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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A quick hello...Going to the FAIR

Just a quick hello, as I have not posted in a week or so, which is odd for me.  But the kids are not in school right now, which is a major change from our normal routine.  Summer school ended August 12th so we have been cramming in a bunch of doctor appointments between summer school and the start of the regular school year on September 6th.  Tomorrow, though, is one of my favorite days of the entire year, and has been even since I was a little kids.  Tomorrow is FAIR DAY!!!  Since before I was born, our family has gone to the Washington County Fair on Thursday which is Children's day.  We still meet up with my cousins and their kids, and we experience all the joys of the agricultural fair.  Though I do not live in Washington County but it is still the fair we have always gone to.  I did miss probably 7 out of my 37 years (I went as a baby before I was 1 and as I will be 37 in October, that makes 37 years of fair going counting tomorrow).  It is not always easy when I was living out of state or if my college classes started prior to the fair date.  But the past few years I have been able to take the kids to the fair and enjoy watching them share in this family tradition.  Maybe someday we will have chickens or rabbits or sheep that we can actually show at the fair, when we get tot he point that we have a farm of our own. 

So, I feel a bit like a kid again as I am getting ready for the fair tomorrow. I have figured out a way to carry J's walker on his stroller so that can switch back and forth between the two easily.  This will be the first year we take his walker as previously he has not been very adept at using it, but now he truly walks with it, so it should be fun for him. I will have to take pics to post them.  Cows, chickens, rabbits, sheep, goats, piggies, turkeys, geese, ducks, chickens, chickens, chickens (not much has changed my favorite building at the fair is the poultry and rabbit house, where they have the most amazing display of rabbits, geese, turkeys, ducks guessed it...CHICKENS!!!!  I love chickens.  I have actually been working on repairing the old coop at my dad's house and getting a little brooder ready.  I may not be able to have chickens at home (as I rent an apartment) but I CAN have them at my dad's house.  So I have the stuff ready and am going to see if anyone is selling chicks at the fair.  If not I will mail order some with my next check.  Anyway, I am so excited about chickens, AND I am packing ear plugs for the kids as both of them have sensory issues with sound and the poultry house is LOUD, as well as the loud midway....The Fair....we're going to the fair....:)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Blood draws, X-rays, and brethalyzers...oh my!

So today was Gonzo's appointment with the endocrinologist.  I had forewarned him that he may have to have blood taken for testing.  his response was "all of it?!?!  How will I stand up!?!" to which I assured him that they only take a little bit and that his body will be able to make more.  So he was a little freaked out going into the appointment.  The endocrinologist was very personable, and if we end up needing to continue with her, I think it will be a good match.  Having doctors that you feel comfortable is imperative to proper health care.  I am hoping all of the tests come out fine and we don't have any more treatment needed, but at least it is good to know that you like the specialist.  So after the appointment, the doctor felt that testing was warranted, so Gonz DID have to have his blood drawn and she wanted an bone age density test done, which is an x-ray.  So as usually, anything having to do with needles is difficult for Gonz, so it was myself plus two nurses who needed to hang on to him and get the blood draw.  Poor little guy was just in such a panic.  But he is a trooper and came out okay.  He was still asking if his body will make more blood, and I reassured him that it was already making more to replace the little bit they took to test. 

After the blood draw, we went down to the radiology department, and had a quick x-ray of his hand.  He was still so upset from the blood testing that he could not remember his birthday when asked, and he asked me for help with it.  I love this boy so much, and my heart just goes out to him when he gets himself in such a high anxiety state.  It was an uneventful x-ray and we headed out to pick up Jos and go home (Jos was at my sister's house being watched by my two nieces with his other two cousins).  We were going to stop for lunch right away, but Gonz was so overwhelmed that by the time we got out of the hospital parking lot and on the right road, he was fast asleep. 

So I hopped on the highway and we stopped about an hour later when we were closer to home and had lunch at Friendly's--his favorite spot.  After lunch we drove the next 45 minutes and picked up Jos.  We did hang out for a bit with the cousins, but needed to get home to make dinner. Jos appeared to have fun with his cousins, though he did through one of his fits and scratched them when it was time to stop doing something he did not want to stop doing--when do they outgrow this tantrum phase?!?

Anyway, we got home, I put chicken in the oven, Jos took a short nap, and Gonz and I played and chatted for a bit.  I ran a couple of loads of laundry through, and packed up my broken computer to send to my friend who lives near the place that can repair it.  Then A came over after getting back from work.  And A had a ticket for no seat belt.  A proceeded to tell me it could have been a lot worse, as the cop asked "have you been drinking?" and asked about open containers (as in open alcohol containers).  A says it was because there was a bag of empty beer can on the passenger side floor that needed to be returned, but I am not buying it.  A's inspection is also way out of date and A has a tail light out.  So, yes it could have been worse (depending how you look at it).  A said the cop did do a breathalyzer test, which A passed.  And the cop only issues a ticket for lack of seat belt.  But my question is multi fold--why are there multiple containers (empty beer cans) enough to fill up three bags on the passenger seat and floor?  Why would the cop question A about drinking unless A's breath smelled like alcohol? and why would the cop run a breathalyzer if all the empties were at least 2 weeks old (when A claims to have stopped drinking).  Of course I did not voice all of this, as I am trying so hard to be supportive of A's new start to life.

