Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas, Not What We Expect, But Good

Yesterday Mr. I said that Christmas wasn't what he expected.

Well, when is it what a thirteen year old expects? Many thirteen year old kids are too old for toys, too picky, too self absorbed, and too young to understand the joy of giving and the true meaning of Christmas.

And it is especially difficult for a thirteen year old who has experienced so much disappointment in his life, especially in the past month, a thirteen year old who has a difficult time regulating his emotions, who has trouble with attaching to his adoptive family, and who has been exposed to drug an alcohol before he was born.

I don't know what he expected, but I know what I expected. And I'm glad I didn't get it, for the most part. I expected a pretty rocky Christmas. But even though there has been a bit of over-stimulation, dysregulation, and selfishness, things have really gone well. Oh, we've had our share of bumps, but our family has rolled with the punches.  Some of the older siblings have shown more patience than I have!

Now for the good!

We had a lovely time with the family. The kids and grandson liked getting together. There wasn't the drama that happens in many families. My kids helped each other out and cared for each other. I can't tell you the joy I have because my kids love each other.

We exchanged small or handmade gifts. I love the pictures of my grandson, the Chariots of Fire movie, the butter dish that I wanted, and a cute succulent arrangement that one of my daughters-in-law made.

Oh, and how can I forget the old pictures of my dad and family sent from my sister and other old pictures scanned and put on a zip drive by one of my daughters?

There were other blessings too. One of our taillights burned out, and the police officer that stopped us didn't give me a fix-it-ticket because he had a priority call. We made it home safely in the dark and rain. One of my daughters stepped through a ceiling this evening, yet she didn't hurt herself. She stepped through a part of the ceiling that needed to be repaired anyway. It wasn't bad enough to bother to fix it before, yet it really should have been done. So now we have a good excuse to repair it. We've had other unexpected expenses, yet we've also had unexpected blessings.

This Christmas season, though not what I or my son expected, has really been good.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Santa's Workshop

Christmas Eve is almost over. It was better than I expected. I think it really helped the kids to have had our main Christmas celebration a few days ago. They were able to handle all the holiday excitement better when it was spread over a few days. There still is a little dysregulation, but not as bad as I had anticipated. I'll have to remember this in future years.

Earlier this evening we went to a church a few our our kids go to for their Christmas Eve candlelight (glow stick) service. It was good for the kids to be reminded just why we celebrate Christmas. Well, it was good for me too! We also got to sit next to our daughter-in-law and her parents. It was good to spend a little time together.

Afterwards, we had a quiet evening of watching a cheesy Christmas movie, listening to Christmas music, and making gifts.

 Hubby, Mr. I, and I all worked on the same table.

 Mr. I made a gingerbread house.

Hubby made chocolate. Yum!

 And I made two pairs of pajamas. I didn't wrap them, but gave them straight to the recipients. I would like to make more, but it doesn't all have to be done at once. After all, we are having a Christmas season! Santa's Workshop can be open for at least a couple more weeks, right?

Christmas Past

Microbio Daughter was looking through pictures and found these of my two oldest girls and niece on Christmas, 1993.

Why the glum faces? It won't hurt you to smile for a picture!

OK, that's better!

Cousin Fun!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Early Christmas!

Now that a few of our kids are adults and getting married, it's getting a bit harder to schedule holidays together. Fortunately, our family is pretty flexible. And what kid would complain about getting Christmas presents a few days ahead of time? It really worked well this year that we had our main Christmas get together Friday.

 Grandson had a fun time trying to do tricks like his Uncle, Mr. I.
After a big meal, we opened some gifts.

Grandson wasn't too sure about the big stuffed elephant at first, but loved it after he had others put it on their laps. If it's safe for Grandpa to hold it, it should be safe for him, right?

We ended the night with a birthday cake for all the December birthday boys, including Jesus!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Poor Brewster

Brewster had a long day today. It was the day of  The Big Operation.

We took him to an awesome spay and neuter clinic in Fremont, called For Paws. It's a nonprofit place that is run by people that absolutely love animals.  The woman in the second picture is one of the workers there. She explained every possible question we would have. She even answered Mr. I's question about why Brewster's eyes were watery. He thought Brewster was crying. But the woman explained that it was a cream that they put on his eyes so that they wouldn't dry out during the surgery. I was so thankful that everyone there was so patient and kind.

