Thursday, May 25, 2017

Recital

End of year dance recital was rough this year. Another dance studio rented the auditorium when our dance studio normally had recital. Therefore, we had dress rehearsal on Saturday evening and recital on Sunday at 3. The other studio left something on the floor which made it difficult to do turns and such on it. Larissa had her own challenge as she has been struggling with in-grown toe nails. We just get it cleared up and then she would get them again. I checked her shoes and they all fit well. She just got new pointe shoes. Then she stubbed her toe and I realized that she does that often. Her brain has not caught up with her toes.

On dress rehearsal she was in obvious pain when doing pointe. I could see that she was crying and went up and told her dance teacher to not have her go on pointe for practice because of in-grown toe nails. I hadn't said anything because she gets very stressed at this time. Well, apparently she said something to Larissa before I said anything to her. Larissa came off stage in tears and ready to quit dance.

When we showed up on Sunday for the recital her teacher gave her some little cushioned disks to put on her toe. We had soaked them, froze them, put just about every concoction on the the night before. One toe got better but one toe did not. She said that peppermint would give some numbness to it so we brought it along to apply it between each dance (she had 5 dances). She was really worried about going up on pointe. She was told that she didn't have to if it hurt too much. She asked me about it. I told her that it was her choice but that I felt that she should. It was one dance and knowing her she would regret not going up. I also told her that if she did that she couldn't grimace like she does. She had to smile big for me and I would know that it was hurting. Well, she decided to go on pointe. She smiled big through most of it.

This isn't the most fantastic picture, her form may not be the greatest, but I know what it cost her to do it. It wasn't long ago that she would have made that decision. It shows me how much she has grown. I went back to check on her and she was beaming. She was so proud of herself. She also told me that her teacher was yelling at her from the side lines encouraging her and told her what a great job she did. Well, now we are back to many dance classes and she tried out for the competition team.




I didn't take very many pictures as the lighting makes it hard and I find that I don't get to enjoy the show as much. We purchase a video each year for the memories. Below is a picture of Emma. She has grown so much this year. Her teacher said that she is so different from when she did dance before. She listens and follows instruction and really tries to learn the routines. This year she took tap and jazz, next year she wants to do jazz, tap and ballet. Looks like we will let her sign up for three classes.



Saturday, May 20, 2017

Itty Bitty

Itty Bitty has arrived. I don't have much information yet. I don't have a medicaid card. I don't have any WIC cards. Whenever they get me a medicaid number I will have to make an appointment with WIC. I dislike WIC but the formula is worth the effort. Typically I don't go after the first year because what they give after that is not worth it to me personally.

Itty Bitty is tiny, two months old, under 9 lbs with GERD. Apparently he wasn't fed much so he wouldn't spit up too much. Makes for a skinny itty bitty.

I had forgotten how tiny newborn clothing was and those size zero diapers, my girls put them on their dolls. Hopefully we can fatten him up while DSS looks for a family member.

If I have the gumption tomorrow morning I hope to go to some garage sales. I need a baby bath and some other baby items. That is the danger of quitting foster care and then getting back into it, resupplying.


Well, I am off to bed. Itty bitty is on a 2 hour feeding schedule and I just put him down with a full belly.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Licensed

It is official, I received a text from my licensing worker that we were in the system last night. This morning I received a call asking if we would take placement of a 2 month old. He has been in a temporary home for a week. They had no one is this area who could take a 2 month old!? I was told that within 2 days of getting licensed everyone in this area will have a placement, it is that critical.

Since this baby is in another county they wanted to do the move tomorrow. So I went and bought a car seat, diapers and a few bottles. A foster parent gave me some baby clothing and wipes that had been donated. Tomorrow I will see if the social worker does get back with me. I understand that this is foster care and things change quickly.

Just in case, we are ready...


Three car seats will fit in a row of seats in my car! One is reserved for Vaida. I love my van.

Therapist

Two weeks ago I decided to call a local therapist who has been working in our area for 30 years. I told her that I had two daughters that I was concerned about but that maybe it was me who needed to see someone!

