moonlit-butterflies.net

Our Cat Adoption Saga: Part 2

Current Mood:hopeful emoticon hopeful

Current Music: the kids playing Paper Mario on my Nintendo 64

Last week, we began a trial period with a sweet, 4 year-old kitty name Thea. She took a few days to get comfortable leaving our bedroom and interacting with us and Anya, but she never really enjoyed getting attention from the younger two children. It was very obvious that she was anxious all day long while they were awake and would become a different cat at night once they were asleep. We enjoyed having her, but we knew it wouldn’t be right to keep her in a house that would cause her distress each and every day until the kids got older. She has now been returned to her former foster home, where she was very happy and had other animals for company that she really seemed to miss while with us. We were still a bit sad to see her go, but we all knew it was just a trial that might not work out. Thea barely interacted with the kids at all, so there hasn’t really been much of a difference in our days since her departure aside from the nighttime cuddles she was prone to demanding from me. It was still nice to have a little furball around after almost a decade of no pet of my own.

We are scheduled to meet with a couple of kittens next week to see if that goes better with the kids. We definitely want our new family member to be comfortable with everyone in the house and be able to be themselves all day long. We are still excited to continue this process and find the right pet to add to our home. I’m a bit nervous about going the kitten route, which is why we opted for an adult cat for our first trial, but the rescue has suggested that raising a kitten with the kids will probably work out better as far as them not being scared of little ones. I don’t know much about cats, honestly, so I’m relying on their knowledge and advice. I think a kitten will be fun but also require commitment and care a step above what I was anticipating with a grown cat. Even so, I’m eager to have a cat back in the house now that Thea is absent. It didn’t take long to get used to having her around! I didn’t think I’d be a cat person, but they have definitely grown on me through this experience, and I can’t wait to adopt the perfect kitty for us who we can make memories with for years to come.

Reminding Myself to Never Give Up

Current Mood:hopeful emoticon hopeful

Current Music: “Broken & Beautiful” Kelly Clarkson

I wrote this up on Facebook yesterday and thought I would share here with an update:

Yesterday, after a lot of thought and research into the eventual PCS home, our family decided to go to the stray pet facility on base to see if any of the cats currently awaiting adoption would be a good fit for our first family pet. It was a big deal for me to open myself up to the idea, and we all agreed we would only bring a cat home if it was the perfect storm of qualities for our household needs. Not so playful and vocal it causes issues with our sensory problems, but not too shy or skittish to love on the kids and be patient with their excitement.

We were shown a cat that had been at the kennel for a while but would require eye drops and constantly hid under a table, obviously terrified of the kids. The staff was trying really hard to sell us on this pet that was visibly not meshing with our family. We asked to look at others and found the perfect cat. She is beautiful, sweet, and didn’t mind at all that the kids wanted to constantly be in her face. Out of an entire kennel of strays, she was the only one with the right personality. We fell in love with her.

We asked what the process for adoption would be, and we were told that we would fill out an application and get a call by 3pm so we could pick her up before the end of their free adoption event that was apparently going on this past week. The person we gave the paperwork to made it sound like a done deal and even agreed it would be fine for us to go ahead and take the kids to lunch and supply shopping while we waited for the call. The call never came. We spent all day out and spent a good chunk of change on things we would need before finally calling the kennel ourselves at 3:30pm.

It was at this point we were informed that another family had also put in an application and been chosen over us in a “tough decision”. They had already been notified the cat was theirs. We went back to the kennel and asked what happened. They just said sorry it was their policy to accept multiple applications and choose from them. When we chose the cat we did, and our small children excitedly realized they were going to bring that particular cat home, no one told us this was a possibility. No one, despite knowing we were out shopping for items for this cat, bothered to call and tell us that we were wasting our time, money, and emotional investment. I don’t know that they ever would have called if we hadn’t made contact ourselves.

I’m not going to lie, Anya and I both had an autistic meltdown right there in the building, crying and stimming, that continued long after we were home. Marie was angry and kept saying how mean and rude the staff were to give our cat away, and poor little Ben was so confused when he could see the cat still in her cage and didn’t understand why we weren’t picking her up like we promised. The staff said we could take the other cat we had seen, and I began to feel like we had been purposely bait and switched so they could get rid of this cat they want gone, thinking we would just take any cat we could have if they gave the cat we applied for to the other family. It was obvious they did not expect us to be as upset as we were.

