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  • Rebecca on the Prairie
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    Post count: 1113
    in reply to: Behind in school #6958

    Check out INsource.org help for Indiana families in need of special education services.

    Rebecca on the Prairie
    Participant
    Post count: 1113
    in reply to: Behind in school #6957

    We experienced this with our children, adopted at 9, 8, and 4.5. We are their eleventh and final family. They are now 21, 20, and almost 17.

    Common sense is developed through common experience, i.e., experiencing the same thing repeatedly and seeing the same or similar results. This does not happen when children move frequently from place to place and happens even less when they move from family to family. Every family has its own culture. Every family uses words differently. What is predictable in one family may be unpredictable in another, or may net a different result. Changing schools can cause the same culture shock for our children. It’s no surprise that our children have serious gaps in their common sense and common knowledge. Only part of what we perceive as common knowledge is learned in school. Much of the most basic foundations of knowledge starts at home in very early childhood when parents and others interact consistently with children. Instability, abuse, and neglect can have a devastating effect on the development of common knowledge and common sense.

    My children didn’t know the meaning of common metaphors. They didn’t know things like basic measurements. In literature, they had no idea what might be motivating the characters, as so much of their lives felt serendipitous. Or their idea of a character’s motivation was based on their very uncommon experience such that teachers couldn’t understand how they came to those conclusions. Rules felt arbitrary because they had been through so many sets of them that they weren’t tethered to anything that had remained stable in their lives. Science was often a mystery because they didn’t know the basics. So though they might be able to parrot a correct answer, learned by rote, they didn’t have a coherent picture of the whole. My children have good native intelligence, but without all of the foundational knowledge and experience, they can’t show it.

    Our youngest didn’t make meaningful progress on learning to read until he was in late sixth grade, where he was reading at a second grade level. In early tenth grade, he passed his high school reading comprehension graduation requirement, having gained eight grade levels in four years. He had a couple of teachers who worked tirelessly with him throughout middle school. They were trauma trained to help him with his extreme emotional disability. He is on track to graduate with a regular diploma. He is in all special ed classes where they know his patchy educational history and work to fill in the gaps. In math, he has got from not being able to count reliably to being in Algebra I this year. His middle school teacher taught him math one on one for two years to get him going in the right direction. For much of this time, our son went to school for as little as one hour per day and worked himself up to full time over four years.

    My guess is that the deficits in your child’s education go way back and are related to the instability she experienced. Consider going way back in grade level so you can fill those foundational gaps that are part of what is preventing your daughter from progressing. Also look for advocacy organizations in your state that can help you insist on appropriate educational services for your daughter. We utilized PTI Nebraska for help getting the right IEP in place. Maybe your state has something like that. PTI Nebraska has been an awesome resource for us. Our district is pretty good when it comes to special education, as is our state. The state education department puts on a yearly parents encouraging parents conference for parents of kids with IEPs and the state-level honchos show up and listen to the parents for the weekend and teach them how the system is supposed to work for their kids. They even put us up in a nice hotel when we went.

    Rebecca on the Prairie
    Participant
    Post count: 1113

    We got recommendations from our church when we decided to go. There was no one at our church who could do it, but they did know the community of Christian counselors in our locale and us and were able to help us find a good match. Later, we moved to another state and joined a larger church. The new church was able to hook us up with one of the counseling pastors there. We’ve always had a strong marriage, but our children’s challenges made for some very tough going. Having someone who kept breathing life back into us as a couple and who really loved us together and helped us remember how to express the love we had for each other to each other when we were exhausted and tapped out was SO helpful to us. I hope you are able to find someone who will be on the side of your marriage and help support your union.

    Rebecca on the Prairie
    Participant
    Post count: 1113

    Kristen, you sure have a lot on your plate. Thank you for doing what you are as a nurse. I know it’s your profession, but you do have a choice and you are choosing to go to work. The hospital here is having a local aircraft company cut mask kits and our quilting group will be sewing them into masks starting this week. We had two deaths in our state yesterday and do have community spread cases in our city, so it’s just a matter of time before more people get sick here. My nephew is in AZ and is in isolation with presumed COVID-19. He’s 20, but the asthma he thought he left behind in childhood is causing him a lot of trouble breathing, so we are hoping he recovers fully and soon. My brother and sister-in-law are isolated with him and my sister and nieces, who live across the alley, can’t go over to help out because our 89-year-old mother and my brother-in-law, who lost 2/3 of his lung capacity in a military accident are part of their household.

