Thursday, August 13, 2015

And then we moved!

Oh baby it has been a busy three months! Yup, we sold our house! We closed on the new house July 17 (two days late) after some bank shenanigans with our buyers mortgage company.

Lesson learned: social media can be very powerful! Wells Fargo can pretty much #suckit, but call them out on Facebook and you might get your own personal customer service specialist assigned to your complaint, which in our case got some gears greased and things moving, even if they still made mistakes in the process.

We spent a couple nights at a hotel and had to reschedule, then reschedule again the moving company and several deliveries. We still haven't had the stuff stored in the POD delivered, although Rich promises that is coming this weekend. Personally, I think he's doing it just to remind me he still has some control.  

Tomorrow we will have been here four weeks. I am not even close to having everything unpacked. The important stuff is done though, like the kitchen, our clothes, and as of yesterday the X-box.

I can't even begin to express just how happy we are! This house is perfect for us. I feel so incredibly lucky. We have room, space, freedom. No drums! No yelling though the walls! No unease walking out our own front door!

Right now my boys are playing on our new trampoline (!) with the kids from next door. The kids that came and knocked on our door the first night! And that brought two other kids from the street with them the next night.

One neighbor brought us a pie! Another a pot of flowers!

I'm enchanted by the new little town we live in, even though it's only seven miles or so from where we were. It's seven miles further out in the country. Our local farm market has milk in glass bottles! We have deer in our back yard. There are rolling hills. We are on one! I still get excited driving home from work every day.

I'm content. I'm happy. Who knew a house could have so much power. Life is good.

Pictures in the next post I promise. :)


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Update to "Neighbors - you can't live with them and you can't make them move. A three part series in why I wish we could move to the middle of nowhere so I didn't have to navigate difficult social interactions with other adults. Part 3." So technically I guess this is Part 4.

Less of an update and more of Part 4 in a 3 part series. Or maybe just another excuse for a really long title.

So no, I can't make my neighbors move. But it turns out I CAN! Or actually WE can!

If you read the update I wrote on Part 3 you will know that my plan to make peace with wall sharing neighbor didn't actually go as planned.

Instead I owe her a huge thank you because her judgmental bitchiness led to me doing some serious thinking. Serious thinking that resulted in me sitting Rich down and weighing the pros and cons of buying a single family house telling him it was time to move.  Fortunately for him he agreed with me and my emotional demands and we decided it was a good time for us to sell our townhouse and buy a real house with a nice size yard.

That was April 9. April 10th I spoke with a realtor. The next week we met with a staging company to get their take on  what was needed to get the townhouse ready to sell. April 27th we made an offer on a house on an acre of land. May 12th we listed our townhouse. And now we wait for it to sell.

We did a shit ton of work in the month between April 9th and May 12th. We put about 2/3 of our stuff in storage, had the entire house painted, and replaced all the carpet. We worked our butts off and it's pretty amazing how nice the place looks now. So different! So uncluttered and clean!

Just a couple pictures to remind me how great it looked after we move.

So...we've been on the market for two weeks and are still waiting for an offer. The waiting sucks. Keeping the house clean so it can show at any time sucks even more. Knowing the pay off is going to be so awesome though makes it all worth it.

We are all very excited about the new house. Hopefully all will go as planned and we will move in this summer. This place needs to sell first and we need to get through inspections on the new house. Hopefully there will not be any surprises because the new house is perfect for us. 

The only negative is that all my fears about the boys making friends this spring have been for naught. As I type this they both have friends over and are driving me crazy because OMG peoples they keep touching my newly painted walls and messing up my clean rooms! And they are so LOUD! So very, very LOUD!

Still, even though they are both making friends in the neighborhood they are excited to move to the new house and make new friends. Plus we will have lots of room to have play dates!

So if you wouldn't mind sending some positive house selling thoughts our way I'd appreciate it. A new start in a new place is going to be so very good for all of us. 


Thursday, April 09, 2015

Neighbors - you can't live with them and you can't make them move. A three part series in why I wish we could move to the middle of nowhere so I didn't have to nagivate difficult social interactions with other adults. Part 3

You had to know this post was coming right? I mean I can't write about neighbors without including The Other Family (hereafter known as TOF). 

If you haven't figured it out, TOF is the family from last fall. If you don't know what I'm talking about you can go back a few posts to what I wrote in October. There hasn't been much writing in between so it shouldn't be difficult to find.