But I am going out of my skull with A.  Both last night and tonight, we were talking along, and A said something that annoyed me, so I responded in an annoyed way.  And A launched into an all out bitch fest about how I am always implying that I am smarter or better, and that A is an idiot.  About how mean and rude I am and how A was in a good mood until coming to my house.  (which I have to say both evenings I was in a very good mood before A arrived as well).  And the tirade continued and continued.  Last night I got sucked into it and we argued for a while about NOTHING.  I apologised both evenings for hurting A's feelings and tried to explain that I was in no way saying that A was an idiot, I just did not agree with what A said.  Tonight I apologised for hurting A's feelings and tried for a few moments to explain why I was exasperated, but it was no use.  Once A gets mad, there is no turning it around.  Even if I accept the full blame and accept what A is saying about me and how what I said brought out bad feelings, A still won't stop.  A kept going on and on about how "for 7 years you have talked down to me and treated me like an idiot" and how "I am not going to take it anymore, what you say is abusive, just abusive".  Especially when I ask A to consider how much I have bent over backwards to be supportive and helpful and how much of an enabler I have turned out to be.  To which of course A starts in about how I have to rub that in, about how me and my family "came to the rescue" and how we "have had to help poor A"  and how horrible we are for it.  I am sick of it.

The way it started tonight was this:  A asked how a friend of mine was doing that is going through the end of a 15 year marriage.  And I had said that all in all my friend was doing okay, moving forward, and putting life back together.  A's response was "how can she be OKAY in just 6 weeks after 15 years of marriage?!?!" in a really snotty voice.  So I responded in my own snotty and exasperated voice "What the heck to  think okay means A?!?  She is doing okay for the circumstances!"  To which A replied "I am not even going to respond to that again, that put down.  You are NOT calling me stupid again tonight.  I am not going to respond."  and then for the next 45 minutes continued to harangue me about how I am always saying mean things and ruining a perfectly good evening, and all sorts of other crap.  (I know, I am whining and repeating myself--but that is how my last two evenings have gone.)  Tonight I tried to talk it through and accept blame and apologise if what I said and how I said it were upsetting.  But on and on it came, and that's when I mentioned that I have been trying to be supportive and helpful which did not jive with what A was saying, but that just made things worse.  I asked A to leave if it was so hard, and A refused.  So I ddisengaged myself from the insanity and started doing the dishes.  I told A that I was not going to discuss things like this in front of the kids.  IT upsets them as  much as it upsets us.  We were not yelling at each other or anything, or even talking in raised voices, but you can feel the tension in the air and kids are bright and know that we are not happy with each other. And we were obviously not saying "nice" things to each other.

Finally A decided that by ignoring or barely entering the "conversation" that this was being abusive as well, and finally A left, after giving the kids a hug and kiss and telling them that it was my fault and on me that this argument started.  I sat down with the kids and apologized again for their parents arguing, and not treating each other with respect.  I made THEM the promise that I would try harder to not say things that might upset or accidentally hurt A's feelings.  We chilled out snuggled in the chair together watching the iron man cartoon, and they relaxed and started being chatty again after about 10 minutes.  Then we got ready for bed, and they had some trouble falling asleep, but in the end it was alright.  I need A out of my house.  I need A to find an apartment, move out of my father's home, and stop "living" at my house (A sleeps at my father's but does everything else here --showers, leaves dirty clothes int eh hamper for stupid me to wash and fold, eats meals here, uses the phone here, checks email and other computer stuff here, is here whether I am or not, is here whether the kids are or not--essentially lives here).   I am to the point of feeling like if I never saw A's face again, it would be too soon.  I am praying for a miracle, praying for relief, praying that God will do something with this situation.  Short of calling the police when A refuses to leave or calling the courts and telling them that A is still drinking and has no place to take the kids when it is visitation time and so is ALWAYS at my house, I am not sure what to do. I am afraid of how going back to court would impact the kids, as it can be so stressful. I am blatantly honest about how I feel about a lot of things, which A then says is abusive.  I am not beating around the bush.  And I am such a push around that I would rather do things like wash clothes and deal with A's crap then be told I am a horrible person.  But this situation is making me BECOME a horrible person.  I don't even know myself anymore, and to think, this time last year I was finally getting to know myself again.  I wish A had never moved back up here in January.  Those 7 months without A (even though I met half way with the boys every other weekend (when A could take them, so not as often) and talked to A on the phone almost every night when A called to say hi to the boys), I was able to breathe.  I want to be able to breathe again..

The entrapment of alcoholism does not just enslave the alcoholic, it ensnares everyone who cares about the alcoholic and holds them prisoner, until, like the alcoholic, they can find a way to let go and walk away from those tangled vines.  I feel like I am still in the thick of the vines, and to get out maybe I have to do the one thing that will take the last part of the gentle, kind person I used to be away.  Maybe I need to hack the vines off, hurting the plant from which they spring.  But would I still be me if I did that?  Why is it that the idea of hurting A by pulling the plug and not helping makes me feel like I would lose the last shred of the me I used to be--the me that was gentle and kind, loving and compassionate, the good person that A fell in love with.  I feel like taking that last step to destroy the tangle of vines around me would not only destroy the one from which they emanate but would also destroy the last part of me worth saving?  What good would I be to my children if I no longer had that last bit of core kindness and gentleness towards their other parent?  What kind of example would that be setting for them?  And what kind of example am I setting for them now?  In some ways I am angry at God right now for NOT having that cop today give A a ticket for drinking while driving--not the intoxication ticket as obviously A passed the breathalyzer, but the open container, and such, something to give A the kick in the pants needed to take REAL steps towards recovery.  But it is never that easy is it....

