Friday, September 30, 2011

The Dad Asked

Last night The Dad asked me to write a post like yesterday's post, except make it about Hope instead of GB. There have been some logistical issues. We have only had Hope for a little over a year. I don't know the real Hope. We haven't broken through the RAD yet. Hope is still physical whenever she rages. And she is still raging. My instant reset button is broken. I know a lot of you understand that.  I can't keep her safe without risking getting hurt- especially in public. I will not willingly take Hope some place public by myself because of that. So today's post won't be the same. It will be shadows of future possibilities.

Hope is an angry little girl. Given her background, it is unreasonable to expect anything else. I get 90% of her anger. Again, it is unreasonable to expect anything else. I do not always deal well with being the constant focus of her anger. The Dad wishes that were different. So do I. Right now it is not.

Hope is not FASD, ASD, Bipolar, or ADHD. She is broken. What happened to her with her first adoptive family broke the child God made. God gave us this child to help her become what he intended. She has music in her soul. She is never as happy as when dancing her ballet. She trusts no one- not even The Dad, although he gets more trust than anyone else. The fact that she does trust The Dad more than anyone else, gives me hope... the ability to trust has not been completely destroyed. Hope is so far behind because of the neglect she lived with- she is missing concepts such as first, last, yesterday, tomorrow. After a year of working on them, they are still not usable. Rhyming words and beginning sounds do not exist to Hope- yet she wants to read and takes every opportunity to "read" to me. A drive that strong comes from a survivor. Hope has cause and effect and the ability to think abstractly. She frequently chooses not to use them, but having them puts her so far ahead of most of our kids.

Part of me regrets adopting Hope. I am too old, Hope's needs are so different from GB's, it never stops. This part of me is real. There is another part of me that knows God meant Hope to be ours. God believes The Dad and I are the people Hope needs to heal. I have found that arguing with God is usually a waste of energy and time. I would rather put that energy into Hope. Hope can heal. I can help.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I have had children in my house for over thirty years. By society's judgement, each child was broken in some way. I never questioned that assumption. After all, I was very busy meeting the needs of these children and fighting schools, social groups, and neighbors, trying to make a place for them. When society's opinion was thrust into my consciousness, I would look at my kids and see why they were considered broken and then move on. There was 9 year old Ralph, who sat and talked to my car's headlights while he snacked on my flowers. There was 14 year old Vernon, who in anger set more than 30 fires in his home town before he came to me. There was a 5 year old who didn't know what a broom was and hadn't ever heard the word no. I was only mildly surprised when he tried to beat up his soccer team... the whole  team. I had children with TBI, schizophrenia,and trauma histories that were beyond anything I could comprehend. Yet these kids went to regular schools and were expected to meet ordinary expectations. It was inevitable that these children, and my others, were considered broken. Yet, even in the beginning, I was aware that "broken" was only part of it.

My kids made me laugh, could be kind, and were frequently creative. They found joy in the ordinary and let me come along for the ride. They had compassion for those weaker or more disadvantaged. Everyday traditions could make their eyes shine. This was my life for a long time. I stopped taking in kids in 2002. My kids were older, had graduated from high school and I enjoyed a year of a social life with friends whose children were also more grown up than not.

GB is my granddaughter. She went to the NICU directly from the birthing room. I took custody of her at two months and her parents were gone before she turned six months. GB didn't smile at all and missed her  early milestones. She  started EI at seven months. I didn't know what was wrong, although I knew there was a problem. Like all my earlier kids, society considered GB broken. But I was different, I had changed. At 11 months, I found out she was FAS. By the time she was four, I knew she was bipolar. At seven and a half, autistic was added. Each diagnosis felt like I had been blindsided. Intellectually, I understood them and knew they were right. Emotionally, I was equally sure there was nothing broken about this child.

