Friday, December 16, 2011
Okay, we're much more comfortable with the idea of the fat man in the red suit now.
Hannah's first Santa pic. Six months old. It took two failed matches with birthparents before the just right, perfect for us and who we were perfect for child came into our family. Ummm, no.....I don't want to sit in the man's lap. Stranger danger! Stranger danger! Not much better this year even if Mama comes into the picture. Santa was ready though. Those are THE famous magic red jumping shoes. Surprised she didn't jump right out of the shot. Alex was home about a week before he got to meet the fat man for the first time. Hannah, an old pro. (By this time she'd already told me,"Mama, I don't need a baby brother any more...you can send him back now.") Boy, she must have had some kind of crystal ball about our future. Yes, he was already raging, just in Russian.
When Alex came home for Thanksgiving, as it was his first time in our home (we'd moved a few months after he left) and our daughter Hannah was adamantly opposed to staying home, she stayed at her big sister's house all the nights he was here. All four nights, I slept in Hannah's room to be near in case Alex got up, needed help or God forbid, went near the dogs. (History of animal cruelty, especially to the bigger dog,Sam, a rescue.) I was now the one who was hypervigilant. PTSD, I'd like to smack YOU upside the head!
This time, Hannah is going to stay here for part of the visits (there will be two, I have to drive him back in the middle as six nights is the max) and stay at Heather's for part. Which, she'd stay there anyway for part of her school break....so grateful that even though there's almost seventeen years between them, they are so very close! She has agreed to think about going shopping with Alex, Heather and I so I count that as baby steps of progress.
Christmas always leads to reflecting for me. Getting out all of the decorations after being packed away for almost eleven months is rediscovering treasures and with those come memories of better times. So, I'm throwing up old Christmas pics when the kids were little. Some sweet, some funny, and some very poignant.
Sunday, November 27, 2011
The day to day things that you miss when your child is not living at home but at a facility. Going in and waking him up, seeing all the places at the table taken, watching him play with the dogs. Just little things. And, the little things that grate on your nerves because he's been gone for over two years....the continual changing of the car radio (THAT stopped pretty darn quickly though) the endless chatter and the manipulating or attempt to. All in all though, a really good visit. Even had all three of my Earth kids (one daughter is in Heaven and I feel like a liar if I said all three of my kids...I have four,truly) working on decorating the Christmas tree. True, the youngest daughter and the boy did not interact but as he said,"You know, she didn't get up and leave when I was near her." It's progress, tiny steps, and I'll take them.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
...in his OWN bed! For the first time in two years, two months and twenty-one days (not that I'm counting) he slept in his own bed! I think it's appropriate for us that November is National Adoption Month in that our son has had two firsts: first time sleeping in a non- psych hospital/juvenile detention/residential treatment bed and first time back at home. I know these three days will fly, one already has but I intend to soak in as much of the goodness about this visit as I can.
Going today to see Joe's side of the family for Thanksgiving. They have all been pretty supportive of us as our family has gone down this roller coaster experience. I did add to the fb family group that I'd appreciate if those with children (meaning my sister in law with seven kids, homeschooled all...............I would have committed harikari, who oddly enough, people hesitate to have stay at their house because they lack social graces and destroy property...but, I digress) would prep them to come to Joe or myself if they have questions as to where Alex has been for the last two years rather than go to him. He's anxiously waiting to see them and anxious about seeing them. I get it. (Not a homeschool or unschool basher.....works for many people, just this one that thinks social skills are not important.)
Sunday, November 20, 2011
I was privileged to be asked to review Carolyn's book on my blog. Wow, me, little ol' me, I feel like Sally Field did getting her award! Someone thinks I have something of value to offer! I was thrilled to say the least.
I received the book in the mail yesterday and after getting over my insane jealous feeling that this lady lives in California and I live in Texas, I ripped open the envelope and jumped in. Wow, oh my freaking, crap on a cracker, wow. This book has slightly over three hundred pages and I read it in about six hours. Riveting. Painful, funny, sad and inspiring, all rolled up in one.
That precious face you see on the cover? That is Abel...right after his first really big, "Hey, let me let you know the honeymoon is sure as shoot over, meltdown." I looked at his angelic face and thought of what I'd just read. Just kept flipping back to the cover and thinking,"How could they?!"
If you are parenting a child of trauma, be ready to have many ahha moments where you will be remembering your experiences while reading about theirs. There were so many parallels to our own son's behaviors and our family's experiences. The thing that was most helpful to me is reading that parts where mental health professionals treated Carolyn with kindness, consideration and respect and like they knew she wasn't crazy, permissive, lazy, etc. but was doing all she could possibly do. Validation, we so need that.
