Monday, June 30, 2014

Dear Mama

Yesterday your baby was 4 months old.  I took pictures and mentioned to everyone at church how he was now 4 months old.  He has grown a lot in the last month.

For the last three weeks you have not showed up for visitation.You have missed so much.

The last time you saw him he was staring at fans and shadows.  He really wasn't interested in faces.  Now he watches faces.  Sure, he still likes fans but faces are now exciting.  He will even return smiles.

The last time you saw him he didn't reach for items.  He would wave his hands around but didn't have purposeful use of his hands.  Now he reaches for items and grabs for toys with purpose.  He has gained control over his hands.

He has also found his feet which he loves.  He can now sit with minimal assistance.  He is so much more aware of his surroundings and interacts with it. 

When you last saw him he would grab onto hair and hold on for all his might.  He still does that.  However, he now loves hair.  If you take a piece and tickle his cheeks with it he will give a great laugh.

You have missed three visits and lost a month of your sons life and development.  You have other children so you know how quickly they grow at this age.  You talk to me about bonding with your child yet you don't show up to visit with him.  Actions speak louder than words.  Visit with your child.  Bond with your child.  You are working to get him home, make that a positive move for him, not a fearful one.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Finished Desk

I finished one project.  I actually finished painting the desk yesterday but lost the hardware after I spray painted them.  Today I found them, in the kitchen.  Not sure how they got there!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Stripping Paint Video

I just had to make a video of how the paint is stripping from the walls.  The paint appears to be bonded fine until water is added.  Strangest thing.

Warning, Vent Ahead

Can someone please tell me how long it takes to change a behavior when you are consistent in your expectations?  Some days I just don't understand.  Some of my kids miss out on so much because they do some of the same behaviors over and over.  Often when I relax a restriction, they show me why I shouldn't have done so.

My kids have not been allowed to play out front without direct adult supervision.  This is the area where bikes, scooters, skates are played with.  The basketball pole is out front too.  We live on a large cul-de-sac filled with many elderly residents.  Not a lot of traffic.  It is a great place for kids to actually ride bikes and such.  Our yard is large enough that they can ride bikes without leaving our yard. My older kids used to ride bikes down into the cul-de-sac when they were the same ages as the little ones, they never had problems. 

The last time I let the kids try and play out front unsupervised they went to the neighbors door and were caught writing on it.  Yes, that is right, they were writing on the neighbors door.  It has been a year since that incident so we decided to give a little more freedom and let the kids play out front.  They love riding their scooters down the ramp and riding their bikes.  This freedom does not apply to Emma, she has to be with someone. It would be the same as sending a 3 year old out to play. 

For about a month things went well.  We would spot check the kids and other than a few minor fights they were doing well.  They were told not to leave the yard and we never caught them out of the yard. Then came the knock on the door.  A neighbor stopped to tell us that Anthony was throwing pine cones at cars.  He was standing in the front yard throwing them.  What was he thinking?  He told the girls to throw pine cones with him.  Michelle and Larissa opted out but Emma gave it a shot.  She says that it doesn't count since she missed.  So for now we have two kids who can still go ride bikes and two kids who can't.  What concerns me is that Anthony is going to turn 18 in 7 years, 7 weeks and 2 days yet I still can't trust him to go ride his bike in the front yard.  When is he going to learn to behave himself without direct adult supervision?  It really worries me, he will soon be 11 years old.

Then we have Emma.  We realized this morning that she has been going into John's office and taking his snacks.  She has been doing this in the middle of the night when she goes to the bathroom.  Now I have to directly supervise her going to the bathroom.  I already lack sleep because of the baby now I have to get up with Emma every time she goes to the bathroom.  She just can't be allowed to wonder the house at all unsupervised. Since this food stealing issue has been noticed she has not been allowed to get any food from fast food places when we go.  She has a sandwich.  Her treats have been limited.  She loves fast food and treats but obviously not enough to stop her raiding. Sigh

Then there is Michelle.  She is on restriction for lying right now. Not only does she lie when she is caught doing something but she tries to deflect and tell on her siblings.  For example, the kids were swimming and Michelle came in the house fully dressed carrying her swimsuit.  Uh, she is not allowed to change outside!  Anthony is out there.  I told her that she is to never change outside again.  Her first reaction was to say that Larissa did it too.  My moms aid was there and we both looked out the window at the same time to see Larissa standing in her swimsuit talking to Anthony.  Michelle noticed where we were looking and started to change her story.  She claimed that she didn't say that.  She said that Larissa was going to.  I went out to investigate.  Larissa didn't even have any clothing with her to change into.  Deflection.  I told Michelle that if she had just said yes ma'am when I said not to change outside that would have been the end of it.  However, she had to lie and try to deflect by blaming others. 

