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!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

65 Questions You've Probably Never Been Asked

65 Questions You've Probably Never Been know the rules. Tag people in this note (including the person who tagged you!) to learn more about people. Also, try to tag people who you've tagged in other notes, sometimes you learn things in new notes that you didn't know before about them...

1. First thing you wash in the shower?

I hate showers, but probably my hair so I can start the conditioner soaking while I clean the rest of me.

2. What color is your favorite hoodie?

I don't own a hoodie (I know...GASP!)

3. Would you kiss the last person you kissed again?

Most definitely

4. Do you plan outfits?

I'm a total clotheshorse so my outfits always match right down to the jewelry, but I pretty much only own black pants (and jeans or jorts for weekends) so everything always matches without a need for planning.

5. How are you feeling RIGHT now?

Exhausted, but Hubby is working from home so I can't take a nap.

6. What’s the closest thing to you that's red?

My necklace and earrings.

7. Tell me about the last dream you remember having?

I've been having dreams about going back to college and having exams on classes I didn't even know I was registered for, but I think the last dream I had was similar. I was getting married, and hadn't even tried on my dress which I was pretty sure wasn't going to fit because I'd gained so much weight over the years. Shouldn't have watched Bridezilla last night!

8. Did you meet anybody new today?

Haven't even left the house.

9. What are you craving right now?

My new favorite, Snickers ice cream bars. I got addicted to the real thing, but have recently discovered I can use fat free frozen yogurt, with some caramel sauce, peanuts, and Magic Shell chocolate coating, and it tastes exactly the same. OK, be right back...

MMmmmmm! Now I'm just craving a nap, but maybe all this sugar will help.

10. Do you floss?

Yes, but rarely

11. What comes to mind when I say cabbage?


12. Are you emotional?

Sometimes. Depending on what's going on in my life (and hormones). Mostly though I try to stay very rational.

13. Have you ever counted to 1,000?

I'm sure I did when I was a kid, and I've counted to the equivalent by 100s when I'm having trouble with insomnia.

14. Do you bite into your ice cream or just lick it?

Oooh, most definitely bite.

15. Do you like your hair?

Sometimes. I have mixed emotions about it. I kind of like having the gray - I'm more than 75% gray now, but it somehow manages to look like highlights.

16. Do you like yourself?

I have mixed emotions about this too. I usually think I should be a better, stronger person. I'm not proud of the way I treat my body. No sleep for example, and I would prefer to be thinner, so I'm kinda mad at myself right now for eating that ice cream (but it was worth it!)

17. Would you go out to eat with George W. Bush?

Sure. Why not? But I'd definitely have to talk to someone about appropriate table manners (Iknow I'm supposed to keep my elbows off the table, but I don't do that!).

18. What are you listening to right now?

Hubby just burped, and is complaining about his job. Other than that just the sound of both of us typing. Wow it's really quiet without the kids here!

19. Are your parents strict?

My mom was, mostly. We weren't allowed to cuss, even naughty words, and she always cared about where we were and what we were doing (although I managed to get into trouble anyway).

20. Would you go sky diving?

No, probably not.

21. Do you like cottage cheese?

Yes, with canned peaches. Is that weird?

22. Have you ever met a celebrity?

I shook Tipper Gore's hand at a banquet once.

23. Do you rent movies often?

Almost every weekend from Redbox.

24. Is there anything sparkly in the room you're in?

Not really

25. How many countries have you visited?

More than 5

26. Have you made a prank phone call?


27. Ever been on a train?

Lots of kid rides, trains around parks/zoos, not a real train.

28. Brown or white eggs?


29.Do you have a cell phone?


30. Do you use chapstick?

No but I use lip balm to keep my lipstick on.

31. Do you own a gun?

Not any more

32. Can you use chop sticks?

Not well

33. Who are you going to be with tonight?

The kids. Hubby will probably kiss me when he gets home on his way to bed.

34. Are you too forgiving?

I'm probably not forgiving enough.

35. Ever been in love?

I don't think so.

36. What is your best friend(s) doing tomorrow?

I don't know that I really have a best friend. My neighbor (Hi Sharon!) is probably the closest thing I have, and I'm assuming she'll be working one of her many jobs.

37. Ever have cream puffs?

I think so.

38. Last time you cried?

Last weekend I got pretty emotional and I think I may have cried a little.

39. What was the last question you asked?

Did you hear that beeping noise?

40. Favorite time of the year?

Spring? Not too hot, not too cold, and the kids are in school so I can do stuff.

41. Do you have any tattoos?


42. Are you sarcastic?

Who me?

43. Have you ever seen The Butterfly Effect?


44. Ever walked into a wall?

No. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!

45. Favorite color?


46. Have you ever slapped someone?


47. Is your hair curly?

More wavy than curly.

48. What was the last CD you bought?

Probably a Christian Rock CD as a present for one of the kids. I tend to listen to the radio instead (plus my minivan only has a cassette player!)

49. Do looks matter?

Sad, but yes.

50. Last text you received?

I don't text and had them turn off this function on my phone, so it was probably from AT&T trying to get me to text. The last IM I got from Hubby said, "Love you too."

51. Is your phone bill sky high?

I don't pay the bills, Hubby does, but probably not.

52. Do you like your life right now?

This is such a hard question that I stopped answering this and switched to doing something else! I'm going to ignore it, so I can move on.

53. Do you sleep with the TV on?

Not on purpose.

54. Can you handle the truth?

Yes, but it hurts sometimes.

55. Do you have good vision?

Much better now that I've had Lasik, but I'll probably need reading glasses soon.

56. Do you hate or dislike more than 3 people?

I don't think I really hate anyone, but I dislike more than 3.

57. How often do you talk on the phone?

Depends on your definition of often. I talk to Hubby on the phone at least once a day. Daily I make many short calls for scheduling and logistics of the kids and their appointments. Maybe 2-3 times a week I'll chat for more than a few minutes (usually venting) to someone (Grandma, Sharon, or another special needs' parent.)

58. The last person you held hands with?

Hubby Kitty. Usually hold hands with Hubby, but haven't seen as much of him since he's teaching this week and Kitty will occasionally hold my hand in a parking lot or somewhere (as long as no one else will see her). Maybe it was Ponito. He was a little overwhelmed at the high school yesterday (Kitty was too, but she'd never hold my hand where someone she knows might see her!).

59. What are you wearing?

Black capris, and a dressy 3/4 sleeve black and white print top. Red jewelry and sandals (but the shoes are on the floor in front of me).

60.What is your favorite animal?

I started to say horses, but probably dogs.

61. Where was your default picture taken?

I don't know what a default picture is?! My avatar I designed myself, adapting something else to look more like me (since then my hair has grown!)

62. Can you hula hoop?

Yes, but not very well anymore.

63. Do you have a job?

Many! Mom, therapeutic parent, president of a product development company, seamstress (not so much anymore, but I've got a project I need to work on for a client), mucker (I can shovel 10-12 stalls in less than 3 hours)...

64. What was the most recent thing you bought?

I spent $0.11 buying two nuts (the hardware kind!) to fix the wheel on my new laptop desk I got from my sister. The store before that I bought Gatorade for Bear's Heat Exhaustion, and various and sundry minor groceries (lately I've been shopping in dribbles because there is always something I need).

65. Have you ever crawled through a window?

Yup, both car and house.

I got this from Becky at Mom to my AngelBabies. I won't tag anyone in particular. If you wanna and haven't, I'd love to read it!

Monday, September 27, 2010

More Good News / Bad News

Good news - we worked together as a family and helped my little sister and her husband move into their new house.

Bad news - Bear tried to keep up with Hubby and got heat exhaustion. (Vomiting and a trip to the ER the next day). He's still a mess and probably will take days to recover. He's rarely sick (probably from taking Amantadine all those years), but it won't surprise you that he doesn't do handle it well.

Good news - Little sis and her husband left behind a ton of furniture and stuff that didn't fit in their new house, and I got first dibs!!

Bad news - Now I've got a ton of furniture piled in my front room that I have to distribute around the house (and move out the old stuff), and Bear can't help me move it (he had some muscle breakdown and was told to stay inside and inactive). Hubby can't help either because he is teaching scuba all week so he doesn't get home until after 11pm.

Good news - I got lots of studying done this weekend while Bear had dental work.

Bad news - Kitty's somatic complaints are increasing. She threw up this morning (5th time since the beginning of the school year - no fever, and the symptoms go away fairly quickly). I sent her to school anyway, but felt guilty about it so told her she could call me if she needed to come home. *sigh* Substitute nurse. I had to pick her up early.

Good news - Bear and I had a fairly productive therapy session. We came up with yet another analogy (remind me to post about the inner circle) involving the level of supervision that Bear requires and what he needs to do to move past it (open up to us and talk about what's going on in his head so we can see if he's actually progressing). He admitted this would be really hard for him, but agree to do it! Because he was ill we spent a lot of time together and have talked more in the last couple of days (not including growling at me) than we have in months.

Bad news - to get to this point Bear had a minor meltdown (major in how it made me feel and how he usually gets now, but minor compared to the violent outbursts we used to experience when he first got here). He wanted to go to the football game and since I went to the RAD mom meeting Hubby was "single parenting." Right now he can only go places if he's under direct supervision of a caregiver (Hubby, Grandma, Poppy or me). The rule is if one of us is "single parenting" then the kids can't go really go anywhere.