It has taken a year of contemplation to come to term with these incompatible ideas. GB is not neuro-typical. She is also not broken. She is exactly what God made her to be. God knows her gifts and her challenges and has given me the honor of being her mom. I love her smile. I love watching her dance as she is carried away by the beat of music.I share her joy as her garden blooms with color.  I enjoy the pride she has in her cartwheels, in her ability to swim, and the food she cooks for us. I know it can take GB several minutes to be able to verbally express a thought. I see that she is able to relax and share real communication with only the few she trusts. I know that I have to check for minefields before I put her in any new situation. I am responsible for making sure she gets enough sleep and that she eats when she needs to. She can't tell me what hurts or why she can't cope. It is part of who she is.

GB is not broken. She is exactly the person God made her to be. She is my gift from Him.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Give a fish...

The attitude of entitlement has me pissed off big time. Quasi-adults- people between 26 and 39+- who think that they are entitled to have life's problems solved to their satisfaction by resources outside themselves. I think about when I was in my late twenties and early thirties. The people I knew would never publicly talk about having to exist on bread and water, much less post it on FB. Of course, their money wouldn't have been spent on cigarettes, grand lattes, and drugs... they would have fed their kids. Their money wouldn't have been spent on premium cable, high speed internet, or top-of-the-line data plans for their iphones, either. Their kids would have eaten. A television in every room (including kid's bedrooms) didn't even occur to them. How can you consider yourself independent when you are living off of public assistance, charity, and private bailouts?

Remember the saying "Give a fish, they eat for a day. Teach them to fish, they eat for a life time"? There is a lot of truth in there. The real question becomes "What do you do when they decide learning to fish is too much work?" I don't comprehend. It is like I don't speak the same language and there are no translators around. I find it mind boggling.

This is my rant and a regular post will return tomorrow. I will go back to speaking a language I do understand.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Tudu is back!

Tudu is one of my favorite bloggers. She had to shut down for awhile, but she is back. Check her out at Finishing off my family. There are days she keeps me going.

Hope's Class May Have a Real Therapist

Hope's class has a new therapist. Third one in the 13 months we have had Hope. I met with him. He seemed almost lost and definitely uncomfortable. I had just about given up when he brought up her diagnosis. It turns out the school has Hope's diagnosis down as an adjustment disorder. After observing Hope for several hours, in her class, over the course of a week, the therapist spent hours going through Hope's records. The poor therapist was struggling to find a diplomatic way to tell me my daughter had Reactive Attachment Disorder. After I stopped laughing, I gave him a short history. He was amazed she is doing so well after only being with us for a year.  I guess everything is relative.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hope's CSE

We had a CSE for Hope this morning. It was the first one for Hope without Mrs. V.S. Chairperson. Everybody was prepared with the materials needed. The speech therapist went over the speech eval done on Hope over the summer. She provided detailed information and well formulated goals for Hope's IEP. Hope teacher discussed where Hope was in the process of learning to read and said right now, Hope requires her one on one involvement to read. Nobody at the meeting seemed aware of district standards to be promoted to first grade. Mrs. Director will find out before we meet again.

I have 6 week programs reviews scheduled for both girls, back to back. I can't believe how smoothly this year is progressing. Not at all the black sinkhole of energy it was last year. Thank you, God! I really appreciate it!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

God Came Swimming

Hope and GB at the indoor pool

The Dad's attempt at letting yesterday be a new day for Hope didn't work.  She made it through dance, but didn't last the party. Fortunately, it was only twenty feet to get out of the building. The Dad has had high hopes for the progress he has seen (and hadn't physically seen a meltdown, since he is usually not here for them) and was very disillusioned about Hope's rage. MK took him to the movies last night, but it didn't help.

We woke up this morning and I couldn't stand dealing with the behavior and attitudes that would have to be dealt with at church. Everybody needed something different. So we all went swimming. When Hope asked why we weren't going to church, I told her we were bringing God swimming with us. The kids burnt off some energy, the adults relaxed a bit.

