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!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Weighing in

Took my 5'9" fully grown 16 year old son to the psychiatrist. He weighed in at 210lbs. Out of curiosity I stepped on after him (didn't let him look). OMG I weigh 212! *sigh* I have NEVER weighed this much. Even 9 1/2 months pregnant after having gained 70lbs during my pregnancy I was still 7lbs less and I lost 20lbs the next day and 20 more pounds within the next 2 weeks(gave birth to Bob and most of it was water weight).

My sister's wedding is in 2 months. I'm Matron of Honor, and my little sister is... little. I already look freakishly tall next to her as she is only 5'3" and I'm 5'7". (This is my little sis and my niece and nephew).

I went to the doctor for a check up. Will find the results of my thyroid test soon, and need to be fasting for the rest of the tests. My doctor is very understanding about my stress levels. I told him that I was worried about not being able to stay on my meds consistantly, and he advised me that I should be able to go back on my meds full strength unless I'd been off them for more than a few days.

I mentioned how upset I was about my weight gain, and how frustrated I am that I can't sleep. He was very sweet and said he would like to see me lose 10-15lbs, but he wasn't going to give me a hard time about it (because I have enough stress). Of course I wouldn't mind losing 10-15lbs but would prefer losing 70-75! This is not a good weight for me, and no matter how many times I watch How To Look Good Naked (which is a great show by the way), feeling good about myself doesn't mean I don't need to lose the weight.

So I started South Beach yesterday. Now I've got to figure out how to start exercising. I'd love to take my fat dogs out walking, but the Husky (80+lbs) pulls so hard she's miserable to walk with.

My sweet fat Prince Cuddles blew his ACL again, and is limping (we can't afford to get it fixed right now) so no walks for him.

Princess, our "puppy" is so undisciplined... ah, who am I kidding...
it's COLD out there. I am NOT an outdoor person.

It's just going to have to be me and Richard.
I want to go from this -------------------------> back to this.
This is realistic I think. The picture on the right was after having two kids, and only 10 years ago.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why does he think like that?

In the comments a lot of you have asked why Hubby thinks the way he does about meds. Of course I wish I knew the answer to that question (not just about meds). Here's some of my rambling guesses:

I think it's because unlike kidney stones, diabetes, or broken legs, most mental illness can not be diagnosed with x-rays or definitive tests. Plus there is a continuum (mild to wild)... in other words it's all very subjective. Subjective doesn't make much sense to my husband who is a concrete thinker. You have an ear infection? You take this antibiotic. Done. You have your wisdom teeth removed, here's an antibiotic and some pain meds (he took the antibiotic, but not the pain meds).

There are no exact diagnostic and treatment steps, meds work for some at one dosage, but it takes double that for someone else or it doesn't work at all, even though two people are genetically related with the same illness. In addition to being frustrating, this makes it seem like it's all fake somehow?

With most illnesses you don't have anywhere near the same amount of input as to what med(s) you will take and how much. Aren't doctors supposed to just "know" all this? It's scary to have that much control over diagnoses and treatment when we know how little we know.

Most of the time we're told there is no med that will help treat something the kids have, like the C-PTSD. I think that it's untreatable makes it feel a little less "real."

The kids' diagnoses are so complex that no one or two methods/meds will treat them, but at the same time how can two kids who look so "normal" need all of those meds?! As they get older and have been in therapy for so long, should we be reducing their meds? Which ones? By how much?

Which diagnoses can you "recover/heal" from and which are life long? What if a diagnosis is wrong? (Does Bear really have ADHD?) What about the childhood disorder, RAD, that they will spontaneously heal from when they turn 18 (isn't that a miracle?!)? What does it mean when the child's diagnosis changes?

I've never been "officially" diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Unlike the kids I get my meds from my regular doctor and he basically took my word for it (although my therapist believes I have it as well). Most of my family has it, and going over my history, I've probably have had it my whole life.

It frustrates him that it often feels like we're throwing more and more meds at the issues (which he obviously already has problems with), and they're just not helping - at least in any obvious way. Sometimes the kids just seem to spontaneously get better or worse. Therapy takes so long to show any differences that it's hard to remember that it is having an effect. Life (stress, PTSD flareups, academics, friends, illness...) has a major effect on their behavior and issues too. Meds sometimes have an instant effect (but often not in a good way). There's been times where we thought a med was working, but later when we took the child off of it we realize it wasn't.

I think he worries we're "hypochondriac parents" (Munchhausen syndrome?) or treating our kids like guinea pigs.

Abusing the drugs is not a concern as much as are they worth the side effects? - like turning Bear into a zombie or me into a robot, the joint pain (did it cause permanent damage?), the tics, the weight loss or gain, sleepiness or sleeplessness, thirst, the bed wetting... who gets to decide if it's worth it? At one point the kids were even taking one med to counteract the side effects of another med.

OK, enough rambling. Going to bed now.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Car Conversations

Not to be confused with SUV therapy, 'cause we were in the van.

Bear missed the bus today. Totally not his fault because they came a little early today (yes, this is a sarcastic remark). We've only told his a hundred times that he needs to be dressed, ready to go and watching for the bus instead of coming out of the bathroom (45 minutes after he went in) and making the bus wait 5 minutes while he makes his lunch and does who knows what before he grabs his shoes and walks out of the house carrying most of his clothes. He is picked up in front of the house on the special ed bus because he can't be trusted on the regular ed one.

(Next post will most likely be about learner's permits - Bear still doesn't get why we won't let him get one).

So anyway, I got to drive him to school today. So I finished what I was doing and getting ready, and drove him to school. He was very tardy. Not my fault.

Since Bear rarely talks to me outside of therapy I decided to chat with him a little. I'd had a conversation with one of his teachers yesterday that truthfully concerned me greatly. She is seeing an increase in his fears for his own safety and general paranoia. He started talking about the people at school who are supposed to be watching out for him - spying on him, against him and after him. Obviously he's not going to be going to them for help. The teacher I spoke to has no knowledge or experience working with RAD or kids with trauma - which is probably why he's chosen her to confide in. *sigh*

I also discovered that he does know that he will not be able to join the military due to his bipolar diagnosis. Apparently Hubby mentioned it awhile back and forgot to tell me. Hubby says it came out in long conversation and he just forgot. Bear and I talked about other alternatives.

Bear said he now wanted to focus on football. Great, another reason for him to be mad at me for not allowing him to participate in sports after school.

We talked about how good he is with special needs kids and he mentioned he might want to be a caseworker for an adoption agency. I encouraged this.

We talked about the girl who's mom was going to rent an apartment for a bunch of teens. Turns out the girl's mom kicked her out when she turned 18 instead. I told Bear I think that is heinous. I said as long as a kid is following the rules and going to school I think they should be able to stay with their parents for as long as they need to, and he said that's how he felt too (he'd never do that to his kids - yes, I noticed he was back to planning on having kids). I said that you don't stop being parents just because a kid turns 18, or 28 or 38! I also pointed out that Kitty will be 19 when she graduates and I do not plan to kick her out either.

All in all it was a pretty good conversation.

Will be interesting to see if this relatively new paranoia is something the psychiatrist can help with. Bear has an appointment tomorrow evening.

Monday, January 25, 2010

More on Medication

Hubby grew up in a 'don't take meds or see a doctor unless you're dying' household. He rarely even takes a Tylenol for a headache, and will only take an allergy med if he's completely miserable (for those of you who don't know, if you don't have allergies when you come to TX, TX will give them to you). Hubby cannot imagine taking meds for the rest of your life.

I grew up with a mom who was a doctor's daughter and in a military family (meaning we were human guinea pigs, but seeing a doctor was always free).  So I'm more likely to go to the doctor.  I take medication for a headache only if someone forces me to (luckily I rarely get headaches), or if a fever is at least over 103, if I'm so stuffed up I'm drowning, or if I have an infection... but I've been willing to take meds for my bipolar disorder when needed (which was usually when I'm under uber stress - like raising 2 kids with RAD and teens in general, but now that I'm in a stable place I'm trying again to see if it helps with stress and anxiety.)

I have 2 kids with major trauma and mental illnesses. They take meds for their bipolar disorder, and the one with severe ADHD takes meds for that too.  Hubby doesn't have a lot of problems with these (although he hates the sheer number of meds they take and the thought that they have to take them for the rest of their lives), but most of their major issues cannot be "fixed" by medication (C-PTSD, RAD...), and are trauma based not biologically based.

