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!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Letter to biomom

Still need to blog about Kitty's meltdown with the AT, but I wanted to share this letter I decided to e-mail to biomom. I hope I made a good choice.

Hi (Biomom),

I realized it had been awhile since I’d sent you any pictures. These are from Bear’s birthday. He was being awfully silly! His hair has grown out even more since then and he has gorgeous curls! The bandages on his arm and hand are from tattoo removals (don’t know when he did these to himself, but it was before he came to us. Removing them was his decision.).

Both Bear and Kitty are making good grades. Bear made all As on his last report card and Kitty was pretty close. They’re still having a tough time in school, but are working hard to get caught up. Everyone is impressed with how hard Kitty works to compensate for her learning disabilities.

Kitty in particular is asking a lot of questions about her birth father lately. She eventually wants to search for him. Any additional information you have would be greatly appreciated. You mentioned he was in his 40s – I assume you mean now and that he was in his 30s then? Do you know what state he was from? The name of the fair. Anything that might be helpful? Also we would love any photos or stories you might have of him or Bear’s biodad. You mentioned Kitty looks like your Aunt, she’d love to see pictures of her too.

Bear's account of yours and his relationship with his birthfather and after is a little jumbled. An adult’s account might be very helpful in his therapy.

Also any medical history would be great. Specifically is there anyone with bipolar disorder related to the children? Bear was diagnosed with this fairly recently and they are considering it for Kitty. Learning disabilities, any other mental illnesses, or health issues, in the family? I assume ADD runs in the family since you mentioned that one of their sisters was recently diagnosed with it too. Also was there any head trauma for either of them that you know of? I know when Bear was hurt by Mike (and others?) that this could have occurred, but wondered if there were any specific instances you were aware of.

I feel I need to assure you that I would NEVER make judgments about you, I didn’t live in your shoes and I don’t know what you’ve been through. I want you to know I NEVER say mean things about you to the children. I have ALWAYS reassured them that you loved them, but just could not take care of them at the time. Kitty still misses you and the girls very much, but mostly understands that she is where she belongs now. Bear is still hurting (and angry), but he gets better every day. The children are blessed that they have two families who love them very much.

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

Monday, November 24, 2008


I can be a big weenie when it comes to telling the kids "No" about things I know will cause an emotional response. It's why I will never actually win the Meanest Mom in the World title - although I've been nominated many times. Just call me Susan Lucci!

Recently Kitty has been asking to talk to birthmom. She thinks she's ready. After several months of EMDR I have to admit she's actually been able to talk about biomom without major meltdowns; however I do not really want to allow this.

We do not have any kind of open adoption agreement with biomom. The children were not removed from her care (although there was definitely abuse and neglect) so there are no criminal reasons we can cite. When we first got the children we were told by their therapist (who'd been with them since before biomom voluntarily terminated parental rights - TPR) to keep the kids away from biomom. She stated that biomom continued to blame the children for the TPR and said inappropriate emotionally damaging things to the children. It took us over a year to convince Kitty that the reason she went into foster care had nothing to do with her throwing a chair or being out of control and in fact was NOT her fault.

Because of the black and white thinking of my children they do not have a realistic picture of biomom. Bear hates her - with a passion - and doesn't want her near him or even to know anything about him. Kitty however has never really understood adoption or what happened. In her eyes she had a great life, no rules, no discipline, and she "doesn't remember" any abuse (although she mentions it in passing sometimes). She originally blamed her temper tantrums for getting her into foster care, but now that we've helped her remove the self-blame, she seems to have no understanding of how she came to be there. It was stated in her bio on the internet that she was open to the idea of adoption, but didn't understand why she needed an new mom when she already had one.

I know Kitty would walk right back into biomom's life without questions. I think that's why I don't want her to talk to biomom -who insists that she gave up the children only because she couldn't get the services they needed, and she needed to protect the younger children. Of course she is right. Even when I got them, 1 1/2 years of foster care later, the chidren were very damaged. They were a danger to themselves and others.

TWO MAJOR differences though - While I almost returned the children to foster care because of their behavior I did NOT (admittedly I had access to more support and services). But the biggest difference - I didn't make them this way!

Biomom is still insisting that she did what was best for the children and that she still loves them dearly and misses them every day. In almost every e-mail she talked to me as though I was the children's foster mother. In May, when she found out her last baby was a girl she expressed disappointment that she wasn't able to give Bear a little brother. That was the final straw for me. I told her that I had given my son Bear a little brother, and they loved each other very much. I didn't hear from Biomom again until she sent an announcement that the baby was born (in September) and I haven't heard from her since.

So now Kitty, who every time she gets upset still tells me she wants to go "Home" to Nebraska and biomom, is wanting to talk to biomom again. She hasn't talked to biomom in 3.5 years. She just wants to hear her voice and ask how she's doing. I refuse to criticize bioparents - I know how important that is (my mom never criticized my father in front of me - even when he was doing some pretty horrible stuff to get custody - and I appreciate how hard that must have been - but I'm so glad she did it.) Kids shouldn't have to hear negative things about the parents they love. I did haveto point out that Biomom wasn't the best parent for Kitty. Kitty has to blame someone, and I don't want it to be Kitty anymore.

I can't win this! I want Kitty to have some closure and say goodbye to Biomom, but neither Kitty nor Biomom want this. Is it right for me to want it? I think talking to this woman will damage Kitty's relationship with me, and strengthen her relationship with Biomom. The minute Kitty is out of the house she would go right back to Biomom. That wouldn't be such a bad thing if I thought Kitty could stand up for herself and see the world with the values we've tried to instill in her, but I can see Biomom manipulating Kitty into hating our family and doing anything Biomom wants (probably raising Biomom's kids and ending up in the same type of relationships as Biomom has had - a string of abusive men).

This woman hurt my babies and then threw them away. Why should she get to enjoy them now that I've "fixed" them? Especially since she will probably just "break" them again -when it might be too late to help them heal.

Still when Kitty asked me if she could speak to Biomom I admit I couldn't tell her no. I'm tired of being the bad guy. So I did something awful and then forgot to warn the therapist about it. I told Kitty that it was never my decision not to allow her to talk to Biomom. That it had been her Nebraska therapist's decision (true). We talked about some of the NE therapist's reasons again (primarily that Biomom still blamed the children for the TPR) and Kitty assured me she knew the truth and wouldn't believe that.

That's when I did the bad thing, I said I didn't know if Kitty was ready yet, but that we could ask her therapist. She wanted to ask her EMDR therapist right away, but I said she hadn't known Kitty long enough. I told Kitty she would have to wait until we started seeing the Attachment Therapist -AT - again, and had seen her a couple of times.

So we saw the AT for the first time on Tuesday, and Kitty remembered. The therapist didn't tell Kitty what she wanted to hear, but it's late and that's a long story, so I'll try to post it tomorrow.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bear's book

Life in foster caer as pre teen, it was different for me. But as evry kid that is one of the most difficut time of life. This is one q? you should ask your self if you read this book, Is it that much diffrent?

For me I thoght it was better for me than living with my Birth family. So if You are in foster caer keep that in mind, for me think maybe one day when you have kids you can be there for them that’s What evry kid need’s no matter What age they are but unfurtrly that always dosent happend. One thang that happends to kids in foster caer it gets hard to trust people. this can effect futeer relashonships with people in your life. But don’t let that stop from any thang there maybe times you fill like you Want to give up but that the time that maders the most!

Some thang's you need to consiter Why, is it Werth it and is it the right thang to do! So if you are in foster caer don't let someone tell you'r a mistak or werthless Because you arent! You are one of a kiend you will be a good parent if that's Whant but Please wheat till your ready and in a good state of mind! But Whne that time comes make it right and be there for the kid Whole life but give the baby the life you never had and do it the right way.

Bear, age 15

Magical age of 8

I thought the following article was very interesting. My question is, how is this effected by the child's emotional age? My daughter is somewhere between 4 and 6 emotionally/ developmentally. This is pretty common for kids in foster care. My son's was much younger when we got him, but seems to be getting closer to his chronological age as he matures.

