Wednesday, August 27, 2014


How do you do mealtimes?

Our breakfast and lunch times are pretty casual.  Kids get up and eat when they want to.  Lunch is a little more organized because I feed the kids at the same time.  However, dinner is a more formal sit down affair.  We squeeze around our table (I would love to have a bigger one) and say a prayer before eating.  The kids say the prayer and we have to go in alphabet order so I can keep track of whose turn it is.  Visitors get crammed in too.

We teach table manners.  We talk about our day.  It is a time for everyone to get together.  We do this most days but I imagine that as the kids get older this will become more of a challenge as their schedules will start to conflict with dinner time. We do not own TV trays.

Eating at the table as a family is a nice skill to have when going out to eat.  My kids eat out very well.  They know that they are not going to run around.  They sit and eat politely.  They know how to place their orders and show respect to the waiters. They know how to squeeze into booths so that we can all eat together.  We don't like getting separate tables when we go out, sometimes that is a challenge for our family.

When I see kids at restaurants running around I wonder if they eat together at home.  When I see kids throw food around and bark orders to the waiters I wonder if they are taught respect at home.  I am getting off subject, pet peeve for me is not training your children at home how you expect them to behave in public.

Anyone else still have the family meal?

One of my kids favorite meals - Crockpot roast and gravy

First thing in the morning sear meat using a good bit of flour (at least 1/2 cup), seasonings and oil (This day it was a London broil on sale)

Put the meat, oil, flour and seasoning into the crockpot. Scrape all the little tasty bits our of the skillet.

Add some water, this will later be your gravy.

Cook for hours and hours.  Stir every now and then throughout the day.  The smell will make you hungry all day.  By dinner time (around 6 at our house) the meat will be nice and tender and the gravy a little thick.  You can make it thicker by adding a mixture of flour or cornstarch and a little bit of cold water about an hour before serving. The oil will rise to the surface and can be spooned off if you want. 

Pull out the meat and you are left with gravy.

It is a tasty Southern meal that we serve on our fancy Corelle plates.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Michelle and Larissa have been roommates for a few months now. I must say that I am happy with how well they have been doing. They have the usual squabbles that sisters have but they also have good times. I consider their relationship to be pretty typical and I am so pleased that they are building their relationship. 

Michelle turned 9 in July and Larissa will be 9 in September.

The castle bed is long gone, another little girl is enjoying it.  I got rid of it because I felt that the girls considered it to be Larissa's bed.  I wanted the bedroom to be Michelle and Larissa's bedroom. Also, the girls are getting older so I want to move up to a preteen type room.

I am slowly working on the girls room.  Each girl has picked their color and I am painting desks.  I finished Larissa's old desk and bought one for Michelle.  I bought the paint but haven't painted it yet.  I have some things to paint for babies and then will get back to work on the girls room.  Honestly, money has been an issue.  My budget hasn't allowed me the opportunity to get to Lowe's for building material.  Money is another blog post!

October will be three years since the girls came home.  The system is so slow that it took until May of 2013 to complete the adoption.  I don't think it would have even happened then if I hadn't put in numerous complaints to the state.  The therapist that the girls saw stopped seeing them stating that she really couldn't do much more since they didn't have permanency.

I think that all the moves had different impacts on the girls.  Emma came out with serious attachment issues.  She barely remembers all the moves and the time is a blur.  Michelle on the other hand remembers every move.  Every rejection.  As much as Emma wanted to move on when feelings got uncomfortable, Michelle wanted to stay and was always fearful that we would have them moved.  She enjoys being stuck.

However, she also developed ways to cope. These coping skills are not beneficial to her.  She wants to please in such a way that she will tell you lies instead of the truth so that she can tell you what she thinks you want to hear. I have told her that she is stuck with us regardless of her behavior and that I prefer the truth over lies.  I don't know that we have gotten anywhere with the lying but I am taking a break and ignoring them. 

She has also developed a serious issue with jealousy.  I am sure that some of this comes from moving so much and having everything taken from her while watching other kids who have stability.  Her jealousy tends to make her act out in mean ways. We are working through this but I feel that she will always have some level of jealousy that she will deal with.  Her therapist felt that this would be a lifelong issue for her as well.

Relationships are hard for Michelle.  I watch her at church and I see that some of her peers exclude her.  She has tried sitting with them but they are not welcoming.  I told her to sit with Larissa and lately she has started doing that. In the past she has had issues with inappropriate talk.  She also does a lot of attention seeking behaviors that kids just don't appreciate and adult find annoying. 

Larissa tends to be very shy but has excellent relationships.  My hope is that by pairing them together that Michelle will be able to learn from Larissa on how to build positive relationships.  I talk to Michelle all the time about building relationships but watching a peer do so has a bigger impact.