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Summer Break...Finally

Well,  one of the interesting thing about raising children with special needs, is that sometimes they have extra things, like six weeks of summer school to keep them on track academically, behaviorally, and with their therapies.  Which means a much shorter summer break for them.  Friday was their last day of school, and on Sunday we headed out to visit A's family.  A's sister recently bought a cottage on the shores of Lake Ontario.  We did see it soon after they bought it, but they were in the process of giving it a lot of the TLC it needed, so it was in disarray and under construction projects to repair and rehab it.  Now it is mostly done (the bathroom is in rehab still, but functional) and we spend Sunday night out there.  I have never spent any time at the Great Lakes, but wow is it similar to the ocean in sound.  The cottage is on a rocky shore, so the waves lapping the rocks reminded me (in sound) to one of my all time favorite places in the world--Bass Rocks in Gloucester, MA. 

Though the waves are smaller, they were still impressive for a lake, a lake you can not see the other side of.  It was beautiful.  However it was a rainy weekend, and the storms from Sunday had the lake very choppy, so it was not really safe to take a swim at such a rocky shore, so the kids did not get to go with with their life jackets.  But we did go down the steps and put our feet in the water sitting on the rocks, we got splashed quite a bit too as the waves sent up a lot of spray.  The kids (and we) enjoyed the deck area overlooking the lake, and some of the waves were big enough to splash us even up there.  hat night, with the windows open, we could clearly listen to the waves, and it was wonderful.  As many similarities as there are to the ocean front, there are as many differences.  It smelled like a lake, and felt like a lake.  As absolutely beautiful as it is, it made me long for my great love--the North Atlantic. 

I found myself longing for the smell of the sea, the call of the gulls, and the "feel" of the ocean.  I miss the ocean, and have for the past 11 1/2 years, as I have only visited.  Even when I lived in Florida, it was the Gulf of Mexico, and though I loved snorkeling and swimming in that warm salty water, I loved even more the idea that the water I was in would eventually reach the North Atlantic, so I felt connected, even in that warm Gulf to the cold shores so many miles away.  I had hoped to take the kids camping this summer out on the North Shore, but alas it appears funds may be inadequate to do that.  Winter is approaching, and my primary source of income has ended.  Summer is winding down (and we are finally in a 3 week of vacation time), and so the window of opportunity is closing.  We have soem other daystuff planned, and may camp out on my Dad's property for a couple of days.  Had my IRS refund come in time, that little inexpensive vacation to Massachusettes would have been one of the things on the list that the refund would go to.  But with this darn audit review, only God know when they will release my refund.

The kids did have fun, and we got to see the baby's (both of A's niece's have little ones now).  We also got to celebrate some of the August birthdays as in addition to Josiah, A's niece S and her daughter M (who is celebrating her 1st birthday!!) are also in August.  So we did a combined birthday cook out at the cottage and had salt potatoes, corn on the cob, hot dogs and hamburgers, and of course cake.  Then Josiah opened a bunch of present from A's family, and we gave our gifts to the others. We finally got to actually meet A's other niece's little son, who is a couple of months old.  He is a beautiful baby.  A said it feels weird to have a new generation starting in the family. I imagine it does, but since A is nearer to my parents age than to mine, it makes sense that they would have the next generation coming up.  Overall it was a very nice visit.  I originally asked A to go without me, but a is nervous about the new job which is starting today, and so did not think that with that stress, could handle the boys alone all weekend in that trip.  So I went too.  It was good to see A's family, though they seem to be under the impression that we are still together, or at least just barely separated.  Perhaps most people think that, as I suppose we appear to be that way, it is hard to let go, and it is hard to find the balance that allow a friendship without being an enabler.  I think we are getting closer, and that it is finally understood between the two of us that friendship is our aim, not reconciliation.

A started the new job today.  I am an optimistic person, but with so many job losses over the past couple of years, it is hard to think that maybe, just maybe, this job will be here to stay and A can get an apartment, move out of my father's house, and actually begin to be self-supporting, have time alone with the kids without me arranging it, and be able to rebuild a life.  We can all hope and pray.  Especially since I am seriously considering moving in with my father as finding a source of income (i.e. a job that works with my children's special needs or enough income generating from writing, blogging, and online clicks/sales) is proving to take a great deal longer than I expected or can really plan for.  The economy is making this harder than expected.  So the possibility of moving in with my father (who has a 5 bedroom house and heats with wood, and only he and my brother live there usually, so there are extra rooms) is a distinct possibility--as long as A moves out (the old "I'll only be there for a month, two tops" thing A said back in January is a little crazy given that it is nearly 8 months...).  But that is just where we are...things to think about...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Interesting thinking and planning

Josiah was so excited about his birthday.  He is such an amazing little guy.  He is happy to be five years old, he is a big boy now! 

It has been an interesting couple of days aside from his birthday.  A was over (nothing new there, I really hope this job works out and A gets an apartment, and I can have my life back a little more).  A talked to the "first love" from high school.  That first love, who broke A's heart 30 years ago, talked with A about some of the issues that she dealt with back then.  And A finally gets why I say that when I drinks, i makes me fearful.  Finally someone else confirmed to A that A DOES throw things in my direction when angry (which I have told A many times and A has denied doing).  A finally is accepting that aggression, anger, and then depression are trademarks of what happens when A drinks.  A's first love is recently in recovery and was encouraging A to get into recovery.  A is down to 4 beers a day in an effort to quit drinking before the new job starts next week, which is a good idea.  The joys of detox are not fun, so I have a feeling A will be grumpy (and shaky) the next few days.  This is the third day of only 4 beers, and A was not shaking last night.  Now to drop down to 2-3 beers a day for a couple of days, and so on.  So hopefully A will be successful in moving forward.  A is excited about this prospect and so am I.  I know that A can do it, and can make choices that will lead to a good, healthy life.  A just needs to believe it, and to have the self worth to accept it.