This is from the University of Michigan newsletter

At the magical age of eight, belief synchs with behavior

by Diane Swanbrow

November 18, 2008

I think I can, I think I can. Believe. You can fly if you just believe. I won't die if you just believe.

Archetypal advice from The Little Engine That Could and Tinkerbell notwithstanding, a new study finds that until children are at least eight years of age, their beliefs have little or no connection to their behavior.

They may believe they are good at math even when they do poorly on tests, for example. Or they may behave aggressively with other children even though they say it is hard for them to act aggressively.

The study of approximately 1,600 children ages six to 18 appears in the September/October 2008 issue of Child Development.

"Children entering school have two important tasks," says University of Michigan psychologist Pamela Davis-Kean, who conducted the study with colleagues from U-M and from the University of Minnesota, Indiana University and Duke University. "They need to learn and achieve in school, and they need to cooperate with others.

"The findings of this study suggest that the best ways to help children accomplish these key tasks may be very different depending on their age."

Davis-Kean directs the Center for the Analysis of Pathways from Childhood to Adulthood at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR). The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

For the analysis, Davis-Kean and colleagues analyzed data from two different long-term studies. In one study, children in Southeast Michigan were asked about their ability in math and how well they expected to do in math in the coming year. The researchers also obtained the students' math grades from school records.

In the other study, children in Indiana and Tennessee were presented with cartoons or videos depicting ambiguous events, and then asked how easy or difficult it would be for them to act aggressively in that situation. For this study, mothers were also asked about their children's aggressive behavior.

With children younger than age 8, direct responses like time-outs or rewards may work better than having them think about their behavior.

The researchers analyzed the concurrent connection between beliefs and behaviors across both studies and at different ages. They found that the link between belief and behavior strengthened with age, for both math performance and aggressive behavior. And they also found that until the age of eight, the link was virtually nonexistent.

According to Davis-Kean, the findings have important implications for parents, teachers and others interested in helping children to improve academic achievement and behavior.

"Just saying to a child, 'You know this is wrong. Why do you keep doing it?' may not be an effective strategy before the age of 8," Davis-Kean said. "Younger children may know it's wrong, but they haven't associated that knowledge with their own behavior."

With children younger than age 8, it may be more effective to try to change their behaviors directly—either by giving them time-outs to discourage negative behavior or by rewarding them for positive behavior.

With children over the age of 8, encouraging children to think differently about their behavior may have more of an impact, she said.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Straw that Broke the Camel's Back

It's been a long tough year. We've managed to muddle through it. I've been doing so with the help of pharmaceuticals (prescribed!). I still don't know how Hubby does it. Today may have been the last straw.

Yesterday we had to lay off one of our employees. He wasn't surprised (we haven't kept him busy in a long time), and he took it well, but it was still very hard.

Money has been super tight all year. I don't know where the money for anything will come from. We've been angsting (is that a word?) over how to handle the private school issues but we have no idea where the money for next semester's tuition is going to come from.

Our car insurance lapsed in August (right after Hubby accidentally hit the bicyclist), although we didn't know it until September. We didn't have the money to reinstate it so we've been driving extra carefully.

When we were almost to work this morning, there were several cars stopped waiting for someone to make a left turn and Hubby didn't notice in time. Actually he did notice in time, but the anti-lock brakes didn't work well. We had a minor fender bender with a brand new Beemer. Beyond the white stripe from our front license plate you couldn't see any damage on the BMW, but the guy was understandably nervous. When he found out we didn't have insurance he insisted on calling the police. We didn't really blame him, but this is not what we needed!

Luckily we were only cited for not having insurance. Not for the collision. It's too late to reinstate our insurance (over 30 days), and when they found out we'd been in an accident they refused to cover us at all (even though they wouldn't have to pay for any damages because we weren't covered). Maybe because this is Hubby's second accident. I hate working downtown! Now we have to find another insurance agency.

So I'm trying to think of this positively. God must have a plan. I'm thinking that this could have been a MUCH worse accident and God protected us (or was protecting the other driver). I hate not knowing God's plans in advance!

I just hope things will turn around soon. I don't know how much further we can/should go. Maybe I should follow my friend Lisa and cut back and try the Depression lifestyle. I grew up that way, and certainly know how to do it.

This weekend are our family pictures (still haven't finished altering Bob's dress) and I have to make 26 pies! I know I'm insane.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Private School

The girls attend an accredited private school that uses Accelerated Christian Education . The program can be used for homeschooling as well. It does primarily work with a workbook system (although in the older grades some of the lessons can be done with the computer - Bob is doing her Pre-Algebra this way).

All of their learning is done in the workbooks except for PE, chapel and Latin which are done as a class. They've offered things like Drama in the past, but not this year. The children can move at their own pace and everyone can be working on something different. The teachers are there to help the students individually with concepts they are having trouble with.

Even the younger students get Latin. It is a big help when it comes to building vocabulary (you can use root words to figure out words you don't know), and the high school students need 2-3 years of language as part of their curriculum. I admit it doesn't make sense for Kitty, but it is part of credits she needs to be promoted (they have to complete a certain number of books/classes each semester). I am still hoping that they will drop it for her.

You would think that their kids with ADHD and other attention issues would have a major problem with sitting and working on workbooks, but apparently being able to switch subjects often, and breaks and PE is enough - most of the time.

Denise, I love your idea of the obnoxiously colored note in the kitchen. Will have to figure out what I can do that would be noticeable (it's a little cluttered in there) and not instantly covered in milk, mayonnaise, peanut butter...

Still not sure about what to do about public vs private school. I think we have finally decided to approach the local public school and ask them to do a full assessment of Kitty. Once we have a service plan we can decide where to put Kitty. My best guess is that even if the public school offers to put her in an enclosed classroom at first they will be constantly pressuring us to mainstream her - which will not work for her.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Spiraling Down

So one of Kitty's therapists suggested that Kitty's latest issues could be due to mania from adolescent-onset bipolar disorder. We can't afford to get her tested by a psychologist though (and they're not sure they could "tease" it out from her many other diagnoses.

We did find out in a recent meeting that Kitty was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 3rd grade. Apparently many doctors will not diagnose bipolar in children so that may be why it was rescinded. We also found out that at age 9 and 10 her IQ was assessed at 106! Pretty big drop to the 76 she was more recently diagnosed with! Could be the 76 assessment was on a bad day, or the earlier assessment was from a less comprehensive test that wasn't as influenced by her learning disabilites.

We do plan on getting her assessed by the public school system (although we do not plan on putting her back in public school at this time - assuming we can afford next semester's tuition). So hopefully we'll get a more accurate IQ then.

I did talk to the psychiatrist about the therapist's concerns and he decided to cut her anti-depressant in half (can trigger mania), and quadruple the mood stabilizer (Geodon) that we'd been working on removing completely due to joint difficulties (TMJ). She immediately started wetting the bed again (she hates this) and has been complaining about body pains (although that could have been from ice skating last Saturday).

She went to a birthday party on Saturday and came home totally activated. If I wasn't already sure she couldn't handle public school with 30-40 kids per classroom, this would have been a major wake-up call.

She's continuing to spiral downward and I don't know how to stop it!

She's missed so much schoolwork (slow, taking breaks when she's "ill," refusing to do homework, faking being finished so she could play, out sick...). The school assessed how many workbook pages she'd have to do a day to get caught up by Christmas break - 38 a day! 50+ if she wants to catch up on the books she missed by starting school a month late. Last year she was finishing 26 easily, but 38?! I don't know what to do. I think she's overwhelmed by the work, and it makes her feel ill, which puts her further behind, which is overwhelming her more...