Some of the issues seem small but when they are done over and over it becomes a problem.  A majority of the time I am just correcting kids (go back and close the door, pick up after yourself, separate if you can't get along, don't do that, apologize, we don't talk that way, etc).  However, some of my kids can't stand that correction and either start to lie or argue with me.  This ends up landing them a consequence.  I tell them every time why they earned the consequence but that doesn't prevent them from lying or arguing the next time.  Every time I think when will they learn.  Why don't they make the changes that they need to make so that they can enjoy life in our home.  Often I think, what were they thinking!  Frequently I ask them how the particular behavior worked out for them.

OK, I will stop venting.  Some days I just get frustrated dealing with the same behaviors over and over.  I feel that my consistency is just not working but I am too tired to look up different methods.  I try positive reinforcement methods and they have helped in some areas.  However, some behaviors are just too stubborn to change.  I will keep trying, that is all I can do.....and vent every now and then.

Friday, June 20, 2014

No Progress

Due to the heat wave, lack of air conditioning and a cranky baby I have made no progress in anything!  Funny, the cranky baby isn't so cranky when floating in the pool!  I am not quite as cranky either. 

My plans tomorrow are to get Larissa's desk painted.  I need to find a desk for Michelle or have her pick one sitting around the house.  I hope to also pack up more of my art studio and put younger legs to work moving everything.  I have designed the girls beds so I might just write up a sketch and post it tomorrow when I post pictures of the finished desk.  Hopefully promising to post pictures will motivate me to finish/start something.

It is almost July! The summer is flying by and I feel as though we haven't done anything!  We really didn't plan for much this summer after John and I cancelled our cruise.  We will go to the Orlando area in August.  This is a short trip that we haven't budgeted for so we will be looking for some very inexpensive things to do.  If anyone is from that area give me some ideas!  Sarah really wants to go to Harry Potter World.  Doing that will put us back about $1000!  Taking 7 to any activity is very expensive.  I haven't made any reservations or bought any tickets yet.  This is not my normal way of planning.

What is everyone else up to?  Any big projects or vacations?  Or is everyone else about as broke as I feel?

Stairs to Heaven

Larissa ran in all excited telling me, "Hurry mom, come and see the stairs to Heaven!"

She wanted me to share them with you today.

Hot Summer Days

We have had a nice little heat wave this week. It just happens to coincide with our downstairs air conditioning unit going down. It happened on Sunday and the earliest we could get anyone out is Saturday.  Thankfully we have an upstairs A/C unit so it doesn't get too much above 80 downstairs.

In the meantime, we cool off the best way we can. (At least those who aren't on restriction do.)

Foster baby status....nothing.  Biomom says she has done everything.  DSS worker is leaving today and a new one will be assigned.  Perhaps we will have some progress after that happens.  We still feel strongly that he will be going to family.  Our adoption homestudy is finally finished (took forever to get my moms fingerprints) and our plan is to stop taking foster placements so that we can look for an adoptive placement.  We are ready to get our forever kids and work with them versus  the endless cycle of foster kids and their issues.  In the last year we have had 12 foster kids.  With each placement everyone has to make new adjustments, form attachments and then say goodbye.  Time to stop, really.  I just will have to ignore the phone calls that I know we will get.

Emma challenge.

Every day my youngest daughter challenges me.  Summer is such a hard time for her.  The last two years she has attached to her teacher.  I say attached but this is not a healthy attachment.  However, they are safe for her, they are temporary.  At the end of the school year her teacher was telling me how Emma always had to have two hugs from her.  At that moment I realized that I have been allowing this temporary attachment to happen.  I have talked to the school and will meet with them before school starts.  I do not want her teacher hugging her this year.  I do not want Emma attaching with another teacher.

She attaches to these teachers and then when summer arrives she is once again stuck with me.  Attaching to me is scary so she does everything she can to avoid it.

We are still dealing with the taking of food.  She has been caught searching my desk and grabbing food from the kitchen.  At those times she thought that she was the only one in the house.  She was mistaken.  She is not allowed to go into the house alone.  When we are all at the pool she will run in to go to the bathroom.  It is during those times that she has been sneaking.  I had caught on and was waiting.  Even though someone has to go in with her she tries to sneak in alone.  She is quick and very sneaky.

She has also been in trouble for bullying, tearing up other kids toys, lying, stealing and has even cut her own hair.