Experts say some symptoms (like insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, irritability...) can be alleviated, even though it doesn't cure or effect the actual diagnoses (like trauma based issues).  I'm all for medicating those too, because in my opinion you can't work on healing trauma if you can't sleep, focus, sit still, react normally to external stimuli (like someone saying, "you dropped jelly on the counter," which, in my opinion, should not trigger a screaming rage but has)...

So in the past Hubby's opinion was that I have allowed the kids to be over-medicated. I disagree. They are on lots of meds, but it took time to find the right meds and good combinations that worked for their individual body chemistry. They are already taking fewer meds than they did 2 years ago. I think a lot of this is due to the fact that they could focus on internal healing when their outside world didn't feel totally chaotic. (I hope it goes without saying that we are not addressing anyone's needs and issues with ONLY medications).

I think it's like surgically inserting a pin in the leg of someone with a shattered bone and giving them a crutch, a cast and major pain meds. The cast keeps things stable while the body works on mending and healing. The crutch helps them be able to do the things they would normally be able to do if they hadn't broken the leg (like walk and go to school). The pin is necessary to give the remaining bones something to heal around. There is scientific evidence that the body heals better when it is not in pain so you need the pain meds.

Some drugs are casts and crutches and will not be needed down the road. Other drugs are like the pin and the body wouldn't work without them. I will not allow my children to be drugged into zombies, and when the child is stable I will start looking at lessening or removing their meds (or amping up therapy treatment) - for as long as they continue to make progress healing.

Hubby obviously sees meds differently - maybe more like an engineer?
He feels it is possible to heal most things without medication. If you're "strong enough." You could use alternate methods to mend a broken leg that weren't as invasive or long term as a pin. You don't have to get up and move around so a crutch isn't totally necessary. Legs don't have to be straight to work so a cast isn't required either. We've all heard of "that guy" who was able to drag himself off a mountain and survive with 2 broken legs, 2 broken arms and nothing but a toothpick and a breath mint...

Hubby has probably been clinically depressed more than once in his life (although he'd never see a therapist or a doctor), but he survives without meds. He was diagnosed with GIRD and Allergic Rhinitis (not as bad as it sounds and has nothing to do with rhinoceroses although he coughs like one), but he ignores them and lives without meds (except for the occasional Tums). I don't know if it's a good thing that he's been depressed and know how it feels or a bad thing because he handles it without meds.

Most importantly, mental illness, especially non-biologically based illnesses like C-PTSD and RAD, in addition to not responding well to meds, are not like strep, diabetes, pneumonia or something where you see the results of taking or not taking meds.

Meds don't work the same for everyone. I tried Lexapro (recently mentioned in a comment by someone it works well for) and it was HORRIBLE for me! True, I was not feeling the overwhelming stress anymore, but I also didn't feel ANYthing! I was like a robot (and robots do not "cuddle" if you know what I mean). Plus, I started having horrible side effects that got even worse as I went off the med (which apparently is common - this is one scary drug). Bear tried Vyvanse which caused a horrible reaction for him (gastro-intestinal issues, tics, nausea, dizziness...).  Abilify worked like a miracle drug for Kitty, and didn't do diddly squat for me.

In recent news there've been lots of articles about children being over medicated in foster care.  Here's what I think:

Higher Likelihood of Serious Issues
I think one reason we see a high rate of prescription drugs for our kids is there is such a prevalence of mental illness in foster kids. I've seen a lot of "like attracting like" among my kids and other kids in the foster care/ mental health care system (can you say Kleenex girls?). 2 parents with bipolar disordered (or alcoholic or emotionally disturbed or whatever) often means scary genetics for the child. Plus, being raised by a mentally ill parent, frequently leads to abuse as well.  All leading back to children ending up in foster care.

Not only is my children's birth mother mentally ill, which was passed on to my children (bipolar disorder, ADD/ ADHD, GAD, Borderline Personality Disorder, insomnia...),
but they also have brain injuries (from unknown or multiple causes - genetic, FASD, injury during abuse...),
were most likely "pickled" in the "toxic soup" of anxiety hormones, drugs and alcohol in utero,
and then there's the trauma stuff causing PTSD, RAD, and night terrors,.
add in the genetics of their respective biodads (Like Attracts Like - )
... you get the idea.

Alleviating Symptoms
I know a lot of times there is a huge resistance to giving children meds, and while I agree that there are times some foster children are over medicated, I also believe that it often means kids are struggling and they can't heal if they feel like they are existing as though they are in the middle of a war zone or they are struggling with basic coping skills, unable to function.

In my opinion, you can't work on healing trauma if you can't sleep, focus, sit still, react normally to external stimuli (like someone saying, "you dropped jelly on the counter," which, in my opinion, should not trigger a screaming rage but has)...

Medication Cocktails
The article makes a big deal about kids taking more than one of the same type of medication. I know that for bipolar people, taking two or more different mood stabilizers is frequently recommended to stabilize the person. Especially when there are multiple diagnoses, it can take a med cocktail to help the child stabilize, and unfortunately our body chemistries are unique, and with growth and puberty added in... well one can necessarily feel like a human guinea pig.

Finding the right "cocktail" took years of experimenting as everyone's body is different and changes over time (especially as they enter puberty). Sometimes a new diagnoses was recognized or started (many mental illnesses have adolescent onset). Sometimes meds stopped working. Sometimes better ones came on the market. Sometimes that issue healed and they didn't need a particular med any more.

Sleep Meds
My kids suffer from PTSD (like most kids of trauma) and sleep is HARD! If you don't get enough sleep, then you can't learn in school and it's harder to control your emotions - sleep deprivation is a common form of torture! If you're living in a war zone in your head (PTSD), or you can't focus (due to ADHD), then you aren't learning (my kids have HUGE gaps in their education). If you're struggling with depression or anger (bipolar, RAD, mood disorder NOS, ODD...) then you're so busy fighting or coping that you can't learn the developmental lessons or how to get along in a family.

I'm not recommending we drug our kids into zombies (although we did have to do that once for a short period of time to keep our son and family safe while we waited for a bed to open up in an RTC), and yes, there are some nasty side effects from medications that aren't tested on children... but without meds, my children would have been virtually unadoptable and my son would have ended up dead (self-medicating with drugs, gang life, suicide...) or in juvie many years ago.

Years of the right medications gave my son time to mature, learn, and attain coping skills... When he decided to stop taking his medications at 18, he learned very quickly that he needed them, but I also believe that the consequences of his actions off the meds were much less severe because of that time of growing/ healing.

Proper Diagnosis and Medication
When our kids came to us, they weren't properly diagnosed or medicated.  Bear was diagnosed with PTSD, mood disorder NOS and possible conduct disorder.  Kitty was diagnosed with ADHD (unmedicated for some unknown reason - possibly because it killed her appetite and she was underweight already), ODD and "attachment issues" (which the caseworker claimed couldn't be true, because she was such a loving child who always hugged the caseworker - typical RAD), and learning disabilities.

After we'd known them for long enough to get an accurate psych eval, they were diagnosed with:

Bipolar Disorder (which apparently they'd been diagnosed with before entering foster care and had been removed for some reason - possibly because many doctors don't believe in child-onset bipolar, or maybe because it made them seem less adoptable, but if the latter was the case then they sure left a LOT of other stuff in!),
Reactive Attachment Disorder (I asked their therapist from foster care why this wasn't seen before and she claimed not to have seen it - it's possible that in previous foster homes no one had tried to bond with them),
ADD/ADHD - Kitty was already diagnosed with this, but now Bear is as well.
Brain injuries (cerebral dysrhythmia - strongly effecting memory and processing), which is probably tied into Kitty's learning disabilities, but for Kitty also effects her emotions.
Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,
Emerging personality disorders.

The discrepancy was huge, their medications were all wrong, the kids were raging and miserable, and their "misbehavior" had made a mess of their lives.  I won't say medications fixed all their problems, but... without it I know we couldn't have adopted Bear - he wasn't safe, and Kitty has come SOOOO far with her healing that she couldn't have done without alleviating some of her symptoms through medication.


