Friday, October 31, 2008

My little take on the election

You know, I'm not real big into talking politics. I generally have my opinions, I figure others are entitled to theirs, and I let it be. I'm not out to convert the masses - we all have the right to vote as we see fit. But honestly, the possible ramifications of the upcoming election scare me. Obama's stand on a number of issues concerns me, and I hear a whole lot of socialist leanings in what he says and what he proposes. I don't think our country needs to go down that path, and if we do, I think things will get worse before they get better. Likewise, with McCain, I think he tries to talk a good game about change, and about being a maverick, but really, he's the establishment, Sarah Palin as his VP candidate notwithstanding. I don't trust either Republicans or Democrats any farther than I can throw them. Politics has become, to my mind, more about sticking it to the other party than about what may really be best for our country, and that's a sad, sad thing.

All that to say, if you're like I am and not crazy about either of the two main candidates, there is a choice. I've been a registered Republican since I was old enough to vote, and I'm jumping ship. I'm now a proud member of the Libertarian Party (as our yard sign says, "fiscally conservative, socially tolerant"), and this year I'll be voting for Bob Barr. I agree with so many of his stances on issues, and I absolutely agree that the U.S. Government has far overstepped its constitutional bounds in many areas, that this year I'm not choosing the lesser of two evils. I'm voting for the candidate whose take on things most closely aligns with my own.

I'm not going to try to convince anyone that Barr is the best candidate or tell you that's who you should vote for. We're all free to have our own opinions and make our own choices. But I am asking you to just visit the Libertarian Party site, and visit Bob Barr's site, do a little digging and reading and research, and see what it's all about. You never know, you might find that deep down, you're a Libertarian, too.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Free sample of Dunkin Donuts coffee!

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I just signed up to have one sent to me. Dunkin Donuts is just starting to get a significant presence here, and I want to see what all the fuss is about. :-)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Oh, not again.

I talked to Brian this morning. He said one of the higher-up guides told them that off the record, they might want to brush up their resumes, that that's what he's doing. That certainly doesn't sound promising. This time, Brian is out in a group of three kids and three counselors, and I can see where the company would view that as a bit of overkill. Brian said the only thing that might work in their favor is that, as one of the newest facilities of their kind in the company, they're more cost-effective than older facilities (not sure how that works, that's just what he told me). So whoever does referrals in the company may steer kids to Lone Star rather than less cost-effective facilities, and that may get their enrollment up. This is just scary if I let myself think about it, so I'm trying not to. Ugh. It took him four months to find this position, I shudder to think how long it could take in the current market.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Monday was an eventful day - ophthalmologist, pediatrician, and teacher conference. Some holiday for me, huh? LOL

Julian's eye appointment went fine. His vision is good enough to pass a driving test, so no glasses needed at this time. Julian seemed pretty disappointed by that, saying he wanted glasses! Silly boy. LOL The ophthalmologist said that at some point, he may indeed need glasses if his vision gets poor enough that he can't do what he needs to do without corrective lenses. But for now, he's good. And the ophthalmologist was great - well worth the drive to Plano.

The pediatrician's visit was draining. Even though I already knew what I was going to hear, it was still a lot to process. I showed Julian's doc the Conner's survey from his teacher, and we talked about what the teacher and counselor had described in terms of the issues he was having at school. She then asked me what I thought, if I believed it, and I had to say yes. I see how he can't sit still. I see how his emotions are up and down, up and down. I see how he can't focus long enough to get his work done without me sitting right there with him, helping him keep himself on track. I see the anger and the opposition. So I had to say yes, I believe it. She said she's known it pretty much since Julian was an infant, but she doesn't bring up the subject until parents broach the subject with her. She asked Julian to sit still and be quiet and not move while she and I talked, and he lasted maybe two minutes before he was moving around, looking under the exam table to see what was there, messing with his hair and his ears - he couldn't do it. His doc said we could do more testing to see if there was anything else going on, and I told her the counselor at school said it's the attention/behavior issues driving the learning difficulties, not the other way around, and his teacher said he's very intelligent and should do well if we can get a grip on the attention/behavior. So we're trying meds - we're starting with 20 mg of Vyvanse. The doc recommended we start it on the weekend, so I can have a day or two to see how he reacts to it before he goes off to school on it, and he needs to take it first thing in the morning with food, preferably protein. (That should be fun, as the only protein Julian wants to eat for breakfast is bacon and eggs, and I can't make bacon and eggs every morning.) We'll take our first dose on Saturday, and we'll see how it goes. Other than the ADHD discussion, there was a checkup - Julian is 3 feet, 10 1/4 inches tall and weighs 56 pounds now. There was also the Flumist nose spray (not much fun), a finger stick to check his hemoglobin (less fun than the Flumist), and the second half of the Hep A shot (took both me and Brian to hold him down, and there was lots of screaming).

