Thursday, March 31, 2011

Waiting for the Real Spring

This weekend, we traveled to visit with Uncle M's family.  They live 4.5 hours away from our home.  It was lovely seeing all of them, and I am STILL sore from working out with his sister.  I'm so grateful she took me to her gym with her.  It has been awhile since I visited a gym, and got a full workout in like I did on Saturday.  Uncle M's mom fell on St. Patty's day, and broke the top part of her tibia (near her knee).  She is currently in a nursing home for rehabilitation, and from what I hear took 32 steps yesterday (and a few sideways).  So it sounds like she is making vast improvements.  We are cheering her on, and hope she recovers swiftly.  I know she really wants to be home with her family.

I also got to spend some time with Uncle M's niece.  She just turned 14.  Being around a teenager is a real eye opener.  It also makes me wonder (and worry) about being a parent to a teenager!!  I love this kid, but dread ever having the issues her mom has.  At one point in the weekend, she told me that she has stuck someone else in the household's toothbrush in the toilet (to get back at them for something I am sure)!!  *Note to self - hide toothbrush from the girls*  Teenagers!!!!   She had a pretty good birthday from what I can tell.  Birthdays change so much as you age.  You're the center of attention and it's a huge deal when you're little, and as you age, it becomes just another day.  She had a friend over and had an icing fight with her, it reminded me of the days when my siblings and I would do crazy things like that.  I recall my brother putting black cats (the firecrackers) on one of my birthday cakes...  there was pink and purple icing everywhere when they exploded.  Mom wasn't too happy, but can laugh about it now.

I talked as little as possible about my whole situation with my sister over the weekend.  It was nice to shove it to the back of my mind and enjoy being with family and friends.  It always lingers.  Like a vulture hovering for it's next meal, but I just keep tossing rocks at that vulture and hoping that I will always be strong enough to fend it off.  I've been a little depressed about it.  I was eating pretty healthy until I got that call from my mom about her, and since then...  well let's say it's just not pretty.  I have still been training for my 5K (although I twisted my ankle a little last night and now it's stiff/sore, I didn't do my entire run either), but my diet has been horrible.  I need to kick this and not let it get me down.

The Vampire did try to bite once over the weekend.  I reprimanded her, and put her to bed (it was bed time anyway) for it.  That is a 0 tolerance thing for me.   I will not put up with it.  Aside from that instance, she has been so stinking sweet and lovable.  She asked Uncle M "you talk to me about it?" yesterday when he picked her up from school, and had seen one of her friends sad.  She did bite twice last week.   Our next appointment for the ASD testing is 4/15.  This will be a two hour appointment where they will test her IQ, and various other things.  The social worker that I spoke with about the Vampire at the clinic says that it sounds like she could have PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder).  It is what they said her brother Z-man had as well.  She explained that any time a child is in a situation where they witness abuse, are abused, etc. That they are likely to repeat those behaviors whenever they feel any slight stress.  This COULD be what is going on with our sweet Vampire, and I intend to research it more thoroughly.

The Drama Queen is out on Spring Break this week!  I really need to figure out what we are going to do with her this summer.  I have been watching for inexpensive summer programs, but they are all between 150-250 per week.  That would be an extra 1950.00 to 3250.00 that we would have to produce this summer, and I don't really see that as being possible.  Our budget is all ready stretched to the maximum.  I have been toying with the idea of picking up a second job for the summer to help cover these expenses, but then I would never get to spend time with my family.  I keep hoping and praying something will work out, and just keep looking.  Who knows, maybe I will win the lottery between now and then.  I could just buy my own daycare!  (ha ha ha ha).

The greenhouse is coming along rather well.  It's nearly time to transplant the tomatoes into the ground and the Topsy Turvey planters.  Our first row of corn is about 3 inches tall.  The cucumbers are struggling a bit because of this cold spell.  I am pretty sure I am going to have to re-start them.  The zucchini is about 6 inches tall, and thriving.  Our peas are doing the best!!  They are starting to get the curly vines sprouting off of them, and I will have to support their growth with some tomato cages soon.

