This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Pumpkin patch

Pumpkin Patch 2002






For the past two years we have "worked" the Pumpkin Patch at church. That means that when the huge semi full of pumpkins pulls up, my family and I along with many teens and a few parents help unload the pumpkins one by one. We usually do it "bucket brigade" style. Meaning we have a few people in the truck (more as we get further back) and some people pick up the pumpkins (Hubby and Bear usually take on this incredibly back bending torture) and hand them off to the first person in line. Then you pass pumpkins along, person to person, until they get to the pallets where they are set out. There are thousands of pumpkins (and lots of gourds). People come by for the next month and purchase them. The money goes to benefit the youth programs and subsidize mission trips.














As I mentioned, Hubby and Bear usually take on the hottest, most difficult part of the job - the bending and lifting. Ponito usually sits on top of the mound of pumpkins and pushes them down for the big guys to lift (I don't think he's particularly helpful, but he's out of the way and feel useful. Kitty and Bob were outside of the truck in the lines, helping to place pumpkins. Bob had a lot of fun at the end, laying out the tiny "pumpkin" gourds in patterns on the ground. They had "pumpkin" angels, fish, etc. I always get in the truck and work in the lines, because I can't be outside for long without getting a horrible sunburn - the curse of fair skin, but also one of the biggest reasons I don't have wrinkles yet - I stayed out of the sun.




The pumpkins are all sizes, probably up to 40lbs! Maybe more. Those suckers get huge! Last year I was in pretty good shape. I was used to hauling 8 year old Ponito around. This year he's almost too big to pick up so I am super sore!!














Hope you enjoy the pictures of my littles in the pumpkins. We're really bad about taking pictures nowadays. So these are ancient.
I'm going to go rest my poor arms!
Mary

Sunday, September 28, 2008

When the past won't stay past!

Yesterday, Bear mentioned that his and Kitty's little sisters would be staying with Biograndma. Of course I had to let them talk to them. I can't say it out loud, but I wish I could just make all the biofamily just go away. It brings up so much for the kids, although they are finally getting to the point that they don't act out as much. Actually yesterday it was the biokids that were trying to drive me insane. Lots of "I wish we still only had two kids." I have to admit that yesterday I was a little cranky and short with all the kids which probably made it all worse.



They hate shopping with me, but when Hubby teaches scuba, they can't stay home so they have to go. We went to Salvation Army as usual and got more clothes (Ponito is growing again and needed jeans. Bob needed PE clothes for school.) Bob and I got in a big argument because I found the shorts she needed in the men's department (have to be plain and long). She hates that men's shoes and clothes fit. Everyone was bored and whiny.



We ate lunch out at Burger King (a big treat), but I made them use coupons so they didn't all get exactly what they wanted. More pouting! Then I told them I had a surprise activity planned. Kitty immediately starts guessing that we're going to the airport to pick up her sisters! *sigh* She knows it won't happen, but she keeps bringing it up. The activity was a children's sewing class. They would learn how to sew on a button and stitch together a felt animal. This went over like a lead balloon!! I used to be a professional seamstress so I want my kids to at least be able to sew on a button, but I know they don't want to learn from me.



I stayed with them, because I didn't feel comfortable leaving the teachers with my whiny, emotionally disturbed... well, brats is the nicest way to describe them at the moment! After about 20 minutes I stepped away. I realized the kids were behaving worse with me around. I went to talk to some of the other moms. Bear was the oldest kid there, but there was a pretty 14 year old girl there with her cousins (she is interested in Project Runway type sewing). He ended up hanging out with his siblings though. I had to keep sending kids back to the sewing tables, they wanted to hang out with me!



Bob has worked on sewing with Grandma a little so she had sewn a button before. She insisted on sewing the felt animal her own way, but was still the first kid to finish. There were about 25 children there. The majority of them between ages 8-10. For the longest time, my two were the only boys. Toward the end, the twin of one of the little girls showed up and he decided to make an animal too. After finishing her animal, Bob proceeded to actually lay on the floor and whine about wanting to leave. I told them we weren't going to leave until all 4 kids were done.



Ponito and Kitty finally finished, but Bear was still plugging away. Looking at his and Kitty's work, fine motor skills are something they definitely need to work on. Ponito ended up going back and reworking Kitty's project! The class was 2 hours. Bear was the last child to finish. We were there 2 hours and 15 minutes!! I had a nice time visiting with the parents and one of the teachers was someone I knew from my past life (pre-kids!). The last time I saw her was a fashion show. I found out later I was pregnant with Bob at the time. The teacher was a little surprised to see all my kids!

So after finishing the shopping (Mrs. Bairds thrift store where I bought them snack pies, Big Lots, and Sam's Club), we managed to squeeze all the stuff in the trunk of my little car, with the bottled water and a couple of other things in the front seat (which meant Bear could no longer sit up front without his knees touching his nose) and more in the back seat in laps.

My car is already very tiny when you include, Big Bear (5'9", 190lbs, BIG shoulders, the inability to keep his knees less than a foot apart, and the constant twitching and shifting his shoulders - nervous tic), Bob (5'8", 170lbs and size 13W feet), Kitty ("only" 5'4", 130lbs and is recently obsessed with sitting up front so she can do the shifting - it's an automatic so she puts it in reverse and drive), and poor little Ponito is required to always sit in the middle of the backseat, because as the smallest/youngest one he is never allowed to take a turn up front, and the middle seat has no head rest so it's not as safe for all the big kids. The other kids rotate who sits in the front seat.

So on the way home, Bear asks to call the Grandparents so they can talk to their sisters. He'd tried earlier, but no one answered. He'd managed to keep my cell phone - something that irritates me since he's already stolen it from me once. He spent a few minutes talking to Grandma and the little girls - actually a pretty perfuctory conversation. Then Kitty got on.

Kitty found out that the baby was at Grandma's house, and so was biomom. They were all getting ready to go to a birthday party. Kitty talked to her sisters about innocuous stuff (how old the girls were, when is their birthday...). When she found out the baby was there, she asked if "Barb" (not her real name) was there. Apparently the girls asked why she said "Barb" instead of "Mom." Kitty gave me a furtive glance and said that since her adoption she had a new Mom. She said "Barb" will always be her mom though. At least she didn't say "real" mom.

This has got to be so hard on Kitty. She misses her biofamily so much. I always make it perfectly clear that I understand and it is OK for her to miss them (and her foster family, and Nebraska) I NEVER run down Barb, although I have had to occasionally point out that some of her choices weren't the best. It's such a fine line. I don't want Kitty (or Bear) to think that Barb just couldn't handle them at the time (and that that was all thier fault) and now that they were "better" she would happily take them back and everything would be fine (although Barb does act like the kids are just out on loan to me.) I don't mind the kids continuing their relationships with their biofamily. Now though Kitty is wanting to know why she can't talk to Barb.

When we first got the kids, we were told by caseworkers and therapists that Barb was unable to accept any blame for what happened and that she actively blamed the children. The fact that her neglectful parenting, choice in men (abusive toward both her and the kids), constantly running away from her problems - usually out of state, etc. was a big factor in why the children had issues was never acknowledged by her. We were told it was in the childrens' best interest to not allow her to communicate with them.

A biofamily member gave Barb my e-mail address and she started communicating with me. It was evident that nothing had really changed in her attitude toward the kids. She seemed to think that they were still "hers."

I have told Kitty that biomom still acted like it was the children's fault that they were no longer in the home. Kitty says she now knows that is not true, and therefore it doesn't matter what biomom says. She wants to know why she cannot talk to biomom. She assures me that she would not say anything she shouldn't. I just don't know what to do. Early on in attachment therapy, we had Kitty pretend that an empty chair was biomom and tried to get her to tell biomom what she wanted to say (to help with closure). Kitty was unable to handle it even for a few seconds and ended up having to be restrained. That was over a year ago though.

EMDR therapy and 1 1/2 years of attachment therapy have helped Kitty a lot. She still does not accept hugs and affection from me unless it is on her own terms, she still has the occasional meltdown, but she no longer rages. Maybe she could/should talk to biomom. Maybe I should set up the conversation to give her some closure (which she never got) - I know biomom wouldn't be pushing for "closure" though.

Kitty has definite symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder (as does Bear). One thing that means is that she always sees things as black and white. I worry that she will only remember the good times with biomom and block out the bad stuff. I worry that she will see me as her warden, keeping her from her "real" family. I know she wants the new baby to know her. I know she misses her sisters. Right now she wants to bring her sisters here, but what if she decides she would rather be there?

Right now, as far as I know, biomom is currently single. She bought a house and went back to school. She kicked out her latest abusive boyfriend (the baby's father) months ago. All I know about her life right now makes it seem as though everything is fine. Why wouldn't Kitty think about going back? Bear hates biomom at the moment (actually since he moved in with us), so I don't worry about him wanting to go back. With his RAD (a serious attachment disorder) he will most likely never really want much of a relationship with his little sisters beyone the "Hi. How are you?" stuff. Kitty on the other hand, is definitely torn. She's my little girl for now, but the minute she turns 18 I can see her going back.

