Thursday, October 17, 2013


The girls have been on vacation this week.  I love this time of year.  Dave usually takes vacation time during the girls' one week 'fall' break.  He likes to take it at this time because the weather is cooler, most kids are back in school and he can't take vacation during the holidays so it's nice to have him home for a week or so during October.

This year I asked Dave to take off a couple of days before the girls got out of school, just so we could have some time together. He did a few things around the house (we had a plumbing issue and a toilet seat that would not stay on the toilet so had to get a new one for the girls' bathroom, so a trip to Lowes was in order) and we went out for lunch, cooked ourselves breakfast (eggs with veggies, which the girls will eat but do not particularly like) and had some nice talks, time together.

On Friday of last week, our friends the H family, won some tix to Disney on Ice.  We have never taken the girls (although they remember going with a foster parent at one point) but they have always asked to go.  The boys in the H family did not want to go to this one, so the dad in this family (who works with Dave) brought the tix over when he got off work (he works night shift) on Friday am.  We managed to keep it a surprise for the girls and when we picked up BGA from school she knew there was a surprise but not what it was (she had guessed it, so not sure if she heard us talking after bedtime on Thurs night or what).  When LGA got home we told the girls and they were excited.  I had told LGA's teacher because we had had a conversation about some behaviors LGA has had at school.  LGA is having a challenging FASD month and some of her behaviors to that regard are getting very challenging. More on that in an upcoming post.  For now I'll skip to our vacation post.

We decided to go early to the town DOI was in so we could exchange the vouchers for tickets.  We got great tix not on the floor but a few rows up.  We then went to a local steakhouse we like (after driving around because we did not check out dinner options first) for dinner.  We like this place, Logan's Roadhouse, as you can eat peanuts out of a bucket (they come in a bag and then you put them in the bucket) and the girls were kept busy eating peanuts and cracking them.  That's always a plus.  We were in the back too, which is always good when taking LGA out. She can move around and get out of her seat, etc.  Dinner was good and we were ready for DOI.

This year's show was called Passport to Adventure (and I don't have any shots of it because my cell phone pic that Dave took makes us all look like we have devil eyes, LOL.  I didn't take any other pics because I was too busy trying to keep LGA at an acceptable level of behavior).  To say LGA was really on sensory overload would not be a lie.  She was in/out of her seat, she fought with BGA so as we had the two of them sitting together we had to split them up.  She was yelling and screaming when the characters came out.  She hit me when I told her she couldn't sing because while the people around us were ok with her behavior, the couple below us, the mom was staring at LGA.  It's times like this I really wish I had one of the cards other people pass out that explain FASD and it's behaviors.  I must order some.  But she did calm down a bit after the initial hyperactivity and was really enjoying the show. It was worth it for her joy and happiness. I had a hard time going down the stairs (the bifocals I got last year make it really hard to see unless I adjust where I am looking, going down stairs and there were very few rails. I got a bit dizzy).  So there was no way I wanted to go back up.  Poor Dave had to go make bathroom trips and the girls wanted a toy each.  They exchanged the light up wands for the hard plastic binoculars.  The show featured, Lion King, Ariel, Lilo and Stitch and Peter Pan.  It was cute.  We really thank our friends for giving us the tix.  It was a fun family night and BGA kept saying the next day what a good time she had.

We needed a day at home on Saturday so we pretty much vegged.  The girls and I slept in till after 8 (no normal feat in this house where LGA is almost always up, 7 days a week at 5:55am. Not 5:54 or 5:56, but at 5:55 am.  We need to figure out her sleep schedule. It's really hard lately) everyone is usually up early.  I made a crock pot meal and we all did our own thing.  It was a nice day, similar to what our Sundays are usually like.