I haven't seen any sprouts on the green beans, black beans, lima beans, onions or carrots yet, but I am hoping we will see that soon.  Uncle M has a great idea for watering involving PVC pipe (which is fairly inexpensive) and a drill.  I think it will work well, and will be minimal for us as all we will have to do is hook the pipe up to the hose and let it drench the ground thoroughly, then turn the hose off.  I will post more photos as I take them!

Here are the promised photos of the Drama Queen's tap (black with the fringe) and ballet (blue dress) costumes.  We are still waiting on the Vampire's pirate costume.  I am praying she doesn't get kicked out of tumbling because she has issues when people get in her space.  We just keep redirecting and hoping we can make a difference.

Have a lovely (cold here) spring day!!

Aunt TT

Thursday, March 24, 2011


The definition of Sanguine is:  cheerfully optimistic, hopeful, or confident.  I am trying to be cheerfully optimistic, hopeful, and confident about my current situation.  It is hard, as my sister contacted me again yesterday.  I didn't hear or see my phone ringing, so she had to leave me a voice mail message.  She apologized for hanging up on me on Sunday.  She said it was really hard for her to hear that her daughters are calling me mom.  She felt it necessary to remind me that I am not their mom, but their Aunt TT, and that she is their mother.  She said that she misses her daughters dearly.  She said she looks at photos of them every day and cries over them.  She told me that she is not trying to take the kids from me, but just wants to see them.  She spoke again of moving back home, and of her hopes for the future, then she was cut off because she filled up the allotted time for the message.

I cried a little bit after I listened to it.  The fear of no longer raising those kids is one of my worst nightmares for two reasons, 1.  She hurt them so badly when she had them, and they were so neglected, or abused by the men in her life.  2.  I can't imagine my life without them.  I called my dad.  Told him of the message, and of my fears, I cried a little bit more, then decided to pull myself together and get back to work.  I thought about how much I have changed in the last year.  Had I received that call the same time last year (when I was dealing with the custody issue against Redneck), I would have been a sobbing wreck, worthless at my job.  So I feel I have grown stronger.  The naive, accepting part of me has died a little, but so be it - if I have to become a little harder to make sure these kids are cared for - I will.  

I also reflected a bit on her message.  The one theme that rang through the entire thing was I, I, I, Me, Me, Me.  Not once did she say "what do you think would be best for the kids?" or maybe "It hurts that they call you mom, but thanks for stepping up and being that for them, as I know they need it."  It was all, "I miss them", "I am sorry", "I want this", "it hurt My feelings".  That leads me to believe she isn't ready to raise those girls because she isn't putting them first.  She is STILL after all these years, putting herself first.  I know in my heart because of this that she hasn't changed.  She didn't call to check up on them all this time she has been gone.  Why?  Probably because it hurt HER too bad.  She was irresponsible enough to get pregnant and produce another child after she bailed out on the three she all ready gave birth to.  That also tells me she is not ready to be their true and steady mother.  I hope and pray I have the sanguine strength to face the weeks, months, and years ahead of us with as much grace and dignity as possible.

The Vampire bit yesterday.  It was the first day in nearly three weeks that she bit.  I am unsure why, and when I asked her about it, she couldn't answer me.  She kept going on about how Kendyl scratched her again.  I told her that maybe she shouldn't play with Kendyl if he was going to hurt her, and she just nods at me.  She had a rough night at the therapist's too.  She pinched the therapist, and when the therapist tried to re-direct her she screamed at her, then she pulled the therapist's hair.  The therapist came out and said "Katie is being mean to me, I don't want to play with her.  Drama Queen, Aunt TT, do you want to come play with me?"  We both said yes, then got busy playing a game of Trouble (Sorry).  It bothered the Vampire for about two minutes that she couldn't play with us - then she was fine.  She ignored us and played with the kitchen set.  She interrupted once, saying she had to potty, she asked me to stay in the bathroom with her, but as I recognized this as her trying to manipulate me, I told her no, that she would be fine, and I would be in right outside the door.  She was very whiney when we got home, and resisted going to bed again.  No fever, and no other signs of illness or infection.  I don't know what is going on with her again.  I am hoping and praying that she will have a better day today.

