Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas 2010

Christmas Eve, we went to a local farm that has a free walk through light display.  It details the life of Christ, and is very pretty.  They had a lot of lights that were out, but it was freezing, and I can say I wouldn't want to be outside freezing my can off to fix them.  We decided this would be the better alternative to trying to sit in church and keep the kids quiet through candle-light services like we did last year.  I've never been into the church scene either, so it was nice not to have that stress on my shoulders.  We ate dinner with mom, dad, and Z-man, then went to this display.  Uncle M carried the Vampire most of the walk, he's such a softie when it comes to her.  The Drama Queen forgot her gloves, and we didn't realize until we were outside.  I didn't remind her 3 or 4 times to get her gloves before we walked the door either...  no, I wouldn't do a thing like that, and if I did, she would listen right?!?!   HA!

Uncle M and I fought hard to get the girls in bed when we got home.  As usual the Drama Queen is asleep as soon as hear head hits the pillow, but the Vampire can't seem to console herself to sleep for anything.  We end up having to gate her into her baby bed on her last night of sleeping in it, so we can get our gifts out and under the tree before Santa arrives to work his magic.  Of course we have to set up the milk and cookies as well, so Santa is well compensated for his hard work!  Christmas morning, the girls were pleasantly surprised by a set of bunk beds left beside the Christmas tree in the kitchen/dining room area.  Santa decked the bed out with sheets, and big fluffy comforters.  They were thrilled.  They tore through their gifts that took us so much time to buy and wrap in a matter of 15 minutes then were happy to go about playing.  Crazy kids.

Uncle M spoiled me and bought me a laptop.  He knows my love of writing, and with this wonderful device, I can write... anywhere.  I LOVE it, and can't begin to thank him enough!!!  I started writing a story I've been working in my head a few days ago, and the automatic windows update restarted my computer and wiped it out.  I'm going to try and figure out if Office 2010 has an autosave feature, and Uncle M turned off the auto-restart on the Microsoft updates.  I got Uncle M's radio installed in his car, for Christmas.  He was w/o a radio in his vehicle since July when his battery died, and he fried it trying to jump the vehicle.  I also bought him some Lions cups, but am a genius and forgot them at work when I left Christmas Eve, and had nothing for him to unwrap Christmas morning.  Felt awful about that. 

The day after Christmas, I was hit with a nasty stomach virus.  I stayed in bed most of the day wishing the pain would go away.  Uncle M watched his Lions bring home another victory for their season, then took the girls sledding...  on one of their old mattresses from the Drama Queen's old bed.  I had asked him to throw it away when he was packing the Drama Queen's bed to take to my brother and his family, and he discovered it made a great sled, right in my front yard!  It wasn't redneck at all having a man in a sweatsuit use a mattress as a sled on my driveway...  not at all.  The girls had to stay the night with mom and dad that night cause M and I had to work the next day, so after all that excitement, he had to take them to Mamaw's and Papaw's house.  All in all, I would say they had an excellent Christmas.  I just wish I got some photos of Uncle M and company sledding on a mattress before the trash men hauled it away.

Now we have a NYE party to prepare and plan for.  I don't know how many will be coming.  I think I will give up on the whole asking people to R.S.V.P. thing.  No one does it anymore!  I'll just have to throw my doors (and fridge) open to whoever shows and smile and be grateful for being surrounded by so many loved ones.  Uncle M is off the last two days of this week, and will be home getting the Christmas stuff down, and cleaning from Christmas to be ready for the soiree this weekend.  I'm so grateful for that.  I don't know what I would do without him sometimes.

I am going to start on a project after NYE using my new dress dummy.  I've never been able to find a swim suit that I like in stores, and when I find one, well I might as well sell my ovaries on the black market to be able to afford it.  I bought material yesterday (online) and will be making a swim suit all of my own design!  I searched long and hard (on my darling laptop) and found a pattern for a halter top style top, and some boy shorts bottoms, and will be throwing that all together with some brown and pink lycra/spandex.  Wish me luck, I've never loved to work with this super stretchy material, but I will post photos, and try to keep you all updated on how it is going.

I did get all the rice bags I made for loved ones as Christmas presents done.  They turned out super cute, and I decided to toss them up on to see if I can't sell some.  I haven't had any offers yet, but imagine most people who use Etsy have the basic skill it takes to make one of these.  The outside cover is removable for easy washing, and the name of the owner is hand embroidered in the material.  I had fun making these, and am so glad to have Uncle M around who helped me keep children fed, bathed, and well taken care of while I was eyeballs deep in cotton and threads.

The Vampire has been doing less biting.  Uncle M remarked to me yesterday that he doesn't think she has bitten the entire Christmas break.  I am going to cross my fingers and hope that this is the end of that horrible chapter, and we will be moving onto bigger and better things.  She has not been listening at all, though.  She has seemed wild, almost feral at times.  Hopefully this is just a phase of testing and manipulation, and we will quickly pull though it as well.  The Drama Queen has been very dramatic.  Hitting herself, saying she hates us, or living with us, etc. when she gets angry.  I know it is that lovely T&M at work (testing and manipulation) and I just send her to her room to calm down for 5 minutes, then let her re-join the rest of the family.  She will get the drift sooner or later, and although she doesn't want to admit it, I know she knows how very much M and I love her and would do anything for her.  Just yesterday when I came home she tossed her arms around me and yelled "TT mommy, you're home!"  The Vampire is still calling me mommy on a daily basis, and I'm settling more and more into being called that.