The veterinarian was the artist who painted the walls. Aren't they cute?
I loved the waiting room!

Checking to see if Brewster was waiting for us behind the door.  He was!

Resting when we came back home.

Poor Brewster! He has to wear the Cone of Shame when we aren't right next to him. He's feeling better this evening, though, and I'm so thankful. Mr. I and Ms. D were so worried about Brewster today. They regressed a lot. But as the anesthesia wore off, the kids calmed down. I'm glad I realized their behaviors had an underlying cause. It's easier to be patient when you know the trigger.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Shocking Realization in the Middle of the Night

Yesterday I took Ms. D to the doctor to check for a UTI. She didn't have one, but the doctor who saw her spent extra time with Ms. D alone, sent her to talk to a clinical health educator , and then to get some more tests done in the lab. I wasn't worried about pregnancy, since Ms. D has been pretty well supervised, but I couldn't figure out why the Dr. looked so concerned...

...Until just after two this morning when I woke up with a start with the thought, "They are worried about anorexia!" They haven't talked to me at all, yet it all came together in the middle of the night. She has been sleeping a lot, is listless when she is awake, and cold. She is a very picky eater and doesn't eat much, which I told the doctor in the summer during Ms. D's last appointment. The doctor wasn't concerned then, because Ms. D's weight was still in the healthy range. But it really concerned the doctor on call yesterday. Ms. D didn't remember all that the health educator said, but she did say that she was asked about whether she is seeing a therapist. Ms. D has, but she doesn't talk to the current one because she "doesn't like her." It takes awhile for Ms. D to warm up to most people.

So today I need to take Ms. D to get a blood test, since it was too late in the day to get it done yesterday. I've got a long list of things to do, while I was eating my breakfast the dog ate something that made him vomit, and I'm a bit sleep deprived from worrying about my girl in the middle of the night. But I'm still hopeful that today will get better, and that we may finally get to the bottom of Ms. D's lethargy.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Fur Baby Scare

One of my sons and his wife had a scare today. Their kitty was having a hard time breathing and was turning cyanotic, so she rushed Mushu to the veterinarian. My son was stranded at work and needed to go be with his wife, as she was waiting to see if it was terminal congestive heart failure or something not quite as bad. So I had the privilege of helping them out. It isn't often I get to help my adult children, and I love it when I have the chance to do it. Feeding them is right up there too! No matter how old they are, I'll always be their mom.

Oh, and Mushu kitty is doing better this evening and was able to come home. She had some sort of allergic/asthma reaction and has pneumonia too. She should get well, though now they have to do some detective work.  Fortunately, my daughter-in-law is studying respiratory therapy, so of all the kids, she is the most qualified.

There are lessons to learn from this experience. It helps to remember that life is short and precious. We need to let others know we love them. It's good to help each other out and ask when we need help ourselves. Sometimes experiencing crises helps a person to be a better caregiver to someone else, more compassionate, and more aware of what others are going through.

I pray that whatever was meant for harm will be turned to good. God is good at doing that kind of thing.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thinking on the Good Things

I was getting a bit depressed over the horrible events this past week. It's easy to find evil in this world, but there is also good.

I found a video of a family who adopted special needs kids, and it brings tears of joy to my eyes.

I saw another video of some kids who live in a garbage dump in Paraguay who make beautiful music out of recycled garbage.

I'm looking at articles about the heroes in the shootings, the people who saved, comforted, and have compassion in such horrible tragedies.

I'm finding beauty in art, music, and nature.

I'm hugging my kids more, appreciating my family, and showing love is more of a priority.
I'm rejoicing that one of my sons had his orientation to nursing school this week, that one of my daughters is getting impatient with finishing school so that she can become a teacher, and that all of my kids are really doing well. Even the little ones have been doing better the last few days, and have become more attached and huggy. I like hugs! I have so much to be thankful for!

I can't let evil cloud my vision. There is a lot of good in this world.

