Monday, December 16, 2013

The Threat of Santa

Does any parent ever really withhold presents from their child at Christmas?  You hear the threat all the time, "Santa is going to leave you a lump of coal in your stocking."  "Santa is watching you."  "If you don't straighten up, I am calling Santa!"

Yes.  We have Santa on speed dial this time of year, and have called him a time or two (thanks Uncle Jim). 

The only reason I have not taken every one of V's gifts back is because I don't think my parents, M, or anyone else would be supportive of me depriving her of gifts.  But her behavior this weekend really made Santa very upset.  Santa really wants to put a rock in her stocking and be done with the whole thing. 

I could only imagine when she goes back to school, and someone asks what she got for Christmas and she says a rock.  Her teachers may laugh, and understand.  Or they may award me with the worst parent of the year award, and make a mental note of how awful I am to this child.  I can hear it now, "No wonder she behaves so poorly.  Her parents must be so mean to her."  Then when the media gets a hold of the story, "Child really gets Nuttin for Christmas - the full awful story when we come back at 11:00."  So I may be blowing this out of proportion a little bit - but you get the drift. 

Why make these idle threats to our kids.  We really want them to believe in Santa, and really want them to be on their best behavior.  But when it comes down to it, they are all getting gifts of some sort.  No matter how bad they have been.

So why the idle threats?  Just another desperate attempt to make an unruly child behave?  Just something our parents said to us - so we say to them?  Do we as parents really believe that the threat of Santa is going to make our kids magically better?  Kids are smart.  They know they have us over a barrel.  They might not be able to tell us why - but they know that they are getting something from Santa no matter how bad they have been, so what is the incentive to be good?

Why am I carrying on about this?  V was really bad yesterday.  I took her (and her sister) to see a ballet in the area called The Nutcracker.  Last year (because the prior year was a nightmare), I only took DQ.  This year I asked V if she would be on her best behavior, and if she wanted to go with us.  She assured me she would, and asked if a young woman who babysits her now and then could go.  We arranged it, and I had high hopes that two years of maturity, the meds, and her promise to be good would be in our favor.

M pointed out to me that it was my fault she was misbehaving because she just can't handle all of the over stimulation of the lights, music, being quiet, the thousands of people.  He thought I was a fool for taking her.  My point of view?  I have this child that accuses me of always spending time with her sister, the well behaved DQ, while she never gets to spend time with mommy.  Honestly, I hate taking her places with me.  There is usually a fight and a  lot of heartache.  Yesterday, she laid on the floor of the prestigious ballet venue in her dress (hiked up to her hips), and tried to kick me, with her tights clad legs.  While hundreds of people walked by, gawking.  I hope none of them were sexual predators... snapping photos.  This is only one instance of how unruly and horribly behaved she was at the venue. 

The young lady we brought to the show with us asked if I was accustomed to the gawking of onlookers, as she is familiar with V's behaviors.  I nodded and said, "Yes, I usually smile, wave, ask if they're enjoying the show."  But deep inside - it is embarrassing, and it hurts.  I wonder what they think of me.  Some people probably think she needs a good spanking.  Some people probably think I should "do something" to control her better.  There is probably a small percentage of people who actually understand and sympathize with me. 

On the car ride home, she beat her head on the headrest of the car seat, she tried to pry the wooden molding off the door of the car.  She slid down in the seat...  again with her dress hiked up to her hips, and tried kicking the young woman who was our guest.  She tried to hit her cousin with some kind of book.   If she wasn't physically assaulting people she was being as loud and obnoxious as she could (attention seeking behavior).  All while I am trying to drive a car at 65mph on a highway.  I ended up telling DQ she could not go to eat pizza with all of her friends because I could not justify bringing V along with her acting as badly as she was.  Luckily for DQ, her dance teacher was kind hearted enough to make sure she could go, giving her a ride there/back, so I didn't also have to punish DQ.

I took V with us because I really wanted to be able to spend some time with her.  I really wanted to be able to show her that I do try to take her places, that I do love her just as much as I love DQ, and that I do try to give her chances.  But obviously she couldn't handle it.  After all was said and done I sat down and cried.  I called my mom and cried.  I called a friend and cried.  I have this new baby that I will be bringing into all of this chaos in about 6 months.  An innocent little being who doesn't have my resolve and will power to handle the force that is V.  I can't help but feel that this poor baby will suffer because of V's behavior.  DQ suffers, and I feel bad about that.  I suffer.  M suffers.  I love this child with everything I have, and I won't ever give up on her.  But the plain truth of it all it is, she takes a lot of joy out of being pregnant when I worry about how all of the throwing things, yelling, screaming, hitting, kicking, spitting, and pinching V still does will affect this new baby.