We didn't have any calls from bio mom or dad over the Christmas Holiday.  This weekend is a scheduled visitation weekend, but I haven't heard anything from bio dad about his desire to see them as of yet.  I keep thinking he will call for them, and want to give them Christmas gifts to make up for his absence...  but who knows what will happen.  I'll leave the time open, and if I don't hear from him by noon, then make other plans.  I can't let our lives revolve around someone who doesn't make the effort to be there, but when he does make the effort, I won't refuse him either.  My sister texted my mom and told mom to tell the girls she loves them and wanted to wish them Merry Christmas.  I don't know why she doesn't contact me about any of it, but it is her choice.  If she has lost my number, she can ask mom for it, and she has to know I have her girls, that if she wants to talk to them she just has to call.  I can't refuse her unless she is saying horrible things to them and scaring them, which I don't think she would do.  She told mom she didn't have money to buy stamps, and I can't help but wonder how a person with no children to pay for and care for, who isn't paying child support, can't afford to buy stamps to write their kids.  Either she's not working, she has other kids, or she's blowing the money she gets on things she shouldn't hold above her kids.  But there is nothing I can do to help her.  All I can do is keep being the steady and sane rock in the lives of those two little girls, and hope/pray that one day, things will be different.  Until then, ques sera sera! 

Happy New Year to you all!!!   *HUGS*

Aunt TT

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mommy and Daddy

So the Vampire has been saying Mommy to me, and Daddy to Uncle M.  A lot.  When I talk to her about myself (IE: it makes Aunt TT happy when you listen so well!) I usually refer to myself as Aunt TT.  It's part habit, and part...  I feel like I'm stealing my sister's kids.  I guess I still struggle emotionally with this, even though I try to put on a brave face and pretend like I don't.  The Drama Queen doesn't call me mommy or Uncle M daddy anywhere near as often, but I understand that totally.  She is older, and has more memories of her biological parents.  The Drama Queen will actually tell the Vampire "she's not your mommy" when the Vampire calls me mommy.  I have to explain the the Drama Queen every time, "Yes, I am not her biological mommy, but I do the job of a mommy, and if your sister wants to call me mommy, I don't mind at all."  Sometimes I add "I would be honored one day if you thought of me that way." 

I feel like I have to define some roles soon, so it's less confusing for all involved.  Uncle M's parents would love to be called Grandma and Grandpa.  I have just held out on calling them that to the girls cause:
A. Uncle M and I aren't married.
B.  I don't want to add to confusion in their lives
C.  They have other Grandma's and Grandpa's with other daddy figures that have been introduced into their lives, and I feel like having 5 sets of Grandparents is super confusing for anyone.
D.  It seems soooooooo permanent, and I still harbor the fear that these darlings will be ripped from me.
But lately, I feel like I should just implement the routine of referring to Uncle M as daddy, myself as mommy, and Uncle M's family as Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts, Cousins... etc.  I'm just trying to balance out all the evils and goods of the situation and decide what's best.

I watched a movie on Lifetime over the weekend while working on my embroidery (Christmas presents) called The People Next Door.  It was about a single woman, who was running from her abusive husband (who never makes a cameo), and moves her three beautiful little girls into a run down rental house.  There are neighbors, and they seem like real nice people, and they help her with her kids.  But they're not nice people, and they're just waiting for the perfect opportunity to take her kids.  The oldest and youngest daughter go with them for their "car ride", but the middle daughter doesn't feel right leaving her mom and stays behind.  Thus two of this woman's three kids are kidnapped.  The whole movie is about this woman's fight to get her children back.  At first the cops think she did something to her kids (she's not the model parent).  However when watching the movie, I was focused on what the people who took the children from their mom were telling the children.  They told the eldest horrible lies about how their mother was in jail, for having killed the sister that didn't come along.  They made the eldest dye her hair, change her name, and moved her across the country to start a new life.  This child was maybe eight years old.  They also said things like "You're here with me because I love you, and I will take care of you."  and "your mom can't take care of you right now, so we will take care of you."  They forced the children to call them mommy and daddy. 

I tell you about this, because I have said things to these two little girls, that those horrible monsters said to those kids in that movie.  I imagine that in child abduction cases children are made to feel loved, and dependent upon their abductor, and they say similar things to those children that I say to these angels I am guardian over.  I have to remind myself over and over, that I came by these kids honestly, and in no way am I anything like those awful people who took children away from their loving parents.  Why do I have to remind myself of this you ask?  Because it's not like my sister willingly gave me her kids.  She didn't tell me with tears in her eyes, that she can't do it anymore, and she wants me to raise them because she knows I can.  She dropped three boxes of clothes at the door and screamed at me "since you're so effing perfect, you raise them" then stormed out the door.  It was the last time I have seen her.  In some corner of her mind, I'm sure she knew she was giving her kids up, but the dominant part of her mind kept saying "this is just temporary, and when we get things squared away we will go back and get them."  Can you imagine her rage, on July the 5th, 2009 when mom, dad and I on speakerphone told her that we have emergency temporary custody of her kids?  She screamed, yelled, cussed, and accused us of having stolen her children from her.  In a way, I guess we did.  My calling Children's Services on her was underhanded, as I didn't tell her up front I was going to do that, but I was so afraid of what she would do in her rage.  When she was out of the state, and the kids were safe, then I felt like I could act.  I am such a coward.  I didn't lie to anyone, I didn't cheat, and I didn't steal.  I acted in the best interest of three kids, in a timely manner, and with good intentions, yet I still feel like I stole my sister's kids from her.  Who am I to judge how she handled and raised them?  She put them in a lot of unsafe positions, and was neglecting their medical, and mental well being.  It hurt to see that for years, and when I had the power in my grasp to change all of that, I didn't hesitate.  I called Children's Services on my own sister. 

