Friday, November 15, 2013

It's Happening!

It's happening! Just got a call from the social worker at Sanders (Kaitlyn's school) that she will be starting full time at Western Hills Middle School on Wednesday, Nov. 20th!

Kaitlyn will go to school at Sanders Academy on Monday and Tuesday. This will give her those two days to say her goodbyes to her classmates and teachers, and to mentally prepare herself for Wednesday.

On Wednesday Kaitlyn will walk the halls of Western Hills as a member of the student body, not just a visitor. By starting on Wednesday, she'll have a more gradual transition. A three day week followed by a weekend, and then another three day week, as that second week is shared with Thanksgiving. After Thanksgiving she will begin her 5 day weeks like everyone else.

It has been a long hard journey, but now our girl is "coming home"! I pray that Kaitlyn will grace the hallways and classrooms of Western Hills with a sense of entitlement, because she has worked damn hard to get there.

Kaitlyn, we love you to the stars and back and I hope that you are as proud of yourself as we are.

Little by little, step by step, making my way every day.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

I've Caught the Bug

This is probably not the most interesting subject matter for a lot of people, but I write what moves me and today it's picture taking.

It seems that I've caught the bug. The shutter bug that is. Lately I'm finding myself noticing the light and colors all around me like never before. The sunrise and sunsets have been particularly captivating the last week or so. The most gorgeous shot I've ever seen was one I was unable to capture on camera because I was driving the car and I was in the city at the time so I couldn't just pull over and stop. Josh tried to get it on his phone for me, but the tail lights from the other cars were interfering and all he got was red tail lights. The light changes so quickly at sunrise and sunset, that seconds can make all the difference in the world to getting the shot you want or not.

Yesterday morning as Alexa and I were on our way home from dropping Josh off at the train station, I was awestruck by the way the light and colors in the sunrise were playing in the leaves of the trees and giving them almost an ethereal glow. I wanted to stop and take pictures so badly, but on a school day, I just don't have the time to stop, and I wanted my good camera rather than the one on my phone (though that does take some lovely pictures sometimes). 

I promised myself that if today was going to be sunny and I could get up early enough, I would go out and get those pictures I missed out on yesterday. Now the light was just different enough that I didn't get exactly the shots I would have captured yesterday, but it was definitely beautiful, and well worth not rolling over in bed and going back to sleep. Every time I thought I was done and ready to go inside, I would see one more chance for a good or fun shot that I just couldn't resist. It was so much fun, and I felt so energized! Of course, that could partially be because it was about 30 degrees outside and I was in my pajamas and a light jacket. Ha ha! 

Most everything I do is for my family, and I love taking care of them, but everyone needs something that they do just for themselves. Taking pictures just may be my thing. I don't have to take magazine quality pictures, and other people don't have to love them as much as I do. I just have to enjoy taking them and looking at them afterward. My photo shoot this morning was the most fun I've had in quite a while.

Friday, October 18, 2013

A Tale of Hope

I can't believe how long it's been since I last wrote a blog entry. I was just looking and it's been since July of last year! 

Since last year so much has happened and a lot of the time it felt like there were way more downs than ups. Writing is usually very therapeutic for me, but the only way through this past year has been for me to hold things in and not address any of it. The situations were just too intense and overwhelming to even write for the sole purpose of venting my stress and emotions. Now that we've come to this point, I feel like I can finally write again. What a wonderful feeling!

The last entry I posted was right before Kaitlyn went into Bradley Hospital (a Children's Mental Health Hospital) at the end of July of 2012. The main reason she was in the hospital was to get her off one of the medications she was taking. This medication was having a negative effect on Kaitlyn, and so it made sense to make sure that she wasn't going to have adverse reactions to coming off the medication. That was a tough week for Kaitlyn, and for all of us. Josh was working in Boston every day, commuting home the usual 2 hours, and going straight to the hospital so we could visit her. Kaitlyn hated practically every moment she was there, and we left usually after spending only a few minutes with her because she was so angry that she had to be there and was upset that she wasn't going home with us. She also couldn't tolerate being around her sister and Kaitlyn's anxiety and stress would go through the roof very quickly.

After a week in the hospital, Kaitlyn went straight into a partial hospitalization program at Bradley Hospital. She was to go and participate in group therapy and individual treatment as well. She had to be there from 3-7pm every weekday. Kaitlyn hated this program even more than she did being in the hospital. She would vomit all the way there just about every day (she went for about 3 1/2 weeks), and she was extremely angry and said she didn't want help, and you know, she really didn't.

