Monday, December 3, 2012

I want to see her.

Last night on the way home from mom and dad's house, DQ and I had a serious conversation.  Earlier in the year, my mom, dad, and Z-man went to AR to visit my sister.  Z-man, being only nine years old has slipped up on occasion and told DQ about being in AR, seeing their biological mom, and meeting their half brother. 

The cat is completely out of the bag.

I assume that either being around her brother a lot this weekend, or maybe her brother has slipped up and mentioned that my sister will be in town around Christmas.  I am not sure what has happened exactly.  At any rate, I have a huge decision to make.  Here is how DQ and my conversation went last night.

DQ:  "I miss Z-man".
Me:  "You spent a lot of time with him this weekend."
DQ:  "I know.  But I miss him."
Me:  "I know.  He might be coming to stay the night this weekend, depending on his behavior.
DQ:  "I miss my biological mom too (she calls her by her first name)."
Me:  "Me too."
DQ:  "She is your sister."
Me:  "Yes. But I don't miss the bad times."
DQ:  "Like when one of her boyfriends bruised my bottom spanking me?"
Me:  "Yes.  That made me very angry.  I don't miss that stuff happening."
DQ:  "She is my mommy."
Me:  Heart breaking a tiny bit.  "Yes, she gave birth to you.  She is your biological mom."
DQ:  "Z-man got to see her."
Me:  "Yes.  Mamaw and Papaw thought he was ready."
DQ:  "They went to visit her.  Why can't we go visit her?"
Me:  "She lives pretty far away.  It is a 10-12 hour drive.  I don't get much vacation time from work, and what I do get is dedicated to your competition dance schedule.  So that makes it hard to find time to go see her. Are you unhappy that our vacation time is dedicated to your dancing?"
DQ:  "No.  I love to dance.  I want to dance.  What if she comes here?  Can I see her then?"
Me:  "There are a lot of things we need to talk about to make that happen.  I need to make sure you are ready.  I need to make sure you can handle it."
DQ:  "Why?  What is there to handle?"
Me:  "You could be a little angry, hurt, or sad about some decisions she has made, it could be a very emotional time, for both of us."
DQ:  "I'm not angry or hurt."  Seven year (almost Eight year) old wisdom.
Me:  "OK.  And you will need to understand that we have no way of knowing when she will be back in the area.  So we have no way of knowing when we would see her again.  You can't let that make you angry or sad.  It is just how it is, we have no control over it."

Me:  "DQ?  Can I ask you a question?"
DQ:  "Yup."
Me:  "If you had to chose to live somewhere else, would you want to live away from me?"
DQ:  "No.  I am happy with you.  It would be nice to see her, though."
Me:  "I understand, I just want you to know that you are safe with me.  I will protect you from everything I can that could hurt you.  I love you.
DQ:  "I know mom."

So I feel like I must make a decision.  I can't put myself in a position where she resents me because I keep her from my sister.  I know my sister is supposed to be in town around Christmas, and I know that someone may slip and tell her.  I may have to break down and let them see each other.  It would be in a controlled environment.  So everyone would be safe.  There could be an emotional fall out.  But if I have presented her with all the issues, and she feels she is ready for this, then there is nothing I can do to stop it.  I can't bear for her to be angry with me after the fact. 

I am a little resentful that my parents have opened this door.  I would be lying if I said I weren't.  But I am wise enough to know that they won't be here forever and there is no sense in holding a grudge against them.  They were doing what they thought was best for Z-man and themselves.  I can't fault them for that.  I just need to deal with this loss of control of the situation and move on.  It is what it is. 

I am not ready to see her.  I love her.  I miss the good in her.  But I am not ready.  I think it is because there is a fear deep inside me that she would take these kids away some day.  I love them so much, they have become my reason to live.  I don't know what I would do without them.  V is difficult and trying, but I just don't know what I would do if I couldn't see her sweet face every day.  DQ is so smart, and talented with her dancing.  I don't know what I would do if I couldn't watch her succeed and beam with pride anymore.  I hope that is a bridge I never have to cross.  But I have to separate my feelings from what is best for the girls.  I have to think about what could be gained... or lost from DQ being able to see her mom.  I can't let my selfish fears and wants cloud my judgement when it comes to deciding what is best for these two little girls. 

Basically I am concerned that if I keep them apart, it will make DQ want her biological mom all the more.  I see no immediate harm in letting them see each other, there might be some fall out, but if I prepare DQ, and handle everything correctly.... it should be OK.

The harsh truth is that I didn't give birth to these girls.  They have a bond with their birth mother, that I will never be able to replace.  DQ especially loves her regardless of all the bad.  Love is blind.  We have all experienced the blindness of love at one point in our lives or another.  It is just part of life.  They love me too.  It is possible for them to love both of us.  I just need to remind myself of this now and then. 

I'm just going to keep blogging it all out.  It is why I created this blog to begin with.  An outlet for me.  A way to handle the emotional roller coaster that is raising children I didn't give birth to.    A way to get feedback from others in similar situations, or from people who just want to voice their opinion about what I am doing in raising these sweet girls.  This is also a living record for these sweet girls to read when they are older.  So they can understand why I made these hard decisions I've had to make.  It all boils down to love.  Maybe that old saying is true.  Love does make the world go round. 

Aunt TT

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Being a Mom

There are a lot of difficult jobs in the world.  I can think of none more stressful and difficult than being a mom.  You have such a great responsibility on your shoulders.  You must teach these little people how to be good, productive members of society, while keeping a house clean, holding a job, and (or) still being a daughter, sister, friend.  Moms amaze me. 

Here is an update on the lives of DQ, V, M and I.

V is doing fairly well at the day therapy school.  She is still trying to struggle for control in every situation possible.  When put in time out, she will do anything to get your attention (and according to the program she is in - we must ignore her).  She will kick the wall, scratch at her face, yell nonsense words, say mean things, etc.  We just keep standing our ground, ignoring these negative behaviors (as long as she stays on the time out wall - if not, quietly redirecting her back to it), and hoping that this will turn her around.  Her brother has had a very bad week at school, and I would like to keep V from ever struggling like he does when she is his age.

DQ had her first competition performance last weekend.  I was so proud of her.  It was SO cold outside (lower 30's) and she hardly complained about walking around in the cold.  She danced her little heart out.  I sat on the float with V and beamed with pride.  My sweet girls.  DQ's jazz song this year for competition is "Itsy Bitsy Teensy Weensy Yellow Polka Dot Bikini", her ballet song is "True Colors", and I have been told her tap song, but I can't remember it.  Horrible huh?

M and I have been working on buying Christmas gifts for the girls.  DQ really wants a tablet, and as nervous as it makes me - we got her one.  It will have password protection for the internet, and an application installed where we can track her every movement while she is on it.  She says she wants to be able to read books on it, but I know her main motivation...  games. 

V wants a Cuddleuppet, a Dream Lights, and more Leapster Explorer games.  So we are shopping for those items. 

I need to get their videos from Santa made soon on the PNP (Portable North Pole), they love getting their video from Santa every year!

I have been so busy with fundraising for Dance.  I plan on not offering any fundraisers in the month of December to allow for a bit of a break.  It is such a hectic time to try and sell anything.  In January however we will be raffling off tickets to a high class local dinner theater, and I am excited to get that one started. 

I hope everyone had a fabulous Thanksgiving holiday!  We were able to spend time with nearly all of our families and that was fantastic!  I hope the same for you!!

Aunt TT

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Day Therapy school and Car Crashes

Where do I begin?  There is so much to tell you.  Let's take this blog chronological style.

10/19: V starts the Day Therapy School.  She likes everyone there, but when pushed to follow rules, and listen to the adults, she turns on her stubborn streak and begins acting aggressively, etc.  She is the only little girl out of 16 children, and she doesn't like that very well.  I take this as a sign that little boys act out more often than little girls?

