Oregon Trail

Location: Oregon, United States

Monday, February 26, 2007

Are we having fun yet?

Well, yes and no. Here's some reasons why:

Stephen's no answers: The end of Terabithia caught him off guard, even though he had been warned. Still, we think it will grow on him. Then last night at 3 a.m., he woke up and puked all over the bathroom. Ugh.

Stephen's yes answers: He got to go to a birthday party on Saturday at the local indoor pool. He had a GREAT time, loved the pool, made some more friends and couldn't stop talking about it. We also went to see The Bridge to Terabithia, which he mostly enjoyed. Today he is staying home from school (see below for an explanation).

Also, we met with school personnel re: whether or not he qualifies for assistance. The good news is, that he is truly doing well, with only a few rough spots: spelling, self esteem and interpersonal relationships. Since spelling is the only academic area of concern, we will be addressing his needs by continuing his involvement in a lunch group and expanding his opportunities for socializing. I will also work with him on phonics at home. We have signed him up for a play, Alice in Wonderland, through the park and rec system and he is the second person on the waiting list. We also got a great book from one of the school counselors called Pumsy the Dragon. It is about a dragon whose best friend is Stephen (!) and how they learn to take control of thoughts that get them feeling down. Excellent book.

Thomas would like to have more time to interact with his friends, so he is not having enough fun. Actually, this is a beautiful thing because it shows that he is healing from the grief and loss of the move. We are approaching our one year anniversary in April and only now is he beginning to be able to reach out.

Thomas' answers: Thomas is having more fun lately because he's finally gotten plugged into the Wednesday night youth group at our church. This enabled him to make some real connections and he reported that he made seven friends the first night. The material they are covering is perfect for middle school issues as well and offers some great discussion opportunities. He is also enjoying playing on the computer as a character in Gaia, an online interactive game/society. Very interesting to watch him interact there - kind of a dry run for real life. For those of you concerned re: online predators, we do keep an eye on this site and what goes on there. There were a couple of other sites that were just plain rude to newcomers and we pulled the plug on them immediately. This one has been good so far. Thomas and his friends answer anyone's question re: where they live with, "FREAK!" and then they run away.

William is not having fun because some kid at school wrote nasty comments and symbols on his sweatshirt during a movie in class. However, he handled it really well, reported it to the Dean, and didn't fall apart at home which is what I would have expected. Very cool.

He is having fun playing Zelda on the wii. Almost too much fun according to his mother. He also has fun helping me cook and he's really good at it.

Paul is traveling as we mentioned in our last entry. He says he's not having fun. I would like to not have fun like that sometimes.

I am not having fun because I am the one that gets to clean up after people who throw up all over the bathroom. Note: not just all over the bathroom floor, but all over everything. The walls, the toilet, the pajamas, the shower curtain, the heat vent. Every time I go in there I find a spot I missed. Ugh. I am also the one that gets to clean up after the dog when she has an accident in the house. She has done this twice over the weekend due to a change in our routine (I am trying to transition her into using the dog run so she doesn't go in the garden area but she doesn't understand.) So I called the trainer we went to when we first got her and we are back on track. Ugh again. Lastly, I am not having fun because Safe Haven's opening has been delayed yet again. I hate waiting.

I am having fun meeting the new people I will be working with when Safe Haven opens up. I'm also having fun seeing the daffodils and crocus bloom in February and dreaming of gardening ideas. I've sworn to myself that I won't actually plant anywhere that I don't have irrigation figured out, so that helps me keep it simple and do-able. And I'm in painting mode as well - Stephen's room and the dining room are done. Now I need to rent a tall ladder and get the living room painted. Very fun! Can you tell I've been taking my vitamins? :)

Random other notes: Anita, Paul's mom, is well enough to go to Florida and has tickets to leave this weekend! Holy moly Rocky, that is great news!!!