I can't continue to regret the past, I have to move on with this future, to proudly be mommy... to let Uncle M be daddy...  I have to reconcile with everything that happened that fateful day in June of '09.  I have to convince myself that I didn't steal my sister's kids.  She abandoned them, and I did the right thing by stepping up and acting on their behalf.  I have to quit caring if my sister will forgive me for my actions when it regards her children, because in her haze of addictions, she just wasn't doing the best by them.  I have to quit worrying about the angry blow-up that I imagine will happen when the Vampire calls me "mommy" in front of my sister some day, and clings to me while refusing to attach to her.  I have to quit worrying about the same angry blow-up happening when Uncle M dances with both girls for the father/daughter dance at their recital in June, as I imagine the Redneck won't appreciate that at all.  If he is even in touch with us at that point in time and attends.  I have to remind myself that being called mommy or daddy is so much more than just words, it is actions, and these two little girls are recognizing just who acts like mommy and daddy, and who doesn't.  I do remind myself that I am NOT nor will I EVER force them to call me mommy or Uncle M daddy.  It is ENTIRELY their choice.  I have not, nor will I ever trash talk their biological parents to them, but when the time comes, I will be honest about everything that has happened, and will happen.  To move ahead, I must bury the past.  Only then will I be able to embrace and enjoy my future.

Aunt TT

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

"I think I am falling for her"

"I think I am falling for her."  The sitter says this to me while stroking the cheeks of the Vampire this morning.  I am in shock.  I have heard NOTHING but awful things from other child care personnel.  This woman has the ability to see past the bad things she does, and still love her.  Like me.  Like a mother would their child.  Last night the Vampire ran into the kitchen where I was sewing like a madman, and says "Drama Queen is out of bed!!!"  I say "I hear her, but you're out of bed too.  Get back in bed now."  The Vampire toddles back to her room yelling at the Drama Queen "I told on you! Na Na Na Na Na!"  Uncle M comes through with a basket of laundry, and I say "she is a mean little thing!"  He asks why I say that, I explain it to him.  Then he says, "well Drama Queen tells on her all the time..."  I say, "yeah, but she doesn't rub it into the Vampire's face that she just told!!!"  He shrugs his shoulders and walks away.  I recognize the bad things she does... and still love her.

This morning, when removing her thoroughly soaked pull up, the Vampire wasn't paying attention to it and ripped the entire front open, instead of pulling it down...  I will never understand that.  Silica soaked with urine spilled out all over my bathroom floor, and the Vampire looks at me and starts crying.  What a mess.  We have her clean up after herself when she pees or poops in her pants.  The thought behind this is that after she has to clean up her own messes enough.. maybe she will stop making them.  I can't help but grin like an idiot while I type that.  Kids are way harder to train at doing that stuff than I ever imagined!  So here she stands, sobbing, in a pile of pull-ups stuffing reeking of urine.  I help her finish taking it off, toss it in the plastic bag and sit her on the toilet.  I set the timer for 5 minuets and tell her to get dressed, and redirect her emotions, then have her clean up the mess after she is calm again with the vacuum.  Rest of the morning is pretty smooth, aside from the Vampire spitting at the Drama Queen cause she doesn't want her to sing Christmas Carols with me in the car.  Looking back, mornings have been smoother, and days have been easier since the Vampire has settled into this new routine with the sitter.  I can't help but wonder what magic is at work here, but can't begin to tell you how grateful I am of it.

I am still in a bit of shock.  Still have a hard time believing that someone outside the family, my work family, can see the good in this child.  Is willing to see the good in this child.  I'm so afraid of putting my faith in what she said, for fear of her telling me she can't watch her anymore.  I can't tell you how relieved I am however to not have the daily "can you come get your kid" phone calls.  I have worn make-up for two days in a row now.  I haven't cried in awhile, or had to tell my boss "yeah.. I have to run get the child again."  I can see the relief and normalcy begin to creep back into our lives... and I think that I would do anything for this woman who is seeing my child for the monster she is not.  I see myself telling the stories of the FUNNY things that the girls do to my co-workers, instead of sobbing about the awful things she is doing.  I find myself wanting to snuggle the Vampire more often, and wanting to reward her and let her be on a longer leash at the house, or around other people's kids.  The Vampire seems happier.  She seems to enjoy being with the sitter, and I am just so amazed that one person can make this much of a difference in this child's life.  In my life, the Drama Queen's life, and Uncle M's life.  I pray that this is a lasting change, and we will only go up from here.  If things keep going this well, I can't see putting her into another daycare again, and may just keep her with the sitter, and try to get her into Head Start.  I want her to be prepared for kindergarten, but fear she won't be if she stays at the sitter's house full day. 

The redneck did another no call/ no show.  I was convinced that he would have contacted me to see the girls last weekend because of Christmas, but he didn't.  I let Uncle M know that I am a little apprehensive of this, cause I can't wrap my mind around how a guy pushes for custody/alone time with two little girls, then just disappears.  Maybe he's just a jerk, and wants to exert what little control he has over us.  Maybe he wanted to see them/spend time with them, but let drugs and a bad lifestyle overpower that want.  Uncle M thinks he got bored with it, and figures he will come back when he isn't bored anymore.  In the meantime, we have to keep those weekends semi-open for him.  We have to be ready for that phone call if he does want to see or talk to the girls.  I haven't been receiving any paperwork stating that he is paying child support, so the work he is doing has to be all under the table, and he is falling behind again, but that is all on him.  If he and my sister were to go a year w/o contact and paying child support we could adopt the girls, and really make them our own, legally.  I just fear holding out that hope, cause I doubt either of them would let us have them permanently like that.  I would feel so much better if they were permanently ours. 

Christmas is approaching fast!  Uncle M and I finished most of our Christmas shopping last Friday.  His parents suprised me and bought me a dress dummy.  I felt really bad about how much money they probably spent on me and would rather see that money go to a better cause, but am so excited about having my very own dress dummy.  A friend at work suggested that I try to make my own bathing suit since I can't find one I like in the stores, and I'm thinking seriously of taking her up on that thought.  A dress dummy will make it so much easier, and less painful than sticking myself with straight pins!   Vintage black and white polka dots with dashes of hot pink... here I come!  I should really finish the remainder of Christmas presents first, though.  No use getting ahead of myself!

