About Me

I am a single mom of three amazing boys!  All three of my sons entered my family through adoption.  All three of my boys have developmental disabilities. My oldest son, Matthew has been diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Bipolar Disorder. David, my middle son, has a genetic condition, he has a duplication on his 15th chromosome which leads to autism like symptoms, seizures and learning challenges. My youngest son, Jacob has learning disabilities. Each of my children bring unique challengs to our family and also bring their own personality and joys to our everyday life!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Musings by Matthew

Tonight I read Matthew's writing assignment and HAVE to share it....if you had asked me could he write like this I would have hemmed and hawed and told you it was unlikely. I feel like this summer there is an avenue to his thoughts that has been opened.

When matthew makes up a song, you see his heart and hear what he thinks. When Matthew writes, you also get the blessing of seeing his heart. He makes me so proud in so many ways, but to have his words in print is INCREDIBLE!

His journal entry on July27, 2010:
I want to be a police officer when I grow up. I will rescooe (rescue- isnt it cute how he spelled it though) people when they need help. Bad guys won't stand a chance aginest me---(again love the spelling error!!)
I want to live in Bethlehem when I grow up. there are lot of shoping stores ( he takes after his bubbe's love of shopping!) When I grow up I will get a dog and take him to town park. I will live close to my mom- (ok, that is the part when I cried) It will be exciding to drive my own car in the town.

Is he a genius or what??? I have said it many times in the past and have to say it again now, I know that all parents are full of pride when their children do things for the first time. However there is an incredible joy that is remarkable when you wait extra long for your child to reach a milestone. I never expected to see his thoughts so organized. I have waited forever to hear him talk about what he wants to be when he grows up. Now I will pray and hope that he won't be a policeman.....however, to know that he has a dream, and sees himself living close to his mommy makes my heart swell with pride and joy!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

strangers part deux

OK, apparently Matthew has now mastered the concept of stranger...but this has led us to 2 new concepts that must be conquered.
1. Not embrassing our mother.
2. That it is ok sometimes for mom to chat with someone, but it is never ok for Matthew to stop a stranger on the street to chat with them.

Idiosincracies are intense to teach to anyone, but subtlety is a fine art that Matthew really needs to pick up on. We were at the grocery store today and while I always grocery shop with 3 in tow, sometimes it is easier than others. Today was a relatively easy day, but after going through 3/4 of the store, I just wanted to get done. We were at the aisle where I was encouraging each of the boys to pick their juice boxes for the week, and Jacob was walking in front of carts and pushing our cart and basically just attempting to be cute, but unfortunately his cute was about to get him or someone else hurt. I must have breathed that sigh of frustration cause one of the other ladies in the store smiled at me and said "you're doing great", I laughed and said something along the lines of "we're almost done....thank god" to which Matthew chimed in "we don't talk to strangers mom!" with exasperation. Which made Jacob chime in "no talking mom". While I rolled my eyes and tried to just get them to wait a minute, the other lady said "you are right boys", and I tried to explain that sometimes moms do chat with each other.....

But no matter how I tried to explain it, or tried to just get them quiet, it was like Matthew could have been smacked in the face with a GIGANTIC HINT and he was never going to catch on......subtlety, the art of communication, the rules of interaction among strangers and friends have to be so delicately taught. I am actually ok with the teaching aspect of all of this, but the public lessons that go along with it are hard....how do you explain these things while interacting with the stranger? Do we just all look down and speak to no one??? Do I just let him chat it up to the world?????

Thank god he is cute and recently has been funny.....but in my next life I will be writing a step by step instruction book of teaching interpersonal relationships for those that don't understand them....actually, it may just be easier to write the book for people who DO understand interpersonal relationships and teach them how to relate to people who don't!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Stupid brain damage...

I hate losing things...there I said it....I know it makes me angry, but compound something being lost with David truly being unable to remember and I lose my cool. It makes me so angry that his brain fails him. Why is it so hard for him to remember things? Why can he truly at times not just remember? This is likely just another symptom of his seizures and brain issues, but why can't the doctors define it? Why am I supposed to just accept this...I can't just accept it! There has to be a fix.

