Monday, February 22, 2010

I Heart Faces - Hands On Photo Entry

Besides selling Pampered Chef products, making jewelry, cooking, sewing, and my carpentry class, I have taken an interest in photography. Recently, I even joined the community photography club!

I took the picture of Ethan (my autistic 4 year old terrorist) during one of his calm moments (he was asleep- that's the only time he is calm!). And since it features his hands in a unique perspective, I thought I would enter it into the contest. 

The day I took the picture he was obsessing about Halloween. He wanted it to be Halloween again! Ethan couldn't understand why we couldn't have Halloween again. When else can you go around house to house and they GIVE you chocolates? Halloween was a dream come true for him. 

So, he donned his trusty Iron Man costume (which is in tatters now) and found a Halloween treat bucket and sat at the table where I was working on one project or another. I didn't have any chocolate candy for him that day - he had eaten all the chocolate in the house, so I substituted Oreos instead. My standard bribe for him is chocolate. We probably spend more money than the average household on chocolate candies and chips. They are a staple in his finicky diet. 

So after much ado, here is the picture:

Sunday excitement? I'll pass!

I hope you had a good weekend. Friday night was great for me, I got to work (I sell Pampered Chef products now) and I got to make money and visit with friends! It was a lot of fun and a break from the kids. 

Saturday I was tired but it was a nice day of down time and relaxation. We rested, got a few chores down, had a delicious breakfast of pancakes made from whole grain buckwheat, and got gas. Our big treat for the weekend was dinner at Arby's. We had 3 buy one get one free coupons for sandwiches thus making it more affordable on our meager budget. Steven used one, Peter used one, and I used one. I'm sure the manager was less than happy with us, but hey- we weren't breaking the law. There were three separate customers for the transactions. And, we were better able to afford a dinner away from home for our rather large family of 7. It was nice. Everyone loved the Arby's curly fries. We had to go back and buy another order during dinner to satisfy everyone's desire for french fries. Ethan and Aeron stuck to the fries; they didn't care for the sandwiches. Their loss! They got cold cereal when they got home. Silly boys! 

Today, however, was not so great! Peter this morning had to attend to his responsibilities as Stake Sunday School President. He had to attend a ward conference at 9 AM this morning and then had to attend another meeting at 1 PM. He came home in between sessions to help me get the kids ready for church. 

It was all ok until our church started at 1 PM. That time is not ideal for our children, most especially for Ethan. We had our Sacrament meeting first. I didn't even make it 20 minutes in the chapel before I had to take the 2 youngest children out.  

Then, Ethan had a VIOLENT outburst and I left church in tears! It was time to go to the children's Bible study class during the 2nd hour. With much protestation, I got him in there. I asked him if he would be good, if he would listen, if he would be nice to his teacher. He said yes. I told him if he was good, I would give him chocolates when we got home. And, he could "play" with our chickens  (really he just tortures them, but in a non-harmful way). But once I turned around to leave and deal with a tantruming Aeron, Ethan got violent. He was knocking over chairs and tables, screaming, and I assume trying to hit the 2 other children in the class. 
I got angry! I don't often get mad, but I was angry. This type of violent outburst is absolutely not appropriate! I went in the room, got down on his level, grabbed a hold of him and told him what was what. I didn't hurt him, but I told him he was very naughty. I don't care who saw me, what they thought, how good or bad a mother they thought I am, but I wanted him to stop it. Of course, he couldn't stop. When he gets going like that, he has to wind down a bit and it can take a while. 

All the while I was in the room dealing with Ethan, Aeron was screaming and fighting to be freed, writhing in anger; he was screaming like a banshee. It was a shocking scene. It was horrific. People around me wanted to help, but there wasn't much they could do. Most people are afraid of hurting him, as if I would be upset with their offer of assistance. I wouldn't; sometimes Ethan HAS to be manhandled. We do it here at home. We aren't violent with him, but we have to be firm and sometimes we even have to restrain him.

