Thursday, April 28, 2011

In the Face of Turmoil

Well nearly another week has gone by since my last blog.  I have had a nasty cold/sinusitis ever since then.  I've been trying not to let it get me down, but when you're sick for a long time - it wears on you.  So what has happened in the last week?  I'll break it down into numbered points for this blog as I feel like my head will explode if I try to think too hard. 

1.  The Vampire's biting has been worse (although it was non-existent yesterday).  The daycare director told me today that there is a family threatening to pull their child out of the center due to the Vampire abusing her.  My heart sinks - it starts again.  The director assured me that she's not going to kick her out at this point, but that we all need to get together for a meeting to evaluate what is going on, and how we can collectively help her - and scheduled a care conference with us for 5/13.  I am so exhausted.  I focus on the positives, I work so hard to cuddle, snuggle, and love on her.  I praise her for the tiniest good that she does.  I try to overlook the bad and pick my battles with her.  There are a great many battles with her.  Uncle M and I work so hard with her on her speech.  School is the word we are trying to master now, as she can say DOG (instead of gog) without blinking an eye.  So that is where we stand on that front.

2.  Greenhouse is doing AWESOME!  I tried to take some photos yesterday and my camera batter died - so I hope to get some more soon.  I might just post a blog that is only photos to catch you all up on the ones from the whirl wind weekend that is before me.

3.  Drama Queen and the Vampire have both been afraid to sleep in their room.  They (usually alternate, sometimes together) both come and crawl in bed with Uncle M and I at various points of the night.  It is wearing on Uncle M.  I told him last night that he needs to be compassionate to them.  They are just children, and I remember being afraid in the dark when I was a child.  DQ says it would be nice if they had a brighter nightlight, so I will be making certain she has that tonight. 

4.  This weekend is another 5K AND dance photos!  DQ is going away with Z-man's paternal grandma for an overnight Saturday night, but I am not going to be able to let her spend the night due to dance photos on Sunday morning.  So I will be driving 45 minutes to pick her up, then bring her home, then the hour to roll her hair, then getting her off to bed.  I need to figure out what light make-up I will be putting on the Vampire.  Her skin is so white, eyes so blue.   Maybe a pale pink would look nice.  I need to play around with that tonight or tomorrow.

5.  Tornados.  Uncle M has been obsessed with the weather channel.  He watches it constantly.  To the point that last night I told him to go downstairs and watch it because I am sick to death of listening to it all.  Hopefully when tornado season is over he won't be as interested in it.  Hopefully. 

6.  Mothers day gift.  I am taking the girls and Z-man to a photography shoot this Sunday afternoon.   I hope to get some photos of them that are classic, and I want to give them to my mom for Mothers Day.  I know.  I should have thought of this like two months ago.  But I didn't.  So now I'm scrambling to find something suitable for Z-man to wear (he likes loud shirts with lightening, dragons, etc. but I want him in a pastel color and khakis).  The girls will wear their Easter Dresses - so that is easy.  I have to find something for Uncle M and I to wear too - as I wanted some of these photos for us for our family photos.  The race is on!   Why do I do this to myself!!

7.  ASD results.  A few days ago a woman called me from the ASD testing center and said that the Vampire's results are in, and could I come in on the 3rd of June to meet with the tester.  My heart sank.  The 3rd of June?  Wow.  So I spoke up, "I'm sorry, but that is so far away, I was under the impression that I would have the results in 3-4 weeks, and this Friday will have been two weeks since the testing."  The operator put me on hold for a few moments, then came back on the line, "Mam - we can get you at 4p on Tuesday the 3rd of May."  YES!!   I nearly stood up at my desk and did a happy dance.  I restrained myself however, then said calmly, "that is perfect.  I will be there on 5/3/11 at 4:00p.  Thank you very much."  So next Tuesday.  I am excited.  I am giddy.  I am nervous.  So much rides on this one way or the other.  Part of me hopes there will be a spectrum disorder found so that I can start getting her the help she so clearly needs.  The other part of me hopes that she is deemed a normal 3.75 year old child.  So I will keep you informed on what next Tuesday brings.

