Thursday, July 28, 2011

Gs, Journeys, and Junk

I'm so glad to be back on the computer again! My darling children downloaded a game last week onto my laptop. I discovered Sun. night that we were up to 4.8G and we're only allotted 5G a month! Once we went over by just 600 MB and it cost us an extra $100. So, our use on the internet was extremely limited until today when our new billing cycle began.

I visited my friend Jenny today. I mentioned her a year or more ago. She's my friend that gave birth to little Rebekah, with some pretty serious needs. Rebekah has been home since she was six months old, but somehow in the 10 months since then I have just never made it over to visit with them. Of course, I know their lives are very busy with therapists in and out of the home and all the dr's visits and even surgery that's had to happen. Jenny started bringing Rebekah to church in April and my heart has just melted every time I've seen that little girl. She's so obviously handicapped - but so obviously God's creation. Today I got to hold her for the first time and it was wonderful! If it weren't for Ben, I don't think I'd feel quite this tenderness towards those with special needs. And it was good for both Jenny and I to talk. There's just something about talking with someone who's been through the same fires. Sometimes I feel bad, though, that I don't have it more "together" after almost 15 years on this journey. I feel like I'm in a stage of life now where I should be more of an encouragement to moms just starting out on this road. But sometimes I still feel just as needy and heartbroken as I did nearly 15 years ago. I think it's a journey without a destination.

But I found out today in talking with Jenny and the one therapist that happened to be at her house, that little Rebekah and Ben share the same occupational therapist, Brandi. I did not know that. And then someone said - and I can't remember if it was Jenny quoting Brandi, or if it was this lady that was there today from the AEA. Anyway, it was said that if you are going to have a handicapped child in this area, Pleasantville school is the best place for them. I couldn't believe it! Pville is the smallest school in this area. In fact, it's so little that there have been fears that it may close at some point. They graduate about 40 seniors a year. How thankful I am, though, that God lead us to that school - and that it is only 10 min away from our house! Ben starts his transitional schooling next week for 2 hours a day and he is so excited to be going back!

So, then I got home, got on the computer, and haven't been off since. I uploaded July's pictures to Facebook, which took forever since I had a lot from our vacation. I don't upload every picture we take. I know that I have no desire to look through all 16 shots of one kid blowing out birthday candles, like some people post. So I try to choose the best photos of every event and just post those. And this way I can be more choosy about which shots of ME go up! I'm not going to show everything. I had one picture Paul took of David and me at the water park. Actually, it's kind of a cute picture, with his expression and I don't look half-drowned, which is always a plus. But it's a full-body shot of me in my bathing suit! I'm not posting that for the entire world to see - not with my post-csectioned tummy (kangaroo pouch) and too-friendly dimpled thighs. They're neighbors now - my thighs. Used to be they wouldn't have anything to do with each other. Now they like to rub against each other all the time. I wish they would go back to being merely acquaintances.

And I'm blogging now. I was supposed to go to Ladies' Bible study but decided to stay home. I'm tired of running around all the time. I've got to drive over to Indianola several times in the next few days and I just needed a night off. Paul went to Knoxville to an auction. He says he's going to look at an advertised pie safe for me (I found one on vacation that I almost bought, but decided not to) but I think he just wanted an excuse to go. I really don't have room for a pie safe right now, anyway. Once the kitchen gets remodeled, then it would be a different story. Paul says that's going to happen this fall. I told him I want the outside cleaned up first. There's siding pieces and wood and other construction materials laying around as well as many, many metal items that need to be hauled to the salvage yard. I'm just tired of it and he's not starting another mess in here until he gets the first one cleaned up! I think I'm getting cranky. Living in a fixer-upper can do that to a person.

Paul has been a cripple this week. Last Sat. he thought he would be funny and tried to sit on Will. Will pushed back and sent his dad flying into the couch where he heard his ribs go "crunch." He has been in agony every since, although it's finally starting to get a little better. He even had me take him to Urgent Care for x-rays. Nothing was broken, though. He hasn't been able to roll over in bed and he's been living on the pain prescriptions they gave him. But he went to the chiropractor this week, which makes me cringe. I wouldn't want anyone popping on me if I was in that much pain! Paul is starting to seem a little more human now, so I guess the pain is lessening somewhat. I bet it will be a long time before he tries to mess with Will again, though!