Sunday we got up and had bkfst and went to a hands on science museum in the town over.  I got a Groupon for it so we decided to try it out. It was very hands on.  Lots of of bubble making, earth quake simulating, tornado simulating, heart beats on a drum, puzzles, etc.  The girls spent 2 hours on the hands on stuff and I think Dave spent as much time on all the stuff too.  It was another fun day.  We had a late lunch out and headed to the grocery store for some groceries for this week.

Monday we decided to go to the Groupon pumpkin patch we had purchased.  However, when we drove there it was really empty and looked really small (they promised a free pumpkin to a child 9 and younger) so we decided to go to our local hamburger stand (near it) for lunch and then decided to come back to the patch on the weekend when more people would be there.  We decided on the spur of the moment to go see a movie.  Of course it was a kid's movie, so Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs2 it was.  I have a movie theater card so the girls got a free popcorn and discounted sour patch candy.   It was cute and fun.  We came home and had dinner since we had groceries and no one was really super hungry after the popcorn and candy binge.

Tuesday was game day with Daddy.  The girls played board games and the Wii.  Usually there is a fight as LGA has issues with the Wii and can't play all the games so she gets mad and goes into meltdown mode.  This time Dave was patient with her and tried to show her a few tricks. It worked for awhile and then it didn't so it was time to put the Wii up.   The girls never like to get rid of stuff so we went through the board games but LGA was really unwilling to get rid of some of them.  I have a local fellow foster to adopt mom that I am hoping to give the games to. I really want to go through LGA's room and give this mom some of her toys that she doesn't play with but she's really unwilling to part with them.  So we'll see how that goes. I would really like to pare down.  Our house is small and while she has storage under her bed, I really would like to just purge what she no longer plays with.

Daddy went back to work yesterday and attitudes sucked.  It is transition after all.  Any transition is hard.  LGA has had a hard transition to having time off.  So no nintendo for her yesterday.  She was not happy.  I also would not let them play board games as they were fighting and that usually leads to a lot of fights, so they had a Netflix movie day instead.  That led to fights also because they are at different stages of what they will watch.  LGA is still wanting to watch some of the younger cartoons/movies and BGA wants to watch some of the more 'teen/tween' stuff.  They worked it out but I had to threaten to turn the tv off.  It was a tough day.  I still managed to make a chicken pot pie and salad for dinner so that was a good thing.  :-)

So we are hanging out again today, as BGA has a slight cold.  I let them play nintendos today so we'll see how that goes.  LGA is getting better at shutting it down when asked, but of course that continues to be an issue for her.  But I figure they have not had much nintendo time so if I can monitor/restrict the time we'll all be better off.

A new article came out on FASD that I want to blog about, but this week I am unable to really concentrate on it.  Daddy will be off again on Sunday and Monday so I figure that topic will be one for next week. One good thing, was LGA came to me and tied the strings on her knit pants into a bow. I have been wanting her to tie her shoes for awhile.  She finally has it.  Time for some shoes with laces now.  I was very happy she can now tie her shoes!  Also, the girls have grown.  Time for new jeans and shoes for them.  Both girls shot up in height but not at the waist.  BGA is able to wear the next size up in slim jeans (wow, where did my little girl go?  She looks very grown up and 'teen.').  LGA just needs the next size up.  I'm on a quest to find school clothes jeans.

For now, we're enjoying vacation and October.  The house is cooler today (temps have been high 70's to low 80's) and my feet are cold for the first time since probably March.  I'm making a meatloaf for the sick one in the house (her fave) and baking brownies.  I'm very domestic this vacation.  It helps picking up a Taste of Home crockpot recipe book, though.  I have made one meatball stew out of it and look forward to the soup section, particularly this fall.  Now, if the leaves would change, I'd be really happy.  :-)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Couple More Wedding Pics.........

So to lighten the heaviness of last post, here are a few more wedding pics.  BGA caught the bouquet and was so happy to have caught it.  they loved the dinosaur bubble guns that they used leading the bride and groom back down the aisle after their "I-Do's."  Nice wedding.  Can I just say BGA looks  SO grown up now??