    I’m very sorry for your loss of Aiden’s grandfather. My father died in mid summer and we had a small service for him at the National Cemetery with just our nuclear family, then held a celebration of his life in the fall when the heat wouldn’t make it so hard for his elderly friends to participate. I hope your family is able to find a way to honor his passing in a way that’s healing for Aiden.

    You are still in your big year of firsts with Aiden. Everything cyclical is the first time he’s done it in your home with you as his parent. This huge disruption of everyone’s lives is quite a challenge, but it sounds like you are addressing his fears and answering his questions truthfully. It sounds like he is gaining confidence in you and also that he feels safe enough to tell you what he is worrying about. That’s a really big thing and something that signals that you are doing well at meeting his needs.

    Our governor here has pushed for insurance companies to cover telemedicine visits at the same rate as in-person visits here. The importance of that has been that our providers are willing to do telemedicine visits because they won’t be working for free and they can continue to pay their staffs, who they still need working to support the telemedicine visits. It also means that therapists and other mental-health providers can work remotely and get paid. We have both Medicaid under adoption subsidy and private insurance through my husband’s work, so we are not stuck waiting for the Medicaid insurance carrier to allow telemedicine visits to get our son care. We can go through our private insurance and pay the copays, if necessary. If Aiden needs his therapy visits and telemedicine hasn’t been approved by AHCCCS or whatever they’re doing mental health through, now, the clinical director for your network may be able to approve payment for those services. Maybe his GAL can get the judge to order something or get that can kicked up the road. The ombudsman for the mental-health system is another possible avenue. It’s not fair to ask therapists to work without pay, but our kids need these services.

    I grew up in a time where some kids still died of the classic childhood diseases. I certainly had all of them, though there were vaccines for polio, diphtheria, tetanus, and smallpox, so I didn’t catch those. I did have German measles when I was under a month old and later, regular measles, mumps, chicken pox, whooping cough, pneumonia, and, living in AZ, valley fever. Having the measles is known to cause long term immune system challenges in some people and despite being otherwise quite healthy, I got quite sick with pretty much everything that came down the pike. I don’t catch much, now, but when I do catch something, I tend to get very sick. No one had ever heard of hand sanitizer when I was growing up. My father-in-law was paralyzed by polio in the 1940s, but a chiropractor in their little rural town did daily physical therapy with him until he regained the ability to walk. He was lucky. They were willing to try anything and it happened to work for him. Culturally, we are no longer used to seeing infectious disease as a big concern because so many previously devastating diseases have been eradicated through mass vaccination and improved public sanitation.

    It is interesting to see people’s responses to this outbreak of a disease for which we do not yet have herd immunity. Given my history, I really don’t want to catch this one and my husband’s asthma puts him at risk for complications. So we are staying home, eating in, and going out only if we have to, then coming back home ASAP. Everything at the store is “limit one,” which means I have to go out every few days. I hope they stop that soon so I can stay at home longer between milk runs. We are under a local public health directive and a lot of businesses are closed by law.

    Rebecca on the Prairie
    Participant
    Post count: 1113

    I am hopeful that by October, we will have weathered the worst of the current troubles and that Road Trip will be able to happen and provide an even bigger respite for our dads after such a challenging time.

    Rebecca on the Prairie
    Participant
    Post count: 1113

    I can’t tell you that. It is likely to get different. For one thing, CPS will be dropping out of your family’s life (assuming you will have no children left in foster care) and that will lift some stress that you may not even realize you are carrying. The uncertainty that will be with you until the ink is dry on your decree will be gone, as well. You will be able to stop writing reports every time a child skins a knee and you will be able to choose your children’s schooling, medical providers, therapists, childcare providers, and where you go on vacation without having to get someone else to agree. You will be able to maintain your home as you see fit, rather than in accordance with a set of rules that may not make any sense in your circumstances. You will be able to exercise normal parental good judgment without the automatic Monday morning quarterbacking by caseworkers, GALs, CASAs, parents’ attorneys, judges, bio parents, and others who have heretofore had a say in your parenting.

