Thursday, August 27, 2009

Nikki & Middle School

With the sudden death of our beloved, 8 year old Lab - Buddy, I 've been in a bit of a fog for the last 2 weeks. However, since the arrival of Hope, our 12 week old Jack Russell things have been a lot more 'up'. I was looking through my last few blogs (not including the article I posted yesterday) and realized I have not spoken one word about Nikki's new adventure in middle school!

Let me just sum up her first week of school in the words she used when she came home the first day "it was the best first day of school EVER" and that is how she continues to feel about the subject. I have had exactly one phone call from her since school began and that is wonderful!

Oh....wait....did I mention that Nikki's new, wonderful school nurse has diabetes and wears an insulin pump? Did I mention (I think I have) that one of her closest friends is on her 'team' and in at least one of her classes AND she also as T1. Now hang on, that's not all! She's made another new friend who is in a couple of her classes guess it....she has T1! It's like a mini diabetes camp every day. So things in that area are just great (knock on wood). It also helps that she's been blessed with great teacher's again this year.

We've had pretty consistent blood sugars in the mid to high 100's except at night when they seem to be running higher. I'll be adjusting her nighttime basal this evening and we'll see how that helps.

After so much sad news lately, it's awesome to think and share the wonderful things going on! We are continuing with our fundraising efforts - the walk is only 3 weeks away! THANK YOU to those of you who have already donated to our team, you are a blessing to millions of people! If you are able and would like to donate to our walk team you can access our team donation page and donate online by clicking the link at the top left side of our blog.
God is Good :-D.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Parental Alienation Sydrome

What on earth does this have to do with me & my husband; Amber, Nikki or type 1 diabetes - well, nothing. Honestly, it is a subject that I have been researching for some classes I'm taking. I felt that the article(s) were very informative and simply wanted to share some of what I've found. I think the subject is a serious one and one that will hopefully gain more attention as more research is done.

What is Parental Alienation Syndrome?

Richard A. Gardner, M.D., first introduced Parental Alienation Syndrome, or PAS, in 1985 as a way to describe what he refers to as a "cluster of symptoms" present in children who, during the process of a child-custody dispute, reject one parent as a direct result of strong, negative claims introduced by the other parent.

In addition, in cases of true Parental Alienation Syndrome, the negative propaganda that is being introduced to the child by the alienating parent is not substantiated by the alienated parent's behavior prior to the dispute. In many PAS cases, the child enjoyed a warm, vibrant relationship with the alienated parent prior to his or her parent's divorce.

Another notable distinction in true cases of Parental Alienation Syndrome is the idea that the child so strongly adopts the alienating parent's point of view that he or she begins to vilify the alienated parent independent of the alienating parent.

Alienated vs. Estranged
Children who are estranged from one parent are typically not victims of PAS. In many cases, when a child is estranged from a parent, that parent chooses (perhaps for a variety of reasons) not to be involved in the child's life.

Alternatively, there are also situations where an older child may be estranged from a parent due to that parent's own behavior. For example, a child whose mom is an alcoholic might choose not to participate in unsupervised visitations. This is not an example of PAS, however, because there is a valid reason for the child to resist contact.

Abuse Cases
Substantiated cases of abuse - whether emotional, physical, or sexual - should be differentiated from cases of PAS as well. When there is abuse, it is reasonable for the child to reject the parent. Therefore, it does not constitute a true example of PAS.

PAS Should be Considered When a Child Consistently, and Without Reason:

Shuns the parent in question

Denigrates, belittles, or disparages the parent

Appears unable to distinguish lies from the truth in regards to the parent

Unjustly hates the parent

Defames the parent with invented stories and lies

Uses inappropriate language to deride the parent in public

Views the parent as singularly bad; sees nothing good in the parent in question

Shows extreme resistence to seeing or maintaining contact with the parent

Degrees of PAS
Parents who contribute to Parental Alienation Syndrome do so to varying degrees. Mild alienation may be perpetrated by a parent who avoids conflict with the other parent and allows pent-up anger and resentment to spill over to the children. Moderate alienation may be perpetrated by a parent who is extremely angry with his or her ex-spouse, but lacks the self-control to manage his or her own behaviors. Thus, the child becomes indoctrinated in the same anger and resentment. In both mild and moderate forms, the alienators may not intend to cause harm to the child's relationship with the alienated parent and usually responds positively to education.

In cases of severe alienation, though, it is more difficult to change the alienator's behaviors. He or she truly believes that the child is better off without the other parent, intentionally withholds the child from the other parent, and purposely uses his or her influence to destroy a once-positive relationship between the child and the alienated parent. (Wolf, 2009)

Gardner's definition of PAS is:
"The parental alienation syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes. Its primary manifestation is the child's campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification. It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent's indoctrinations and the child's own contributions to the vilification of the target parent." (Excerpted from: Gardner, R.A. (1998). The Parental Alienation Syndrome, Second Edition, Cresskill, NJ: Creative Therapeutics, Inc.)

