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!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

No cursing

Big laugh yesterday! I received a resume for someone named Neau Ker Sing (say it fast and pronouce Neau as no!). What a coincidence, huh?!

Friday, February 27, 2009

SUV therapy

Tried a new therapy technique with Kitty today. No EMDR therapy for her! Hubby and I went instead, and she was told she's not going to be allowed to go. The therapist is hoping that she'll feel like she's missing out, and start wanting to go. I'm not holding my breath on that one. Might work on Bear who can't stand other people talking about him, but doubt Kitty will care.

Got several calls from home during the therapy session. Kitty had a low grade fever and was complaining that her side hurt. Rather than listen to her whine and complain all night, I told Grandma to tell her no worries, she could stay home with me and eat leftovers while everyone else went out to dinner as planned. She started wailing and sobbing. Bear and Bob begged me to let her go. Wish I thought it was because they wanted to help her, but I suspect it was because they didn't want to listen to her. I said she could only go if she was healthy and not complaining, and then the miracle occurred! She was HEALED! She stopped crying and started laughing.

We were late to the buffet restaurant and by the time I got there, Kitty had already gorged herself. She did come running up to hug me, and bad mommy that I am, I told her I didn't want one because her face and hands were coated with ranch dressing (she likes a sprinkle of salad on her dressing). She promised to be careful and I got a hug, luckily I wasn't dry clean only today because her shirt was coated too. *sigh*

I don't know what to do about Kitty's recent gorging. She'd had a plate of ranch dressing with a little salad, 4 pieces of pizza, a plate of fried popcorn shrimp, and at least 2 rolls, that I know of before I got there. I watched her slam down 4-5 glasses of water because she "hadn't drunk anything all day." I finally told her she could have more, but she was done with carbs and protein. She needed veggies! She got a serving of sweet potatoes with marshmallow, a small piece of pineapple (which she decided tasted awful - I'd had some and it tasted fine) and a piece of watermelon. She was ready to go back for more pizza, nachos, and some sausage, but I told her she was done.

She started begging for dessert. Rather than tell her no, we asked what she'd eaten today - trying to show her how unbalanced her diet was (we've talked to her before about how dissociated she is from her body). She'd apparently forgotten to put her main lunch (a can of soup) in her lunch bag. Hubby had made sure she'd taken her lunch bag (she often forgets), but of course didn't realize it was empty. A teacher gave her some lunch money (we've asked the school to call us, but she doesn't always tell them because she wants to eat what her friends have - yesterday lunch was a mooched bag of chips, because she'd forgotten her lunch again). Today's lunch was a sandwich and a doughnut.

I told her she could have a dessert, but it needed to be no larger than a ping pong ball (I demonstrated with my hands). She had a minor meltdown, and ended up arguing so long that she never actually got a dessert. This infuriated her!

We borrowed Grandma's car because Hubby is teaching scuba this weekend, and needed to be at the dive shop super early. Bob wanted to ride with me, but I didn't want Kitty riding with Hubby, and Bob decided to ride with Hubby rather than go with Kitty and I.

Kitty lit into me about what a bad parent I am, and how mean I was to her. I decided I was going to stay and work on this rather than drive home. Kitty threatened to get out of the car so I engaged the child safety locks. Kitty had rolled down the window and was holding the car door locked - making this difficult. She managed to disengage the child safety locks before I could even get back in the car. *sigh* When she threatened again I just told her this was a bad part of town (true) and that I didn't recommend that choice.

I wish I could say the right words came to me, but they didn't. Kitty wailed about how horrible and mean we are and that we are not her real family. She wanted to go back to Nebraska. I sympathized that family's are scary to a person with her past, but of course she claimed she's not scared of us, she just hates us.

I reminded her that she had no way to get to Nebraska. She mentioned she could steal my car and drive - I poked holes in that option. She kicked the chair and yelled at me, but didn't escalate out of control. I hate that I can tell her over and over that I love her, but she doesn't believe me. Doesn't want to believe me. She just wants to make it all go away, and that tears at my heart - but wishing won't make it happen. I also wish I could just make it all go away too. I wish I could just open her heart, set it to Trust and Love, and just wait to hear those words I've been longing to hear from Kitty, "I love you, Mom. I love being part of this family." I know I may never hear them, but Kitty is not the only one who has a dream.

We talked about eating (she hated me for telling her what to eat, and she was going to starve herself skinny so she wouldn't be like biomom. School has been showing plays about bulimia so she's talked about that a lot (thanks public school!) - she's hoping it will get her put in the hospital to get away from us.

It was a long convoluted argument with many rabbit holes. I think 2 things might have gotten through.

One, I got a chance to say, I wish I'd always been her mom, because I wish I could have kept her safe (had evil step-father thrown in jail the first time he EVER tried to hurt MY child).

Two, real family doesn't have to be related by blood. I asked Kitty if Hubby and I loved each other - luckily she did say yes. Aren't Hubby and I a family even though we're not related by blood? Yes again!

The half brother of one of Kitty's half sisters died when he was only 16. Lately Kitty has been obsessed with him (he died violently and was good to Kitty when he was alive). She told me that in some of her many walks around the back yard talking to herself that she is often talking to him. I told her I do that too, but I'm talking to God. She said this boy watches over her, but she doesn't know why he sent her to this horrible family (us). I agreed that sometimes I wish I could ask God why he does things. I gave her some examples of times when God did something and at the time I had no idea why, but later, sometimes years later, I figured out why and it was always part of his great plan. I mentioned that if this boy is watching over her then he must be like a guardian angel. Guardian angels talk to God. What if the Guardian angel boy told God, my friend is hurting and needs a family, and God chose us for her because he knew I needed her to be my little girl? That seemed to resonate within her.

Then I reminded her that the boy was NOT blood related and yet she still loved him!

So in a way she got therapy after all. Almost an hour in the parking lot and about 15 minutes driving home, but I pray that it was worth it. I do not expect instant, forever changes, but maybe a couple of chinks in her armor?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Haircut deal?!

Got an e-mail from a local hair cutting place.

From: "Local Haircutting Pace"
Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 5:28
Subject: $7.99 haircut offer

"Local Haircutting Place" is offering our own stimulus:
$8.99 Mens or Kids Cuts
$19.99 womens Cut/dry @ style
$45 color
Expires 3/15/09
One coupon per visit

I thought it was funny that the e-mail title didn't match the inside so I decided to be nice and send a response.

On Feb 26, 2009, at 8:25 AM, "Marythemom" wrote:

Hi Troy,

Just FYI, you e-mail title is $7.99 haircut, but the inside says

" Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the

Gotta love the response!

From: "Local Haircutting Place"
Sent: Wednesday, February 25, 2009 5:28 PM
Subject: $7.99 haircut offer

Sorry it is $799

Sent from my iPhone

That's just a little out of my budget! LOL I think I'll pass!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

God's plan

One of our cars died several months ago. It's been sitting in my parent's driveway ever since. We couldn't decide what to do with it. I thought it was possible that we might be able to use it as a trade-in if the dealership was desperate enough to take a car with a probable cracked engine block. Of course we can't afford another car right now. So it's been sitting in the driveway while our 6 member family continues to drive our gas-guzzling, 5 passenger SUV.

Out of the blue, someone noticed my dead car and knocked on my parent's door asking if it was for sale? We told him it was dead, but he has a friend who owns a garage and was fine with that. He gave us $700 cash.

So now we have to figure out why God gave us this money? Are we about to need it? Is it intended for one of the hundreds of things we need money for (like Bear needs new glasses to replace the pair he broke then lost that the insurance won't cover)? It's not enough for many of the things we've been putting off -like my thyroid surgery, sending Bob back to private school, helping meet payroll...

