Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Do you have a sibling or siblings?  What is your relationship with them?  I have two brothers who live in Texas.  Honestly, our paths don't cross too often.  I would love to have a stronger relationship with them.  My dad had two girls after he remarried.  They are the same ages as Jason and Tasha.  They won't even accept my friendship on Facebook so no relationship there.  No relationship with my dad either.

When I was growing up we moved a lot.  We didn't have relationships with any extended family, no favorite cousins or aunts.  I always felt that I missed out on something.

Little did I know that when I became a parent I would also move my kids all over the world.  No close relationship with any extended family.  However, I did push sibling relationships.  I want my kids to be close and to be able to rely on each other when I am gone.  I often tell them that it is a tough world out there and you need to be able to rely on family.

I love seeing my kids have positive relationships with their siblings.  Tasha and Jason are currently at Disney World having a great time together.  They had a rough start when Jason called the night before and said he had a toothache.  By the morning when Tasha went to get him he was throwing up.  She took him to an acute care place before they flew out to get him some meds.  She called me and said that she felt so motherly.  It was strange to me because I am the one who is normally sitting in the waiting room.  Thankfully the meds helped and he is having great time.

I love to see when the relationships are so good with my children.  I am sad that Joselin was not able to take advantage of those relationships.  I still hope that over time things will improve.  Now I watch three new kids try and integrate into the family.  Some days are rough and then there are the bright moments.  The little ones need to get past their jealousy and neglected home survival skills.  As long as they hold on to those habits they will have a hard time developing positive relationships.  The tattling and hurtful behavior doesn't help with the bonding.  I pray that time will change that and they too will enjoy their siblings.

What about you?  Do you have a great sibling relationship?  Do your children?

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Summer School

I start summer school tomorrow.  I am taking two classes that last 4 weeks.  I almost didn't.  One of the classes is online which is fine.  However, the other one requires me to go to town 4 days a week.  I wasn't going to do it.  Not doing it would have meant that I would have to do it next summer (this class is only offered in the summer) and student teach after that.  By taking it this summer I will be able to student teach in the spring if I complete all the other requirements.

The main reason I actually withdrew my registration was the kids.  Managing 4 kids 4 days a week would be difficult for the teens.  Actually one week the teens will be at Bible camp and then Sarah leaves for her mission trip.  Four kids with one foster teen equals chaos.

However, I found a resource!  The recreation department here has a summer program for kids that starts at 9am and goes until 3pm on Mon-Thurs.  My class is 10:30-12:45 on Mon-Thurs.  They play sports and do crafts, lunch and snacks are included.  The!  I was shocked.  I even called to talk to someone about it and she confirmed.  One of the schools that has this program is right around the corner from us.  This will be great for while I am in class and even when I am on the mission trip to Guatemala.

Funny how some things just seem to fall into place.  Now I just need to get the books and I can't procrastinate since it is only 4 weeks long.  I just printed the 57 page study guide for one class.  Fun!

Friday, May 25, 2012


Every time I go to therapy Dimples appears to be nice and sweet.  Last therapy session my nephew was with us and asked who that girl was.  He was shocked by her behavior....because it was so good.  He had just stayed at our house a few days so he knows how Dimples behaves at home.

However, she does show some of her real self.  I am so thankful that I found a therapist who actually understand attachment disorders.  She came into the waiting room to get us and said hello to Dimples who pretended that she didn't hear her.  Someone who doesn't know her ways would have really thought that she didn't hear.  The therapist greeted again right in front of her and expected a response.  She did get it.  There are a lot of those little subtle things that others don't understand. 

What do we deal with besides the screaming?  There are times when she ignores you, does the total opposite of what you tell her, pretends that she didn't hear you say no, doing what she wants as soon as you look away, saying little hurtful things to her siblings, lying, lying, claiming all possessions in the home are hers, destroying the other kids possessions, manipulating through lying to get her way or hurt another child feelings but making it appear as though someone else did it, demanding that she get her way and if not screaming, attempting to take control of everyone, lying.  There are times when she can be so affectionate, hugging and kissing.  However, it doesn't feel real.  It feels fake and as though it is a manipulation.

Every time we go to therapy the therapist tells me it is going to take years for her to heal.  Years, yes years.  I have been afraid to ask if she thinks that there is a chance that she may never heal.  I don't know if I want that answer right now.

Dance Time

Larissa and I got to sit around for 3 hours to get pictures taken.  They also went through their routines one more time.

I wasn't able to get her hair into a bun because she had recently asked for her hair to be cut.  Silly me forgot about dance at the time.  Of course I get there and everyone has hair pieces.  I guess I will have to find her a hairpiece to cover her pouf.

