Family · Self

Update. What’s Going on Part II

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I’m back with Part II of the update.  In the last update I told you about finding a special school for my son to attend.  We are still trying to finalize his attendance. Since the school is so small there isn’t a lot of hard core directions or go to persons.

I have yet to remove him from our public school system.  I’m waiting until the first week of class before I do that.  Just in case there is something catastrophic at the new school. I hope things go well.  Right now I have to keep focusing on getting “E” to attend class.  My mind keeps jumping ahead and thinking “Is he going to lose friends? Is he going to make friends? Will the school get accreditation? How will we pay for this?  How can we afford college?  Can we retire?” That’s just a sample.  There is so much more going through my mind.

We were going to send “E” to a week long computer class the school was offering.  It was unfortunately cancelled due to low enrollment.  They had another class the following week.  He couldn’t attend that as he was taking a coding class.  He really wanted to take the coding class.  Since he is not panicked to attend coding we want to encourage that.  I don’t want him to get too agoraphobic. I see hints of it. I also see hints of OCD but it hasn’t gotten to a full blown issue so I am just leaving it.

The funny thing is I planned my schedule around that class. I had cancelled over 9 different appointments to accommodate that class.  Story of my life that.

At home we are still having some trouble with him. Some of it is what he has been diagnosed with, some of it is being a teen, and some is brat or only child syndrome.  I don’t know how to handle it sometimes.  I think because he was so easy as an elementary school aged child he’s making up for it with gusto.

We recently had several appointments with a local psychiatric center that is known for diagnosis and classes to help people with mental limitations or illnesses.  Over the course of two meetings I handed in a two inch thick pile of paperwork on E. We initially went to see if he would qualify for one of their groups.  Mainly to help his severe shyness.

They agreed that he would benefit from several services.  The first thing is family counseling, then they recommended a diad. A diad is two kids and two therapists.  It’s kind of like group therapy but with one other person.  It’s sort of the next step from individual therapy to diad then on to group at one point. They also recommended case management.

They had offered the family therapy right away. However, the time they had would interfere with Erik’s school.  I told them I wanted to be put on the wait list for two different locations near us.  We need to get acclimated to his new school and schedule. Taking him out early would not work for him.  Granted we will be doing this in the future, but I will wait till September before I start it. It would be too much going on for us.  Just like I am putting off E’s eating therapy too. The anxiety, depression and school has to take precedence.

Since “E” couldn’t attend that class we went to the new school last week to meet two of the teachers.  We spent about an hour there.  “E” didn’t want to talk much.  He spent most of the time on his ipad.  It’s his way of coping.  Hopefully, everything will go well. I want to have him develop other coping skills.  Maybe he will get some from the other students.

During this time I also visited a geneticist.  Mainly because breast cancer runs in both sides of my family, and last year’s breast cancer scare. I had just one meeting and she said my risk isn’t any different from the general population.  I wasn’t worried but everyone else in my family makes it a big deal.  Now I can get people off my back.  For me, we all are going to get something.  In fact, we will all get multiple things health wise.  I’m not going to be paranoid.  I just want to take care of myself.

Speaking of which, I have gained weight.  I am so disappointed in myself.  I have to recommit to losing weight.  To losing a significant amount of weight and getting healthy.  Damn, I wish junk food wasn’t so good.  I also want to be more healthy since all this stress has come up.  My body isn’t able to cope.  I have increased panic attacks, nausea and gastrointestinal issues.  I’m exhausted all the time. So much so I can sometimes stay in bed all day. Then the migraines and chronic pain are rearing their heads.  Self care needs to take a more important role too.  I need to get back to regular chiropractor and massage therapist appointments.

This concludes my “update.”  Thanks for letting me rant.  Sometimes you just have to get it off your chest.

 

Family

My Furry Alarm Clocks Part 2

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You read all about my dog Boo.  Now learn about the latest edition to my family.  Our new rescue kitties “May” and “Winter.” The two of them are brothers.  They are from a litter of five cats and were the last two left.  We originally went to see May the black and white “tuxedo” cat.  On our way to the fosters basement she said there was another cat left too.  That they were brothers.  The minute she said that, I knew I was going home with two cats.