All swum out
We have Hope's first CSE of the year tomorrow and do not see the shrink for another three weeks. I hadn't thought the rages were gone, so I don't have as much to rethink. I decided some time ago that I would not be taking Hope out in public by myself and that is still true. The Dad has to figure out for himself what he thinks they can handle.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Good: It was school pictures yesterday and Hope held it together.

The Bad: As soon as I took her homework out of the book bag, the Hope I know so well was with me. Arms crossed, face set in a glare, and the traditional "You are being mean to me".

We took GB to her gymnastics class. GB had an outstanding 90 minute class. It was non-stop movement. Hope got no homework done. Afterwards, we met friends at Fri*ndly for dinner.

The Good: The Dad was there so I didn't have to deal with Hope's rage by myself.

The Ugly: Hope refused to eat, screamed, yelled I was hitting her (I wasn't) and that I never let her eat. I eventually figured out she was not going to stop (duh) and went to take Hope to the car. She immediately got physical. The Dad picked her up and carried her out. This particular Fri*ndly's is in a large mall. As the Dad carried her out, the manager of the restaurant stopped me to see if a coloring book or a balloon would help. By the time I got away from him, The Dad was 40 feet ahead of me. Hope was trying to bite and punch him, all the while yelling that he was hurting her. They received a mixed response; some people said it was good to see a parent that could do the tough things; other people said that poor child. We made it to the car without the police being called on us. I stayed in the car with a kicking, screaming Hope, while the Dad went back to the restaurant. I played 8 games of Word Warp on the ipad while Hope screamed. When the Dad was finished and brought GB back to the car, he was still shaken.

This morning it is like nothing happened. Hope is at her dancing lessons and I think the Dad is going to take her to a birthday party this afternoon. I, personally, don't plan on ever bringing her out in public again. The Papoose board is too heavy to carry around.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Held Hostage By A Cat

I have a beautiful, cameo cream Maine Coon cat. She has a lot of strange habits. She nibbles on my ear at night, makes nests out of blankets, and loves to pull the magnetic end of my MacBook charger off. The wire has been pretty beat up and finicky as to whether it will charge or not. I decided to use electrical tape to fix it. I carefully wrapped the electrical tape around the damaged part of the wire. Now my MacBook won't charge at all. I ordered a new charging unit. It was suppose to come yesterday. Last night I received an email from Apple saying it was delayed. No new date. My charge on my MacBook is almost gone. I guess I will have to be quiet until the cord comes.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Just Because...

Yesterday was my birthday. I want to get myself a Great White Pyrenees puppy as a birthday gift. They are beautiful, gentle dogs and extremely loyal. The are also easy to train  and because of their size, about 120#, people find them intimidating. I have a big, old farm house so I have plenty of room for him.

Of course, with five special needs kids/adults, a baby, a service dog, two Maine Coon cats, and my health, everybody I have seen this past weekend, who asked what I wanted for my birthday, has looked at me like I was nuts when they heard my answer. I understand their reaction. It doesn't make sense. It is a crazy idea.

I am not sure where the idea came from and I probably won't act on it. It is possible that the fact a Great White Pyrenees puppy makes no sense in my current life and would be utterly selfish is one of the reasons the idea is still hanging around. Sometimes, it would be nice to have something just because I want it and say "oh well" to everything else.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

54 Today!

Five years ago today, I turned 49. I received all the usual calls from family and friends. The last call, shortly after GB was in bed, was from my father. He wished me a Happy Birthday and made lots of small talk. I was on the phone with him for a long time, which was unusual. Just as we were saying our goodbyes, I heard "I love you". We hung up. I cried.

In 49 years, that was the first time I remember my father saying "I love you". It was the only memory I have of him saying  "I love you". He didn't live to see me turn 50.