10/20:  We don our zombie costumes and head to a local costume contest.  V was a girl scout zombie, DQ was a cheerleader zombie, M was a groom zombie, and I was a bride zombie (which was very popular by the way...)  We walk around in the chilly 45/50 degree weather, and get many compliments on a job well done.  M had taken some film footage of the costumes before we had left the house (thankfully). 

We learned that the contest wasn't till later in the evening, and by now, it was 5:30.  So we decided to leave.  We all piled in my 98 Ford Explorer, and headed for home.  On the way home, a lady ran a red light and hit me in the passenger side of my vehicle.  I was terrified.  My children were in the car.  But somehow I could tell that they weren't hurt, just scared.  V was crying for me to get her out (it hit on her side), and DQ was stunned.  I shoved all my fear deep down and climbed out to comfort my girls, and make sure they were OK. 

Now this was an awful thing.  I'm so sad it happened.  But imagine hitting a vehicle with children in it, and seeing blood all over the inhabitants of the vehicle's faces...  Yes, that is what the young woman driving the car saw.  She was so afraid she had hurt my children, and I kept explaining that it was fake blood, and we were on the way home from a costume contest.  I felt really bad for her.  So bad in fact that I never wanted to put my costume on again (even though I made it all, from scratch, by myself, and it took me HOURS).  At least M got the footage for a video right?!?!

Middletown Zombie Attack

10/22-10/26:  I was wrapping up the first fundraiser of the season for the dance studio.  Did I mention that I stepped up to be a fundraiser booster parent?  We sold McDonalds peelers, and I was trying to get all the parents who took peelers to make sure they turned them in.  On top of all of this, I was working with the insurance company and the body shop at the dealership I work for to get me an estimate to repair my vehicle.  They decided the vehicle would cost more than it was worth to fix, and totaled it out.  I had brand new tires on it too. 

M and I started internet shopping for a new vehicle, because the car lot I work for didn't have exactly what I wanted.  We found a private individual who was selling a very nice 2003 Ford Explorer, and began talking with him about purchasing it off of him.  We drove down Friday and looked at it, and decided it was what we wanted, but he didn't have the title, so we told him we would have to wait until next week when he received the duplicate he applied for.

During this time, V is still testing the employees at the Day Therapy Center.  She is playing all her cards trying to gain the upper hand on these trained professionals.  She urinates on herself daily in protest of what they have asked of her.  But they continue to focus on and reward the positive, while sending her to time out, and re-directing the negative.  M and I begin to see small changes in V.  She is saying, "Yes Mommy" and "Yes Daddy" 4 out of 10 times when asked to do something like put her shoes on, or go to bed!  She is not as responsive when it is something she doesn't want to do, but it is a start!   We are thrilled with this small change.

10/27-10/29:  Finish wrapping up peelers fundraiser, and begin working hardcore on the next fundraiser, Child Care.  Yes we are offering Holiday Child Care on 4 days in the next two months.  Drop your little ones off for up to 5 hours, and go do your holiday shopping.  We are also doing gift wrapping!   Have your shopping done?  Just want an evening out?   Bring your kids by!!  If you are one of my FB friends, check my timeline, I have the flyer posted!!!  This is all in an effort to raise money for the competition team to go to nationals this year.

10/30:  We take the girls and their brother Trick-Or-Treating in Mamaw and Papaw's neighborhood.  This is tradition.  We have done this even before my sister left.  I would walk around with them even before they became... mine.  Halloween was always a fun time for us.  I noticed this evening just how much the girls brother, Z-man has progressed and matured.  Three years ago it was very difficult to walk him around.  He would pout, be obstinate, yell at us, refuse to listen.  This time however, he encouraged the girls to stay close to us, listened when we asked him to do things, etc.  He was a joy to be around.  I was so proud of him.  So proud of my parents for helping him come this far.

Z-man, DQ, and V - Halloween 2012

10/31:  We meet with the wonderful gentleman who was selling the '03 Explorer, and make the trade, check for title.  We bring it back to town, and I take delivery of it from my dealership.  I have another good, sound vehicle!!   I turn in the mini van rental I had been driving.  I think the girls were a little sad to see it go.  They loved playing with the doors that opened by push of the button.

11/1:  DQ was up sick a good portion of the night.  No fever, but vomiting.  M stayed up with her, as I was so exhausted.  He stayed home with her today too.  He is so amazing. 

We had parent teacher conferences for DQ in the evening.  The teacher bragged about how intelligent DQ is, and about how close she is to knowing ALL of her 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th AND 5th grade sight words.  She said this is very rare for a 2nd grader to be able to read most of her 5th grade sight words (40/50), and she is very happy with her progress, and will keep pushing her to achieve more.  She promised us that if DQ masters her 5th grade words, she will find a 6th grade list (do they have sight words in 6th grade...) and have her begin working on that.  She said DQ does talk a lot, but they are working on it together, and she is confident that she will get it under control.  We are so proud of her!

We also recieved school photos.  It was uncanny to me how very much V and DQ look like their bio mom and I when we were children.  Memories of our childhood came rushing back to me, and for a few moments, it was difficult to concentrate on what DQ's teacher was saying.  I kept staring at those little faces.  One that looked so much like mine... and the other that looked so much like my sister.  Part of me wanted to call my sister up and tell her all about how proud she would be of DQ and her good report card, and of V's progress in this day therapy school.  Maybe one day I can just show her this blog, like I will the children.  Here are the photos I posted to FB... to show you the similarities. 

My sister and I twenty-six years ago

DQ and V's 2012 school photos

So that should bring you up to speed on what has been going on.  I will keep you updated on V's progress at this Day Therapy Program!

Aunt TT

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

School Supports

I'm still riding this emotional roller coaster.  Still wresting with what is best to help V.  We had a meeting with the school last Wednesday.  They have what they call an Intervention in place.  They are trying to help her behave better.  Some days she has a "shadow", some days she doesn't.  The days she doesn't are bad.  Last Thursday she didn't have a shadow, and she bit the teacher 6 times... amongst other things.  Friday she climbed up on a table and kicked the teacher in the neck.  She wanted to wear boots to school today and I told her she will not wear them to school as long as she thinks it is acceptable to kick people, and I made her put them back in the closet.

The girls therapist was at the meeting at the school.  She helped us out greatly with everything.  She learned that it has taken them this long to help V because there were other more severe cases that they had to deal with.  She also learned that V's teacher was a permanent sub that was pulled into this classroom because they had so many Kindergarteners they needed to open another classroom for them.  So we assume she doesn't have all the training needed to handle V.  She has been very inconsistent, and I mentioned in the meeting that I would appreciate more communication on her part.  V will not hesitate to lie to us and say she had a good day when in fact she didn't.  We celebrate good days.  So I am sure you can see how horribly that can go wrong.

After this meeting the therapist said she thought we should hold out on the day therapy program, still go through with the testing, but hold out on actually implementing everything, and give this intervention a chance.  Before she had told us that she feels that everything we have done has been a band-aid.  She felt that we needed to go through with this day therapy program.  After the meeting she felt that the school was putting some good supports in place and we needed to give them a chance.

Thursday last week we went to the day therapy program for testing.  I took V to school, then headed into work after the testing.  I am exhausted.  I am so consumed by helping her that there isn't a 5 minute time frame that goes by that I am not thinking about it. Thursday evening around 7:30 my cell phone rings.  I pick it up and it is the owner of the day therapy program.  She lets me know that the psych who did the evaluation on her feels that V's behaviors warrant her being admitted into the program, and they want to start her next Friday (10/19).

I am hesitant.  She asks me why.  I ask her about transitioning back into school once she "graduates" from the program.  She assures me that they have a great many supports in place to help V transition easily into school and explains them all.  She lets me know that they have bumped V up on the waiting list in front of a few other families due to the severity of her aggression (remember this is the day she bit her teacher 6 times).

