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

Monday, August 22, 2016

Psychosomatic - It's All in Their Head

Psychosomatic disorders are physical symptoms that mask emotional distress. The very nature of the physical presentation of the symptoms hides the distress at its root, so it is natural that those affected will automatically seek a medical disease to explain their suffering. They turn to medical doctors, not to psychiatrists, to provide a diagnosis. - Psychosomatic disorders: When illness really is all in the mind

Somatic/ Physical Issues 
If Bear's heart hurts (because he's upset or sad), then his heart literally hurts. Doctors have been telling us for years that my children some of the highest scores they have ever seen for psychosomatic illness. My kids were constantly complaining about boo-boos and, as far as I could tell, non-existent aches and pains. I'm totally fine with putting a band-aid on an unblemished piece of skin, but unfortunately for me, my kids' pains tended toward the, "I need an appointment to see a doctor the pain is so bad" variety. ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME!!! Both would pop Tylenol for minor aches and pains all day if I let them.

Kitty gets sick a lot.  Alleged vomiting (always at night without witnesses), nausea, headaches, sleepiness, twisted ankles, dizziness.  It's pretty much impossible to know when it's real and when it's psychosomatic.  I try to be sympathetic, but it's hard when she has so many psychosomatic/ stress-related issues or those caused by her unwillingness to treat her constipation issues. Between her very real physical diagnoses and mental illnesses she misses school a lot. When she's tired of being poked and prodded for some pretty serious health issues, she will begin refusing treatment and denying she even needs them, while at the same time demanding appointments for minor or psychosomatic issues. 

Concrete Pain means Concrete Cause
Imagine you have a stomach ache. You start looking around for causes. Did I eat something that could have been bad? When was the last time I went to the bathroom? Do I know anyone with stomach flu? Could I have stomach cancer? Is an alien creature going to come bursting out of my belly? 

My kids don't tend to think, "I'm worried about this test so my stomach hurts."

When my kids have feelings or symptoms they don't understand, they tend to blame something that makes sense to them. If the child is depressed or full of energy (which typically feels like anger to them), then instead of realizing it is a chemical imbalance, a sign that his or her bipolar disorder is turning toward depression or mania, he or she looks around to see what is causing it. Because of their attachment issues, that's usually me. 

If they are feeling anxious, then instead of thinking, hmm... there's a lot of drama with my friends right now, or I have a big test or event coming up that I'm worried about, they tend to think my stomach hurts because I'm sick. 

Understanding Abstract Emotions
Kids with trauma issues often missed important things like cause and effect and object permanence. This is something you learn as an infant. I'm hungry. I cry. Mama feeds me. I need a diaper change. I cry. Someone changes me. I smile at Mama. Mama smiles back. If something happens and their needs are not met, then the child is going to have trouble, because we build on this foundation and the trust and attachment that comes from it. If you're hungry and you cry, but no one comes, then eventually you stop crying and learn to ignore the feelings of hunger.

As kids get older, they start to recognize more complicated emotions and feelings, pride, frustration, fear, love, trust, anxiety, hunger. They use those early interactions as a base and watch us and learn from us. How does mom handle being mad? If mom yells and throws things, then her kids probably will too. 

Kids with trauma issues, usually can't learn from observing a role model. They have to be taught in a concrete way. We need to identify the feelings for them and often teach them the correct response. "You're feeling nervous. I can tell because your hands are clenched and your foot is tapping. You're feeling anxious because you're not sure what's going to happen. Let's breath some deep slow breaths together and talk about what's going to happen."

Shut Down Physical and Emotional Feelings. 
Our kids often have limited access and understanding of their emotions and physical feelings. When Kitty first came to us, she had completely shut down her emotional feelings. A "side effect" of this was that she shut down her physical feelings as well. She had very little awareness of her physical body (hunger/ satiation, constipation, tiredness, tension…). She wasn't ticklish. She literally couldn't feel pain or almost any touch on her arms and legs. She would invite other kids to pinch or kick her to prove it. 

