Monday, December 27, 2010

The Day Mommy Ran Away

So, as you know from my Christmas blog Here, My husband had to work Friday, Saturday and Sunday. And you also know that The Skink was ill with a stomach virus and Iraq was in rare form with so much over-stimulation from the change in schedule combined with new presents from Christmas. It made for a few busy and rather stressful days for me. I spent nearly all my time with the girls, although I did run away for a little "break" in the form of shoveling our sidewalk and driveway when The Skink took a nap on Sunday. I managed, but I didn't get a lot of extra "stuff" done.

Normally Broadway is a huge help around the house, taking on dish duty and taking out the garbage along with some pet-related responsibilities. Well... we gave Broadway a break from it all and sent him with my parents to go see my sister and brother-in-law in Louisiana (he's having a blast, I hear).

Needless to say, by today the garbage cans were overflowing (especially with the wrapping paper and packaging from Christmas) and the sink was full.

I had had little rest the entire weekend other than a couple hours I spent in a near-coma after the children were in bed each night. Weary to the bone, I sat in a dazed stupor in front of my computer screen until my blood pressure and racing pulse had come down enough to go to sleep. (I know the other special-needs moms out there know exactly what I'm talking about.)

For the last few weeks, in fact, I have felt very nearly at the end of my rope. 

Today when my husband suggested that I could have done more to help him... I had forgotten to rinse out some items I had used to cook food for the family... and was visibly upset about the state of the garbage and the kitchen...

Yeah... I lost it! I mean totally "straw that broke the camel's back" lost it! I didn't just lose my marbles, but I may have launched them into earth's orbit. 

And I left. 

Driving the hour to my parent's house was the first time I have driven to a place that wasn't the bank or the grocery store without kids in the car in...

years?

I suppose I've been like a balloon. I have let myself internalize all life's little (and no-so-little) stresses so I don't pop at my kids. I know I should go work out or something in my limited free time,  but this has been the kind of stress that seems to drain the marrow from the bones... it depletes my soul to the point where I sometimes feel like a ghost of "me."
I can understand frustration over a full sink and full garbage cans... sure...

I have tried to be "SuperMom," and apparently I have fallen short. As a mom I want so badly to make everybody as happy as possible while still maintaining the order and keeping the peace. Raising a child with autism and a child with Down syndrome isn't easy. And for Iraq, it's not just autism. It's oppositional defiance disorder, anxiety, lack of impulse control and a need to harass me and be wrapped around my ankle every waking hour...

But I forgot to rinse some cookware and I didn't take the trash out in the snow...

So I think we can all agree that either SuperMom is a nasty little fairy tale that will haunt all mothers to our graves, or that at very least, I am NOT SuperMom. I am apparently just a mortal... who would have guessed it? And apparently I have a limit...

now what?

What Are You Doing?

The Skink has come a long way in the last 4 years! She now answers simple questions with "yes" or "no." That's a big step in our house!

So this morning The Skink was sitting quietly. Her daddy became worried she might be doing something a little naughty and asked her, "What are you doing?"

Confronted with a question that did not require a yes/no answer, The Skink quickly replied, 

"This!"


Well daddy... there's your answer!

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry, Scary Christmas!

We awoke bright and early this morning to see what Santa has brought...

A pony!

The Skink was clearly not quite herself. Sitting... sitting...sitting...

not sitting...


So when she started throwing up, we brought her bed down so she could still be part of the... um... festivities.


Iraq got some awesome books!


And mom got... potholders. Lobster potholders. When you wear lobster potholders you have to make mean, lobster faces!


Then daddy had to go to work (yes, work) while I stayed with a sick 4-year-old and an over-stimulated 7-year-old. I did what any mom would do, and I broke out the new Shrek movie! So... after the movie in which Shrek has a daughter named Felicia, Iraq insisted that we rename The Skink... Felicia. My telling her that The Skink already had a nice name was her cue to go into nuclear melt-down mode, so I ended up dragging her up to her doorknob-less bed room. When I went up to let her out, this is how I found her...