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths. - Proverbs 3:5,6

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and has made the Lord his hope and confidence. - Jeremiah 17:7

Happy is the man who finds wisdom and understanding for the gain from it is better than gain from silver and profit better than gold. - Proverbs 3:13,14

Monday, February 23, 2009

Kitty IEP

Kitty's behavior is getting worse and worse. She is having more meltdowns, especially around Hubby. Her PTSD is flaring high, and her issues with men are becoming more and more pronounced. Our theory is that she is behaving so well for the school that when she comes home she is already activated and unable to hold it together anymore. The slightest trigger and she loses it. Luckily she has no homework because she gets it done at school. She does have chores though.

I got a call from one of the school behavior specialists before the meeting, asking me about Kitty's behavior at home. She got an earful! She obviously had a questionnaire she was filling out about what triggered Kitty (everything - but especially men, criticism, being told what to do, and chores), what worked to calm her down (nothing if she is totally activated, staying calm and helping her regulate, and distracting her if she's not that upset), what consequences work (threatening to put her in the FAIR Club and sometimes bribing her - um, I mean, offering positive reinforcement), and what consequences don't work (nothing works if she is totally activated, threats, taking stuff away, guilt...).

Kitty had another IEP/ARD meeting today to review how she's doing (it's been one month). Kitty attended this one which was a little frustrating for us because we don't want to address many issues in front of her. It feels like criticism to her and puts us firmly in the "evil parent" role. I listed our concerns for discussion after she left.

She got her IEP goals. They were pretty basic. Most of the time in the meeting was spent explaining to Kitty what was going on - this was her first IEP meeting. Lots of praise for how well she was doing. She is getting a 75 in Language Arts and we were told that was because she was not turning in her reading log. She has a reading log?! We talked about the fact that she never gives us anything that is sent home and loses and forgets stuff all the time. It was one of her few original IEP goals to help her get organized and set up communication between home and school. Obviously that didn't happen.

The praise of Kitty got very deep. We were told that they didn't see a need for a behavior plan because they weren't seeing any behaviors! They did decide to do one for the one behavior issue she's had at school which is going to the nurse's office with minor complaints that she doesn't really need to see the nurse for. This have already been addressed, but oh well. At one point Hubby tried to clarify something with Kitty and she snapped his head off as usual. Later, the vice principal told her that she was doing really well in school, BUT that if Kitty acted as disrespectful in school as she did to her family just then, then she would be in MAJOR trouble (You GO Ms. G!)

We talked about Kitty's classes. She mentioned a substitute teacher in her theater arts class that she said yelled at the class and was unreasonable in his expectations. I clarified with the administrators after Kitty left that this was an excellent male substitute teacher, and that it was Kitty's perception not reality. So they are seeing her issues, but they are mild because she is still in the honeymoon phase. We did mention that when the theater arts teacher leaves at Spring Break to have her baby, that things will be very interesting if that substitute teacher becomes the new teacher (truthfully Hubby and I are half hoping this will happen so that some of Kitty's issues will be effecting her in school).

School ended and Kitty had to leave to get her stuff and get home with Grandma. Then the real fun began!

We knew that if it didn't have an effect at school we would have difficulty getting our concerns addressed. And Kitty was still firmly in the honeymoon period, but we mentiond the major increase in issues at home and our theory that it was caused by her working so hard to behave at school.

We talked about the books that Kitty has been checking out at school triggering issues for her at home (horror, including "I know what you did last Summer," and violent, gory stuff). The library is actually going to restrict them for her!

We talked about the unfortunate choice of "Men are Slime," as the play that Kitty had to memorize and act in. We were told to talk to the theater art teacher, but there was nothing that could be done now.

Then the school mentioned that they thought Kitty should go to a mainstream Texas History class! Hubby and I freaked! She can barely handle the stress of school as it is! We asked her one mainstream class teacher if Kitty was really doing well in the class since the teacher had mentioned that Kitty had had to leave a few times because the room was too noisy. Plus TX History has a lot of reading and note taking (Kitty has poor writing skills). It looked like we were going to be overruled anyway. Luckily someone brought up the fact that the TX History teacher is male! Suddenly they decided that we would wait until next year, but would let her visit some of the classes of the female teachers when they were doing a fun project. Yea!

When we got home, Kitty had yet another meltdown, over having to do dishes. We are the meanest parents in the world for making our child wash dishes, which she hates more than anything in the world. She once again brought up that she wants her sisters here, but this time said they would be hers and hers alone. I told her that if we adopted her sisters that they would be part of our family. She argued from her seat on the floor with tears dripping down her face. She was so activated it just kept going downhill from there. I wish we could just stop and give her a chance to calm down, but she won't allow it. She just keeps pushing and escalating.

Then I watched Wife Swap. One mom actually inspected her children's teeth brushing with a toothpick. Their list of chores made my list look like nothing, and if they did one thing wrong (which they did pretty much daily) they were made to do drills in the front yard where everyone could see (running laps, push ups, etc.). Step-Dad was in the military service. If it weren't for the horrible cursing I would show it to my kiddos! I'm a good mom, I am!

Bakugan Birthday

Ponito's birthday party went well. I guess I'd never realized the dynamics created by the little neighbor boy who is so aggressive -until he wasn't here. Even Ponito's sweet, quiet cousin got to play and had fun - he even decided to spend the night. (Bear's girlfriend broke up with him so that issue is resoved as well).

Ponito was excited to get mostly Bakugan balls for his birthday. This is apparently the latest craze among elementary age boys (maybe older too). Here's what they look like - Bakugan Battle This is not my kiddos, but it does show how the toys work.

They are little plastic balls that have a magnetic spot on them. When the spot touches metal (like the special playing cards they come with), they open up and show their point value and turn into little creatures (like Transformers only the balls do it on their own). Each playing card they land on has a list of bonus points (based on the colors of the balls I think) on the other side. The playing cards are layed out face down into an "arena." The boys take turns rolling their Bakugans trying to land on the same card as another ball so they can "battle." When two rolled balls land on the same card they have a "battle." The playing card is flipped and the boys have to do math!! They take the value of the ball plus the value of the points added by the playing card. The one with the highest points "wins" and keeps his Bakugan on the board. It's kind of like marbles except you don't get to keep the other kid's marble (at least not the way these kids played).
So now you know everything I know about Bakugan balls! Don't you feel enriched?!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hubby and Me!

I totally stole this from That Chick Over There. Who is absolutely hilarious by the way! You should check her out.

I love these things! Yes, I'm totally weird that way. This one is different from the usual ones. When you answer, you are answering for you and your significant other. Let me know if you try it.

1. What are your middle names? I hate mine and changed it the minute I got married. Makes me crazy that I had to use it on all the kids' birth certificates because I didn't "legally" change it. Hubby goes by his middle name. It's a family tradition. My dad and Hubby's dad both go by their middle name. Ponito went by his middle name until 1st grade. Now it just depends on how long someone has known Ponito. We have 5 little boys spending the night here for his birthday and about half call him by his first name and half by his middle. (Did you notice that I didn't tell you what my middle name was?!)