If you are considering foster parenting, this should be a primer for you. If you can read this book and say, "Wow, that really is such a horrible experience for him but his mom stuck by him and they worked through it together. Yeah, I can be that for a child," then there is a child out there waiting, you've got the right stuff.
I'm going to include a few quotes from the book that either just hit me like a ton of bricks or mirrored an experience I've had (and then hit me like a ton of bricks).
p.24 This is the day Carolyn met Abel
I let myself out, walked slowly to the car, and started for home.
Is he the one? Is he my son?
I couldn't quite get my brain around it. I go, meet a child, play with him a few minutes and then he's mine for life? I actually tried to argue myself out of it,. I'd wanted a baby girl. This was a three year old boy.
I started to smile.
That sweet, sweet grin.
I shook my head. He obviously had some issues. Did I want to deal with issues in my first parenting experience?
The way his arms came around my neck.
I didn't even know whether he would be my son. What if he went back to his birth parents?
His warm little body snuggling down in my lap.
Yeah, I was lost. There were no arguments that could cut through what had clicked and locked into place when I first saw him walk through that door. He was mine.
p.105 The morning after revealing his birthparents had both molested him.
"Yes-a?" I said cheerfully.
"I was telling the truth last night."
I stopped and looked down at him. "I know," I said solemnly. "You were very brave."
p.183 Abel is in third grade and keeps his room in a state where science could easily happen. Refuses to throw away an empty applesauce cup because it is his friend.
A week later I found the cup on the floor under his bed, little bits of dried applesauce still stuck to the inside. I groaned and reached for it, but as I picked it up, I noticed he'd written something on it in black felt pen: I buleave in you.
I put it carefully back under his bed.
I still have that cup.
Finally, p. 249 The psychiatric hospital intake worker hears a condensed version of Abel's first three years of life.
"You know," he said finally. "I've been doing this for 30 years and that's the worst I've ever heard. That poor kid."
With the help of her trusted therapist and Abel's therapist (along with others in education and the mental health profession that "get it") Carolyn has guided Abel through over eighteen years of therapeutic parenting. Reading about someone who is much older than my son and experienced even worse things than my son did and he's not living on the streets, not in prison, not living in a mental health facility and alive...gives me hope.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Heather with the child no longer "My mom's new baby."
Quickly known as her little sister.
Two cool girls.
I started this post on the 15th, today is the 20th. It took a bit to find pics and boy, howdy, seems BOTH of my girls have major anxiety about Alex coming home. Due to an assault years ago, Heather has PTSD (geez, the family that freaks together...) and so she's had a few panic attacks about Hannah's safety. She also has so much anger at Alex for punching and hurting me. Fear for our animals' safety. Resentment that we sought out treatment for him (we tried to get her to go inpatient but she was an adult and refused, she'd blanked a lot out and I guess that's part of it).
Sometimes, I wish I could go live on an island. By myself. With internet, books, beer and chocolate. I'd allow my friends to come visit but the drama would have to be left at the edge of the sand.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Our visit last weekend was fantabulous! I fear this "smoothness" will disappear once he is home. Right now, he's got a carrot dangling...if your visit in the RTC house goes well, your next one can be outside, without such close supervision....If your outside visit goes well, then next time, you can go off campus with your family...if your off campus visit goes well, next time, you can have an overnight visit....
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
What you can't read is the beer label reads "Slosh" brand.
Went to the Comal County Fair on Thursday night because for our business, we joined the Chamber of Commerce and they had a mixer. With free beer. And free food and prizes but mainly, free beer. So, since I didn't want to see the rodeo (can't watch animals treated like that...I can eat a cow but don't want to watch someone throw it to the ground...lame) I hung out near this guys booth that sold these signs. They spoke to me. It had been a really rough few days with a friend's daughter being in the hospital and knowing she was not going to survive this time and reading things that made me laugh out loud was very therapeutic. So now, my deck will have "art".
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
Words out of my son's mouth. Of course, each and every time he was consequenced (I go for the logical and connected type) he would fall apart.
At the RTC he lives at, they are extremely strict. He convinced (manipulated) his CASA worker (because we turned to CPS to help pay for RTC, he qualifies for a CASA volunteer) to let him use her cell phone to call me. That is not supposed to happen. He admitted that he knew it but wanted to call me more than worried about the consequences. So, here is his.... he was "on the wall" for five days. That means, when he is not at school, at meals, in the bathroom, getting ready for school or bed....he sits facing the wall. No discussion with anyone. Just thinking. By yesterday, he should have graduated to the couch. All this for a phone call!? Are you kidding me? But...it works. Nothing like mind-blowing boredom to convince you to stop and think before making a decision you know better than to make.