 Larissa really enjoys dance.  She loves recitals!  I found it strange last year that she had problems talking to others with her selective mutism but had no problem dancing in front of a huge audience.

Recitals are next week.  Because of problems with finding a place to have it (the local school they had it at last year steeply raised their cost) they had to break it down into three recitals.  Naturally Larissa has to be in all three.  Two on Thursday and one on Friday.  My biggest complaint is that they are only giving out 6 tickets to each recital.  That doesn't even cover the siblings!  I have requested more tickets and will know next Wednesday if I can get them. 

The school year is coming to an end and all the parental obligations are piling up.  I just got back from the school because I thought that the 1st grade award ceremony was at 8:45.  Apparently it was cancelled but they are having their cookout at 9:30......hotdogs.  Who can eat hotdogs at 9:30 in the morning?  I would have rather had the award ceremony then the cookout.

The paper I had also said that the 2nd grade award ceremony was at 1:30.  That has been changed to 1.  I have the papers that give the times but didn't get the changes for some reason.  I am lucky to remember the original times, changes throw me off.  At least the 2nd graders are doing ice cream in the afternoon.  Honestly, I prefer to just see the award ceremonies and not have the little cookout, ice cream socials.  Does that make me a bad mom?  Do you do all the school activities?

Larissa is having a water day today and her kindergarten ceremony on Tuesday.  Next year there will be 4 kids in elementary!  It can get complicated.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


I guess having an adoption worker visit right after a kid comes home from Kuwait is not a good idea! 

I do believe that the adoption worker for our teen was a little overwhelmed.  I got that impression after she told me that she felt that her life was chaotic until she came to our home.

Yes, at the moment she showed up Tasha was going through all the stuff she had bought online and had mailed here with Sarah and the teen watching (clothing naturally), teen nephew was visiting and hovering, all four of the little ones came in from playing outside and headed to the kitchen for a drink, Michelle slammed the door on her finger and Jason was in town to play nurse.  So, yes 9 kids, teens, young adults hanging out all excited was a little chaotic. 

Actually I don't think that much got said.  I gave her an update on doctor visits, school and activities and she sat partially speechless. 

I think that I may call her this afternoon to see if she is recovered.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tasha's Home

We got to head to the airport today to pick Tasha up.  She is home for 2 weeks of R&R.

The pictures speak for themselves....we are happy to see Tasha.

It is nice to have a brother around to help carry your duffel bag.  Those two have a very close relationship and I love to watch them together.  They are going to take a trip to Disney World together while Tasha is home.  Tasha also plans on taking Sarah on an adventure as well to celebrate Sarah's graduation that Tasha missed by two days.

It was a happy day at our house!

Message to Dad

Larissa wrote this on the door to her dad's office.  She is my biggest wall and furniture artist.  Dry erase boards only stop the artistry momentarily.  When you leave my home by the front door you will see her mark on the door as you leave.  It has been there over a year.  Magic Erasers do clean it up pretty easily but I just leave it for now. 

Funny, at one time in my life it would have really bothered me and would have been cleaned up quickly.  Now I realize that she will grow up quickly and I will miss those little notes. 

Strange, I know.

(Note says:  I luv u dad you can go in yor ofic)

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Sarah graduated from high school today. She worked hard to get here and we are so proud of what she has accomplished.

When she was as young as 6 months old she was struggling.  She started early interventions in the home for global delays.  By time she was three years old she was said to have failure to thrive along with her pervasive global delays. 

At the age of three she started school because she was not talking.  We looked for answers but were told that nothing was wrong.  She was hospitalized several times because of her weakened immune system.  Something that would seem mild to another child would become a major issue for her.  Who would think that pink eye would land you in the hospital on an antibiotic IV for a week!

Before Sarah started kindergarten she had to have a physical.  When we took her in the doctor she was supposed to see was not there and a neurologist was covering for him (military medicine, you don't see the same doctor every time you come in).  That neurologist took one look at her after hearing of our concerns and promptly said that she had neurofibromatosis.  Wow, we finally had answers.  After all those years of doctors telling us that nothing was wrong when we felt that something was wrong, we finally knew what we were dealing with.  Neurofibromatosis can cause a host of problems which include learning delays and tumors to grow on the nerves.

School interventions helped with speech and by 1st grade she no longer qualified for speech services.  At that moment she was not behind so they wanted to take away her IEP and services.  We felt that if they took away her supports then she would quickly fall behind so we qualified her for services under POHI (Physically or Other Health Impaired).