My son was with me.  So I asked him to pick a cat.  He looked at me and said “Mom, I can’t separate them, they’re brothers.” So I called my husband, and he said it was up to me.  I agreed and we took home two cats.  We had driven about an hour to get them.  I had originally sent out inquiries about 16+ cats up for adoption.  It was a range of kittens to adult cats.  I think we looked at four rescue groups total.  The only two cats were available, these two.  All the kittens needed to do was to fulfill one major requirement.  The cats must get along with dogs.

What I have found, however, is that in rescue speak “good with dogs” means they may have seen a dog.  Once. At a distance. In passing.

So the two kittens fitted into a single carrier together for the over 45 minute car ride home.  All the way May gave the most mournful wail.  Both tried to escape the carrier.  May was successful.  I had to drive with one hand and hold onto him with the other.  His brother, Winter the grey stripped cat, just sat in the carrier as still as possible.

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Finally, we arrive home.  Our Australian Shepard ran to us and sniffed the newest members of the family.  Winter hissed at her.  Boo quickly ran away, she is scared of mean cats. So we took the two fur balls up to our guest bedroom where we had their litter box and food set up. Our family planned to introduce them (Boo and the cats) to each other.  The cats had a ton of toys and beds to choose from.

It took about a month for us to let the cats have the run of the house.  We moved the litter box to the basement.  Their food to the kitchen.  Then various toys and beds were relocated to the rest of the house.

The cats have made themselves at home.  May is pretty mellow, he likes to sleep on the couch, in the chair in my office and by my feet in bed.  In the morning when my husband wakes up he feeds them they run after him and meow to get their food.  They know when the dog barks they get fed too.  Copy cats.  May, our tuxedo, will run to where the dogs food is kept and meows.  Just in case we forget to feed the dog first.  He also meows when the dog is ready to come in from outside.  Just in case we miss her.  May loves Boo. Winter, our stripped cat, has also started to do this.  Which I find funny.  He’s the one that is always biting the dog.  Don’t worry, the dog doesn’t feel it. She just gives me this look of “why did you bring them here?”

Once we get to their food,  they start purring and rubbing up against your hands making it hard to dish up the food without spilling it.  Then May comes upstairs and meows next to the bed (if I go back to it or am still in it).  Once I acknowledge him, he hops up and curls up in my arms for tummy rubs. When he wants attention or food he always meows.

Winter also likes tummy rubs but has to be in the mood for them.  He has become my buddy lately.  Always wanting to be by me.  Winter likes to suck on fuzzy blankets and knead them.  I have read that cats who are taken from their moms too young do this.  I know that these guys were taken too young.  When I see Winter do this, I just pet him and tell him it’s okay.

Winter is our brave and curious one.  He is fascinated by everything and has to experience everything.  I finally understand the phrase “curiosity killed the cat” by having Winter.  He has jumped in the fridge while open.  In the washer, dryer, cabinets, bathtub and toilet.  We must always keep the toilet seat down in this house (I’m out numbered by men) as Winter thinks it’s a drinking fountain.  Cats!

Each has their own distinct personality and likes and dislikes.  May likes to carry around small things.  His favorite toy is a bottle cap.  The plastic ones on coke bottles.  He used to love these little plastic flower cat toys that the foster had.  I searched all over the internet to find them.  I bought a bunch but I think the bottle caps are easier to carry around.  Winter likes things that move.  Especially if those things have feathers.  I can’t tell you how many of those wand toys he has destroyed. I have to hid my hair twist ties as both kitties are obsessed with them.  They have to carry them and chew on them.  The have also destroyed all my husbands shoe laces.

Thankfully all pets get along fairly well.  Each was a rescue pet.  I think they really know that this is their forever home.

*Thank you all for waiting for me to return to blogging.  As you know by my updates, life has taken an awful turn. I plan, but some things are more important than the blog.  I still enjoy doing this and hope to continue. Thanks for reading!

Family · Home

My Furry Alarm Clocks

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Mark this under getting to know your blogger.  Today, I’d like to tell you about my pets.  Or as I like to call them.  My furry alarm clocks.  All of my pets are rescue animals.  Our dog “Boo”, who was named by the shelter, was found on the side of the road.  It was in South-Eastern Kansas (USA). Apparently, a vet saw her starving and bitten by flies on the side of the road.  He opened his backseat and she jumped in without being asked.  Then two weeks later she was up here in Minnesota waiting to be adopted.

