Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Teenager Anthony

Over the summer Anthony turned 13. He is officially a teenager. Time flies. I still remember that little wild 2 year old that showed up at my doorstep. So wild that he was already rejected by his first foster home.  So wild that we had a hard time taking him anywhere.

I recall one day he had a major tantrum in Walmart. I told my husband to take him out to the car. He looked at me horrified and said that he couldn't because what if someone thought that he was trying to take him. I told him that he could let security hold him for a bit while DSS was contacted. Haha, he wasn't up for that so we stopped shopping and left early.

He had so many hurdles. No communication, no one talked to him before he came into care. Benjamin is about the age now that Anthony was when he came into care. I couldn't even begin to tell you how many words Benjamin uses, complete sentences. Anthony knew one word, mom. He called everyone mom. He didn't have a bed, wasn't taught how to eat, didn't know how to play (he made everything into guns). He acted out in ways that a toddler shouldn't. He had seen too much in his short years. So much that impacted his behavior for years.

He was a wild child with thick skin and wild hair. They thought that he was mentally disabled. He was angry, so much anger for such a small child. Broken furniture and walls were the norm.

His biological parents handed him a raw deal. His mom drank and did drugs while she was pregnant. Someone along the way shook him. There is no telling who did that since they were living in a communal type of situation. If he had not come into care I hate to think of what type of person he would be today. His biological parents are in the same situation that they were when the kids came into care. When they met their dad he told them that he was glad that we adopted them because he still couldn't take care of himself. I watch for him on the streets and when I don't see him I check the jail. Often that is where he is found. Their mother went on to have one more child who was born with major medical issues. She signed the baby over to DSS because she wasn't prepared to deal with it. She is still on drugs and not in a good place.

I will be honest. In the beginning I did not have those love feelings. There were days that we were just hanging on. There were some very hard days, years. But we stuck. We took him to extra speech therapy. We got him all the services and testing that we could. We didn't think of passing him along when the furniture got destroyed and the walls got holes (OK, we thought about it but never acted on it because we knew that a move would be detrimental to him). We stuck and eventually we loved. When it was apparent that they would terminate the parental rights we already knew that we would adopt him. We didn't set out to do an interracial adoption. We set out to be foster parents. He came to us from a black family. No other black family in our county was willing to take him because of his behaviors. We are well aware that there will be challenges because of our different races. I will blog about that in another post. 

He is my son, he is loved, sometimes I don't feel that I express that enough to him when we are in the trenches. I still see so many behaviors that I worry for him. However, we have also seen some improvements that have come with a little more maturity. His anger level has definitely decreased and this has been noticed by more people than me (a big woohoo). He also doesn't engage in the girls drama as often as he used to although he can be quite a sarcastic kid and sometimes he goes too far with it. He was delighted when we adopted Benjamin (we are now 4 boys to 7 girls). I am delighted when I see his compassion and caring with Benjamin. I love to see his growth and wonder what the next few years hold. It shall be an interesting journey.


Monday, August 29, 2016


Life has been so busy that I find myself not taking the time to blog. I don't blog because nothing is happening, I don't blog because I am too tired. So, I have told myself that I will write every day in September. Hmmm, lets see if I can keep it up.

Friday, August 26, 2016


Jason and Joselin have moved out. It is strange to not have an extra adult on hand. They are nice to have on hand if you want to run a quick errand without any children. They were also my late night people. My husband goes to bed early while I am a night owl. I get up early as well but only because I have to. It is nice to have an adult to chat with. I will miss having everyone gone although hopefully my food bill will go down.

Tasha has started her college program. She is moving as well so I kept Vaida one night to help her out. I sure love my sweet grandbaby. She is such a sweet girl, so quiet and calm compared to Benjamin. However, that doesn't mean she doesn't get into things! I had some glitter sitting around and naturally she found it. My dining room is sparkly.

