Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Come See What I've Been Up To

I get emails and messages from you all some times wondering where I have gone to. I'm not blogging very often there but I have started a nonprofit organization that specializes in supporting families with traumatized children. It includes online support groups for siblings, moms, dads, and a retreat that was already known as the Orlando Mom's Retreat started by Corey Waters. We do have some spots left for that if you are interested. We regularly have guests post on our blog and are always looking for new ones. I would love to reconnect with you all over there.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Yes, Of Course, Absolutely

When my sibling group of six moved in 7 years ago, I devoured any and all books about trauma, attachment, and adoption I could find. I had thought I was prepared from my experience being a live in houseparent for teen girls and working in a residential facility for children with predatory behaviors. I was no where near prepared for the level of defiance, aggression, peeing, sexual acting out, and violence that was now my every hour of every day life. I quickly found that not all the wisdom I was reading would work for us. I began to pick things from each of the books and come up with my own thing. In other words, I have no idea where I got this from or if I am a genius like the Moms say. Don't burst my bubble, I'm going with the genius thing.

One of the many things that became apparent with the kids besides their inability to trust anyone, their need to destroy anything of value, and the clear need for boundaries, was that they would lose their crap when I would tell them “No”. Being frustrated and completely, thoroughly exhausted, I had a hard time saying “Yes” about anything. I wanted to scream “No” at the simplest requests. That began the cycle of “No” (me), giant tantrum of destruction (them), sobbing (mostly me), and then the “I Hate You” (always them). That and the year long lice infestation, we were struggling.

I don't remember exactly how or when it came about but I made a conscience effort to stop saying “No”. I was determined to find a way to say “Yes” to everything. Surprisingly, it wasn't that hard. I found they were much more willing to do the things I needed them to do if I was agreeing with them. They also were beginning to like me, just a little. While I am aware that is not a part of parenthood, try being hated, truly and deeply by the children you are willing to sacrifice your sanity for. This was a perk that made life worth living. I began to feel like we were going to make it.

I'm sure you're thinking, good parents can't just agree to everything. You are right. I always add my own spin to the request. “Yes, of course, absolutely you can watch TV as soon as your chore is done.” We both win. It works for all sorts of things. It is simple but it works, even for my kids with extreme control issues.

Before I knew it, I was agreeing to all sorts of things. Staying up 30 more minutes, wearing shoes without socks, and even having dessert before dinner and no one was getting hurt. I was stopping to think about why I wanted to say “No” to something and figure out a way to say “Yes”. Who is it going to hurt if they draw with chalk on the porch? It can be washed off. Why not eat all the Halloween candy in one day? Sick for one instead of two. Can't every mom use a makeover from their 5 yr old and have pictures to prove it? I began to relax my expectations and they began having fun.

I decided to give them choices when I needed them to do something. The worst thing first (to catch them off guard) and the thing I want last (my kids always pick the last option regardless of what it is because they can't remember the other options). “Would you please clean the entire kitchen or would you rather just unload the dishes?” or “I need someone to clean up all the dog poop in the yard or scrub the toilets, which do you want to do?” When mine started to catch on, they were healthier so now I make it more of a joke. Instead of cleaning up the dog poop, I can tell them to clean up squirrel poop. I have only had one kid spend an afternoon looking for squirrel poop. I was more than happy to scrub the toilet that day for them while they looked and looked. I needed a place to regroup so I could keep a straight face anyway.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Sharing My Secret to Survival

There are a few openings for our yearly trauma mama retreat in Orlando this year. I would love to see a few of you there. I'm happy to answer any questions about it but I can promise you it will be life changing. It has been for all of us. It's getting close so don't wait. You can check out the blog about it here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

I haven't forgotten about you

Patches was discharged from RTC last Friday and is doing very well. She has been trying to help Kiki learn some control over her emotions. Even writing that makes me giggle a little. Who would have thought? Patches and I had a moment at the beginning of summer that we both decided to learn from. We had reached the end of line for her violence and threats. I am so proud of her for choosing to be an active part of our family. She smiles, giggles, and tries so hard to do her share even when her brain is telling her I'm trying to ruin her life.

Michael is coming for a day visit Sunday. First one since February. We are all excited and nervous. I'd love to say he is progressing but the fact is, he is the same. It is beginning to look like life will be very difficult for him. We have chosen to fight for him to remain a part of our family even though no one is sure he will ever be safe enough to live at home.

Ruthie has a boyfriend. She is a hormonal mess. She is a mouthy teenager some days but still complies with me while yelling at me. It is too hard not to laugh and that is not helping.

Cyr is doing virtual school and helping with my MIL. My MIL has taken a turn for the worse and needs round the clock care. Cyr loves going to help her a few days a week. I don't know of many 16 year olds that could or would be willing to help like this. I am so proud that even thinking about it, I tear up.

Emma's Mom is staying with us until Christmas. Emma is thrilled. She also is obsessed with One Direction. It is annoying. She took up the clarinet and loves it. It sounds great from about a mile away.

Ella and Ava were placed in the same 5th grade class. They are starting to blossom at school socially. It's very sweet. Watch out boys, these 2 are gorgeous and if they ever work up the courage to talk back to you, you will fall in love. They are both so sweet and caring little girls.