Sometimes Larissa feels the pressure of having good relationships with all her siblings and she will come to me asking for space.  She needs time alone and it is hard to get when Michelle and now Emma follow her every move.  The other day I watched as Emma followed Larissa in the pool, move for move.  I could see Larissa getting irritated so I called Emma to me to talk with her (to give Larissa a break).  When Larissa asks me for space I make sure that she gets it.

A year ago Larissa and Michelle could not room together.  Today they are doing just that.  Time, patience, love and consistency slowly do make change.  Sometimes it is hard to see the change when you live with some of the same issues day by day.  However, the intensity of these issues are slowly diminishing.

Look for a bedroom makeover by October 1st.  I have a lot to do.

The Calls Begin

The calls from school begin.  I have a feeling that it is going to be a very long year. 

Anyone have suggestions for a kid who does not want to do their homework? 

Anthony has a terrible aversion to the stuff.  I can understand when he finds it challenging, I really can.  However, it isn't challenging yet.  Last week he had one sheet where he just wrote anything hoping that I wouldn't notice.  He was in the pool when I had to get him out to really do his homework.  It took him about 10 minutes to do it properly but he lost the pool for the rest of the day.

Yesterday I got a call from his teacher.  There was one math sheet he was supposed to do.  Did I receive the paper I was supposed to sign?  No  I didn't.  She said it was in his folder today and she went to check on it.  In his folder he found another child's paper with all the correct answers.  He was so intent on not doing this one page that he was willing to lie, deceive and cheat.  I thought it must be a hard page of math but when he sat at home to do it he spent maybe 5 minutes on it and when I checked it they were all correct.

If he is doing this when the work is not too difficult for him, how is it going to be when it is hard?  I can't seem to find the right motivation for him.  This was a big problem last year however I thought that it was because the work was too hard.  So far the homework is review and it hasn't taken him too long to do.  I would rather have a good motivation in place instead of having to discipline for noncompliance. 

Yesterday I told him my expectations about homework.  I also made him very aware that his teacher and I communicate often.  We are only on week two of school, I think that it is going to be a very long year for Anthony.  He has a lot of growing to do.  Next year he goes to the middle school where more will be expected of him.

I have also come to the conclusion that he needs to see a therapist for his anger.  His medication does take the edge off of it but it boils under the surface.  His biofather had the same issue and it didn't work out too well for him.  I want to prevent it from becoming a bigger problem for Anthony as he ages.  I have reached out to my local parents for therapist suggestions with no success. I have emailed the play therapist that the girls saw to see if she has any suggestions.  As far as talking therapists, I have just not had much luck in this area.  I hear rumors of great therapists in other areas and am jealous.  Hopefully this time around I can find someone who Anthony can connect with.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

$1 Kite

Larissa lost a tooth. Around here teeth are worth a dollar. She chose to spend her dollar on a kite at Dollar General.

We had just a touch of a breeze today. 

When was the last time you flew a kite?

Friday, August 22, 2014


It is real quiet at our house.  I am supposed to be filing papers (wow, huge project, procrastination is bad) and am instead online.

Right now it is bedtime for the kids.  They are in the dining room/kitchen area being very quiet.  Every now and then I hear them shush each other because they know it is past their bedtimes, they don't want me to hear them and look at the time.

I can hear paper crumpling and the sound of tape.  I can hear them whispering.  I know it is time to get ready for bed.  However, when they are cooperating and playing well together I stretch bedtime.  Tomorrow is Saturday anyways.

Sarah just walked through and asked what they were doing.  They are playing restaurant with the cook (Michelle), waiter (Anthony) and customers (Larissa and Emma).  After a while they will eventually start to quibble with each other.  When I notice this starting I will intervene and tell them that I love how they were playing together.  Then I will tell them it is past time to get ready for bed and that they were so quiet I didn't realize how late it had gotten. 

They love it when they get to stay up later because they were playing well together.  I love that they are able to cooperate long enough to extend bedtime. 

I also love the quiet moments.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


As we were coming out of school last year and into the summer I wrote a venting blog about Emma.  A big issue going on at the time was control issues over food.  She was not eating meals with the family but was getting up in the middle of the night to make junk food raids. 

I said that she was stealing food and that has made some people upset.  It is my take on it.  When she gets up in the middle of the night to go into her grandmothers room to take her sugar free candy stash, go into her dads office to take his favorite snacks, into my desk to do the same.  I call it stealing food. 