Five days after Kaitlyn's last day in the partial program, she started middle school. She had a great first day and I thought things were starting to look up. When she got off the bus after that first day, she was laughing and seemed to be happy for the first time in a very long time. The next morning, I drove Kaitlyn to school because she was an emotional wreck and her anxiety was through the roof. I dropped her off, with instructions to go directly to the guidance office so she could talk to someone with professional training. I let Kaitlyn know that I would go park in the lot and wait for a while to see if she or the staff needed me. Within ten minutes Alexa and I were headed into the school guidance office. From there, we went directly to Bradley Hospital to have her evaluated, and ended up leaving her there. This was a much shorter visit, just about 4 days I think. 

The day after Kaitlyn was released from BH, she started going to another partial hospitalization program, this time she was there from 8am-2pm, and she was MUCH happier about going. As Kaitlyn neared the end of her time at BH, they gradually reintroduced her back into school, sending her for a few hours a day, then to the program for the last couple hours of the day.

The first day Kaitlyn went back to school with no BH time, we met first thing with the guidance department staff. There we met a woman who told Kaitlyn that she could come and tour her school if she would like. That school was Sanders Academy, a small therapeutic school for middle/high school students who are unable to manage a "regular" school setting, due to mental and/or emotional setbacks or disabilities. Kaitlyn said she would like to see the school. We went the next day at noon for a tour and the following day Kaitlyn became a full time student there.

The first quarter was a bit difficult, with Kaitlyn's avoidance issues and anxiety causing her to vomit every morning and trying her best to not have to go to school, and then happening less and less as the year progressed. Kaitlyn missed 18 days of school the first quarter, but second quarter she only missed a few days, and third quarter she missed two, and I believe only one day fourth quarter. 

At Sanders Academy, Kaitlyn's grades improved quarterly. First quarter she had 4 C's and two B's, and by the end of fourth quarter she had straight A's. She also made great strides socially and personally. In mid June, Sanders holds an awards ceremony to reward the students and recognize their hard work over the school year. Kaitlyn received NINE awards that day. The awards she received are:

Most Improved Attendance
Artwork Displayed at Arts Fest 2013
Most Organized (at school, though not at home - ha ha!)
Most Positive Role Model (for her class)
Best Overall Academic Performance
Most Enthusiastic Student
Most Positive Attitude
Most Enthusiastic in Academic Achievement
Social Growth

If you know me well, you know that I am NOT a crier. I think I cried just about every time Kaitlyn got up to get a certificate that day. She's come so far! Every day things that you and I take for granted, don't come naturally to kids like Kaitlyn and the others like her. Some days just getting to school and managing to stay the whole day is a big accomplishment.

Two weeks ago, we went to a meeting at the school to discuss the possibility of transitioning Kaitlyn back into the "regular" middle school setting. I was going to wait until we know for sure one way or another whether she's going back or not, but I'm feeling excited and so optimistic that I just couldn't wait any longer. On Tuesday (10/22) Kaitlyn is going to Western Hills for a half day trial, and then being bused to Sanders for the last half of the day. If that morning goes well, we will meet to discuss her transition from Sanders to Western Hills. The plan right now is for Kaitlyn to be a full time student at WHMS beginning second quarter (Nov. 4th). Our girl has come SO FAR in the last year. She is so vastly different today from this time last year!

The staff at Sanders Academy have given us HOPE. A year ago I never would have believed that Kaitlyn would ever be leaving Sanders for another school. I was sure that she would be there until her graduation. Their patience and perseverance, kindness and caring for Kaitlyn has helped her tremendously. Thanks to them, Kaitlyn has helped herself by working so hard to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. She is going to have to continue working this hard always in every aspect of her life, but we now have a bright, shining hope that she can do it. If all of us were as strong as Kaitlyn, we would all be truly exceptional people. 

Kaitlyn, I love you more than life, and I am incredibly proud of you. You are my shining star and I can only aspire to be as strong a person as you.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


This morning we took Kaitlyn to the hospital to be evaluated (as required by our health insurance). Tomorrow we go to admit her to an inpatient facility. Not sure how long she'll be there, but it sounds like the best fit for her right now, and she feels comfortable with it. She'll have her own room and there's an outdoor pool. We're feeling confident that this is where she needs to be and are hopeful that once the insurance says her inpatient stay is up, she'll be able to transition into a day program, which will allow her to come in the morning, stay for the day, and come home for the evening. The average inpatient stay is 10 days, so it would be good if our insurance agrees with that, however, as long as she can be in a program and get the help she needs, that's what matters most. This is very good news and I wanted to share it with you. Thanks for your loving thoughts, prayers and well wishes. We appreciate each and every one.