Friday, September 16, 2011

GB's Favorite Cousin

GB's favorite cousin is 17 year old Danae. So far, they have cooked, ran, played cards, watched "Prom", did arts and crafts, went for ice cream, shopped for my birthday present, and played dressed up. GB sleeps in Danae's room, goes to bed when Danae goes to bed, and wakes up when Danae wakes up. While Danae does her college work, GB reads her chapter book to me. Tonight is out to dinner. Tomorrow is soccer. Tomorrow night we have to leave.

The girls have always been close, despite the age difference. Getting Danae all to herself is GB's idea of heaven on Earth.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

You Can't Catch Me!

You can't catch me- nobody can. I took GB and ran away from home. We are spending three days at my sister's in NC. I decided we both needed a break, took her out of school, and went. Education still happened, though. Our plane stopped in the middle of a runway at RDU airport. Twenty minutes later GB got to see Air Force One land and taxi right past us. She was thrilled.

She is relaxed and happy with her cousins and I am happy to be spending time with my sister. We needed this.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Hope's Rages

Hope has not raged since I dragged the papoose board out. The next morning I told Hope I would not be restraining her any more. I told her if she tried to hurt herself or anyone else, I would just get the papoose board out and we would use it to keep everybody safe.

Hope has not had a good day since. Interestingly enough, she also hasn't raged. She has been openly defiant, cries frequently, and yells and threatens on a regular basis. The "poor me"s are running rampant. She has not crossed the line to a rage. Obviously, she has more control than I thought.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

When Do You Start To Worry?

Hope is repeating kindergarten this year. Yesterday, she brought home her "reading" bag. In it was a reading log, ten flash cards on a ring, and two first sight word books. I recognized the books from when GB was learning to read. After Hope had completed her math hw and GB was done with her hw, Hope and I sat down with her "reading" bag. It came with directions. Hope was to read the books to me and review the flash cards, then log the time spent. Each Friday, Hope will get tested on the flash cards. If she knows them all, she gets a sticker. Eight stickers mean an ice cream treat.

Hope does not know what a word is yet. When she "read" the books, she made stories about the pictures. Long, involved stories that clearly had more words in them than the four words on the page. Using our pointer fingers, I tried to get Hope to read one word at a time. I will try again tonight. We practiced with the flash cards. She knew one of the words was "can" and that is what she read for each word. We practiced identifying the first letter of a word and the sound it makes. Hope could do that more than half the time. What she couldn't do is use that to think of words it might be. For example, she had the word "ran". She identified the first letter as "r" and knew what sound it made. She did the same thing with the "a" and the "n". Then she used the picture in the book and read the word as "hop", "jump", and "fly".

Hope is already in a 1:8:3 class. She went to Extended Year Program. This is her second time through kindergarten. When is it appropriate to be worried?

Monday, September 12, 2011

Finally! GB's CSE

The RTI Model

Today, at 9 am, we finally had GB's CSE. We added an extra individual counseling without any disagreement. Then we tackled the meeting of social needs and the reading gaps left by the disastrous year in first grade. The elementary school GB attends uses RTI (response to intervention) to determine whether a child is learning disabled. It is now mandated to be one of the approaches a school in NY uses to classify a student as learning disabled. I know quite a bit about RTI because I worked closely with on of its originators, Frank Vellutino, PhD, during my doctoral program.

The theory is that a lot of students struggling to read are struggling because they have not been exposed to high quality teaching using empirically proven teaching methods. It is a three tier system. Tier one is for all students, making sure that their teachers are correctly using proven learning to read programs. GB's first grade teacher was not. Once the teachers are doing this, all students are given diagnostic testing which not only pinpoints which students are not mastering the material, but also which parts of the reading process they are struggling with. These students are placed in tier 2 interventions.

Tier 2 interventions are administered by specially trained reading instructors and take place in small groups of 3 to  5 students, who are reading on the same level and struggling with the same parts of the reading process. Most students spend 6 to 24 months in Tier 2 interventions, after which they are reading at or above grade level. Students who do not respond to Tier 2 interventions are moved to Tier 3. Tier 3 interventions are both more frequent and highly individual. Children needing Tier 3 interventions usually end up classified as Learning Disabled and continue to receive highly individualized instruction.