Bob on the other hand is easily finishing 36 pages a day - sometimes before lunch. She was just as behind as Kitty, but is now completely caught up and has even started taking pre-Algebra. The school assessed how many workbook pages she'd have to do a day to finish her work by Christmas break - 18! The child reads fast, focuses, and is super smart. At this rate she'll be graduating early and Kitty will be lucky to graduate by 21.

We've talked to the school about Kitty - a lot! We're asking them to back off and let her do fewer pages a day - we'll try to make up the difference over Christmas and Summer break. We've also asked them to let her drop Latin. To me this is asking too much of Kitty and she could be using the time to work on other things.

I've set up a homework folder for Kitty. She was "losing" her homework slips and using that as an excuse not to do her work. We had no idea that she even had homework (last year the girls rarely did). The homework folder has a page for each week. It has a spot the teacher can circle if Kitty left the classroom because she was "ill", and of course spots for how many pages in each subject she is supposed to do - and a place to check them off when she's done.

We're going to have to work at making sure she shows us this the minute we get home so she has time to do the work if she hasn't already done it. I admit it didn't occur to me until after bedtime tonight, and she took it into her room putting it on the floor by her bed so she would trip over it when she woke up and not forget it. Ok, now that I've typed that it looks suspicious. *sigh* Wonder what she's hiding.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Love Jar

You may remember I mentioned trying out Trust Jars. A concept I'd picked up from Aspenhall who discusses it on her website .punk..rebel..mama. While I don't use it exactly the way Aspenhall does, I love that it is very visual and really helps my children understand when I have to tell them no (like wanting to go somewhere without supervision).

Well as usual with anything that works, my children hate it! Saturday's Family Meeting brought up the usual compaints. During the discussion Bob complained that I'd started the Trust Jars at a bad time, when she and Kitty just happened to be in the FAIR Club. Of course I mentioned that back then she was in the FAIR Club a lot, but I also told them that the Trust Jars weren't based on their behavior in the last couple of weeks, but on the level of trust I felt in my heart - over the long term. Bob claimed that this meant I didn't love her, and I immediately fussed at her for saying that. Then Bear said that was how he'd heard it too (Hubby was teaching scuba so wasn't there). Of course I reassured them, but this really bothered me.

After thinking about it all night I decided to show them how love and trust worked, using the visuals of the jar since it worked so well. On the way home from lunch at Grandma's house I mentioned that I planned to talk to them about Love Jars when we got home, but was deliberately mysterious so I could talk with the jars as visual aids. Kitty said she knew that my love jar would be overflowing with love. I've gotta tell you that made me feel soooo good!

So I got two clear drinking glasses, and called one of them a "love jar." The kids voted and I started my demonstration with Kitty. I told her the love jar represented my love for her the day she moved in (when I knew her mostly from pictures, our one weekend meeting, phone calls and talks with her foster mom). I filled the jar a little more than 3/4 full. Then we talked about events that happened in the weeks and months following. Every time I mentioned something (positive or negative) from over the 2 years we've known each other_ I added beans to the jar. Eventually the beans were overflowing the jar, and I still kept adding them. Then we got to the present. I did the same thing with Bear.

Then it was Bob's turn. As she is my biological daughter I started with a full jar. Then I talked about the first time she bit me while I was breastfeeding her, and added beans, the terrible twos, more beans, the terrible threes, more beans, the terrible fours (everyone was laughing) and I added more beans, the day she chopped off her hair in Kindergarten, still more beans... mentioned some great family stories involving her brother and the "truth" that got everyone (including Bob) laughing even harder), skipped ahead to the day she told her brand new sister that her cousins would hate her, and added more beans... Of course the jar had been full the day she was born so by this time there were a lot of beans on the floor and the kids got the point.

Then I brought out the second cup and we talked about trust. We talked about how Bob and Ponito felt about Hubby and I - all agreed that both their love jars and trust jars would be full. Then we talked about how full Bob and Ponito's jars would be for other people. I filled their jars a little less than 2/3 full. Bob and Ponito have not been hurt so they are pretty trusting of other people.

Hubby's parents were still married and we talked about how because his trust jar was almost full he was able to fall in love pretty easily and his trust and love jars for me filled quickly and completely. We talked about how a parent's love for a child was different then romantic love. A parent's love doesn't require trust. Romantic love does. I wanted them to understand that we love them completely no matter what they do.

Then I demonstrated for them my own trust/love jar with other people. My parents got divorced when I was 5, my sister and I had a lot of men/trust issues. By the time I met my future husband, I would have to say I had major attachment issues. I filled my trust jar about a quarter of the way full (Hubby thought this was generous). I told the children that was how much I trusted men. I told them that when I met Dad I didn't trust him at all and I pushed him away - to prove that he was going to leave me (Are you listening Kitty and Bear? Sound familiar?).

I added a few beans to show them how much I trusted Hubby to love me and not leave me after one year of knowing him and him staying around no matter how much I pushed him away (my trust jar was about 1/3 full and my love jar about 1/4 full). We talked about how hard this was for Hubby. When we got married after 1 1/2 years of knowing each other my trust jar was still a little less than half full and my love jar was a little less than that. I added more beans for when Bob was born and he didn't leave AND he changed lots of diapers (I probably should have added more beans for the fact that he stayed while I was pregnant - I gained over 70lbs!). My love and trust jar didn't get full until we had been married 4 years (and my trust jar was still a little below the top - Hubby still thinks that's generous).

Then I did the kids' trust jar for us as parents. We all agreed that Bob's jar would be full. I was losing my audience so I filled Kitty's jar about 1/4 of the way full (on the day she came to live with us) and then quickly ran through her history with us and ended up with her jar a little less than 2/3 full. I asked her if that seemed about right. She agreed.

For Bear we slowed down and I asked him how many beans I should add for each event. I started with 2-3 beans for when he first got here, he said it should be a little more. Then we talked about his first fight with Hubby and how much the fact that Hubby didn't hit him effected his trust for us. We talked about his horrid nightmares about the devil when I stayed with him all night and comforted him. We talked about the many times he ran away, and the time he got an injury during a fight with Hubby and the agency removed both him and Kitty for a week, we talked about us pulling him out of Summer Camp when he requested it, sending him to residential treatment, visiting him twice a week the whole 7 months, bringing him home again, adopting his sister but not him, the gun incident in Summer School, adopting him, not allowing out classes, getting all As on his report card... In other words we hit all the highlights, mostly of him pushing us away and us still being there. 4-12 beans at a time we got his trust jar up to a little less than 2/3 full. (I still think that's generous).

I think the kids get that we know they don't trust or love us completely and that we're OK with that. That we know what they've been through and how hard it is to trust.

We talked about how hard it was to love if your trust jar wasn't full. How hard it would be to love their (future) children or anyone if your trust and love jars weren't full. We talked about how hard it was for someone to help you fill your trust jar. Most people won't go through what Hubby did, they would just leave. I think Bear gets that we stayed when we didn't have to and I think it actually helped him trust us more.

We briefly talked about birthmom and how full (or rather not full) her trust jar probably was/is. I didn't want to go too deeply into that can of worms though.

Finally I released them from this long session! Believe me it was longer than this post. Still, I'm very glad we did it.

Slow to Speak

So on the day after the chapel session where the topic was "be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger," our Kitty had an episode that really brought home the "slow to speak" part of the message! During lunch one of the children at their private Christian school thought that her plastic container of fruit was closed and reached in front of her and poked it right in the middle. It was open and peach juice went everywhere! Kitty pulled back and yelled, "What the F___!" Yes, she dropped the F-bomb right in the middle of lunch and everyone heard her. She was horrified!

In our house I'm pretty strict about "No No" words. No one is allowed to say "crap, shut up, stupid, butt, Jesus Christ (unless they are praying)...", call each other names, or of course use 'real' cuss words. We've been pretty lucky in that our new children didn't come to us cussing like sailors, unlike many kids in foster care. Still I know I'm stricter than most parents on this, just like my mom was with me. For the most part it's been a neighbor boy that's been the worst offender, and we've experimented with not allowing Ponito to play with him for that reason.

