Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thankful November, Day 30: You start where you are.

This is my last Thankful November Post. I am glad I tried the challenge, but there were days when I was a fish out of water, desperately flailing around, trying to find something to write. Today I have a lot to say, so please be patient- I will come back to gratitude.

This morning was a good morning. The girls were up in time, both in good moods, and dressed without any hassle. GB took care of Ellie, Hope started breakfast. When they were both done eating, Hope went to finish last night's HW and GB had a couple of more invitations to fill out. I was sitting between them. Hope needed continual help, because the HW was way beyond her current capabilities (but that is another post). GB said something about one of her classmates being adopted. Hope said, "He can't be adopted. He's white." GB looked at Hope like she was from another planet and repeated "He is adopted. He is white." Hope got the look*out*your*stupid look on her face and insistently said "Only brown kids get adopted". GB told her again "J is white and he was adopted." Hopes arms were crossed and her chin jutted out. I quickly sent GB to watch some TV before the bus. I helped Hope finish her HW and just as she was done, she looked at me and said "Only brown babies get adopted, because nobody wants them. White babies stay with their Mommys".  All I said to her was I wanted to adopt her, not just any baby, and it was time to go.

After the kids were one the bus, I came back in and realized today was easy. I am grateful that God has given me a chance to change this child's self image and broaden her knowledge base. It is my job to expose her to the many non-brown kids who have been adopted. I can't help wondering, though, where she got these ideas from.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thankful November, Day 29

I am thankful for the sun shining, GB being kind, and the real hug Hope gave me before bed last night. I am thankful that MK came with us for Thanksgiving and was a cheerful, helpful part of the family, the whole time. I am thankful for my husband, who did ALL the driving both ways. I am thankful for Garrett, Danae, and Josiah, my sister's three kids. They always leave me feeling appreciated.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Weekend in Pictures

My sister and the girls work on stuffing.

Danae helps, too.

Danae works on Chinese Dumplings.

Josiah turns the BIG 13!

Danae and her favorite Uncle.

Big kid at play.

Caught with a soda before dinner.

Josiah got Kapla blocks for his birthday.

First project.

Top view.

My sister makes turkey soup.

Lynn and Danae.

Playing Ultimate Frisbee. Grateful no one got hurt.

Hope, GB and Ellie, feeling safe.

MK and Malachi- a great addition to the weekend!

Hope had her locs redone!

The Dad worked a lot over the weekend.


What a good holiday! Hope had some problems, one of my nephews also had one bad day, but both recovered. This weekend, we built tall buildings, played ultimate, kicked around a soccer ball, had two family game nights and watched Santa Paws.

Hope had obviously played before.

Everybody is looking forward to spending Christmas together.

GB always enjoys her cousins.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday

For the first time in years, my sister and I opted out of shopping on Black Friday. We have been simplifying holidays a little bit at a time for years. The past year has contained so many changes for both of our families, that we agreed it was time to do something completely different. Tonight, we put everybody's name in a hat and everyone drew out a name (MK drew a name for Malachi). Everybody will be responsible for choosing a gift for the person whose name they drew. The kids under 13 will also get  stockings. At least, that's what we are aiming for. Neither J nor MK are thrilled, but if they choose to have Christmas with us, they will have to go along with it.

I am thankful that I still have my sister to share the good times with.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Day

With all the deaths my family experienced 3 years ago, family holidays have changed and some of those changes are really noticeable. Today is Thanksgiving Day. In my family, Thanksgiving was the first, most important holiday of the year and my Mom’s favorite. I am thankful that with all the changes, it still feels like Thanksgiving has always felt. MK and her baby are here and MK has been as much of this holiday, as when she was little and eagerly waited for Thanksgiving to come. We are staying at my sister’s, instead of my mother’s.  The kids think “cousin” is the best word in our language. Most of our kids contend with various disabilities, but all of them make allowances for each other’s quirks with out consciously thinking about it. They have cheerfully drawn Hope into the crowd, waiting for the tantrums to pass, and then pulling her back into the fun. Nobody cares that GB is now autistic, as we have had two autistic  kids already. Some of the kids are busy making steamed dumplings, the older set is outside playing Ultimate. GB is happily coloring a page with cats, Hope is one of the dumpling makers. The Black Friday circulars are organized, pen waiting, to help plan tomorrow. The kitchen smells great; different then it did when my parents were alive, but still... like Thanksgiving.

