I am answering the questions you posted here. Feel free to keep asking, I am more than happy to answer publicly or privately.
Nannyogg, welcome and thanks for delurking.
Me, our house has 6 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. Our kitchen is the tiniest one I have ever been forced to cook in so we turned the dining room into a huge pantry by adding Rubbermaid shelves on 3 of the walls. Our formal LR is their playroom and we use our Den for our sofas and TV. It's a huge room and they love to sprawl out on the floor to watch movies on Friday nights. I think the total square footage is around 3200. The yard is what drew us here, we are on 5 acres that are about 1/3 open field, 1/3 w/o brush and ancient oak trees that the kids love to run around, and 1/3 deep woods that they hide in.
Alyssa's Mom, it is a toss up between Patches and Michael. Michael is no longer ripping his clothes off, attacking me, or wetting himself. He talks about his feelings and can remember a few names of people outside the house. He has all but stopped destroying things that are his. I think discovering and stopping his abuse by Cyr, locking up his parents, and starting Risperdal all helped tremendously. We spent a lot of time hugging in a restraint, I would talk softly and reassure him that he couldn't stop me from loving him and he was safe.
Patches was scary on paper, we almost reconsidered the group b/c she was so severe. Her anger just oozed from her at all times. She wouldn't smile or have her picture taken. She spent most of her time with her head down hating every one but especially me. She made sure I knew she wasn't going to accept me as her mother b/c she had one. I think it changed when she and I had a huge fight one afternoon on the stairs, I cried and that really got to her. I think I was finally able to explain I wasn't in competition with her mother, she could love us both and I explained how our roles were different. She began Prozac soon after and we realized a lot of her issues with school and people was social anxiety. She stopped pulling her hair out and hurting herself when she began Risperdal. It was weird watching her anger just disappear. We now have several pictures with her smiling and her rages have nearly disappeared until her recent med changes. The day we adopted her she announced she no longer wanted to see or accept her parents. It was like she closed a door, we are confident she had hung on to them b/c she was so afraid she would have to go back again. She was their loudest defender until she was done and now she rarely has a nice thing to say about them. She feels safe here and she accepts us fully as her parents. She is very proud of herself and wants to behave properly, that is what drives her to act normal. She needs to be reminded about how she used to act so she can see the difference and be sure we see it, too.
r, my DH had his brain injuries in 1997 and 1999. They were devastating for both of us. They changed him, his personality was more uptight and he was easily angered. He became volatile at times when he was frustrated. I am not sure how we survived the second one and if he hadn't been so needy, I don't think we would have made it. His short term memory is so much better than it used to be but he is still very dependent on me for things. He must talk to me MANY times a day on the phone and that can be a bit annoying but he freaks out when I am not available so it is necessary. He has his sense of humor back and that helps a lot. I think what was the hardest part was his poor choices during the second year after his second head injury. He was so out of whack he couldn't think straight and he did some things that nearly destroyed us. He is not that person anymore, thank goodness. I won't go into what those bad choices were b/c he would never consider doing those things now or before the accident. All his doctors told us that is is common for people in his condition to change personalities and do things that are not normal for them. I am so happy he worked through that. If I minimize things it is only b/c it is hard to remember those times. Life was hard.
Anonymous, try this. https://www.google.com/accounts/NewAccount Let me know if you still can't figure it out.
Maia, we are boring. This weekend I have spent it on my rear end watching Rosa unpack. The kids have been living outside. They beg to eat out on the picnic tables, ride their bikes, and run through the woods. They come in at dark and shower b/c they are out of school until tomororrow. They have been camping out in the girls' room in sleeping bags so they can watch Disney. I can hear them giggle until midnight. It so wonderful to be able to allow them to do that and not worry about inappropriate touching. Cyr is excluded most of the time, at her age, she doesn't care. If I do allow her to sleep in there she must sleep on a bed with Patches on the floor next to that bed. Patches is a light sleeper and has vowed to protect the other kids from every one including her sister. The triple bunk that I put Cyr on is so low that she can't sneak off the bed or over Patches. While I don't trust Cyr, I am confident the other kids have enough power now that they wouldn't let her get away with anything. No one here is afraid of her anymore, they stand up to her easily.
On school days, we get up around 6:15 so they can get on the bus at 6:55. They love to eat breakfast at school with their friends so that helps. We no longer have any real morning issues so they can actually get out the door in 10 minutes if they have to. We set out their clothes at night and unless there is an emergency they can not change their outfit. They take turns in the bathroom, a few get right in while the others get on their shoes and socks and then trade places. I check each child personally before they step out the door.
After school, they get home around 3 PM and I have their snack ready for them. I ask a million questions trying to hear about their day while they beg to go outside. I rotate a kid or two inside with me helping with laundry or snuggling. It is hard to get one on one so I have to force them to hang with me a few minutes every day.