This was a very major event for our family. We didn’t want just any cat; we were willing to adopt because this cat has the perfect qualities to be a pet in our family. Myself and my kids are traumatized by having what already felt like a member of our family ripped from us in an arbitrary decision and then blindsided with the news with no warning. This has kept me up most of the night with panic attacks and nausea. My kids are a wreck. We have to take all these supplies back to the Exchange at some point.

We will NEVER go back to that kennel for anything. Their business practices are unprofessional at best, and, honestly, the way they handled our specific situation was appalling. If this is how they treat special needs families and can sleep at night after having kids that young emotionally devastated in this way, then I pray they develop some empathy.

We will not recover from this like some minor, disappointing setback. It will cause me issues with functioning, sleeping, and eating for weeks. It is keeping me from finishing grad school work that is due this weekend; it will haunt the memories of my kids as a trauma for years, and that really guts me the most. I regret ever going in to look; I wish I could undo it all. I wish I could stop crying. I wish I could stop believing that something in the way myself or my children present our autistic personality traits is the cause of the way we were treated. I just wish the intense pain we all feel was over. 💔

At first, I was so angry that I wanted to give up entirely, but my husband reminded me that we had already now opened the door to the idea that we were getting a pet for the kids. It is only right to keep moving forward and give them a happy ending to this situation. So that night, we e-mailed an application to a local rescue organization that fosters their pets in homes until an adoptive family is available. We have already heard back from them with a recommendation for the cat they think will be a perfect fit for our family, and we will be meeting her later this week to hopefully begin a trial period of her living with us. I will, of course, share more about her and photos once everything is solidified. We learned our lesson from getting too attached too quickly this weekend and are being more cautiously optimistic this time around.

I think having this cat join our family will help us begin to heal from the horrible experience we had with the base kennel. I was sick to my stomach for a good 36 hours afterward and could barely function yesterday as a result. Thankfully, I’m feeling better today, and I think just putting some distance between that day and myself is helping, along with knowing not all hope is lost. We can provide a loving family for another cat who doesn’t yet have a forever home.

Despite being the type of person who believes that everything happens for a reason, I struggled with accepting it when all of this happened. I was just caught so off guard. Now that I’m able to process it a bit more, I know that maybe it was just meant to be that that cat ended up with the family that she did, and whatever happens with our future pet is exactly what is supposed to happen. It will be alright. My faith has kept me sure of that in much larger, more devastating situations than this. This is small potatoes for God. He always comes through; just not always the way I expect. Thankfully, He is gracious in giving me time to adjust to his plans, no matter how obstinate or ungrateful I am in the meantime.

Oki Cars, Comic-Con, and Island Life Laments

Current Mood:busy emoticon busy

Current Music: the kids playing Paper Mario on my Nintendo 64

The last week or so have been a bit of a blur, but after having first my car, then my husband’s taken in for repairs, we finally have two cars again. Hallelujah! Except now, I’m seeing roaches in my car from time to time. (Thank God they are not huge…yet.) Apparently that’s totally a normal occurrence on this tropical island “paradise”. So, traps have been bought and placed and a cleaning company is coming out next week to do an interior detailing to make sure we’ve gotten up every single possible food source. I will have to ban the kids from eating in the car, which is not going to be an easy task with as much as we’re on the go. Sigh. If it’s not one thing, it’s another I swear. Adulting is overrated. I’m ready to go back to the days of hibernating in my room for hours, playing Sims 2 and only taking breaks for instant ramen and diet soda refills. If only.

Went to the base-sponsored Comic-Con yesterday with the family. We only saw the vendor hall and bought some nifty artwork (like Star Wars prints signed by comic book artist Michael Golden!) and such before the kids began to melt down in the heat. We didn’t make it to any of the meet and greets or panels or anything like that, but it was the first con any of us have ever been to, and it was a free event, so I’m not going to complain too much about getting to experience at least a glimpse of what it’s like to attend a con. I would love to go to a bigger con once we’re back Stateside and the kids are all old enough to enjoy it without being bored to tears during discussions and waiting in line – or maybe just take the eldest ones at first. Anya is already talking about us cosplaying as Sailor Moon and Mini-Moon, so that expectation has now been set. Haha! I’m totally down; I’ve dreamed of cosplaying Sailor Moon for literally decades, though which Scout I wanted to be changed here and there. In fact, I’ve never been able to cosplay at all and would love to check that off the bucket list. It would be fun to not only get to finally do it, but to also share it with my daughter who is becoming quite the Sailor Moon fanatic herself.