At she got older it was harder for her to keep up and by third grade she was in a self-contained classroom.  After spending a year there we felt that she would be better served in a regular class with help from the resource class so we signed her out.  The school was not used to parents opting out of the self-contained class once their kids were there but they couldn't fight us on it.

Along with the learning delays Sarah also had medical issues to contend with.  When a MRI showed a problem with her optic nerve she was diagnosed with an optic glioma.  This was found when her eye prescription changed very quickly.  Annually she had to have MRI's and over the years the optic nerve never changed.  After one MRI she turned pink all over and it was determined that she was now allergic to the contrast.  After years of watching her get papoosed for the contrast IV as a young child up until her allergic reaction we decided to stop the annual MRI's.  We are now keeping an eye on her optic glioma thorough her annual eye exams.  If she has another quick change then we will do another MRI.  She has other tumors, but none that can cause serious problems.  The optic glioma can cause blindness in the affected eye if it can not be controlled.
Sarah did did not have problems with teasing in elementary school.  However, once she hit middle school the teasing started. The kids had no idea what Sarah was dealing with and they really didn't care.  Sarah is short and younger looking because of her NF1 so it makes her a target.  By high school the bullying got so bad that we had to pull her out of school and allow her to finish school from home.  She did an online high school program and did great.  I did not have to monitor her, I simply was her support.  She was self-motivated to complete high school.

Sarah persevered and succeeded.  The resources offered by schools do help the students.  Sarah learned how to use the resources offered to her advantage. 

She will go on a mission trip with Teen Missions International this summer and is looking at college options.  Her future is full of potential.

To celebrate we took the family to a Japenese restaurant called Sumo.

Larissa enjoyed the food and experience.

Jason made it in from Charleston.

Sarah was gifted with an IPad.  She was pleased with her gift and dinner surprise.  We only go to Sumo's on rare occasions.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


When you adopt internationally it is possible that you will look at a child's picture for a very long time before you are able to actually travel to pick up your child. It is amazing how much you attach to that child that you have never met.  every delay is agonizing.  When we committed to Joselin we were told that she was 7 years old.  She was sent pictures of our family and we sent care packages through our adoption worker.  Guatemalan adoptions were in turmoil at the time.  They even stopped for a short period of time.  It took a year to bring her home after receiving her referral.

When we got to Guatemala it was quite apparent that her age was wrong.  She was at least 3 years old.  So instead of dealing with an 8 year old we had an 11 year old, we were able to get her age changed to 10 so we all know that she is actually 1 year older then her documented age.  She had not been to school and obviously spoke only Spanish.

While in Guatemala she asked about her brother.  We didn't know anything about a brother.  Actually we were approved to adopt 2 children in case a sibling group became available.  Her brother was quite a bit younger then her, actually she was his primary caregiver.  He had been taken to a different hogar and she had been told that he was adopted by a family from France.

When we got home we started a search for her brother.  She was very upset about losing him.  We were able to find his adoptive family in the US.  he lives in a family up in the frigid north.

The years were filled with lots of struggles.  She didn't want to do school, do chores, pouted on vacations, lied and stole from us.  As she became older her behaviors became very self-destructive.

We offered her all that we could.  We offered her our family.  She wasn't interested in anything that we had to offer.

When she turned 18 her behaviors reached the point where she was not willing to live by our rules.  Her behavior was detrimental to the younger children in the home.  She left and for 6 months we didn't hear form her.  Once a month I would send her a message on facebook telling her that we are here.  She couldn't live under our roof but she is still our daughter.

I sent her a message on April 1st and a few days later she called me wanting to meet for lunch.  We have since met other times and she has joined us at church.  Most recently she called me wanting to meet for a Mother's Day meal. 

We sat and talked for 3 hours.  She is processing her life and how she got where she is today.  She does have regrets and wonders "what if".  What if she had been accepting.  She told me that her biggest problem is that she is hard headed.  Yep, I agree! 

Why was it so hard?  What prevented her from accepting her family?

From her....

In Guatemala she had no rules.  No expectations.  No chores.  No homework.  No following the clock.  Heck, they had no clock.

If she really wanted something she could steal it or do some small job to get it.  Churches gave them clothing and toys. 

She comes to America and there are rules, expectations, chores, homework and always doing everything by the clock.  Her freedom was gone, being poor was more fun.  She also says that she didn't realize that learning to speak English was going to be so difficult.  Academically she was behind.  Socially she was awkward.  She was teased.

