Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Need a Vacation to Recover from Vacation!

Well, I survived vacation, the days away from family and friends and alone with my husband was wonderful! We had a wonderful Anniversary/Father's Day.  The weather was fantastic!  Couldn't ask for better and even with the knowledge that Dani was safe and having a wonderful time was helpful too!  She arrived in Burbank in one piece, had a wonderful time and even her trip home, with the layover in Vegas was fantastic.  SouthWest Airlines is the only way I will fly from now on.  They were so prepared for her and someone was there every step of the way.  I had no reason to worry...yea right, ask a mom not to worry?  But she is home now and it's back to normal life.  But today I find myself extremely exhausted.  All I want to do is sleep.  Which after I am done with this entry I will probably go lay down again.

Dani's trip was wonderful for her.  She got to spend some much needed time with one of her favorite sisters.  They did shopping, worked on her hair and make-up, went to Magic Mountain, to the beach and I knew she was safe and sound.  When she got off the plane last night I was prepared to see her hair all funky but they dyed it black and she had clip on pink streaks.  I thought she looked cute,! I'll put the picture in once it get it off my camera tonight.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Traveling with FASD...Let Us Pray!

As we all know, tomorrow morning Dani takes a jet plane to Southern California by way of Oakland then down to Burbank.  Then when she comes home she leaves Burbank, stops in Vegas for a two hour layover.  TWO HOUR LAYOVER...DO YOU REALIZE HOW MUCH FEAR THAT PUTS INTO MY HEART AND SOUL?  I AM SO NERVOUS I AM DRIVING MY WHOLE FAMILY NUTS! Anyway, Dani and I went through her suitecase day before yesterday and by the time I got things pulled out, her suitecase literally lost probably 5-10lbs.  Kids with FASD have no conception of what is right and wrong to pack, they just "feel a need, fill that need".  So not only did she pack her clothes (good job Dani) she had packed two rolls of duct tape, a knee brace, wrist brace, and an ace bandage.  Then there was a huge jewelery box with key for her bracelets she is making.  I just had to smile because to her that was so important, but it was a learning lesson too.  We got things fixed and ready to go.

Now the fear part.  I don't worry about her traveling there because she just stops in Oakland, doesn't get off the plane and continues to Burbank.  The way home?  So this is what I have done.  When your kids travel alone call the airline and have them make a note on the passenger list, with their name.  They have special categories for disabilities or disabled passengers.  For Dani it was "developmentally delayed". That gives the crew a heads-up about my daughter.  Second, the child does not go to the plane alone.  As long as the parent and the other person on the other end of the trip, has a copy of the itinerary, along with a valid form of ID, that person can go to the plane.  But when you go to the check-in to pick up or drop off, strongly mention your child has special needs.  That is how Dani is being picked up in Burbank.  My daughter has her itinerary and id, but only one person is allowed back there.

So in Vegas, this is what I have planned.  As soon as Dani gets off the plane she is to turn on her phone.  I have a printed out map of the terminal that houses SouthWest Airlines.  I will already know ahead of time what gate she will be at.  And I will be able to guide her to where she is to go.  I already also know where the eating places are, restrooms, etc so even though I am up here in Utah, I will still be connected.  Second plan...I have written out a brief note that Dani can hand to any airline personnel that briefly explaines who I am, that my daughter is FASD and she needs help finding her gate and if that person can't help at least guide her as best as possible.  But I am hoping more for the phone call.  Thank God for cell phones.  She has a preloaded debit card that is all her own, case in her wallet, some hiding for the trip back and some for when she gets there.  Then there is the emergency medical treatment card, that's all done and since my husband and I will be in the mountains, my oldest daughter will be our representative until we are located. 

So I think I've got all the bases covered.  My sweet husband asked if I will be able to relax once she is on the plane and my response?   Hell yes!  That is until the time comes when she leaves, which we will be on our way home from camping.  Wish us luck!