Shortly the turkey will hit he oven and the board games will come out. Computers will be off. Phones will go unanswered. After dinner,  we will go for a walk, weather permitting, followed by dessert and more games. The flow and ebb of family goes on around tantrums, meltdowns, and sick children, sweeping everybody with it. In its essence, Thanksgiving Day hasn’t changed since I was a girl.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

GB is Finally Finalized! (Thankful November, Day 23)

It is Legal!

GB and the stuff the judge gave her

GB and her godfather

Today I am thankful because God is faithful and GB's Adoption  has been finalized in His time, although in my time it took 7 years too long. Thank you to everybody who has supported me while I adjusted to God's time. Maybe I developed some patience.  I can breathe again!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thankful November, Day 22

I am thankful for two things today. MK and her baby are going to Raleigh with us to have Thanksgiving with my sister. The girls are super excited. As far as GB is concerned, there is nothing better than time with cousins.  D has chosen to spend the long weekend 2 1/2 hours away with his biological father. The Dad put him on a train before 7am this morning.

Need prayers- check the other blog.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thankful November, Day 21

I am thankful for the moments when GB and Hope are interacting and the rest of the world might as well not exist, whether they are playing dolls, with their kitchen, building blocks, or drawing. It gives me hope that all of the difficulties we have been going through and will continue to go through, leads to a better reality. 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

New Post

New Post on the other blog.

Thankful November, Day 20

Today I am grateful for my husband, who has the whole crew out shopping this afternoon so that I can stay off my painful hip.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Run Over

We drove down to the George Jarvis Clinic today. We had an appointment for GB to have a neuropsych done, as a follow up to July's appointment, which confirmed she is FASD. GB cheerfully went off with the tester, while I stayed to talk to the psychologist who runs the department. I don't know what I was expecting, but since the testing hadn't even started, I wasn't expecting anything new.  The psychologist started by telling me besides being Bipolar and having FASD, she was Autistic. I felt run over. She said she wouldn't know where on the spectrum GB fell until after today's testing. It will be either PDD-NOS or Aspergers. GB's Dad is more blown away then I am. Feelings will have to wait for a post on the other blog and probably until I am not numb any more.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Thankful November, Day 17

I am thankful for the internet. It existed when I started adopting special needs kids, but it was not user friendly and the information available was limited. Any real research required a university library and a lot of time. The internet is so much apart of my world now,  it is hard to remember that 30 years ago the world ran without it.

National Education Week

It is National Education Week in the United States. As part of this week, parents are invited into their children' classroom to observe their education as it happens. This year I needed to visit two classrooms.
I chose to go to Hope's classroom first. I was warmly greeted and a found a chair in the reading corner to sit in. My goal was to become part of the woodwork and see what was happening. I was there 20 minutes. There were 6 adults working with 11 children. In that time I saw Hope throw a pencil, cross her arms and and flat out refuse to do a worksheet, push another student on the way back to her seat, and finally, as they were lining up for gym hit the boy next to her. The boy told an aide Hope hit him. The aide said, "You're all right. I am sure it was an accident." Maybe people only see what they expect to see.

Next stop was GB's room. Everything was so different. There were 3 adults working with 8 children. The adults were aware of everything every child was doing. Throughout the twenty minutes I visited, there were many instances of *catching them them being good*. The teacher did a good job teaching the kids to distinguish complete sentences from incomplete sentences. He incorporated following directions and dump trucks into his lesson, which made the 7 boys in the class happy.