OK, enough angst. I don't need to worry about this right now. I'm going to rest my sore arms and catch up on my reading for the last 45 minutes before all the kids get home from school.

Mary

Friday, September 26, 2008

Public School



Bear has been talking about goint to Out Classes at the high school in the next 6 weeks. Yesterday in therapy I told him in no uncertain terms that I do not think he is ready. That the reason he is doing so well right now is because he is in the perfect environment for him. He is safe and well supervised. Bear apparently complained to his school director because I got a call today, and the director tried to talk me into changing my mind.

Here's what's been going on. Please tell me if you think I'm overreacting and not allowing Bear to prove he can do this.



Summer School




This last Summer, Bear was required to take a mandatory Summer school class in math, because he failed the math TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) ...again. The school was legally required to provide him with a class that "teaches to the test." (Don't get me started on how stupid I think that is!). In his IEP meeting at the end of school we insisted that after he took the mandatory math class that he be allowed to take a second Summer session of basic skills math class to see if we could figure out and address the concepts he's obviously missing. The team agreed, but we had to pay for it. We were also assured that "even if he fails the test a third time, it's OK, he'll still be promoted to the 9th grade."


Apparently several children in Bear's special school failed the test also so the school was "very aware" of their special needs. This was also a "good opportunity" to see how he would do in the Fall when he started his Out Classes of Athletics and World Geography in the regular classrooms in high school. (Did I mention everything is huge in Texas, including our schools?! There are thousands of kids in this high school, 270+ were enrolled in Football athletics). Since the summer school classes at the high school would have fewer kids, he would be "easing" into this.



About 2 weeks into summer school, we get a call from the school. 5 minutes after we'd left that day (we were dropping off his new prescription of Provigil for his ADD for him to take at noon), the school said we had to come get him. We arrive and there are 3 police officers in with the principal of the high school and Bear. We have to wait outside the room for quite awhile.




Finally we are invited in. On the table is a handgun!!


The principal was pretty sure he'd worked through all Bear's lies and finally come up with the truth. Bear had brought the gun to school in a holster that he'd made out of a wrist splint (it was pretty well made - I assumed it was a real holster!). On the bus he'd been showing off the gun (one of the kids on the bus reported him).

Bear claimed he had brought the gun because one of his friends at school had been letting everyone know that he wanted a gun for protection. This friend was a drug dealer (according to Bear). Bear had borrowed this gun from a friend of the family to give to the drug dealer in the hopes that the drug dealer would give him drugs.


The only "good" news was that this was not a "real" gun. It is a pellet gun (with the orange tip broken off by Bear). It looks and feels exactly like a real gun. The police told Bear that if he, or any other child, had pointed this "gun" at a police officer the child would be shot dead by the police officer. We asked Bear what could have happened if he gave the gun to the friend. Bear could only tell us, "I would get in trouble." He had NO CONCEPT of the consequences of his actions.

Because it was not a "real" gun the police left. The school decided that because it was not a real gun, and because of Bear's diagnoses as emotionally disturbed that he would not have any consequences other than being kicked out of Summer school. He was given a workbook to study for the Math TAKS he was still required to take (Big shock, he never even opened the workbook).


We discovered that Bear had gotten the gun when he spent the night with the emotionally disturbed 19 year old son of our nanny. She had assumed that her 19 year old was better able to make good choices than he was, and really I don't blame the boy (or the nanny). The boy had shown Bear his broken pellet gun. Bear claimed he could fix it for him. To the boy, it was a broken toy and he thought nothing of it. Apparently the toy originally had a red plastic tube that came out of the muzzle that helped to identify it as a toy. Bear broke this plastic piece off. Obviously Bear never intended to return the gun.


At the next IEP meeting just before school started, everyone agreed that Bear was not ready to take Out Classes at the high school. He had also failed the math TAKS for the 3rd time. We could not get them to admit that Bear had any learning delays, but we did force them to give him 2 math classes - one remedial and one on grade level.


Now 4 weeks later, Bear is doing well in his small, structured, program specifically designed for emotionally disturbed youth in this school district. He is mentoring another child. He has almost reached Merit level. Just like last school year. Everyone has begun again with questioning why he was even in the program (and of course letting him know their beliefs), because he is doing SOOOO well. Last year we allowed them to convince us that this was a sign that he was ready to move on and rejoin public school. Now I am convinced that he is doing so well because he is in the right place!


The director assured me that the high school had sent out their "drug counselor" last week to talk to Bear (glad they asked me for my permission - NOT!). They talked about how he was going to be exposed to drugs during Out Classes and how he needs to handle it. The director assures me that they're not going to dump him in a big class like PE after all and the ACHIEVE program at the high school will be there for support (just like the ACHIEVE program supported him in Middle School when he was kicked out and almost got arrested for "terroristic threats"?!).


The director asked me again if I was adamantly opposed to Out Classes. I said YES. He then asked if Hubby was adamantly opposed too? I said we'd talked about it a little and while Hubby may not be "adamantly" opposed, he did agree with me that Bear is not ready to go to public school. Hubby actually wants to send him to HCA (the private school the girls attend). I don't think Bear is ready for that either (or to be more accurate, the school isn't ready or capable), but if my only choices were to send him to public high school or to put him in private school, I would definitely choose private school. Of course we can't afford private school for Bear right now so the point is moot. (Also the school is so small he would be in the same classroom as his sisters and I don't think that will work well!).


So what do you think? Am I making a mistake? Would you let him try public school again? He's asked me several times to do things that require me to trust him, and I can't think of what he could do to get me to trust him enough to do them. EVERY time we trust him he screws it up - dramatically! I really don't think he is capable of doing typical teenage boy things. I think he is still about 2 years old.


Even his therapist apparently doesn't agree with me. He backs me up when I tell him about things like switching Bear to a clear backpack because things are going missing. At the same time, he has switched Bear to every other week in counseling, because he is "doing so well."


Am I the only one who thinks Bear is doing well BECAUSE we are so strict, BECAUSE he's under constant supervision, BECAUSE we don't allow him the freedoms that he wants?! I realize that in 4 years he will graduate high school and be "an adult." Does that mean that I have to keep trying to prepare him for life by letting him fall? Or does that mean I should keep him as safe as possible for as long as I can? *sigh*


Dazed and Confused,

Mary

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Pharmacies Part Deux

So I sat around work all day pretending to be doing something when I was really reading other people's blogs! I didn't get a single e-mail and everything I could even try to do I needed our Creative Director for - and he was in meetings ALL day. One of the blogs I found through Postcards from Insanity (http://afostermamaslife.blogspot.com/) was a hilarious blog written by a pharmacist (http://www.sickofstupidpeople.blogspot.com/). After reading her blog I tried very hard to be patient with our pharmacy tonight, but it was tough!!

It was 5:30pm. So when they told me that the p-doc hadn't called in the prescription for Kitty's Trileptal I was very frustrated. The p-doc's receptionist assured me she'd called it in 3 days ago, and they'd been closed for an hour so there was no way to have them do it now. The pharmacist did allow me to get a 3 day supply after I asked.

So then we switched to talking about Bear's Amantadine (the one they gave me a 3 day supply of Provigil for?!). They insisted that they'd filled it on the 17th and therefore we'd only had it for 8 days and couldn't be out since they'd given us a 2 week supply. I insisted that I would be out tomorrow. Finally someone got a code from the insurance company that allowed us to fill the prescription. She laid the bottle on the counter full of the little red pills I needed - all within reach. Then she told me she had no idea how to get a code from Medicaid so the co-pay wasn't covered. It was only $10 so I almost just paid it, but then decided I was going to have to be here tomorrow to pick up Kitty's Trileptal I'd wait and see if they could get the code. Tomorrow I'm going to remember to ask how many pills they gave me. It'd be ironic if they only gave me 14 when I needed 28 or something.

When I got home I was so frustrated that my Mom took pity on me and invited us out to eat. I had a 20% off coupon for IHOP so we loaded up the kids and went (Hubby is teaching scuba tonight, tomorrow night, and this weekend - so I'm single parenting). We got to celebrate the fact that we can finally afford to get the kids back into school!!! Wooo hooo!!! Grandma is ecstatic. She loves the littles, but they were running out of stuff to do and knowing they were about to go back to school anyminute I wouldn't let her buy new workbooks. They start tomorrow. (Photo: Kitty in chapel at HCA last school year)
Here's how I told them as we were sitting in Grandma's van:


Me: "OK girls, put your hands over your mouths." (They both did, sometimes they actually listen!!)


Me: "I have good news and bad news."


Ponito: "Tell them the bad news so the good news will make up for it!"


Me: "Ok, the bad news is you have to find clean socks for tomorrow (a big issue!), because the good news is you start school tomorrow."


Kitty (dropping her hand): "AAAAAHHHHHH!!!!"


Bob: "MMMMMPPPPHHHHH!!!"

Me: "KITTY! That's why I told you to put your hand over your mouth! Take it down a notch!"


Kitty: "Sorry! MMMMPPPPHHHH!!! AMMMMMPPPPPPHHHHH!!! I love you Mom!!"

