Friday, February 27, 2015

End Table Makeover

$5 garage sale find....

Add some accessories found around the house....

and do some Amazon shopping.

The light switch clicks and the doorbell works (batter operated).

The light works, battery operated.  Pounding bench in the back.

Little Man will love figuring this one out.  We don't actually have any of those around the house so I had to buy a new one.

Vice, he will enjoy screwing that big screw.  They are big and safe.

The screws are colored coordinated.

What he will find when he opens that door.  I imagine that he will eventually tear up the picture but I can easily print another one on my color printer.  Changing it up every now and then will be fun.

Containers, he loves containers.

Little Man will be one tomorrow!

(There are no button batteries or magnets in this project.  I had a little flashlight I was going to put in but I realized he would eventually get it open and he puts everything in his mouth)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

Our Strategies

In spite of the challenges of lying in our home we do have strategies to minimize lying. Many of our strategies have been developed over years of fostering.  Many foster children come into our home accomplished liars.  They have many reasons to lie, some simply learned it from watching their parents. They may lie to escape abuse, to hide family secrets, to please people, to get their needs met. There are many reasons why they may lie.  The problem is that once they are in a family those coping strategies aren't needed but are so much a part of their being.

When a child is accused of doing something their first reaction is to lie, deny, place blame somewhere else.  For small day to day issues I don't bother to accuse anyone.  For example, I don't ask who made a mess, I simply say that whoever made a mess needs to clean it up.  Then I walk away.  I took awhile but the kids have come to realize that if they actually clean up their mess then nothing more is said.  This prevents a lot of small lies throughout the day.

If I know that a child did something, I don't ask them if they did it.  Why give an opportunity for them to lie.  I simply tell them that they did something and go from there.  I have some kids who want to deny and I try not to get caught up in the argument.  It is amazing how some children will deny things that you just saw.  I just got new glasses, I can see.

We have the "do over".  If I do ask a child a direct question and I know that they are lying to me I will slow down and have the child think about their answer.  They are allowed to change what they just said out of habit.  If they do then it is as though they didn't lie the first time.  This is important because...

We have a different consequence for lying than we do for the infraction. I will tell them what the consequence is for the infraction and then what it is for the lie.  Two different consequences.  Many of my kids have come to realize that the consequence for the infraction is less than the lying.  Often the consequence for behavior is so simple; separate, go inside, go apologize, stop the game for a bit, go take care of it, don't do that again, follow the rules.  Small incidents that are not worthy of a consequence for lying.

I have read that you shouldn't take lying personal.  I agree but find it very hard.  I am sure that I have said many times that the lies are questioning my intelligence.  One time I asked Michelle how she thought that she would get away with some of her lies and she said that she has lived with some stupid people.  I told her that she doesn't now and she agreed.

I realize that I will not catch every lie.  I tell all my kids that some days I am weary of the lying so I just ignore them.  However, the important thing is that they know in their heart that they are lying. In the end they have to decide what makes their heart feel best.

Our current situation......

Our school therapist said to find something that is inconvenient for the child.  For Michelle I picked matching socks for lying to the police.  I consider lying to the police to be a pretty big offense. Michelle does not like to match socks.

This is her pile after she said there were no more matches.  I sat down for a minute and found 14.  There are many matches left.

I don't expect her to match every sock, but I do expect some effort.  She has been matching socks for days.  Actually she does just about everything else.  I have found socks hidden all throughout the room, I know that she has made sock puppets and other games.  I talked to the school therapist today and she said to not give up.  We are in the middle of a sock battle.

On a side note, I tried doing the switch on Michelle.  I offered her two choices for lunch.  When she picked one I gave her the other saying that she lied so much I thought that she really wanted the other.  It didn't work, she said she did.  Ha, thought I would try it.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lying - Follow Up

On Monday I met with the school counselor.  We talked for quite a while and then we had Michelle come in so we could talk with her about her lying.  Her teacher has also caught her in lies.

Lying has been an ongoing problem.  The incident over the weekend was a huge wake up for all of us.  Her lying could have caused trouble for someone if a man matching her description had been around at that time.  She put herself in danger going into a home of someone she didn't know.  Lied to us, neighbors and police.

Yesterday she went to the police department to retract her false statement.  They talked to her for a while about how lies can be harmful.

I asked the school counselor for suggestions for a local therapist.  She said I wouldn't find one!  I have asked my local friends, no suggestions but I did get one private message from another foster parent telling me that she needs one too so let her know if I find one.

The problem is her lying has become a habit for her.  I am at the point where I don't believe her innocent talk about her day anymore. So right now she is only allowed to talk to me about things that she needs.  I need a break from the lying.

The thing is, she is still lying.  She lied to the orthodontist today. She doesn't even stop and think, it seems like lying is easier then speaking the truth.

