Mindfulness

It’s been a while since I’ve written. Anything.

I’ve been trying to be more mindful the last month by trying being away from the computer, put my phone down more often (ok, clearly I still always have it on me and take tons of pictures but I’m trying not to endless scroll thorough feeds) and sometimes, sometimes, even just sit. Gasp! And man oh man is it hard.

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Life was feeling too out of control – all was well and good, but everything was just too busy. Including my brain and it was starting to hurt.

Home has been fantastic; Jonathan has been rockin’ it at school, daycare and home (mostly). There’s a new consistency in his behaviour and he’s been super happy. Anthony is also doing well and Gord and I are both doing things we love outside of work like gardening and playing music. We’ve also started meeting with an ASL tutor and I’m becoming more involved with a local organization that supports families who have experienced hearing loss and deafness.

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Throw in some nice weather and you’ve suddenly also got parks to visit and hikes to do and a yard to take care of and flowers to water and cars to wash and bikes to ride…and then before you know it, the day is done.

Work has also been fantastic; I’ve been facing fears and doing presentations, attending amazing conferences and doing lots of great program planning. But it’s busy and brain consuming.

There’s so much goodness happening right now, yet not enough time for everything, somethings have needed to be sacrificed; like a clean house and swapping dressers for laundry baskets (it just never seems to make it from the basket to the drawers anymore and I gotta say it’s so much more efficient to cut out the middle man). And writing. And although I have let the first two go pretty easily I’ve missed writing. I’ve missed my little adoption community.

I’ve been trying everyday to just sit and let my mind wander. Which I gotta tell ya is real tricky. I’m happy with myself if I can do it for just a couple of minutes. To be able to sit and not be on my phone, make a to do list, talk to or think about Jonathan or anything else. Just be. Be conscious of my breathing, what I see and what I hear. I must say I’m not very good at it but I’m trying.

The next couple of months show no sign of slowing down as we plan to pack in as much summer as we can. We have lots of visitors heading our way, summer camps, new routines, hikes to do and beautiful weather to enjoy. I hope, however, with these busy summer days also come a more laid back pace and more writing. And sitting. And just being.

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Future

Sometimes I dream about us in the future packing up and moving far away for a new adventure, it’s a dream but we have said that we will one day do just that. I dream about spending more time in the mountains, winning the lottery, living close to family, what I would sew if I had the time and lots of other big picture, generalized life stuff.

But what the future holds in the details; what it looks like for me, for us as a family and particularly for Jonathan, I can’t even begin to imagine.

I can’t even make it past thinking about our big school meeting in a few days, or wondering if he’ll listen tomorrow.

Whatever the future holds for Jonathan I wish for 3 things for him (ok, it’s more like 7 but 3 sounds better)

That he is happy and healthy
That he is kind, that he helps others and is empathetic
That he comes to a place of understanding where he comes from and accepts who he is

We know that kids like Jonathan have a harder shot at become ideal citizens, top students, business leaders, and all the other idealistic things that one can hope of achieving.

But I’ve always believed in the underdog.

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Baby, you’re a firework, go on let your colours burst…

 

*This post is part of the Weekly Adoption Shout Out and follows this weeks theme “The Future” over at The Adoption Social. Please check out this amazingly supportive adoption community, and also read some other great adoption blogs.

The Good and The Bad Update

Things continue to be nutty around here and as such I haven’t had time to write as much as I want to or as thoughtfully as I want to. But, I thought I would spit out a wee update.

First the not so great update:

A couple weeks ago we had our first ‘operation destroy my bedroom’ happen. It was a terrible day all around that stood out like a sore thumb amongst generally good days (at home anyway).
In the morning I mistakenly told Jonathan that we were having friends over that night. He happened to know the lady because she was a worker in the group home where he stayed for a few months at one point, and now who Gord works with. He clearly had some confused feelings over it all because after a disastrous hour at home of hitting and screaming I took him for a big walk to try to break the cycle but that turned into a biting, screaming, hitting match on the sidewalk.
Back at home he continued to be aggressive to the point where I put him in his room and had to hold the door closed. Every time he was calm I would go in and try to sit with him and he would again start punching and scratching so I would get up and leave and we’d start again. In the end, hours later, everything in his room was dumped and thrown and he was one tired and emotional boy. We eventually cleaned up together after having a little chat. Needless to say we cancelled out plans for the night. Lesson learned.