Speaking of healthy lives, I have been doing what I do best--studying and researching (yes with some documentaries like "Fat Head" and books and research papers) a wide array of ideas and perspectives on health (implementing knowledge is my problem, I have a great deal of ability to amass knowledge, its the actual using of that knowledge that I seem to be slow on).  Anyway,  I have been compiling a list of things that I would like to implement for MY life to increase my overall health, most of which I have been working on transiting to, though keeping specific activities up for a long enough period to truly replace bad habits with good has been a challenge, as it is so easy to slip back into bad, long standing habits.  But I have been returning again and again to new habits, and each day, it is a little easier, and I know that each time I make a good choice rather than a bad choice, my life is moving in a good direction, a positive direction.

So these are my goals (rules) to live by for a healthier, better life (assumes 4 meals/day B, L, D, S=28m/w):
-Eat 2000 calories a day or less
-Eat 120 grams of carbohydrate or less per day (as per diabetes educator rec), at least 1/4 of which from fresh veggies
-Eat 35 grams of fiber or more a day
-Eat 150 grams of protein or more per day (at least 1/4 from vegetable protein)
-Eat 90 grams of fat or more per day (at least 10g of saturated veg fat (yes saturated, yes from plants))
-Eat at least 3 grams of Spirulina per day (max 20 grams)
-Eat at least 2 servings of Leafy Greens per day (can be in a smoothie)
-Eat Legumes at least 5 meals a week
-Eat Fish at least 3 meals a week
-Eat Oatmeal at least 5 meals a week
-Eat Eggs at least 3 meals a week
-Reduce sugar intake to less than 30 grams/day (incl. table sugar, candy, and sugars IN foods)
-Reduce ALL commercially processed foods to less than 3 meals a week (incl. RTE cereal, box food, sausage and other processed meats, etc...)
-Walk at least 1 mile per day at least 5 days per week
-Add in Strength or tension training for muscles 3 times a week
-Meditate and/or pray for 20 or more minutes a day (can be broken down into 5 min segments)
-6 "Free Pass" days a year where anything, any food, any calories, anything goes...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My baby is 5 tomorrow--8/8

Today we had a family birthday party for Josiah at my mom's house, with my most of my family.  Josiah was in his glory, he loves birthdays and he loves to be the center of attention, so for him it was like heaven.  He wanted a fish cake, so I did my best to make a cake shaped like a fish.  It came out alright, not great, but it was definitely a fish, and he was happy.  My mom has pics on her camera and I will post them when she emails them to me. 

I was not there the day he was born, and his arrival was not heralded with fanfare and joy.  His birth was very early and traumatic, and was to an overwhelmed young mother who already had 5 boys at the age of 25, who had sought to abort him just two short weeks before only to be told she was too far along.  He had so many issues with his early birth, and so few supports and so few people looking out for him. He was born at 28 weeks, 12 weeks too early and had many, many complications.  My sister had twins at 30 weeks, who had a large family there to love and support them, visit them, pray for them, hold them, love them....Josiah had no one but the hospital staff.  His mother signed him over to the adoption agency right away, and the social worker visited him once when the papers were signed, and entrusted his care to the hospital.  I just think about how difficult life was for the twins during that early time, when life and earth were so close to each other in such a young little body, and how they had the energy of love and family as well as the support of the hospital to help them through.  And they had many fewer issues than Josiah did (they are 13years old now and both amazing kids, with no complications (aside from my niece's eye problem with one eye that has done what Josiah's eye is doing). 

I look at this amazing little boy, and realize how absolutely blessed I am to have become his parent.  He is my joy, my heart beat, my purpose....I sometimes feel like I was entrusted with one of the greatest gifts that God has ever put on this earth when I look at this child, and God trusted ME enough to take responsibility for protecting him, teaching him, raising him....Does everyone feel that way about their child?  This old soul in a broken body with a tremendous spirit was entrusted to me, and he has become my purpose for being.  So many days I feel like God created me specifically for this--to bring this gift up into adulthood, to guard and protect him, to love and cherish him, and to help him find his way.  There are many other things I had done in my life and many things I will do after Josiah is grown, but I fell in my heart of hearts, that this boy is one of my primary purposes for existing. 

I haven't shared that with many people, mainly because I think some would come running with the white coats and calling for padded rooms.  Other would think I was just plain nuts (rather  than of the padded room variety nuts), and still others may think I am over dramatic, or putting too much emphasis on my son, or thinking too much of myself, or whatever.  So normally I keep these thoughts to myself, but today, I decided to share them, and share them publicly no less.  Because I am so proud that my son is 5 years old tomorrow.  In a few months we will celebrate the first time I met him as a tiny baby ready to be released from the hospital after 2 1/2 months, then I will remember the absolute hell and terror those first few months with him, and all of the amazing people that showed their love and support, including my dear friend and Reverend Jacquie, who drove an hour and a half to the hospital to baptize him in the middle of the night when we were not sure he would make it through the night (about 10 days after he came home), and my mother and Jim, and A's mother and sister who all came that same night each driving over 3 hours through the middle of the night to be there with us.

But little man is going to be five tomorrow, and what an amazing boy he is....
(my niece Savanna took this pic of him tonight at my mom's house.  It is a silly picture and I love his one eyebrow raised looked...)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Asking again for prayers for two special kids...

