  We looked around the walls and read the quotes to each other.  It was so much fun to do this un-interrupted and not have jealousy or fits erupt.  I seriously enjoyed this restaurant experience with BGA.  She told us over dinner that it was the best day ever and she really enjoyed herself.  She wants to come back. I think we'll come back but instead of the aquarium, we'll drive down the coast, when the girls have their one week fall break next month.   

Dave and I felt bad, but we both agreed there would have been no way we could have taken both girls at this point.  We really needed the respite from LGA.  I can be honest here and admit it.  If you've raised or are raising a special needs child, respites are really important. I had had one when my mom passed away in May and I spent a week and a half on my own handling her estate and then Dave got one when the girls and I spent 18 days for mom's funeral and working on her estate.  But there's something about one child, that makes a difference, especially since back to school has been a bit rough, lately. 

BGA woke up singing at the top of her lungs, she really had a great time and even though we got back late, and we talked again the whole way home till BGA crashed in the back seat.  Today she was in a good mood till we got to the restaurant and picked up LGA.  I think she was a bit jealous.  I don't think she thought LGA would have as good of a time as she did and she's very protective and demanding of my attention and didn't like it shifting to LGA.  She did recover well, but it took her awhile.  We struggle with the jealousy and fighting the girls do over who gets attention.  It's always been this way.  The girls are so insanely jealous of each other.  LGA desperately wants her sister's attention and BGA doesn't want to give it.  She's getting closer to the teen years and wants some independence. So then LGA gets mad and doesn't know how to handle it and becomes aggressive. LGA asked me, which again reminded me of all the girls have been through, "I go home with you mommy? I want to go home with you."  I had explained she would stay one night but I guess she thought we weren't going to take her home.  Poor girl.  Just shows how fragile their attachment can be at times.  LGA was happy to come home.  My friend said, "do you want to come back next time on your own or with your sister?"  She said, "with my sister."  But I think she needs this independence and it's good for her to go and come back, on her own.

LGA started in the minute we got back in the car to go to Target for some items.  There puppies/dogs/kittens at Petsmart and so we went over to look at them, Dave headed back in to the Electronics section of Target.  When I didn't want to get any of the animals from a local rescue, LGA became insistent over a kitten and had a hard time letting go when it was time to go.  She started in with the fits and I thought, "here we go again.........." but she stopped herself and just stomped her foot. We got off easy there, but in Target, she wanted to spend the money that my friend gave her (and I let her bring her piggyback money in case my friend and her mom took her anywhere to spend it) for working so hard.  She had $4. She picked some trading cards that were $1.99 each, so I had to explain that there would be tax.  Luckily she had enough change to cover it.  She was happy but there was more foot stomping and arms folded, chest extended, when I explained she could only get 2 pkgs of the cards, not 3.  I thought 'whew, we got away with foot stomping this time.'  I was mistaken.

We came home and I took a nap.  I had had about 4 glasses (I was thirsty) of iced tea for dinner.  That doesn't bold well for me if the tea is strong (it was, and good).  So I was up till 3am and couldn't sleep.  So I wanted a nap. I barely made it through brunch as Dave woke me up at 7 so we could get BGA bathed, ourselves ready, get gas, etc.  So I slept for a bit on my bed, till I heard LGA complaining about something, her earring, I think.  She's got some sensory, I believe and sometimes her earrings bother her so we take them out and give the ears a rest and put them back in.  Of course it was a huge emergency and even though she saw me sleeping away, I hear, "Mommy you up?  Mommy my ears hurt.  Mommy you take out my earrings?"  So at that point, napping was futile because the OCD brain of my daughter takes over and she won't rest till it's fixed. 

Then there was som arguing about Nintendos (we let them play, but LGA has a hard time turning off Nintendo even though she's been given several warnings, which is making us want to limit the Nintendo time) and some more foot stomping and more fit throwing behavior for LGA. By this time we'd decided to go to dinner and I had to get to LGA's level and remind her that her restaurant behavior has not been good lately and if she did not want to behave we would be getting our order to go.  Nintendo playing would also take a break..  She got it, and for the most part did well.  But there were some pre tantrums and I again had to remind her of the consequences.  But we managed a good dinner and some laughs, like it used to be.  I believe reminding her of the consequences, and outlining behaviors will help.  I hope so, but it's never an easy journey, the one we're on.  I'm sure other meds will be added, and it will be something we will need to do this year, I'm just not wanting to put  her on any other meds yet.  But I think she obviously needs them.