Kiel asked to play with The Other Boy (TOB) over the weekend. I hadn't really prepared myself for that yet. I should have, because it was obviously going to happen. After ignoring his first request, I finally told Kiel it wasn't a good time right now. 

TOB is going to want to come over, especially with the new basketball hoop set up.  He likes sports and he likes to be involved with other kids. He's a nice kid and if it weren't for my fear of how his parents are going to act, I would have no hesitation about him playing here. 

To update you, there has been no communication with the other family outside of some "good mornings" from The Other Dad (TOD) when he's at the bus stop at least he finally has the balls to be there. I've initiated a couple light conversations with The Other Mom (TOM) the few times I've seen her at the bus stop, usually about their new dog. She responds, possibly because other people are around. The interaction is always short and awkward.

There are still times we pass in our cars and she pointedly looks away from us. 

While I understand in part, it mostly feels very strange to me. And very, very sad.

This is a woman who multiple times told me our friendship was "the no judgement zone." And had a conversation with me about how she doesn't allow grudges in her house. Someone I was very open with about Noah and what we were going through.

I still miss the friendship, although I've moved past missing her in particular. As time passes and I can see things somewhat less emotionally, I can see her and the relationship I had with her, with more honesty. It was never destined to go far. It was, what it was, because of our boys friendship. In many ways a friendship of convenience I suppose.

As far as Kiel and TOB, they have both moved well past The Incident as far as I can see. They want to play with each other. Kiel is no longer having nightmares about TOM, and hasn't spoken of her in a couple months. He actually told me shortly after Christmas that it was ok to see her now, and "she is in a better place." (I had to laugh at that one. I hope he's right though.)

As for Kiel playing with TOB at their house I have very mixed feelings. Obviously, I don't think he would ever be invited by TOM or TOD. I have no concerns about his safety there though. TOM and TOD are good parents. Even though the professionals have "given me permission" to place some responsibility on them for leaving the boys unsupervised for so long, I don't. And I say that in full honesty.

What I am worried about is how they would treat Kiel and how they would react to just about anything he did. It just wouldn't be right to put Kiel in a situation where he would likely be judged for every action. He would know. 

Again, I don't really think that's going to be something I have to worry about.  Although, as I write this, even though I doubt the parents would ever invite him, what if TOB does, in that way that kids do. 

I refuse to have a conversation with Kiel that includes telling him he specifically can't go to their house. We already have the conversation about where the limits are that he can play in the neighborhood, and that he can't go in anyone's house, even his school friends houses, unless he asks my permission first. I hope that will be enough. I fear it won't though, since the boys used to run in and out of each of our houses freely.

I won't lie and say that I don't have the urge to fight "like with like" because of how they have acted, but I won't let myself go there.  I might want to put a bag of flaming dog shit on their front porch, but I would never do that! I might secretly flip them the bird when I drive past their house, but I never do it visibly. I might want to scream to everyone that TOM is a crazy fucking bitch and to be careful, but I won't. If they don't want the boys playing together I guess they will need to figure out how to ensure that happens.

I do think we need to have a conversation about it. And I would like a chance to say a few things to TOM. I would REALLY like a chance to do that. I'd like to tell her how disappointed I am in her. And how childish she has been acting. And make sure she understands that what the boys did wasn't as upsetting as how the adults acted after, and that any damage that may have been done to either Kiel or TOB was done after and because of their reaction.

OK, I'm still mad. I admit it. Perhaps I'm not quite as mature as I would like to be. Working through this in writing as I do is making it pretty clear its all still quite raw for me. It's good to know that though isn't it? I'm clearly a work in progress.

My other concern with this mess, and that is neighbor related, is that I have no idea what TOF has said to anyone in the neighborhood. I know they lied to me about telling the school, since they told me two days after they were in meeting with the principal that they hadn't said anything. I have no reason to believe that they wouldn't tell others, or that they wouldn't twist it for their benefit. Not knowing if or what they may have said to others hangs over me. I wonder how long it will cloud every interaction I have with people I know TOM has had contact with, which is a hell of a lot, since she knows freaking everyone.

I also wonder how long it is going to take before I trust letting another family into our lives like that.

Update to part 1: the conversation with the driveway sharing neighbor did not go well. I was calm and kind and conciliatory, and she was judgy and bitchy. She did everything but come out and say that Noah is only like he is because of us. Apparently we aren't strict enough and her boys see that and don't think it is fair. At least she stopped herself from telling me I should beat him, as she has done before. It's such a warm fuzzy feeling to know that someone thinks they can parent your child better than you can. 