    I didn’t realize how much stress that amounted to until it was gone. I also didn’t know how much that stress was influencing my parenting decisions in a negative way, limiting my creative problem-solving, and leading me to stick with more traditionally acceptable parenting methods (love and logic, time-outs, 1-2-3 Magic, etc.) that weren’t helpful to our severely traumatized children. People in the system may talk a good game of being trauma informed, but it often doesn’t go past knowing the words “trauma informed.” Our children came from another state and our local caseworkers were pretty good, but two of their three caseworkers in their home state were unhelpful at best. Thank God for the one who approved all of the evaluations and services that enabled us to stay afloat long enough to get out of the system. I had been working in the legal end of the child welfare system for several years by the time our children arrived and had seen enough to be aware of all of the ways things could go sideways just because someone didn’t want to do their job or was trying to cover themselves. That added to my stress level. The kids’ state was still sending documents by overnight mail the day before we finalized, so we didn’t know until we arrived in court that morning whether it was really going to go forward.

    We then took our children to visit out-of-state relatives. The kids thought we were taking them to be dumped off on relatives, since this had happened to them before when they had gotten out of foster care for awhile. With each thing we were now allowed to do came more disclosures and more information about how deep our children’s fear and trauma ran. I got sick and had to be hospitalized for tests. That terrorized our children. Our children began feeling safe from being returned to their home state and started disclosing much worse abuse than we had known about. They expressed their distress in even more extreme ways than before we finalized. Therapy had already become a way of life, but it became our life. Our children decompensated to the point where we had mental-health workers in our home daily for years. We had wraparound services and our home felt like a micro residential treatment center except that we were a family. The staff took shifts, but we parents were always on duty. My husband worked outside our home and I was always with the children. We eventually schooled at home because our children were getting into potentially life-altering trouble at school and their mental-health team strongly recommended it. At times, we had help in our home for our youngest during every hour that my husband was at work to protect me from being injured.

    It’s pretty unlikely that your life is going to go like ours did. My point is that as these milestones like finalization go by, things may change, but whether they will seem better is an open question. We had a lot of very tough years ahead with our children. Being out of the CPS system was a good thing, but it was a long time for us before we reached a point where we felt confident that everyone was on the mend. We had years of therapy and supports ahead of us. There isn’t a reliable timetable. It just takes whatever it takes. We finalized on my birthday in 2009. It’s been about three years since I stopped waiting for the other shoe to drop. Last year, I started feeling more energy returning. I have only one child still at home, the older two having become self-supporting adults. I love my children and am proud of them for the way they have fought to have a life they want. I am their no-matter-what mom.

    After passing milestone after milestone and not having things get markedly better, I just accepted it and focused on trying to change myself into a mother who could better meet my children’s needs. Changing myself helped me feel less powerless and enabled me to respond more helpfully to my children. That gave me more insight into how extreme our situation was and allowed me to set priorities based on reality. When your child has the equivalent of an emotional sucking chest wound, you stop worrying about how many days he has missed at school or whether he can read. You do whatever it takes to help him get regulated and practice it until it becomes his new baseline. Then learning to read enters the realm of possibility.

    I hope your children are able to settle once your adoption is final. I hope that being out of the foster system is a big relief for all of you. I hope that you get unexhausted much, much faster than I did. I also hope that you won’t pin your hopes on the expected result of reaching any milestone. it’s always nice to be pleasantly surprised.

    Rebecca on the Prairie
    Participant
    Post count: 1113

    Maybe having your parents read some of the children’s books on the subject and even reading some of them to or with your children will help them understand and become more comfortable with that part of their grandchildren’s lives. It’s hard to know how to respond helpfully when you don’t have that experience or know what words to use. One of the points of those books is to give children and the adults who are reading the books to them language to describe the thoughts and feelings they have. Your parents feel loyalty to you in much the same way that your children feel loyalty toward their birth parents. There is grief and loss in adoption for everyone—not just the children. Language can help frame that in a way that acknowledges and paves a way forward.