I have been so consistent on giving consequences for calling others ugly that the behavior has actually decreased.  Sometimes she slips into her old ways and when caught gives off a terrible scream as though we are beating her (which we are not).  She does this scream every time she is caught doing anything she is not supposed to be doing.  Yes, it is quite annoying. 

At this time she is not allowed to be in the same room as the dog.  I have told her repeatedly to stop  encouraging the dog to jump on her and chew on her.  I am trying to stop these behaviors and she is increasing them.  After she got all scratched up one day and got another outfit ruined I had enough.  She is realy not enjoying this restriction.  One big problem for her is that the dog likes to hang out in the family room where everyone hangs out.  She tries to encourage the dog to go outside but once he is back to the door I let him in.  Ohhh, it makes her so mad.  I am not sure how long I will have to do this for it to sink in that I mean business.  I have a feeling that as soon as I release her from this restriction she will be right back to her old ways.  Well, I'd give her 8 hours.

She is also banned from the garage.  This is where the wii and most toys are located.  She is just not able to handle it at this time.  She quickly reverts to her bullying ways when she is not in my sight.

When she is in my direct sight she is a pleasure.  She is able to play well and enjoy life.

However, when she is out of my sight she inevitably gets into trouble.  In spite of consistent consequences she just can't seem to control herself. 

When she is in trouble she has a habit of screaming that she wants a new family.  I had been ignoring this until last week.  She screamed that at me and I decided to give her a dose of reality.  I told her that she was stuck.  I often her that.  Michelle was in the room and said that she likes to be stuck.  Emma just screamed louder.  I decided that it was time for some truth.  I told her that she needs to remember that until she came to our home she was moved 7 different times because of her behaviors.  People just don't put up with the screaming, lying, bullying, stealing.  They just don't, they have you moved instead.  But, we didn't give up.  We didn't have her moved.  NOW SHE IS STUCK.  She is stuck when we are not happy with her behaviors.  She is stuck when we are frustrated.  She is stuck when she is mean and not in control of herself.  If she is that unhappy then when she turns 18 she can do whatever she wants.  But, until then she is stuck.  It did stop her screaming.  I will be curious to see how long it takes her to scream that she wants a new family.

Others with attachment issues, have you had issues with attaching to teachers?  If so how did you deal with it?  This is an issue that I will address this school year.  I think that it is impeding her attachment at home.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Not Going to Heaven

The other day Larissa came up to me and told me that she wasn't going to Heaven.  Of the four little's she is the only one who has been baptized.  She believes that she is saved but was adamant that she wasn't going to Heaven.  I asked her why.  She said because she is bad.  Before I went into a talk about how everyone sins I thought to ask her why she thought that she was bad.

I could tell that something was on her heart.  She was feeling that she was doing something wrong.  Finally she told me that Michelle told her that she would teach her to lie.  That sometimes when I am talking to the kids and asking questions Michelle will whisper in her ear to lie. (I have seen this and try to separate them when asking questions.)  Then she whispered to me that she has lied.

She lied to me and it was bothering her. 

We had a long talk. About how to correct the situation.  About sinful natures.  About peer pressure.  How to stop from getting sucked into the wrongdoings of others.

Of course we also talked about Heaven.  How she is forgiven.  How she is saved and so very much loved.
All is well with Larissa today. 

Now if I could just get to the point where a lie would sit heavily on Michelle's heart. 

More Peeling Paint

The kids have a paint brush and bucket of water.  They use the brush to paint water onto the paint and then they peel and peel.  Sometimes they disappear and I will find them upstairs peeling.  There is something calming about peeling paint.

 Projects in the girls room have stopped for the moment.  Not only am I waiting for the paint to be peeled but the budget for this month has taken a big hit.  Next month I will build their beds, the plans are in my head. 

In the meantime I am moving my art studio back out to the shed out back.  Jason was in there but has moved to Charleston for a job.  I am not moving all my stuff again!  My studio will stay my studio.  I have realized that I have a lot of art stuff, maybe too much.  After moving all my supplies I will move some furniture pieces out there that need painting.  I have a few projects that I need to finish this summer.

Some days I feel as though I need a longer day.  I can't seem to do all that I want to do with each day.  I guess that is the life of a busy mom.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Room Redo in Progress.

Top of my project list is the girls bedroom.The girls decided that they had outgrown the castle bed so we sold it to a family with a little Princess.

The room is kind of a hodge podge of stuff right now.

I found this outside the window, a remnant of our last guests.

I attempted to paint one wall gray.  The strangest thing happened, the layer of paint underneath started peeling away!  In sheets!  I have never had this happen before.  The section below is more than 3 feet high.