Monday, June 14, 2010

I Knew It...I Knew It...I KNEW IT!

Well, I knew it, like I mentioned before, just when things are going good, and I mean real good, I kicked right in the gut.  And maybe I am taking this too hard because I knew it would happen but it doesn't make it any easier.

Over the weekend I went to Costco and bought two tubs of the most delicious pasta salad.  It's one of Dani's favorite snack foods...anyway, she gobbled the first container and I told her she wasn't to have any of the second one, leaving it for dad and I.  Today being Monday, the funds are pretty limited right now and Dani had made a list of things she needed for her upcoming trip to California and we needed some groceries.  I gave her a choice, food or her stuff, she choose stuff. So we are on our way home from the craft store and she asks what is for dinner, I said "what a minute, you had your choice, food or stuff and you choose stuff".  She said "oh, that's right".  I said "besides there is chicken and pasta still at home...there still is pasta right?" She said "well dad had some this morning and he said the noodles were brown and for me to throw it away."  I called dad and he said he didn't even have any but noticed that Dani was snacking on it last night...after I went to bed.  So, when we pulled into the driveway I checked the garbage and sure enough, the container was there and just a little was left in the container, the noodles looked great.  I had just spent close to $50.00 on her to get her on her trip and she lied to me.  Now I understand that lying is a part of the FASD world, but come on...I was sooo looking forward to having some pasta and chicken.  Talk about feeling like a "SUCKER"!  So right now, I am not even talking to her, I don't know what to say!  I knew what reality dictates but it doesn't take away the feelings a parent has when the other shoe drops.  So can I just say "I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE PLANE TO LEAVE FRIDAY MORNING" And it will be five wonderful days with just my husband.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

To Be Young Again...

This is Danielle and two of my granddaughters, Kaitlyn and Kyla.  We just arrived at the Tree House in Ogden.  The Tree House is a different version of the children's museum.  I've never been there since they moved it and renovated, it was quite awesome.  There was so much activity today and so much to see, the kids were really excited.  I enjoyed being mom and grandma, just walking around, taking pictures and looking at the smiles on the kids faces.

Of course this gave Danielle a chance to let her hair down and not worry so much about being 15 years old.  Here she is being creative as always with drawing dinosaurs.

Danielle thought this was cool a way to get in connection with her African/American ancestry.  Actually, Danielle loves anything that has to do with music.  When we were done, we all went out for ice cream.  But before we got to the Tree House we spent some time at Costco, not only doing some shopping but also getting a hot dog/drink/or pizza for lunch.

Friday, June 11, 2010

WOW! What's That Smell?

After a long day at work, and I mean long, on the way home I kept going over in my mind what was in my freezer to make for dinner.  There was the usual phone calls from Dani asking when I would be home and I gave the usual answer..."You'll see me when you see me".  But when I walked into the house and deposited my shoes and belongings, Dani had me sit down on the couch, she gave me the Wii remote and said "Relax mom, I'm cooking dinner".  My first thought was "oh, oh...what did she do now?" But I was wrong...she had a wonderful conversation with her brother Aaron during the day and feeling pretty good about herself.  And I have to admit...dinner was VERY GOOD!  She made her own rendition of Chicken Alfredo.

There has been a big change in Dani ever since her relationship with her dad has improved and then this new fresh relationship with her brother.  That big hole that was festering in her soul is healing.  But we are still taking things one day at a time because this could be the "high" before the "low".  Everything happens in cycles with these FASD kids, at least in the older group I've found.

Tomorrow we are spending sometime in the afternoon with my granddaughters (Dani's nieces) at "The Tree House" in Ogden.  It's like a children's museum...but better.  This is where Dani can let her teenage years melt away and be the kid that she tries so hard to contain.  Makes me sad to see that because society dictates how a person should act, even with disabilities.  So I am looking forward to letter her hair down, literally!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Sad Day...Happy Day...

