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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Year End Wrap Up


What a crazy year it has been. Full of adventure, changes, challenges, hard work, and some fun here and there.

We couldn't end the year without Jordan getting a good kick in the face while sledding yesterday and Sean and his ladder taking a fall while washing windows today as some wind came in suddenly. Fortunately Jordan's mangled glassed were repaired and Sean landed in a hedge. It was close to not being a happy new year.

Jared is doing well. He was in the hospital for a month, coming home on the weekends. He was certainly ready to leave when the time came. During the last week of his stay he slowly went back to school much to his delight. The last week of school is a gong show on a good day. The fact that he handled it so well is a credit to him and the medications that seem to be taking the edge off his emotional pendulum and helping him stay focused. Overall he handled the whole season quite well. It was hard for him to leave something so structured and return to a place that had anything but with extra family and Christmas excitement abounding.

This next month will be the real test as life slows down to normal. Will he be able to use the skills he's learned at the hospital or will he backslide into his old habits? Will the school be able to reinforce the structure Jared needs to succeed? To be continued....

We are still covered in snow. We've had temperatures far lower than normal for this season. Folks around here are complaining about the lack of snow removal. The thing is, usually a warm Chinook comes and melts all the snow. There's not a need for a lot of snow removal equipment, but with the cold temperatures the snow sticks around.


Yesterday I spent a good part of the morning shovelling around the house with the help of Jared and Jackson. Can't say my body is feeling too spectacular today, but far better than last night.

There have been many events that have stretched our patience, wallets, and sanity. I can say while I don't wish the same on anyone, I have learned a thing or two and I continue to be amazed at how much I can handle when I don't think I can take any more. Oh, and thank goodness for our flood. Our basement looks so much nicer now.

We are hoping that the coming year brings us less stress and more movement in a forward direction, and we hope that for all of you too. Happy New Year!!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Jared the Builder

One of Jared's gifts this year was a 368 piece Bionicle Lego set. You know, one of those put it together and so help me don't EVER take it apart again Lego sets.

Uncle Chris oversaw the construction, but was relegated to bystander/observer while Jared almost single-handedly put it together.

Now, so help me, don't EVER take it apart.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Loyalty of Children

So......my mom bought matching pajamas for all us gals. Mom, daughters, and daughter in law posed for this at my mother's request. I promised to blog this.

I am having flashbacks of my childhood. Matching clothes with my sister. I think I even owned a dress that matched my mom's maternity dress.

Funny, now that I look at the pictures I realize that the "daughters" are all wearing black socks too.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's Beginning to Look Like Santa

The fam is beginning to arrive. Jared was discharged from the hospital (blog that later). The fireplace is pretty much done. The stockings are hung. The tree will be loaded with gifts for eleven of us. We reside in a winter wonderland at a chilly -30 degrees celsius today, but it should be in the balmy -teens by Christmas day. There is a dead bird in the deep freeze. The older boys are rehearsing for their parts in the Nativity Pagent next week and learning what frostbite really means. We are starting to eat way too much. I am singing in Christmas musical numbers at church on Sunday. We said our Merry Christmases to teachers yesterday. I am sick of shopping venues.

It's looking like the 25th must be near.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Brothers

Ahhhh.....if they could always be his loving. I am hoping Jared outgrows his obsession with Calvin and Hobbes. If you have read the comics you will know what I mean.
And why can't my baby stay a baby. Really. This is not fair. One day he won't be such a cute looking elf.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Stalled


The first coat of paint is on and molding will have to wait. Sean has the flu, I have the flu and a chest cold, and the hospital sent Jared home with tonsillitis and antibiotics. Yeah, we are a fine bunch.
Personally, I have been drugging myself with Dayquil and Nyquil and I found Otrivine with Menthol nose spray that I find quite pleasant. I haven't felt too awful until the last couple of hours. I don't want anymore Dayquil when I know I get the really good meds in an hour. Yes, I like drugs and floating and stuff.
It's snowing outside at the moment and the temperature is supposed to plummet tomorrow for the next few days. We are expecting -15 to -25 Celsius until next Friday. I don't have a block heater in the van so I am interested in seeing how long it takes till I can no longer start the thing. I don't mind being sick when it's too cold to go do much anyway. Hunkering down sounds good about now.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ain't Nothin Gonna Slow Us Down.....maybe

Yesterday Sean finished the main assembly of the new fireplace surround. I've primed and painted it now and Sean will start with the moldings today, hopefully, unless this cold/flu thing that came crashing down on us doesn't kill us first.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Compromise

James wants to grow his hair out....at least his bangs. I told him he could so long as he wears it like the lead singer from Flock of Seagulls. Is that not a reasonable compromise?

