Thursday, May 31, 2012

What can Words Do?? (Part Two)

I have waited until receiving the proper confirmation in the mail before blogging about this matter.  I received that paperwork today.  I have prayed about this and tried to think about how to share this information without pointing fingers or letting any angry words take over the point I want to make.

Here goes...

I was reported to Children and Youth Services for possible neglect and/or other concerns regarding my twins Caleb and Isaac.

8:25 am May 1st, 2012.  I had just gotten Camille and Elijah off to school.  The twins were playing in their playroom still in their morning diapers.  Both boys were really suffering from a sinus infection that they so graciously decided to share with their mama.  I was very hoarse this morning and not at all feeling well.   I was fixing my morning coffee when I hear a knock at my door?? As my mind starts wondering who was knocking at my door at such an hour, I start chuckling thinking that Camille and Elijah missed the bus and were trying to be funny to ask for a ride to school.  As I approach the door, still in my morning attire, I see a young man with a name tag on a lanyard hanging around his neck.  Puzzled I open the door and ask "May I help you?" to which he answers "I am so in so from CYS, I need to come in your home."

I was very curious what would have made a CYS representative come to my home so bright and early in the morning.  I was wondering if it may have been due to an incident that recently happened with another family member and he was wanting my statement.  As we approached my kitchen island he set his books down and opened his paperwork.  Curiosity really had me now.

"He stated that we have been reported for two different issues.  The first was neglecting medical treatment for my twins and concern that I had sent them to school with pink eye.  He also went on to state the second issue was that it was reported that we have SEVERAL dogs in our home pooping on the floor.  We have two children with Down Syndrome living in our home who may not know that dog poop was unsafe and were known to eat off our floors.  There was concern for their health."

When I heard these allegations, I immediately starting wondering who in the world would have done this to us.  I was literally in shock.  The CYS case manager had several papers for me to sign and then he had to check the welfare of the twins.  They were both their dirty diapers... sick and congested in the play room.. UGH!!!  Then the case worker stated that he had to look in our refrigerator to make sure there was adequate food in there for our children and then he had to look at the children's bedrooms.  I complied with all of his requests and tried to wear a friendly smile.  He stated that the issue of dog poop all over the house was going to be closed immediately because he did not see any at all upon his visit.  He would then go ahead and call the doctors office and maybe the agency that our TSS workers are from to see if they had any concerns.  He was very nice and handled everything in a very nice, calm professional manner.  I bid him goodbye and it was then that the personal anguish began.  After I had some time to really think about this.

As I sat there allowing my mind to wonder... my feelings became more and MORE hurt.  I began to cry realizing that someone out there really thought that I was not a good parent.  Someone out there really thought that we were neglecting our children.  Someone out there really thought that I would actually do something to jeopardize my children's health.

I had just taken my twins to the doctors a week prior to this visit from CYS, as I too suspected they may have they may have had pink eye.  I was assured that it was a bacterial form of pink eye and was not contagious.  There really wasn't much we could do about it but keep them cleaned off.  Doctor prescribed an eye drop to try to put in, but doc and I both knew I would probably not be able to get these drops in because of their sensory issues.   They DO NOT like things put their their mouth, ears or eyes.   I was told that if I could not get drops in to just be sure to wipe their eyes with a warm wash cloth in the morning to get their eyes open and cleaned up.  I did this daily.

The second issue stated that we had SEVERAL dogs in our home?? I have a little tiny black pug named tiny pug.  And I will confess that Rosco still has accidents in the house.  Daily??.. No! A few times a week??  Yes.  I pick up the accidents promptly, I disinfect and make sure the area is clean.  Where does Rosco frequently have his accidents?? In the boys and girls bedrooms, because my inlaws who used to live in our house before us had a dog who also had accidents in these rooms.  It happens, I don't like it, but it does and we clean up after the dog.  We DO NOT feed the twins off of the floor in their bedroom.