Her attachment therapist and her EMDR therapist worked on both her emotional issues and her somatic issues. It was amazing to me how connected they were. As Kitty began to attach, she had a lot more awareness of her body as well. Before, she could have food literally dripping off her face and be completely oblivious to it. She often didn't realize she needed to use the restroom until it was almost too late (and many times she didn't have enough time to get to the restroom, so it was too late). 

Kitty still has high psychosomatic issues, but she now has awareness of things like food on her face and can feel touches on her extremities, including physical pain when her extremities are injured. 

It's About Trust
Kids with trauma issues can't trust others to take care of them when they're really sick. That's not "safe" (this is a perceived feeling of safety). They will complain about little stuff constantly, but generally keep the big stuff to themselves. 

I think the hardest part for me is finding the line. You can't run to the doctor every time a child with high psychosomatic issues cries, "Doctor!," but at the same time, if we get into the habit of ignoring it, then you could miss the real stuff.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf
In and among all the constant complaints of various aches, pains, and boo boos, my kids occasionally threw in something very real. Sometimes it seemed they took great joy in pointing out that they'd "told" me so. *ugh*

Since the day they'd come to us, the kids had been complaining of joint pain. They'd complained about a ton of other stuff too, so quite frankly, I ignored it. Until the day, Kitty couldn't close her mouth. On that day, we took her to the doctor and discovered that a side effect of one of the meds they were both on (Geodon) was joint pain. Kitty's extreme jaw pain was caused by this. They gave us another med to counteract this side effect (which really bothered me, and I worked to get them off this med and onto one that didn't require a second med just to handle a side effect of the first). The kids of course used this as yet another example of our untrustworthiness. 

Peeing blood
One evening, just before bed, Bear casually mentioned that he'd been peeing blood for 3 weeks. WHAT?!!

I immediately made an appointment for the next morning. The doctor started asking the usual questions. When she asked him how long he'd had symptoms and he replied, "3 weeks," I could see her reaching for her pen to note, "Call CPS for neglect!" I immediately turned to Bear and asked him, "And when did you tell me about it?" Luckily for me, he was honest and said, "last night." No CPS report was filed. (Bear was diagnosed with a probable UTI and had to pee in a jug for 24 hours to see if he had a kidney stone). The item he claimed to have passed turned out to be a bit of plastic, so who knows how much, if any, of his story was true.

Faking It - to get out of doing something she doesn't want to do
Sometimes it feels deliberate, because they're suddenly "ill" or injured when they're supposed to be doing something (like cleaning up or chores). I have to remind myself that what I think is a perfectly normal expectation, could be completely overwhelming to this child (even if it's something they've been able to handle in the past when they were more regulated - check out the Spoon Theory for a possible explanation for this). 

Cleaning the Playroom - Kitty was laying around watching her sister pretend to clean the playroom. Kitty claimed to be taking a break because she was tired and/or ill.

I tried just supervising, but that didn't help. I got frustrated and threatened to throw away all the stuff I had to clean up. A bit of an effect on Bob, Kitty started whining that she was sick.

So I started picking up trash and throwing it away. Then I began picking up toys and putting them in the trash pile near Kitty (so she could pull them out if she wanted to). Kitty got overwhelmed and had a meltdown. I explained that I deliberately put the toys near her so she didn't have to get up off her tuckus. She still got upset. 

Looking back now, I realize that the task was beyond Kitty's abilities and she was completely overwhelmed. She was dissociating from what was going on, by being "sick." She wasn't "faking it" - she was dealing with it the only way she knew how.
School Nurse
For awhile, we stopped picking up the kids from school unless they had a fever or actual proof that they'd vomited. They'd missed so much school. Then I realized that while she couldn't leave school every time she felt "sick," she still needed help. Just not from the nurse, and usually not from me. 