Even Santa Needs a Nice Place to Fall

Last year while discussing the finer points of Christmas with "Santa" at my staff tree trimming party, Jared gave him some important information.

"Now just remember when you come down our chimney you will hit a glass wall."

Good to know. With so many natural gas fireplaces in the world, you wonder how Santa can get his job done on time.

This is a new year and a new old house and we have a regular fireplace like in the olden days. We haven't tried it out yet (I want to have it inspected), but I am sure it is Santa approved and he will have no trouble fulfilling his responsibilities at our house.

What he may take issue with is the painted brick. Someone painted the brick two different colors......and none of that furniture is ours, bye the way. This is one of the pictures Sean took when touring the house before we purchased it.

Now we are going to hide the brick. Had the brick been left in it's original state, I would have changed my whole decorating concept for the den. Alas it was painted and we don't have the cash to do what I would really like to.

So......bye, bye, brick. Sad to see you go. Sean is building a floor to ceiling surround to cover the entire area. He also took the left over ceramic tiles from the bathroom floor and used them around the fireplace opening. It should be done by the end of the week and we will have a mantle to hang all eleven stockings for Santa to fill.

Eleven????.......you ask. Family is coming. What a better way to spend your first Christmas in a new town.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Getting a Grip

It can be difficult to rebound during an ordeal you feel ill equipped for. Indeed I guess ordeals can make you or break you. As Jared continues with his stint in the hospital I have found myself at times teetering on the fence, not knowing which side I would fall on.

No one told me that motherhood would be so painful at times. Perhaps they did and I did not listen.

I've developed a fairly thick skin during my short life so when I am told my household is not structured enough for Jared I take it like I should.....as constructive criticism. Well, sort of. Actually I felt like saying, "excuse me?", but then realizing that this is coming from medical staff that provide stellar structure for a living. I understood what they meant. I just didn't like hearing it.

I don't need to turn my home into a boot camp, but I see the need for me to provide more consistent expectations and rewards. We did this all weekend and it's the best weekend we've had in a long time.

Personally I am wiped. It took a lot out of me and there were some things I wanted to accomplish personally that I didn't. Still, I am happy with these past few days and hope they made an impact on Jared in a positive way. Now I have to figure out how to do this without alienating my other three boys.

It was also empowering. No one likes to feel helpless, myself included. I felt like a contributor to Jared's health and that we made good strides together.

He hates to go back to the hospital, but once he is there he is not asking to go home like he used to. I think some good things are coming from the medications he is on and it looks like an Autism screening will be coming in the new year. I am happy about that. Autism spectrum has been the elephant in the room for years, but until now I haven't met a doctor that agreed with the possibility. If Jared is, he would be on the very low end of the scale. We will have to go to the "big city" for that. I look forward to it so we can verify the possibility or put it to rest for good.

We can handle this.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Pretty Much Done

It's a shame to think that this is the designated bathroom for the boys who will pee all over the floor.

BEFORE (This was what it looked like when Sean was viewing the home for the first time)


DURING


AFTER



Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Pink Be Gone!!!!!!

Yes, it looks a little dark, but it's not. Besides, anyone who knows me will never be surprised by my choices in color.

This is my boys' bathroom and I have chosen a grey color for the walls. I also wanted to exorcise the awful pink that was in there. I think this does it.



The vanity cabinet will go in next and then the floor tiles. I know the boys will be happy to have their toilet resting comfortably back in its place. Just because it sits in a Rubbermaid container in the middle of our den does not make it a functioning toilet.

On a side note, I discovered thermal underwear yesterday. I thought I would buy myself a pair. and I think I am in love. Obviously I am not wearing them as undies because I am pretty sure I am never going to take them off.


Monday, December 1, 2008

When the Wind Blows

It's gusting 90 km/hr winds today. Not a good day to be up on a ladder washing windows.

Sean's attacking that ugly bathroom today removing linoleum, moldy walls, fixtures, and toilets. We picked up the new fixtures today at great prices. Even with deals left, right, and centre it sure does get costly to make something pretty.

Here's the damage Sean did today.

Brain Cell Destruction = Bathroom Renovation Sucess.......at least part of it.

This weekend Sean began the lower level bathroom. This is our pink bathroom. We do not like it. I hate pink on a good day. It's very 1970's. We could not let it continue to exist.

Our original plan was to rip out the tub and tiles and install new pretty things, but Sean was reluctant to do a tub replacement on his own. So he bought an enamel paint kit from the hardware store and went to work.