Little by little, step by step, making my way every day.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

It's All In God's Hands

It's been almost 5 months since my last blog entry. Wow! So much has happened between February and now that I don't even know where to start. Medications have been increased, decreased or changed completely for Kaitlyn. She's had some side effects that we're not willing to live with or to make her put up with. 

June was a very difficult month for Kaitlyn. She missed the last two weeks of school due to depression, anxiety and paranoia. She didn't even feel able to attend her elementary school graduation ceremony or their end of the year field trip to Boston and Gillette Stadium. Once school was finished and summer vacation had begun, Kaitlyn was finally able to relax a bit, but her ability to control her emotions, thoughts and feelings dwindled to nothing and she started acting on them. We thought we were going to have to have her admitted to the hospital, but we managed to avoid that. So it was a medication change, followed by the addition of a new one a couple of weeks later to help her control those actions and intense and frightening feelings. Now due to some very negative side effects of that particular medication, we're going to start weaning her off of it next week. I'll admit, I'm concerned that she's going to start acting on her thoughts and feelings again, so we're praying there is an alternative to that particular medication that might be a better fit for Kaitlyn. 

Tomorrow I'm taking Kaitlyn to a hospital in Massachusetts to be evaluated for their partial hospitalization program. This means that if they take her, Kaitlyn will be going there 5 days a week from 9am-3pm. There she will receive intensive therapy and be taught coping skills to help her learn to live with her symptoms and feelings and make the most of each day. She will also see that there are other kids just like her, that she isn't the only one who has to learn to deal with similar problems. 

The down side to this partial hospitalization is that the hospital is an hour away with no traffic, and about 2 hours away in commuter traffic. We'll be driving up with the commuters tomorrow of course, then if she stays for the day, I'll come back home until it's time to drive back to get her and home yet again. This means no less than 5 hours of driving per day. I will be asking if it's possible to have them authorize service for Kaitlyn at one of our local hospitals for this reason. There are also a few other factors that make this more than just an inconvenience. Not only do we need the original hospital to authorize us to receive services from one of our local hospitals, there would also need to be space available in the local program, and at this point, I really would need the hospitals to work it out between them, because I'm not sure I have what it takes to arrange it myself. God knows our need and I'm trusting Him to work everything out for Kaitlyn's best. If she's unhappy and uncomfortable it's going to be a real fight to get her to go, and she's too big for me to strong arm her into the car anymore. Your thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated. I am trying my best to just leave this all in God's hands and to not worry about what's going to happen. 

It isn't easy writing about something that is such a large and consuming part of my life without going into a lot of details and coming off as a total downer, but I think I've managed it this time around. I'm not even crying, so that's got to be a good sign, right?

Hoping and praying for some good results to post about next time. Thank you all for your love and support, it means more than words can say.

Little by little, step by step, making my way every day.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ain't It Great To Be Crazy?

As I was going about the business of getting ready for the day, I had this uncontrollable urge to do something silly. My next thought was of what Kaitlyn (my 12 year old daughter) would think "if she could see me now." The thought that immediately followed that one was that grown ups are just kids in bigger bodies. I like that thought. 

As "adults", we have jobs and more responsibilities, kids of our own, and so on. Underneath the big important things we have to think about and do every day, we're still the same kids inside that we were way back when. We still like to have fun, be silly, go a little (or a lot) crazy. I say we don't do it enough. I think kids get embarrassed by their parents acting foolish because they don't see it very often. That's not how they're used to us behaving and so it throws them off balance. Now of course, if you have teenagers, they're going to roll their eyes, and not want to hug you in public, or whatever, because it's expected of them to behave a certain way at that age. That's ok. 

I think that as adults, grown ups, parents, grandparents, we're entirely too serious and need to learn to loosen up a little, go a little wild and silly a bit more often. This is not only good for the heart and soul, but laughter is healthy. It HAS to be, after all Reader's Digest doesn't have a section titled, "Laugher, The Best Medicine", for no reason. And the Bible even says that a merry heart does good like a medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones. SO, laugh, be silly and feel better! It must be easier to handle the tough stuff in life if you have a merry heart, don't you think? 

Little by little, step by step, making my way every day.