The Drama Queen and I went for a jog when we got home last night.  It was my first time running outside... I think since I was in college...  We also took the dog, and my shoulder is throbbing cause of it.  We walked/jogged 2.2 miles in 33 minutes.  She was a real trooper, and a joy to workout with.  She talked my ear off, and I usually don't have much breath to answer her.  At one point she said, "you know - I feel like Vampire!"  I said, "why do you say that DQ?"  She responds, "cause I get to be with you and I feel special."  I say, "do you think Vampire is more special to me than you are?"  She says, "yeah, most of the time."  I then tell her that she and the Vampire are equally special to me and I love them both the same amount.  I try to explain to her that the Vampire just needs so much of our attention right now to keep her from hurting people, and that I am truly sorry if she feels I have neglected her in the process.  I say all of this as I am huffing and puffing up the largest hill in our route.  I make it a point through the rest of the run to tell DQ what a great job she is doing, and how proud of her I am.  When she is getting tired in the last 10 minutes of our jog, I tell her that she can do this, and we only have a little bit of walking/jogging left before we can go home and shower.  When we get home I tell her how proud of her I am, and how great she did at the workout, and that I hope she will go with me again in the future because I thoroughly enjoyed her company.  I tell Uncle M about what she said to me after she is in bed.  I hate that she feels any less than special in my eyes, and hope that the one on one exercise bonding time can bring us closer, and help close the gap she feels may be missing.  She is still doing wonderfully at reading, and I am so proud of her, I encourage that in her, and tell her that every day.

The girls insisted on dressing up like twins the other day.  I just had to share this photo with you guys as it is my favorite.  Uncle M captured this moment that I like to call "sisterly love".

We got the Drama Queen's ballet costume on Tuesday.  I will post a photo of it and her jazz costume soon.  We are still waiting on the Vampire's pirate costume.  I wanted to show photos of their Easter Dresses as well.  I don't know who is more excited about dressing up, me or them!  I am toying with the idea of family photos in our Easter best!!  I just have to convince Uncle M to wear a pale pink shirt to match us...  and I have to find something I can wear to match the girls...  wow I have become the person I never thought I would!

I hope you all have a lovely day!!

Aunt TT

Monday, March 21, 2011

Conflicting Stories

To My Sweet Little 3 year old and 6 year old,

I am faced with a really tough decision right now.  You see, your mom called Mamaw yesterday.  She gave Mamaw the impression that she wants me to adopt you, so that I can continue to keep you safe, and raise you for the rest of our lives.  She went so far to tell Mamaw that she would sign you over to me right now.  She told Mamaw that she is very happy that I am raising you, and knows that you are well cared for.  She gave Mamaw the impression that raising four children was just something that she couldn't do. 

No.  Aunt TT has not lost her mind.  I didn't have a typo.  I meant four children.  On top of telling Mamaw that she thinks I'm doing a great job by both of you, she also told her that you both have a little brother.  A baby that was born in May of 2010.  She told Mamaw that she is trying really hard to be a good mommy to your little brother.  She told Mamaw that this little brother reminds her of your older brother.  She also talked about how much she missed you two, me, Z-man, Mamaw, and Papaw. 

She told Mamaw that she would like to see you the weekend of 4/3.  Mamaw was cautious and told her that it would have to be at the therapists office, so we could better handle the fallout we are all afraid you three may have.  I am afraid you might suffer feelings of anger and rejection.  I am afraid you might feel unloved, or you might have a meltdown when you have to watch her walk away again.  I am afraid that you won't understand when she is coming back (because I won't understand either), and you might feel like she doesn't love you.  I am afraid that you may want to give up in school and lose your desire to excel, and girls nothing is worthy of that.  You are so special so wonderful that I never want to see you stop striving for the best person that you can be.  I can not answer for your biological mother, but please know in my heart, I feel that she loves you.  I know she made some decisions that you or I didn't exactly like, but they brought you and I together, and for that - I will be eternally grateful.  My time with you has been the best years of my life.

