Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Another Awkward Miracle

My mom was approved for Medicaid and starts treatment next week. 

She is embarrassed and ashamed that she is getting public assistance, but is relieved that she'a getting the medication she needs. 

Personally, I couldn't care less about being embarrassed. When she and my dad divorced, she pretty much got nothing. No retirement, no nest egg, nothing. 

I look at this as an "it's about damn time something good happened for her."

And I pray that it works.

A Season of Awkward Miracles

A season of awkward miracles

Leigh is in residential, and it's the private one that's 20 minutes from home, instead of three or six hours. Somehow, someone in the state's Medicaid office borrowed a soul and stamped payment approval on the local private hospital... A decision that is what is in the best interest of our entire family, but probably the antithesis of everything in their rule books. 

I was in shock, and pretty much stayed there through packing, and check in, and even all the way home the evening we checked her in. Didn't cry, didn't even tear up. 

For almost a week. 

Until the night before Thanksgiving. 
That night I had to leave a little before Danae and their older bio sister who was in town for the week, and as I walked to the car, the grief and guilt hit me. 

And it hit hard. 

I put the babies in the van, and sat on the chiiled asphalt of the parking lot and sobbed.  

And sobbed until I couldn't breathe, took a hiccoughing breath and cried more. I didn't think I could cry that hard. 

Unfortunately that let loose a torrent of emotion that I have been fighting to keep under control since then. I find myself on the verge of tears I can barely control, and the silliest thing sets me off. This tenuous grip I have on my tear ducts needs something to shore it up. I'm open for ideas. 

I know intellectually that this is what is best for Leigh and for those around her. I know that she needs this.  I also know that this is our last stand, our very own little Alamo. 

If this doesn't work, I don't know if there are any other options, anything else that might help her find an internal steady ground. 

So for now, we are visiting four to five times a week, but the pace is killing me. I know I can't keep it up, but on the flip side I have to.  

When you're already exhausted, where do you find another wind? 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

October Did Not Kill Me

...although it damn sure tried to.

Hi, my name is GasStationCappuccino, and I am peeking out from my hidey-hole.

It's been a helluva time.

So without much commentary, here are the things that have tried to kill me, but have not succeeded, since I last posted.

Leigh's behavior has been gathering momentum on her downhill slide.  She has spent 20 of the last 30 days in a local acute care psychiatric facility for the following:  suicidal thoughts, threats, poetry and art; and increasing aggression directed at everyone.  She was home for three days before the state's mobile crisis unit, accompanied by two police cars showed up at our house to take her back for another stay.  She's been home for five days now, and has been a little better, but her "better" starting to show some wear, tear, and cracking around the edges.

My husband spent a weekend in the hospital after his blood pressure shot way up into the triple digits (top and bottom number) due to stress.  The good news is that his heart is very healthy.  The bad news is that the craziness at home is making him sick.

We've ridden the "can we please FINALLY get some long term help for Leigh" roller coaster, and finally, today, after TEN years, found out that she has been approved for residential treatment, which means she'll be leaving to move into a long-term psychiatric care facility very soon. The problem is that the closest facility is about three hours away.  The best one is five hours.  So do we take the "easier on us" three hour drive or the "has better programs but is five hours away" one? 

My mom, who has no medical coverage, no job and was denied disability (Lupus and Sjogren's), was recently diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, which basically means that her bone marrow has given up. The first line treatment is a series of shots that are supposed to kick start the sleepy marrow.  The shots are $2250 each.  They are given every two weeks for around six months.  If they don't work, the next two steps are regular blood transfusions and then a marrow transplant. Remember-- no insurance here. Definitely not good news.

So this will likely be her last Christmas.  And Leigh will be in residential, which is where she needs to be, but won't be able to be with her grandma, who is one of the few people she actually likes, relates to and respects on this earth. 

Danae has worked very hard at being mean to everyone.  Dawn and her Dumbass were both working for about three weeks before they both got fired.  They're still living on other people's sofas and generally making nuisances of themselves. 

The babies are amazing and growing and happy.  And we still have made no official decision.  Social Services has to decide something before December 28, as that is MoMo's "one year in care" anniversary.

My teaching schedule changed three weeks into the school year (not technically October), but the kids who had the easier teacher before me have been driving me nuts. 

Hubby works weird hours and I'm doing way more single parenting than I want to, but we need the paycheck.  And since he works retail, him getting Christmas off without a major act of God is something I'm already worrying about. 

I realize that nothing worth having is easy, but I'm starting to lose track of what it is I want to have. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Sad but true...

No good deed goes unpunished. 

So I'm attempting to help my daughter Leigh work on her make-up work (read: work she refused to do at school, which is why she has a 35 in language arts, which, coincidentally, is the subject I teach). 

She is being herself (read: a collossal raging bitchy PITA), and everything she says is oozing venom. 

I finally get fed up and explain to her how goals work.  This is the gist of the explanation.

People who work hard in school have decent jobs, decent homes and decent lives. Not spectacular, but occasionally fun, mostly pleasant lives. 

People who don't end up as homeless hookers addicted to drugs. 

Her response:  So you think I'm going to be a ho because I don't do school work? 

Me: What other job are you preparing yourself for? 

That boom you heard was an epic door slam.
(First month of school is over, so I should be more regular with my rantings...  How are YOU guys doing??)

Monday, August 23, 2010

To adopt, or not to adopt... What exactly is the question?

Hubby and I are faced with what will likely be the most important decision of our adult lives: Whether or not we should adopt the two babies we’ve been fostering since January and February. Today, the birth mom told the caseworker that she is considering surrendering her rights. We think she’s pregnant again, which is why we think she’s considering surrendering—if she gets social services out of her life, she has a better shot at keeping number three.

Reasons aside, how do you know if you’re making the right decision? Hubby wants to sit down and do a pros and cons list, and have a conversation about it. I know we need to, but when I think about making this decision, all I want to do is cry. And I don’t know what that means.

I’ve always been a “gimme a sign” kind of girl. We have known without a doubt that we were supposed to adopt every other time we have, and I’ve been praying and hoping for the same clear signs this time, but so far, nothing. And I don’t know what that means.

When I think about the future with these babies—as little kids, as pre-teens, as teenagers, as young adults—and I see three very different paths. I see them with their bio mom. I see them with us. And I see them with someone else—usually, in all honesty, someone who looks more like them than we do. People younger. People less jaded.

I think of how hard it’s been with Marie and Dawn and Danae and Leigh, and I wonder what impact that has had on the babies, what impact it would have on them in the future. I know Leigh is a horrible influence, and that Danae would be devastated if we don’t adopt. And I still can’t decide.

I think of their beautiful big brown eyes and their faces smiling into someone else’s face and calling someone else mom. And I cry. Then I think about getting to pick them up and take them fun places on weekends as grandparents and I don’t cry as much.

I think of all the time I spend with them, that I spend doing for them, and wonder what I did before, and what I would do after, if they leave. I think about their bio mom crying, looking at the photo album we gave her and her saying, “They look so happy.” And I wonder if them being adopted by someone else would ruin the happiness we’ve worked so hard to help them find.

Will they remember us five years down the road? Ten years? Twenty years? Or will we be there with them, at our own retirement ages, as they graduate and go to college. I can’t decide which picture has the stronger pull, and I don’t know what that means. Or if it means anything at all.

Sometimes, I think the fact that I’m even struggling with this decision is a sign. But a sign to keep them or let them go? Are we being selfish to want to keep them? I know there are hundreds of young couples who are where Hubby and I were ten years ago—eager and breathless and full of hope and anticipation, waiting for the phone call that is the beginning of labor pains for them. But then I wonder if maybe the dark road we’ve traveled with our four older girls has been a test, and the babies are the reward.

Are we being selfish to consider letting them go? I miss my husband, and the marriage we had before we had kids. I miss spending time with him without kids around, and we have reached the light at the end of the tunnel with the older ones, and we starting to plan on what to do with the extra space in our empty nest. Plus, with Leigh being so completely special, we need more time with her. But what impact will it have on the babies if they leave us for another family? What impact will it have on the four who are already ours?

And what does it mean that I can’t answer a single question I’ve posted here? And that I don’t know what any of it means? And that I’m crying as I type, with no clearer perspective?

And I still don’t know which one would hurt less.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Questions, Questions

I have lots of them today. Bear with me. Answer them if you can.  Offer humor if you can. 

1.  Am I unreasonable to expect my almost 16 year-old daughter to be responsible for her own laundry?  And to not let her go out in public with me if she is not clean and appropriately dressed?  This is Leigh we're talking about--  my RAD/OCD/PTSD/Depression/BPD child, who consistently has to be sprayed down before we go somewhere because she smells bad. 

2. Am I unreasonable to NOT allow my almost 17 year-old daughter share a bed behind closed doors with her girlfriend. (She's gay, so this is not a "just a friend," this a "we're dating" girlfriend.)  I'm opposed to any sort of spend-the-nights since they are in HS and I don't care if you're straight or gay, it is not appropriate to spend the night with the person you're dating.  My friend Katie, a lesbian, agrees with me, but she says she's so conservative she beats herself up in the parkinglot. 