*sigh* Why can't she love me when I'm not giving her something she wants?


(Photo: Bob and Hubby after Bob wins a medal at HCA last school year)



I was mean Mom again when I wouldn't let Kitty have chocolate chip pancakes (she had to settle for regular), order extra toast (I gave in on this, but it had to be wheat toast - mean mean Mommy!), or order Sprite mixed with orange juice like everyone else because she's allergic to oranges (practically evil Mommy!).

The Meanest Mom in the World

Pharmacies



AAAARRRGGGHHH!





So after the kids p-doc appointment I went to the pharmacy to drop off their new prescriptions. They needed a couple of refills, we made some changes to Kitty's meds and the rest needed to go on file.


I always return the bottles to the pharmacy when asking for a refill (for one thing I don't need 20 bottles a month). When filling the kids med box for the week, I just set aside the bottles when they are empty then take them all to the pharmacy. Recently we've been having so much trouble with the pharmacy that I've started putting pennies in the med box for each missing pill. That way I won't give them the meds and think they have them all.


So on Monday I dropped off 2 prescription bottles and said I would pick them up the next day. The person said both had no refills so it would have to be called in. No biggie, I always have at least a 3 day supply when I drop them off. So when I came to pick up the meds, they said that Kitty's Triliptal had no refills. It wasn't on the prescription sheet I had (I assume the doctor had called it in earlier so hadn't wanted to put it on the prescriptions). They wouldn't loan me any and I was completely out. Luckily, Bear takes this too so I was able to borrow from his bottle.


They gave me a bottle of Provigil for Bear with only a 3 day supply in it because they didn't have any more on hand. More would be coming soon and they would call me. I was pretty sure I needed more Amantadine, but they insisted that I was mistaken. I guess I need to start writing down what I take in. That would prevent what happened with Kitty's Zoloft last month too. *sigh*


So I went home and checked. I had Provigil coming out my ears and needed Amantadine. I called the pharmacy and we argued for a few minutes. She said she had no idea why they'd filled the Provigil (this has happened before), but she insisted we'd just picked up the Amantadine on the 17th. That sounded familiar, but nonetheless we were out of Amantadine. Finally she realized that when they'd filled the Amantadine on the 17th, they'd only given us a 2 week supply because that was all the p-doc approved until the next office visit. I asked if the prescriptions I just dropped off had Amantadine included. Why yes, it did!


So hopefully I can pick up Bear's Amantadine, Kitty's Seroquel increase, and I'll call in Kitty's Triliptal to the p-doc so he'll fax his approval. Why does this have to be so complicated?!!


The good news is that Bear is very stable and doesn't have to see the p-doc for 6-8 weeks instead of monthly!! The bad news is that Kitty is still not stable - so we won't be removing the last bit of Geodon just yet. We'll increase her Seroquel substantially first before we try removing it. We have a great p-doc who believes what I'm saying (refreshing!!), but I was still glad that he was able to see Kitty being her usual slightly obnoxious self so he knows I'm not just a big whiner.


Kitty wouldn't let me kiss her goodnight last night. She's in full 'don't touch me' mode. *sigh*


Mary

Invisible Moms


The Invisible Mother......
It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I'm on the phone and ask to betaken to the store. Inside I'm thinking, 'Can't you see I'm on the phone?'Obviously, not. No one can see if I'm on the phone, or cooking, or sweepingthe floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.I'm invisible. The invisible Mom.
Some days I am only a pair of hands,nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie this? Can you open this? Some days I'm not a pair of hands; I'm not even a human being. I'm a clock to ask, 'What time is it?' I'm a satellite guide to answer, 'What number is the Disney Channel?' I'm a car to order, 'Right around 5:30, please.'
One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, 'I brought you this.'
It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe. I wasn't exactly sure why she'd given it to me until I read her inscription: 'To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.'
In the days ahead I would read - no, devour - the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals - we have no record of their names.These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.
A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, 'Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.' And the workman replied, 'Because God sees.
I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, 'I see you, Charlotte . I see the sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you've done, no sequin you've sewn on, no cupcake you've baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can't see right now what it will become.'
At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction. But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.The writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.
When I really think about it, I don't want my daughter to tell the friend she's bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, 'My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.' That would mean I'd built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want her to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to her friend, to add, 'you're gonna love it there.'
As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot see if we're doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world bythe sacrifices of invisible women.
Great Job, MOM! Share this with all the Invisible Moms you know...*I just did.
*Hope this encourages you when the going gets tough as it sometimes does. We never know what our finished products will turn out to be because of our perseverance.*
Mary

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New baby


Well Bear and Kitty's mom had her baby. She sent me pictures of the baby and one of the kids' younger sisters. First time she's communicated with me since she told me she was disappointed the baby was going to be another girl because she wanted to give Bear a little brother. I felt like she's been treating me like a foster parent and had gotten sick of it. So I told her that I had given Bear a little brother, and a sister for Kitty to play with. I told her I just wanted her to know that the children had a family who loved them and siblings to play with and they were happy. That was in May.


I showed the pictures to Kitty in therapy tonight. She was interested in the picture of her older sisters and how much the 10 year old looks like her. She commented on how the girls have lost their baby fat and are slim like Kitty now. She thinks the baby has her nose, we talked about whether or not that meant Kitty probably has the same nose that biomom does. There were no pictures of biomom, but you could see someone's hand in one of the baby pictures. Kitty thinks she recognizes biomom's fingernails. We then had an in-depth discussion about fingernails and stinky feet. Therapy's not all therapeutic!


At one point in the conversation, Kitty pointed to each of the girls, including the new baby and said you are going to adopt her, and her, and her. This is so hard to watch.


We also talked about the book that Kitty is reading called "The Stuff Stars are Made Of." This is a library book she got with Grandma. The back gives no clue what the story is about so I can't complain to Mom, but... The book is about a girl and her younger brother who are left with the Grandmother and the Mom just takes off. The grandmother is very old and the girl is basically raising the brother, even enrolls him in school herself. One day the boy doesn't get off the bus, and the girl calls the school pretending to be the mother as usual. The school starts asking questions because the Mother picked up the boy at school for a doctor appointment. At the point in the story where Kitty is, the boy hasn't been home for 3 days. The girl has talked to the biodad who she's never met because he's in jail. When he gets out on patrol (parole, but Kitty has trouble with her reading!), he goes looking for the boy.


Kitty tells the therapist about the book and comments how it is similar to biomom. Biomom often left them in the care of others. She insists that the book is not upsetting her at all. *sigh* I don't know how much to protect them, or even how to protect them both at this point.


Kitty confessed that she sleeps better and gets up fine when she goes to sleep at midnight, which she claims to do often. *heavy sigh*
I sent an e-mail to biomom thanking her for the pictures and asking if the baby is OK since she appears to be in an incubator or something medical. Kitty wants to start sending e-mails to her little sisters. I told her it was OK as long as she understood that I needed to be able to review biomom's e-mails first because in the past she has blamed the kids for their removal from the home. Kitty says she knows now that it is not her fault she was put in foster care and it doesn't matter to her if biomom says it. I'm totally torn. Kitty wants the new baby to know who she is, and she wants to communicate to her sister's more often. Since up until now that means only talking to them when they are with the grandparents (2-3 times a year) she misses them a lot.
I think this therapy session was tougher on me than Kitty. Maybe I should insist on EMDR paddles for me too!
Mary


Monday, September 22, 2008

Amnesty Day


Yesterday I taught my children a new word. Amnesty.


It started with a trip to Wally World with Bear after checking on his removed tattoos (he had them removed on his birthday the day after his adoption day - 7 weeks later they look OK, kind of like a healing burn).


Soon after we entered the store, Bear had to go to the bathroom. So I let him go and stayed in the same general area of the store so he could find me again when he was done. Bear has bathroom issues and can take up to 30 minutes. We have him on stool softeners because many of his meds make him constipated (Sorry about the TMI). When he came back he wanted to go to the electronics department. I wanted to go to the jewelry department right next to it so I let him go on his own. When I came looking for him he was talking to a worker at the cell phone booth. She was telling him all about how the plan allowed parents to adjust how long you could make calls or text. I told him he was not getting a phone, he didn't need one, and it was time to move on. (Soon after we got him we'd given him a cell phone as a present - not knowing any better. He ran up a $450 bill twice in as many months so we took his phone away and I started using it when mine got lost. In June when he was kicked out of Summer school, we also found he had stolen "his" phone back from me.)


A little while later we're in the back of the store and he has to go to the bathroom again. I asked and he said he was having "issues." I said there's a restroom on the back wall, but he said the front restroom was closer and took off (we were 2 aisles away from the back restroom). I waited and waited and he didn't show up. After 20 minutes or so I got suspicious and started to head toward the front of the store. Sure enough, he's walking away from the electronics area, holding his wallet and a brochure. When I confront him, he says he saw his wallet on the ground on his way back from the restroom. Needless to say I don't believe him, but there's not much I can do about it.