I have to admit, I was a little put-out when he injured himself in such a foolish way last week. We finally had a Saturday where he was home all day and could get some work done on the house. And then he wrecked that by getting hurt. But, he did redeem himself by building my bathroom cabinet that day - in between moans, that is. He and Will got it hung up and now I've got a place for towels and blankets. I'm liking it!

David and Sam have come down with summer colds. They're sneezing and dripping snot everywhere - disgusting. Sam keeps asking for "more medicine." Think I'm raising a future drug addict? If they share with me, I am not going to be happy. I don't get sick because I don't have time. Seriously - I don't get sick. I went this whole past winter season without so much as a cold. I think that probably has more to do with all the Vit D I take than anything else. But I don't have time to be down with anything. The last time I was sick like that was the day that Paul, Will, and I had the flu at the same time. Sam was 13 months old and very mobile. He did something with my keys that day and we've never found them since. I don't want to lose anything else, so I can't get sick!

Will had his physical last week. He's healthy - almost 5'11" and weighs 161 lbs. But they called me back to the room and announced to me that Will has a hearing loss. We've known since '07 that he was missing some of the hearing in his left ear and have tried to make him see the importance of limiting his mp3 player use and using ear plugs when hunting, as a result. But they told me he only has 50% hearing in that ear and that he has some loss in his right ear, as well! I was not happy. But, I'm trying not to get too worked up about it - yet. On the 16th of Aug, I'm taking Will to see my ENT. I have a yearly check-up every summer to monitor my hearing situation and they have a professional sound booth there and can more accurately test hearing than a regular dr's office can. Obviously, a person can live with less-than-perfect hearing. I have, my entire life. But the hearing in my right ear has always been very good, which compensated for having none in the left. But as I am getting older, that "good" ear is diminishing and I find myself more and more frustrated with the inability to hear at times. A hearing aide is in my future, but hopefully not for awhile yet. I just have to think that being partially deaf in both ears would be a lot harder than being completely deaf in only one ear, as I am.

Well, the kids at church got a lesson on the birds and the - well, birds - last night, thanks to yours truly. My friend Deb and I ended up taking the school-aged kids down to pray since the regular person didn't show up. So, after we did that, we took the kids outside to play. I noticed a hawk nearby who appeared to be grappling with a bunny. There were tufts of what I thought was fur all over the ground and it looked like quite a struggle had ensued. I gathered all the kids around and instructed them to watch as this was quite educational. So they did. And then all of a sudden, the hawk lifted his prey into the air and I realized it wasn't a bunny, but another bird. Deb and I looked at each other and I exclaimed, "I didn't know they eat their own!" And then the second bird suddenly freed herself and flew off. And that's when it dawned on me - it wasn't a meal that we interrupted. It was something else, entirely! Oh my goodness - Deb and I laughed so hard. Fortunately, most of the kids couldn't figure out what we thought was so funny! I'm surprised I haven't had to field any phone calls after that one!

Well, I had better turn the computer over to the kids so they can spew their germs all over it. Ick! They've been bugging me all afternoon and evening for it. I need to do some picking up around here and then herd the kids to bed. We may get a thunderstorm tonight - I sure hope so. It's been a long, hot summer.

Only one more week and Will will be home for good! Am I normal? I go crazy stuck at home with them for so long that I have to get out and do things by myself from time to time. But when they're gone I miss them like crazy. Maybe I just miss all the stuff he does around here, like changing the garbage and killing the mice! Well, Will tends to have a very "calming" manner to him. I might not miss some of the more excitable ones so much! Give me a chance to find out!

Gotta run. Next week Ben starts school, part-time. Oh, guess I mentioned that already - maybe I'm excited or something! And two weeks from today I'll be in Michigan! I'm so nervous about the whole flying-alone thing that I'm not even looking forward to the trip yet. I need to get over that!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Vacation Report

Ok, this is not the greatest picture of all the boys, but it shows them at one of our favorite stops on our recent vacation - Lambert's Restaurant in Sikesville, Missouri, home of the "throwed rolls."

And by the way, "vacation" is a misnomer. There was nothing relaxing about this trip! I think we are going to have to be old and gray before we actually get to rest while on vacation!

We left early on Thurs. morning and drove to Kansas City to go to Worlds of Fun. It had been 21 years since we were there last. It sure was hot! Fortunately, they do have some air conditioned buildings there and every so often, along the walkways they have these fans blowing mists of water, which help. Paul discovered, though, that his head and stomach cannot handle roller coasters like they used to be able to. I remember last Aug. he was starting to have trouble when we went to Adventureland. He's getting old! They had stricter rules there, too, about letting little people onto certain rides. So Sam had to sit out most of the rides. Fortunately, they do have a section of the park just for little ones. He loved that, especially the bumper cars!

