Gratitude week 88

  1. Summer. I’m trying to grab what little we’ve got left of it.
  2. Sleeping in my own bed.
  3. Actually sleeping fairly well last night for the first time in a couple of weeks.
  4. A fun last sailing trip of the season.
  5. Checking another marina off our bucket list. It was out in the middle of nowhere.
  6. Having a nice quiet holiday weekend at home.
  7. Finishing a really good memoir on heroin addiction and starting a new book.
  8. Having a fluffy clean dog after giving our pooch a bath.
  9. For another school year that started without any kids in school. It’s very freeing not having to be tied down to a school schedule. Not to mention all the chaos with COVID. Not having to fight with kids to get up early, curfews, grades, issues with friends, after school activities, weekend school events, transportation, mean teachers, endless school supplies, sport equipment, practice, extracurricular fees, difficult parents, peer pressure, and homework. I’m done with that now after almost 20 years!
  10. For the changing of the seasons and transitioning into my second favorite season, fall. For warm days and cool nights. Campfires and preparing for the cold days to come.

Gratitude week 87

  1. Summer! We had some loud thunderstorms go through last night. I love a good storm that doesn’t cause damage. That is one of the things I miss most once winter comes. It’s pretty rare to have thunder during a snow storm.
  2. Clean sheets.
  3. Supper with my best friend at a new to us Mexican restaurant that had the best mojitos.
  4. My daughter Angel got a promotion. Last night we went out to celebrate with pizzas and martinis at a place we’ve never been to before. The ambiance was amazing. It was one of those old building downtown so it had a lot of character. They also played the best music.
  5. I am really grateful that Arabella is going to have a psych eval next month. She hasn’t had one yet which I think is crazy. I’m hoping that with this knowledge we can get better treatment for her. Her medicine got yanked around this week so I hope things will go better.
  6. I’m grateful that for the first time in almost 20 years I no longer have kids in school. What a mess things have been with COVID. I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that anymore.
  7. Because school starts this next week, I have never been able to go on the annual sailing trip with the sailing club. This year will be the first year I can go. I probably won’t be posting for a couple of days but I will share some pictures with you when I get back.
  8. I’m grateful to live in a beautiful state. The winters are rough, but yet it’s beauty continues year round.
  9. The new memoirs I ordered came in the mail. I just started The Weight of Air which is a memoir about a young guy that’s addicted to heroin. It’s a very well written and moving story.
  10. Right now everyone in our house is healthy and I am grateful for that.

She graduated!

I’m really grateful my daughter earned her high school diploma. There was a time when I might have taken it for granted that she was graduating. I had her ideal future all planned out after all. Her high school graduation was going to be her first but not last. You see, she is a very smart girl. She was an honor student. Surprisingly she still graduated with honors.

Things went downhill with the pandemic. Maybe we would’ve been able to manage her mental health issues better if COVID never happened. I guess we will never know.

Online schooling is not for the smart but unorganized extrovert. It was hard for her to stay focused. Even when school went back to in person she had problems. She missed so much school because of her hospitalizations that she had to go back to online school again. It was December right before Christmas break when she finally got set up to do schooling online. She didn’t want to start school when every one else was on break so she didn’t. Right after the new year started, she went to outpatient full-time. They didn’t give the kids the opportunity to do schoolwork at the time because it was a privacy violation.

That left Arabella with weekends and evening to finish school and that wasn’t going to happen. The outpatient program cut Arabella back to part-time so she could work on school. She was months away from graduation and hadn’t even started yet. I was afraid she wouldn’t graduate. Hopefully she could get done before she made the waiting list for residential.

Then one day she decided to finish her online schooling. She literally worked on it all day and stayed up all night to complete classes. I did want her to finish but didn’t think her obsession was healthy. I even told her several times that it was okay to take breaks. At that pace, she finished it in no time. It was one less worry I had about her future.