3.  Am I unreasonable to expect my teenagers to complete basic housekeeping chores for the good of the family, even if they didn't personally make the mess in question?  My theory is that you ate the damn food that I worked to pay for AND cooked, you can clean up the kitchen. 

4.  And along those lines, if I ask you to do something, and you don't do it or half-ass it, I reserve the right to tell you no to something you want done, just on the backscratching principle.  Right?

5.  Is it wrong that we're still waffling about adopting the babies?  Is that a sign we shouldn't?  Or a sign that for the first time in our adult lives, we're looking at something long and hard before jumping in?

6.  Since Leigh has been off her meds, I have done a lot of thinking. Is it wrong that I plan to bully her into a birth control implant that she can't remove without pain and difficulty?  Is it wrong that I am starting to fantasize about spiking her food with Prozac?

7.  And am I wrong to be FURIOUS and HURT that bio-grandma called Danae's phone?  This is a violation of our agreement to move at our speed on bio-grandma's part; and for Danae, a violation of the promise she made to NOT give her cell number to her bio-family. 


That's all for now.  Thanks.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Messin' with the Kids

Sometimes you just have to mess with your kids to have a little fun. 

Yesterday, Hubby and I had a date. We took the babies to daycare, sneaking out of the house while the teens were still asleep, and went to the beach.  We packed two small coolers with our adult, refreshing beverages, and parked on the beach. 

I have a new favorite drink--Smirnoff Ice Green Apple Bite.  Amazingly delicious.  Like a Jolly Rancher Candy in liquid form.  But I'm birdwalking.

We spent th eday sunning, swimming, eating, drinking and generally enjoying each other's company, reminding ourselves why we got married in the first place. 

After lunch, we went for ice cream. The problem was that it was over 100 degrees, and the chocolate ice cream kept attacking my husband's clothes. By the time we got home, it looked like dried blood stains on his shirt and shorts, so we went with it. 

Leigh:   What is that on Dad's shirt?
Me:   Blood.
Leigh:   What happened??  (Shock and interest)
Hubby:   Someone was hitting on your mom, so I handled it.
Leigh:   No way.  You hit someone?
Me:   No. He knocked someone's lights out.
Leigh:   Did the cops come? 
Me:   Not sure.  We left pretty quickly after that. 
Leigh, running from the room:  Danae!  Danae!  Dad got in a fight at the beach today and has blood all over him!!
Danae, coming out to look: OMG, Dad. Did you really hit someone?
Hubby just stood there, with his arms out, letting the girls get a look at the stains. 

It was THE topic of conversation yesterday.  Apparantly, word of my husband's alleged bar fight made it to my mom, twenty-three hours away, with the information that I'd gotten a tattoo.  They left out the part about it being henna. 

So now, Hubby has some street cred with the teens, I giggle everytime I think about it, and all is normal in our world.   I know it's probably against good parenting to mess with your kids like that, but it was just so amusing, we couldn't help it!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Funny at the Mall

We were at the indoor playground at the mall, MoMo was running around, and I was rocking NaNa in her car seat.  A precocious little girl with big blue eyes and dimples skipped up to me and said, "She doesn't go with you."

I smiled at her, and said, "Yes, she does."

Girl, looking at NaNa and then at me:  But she's black.

Me: Yes she is.  Do you know what adoption is?

Girl, looking puzzled: No.

Me:  When a mommy won't take care of her babies, and someone else does, they call that adoption. 

Girl: Oh. 

She skips off to the slide.  Convo over.

I told Blue Eyes' parents about our little conversation before we left.  They were really apologetic.  I assured them that I wasn't offended, but that I wanted to let them know in case the subject came up later.

Still makes me smile a little, even though we haven't adopted the babies, it was the easiest way I could think to explain it on the spur of the moment.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Seven Things I Didn't See Coming... Last Week

So, instead of a wrap-up, I'm just going to start looking at the things that surprised me, the things that were unexpected. 

So here are my seven from the week of August 8.



1. I went to a drag show with my oldest daughter, Marie. I gave a drag queen money, which he/she took from my teeth with her (his?) tongue. No touching. And, as an unexpected bonus, I was sober.

2. Then, we went to a dance club. At 1:30AM. I have not danced, in a bar, around other people, since 1995. Again, I was sober. However, the man who kept grinding on my backside and elbowing everyone around us was not.

3. Leigh decided to take herself off her meds. She did okay for the first week, but this week, back at home, she’s not doing so well.  (You can loosely translate that as we want to kill her, but haven't found a way to get away with it yet.)

4. I found out that Leigh is having sex. Again. But with whom I don’t know. I’m not sure I want to know. With her off meds, she is not taking pills daily, which means being on the pill is no longer the best, easiest option to keep her un-impregnated.

5. The philosophical dilemmas I’m having with #4 are many. First, Leigh is 15. Sex at 15 is a bad idea no matter what, and we’ve been battling sex issues with her since she moved in with us when she was six. Second, if she gets pregnant, there are obviously many other big, big issues. Like the fact that I don’t believe in abortion, and that mental illness runs deep in her bio-family. And she is completely incapable of caring for a child. She can’t remember to put on pajamas. I shudder to think how a child left to her care would survive. And I don’t want to raise another baby, but I feel very strongly about keeping families together. Borrowing trouble? Maybe. But I’d rather prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

6. One week left until I go back to work. Ugh. Summer vacation is great. Ending it is not.

7. I haven’t heard from Dawn in two weeks. She made the mistake of asking me to be honest with her, and then not liking the answer. She’s also ignoring everyone else, which only makes me feel marginally better.

That's it.

Next week comes with more court, more caseworkers, more therapy, and my last week of summer. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Lessons From Vacation

Vacation is not as much fun as when I was a kid. Or before I was a parent. Or before I became an adoptive parent to special needs kids.

In the interests of spending time on the beach and time with my brother, getting to know his preggo wife, I rented a two bedroom condo with a pool and beach view.

It was a lot smaller than the pictures, a lot farther from the beach than the pictures, and very over decorated. Yes, it’s a beach condo. We do not need to be reminded of this fact with a fish or boat motif-ed in every square foot. But I birdwalk.


Here are the things I learned on vacation:

1. Not all technology definitions are equal. Our landlord for the week assured me before I paid him that we’d have Wifi. My brother works from home on-line, so he had to have the internet. I’m taking an on-line class and wanted to blog and stuff. So it was a priority. Our landlord’s definition of Wifi was to use the neighbor’s. The problem was that the neighbor changed the password and wouldn’t return our landlord's call. Brother spent a lot of time in a national-chain overpriced coffee shop. I just turned my school work in late. Lucky for me, I have an online prof who is very understanding.

2. Not everyone has the same level of tolerance for crazy that I have. You have heard from my blog that my children are kind of special. We have lots of things going on, and lots of behaviors that are outside the realm of what others might see as normal. My brother and his wife—Don’t get me wrong, I love them—they don’t live my life, or near my life, so they don’t know what normal is for us. Our normal level of crazy, I think, might have made them twitch. There were several moments when I caught them looking at me like I was either crazy or, well, crazy.

3. Not everyone has the same gag reflex. I think nothing of changing a diaper on the floor in the middle of the living room. And honestly, I don’t care how many people are there. Or what they’re doing. A wet baby is a screaming baby, and ending the screaming humanely, without me going to jail, is way more important to me than the fact that you’re eating squash casserole. Which, I must say, looks remarkably like what was in the diaper. Which is probably why you started gagging and running from the room. I’d apologize, but you’re pregnant, and you needed to learn that lesson before you finish procreating. Baby poo is gross. Accept that fact and life will be much easier for you in five months.

4. Your intoxicated brother can and will tell your kids stories about you that you don’t want them to hear. I really didn’t want my kids to hear about me giving my brother and all his friends condoms when they were in HS (no pregnancies in that graduating class, thank you very much). I didn’t want them to hear about us rescuing my drunken father from the back office of a bar. I didn’t want them to know I smoked, or drank, or dated before my husband. I was a perfect, virginal pure young lady prior to my wedding day. (Yeah right, but you know where I’m going here, right?) My brother, after a few drinks, decided to tell them all about my sordid past of teenage infatuations with bad boys and cheap wine coolers.

5. Whether or not the stories are true is beside the point. See number four. I deny everything. Those pictures are clearly photo-shopped.

6. Your time spent on the beach will decrease inversely proportionately to the number of children in diapers. I spent about $1000 on the condo, about $200 traveling, and about $400 on supplies from food to toilet paper to beach stuff. I spent less than two hours on the beach the entire week, despite the fact that it was less than a football field from our condo, and despite the fact that I was desperate for beach time. Two kids in diapers will do that. So will four teenagers who do not have any appreciation for the deeply brewing insanity inside their mom’s head.

7. If there is a chance for the crazy to come out in your kids, it will. We’d been there for five days. It was inevitable. Danae and Tonya (her “friend”) got into a screaming, yelling, cursing fight in front of the condo. Then it came inside where a table and chair got broken. It went back outside, and Danae and Leigh ended up in an actual physical fight. (I mentioned the place was small, right?)