I make the decision... against the school and therapist's wishes... to enroll her into this program.  She starts in a few days.  I am so nervous.  I hope I am doing the right thing for her.  I have made this decision because all the interventions put in place at all the day cares didn't work.  The only thing that worked was having someone shadow her and be her conscience, and the school made it clear that they don't like having to do that, and will use it only as a last resort.  So the one thing I know works best for her will not be used.

In the last week I have had two calls from the principal.  I have had to go to the school once because she urinated on herself in the time out room, and I needed to bring her a change of clothes.  It is very disruptive to my being able to work and generate an income.  My job as a mom comes first, but I still have to pay the bills...

In the last month, I have had to deal with V at work with me for 3 days because she was suspended from school.  I have had 4-5 calls from the principal.  Calls from the therapist.  Countless frustrations trying to communicate with the teacher.  I just don't know if this intervention will work for her.  I know how stubborn she is.  I know how hard she can be to redirect.  So I am going with my gut and hoping I am doing the best thing for her.

She starts the day therapy program on Friday.

DQ is doing so well with her dancing.  She is intelligent and doing well at school too, but she still talks too much.  There is something called the "special table" in her classroom, and she burst out in tears today because she hasn't been chosen to sit there yet.  I asked her why, and she said she didn't know.  I am willing to wager it is because she is disruptive with her talking, and I advised her to talk to her teacher, let her know that she really wants to earn sitting at the special table, but doesn't know what to do to earn it.  She said that two boys who had all ready had a turn at the table got to sit there yesterday, and she hasn't been able to once.  It made me sad for her, but she has got to get the talking out of turn under control, maybe this will be the incentive she needs.

Halloween costume contest time is coming up soon.  I have been working so hard on our costumes.  I wish I could say they are nearly done, but I still have so much to do.  I wanted to sew last night but the girls were fighting, and the house needed cleaning.  So I spent time with them and cleaned the house at the same time, then spent some time at the machine after they were in bed.  I am making Spats (boot covers) in black with white pinstripe to complete my Victorian costume.  I hope to finish them tonight, then begin working on my undershirt that will go under the corset.  So much to do so little time!

I am also heading up fundraising for the dance company.  We are selling McDonalds peelers right now, and will be doing Hot Head peelers soon too.  I also have gift wrapping and babysitting planned in November/December, along with wreath/poinsettia sales in December.  Lots of exciting things planned.  It does take away a little time from the girls, but M helps me out a lot with everything.  I really hope to pay all the competition fees with fundraisers.  It is expensive enough paying the monthly dance class costs, let alone the competition fees, and the dance instructor wants to take the girls to nationals this year!  So we have to have some money for hotel rooms and everything else on top of the competition fees!  But DQ loves this.  She needs something to call her own.  So much of our lives are consumed by helping V behave better that sometimes I feel a bit sorry for DQ.  So this is her thing and I will do what it takes to provide it for her!

Speaking of M.  He is a fantastic salesman.  There is a business owner in the area that has always reminded me a bit of Ebenezer Scrooge.  He owns a business near the dance studio, and one evening after dance class M walked to the local businesses with the girls asking if they wanted to buy peelers.  Ebenezer Scrooge bought a peeler off of him!  Amazing huh?

Promised photos of the Color Run!  (SUCH FUN!)

DQ, V and I pre-race

DQ and V cheering on the runners

Me in my Color Glory!

A Colorful finish!   Digging the SuperMan undies!

I did it!   Happiest race on Earth - I plan on doing it again!

 Aunt TT

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Throwing Chairs Again

So V's school called me today... again.

It went a little something like this:

School: "Hello V's guardian?"
Me: "Yes?"
School: "I am so and so, in for the principal, she is out today.  I have V here in the principal's office."
Me: "yes?"
School: "She became angry today and began throwing chairs and crayons.  I know this happened before, and she just recently returned to us from time off for it.  What V?  (I hear her in the background).  Oh?  OK.  V wants you to know that she wasn't throwing crayons.  She only threw chairs.  She wants you to know that."
Me: "OK", thinking that's my girl....
School: "Mrs. W asked V to put her book up, and V became angry, it was a transition time."
Me: thinking finally... someone who understands and is willing to listen, and willing to see that my kid doesn't snap for no reason.  there is always a reason.
School: "So anyway, V is here, and I am not sure what to do."
Me: "I have been in communication with the school psych about V's issues, and am doing all in my power to help her.  Could you contact the school psych?"
School: "I don't know what her hours are, but I sure could try."
Me: "I know she is there on Monday and Wednesday."  Today is Wednesday... SCORE.
School: "Yes.  I will try to get a note to her.  Then I will get back with you.  Thank you for being such a big help!"  Yes.  She said that to me....  Honest to goodness.
Me: "You are welcome, and thank you.  Have a great day."

Seriously.  I am not kidding.  I gave them no window of "can you come get your unruly child".  Nothing.  She weighs 56 lbs.  How hard is it to sit her in the hallway and say, "You will not act like this in my classroom."  Remove her from the situation.  If there are no chairs around her.. SHE CAN'T THROW THEM.

Twenty minutes later....
RING RING (on my work line mind you....)
School: "Hi.  This is school psych.  We spoke last week"
Me: "Hi!"
School: "Mrs W. didn't get the e-mail I sent her.  Her e-mail wasn't functioning properly"
Me: thinking gee... she told me on Monday she had something on her desk from you.  I know you are a busy lady and split between schools, but I have been asking you for help for two weeks now.  I signed all the papers you needed..... as soon as you e-mailed them to me....
School: "Her e-mail is working fine now, and she has received the paperwork I sent to request the behavior specialist to come to the classroom.  In the interim while we get this set up, would you like to have a Care Plan meeting?"
Me: "yes.  I will do whatever it takes to help V be successful."
School: "OK Mrs. W's planning period is at 9:45.  I remember that you work.... so that would be difficult for you... Hmmmm."
Me: "I will work it out so I can be on lunch at 9:45am.  This is very important to me."
School: "Are you sure?  OK.  Then how about next Weds at 9:45a?"
Me: "I will be there."
School: "OK.  See you then."
Me: "Yes.  Thank you."


A care plan meeting.  And it only took a couple of thrown chairs... 

So when I got home from work, we had a talk with V.  I told her that from now on, I want her to count to 10 when she feels like she is getting angry.  I am going to drill this into her head.  I am going to make her count to 10 every time she seems like she is getting angry here at home.  I am going to tell Mrs. W. that I am drilling it into her head, and she has my explicit permission to continue encouraging it at school.  I am going to make counting to 10 when you're angry fun, and giggle and laugh and say, "See!   Don't you feel better now?" when she's done. 

I called the day therapy program today.  M and I decided it's time to enroll her.  I am excited and scared, and nervous all at the same time.  Just so much going on.  V is an amazing, funny, compassionate, and brilliant child.  I REFUSE to let her slip through the cracks.  If I have to start being mean and playing hard ball so be it.  I will not let us be bullied by these people.  I am done. 

DQ is doing AMAZING with her reading.  I am so very proud of her.  She was such a good girl today that M and I let her stay up an extra half an hour and watch her favorite show.  She just did so many things right, we couldn't let it go UN-rewarded.  DQ is also growing by leaps and bounds in her dancing.

I have volunteered to be the Booster Parent for the dance company.  I want to make sure we have plenty of fundraisers so I can afford competition dance.  If this is DQ's dream, I am going to make it reality.  I have a bunch of fundraisers planned, and I am putting them into motion as we speak.  I am really excited as well about them.  I can't wait to see how they do, and how things pan out.

I will be doing a Color Run on Saturday.  I am excited about this!  I may post photos... if I figure I don't look too unflattering in them....  LOL. 

P.S.  Promised photo of V's new earrings!  She's wearing the newsboy cap I made her too!!!  Sewing rocks.


Aunt TT

Monday, September 24, 2012


Today I spent a good deal of time on the phone.  I called the school psych and told her about V's suspension.  I emphasized how upset I was at seeing a police officer (albeit a good officer) being called in on a 5 year old.  Who calls the cops on a 5 year old.  My initial reaction was that it was over the top, but everyone at the school seemed to think it was acceptable... and all these other people I talked to seemed to think it was acceptable.  Maybe my thoughts were just because I love that little girl that much?!?