I want more for Hope. I do not know where to start. Her last CSE meeting was only a week ago. I don't know what else to say.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Difference in Waiting Periods...

When GB was almost 5 months, she became ours, via a Family Court Order giving us physical custody. We had already had her and her parents living with us, since she was released from NICU.  Her father was working full time and her mother refused to care for her. We tried to get help for her mother, but she refused all services. We put GB in daycare, so that she would be safe while we were working. On August 2, 2003, GB's birth mother walked out and never looked back. When finalize her adoption next week, we will have had her FOR OVER SEVEN YEARS! We know the child intimately; we understand her issues from FASD and her issues from Bipolar Disorder. We have our support team in place, including an educational lawyer and a family lawyer. We live in NY and when the judge grants the adoption decree, we will know exactly what we are committing to.

Hope was born in Texas, in October, 2005. She was adopted by a family at 5 weeks of age. When we picked her up on August 25th, we had spent a total of maybe 7 hours with her, over two days. She had an alphabet soup of diagnoses, everything but RAD. Less than 15 hours later, at almost 5 years old, she was ours. The judge in Texas waived the waiting period and finalized our adoption. He never even asked to see identification. He took the lawyers word that we were suitable and we were who he thought we were. We had the beginnings of a support team in place, but since we really didn't know what to expect, we were really starting from scratch. Hope was not toilet trained, on a major tranquilizer to knock her out at night and an atypical anti-psychotic twice a day. She bit, kicked, clawed, pushed, punched and screeched (loudly). We had no clue what was really wrong with her. It has been almost 3 months and the only one of the original diagnoses left is Bipolar Disorder and that is only because it hasn't been officially ruled out yet. We have picked the diagnosis of RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder).

Two different states, two different time tables. Sometimes, I ask myself which time table is better for the child involved. The answer I always come back to, is for the kids, both time tables sucked.

Thankful November, Day 16

Today I am thankful for for Hope's amazing day yesterday. She dressed herself independently and for the first time since she came to live with us, there were NO tantrums or rages- not even a time out! She was looking at some pictures her Texas family sent her and that her and I made into a life book. She was crying quietly, but let me pull her into my lap and cuddle her. She was not able to verbalize much, but still, it was an awesome day of progress!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Thankful November, Day 15

Today I am thankful for other bloggers. Not only do they *get it*, but they clarify ideas that I have had, much more elegantly than I can. One such example was Kari's post today.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Victory for GB

There was a birthday party today for one of the neuro-typical girls in GB's gymnastics class. She was invited! The kind mother also specifically said Hope was welcome, too. The Dad wanted to give Hope a chance, so the four of us went. It was at a roller rink. GB has never successfully skated, but she was excited to be invited.

When we arrived at the roller rink, we found out the party was one of 14 parties being hosted this afternoon. We were among the first arrivals, hoping to get them settled in before there were a lot of people and noise. That worked out well for GB. She got on her skates and headed right out to the rink. The first time around, she didn't let go of the rail. Even so, she fell several times. She got right up and resumed skating. By the end of the party, she was skating by herself, away from the wall completely. You could see the pride on her face. She handled the music, noise, and people.

As we were leaving, I asked her what the best part of the party was. Without hesitation, she told me it was the prizes she picked for the 150 tickets she won in the game room.

Hope struggled, but also experienced some success. For the first time, Hope made a whole event without having to be taken to the car! I wish we could just stay home for the rest of the week and bask in our success.

New Post on other blog

I have a new post on my other blog. If any body stumbles across this blog, I ask that you keep a young friend of mine in your thoughts.