2. How long have you been together? We got together in November of 1992! We will be married for 15 years on March 12th!

3. How long did you know each other before you started dating? I met Hubby through a video dating service, before they were online, so technically we didn't know each other before we started dating. In fact, I didn't know Hubby's last name when I came to meet him at work for our first date. I asked for "Hubby" and the receptionist said, "Which one?" It was a tense few minutes. Luckily the other "Hubby" was older and married so I didn't end up with the wrong one! *grin*

4. Who asked whom out? Hubby saw my picture and video and asked me out. I was so busy dating lots of guys (I was 1 of only 2 women under the age of 25 in the whole dating service!) and finals were coming up, that I'd been seriously considering putting myself on hold for awhile. On the day I went in to do so, I got 2 dating requests. One was for a guy that was 6'2" at least and weighed less than I did (and I was a skinny little thing back then!) I looked at Hubby's, and decided that although he had a double chin, his legs looked great so he probably wasn't fat. (Yes, I know, totally shallow!). I wasn't as busy as I thought and decided I would go out with him. I think I called him. I was super busy all weekend (lots of dates with other guys), but I met him at his work and we went out for lunch.

5. How old are each of you? I'm 38 and Hubby is almost exactly 5 years older. Our birthdays are only 3 days apart.

6. Whose siblings do you see the most? Mine definitely. My little sister lives 3 blocks away and we all meet at our mom's for lunch every Sunday. Her little boy is only 6 months younger than Ponito, and is upstairs right now with all the other kids here for Ponito's party. My step-siblings and Hubby's 7 year younger brother all live out of state so we see them very rarely.

7. Which situation is the hardest on you as a couple? That's a tough one. Not having had a paycheck in over a year for both of us is definitely hard for us as a family. Having a daughter who hates men, Hubby in particular, is definitely hard. We deal pretty well with working together. I think it's that I'm freakishly scared of other people's driving. Commuting downtown means we are exposed to a lot more traffic risk. I'm constantly gasping, squeezing his hand, closing my eyes... although I'm better about actually pointing out potential danger. I know it makes him crazy.

8. Did you go to the same school? Kind of. We grew up in totally different parts of the country (although my dad was stationed in Omaha, Nebraska for awhile), but I went to the University of Texas for both my Bachelors and Masters, and Hubby went there about 4-5 years ago and got his MBA.

9. Are you from the same home town? Not even close. I was a military brat and lived in 9 different states and countries before I was 5. Then lived mostly in Texas. Hubby grew up in rural Nebraska.

10. Who is smarter? Probably Hubby by a little. We both have equally high IQs, but I have some learning disabilities. We do have areas where we are "smarter." Hubby can do math in his head that I can't figure out with a calculator, math book, and a year to work on it. I'm pretty strong verbally and with people. We love to do the crossword together, and the 2 of us together is a formidible force!

11. Who is the most sensitive? Most of the time me, but Hubby has a marshmallow core!

12. Where do you eat out most as a couple? Just the two of us? We have lunch together often. Usually fast food or pizza buffet. Dinner doesn't happen very often.

13. Where is the furthest you two have traveled together as a couple? We've gone to Colorado to visit my folks and Nebraska to visit his and get our new children. We've never gone anywhere else together!

14. Who has the craziest exes? Depends on your definition. Hubby dated a woman who ended up being mentally ill and had a lot of issues. I dated a lot more than Hubby though. I think "Not a dime a dozen" (I don't remember his real name), was one of the freakiest.

15. Who has the worst temper? That's a tough one. Both of us have extremely long fuses. There are times when I am easily irritated though. Even under extreme circumstances (Bear throwing punches at him), Hubby has never deliberately struck someone.

16. Who does the cooking? I do most of the cooking, but Hubby is a good cook. He makes homemade rolls, and chicken recipes that are delish! Never makes veggies or side dishes though.

17. Who is the neat-freak? Unfortunately, neither one of us. I am the one that gets freaky when company is coming though. I become a slave driver. Makes Hubby and the kids crazy.

18. Who is more stubborn? Oh me definitely!! When we first got together we found that we were both so easy going that we sounded like the vultures in Jungle Book. "What do you wanna do? I dunno what do you wanna do?" "WE" decided that if neither of us cared that I would "have to" decide. Ok, most of the time I am extremely stubborn and have to be right.

19. Who hogs the bed? As far as I know, neither one of us.

20. Who wakes up earlier? Hubby. He hates it, but he is the most responsible/ reliable. He has to go around waking everyone, including me, up every morning. He is also an incredibly light sleeper so if anyone else gets up he's awake too. Ponito is a freakishly early riser (woke up everyone this morning at 5am!). Bear and Kitty don't sleep well and are often up in the middle of the night (Kitty is NOT a quiet child and sometimes even manages to wake me up!).

21. Where was your first date? We went to lunch at a Mexican food restaurant near where Hubby worked. I already had a date that evening with another guy, but the guy took me home right after dinner because he had to get back to work (the problem with dating engineers!). I called Hubby and we went to a movie (so it was kind of a second date, but on the same day). We sat outside my apartment talking (until my sister/roommate asked us to move on cause we were keeping her up, and we moved further away from the apartment!). We ended up staying up half the night talking.

22. Who is more jealous? I don't think either of us is jealous, especially now. When we were dating, Hubby knew I didn't trust men further than I could throw them so he knew I wasn't serious about anyone else, and I just knew he wouldn't cheat on me cause he wasn't that kind of guy. Guess I had more faith in him then I realized.

23. How long did it take to get serious? It was pretty darn fast. Both of us were ready to get married and I think we could tell that about each other as well. Hubby was everything I was looking for in a guy. Big enough to pick me up (I like to feel delicate! *grin*), responsible (had a real job, made real money, and didn't blow it all on "stupid" stuff like toys (gadgets, sound systems, fancy cars....), handsome but didn't know it (not stuck on himself and not so gorgeous that women threw themselves at him), smarter than me (I wanted to marry someone I respected) and no obvious flaws (I'm still looking actually!). Poor baby didn't know what he was getting into when he married me though! Still, he thinks he's the lucky one because I love him despite his few quirks - whatever works!

24. Who eats more? Him. But I'm the one who pigs out on sweets.

25. Who does the laundry? I make him lug the baskets downstairs, but it's mostly me that washes things and (eventually) puts them away.

26. Who's better with the computer? Hubby, hands down! But I'm the one addicted to it.

27. Who drives when you are together? Hubby, poor thing (see #7).

Friday, February 20, 2009

No Cussing Club works!

So the neighbor family mom reads my blog! She shared with her husband the news about the No Cussing Club Ponito is starting (along with a few more of the facts leading up to the girlfriend cussing incident) and they have decided that their son can come to Ponito's birthday party this weekend! Ponito is so happy!

But wait there's more!

The little neighbor boy with the major cussing issue came by this afternoon to see if Ponito could go to his cousin's birthday party at Gattiland and spend the night. I told him Ponito was grounded (FAIR Club) for cussing. The boy's mom called a few minutes later for news. I bit the bullet and told her that Ponito was grounded for cussing, and that he claimed he'd learned most of it from her son. She was genuinely shocked!

I couldn't believe she didn't know! I mentioned her son was pretty aggressive and she readily admitted to that, but she had never heard a foul word leave his mouth. I realized that I had never really heard Ponito cuss either so I believe her that she really didn't know. We have 2 smart boys who know better than to cuss in front of their parents. I mentioned this had been going on for quite awhile and she was upset that no one had ever told her. (Now I felt guilty!)

Bob happened to be standing next to me so I asked Bob to tell the neighbor about her son's behavior since it didn't happen in front of me of course. Bob confirmed everything and gave some details (without actually using the words herself of course!).

The neighbor immediately talked to her son and sent him to his room. He wasn't allowed to go to the cousin's birthday party. I don't know what all happened after that because I took Kitty to therapy, but I was told that a very tearful boy came to our house and apologized to Bob, Hubby and Bear. Ponito was at a friend's house. We were told that the boy wants to apologize to Ponito, Kitty and I too.