Bear tried to manipulate, guilt, intimidate, offer alternatives (some girl's grandma I'd met once over a year ago would give him a ride)... when none of that worked he escalated to yelling, but quickly shut down. In the meantime, Kitty had a major meltdown and since my PTSD was triggered due to dealing with Bear, I was not able to emotionally regulate her so she escalated). Bear waited until she had calmed down to the point she was quietly crying on the kitchen floor while I tried to get something made for dinner before bedtime (didn't actually succeed), to try again. At this point I was exasperated with him and told him absolutely no and to quit trying. He stormed out of the house.

I called Hubby and had to have him come home early. Apparently Bear was sitting on the front porch (major difference from a few years ago when he would have run!). Hubby fussed at him and the meltdown continued a little, but of course he won't act out for Bear like he does for me. Bear is really starting to admit to his behavior toward me when he's talking to his therapist. It's very validating for me.


While he's suffering from heat exhaustion, we don't want Bear waiting outside and riding home on the unairconditioned bus so I decided I'd pick up Bear from the nurse's office. I wanted to confirm this arrangement with the nurse, (I later found out the lady I spoke to wasn't the nurse, but was instead a lady who worked in the office next door maintaining records). I told her what I wanted to have happen and she said she didn't want it done this way. I talked to her for a minute and it seemed her concern was that they closed the office pretty quickly after the final bell. I reassured her that I would be there in plenty of time, but just wanted him to be inside and supervised while he waited.

The lady insisted that he could wait just inside the main school doors. I told her I needed him supervised. She insisted that she knew him and "he's a good kid and doesn't need supervision." Seriously?!! I finally just told her, "there's a reason he's at the Special School" and dropped it. Who is she to argue with me about my son? Guess I'm just super sensitive, but this really irritated me. She didn't end up letting us pick him up in the nurse's office, but instead told us to wait out in the main hallway (with little Ponito and "sick" Kitty). *grr!*

Sunday, September 26, 2010

RAD Mom Meeting!

Well we had major meltdowns at home, but it was so worth it! I got to spend some time with other RAD moms!! (Christine at Welcome to my Brain, N and C at Rancho Chico, and Jeri at With Love From Sumi).

I got there super early (I was worried about getting stuck in rush hour traffic), but I got some studying done so that worked out. Christine and N and C had met before and had some things in common (younger kids and homeschooling) so I felt the tiniest big left out (but not because they weren't warm and welcoming and totally willing to talk about my stuff too).

I loved getting to meet Christine. She is just as warm and funny in real life as she is on her blog. I got to travel with N to a seminar so it was fun catching up with her. C had stayed home from that seminar so I had just kind of waved at her in the van, but we didn't get to really meet then. She's a pretty interesting person, but very quiet. She was on the other side of N from me so I didn't get to talk to her as much as I would have liked. That was too bad because it sounds like we had a lot in common.

I traveled to a seminar with Jeri too so it was good seeing her again. She ended up the farthest from me so I didn't get to do much talking with her. Another reason to do this again with a little more time to hang out. We greatly mised all of those who weren't able to make it.

We talked about a lot. Two of the ideas we talked about was Bingo and Badges. Behavior Bingo is something I heard about from somewhere on the web. As a way to cope with her children's behaviors, this mom started pretending that whenever her child did something annoying (like pitch a fit, or paint with poo, or call her a $%#*... she would sometimes act really excited like she'd gotten to put a marker on her imaginary bingo board. She didn't tell her kids what she was doing or why. Every now and then she would yell out Bingo! She usually thanked the child for the behavior (again without telling the child why), and rewarded herself in some way (got an ice cream or a margarita or whatever). She said it made her feel better, and confused the heck out of the child(ren).

Badges - we decided we should get to earn badges for the behaviors we survive. There was much giggling about what the m*sturbati*n badge would look like, the painting with poo badge, the black eye badge (poor Jeri gets this), the first time a RAD child showed genuine healing (which for me would be when Kitty asked me how I was feeling and really cared about the answer!)....
So what badges have you earned? How would you want to display them? Would you want them on a sash or vest? Would you put them on your blog?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Borderline Sucks!

Bear and Kitty want to do stuff - like sleepovers and going to the football game. I don't think they're ready.
They insist.
I say no.
They want to know why.
I give them concrete reasons (because they don't understand the abstract ones. Plus, if I give too many reasons they have a meltdown because they're overwhelmed).
They argue.
I say no.
They fixate on one concrete reason and somehow manage to improve it (for Bear it was his failing grades, for Kitty it was the fact that she was refusing to do chores - actually it was the constant meltdowns most of which were provoked by chores, but like I said they fixate).

Now I have "no reason" not to let them go.

So I remind give them another concrete reason. I have to meet the parents and kids first.
They argue ("but Mooom, you did meet her and her mother. Once. A year ago. At a school event. You did talk to her, you said, 'Hi.' You would too recognize them.")
I say no.
They argue ("but Mooomm, you can talk to them on the phone.")
I said No. ("but Moooommm, you can talk to them when they pick me up.")
I said No.

"You never listen to me."

Me: "I listen, but the answer is no and you don't want to hear that so you keep asking me over and over."

"Mumble. You hate me. Mumble. Everybody hates me."

Me: "Hmm? Were you talking to me? Sorry I couldn't understand you."


Me: (If I bother to answer.) "Sorry, still didn't understand you."

I ignore them a lot too, usually because I don't want to answer the question (or I already have a hundred times). If they persist, I'll eventually respond, "Hmm? Were you talking to me? Sorry I assumed you were ... talking on the phone (Bear loves to talk to me while he's on the phone, he has no consideration for the person he's on the line with)... talking to the cat (Kitty loves to mumble in the cat fur about how nobody loves her)... talking to yourself (both kids like to mumble nastiness to themselves and Bear seems to enjoy snapping at me that he wasn't talking to me anytime I ask him to repeat himself- so I might as well take advantage of it).

I'll admit sometimes I get tired of repeating myself and I do cop out and say things like, "I'll have to talk to Dad about it." or "We'll talk about this later."

Bear loves going to dad to see if he can get a different answer. Tonight Hubby called him on it. Bear insisted that I hadn't ever given him an answer. Luckily, Hubby knows BS when he hears it. I think it's interesting that both kids called him tonight. Usually it's the kids calling me when Grandma is watching them. I guess that's part of the "grass is greener" philosophy they tend toward.

Friday Kitty wants to spend the night at a friend's house and Bear wants to go to a football game. Friday night I'm getting together with a group of RAD moms in a nearby city and Grandma is out of town so Hubby has all 4 kids. Usually the rule is we don't do much when we're "single parenting." Especially not things that probably wouldn't happen on a "normal night" anyway.

Saturday morning Bear is getting some dental work, we're helping my sister move, and Bear has therapy in the afternoon. Grandma is out of town so we can't drop any kids off at her house (normally we do this so Hubby and I can both go to Bear's therapy). Sunday is church and unloading a semi full of pumpkins at the church. This is just a crazy busy weekend.

So when both kids started asking to get to do stuff like sleepovers I just said NO. As you can see- they argued. A lot. This made my PTSD flare which makes me less tolerant. I don't yell at the kids, but I also don't back down or help them regulate. This has been happening more and more frequently with Kitty and I need to find a way to stop it, because this makes her meltdowns worse. Tonight she escalated past screaming defiant cussing to kicking things (nothing broke) and threatening suicide. I put her on Soup Kitchen and invoked the Four Foot Rule.

While she's screaming and begging on the floor, Bear starts up again. One I can handle. Two, not so much. I gave him some straight talk and told him some things he didn't want to hear (Basically it boils down to - I don't trust him.). He stormed out of the house. I called poor Hubby - who'd already had to talk down both kids once, and told him I needed him home now.

The good news is, everyone is fed and in their rooms. We didn't start dinner until 15 minutes before bedtime, but we all ate (I think. Bear was insisting he wasn't hungry so he could escape to his room, but I believe Hubby made him stay and eat). Kitty had soup. I had coconut shrimp and quiche (long story!). Bob and Ponito had leftovers (which they could have had at a decent hour. *sigh*).

Gotta put the food away and go process with Hubby. Night all!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Legal Guardianship

AARRRGGGHHH!!! I had a great post, but the stupid internet ate it. It's too late to recraft it, so assume that the previous post was absolutely amazing OK?


So I finally really did my research on legal guardianship (Thanks Struggling to Stand!) and met with a lawyer. It all boils down to whether or not Bear can be declared incompetent (needing guardianship to protect his health and welfare), and that can only be determined by a health care provider.

Based on the psychiatrist's comments in his last e-mail there is a possibility that he would write the report (although I wasn't holding my breath). However, at Bear's last therapist appointment he was awake and engaged. I felt like the therapist started to give me a hard time about overreacting to Bear's behaviors. The therapist has seen Bear at his sleepy, belligerant, defiant finest, but when he asked Bear how his week was and Bear said "fine," I probably rolled my eyes, and I jokingly moved away from Bear to "avoid the lightening strike."

The therapist asked me what was going on and I told him how Bear's week had really been (with Bear jumping down my throat many times, particularly over the fact that I was holding him accountable for his failing grades). Then Bear confirmed that it wasn't all in my head or me being a witch. He matter of factly stated that he was treating Grandma and I badly because we were female caregivers. He equally plainly stated that he wasn't interested in developing relationships with anyone and he didn't see a point in doing so. It wasn't belligerant, it wasn't denial, it was just a fact. He is mildly attached to us, but that's as far as he's willing to go. Period.

So at this point I'm not going to pursue the legal guardianship (and I'm glad his pdoc appointment isn't until the end of October) because for some reason Bear is presenting well. I have no idea where this is coming from or if it was just that one day because it was right after diving (which usually stresses him out).

I'm not dropping the idea entirely - most of my concerns are still there. Just not now.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Psychiatrist response

Not really a surprise, and he makes some good points, but now what?