    Rebecca on the Prairie
    Participant
    Post count: 1113

    Sarah, I realize that I didn’t answer your question about working outside the home. I was still practicing law (child welfare) when our children arrived as an interstate adoptive placement from foster care in a neighboring state. I took two months of maternity leave, but because I hadn’t given birth, couldn’t use any of the months of sick time I had accrued. (When you are in court daily, calling in sick isn’t an option.) I hadn’t had a vacation in years, either, so I used a lot of what I had banked. It was the beginning of summer, so we didn’t have school. I went back to work when school started. My husband switched to three-quarter time then so that we could juggle the school drop-offs and pickups and our youngest went to full-time preschool, which was not a good thing. A year later, another state budget crisis hit and they started laying off lawyers. My turn eventually came and I got payed off six weeks before we finalized our adoption. Our subsidy package came in and because our children’s needs were at the extreme end of the scale, it was enough that with some modifications to our lifestyle and my husband going back to full time, we realized that we could stay afloat. Our children’s therapist strongly recommended that I stay home with our children. Cutting out all of the expenses related to my working had a much bigger positive impact on our budget than I had anticipated it would. We didn’t get ahead, but we were able to keep our heads above water.

    I now haven’t earned an income in over ten years. We are in our twelfth year as a family. The first seven or eight years were a seemingly endless, rolling crisis—especially with our youngest. It was the most exhausting and creative period of my life. I had to change my entire personality, or at least develop parts of my personality that had previously been untapped and downplay other parts that were getting in the way of my meeting my children’s needs. I had to cope with my own traumas that I either thought I had already resolved or didn’t realize were there. I had to deal with the grief so many adoptive parents experience when the reality of adoption crashes headlong into the dream of what it would be like to be a parent. I also grieved the loss of my career and my adult relationships. The relationships we had expected to develop with other parents didn’t happen because our children weren’t like their children and our life was nothing like theirs, revolving as it did around the therapy schedule and the crisis de jur. We had huge Child and Family Team meetings and mental-health support staff in our home daily for years. So no, I didn’t work outside the home, but I never stopped working within it. I barely slept for eight years. I thought I would never feel anything other than exhaustion and whatever you call that state that’s way past exhaustion.

    I write about doing other things like painting my bathroom and growing vegetables because they mean that my life has finally taken on more dimensions than raw survival as a family. Our children are worth everything it has taken to get this far. Our children would have been worth it even if they weren’t doing okay now. It’s gravy that they are doing pretty well and much, much better than the catastrophe originally projected. We aren’t the parents we were when they arrived and I think that has helped. High nurture without licentiousness combined with high structure without rigidity takes a lot of effort and creative energy and is always in flux. Doing other creative things further develops that creativity in me. I learn lessons in my garden or sewing room that inform my parenting.

    Parenting our children also takes a lot of curiosity and wondering “why,” “how” and “what if I did something different.” What if I relinquish some of the control I think I have, without abandoning or abdicating, and see what that allows my children to do? That used to terrify me, given the tenuous nature of our relationships, but over time, I have gotten more comfortable with flexibility and have also gained confidence in my ability to recover when things go badly. The more I live through, the more I know I can live through, if necessary. Being fearful by nature (fundamental anxiety arising at least in part from being adopted myself), it’s very helpful to me to realize just how much I can actually bounce back from, though I would rather not have to. Having curiosity about myself and about my husband and children has helped my see and change things that were hindering me. It has also helped me know my children more from their perspective rather than being limited to just how I see them.

    I just got back from the vet with our other dog. The ducks have been fed. The rabbits are protected from the blustery day. The trash made it to the alley for pickup. The dishwasher just finished and the laundry can be switched. My son made it through the shower and to school this morning, though he has already texted that the nurse gave him something for his headache. I have an IEP meeting this afternoon and have to get to the pharmacy, the grocery, and order a new battery for the truck. My indoor seedlings are doing pretty well under grow lights. I’m reading slowly through a book on the history of Germany. I like history and would like to be better educated about it. The older I get, the more aware I am of how much I don’t know and we inherited thousands of books from my husband’s parents. I may as well read some of them. I still need to paint under the radiator in the bathroom and get a taller ladder in there to patch the plaster in the ceiling. This old house has high ceilings. Spring is coming and soon, my little slice of heaven-in-progress will green up and start teeming with life again.