When I tried to explain what he is dealing with brain wise she said then he shouldn't be allowed outside. I guess he shouldn't be allowed in his bedroom either because they hear him there when he is upset. Apprently it's okay for her boys to verbally threaten him, and call him faggot, but any response from him is never acceptable. Oh yes, I know I'm bitter right now.

You can be proud of me though. I didn't bring up the drums, or her multiple daily screaming/screeching fits at her kids and husband, even once.

I sure wish it was possible to actually grow thicker skin, because I clearly need it.


Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Neighbors - you can't live with them and you can't make them move. A three part series in why I wish we could move to the middle of nowhere so I didn't have to nagivate difficult social interactions with other adults. Part 2.

I love the neighbors on one side of us. They are a very nice family. Their kids are adorable. They are kind. And tolerant. And quite honestly, since I don't think living next to us is the easiest thing to do, they get extra props in my book just for putting up with us as long as they have!

Unfortunately, they are in the process of selling their townhouse and will move away in the next month or so. (Hmmm....maybe you can make them move. Does this require a title change above?)

I'm super nervous about another family moving in. Not so much nervous about who they are and what they are like. I mean really, when you have a teenager that plays the drums on the other side of you just how much worse can it get?

No, I'm nervous about what they will think of us. 

It's another family, or maybe just person, that will be involved in our life, even if only on the periphery.

Living as close to us as they will, and knowing that despite our efforts, they will hear screaming and raging from our house, I think that it is important that I fill them in at least a little bit. They haven't had the benefit of watching my boys grow up and seeing the progression. 

To be forewarned is to be forearmed, right? Or perhaps more accurately to forewarn them results in us being forearmed? Do I even know what that means?

The likelihood is that they won't really get it. They will hear the screaming, or see Noah's behaviors, (or even Kiel who has been quite the little monster lately) and be horrified. Or even worse I suppose, witness Rich or myself momentarily lose our minds because OMG if we find one more broken item, or hear the word NO screamed at us one more time, or witness Noah do something to Kiel again, our heads just might explode.

The good piece is that because of the elevation between their house and ours not as much noise is transferred as is between our house and our neighbor on the other side. Noah's room is also not on their side, which I'm sure makes a big difference as well.

Still, I'm always nervous when new people move into the neighborhood in case they see or hear something and misinterpret it. I'd really prefer not to have another experience with CPS.

What would you tell a new neighbor in our situation? Just how much detail would you give? I have a tendency to share too much I think.


Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Neighbors - you can't live with them and you can't make them move. A three part series in why I wish we could move to the middle of nowhere so I didn't have to nagivate difficult social interactions with other adults. Part 1.

I hesitate to say this out loud, but I think it may finally be spring. The windows are open, the birds are singing, the cats are happy alternating between sleeping in front of the open windows and chattering at the birds.

The basketball hoop is set up in the driveway and the boys just want to play outside! When the kids (mine and the rest of the neighborhoods) aren't in school I hear them whooping and laughing all around us. It's a happy sound. A normal sound.

It's good seeing neighbors outside again, as if the long winter hibernation is over, and we are all coming out of our caves, stretching our faces up to the sun and sighing in relief.

And yet, because there is always a yet in MNT land, despite the joy of warmer weather and being able to be outside, I stress and worry over how this is all going to play out. Especially after the events of last fall.

During the winter I could protect my boys better. We were more isolated. Not completely, but there weren't as many kids out. They didn't want to stray as far from home. It is so different when the weather is warmer.

The interactions with the neighbors, all of our neighbors, is so much trickier than it should be (at least in my opinion). It just sucks living in a townhouse and having families share a wall the way we do. You hear too much, know too much. Yet you never hear enough or know enough to really understand.

I'm not positive, but I think the neighbors on one side of us aren't talking to us. Two of their boys are between the ages of Noah and Kiel. You would think that would be perfect, wouldn't you. Four boys between 7 and 12 that love to play outside, especially basketball and hockey. We share a driveway and it's hard, if not impossible, for the boys (theirs and ours) to keep to one side of it when playing. Frankly, I think it's ridiculous to even try. I have no problems with their kids playing on our side when the cars aren't there. I don't think they care either, but I'm not positive.

