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!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Blogging on Privacy

Annie over at One Mother's Day recently wrote a blog post called Second Thoughts regarding posting about our kids. It seems to me there are different categories of bloggers.

Cutesy - these seem more for out of state grandparents. They are mostly pictures of the kids and what cute thing they've done lately. I don't know much about these because I don't read them.

Diary - a place to vent that's written more for the blogger themself without thinking too much about what others want to read. This is definitely how my blog started. I did want people to maybe give me some words of affirmation though so I started broadening my category.

Entertainment - these are usually flat out funny. You're not going to see much of the dirty side of life (unless it's funny). Pioneer Woman, Because I Said So, Pulsipher Predilictions...

Informational - focused on a specific topic like photography, RAD parenting, who knows.

I hope my blog is entertaining although I don't try as hard to be funny as I used to in the beginning. I definitely want my blog to be informational. I need words of affirmation so I want to provide something that people will comment about.


Privacy versus Letting it All Hang Out.

Some people use their real names and their kids real names while others use cutesy nicknames or Child#1 though 7. On the comments of One Mother's Day the consensus appeared to be against using cutesy nick names. Oh well. Obviously my kids's real names are not Bear, Kitty, Bob or Ponito (although sometimes I slip and call them that).

Some have pictures. Others have no pictures or identifying information at all. My mom hates that I include pictures of my kids. I love being able to share pictures of my gorgeous babies.

Of those that share "private information" - Some parents ask their kids what they're comfortable having shared on the blog. Some don't identify which of their children are misbehaving and/or speak in generalities (obviously this only works for those that have more than one or two children). Then there are parents like me who don't ask the kids and just share.

I liked one of the comments on One Mother's Day regarding how it doesn't bother her kids as much what she writes on her blog because the kids assume the parent says the same things to her friends, and maybe less because most of the people who read the blog might be people the blogger doesn't know IRL (in real life). I've found this is true for me too. I don't find myself venting to people IRL, of course some of that is because I don't talk to people IRL as much.

I worry sometimes what would happen if the kids or their birthmom read my blog. Somedays I kind of want Birthmom to read it, so she gets a clue what she did to these kids.

I know it bothers Bear what I write on here. It bothers Kitty too. I think a little of this is guilty conscience. Mostly Bear can't stand anyone talking about him at all. I need it though.

I never really thought about would happen if my kids found my blog. I think it's pretty safe in that it's not associated with my real name at all so unlike my facebook account you can't search for my name and find it (did I mention Biomom found me on Facebook last year? I closed my account. I didn't use it much anyway).

Truthfully I think nothing much would happen if the kids did find it. Of course Bear doesn't read, but if he actually did read it he would be mad. This is his response to all "labels" and other's opinions. It's his way of running away from the truth. Of course he doesn't need any more reason to be mad at me. Overall it wouldn't make much difference.

One of my readers posts on her blog about her life, her family, and recently, her plans for adopting again. Her "adult" daughter finds this adoption inconvenient and has been sabotaging her mother's plans with IRL friends and family. Recently her daughter posted a comment on her mother's blog about how unfair it is for her mother to do this to her. It was a selfish, self-centered, entitled comment and of course the daughter only showed how mentally ill she really is. I could see my son making a comment exactly like it. What is truely sad is that apparently the blogger seems to have shut down her blog completely.

I don't want to post my friend's name here, but she knows who she is. I want you to know that I think your daughter is way out of line and I hope you don't stop blogging forever. Hugs and prayers are going up for you and your whole family (including those who are becoming part of your family).

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Beach Birthday

Sunday was Bear's adoption day. Monday was his 17th birthday.

We have seen some attitude/emotional improvement and on Saturday his therapist commented on it. He seems more awake and not pushing others away quite as hard. Not sure if it's the change in his meds or not. We've added vitamin B12 and also increased his Wellbutrin. Tonight we start dropping his sleep meds which his psychiatrist feels may not be making a difference anyway, and see if that effects his sleep.

Most Friday nights we eat out with Grandma and Poppy (We're so lucky!). Often my little sister and her family join us. Because it was his birthday weekend, Bear got to choose where we ate (Chinese buffet). My sister gave him a Wally World gift card for his birthday (she thought his birthday was Friday).

Bear knew that on Monday Grandma and Poppy were taking all 4 kids to the beach (Bear and Kitty have never seen the ocean). 4 hours in the car each way. Bear can't read in a car (not that he reads anyway, but it makes him car sick), and he's not supposed to sleep during the day. He came home talking about how he was going to apply the gift card to what he owes on his Zune so he can have something to do on the trip. He still owes over $60 on it so that wasn't an option. I thought about gifting him some money for his birthday, but that would mean we had to come up with the $120 to buy the Zune so I decided against it.

I don't know how much was on the gift card. Bear apparently talked Poppy into taking him to Wally world so I don't know what he spent the money on (ask me how I feel about that by the way). I do know that he came home with several bottles of Power*de and he bought a toy for Ponito (who probably gave him cash for it). My guess is that he blew it all on junk food. That's his pattern.

Sunday we celebrated with the family at Grandma's for lunch. Bear was told he could have friends over for a party, but nothing ever came of it. He tends to wait until the last minute and everyone is busy (joy of a Summer birthday too) or it could be that he's afraid no one will want to come so he doesn't ask. I'm not sure.

Bear had requested strawberry cheesecake for his birthday cake. After lunch he went in and started cutting it. I think he was trying to keep everyone from noticing and making a fuss. He didn't want candles. I led everyone in singing him Happy Birthday anyway.