Can't forget Kiki. She is still a hot mess. We couldn't love this more. I believe she saved Patches. She is the only real connection she has been able to develop. She loves that child and Kiki adores her. We have a lot going on with her lately. She met her first father a few weeks ago. When we first told her about him, she asked how come he didn't know about her until now. Then she answered, "aww. It's probably because he isn't smart like me." He has turned out to be a really nice guy. He told his parents that he discovered true love after his first visit with her. His parents are smitten, too. She is an emotional roller coaster but the best snuggler ever.

I'm nearly finished with my holiday shopping. I am so glad about that. I did it all online. What did we do before the internet?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Home Visits

Life is quiet here. Patches and Michael are both living in different facilities. We are waiting for Michael to be moved to the one Patches is in. Patches has already begun weekend visits home because she shows absolutely no signs of anything. She is perfect. She happily cleans, reads, showers, and participates in therapy. They know she has issues. They have seen her interact with me on video and were shocked she was so hostile. She is honest with them about her behaviors at home, too, and that helps. They were able to see how much work it is for me to help her maintain her deep anger towards me. It is work for me because she makes no effort. I had to dance and distract constantly.

Right before she entered the RTC, she began an anti-depressant called Celexa. We have tried others in the past and didn't see much difference. We were more focused on her psychotic symptoms, at the time. Now her symptoms are under control and the biggest issue is her aggressive, homicidal crap that she focuses on me. Anyway, new med took a few weeks but we are seeing a huge difference. It seems a lot of her anger may have been coming from anxiety. We have always worked on naming their feelings and she could only name sad, happy, and mad. Turns out, she was nervous, too. Once the anxiety was calmed, she is able to think through, with help, situations when other big emotions happen. Twice last weekend, she was able to take criticism from me and respond like most people do. You know, without having an urge to kill their mom. LOL She approached me several times for hugs, too. She admitted she just wanted to hug me. That NEVER happens.

School starts here on the first. Yes, you read that right. We start Wednesday. Kids are thrilled and so am I. Cyr will be doing online high school at home for 10th grade. Patches is entering 9th grade, Ruthie 8th, Emma 6th, Michael 6th and Ella and Ava 5th. Kiki is finally old enough to enter Pre K but we were unable to get her enrolled here because we thought we'd be moved before school started. She will go into a program as soon as we move. She is writing her name already and insists she is ready. I know I am.

We are still waiting on the IRS to give us our money. I swear, they are the slowest of slow. They agree we are owed yet still "resequencing" our file. I'm irritated but there is nothing we can do. This could go on forever. (It better not bc I have big plans to go visit my stalker in NY in a couple weeks!) I think we have decided to buy our home "off the courthouse steps". It's so much cheaper but requires so much more work upfront. It's a risk I think we can manage. I have been learning how to do title searches so we won't have that financial burden/risk.

(On a side note, Patches is reading to Kiki! No one asked her to and usually this is a HUGE trigger for her. Watch out folks, the sky is falling!)

Thursday, June 07, 2012

The Waiting Game

Why is she still mad at me when I gave her what she asked for? I can not win. She refuses to be happy. She refuses to believe I have her best interest at heart. She refuses to accept me as her mother. She refuses to accept her birth siblings as family so I know it isn't me. All of my other children, issues or not, know I will love them and protect them no matter my personal cost. She "loves her school psychologist" and says she is the only safe person except my hubby. I show her more kindness, patience, and understanding than both combined. I am still shit. I wish I could count the days until she is in RTC but we still don't have a date. My girls need a break from her constant chaos. I doubt they will miss her and then I will have to convince them to try again when she is released. I think I need to consider having a stiff drink.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Happy Birthday, Son!

Today my son turned 12. I remember sharing his 6th birthday with him shortly after he became a part of my family. The difference in him is nothing short of amazing yet he still isn't safe enough to live at home with us. We went up to the RTC to visit him today. We brought cupcakes and wrestler figurines for him. We stayed an hour and left. He is always sweet but couldn't care less when we leave. He says bye but never looks back. He is more interested in the things we bring.

The RN I signed him out with praised me for being such an amazing and accepting mom. I didn't know what to say since I haven't seen her before. I had no idea what she was talking about. She clarified when she saw how confused I was. She told me we have spoken on the phone many times. She is the one that calls after my son has been injured or had a violent episode. Remembering some of our brief conversations, I smiled. She went on to explain that most families are defensive and nasty to her, some even blame the RTC for the events. She said it is so nice to call and be thanked for trying so hard. She said my son has spoken many times about how I love him no matter what choices he makes and I am the only one that can really keep him safe. She said he told her he knows he can't love right but he has the right mom bc I love him him enough for both of us. I almost cried. He does hear me. It is so hard to tell sometimes but now I know.

We had some big emotions around here after the visit. I had stepped out to get TP and had to come running back to help the hubby. I got the kiddo to take her night meds and do some breathing w me. She regained control after a bit and the day is winding down.

I can hear 4 or 5 of my girls having a burping contest in their room. Life is good.