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I continue to miss more and more work because Jonathan has now been put on a modified schedule at school because they can’t/won’t handle him for the whole time of kindergarten…a whole 2 hours and 45 minutes. So we are now going for 1 hour and 15 minutes meaning I miss two hours of work each morning. This plus being blind sided by an arrogant and rude principal that they want to move him to another school – just temporarily, for kids who are emotionally disturbed (and where they restrain children and have time out rooms). Then they would move him back to this school. Ummm, did they not get the notice about the fact he has attachment issues?! Gord and I both refuse to move him to this school but we are not sure if we have many options left if they continue to fight us on it.
We know what needs to happen: 1. They need to get a better 1:1 aide (yes he has a full time aide, but they are terrible and he still manages to run out of class, hit kids and generally be a turkey…what is the aide doing? Good question) 2. They need to be implementing our ideas and strategies in the class room instead of punishing him and timing him out 3. They need to include him in the class and have the same expectations as the other kids instead of him coming for 1 hour and sitting at a table by himself and not being required to line up etc. This one makes me the most angry. And 4. They need to give him time; we saw the same patterns when he first moved in with us, when he first started day care and now at school. He needs time.
I’m so grateful I work for a flexible company who understands that I need to take time off for meetings, emails, late drop offs etc. but at some point they are going to have to say enough is enough if things continue like this. My goal is to have it resolved by Christmas but that may be wishful thinking.

Now the fun stuff!

Two weekends ago our fire stations had open houses. Jonathan has a thing for all things emergency, but firetrucks dominate his love. I took him and he was so stunned he held my hand as we walked into the station (or ‘spaceship’ as he calls it) and was quiet for about 21 seconds. He got to climb all over the trucks and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him smile so big:)

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Last weekend was Thanksgiving and Gord and I were very thankful to a wonderful support in our life for watching Jonathan while we got to have a mini getaway down to Montana. It was so, so quiet and wonderful. The hotel was amazing with fantastically delicious food and it was really nice for it to be just the two of us.

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Now, I am currently working on a plan buy a log cabin in the mountains and grow carrots for my 2 horses that I will board while I sew on the side and Gord teaches. A girl can dream…

Hoping that this week is a quiet one:)

 

Forever

It finally happened.

Last Thursday we got word that our adoption had been granted! (Technically it was August 17th but, whatever, details, details).

We explained to Jonathan that we would get a special letter in the mail saying that he can stay with mommy and daddy forever. The next day, home sick from school, I made a big deal of going to the post office to get the letter. Whether he really understood I don’t know, but he did start chatting away in the car about ‘letter, mummy, daddy, Tony FOREVEEEER!!!!’

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He did grasp on that I was talkin’ ’bout some serious piece of paper because all afternoon, while we waited for dad to come home before we opened it, he kept track of his letter; drawing on the outside of the envelope, checking in with me if it was time to open it and if it was out of sight he would ask me where it was.

Gord brought home cake and we made a big deal about each taking a turn to cut the cake as a family and ‘read’ the letter. The official notice now has chocolate cake smeared on it, which I think is just about as perfect as it could get;)

HAPPY ADOPTION DAY LITTLE ROCKET!!!

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The Village

From day one, Gord’s family and my own have been very supportive in out decision to adopt. Our friends and colleagues were also excited and everybody asked lots of questions and gave us lots of love.

Over the past 11 months, I don’t think we would have survived without the support from these same family and friends. There were days when we felt, and still do, very alone. You know, those really tough hard days that feel like things will be terrible forever? But often there is my sister, a friend, a coworker…a stranger (I tend to chat with cashiers a lot) willing (or at least nodding along and letting me blab) to listen, offer suggestions and, at the least, to empathize and encourage.

A couple of weeks ago Jonathan spent the night with his last foster mom, Monique. Or as Jonathan calls her “my Moni”. She’s an amazing lady. She hadn’t seen him for while and remarked on how full of love he was and that we are doing such a good job with him. I told her that in no way have we done this alone; it started with her and it was every teacher, therapist, friend, family member, daycare staff and any one else who has every hugged him, showed him they care and loved him unconditionally. She remarked back “the village!” and I thought that was a truly fitting description.

To everyone in our Village, thank you for your support.

Them Mountains

There’s therapy out in them mountains (and foothills) and we are on the look out.

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We’ve not only enjoyed getting out for ourselves the past four weekends, but have notice changes with Jonathan as well, which was our main goal to begin with. Although we were just hoping to help him burn some energy, it’s effects seem to be more far reaching than that.

