Sunday, April 25, 2010

Cleaning up after FASD

Well, I agree with Kari. I hate FASD. I have mentioned before that my next door neighbor has 4 adopted kids. Two are from a sibling group, one has FAS-"S" is about 16, and the other has mild ARND-"P" is 20. S has been in a group home since last summer, until she was kicked out about a month ago.

Tonight, S threw a major rage, and was violent. I don't know the whole story, but she eventually threw something at her mom that caused a large gash in her eye brow, which then caused blood to cover her face. She is a single mom. She also has two 10 year olds who were adopted from Haiti. The two young ones, came running to our house, hysterical. P has not been staying at home the past several days due to a big explosion between he and his mom.

The police, fire and ambulance arrived. S was taken away handcuffed in the back of squad car (at least the 6th time we have seen this in the past several years-and there were times we have not seen it) to the hospital. Mom was taken in the ambulance to the hospital. I told her the little ones could sleep here tonight, and that I could come and pick her up from the hospital when she was ready.

I sat down with the little ones, who were quite scared. They are use to the police being called to their house, which is sad. But they are not use to seeing their mom covered in blood. We talked a lot. Then, they played with my kids and the bedtime schedule was thrown off. No problem. Except this messes up my FASD kid. But it all worked out.

I went to their house to get the jammies and stuff. There was a trail of blood over the main floor. I cleaned it up. One of the little ones couldn't sleep. We talked some more. I got her down for the second time, and my doorbell rang a few minutes later. It was P, the 20 year old who has not been around for a few days. He had gone home and could tell something was wrong.

I explained the situation to him. He was obviously shaken by it. We talked for a long time. He eventually shared that he doesn't think this explosion would have happened if he and his mom had not been fighting. He thinks that S felt the tension in the house, and it got to her. What a thoughtful guy. I told him that it is not his fault, that he can't control FASD explosions. Nobody can. It is just a matter of time until the next one hits.

We then started talking about his current struggles. He has not been able to make it in community college classes. He has not been able to hold down a part-time job. We talked about it for awhile. He is a very mildly affected by alcohol kid. Most people would not know there is anything wrong, even after being around him a lot. Eventually, if you are around Akila, you can tell there is something off. With P, it is not very obvious at all.

But I tried, to gently and sensitively, point out to him the reason he can't hold down a job, or go to school, is because of the mild damage to his brain. I talked to him about an "external brain" and that he needs support to make these kind of things work. He talked about wanting to be independent and being prideful. I asked if he felt independent now, living at home, with no money or job. He said no. I asked if he felt proud of himself. He said no. I tried to explain that if he would be willing to receive the help he needs, someone in his life who helps to make sure he gets to work, knows his schedule, helps with money management, etc., that he would be able to feel pride in himself.

I tried to explain that he should not feel dumb because of this brain damage, and that he is a very smart and intelligent person. But that more than likely, he would just continue in the same cycle if he did not get some support in any future employment opportunities. I so love this kid, he is really cool. I so want him to succeed. I offered to be his external brain, I will wait and see if he takes me up on it.

So, between our two households, there are three kids with FASD, and they are all over the spectrum. S is on the extreme, Akila is in the middle, and P is on the other extreme end, where he is mildly effected. And then there are the 5 other children (2 are hers, 3 are mine) who were not prenatally damaged by alcohol. But they have been damaged by alcohol. Every time they have to see the police come to their house, see their mom bleeding, watch their sister kicking their mom, watch their sister swearing at their mom, they are damaged.

It is just our job (Michael and mine, and my neighbor), to try to clean up after FASD. Tonight, I was literally cleaning up after FASD- wiping up blood. Often, I am cleaning up after one of Akila's rage. But more often, the cleaning up consists of damage control. Trying to have deep discussions with the other kids, about what just happened, what might happen, how to handle it, how we did handle something, etc. Teaching them to love, forgive, and most of all, to learn how to see Christ in themselves, and to show this side to others. In watching how we handle Akila, and our neighbors, we learn the most about our own sins and weaknesses.

I gotta get some sleep, I have a lot of cleaning up to do.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Well, I am thankful that we had about 4-5 weeks of decent behavior-her longest stretch ever. The tide is changing, Akila is on a downhill slide lately. We are back to walking on egg shells at home and trying to avoid rages.

I just got a call from the behavior specialist at school. Akila was taking a practice MCA test. Her aide was helping, with the parts she can help on. Akila was getting frustrated. She lost it and swore and called her names. I spoke with her on the phone about other choices she could have made than calling names and swearing. Have had that conversation a zillion times. Can't wait for the day when it actually sticks. Do you think that will happen?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Fun at the Dr.