By middle school the desire to be popular became the most important thing.  She wanted everyone to be her friend, even if she had to go against her family's values.  Lie to her family.  Reject her family.  Heck, her family wasn't that important.  She already had a family in Guatemala and didn't need a new one.  Her Guatemalan mom told her to just use us and go back to Guatemala to support her when she grew up.

By high school she was totally entrenched in a lifestyle that was totally against her families values.  She was angry and confused.  Why was she doing what she wanted and still not happy?

Therapists didn't help.  She wasn't willing to open up to them.  She refused to talk with them.

Finally after she was on her own she was able to do what she wanted without parental controls.  She should be happy but wasn't.  After 6 months she realized that she did want a family.  She contacted me.  She says that she is happy but there is something missing.  She still misses her brother.  He shared a very difficult time with her.  He doesn't remember it but she does.  She felt like she was his mom.  She realizes that she has to wait until he is 18.

We have known that her separation from her brother was very difficult for her.  It is one of the reasons why we adopt sibling groups.  That loss will always be with her.

Why do I write this?  It gives an insight into why an older child adoption can be difficult.  What could I have done to improve it?  I honestly don't know.  I couldn't adopt her brother, her mom made that impossible.  I can't change the American culture.  Perhaps I could have homeschooled her. However, I feel that she would have rebelled against that. 

Perhaps all we could do was let her come to her own conclusions.  Give her time to choose what she wanted.  Give her the control over whether she wants us or not. 

In the end that is what we did.


She called and wanted to meet for a Mother's day dinner.

Tonight I will write about my thoughts on this.


I noticed that Roxie had some patches of skin problems. I was worried about mange which can be shared with the kids.

I got an assistant and off to the vet we went.

Larissa brought along a snack.

She also learned that if you drop one Cheetos then you have a friend staring intently at you hoping for another mishap.

Roxie does have mange but thankfully not the type that can be transmitted to the kids.  Apparently she got it from her mom.  She should fit in just fine!

She also had numerous type of worms, yuck.  She got some shots and several medications that I get to give her.

I left with a lot less money in my bank account.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Today was visitation.

Dad came, mom was a no-show once again.

After visitation the girls got in the car and proceeded to tell me that they are going to go home with their dad!  Imagine my surprise.  Apparently he told them that he was doing the paperwork and was working on getting them home.

What do I tell them?  How do I explain that it is not a matter of just filling out some paperwork.  That he refuses to do the drug testing.  That he refused to do drug testing today. 

Michelle discussed this over and over all afternoon.  I finally told her that her dad had to do more then fill out paperwork to get them back.  I also told her that he has been working on this for almost 3 years. 

Then more questions followed.

Then the realization that it has been almost three years and seven different homes. 

Then the shadowing.  All evening she was my shadow; following me around, hugging and kissing on me.  Telling me that this was the best house she has ever lived in. I could tell that she was unsettled. 

Once again she is unsure of her place, of her permanency.

I wrote an email to both the therapist and social worker about what happened today.  I have asked, begged, them to stop the visitations if there is no way that the girls will go home.

How can the girls heal when they are constantly torn in different directions?  When the adults in their lives don't do what is in their best interest?

The therapist round about suggested getting our own lawyer to file for TPR.  With John only earning a training stipend right now the money is not there for a lawyer but I would love to do just that.  Waiting for DSS to file is frustrating.

I am heartbroken for the girls tonight.

We Don't Do Dogs

We are cat people.

We don't do dogs.

Joselin had a puppy and was having problems with her roommate over the puppy. The puppy had to go. Where else but to grandma's house.

Meet Roxy.

(I did Larissa's hair shortly after this picture was taken.  I don't send her to school looking like that!)

The dog is a mutt.  I have no clue as to her parentage.  We really don't know her age.

She is very sweet when she isn't chewing on you.  Wish us luck, we are really trying to be successful with this dog.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mud Time

The pictures speak for themselves! Funny, some of the kids were very leery about getting dirty but after a while they all joined in with great abandon.

Anyone want to come and play?


My Yard - The Bad

Our well..... created quite a mess.

Our so expensive we had to stop at 540 feet.

Our well has 210 feet of steel casing.  The first 3 casings failed requiring the use of steel.  This doubled the price.  They hit rock at 210 feet and beyond that there is no casing, thank goodness!

We had a specific budget and had to stop at 540 feet.  They capped it and next year we plan on going another 200 feet max.  Some wells around here hit good water at 600ish.  We may not hit the good water or it may be just 5 feet away from where we stopped.  It is a gamble.