I am reposting an old post from March or April about both Micheal and Haven, as I am still praying for them and ask you to join me. 
I have been assigned as their Prayer Warrior through Reece's Rainbow.  So I am committed to praying for them until they have a committed family.  Please join in in sending your prayers and your good will out to them and to potential families who may be a good match for them.  And if you know anyone contemplating adoption, especially adoption of a child with special needs, please share Reeces Rainbow with them.  Even if they do not adopt a child listed there, the information, community, and connections with other parents adopting kids with special needs is incredible and a great Gift from God.
Here is Michael D.:

He is in Russia and he looks very well taken care of at the orphanage.  Please pray that he is adopted before he is transferred to an institution as he is 5 years old, where in Russia he will then be unadoptable.  If he has a committed family before (or very near) his 5th birthday, they can keep him at the orphanage while the necessary process is underway.  He is running out of time...
Info from RR: Michael D.
Date of Birth: June 2006
Gender: Male
Eyes: Gray
Hair: brown
Character: calm
And this is Haven, and her info from RR: 
"Girl, Born March 2006
Poor Haven……sweet little girl.   Such a pretty girl burdened with such medical and cognitive difficulties….and no mama to love her through them.
From her medical records:  celiac disease, CP, toxic Hepatitis, hypotrophy of III stage
From our team who visited there: Haven is afraid of strangers and would not interact with us :( "

I am not sure which country she is in, though most EE countries transfer to institutions at the age of 5.  It appears she is NOT in Russia, so even if she is transferred, it might still be possible for her to be adopted.  However, medical care at the institutions tend to be very poor, and often over 50% of kids transferred do not survive their first year.  With her medical issues, an institutional life will be a short one.  So pray that a family steps forward for her soon.

For those of you who do not know, Reece's Rainbow is an absolutely amazing organization that helps connect people seeking children with waiting children who have special needs.  It also helps raise funds for adoption for both waiting children and for families.  Additionally (this is the greatest of all) they are working in various countries to help establish supports and groups for people who WANT to keep their children.  It is truly an inspired and amazing group that is addressing the issues from multiple fronts. I have been following the founder since the very beginning of Reece's Rainbow back in 2005--before there was even a website.  Many children with special needs in foreign countries are institutionalized at a very young age for even minor special needs, and given no education, no chance to become active, functioning members of society.  Like the US used to do 30-40 years ago, until it was finally realized that people with special needs, given the right supports from early on, can often go on to live full, functional lives--have jobs, friends, and even families of their own.  By institutionalizing them, it takes away not only the life they could have, but also puts a high burden on the government to care for people, many of whom could care for themselves if they were taught to during their early years.  Or if they have families, the families and friends can and do help with care that is needed if the person can not care for themselves.   There is very little need for institutions, as even residence facilities provide a better quality of care and provide more opportunity for people with disabilities to experience life and contribute to the community by being part of it.  So, I advocate for the adoption of children with special needs (hence the two amazing little boogers I have (who in a foreign country would be institutionalized (well J with his medical issues would probably not have survived his first six months)).  And I advocate for as much inclusion as is possible for both children and adults with special needs (and I do mean possible, as my dear G is not able to function well in a mainstream inclusive classroom, and thus has less inclusion than I like, but only as it is necessary for his success and the success of those around him).  When my mother started working at the residences, she would always invite one of two of the residents to join us for BBQ's, holiday meals, etc...  They are people too, and can contribute to life (maybe in a different way than most are used to) and deserve to be treated with respect. 

Oh, and a note on why an International Downs Syndrome (and other special needs) Adoption group?  Why not focus on the USA?  Well, both of my kids ARE from the US, and I do pray for kids who are waiting in the US, as there is a high need EVERYWHERE for children without families to be adopted.  So I choose to advocate for both--I am not nationalistic in my desire to care for the orphans of the world, all people, no matter where they were born, deserve to know the love of a family (even when that family is not perfect (as long as it is not abusive), it is still better than not having one).  The first goal should be to keep familes together whenever possible (employing supports rather than punishments to fascilitate that), and when not possible, to get the child into a permanent family as soon a possible.  I have qualms about both the insititutional model of raising kids who for whatever reason are no longer with their familes, and I have issues with the way foster care and adoption are run in  our own country.  But I understand the necessity of both, and until other solutions are in place, they are the systems that we all must work with to ensure that families and children can find the safest and most potential supporting way to live.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Updated my other blog

Hi all,

I just wanted you to know I update my gratitude blog (the one on my website) today.  Both the website and the blog have been a bit neglected this summer, but as I posted there instead of here today, I thought I would let you all know.  That blog is specifically about the topic of gratitude, which is a big part of the Transformation journey.  So while this blog is more robust and covers all sort of things--both interesting and mundane, on a wide range of topics and thoughts that cross my mind, and is sometimes too personal (I know I probably need to filter a little better)--that blog focuses on the topic of daily gratitude (and I am moving towards making it a daily posting, but right now it is still posted to erratically).  I will be spending some time in the next month dealing with some glitches and trying to update my website to make it more useful and user friendly.  So it is a work in progress.

If you want to check out the Gratitude blog, click here:

If you just want to check out the website (which you can access from the blog too), click here:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Forming habits....breaking habits

Well, so....

My son says that all the time "well, so...."  and I think I have mentioned this before, but I had wondered for a long time where he got it from.  Then one day I caught myself saying it and realized that I say it ALL THE TIME without even realizing it.  I have also realized that I type it often without realizing it.  I am not even sure I think about it in terms of context or anything else.  It is just something that I say unconsciously.  Funny the way the mind works....