Unfortunately, our boys don't get along. Their boys know too much, but understand too little about my boys. They hear Noah's rages through the wall. In the past they have been the recipient of some of his actions (a broken window, a rock thrown at one of their heads when they threatened him with a baseball bat). Last year both families did our best to keep the boys apart. If they were playing in the front of our houses, my boys played in the back. It mostly worked okay, but this year we have the basketball hoop and that's what my boys want to do all the time. Just like their boys do with their hoop. 

The youngest boy has a mouth and my boys have been the recipient multiple times, especially Kiel on the school bus. Sadly, I haven't been able to get Kiel to keep his own mouth shut. We have spoken to the other boys parents a couple times, but I'm uncomfortable complaining about it when I know Kiel is running his own mouth. Plus, our neighbors have been more than understanding through the years with Noah's behaviors, even if I know they really don't understand. 

One of the problems as you know, and I suppose it is a mixed blessing, is that Noah has a special needs brain in a "normal" kids body. I'm not sure that any of our neighbors truly grasp what is going on with him. He looks just fine, and sometimes he can act just fine. Even when I explain it, most people don't "get it" because to them he looks "normal."

Noah doesn't understand why the neighbor boys don't like him. He's really trying to be friends with them, albeit often awkwardly. He struggles socially and the other boys just don't get it. I've heard them say some very mean things to him. I've also heard him say some pretty stupid things back to them, so again, I find it difficult to complain when he is also part of the problem.

It's tricky. It's also complicated a bit because the mom is partially deaf, so she doesn't always hear what her boys are saying. And like all kids, they are good at knowing just when they can get away with it. I know they have verbally threatened my boys, but I can't guarantee that my boys haven't responded in kind. I know she doesn't think her kids are angels, and I know mine aren't, but I'm not quite sure how to handle this. She's a good mom and she doesn't let them get away with crap when she knows about it. It was actually her idea to keep the boys separated, and at the time I agreed. It was during a very difficult period for Noah and keeping him away from other kids that easily triggered him was just smart.

I like our neighbors. They have helped us out over the years, as we have helped them. They have their own struggles, and I know life isn't any easier for them than it is for us. Different struggles, but still struggles.

Obviously I will need to talk with the other mom. If we've done something to upset them I need to know so we can resolve it. Or maybe I'm just misreading her actions and nothing is wrong. 

Ultimately, I just want to find a way for our boys to get along. They don't have to be best friends, but they should be able to share a driveway and play a game of basketball together, without acting like they are enemies.

How do I declare our shared driveway an enemy free, threat free, space for fun and play, when I only own half of it?

And of course, just to make it all more fun, and by fun I mean ridiculously complicated and ugly, I really have no idea what The Other Family (TOF) has said and to whom.


Sunday, January 04, 2015

When skillets grow.

This blog needs some lightening up after my last few posts, so I'm going to share a funny about Kiel.

My meals are very small these days, so I asked Rich to get me some smaller pans, specifically a small cast iron skillet.

He took me seriously when I said "small" and ordered a 3 1/2 inch skillet for me from Amazon. It arrived and we both had to laugh because it was so tiny. Like doll kitchen tiny. Palm of my hand tiny. Rich joked that maybe if we put it in water it would grow.

Kiel overheard and thought that was pretty cool.

Rich, who takes such good care of me, went back to Amazon and ordered the next size up (6 1/2 inch) and it arrived today. He set it on the kitchen counter for me.

Kiel went in to the kitchen and saw it this afternoon and got very excited. "It grew, it grew" he yelled! He grabbed the skillet and came running to me with it "Mommy, it really grew!"

There is no way I'm telling him that we ordered a new one!


Saturday, January 03, 2015

This thing I did for me. (AKA a post weight loss surgery update.)

In my last post, almost two months ago, I mentioned I had abdominal surgery. To be more specific, I had bariatric surgery (weight loss surgery). To be even more specific I had the vertical gastric sleeve ("sleeve") procedure. Approximately 85% of my stomach was removed, but unlike with a gastric bypass, my intestines were not affected.

I have no intention of turning this blog into a weight loss or "sleeve" related blog. Today's post is purely to update those of you who still read this since I did mention it in my last post. While I may occasionally update on how I am doing, especially when it comes to the emotional aspects of weight loss surgery (WLS), at this point I don't plan on sharing specific details of my weight loss.

However, since I have had many family members and friends ask, especially via Facebook, I will go into more detail right now.