Thanks for reading!  I'm sorry it's so discombobulated, and promise when this nasty crud in my head goes away I will do 100% better!  Have a lovely day!!

Aunt TT

Friday, April 22, 2011

Breaking the Biting

I woke up around 5:00a in tears.  I had dreamt that my sister had taken the girls from me, and there was nothing I could do to get them back.  In my dream - she came to my parents house, and we were sitting on our old wooden twin beds that could be made into bunk beds, and arguing.  Keep in mind these beds are long gone, and I think we were 4 and 6 last time we slept in our twin beds, in the same room like they were set up in my dream.  I sat directly across from her and I kept telling her that she was not doing the right thing for her children, as taking the Vampire from me would be devastating...  I was the mother she knew.  She kept telling me that I screwed the Vampire up by taking her from her real mother, and blaming the biting on me.  She insisted that I would never see the girls again, and that this entire fiasco was my fault to begin with.  The entire time I wanted to pop her upside the head with a pillow and tell her that she would give me the girls back - but even in dream world - I had restraint.

My heart ached.  The girls stayed the night with Mamaw because it is Good Friday - and they're both out of school.  I couldn't go into the bedroom and see them sleeping in their beds and re-assure myself that it was just a stupid dream, and they are safe.  I checked my cell phone, and didn't have any calls from my mom, and I know that if there was an issue, she would call me.  So I tried to rationalize that, and calm myself down.  I eventually fell back asleep - but the dream has lingered with me all day.

If I am so good for these children, why can't I break the Vampire's biting?  It has become increasingly worse.  The daycare director told me that she will need to have another care conference about it because the Vampire has been so out of control.  She told me it's not just the biting, but the other aggressive behavior, yelling, hitting, kicking, pinching, spitting.  I'm at a loss.  She did so well for so long.  She was at 3-4 bites a week which was an improvement.  This last week she had to have bit 8-10 times.  Very disheartening.  I've been doing everything I can for her.  Uncle M has been working hard with her!  What are we missing....

The first thing the ASD tester said to me after meeting the Vampire was "is she in speech therapy?"  My answer, "she is in social behavior therapy with a speech therapist".  ASD tester, "she really needs speech therapy.  really."  Me, "OK - I will push for that."  So I call the parent mentor for our IEP program, and leave her a message.  This was all on 4/15.  On Tuesday 4/19, the mentor gets back with me.  I told her that our behavior therapist has diagnosed the Vampire with PTSD, and would like for me to get her into the IEP so she can begin receiving the therapy she deserves.  The mentor says, "she is mis-informed.  a diagnosis of PTSD will not qualify her for an IEP.  Have you tried Head Start?"  Yes.  I tried Head Start.  I was assured that she would get a place in Jan/Feb....  they never got back with me.  Yes - I let it go.  She was accepted to her current daycare, and I thought that would be better for her.  The mentor told me "if you would like her re-tested, you can request that, but you must know - they can turn down your request."  Nice.  I have a child.  I am fighting to get her the help she needs before patterns are developed that could possibly cause her trouble for the rest of her life.  And they can turn me down?  No wonder so many kids fall through the cracks...

Better get off my soapbox before I really get on a roll with this rant.  After the holiday I will be contacting Head Start.  Maybe if she goes 1/2 day to Head start and 1/2 day to the other daycare it will be best for her.  Maybe if she spends less time at one center during the day - the likelihood of her biting will decrease and she will some day forget about that impulse entirely.  I told Uncle M that we need to start focusing on the positives hardcore - to the point that we merely tell them that we are disappointed about the negatives, then praise whatever they did that was good.  We have been having her say sentences (10x per bite) as a "punishment".  I will not bite at school.  Over and over.  It's good practice for her as well as she struggles with the word "school", and we're trying to help her with her speech, but maybe we are focusing on the negatives too much.  I will be looking on the internet this weekend for videos that will help a child her age with speech progression.  They have videos for everything else.  Uncle M joked that we need to get her the Rosetta Stone system for the English language.  I am just at a point where I realize that no one else will help her more than Uncle M and I.  As a friend of mine put it, we have to "advocate" for her.  It is frustrating that people are so ready to give up on children.  If I knew exactly how to help her I would, but I don't, and the people I am asking for help - aren't always willing to help.  It's so sad to me! 