The kids have been saying that Ponito does cuss when we're not around, and they're probably telling the truth, but as we've pointed out to the kids many times, they don't really want us to take a kid's word for something we didn't see ourselves because that will lead to tattling and lies to get someone else in trouble. Tattling is not encouraged here (yes, we've emphasized many times that it's not tattling if someone could get hurt or is getting hurt).

Recently Ponito got busted on the cussing (something we expected). If you say something often enough, it's going to slip out when you don't want it to. Which is exactly what happened to Kitty.

The kids have started using the phrase, "What the frick?!" I don't like it and I've fussed at them for it many times. The problem is that Kitty has the "real" phrase in her vocabulary (my guess is that while Ponito and Bob have certainly heard the phrase before, and may have even used it once or twice, it is not a part of their lexicon. I think this is why Kitty slipped up. It's going to be very hard to help her remove both phrases from her active vocabulary.

Hubby hasn't totally agreed with me about all the No No words (he doesn't see a problem with crap or butt for example), but he's supportive and he doesn't use them either. For a long time butt was not a nice word in the elementary schools, apparently now it's acceptable. Words like crap offend many people including Grandma. I've often told the kids they can say what they want when they don't live with me anymore, but then give them the example of an issue I had in college:

With my mom being as strict as she was, the first thing I did when I went off to college was to start cussing like a sailor! Half way through my sophomore year, my roommate and I realized we had a problem - we couldn't stop cussing! And we realized that could be pretty embarrassing at some point (like Kitty in school). So we decided to bet to see who could go the longest without cussing. We were sitting at the table studying. Not 2 minutes after we made the bet and went back to studying, the phone rang startling us both and one of us (I think it was my roommate) jumped and said "F___!" Immediately realizing what what she'd done she blurted out, "Oh Sh__!" We laughed, but did realize this was going to be harder then we'd thought.

At that point I made a conscious effort to stop cussing. It hasn't been easy, but now, even if I unexpectedly drop something on my foot I do not cuss. The few times I have cussed it has been rarely, but deliberately, sometimes to get my children's attention and drive home a point.

I think what happened with Kitty may have helped make my point this time. - You can't use certain words in other places and not find them slipping out in others (on the job, in front of small children or clients, in front of the President of the United States, in front of little old ladies at church...). This can get you in trouble, and even fired.

Kitty has needed quite a few reminders about the phrase, "What the frick" in the last couple of days, but she's accepting the correction - just like when she cracks her knuckles (which makes me crazy). She's working on it, but it's mostly an unconscious habit (although she often cracks her knuckles deliberately when she's mad at me). I'm not punishing her in anyway for either bad habit - just gently correcting her. I think in this case she's motivated to stop!

Friday, November 14, 2008

7 random facts/ things about me

Lisa aka Squeaker tagged me. The only reason I'm doing this is because I'd already made this list a while back and sent it to my non-blogger buddies. I'm not tagging anyone because I don't know enough bloggers to tag!

Here are the rules.

1. Link to the person who tagged you and post the rules.2. Share seven random or weird facts about yourself.3. Tag 7 random people at the end of your post with their links.4. Let each person know they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

1. I dye my hair because I am over 75% grey now. I do it myself and have been experimenting with highlights. Recently I had a lot left over and highlighted the girls and my little guy. I didn’t leave it in long enough for them so it’s very subtle (can't see it at all on Kitty). They were proud as peacocks though!! *grin*

2. I’ve had many unusual jobs – bouncer, blackjack dealer, fashion model, professional seamstress, interior decorator, teacher/ trainer (preschool, autistic youth, mentally retarded adults, gymnastics to youth, sewing to emotionally disturbed girls, child behavior trainings to teachers, Sunday school), and now president of an industrial design firm (

3. I’m 38 years old and have no wrinkles! - probably because I burn easily so always avoid the sun and have never smoked or been around smokers. Or it could just be good genes (my Mom looks young too). I love that people can't believe I'm the mother of 4 -especially when they see my 15 year old who looks 17. I've been told often that they assumed I was their sister.

4. I read in the bathtub and can read in the shower. I love to read and I read fast! I read sci-fi/ fantasy, romance, mysteries, self-help, parenting, business…).

5. I only watch comedies. My mood is easily influenced by media so I prefer happy endings. I prefer books with happy endings too!

6. I love to give advice. I’m an extrovert and will seek out people and share with them. After giving a presentation about product development/ industrial design to inventors and entrepreneurs, I managed to find a man who had just adopted a 4 year old and talked about attachment disorders with him for 20 minutes. I tell everyone about the FAIR Club!

7. I am addicted to blogs and adoption support groups and list-serves. I spend hours on the internet at home and work. (Luckily I’m my own boss so I can’t fire myself!).

Thursday, November 13, 2008

James 1:19

"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger." - James 1:19

Because Bob was getting an award, we attended the private school's Wednesday morning chapel. The subject was James 1:19. I think the speaker must have been sitting in my office yesterday afternoon. She might as well have stared at Kitty the whole time - even the exaggerated examples she gave were not exaggerated enough to not be accurate.

She told the children they needed to listen to spirit of the words being spoken. She pointed out that the teachers loved the children and wanted the best for them. The children seemed to get the concept that usually corrections (criticisms, complaints, directions we don't want to hear) being given were not to be hurtful or mean, but to help the child. She also talked about how we had to listen to God's directives and do them even if we don't want to.

The speaker pointed out that our first instinct is to lash out and to say something hateful. Waiting to speak until we have time to process the information means we have time to first decide if the person talking to us really has our best interest at heart. Even if they are really just being mean and hurtful, then this still keeps us from saying something that will just get us in trouble - and you can't take it back.

She talked awhile about the fact that once you say something you can't take it back. You can try to mend the relationship, and hope they forgive you, but you can't erase it as if it never happened. I loved that they applied this to our technical society! Sometimes we hit send on an e-mail or text message and immediately regret it.

The last point was to be slow to anger. This is soooo hard for most of my children. Ponito has the least issues with it. Ironically Bear is now the next one. I guess all those years of uncontrollable anger (and lots of anger management therapy), combined with his medications helps him with this a lot.

Hubby and I are lucky in that both of us have very high boiling points. I think in over 15 years I count on one hand the times I have seen Hubby truely angry - and I've never seen him lose control. One time we were having a lot of difficulty with the car dealership over a problem that they kept denying was their fault (2 years later we received a check!). Hubby hit a steel support brace in the middle of the service bay so hard that the entire building could hear it - I can't believe he didn't break his hand! But he's NEVER hit a person and that's huge considering how much provocation Bear gave him when Bear was physically attacking Hubby.

After the "sermon" Bob received her award (for Service). Hubby and I had the hardest time not laughing! They started with the senior high students, a boy about 5'9" and a girl about 5'3", then out came our Bob - standing proud at 5'8" and wearing her high heeled boots making her at least 5'10" or 5'11"!!!! Add the tiny Asian 2nd grader and a Pre-K and they made an unusual looking bunch!! I'll post pictures as soon as I get a chance.

One thing I noticed was how hard it was to get a picture of Bob smiling. I've decided I really need to think harder about getting her into counseling. She is just not happy and yes, I realize this is normal for tweens, but she's been through a lot and has a lot of family history of mental illness to worry about.

More later!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Big Fat Liar

So we made it through a second day of Kitty coming to work with me - barely. Because of the doctor's appointment we didn't get to work until 11:30am! Almost not worth going, but silly me, I let Kitty leave her workbooks in the office. At least we were still home when they turned the power off so we found out about it quickly and were able to get it turned back on before the food all went bad.

20 minutes of school work before lunch. Well, sort of, she kept bugging me to let her write a report, or take a break because she was STARVING! When we stopped for lunch she was very cuddly - sitting right up against me and even putting her head on my shoulder while we watched TV and ate.