Aunt TT

Friday, December 17, 2010

Nightmares and Sunshine

So this week with the new child care has gone OK.   The woman who watches the Vampire called it the "Clash of the Titans" when her 3 year old and my 3 year old began having their battles.  Both are strong willed, around the same size, blonde, adorable.  Her 3 yr old is better at speaking, but I think she is older than my Vampire.  Anyway, the Vampire was wearing the sitter's house shoes.  Little M (the other 3 year old) says "those are my mom's.  Take them off."  The Vampire grunts and continues walking in the shoes.  Little M says, "take them off!"  The Vampire keeps walking away.  So Little M decides to help the Vampire take the shoes off.  The Vampire bites Little M's finger.  Little M scratches the heck out of the Vampire's face (this happened Monday, and she's still got the mark).  There have been various other little scuffles between the Titans, but I am glad the Vampire seems to have met her match, and hope that she learns that aggression is not the way to get things done.

The Vampire has shown the sitter her true colors.  She's hit, pinched, pushed, the other kids, and even peed on furniture, and the sitter hasn't said "I'm done" yet.  She keeps assuring me that she's fine, and normal, and everything will be OK.  She even agreed to speak to the Vampire's therapist, which will help the therapist understand everything even better. 

Uncle M says she only has one kid ahead of her on the waiting list for the daycare we wanted her in, so who knows how long that will be, but we might move her to that daycare when they are open, cause all she does is sit and watch t.v. and play at the sitter's house.  There is no education going on at all.  I feel like she is all ready so far behind, and I hate for her to fall further behind because she's not getting any more education than what we do at home.  She is very resistant to learning.  Still doesn't know her colors that well.  I beat myself up over this.

The Drama Queen is still way closer to the little boys than I like, but I haven't fussed too much about it.  I make comments here and there about how I better never hear of her kissing on little boys, and how if she gets in trouble at school, she might as well look forward to losing rights of things she loves to do at home.  I also mention once in awhile how her teacher, Mrs B. and I talk frequently, and I know when she gets in trouble.  I haven't rec'd any more calls about her kissing on boys since last week, so I am hoping she has quit that nonsense.  I wish I could look at as cute and just some childhood thing, but after what the therapist told us, I have a hard time turning a blind eye to these behaviors.

So that is our week, in a hasty recap.  I will try to write more later.  Uncle M and I have to finish Christmas shopping, the girls are getting a bunk bed... and we have yet to find mattresses for the darn thing.  Oh and sheets... blankets...  etc.  Kids are so expensive... but by God, I love them.

Aunt TT

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Oregon Trail

Uncle M has recently been hooked on the newer version of the old game Oregon Trail.  Have you ever played it?  I loved it when I was younger.  You have 5 characters that you can name as people you know or fictitious characters.  You have to safely transport these folks (in an 1800's setting) from the eastern side of the country to the western side of the country.  You travel in a covered wagon, have to hunt for food if you run out of the stuff you bought, and ford rivers if they are too deep.  Some of your companions will die along the way to snake bites, cholera, freezing to death.  Poor Uncle M never seems to make it alive to Oregon.  I tease him saying that it is cause he is too risky, and drives the oxen too hard, but he is getting more enjoyment out of the risks he takes on his trip across country than my playing it safe.  The trials and tribulations of this game closely mirror the very same ones I am living in life.  I try to safely escort these kiddos from childhood to adulthood, while trying to avoid their death, illness, mental corruption.  This is my journey in life.  

The Journey.  I talked with a good friend last night about the sojourns that are our lives, and in talking with her, I was reminded of the quote "Life is about the journey, not the destination."  I have had a great many ups and downs over the past few years.  I have grown closer to some friends, while drifting apart from others.  Our life changes tend to cause this it seems.  In June 2009, my life took a drastic change.  One that has all of my time consumed by two little girls.  I try not to drown in all of their issues, and their needs.  I want to be able to stand on my own, and still enjoy life when they are grown and on their own, but I also need to be loving and attentive to them because although I want to retain my identity - they are my primary concern.  I miss my old friends.  I try to keep in touch with them, but we are all grown up and doing all of our grown up things, and it is hard to find time.  I make new friends and some of them come and go in my life like a revolving door, while others move away, and I still manage to stay in touch - although I know it takes a lot of work on their part as I withdraw into the role of mother - and for that I thank you!

The complication in my life right now is a beautiful blond haired blue eyed girl.  I have found child care.  The woman I mentioned from Friday's blog is now watching her.  It is cheaper than the last day care, the woman who runs it sees the Vampire as a normal child, and says she will be no problem, I can also leave the Drama Queen there on snow days, and the Vampire seems to like it.  The drawbacks...  there isn't a lot of structure, she doesn't work on a lot of education type things, and our therapist doesn't seem thrilled with the idea.  I have no other options right now, as the waiting lists I put her on months ago for other child care centers are still in existence, and there are still other children who signed up before her.  I may continue the Head Start angle, so she has structure at least 1/2 of the day.  Head Start can not help me until late January at the earliest, though. 