My Daughter And I Are Similar........

Five (and almost a half) years ago I never thought I would utter that sentence.  My daughter and I are similar.
But the few of you who are reading this blog know that I posted about my mother having consumed alcohol while pg with me.  A fact I learned when she was in the hospital right before she died last year.  I was born in the 1960's (yes, I am going to hit that 'milestone' birthday this month) and in the 1960's pregnant mothers did not know they should not drink or smoke while pg.  I wonder how many adults are out there now whose mothers consumed alcohol while pg.

I didn't know when we brought LGA home that I was similar to her in any way. Her issues became apparent when she hit 5.  Most of her behaviors prior to 5 (between 3 and 4) were mostly toddlerish behavior because she was about 2 yrs behind as most foster children are.   So I didn't really notice her FASD behaviors till she hit 5.  Once she hit 5 it was like a switch had been turned on and she became this whole other child.  Meltdowns happened, swift and fast.  Anything could and did set her off.  It was and continues to be challenging to parent her.  LGA turned 9 this year and parenting her became harder.  But as I really took a look at my life, knowing I was on the spectrum for FASD, I realized we are similar.

But first I had to take a look at myself and my growing up years.  I don't remember many fits or tantrums. If I had a fit I remember I was ignored.  I did have a couple, usually because I wanted something my parents had said no to, or I remember a fit at my grandmother's house, not sure why but it sticks in my mind as I sat in her huge Morris chair that had these huge arms on it that you could put your fingers through. I don't remember what caused the fit, I just remember sitting in that chair and knowing I had a fit.  But I was ignored and I think I got over it quickly.  Math was always hard for me, for some reason it makes more sense now than it did when I was younger.  I was good at spelling, reading, history, etc.  but not good with math and hated science completely.  I never wanted to go on to college and couldn't wait to get out of school.  I started when I was 4 because I had a fall birthday and have read my report cards where I couldn't focus (had eye issues) and stared out the window in dream land (my words, not the teacher's).  So I repeated kinder when I was 5 and it seems to have worked out.  But I have had a hard time at times focusing in my adult life, and while I held admin jobs and a hotel job in reservations and sales admin, I really had no career path in mind.  I wanted to travel to the UK where my cousins were (and I did, I lived there for 6 glorious months) and work. After my mother realized I was not going to fulfill her dream of going to college (I have some Jr college under my belt, as well as a travel agent's course and nanny training) she concentrated on getting me a job.  She got me one, my job at a hotel (she knew the HR person) and I stayed there for 13 yrs before I moved to N CA from S CA.  That was a leap of faith.  It was the right step as I met Dave and we married and each had our share of job layoffs during the years that have followed.

SO imagine my surprise when I learn I have been alcohol exposed.  After adopting my daughter who is also alcohol exposed (during which time my mother never uttered a word to let me know that she drank while pg with me).  It was only when talking about LGA's special ed day class and her issues that my mother mentioned it.  I wish I had thought to ask her when she consumed alcohol and how much.  I never did because I saw she was making some connections to my brother who had passed away the year before.  He had a lot of issues and I suspect also was exposed to alcohol.  So I didn't bring it up and now I will never know.  My aunt and uncle never want to talk about it and my cousins who are all at least 10+ years older than me do not remember.

I have done some deep reflection.  I have wondered what it would have been like had I known years earlier that I have FASD.  But I didn't. I didn't know when we adopted LGA.  I didn't know when we started seeing her behaviors when she turned 5.  Would I have changed anything?  I don't think so.  I started remembering my childhood.  It doesn't compare to hers, I know she has more brain damage than I do.  I might have mild brain damage, but the realization that I have it (after thinking I was not like her nor could I relate to what she's going through. I was wrong.  I can relate to some of it) really took me for surprise.  People didn't know what to say to me.  They sort of skirted the issue.  Even my own husband had no clue what to say to me.  It was hard.  I thought people put it off and didn't want to talk about it.  It made me resentful.  I needed to talk to someone about it.  I still haven't done that and I guess I need to.