No change from this morning:
Such a plan, if it were carried out, would only be possible (even though still not recommended) in a long-term locked facility with 24 hour medical staffing.

To carry out the plan under any other conditions would simply be a dangerous undertaking.

Stopping the medications removes their neuro-protective effects, and leaves his brain vulnerable to further damage from his illness. This means "re-stabilization" is much more difficult than simply putting the medications back in place.

If through some means the plan were carried out and Bear was no longer on his medications, even if he were to destabilize, he could legally refuse to resume meds, as he is 17 years old. A court order would be required to have him take medication involuntarily. Usually such court orders are not issued unless the individual is imminently dangerous and requires involuntary commitment to a hospital.

In my opinion, Bear lacks the insight necessary to "realize" that he needs medication, even if he is very symptomatic and getting into a lot of trouble.

The plan has no merit and goes completely against appropriate medical guidelines.

Skills trainer response

This is a letter from Bear's Skills Trainer through ____MHMR in response to the letter in the previous post. She has been meeting with Bear weekly since June, and for most of the Summer she had to ask me to sit in on the meetings because he just lay there with his eyes closed and ignored her completely. She has been visiting him at school now so I don't know if he's changed his attitude toward her.

I was probably too sarcastic in my reply. Oh well.

Hi Mary,

I don’t quite understand how this is moving in a forward direction. I am wondering if it would be more beneficial to work toward growth, progress, and success in whatever capacity Bear is capable of instead of setting up a situation in which he is sure to fail.

My thoughts are that by giving Bear tangible tools that he can progress with, he may be more willing to continue with his meds regardless of where he lives. I also have to wonder if his stating that he will no longer remain on the meds once he moves out is his way of attempting to establish some form of independence. Why not start there? At least if he fails in his attempts of independence, such as meeting with friends, going to football games or whatever he is requesting to do, he is still on meds and can better process complications or struggles yet still feel like he has some sort of self control. Again, you are there to help him work through the complications.

Just wanted to share my initial thoughts.

Hi Susan,

I don’t know that this is “moving forward.” At this point Bear is NOT moving forward; he’s moving backward and away, and he’s gaining speed. I see this as trying to stop this downward regression while we hopefully still can and THEN we can start moving forward again. Maybe if you think of Bear as like an alcoholic? He has to WANT to change and to do that he most likely he has to hit rock bottom first. By preventing him from hitting rock bottom and allowing him to easily remain in this state of denial, we are enabling him, and quite frankly delaying the inevitable (for 10 months anyway). All I’m suggesting is removing the artificial supports we have in place that are allowing him to continue to function in total denial. Unless he is forced to face this I believe we have absolutely no chance of helping him grow, and you can’t honestly believe that Bear as he is now is ready for the “real world.”

Bear has been saying for years that he does not think his diagnoses are correct. While his statement that he won’t remain on meds after he leaves could be a way of establishing independence, I believe it is more likely a natural outgrowth of his disbelief in his diagnoses. Actually disbelief is not the right word. Denial would be the more appropriate word. Bear is terrified that his diagnoses are real because this means he needs help. To accept help he has to trust. To trust, he has to make himself vulnerable. To be vulnerable is to allow himself to be abused and/or die. Bear has RAD. To him, trust is a life or death situation. His whole life Bear has had it pounded into him (literally) that people he loves and trusts will hurt him, and this is one lesson he learned very well. I do not believe that in less than a year I can unteach this lesson, but I have to try! I choose to believe that I can teach him that he can trust us, by forcing him to depend on us so we can show him that we are trustworthy and therefore it is safe to love us.

This means NOT encouraging his independence, but rather his dependence. This sounds wrong for a teenager, but we have to remember that he is really still a young child. He is a little boy who needs other people, as I believe we all do in order to be happy functioning adults. People need relationships! Bear is trying to function without that, and that is why he is so miserable and dysfunctional. I believe that Bear needs a foundation of love and trust in order to be able to move on to true independence. By skipping that foundation everything we’re doing is like building on sand.

You mention “giving Bear tangible tools he can progress with.” I’m trying not to be sarcastic when I say, “How’s that working out for you?” People have been “giving him tools” for longer than we’ve known him. He’s been given anger management tools, calming techniques, behavior modification training, independent living skills, social skills… Tools do no good if you don’t understand how to use them, even less good if you don’t see the need for taking them out of the box. Bear is not listening to you or us when we’re trying to give him the tools and skills he needs, because he doesn’t trust us – more than half of what we say is the opposite of what his well-honed defense mechanisms say to do.

We’ve tried treating him like a normal teenager with independence – it blew up in his face every time! You mentioned us being “there to help him work through the complications”? Bear can’t accept our help so he’s having to do this completely on his own, and he doesn’t have what he needs to do so.

What you are suggesting is not working. Nothing we have tried so far has worked and it makes no sense to me to continue it for 10 more months. I feel we owe it to Bear to try something different, and this made the most sense to me. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and listening to mine. I believe we need to work as a team if we’re going to make a difference in Bear’s life.

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

My response to the psychiatrist

Here's the letter I recently sent to Bear's caseworker. FYI, the attached document was only 1 page long! (That should be super impressive to all of you who know how long-winded I can be!).

I have attached a brief (well, brief for me!) document explaining our reasoning for this “med experiment.” We have the support of Bear’s therapist and really believe this is the best option, but are definitely open to alternatives.

I am hoping you will discuss this again with Dr. M, as we do not want to go forward without his support and the support of ___MHMR. We are doing this now because we feel that Bear is struggling, even with all the supports and services he is receiving (FYI he is currently failing 3 classes). In 9 weeks he is up for review by the ARD (IEP) committee to see if he should be dropped from Special School. He is therefore highly motivated to be cooperative with this experiment – if we start soon. Just continuing with status quo means Bear will be completely unsupported in less than a year when he turns 18, which puts himself and those around him in severe danger. I believe it would be morally wrong to allow this to happen, and we need to do everything we can to address this situation immediately.

Please contact me with any questions or if there is any way I may be of assistance.



Bear plans to stop taking his meds and attending therapy the moment he turns 18 (in less than a year) and move to a rural community. He is in denial about his issues/ diagnoses, and consequently sees no need for his medications (he also thinks eating certain foods and supplements are an adequate substitute). Currently Bear is fairly stable, is very closely supervised at all times, and presents well (his verbal skills mask his low IQ and issues) - therefore he is in danger of losing or not qualifying for many services, particularly after he turns 18. Our main concern is that if/when he stops taking his meds at 18 he will no longer be stable, will have no one to advocate for him to get the services he’ll need, and will be unable to do so himself. Off his meds I believe Bear will again become psychotic, violent and aggressive - posing a serious danger to himself and others.

We propose an experiment to see if we can help Bear, while he still has all of his support systems in place to protect him and those around him. Working closely with his therapist, Special school (program for severely emotionally disturbed youth he attends part-time), his public high school, and of course the ____ MHMR staff, we would like to help Bear taper off his meds so he and everyone can see what he is really like without them, then be right there to quickly get him back on and stable again. We hope to achieve several goals with this experiment:
  1. For Bear to realize that he needs his meds so that he will advocate for himself to get them once he reaches “adulthood,” and be motivated to learn how to access services (if this is within his capabilities).
  2. To reinforce to Bear that stopping his meds “cold turkey,” and without the supervision of a psychiatrist could make him very sick or possibly be fatal.
  3. Bear’s services and meds can be very expensive (meds - $1300/month). We hope to convince him he needs to ask for help to access them, something he has great difficulty (often appears incapable of) doing.
  4. Possibly to get Bear involved in the legal system again - We assume that once off his meds Bear’s severe issues will be more clearly revealed (he is already teetering on the edge even with medication). This most likely means his behaviors will quickly denigrate to the point where he will once again be involved in the legal system. The advantages of which could be:
    Court mandated compliance with taking his meds – I believe under certain circumstances the court can legally require an adult to take medications.
    Legal guardianship – we are considering pursuing legal guardianship of Bear based on him being a “vulnerable adult” who is incompetent to function independently. This would be easier to prove, if we have evidence of what he is like without meds and the strict supervision we currently provide.

This "experiment" is designed to ensure that Bear’s needs are exposed before it is too late to get him the help he requires - while keeping Bear and everyone around him as safe as possible. Without our intervention, I believe that within a year of Bear turning 18 he will most likely drop out of school (he will be a senior next year), become suicidal and (potentially fatally) aggressive, addicted to drugs/alcohol, and be homeless or incarcerated (assuming he survives). Even if he chooses to try to stay on his meds, he does not currently have the ability to get the services he needs to do so (filling out forms, asking for help, arranging transportation, making and meeting appointments...) while some of these things could be taught, I doubt we could do it in the time we have left - particularly because of his emotional issues (denial of his diagnoses and need for medication, inability to ask for or accept help, difficulties with problem-solving, waiting, being denied, giving up, paranoia, projection...).

I am very open to suggestions and alternatives, but failure to address these concerns in a timely manner would be morally reprehensible and possibly criminally negligent. Whatever path we choose, we will need the full support of all, especially ___MHMR staff. ~Yours in partnership, Mary Themom

Monday, September 13, 2010

Now what?

The psychiatrist said no. This is the e-mail I got from Bear's caseworker today:

Dr. M stated that he does not see any benefits in this plan. He also stated that he could not be supportive of that decision if made. I also put Bear on a stand-by list to see Dr. M sooner, but as of today, the appointment remains for 10-21.

My reply to her:

Ok, suggestions? Bear is going to do this now under our supervision where we can hopefully show him (and/or maybe the courts) that it is absolutely necessary and get him back on his meds safely and quickly, or he's going to do it cold turkey 10 months from now.