Your biological mom also told Mamaw that she wanted to talk to me.  So Mamaw called me to tell me the news.  I was afraid.  I didn't believe that your mommy could want to give you up to me.  I couldn't understand how any mommy would want to give their children up.  Mommies work so hard to bring babies to life, then work even harder for years to come to ensure their safety and well being.  My mom, your Mamaw encouraged me to talk to your mommy, but I was so angry at your mommy for leaving you three and having another child, that in the moment I couldn't.  Your mommy lied to Mamaw and I about that quite a bit over the last year and a half.  I needed time to calm down.  Papaw called me shortly after I got off the phone with Mamaw to let me know how he felt about Mamaw's conversation with your mommy.  He also encouraged me to open my heart and talk to my sister.  I know Papaw's dream is to have his family whole again some day.  It breaks his heart that we had to make the decisions that we had to make, but we had to be strong for you.  You had no one else to protect you from this world. 

I spent the day working in the greenhouse.  Drama Queen, you played games on the computer, and Vampire, you helped Uncle M to clean all the rocks out of that silly rock garden in the back yard, then when you tired of that you watched T.V.  I developed a love of the song "Waiting for the End" by Linkin Park while I worked.  You see he says in the chorus "sitting in an empty room, trying to forget the past.  this was never meant to last.  I wish you didn't have to go.  I know what it takes to move on.  I know how it feels to lie.  All I want to do is trade this life for something new, holding onto what I haven't got".  You see, I feel that in fighting to keep you safe with me... I am holding onto what I haven't got.  You are my children, but you aren't.   I fear the day that may come that you may be taken away from me, or that you may become angry and decide you don't want to be with me anymore (when you are at an age you can decide).  I don't ever want to sit in your empty room.  I don't ever want to forget the past that we have shared.  I want this to be meant to last for the rest of our lives.  I don't want to trade my life with you - it is all I want.  I hope and pray that I'm not holding onto what I haven't got.  I know that might not make sense to you, but I sing this song to you when you're getting ready for the shower, and you both love it, and ask me to keep singing.  Just know that maybe the reason I am so good at singing it to you, is because I am singing you my heart, and soul.

Sunday evening, I finally got the nerve up to call your mom after you were in bed.  She seemed shocked that I called her, and told me how she loved and missed me.  I told her the same.  I wanted to go on and on about everything I hate that she has missed, and chat like old times and bring her up to speed on our lives, but the mature and calm part of me cautioned against that.  She told me that she is thrilled that I am raising you.  She said she didn't want anyone else to do it.  She told me that she knows it is very far down the road, but she would like to show you both what a good mommy she can be.  She contradicted what she told Mamaw earlier that day, and told me she would like shared parenting with me, that she envisions having you both for 1/2 of the year, and I have you both for the other 1/2 of the year.  I stayed quiet and listened to her, although my heart was breaking.  Your mommy made some bad decisions when she had you, I don't want to see you subjected to that again.  There is a nagging voice inside my head to give her a shot, but my heart screams that people don't change that drastically, and would I really subject you to that life again?  Please know that I wish your mommy no ill will.  I do love her.  I disagree with so many decisions she makes, but I do love her.  I didn't confirm or deny my desire to share the both of you with her, and just let her talk.  I told her how you both call me mommy.  I didn't do it to hurt her feelings, although I am sure it did.  I wanted her to know that I didn't ask either of you to call me that, that you needed someone you could consider your mommy, and I was the closest thing, so I didn't stop you.  I also didn't tell her how proud I am that you think that highly of me.  It would have hurt her even more. 