Probably the funniest part of the day was when we were watching this show. It was loud, but the building was air conditioned, so we didn't care too much. The performers were putting on old tv theme songs and oldie songs. At one point, they drew Paul out of his seat, put flowers around his neck and had him dancing up on stage! Then, they stuck he and this other lady behind these cut-outs of Sonny and Cher and had them sing, "I Got You, Babe" into the microphone. It was funny - I could see his red face from where we were sitting!

Friday we drove down to Branson. That's when we stopped at Lamberts. We had visited there 3 years ago and knew we had to go back. It's an amazing place! We thought getting there on a weekday, a little past the typical lunch time, would mean that we could get right in. Not so! We had to wait an hour and a half for a table. Fortunately, there were plenty of antique stores nearby that we could browse in while we waited. A lot of people know about Lamberts, evidently! Definitely worth the wait, though.

Saturday morning we had to get up early to go to a time share presentation. I hate those things but it helped pay for our vacation, so we sucked it up and went. Do people ever actually say "yes" to these salesmen? That afternoon we took the boys mini-golfing at an indoor place - thankfully. It was still awfully hot!

That night we went to the Noah show. This was almost as expensive as Worlds of Fun. But it was so awesome! Even the boys said they liked it better than WOF, which surprised me. There is the Sight and Sound theater in Branson that for 35 years has been committed to bringing the Bible to life through musicals. This was an amazing show. The audience was made to feel as though they were inside the ark during part of the show. I loved how as the story drew to a close, the musical didn't end with the final scene of Noah's family exiting the ark and seeing the first rainbow. Instead, the sides of the ark on the stage fell away and just the crosspieces remained, forming a cross shape. Then, an actor dressed as Jesus came forward and gave the "rest of the story" with a clear Gospel message. Very cool!

During the show, I was watching the family in front of us. They had two boys and the oldest clearly had autism. He was very distressed at different points in the show because he couldn't handle the extra stimulation happening on stage. But his parents did a good job with him, doing "deep compressions" on his arms and legs to calm him down and talking him through some of the more difficult parts. I wanted to say something to them but never got the chance.

On Sunday we visited a church in Branson. There are churches everywhere down south! This one was a little more modern - but I couldn't find any fault with the pastor's message. He did call the second service the "hangover service" which I didn't think was in very good taste. And he also said, "Holy Crap!" during his message. But, other than that, it was fine. It was obviously a seeker-friendly church and very, very involved in donating to worthy organizations. Different, but not wrong.

Sunday afternoon we took the boys to a water park in Branson. It was both indoor and outdoor, which was nice, since it was still so hot. I really enjoyed myself there, especially on the Lazy River! I love those things!

That night we drove to Sedalia, Mo and spent the night. The next day we drove home, making a few stops along the way. We ate lunch at an Applebees, per the boys' request. They had never eaten at one before and wanted to see what they were like. I've eaten there many, many times, but we indulged them. Our last stop was in Lamoni, Iowa. I had read about an Amish store down there that has been put together with the help of Graceland University. We didn't get into town until 7pm so I was just sure that the store would be closed already. But it wasn't!

It was neat as we were driving through town to see the Amish homes there and we met quite a few buggies along the way. I felt so sorry for the drivers in their dark clothing when it was still over a 100 degrees. How awful to have to live without air conditioning! But the store was really cool (literally and figuratively). The lady running it was delighted to see our family and had to make a big deal out of the fact that we had all boys. She raised 5 daughters, so could relate, somewhat. I ended up buying a new step basket since the boys destroyed my other one. They had better not touch this one! On the bottom, the Amish family dated and signed it, along with all the names in their family. They mentioned on it that they have a baby named "Verna." So, so cool!

And now we're home and I am still exhausted! I just have not caught up yet! Fortunately, this week has not been too terribly busy and I've been able to kind of ease into it.