Then I talked to a very special young woman who is close to V.  She felt that they over-reacted.  She felt that a 5 year old never should have been let to do that much damage.  She felt that V was re-directable.  I trust her.  She cared for V for awhile.  She also validated my initial, gut reaction.  There is no sense in calling a police officer on a 5 year old.

I also called a local hospital today.  They are known for their psychiatric ward.  V and DQ's therapist recommended that I call to get a behavior screening done on V.  The very kind woman on the other end of the phone listened to my story.  She then gave me two numbers to two places a little closer to me that might be able to help.  I immediately disregarded the 2nd number and name because it was a place I had heard of before, and didn't hear very much good about it.  The first however stuck out in my mind.  I had never heard of it. 

So I called the first number, and spoke to the owner.  An incredible woman, whom I kept thinking that everyone couldn't help but love her upon meeting her.  She listened to V's story, then asked me some questions.  She then said that she would like to meet with me face to face, and said she was available after 5:00 today.  I told her I would be there as soon as I could (this place is about 15-20 minutes from my work - depending on interstate traffic). 

At 5:30 I pulled in the parking lot worried that I was late, and this woman may be upset with me.  She was understanding, and even offered me something to eat or drink. 

Yeah.  You read that right.  She offered me something to eat or drink.  She was genuine.  She listened, and asked questions about V.  She told me at one point that her past is in the past, and all she cares about now is her future.  She felt that V's behaviors will qualify her for the program.  I sat there in a state of near shock the entire time.  Never before have I been treated with as much sincerity and respect in regards to testing for V.  Heck it isn't every often that people believe me that a child under the age of 6 can have severe debilitating behavior problems, but this woman didn't blink an eye when I listed off V's worst behaviors.

I feel so enlightened.  There are some drawbacks (packing well rounded meals for breakfast and lunch and making sure she gets 8oz of milk at each meal as the facility doesn't provide food), but the hope of V being a happy...  well adjusted child?!?!  Is well worth any drawback.

Our insurance will cover this 100%.  The drive is a little out of our way... but again....  well adjusted, happy child.  That truly is the bottom line isn't it?

This is an all day therapy course.  She may be dropped off at 7 and picked up at 6, but must be there for 8 hours (we can drop off a little later, or pick up earlier depending upon our needs).  Once accepted by the therapist who screens her she will go here instead of school EVERY week day until they no longer see a need for her to be there, then she will return to public school.  I voiced my opinion about being concerned she will be behind in school.  She assured me that they do work on writing letters, rhyming words, colors, counting/numbers, etc.  It is JUST LIKE SCHOOL - except licensed therapists are teaching the children.  And she reminded me that her behaviors are probably preventing learning at school anyway - so now is the time to get her in their program.  The owner told me that the average care plan is for 72 days, but V could be there for less or more time depending on her behavior.  Oh she also told me that they have a 96% success rate of helping children turn their lives around. The teacher to child ratio is 1:4, and ALL of the teachers are licensed therapists.
All of this pends on another therapist having a session with us and doing a "psych" eval. on V, but the owner felt confident that the therapist would feel that V was eligible for the program and we would receive the help we needed with her.

Does anyone else wonder when the other shoe will drop?  I know it's awful of me to think, but it's so hard for me to have hope that we have finally found what we need to turn this child's life around.  This facility is the only one like it in the Tri-State area.  They accept kids with severe behavior issues from age 18 months - 9 years. 

Could someone pinch me please?

More good news, we got our diebels testing results for our 2nd grader, DQ - she is doing AWESOME with her phonics, reading skill, and comprehension skills.  She was above where she needed to be for every single aspect.  We are so proud of her!!  She is such a smart young lady!   She is also doing well in competition dance!  AND I finished her Halloween costume yesterday.

So there are wonderful things happening in our lives.  I hope to keep writing you about all the awesome things to come!!!!

P.S.  V got her ears pierced a week ago!  They're so cute.  I will upload a photo soon as I can!

Aunt TT

Friday, September 21, 2012

Kindergarten Suspension

Today is Friday.  The day was going well until around 11:30, when my cell phone rang.  I recognized the girls school number on it, and picked it up.  The sweet school secretary asked me if I was V's guardian.  I told her yes.  She said that there was an emergency at the school, and she asked if I could come right away.  I asked what was wrong, was V hurt?  She assured me it wasn't a medical emergency, but couldn't go into detail with what was going on.

I was alone at work.  One co-worker was at the other store, the other on vacation.  So I let my boss know I had to leave, and the co-worker at the other store said she would come up to my store to cover me.  I left the office in the capable hands of the service manager and fled to the school, fighting tears the whole way.  My stomach was in knots.  I didn't know what happened, and was afraid of what I would be walking into.

Once I pulled up at the school I noticed a couple helping their Kindergarten aged child into their vehicle, and they looked at me a little too long... I wondered if V hurt them, and they were wondering if I was her parent...  looking for someone to blame.  But what I noticed most of all?  The police cruiser parked right in front of the school.  I kept thinking, "Please tell me that isn't for V..."

An aide led me to the principal, who happened to be in V's classroom.  When I walked in, I notice the police officer....  and V hiding under a table... surrounded by a huge mess.  Every chair was overturned.  Every bucket of crayons (on each table) was thrown everywhere.  There were little yellow handled safety scissors all over the place.  Mustard yellow pencils strewn everywhere.  I couldn't breathe for a second.  I looked at the officer in shock and said, "did she do this?"  "Yes."  He responded.  "All of it.  Does she do this at home?"  I am still staring wide eyed, and tell him no.  He nods, sees me on the brink of tears, then asks me to come with him into the hallway.

He asks me what is going on.  I tell him I am in shock over this.  I explain to him her history, how I have been trying to get her help, but due to her age... no one really wants to touch her.  He tells me that there is a special place in heaven for people like me.  People who take on the hurt, lost, innocent.  But he makes it clear that this can not happen.  I assure him I know that, and am heart broken to think that it did.  He lets me know that she didn't just overturn chairs, but that she also hurt her teacher, and a few other students.  He tells me he understands from a personal point of view how she could be angry, and that he knows that she can grow up to be someone great, as he came from a rough childhood, but made something of himself.  He gives me hope.  Although it is  glimmer of hope, I still feel the weight of the situation.  I know there is no quick fix.  There is no magic cure.  I also know that her days at this school are probably limited.

The principal suspends her from school for five days.

She seems oblivious.  Either she doesn't understand the gravity of the situation... or she doesn't care.  Either way, it isn't good.

So we made an emergency appointment with her therapist, who is now suggesting another psych eval, and possibly even meds.  One of the things I have been working hard to keep her from having to do.  But if it is what is best for her, then I must consent.  We have a rough road ahead of us.  We have a lot of decisions before us.

I love this little girl with my heart and soul.  On the way to work, I couldn't help but cry.  She asked me why I was crying, and I told her that it breaks my heart that she could hurt anyone.  Again, she seemed phased not in the least.  Therapy was the same.  She seemed oblivious.

So that was our day today.  Hopefully we can get to the bottom of this, and soon.  Maybe this will be a blessing in disguise.  Maybe this will prove that there is something going on, and she will get the help she needs....  I can only hope.  I second guess my decision to put her in Kindergarten so early now.  But paying for daycare was putting us in the  poorhouse.  It seems that every decision I have to make for this beautiful child is a lesser of two evils.  I wish things could be different.  I just don't know how to make them so.  I hope that somehow I will be given the wisdom to do what is right by V.  She can be such an amazing child when she keeps her temper under control.  So full of love and giggles.  I admit I have distanced myself from  her a little because for me she has also been full of heartache.  Seeing sights like I saw today.... knowing that the police had been called on my 5 year old...  It's just so hard to take.  So hard to know what to do to help her turn her life around.  But I have to figure out something fast.  Oh and figure out where she can stay for 5 days next week while she is out of school and M and I still have to be at work.  This child is such a puzzle....