So what would y'all do?

I don't love him (Warning- very religious!)

You'll notice that not once in all of this did I say I want to do this because I love Bear and want to keep him home so I can take care of him. I don't believe I'm doing this because of some crazy Munchhausen syndrome, or need for my baby to not grow up, or worry that my child is "not ready" in an ambiguous, "what teen is ever really to go out into the big world," way. I'll admit that when Bob turns 18 and is heading off to college, I'm going to worry about her, and not think she's ready, but I'm going to let her go anyway. She has enough skills and resources to succeed. She's going to make mistakes, but she's going to ask for help or be able to figure it out herself.

I think my guilt and anxiety comes from the fact that I don't love Bear, and therefore I have to watch my motives when I make decision about how to handle him (am I providing a learning opportunity or just being vindictive?). Often my motives are mixed, but I don't believe that means I'm making the wrong decisions. Still, Hubby especially, sees those vindictive impulses, and that's why he gives me such a hard time about my decisions - which cause me so much angst.

It's hard to admit I don't love Bear. I know I'm opening myself up to flaming and losing people's respect. I care a lot about him. I want what's best for him and will fight for him like a mama bear (pun intended!), but I do not love him. If you think that makes me a horrible person, so be it, but I hope you don't.

I know I have attachment issues. When I met Hubby I was so "damaged" that my trust of men went about as far as I could throw them (and I'm only attracted to big, furry teddy bear types - so that's not very far!). It took Hubby years to get me to trust him enough to love him, and there is still a healthy dose of scepticism in that.

God certainly knew what he was doing when he put certain people in my life! Hubby - who was/is willing to fight/ push/ hang in there with me. Kitty and Bear because, believe me I have full empathy for their attachment issues - plus, they force me to continuously work on my own issues (you can't ignore your issues in a RAD house they have a way of getting huge!).

Speaking of God, that's one of my big issues. Just like with Bear I've got a strained relationship with God. It's not what I want. I crave the support and comfort I see others get from their relationship with God.

After years of atheism (part of my family gave me a choice, believe exactly as we believe or else - I chose or else), about 10 years ago I decided that I wanted/needed to believe in God again. As I heard it described recently, there was a huge "God-sized hole" in my and I needed to fill it. I read books (I strongly recommend The Case for Christ), I attended seminars (we went to an "Alpha" group that teaches what I called Christianity 101), I decided on a "fake it until you make it" approach (suggested by C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity). I drug Hubby back to church. I kept my bible next to my bed and read it too... for awhile

I accepted Christ at a Christian Women's retreat, and thought, FINALLY! But it didn't "work." I did finally stop thinking in the back of my head, "what if this is some elaborate hoax?" (I couldn't stand the thought of looking foolish - of course I'm not sure now who I was thinking would be looking down on me) and "I'm surrounded by a bunch of weak minded people who need explanations for what they can't explain, so they chose to believe in this one" (after all, how many people believed in the Greek/Roman gods - which all of us civilized, intelligent people know were merely ways for ignorant people who just didn't have the scientific means yet to explain why things happened - like floods, the sun crossing the sky, winter...). But God still didn't "speak" to me or make me feel like he was there.

I tried again a few years ago when Bear and Kitty decided to get baptised, but again, I was wanting to "fall in love" with God, and was frustrated that it wasn't working. I feel like I'm trying to get back that "child-like faith," but that's almost impossible.

Imagine trying to believe in Santa Claus now. There are lots and lots of stories of his existence. There is equally a lot of proof that he doesn't. Can you make yourself believe? Truly believe? As in "not buy your kids Christmas presents this year because Santa has got it covered" believe?

Now that I'm looking, I see evidence of Him working in my life (I've talked about the series of what can only be "Godincidences" that brought Kitty and Bear into our life), but I didn't/ don't feel a personal connection - that feeling of love and support. I pray intercessory prayers (Please help this person.), but rarely anything for myself (except "Please help me believe and have faith," or "Please help me get through this," --which I don't feel the answers to). I've gone to Sunday School and made connections with individuals there, but those are fleeting to, because our life is so different than everyone else's.

Plus it means going against Hubby's wishes to not discuss our personal life with those at church. Because he's such a private person it really bothers him to know that people know stuff about us. It even bothered him when I asked the class to pray for our family - no reasons, just a general prayer. So I just stopped going, because I'm an extrovert who needs to vent and I can't just shut up. This week Hubby was teaching scuba so I decided to go to Sunday school (he didn't forbid me or anything, it just really bothers him).

I sat through class which was about (reConnecting), and just thought about what we were going to have to deal with from Bear. One of the ladies sat next to me and asked about the kids, and I almost burst into tears! One of our classmates has a small baby she's been bringing to class with her, probably about 2 months old, looks a little like Bear probably looked at that age and his first name is the same as Bear's (spelled differently). The lady sitting next to me was holding the baby to give his mother a break. That trusting little face kept making me wonder how things would have turned out if Bear's mother had given him up much much sooner. Would he have turned out anything like he has now? Could his new family have "fixed" him if he'd been 3 or 6 or even 9?

My seat mate took one look at me after class and asked me if I was OK. Nope. I filled her in a little, and she asked me if I was going to the women's retreat in November that she was getting ready to sign up for. I didn't know anything about it, but assumed it was like the one I'd been to years ago and I couldn't afford a weekend in a hotel room, but I followed her like a puppy over to the lady who was signing women up for the retreat, because I couldn't just go home. (Turns out it's just a few hours and only $15 which includes a meal so I may go).

This new lady and I started talking. She had grown daughters, knew nothing of our situation, had no really helpful advice to give, but I discovered I'd been holding it in too long, and my story came pouring out. Poor lady had to listen to me talk for over an hour (she was a very nice lady and I'm sure she didn't mind, but I hate dumping on people). I think I held myself together pretty well, even after the second call from Bear (this time to complain about Ponito refusing to stop practicing his flute in the room where Bear was trying to watch a movie). She did notice me on the verge of tears once, which made her cry, which made me cry, but we both got it under control pretty quickly.

Something is going to have to change soon. Not sure what though. Getting more than 4 hours of sleep at night would probably help.


When Kitty and Bear got here I did everything I could to fall in love with them, and I'd read enough to know that it was OK that it wasn't instantaneous. Humans are biologically hard wired to love babies, but once their faces lose that baby look then it becomes like romantic love - it requires effort on the part of both parties. It's hard to fall in love with someone who pushes you away in every way they can think of, who believes they are unlovable and therefore does everything they can to prove it, who is just plain scary to be around. After years of attachment therapy, I can honestly say I love Kitty and she loves me.

Much as I want to, I can't force myself to love Bear anymore than I can force myself to believe in Santa Claus.

What I want!

What I want from this experiment with Bear! aka why I come across as a vindictive witch.

This is what I'm working toward. I realize I won't get everything, maybe not any of these things I want, but this would be my ideal:

1. Medication:

  • For Bear to realize that he needs his meds and that stopping his meds cold turkey could make him very sick or kill him (we tell him this constantly - I have no idea if it's really true).
  • For Bear to understand that his meds are very expensive ($1300/mo) and he needs to stay on Medicaid as long as he can - if he stays with us he qualifies for Nebraska Medicaid until he turns 19 (versus most other states where he's done at 18).
  • We have not mentioned Adult Medicaid, but we will if we can't convince him to stay or if we aren't granted legal guardianship. He does not have the ability to fill out the very complex forms required or to ask for or accept help.
  • Legally mandated to take his meds - I have met adults who are required by the courts to stay on their meds. Most of them appear to be because while off their meds they broke the law to the extent the court was involved, and therefore the court mandated they stay on their meds.

2. Attachment - Bear has attached to us a little, but I believe that he feels he must push us away in preparation for being out on his own (kind of a sour grapes sort of thing, or rejecting us before we can reject him - even though we're not, he can't trust us enough to believe that). Therefore my (probably foolish) hope is that if he knows he doesn't "have to" leave (due to legal guardianship) that he can feel safe enough to start trusting us again and allow himself to bond.

Right before Bear turned 16, there was a period where we had really begun to trust him. He was acting like a semi-typical teen and as such we were slowly giving him the privileges that went along with that. It swiftly and dramatically went totally wrong. I'm not totally sure what happened, but I have some theories:

  • It could have been the lightening of the structure and supervision on our part felt like we didn't care what happened to him and so triggered abandonment issues and defense mechanisms. So he began behaving as he did to get the structure back or just because he was angry at us and felt he couldn't trust us.
  • Bear is a follower and due to the lesser supervision he was able to get in with a group of kids that were doing drugs, drinking, using tobacco products, skipping school, having sex... very tempting stuff. Plus the mind/mood altering substances messed with his body chemistry and emotions too.
  • He was actually bonding to us, and he realized it, and it scared him to give us that much power and control over him so he panicked and pushed us away. For kids with RAD, love is dangerous and painful. Terrifying!
  • He realized he was going to "have to" leave the house when he turned 17 (this was the rumor going around, that you could, and therefore in Bear's mind must, to prove that he doesn't need anyone, leave the house at 17). I think he panicked that 17 wasn't that far away and started pushing us as hard away from him as he could so it wouldn't hurt as much.

3. Legal guardianship - I do not believe that Bear is ready or safe to be on his own. I do not know if he ever will be. Even if he chooses to try to stay on his meds, he does not have the ability to get the services he needs to do so (filling out forms, asking for help, arranging transportation, making and remembering appointments... even though some of these things could be taught, I doubt we could do it in the time we have left - particularly because of his emotional issues (denial of his diagnoses and need for medication, inability to ask for or accept help, difficulties with problem-solving, waiting, being denied, giving up, paranoia, projection....