No where on the box did it say "use in a well ventilated area". The fact that we are all alive is amazing. Whether our brain cells are still in tact is another question. The fumes were awful. I was dizzy. Jordan was throwing up. I didn't think we were going to survive Friday night. On Saturday I turned off our heat, made everyone wear sweaters, and opened all the window. Fortunately it was a warm day.

I was skeptical about the whole paint job idea. I had heard horror stories about how difficult it was to apply it just right. Indeed Sean needed to do about 3 coats, but in the end it turned out better than I thought and it only cost us $50.....saving us huge amounts of cash.
Now we will move onto the wall repairs, painting, tiling, new cabinets and counters. Mom, you may have a nice bathroom to use when you and Dad get here!!


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Let Me Get This Straight

Okay......

I have one boy living in the hospital for the next few weeks.

I have another boy limping around with a wrecked ankle in healing mode (I assume he is not abusing the said ankle at recess) and off crutches.

I have another boy who wrecked himself playing basketball in gym class yesterday and is now on crutches sporting a swollen ankle.

I have one boy left and if he doesn't injure himself in the next two days, the window is closed. I am totally done.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

My Hero

I've been away from the blog lately. Life has been full of stress to the point where I wasn't sure I could get out of bed to face the world. But I am up and clothed and though I am still not completely standing on solid ground, I am moving in a forward direction.

I have a wonderful little boy. His name is Jared. What sets him apart from his brothers? Well for one, he is the epitome of the "bouncing baby boy". He is still bouncing at nine years of age. When I would describe mothering him as a small child I would say it was like having a first child all over again. He is my third. All the skills I had learned up to that point seemed to fly out the window. Positive reinforcement had spotty effects. Time outs didn't work. Taking away toys didn't work. A stern warning was quickly forgotten if it even registered at all. He's not afraid to call someone twice his size a bully, but he has a great fear of elevators. He can't sit long enough to eat a meal, but he can take his time and try to teach a two year old how to dribble a basketball. When he was young I would ask him a question and his reply would be an answer to a question I asked two weeks earlier.

Jared is creative. He loves an audience. He loves video games and computers. He loves to sing, but not in front of anyone. He loves Lego and when he is in his creating zone he will disappear for 5 hours with no breaks or meals (and don't dare come into his room and bother him) until his masterpiece is complete.

Socially he is awkward. He has little concept of personal space and in kindergarten he would unnerve his classmates when he came too close to them to talk, which was all the time. And he talks and talks and talks. Children don't know how to relate to him and so when he is invited to a birthday party it is a major deal.

Jared only focuses of things of interest to him at any particular time. His ability to focus on other things is sketchy. Getting the "must jobs" of life done are a huge struggle.

He is easily confused. Life must be laid out very clearly for him. Rules, instructions, must be repeated numerous times. There always needs to be a designated person in charge. If these things are not happening, anxiety kicks in.

Things are much more difficult for Jared to accomplish than it is for any of his brothers. He is an intelligent, bright, thinking being. It's hard to expose that to the world. It's trapped inside his body continually trying to escape to the light.

Jared has ADHD and anxiety. The lucky lad seemed to get the right mix of genetics and won the lottery. Life for him is like watching 5 different TV shows on 5 different TVs at the same time and then being expected to write an exam answering questions about all 5 shows he watched simultaneously.

A large part of our move to Alberta was for him. We had heard that education funding in this province allowed for more intervention for kids with challenges. We had great teachers in BC, but education funding did not provide support for kids like Jared. He, his parents, and his educators were left to their own devices. Any help we did seek was out of pocket and expensive. Indeed a psychological assessment that was requested 2 years ago in BC was given to Jared within 3 weeks of school starting here. With that assessment he was able to receive the help of an educational assistant.

But something else happened when we moved here and school started. Jared became more anxious. He started withdrawing in many ways. He would no longer play outside at recess with the other children. He didn't like to go out for dinner any more. He wasn't able to be in large groups. He was fighting to sit on the sidelines.

We began to see a psychiatrist early this fall and we talked about the problems Jared was having. We played around with his medications. I had been using reward systems for encouragement. I was in constant communication with his teacher, who by the way, is a total answer to prayer. Nothing was working.

Now he is at a hospital program and he has been there for almost 2 weeks. We were on a waiting list to get in. They called in the afternoon with news that a bed was available. Within 3 hours he was there and Sean and I went home without him. He comes home on the weekends and we visit him every night. The purpose of this program is to observe the children 24 hours a day and diagnose and identify behaviors. They work on behavior modification and when necessary figure out the right medications to use and therapy.

One thing we found was that the ADHD medication Jared has been on for quite some time really wasn't working for him. They found no real difference with him on or off. They are trying something else and so far they seem positive about it. He is also on an anti anxiety medication until he can learn to deal with his responses to those things that cause him stress.