I talked about Larissa and the bullying and that she is having a hard time dealing with it. She knew someone right off the bat that she felt she should see. I scheduled her an appointment and we met with her therapist today. I was surprised, the therapist asked her what she needed help with and Larissa said how to deal with the bullying. Well, she also asked for help in math, I am going to work with that this summer. I think it is a good fit, she has several appointments scheduled and Larissa seemed willing to talk with her. She also enjoyed the lunch we went to afterwards.


The original therapist I called said that I should come in and talk more about Michelle. We sat and talked for 90 minutes about Michelle. As puberty is hitting and Emma is doing well, Michelle is declining. The lies haven't stopped, the need for control is all consuming, jealousy is and always has been terrible. However, now she is having tantrums when she has any type of consequence, hitting others when she doesn't get her way, not willing to accept that she does anything as she always blames others, acting like a chameleon and putting forward a face that she thinks each person wants to see. Generally all of her behaviors have worsened. I had always thought that her behavior issues were related to the moves, the early trauma and neglect. The therapist originally thought we were dealing with RAD but now she doesn't think so. I don't either. She mentioned mood disorder and perhaps she needs to be on some medication for it. I hadn't thought that way but it does make sense. So our objective for right now is to have her evaluated. We are going to take her to our neurobehaviorist, the same one who has evaluated all our other kids and will Emma as well. However, I first need to get to the doctor for a referral and then I know that the wait list is long to see him.

I have been asked why I am taking Larissa to a therapist and not Michelle when it is apparent that Michelle has worse issues. Well, I am following the recommendation of the therapist I saw. Larissa's problems are more easily solved and someone who works with this age group is right in town. Michelle's is more complicated, her lies and changing personality make therapy hard. I will be very curious to see what the testing shows.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Mid-week

We have survived two days of pictures. Tomorrow is the last picture day then Friday Larissa has practice for the final dance. Saturday is dress rehearsal and Sunday is recital day. Then we get to take a much needed break from dance.

Emma has done well in dance this year. She has grown so much.



I haven't had time to cook these last two days but on Monday I did cook Sarah a going away meal and we had a little left over. Tomorrow I will make a casserole so that when John gets home there will be a meal in the oven ready to eat.



I received a text from my social worker today. She said that we are "approved in the Capss and she was doing our sheet for the placement unit". I assume she is talking about whatever program they use because I have never heard of it. Geez, it took so long that we will have to redo SLED's and other annual paperwork in less than 5 months!

Tomorrow, therapist visits and what is going on.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Updates

In my original post for Sarah's mission trip, I didn't put the entire link to contribute. This should be the right link  I dropped Sarah off in Charlotte at the SIM office for a week of training. I pick her up next week and then she has a little time home before she flies to Canada.

Also, after much nagging our foster license has been approved. Now it just has to be but in the system. I called last Monday and my husband left a message on Friday. Nagging helps I guess.

I was right, it would get approved when we were busiest. John has foot surgery coming up, dance, therapists, and many other appointments.

We have pictures all week for dance and dance recital this coming Sunday, crunch time.

Sneak peek.......can you guess what this picture reminds me of?


Monday, May 15, 2017

Benjamin and his Girlfriends


Benjamin with his girlfriend on the bench. I took these pictures a month ago when he first told me about his girlfriend. I didn't realize until today that he had a girlfriend in the backyard too. Where do these kids come up with there ideas?! He definitely has a good imagination.





Our Weekend

We had a nice weekend. 

John and I took advantage of having Sarah home and went on a Saturday afternoon date to watch a movie and shop a bit.

After we got home I wasn't in a cooking mood so I took care of my mom and then we grabbed the kids and headed back to Columbia to shop for Sarah some things she needs for her trip and to eat.

We tried some place called Mod Pizza. The kids really liked picking what they wanted on their pizzas. I thought it was a little expensive. The mini pizzas were almost five dollars and that didn't include a drink. Drinks were almost two dollars so we told the kids to get water. We realized that some were spoiled when they balked at that! I think they may have more water in their future, it doesn't hurt them. I thought that the food was OK, I might go back just because of the opportunity to make your own pizza. However, it won't be a frequent thing.