To help with finding the right Medication Cocktail (since what each person needs is specific to their body chemistry, diagnoses, trauma, current situation - under unusual stress?, and even personality) each individual can often feel like a human guinea pig. We preferred the kids to be in a psychiatric hospital or residential treatment center during this process, because it can be quite scary.

My kids are bio half sibs with identical diagnoses and they still needed different meds. Some meds stop working after a time. Some work best in combination with others (Abilify is a good example of this). Kids/peoples needs can also change as they hit puberty or have a growth spurt, experience new trauma or begin healing, are under great stress (ex. exams and major life changes like divorce, moves, new siblings, relationship issues...)

GeneSight is a genetic testing company which for a cheek swab and a maximum of $200 (It's sliding scale) will report which meds are unlikely to be metabolized well, which are not likely to work, and which are likely to cause problems.  I have not personally tried it (I found out about it after we found the right meds for my kids), but it's been highly recommended to me.   

Friday, January 22, 2010

Making Tea Cups

There was a couple who took a trip to England to shop in a beautiful antique store to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. They both liked antiques and pottery, and especially teacups. Spotting an exceptional cup, they asked, "May we see that? We've never seen a cup quite so beautiful."

As the lady handed it to them, suddenly the teacup spoke, "You don't understand. I have not always been a teacup There was a time when I was just a lump of red clay. My master took me and rolled me, pounded and patted me over and over and I yelled out, "Don't do that. "I don't like it! Leave me alone," but he only smiled, and gently said, "Not yet!"

Then WHAM! I was placed on a spinning wheel and suddenly I was spun around and around and around. "Stop it! I'm getting so dizzy! I'm going to be sick!," I screamed. But the master only nodded and said quietly. 'Not yet.'

He spun me and poked and prodded and bent me out of shape to suit himself and then he put me in the oven. I never felt such heat. I yelled and knocked and pounded at the door. "Help! Get me out of here!" I could see him through the opening and I could read his lips as he shook his head from side to side, 'Not yet'.

When I thought I couldn't bear it another minute, the door opened. He carefully took me out and put me on the shelf, and I began to cool. Oh, that felt so good! "Ah, this is much better," I thought.

But after I cooled he picked me up and he brushed and painted me all over. The fumes were horrible. I thought I would gag. "Oh, please, stop it, stop," I cried. He only shook his head and said. 'Not yet!'

Then suddenly he put me back in to the oven. Only it was not like the first one.. This was twice as hot and I just knew I would suffocate. I begged. I pleaded. I screamed. I cried. I was convinced I would never make it. I was ready to give up.

Just then the door opened and he took me out and again placed me on the shelf where I cooled and waited and waited, wondering "What's he going to do to me next?"

An hour later he handed me a mirror and said 'Look at yourself.' And I did. I said, "That's not me; that couldn't be me. It's beautiful. I'm beautiful!!!"

Quietly he spoke: 'I want you to remember, then,' he said, 'I know it hurt to be rolled and pounded and patted, but had I just left you alone, you'd have dried up.

I know it made you dizzy to spin around on the wheel, but if I had stopped, you would have crumbled.

I know it hurt and it was hot and disagreeable in the oven, but if I hadn't put you there, you would have cracked.

I know the fumes were bad when I brushed and painted you all over, but if I hadn't done that, you never would have hardened. You would not have had any color in your life.

If I hadn't put you back in that second oven, you wouldn't have survived for long because the hardness would not have held. Now you are a finished product. Now you are what I had in mind when I first began with you.'

The moral of this story is this:

God knows what He's doing for each of us. He is the potter, and we are His clay. He will mold us and make us and expose us to just enough pressures of just the right kinds that we may be made into a flawless piece of work to fulfill His good, pleasing and perfect will.

So when life seems hard, and you are being pounded and patted and pushed almost beyond endurance; when your world seems to be spinning out of control; when you feel like you are in a fiery furnace of trials; when life seems to "stink", try this:

Brew a cup of your favorite tea in your prettiest tea cup, sit down and think on this story and then, have a little talk with the Potter.


I wouldn't dream of comparing myself to the Potter, but I do think that in some ways He created me to be a tool he uses to help shape my children, His teacups.

In those discussions with Him, I hope He will help me gently say, "Not yet," when they complain and ask me to stop.

I know that my children are going to be beautiful tea cups!


Mrs. Potts
(Yes, I think of myself as a teapot instead of a tea cup, because God used a little extra clay when he made me! *grin*)

"I'm a little teapot

short and stout.

Here is my handle.

Here is my spout.

When I get all steamed up,

hear me SHOUT!

Just tip me over

and pour me out."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Medications and stress

When Hubby calmed down and came back downstairs after me telling him I'd let my mom pay for a business expense and my meds, we talked about me being on meds. I know Hubby doesn't like meds. He rarely even takes a Tylenol for a headache. The thought of being on meds long-term is hard for him, and when the kids were taking 10-15 pills a day it really bothered him.

I know Hubby doesn't like the idea of me taking lots of meds or increasing my meds. I also know it bothers him to hear about me sobbing or being miserable. I think Hubby feels that because I was doing OK without meds before we got the kids that I don't really have Bipolar disorder. Or that's it's controllable by willpower or something. I know he generalizes this to the kids' issues too.

Gotta admit, this ticks me off a little. I've struggled with depression my whole life. Most of the time I've been able to handle it without meds, unless under severe stress like final exams or, I don't know, having 2 emotionally disturbed kids and a teenage daughter with a business that is struggling and a husband who hates his job?! When the kids are out of the house, assuming I do not find another way to add stress to my life (I'm probably addicted to it), then we can talk about reducing or removing my meds).

Sometimes I think I wait too long to take meds and that I could be a lot happier. I don't want to take "happy pills," but why should I and my family suffer because of this stupid disorder if I can find a med that takes the edge off without side effects. I don't like living on the edge like this, just because I'm not suicidal.

Hubby said he wanted to alleviate MY stress by getting rid of the business. That really ticked me off! My stress does not come from the business. This company needs only an hour or two a day from me and I can spend the rest of the time dealing with the kids. The only way getting rid of the company would alleviate my stress is that it would alleviate Hubby's stress as he tries to continue to deal with a full-time job and the business, and while granted that is important - it is also short-sighted.

I asked him about filing bankruptcy, but since most of the debt is from buying the business it is personal debt so if the company declares bankruptcy it wouldn't help. Now that Hubby has a good paying job, if we declare personal bankruptcy then most likely the company would have to be sold to pay off the debts. Although the company is not making money now, it is the only way to get out of this hole - unless Hubby wants to work at this job that makes him miserable for the next 10 years.

I also pointed out that while I am obviously not dealing well with life right now, I'm also OFF MY MEDS! And I'm yo yoing back and forth off and on them - half doses or none at all if I can't afford them. Even if I didn't need them this would be messing me up. If I can remember back that far I think we've finally found the right combo and dosages and was on a pretty even keel and handling life. All I need to do is get back to that.

So if my last few posts are rambling, TMI, or I sound mentally unstable I apologize.
I'll take two pills and call you in the morning.

The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

Warning: Major venting below. Read at your own risk.

It felt like the day was totally awful, but I have to admit it had it's good moments too.

Bad: Bob wanted to get up early so she could use a borrowed Instyler to straighten her hair (Grandma this link takes you to one I found for $40 with free shipping and handling). The bad part was the "EARLY," since I didn't sleep much the night before.

Good: I got to spend 20 minutes with Bob casually talking as I straightened her hair. Yea, mommy daughter time! The Instyler worked great by the way! She thinks it might be worth getting up 20 minutes early every day! *sigh* Since I don't sleep, and was never a morning person anyway, this is not really great news.Here's Bob with her straightened hair. This morning Bob came to my bathroom to use the Instyler one last time before she returned it. She was wearing a completely inappropriate top - which I told her was unacceptable 2 days before. She refused to change. After the day from heck, I allowed this to escalate. She called me a B^tthead, and refused to change or give me her cell phone (- cell phones are a privilege for responsible kids only). I had to have Hubby handle it because she would not do what I told her. I hate that.

Bad: Kitty forgot to take her morning meds again and when I brought them to her at school I didn't do as threatened and wear my infamous tie dye outfit so now she thinks I'm full of hooey. (I may not look as great as this guy, but it would definitely get me on People of Wal-mart if I wore the right oh so wrong, boots or socks and sandals!