They did hit some water, just not enough to run the irrigation.  The driller told us that it is enough water to run a typical household but not irrigation sufficiently.  We aren't a typical household.  They waited a day to come out and clear out.  He said that the water came up to 74 feet so we have good storage capacity.  Next year we will put a pump on it even if we don't get the irrigation pressure John wants.  I plan on running a line to my future artist studio and it would be good water for my future enlarged pond.  Well, I guess it is a future pumping well!

In the meantime...the yard is a huge muddy mess.

Would you let your children go out in this?

Friday, May 11, 2012

My Yard - The Good

I had planned on cleaning out my pond and thinning the plants. My poor pond has been so neglected.

 I hadn't paid it any attention so imagine my surprise when I decide to attack it and find it overgrown.  I guess you could call it a water garden.  There are some feeder fish still living in there.  I put some new ones in last year and they survived the winter which was pretty mild. 

When I went to the backside to determine if it was possible to thin it out I was surprised by this pretty bloom.  It was hidden beneath a bunch of lilypads. 

My hydrangea is in full bloom.  Good thing it doesn't need me to show off! 

When I look at my yard it is so easy to see all the weeds and all the work that needs to be done.  Sometimes I just need to stop and look at the beauty that is offered to me even though I did nothing to deserve it.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

TPR Date

We have a TPR date....for our foster teen not our adoptive placement.  We are happy to be moving on with this case but wonder what the impact will be to the younger girls if the teen is adopted before them.  Actually, they just realized that she is a foster child the other night.

Our teen has been dealing with biological family pressure and was in tears the other day talking with her mom.  Michelle looked confused because the teen kept saying mom into the phone.  I asked her if she realized that our teen was a foster child and she said no.  She seemed quite surprised.  I think that she is still processing that bit of news.

Our date is the end of July.  Be aware that just because we have a date doesn't mean that we will actually meet that day or get TPR.  If anyone says that they can't make it then it will be moved.  If someone doesn't show up then it will be postponed.  TPR is a very serious situation.

Larissa is very aware of our teens status.  She has been asking our teen if she was going to stay forever.  Last night my teen told me that for the first time she gave her an answer...yes.

After learning about her date I called the social worker of the new news.  Frustration!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Big Random Post

Michelle:  How much longer until I turn 7?
Me:  About 3 months.
Michelle:  Good, then I will be taller then Larissa.
Me:  Sorry, but being older for two months won't make you taller then Larissa.
Michelle:  Then when will I be taller then Larissa?  I am older!
Me:  Sorry child but you won't ever be taller then Larissa.

Next we discussed genetics.

Larissa lost a tooth over the weekend.  The tooth fairy remembered to do her duties this time without incident.  The last time she almost got caught and chased down the stairs.  Love her smile but I think of braces every time>  Anthony will need them too.

This is my objective for today.  I am doing some serious deep cleaning and going through everything.  The couch got moved and had to be taken apart to change the configuration.  Naturally the pieces don't stay together.  I do believe that I have mentioned that I wouldn't buy another couch like this one!  I have struggled with setting this room up since we put the ramp in.

Maybe I should just work on the ramp area!

Yes, my house is a terrible wreck.  I did get my mom moved to her new room over the weekend.  She loves the color and the bigger room.  The bigger room helps with all her accessories....that she doesn't use.  The walker and such.

Wondering how it is going with my mom?  She is about the same but my own stress level is down so I am doing better.  I guess that is typical caregivers burnout and recharge.  I know that just a few weeks ago I was so stressed I didn't think that I could deal with her needs much longer.  I can now apply for Medicaid since I can get her proof of income now.  I am still working all avenues.  I do know that when I have to student teach next spring I can not do it with her at home.  Doing kids, mom, school and full time student teaching would be a breaking point for me.  The logistics of mom, kids and me in class all day would not work out.

I do find it interesting that when you stop and talk with folks you find a lot of people who are dealing with elder care or have recently done so.  I had a long discussion with a lady at the Febreeze area yesterday at Walmart.  She did care for her mom and then other family members.  On a side note, I was shocked that Febreeze was $5 at Walmarts.

This morning, I once again look out my window and see the well drillers.  Three times their pipe casing collapsed requiring a steel casing on our well.  This doubles the cost.  Our yard is a huge mess and the fence has been taken down.  At this point we are carrying on but we are going way over budget on this thing.  Honestly, if I had known that it would be this much trouble I wouldn't have strated al this.  I just hope that this point that they hit water soon! 

Well, I'd better get to work.  Before I can tackle the chaotic room I need to do a resume for my sister in law Cindy and call Jason to see where he wants his resume sent.  Wish me luck in making some progress.