She was feeling overwhelmed, stressed and/ or anxious. What she needed was help getting regulated again. We asked the school to train someone (or a couple of someones) in calming and relaxation techniques, and to give her a place to take a break. With a break and someone to help her get regulated, she could usually go back to class and learn.

Psychosomatic/ Emotional Eating
Kitty was already dysregulated from the playroom cleaning incident, when I realized we were late to Kitty's therapy appointment. At therapy, she spent the whole time complaining she was hungry and had nothing to talk about. The therapist, probably in an effort to see if changing things up would help, offered to continue the session outside. Kitty kept complaining that she was starving and literally ate grass. After therapy and on the way home we talked about how her feelings are related to eating.

After an hour of complaining that she was starving during therapy, I mentioned to Kitty that she was probably dissociating/ distracting herself from her emotions (she denied this of course). We talked about how she used to take medications that kept her from being hungry, and we kept telling her to go ahead and eat. Now she is probably on a med that is doing the opposite. I asked her to try to be aware of how much she is eating (lately more than a starving teenage boy and craving more!). We talked about how she spent so many years denying her emotions.

Kitty had always blocked her feelings. She didn't listen to her body. She even encouraged people to pinch her arms and kick her shins to show them that she has no feelings there. She "plays" roughly and has no idea how to handle it when it increases beyond her comfort level. She was "play fighting" with a boy and accidentally hit him in the nose - giving him a nose bleed. Everyone agreed it was an accident, but she had no idea how to prevent it from happening again. She tends to interact with others (especially boys) through teasing, but can't handle teasing from others at all.

Sometimes the injuries are real, but the child doesn't want actual treatment. They're getting something they need from having the issue (empathy, attention?)

Heat Exhaustion
Bear tends to wear at least 3 layers of clothing at all times (boxer briefs and a tank top, knee length shorts and a t-shirt - usually a super tight "cool gear" shirt, jeans and a button up. At least 3 pairs of athletic socks and boots 3 sizes too big). Needless to say, during the summer, in Texas, he had many heat strokes. We finally realized there was nothing we could really do about it. So we took him in to the doctor if he was vomiting, but other than encouraging him to drink lots of water, we let it go.

Talk to The Hand
One Saturday evening about 7:30 pm, during Kitty's 17th birthday party, months after Bear had moved out of our home, we were out at my sister's house having pizza and cake and watching The Muppets.  Bear called to say he'd injured his hand again and wanted me to take him to the ER.  When I asked why he'd waited until so late to call me if he'd gotten the injury at 1am, he got defensive and just said at least it wasn't like last time when he'd waited almost a week to tell me.

This was the second time this week that Bear wanted to go to the hospital, and I have to admit, I questioned whether this injury was any more real.  He'd called me earlier in the week wanting me to take him to the doctor for his "injured" back, but after talking to him, it turned out to be that he'd just strained a muscle or something when he was doing handstands in someone's yard.  I'd told him to alternate cold and heat... knowing he'd never do it.  He tends toward psychosomatic injuries that give him sympathy from others, which means actually caring for the alleged injury himself would defeat the purpose.

We heard several versions of how Bear injured his hand, but the most common version seems to be that he was at a party (drinking) and was playing "bouncer" (allegedly physically restraining someone who'd been drinking and was going to drive).  Somehow he threw a punch and hit some concrete.  He fractured his right hand.

The first time Bear broke his hand, a few weeks before, the ER started to put a splint on it, but Bear was honest and admitted he wouldn't wear it, so they put it in a cast.  We later discovered that Bear cut off his cast so he could be on the wrestling team (which luckily didn't happen). Now, 3 weeks later, he'd broken his hand again. This time the doctor refused to cast it, because Bear admitted he wouldn't keep it on anyway. 