I have seen all around the blogs this week about respite for parents of special needs kids.  It's very important.  We haven't had it, and I have not really asked for it, nor do I feel comfortable with my kids staying with anyone I don't know.  So the result has been the only respite time we get is when the girls are in school and Dave is at work, I am home.  Dave is back to having Mondays off, so we can spend some time together before school, but now he's back to working Tues-Sat.  I hate when he works Saturdays as it means I have the girls on my own and by week's end, LGA's exhausted and cannot hold it together.  She acts out in many ways, till her body can relax from the stress of school.  It's trying and I'm usually ready for Dave to come home.  Although the 18 days I had them all on my own I got very used to parenting by myself, so I think this time when he starts his Saturdays up again, it won't be as bad.

So that was our weekend............pretty good one, if I do say so.  I could stay in Monterey for a long time. I definitely want to go back. BGA loved it, loved being near the ocean and we all enjoyed the cooler temps. 

I'll try and post my phone pics if I can upload them.  Last few times I've posted they've been really small and I need to find out how to upload them to my pc.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Back To School Night...........

Back to School Night was last night at our new school.

It went well.

We really liked how the school put on Back to School Night.  They had everyone do the pledge of allegiance and they had kids singing the National Anthem.  We also had the principal, who is new to the school, go over the policies, etc., then the Assistant Principal spoke (she's young it would appear and spoke like a mile a minute).  We also had a visit from an astronaut, who lives in our area and went up in space on Discovery in 2009.  He's running for Congress (found that out later) but it was nice to hear him speak and the kids were mesmerized (not just ours, who were, in LGA's case, a bit antsy).

BTSN started at 6pm.  By the time all this was over it was close to 7.  We had the principal, announced, a half hour to meet the teachers. Of course there was an argument as to who to go see first.  We picked LGA's class, which of course made BGA mad.  I asked her to not interrput us and to let us talk to LGA's teacher, and let LGA show us around the class.  She surprised me and stood at the door and only talked to us when she felt it was getting too late to see her teacher.  I was pretty proud of her as it's hard for her to stay silent, sometimes, and not be in the mode to 'direct' the situation.  I believe this will take her far in life, however, sometimes it's just plain frustrating when you are trying to talk to people and she constantly tries to interrupt.  We have been over this but for some reason, neither girl can wait their turn. If I ignore them they just get really persistent.

We made it to LGA's classroom, and LGA showed us around, we looked at the pics of each child on their work, and discovered there appear to be a mix of kids, some older, some LGA's age.  There is one downs boy and possibly girl (not a big deal, I was just trying to see what kinds of kids are in her class so when I have to talk about behaviors and why certain kids act the way they do, I can explain if I know what kinds of kids are in her class).  Some appear to be older, which is why she's probably having issues in school with various kids.  I was happy to see they have about 6 computers they use, and the teacher explained that LGA goes to 'stations' for work and moves around a bit.  I liked that the kids focus on the heavier subjects in the am and have PE and the lighter subjects in the pm, when the teacher feels they have put out the most effort and are tired, etc.  Very true.  Teacher is older (looks to be in her 60's) and she had some great tips on how to do homework with LGA.  Basically they use a chart taped on the student's desk, a number chart and ABC chart and they work with the child on adding and subtracting, by using the chart and going back 3 numbers or forward 3 numbers, etc.  LGA had this chart in kinder and first and we used one like it.  It really helped her.  Teacher also feels she has a processing disorder so I will need to read up on that.  As well as the OCD (which we knew she had).  Teacher felt that by having the teachers take her to the cafeteria and help her pick her breakfast (all kids go when they get off the bus for breakfast. And frankly trying to get her ready in the am is no picnic for Dave, who does it each day, so skipping breakfast at home works out better) and then sending a snack (I didn't realize how late her lunch is, at other schools it was earlier) helps her focus without adding any additional meds, or upping her dosage, etc.  This has been a good help so far.  We'll see how it goes as we go through the school year.

When we finally made it to BGA's classroom, the teacher was tired and done for the night, but she still greeted us warmly, and made a joke (she's got an interesting sense of humor).  By that time (almost 8) I was really tired and needing some dinner.  So was LGA, as she constantly was into stuff in the classroom, so trying to listen to the teacher and get info was hard to do.  But the teacher really got BGA.  I have had to go in each year and explain to the teachers what BGA's issues are. I have had to do this for 4 yrs.  Well, last night, this teacher listened, but had plans and compassion for BGA.  She shares freckles all over her arms and face, and so does BGA.  But she got what makes her tick.  She said BGA is trying so hard to fit in and have friends and that she stops herself if she shouts out so others can have a chance.  That she thinks BGA is very bright.  She supports her playing the violin (which we signed her up for this week).  She listened to her anxiety about test scores and she said she would accomdate that.  We talked about peer issues and specific issues with one particular student. I really don't want to post what the teacher said about it, but it was hilarious and had us laughing. We talked about test scores and how Dave and I told her in front of the teacher, that we don't care about numbers, that as long as she's at grade level (and she is bright enough to stay at grade level so this was not an unrealistic expectation) we were happy with whatever else she achieved.  It was a good conference. 