The woman who works out of her home told Uncle M and I that we need to relax.  That the Vampire is a perfectly normal three year old.  I want to believe her so badly.  I want to believe that she is normal, and that something in our being too wound up over her behavior is what is causing her to continue her bad behavior.  I have always prided myself on my appearance, but I can tell you that I have habitually NOT worn make-up since October because since then I have not been able to keep myself from crying at least 3-4 times a week.  I was always getting phone calls about how bad she was, and the pressure was always on to find a new child care provider.  I have hope that it won't be like that here, with this new child care.  I actually want to go put some make-up on.  On the other hand...  the Vampire had an absolutely HORRIBLE session with the therapist last night.  She wouldn't listen to anything the therapist would say to her, and actually peed not once but twice on purpose because she was angry.  The first pee was on a chair, the second on the floor.  I hope this is the end of her horrible behavior, and after all of this testing and manipulation, that she will realize that she can't do these things anymore.  I'm so embarrassed that my kid peed herself to try and get her way.  The therapist wants to talk to the child care provider, and needs my approval for that to happen.  I have to find out if the child care provider will talk to the therapist.  The therapist wants me to not give up hope on one of the centers she is on a waiting list for, but I am so afraid I will get the Vampire in there, she will act up, and be tossed out like all the other regular child care centers.

I purchased a book for the girls, and have read it to them once.  As I read they both smiled at me so broadly.  It is called I Love You So, and in the book the child is questioning the parent just where does love come from, do you love me when I am bad, and do you love me if I am far away, while the parent reassures the child that their love for them never changes, it is as tall as the mountains, deep as the oceans, and as constant as the sun.  I want to make this book, be one that is read to them once or twice a week, as I hope to communicate my love for them through this book.  They both seemed so happy after I read it, that if something that small gives them happiness....  then I can make it tradition.  I recommend this book to all of you for your children, because regardless of the circumstances you or they are in, they all wonder how far your love will go.  More testing and manipulation. 

As I watched the Drama Queen this morning cut her pancake into perfect squares, and remind me not to miss putting syrup on the square in the middle, I saw the perfectionist in me shining through her.  I said "are you sure I didn't give birth to you?"  She laughed and said "No TT.  You're silly."  I said "It's just that you're so much like me."  She smiled and said "I know, it's cause I was named after you!"  I just smiled at her.  I can relate to this kid.  I know why she does what she does, and am rarely surprised by her actions.  The Vampire's actions however, I can not fathom.  I try to get down on her level.  I try to understand what is going on in that little head.  But I just can't relate right now.  I can spend time lavishing affection on the Drama Queen, but the Vampire is so bad that it is hard to find times I can lavish affection on her.  I try, I really do, but it is so hard trying to make sure I am not rewarding her very bad behavior.  When she is good, I praise her up one side and down the other and hold her close to my heart.  I have been making a conscious effort to say "Hey, that was awesome!" or "I loved that you put your shoes on without my asking you!"  or "thank you for getting in the car like I asked you!".  I hope that I have the patience to continue trying to influence the good, and that she will catch onto it and begin acting better.  One day, this will all just be a bad memory - one that we will laugh about when she brings home her first boyfriend and we tell him "careful... she bites!"

I know my journey is no where near at an end.  I am going to try to remind myself on a constant basis that I need to relax more, smile more, and instead of feeling like the world is coming to an end, that this is just a horrible bump in the road, and I will recover from it and keep traveling on.  My friends will continue to come and go.  Some will have left their footprints on my heart, and others will have just taken or given what was needed at that point in time.  These two little girls will always hold the better half of my heart, and knowing they are there, will always give me strength to continue on in this sojourn that is my life.  I will try to understand that life will never be perfect like I want, and that instead of wishing for the unattainable, I need to focus on the wonderful things right before my eyes, embrace them, and let myself soar with the happiness they bring.  I don't have to be perfect, and you know what I realized recently, people probably accept and like me more when I'm not.  Who wants to hang out with someone who never makes mistakes, always looks like a million dollars (not that I ever have), always has a spotless house, children who never misbehave, and the elusive doting husband who never seems to think their wife does anything wrong.  Aside from all of that...  exactly what would I be learning from this trip through life if everything were easy and handed to me.  What would add richness and depth to my soul?  So I will savor the bumps in life as much as possible, and smile through the dark times, it helps me to be the person I am today, because to some in life I am a beautiful soul that has made footprints on their hearts.

Aunt TT

Monday, December 13, 2010

Big Girls Don't Cry 12/10

I'm standing in the doorway of the daycare.  Defeated.  Yet another attempt at having a safe loving environment for the Vampire so I can work has been thwarted.  I am trying to help the Vampire get her coat on. She has trouble with starting the zipper, so I am trying to start it for her.  I am also trying to hold back the flow of tears that is hiding behind the massive headache I woke up with around 3:00 this morning.  The director of the daycare is standing there.  She is a very kind woman.  She has tried really hard to keep the Vampire there, but the odds have been stacked against the little girl all along.  The director is trying hard not to cry.  I am shaking.  I am afraid.  Afraid for Katie, afraid for my sanity, afraid that this is what our lives will be like, forever.  I am trying not to let the fear get the best of me.  I am trying to hold my head high, and keep dragging this kid through life, cause she has been kicking, screaming, and fighting against me the whole way.  The director asks me if I feel like I'm at the end of my rope.  I tell her I do feel that way, cause I have been turned away by so many child care facilities, and she is on waiting lists at others.  She apologizes for the 100th time.  I tell her I understand that she has other children she is obligated to, and I don't hold it against her.  I thank her for her help, and give her a hug, then the dam breaks.  The tears start rolling down my cheeks, and I follow the eager Vampire out the door, as the director stands there crying and saying good bye to the Vampire and I.

The Vampire looks at me and says "why u crying?"  I say "Cause I don't know how to help you."  She says "Big girls don't cry TT."  I cry harder.  I don't know how to help her.  We are doing everything we know to do.  1-2-3 Magic, being consistent with rewards/punishments, biting necklace, therapy (speech and psych), regular bedtime with a story before bedtime, love and support, stern but not mean discipline.  Her biting is less.  She has picked up hitting more.  People (the teachers, other parents of school mates) don't want to deal with her.  I can't make people love her and want to deal with her like we do.  It is just a very bad situation.  I know crying doesn't help anything.  But I can't stop the tears from flowing down my face.  I have lost yet another battle in this great war to raise a child.  I've never taken defeat well.