A little while later I notice him pulling a small bottle of cologne out of his pocket. I confront him and he says he didn't realize it was in his pocket until just then. I have bought him this type of cologne before so it's possible it is his. I warn him that having things in his pockets like that is asking to be accused of shoplifting. He hits the restroom one more time before we go. I wait near the door and he really is in there for 10 minutes.


Things often go missing around Bear. He "borrows" things and they don't come back, or come back broken (actually Kitty too). Batteries disappear, headphones and sunglasses are his biggest victims - at any one time we have 6 or 7 broken headphones, and 3 or 4 pairs of broken sunglasses in the house. The Granparents were upset because after the kids visited about 3 weeks ago the batteries for the remote control disappeared (all the kids always need batteries for their MP3 players). Last weekend, Poppy loaned Bear a very expensive set of headphones, with the understanding that they wouldn't leave the house. An upset Poppy called us and asked where they were. Bear said he left them on top of the TV. Poppy searched on and around every TV in the house. No headphones. When Bear came to spend the night this weekend, Poppy asked again about the head phones. Bear messed around in his back pack, walked up to one of the TVs, dug around the side of it and came up with the headphones. Poppy knows he looked there.


So I decided that things needed to change. I was tired of the kids walking around with things that didn't belong to them, wearing inappropriate clothing (too tight, too short, sleeveless - many of my kids need to stay out of the sun because their meds make them photosensitive). So I declared an amnesty day.


The children were to take everything out of Grandma's house, and put it in the family room at our house. Then they had to search our house looking for contraband. They needed to bring

1. All money - so I knew who had any and how much.

2. All candy - several of the kids have issues.

3. All food and dishes in the wrong parts of the house.

4. All batteries.

5. All electronics, broken or not. All headphones too.

6. All clothes and shoes that no longer fit or were considered inappropriate.

7. All movies upstairs or in rooms other than the family room.

8. All CDs


The kids were told that they would not get in trouble for anything brought to the Amnesty meeting. I then sorted through the stuff, throwing away the broken stuff. Sorted the clothes, tossing the overly stained and putting in Goodwill piles everything else. Labeled any electronics and CDs as to who they belonged to. We talked a little bit about what was appropriate to wear outside of your bedroom and I reminded them that they had robes and were expected to wear them! I'm tired of seeing bellies and bra straps.


Without an explanation I asked Bear to bring me his backpacks. I emptied them and gave him a see through mesh bag. He complained that it was not big enough. Today I found a clear plastic backpack that I will give him. I also need to remind everyone that there will be no more borrowing.


I will probably do room searches tonight. It is time to tighten up the reins a little. I've been letting things slide and that's not good for the kids. It's not FAIR that one child can break and steal everyone else's things and not be held accountable. Hubby hates being the warden, but I think this is what the children need right now. It's like childproofing your house. We're doing it to keep them safe. That and I'm tired of constantly being the clothing police. They can't wear it if they don't own it!


Mary

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Bob's Media Report


Why parents should make sure their kids are listening to appropriate media!

Videos and TV

Watching too much violence in Cartoons make a child more likely to be aggressive, care less about seeing other people get hurt, and can make them think the world is a scarier place.
· 61%of TV shows are violent
· 40% of violent scenes on TV include humor
· 54% of the violence is lethal
· 51% of TV violence shows no pain

The number of hours the average child spends in front of the TV by the time they finish high school, if they watch only three hours a day, is 18,000 hours. Compare this to the 13,000 hours they spend in the classroom. Fourteen to sixteen year olds who watch one to three hours of television a day are 60% more likely to be involved in assaults and fights as adults then those who watch less TV.
Watching a lot of TV like our family, you see a lot of commercial s for junk food and stuff. You sit there shoving food down your throat, so you become a ’’couch- potato. ‘’ you could choose to play outside, using your imagination, playing with friends, or enjoying a bike ride around the neighborhood instead of sitting on your lazy butt on the couch and watching cartoon reruns.
TV shows make sex, smoking, drinking, and violence look glamorous. Kids prefer real life shows but they usually don’t understand the plot and the violence scares them (children8-12 are most frightened by realistic violence).This fear and its effects can last until they’re adults. TV in kid’s rooms is linked with difficulty with sleeping and nightmares. Children under the age of 2 should not watch TV at all or even have it playing in the background.

Gender Identity

Gender identity begins in toddler ages. A pre-teen becomes aware of what society’s standards are for the ‘’ideal body.’’ Children learn what people think they should be like. Girls are taught to be focused on makeup and boys, instead of being adventuresome. On TV they are shown in typical female or unpaid jobs. “How they look” is more important than “What they do.”
Body image
Out of girls 9 and 10 years old, 40% of these girls have tried to lose weight. The amount of time an adolescent watches soap operas, movies and music video is associated with their degree of body dissatisfaction and desire to be thin. At the age thirteen, 53% of American girls are ‘’unhappy with their bodies.’’ This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen.
Video games

The thing about video games is the violence, often trying to get you to kill people and you get rewarded if you do, or breaking laws by speeding and driving recklessly. Video games are more realistic and scary then TV. Video games get you to practice hurting and killing people over and over again. Watching others play games leads to greater aggressive feelings and behaviors (maybe because you are frustrated because you can’t do anything).
Language
Kids imitate the tough and bad languages they hear on TV. They are not learning to use complicated thoughts and their imagination. Texting has all but destroyed spelling and grammar.
Music Videos

The lyrics use bad language and bad messages. Although kids don’t always listen to the lyrics to their favorite songs, the people singing the song and dancing have a greater impact because they’re impossible to ignore. They also dress really inappropriately. So if you like certain songs, you think that you should dress like that because you want to look like your favorite singer.
Your brain holds a special place for music (think how many songs you can memorize compared to speeches). It affects your behavior and mood in powerful ways.
Positive effects
While most kids imitate aggressive behavior learned from watching hours and hours of media, it is good to know that children are more likely to copy positive behavior - 87% of kids mimic positive behavior. So when parents limit TV time, and give kids appropriate media (Music, videos, books …etc.), they are doing this because they love their kids and want to help them.





The end

Saturday, September 20, 2008

5 fun facts

What are 5 things on your to-do list for today?
Well, I’m gonna do it for tomorrow since, today is almost done…
1. Take Bear to the tattoo removal clinic to check how it’s healing.
2. Do the weekly shopping – Sam’s Club for food and milk, HEB for all the stuff Sam’s doesn’t have and prescriptions, Salvation Army for clothes for my growing kids, the mall to drop off my watch for repair and a book store if I have any money left. Hubby isn’t teaching scuba this weekend so I don’t have to take all four kids!!
3. Take the kids to Grandma’s for the night and spend some time with Hubby.
4. Reupholster my office chair.
5. Check my e-mail, read my favorite forums, message boards and blogs.

What are 5 snacks do you enjoy?
1. Chocolate covered strawberries, or strawberries with brownies (ate today!), or strawberries with chocolate chips.
2. Chocolate Chip Cherry Bread
3. Brownie banana sundae
4. Popcorn and chocolate chips
5. Peanut Butter and Banana sandwich

What are 5 things you would do if you were a billionaire?
1. Get all the repairs for the house done.
2. Set aside money for my children’s college.
3. Pay off all our debts.
4. Go on a trip to Nebraska to visit family.
5. Go on a trip to Hawaii so Kitty can see the ocean and a beach!

What are 5 of your bad habits?
1. Staying up too late.
2. Spending too much time on the computer.
3. Playing solitaire at work when I’m overstessed or overwhelmed.
4. Talking about my personal life too much.
5. See what 5 things I snack on!

Where are 5 places you have lived?
1. In Texas -.
2. Italy when I was 4
3. Born in Virginia
4 Ohio and Massachusetts
5. Las Vegas, Nevada. Omaha, Nebraska. Probably more.

What are 5 jobs that you’ve had?
1. Black Jack Dealer
2. Bouncer
3. Retail sales (clothing)
4. Seamstress
5. Social Worker

5 People I want to tag… (not sure what this is!)
1. Denise
2. Lisa
3. CJ
4. Torina
5. Anyone else who may want to jump in!!!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

Veggie no more!

I'd be more excited about Kitty giving up vegetarianism if I hadn't just bought a bunch of expensive tofu and meat substitutes. Tuesday night we had a family favorite - Poppyseed Chicken. It's super easy to make and the kids love it. Kitty got Poppyseed Tofu and thought it nasty.



Poppy Seed Chicken


4-6 chicken breasts boiled and chopped into bitesized pieces.

2 cans of Cream of Chicken soup (I use Healthy Request or the low fat kind)
1 4 oz container Sour Cream (I use fat free or fat free yogurt works too)
1 TBS Poppy seeds

I stick melted butter or enough milk to moisten crackers
1 tube Ritz crackers (I use whole grain or low fat)

Heat oven to 350. Mix chicken, soup, sour cream and poppy seeds in casserole dish. In a bowl, mix butter or milk with crushed Ritz crackers. Spread cracker crumbs over the top of the casserole. Bake about 45 minutes or until bubbly and crackers are lightly browned.

Poppy Seed Tofu

Substitute Cream of mushroom soup for the Cream of Chicken. Substitute extra firm tofu for the chicken.