As I started making dinner the boys had asked if we could go to the pool. I figured once dinner was made, we could go for a little while. After putting the steak in the oven I went to the computer desk and gathered our pool passes, and went to also grab the pool pass for the babysitter. I had our passes and Danielle's pass at the computer last night and multiple times I thought "I should put these away" but I figured since they were all together and I knew where they were it was no big deal. I figured I would put them away later. I also had my library card and David's library card in the same place.

Well as I was gathering things, suddenly there were only 3 pool passes, not 4 and 1 library card, not 2. I immediately asked the boys who had used them. No sooner than the question was out of my mouth did David freeze - I hate the look on his face that he makes- it is like he knows that he has touched the item but for all the tea in China he cannot remember where he put it. So I start asking questions-
did you touch the card- Long awkward pause and finally - yes
did you play with it- yes
where did you play with it- long, long awkward pause and finally- in the play room
where in the play room- starts looking around and answers too quckily- on the floor- HELLO----the entire playroom is FLOOR- and there is no card on the floor....

Now we enter in to the world of the unknown- cause at this point David is willing to say anything that he thinks I want to hear, when in reality- there is nothing I want to hear, except WHERE ARE THE CARDS!!!

We go through a whole host of scenarios- I suggest things he may have done with the card, he greets every suggestion with an affirmative answer.....this is TRULY not HELPFUL. I think I could have suggested he ate the cards and he would have agreed.

Then, when you ask him to look for the card it is like life is too painful- he walks ever so slowly to where he thinks you want him to look and stands and stares.....and the more this goes on, the more my heart breaks, and the angrier I become because it is so unfair- while adults often forget where they put things, and I know a lot of kids are forgetful, with David it isn't just that he is forgetful it is the look on his face, the pain, the acknowledgement that he truly has no idea. He is not playing a game with me. he is not being silly or trying to duck out of being in "trouble". He truly has no idea and is completely lost.

I asked if he had played "library" with the cards, and he agreed he had- to support this idea Jacob made up a whole scenario of how they played library and what the game looked like and what they did-in reality my guess is that they didnt play library at all, but who knows for sure........and truly the library card and the pool pass can each be replaced for $5 so I dont know why I have allowed these 2 items being lost to ruin our entire evening.....but it is a vicious circle of me hating when things get lost and that being compounded with having to watch David painfully become out of touch with life and it is enough to break my heart. I could have sat and cried....which would have been better than tearing the house apart. I could have hugged him forever and that would still not have been long enough...but I was busy being mad and sad at the world. And hating that this is how we ended what was otherwise a perfectly wonderful fabulous weekend. But the reality of life SMACKED hard in my face tonight. I hate it....I want his brain to work. I want him to remember.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A post by Matthew

I am so thankful to have hired 2 wonderful babysitters for the 2 older boys this summer. David and Matthew are each so happy and so busy every afternoon. Today David got to go to his favorite place- the book store, but every day has been filled with a variety of activities including swimming in the pool, hanging at home and playing in the sprinkler. I feel like I have solved my dilemna on how to have a happy summer. For the second week in a row, all 3 boys are happy.....Matthew and David are having great afternoons, my mommy guilt is slowly going away...and today when the AC was broken the babysitter was at the house to let the repair guy in.....As a single working mom of 3- it doesnt often get any better than this......

That is, it doesnt get any better until at 10:00 at night you open your 9 year olds writing notebook and you start to cry.....I cannot believe the writing Matthew is doing. He has "optional homework" this summer and it has really made him excited- between that and having a 5th grade teacher as his babysitter, he has been super busy reading and writing.

Here is his post from yesterday.....
"I'm a good piano player. I slide my fingers on the keys. My keyboard it plays music on its own. I play twinkle twinkle little star. My mom bought me the keyboard because it broke. I know that keyboards are expensive."

and here is his post from today- to set the stage- we went to a minor league baseball game last night- we sat in the rain for a while before the game and he watched the players warm up. He asked incessantly about which snacks he could have at the game. Then we saw maybe 10 pitches and the game was called for rain. However, after reading his post today, he apparently took in a LOT more than I thought....
" I saw Bailey at the baseball game yesterday. Bailey is a baseball player. He runs the bases. He hits a home run all the time and Bailey plays catch with the players on his team"

Even if in the moment our activities do not always feel like a success, to read what he writes proves to me that we are on track and that everything we do has meaning and is important!
Thanks Matthew for letting me know how much you love our activities! Thanks Danielle and Heather for loving my boys and giving them such a great summer!