Thanks to all our efforts over the last 4 years with Bear he has become stable on his meds, able to control his anger (although not his irritability), rarely violent and aggressive, and is mostly getting the education services he needs. Yea! What worries me is that because of these achievements he almost lost the special school he so obviously needs, and his mask is firmly in place. His functional IQ is probably about 80 (when you take into account all the difficulties his multiple issues cause for him), but his verbal IQ is much higher when he's stable so he appears much higher functioning than he really is. He can hold himself together for a much longer period of time.

So it looks like he's functioning... but only because of our extreme efforts.

So my "experiment" is designed to as carefully and safely as possible allow the real Bear to show so that his needs are recognized before it is too late to get him what he needs.

Once he is out of the home, especially if he goes to to a rural area (his Grandfather lives in a town of less than 300 people), with little to no services, and surrounded by people who have no clue how to help him and are in some ways responsible for why he is this way in the first place... I believe that Bear will fail. And by fail, I don't mean he will have a miserable life, I mean Epic Fail - jail and/or death and taking people down with him.

He will discover that his problems have followed him (he thinks that everything is my fault and if he can just get to a small town he'll be fine).

He will have little to no support at all:
  • He will lose the idealized support of his Grandfather (no one can maintain the pedestal Bear puts people on, especially if you have to tell Bear, "No"!)
  • I sincerely doubt that even if he manages to stay in school that they will have much in the way of special education.
  • I could not find a therapist or psychiatrist within a 30 minute drive (but that may be due to poor intenet surfing skills) - of course he doesn't plan to use these services anyway.

The temptation of alcohol (and drugs assuming he can find any) will most likely be increased as he tries to self-medicate his fears and issues. Bear has said that his grandfather is/was an alcoholic so access to alcohol will most likely be easier. This is the grandfather that Bear claims got him addicted to chewing tobacco from the age of 6 so...

Basically I want Bear to fail publicly, dramatically, and preferably in a way that requires police intervention. Something that can't be ignored and that will help us build our case that Bear needs legal guardianship or possibly even some form of mandated group home if he just can't stay home safely. A part of this is that the more that is court mandated the better, because paying for a lawyer to fight for legal guardianship, even with pre-paid legal services, is just not feasible right now, and the way things stand right this minute I think we would have a tough time winning.

It is my hope that Bear just needs a few more years of secured structured care, before he is able to do this on his own. I think he will be able to function on his own one day. Just not yet.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Giving Bear what he wants

I have to laugh. Saturday at therapy I sprung my plan to try taking Bear off his meds. I did not prep/warn the therapist ahead of time, and I have to say he (the therapist) is really starting to impress me. he picked up on some interesting things... like the fact that Bear, who has been insisting he was going to drop all his meds and go to live with his grandfather, instantly balked when I said I was going to help him. The therapist called him on it and asked if it was because I suggested it (Bear wouldn't admit to that).

I believe that Bear is fighting this for several reasons, with the two most important ones being that he knows he can't go off his meds and maintain control (he as much as said as much when he said he didn't want to do it now), and the second one that he doesn't trust my motives and thinks I'm out to get him.

The truth is that I am out to get him. My motives are honorable, but for some reason I still feel guilty. I am setting him up for failure, and that just feels wrong (it feels more wrong to let Bear go forward with his self-destructive plans, but I still feel guilty). Hubby has been giving me a hard time about it too. I'll admit I probably do sound vindictive, and I've asked Hubby more than once for reassurance that I'm doing the right thing. I've told y'all my reasons. I just need lots of reassurance that I made the best choice.

Bear wanted to wait to change the meds. The therapist asked him why. When prodded, Bear gave different reasons, and when those were addressed, he just shut down and said we could do whatever we wanted. The therapist tried to get him to acknowledge that this was his choice, and commit to the conditions, but didn't really get compliance. That's OK. He doesn't need to acknowledge that he needs help and be in total agreement, he just needs to be informed and have all his concerns addressed so he can't say he didn't know about it.

Once we were all in "agreement" that we were a go for stepping down Bear's meds, and had talked about the reasons why and what it would mean if this works, then we started talking about how we were going to handle things during the experiment.

My biggest concern of course is the safety of the whole family. The therapist talked to Bear about being irritable (since he's already irritable this is a given). Bear said he was going to "just be handle it." *sigh* Yea, right.

We talked about how Kitty was going to have some major issues about this (him being unstable triggers mega-fears and memories for her - he's abused her in the past, and when he got kicked out of homes, she usually wasn't too far behind), plus Ponito is literally a third of his size so therefore we had to dicuss how we're going to deal with keeping the family safe. Bear said he would prefer that if I was seeing an issue that I "write it down." The therapist was startled by this, but this is how the school deals with things so it makes sense to me. My concern is that's fine if his hygeine is slipping, but not immediate issues with siblings.

One of our solutions was that we would "protect" Bear from the other kids, with both physical distance (like he'll be assigned the front seat in the van so he won't be rubbing elbows with the sibs) and he has to come to us when the other kids are annoying him. He is not rational about whether or not what they're doing is really annoying and he does not handle it appropriately.

Obviously we're waiting until we've had a chance to talk to his psychiatrist before we start changing his meds. So imagine my thrill to get 2 calls from him regarding his issues today - and we haven't even started changing his meds! The good news is he called me (that's almost like asking for help!), but how are we going to make it through this?!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Caseworker assessment

Bear has to have an assessment by his MHMR caseworker every 90 days to keep his services. He had one yesterday. It was all the usual questions... how much (none, once or twice, several times, often, always) has the child ____________ (used drugs or alcohol, self-harmed, thought about or attempted suicide, skipped class, bad grades, got in a fight, argued...) how much (never, some, quite a bit, extreme) does problems with ______________ (not completing projects, relationships with friends, relationships with family, not being able to sit still, need of supervision...) interfere with his life?

I was a little concerned that we'd lose some services because he'd been under such strict supervision all Summer that he hadn't had much chance to get into trouble. Turned out most of the questions were such that I could still honestly answer that his issues were effecting his life to an extreme.

After Bear left the room, I took some time to talk to the caseworker about who could help us as we start to figure out what our options are with Bear when he turns 18 (or finishes this year of school since I don't think he'll wait until the end of July before he leaves us).

I've got to admit, we are sorely tempted to just let him go, but we have a moral obligation to do what's best for him. His current plan is to go to live with his bio-grandfather in Oklahoma the minute he turns 18 and finish his last year of high school there.

The way I see it, we have a few choices:

1. Continue with status quo, and not help him (enable him?) with making any alternative plans for leaving. Enabling him seems like it would be counter-productive to trying to convince him to stay and at least finish high school. Continue to subtly discourage him about leaving. Possibly sabotage his plans to live with Grandfather (think the guy knows that Bear is in special ed, on meds that will most likely cost over $2,000/mo, that Bear is psychotic when he is off his meds...? Bear will of course find out I did this and blame me.) Making sure Bear knows we want him to stay. Will this even work? It hasn't up to now.
What happens if it doesn't and we've just dumped a totally unprepared Bear into a world he cannot handle?

2. Let him fail/ Legal guardianship- he claims he doesn't need the supervision and medications, then maybe we should let him try life without them while he's still living with us. (Obviously this would be under the supervision of the psychiatrist, because he's on major meds and cannot go cold turkey). Then when he fails, we can use that to try to convince him that he needs us. and/or as evidence for become his legal guardians when he turns 18. Police records, psychiatric hospitalizations, and the special school, in addition to his claims that he'll drop his meds (or at least proof that he's not capable of getting them on his own) should be enough to convince a GAL that he's not competent.
Even though we would have proof that he needs it, this is still going to create a very angry Bear. He is in complete denial of his diagnoses - how could he possibly accept that he's going to have to trust us to take care of him for ... the rest of his life? at least a few more years? On the flip side this may give him the excuse he needs to surrender control and finally trust us (right now he feels he's got to mentally/emotionally brace himself for being on his own so he has to push us away so it won't hurt when we "abandon" him).

3. Assist him with moving in with bio-grandfather - talking to Grandfather (finding out if Grandfather even has a clue as to what's going on), possibly visiting him (I'm not sure Grandfather will talk to me as he gets all his info about us from Bear so this way we could meet face to face and he can see I'm not a controlling kidnapper and this way he might get an idea of what Bear is really like since he hasn't seen the kid in 10 years), then, assuming Grandfather really wants him - help Bear locate and set up services - especially getting the psychiatric services and medications and getting school services set up.
By enabling this are we sending the message we approve? By making it easy for him, will he feel we are trying to get rid of him? If he's really leaving can I do any less than everything I can to try to make sure he succeeds?

I think at this point I'm really leaning toward Option #2. So there are lots of considerations that go with that. For one thing, what is our legal liability? Can we get in trouble for allowing him to do this if/when he becomes psychotic?

How far do we go in giving Bear a "normal life?"