The sad truth of it all is that I know withholding any Christmas presents wouldn't make a difference.  She has improved a little in the past few years, but she is no where near where she needs to be in my mind.  Her behaviors yesterday were reminiscent of 2-3 years ago, and were really difficult for me to cope with.  I honestly couldn't wait to put her to bed, to have a bit of peace and quiet.  All the while, I just wanted to have a good day with her.  Hurts my heart that she just can't seem to let either of us have that. 

Aunt TT

Friday, December 6, 2013

Snow Day 2013

The girls had a snow day today.  They were both thrilled, and it didn't bother me much, as M had a snow day too and can stay home with them.  In my line of business, you don't really get snow days, so I am at work regardless the weather. 

V was adorable this morning, though.  She came into the bathroom and loudly announced, "I don't have school!"  The bathroom is the only one in the house, and I feel bad locking the door b/c of that.  But if the door isn't latched shut all the way, the dog will open it, and come lay on the floor, then the kids take that as an open door, and come in too.  No privacy.  But that is the life of a mom. 

Anyway after V announced her snow day to me, I told her, "yes!  You get to spend the day with Daddy, isn't it exciting?!?"  She replies, "Yes.  But why aren't you staying home too?"  I explained to her that I don't get snow days, and she quite seriously says, "But mommy, if it's too dangerous for me to go to school, isn't it too dangerous for you and the baby to go to work?"

Just Love This Kid.

I assured her that mommy would drive safely, and that everything would be just fine, that she shouldn't worry, but should instead enjoy her snow day with daddy, and I will see her this afternoon. 

I got to watch DQ and her team mates dance a little bit last night while waiting for a competition meeting at the studio.  The ballet is going to blow people away, in my humble opinion.  I really can't wait to see it all put together with costumes, etc.  The music is a song by the lovely Marie Digby, and is quite beautiful.  The choreography is just as heartfelt and beautiful.  I think it will make people cry.

DQ (and a few other girls at her studio) are gearing up for the title competition in the end of January.  There is so much more to it then I even ever dreamed.  A Pagent, an interview, a dance class that they are judged on, on top of doing their solo.  All to be crowned, "Miss Petite Dance Ohio".  I made sure DQ knows what she is getting into, and asked her if she is certain she wants to do all of this.  She said, "YES!  YES!  YES!"  So I told her she will have to practice more often, and not fight me about it, and she agreed.  Let's see how long it lasts...  LOL.

On the pregnancy note, I hit 15 weeks on Wednesday.  I'm still quite exhausted, and battling food aversions.  I'm not really showing at all yet, and had to explain to V that it's weird that she kisses my belly in public b/c of that, and that she can kiss my belly in the morning, when I get home from work, and before bed.  Other than that, she has to ask me first - and she has been doing a good job.  I hated to curb this, but when she stopped me in the middle of the parking garage yesterday to make a public display of kissing my belly in front of countless strangers, I had to say something.  She is so excited to meet the baby, and keeps saying, "I am going to change it's diapers, and feed it, and sleep with it, and play with it."  It's adorable, but does anyone else also hear a bit of the Elmira syndrome?  I know she means well, but she will have to be heavily supervised when it comes to this new addition.

I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving! 

Aunt TT

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Our Big Announcement

At work on Friday September 25th, everyone kept telling me how beautiful I looked.  I hadn't done anything different.  I don't even think I had washed my hair that day (I wash it every other day).  It was so very odd.  I texted one of my good friends, and she laughed and told me that I am beautiful (I concur), and that I should just relax.  But something was nagging at me.  I texted my friend back, and said, "I think I am pregnant."  She texted back, "go take a test."  I texted the same conversation to another of my good friends.  After all two opinions are better than one.  She said the same thing. 

So bought a test on the way home and followed the instructions.  The second line was so faint.  I texted both friends and said, "whew.  In the clear.  There are two lines, but the second is so very faint."  They both texted me back and said, "Congratulations, you're pregnant."  No.  This couldn't be.  It just couldn't happen.  I am 34.  I tried for two years with my ex husband to have a child and (thank God) it never happened.  I haven't been on birth control for 7-8 years (sorry if that is TMI).  The test had to be faulty.  I wasn't going to believe it.  I would take precautions to care for myself if it was true, but it couldn't be.  Had to be a fluke.  I have spent most of my adult life believing that I couldn't have children biologically.  I had accepted this, and jumped into raising someone else's biological children.

About 3-4 days later, I had really bad cramps, and other fun things that made me believe I was either not pregnant, or losing the baby.  M (who by the way was estatic about the news) ran out and bought me a pint of Phish Food Ice Cream and another pregnancy test.  This time digital.  This time it was unmistakable.  I was pregnant.