Monday morning Hubby took the kids to Grandma's so they could head to the beach. Once there, Bear of course refused to put on sunblock. Ponito didn't do it either. Ponito is not on meds that make his skin sensitive so he didn't burn. Bear did (but denied it most of the time). The girls put on sunblock, but rolled around in the sand and didn't reapply. Both girls burned.

No one wanted to risk their watch on the beach so apparently they lost track of time and stayed longer than they meant to. They also had a flat on the way home. Poor things didn't get home until almost 2am. Tired, burned and sandy, but they had fun.

Kitty was excited about the sand and shells she brought home. Little tiny broken shells, but just as important to her as huge perfect ones.

Corpus Callosum - Edited

I tried this test of the corpus collosum (Thanks STS!) on the 3 youngest and myself, but I'm not sure what to do with the information. I'll test Bear and Hubby tonight and add the results here.

The test is to see how well the two hemispheres speak to each other through the corpus callosum (which is a bundle of nerves that connects the two brain hemispheres together). I had the kids sit on a stool and rest their hands behind their back (so they couldn't see them). Then I touched the ends of different fingers on their left hand and they were supposed to touch the corresponding finger on the right hand with their thumb. Then I switched hands. The middle two fingers were the hardest to keep straight for all of us.

Kitty went first (because she trusts me more! I love saying that!). She had a pretty tough time, especially with the middle two fingers. It was equally tough with both hands. She is not considered to be dyslexic which this test can be a sign of, but she does have learning disabilities.

Bob - pretty good. Just a few mistakes. We questioned dylexia with her because she reversed entire words all the way through 1st grade, but we couldn't get anyone to test her because she could read (tried to explain to the school that the two had nothing to do with each other, but they said the only test they were allowed to give was letter recognition which of course she would pass with flying colors so we let it drop. She did grow out of it or learn to accomodate for it - I'm not sure which).

Ponito - the best of all of us. No questions of dyslexia for him ever. I'd say his corpus callosum is working perfectly.

Me - the kids really enjoyed testing me. I did OK. I do have mirror dyslexia so I thought I'd do pretty badly, but I think I was about average.

I've also asked my favorite neighbor if she could test her family too, but her family isn't exactly neurotypical either... *grin*

So test yourself (well, you can't really test yourself) and your family and see how y'all do!
Edited to add:
Bear - Bear was not surprisingly not thrilled about doing this, but he complied. The girls weren't there when I had Ponito show him what it looked like. It was very brief, but the results didn't really surprise me. He stunk. He missed a lot/most? of the finger touchs, and he had difficulty getting his thumb to his fingers (not nimble at all). I'm pretty sure he realized it and that's why he quit pretty quickly. I was able to keep him going by switching to the other hand when I saw him shutting down, but even that didn't last.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Cliff fences

Bear has been saying more and more frequently that he just doesn't care. He's going to move out the minute he turns 18 (if he waits that long), stop taking meds (he's convinced that someone told him that there is a food substitute for every med and therefore he's just going to change his diet and not need meds anymore), get a job and go to school - in regular ed classes (because I'm the only reason he's in special classes and programs. Yea right).

The good news is he wants to do well academically this year. The bad news is this is because he thinks if he gets his grades up he can transfer to a smaller school where he can be in regular ed classes without a lot of people. We've mentioned that there are no small schools around here except his special school (although technically there are private schools, but he wants to play sports and most of the private schools don't have teams. Doesn't matter though because he doesn't have the grades needed, they don't have the programs needed, and we don't have the money needed!). Should I mention the concept of transcripts to him? We've talked about how his issues are inside himself and running away isn't going to help.

If I leave it alone he'll do better in school - which is great. He'll also probably convince the school that he doesn't need the level of supervision he was getting at the end of the school year - which is a major set back. If I thought he could control the impulsive behavior that required the supervision that would be different, but I know he can't. He's not controlling the impulses, he's controlling how much attention they're getting. If he's acting up they notice. If he's flying under the radar he's still doing dangerous stuff, but they don't see it. *arrgh*


Bear's skills trainer asked me to come to his most recent meeting because the last time she came he informed her that the only reason he was there was because I made him be there. He shut her out and pushed her away and she finally left early because she couldn't get anything out of him (normally if you ignore his "I'm not going to answer questions" statements and just keep gently pulling stuff from him he'll keep from shutting down, but apparently that wasn't the case last week. The therapist has been having the same issues. Bear has been really shutting down more and more lately.

So at this session the skills trainer talked mostly to me while Bear just laid there with his arm over his eyes. She asked about my childhood and I told her a little about my own attachment issues, issues with men and fights with my step-sister. I talked about how I felt these things not only made me more empathetic to the kids, but that in working through them I felt that I knew how better to help the kids with their issues (Hubby helped me with my attachment issues, by not leaving - no matter how hard I pushed him away. Worked for me so that's what I'm trying to do with Bear). I did mention to the skills trainer that I have control issues. Which I do. (I was anorexic for many years in high school, I don't let most people see my emotions - although I do now acknowledge that I have them, and yes, I control what happens to my kids when I can - it's called advocating).

The skills trainer mentioned that Bear seemed to need more freedom to make mistakes while he was still living at home. She implied that the reason I'm not allowing him this freedom is because I have control issues. While I will admit that there might be a little of this in what I do with Bear, I have to say that it is largely untrue and therefore I find this implication not a little offensive.

I've told y'all my "teaching him to swim before throwing him in the ocean" analogy, and I mentioned that briefly to her, but I came up with a new "Look before you Leap" analogy that I want to share. (Yes, I really love analogies, it's a shame Bear doesn't understand abstract concepts well enough to "get" them.).
Because I was describing this analogy with Bear sitting right there I wanted to throw in some examples he would understand, but that weren't so pointed that he would shut down in defense or drag us off topic to argue about them. Bear still ended up pretty shut down for most of the skills training session, but it helped a little when the subject came up again in therapy a few days later because I didn't have to bring up specific examples that triggered him, but he'd heard them so maybe he was a little more accepting of the veracity of the analogy when I was discussing it with the therapist.

