Thursday, March 25, 2010

Sod vs. Seed

So on the way home the other day with one of the guys, he says, "I sure wish we had a pool in the backyard." And then he proceeded to tell me how if he had a shovel and concrete and something to cut all the underground pipes, he could dig us a pool. (He goes into much detail here, that I will spare you from reading, but believe me, it was much detail.) When he finishes his monologue of how the pool will be built (complete with slide connecting to his bedroom window) he tells me that he even knows how to clean a pool. He figured out a way several years ago where you don't even need those silly expensive chemicals that they try to sell you at pool stores. All you need is some Tide detergent. The kind with the little blue crystals works best. It doesn't make your eyes burn. The pool will be clear down to the bottom, and you can even breathe in the water and it doesn't hurt your nose or lungs. Who knew?!?!? (And even as I write this, I wonder how I could just keep driving and nodding with the occasional "hmmm" without asking him if he'd been smoking crack.)

Anyway, the conversation went on along and somehow transferred over to how the digging of the pool would help out garden snakes and earthworms. (And no, I have NO idea where the segue was here). But he informed me that we have done the earthworms in our yard a big disservice by getting our yard sodded instead of seeded. You see, with grass seed, the earthworms can eat the "root of the soil" then they excrete it and create fertilizer. Well, when the landscaping people came and put down sod, we "essentially took away the earthworms' jobs". That's why they all came up to the surface of the yard and allowed themselves to be fried on the concrete. Because apparently if earthworms don't have enough to do to keep themselves busy, they just participate in a mass suicide.

So there ya' go. Now you, dear reader, have learned something new today.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Excuse the Delay

I know it's been a couple of weeks since I have posted, but things just really haven't been feeling all that funny lately and that leaves me uninspired. We deal with a lot around here, what with both the behaviors and the disabilities. And I think for the most part, we handle those things well. We know what we are getting into and we can generally see the humor in it; if not at the time, then almost always shortly thereafter.

But the things going on lately could not be categorized as disability or behavior. The only appropriate word to use is PSYCHOSIS. And it's really hard to laugh at psychosis. Certainly not at the time, sometimes the humor comes much after the fact, and sometimes not at all. So our last couple of weeks have been filled to the brim with the six-foot psychotic man.

So while not comical on the whole, there of course, is funny mixed in because of the dynamics of the home. And now that things are better (thank God for anti-psychotic medication), we are beginning to reprocess and find some of the funny. And since it's not easy, we are glad we wrote down some of the fun quotes that have been said in the house recently.

We have had a nasty cold make its way through the house and it has hit each of the guys. One of them continued to have a bit of a runny nose for several days. As we are sitting at the table, Psycho tells him to wipe his nose. He replies with, "I don't let people who punch me tell me when to clean my nose." I thought that was pretty well said, and it did make me smile. Although it didn't make me laugh out loud like I did the next time he was asked to wipe his nose and he replied with, "Okay, I will get a tissue now, but if you try to hit me again or complain one more time about my nose, I will have you charged with a hate crime against Mexicans!" Now how's that for a comeback if someone tells you that you need a tissue??

On another day, the cook in the house was making one of his always-nasty concoctions and says to me, "Did you know that if you add enough garlic to your food, it takes all of the calories out?" You can't argue, or even say what you're thinking - "I wish that were true", you just have to smile, nod and say, "Is that right? Hmmm." He said that line shortly after he said, "I've been thinking about going on the show, 'The Biggest Loser' because I tried it once and it didn't taste too bad."

Earlier in the week we had asked that same guy if he would mind taking a shower as we were noticing it had been a while since he had last taken one. He replied that he "would love to, but has no clean clothes to put on." I guess he was waiting on the laundry fairy to come to do his laundry. And personally, I was just too done with everything else from the week to even argue with that logic.

I think we are back to normal. Or at least to what we consider normal.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Grammar Made Easy

With a little help from the guys next door, I was able to give some great grammar examples to Joshua today.