It is hard to believe that she will be 2 next month. Time sure flies and babies grow up fast.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Trying to Find Normal

We are still trying to find our normal here. Lucky for me the school bus decided that they would pick my kids up on the way back so they get picked up after 7, we were leaving at 7 to get the kids to two different schools on time. So no more driving in the morning for me! Yay, that means I don't have to wake up Benjamin. Sarah went back to college Sunday and Jason and Joselin have one foot out the door so I had no adult at home to watch him even in his sleep.

In a few weeks I go back to the school for Larissa's IEP. So far they have not done any testing. I have my paperwork done and I believe that they will get their done in time. They have 30 days from the first meeting but we made the next meeting for 3 weeks. From the first week of papers I can see that she has the same grammar, spelling issues as usual. I see more problems with reading comprehension and I assume that is the difference between a classroom full of kids and one on one instruction. For free reading I noticed that her teacher gave her a book that is way below her reading level. However, Larissa says that she really likes it so I am letting it be since it is reading for enjoyment and she is enjoying it. Emma on the other hand came home with a book that is way above her reading level. She picked it because there was a dog on the front. At reading time tonight she just thumbed through the pages, not really reading it at all.

Anthony and Michelle come home with no homework. Anthony did that often last year and then we found out he did have homework, he was just getting away with not doing it since there was no communication. The lack of communication is a concern of mine. The kids go from 5th grade where they give daily behavior charts to the parents to almost nothing at the middle school. The behavior has to be repeated several times before  parent hears about it, if they hear about it at all. I realized last year that Anthony was forging my signature often. I have an email in to his teacher letting her know that I want an email whenever he is written up. I do wonder how Michelle is doing, She rarely had a good week last year, I doubt that changed over the summer.

Benjamin is really acting out. No is his favorite new word. He sulks and has more tantrums than usual. I hope that he gets used to being the only child home during the day soon!

Curious, are all of your children back to school? What is the most frustrating part of the new year for you?

Friday, August 19, 2016

Week One

Week one of school is over. It has been a rough week. Benjamin is struggling with everyone being gone. I have played many games and watched too many cartoons with him. He wants me by his side all the time and has major breakdowns when I leave the house. Sarah goes back to college Sunday and my husband is going TDY next week so I imagine that next week will be hard too. The following week Jason and Joselin will move out. Actually they will start moving on Monday, they are getting the key to their new place over the weekend and will start moving all their stuff (they have a lot of stuff in my garages).

Larissa has a good first day followed by a terrible crying and sleeping day. Wednesday was fine and Thursday I picked her up early to go to the doctors for the note that the school IEP team wants. Her doctor isn't too sure that going back to school is the best idea but she wrote me the note I needed. Naturally I picked her up a little early so we could do lunch. At lunch she told me that she was crying on Tuesday because she was stressed. She couldn't articulate on Tuesday what the problem was. We talked about some coping ideas and what to do at school when she feels that way.

Emma is happy with her teacher. She is new to the school so I don't know much about her. I do know that she has several pieces of paperwork that I have to sign daily, not sure if I will be able to keep up with that. She had meet the teacher on Thursday which I totally missed.

Thursday was one of those days. Anthony had an ortho appt in Columbia. The plan was to meet my husband for dinner, stop off at dance registration and head over to the school for meet the teacher (it was only 30 minutes long) then go to a Norwex fundraising party a little late. Anthony's ortho broke one of his brackets. That meant that we were at the office until closing, met my husband late for a little Moe's. We were running so late that he took some of the kids home while I went to dance registration and Norwex party. We didn't get back to town in time for the school event.

Michelle is enjoying middle school. She wants to join everything. Science club, book club, chorus, Spanish club. Problem with that is they are all after school and someone has to pick her up those nights. Reading the science club newsletter I see that I would need to pick her up at the same time that I am dropping Larissa off for dance. The letter says that if we are 15 minutes late they will participate in the Be Great Academy Safety Net Program, I have no idea what that is but doesn't sound good. Of course the attached sheet explaining this program is no attached. With Jason gone I am back to being the only driver home until about 6. Anthony never wanted to join any of these clubs and Michelle wants to join every one of them. I am thinking that I need to tell her to pick 2 of her favorites and manage that.