The skills trainer brought up the fact that now that Bear is 17 (as of today!) that he needs to be able to have some freedom to make mistakes. She wanted to advocate for him to get me to lighten up and give him some of that freedom. I told her that Bear has lots of freedom to make little mistakes. Contrary to popular opinion I do not have him on so short a leash that he can't mess up, I just have him on a short enough leash that he can't hang himself.

Part of the problem is that Bear does not really learn from his mistakes (common for kids with trauma issues). Another part of the problem is that he won't ask for or accept help or training. But the biggest part of the problem is that his main issue is NOT with something he can be taught how to do or not do. His biggest problem is impulse control.

Bear can be walking along doing exactly what he's supposed to do. He can have earned his way up to pretty high levels of privileges. When all of the sudden... WHAM! He gets an impulse to do something he's not supposed to (take something, lie, go somewhere...), and he does it. No amount of behavior modification training, anger management classes, talk therapy, EMDR, good parenting... has any effect. He's not thinking about why he should or shouldn't do something he just does it. After the impulse, he makes choices. Whether to admit to it, lie, cover it up, manipulate, run away... these choices are the things that all of the therapy and skills trainings and whatever can actually have an effect on. (Of course sometimes he also makes conscious decisions to make a "bad" choice too).

So that's the problem. What do you do with someone with almost no impulse control? All the training and therapeutic parenting in the world is not going to "fix" or prevent that.

When you have a small child who tends to leap before he looks, then you control his environment - you don't remove every obstacle. You make sure he has little things to leap off of so he will learn to look before he leaps. (He learns to look because he discovers that when he doesn't he usually falls and gets hurt). You do NOT however move to a house on the side of a cliff. If you must live on a cliff then you put up a big fence and you keep your child inside that fence. If you didn't and your child jumped off the cliff then who is morally responsible for the death of the child? Even if the child jumped off the cliff it is of course the parent who is responsible for the child.

I have a child who is a known leaper. We live in a world full of "cliffs." If I put my son behind the wheel of a car, knowing that at any moment he could choose to turn left without looking, then I am endangering not only his life, but the life of all others around him.

Still I am hearing what the skills trainer is saying. Bear is planning on getting his license the minute he turns 18. Shouldn't I be teaching him defensive driving now? Letting him practice while he still "has" to listen to us because we have control over the keys and whether or not he can get his license?
On the other hand, I know he's not safe behind the wheel of a vehicle, and if I don't help him get his learner's permit there is a very real possibility that he won't be able to get his driver's license. He doesn't read. He has no money to get insurance or a car. Still, down the road someday he might be able to talk someone into giving him those things and then he'll be even more dangerous because he'll be an inexperienced driver.

At this point I feel that my best option is to keep him in the yard, full of little bumps, knowing that in a year or less I'm going to have to let him walk through the gate. Knowing that once he steps through that gate, unlike most kids he will never look back. He will never ask for help. He will wipe his feet clean of the family and go.

I think morally and to some extent emotionally I feel that frees me from the consequences of what we all know will happen when he leaves. I will have done what is right in keeping him safe while he was a child. I did the best I could to help him, knowing that I have almost no influence on the really big stuff. I cannot teach him impulse control, and I have failed at teaching him love and trust. Therefore opening the gate before he becomes an adult is morally wrong because it will most likely have dire and potentially lethal consequences. Neither will I allow myself to be treated as though what happens after he walks through that gate as an "adult" is my responsibility.

This is not to say that I will not be continuing to try my hardest during the short time I have left, but I know that any major changes in the next year will be up to Bear and God.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Still no 'puter

I'm still using Hubby's computer so I can't seem to get caught up on everything. So here's a quick update.

- has another zit! He's only 11 and he's my baby. I'm not ready for him to become a teenager yet!!

- is now officially 14. I have pictures of her sad cake, but Hubby hasn't had time to download them for me. We call it the running turtle cake. We'd taken one of the oven racks out of the oven and when Ponito put it back it was crooked so the sheet cake baked at a slant. Bob made icing, but she read the directions wrong, so she ended up using canned frosting for the base of the cake instead. I fixed the icing she made so we put a little 1/2 circle cake on top of the uneven sheet cake and covered it with her icing. It was supposed to look like a green turtle. We left the room and when we'd come back it had slid crawled half way off the cake!

- is fairly stable. She's seeing two therapists. Her attachment therapist and the EMDR therapist (we tried EMDR a couple of years ago and it seemed to trigger a break down - so this time we're going really slowly).

Recently Kitty decided she wanted to lose some weight. She has weighed over 175 lbs for a couple of years now and is only 5'4". This may not seem like a lot, but she carries almost all of it in her tummy (and her bra - she's a DDD cup). She literally looks about 7 months pregnant. Some of this is probably constipation issues, but definitely not all. When we first got her at age 11 she weighed about 100lbs and was already about 5'2." She looked emaciated and was never hungry. One Summer we took her down to a minimal ADHD dose (she can't go completely off or it's impossible to live with her), and she also went on Seroquel (which can increase appetite). She gained 70lbs in 6 months!! Oops! She had already gone back on full Concerta at the end of the Summer, and we took her off the Seroquel, but the eating had become emotionally based and didn't stop. She eats when she is stressed or upset - which is pretty much all the time. If I tried to regulate her eating she would have meltdowns. About 3 weeks ago she decided that she wanted to lose the weight and I was given permission to advise her on what would be healthy eating. She has lost over 10lbs and is very proud of herself (as am I!). I've lost about 15lbs so "Yea me!"