Armchair Diagnoses

After the shootings this past week, many people, even "experts", have come forth with conclusions of why the young men would shoot innocent strangers. We all want answers, and people will have various insights because of their education or experiences. I can understand people suggesting certain reasons be looked into by those closest to investigations. I've done that myself. But what concerns me are the people who jump to conclusions and go on air or on line with misinformation. It will be difficult for investigators to piece together a motive since the shooters aren't there anymore to be examined. Many people will have to be interviewed to see what went horribly wrong. It isn't something that can be done in an hour in time for prime time news. And the experts should know better.

I have had others make those kind of quick diagnoses. It really bothered me when both a psychologist and a neurologist told me in the past year that Ms. D didn't "look FAS." They made that conclusion by what they saw at first glance and missed some obvious signs, at least obvious to me. They didn't spend time looking at pictures from before puberty, when some features of FAS fade, examine her carefully enough to see the features that are still present, take into consideration that FAS looks different in different races, go over her growth history, or a positive admission by the birth family that her mother drank. The psychologist even said that Ms. D didn't have small ears, so she couldn't be FAS. It was obvious to me that the psychologist didn't even look at her ears, because they are small. I then started to tell her some of the features that led the kids' doctor to diagnose Ms. D with FAS. I am pretty confident that the doctor, who cared for many foster children, was correct. To have others ignore me and flippantly say otherwise is foolish. Worse yet, it sometimes might keep Ms. D from getting the correct type of help.

In a way, my experience has helped me to be more careful in the advice I do give. A friend told me a story about her daughter which made me suspect autism. It's pretty common in Silicon Valley, and I know a lot of people with that diagnosis who act in similar ways. I suggested she go to her doctor, tell the same story, and see if they could evaluate the girl. It was autism, but there were other things that it could have been. I could have been wrong. Only a thorough testing procedure could verify my hunch.

Many times, armchair diagnoses are wrong. They can lead people in wrong directions and cause unnecessary grief. The best thing I can do is when people ask, to tell them my opinion. But that it is only an opinion and needs to be thoroughly checked out by someone who really knows what they are doing. And if something doesn't seem right, if someone seems in a rush or doesn't seem to know what they are saying, then get another opinion.

I hope that the investigators figure out why those young men in the news did what they did. But the answers, if they do come, will take time.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Giving My Kids (and Friends) Extra Hugs

My heart breaks for the people in Connecticut today because of the elementary school shooting. I just can't wrap my mind around so many children and helpers of children losing their lives in such a senseless way. I can't even begin to understand the grief their family members are experiencing right now. I pray that God will comfort them and hold them in His arms.

Yet here, across the country, I need to help my kids deal with the news of the tragedy. At first I tried to hide it from them, yet soon realized that it didn't take long for them to figure it out. Kids with traumatic histories, who already have a lot of fear, are pretty observant, and yet have a difficult time dealing with violent news. PTSD is a strange thing, and traumatic events seem to accumulate, at least with my kids. Hubby and I talked a little about what happened, about how they are safe and have people taking care of them. I thought the conversation calmed their fears, until Mr. I pulled out a knife during our daily walk to show Ms. D and me that he'd keep us safe from anyone who would harm us. It looks like we'll have to have some more conversations, doesn't it?

A friend of mine posted an article about how to talk to your children about traumatic events.  It is good advice, and I'm glad to see that I've been able to follow most of this advice so far. Sometimes I wonder whether I'm doing the right thing or not. It's good to be reassured.

This week we've had two mass shootings, one at the mall that my relatives barely missed. So I'm a bit numb myself. Yet I need to stay calm and collected for the kids, and save the tears for later. I gave my teacher friend across the street an extra big hug and will be sure to pray for all the teachers, students, and parents who haven't been affected directly, yet are rocked by the tragedy.

And most of all, I've been giving my kids extra hugs today and thank God they are safe.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Just When I Thought...

Just when I thought Mr. I was regressing more than I could handle and was pushing us away, and just when I thought I was failing as a mother, Mr. I did a major turnaround.

People must have been praying, because his attitude changed 180 degrees while I wasn't even home.