We'll see what happens next. Maybe this No Cussing Club thing will continue to make positive waves!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

No Cussing Club

He's such a cute kid. I know he is occasionally a little stinker, but he's also my cuddler. My quiet, sensitive child. Always easy going and laid back. Bob was my difficult child. She hit the terrible twos at seventeen months and didn't stop until 4.5yr! She picked on her little brother all the time (and he usually just took it from her stoically). At age 8 she got a teenage attitude and it's been on ever since.

But Ponito was the one I sometimes forgot was there. The one who sweetly played dolls and dress up with his sister and walked around with a big pink babydoll for a year and a half.

When Bear got here and Ponito started picking up Bear's behavior it really bothered me. When Bear left for residential treatment, I was a little grateful for the chance to get Ponito back on an even keel. I knew Ponito had picked up some not so hot behaviors (like cussing) from some of the neighbor kids too, but he was careful not to do so in front of Hubby and I.

This finally backfired on Ponito though. One of the neighbor kids started using words he'd learned from Ponito. Then this weekend his older brother (13) started teasing Bear's new girlfriend until she started cussing. When the older brother told his parents, he conveniently left out the teasing and other behavior that he and his brother had been doing.

That was it. Now this whole neighbor family with 4 kids, including a son who is only 3 weeks younger than Ponito, is not allowed to play with our family. Ponito's belated birthday party is this weekend, and his friend can't come.

I've been avoiding forbidding Ponito to play with the neighbor child who is the worst offender (aggressive, cusses like a sailor...), because the boy's mom is a good friend of mine, and they are always taking Ponito, and often all 4 of my kids, on great trips that we can't afford (6 Flags, Schlitterbahn water park, circuses, rodeos...). This boy is only 2 weeks older than Ponito, they've known each other since they were a year old and were even in the same Kindergarten class at school (I think the school deliberately kept them in different classes after that!). I don't want Ponito to feel like I'm condoning the boy's behavior, at the same time I know how hard it is for this boy (many of the neighbors have forbidden him to play with their kids). *sigh*

Cursing is one of the things I don't tolerate much. In our house we also have "No No" words aka "Naughty" words. Things like shut up, hate, stupid... I grew up with a Mom who was strict about that kind of thing. She didn't allow variations on cursing either; we weren't allowed to say, "Gah," or d*ng, or d*rn, or cr*p... Hubby thinks I'm going too far. When we adopted, we expected the kids to come with a whole different vocabulary, but I was actually fairly impressed.

So I may have found the answer. Ponito is in the FAIR Club for cussing, both for what happened with the neighbor child and in front of his Grandmother. His assignment is to join the No Cussing Club ( ), read the book, use his allowance to buy wrist bands and possibly start his own local chapter of the club. The No Cussing Club was started by a kid whose parents wrote Raising G rated children in an X rated World. Ponito loved the rap video the kid made. Listen Now [4 min 31 sec] add to playlist 'Don't Cuss' Video (YouTube)

I've hinted that if he asks both neighbor boys to join his club, this might impress the neighbor family enough to lift the ban forbidding contact, if the other child refuses to join, then he has an easy excuse for stopping contact with that child. If the child joins and doesn't quit the cussing then Ponito will have to let the child know his behavior is not OK and possibly kick him out of the No Cussing Club - in which case he won't be allowed to have contact with the child. It's a win/win situation for Ponito.

One of the things the No Cussing Club recommends is for awhile you need "transition" words to help you stop.

“You know, when you first try to stop cussing, you can't stop right away. You got to have transition words or substitutes to help you stop. You can use 'oh, pickles,' 'sassafras,' 'dang,' 'darn,' 'flip' — just anything you can think of.”

"WARNING! Using these words instead may actually cause you to burst out laughing and actually defuse your anger and the situation."

They have an inexpensive e-book that Ponito wants to buy, but I'm also going to strongly suggest that he ask friends and family members what they use. This would serve to remind some family members that there are other words they should be using, and let Ponito see how few of his friends and family members use foul language.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

New Blog!

I just started a new blog. It's for my product development design company so it probably won't appeal to anyone here, but I'm still excited about it!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Chore Agreements


1. All allowance and chore money will be kept in savings until the spending freeze is lifted. Birthday money or money earned elsewhere may be held for you, but does not have to go into savings.
2. You are required to have $25 in savings at all times. If this money is used to repay debts (such as replacing damaged items or for incomplete chores) then extra chores are mandatory until money is earned back.
3. Spending money is not authorized until you have over $50 in your account. You may choose to spend all money over the $50 or keep it in savings.
4. You may combine money with a sibling only if you have a written agreement on how the item(s) purchased will be used (both by owners, friends and siblings who didn’t contribute).
5. Parental approval for all purchases is required.

b. RANDOM TREATS: Parents will randomly bring home treats that only children who have done chores can have.

c. EARN A VOICE IN CHOICE: If you have completed your chores for the day or week you will get a vote in what movies the family watches, what we are having for dinner, where we go eat, and family activities.

d. WEEKEND REWARDS: Those who have done their chores all week will get free passes from shopping (where possible), and get to attend family activities, or get one on one time with a parent.

e. SATURDAY CHORES: All chores not done during the week must be done on Saturday, plus extra chores – particularly if the chore not done during the week was completed by someone else. It is possible, but not guaranteed, you may still get to go on family activities if these are complete before the activity begins.

f. NO TV/ PS2/ PHONE/ READING FOR PLEASURE/ PLAYING until chores are done to Grandma’s satisfaction. Be aware of parent’s requirements because they have the final say. If you have not earned these privileges you must eat and do schoolwork at the dining room table. Grandma may allow one of these privileges if you are consistently good about getting your chores done.


FAIR CLUB: If you refuse to do chores and/or have an attitude, you can and will be put in the FAIR Club. Other alternatives may include:

1. NO CHORES BY KID, NO CHORES BY PARENT: no hot food for dinner, you can eat sandwiches at table. No electronics or phone -these are paid for by working parents.

2. EARLY RISING: You may have to get up ½ hour early the next morning to do complete chores before getting ready for school.

3. CHANGE CHORES: If you don’t do a chore like dishes or kitty litter then you may have to do it all week rather than next person having to do double the work, or you may have to start doing the chores of the person who is having to do your work.

Life on overwhelm

Saturday we had a family meeting to discuss the fact that the kids are giving Grandma a hard time about doing their chores and are not getting them done. I decided to present them with a list of possible consequences/ rewards and some of the flaws with each one. The kids came to an agreement on rewards and consequences that was pretty reasonable.

Kitty got overwhelmed a few minutes into the meeting - chores and the implied criticism often do that to her. She interrupted constantly, and finally ended up covering her head, moaning and crying and insisting that we were going to starve her (one of the "options" was "no kid chores, no parent chores" - meaning that if you didn't do your chores you had to eat cold food instead of the hot meal prepared, and you couldn't watch TV). We tried to insist that of course we weren't keeping food from her, but she was too activated to hear us.

The other kids were totally frustrated with her. They wanted to get the family meeting over with so we could have lunch. I told Kitty that she needed to go to her room, and we would tell her later how the meeting went. She wouldn't leave and got worse. Finally Hubby stood up to take her to her room, and she managed to get control of herself. I allowed her to stay only on the condition that she no longer participate. She was told that if she interrupted, talked or went back to wailing that she would have to leave the room.

She did calm down. Although she still tried to interrupt several times, she did stop when I told her to quit. She made it through the meeting and even managed to do a couple of small chores before our picnic lunch in the park. After lunch she went grocery shopping with me and stayed calm. She hung out with the neighbor kids and Bear's girlfriend and the gf's friend that came over for an hour or so. All the kids stayed with Grandma overnight as usual on Saturday and went to church with her Sunday morning.

