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, February 28, 2010

Stolen trust

Bear was listening to an MP3 on Saturday. 1st time in awhile that I'd seen him listening to one. I told him I thought his MP3 had been lost or stolen. He said...yes... but that was the MP3 he'd gotten for his birthday. This was the one he got for Christmas, that had a messed up screen, but he could still use it.

Whoot! Whoot! Mom radar starts blaring!

"Bear, I want to see the MP3 player."

"Why?"

"I want to see it."

"It's in my pocket and I can't get to it when I'm sitting down."

"I want to see it."

"Why?"

"Because you are making me suspicious."

"It's in the pocket of my shorts underneath my jeans." (Bear wears undies - hopefully - and a pair of gym shorts under the jean shorts he wears every single day. When comments are made that he wears the same shorts every day, he claims to have no other shorts, and it doesn't matter because they don't touch his body. I've learned to ignore it. Oh and I know there are no pockets in his gym shorts.)

"I still want to see it."

" " (long pause while he tries to think of a way out of this. Then he starts talking about something else. We get to the store we were heading to. He sits in the car rubbing his knee as though it hurts. I can smell the gears in his head burning as he tries to think).

"Bear, I want to see the MP3 player."

"Why?"

"I want to see it."

"It's in my shorts under my jeans. It's hard to get to."

"I want to see it."

Bear puts his hand in his jean pocket (So much for it being in difficult to get to or in his nonexistant inside short pocket) and pulls out the MP3.

"I traded MP3s with my friend Charles." (yea, that makes sense. Charles traded a very nice MP3 for your cheap one with the damaged screen).

"Hand it over."

"Why?"

"Because you know you're not allowed to do that."

"You can talk to Charles!"

"No, I don't want to talk to Charles (because I know he'll lie for you). Give me the MP3."

Bear hands it over and sulks into the store. As we're getting ready to leave the store, he asks if he can borrow my cell phone and I refused. (assuming he wanted to get his story straight with Charles). We head home and the minute we get home he goes straight to the phone. I stand within hearing distance (the phone is in the kitchen and I legitimately needed to make dinner). The person he called couldn't talk.

Bear hung up and went straight to the computer. I walked by and said, "Say 'Hi' to Charles for me." Bear gave me an excellent confused look. "Don't think I don't know you IM on that computer."

Bear blustered something about Charles not using the computer and I walked away. Bear then mentioned that he talks to Charles' girlfriend. Bingo. Don't know why he volunteers that kind of info. Did you notice that he didn't deny using IM (which he's not supposed to use because he's used it inappropriately)? Then we had to leave to go to Grandma's .

Bear disappeared into the bathroom (typical M.O. for him, he can be in a bathroom for up to 45 minutes - usually when we're going somewhere). I walk past and hear loud banging noises. I ask him what's going on?! He pauses for a minute and then claims he's cleaning the ceiling vent?!!

When he comes back downstairs about 5 minutes later he shows me the dust all over him from cleaning the vent. Whatever Bear. Not buying it. I didn't say anything.

At this point I debated searching him, his room and bathroom, and his stuff. I decided I just didn't want to. Hubby did search the bathroom later, but didn't find anything.

So now it's discipline time. Bear asked to have his new potential girlfriend over, can't remember her name, lets just call her Kleenex. I told him no. He had no idea why. I said because of the MP3. He said, "I didn't steal it!"

"Whether you did or not, you still lied."

"I didn't lie!"

I went on to list all the lies about being unable to give me the MP3, he denied the whole coversation happened that way. *sigh*

So anyway, what to do next.
  1. Turn the MP3 over to the school? (Knowing they'll do as much about it as they have about everything else he's stolen, but it's not like we're giving it back to him and they need to know he's still stealing).
  2. See if we can figure out if there is some name or something on it (discovered the true owner this way once).
  3. Make him copy bible verses or section from a book about honesty (this is good for his handwriting and spelling too).
  4. Ground him (for how long?)
  5. Something else?

Bear feels entitled to an iPod, iTouch, iPhone, computer, new clothes, sex, sweets.... Since we are depriving him of these essential items, he feels he has a right to take them. Lies and theft are totally justified.

I'm not sure it's worth fighting anymore. We can't "catch him" enough for him to feel we're on top of things. There's no punishment that would stop/keep him from lying and stealing. We can't give him enough stuff and privileges to make him feel he isn't deprived. I can't imagine what he could do to convince me that he's earning my trust.

Friday, February 26, 2010

It's official - ADD


It is official, there are no more ADD meds for Bear to try. Every one he has tried (both on and off list stuff) has given him tics and other side effects (sometimes really scary ones!). According to his psychiatrist this does not mean he does not have ADD, it means we are unable to treat it with medication. Poor Bear.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Adoption and Faith


I have few people I can talk to about this who "get it" so I hope this doesn't sound disrespectful.

A fellow Mommy Blogger at This Work Stinks recently wrote a post that made me question how I'm raising my children, in particular in regards to their faith. This mom is helping her children remember what God wants them to be, "take off the old self and put on the new."* If they misbehave she asks them if that was loving and what God wanted them to do. (I am majorly paraphrasing and probably mangling what was a great post - Sorry Mom In The Trench!). I love this idea and wish it was the way I raise my children, but I have a question for her or anyone else out there with an opinion (you know who you are!).

First some background:
_______________________________________

When I was a child growing up in the "bible belt," religious doctrine was thrust upon me by my dad and grandmother. I was also taught that it was all or nothing and I must believe exactly what my fundamental Southern Baptist Grandmother said was right or I was going to hell. I was not allowed to question anything or even be undecided.

(I want to clarify that my mom, aka Grandma, was not a part of this. She lived her faith quietly and we did not really talk about it. She took us to church, but allowed us to make up our own minds.)

My family hammered at me constantly to believe exactly the "right" way until finally my stubborn, contrary (after years of hearing that stupid nursery rhyme I figure being contrary was inevitable) nature kicked in and I shut down all communication on the subject by telling them I was an atheist. I had made up my mind. As you can imagine this was not a popular statement, but it was definitely easier than listening to lecture after lecture designed to force me to accept by rote their beliefs. I just would no longer listen to them on the subject. Obviously this was more about religion than faith, but I felt unable to disentangle the two.

My grandmother lamented and tried to talk my favorite cousin into swaying me away from "the dark side." She drove my dad nuts doing the same thing. Kudos to them for only having one or two discussions and letting it go. Of course Dad's "discussion" was to tell me the story of a man who was dying and went to each of his sons to tell them he loved them and would see him again on the other side, except his last son who didn't believe in God, to whom the dad said, "Goodbye." Subtle Dad.

Hubby and I got married (almost 16 years ago!) in my mom's church, but neither one of us was particularly religious. I just wanted a church wedding with a real "non-tacky" wedding dress! *grin*

About 5 years ago I started feeling that something was missing and I wanted to try again with God. It was very hard. I wanted that "child-like faith" to build on, and felt like I was trying to force myself to love someone. Kind of like if someone told you that not only did you have to believe in Santa Claus again, but you had to LOVE him. Belief in someone you've been told doesn't exist, with the beliefs of others being a conflicting, often antagonistic, mess is not exactly easy. At the same time though, I craved the "magical thinking" there's someone out there who can fix everything if you believe hard enough. That loves you unconditionally.

Someone once told me that a woman's relationship with God often mimics her relationship with her father. Well, as I mentioned before, I'm pretty sure I had an attachment disorder and I didn't trust my dad or any man.

I didn't have a lot of faith in anyone and God seemed less than useless in that he couldn't even give me direct support or advice (at least I didn't think so). I had never felt what I had heard others with extremely strong faith talking about, that "knowing" that God was there and cared about them and was involved in their lives. Deep down I thought God may have existed once, may still exist, but certainly didn't get involved anymore. I needed to stick my fingers in the holes in His hands, but He wasn't there in front of me.

Some of this was pride too. I didn't want to be caught believing in something that didn't really exist. Some of it was fear. What if I don't believe, and he really exists and I've just condemned myself. And some was just convoluted. If I'm believing just so I won't go to hell, does that count? How do I know I'm believing because I really believe or just because I want to, or am I just covering my bets in case it is true....