This is apparently inedible. So save it for tomorrow's meal - Beef Stroganoff.


Beef Stroganoff

Mix ground beef, sour cream or yogurt and Cream of Mushroom soup. Serve with noodles - watch it all disappear.

Fake Meat Stroganoff - so nasty it makes vegetarians convert!

Scrape the cracker crumbs off the top of the Poppyseed Tofu and throw away. Carefully remove as much of the tofu as you can from the remaining goo. Rinse the tofu for another meal. Add vegetarian ground beef to the Cream of Mushroom yogurt mixture and heat. Serve over noodles. Watch your vegetarian child take one bite, throw it all away and serve herself the Beef Stroganoff.

Chicken Tofu Stir Fry

Take leftover tofu from Poppy Seed Tofu, add to cubed chicken breasts. In a skillet cook the chicken and tofu with soy sauce and garlic powder until chicken is fully cooked. In a small cup mix cornstarch and orange-flavored sugar-free drink mix (because 2 family members are allergic to oranges) - add to skillet. Add one can cranberry sauce and mix well. Add leftover veggies and stir fry veggies. Simmer until rice is done. Serve with rice (because kids won't allow you to serve it over rice). Be shocked and amazed that no one comments on the tofu (not even you notice it). Maybe you will be able to mix the fake meat in with the rest and get rid of it that way!

Yea! I don't have to worry about Kitty being a vegetarian anymore. Now all I have to deal with are the meltdowns caused by recent changes in her meds. We're removing Geodon and adding Seroquel. The Seroquel is not at a high enough dose yet apparently.

Chef Mary

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I hate my life!


Ok, never thought I'd hear HUBBY say those words. I hear them a lot from the littles of course. I know he's been overwhelmed, but this morning was the last straw for him.
Yesterday we had yet another staff meeting reminding the staff that they need to be recording their time on the time sheets. We don't have a lot of work right now, and everytime they don't enter hours, we probably don't get paid for that. We have enough work for 7-8 people, we employ 10. We are so close to going under. We should have let 2 people go yesterday, but we keep putting it off. We have such a good team. When the work starts again, then we'll need every one of them. We've had lots of client meetings, but so far, not enough people signing contracts. *sigh*
A couple of months ago we were leaving work for an important meeting. At the end of the alley is a sidewalk about 10-15 feet back from the street and visibly blocked by tons of plants and a building. Hubby had started slowing so that we could turn out of the alley when out of nowhere a bicyclist on the sidewalk popped out in front of us. We hit her with the car! The downtown neighborhood where our office is is comprised primarily of lawyers so 911 was called immediately (we called too). Because the woman was not wearing a helmet she was taken away in an ambulance. She appeared to have just some bruises and small cuts. There was no damage to her bike or the car.

So this morning we get a citation delivered by a police officer. She's suing us for her continued pain, inability to work or attend school, and possible life long injury. *sigh* It sounds like the insurance will take care of it though. Still, one more thing to deal with. Also found out that our insurance was cancelled mid-August due to non-payment. This is covered because it happened last June, but we are still uninsured drivers.
I got a call from Nebraska this morning saying they would not pay for Bear's medications because his adoption was final months ago and he should have TX Medicaid. I told her we still have not received his birth certificate from Indiana, so can't get him a new Social Security card, so can't get him a TX Medicaid card. His adoption was finalized in July. His sister didn't get her new birth certificate until July and her adoption was in March!
After thinking about this for a bit I went and looked through the stacks and stacks of unpaid bills and found his TX Medicaid card! One more thing to do today.
So much stuff that's been falling by the wayside, the rotting second story deck my children play under, the carpenter ants that have been living in the kitchen ceiling for years and treatments have no effect, my thyroid surgery that I can't get because we don't have the $1K deductible, the 40lbs I need to lose that is probably caused by my meds, the repairs to the roof and windows that we haven't had time to fix because we're too busy fighting fires, the creditors just keep calling and calling and calling.

Hubby said a few weeks ago that he thinks this is God's way of trying to get him to take anti-depressants.
Sorry about the whining.
Mary

Monday, September 15, 2008

Vegetarianism

Kitty recently decided she's going vegetarian. She was upset by the number of leather shoes while we were shoe shopping for Bob (women's size 12 wide!). Kitty decided that she didn't want to eat animals anymore. She only going to eat fish and crustaceans. I haven't totally decided quite how to handle it yet. Truthfully Kitty and I are the only ones who like tuna, so I made us a separate dinner the other day. I've been debating whether or not to ignore it or help her with it.

Tonight I bought some meat substitutes, including tofu, and decided to go ahead and make separate meals for her. Since going back on her regular "school-dose" of Concerta, she's already started the eating slowdown and has lost a pound. She's got a wee bit of a tummy so I figure we have a little wiggle room here, but I want to make sure she continues to eat. I expected her not to like it, but sloppy joes made with veggie burger was a hit.

Should be interesting to see if she decides to stick with it.

Mary

You are what you eat, and I like meat!

Writing assignments

I wanted to address my friend Denise's comments here. I don't think she'll mind.

"I am SO-O-O-O glad I'm not your kid! All that reading and writing as punishment. How do ADHD kids manage that? I'd think having them run about 15 laps around the block would do it..."

Kitty is one of my ADHD kids. She takes meds for it, and usually gets her assignments done in the morning while she's "fresh." She's still being homeschooled so this is possible. Her book was written on about a 2nd or 3rd grade level. I had Bob read her article out loud to Kitty and Ponito(gave Bob a chance to make any corrections too). Kitty learns better when she hears things, so this helps. Kitty turned in her assignment tonight. It is so full of spelling and grammatical errors that I had to have her read it aloud, but she was proud of it. I don't know how much she "got it," but she is at least getting reinforcement on the right way to do things.

I used to think that reading and writing assignments would cause my kids to hate reading and writing, but I've found it hasn't worked that way. I try very hard to keep assignments on an appropriate level that keeps them learning without being frustrated. All the kids benefit from the practice writing. They are learning other skills too (summarizing, research, expressing their feelings, restitution, that their actions have consequences...)

Ponito's assignment is a little longer, but this is not his first offense and he is VERY bright. I try to keep the assignments appropriate to the abilities of the child. They usually don't take more than an hour or two at most for the child to complete - unless the child has been repeatedly getting in the FAIR Club, then the child's assignments get tougher.

Ponito's assignment may end up being too long for him, but technically he's on restriction since he acted out while already in the FAIR Club. He reads on a much higher level so it's probably fine. I will make adjustments mid-assignment if I see a child floundering. If you've read my articles on the FAIR Club (http://www.ehow.com/how_2172871_discipline-difficult-child-awithout-spanking.html ), the writing assignment section mentions one of the times when the whole assignment was a total bomb and had to be rewritten.

FAIR Club assignments are designed to be as close to logical consequences as possible. I want it to help them learn, and develop skills they need in the future. They need to understand that their actions have consequences, and learn to make better choices. Not doing something so they won't be punished, keeps them from doing it now (hopefully), but not when there's no one watching. Some of my kids need LOTS of help learning to behave - even when they know they wouldn't get caught. I also try to mix up the punishments. I don't want the child to decide to "do the crime," because they've decided it's worth "doing the time."

Running 15 laps, to me, is a punishment not a consequence. I don't believe in punishing my kids, I don't think they learn anything from it - except that adults get to do mean things to kids because they are bigger. That's another reason we don't spank. I want my kids to understand their consequences are because of their actions, not because I'm a mean mommy.

There are logical reasons behind the extra chores as well. Kitty had to clean my office, because I had to take time away from my work to deal with her meltdowns. She can't help me with my work, but she can "make up" some of this "lost" time by doing my chores. It is also a form of restitution. By doing something for me and helping me she's making up to me for being so nasty. She's learning there are consequences to her actions AND if you hurt someone you should try to make it better.

Ponito cleaning up the poop in the backyard was a particularly yucky task, but it is actually something that he benefits from more than anyone else (and I knew Grandma and probably big brother would help him). Ponito has complained several times that it is impossible to play in the backyard without stepping in dog poo. Now the dogs will probably poo in the spot he designated (dogs are like that) and he can go back to playing in the backyard. Plus, maybe it will make him think again before he uses a potty mouth. It really bothers me that he's been cussing at the other children behind my back. I'd been thinking Kitty was exaggerating because Hubby, Grandma and I'd never heard him do it.

Anyway, that's why I assigned what I did. Kitty is done and out of the FAIR Club. Ponito has finished his chore, but has not finished his writing assignment (he didn't even find the book until 10 minutes before bed). He was having too much fun playing pool with Hubby and Bear anyway. That's the nice thing about the FAIR Club, they can do it at their own pace. They can stay in the FAIR Club forever if they want to (they never do!), or rush and get their assignments done.

So if you're saying "That's not FAIR!" - you're right!

Mary

Writing Assignments


I hate coming up with writing assignments. It's hard for me so I generally put it off. This isn't a bad thing because it means the kids are in the FAIR Club longer and have more time to reflect on what they did wrong, and calm down enough to cope with the consequences of their actions.