• Do we let him get a job?
• Do we help him get a job?
• Do we let him stop seeing his therapist?
• Do we let him get a driver's license?
• Do we help him get a driver's license?
• Do we let him go to friend's houses without checking up on him?
• Do we let him wander the neighborhood?
• Do we start teaching him how to apply for Medicaid?
• Do we start teaching him what his meds do and how they work or do we just let him drop them (under the supervision of his psychiatrist)?
• Do we make him pay for everything? (clothes, utilities, food...).
• Do we require him to prove that he can do stuff (like locate, apply for and arrange to attend: psychiatric services, MHMR services, job, Medicaid, college/trade school applications, driver's ed...)
• Do we pretend to treat him like an adult or do we treat him like a high school student?
• If we treat him like a high school student do we treat him like a "normal" high school student or does he have to continue to follow my admittedly over protective rules? In other words does he still have to be RRHAFTBA? Does he have to check in with me before he goes to a party so I can make sure there will be parents there? Is he allowed to say "naughty words" when there are no littles present?
• If/when he breaks the rules - what kind of punishment/discipline should he get? Should he go in the FAIR Club?
• When he starts treating the family badly what should the consequences be?
• If he gets violent or is caught with drugs or alcohol there is no question that the police would be called, but how involved should we be in his court dates or with the school (if it happens at school)?
• At what point do we consider the "experiment" to be over?
• At the end, do we go straight back to the level of supervision he's at now, or will he be held accountable for his actions during the "experiment."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

More Labor Day Stories

Some of the other Mommy blogs out there are posting "labor day" stories so I thought I'd try it too. I've given birth to two children and adopted two children, and have many children out there that I feel like should be mine, but didn't end up that way.

Bob (don't Hubby and I look kind of evil in this picture?)- A little over fourteen years ago, in the middle of a TX summer, I went into labor with Bob. I'd gained 70lbs, most of which was water weight, and weighed over 200lbs. I was miserable.
I was on a major nesting/sewing kick and was making myself a pair of beautiful pajamas to wear in the hospital (Why wear those ugly things made out of cheap sheet material? Answer: Because you don't want to ruin anything nice with body fluids!). I was having trouble with it so I decided to stay up until 4am to work on it (never did finish it!). I finally gave up and went to bed, and of course I work up almost immediately in labor. By the time I gave birth 14 hours later I hadn't slept in almost 48 hours.

The pains were less than 5 minutes apart, but merely uncomfortable and I hadn't dilated much so they were about to send me home, but when the nurse was checking my dilation, she broke my water. So I stayed. Several hours later they gave me Pitocin since I still wasn't in full labor. The epidural was incredibly painful to administer (the anesthetician asked if I'd had any back injuries), but it did eventually take effect. At one point the bladder on the automatic blood pressure cuff slipped loose and it kept tightening and tightening until we finally managed to rip it off. The bruises were very colorful. Those cuffs still make me nervous (which probably messes with my blood pressure!).

Bob hadn't been cooperative during the ultrasound so I was delighted to discover she was a girl (which is what I secretly wanted).

I lost 20lbs in the hospital (water weight) and another 30lbs in the first 3 weeks, but I couldn't lose the last 10lbs. I blame it on the fact that I was nursing.

Ponito (look at that nose! All the nurses and even the doctor commented on it. I was afraid it would be huge, but it's totally normal now - well, except for where he broke it on his second birthday!) - Gained 70lbs again, but this time it wasn't all water weight!! I woke up in the middle of the night in labor and we dropped Bob off at Grandma's and headed to the hospital.

I got an epidural as soon as they would let me (not soon enough). I had decided not to get an episiotomy this time, so of course I had horrible tears, that got infected. Labor was only 7 hours, and everything was relatively uneventful... until it came time to circumcise little Ponito - let's just say they "nicked" him.

I felt sorry for the hospital because I was stuck waiting while they observed Ponito's "little boy part" for another 24 hours before we went straight to the pediatric urologist, so I got bored and really slammed them on the exit survey. Ended up biting myself in the butt through - they made me stay and explain all my complaints.

Kitty and Bear (I still can't believe Bear is only 12 in this picture! Kitty is 11 here) - You heard how the labor started on Labor day weekend. It got more painful for the next 2 months. We weren't allowed to tell the kids that we were going to adopt them until the ICPC was done, and that took 2 months!

We wanted to keep in touch though so we were allowed to call the kids weekly. Awkward! Imagine talking to kids who are not very social, and you're not allowed to tell them that you're going to be their parents. They both figured it out though and then they got into trouble as the anticipation and stress got to them.

Hubby and I flew to Nebraska, and rented a car to get to the small town where Bear was living (they brought Kitty to us there since she was in a distant rural area). Bear had been hunting with his foster dad and didn't really want to go with us. Kitty was totally hyper and fairly annoying. She kept poking Bear who had been "escaping" by sleeping and was sleeping in the car the whole way to the hotel we'd be staying in before catching our flight home to TX.

As we unloaded the rental car I dropped and broke a special snow globe given to Kitty by her biomom. *sigh* The kids had never been in an airplane before and Hubby and I hadn't been in a really long time, so I'd worn boots with laces (a real pain to get on and off), and Bear had put all his cologne in his carry on bag (he told them to just throw them away since they were bigger than the 2 oz. or whatever it is you're only allowed to have on a plane).

We had a layover in Colorado so my Dad and stepmom (parents of my new little brother) and my cool step sister (who placed 11th in the world in a triathalon a few years ago) all got to meet the kids and give them presents (we knew nothing about making the kids' world small at first while we did all the attachment stuff). Then we finally came home and the journey began.


My nieces and nephew (pictured here at age 8, 10, Bob at age 5, nephew age 11 and Ponito age 1 1/2). - From the time my nieces and nephew were little, their mom (my ex-sister in law) was a mess, and it was pretty much a given that she was going to lose custody any day (she would lose custody, take a few parenting classes, and then get them back, lather, rinse, repeat). Hubby's brother wasn't much better, and was nowhere near ready to handle kids ages 3, 2 and newborn. Hubby and I were happily married and I had cared for my nephew for 6 weeks when he was almost 3 (and fell in love with the kid - I can't believe he's 19 now and engaged to be married!). we talked of nothing else for over a year, even moved up the time we planned to try to get pregnant so I wouldn't have a newborn when she finally lost custody for good. Unfortunately all the people who were telling us all the horror stories about what was going on with the kids never reported them to the police or caseworkers, and she didn't officially lose custody for almost ten more years at which point we were no longer an option. So technically this is not a "labor" story, but it hurt a lot.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Labor Day weekend - our 4th anniversary

Labor Day weekend four years ago is when we first met the kids (Kitty and Bear). (To read about "How we got the kids you can go here. If anyone is interested in more about that first meeting I'd be happy to do a post. You can play - spot all the red flags we missed!).

We don't do much, but this holiday/anniversary is something we celebrate. Usually with Sparkling Grape Juice (a family favorite).

We started the day with Breakfast Soup

(Some water with flour thickener, a cup of grated cheddar cheese, the remainder of a queso - yellow cheese and salsa - dip we'd gotten free in a meal deal, and some leftover torn apart Sonic tater tots we hadn't eaten because they were underdone). It was supposed to have meat or bacon in it, but I didn't have any bacon and I didn't want to go crazy on putting too many expensive ingredients in it because I figured it wouldn't get eaten.

It looked disgusting, smelled good, tasted fine, and a few of the kids actually ate it (not Bob of course).

We had arranged to go to the lake with my little sister, her husband and her two kids (his 3 were with their mom for the weekend). We ended up getting a late start, but it was lovely because it had rained early in the morning so most people had apparently cancelled their plans to go to the lake so it wasn't crowded at all!

Bear had finally managed to get his last few pool skills done with Hubby (Hubby is a scuba instructor) the day before, so this was his first official open water dive (he has one more before he can become scuba certified like Ponito). Hubby tried to let my nephew get a taste of scuba diving, but it was a little too overwhelming. Hubby ended up taking Bob and Ponito for a 1/2 hour dive. There was just enough air left in Bear's tank (nerves cause him to really use a lot of air), for my brother in law to get to do a quick dive with Hubby (he's certified, but hasn't gotten to go often).

In the meantime, my sister and I stayed in the shallower water with the rest of the kids. All but Kitty had a great time swimming and playing with each other. Kitty played for awhile, but then got "bored" and went and sat on a rock. We all had on sunblock, but Bob and I burned anyway (usually it's just me since I'm the only non-Native American in the family). It was a lovely way to spend the day.

I spent quite some time reassuring my sis that I really do love her new house and then had to explain why I didn't seem enthusiastic when we toured it on Sunday. It was hard explaining that it was because I look at it from a totally different perspective than she does, and I'm thinking will it be OK for my kids to even visit? Stuff like:

  • Her daughter's bedroom window is on the second floor and opens onto a not very steep section of the roof. In many TV shows you see people climb out their window and sit on a roof like this. Her daughter's roof is 12-15 feet off the ground with no bushes or trees to block a fall. I can just hear the ambulance sirens in my head.

  • Same with the big tree that has branches right against my nephew's window. Ponito: "Come on Cousin! Let's climb out the window into the tree!).

  • The house has gorgeous high ceilings, and for some reason the doors all go to the ceiling so instead of standard doors, hers are 9-10 feet tall. Doors get broken at my house. I'm imagining how expensive the doors would be to replace... as the kids "lock" another child out of the room by holding the door handle, and slam a door shut repeatedly to show Aunt C that it won't close all the way because the door frame is a little too small in one spot.

  • The stairwell in the entry is curves up to a balcony. While we were there, I caught Ponito already climbing it on the wrong side of the banister - which means when he got to the top he'd be clinging to the beautiful wrought iron railing 10-12 feet off the ground above the lovely, hard ceramic tile. Ponito never falls, but what about the 6 year old twins emulating their cool older cousin?!

  • In a closet upstairs is a little 3' by 3' cabinet looking door that opens into the attic, which doesn't have solid flooring. What a wonderful place to hide when playing hide and seek! What a horrible fall through the ceiling onto more of that lovely ceramic tile or the concrete in the garage?!

She's seeing gorgeous; I'm seeing hazardous!