Your biological mommy mentioned moving back home, and of her visit he hopes to make in April.  I had visions of strained family gatherings dancing through my head, but tried to stay impartial to it - and tried to imagine that in time things wouldn't be so bad.  Please know that I am not and I did not try to drive her away.  She is part of me, as I am part of her.  I don't feel whole while she isn't around, but my main goal in life - is to protect you both and make sure you have the best shot at life.  I asked her to think about what that would do to both of you.  How confused it could leave you.  I asked her to think of your well being, and how much it would hurt both of you to watch her walk away again...  never knowing when you would see her next, if at all.  I also asked her if she drank alcohol or did drugs during the time she carried both of you.  She seemed so hurt that I could even ask, but you three have struggled so much, and I am banging my head against the wall trying to figure out exactly why (aside from the obvious) you have had such a rough time.  She told me at that point that she loved me but she couldn't talk to me anymore.  She was crying, and she hung up the phone.

I felt horrible, and good at the same time.  Horrible for causing my sister to cry, good for standing up for both of you in the calmest, nicest way possible.  I know you won't understand all of this right now.  I know you might not even understand it in 20 years from now.  I just want you to know that I am trying to protect you.  I am trying my best not to hurt my sister, your mother in the process.  But someone will be hurt.  I prefer it would be me or your biological mom that feel the pain, but I know I can't shield you from all of it.  I know you will have questions, and I will answer them all as openly and honestly as I can.  I may cry.  You may cry.  You may be angry and scream, and I will listen patiently and do whatever I can to help you.  The bottom line of all of this....  you are so loved.  Your mother loved you enough not to drag you into the lifestyle that she chose when she moved away.  I love you so much that I sacrificed everything to provide for you and let you know how very loved you are.  You have two mother figures who will love you forever.  You might not like the decisions we make to show you our love, but we have no more control over each other than we have over how many hours in the day the sun will shine.  I hope you will respect the decisions I have made, for I have a great many tough ones in front of me.  It is hard to be objective right now.  When my heart and mind are pulling me into so many different directions, but I will do my best by you, and I pray that shines in all of my actions.  I love you both, more than I could ever put into words, and always will - no matter the outcome.

Aunt TT

Saturday, March 19, 2011

There is my Mommy!

The weather has been warming up.  My dream of owning a working greenhouse is becoming real.  Today, we spent hours spreading dirt in the floor of the greenhouse and making a walkway.  We planted corn, cucumbers, squash, and peas.  We will be adding even more to that collection as our sprouts in the mini greenhouses grow and develop.  We have green beans (bleh), tomatoes, peppers, cantaloupe, and an assortment of herbs.  The girls planted some sunflower plants, and we will be moving them outside the greenhouse when they are hardier.  It is all coming together.  The girls helped us spread dirt, and stayed under our feet.  They were intrigued with it all.

The girls spent some time playing outside today as well.  Drama Queen helped me repair some things on their swing set, then she and the Vampire ran and played on the swing set.

Uncle M has been working later in the day, and I have had to start helping with picking Drama Queen up from school.  On Friday when I went to pick her up she was announcing to her teacher "There is my Mommy".  The teacher that was there was not her normal teacher, so I smiled and said "hi".  The entire time Drama Queen is saying "this is my mommy!  Mommy I am so happy to see you!  I stayed on green today Mommy!"  She was so proud to see me, and proud to tell everyone that I am her mom.  I couldn't help but grin ear to ear.  In the back of my mind, this nagging voice kept saying "she's not your real child - someone could take her away some day."  But I ignored the voice and just kept grinning at that sweet little girl and listening to her tell me all about the fun things she did that day.

The Vampire.  Monday is my first appointment with the Child Diagnostic Center for the autism spectrum testing.  I hope I am not jinxing myself, but she has been doing AMAZING for the last two weeks.  She had one bad day where she did try to bite - but they were able to re-direct her anger, and she didn't connect.  The other days, she has just been doing pretty good.  She has had some oral fixation issues where she tries to put things in her mouth that she shouldn't, so we have been sending her to school with her biting necklace, hoping that will help her with her oral fixations.  She has been so loving lately too.  She wants me to snuggle her.  She comes in around 4a on a regular basis simply because she wants me to hold her.  The therapist says that could be a bad idea, that we shouldn't let her crawl up in bed with us but to take her back to her bedroom and snuggle her a bit there, then go back to bed ourselves.  I've been trying that - and I lose sleep, but she still feels loved and secure.  I feel her speech is improving little by little.  Uncle M and I have been working very hard on getting her to say things properly instead of accepting her saying things wrong.  For instance she will say mell instead of smell.  We will say "we don't know what you are talking about..." until she takes the time to say it correctly.  It seems to have been working.