One of the next doors woke up in a grumpy mood. We'll just call him "Bob" today. When "Joe" came out of his room for breakfast, Bob starts saying, "I hate Joe, gonna beat him up." We got Bob in another room and he seemed to calm some. But it wasn't long before Joe got up to get more cereal and Bob ran in the room and pushed him. He was quickly restrained from his physical aggression but continued to yell, curse, and threaten. We got him back into his room and gave him a little something to calm him down while Joe finished eating his Fruit Loops in as much peace as possible given the situation.

Once that Haldol kicked in and everything was okay, I came back over to our side to work on some school with Joshua. I could hear both Lowell and our day staff laughing as I was using examples such as, "If I say, 'Bob hit Joe' then Joe is the direct object. Hit who or what? Joe. So Joe received the action of the verb. If I say, 'Bob is crazy' then crazy is the predicate adjective because it describes Bob. If I say, 'Bob is a bully', then bully is a predicate nominative because it renames Bob."

I also used sentences such as, "The laundry room door is broken. It was pulled off its hinges."

It was good to use sentences that really apply to our everyday life. And guess what? Joshua understood perfectly. So sometimes living with a little crazy pays off!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A Day in the Life, Part Three - Seriously?

So, it's been a crazy day and I am so excited to go out on a date with my husband. We decided we were going to go out to eat and then to a parenting conference at church. Our weekend guy was supposed to be there by 5 pm.

Around 4:30, the grocery sacker/quacker/barker (yes, he started barking too) asked if he could go pick up his paycheck and then go to an electronics store to purchase a new video game. I told him that when the weekend staff came, he could go, as we would have time for them to do that and we could stay home with the other two. Historically, things don't go so well when they are all in the van together.

At 6:15, Lowell called our weekend guy to see what the deal was and when he was coming in. His response was something along the lines of "oh gosh, I completely forgot. All day long I've had this feeling that I was supposed to do something but couldn't remember what it was." REALLY??? You forgot to come to work??? How does one forget to come to work??? He said he could be here in a couple of hours. We told him not to worry about coming in, since our evening was already ruined. I'd stay home and Lowell would go to the conference.

I popped a frozen pizza in the oven and changed into some "just staying home" clothes. It wasn't long before I was trying to explain to Mr. I want my Paycheck and I want it now why we could not go get it tonight. Since our staff didn't show up and Lowell was leaving, I couldn't take him, but we had two staff coming in tomorrow who would be more than happy. Well, this was not acceptable as he had other plans already for tomorrow and he was "tired of this *&%$" and he headed out the door.

Poor Lowell. He headed out after him, walking down the street. Lowell passed a jogger who said that he had seen him. Yes, the 25 year old wearing a tank top and shorts (in the 30 degree weather) and a huge bluetooth type thing in his ear. So Lowell continues in that general direction. Several minutes later, when he hasn't been spotted again, we called in the troops - his dad, our supervisors and the local police. (I have the number for police dispatch in the address book of my cell phone. Scary huh?)

About 30 minutes later, I got a call from Lowell. He says, "so the jogger noticed the shorts, tank top and bluetooth. Don't know why he neglected to mention the bicycle." Heck, no wonder we couldn't find him. Well I immediately feel better that he's been found. I don't know why I thought that finding him had solved the problem.

The police knocked on our door a few minutes later. I told him that we had found the eloper and all was well, but then I had the forethought to ask if he would mind staying until they arrived home just to make sure everything was okay. While the officer was taking his report, our shopper from the morning was most excited to show off his new jeans, and his room, and his new hat, and it just brought back all the fun memories from the morning to me; and the poor police officer just didn't even know what to do/think.

When Lowell wasn't home within a few minutes, I sent the police out looking for him. He'd been kidnapped! Or Adultnapped, or whatever you want to call it. Our guy got in the van with him and told him where he had to drive, or else. The or else involved him: jumping out of the van, destroying the house, tearing up the van so that nobody else could use it (i.e. cutting the battery out). So, Lowell just sat there in the driver's seat - not coming home, but also not following the kidnapper's demands.

The police weren't just a whole lot of help. They were nice and all, but said that really no laws had been broken (yet) and as long as he didn't hurt anybody or damage the house when he got home they didn't see any reason that he couldn't go get his check and video game. (Thanks local police for your help in our positive behavior reinforcement - or not!) So just to get him home safely, Lowell went ahead and took him to the store and got him home.