At my sister's suggestion we'd stopped at a great barbecue place for sandwiches which we ate at the lake (well, everyone else ate their sandwiches, Hubby accidentally forgot to order mine. I did mooch some off my sister so I didn't starve). I admit I did tease the kids by telling them they would all have to order chili (kind of a soup!) instead of barbecue, but we let them order. No soda or chips though.

When we got home from the lake the kids were supposed to do chores. They did a little, but Kitty was antzy to go to the mall, so she couldn't tolerate much redirection on how to do the chores right. She swore she'd do them when she got home, but of course that didn't happen (I thought the mall closed at 6pm - kept thinking it was Sunday, so we took longer at the mall then I thought). Will be interesting to see if she finishes her chores today. Probably not. She's too easily overwhelmed to add more. *sigh*

Kitty and Bear had gotten a package this week with Birthday clothes from one of thier bio-grandmas (B-days were in April and July, but oh well). None of the clothes fit so we returned them for store credit. Bear had kept the shirts (they all had Nebraska on them which you can't exchange here) so he had about $30. I had to explain to them why they weren't getting the amounts on the tags (no receipt). We rarely shop retail for clothes so this was the first time we'd been to the mall in over a year. I have to say I was really impressed with the kids purchases!

With her $40 (and my help), Kitty searched through the Clearance racks and ended up with several shirts and a pair of jeans that were all cute, trendy and flattering and even had a couple of dollars left over. Ponito surprised me by wanting to come on the trip, and promptly fell into the "I'm booorreed!" routine while Kitty shopped. Since none of the kids could be left alone, he was stuck with waiting while his sister looked at and tried on clothes, this got really old really fast.

Bear told Ponito that he would give Ponito some of his money. Bear is VERY generous like this. of course this is just one more reason Bear can't keep money in his pocket for more than a second, but it's still sweet. When it was finally Bear's turn to shop we discovered that the store didn't carry Wranglers, which is currently the only jeans Bear will wear. Problem! I told him he couldn't blow all his money on sunglasses, so we was frustrated. Bear found a couple of $5 t-shirts he liked (including a cute Oscar the Grouch one), and then we wandered the store for awhile. Finally Bear decided he would like to have a new watch and found a unique looking one on sale in his price range. I give it about 30 seconds before it breaks, but at last we were done and could leave!!

Bear realized that what he had added up to a little over what was on his gift card, and was going to put back one of the t-shirts so he could give Ponito the money he promised. *aaaww!!* I told Bear I would cover the couple of dollars difference, and that I would make sure Ponito got something too.

The problem was we couldn't find anything Ponito wanted for less than $5 (what I was willing to spend), and he began to pout. When we checked out, we had $.26 left on a card. I was really impressed with the kids shopping skills!! I was ready to toss the $.26 already and get out of the store, but the kids convinced me to let Ponito look a little longer. Finally we found some of those obnoxious silly bands that all the kids are wearing nowadays and I bought two packages for $5 (what a waste of money, but at least we were finally done!).

We got home and found that Hubby had made chili! *yea!* But he hadn't checked first to make sure we had beans so I had to run to the store. *boo!* At the store I bought cake, and had told Bob to put the Sparkling Grape Juice in the fridge.

We had cake for dessert with our Sparking Grape Juice, and I was popular and loved again and we lived happily ever after!!

(OK, not really, but a girl can dream can't she?!)

Corrective Action

I'm assuming you want to know how it went?!

Saturday in therapy we told Bear that he was on probation, about Soup Kitchen, and about his new job description. He took it OK. When we got home we decided to do a quick retraining on how to clean correctly. As usual I talked too much and Hubby got in his face too much (by the way, ANY constructive criticism is too much when dealing with Bear, but we really should have stopped a lot sooner). Bear shut down, which ticked Hubby off. Bear was rude to me, and Hubby didn't really get on his case about it, which ticked me off. All in all it was frustrating, but at least he can't say he doesn't know how to do his chores.

Sunday evening, we told the kids about the new chores and Soup Kitchen. Bear already knew so he didn't participate in the conversation. Kitty wanted to watch a show, and the family meeting ran over the start time so she was antcy and trying to get the meeting over with so she could watch. Ponito was upset because his chores didn't really change. Bob was the most upset, because... she hates soup! All soup! She'd "rather die" than eat soup.

I hate confrontation, was still a little ticked about Bear's attitude the day before, and felt attacked by everyone so my PTSD was showing. When the meeting was finally over, and Bob was refusing to eat dinner and went to cry in her room about what mean parents we were for torturing her this way, Hubby was trying to force her to eat, then listened to her complain for an hour, then came to me to defend her.

Bob has tons of homework, so hasn't done her chores the last couple of weeks. Hubby was suggesting that based on her homework, we cut her some slack. At the beginning of his and my conversation I thought he was changing his mind about the whole program and fussing at me for sticking to my guns and putting them all on Soup Kitchen, turns out he just wanted to talk about Bob specifically, but the damage was already done. I was defensive and short with him. By the time I figured out what he was talking about, and adjusted to discussing Bob, he was frustrated with my attitude and stormed out. I was already upset, so his walking out really triggered me (I've got attachment issues of my own).

Finally after 1am he sent me an e-mail saying he wanted to finish the conversation. We stayed up until 2:30am talking (usual for me, late for him).

I explained that yes, Bob has homework, but we'd already accomodated this last year, and hadn't really increased her chores over the Summer either, and she still chose not to do her chores all Summer and copped a major attitude to boot. I didn't realize she'd rather die than eat soup, but she wasn't going to starve to death either. She had ended up eating one bowl of the chicken noodle soup I'd made for dinner. Quite frankly she wasn't going to get a lot of sympathy from me. Hubby thought about it and was a little more in agreement. We didn't go to bed angry.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

New job descriptions

Bob - I'm thinking of putting Bob on a Work/Study Program. She doesn't need the allowance (her savings are good), and her school work is often totally over the top due to her Advanced Placement classes. She can be given some floating chores that can be done on days when she doesn't have a lot of homework, or on weekends if she didn't get to them during the week (motivation! - as she hates doing chores on weekends). She'd get a lesser allowance because she'd only be working part-time.

Bear – Bear's debt is getting ridiculous. He owes $18 for the Zune, $95 for the repairs to the neighbor's lawnmower (which is still broken as the repairman apparently missed several things), not including the cost for the repair to our lawnmower and to replace all the wheels?! since we haven't actually paid to have it fixed yet, and now he owes $56 in library fines (he borrowed two cookbooks and they never made it back to the library). So $169 at a rate of $2-$4/week in allowance, probably less once the carrot of the Zune has been earned, would take him more than a year to earn. Since he's planning on leaving after his birthday (in 10 months)... well, you do the math.

So if this were his job, then he's not making enough to make ends meet so he needs a Second Job or to take extra shifts. Bear doesn't have much homework (except what he likes to drag out on the computer - he had one extra credit project that lasted 6 months!), so he's got lots of extra time he's been using for sleeping (dissociating/ isolating from the family). I figure he can pick up Bob's extra jobs.

Kitty - Kitty is already on an amended program. She has about half the chores, does them half as well, and gets half as much allowance. I think the step up in mandatory supervision should help her. Other than that, I think I'll leave it alone until the "probationary period" is over and then we'll see if she's ready for more. She desperately wants to drive a car, but that's not going to happen at the Junior/ Intern level.

Ponito - not sure what to do with Ponito. He can do the jobs, and he can do them well, but right now he's following in the footsteps of his older siblings and refusing and/or lying about doing his chores. Hubby thinks I'm being too hard on him, because no one else is doing their chores and they all lie about it, but I'm not grounding them. That's not really true though. Bear and Kitty are pretty much always "grounded." Bob is always in her room so she might as well be.

Ponito was behaving the most responsibly and had the most privileges. It's time to remove some of those and let him know that, "Yes, yes I do hold him to a higher standard." I guess he has a temporary demotion until he gets off probation, then he goes back to being Skilled Labor (?).

Friday, September 3, 2010


So we're thinking that if we fire the kids, then they'll have no motivation to improve. So the new potential plan is to put them on probation/ corrective action.

We'll probably still do Soup Kitchen as an object lesson to show them what it might be like to be unemployed. I'm thinking I'll make a couple of kinds of soup (probably vegetable beef and chicken noodle) - heavy on the veggies and healthy! They can eat the soup lovingly made by Mom for breakfast, snack and dinner, and for lunch at school either canned soup or a thermos of soup.

We were trying to think of what kinds of things happen in the real world if you're put on probation/ corrective action.

  • Demotion - having child do more menial chores, the ones others may not want. If your responsibility is cut then you lose privileges as well.
  • Hours/salary cut - reduction in allowance?
  • Go back and put it right - spend some time re-doing chores to the best of their ability - meeting parent's standards.
  • Additional training - Have Hubby and I together give them instruction on how to properly do each of their chores.
  • Mentor/additional supervision - Have someone "supervise" them while doing the chores. Require them to have their chores initialed by a caregiver.
  • Counseling sessions - Assessments of how the child is doing and what progress, if any is being made toward goals. Solicit child's input on what's working, what's not, what might work, and what should be tried next.
  • Require personal, financial or substance abuse counseling - talk about problem in counseling, give financial counseling, and/or find substance abuse counseling depending on need.
  • Reduction in responsibilities and authority - not allowed to do chores that require others to count on you (like feeding the dogs or cleaning high traffic areas), not allowed to supervise others (or maybe not allowed to interact with others at all to protect others' health or safety). Verbal/Written Reprimand - Goes on their permanent record - past performance is most likely remembered when considering child for future tasks (driving and other privileges)
  • Commitment to improve obtained in writing - have a written agreement with the child, detailing what is needed to get off probation and a committment to do so.