- is a mess. He's still not sleeping well, 4-5 non-consecutive hours a night. He's bored, surly and irritable. Since the therapeutic riding school ended for the Summer, I've had him doing volunteer work in the morning at a Summer Camp at the MHMR (Mental Health Mental Retardation organization that provides services to people with MHMR issues - he's also a client). He kind of enjoys it. He commented yesterday that he's not as bored as he thought he'd be this Summer. (*yea?!*)

Yesterday we finally got the results of his sleep study. No significant episodes of sleep apnea. When aroused he goes back to sleep fairly easily. BUT he's not getting enough REM sleep. This we could have guessed. The pdoc went over some things he can change - no more napping during the day, no exercise right before or during bedtime... He gave me a list I need to go over (this pdoc gives good handouts). He also talked about a way to switch people who have a problem with sleeping during the day and being awake all night, but it requires a lot of practically 24 hour supervision (usually done at sleep clinics). (Basically you stay awake as long as you can, then sleep. The next night you go to bed an hour later. The following night an hour later. This goes on until you get around to the hour you really want to go to bed at - like 10pm. The hard part is supposedly when your "bedtime" is at say 9am.

His 17th birthday is in a few days so we're dealing with a lot of fallout from that. Currently he's not talking about leaving home, but I think that's because he has nowhere to go. When school starts again he might have some kids saying he can live with them. Could be wrong though. Maybe he believes me when I say I'll stalk him and drag him home. He's still adamant he's moving out when he's 18 though. He thinks everything is my fault so he plans to move to another state and live on his own with a job and going to school. He'll be in regular ed because of course I'm the only reason he's in special classes and programs. Currently he thinks he can change his diet and not need meds because "someone" told him that every med had certain foods that did the same thing (my mom once told me that McD*n*ld's vanilla milkshakes have lithium in them, but I doubt it's a sufficient amount to substitute- although wouldn't that be great?!!). I think I'm going to pass this research off to his Skills Trainer.

- is doing OK. He's working a lot. He's teaching scuba almost every night so we don't see him much.

- As you know, I'm job hunting, and I recently found a good potential job with the agency we adopted Bear and Kitty through. I had the interview and discovered that I have to have 9! references - 3 professional, 3 personal and 3 who can speak to my faith. It took awhile, because we have really allowed ourselves to get isolated, but I actually secured all 9 and even had some extras! (Thanks Sharon, Caty, STS, and Purplewalls!!!!).

The problem is that this job requires me to have my LMSW (social work license) and I let it lapse a couple of years ago (I've had it on "inactive" status for 15 years so I wouldn't have to take the exam again - it was hard when I'd just graduated, let alone 20 years later!). When I let it lapse I figured I hadn't needed it in 16 years and I had a job at the company we purchased so even if I went back to work it would be in the corporate world. It will cost almost $500 to get a new license and of course I'll have to take the exam which will require a LOT of studying and memorizing. The whole process will take at least 6 weeks.

Even if I get my license they may decide that I have to already have it to qualify for this job. In which case all that money could have been spread out over several months (instead of pushing for it all now - assuming I can find the money now at all). *sigh* I can't decide if I should submit the money to get this started so I can get started on the job ASAP, or if I should wait to see if I got the job. When I questioned the interviewer about it he implied that if I wasn't in the process of getting my license anyway then that would show a lack of committment to this career in which case he didn't want to consider me. In other words he won't tell me if this license is a deal breaker. He's still interviewing candidates so I won't know if I did or didn't get the job for quite awhile. *arrgh!*

I've been off of all mood stabilizers and anti-depressants for 3 weeks now and I appear to be stable. Stress often triggers mania or depression for me so I think this means I'm learning how to manage my stress. So far so good!

Our company
- no idea what's going to happen with it. We have had almost no income from it in over a month. We've talked about bankruptcy, we've talked about closing the doors, we've talked and talked, and basically we don't do anything. We're being sued again, this time for non-payment of a vendor. We've got to make some decisions.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hating happiness

Poor Ponito. He seems to get the brunt of Kitty and Bear's issues most of the time. For a couple of years Kitty hated Ponito. She was jealous of his happiness and admitted that she wanted him to have a miserable childhood like she did. She tattled on him constantly and was furious when we let him get away with stuff without punishing him severely. Made her crazy that he did stuff behind our back (like cuss or not do what she or Bear told him to do).
She had issues with Bob too, but Bob is bigger than she was afraid of Bob and therefore Bob triggered different issues than Ponito.

Ponito has always been sensitive. He's significantly younger than the other guys (he was only 7 when 13 year old Bear came to live with us). He is a physical kid. He likes to cuddle and roughhouse. He'll run and jump on you. If he doesn't get his way he'll pout and sometimes cry. He's the kind of boy that the girls like (he's been "married" 8 times I think) and the boys like to play with. If I had to guess, his love language is probably physical touch. He gives the best hugs.

Bear has had some recent altercations with Ponito. Recently he told Ponito that the ice cream I bought was for Bear and Bob only(?!). Ponito got upset and cried. Everyone offered Ponito some ice cream and Grandma ended up buying Ponito candy (yes I have issues with this, but he wouldn't accept sherbet or ice cream). This was the incident that Kitty stood up to Bear about.

Saturday Bear was sleepy and surly (pretty much his usual). I had to run a quick errand and since Hubby was teaching scuba, the kids had to come with me. Kitty asked if she could stay home. She has been earning my trust so I said yes. Bob was reading in her room so while I normally don't leave 2 kids home alone I figured these two are the most likely to be OK.