Here's the writing assignments I came up with for Ponito and Kitty. Kitty is 13, but developmentally behind so she can't handle as much as Ponito and Bob. This is the longest assignment I've given Ponito, but I think he can handle it, and he needs to understand his behavior was unacceptable. I gave a similar assignment to Bob when she was only one year older than Ponito.


Kitty - for telling Grandma NO about cleaning her room, for yelling at Ponito when he didn’t want her to play Playstation, and then calling Mom at work and cussing at her when Mom said she needed to listen to Grandma.
Extra Chore: Help clean Mom’s work.
Writing Assignment: _ Read the book, “Handling your Disagreement,” and reread Bob’s article. Write a one page paper about why you acted the way you did with Mom, Grandma and Ponito. How did you feel inside while you were arguing? How you should have handled it differently? Write a letter of apology to Grandma, Mom and Ponito. Should you write one to anyone else?

Ponito -for going to a friend's house without telling anyone. While in the FAIR club - for threatening to kill himself, cussing and fighting with Mom in a store so that he had to be restrained.
Extra Chore: Because you had a potty mouth, you will scoop poop in the backyard and bury it in a hole in the spot where you want the dogs to poop. Use plastic bags on your hands to keep them clean.
Writing Assignment: _ Read the book How to Take the Grrr out of Anger. (It’s not that long and has lots of pictures!). Write why you think you acted the way you did. Then write 3 things you could have done to help tame your anger. Redesign the pledge on page 98 to be specifically for you. Make it look nice enough to frame. List at least 10 things that you have been upset/ mad/ sad about that you want to talk to Mom and/or Dad about. Set up a time to talk to Mom and/or Dad about your lists.


Wish me luck!

Mary

Broken

So on Saturday as we're leaving Sam's Club (a big warehouse store where everything comes in bulk), Ponito was in the cart, Kitty was pushing. Bear said, "Race you to the car!" and Kitty took off running - pushing the cart. (Side note: Why is the parking lot always sloped upward when you leave the store?!)


Smash!


Kitty ran into the rear passenger fender of our car (at least it wasn't someone else's!). Cracks on the fender and big pieces knocked out of the tail light. *sigh* Kitty immediately collapsed on the ground almost in tears, absolutely sure I was going to be furious. I calmly reassured her that it was just an accident, helped her up off the ground, and said next time to be more careful. Since I didn't have the reaction she expected, she was convinced that Hubby would yell at her and be furious. I told her I was pretty sure Hubby would know it was an accident too and therefore wouldn't yell at her either. Hubby had the same reaction I did. (I knew I picked the right guy!).
Mary

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Long week!

Whoo boy! It has been such a long week. Bob finally finished her article with some help. I'll post a copy of it on here. It turned out pretty well I think. I had her read it out load to Kitty and Ponito.

Last night I reread one of the books Bob told me she'd "borrowed" from my bathroom. It was pretty explicit. Tonight at bedtime I sat her down to talk about it. She pretty much said that stuff was "yuck!," and refused to talk about it. She also says she skipped all the "yucky" parts. We talked a little more about puberty and boys, and I think she's honestly still pretty immature. Thank God! Still my baby is growing up! We measured her today and she's grown 3/4" That puts her at almost 5'8" - half an inch taller than me. *sigh*

Yesterday I got to experience something new! My baby, Ponito, had his first major public meltdown. One of the hardest things about adopting special needs kids is exposing the younger kids to their issues. Ponito has discovered some advantages to being the baby, but yesterday was in a cruddy mood and was not interested in one of the not so great parts - sitting in the middle seat. I drive a little Mazda Protege and the 3 older kids rotate who sits in the front seat, but Ponito always has to sit in the middle of the back seat. Bear is incapable of sitting with his knees less than 8 inches apart and his broad shoulders and long legs, combined with either of my not so petite girls (Kitty is 5'3 1/2 inches now - having grown almost an inch since her birthday in April) make things super cramped in the back seat.

Ponito started mouthing off about how he hates his life and he's going to kill himself (yes, he's heard my older kids say this many times - although finally not so often now). In our house, as he knows from recent experience, this means you have to stay within 5 feet of a parent - to keep you safe. Wish I could have gone home at this point, but Hubby was teaching scuba diving, and we had to go shopping or starve! The girls are hopefully going to be starting school so we needed to supplement their wardrobes (they'd outgrown last year's uniforms). Our next stop was Salvation Army.

It started out OK. Ponito was confined to the cart, but it had a small toy plane left in it that I generously said he could keep (I know the people who work there and they are pretty familiar with our financial situation and practically give us clothes and things). We'd been there awhile when he got bored and started playing in the clothes and wandering off. When I redirected him he started hitting the clothes. I figured it wouldn't hurt anything so I ignored it. Then a couple of items fell to the floor. I told him to put them on the hanger and he got mouthy and refused.



Normally Ponito is a big sweetie, unless he's hungry, sick or tired. I looked through all my pictures trying to find one of him where he wasn't looking sweet and happy. This was the closest I could get. We took dozens of these pictures that night. Afterwards we went to the Urgent Care center and found out he had a temp of 104 and Strep. ALL the other pictures that night he's smiling.
I didn't know it at the time, but he'd gotten up VERY early, had snacked a little too much so hadn't eaten lunch, and I found out the next day that he had a slight stomach bug! Still, he was running from me in the store and refusing to do what I told him. I abandoned my cart and sat on a couch in the middle of the store - trying to get him to calm down. He started cussing at me (real cuss words, not No No words). I tried to hold him and get him to calm down. I ended up doing a full restraint on him for almost 10 minutes. SO embarrassing. I finally carried him out to the car and sat with him fighting me and sobbing his heart out at the same time (I sat holding him trying to slow my heart rate back down - almost no air conditioning in the store and none in my car -in Texas!). Ponito is tiny compared to my other kids, but he's still almost 10 - and I'm 38 and out of shape.

After he FINALLY calmed down, we went on with our day o' fun! OK, we finished the shopping. Got home to find out Hubby had the same stomach bug and was miserable. Add that to him not sleeping because of the stress of our financial situation and he's a mess too.

So only Bear is not in the FAIR Club (actually Bob got out tonight) and I still have no idea what to give Kitty and Ponito for FAIR Club assignments. Kitty was disrespectful to Grandma and swore at me. Ponito went to a friend's house without telling anyone, and then pulled his fit in the store.

Any suggestions on writing or reading assignments?

Mary

Thursday, September 11, 2008

How media effects our children


So I spent almost 3 hours last night researching the effects of media (books, movies, TV, music) on children. I cut and pasted a ton of it (20 pages of 12 point type) into one document (no footnotes or even researchers names for most of it - just info). I found research on how violent TV is, how violent media effects kids (scares them, makes them aggressive, makes them think the whole world is like that, makes them care less about people getting hurt), how too much TV effects kids (makes them fat and violent), and how media effects girl's body image (makes them think they are fat and that girls should be interested in fashion and boys and not activities).


Bob's assignment was to read the research and write an article for her private school's newsletter about why parents should "censor" the media their children are exposed to. She also had to write a 1 page paper on how the stuff she's been exposed to has effected her life. She's only done the 1 page paper so far, and I'm not happy with it. She also has the task of dusting all bookshelves in the house, cleaning them all, and moving all inappropriate items to my room. I LOVE books and we have TONS of bookshelves so this is not an easy task.

Bob's Media Report


I still don't know what to give Kitty for a FAIR Club assignment. I'm thinking that Bob's article might be at a level where Kitty can read and understand it. If so, then maybe I'll have Kitty read it and write a paper on how media has effected her life. Kitty was allowed to watch horror movies in preschool (The Ring, The Grudge, and her absolute favorite, The Scream). She gets obsessed with movies.


Open to suggestions! Kitty's extra chore was cleaning at my work (since I missed a lot of work time to deal with her issues, and she can't do my actual work, she can save me some of the other work I should be doing there - cleaning!)
Mary

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Revelations

So I got a call from Grandma yesterday afternoon. Kitty was refusing to put a toy in her room away on a shelf. Kitty insisted that no one had a right to tell her where to put her stuff in her room. Once she got on the phone with me the meltdown started. She was mad at Grandma for telling her what to do. She hated Ponito because he cussed at her and told her she couldn't play Playstation even though he wasn't using it because he wasn't done with his chores. She hated Bob, because Bob had stolen her CD and was lying about it being Kitty's - again. She hated me because I always took Grandma's side and I "NEVER LISTEN!!!!" She swore at me when I tried to help her calm down, and tried to work with her on how to handle her complaints - and said there was no way she was going to do it. She brought in everything but the kitchen sink (that may have been in there when we hit on chores). She ranted and threatened for 30 minutes. I sat in my 'nowhere-near-soundproof' office and tried to calm her down. As soon as I hung up the phone, Hubby and I walked out of the door heading home. Kitty needs me there to keep her safe when she's like this. Of course she'd calmed down during our conversations, so she saw no reason for us to have come home early. And of course no idea why she was in the FAIR Club. (See my link on the sidebar as to what the FAIR Club is).