I found out this week that my dad has a gene that causes excessive clotting - it's called Factor V Leiden. When he was in the hospital a few weeks ago an old friend on Facebook contacted me and suggested that Dad get tested because she had been through a similar experience herself. At first the dr. kind of poo-poohed the idea but he did agree to do the testing. More than likely, I have the gene, too. I'm getting my blood drawn this Monday to find out for sure. I'm kind of excited by this news because if I do have it, it would explain why I had the stroke, which has always been a troubling mystery. I don't know what they do once somebody is identified as having this defective gene. I already take an aspirin every day, but maybe they'll want to have me start on an anti-coagulant since I'm obviously at a higher risk for clots and thus, strokes. That's if I have it. If I do, though, I will need to get the boys tested as well, since I may very well have passed it on to them.

Yesterday we met with Ben's new case worker for his waiver. Somehow, he "fell through the cracks" when we applied and were granted this waiver in 2010. I always kind of wondered why I was never contacted but then I would forget. But anyway, his case worker is a lovely person and I very much enjoyed meeting her yesterday. She'll be coming to our house once every 3 months and calling monthly. Ben is eligible for a host of services through this waiver including respite care, which he already gets, Easter Seals camps, and a $5000 grant if we needed to modify anything in our home or vehicle for him. We don't need that yet and may never need it. We can also get someone to come into our home and teach him basic life skills - money management, cooking, telephone skills, etc.

I also found out that shortly before Ben's 18th birthday we will have to hire a lawyer and apply to the courts to be appointed Ben's legal guardians. If we don't, we will no longer be able to make decisions or to even be on his bank accounts. We couldn't even sign his IEPs for him. It's crazy! And then we'll have to do it again someday before our deaths should he outlive us, which I assume he will. I thought being parent was equivalent to being a legal guardian, but I guess that's only until the 18th birthday.

Ben's case manager commented several times how impressed she was with Ben's manners and ability to communicate. That made me feel good! She said that because of that he will be a good candidate for job training - actual job jobs, not just work done in a separate work space, like they do with more handicapped adults. I'm so glad to hear that because that is what I want for him. Apparently there is an organization in Indianola that he'll be able to work with once he turns 16 that will teach him job skills and basic things like attention to detail, clocking in, keeping focused on the job at hand, etc.

Oh, and on the subject of Ben: I was asked to write a piece for the series, "Growing Up with Autism" for an autism blog. I ended up writing about our education journey with him. You can read it here: Scroll down a little bit and I'm the second paragraph in. There's a good picture of the two of us there. David snapped that for me yesterday.

Well, this is what I know for now. This afternoon I have to run Will up to Des Moines for his sports physical. He leaves Monday for two straight weeks at camp. He'll be at Sr. High camp next week and then just as soon as that ends on Sat. he'll be working the last Family camp of the season. He gets back on Friday, the 5th, and starts practice on the next Monday. It suddenly occurred to him on Wed. of this week that he needs a physical before then! Normally, he gets them at the school, but that wasn't going to work this time with him being gone. Fortunately, I was able to get him in with one of the drs where I started going this spring.

I had better stop typing. Today, I was trying to pick up a thumbtack out of a little basket on my desk. I wasn't very successful. I stabbed my pointer finger pretty badly. In fact, I had to pull the thumb tack OUT of my finger. Owww! It's starting to throb now. Better give it a rest! Time for some lunch and another chapter in my current murder mystery, "Lye in Wait."

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Light, Destructive Kids, and the Maid

As I blog, a new-found light is spilling across my computer screen - I like it! Paul just cut a hole for a window in my office. Wow, that is really going to lighten it up in here! Of course, I will be happier once the window is actually in, since the bugs are flying in with the hole.

I am almost done with today's to-do list. And that's good since it's already 8 pm! I'm feeling it, too. Yesterday was a non-stop day. First, I took David to the foot dr. to have his plantar warts worked on. Then, from there we drove up to Clear Lake to pick up Will and another teen from church who had been working. We went to 2 different fast food joints to pick up lunch and then we headed back. It's a 2 hour plus drive. We drove straight to the Indianola pool and got there at 4. It worked out well because we were having a mom "get-together" from church at the pool. That was actually supposed to happen Thurs, but it rained. David was so disappointed that I told him we could go Fri. when it was re-scheduled. So we spent 2 hours at the pool. Then, we drove home and I had Will throw my scrapbooking stuff in the van and I drove back to Indianola and scrapbooked until 11. Then, I came home and collapsed into bed. I was up by 7:30 this morning in order to be at the park clean-up day. Normally I would skip something like that but I felt kind of obligated, since I am on the council. Plus, the mayor had commented to me this last week that he knew the only people that would show up for this would be himself and his dad. So then I felt like I HAD to go! Paul came a little bit later with his chainsaw and we were able to take down a few trees. But I did beg out early. I knew I had this long list to accomplish today and it wasn't going to happen if I wasn't home. Plus, my allergies were threatening to start bugging me. Plus, it was hot. I hate heat. Plus, it was yard work. I hate yard work.