On the way home there is a sno cone place. We have a weakness. We actually have an ice shaver, I need to get some flavoring and a way to freeze the ice. Until then, we stop at Pelicans.

Is it bad that they know us? They sell what they call the $20 bag. You get 25 dollar tokens for $20, they have it out for us when we get to the window.



Sunday was Mother's Day. The kids made me breakfast and then we headed to church.


After church we headed home for a bit to take care of my mom and rest before we went to an early dinner at Sumo's. Tasha and family brought Joselin. Kassi had to work so she couldn't make it.


I think that Benjamin was hungry.


The kids all enjoyed the show.


We got home and after feeding my mom we jumped into the pool. It is cold and the crazy weather hasn't helped to warm it up. It gets hot here then cold and rainy for a day or two.

Larissa is in her clothing because she got tossed in. We were doing an exercise train.




I hope to lose some weight this summer, the thyroid and I will be fighting over that one.


Lately we have been eating out too much. Besides the cost, fast food isn't good for you. However, I am tired of cooking. I feel like I cook the same stuff over and over. I need to find some healthy meals as well. We love southern cooking with lots of gravy, potatoes and such. If anyone has any simple, healthy meal ideas please share them!

Happy Mother's Day to all my caregiving readers!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Sarah's Mission Trip

Several years ago after graduating high school Sarah had her mind set on attending Columbia International University and going into the mission field. She went on a mission trip with Teen Missions International. That experience and the bullying that was allowed at the time turned her away from what she felt called to do. She chose to attend a local community college instead. After a few semesters she returned to her original calling and started attending CIU. She is now a senior and is required to go on a mission trip to graduate. She has already been accepted into the master program for TEFL and after she finished her education she wants to work with refugees teaching them English.

She is looking for support for her trip. The following is a letter she is sending out to family and friends........Please comment if you will pray for her.


I am writing to tell you about an amazing opportunity I have been given by God to serve in Toronto, Canada. Toronto is one of the most diverse cities in the world.  I will be serving for approximately 6 weeks. God has put in my heart to serve among children. You may not know this, but God has called me to serve him long-term in the future when I am finished with school. I strongly believe that this trip will be a stepping block to my journey.
            I will be going with the mission organization SIM. They are an international, interdenominational mission agency with more than 4,000 workers serving in more than 70 countries.  Members of SIM serve God among many diverse people groups in every continent. SIM workers represent about 70 nationalities. They, http://www.simusa.org serve in a wide array of career fields. I will be serving at a summer sports and science camp in Toronto from June 11 to July 30th. I will be a mentor to the children and help them to mature into successful leaders. I hope to have a lasting impact with these children. During this trip, I will also have an opportunity to minister to Hindus and Sikhs. I am very excited to be serving God through this experience.
            I am writing this letter to ask if you would be willing to support me through prayer while I am in Toronto this summer. I believe that prayer is absolutely essential and it will help me as I am serving.  Along with your prayer support, I need to raise approximately $4,500 to cover in country travel, health insurance, and living expenses. I would really appreciate any amount you can give towards this trip.  You can make donations online at   
https://www.simusa.org/get-involved/give/?id=046811-058&name=Melville&dsg=support


All donations are tax deductible. Thank you supporting me!

Blessings,
Sarah 

Please note, the amount has lowered by $900 as we requested they take the plane ticket off. We will be purchasing that separately. She has raised $1300 so far.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Life

We have been busy.

 A lot of yard work is getting started but not much is getting finished! Our poor yard has been so neglected. However, I finally bought the flamingos for the front yard.


Benjamin tries very hard to be a big help. Anyone with a 3 year old helping with yard work knows how much that speeds up the process.


The kids tried out a karate place and we have found where they will go, they will start after dance season is over and after I have finished paying for Sarah's mission trip. There is an initial $500 fee and then one family cost every month. The initial cost includes all the uniforms and supplies. The family cost is $118/month total for the entire family.


Chilling with the family at local restaurants.


Some days if you walk in my front door you will find a blanket tent tucked in the corner.