The adoptive agency had not even put her photo up on their site yet. We met her at a large adoption event at Pet Co.  There had to be over a hundred dogs and more people.  We met about 8 dogs but we couldn’t find the right one.  We were there for hours. Finally, my son who had just finished Kindergarten was restless.  So my husband took him next door to the toy store.  Then I went in search of another dog.  I asked one of the volunteers for a friendly dog that was good with children.  We have so many kids in our neighborhood, we wanted to be cautious.  The volunteer showed me several dogs many of which we had looked at.

Then the volunteer brought me to a cage with an Australian Shepard in it.  The dog appeared frightened, but wanted to come with me.  I brought it outside.  The dog really loved being petted and immediately rolled over for tummy rubs.  Then my son and husband came back.  My husband said “Who is this?” I told him that I think I found our dog.

My husband had liked another dog, but I wasn’t fond of it.  I preferred this one.  Then I went and sat down on a bench and my son sat on the other end. The dog immediately jumped up and sat between us.  Boo was the only dog that paid attention to my son and I.  Other dogs we looked at were more interested what was going on then us.

So finally it came time to choose.  My husband had his favorite, I had mine.  So our six year old son would have to break the tie.  He choose the Australian Shepard “Boo”. She was about a one year old female.  We don’t think she is a pure breed.  We don’t care about that.  We filled out our paperwork, had her get chipped and took her home.

She was so frighted at first. She got physically ill all over our carpet.  We had the white builders carpet that so many home builders put in new homes.  The previous owners had not ripped it out.  Why is white carpet a thing?  Anyway, she was so ashamed when that happened.  She crawled over to me as if to say “Don’t hurt me.”  We had to reassure her she was not in trouble.  We gave her rubbed her head and spoke to her in that high pitched baby voice only dog owners know.

In the beginning she was my shadow. Actually, she still is my shadow.  It’s a trait of her breed.  They call Australian Shepherds the “Velcro” dog.  They follow you everywhere.  When I say everywhere I mean everywhere too.  It’s like having a toddler.  For once I would like to go to the bathroom without company.

She wasn’t as keen on my husband though.  She seemed scared of him.  My husband was confused as to what he had done.  I had to reassure him she liked him.  We just didn’t know her background.  I felt that she had been abused by males in her previous home(s) and that is why she was so fearful.  When my husband would grab a leash to take her for a walk she would cower behind me.  While we cannot say for certain, I feel whoever abandoned her used a rope to hurt her somehow.  For about a year after we adopted her she was skittish over ropes, and leashes if they were held by my husband.

Over time she warmed up to my husband and loves it when he takes her on walks.  It’s the only time she leaves me.  The minute my husband says the “W” word or grabs the leash she is right there by his side. Happy as a calm. She also waits for him in the window. When she sees his car she runs to the garage door waiting for him to come in.

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She also loves my son.  Her relationship is a little different with him.  She has always checked on him every night since we got her.  She also had to walk him to the bus stop and pick him up from the bus stop in elementary school.  If she felt that I was going to be late getting him she would bark at me to make sure I didn’t miss the bus dropping him off.

She loves the kids at the bus stop so much that one time she got out of her collar and ran onto the bus just as the door closed.  The bus started to pull away with her, and I had to run next to it and bang on the side.  Fortunately, the bus driver heard me and stopped.  He thought someone forgot something.  “No,” I told him.  “You have my dog.”  He gave me an odd look and I pointed to Boo laying in the middle of the aisle on the bus.  Happy as can be. All the kids thought it was hilarious.

After my son went to junior high school, she would still sit in the window and watch the elementary kids get on the bus.  When the bus pulls away, she gets down.  She really doesn’t care about the parents who are left, just that the kids got on safely.  Today, she runs out the door whenever I leave to drop off or get my son.  She wants to come along.  I’ve tried to say no. She just ignores me and jumps over, or around me and runs out.  Once I tried to tell her no and walked over to get her.  She ran away from me.  I wound up chasing her around the car four or five times.  Now I know how Wylie Coyote felt chasing the Road Runner in cartoons. Finally, I gave in.