Basically, this means that through verbal and non verbal thoughts, actions and mannerisms, a child is emotionally abused (brainwashed) into thinking the other parent is the enemy. This ranges from bad mouthing the other parent in front of the children, to withholding visits, to pre-arranging the activities for the children while visiting with the other parent.

One criteria necessary for the detection of PAS is probably the least described or identified, but critically is one of the most important. It has to do with the existence of a positive relationship between the minor children and the now absent or nonresidential parent, prior to the marital separation; and a substantial deterioration, of it since then. Such a recognized decline does not occur on its own. It is, therefore, one of the most important indicators of the presence of alienation as well. as a full measure of its relative "success." By way of example, if a father had a good and involved relationship with the children prior to the separation, and a very distant one since, then one can only assume without explicit proof to the contrary that something caused it to change. If this father is clearly trying to maintain a positive relationship with the children through observance of visitation and other activities and the children do not want to see him or have him involved in their lives, then one can only speculate that an alienation process may have been in operation. Children do not naturally lose interest in and become distant from their nonresidential parent simply by virtue of the absence of that parent. Also, healthy and established parental relationships do not erode naturally of their own accord. They must be attacked. Therefore, any dramatic change in this area is virtually always an indicator of an alienation process that has had some success in the past (Boone & Walsh, The Florida Bar Journal, 2009, sic).

Any attempt at alienating the children from the other parent should be seen as a direct and willful violation of one of the prime duties of parenthood

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hope is Home

We went and got Hope yesterday, early afternoon. She is just so precious and tiny! After leaving her foster home we stopped by Lexington to let her meet her many grandparents and then headed home. Angel wasn't exactly sure if Hope was a dog at first, but Hollee loved her immediately. It took about 2hours and they were all 3 playing like they had been together all their lives; it made you feel good just to watch them. So I guess this will begin a new chapter in our lives and it looks like it's going to be a busy one!

Thursday, August 20, 2009


I like that word - Hope. It's been especially important over the last few days. Even better, it's the name Amber has picked for her new puppy - Hope - who will be coming home on Saturday. She's a 14 week old Jack Russell mix and we just can't wait to have her become part of the family. You can be sure that I will be bombarding everyone with pictures of her and of her with her new furry sisters. Angel has been very lonely since we lost Buddy, so I know she will love having a sister who likes to play as much as she does. Our Beagle Hollee, had a real hard life before she came to us, so she is not much for playing - her favorite thing (aside from sleeping) is sitting beside me wherever I am. She will play with Angel from time to time, but not enough to make Angel happy.

No one can ever come close to replacing Buddy; but it will be great to have a new little furry life to love.

Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. Psalm 30:5

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

In Memory of Our Buddy

I found myself looking through a lot of old family pictures today and that usually means a video (see). In this case, it was so helpful to relive all these wonderful memories.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Buddy Turner

It was an April morning in 2001, I was outside talking to a neighbor & waiting on my oldest daughter – Amber - to hurry herself out to the car so I could get her to school. As the neighbor and I stood there talking a scraggly looking rather large puppy walked up and attempted to say hello. My first instinct was to look around for my kids because I didn’t know if the puppy was friendly, he was very obviously friendly and hungry and covered in ticks and thirsty and loving.

The girls didn’t see him as I got them into the car so I didn’t mention anything about the dog. However, my mind was thinking that perhaps we had found Amber’s “Air Bud” dog (it was her favorite movie at the time, she was 7; Nikki was 4). When I returned home the puppy was still hanging around so I went in and got my husband who is normally traveling for business, but happened to be home at that point. He fell in love with this scraggly, ragged puppy as fast as I had. We made the decision to keep him. I called the vet and made an appointment to take him in that day and we took him around to the backyard – which is fenced. I couldn’t let him in the house at that point because he was literally covered and I mean covered in ticks.

When the girls got home from school he was still in the yard; Amber took one look at him (and he at her) and they were instant friends. She was a tiny bit intimidated in the first few seconds because of his size but that passed immediately and for his part, the puppy wanted to continuously “hug” Amber -- I couldn’t let him because of all the ticks. We left a few minutes after all this to take him to the vet. They took over 120 ticks off him and removed an imbedded flea collar (how’s that for irony). He was approximately 6 months old; Amber named him Buddy.

The months and years that followed were mixed with laughter at his antics and anger at his antics – like eating my custom made blinds, the carpet, the doors to the bedrooms, oh and he could climb fences. While we admired his talent for climbing we weren’t too thrilled with the fact that we had to replace our newly installed, and rather attractive, fence with a not as attractive 7 foot high privacy fence.

Amber and Buddy were inseparable; he was her very best friend and pillow. Buddy got sick this past Saturday morning – to say it was unexpected is putting it mildly. Although Amber and I rushed him to the vet and then on to the animal ER, his spleen had already ruptured due to massive tumors and he had lost a lot of blood; which all leaked into his belly. We had no idea AT ALL that he had anything wrong. He fought hard but died during surgery at approximately 7:00 Saturday, August 15, 2009.

I have so many Buddy stories to share but right now it’s all a little too fresh. I know not everyone will understand why we are so devastated over the loss of a “pet”; the only thing I can say is that Buddy, and our other furry babies Angel and Hollee, are much, much more than pets – they are our family and the loss of Buddy is huge, especially for Amber.