A barefoot Ponito hopped in the car with Bear and I. Ponito began playing with the sliding door's lock with his toes. Bear jumped on him for "breaking the door." I told Bear to quit telling Ponito what to do. Bear seems to think that if I don't do anything about it then it's his right/ obligation to do so. Ponito was silly and giggly. Bear told him to cut it out. We got to where we were going and I took Ponito in with me even though he was barefoot. No way was I leaving him at Bear's mercy. Bear tried to correct my parenting - I told him to cut it out.

Skip ahead a couple of hours to Bear's therapy.

Bear talked about how Ponito needs to "grow up." Long story short, Bear didn't get to be a happy kid. At Ponito's age Bear was put into foster care. Bear doesn't "see the point" of happiness or any emotions. He doesn't want to have emotions, he doesn't want others to act happy or silly - he finds it annoying and feels it must be stopped. Explains why I don't act silly as much anymore. Bear wants Ponito to stop too. Ponito is persistant and therefore most annoying to Bear.

Bear talked about how we (his parents) want him to be a puppet, and behave perfectly and he's not going to do it. He sees no point. I told him I don't want him to be perfect, but I do want him to be happy. He's not happy. He's not happy, and he likes things this way. Therefore he and I are at cross purposes.

This is most likely not going to end well.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Good news, Cr@p news

Crap: Can't find my wedding ring. Hubby checked the trap in the sink, but only found an earring.

Not so bad: I'd bought a sub ring when my wedding ring got too tight (spent almost $5 on it!), so I still have a ring to wear.

Crap: My computer is officially dead. We paid $100 to get it repaired (labor), but it didn't work.

At least: I have all the documents out of it, and Hubby is letting me use his computer, but he really wants it back. His iPhone just isn't enough. He's teaching lots of scuba to help pay for a new one. Sorry Bob! (she wanted a laptop for her birthday which is Sunday).

Crap: Went to the job interview. It sounds like a really good job I'd be good at (yea!), but they left out that I'm required to have my license. I let it lapse a few years ago. It can take months to get, and it's not cheap. It's been almost 20 years since I took the exam the first time. I'd have to study hard, and it will most likely be too late to get this job. The guy who interviewed me said he's interviewing lots of people, I'm assuming many of which are equally qualified and already have their license. He'll let me know if this is a deal breaker.

Funny thing happened on the way to the interview: I arrived with about 5 minutes to spare. Only to find that the company had moved! I worked for them 14 years ago. We adopted our kids through them and Bear's adoption was finalized only 2 years ago. They'd been in that location forever. It never occured to me that they might have moved. Luckily they only moved around the corner and one of the people in the convention center that was there now actually got on the internet and looked up the new address for me. I was only a few minutes late to the interview.

Crap: Our company is being sued again. We got behind on paying the company who gave us a contract engineer. We had decided to hire the engineer and owed them a $6K conversion fee for that too. Then the client we were doing the engineering for, fired us. The engineer was too slow. We think he drug out the only other project he was working on so he'd have work to do. So that client fired us too. He was too slow. We layed him off. We have no way to pay the contract firm.

Ummm: I had to buy a new skirt for the job interview ($5 at Good Will), it was a size 14! Before Summer started I was wearing 18/20s. My sister said I looked "really pretty" when she saw me after my interview. OK this has nothing to do with the "crap news," but it was still good news.

Crap: Summer camp at the therapeutic riding school is over. So one less planned activity to keep Bear active and outside.

Good news: We don't have to get up before 7:30am for awhile. No more mucking stalls for 4 hours a day. Bear's caseworker has suggested that he work as a camp counselor at the MHMR program, and he's agreed. So except for getting him there at 9am and picked up at noon, this is good news.

Crap: Still no word from the Sleep Study people for Bear. Results were supposed to be in in 2-3 weeks. He did the study on June 10th. He is crankier than ever because he is still not sleeping. He got into an argument with Ponito and Kitty today. He yelled at them and told them what to do and got furious when Kitty stood up to him even though he made her (and Ponito) cry.


Crap: Showed Kitty the pictures from Biomom that showed that they were in South Padre.

Good news: Kitty was a little ticked off, but has not had any overt emotional reactions (no meltdowns). I explained (a couple of times) that Texas is huge and just because Biomom was here does not mean she came anywhere near us to get there, and it's almost 7 hours away(although we're in an almost direct line if she came by car which she probably did. Kitty does not need to know that). I think I'm going to respond to Biomom's e-mail asking about it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Job interview

I have a job interview Thursday.

I'm not sure how I feel about it.

The position is program director for the adoption agency that we adopted through. They stunk when it came to helping us, but I think that just means I would be able to bring something to the agency. I'm going to go all out for this, and then decide what to do if I get offered the job, but I still want to put in writing what I'm thinking. Hubby has repeatedly expressed concern that I just don't know what I want to be when I "grow up." This position meets a lot of my criteria.

The Pros:

  • My experience seems to match the job requirements perfectly. Not terribly overqualified and have all of the requirements.

  • It's a small, private agency not some big corporate or state-run agency so I might have some autonomy.

  • It's practically across the street so no big commute.

  • I'd be helping people. Not just helping kids find good homes, but doing trainings to help make those homes better.

  • I'd be using all the stuff I've learned (academically, professionally and as a therapeutic parent).

  • I've worked for this agency before (when Bob was a baby I did contract foster care homestudies with them and of course we adopted through this agency so it's pretty familiar). Familiarity cuts down on that learning curve which makes me feel comfortable and confident.

  • I'd get to interact with people instead of sitting around talking only to our sales guy and the occasional potential client. I am a total extrovert and I especially love talking to people about kids, adoption, mental health issues... things I know stuff about.

  • Income!

  • Probably somewhat flexible hours. Which means I could probably deal with the kids' appointments and issues.