My sister came back from a 2 week business trip in Singapore on Friday and brought all the kids presents. Kitty called Hubby and I to see when we were going to get to Grandma's for lunch. When we arrived she came running out to the car to show us the hair clip she'd gotten. She even allowed hugs from me.

Bear had his new girlfriend over again this afternoon. Everyone has been complaining that I make the same dishes over and over and they're tired of them, so I made a list of some new dishes to try and today I decided to make Hawaiian meatballs (Bear's choice). Had to have side dishes too so we had Ginger Squash, a Pineapple Sweet Potato Casserole, rice, and Virgin Pina Coladas to drink. Plus an Almond Peach fruit cake for dessert.

Ponito volunteered to help. After awhile I realized I needed more help so I called everyone in (including the gf). We had fun mixing together all the ingredients. The gf invited Bear to come out to dinner with her family, but I nixed it. First of all, dinner was his choice, and second, I still don't trust him without Hubby or I supervising. Gf stayed for dinner, but didn't eat?!

Kitty got hyper and giggly. She started using her barking laugh that sounds like she is having an asthma attack. Everyone was teasing everyone and Kitty couldn't stop laughing (I think she couldn't really handle the teasing either). After dinner it was Kitty's turn to do dishes, and that's when the trouble began.

Kitty hates doing chores. Particularly dishes. I stayed in the kitchen to keep her company which sometimes helps, but so did Hubby, which sometimes makes it worse. As usual she ended up having a major meltdown. She whined, threw things, made a big mess, tried to talk her way out of it, raged and cussed. We were sympathetic and calm, but did not allow her to stop doing dishes. Eventually she threatened to accuse us of child abuse (because of course forcing a child to do dishes is child abuse!), accused us of not listening to her (we told her repeatedly that we do listen, but that doesn't mean she's going to get her way), threatened to run away (lost her shoes on that one - which of course makes her rage more), told Hubby he was evil and mean and how much she hates this family, and threatened to hurt herself.

We repeatedly and calmly redirected her to do the dishes. Explained it was taking her longer to argue and throw a fit then to do the dishes. She tried to run away. Hubby stopped her and she immediately tried to bite him, hit and pinch him. I don't really know what to do about her men issues. Family issues we just keep plugging away at, but the men issues seem to be getting worse. She's blaming everything on poor Hubby, including her family issues.

I think it might be time to start attachment therapy again, but with Hubby not me. I don't know how much more poor Kitty (and Hubby) can take.

Friday, February 13, 2009

There's a FIRST Time for Everything

1. Who was your FIRST prom date?
Richie. I was going to go stag, like I did to junior prom, but at the last minute my best friend got a date so I had to too! He left me at prom because he and his friends wanted to drive around the local Strip in the limo and I thought that was stupid and didn't want to leave my friend. I ran into him at the 20th high school reunion and he remembers it as me dumping him at prom instead of the other way around!

2. What was your FIRST alcoholic drink?
According to my mom it was a sip of wine or beer that I picked up after/during a party when I was a toddler. My first drink that I drank the whole thing was probably a wine cooler when I was in high school.

3. What was your FIRST job?
Probably babysitting or working in the church nursery (age 8-17), but the first one with a paycheck? Probably as a blackjack dealer in a bar on the local Strip. Gambling is illegal in our state so it was more like a video game - you paid to play and you couldn't win anything (even if you broke the bank). So my real job was to flirt - so people would want to play with me! *grin*

4. What was your FIRST car?
A blue Ford Probe. It only had 500 miles on it and had been rebuilt after being totalled (by someone else). It was soo much better than driving my dad's old Mazda GLC hatchback who's squirrel tired easily and had to be going 90 at the bottom of a gentle rise to be doing 40 at the top.

5. Who was the FIRST person to text you today?
I don't text!

6. Who is the FIRST person you thought of this morning?
Probably Hubby since he woke me up from a dead sleep.

7. Who was your FIRST grade teacher?
Not a clue! The only elementary teacher who's name I remember was Mrs. Prosser in 4th grade. She let me read the "reading cards" as fast as I could go (which was pretty darn fast!)

8. Where did you go on your FIRST ride on an airplane?
I don't remember. I was probably only 3 or 4. Mom says this was about how old I was flying as an unaccompanied minor with my little sister.

9. Who was your FIRST best friend, and are you still friends with him / her?
I lived in 9 different states and countries before I was 5 years old. My mom would probably remember, AND have a cute story about it.

10. Who was your FIRST kiss?
That would be Corey my Junior year of high school. I saw him at my 20th high school reunion with his best friend -who was my Senior prom date that left me at prom to go cruising with his friends in the limo. I made it to Sweet 16 and Never Been Kissed. I was pretty dorky and moved a lot.

11. Who was the FIRST person you talked to today?
Hubby wakes me up, so it was probably him, but I may not have spoken. Definitely spoke to Ponito this morning. He looked up when I came downstairs, yelled, "MOMMY!!" with a huge grin on his face and jumped up and gave me a monkey hug (wraps his arms around my neck and his legs around my waist).

12. What was the FIRST thing you did this morning?
Got mostly dressed and went downstairs to get a lovely monkey hug from Ponito.

13. What was the FIRST concert you ever went to?
Blue Oyster Cult at Six Flags with my cousins. It was an outdoor concert and the first time I smelled Marijuana. I've only been to 2 concerts ever!

14. What was your FIRST tattoo or piercing?
I got my ears pierced at age 13 as a birthday present. My little sister got hers done on the same day. I was NOT happy - so unfair! I will never get a tattoo. Even if I was tempted I saw how they remove them (when Bear had it done). It is not pretty if you change your mind!

15. What was the FIRST foreign country you went to?
I lived in Italy when I was 4.

16. What was the FIRST movie you saw in the theater?
I have no clue. I remember seeing my first rated R movie in a theater though. I was 8. My dad took me to see some movie about women robbing a bank.

17. When was your FIRST detention?
I've never had detention. I was a goody two shoes!

18. What was the FIRST state you lived in?
I was born in Virginia.

19. Who was the FIRST person to really break your heart?
My dad. After that I didn't trust any man enough to let him anywhere near my heart. Took poor hubby years to get me to trust him. Hubby was the FIRST non-relative I fell in love with!

20. With whom was your FIRST date?
Mark. I'd been flirting all freshman year with his seat mate, hoping he'd ask me to a dance, but his seatmate never got a clue. Mark took me to the ROTC military ball.

21. What was your FIRST pet?
My parents had a HUGE cat named Charlie when I was born. He was a 20lb black cat who'd been abused by his mother. He was vicious to everyone but my mom and me, and he taught me manners (no tail or fur pulling) and let me dress him up in baby clothes.

22. Who was your FIRST roommate?
Dawn. We shared a dorm room and our first apartment, and our second apartment when the first (Dawn had chosen), had the bathroom ceilings both cave in. There was a reason it was such a great deal!

23. Who was your FIRST love?
Hubby (see 19).

24. What was your FIRST screen name?
Marythemom. I've had the same screen name since I first got online 10 years ago.

25. When did you have your FIRST baby?
In 1996 when I was 26, but my oldest child was born in 1993!

Warning: gross analogy!

When we first got Bear and Kitty we were warned that Kitty would be the harder one to get through to. This seemed crazy because Bear was a seething pit of anger, while Kitty seemed fairly compliant.

