Monday, January 19, 2009

Parent Weekend #2

January 17-19, 2009
More photos HERE.

Well, here it is January 17th and we're again at an Albany motel, awaiting another parent weekend at Santiam School. It's always stressful getting ready for these weekends as we have to get out of Seattle, usually during rush hour traffic, negotiate the 5 hour drive to Albany, get unpacked and ready for the morning. Usually we have some kind of argument, just to add to the fun. This time it was whether Savi should come to the school both Saturday and Sunday, or just Sunday. Since Tuuli and I were going to be tied up with a parent workshop from 9 till noon, and then with counselor and teacher conferences until after 2, it made more sense to me that Savi just come for the Sunday session, when we had no commitments other than to just be with Tiana. Tuuli strongly disagreed. Oh well!

Tuuli and I got up early Saturday and were at the school by 9. We had an enjoyable session from 9 till noon where we interacted with the other parents through various touchy-feely exercises. It's great getting to know them better and hear there stories. At noon we met the kids and of course it was another emotional meeting between me and Tiana, with both of us crying and hugging each other for an extended period. It was then time for a quick lunch and then meetings with her teacher and therapist. She's doing fine in school, maybe getting a little bogged down because of a recent bad cold she had. She just needs to be a little more assertive and ask for help when she needs it. The therapist's session went well, with most of the time being spent on how Tiana could finish the work she needs to do to advance to the program's Level 2, where she has considerably more privileges and responsibilities. We hope Tiana will be at Level 2 by the end of January, or the first week in February.

We spent the rest of the day, which was cold but sunny, walking around the campus, throwing rocks on the frozen ponds, eating various treats that mom had brought and playing cards. We also tried on a couple new jackets I had brought for Tiana, but she didn't really like them, so I'll try again at the next parent's weekend. At around 6 we had a nice dinner and were gone by 7. It was a great day, I thought, spoiled a bit by a little homesickness Tiana had when she was in the back seat of the van, thinking about all the time we had spent in that car and all the places it had taken us in years past.

The next day was more of the same, but Savi was with us and it was fun to have the four of us together again, especially the two sisters, who seemed to get along great. Tiana liked Savi's new jacket and the girls played cards together. We drank tea, ate more junk food. For breakfast, I brought a plate of bacon, sausage and eggs from the hotel, along with a quart of milk, which Tiana seemed to really enjoy. We also brought a half dozen Egg McMuffins, which we heated up in the microwave and had for lunch. Marsha's parents also brought along a lot of food, including some coconut birthday cake and some chocolate covered pretzels.

Tiana led us on a hike to Camp Morrison, which was about a mile up a steep hill. She showed us the primitive facility where the students take their showers and took us around the old camp, which the Boy Scouts used to use during the summers. It was a lot of fun. Tiana was in an excellent mood, always smiling and goofing around. I really enjoyed being with her. She was very brave and didn't talk about when she could come home and showed very little homesickness. We also got another tour of her bunkhouse and Tiana was happy that tonight was going to be her first night in a lower bunk. I also helped her to build a new shelf and she mentioned several times during the day how excited she was to try it out. My, how things have changed! Such humility I never would have anticipated....

At 4 pm the program was over and we had to say goodbye. Like our greeting yesterday morning, it was very difficult. I told her I loved her and missed her every minute and that I hoped she worked hard so she could come home as soon as possible. It is just overwhelmingly sad and poignant to see the look in her eyes when we have to leave.

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