We miss him around here. Our house is empty without him. It is hard to let go of your child and put him into a less than homey environment in the care of strangers. It's hard to not feel guilt and a sense of failure that as a mother you could not fix this for your child.

This past Friday was when I learned that our doctor wanted to keep him for a month. The reasons at that time were that some of his medications took that long to kick in and that Jared
was a bit of a mystery to them. He showed symptoms of a few different disorders, but could not be firmly diagnosed with anything. They had not seen a boy like Jared in a long time. We were asked for family mental health histories. I was feeling kicked in the stomach. I lost my footing.

Needless to say, I was a wreck for 4 days. I could hardly function and when I did I was exhausted. It had been a tough week not having Jared around and Jordan rolled and sprained his ankle (we went to the hospital for that too) and was on crutches. I didn't think I was going to be able to move. Everyone in this house has now seen me in tears this past weekend and even the boys have been worried about me. I couldn't hide it. I couldn't trust my own mothering skills. I didn't trust my judgement or my ability to make correct observations. I think I hit that breaking point.

Taking Jared back on Monday was the hardest thing to do. I knew he needed to go, but all I wanted to do was keep him home and hide him and take care of him.

Monday was a difficult day for him. On Tuesday they increased his meds and started a behavior modification plan that was an instant success. I sneaked in this morning to say hello and the nurse was just excited to tell me that the morning went so well. Jared got ready all on his own and happily without constant reminding and was ready for school 2o minutes early. He is going to hospital school.

So I am feeling better today. Our evening visits have been positive. The hospital feedback has been positive. I am hoping I don't get kicked in the stomach again on Friday. But it doesn't matter. It's not about me. It's about Jared.

Once upon a time I was one of those anti ADHD diagnosis people. I believed that we were diagnosing too many and unnecessarily over medicating our youth. Then God gave me Jared and my world changed. I judge less. He is a gift to me and to anyone who comes in contact with him. He is here to teach us a lesson or two about life. He has taught me that resilience can come from any hardship this life offers. He has taught me that even though life can be a challenge you can still be cheerful. He has taught me that every individual has the strength to overcome.

He is my hero

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Torani Power

This is for Kristy who wanted pictures of my stash in storage.

These are the soon so be consumed stash.

These are the in the process of being consumed stash.

Bargin Birthday Bash

Well not really, but it happened on his birthday so we figure that counts.

We celebrated James' birthday on Saturday because we were all going to see a movie together as a family and he was nagging about opening his presents. There are certain things I have learned such as pick your battles and so this was a no brainer. What did I care if he opened gifts a couple of days early.

It worked out to be a really good idea in the end. I needed to head out to Calgary on Monday and Jordan had the chance to see a friend there since they both had the day off school. Jared had a birthday party to attend Monday night. James had a friend who won an award in school that came with a prize......a limo ride for him and his closest friends (and his little brother and sisters) to Pizza Hut for dinner, a movie for previously mentioned persons, and a limo ride home. James was invited and it just so happened it was for Monday night.

I think James spent most of his birthday playing with his new Zune mp3 player so he would have ignored us all anyway. Jordan got to see his friend. Jared got to socialize with school classmates outside of school. I got to buy some furniture for the basement and lunch with my good friend Kristy, which is always a treat for me.

I think it was a win/win birthday. James had a birthday celebration with his family and he also got to spend the day with friends doing something really cool and it didn't cost me a dime.

On a side note, he's really glad to be finally 13. Most of his friends are at least a full head shorter than James and his voice is changing and theirs are not. He's the youngest in the bunch....the last to enter teenagerdom. Now he is official.....a snarky, smelly, pimply, grumpy, sassy, rotten, good for nothin' teenager!!!! I love it.

But remember, this is all about me. I am much too young to be the mom of a teenager. And I know some of you will be younger than I am now when your kids become teens or were younger when your kids became teens, but that doesn't matter. I don't care. We are talking about me here. I am much too young and immature for this sort of thing. Much too young.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Today We Celebrate You, James......

.......for that special day when you inflicted so much pain on your mother and so much stress for your father.

.......for that day when I wondered if all my offspring would have enormous heads.

.........for that day you screamed, "Put me back!!!!!"

.........for that day you started teaching me I needed to become a better human being.

And now you are this strapping 5' 8" thirteen year old with a voice that's already changing. Thank you for being our practice child. Thank you for not being overly damaged. Thank you for being the person that you are. You are wonderful and I feel like I have very little to do with that. You are just good stuff.