I read The Case for Faith, and it helped me answer a lot of my questions and resolve some religious points that seemed mutually exclusive. It also led me to some other books like Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis that helped me to decide it was best to "Fake It Until You Make It" in regards to having faith and believing in God. After all, what did it really hurt? This eventually became a major philosophy in my life, but more on that later.

When we decided to adopt it was more of a coicidence that the adoption agency was a Christian one and then we were presented with a dilemna. The agency required a reference from our family pastor. By a sad coincidence the pastor who married Hubby and I to each other had recently passed away, so we used that as an excuse for not using him as a reference and got a reference from a long time friend who talked more about our Christian values than our beliefs.

We did start attending a church though.

Over the years my faith has slowly grown and become less "fake it" and more "make it." Not coincidentally this is how my trust and faith in Hubby grew too, and was my philosophy with the adopted kids as well. I strongly agree with Katharine Leslie (a noted author on RAD) that no matter how much we would like to pretend it could happen, no one instantly falls in love with an older child. Infant features have a built in biological imperative that we love and protect them, but once they out grow that... there are no short cuts.

RAD kids work hard at proving themselves unloveable so it's no surprise that it is hard work. Older kids know you won't instantly love them when you've never even met them before (and they believe they are unloveable), therefore if we tell them we love them, not only are we are lying to them, but they know it.

_______________________________________

And we're back!

My concern is that my children have very little faith (equal to the amount of trust they have) and I worry that if I push the concept of God on them, especially in terms that could be taken as implied criticism (would God like that?), that they will push away from God like they push away from me.

On the other hand, my kids don't learn by observation or role models, they have to learn kinetically (learning by doing) so maybe I need to do more in this area. I tend to be fairly quiet about my faith, because I'm just now starting to feel like I'm no longer a "newbie." Should I be living loud with my faith?

I don't encourage or discourage my kids' steps in the direction of faith. When Bear wanted to get baptised and Kitty followed along, I was happy, but didn't really believe much would come from it. Now, two years later, the three older kids are being confirmed (learning more about the church and committing to it). They are very gung ho, but I'm realistic enough to know that some of that is hanging around with other kids.

There are some things I do without giving my reasons unless asked: I don't allow PG-13 movies (or worse), even for my 16 year old. The kids and I only listen to Christian music (well, the kids are supposed to only listen to it). I'm a firm believer in "garbage in, garbage out."** (which is a great song by the way! You can listen to it here. Also, Slow Fade - be careful little ears what you hear!). The kids go to Sunday School every Sunday.

For a long time I made a committment to start attending Sunday School regularly too (church is hard for me - I get more from Sunday School), but one day Hubby told me he felt uncomfortable with me sharing in class, and all I'd said was please pray for our family - no details regarding why. (It's not a secret though - I'm just as open in real life as I am here!).

Hubby is a very private person, and he would probably hate this blog if he ever read it (he certainly can read it, but chooses not to). He knows I'm very open, but I think he prefers to live in denial. Me saying something in Sunday School meant he couldn't ignore it.

I stopped wanting to go to church, because I'm not good at censoring myself and one big reason I went was for the support and affirmation. Hubby didn't care either way. So now we sleep in on Sundays (we can certainly use the extra sleep). The kids spend almost every Saturday night at Grandma's (we really are amazingly blessed!) so they go to Sunday School with her.

So am I sending the wrong message to my kids? Should I be more blatant about my faith? Should I talk about what God wants them to do? I want my children to have faith, but I don't have very strong role models in how to give that to them. Especially Bear and Kitty. Am I doing enough, too much? WWJD?

***



*(Col 3:9-10) Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.


**Philipians 4:8 — “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”


***"Train up a child in the way he should go:And when he is old, he will not depart from it."Proverbs 22:6 King James Version


Snow boy!


Here's my "baby" with his snow man. They used all the snow from the whole yard to build this little guy. Notice the green grass behind them. The snow lasted only one morning and I think we got only 2 inches. He's wearing my gloves which are just for warmth and I had the only pair. They were sopping wet through and through. Apparently it was better than the socks that most of the kids were wearing though. No one around here has mittens or gloves of course!
I still hate s**w!!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I hate s**w days


It's Central TX. It is not supposed to s**w!! I hate this stuff. *sigh* The kids loved it though.

Only Bear got out of school early. He FINALLY finished his community service for the next door neighbor (I let him have over a friend to help him). He spent the rest of the evening doing "school work" - I really think this is BS and an excuse to play on the internet, but didn't want to mess with it.

None of my kids or my niece and nephew have mittens and coats so they used socks instead. They built a couple of snow men using all the snow they could scrape up from the yard. Threw lots of snowballs. And had a blast.

Kitty brought in half the neighborhood girls to warm up. She tried to give them hot chocolate, but it was gone. They kept begging me to turn on the gas fireplace.

Bob nailed Ponito with a snowball (it apparently hurt him), but came in furious because the neighbor boy pelted her with snowballs and she'd never even thrown one at him. I explained she'd started it by throwing the first snow ball, but she went to pout in her room (and do homework).

Finally had to drag Ponito in by his frozen, numb fingers and make him change to warm dry clothes.

Hubby is teaching scuba all week so I'm "single parenting" - not my favorite thing. I don't drive in s**w so I worked from home all day. Might be why I didn't have a lot of patience for Kitty.

I really hope this stuff goes away soon. It's hard to pretend it's sand when it's right there on the ground and my car. Plus, I refuse to drive in it, and I need to go to work. The kids have 2 hour Late Starts tomorrow and Hubby has to go to work on time so I'll have to take them all to school.

I need a Snuggie!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Oh the irony!

A fellow parent had a concern with Beyond Consequences because it felt like she was being told not to give our kids any consequences, and that all the responsibility was being given to the parents and the kids didn't have to do anything.

We've had similar concerns with Beyond Consequences. Just like with medicine, not every technique or treatment works the same way, if at all, with every child. That said, I do like Beyond Consequences because it helps me remember why my child is acting the way he or she is, and have more empathy and patience with them. It does make me feel like all of the burden is on the parent, but I interpret it to mean that we should not give consequences In The Heat Of The Moment because the kids are shut down and unable to process it. For example, if the child begins yelling and screaming at you over not wanting to do a chore, this is not the time to be punishing them. Instead help them regulate and calm and then later, when the child is emotionally stable reintroduce the concept or discuss consequences.

Chores are a huge trigger for Kitty. If I pushed consequences in the heat of the battle, she would rather die than comply, so would end up being grounded for life, have 5 pg writing assignments, have nothing in her room (because it was all taken away)… and I would most likely have a damaged relationship, bite marks, smashed cabinets, suicidal and homicidal threats, yet another visit from the police with hours wasted in the lobby of the local psych hospital getting her signed in, and 2 weeks of visiting her at said hospital (in case you haven’t guessed yes, this actually happened over being asked to put a load of dishes in the dishwasher). Obviously she didn’t much care about being grounded or any other consequences then. I’m not saying this still might not have happened, but under the same circumstances when I focused on empathy and trying to help her emotionally regulate and blew off actually getting the chore done the severity of the meltdown was much less severe.

Now I look at things that trigger her and try to find ways to keep them from happening or being so severe. Maybe break it down into smaller pieces if possible, or put it at times when she is a little more fresh and emotionally regulated.

Cleaning the kitchen was a big trigger that ALWAYS caused big issues. Rather than fuss at her and force her to comply, or drop the issue entirely, we broke the chore down into smaller pieces. Now she does the floors on Tuesday, wipes down the stovetop and wipes the front of the refrigerator on Wednesday, and on Saturdays she wipes down the front of the cabinets. Rather than assigning a day to do dishes, we finally decided to assign a time. That way if she misses it because she can’t handle it then we only miss one load and we don’t get as much backlog (this is huge for a family of our size). We also assigned her chores that don’t matter so much if they don’t get done. Sometimes one of us helps her get her chores done when she looks like she’s overwhelmed. As she gets better she can handle more.



