Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Random Updates

Its been forever and a half since I actually wrote a blog. So here are a few of our biggest most recent updates.

We recently had Parent Teacher Conferences for the kids. Damon's went very well. He is struggling with writing so they are getting some assistive technology to help him out. Everything else he is doing great in. So great, in fact, they think he may be ready to go back our home district! If he can go this next school year, with a new teacher, and continue to do as well as he has been then he will start back at our elementary school the following year, 5th grade! So he is excited about that and about going to the same school as Brooke.

Brooke's Parent Teacher Conference went well, also. When she first started Kindergarten, the school was kind of hesitant and wanted me to keep her back a year because of her birthday. She had turned five on the 18th and started school the 22nd. So they were concerned that she may not be ready. I thought she was ready and started her anyway. I am glad I did. I cant imagine her being in Kindergarten right now. She is loving 1st grade and is reading at a 2nd grade level. She is doing so well that they see her being at a 3rd grade level by the end of the school year! She loves to read. I have read to her since I brought her home from the hospital in hopes that she would have a love of reading, I guess it worked :). She is also doing very well in Math and has no problems keeping up with the other kids. She had her first Science Test a few days ago and got a 100%!! She was very proud of herself, as was I.

Gwen continues to do well. We are continuing work on speech and we are trying to learn sign language together. I got her in some Supported Community Living Services. Her worker comes and gets her once a week and they just go hang out together. It has been nice because she is with me all day and we both have kind of got in the habit of just being with each other and when we weren't together she would have a hard time. So I wanted something that would help us both with that and so far SCL is working great for her. The first couple times she had a couple major meltdowns but she is getting more and more comfortable every time she goes! It makes me happy to see that she can still be ok and be happy with out me right there.

The biggest news for my family as a whole is we are buying a house! We were going to buy the house that we are currently living in. That was the plan when we first moved here. But that fell through, so we started looking for another house. We have found one and put an offer in. The offer was accepted. We have had it inspected and now we are waiting on the assessor. After that we should be good to go. We have a potential closing date of April 9th. We are very excited and hope everything goes as planned.



Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The meeting today

Today we had another meeting about Damon and Gwen and homeschooling.  It was with the principal from their old school. The meeting went well. We were able to lay everything out on the table and voice our concerns.

It was only one staff member that we really had a problem with. Other than that person, it is a good school. I have friends whose kids go to that school and have for a long time and they love it. I do like the school and the majority of the staff. And I am glad we were able to meet with the principal and talk out our problems and concerns.

That being said, I am still not ready for them to go back to the school and I still think homeschooling them is best for them right now. I have Homeschooled them before. We all enjoyed it and I'm good at it. It's not that I think the school is bad.  It's just given past experiences at other schools and the issue with the staff member here,  I truly believe homeschooling is best for Damon and Gwen at this time. So I'm going to continue to pursue it.

On a different note, Brookes last day of school is tomorrow. She is so excited and can't wait to be a 1st grader. Summer break... HERE WE COME!  :D.

Brooke is human too..

So this is just a vent post.  This has been going on for awhile and its just eating at me.  I think it's time for me to just address it rather than just stay angry about it. 

I am so sick of hearing people, adult people,  talking down on Brooke.  It has been brought to my attention several times that certain people aren't "fans" of Brooke. They think she is a brat, bad listener, annoying, etc. But these people think Damon and Gwen are absolute Angels. Especially Gwen since she is non verbal and therefore unable to talk back.  I'm not saying Damon and Gwen are horrible.  They are wonderful kids.  But so is Brooke and that's my point.  They all have their different strengths and weaknesses.  They are all good kids and they all can be naughty.  Like all kids.  But some people, for whatever reason,  tend to focus on the negative more when it comes to Brooke.  Sure there are times when she don't listen,  she can be mouthy and she fights with Damon.  For some reason I thought this was something all kids go through.  And that all kids with siblings fight with their siblings.  Hell I did and I didn't even grow up with my siblings!  Brooke is 5 years old and I'm just sick of people talking about her like she is the only child who doesn't always listen. People that should love and support her, that don't.  They almost seem to avoid her at all costs. I mean what the hell. She is a child!  There is so much more good about her than there is "bad". She is always willing to help.  She tries to be friends with everyone. She is always trying to help Gwen talk and is over joyed if Gwen repeats a word back to her. She taught Damon most of his first words.  If she sees other kids try to talk to Gwen and give her weird looks for not talking back, she will try to explain the best she can why she can't talk.  At kindergarten round up she was the first one to walk over to the scared girl crying in the corner and assure her that her mom would be back.  When we went to Preston for my father in laws funeral,  whenever my mother in law would start to cry Brooke was right there trying to comfort her and telling her it'd be ok.  She is the one I held and cried with around Christmas because she was sad that her brother wasnt going to be home for Christmas and she was worried santa wouldn't find him.  If she sees someone she loves get hurt,  she will cry for that person. Like she did when my grandma fell last year when she was visiting or when Scott accidently drilled into my brothers fingernail while they were fixing the porch. She can find good in everyone and not judge them by their looks,  abilities or skin color.  She is smart,  beautiful and talented.  She tries her best at everything she does.  With everything there is good about her,  how can you focus on the not so good things.  Sadly for these people, by choosing to focus on the negative,  they are missing out on a terrific little girl.  How sad for them.