Thankful November, Day 14

Today I am thankful that weatherman was wrong. We were supposed to have rain all day and instead it is sunny. We can put up our outside Christmas decorations up in reasonable 45 degree weather, and plug them in when we get back from Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Thankful November, Day 13

Today I am thankful that when I follow God's will, he blesses me with interesting days. I am never bored, and rarely complacent.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Dad Is Home and What I Learned

The Dad is home and has already taken one of Hope's three tantrums. The girls are out walking with MK and I am contemplating my week. So far, this is what I have:
  • There is no such thing as instant love. I empathize with Hope, I am committed to Hope, I am careful to give her affection. However, in the 2 1/2 months she has been legally ours and living with us, I have not fallen in love with her. I am careful to be honest and sensitive with her, and for now, that is good enough.
  • I find her rages easier to handle than her tantrums. She has so many tantrums, for so many reasons, each one needs to be thought about individually as I monitor myself to try and ensure she is not penalized if I run out of patience. It is almost a relief when a tantrum morphs into a rage, as rages I can handle on auto-pilot. I also tend end up with more bruises during tantrums.
  • Hope is not ready to handle being out and about. It always results in more tantrums. Not having the time out chair and the big red timer with us is part of the reason she tantrums more. She is still a concrete thinker and is better able to not tantrum with those reminders right in front of her. I think more of it is because, while she is experiencing some security at home, it is much too new to hold on to in overstimulating situations. And since before we got her she never went anywhere, all situations away from the house are new and overstimulating.
  • Two parents allow one to deal with the child who is raging or tantruming, while the other can keep the house routine as normal as possible.
  • The Dad and I are not 100% in sync. When Hope crosses the line, which at least is pretty much the same for both of us, I count slowly to three, which is currently as high as Hope can always count to, and when I hit three, the consequence is activated. The Dad is prone to give her more chances to comply, after three and try to reason her into compliance. The down side to this, is that Hope never expects a consequence when I hit three. The advantage of the Dad's method is he can sometimes sidestep a tantrum altogether.
The walk is over, and the girls are back. Any feedback is welcome.

Thankful November, Day 12

Today I am thankful for my sister. Today is her birthday and it hit me (again) that we were the only ones left of our original family. I love her unconditionally even though we are almost nothing alike. Maybe because we are nothing alike, her total support of my kids and my choices- ones she would never make- always stood out as a constant, comforting given. Our families spend all major holidays together and always have. We have traditions built up that not only are important to us, but are counted on by our children. She has three biological children, 2 of which are special needs. We currently live 700 miles apart, but our families share a closeness from the years when we lived in neighboring towns. Happy Birthday, Sis!

My sister, Lynn with GB

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Almost There...

I have almost made the day. Both girls are in bed. As soon as Hope stops screaming, I am in bed and to sleep. GB went to play with a friend. Alone. Without Hope. Hope was not happy. She  suddenly *forgot* where toys were kept, how to put her slip-on shoes on, where the toilet was (twice), and the no-touch-the- animals rule. By the time we ate dinner, Hope had no privileges left. After dinner, I told her to get her pajamas on. That started a full blown tantrum. I managed to get her pajamas on and put her on her bed. She started throwing things. I told her she should not be throwing stuff. She said "I will stupid" and threw her pillow at me. I picked up her pillow and put it up. The tantrum turned into a rage. I am waiting for it to pass. The Dad will be home in the morning. I will still be here. I just have to wait for the rage to pass.

Thankful November, Day 11

Last night, GB's Godfather came to talk the girls out for fast food. He was trying to be helpful since the Dad is out of town. I was leaning towards keeping Hope home, as she got off the bus and had problems almost immediately. Time out had encouraged her to pull it together somewhat, and both GB and her GF wanted to bring Hope. I let myself be persuaded. BIG mistake. Home came back screeching about some plastic toy she had lost, refused to say "Thank you" to GF, and demanded cookies. I spent the rest of the evening paying for her going out. I managed not to (visablely) react. GB was thrilled that Hope was not cooperating, as she was allowed to watch PBS for a half hour- there is no school tomorrow- and she didn't have to compromise on what show was on. She still needed her Dad's picture to go to sleep.