So here's the irony. Tonight I had a huge fight with her because she didn’t want to do the dishes! *sigh*

I lost my temper and yelled at her. I rarely yell (like maybe 3 times in the last 3 years), but I'm tired of being told,

  • Kitty: "I'll unload and that's all I'm going to do... I'll come back later and do it.
(I should be thinking, she needs a break to keep from getting overwhelmed, but instead I'm thinking, yea right, you'll never come back).
  • Kitty: "You love your kids more than me."
(I should be thinking this means Kitty needs reassurance of my love, but instead I'm thinking I'm so tired of this and I know I have no way of convincing her I love her too, no matter how often or in how many ways I say I love her and my hearts big enough to love all my kids and more.)
  • "No one else does their chores."
(I should be thinking Kitty is feeling that she's being forced to do more than others and feeling picked on. Instead I'm thinking, yea right, you just can't they think of anything original to say so you pulled out the same tired old argument that you've heard everyone use. I'm also thinking that if this was an accepted excuse then none of the kids would ever do chores again so no way I can let her get away with this.)
  • Kitty: "You never make Bob do her chores... I have homework too"
(I should be thinking Kitty is jealous and feels that others are getting things, privileges, that I want. Instead I'm thinking nice try at distracting, but I ain't falling for that. Yea, you have a little bit of homework now (a few weeks ago the IEP team decided she was ready to start trying homework), but nothing like the hours and hours that Bob does, and you don't do it anyway).
  • Kitty: "I hate this family. I never had to do chores in foster care."
(I should be thinking Kitty is scared and wanting to push us away. Instead I'm not responding to the hate the family part and arguing with her. Every family has chores. The chores may be different in other places, but this is how we do chores in our family.)
  • "You're going to stand there and criticize how I do the dishes. You don't criticize anyone else or tell anyone else what to do even though Ponito obviously did it wrong."
(I should be thinking one of Kitty's biggest triggers is criticism. Instead I told her, in less abrubt terms, that's because you both do it wrong, but I'm not usually there when Ponito loads the dishwasher.
  • Kitty: "I'd rather do kitty litter every day. I just hate dishes. I don't want to do them.
(I don't even know what I should be thinking. All I want to say is, tough toenails. I don't know anyone who likes doing dishes, but everyone has to deal with dishes and everyone in our family does them. Put on your big girl panties and just do them. All you have to do is load and unload a freakin' dishwasher!)
  • Kitty: "I'm just never going to eat again, then I don't have to do dishes."
(Truthfully I know she has food issues and I think this is tangled in this. I should be thinking she's afraid of not having food and she's doesn't have control- which is scary for her. Instead I just told her, we all clean up messes we didn't make. You're doing dishes anyway. I thought but didn't say, that there was no way she'd miss a meal - and I was definitely right on that one - although she did leave a bunch of food on her plate - one of her biggest complaints.)
Dinner was late, which didn't go over with Kitty who was "starving" (instantly forgot she wasn't going to eat. After I yelled at her she stormed out of the room. I told her I was going to be standing within 4 feet of her at all times if she didn't go to her room. She eventually went to her room. Normally I'd follow her and help her emotionally regulate, but tonight I needed to finish making dinner and didn't really want to deal with her. She cried in her room and came out still angry. We talked briefly and she calmed down a little.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sewing

Bob as Cinderella in a fancy dress I made for her. Ponito as Prince Charming in his own homemade costume. Here's more of my kids' costumes: Ponito costumes here
Bob costumes here

I've made some unusual projects and refused even more. Talk of the naked bridesmaid reminded me of some of them. I haven't scanned in much of my portfolio and some things I never got pictures of, so not all of these are my work - they just look like it so you can see what I'm talking about.


Some I turned down:

  • A bikini for Weimaraner's with 4 tops, one for each set of nipples. The guy claimed he was making a calendar. (FYI if you want to see some funny/cool pet costumes: Google Why Dogs Bite People - there's a least 3 different e-mails going around - each with different costumes)
  • A sleeper, diapers and bib for a man with unusual sexual habits. This one was a phone call - creepy.
  • "Unusual" undergarments for a 6'3" transvestite (although I did make him a skirt), and he was a super nice guy (ugly woman though).

Bob in a dress made specially for a cousin's wedding. She wasn't in the wedding party, but since she coordinated with the bridesmaids and flower girl, she got to hand out programs and so in her mind anyway, participate in the wedding.

Bob and the actual flower girl (Shh! I thought Bob's dress was prettier, but then I think silver lame - the girl's silver metallic top - is just tacky. Shh!).

Speaking of tacky... presenting The World's Tackiest Wedding Dress.


The bride wanted a dress she could wear to the JP's office and then out clubbing afterward.

It's hard to tell in this "wedding portrait" she gave me, but this dress was made from cheap white t-shirt material (I'd been using as a size sample for cheerleading costumes I made for a group of emotionally disturbed tween and teenagers). She was so tiny and was paying me so little ($70 - if she gave me a picture for my portfolio, this was the 3x5 picture she gave me!), that I figured it wouldn't hurt to take a short cut and try it on so I could skip making a pattern just for her. To my surprise she said she was happy with the sample (?!) and I couldn't talk her out of it so I actually saved myself more than a step.

She wanted a jagged hem (think Tinkerbell) and if the v of one of the points had met in the front, you would have been able to see her *hoohah.* I added some sheer material to the top and pearls to "fancy it up some," but there was only so much I could do. Still, she loved it so I guess that's all that matters.


I don't have a picture of the Naked Bridesmaid, so you'll just have to use your imagination. This was the most similar dress I could find and of course this is a white girl. The real Naked Bridesmaid's dress was tighter. But this was the best I could do with photoshop.




World's talled dude in costume (sorry it's sideways). This guy is like 6'7". One of the strangest people I've sewn for, and I mean that in the nicest possible way! Not as awkward as making clothes for transvestites though.


One eye, one horn flying Purple People-Eater costume. Technically this was paper mache not sewing, but what portfolio of the unusual would be complete without it?!


For my wedding I bartered for most everything (that's how I got the title "Barter Queen."). I sewed dresses for both bridesmaids, the best person, and of course myself. I bartered a horse blanket and an English riding jacket for the wedding flowers.









For the wedding cake I made outfits for the porcelain dolls the baker made. I've also made period costumes for a shop that sold and made antique doll reproductions, but I quit because the Amish woman who made the sweetest ruffly baby doll outfits would do it much cheaper than I could and no one cared that mine were historically accurate. (the sweet baby dolls sold better, go figure)(These are not ones I made. Mine were fancier, but you get the idea).

The photographer got living room curtains in exchange for the bridal portraits, but she made me pay for the actual wedding pictures (and then didn't take any throughout the entire ceremony!). I found her through our church, so when her pastor said no flash photography during the ceremony she listened (he didn't mean her!). All of our wedding photos were staged while the guests stood around at the reception waiting for us. None of our pictures have anyone in the pews. Oh well.
Over the years I've done a lot of home decor too, but I'll save that for another post as this one has too many pictures already. Here's some samples from previous posts if you're dying to see - Kid room decorating made the bedding, rugs, curtains, (beds and murals...)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A little extra energy


Been feeling a little more energy this weekend. I actually got some work done around the house. The front door handle has been breaking for several weeks now (the little part that sticks into the door frame won't completely retract most of the time). Since the door already sticks, this means you can spend 2 minutes pushing down the tab on the outside (or twisting the handle on the inside) and pushing the door trying to get it to open. The house is 15 years old and so many things are falling apart - this is not even the only broken door.


This weekend I found a new door handle on mega clearance (and then my little sister paid for it! Yea! She picked up the tab for a few things since she's not paying me to alter her wedding dress). When we took off the old handle to put on the new we discovered they're not the same size and shapes. So I cleaned and painted the front door with primer to hide the old marks.


Still need to decide what color to paint it. Normally I'd do red, but the house is red brick and I think that would look wrong. Maybe forest green... hmm.



I've been working on altering my little sister's wedding dress (This is it, but hers now has lace straps, is 3 inches shorter, and has had the back adjusted to accommodate her enormous bosom and little ribs and waist - think Dolly Parton!), and it's kind of gotten me in a sewing mood.


My girls aren't in the wedding, but I let them buy semi-formals (at a resale shop of course) that they could wear again for the end of the school year dance. They were aided by one of Bob's friends. Bob's friend picked a black dress for Bob (and helped Kitty choose a black dress too). Probably before she even got home, Bob decided she didn't like the dress. Plus, my sister wasn't totally thrilled by the fact that the girl's dresses are black.