Ever since our first contact with Danielle's brother, Aaron, I have been communicating a lot with his case worker in Texas with the high hopes of somehow, someway, Aaron could come home to us.  Especially since Aaron should have never gone down to his Great-Grandma's in the first place...that in itself is along sad story.  But to make a long story short, in talking to his case worker yesterday (which she has received a promotion, way to go Heather) and is moving on, she had to refer me to her supervisor, which of course I wrote the same familiar email as I did for Heather in the beginning but tweeked it a little since Dani and I have been talking to Aaron.  But I was told that the placement that has started needs to continue, this family has come in and choosen Aaron and they are excited.  And Aaron needs to go to that family, even though there are family ties with us, mainly his little sister.  My heart and soul is crying, not only for the loss of my little boy 10-11 years ago, but the loss again today.  Which is ok!  I told her that I would not get in the way of the placement and pray that things will work out but if somewhere down the road it doesn't to place call me.  She said she would.  So now it is our job to encourage Aaron to get to know his new family and get involved and that Dani isn't going anywhere...then why do I feel like crap?  I guess I will just have to practice what I preach..."FAKE IT TILL I MAKE IT!".  And if Aaron's new parents ever read all have my support and prayers.

The communication between Aaron and Dani has been so wonderful!  Seldom does he ask for me but once and that was to cry a little on my shoulder that some kids were teaching him...calling him "slow".  Luckily I knew how to handle that because of the challenges I have with Danielle.  But the main point is that Danielle has blossomed and she feels like that hole in her soul is filled.  How wonderful is that?  And I am sure Aaron feels the same way.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Kumbaya My Lord...Kumbaya!

I am singing this little song to calm myself down, which I am pretty proud of myself at this momen. It is so tough to have a teen-ager home for the summer, especially since I have to work.  How do you mom's survive with staying home with your kids...are there federally funded programs out there that I am not aware of?  If there are, please share, I would love to be home with my teen!  How do you survive on one income!

One of our rules is that Dani has to have her chores done by the time I get home.  Especially extra good today since she wanted to go to Old Navy for her bathing suit and then hang at the mall with a friend.  I did my inspection and the kitchen counters were not clean, pots and pans will soaking, dirty dishes on the one counter, trash barrel not even taken out to the curb...need I say more?  Then she gets all mad at me, raising her voice that she doesn't understand why I judged her and why I get away with leaving some dishs in the sink.  I tried to explain to her (and this is where I am proud of myself because I did not raise my voice) that when she works a 10 hour a day job then maybe I can be more relaxed about things, but since she is home all day, sittin' on her butt, watching TV then she can take more time to do the jobs right.  But she can not compare herself to me since I am 52 and she is just 15 years old.  This is where I put our plan of action into play.  I calmly asked her to go to her room, saying this was not a punishment but a time out for me.  Her reply..."I don't have to".  Second time I calmly repeated myself, her reply..."why don't you"? Third time, calmly still, I said "this is your last chance, either go to your room or get in the car and we are going to McKay Dee Hospital.  She got up, stormed away while throwing her purse at me.  She did finally go into her room, I picked up the purse and unlocked my bedroom door and as I was placing her purse into my room, she said "don't you dare put my purse into your room" (screaming at me again).  That's when I closed and locked the door and walked away.  She went into her room and slammed her door and I mean slam.  Everything vibrated!

The main point here is I used our plan that my husband and I came up with and agreed on.  My blood pressure did rise just a little but not much and I am feeling pretty calm, but wondering what is coming next. So as you can guess, no Old Navy and no hanging at the mall.  Too sad!

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Vampire Waiter?

In my conversation with Aaron a few days ago, he was relating some of his happy memories and this picture was one of them.  He remembered dressing up as a "Vampire Waiter".  The waiter part was the red apron his sister Brenna loaned him for the night.  He was so cute, he acted the part too!