And then I let her ride her new Hello Kitty scooter around the house for the rest of the (rather long) day.

Hope your Christmas was just as good as mine! (or better)

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Brandy the Wonder Dog - On the Bus!

So Brandy is our Olde Victorian Bulldogge and last year I started training her (at age 7) to be a service dog. She shocked us all by picking up the training incredibly fast.
 
You can see some of those posts Here.



Anyway, Brandy wanted to come to the bus stop with us this morning. Normally when its this cold, she prefers to sleep it, but not today. She had her purty pink dog coat, her teal, sparkly collar, and she was ready for a walk in the snow!

She learned last year not to be afraid of the big, noisy bus, and this morning she actually looked eager when the bus pulled up. We've never worked with her ON the bus because we had not planned on her going to school with either of the girls. I can only imagine the reaction of the parents of the other students when they learned that this was one of the class room regulars.



The bus driver hadn't met Brandy before and when the door opened he called to her and she followed Iraq right on to the bus. The thing that amazed me was that she didn't just get on to go mooch attention off the bus driver, but went directly to my daughter's seat and sat just as pretty as you please, ignoring all the doting children.

This dog takes her job seriously. She amazed me once again! Most other dogs, climbing on to a bus fully-loaded with noisy grade-school kids would likely have run from kid to kid, feeding off that childhood-level of excitement.

But I never even trained her under these circumstances! Never trained her where to sit on a bus, never trained her around a hoard of excited children... yet somehow, she just knew.

And when I tried to get her back off the bus? She refused to leave Iraq. I had to pretty much drag her away from Iraq's side, and you should have seen the look of concern on Brandy's face! Her expression clearly said, "We can't just leave her here! I need to stay with her!"

She begrudgingly obeyed my command to "unload," and stared longingly after the bus as it pulled away from the curb.


Sitting like a dog - FAIL!

Are dogs awesome or what?

 "OK... Merry Christmas already. Now will you please take this dumb hat off me?"

*

Edit: Just had to add the link to this article in the WSJ today:

The Doctor's Dog Will See You Now

 Have a great day, all! 

Saturday, December 18, 2010

An iPad! Yes - A Real iPad Will Be Given Away!

The holiday season is a time for thinking of others and of giving. Yes - it's hard to think about giving as much in these hard economic times. We all feel the pinch these days... but let me ask you a question...

What do you really want for Christmas this year? What are you giving your child this year? 
Do you think you'll get it? Have you already purchased that special present for your child(ren)?

I'm happy if at least a few of your Christmas wishes will be coming true this year :o)

Now... it's uncomfortable to think of others who are not as lucky. After all, who wants to have a taste of "harsh reality" during "the most wonderful time of the year?" Maybe you're already doing your part to help out with Toys for Tots or a local Angel Tree. If you are, that's fantastic! But... we are very lucky in the United States! Our government does its best (sure - sometimes they fall short... but they try) to provide for children who are without parents for one reason or another. The children can get Medicaid, enough to eat, an education and even therapies for those with disabilities. Can I just say - I feel VERY lucky to live in a country that does its best to care for children in need!

But there are many countries which, for what ever reason, don't or can't. Outdated misconceptions prevail and orphans are considered second-class citizens. Orphans with disabilities... worthless. 

Let me tell you a Christmas story...

This is Elizabeth.


Is she adorable or what? Just like The Skink, Elizabeth has Down syndrome, but in Russia where Elizabeth was born, doctors tell the parents of babies with Down syndrome that their child will never be worth anything, and that they will be ostracized if they choose to keep such a child... and therefore most children with any kind of disability is given up at birth.

Elizabeth was abandoned at birth and put into an orphanage. With her sparkling personality and generous nature, she made friends with the other children. She loved to feed and rock the dolls in the play room. Elizabeth was potty trained and knew how to dress herself. But then Elisabeth became to old to stay at the baby house.