As far as how I feel - I feel good! I'm fully recovered from the surgery and have lost a nice amount of weight for me. I'm able to eat pretty much anything now, but I'm careful about the choices I make. I have to focus on getting enough protein in and staying hydrated. Since the "sleeve" is a purely restrictive procedure the weight loss after the first couple months is about making the right choices and not slipping back into bad habits.

I can only eat small amounts of food, but I need to make sure they are the right foods. I found over the holidays that Christmas cookies go down very easily and while I couldn't eat as many as I would have in the past, I could still eat enough to blow my calorie count for the day in one sitting. I'm very happy the holidays are over and that there will be less food temptations in the house.

The initial diet after the surgery includes a week of only liquids, then a progression to pureed foods, then soft foods, and eventually to "normal" foods. I have had no problems progressing to normal foods. In fact, I think I moved along faster than most. Many people that I have spoken with that have had this procedure took several months to get to a point where they could eat meat. I've also heard it is not unusual to take one bite to much and end up vomiting for 20 to 30 minutes because you overfilled your stomach. I have had none of those problems. I almost wish I did, because the physical limitations initially are a big reason that people lose large amounts of weight in the first couple months after surgery.

I've lost a moderate amount of weight and overall I'm okay with it, although I admit I wish it was coming off faster.  Most important though is that I'm feeling better than I have in a couple years. My blood sugar levels are normalizing and I would guess that my blood pressure is too. Another week or two and I'm going to be forced to go shopping for some clothes because the last two pair of jeans I have that don't fall off me, are getting close.

I'm actually not looking forward to shopping for new clothes, which surprises me. In part its because I don't want to spend a bunch of money on clothes that I hopefully won't be able to wear for very long.

As far as sharing how much weight I've lost I've decided not to share that publicly. Maybe as time passes I will change my mind about that, but for right now I am choosing to keep that private. For me, talking about the numbers stresses me out. I'm actually finding it a bit uncomfortable just being asked how I am doing. I'm not completely sure why, but I think some of it is my fear of failing in this, as I have with every other weight loss journey I have taken. I also don't want this to become what is the most identifiable thing about me. I don't want to be the mom, woman, employee, etc. that had weight loss surgery. I know I will continue to feel better physically as I progress, but losing weight isn't going to change the person that I have always been.

I had the surgery because I want to be around to see my children grow up. They way I was going there was a good chance that wasn't going to happen. I want to have more energy and enjoy doing things with my family. I'm proud of myself for changing my path. The esthetic effects of losing weight are a bonus.

Right now I need to work harder on getting enough exercise. There is no time or money in the budget right now to join a gym, so I'm doing what I can at home. Actually, that's not true. I'm not doing what I can at home, I'm doing less. I need to do more. I'm really struggling getting my butt off the couch. It sucks that crochet and reading aren't considered exercise. I'm hoping to get back in to karate at some point. I'd like to get my black belt, especially since I was so close to getting it a couple years ago. I might look into fencing since I've wanted to learn to sword fight for years. I need to have some useful skill when the zombie apocalypse hits, right?

If you have specific questions about the procedure or how I'm feeling feel free to email me (mommyneedstherapy at gmail dot com) or private message me on Facebook. I'm very glad I did this!


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Rebuilding the wall

I apologize for taking so long to let everyone know we are okay. Initially we were thrown back into crisis management. Fortunately we have an awesome team to go to for help, and the experiences with CPS, etc. were very positive and reassuring as you will see below. Life has settled back down for us. I had abdominal surgery last week, which meant I spent the week before preparing to be out of work for a month and doing what I could to get things ready at home. My parents came to help out and I was able to spend a few days with them before the surgery. I promise a blog post about the surgery soon. I started writing this post two weeks ago and am finally tonight finishing it.  

It's taken me a few weeks to decide if I was going to write more about my last post. In part because there is more than just me involved. In part because of the lingering memory of my mother pounding it into me that we don't air our dirty laundry in public.

But here's the thing. Years ago when I started this blog I started writing about our journey. I wanted it to be honest and real. As our life got messy and we struggled I shared not only because it helped me to put it in writing, but because I hoped that someday it might help another family to see they aren't alone. And it has helped others. The truth is, bad stuff happens to good families. Just because a child struggles doesn't mean the parents are bad. It's important to me to share that message, because too many good parents feel they have to hide in shame.

A couple months ago I read Beth's (from Five Kids is a lot of Kids) blog post about Naked Breakfast and her post script at the end where she questions how much of herself should she share on her blog, and she says "I’ve decided I’d rather be me out loud." That statement resonated with me. In the real world I'm pretty shy, but I don't hide our life because it's an opportunity to educate people. On my blog I'm far more open because it's much easier for me to write.