Friday, August 5, 2016

A Year in Review 2008 - 2012 - 2016

I did a year in review blog post in 2008 that had a nice format so I thought I'd do it again (in 2012) and compare it to that year's answers..  I think the comparisons and contrasts are pretty interesting! 
Now it's 2016, and I realize the year is not over yet, but I feel like I won't remember to do it in January 2017.  
1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?
2008 - Adopted 2 children. Started a blog.
2012 - Had a child move out and go to jail.  Looked into legal guardianship for second child.  Stopped blogging (although I started again).2016 - Had only one child still a teen. Started a job working 60 to 80 hours a week.

2. Did you keep your New Years’ resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
2008 - I didn’t really make a New Year’s resolution last year, but if I had it would have been to lose weight and get more exercise. So No, I did not keep my resolution. This year my resolution will be to spend more time with my kids and lose my “baby weight” and get more exercise.
2012 - I don't make resolutions anymore, but I do Jesus' gifts now.  This is this year's gift.  Last year's gift was to be present and consistent with my family and take better care of myself.  I think I've been more present, now I'm working on being more positive.  In fact, that's my word for the year:  POSITIVE.
2016 - I still don't make New Year's Resolutions, but I do see myself as a pretty positive person now. I feel like I've survived the worst of it and am to a point where I can give back. 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
2008 - I had a bouncing 12 year old girl and a bouncing 14 year old boy!
2012 - My 17yo niece had a baby, and the state took custody of him.  We thought for a short period of time we might end up with custody.  Most of my friends are in the "transition" phase with their children moving into adulthood rather than adding to their family.
2016 - Same niece is pregnant again, but hopefully in a better place in her life. I'm still not a grandma yet, and I'm grateful for that. Of course that could just be that Bear was only out of prison 4 months before he went back in. I still worry about Kitty, but she seems to know she's not ready yet.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
2008 - One of our kitties, Lady Moonlight, passed away.
2012 - Our old Husky, Scarlett Claus, passed away this Summer.2016 - My mom died from ALS in 2014 and while I'm healing from that it still effects me, especially when I see people fall down (which happens around me more often than you would think). 

5. What countries did you visit?
2008 - I didn’t leave the country, but I visited many different states. The states of Chaos, Confusion, and Disorder. I visited Hell, Insanity and Terror and decided I didn’t want to live there.
2012 - I didn't leave the country this year, but I learned a lot about different cultures.  Residential treatment, jail and the legal system, and got to know more about the kids' biofamilies who live a very different life than we do.
2016 - Didn't leave the country this year either, but Bob did a semester in London (and visited Scotland, Wales, and Italy) and I Skyped her at least once or twice a week, so I almost felt like I was there.

6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
2008 - Money, sleep, peace of mind, a stronger faith, calmness and wisdom.
2012 - That pretty much sums it up!2016 - Money, sleep, more time with Bob (the only kid not mad at me all the time) and Hubby, to figure out what's going on with Ponito and help him. 

7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory?

  • January 7, 2008 The day Bear came home from RTC
  • March 25, 2008 Kitty’s adoption day!
  • July 25, 2008 Bear’s adoption day!

  • February 2, 2012  Bear moved out.
  • March 18, 2012 Visit with Biomom
  • April 20, 2012  Kitty comes home from RTC
  • May 30, 2012 Bear moves to Oklahoma.
  • August 1, 2012 Bear goes to jail.

  • 2/2016 Bear went back to prison
  • 6/4/16 Kitty moved in with biofamily again
  • 6/5/16 Ponito moved in with my nephew for 6 weeks
  • 6/8/16 Started crazy new job working 60+ hours
  • 7/16/16 My nephew got married
  • 7/18/16 Bob turned 20 and is no longer a teen. 

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
2008 - I survived an emotionally and financially very tough year with most of my sanity intact!
2012 - I survived an emotionally (and financially) very tough year with the determination to stay focused on the positive.  I feel I'm in a much better place emotionally than I've been in years.  I've dealt with learning I had an adult attachment disorder, finding out Biomom has been reading my blog for years, having Bear move out and subsequently go to jail, and being Kitty's Dreamkiller.  I finally posted the Books and Methods Review on my blog.  I've lost 30lbs and my marriage is strong.
2016 - I'm in a much better place emotionally now. I've done a lot of work on the house and yard all by myself (we're downsizing a year from now and this 20+ year house needs a lot of work). I survived Extreme Landscaping!