At the end the principal came to get the teacher, and we got to talk with her briefly.  Both principal and assistant are female and it turns out the principal asked BGA's teacher to come teach at the school for this class.  So it's a tough class but the teacher said she liked challenges.   So we came away feeling positive for the first time in 4 yrs about where our kids were going to school.  It was a good back to school night.

The ending was not so good.  LGA was so done by then.  She couldn't keep it in, she was hyper to the max.  She's regressing a bit (not sure if it's due to kids' behaviors in her class) and is learning to throw a fit to get what she wants.  I'm SO not allowing this.  In BGA's class she wanted a book, we said no, that it wasn't her class or teacher and she was not going to have the book.  LGA started the fit and the teacher gave in and let her have the book.  Then when we get to the restaurant we chose to dine in (they had pizza at BTSN but we wanted a meal and didn't figure it would take long and our custom has been to eat dinner after and discuss teachers, classrooms, kids, etc., pros and cons) LGA throws a huge fit because BGA called dibs to sit next to me.  Enough to where the waitress asked us if we wanted to go sit in the back, where it was quiet.  This is a new thing for LGA. She always had good restaurant behavior but this is the 2nd time we've taken her out where she's thrown an out and out fit in the restaurant.  Even the young adults at the next table were staring at her.  It didn't seem to embarrass her at all.  So.............rethinking taking her to restaurants for the time being.  I am sure we need to add a mood med to the mix, but I'm not wanting to go there yet.  So we did not end on a good note. We will see what kind of day she had, because by the end of the week she's done. 

LGA is going to spend the night at my friend's house on her ranch, tomorrow.  This is for LGA, because she enjoys it there and my friend's step son will be there.  There are chickens and dogs and bunnies and stuff for her to help with and do.  This is also a respite for us from her and we kind of need one right now.  I hate to admit that, but it's true.  We will all meet up for brunch on Sunday.  I'm hoping this little break will be good for LGA and for us.  LGA is interested in the earth and she will have a blast.  It will be good for my friends to show her things and have her help. 

But I would have to say that this has been the best Back to School Night we have had in over 4 yrs, and that's a plus. I hope we have landed at a good school for the girls.  The teachers seem supportive and to get the girls, and that's important.

Here's to hoping we have a good school year.  :-)

Check back here Monday and hopefully I'll have some pics to share with you.  You know, just to lighten it up around here some.  :-)

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Today is FASD Awareness Day............

I have not spoken on the blog very much about Fetal Alcohol, other than to say that LGA has it.  If you had asked me if I would have adopted a child with FASD, (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) I would have said "NO WAY!"  That was one of the specific things I didn't want to have in an adopted child.  However, we met the girls and my heart felt a pull towards LGA.  She was a very sweet, sweet 3 yr old girl.  We were quite taken and didn't hesitate to take them at the disclosure meeting. I think we got as far as the car and trip home before we'd decided the girls would come home to us.

Fast forward 4 years and life is SO much different.  The sweet little 4 yr old is gone.  In her place is a confrontational, tantrum/fit, argumentative, sometimes defiant, 8 yr old.  She struggles to learn as her brain 'skips' and she can't retain the information she learns.  There has been great discussion on various support boards, about retention and why children can't learn.  I was told that for LGA it means her brain skips and can't retain info, so a lot of repetition is needed. LGA has a whole host of issues, including ADHD, OCD and probably some sensory issues.  She may have some mood disorders, I'm not sure, so getting her tested this year is probably in order.

Life is hard living with a child like this.  She is "special needs."  and in our first years I was naive. I only thought she had some speech and some learning issues. I didn't read about FASD.  I should have, but I just can't go there sometimes.  It makes me sad to think of what she faces, what we face with her.  One friend's mom who has some experience with this, at a gathering, when told that LGA was FASD, just uttered an "OH."  Like "wow, hope you knew what you got yourself into."  We didn't. Now we know what it is and are experiencing it full force.