So far we’ve done one fairly hard hike, 2 easy/moderate hikes and an easy but loooong walk through a really huge prairie hill in the middle of our city (it’s called Nose Hill, is 11 square km and it’s one of my favourite places in Calgary)

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The changes are subtle that we are seeing in Jonathan and they could be due to other factors too – we’ve removed time outs and have been using more natural consequences and have been doing a lot more debriefing and talking. But, we are fairly certain that they might be related to our hiking.

There is a large amount of trust and confidence that he is suddenly needing to have with us and himself. He inevitably needs to rely on us; hold our hands on certain part of the trail for safety, trust we won’t let him fall as he jumps off big rocks, let us talk him through going down a steep incline and be close to him just in case but give him the room to work it out himself (it also forces him to slow down and think about where his feet are going and plan each step). The more these things happen, the more some little things are shifting.

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In the last couple weeks he has, several times, held my hand in parking lots (a rule we have) without me even asking. I just hold out my hand and he grabs on. There’s been a few times when he’s even asked or just come up and grabbed my hand while out running errands. HUGE!

He is listening better. At home that is:) Overall he’s taken things down a notch and instead of getting upset or shutting down, he’s able to listen to an explanation and accept it. WHOA!

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He’s been labelling his feelings more. We’ve been working on this so it could just be as a result of that, but we’ve been doing it for a while and nothing has come about. Since hiking he’s been able to identify being frustrated and sad a couple of times on his own.

He seems calmer on the last two hikes. He’s not full steam ahead the whole time and doesn’t need to be first the whole time. He is sometimes slowing down a bit, dragging behind, checking things out. He seems distracted occasionally but it’s a different kind of distraction – not in a ‘squirrel!’ kind of way but actually looking at things, going slow enough to see little things around him like flowers.

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Not all of these little shifts happen all the time or to their potential full outcome; they are subtle and slight and would probably go unnoticed if we weren’t looking so darn hard for them.

But, they are significant in their own way.

I’ve also really been enjoying spending this time with Jonathan. I wrote a few weeks ago how going back to work has been overwhelming. With that has come way less patience and it’s nice to put it all aside for a few hours each week and just enjoy being with him and being outside and doings something that is challenging. It’s also been fun to teach him a little bit about plants and flowers and animals as we chit chat along the way. Plus, it just feels good to be out in the sun and moving.

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I’ve made a commitment to myself and to him to get out more this fall/winter (I tend to hunker in for the winter) and keep this going. I hope the positive changes keep a-comin’ !

Side note: I started writing this the night before kindergarten started, before his little world got jostled again and thew him for a loop. Things have quickly, ahem, slide down the mountain if you will, and we are working hard to reclaim some security and safety and good behaviour. Hopefully things settle down soon again. Fingers crossed. And toes.

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The Corn Circle

This time last year we knew we had been matched with Jonathan but were waiting for a court date to pass because of a mistake that the social workers had made. Without the court stuff being finalized we couldn’t schedule our infoshare and it was an intense time.

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To make things even more torturous, or great depending on the day and how I looked at it, we had an ‘in’ with Jonathan and knew what he was up to and how he was doing through my boss (at the time) because she was doing respite for him. But, we weren’t allowed to meet or talk to him or have anything to do with him yet.

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The waiting was really getting to me and one weekend I knew my boss was having Jonathan over and they were going to the corn maze. It’s a huge place with not only a corn maze but a petting zoo, bouncy castles, games, and more, and it looked like crazy fun.

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I remember being so mad and the word jealous probably doesn’t do my feelings justice. I wanted to be taking him there. I wanted to be doing fun things. The longer we waited the more we missed out on and hearing what we were missing out on had gotten too much and I had reached my waiting tolerance.

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Well, now we know how the story unfolded, and a few days ago I got to take Jonathan to the corn maze! Me and my boy! Something about it felt full circlish. And satisfying. And great. And to top if off he was on his best behaviour and even peed in a portapotty (this is BIG people, I was over the moon!). It was also the first day in a while that I was really excited to spend with him and didn’t dread or worry or feel down or annoyed or….perhaps my new medication is working…? But regardless, it was so nice to enjoy Jman and see him happy and think about how far we’ve come.

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And wouldn’t you know it, as we arrived at the gate guess who was also arriving? Yep, my old boss and her husband and their two newly(ish) adopted kids. Jonathan was super excited to see them and I had a good chuckle at the irony of it all.