    It will feel good to put the fresh fruits of my labor on the table to feed my family.

    Rebecca on the Prairie
    Participant
    Post count: 1113
    in reply to: Hello after Filled! #6797

    Welcome Andrea! We adopted our three siblings back when they were nine and under. Our youngest is now 16. Feel free to start new threads or to join in on our monthly chat post for periodic checkins.

    Rebecca on the Prairie
    Participant
    Post count: 1113

    Sarah, I know you know what we did that eventually made a difference for our youngest, so I won’t reiterate it. I can say that the 7-1/2 year mark, when he was turning 12, was when things began to shift in a much more positive direction. By then, we had bucked the system enough that everyone on his team both in school and in therapy was on board with the idea of dropping whatever external stressors (school) were necessary to get him to a point where he could learn to regulate. At 16, he is struggling to fill those big gaps in his education, but at least he is now capable of attending school full time and can learn. We have never seriously considered sending him to a residential program because we couldn’t see it having a positive outcome for him, so I’m not in a position to recommend residential treatment or a specific program. We are not in your shoes and made our decisions based on our children and our situation, not your children and your situation, so please don’t take this as a judgment, just a report of our experience.

    I got my son to school four out of five days this week. It took a lot of effort to get him there, since he is much bigger and stronger than I am, so influence is all I really have. I can’t force him, since I can’t physically put him in the car. My goal isn’t to control him, but to influence him to learn how to exert more and more control over himself and his choices.

    It snowed Thursday and I waited until things had cleared up to do some grocery shopping and go to the feed store. On my way home, after dark, I got a frantic call from our older son, who had dropped his keys getting out of the car at his apartment and they had slid down a storm drain. The apartment manager and fire department wouldn’t help him and the water department said they couldn’t do anything until mid-morning Friday. He and his fiancée were locked out in 20-degree weather. We got a tire iron and pry bar and went over to help him lift the manhole cover over the drain so he could reach in and grab his keys. The cover was frozen to the ground and it took both brothers working together to get it up. I now have a spare key to our son’s apartment.

    Our daughter hasn’t been over in a couple of weeks, but she is carrying on a text conversation with her dad about learning archery and how to bow fish. I just like to know that she is doing okay and still communicating regularly. She and my husband have always been close, which is great, since he has made a big effort to show her by example how a man should treat a woman with respect and consideration.

    We had to take my dog to the vet the other night. She is a thirteen-year-old husky and has a limp that had gotten a lot worse. I was worrying that she might have cancer, but it appears it’s just a flare up of arthritis in one of her elbows, treatable with medicine. My husband went with me to help me get her in and out of the car. We were talking on the way about how blessed we have been to have survived our children’s adoption and childhoods, given their condition when they arrived, and to have a marriage that is not only intact, but the strongest it’s ever been. Our children are doing well. They won’t ever be unscathed by what they’ve been through and we have made a ton of mistakes in the learning process. Even three years ago, I couldn’t imagine that we would be where we are now. Life isn’t easy, but it is manageable and much easier than it was.

    I’m still making progress on the upstairs bathroom and my indoor plant starts are doing better than I expected. I am so looking forward to getting my hands in the soil outside in a few weeks. All of the ice has finally melted from the yard and mud season is underway. My husband ordered seeds for tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants today. I need to inventory my home-canned food stores and figure out how much I need to plant to have what I will need to replenish them and feed us for next year. We are on almost a quarter acre, which includes a large house, a garage, and a big oak tree, so to grow enough to feed us for the year takes some planning. Our youngest eats for three. Growing things is a huge stress reliever for me and I get such a feeling of accomplishment from it, especially when things are challenging with the kids.

    Rebecca on the Prairie
    Participant
    Post count: 1113

    Welcome Bobbi! Feel free to join in our chat post any time to let us know what is going on, or start a new thread. I look forward to getting to know you.

    Rebecca on the Prairie
    Participant
    Post count: 1113

    Thank you, Sarah, for getting the chat post going again! I am delighted to hear that your home is more peaceful at this season. I hope that your oldest is in an environment with your parents where more of her needs are able to be met without losing her family. Love may multiply, but time doesn’t and it can become unmanageable to meet everyone’s needs. Your oldest doesn’t have a choice about needing so much and it’s wonderful to hear about an extended family pulling together to see that everyone is well cared for, including the younger children. I don’t do my best parenting of any of my children when I’m exhausted and way past the limit of what I can handle gracefully.