With kids underneath


Some days we simply chill on the couch and watch TV



We love having Vaida over to add some excitement to our lives




I hope to post over the weekend. Posts to come are Sarah's mission trip and my visit to the therapist. Someone send me some motivation! 


Monday, May 8, 2017

Emma and School

All year I have been concerned about Emma and school. She was held back a year for maturity and some concern with academics. We assumed that the academics was a reflection of her immaturity. By Christmas I was questioning if she might have other issues with her academics. The school kept telling me that they thought it was her lack of motivation.  She loves her computer time so I tied her computer time with her weekly performance. I saw some small gains with this, she was very motivated. However, except for spelling the gains were not enough to keep her at grade level.


Recently I received her standardized testing in the mail and it showed that for the most part she was below grade level. I talked to the school again and they still think that it is that she isn't trying. I am not so sure. I had to put in a written request to have her tested. What if she does have some type of learning delay that we haven't addressed because of her immaturity and everyone's opinion that she isn't trying. The school contacted me and said that they would test her next year. We are supposed to meet after school starts. I know how that will go, it will take a semester to test and by then she could be further behind. Also, seems to me that the teacher that she has this year would know her best. I do have a call in to her to talk to her about ADHD signs. I would like to know what she sees although she hasn't raised any concerns about that every time I have talked to her.

We don't care to wait that long so we are taking her in this week to get a referral to have her evaluated by the neurobehaviorist who has evaluated all my other kids.  The waiting list to see him is very long but we have always gotten in quicker by our willingness to go in if they have a cancellation (he is an hour away). I told her school that we were going to get him to evaluate her and they have already said that they would take his testing when we meet in August. He has a very good reputation among the schools here.

I know why she hasn't come under their radar, she isn't far enough behind. However, in my mind when you take into consideration that she has been held back it is concerning. Sadly, until a student is 2 years behind the school isn't really concerned. Me, as a parent, I am concerned. Perhaps she is not motivated, perhaps it is something else. Time for answers.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Lamictal

We decided to try the Lamictal. We still haven't gotten to the full dosage so the jury is still out.

The other day Larissa came to me complaining about a rash. I started to panic until she mentioned that it was her armpit. After a shower she was complaining about a rash in the other armpit. I realized that we had tried a new deodorant and obviously she can't tolerate it. We haven't found any deodorants that don't cause her to have a rash.

I do know that at this point she is still having seizures nightly. Actually they seem worse to me. Every time I go up to check on her just opening the door puts her into a seizure. I wish she had some type of monitor, I wonder how many seizures she is having every night. We have an appointment next week to get a referral to a neurologist in Charleston. I am not looking forward to that drive but I have heard good reports from them.

Yesterday the school called around 11 and wanted us to pick her up because she seemed off. Today she came home and went right to bed. I went up to wake her for dance and found her seizing. She is complaining of episodes during the day now.

I don't think that people realize how exhausting it is to have seizures all night and then go to school. She has missed 23 days of school this year and that isn't counting the days that they have me come pick her up early. Let me tell you, a tired Larissa is an emotional Larissa. Crying, mad, easy to set off. Combine that with what all is going on at school and just the fact that she is 11 and she is a mess.

I am tired of trying all these medications. I sure wish we could find what works for her without terrible side effects. Some days I worry for her future. How is she going to be able to work?

Epilepsy sucks

Friday, April 28, 2017

Licensing update

Well, we do have some movement in our licensing.  After sitting on a desk for review for a while it moved up the line to the next person. That would normally be the end of the line but they recently restructured so this person is no longer able to approve relicensing. So our paperwork was moved on to the top person in charge of licensing. Thankfully this is the last step, she will approve or disapprove our fostering license. We wait.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Bullying

I have been quiet because we have been struggling. We are so frustrated with the daily junk that Larissa is dealing with. It is not unusual for someone to say something negative to her, "bump" into her and now the boys have noticed her so the sexual harassment has started.

She came home one day complaining that a boy told her he wanted to have sex with her in the bathroom, when she refused he called her a whore. She didn't even know what it meant. We have been having to do a lot of education lately so that she can understand what is being said to her. She is in the 5th grade.