Drama Queen has been acting out a lot lately too.  She doesn't want to listen to the teacher or do her homework.  I am going to write the teacher a note, asking her to call me because I think DQ is getting bored in school.  She knows all her kindergarten sight words.  She is reading at a 1st grade level.  Her math skills are excellent.  I want to see if Mrs B. can either challenge her a little more or put her in a program where she will be challenged more.  She told me that she didn't like school cause all they did was the same old thing.  I don't want to see her lose interest in school.  To me a good education is priceless.  There is only a little over a month of school left for her.  I don't want her to think that going back to 1st grade is going to be "the pits". 

Uncle M and I are toying with the idea of taking the Vampire off of gluten to see if this can curb her negative behavior.  I'm also looking into doing more with fresh foods in our diets.  Things like buying a portion of a cow that is local, and we know the farmer doesn't do anything to enhance the growth of the cow un-naturally.  The more educated I am about all of this, the less I really want to keep feeding my kids this junk.  Have you heard/read about the Happy Meal that never decomposed?  GROSS!  I will keep you posted how far this goes as it will require LOTS of preparation on Uncle M and my part - but if it's best for the Vampire - then we just have to try it.  I hear there are a lot of links between gluten intolerance and autism or autistic behaviors.  

The greenhouse continues to look great!  Our corn in the first row is knee high.  I am very excited about this.   Little Bit (or Little Girl - the kitten) provides Uncle M with hours of amusement now as she plays fetch.  He calls her a Calico Retriever.  He will toss her little toy mouse and she will scurry after it - then drop it at his side.  Rinse.  Repeat.  It's pretty cute.  He showed DQ that she plays fetch, and DQ will sit and play that with her.  She is still fairly gentle with the girls, and I am glad we have such a mellow cat, but I can't believe I have a cat that plays fetch better than my Labrador Retriever!  It is priceless! 

I hope that you all have a wonderful holiday weekend!  I am looking forward to seeing my family, and watching the girls faces light up when they see what the Easter Bunny brings them! 

Aunt TT

Monday, April 18, 2011

I finished my first 5k!

Wednesday, the therapist suggested that we begin to give the vampire Melatonin to help her sleep. For those of you who don't know me well, I don't like to use medicine to solve problems. Mom had suggested that we use it weeks ago, and had even given us a bottle of it, but I still held out. But Uncle M and the therapist are right, if she isn't sleeping well, or as long as she should, she will struggle during simple daily routines. I finally caved. She fell asleep, and slept fairly well the first night. I have noticed she has been more clingy, but that started before the Melatonin. Uncle M and I decided to give it to her only on week nights, or weekends where she has to be up early. I will keep you updated on this, but so far, so good.  I might be a believer in the supplement, Melatonin.

Drama Queen has started to tell me that I don't "love her as much as I do the Vampire" or that I don't "care about her".  I know these are just manipulations.  But it still hurts.  Everything I do is for this child and her sister.  My life revolves around both of them.  My responses have ranged from "how could you feel that way?" to "you will believe what you want, but I will always love you." to "you are my life - how could I not love my life?"  She has wanted Uncle M more often than she has wanted me - which is a total reversal from before.  But I can't let my feelings be hurt by it.  I love her deeply, and I know she loves me.  She is just struggling lately.

My mom had Z-man's birthday this weekend.  The kids had a blast!  I was a little nervous the entire time because of the mix of people there.  You see one of my cousins was there, and he has had a history of drug abuse.  He is the cousin my sister has recently asked my mom for the number of - a leopard never changes their spots.  There was a teacher there that had been a teacher for the Vampire when she was kicked out of her first daycare - Z-man's biological father had her there as a guest.  She is a very nice person, and I went to school with her, it is just awkward being at a family function with someone who was part of a not so bright spot in the past.  I just kept smiling, and was very polite to everyone, and kept enjoying watching the kids have so much fun.