So, I grabbed Ethan; if I had to, I was willing to drag him to the car. I got a hold of Aeron who immediately calmed down. I had a paper I needed to hand to our Primary President. I dispatched that duty with the help of a friend Amy Frandsen. And then I had to go back for Ethan. While holding on to Aeron, searching for paper, Ethan ran off. Thankfully, Brother O'Neal England was watching him; trying to corral him. Evidently, Ethan decided to stomp on his foot. Oh my gosh! So, Brother England picked him up and tried to calm him down. He was SO sweet. He was talking to him very calmly. He was trying to help. I was so grateful for his presence. I just wanted to beat him (something I have never done and did not do- though I was sorely temped!). Brother England said that he thought Ethan needed a hug. All the while, Brother England was talking to Ethan, Ethan was hitting him, struggling to get away. So, Brother England hugged him and then Ethan immediately hit him again. I thanked him for help and apologized for Ethan's crappy behavior. I got a hold of Ethan after Brother England put him down and walked past the shocked onlookers in the hallway. I know they felt bad for me. They just felt powerless to help and didn't know HOW to help. 

As I walked past them, they asked if I was all right. I wasn't all right. I started to break down, but I just kept walking down the hallway with tears streaming down my face. I got to the car, strapped the kids in and hit the road with the intention of going home. I had hoped I would find Peter at home. Peter was still in his meeting. Once home, I got a drink and a chocolate candy, this time for myself. I figured I had earned it. And, I got back in the car and headed back up to the church hoping to find Peter back at the church. He wasn't there. But, by the time I found a parking spot in the parking lot, Ethan had passed out and was asleep! Glory be!

So, I left Ethan asleep in the car, and took Aeron by hand and took him to the Nursery. This time, he willingly went in. Very quickly, he settled in and found a toy to play with. I left and headed back to the car to carry the sleeping Ethan to Relief Society. That's the meeting we have the third hour. I carefully set him on 2 chairs and sat down to enjoy the meeting.

I didn't get to sit very long, because when Peter arrived we had been requested to go in and speak with the Bishop. Once in there, he discussed some concerns he had about Ethan and I started crying again. 

Ethan has been having more of these violent outbursts lately. Twice on the bus, Friday he had one at school and the teacher had to restrain him. Ethan we hitting her, struggling to get free, and blowing his nose on her. Yuck! He's done that to me before when we had to go to the doctor. He had a full on tantrum in the doctor's office the WHOLE time I was there. I couldn't even stop to make an appointment. I dragged him out the door and downstairs to the car, where I went home with my tail between my legs. These episodes are extremely frustrating and extremely embarrassing. Often people look at him with horror. I have seen judgemental looks on the faces of some onlookers. I have also seen looks of compassion and understanding. Those kind souls help buoy me up and help me endure the Ethan's madness.

It's all very overwhelming and difficult to deal with my son. I am tired and I often feel beaten down with the cares of life. It's not as if he is the only child I have to deal with. There are 4 other children who need my attention and affection. We are struggling financially, but I cannot even think of going to work. With Ethan's volatility and unpredictability, who in their right mind would be willing to babysit him? And, it would be tremendously expensive. 

Ethan needs state services. He should qualify for disability. I need some help here at home and at school for him. He has progressively gotten worse during the last few months. And, I feel powerless to help him. I'm doing everything I can. And, sometimes I am just hanging on by my finger nails. There are times, I would LOVE to just drop him off somewhere and leave him there. But, I wouldn't; I couldn't. It does sound tempting, though, especially when he's in the middle of one of his outbursts.

So, with ALL that being said, as we were speaking to the Bishop, I just starting crying. Peter was looking at me with concern. The Bishop was certainly uncomfortable. I know he felt bad. But, with the floodgates released, I cried. We spoke at length about Ethan, about our homelife, about his schooling. 

I just feel very hopeless about the situation. I have been told several times, Ethan will NOT qualify for services. And, private services are horrendously expensive and they are NOT covered by our insurance. Testing is generally not covered by our insurance either. It is also horrendously expensive. I gave up babysitting in November for the sake of my mental health and because of Ethan's worsening condition. It was too much for me. So, with those funds being gone, we are struggling that much more. 

