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

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Weighing in

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why does he think like that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OK, enough rambling. Going to bed now.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Car Conversations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

All in all it was a pretty good conversation.

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

Monday, January 25, 2010

More on Medication

Medications - To Take or Not To Take?

Shame and Stigma
There has historically been secrecy and shame associated with mental illnesses. 
Rose Marie "Rosemary" Kennedy was the older sister of President of the United States John F. Kennedy.
Rosemary experienced mental disabilities and displayed less academic and sporting potential than her siblings; she was slower than all of her siblings when it came to achieving many tasks. However, her disabilities were carefully concealed from the public by her prominent family. In her early young adult years, she also had behavioral problems. Her father arranged one of the first prefrontal lobotomies for her at the age of 23, but it failed and left her permanently incapacitated. 

Hubby grew up in a 'don't take meds or see a doctor unless you're dying' household. I'm not sure if this is because there was a shame about taking medications (being self-reliant is very important in his family) or a lack of affordable healthcare (or both). He rarely even takes a Tylenol for a headache, and will only take an allergy med if he's completely miserable (for those of you who don't know, if you don't have allergies when you come to Texas, Texas will give them to you!). The idea of taking meds for the rest of your life upsets Hubby greatly. 

Hubby has probably been clinically depressed more than once in his life (although he's never seen a therapist or a doctor), but he survived without meds. I don't know if it's a good thing that he's been depressed and understands how it feels or a bad thing because he handled it without meds. When diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes, he tried very hard to handle it with changes in his diet and lifestyle rather than take medication. While he would definitely prefer not to have to take them at all, he was able to reduce the number of meds he needed. 

Depression is not a sign of weakness, and neither is taking medication for it by Jenna Jones
Today, 1 in 10 Americans take antidepressants, a 400 percent increase from 1998. That’s a hell of a lot of people swallowing pills every day, yet the subject is still somewhat taboo. In addition to politics, sex and money, mental illness is not something most Americans generally discuss.
The idea that medication is for “crazy people” was and is constantly culturally reinforced in media and society at large.
Personally, I’ve dealt with the misunderstanding of well-intentioned people who encouraged me to simply try harder and resist the pharmaceutical industry’s secret plan to get the entire population on happy pills to finally achieve world domination. At the very least, I felt weak for thinking I might need medication.  

I grew up with a mom who was a doctor's daughter and in a military family (meaning we were government human guinea pigs, but seeing a doctor was always free).  So I'm more likely to go to the doctor. I do tend to only take medication for a headache if someone forces me to (luckily I rarely get headaches), if a fever is at least over 103, I'm so stuffed up I'm drowning and nothing else works, and/or if I have an infection... but I'm willing to take meds for my high cholesterol (changing my diet didn't help). I was taking medication for my bipolar disorder only when needed (which was usually only when I was under uber stress... like raising 2 kids with RAD and teens in general), but now that I'm in a stable place, I decided to start taking it on a regular basis to help with my stress and anxiety. I still rarely take OTC meds, but my prescription meds have made a huge difference in my quality of life.

"Biologically-based" vs "Trauma-based" 
Strep, diabetes, pneumonia, ADHD... are diagnoses where you see relatively quickly the results of taking or not taking meds. These type of issues seem more biologically-based (including genetic components). There appears to be less stigma with diagnoses that don't require treatments like therapy and psychiatric hospitalizations when treated effectively with medication. 

I have 2 kids with major trauma and mental illnesses. They take meds for their bipolar disorder, and the one with severe ADHD takes meds for that too.  Like most people, Hubby doesn't have a problem with the children taking medication for things like bipolar disorder (a chemical imbalance), although he does hate the idea of the sheer number of meds they take and the thought that they have to take them for the rest of their lives. 

Mental illness, especially non-biologically based illnesses like C-PTSD and RAD, in addition to not responding well to meds, are often trauma-based diagnoses that cannot be "fixed" by medication. I believe that diagnoses that are less understood, don't respond well to meds, and aren't usually treated by a general practitioner tend to be the diagnoses that have more stigma and shame associated with them. 

Medication Strengthens Healing
Imagine that you've broken your leg in a car accident. The doctor surgically inserts a pin in the leg with the shattered bone, puts on a cast, gives you a crutch, and prescribes major pain meds. The cast keeps things stable while your body works on mending and healing. The crutch helps you be able to do the things you would normally be able to do if you hadn't broken your leg (like walk and go to school). The pin is necessary to give the remaining bones strength and something to heal around. There is scientific evidence that the body heals better when it is not in pain so you need the pain meds.