I stripped and cleaned Kitty's room. Cut down a ton of trees. Survived a tree attacking me without breaking anything. Painted the interior of the entire house (which is huge by the way). Fought insurance companies and won (mostly). And stained all the kitchen and bathroom cabinets  (tetris style)

9. What was your biggest failure?
2008 - My weight, and not living up to Hubby’s expectations of me at work.
2012 - Honestly I can't think of a big failure. I can think of many things that didn't go the way I wanted them to, but I did the best I could and I accomplished a lot.
2016 - I couldn't figure out how to help Ponito and I hate watching him struggle. I wanted to help Kitty accept her limitations and figure out how to be happy instead of avoiding change.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
2008 - This year I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and the doctor is worried about my thyroid.
Bear separated his collarbone.
Kitty was tentatively diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
2012 - I was diagnosed with an adult attachment disorder and started medication for my high cholesterol.  Got my thyroid tested and the potentially cancerous nodes have shrunk and no longer need surgical testing!
Bear broke his hand, twice.
Kitty was diagnosed with emerging Borderline Personality Disorder.
2016 - Did I mention I survived Extreme Landscaping? I am struggling with some issues related to stress and sitting at my computer 15+ hours a day.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
2008 - Until he was let go, I was loving the great deals we were getting from one of the guys at Salvation Army. Bags of clothes for $2-4. It was a life saver.
2012 - My boots!  I still get at least one compliment EVERY time I wear them.
2016 - My little blue Prius (although technically I guess that was last year). This year I paid for a new laptop with my own money instead of "family funds." I'm especially proud of the fact that I set it up almost all by myself.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
2008 - Bear made a HUGE turnaround this year. His time in the RTC and corrected diagnoses and medications have made such an amazing difference. We were afraid we weren’t going to be able to adopt him.
2012 - Bear's Jesus gift still makes me want to cry!
2016- Bob's-  she's fun to be around, tolerates my hugs most of the time, working hard at 2 jobs, helping Ponito get signed up for college... she's really acting like a well-adjusted grown up (most of the time). 

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
2008 - I was very disappointed in Bob’s behavior this year. I expected more from her (maybe too much).
The employee we let go because she was insane. She shared way too much personal information (the fact that she gave up a child for adoption, her boyfriend's erectile dysfunction…) with everyone (including Hubby) and was verbally abusive to staff. After we “laid her off” she e-mailed and left verbally abusive messages with staff, consultants, and Hubby. She even sent job postings to staff, talked to clients about when they were going to pay us so she would get her commission…
2012 - I was very disappointed with Bear's behavior.  It depressed me for quite awhile that we couldn't help him and prevent this from happening.
I still struggle with Kitty's Borderline Personality Disorder.  It doesn't appall me, in fact I feel very empathetic about it, but it is depressing, because I don't foresee her being capable emotionally or cognitively capable of dealing with it, which means we'll be dealing with her extreme emotional instability for our lifetime.
2016 - I'm extremely frustrated with Ponito. He's failing classes, obsessed with his PS4, lying, in denial about his depression and ADD, not motivated to do anything... and I just found out he stopped taking his anti-anxiety meds while he was living with my nephew and lied about it and refuses to go back on them or to start taking the ADD meds he was prescribed..

14. Where did most of your money go?
2008 - Into the business.
2012 - Toward the debt from the purchase and loss of the business.
2016 - What money? Hubby lost a lot of income switching from contract work to a full time job. I lost the small amount of income I was making in October 2015 and didn't start working (at a much lower pay rate) - until 6/16. What we do have goes toward helping Bob with her college tuition, mine and Hubby's new (to us) cars (both of ours finally died this year), and repairs to the house.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
2008 - Nothing. I’ve been on mood stabilizers most of the year!
2012 - The Texas Trauma Mama Retreat!
2016 - Still loving my little blue Prius.