I’ve been busy just trying to accomplish some normal life tasks. This week will be my last in the poetry course, and then I’ll have a one week break before the Shakespeare course begins. Thankfully, my mental clarity seems to be returning. I think the anxiety of dealing with medical staff and the unknown of my physical ailments was really getting to me and causing a massive amount of anxiety. I’ve kind of resigned myself to my fate of just having to ride out the physical symptoms until we move again, that medical here will never actually care to figure it out and will always be looking for the easy out of blaming it on my mental health. I informed them I’m not taking the SSRI’s they prescribed and am waiting for the behavioral health referral to come through that will probably never end in an appointment because things just get so lost in the shuffle of endless wait lists out here. Otherwise they haven’t prompted for any further testing or appointments, so I’m just avoiding them and not bothering anymore. Just removing the stress of trying to deal with them and having my hopes and expectations dashed repeatedly has helped tremendously, though all of the physical pain and issues are still present. I just power through it, as usual, and try my best to implement what self care I can to counteract it a bit.

I don’t think I’ll be able to return to dance, which is frustrating, but unless medical magically decides to actually get to the root cause of things, I don’t know that I can power through that level of physical activity, not to mention the risk of injury without knowing why my joints, muscles, and bones constantly ache and sometimes refuse to complete certain movements. I’ll have to do some soul searching about it. The studio sometimes requires a level of intensity I just don’t know that I can even attempt to live up to right now, and I don’t want to take away from the efforts of the girls there trying to maintain a professional standard for the teams and future endeavors. Maybe it’s just something that has to be shelved for now, until I can be home with family to help with the kids and can try to participate in theatre, which is really the dream anyway. I’m perfectly content to be in the background of endless community theatre musical numbers, happy just to get to be on stage singing and dancing and being a part of it. Just something else to look forward to when our time here comes to a close. Trying not to wish the years away…but I’m so over Okinawa life and the limitations that come with it.

Anya’s 10th Birthday Letter

Current Mood:thankful emoticon thankful

Current Music: the kids playing video games together

Happy 10th Birthday, Anya!

You are becoming a preteen, but you understand the responsibility that comes with getting older, so you are perfectly happy to put off drama and boys for a later date and stay a kid as long as you can. I won’t pretend I’m not grateful for your wisdom that ironically helps you make more mature decisions, and I’m always so proud to hear how steadfast you are in your interests and beliefs no matter what your peers do to belittle them in the name of appearing more grown up. You don’t understand their rush, and I am so very glad that you feel comfortable talking to me about everything and discussing our opinions on how to handle social pressures and whether something is actually appropriate for your age.

Despite having to have some conversations about what growing up has in store for you, you have somehow maintained a youthful innocence that I adore. You believe in magic. You unashamedly love everything pink and sparkly, princesses and unicorns, playing dress up, watching Sailor Moon with me, and creating fairytales of your own. You have aspirations in the arts, especially dance, music, and storytelling, and have developed a recent fascination with mythology and astronomy that reminds me of my own middle school years. You are my mini me in so many ways, and it’s humbling and comforting to know that you are proud of that.

I hope you will never be afraid to talk to me, to ask your questions and tell me your views. Sometimes you blow me away with your observations about our Christian faith and the way the world works. You wear our shared Asperger’s diagnosis like a badge of honor, and I’m thankful that somehow I’ve done enough of this parenting thing right to give you a firm foundation in your sense of self that took me decades to even begin to achieve.

Don’t let anyone dim your light; the world will be a better place because you dare to dream and shine even against the bleakest darkness. Be exactly who you are, always, magic and all. We love you and are so proud of the young lady you are becoming. Happy Birthday. 💖🦄👑

Our Fall 2019 Homeschool Routine/Schedule

Current Mood:productive emoticon productive

Current Music: the kids watching Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers on Netflix

I know how much everyone that homeschools (or is thinking about it!) loves to read details of how others make it work for their family, so I decided to share how our routine has changed going into this school year. I have officially started to lean in a more relaxed direction, so we don’t strive to check every box or even complete curricula within the calendar year anymore. Instead, we just take it one page/lesson/chapter at a time and move to the next book on our list as we complete something. It has made a world of difference in my stress levels and given the kids a bit more free time because we aren’t frantically trying to get all the things done by a certain timeframe. Ironically, after beginning this method sometime during the course of last school year, we actually made it through more materials than we had in previous years. Maybe it’s just the feeling of being more in control of our learning instead of it controlling us, but whatever the reason we’re sticking with it moving forward.