One day someone came and took sweet, innocent Elizabeth to a new place. A mental institution. They shaved her head so nobody would have to care for her beautiful hair, placed her in a crib with no toys, and walked away. Because of budget shortages, it is common for one caretaker to be assigned to about 3 rooms of 20 people. If Elizabeth tried to climb out to explore her new surroundings, somebody would have come and tethered her to the bars of her crib to prevent her from climbing out. Nobody would have time to watch the children... only to provide the very bare essentials.

You can only imagine how frightened Elizabeth was! No more friends to play with... only rows of cribs... and the only sound? The screams of psychotic adults housed in the same building, and the weak, frightened cries of other lonely, confused children. Nobody holds the children. Nobody speaks to the children. A huge percentage of the children who are transferred die within only 16 months! 

If you feel VERY brave, check out this video from inside a Serbian mental institution. Be warned, it is not easy to watch. The video was produced a number of years ago (almost 10 years ago, I believe) and the hope was that by raising awareness, the Eastern European countries including Russia and Serbia would make improvements. Unfortunately, the economy world-wide has only gotten worse, and the conditions remain the same. There is even a rumor that the government may not be able to pay for heat for these institutions this winter, making the situation even more dire.

This Christmas Elizabeth will not get a DS game system. She won't get a rocking horse, new clothes or a doll. She won't get anything at all. The only thing in the world this little girl wants is for someone to love her... to mean something to someone.

If this child and so many other children just like her don't mean something to you and to me, their existence on this earth could flicker by virtually unnoticed. The hardest thing of all is that there are so many families here in the US who would love nothing more than to hold this little girl, and to love her. They just can't afford the up-front fees to adopt.

So I ask you... please help a child. Please let one of these children mean something to you. To sweeten the deal, Patti of A Perfect Lily is offering an iPad for someone who donates to one of two children she is helping raise funds for. Every last dollar helps! Please remember that! 

Please visit Patti's Blog for the rules and a chance to win. Someone's life depends on it!

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Friday, December 17, 2010

A Winner!

Just a quick note to say that a random commenter has been selected with the help of Random.org and a big "Congratulations" goes to...


Commenter #1:
Stacia Mary said...
I'm torn between the horseshoe and the horse head...One of these days I too will have a necklace or bracelet made from Marker's hair. *hugs* Sounds like a rough time. Hang in there! Enjoy your new necklace, Stacia! *

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Almost-Wordless Wednesday

We all have those mornings! The alarm goes off (in this case I got to be the alarm) and we just can't seem to get moving. The Skink had one of those mornings today.

I mentioned before that to *cure* an issue where she was getting up at night and falling asleep in front of the door, we put her PeaPod on her bed and zip her up to keep her from wandering. She loves her PeaPod! So this morning when I unzipped her and tossed the flap back to let her out...



She pulled the flap back down and tried to zip herself back up! The zipper is on the outside of the flap, so when she couldn't get a good grip on it, she made do by pulling her blanket back on... and right over her head!

Judging by this behavior, she'll make an excellent teenager some day!

This is when I resort to my secret weapon... Tickling!

 I'm UP... you can stop now!

Hmmmm... do you think Mom would notice if I try to steak back into my pod?

Fine! I went potty. Now can we put my pajamas back on?

 No really. If you won't put them back on, I'll just do it myself!

Perhaps I'll be zipping her up a little earlier tonight!

On another note, This week this blog has had visits from:
United States
...214
United Kingdom
...29
Latvia
...12
Canada
...9
Australia
...8
New Zealand...
6
Russia
...5
Germany...
4
South Korea
...4
Indonesia...
3
 
The internet is such a neat thing! I'd love to get a comment from everyone - and let me know where you're from! Feel free to use your own language in your comments - I'm probably not fluent in your language, and I don't expect you to use mine when you write! Don't be shy - everyone is welcome here :o)

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Sunday, December 12, 2010

Still a Little Nuts... But What Else Is New... Oh... And a Giveaway!