Anyway, SO....Habits!

Habits are so much a part of life that we tend to not even think about them until we are trying about to change something in our lives.  Nearly everything we do in our basic, daily living routine is done by habit.  That nice repetitive way we make our choices and structure our day.  Even our interactions with our family, friends, and co-workers are based on habitual behavior and thought patterns.  From what we eat or drink to what time we leave for work (are you always running late too?--its habit), to what clothes we wear, when we call our mother, and what we think about the weather.

According to the HABIT is "Definition: The usual condition or state of a person or thing, either natural or acquired, regarded as something had, possessed, and firmly retained; as, a religious habit; his habit is morose; elms have a spreading habit; esp., physical temperament or constitution; as, a full habit of body. "

According to the World English Dictionary Habitat is "the environment in which an animal or plant lives or grows; and the place in which a person, group, class, etc... is normally found."

Habits, the unconscious patterns that give each of us our individual habitat....Because it is by our habits that we end up where we are usually found.

So, why all this talk about habits--well, as we all know losing weight (or any other major transformation) required we make changes in the way we do things--the way we eat, the way we use our body, the patterns of our sleeping, etc...  And for that change to truly be a lasting change and thus a transformation, it has to be a change in the habits of our thought patterns as well as our actions.  If you only change the actions but the underlying thought patterns have not changed, it will not last.  For example, if you want to lose weight and you go on, say the Atkins diet, doing low carb everything, follow the plan exactly as written and get down to your ideal weight, even if it takes many months.  Well that is a great accomplishment.  But if your underlying conscious and subconscious thought habits still think about food in the same way you did prior to starting the Atkins, you are going to eventually move back into your old eating patterns (say you still believe, even after Atkins, that you need a particular amount of grains in your regular diet as depicted by the food pyramid) then you will move back into eating a more habitual, grain heavy diet and slowly build back into the same situation you were in, or find yourself battling against the return of the weight instead of enjoying your new, healthier body with new habits and new habitual ways of thinking.  It is why "dieting" is only marginally successful.  You see it all the time, people lose the weight on this diet or that diet, only to gain it back a few months or years later.  I think the major reason for this is NOT that the person had no will power or what have you, but rather that the basic underlying habits in thought did not change while the conscious actions of the body were changing.

I find this in myself as I am trying to create new habits.  They say it takes 21 days to create a new habit, others say it takes doing something around 21 times over a 40 day period to create a habitual change in action.  I believe that it is possible that both of these are true.  There is something about that three week mark when doing something diffrent that it starts to really click and become part of you.  I remember a sermon at chapel in college once that talked about praying the same prayer (a 3-6 word, succinct prayer) every day for 30 days, and how you could literally see the steps that were making that prayer come true unfold before you.  It is the consistency of thought and focus that brings God's power and your awareness together so that you can open your eyes and see it.  It is the change in the habit of your thoughts and spirit that facilitate that.  The teaching in the Law of Attraction ideas are based on the observation that the more you focus on it, the more it comes into being for you.

So....I have found that after over 10 days of a vegetable, fruit, and algae smoothie a day (which I loved), I had a couple of days where I got up late and did not have time to make it, and low and behold I have dropped right back into my old habit which does not include a morning smoothie.  Even though I LOVED the smoothie and have on occasion made one in the afternoon, that habit I had started building of getting up early and making a fresh green smoothie to take on the road with me has not become a habit.  So I need to get into the commitment and motivate myself to overcome the habitual patterns that make me NOT get up and make a smoothie in the morning.  This transition time is a time which requires persistence, motivation, and the brute force effort of will power to overcome those ingrained habits and replace them with habits that I WANT for my life...both externally and internally.

The smoothies is just one example, but my other eating habit changes are definitely still in a great deal of flux and I find it easy to slip back into old patterns rather than push forward in forging new ones. So it is time to redouble my efforts.  What I really realize though is how much our HABITS dictate what our eventual HABITAT becomes. 

So often I have heard people say "i don't know how my life got to where it is today."  Sometimes they have a great life and are looking at it in awe going "how'd I get here?!"  and it is a sense of wondering and joy.  More often though, a person is looking at crap in their lives and where they have ended up and is wondering the same question "how'd I get here?!?" 

Baring major natural disasters (earthquakes, floods, volcanic eruptions, government screw ups...) or sudden traumatic personal/familial events (war, sudden death, fast developing medical conditions, arrival of a child with special needs, major accident with serious injury, house fire, running out of checks....), most people, if we are really honest with ourselves, can look at what our habits are and see how they led us to the habitat we find ourselves in.  Whether we meant to end up there or not and whether or not we were aware of how our own actions and ideas brought about subtle changes in our lives which led to where we are today, very often we find ourselves where we are because of unconscious habits of thought and action.  For example, if I am always thinking about how a particular person is going to impact my life, and keep expecting that this is what is going to happen when I see this person, stressing about it and focusing on it, that is what will happen, in part because I react to that person as though it has already happened. This perpetuates a reaction from them that validates my original thinking, which makes me react in a predictable manner, which in turn brings more of what i did NOT want, but because I focused on it and reacted to life in a way that would make it real, it then became real. 