Let me explain how we "feed off the floor"..  The twins are getting so much better with self feeding.  They are starting to use utensils, they are starting to eat a bowl of cereal at the table and not throw the bowl before finishing it all, they are transitioning very well to sitting and eating as a family.  Before this they would not eat out of a  bowl, they would not eat on a plate, they would not eat anything out of a bag.  When they wanted their cereal or popcorn, I would offer it in a bowl... 100% of the time, they dumped their food on the floor.  I attempted several times to have them pick it up and eat it out of the bowl.  They down right refused.... I opted to have them eat verses fight with them each time with the result of them not eating.  Today this still happens but NEVER EVER in a spot that the dog may have had an accident in.  They are not allowed food in their bedroom and honestly have never even tried to eat in there.

I almost feel like I am making excuses as I type but I am just trying to set the stage for my feelings and my blog post.

Words can and do HURT!!

Words can and do make one feel like they are not doing a good job!!

Words can and do make one feel as if every action is judged and critical judgement at that.

I do know who made the report.  I do not know why this person felt that the "alleged neglect" was enough to report our family to a county children and youth service to come in and investigate us.  This person knows our family and has been in our home.  This person knows how much I do for my children, both educationally and medically.  This person knows the challenges I face, yet the intense love that I feel for each and every child in my home.  This person also knows where my husband and I both work.... these allegations could have hurt both of our careers.   (I am not implying that people with good careers do not do wrong!)

What this person does not know...  we call the doctors office so much for our boys they know us by name, the doctors office appreciates our input and suggestions on things to do with and for the boys,  we travel to Pittsburgh so many times a year to make sure the medical attention our boys receive is what they need (this is 2 1/2 hour one way and difficult to do so often, but we do it), we have worked SO HARD with our boys to get them to where they are today, we have advocated for fair treatment of our boys and have put their faces out wherever and whenever we can to promote acceptance, we have gone above and beyond with our time and patience to be good parents to all five children.  We know and understand that raising identical twins with multiple disabilities is a challenge.  Its a challenge that my husband and I have fully accepted, but it is also a challenge that no one has ever written a rule book on or even instructions on... We are not perfect, we are not trying to be.. But one thing that I can say for sure is that I fully rely on our Dear and Precious Lord to guide us and give us wisdom that we can find no other place.  It is with that wisdom I have chosen to pray for this person who made the call to CYS.  It is with this wisdom that I have shared my story with my church members and have asked for their prayers and advice.  It is with this wisdom that I will allow this situation to make me grow, to educate, to advocate even more than before.

So if you have read this far...Thank You.. If you have not read What can Words Do?? (Part One) please do.  I also welcome constructive comments on what would you do in this position?

Why am I blogging about this?? Because if I can just teach one person that before you do something so hurtful, so judgmental to someone.... PLEASE if the children are not in immediate danger, call the family.  State that you have a concern, hear their reply before calling a county agency to come in and investigate.  If this person would have just given me the courtesy of a phone call.... I could have explained that I already had them to doctors, that we do not have several dogs and my children are safe.. Not to mention... this person DOES NOT EVEN COME INTO MY HOME... how did this person feel obligated to report health and welfare concerns when they don't even come into my home.  I have TSS staff who come into my home almost daily, who are mandated reporters, and they did not feel the need to make report.  Instead, we WORK on the issues, they state any concerns and we actively work on fixing them.  I am just saddened that this person does not feel like I am approachable.  I would think that I am probably one of the most approachable people I know, or at least I really try to be.

I am also blogging because I forgive this person.  I wish I knew the motives or the outcome the person was hoping for and expecting to come about.  The paperwork has came back "unfounded" and "case closed", but the hurt feelings will last on and the accusations have made an imprint on my heart.

What have I done???
I have not contacted person yet, but am thinking of the contacting supervisor.  I have pulled them out of their preschool for the rest of the year and I am not sending them to summer school.  I can not honestly send them without feeling we are being observed in a critical way.  Any other suggestions??