I have something to share with you that I have not shared with too many people. I hesitated on whether to post it but I am going to share anyway.

A few months back, around March, my mother and I shared a conversation one morning. I thought I had shared about LGA with mom and that her birthmother drank alcohol when pregnant with her.  But mom had some dementia, and she didn't really remember that we might have discussed it.  As I talked about LGA and some of her issues (I think I was telling her about her special ed class and that's what led into this conversation) my mother shared a startling truth with me.

I had always known my mother smoked with all of her pregnancies.  At that time she told me, the doctors were just finding out about how much cigarette smoke affected the fetus.  This was the 60's by the way, so long before a lot of research was being done on the effect of cigarettes on fetuses.  I was a preemie baby, born early and with some issues, enough to land me in the NICU for a month or so after I was born. I was 3 pounds 2 oz.  I had eye issues, and had eye surgery at 4.  I always get a cold in my chest, and get bronchitis.

So as mom and I were talking, mom shared that she consumed alcohol while pregnant with me.  That she didn't know about the effects of it.  She told me that my father, who was a merchant marine and away at sea a lot, happened to be home more during her pregnancy with me, otherwise, (and here is the kicker) she would have been drinking more while pregnant with me.  WHOA!!!!!!!!!!!  I totally did NOT see that coming.  Really, she had NEVER shared that she drank alcohol while pregnant with me.  This totally explains my brother's life.  I know now why his life was the way it was.  I think my poor mother, who was feeling guilty about his life and death (she had nothing to do with it, could not have prevented it but was convinced she could have prevented it) also realized what she said and realized what it meant for my brother (and possibly me, but I didn't want to upset her so I didn't delve further, but I really wish I had had this conversation when the girls first came home).  I had no way of knowing that she consumed alcohol while pregnant with me so I shared what happens when a woman is pregnant and consumes alcohol during pregnancy.  I never knew.

So as I raise my daughter who also had a birthmother who consumed alcohol during her pregnancy with her, I wonder if that is why she was placed with me.  I wonder if I was chosen to raise her because of my own background?  I started looking into my own school years.  I do not in any way know how much my mother consumed.  I started to think back on my school years and what subject I had issues with - Math.  I had a very hard time with Math.  I never took algebra, I never took trig.  I didn't like sciences at all, yet I liked English and always read from the time I was young.  I wonder if I have ADD?  I have noticed in later life that I have a hard time focusing on one thing (if I had work on projects for example) and getting started, but I would always get it together and finish.  I am a procrastinator.  I started looking hard at myself, and then my mother became ill and I shelved it to take care of her and everything that needed to be done when she passed away.

I think I have some understanding of what LGA struggles with.  I don't know how I felt about it at first, if I had to say, I'd probably sum it up to surprise.  There was some anger at my mother over the years when I couldn't get pregnant, when I suffered early onset of menstruation, and then a full hysterectomy 8 yrs ago.  She felt guilty about that but we talked and I told her it was what it was, and we had to move on.  She didn't know what is known today.

But it makes me feel closer to LGA, closer to what she goes through. I have gone back to my childhood (I should dig deeper but I'm not ready to yet) to examine what I was like as a kid. I too, threw tantrums and fits, but was ignored, so I eventually gave them up.  I too, struggled in Math.  Do I have other issues?  I'm not sure.  But I know that I have shared with her some of my background, that I think we share this 'disorder' as it's called, and that when I adopted LGA, I had no idea we did share it.

The path for a FASD child is a hard one. I don't know what LGA's life will be like. I don't know what her future holds.  All I know is I love her, even when she frustrates me due to this disorder, and the OCD, possibly sensory, and other issues she faces. But we share something I never knew we did.  I have appreciation for the struggles she faces every day of her life.  I strive to parent her some days when it's really difficult.  But I remember that conversation with my mother and knowing what I do about FASD, I wonder where I fit as an adult, on the spectrum.  I wonder how I did not know..........all these years.  I love my mom and I know that she did what she did without knowing about the effects it had on her children. I don't fault her for it. I wonder how many other children of the 50's and 60's are out there whose mothers consumed alcohol while pregnant with them.  Perhaps more research needs to be done.

We struggle every day to meet LGA's needs, to know if we are doing enough.   We will continue to fight for her every day of our lives.  We will advocate knowledge to birth mothers about drinking during pregnancy.  We will continue to struggle during the hard times and appreciate the good times.

A quote I saw on FB today:

It's SO true.  Please support awareness of this disorder.  You just might find surprises along the way (as I did).  Hug your special needs kids extra hard today.