I am in debt far higher than I can pay right now.  And you could say that it happened because of J's medical issues and the issues with his insurance during the first few months he was with us, and that would, in part be true.  There were a LOT of medical bills that we were not prepared for and there was a major paperwork snafu which lead to him not getting the secondary insurance he should have had from the get go, that he didn't get until 5 months later.  Thus leaving a lot of unpaid medical bills in the meantime.  And the fact that his issues and needs really required one of us to be home with him full time (after we tried a handful of other options, so it was a good 7 months after he arrived before I resigned from my job).  So the loss of income combined with the medical bills could fall under the acceptable "out of my hands/control" situation.  Except for the fact that a good deal of the debt I am dealing with was incurred prior to his arrival.  Yes it was incurred at a time when we had the income level that could make the payments and everything, but it was that whole "living the American dream" on credit as so many of us do.  So when disaster DID strike in the form of Josiah (whom is a bomb I would welcome at any time and place and do all over again even though the next year and a half were a blurry hell filled with pockets of intense joy and light.  He is my bomb that became a balm.) it landed on a lot of ammunition creating a bigger impact.

It was not Josiah's medical and paperwork issues that created the primary debt problem I am still dealing with.  It was not even leaving my job that created it.  It was the fact that we had been living on the economic edge prior to his surprising arrival in our lives, with our credit near the max and
 having depleted our savings and resources on two adoptions (Rustam who never came home, and Gonzo's whose legal battle gave us the second mortgage on the house), we were unable to handle such an impact on our lives.  BUT we were unaware of that at the time, and continued in our habits.  If things had gone just a little different, the impact would have been different.  If J's paperwork had been in order, he would have had secondary insurance from the get go and those first three months of emergency room runs, major brain surgery, and long stays in the ICU would have been covered.  If A had not resigned two weeks into J's hospital stays (without discussing it with me), our income might have been more stable some issues might not have  occurred.  If we had found a nanny capable of handling J and G's issues (like a nurse or something) things might have been different.  IF......if.......if.......

But it was our habitual thought patterns--X has to happen, Y is the way things should be, Z is how you  handle ABC, and if you need more money, just borrow it, we can always pay it back later when things calm down.......(famous last thoughts.....)

My life is the way it is in so many areas because of the way that my habits and my conscious and subconscious thought patterns and beliefs have been.  Yes, things happen in life we have no or very little control over, but we DO have control over how we react, and if we are not working very hard on changing our lives to be better, we react out of habit, and keep bringing ourselves into the same habitat.  It is where we expect to be, and where others expect to find us.  our habits create our habitat.  To truly change our lives, to transform my life, to get into a new habitat, i need to change my habits at their core, that the subconscious and conscious levels of thought in addition to action....

It's a long road.....but a road none the less, and if I run out of road I can bushwhack a trail if I need to.  Transformation appears to be a slow process....

Monday, August 1, 2011

Amazing Blessings--Improptu kid-free weekend and Old Friends

So, a very dear friend of mine is going through a difficult time right now.  She is my best friend in fact and we have known each other since we were freshmen in college a mere 19 years ago.  I was maid of honor at her wedding 15 years ago, she was matron of honor at my ceremony 7 years ago, we have been through thick and thin together, and have been anchors in each others lives for these long years, whether we lived in the same house, in the next town over, or over 250 miles apart.  She is going through the breakdown of her marriage, and this past weekend was moving from the apartment she and her husband have shared for 6 years to move into the little one bedroom in-law apartment in her parents basement.  This, as you can imagine is a very hard move, as the processes involved in the ending of a marriage are all very painful and require a lot of changes, both inside and outside of a person.  So, I really wanted to be there to support her in this move and help her move both her possessions and her emotions into this new situation.

However I did not think it would be possible, as taking the kids with me would not be helpful to anyone, even if they were neuro-typical children, small children visiting from 6 hours away is just not going to help with the physical act of moving or with the emotional transitions taking place.  And with the difficulties between A and I last week, A had said NO to watching the kids so that I could go do that (originally A had said yes, but then all hell broke loose when I made the decision to say what I said and A backed out).  Then at the last minute on Friday late morning, A agreed to keep the kids and stay at my house with them for the weekend so that I could go help my friend.  This was difficult as A really has not had the kids solo very much in the past 9 months, and for a solid 48 hours at that.  But I was glad that A was ready to have some one-on-two alone time with the boys, as that is important for their relationship to not always have mama there.

So, as I had not prepared for the trip and was in GF waiting for the boys to be done with school, I cleaned the car out at the car wash (vacuumed and wiped down the inside (a stick mess it was, and more cereal in all the nooks and crannies than I can to admit)), got the oil changed (and they discovered an old squirrels nest in the air filter system, so I had them change both air filters (engine and cabin)), got a free car wash (part of the oil change package--yeah Jiffy Lube and Hoffman's), and then picked up the boys.  It meant driving an hour in the "wrong" direction to take them home, got them settled, packed my car, made my green smoothies for the ride, made a sandwich, waited for A to be ready (A had errands to run too and forgot to get cigs, so ran out at the last minute to get cigs--I'm so glad I quit smoking so many years ago), and finally at about 5:45pm, unbeknownst to my dear friend, I hit the road for the Boston area.  By the time it was around 10:00pm, I figured I should call my friend and let her know I was coming.  She did not answer so I just left a message telling her to call me on my cell phone (which means I was not within 30 minutes of home as I live in an area where cell phones don't work anywhere nearby).  So as I am getting off the exit that is only 5 minutes from her house (around 11:00pm) she returns my call and asks me where on earth I am that I am on the cell.  So I tell her the exit I am getting off.  What a GREAT reaction I got!!!  There is nothing like surprising a friend with your presence.