Beth's post helped me realized that that is what I'm doing, especially here. I'm being me out loud. There are times when I've let outside influences stop me for a while, but I keep coming back.

I've made it a point the last few years to tell only my story. This means that what I write is how I'm feeling, what I experienced, what I saw, what I said, what I heard. I will not speak for another person.

After thinking about it, I decided I'm not going to stop now. I'm going to continue to be me out loud. So I'm going to share more about what happened a few weeks ago. However, I am going to do this carefully, because there is another family involved and despite how dismayed I am at how they have handled this, I will respect their privacy as much as I can. That doesn't mean however, that I won't call them out on their questionable and hurtful behavior towards us.

Something happened that night. It wasn't great, but it also wasn't the end of the world. Far from it actually. Unfortunately, what started metaphorically as a small kitchen fire that could have easily been put out with a fire extinguisher was turned into the World Trade Center bombings.

There was a lot of drama that night. A LOT of drama. Adult drama. Parental drama. It was a freak out. All because two six year old boys did something when left for a somewhat lengthy period of time unsupervised, that surprised us adults. Something that after talking with the professionals I realize is not such a big deal.

I fully admit that initially I freaked out too. Fortunately, because of Noah I have a team of people to  reach out to for guidance.

Because I called one of our therapists to ask for advice on how to handle it with Kiel and how to handle the other family, and because of a misremembered conversation from several months ago, and how he has seen Noah and Kiel interact at times, he was concerned enough to feel that as a mandated reporter he needed to report the incident. That is how CPS became involved. Initially I was freaked out, but I understood that he was doing what he thought was right.

In the first few days after the incident, the other family contacted us several times via text and phone. They asked for "open, honest, raw communication." They said the boys were still ok together as long as they were supervised.  They kept the communication going for four days, then it suddenly stopped. No warning, no explanation. I realized we had been blocked on Facebook. They would not look at us. They turned their head away if they drove by us. They drove the LONG way around the block presumably so they wouldn't have to see us at the bus stop. Sometimes their child is left completely unsupervised at the bus stop, again, presumably, so they don't have to see us.

Kiel has come home from school several times telling me that the other boy told him he is not allowed to play or talk to him, and that the other mom hates him. Kiel has been having nightmares about the other mom trying to get him. That makes me incredibly sad. Both for Kiel and for the other mom, because I think if she knew that she would be upset. I don't think she is a bad person, she was my friend after all. 

This is a family that we were very close with. The boys were best friends. We did things together as families. Kiel was always welcome at their house just as their son was welcome at ours. We helped each other out when one of us was in a pinch. In fact, just the week before Rich had picked up their kids from daycare when neither of the parents thought they were going to make it in time. I really enjoyed having a family in the neighborhood that we could share with and count on. The boys played soccer and baseball together and Rich would often take both of them to practices since he was going to be there anyway. Kiel spent the night at their house several times. We took the other boy out with us when we went to the movies, and once to a  baseball game. While I wasn't comfortable having him spend the night at our house because I didn't want him to have to see one of Noah's meltdowns, I tried to make up for it by inviting him to go with us when we did family activities outside of the house. I was very honest with them about Noah and our struggles and why I was careful about when their son was at our house. I treated their son like he was one of mine, just as they did with Kiel.

As far as CPS becoming involved, it is something I have always feared. Yet I knew that it was inevitable. I just always thought it would be from something Noah did.

My fears came from horror stories from other families with special needs children and from my trauma momma network.  I truly feared that their involvement could lead to the boys being taken from us. Not necessarily a rational fear.

The truth is that from the first contact with CPS they have been wonderful and nothing but supportive. The social worker assigned to us, and her supervisor have both been kind and very complementary of how we are parenting the boys. When we met with the social worker for the home visit she said the case was being closed.

As an aside, I was very nervous about their home visit, again, from horror stories I've heard from other families in other parts of the country. I made Rich stay home and help me clean the house. I had no idea what they would look at and how critical they would be. It turns out she never went past the front part of our house.

Rich and I were never the focus of the investigation. The concern was if Noah was abusing Kiel in some way. Because of that Kiel had to undergo an interview with a child forensic interviewer. The process involves a team of professionals watching through one way glass, including an assistant district attorney and a local police detective. When I first heard that I was pretty freaked out. They had just told me what had happened was not a big deal, but then they were going to grill Kiel with the police and an ADA there?