GF has been friends with the Dad for a long time. Today, I am thankful for good friends who try to make things easier, even if they don't get it. It is the thought that counts.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

New Post on other blog

My grandson at 10 weeks

On other blog

Thankful November, Day 10

I have been having a lot of trouble with my left hip. I don't walk right, but I didn't know GB had noticed. We recently had this conversation about heaven:

GB: Is Grandma still in heaven?

Me: Yes. That's were she lives now.

GB: How come we left her in that place?

Me: The cemetery?

GB: Yes. Doesn't she need her bones in heaven?

Me: No. When you go to heaven, God gives you a new body that works perfectly.

GB: So Grandma can walk again, maybe even on the beach?

Me: I am sure she can.

GB: We should send you to heaven with Grandma. Then God would give you a new hip and you wouldn't limp any more.

Me: Oh.

GB: That won't work unless I go with you. I guess you will have to limp.

Today I am thankful for a fresh perspective and the child who shared it with me.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Thankful November, Day 9

This morning is cold and rainy, and it seemed like it took hours to get the girls out to the bus. Hubby is in England for the week. I am grateful for the fireplace in the leaving room. I am grateful for my two Maine Coons who stay by my side. I am grateful for a pantry stocked with groceries, so I don't have to go out until we leave for therapy tonight. I am most grateful for GB's Mr. Teacher.  Even though GB had a really hard morning and her thinking processes were faulty, I could send her to school and be sure she was getting the support she needed. I am also sure that if she can't hold it together, Mr. Teacher will call me to pick her up BEFORE there is a problem. How different then last year. Thank you, Jesus.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Another Round with Mrs. Chairperson

We had a CSE meeting for Hope this morning. I went alone, because the Dad is in England. It was short and productive. They started 15 minutes behind schedule and I was not going to spend all morning with this nonsense. Mrs. Chairperson was very busy writing notes from the previous meeting and I was tired of waiting. I asked the PT to start. He said Hope was borderline in her abilities and rather taking her out of the class at this point, he would rather retest her in the spring.  Next was Meg, OT, who I knew because she has GB. She had the same opinion has the PT- retest in the spring. Finally it was the SLP 's turn. She said Hope's speech was that of a much younger child. When Mrs. Chairperson suggest retesting Hope in the spring, SLP said we need to do it now. Hope will be getting speech 3 X a week. The Therapist from Rockland County Children's  Psychiatric Hospital, noted that Hope has a lot of anger, and under the anger was even more fear. He said she was in the right placement.

Mrs. Chairperson wanted Hope to be mainstreamed. I agreed as long as it was during free play and an aide from her class was present. We went on to the IEP and the first goal that went in was that everybody who had contact with Hope was to maintain appropriate boundaries. Mrs. Chairperson objected because the committee could not educate everybody on what appropriate boundaries were. My answer was there should be somebody with Hope at all times who could enforce appropriate boundaries.

Then it was Ms.VY Teacher's turn. She said the last three weeks, Hope's true colors have come out. I asked her why the daily communication book had been coming home empty. She look embarrassed and said she was unable to find words that really fit what was happening with Hope in her classroom. None of it was particularly awful, but by the time the day was over, she had a headache and couldn't wait for Hope to leave.  I handed her my Teacher's Rad Handout (for the second time) and suggested she and her aides read it. It was closer to success than I thought possible. I am content.

Winter, Grateful November, Day 8

It is gray and raining, will a little frozen ice mixed in. In five minutes, I have to put the girls on the bus and get ready for a CSE meeting on Hope. After a bad week with Hope, she woke up sunny and cooperative. They are ready for school and there is no bickering. I had 10 extra minutes to post. Hallelujah!

Today I am thankful I live in NY, where there is winter, but winter is not as overwhelming as, say, Michigan or Minnesota. I want winter to come for the holidays, and leave January first. I can dream...

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Thankful November, Day 6

Today I am grateful that no matter how bad the day gets (2 physical take downs so far), it WILL end and tomorrow will be a new day. I like the way God set that up!