After an hour long lunch ending at 1pm she started work again. Her mouth didn't stop moving, but her hands often did. She babbled on about everything and nothing. At 1:30pm she needed a break and really wanted to just stop. I allowed her a 30 minute break to wash a few dishes - our lunch dishes mostly and watch 1/2 hour of TV. She cam back and worked for 30 minutes (with a lot of assistance and pushing on my part. At 2:30pm she decided she was done for the day! I told her she needed to keep going because she'd missed all morning. She argued and worked a little until 3pm - then she said school was out! I told her fine, then this was homework! Needless to say that did not go over well.

When I was helping her understand spots as she was having trouble with them, I would look back at previous pages. She openly admitted she just guessed because she didn't understand it. She does corrections, then immediately takes the test. When she finished the self-test on one workbook I told her the teacher had told her to go on to the next. She explained that she didn't want to go any further because then she would forget it all when she took the test. If she failed the test she'd have to repeat the workbook; therefore, she refused to work in the next workbook because she'd forget what she'd "learned" in it by the time she started working in it again.

She also argued that the teacher had told her to do just a little in the new workbooks. I had talked to the teacher on the phone, and she'd told me she wanted Kitty to go as far as she could because she's SOO behind. Kitty (deliberately?) had left her homework assignment at school last week, so when I told Kitty what the teacher had said, she accused me of being a liar. I know this is part of her attachment issues, but it gets SOO old. I asked her if I had ever lied to her (a risky proposition) in the 2 years I've known her. She, of course, brought up the Santa issue. I clarified that in the 2 years she's known me that the fact that I won't tell her Santa doesn't exist makes me a big fat liar. Yup! She would rather believe her beloved teacher who can do no wrong, over her me anyday. *sigh* I know this is part of her illness, but that doesn't always make me feel better.

I know she's having trouble processing all school work too. The vocabulary is gobbledygook to her, and I'd bet she is putting what little she understands in her short-term memory. I can't believe that if you asked her about something on the two workbooks she has managed to complete this year, that she would have one clue what they are about. She's doing 5th grade workbooks. I don't think she can go much further than this.

After 3:15 she refused to do any more work (even though I told her we were leaving at 3:30 to get to her dentist on time). We spent the next 25 minutes arguing. She refused to do school work, hates our family, wants to go back to Nebraska, wishes she'd never met us, threatened to cut herself and her hair, threatened to go "emo".... I fluctuated between commiserating with her, calming her down, arguing with her, threatening to keep her out of school even longer, rationalizing, and stopping her from hurting herself.... Toward the end, Hubby came in to help me deal with her and I passed the baton for awhile. At the end she'd argued long enough not to have to do anymore school work. She happily got in the car to go to the dentist - as if the last 30 minutes never happened.

The dentist fixed her chipped tooth and we rushed home to grab some dinner and head off to EMDR therapy. I waved at Ponito, first time I'd seen him all day - no quality time for us today - at least I got to kiss him goodnight. Bear lay on the sofa feeling badly but never threw up, I did get to have a 5 minute conversation with him before bed while he was talking on the phone to a friend (he likes to bring me in on conversations while I'm cleaning the kitchen - I guess his friends aren't entertaining enough). Bob was feeling 100% better and making Hubby crazy - she was "too sick" to do her chores though.

EMDR therapy was a "not tough" session (we alternate). After the session the therapist and I talked about Kitty's upcoming ARD/IEP meeting which is just for us to agree to getting her tested. The therapist believes that Kitty's current behavior is NOT her PTSD and not that her ADHD meds are not working any more. Instead she thinks it might be mania. Kitty is already on 3 meds that could also be used for bipolar disorder, but we discussed the fact that these might not be working on the part of her brain chemistry that is off-balance. We just saw the psychologist last week, but I've put in a call to see if we can try Kitty on Lamictal. The therapist really wishes we could get a brain scan by a neuro psychologist so see if Kitty has any damage like Bear's Cerebral Dysrythmia, but I know our health insurance won't pay for that.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

School work at work

So the first day of Kitty going to work with me is over. I presented it exactly as I planned (so glad I wrote it down), and it worked exactly as planned. I told her she had the choice of going in the FAIR Club with accompanying writing assignment, or I could give her another chance. Ironically as long as she thinks she is getting away with something else she accepts the consequences easily. She came to work with me and behaved well.

Unfortunately I do think that her ADHD med is not working very well. By mid afternoon she was incapable of doing more school work (yes, I did take her for a long walk to burn off some energy - today I will wear better shoes!!). I can see why the school is having trouble with her. She could not stop talking! Plus, she obviously does not understand the vocabulary. I'm not sure how she passes her tests.

Yesterday Bob and Hubby came down with stomach flu. It started out by being dizzy and nauseous for several days and then Bob started vomiting. Hubby hasn't started the vomiting yet. Today Bob feels annoyingly better, but now Bear said he feels awful and didn't sleep all night. Kitty has complained off and on, but I'm not sure I believe her yet.

Since we're down to one car I left everyone at home while I saw the doctor (I'm seeing him monthly while we stabilize my meds for bipolar disorder). I got fussed at for gaining weight - this is the most I've weighed when not pregnant, not having seen my gynecologist in 3 years, not exercising and not sleeping. *sigh* He decided not to increase my mood stabilizer since I seem to be OK, but I did request an increase in my anti-depressant since my life sucks** right now.

Someone asked why Hubby doesn't attended attachment therapy. We were told Kitty needs to bond to me first, then we could start adding others. Her attachment to me is finally established, but still very tentative. Having her with me more has really helped. She holds my hand (when there is no chance someone she knows will see us) and doesn't say mean things about me as often (this is a huge improvement). She's even complimented me once or twice, and cuddles with me during lunch at work.

Staying home with her is just not an option. She can barely focus when there are few distractions (like at work) and knowing that the TV, dogs, toys, etc. is right there would be too much for her I think. Having Hubby in the next office over is a required threat too (haven't had to use it this time, but have in the past). Plus, I really need to be available at work. Even though most of the time there is nothing I need to be doing, the rare times I am needed, no one else can do my job (new client meetings, writing proposals for existing clients...). Plus, Hubby wants me to start doing a little more in the way of marketing.

** Taken from one of those silly survey things that get sent around.
17. Current worry? Hubby wants to lay off several people at our company because we can't afford to pay them (and we don't agree on who), he also wants to stop paying half of their health insurance (we have less than 10 employees so apparently we don't have to do this). We borrow $10K a month from my parents just to get by (for the company). The house is falling apart and infested by Carpenter ants, and the bathroom at work is leaking(luckily we have two). My work computer died this morning (Good news! Kitty just realized she'd kicked out the power cord, plugged it back in, and now my computer works!). My car is dead and Hubby's car is making weird noises. We've been driving without car insurance since August. Bob is throwing up at Grandma's house. Kitty is at work today and Hubby hates that. We had to have a serious talk today with the sales guy because we don't think he's making enough sales calls - but the market is down so it probably won't make a difference. Hubby is waiting for several calls about jobs he probably won't get, doesn't want, and doesn't have time to do because he's got work to do here. We haven't gotten paychecks in almost a year and Christmas is coming. My nephew, we promised to pay for his college, is graduating this year. We owe all the staff at least 2 weeks of salary, one of them a whole month and one several months and they all want the money before the end of the year. I haven't had my annual gynecologist appointment in 3 years and something's not quite right with my armpit. I was told to get a biopsy of my thyroid done immediately, and it's been about 6 months (don't have the $1500 co-pay). Something is triggering Kitty at school and I don't know what. Gotta figure out how to get Kitty the school help she needs without throwing her back into regular classes in public school. Gotta take Kitty to two different therapy appointments a week. In Sunday School yesterday morning I realized I still have not figured out how to put my faith in God. My meds are not helping. Hubby won't take meds and I don't know how he can possibly be even functioning. I have to finish sewing Bob's dress for Christmas pictures next weekend. I volunteered to make 24 pies for Thanksgiving. And this list is depressingly long and it's not even complete!