I picked Akila up after school for an appointment with her Developmental Pediatrician. She was very quiet on the drive there, wouldn't really answer my questions, kind of zoning. We were quite early, and she was very quiet in the waiting room, did not want to read or talk. Til the end of our wait when she got an excellent idea.

She thought we should go clothes shopping when we were done. She does not need any clothes, we have not got enough room in her drawers already. I gave several reasons why that would not work out. I also suggested that we could do a behavior/reward chart for her to earn some new clothes. She didn't like this idea. She was not taking no for an answer. She kept perseverating about it.

Then the nurse called our name and brought us to the weigh in station. Akila cooperated, but had a mad look on her face. When the nurse was not looking, Akila gave me many evil looks, she is really good at these. She then brought us to our exam room, asked all the questions, and left us alone. I should have begged her to stay.

The minute she left, the clothing thing continued. She would not get off the topic, I tried all my tricks. She escalated. The Dr. was in the next exam room with a different family, I could hear him. So, I am sure he could hear Akila. She got loud. She swore a little, called names, and raged. She threw her shoes at me, and anything she could find. She kicked me, my shin immediately got swollen, looks like a golf ball is under my skin. I finally had to restrain her. She was fighting the restraint big time, I was really struggling with her. I let her out of the restraint twice but had to put her back in it as she went for the computer.

He finally came in while I had her in the basket hold restraint. I let go of her, he pulled up a chair right next to her, and asked what the problem was. She would not answer. He tried a few times, then gave up and went to the computer and began asking me the typical questions. She stayed calm, until the appt was over. It all started over on the walk out. Minus the hitting and raging, just the perseverating on the clothing.

By the time we got to the car, she kind of stopped. I was relieved. I wasn't sure if she was going to get in the car and I was parked on Chicago Avenue, a busy street. Note to self- don't park there in future. We had to go to school to pick up Zeke from his after school class, and about half way there, she decided she wanted cream cheese wontons and that we should get them for dinner.

I explained that I had dinner at home in the crock pot. She didn't care. She wanted wontons. She was escalating again, and I finally said I would think about it. She quieted down, and we picked up Zeke. Half way home from school, the wonton thing started again, then stopped. We arrived home, and about 3 minutes later, the wonton thing was back. I said no, we would get some over the weekend. Rage #2 started. It was not fun.

The whole night was like this, on and off, off and on. I am tired. Went to bed last night at 9:45 (unheard of for a night owl like me), and I think I am about to hit the sack again. Did I mention that I have been jogging for a few weeks, and I was able to go 2.3 miles today. Maybe that is why I am tired.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Good start, bad end

Michael brought the girls to the father/daughter tea at church this morning. They all three looked amazing. Akila was able to hold it together and they all had a good time- hooray for daddy!!!! Here are a few of the pictures:

Below is Daddy and Imani

Daddy and Akila

Imani on the left, Akila on the right

We were having a neighborhood yard sale. Normally, I would avoid this like the plague, but the neigbors decided to have it across the street form our house in the parkway area. This is also where the block party always is. Evening events like a block party are a set up for diaster- but we can't avoid it. So once a year, we deal with the raging and the issues. Now, the yard sale is a new one to deal with.

I was just getting it set up when Michael and the girls were leaving. I left most of Akila's old clothes in bags until she was gone. When they got home in the afternoon (the tea was over 3 hours long- kudos to Akila for making it- 8 course meal), Akila of course was upset that a lot of her old clothes were on the sale table and promptly took them off. No big deal, they weren't selling anyway.

The boys had been playing with the neighborhood kids all day, and there is one boy in particular that Akila has been having a hard time getting along with. Especially because this boy said this week that he likes Imani. So the jealousy is huge. She seethes about him daily, if he is around. Eventually, late this afternoon, she was losing it with him.

I was trying to get showered and ready to go to Emily's baby shower (our old babysitter), and getting strawberries and fruit dip ready to bring, when Akila lost it outside. I got her in the house, restrained her, Michael helped, but it took 1 1/2 hours to get her calmed down. It was not pretty.

The good news, is that this was the first rage in 5 weeks since she started her new med. She was losing it on Friday night as well, but we were able to head it off before it got out of control. Not so tonight. I was over an hour late for the shower, and could not even stay for an hour as I had told Akila I would be home for bedtime. This was a bummer. I love Emily dearly and enjoy her friends as well. I think they make me feel young, as they are all in their twenties and fun to hang out with.