I am curious, do you have a stash of your favorite foods?  I purchase the kids their snacks and candies and then I purchase mine.  I do not like theirs.  I don't eat what I buy for them and I put my favorites in my desk.  Apparently in some homes this is just wrong to do.  I don't know, my parents used to have their favorite stashes.  In my house we have our favorite stash.  Sarah has one too.  But that doesn't mean that the younger kids are denied their favorite foods.

Apparently the kids should have total access to all food.  We don't.  I never have with younger kids.  I can't even imagine how I could afford that, our grocery bill is closer to $2500 these days. At breakfast they prepare what they want.  At lunch too....unless I am cooking.  At snack times they can go get an appropriate snack.  If you come to me and I am preparing dinner and ask for food I will tell you to wait for dinner (unless it is hours away).  If you get up from the dinner table and want to go and eat junk food I will direct you back to the dinner table.  For school lunches I provide either money to buy them or all the stuff to make them.  I give them snack and fruit choices, sandwich choices.  I am curious, do you allow total unlimited access to the kitchen to their younger kids? 

I have been called abusive to Emma because of limiting her food choices because she needs to have a stash of food. I want to make this clear, Emma does not stash food.  Emma does not store up for a later time.  When she is given a larger amount of candy (Halloween, Christmas, Easter type days) she will consume all of it within the day if you allow her to do so.  I just started giving less at those times and allowed her to gorge.  The problem is she will eat hers and then get up in the middle of the night to eat yours.  She doesn't go for the healthy food, the fruits, crackers, cheese, granola bars or even cereal.  She goes for the junk food, candy, grandmas sugar free candy even.  If she thinks it is candy/snack food she goes for it. She does not take it and stash it for an emergency.  She eats it all because she refuses to eat what is provided by her mom.

Emma has been in our home almost 3 years.  The first year was intense eating. The girls had to eat every two hours.  We let them eat every two hours.  Slowly they missed a snack on their own.  Slowly they started to eat at regular intervals. Then last December Emma started eating less meals.  At one point she totally stopped eating dinner.  I had to investigate.  Why was she not eating meals that were prepared for her and the entire family ate together?  The answer was she was self feeding in the middle of the night, junk food.

I stopped the self feeding and made sure that all food that she got was provided by me. I didn't let her go hungry, that would totally defeat the purpose of having her learn that I will provide.  The peanut and butter sandwiches that she got when we went out were actually her comfort food.  This happened a total of two times, we can't afford to eat out that often.  She actually had no problem with it.  She sat next to me and I fed her.  I provided her meal, it was made by me. She took her lunches to school prepared by me.  She had school snacks provided by me. For about 2 weeks we did this and then we relaxed, we caught her going back to her old ways.  We tried again for a little less than a month.  Intense mom provides.  Worked with the school to ensure that I was there for parties to provide.  Then we gave her freedom again. 

This time I felt a change.  She came to me for food.  She came to me for affirmation in other areas (something that she had never done).  She became more centered on me.  Wanted me to watch her.  Wanted me.

Emma has done a lot of healing over the summer, we seriously worked on attaching, learning trust.  I worked on ensuring that she trusted me to provide for her. Her fear wasn't about food, her fear was that an adult would not provide for her.  She feared relying on her mom.  She was in seven different homes, one an adoptive placement.  Adults were someone who let her down.  I didn't let her down.  She now eats with the family. She eats whatever everyone else does when we eat out, new places she wants a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made by me.  She knows that I will provide for her.
Learning to trust me has been a huge jump in her life.  Her summer was one of great growth.  You just have no clue what a change this has made in her life.  She is so much more content and less vigilant.  I love this child, many days I listened to her screaming while my heart broke.  Six months of screaming for hours and hours.  No one was willing to stay the course.  We stayed the course.  She is worthy of someone staying the course for her.  Every child deserves the love and security of a parent who they can trust.  She now feels that, the love of a mom....even if she is a little crazy

Interesting that today I realized how much the school has actually been listening to me.  Emma forgot her backpack and realized it when I dropped her off.  I went home to retrieve it.  With my older kids they would have been out of luck, lesson learned.  It is different parenting hurt kids.  I had to show that I would provide, even if it was a backpack.  When I walked in to the school with the backpack someone in the office offered to take it to her.  The secretary said no, that she would call Emma down so that I could hand it to her to show her that I brought it to her.  Yep, they have been listening.

I spent a long time today looking over old pictures.  Some of them have not been on the blog because at that time the girls were not ours.  I can show them now.  And yes, she gets dirty in 30 seconds flat and enjoys cutting her hair often.  I love it when she has the long blond hair.  Here are a few....

When she would tantrum I would occasionally take a picture to mark the time.  At this point those pictures stopped.  Those are not pictures I will share.  Wonder if they went with the bangs!

Right dimple

Left dimple