Thursday, May 31, 2012

Right Between the Eyes

So, it's been quite a couple of weeks. Isn't it "funny" how the more you have to report, the less time you have to report it, and vice-versa? So, I went overnight from the girl with the over-sized chair, iPad and Netflix, to the girl in the midst of dealing with transitions on all fronts, and the harsh realities of them. Elderly parents and their rapidly changing needs. Graduating child and her changing needs. Planning for a special needs child to be a special needs adult. And in my free time, I've been preparing for my own cataract surgery, because nothing says Break from All the Hell like a good surgery.

Just this week I've taken reams and reams of paper and sat down with a brand new developmental pediatrician, and a county case worker, and gone through Rojo's history, from the beginning. Let me just say that one more time for giggles: from. the. beginning. I've had meetings about transitional services, I've learned new acronyms: PA, ID, PLEP, ILP, ISP, VR, DDS, SSI.

It's been brutal.

And it's been beautiful.

I've spent more time with my in-laws in the last 2 weeks than ever before. Daily, and sometimes all-day. I've been a first-hand witness to what a good 60-year marriage looks like - how two people that are more concerned for the other, than they are for themselves, is a testimony to all that's right with the world.

And the angels. Oh, boy, don't let me forget to tell you about the angels. Angels disguised as doctors, nurses, CNAs, orderlies, case workers, social workers, workshop leaders, PTs, OTs, speech therapists, roommates and the roommate's family, on an on the list goes.

Through each difficult day the angels have appeared, one after another and sometimes all at once. Whole hosts of angels.

The reality of my life and what the next few years, at least, are going to look like, is hitting me right between the eyes, and that reality is that there are good people in the world that want to help.

And do.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I am going to take a blogging break while I help with a loved one that is in the hospital. No need to worry, but your prayers are appreciated!


Friday, May 18, 2012

Happy birthday to STM! Nothing says happy birthday like a post about IEPs! Come join me at Hopeful Parents!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Three Kinds of People

I used to think I wanted to be famous. I don't anymore. None-the-less, in my tiny corner of the world, I've become so. I can hardly step foot out of my house without someone spotting me and saying, "I loved your Letter to the Editor! Thanks for helping with the poop problem!" I put a letter in our neighborhood area paper and apparently everyone but the people I needed to read it, read it.

Yes, ladies and gentleman, I've become the poop police. For whatever reason (and believe me, I've given this WAY too much thought), in the last few months there have been an alarmingly high number of abandoned dog poop bags in our neighborhood. I don't get it - you walk your dog, you've bothered to bring a bag in the first place, you've scooped it up, turned the bag carefully inside out, tied a knot in the bag, and THEN you just put the bag somewhere else? You don't hold it until you find a garbage can or take it home with you? Really?


Recently I went on a 4-mile walk and found seven such bags. Without giving your TMI, let's just say they came from a wide variety of dogs. I finished my walk holding all seven bags and giving everyone something to talk about as I strolled through the neighborhood, laden with poop.

Favorite places to leave these bundles are next to signs, near fire hydrants, or in what appears to be obscure parts of other people's yards. Today I walked and saw a plastic bag with a note inside (I was all prepared to pick it up and throw it away, sure it was liter) and the note said: To Whom it May Concern: Please do not leave your dog's poop bag here."

Mind blowing.

My favorite was the New Seasons produce bag filled with poop and placed at the local grade school right next to a sign that said "School Zone." Obviously, a conscientious produce shopper. Obviously, not a conscientious neighbor.

Our friend Tom, in response to the problem, bought three garbage cans, cut holes in them, and placed signs on them that said, "Poop Can." He then chained the cans down in three strategic locations and has taken it upon himself to empty the cans and pay to have the garbage hauled away.

There seem to be three types of people in this world: Those that leave poop bags for someone else to pick up. Those that don't create a problem, and those that solve the problems created by others.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Seventeen and Counting

There are a thousand things to like about the new program Rojo is in. A thousand. Not the least of which is peer mentors. When we were exploring similar programs across the country, peer mentors was an aspect that especially appealed to us because of the obvious win:win.