Friday, November 7, 2008

When the road ahead is not clear

Kitty seems to be spiraling downward and we're not sure what to do about it. She has so many reasons she could be stressed out we're not sure what, if anything we could/should do. It's getting worse and we're seeing behaviors that we hadn't seen in quite awhile - with greater frequency.

Yesterday she yelled at Hubby for "criticizing her" and because he told the school she needed to bring home a homework slip every day, even if she didn't have school work (so she couldn't "forget"). She ran upstairs and slammed her bedroom door. He went up to try to calm her down, and eventually succeeded - he thought. She came downstairs and ran right out the front door. He followed her. She eventually came back in and tried to lock him out. I unlocked it and she ended up slamming him with the door. She ran out back and climbed a tree threatening to climb on the rotted second story deck. Then she got stuck. She wouldn't accept help from Hubby, only me. I pushed a ladder over to her and went back inside to finish cooking dinner. She screamed and cried over the miniscule scrape on her hand and insisted we take her to the doctor because she was going to die. She did calm down and eat dinner. After dinner she did 4 pages of schoolwork (out of 18) and then went to bed. (Abriged to delete the tons of drama, yelling and emoting that accompanied all this).

The private school finished the paperwork required by the public school getting ready to do assessments for learning disabilities and special education services. In the course of this we found out that Kitty misses hours a day due to headaches, tummy aches... The girls started school a month late, and Kitty has been out sick with one thing or another (usually nothing major), and apparently she hasn't been doing make-up work either. I have to admit I'm a little angry with the school for not telling me that she was missing several hours a day. When they sent home work, Kitty didn't bother to get the slips signed and we still knew nothing about it. What if I hadn't started pushing for this testing?! Would I have even known there was a problem at school until it got worse?

Kitty's stressors

1. The 2 year anniversary - with her and Bear's adoptions this year I think things are feeling more "real." She hasn't lived in a house more than 2 years since she was 3 years old!

2. Birthmom having another baby. She misses birth family a lot. She wants to be a part of her new sister's life.

3. Trip to Nebraska (where the kids were adopted from). We've had to put off this trip so many times, but she knows we're hoping to be able to go this December. This would be the first time we've returned since their adoption. We plan to try to arrange for them to get to see biofamily.

4. Holidays are coming - these are never an easy time for anyone.

5. School work is getting harder. Although Kitty is technically in 7th grade, she is doing 5th grade level work. 5th grade is hard and requires a lot of generalizing and reading skills that I just don't think she has. Missing the first month of school doesn't help. Her poor reading skills are making understanding the directions almost impossible. Her school is not designed to do one-on-one work, but is really having to accomodate this alot.

6. Homework. Because Kitty is behind she is now expected to do 36 pages in her workbooks(last year it was only 26). She is unable to get this done at school, especially with her constant "illnesses." I think it may be causing the "illnesses" too. It might just be too many pages. Bob is all caught up already, but I may just have to intervene and get the number of pages reduced - she can work over Christmas break and Summer again.

7. Possibly something about school triggering PTSD. This could be that something about the new campus itself is triggering bad memories - it's in a little house that might remind her of another house from her past; the "joking and teasing" that she does with the boys could be overwhelming (the only other girl besides her sister is no longer attending the school and Kitty has very poor social skills); the honeymoon could be over with the teachers (Kitty sees everything as black or white, with people seen rarely she is charming and willing, unfortunately the teachers at school might be moving to the "Dark Side" now that she's known them longer).

8. Bob's issues. I know these trigger things for Kitty, and watching Bob "get away with stuff" and "cop an attitude" makes Kitty do the same. She is a big follower. Also the yelling and arguing could be triggering memories of people in Kitty's past.

9. Dealing with Grandma and chores. After over a year of Grandma being a primary caregiver any time we're not home, Grandma is definitely a member of the "Dark Side" if not actually "Darth Vader"! Kitty's Oppositional Defiant Disorder is definitely triggered by Grandma, and just like Hubby, Grandma doesn't have the advantage of attachment therapy like I do. I can tell Kitty to do a chore, and while she hates it, and tries to refuse, she will usually eventually sloppily comply ("Resistance is futile!").

Grandma has the added burden of actually wanting to get everyone to do their chores. She helps the other kids with chores, and even does them for them, but Kitty (and Bear) cannot accept help and can't tolerate having people in their room. We recently moved Kitty to the easiest chores that matter the least (ie no one sees the areas as often so a little less cleaning won't matter). Originally we gave her some of the harder rooms because she was the worst offender when it came to making big messes. We thought if it was her room to clean she would think twice about making the mess. Didn't really work.

10. EMDR therapy - At first this didn't appear to be having an effect on Kitty's behavior - even when I pushed and we talked about things she could never handle even the thought of before. I'm wondering if this is having more of an effect now. I keep forgetting to ask the EMDR therapist if we can move her appointment to later in the week so it won't effect school as much (it's on Tuesday nights right now).

11. Boy friend - Summer before last, at a day camp that was majorly overwhelming for Kitty, Kitty met a boy she liked. She called him obsessively for awhile, even though he never returned her calls and only talked to her briefly when she got hold of him. He attends the public middle school she would have gone to if we hadn't put her in private school. She occasionally goes through phases where she starts calling him obsessively again - having to remind him who she is each time. In the Summer he invited her to a pool party. I forget why, but for some reason she couldn't go. Now he's invited her to one of his football games, but they're on Tuesday nights - same time as therapy. Kitty is furious with me that I won't let her go. This boy will not talk to her if he knows we're home or his parents are home. I get the feeling that his homelife is not great. We've told Kitty that we'd be happy to have the boy come to our house, meet us, and hang out (Secret Parent Trick - provided her chores are done - wouldn't want him coming to a dirty house!). After that (assuming he is willing to meet us), if we do allow her to "date" this boy, we will always be in attendance. We will not be dropping her off at his house or at the football games. I do not know his family and doubt they would supervise her the way I want/need her to be supervised. In reality she is not "old enough" to date (emotionally/developmentally about age 6), but I'm trying to be reasonable.

12. Med changes. Kitty is not stable on her meds. We are still working at getting her off Geodon and have been increasing her Trileptal. The good news is that she appears to have finally stopped the nighttime enueresis!

13. Financial. It has been impossible to keep the children from knowing that we are in deep financial difficulties (constant debt collector calls take care of that!). While we do reassure them that we will not lose the house and we will have food to eat, we are not spending money on extras. While we are keeping track of their allowance, they have not been allowed to spend it in many months. Currently we are a one car family (and it only seats 5 - if you're math challenged like me that's one seat too few for a six member family). I'm sure this triggers memories/ issues of biofamily.

I talked with Kitty's attachment therapist (without Kitty there) yesterday. I told her all the issues we and the school had been having with Kitty lately and she reviewed the school's notes for the public school special education assessments. She feels that Kitty is completely overwhelmed and suffering severely from PTSD and that we have to make her life less stressful immediately. The question is - how?!

I left a message this morning with the private school to talk to her teacher about if she thinks something is triggering Kitty at school (and also to have them send home lots of work for Kitty to do - the school is closed Monday and Tuesday). Haven't heard back from them so I guess I'll have to wait until Wednesday next week (did I mention patience is not one of the virtues I possess a lot of?).

I dropped off the last of the paperwork with the public school for the assessment. I was really excited that our ARD was scheduled for November 17th. Until I found out that is just to formally give our permission for testing. Still, it's progress.

So I worked out a solution for dealing with Kitty, but Hubby is against a major component of it and I don't know what to do!