There was lots of noise and yelling and stomping, as Leigh got more involved. CC just watched the whole thing, wondering what the heck she'd gotten herself into.  Security was called. I explained to the nice man with the patch on his arm that I have crazy teenagers, and they’ve almost got it out of their system. But that if they couldn’t settle down in the next ten minutes I’d be the one calling the police. Security didn’t seem convinced and Patch-man hovered under our balcony for about 45 minutes.

8. If the crazy comes out, and security gets involved, prepare to be embarrassed. Everyone around us looked at us funny for the two days left of our trip. At least back home, our neighbors can’t HEAR the crazy. In public, we usually take great pains to keep our crazy tucked away for later. And I’m sure that the stares had nothing to do with my openly gay daughter walking around holding hands with her sweetie, or Leigh’s friend CC, who is tatted and pierced and has pink hair, or our decidedly dark-skinned babies that none of us could have given birth to. I'm sure it was the ghetto-style brawl.  Right?

9. You will not want to cook as much as you plan to. We planned to eat out only once. My brother and his wife bought groceries for the rest of the week. We ate out four times. And they took the groceries home. Next summer, we just plan to only cook twice. It’s easier that way.

10.  Everything is more expensive the closer you get to the beach.  Brother and Preggo bought two back-pack lawn chairs from a Wings chain store. They spent $85.  Several giant chain stores sell the same things for about $20 each.  Gas was up 30 cents a gallon. And speaking of gallons, milk was outrageous at about $4 a jug. 

11. You will not be invited to rent again if any of the following happen: broken furniture, broken knick-knacks or complaints about your boogey-board and towel placement. I left the landlord a check to cover the damage, and asked him to call me. So far, my phone has not rung, and I am not holding my breath.

Oh well.

As Preggo pointed out, there are lots of places at the beach.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Ego Boost

So tonight I'm at the store and a tall man in a black cowboy hat struck up a conversation with me in the movie section.  This tall man was NOT my husband.  He flirted with me. 

And we passed each other about three times in grocery, and each time, he smiled, made eye contact, and said hello. 

At that point, Dawn elbowed me and said, "Mom, that mustache dude is totally flirting with you!"

Really?  Wow.  It's been awhile. 

Now, the fact that I am sporting a size 20, instead of the 24 I was at Christmas, I'm sure has nothing to do with it.

But it made me smile, and put a much-needed touch of pep in my step. 

And made me glad that Hubby and I have each other, and I do not have to date. Ever again. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Weekly Wrap-Up, July 25

Aloha, bloggerites!  Whassup?

We just got back from a cross country road trip that lasted two weeks, so the blogging has been kinda sparse. 

Here are some things I have learned, or experienced in the last few weeks...

Uncomfortable Personal Realization:  I have become my mother.

It's not terrible, it's just that some of the things that annoy me most about her, are now how I most annoy my children. 

Here are two examples.

When I yell my child's name, it means "personal appearance in front of me right now no matter what you were doing."  I'm 38 years old, and when MY mom yells for me, she still expects me to show up.  No matter that I'm feeding the NaNa with one hand and changing MoMo with the other.   I do that to my kids and am just now seeing what a pain it is. 

Also, there's the "if it's not cleaned my way, it's not cleaned" attitude. 

I'm not a neat freak. But my mom is. 

I think she might be an officer in the Neat Freaks of America Club. 

Two weeks at her house went a long way, I think, in showing my teenagers where some of my deep-seated housework neuroses come from.  Towel-folding is the best example. I am a towel-folding nazi.  They must be done just so, or I lose it.  I showed my daughters my mom's bathroom closet.  Perfect order.  Now they know. 

Proof That No Matter How Much You Want Someone to Change, Gorillas Will Still Eat Bananas:  The Gorilla of the Week award goes to Dawn. I asked Dawn and Dumbass to mow our yard while we were gone, offering to pay $50 for the job.  Three doors down from us is the young college student who bird sat and fed the outdoor cats for us while we were gone.  One week into the trip, I asked Dawn if they had been by to mow.  She said they'd done it the day before. I asked Critter Sitter, and she said it hadn't been done.  A friend of mine got her hubby to mow it for us the day before we got back.  I asked Dawn about it tonight and she admitted to lying about having mowed it, and apologized.  "I knew it was stupid to lie to you about it, that you'd know we didn't do it."  I didn't bother to ask why she lied.  It's just one more thing.

REALLY Uncomfortable Personal Realization:  I think I might be too selfish or lazy or something to adopt the babies should we be given the chance.  Let me 'splain.  While on vacation, I tried really hard to NOT ask the teenagers to help with the babies.  It was their vacation too, right?  Which meant that I didn't get to go fishing much.  I love fishing.  No, I take that back. I love being on a boat, out on the water in the sun.  Fishing is optional.  Anyway, Nana is not a big fan of fishing, being on a boat, out on the water, in the sun.  MoMo not only is not a fan, she is a member of the rebellion against such things--but this is the child who screams her way through bathtime. 

Because Hubby hasn't had a vacation in five years, and because I get one every summer, I stayed off the boat all but two times.  They got to boat nearly every day.  And it pissed me off--not at hubby or the teens--but at the babies.  Now stupid is that??  They can't help it that one is six months old and the other is mortified of all things having to do with water.  But I spent too much of the vacation resentful of the fact that I couldn't do the things I wanted to because of the babies.  That either says that at 38, I am still not mature enough to NOT be selfish about not getting my way, or maybe it was the sign I've been asking for when it comes to whether or not we should adopt. But every time I even think about them leaving, it brings tears to my eyes.  Whuck is that??

Another problem is that next week, we're spending the week at the beach with my brother and one of my best friends. And I'm taking the teenagers and the babies. And I'm already resenting all the sunbathing, boogey-boarding and general cavorting I WON'T be getting to do because the babies will be there.  I feel so childish, and I'm really embarrassed by it.  And the irony is....

New Favorite Things:  I never understood why otherwise sane adults would let a baby chew on their fingers.  NaNa has turned into a drool monster, and spends hours gnawing on anything she can get her hands on.  She has a nub of a tooth popping in, so I know that's what it is.  However, today, she caught my pinky finger and gnawed on it for about an hour, and it was such a fascinating thing, watching her face work and change as she chomped away.  And she bites hard. 

Last night, we were taking Danae's girlfriend home, and I heard MoMo talking to herself.  At 21 months, she was sitting in her car seat, reciting all the words she knew.  MaMa, PaPa, DeeDee, Eee (Leigh), izzie (the dog), seat, cup, butt, diaper, head, hair, ears, eyes, nose, mouth, tongue, teeth, belly, arm, leg, elbow, knee, feet, toes, booty, eat, please, thank you, bless you, welcome, hello, bye-bye....  the list goes on, but that's how she was entertaining herself.  And while she's naming the parts she's pointing them out on herself.  New cutest thing ever.  Plus she's gotten conversational enough that she's fun to babble with.  She's even used a big girl potty and big girl toilet paper once.  And she points out when she needs to be changed. 

IGiving NaNa a bath is just delicious.  She lies on the bottom of the tub and kicks and splashes and smiles and laughs, and the thought of giving that up just slices my soul. 

Just Clean it Dammit:  I got up with the babies at 7:30 this morning and had the teenagers up and working by 9 to clean the house.  "Why do we have to do this?"   Because it's dirty and it needs to be cleaned and I'm tired of nagging you so no cell phone computer or tv until we're done.  Pissed 'em off, but got 'em moving.  I'm such a motivator.

Cell Phone Conundrum:  I am trying to decide what kind of phone I want.  I have some money put back for a fun phone, and I've narrowed it to three:  the Samsung Jack, the Blackberry Bold (with camera) or the Iphone.  I am desperately hard on all things mechanical, so I'm desperately scared of breaking an expensive toy.  Everyone keeps telling me the Iphone, but only if I can get the old version and not the new one, or the Blackberry.  But the Jack is the least expensive, and will do everything I want.  What to do, what to do?

Excruciatingly Painful Soul Searching--This one requires a whole other post, but here's the rhetorical, "get you in the mood" question:  Have you ever behaved in a way that you have been absolutely convinced was right, and after many years, found yourself second-guessing the behavior?  That's where I am right now, and it's rocking me to the core.

Among the best vacation moments:  Swimming in Lake Michigan. Yes, the water is FREAKING COLD, but there is something amazing about swimming in ten foot deep water that you can clearly see the bottom of--it's bracing and refreshing and every summer, it rejuvenates me. 

Also, with the same outcome (the whole refreshing and rejuvenating thing) I got to hang with THE Claire Montgomery MD, of Car Dancing fame.  You see, we were acquaintances back when big bangs were not just theories in a text book, and we connected through a social networking site, discovered how much we have in common, and are now dangerously close to becoming, dare I say it?  Friends?  I  don't use that term lightly, as I have very few people in my life that I consider friends.  But I'm pretty sure she is one of them, or soon will be.