As this year draws to a close, I want to make sure to thank all of Rojo's various peer mentors, homework helpers, lunchroom buddies, assistants, etc. Asked him to help me form a list and Woohoo chimed in - thought we got 'em all - thirteen. Decided as an added precaution to run the list by his teachers to make sure we didn't miss anyone. Indeed, we'd missed four. The boy has seventeen people that throughout the course of a week, assist him in some way. Seventeen. And that's not counting any of the teachers and staff.

He needs every last one of them.

And they need him.

As the teachers prepare for next year, they put it out to the incoming juniors and seniors that might have a free period to assist in the program. Twice as many applied as there are spots.

It feels good to help. For some of these kids they are used to school, learning, social situations, etc. being easy. For some, not so much. It is arguable which population of helper is most helped.

Win:win. What's not to love about that?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Good Bye

This is Dr. David Willis. You can also go ahead and call him our guru, our healer, our leader, our friend, our counselor, our behavioral/developmental pediatrician, our beloved. We got word this week that he is leaving his practice here in Portland and accepting a giant job in Washington D.C., where I am certain he will change the world. Fortunately, we had an appointment with him the day before the letters arrived in the mail. We were able to hug, cry, and tell him what he's meant to us all these years: everything.

His leaving is a huge loss to not just us, but hundreds, possibly thousands of people in this area. I spoke to his scheduler yesterday, she is receiving between 18-20 calls an hour from freaked out parents.

I have written about Dr. Willis before on my blogs, it is impossible to tell our story, without talking about him. In my most recent memoir, he is mentioned several times. The man is an angel and like all good angels, he fell into our laps. He came to us. There are no accidents and this was no exception, when we were completely upside down fourteen and a half years ago, he came to us.

It is important that I remember that Dr. Willis found us, Flicka found us, lots and lots of angels have found us and will continue to. There is no scarcity. There is nothing to fear.

But there are good byes.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Casper and Jasper

So, when Rojo turned 15 last July, we got him a cell phone. Said cell phone promptly got named, Casper, and became an appendage. Rojo was never without it except to sleep, where it then lay on the kitchen counter charging, so he'd have it bright and EARLY the next morning. We had to set up some rules, "Don't text ANYONE more than 5 times a day." (I believe Nancy holds the record at 62 texts in one day. Most of them the same text sent multiple times, as she had the audacity to be driving when he wanted her Right. That. Minute.) Another rule was, "No texting before 7:00 AM on the weekdays, and 8:00 AM on the weekends."

The point of him having a phone was to be able to reach him when he was over at the dog park, and for him to be able to reach us, should there be a problem. For the most part, he is excellent about responding to our calls and texts, but there have been times when he's had it on silent, "So nobody would bother him," thus, completely making the whole point of having a cell phone, well, pointless.

We were smart and bought the insurance for Casper, knowing that the reality was, the phone was going to get lost, broken, or dropped in a toilet. We had several 24-hour periods where Casper went missing, always to be found by me, of course, in the most unlikely places.

Last Friday I picked Rojo up from school and he had Casper. He told me the weather forecast for the next 5 days. He told me the frozen yogurt flavors they posted on his favorite place's Website. He texted his friends. He had the flippin' phone. Then it disappeared. Completely went missing. We checked the car. Three times each. We moved seats, pulled out all the crap in there and tore the thing apart - no phone. We/I tore the house apart. Under beds, every drawer, closet and cupboard, behind cushions, you name it. No Casper.

I told him it had to be missing three days before ordering him a new phone. On day #4 I called, plunked down the $45 replacement fee, and was instructed it would be at our house between 7 AM and 6 PM the next day - and a signature would be required to receive it. I cleared my calendar. I stayed home all damn day. I didn't even go in the backyard to pull weeds in case the doorbell rang and I didn't hear it. I showered and dried my hair prior to 7 just so that wouldn't interfere with anything. I cancelled my walk with a friend. I arranged someone else to pick up Rojo and his friend from school. Finally, about 3:00 PM UPS came, I ran to meet the driver. He handed me the package and jumped back in his truck.