So I went to the grocery store with Grandma, leaving Hubby home with the kids, and pumped Grandma for information. She confirmed that she and Kitty had an altercation about where things should go in Kitty's room - and thanked me for backing her up. She denied that Ponito is cussing, although she said he is using similar words, like frigging, which are still "No No" words in our house.

Grandma then started talking about her and Poppy helping us get out of the debt pit that we are in and wanting to know exactly how much we owe and to who. I had to admit that I don't really know. I figure it doesn't do me any good to worry about it, when Hubby is going to do all the worrying for me. After all, that's why I take an anti-depressant and an anti-anxiety med! Grandma wants me to talk Hubby into taking anti-depressants. I've agreed with her for years, but Hubby is very anti-meds for himself. Not much I can do. Hubby wants them to only loan him the bare minimum we might need, because he is very proud and hates to owe more than he has to. Grandma wants to loan us one big lump sum so we're not living hand to mouth and dealing with debt collectors. She worries what would happen if something happens to Hubby. The house is in disrepair and we couldn't sell it now if we wanted to. The second story deck was never finished and was done incorrectly (the wood was not treated wood!) - it is now literally sagging and falling apart. I worry everytime the children walk under it.



After we got home I called a family meeting. We talked about the fact that I've been letting stuff slide lately and I was giving them a heads up that that was going to change. Last year I decided that nothing but Christian music was allowed in the house. So I gave them mp3 players for Christmas filled with "appropriate music" - Christian rap for Bear, Christian Country for Kitty and Christian rock for everyone. I was sick of hearing Bear's 2Pac music coming out of the radio, and Kitty and Bob singing Carrie Underwood's Before He Cheats - not the best for my vengeful little one to be listening to. Here's the refrain.



That I dug my key into the side of his Pretty little souped up four wheel drive

Carved my name into his leather seat

I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights

Slashed a hole in all four tires

Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats



We talked about the fact that a lot of stuff is going missing. That cussing or using "No No" word equivalents was unacceptable. We talked about some movies that had snuck into the acceptable family videos (Kindergarten Cop being one). Basically Kitty's little vindictive heart was happy because "EVERYbody" got in trouble. Then Kitty and I left for therapy.



At therapy I decided I was tired of letting the therapist "lead" Kitty -and letting Kitty avoid talking about anything from her past, and focusing on Kitty's whines about current stuff. I'd already heard enough current stuff today. (Did I mention that I realized I didn't take my meds all day yesterday? I was a little cranky).



So in therapy, I asked the therapist to give Kitty the EMDR paddles, and I dug in. We've been talking in the car about biomom, past abuse, sexual abuse, all sorts of lovely topics that were never discussed in front of a therapist! So I started getting her to talk about it in therapy. When she wandered off to discuss why I wouldn't give her something or on a tangent about old friends, I not so gently reined her back in. We discussed pretty much everything, but the day that biomom put Kitty in foster care - because Kitty said she didn't remember it (yet she was reciting with perfect detail things that happened to her when she was 4!), and we ran out of time.

Kitty was perfectly calm on the way home. Maybe this EMDR stuff really works! We decided that the reason she had such a hard day was because she "might" have dropped one of her important meds (not the vitamins or fish oil) and not bothered to look for it. She was going to see the psychiatrist the next night so we'll discuss that with him. I don't think she should be so close to the edge that if she misses one dose she is completely derailed like this.

Kitty on her adoption day! Doesn't she look thrilled?!







So the next morning I figured I'd collect all the "inappropriate" CDs that Bob had "accumulated" before she had a chance to think to hide them. Walked into her room just as she was waking up. She handed me the 3 inch stack (my children are apparently incapable of keeping CDs and DVDs in cases!)! While waiting for her to go through them and pull out the few appropriate CDs I of course glanced around her room and noticed one of my romance novels next to her bed. One called Sex, Lies, and Vampires, by one of my favorite authors. She writes the funniest stories, but they do tend to have raunchy sex. I was horrified!
Bob's weekly chore is to clean my bathroom (which is often used by the kids ever since Bear "accidentally" tore off the soap dish rendering the shower part of their bathroom inoperable - plus their bathroom "always" stinks). She had apparently decided to take this book when she had nothing to read one day. I fussed at her because there are plenty of appropriate sci-fi books in there that she does have permission to read. She said it was "just an adventure story." We sat down and talked about how 12 year old girls might not understand parts of adult books and think that is what real life is like. I told her that if she really wanted to read romance novels I would not be happy, but I did have some that were more appropriate. I read a series called Inspirational Living which are Christian romances. I am a voracious reader can you tell? That's when I found out she's been reading my romance novels for awhile now. This was not her first offense. *sigh* Now I have to come up with a FAIR Club assignment for her too.
This has just not been my day. Took Kitty to work with us to give Grandma (and Kitty) a break. Kitty's psychiatrist appointment is downtown near where we work so we could go straight there instead of having to drive 45 minutes to pick her up and then 45 minutes back downtown. Hubby just asked me what time we needed to leave for the appointment. I told him he hadn't sent me the time, but I assumed it was 5:15 or 5:30 as usual. NOPE! 3:45pm. It is 4:35pm. Called the psychiatrist's office and they apparently closed early today. Now Bear doesn't have his prescription we needed to pick up, and Kitty didn't get her med changes she obviously needed. Can I go back to bed?!
Mary


Monday, September 8, 2008

Getting our kids home. (How we got our kids Part 3)




Look at these gorgeous kids! How could we not bring them into our home as our new children?! What few behavior issues we saw seemed easily handled. The caseworker and the therapist seemed totally comfortable letting Bear watch the kids play outside while the adults talked in the restaurant. -Now I avoid putting Bear and all the other kids in any role that seems "parentified," but back then we assumed he was just as mature and responsible as our Nephew Alan (who really was 16, unlike Bear who just looked that way). We now realize how badly Alan set us up! He in no way prepared us for Bear. We assumed all teenage boys were responsible, mature and trustworthy like he is and like Hubby was as a teenager. Since Bear was so big for his age (just like Bob) we easily slipped into the habit of treating him like he was older. NOW we know that due to his abuse, his length of time in foster care, his mental illness... he was developmentally and emotionally an infant. Oops! Foreshadowing here!



The girls were instant best friends! They seemed to be interested in the same things (playing dolls, watching movies, we went to a Carnival during our visit and the girls were attached at the hip). Bob was a little immature and so was Kitty. We felt like they were twins and maybe the fact that they'd be in the same grade would work out fine. Didn't last of course, but it was a lovely dream!




Ponito enjoyed having a big brother who could carry him around, just like his cousin Alan. Bear had many little sisters, but never a little brother. I think he enjoyed having a little brother to play with - still does. Hubby is not a big sports fan (except the Huskers!) and not a big outdoorsman. Ponito liked playing ball with the neighborhood boys and now he had a built in playmate.




So we told Nebraska that we wanted the kids and then settled in to wait for the ICPC (which is the group that makes sure that both state's adoption laws are met - Ts crossed and Is dotted). We were told that we would not be allowed to tell the children that we wanted to adopt them until the ICPC was done. We were allowed to call them weekly and chat with them - yea, that's not awkward! Calling a child and not being able to tell them you want to be their parent, but expecting them to talk to you every week. Especially since Kitty kept asking if we were going to adopt her! We finally told them that we WANTED to adopt them, and we were hoping we would be able to. Meanwhile, the months are ticking by...




I decide to make a Halloween costume for Kitty. I was going to make a matching one for Bob, but we realized there was no way the girls would be together for Halloween and quite frankly I ran out of time! Kitty wanted a Tinkerbell costume so that's what she got! I wish someone had taken a picture of her and sent it to me. *sigh* I bet she looked cute!




Because of the distance between Nebraska and Texas and the difficulties with traveling with two children (and quite frankly Kitty's raging ADHD made me seriously not want to spend a lot of time in a car with her!), we had decided with the caseworker that we would not plan another visit. The next time we saw the children it would be when they were placed with us for adoption. Crazy I know! I started asking the children how they would like their rooms decorated (if they came to live with us). I had to do something to pass the time! Bear told me he wanted his room done in pink camoflauge!! Yes, that kept me busy! Do you know how hard it is to find pink camo?!! We finally compromised with red camo. Couldn't find it in any fabric stores so I bought several X-large t-shirts from E-bay and cut them up to make pillows.




As the months crept by though, we finally decided to arrange another visit. The kids were getting antsy and acting out. The wait was making us all crazy. The caseworker was going to fly down with the kids for the weekend. Just before we got this arranged, we got notice that the ICPC was finally done and the kids were ours!




On November 4th Hubby and I flew to Nebraska. We got a rental car and drove to the small town where Bear was staying. Kitty was driven in. We picked up the kids, signed tons of paperwork, and drove back to a hotel near the airport. The next day, we loaded up the kids and their 2 suitcases each and took them to the airport. It was their first time on an airplane.




Poor Bear lost all of his fancy cologne he was carrying in his carry-on bag because of the laws about bottles of liquid. In loading the rental car, I accidentally dropped a water globe that had been given to Kitty by biomom. Other than that the trip was relatively uneventful. Kitty was excited about everything!




