Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Our Christmas of Giving

I was looking through our Christmas posts from last year, we sure were busy. Looking back I can't figure out how we had time to do all the things we did aside from basketball, scouts, and catechism. Last year was about celebrating our family and making memories; we finished our Fall Bucket List, started our Winter Bucket List, Christmas Around the World, and were working toward our 1000 Hours Outside.

This year we are more relaxed about the things we want to accomplish before Christmas. It was not planned, but this year is about giving to others. Joey and Jacob picked tags from the 'giving tree' at their school, and donated a crocheted hat and a crocheted throw blanket. Joey felt it was important that we donate a handmade crochet blanket. He says it makes you feel loved as well as cozy, to wrap up in a blanket that you know someone made with love; they feel like wrapping up in 'home'. Jordan donated a crocheted Christmas blanket to the Senior Living for someone who doesn't get many visitor so they knew some one was thinking about them this season.

We were even able to gather some supplies and hand deliver them to a few homeless guys. While I would love to say that we came to do this on our own, but it was my brother who actually found this need for us to help meet.

Here's how my boys came to be able to see the people we help by donating.

I should have been asleep, but I was scrolling through Facebook at 2:00 am and came across a post by my brother asking for donations of blankets. I questioned when he needed the blankets by, and he called me (yep, at 2 am). He told me that he needed them before he went to work the next day. On his to the store he came across a man who looked like he was down on his luck. After a brief conversation with this man, it was apparent that he was homeless. My brother invited the man to sit in his car and warm up. While the man was warming up my brother inquired as to how the man become homeless. This man's homelessness had nothing to do with being lazy or being addicted to gambling or drugs. He feel victim to circumstance, his house had caught fire and sometime after that his wife died, things kind of snowballed and he was left with nothing. Seems we hear so often that most homeless are drunks and drug abuser, my brother offer to by this man a drink. The man declined saying he doesn't drink or use any drugs, he would appreciate some food though. My brother offered to warm him up some cabbage rolls he had made for dinner and bring it to the man. My brother drove the man to where the man said he was staying. When my brother brought him the cabbage rolls, he asked what did the guy need, his reply was blankets. He has a sheet but could really use some blankets and so could the other 4 men that were sharing the same living space. My brother doesn't have money to go buy 5 or more blankets, so he reached out via social media. He was able to gather 3 blankets, and 2 pairs of warm wool like socks.

I let my boys know that we were going to met up with Uncle and drop off some blankets for some guys who were homeless. My boys set about making Christmas cards out of construction paper to give with the blankets and tossed a couple candy canes in the bag too. Joey had asked that we stop on our way to Uncle's and buy some tooth brushes, toothpaste, and shower gel.

At first my brother  wasn't sure how the men would feel about having all the kids by their "dwelling" and thought maybe we should leave the kids (my 3 boys and his son) in the van while we made our delivery. My boys were disappointed and wanted to be part of things. Once near where the men were staying my brother changed his mind and said to bring the kids. It was a bit of a hike from the car to where we were going and we wouldn't be able to see our cars from our destination. My nephew carried a container of hot chocolate that my brother had made just before leaving his house, each of my boys carried a bag containing two blankets (one I had crocheted that morning, remembering what Joey had told me weeks earlier about the comfort of handmade blanket) and the other things we bought.

As we were making our hike, I noticed that my brother had labeled the hot chocolate and had written the man's name on the bag he way carrying. My brother had told the man he would leave the bag of blankets outside the "door" of their dwelling if the man wasn't there. As we approached, there was a man who was heading out to collect cans who hung back to chat with us for a bit.

While my brother and I chatted a bit with these two gentlemen the boys, being curious boys, peeked around the dwelling. The men didn't seem to mind and answered the questions the boys asked. The men were grateful for the things we had brought. You could tell that it made their day they someone took the time to help them out. It made our day being able to help out.

On the way home, my boys talked about how bare the living conditions were and how homeless people just look like "normal people". Jacob and Joey both had the idea that all homeless people look like the "Bird Lady" from Home Alone 2 or had shopping carts overflowing with cans and their belongings. They were surprised that while these men didn't have many belongings, they shared what they did have with each other, like the blankets we brought and the hot chocolate.

I had a really hard time walking away without feeling like I should do more than we did. I know they must have more they need, but was at a loss for what else we could bring.

We help others, because we know how it feels to need some help

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

My Child, The Walking Alphabet

I love that I know my child so well that when we go to evaluation such as the on with the psycho-neurologist that there isn't too many surprises in store for me. The results of the screening done by the psycho-neurologist were pretty close to the finding of the screening done by the school. There were a couple things however that I was surprises by, like Joey is not nearly as impulsive as I thought.

Joey was inconsistent with eye contact throughout the tests. He was overly talkative, physical overactive (swaying in his chair, playing with paperclips and pens), and easily distracted (although there was very little in to screening room that could be a distraction). He tested slightly lower than grade level on his IQ test, with the exception in regards to language which he scored slightly higher than average. They noted the difficulties Joey had with fine motor skills. His scores were in the extremely low range, regardless of which hand was used. His ability to sustain attention was also in the extremely low range. Surprisingly his scores in impulsivity were within the average range.