So, someday when he comes home again, I need to be more strict. Oh, and hire three men to stay with us for four days at a time to implement it...and the other four they rotate with. Guess I better start trolling Craigsl!st for bunk beds for all those guys.
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
If only this vehicle had an engine...ummm, no, no thank you.
It's always good to not be the biggest a$$ in the area.
This feels one billion times better than it looks! I am wondering though what the heck is going on with my eyelids! Who is that old lady?
I guess I've been in the job hunt trenches and needed to come up for air. Had another visit with the boy at the RTC. They both have gone wonderfully! The above cockatoo is hilarious! She kept us entertained and her language is quite interesting.
Still cautiously optimistic with the patent realization that my son is watched over by three adult males 24/7. Their program is extremely strict...get in trouble, face the wall. I swear this one boy has not moved since we visited in August! (A bit of exaggeration...it would appear he likes being restrained apparently ergo, in the chair, face the wall...no restraints.) I am thankful for all progress and hope that this time next year, he'll be home and that it will be do-able. Our daughter went for thirty minutes this time under duress but even though she refused to interact with him, she did tell my husband that she guesses I am officially the shortest member of the family now. So, even if she hates him, she considers him family, that's gotta be good right?
Friday, July 29, 2011
Next Saturday, we get to go see the boy at the new RTC. Their rules are that he had to be there 30 days before a visit could happen. They are very strict about a lot of things. Alex is like a lot of kids of trauma though, he needs to have intense structure and consistency. So, as we prepare for this first, monitored visit, I'm looking around for things to take him.
Like many kids dealing with PtSD/RAD, he's younger in a lot ways than his actual age, which is 14. He loves Christmas! Not that he deals well with Christmas...not that hasn't done everything he could to ruin it for himself and the family, mainly himself. So, I'm looking around for DVDs that I can buy or download (legally without malware, spyware, etc.) to take to him. Why is it that I become the one who gets obsessed with finding stuff to take? Is it making up for not being there? Is it compensation for him having to live away from the family? Do I really think that material things equal love in his eyes? I really don't know what my motivation is. I guess I keep trying to figure out things that have made him happy in the past.
I'm also looking for more and more frog or toad (that's one connection he and I share big time....love of those things, sorry Gala!) jokes and riddles. Here's one I put on one side of the package I sent yesterday: Knock, knock. Who's there? Toad Toad who? Toad you I was going to send you a package and here it is! Yay, now I can give up this silly quest of getting another teaching position and follow my talent in writing jokes to the big bucks!
The tadpole in the picture is not the biggest we saw in the pond by our house...but it is the biggest we caught. Everything is bigger in Texas...'cept for rainfall, not so much.
Sunday, July 24, 2011
She won over Uncle B, the birthday boy.....
Ahem, what are YOU looking at?
Ours was the first and up until now, the only adoptive family in my family. Despite our experiences with Alex, and maybe because of our experiences with Hannah, my little brother is now joining up. This is Miss Grace. She all but just fell into their lives. Grace's birth mom was taking her to the church day care and preschool that my sister in law teaches at. Over time, she was watching Gracie while her birth mom was working three jobs. It turns out that there are two siblings, full siblings, that were placed about four years ago with a relative. Their parents were not open to adopting Grace and so, she's joined the family. This is one incredibly smart and agile 18 month old. It appears she's a lot like her Aunt Sissy (me) in that she is a bit hyper. Funny thing is, there is sixteen years between my second and third daughters and the same between Grace and Kaley, up until now an only child. I hope these two are half as close as my Heather and Hannah are. Welcome to the clan, Miss Gracie!
Friday, July 15, 2011
Friday, July 8, 2011
I took these with a Nikon CoolPix...my baby camera that stays in my purse. The one that has no problem handling the 4 gig SD card. Unlike it's big, beefy older brother a Nikon D50 who wimps out on anything beyond a 2 gig card. (which is no big comparison to some of the huge-0 SLRs that came out later that I saw all over the houses at Orlando 2011) I know that because someone who happened to turn sixteen on Tuesday, removed the 2 gig from my laptop...where I put it to make sure that I had it on our very brief trip to the beach. But, it was on my dining room table where she'd left it when she and her dad tried to get the fantastic deal of an mp3 player I won on Ebay to work. So...while I felt really bad for myself that my planned picture for dear photograph of my dad didn't work out because the little one cannot take a close up very well, little one did okay. I have this picture of my dad being a muscle man, complete with sucking in the gut he didn't have, looking all skinny when I was probably three or four on the same beach. He died in 2002 from lung cancer after quitting eight years before. It appears he should have quit fifteen years before and he wouldn't have gotten cancer at all. I guess.