I ran my first 5K this weekend.  Well I didn't run.  I jogged and mostly walked.  It took me 49.10 minutes.  I had hoped to do it in about 45, but I chose not to beat myself up over this.  I finished the race and that was most important to me for this time around.  I also burned about 400 calories.  *beams*  I am sore today.  My legs, hips and back are letting me know that they protest to such barbaric torture.  Guess what legs and hips...  we're doing it again tonight.  Well maybe not an entire 3.1 miles - but we will be doing at least two.  I learned a lot from this run, and hope to do a couple more over the rest of spring, and summer.  My good friend stayed by my side for the entire run, and I was so thankful for her presence.  My aunt and cousin were also there (and finished way before me) but stayed to cheer me on through the finish line.  I am so blessed to be surrounded by such amazing people.

Uncle M and I worked in the greenhouse and yard this weekend.  We filled in the garden area with fresh top soil, planted new seedlings, transplanted the flowers (I'm not sure what they are, but think they're tulips), and just stood back and marveled at our hard work.  It is really looking nice.  I still need to figure out how I am going to pollinate the greenhouse.  I'm still toying with the idea of buying bees... it would be nice to make our own honey AND pollinate the greenhouse, but I'm still weighing the risk of the girls being stung against that how nice our own honey would be. DQ is terrified of bees, and Vampire mimics her every move.  I have to pollinate all those little flowers somehow.

Here are pics of the greenhouse right now:

Baata is mostly tolerable of the Little Girl (AKA Little Bit and Sophie).  Uncle M snapped this photo of them on the couch.

Aunt TT

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Finding the words

So this is the week of my first 5K.  One of my good friends will be jogging with me, as will my aunt, cousin, and some of my aunt's friends.  I am nervous - I haven't trained as hard as I should in the past two weeks.  My knees have been hurting a little bit, but I am excited.  There is a carnival after the run - and we will end up buying the girls some tickets and letting them ride rides, etc.  I saw in the weather that it is supposed to R A I N this weekend.  I am hoping it will hold off until AFTER the 5K at 9:00 am. 

Drama Queen has been a super grump lately.  I don't know if it is because she knows her mom is back in town or not.  She won't talk to me.  I have to pry out of her the smallest of details.  When I pick her up from school here is our typical conversation. 

TT: "did you have a good day?"
JJ: "uh huh"
TT: "did you stay on green"
JJ: "nope"
TT: "how's come?"
JJ: *shoulder shrug*
TT: "what happened Miss J"
JJ: "I don't know - I guess cause I didn't listen to Mrs. B."
TT: "why did you think it is OK not to listen to your teacher?"
JJ: *shoulder shrug*
TT: "well I hope that you will listen to her tomorrow - she has a tough job, and you make it even harder when you don't listen."
JJ: "ok"
TT: "what did you have for lunch today"
JJ: "i don't remember"
TT: "was it cold mush?"
JJ: *shrug*
TT: "was it fried toadstools with chocolate covered mosquitos?"
JJ: "NO TT."
TT: "was it pizza?"
JJ: "no"
TT: "was it warm mush?"
JJ: eyes roll and "no"
TT: "was it chicken nuggets?"
JJ: "yeah."
TT: "what did you eat with the nuggets?"
JJ: "I dunno."
I continue to question until I get something for I don't know... 10 minutes... and she finally breaks down and says
JJ: "I was the busy bee today!"
TT: "that's wonderful!  What special things did you get to do as the busy bee?"
JJ: *shrug* "you will have to guess TT."

And the guessing game again ensues.  It's like pulling teeth to have a normal conversation to see what kind of day this kid had.  *sigh*  So she's not the type of kid who will walk up to you and say "I'm missing my mommy right now."  She is they type of kid who will yell, scream, rant, and rave, and you will have to guess, "Miss J - are you doing all of this because you miss your bio mom?"  This morning when she was grouching at me about her shoes, I just hugged her and hugged her and hugged her - then said, "there!  Did that help?".  She smiled a little and shook her head yes. 