My 5k training is going fairly well.  This past week I had to walk 3 mins. jog 2 mins, for a total of 25 minutes.  I have also been staying up on my pilates, and trying to eat well (although I cheated Friday night).  I am very excited about the charity that we are going to attempt to run for.  The proceeds will benefit a group of people who try to help girls aged 13-19 who have survived human trafficking.  I didn't know that human trafficking happened in America, but I am told it does, and frequently.  The 5k will happen on 4/16, so I have a few more weeks to continue getting into shape.  I know I won't place first, but I will have run a 5k.  Me...  run a 5K.  They also have runs for children.  The Vampire's age group is 50 meters, and the Drama Queen's age group is 1/3rd mile to 1 whole mile.  They both keep saying that they want to run with me.  So they have been training a bit with me while I train.  I hope this will be a start to a whole new healthier life for all of us.  Uncle M has even been getting on the treadmill and running now and then.  He says he wants to run in the 5K with me.  We will have to find someone to keep an eye on the girls for the 30 to 45 minutes that we run, but we shall see. 

We still haven't really named the kitten.  I call her Little Girl most of the time.  Sophie every now and then.  She has still been really loving and gentle to the girls.  The Drama Queen will hold her, and even though she wants loose, she doesn't use her claws or teeth to try and get loose.  She tolerates the unwanted affection until she finds a way out, then takes her way out.  I am glad she found her way to us.  She has given this family yet another reason to smile every single day. 

Aunt TT

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Happy Tears

I  don't know about the rest of you, but even though it is snowing today...

My greenhouse is giving me the much needed taste of spring that I had wanted.  Here is what our sprouts look like right now:

For that, I am eternally grateful.  I can't wait to post the photos of the bountiful fruits and veggies we grow in there over the spring/summer (and hopefully fall).

Autism Testing in a week and a half.  I am a nervous wreck about this.  I have talked to so many people who think the Vampire could be autistic...  and about the same amount of people who believe she more than likely isn't autistic.  To those of you with children who do not have spectrum or mental health disorders that they struggle with, this is what spirals through my mind.  To my friends and family, who have autistic children - please let me ask you to remember how you felt when you didn't know what was going on with your child, but knew something wasn't quite right.  I imagine, you like me, were scared.  I imagine you worried about the quality of life your child would have if they were diagnosed with autism.  I fear getting her diagnosed, and having a difficult time during her entire life because she has been "labeled".  I also fear not getting her diagnosed, and suffering and struggling through life because I haven't helped her get the proper care.  The immediate lesser of the two evils - test her.  So that I what I am doing.  I am scared however, and I am trying to put on a brave face.  I know it isn't the end of the world.  I know that with time, and work, and therapy it will be manageable.  I know that the earlier it is caught - the better it will be for everyone involved.  I know that they may end up diagnosing her with something else.  They may try to push medicine on her to make her more manageable, and I fear that.  I want to her and will do whatever I can, to achieve that, though.

The Vampire's biting - I am knocking on wood, but she has not bit once this week.  She did try to yesterday, and they were able to intervene.  She did hit the dance teacher at dance class.  But for the most part, this week... she has been able to control her aggressive urges.  The therapist says that she can see a difference in the Vampire, and praised us on our time out methods that we have been using.  She feels that it gives the Vampire time to calm herself down - then she comes back into society, and participates in whatever was going on.  I don't want to jinx myself by talking about it too much, so onto the next topic...