GB will be given the diagnostic testing this week and will be placed in a small group, which meets everyday, for reading instruction. Depending on the results of the diagnostic testing, she will be placed with  2nd and third graders who are functioning socially at an age appropriate level.

We will have a program review in the end of October to monitor if what we are doing is meeting her needs. I should have the testing results by the end of the week.

We also discussed changing GB's classification. Right now, she is classified as OHI (Other Health Impaired). She will probably be reclassified as autistic, since the older she gets, the more the autism seems to dominate. Classifying her autistic also gives us access to the broadest range of services.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

A Success For GB!

GB has enjoyed gymnastics at The Little Gym since she was two. The Little Gym has been good with her. They always put her in a small class. All their classes are held one at a time, so there is nothing to distract her and the parents viewing area is completely glassed off from the room the kids learn in. They waited patiently for GB to be able to stand in line. In the beginning, GB could only manage 5 minutes doing what the class was doing. By kindergarten, she was on target more than half the time.  During these years, GB learned a lot of gymnastics. She had several NT friends that enjoyed the same classes she did. Last spring, GB started getting bored. Her instructors suggested she move up to the pre-team  class. It was the highest level of gymnastics they taught and it was by invitation only. It was a 90 minute class instead of a sixty minute class and none of GB's friends were invited.

GB and I were both apprehensive. GB didn't like not knowing anybody in the class. I was worried about the length of the class and how seriously the girls in the class took gymnastics. Ultimately, with some encouragement from a friend, I decided to go for it. GB still wasn't sure. I bought her a new biketard and assured her the class would be fun. She agreed to try it.

The first class was yesterday. GB beamed through all 90 minutes of it and made a new friend. Most of the girls were on the same level as her and when the instructors started them on new skills, GB gave them her best shot and didn't worry when she didn't instantly master them. I think it is going to be a good experience for her.

Friday, September 9, 2011

A Phone Call From GB's Birth Mother

Today, I received a phone call from GB's birth mother. First phone call in over 4 years. She didn't ask how GB was, didn't even want to talk to GB. She called because her 5 year old, who attended special ed preschool, hasn't started kindergarten yet. The school district told her they couldn't schedule a CSE meeting for him until the spring. She wants me to be their educational advocate. We spoke for almost twenty minutes and she never mentioned GB. I told her I would consider it and get back to her. It was the strangest phone call...

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Forced Patience

I received a call from the Director of Special Education late yesterday afternoon. Due to more flooding, schools will closed today and tomorrow. GB's CSE meeting is 9 AM Monday. So I will take my patience panties out and wait. On the brighter side, I now have four extra days to come up with my list of things I want for GB.

My mother always said patience was something you develop. The older I get, the less I seem to have. Oh well.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Patience, my A&&

The Director of Special Education was suppose to call me yesterday to set up a CSE on GB THIS week. She didn't. I stopped by her office and called three times... nothing. This morning, I called the office and refused to take no for an answer. The secretary finally came back and said the Director said GB would have the same placement, a new reading program and it was unnecessary for the CSE to meet. The secretary said if I disagreed, I should leave a voice mail with Mrs. Very Stupid Chairperson.  My concerns had N.O.T.H.I.N.G to do with reading. I told the secretary I want a CSE meeting THIS week, with the Director as the Chairperson. It is already Wednesday, but that is not my problem. Two days into the school year, and my blood pressure is sky high.

I hear my mother's voice , echoing in my head, "Patience is a virtue". Patience, my A&&, I am going to kill somebody. Sigh. Or at least spend lots of money hiring a lawyer again. It shouldn't be this hard.