Once home, the fun continued. He called his dad and screamed at him for a bit. He made a few more demands, going so far as to put a timeline on it - "if I don't have the money in my hand by 9:30 in the morning, I'll blow this house up, then they'll know not to screw with me!" Uh, yeah, okay. So we knew that things may not be any better the next day, but we were so totally done with the day, we just went to bed, hoping that Jesus would come back before we had to face the problem the next day.

With no such luck, the kidnapper's dad came and gave in to his terroristic demands and gave him what he wanted. So he's learned that all you have to do is make threats to tear things up or hurt people and you get what you want. He never learned that you get what you get and you don't throw a fit.

We got an email later from his father. He explained that the threat to damage the car was all talk because his son told him that he didn’t know how to do that and was worried about battery acid and getting shocked if he tried that. Yeah, no kidding. He says this all amounted to his son just having a bad day and we all have those. And of course on our bad days, the police get involved and we come really close to having property damage and terroristic threatening charges, right?

I later had a long conversation with my supervisor who had just gotten done with a long conversation with his dad. She said he suggested that we just let him destroy property, call the police, have him arrested and thrown in jail. "A weekend in jail might just be the best thing for him," he says. We got really excited at this thought because we've thought from day one that would be the best teaching experience he could have. But then his dad says, "he wouldn't have charges against him though would he?" When it was affirmed that you really can't spend a weekend in jail without charges, he quickly changed his mind, as he wouldn't want his kid having "legal consequences".

So we are now thinking, "Wait a minute. Just a second ago you thought a weekend in jail would be good for him. But now you don't want legal consequences? Oh, you mean you want him to go to Pretend Jail? Yeah, well too bad there's no such thing as PRETEND JAIL!!!"

The funny thing is when I was relaying all this to our weekend guy (the good one) he pops out with, "Why would it matter if he has a record? Is he planning on a Senate run any time soon?"

And there you have it. That was our day. We didn't make it to the conference, but we certainly learned a lot about parenting - especially what not to do. And although this was not necessarily a typical day for us, it certainly wasn't way outside the realm of what we call normal around here.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Day in the Life, Part Two - Spanish Lessons

One of our guys speaks fluent Spanish. He was born in Texas, but the rest of his family came to the United States from Mexico and they speak little English. We have a new weekend staff person who is a Spanish teacher at a local school, so the two of them have hit it off beautifully. However, now he wants to speak Spanish all the time and teach it to us.

This would be fine of course, if he didn't have a traumatic brain injury which puts some hindrances on the lessons.

The afternoon went a little something like this. We had a party to attend and were going to drop off Mr. I Have a New Hat and You Better Not Touch It at his workshop and then head to the party from there. The ten-minute trip from our house to the workshop was filled with conversation. Simultaneous conversation. New hat was asking to take me to dinner and asking for my phone number. He would then say "227" (he had to have had a 227 number at some point in his life because every phone number starts with 227 for him) "00444444499995. Got a pencil? Write this down, 227227227444444000, write it down, 227444002227227, write it down and call me, 227....." While this is going on, Mr. Bilingual is in the backseat saying, "I can count in Spanish, see, uno, dos, tres...." I am not lying or exaggerating to say that this went on the whole trip. I wanted to scream, "I don't need your phone number and you don't need mine. I live with you and therefore won't be calling. Plus you don't know how to use a phone." And then to turn around and say, "Yes, I know you know how to count in Spanish - it's your FIRST language." It's like me being proud that I can count in English, for pete's sake. But of course, I didn't. We just dropped "227" off at work and continued on to the party.

The whole way to the party (30 minutes), the Spanish continued. I was amazed at how much I remembered once he started talking. However, instead of just speaking back to me when I said something in Spanish, he would say, "That means blah blah blah in English." Like I didn't know what it meant and was just saying random words in Spanish and they just happened to make a sentence? Anyway, as we were driving I asked how to say "snow" in Spanish and he replied, "lluvia." Thinking that meant rain, I asked, well then what's the word for rain, and he relied, "lluvia." So I say, "well what's the difference between snow and rain?" And of course he responds with, "well rain is water that comes from the sky and snow is white and more frozen." And yes, I know I set myself up for that!