The Drama Queen is a self taught cartwheel expert!   She is doing amazing with her cartwheeling and has taught herself to lead with the right and the left hand.  She does back bends, and is trying to teach herself to do one handed cartwheels.  Her dance teacher seemed impressed with her cartwheels and mentioned that she might want to get involved in tumbling next dance season.  We will see what we can afford.  She is also doing an amazing job with her reading and continues to astound me!   They are turning her elementary school into a 6th grade only school next school year, so I am going to try to get her transferred to the school of my choice instead of relying on luck of the draw.  There are two schools near the Vampire's daycare, and I am shooting for one of them.  She seems OK with all of this, and is not upset in the least about possibly losing her current school.  

I am training for a marathon.  A 5K to be exact.  I have a wonderful friends who are going to run/jog/walk the marathon with me.  I am in week one, and my legs are feeling the burn.  I do the running portion - M W F and have been doing pilates Tu and Th.  Today, after I finished pilates, I felt so relaxed and well... good.  I just have to keep this up for another 6 weeks and hopefully I will be able to do the marathon that I have committed to.  I have been using a lot for guidance in this.  I won't lie - I like, most every woman in the USA, am hoping for a little bit of weight loss in this venture - but above all else, I want to improve my health.  The Drama Queen has taken an interest in it, and did pilates with me this evening.  The marathon we will be doing includes kids and even dogs - so the girls can participate with me if they want.  I am looking forward to this, and will keep you up on it! 

When I came home from work today, the girls yelled "YOU HAVE TO COME SEE IN THE BEDROOM".  So I follow them after hanging up my coat, and setting my purse down.  There are flowers on my pillow and a card.  Uncle M took the girls to a flower shop and bought me flowers... just cause.  I thanked them, put them in a vase, and we all sat down for dinner.  At dinner, I told them all thank you again, and that I LOVED the card, cause everyone signed it, even the Vampire.  The Drama Queen asked me if I cried, and I told her no.  She said "oh darn."  I said "you wanted me to cry?"  She said, "yes TT.  Happy tears."  Then grinned at me with that angelic grin while the light of youth and innocence shined in her gorgeous green eyes.  I smiled back at her, and smoothed her hair back and said "I just love you."  My heart fills with so much love at moments like this, and I do almost cry.  They just touch my heart.

The little girl kitten still doesn't really have a name.  The vet knows her as Sophie... but we call her everything under the sun.  Ninjettie, Tendon Slicer, Lil' Girl, Sophie, Kitten Little are ones that get tossed around a lot nothing seems just right, though - and she doesn't acknowledge any of those names.  The girls adore her.  I have to remind them to keep their hands off cause they try to hold, cuddle, restrain her too much.  They have been trying to respect her, though - in the hopes that she will warm up to them.  She sleeps between Uncle M and I or between my legs.  She likes to be close to us when she has finally calmed down and quit trying to kill our wiggling toes.  You can't help but love her, though.  Name suggestions welcome!

Aunt TT

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rewards Chart

So last week, we decided to start a rewards chart.  We are trying to give the girls something they can work toward so they can see the results of their good behavior.  We are trying to encourage the Vampire to stop biting, and the Drama Queen to stop being so mouthy.  Most of the rewards are simple every day things (that the Vampire struggles with) like getting dressed, brush your teeth, get ready for bed.  We added a "take care of animals" and "keep your room clean" reward so that they would have a responsibilities.  I think it is important for children to feel necessary, and like they are helping out around the house.  It is also good that they learn to do these things for when they are older.  They have a "keep your undies clean", "no hurting others" and "take care of your hair" because these are behaviors we want to change, and we hope that positive reinforcement of these behaviors will change it. 

Since the start of the rewards chart, they both messed their pants at least once a day.  The Vampire bit every day but one.  My mom had called last weekend and asked if she could keep the girls, and I told her sure - we would make it the big reward at the end of the week!  We told the girls that if they could get 40 out of a possible 48 rewards then they would get to stay at mamaw's.  The Drama Queen barely earned her 40 rewards.  The Vampire...  didn't.  So we told the Vampire that she couldn't stay with Mamaw.  She seemed upset about it at first.  Then seemed thrilled that she was going to have Uncle M and I all to herself.  She didn't cry.  She didn't fight.  She didn't throw a fit that she couldn't stay.  She just smiled and came home with us after we dropped the Drama Queen off at Mamaw's. 