Aunt TT

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

DQ and The Green Eyed Monster

This morning DQ told me that she has "been attacked by the Green Eyed Monster."  Somewhere she has learned that the "Green Eyed Monster" is a term for jealousy.  It describes how ugly jealousy can be, and is a really good metaphor.  So I asked her what she was jealous of.  Her response?

"Because Z-man got to see my real mom twice, and I haven't been allowed to."


She said this while I was braiding her hair for school.  M and V were sitting on the couch.  My head snapped up.  I made eye contact with M.  He saw the fear in my eyes, and shrugged his shoulders.

We knew this day would happen.  When you keep secrets, you create situations like this.  DQ was bound to find out one day that her brother has been permitted to see their birth mother, and she hasn't.  She still doesn't know about having a younger brother yet.  But when these situations happen... you just have to roll with it and make the best of it.  We were as prepared as we could be.  I explained to DQ that we didn't think she was ready to see her biological mom yet.  Because she had moments that she was still so angry, and she still had other issues that we are trying to work on.  She seemed to accept that.

I talked to her about calling my sister her "real mom".  I explained that people that don't understand our situation might not understand why she lives with me, and someone else is her "real mom".  I asked her to call my sister her birth mom or her biological mom.  I asked if she still considers me her mom, and she said yes.  So I told her that if she calls my sister her "real mom" and I am her mom too, it could lead people to believe I am her "fake mom".  She smiled at me, and I knew she understood.

I emphasized to her that if she has any questions at all, she just needs to ask daddy and I and we will answer them as honestly as we can.  I told her that her biological mommy lives pretty far away, and that we can't go and visit her right now, but if she comes back to Ohio any time soon, that we would try to arrange a visit.  We would of course have to have advance notice... because we would have to breach the subject of the 4th child... their younger 1/2 brother. 

I won't lie to you.  Hearing DQ say my "real mom" about my sister broke my heart a little.  It reminded me of what a strong bond birth really is, and how very much she will always love my sister.  My life has been turned upside down, and made to revolve around these two amazing girls.  I feel like I deserve the title of "real mom," not my sister.  But I have to remind myself that this is coming from the mind of a 7.5 year old.  She doesn't understand everything that I do.  I had a brief thought flash before my eyes of DQ deciding that she would rather live with her birth mommy than me.  My heart broke a little more.  I pushed all that hurt away, focused on today, and the fact that I have both girls in my life - then moved on. 

I told DQ that M and I work really hard to give her the life she has today.  That we make sure she has so many things at her disposal.  I told her that her birth mom is really happy that she is with us, because she knows that I will love can care for her as if she were my own child.  I told her that her mommy has asked M and I to adopt her.  She doesn't understand exactly what adoption is, so I explained that it would mean that her mommy wants her to live with us until she is old enough to make decisions for herself.  She asked why, and I told her because her mommy knows she is getting everything she needs with us, and she doesn't want someone else to try to take her out of this wonderful environment and put her somewhere else.

This is such  heavy conversation before breakfast.

I didn't tell her that her mommy wants her with us because she doesn't feel she can give her what we can.  I didn't tell her that it is the ultimate sacrifice of love.  This is all for when she is older.  It's just not appropriate right now.  I hope I handled it right.  I know that there will be more questions, and in time, more secrets that are unveiled.  But for now - we will just keep going at the pace we are going at, and hoping it is shaping the best future that could possibly happen. 

Though all of this V was present... and much more occupied with other things.  She chimed in once saying that she doesn't remember her birth mommy.  M told her that is because she was so young when her birth mommy left.  He isn't quite as compassionate as I am about this subject.  He doesn't have the love for my sister that I hold.  He is just a little rough around the edges.  But he doesn't have the background I have.

So I think we have slain the green eyed monster for now.  I'm sure it will rear it's ugly head again, but I just thought I would share with you another moment in raising children that someone else gave birth to.

P.S.  Happy 35th birthday to my older brother today!!

Aunt TT

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Little Black Hole

When you parent a child... it is a daunting, exhausting task.  You have to give so much of yourself, to help these children grow into adults.  You spend so much time ensuring they are safe, well fed, healthy, and generally happy....  that you lose track of yourself a bit in the mix.  You lose track of friends.  You lose track of some family. 

Now imagine trying to raise a precious, blue eyed, blond haired black hole of aggression.  You have all of the concerns I mentioned above, but you also have to make sure your child doesn't harm others.  You have to dedicate so much positive attention, love, and affection that seems to just be lost upon that angelic little black hole. 

Why do I compare my sweet 5 year old to a black hole?  Well because everything good and wonderful that I put into her just... disappears.  OK.  So I am exaggerating.... a little.  It doesn't disappear entirely.  I still see glimpses of the goodness.  Like at 3:00 in the morning when she needs a snuggle, and says, "Mommy I love you."  Or on the rare chance I catch her doing something good, and I can praise her, and her little face lights up like a perfect dawn.  There is good.  It isn't all bad.  But some days...  the good is SO hard to find.  She is a black hole, because she is such a force to be reckoned with.  She is so strong willed.  She will stomp and scream and yell, regardless of where she is or who is watching.  Black holes are known for sucking things into their bottomless void... and my child tries constantly to suck my love and positivity into her negative and angry world.  It is a daily battle to keep from becoming angry and negative just like her.  It is so difficult to point out the good she does... when there is so much bad.  And it's almost like she likes it this way.  She thrives in the chaos.  Yes.  I am talking about a 5 year old. 

My little V is struggling in Kindergarten.  I called my mom so upset yesterday because I don't know what to do to help her.  She is so impulsive.  If daddy or I aren't there playing Jimmeny Cricket...  she is usually not making the very best decisions.  She has been very aggressive.  Her teacher told me the other day, "she is so smart, she just won't keep her hands to herself."  It's the truth.  I am trying to get her tested for an IEP, but still have not had a phone call returned about setting up the testing.  Her therapist says she would like to go out for a visit to observe how V behaves in a typical school day... but we don't have a date set for that yet.  It just feels like such a cluster... and I can't seem to get a handle on any of it. 

V loves to aggravate her sister... to the point that DQ can't stand her.  V will pee her pull-up at bedtime... just because she doesn't want to get up and use the potty (underwear too...  we try....).  She tries to lie when she is in trouble... regardless of how much we tell her that lying causes a loss of trust... and loss of trust means loss of doing fun things that we may have otherwise let her do.  M and I stand our ground as firm and solid as we can.  It is just so hard sometimes.  It's like carrying this 60lb. black hole kicking and screaming up a hill both ways... in 4 foot of snow.... barefoot... without getting sucked into all the negativity, and becoming part of the black hole yourself.... 

I can see how she would be exhausting for a woman trying to manage 20 other 5-6 year olds, AND teach them how to read/write at the same time.  I feel for the teacher... but I also wish with all my heart that she was better equipped to deal with the problems that V offers up.

DQ seems to be doing well in 2nd grade.  We have parent teachers in a few weeks, and I have made sure that she knows that I will talk to her teacher, and if she is not being honest with me, she will lose things she enjoys for a little while.  DQ is enjoying dance very much (V starts tonight). 

M and I have been exhausted.  Life can really wear a person down sometimes.  We are doing our best to make it through, though.  And neither of us have any intention of quitting... ever.  But some days I do want a break.  I do want to disappear into something else.  Away from V's screaming.  I would take the dog with me too.  Because he just looks so sad when she is throwing one of her fits.  I have even tried to point out how very sad Hobie is when V screams and yells.  I have told her she is hurting his ears, and breaking his heart, because all he wants to know is love and affection.  It doesn't seem to phase her.  I just haven't found what will sink in yet.  I only hope I find it before it is too late for her. 