I am tired.  I can't give up on this kid.  I can't be like everyone else.  But I am so tired.  I can't understand why this angel would continue to want to hurt people.  I can't help but wonder if it is something I am doing wrong.  Not enough love on my part?  Too much correction (she is in trouble all the time it seems)?  Is this all part of God's plan to help me be more patient, loving, kind?  Is this some great test of my strength and integrity?  Could this be a payback for all the horrible things I ever did in life?  I can't help but look at that little girl with two pigtails sticking up off either side of her head and think that she is the bull, and I am the rodeo clown, and she is getting the best of me.  A three year old little girl is getting the best of a 31 year old woman.  How senseless is that...

The Drama Queen has been kissing boys at school.  The teacher called me to tell me that she is concerned cause the boys she is kissing on are the "bad boys", and she hates to see the Drama Queen being so centered on having a boyfriend.  This strengthens my fears with what the therapist said to us last week.  This little girl who I would give my life for...  is all ready starting to feel that she has no self worth.  I thanked Mrs. B. for making a point to let me know what is going on, because the Drama Queen doesn't talk to me about it openly, and asked her to keep me informed if the behavior doesn't stop.  I told Uncle M about it, cause I didn't know how to go about approaching this situation.  He handled it himself, by telling her that Santa was mad at her 13 year old cousin, cause she had been kissing on her boyfriend.  He went on to tell her that the cousin was going to have to do focus on school, stop kissing her boyfriend, and do a lot of good things to get back in Santa's good graces.  The Drama Queen looks at him and says "how many good things?"  That makes me think that maybe he got through to her for now.  But I know it is only a band-aid to the situation.  Kids only worry about Santa for so long, and for certain parts of the year.  But I have been hinting at being in contact with Mrs. B. and knowing what the Drama queen does wrong in school, and that she had better straighten up or she is going to lose all rights to television on the days she can not behave.

Through a friend of mine, I have located a daycare run by a woman out of her home.  She lives a few blocks from me, and because of the weekly doctors appointments we have to attend, I need to stay with a facility in our home city.  I let her know the entire situation with the Vampire, and asked her if she would be willing to take her on.  She told me she would give it an honest shot, that she loves kids, and has been working with them for all of her life.  I let her know that this might not be permanent, cause if I can get her on at Head Start, then I will have to try that because they offer speech and other therapies, she said that is OK, and this comes at a great time with the older kids being in school most of the day.  I feel the Vampire needs help with her speech, and fear she will be as difficult to understand as her 7 year old autistic brother is.  So I am still shooting for Head Start, even if it is only 1/2 a day. 

We don't have dance class the last two weeks of this month.  I am (as horrible as it sounds) looking forward to that.  We need a little break as we have been running at full steam for months now.  The break will also be good for the girls.  At our last therapy meeting, the therapist let us know that she can not arrange for a person to shadow the Vampire at the daycare.  That is something not provided until they are school-age (Kindergarten.... can I tell you that I dread Kindergarten with the Vampire).  She also can not formally test the Vampire for anything because she is just too young.  She said we can take her somewhere to be tested on our own, and that if they do diagnose her incorrectly that she can over turn the diagnosis.  So even more to think about for her.  If I could have one wish for Christmas, it would be that my sister has learned her lesson, that she hasn't had any more children that she couldn't handle, and that if (on the off chance) she has, that she will do a better job in loving and raising them.  Because I struggle to clean up her mess, and help these children make it through life, that is my only Christmas wish.

Aunt TT

Head Start 12/6

Yesterday when Uncle M picked the Vampire up from Day Care, we got a report of a perfect day.  No hitting, no biting, no messes in her undies.  Just a perfect day.  She called me on the way home, and I praised her up one side and down the other for being such a good girl. 

We met with the therapist again last night.  She is trying so hard to help us help the Vampire.  While talking with the therapist, the Vampire says "my teacher pinched me."  The therapist and I look at each other, and the therapist says "Awwww come on.  Your teacher wouldn't do something like that!"  Again the Vampire says, "my teacher pinched me!!!"  I say "show me where", and she points at her neck.  I say, "Can I see closer?"  So she comes over to me and points to the spot.  On her neck, I see three little half moon shaped bruises, where it looks like someone has dug their nails into her skin.  I ask the therapist to look at it, and to see if she thinks it could be from another child.  I know.  It's awful that I don't just believe this child, but she has tried to lie to me about not biting, etc.  So the distrust is just there.  Aside from that, I want to make for certain that I am not jumping the gun and accusing someone of having hurt my kid.  The therapist looks closely at the marks, and says to me "no, these are from an adult, they're as large as my nails."  I am shocked.  This is the first instance from this daycare that there have been any questionable marks on this child.  I now have motivation to get her out of there before she hits her five strikes.  I don't know where those marks came from, but it is clear to me that the teacher doesn't want to deal with her anymore, and I don't want to leave her somewhere she isn't wanted.

I spoke with someone at Head Start this morning.  After finding out that the Vampire isn't my biological kid, she said that she can get her into the program easier.  Head Start isn't full day, but at least it is something, and I will have to keep working on full time daycare.  I am told that the may be able to get her in as early as January.  Now to figure out if they bus the kids...
Aunt TT

Friday, December 3, 2010

Drowning in a Sea of Labels

So much has happened in the last twenty-four hours.  I will start with the therapist meeting yesterday.  Uncle M and I met with the girls' therapist while the girls played in the play room.  We talked to her about their various issues, what has happened in the last two weeks since we had seen her.  She recommended using lavender oil on the bottom of the Vampire's feet to help her sleep better at night, and gave us a vial of the potent herb to try it out.  She asked us how 1-2-3 Magic is working, and we let her know that we just started on it, but thus far the girls do seem to be getting the drift of it.  She said something to me that hit home really hard, that I can be a really great parent, but I have to cast off the role of favorite aunt to walk in those shoes.  She is right.  I still long for the days when it was just the girls and I out having fun, and I was the "fun person" in their lives.  I have to cast that role out of my mind, and become the loving mom who guides them to success.  They have a biological mom, who birthed them, and gave them a legacy of issues through her addiction to drugs/alcohol.  And now they have a mom by choice, who will work hard to help them through those issues, and will never leave them.  There, I said it.  I am their mom.