Monday, July 12, 2010

defining a stranger

I guess there really is no way to define the word "stranger". It is a known, or actually I guess, unknown, entity to all of us. If I tell you not to talk to strangers, you know what I am talking about. If I tell the kids at my preschool not to talk to strangers, we could have a chat about what that means, and while there may be slip ups, and reminders would be necessary....we could form a consensus as to who a stranger is.......tonight I learned, finally and exhaustedly, that Matthew lacks, or at least seems to lack, the ability to come to this consensus.

To matthew everyone is friend- that I already knew. However, categorizing people is a true mystery to him. He is talking to everyone that walks, drives, rollerskates, skateboards, or moves by our house in some other fashion. And I don't mean he is just saying hi, he is endearing each of them with some sort of personalized conversation:
"your baby is so cute"
"how old is your dog"
"does your motorcycle go fast"
"what road do you live on"
So given 3.5 seconds, as far as he is concerned he KNOWS them and therefore they are not strangers.

Here is his checklist:
If they know my name they can't be a stranger- they know his name, he tells them as he stops them to chat

If they live in his neighborhood they can't be a stranger-they must live in his neighborhood- duh, he is talking to them outside the house ( yes, I got this Duh complete with eye roll for my stupidity)

If they have a child, or a pet, they can't be a mean stranger- Duh, they have a child or a pet- what stranger do you know that would be allowed to watch a child or a pet?

So now I dare you....you define stranger for me......better yet, define it for him...... He even caught me by saying sometimes I talk to people I don't know- while this is not a habit of mine, I am a rather forgetful adult, and in my job I come in contact with LOTS of people. Often someone will stop me and chat and he will be pestering--what's their name, what's their name, what's their name, till I nearly kill him because I don't know their name. Then he tried to tell me if I don't know their name they must be a stranger.....but OY they are not a stranger.......UGH....I am just forgetful!

The saddest part of all of this is that Jacob is now copying a lot of this behavior from Matthew. The person they stopped today had a bike trailer and in the trailer was what I thought was a baby because Jacob kept telling me, or rather asking me why "it" couldnt walk....

I kept saying it was a baby, babies don't walk. Finally he got fed up with me and said, "It not walk, it leg broke"....to which I wanted to respond...if you knew it couldn't walk cause it had a broken leg, why have we been having this nonsensical conversation and wasted the last 20 minutes of my life...but instead I had to laugh cause of course no one would put a BABY in a bike trailer......DUH

Friday, July 9, 2010

Catching up

What a great few weeks it has been...we had a fabulous week together as a family that ended with an amazing 2 days in Connecticut. The boys are all doing so well- behaviorally things are good, and they are just simply happy. It is the kind of happy that you can only get when you are outside, swimming and enjoying the fresh air. We spent a good solid week swimming and basically just having fun. We celebrated Matthew's 9th birthday with a great day at a fun park- Go carts, bouncey bounces, and more Go carts- the kind of birthday that is made for Matthew.

Then we headed to CT to see my Aunts, Uncles, cousins and the boys Great Grandma. What a great 2 days- it had been a long time since I have seen all 3 of the boys doing this well! David experimented in the swimming pool, Jacob had a blast and matthew loved some 1 on 1 time with his Great Uncles, cousins and basically anyone who would play ball with him.

I had a great time celebrating life and enjoying watching my boys with my Aunts and Uncles. It was great to simply sit back and see their growth.

The most frustrating part of my life is that there is really no rhyme or reason for the boys ups and therefore no rhyme or reason for their downs. So when things are good I just have to sit back and enjoy the ride! The memories that were made watching matthew open his birthday presents, telling the world he was turning 9 and jumping for joy when the reality that he was "that much closer to 16 when he could drive a car" will stay with me forever!

We returned home to the start of summer school and Jacob and I returned to Nursery School camp! The boys both seem very happy to be back into their rhythm of school, and Jacob is loving life as the big man on campus at summer school!

Here's hoping to many more weeks of peace and happiness, and to more memories being created as we swim at the pool and hang with our friends!