Claire is wicked funny, has her own house-full-of-crazy-she-didn't-give-birth-to, and the same sort of "love me, love my family" mentality. And her blog rocks.  Two of my favorites by her are here and here.  I'll see you again in October, and don't forget...  we pinky promised!!  (I'll blog about that later. Pinky promise.)

New Motto:  I found an over-priced sign in a gift store on vacation that read "Don't let your yesterdays ruin your tomorrows."  I didn't buy it, but I plan to use that saying A LOT in the coming year or so.

Upcoming events... This week, we'll be dusting off beach stuff, making photo albums, running a million errands, working ahead in the first class of my doctoral program, reading stuff for lesson plans for school (my job school, not school I'm attending) which starts way too soon, and trying to pare down the immense load of STUFF around my house.  I have a basket for craigslist and freecycle-- I just have to find the time to start posting!!

Happy blogging!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Writer's Workshop: My Personal Heaven

Sometimes you find heaven in odd places.
I find my heaven looking for smooth, flat stones along the shore.
Heaven is looking at the messages left behind by those
who have passed before me,
who were happy. And in love.


For some people, heaven is a beach in the hot sun.
For others, it's a cool day on a beach.
For some, it's not even the beach at all.

I don't understand those people.
Not one bit.

For me, heaven is where land and water intersect.
Whether it's the ocean or a river or a lake,
heaven is watching the water tickle the land.



And watching the sun's gentle kisses
touch the face of the water.

 
 

And say good-night to another beautiful day.







Welcome to my Heaven.
Lake Michigan.
Near Mackinaw City, MI, USA.

Mama's Losin' It

Friday, July 16, 2010

Firsts...

Today was a day of firsts, some great, some not so great.

We'll start with the happy stuff:  MoMo used the big girl potty, big girl toilet paper and said "Bye-bye peepee!" to her urine as it flushed away.  I've sat her on it several times prior to a bath to get her in the habit, but tonight, she asked without being prompted.  Actually, she was about to be unceremoniously plopped into the tub, skipping the time on the toilet, when she pulled away, went over to the toilet, patted the front of her diaper and pointed at the toilet. 

Also, today, NaNa, went from lying down to sitting up in order to reach for a toy...  all by herself! 

Hooray for the babies!!!

Now, the other first, not so great.  Dawn and Marie are visiting their birth family this week.  The woman they call grandma tried to help Dawn run away at one point, so my respect level for her is pretty much zero.  That, and when I confronted her about it, she started making stuff up about other members of my family.  She's not their grandma, but a neighbor who lived near them when they were kids.

Anyway, I got a text from Dawn today saying that as a welcome home gift, her family had paid for her to get a monroe and her first tattoo.  (A Monroe is a piercing above the lip to look like Marilyn Monroe's famous mole.)  The tattoo is an algae green hibiscus flower down near her hoo-hah.  Yay for us.  Part of what irks me about this is that she texted me yesterday, wanting Hubby and me to pay a deposit on an apartment. Again. 

HAHAHAHAHA.  I ignored that text, choosing to follow my new rule of life: Be nice.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop!! (Prompt # 2:  Write a poem about the last thing that made you mad.)


What makes me mad tonight
is the sudden truth
that no matter how
much
I
love my
daughters,
their birth moms
will always be
first.

"_blank">Mama's Losin' It

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Conundrama--Puzzles and Problems

So I thought I did something that would be totally mom-amazing.  I scraped together enough cash to rent a beach house for a week near where my brother and best friend live.  On the beach.  Pool right by our building.  Two bathrooms. Did I mention that it's on the beach?  And near my brother who I see about once a year??

Yay me, right? 

Not so much.

Danae announced, "Well if it means that I'll miss PRIDE, I'm not going." 

PRIDE, for those of you who don't know, is a day long festival for the GLBT community.  There are booths, and food, and shows, and lots of gay people running amok and generally enjoying themselves.  And for those of you new to my world, Danae was bullied into coming out came out recently

I get that PRIDE is important.  Believe me, I do.  But I'm having a hard time reconciling that with the whole "I don't know these people, why are you making me spend time with them?" Which is what she said when she realized that I was serious about making her come with the family to visit my mom for two weeks. 

What's funny is that PRIDE isn't until the fall...  way past our beach trip.  And she's still arguing because she doesn't want to go. Unless we let her girlfriend come with us, which I told her a while back, before I set the date, that I was considering.

Am I wrong to try to force her into getting to know my family?  Am I wrong to just say "this is how we do it in our family" and expect her to shut up and cope with it?  Or do I just resign myself to being another stop on the tour? 

Condundrums and drama. It's what we're good at. 

Any ideas? Thoughts? Anything to make me feel better about this whole thing called older child adoption??

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up (sort of) July 11

I'm on vacation this week, and was able to leave a few days early, thanks to Hubby's successful juggling of the schedule, so here are some random tidbits from the week...

1.  Our caseworker was genuinely shocked that we wanted to take the babies with us on vacation.  Apparently, a great majority of foster families do not take their foster children on vacation with them when they go.  If you've read me for any length of time, you know what I think of THOSE people.

2.  We drove from 3 PM Wednesday to 6 PM Thursday.  We made it.  No one died.  Except the potato chips in the back seat.  From the crumbs left, I'm pretty sure it was a horrible death (that's where the teenagers were.)

3.  We're staying at my mom and step-dad's, near one of the Great Lakes. 

4.  That particular Great Lake is AMAZING to swim in.  Cold, but amazing.

5.  When you have a child (Danae) who will bait her own fishing hook, but will not take the fish off, what do you do?  And if you're the mom who refuses to do either, do you really have any moral ground to stand on?

6.  What do you call it when a fish whaps Leigh across the face as she's trying to remove it from the hook?  You got fish slapped!!

7.  Where we are, there just aren't many people other than the pale variety... a point that is driven home any time we go out in public.  My step-dad is oblivious to the stares, we're all used to them, but my mom was pretty shocked. She thought that poeple would look and then get on with life.  Eating out with us is an excercise in ignoring people gaping at our paleness and the dark cuteness that is our children. 

8.  Thank GodAllahBuddha for minivans, diet coke and laptop computers.

9.  Did you know a Bobble Head isn't just a cute, annoying little doll whose head moves back and forth?  It's now an insult of a type of person known for head bobbing behavior...  well hell. It's what you call people who give blow jobs.  Frequently. 

10.  Lesbian joke of the day:  My hubby and Danae were walking, and saw a boat for sale.  The boat's name is, I kid you not, the Hootchie Bobber.  Hubby told Danae she should buy it someday. She agreed, but that she'd have to change the name.  He said, "To what? The Cootchie Bobber?"  Oh yeah.  Gotta love my completely blunt kind of family.

11.  I'm supposed to meet up with an old HS buddy later this week.  I'm a little nervous--lots of reasons I guess, but the bottom line is that I'm not sure I want her kids to meet my teenagers.  It's that whole appropriateness thing--since I can't ever predict if they'll behave, I'm not sure I want them to go. At the same time, I want hubby to go, which means we take the babies, which doesn't bother me a bit.  They behave like they're supposed to.  The teens, not so much.

On my agenda this week...  more fishing. More swimming.  More hanging with Mom.  More attempting to convince MoMo that swimming is not evil.  More attempting to convince Danae that just because there are no black people here doesn't mean everyone around her doesn't like black people.  More attempting to convince Leigh to pull her $%^&* pants up because we DO NOT want to see her crack while she fishes. 

On the other hand, Hubby and I are on the same shift all week which is oh-so-wonderful.  I miss having him around. I hate second shift.

More later!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Potties I Have Seen, Potties I Might Have Used

People’s potty habits tend to be pretty private. Private and odd. And since I’m traveling right now, I’ve been privy to the habits of several different species of women for the last 28 hours. I’m on a two week vacation that involves what should be two 23 hour road trips with my two toddlers, and two of my other four daughters (ages 15 and 16). The extra five hours are compliments of the two babies, who took a few hours to get into the spirit of things. And by "spirit" I mean, "NO YOU ARE NOT GETTING UP, AND THE LOUDER YOU CRY, THE LOUDER I TURN THE RADIO UP!!!"


But I digress.

Here are some interesting things I have learned about my special family, and other people, as they relate to the use of public restrooms.

1. Danae has no problem with anyone knowing she has to change her tampon. I’m pretty sure I was 26 before I could utter that word in front of anyone else, let alone my dad or siblings. And she didn’t need to pee, just change her tampon. I tried to explain to her that it was definitely TMI, but she said, “Well I don’t have to use the restroom, I just have to change tampons.” At that point I gave up.

2. I close my eyes and hold my breath while flushing. Which only happens if I can use my foot to flush.

3. Lots of people don’t flush. Those are the stalls I don’t go in.

4. I tend to only use the handicapped accessible stalls.

5. If it’s full, I’ll wait.  I like elbow room.  And not hitting my head when I squat.

6. If I can’t use my foot to flush, I get more TP and then chuck it in the toilet while it’s flushing and hope it’s fast enough to make the drain.