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hidden Treasures on my iPhone

 I recently received an email message telling me that my iPhone was reaching maximum capacity in memory.  I was wondering how in the world this could be because I really don't have a whole lot on there.  Low and behold I look at my photo album and see that I had over 800 photos and about a dozen videos.  I never hook up my phone to my computer (guess I better start) so I uploaded all the photos to my computer and sat and looked through them today.

My children ALL steal my iPhone from time to time and from the photos I saw today, apparently they ALL take photos when they steal my phone from me.

I have to admit I totally enjoyed looking through them all and sure laughed more than once.  Here are a few I must share:

ELIJAH photos:

one of the twins rubber fidget toys broke and this is how Elijah decided to use it.....

Do NOT attempt this at home!!!!

CAMILLE's photos:

Random Twin Photos:

Looking through all of these photos almost makes me feel as though I just unpacked my summer clothes only to find a $20 bill stuck in a pocket of my shorts :)  I may just have to ask my kids to take my phone more often and take some photos, its kinda nice to see things through someone else's view..

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Makes a MaMa Proud!!!

Tom and I have been hard at work getting our garden cleaned up and ready to plant for the season.  Last June when I fell and tore my ACL kinda threw a wrench into our garden season last year.  And then to endure reconstructive surgery in August right before we normally harvest all the garden produce, I probably don't need to explain that our garden was a real MESS this spring.  No fall clean up..  unharvested produce... weeds galore, it really was just not pretty.  Tom has been down at the garden for hours upon hours getting it ready.  He did and AMAZING job and I can't wait to plant all our goodies this year.  Lord willing, we will have a nice harvest this year and I have LOTS of canning to do this fall.  We are out of all my good sauces, vegetables, and jams in our pantry.

After Tom finished tilling up the soil I wanted to layer the isles again this year with cardboard to keep the weeds down and to give us a cushion of sorts to walk upon as we do our gardening.  We just bought a small lawn mower and garden cart to help us with our yardwork this year.  The kids are so excited that daddy took time to train them all in fine detail on how to drive the lawn mower.  Each child is excited to help with the yard work so far this year and often ask if there is anything they can do to be able to drive the mower and cart around.  We have accomplished a ton of little jobs that we would not have otherwise even attempted without the cart so far this spring.

Elijah was asking and asking what it was he could do to be allowed to drive the mower.  I mentioned that we needed cardboard lined up in the garden between the isles.  He was right on it.  I helped him load the cardboard into the cart and then he took it from there.

He worked up a sweat for sure and after the third load he as super happy when the mower ran out of gas and he could take a break before laying the cardboard on the last row.  This HAD to be documented, because this is out of the ordinary..... but I like having a motivator that will make my kids want to work!!!!!  That mower was worth every little penny we paid for it already :)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Restful Sleep??? I Question that one

I was out setting up the tent with the three older kiddos only to come back in the house to find Isaac looking like this....

I can't say that I have EVER fallen asleep still standing.  These kids crack me up!!!!  Guess I will do him a favor and lay him down in his bed now..

Backyard Fun

We just finished setting up our tent at 10 pm for a last minute decision to let kids sleep outside in the backyard.  They LOVE this!!  I can probably bet money that they will all be in the house come morning.  Cousin Kylie is experiencing her first backyard sleepover tonight.. Hope the kids are nice to their little cousin and don't tell scary stories to much :)

Oh to be a kid again.......

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Mothers Day gift from Elijah

I love getting homemade gifts from the kids for Mothers Day.  I especially love when you can tell that the kids have put lots and lots of work into the gift.  Elijah is in third grade and her teacher and her art teacher have worked all year long to put together an awesome Mothers Day book..  They took several photos of Elijah throughout the year, he made art projects to go with the photo.  The book was so nicely wrapped and Elijah put it on my pillow before I awoke on Mothers Day.... how sweet!!!!

I wanted to take photos to share and to keep.  I store away things like this and never seem to see them again, but this is why I love my blog, I can look it up whenever I want :)

I had a very nice mothers day this year and thank my hubby and kids for a wonderful day!!!!