The Cons:

  • This agency has a high turnover rate. Gotta assume there is a reason for that of course.

  • Would we have to close the company if I leave? Can we leave this in the hands of our sales guy and work in the evenings and take a little time off if needed like Hubby does?

  • This is Social Work. I have to assume that the position does not pay really well.

  • Will most likely have to be on call and do trainings some evenings and weekends.

  • Back to having to deal with licensing and minimum standards (minimum is the operative word in Texas). Not fun to have to enforce often stupid rules that can be detrimental instead of protecting.

  • Oooh, just realized I have no idea if I have something appropriate to wear. Yikes. Is that a con? Probably not.

Not a con, but a concern. My resume is in my computer! Which of course is in the shop for 3-5 days. Could be as early as tomorrow, but more likely will be done after the interview. Hubby thinks he has a copy.

Will keep you posted!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Biomom e-mail

Biomom sent me an e-mail yesterday. Suppose it means anything that every computer I've ever had automatically sends her e-mails to junk mail?

It was a short e-mail asking how the kids are doing. No idea what to tell her. Kitty is doing OK, but Bear is really struggling.

She sent pictures of my kids 3 younger sisters, and her and her fiancee. One of the sisters looks so sad. Was hard to look at because it reminded me so much of the pictures of Kitty when she was young. Not physically (this is the sibling that is 1/2 African American), but the eyes.

The hardest part was some of the pictures were taken here in TX. It's a big state and where they were was not really near us, but since birth family is from Nebraska this means they were in the state without telling us.

Now I have 2 decisions to make. One, what to tell Biomom about how the kids are doing. Two, whether or not to show the kids the pictures of the birthfamily in front of the sign showing they were here in TX. There were other pictures so I could leave those out.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

It's dead, Jim.

Basically my stupid suicidal computer hung itself until dead. The power jack (where the power cord attaches into my computer), broke completely free of the base leaving a big jagged hole with the jack dangling and the wires separating from the 2 pieces. Hubby tried to fix it, but could only reattach the wires to the jack, but not to where it was apparently separating from the motherboard.

We debated replacing my 4 year old computer with a new one, but what we can afford right now is not much. It will cost about 1/2 as much to repair it, but

I'll be without my computer for 4-5 days.

Hubby says I can use his after he's gone to bed, and while he's at work. So I have access to e-mail, but not my contact list or files. (Hey Purple, would you please e-mail me with a link to Chit'n'Chat?) Still better than having no computer at all (the withdrawals were really getting to me!).

So we now (mostly) resume our regularly scheduled programming.

Friday, July 9, 2010

This is Mary's friend. Her computer is dead (RIP). She's going through withdrawals. You'll have to wait until... well, either she gets a new one or she gets this one fixed! She is really having a rough time with her withdrawals, so pray for her! LOL!

Sharon, the friendly neighbor

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Two ships passing in the night

Lately Hubby and I seem to be nothing more than two ships passing in the night. Due to our financial issues and the time of year, Hubby has been teaching scuba almost every evening and doing check out dives most of the weekend. His job is contract, which can be good because he's not allowed to work more than 40 hours (unlike a lot of jobs that require a ton of overtime), but it also stinks because it means he has to constantly be aware of his hours and can't take a little time off without losing money (which of course we can't afford). He tries to go in early in the morning so he can get a full 8 hours in and make it to scuba where he works until 10:30pm (kids go to bed at 9pm and only Ponito is a morning kid so he's usually the only one to see Daddy during the week).

Plus he's still helping me run our company. He mostly pays the bills we can, and deals with the majority of the banks and other creditors (debt collectors). As of now we are one step away from deciding the company just can't hold on any longer without at least one well-paying job, and EVERYone says "we might have something, but it will be next month." Unfortunately the rent and employee salaries can't wait until next month. Hubby is even talking about closing down again. Added to that, Hubby is job hunting and tries to get some down time (he plays on his computer a lot - I think he's addicted to Hulu).

I see him for a few minutes in the morning as he is my human alarm clock. When he gets home he acknowledges my existence (a kiss, but only if I tell him to) and disappears upstairs. On the weekends he naps or works on his computer a lot. I'm a night owl (in case you forgot), and I tend to sit downstairs and work on my computer while I watch TV until the wee hours. He's usually in bed by midnight at the latest. Lately one of my employees has been telling me to go home and take a nap. I must look as exhausted as I really am.

During the day Hubby and I mostly communicate via e-mail or cell phone. We only talk for a few minutes and a lot of that is logistics (who needs to be where and when);what's going on at work, and what to do about the latest kid issue or should be said at this or that kid appointment (Hubby doesn't usually go). I use him as a sounding board, because I know I can get emotional or I'm worried I'm being unreasonable.
Right now though Hubby's upset at me because I overspent at the grocery store. I feel like an idiot for not paying enough attention and now the account is overdrawn and Hubby doesn't have money for dinner this week as he goes to scuba. So I'm not seeking him out and that just makes it worse. I hate this feeling. I want things to go back like they were before we had the kids and the company. We used to joke and tease and hold hands.
Lately I've been noticing we don't joke and tease or play around much anymore. I was reading Lulu's blog and she was talking about all the fun she has with a teenager in the house. I feel like I'm working in a residential treatement center. We occasionally do fun things, but it's not silly and joyful. Struggling to Stand wrote a post that made me think about this concept too. I commented on her post that I think some of this lack of silliness and joy is age. We're maturing. We don't love our kids less we're just tired. Is this true? I don't know.
I have a friend who is 9 years younger than I am. She plays with her kids more than I do. My friend and neighbor has 4 kids and I think she's a good mom, but shee seems like she's more like me and more practical than playful.
Not too long ago I remember thinking Hubby and I still acted like newlyweds (affectionate, PDAs and teasing). The last few years I've noticed we're not doing this anymore. We're too stressed. We're not speaking each other's love language (we just don't spend enough time together to do so). The kids got between us (physically most of the time). We get almost every Saturday night away from the kids (LOVE YOU GRANDMA!!!), but we spend most of the time destressing from the week. And when I say destressing I pretty much mean mindless TV/movie watching and sleeping. We do "reconnect" most weekends, but it's not enough.
We have got to find a way to fix this. At this point all I can think of to do is pray. That's hard for me.
Anyway, thanks for your support y'all!
Edited to add: I wrote this post while very upset last week, but I couldn't post because of my computer issues. Since then, Hubby got paid so we have gas and grocery money again. We've also had some time to talk so the tension has alleviated. I thought about just deleting this post, but decided that others might benefit from seeing that they are not alone in having marital issues. Maintaining a marriage while under a lot of stress is not easy.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