Here is to hoping we can make it through a rage-free Sunday.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Father/daughter tea

Our church has a father/daughter tea tomorrow and Michael is bringing the girls- they are so excited! It is actually set up as a royal tea and it is a formal event, meaning the girls dress up and dads wear suits.

They have to come up with royal names and titles which they write on the ticket. When they arrive, they give the ticket to the royal page who announces them to the king and queen and the royal court. They have valet parking, a village where each girl can use a "penny pouch" they receive and purchase delicacies and crafts from the citizens, and several other things. How cute is that?

As a youth worker in my professional career, I have read a lot of research and been to a lot of trainings and conferences on healthy adolescents. One of the most key factors to a teenage girl not going down the wrong path, is their relationship with their father. Imani is very close to Michael, they have a very special bond and I want this to continue to flourish and grow.

Akila is a different story, obviously. With her FASD, relationships are difficult for her, even within the family. She has always been obsessed with me, often only I can give her the meds or do things like that (unless I have recently said no to her, and then I am the living version of satan in her mind and she only loves daddy- you know the game). She does have a good relationship with Michael considering how her brain works, but there is always room for improvement.

I will take pictures before they leave and post them on the blog. I can't tell you how much I wish I could be a fly on the wall at this event.


The kids just left for school, and I am in awe of how well our mornings have been going the last 3 or 4 weeks. The biggest change is that her new med is helping tremendously and I can't tell you how wonderful this is. We were super resistant to meds at all so we are humbled at how the Lord has shown us that He can work through all things.

But we did change a few things in our morning routine, and I can't remember if I blogged about them. I now get Akila up one full hour before the bus comes, we use to do 30 minutes. She has to take her meds and get dressed, and she can then watch TV until it is time to go. I know this is not the best parenting strategy, but it works, and sometimes, that is all that matters.

I use to try and give her a little time to wake up more before I gave her the meds or had her get dressed, and we would have explosion after explosion. I actually think it helps to have her be a little sleepy as she is taking the meds. We have had some mornings that do not go too smoothly, but we basically don't leave her room until she has done these two things.

Now, the meds have some time to kick in before she actually has to leave. Before, in the morning, if we made it without crazy explosions during the meds or dressing routine, she would undoubtedly find something petty to explode about as the kids get their coats on and are about to leave.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

KSTP TV - Minneapolis and St. Paul - Hastings teen's parents comment on gun-in-school arrest

This video is a very brief clip of the Hastings boy and his parents that I saw on Channel 5 tonight. I was yelling at the TV. Oops. I am glad they are covering it, bringing attention to FASD, but wish they did a bit more research and did not call it "rare". Most research shows that 1 in 100 are affected by pre-natal exposure to alcohol.

KSTP TV - Minneapolis and St. Paul - Hastings teen's parents comment on gun-in-school arrest

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My Ob/Gyn

I have a fantastic Ob/Gyn. I got her when she first started practising and the crusty old Dr. that I had retired. I was very young, still in college, and not smart enough to look for the right Dr., I just went to whoever they scheduled me with. He left, I got this new young Dr. who I liked instantly. Twenty years later, she is listed in the top Dr. list always and I think her practice is closed. I really like her.

I like her even more now. At my really enjoyable yearly visits with her (get the sarcasm), I always talk a few minutes about FASD and life with a child living with FASD. I went a step further this year. I bought her a Damaged Angels book and gave it to her at my last visit (it is appropriate to give a gift to someone who is placing foreign objects inside of you, isn't it?). She was going to Mexico on spring break the next week and was excited (or at least acted to be) to have a book to read. She asked if she should mail it back to me. I said no, that she should make sure that it is passed around to all the Ob/Gyns in the office when she is done with it.

She called me yesterday with some test results and mentioned the book at the end of the call. She said she thought it was an excellent book and she has about 30 pages to finish. She had no idea about how the kids are truly impacted by the alcohol and was amazed at what our family must be dealing with. She was glad to have had read the book and was going to be sharing it with the other Dr.'s (she works in a very large clinic). I told her I was so appreciative that she had read it and just wanted to make sure that as an Ob/Gyn, she understands the importance of counseling expecting moms on alcohol abstinence during pregnancy.

My friend was laughing at me when I told her I did this. She sometimes thinks that I am a little "out there" when it comes to talking about FASD. I told her if she had to live with it 24/7, she would do everything she could to get the word out also. I think I have bought at least a dozen of the Damaged Angels, by Bonnie Buxton, books in the past year. Have you read it? If not, you should get it from the library. Even if you are not living with it, you must know someone who is (maybe me). It is a book everyone should read.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The weekend

We had a really peaceful weekend, it was great. Akila went to my friend Curt and Lori's from Friday through Sunday, and she was really good for them, which was great news!