Monday, April 22, 2013

When D was in the hospital in Iowa City, they suggested I get him another psychological eval. They tried while at the hospital and were only successful in one part. In that one part he scored a 75. Back in 2010 he scored in the low 40s on that part. They were certain that his IQ score would show significant changes now then it did then. when he had the first test done in 2010, he hadn't been living with us for very long. Only about 6 months or so. He was still adjusting and I was still getting to know him. At the end of that testing his IQ was 43. The Iowa City doctors and I all agreed that re- eval would benefit him and would come out higher than 43. So I made him an appointment with a doctor in waterloo. I got the results back and was shocked to see that his IQ score had changed. But not the way we all thought. The doctor says his IQ is 40. I can't wrap my head around that. How can it be lower than it was in 2010. He has come so far since then. Back then he wasnt talking, wasnt potty trained, couldnt eat with a fork and barely with a spoon, couldn't drink from a cup with out a lid and so on. He is doing all those things now and more. Including reading short stories and doing simple math. I just can't comprehend how the score is lower. I don't think this re-eval showed the true Damon. The doctor couldn't really understand him, they had the window open and he could see the hospital and he knows there is a helicopter there and was fixated on that. I know damon and I don't think that IQ score is accurate. I am going to do some research on doctors and hopefully be able to get a second opinion. One of the problems with these kinds of test, at least in our experience, is he goes to this doctor that he had never met before. And they proceed to do numerous tests with him. I think if time was taken for him to get used to the doctor first then that would help tremendously  it would also help to have a doctor that actually understands him. I honestly believe his IQ score is higher than that and I want him to be seen as I see him. I want the doctors to know and recognize his true potential. I will fight this until my dying day if I have to. I just don't think it is anywhere near accurate.

On a good note though. Damon is now getting SCL services. His worker came today and took him to the park. He had a great time and listened very well. he is looking forward to next week :o).

Gwen is doing wonderful in school. Strange thing. The teacher she has had all year went on maternity leave last month (i think). Before maternity leave I was constantly getting "bad" reports on her behavior. She was constantly throwing fits, hair pulling, etc. she apparently even started a new thing of stripping her clothes off. We have never seen that before. Since this teacher left I have gotten maybe two "bad" reports from the new teacher. And those reports her fits weren't as crazy and severe as the ones before. I'm not saying this teacher was doing anything. But I find it weird. If she has that teacher again next year and we can't change it, we might go back to homeschooling again. I don't think I can take another year of reading day after day about throwing fits for no apparent reason. I don't know what was going on but it was something that didn't sit well with Gwen. I won't make her go through it again.

Brooke is doing well. She has had her problems in school with listening but seems to be doing much better. She is reading so well and will now read me the bedtime story at night :o). This week the preschoolers are doing kindergarten round up so the current kindergartners get the week off. So I am getting lots of Brookie time this week. Her and scott are doing a daddy daughter dance this year. She is looking forward to that. However, next year we will probably switch to the dance studio here in town. The one she is going to is great but her friends go here plus its closer.

scott and I are considering adopting again. We would like to adopt an older child out of foster care. We even had a little girl in mind. But unfortunately it is going to have to wait a bit. :(. We have to attend these classes. 3 hours long once a week for ten weeks. Finding a consistent sitter for those courses is hella hard. So until we figure something out, our adoption plans are on hold. but I hope to be able to adopt again soon.

All in all, life is good. We are all doing well. My family is looking forward to summer except for me. I am not ready for the heat. If its like last year, I'm pretty sure I'm going to die.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Life is good.

So far 2013 is rockin. Finally it seems things are going in the right direction and looking up for us. I am looking forward to our future and what it may hold in store for us. If things go right, I foresee this year being a good one!