Anyone know anything about flutes? I've got to find one that is as cheap as possible by the end of the Summer for Ponito. He's going to be in 6th grade band. I looked on Craigslist and E-bay but knowing nothing about flutes makes this difficult. For example, these colorful flutes are "closed C Lazarro flutes." Mean anything to you? Me neither. Apparently I can find a flute for anything from $40 used to $4000 (average!) there were even more expensive ones.
I have a cousin who is a professional flutist (prounounced fl-ow-tist for some weird reason), but she lives in Germany and all her instruments are massively expensive anyway. My little sister played in middle school (while she wore braces and was still a little geeky, versus 8th through 12th grade when she was a blonde, busty, smart cheerleader), but she doesn't have her old instrument either.
Why couldn't the boy choose the triangle? or a Kazoo... or better yet a comb with some tissue paper? Why didn't I look right after school got out when all the kids who were dropping band were probably selling their instruments. *sigh*

Monday, July 5, 2010

She's got Brattitude

Shh! I'm still at work. I'm hiding here because I don't want to go home. If I go home I have to deal with Bratty Bob. If I have to deal with Bratty Bob without a plan I will probably end up yelling at her. I don't have a plan.

For the next two weeks the kids are signed up to volunteer at Summer Camp at the therapeutic riding school. They loved Vacation Bible School so much that when we were asked, I rearranged my schedule and volunteered. I told the kids no aerobics while we're working Summer Camp (You probably heard the CHEERS!). We have to be there at 8:45 and it's about a 20 minute drive so I told the kids we had to leave the house at 8:15am (knowing we never get out of the house on time).

Last night I let them stay up late and watch fireworks from our front curb. I'm still not their favorite person because fireworks scare me (I will not post all the pictures I have of people with various body parts blown off by fireworks- You're welcome), so I didn't let them have any. Even sparklers (they're dangerous too. Really!). They couldn't go near the neighbor's house until they were done setting off their illegal fireworks and had used up all the sparklers they generously offered to share with my kids.

I went inside early because the dogs were terrified and I found the animosity annoying at best. I let in the dogs and discovered they needed major brushing. Which I did. Poor prince left a pile of hair. Princess (being short haired) appreciated the brushing so much I went ahead and brushed her for awhile, even though she didn't need it. Scarlet the long haired Husky didn't really need brushing, but she looked like an old stuffed animal. You know the kind you've brushed so much that it's fur is stretched out and kind of matted? It's no longer soft, and you keep thinking if I just brush it longer it will go back to being soft and smooth (doll hair does this too). She hates fireworks the most and loved laying on the cool tile floor. About 1:30am she decided she was ready to go back outside so I put them all out. (Caty, you don't have to worry about her, I really am watching out for her).


This morning we all got up early and left the house. No worries. Until we got there. Bob has always said all she wants to do is work in the office (or stay home). That day they actually had something for her to do. For three hours Kitty and Bear walked with the horses, Ponito and I mucked stalls, and Bob sat in the air conditioned office playing with file folders. About 1/2 an hour before we were scheduled to leave I decided it was time for Bob and Ponito to switch places. He deserved a break (he's such a hard worker!), and she needed at least 20 minutes of activity to make up for the missed aerobics (she's my tater tot, she'll sit all day on her tuckus if I let her - won't even go swimming! She's actually sat in the van, in TX heat!, and read books instead of swimming!). I am a couch potato (makes sense that I'd have a tater tot right?), but I need her to at least move a little.

I told her she needed to switch places with Ponito (the office ladies were willing to supervise them - otherwise they have to always be in my sight). She refused. I told her she HAD to switch. She refused. I reasoned, I argued, I fussed, and I threatened. She refused. Finally I walked out, after telling her I didn't want to make a scene in the office where people were trying to work. I did stick my head back in and tell her she would have a FAIR Club assignment when she went to work with me that afternoon.

A minute after I started mucking stalls alone, Bob came out and leaned against the stall door. Apparently the volunteer coordinator had told her she had to listen to her mother and kicked her out of the office. Of course all Bob did was lean against the wall and complain. She refused to pick up a rake and help of course!

15 minutes later it was time to go. I talked to Grandma to let her know we were on our way over as soon as we changed. Grandma told me that if the kids worked on their workbooks, and Bob did her homework (poor child has homework over the Summer before she even starts classes!), every afternoon for the two weeks we had Summer Camp, then as a reward Grandma and Poppy would take them to the beach. Kitty and Bear have never seen a beach and Kitty was stoked. Ponito is up for anything. Bob didn't want to do that.

The minute we walked into Grandma's house, Bob was whining to Grandma. She was never going to get her work done and she was going to fail Social Studies and Language Arts because she "can't work at Mom's office," because, get this, she needs a comfy place to study and I don't have that. She can't work unless she can do so on a bed. Hmmm... wonder how she does her work at school?