The Vampire has been biting an average of 3 -4 times a week.  She will have a "ridiculously perfect" day - then she will have a totally terrible day.  There isn't much gray area.  She has been whiny too, and needing to be snuggled a lot lately.  I don't know if this is also aftermath of knowing that bio mom is in town - or just a phase she is going through.  The only way I could get her to lay still to sleep last night was to wrap her in my arms and snuggle her.  She still wakes me up in the night - needing to be held.  I still wrap my arms around her and hold her.  She is favoring me over Uncle M lately.  I guess she has just needed that mothering.  I don't know what the difference is.  He has had to be the "bad guy" lately, though and has been doing the bulk of the work on the rewards chart with her.  She is still peeing in her pants.  We are still fighting that battle with her.

The greenhouse is doing well.  Uncle M gets excited when he sees a new sprout, and loves to run and tell me all about it.  I hope to find some time this week to get some more soil for our flower box up near the house and get that planted soon.  We have chamomile, tomatoes, poppies, hollyhock, thyme, chives, and other plants that I would like to get planted soon.  We have extra sprouts, if anyone local needs any.  Just shoot me an e-mail.  I will get them to you.  I have to re-start the cucumbers - they aren't doing so well for some reason. 

There is so much to do with dance season heating up, ASD testing (this friday), 15 year class reunion planning, weight loss/5K training, etc.  So forgive me if I get lost a little over the next few weeks - or if my thoughts aren't as cohesive as they should be.  Thanks again for all of your support and advice.  It is so nice to have such a wonderful support circle!!

Aunt TT

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Night We Told You

We had so much to tell you.
So much to tell you, you see.
We had so much to tell you.
I could not let it be.

Uncle M and I talked with Susan.
We told her all our fears.
And after our talk with Susan.
She agreed it was best to tell you dears.

I told her that I couldn't lie to you.
She smiled and nodded her head.
I told her that I couldn't lose you.
She said told us not to dread.

Susan guided us in what to say.
We are so grateful that she was here.
She helped us on this dreadful day
When we told you that your mom is near.

Neither of you understood at first,
When we told you she was here.
Your little minds were zooming fast.
Neither of you showed a hint of fear.

There was no crying.
There was no screaming.
There was no lying.
There was no scheming.

We told you that we keep you safe.
We told you that we love you so.
And through this my heart didn't break.
And you didn't say you wanted to go.

Oh you asked to see her soon.
Susan said that would have to wait.
I didn't cry - you didn't swoon.
We let you know there is no hate.

We want to make sure she won't hurt you
You mean so much to us.
We want to make sure she won't lie to you.
Because with us - you have trust.

Susan told you that she can't pick you up from school.
She's not to see you without permission of Uncle M or I.
You understood that this was cool.
I felt a great weight lift off my heart and fly.

The drama I assumed that would ensue
Didn't occur - things seem fine. 
You both smiled, giggled, and seemed cool.
No one felt the need to whine.

So now you know. 
She is back.
And our life can go
right on track.

Aunt TT

Monday, April 4, 2011

Winds of Change

I spent a great deal of this weekend laughing and giggling with two little girls.  It was amazing.  I didn't feel so well, but I was still able to look at those two little girls with love, and make them smile.  We stayed home, as we had work to do at home, but we just tickled and giggled whenever we could.  It's like something inside me clicked.  I have to do more for these kids than just provide a roof over their heads, food for their bellies, the opportunity to learn, and tell them I love them.  I also have to SHOW them I love them.  I have to listen to what they are saying.  No matter how busy and fast life is spinning around in my head, I have to pause that and actually listen to what they are telling me.  Let me rephrase that... I WANT to listen to what they have to say.  I want to see their faces shine when they know how very proud of them I am.  Maybe this is the magic key to solve the mystery of their acting out.