I went with some of my homeschool moms to bless a friend who has cancer. It was actually supposed to be a surprise, but it wasn't. And that was just fine, since I think my friend kind of enjoyed tricking us back. It was good for me to get away from the pressures at home and talk to adults about something other than my kids and how they are doing. I know that if I had, I would have broken down crying, and that wouldn't have been very uplifting for anyone. We told funny stories and I laughed until I cried. Yes, I couldn't avoid the tears, but happy tears are a lot better than sad tears, especially when we all needed some cheering up.

But the real miracle was when I came home. Mr. I asked me how my time went with the other moms. He did his schoolwork that he didn't do earlier in the day. He did cool dances and had us watch. Mr. I was peaceful and didn't ask to go out and buy something. He ate my food, even though it was cheap pizza that I picked up on the way home. Mr. I didn't come home telling us he got into a fight. He looked into my eyes, said he loved me, and asked for a good night prayer.

What was amazing is that this all happened after I left him and his sister alone in the house for a couple of hours. I was only five minutes away and could have hurried home in an emergency, but lately Mr. I has been fearful of me leaving him to walk the dog in the neighborhood. When I left, he was fearful, resistant to schoolwork, and showed signs of anxious attachment. But when I came back, he was attached, enjoyed being with the family, and was fun to be around. This change didn't happen after an afternoon of intensive attachment parenting. It didn't happen because of anything I did. I don't know why he healed so quickly, but it's pretty nice.

How to Respond to Stupid Comments

I am fortunate that I've only received encouraging comments about what I've wrote on this blog from people. Blessed, you have been a blessing to me during some of my darkest times this past year. I sometimes reread your comments when I feel down. Others too, have been an encouragement. I realize that in opening up my heart, and writing thoughts, fears, and actions down, I am also opening myself up to judgement. I am far from perfect, and make bad choices, struggle with my attitudes, and can get discouraged easier than I'd like. I take the chance of exposing myself so that I can process my journey, and maybe help and encourage others who are struggling in theirs. It has been a source of growth in my life, sort of a open book journal.

Yesterday I commented on a news article about a young man who killed two people and badly hurt another in a mall near my relatives' homes in Oregon. The article stated that the man was raised by his aunt and that no one saw it coming. Of course, given my experience of FASD, I asked if someone could research why his aunt raised him, and if there was a possibility of FASD. I didn't say much at all about my kids, other than to say my kids had FASD too. I especially was concerned because of the Fatal Link book I read last summer that linked many school shootings to FASD. I did this in maybe three sentences.

This was one person's reply:
You have negative thoughts about those children and you are the one raising them..
My advise is put the book down and love those children..

 I don't know how to best respond to this comment. Oh, I've already replied to him, telling him he has no idea how much I love my kids and how I've loved them even though living with someone with FASD isn't easy. My heart breaks when I see them struggle every day with the effects of fetal alcohol and past trauma. I'm satisfied with how I responded to his comment.

But what I am struggling with is how I can respond in my heart, to have a thicker skin, to not let such an obvious lie hurt. I don't know how others do it. It's easy for me to take it from my kids, who say hurtful things when they are dysregulated. They may say I'm stupid, fat, and old, that I'm not their mom, and that they don't believe in God. I know that they are acting out in their pain in a way they think will hurt me most, but they don't really mean it. Well most of it, anyway. I know they really love me but are just lashing out. But I don't know how to take it from strangers, or from people I have only met once or twice. I got offended when the psychologist doubted Ms. D had FAS. I wavered when the case worker doubted my ability to homeschool my daughter. I worry more about my ability to parent when we are in public than when I'm with people I know love us no matter how the kids act. I would make an awful politician. I don't know how people like Sarah Palin do it!

I think I need to get to the place where I care more about what God thinks, than what people think. My worth and my work is not best judged by others, especially strangers. How can they possibly understand everything at one glance or after reading few sentences? Advice from those who really know our situation is a lot better than from some unknown person, even an expert. I also need to keep learning how to best parent my children. It's good learn all I can about the primary and secondary conditions of fetal alcohol so that I can be an expert on raising them. Love is not enough, even though it does help. And finally, I need to concentrate on the good things, the encouraging things, the things that bring me peace and joy, especially on days like these when I've been knocked off balance by stupid comments.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Running Off at the Mouth

Yes, that was me today.