I have studied lying for quite a while.  Habitual lying, compulsive lying, pathological lying.  People lie for many reasons:  low self-esteem, to get attention, to make themselves seem more exciting, to get out of trouble, to please others.

I have been reading about adults who lie and it is sad.  They lose relationships and jobs.  They even move once everyone learns about their lying only to repeat the lying with new people and in new places.  They are miserable.  Say that they can't stop, that lying is easier than telling the truth.  There are many who want to stop but haven't found a way to do so.

I don't want that future for Michelle.  Her lying is so bad that if she doesn't make changes now it will become very difficult for her to change.  But how do you do that?  The thing is, she needs to make that change.  She has to decide to stop, think and tell the truth.  I already have an "out" in place, if the kids say something that I believe to be a lie I ask them to rethink what they are saying and give them a do-over.  All the kids except for Michelle take me up on that.

A big problem is that you can't take away talking.  If a kid is raiding the pantry at night you can lock it up.  They don't have access so the problem can be stopped or controlled.  With lying it is not possible to take away the temptation.  Michelle talks with a lot of people during the day and has many opportunities to lie to all of them.  Lies that may never be noticed by anyone but her.

This is not something that I can control.  However, at this moment I am controlling the lies to me.  I will only talk to her about things that I know she has to be truthful to me.  I don't know how long I will do this.  One site I read say that the way to change is one truth at a time.

I have been talking to Michelle about the long term consequences of lying.  I will sit her down and let her read some of the comments made by adults who say they are compulsive liars and hate it.  She is the one who has to want the change.  She has to understand the damage that her lying is doing.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

We Have a Runner

We had some excitement today.  John is working on a paper for one of his masters classes so I decided that after church I would take the kids to go pick Sarah up and do a little shopping.

Then the lying started.  Michelle was intent on getting Emma in trouble so was telling lies. I wasn't buying it and John said that she could just stay home with him.

Apparently this didn't sit too well with Michelle.  Right after we left she snuck out of the house and went to the house across that street......without shoes.  I am not sure what her long term objective was.

The neighbors weren't sure if she was one of ours or not and Michelle was adamant that she wasn't so they called the police.  As soon as Michelle saw the police she panicked and said that she did live across the street but ran out because a man with a beard chased her out of the house.  She was screaming and crying that this really happened.

Her runaway plan wasn't too well thought out.  No shoes, no coat, no extra clothing or food.  I don't think that she really meant to stay gone.  I guess she got all the attention that she was seeking.  She did ruin our plans since I took Sarah back to school early and came home.

We decided to move her bedroom to the FROG.  I have come to realize that she is not happy that Emma is doing so well.  Emma has been getting more privileges lately and that is not sitting well with Michelle.  She has been trying to sabotage Emma and I am trying to avoid that.  I was going to use the FROG as a sewing room but that has been put on hold.

The girls have a long history of moving to new homes frequently.  Every move was because of Emma's tantrums.  Michelle has always flown under the radar.  She has been able to tell her lies without notice.  Her world is shifting as Emma is healing.  This new reality is hard for Michelle.  I hadn't really noticed it until today but looking back I can see the lies and manipulation that Michelle has been doing in an effort to sabotage Emma.

I don't think that Michelle realizes herself what her motivation is.  I will talk with her.  I will try to make her see that her behavior is not connected with her sister.  That they can both heal and grow. I hope that having separate rooms will help.

I am a huge advocate of keeping siblings together whenever possible but I have to say that sometimes I wonder if the girls would have been better off being separated.  I believe that Emma should have gone to a therapeutic home and Michelle would not have had as many moves if she was not attached to her sister.  Michelle remembers every home, rejection and move.  She blames her sister for them. They do not have a good sister relationship.  They both fight for Larissa, putting her in the middle.

But they did get placed together and now have to learn to live in the same family together. Actually, in the end I think that our little runner helped me to see a problem.  Now to see if we can solve it.

Taking Time for Each Other

My husband and I consider it very important to take take for ourselves.  When Sarah was here we would get out twice a month.  Just the two of us.  Such a luxury.  Now that she has left we are committed to going out on a date at least once a month.

We went out last night for Valentine's Day.  Simple, nice dinner and a movie.

Yes, we talked about the kids.  We spend a lot of our time at home parenting and don't have much free time to freely discuss issues.  Sometimes we need to get on the same agenda.  We might discuss how to deal with a specific issue with a specific child.  We might discuss where we think all the kids are emotionally, academically, behaviorally and discuss strategy.

However, we don't just talk about kids.  We enjoy having adult conversations without child input and interruptions.

We are maintaining our relationship because it is important.  Our family is woven together and held together by our relationship.  So we take time for each other.

We even take selfies.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Neurologist Again

Back to the neurologist.

Conversation with our neurologist...