So in my last post I was near the end of my rope, but someone was kind enough to send me a new one...  more on that later!

Anyway, as with a lot of families with a child or 3 who have special needs, the last two weeks have been filled with IEP meetings, SSI issues and Medicaid stuff. Just what I needed to help me de-stress... if you consider a blood pressure reading of 145 over 95 good. (Yeah - that's on my 5 different meds AND immediately following a meditation journey to my "happy place.")......  Visit my *Happy Place*
Having an all-new understanding as to why some species eat their young, we are now seeking respite care for Iraq. I have mentioned in earlier blogs that I have not been away from Iraq in 6 years (except for the two different times that Broadway and then The Skink were in the hospital... different stories, and hardly vacations). 
See The Skink's summer hospital story here, here, here, here, here, here and here (because just saying "here and here" somehow just seems abbreviated... abbreviated... kind of a long word to describe something condensed, huh?)

So I've been wading through the process of getting a Medicaid waiver set up, but there is a waiting list for services. (Nebraska's Safe Haven law is sounding better every day). Also with the bad economy and all the budget cuts, they are really short-handed around the Social Services department.

I've been using all the techniques in all the autism books I can find to avoid Iraq-style nuclear meltdown. I should probably pronounce it "nuke-you-lar" like George Dubbyah... after all, Iraq was born in Texas. On one hand I could brag that we only had 3-4 nukeyoular-meltdowns over the last week - yay... or I could tell you that Iraq didn't have her hair brushed all week, went out in the freezing cold without a coat, jumped on the couch all weekend and ate nothing but brownies and tomato slices all day on Sunday. We'll stick with the cup being half full, kay?

Yup - I could really use that respite help pretty quick here!
As for The Skink, aside from learning how to mimic an Iraqi nukyoular meltdown, she's been great. I feel like a rarely blog about her - I suppose it's because she's just so darn easy! Yes - lately she's been copying her sister's crying-meltdown-thing, but nowhere near to the degree Iraq does it. I put The Skink in her room, tell her she can come out when she's done, and that's it. She cries a little, starts playing with her toys, and is in a great mood for the rest of the day.

The *worst* thing The Skink started doing over the last couple weeks was getting out of bed at night and falling asleep in front of her bedroom door. That was a pain because then we couldn't OPEN the door... and darn if The Skink isn't one of the heaviest sleepers I've ever known. Second only to Broadway, I think. To remedy the situation, we set up her PeaPod on her bed and zip her up for the night. 

Problem solved!

This picture was from the summer - but you get the idea. This thing is *Awesome!*

Nothing at all like Iraq's night time antics. We have now installed strong locks waaaaay up high on our doors because Iraq has been known to get up in the middle of the night and explore. It's not fun waking up to a wide-open front door in the morning! I have to say - ever since Iraq broke off her bedroom doorknob, life has been much easier in that sense. We just lock her in her room, and sleep much better knowing that at very least, she's still in the house.

As for Broadway, he has been in a number of Thanksgiving and Christmas parades with his Jr.ROTC unit over the past weeks. We made it to the one just before Thanksgiving, but I'm sorry to say I had to miss the BIG Christmas parade last Friday. My hubby had to work, and sorry, but I draw the line at standing in the freezing cold with an autistic child and a child with Down syndrome and NO back-up!

So, after everything that has been going on, I'm still clinging to the end of my frayed rope. Did I mention I'm having a giveaway this week? This week I'm giving you a chance to win an un-frayed rope... with a pendant on it! Lisa Austin of Crazy4PonyTails.com has been kind enough to send me this cool necklace:


This is a pendant on a braided necklace - I'm not sure what the necklace portion is made of - either leather or some sort of vinyl cord... at any rate, it seems to be sturdy enough to hold up whether you enjoy barrel racing, jumping or just hanging around the house. The message is universal...