I noticed I needed a couple of new tires this afternoon so I left the kids with Blackbelt daughter. I brought a book to read and planned to spend a couple of hours unwinding in the waiting room. A police show was on the TV, and a woman who was waiting with me made some kind of comment about a stupid crook who shot at a police officer. I then made a comment about how I couldn't believe he only had a $50k bail amount when my kids' birth mom had a $500k warrant out for her arrest. From there I told the poor woman in the waiting room just about everything that has happened the past couple of years with the kids and their birth family. I went on, and on, and on. Have you ever had a conversation and in the middle of it you realize you are saying too much to some complete stranger? I had one of those times today. Poor lady!

I think I'll have to find some other outlet to process my feelings than some random woman waiting for her car to be finished.

Choosing Predictability and Routine

Today we were supposed to go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium for their homeschool day activities. We aren't going.

Last week, the kids were disappointed because the birth dad didn't show up when we tried to get him and the kids together. He still hasn't answered their calls since we were arranging for him to say goodbye to the kids last Thursday. The kids have been very dysregulated. They would have been anyway, because of the excitement and changes in schedule that birthdays and holidays bring. Mr. I, especially, has acted oddly the past few weeks and has regressed in his attachment to our family. It isn't fair, but it is understandable, that he has taken his anger, fears, and disappointment out on Hubby and me.

It is really important for us to give our children predictability. I just saw this video from Empowered to Connect this morning as I was making the decision of whether to go on a field trip or not. It confirmed to me that we needed to stay home today. It isn't that we can't ever go on field trips or change schedules. But because of where my children are at right now, the best thing is for us to reestablish our schedule so they feel protected and loved.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

There's Always a Back-story

One of the problems with judging other people's actions and words is that we never truly know the back-story. And there always is a back-story.

Sometimes I cringe at the decisions of other people. I wonder why don't they just do such and such. It would be so simple and save a lot of grief. Later, I find out they are or were in an abusive relationship, they have cancer, they lost a child, they had a bad experience in a similar situation, they suffer from mental illness, they are overwhelmed with job, home, or school pressures. The list goes on.

I have that list in my life. I've had a difficult week, but it has been even more difficult because of my back-story. The decisions Hubby and I are making, and the way we handle things, are affected by influences that others wouldn't know.

All people are affected by their back-story. My kids make bad choices sometimes. Or they aren't using their decision making part of their brain and rage uncontrollably. Others may look at them with judgement, yet not understand that my kids have FASD, RAD, and have traumatic histories. They were not just disappointed that their birth dad left them this week without saying goodbye or keeping a promise to see Mr. I on his birthday. They are having to heal from his abandonment of them when they were preschoolers, and their birth mother's more recent rejection. Oh, and they have the confusion of living with people who are not related by blood, yet consider them family.

I also need to be mindful of the birth dad's back-story when I think about how he let my kids down. I don't know why he did that. But without knowing the birth dad's back-story, I really can't pass judgement on him. What he did was wrong, but it might make sense if I was able to look at the big picture. But I can't hang onto unforgiveness and anger, or think the worst of him. If I do, I will hurt my kids.

And the mom with the eight or nine year old girl who was smearing lipstick at the store? I judged her for not telling the girl to stop or paying for her destruction. But I do not know the back-story. Was the girl autistic or mentally ill? Was the mom in the middle of a divorce and exhausted? Was there something other than really bad parenting involved there? Maybe.

And just maybe there's more to people's story than I see at first glance.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

And I Thought I Was Disappointed

Today was a very difficult day.