We went to a bridesmaid shop to see what Bob would have chosen if she had a lot of choices. We'd done this a couple of weeks before with Kitty to see what looked more flattering on her figure (not easy to do as Kitty is very busty and has a large belly). Bob of course fell in love with a $150 dress chiffon and satin dress (actually all the bridesmaid dresses seemed to be $150). Next thing I knew I was buying fabric! I am officially insane.


(Bob's dress will be a little more teal than this one, but this is the style.)

Now not only do I have to finish my sister's dress, fix my ugly Matron of Honor dress** by adding a lace inset to and mending it (I got it for 2 dollars cause it had a ripped out zipper), but I also have to make a fancy dress for my daughter... aaand... make ivory jackets for both girls to make their dresses more appropriate for the wedding, and lighten them up for a spring afternoon wedding. (Has to be both girls because if I don't do anything for Kitty she'll feel horribly abused. Her jacket will need to be fancier and "better" than Bob's to justify the fact that I made Bob's dress).


Yea, I'm nuts.

** My dress is not really ugly, but I hate the color. I love jewel tones and black. My dress is sort of a cafe au lait which matches the lace on my sister's dress. I hate browns and they don't look good on me. Plus the dress reminds me of "The Naked Bridesmaid." Back when I used to sew professionally I made a bridesmaid dress for a girl who had been given the fabric and pattern by an out of state bride. The dress was very form fitting. The color - cafe au lait. The girl's skin color? Also cafe au lait. She truly looked naked.
(To the right is "my" dress, but you have to imagine it in a size 18, with my ample bosum making the neckline practically obscene and pushing the shoulder straps off the shoulder. I'm adding a lace inset (from leftovers off the wedding gown) to cover my cleavage. I'll also be wearing "pearls" in the exact same Frappucino color (that's what the store calls it). The other bridesmaids (ages 7 and 5) will be wearing Ivory dresses with Frappucino accents. They both get tiaras like the bride. *pout*





Friday, February 19, 2010

Better e-mail?

Ok, I'm trying to take y'all's advice and see if I can word my e-mails better. Here's one I just sent to Bear's admin and case manager.

Thank you very much for your efforts regarding keeping Bear in the classroom. It is my understanding of the teachers’ reports, that just having the teachers tracking his leaving the class has reduced the amount of time he is out of class.

Next Steps:
Now that we know Bear was leaving class excessively, and have curtailed this, I believe next steps should be dealing with any consequences to this step up in supervision. If the school staff feel that these consequences are Bear’s recent failing grades and increasing issues with teachers and students, or that these are caused by the final transition from the Special School for Emotionally Disturbed Kids, then it is time to discuss what needs to happen next to help Bear get back on track and resume his education.

Escorting:
I do wish to request that Bear not actually be escorted when he leaves the classroom, unless he is being escorted for the same reasons as the other students, in which case I would appreciate it if he know that was why or at least know he is not being escorted at my request (which of course I did not request) or because the School Behavior Program staff have a personal vendetta against him.

Mary
Better?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Answering some comments

Jennie - Before Hubby, I not only allowed everyone to criticise me I asked for it. It hurt like anything, but I tried to be EVERYthing they wanted (like a personality chameleon). I was the perfect girlfriend, perfect friend, perfect student -on the outside. Inwardly I was beating myself up because I knew it was all a lie, and if they found out they would leave me (which they eventually did anyway or I pushed them away because I couldn't stand waiting for them to do it).



I believe I had/have an attachment disorder, but at the very least I had a severe distrust of people, especially men. It took many years to get to where I could trust Hubby would stay (it still amazes me). It took even more to figure out what I needed from our relationship to be happy (I love Love Languages!). Even those were hard to figure out for me because I had denied my own wants for so long.



Over the years, Hubby has probably inadvertantly criticized me more than I realize, but because I trust him now I'm not as sensitive (I know it doesn't seem that way on my blog!). Just like Kitty's perception issues (if Hubby speaks firmly or even implies criticism she had huge meltdowns because he's "yelling at her") are improving so are mine. Believe me I have a lot of empathy for Kitty in this area, and a lot of pity for poor Hubby because he has to go through it all over again. I guess he's used to walking on eggshells.



Kristina P. - I'm pretty sure my e-mails aren't usually worded in a way that is telling the therapist what to do or what to work on. Most of my e-mails aren't even to the therapist, I merely copy him so he'll be aware of what is going on in Bear's life outside the office.



Honestly I'm so used to having to justify Bear needing services or our restrictions to everyone, that I want to keep it fresh in everyone's mind that despite appearances he is not healed or an adult. The school especially is notorious for trying to put him in the "Least Restrictive Environment" and there is so little that they will acknowledge as justification for keeping him where he is (mostly that whatever it is has to happen on campus and be caught by one of them). So when something does happen (like bringing drugs to school, wandering the halls, trying to get restraining orders on the behavior program staff, or his latest escapade - plagerizing homework assignments), I tend to rub their noses in it.



I'm a firm believer in documentation as well, because I've found that the school is even worse than Bear about blank slates. Every time he changes schools or programs, no one knows his history, and that means that not only does he get a huge opportunity to manipulate and get into unsupervised trouble, but we look like the worst over protective, restrictive and punitive parents. This is NOT good for Bear. He already thinks adults are stupid and there to be manipulated, but he really doesn't need to hear that we're mean, unreasonable parents - he already thinks that.



Bear doesn't get to see my Mama Bear side much because he doesn't see that I'm fighting to get what he needs. He'll probably be seeing it soon, because the school is about to hear from me. His case manager and I talked about my concerns for Bear wandering the school and getting into trouble - our solution was to let all his teachers know to be aware of it. I found out yesterday that the case manager had gone a step further than this and has asked all teachers to call the Behavior Program and have him escorted any time he leaves the classroom. One stood outside the door while he peed the other day. This is the staff he's already paranoid are following him around, AND he was told that this was at my request! Talk about Least Restrictive Environment?! They're going to have a hard time justifying this to me.



Thanks again for the support and virtual hugs guys!! I've really needed every one lately, and if you pray, we could really use a lot of those too. Yesterday was a really tough day that for once had nothing really to do with the kids.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Therapist choice

We've been searching for a new therapist for Bear. This is not easy even though we're in a pretty urban area.

Characteristics we're looking for in a therapist:

  • Male (Bear seems to respond better to them)
  • Specializing in adolescents
  • Takes Medicaid
  • Not too far from home (within a 15 minute drive preferred but we would have gone outside that if necessary)
  • Experience with kids of trauma and having at least heard of RAD
  • Experience with personality disorders preferred
  • Willing to provide at least some support to parents
  • Can get Bear to communicate (doesn't do all the talking or let him get away with "I don't know" or eating their plants)
  • Won't let Bear avoid dealing with his issues
  • Doesn't expect Bear to trust him, but does "click" to some extent
I found 4 therapists that on paper met most of these characteristics. The "coolest" one was full and was not taking new patients. One just said he was unable to help at this time (after I called and e-mailed twice).
The first therapist we met with had all the experience we were looking for, and officed very close by (actually officed with one of Bear's old therapists), but he was a talk therapist.
We've tried talk therapy with Bear before. Bear enjoyed getting some attention and a chance to vent, but that was it. After about a year, the therapist said that was all he could do with Bear and maybe when Bear was older he'd want to address the past. I did not like Bear's last therapist's approach, but he did seem to have a proactive manner and didn't just let Bear vent.
This talk therapist was on the older side, and did about 85% of the talking. Bear zoned quite a bit (even I did a little), and the therapist said if Bear wanted to nap or just sit quietly and meditate that would be OK. He was a nice guy and I liked him, but Bear only has 1 1/2 years at most in therapy, before he can choose to no longer go.
One thing I did like about this guy was he made it very clear that Bear's issues were usually due to Bear's choices. He could choose the dark or light path. He also told Bear that while he did not have a choice in whether or not to go to therapy, Bear did have a choice of which therapist to choose.
The second therapist was a lot younger, which Bear wasn't sure he liked. This therapist has quite a bit of experience and even used to be a football coach. He has an eclectic approach, but it includes cognitive behavioral therapy (still need to research that). My favorite part was that with children and adolescents he requires at least 2 sessions of family therapy a month.
The therapist wrote out a behavioral plan right then, and asked Bear what Bear wanted to work on. When Bear said he didn't know, the therapist gently pulled an answer out of him (Bear chose - improve family relations and build his ability to trust). Pretty cool choices actually.
On the way home we discussed which therapist he wanted to go with. He chose the second, younger therapist, and I agree.