I've got homemade caramel corn baking in the oven. It smells so good! I also made a new dessert that I am guaranteed not to have to share. It's a chocolate cherry trifle - layers of pound cake, chocolate pudding, cool-whip, and cherry pie filling. Yum, yum! Wonder how many miles I'll have to put on the treadmill to walk that thing off?

Monday was the 4th of July. I was sad because Will wasn't here again. Actually, I was mildly depressed all week. I am having the hardest time with this kid being gone so much. At this rate, I'm going to end up in a psychiatrist's office when he goes off to college! I've got to shake out of this! But he's here now and will be around for the next two weeks (and then he'll be gone for 2 weeks straight again) so I'm happy!

Our neighbors (actually, the afore-mentioned mayor) were setting off illegal fireworks Sun. night. Sam ran into the house so excited and told me, "It's like stars out there - only there are red stars!" We did get to Pville on Mon. night for their display - they did not disappoint. Wow - what a show!

Tues. night Sam came into the house and anxiously told me, "Mom - I broke Will's car!" I thought maybe he had dented it or something with a stick, since he was carrying one. But no...he shattered the windshield. Apparently, he had been climbing on the car (which prompted a new rule) and fell. He told me his "butt hurt" so I'm guessing he went down on his bottom at the top of the windshield. ARgh - I could not believe it! Sam assured me, "It's ok, Mom - we have duct tape!" If only it were that easy...I hated having to write to Will and tell him what had happened. I just hope that if Paul is able to fix the damage from the accident, that we can replace the windshield, as well. I have never owned such a destructive child, before. Ben was rough - but he was mostly rough on himself. We made lots and lots of ER trips with him when he was a preschooler. But Sam is destructive to our stuff! I think half the problem is that he is so confident in everything he does. It doesn't occur to him that he could get hurt or he could hurt things because he sees his dad and brothers doing similar things (although I'm not aware that any of them climb on vehicles like monkeys). And maybe we're not watching him well enough, since, after all, we had a long break of not having to watch little children closely. Although, when the windshield incident happened, Paul was not 15 feet away, putting siding on the house. But, as any mom knows, there is a huge difference between being in the approximate vicinity of and actually watching.

I have a cover on my loveseat because we're too poor to actually buy matching furniture. Maybe someday! But, in the meantime, I have one of those stretchy covers for it. So, periodically, I have to throw it (the cover, not the loveseat) in the washer and dryer. Sam knows that when I do that he can play on the loveseat in a manner that he normally cannot when the cover is on. So, I got the cover cleaned and told Sam his playtime was over. He didn't like that, so I told him, "Ok, you can slide one more time." Sam replied, "No, I need lots of numbers!"

Sam just came and asked me to "get a dress" on him. I wanted to write that so I can laugh someday when I re-read this. He's actually asking me to get him dressed, but that's how he says it right now. He wants to run outside for a little bit before he goes to bed. He ought to sleep well. He and David spent all afternoon in our pool and Sam didn't get a nap. He told me just now that it isn't dark and it won't be dark for another "20 hours." Good to know!

I had a phone call this week from DHS - no worries, though. About 16 months ago I applied for Ben to be on a different waiver than the one he has been on because I had heard that it offered more transitory services for young adults and closer contact with a case manager. I've kind of felt like we were on our own with the old waiver. So he qualified and I've waited and waited for a call. And then I kind of forgot about it. Somehow, Ben fell through the cracks and just this week his new case manager received his file! We had a really nice visit and she's coming to meet with us in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I have a whole sheaf of papers to fill out. The bad thing is that his old waiver expired in the meantime, so Ben doesn't currently have any waiver services. So, we need to get this thing moving. Ahh - the efficiency and aptitude of govt. employees!

We are leaving for Missouri this Thurs. and we'll be there for several days. It will be nice to get away for a little vacation. We're going to Worlds of Fun on Thurs. I haven't been there in 21 years - the first summer that we were dating. Will checked the weather forecast and Missouri is saying "hot and humid" for that day - ick. Well, at least we'll be in air conditioning for the rest of the trip to Branson.

Well, I've got one more head to do a haircut on and a very messy kitchen to clean. My writing break is over - back to being the scullery maid.