We had a homeschool cookie exchange. Mr. I and Ms. D did not want to go, so they made it very difficult for me. Well, especially Mr. I. I understood that he was overexcited about his birthday yesterday. I understood that his birth dad flaked on him and didn't see Mr. I on his birthday. I understood that changing a routine to go to a Christmas party is difficult for people with my kids' background. But understanding the whys of the behaviors don't take the behaviors away. I've been so worn down from weeks of regression and dysregulation. So instead of having a cheerful, relaxing time chatting with other women while the kids played in another room, I had two kids that hung on me. Mr. I was the harder to deal with, since he tried everything he could to get me to leave early. I won't say what he said, because some of it was just too weird to be serious. Fortunately, the women in my homeschool group can handle this kind of behavior from my kids and not judge. I don't think most moms would be as understanding.  I can be a glassy eyed, frazzled woman with whiny, clingy kids and still be loved! There are some quality women in our group!

During the party, Birth Dad called. We had told him the night before that we would be busy from one to three. Guess when he called? Two o'clock! Right in the middle of the time I said we'd be unavailable. I could hardly hear him on the phone, since he talks quietly and the party was fairly loud, so Mr. I talked to him. They arranged for us to meet this evening at 6:30 to say goodbye, since Birth Dad is going home to Arizona on the late bus tonight. For the second night in a row, Birth Dad turned off his phone and we weren't able to get a hold of him all evening. Hubby even took the kids to the place Birth Dad was staying, just in case his phone died but he was still planning on the visit. But Birth Dad was gone.

Guess who is extremely disappointed? Mr. I. Hubby and I aren't surprised by the behavior of the birth dad, but it is pretty upsetting to all of us. Unfortunately, we are caught between trying to help Mr. I deal with this rejection, and sounding like we are against the birth family. Mr. I was angry at everyone and everything and took it out on us. Mr. I wanted chips for his birthday and reminded me that I told him we'd get some today. I told him that yes, I'll keep my promise and get them for him. I was thinking that I don't want him to be let down again, but Mr. I took it as we were trying to take the birth dad's place. He told us that we aren't his family and other hurtful things. I feel there is room for both, but it's hard for a kid to understand that. He just knows he's feeling really bad. He's disappointed and has every right to feel that way. My heart breaks to see the kids go through rejection again and again. They had to deal with it before, when they were in foster care and the birth mom wouldn't show up for visits. On the other hand, they are at an age when they need to see for themselves that there is a reason they were taken from their birth family.

I don't have all wisdom in this matter. I'm so worn out, I don't know that I'll have the energy to even do or say what I think is best. I know I'll make mistakes. But I pray that God will be able to heal my kids' hearts and shower His love on them so they can learn to love and be loved. If you pray, please pray for wisdom for us parents and family, healing for my kids, for forgiveness, and that the kids will not take to heart the rejection.

Scary Haircut

Yesterday I took Mr. I to get a haircut at the barber's. I could have done it myself, but Mr. I is getting pickier and pickier about every single hair on his head. This is kind of silly because he is also obsessed with hats. His friends rarely see him without one. Because Mr. I has been going through so much upheaval lately, I thought is safer to have someone else who knows what he is doing cut Mr. I's hair. Unfortunately, the barber left a quarter inch spot on his head where the hair was a tiny bit thinner than the surrounding area. Mr. I kept asking me if I could see the bald spot. It wasn't bald, just a millimeter thinner. He could not just wait a couple of days for his hair to grow out. No, he had to obsess over that little spot that I could not see unless I was specifically looking at it, in bright light, and without a hat which only comes off for sleep and a shower.

Last night, Mr. I watched a few videos on how to do a side taper, fade haircut or whatever it's called. He had me look at it so I could fix it, but I was distracted by making cookies for the homeschool cookie exchange today and in general try not to cut hair after I start to get sleepy. This morning he got up much too early so that he could have me look at the video again. I had him wait until after I ate breakfast. This sent him into a meltdown, which I tried my best to ignore. Have you ever tried to eat your cereal with strawberries with a raging kid in the background? It didn't help with my digestion. It also didn't help my fear of not being able to cut it any better than the barber. It would be so easy to make a mistake. In the past he's refused to go anywhere until a haircut grew out. I really want to get together with the homeschool group today. We've had to miss homeschool events too many times lately because of meltdowns or bad days. Mr. I was also disappointed yesterday because Birthdad kept calling during the day when Mr. I was busy with friends in the mall, and then made other plans in the evening when Mr. I wanted to visit. Birthdad is leaving this evening, so hopefully we'll be able to connect. It also was Mr. I's birthday and which is near the holidays. All this to say that Mr. I had been in danger of meltdowns anyway, so a tiny mistake in his hair sent him over the edge. And the danger of me making a bigger mistake was daunting.