Their old therapist said that while Kitty kept everything inside, Bear wore his emotions on his sleeve. You knew when he was upset, scared, angry or anxious (because he would be visibly seething or actively erupting – he didn’t really have a broad range of expression). Normally Bear stuffed all his emotions (anger, fear… even happiness) in a locked box deep inside him. This would work for about 3-4 weeks and then the box would get full and have to explode - like a volcano. He would spew lava everywhere, with no ability to be concerned for who got burned (including himself). After an eruption, the box would be open for about 10-15 minutes and you could view his tender emotions. We had many heart to hearts with him sobbing, telling us how afraid he was and how hard it was to trust. He was miserable, and hated being out of control.

When Bear got on the right medications (with the right diagnoses), the volcano inside him disappeared! It’s been a year now, and I’m just now believing that it really is gone. He’s still a mess (with the childhood he had how could he not be?!), but he has control over his emotions. Sometimes I worry that he is still stuffing his emotions in that box, it is just stronger now and can hold more. His therapist thinks that he is just getting more mature and does not need to drag out and process all the bad stuff in his past. I worry that it is festering inside him, but I have no real way to access it and probe to see if it is truly healing.

So here’s the gross analogy. My apologies, but it does seem accurate and I can’t think of a better one.

When we got Bear he was an angry, festering wound – raw, infected and oozing on everything he touched.

Kitty appeared healthier because you couldn’t see her wound. It was scabbed over and covered with numbing, self-protecting bandages, but it was still festering and infected inside of her – contaminating her life and her relationships.

With treatment, using the right medications and therapy, Bear’s wound is slowly healing. It will leave scars, but he finally has a good prognosis.

We have not found the right treatment yet for Kitty. Most of our efforts don’t even come close to penetrating her protective bandages. We are seeing the wound and its effects through cracks and I cringe at the devastation and damage that emerges. I am sooo tempted to allow her to close up and keep everyone at bay as is her preference. I wish I could just deny the bandaged and wounded parts and embrace my child, but it is really all or nothing. She has a thin fa├žade that she presents to the world (and even herself), and it requires all her energy to keep her walls up. Until the defensive walls/ bandages are removed – Kitty can’t feel anything. She can’t love or attach. She can’t process and heal.

I am terrified of the road ahead, but I know God will give me/us the strength to get through this. We deserve a chance.


Mom to biokids Ponito(10!) and his sister Bob(12)

Sibling pair adoptive placement from NE 11/06

Finally finalized on Kitty(13) on 3/08 - 2 weeks before her 13th birthday!

Finalized on her brother Bear 7/08. He turned 15 the next day.

" Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Words of Encouragement from God

January 29, 2009

Words of encouragement for Mary from God

I want to be the one you run to always
I want to be your hiding place; your refuge
Let me cover you with my wings
You are my beloved and I want to be your beloved
I've always loved you and will always love you with a love that never fails
I want to be your best friend
Come sit with me awhile
I want to talk to you and show you wonderful things
I will never leave you or ever forsake you
I'm yours always,

A friend of mine felt compelled to write this for me. I've been carrying it around ever since. Back and forth to work every day. Because I wanted to share it with you, but couldn't seem to find the time to post it. I assume God had a reason for giving me the time to share it today... but it could just be because I'm avoiding cleaning the staff bathrooms.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

PTSD/ C-PTSD/ DTD in older child adoption

You may have heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). It's usually talked about in association with soldiers, victims of rape or other violent crimes, or natural disasters.

DSM-5 Criteria for PTSD

All of the criteria are required for the diagnosis of PTSD. The following text summarizes the diagnostic criteria:

Criterion A: stressor (one required)
The person was exposed to: death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence, in the following way(s):
  • Direct exposure
  • Witnessing the trauma
  • Learning that a relative or close friend was exposed to a trauma
  • Indirect exposure to aversive details of the trauma, usually in the course of professional duties (e.g., first responders, medics)

Criterion B: intrusion symptoms (one required)

The traumatic event is persistently re-experienced in the following way(s):

  • Unwanted upsetting memories
  • Nightmares
  • Flashbacks
  • Emotional distress after exposure to traumatic reminders
  • Physical reactivity after exposure to traumatic reminders

Criterion C: avoidance (one required)

Avoidance of trauma-related stimuli after the trauma, in the following way(s):

  • Trauma-related thoughts or feelings
  • Trauma-related external reminders

Criterion D: negative alterations in cognitions and mood (two required)
Negative thoughts or feelings that began or worsened after the trauma, in the following way(s):

  • Inability to recall key features of the trauma
  • Overly negative thoughts and assumptions about oneself or the world
  • Exaggerated blame of self or others for causing the trauma
  • Negative affect
  • Decreased interest in activities
  • Feeling isolated
  • Difficulty experiencing positive affect

Criterion E: alterations in arousal and reactivity
Trauma-related arousal and reactivity that began or worsened after the trauma, in the following way(s):

  • Irritability or aggression
  • Risky or destructive behavior
  • Hypervigilance
  • Heightened startle reaction
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty sleeping

Criterion F: duration (required)
Symptoms last for more than 1 month.

Criterion G: functional significance (required)

Symptoms create distress or functional impairment (e.g., social, occupational).

Criterion H: exclusion (required)

Symptoms are not due to medication, substance use, or other illness.

Two specifications:

  • Dissociative Specification In addition to meeting criteria for diagnosis, an individual experiences high levels of either of the following in reaction to trauma-related stimuli:
    • Depersonalization. Experience of being an outside observer of or detached from oneself (e.g., feeling as if "this is not happening to me" or one were in a dream).
    • Derealization. Experience of unreality, distance, or distortion (e.g., "things are not real").
  • Delayed Specification. Full diagnostic criteria are not met until at least six months after the trauma(s), although onset of symptoms may occur immediately.

Complex PTSD (C-PTSD)  
When the Trauma Doesn't End 
First proposed by  Judith Herman in her 1992 book, Trauma and Recovery,  she suggested people dealing with child physical abuse,  intimate partner violence,  women trapped in sexual slavery, and other people experiencing long-term stress often showed symptoms very different from people experiencing single-event traumas.   As a result, they can often become passive and withdrawn (due to learned helplessness), or develop highly unstable personalities.   This could lead to dangerous repetitive behaviours such as becoming involved with violent partners,  repeated self-harm attempts, or chronic substance abuse.

Though not part of the new DSM-5, suggested C-PTSD symptoms in adults include:
  • Difficulties regulating emotions, including symptoms such as persistent sadness, suicidal thoughts, explosive anger, or covert anger
  • Variations in consciousness, such as forgetting traumatic events (i.e., psychogenic amnesia), reliving traumatic events, or having episodes of dissociation (during which one feels detached from one's mental processes or body).
  • Changes in self-perception, such as a chronic and pervasive sense of helplessness, shame, guilt, stigma, and a sense of being completely different from other human beings.
  • Varied changes in the perception of the perpetrator, such as attributing total power to the perpetrator or becoming preoccupied with the relationship to the perpetrator, including a preoccupation with revenge.
  • Alterations in relations with others, including isolation, distrust, or a repeated search for a rescuer.
  • Loss of, or changes in, one's system of meanings, which may include a loss of sustaining faith or a sense of hopelessness and despair.
Symptoms for children are similar but also include:
  • behavioural problems,
  • poor impulse control,
  • pathological self-soothing (through dysfunctional coping mechanism such as self-cutting), and
  • sleep problems.

Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD)
Since C-PTSD does not adequately reflect the kind of developmental impact seen in children,  clinicians have suggested an alternative diagnosis, Developmental Trauma Disorder (DTD)

DTD, also paralleled with complex PTSD (CPTSD), is caused by chronic and multifaceted traumatic events that occur during childhood that permanently influence a developing brain, affecting emotional and cognitive function and behavior. 
Traumatized children meet the DSM diagnostic criteria for many disorders, such as PTSD, but the various symptoms of DTD or CPTSD are not completely listed in the PTSD criteria and are often labeled as comorbidities. 
Most recently, DSM modifications for PTSD included a subtype group for children aged younger than 6 years. Research has shown when diagnostic criteria that are sensitive to child developmental stages were used, together with an appropriate behavioral assessment, more children qualified for a diagnosis of the child PTSD subtype than any other PTSD groups. 
Child PTSD evaluation include a lack of verbal skills in reporting abuse and the manner in which trauma-related symptoms and memory are expressed. For example, decreased interest in routine activities and play or “restricted play” are considered, and severe temper tantrums are noted to represent increased arousal behavior. 
Other childhood signs of PTSD include “loss of interests, restricted range of affect, detachment from loved ones, and avoidance of thoughts or feelings related to the trauma.” These symptoms are typical for children but are less distinct in adults with PTSD. 
In short, victims of childhood trauma exhibit many symptoms of PTSD, including dissociation, guilt, and hopelessness, but the diagnostic criteria for PTSD does not accurately include all the important indicators of DTD. Developmental Trauma Disorder: the effects of child abuse and neglect by Maureen V. Kilrain, MS, PA-C

Edited to add: Something we often forget is that we, the parents, can experience PTSD or Secondary PTSD. Working with children with trauma and/or attachment issues can be a very traumatizing experience. It can also trigger issues from our own past that we may have thought we had dealt with long ago. Please get help for yourself and take care of you! Parents get overwhelmed too. If we ignore ourselves and give until there is nothing left then we can no longer function as parents or even just as people.

Some resources:

What Worked for Us

My children have many overlapping diagnoses, and what works for one doesn't always work for the other, but here are some of the things we've found to help when adopting an older child with known Complex PTSD (C-PTSD):

Get a good therapist who understands and has experience working with adopted/foster kids with trauma. We love our EMDR therapist for our daughter but still use a good attachment therapist too.
NOTE: Don't be afraid to "fire" the therapist if it's not a good personality match.

EMDR Therapy
EMDR is the most recommended therapy for people with PTSD. It is most often used by soldiers and victims of trauma (like rape or being in a natural disaster), and usually only requires 2-3 sessions.

Obviously, people who have suffered from long-term trauma (Complex PTSD), such as child abuse, would most likely require more sessions.

There are no meds specifically for treating PTSD, but with good therapy and meds that help with the symptoms, the child can recognize the effects of the trauma, learn to cope, and move on to dealing with the cause of the trauma.

Overlapping Diagnoses
Don't be surprised if PTSD is not your child's only diagnosis, adopting older children usually means they have more going on then just one issue - attachment disorders, physical and sexual abuse, bipolar disorder, ADHD, FAS/FAE...

Caseworkers will not or cannot tell you all of what caused the PTSD, and often symptoms overlap and appear to be other things. I don't think I've ever heard of a child with RAD that didn't also have PTSD. Here's a good chart for Overlapping Behavior Characteristics.

  • Puberty
    Puberty will exacerbate the problem. Be sure you do everything you can to facilitate attachment before it hits and be ready for some regression. {The Teen Years}
  • Bedtime
    Bedtime can be a huge PTSD trigger, often causing Night Terrors and nightmares. Our son frequently has trouble going to sleep, sleeping through the night, and during a particularly bad period, would wake up with his heart pounding and his body shaking all over (his central nervous system releasing stored memories). His "nightmares" of the devil were so real he thought they were visions. Hubby and I took turns sleeping near him for a week. {Sleep Issues}
  • Projecting on Others (especially parents)Be prepared for your child to blame you for their past. My daughter recently admitted to seeing one of her past abuser's face everywhere - on walls, and particularly - over my husband's face. She hates "him," rages at him, tells him he is mean and evil, accuses him of yelling at her (even though Hubby isn't even raising his voice) and dissociates.
  • Stimulating/ Overwhelming Situations
    We avoid big groups, noisy places, and in particular, any situation that we know could trigger a flashback. I strongly recommend this, particularly for the first 6 months the child is in your home. Especially avoid the temptation to travel, have a party, introduce your child to everyone, shower him with gifts - he's already dealing with an overwhelming number of changes just by moving into a new home with a new family.
  • Stimulating Environments
    Avoid stimulating events, situations, etc. We have our daughter and son's rooms stripped down to the bare essentials, not just because they've done lots of damage, but because anything more is overwhelming.

Fight/ Flight/ Freeze
When in a meltdown Kitty mentally shuts down - we call it fight, flight, or freeze. She is acting instinctually to protect herself. The thinking part of her brain is not "online."

It's difficult not to hold her accountable when she rages during these times, but we've learned to wait until she's calm and then process what led up to the event so we can help her prevent re-occurrences. There are times when she doesn't remember the meltdown/ rage happening at all. {Handling Rages}

Some suggestions for dealing with schools.  PTSD is rarely recognized in schools. My children have behavior issues as well as diagnoses that require an IEP (including OHIs -other health impairment- like ADHD). Once you get an IEP though, you can access behavior accommodations that can really help.

Look for knowledgeable parent liaisons who will help you find the resources and accommodations your child needs. Be aware that no matter how wonderful and helpful the school seems, they usually will not volunteer information, and they may actually discourage you from getting help.

Request an assessment of your child in writing - they have 30 days to respond. Make sure they know you are willing to get or have gotten, in touch with an advocate/ lawyer.

ADVOCATE for your child. NO ONE else is as qualified as you are about your child's needs.

My Top 10ish Things I Couldn't Do This Without
I've written a lot of posts on things like Why Won't My Child Just Behave? and Why Doesn't My Child Feel Safe? maybe one of them will have some ideas for you.

Read Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control. It really helped us understand why our kids act the way they do sometimes (they are SCARED!). I also liked Parenting with Love and Logic - it's for "neurotypical" kids so a lot of it doesn't apply to kids of trauma, but it helped me stay calm!

Prioritizing Yourself, Your Family, and Your Child - In That Order! 
Get lots of support and take good care of yourself, your husband and your marriage.

Try to surround yourself with people who "get it." In person is best, but the internet has lots of great parent support groups, including BeTA and Facebook groups like the one I admin - Parenting Attachment-Challenged Children and others like Parenting with Connection.

We as parents often get our own PTSD, CTS (Continuous Traumatic Stress), and Caregiver Fatigue. Please take care of yourself!!


Kitty - came into our home at 11, now 13 - originally diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, learning disabilities, attachment "issues" and victim of abuse. Now diagnosed with bipolar, attachment disorder, ODD, Complex PTSD, learning disabilities, and victim of abuse.

Bear - Kitty's 1/2 sibling, came into our home at 13, now 15 - originally diagnosed with PTSD, conduct disorder, victim of abuse and mood disorder. Now diagnosed with bipolar, RAD, ADD, PTSD, cerebral dysrhythmia, and victim of abuse.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Lunch Money

Hubby decided to talk to Bear about the lunch money issue. Bear claimed that he’d only borrowed about $10 from a friend and that back when he had money earlier he’d been loaning some of it to his friends so they were just “paying him back.” He claimed a teacher had given him money for a school lunch a couple of weeks ago that he didn’t believe he was supposed to pay back. (According to the school he’s been getting lunches a couple of times a week and many drinks and snacks). He continued to claim that he didn’t take his brother’s money.