Neurologist: I think that we need to have Larissa seen by developmental peds.
Me: Why?
Neurologist: Well, every time she comes in her behavior is different.
Me: ????
Neurologist: Have you ever heard of selective mutism?
Me: Uh, yes.
Neurologist: She has never talked to me.
Me: if you asked her questions that required an answer besides shaking of the head she would respond. Oh, and her records indicate that she was diagnosed with SM when she was 2 years old. What does this have to do with her seizures and tiredness?
Me: and if you recall she has been diagnosed bi-polar.  Her seizure medications have helped greatly with her major mood swings.

We left with no new plan of action.  We have an appointment to go back in 6 months.

Same problem, she is tired.  She has seizures and some type of sleeping episodes that disrupt her sleep.  I don't feel like we are getting any answers.  I am looking for a new neurologist.

After her appointment we picked Sarah up and went to lunch.  Sarah is feeling the stress of exam time so we did a little retail therapy.  We dropped her off at school a much happier kid.

(Sometimes I think that Larissa looks tired and puffy in her pictures.)

Driving home I asked Larissa why she never talked to the neurologist.  She said because she didn't have anything to say to her.

She then took a nap.

Thursday, February 12, 2015


We have a little hair growth.  I am able to get two little pony tails.  I try to keep her bangs trimmed since long bangs lead to her hair cutting.

Along with the hair growth we have emotional growth.  There are many ears where she still struggles but thankfully I see growth in her attachment to her family.

The tantrums aren't totally gone but the days of her screaming that she wants a new family are and the tantrums are of a manageable level.

Little tokens of love are offered to me and she accepts my love.  My desk is cluttered with many love notes at this time of the year and hers are included.

This is a child who endured many moves at a crucial time in her life.  A child whose social worker thought at the tender age of 4 that she would one day age out of the system.  A child who didn't know what a family was until she entered our home.

A child who is worthy of a family, of a mother's love.

She is worthy.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

My Picture Wall

It took me about two weeks to venture out to the garage to cut a piece of wood down to make my little sign.  Then it took me 30 minutes to actually paint the sign.  I don't know why I procrastinate so much!

Anyways, my wall of pictures is finally finished.

The frames aren't all the same color or size.  I fit them together for optimum coverage.

I gathered pictures from the garage, closets and other storage areas.

Pictures that have never been hung and some that have at other homes.

Baby pictures of my now adult children.

All types of pictures of our life over many years.

And I love it: so many children, so many stories, so many memories.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Giving Praise

Giving praise can be so complicated.  Sure, I know all the "rules".  Make sure it is sincere, specific, focused on the effort.  So when Michelle came home with good grades in her Friday folder I praised her specifically about her improved effort and how it is showing results.  I was sincere and not over the top.  You can't ever be over the top because it backfires.  Poor grades is something we have been working on.

Then comes Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.  All days with behavior problems at school.  Typically she doesn't have a lot of behavior problems at school.  I called her teacher to see if she knew what was up.  She was about to call me to see if I knew what was up.

Sarah left a few weeks ago but other than that there have been no changes.  Michelle does not have much of a relationship with Sarah, Larissa does and cried and cried over her leaving.  Michelle, nothing.  We were discussing the last week when her teacher mentioned her grades and how she praised her over them last Friday.  Uh oh.  Too much praising.

She worked it out, she came home Friday with all F's.  Not just low scores but zero's to 33.  I didn't say much.  I just handed her the papers to redo them.  If you fail a test here you get the opportunity to redo it over the weekend.  She took all weekend to redo the papers.  I showed her how to do the math many. many times.  Anthony showed her, a friend showed her.  Everyone showed her how to do her division problems.  The thing is, the week before she did the same type of problems with a 100 score.

She spent a lot of time not correcting her test.  Saturday she got a break as we went and picked Sarah up to go shopping.  However, she didn't realize that Sunday was the big game day.  We had friends coming over the watch the Superbowl and lots of food was prepared.  She did come and eat but didn't get to participate in the festivities.

(This was not all of our food, we had food everywhere,)

She realized her error but it was just too late.  She went to bed early on Sunday.

This week, she is doing great.  She has had a green every day so far. I wonder if she will come home with good grades on Friday.  I wonder what I will say if she does!

I am curious, anyone else struggling with this issue?  If so, how do you deal with it?

Sunday, February 1, 2015


 Larissa is loving dance this year.  She has been part of a team that dances for different programs in our county. Last week they practiced every day of the week.  Everyone is exhausted.

This year we opted not to use a hairpiece.  She does have a lot of hair!

She asked me if she could do modeling.  I am not sure about that.  We don't live in an area that has lots of opportunities in that area.  I am also not sure if I would have time to devote to that.  It is something which I know nothing about.  Although, I do think that she might enjoy it on a small level.

However, I think that she will just have to satisfy herself with dance.