So this morning, after everyone calmed down, I got the clippers out. I was so scared. It took awhile to get it just right, but I was able to cut his hair the way he wanted it! Whew! Another meltdown avoided!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

How I Braved the Mall With Five Boys

Mr. I wanted to go to the mall (gulp) to celebrate his thirteenth birthday (bigger gulp) with four of his friends (massive gulp). His original plan was for me to drop him off, despite our rule of no wandering in malls until you are old enough to work in one. Seemed like a good enough rule to me, but Mr. I didn't like it so much. We finally worked out a compromise. I would go with them, but stay far enough away that the boys felt a little freedom.
Do you see the line of five boys in black waaaaaayy down the hall? They are the boys I was trailing like a private eye. I lost them a time or two, but knew the shops they'd most likely be at, so not for long. They actually did pretty well. And after Mr. I understood my plan, he was happy with the arrangement. I was close enough to answer questions like, "I can't find any shoes I like, but can I buy a hat with my money?" I also was able to feed them from the food court when they got hungry, as only teenaged boys can get hungry. I think they were pleased with that.

 The boys didn't get squirrelly until after they ate and circled the mall twice. Fortunately, everyone was done walking around that place. The boys survived, I survived, and Mr. I was happy.

I don't enjoy going to the mall anymore. It just seems all shallow and materialistic. It's hard for me to justify mall prices when I personally know people who have almost nothing. I'm fortunate that the older sisters don't mind taking the kids for their mall fix. I try to avoid it if at all possible, so I rarely go. Each time I do, I'm surprised with something new. The last time I was amazed by lights in the refrigerated section of a store that would automatically turn on as I passed by. This time it was a vending machine with diapers, crayons, and other baby and child supplies near the restrooms.

It seemed so strange to me to see something like that. I've never been to Japan and just have friends there, but it just seems so Japanese to me. Of course, I'm still amazed by automatic faucets and phones that do more than make a call and are connected to the wall with a wire.

Teenager in the House!

We have a tradition in our home to embarrass a child on his or her thirteenth birthday by loudly playing Teenager in the House by Wayne Watson. This song wouldn't be complete without me dancing about the house to the music while the poor teen sinks into the sofa and cringes.

Today was Mr. I's turn! Like it or not, he's a part of our family and we treat him like every other kid. Teehee!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Big Day is Tomorrow

Tomorrow is Mr. I's thirteenth birthday.

If this was a psalm, there'd be a little word, selah, after the last sentence. A translation of selah is to pause and think about it. And when I pause and think about Mr. I's birthday tomorrow, I get a bit anxious. Why?

~Because birthdays, holidays, and changes from the routine are upsetting to children from hard places.  Mr. I's dysregulation has been building the past few days and weeks. We try to keep things low key and simple, but there's a limit to how toned down we can make a special day.

~Because I will have two teenagers from hard places in our home. The teen years are hard enough, yet my kids are emotionally, and in Ms. D's case developmentally behind, yet still have all those wonderful hormones zinging through their bodies. That's enough to scare the most practiced parent!

~Because the birthday emphasizes that I only have a few more years to raise both of the kids. They've been in our home almost ten years and yet there is a lot more work to be done. I'm not assured I can add more time to raise them after they're eighteen. Though at least the kids seem to know that they are stuck with us until then.

I must admit that today a few of us were dysregulated, and not just Mr. I or Ms. D. I started out a bit blue this morning. Well, I was pretty out of it most of the day, though I was able to keep it together when the kids were awake. My lingering pink eye gave me an excuse for how I looked, so I don't think they caught on. I haven't been able to claim victory yet over the disappointments I wrote about yesterday, though I've been trying all sorts of things to bring up my mood. Fortunately feelings come in waves, so the worst moments were fleeting. I still was able to teach, walk dogs, cook, and do a little housework. Oh, and I worked with Mr. I on a friendship bracelet.