I want Kitty to come to work with me daily and do her school work. I think she will benefit from-
a. having me around (attaching/ bonding);
b. me being calm will help her regulate her emotions;
c. work is quiet and calm (no one pokes, talks, giggles or acts like a teenage boy - OK, most of the time!) so there should be no distractions;
d. I could read all directions out loud and immediately help with any questions she has (I literally have nothing better to do - I spend most of the day waiting for someone to e-mail me, playing Spider Solitaire, reading message boards and blogs, and of course blogging);
e. we could excuse her from all but the most basic of chores at home (laundry and picking up her room) with the "excuse" that she is not home to do them and has chores at the office (washing a few forks or running the vacuum once a week should be much less overwhelming);
f. she wouldn't be around Grandma as much (perhaps this would lessen the antagonism she's showing toward Grandma);
g. she wouldn't be around Bob or the other kids as much either, so she wouldn't have to witness them fighting (tonight Bob thought Ponito took her socks and demanded them back - somehow that ended with violence and one of his shoes in the toilet!), or deal with Bob's hormonal meltdowns;
h. the EMDR therapist has an office downtown so we could go during the day instead of taking up time in the evenings - we might be able to arrange something similar with the AT as well;
i. I could get a pretty good idea of how many pages of schoolwork is reasonable to expect from her.

Hubby does NOT want Kitty at work. He does not want her disrupting the staff (several times at work she's yelled, screamed and pitched major fits). He feels it will look unprofessional to staff and particularly clients. He worries that his work will not get done if he has to babysit Kitty (she hates having him supervising her - so that is usually what ends up happening if she loses control).

Last problem. Kitty will most likely HATE the idea and very likely WILL pitch those fits Hubby is worried about. While I could fairly easily take time off work, I feel that being home is not a good idea for Kitty - there are too many distractions (toys, TV, pets, and no Hubby for back up).

So here's my tentative solution.

Right now I have to put Kitty in the FAIR Club for her recent behavior with Hubby since it was so similar to the issues I put Bob in the FAIR club for last weekend (even though I know that hers was caused by her illness). So I'm thinking of giving Kitty a "Choice" - both options I can live with, but of course I'm hoping she'll choose to behave at work with me. Here's how I'm thinking of telling her.

I should put her in the FAIR club where she will have to do a major writing assignment and extra chores in addition to having to do all her school work. Since she can't behave with Grandma she cannot stay home with her on Monday and Tuesday so she can choose to stay home with Daddy and do her school work.

HOWEVER, I have decided to be a nice Mommy and give her another chance. I will not be giving her a writing assignment, but she will be on "probation." I've heard that she is having a lot of issues with being sick at school (headaches, tummyaches). I want her to know I'm listening and I do not want a sick child at school. Sick children should be with their Moms. My solution is to take her to work with me on Monday and Tuesday. If she does her work without argument or issue then I will allow her to go back to school on Wednesday. If I hear that she is having issues at school (sick or refusing to do her work) or at home (arguing with Grandma or another child, refusing to do her chores and/or homework) then I will immediately bring her back to work to be with me. If she behaves herself at work, then she can return to school. I think if she sees school as a reward for good behavior then she will work harder to keep it. In the meantime I will keep exploring and trying to remove all other stressors.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Bobbin' along

So in the car on the way to work I confronted Hubby on his not-so-private comments regarding how I handle Bob. I told him it hurt my feelings - a lot, but that I thought it was just me being over sensitive until I talked to my mom and she agreed with me. I knew he hadn't intentionally hurt my feelings - in the 16 years I've known him he has almost never been anything but supportive and empathetic. I think this was one reason I was so surprised. Then I asked his advice on how he thought I should handle Bob. (Great minds think alike Denise!) I expressed my worry that Bob might be bipolar like the rest of my family.

Hubby got defensive because he thought Mom and I were suggesting that Bob take meds (which Hubby is pretty adamantly against unless there are no other alternatives. He thinks I do not need them either). I reassured him that I didn't think Bob needed meds, I was just very concerned. There are so many issues it could be (the new kids, raging hormones - which are supposedly worse before they start their period because the hormones have nowhere to go, holidays...). We talked for awhile about what could have caused her behavior, how to handle it, and whether or not we should put her in therapy.

This topic led into Hubby's issues in dealing with Kitty that morning. Ironically it was very similar to my issues with Bob.

Kitty had told Hubby the day before that she would eat all her lunch (she'd taken a larger than usual lunch, and has major appetite issues due to her ADHD meds - we've had to work with her on eating, at least something, even though she's rarely hungry.) While she was making breakfast and lunch for the day, I happened to glance in her lunch box and realized that it was almost full from the day before. I mentioned it to Hubby. He called her on it and she immediately got defensive (she cannot take criticism, even implied, from anyone but me, and even that is hard on her). Kitty started yelling at Hubby and accusing him of yelling at her - he spoke firmly, but had never yelled. I reminded her that when she feels criticized she feels yelled at, and that Dad was NOT yelling at her.

She and Hubby kept at it. I tried to stay out of it, only stepping in to ask Kitty to calm down and to remind her that Dad was NOT yelling at her. Often if they go at it long enough, and only one parent engages with her, Kitty will calm down. Not so much this time.

In the car, I reminded Hubby of the Beyond Consequences training we'd taken and the little bit of work he'd done with the attachment therapist. I told Hubby that Kitty had shut down and was in "flight, fight or freeze mode" almost immediately after his first sentence. Hubby felt very persecuted by mine and my mom's reaction to his critiquing me, and now by my saying he was parenting Kitty incorrectly. He told me that he felt persecuted/ crucified and shut down for awhile.

After a little while he expressed his frustration with not being allowed to parent Kitty. He felt kept out of the attachment loop (unfortunately that's how it works, the child attaches to one parent and only then gets to the point that they can start working on relationships with others). He felt that he was not allowed to say anything to Kitty because she would take it the wrong way. I explained to him that the AT and I weren't deliberately keeping him out of loop, and that I wasn't saying he couldn't parent Kitty at all, just that he needed to be aware that it was pretty pointless to talk to her after she had shut down. We talked about how to approach her later when she wasn't activated.

At that point, we talked about my dead car for awhile and what to do next. Then we talked about how many people we owed money to. Hubby finally hit his overwhelm point and we pretty much stopped talking for the rest of the trip.

Quite frankly I don't know how we does it. He IS depressed, whether he agrees with my mom and I or not. Our life IS incredibly stressful. He doesn't sleep well, and he's taken the weight of the world on his shoulders (in the picture it's only the weight of our daughter). I couldn't do as well as I am (not that that's saying much) without major support (THANK YOU ALL!!) and medication!

Not sure what to do about blogging all that's gone on this week! I've gotten part of Tuesday done and the rest of the week has been just as eventful! *sigh*

Our 2nd Anniversary

It's been a tough few days, and I plan to blog about it in chronological order.

Tuesday - November 4th, 2008.

Our 2 year anniversary with the kids. It's hard to believe how far we've come!

From the first day I saw them on the internet (Bear (12!) and Kitty (11)

To our first meeting with them.

Them coming to live with us November 4th, 2006 and our first Christmas together.

Dealing with Bear's aggression and intimidation, running away, suicide threats, getting suspended from school, juvenile court, drug abuse, Hubby being accused of child abuse (unfounded of course!), and Bear's eventual trip to residential treatment.

Years of attachment therapy with Kitty. Leading up to the point where I can actually touch her, and even give her a little criticism (she still can't handle it from anyone else though).

Kitty's adoption day!! March 2008

Bear's adoption day!! July 2008

It's been a long two years. I can't believe we made it! I sent an e-mail to the kids' Nebraska caseworker (letting her know we STILL haven't received Bear's birth certificate!). I got a little positive feedback that made me feel good. She was impressed that we stuck with this through thick and thin and kept the kids when a lot of parents would have sent them back.

Even when the kids drive me crazy I'm glad they are in our lives. God really knew what he was doing when he chose these children for us. I have to admit I had big doubts!! *grin*

Monday, November 3, 2008

Ever heard the idea...

that the way the child's twos go will be a pretty good indicator of how their teens will be? This terrifies me!!!

Bob at 2, notice how much taller than the other children she is?!