The e-mails

You guys have questioned what e-mails Hubby and the therapist hurt my feelings about. These are some of the recent e-mails I've sent to or copied Bear's therapist and Hubby. Yes, I know most of these are not short, but please remember most of them are a culmination of several back and forths or not getting a response. Accuracy and persuasion versus brevity was my goal.

Also these were over a period of weeks, and while Hubby got copied on all, the therapist did not. I don't think there were any other e-mails they were copied on over these three weeks, although there might have been a little on appointments for meetings for Kitty.

-----------------------------------------
To: Bear’s therapist
1/27/10
RE: Bear spiraling

John,
The more people I talk to at Bear’s school, the more worried I get.

His English teacher sees him as paranoid and feeling unsafe. She’s talking to Bear about Bear not getting along with Hubby and I, about his issues with the SCHOOL BEHAVIOR PROGRAM staff, about all sorts of personal stuff. He appears to be confiding in many people. Most of who are not qualified to help him.

I just talked to the Crisis Counselor at the school as well. She doesn’t want to share too much about what Bear talks to her about, but she said he recently came in in crisis mode about his relationship with Hubby. Bear told me this morning that he talked to her about the staff at SCHOOL BEHAVIOR PROGRAM. He said one day he went into the SCHOOL BEHAVIOR PROGRAM room because he was upset about something, but Ms. R started yelling at him about how he needed to be doing what he was supposed to be doing. Something about when he walked into the SCHOOL BEHAVIOR PROGRAM room (or maybe school in general) that he had no rights at all. That they could tell him what to do and he had no choices. (Obviously NOT something Bear likes to hear). Bear’s case manager, Ms. D, who works in the SCHOOL BEHAVIOR PROGRAM room, was “just standing there listening.” Since she works in the SCHOOL BEHAVIOR PROGRAM room and didn’t stand up for him, he refuses to deal with her anymore either. He said the male teacher, Mr. P, was also spying on him and against him. Bear stated that if he sees anyone from SCHOOL BEHAVIOR PROGRAM in the hallway, he turns and walks away. These are supposed to be one of his main supports at school.

I have a meeting with the Crisis Counselor on Monday, who called because she wants to sign him up for something called LifeSteps - which is during class and is supposed to help kids with life and relationship skills (I’m going to talk to the person running it to see if it’s appropriate) and I just signed him up for something called New Horizons – which has after school field trips to help kids figure out career and school choices. She is an experienced Social Worker who was a foster parent, but doesn’t really know a lot about Bear’s background. She is “backing us up” from what she said (Parents give tough love and discipline because they care about you).

I believe that his C-PTSD is in crisis mode and getting worse. I know he has lots of reasons to be this upset and terrified (our girls getting cell phones and he didn’t, no longer having the support of the Special School for Emotionally Disturbed, the boy who threatened to beat him up last semester just got back to school, med changes, finding out the military is not an option after school, school staff knowing about his stealing and lying, worried about having to move out this Summer – he didn’t have to of course, and now knows he can’t, but I know this still upset him…). There are probably other issues I’m just not aware of like talking to birth family or possibly drugs. I’m really afraid that this spiraling is going to force him to continue downward and pick up even more speed.

I don’t know what to do. Please return my call so we can meet. I don’t want to take up Bear’s therapy time if we don’t have to. I need some advice on how to handle this, and need your opinion on how Bear is doing in therapy. I need your honest opinion on whether or not he’s progressing or if this is part of the problem (maybe dredging up old issues he can’t handle). To me it sounds like he’s stuck and repeating the same concerns/issues over and over to different people. People who don’t know how to advise him. He has a psychiatrist appointment this evening (5:30pm) so if you have time to talk before that, that would be great. I know meds won’t help PTSD, but I think he’s refusing to tell anyone about issues that can be helped with meds if necessary (like sleeping – I’m pretty sure he’s having nightmares/flashbacks, although he’s said nothing about it).

Mary


---------------------------------------------------------------
To: All staff at Bear’s school who recently received a request from D’s case manager to report any tardies and missing classes
2/3/10

In addition to tardies and asking for passes, we are also looking for any unusual behavior. Sleepiness, giddiness, inability to focus, lying, irritability, need to vent to teachers or other students about personal life. Bear has multiple complicated diagnoses, a traumatic history and is already in weekly therapy. He should not need to be venting to anyone and everyone and especially not be burdening other students and teachers with issues that are not within their capacity to help or whom he is manipulating to gain privileges, sympathy, or to avoid dealing with his issues in therapy. Thank you for your assistance in this matter. Please feel free to contact Ms. D or myself if you have any questions.

----------------------------------------------------------
To: Staff at Bear’s school
CC: Hubby and Bear’s therapist are copied
2/4/10

Quick update on today’s events. Some of these may be related. Some not. Following this are what Hubby and I feel needs to happen next.

  • Bear was confronted in class (Study Skills) for not having his books or supplies. Bear blamed it on his parents taking away his backpack. Parents did take away his backpack when drugs and a weapon were found in it… in December. Bear claims that he was referring to not having some papers that were in his backpack when it was confiscated when he blamed parents. Mom did not take any papers or his books, and thinks it’s unlikely that he needs papers from last semester.
  • A classmate reported that Bear was trying to sell 600mg pills. Although of course Bear denies everything and claims he is being framed by A (classmate), he can’t explain that almost no drugs clearly write 600mg on them while he takes a med with this written on the side (coincidence? I think not).
  • Bear takes Seroquel which is clearly marked 600mg – a Black Box Warning anti-psychotic medication (which also causes sleepiness so Bear thinks of it primarily as a sleep med). This med can cause hallucinations and unconsciousness – depending on the amount taken, circumstances and the metabolism of the child taking it – it could be fatal. It is unknown how many pills Bear had or if this was the only kind he had. Almost all of Bear’s meds are very high strength and have Black box warnings. Last time Bear took drugs to school (primarily Intuniv which is an ADHD med – usually classified as amphetamines), they also included his Lamictal a Black box mood stabilizer which can cause a fatal rash.
  • Bear and several classmates are escorted by SCHOOL BEHAVIOR PROGRAM staff to Mr. J (assistant principal) and searched (there were additional allegations of drug trafficking besides Bear). Bear confidently complies. No drugs are found on him. Mom worries that this is because he’s already sold them.
  • Bear claims he is under suspicion because he hangs out with a boy that is dealing drugs (possibly Hydrocodone or Bar?) and that this boy must be selling something that is also 600mg.
  • Another child’s backpack (Bear says was A’s) is found to have a Faberware knife with a black handle and the OTC med Clairitin. The boy claims they are not his, and that Bear was using his backpack and must have put them there. Although our knives all have black handles this wasn’t ours.
  • Bear and this boy are at odds with each other because Bear claims the boy owes him $3. (FYI, Bear is NEVER given cash by his parents).
  • Bear allegedly returned the boy’s backpack to the boy today.
  • Other children were found to be carrying some of Bear’s things. One girl with his notebook claims she always carries his notebooks, and has since middle school.
  • It is reported that Bear gets a bathroom pass to leave math class every day (Bear’s teachers have recently been asked to report Bear’s leaving class as this has recently been brought to light as a concern).
  • At home Bear has shown some physical signs (unconscious mouth movements) that he is either self-medicating (illegal drugs) or not taking all of his meds.
  • Mr. J (assistant principal) talked to Bear about how his meds are potentially fatal.
NEXT STEPS:
We most definitely would like him pulled out of the New Horizons and Life Steps programs immediately. He does not need to be missing class.
Based on this and many previous conversations and events, Hubby and I are extremely concerned about Bear’s welfare and apparent inability to handle public school. We believe the possibility of him returning to SPECIAL SCHOOL FOR EMOTIONALLY DISTURBED full time needs to be discussed based on his obvious issues with C-PTSD (which prevents learning); paranoia (ex. his concerns for his own safety in classrooms, feeling SCHOOL BEHAVIOR PROGRAM staff are out to get him); his obvious need to be wandering the hallways; his repeated issues with drugs, lying and stealing; his trouble with academics...
Thank you for keeping me aware of what is going on.
Mary
---------------------------------------------------------------
To: Bear's school case manager
RE: Bear's staffing
2/16/10
Hi Ms. D,
Can you give me a little more detail about the staffing (all of Bear’s teachers got together to coordinate and make sure Bear’s behaviors don’t slip through the cracks and Ms. D had just sent me a summary of the results)? From the points you gave it was difficult to tell if Bear is or is not actually missing a lot of class or if that was just something you discussed.
Also, is there something we could/should do about his low grades, particularly in Study Skills? He claims it is because he doesn't want to hang out with Ms. S anymore and she is picking on him. He also claims she is not actually teaching him any skills. As always I know this is probably just his perception or he is upset because she is holding him accountable for his behaviors or he thinks she had something to do with him getting in trouble in relation to (kid who had reported Bear had brought drugs to school and he and Bear are fighting) or something similar.
Thanks,
Mary
----------------------------------------------------
To: Bear's school case manager
RE: Bear's staffing
2/17/10
Hi Ms D,