Sometimes I have tried to fool her with treats.  She has endless hunger.  My dog trainer said since she was a stray food would most likely always be an issue for her.  She cannot be fooled.  Once okay.  Twice, not on your life.  She gives me this look like “I know that trick.”  The one where I throw the treat towards the back door and run out the front.  Then she gives me another look as if to say “Those treats suck too”.

The vet wants me to keep her weight down. Because of this the treats have been massively reduced in size and quality. Can’t make them too tasty.

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She rides very well.  When we took our first long car trip as a family, we found out another fear of hers.  I think whoever previously owned her took her on a long car trip, removed her collar and  left her.  About an hour into our first long car trip she jumped from the backseat to my lap in the front seat and just shook.  At least I was not driving at the time. She would not leave no matter how much I reassured her.

At the half-way point we took her out to get a walk and she wouldn’t take a step without me.  She kept her eye on me at all times.  Finally, she agreed to get in the backseat again.  We even took her collar off thinking it would make her more comfortable.  Wrong.  She got so upset and began to nudge the collar in our hands to get it back on.  We never take her collar off anymore.

Boo will always be by you when you are sick.  When we sleep at night she curls up in her bed at the foot of ours or jumps up on the bed to wedge herself between us.  She is so loving I can’t imagine not having her.  We love her to bits our furry alarm clock.

Stay tuned for “My Furry Alarm Clock, Part 2- Cat Edition” coming up soon.  How does your dog make itself part of the family?

Family

What is Dyspraxia?

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What is Dyspraxia?  I must admit, when I heard of this disorder I didn’t have a clue to what it meant.  When my son was diagnosed with it I started to research the meanings.  It was eye opening.  “Oh, so that’s why he does that” was always on my lips.  In this post find out the basics about Dyspraxia, and how to cope.

Dyspraxia is a neurological condition that can effect communication, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and organization.  In the area of communication, dyspraxia  can hinder understanding of non-verbal cues, volume control on your speaking voice, and the ability to get to know people in a group. For gross motor skills, the ability to play sports, hop and skip, or keep your balance. Organization can be hindered by an inability to be neat, plan ahead, and recall directions. Finally, fine motor skills can be cutting with a scissors, using utensils, and writing.

Dyspraxia was first listed in the US Diagnostic Manuel in 2013.  So it’s diagnosis is brand spanking new!  You may notice that many of the symptoms are also found in other diagnosis.  If you suspect Dyspraxia or another kind of neurological or psychological disorder please get your child to a licensed Psychiatrist for testing.

It can often be referred to as “clumsy child syndrome.”  My son was always tripping over his feet and falling.  Sometimes I wonder if he did it on purpose.  I guess not!  Often they cannot sit normally in a chair, can’t tell left and right, an can’t tie shoes.  It is often genetic and can effect 2-10% of the population.

I believe that the longer and more studying that is done on many of these new disorders, the more defined and quickly they will be diagnosed.  Often Autism is considered when dyspraxia  is found.  Please make sure to get diagnostic testing done.  It really helps and can force the school district to address some of your child’s needs.

I personally see a lot of myself in this diagnosis. If this had been around when I was young, I think there is a definite possibility that I would have been diagnosed as this as well.  Has anyone in your life been diagnosed with Dyspraxia?

 

 

 

Family

Chores for kids ages 11-16

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Chores and age appropriateness.  It’s always a difficult struggle.  What can you kid do?  What should your kid do?  Why are his friends doing X,Y, Z and not your child?  Everyone is at a different spot.  Here are some ideas for chores you can start your child on between the ages of 11 and 16.

1. Do the laundry.  They can wash, sort, dry and fold.  Make sure to cover towels and bedding too.

2. Shop for groceries.  Making a list, checkout, take home and put away.

3.Iron clothing.

4. Do yard work. Can they start using the lawn mower? Hedge trimmer?

5. How about cooking?  Can they make one meal a week?

6. This is also a great time to start side jobs like babysitting and snow shoveling.

What other chores do you have for your older kids?