They have one chore a week, it is the kitchen. On that day, they help me with dinner as a reward for doing the dishes. They open cans or stir the pot. Every one sits together on our very long picnic table in the kitchen at 6PM. They tease me about never sitting b/c I stand and eat while walking back and forth getting more food for them. We talk about everything at dinner and do a lot of laughing. We are still working on our manners so that is a topic we hear about every night among other things that would make most "normal" families cringe. It is not uncommon for them to talk about their abuse during dinner. I am not sure why but they feel safe at dinner.
Homework and showers are started the minute everyone clears the table. We send them up 2 at a time and the rest get their book bags and sit down at the table to begin. The littles can shower together but Cyr must have the door shut and be alone upstairs to shower. This is the time Michael starts to tell me he doesn't have homework and when I prove him wrong he shuts down and starts kicking the floor. I spend most of the time just being available if they need me. They prefer to have a sibling help them with their homework. If I try to help, it turns into a power struggle so I back off. I make them answer the question with my assistance, they are quite lazy and their sibling is likely to give them the answer instead. If I have trouble with a kid and homework they have to do it at recess and the next day they do it right after school instead of playing outside to be sure they have enough time. I sign all their stuff during this time and if they forget or refuse they don't have another chance. It takes about an hour to get all that done.
We spend the rest of the evening talking, laughing, playing together. They get their meds about 8:25 and head up to bed 8:30 sharp and are forced to read for 30 minutes. Emma reads out loud a great deal of the time to the other kids b/c she is such a great reader and enjoys it so much. Our bedtime routine is very simple, during their time to read I pick out their outfits for the next day and give kisses. They are so agitated at bedtime that we have to preoccupy them with reading and questions about their outfits for the next day. I give each child a kiss and the standard "I love you". Much more than that and they start freaking out. I had dreams of singing songs and snuggles but they just can't do it in their rooms. The girls love having so many in one room, it makes them feel safe. My son is asleep within seconds while Cyr reads quietly for a bit longer than the little girls. They do not get out of bed once they are in there. They do not ask for help in the night yet either. Night time is still scary for them.
Innocent Observer, I say a lot of things in my head. I even take a moment to play out my little fantasy of beating the turd. This can help me see the error of my fantasy and the prison I would certainly deserve to be in afterward. I can then think more clearly and address it w/o so much emotion. I try to get them to laugh or smile when they are in a really bad place. They couldn't do that before but now it seems to break the ice and they are instantly able to listen to reason.
I would love to escape to Maine but it probably won't happen anytime soon.
It is not that hard having another family unit in the house. I make it clear they must go by our general rules. Both Frankee and Rosa lived with me as a child so they are not surprised at how I parent. I refer their children to them unless they are busy or unavailable. Their children generally fall into place, it is easier to for them to follow a group of children than to listen to an adult. The only real issue I remember with Frankee and Shyanne was that she was sneaking her food between meals. Shyanne was very over weight and Frankee used food to bond with her. It was completely unhealthy. I am sure Rosa will find new and more interesting ways to add to the chaos. LOL I am kidding, she is more laid back and wants to fix her kids issues. She will follow my lead unless it feels really wrong for her child. She is not a drug addict or a drinker, she has no social life, and she spends all her time trying to parent or work. I am sure things will go much more smoothly with her.
My dream vacation was at Disney. It would include my kids and lots of fun. I would love to take them to the beach and we will as soon as my DH is able to work more steadily.
Recipe? I love to make Pumpkin Trifle with the kids on Thanksgiving and Christmas. It is easy and they get such a kick out of licking the bowls. I double the recipe and substitute the whipped topping with homemade whipped cream.
* 2 (14-ounce) packages gingerbread mix
* 1 (5.1-ounce) box cook-and-serve vanilla pudding mix
* 1 (30-ounce) can pumpkin pie filling
* 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
* 1/3 teaspoon ground cardamom or cinnamon
* 1 (12-ounce) container frozen whipped topping ****
* 1/2 cup gingersnaps, optional
Bake the gingerbread according to the package directions; cool completely. Meanwhile, prepare the pudding and set aside to cool. Stir the pumpkin pie filling, sugar, and cardamom into the pudding. Crumble 1 batch of gingerbread into the bottom of a large, pretty bowl. Pour 1/2 of the pudding mixture over the gingerbread, then add a layer of whipped topping. Repeat with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped topping. Sprinkle of the top with crushed gingersnaps, if desired. Refrigerate overnight. Trifle can be layered in a punch bowl.
****I use 2 32oz heavy cream containers and whip it until it starts to get thick. I add powdered sugar until it is sweet. I think it is 2 cups but don't hold me to it just keep tasting it. A dash of real vanilla and whip until it looks like whip cream. Mmmmmmm! There is enough for the kids to lick the bowl and actually get some. It is good enough to eat by the spoonful.
Kath, I got yours and will email you privately.