Ok, I just wanted to know if you'd seen a pattern in his missing classes or if it seemed excessive when compared across the board with all teachers (for example is he getting a bathroom pass in every class every day). I'm surprised that all teachers reported he is doing well academically since this was certainly not the impression I got from his recent grades. It seemed he was making about a 75 in most academic classes (and of course the 33 in Ms. S's class). Is this because he is not turning in work or just not doing well on tests and other grades? Thank you for all the effort you've been putting into this and keeping me posted!
Mary

Why it hurt my feelings

When Hubby and Bear's therapist said I wrote too many e-mails and they were too long, it really hurt my feelings. A long time friend and commenter, Purplewalls, suggested I write down why it hurt my feelings, and then edit it, and then edit it again! I don't know if I'll ever give either version to Hubby, but I might send it to my therapist! She has to "listen" to me (well, she would if I paid her - did I mention how much I love my therapist!).



Hubby will most likely just have to listen to the long version of this sometime when I have him trapped (like on the potty at night (don't tell him I told you that) - I love to talk to him then. That's when he gave me permission to paint the kitchen ceiling sapphire blue!


(FYI: The kitchen still has a blue ceiling, but no longer has blue roses on the walls. I painted over them and added crown molding. But you're seeing this picture because this was pre-adoption so the room actually looks fairly clean and uncluttered! *grin*)



Why my feelings are hurt (my long version)


  1. · I value Hubby’s opinion a lot and he rarely criticizes me (as in I can only think of twice including this one
  2. · I hate confrontation and discord
  3. · My mom was told she talked too much (she wasn’t treated for bipolar until she was an adult so she was often manic). She always made a big deal out of it being a bad thing. Deep down I believe her
  4. · I’m super sensitive to criticism (implied or otherwise) because past men in my life believed:
    § criticizing me was the best way to make me a “better person”
    § pointing what was wrong with my mom would keep me from being like her –at the time she was on the wrong meds - slept 18 hours a day, and taking tons of meds that caused her to be overweight
    § it terrified me to think that being mentally ill meant being like my mom – and I felt guilty for not wanting to be like the most nurturing woman I know
  5. · Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words leave deeper scars
  6. · I’m a perfectionist and don’t like being told I didn’t do it right
  7. · They’re not the first person to comment on this (though mostly guys) so they’re probably right and I do write too much
  8. · I wanted someone to tell me how I’m supposed to do things and they won’t
  9. · I write because I want acknowledgement and affirmation that I’m doing the right thing - by criticizing my e-mails they are denying me these things
  10. · They obviously don’t value me or my opinions if they didn’t even skim my e-mails
  11. · Means more work for me to fix this (finding a new therapist for one thing)
  12. · I’m overwhelmed by work and taxes and probably depressed – so I’m super sensitive.
  13. · If the therapist is right about my writing, then he’s probably right about me being too involved in Bear’s life. According to him I’m doing it all wrong anyway. He said I should leave all that stuff to the school, so why continue to communicate with the schools (beyond IEP meeting where we have to attend).
  14. · It makes me want to give up. Why am I even bothering trying with the kids. Kitty is probably as far along as she’s going to get, and Bear doesn’t seem to be improving no matter what I do. So why go to seminars or read books, blogs and list-serves?



You hurt me!(guy version – Notice there’s no feelings talk - because that will just be tuned out)

· Just apologize
· If you think it could possibly be a criticism - DON’T SAY IT!
· If I ask you a question like, “Does this make my butt look big?” “Or do you agree with that jerk of a therapist?” - LIE
· Tell me I’m doing a good job – OFTEN!
OR ELSE! … (you’ll have to do it yourself)

Thanks y'all!


I really needed to hear your kind words and thoughts. I'm keeping every single comment from the last post in a new folder in my in-box titled "Words of Affirmation." (It's not too late to add a comment y'all! *grin*)

So I'm going to continue to "Keep it Real." and since not one of you complained about the length of my posts, don't expect any changes there either!

Purple - I heard your advice and have a whole post coming. Truthfully I didn't want to post it for a couple of days because I wanted the last post to stay on top for a bit.

For those "newbies" there are some posts I'm particularly proud of and that really helped us a lot, even though we don't need them as much anymore. Those include The FAIR Club and Trust Jars if you want to search for them. I think they are great with the 6 to 13 age group and I used them with all my kids, including the neurotypical ones.

Thanks again guys!!

Mary


Edited to add: I didn't think about the downside to this, which is that I feel an incredible urge to at least check out the blogs of everyone who has commented (assuming they're not already ones I read), and I already have over 80 blogs on my reader! I'm never going to catch up!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Why do you read this blog?

I have quite a few readers and a decent number of followers, but I don't know why you read this blog. I use it to vent, sometimes ask for advice, and to keep a few people (Grandma) up to date on what's going on in my life without having to talk about it in front of the kids. Mostly to get the words of affirmation I need that just isn't provided by my family (who speak different Love Languages or just don't like me very much -- RAD and teens need I say more?!)

I know I need a lot of support and don't want to burden the people in my life with carrying me. In real life I've always tried to keep the balance even. Sort of you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours. Whether that's altering their wedding dress, painting their living room, advising or just listening to them when they have concerns or problems... whatever they need.

When I started this blog I tried to make my stories entertaining, like how Bob got her name, or to share what worked for us, like the FAIR club or the Trust Jar. Over time I don't feel as entertaining and I don't know that I have any new advice (except maybe don't do what I do!). I think some of my friends read this blog and think, "There but for the grace of God..." or "Man, no wonder she's nuts." Some of you might be reading and hoping for some advice to help you with your own RAD kids.

I try to give you what I think you're looking for, but could you please make it easier on me and just tell me what that is? I'm not saying that whatever that is is all I would put on here, but at least it might alleviate my guilt if I know I'm including it here sometimes.

Thanks!

Mary

Monday, February 15, 2010

Therapist goes/ Therapist woes.


It's official. We let Bear's therapist go, and by "we" I mean Hubby. I stayed home.

Hubby says the therapist took it well, although he seemed a little surprised. Hubby also said the therapist had commented negatively on the 20 e-mails I'd sent him (the therapist) since December. I felt this was not that bad an amount because in that time Bear had brought drugs to school twice, stolen some stuff, was skipping class, we reviewed his new FIE (school psychological assessment) and had an IEP meeting. I copied the therapist on all my correspondence to the school. Plus I had sent several e-mails to the therapist trying to get him to call or e-mail me (to no avail).

I know I write long (thorough) and prolific (anytime Bear did something "noteworthy" which is often) e-mails, and I usually copy Hubby and often the therapist of the child involved. So I asked Hubby if he thought I wrote too much. (I often suffer from self-doubt about this kind of stuff.) I know he usually just skims my e-mails.

Hubby said yes.

I've mentioned before that my Love Language is Words of Affirmation. I have to admit this hurt... a lot.