Later we found out in residential that she has ADHD. She was finally able to focus once it was treated. She also got into some new hobbies such as painting. For a long time she felt like she wasn’t good at anything because of her inability to concentrate. Plus both of her siblings have a raw talent for music that she doesn’t have. She didn’t feel like she had a place or purpose compared to them.

I felt terribly sad that a lot of the issues she was having with school and concentrating were fixable but we just didn’t know. Honestly, I also thought before that ADHD was kind of a cop out diagnosis. Sometimes I thought it was just a matter of being more disciplined. But now after I’ve seen how focused she is, I think I was wrong.

Now I also see that I missed the same symptoms in my son. For boys the doctor said it presented differently. The boys would rather be defiant saying they hate school instead of feeling like they are stupid. I wish I would’ve known some things sooner. Maybe I still could’ve changed things.

I have the same thoughts about Arabella going to residential and learning DBT. I wish I had known what I know now sooner. But you can only do the best you can with what you have. I have to let that go.

I am excited that Arabella graduated. She had a lot of obstacles with her mental health over the last year and a half. Paul and I are planning a trip to Maine with her this fall to celebrate. Hopefully it will make up for some of the things she lost along the way. She was supposed to be a foreign exchange student this year. That didn’t happen.

She is a high school graduate now. It is the first step into her future, a future she decides. It may not be what I choose, but it is a step in the right direction. I am happy for that.

Bird crap

After Arabella came home from her third hospitalization, she missed a lot of school. Everything was a mess anyway with the school’s hybrid model of zoom classes and in person learning. Just a quick FYI, the hospitals do not allow school computers because of confidentiality purposes. After the last hospitalization, the new plan was to get Arabella into a long term outpatient program until she made the waiting list for residential. This posed a huge problem with school because the outpatient program originally did not offer built in time for education.

At this time, we were already into December. The end of the semester was a month away. The school decided to credit Arabella with a quarter’s worth of credits and she needed to finish the rest online. This was concerning because Arabella was in outpatient full-time and it only left her with the weekends to really put time into school and I knew that wasn’t going to happen.

It was also the time to start applying for college. Arabella is a very bright child, but I had to mourn the loss that she wasn’t there yet. She changed her dreams and goals. She told us she wanted to be a stripper. Although she is a beautiful girl and her cup runneth over in the well endowed department (especially since we cancelled her reduction surgery), she was binge eating junk food and was struggling with her weight. Both legs a couple inches above the knees and her non-dominant arm were full of cutting wounds and scars. To be frank, I did not see it as a realistic career option. No parent in their right mind would want their bright intelligent daughter to be a stripper anyway.

She changed her tune a little over time. She still wanted to be a stripper but would settle as a bartender in a strip club. Again, most parents would not want their previous honor student to aspire to be a bartender as a career choice. She thought that maybe just maybe if she let her cleavage show, she would get good tips. Or maybe she could find a rich older man to be her sugar daddy. It was all very troubling to say the least. As you could imagine, I was not happy about it at all. I would be happy at that point if she would be able to graduate from high school. I was really worried about that as well.

It was right around the time that her old friend group started to fall apart. Arabella started hanging around friends she made in the hospital. We wanted her to have friends because it meant a lot to her. Another FYI, sometimes the friends you make in the psychiatric hospital are not the best kinds of friends to have. She started taking on the (new to her) destructive behaviors of this new group of friends.

This is a huge problem I see. Where do people with serious mental health issues make new healthy friendships? Birds of a feather flock together and makes us as parents good targets to get crapped on. But I will continue this in the next edition of my life is a total sh!t show…

Lacking focus

Arabella adjusted to being back home surprisingly well. We changed her room around and I bought her two new frogs after her other one died while she was in the hospital. For awhile everything seemed to be going pretty well except in one area…school.

Arabella missed a week of school while she was in the hospital. Before that she attended school somewhat sporadically. Although very bright, she was slipping behind. School was a literal mess at the time. Some days school was in person and at other times it was virtual.