Bad: I called the pharmacy to see if Hubby's information was in with our new insurance agency so I could fill my prescription and get a doctor's appointment so I could get refills on the other. It had only been a day that I was off the second one cold turkey, but I've been off the anti-depressant for a few weeks. My sweet mom had offered to pay, but I can't get anymore without the doctor's appointment. The insurance company still had no record of us (Hubby started work on the 4th). I've been bugging Hubby, but he was too busy.

Worse: So I go to the pharmacy and tell them I need to pick up my prescription and get a refill on Kitty's med (free with Medicaid - did I mention I'm still upset with Hubby for not giving me the info I needed to get the rest of the family on Medicaid months ago?). The pharmacy lady couldn't multi-task and never let me finish a sentence so it was taking forever. Hubby had pointed out a while back that with some discount card a pharmacy lady (not this one!) had helped me find that my prescription didn't cost much more than the insurance copay anyway, and the insurance could reimburse me. Plus this insurance policy only allows $500/year for prescriptions for the WHOLE family total! So I figured I'd save that money for later. (It also only allows 5 doctor visits for the whole family for the whole year - NOT each, the WHOLE family!). Needless to say, we did not put Kitty and Bear on this insurance plan.

Awful: While I'm trying to communicate with this moronic confused pharmacy lady, who can't find the discount information. Hubby calls on my cell. He's starts fussing at me because:

1. I'm supposed to be at work with a check for a guy who was supposed to pick it up at 10am (It's 10:15). I forgot.

2. He needs me to tell the guy that the check won't be good until Friday (I hate confrontation and telling people this kind of stuff).

3. Didn't I get his e-mail that we couldn't afford for me to pick up my prescriptions now? (Nope)

4. Hubby needs me to go home and get his laptop in case he needs to call someone - the numbers are all on his computer.

5. While I'm leaving the pharmacy drive thru my phone rings, but I can't find it under my briefcase and all the pharmacy paperwork. The number doesn't allow callbacks so even though I assume it's the guy I'm supposed to meet at the office, there's nothing I can do about it.

6. Hurry, hurry, hurry!

Terrible: By the time I get home I was very upset. I'm overwhelmed, stressed out, can't go any longer without meds, and feel like Hubby yelled at me (yes, I knew it was just my perception, but it still felt that way. This is one reason I have so much sympathy for Kitty). I knew my mom would help out with the med situation and I needed someone to vent to, so I called my mommy. Instantly the tears welled up. Does this happen to you? I remember being in a car accident as a teenager and handling everything just fine, including talking to the police and helping my friend who was driving, but the minute I got near the phone to call home I started bawling.

Could be worse: I'd taken a half dose of my meds when I got home (I hadn't taken it because I thought I'd take a full dose from the new bottle), but it hadn't kicked in yet. Poor Mom. Once she figured out what I was saying, through the sobs, she offered to help. More than what I was asking for (which was "just" paying for the med). I finally went to work after I got control, picked up the laptop, and cleaned up my eye makeup (I rarely wear mascara so of course I'd picked this day since I needed a little pick me up - do certain outfits and makeup make you feel better or is that just me?).

Better: Mom met me there. I gave the check to the guy (he called back and I told him I'd meet him), quickly talked to the staff about some things that couldn't wait, and ran out of the building (the staff noticed I was upset, but they didn't press why). Mom and I went to a nearby cafe and I poured out my woes. She reads my blog and is with me every day after school, but she let me go ahead and vent.

Not too bad: Back at work I hid in my office and mostly read blogs and e-mail. I lost track of time and was running late to pick up the girls from school. Of course I was out of gas. Luckily Mom could pick up the girls for me.

Darn: When I got home I talked to the wonderful neighbor who loaned Bob the Instyler and picks up my youngest on Tuesdays and Thursdays so Grandma can get a break. Turns out Ponito had arranged to help out after school on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which I knew and had fussed at him about changing to these new days, but he assured me this neighbor didn't mind coming back for him. Wrong! She's got a carload full of kids and this is really inconvenient for her. Sorry Neighbor! Sorry Grandma!

Deep breath: Kitty is upset because Grandma got upset about all the Root Beer Float fixin's disappearing in a New York minute, and mentioned it in the car in front of the girls' friends. Everyone accuses Bear of having finished it off and taking the sodas to school this morning. Bear gets huffy and denies it (true as far as I can tell, but I wasn't policing the stuff).
Grr: Bear's got detention again. He says it's because he drank his Raspberry Tea (stored in a Root Bear container) during class. This was not his fault because the water wasn't working at school (true!), and he was thirsty. Can you say faulty logic? Bear, why didn't you wait until later to drink something? It's not like you didn't have anything to drink all day like the rest of the kids. Of course this morning I had to call the school and find out how much of this story was true. That's when I found out he's not supposed to take anything but water to school, but after a few times of checking to make sure there was no alcohol in them, everyone has been letting him get away with it. I will find out this afternoon for sure what the detention was for - he apparently has been getting detention slips! No more guesswork or investigating needed (well, except he'll probably claim he lost it). Wish I'd known earlier they sent these home with the child.

Arrgh: Kitty has therapy so she's always more upset on therapy days than usual. Grandma was late, so we were late to therapy - I hate being late (love ya Mom!). Before we left for therapy and after Kitty finally came inside from her longer than usual walking in circles in the backyard talking to herself - telling her it was time to do chores caused screaming. Telling her that she still hadn't done them, or if she had they were done so poorly I couldn't tell... was also not popular.
Kitty hates kitchen duty. It's "the hardest room in the house." It doesn't matter to her that EVERYone has a hard room too; that SHE makes the biggest mess in the kitchen; that this is what works best logistically for her and my 3 other kids; that if she did the chore twice a week like she was supposed to it wouldn't be that bad (caked on, dried on, smelly...); that she begged for a hard room so she could get full chores, full allowance and therefore full privileges...
Ironically, throughout the whole therapy session, she was trying to convince me or make me let her read the second Twilight book. How she can handle it now, and that I never give her a chance. I know she's not mature enough to understand this, but begging, yelling and trying to guilt me into letting her read the book while at the same time complaining about not being able to do a simple chore is NOT going to convince me.
At therapy I decided I'd think about letting her switch chores to another room, but the more I think about it, the more I don't think that's a good idea. For one thing it's not fair to the other child. For another, she really needs to learn how to clean a kitchen! I think what I'll do is spread the chore out over several days instead. Mop and sweep one day. Wipe down the stove top another. Wipe the kitchen cabinet faces on a third. Maybe breaking it into baby steps will make a difference.
Hhmm: Kitty had an IEP meeting. They praised how well she was doing in every subject. Kitty tried to handle it, but I do think this was partial cause of later behavior. Lots of nervous laughter and her face got bright red.
Bad: Kitty had several phone calls with a boy (we have a 10 minute phone call limit so they talked to each other about 3 times). He apparently told her that he liked her, even said he loved her... one reason he gave is because she's unnattainable (she had to ask what that meant). I could tell she was getting nervous, upset and agitated. I had her get off the phone and step away. Of course I didn't find out what was going on until later.
I was told Kitty was boy crazy when she came to us. I never saw it. She's had many obsessions over movie stars, and recently has developed some crushes on boys, but now that all boys her age are bigger than her and look like men - she's terrified of them! So I'm not terribly worried on that front, but... she is very effected by peer pressure. Her little brother found out she liked a boy and threatened to tell the boy she like him if she didn't. So Kitty called the boy (the boy said he knew she liked him - but he didn't say anything in return about his feelings).
Kitty is upset now because she found out the boy she likes is into drugs and this bothers her a lot, but when one of her friends dared her to ask the boy out... she did it. The boy knew it was a dare and said no, so she felt relief, but she would have gone out with him (Ok, not really because I wouldn't have let her, but my point is Kitty is very susceptible to peer pressure).
Yuck: This morning Kitty was so upset about the boy liking her and not wanting to lose his friendship that she vomited. She still wanted to go to school though. We had a brief conversation about the fact that he already knows she doesn't like him that way so whether or not the friendship continues has nothing to do with what she says or does now, and some things she could say, and that seemed to reassure her.
D*mn: When Hubby got home from work I was nervous. I knew he wasn't going to be happy I borrowed more money from my parents. It's why I hadn't called him all day despite knowing he'd be angsting over it. I was right. He got upset and disappeared upstairs for about an hour. *sigh*
The Worst: to be continued since this post is already too long!!