Anthony is happy with his classes. He has the same special education teacher that he had last year. He has complained about Michelle, tells me that she does stuff to embarrass him. Ah, the challenges of having siblings at school. He has no interest in joining anything. He doesn't want to do sports, any type of music or clubs. He is going to Boy Scouts with Kim so hopefully he will start to enjoy that. I wish that he would develop an interest in something.

The weekend is here and it will be a busy one. We have 4 painting parties tomorrow and then Sarah gets moved into her dorm on Sunday. Then we start a week without daddy coming home. I miss him already!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016


Day 1 went great. All the kids were happy to start a new year. All the kids came home happy.

Day 2, 3/4 of the kids came home happy. Larissa came home looking upset. She spent the rest of her day either crying or sleeping. She couldn't really explain what was wrong. From what she did say she sounded stressed. I am hoping that it is just an adjustment issue and that things will start to get better.

We try to give her every opportunity to be rested. She goes to bed at 8pm and is woken at 6:30. We leave at 7 for school drop offs. The buses wanted to come at 6:15 and we weren't willing to wake her before 6:30 so I take the kids to two different schools every morning. They take the buses home. Larissa and Emma are home at 3 and Michelle and Anthony get home a little after that.

Benjamin is having a hard time with being the only little one at home. He is doing a lot of acting out.

I took him to the shop and let him paint. He is getting a lot of mom time.

He is practicing his dancing as well.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Back to School

It is strange, tomorrow all the younger kids head to school leaving me with only Benjamin. I think that he will be lost. It feels strange, I am happy for Larissa, that she has decided to head back but there is a part of me that is going to miss having her around. She is such pleasant company. Seems like everywhere I turn I see some of her homeschooling books. I had bought some stuff for this year already and now I am at a loss with what to do with all of it.

Next week Sarah is heading back to college. I will miss having her around as well. It is nice to have another adult around to talk with! It is also nice to have a good babysitter on hand when I want to run out for an errand or appointment. I will miss her as well.

Kassi and Noah have moved out and are living with her mom. Sometimes I feel that she blocks me out. When she needs a mom the most she doesn't come to me. We did get to keep Noah for a few days last week and enjoyed having him around. He is such a chubby, happy baby. I hope that we are able to have a good relationship with him in the future.

Joselin and Jason are supposed to move out at the end of the month. I will miss having them around. Jason is my late night, have to have a gallon of milk runner. He always helps me out in a pinch and helps to clean up my shop after big events. I feel that my relationship with Joselin grows as her anger has diminished. She is not going back to that ex-boyfriend which is good. Her and Jason rooming together will be a good thing.

So, in the next month we will be down to just 5 kids at home and my mom. Seems strange. I feel like I have empty nest syndrome! But I don't know how that is possible when I still have 5 at home. I think that it isn't about whether kids are home or not, but the loss of those daily interactions.

Anyone else miss when their kids leave home?

Friday, August 12, 2016

Going Forward

I had a successful meeting with Larissa's team. Even though her IEP has expired they offered her the same services that she had when I pulled her out of school except that she will be going all day. She will be pulled out of class at math time to do math with another group and she will also get assistance with writing and spelling.  The school has 30 days to do all the testing that they want and we will meet again to make definite plans for services. I have to get another note from her doctor about how her seizures impact her in a school setting.

To recap her last year at public school, the first semester had her so stressed she was coming home, falling asleep and having seizures. Then she was starting to have some seizures while awake, something she never did. She was pulled out for math but sometimes she missed other lessons as well. She came back to class and had a difficult time catching up. The second semester she went to school half days. She received all of her core subjects (some in her regular classroom and some in special services). It was crazy, no related arts and she didn't feel like she was a part of her school. Her anxiety, stress levels did go down and her seizures came more under control.