This was an interesting experience since Mr. I isn't a very patient person to begin with. And the birthday tomorrow made it even harder for him to work very long without some help. Blackbelt Daughter started the bracelet and taught us how to do it, and Mr. I and I worked on it together. It was the first time either of us made one of these. It's a project that two people can work on at the same time, which helped a little with attachment. Mr. I did fuss about how long it took to finish. But at the end, he liked it and was more connected to me. I'm glad we had time to spend together after all the RAD behaviors of the past few days.

So tomorrow is Mr. I's birthday. My little guy is growing up, whether I want him to or not!

Monday, December 3, 2012

When Disappointments Come

I've been hit with some disappointments the past few days and have been having trouble dealing with some of them in a joyful, peaceful way. I could wait until after the storms to write about how I triumphantly overcame obstacles. But what good would that do for others if they don't see the struggle too? I've done that too often in the past, which gave an impression that I have it all together and am better than most. On the other hand, there is the danger of being a drama queen that sucks life out of people because of bad decisions and trauma after trauma. I want to be transparent, yet not be a drag on others. I want to, in my humanity, to be an encouragement.

So what are the things that have been disappointing me so much lately?

Mr. I has been very dysregulated because of his birthday Wednesday. Birthdays and holidays are typically rough for kids who have been through trauma, and their excitement builds as the day nears. Mr. I is no exception. Unfortunately, his birthday is sandwiched between Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a few other family member's birthdays. Add to that the birth father being around and a cold, and he gets pretty demanding and out of control. The other day at church, we had a time to tell others how the week went. I told the group how Ms. D was just accepted to the regional center and I was happy that she will have support available to her in case she decided to move in with the birth family or we couldn't help her. Mr. I told us then that he planned to move in with the birth family when he's eighteen too, which came as a bit of a shock to us. He doesn't want much to do with the birth family now, so we just weren't prepared for this. I don't know how serious he is, but we are concerned. He's also told me the past few days that he doesn't want to go to college or trade school, he thinks I cook to much like a white person, he likes his friend's moms better, and he's embarrassed to be seen walking the dogs with me. Oh, and when the kids and I were walking the dogs today and having a discussion, one of them asked me if I was afraid to die. I told them no, because I knew I would go to heaven. Ms. D said she was going to hell, and Mr. I said he didn't know where he'd go. Do you see a pattern here? Both kids are trying to push my buttons and get me where I would hurt the most. I see that, and try not to react negatively in front of them to their jabs. But when I'm alone, I cry. I don't know what statements to take as how they really feel, or what is just a way they can get me to feel as bad as they feel inside. I worry about them because I love them and want the best for them.

This evening I had another disappointment. We were supposed to have a time of prayer with some friends, but when we got there, it was cancelled. Too many people couldn't come because of one thing or another. I was really looking forward to this time because I've been so discouraged lately. I was a little afraid I wouldn't have enough energy to pray for others, but was hoping I'd be refreshed enough to be a blessing too. Instead I felt sad that God didn't work it out so I could receive prayer. I was so disappointed and selfish, I didn't even think to pray for our pastor who had a rough day, until after we left.

I'll let you know tomorrow or the next day how I joyfully triumphed over disappointments and worries. But right now I'm in the middle of it. I'm going to spend some time watching a mindless show with the kids and somehow get over the hurts. Tomorrow is a new day.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Puppies in the Christmas Parade

Our guide dog puppy group was in a Christmas parade today. Hubby, Ms. D and Brewster all went while I stayed home with Mr. I. Microbio Daughter braved the parking and the weather and saw the parade.

Despite the occasional rain shower, Ms. D had a great time.
The group posed for pictures before the parade. 

It was a bit odd for these puppies to walk on the road with cars and trucks. We normally keep them off the streets and keep on the sidewalks. But they did really well in the crowds.
Brewster saw a wagon and wanted to ride. Another time he wouldn't walk unless Hubby carried him. Hey, Brewster! You're a big dog now!

This little puppy had a even nicer ride!
After awhile Brewster had to walk! No more ride. No more being carried by Hubby. It's time to work!

But at least he didn't have to wear stupid reindeer antlers like Nelly!