"What? No signature? That's it? I can just have it?"

"No, you're all good," he said.


I set about activating the new phone, entering in all the contact information I had in my phone, that I knew he'd want in his. When he got home from school it was all ready to go. "Oh, Jasper, you're here! I love you, Jasper!" He immediately took Jasper and headed down to see his dogs and their owners.

Yesterday, I had to give STM's parents a ride in my car, and I opened up the back door and moved the towel that is in there for Flicka to lie on, and there was the flippin' phone. I looked under that towel once. Twice. Three times. Possibly four. Or maybe five. That phone was NOT under that towel, then it was. Just like that.

It's silly to get all worked up about a lost cell phone and the better part of a week spent looking for it. Sometimes what we need to do is stop looking for what alludes us, and let it find us.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I'd Write a Post but I'm Too Busy...

* Ordering Rojo college mascot T-shirts for his birthday in 2 months

* Stepping over a box that came in the mail last week, that I don't want to deal with

* Doing other people favors

* Making To Do lists for everyone and their dog

* Vacuuming dog hair

* Hauling all the missing water bottles, travel mugs and dishes from Woohoo's room

* Trying to figure out a way that people have to pay me for my good advice, in the hopes that they'd actually take it, then

* Raging against our health insurance company that is totally changing our plan and there doesn't appear to be anything we can do about it

* Doing all of the above instead of investigating other insurance options

* Being stuck at home waiting for the UPS driver to deliver Rojo's replacement phone, because the world has stopped spinning and won't start up again until he gets back to texting and checking the weather forecast every 2 seconds

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Top 10 Things You Don't Know, and Really Should

10. Woohoo decided which college she's going to on April 11th, dragged it out for further parental torture, and committed on April 15th, herein after known as The Happiest Day of My Life.

 9. Woohoo will be going to a small, Catholic university because we are small, Catholic school kind of people, and if it ain't broke, don't fix it. Plus, we're made of money.

 8. Woohoo had a great birthday, start to stop!

 7. She had Late Start at school, so we had her family party at 7:00 AM, complete with balloons, flowers, a million small but thoughtful presents (think: voter's registration card), and chocolate cake with the candles 1 and 8 on it.

 6. Wednesdays are always her easiest day of school because of the schedule on Wednesdays (do not ask me to explain the schedule that after four years of trying to learn, I have not, and Rojo learned in about 4 minutes).

 5. They had her favorite lunch in the cafeteria (you didn't think I packed her a nutritious meal to take with her each morning, did you?).

 4. She had her last home track meet and all the seniors were announced, they stepped forward and gave their parents one rose.

 3. It stayed dry throughout the whole L-O-N-G track meet AND she PRd (she does javelin).

 2. After the meet she, her boyfriend (yes, he's still in the picture), and two friends from track, all went out for a birthday dinner at Macaroni Grill. Ironically, she went to grade school with the two friends (one boy, one girl) but never really connected with then, and now, lo and behold, with a month left of high school, has.

 1. She bought a lottery ticket today, because she could. She got carded. Remember the thrill of getting carded the first time you are legal, and the pride you have in whipping out that driver's license and showing the world you're 18? Yea, me, too.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day

I've always loved May Day. I love the flowers in full bloom. I love the longer days. I love that it's the first day in the month of Mary - a whole month just for Her. I love that our friend Tom was born on May Day. I love that my daughter was born on May 2nd, and May Day was the day I transitioned from not being a parent, to being one, eighteen years ago today.

May Day this year has had particular importance because it's the day high school seniors must commit to the college they are going to. I can't remember the name for it - but there is one - basically, all offers expire on May Day if you haven't committed.

A day of committal.

As I free fall into turning 50, I am well aware of my commitments, and becoming ever more aware of what is not a true commitment, but rather a neurosis. Something I do because I've always done it, not because it needs to be done.

I am committed to touching with gentle awareness the difference.

Sorry Not Sorry

I'm sorry I keep pointing you towards BrenĂ© Brown's podcast,  Unlocking Us , but I'm not that  sorry.* I've appreciated ever...