    Speaking of which, my youngest, who is a foot taller and 100 lbs. heavier than I, just came in, stared deep into my eyes, then poked me in the side with his finger and said “poke.” Some of those attachment rituals are really persistent. I get poked many times a day and there are times (frequent) when I want to scream JUST STOP!!! But a kiddo who searches me out to say “poke” and either fake or real poke me is what I would have given the world for back when he was raging and combative full time, so I try to keep my emotions between the lines when I get poked.

    I finished up my log cabin heart quilt and gave it to my sister-in-law who has been battling breast cancer. Now, I’m getting close to another finish on a quilt made up of diamonds with paper-pieced eight-pointed stars on a scrappy dark blue background and improv pieced diamonds in between. This one is for my son’s special ed teacher from middle school who was so instrumental in helping my son learn how to regulate. I’m going to put that super-soft plush fabric on the back so that he can let kids cuddle up in it in his office if they need to. I just have to have creative outlets or I lose my mind.

    Sarah, it’s great to hear that you got a sewing machine that you are happy with. It gives me joy to hear you talk about what you have made and how good you feel about it. One of my best quilting friends has a few Bernina machines and she swears by them. I bought my Janome through a small sewing machine shop and really appreciated buying from someone who could listen to what I wanted and tell me how to get the most for the money I had to spend. The people who service the machines usually know which ones work best.

    My husband is still working from home. I love having him in the house all day. I feel much less lonely even though he is up in his office working all day. It seems to have a settling effect on our son, too. I feel much less apprehensive about working on projects where I have the potential to get hurt, like climbing ladders and carrying stuff up and down stairs. I didn’t realize how stressed I was about avoiding injuries until my husband started working from home. He is so much more relaxed and manages his chronic pain a lot more effectively at home where he can set up his work environment to meet his needs. His productivity has gone way up. Best of all, he has a lot more energy to devote to his family relationships.

    I have been getting my seeds started indoors so that the seedlings will be ready to plant out in my garden as soon as the soil warms a bit more. Cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, collards, and lettuce. As soon as my spring veggies go outside, I will use the same trays to start my tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants. They can’t go outside until at least mid-May. We are now in the late winter/early spring ping pong weather season with 50s one day and single digits the next. Three ducks have laid all winter, but none of the others have resumed laying yet.

    Our upstairs bathroom was last painted in 1961 when my late mother-in-law painted it dark brown, with gray on the walls above the chair rail and the beige plastic tub surround. I might have won a makeover if I’d posted it to an ugly bathroom contest. I’ve been scraping copious amounts of paint and patching cracked plaster. The plaster below the chair rail was imprinted to look like subway tile, which was very popular in 1904 when the house was built. I’m priming the whole bathroom white before I paint the subway plaster with a glossier white to make it look like real tile and put a blush peachy color above the chair rail. With the dark brown mostly gone and the room brightened up as far as I’ve gotten, I can envision not gutting the whole thing for awhile and waiting until we can afford a big renovation. I was working in the attic, but my knees started hurting too much from all the stairs, so I switched to working on the bathroom.

    My youngest child has an IEP meeting next week. I’m going to get some neuropsych testing done to ensure that we have identified all of the challenges he has so that we can do appropriate transition planning as adulthood approaches. His current SpEd case manager doesn’t seem to grasp trauma or to like my son much, but since I deal mostly with his supervisor, it hasn’t been a big problem, so far. I am considering asking for a different case manager.

    Time to take my dog to the vet. Thank you again, Sarah, for getting this chat post started again. I look forward to hearing about how things are going. I also hope others will jump in and let us get to know them.

    Rebecca on the Prairie
    Participant
    Post count: 1113

    Our family life was excruciating for so many years. Now, I almost feel guilty saying that things are going reasonably well, given the circumstances. Being not completely exhausted all the time is starting to feel normal. I’ve got a new nurse case-manager to help me focus on taking better care of myself as I am approaching old age.