So I think our little plan backfired in our faces.  I don't think we managed to "teach her a lesson" about her biting being the wrong decision.  We also lost a date night in the whole mix.  We usually go out on a date when mom offers to keep the girls.  I feel like I was the one punished instead of her.   The Vampire LOVES to play with her My Little Ponies.  She has a bucket full of them, and will play with them for hours.  So we took the entire bucket away from her and told her that every day she goes without biting, she will earn a My Little Pony back to play with, but if she bites, she has to give up all the Ponies she earned, and start over again.  She cried for a little bit and said "what am I supposed to play with?!?!"  I told her anything but her Ponies.  She then says "I'll color", and breaks out the crayons and coloring book.  I walk off and continue what I am doing and hope that we are getting through to her somehow.  We are so tired of the biting and aggression.

On the 21st of this month, I have to meet with the CDC (Children's Diagnostic Center) for a pre-appointment for a battery of tests to see if the Vampire is Autistic.  The girls' therapist has decided it is time to test her.  I have such mixed feelings about this.  I know that it is a spectrum disorder.  I know she is not on the worst end of the spectrum, and that if she has it at all it is Aspbergers or high functioning.  I feel like Autism is being over-diagnosed.  When a kid has things that are wrong with them and the doctors can't quite figure out what it is...  they say Autism.  I don't want my little girl to be mis-diagnosed.  I don't want her to be lumped with gobs of other children who may have been mis-diagnosed.  But I do want her to get any help she may need.  So I am going to proceed with caution and take everything I hear with a grain of salt until I can research it and move forward from there.  I will keep you up on our progress with this situation.

I have been feeling detached lately.  I work so much, and we are so busy through the week that I don't get much time with the girls.  What little time I have, I am usually putting them in time out because they are lying, fighting, biting, etc.  I have about two hours with them when I am home from work and a good portion of that time is consumed with dinner, and preparation for bed activities (which they fight with us a lot during that time).  I can't reward bad behavior and since they both messed their pants pretty much every day last week, and the Vampire couldn't quit hurting people, I couldn't smile and laugh and pretend like everything was just fine.  I guess this is what life as a parent is like.

The dance recital date has been announced.  Fathers' day.  June 19th.  We have photos on May 1st.  Dance season is heating up!  The girls are learning their routines, and doing fairly well.  The dance teacher has such patience with the Vampire, and I am so thankful for that.  I know it can be frustrating to teach a class and have one child act out on a constant basis. 

Baata and the kitten are getting along much better.  She likes to try to play with him and he has to put her in her place frequently.  She is still afraid of the dog, but too silly to realize that he is also afraid of her.  He is such a big baby.  She brought fleas into the house, and we are trying to de-flea everything.  I had to buy some frontline.  I hate purchasing that stuff.  It is so expensive, but it knocks out the flea issue. 

We worked in the greenhouse last weekend.  The girls helped me plant seeds, and clean up the yard.  We hope to see some sprouts in the next few weeks.  I can't wait to get into full swing of gardening out there, so the girls can have a hand in helping me supply our family with fresh fruits/vegetables!  I loved to see the excitement and joy on their faces as they helped me plant seeds and dig in the dirt.  Those were truly magical moments.

My sister has been texting still.  She told my mom that she may not come to visit in March, that she has been having troubles and might not be able to make it.  I worry about her.  She also told mom that if we feel that it isn't a good idea that she sees her kids, then she will understand.   She said she doesn't want to make it harder on them than it all ready is.  I cried a bit when I read that message from her.  I hate that it has all come to this.  I truly do.  The Drama Queen has been calling me mom and Uncle M dad very often.  One of my good friends heard her do it when she picked her up from school one day and texted me saying "SHE CALLED YOU MOMMY!!!"  It was bittersweet.  I am so glad she is feeling comfortable, confident enough in her life that I am a mother figure.  Yet I am saddened that her own true mother, my sister has chosen to step out of the picture.  Such is our life right now - and all we can do is live it. 

Aunt TT