The move went well, and I actually had the foresight to call another friend of mine from college on Friday when I found out I was going to come, and let her know, as nearly every time I have been in the area she has been out of the area (oddly three times when I was within 30 minutes of her house, she was within 30 minutes of mine--6 hours away).  So I had left her a message telling her about the move, and she was able to come up and help with the move and spend some time with us.  It was the third time I have seen her in 7 years, so it was wonderful to catch up with her and for both of us to help my dear friend. 

On Sunday, my friend that I was visiting had to work in the morning instead of her normal routine of going to church (her farm (she is a therapeutic (and regular) riding instructor) had a horse show and some of her students were in it).  Her mother invited me to attend church with her, but I decided that it would be an opportune time to go to services at my old church, where I had attended when I was in college, as it was only a couple of towns over.  I am so blessed to have been able to do that.  I did get lost on the way there as in the years since leaving the area (11 years ago) I somehow forgot exactly how to get there from where I was.  So I missed the Sunday school, as I drove over to my Alma mater, and backtracked from there without any problems.  I arrived early for service and was able to chat with an older gentleman (83 years old now) who had worked at my college and attended this same church when I was there, and so it was great to talkand catch up with him for a bit as I was early for services.  I connected with a couple of other familiar faces during the pre-service time, and was keeping an eye out for one particular couple whom are very near and dear to my heart, that I have not actually seen face to face in over 8 years.  I have kept in touch via email, phone and more recently facebook, but not had in presence time with either of them in a LONG time.  I knew that he was working at the church as the Director of Children's Ministries, so I figured I was bound to find them.  After service, I walked around a bit looking for them (the church has grown from a single church building with a parsonage next door to having multiple buildings, and unbeknownst to me, multiple services at the same time).  As I came around a corner, I saw him come out of a door.  What a huge blessing it was to greet him and give him a big hug (and say hello to their daughter who is now 10!).  He asked if I had seen his wife yet (she and I had many classes and many late nights studying together, as well as a lot of fun times, and I am closer to her than to him, though have known him and cherished him almost as long as I have known and cherished her), and I told him no, so he led me into the other building where she was.  And I got to have the great experience again of the reaction of surprising an old friend with my presence!!!

We had an amazing time reconnecting.  They invited me over for lunch, and even though I really was supposed to be leaving to get back home after church, after we stood there for an hour chatting I decided to accept their invite.  It was absolutely marvelous seeing their home, meeting their new little one who is only 6 months old, re-meeting their oldest who is now 10 and I haven't seen since she was 2, and really talking with them about life and what they have been up to and what I have been up to and all that.  Time of course went way too quickly, and soon it was far past the time that I should have been gone, so I did have to leave.  I am hoping that next month (or rather this month I guess as it is August already isn't it!?!) I can get out there again with the boys this time, after their summer program ends and before the regular school year begins.  Maybe we can go out to the area and camp near the ocean and enjoy a vacation with some more time with old friends stopping by (oddly I did not get the chance to greet my beloved ocean, I was just a couple of miles too far inland, but I was happier to see my human friends than to greet the great sea this time around, though I do miss the ocean). 

Anyway, A was not horribly upset by my later than planned arrival (of course I called after church to let A know I had run into old friends and would be later than planned, and then called after I was on the road as it was even later than the later I thought it would be.)  As it was after 11pm when I arrived home, the kids were well into their slumber.  I had talked to them on the phone before they went to bed and let them know I would kiss them both when they were sleeping as I would be home in the middle of the night.  They did wake up around 4am, and I tucked them in bed again, so that worked.  Then we were up at 6am (well 6:30 I was slow to rise this morning) and got them ready and we drove down for school (just a little late getting there).  I spent some time at the laundry mat and now I am at the library. 

I feel refreshed and renewed, not only by the kid-free weekend (don't all parents need that once in a while!?), but more so by the amazing joy that comes from reconnecting with old friends.  I have not really realized it, but I am actually lonely much of the time--not that pining kind of lonely, but that deep, isolated feeling.  And it is not that I do not have amazing friends, but it is that, as you can see from above, the past few years, I have not had a lot of real, close connections and time with friends.  Part of that is just a natural artifact of raising children, some of it is more drastic than usual because of the isolating factor of raising children with special needs, and part of it is the slow erosion that took place during the harder years with A, which really pushed me further and further away from friends and family.  So, it also does not help that many of my dearest friends live far away from where I am.  Having moved 4 hours from the area I lived for nearly 10 years took me away from those friends, and the dear friends from college are spread out all over the country (many still in the greater Boston area (and all of New England)), but some in California, some in Indiana, some in Florida, some in Alaska...

While right now I know that I need to be near family and that the school situation for the boys is well set up for this year, I can't help toying with the idea (yet again) of moving back to the Boston area someday.  But then I will have the problem that I always have--when I am living near the ocean, I miss the mountains, and when I live in the mountains I miss the ocean.  There are more jobs in the greater Boston area than in the rural area I live, but there are also a LOT more people, and I love the peace, quiet and security of the rural mountain towns. I would be closer to friends--very dear friends, but father from family.  I have gone round and round about this many, many times over the past few years.  I am sure I will go round and round about it many more times.  For now, I am staying where I am, working on getting my health back up to par, working on getting a solid base for my children in their schooling and social development, and working on transforming myself and my life into the person I want to be and the life I want to provide for my children, and if, in the future on or more of those steps brings me back to the Boston area--well then hooray!!!  But until that would be a positive move for all areas of my life and development and the lives and development of my children, we will suffice with visiting there for now.  I do plan to visit a LOT more often than we have been these past few years though.

So good friends and a weekend away is like a breathe of fresh air for the soul.   And I look forward to having a few days on the ocean with the boys in August, and connecting again with those friends whom I have been away from for too long...