So once the child is told why they're being put on probation, then we have to document next steps. Here's a great list I found of reasons for corrective action:

The Official Reasons for Using the Disciplinary Process

(1) Inefficiency
“Inefficiency” means a wasting of time, energy, or materials. It refers to the quantity or amount of an employee’s performance. Inefficiency should be a more common cause for progressive corrective disciplinary action. This is because inefficiency is usually easy to measure.

(2) Incompetency
“Incompetent” means incapable, unqualified, or inadequate. It refers to the quality of an employee’s performance. The employee may lack the necessary skills to perform the job. He may perform well, but not often enough. The employee may not be performing as well as he once did. His performance may be lacking the necessary quality expected.

It is rare that an employee is disciplined for incompetence. The exceptions most often occur during the probationary period.

(3) Dishonesty
“Dishonesty” means untrustworthy, lacking honesty, gained by falseness. Examples of dishonesty are such things as: theft of money or materials, fraudulent reporting of time, or even a presentation of facts designed to create a false conclusion. A charge of dishonesty is one of the most serious charges that can be brought against an employee. An act of dishonesty violates the public trust.

(4) Insubordination
“Insubordination” means refusal to follow the lawful orders or directives of a proper authority. It is important to let an employee know that the failure to follow a lawful order will result in insubordination to give them a chance to obey the order. If they still refuse to obey the order, then charge them with insubordination. An example of insubordination is a truck driver who refuses to take his truck out when it snows, despite being lawfully ordered to do so.

(5) Neglect of Duty
“Neglect of Duty” means a failure to perform a duty or responsibility required of a position.
For example: An employee fails to lock a building for which he is responsible. He would be guilty of neglect of duty in failing to secure the building.

(6) Failure of Good Behavior
“Failure of Good Behavior” covers a variety of behaviors. Some examples are: a conviction for a criminal charge, discourteous treatment of the public, an accumulation of minor infractions of rules and regulations within a short period of time. A failure of good behavior may also occur off the job. If so, it must affect the employee’s ability to perform the job or the public’s confidence in the employee’s ability before it would be subject to disciplinary action.

(7) Substance Abuse
“Substance Abuse” means a use of drugs or alcohol that adversely influences an employee’s performance, endangers his own health and safety, or endangers his co-workers or the general public. Examples of substance abuse would be the use of drugs or alcohol on the work site, or reporting for work under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

(8) Excessive Absenteeism
“Excessive Absenteeism” is used when an employee has unexcused absences from the job. Employees are expected to be at work when scheduled. Failure to report when scheduled may result in a charge of Excessive Absenteeism.
(9) Violation of the Rules and/or RRHAFTBA(LL)
Willful violation of the rules

An employee may be the subject of the disciplinary process for more than one reason. For example, a person charged with dishonesty may also be guilty of failure of good behavior.

You're Fired!

A fellow blogger has sweetly posted for me a description of a therapy technique called Soup Kitchen. The basic premise is that a child's job is to be a contributing member of the family (do chores, be pleasant to be around... RRHAFTBA(LL). If the child is not doing his or her job then he gets fired. Unemployed people eat at the Soup Kitchen. No limits on the type or amount of soup, but nothing but soup for breakfast, lunch, and dinner until the child starts consistantly doing his job again and doing it well. (For my friend's daughter the pre-arranged time was 3 days of doing her job right.)

Lately none of my children have been doing their jobs!

Even if you only look at chores as their "job," they're completely failing. Add in attitude and you can see why they deserve to be "fired."


Hubby, Grandma and I have talked alot lately about Bear "flying under the radar." When he "cleans" a room, he just shoves things out of sight. To him it's clean if there's not a layer of stuff, but vacuuming or using cleansers doesn't seem to be happening. The question is, is he playing the game - figuring out exactly what the minimum is and only doing that, or does he really not know the higher standard we're expecting and only does what he's been trained/forced to do. I'll admit there is no way I want to work next to him and show him the right way to do things.

When you look in Bear's room it generally looks clean. There are no sheets on his bed, it smells, and his desk is covered in sunflower seeds and half full glasses, but the floor is mostly picked up. When you walk into Bear's room, you discover that tons of stuff is piled up on the other side of his furniture where you can't see it from the door. In his closet he had 4 full laundry baskets. I didn't search them, but the one closest to the door appeared to be a mixed load (supposedly everyone does their own laundry so their clothes don't get mixed together, but of course this doesn't always happen) of mostly Kitty's sheets and blankets. Another basket appeared to have his clothes, but was one of my baskets (all the baskets are labeled for the same reason!).

I told Bear he needed to return Kitty's sheets and blankets and got grumped at that he was "using them for pillows" because his was "too small." I told him this was not an acceptable solution, and he needed to put "new pillow" on the shopping list and return Kitty's linens. I mentioned that I'd noticed my basket in there and he needed to return it. Then I let it drop. He stormed upstairs.

Grandma was looking through Bear's room for some missing library books he'd checked out, and looked under his bed. It was stuffed with books and papers so she asked me to go through them with him, and to remind him that it was not OK to use under his bed for storage. She asked me if I'd done this before and I realized I hadn't. I've searched and cleaned his room before, but never with him because I wanted to find contraband without giving him a chance to pocket it and without an argument.

Yesterday chore was "Clean your room." I asked him if he'd done his chores. He said yes. I asked him about the laundry baskets. He got defensive. I told him I wanted my laundry basket back. He said it was full. I replied he'd had it for quite awhile, he needed to put the laundry away. He said it was dirty. I told him then wash it!! Last night the basket was in my room, and the linens are no longer in his room, but the clothes are piled on a shelf not washed or put away.


Kitty has never been good about doing her chores without someone forcing her to (usually triggering a meltdown if you won't let her melt away - go walk in circles in the backyard or hide in her room with her music blaring), and she does them so poorly that you have to question, is this the best she's capable of, a learned behavior, or is she just really lazy? She really is oblivious in general - she walks on stuff without having a clue it's underfoot, leaves trails of food everywhere, just plain doesn't notice or care if things are kneedeep in cr*p.


Bob is a packrat and a bookworm. Her room is jammed full of stuff, knick knacks, books, clothes, pillows, stuffed animals... a typical teenager. I don't expect perfection, but I do want to be able to see the floor. Bob rarely leaves her room. She is usually laying on her bed reading a book (sometimes schoolwork, but most of the time for pleasure). The problem is, she's in advanced placement classes and really does have tons of homework that she stays up half the night working on, so getting her chores done is a lower priority. For that reason I've lightened her chore load considerably, but still...


Whether in emulation or it's just a phase, Ponito has become a major liar! He has been lying to my face about doing his chores. Honestly I expect it from Bear and Kitty, and Bob does it to, but the blatancy still shocks me.

Wednesday he was supposed to clean out the tub in the master bath (he and I are the only ones who use it). I asked him if he'd done his chores and he said yes. He's lied before so I went to check and he hadn't. I called him in there and pointed out the evidence in the tub. "Ummm... I only clean around the tub." Not acceptable, but I confirmed that what he was saying was that he did his chore by cleaning the edge of the tub? Head nodding. So I show him evidence that that hadn't been done either. HE STILL TRIED TO SAY HE DID IT!

I told him he was grounded from using my bathroom for a week. (The kids hate the kid bath. It smells and the shower doesn't work. Bear is the only one who uses it, and that's probably only because he's not allowed to use our bathroom (he steals, and we keep the meds in there). Ponito, who is a rare bather anyway, and gets away with it because he hasn't hit puberty yet, started bragging that he just won't take a bath until he goes to Grandma's on Saturday. NOT acceptable. I start threatening. Finally I grounded him. He ran out of the house and disappeared. *sigh*

He did come back, and was told he couldn't leave without permission, and if he wanted to get to go to the lake with Hubby this weekend to scuba he was NOT going about it the right way. Later he told me he'd cleaned the tub, but he LIED again!

Last night, he STILL hadn't cleaned the bath (although he lied yet again about having done so, and he STILL hadn't taken a bath - since Saturday). Luckily Hubby got home from teaching scuba early (usually he gets home way after everyone's bed time) and Hubby made Ponito bathe. It was probably a sink bath, and honestly he may have used my bathroom, but I don't know for sure.

I hate that Ponito appears to be picking up on the older kids' behaviors. I needed one child that wasn't totally draining!


I went over their chores they've checked off for the week and they have all blatantly lied (checked stuff off that wasn't done) on almost EVERY chore. They've all, except Bob (who at least is honest about it), verbally told me that they had done their chores for the day.

So I'm seriously considering trying the Soup Kitchen. I have to discuss it first with Hubby and Grandma, and the kids' therapists.

There's also a major problem with logistics. Soup is expensive. My 3 "Sequoia's" can eat a lot of soup before they get sick of it, and will probably prefer it to the "disgusting" healthy food I cook. If I limit the amount of soup then we trigger their major food issues (assuming this doesn't anyway). Should I only buy soups I approve of (healthy)? Should I let the kids pick the types? Should I have a big variety or just a select few that they'll probably all eat.

Kitty will eat a lot for the novelty of it and then will most likely start opening a can, eat a little, claim to not like it or get a "stomach ache," and leave it out to go bad.... and repeat.

Bear will most likely be happy. Food he doesn't have to rely on me to cook! The other factor is he will continue to do what he does now... beg, mooch or steal junk food at school. He doesn't eat much at home.

Bob and Ponito might get the point quickly. Bob would either be happy because she's such a picky eater or miserable because soup isn't on her list of foods she'll eat.

Despite appearances, most of my kids would rather starve than eat food they don't like. They do this by filling up with junk food whenever they can.