Grandma took pity on her, and tried to work it out so everybody would be happy. Honestly I knew I wasn't getting Bob in my car without a fight, and then she'd whine all afternoon and I wouldn't get any work done. I let myself be "talked into" the compromise Grandma came up with. Bob could lay on Grandma's bed and work (supervised by Poppy), and all the other kids would go out and do fun stuff.

The problem is, this starts again tomorrow morning. Actually tonight because I have to tell her her consequences and think of a good threat to get her to comply tomorrow. The office ladies at the volunteer center said they really could use her in the office tomorrow. I was fine with her working there as long as she did a little bit of manual labor. Since she's refusing the labor, and refusing to go if she thinks I'll try to make her, I don't know what to do. She's too big to physically force (5'11+" and 176lbs last time I checked!).

Her birthday is in two weeks. I could probably allow her to invite all the friends she wanted to instead of the 2-3 I've been insisting on if she's compliant. Or I could cancel the party entirely if she refuses.

I could make her (and Hubby) get up at 5:30am and do the treadmill (which he'd offered to do in the past with Bear when he was refusing aerobics). I'd feel bad about that though because he's teaching scuba all this week.

I could let her work in the office or stay home and drag her with me to work every afternoon somehow and make her write FAIR Club assignments.


Did I mention she's my "neurotypical" child? She's just being a typical, rebellious teen, but it still stinks!!! And the other kids are still watching.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

New FAIR Club assignment

Alternate Title: Family Swap
On Thursday Grandma took the kids to Bl0ckbuster to rent a couple of movies. Bob deliberately picked a PG-13 movie (the Vamp1re's Ass1stant) and she and Bear watched it. Kitty warned Bob that it was PG-13 and I would not be happy (Kitty apparently watched the last half of the movie because it was raining, she was bored and there was nothing else to do). The good news is they kept a young neighbor child from watching it and 11 yr old Ponito didn't watch either.

I do not allow my kids to watch PG-13 movies.

OK, that's not totally true. I rarely allow them to watch PG-13 movies, and if I do it's because I've previewed the movie first and then we watch it together. Most of the time the movies are ones that are part of a series we really like (like Harry Potter - which started as PG) and/or books the kids have read (and therefore some of the drama has already been processed). There has to be some redeeming factor (a moral or something that makes me glad I watched it).

That weekend we also watched P*rcy Jacks0n: L1ghtening Th1ef. Truthfully both movies were very violent with lots of drama, but the Vamp1re one was also very dark and gruesome. What upset me most though was knowing that Bear watched the portrayal of the main character's family. They were distant and controlling - all the things Bear is constantly accusing us of being. The boy complains about his parents and their demanding expectations (they want him to do well in school, go to college, get married and have a family, they also forbid him from hanging out with a boy who desperately wants to be a vampire, talks the main character into skipping school, throwing rocks and breaking street lights, and attending a Goth circus at night when the main character is grounded - can you imagine?! What horrible people these parents are!).

So new dilemma. What to do with my rule breakers? Hubby asked if I would have allowed Bob to watch the movie if we hadn't adopted. She is 13 now. She's read the book (not something I'm thrilled about either, but I can't go with her to the library and control what she reads). And the answer is... maybe. I tend to believe she can handle this type of stuff. I probably wouldn't have previewed it, but still would have wanted her to watch it with me.

But that's not the point. The point is that she broke the rules, both of them did. Whether it should be a rule or not. Whether they agree with it or not.

So FAIR Club time. They came to work with me (not popular by the way). I was struggling with what to give them for an assignment and started thinking about a topic that's come up often around here. The kid's think I'm too strict, and that another family would be better. I tell them of all of my blogger friends who are stricter than I am, but all they know is what they see on TV and from their friends.

Here's what I'm always telling them most of my friends do:
  • Home school

  • Enforced homework time

  • Little to no TV

  • G or PG movies (if any) - (making them watch Veggie Tales *grin*)

  • Only Christian music

  • Dinner at the table every night

  • rarely if ever eat out

  • only provide highly nutritious meals/ no sugary high fat snacks

  • make kids wear uniforms or more "appropriate" clothes

  • chores!! work on farm or at parents' company

  • game night/ family actiities

  • Not to mention Reiki, family therapy, neuroreorg...

So I read out loud several Household Manuals for Wife Swap trying to "find a new family" for them. Most of the people there are extremes so it was almost impossible to find a "good family." We finally found one, the Drago family. LOL she was easy going, didn't make her kids do chores. I was a little freaked out that they'd found someone who wasn't totally whacked.

Then we watched a clip. Let's just say I found out what the lady's freaky thing was (reborn dolls, check them out -they're kind of creepy). Didn't seem to phase the kids though so we talked about why our family has the rules that we do especially regarding media and movies. We talked about how the kids in our family are different from other kids and sometimes things that don't bother other kids bother ours. This led to a discussion about the family in the movie and whether or not they were good parents.

We talked for over an hour. The kids were quite willing to participate when they realized it meant they didn't have to do a writing assignment. Our final talk was what should happen when they disagree with a rule. One of my biggest points was that sometimes they might not know why the rule was there. They know if they have a problem with a family rule that they should tell me and it might change, but NOT to go ahead and break the rule.

Did it work? I don't think they'll never break another family rule. I know they'll watch movies I don't approve of the minute they're out of my sight, but Bob might have a little more insight into why I approve or don't approve movies, and Bear might be a little more aware that I'm keeping an eye on him, and just maybe he'll realize I'm doing it because I care about him and not just because I like to make rules to torture him. Maybe

Another favorite quote: "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."