I did talk to LGA about it.  I think it changed our relationship, because I could tell her that I am like her, that Grandma didn't know about drinking while she was pg with me, so I share something with her. I think she liked it.  As posted previously, I wondered if I was meant to parent her, even the frustration of her behaviors.  As I have worked through my mother's death, the grief, the realization that I too, am a FASD, I have been able to have a bit more compassion for my daughter, while also trying hard to understand her behaviors, and what it means for her, in her future.  Because my life has been so different than hers will be.  All I can do is be there for her and help her wherever I can.  But we share a bond we didn't know we shared.  And that has changed her relationship with me.  She is in a phase where she only wants me.  She is very vocal about it too.  It's hard when I need a break, but we are coping.  Daddy is the fun daddy, which is how it should be sometimes.  But he can also calm her down whereas I have a hard time when she's in meltdown mode. I have finally learned how to try to help her and learned her triggers but it took awhile for me.  I think I have some sensory issues because yelling and screaming voices are hard for me and make me really have a hard time during that.  So I am recognizing it and I am trying hard to not buy into it.  It just hurts my ears.  Movie theaters speakers hurt my ears.  Wool bothers me.  I never thought about what it would mean to have some sensory issues.  Now because of LGA's issues, I am aware of mine.

It's hard to put this out there. I don't know what made me feel the need to put it out there but I felt sort of pushed to write this post. I am not a super spiritual person, but I felt a bit of a spiritual push to write this post.  I thought of it, put it out of my mind (great procrastinator, used to get told that by my mom all the time) and then decided again to write this post. Maybe some adult FASD might find it useful.  Maybe someone will connect the dots.  I never did, I had no reason to believe my mother consumed any alcohol while pg. I was quite surprised.  I keep examining my baby pics and toddler pics to see if I have any FASD facial features.  I think I do.   But I know that I have made it this far in life, and that I will continue. I will support my daughter, knowing her future may be more limited, but that she can have a good life and we will make sure it happens.

If you got this far, thanks for reading.  Please read up about alcohol consumption if you are a woman who may be pg or want to be.  Please know that no amount of alcohol is safe during pgcy.  None.  I know this to be true, whether I knew it for the first 40something years of my life or not.  The puzzle pieces came together and I am a different person as I approach this milestone birthday, that is for sure.

I have found some people in 'real' life don't get the challenges there are in raising LGA. Some tell me I dwell on them too much and make it about my kids.  Some people have told me to 'find my tribe' for support.  I am sorry, but I have realized that I cannot change this.  LGA is who she is and she has issues.  She is special needs, brain damaged, whatever you want to categorize it as.  It's there, and it means my time is spent raising her.  Dave and I have not had a break on our own in awhile.  Dave took vacation for 2 days before the girls have a fall week break next week so we could just hang out and talk, watch a movie (at home, the movie times don't work for school pick up/drop off) and have breakfast together (he cooked for me this am) and go to lunch.  It's nice.  We need it.

And.........just to give a little bit of fluff from this heavy duty post.  Check out the pic of LGA and I at cousin G's wedding. I will post a few more pics for you in the next post. I like LGA's smile in this one.  Some of  the other pics she has more of a forced smile.  This is the smile I see every day and love.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Reflection and Celebration........

During the last half of the year, I feel a lot of reflection (much as I love fall and proclaimed it in my last post) coming on. I am seeing it in posts on other blogs, and I feel it, as much as I feel the weather changing.

Today marks the 13th anniversary of our marriage.  I cannot help but reflect 13 yrs ago at this time.

Photo: In celebration of anniversary week.  13 yes and counting.  Love you Dave Levingston.