And I will send it to one lucky commenter on this blog. Lisa also makes custom horsehair jewelry. As luck would have it, I still have the hair cut from the tail of the best horse I ever had, and someday when I can afford it, I'm going to send it to Lisa so she can make me a bracelet from it. She also embellishes these beautifully braided pieces with decorative clasps and even pendants.  

Are those awesome, or what?

Please visit Lisa's web site and leave me a comment telling me which pendant is your favorite. I'll use a randomly generated number to determine the winner on Friday. Happy commenting!

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Please Help This Precious Little Girl - And iPod Touch Giveaway Announcement!

This is little Olga!


If you look on the Reece's Rainbow site, you will see the following:

Girl, Born January 2006
Gender: Female
Eyes: Gray
Hair: brown
Character: mobile, sometimes assertive
Olga is a beautiful, blonde haired, blue eyed little girl. She is very high functioning and healthy! No heart problem at all. She feed and dresses her self, is working on her potty training, and even has several words. She is confident and a leader in the group.


Like most children in Eastern Europe who are born with Down Syndrome, Olga was left at an orphanage shortly after she was born. Also like most children born with Down syndrome in Eastern Europe, Olga will be transferred to a mental institution shortly after she turns 5. Her average life expectancy after transfer? About 1 year. (Yes - that is "ONE" year.)

Unfortunately the future for these little angels is beyond dismal if they are transferred. The suffering world economy has spurred many countries to make drastic cuts to funding for institutions, and it is likely some will go without heat this winter, let alone proper staffing, quality food or other essentials. There will be no toys, no playground, no education and worst of all, no arms to hold her or love her.

As you can see, it is of utmost importance we pitch in to try to get this angel out of the orphanage before she is transferred! Sweet Olga has done nothing to deserve this bleak future.

Now for a blessing...

Patti of the blog "A Perfect Lily" is giving away a brand new iPod Touch to help raise adoption funds for Olga! Please remember - you don't have to be "rich." Every dollar is a dollar towards saving a life, so NO donation is too small. If you can afford more, it brings Olga that much closer to learning what LOVE is!

Please follow the link below to earn a chance to win a new iPod Touch!



Patti's Blog: The Most Important Post I Have Ever Written

And Thank You! Yes - Thank You for helping. Even if you can't donate, spread the word. Do it for Olga!


To my followers - I apologize for re-posting this entry multiple times. Adasperdown was experiencing technical (and some non-technical) difficulties.  
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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Passing Inspection - The Special Needs Mom Way

It is my belief that once we become parents, we are instantly put under the microscope by every other parent and society in general. Kid having a melt-down at the grocery store? Everyone gives mom the evil eye! Kid still in diapers at age 3? Mom and dad must be doing something wrong. Kid whining and acting like a brat? You guessed it... good 'ol mom and dad again!

Our society has become so judgmental that we air commercials like this:



Really? "Pass inspection??" OK, readers... everyone line up and bend over. It's inspection time!

There is something truly wrong when we become concerned about other people's dingleberries! Commandment number 11: Inspect not thy neighbor for dingleberries!
Translation: Don't get all up in my kool aid!

Yesterday I took just a moment to sit down in an exhausted heap in front of the television for a minute while I gulped down lunch, and a commercial for the Dr. Phil show came on. It showed some kids whining and acting "bratty" and in a voice-over, the announcer proclaimed that "You CAN brat-proof your child!" Apparently it just takes some "good parenting skills" that the good Doctor will teach us on his next show.

See the commercial HERE.

Instead of having a massive melt-down and taking my frustrations out on the helpless television, I simply turned it off. I took a deep breath, and then I started to cry.

The truth of the matter is that good parenting skills DON'T work for EVERY child. I'm not perfect all the time (I might even have an occasional dingleberry), but I have read every book on parenting and employed more techniques to curb bad behavior than Super Nanny has even thought of. I have stayed 100% consistent and "no" always means "no." If I say I'll do "Y" if you do "X," you can put money on me to follow through with "Y" every single time.