Friday, January 27, 2012

For All It's Not

I grew up on the largest island in Canada's Bay of Fundy. The Bermuda of the Maritimes, the Queen of the Fundy Isles. Back in the day when I was living there and growing up, there were roughly 2,800 people on the island. No traffic lights overhead, no shopping center, no bowling alley, and the main road had one lane going in either direction with a yellow line between the two. The population has grown a bit, but the rest still applies. Fishing used to be the main source of income, now that has taken a back seat to tourism. Still fishing is the main source of income for a great many.

The year I started first grade was the first year that there were no more village schools. An end of an era. Goodbye to one room schools. How old am I you must be wondering. Well, I'll confess, I'm not a spring chicken anymore, but the fact of the matter is, that things just take a little longer coming to Grand Manan than to a lot of other places.

Grand Manan boasts one gas station nowadays, (yes there used to be several), and one main grocery store, though the Corner Store in "the Head", still carries some groceries. Restaurants are coming and going all the time, or changing hands and names. Like anywhere else, there are changes all the time, and some things that never seem to change at all.

The nearest city is an hour and 20 minutes by ferry ride, and about a 45 minute drive after that. This is where most "islanders" go for doctor appointments, shopping, etc. A trip "away" takes pretty much an entire day, so you have to plan for it, and don't forget that if you have reservations or appointments off island, that the weather or any number of maintenance issues with the ferry could mean that you don't get to go after all. The first ferry from Grand Manan loads at 7am and leaves for her crossing at 7:30. If you're travelling to the island, you have to be mindful of the departure times because if you miss that last ferry, you aren't getting back   tonight. People have been known to sleep in their cars in the lineup to wait for the first trip the next morning.

There's one ATM machine, and that's at the bank in Grand Harbor. Most places that take debit/credit cards don't take Discover (if there are any), and there are no 24 hour convenience stores. (I think they close at 11pm if memory serves me correctly, that could have changed). There are no fast food restaurants, no Walmart, and the only "chain" store is the Canadian Dollar Store.

For all the things it's not, Grand Manan is many other things. Grand Manan IS a small community, with quirks and foibles, it IS the place I was born and raised. Grand Manan IS the place I went to school, played, laughed, rode my bike without a helmet, and didn't think twice about traipsing off to the "shore" to climb rocks with my neighbor. We built a camp in the trees behind my grandparent's house on the hill and swept the "floor" with a rag tag broom. We went to the beach every day it didn't rain in the summer with our grandmother, and raided the peas from Papa's garden on a regular basis. We played under and climbed the apple trees, and watched Nana hang clothes on the line ever day it was fit, sometimes they came in frozen. Ha ha! I grew up without a dishwasher, and I remember cable TV coming to Grand Manan when I was about 14. We didn't even have a microwave in our house until I think it was the year before I got married, or the same year. (yes we were probably the last holdouts on the island in that department)

Grand Manan IS still my favorite place to visit of all the places I might ever dream of going. It IS inconvenient in some ways given that there are a number of "modern" conveniences that they don't have, but if you don't grow up with them, you don't really think about it much and you simply accept that's the way it is. Grand Manan IS the place I will always call home, even many years from now. While I have changed a lot over the years, there's still salt water that runs in my veins, and the need to slow down and get back to a little simpler way of life for a week or so every year.

The thing I absolutely miss the most about Grand Manan besides my family (that's a given), is the fact that everyone knows everyone else, and while there are drawbacks to that, it's the one thing that sets the island apart. In a crisis, everyone pulls together. If you have a family member who is sick, you lose your home in a fire, whatever the case may be, Grand Manan is THE place to be. Everyone takes care of each other, and there are more offers of help or listening ears than you know what to do with. It IS the one place that when I'm there, and someone asks me how I'm doing, they stop to hear the answer, and they care. For all the inconveniences and the unholy rumor mill, there is no other place I'd rather be from and the only place I know I could absolutely go if I needed somewhere to go. People from Grand Manan are friendly, warm, honest (sometimes to a fault), and genuine. The most genuine people I've ever known anywhere. These people are real. Even if someone's real awful, I'll take that any day over a friendly phony.

So, for all it's not, Grand Manan IS home to my heart and the reason I'm the person I am today. Maybe that's why I don't seem to fit in so well here in New England, I'm too real, warm and genuine and they don't know how to handle that here. And that's just going to have to be ok, because you can take the girl off the island, but there's no way you're getting the island out of the girl!

Little by little, step by step, making my way every day.