7. Some women, (I think they were Muslim), at use cups of water to rinse themselves prior to wiping. They shared the cup by refilling it and passing it under the stall door.  Might have to research that practice.

8. One of those women had uglier feet than me, which made me feel better about my crusty Flintstone Feet. (I was waiting for my Immodium to kick in while observing this one. Apparently my tummy was not up for road food.)

9. Most people are embarrassed by gas in a restroom and will not talk if they are in the act of it.

10. Drunk people, it seems, are not embarrassed by anything in a public restroom. Including talking to someone actively engaged in expelling gas.

11. I go barefoot a lot of places, and will allow my children to do the same, but I draw the line at gas station restrooms.

12. There are a frightening number of people who do not follow the rule above.

13. I am going to start a boycott list of places that do not have changing tables.

14. Changing diapers in the front seat of my new van is an exercise in “Don’t get poo on the seats!”
15. My dog is very interested in pee, especially if it isn’t hers. But then, this is the same beast who eats dirty diapers.

16. Gas station restrooms run the gambit between “barely tolerable,” and, “Oh look!! They have a Pleasure Center on the wall instead of a tampon dispenser!”

17. I saw a girl today finish rinsing her hair after washing it in the sink and progress to drying it under the hand dryer at a rest area. That’s someone desperate for something. But for what I have no idea.

18. No one who has the dispensers for toilet seat covers ever actually has them.

19. And if they do, does anyone else have the problem of them sticking inappropriately?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Writer's Workshop: Poem About Something I'd Like to Forget

I can't get the button to work, but this post is prompted by Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop... join in the writing fun!
___________________________________________________
“Thirty Days Later”

If I loved you
I cried when you left
     If you loved me
     You would have turned back

If I loved you
I’d watch each day for something
     If you loved me
     You’d wonder why I hadn’t begged you

If I loved you
I’d fight the urge to beg you
     If you loved me    
     It would kill you not to hear it

If I loved you
I’d lie awake each night
     If you loved me
     You’d be sleepless too

If you loved me
You’d face me
     And not wonder why the tears 
     dropped from my chin.

One of us has love.
wants it
invited it in
and checked on it each night to
make sure it was sleeping peacefully
before turning in for the night.

     The other one 
     Walked out the door
     Without saying good-bye.
     Or I love you.


(I cheated on this assignment.  I wrote this last year, exactly 30 days after my daughter Dawn ran away the second time. And with Mama Kat's assignment, there are LOTS of things I'd like to forget, but the heartache that went with not knowing where she was AND knowing she didn't want to be with us was nearly unbearable.  So I dusted this one off to share.  Cheers!)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Tonight's Crazy Train, Part 3

We have a hard and fast rule in our house about not lying to our kids.  We may not tell them everything, but we never lie to them.  Even about stuff that we ought to at least sugar coat.  And that actually came up tonight in the midst of my rant--that Danae and Leigh can't trust anyone because of how people always treat them. 

I told her I understood--and even though I haven't walked in their shoes, I really do understand.  Because no matter what Hubby and I do, they don't trust us, and probably never will.  They've never been able to trust anyone.  Both us, frustrated beyond reason about trust, but on different sides of the issue.  And all of us trying to find a way to some common ground.

Much has been made on other blogs and by other bloggers about what it takes to be a good parent, and what it takes to parent special needs kids. And how one should cope with the specialness and craziness that is our lives. I have a friend who’s own mother stalks her blog to document what she thinks her daughter is doing wrong as a parent. There’s another blogger who writes about the kid she never gave up on, and after many years, is seeing the pay off. I have another blog friend who had to shut down her blog because crazy people went after her AND her daughter. What the hell kind of sense does that make?

Parenting special needs kids takes special people. Tonight, I had my own little very special moment. Maybe something will change in me or my kids or our actions. Maybe it won’t.  And realistically, probably it won't.

Do I really think I suck at being a parent? Sometimes. Have I tried EVERYTHING I know to do to help my kids be better than they are? I think so, but if and when something else pops up, I’ll look into that too. Do I still do the best I can with the ones I have? Every day.

Because that’s what being a parent it… it’s riding the crazy train,** and knowing that at some point, it will be better, even if that point is their 17th birthday when they walk out to do things their own way…Like Dawn did.  And loving her anyway.

Rant done. I feel better.

Comments?

**listen to it.  it's not about what you think it is. trust me. it's my theme song.  one of them anyway.

Tonight's Crazy Train, Part 2

I stayed in my room alone for about a half an hour. Hubby had taken over the conversation, responding to their responses to my rant, and I just stayed in my bed, cuddling a big pillow, in my fetal position for about a half hour. Then hubby went back to the living room and it was quiet.


About fifteen minutes later, there was a timid knock at the door. “Who is it?” “Me.” (danae).

I told her to come in. She did.

She crawled in bed behind me and sort of spooned up on me and started playing with my hair. She started talking about all the things that had been frustrating her. I just stayed there. Then Leigh came in, still crying, and apologized. I laughed. "For what?" I asked.  "For being an asshole," she responded.

 I couldn’t help it. She apologizes like this at least twice a week, and then it’s back to the same-old same-old. She laughed too. I'm usually intrigued by what she's apologizing for, which is why I always ask. 

Leigh laid down in front of me, and held my hand.  I told them that no family was perfect, but that it really scared me sometimes how imperfect we were. Leigh asked why. Here’s what I said:

“When Dad and I are dead, I don’t want you guys in fist fights at the funeral. I’d like to be able to die someday knowing you guys will be okay, on your own and as sisters. And not feel like I’d wasted my time.” Leigh was laughing and crying at the same time. Danae was silent, but I think she laughed. I, of course, was still crying because that’s what I do when frustrated. (Actually I cry a lot--anger, frustration, joy, irritation, other people are crying, etc...  it's a ridiculous behavior, but I think it's bio-chemical because I have no control over it.)

We chit-chatted, they tried to convince me to get dressed again (when we came home, I put my comfies on) so Hubby and I could catch the end of the concert. By this time it was 8:30, there’d be no seats left, no way to get dinner or a drink, so I told them it was too late for tonight. They protested, saying Hubby and I needed a night out. I agreed but said, “clearly, we were needed here tonight.”

So now, I have a post-crying jag/hissy fit migraine, a tomato red nose, blood shot looks-like-I’ve- been-stoned-for-a-month eyes and lots of snot. I don’t understand the whole snot thing. But that’s gross, and totally not my point.

My point is this… even after all this, I still love my kids. Angry at them? Yep. Disappointed in them? Yep. Will I still try to have a night out in the future? Yep. Because you never give up hope that someday they’ll get it right.

Tonight's Crazy Train, Part 1

WARNING: This post will not be lovey-dovey. Nor will it contain language you’d be comfortable saying around a pastor or your great aunt Tillie. Unless she hangs around angry, drunk sailors. I’m not drunk, but I wish I was. And I am very, very angry.


Tonight, Hubby and I were supposed to go to a concert together. I won the tickets, Dawn was supposed to babysit, and Leigh and Danae were supposed to help with the babies, so Hubby and I could have a date.

Yeah.

Clearly, if I’m blogging, it didn’t happen. Fuck. I wish I had a time machine.

It started at about 3 PM with Dawn trying to bail so she could go to the movies with Marie. I complained, she realized that you don’t bail on parents when they’re asking for your help to go to a free concert of a top 40 band without their kids.

Then, as we’re leaving, Leigh asks us to unlock the TV. Unlocking the TV means giving them complete access to cable TV and all its variegated glory. No.

We’re pulling out of the driveway, and Danae comes sprinting out of the house, complaining that Leigh called her a fucking bitch and won’t give her the remote so they can turn the TV off. I told her that Leigh had every right to watch TV and to leave her alone.

We’re driving down the street, as I call the house phone. Leigh answers. “What?” Loudly and rudely.
“Since I pay for that phone, you will follow my phone rules. I’m hanging up now, and when I call back, follow them.”

I counted to 20. Dialed. Better answer.

As I’m talking to Leigh about what lead to her sister being a fucking bitch, I hear Danae yelling, “You’re the fucking bitch! Give me the goddamn remote!”

Leigh’s response, “No! Quit being so bossy!” I hear muffled scrapes and grunts, and then Leigh wailing, Dawn trying to separate them. I tell Hubby to turn around. We go home to find Leigh in her room sobbing, Danae cranking up the stereo and Dawn straightening the furniture.

Danae and Leigh had gotten into a fucking FISTFIGHT over the remote. I told Danae to go to her room. She then had the complete lack of sense to argue with me and tell me that it was no wonder Leigh had such fucking problems.

Really? Because for the last nine years, I didn’t know why Leigh was so fucking crazy, because it’s been just SO MUCH fun living with her. Leigh has nothing to take away, so her being in her room is her punishment. I go to Danae’s room and tell her to give me her phone. She told me no, that it’s hers. Okay fine. You paid for half. I’m not going to wrestle. I’ll just turn the damn thing off. If I don’t get to have fun tonight, no one does. I said that out loud as I was walking away. “That’s part of Leigh’s problem, you’re so fucking selfish!”