The other 3 kids had a friend over for a sleepover on Friday night, and on Saturday night, we went out to dinner, shopping at a mall and came home and watched Oliver Twist together. It was really nice. The most odd thing about the night, was when we were wandering around the mall, browsing at stores, eating ice cream in the food court, etc. I realized that this is not something we can "normally" do.

Normally, we avoid malls like the plague with Akila and if we are in one, we are always on edge and thinking ahead; like what is the path of least resistance when we leave Nick Universe to get to our car, how can we avoid walking by the American Girl store, where is there a Claire store, as we do not want to walk by one of them either. Where should we park, so when we are leaving, if we are in rage mode, we won't have to walk through the housewares department where there is breakable stuff in the path.

We were walking around the mall, having an enjoyable time, being silly with the kids and were just very relaxed. We also went out for lunch after church on Sunday, and our food took longer than normal to arrive. When this happens when Akila is with, I feel like talking the server aside and explaining that she/he could be potentially ruining our entire day by this delay, and that I cannot be held responsible for the behavior which is about to occur. But, it was no big deal.

I picked up Akila around 3:00. Lori had already gone through her backpack and the main thing she had tried to steal, was a pack of lip gloss. Lori had already taken it out. I also went through her back pack, and I was being very through. I went through all the pockets of all the clothes in the bag. I went through Akila's pockets on the clothes she was wearing, and looked under her clothes and at her underwear (last year she came home with their bra and underwear on). She had nothing- Hallelujah!

About an hour after we got home, the kids came inside and said she had a cell phone. She had taken one of Lori's daughter's cell phones. Lori had said it was missing, but she was sure it was her daughter's fault- a reason why I looked so hard through Akila's stuff (she loves cell phones). I could not believe it. I asked her how she got it home, and she said she put it inside her teddy bear. Her old raggedy bear has holes in it and virtually no stuffing in it anymore. I had not thought of looking in it. Wow, I was almost proud of her for thinking of such a sophisticated hiding place. Ha ha.

So, I'm having lunch with Lori today so I can return the cell phone. Thankfully, Lori and Curt don't get bothered by things like this, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate them and their family. They even have their house on the market and had to leave both days while there was an open house- now that is true friendship.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A sad article

Look at this article in today's Star Tribune about the boy who brought a gun to a Hastings Middle School. It breaks my heart. When will society wake up to the challenges FASD causes?

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I am almost recovered from spring break, and wouldn't you know it, there is no school tomorrow. Sigh. But, this is the weekend when my friend from high school and her husband, Lori and Curt, take Akila to give us all a break. What a blessing.

I am really looking forward to it, and so are the kids. They are all having a friend sleep over tomorrow night, and then on Saturday night, we will have some peaceful family time. I just sat and typed up an info sheet for Lori and Curt, and it is making me laugh. I remember when we watched my friend Heather's oldest son overnight almost 8 years ago. Liam was a baby and we must have had 3 kids at this time, ages 2, 1 and 6 months.

She brought this two page typed document on how to take care of him. We were going to Michael's brother's house for dinner and brought Liam with. Dan and Tara have 5 kids, and their good friends were there who have 8 kids. We all read the directions and had a good time laughing at Heather's expense. Heather and I still laugh about this, she now has 3 kids and is much more laid back. :)

So, I am laughing that I have to type up a super long document on my 10 year old. Curt is picking Akila up after he gets off work tomorrow, so I won't be seeing Lori to give instructions. I had to include things like; don't let her on a computer that does not have security or she will get on porn, warn your kids about her fowl mouth, she does not have asthma but tells everyone she does, don't believe any whopper stories she tells you- they are not true, if you bring her anywhere in public- check her pockets before you leave, etc.

Not the typical list you would be giving for a 10 year old. But I guess our life is anything but typical. And I love it when people who have typical lives, get to experience a weekend that is not typical. Thanks Lori and Curt- you guys ROCK!!!! Who wants the next turn?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


I am so sick of the TV options that are on now-a-days. I was just saying to Michael last week that there are never any prime time shows that are appropriate for kids. I remember watching Little House on the Prairie and other shows like Different Strokes (an interesting show looking at my current family), Charles in Charge, Happy Days, and many other shows, that were not so "risque" as the shows of today's standards.