That afternoon, I met with his teacher and counselor. The counselor had done an observation of Julian for a 20-minute period when he had a specific task to work on - it wasn't time where it was OK for him to be up and moving around the classroom. The time period was broken down into 30-second intervals, and she observed how often he was off task, playing with objects, out of his seat, etc. During that 20 minutes, he was off task 65% of the time, playing with whatever he could get his hands on (pencils, paper, bits of eraser) 45% of the time, singing to himself 30% of the time, and out of his seat 20% of the time. He was also redirected by the teacher six times, but the counselor said the student teacher was in charge right then and may have gone easy on Julian because she knew the counselor was observing. That kind of inattention can't help but affect his schoolwork. I saw work done by the kids posted on the walls of the classroom, and Julian's handwriting is noticeably worse than most of his classmates - yes, theirs is still clearly kid handwriting, but Julian's is so much less developed and looks so much more strained. I could pick out his work from the little tail on his small a's and his backwards s's. The counselor said handwriting issues are fairly common in kids with ADHD, and that that should improve as his focus improves. She also said that reading is usually tough for ADHD kids, and I said, oh, no, reading is one thing where he seems to be doing well. I told them we're a family of bookworms and reading has always been highly encouraged, and his teacher said he is doing well, by her testing. Julian reads 65 words a minute and comprehends most of what he reads, and he just moved up another level this week, so reading is our best subject at this point. I told them we'd be starting the meds this weekend, and the counselor said she'll do another 20-minute observation before we go back for the follow-up with his pediatrician, so we'd have something to compare the first one to. Overall, it was a good talk, and I think they know now that I'm not blowing off what they say and I am committed to helping Julian get on a good track and do well in school, and I feel like they are, too. So it was a lot to process in one day, but ultimately, it's good to know we're taking steps to help Julian do as well as I know he can. And if we get the ADHD under control, I think he'll do well in school.

Brian went back to work on Wednesday. This eight days on, six off is a challenge. It's like I just get used to him being back, and then he's gone again, and then I just get used to being by myself, and he's back. How families with one spouse on shift for long periods of time manage it, I'll never know. I'm thankful for his job, but boy, the logistics are way less than ideal. He's looking at several options at home, including the museum field, Child Protective Services, and whatever else we think of that might have potential. There haven't been any new teacher openings anywhere, and he hasn't gotten any sub assignments at all. I just hope something works out closer to home when we really need it. And if his work hours end up being cut (which is a possibility if enrollment doesn't go up), I'm telling him to just find something, anything closer to home. When you break down his paycheck by how many hours he's officially on shift, it works out to about $6.00 an hour (which is, I just realized, less than minimum wage). I think retail or warehouse work would pay better. If he ends up working less hours and getting paid less accordingly, it wouldn't be worth the drive out there or the time away from home.

I'm trying to remember, we walk by faith, not by sight. Today, it's a real struggle to keep that faith.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

RAK's and ups and downs

I've been RAK'ed! I went to the post office on Saturday and found a package from my lovely friend Donna (if you want some good bath goodies, go check out her site, Creative Body Essentials - best foot scrub EVER, and everything else I've ever tried has been wonderful, too!). She knew I'd been feeling down lately and struggling with my faith, and she sent me three beautiful things: a suncatcher with the verse "We walk by faith, not by sight", a beautiful music box with the same verse that plays "How Great Thou Art", and a key ring/prayer box that had a slip of paper tucked inside with Jeremiah 29:11 written on it. I was so touched, I was crying and laughing all at the same time. Thank you, Donna - you were truly a blessing from God to me!

And today, I really need to be reminded that we walk by faith. I got a call from the principal's office just before lunchtime. Julian was in the office, having disrupted class all morning, and the straw that broke the camel's back was that he cut his hair. He said I'd said he needed a trim, and I did - but I didn't tell him to do it himself. I've e-mailed his teacher to find out what the other disruptions were, and I talked to the principal for a bit. She said Julian had to wait, because she had someone else in her office when his teacher brought him down, and when the other person left, Julian said, "It's my turn!" She told him no, it was his turn when she said it was, and he needed to wait until he was called. As a result of this, Julian had to miss specials with his class (which he loves - that's when they have art or music or computers or P.E.), he'll have to eat lunch in the principal's office, and he'll have to miss recess and sit in the office. The principal said that today they'll call it a time out in the office, but if it happens again, it will be considered in-school suspension. I told her that we were aware of his difficulties, that I'd been talking to his teacher and the counselor and was aware of his ADHD tendencies, and that we had an appointment with his pediatrician next Monday to start the evaluation process and do what needs to be done to help Julian get a grip on his behavior. I also told her that he and I have talked about how his brain is probably wired differently than other kids' and how that may make it hard for him to focus, but that he also knows we expect him to mind his teacher and behave in class and at home, that it's not some kind of blanket permission for him to cut loose and act out any way he pleases. She said she could have his teacher do a Conner's survey to help out with that, and I told her she'd already done that, that we had a copy and would be taking it to the appointment on Monday. I felt like she was thinking he must just be undisciplined at home and that I must be a slacker parent for having a child who'd act like that, and it sucked. I'm trying not to cry and really trying not to let this wreck my day. It's just something else to deal with, right? We'll talk to his doc and go from there and get a handle on things, right? This doesn't mean my child will become "that kid", the one whose name teachers cringe to see on their class rolls, does it? I never went to the office for anything, ever. I was one of those disgustingly good kids. I can't wrap my brain around this.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Time for the job search again.

The handful of you who read my blog regularly know that it took Brian a while to find a job after he moved here (four months), and that the logistics of the job he does have are less than ideal (eight days on, six off, three hours away).

Well, we may really need the prayers now. I just talked to Brian, and he said that attendance at camps like Lone Star is down everywhere, and that if things don't pick up (they may see some increase in October, after report cards come out), they'll be cutting down to three kids per group that goes out. He said that having three staff per three kids in each group seems like a bit much, and he doesn't know what will happen - if they'll go to all the staff working half a shift so everyone can get some work in, if they'll ask for volunteers to not work, if they'll lay off, what. All I know is, I'm praying for something else for him sooner rather than later, so he can be somewhere and be secure in his job (and preferably closer to home). He said he's not expecting it to be a school job, and honestly, I'm not, either. If that was going to work out, we'd have had some sign of it by now, I think. Maybe one of the parent company's residential facilities here in the Dallas area will have openings, or something else will work out, I don't know. I just know that the job concerns are cranking back up again. So if you're so inclined, pray, light candles, think good thoughts, what have you - we'll take any and all good intentions for a steady, secure job for Brian!

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