I go to the living room, call the phone company, shut her phone off, and start cleaning. It was either clean or hurt someone, and I try at all costs to avoid violence. (Keep reading. There’s more of that.)

While I’m on the phone with the phone company, Danae comes out and asks if she can talk to me outside. I said, “I need some time to calm down. Give me a little longer.” She stomps off, “Well at least I can say I tried.”

In my “not my proudest mommy moment”, I called after her, “I didn’t tell you to fuck off! I told you to give me a little bit of time!” As I was saying this, the operator came back on, and we had a very awkward parting conversation.

Two minutes later, Danae storms into the living room. “DID YOU REALLY SHUT OFF MY PHONE?” yes. OHMYGOD THAT’S THE ONLY THING I CARE ABOUT SO YOU TAKE IT AWAY NO MATTER NO ONE WANTS TO LIVE HERE.She stomps to her room. I follow. i’m sorry you feel that way. Is there somewhere else you’d like to be? ANYWHERE BUT HERE! fine. I’ll help you pack.

She spins around and finds me in the doorway, and tries to move me using the door. I told her that it would be a very good idea for her to take two steps backward because going toe to toe with me was not a smart choice. She leaned in and started yelling in my face that we were stupid, that we never punish leigh, that we can’t control her, and generally going over all of our parenting failures. I turned around and walked away.

Why did I walk away?

It was either that, or I was going to hit her. Not just push her backward. I wanted to punch. Fingers curled in, nails digging into my palms, thumbs crossed over my fingers, pointer and middle fingers held as a flat surface… I wanted to punch. I know how to. I've taken karate, but I wasn't passionate about it enough to stick with it.

I joke about wanting to punch people a lot. But I have never actually done it. In my head, though, I could see my fist connecting with her face, and knew I had to turn away.

She slammed and locked her door. I went to clean some more. As I cleaned, I came to this conclusion: As parents, we cannot control our children. All we can do is distract them if they’re young, and guide them as they grow.

And in Danae’s case, she LOVES control. She wants to be the boss. Always. And if she’s not, she gets mean about it.

I went to her room, tried the handle, knocked. When she opened it, I told her that there was no reason to lock her door. I asked her if she was ready to talk, and she rolled over on her bed. Okay, fine, I said. But here’s something you need to think about: ….. then I told her what my conclusion was.

She lit into me. She’s tired of Leigh always getting to do what she wants. She’s tired of never getting to do what she wants. She hates that her stress caused her to fail her classes and lose the one thing she’s always loved: school. She’s tired of me and Hubby not doing anything with Leigh and her behavior.

And I lost it. Nine years of frustrated parenting came spilling out. Among other things I told her are the following (and we were standing outside Leigh’s door, and since I was yelling at the top of my lungs I’m sure the people on the next block heard everything):

I tried this in all caps to emphasize that it was all at the top of my lungs, but it was too hard to read. So I put in reminders....

1. We have tried everything we know to do. Therapy, counseling, meds, absolute control, spankings, more therapy, threats of jail. Everything.


2. And when those didn’t work, we called caseworkers and experts and we were told to hospitalize her. We can’t because she’s not homicidal or suicidal.

3. And when we asked caseworkers for help, we were told to give her back, that we’d done all we could, that they’d put her in a group home and we could get on with our lives.

4. And when we asked the probation officers and the court to lock her up, we were told THAT her crimes (a broken razor blade used for cutting at school and one pot-smoking incident) weren’t enough to lock her up.

5. (and I’m still yelling) And when we adopted Dawn, and then again you(Danae), people told us we were stupid, fucking crazy, out of our minds and out right dumb. And those same people, when they have seen the issues you guys have, they have told us to take your asses back to social services and give you back.

6. (still yelling) but we didn’t. Because real families don’t ever give up on their kids. No matter how crazy, no matter how fucked up, no matter how mean, controlling, bitchy, scary, or just plain bad.

7. And you know why i walked away from you earlier? It’s because I wanted to hit you, but I walked away because I’m not that kind of person. I’ve never hit Leigh or Dawn in anger, and I’ve only actually “hit” dawn in self-defense. Do you have any idea what kind of self control it has taken for nine years not to beat the living shit out of you guys? You drive me batshit crazy and I swallow it and hold it back because I know it won’t do any good.

8. And I’m 38 years old and all I’ve ever really wanted to be was a mom and I fucking suck at it, which is one of the reasons we don’t think we want to keep the babies because if you look at our track record we fucking suck at being parents and we don’t want to set these babies up for failure because they deserve better than this. (Still yelling, now gesticulating like the crazed ranting Italian mama I am.)

9. So Danae, if you think you’re frustrated at being in this family, imagine how it feels to be us, knowing there’s not a fucking thing we can do to make it better. (Done yelling.)

At that point I turned around, and went in my room, and put my head into my pillow and cried. I didn’t lock my door, but I did slam the hell out of it.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up June 27

Here's my life. All summed up with neat little captions. Too bad the real thing isn't the same way!!

Playing with Dolls: So I’m in Barnes and Noble Thursday night and end up having the following text conversation with my hubby:

HIM: How much can I bid on a Steve Austin doll?
ME: Are you serious?
HIM: Yes. A man has needs. Steve Austin doll is one of those needs. How much?
ME: No more than $50.
HIM: Does that include shipping?
       (((ME, in my head, OMG, he’s serious.)))
ME: Yes.
       (((Ten minutes pass)))
HIM: I won. It only took me 34 years to get one.
It ended up costing $33 with shipping. Now I’m not picking on my hubby’s Ebaying while sick. And I will never. Because the last time I had surgery I played on the internet under the influence of serious painkillers and anesthesia, and he almost had to change his phone number and my email account still hasn’t forgiven me.
But a doll?
We have SIX daughters.
And never have we purchased a doll.
That just feels wrong, but I love him anyway.
Plus, I’m wondering if the Steve Austin Doll has the cool removable skin flaps that show the bionic stuff underneath like my Jamie Sommers Doll did.
Oh, and when I told Danae, who was stalking me at the bookstore, what Hubby had done, she asked, “Who’s Steve Austin?”
Worst Problem Solving Skills:  I think I've written about this before, but here goes anyway.  When Danae has a bad day, or disagrees with me about something I’ve said or done, she rants and bitches. By text. She quits talking out loud and starts texting. She had some doozies this week, and then got upset because I just stopped responding to them. “Fine then, I just won’t ever respond when you text me. See you you like that.” When I reminded her of the basic “If I pay for it you damn well better answer it rule” she pouted, but quit complaining.
And speaking of texting…
       HUBBY: I just birthed a brown submarine.
       ME: I’ll be sure to blog that.
And so I have.

Housework Hell: I realize I’m not the first person to rant about housework, but damn. We live in a small house (less than 1100 square feet). There are six of us here. We share one bathroom, a small kitchen, and a living room that doubles as a dining room, because the babies have the dining room.
I do not know where all this damn clutter comes from, but I keep trying to kill it, and it’s like someone’s feeding it Miracle Grow behind my back.
One thing I am grateful for is that I don’t have carpet. As much crap as I sweep up three times a day, I can’t imagine how bad that would suck if I had to vacuum that often.
And why does it seem like my room is the only room in the house that never gets fully clean? And when the rest of the house is clean, our bedroom is a pithole? Ugh. I suck at organization.
Another Reason People Think I’m Crazy: Being a bad weather junkie, I love hearing that we’re under severe weather alerts. That, and we need a new roof and have old trees in the yard. Bit I digress. What really irks my nerves is that every time I get excited about the clouds brewing in the distance, and I hear the rumble, and smell the rain, it always blows just north or just south, or peters out before we get it. Happened again recently. We even moved vehicles under the car port to avoid the quarter-sized hail we were supposed to get. Had my camera and umbrella ready….. and no storm. Sigh. Such a letdown. Not even good lightning. Not even rain. Crap.
More Bad Timing: So Hubby is sick. Like had an xray, now has to have a CAT scan, double the antibiotics and steroids sick. At first it was bronchitis. Now they don’t know what it is because his lymph nodes made an appearance at his Xray. Thanks to the specialness that is our family, he has no sick days left, and no personal days. On a happier note, his vacation was approved from July 9th through July 20th. A week of that is paid, so we were sweating it a bit, but not a ton. Now that he is on a physician-ordered leave of absence, we’re looking at two weeks of unpaid time in July, instead of just one. Ugh. That’ll make back to school shopping in August so much fun.
MoMo on the Move: The toddler has discovered two new talents this week. Nudity and mockery. Sometimes at the same time. I was sitting on the sofa, typing and started laughing because the dog started licking my ear. MoMo climbed up next to me, titled her head like mine was, and wiggled until the dog licked her ear too. We’ve also discovered that if we don’t keep pants on over her diaper, she takes the diaper off.
NaNa in the News: She is also sick. Coughing. Mid-level fever. Very, very cranky. She had shots Thursday, and had the same reaction then. Poor kid. Shots suck. Oh and she is actively rolling over now.
Miracle of Minor Proportions: Dawn has finally scraped enough money together to pay her $250 fine from two years ago and attempt to get a driver’s license. She asked me today if I would take her Monday to handle it. I agreed. I’m such a loser mom, and chauffeur. But then realized later that the DMV is closed on Mondays. And she has to have an appointment to handle her license. HAHAHAHAHA!
Most Interesting Cultural Experience of the Week: Danae, being mixed, identifies herself more as black or Hispanic than white. So most of her friends and her current girlfriend are black. Current girlfriend, along with two aunts, a great aunt, a sister, and seven cousins all came over to our house Saturday night for a cookout. All of them black. In our very (mostly) white neighborhood. I came out with a bag of ice to find them all doing the “bus stop” in front of the bonfire. I’m pretty sure no one has ever done the bus stop in our neighborhood. But after some drinks, burnt hotdogs and conversation, a good time was had by all, and theories and ideas were traded and dissected.
Things I’ve learned this week:
  1. When the poo is the same color as the baby, there will always be more, and will always end up on your hand.
  2. When you are running up against a deadline, things will always take longer than you want.
  3. Toddlers will, no matter what, pee in the water. At least twice.
  4. Anti-viral meds are AMAZING against cold sores. I will never suffer again.  And the meds were cheaper than the Abreva!!
  5. Making car salesmen wait can have advantageous results.
Add a Stanza Saturday, and other questions: Should I keep it or ditch it? How do you get more people to read your blog? Any suggestions for better blogging?