Anyway, now to the whine....WHAT?! That wasn't a whine already?! Here it is: I do consider myself to be a fairly dependable adult.sometimes. when.i.want.to.be....why is it then when I go on a trip where I'm responsible for other people....namely children, things can't just go according to plan? When I took Alex to Boston to meet Sarge Goodchild at Active Healing, I did great. Made all the reservations, got us to the airport, flew to Boston, rented a car, only got lost once before finding our way out of town....found Sarge, did the touristy things with the Lighting of the Trees in the Commons....found Strawberry Banke in New Hampshire after turning around when I saw the "Welcome to Maine" billboard (hey, unlike Texas, it was only like an hour and a half across the whole state...hell, we consider that a morning commute here) got us back to Boston, back to the airport, turned in the rental, flew to San Antonio only to leave my frikkin' camera bag on the plane with my wallet in it. Stuck, with no way to pay the pay for parking so my husband had to drive in at one a.m. to rescue me.
Back to this debacle....got stuck in the sand on the beach on.our.way.home....isn't that period thing annoying?! I love it! Did any of the big Bubbas sitting in their trucks while balancing their Lone Stars on their big bellies offer to come over and push me out of the way with their four-wheeled drive? How about the ex-Marine that drove past, twice, in a jeep and just waved. (Turns out it was a rental...yes, I did go out of my way to tell him thank you so much....the Marine Corp tat was probably a rental too.) Who helped us? A 7o something Vietnam Vet who only had 24% lung capacity left, that's who. Take that Honda with your "you can't be more than ten feet off of the street in order for us to help" and sheriff's department...cause "we are not allowed to help people out of the sand". Okay, now blessings time....#1 Cap'n Rob- who helped us get out of the sand #2 Being able to take my daughters and a friend of one of them for two days to the coast #3 An almost completely jellyfish-free float in the Gulf with my older daughter with really good conversations (it appears 32 is the magic year for that) and finally, #4 that our daughter, the newly minted sixteen year old came to us through an open, domestic adoption at birth. She is such a really neat person and I'm so blessed to get to be her mom.
Friday, July 1, 2011
I don't want to sound negative. I am,however, a realist. Alex arrived at the RTC in time for lunch, quick intake and went to class. He's behaving very well. The one thing (Lord, please don't let this come back and bite me on my butt) that makes me feel he just may keep it together is that he did not lose his sh!t in the last few days at the psych hospital. That would have been vintage Alex, so who knows, he may be able to settle in without humongous bouts of posturing.
I can no longer call him...he has to call me, with a phone card. And not for probably two weeks. A visit in probably one month. Other trauma mamas will get this....I.am.relieved. To make conversation on a nightly or every other night basis with someone who lives in a completely different environment is challenging. This frees me from feeling guilty. I am writing him a letter and putting together a small package.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Wooot! Go directly to RTC, do not stop at ASH, (the abusive state hospital) go directly to the place where you'll receive actual help and not abuse by uneducated staff. So, this post is short and sweet just like me (for those who know me....shut.up). People, prayer and positive thinking has helped tremendously! I've been saying it lately...if my son can progress...if we can get tot his point from him beating the hell out of me....anyone can. Keep hoping.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Tuesday morning, my son will leave his home away from home for the last 1.5 years. He has to go to Au$tin St@te Hospit@l as there is no transfer contract between where he is now and the RTC he is going to. I know he will have major anxiety about that. He did a lot of damage before he left there from December 29, 09 to March 16, 10. Lot of property damage to windows (unbreakable ones...about fourteen of them), tore a sink from the wall, liquid soap dispenser and a water fountain. That does not compare to the physical and emotional damage he did to staff, mainly female and I fear for him. What he does have now is an advocate, in Au$tin, that will threaten to sue the hospital if he is abused in any way, shape or form. He is a very different kid than when he left there. If they will put their adult briefs on, they'll realize that he was declared "Manifestly Dangerous" for a reason and that by sending him to NTSH, and having him come back a year and a half later, that the process they have in place actually worked. Praying that they can be mature enough to do this. So, briefly, either a number of hours or days, he
will be 45 minutes away and not 7 hours. I will be there Tuesday morning to make sure the director has the opportunity to speak to specific staff about being verbally threatening or abusive. That includes this statement,"I can't talk to you. You might say I'm abusing you." Why can't grown ups who choose to work with mentally ill children and adolescents act like grownups?