And yet... I deal with whining, crying, melt-downs, refusals to comply and even threats every single day. Worse yet, now my sweet youngest child is copying her older sister's behavior, and big brother berates my parenting skills simply because his middle sister's behavior hasn't changed yet. And her psychiatrist says it's not likely to change much any time soon.

I would invite ANY reality show to come install cameras throughout my house and I CHALLENGE them to do a better job than I do. Yet, as hard as I work and as hard as I try, the changes come so sloooooowwwwlllyyy. I'm not into blaming a child for my own problems, but honestly, I used to be very healthy. I had low blood pressure, I worked out daily, I had tons of energy...

In just 7 short years my blood pressure has gotten so bad (and uncontrollable) that it puts me at high risk of a cardiac event or stroke at any given moment. I'm on no less than 5 medications to try to control it. I'm exhausted both mentally and physically all the time and I've gained some weight that I can't seem to shake. My own parents fear the idea of being left with my children for even a weekend so I can have a break... and I can hardly blame them!

A break? I haven't had one in nearly 7 years. My awesome sister watched my 2 oldest for a week about 6 years ago so my hubby and I could go on a belated honeymoon. That was my last break... and trust me - family vacations are NO break!

Here's Iraq post-meltdown at Busch Gardens this past summer:


Well, yeah - of course it's overstimulating, but do mom and dad (and the two other kids) *ever* get to just relax and enjoy a vacation? Sorry, but we can't afford to pay someone to look after Iraq so the family can have a break... and it wouldn't be fair to Iraq.

What about ME?

You wanna know why my blood pressure is so high? It's because when Iraq behaves like Iraq, I don't scream. I don't hit her. I don't freak out on her. I... stay... calm... and... calmly... explain... things... to... her.  I... stay... patient. I... talk... to... her...
I internalize all the freak-out-turmoil so I don't break down and beat her or something.

Lately I have come close. Iraq whines non-stop at home and refuses to do anything easily. Last night she didn't want to get out of the bath. Then she didn't want to get her pajamas on. Then she started flailing and scratching when I tried to brush her hair. Then she threw a fit when it was time to brush her teeth. Then she melted down because I didn't kiss her in exactly the right pattern as I was putting her to bed...

I kid you not when I say that every step of the way is a high-stress fight.

This morning she didn't want to get dressed on her own, decide what to have for breakfast, eat breakfast and then she hit me and had a meltdown when I tried to brush her hair. That's when I came as close to completely loosing it as I have in a long time. When she hit me, I took that hairbrush and swatted her on her dingleberry-free bum! She started screaming, flailing and scratching and I swatted her again. Finally I sat on her (yes - literally) and brushed her damn hair!

When I let her up, she looked at me with eyes as blank as a shark's, bent over and rubbed her head in circles on the couch in a rather successful attempt to mess up her hair again.

No. I'm not kidding.

That's her schtick lately. If I threaten her:
"If you take my belongings out of my room and hide them from me, I will take away your 'insert toy name here'."
She threatens me right back:
"If you take my toy, I'll just take more of your stuff!"
Inevitably the tension grows culminating in my having to remove her from the situation and lock her in her room. On an average it takes her between 30 and 60 minutes to calm down enough to talk and be allowed back out into the house... but sometimes it takes longer.

See that? That's my rope. It's frayed... and I seem to be near the end of it.

Yeah - even funny people that prefer to make people laugh have rough days sometimes. I'm sorry for venting and for the "downer," but a girl's gotta vent when a girl's gotta vent! I've been joking with my mom about doing a bit of a road trip... to Nebraska... where they have very loose Safe Haven laws...

It's just a fantasy. I wouldn't really do it...

yet


And on that note, everyone bend over. It's inspection time!