This year she is back to full time (I am hoping that a little more maturity and coping skills help) but will only miss math when pulled out for math and spelling and some of writing when pulled for those subjects. She will not miss any instruction in any other subjects when pulled.

I am happy with her teacher. She has the same teacher that Joselin and Anthony had. We have a long history and communicate well. She is very nice and patient, something that Larissa thrives with. I have a feeling that she gets these special cases.

Larissa was upset and worried about being in a regular classroom.  However, we had meet the teacher night and she is feeling better about her teacher. Anthony talked to her and told her that she was really nice. I was surprised that he was helping to alleviate her fears, he has been a surly kid lately.

So we will see in a month where this leads. They want to retest her IQ to see if her seizures have had any impact. I will be curious to see those results. When at open house we went and saw some of her old teachers and I was surprised by some of her memory issues. All of them asked her what she did this summer and she struggled to remember trip to NC and TX. I prompted her each time and she forgot from one teacher to the next. I wonder if anxiety had something to do with it.

School starts on Monday here, say a prayer for her!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Back to School

Larissa suddenly decided that she wanted to go back to school. Then she got worried and asked if I would pick her up if she had a headache, she has been having more headaches lately. We had planned on putting her back into school when she went to middle school. Her IEP has expired so we were going to start early to make sure that everything was in place. Well, she is going back early and we hadn't gotten anything in place. She has no IEP or any other interventions in place.

Over a week ago I contacted the school to see what we needed to do. An email was sent up to the district level and I was copied on it. There was no response. This morning I got online and registered her. We had already discussed that we would do medical homebound if we had to. Well, I tried to register her online. I had to take proof of residency up to the school and when I got in the parking lot the school called me and asked me which kid did I try to register that morning. When I said Larissa, she responded that I actualy enrolled myself, Ack, I don't care to repeat 5th grade. I had a long conversation with the secretary and she promised to get stuff rolling. I later received a call from the school and we are having an emergency meeting in the morning.

When we pulled Larissa out the school was having a hard time dealing with the combination of health issues and learning disabilities. Really nothing has changed except that Larissa has matured some. Larissa did not do well when she was pulled out of class. She struggles in all areas so pulling her out meant that she missed some classroom instruction. She could not catch up in that. She also did half days. That didn't go so well, she didn't feel attached to the school and I didn't feel that she accomplished much at all in terms of academics.

It will be an interesting conversation to see if anyone has any ideas. Larissa has asked to stay in the self contained classroom. I am on the wall about that option. Hopefully tomorrow will be productive.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

I'm Back!

We got back from Texas and got extremely busy. The youth minister at our church is blind but can see with the help of some electronic glasses that cost $15,000. Naturally insurance doesn't cover them. No one at the church was willing to take on fund raising beyond a go fund me account so I decided to give it a go. I am not a fundraiser but I decided to do it for July. We had bake sales, raffles and ended with a painting party. I had a friend working with me and we had some crazy good bake sales. One bake sale brought in over $900, we raised over $3500 this month

We got back from Texas Wednesday and I had a bake sale that Friday, three painting parties on Saturday, moved my entire shop on Sunday, had art camp all week and a painting party today. I am tired. Very tired.

Larissa also had a dance performance this afternoon and we couldn't find her dance bag. Her outfit had white boots that went with it. We went out early this morning and bought white knee highs and new jazz shoes (we threw hers away after recital last year since they were too small). It was so tempting to just say we couldn't make it but we knew that there weren't a lot of dancers who volunteered so we had to go on. They did great but it was so hot.

So hot it required sno cones. We seem to have a little problem with sno cones at our house. We eat way too many of them.

Tomorrow I will write all about the changes is our painting studio. Lots of changes going on there.