It was so easy to peel away.

The paint seemed to be bonded well.  There was no bubbling or peeling.  we found that if we soaked the paint it would peel.  It is latex on latex paint.

I gave the girls free reign to peel the wall as much as they like because I can't paint it until the paint that likes to peel is gone.  They wet it with a wash cloth and then peel.  Anyone ever had this happen?  I have been painting for decades and never saw this before.

We are in the process of designing beds and such at this time.  Lots of ideas and little money. 

Larissa and Michelle are sharing a bedroom.  Emma is not ready to join them and may not be for some time.  Tomorrow I will post about Emma's challenges with summer.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

What a Week

First, we did not celebrate Father's day today.  Sarah put off making breakfast until John is feeling better.  He has been sick since Monday.  He was told that he had a virus.  I think that he had more than a virus.  Just my opinion that isn't worth much.  I just know that I have felt like a single parent all week.  It wasn't too bad until this weekend and the baby got sick.  Little Man did not want me to put him down.  He would fall asleep and I would hold him for a while and eventually put him down.  Within 10 minutes he was up and screaming.....every time.

After getting up this morning Larissa came down complaining about her ear hurting.  I called someone from my church and asked them to come to my house to pick up props I had painted and I headed out to acute care with Larissa.  I just knew that she had swimmers ear and I was correct.  She got some ear drops and is sharing them with Emma who is complaining about the same ear pain.  We will start using a preventative after they are healed.

Tomorrow we have a fire inspection.  I haven't had time to clean the house or check the batteries in the alarms.  I did at least buy the batteries.  We had to put another alarm in our bedroom and that got put up today.  Our fire extinguisher was checked on Friday.  I need to find my house chart to put up on the refrigerator and check the house for chemicals.  I little picking up in the morning and we should be fine.

On a positive note Sarah's cat has peed.  I know that sounds like an odd thing to celebrate but I was very excited.  We had brought her cat home from the vet after I received instruction on how to expel his pee.  He had nerve damage and couldn't pee on his own.  We aren't sure how he got the damage but the result is he couldn't pee or move his tail.  Several times a day I had to go and help the cat to pee.  One night I went to check on his and his bladder was small.  (Yes, I can now find a cats bladder).  We checked the litter box and he had peed in there!  I was so happy, we had been worrying what we would do if he was not able to recover from the damage.  I can see that he has control of the top portion of his tail but the bottom still drags.  Hopefully the healing will continue to the end of the tail.

I actually have a lot to write about but am so tired!  If the baby sleeps tomorrow I will be back.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Lots of finished Projects and a Celebration

When Tasha and Ethan got married a few Weeks ago we planned on having a celebration in our backyard. This meant that we needed to finish some planned projects.

One project was a pathway to the shed where pool equipment is kept.  All the inflatables and such are stored there.  Every time someone ran from the pool to the shed and back they brought a lot of sand into the pool.  That problem was fixed by John and Michelle who loved hammering.

Some friends gave us some rocks so we made a simple fire pit.  Our budget was running low so something free was great!  It works.


In true procrastination fashion I started building a Tiki Bar a few days before the party.  I did finish most of it.  I still need to build some shelving in the back and make a sign.

I finished a built in bench seat on the patio.  This was a cheap, quick and easy project.

I asked John to make me a table from the Ana White site.  It came out great.

They had a great turn out for their celebration. Of course it rained off and on throughout the evening.

We had decided to put the food inside and were glad that we did.  We made hamburger and kalua pork sliders along with fruit and accompanying foods.

We tried out our new Margaritaville machine and it worked great.  The virgin pina colatas were great.

Naturally we also had cake.

and photo ops.

With all that work done we can now sit down and relax for a moment.  I need to paint a new scene for church by Sunday and the girls room needs a make over.  Their castle bed has been sold and they have told me what they want in their room so I never have to worry about being bored.  I also have a few dressers to paint for little girls recently born and a future granddaughter.

How is your summer so far?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Let Them Be Children

This has actually been a rant of mine for a while.  Finding clothing that is appropriate for children when everything is made to be sexualized.  Finding little girl dresses for my girls who love to wear dresses.  My kids do not have cell phones and unlimited access to the internet or mature shows.  We try very much to keep our children as children.

However, it is hard.  This year Michelle asked me for Under Armour clothing.  This is the first time she requested certain name brand clothing.  I did buy her two the clearance rack.  I guess that they are last years color or style but Michelle didn't know that, she was delighted. She also started with a lot of inappropriate talk at other homes and on the bus. 