16. What song/album will always remind you of 2008?
2008 - Anyway, by Martina McBride. This is my “motto”
2012 - Firework, by Katy Perry  I know it's not new, but it always makes me want to sing!
2016 - Overcomer by Mandisa It's my theme song.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you: happier/sadder, thinner/heavier, richer/poorer?
2008 - Happier (we were so worried about Bear). Heavier. Poorer financially, but richer spiritually.
2012 - Happier!  Thinner by 30lbs.  In a better place financially.  Also in a better place spiritually, we've found a Sunday School class that feels like they're our "peeps!"
2016 - Neutral. Losing weight due to my new job, but still stuck about 30lbs over where I want to be. In a better place financially, but not looking forward to having to keep up this horrible pace (93 hours/week a couple of weeks ago). Decided 'faith it till you make it" wasn't working and gave up this year.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
2008 - Spending time with the littles.
2012 - Spent more time with Hubby.
2016 - Sleep/ self-care

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
2008 - Worrying
2012 - Vegging in front of the computer until all hours of the morning.
2016 - Stressing over things I can't change.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
2008 - At home. Mom and step-Dad, little sister and her kids will come to our house on Christmas Day.
2012 - Spent morning at home with Hubby, Kitty, Bob and Ponito, then we went to my sister's house (and her Hubby and 5 kids!  Something new since 2008!) for lunch with her family and my mom and step-dad.
2016 - The usual I think. Not sure if we'll get to see Kitty though.

21. Who did you spend the most time on the phone with?
2008 - Kitty, calming her down.
2012 - Various therapists and service providers.  If I have to pick one, than the one person I consistently spent any time with was probably Hubby.  Sometimes that's the best way we have to talk about stuff without kids around.
2016- Does texting count? Probably Kitty. Helping her cope with her stress.

22. Did you fall in love in 2008?
2008 - I fall more in love every year with my family.
2012 - I think I love Hubby more now that I've dealt with a lot of my attachment issues
2016 - No..

23. How many one night stands in this last year?
2008 - 5-6. (With HUBBY!) Sometimes it feels like Hubby and I are just ships passing in the night.
2012 - 40+ (with Hubby!).  My parents take the kids overnight almost every Saturday night and Hubby and I get a date night!  Sometimes it seems like the only time we're alone and on the same page.
2016 - None. Now that the kids are older and Mom isn't there to take them overnight, Still have "date night", but weekends don't feel like a needed escape anymore.

24. What was your favourite TV program?
2008 - So embarrassing, but Rock of Love Charm School. It’s a reality TV show about trashy girls (from different seasons of a show I’ve never seen – something about wanting to date a rock ‘n’ roll star – like the Bachelor, but slutty). Sharon Osborn is the principal of Charm School and she teaches them manners and how to behave. The girl who doesn’t get expelled at the end, wins $100,000. - 146k -
2012 - Project Runway.
2016 - HGTV stuff - Property Brothers, Texas Flip and Move, probably my favorite is Fixer Upper. Watch a lot less TV now, and mostly Netflix and On Demand.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
2008 - I try not to hate anyone.
2012 - Still not a hater.
2016 - Not a hater, but not fond of my boss or Donald Trump.

26. What was the best book(s) you read?
2008 - I read so many I couldn’t tell you. Katie McAllister – funny romances. Terry Prachett – punny fantasy/sci fi. Deborah Hage – attachment. Too many!
2012 - I still read a lot.  Still love Katie MacAlister, Terry Prachett, Charlaine Harris (funny paranormal romance), Janet Evanovich... on the attachment side, I really enjoyed "Can This Child Be Saved?" by Foster Cline
2016- Still read, but have mostly reread my favorite authors to death. Pretty much funny paranormal romance - on the attachment side, Stop Walking on Egg Shells and keeping up with the FB group I moderate.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
2008 - Weird question. This was the first year where we didn’t listen to anything but Christian Rock. I’ve discovered I REALLY like it.
2012 - Still prefer to listen to Christian Rock, but did discover Gangnam style.  Very weird, not so great.
2016 - Mostly listen to Christian Rock. Love Overcomer and uplifting songs.