Aunt TT

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Second Guessing

I have a new reader.  I am touched that she went back through all my rambling and read what I have to say.  I am also touched that she left feedback.  She made me feel a little bit better about second guessing myself all the time, as she said she feels it makes a person a better parent when they do that.  I tend to agree, just because I feel like I am always looking for ways to be better.  I don't just blindly believe I am the best and my way is the right way all the time.  I accept that I am human.  I am made with flaws.  I will make mistakes.

I need to get some self confidence in my parenting though.  I don't want the girls to think that I am a pushover.  I actually had a dream last night that V's teacher called me in for a conference.  She sat me down, put the girls in another room (where M was, I'm not sure).  She looked right at me and said, "it is evident to me that you didn't want to have children.  But you do now - so you need to start making them priority."  In my dream I was appalled.  I grew a set of brass balls, looked at her and said, "for your information, I didn't "have" these children.  I CHOSE to have these children."  While she stared at me in shock, I continued my rant.  I put as much force into my voice as I could, and I said, "my sister left these children crying on a doorstep, and I stepped in and got legal custody of them to provide a good home.  I do my best.  They are my number one concern.  If I didn't care, do you honestly think I would be sitting here trying to help you come up with a better way to handle my daughter?"

In my dream the teacher began apologizing over and over again.  She took my hands in hers and explained how stressed she has been, and how V makes her classroom more stressful.  I assured her that I completely understand.  I don't turn a blind eye to V's behavior problems.  I try to focus on the good, to help her forget the bad, and push on through life.  I told the teacher that sometimes I have to drag her kicking and screaming (not literally) into the right course of action, but that I understand my role in her life, and I do it to my best. 

I felt good after having that dream.  It felt good to stand up for myself.  To stand up for V.  I know it was just a dream, and I know it didn't really happen, but it still felt good to have a solid sense that I was doing right by this child.  I am growing a backbone.  I am doing what is best for my child.  Sometimes I second guess myself, but I blog it out, or I talk to M about it.  Then things are better.

The photo shoot that I mentioned in my prior blog came out fabulous.  The photos captured the very essence of my lovely daughters.  There were so many good ones, but for now I will share with you my favorites:

Competition dance is in full swing.   It is a bit more expensive than I imagined, and I am trying to get active with the fundraising.  We will need to do a lot of fundraisers to support DQ's dancing.  She loves it though, and has been so happy doing it.  I want to give her the opportunity.  It will be a huge sacrifice on my part, as it will take up a lot of my time, but she is so worth it.

School is going well.  V's teacher hasn't called me to conference, and seems to be trying to redirect her in as many positive ways as possible.  I see her most mornings when I walk V into the building, and touch base.  I have also convinced V that I have many friends at the school, and I usually find out what she is or isn't doing, so there is no sense in trying to lie to me about any of it.  The whole "eyes in the back of my head" theory.   LOL.  DQ seems to be doing better sitting still and listening in class.  I haven't heard her teacher complain about that once yet.  I feel a little disconnected from her teacher because there isn't a behavior chart coming home every day.  Second grade is so different from first and Kindergarten.  It's a learning curve for me too apparently.  I guess the old adage is true, children really do end up teaching their parents a lot.  I learn something new from them every day.  Things like patience, control, and a love deeper than any ocean is truly possible. 

Aunt TT

Friday, August 10, 2012

Hour One

When you are raising a child that was birthed (and partially raised) by someone else, it is sometimes difficult to know what "normal" is like.  So many therapy appointments.  So many people who can't see past the behavior issues to the truly amazing child that lies beneath.  So many events that you pass on being at because your child just can't handle being a part of that kind of chaos. So many times that you worry if you have made the right choice.   Well I guess any parent has those worries.

Then you are around a child who has been raised in a loving home.  A child who...  had you birthed and raised the children you are parenting from hour one, you would have nurtured in the same way.  A child who is allowed to explore the world around them.  To sate the curiosity that is burning a hole le in their little minds.  A child who is encouraged to talk, and giggle.  A child who is not chastised for crying.  A child who doesn't question the love of the adults in her young life.... because she has never once been taught to doubt that.

It is so surreal being around this "normal" child.  Witnessing how smart and happy she is.  Wishing that your sister could have given that to the children you are now parenting.  Wondering how much more enriched your children's lives would be had they had that nurturing love from hour one. 

But again, I am faced with the bold truth.  I can't go back in time.  I can't change anything that ever happened to these angels.  I can only embrace today, and move forward.  I can only give those children all that love and compassion.  I can only try to help the caregivers and teachers who can't see the amazing children that I see... how to see them.  But I assume this is a struggle for many parents.  Most teachers and caregivers are taxed to the limit, and it is rare to find one that truly takes an interest in your child.

Speaking of caregivers taking an interest in your child.  Vampire is starting Kindergarten next week!  So, next week will be the last week of daycare.  She told me this morning that she is sad, and she would rather just stay in daycare for the rest of her life than start school.  She told me that she didn't want to leave Miss Michelle.  I just hugged her and told her that we will stay in touch with Miss Michelle, and visit the daycare as often as we can, because I know Miss Michelle will miss her too.  Michelle has been so loving and patient with V.  Michelle had to tolerate V biting her many times because V was not getting her way, but Michelle never treated V differently.  I wish I knew how to thank her.  Talking to Michelle, I can tell that she truly loves our little V, and it just melts my heart.

On the school front, they have our girls going to two different schools.  It will be difficult to get them to both places at once, so we are not free from daycare like we had hoped.  We will be paying a little less, though.  DQ will go to before and after school care at a local daycare.  They will take her to and from school for us - freeing M and I up so that we can make sure we get V dropped off and picked up in time.  HOPEFULLY after Labor Day, V will be accepted to the same school we have enrolled DQ in, and we won't have to go two separate places. 

I opted not to purchase dance photos from the company that took pictures.  I felt that the woman was way too expensive.  One of my dear friends gifted us a photo shoot for my birthday in June, and tomorrow we will be having the girls photos taken at a local park in their dance costumes.  I will share my favorites with you when we get them in!  Dance season starts up the end of this month for DQ.  She will be starting competition dance, and I couldn't be more proud of her.  V says she wants to dance again this year, and that she wants to tumble.  So that is what we are going to let her do.  It will be DQ's 4th year dancing, and V's 3rd!   Time sure is flying....

Aunt TT

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Vampire Turns FIVE!

Five years ago today I was at work.  I received a phone call around 11:30a from my sister that she was in labor.  I raced to the hospital.  I got there around 12:00, and my sister was dilated at 3cm.  Mom was there, and this was our third time helping my sister bring kids into the world.  Z-man and DQ took awhile to make their appearances.  So we figured we had a little while with this one.  We decided to run down to the cafeteria and have a quick bite of lunch before all of the labor and delivery began.

Once in the cafeteria, we heard our names being paged over the loudspeakers, and we ran back up to my sister's room.  In the 5-10 minutes we were gone, she had dilated to 10cm, and was ready to push.  V made her entrance into this world around 1:00p.  It was magical.

Much of her life has been in the same manner.  She's always in a rush.  Always has to be in control.  Always has to have her say in things.  She's just a really strong willed kid.  And it's a good thing that she usually always knows what she wants.  Daddy (Uncle M) asked her what she wanted for her birthday dinner and she said, "McDonalds Happy Meal."  He said, "sure you don't want to go to Applebees and have them sing Happy Birthday to you and give you Ice Cream?"  And she said, "Then we will bring McDonalds to Applebees!"  We wound up at McDonalds.
Great first serious boyfriend photo!

Birthday Girl!

Birthday Ice Cream


She got all dressed up, and felt like a star!

We tried to get her ears pierced, a tradition in our little family on the 5th birthday, and something she thought she really wanted.  The ladies at the store worked really hard trying to coax her into getting it done, and were very patient with her.

They even had her sit on mommy's lap, to help her feel brave, but she psyched herself out due to the fear of the pain, and couldn't bring herself to go through with it.  We told her it's OK, that if she wanted to try again next year when she turns 6, we will try then.