I wondered who was wearing Under Armour and who she was trying to impress with her talk.  Then I went to her end of year ceremony.  Next to Michelle sat a girl who didn't look as though she belonged in the third grade classroom.  Her eye brows were waxed, hair highlighted and enough make-up on that I could see it from across the room.  During the class video I could see that she didn't have this look earlier in the year, there was no great bushy need to wax her eyebrows. I thought to myself, what else do her parents have to give her when she hits older milestones?

I have seen kids in the third grade with cell phones and walking around with IPad's.  I have sat and listened to them talk at dance and it scares me.  Our children aren't children anymore.  I feel as though I am fighting an uphill battle in keeping my children as children. 

The last two years the kids have gone to a day camp that was sponsored by our local recreation department.  This year we are not sending them.  Last year Larissa had problems with a 7 year old boy asking her for sex!  Uh, not what we want our kids exposed to just yet.

I feel that they have only a short time to be kids.  All those responsibilities will come soon enough.  I even tell my older kids to slow down and they don't believe me until they are out in the world.  Sarah is our first child to take advantage of staying at home and going to college.  She gets to concentrate on college and has made the Dean's list. 

So I wonder, is it just me?  Am I just being "old fashioned" by wanting my kids to be kids?  Do any other parents feel this way?  What are your thoughts?

For this summer, my kids will be kids.  They are going to spend their summer swimming, playing, fighting and doing some academics.  We will be working hard on some behaviors and attachment. the next school year will come all too soon.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Catching Up

I am trying to catch up.  The kids are now out of school so life has gotten quite busy.  We have been working fast to try and prepare the yard for a church party this Wednesday and Tasha and Ethan's wedding party on Sunday.  we have several projects going on at the same time, lots of multi-tasking.  Pictures will come later.

School ended well. Anthony had his IEP meeting and will receive more services next year.  Treating his educational issues as though he had a brain injury in the past is actually very beneficial.  Once I mentioned that to his teachers they were able to come up with more specific ideas. It is a totally different way of looking at some of his issues.  He has educational and behavioral issues but we have come to realize that some of his behavioral issues were in fact educational/processing issues.  Dr. West wrote me a little chart which showed the learning curve of a child without any brain injury, the curve went up.  Then he wrote the curve for a child with a brain injury.  It also went up but at a certain point it didn't increase at the same rate as a child without an injury.  It seems that at this point we are seeing issues with Anthony struggling to keep up.  His curve is starting to lag behind in areas other than math.

I have been asked why I am willing to accept the brain injury diagnosis so quickly.  I don't think that it matters why he is struggling, just that with that diagnosis the school is much more able to deal with his challenges.  Whether he has had a brain injury or not really doesn't matter.  It fits him and helps everyone to better deal with his challenges.  His behavior issues still exist but are easier to deal with when we are able to separate out the processing issues.

Larissa has decided that she wants to go back to school, kind of.  I met several times with the school trying to determine how to help her to be successful.  She has the behavioral issues (anxiety, bipolar), educational issues as well as health issues.  Her epilepsy has a huge impact on her ability to cope.  Tiredness is a big problem.  We wanted to have her seizures under control this year but are still working on medications.  There is a balance between dealing with the effects of her medications and her seizures.  Her seizures have reached a point where they are impacting her IQ. 

After many discussions we have decided to put Larissa in a self contained classroom next year.  She will come out for several classes.  They will have a couch for her to sleep on if she needs it (she used to sleep at lunch, recess and on the bus).  I have looked at the classroom and feel that it will be a good fit for her.  I believe that her teacher will be able to help her with her anxiety.  We really don't want to medicate for anxiety since we are struggling with the seizure medications.  She will have much more wrap around services.  I have talked to Larissa about our plans and she is very happy with it, actually she seemed relieved.  We will meet again before school starts.  Putting her in a self contained classroom was a very hard decision for me.  However, seeing her relief made me realize that it is really in her best interest.  Once she realized where she was going she was very excited about going back to school.

Emma and Michelle have no educational issues, they do very well at school.  However, we are dealing with mumbling from Emma.  Her teacher sent her to speech for an evaluation but she Emma spoke great during it.  I have the mumbling at home as well.  I didn't realize that she was doing it at school until I thought to ask her teacher about it.  I thought that she was just doing it as a control issue with me.  This is something that we will be working on over summer.

I actually have several issues that I am working on this summer. Control issues, stealing, lying, fighting and such.  The pool is a powerful positive reinforcement.  As far a travel plans we will be making it down to Florida later this summer.  That is about all we can afford, our vacation money went to helping a family.  We will recover because next summer we have big travel plans.

What do you hope to do this summer?