I’ve been flat on my back with stomach flu all weekend so didn’t have any input into this. Hubby has major issues with disciplining kids when he’s not 100% sure they did it. So Bear has pretty much gotten away with this. I am obviously not in agreement at all, but by the time I recovered it was already done. I’ve asked the school to let me know if they have any more evidence, but I’m assuming we will never be able to “prove” that Bear lied about this.

I think this kind of thing only makes Bear's illness worse. He will see this as having gotten away with it. Things like losing trust will not register with him. It will only be one more reason to feel persecuted by me when I don't allow him to do something because I don't trust him - "for no reason." I hate stomach flu! Maybe I should still confront him now that I'm better - after all it would be harder to lie to me since I actually talked to the school director, but he'll have had lots of time to come up with yet another story. *sigh*

PTSD and stomach flu

So after we left Kitty's therapy I got an idea. I decided to let Kitty go to the mall with a pretend $100 (our estimate of the amount of money a foster parent would have to buy clothes for a new child – I would hope it’s more, but I wanted to make a point to Kitty). She would have to buy a week’s worth of clothes including shoes and undergarments with this money. Then we’d go to Walmart and do the same thing. We don’t need to go to thrift stores because we already know what $100 would buy there. Kitty was very excited about this idea.

Of course Friday night I came down with stomach flu and spent all weekend in the restroom or flat on my back. Ponito was finally better so he and the other kids all went to Grandma’s house to spend the night Saturday night. At some point during the weekend, Kitty told Grandma that she has been seeing one of her step-father’s faces everywhere -on walls, on Hubby’s face (which explains her extreme reaction on Friday). I’m worried about the fact that she didn’t feel comfortable about telling me. She was probably afraid I wouldn’t allow her to go to school, the school dance (she wasn’t allowed to go anyway) or would make her take more therapy. This has been going on for a week and sounds like PTSD hallucinations to me. She did give me lots of hugs Sunday afternoon and made sure that Grandma told me about the hallucinations.

Kitty started throwing up tonight (Sunday) so feels pretty horrible (she’d just taken her night meds so I know they didn’t stay down). I’m assuming she’ll be better in time for therapy on Tuesday. The actual vomiting has only lasted about 4-6 hours at most – and then recovering takes 2-3 days.

My anti-social Bear is the only one who hasn't gotten it. Maybe he won't.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Kitty hates men

I almost forgot to go to Kitty's therapy tonight (had just taken Ponito to the doctor for the second time in 3 days, needed gas, was running to the pet store for dog food - Bear didn't tell me they were completely out so they didn't eat this morning!)! Luckily Hubby reminded me about therapy before I got too far into my errands.

We only have one car, which I had, so Grandma took Hubby and the kids to drop Kitty off at therapy. Kitty doesn't go alone, so Hubby stayed. I arrived about 5 minutes late and saw Grandma leaving. Everyone had forgotten that I had Ponito with me.

I decided to take advantage of this opportunity for Kitty to work on her issues with jealousy about Ponito (and our biokids in general) and/or her issues with Hubby (and men in general). Ironically Kitty tried to say she didn't need her "tappers" (EMDR technique which helps her remain calm).

Ponito wanted to go home, but sweet kid that he is, he hung out quietly. The therapist started by asking Ponito how he felt about things in our house. He thought about this for a little bit. During which time Kitty started talking about herself and being noisy. The therapist told her she was trying to bring attention back to herself and needed to stop. Kitty argued. The therapist asked Ponito another question along the same lines. One of the issues that comes up in therapy alot is that Kitty feels Ponito gets special treatment because he's younger. Ponito of course denied that he gets special treatment.

Kitty finally managed to bring the attention back to herself and started arguing with Hubby. The therapist told her it was not OK to be disrespectful in her house (we often do therapy at the therapist's home office). Kitty got more verbally abusive to Hubby and told him he was a mean man and she hated everything about him (she gets a kick out of not getting punished for things said in therapy). She told him the only thing she liked about him was that he let her go to public school. He got upset with her, but never raised his voice. She continually argued, but denied it, saying she was just stating how she really feels, not arguing. She cussed and yelled. Hubby and the therapist redirected her.

Kitty got more and more activated and abusive to Hubby (rarely bringing me into it - which I've noticed more and more lately). She accused him of expecting perfect behavior and always putting her in the FAIR club if she did even one little thing wrong. Hubby and I both pointed out that while she has been verbally abusive and threatened self-harm to the point of having to be hospitalized, she has not been put in the FAIR Club even once. She then switched to accusing us of putting her in the FAIR Club for "little" things not big things. I didn't really understand it either. We haven't put her in the FAIR club in almost a year, although we do threaten it occasionally when she is particularly disrespectful.

When Hubby pointed out that Kitty had a thing against all men not just him, she responded, "So?!" He tried to explain to her that our reason for pushing this was to help her in the future. He talked about the women he had known who were afraid of men so had married boys. Boys are not respectful and immature. They end up in jail, abusive... and the women end up divorced or worse. This is what happened to my sister although Hubby didn't mention that.

At one point the therapist intervened and asked her what she wanted to win out of this argument. She told Kitty it looked like she was trying to be removed from this family. Kitty jumped on this and said, yes, this was exactly what she wanted! The therapist pointed out that foster care would not be any better. Kitty stated that she wanted to be in foster care because I wouldn't give her cute clothes so she could be popular. She wanted to be able to dress like Bob who was popular, and I was treating her differently from the biokids. Hubby and I are "cruel and unusual" (her phrase - she always leaves off the punishment part).

We tried pointing out the flaws in this argument. Please do not take offense at any of the arguments you are about to see here!! I do NOT think all foster parents are abusive, poor, and dress their kids in rags. We were merely trying to point out that the grass is NOT greener on the other side of the fence and needed extremes to be able to reach her!! - Not that it worked.

1. Bob is not popular. She is pretty (so is Kitty), and she has friends (so does Kitty), and her clothes come from the same place as Kitty's (thrift stores). We started to talk about reasons Bob might have more friends, but it was a tangent we decided not to travel.
2. I let the girls pick out their own clothes. Yes, I reserve the right to veto anything I consider inappropriate and yes, I am picky and do not approve tight, short, sexy clothes. By the way, Kitty's outfit tonight was totally adorable and hand picked by her. It was very trendy and still appropriate. It was in no way ugly, unflattering, or obviously bought in a resale shop.
3. Because Bob is 5'9" and a size 16, if anything she has MUCH less in the way of "cute" clothes.
4. Foster parents usually have very little money to spend on clothes for kids. My kids have tons of cute clothes.
5. She is assuming that we are poor. Most foster parents have a LOT less than we do. She has her own room and lives in a nice, safe neighborhood.
6. Foster parents can be abusive, and not put up with her behavior. She could get hurt - she of course insisted that she would fight any men who were mean.
7. If she's removed she'll go into TEXAS foster care. She has no way to return to Nebraska. Even if she could figure out how to hotwire a car (yes, she's threatened this many times), she has no money for gas (no, she can't steal our credit cards, they don't have any money on them), and would be picked up as a runaway almost immediately.
8. She'd have to change schools.

Kitty insisted that foster care was better because her last foster mom bought all her clothes at WALMART! She wanted clothes that came from a MALL! She didn't like it when I told her that her clothes did come from a mall - originally. They are very high quality.

Basically it was Kitty getting a chance to yell at Hubby without consequences. Poor Hubby. He left therapy a little shell shocked. It is NOT easy to deal with Kitty on a tear and stay calm. I don't know how he stands being hated just for being male - he's had to deal with this a lot more than any man should have to! I had major abandonment issues and issues with men, our first dog was terrified of men, my sister is afraid of men (and she lived with us for several months), psycho ex-employee, and of course Bear and Kitty.