If you need me, I'll be curled up on the couch just reading the blogs and list-serves for awhile. Oh and interviewing new therapists. We met with the first one today. He seems nice, but he is definitely a talk therapist and I don't know that that will help Bear enough. We interview another on Wednesday.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Bipolars in Pooh Corner

This is going to sound crazy, but I like to think of people like Winnie the Pooh characters. Tigger is obviously a self centered manic. Eeyore is always depressed. I see both in myself. When not on meds I don’t have a choice in whether or not I’m one or the other. When I’m taking meds I can choose to be Rabbit or Pooh. To me, Rabbit is smart and capable, but chooses to be irritable and gruff. Pooh is easy going and happy, and treats everyone as a friend. Even people who are irritated with him (like Rabbit), don’t get him down. (Technically I’d love to be like Kanga, the perfect mom, but Pooh has more fun!).

Unlike Pooh though I have difficulty ignoring the “joy suckers.” They can make me feel depressed and irritable. I seek out those that give me positive feedback and encourage me to be a better person. This is hard to do with Bear in the house. He is most definitely a “joy sucker.”

I want to help others see the joy/positives in the world. I really do believe that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle. I think he believes in me a lot more than I wish he would though!

I’ve managed to muddle through. Making tough decisions and dealing with things I wish no one had to deal with. I don’t always make the right decisions, but it always seems to work out OK in the end. Maybe I’m a Pollyanna/ Pooh. This is how I’ve chosen to live my life, and I work hard at keeping it that way.

I’ve been obsessively watching an English show called “How to Look Good Naked.” Which unlike most makeover shows doesn’t do costly surgery and dentistry, but works more on confidence and dressing right for your body type. I have decided to lose some weight, but at the same time I’m working on being confident with the shape I’ve got. I think I look pretty good (says Pooh).

Hugs and prayers,

Mary

Friday, February 12, 2010

Weight loss

This is not a weight loss blog, but I just wanted to say... I lost 5 lbs! I'm almost done with my second week of South Beach and last time I lost 17lbs in the first 2 weeks, but I'm still happy, and so are my knees.

Now if I could just figure out a way to add in exercise...

Well, gotta go. Still need to:

Pack my lunch (Cheese Broccoli soup leftovers)
Drop off Ponito's Valentine box he forgot - at the elementary school
Pack and drop off Kitty's hygiene supplies - at the middle school (got a long lecture earlier in the week about how much she smells so our solution is to keep stuff at school - another post on the meltdown this caused last night soon)
Run by the pharmacy to pick up meds
Drop off meds for Bear -at the high school
Meet with a new potential intern
Deliver a check
Fix a major mistake on a huge proposal
Try to figure out the paperwork for how to get out the incredibly late W-2s for all the staff and former staff
Lunch meeting with client...

Well, you get the idea.

Girl Drama



Kitty is having meltdowns again. So far nothing major, but I foolishly hoped they were mostly gone. Silly me.


Being pushed on chores always sets her off. She wants to ignore them or do them so poorly that I can't even tell they've been done. Sending her back again and again until they are actually done correctly... guaranteed meltdown. The good news is that sending her back the first time is no longer an instant meltdown guarantee. She can now handle being corrected - she just can't handle even semi-realistic expectations like sweeping all the way to the edges, picking up everything off the floor in her bedroom, putting more than 5 dishes in the dishwasher before calling it full, putting her own laundry in the machine after removing things like belts and used pads....

Kitty was slightly sick on Tuesday so missed a transition meeting at school (to decide what her goals are and what track she should be on in high school). Since I went alone the teachers decided to talk to me about Kitty's major hygiene issues. In short, she is just as conscientious about hygiene as she is about chores. So I said I'd bring clean undies, extra pads, and some of that alcohol based waterless hand soap which is great at killing underarm odor.


Kitty had no clean laundry on Wednesday so I made her do 3-4 loads (yes, she has too many clothes) and figured she could take it Friday.


Thursday morning Kitty asked to have her hair straightened with the Instyler. Bob pouted because that was "her thing" and Kitty didn't earn it. Bob has to behave well and do her chores. Kitty hadn't done that. I comforted Bob with the fact that Kitty would most likely never earn it again!


After school, I took Kitty for a haircut. She asked for a haircut exactly like Bob's. I let her because the girl's hair is so different that even with identical cuts they wouldn't look the same. (Bob's is long, fine and light brown. Kitty's is thick, curly, very dark and shorter).


Bob pouted the whole way home. I went to Bob and we talked about how much it bothers her that Kitty tries to copy her. I told Bob it means that Kitty thinks of Bob as what Kitty wants to be - popular, pretty and cool. Bob's friends had come with Bob and helped her pick out the perfect hair cut. Kitty doesn't have friends like that.

We talked about how this was like my childhood. I had a younger, pretty sister who was popular, a cheerleader and smart. My mom didn't let my sister do things in "my areas" so she wouldn't beat me (like horseback riding was my thing). I told Bob I could do what my mom did, but I didn't think it was the right thing to do. I pointed out that no matter what Kitty did, she wasn't going to be like Bob. They're too different. Bob was mollified.



That evening Kitty had a huge meltdown when I asked her to bring me an extra t-shirt and clean undies for her school hygiene pack. It could have been because she talked to some pre-adoption Nebraska friends on the phone, but most likely it was because she knew Bob was mad at her and might have overheard some of the conversation between Bob and I. Of course this happened right at bedtime so she went to bed late. Hubby talked to her for about 20 minutes.

The next morning Kitty brought me the hygiene stuff without an issue. *sigh*


Having teenage girls in the same grade is hard!


... and he's outta there!

Yup, we're officially firing the therapist. Saturday will be Bear's last visit and I'm taking the weenie way out and sending Hubby. Think less of me if you must, but I've got enough on my plate. I'd send him a detailed e-mail, but... of course he wouldn't read it. Maybe I should, just for my own peace of mind. In my spare time.

After all my angst, I just told Hubby that I want to fire the therapist and he said, "Ok" as long as I find a new therapist first. So the search for a new therapist begins. I have to find a male therapist, with experience working with complex adolescents of trauma, who will talk to the parents (so far not an issue for any therapist!), who takes Medicaid, and is accepting new patients.

So far I've found one (hence being able to fire current therapist). He may not be a good personality match for Bear (older, a touch prissy), but he's worked with all of Bear's issues... just not all in one kid. Still, he's willing to try. We have an introductory meeting on Monday which is a school holiday so I'll need to find childcare.

I found one that seemed perfect, but of course he's not taking new patients. I have calls in to a couple others. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

And now for something completely different

Essie of The Accidental Mommy gave me this award because she likes the name of my blog. I choose to see this as a sign that I need to keep my outlook bright and sunny.



Incoming here are all the rules:
1. Put the logo in my post or within my blog.
2. Pass the award onto 12 fellow bloggers.
3. Link the nominees within my post.
4. Let the nominees know they have received this award by leaving a comment on their blogs.
5. Share the love and link to the person who gave you the award!



So, now the hard part picking only 12 of the 80+ blogs I read:

Some friends who need some sunshine:
Beautifully Chaotic
With Love from Sumy
What Now?
Beautifully Chaotic
Hartley's Life with 3 Boys
Mom to My Angelbabies
My Radical Family
Sometimes God Does Give You More Than You Can Handle
The Land of the Loo Loos
Special K's Journey
The Missing Piece
Thou Shalt Not Whine
Truth is Powerful and it Prevails
A Bipolar Daughter and the Family Who Loves Her
Brenda McCreight PhD
Peace in Puzzles
RADical Adventures
Under Scarlet Bird's Wing
Stellar Parenting 101

Some kids who are getting full of sunshine:
Finding my Heartsmile
Journey to Being a Normal Kid
Alayna's World

Knew I couldn't limit it to just twelve. Oh well. Share the sunshine y'all!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Sociopath

That was the third thing I couldn't remember, with which the therapist "diagnosed" Bear. Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Sociopath. All things that I, as a parent, am not qualified to treat, and he does not want to "mentor or intern" me in how to be Bear's therapist.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Parent with Hope

Bear is 16 and has been diagnosed with C-PTSD, RAD, bipolar disorder, ADD and cerebral dysrhythmia. He openly admits that he is sneaky and manipulative. In December he transitioned out of his last two classes at a special school for emotionally disturbed youth and is now at the public high school full time. All last semester he was "flying under the radar" at his mainstream high school, but apparently they are starting to get wise to him or his behavior is degrading to the point that they can't help but notice.