Friday, November 5, 2010

GB Has a Date! Thankful November

I posted on the other blog a little while ago. I was feeling pretty down and did not know how to find the energy to ask for God's  help. After I posted, I just laid quietly... waiting. After a while, I was calm and my mind was still. I told God I was afraid there was nothing left... The phone rang. It was my lawyer. He had a date. GB will be finalized Tuesday, November 23, 2010, at 9 o'clock in the morning.

Today I am thankful for God, who carries you when you feel like you can't take another step.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thankful November, Day 4

Today I am thankful for my gifts from God, my children. MK has been great since her rage 2 months ago. Hope woke up with a smile and hug- much better than yesterday :)  GB woke up looking forward to going to school AGAIN (Thank you, Mr. Teacher). D remembered to take out the garbage last night. J is still working at the same job, finishing up his 5th year. Every child is a gift from God. Sometimes I forget that.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


It was not a good morning. Hope woke up miserable and went down hill from that. Nothing new- just a week's worth of aggravation in one morning and it took us 45 minutes to get dressed. We came downstairs and chocolate greeted me. Chocolate on the floor, on the counter, on the light switches... lots of chocolate. I was completely out of patience and ready to screech. Then it occurred to me that Hope was having an awful day, but she had been having it with me. Neither of the girls could have been responsible. I was sure it hadn't been there when I went to bed. Uhhm. MK came down with the baby and went ballistic. She was way ahead of me. She knew at first glance that it had been D. D had no idea why I was upset or why he had to clean it up. It made Hope's morning look not so bad. At least she is only 5.

Thankful November, Day 3

I am thankful for my husband and all the different kinds of support he provides. I can't imagine raising my crew without him. I do not know how single parents do it. I am grateful I don't have to find out.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thankful November, Day 2

Today GB starts play therapy with the same therapist as Hope. I am thankful for my health insurance, which makes therapy for the girls possible. Many people are not as fortunate and have to get by without health insurance or pay large amounts of money for it. I am blessed in that not only do we have health insurance, but we get to chose the providers we feel meet our needs and are not limited to those who the insurance company approves.

A New Week

Today was a long week. I received a note home that Hope was disrespectful to the adults in her class several times today. I tried to speak to Hope about it, and she refused to talk. When I wouldn't go away, she snapped at me, " I had a good day! See my prize!" and showed me a little top. I hate mixed messages. I am visiting her class tomorrow. She is not happy. Hope and I took GB to gymnastics tonight. GB went into her class and Hope wanted to watch. I saw her rubbing the chair she was sitting in and went over to check it out. She had a small bottle of hand sanitizer and was smearing it all over the chair. I took the bottle away from her and handed her a paper towel to clean it up. Hope told me I was a "stupid Mommy" and hit me. Not hard enough to hurt, just hard enough to make sure I reacted. I said "Time out" and she was gone. Her Dad carried her to the car and I took Hope home. While GB's Dad was buckling Hope in, GB noticed we were both gone and fell apart. My friend tried to reassure her that her Dad would be right back, but she was too far gone. GB's Dad went back inside and went into the gym to try and bring her back. He held her in his arms for several minutes before she came back enough to hear him. It was 15 minutes before she joined her class. When they got home, GB needed me to process her meltdown with her. She was willing to talk about feelings and told me that having Hope in the house made her worry we wouldn't love her anymore and when we were both not there the feeling took over. I am glad GB will have play therapy, the session after Hope's, starting tomorrow. I wish it wasn't an hour each way. My left hip isn't doing well and 2 hours of driving in one day is sure to set it off.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Thankful November

Sheri, over at Ain't That Sheriffic, started thankful November. I decided that is just what I need, so besides my usual blogging, I will include at least one thing I am thankful for each day in November. If you want to join us, there is a button to easily get you to Sheri's post right on my blog, under followers.

Today, day 1 of Thankful November, I am thankful that my 10 week old grandson had his well baby today. He is 15# 12oz, 27" long, and healthy as a horse. I would post a picture, but I haven't replaced my camera yet. I will.