The time Arabella took off for ‘mental health days’ and having a week in the hospital started to snowball her down a slippery slope. Few of the teachers were understanding of her truancy before hospitalization and frankly I can’t blame them. It was frustrating for everyone especially since she previously was an honor student. I was constantly nagging her about school and graduation. What I didn’t realize right away was that Arabella was feeling anxious about virtual school because it came across as a disrespectful hatred of school. That attitude made us push more. The pressure to apply for college and have a life plan was setting in at this point too.

It was later that we found out she was terrified of being called upon by teachers. She had a hard time focusing on what they were saying online. When they called on her to answer questions she felt very anxious to the point of having panic attacks. Her feelings of panic was enough for her to fight everyone and avoid virtual school altogether. Once we found out what the problem was, we told Arabella to reach out to the guidance counselor.

It wasn’t long after that Arabella fell into a deep depression again. Paul and I took her in for a late night assessment one Sunday night. I was already in my pajamas and ready for bed when we had to take her in. Paul had to work the next morning. I really didn’t want to take her by myself since I was exhausted and knew it would be a long night. I was willing to do it by myself anyway but Paul decided to go with. This time we had her pack an overnight bag. No nightgowns. No tie strings on hoods or pants. No long socks. We knew the drill.

We got home close to 3 AM. Arabella started her third hospitalization, close to a month after her second. It was the week of Thanksgiving. At this point she missed so much school that I wasn’t even sure she would graduate.

School’s out for the pandemic

My daughter Arabella was on the honor roll. After the fight with Estelle, Arabella didn’t want to go to school at all. We had a hard, if not almost impossible, time getting her out of bed in the morning for school. She would cause everyone else to be late and they resented her for that. She stopped talking to kids who were previously friends or acquaintances. In fact, she skipped the lunch period altogether and started hanging out in the classroom by herself.

So it didn’t seem like it would be a really bad thing for Arabella when schooling went online. She didn’t really want to be there anyway.

Everyone at our house, however, seemed to have a hard time with online schooling. Clara stopped doing homework altogether since her parents wanted her to go back home to Germany. Estelle was even having a hard time finding motivation to study. Her year in America wasn’t going to count anyway and she was going to have to repeat the year when she went back home to France. She really wanted to be here for the social aspect. But track was cancelled, along with prom, our spring break trip, and everything else she was looking forward to. I couldn’t be too hard on the kids for being depressed that COVID shut their lives down.

I pretty much let Estelle and Arabella manage their own online homework assignments. I mean, they were honor roll high school students. They were competent and capable of managing their own schedules, or so I thought. Plus, math..

We got a call from the school a few weeks before school was scheduled to end. They told us that Arabella did not do any assignments for a 3 week period and she might fail several classes. As you can imagine this was very upsetting to us. This put her on a tight timeline to finish her classes. Paul helped Arabella put a schedule together and they sat in his office together while Arabella tried to catch up. It was a very stressful time and it created a lot of conflict.

We still had a hard time waking Arabella up for class. She was so far behind and said she couldn’t focus to get stuff done. She was in so deep we didn’t think she could dig herself out. One day Paul lost it. After another day of arguing about having to do homework, Paul lost his temper and kicked Arabella out of the house. Arabella asked if she could stay by her friend Jordan’s for a few days. She promised she would work on her assignments there. I told her she could stay there for a few days until she and her dad cooled off with their arguing. What we were doing here wasn’t working anyway.

I was desperate. No one could tell me how to motivate a previous honor roll student who was struggling with depression through a pandemic get her homework done when all she wanted to do was sleep. Maybe a few days away would be a good idea. Jordan’s mom said it was okay. So I packed up my car with a couple days worth of clothes and all of her homework to drop her off a few days. I told her if she didn’t do her homework, I would pick her back up again. We would be monitoring her progress online.