28. What did you want and get?
2008 - Kitty and Bear – no more social workers!
2012 - My Christmas boots?  To go to the Texas Trauma Mama Retreat. Bear to be safe and not able to hurt anyone.  Kitty to be safe at home and school without frequent psych hospitalizations. Actually VALIDATION, - this year people finally seem to be "getting it."
2016 - A job. Now I wish I hadn't. The hours are killing me..

29. What did you want and not get?
2008 - All the answers. To be able to “fix” everyone and everything.
2012 - To start my own business and contribute financially.  To keep Bear safe and healing.  Help Kitty heal her emotional issues and accept her limitations.  Still not getting a lot of support in getting the kids what they need (like legal guardianship for Bear)
2016 - .A good job I loved. To figure out how to help Ponito and Kitty.Support in getting the house ready to sell.A new loveseat to replace the old broken one that's killing my backside to sit in all day and night.

30. What were your favourite films of this year?
2008 - Ratatouille was good. So was August Rush. I even liked Tinker Bell. Meet the Robinsons. I really need to watch something besides the Disney channel!
2012 - Avengers, Journey 2, mostly we watch the Avengers- type movies over and over (Captain America, Thor, Iron Man,... X Men, GI Joe - not an Avenger movie but Channing Tatum!)... We got a Blu-Ray player, and Hubby invested in a program that converts ALL our movies (300+) to mp4 files so we're watching a lot of "Classic" movies!  I've had a lot of fun introducing my kids to old 80s movies.
2016 - We now have 800+ movies and can rarely agree on movies. I still like funny movies, preferably ones with music that I know so well I can do something else while I "watch." 

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
2008 - I was 38 this April. Honestly I don’t remember what I did (-barely remember what I did yesterday!). Guess I’m getting old! Hubby’s b-day is 3 days after mine and Kitty’s is 9 days after. I was probably too focused on Kitty’s b-day to even notice my own. I’m sure I ate chocolate though!
2012 - I was 42 this year, and I had to look up on my blog what I did for my birthday this year.  It was a very laid back birthday.  We didn't end up with custody of a baby, Kitty was still in residential treatment, Bear didn't live at home, and Ponito made me my favorite kind of cake (German Chocolate!).
2016 - 46 and once again, nothing really memorable. Pretty sure I had German chocolate cake with extra coconut in the super thick icing. Gave Poppy a piece at Sunday lunch and ate the rest all by myself.

32. What's one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
2008 - I was going to say more money, but the truth is stronger faith would have made it more satisfying. More money just would have made it easier.
2012 - This was a pretty satisfying year, but I wish I could have contributed financially to the family.
2016 - Have all the kids in a healthy place emotionally.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
2008 - Costs less than $3, fits over my boobs and tookus, doesn’t show my rolls of fat, and still looks OK.
2012 - I've enjoyed designing clothes for myself and my daughters, and really hoped to start a sewing business.  I enjoy classic, stylish, FLATTERING clothing.
2016 - Bright colors. Currently styles that don't put any constriction on my belly or backside (because of all the sitting). Mostly dresses that are fitted at the top and flare over the hips.
34. What kept you sane?
2008 - Mood stabilizers and anti-depressants!
2012 - Facebook was my nemesis, but the private support groups there and people who valued my experience and skills made me feel more confident and sane this year.
2016 - Keeping busy and feeling productive