The only show my kids currently watch is Extreme Home Makeover. Sometimes I let them watch American Idol or Dancing with the Stars- but those shows are so full of "sexiness" and I don't even like that. I am very desperate if I am letting them watch those shows, and it rarely happens. Actually, Hezekiah in particular, loves the Biggest Loser. And they are pretty good on that show at focusing on the health aspect of weight, so I am OK with that show as well.

During spring break, I realized that the local video rental store has the Gilligan's Island series and I rented the 2nd year series. The kids have loved it, even became obsessed with it. Now, I realize that Ginger and even Mary Ann, are quite sexy. But they are not too bad compared to today's standard. They like the show so much, that I just got on-line and ordered the complete series of Gilligan's Island.

I think I might also look into trying to get the Adams Family, Munsters, Brady Bunch and some others for when I really need something to pull out of the air! I can't wait to watch them all!


The week before spring break, I received an email from the Family Coordinator at Children's Hospitals and Clinics. They needed some children for a photo shoot for some new mission posters they are making. We were scheduled for some professional photos last Tuesday. All we were told was to have the kids wear solid colored shirts.

I remembered this on the night before at 9:30 after I put the kids to bed, and our appt was for 10 am the next day. I went on a mission for solid colored shirts. I was not very successful. The ones I could find, either had holes in them from the dog (as I have been getting spring/summer clothes out of storage, I have discovered that 1/2 of them have holes from the puppy), or stains. I was able to come up with two white tshirts for the girls, a turquoise polo for Zeke (with some subtle stains on it), and nothing for Hezekiah. They had said they would have some shirts available within the palette they wanted if needed.

I set the alarm, got up, and started with brushing all the junk off their teeth myself, lotioning up their ashy skin, and trying to get them presentable. I had them wear khaki's and we brought jeans with also. We got there and found out they wanted jeans on. They all changed pants. They did not want white tshirts so they found shirts to have them all change into.

They wanted them to wear white socks. This was a funny one. I stopped years ago matching socks when I do laundry. I just put them in their drawers, and they rarely wear matching socks. Especially Imani, who could care less- and being a girl, she often has different colored socks on with different designs. This was no exception. They boys socks are usually some shade of white, or should I say gray, with subtle differences, including holes in the toes. Needless to say, they had to give them all new socks.

They started with Imani, and she looked gorgeous! She is a somewhat shy girl, but when she is on stage or in front of a camera, she is so natural!! As they are taking her pictures, they realize she has some creases in her jeans. They have the other 3 take their jeans off so they can press the wrinkles and creases out. I was laughing my head off the entire time, as we looked quite like the rag muffin family of the century.

They had a make up artist who did make up for all 4 of them, and it was a lot of fun. Akila only had a few issues and they were not ones the people noticed. They had given her a pink shirt (as she had requested) which was too small. This of course was fine with her as the tighter the clothes, the better in her mind. They wanted her to change into a different shirt, and I told them I was fine with that but they should tell her (she would have lost it with me).

The shirt issue ended up lasting close to an hour (it took nearly 2 hours for all 4 kids), and she was not liking the options they were having her change into. But it all worked out. The kids each get a Target gift card for being involved, and Akila asked the lady when they would receive them. She said she had forgotten them and would mail them the next day. I did not know this until we were on our way home. Nuts. You don't tell any kid this if it is not what you intend on doing, but you especially don't tell a FASD kid this.

I had to explain a hundred times on Tuesday that it would not arrive on Wednesday if she mailed it on Wednesday, but more likely on Friday or Saturday. This caused several rages and meltdowns, especially everyday when the mail arrived and it was not in the mail. I thought it had been momentarily forgotten when the kids returned to school yesterday. But when Akila walked in the door after school yesterday, it was the first thing she asked about. I always love how she cannot remember her times tables, but a promised gift card will be remembered for eternity.

Anyway, the pictures are amazing and I am going to share a few of them with you. Don't I have beautiful children??? ;)

Friday, April 2, 2010

Smooth spring break

We have had the smoothest spring break ever, I am so thankful. Akila has been really good, very few meltdowns. The weather has been nice, and it has been a lot of fun. I really needed to have some time to enjoy all the kids.

We spent over 5 hours at a park yesterday with my friend Heather and her kids, it was nice. I even got some slight sun on my face. Good old vitamin D, does the body good. Today, the kids did some chores and we went swimming at the health club. Tomorrow night, we are going to the Timberwolves game with the free tickets the kids earned from reading so many pages- should be fun.

That's all for now, gotta get some stuff done.