Some drugs are like the cast and crutches and will not be needed down the road. Other drugs are like the pin and the body won't work right without them. 

Hubby sees meds differently - maybe more like an engineer?
He feels it is possible to heal most things without medication. If you're "strong enough." 

I suppose you could use alternate methods to mend a broken leg that aren't as invasive or long-term as a pin. You don't have to get up and move around so a crutch isn't absolutely necessary. Legs don't have to be straight to work so a pin and/or cast aren't technically required either. In theory, pain won't kill you, so pain relievers aren't needed. Right?!

Image result for mountain rescueWe've all heard the story of "that guy" who was able to drag himself off a mountain and survive with 2 broken legs, 2 broken arms, and nothing but a toothpick and a breath mint... but do you really think he would have suffered all that pain if he'd had the option of immediate access to medical care?

Higher Likelihood of Serious Issues
I think one reason we see a high rate of prescriptions of psychotropic drugs for foster kids is less about overmedicating and more about there being a higher prevalence of serious mental illnesses in our kids.

It's a documented fact that people with "issues" are attracted to other people with "issues" and those people often make choices leading to children. Having 2 parents with bipolar disordered (or alcoholic or emotionally disturbed or whatever) often means scary genetics for the child. Plus, being raised by a mentally ill parent, frequently leads to abuse as well.  All leading back to more children ending up in foster care and starting the cycle again. (I've seen a lot of "Like Attracting Like" with my kids - can you say Kleenex girls?). Like Attracts Like

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

Alleviating Symptoms

Experts recommend alleviating symptoms (like insomnia, anxiety, restlessness, irritability...), even though it doesn't cure or affect the actual diagnoses, to give the person time to heal (and in the case of children, time to mature and process). That's why they give highly addictive medications like morphine and hydrocodone to patients right out of surgery. Studies show that people in pain heal slower than those on pain-relievers.

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

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

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

Medication Cocktails
The article makes a big deal about kids taking more than one of the same category of medication. I know that for bipolar people, taking two or more different mood stabilizers is frequently recommended to stabilize the person. Especially when there are multiple diagnoses. Overlapping Diagnoses in Children

It can take a med cocktail to help the child stabilize, and unfortunately, our body chemistries are unique. Finding the right "cocktails" can take years of experimenting as everyone's body is different and changes over time (especially as they enter puberty). Sometimes a new diagnosis was recognized or onset (many mental illnesses have adolescent onset). Sometimes meds stopped working. Sometimes meds have a negative interaction with each other. Sometimes better ones came on the market. Sometimes that issue healed and they didn't need a particular med any more. It's easy to start feeling like a human guinea pig.

Sleep Meds

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

In recent news, there've been lots of articles about children being overmedicated in foster care.  

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

I'm not recommending we drug our kids into zombies (although we did have to do that once for a short period of time to keep our son and family safe while we waited for a bed to open up in an RTC), and yes, there are some nasty side effects from medications that aren't tested on children... but without meds, my children would have been virtually unadoptable and I have no doubts that my son would have ended up dead (self-medicating with drugs, gang life, suicide...) or in juvie many years ago. 

When the child is stable, I start looking at lessening or removing their meds (or ramping up therapy treatment) - for as long as they continue to make progress healing.

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

Proper Diagnosis and Medication

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Friday, January 22, 2010

Making Tea Cups

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The moral of this story is this:

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

"I'm a little teapot

short and stout.

Here is my handle.

Here is my spout.

When I get all steamed up,

hear me SHOUT!

Just tip me over

and pour me out."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Medications and stress

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

6. Hurry, hurry, hurry!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazing talent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to watch this brilliant performance

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

"Our Song"

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

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

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

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Treated like a teen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, January 15, 2010

Mysterious ways

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

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

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

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

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

What a character! Thanks God for crossing our paths!


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


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

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Bob quip

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

"Oh, really?"

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

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


Hook em horns!

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

Life after High School - Shopping misadventures

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

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

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

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Life after high school - moving out

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • If he chooses to become emancipated.

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

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

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

Monday, January 11, 2010

Life after high school - what to eat

Living on your own - what to eat?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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