Somehow she was able to pass all but one class her junior year. Creative writing, that is the class she didn’t pass. It kills me. Oh, the many of things she could’ve wrote about.

Taking a break down instead

Maybe she just needed a break. That always makes me feel better.

We had a trip planned. Paul and I were renting a van to drive down to Florida. We were taking Arabella and our two foreign exchange students with us.

I imagined how perfect spring break was going to be. Sunshine and shorts after another long winter. Estelle and Arabella together on a long road trip becoming best friends once again. My daughter becoming a functional depressed person like I am. She said it was a mistake and wouldn’t happen again.

But our magical trip wasn’t meant to be. The week we were scheduled to leave Disney World closed. A new virus was sweeping through the nation. In my lifetime I’ve seen many viruses come and go, but this was different. People were panicking. We didn’t know what was happening. We didn’t know what to believe. It reminded me of when HIV first came out and people were afraid to use public bathrooms. With a world of information at our fingertips, we still didn’t know what we were dealing with.

We debated whether or not to take the trip after Disney closed. Since we were driving, would we be able to stop to have sit down meals after a long drive? Some states were closing. Would gas station bathrooms and rest stops even be open? Was that the America we wanted our foreign visitors to see? What happens if someone gets sick? Could we get trapped somewhere? What if our decisions caused sickness and/or death in the children who weren’t ours that we were responsible for? The beaches in Florida started to close. We decided to stay home.

The high school closed and schooling went to online. The spring play, going to state, track, and prom all were cancelled yet the school work remained. Everyone felt the loss of what was planned that could no longer be. The beautiful prom dresses hung in the closets unworn. Time lost that could never be recaptured. Our German foreign exchange student Clara went home a couple months early whereas Estelle stayed an extra month.

I thought that Arabella and Estelle would be forced to work out their differences because they would have to be together all the time without much outside contact. It didn’t work out that way. Arabella withdrew into herself and snarled at me to leave her alone when I reached out. She would take long walks or drive to the park to sit by herself for hours sometimes after dark or in the rain. Estelle grew very close to me. She would fight with Arabella if she felt like Arabella was being mean to me.

Florida was gone. Arabella’s opportunity to be a foreign exchange student was gone. It was all she ever talked about for over a year. She was already signed up and the paperwork completed. Thankfully I could say that she wasn’t going because of COVID versus a suicide attempt. We were going to tour Europe in the summer, but that was gone too.

With everything that was lost, I’m grateful that we didn’t lose Arabella too.

Gratitude week 58

  1. While it was really wonderful to get away. I’m grateful to be back home again.
  2. I checked another 4 states off my bucket list. Only 14 states and 5 continents to visit before I kick the bucket.
  3. Talking about kicking the bucket, our dog is feeling 100% better so we didn’t have to put him down. I don’t know, maybe it was the fried eggs. LOL! I’m grateful for more time with him.
  4. My son is moving out this weekend with a couple of friends into our partially finished garage. My husband’s office is out in our detached garage now which will be moved into our son’s bedroom. The garage already has two finished bedrooms, a full bathroom, and a partial kitchen. We are going to use the money we charge for rent to finish remodeling the garage apartment. I’m getting excited about the remodeling project and also thinking of ways to update our house.
  5. We ended up getting a lot of snow a couple days ago and now it is bitterly cold, but it is absolutely beautiful outside. Even though I complain, I am grateful for very distinct seasons. When we were on vacation it was anywhere between 45 and 75 degrees. I don’t know if I would like a cool winter without snow. It was funny because a news station in New Orleans was talking about the cold Wisconsin weather while we were there. There is some pride in being a hardy people, plus our summers are absolutely perfect.
  6. Arabella is making a lot of progress on her online schooling which is wonderful. I was kind of worried about if she would be able to graduate on time.
  7. I’m always grateful for a warm house to live in on a brutally cold winter day.
  8. I’m grateful to be back in planning mode. I’m thinking about the next trip I want to take, getting ready for summer, and hopefully a graduation party as long as things wind down with COVID.
  9. I think the next couple months are going to bring a lot of changes. I felt very apprehensive about things because I really don’t like change. But sometimes change can be good. In the next couple months all my children will be adults and although I do worry a lot about my kids I feel like a lot of responsibility will be lifted. Technically I could go from 3 kids living at home to being an empty nester. Instead of viewing this as a negative thing I can view it as an opportunity to grow like I haven’t been able to before because I always had to be responsible for someone else besides me.
  10. I am grateful for my husband who has been putting a lot of hours in since we got home to keep things running around here.