Her birthday party is on Saturday.  She wanted to have a skating birthday, so that is what we shall have.  She also wants a pony cake (not to be confused with a pony KEG - which is exactly what it sounds like she is saying) - so daddy and I will be busy tomorrow night trying to make some sort of pony CAKE.   LOL.

Our 4th of July was good.  The morning was a parade that the girls were in with their dance company:

Happy Independence Day!

From there we ate lunch with Mamaw and Z-man, then Mamaw took Z-man, DQ, and V to our Great Aunt's house for some swim time while Daddy and I went to help Uncle Jake and Aunt Britt with their house addition.  Daddy and I helped Uncle Jake and Papaw hang drywall for a few hours, then picked up DQ and V to take them swimming with some of my friends.

It was a lovely day.

This weekend will be hectic.  We have a birthday party for V, then we have to pack our bags for VACATION!   Daddy will be leaving on Sunday at 3:00a, I will be flying down on Tuesday to meet up with them, and we are going to visit my good friend who moved to FL a year ago.  It will be so fantastic to see her and her family!!!!

I hope you all had a fabulous 4th of July!!!

Aunt TT

Saturday, June 30, 2012

3rd Mama-versery

Yes Lina - I love what you so aptly named yesterday, and have stolen it for my own literary uses.  Mama-versery.  Thank you.

Mama-versery.  You may wonder what is that exactly?  Well yesterday, June 29th was my 3 year Mama-versery.  It marked 3 years of being a mom - but not by birth, by choice.

As many of you know, my sister left the state three years ago.  Not only did she leave the state, she left her children.  Looking back, I know it was a very self-less decision.  She knew she couldn't give them everything they needed - and left them with people who could.  My heart still aches for her loss.  Sometimes I think she should have stuck it out a little bit longer.  Sometimes I think I should have stepped in and helped her more.  Sometimes I think that if the moon and stars were aligned differently...

I can't change the past.  I can't spend time dwelling in it.  I just have to keep plugging forward.

When my sister left, she was angry.  I think that her anger gave her the springboard so to speak to leave.  It made it possible to drive away, without the three little people she gave birth to.  She said angry things.  I said angry things.  Mom said angry things.  I don't think dad was home that day.  My anger wasn't the raw anger she had, and I was using it to try and motivate her to do things differently.  My sister however is one of the most stubborn people I have ever met (aside from V).  She had her mind made up.  When she left, she left me with three boxes of moldy, disgusting clothes.  She had been living in her van with the children - when she wasn't staying at mom and dad's house.  It really wasn't the best situation for anyone involved.

I remember watching her leave mom and dad's house.  Thinking, "She really did it."  You see I had a gut feeling this was going to happen.  It was just getting my mind and heart to believe my gut.

DQ cried.  She sat on the stairs inside the house and just sobbed.  V cried with her, but she was a few days shy of her 2nd birthday.  I don't think she fully understood what she cried about.  I vaguely remember Z being angry, hurt, but I don't remember him crying.  He was only 6 years old.

Somewhere, somehow I found the strength to do what needed to be done.  I called Children's Services.  Something told me she wouldn't be back any time soon.  I needed the power to be able to provide medical care for these children, to enroll them in daycare, to be the caregiver my sister entrusted to me.  But I couldn't do it w/o having the legal power behind it.  It hurt my soul to call Children's Services on my sister. 

I had so many amazing people supporting me through it all.  So many people gave me hand me down clothes, or went out and bought clothes for the girls - because starting out, I had next to nothing.  My parents, who have always been there.  Uncle M - who is pretty much "Daddy" now - I will need to update that in my blog photos - he has been a rock for me when it seems I won't be able to go on.  My bosses and co-workers, who allowed me to take time off needed to care for these children, and who have talked me through my fears  My friends - whom I have leaned on countless times.  My cousin Kendra - who took on watching the girls until I could get daycare arranged, even though she had two small children of her own.  My Facebook friends who have never complained about my sappy posts.  My readers.  I couldn't have come this far without your support and love, I am eternally grateful.

I would like to say that M and I took the kids somewhere fun, and celebrated my 3rd Mama-versery, but there was a nasty storm that blew through the area last night.  We stayed home, and watched T.V.  From what I hear there are 80,000 people w/o power due to that storm.  I'm so glad we are not one of them, and I hope they can get the power back on soon.

Usually by now I have gobs of dance photos to show you from the dance recital.  I don't because the photographer they used was so expensive.  My friend Lina gave me a gift card for photographer who will be taking photos of the girls in the end of July - and I will share them with you then.  I am excited!!  

V has had three perfect days at school in the past two weeks.  We have heaped praise on her, and allowed her to have a piece of gum when she gets home if she has done well.  We are trying to show her that it's just so much more fun when you do good things.  We went swimming at my great aunt's house on Wednesday last week, and stopped at a local ice cream shop for a treat afterwards.  Well before we stopped the car, V was so excited that she unstrapped her seat belt.  She has done this many times before, and it is a huge no no.  So it broke my heart (and hers) but I had to make an example of the situation.  I told her that if she couldn't get her seat belt back on by the time daddy was done getting the ice cream, that she would have to wait until tomorrow to eat hers.  She tried.  She got angry.  She yelled at me, and screamed at me in her frustration.  I calmly told her to be calm, take a deep breath, and fasten the seat belt.  She tried again, and still struggled.  She got angry.  Gave up.  Slumped to the floorboards and cried.  I coaxed her to try again, and reminded her that she shouldn't have taken her seat belt off to begin with.  Well she started screaming and yelling at me again - didn't get her seat belt done in time.  And I had to withhold the small strawberry milk shake we had bought for her.  She was so angry.  She screamed the entire way home.  I felt like a horrible mom.  It was very difficult.

Once home we put the shake in the freezer, and she was allowed to drink it on Thursday because she had such a fantastic day at daycare.  That made me feel a little bit better.  I hope she got my point.  No screaming and yelling at mommy or daddy.  No unbuckling your seat belt in a moving vehicle.

DQ has been doing well.  She is picking up on her math skills so quickly.  It is amazing to me how much she is like a sponge!  I am hoping her 2nd grade teacher will realize how hungry she is to learn, and keep feeding her.  I will do all I can to help her teacher see that.  She wants to do competition dance next year, and with V out of daycare I believe we will be able to afford it.  We talked to her dance instructor, and she felt that DQ would do well at it.  I am excited for her.  The instructor welcomed V back as well saying she saw vast improvement in her behavior from the first year to this year.  So if she wants to dance - we will probably put her in ballet or acrobatics.

I will try not to be such a stranger.  I just feel like all I do is talk about myself and the girls sometimes.  Like maybe it gets old to you.  Thank you for reading!

Aunt TT

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Grey

I always thought things were either black or white in life.  That I would grow up and always know what to do, right from wrong, good from bad....  Life isn't like that for me.  It's Grey.  It is darn near impossible to always know what to do.  The line between right and wrong is blurred at times.  The razor edge between good and bad is precarious.  I feel like such is my life.

I haven't written in awhile.  I just haven't had the umph to do so.  There hasn't been much happening nothing huge to write about.  Just more Grey.

My sister called yesterday.  She told me how a picture of V fell off her wall, and the photo actually slipped out of the frame and into the gated fireplace, and was torched by the pilot light.  It all seems so circumstantial, so far fetched, but my sister pleaded with me to make sure that everything was good with V because if that was an omen that something bad would happen...  I would be able to do something about it before she could.

Of course this put a tiny bug of worry in my ear, but my practical self shook it's head at something like that being an omen.  I didn't know how well the screw held the photo in the wall.  I didn't know why they would have a pilot light burning in a fireplace this time of year - as it is quite a bit warmer where they are vs. where we are.  I didn't know how a photo could slip out of a frame (unless it was broken or badly damaged to begin with) and fly into a gated fireplace.  But whatever.  I'll keep an eye on everything. 