Also, as I mentioned above, our one year anniversary here is approaching. In some ways, it feels like five years, in other ways it is hard to believe a year has passed. Each of us is making the transition the best we can and I am truly happy to say that, while we still grieve the losses of friends, family and snow in Minnesota, we are finding our places here.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Catching Up

Last time I wrote, Anita had just gotten home from the hospital. Since then, it has been a whirlwind of arranging 24 hour care, figuring out finances and insurance coverage, emailing and conference calling all the siblings, and so on and so on and so on. The short story is, we have found an agency that will send a caregiver to Anita's home 24 hours a day. This is a huge relief. Anita is slowly feeling better since her bout with pneumonia, but has had a couple of setbacks as well. She is trying to get strong enough to go to Florida, which is a great motivator for her.

Thomas is in our news again this week, as he made the honor roll at his school. They had a little breakfast for all the students and their parents and handed out the bumper stickers - how cool is that? I haven't put it on the car yet, though, because something inside me wants to say "Proud parent of three boys who do their very best with their gifts despite occasional great and small obstacles". Ah, well.

The Police are in my news for two reasons: Number One, they are back together for a Reunion Tour!!! Now this is DEFINITELY cool!!! Truly, this is one concert I would go see - and I can sing along with every song! Now to find affordable tickets... DA DOO DOO DOO, DA DA DA DA...

Reason number two is that I got to give my presentation to the local police as a part of their training. MOST interesting, with some good interaction between the officers and me. They had some really great questions and concerns but they also had some pretty classic stereotyping going on. My hope is that, after I've done all eight sessions over the year, we will have come to some mutual understanding.

My job is beginning to morph into my role at the transitional living facility we are opening called Safe Haven. We hope to have the first person move in next week. For me, it will mean more hours, better pay, my own clients, and working very close to home. It will also mean fewer outreach hours and time with my co-worker in that area, which I will sorely miss. We have gotten to know each other quickly through all our hours in the car and have enjoyed a lot of laughter as well as clinical discussion regarding the various ins and outs of our clients personae.

One interesting thing about working at Safe Haven is how another piece of my puzzle is being put into place. Oftentimes with me, I will have a definite sense of peace about a path to take or a decision I need to make but have no idea why. When I was in school for my Masters, my first Field Placement at the Interprofessional Center (IPC) was one that I did not really choose. (It was not available when we put in our applications and all of my choices did not work out.) When I was informed that I could either begin the application process again or take the position at the IPC working with asylum seekers, I jumped at the chance both professionally and personally, since I love working with the immigrant population and hate the application process. And I kept thinking, "Hmm. This is not what I would have chosen. What is God up to? Hmm..." That was the first year of the IPC's existence, which was an experience in and of itself - brand new concept, brand new program - everything. It is through this program that I also got my exposure to youth work. I'm still hooked on that, which I do now through HomePlate. And now, here I am beginning again in a brand new program that utilizes a brand new concept with only a few models to follow. Hmm.

Stephen would want to say, "Gong Hay Fat Choy!!!" or, "Happy New Year" in Chinese. It is the year of the Pig, very auspicious. We celebrated by making Chinese food - steamed buns with barbecue pork, noodle soup, Pocky and Koala cookies - and watching a Jackie Chan movie. Next year, we would like to go to the Chinese Garden here and see the dragon dance.

Paul is in travel mode right now. He had the opportunity to go to Minneapolis last week for business, then spent the weekend with his mom. Now he is in D.C. at the Ritz Carlton "special business rate, that's how we got to stay here" and a daily food budget that could feed our entire family and more. Okay, yeah, I'm a little jealous. My bed sags in the middle. I used the lint remover roller to get rid of dog hair that mysteriously appeared on my pillow, up my nose, and in my mouth. We ate at Burgerville last night and thought that was really cool. Woo. Two of the kids developed low-grade fevers and stayed home from school. I juggle working and parenting by phone. BUT, I also painted the dining room and caught up on my blogging. Really, I don't know which of us is having more fun!