At home Bear has long since lost most freedoms and privileges. He needs, and feels safest when he has, lots of structure and supervision from someone he respects and that cares about him. Every time we "lighten up" he does things like - skipping school, doing drugs, having sex, smoking, lying, stealing, and hanging out with kids with major issues.

As Bear has moved to full-time regular high school I've been more and more involved at the school because I do not trust the public school to be able to take care of his special needs. They have been fairly cooperative.

I've been more and more upset with Bear's therapist because there is so little communication and I want/need specific advice and support on how to handle Bear and his issues. This is what I have come to expect after 3 years of attachment therapy with Kitty. Since we originally approached Bear's therapist as an attachment therapist (didn't work out - insurance problems), when we finally started seeing him about 6 months ago, I had certain expectations. I think Bear is too old for true attachment therapy, but I still expected the same relationship with his therapist.

The following is my last e-mail I sent to the therapist. He admitted at Bear's next appointment that he never even read it.

The more people I talk to at Bear’s school, the more worried I get.

His English teacher sees him as paranoid and feeling unsafe. She’s talking to Bear about Bear not getting along with Hubby and I, about his issues with the In School Behavior Program (ISBP) staff, about all sorts of personal stuff. He appears to be confiding in many people. Most of whom are not qualified to help him.

I just talked to the Crisis Counselor at the school as well. She doesn’t want to share too much about what Bear talks to her about, but she said he recently came in in crisis mode about his relationship with Hubby. Bear told me this morning that he talked to her about the staff at ISBP. He said one day he went into the ISBP room because he was upset about something, but an ISBP teacher started yelling at him about how he needed to be doing what he was supposed to be doing. Something about when he walked into the ISBP room (or maybe school in general) that he had "no rights" at all. That they could tell him what to do and he had no rights. (Obviously NOT something Bear likes to hear). Bear’s case manager, who works in the ISBP room, was according to Bear, “just standing there listening.” Since she works in the ISBP room and didn’t stand up for him, he refuses to deal with her anymore either. He said the male ISBP teacher was also spying on him and against him. Bear stated that if he sees anyone from ISBP in the hallway, he turns and walks away. These are supposed to be one of his main supports at school.

I have a meeting with the Crisis Counselor on Monday, who called because she wants to sign him up for something called LifeSteps - which is during class and is supposed to help kids with life and relationship skills (I’m going to talk to the person running it to see if it’s appropriate) and I just signed him up for something called New Horizons – which has after school field trips to help kids figure out career and school choices.
The Crisis Counselor is an experienced Social Worker who was a foster parent, but doesn’t really know a lot about Bear’s background. She is "backing us up” from what she said ("Parents give tough love and discipline because they care about you.").

I believe that Bear's C-PTSD is in crisis mode and getting worse. I know he has lots of reasons to be this upset and terrified (the girls getting cell phones and he didn’t, no longer having the support of the special school, the boy who threatened to beat him up last semester just got back to school, med changes, finding out the military is not
an option after graduation, school staff knowing about his stealing and lying, worried about having to move out this Summer – he didn’t have to of course, and now knows he can’t, but I know this still upset him…). There are probably other issues I’m just not aware of like talking to birth family or possibly drugs. I’m really afraid that this spiraling is going to force him to continue downward and pick up even more speed.

I don’t know what to do. Please return my call so we can meet. I don’t want to take up Bear’s therapy time if we don’t have to. I need some advice on how to handle this, and need your opinion on how Bear is doing in therapy. I need your honest opinion on whether or not he’s progressing or if this is part of the problem (maybe dredging up old issues he can’t handle). To me it sounds like he’s stuck and repeating the same concerns/issues over and over to different people. People who don’t know how to advise him. He has a psychiatrist appointment this evening (5:30pm) so if you have time to talk before that, that would be great. I know meds won’t help PTSD, but I think he’s refusing to tell anyone about issues that can be helped with meds if
necessary (like sleeping – I’m pretty sure he’s having nightmares/flashbacks,
although he’s said nothing about it).
Monday I met with the Crisis Counselor and she called in the case manager. We talked about the issues with ISBP, and my concerns that because no one is keeping a close eye on Bear, he is manipulating the system and we may not be catching the fact that he might be getting worse. Also, he obviously feels unsafe and is probably not learning if he's under such stress. We decided that we needed to have one person gather information from all his teachers and the counselors on a regular basis. The case manager made the most sense, and she e-mailed all Bear's teachers asking for info on any time he left the classroom or was acting unusually.

Yesterday Hubby and I met with Bear's therapist without Bear (Bear was on a church retreat). Bear's therapist basically told me to back off. He said he had asked me at the beginning to "parent with hope," and that was my job.

The therapist also said he doesn't think we should be treating Bear for RAD. That Bear is a little attached to Hubby and I, but that what Bear needs most is a loving relationship with me if we ever expect him to have a relationship with a female in the future. That I need to "parent with hope" and talk to Bear about my feelings and values, but gently and not directly.

The therapist told me to let the school handle what happened at school because I was too involved. I tried to explain that I was trying to back off by having the case manager take over, but that it took some effort to get it set up. I also tried to explain why I felt I couldn't rely on the school to deal with Bear and catch him doing what he shouldn't be doing. That I felt that when Bear gets away with stuff it makes his issues worse. Hubby agreed with the therapist, but this is because Hubby is worried about me doing too much and being over stressed.

The therapist also said that he did not answer my e-mails or want to share anything that had happened in individual therapy because he knew I would ask more questions. After a lot of hemming and hawing he said he felt that by answering my questions he was being asked to "mentor or intern" me as a therapist! Totally not what I want from him!

I tried to explain that I just wanted advice on how to handle Bear and be a better parent. A therapeutic parent, not a therapist. Obviously feeling pushed, he grudgingly said he would schedule to see me on Mondays and gave me a "homework" assignment (called Making progress rather than pursuing perfection) and all the new patient paperwork! Somehow I went from strongly considering firing this guy to being his newest patient?!

The therapist then said that he felt Bear's biggest problem is personality disorders (Narcissitic, Borderline... and something else I can't remember). I get the feeling that he feels that my RAD parenting style (structure and responsibility) is all wrong or unnecessary or something. He wants to work with Bear to first, get Bear to acknowledge that he has a problem, and then try to help him develop things like empathy and compassion.

The therapist talked about key ages in kids' lives 5, 13(puberty) and 15. Bear of course is older than these. We got Bear at 13, but obviously didn't do what we should have done? The therapist never said this of course.

I left the session furious and feeling like I'd been told everything I was doing and believed about parenting Bear was wrong. That the therapist thought his job was to help Bear and my job was to just back off and love Bear and that nothing I do would make any difference.

I spoke to a friend at ACT while I was pretty upset. He pointed out that there are lots of parents of RAD kids and the way we parent is effective. There are few parents of kids with personality disorders because these are adult diagnoses - so there is no way to find out more or better ways to parent them, because technically they don't exist.

I think that the way I'm parenting is mostly right. I've tried to back off and be more of a coach since Bear's unable to reciprocate (as suggested by Katharine Leslie), and now I'm being accused of not being loving enough (by the therapist). I know Bear doesn't feel safe (Beyond Consequences) so I'm providing structure and supervision so he'll feel safe - and I'm being told that I'm too involved and too strict. Normally I'm ooth a nurturing and overly protective parent. It probably appears that I am too focused on discipline with Bear because he makes it so hard to get emotionally close to him, and I acknowledge that that is an area I need to work on.

Hubby doesn't want to change therapists and thinks he's seen some improvements in Bear (but he admits that could be from other things). I don't really trust this therapist and he's definitely not a good match for me, but maybe that doesn't matter if he's really helping Bear? Can I stand to trust my son to someone I dislike and distrust. Despite his appearance, Bear is still a child.

Hubby doesn't think Bear has RAD, but Hubby admits he doesn't really know that much about it. I do think that Bear has or will have a personality disorder (probably Borderline Personality Disorder. I don't know enough about Narcissistic.

I still don't know what the therapist means by parenting with hope. I think I do that.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Our deepest fear

I was watching a good movie, “Akeelah and the Bee” and heard this great quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
-Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love (from chapter 'Personal Power')