Amazing talent

I will post regarding your comments, but I had to share this. Do NOT watch without a box of tissues.

This video shows the winner of 2009’s " Ukraine ’s Got Talent", Kseniya Simonova, 24, drawing a series of pictures on an illuminated sand table showing how ordinary people were affected by the German invasion during World War II. Her talent, which admittedly is a strange one, is mesmeric to watch.

The images, projected onto a large screen, moved many in the audience to tears and she won the top prize of about $75,000.

She begins by creating a scene showing a couple sitting holding hands on a bench under a starry sky, but then warplanes appear and the happy scene is obliterated.

It is replaced by a woman’s face crying, but then a baby arrives and the woman smiles again. Once again war returns and Miss Simonova throws the sand into chaos from which a young woman’s face appears.

She quickly becomes an old widow, her face wrinkled and sad, before the image turns into a monument to an Unknown Soldier.

This outdoor scene becomes framed by a window as if the viewer is looking out on the monument from within a house.

In the final scene, a mother and child appear inside and a man standing outside, with his hands pressed against the glass, saying goodbye.

The Great Patriotic War, as it is called in Ukraine , resulted in one in four of the population being killed with eight to 11 million deaths out of a population of 42 million.

An art critic said:"I find it difficult enough to create art using paper and pencils or paintbrushes, but using sand and fingers is beyond me. The art, especially when the war is used as the subject matter, even brings some audience members to tears. And there’s surely no bigger compliment."

Click here to watch this brilliant performance

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Our Song"

This is the chorus to what Hubby and I consider "our song." I think once you read it, you'll understand why we're perfect for each other... and I hope you won't totally lose respect for me (assuming you respected me to begin with of course! *grin*)

You may be right
I may be crazy
But it just may be a lunatic you're looking for
Turn out the light
Don't try to save me
You may be wrong for all I know
But you may be right

You May Be Right - Song Lyrics
Originally performed by Billy Joel

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Treated like a teen

I never know whether or not to treat Bear like a teenage boy, since developmentally he’s sooo much younger. Treating Kitty like her developmental age works for her. She feels safer and loved with more structure and attention.

People wouldn’t tell a 6 year old, you have a right to watch a PG-13 movie or be able to wander the mall or park by yourself, but developmentally delayed teens get told, “You’re parents are sooo mean!” “You should run away.” “That’s not fair.”

People don’t give Kitty as much of a hard time about this. Maybe because it’s obvious she really can’t handle teenage life, or because she’s female, or because most of her friends also have mega issues so probably have similar restrictions, or maybe because she ignores it or lets it go because she knows she can't really handle it… I don’t know. Kitty seems no less content than any other kid her developmental age. I remember wanting to be a teenager at this age too. Just like other kids this age though, I didn't really expect to get it. I'd probably have been terrified.

I think one reason Bear acts the way he does is because he’s caught in between. He is scared… all… the… time. Because of his looks though he’s being treated like an adult (well at least an older teen) even by us, his family. He’s looked like an adult since he was chronologically 11 or 12 (he's only 12 in the picture at the top - he was already 5'9" and 200+lbs). He’s not given the luxury of acting like his developmental age. He’s constantly being put in situations he can’t handle.

Everyone wants to treat Bear as though he's about to walk out of the house and live as an adult. He never got a chance to be a kid. Biomom called him her "Little Man." Kids with traumatic histories usually don't learn by example or from role models. As Katharine Leslie put it, it's like we're dropping them into a play in which they're the star, but they don't know their lines or what's going on. With our neurotypical kids, they watch others and figure things out. With kids of trauma, they don't have that ability.

I keep hearing, he's going to be out of the house soon, he's got to know how to take care of himself. I keep replying, we've only got a couple of years left to let him act like a kid. He needs to crawl before he can run. I think he needs to be kept safe and protected, like we would a younger child. Forcing him to grow up faster is NOT WORKING ANYWAY! But instead I come across as an overprotective control freak.

I admit I'm overprotective. Unlike Hubby who grew up in the rural Midwest, I grew up in big cities. I worry about everything for my kids - drugs, alcohol, pedophiles, murderers.... My mom was over protective. We weren't allowed to say cr*p or d*rn or even g*h (substitute word for God). My parents didn't drink (Mom was a teetotaler, Dad was supposedly an alcoholic) so I was told that if I drank I might become an alcoholic too. I rebelled a little, and when I went off to college I cussed a lot. I didn't drink much, but only because I hated feeling out of control. During undergrad I got it out of my system and went back to the values I'd learned.

Yes, I'm overprotective with Bob too, and I know she'll rebel. I also know that she'll eventually find her moral compass. My adoped kids don't have a history of those moral values. Apparently I'm the only one who thinks that I should force the kids to comply with our morals and standards. We do that without thinking about it for younger kids. We tell little kids, where to go, what to do, and how to do it.

I hate this. It seems like Hubby and I have a variation on this argument all the time now. I feel like that Earth Girl's Are Easy quote (yes, I know it's really a "Rebel Without a Cause" quote, but I never saw that movie!).
"You're tearing me apart! You say one thing, he says another, and everybody
changes back."

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mysterious ways

This afternoon I just felt the need to play hooky, and I own my own company which isn't doing a lot of business right now so I decided to do some retail therapy. I headed over to S*lv*tion *rmy. As I greeted the Assistant Manager, who outrageously flirts with me every time (to the point I get a little uncomfortable, but I'm not naturally rude - and subtle hasn't worked - plus the discounts he gives me help a lot), he was checking out a customer who mentioned she was finalizing her daughter's adoption next week.

Of course we started talking (I am a total extrovert and she said the magic word - adoption!). Would you believe we talked 2 hours?! The woman was so focused on talking to me that she stopped handing the manager her items to ring up. I kept waiting for her to go back to handing him stuff and she just didn't. I finally reached out and handed him a couple of her items! Someone walked up to be checked out and she finally (with prompting from me and the manager) completed the transaction! That's when we moved out of the way and finished our conversation. The only bad part was I didn't have time to shop and I was a little late picking up the girls, but it was fun.

She is adopting an older child from residential treatment. This woman had actually heard of RAD from her adoption agency (I'm so jealous!) and knew what she was getting into (inasmuch as any of us ever do). Her daughter had every diagnosis my kids have and was on a ton of medications, but the "ending" to her story is different than ours. She took her daughter off all the meds (appropriately I'm sure!) and loved her. While assuredly her daughter had had a rough childhood, she is not RAD, or bipolar or ADHD or any of the other diagnoses she had been given.

Apparently the adoptive family who had taken in the girl and her siblings only wanted the younger siblings, so they scapegoated the girl to such an extent that she was placed in residential treatment. While she was there, the family adopted the younger siblings and informed the girl they would not be adopting her.

The lady and I exchanged phone numbers. It will be interesting to see if a friendship forms. She's not a computer person, which of course I am, and I'm going to have to work on stopping assuming she's judging me for accepting my children's diagnoses and having them on multiple meds.

What a character! Thanks God for crossing our paths!


Did I mention I'm addicted to my computer? I counted the number of blogs on my Google Reader today, and despite recent weedouts, I have 77 blogs in my reader, am on 10 separate e-mail list serves (Yahoo groups) some of which are extremely prolific, and belong to 2 forums I read regularly, and get tons of e-mail! No wonder it feels like I'm always on my computer!


Guess I better head to bed. I haven't slept much in weeks and it's probably why I've allowed myself to get so focused on my computer. I can't wait until our health insurance kicks in!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bob quip

"Hey Mom, did you know that there is a law school less than 30 minutes from here?"

"Oh, really?"

"Yea, it's called the University of Texas Law School."

"Umm, honey, you do realize that's UT?" (held up the UT hand sign)


Hook em horns!

In her defense (no pun intended) we never call it the University of Texas. We just say things like Mom got both her degrees at UT. Dad's MBA is from UT. My nephew is wearing a UT jacket...
Yes we teased her unmercifully about this for several days, but she's my neurotypical child, she can handle it.