The party was a beach-themed party. Somebody asked how to say "beach" and he said "agua." I said, "isn't it playa?" And he says, "yeah, but there is a lot of agua at la playa." So thus far in my Spanish lesson I have learned the difference between rain and snow and that there is a lot of water at the beach. Woo hoo - goes to prove the old adage that we learn something new every day right?

This has nothing to do with the Spanish lesson, but just to give an idea of the other stuff going on. On the way to the party, we saw another van stopped in front of us and the driver was out looking around the road. I wondered aloud what he was doing and our client says, "He's probably looking for his contacts." Yep, that's it. I know my contacts fly out of my eyes and into the road ALL the time when I am driving.

Senor Spanish met a pretty lady at the party. He really can have a semi-intelligent conversation, but he gets flustered by pretty women. He introduced himself, says, "I do my laundry on Tuesday and Thursday. I take five showers a week. I go home to Kansas City with my brother on Sundays. I have two kids; they are 14 and 12." She was a little taken aback by the kids part. I just nodded and we walked on.

I got asked to be a judge for the hula contest at the beach party. Several of the clients we serve were excited to be in the contest. Imagine it now if you will. It was a group of women (and one man) in grass skirts doing the hula. It wasn't hard to judge. We just waited until there was only one left. Everybody else got distracted and wandered away. She was the hula winner, and didn't care at all that she kind of won by default.

I was so tired by the time we got home and looking forward to an evening off. Our weekend staff was coming early and I was going on a date with my husband. But that's another blog for another day. Check back tomorrow.

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Day in the Life, Part One - The Shopping Trip

Friday was busy. And as the day went on, I several times wished I had some type of recording device that would allow me to capture aspects of the day in order to visually, or at least auditorily, be able to share what a day in our lives really looks/sounds like. But as that is not possible, I decided to try to blog about our day. It will have to be at least a three-part blog, so bear with me.

The Shopping Trip

Our guy with the recent medication change has been doing better enough lately, that I (mistakenly) thought we could take him out shopping for some new clothes. So we (him, our daystaff and I) headed off to the local department store. All went well - for a few minutes. He tried on a couple of jackets and picked out a few pairs of jeans. And then he needed to go to the bathroom. Which of course was in the far opposite corner. Just the walk over there and back added a good thirty minutes to our little shopping excursion.

Once we got back to the men's section, he was "tired, stomach hurt and about to throw doooowwwnnn." (And yes, most people would say "throw up" but as you know, we aren't most people around here!) So here we are, ready to go back to the van, but still needing to try on the jeans before we purchase them. With a little bribing, we convince him that if he tries on the jeans, he can pick out a new hat. This got him to the dressing room, where once again, he was too tired, so he just sat down on the little corner of a seat in the fitting room. And just as promptly as he sat, he fell off, onto the floor, hitting his head and crying. Oh joy.

He cried until we reminded him about the hat. Then he took one shoe off. I stepped out to see if I could find more clothes I thought he would like. I heard him groaning several times, but just tried to ignore it and pretend I wasn't with him. And it worked fairly well until I heard him yell, very loudly, "I'm a pee myself! Get me a bucket!" This line got a reaction from pretty much everybody shopping anywhere around the men's area. If he were three, people might excuse this as kind of cute. But he isn't. He's 49. And he apparently wants to pee in a bucket. Not so cute.

I headed back in there to see that he had the new jeans almost on. And then he yelled out again, "ooooooowwwwwwwwwww, broke my leg!" I was done. There was so much groaning and moaning coming out of him, he's yelling about peeing in a bucket and having a broken leg. I knew it wouldn't be too long before somebody called a local abuse hotline on us and it was probably best we head on out of there.

Oh, but first a hat. Nobody was leaving the store until there was a hat on his head. He did okay while we were checking out, until it came time to scan the hat. We'll just say he wasn't happy about having to take it off. He got it back really quickly.

As we were finally leaving the store and I was walking behind him, I laughed to myself at the Minnie Pearl get-up he was sporting. A big ol' tag was hanging off the back of his hat. But I didn't worry about it. I knew that nobody within a 200 yard area of this store would DARE touch his *#$^@% hat!