The Vampire urinated herself three times yesterday.  She just didn't want to stop doing what she was doing and go sit on the potty.  Uncle M said he is going to make her sit on the potty every 1/2 hour until she can stop peeing herself.  I think this might be a lil drastic, and am going to try to talk him into every hour.  She knows better, and just can't seem to stop.  She tried to bite the Drama Queen over the weekend, and didn't connect, but she still had to sit and spend time in time out for the incident.  Granted, the Drama Queen grabbed the hood of the Vampire's coat to stop her from swinging on the swing set, and hurt the Vampire, so I can see why she lashed out.  I am hoping with continued time and effort on our part, and the daycare's part we can just stop the biting once and for all.  Our two hour visit with the testing center is in a little less than two weeks, I will keep you updated on the results, etc.  The therapist is diagnosing her with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and is telling me she will qualify for an IEP with that, and they will have to provide her with speech therapy.  This is wonderful news as she needs it, her insurance carrier cut her current speech therapy in half, and her current speech therapist is concentrating on social interactions, and less on actual speech therapy.  I will keep you posted on this.  

The Drama Queen had a melt down on me today about her hairbrush not being where it belonged.  She couldn't find it.  So she tried to blame the Vampire for it's disappearance, and she yelled at me some nonsense about how I told her to look in the kitchen and it was there so I must have moved it.  I told her I would never do something that cruel to her, and from now on she is only allowed to brush her hair in the bathroom, so her brush is never misplaced.  At this point she stops speaking to me and is just grunting when I try to talk to her.  She sounds like a mummy out of an old horror film, and I giggle every time she makes the noise.  This makes her even angrier, and she makes the mummy sound... I giggle again.  She cracks a smile but does her very best to hide it.  After I get done pulling her hair back out of her face I pull her on my lap and begin to tickle her and get her to giggle with me.  I tell her that we never know how much time we have together, and we might as well enjoy each other while we have each other.  I hold her close, fight back the tears, keep the smile on my face, then set her up to brush her teeth so we can scoot out the door. 

The Drama Queen called me mom 80% of the time over the weekend.  It's so natural now, that I don't jolt when I hear it, and I actually answer her without missing a beat 75% of the time I hear it.  I am reflecting on all of this, because my mom contacted me to let me know that my sister is in town.... for good.  So many things run through my mind when I think of this.  Will we bump into her at the grocery?  Mom said she is looking for a daycare, will she pick the one the Vampire is at by chance?  They are looking for jobs in the area now, so they are here for good.  They are not living in the same town as mom and dad or the girls, Uncle M, and I, but the town that is in between our places of residence.  How will I explain to the girls who that baby is if we see them out in public.  How will the girls handle seeing their mom after all this time?  Should I tell them she is in town right now, so that if they do see her, they never thought I lied to them?  I couldn't bear that if they thought I lied to them.  Will they want to go and be with her on a regular basis, and pull away from me now?  How will I handle it if they do want to be with her?  How will I react when I am surprised by seeing her out in public, and have less time to suppress the tornado of emotions brewing inside me?  How soon will it be before she begins demanding to see her kids on a regular basis.  What will that do to the dynamics of the little family I have worked so hard on for nearly two years.  Will she begin paying child support - and ruin my chances of adopting these kids.  So many questions.  No one to provide the answers.  Just time. 

I dealt with a bout of depression the last two weeks.  I didn't train for my 5k at all last week.  I am starting again today at week 4 in the training program.  I also packed my lunch/breakfast, and intend to eat healthier again.  I can't let my sister's actions sabotage my health and well being.  My friend and I registered for the 5k on Saturday.  I am registered for a 5K.  Me.  WOW.  I'll keep you posted on how that goes.  

I wonder how different my life with Uncle M would have been had none of this happened.  I wonder if we would be married by now, and starting a family of our own, as one of the reasons none of that has happened are the expenses we foot daily in raising these precious girls.  Please don't think I am being silly at letting this stop us from moving forward in our own life.  I honestly could not afford another child.  Daycare expenses for 2-3 children would bankrupt me.  So I have to suppress the anger I have toward my sister.  For her reckless abandon to produce kids then bail on them, because in my mind - it prevented me from having my own.  But I know that isn't entirely true.  It's a conscious decision I made because of my situation.  So my anger subsides a little.  I will try to keep you posted on what happens with her back in town.  It does my heart good to get all of this out in the open instead of holding onto these feelings.  The kids always come first, but I still have feelings, and still need to deal with them.  So thanks for reading, and being my sounding board.  The changes are set in motion - they are out of my control.  Now all I can do is make the best decisions in the situations I am in. 

Aunt TT