I don't normally call parents because I find that it just doesn't help. Too many just claim that their child wouldn't do that. With this boy I was told about a video as well so I did reach out to her. Well, I was told that her child wouldn't do that.

She complained to her teacher and I talked to the school therapist as well.

The therapist called them in separately and together. She asked Larissa if anyone else heard him. He said he didn't do it. The therapist said she would talk to some other kids. Larissa came home that day in tears. She said that she didn't know why she bothered to say anything, that he sat there and lied and she felt so stupid. They said that she shouldn't have gone near him on the playground where she says it happened.

Well, thankfully some other kids did hear it. But what if no one had? I understand that you can't take one child's word over another but you should take steps to protect a child who is complaining of sexual harassment.

I have called the school several times and emailed about the bullying and all they tell me is that they don't see it. Well, the kid who called her hair poop admitted it to them. One kid who was stealing from her and giving her a hard time has stopped because I ran into him and his mom at Walmart, I knew her! We talked and she said to let her know if there are any more problems. So some of the kids have stopped but not all.

Yesterday Larissa came home so mad. Her hair was crazy and she was on a rant.  She said that he came up to her and was yelling at her. She yelled back that if he keeps treating women the way he does he will never have a girlfriend. Their teacher got mad and told them to just get along and brought them in from recess.

I feel like I am watching a child go through steps of grief or something. I have talked to the middle school teacher whose classroom she will be in next year. Anthony is in it now. She said that at the beginning of the year they have a lot of behavioral problems but as the school year progresses they either go to different schools, get expelled or even to jail. By December most of the problem kids have been weeded out. Oh my! Not a good environment for her. The boy she is having problems with now will be in her class.

We have looked at other school options and there aren't many because of her learning disabilities. In Columbia they have a great school that would be ideal for her, it costs $25,000/year! We can't afford that! I am talking to smaller Christian schools but private schools aren't really prepared for kids with IEP's. It is looking like her options are her middle school or homeschooling.

I feel that I know why she is having so many problems and many of them I can't do anything about. She was homeschooled and she doesn't have a "pack" of friends to hang with and offer protection, she is very quiet, she doesn't know how to respond, she sticks out being so tall and skinny and finally her skin tone. Today we took all the kids to check out a local karate place that has an emphasis on defusing and preventing bullying. I like their program so all the kids will start after dance recital is over. We are working on boosting her self confidence. Many of the other things we can't do anything about. It is frustrating and hard to watch.

If anyone has suggestions on ways to deal with bullying and sexual harassment let me know!


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Easter

Do all little boys sleep with their swords?


I really tried to be conservative with Easter baskets this year. The older kids got a little candy and some nice swimming goggles (they cost more than I would normally buy). Benjamin got some cheaper goggles and a Paw Patrol animal, he is really into Paw Patrol. Normally I hide the baskets but I got lazy this year and put them in their rooms. I had to stop hiding them because Emma would get up extra early and sneak and find the baskets and eat from them. I think that next year I will go back to hiding them because I really enjoy that tradition.


We had a really low key day. We went to church and then came home and let the kids swim. Tasha and Ethan had to be at the in-laws house for lunch so we planned a dinner.



After eating we called the burn number and put in our information to burn yard waster. The kids made some smores (yes, our backyard neighbor who has called to complain about us burning was watching over the fence)










I sat with my mom while she ate her Easter meal. I also got her some candy, she loves her sweets. Life has been very hard on her lately. She has done a little better since starting her new medications but she will still cry on occasion.  If you ask her why she is crying she says she doesn't know but says over and over she is sorry. It is heartbreaking.

When I sit in her room the activity of the house shifts to her room. She enjoys it for a bit but can only take the noise for a little while. It doesn't stop her crying and the kids get upset with it, they don't understand and want me to help her. I struggle with the crying. It tears me up.


She loves Benjamin and he loves her. He came in to give her some loving.



That was our Easter. I didn't go out and buy matching dresses, I didn't spend a huge amount of money on candy, we didn't color any eggs, we didn't even take a family picture. We just came together and spent time together.