    I had come to accept that my hope was based on knowing that my children had accepted Christ as their lord and savior and that even if they never recovered during this life, they would most assuredly be fully healed in Heaven. Seeing them thriving this side of the grave is an unexpected and very welcome experience for which I am deeply thankful.

    Rebecca on the Prairie
    Participant
    Post count: 1113

    Life sure does change as our children move into adulthood. I both longed for and feared this time of our lives after so many years of unmitigated struggle.

    My youngest went back to school this week. One of his classmates committed suicide over the break. My son said he didn’t know the boy, but I always keep my antennae up whenever something like this happens. So far, so good. He is in more and more regular classes and is encountering the gaps in his education. He’s only been reading at or close to grade level for about a year. I wish he had been capable of taking a more traditional path, but I’m so thankful that we finally found a path to progress in the face of such hopelessness. The ideal wasn’t among our options.

    We live in a large 115-year-old house my husband inherited from his parents, along with all of its extensive contents. Our entire third floor is full of 55 years of accumulated collections. There is no heat or cooling up there, so I’m limited to spring and fall to work up there. Moving anything from there out of house involves carrying it down five flights of stairs. I have a tendency to fall on the stairs, so I don’t like to go up there when I’m alone at home. We’ve had a very mild winter, so far, so since my husband has started working from home, I’ve felt much more confident going to the third floor and separating the wheat from the chaff. I’ve carried about fifty boxes of stuff to the trash or recycle bin and I meet the trash men each time they come to get all of it into the truck. Textbooks from the 1950s have no resale value and there are no local entities that will accept donations of books, so those are going. In addition, old, heavily used toys with potentially lead-based paint and old files from the PTA need no longer occupy space up there. There are still stacks of antique furniture and partial sets of china and glassware, nice toys we will save for our future grandchildren, thousands of books, vintage clothing—pretty much an Olde Curiosity Shoppe. I decided that I wanted to store our Christmas tree up there and needed to clear a space for it. Once I got started, I just kept going.

    I’m still canning things like pot roast and chicken soup as I find meat on sale. It’s a good way to preserve it without needing freezer space and makes for easy future meals. I have well over 200 jars of food put up and there are always jars open in the fridge with pickled vegetables, jams, and sauces. I learned the science behind canning and the “why” of all of the steps, so I feel confident about the food I’m putting up. My husband likes it and if I’m going to be out when it’s his lunchtime, I can leave him a jar to open and heat up.

    Today turned snowy and windy, so I spent my early morning feeding ducks and moving trash into the alley for pickup, then went grocery shopping in case we lose power or get a bunch of snow. I moved my son’s rabbits into the basement, since our wind chills tomorrow will be in the negative teens. They need to not be too warm or the big fluctuations in temperature can make them sick. The ducks will be fine, since they have plenty of shelter from the wind. Three are still laying daily and we have plenty of eggs right now. All that’s left in the garden are carrots and daikon radishes, since they are underground.

    This is the first winter in four years that I haven’t had some kind of surgery. I’m working on going easier on myself, eating better, and improving my level of fitness. I’ll be 60 this year, so I feel that I’m past the point in life when taking on any optional stress seems like a good idea. I’m glad I have learned as much as I have about not escalating things and choosing only the most important battles. I’ve gotten pretty comfortable with the messiness of life and have found that tolerance for dissonance has led to more finesse and confidence in my instincts when it comes to my children.

    Rebecca on the Prairie
    Participant
    Post count: 1113
    in reply to: Back again… #6754

    Welcome back, Sarah! I missed you, but am glad that your absence was an indication that you were having some easier times. I look forward to catching up with you.

    We have only one of our three children under our roof, now, since our 19-year-old daughter moved to her own apartment in May. She is working full time and training in auto body work, which she loves. Our elder son, 20, graduated from community college a year ago and started his career as an electrician. He and his fiancée will be getting married in June. Our youngest is a high school sophomore and is doing remarkably well. He is in mostly special ed classes, but he has passed reading proficiency for graduation, which makes me so happy, as we were told when he was nine that he had borderline intellectual functioning and would never be able to read or count. He is emotionally regulated almost all the time and goes to school full time. There are bumps in the road, but at least there is a road, now, after so many years of trailblazing through no-man’s land.

    Welcome back, again!

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