Gratitude week 45

  1. As you might remember from last time I posted, last week I got in a car accident and my car was totaled. I’m grateful that no one was injured in the accident. I just got my first official looking letter from a personal injury lawyer today.
  2. Car shopping can be kind of fun. I haven’t found a new vehicle yet, but I did test drive a Jeep with huge mud running wheels. I decided against that one because I knew if I brought it home I might as well just give it to my son. I’m starting to figure out what I want. I don’t think I want to lease a vehicle either because I would be paranoid about every little dent and scratch. I would never feel comfortable letting my kids drive that either if they were in a pinch.
  3. I had my annual physical this past week and it looks like I have a lot more miles to put on. I’m grateful to feel healthy both mentally and physically. It’s been a long time, if ever, that I have felt this good.
  4. I’m grateful that my detox diet is going well. I think I already did all the hard work with my health a couple months back. I was feeling sick then to not feel sick now. It hasn’t been as hard to drink tons of water as I thought it would be. I don’t even really miss coffee or real food. However, I don’t think I ever want to eat spinach again.
  5. I’m grateful to be in relatively good spirits with all the crap that happened this week.
  6. My brother Luke tested positive for COVID and is feeling pretty sick. I’m grateful that he is starting to feel better and the rest of his family is healthy.
  7. This week I also heard about the cancer diagnoses of three people. My uncle has melanoma which is genetic. The first in our large extended family. I’m grateful they caught it very early in the process. But I am not happy about anything else. Plus my other uncle is getting divorced. All happened this week. Crazy! Not to mention all the election stress!
  8. Our elderly friend Vince also is one of the people who I just found out has cancer. He stopped in for a visit this weekend and I am grateful that he is doing well despite everything going on.
  9. I’m grateful my daughter Arabella’s school is going back to in person classes. The online school is crap.
  10. I’m grateful for the record breaking warm temperatures we’ve had over the past several days. I’ve been able to take the dog out for a walk, have some friends over for a campfire, have the windows open, hang out laundry, and just relax as much as I can outside. I even saw someone in the water at a beach I drove by. Tomorrow it is all going to come to an end, but as for today…..

Gratitude week 35

  1. Summer, for what is left of it. We are starting to feel some fall weather patterns push through. The A/C is off and the windows are open.
  2. Having a hot and windy day last week on my day off to make for perfect sailing weather with our boat neighbors.
  3. Staying safe this past weekend as a census worker in a really rough neighborhood.
  4. Having the day off today to go school shopping. My daughter starts her last year of high school tomorrow. I usually don’t put off school shopping until the day before but I really was not sure and still am not quite sure what is happening this school year. Yeah, just when I thought I had everything figured out too. (Last child in last year of school).
  5. Being able to meet up with my best friend for lunch over my break from work over the weekend.
  6. Making plans to see my brother and his family up north at the family cabin for the holiday weekend. It will be the first time we got together since COVID.
  7. Seeing my daughter this weekend. It will be less than a month until she moves back home.
  8. School is starting back up again. It’s been over 5 months.
  9. I’m grateful to be able to work hard and earn some extra money by doing a meaningful job.
  10. I’m grateful for the ham in the oven for supper. I’m grateful I will be able to eat before 8 PM since I have the day off. I’m grateful to have the windows open and not having to worry about cooking heating up my house.