I called the office I wanted to use, and they sent me out for a blood test.  Two days later, a doctor had confirmed the pregnancy, and that I wasn't miscarrying it.  

I am pregnant.  I am 14 weeks along now.  On Monday M and I were able to hear the heartbeat.  No ultrasounds have been done yet, but the unmistakable "lub dub lub dub lub dub" rang loud and clear on the sonogram speaker.  I am pregnant.  We could hear the baby move around, and even brush up against the sonogram wand.  Then the noise all stopped.  The midwife explained that the baby must have moved deeper into my uterus at that point, she joked that she scared it.  M kept saying, "I can't believe how much it moves all ready".  I believe I have felt it on a few occasions, so I can believe it.  I haven't seen this child growing inside me, but I have felt, and now heard it.

According the the e-mail updates I get frequently, the baby is now the size of a large lemon, and weighs about an ounce and a half.  I however have gained a pound since finding out I was pregnant 8 weeks ago.  I am trying to gain as little weight as I can, and be as healthy as I can, so I can deliver at the holistic birthing center I want to.  I won't be allowed if I become diabetic and high risk from what I understand.  I assisted a friend of mine at a birth there and it was amazing in contrast to the three I assisted at a regular hospital setting.  I hope to have a natural and loving birth.

Three of my closest friends have known since September 25th/26th.  My mom figured something was up with me the weekend after that and I spilled the beans to her because I just can't lie to my mom.  About a week later I told my co-workers because they know me well enough, they would know something was up anyway.  I told my dad the weekend after that.  We told the girls on Tuesday evening after school (Thanksgiving break started then).  Here is a video clip if you want to see how DQ and V reacted to learning they will be big sisters in May.  It was adorable.  V kept saying she wanted the baby to be born now, and I had to keep explaining that it isn't ready to be born yet, and needs a little longer to keep developing before it can live independently from me.  Like a caterpillar in a cocoon, we have to be patient to see the beautiful butterfly.

DQ and V learning about the baby

I wanted to tell M's family in person, so they made the 5 hour trip on Wednesday, and we broke the news to them with a gift on Wednesday evening. The gift consisted of a photo frame that says "grandparents", and a picture of the girls holding up this photo:


So the cat is out of the bag now.  We have an ultrasound on 1/10 to learn the gender (hopefully) and see the baby for the first time ever.  I plan on having a gender reveal party the Saturday or Sunday after for our family and friends, where we will all learn the gender together.  This will be grandchild number 13 for my parents (a tie breaker as they have 6 boys and 6 girls), and grandchild number 5 for M's parents.



Guess I will have to change the name of my blog in the near future as the family is growing....

Aunt TT

Monday, November 25, 2013

Muffins With Mom

Friday morning, I had the pleasure of going to the school with DQ and having breakfast with her.  It would have been V AND DQ, but V was moved to another school due to her behavior the end of last year.

At any rate, DQ and I waited in line, and picked out our muffins.  She chose chocolate with chocolate chip, and I had blueberry.  We got our drinks.  She chose orange juice, I chose milk.  Then we sat down.

A few of our friends were there, so we invited them to sit with us, and we had a very nice morning hanging out with each other.

Let me back this up a little bit.  DQ has been so excited about this.  She told me all week long, "five more days till muffins with mom!  Don't forget we get to eat breakfast together tomorrow!" Etc.  Really made me happy that she was so happy to spend a bit of time with me.  Now if you keep up on my blogs, you will remember 2-3 years ago, when DQ would get mad at V for calling me mom.  Then,out of the blue, she began calling me mom.

Friday in the midst of what should have been a happy occasion, I was reminded that she doesn't really consider me her mom.  The children were all given poster board and markers to tell their moms why they were thankful for them.  The teachers took photos of the children holding their poster board, and displayed them on a projector TV in the gymnasium, so we could watch this while we ate.  It was all decorated so nicely and was so very heart warming.  DQ was pointing out her friends to me on the TV as the photos scrolled by.  Then there was the photo of my sweet girl.  I read the poster she was holding.  It said, "I am thankful for my Aunt.  She is like my mom."

My heart sank.  I realized in that moment that at home / dance she calls me mom.  But at school, she calls me aunt.  One of her friends told her a few weeks ago, "I think it's so weird that you live with your aunt."  She told me this later Friday when I asked her about calling me "Aunt" at school. 

DQ is quite the sensitive child.  She reminds me a lot of myself at that age.  She doesn't usually try to be the loudest or most visible child in a setting with other children.  She waits to see what the other kids do/say before she chimes in usually.  She likes to be accepted, and part of the crowd.  So I think she sees herself as different for not being just like "all the other kids" and live with her (in her mind) real mom and dad. 