Family

UPDATE

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Oh boy, it’s time for an update. So much has gone on since September, the last time I updated you.  Honestly, the last two months have been so physically and mentally draining that I don’t want to recap them. I am drained. All I have the energy to do is listen to podcasts.  Even then, I find myself falling asleep sitting up. I the energetic equivalent of a garden slug.  Although, I’m pretty sure the garden slug has more pep.

I keep hoping for progress. My son has had difficulty since school started.  We had to reschedule and restructure his day multiple times.  He has been routinely having panic attacks.  It got to the point where he could only go to three classes.  I was also called a lot due to him having panic attacks and needing me. Sometimes the call would go to voice mail and all I could hear was my son’s incoherent stuttering on the other end. I would often come to sit with him in the office.

Once the school physically walked him to class and sat with him.  Then they refused to let him call me.  I wrote a very strongly worded letter that they could not do that again.  I’ve got a kid suffering from horrible anxiety and was hospitalized for suicide attempts.  Not the kid you want to upset and embarrass in front of his peers.  I had trouble getting him to go back.  I told him I made sure that it would never happen again. I do not think the school was very happy with me after that.  There was definitely a cool reception for me after that.

I understand that they had the best intentions for him at heart.  However, many people do not understand anxiety disorders.  There is a lack of understanding and empathy for those with mental health issues in general.  My kid is normal.  He just has this issue.

I kept taking my son to school, sometimes staying hours there myself.

The school kept pushing me to enroll him in another school and another program.  I felt we couldn’t give into the anxiety and would just have to work within the school parameters.  Then we got a letter from the Dean of students saying he had to meet with us because our son had missed too many days of school and is a truancy problem. He said we needed a plan for my son.  Um, that’s what I thought we had going with the school.  I kept thinking why doesn’t this guy know?  Don’t they all communicate?

My understanding was that the school and my son’s therapist were working together.  So I made the appointment.  We get together with the dean and some other members of staff.  So the Dean has us fill out this paperwork for the county. So we begin to answer all his questions and he fills out the form. We went through everything that has happened in the last year and what we have done.

Halfway through filling out the form he stopped writing as he ran out of room on the form.  He was very surprised at how much we had done.   In fact, we have done everything.  There could be no more recommendations. The “plan” was the same one we had before.  To slowly get E to integrate into each classroom. Like to keep adding five minutes each day until he can stay for the whole period.  Unfortunately, this was not working.

Several weeks pass and I get a notice for another meeting.  This time with more staff, most of the people I have dealt with before.  E has not been improving.  So they try to force my hand.  They wanted him to go to school at the other junior high and be involved with this special program.  He would be in a room with kids who have high functioning autism.  He would have two classes there and then be in regular classes for the rest of the day.

If he can’t go to regular classes at his old school with teachers he knows, how is he going to attend regular classes at a new school?  I know the stress would push him over.  Homeschooling is not an option.  He can’t stay at home for the rest of his life.  Making his circle smaller only increases the anxiety.  So I felt we were at a stand still.  My husband thought we should try it.

He often agrees with whatever the person running it says.  He doesn’t deal with the schools and doctors like I do.  I get so angry at him for this.  I have dealt with anxiety and depression my whole life.  It runs in my family.  I know what I am talking about.  These are administrators and teachers, not mental health professionals.  So what to do?

Then it dawns on me.  I will let him go to the new school if he gets to stay in that special room for every class.  They will only integrate him if he is comfortable. That way he is with the same teacher and same aides.  It will help alleviate his stress.  They have two weeks to see if this works.  If he gets worse, he is going back to his own school.  If he is the same or better he can stay.  He will still have a new case manager and social worker.  At least he knows the school nurse as she is our neighbor.  It’s hard to leave everything you know.  Even if you don’t go to it all.  So far nothing has improved but it has not gotten worse either.

I have had to pick him up a few times due to the anxiety making him unable to do anything.

In reading the paperwork done by the dean of students I noticed that it said that if no changes were made the matter would be referred to the district attorney.  Huh?  They told me this was just a formality.  So I called our family attorney.  She said she knew what it was, but there was nothing to worry about.  She said they do that if there are families where the parents won’t or can’t help their kids. Since we have been doing everything and can prove it, the county will do nothing.  That was a relief.