Look how young we were (and I was a lot heavier than I am now). We knew so little about the direction our lives would go, same as some people's lives go, job layoffs, debt, infertility, etc.  We knew so little about being married either, we had no idea how to be a man and wife, married.  We had a house and a dog, and jobs.  We had friends we hung out with all the time on the weekends.  And we waited for the baby we thought would come.  It didn't, so we moved to infertility treatments.  We then let that go and I went through the hardest operation I'd ever been through, emotionally (physically it was easy), a hysterectomy as my poor body had been through a lot infertility treatment wise. We took 3 years for me to heal physically, another job loss (this time mine) and to heal emotionally.  We then decided to go through the foster to adoption route after having a 'friend of a friend's' friend who got pg and might want to place for a domestic adoption.  We weren't ready but would have done whatever we could to make it happen.  The birthmother parented and I was really devastated.  It came shortly after my hysterectomy op so I think that was part of the reason we took 3 yrs as well to decide on whether or not we wanted to be parents.

We got to know each other over 7 yrs.  We knew each other like the back of our hands.  We had similar thoughts as well as different (much different) interests.  Dave was into comics and painting wargaming figurines, video games,action movies, initially he was into WWE wrestling.  I was into making my own jewelry (with his support, starting me out in the beginning and helping to learn different techniques - before You Tube), reading, and comedy/romance movies, and I started to learn to cook (after Dave initially did the cooking in our house since I commuted) and liked clothing/shoes.  But we would routinely be thinking the same thought and would voice it.  We had a commitment to being together through sickness and health (my health would test us first). We rarely argued if at all, but we did get frustrated with each other at times.  We loved our dog and going on date nights each Friday night.  We went to movies and dinner and pretty much took day trips places in our area and beyond.  We were comfortable in our lives together.

And then we had a conversation late one night about adoption.  I pretty much told Dave I was ok if we didn't adopt (I wanted to raise Cavalier King Charles Spaniel dogs) and he could decide. I was ok either way he chose - we could decide to pursue adoption or if he really didn't want to, we could decide not to.  And I wasn't just saying it to make him do it, I really could have gone either way and would have been perfectly happy. I was over 40, and I knew that it would be hard to parent over 40.  Dave chose to go forward.  Our friends A & S had adopted 3 boys foster to adopt and S and I had been Yahoo Im'ing each night as she told me about the process and the parenting of her new boys.  We met the boys and decided to go to an information session for their foster to adopt agency.

The rest is pretty much history but I'll cap it off here for you since most of it is on our older blog.  We went through the process and mid way through I experienced another job layoff (this time in the mortgage industry as an admin) mid way through finishing our homestudy and I had no idea if we would be able to continue. I was mad about the timing (as I felt my bosses knew where we were in the process) but most of the office was laid off in different stages so I had wished it could have been earlier in the year (it was fall) so we could have finished our home study.  However, we managed to finish and waited a month before we got calls and met the girls.  They were placed a month after we met them and the rest is history.

I look at where we are 13 yrs later and while it is different (we argue or snipe at each other a bit more than we ever did before kids) it has also grown a lot.  Dave has been here with me through health issues, the loss of both my brother and my mother, his mini health issues, and we have gone through a lot with the girls' placement.  We have found out how strong we were together and separately, and we have grown as individuals, a couple and as parents.  I love him more than I ever have and I am glad to know that when I tend to (possible ADD???) to not focus he can bring me back in.  He is the voice of reason and he takes awhile to think things over (I go whole hog and want to do stuff NOW!).  He's solid as a person and he's very much dead on in his opinions of people.  He has a great sense of humor and makes me laugh a lot.  I love him and I can't imagine life without him.

So, here's to 13 yrs of marriage, and to many more.  I know he won't read this blog, but I love you Dave.  You are a great father and husband.

And to celebrate, since we do not have babysitters, we will take the girls out for dinner.  They were excited it was our anniversary and I know they will look forward to celebrating with us.