Joey's behavior was also measured. He was rated as borderline clinical range for rule-breaking behavior as well as clinically significant for social problems, thought problems, attention problems, and aggressive behavior. On the subscale tests he was rated as clinically significant for affective problems, ADHD problems, Oppositional-defiant (ODD) problems, and conduct problems.

Sure makes it sound like my kid has a lot of problems, doesn't it! Joey's official diagnosis as it stands now is : Attention-deficict/hyperactivity disorder, combined presentation; Social Communication Disorder; Developmental Coordination Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, NOS; Disruptive Behavior Disorder, NOS
(NOS stand for not otherwise specified)

When we went in for the testing he only had ADHD and possibly Aspergers.
 The Psycho-neurologist did not rule out the possibility of Joey having Aspergers, he feels most of Joey's social problems are due to the severity of his ADHD. After addressing the behavior issues we can then re evaluate for Aspergers.

I was told to take out copy of the feedback report to the neurologist and she would determine what, if any, medication Joey would need. I tried explained that she had already told me that if Joey needed medication that I would have to get it through the psycho-neuroligist, he kind of fluffed me off and said that she would once she seen the report.

SO, Joey not on medication currently. He had expressed that he does not want to go back on medications of any kind. We're giving a go and if things don't improve I'll have to look into medications for him.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Tantrum Tuesday!! Not Very Christian of Them

Our church turned us away!!

Okay, that sounds a bit harsh, but basically that's what they did. We have been going to the same church for almost 6 years. We have tried a few different churches also, but this is our "home church". I have worked in the youth ministries, the boys go to Sunday School, Jordan is active in the youth group, and we try to make it every Sunday service. While some of us like our church more than others, it is essentially home. A place we go to worship God and fellowship with others. Over the years we have made many friends within our church and participated in many events the church has hosted. We love our church family.

Being a single parent means that the budget is usually pretty tight, but more so during the holiday. Over the past 7 years we have received help during Christmas from different organizations. The first Christmas after we moved out of my parents house a neighbor gave our local Lions Club our name to add us to the list of people who could use some help from The Untied Way. It was a huge blessing because I had lost my job earlier that year. The following year our name was again enter by a neighbor. The year after that I contacted the Lions Club and said we could handle Christmas on our own and thanked them for their help the previous years. While things were still pretty tight I was able to provide Christmas for my kids. The year my nephew lived with us our school entered our names for holiday help through "Holiday Heroes". It's like "Shop With A Cop", but the EMT and Firefighters shop with the kids. The boys loved it, they picked out gifts for themselves that would be wrapped as gifts from Mom. Last year we were on our own, and managed just fine. I had to get really creative with some of their gifts, but they loved what they received.

This year was the first year I had personally requested help for our family. Like many other people who are struggling I went a church. Not just any church, but OUR church. It would have been easier for me to go to a church where I didn't know anyone and confess "I need help". Instead I swallowed my pride and reached out to the ones I know. I mean this is our church family, family helps each other. I knew they had holiday help available because I have donated to it in the past.

We were running late for service, there were only a few people and only one greeter in the lobby. Ironically the greeter was the same person who welcomed us to the church 6 years ago. When I asked about holiday help he was excited to help us. He told me that he and Pastor had just been talking about how they wished they knew who from our congregation needed help. The greeter assured me that they could help us out and he would talk to Pastor.

The following week I stopped to talk to Pastor and mentioned how hard it was to reach out people I knew and let them know were struggling. I had asked about participating in "Gift-mart" then sticking around to volunteer at the event. "Gift-mart" is a program the two campuses of our church puts on for low income families. Members of our church donate items for the event and families sign up to come and buy the items at deep discounts. He told me that I could not sign up as a family to receive items from the event, but I could volunteer. That our campus hosts the event for the families of one particular local school ONLY. While they would like to help out more people the church was only helping out this school. I inquired if the church would be able to help out my family this year, and was told he'd have to see what they could come up with but surely they could help us.

This past Sunday, after Pastor congratulated everyone on how successful "gift-mart" had been. How thankful he was that we could help so many families that needed that little extra help this season. How excited he was that our event may be featured in our local paper. That he was very pleased that local families will be able to provide their children with wonderful Christmas. After service I stopped to talk to Pastor just to chat (like I do every Sunday on our way out the door) and he told me just as I was walking away that he was sorry that our church probably wouldn't be able to help us. That their focus was on the families from the school. To say the least, I was not real impressed.

To make the whole situation seem worse, that same afternoon I received a text from one of Jordan's friends asking about different (expensive) gifts that he could buy for Jordan. So our church of 6 years can't do anything to help us out, but here is a 12/13 year old boy asking to help out. He just wanted to make sure Jordan had a great Christmas. While I was touched by Jordan's friend's offer I could not allow this kid to buy things for my family. I told him the best gift he could give Jordan was to be a good friend to him.

*No worries, my boys will have presents under the tree. There are bought, wrapped, and tucked away until Christmas. While there may not be many there will be enough. They may not be expensive, but they will be treasured. God always provides!!