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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Let Me Get This Straight


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.