Bob hit the "terrible twos" at 17 months and didn't come out again until age 4.5 years. She about drove me around the bend, and was the reason I "discovered" the internet. When Bob was 2.5 years old, I found a parenting website based on a fantastic book that I credit for being the only reason Bob is alive today. Raising Your Spirited Child by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka. The message board is no longer in existence, but it was great to be able to go somewhere and get support from other parents who's children have painted the dog blue. (This is also how I feel about the Special Needs forum on

How angelic she looks! Believe me, it's an act!

So now that she's entered the "terrible teens" at only 12 - but she does everything early - what do I do with her?!

My family has a strong genetic predisposition to bipolar disorder. My grandfather and his 5 brothers had it and committed suicide. His two sisters probably had it as well. My mom has it, I have it... so when my daughter starts acting moody I have the added worry of - is this adolescent onset of bipolar disorder/ depression? At age 13 my mom remarried, we moved to a more affluent part of town, I was chronically ill with colds and flu (lowered immune system is a standard side effect of depression) so missed tons of school, and within a year I left home to go live with my father. Obviously I was miserable and moody as all get out, with many life-changing reasons, let alone being a teenager. The depression didn't go away though so I look back now and say - "oh yea, that was the start of my issues with depression."

My mom says the same thing happened to her and her mother talked about sending her away, but although her father intervened, he never mentioned he understood because he'd gone through the same thing. Mental illness was taboo. I don't want Bob to spend her teen years miserable if there is anything I can do about it. Obviously teens are moody and miserable, it's part of being a teen, but depression makes it so much worse. Bob doesn't have the same history that Bear and Kitty do (or I did), but this has been a tough couple of years with a lot of life-changing events.

Lately Bob has been moody, miserable and defiant. Normally I'd ignore this, but the problem is she's dragging down Kitty with her. Kitty is feeding off her moods and it's triggering major issues for her - add that to Kitty's biomom recently having a baby, and our two year anniversary (yes, we got the kids 2 years ago today!!!), and all she can talk about is wanting to go back to her biomom. Bob would be happy to drag her all the way there - Bob's been seeing all the downsides to having her new siblings (Kitty isn't allowed to watch Harry Potter and the Tenth Kingdom because they triggers issues for her so no one gets to watch them, I invented the FAIR Club because of the adoption, Bob is no longer the oldest child, Bob doesn't go to public school because of Kitty...). I've tried to point out some of the positives, but she'd rather be miserable.

So last Sunday, Bob refused to go to church. Not a horrible thing in and of itself, but I had to deal with her so I didn't get to go either. It escalated as I kept trying to find a way to get through to her. I tried reasoning, empathy, telling her stories from my childhood, and eventually moved to threatening and consequences. She of course went in the FAIR club, and as it worsened I told her I was taking away her saved allowance (about $45) - no impact, then told her I would empty her room of books - she kept on escalating from pouting to yelling and storming out. At this point Hubby got home from church with the rest of the kids and started trying to talk to her. For awhile she escalated and I loaded up three grocery bags full of her books and put them by the front door. She finally calmed down so I stopped. Later she put the bags back in her room. I saw them, but decided to let it go.

This weekend Bob didn't want to go shopping (wouldn't you know I, the bargain queen, get kids who hate shopping?!), even though it was mostly for clothes for her. She's grown so much and the weather is supposedly changing soon (it's still in the mid-eighties) so she needed cold weather clothes. Bob pitched a fit and refused to go. I tried to stay calm, but really hate it when she cops an attitude like this.

Hubby got involved and talked to her until she calmed down some and went to her room. Hubby then got on my case about allowing Bob to get to me, and always escalating the situation. He blamed me for my inability to listen to Bob and hear her side of it?!! I admit sometimes I get angry and punish Bob by doing things like taking away her books - which didn't help the situation, but I don't know what else to do! I do listen to Bob and her concerns, but sometimes the answer is, "Tough toenails. We all have to do things we don't want to do." Bob does what he says because he's a big, strong Dad and doesn't accept disobedience. When she acts like this should I let her walk all over me? She won't do what I say just because I say it. Hubby doesn't seem to get that. I admit this verbal dressing down in front of my mom and the other kids really hurt my feelings.

When I went in to check on Bob, I found her crying on her bed instead of getting ready to go as Hubby thought she was. I talked to her for awhile, listened to her complaints, said some of the things that Hubby had pointed out might help (mentioning how I'd felt like this at her age), and she finally got up, got her shoes on and got in the car. Soon thereafter though, the attitude returned. She refused to move, ran away from me to sit on the side of the building when it was time to leave, pitched verbal fits, whined and complained, demanded things she knew I wouldn't buy her... and was generally a horrid brat. The sales clerks all marveled at how I managed to stay calm (which I admit made me feel better). What should have taken 2 hours max, ended up taking 5, and we didn't get everything we needed!

On the way home (finally) she became even more verbally defiant. I tried to ignore her, but she kept dragging the other kids into it, especially Kitty. She made sure I knew that there was nothing I could do to consequence her and mentioned getting the books back. (Later I made sure to mention that I allowed her to get the books back.) I told the other children to ignore her, but Kitty wasn't able to. I kept warning Kitty that she shouldn't let Bob get her into trouble, but Kitty was already triggered and started talking about going back to Nebraska and biomom. *sigh*

I know I'm a little depressed right now, and felt that I might have taken Hubby's talking to me in the wrong way, but my mom confirmed that he was obviously criticizing me, and in front of the kids. Hubby tends to discount my mom's opinions because she thinks he is depressed too (has for years) and has suggested anti-depressants to him. He doesn't believe in popping pills for everything (OK, for almost anything) and doesn't really like me taking them either. He felt that my mom was suggesting meds for Bob (she wasn't). Anyway, he's not being the big support he usually is, and when I talked to him about hurting my feelings, he feels crucified (did I mention I agree with my mom that he's probably depressed?!).

Basically I'm at my wit's end. The FAIR Club is insufficient, consequences must be applied or all the other kids see Bob "getting away with" this behavior (as does Bob)and their behavior becomes more defiant. I plan to have Bob read the entire book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens as she reads super fast and this is nowhere near her first offense. I'm thinking of getting Bob into therapy for a little while but truthfully we can't afford the $25 copays. I'm skilled at therapeutic parenting now, but I'm used to the support of meds and a therapist.

OK, this is a really long post. I'm going to stop now. I'll tell you tomorrow how our 2 year anniversary goes!

If I were

1. If I were a liquid I’d be… snot. Allergies are killing me, and I’m feeling thick and yucky.
2. If I were a sin I’d be… gluttony. Can’t stop gaining weight!
3. If I were a gem/stone I’d be… a diamond in the rough. I know I’m sparkling and beautiful on the inside. I just need some work.
4. If I were a metal I’d be… copper. Turns beautiful colors when heat is applied.
5. If I were a tree I’d be… a mulberry tree. Filled with berries, some ripe and delicious, some unripe and will give you a tummy ache, some buggy.
6. If I were a flower I’d be… a morning glory. Sometimes has gorgeous brightly colored flowers, most of the time a persistent vine you can’t get rid of!
7. If I were weather I’d be… sleet. Not enough to leave beautiful snow, just enough to make the weather more miserable.
8. If I were a color I’d be… green. It has hundreds of different shades. Some beautiful and symbolizing growth and others putrid symbolizing rot and infection.
9. If I were a sound I’d be… that sound my daughter makes when she’s frustrated with the world, doesn't want to do what you're telling her to do, and thinks no one cares.
10. If I were a lyric I’d be… Anyway
Martina McBride/Brad Warren/Brett Warren (BMI)

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.

11. If I were a scent I’d be… semi-sweet chocolate. Smells good, but could be better.
12. If I were a piece of clothing I’d be… 10 year old control top underwear. Still provides some support on a good day, but not 100% anymore.
13. If I were one of the four seasons I’d be… Winter. Cold and dismal right now, but you know Spring is just around the corner.

Yes, I realize I’m a little depressed right now. Don’t worry, I’m under the care of a doctor, and I’m working on it.