The Vampire lost her right to stay in the play room, cause she wouldn't stay in there.  She had to stay in the therapist's office with us.  She ended up crapping her pants while she was in there, more than likely on purpose and because she wanted our attention.  She thought it was funny.  We didn't.  It stunk to high heaven.  The therapist asked us how we would handle cleaning her up when we got home.  I told her that we would set her in the bathtub, tell her to rinse her pants out and clean herself up, then let her dress, and carry her dirty clothes to the laundry room, and put them in the washer to be washed.  She said that is perfect.  So she had to clean herself up.  To clarify things, she did use the restroom in the toilet during the meeting with the therapist, and soiled her undies a few moments after.  As the Vampire is cleaning up, the Drama Queen informs me that she soiled her underwear as well.  I told her that I am glad for her honesty, but because she didn't use the restroom like she should, she is going to go and clean her undies up after the Vampire is done.  And she did.  I will just keep doing that, with as little emotion as possible until they get the hang of it.   

After dinner they took their usual evening shower.  We always have them lotion their skin after the shower because they both battle dry skin, especially in the winter, then dress in their pajamas.  The routine tonight included a toenail trimming and a foot massage with lavender oil.  Serious spa treatment...  wish I were my kid.  I dried their hair after they brushed their teeth, then read them a Winnie the Pooh story before bed.  The Drama Queen fell asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow.  The Vampire on the other hand, fought it.  She fell asleep around 10:00, after being tucked in around 8:30.  At some point in the night, their nightlight went out, probably due to the bulb blowing out.  The Vampire woke up afraid, and crawled in bed with me.  I snuggled her for a bit, then took her back to her room and plugged in another night light for them.  The Drama Queen was awake, told me she was afraid of the dark, then went back to sleep.  I stumbled back to my bed, dove under the warm covers and went back to sleep as well.

The Drama Queen and I mailed her letter to Santa today, she is excited for him to get it, and hoping that he will bring her all she asked for.  Santa e-mailed me two videos from his Portable North Pole console today, and I will show them both their videos sometime this weekend, in an attempt to keep things "normal" and build excitement for Christmas.  The Drama Queen told me today, "I just love December, and the snow."  I am happy that she is happy.  The therapist said that she will be the one we have trouble with in later years, and she may equate sex with love.  I said, "what can I do to prevent that???"  The therapist told me I may not be able to prevent it, but we will do everything we can, and she will work hard with her.  I don't want that precious little girl to grow up and not realize how worthwhile she is and how much people will just love her for that special person she is, as much as I don't want the Vampire to grow up being a bully and hurting other kids. 

This morning was the meeting with the daycare director.  As I feared, this is the last ditch effort they are making.  The teacher of the class is pretty much done with The Vampire.  The director is giving her 5 bites, then she is out.  The catch is that I have to pick her up and take her home after each bite, and she is not allowed to come back the following day, so I can "work with her on her behavior".  I know she will bite 5 times in the next two weeks, and I will be trying to find more child care before Christmas.  The girls' therapist met me for this meeting.  I can not express in words, how thankful I am that she was there.  I felt so much stronger having her sitting there beside me, backing me up, and seeing things in a light I didn't because of my emotions.  The director asked me if we had the Vampire tested for autism, and it is hard to think clearly when someone is trying to gently tell you that there is something very wrong with your child.  Autism, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Bi-Polar Disorder, Reactive Attachment Disorder, there have been so many labels dropped in regards to this cherub-like three year old... that it is staggering.  Sometimes it is hard for me to stay focused on any one of them, and more importantly, to fully understand any of them.  The whole time these labels are dropped I'm thinking, "what in God's name did my sister do to these kids...."  While the nurturing side of me that loves this child and wants nothing but her success in life is screaming, "HOW selfish of my sister to do this to these children..."

I question things I will never get answers to.  But I can cling to this explanation, and have peace of mind.  My sister is an addict.  She is addicted to something, be it alcohol, or drugs, and she does not have the will power to pull herself away from it.  She didn't chose a man over these kids.  She chose alcohol and drugs.  Sure... she ran off with a man, but she was chasing the promise of doing alcohol and drugs without having to deal with kids in the mix.  I complain about all the labels dropped on the Vampire... yet I sit here and drop one on the woman who gave birth to her.  She is an addict. 

Emotionally for me, there is so much to come to terms with right now.  The therapist is going to work a couple of avenues to help the Vampire.  I think it was good for her to be at the meeting, because she realizes the severity of the Vampire's issues now, and maybe we will start getting to the bottom of it all.  She is going to look at pursuing formal testing, for Autism and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.  She is going to see if there isn't someone who can shadow the Vampire at school all day long to keep her negative behaviors in check, and help her to overcome this.  The therapist is also going to try to get her bumped up on the waiting list at the special needs daycare I have been trying to get her in at.  I'm just going to keep plugging away at the 1-2-3 Magic, dragging her to appointments/testing and helping those who are trying to help her, and hoping/praying that the aggression will begin to fade, that the Vampire will feel more secure with us, and that she will stop biting soon.  She has to stop someday.  It might as well be today! 