Also, at this time, I took my son to his therapist. The therapist up to this point has been trying to get E to work on his anxiety and being supportive.  This time she decided to play bad cop.  She really lit into my son and had him distraught.  She told him that we (his parents) were going to get into trouble and he would be taken away.  Then she told him she wouldn’t see him again until he could go to four classes.  This didn’t work and he was so upset he thought he was going to be put up for adoption.  Don’t know where that came from. I spent the next few days telling him he wouldn’t be taken from us.  He clung to me so tightly.  This changed nothing.  Now, I am trying to find a new therapist b/c he won’t go back to the old one.

I spent a week trying to get him into a new therapist in town.  I called 4 times and sent one email.  No response.  So now I have a phone call into a new place.  I hope the will call me back.  I really feel that he needs some counseling. I have also started calling a second therapy group as a back up.  They are not taking new clients and have an extensive wait list.  So they gave me the name of another therapist to try.

We have increased some of his meds.  He still has his psychiatrist. E has however lost weight.  So the psychiatrist is worried.  E won’t eat any breakfast or lunch because of his anxiety.  Add to that his sensory issues and he barely eats anything. He definitely does not have a balanced diet.  We try to supplement things with nutritional shakes and supplements.  It’s the best we can do.

Our son’s grandmother came to visit for about a week.  I spent that week, both morning and evening, sleeping.  I was so exhausted I couldn’t get enough rest.  I think since I can trust grandma to handle things my body was trying to catch up and rest.

I want desperately to have a different life.  I just feel so buried with everything I don’t know what to do.  I have ideas of directions to go, but time?

I’ll update you again shortly.

 

Family

What We Did As A Family Recently.

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Another month has flown by so quickly.  It’s the end of October.  I can’t believe it.  October for me is the start of the busy season which lasts till the third week in January for me.  I have finally been able to schedule a few fun things to do with family and friends.  I also was able to sort through all the Halloween decorations and got rid of a lot.  I kept enough for one shelf in the entrance way and the fireplace mantel.  I also went through the Thanksgiving decorations.  I don’t have a lot of those but I narrowed it down.  Part of me just wants to get rid of all of those decorations but I am not sure right now.  I will have to think about that in the future.

One of the fun things I was able to do was go with my friend to the Bachman’s Floral, Gift and Garden Idea House.  They take an old home and several times a year redecorate it.  Then they charge a small fee to tour it.  The proceeds go to charity.  You can also buy the one of a kind items in the house as well as the more mass produced stuff in the store.  This time I went to the Fall Idea House.  Here is the garage which they turned into a bar/man cave.

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They always do the bedrooms which I love.  I am a sucker for a ton of pillows on the bed.

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No matter what time of year it is, the dining room table is always beautifully decorated.

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Later in the month, I went with my family to the Minnesota Zoo Jack-o-Lantern spectacular.  It was amazing!  There are 5000 pumpkins alight at night.  I’m glad we got there early and bought our online tickets early.

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Some of the pumpkins were carved with very traditional faces like above.  Some were more artistic in nature.  An example is Harry Potter below.

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They keep carving pumpkins throughout the spectacular to replace the ones that rot.  What a great thing for the zoo to host!  I am so glad I went.

Close to the end of the month I went to an Antiques fair at Bachman’s.  Yes, I kind of live there.  I like a lot of the things the host.  Also, just know, they are not sponsoring me.

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Then on the weekend, the last one before all the leaves fell.  We went to the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum.  They had a scarecrow display where you could see this pumpkin house.

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The pumpkin has a variety of shapes and colors doesn’t it.  My favorite name of one of the pumpkins is the “Warty Goblin.”  Perfect. The main attraction was the fall color.  I love looking at the yellow leaves on the Wood Duck Trail.  So pretty!

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Now we are prepping for Halloween trick or treaters.  Do you have a lot of kids come to your house?  I grew up out in the middle of nowhere.  We only had one trick or treater in the 25 years I lived there.  We thought they were lost.  It’s hard to figure out how much candy to get.  The number of kids varies from year to year.  This year I bought full sized candy bars.  Mistake!  I’ve already gotten into the Reece’s peanut butter cups.  A favorite of mine.  What do you sneak out of the candy stash?