I ran into a stranger as he passed by,"Oh excuse me please' was my reply.
He said, "Please excuse me to; I wasn't waching for you."

We were very polite this strange and I. We went on our way and we said goodbye.

Later that day, cooking the evening meal, My daughter stood beside me very still.

When I turned, I nearly knocked her down."Move out of the way," I said with a frown.
She walked away, her little heart broken. I didn't realize how harshly I'd spoken.

While I lay awake in bed, God's still small voice came to me and said,
"While dealing with a stranger, common courtesy you use,
but the family you love, you seem to abuse".

"Go and look on the kitchen floor, You'll see some flowers there
by the door...those are the flowers she picked for you. She
picked them herself; pink, yellow and blue."
"She stood very quietly not to spoil the surprise, you never
saw the tears that filled her little eyes"

By this time, I felt very small and now my tears
began to fall.

I quietly went and knelt by her bed; "wake up little one,
wake up", I said.
"Are these the flowers you picked for me?"
She smiled and said, "I found 'em out by the tree. I picked 'em
because they're pretty like you. I knew you'd like 'em
especially the blue."

I said "Honey, I'm very sorry for the way I acted today; I shouldn't
have yelled at you that way."
She said "Oh, Mom, that's okay I love you anyway".
I said "Honey, I love you too, and I do love the flowers, especially the blue".


Are you aware that if we died tomorrow, the company that
we work for could easily replace us in a matter of days?
But the family we left behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives.
And come to think of it, if we pour ourselves more into work
than into our own family, it would be unwise investment indeed,
don't you think?

So what is behind the story?
Do you know what the word FAMILY means?

FAMILY = (F)ather (A)nd (M)other (I) (L)ove (Y)ou

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Appointment Day and Random Thoughts!

Today was our follow up doctor appointment with Dani's psychiatrist.  I think this was one of her best visits.  Her meds are doing good, Dani is a regular sassy teenager!  Just time to do some blood work, which she loves!  Especially since we make it a tradition to go to Einstein Bagels after for breakfast.  But the best thing was Dani sharing her conversation she had with her brother.  Dani's doctor is the one who diagnosed Aaron in the first place all those years ago as being BiPolar and she just couldn't get over the picture I showed her.  How handsome he is and how much they look alike.  I still can't get over it myself.

But with the connection between brother and sister, there was so much healing for Dani and I am sure there was for Aaron, the missing puzzle piece has been found.  Dani feels so much more at peace with herself.  I know that feeling all to well, I was adopted when I was a couple of months old myself, I know that feeling all to well of not belonging.  I am one of those kids that found my natural mother when I turned 18.  And the peace I felt then is what I am sure what Dani is feeling today and along with Aaron.  In talking to his case worker, she said he was esctatic and feeling better about things.

So, where do we go from here?  Not sure...hopefully we will meet up, secretly I am hoping his new adoption doesn't go through, I would love to have him come home...but it's in the Lord's hands now!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

This is for you Aaron!

These are just a few pictures I found so far with Aaron, Danielle and family.  I have another box with more pictures in them and it's in storage so I'll find it.  But thought you might like to see these pictures.

So that everyone knows who reads my blog...we talked to Aaron today.  In fact he mainly talked to his little sister Danielle.  I could not believe how wonderful it was talking to him and how much he sounds like Danielle.  I know that these two making that connection has done wonders for both of them. I was also amazed at the memories he still has, he remembered things I had forgotten about, for instance, in his first soccer game, he made a goal, but it went into the wrong goal...but we were still very proud of him.  And the green eggs I made one St. Patrick's Day...he said he can't eat eggs ever since then.  Of course he asked me the questions that are dreaded, like why did we give him up?  Why did I keep Dani and not him, very hard questions that he deserved to have the answers to.

So where do we go from here?  He has our phone number at home, he is allowed to call three times a week and Dani to call him, and we will take it step by step.  God is good, I feel very blessed these two kids were able to reconnect after 12 years.