This year, we have a 5th grader, kindergartener, and little preschool-aged brother tagging along but not doing anything formal. Our week always changes a bit each semester as activity schedules change for our myriad of extracurriculars for the older two, including dance, gymnastics, piano lessons, and Girl Scout meetings and events. We are also not morning people and choose to let the kids stay up a bit later than most because it works for us. We’re usually up around 9 or so in the mornings, and bedtime for the kids is around 9PM, though sometimes it gets closer to 10 depending on the day. All three kids have a chore chart in order to earn screen time that includes making beds, completing school and piano practice, cleaning up any toys they got out, and asking if there’s anything I’d like their help with. They complete these at their leisure, other than school/piano since it’s built into our routine, and no one is allowed to do any electronics that take up the TV and will be distracting to those still working until everyone is done with school. If they choose to use their screen time while a sibling is still working, they must use handheld devices with the volume down or headphones in. Sometimes we limit the amount of screen time more than others, but if they are using educational apps or taking their own breaks to play pretend or with toys or do something creative, I feel less need to step in and require them to turn off the electronics for a bit.

During my eldest’s independent work, I’m free to work on my own grad school assignments, administrative stuff, etc. and complete any chores I deem necessary for the day. I will say, that I hired out regular house cleaning a long time ago, so my husband and I mostly worry about clutter, laundry, and kitchen-related duties in between kid wrangling and our other commitments for work and education. Our school day lasts as long as it does because my eldest wants to listen to her sister’s read alouds and sometimes takes her time working through her subjects while listening to music and interacting with everyone else. She knows she only takes her own time if she dawdles too much, as I require her to work through all her subjects before she can call the day done on the school front.

Here’s a little breakdown of how most of our school days go:

10:00 AM Kindergarten Bible, History, Literature/Poetry, and Science Read Alouds with Mom
10:30 AM Kindergarten Math, Handwriting, and Phonics/Reading with Mom
5th Grade Independent Piano Practice
11:00 AM Kindergarten Independent Piano Practice and Computer Keyboarding
5th Grade Spelling with Mom
11:30 AM Kindergarten Complete for the Day
5th Grade Bible, History, Literature/Poetry, and Science Read Alouds with Mom
12:00 PM Lunch – 5th Grade Read Alouds Continued with Mom
(Independent Audible and/or Internet-Linked Resources while Mom prepares food)
1:00 PM 5th Grade Independent Science, Language Arts, Computer Keyboarding, and Math
3:00 PM to 4:00 PM School Day Ends as all subjects are completed

If we have extracurricular activities, which we do at least three or four days a week, we usually have to leave the house anywhere between 1 PM and 3 PM to arrive on time. The 5th grader takes anything she hasn’t completed with her in a backpack, including her iPad for access to her online math software and internet-linked materials. Because we finish anything that requires my help or participation by the time lunch is over, she is able to easily work on her own in the car and while waiting if the activity we’re at that day is for the kindergartener. Other school years we’ve usually had one day that’s heavier on being away from home than others and so instituted four-day school weeks a long time ago. This year, things are more spread out, but my eldest decided she would rather take work on the go and still get a third full day off each week than to divide the work we do into the times we are home around activities throughout the week. So, for this semester, at least, we take Friday’s off from homeschool work. The kids get a three-day weekend, aside from any extracurriculars we may need to attend on those days. It can make for some full days for the 5th grader Monday through Thursday because she is basically doing school and/or activities until dinner if we aren’t home all afternoon, but she still prefers it, and we’re usually home a day or two each week for her to finish up at normal time and play for the two or three hours until dinner. I also really enjoy the three day weekends for extra time to get things done for myself that I’ve maybe been putting off during the first part of the week while working with the kids.

Sometimes, our school-day mornings get away from us, and we don’t start school until 11 or even noon, but everything can still be done by dinner because of how we organize our work and don’t take on more than we can handle in any given subject each day. My eldest is given a lot of freedom with the order that she does her independent work in, which has helped a lot with previous issues dragging her feet through her work. We work together to find the best curricula that fit her needs and meet my requirements if something isn’t working for her or is causing a lot of pushback. By getting to choose which things she does next as she works, it gives her enough control to not feel like she has to fight me about getting the schoolwork done, even when she’s having a rough day. By switching to a relaxed next page/lesson/chapter methodology, even on the worst days, she can complete every subject easily by dinner because the work required in each subject is in small, manageable chunks. Going into this semester, we have so far had the least stressful experience of homeschooling we’ve had since she began more formal work in 1st grade. I’m a recovering box checker, and the benefits are definitely encouraging me to stay on the proverbial relaxed homeschooling wagon!