*************************************************************** 
And that's it.
More summer heat and beach fun, along with doctor's appointments and hopefully a WORKING minivan will be a part of the next week.

Be nice, and stay cool!

(Gotta run... TrueBlood is on!)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Add a Stanza Saturday

Add a stanza to the verse below, and see what happens.  I only had one participant last time I did this, so I'm going for 100% improvement in blog involvment....which means only TWO of you need to respond.... 

I wish I could get paid to write,
it never would get old;
But life and kids and bills to pay
just seem to stop me cold.

In the comment section, add your stanza.  

The more the merrier! If I keep doing it, maybe I can get a nifty button to share.... 

Happy weekend!

Things that Do Not Go Together

Root beer floats and margaritas.

Babies and colds.

100 degree heat and yardwork.

Night owl parents and early morning babies.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Head Butting and Herpes

Yes, I have mouth herpes.  Fever blisters. Cold sores. Whatever you call them, it's all herpes.  And I have it.  Have had it, in fact, for as long as I can remember.  (Go on with the teasing, I've heard it all.  Go on. I'll wait.)

Are you done?  Good. 

Anyhoo.  I have one coming in on the bottom left lip.  I put Abreva on it this morning, and went on my merry way.

That was, however, before MoMo didn't get a nap today.  A 20 month old should never have a nap withheld. For any reason. Especially one so lame as "social services couldn't get their heads out of their asses long enough to schedule bio-mom's supervised visits around naptime." 

When I got to day care to pick up the babies, MoMo saw me, burst into tears, and ran across the room into my arms.  She cried herself to sleep in the car.

When we got home, I tried to rock her, and she didn't want any of that, letting me know by rearing back her head and clocking me square in the mouth.  My teeth still hurt.

And now, both my lips, top and bottom, all over, have that tingly "you're gonna get a fever blister" feeling.  Sores on both lips in late June in summer heat. NO. FREAKIN. FAIR.  And nothing really prevents them or makes them go away. They are just flat miserable. 

And all because some caseworker did not take my "DO NOT MESS WITH NAPTIME" admonition seriously. 

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

When you make the therapist cry...

When you make the therapist cry, is it a good thing or a bad thing? 

As my hoardes of readers know, Leigh is a bit of a pistol, and we've been put in court-ordered family therapy.

Today was our second session, and she left in tears. 

We'd played a therapy game where we had to make a bunch of popsicle sticks stay in a stack on top of  a cup, without talking or communicating.  Leigh purposely made it hard by placing her sticks awkwardly when it was her turn to put a stick on the stack. 

In the processing, it was noted by Hubby, me, and Danae that Leigh often does things to intentionally make things harder or worse. 

Then, we all had to write on a piece of paper how we saw Leigh.  Then we had to share what we wrote. 

After everyone read, the therapist was out the door in less than two minutes, tears in her eyes.  The statements we read were the standard "we love you no matter what wish you wouldn't make it so hard" kinds of things....

I don't  know if I'm proud of the fact that we made her cry, or ashamed, or worried... or a fun combination of all three.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Weekly Wrap-up, June 20

Here's the week.  Nothing spectacular.  Just us and general crazies...

Funniest Moment at our Children’s Expense: I get random emails from http://www.freebizmag.com/, a website that helps market magazines to specific target audiences, based on the professions of the readers. Occasionally, they’ll throw a free subscription at you for something totally not related to your job… Like me as an English teacher with an offer for a year of Auto World or Opera Today.  Or Maxim. On a whim, I agreed to the most recent Maxim sales pitch, thinking Hubby might like it. When it arrived, he was a little perplexed and said, “Do you really want me reading this?” I said, well, if you don’t like it, Danae might.” He stopped, looked puzzled, had an AHA! Moment, and laughed. “Sometimes I forget that whole ‘she’s gay’ thing.” I related the conversation to Danae later, and she laughed, saying, “I’m glad me coming out has freed up so many jokes for you and Dad.”

 
New Favorite Website: http://www.textsfromlastnight.com/. Have you see this? I laughed until I cried, and then laughed some more. Some of them depress me a little, but to think that A. People do that stuff, B. They tell other people they do that stuff C. Then they post it to share with others, is just astonishing. It’s like watching a bad break up argument at the mall—you want to stop watching, but you just can’t bring yourself to do it.

Boot Camp Mom Update: Leigh is still not happy with her new life this summer. She has to read everyday, do her chores and keep her room clean or she gets no freedom. We tried to make a bargain with her last week, putting off a chore on the promise she’d do it as soon as we got home. It’s still undone as we speak, and she’s still pouting about having to do it with a sunburn.

 
But sweetie, I explained, you managed to do work detail yesterday with a sunburn.

 
Her: I had to, or I’d go to jail.

 
Me: Hmmmm, maybe I’ll talk to PO about that Monday, to see if we can add chores to that list.

 
Leigh was not happy.

 
Catching up with old friends… I talked to two of my best friends from my youth—my best friend from HS and my best friend from college, all in the same night this week. I guess Karma decided since I was feeling all sentimental and emotional (see graduation discussion next), that it was time to reconnect with some of my youth. NK, my bestie from HS, has a beautiful three-year old daughter, and a full head of hair after battling cancer for the last two years. She has the sweetest, most gentle spirit of anyone I have ever known, and I remember being irate and pissed and furious when I heard that she had cancer. This is a woman who has battled the odds her whole life, and just when she’s finally getting what she deserves in life—a good marriage, a daughter (she’d been told it would be unlikely that she’d be able to have a child), cancer showed up. That just flat drove me nuts. But then my own craziness interfered, and I wasn’t able to “be there” for her at all during her fight. But, NK, if you’re reading this, I thought of you every day, and prayed for you and your family. You amaze me.

 
JS, my bestie from college is doing what he always wanted to do: decorate and play piano. He has a partner and an amazing home and is just fabulous.

 
I miss both of them. Especially after…

 
Graduation of the Class of 2010     Of the 243 young adults we graduated, I taught 147 of them. Some of them are astonishing simply because of their tenacity. I’m going to tell you some of their stories.
  • DP lived in a car with his dad for three years after his mom took off with her crack dealer.
  • CJ lost her dad and grandma when she was 12, and her mom two weeks before prom. Her brother, now her guardian, is deployed in Afghanistan.  
  • KL has never met her dad, and her mom died her tenth grade year in an industrial explosion.
  • CB and AB, two of a set of triplets walked with their dad, mom and two other brothers, from Central America when they were about 7. Walked. Say what you will about illegal immigration, but how do you turn your back on that. Plus, AB is legally deaf.
  • AW, profoundly deaf since birth, is on her way to art school.

My school has about five public housing project that feed into it, so we're overcoming all kinds of socioeconomic issues to get these kids through HS. 
 
Of that 143, I can only count about ten that I know for sure have been raised by both mom and dad in their home.

 
Of that 143, I know two who have had abortions, and three who have children.

 
Of that 143, most have worked part time, and lots have done so to help parents pay bills.

 
Most don’t read on grade level, but they have managed to survive high school and all the drama that goes with it, along with personal obstacles I can’t even begin to fathom.

 
Parenting Question of the Week: Is it wrong to have different expectations for our kids? How do you get the RAD kid, and the mostly normal kid, to understand that they have to meet different expectations because of their differing levels of sanity? Is this wrong? How is should be? Should we give up on dealing with the RAD and just normal her to death? Ugh. I hate existential conversations when I’m supposed to be on vacation.

 
Weight loss—YAY ME!!! The capris I bought yesterday were two sizes smaller than the ones I bought at the beginning of the school year.