Fortunately, it wasn't quite like that. While they were there, it is standard procedure, and done in case the child discloses that an adult is abusing them. I believe it has to do with hearing the disclosure first hand so it isn't hearsay and to do with the chain of custody of evidence since the interview is videotaped.

Kiel was a trooper during the process and I am so proud of him. He answered their questions and nothing he said concerned the team. They felt confident, as did we, that nothing inappropriate was happening with Noah. In fact, both the ADA and the detective told us that we had taken on far too much of the responsibility and guilt for the incident with his best friend. They made it very clear that what happened was under the (non)supervision of another family, that only the two six year old boys really know what happened, and that the way things were handled that night with the other child being grilled repeatedly by his parents, and that Kiel was basically refusing to talk, that what we "think" we know from the other boy can't necessarily be believed. The detective flat out said that kids do stupid stuff, and that we don't know what the other boy did, and we probably never will.

It was very reassuring. So was hearing that we can't take on the other families issues, that they were the ones not supervising the kids, and that their behavior has likely caused more harm for their son in the long run (okay, that part wasn't reassuring, I'm actually concerned about the other boy and how he is being traumatized by how his parents are acting).

The social worker told me later that after we left the team talked about it some more and that they were all shocked at how the other family was acting and that they felt sorry for us that we had to deal with them and how they have continued to behave. The detective told us that if we find out they are spreading rumors about us that we are to call him and let him know.

I am concerned that they may be saying things about Kiel or our family to people at school or in our neighborhood. So far I haven't heard anything, but given their strange behavior the last several weeks I do wonder.

Rich tried to talk to the other mom the other day and she refused, then she ran away from him into her house. She literally ran away from him.

Halloween night they had a party in their driveway with the families on our block. Except for us. It felt like a very public shunning. It hurt, a lot. And to be frank, I don't understand it. I can only speculate as to why they are acting this way since they won't talk to us. Perhaps their son disclosed a previous incident with someone else, or perhaps he admitted to being the instigator. I honestly have no idea. The problem with being cut off in such a way is that you can think a lot of different things.

Post script: Tonight I found out that the other parents went to the school and spoke to the principal about Kiel. I don't know what exactly was said, but I hope to talk with the principal soon about this. I'm seriously beside myself at how the other family is behaving towards us.


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

And the walls came tumbling down around us

 I wrote this a couple weeks ago but didn't have a chance to finish it at the time.
For the first time in many years we aren't living in constant crisis mode. There are still moments with Noah, sometimes even daily, but we are handling them better and we are seeing progress despite them. Noah is doing better right now than we have ever seen him. It's amazing. 
Now that Kiel is in first grade, both boys are home at the same time in the afternoon. That means less individual mom time for both of them. It also means more time for the two of them to be together. The boys are making more friends in the neighborhood now that Kiel has classmates living on the same block. There are other kids running in and out of the house after school and on the weekend. The door bell rings and someone is asking if Kiel and Noah can come out and play. It's pretty awesome and NORMAL and I love it.
Having some normal in our life is amazing and encouraging and well, kind of weird. It's sure is something I could get used to. 
You would think I would know better than to put something like this in writing. To admit to things going well. To write out loud that we aren't in crisis!

Hahaha. What nerve I had to write that. We aren't meant to live a normal life. How dare we not be in crisis the universe says.

Last Friday something happened and our life exploded again. Right now I feel like I'm living in a snow globe that someone is shaking the crap out of. The pieces inside have rearranged themselves. The person finally put it down, but left it on it's top, upside down. Everything I once knew has shifted and tumbled. 

As we are managing this crisis we realize that Kiel has become a victim of our family. I've spent the last several years educating people about trauma and how it affects Noah and his brain and yet I never considered how the chaos in our house was traumatizing Kiel. 

We don't have an official diagnosis but I believe as this crisis teases itself out Kiel will end up with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.

CPS is involved, which has always been one of my biggest fears. So far it hasn't been bad. Just a few phone calls and an appointment set up for Kiel to be interviewed next week. 

This part of the crisis I'm good at. I know how to get services and find therapists. While I'm making appointments and searching for resources I'm OK. When I'm updating providers I'm OK.

When I'm not doing those things I'm a mess. Any time to think and I'm obsessing about it. Forget going to sleep. Even with drugs the sleep is hard to find.