Really, money comes and money will go. It is just hard to have that one more concern when I am struggling mentally and physically on a daily basis with this kid. 

After our meeting in the Bishops office, I did not return to Relief Society. Peter took the still sleeping child to the car and I took my very red rimmed eyes home. Then, on the way home, Ethan starting yelling for a bean burrito. Wishing to end the harassment, I gave in. I went through the drive through at Del Taco and bought him his bean burrito. Yes, it was a moment of weakness. But, I've grown so tired of the yelling and the fighting. I just want it to END!

After church our good friend Maryanne Bingham came over. We had dinner of Cheddar Broccoli soup and Loaded Bake Potato Chowder, Salad, and homemade fresh out of the oven rolls. It was a most delicious dinner.

Then we at 7 pm, we had a meeting for Steven. In July he will be turning 12 and will be going to Young Men and will receive the priesthood. The meeting was about that. We left the other 3 kids under the care of Rebekkah and went to the meeting just Peter, Steven and I. By the time we left, Ethan was well on the way to going to sleep. I knew Jonathon would just play video games and that would just leave Rebekkah to care for Aeron- a very manageable task. 

I could hardly keep my eyes open during the meeting. I was tired. It was a lovely meeting. It was a very nice meeting for Steven. He enjoyed it. Peter and I each wrote him a letter telling him something we liked about him and how we hoped he would continue to make good choices in the future. Steven felt very appreciated. It was a good boost to his self-esteem and a period of time he will hopefully look back on with fondness. 

So, that's my day. It was a very exciting one. The Gale family's life is never lacking action or excitement. I often wish it was a little more calm, but hopefully, that will come with time. I can only hope!

Ethan in one of him "moods"