Elijah is a baseball player

His class
Fingerprint turkey, each level used a different finger

I love you because; you help me when I'm sick and you feed me and
you spend money on me and you help me stay alive.

I am lucky because....I have you for a mother and you take care of me
and help me and put clothing on my back

Thanks buddy!!!!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Camille's first Chorus Fest

Tonight we enjoyed going out to watch the District 3 PEMA Elementary Chorus Fest at the Brockway Area Middle School..  Camille was able to participate in the fun filled day practicing with a total of 21 school districts all day to put on their performance tonight.. They did a fantastic job and Camille, of course, was right in the front row and easy to watch.

Camille said she had alot of fun and enjoyed meeting new kids.  She said she is going to try really hard to get in again for next year.  You have to try out to participate.  This year she was selected as an alternate, but was excited to be told she was going.  There were 9 students from her elementary school that attended.

Tristin surprised her with these beautiful flowers at the end and Camille was thrilled... Congrats honey.. you looked and sung great!!

What can words do?? (Part One)

I have had a VERY EMOTIONAL roller coaster over the past two weeks.  I have had something happen to me that has been so personally emotionally draining that I am still not sure how I can fully recover.  I will think on how to write about it after everything passes.  So words can HURT very badly and words can identify something in a way that is completely untrue and make someone out to be someone or something that they are not.

Then today I receive an email from someone who I have never met.  Someone that I talked to on the phone for work recently and felt really bad once I hung up because I had such a hard time hearing her due to the twins demanding my time to put on a tv show or give them a cracker or just the usual..mommies on the phone, so lets cling on her and hum and fuss to get her off the phone..

See I have said a hundred times before, I LOVE that I have been blessed to find a position with an organization that allows me to work from home.  Its the only way that I could work while raising five children.. all with their own needs, but especially my twins with PDD Autism and Down Syndrome.  Often I find myself apologizing to the person on the other end of the phone because of the noises happening on my end of the receiver.  I am often left wondering what in the world that person I was just talking to thought of our phone conversation..

Today I got the NICEST email from this person.  So today I am happy to say that words can UPLIFT a person in so many ways.  Here is the email (with person's permission)

I have to tell you that I was so inspired by you that I went online yesterday searching the Today show website trying to find an e-mail address for them to see if there was a way to get your story out there for Mother of the year nominations and I thought "this is it!" it said you had to nominate someone you knew and write an essay, I thought I don't know her, but I can do this, and my essay was going to be about how a woman I never met inspired me, how I only had 2 interactions involving this woman, one was a phone conversation in which I could hear a baby crying, and your explanation that you had identical twin boys, and how I immediately identified with that situation of trying to have a phone conversation when my boys were young, as I also have identical twin boys, whom I feel so blessed to have.  Buth then you went on to tell me that your boys have autism and kept you very busy.  You said it with joy in your voice, not with the sound of a stressed out mom, and I hung up the phone, thinking wow, she has such a positive attitude.  The other interaction was when I was on your website trying to find an application for the summer camp program you hold, and I came across your blog.  You described yourself as a mother of 5, and told of your 1 in a million twins who were identical, had downs syndrome, and autism, and how lucky you were to have them, and they changed your life.  I thought this story would inspire many......So, anyways, as I read on about the contest, the entry date had passed, and it was too late to nominate you--but next year, if I come across such a contest again-I think you would be the winner HANDS DOWN!  So, whatever it's worth from a lady you don't know---Happy Mothers Day!!

This email brought tears to my eyes and actually pulled me out of a funk that I have been in for a week now from the hurtful words that were presented to me last week.  I try my hardest to always speak in positive ways.  I try my hardest to never speak unkindly of someone even if I am thinking that they should have some unkind words spoken to them.  I pray for wisdom for my tongue and mind all the time.  I don't claim to be the perfect mom; I don't say that I know exactly what I am doing; I will not intentionally do or say anything to harm my children.  I appreciate this email from someone whom I have never met before more than she could ever begin to understand..  She was the angel God sent me today to cheer me up :)

More to come soon..........