Thursday, October 10, 2013


I think I have been in blog recovery.  Not sure I am out of it yet, but I am giving it a shot.  I have been using Google Reader for years to follow everybody's blogs and they shut it down this summer so I have not even been reading people's blogs.  Again, I think I have been in recovery.

I also have been super swamped with my job at MOFAS.  I have met some amazing families and I really enjoy working with them.  There is such a huge need, so many families struggling.  I had three main jobs in the youth development field before we started our family.  I loved all three of them.  I love working with teenagers.  And I absolutely love being a Family Resource Coordinator at MOFAS.  I never thought I would find a job in a different field that was a better fit than youth work.  I think I was wrong.

I so wish there had been someone I could have called when Akila was 6 and we first realized she had an FASD.  I called MOFAS at that point and didn't get any support.  It wasn't until I went to a training that Kari was leading that I actually met somebody else who lives this life and understands the dynamics we deal with daily.  She was the one who helped get me into blogging and took several desperate phone calls from me over the years.

I feel that I am now doing that for other families.  I don't always do it right.  I don't always say the right thing.  I don't always have the answers they are looking (rarely do I have the answers as a matter of fact).  But most of the time, just being a parent living the same type of life, makes a big difference.  Last night was one of my new support groups that meets in Eden Prairie.  We had 6 moms at it.  It was energizing.  It went great.  They were super supportive of each other.  It felt right.

Akila had a pretty good spring and summer.  She is in 9th grade.  She is struggling.  Normally, she does fine each school year until November when she starts to feel comfortable and her behaviors start up.  This year, the behaviors started up the 2nd week of school.  I think the pressure of high school is hard for her, and for the first time, she is dealing with anxiety that we have never really seen before.

My heart is breaking.  If I had the energy and the courage, I would try to start up a charter school for kids with FASDs.  The majority of our kids are too high functioning to fit into the pull out special ed programs.   They get eaten alive in the typical high schools if they are mainstreamed as they are so vulnerable and get sucked into drugs, alcohol and all things icky.   Akila is in a small high school where it would be more difficult for her to fall between the cracks.  But the downside is that there are not enough students to offer different levels of math, or other subjects.  She is having to sit through the regular 9th grade geometry, and biology for example.  She is actually doing better grade wise in those two classes, as she has some individualized help.  She is bombing English, as she doesn't have extra help.  We are working on that, but high school is going to be hard for her.

Imani, Hezekiah and Zeke are all doing great.  We had a nice summer full of adventure.  Our bummer news is that the company Michael has been working at the past two years relocated to Texas, so he is unemployed (as of mid August).  Job hunting is never fun.  Hope all is well with all of you.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Croods

Akila was home for the Easter weekend.  She did pretty well, a few bumps here and there, a lot of riding on the fence, but all in all, a blessed weekend.

We did go to see the movie the Croods which was a funny movie.  My favorite part was driving home listening to the kids talk about it.  The main character, Eep (have no idea if I am even close on the names or not), was a girl who climbed everything and was fearless.  As we were driving, the kids were saying she was like Imani.  Makes sense, Imani is a crazy climber.  They were saying Dad is like the dad in the movie, as he was protecting his family.  Made sense.

Then, Akila said she was like the baby in the family because she bites.  I looked at her, and burst out laughing.    The baby girl in the movie was fierce, attacking, and biting, and was a fearless spaz.  Akila laughed, and for the next 30 minutes, talked about how she was the baby in the Crood family.  We laughed about this together.  Not inappropriately, she did not feel bad.  We embraced something that she recognizes in herself.  I told her that we love her, even if she is a girl who bites occasionally and acts like a total spaz.

I was impressed that she recognized this within herself.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Catching Up

I have five blog posts that are in draft form that I have started and not finished over the past several months.  It has been hard to blog.  For several reasons.

Akila finished her time in the Residential Treatment Center (RTC) on February 15th.  She moved into a group home 15 minutes from our home.  It is wonderful to have her closer to home.  We spend time with her as a family twice a week, and I have seen her more than that with Dr. appointments and from giving her rides after school as we waited for the school transportation to be set up.

It has been going pretty well.  She had about a 7 month honeymoon at the RTC.  It took her that long to get violent.  I have been saying for almost a year now, that the RTC is the exact kind of structure that she thrives in.  She did really well there.  Many kids do not.  She did.  It took her just under a week to get violent at the group home.  A short honeymoon.  More typical of her.

It is a great group home.  Group homes just don't have the same level of structure or a similar atmosphere that the RTC had.  The other challenge, is that I think one of the reasons that she was successful at the RTC was that her social needs were being met for the first time in years.  The two other girls in this home (there is an opening, so there will be 4 girls), are much lower functioning than Akila.  This was one of my questions when we first heard about the home.  At that point back in December, there was one girl remaining (several girls have just aged out), and she was closer to Akila.  That girl just moved out.  And the other two spots were filled with very nice girls, just ones that Akila is going to most often have a hard time relating to.  This really bums me out.  We will see how it goes after a few months.

She was really excited to move into the group home.  She is not too excited about it anymore.  It is a hard thing to get use to.  A sign of how good of a fit the RTC was for her, last week, she asked for their number and she called and talked to some of the staff.  She misses it.

She is back at her same school and I am really happy about that.  She also started back at the dance studio and she is super pumped to be taking hip hop for the first time.  She has always wanted to do hip hop, but it was on the wrong night in the past.  We found out that her hemoglobin is all out of whack and she has been started on iron supplements.  It was at 8.2 which is extremely low.  She has been feeling tired and dizzy, which makes sense with such a low iron level.  We are assuming it is menstrual related.

Emotionally, it has been kind of up and down.  We know that she cannot live at home right now.  She is still too violent and the other three kids are still recovering from the past few years.  But it still feels icky to have her not living at home.  Still feels so right, but so wrong at the same time.  Probably always will.

My job at MOFAS has been going really well, I truly enjoy the job.  It has been great to connect with families who are living with FASD and need some support on this journey.  I have been absolutely swamped, but in a good way.  Yesterday, I spent the day at the Minnesota State Capitol for the annual MOFAS Day at the Capitol.  We had a rally and then people met with their legislators.  I met with our State Senator and he agreed to help me bring some stakeholders in North Mpls together to tackle FASD.  Wahoo!!!

I have been meeting some really great people.  Professionals, adoptive families, birth families, kids and I am so impressed with all of their passion.  I had a brilliant moment last week when I helped provide the childcare at a seminar we held for parents.  We had 6 kids with FASD in the childcare, 5 of them were 8-10 year old boys.  Need I say more?  It was wild.  And I brought the game Operation.  What was I thinking?  I wasn't.  Obviously.  With their impulsivity, and sensory issues, it was not fun.  Had a hard time getting it put away and out of sight.  They kept finding it.  The kids were all really cool kids, just a little crazy having them all in the same room (tiny room), for 2 hours!

Imani, Hezekiah and Zeke are all doing great.  Imani is in spring volleyball, Hezekiah has been in a Saturday tennis program all year long, and Zeke just tried out for baseball.  Baseball is going to make the schedule really busy starting in mid-April, if stupid winter would ever leave!!!!!

God's timing has been good again in all that has happened in our lives.  There were so many details for getting Akila closer to us.  There were funding issues, school admission issues, school transportation issues and tons of other details.  He was in them all.  God is good all the time.

I will try not to wait 3 months to blog again.  I have missed you all.  :)