We had a layover in Colorado so we had told my Dad and Stepmom to meet us there. They got to meet their new grandchildren, and spend 3 hours in the shops in the airport! Guess how well that went over! We were all bored and whiny, but no major outbursts - gotta love honeymoon periods!! Too bad they don't last!




We got home to find that Bob had continued to refuse to pick up her room to make room for Kitty (they were going to be sharing). Kitty suggested a trade. Bob would clean the room and then she and Kitty would play a game that Bob wanted to play. Kitty was so proud of herself for "tricking" Bob into cleaning the room and then not following through on the game as promised. She just didn't understand what that did to her relationship with Bob.
Anyway, that's how it all started. Then the honeymoon ended and the real fun began.
But that's a story for another day.
Mary

In case you missed it:

Part 1: How We Found Our Kids
Part 2: How We Found Our Kids

How we found our kids - Part 2

So there we were with our new license. I immediately hit the Tx website, but truthfully, none of the children seemed like a match. The agency called us with potential matches a couple of times, but it was usually groups of 3, ages 1, 3, and 5. Or some similar combination of 2 children not old enough to go to school yet. At the time I had been working for a very expensive private preschool for over 3 years, and as such got one free tuition (assuming there was a space), but tuition was around $800-900 a month. There was no way we could afford to have 2 children in the school, and with my crazy, constantly rotating schedule (6:30am to 4:30pm one week, the next 8:30am to 6:30pm, and the third, 9:30am to 8pm and then it started over again) - there was no other childcare center we could use. We couldn't afford for me to quit my job, as Hubby had only been working for a few months at that point and we needed my income.



I started looking at other websites including individual state listings, adoptUSkids.org, CAP (Children Awaiting Parents), etc. Nebraska's website was especially interesting to me because Hubby's family is from there so we would be able to visit often. I also looked at Colorado where my dad lives. The NE site was set up very strangely. It listed kids by their first name, divided only by whether or not they were boys or girls. You had to click on a name to find out how old the child was and whether or not they were part of a sibling group. When I clicked on Bear's name I saw a picture of him and his sister. I remember thinking the girl would be about the right age, but the boy was obviously the same age as our nephew (16 at the time). I found them interesting, but they were not the right ages.


I kept looking. Then Kitty and Bear showed up on AdoptUSkids.org. And it said that Bear was 12 years old! This site was notorious for getting genders mixed up, so I wrote to them and told them, "Hey, you've obviously made a mistake with this kids age!" They wrote back and said, nope, he turns 13 later this month that's why it says he's only 12. When I was printing off profiles we were interested in, I printed off this one too, more to show the caseworker what a big mistake had been made!





Our agency went through multiple staff changes. We were told to we could request up to 6 sibling groups for homestudies to be sent out on (sending out a homestudy is like sending a resume for a job you're interested in). I brought in my whole stack in order from the ones we were most interested in, to ones I had question on, and of course, at the bottom of the stack, Kitty and Bear. Yet another staff change, and they said, hey just give them all to us and we'll send out homestudies on all of them. You guessed it, Kitty and Bear included.


This was definitely God's plan for us. There were too many coincidences - D and Z available until the last second, putting Kitty and Bear's information in the stack when they were so obviously wrong for us...


Long story short, (OK, I know it's too late for that!) after realizing that Kitty and Bear were included in the stack, I sent an e-mail to their worker, giving her a few more reasons why we might be good choices (Hubby's Native American background - like Kitty and Bear, and how we visit family in Nebraska at least once a year). You guessed it, they were the only siblings we were matched with! Most of the others didn't even bother to respond. We were second choice for Kitty and Bear.


The first family decided that Kitty and Bear weren't a good match, so in August we were contacted and they sent the children's de-identified records (everything the state knows about the history of the child - with all of the identifying info like last names and cities, blacked out. Of course they didn't do a great job, so we knew the kids real last names.) I read the files and started saying, "NO! NO! NO! I don't want these kids anywhere near my biokids!" Their behaviors were pretty scary, and I didn't think I could keep my kids safe.


Hubby surprised me by insisting that we at least talk to the foster parents. He said that the records were like resumes and you can't tell what a person is really like by what was written on paper. I was convinced he was dead wrong, but I agreed to talk to the kids' foster parents (they were living in different foster home). The foster parents said that while the kids weren't perfect they had made almost 180s from the way they were when they entered foster care. I was worried that my VERY bright Bob and Kitty were in the same grade. Foster Mom assured me that Kitty could care less about school and wouldn't be bothered by a younger sibling doing better than she was.


We decided to meet them, and on Labor Day weekend we drove to Nebraska, met up with my MIL and nephew (who were supposed to watch Bob and Ponito while we got to know the new kids - not that it worked out that way!). The girls bonded and were instant best friends. My nephew and Bear hit it off. Because Bob and Ponito called me Mom, Kitty did too (I thought that was a good sign then! I knew very little about attachment disorders!) We were an instant big happy family.

The beginning of this story:
How We Found Our Kids
Part 3: Getting Our Kids Home

How we found our kids

You've seen the pictures, but you haven't heard the story of how we ended up adopting children older than our oldest child (that unwritten rule that was made for a reason), how we ended up adopting from another state (Nebraska) instead of our own (Texas), and how we ended up adopting children who's de-identified information scared off the first family chosen and almost scared me off as well.


To start with, I've pretty much ALWAYS planned to adopt. Especially after having a focus on child abuse and neglect with my psychology degree in college - I did adoption research on open adoptions as well. Hubby was really more interested in adopting his niece and nephew (abusive, drug addicted, neglectful mother, who slept around - actually very similar to Kitty and Bear's biomom in a lot of ways.) We were convinced that this was going to happen for many years. Eventually my BIL actually got his act together, married a nice girl - mentally deficient, but nice, and got custody of our niece and nephew (and guardianship of their half sister). A year or so later he took off and abandoned the family. The kids ended up going back to biomom! Our nephew moved in with my MIL. It was all so not what we wanted for them, but at least my nephew is out of the situation.


Meanwhile, we started looking at adopting from foster care. We went to the state when Bob was almost 4 and Ponito was one. We took the Pride adoption classes and thought we were ready. I knew I could handle special needs kids because Bob had been a total handful and we managed to get through her terrible twos (which started at 17 months and ended at 4!!). Our references even mentioned how well we'd dealt with her spirited behavior. (Which reminds me of my FAVORITE book - Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka - I highly recommend this book).


The state decided for us that our daughter needed to be assessed, so we took her to a therapist. After a few sessions of no break through, I went to visit Bob's daycare without the baby one day, and stayed long enough that the kids stopped paying attention to me. The 3 year olds were watching the movie "Iron Giant" - Yes, that's a PG movie! Yes, I pitched a huge fit! One child would accidentally bump another, that child would turn and shove, someone else would hit, and the teachers did NADA! I found out later this school had tons of issues with boundaries. We pulled Bob immediately. The therapist saw her two more times and declared her perfectly normal. We took this information to the state caseworker, but she had already made up her mind. We were told to come back when Bob was 6.


That may have been God watching out for us, because I was interested mostly in a sibling group of 2 or 3 and didn't know about the "No child older than your oldest child" rule at the time. That would have been 5 kids 5 and under. Maybe not the best choice!


Hubby lost his job when the hi-tech industry crashed and was unemployed off and on for years. Then he decided to go back and get his MBA. In October of 2005, my sister and her two children moved in with us, and my husband lost his job again. I felt a calling to look at the adoption websites - crazy I know! I saw these two children (among others of course) and they really appealed to me, the girl was a year younger than Bob, the boy a year younger than Ponito. The boy, Z, and Ponito looked a lot alike, and the girl, D, (despite her obvious racial difference) looked a lot like Bob. They'd been on the Texas website since June. Still, the the timing was all wrong.




In February, I felt the calling to look again, and these two were still there. I mentioned this to Hubby, convinced he would tell me I was insane since my sister was just getting ready to move out and he was still unemployed, but he surprised me and said we could look into it!!


So I signed up for classes with an agency that I had actually briefly written foster care homestudies for when Bob was an infant. They had just started doing adoptions as well. The orientation was on my birthday in April. It seemed God was telling us this was right. Hubby was still unemployed, but we decided that we would go ahead and take the Pride classes and just not get on the lists until he had a job. Coincidentally, Hubby's first day at work was our first day of class in May. I started pushing to get us a homestudy ASAP, because we were still very interested in D and Z.


We got our license in the beginning of July. I found out that D and Z had been pulled from the website only 3 days before. I assumed they had found a home, but that still meant I needed to start looking for new kids.




To be continued!




Mary




Side note - I got another urge to look at the website a few months ago. http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Adoption_and_Foster_Care/Child_Search/default.asp D and Z are back on the Texas website, but they are now listed to be adopted separately. So sad. I guess they had major issues that keeps them from being adopted together. Again, God was probably watching out for us.

Edited 4/21/15: D has officially aged out of the system, but Z is still on the website. They haven't updated his photo in many years (although it is more recent than this one).


The rest of the story:
How We Found Our Kids Part 2
Getting Our Kids Home. How We Got Our Kids Part 3