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
2008 - Santa Claus!
2012 - Got a wee bit of a crush on Channing Tatum this year.  He plays the sweet, romantic, with cute buns really well!  (Except for Magic Mike, HATED that movie).  Fancy Hubby more though (and he's got cute buns too!)
2016 - Channing Tatum is still hot. Like the clean cut loyal and honest (and not scrawny) types. Captain America, Still like the human version of Shrek (Shrek 2) Reminds me of Hubby.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
2008 - Nebraska’s Safe Haven Law. Hopefully it brought needed attention to the broken foster care system.
2012 - In response to the Connecticut shooting, a fellow blogger wrote this blog post about her own son who is only 11, but has shown signs of being a psychopath (including some typical RAD behaviors), one commenter states that he or she has Borderline Personality Disorder and then basically attacks the mom, blaming her for her son's issues.  It just really hit home and sent me into a depression for several weeks, because I could hear my children in this person's irrational comments, and it gave me little hope for the future.
2016 - Donald Trump. Can't believe people are actually voting for this bigoted, hate monger.

37. Who did you miss?
2008 - Me. I used to sing and smile a lot more. That’s my New Year’s resolution -to be the happy person I used to be. " Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain."
2012 - Still Me, but I'm seeing the happier me a little more, and now I feel more confident and calm.  My Motto is now, "Saying "no" is not being negative.  Negative is saying "yes" to things that are destroying you."
2016 - Ponito. I miss his happy go lucky, loving personality. I hate that he's a withdrawn, depressed, unmotivated, PS4 addict.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
2008 - My friend Lisa. I think I actually “met” her last year, but she has been one of the most inspirational people in my life.
2012 - A woman named Shon.  She organized the Trauma Mama retreat and is an inspiration to me.
2016 - I don't meet a lot of new people anymore. I guess my nephew's girlfriend (now wife), she's a bouncy, amazing young person.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
2008 - I learned so many!

  • I learned that Love is NOT enough, but it is still necessary.
  • I learned I’m stronger than I thought I was.
  • I've learned that I can’t control everything.
  • I've learned that there is more to learn!

2012 -

  • I've learned that being positive is important, because if we focus on the negatives we won't see the positives.
  • I've learned that validation feels great, but if I focus on getting it, I can lose track of what's important.
  • I've learned I can't let others' beliefs dictate my life.  For many years I thought of myself as a chameleon, trying to make everyone happy, but just making myself miserable trying to second guess what everyone else wanted and feeling horrible when they said I was doing things wrong.  The negative comments from Anonymous go straight to my heart and it takes me days to recover and respond.
2016 -

  • I feel more confident now. I no longer need other's validation and appreciation (although it's still much appreciated). 
  • Criticism still hurts and stresses me out, but I've learned I can handle it. 
  • I've learned I can be self-sufficient now that I've learned to accept others' help.
  • I've learned that I'm good enough. I'm smart enough. And by golly people like me.
  • I've learned I can survive on 5 hours of sleep daily and working 15+ hours a day for an abusive boss.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year?
2008 - Anyway
Martina McBride/Brad Warren/Brett Warren

You can spend your whole life buildin'
Somethin' from nothin'
One storm can come and blow it all away
Build it anyway

You can chase a dream
That seems so out of reach
And you know it might not ever come your way
Dream it anyway

God is great, but sometimes life ain't good
When I pray it doesn't always turn out like I think it should
But I do it anyway
I do it anyway

This world's gone crazy and it's hard to believe
That tomorrow will be better than today
Believe it anyway
You can love someone with all your heart
For all the right reasons
And in a moment they can choose to walk away
Love 'em anyway

(Repeat Chorus)

You can pour your soul out singin'
A song you believe in
That tomorrow they'll forget you ever sang
Sing it anyway
Yeah sing it anyway

I sing
I dream
I love anyway

2012 -
This is Real, This me
I'm exactly where I'm suppose 
to be now
let the light shine on me
I found who I am
There's no way to hold it in
No more hiding who I want to be
This is me

2016 - 
You're an overcomer
Stay in the fight ‘til the final round
You're not going under

You might be down for a moment
Feeling like it's hopeless
That's when He reminds You
That you're an overcomer
You're an overcomer