Aunt TT

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

On the First day of December

We woke up to snow on our front porch.  OK... so it was a dusting.  But it was snow.  It was the much needed push to put me into the Christmas Spirit.  I turned the all Christmas Music radio station on in the car for the girls and I, and we sung carols the entire way to daycare/school.  Well the Drama Queen and I sung, the Vampire just listened.  She doesn't sing often.  One song that has always touched me deeply that has been transformed into a Christmas Song is Pachelbel's Cannon in D.  Trans-Siberian Orchestra has done an amazing rendition of the song, and I would like to share it with you.  I can not fathom the ability to write something so perfect, so beautiful.  To be capable of hearing in my mind the separate instruments performing each individual part to make the complex composition that is one simple four minute song.  I hope it gives you the tranquility it gives me.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra's Christmas Cannon

Now that your heart and mind are one in the mood for Christmas, I will pull you up to speed on the activities of the past few days.  Sunday night, the sister who abandoned her children to my mother and myself, spent a bit of time texting my mom.  The first text seemed to be a mis-text, and it seemed as if she didn't know who my mom was at all.  The later texts were angry and hateful because mom, dad, and I made a decision about letting the children see a man who was dying earlier this year.  This man is not family to the children, or to my sister.  He was the husband of the woman my sister was living with off and on for about 6 months before she left her children, for this woman's son.  I didn't know this man very well, and had been told he was in very rough shape.  I didn't think that the children needed to be subjected to that, nine months after their mother had left, and while they were still trying to recover and be free of the life they lived before.  This decision can be viewed as cold, hard, callous, mean, or whatever my sister wants to think the fuel behind it was.  I can tell you plainly that it wasn't.  I chose not to regret what I have done in order to protect those kids, as I am told by some that they were afraid of this man's wife.  They had been though enough.  I chose NOT to add to that.  They are my one care.  I have this thought that I have not been able to shake, and must tell someone.  It is something I have wanted to say to my sister to her face ever since my mom told me about these texts.  You may think it is cruel, but I have wanted to quite coldly state to her "YOU left these children.  It is NOT your concern any longer what mom or I decide is best for them."  I have thought over and over how I could call her up, and say that to her.  Text her, and just plainly say that to her.  Of course I would be starting a fight.  She didn't text me saying those things.  She texted mom.  So I will stay out of it.  But that is how I feel.  When you walk out of a child's life.  Your decision making about what they can or can not do is forfeited.  If I could say it to her, I would state it calmly, then walk away.  There isn't much someone could say to that bare fact.  Yes, she may still care about and love them, but her ability to dictate what they will or won't do...  is just gone.  That must hurt her, but it was her choice.  Not mine.

The Vampire is still biting at school.  Uncle M and I are reading 1-2-3 Magic, and hoping that it is every bit as "magical" as it claims to be.  I am not clear on how this will help her at school, but at least the home environment will (HOPEFULLY) be better.  I am learning through this book that all of my rationalizing things out with kids falls under the "assumptions that they are adults" category.  They are just kids.  I have to remember that.  We have jumped on the band wagon, and I (being the more emotional of the two of us) am working hard to say without any emotion or excessive talking "That's 1" for the first offense when trying to stop them in an obnoxious behavior.  I ended up barking it at the Vampire this morning while drying my hair because she decided to yell at me when I put the toilet seat down and asked her to sit on it.  She looked at me for a second and started bawling (but stopped yelling at me).  I didn't mean for it to come out as harshly as it did, but I am learning too.  Hopefully they can be as patient with me, as I am trying to be with them.

The director of the Vampire's current daycare would like to have a meeting with Uncle M and I.  Uncle M assured me that this isn't anything serious, just that they want to set up a game plan.  I know in my heart it is serious.  It's their "last ditch effort", before they have to tell us they can't handle her anymore.  I see the defeat in her teacher's eyes.  I see the lack of excitement some of them display to see my little Vampire.  I just pray she doesn't see it.  I am trying my best not to be negative, but I can feel a great change on the horizon of this little one's life, and I fear the change isn't that she will stop biting.  The good news however is I will be able to get some professional photos of the little tyke.  She missed them at the last two centers, but they will be taking some of her tomorrow.  It will come complete with an ID card (photo and all) that I can keep in my wallet, and (God Forbid) if she ever come up missing - I would have something handy to give the police when I tell them to find her.  For that I am very glad.

On Monday the Drama Queen sat down and wrote her very first letter to Santa.  It had all the finesse of a 5yr old "Dear Santa Claus, I want, I want, I want, I want, I want".  It was so sweet, though.  She wrote it in red crayon, and I asked her if I could make a copy of it, and mail Santa the photo copy because the original was so special to dear ole Aunt TT.  She smiled and told me that would be OK.  I have the envelope addressed, and promised her that we would walk down to the mailbox at the end of our street tonight and drop it in.  I asked the mailman today "so where do all the letters to Santa really go".  He told me that the postmaster usually replies to them.  I was shocked and said wow - that's a lot of work I'm sure!  He told me "not really, but don't put it in the blue mail box at the end of the road, put it in the box on your house.  The blue mailbox mail gets scooped up and processed through Cincinnati.  The mail straight from your house goes through your local office."  Isn't it nice to be friendly with your local service-personnel?  So I will have to tell the Drama Queen that we will put it in the mail box on the house, and let our mailman take it away tomorrow.  I am very excited to mail a letter to Santa with her for the very first time. 

I hope to start getting Christmas decorations up soon.  The Drama Queen told me "TT, you can put the tree up, but I want to help decorate it."  I smiled and told her I would LOVE to have your help with decorations!  I hope that the Vampire joins in on the decorating fun, and Uncle M doesn't mind me putting the All Christmas Music channel on our stereo system while we all get our house prepared for Christmas.

Aunt TT