New posts on old blog.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

First Day of School

Hope and GB were up early for the bus this morning, both excited school was starting. Hope was a little grumpy, as she took a long time to fall asleep last night. We had no meltdowns, which is a good start to the year. I spent two hours at the school, as GB still does not have a placement. For now, I am keeping her in last years class. The Director of Special Ed thinks that both I and the teacher will forget about the debacle at the end of the summer. She is mistaken. Irene may have sidetracked me, but the appropriate school placement is critical. And by the end of the week, I will have one.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Blogs For a Cause

I love my blogs new look! I wanted to support the Orlando Scholarship Fund's auction. Since Corey had put so much work into it, I could at least be a supporter. That I also believe in the cause didn't hurt either. One of the items I bid on (and won) was a blog update. I am older than most of the Trauma Mamas and did not grow up in the age of technology. Using a blogger template, I can make and maintain a basic blog set up, but most of the neat things I saw on the blogs I follow are beyond my abilities and knowledge. Nikki, at Blogs For A Cause, generously donated a blog make over to the auction. I kept my same layout, picked out a digital scrap booking set (the one I chose was free) and sent her some pictures for the header. I only started sending Nikki information 2 days ago. Within 24 hours, she had sent me a link for her first try. I asked her to change the picture of GB in the header. She took the picture I sent her, flipped it so GB faced the other way and I now have an updated blog that I am thrilled with.

A basic blog update like mine costs $30.00, which I thought was a bargain. But  Blogs For A Cause is more than quality work for a good price. All monies made are used to support endeavors educating children in poverty stricken countries around the world and other charities. Nikki, who does the actual work, has a blog at She does an excellent job of sharing what her Blogs For A Cause earnings accomplish. I love to support people who have a passion for making the world a better place. If any of you are looking for a blog update, I would appreciate it if you would check out her website. I know there were a couple of people bidding against me :)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Laughing Is Always Better

I have been reading up on Borderline Personality Disorder. It is one of the common conditions that an unhealed RADish ends up with as a diagnosis. I just started my third book this week. It is different than the first two I read because it is not written by a professional. It is written by a man who is married to a women with Borderline Personality Disorder, from the perspective of how to survive and not buy in to the persons problems.  The name of it is When Hope Is Not Enough. I started reading about Borderline Personality Disorder because I was looking for new ways to relate with my oldest daughter. It is an interesting book. Last night, after the girls were in bed, I picked up the book to read until I could sleep. The title had slipped my mind- I just remembered that it had a green cover. When I noticed the title I started laughing. Hope is ALWAYS enough. Better laughing than crying.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Famous Last Words.

It is day four  of the Dad's trip to Michigan. Hope isn't doing a whole lot better today, but I am. So far, at least. Yesterday, her whiny cry hit me like nails on a blackboard. Today, I am ignoring it with little effort. We were going to go shopping for first day of school dresses today, but I chose not to. This started GB whining, but I am not responding to her whining either. I know school starting on Tuesday is contributing to the girls' instability. The Dad comes home tomorrow night. Until then, I am trying to keep everything low key. Hope still needs to stay in line of sight and is very unhappy about the restriction. She has been forcing herself to cry for the last 45 minutes- but every couple of minutes, she forgets she is crying and has to start over again. She hasn't hit me today, so I think today has to count as a better day.

Famous last words. As Hope was crying and I was typing, she asked to color. I told her when she was done crying, we would talk about it. She instantly started raging. For almost an hour, she attacked me. I am bruised, welted and bloody. I finally gave up trying to restrain her and got out the Papoose board. At the sight of it she stopped raging. Just like that. If I didn't see it, I wouldn't have believed it.

Maybe it was the blog jinx - before I even posted?

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I am on day # 3 of the Dad in Michigan. So far, Hope has thrown her cereal (with bowl and milk), got a comb stuck in her dreads, smashed the plastic fruit from the play kitchen, tried to write GB's name on the wall with a crayon, tried to initiate inappropriate play with GB, and left me with bruises. It still morning and Hope is on her mat. It is going to be a loooooong day :(