I am so glad I get to be your Mom. Happy Birthday, James.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Jared the Builder


Jared is a character. On of these days I will write all about him because I truly believe he was put here on this earth to touch the lives of people that come in contact with him in a meaningful way and teach them a thing or two about the virtues of life.
Jared gets hyperfocussed on things and this week it has been the lego box in his closet. We can hardly get him to eat or drink or speak to us. He is in his room for hours creating and building and nothing is to disturb him while he is in the zone.

He emerged this evening with his latest creations. He just astounds me.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I'm a Mutt Too

In a talk with reporters the other day, Barack Obama called himself a mutt. The subject matter was what type of dog the Obama family would take to the White House.

When I read about it the other day, I thought, "Hmmmm......I wonder how that is going to turn out." I wasn't thinking that because I thought he said something inappropriate, but rather because he said it in such a casual way. The subject of race is a hot topic.....have you noticed?

You see, I'm a mutt too. My father is Caucasian and my mother is Japanese. Some how I turned out more Hispanic or Filipino looking, but I assure you I came out of a Japanese tummy. All my life folks would look at me oddly and the brave ones would ask "What are you?" To most people I look different, but I don't look like a purebred, so what am I?

I identify with both sides of my heritage. Culturally I serve two masters, and happily so, and I don't think either side should lay sole claim to me.

Whatever the outcome of Obama's leadership (my "non biased" Canadian view tells me two men who loved America ran for President), he said something powerful in those offhanded comments. He acknowledged what he was and it didn't matter. It wasn't a big deal.

So I echo that. It's no big deal.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Food Storage Essentials

James is taking part in a service project with the other scouts from church to can food storage items for those who would like the opportunity to add to their food storage. I decided that I would stock up on powdered milk and sugar this year. That way our family can get our calcium and be on a sugar high through out whatever catastrophe comes our way.

We have a closet between our kitchen and laundry room that I am using to store certain items. Sean put shelving in there today and I am filling it with soup and other essentials that we need on a regular basis.

I decided to get my Torani Syrup Stash out from the garage today. I finally have some room for them in the house. Prior to moving to Alberta I headed down to Washington State to the closest Cash and Carry store (they are really cheap there) and stocked up on bottles of Torani. I purchased around 4 cases of product, knowing that it may be a couple of years before I get back to a store.

I am happy to report that I still have 58 opened and unopened bottles (I did have a few before the shopping trip). We are set for a while longer.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Once Upon A Time.....

Once upon a time there was a baby named Jackson. He was a beautiful baby and a joy to his mother's heart. She loved him dearly and cherished each moment they shared together. Indeed she savored their moments together because he was her youngest child. She would never have another.

Jackson was an affectionate little boy. He loved to cuddle. He loved kisses and hugs and snuggles. This made his mother happy beyond words and she looked forward to those moments when the world would just stop and Jackson would come and cradle himself in his mothers arms.

But as time always does, it moved forward ever so slowly yet so quickly. Jackson grew older and did not need or want the hugs and kisses and snuggles like he used to. Those moments when the world would just stop became fewer and far between and his mother became sad.

His mother became sad because she knew that for all that has been written about children needing affection, it was she that was now suffering. She needed that affection too, and her heart broke as she struggled to accept the fact that this wonderful little boy didn't need her in the same ways he had as baby.

Her attempts to cuddle Jackson were rebuffed with a push and a "NOOOOOOOOOOO." She felt pure rejection. But every once in a while Jackson must have sensed that his mother needed some love and he would come over and hold her hand. And sometimes he would sit on the sofa with her and snuggle along side her just for old times sake. This made his mother happy and grateful that perhaps all was not lost......at least not yet.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Partay

We enjoyed a great evening last night in Calgary. My aunt threw a Halloween party with great games, food and fun. The boys looked forward to this party with much anticipation and were certainly not disappointed. Even better was the fact that they got to wear their costumes early and I am not left to scramble for costumes this week because we were prepared for this party.
I must say that my kids usually do not look as good as they did for the party. Halloween is not normally a huge issue for me. I do Christmas. I am a Christmas as soon as American Thanksgiving is over kind of gal. I have to say it was fun getting the kids ready this year and I may have to rethink my Christmas only stance.





Jackson (I will bite you and you will become one of my minions) Vampire
















Jared (I've been wearing this outfit for almost 3 weeks already) Ninja.















Jordan (talked out of being a grim reaper for the second year in a row) Man in Black (aka. Tommy Lee Jones) or Secret Service Agent........you choose.











James Angus (AC DC) Young - rock star - playing Back in Black with my cousin Jake. May I say I don't much like the music but I get all proud seeing him do this.


This will probably be our Christmas 2008 family photo. Merry Christmas folks.