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
"Glass Doctor, we fix your panes! This is Jeri." (said with a smile)
We bought a franchise in March. Now that I'm a gainfully unemployed teacher, I'm in training for being the OSR (for those of you not in the know...that's Outside Sales Representative). I've never worked this hard for no pay! You'd think sleeping with the boss would mean some fringe benefits but except for the company gas card and business cards with my name on them....nah.
Well, today I was out in the town that we both graduated from and we moved away from in 1999. Amazingly, there are some things that have not stayed the same there. Some things will always be the same there though....Seguin is the home of the world's largest pecan. (Lots of pecan bottoms (groves) in the area.) I saw the pecan being loaded into the barn for the night on my way home so I took a picture. Things ARE bigger in Texas.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Not only did my son pass the Dangerous Review Board committee but it appears he has been accepted into the RTC I was hoping for. Now, he will only be 3.5 hours away, which is Half of the distance we've been traveling. He's doing well in school and seems to be loving it. Wow, if someone had suggested even the possibility of him turning around, I would have laughed my head off and pointed them at the nearest mental health clinic because they were so obviously unwell. I hope that my son's improvement gives hope to those that are living in the darkness right now. J., you are so on my mind and my heart right now. I know I keep saying this but I pray for comfort for you and your family.
So, let's look at the difference from one June to the next.... June, 2010 sitting with my son, watching him eat a small cheesecake and then,BOOM!, he punched me in the face. I just froze. At that point, I should have been prepared. I should have expected it. Been ready to duck at least. Nothing like driving for seven hours only to leave twenty minutes into the visit. So many times of driving away from there in tears.
The photo is of the front of the state psychiatric hospital which has been our son's home since March 16, 2010.
Fast forward to today. I have the memory of spending several hours, not across the conference tables (make the two across, taking no chances) as had been the way of the last few visits, but walking next to my son. For hours. Working hard not to flinch (see, PTSD seems to spread like the plague) because I saw how hard he was working. Making sure I sat on his right side as his left hook is not as powerful as his right. It just seemed surreal. And now he's going to the next level. A level I never thought I'd get to see. Never.EVER.give up!
Saturday, June 11, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
This is what my neighborhood looks like right now...twins are exploding. I give the mamas and some of their single guy friends scraps. I selfishly do this because communing with nature is even better than Effexor! (But not quite as good as Xanax or BudLight.) Over the years of being a trauma mama, I've discovered that any time I can be outside and physically busy, I'm better for it and my family is too.
On Tuesday, the 14th, my son comes before the DRB board again. This is the Dangerous Review Board at the state hospital he's at. The one he was sent to in March of 2010 once he was determined to be "Manifestly Dangerous". He's made a great deal of progress, especially the last few months. Why is it then that while I pray he passes DRB this time, I seem to sink a little at the prospect of that happening. Okay, I'll answer that....because it means change. It means his CPS worker will have to find an RTC willing to take him. It means learning new people...new rules...new procedures. It means telling our story.again.
I miss my son. I miss things for him. Going to the movies. Going out to eat. Choosing when to shower, when to go to bed, what to watch on t.v. I miss the ability to buy him things with alcohol. No, don't worry, not the drinking kind but the kind that you spray on as cologne or rinse with as in mouth wash. I miss being able to buy him cheesey little dollar electronic games that I can't because where he's at, some kids figured out how to harm themselves or get high with the teeny tiny lithium battery. I even miss being able to buy him books because I shop at a place in our area called Half Price Books where I can get used books for a dollar. But that means they didn't come directly from the publisher therefore, I might slip some drugs in between the pages. I miss getting to watch him on Christmas morning even though I know he knows every.single.thing.he.is.getting...because I've told him in order to reduce the anticipation angst.
So, while I hang out with other mamas babies...I worry about my own.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
You know you live in Texas when your front lawn looks like this!
There are some things in Texas older than me!!!! This lady reminds me of myself...could use some repair but the soul is there. Baker Hotel in Mineral Wells, TX....circa 1929, closed in the 70's. Hosted many celebrities and political figures back in the day. (Ghost tours have been discontinued....:-( Found out that through grants and other funding, she's coming back! Will be returned to her former splendor and the healing baths will also be reopened. Hope...if this grand ol' lady can have help found for her, it has to be out there for my son.
These were shot on the way to see my son. With seven hours of driving each way and living in the second biggest state in the nation, there are lots of things to see....lots to think about. So relieved that my trip home was one with smiles and not tears this time.