Life after High School - Shopping misadventures

Words of advice. NEVER EVER go "pretend" grocery shopping with: more than one kid, teenagers, a child who is not a teenager and therefore not really interested in teenage stuff, after a long day at school, when 2 have RAD, when ADD/ADHD meds have worn off, when you have different genders so they want to stare at different stuff (cosmetics took forever!), when one child has to be somewhere in an hour (luckily it was the youngest and Hubby came and got him), when you just forced them to really finish their chores (but Mooommmm, I'll do that when I get back. I already did that. I just can't make the broom do it like you did. Grandma says that's OK. No one else did theirs. I'll do this part, but you can't make me do anymore...), when most of them didn't bother to eat snack and now they are STARVING, when they ALL think this is stupid, when one of them is not academically capable of doing her share (and then wanders off while you do all her writing), when you have real grocery shopping to do too...
I spent over $300 because I was too focused on them to pay attention to my shopping, AND we were there almost 3 HOURS! The whining is still ringing in my ears.

So if you decide to try this, and I do still think it's important by the way, here's my recommendation: while they do all need their own list so they can see how much their purchases will cost them individually... for the actual shopping trip use a master list and view this as a "group project." If someone decides to splurge on a more expensive version, they can note that on their individual list. This will save time, energy, fussing at kids wandering off, and you can have another discussion later, much, much later, when they enter the information on their individual sheets.
There were some funny moments.
You should have seen the girls' faces when I told them they had to actually look at the feminine hygeine products (they went to the end of the aisle and looked at toys and made little sidelong glances instead).
I had to remind Ponito that even though he didn't need it now, when he moved out at age 18 he'd be shaving so he needed to price that as well. He attacked that aisle like a research project.
Watching the girls get antsier and antsier at not being allowed to answer their texting friends was pretty hilarious (well, for me anyway). I'd had to forbid cell phones because they spent most of their time texting instead of shopping and the trip was already taking forever.

Even though Bear "already knew" the cost of condoms, I suggested he verify it. He was pushing the cart which had Ponito in it, and tried to talk Ponito into adding condoms to his list. Ponito, being 10, just looked at Bear like he was crazy.
Bear of course got little or nothing out of the trip. He "already knew" how much everything cost. I think I need to find a way to make this project a little more real to get through to him. Suggestions?
At least we still have time. Haven't told Bear that yet though.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Life after high school - moving out

Currently Bear is under the impression that here in Texas he can move out when he turns 17. We've been talking about the fact that he still wouldn't be able to do anything that involves contracts (rent an apartment, buy a car, register for school, etc.), but he thinks he's gotten around this because he claims the mom of a female friend plans to rent an apartment for a bunch of teens. He would get a job within walking distance and continue to go to school.

I haven't told Bear yet, but I spent most of Sunday night (up till 3am!) researching this and what I found out is that NO Bear cannot legally move out when he is 17. We can (and would) report him as a runaway and the police are legally obligated to return him to us (by force if necessary - children are technically like property in this sense!). If he becomes a chronic runaway he can get in trouble with the court.

If he does as suggested and moves in with this girl and her mom (if an adult doesn't live there then I think she is breaking the terms of her lease) then the mom can be charged with harboring a runaway, or if he is doing any of the things I'm assuming he plans to (sex, drugs, alcohol...), then she could be charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The only ways he can legally "get away from us" before age 18 are:

  • If we choose to find a competent, legal adult who is willing to be his legal guardian (in other words he is still a child just with another adult legally responsible for him).

  • If we allow him to marry or join the military. Neither of which are going to happen!

  • If he chooses to become emancipated.

Becoming emancipated is not an option for Bear. He has to prove the ability to live on his own, or at least not with an adult relative supporting him. Among other things this means he has to find a job and make a living wage. Most importantly though he has to show that there is a reason our parental rights should be removed. Which is pretty much impossible since we're good parents.

Should be interesting to see how he takes this. I have legal documents to back me up so he can't really argue it... well he can argue about anything he wants to, but... well, you know what I mean!

So we have another year and a half before we have to deal with this again. Maybe by then, Bear will have gotten to a better place in his life and will be willing to stay with us and finish high school (if he stays on track he doesn't graduate until one month before his 19th birthday). We are lucky in that the state of Nebraska's legal age is 19 so if Bear does choose to stay with us, he will continue to have Medicaid (although it will be Nebraska Medicaid) and we will continue to have his adoption support money, most of which we should hopefully be able to save for him to live on while he's in college (or whatever he chooses to do).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Life after high school - what to eat

Living on your own - what to eat?

On Sunday we had the kids write up a weekly menu plan. Some of their choices were highly entertaining - Kitty chose to have American cheese slices and crackers for breakfast every day and sandwiches for lunch every day. Kitty had NO vegetables or fruit until we reminded her - she added salad to every lunch (in real life this means she added salad dressing with a little lettuce! *grin*). Kitty chose to eat out on Friday night, but picked the McDonalds' dollar menu so was looking at a whopping $3!

We gently teased Kitty about her dinner choice on Saturday night -she chose to eat with the family - because she was one of the kids who had chosen to live away from home. After we pointed out that it was a 14 hour trip one way, she amended this to eating out with her Nebraska family.

Some choices were encouraging - ALL of the kids (except Bear) chose homemade meals that are frequently family favorites (Lemon chicken, Chicken parmesan, Tatertot casserole...), instead of Pizza and Mac n Cheese as I expected. Ponito has obviously just been through lots of classes about nutrition so his meals were pretty balanced.

I was surprised that the kids (except Bear) planned to eat leftovers. In our house they act like I'm being evil when I suggest it (but then again, they are only making their favorite foods so I guess they won't really mind).

Bear's choices were discouraging. Granted he was under the impression that he would still be attending high school, whereas the rest of the kids were talking about college.

Breakfast: Nothing (although he often eats breakfast at school apparently - he did not include this).

Lunch on school days: school lunches except on Monday when he would eat Taco Bell.

Lunch on weekends: Saturday - eat out with girlfriend. Sunday - whatever is quicker (as a family we eat lunch with Grandma every Sunday, but I guess we can assume he's not choosing this option - actually Bob is the only one who chose lunch with Grandma, but that's because the others were planning on moving to another city)

Dinner: Steak, hamburgers, sausage, (apparently nothing on Wednesday), buffalo meat, steak, and Saturday night: Subway.

The kids were supposed to take their sample menu and plan a shopping trip on a preprinted grocery list I'd found. This is where things got really interesting.

As expected this is where the kids started adding "interesting" things to their list.

Ponito added lots of desserts and baked goods, and every cleaning product on the list.

Kitty added chips and dip and ice cream, but nothing else - not even frozen pizza! She also got every cleaning product, tons of preventative meds (like aspirin, cold/flu, vitamins...), and even insecticides and insect repellent. Bob's was similar although she added gum instead of chips and dip.

Bear... ah, Bear. (As we here in the South would say, "Bless his heart.").

He did go back and add some fruits and veggies (mostly for putting on his meat). He also added alcohol (beer and champagne) and condoms - We'll be having a looong talk about the drinking age, safe sex and alcoholism believe me! He chose to use all disposable plates and cutlery and was the only one to have fresh flowers on his list!

None of the kids chose to have pets after finding out about apartment pet deposits and thinking about the cost of food.

The plan is to take their lists and find out how much each item costs (we'll prorate for some things) so we can figure out what their monthly food bill would be. I made a list from their grocery list that included a space to write the cost of the item and how much it would cost if prorated for one week - since some items will last for months (like cleaning supplies, first aide stuff and light bulbs). We'll also talk about buying in bulk (which we do for our large family) versus buying for a single person and freezer meals too.

I'll also start having them cook more. We don't do this much right now because:

Bob thinks it is a chore and fights it (but is good at following recipes and likes to bake - especially desserts!);

Ponito would rather be outside playing although he's pretty good with a recipe too;

Bear is no fun to have in the kitchen and thinks he knows everything (he likes his meat black!) and is not good at reading recipes if you try to back off and let him do it himself;

Kitty often wants to help, but she's pretty messy (stirring stuff on the stove means the stove needs cleaning!), can't really follow recipes on her own, and gets overwhelmed or just wanders off after a couple of minutes. I keep reminding myself she's "only 6!" (developmentally speaking).

Kitty came home early from school yesterday with a tummy ache (she's not been taking her Miralax regularly) and Bob's hurt too so we haven't gone shopping yet, but that will probably happen today. This should be veeerry interesting!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Life after high school - college, career and lifestyle

Apparently Bear told his therapist that he was still planning on moving out when he's 17 (more on this in a later post). Hubby says he thinks the therapist is asking Bear to do a budget for living on his own.