 
Last Minute Planning Grump Why is it that even when I try to plan ahead, no one is with me, but when I don’t try, everyone else has?? Hubby and I have been planning a 2000 mile road trip since January, scheduled to depart July 8. We still don’t know if his vacation time has been approved. I’m starting to get a bit pissy about that. And, I want to hang with my blog buddy while she’s traveling this summer, but I can’t find a place to stay near her for less than $100 that still has hot water and AC. Ugh.

 
Snarky Me Moment:  I emailed my dad a Happy Father's Day wish. I haven't spoken to him since August, at his dad's funeral (my favorite grandpa.) Prior to that, it had been almost two years.  I enclosed updated pics of the two daughters he's met, and picks of the four he hasn't, including the babies, who have a much, much better tans than I do.  I didn't warn him that his newest grandchildren are black.  I wish I could see his face when he sees the pictures, but I'll just have to imagine it, which might be more fun...
 
Recess!! It’s officially summer, and the smut reading and spring cleaning has begun! If you know a teacher, you know that as the year drags on, the cleanliness and organization of the house slowly tanks, and that the first few weeks of summer, everything gets caught up on and done. That starts Monday!

 
And in honor of summer, I am now reading total brain candy: Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Cruisie.

The coming week:  WIC, foster care paper work AGAIN (they lost several months' worth of invoices during all the caseworker shuffles), eye doc and dentist. Finalizing summer travel plans.

 
Woot!!

 

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Natural consequences or a subsitute for cutting?

Today was blissful. It almost makes up for tonight. I took the teenagers to the beach, and as much as they are capable, they behaved. We saw dolphins and pelicans, a cute baby in a shark suit, and floated in the light waves chit-chattin about not much of anything. Danae held her sharp tongue in check most of the afternoon, and Leigh worked at being appropriate. Except where sunscreen is concerned. It was 96 degrees today. In the shade of my carport, with a light breeze. You can imagine what the temp was in the unrelenting sunniness of the beach. It was hot. I, being of Italian and Cherokee descent, could feel my skin baking through my SPF 60. Danae, who is 25% black, 50% Hispanic and 25% other, just got browner. Leigh, who's dark side only accounts for 25% of her genetic background, is not so lucky as to turn brown right away. She turns magenta. Painfully, painfully deep pink. Then peels. Then turns brown. I used my suncreen. Danae doesn't ever need it, and Leigh, who knows she needs it, refused it... despite the motherly warnings and reminders about the last time she didn't use it. And when one refuses to wear sunscreen, one must pay the inevitable consequence: Painful sunburn all over her chest, arms and face. Then tonight, as I was doing my chores and nagging at the whiningly red Leigh to do hers, these thoughts crossed my mind:
  1. Leigh is on probation.
  2. Leigh's probation is through juvenile mental health court.
  3. Mental health court has ruled that self-harm is not allowed.
  4. Leigh hasn't cut since being on probation, but she has done other things that "hurt," but that don't constitute cutting.
  5. Could this be one of them?
Let's look at the evidence. In the past six months, since the entrance of the court in our lives, Leigh (who tests borderline gifted) has:
  1. Cut off all her hair and some of her eyebrows (and "accidentally" some skin) with an eyebrow shaper razer stolen from my room
  2. Pierced her lip, nose and both ears--with pins and earrings she had in her bedroom
  3. When those piercings got infected after we made her take them out, she had lots to pick at.
  4. Purposely worn too small shoes to the point of blisters.
Hmmmm.... I guess I'll add this to the ever expanding list of behaviors to discuss with the therapist, and practice my aim with the spray sunscreen. Because let's face it, finding a babysitter for a 15 year old RAD kid is impossible on the very best of days.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What a day, or why I have a lumpy forehead

From 4 PM until about 9:30, I had a really crappy day. At 4, we had a caseworker visit. This was our first of what are supposed to be monthly visits with our new caseworker. This is caseworker number 9 since January, and while we've never met in person, we've talked on the phone. She remembers me from Dawn's adoption, but I don't remember her. (And since January, she's only the second caseworker to do the home visit.) Caseworker visits are to make sure that A. the kids are alive and well. B. the home is reasonably safe. C. the home is reasonable clean and D. the chaos is at least contained. We chit-chat. It was going well. Then she asks to see the babies' room. We walk in, I yoink the cord to turn the light on, and the soccer ball-sized, thick glass globe from the light fixture falls off, bounces off my forehead, and lands in the laundry basket. While I'm holding NaNa. A friend of mine who dropped by, trying to be helpful said, "It knew you just finished the school year and that it was time to be dusted!" Yeah, that went well. There's an imprint of the globe's striped pattern on my forehead and a large lump. And it's 11:08 PM and I still have a headache. Ugh. So then, there was in-home therapy at 6:15 PM--our first home visit with our third therapist since October. Today, I asked Danae to keep the babies in her room, while I worked with the therapist and Leigh, since this is court ordered for Leigh. Five minutes into our session, my phone starts ringing. I kill the sound and ignore it. Then the house phone rings, so I kill the phone again. We're in therapy here, people! Stop calling. And the only people who would do that would be one of my children, my husband or my brother. It was Danae, calling from her bedroom. She wants me to bring her a drink. But I don't know this until she stomps into the kitchen, slings open the the fridge and grabs a drink, pausing only to say in that level of sarcasm that only teens can exude, "Thanks so much for answering the phone, Mom." We're. In. Therapy. DUH!! One does NOT answer the phone while in THERAPY! After the therapist leaves, I ask Danae what her malfunction is. Her: She'd only been there five minutes, and it's not therapy for you anyway. Besides, the baby could have been choking and died and you wouldn't know it because you didn't answer the phone. Me: I'm pretty sure you'd have been yelling. Her: Whatever mom. Wait! Is that a win for me? I think it is!!! YYYYYEEEEEESSSSSSSSS!!! Point for me! Lumpy forehead and all!!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Odd How We Measure Progress

Once upon a time, 2002 to be exact, our daughter Leigh was crazy. She still is but in different ways, or in differently manifested ways. Here's a look at past and present, in order to measure progress: Then, we had to take all her furniture, including her mattress out of her room. (She had a blanket and a pillow.) This because everything became objects to use to hurt us with, or had been destroyed. I didn't know a seven year old could dismantle a dresser, and by dismantle, I mean destroy. All drawers in pieces, the frame literally shredded. In just a day. Now, she has furniture. It's grubby, but it's there and functional. And she's had it for more than a year. Then, we had to board over her windows and closet door. This because she was trying to punch her way through the glass of the windows, and had climbed to the top shelf of her closet and was playing with the light bulb socket. She had also ripped out the chair rails out of the walls with her bare hands and was using them to beat holes in the drywall, and we were afraid she'd do the same to the windows or the wall of her closet...behind which lie the plumbing to our home's only bathroom. Now, she has windows and a closet. The windows are bolted shut and the closet has no door, but it does have *some* clothing hanging appropriately in it. Then, she had no toys in her room because: A.) She'd destroyed most of them. B.) She'd use them to throw at us C.) She'd use them to destroy other things D.) She used them for a form of stress relief that starts with M and rhymes with perturbation. E.) All of the above. The answer is E. Now, she has some "stuff." A few books. A beat up stereo. Lots of pens, pencils and paper. Makeup and perfume. Lotions. A few decorations picked up at yard sales and Goodwill. Still beaten pretty hard, but most of it used appropriately. Then, she'd rage for hours until she passed out from exhaustion. Now, she just sleeps or eats when she's bothered or upset. Then, she'd pee, poop and vomit in her room ON PURPOSE and hide it. (Nasty story: The worst was when she managed to shove some under her boarded up closet door. We couldn't find the smell for weeks. It was gross. Just gross.) Now, she only has what we euphemistically call "hygeine issues." (Based on her refusal to make friends with this stuff we call "soap" at our house. However, this summer on Mom Bootcamp, we are addressing them. Then we had attachment therapy, play therapy, bi-weekly lunch sessions with a school counseling, a therapist, lots of family friends, a psychiatrist and meds. Now, we have two probation officers, in home and at school therapy, special school placement, a psychiatrist and meds. Very few family friends have survived our adoption, but the ones we have we know are the real deal. Then, she'd eat things she found on the sidewalk, attempt to smoke dropped cigarette butts off the street, and sampled drywall, carpet, rocks and most of her toys. Now, she eats any food she can find, and smokes anything she can find. Then, we attended church, and thought we had a good support system. Then, we also thought we had a good grasp on what we needed to do as parents. Now, we don't go to church, because having that support system means having to tell too many people too many stories and being judged way too much. Then, she had no friends. Now, she has no friends. ____________________________________ It's a really strange concept for normal families to grasp that an appropriate goal for an adopted child with issues could be "Leigh will not use her bedroom for a toilet in anger." For an adoptive family of a kid with issues, it's just another day at home. It's name is RAD, or mental illness, or, as one therapist explained it 'holes in her heart.' Either way, it's no fun, and all you can do is hope that, in the end, the progress you've seen is worth it. ___________________________________________ Inspired by today's post at This Work Stinks... Hang in there Mom! You're doing a great job!