Last weekend, Brooke had an overnighter with the girlscouts and since I am one of her groups leaders I got to go also. It was so much fun. I am looking forward to doing it again. The sleeping part however was not fun. We all slept on the floor in sleeping bags. Apparently I am old and can not do that anymore. Next time I will definitely be taking an air mattress.

This week Brooke is Star of the Week. On the 18th she was able to celebrate her 1/2 birthday since her birthday comes before the school year begins. For this whole week she can have guests eat lunch with her, do share with her, read the class a story if they want to and join her at recess if they want to. She is loving this week so far for sure. However, the weather is predicting a pretty big storm so her week may be cut short with a snow day or two :/. But we will see.

Damons therapist has been coming over once a week. And he always includes Gwen and Brooke in the activities much to their delight. Last week they made models out of clay. Damon made a dinosaur, Brooke made a car and Gwen made a cookie :o). Tomorrow when he comes over they will paint them. They have been looking forward to this since last week.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ramblings

Damon has been home from the hospital for over a month and everything is still going so well!!! He is doing very well in school and is excited about going each day. He still loves his dog and when he gets scared he will go and cuddle with Austin. Scott and I still havent let our guard down and we dont plan to but right now ... LIFE IS GOOD! 2012 was so hard, confusing, emotional and basically just a horrible year for us in general. I was to the point that I didnt think life would be good ever again. But it is. And continues to get better. I am so so thankful for that.
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Brooke is in girlscouts and loves it! She will start selling cookies on the 2nd of February and she is so excited about that. I am one of the leaders of her troop along with another parent. So far its really fun. I was a leader about 8 or so years ago for my little sisters group. At that time Madison was actually the age Brooke is now. Talk about feeling OLD! Anyway, this time around everything is just so much more organized and its just easier and more enjoyable now then it was back then. On February 16th all the girlscouts are going to go on a service unit camping trip. Brooke is overjoyed and every weekend she asks me if this is the weekend we go camping. :o). It should be a fun time. i am pretty excited for it myself :D.
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Last weekend, for the  first time, Brooke had one of her friends stay overnight. I was totally expecting the 3AM tears of her friend wanting to go home but nope. They did so good. Although they did stay up pretty late but hey whats a sleep over if you dont stay up late, right?
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Both Gwen and Brooke were sick last week. Brooke had strep and Gwen had a stomach bug. Poor girls. But they are back to themselves now :o)
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I honestly think that I am probably the only person in the world who hates Summer... Crazy right? I mean when I was younger I loved summer and hated Winter. Now? Complete opposite. I will take fall/winter over summer/spring anytime! I think some of the reasons for that is in the spring it rains rains rains and while I understand that rain is good, it also makes my backyard so muddy and my dogs just love to track it everywhere. Other then that though, I do kind of like spring but Summer... I just dont. I dont know. I am weird but that is nothing new.
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A couple weeks ago at school Gwen traced part of her name!!!! She traced the "G" and the "W". This is HUGE for Gwen and I am so excited and proud of my girlie. <3 p="">

Thursday, January 10, 2013

~Hope~

This Picture...
Gives me HOPE. Before we found out everything that was going on with Damon we noticed alot of changes in him. But one of the first things we noticed was his relationship with Brooke. They used to play together, sure they would fight, but for the most part they got along quite well. But when all these issues started taking over, we noticed he was starting to push Brooke away and pretty soon it was to the point that he didnt want to play with her, sit with her, anything. So sad :o(. But after he came home from the hospital. He has been much more like our Damon we all know and love. He is playing with and being nice with his sisters again. Although there are still a few arguments every now and then his and Brooke's relationship seems stronger than ever before. <3 .="." p="p">
 
Yesterday we had court again. We had 2 choices.
Choice 1: Continue with the CINA (Child In Need of Assistance). If we continue with it we would have to go to court next month and then every 3 months after that. A social worker would come out to our house 1-2 times a month. And anytime at a court hearing, if the judge felt Damon was a threat to himself or others he could choose to have him removed from our home or Scott and I would have to live seperately-one with the girls and the other with Damon.
Choice 2: Stop the CINA. Continue with the safety precautions we are doing at home and at school. Continuing working with the psychiatrist and the therapist. The therapist comes over once a week to work with Damon.
 
Scott and I talked about it and thought it through. We took into consideration how Damon has been since he has gotten home and we decided to go with Choice 2 and not continue with the CINA. Since Damon has gotten home, things have been going very well. We are still very cautious. We still use the moniters and alarms. He is still our shadow wherever we go. 
 