At the same time, because the girls are in 8th grade this year they are supposed to be doing transition planning for high school. This means they have to start deciding what they want to be and do after high school so they can choose a "track." (Which I think is crazy! What 8th grader knows what they want to "major" in? Yes, they're told they can change tracks, but it means they'll have missed out on some of the classes needed (which means they'll be behind) and will have taken classes they can't use now (which means they'll become electives, preventing the child from exploring other options through elective classes - maybe discovering a love for art or animal sciences).

Bob will most likely choose a college track and want AP classes (advanced placement) as well as some other courses required for college like foreign language and higher levels of math. She'll also want to start trying out electives in the fields she's interested in. Currently Bob intends to become a lawyer (my fault totally - whenever she argued or tried to get away with something on a technicality, I told her she was going to be a lawyer when she grew up - is that called self-fulfilling prophecy if it's Mom's fault?). Of course I think she'd still prefer to be a wizard, but Hogwarts is not accepting Muggles without magic right now.

Kitty, like Bear, will not be on the college track. Because of her special education classes she will graduate with what I call a "Diploma Light" she will need to attend at least 2 years of community college before being ready (assuming she ever is) for a regular 4 year college. Kitty had decided quite some time ago that she was going to be a surgeon. We questioned why she didn't want to be a vet since she professes to love animals, but she claimed she didn't want to see animals in pain (people in pain are fine obviously). She has this all worked out. She's going to become a rich surgeon and she and her husband (I'm not sure who it is currently - used to be Jesse McCartney) are going to open an animal shelter. We have discussed the fact that surgeons need approximately 16 years of schooling, but not discussed her academic abilities as they relate to this. Recently we had to fill out a transition readiness survey for her - umm, let's just say it's a good thing we've got 4 1/2 yrs to help her get situated in reality.

We've been working with the school for quite awhile about Bear's career goals. Bear's current goals are not feasible due to his mental illness. Military will not take him and as far as we can tell neither will the police force (this is a good thing, because believe me you don't want my son to have a gun!). His only other stated goal is to be a lawyer, but we all know he would not be able to get through law school. We talked to the school's career counselor, but he says that they no longer have the great software they used to have for helping children find careers (CHIPs?) and the software they have instead is broken... great! So Bear continues to float in limbo, assuming he will be able to meet his current goals and therefore not even trying to find ones that work. We would prefer to find a new course before we sink the ship he's on.

(We do eventually have conversations with Kitty and Bear regarding vocational goals vs skills and abilities, that's how I got my official title, "Dreamkiller.")

For quite awhile Hubby and I have been planning on doing a Money 101 class so this seemed as good a time as any. During a family meeting, Hubby talked about needs, wants, and extras, and income. He gave the kids homework to write down what they wanted and how much it would cost. Love ya Hubby, but even I found the assignment abstract and confusing.

As part of Bob's school work, she had to fill out a bunch of online surveys. Some of them involved careers that met her interests and I spent over an hour explaining different careers - what an agricultural engineer, adjudicator, production assistant... are and do (I had to look a lot of them up!).

One such survey was called Texas Reality Check, and it was a fascinating tool that allowed you to figure out how much your chosen lifestyle would cost and therefore what kind of career you need to afford that. Bear didn't get a chance to do it, but the other kids did, and I had to laugh at Kitty's choices. Her luxury apartment and lifestyle meant she had to make at least $79K a year, but that's OK, because surgeons make $189K. We did talk about how she would live during those 16 years she was in school.

Then we went to an apartment locator, and talked about what was available and how much it would cost (the reality check numbers were a little off on apartment costs I think). We talked about how you would do your laundry, bus routes, whether or not there were jobs nearby, grocery stores, gated communities and the reputation of the complex - one complex she said would not be safe for the girls, that older building meant higher utilities.... We still might show them actual apartments. I haven't decided yet.

Next - Grocery shopping

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ponito's project

If you noticed that I hardly ever post anything about Ponito except for his amazing hugs, that's because he is such a laid back, easygoing kid. I remember when he was a baby and I frequently had to remind myself that he was there (not a problem with Bob!). I feel like I've been whining a lot lately so I thought this time I'd post about my baby!

He is smart (started reading and doing first grade level math at age 4), athletic (he walked at 7.5 months and is incredibly coordinated), happy (usually smiling and in a good mood unless he's sick, hungry or tired), friendly (he's always running around with the guys, but has also been "married" 7 times since he was 3 years old!), easygoing (I was actually happy the day he finally fought back after Bob had been picking on him for years) and loving (he runs up to me with a hug and a big "Mommy!!" every morning and after school. At 10, he is the youngest in the family and has no teenage hormones making him insane!

I don't know what I'll do when he tries to leave the nest! (Is it stalking if you're the mom?)

Yesterday though he reminded me that he's only 10.

You see he's had this science fair project that he's been working on for months. He'd decided that it would be about whether or not rechargeable or regular batteries lasted longer in an RC car... but he doesn't have any RC cars. I reminded him of this several times early on in the project and suggested he talk to Hubby or Poppy (Grandma's husband who is also an engineer)... but he didn't.

Apparently he's been working through the steps, keeping up with the class - including a three page paper with references about the background information, a materials list, procedures/ steps for how the experiment would work, a hypothesis... everything but doing the actual experiment. At the beginning of Winter Break the teacher sent an e-mail reminding the class that the experiment needed to be done and the conclusions written by today (Friday). Ponito assured me he had it under control, and I'm not one of those Mamas that do kids' homework for them. He's old enough to deal with the consequences.

So Monday night (the last day of Winter Break), Ponito talked to Hubby who broke the news that we would not be buying him a pair of RC cars for this project. I'd suggested using flashlights weeks ago, so apparently that's what he decided to do. Hubby generously allowed Ponito to use one of Hubby's dive lights for the project (there are NEVER working flashlights in our house). But there was only one light. Ponito popped a couple of rechargeable batteries in it, turned on the stopwatch on his watch, and waited for the batteries to run out. He couldn't leave it on overnight in case the batteries died when he wasn't there to watch it. He couldn't take it to school. So the batteries didn't burn out very fast.

Yesterday, out of the goodness of my heart, I decided to take the watch to work with me and keep an eye on it. Apparently when stopping the watch when I went into Bear's school to attend a meeting, I accidentally cleared the time! *eek!* Then I left it on my desk when I went home for the day. I immediately apologized to Ponito as soon as I realized, and he took it very well. I asked Ponito when it was due.

That's when Ponito realized that the results of his test were due the next day, and the first set of batteries had taken over 24 hours to burn out (still hadn't actually). There was no way he could finish the project in time. Being Ponito he didn't get that upset, or blame others, or throw a tantrum, or quit (that's one reason I love me some Ponito!). Ponito's friend suggested he do a quick experiment instead. Made sense to me, so we pulled up some ideas on the internet.

Ponito found an experiment about separating salt, sugar and pepper with static electricity (here). It looked easy and we only had to borrow one ingredient (pepper, which I hate!). He got to play with a balloon and make his hair do silly things. It was easy and fun. When he asked to go play at his friends' house afterward I said sure as long as he cleaned up. I asked if he had to do a write up of his results, and he said it was just a paragraph and he could do it later.

Fast forward 3 hours. I asked Ponito for some more details and that's when I discovered that since he had chosen a whole new topic he had to completely redo all the work he'd done - including the 3-5 page background paper! It's now 7:30pm and his bedtime is 9!

So I helped him.

No, I did not write/do it for him! Mama don't roll like dat! I did type it for him, but I typed what he told me, including the fact that "electrons move 'woo woo woo' around the atom nucleus." We found several reference articles on static electricity at his level which he had to read - so much for this being an easy project! Then I helped him understand the articles (they started with what atoms were and ended with Coulomb's Law and the Triboelectric series!). I can safely say that he understands the concept well enough to explain it to his class in words they would understand.

2 and a half hours after his bedtime we finally finished. I have to say I'm proud of him for sticking with it and finishing - even though he was dead on his feet. I suggested several times that he just explain to the teacher what happened and ask for an extension until Monday, but he was insistant we finish. I know it was his fault he waited so long and then he had to start over, and that he started so late in the day because he wanted to play with his friend, but I honestly believe he didn't realize he was going to have to rewrite the whole thing or that it would take so long. I'm actually pretty proud of him.