Buddy loved to play in the lake; sleep on the bed; chase the 4-wheeler; chase flies, squirrels, rabbits and birds. Buddy loved his furry sisters Angel and Hollee; he loved company coming to the front door and stealing food off the counter. Buddy loved to patrol the backyard and follow Bryan whenever he was outside working; Most of all Buddy loved his people and especially his girl, Amber. Buddy was 8 years old, we brought him home and laid him to rest in the back yard under his favorite tree.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Diabetes Camp 2009: Update

Today was Camp Thoroughbred at Nikki’s school. It’s a middle school orientation for incoming 6th graders (I know I mentioned this in my blog yesterday – just reminding - :-D). Anyway, Mikayla’s mom picked the girls up around 7:00 a.m. They met their other (non-D) friend Emily at the school and spent the day doing things like practicing how to open their lockers and find their way around the school – they had a blast.

I picked them up at 2:30 and we headed straight back to camp because they were in a rush to make the horseback riding outing. Emily went with us to drop them off – they giggled for the entire hour drive. It was raining when we got there so Nikki’s group was hanging out in their cabin; which had no affect on the very good and giggly mood (and I mean Nikki, Mikayla, Emily and the rest of the cabin of 11 year old girls).

On the drive back to camp, one of the conversations centered around Mikayla having a low last night and Nikki being unable to fall asleep right away (which prompted her to brush her hair instead of count sheep – I didn’t ask for details). The best part was that they were laughing about the fact that by the time Mikayla’s blood was up and Nikki finally fell asleep it was time for midnight blood checks for the cabin so they were all wide awake for a long time: “and mom the funniest part was that ‘S’ couldn’t get her finger to bleed so we all climbed on her bunk and took turns trying to help her get blood out; but we were all laughing so hard that it didn’t work so she finally changed hands and then she got too much blood – it was so funny.” Now, for many people nothing about that incident seems funny; but I did understand it. From my point of view, the truly best part of that story is that all of those girls felt perfectly normal and not like the center of attention because of diabetes – I mean, they ALL have diabetes – no biggie.

God is Good!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Diabetes Camp 2009

Well, today was the big day for Nikki. One of her favorite days of the year….the first day of diabetes camp. This is the 4th year she’s attended and each year her excitement leading up to camp grows by leaps and bounds.

I noticed a couple of things this year; the first is that this year Nikki was reuniting with friends from previous years. After 4 years of camp she has her own special group of ‘camp friends’ and they were very happy to see each other. The other thing I noticed was the campers themselves. What I mean is this; in a typical setting it takes kids a day or so to warm up to each other – not so with D kids at D camp. When I left, all the girls were huddled together around one lower bunk talking as if they had been best friends for years. Some of them knew each other, but a lot of them were new to camp – D has a way of bonding them.

Of course, Nikki is blessed to be at camp with one of her closest friends, Mikayla. This is a big year for them because they will also be attending the same middle school and they will be on the same team. That is a priceless support system for them both. In fact, tomorrow is what we call “Camp Thoroughbred”. It’s a day long camp for incoming 6th graders; the purpose is to help them become familiar with their new surroundings. Since a huge factor in D blood sugar highs and lows is stress/anxiety Mikayla’s mom and myself feel that Camp Thoroughbred is a an absolute necessity for both our girls. Sooooo, Mindy (M’s mom) is picking the girls up in the morning and taking them to the school and I’ll pick them up in the afternoon and return them to D camp – about an hour away. Nikki and Mikayla both informed me just as I was leaving that they HAD to be back to camp by 4:00 tomorrow because they are going horseback riding at 4:30 and they DO NOT want to miss it.

A final observation from today is how much Nikki did not mind that we were leaving; in fact I’m not sure she noticed. The responsible parent in me relishes her independence; self-confidence and how comfortable she is at camp – the stingy, clingy parent in me wishes she was a tad sorrier to see me go. Actually, I’m kidding. It does my heart good to see the young woman she’s becoming.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Family, Friends and a Trip to the Mall

We just got home from a wonderful day spent with some of my high school friends and my awesome family. It was truly a great day. Nikki managed to con her grandfather (my Dad) into taking her to the mall - now that's definitely only something a "Poppa's Gerber Baby" could do - but she will remember it forever.

Amber and my nephew Michael went along for the outing. Did I forget to mention that Nikki did not have any money on her and I was at my grandmother's with my mom. Of course, Poppa came through with some $$'s but evidentally the thing Nikki was after in the mall was still a little out of her price range - so (PROUD MOMMY MOMENT HERE) Amber gave Nikki the money Poppa had given her to spend. Now is that sweet or what? I am just so proud of Amber.
Nikki leaves a week from today for diabetes camp, for (gasp) 7 DAYS - no matter how many years she attends camp I don't think I'll ever get used to her being gone for that long. Once she returns from camp she'll have 3 days and then school starts.

I'm planning on really focusing on the walk in early September - I have to figure out how close we are to our goal. Looking forward to participating as a team again this year; one day I just know I will say "Nikki USED to have diabetes".