At one point he was talking about "Sara" a lot and saying he was a killer and needs to kill people. The first time his therapist came over thats what Damon told him. (great first impression, eh? ;o).) When the therapist (Bob) asked who told him that Damon said "Sara". Bob said, "who is Sara" and Damon replied, "I am Sara." Oh man, the look on Bobs face I was sure he was going to run away but instead he said "You arent Sara, you are Damon" After that the subject was dropped. Later, Damon was talking to me about it again. So I just asked him if he thought he was a killer. He looked at me for a second and said no. So I said do you want to kill people? He said no. So I said, "as long as you know that you are a good person, that you are not a killer and you dont want to kill people.. thats all that matters. It doesnt matter what "Sara" thinks or says. And if you are feeling scared just come find me or dad or go cuddle with Austin and we will protect you." That night Damon was mumbling to himself at the table. So I started listening. I couldnt understand anything he was saying until he said loudly "I am a good people Sara". Since then there has been no talk of Sara or killing. Once again, I am given hope. :o)
 
This past Tuesday I had a meeting with his school. We had to meet before he could go back. I stressed to them that he will need absolute one on one. He cant be left with others alone and all sharp items need to be up and out of reach. If he speaks of "Sara", killing or hearing other voices they will write it in his book. On the bus, there will need to be a bus aide or he cant ride. Unfortunately, the current bus aide is out for surgery. So until she comes back I am driving him in every morning and picking him up every after noon. Its about a 45 minute- an hour drive each way. I have to pick him up an hour early every afternoon so that I can be back in time to get Brooke from school. But the school is reimbursing me as long as I keep track of mileage so thats nice.
 
He went back to school for the first time today. He was very excited. I was worried at first because he was adamant about not going. He wanted to "go to mommys school like in Boise." But once he got to school and saw his teachers and friends he was really excited. Tomorrow he gets to go bowling so he is very excited about that.
 
I pray that things continue to go smoothly. I think he is on the right dose of meds (finally) which is very helpful. Hopefully that combined with everything we are doing and using the resources available to us it will be enough. I know this will never really go away but we are all learning to cope with it and we now have hope that even though it may not go away, it can get better. :o)



Friday, December 28, 2012

HOME !!!!!

I am going to start out with how our Christmas was. All things considered it turned out pretty well. Damon wasnt home :( and that made the day pretty hard but we were able to go see him.

Scott and the kids got me an under the cupboard CD player for the kitchen. I love listening to music while I cook or clean. They also got me an ottoman that massages your back and heats up. Love it!! The kids and I got Scott the miter saw and table saw he wanted. I also gave him a list of things that he can do around the house using these new tools ;o). Gwen got a bunch of sensory toys that she loves. Lots of flappy type toys (her favorite past time). Brooke got the art stuff she wanted, pop up slippers, games and a couple other things that I cant remember right now. We couldnt go visit Damon until 2 when visiting hours started. We took him 4 presents (the limit we could take. He opened the rest the next day). He was very excited to open them. He got  mostly airplanes, helicopters and cars which is all he asks for. Of course, there is also his new dog Austin which I guess could qualify as a christmas Present. All the kids got a Nabi 2 tablet and a scooter type thing and we all got a XBox Kinect. Although Scott and I are bad and we opened it early. :o).

The day after Christmas, the hospital called me and told me that they thought Damon was ready to come home. I was excited but for obvious reasons a little scared. I called the DHS worker to let her know he was coming home. Surprise surprise.... she didnt answer. So because of that, so far, we dont have safety services set up. BUT we do have a therapist coming out on Monday to meet with us and work with Damon.

Since he has been home things have gone pretty smooth. We are taking all safety precautions. We have alarms on his door that will sound off whenever he opens his door. The first night he did try to get out, the alarm went off and he slammed his door shut and didnt open it again. :o). We still use baby moniters for when the kids are upstairs in bed and we are downstairs. That way we can be sure to hear his alarm if it sounds. During the day, Damon is our shadow. He is not allowed with Gwen by himself.

He loves Austin and they get along well together. The first night Damon was back we put Austin in his room with him. Austin is used to raoming around like our other dogs so he whined at the door. Eventually, I went upstairs and asked Damon if he wanted me to take Austin downstairs or leave him in his room and Damon said, "Take him downstairs. He is keeping me up". :o). The next day I told Damon that when he wants to try having Austin in his room we will try again. We also talked about how Austin can keep Damon safe even if he doesnt sleep with him. Damon does say that he feels safe from the monsters with Austin around. So even though the sleeping arrangements didnt go as planned (yet anyway) I still think getting Austin was a good thing for Damon.