Electrons going "woo woo woo" around the nucleus.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Adult abuse

Assuming (big assumption) they continue to live with us and stay on track, both Kitty and Bear will be well over the age of 18 before they graduate high school (Kitty will actually turn 19 two months before. Bear will turn 19 the following month.).
In Texas 18 is the legal age of adulthood, but really once they turn 17 they have the ability to leave home without being considered a runaway and apparently cannot be brought home against their will. In other words, parents are legally responsible for their actions, but have little to no ability to control them.
In Nebraska the legal age is 19 so luckily Kitty and Bear will continue to have Medicaid to pay for things like medications (this is huge because they are so expensive) and therapy and the adoption subsidy will continue as well (this is also important because it will cover things Texas Medicaid won't, like their psychiatrist who doesn't accept Medicaid - especially Nebraska Medicaid).

Therefore Kitty and Bear will most likely qualify as "vulnerable adults" or "adults with disabilities" while they live with us (again assuming they stay - Bear is of course planning to leave the minute he turns 17). Recently I have been paying a lot of attention to my friends who have adult children living with them, and I have to admit it scares me. Even if we do not decide to petition for legal guardianship of an adult (a consideration mostly to help them with legal issues), we still are opening ourselves up to some scary stuff.

Abuse is defined as
"willful infliction of injury, unreasonable confinement, or cruel
punishment" and includes: scratches, cuts, bruises, and burns; welts, scalp
injury, and gag marks; sprains, punctures, broken bones, and bedsores;
confinement; rape and other forms of sexual abuse; and verbal and psychological

Neglect is defined as "the failure to provide for one's self the goods
or services which are necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or
mental illness, or the failure of a caretaker to provide such goods or services"
and includes: malnourishment and dehydration; over- or under- medication; lack
of heat, running water, or electricity; unsanitary living conditions; lack of
medical care; and lack of personal hygiene or clothes.
Exploitation is defined as "the illegal or improper act or process of using the resources of an elderly or disabled person for monetary or personal benefit" and includes: taking Social Security or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) checks; abusing joint checking accounts; and taking property and other resources.

Well that sounds reasonable. I/you/ we would NEVER do that to anyone, right?!
Wrong! Apparently I DO abuse, exploit and neglect my children every day (in some way), and when they are adults it will become illegal. (Guess they've been right all along)
I can't/won't reveal the details of the horror stories I read from other parents of mentally ill "adults" out there, but the following are possible examples of some of the things these parents have run up against and in some cases prosecuted for - prosecution means criminal charges and investigations! Abuse investigations are some scary stuff.
I'm lucky that my kids no longer seem to be making false allegations, but most parents aren't so lucky, and the state really goes after people who abuse, exploit, or neglect vulnerable adults (elderly or disabled). So here's some of the things you could be investigated for:

"confinement/ false imprisonment"
Did you know that time outs and being sent to their room can be prosecuted as false imprisonment!
Don't even think about physical holds or restraints, even if you are being physically attacked. Although if they start it, at least here in TX, you have the right to do anything you want, in "self defense" - at least according to the police officers that visited our home back when Bear was doing this often.
Locking doors to prevent a mentally ill adult from running out in the streets to do who knows what with who knows who? Besides being a fire hazard is a BIG No No!
"cruel punishment"
I don't even want to think what this constitutes, but Kitty accuses me of it all the time. Well, actually she says I'm cruel and unusual.
"unsanitary living conditions"
This means you can be prosecuted for allowing your child to live in that pig sty they call a room. However, you can't go in their room and haul out the garbage because that is "taking property and other resources." Apparently you are even expected to store it for them (used Kotex - need I say more?). The only way you could do this is if it is a fire/ health hazard, but that is most likely not something you get to determine. If you decide to do it anyway? Protect yourself by taking lots of before pictures!
"lack of personal hygiene or clothes"
That's right, as adults you can't make them take a shower, brush teeth/hair, put in retainers, wear hearing aids, clean up messes they made... but if they don't you can be accused of neglect.
By the way, an adult group home has LOTS more rights than you as their parents do. They can make them do things you can't, including chores. They can enforce doctor's orders, but you can't.

"over- or under- medication" "lack of medical care"
Teenagers already have the right to refuse services and medications. When we took our 13 year old daughter to a psychiatric hospital last year she had the right to refuse to take her meds and to leave - and they made sure she knew it. Luckily her patient rights were so lengthy she wasn't paying much attention by then. Wouldn't that have been fun though?! Still if I don't (can't) make her go to the doctor, or take her medication as prescribed I could be prosecuted for "failure of a caretaker to provide such goods or services which are necessary to avoid physical harm, mental anguish, or mental illness." Lovely Catch 22 right?
"I gots rights ya know!"
(But parents don't)
So I can't tell my son who I've just nursed through his 3rd reconstructive surgery, not to go against Doctor's orders and jump curbs on his skateboard (This is just an example by the way - Bear has never actually had reconstructive surgery).
I can't tell my daughter not to jump off a bridge, because that is her right.
But if they do it and get hurt or killed I am responsible and can be charged with neglect. Yes, really! They are allowed to do anything they want, even if it is illegal, stupid or unsafe.
If a friend or neighbor passes out and you pick him up, nurse him back to help, feed him properly... this is against his rights. You are supposed to wait until he regains consciousness and then only help if he wants you to. Guess the Good Samaritan should be locked up?
Cameras / locks
Obviously locking them in their room at night is confinement which we've already established is abuse. Cameras would be an invasion of privacy. Anything along these lines which you might use to protect yourself, your property or other children, would pretty much be illegal. Of course if your mentally ill adult child sexually abuses a sibling, YOU would be prosecuted for failing to protect the minor child.

Common Areas
Locking the pantry, not allowing a child to eat dinner with the family, forbidding a child to go in the playroom or in the kitchen where the sibling they've been torturing is doing homework or trying to calm down... is keeping them out of common areas, which of course is a big No No.
I can't lock the pantry, or lock up certain foods, even something special I bought for me to take to lunch tomorrow, or food I planned to serve for tomorrow's dinner, because I don't have the right to limit what he or she eats. (Although I can buy a small fridge or something and keep food in my own room legally).
If, horror of horrors, you make your kid pay rent... you must establish policies like house rules in writing and they have to be "reasonable" (that's according to a legal definition which we've already established is wack!). You can forbid smoking and pets, but not enforce a curfew. You cannot limit who comes over, but if they stay for more than a few days or get packages at your home you can consider them roommates (which you can forbid).
Even so, you cannot enforce the rules, merely use them as a reason to evict your child (and you will usually have to give him/her advance written notice to evict- depending on your state you can then take him or her to court and have your child legally evicted. You can't just kick them out. In New York if you kick someone out by changing the locks and putting their stuff on the curb you are legally liable for triple their costs - so if someone steals their stuff or something is damaged you have to pay triple the cost to replace it, they stay in a motel... you get the idea.)
Tenant rules
A landlord generally cannot limit visitors as long as they do not disturb
other residents or violate some other provision of the lease.
A broad curfew on adults has been considered unreasonable by some lower
Public and common areas must be accessible to persons with
Privacy rights must be set up in advance or you could end up without
permission to enter or being prosecuted for trespass.
If you have no lease agreement and your state's landlord-tenant law says
nothing about landlord entries, then the usual rule is that your landlord can
only enter the leased premises when it is fair and reasonable to do so. Some
Emergencies such as broken pipes, flooding or fire
When you have already given permission to the landlord
Inspect the premises and make repairs or alterations
Acting on the reasonable belief that you have moved out of the apartment
Show the apartment to prospective tenants or buyers

Except for emergency situations, the landlord should give you advance
notice of a need to enter the land or obtain your permission to do so. If the
landlord fails to do either, you may be able to file a trespass action against
your landlord. You may also be able to obtain a restraining order against your
landlord for the following reasons:

Your landlord enters the premises without advance notice and without your
Your landlord demands to enter the premises for lawful reasons
but at unreasonable hours of the day, such as night time
Your landlord continually harasses you or behaves unreasonably towards you, your family and guests
Your landlord make continuous demands to enter the property
Your landlord tries to retaliate against you for invoking your rights
Is it any wonder why parents frequently kick out children when they turn 18?