I spoke with my dad not long after I got off the phone with my sister.  He let me know that she has been  struggling, and the sisterly side of me wanted to be there for her, to help her through this tough time.  No matter what she has or hasn't done, she is my sister.  What kind of world am I creating for these little girls to live in, if I can't show them that I am capable of forgiveness?  How can I expect them to show each other love, when daily.... I am not showing them how much I love my sister?  Exactly what do I want to teach these little girls?

Aside from that continual struggle - we have the adoption front.  I'm being told that it would be easier and simpler to adopt were M and I married.  So that kind of takes the romance out of, "will you marry me?" and "OH YES!".  It is what it is, though.  I've been married once - and didn't think it was all that I was lead to believe it could be, but M has never been married, and I don't want to rob him of anything.  We honestly haven't done much on the adoption front because of the whole marriage ordeal. 

The good news?  Dance recital is a little over a month and a half away.  I'm so excited.  The girls costumes are SOOOOO cute!   I can't wait to see the routines with the costumes.  Mom said she would come backstage and help me with costume changes, etc.  DQ will have three dances/costume changes this year, and V will have one, but that is still four dances for me to get two little girls ready for.  DQ has decided she wants to do competition dance next year, and I'm going to do all I can to make that dream a reality for her.  She will have practice Mon and Thurs from 4-6, and V will have ballet on Tues from 5:30-6:00.  Do I want to live at the dance studio?  No - but if it's what it takes to help make dreams come true for the girls...  then that is what I will do.  Dance photos will be in about three weeks (still have to get tights/shoes - and decide how to do their hair - photo night will be STRESSFUL).  I will post dance photos when I get them. 

I have been sewing a 1950's inspired skull and crossbones dress.   I found a really good tutorial on making petticoats, and I made a petticoat for it.  I'm so excited at how it turned out!   I think I am going to make tutus for the girls using the same theory - but on a smaller scale for dance as well.  I have been bitten by the sewing bug....   This lovely little black petticoat.....
 Turns this......
 Into this...... (sorry for the bad photo quality)

V has been doing much better with her biting and aggression at school.  I honestly can't remember the last time she bit.  I'm very happy about that!   I signed her up for Kindergarten the other day, and she will be starting this fall.  She is very excited about that.  She has her good days and bad days with being potty trained, but we are working on that.  She sat and peed on my couch a few weeks ago because she was too lazy to get up and use the toilet.  I was so upset.  I showered her and put her straight to bed while M tried to clean the urine off the couch.  So frustrating!  At school - V can earn up to 4 stickers per day as her day is divided into approximately two hour increments.  We take the book to school with us every day, the teachers reward her at the end of every two hours by letting her put a sticker on the chart, then she brings it home, and we go over it.  The theory behind this is trying to reinforce the good behavior in smaller increments of time since expecting a child with her issues to be good all day long, then praise them at the end of the day just doesn't have the same impact. 

DQ has been getting in trouble at school a lot for self control issues.  All year long I have been trying to reward the good behavior, and ignore the bad, but the bad just isn't going away, and in my opinion is getting worse and worse.  So this week I told her that for every day she is NOT on green, she will be doing something other than what she wants in the evening.  She was on blue the other day, and instead of playing outside or watching T.V. she had to sit and do math problems.  She learned how to add and subtract two digit figures... and honestly.... I think she loved it.  She was gobbling up learning all that new stuff, and she didn't fight us at all with it.  M and I checked her math, and had her correct the ones she didn't do so well on.  The next day was a good day, and she was on green.  We all celebrated hers (and V's b/c she had a 4 sticker day) victory.  It was wonderful!  Then yesterday, she was on red.  So when we got home she had to write a story about a little girl who wouldn't stop talking in class (that is what keeps getting her in trouble).  Maybe one day we will get through to her....

So that's about it for now.  So many huge things on the horizon (possible wedding... possible adoption...  dance recital... V starting Kindergarten.... DQ moving up to the 2nd grade....)  Oh so much to think about in so little time.....

Aunt TT

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Old Relics

When my sister and I were little, we had and played with gobs of My Little Ponies.  We had other toys too, but this story isn't about them.  Anyway we would fight over them, as all siblings do.  I got fed up of her trying to "take my Ponies" and I wrote my initials on the bottom of their hooves in black ink.  TD.

Fast forward to 2012.  V loves playing with the ponies.  My mom always saved everything, and when the girls and I moved into the house in 2009, she gave me all the ponies that my sister and I "shared".  Now V plays with them.  She loves her ponies, and will ask you to brush their hair, and play with her with them.  Mom and dad were over on Friday, and she drug her entire tub of ponies out and asked mom to play with her.  It was a blast from the past for mom to see that V still plays with the same things that gave myself and my sister such joy.  She kept saying, "I remember this one...  and whose was this?"  I looked at the bottom for my initials, and I slipped up and said that one belonged to my sister, calling her by name, and V was so excited to have something that her biological mommy cherished.  As difficult as it is on one hand... it warmed my heart on the other.

The girls have a huge bag full of dress up clothes for their dolls too.  When I say huge I mean one of those 6ft long bags that fit under the bed.  They were playing dress up their dolls on Sunday, and came across a shirt that had her name printed on it in big red letters.  I was in the kitchen cooking, and heard them yelling her name, "my real mommy" following it.  Again the vice on my heart clinched a little, but it was a piece of the past that mom handed down to me, and I didn't realize was still in there.   I knew there were clothes that we both played with, but I didn't realize that there was a shirt with her name on it, a bag with her name on it, and a 7 year old DQ who can read very well. 

So my new war is in if I should put those items up in a box or let the girls continue to play with and enjoy them.  My sister isn't their real mommy anymore.  She is ready and willing for me to take the reigns completely in raising the girls.  I am the one who is hesitant.  I am the one who lets fear guide me.  I just don't want my sweet DQ or my ornery V to hate me for decisions I have had to make.  I love them both so much.

DQ asked me if her mommy was a "Bad Person" last weekend when we were all in the car.  My response to her was, "No honey, she's not a bad person.  She has just made some bad decisions."
DQ, "Like leaving me?"
Me: "No.  That was a good decision.  Because had she taken you with her to AR, you would have been exposed to so many things that I wouldn't have been able to protect you from.  You would have been unsafe."
M interjected and reminded her of how her life was before us.
Me: "And our primary job in life is...."
DQ: "To keep V and I Safe and Healthy."
M and I: "Right."

Then the conversation switched to happier, lighter things.

My sister is on my mind today as it is her 31st birthday.  I didn't get to celebrate the big 3 - 0 with her.  I won't get to celebrate this one either.  She sent me a message on FB, and asked if I would mind sending her some photos or a video.  I had uploaded those videos to my blog, and decided to send her the one of DQ doing her Acro routine that I put on YouTube.  I know.  You might be thinking this was wrong of me, but hear me out.  If my sister died today... I would regret not giving her that one small request.  I would regret denying her that one small happiness.  Because that happiness will in no way hurt the girls at all.  They don't even know I sent it, and I won't even talk to them about it until they are much older.  I am not getting weak.  I am not trying to appease someone who "doesn't deserve it".  I am thinking ahead to the What If's of life.  Because we never know one minute to the next if we will breathe our last breath or not.  I don't want to have regrets in my life.  So I chose to share this one small thing with her.  I will probably send her videos or photos every now and then, because as I see it... it will only strengthen what I have always told the girls about their mother, and when they see all I have done to keep from completely severing that connection, they will understand.

On a happier note.... my good friend will be coming to visit from FL early next week.  I haven't seen her since she moved in June of last year.  She will be bringing herself, her boyfriend, and her three children, and they will be staying with us.  I'm so excited to see them!!!  The girls will be excited too.  I'm hope to surprise the girls with my friend's visit.  It's ironic b/c my friend pulled DQ's first loose tooth, and DQ has another loose one right now... so maybe my friend will have some more tooth pulling to do on her visit!  

 Aunt TT