We will have court again on the 9th. Having Damon home now is good. Its kind of like a trial period before court to see how things go. Regardless of how things go the judge might still say that Gwens safety is at risk and order Damon be placed somewhere else for a certain period of time. I am hoping that things continue to go smoothly and the judge wont do that. I really believe that Damon is on a good dose of medication now and the right medication. He seems a lot better than he did a month ago. I really think things are starting to get better and I hope the judge will give Damon another chance before placeing him elsewhere. A month ago, I would have agree'd that out of home placement was needed. But I do see positive changes in Damon now.

The part that scares me and the reason that the judge might order out of home placement is he does still hear voices. He has said that Jacob has died. He doesnt hear him anymore. He says Sara is still there and she still wants him to hurt Gwen but he doesnt want to. So far he hasnt attempted but we arent about to let our guard down. I just hope that things continue to go smoothly and that we can get rid of Sara or at the very least quiet her. I really dont want the judge to order out of home placement but if that is whats best there isnt much I can do.. So everyone please pray for us and Damon. Pray that everything will work out the way it is supposed to and will be ok.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

AUSTIN

Meet Damon's new dog, Austin. Damon has been asking for a dog of his own for awhile now. We do have 2 other dogs but he wanted his very own. I know dogs can be very theraputic for anybody but are especially theraputic for special needs children.

I really want to try out our options with Damon before having to have him placed in home. Of course, the judge could always order placement but I still want to try our other options to try to prevent that from happening. I know before our court date in January, if Damon comes home we will get safety services and they will be there to help out/offer tips and advice. They are not 24/7 but it will be helpful. Safety Services is pretty much our only option other than placement. But when Damon started talking about wanting a dog and wanting it to sleep with him in his room and keep him safe from monsters. I got an idea. Maybe, just maybe, this is our other option!!

I talked with the doctors and therapists and told them my thoughts. They agree'd that a dog could be very very helpful. They gave me some types of dogs that would be good and I started looking. We were hoping to get a Golden Retriever. That dog was at the top of their list. We found a couple but they were dead ends. We didnt want to get a puppy. We wanted a dog that was older, trained (at least somewhat) and of course good with kids and other animals.

After hitting those deadends I was getting discouraged. Then I came across a humane society in a near by city! I found a dog on their website named Wrangler. By the description on their website he sounded like the dog we were looking for. So I went to check him out and see what other dogs they had. They were allll soooo cute!!! I seriously wish I could of just brought them all home! But out of all of them there was just something special about Wrangler.

He is a Labrador Retriever/Vizla (I dont know if I spelt that right)They had got him as a stray at the beginning of December. They called him Wrangler but he wasnt responsive to the name at all and said we could change it. They are guessing that he about 3 years old. He is healthy, smart, great with kids, great with other animals and potty trained! SCORE! He is a very laid back gentle dog but also is entergetic and loves to play and run. I filled out the adoption paper work and they approved us!

On the way home, I called Damon and told him we got him his own dog for when he gets home. He was so excited! He couldnt pronounce the name Wrangler very well so I told him he could choose a different name if he wanted. He immediately said Austin from Austin and Allie. Lol. So Austin it is.

Austin has been doing very well so far. He does very well with the girls. Our dog Monkey isnt to sure about him yet but him and Lizzie get along great so far. I think Monkey will come around. He wasnt a fan of Lizzie at first either but they love eachother now. I think getting Austin was a good decision. I am keeping my fingers crossed that it all goes as well as we are hoping.
 


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Court

So court went ok yesterday. Damon has been appointed his own attorney but she didnt show up to court due to other cases or something. Anyway, they also appointed Scott and I an attorney which seemed weird to me cause its not like we are taking Damon to court and fighting against him or something. We are there in support of him and to make sure he gets what he needs to help him. But they said the attorney was mainly for legal advice to make sure scott and I understood everything.

We go to court again on the 9th of January. Until then, if Damon comes home (which he most likely will by then) they will set up safety services to help us out until the court date where we will hopefully get more figured out. That will also give us a chance to see how Damon will be around Gwen now. If he does end up hurting her, himself or someone else. then we will call my DHS worker and they will let the judge know. I dont really know yet what will happen after that. I just am hoping for the best and nothing bad happens once he comes home. As for when he will come home, at this point, I still dont know. My mom and I are going to visit him today and I plan on talking to the DR. So hopefully I will know more today.

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