Monday, February 8, 2010

A few of my favorite things

6. Kidney Stones
5. Little boy's ties in dirty #2 toilet water
4. Urgent care at 8 pm on a Sunday in the winter
3. Tonsillitis and other contagious ailments
2. Doctor co-pays
1. Pharmacy co-pays
This last weekend was tough. Peter discovered his dreaded kidney stones have returned. Since the lithotripsy (ultrasonic breaking up of the stones) 4-5 years ago, he has gone on to reproduce more. :( Bad times!
And, Sunday night I ended up in the urgent care with Ethan. He has tonsillitis. 
To start this long story off, it all began Wednesday, when Peter, Bekkah and Ethan went to the same urgent I took Ethan to last night. At that time, Peter and Bekkah were diagnosed with tonsillitis. Ethan was deemed "healthy." 
This last week was a difficult one for Ethan. Thursday, Peter stayed home from school a second day recovering from feeling yucky. Well, around 1:50 PM the dispatcher for First Student Transportation called me saying we needed to go up and rescue bus driver Dana. Ethan had removed his seat belt and did his usual shlump to the floor, where he remained for 30 minutes while screaming, yelling, and crying. Oh what fun! When we arrived, he had dirt and snot and tears all over his face, shirt and hands.
Because of his poor behavior on the bus, I have been in frequent contact with Transportation. When they changed his morning bus driver a few weeks ago, he's been exhibiting increasingly poor behavior. One day, it took him 15 minutes to get him on the bus. Last Friday, Tracy his newest morning bus driver, kicked him off the bus because he wouldn't sit up on the bus and wouldn't settle down. 
I am very frustrated with Ethan's behavior. I am an unwillingly reinforcing his behavior by removing him from the bus. When he raises a ruckus, I HAVE to come remove him from the bus. Now, he knows that when he acts up, I will come get him. The problem is that I can't just leave him on the bus both for the safety of the other children and because the bus driver has other stops.
Friday I went so far as to follow the bus from the school on the route. He made it from Etiwanda Ave. & Banyan St. and Haven Ave. & Banyan St. He made it a total of 3.3 miles!  I hid behind cars in the parking lot and followed from about 1/2 mile distance. Unfortunately, farther up the road I found the bus with its hazards on right off of Haven Ave. Ethan's new afternoon bus driver Angelica was having problems with him. It was Angelica's first day on the route! Trying to work with Ethan's desires to be independent and still keep him restrained, they are using a buckle guard. A buckle guard is a square-like device that you attach around the sear belt and the guard is then secured with a medicine cap that screws down and is "child-proof." So instead of trying to unbuckle the seatbelt, Ethan decided to slither out of the belt and on the floor. 
Where there is a will there is a way! And boy, does that child have a will!
I keep reminding myself that Heavenly Father placed him here with our family for a purpose. He came to this earth for a purpose. It is our job to love and guide him and help him discover that purpose. Ethan is amazing. Ethan is so strong, both physically and mentally. Once he has decided upon a course of action or something he wants- that is generally the way it turns out. He is now the size almost the size of a 6 year old. He is so strong! And, boy does he have a sense of humor.
One of the funniest things occurred last night. When the male triage nurse brought him back to get his stats. He took Ethan's blood pressure. The cup squeezed his arm. Ethan didn't like it. So, he looked at the nurse, and Ethan told him that squeezing his arm isn't nice! I tried to explain To Ethan that the nurse didn't do it, the machine did it. I told Ethan that he should tell the machine that it's not nice to squeeze his arm, so he did. It was so funny the way he says it. He says, "It's not nite." That's how he says nice. He has problems with his speech, most especially his front loading syllables. So, in the triage room, he says it with all seriousness to the nurse and to me. The nurse was amused at his behavior. And, for a change, Ethan wasn't out of control by the time we got into the triage; he was rather charming. 
With all the winter illnesses this time of year, the waiting time was about 1 1/2 hours in the lobby. I amused Ethan by helping him play games on my iPhone. We played bubble wrap, bubbles, and Scoops. We played Scoops for what seemed like forever until my eyes hurt. I kept trying to encourage Ethan to play the game on his own, but he was much more happy with me playing it. The point of the game is to stack as many scoops of ice cream on top of each other as you can while avoiding the evil veggies- red tomatoes, red onions, and white onions. So in the waiting room, Ethan keep exclaiming in a rather loud voice, "Oh no, not the tomatoes!" Then he would cheer me on as I avoided the shower of veggies. It was cute. I was very grateful that it was just him and I instead of more kids in the mix. Whew!
Earlier yesterday at church, Peter had to remove Ethan from his Primary class. He just couldn't behave. He only made it about a little over an hour. I had just returned from picking Bekkah up from her weekend stay at Karen Blackmer's house in Lake Elsinore. I med her mom at the Travel America truck stop parking lot off the 10 freeway and Milliken. By the time I made it back up to the church, I picked up Peter and Ethan and brought them home. On the way home, Ethan fell asleep, something that he NEVER does unless he is medicated. That's when I first knew something was up. Earlier, Peter took Ethan to the bathroom, and Ethan had a bowel movement. Peter had a rough time trying to get him cleaned up so he had Ethan lean way over. That's when Ethan church tie took a dip in dirty water. Can you say GROSS? When I picked up Peter and drove him home from church, Peter had had quite enough of the trials and travails of Ethan and church! But, at least, I got to attend the last hour of church- Relief Society. It was really nice. I enjoyed it.
So, that's how my Sunday went. I finally returned home from Urgent Care at close to 10 PM. I fixed Ethan some Bagel Bites from our freezer. He was intent upon eating little pizzas. And, we had them in our freezer. I finally sought relief in my pillow and bed around 11:00 PM. 
Here's a picture a what I'd rather be doing. I finally had to resort to giving him Ethan a nap in a bottle. He decided to fall asleep in the chair.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Valentine's Day Giveaway! Check it out for your chance to win a $25 giftcard!

Two $25 AMEX Gift Cards ~~TWO WINNERS

Get excited for yet Another Earl's Daughter Giveaway!!!

This giveaway is for 


$25 American Express Gift Cards

There will be two winners for this giveaway!

Good Luck!