I knew that our time out from crisis wouldn't last forever.  Noah is maturing and going through puberty. He is almost a teenager. It is inevitable that something will happen with him in the next few years. I know that and while it will undoubtedly suck, we will be prepared.

This. This I was not prepared for. This has rocked my world in a completely different way. 

I know we will get Kiel through it, because that is what I do. I don't give up. I move mountains when I need to. It will take some time, but with a good therapist we will lay that trauma monster to rest and we will make the changes in our family that need to be made.

The guilt though is overwhelming, and it's amplified because another family is involved and I'm watching them fall apart in front of me. The fucked-upness of our family intersected with another family and the walls came tumbling down around us all. Even though it wasn't something I could ever have anticipated, the guilt I feel about it is more overwhelming than what I'm feeling for Kiel in some ways. 

It hurts too, because I let down my guard and started to get close to someone. Something that is very difficult for me. I doubt it will make it through this. Keeping to ourselves causes less pain to those around us, and to us. I won't forget that again.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

And finally - I bring you the NOW

I promised you an update weeks ago and clearly my follow through sucks.

The concise version is that Noah is doing so much better.

The longer version starts with Noah being discharged from the hospital after 22 days. He wasn't really better, he was just different. His emotions were back. All of them, not just anger. He wanted to come home. The next step typically would be a week or two of outpatient treatment, but he did a trial  run that went spectacularly awful for him and he refused to go back. So he jumped right back into school.

I had a meeting with the school before he went back and made many demands requests, most of which they put in place. It was interesting how they were finally taking Noah's needs and my concerns seriously.

Noah was back. He was happy. He had a full range of emotions again. But he was still so fast. Too fast. Exhausting to those around him fast. His speech, his body, his thoughts. All too fast!

But he was happy. And he hadn't had a single motor or vocal tic since he left the hospital. A lot of medication changes had been made and we were trying to keep him off stimulants because of the tics and the anger.

School was trying hard to work with him and help him be successful. They finally put regular/consistent movement breaks into his schedule. They put an exercise bike into his class room. Each kid was given a laminated pass kept at their desk to use if they needed a break. They changed the aid that was working with him from a stern grandmotherly woman to a young male. And they gave him his own bus to ride home in each afternoon. (Did I ever tell you about his afternoon bus driver and aid for the first part of his year? Oy, disaster.)

All great stuff. Yet he was still struggling. His point sheet that they use to monitor his behavior throughout the day was coming home with similar numbers as before the hospital. It was obvious Noah was trying, and the school was trying, but he was still struggling - behaviorally and academically.

At home things were better, but his speed was causing big problems. It really was exhausting being with him. He never stopped talking or moving. He had very little concept of where his body was in space, so things got knocked down around him all the time. He really struggled with Kiel too. Lots of jealousy going on there.

This went on for several weeks until one weekend when Rich was working. By 10am I was ready to lose my mind listening to Noah, especially how he was terrorizing interacting with Kiel, which meant Kiel as crying every other minute. So I caved and gave Noah a half dose of the stimulant that he was on prior to the hospital.

OMG People! It was like a magic pill. Within an hour he was able to have a real conversation. He was interacting appropriately with Kiel. He even told me that he felt better in his head, which was a first!

We sent him to school on that dose the next Monday and his teacher called midday to ask me who I sent to school because the kid that looked like Noah was amazing.

It continued for the rest of the school year. Just like that he was bringing home point sheets with 99's and 100's, instead of 75's and 80's. And even better he was learning again!

This summer I hired a college student to work with him 32 hours a week when I'm at work. It worked out very well and Noah enjoyed being with her every day. They played lots of basketball and went bowling almost every day. I had hoped they would spread their wings a bit and try some new things, go on some different adventures together, but Noah's anxiety is still an issue, and he preferred staying close to home or doing things he was comfortable with already. I did send both boys to a week of soccer camp (locally run, 9-1) in both July and August. Noah did well the first week, but struggled the second with his anxiety. Overall it was a good summer for Noah.

Right now it's the end of August and we have ten days until school starts. He's nervous about starting sixth grade, which he has told me several times. Soccer season has already started and he struggled going to the first practice but once he got into it he did fine. He did fine the next practice, but then fell apart at the first academy practice. Too many kids and the commands were too fast and too many steps. He was so afraid he was going to embarrass himself that he froze and refused to participate.

So that's where we are right now. Gearing up for school, worrying about his anxiety, hoping we can still keep soccer his positive place.

Maybe next time I'll write about something totally not related to Noah. How novel...