What she doesn't understand at the age of 8, is so many children in today's world are displaced from their biological homes.  Some are in a similar situation as hers.  Some were adopted in infancy because the bio parents were selfless enough to give the gift of life to a family that could not otherwise have it.  Some children live with grandma and grandpa because mom and dad are in jail, drugs, or worse.  There are so many circumstances where children aren't at "home". 

But home is where your heart is.  Hopefully one day she will see that.  One day she will realize that she is home, and I am every bit of a mom that her mother was to her.  Some tell me that I am more of a mom than her mother is to her.  But who am I to judge that?  I am not angry at her for how she feels.  I understand.  But with all I do, I can't say I wasn't a little hurt.

V had a really good day at school on Friday.  She earned 136 points!   She starts the day off with 100 points and it was the first day all year long that she didn't LOSE any all day long.  We are so very proud of her, and hoping today can be just as fabulous.  On Wednesday last week, she didn't take her pill and instead took it to school with her.  Thank goodness the teacher found it.  So we have had to crush up the pill in a bit of apple sauce or yogurt and give it to her.  I'm really glad they didn't suspend her for it, as I know they could have.  Academically she is above where she needs to be, and is doing so well on all of her spelling tests.  Her handwriting has room for improvement, but she is a lefty, and I understand the challenges she faces.  But she seems to be doing good right now.  I should knock on wood.  Every time I brag on her all heck breaks loose. 

My next blog will be quite the exciting one!   Stay tuned!

Aunt TT

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"Moooooom! DQ said the "C" word!"

We finally got V's medicine yesterday.  When she got home from school (it was 40 degrees outside), and she comes trotting off the bus without a coat.  She comes in the house, and all serenity flies out the window.  She kicks off her shoes, flings her backpack on the couch, and starts fighting with anyone she can.

I am so tired of the fighting.  So tired of the screaming.  So tired of living in a war zone.  I don't know how M feels about it.  I don't think he likes it either.  I feel sorry for DQ, as I know she is building a resentment towards her sister because everything is always a fight.  Here I sit with the meds in my lap.  I had just finished reading all the legal jargon.  The possible side effects, etc.  I looked at M, and said, "Although we agreed to begin this on a weekend...  let's start this now.  We know it won't be in her system for longer than 3-4 hours.  Let's see if this will help."

M shrugged his shoulders and called V into the kitchen.  He gave her a handful of chips to munch real quick.  The medicine doesn't say it needs to be taken with food, but better safe than sorry right?!?!

I would say there was a difference in her 15-30 minutes after she took the little purple pill.

It wasn't terribly noticeable at first glance.  But she was better able to handle multiple directions.  Like put your coat on AND zip it up.  When before she may have been able to get her coat on, then be onto something else, neglecting the zip it up part.  She went to karate class shortly there after.  Sensi said she had the best class she has ever had, and he was quite proud of her.  Because she did so well, he let her be the shark in the game they play now and then called shark and minnows.  Where the shark has the same amount of moves to catch the minnows.

We went to therapy after that.  I watched her carefully the entire time.  She was able to sit more still, and handle direction better.  She did have a melt down because she wanted to look at the fish in the fish tank, and Susan had asked her to stop, and she didn't want to.  She had a hard time pulling out of it, but finally did what Susan asked and looked at her without having her hands in her face, and listened to Susan.  Susan promised her that if she could behave herself thru the session, at the end, she would take her to see the fish, but that V would have to uphold her end of the bargain.  V smiled, said yes, and was good the rest of the session.

There was a clarity in her eyes.  It was odd.  Like she was better understanding things I was saying to her.  I don't know if M noticed it or not.  We didn't get a lot of time to talk about it before bed time.  But I noticed.

Once home, I ran down to switch out the laundry.  Both girls were upstairs, and had just finished their showers.  I hear V shouting from upstairs, "Mom!   DQ said the "C" word!"  Now keep in mind... usually...  when DQ does something V thinks she shouldn't, V will hit her, push her, yell at her, or try to "punish her" herself.  I am sitting on a kitty litter bucket between my washer/dryer, sorting laundry, and am in shock.  Next there would usually be a scuffle.  In place... was the thundering of feet running to the top of the stairs to the basement, then running down.  The whole while, V is still saying, "Moooom!   DQ said the "C" word!"

I am thinking "C" word.  What on earth is she talking about?  Christmas?  That isn't a cuss word.  The four letter C word, that foul mouthed rappers drop left and right?  The one that is degrading to women?  My goodness... where did she hear that?  Oh my!  I am trying to clarify it with V (the 6 year old) and I say, "what C word?"  She says, "You know.  THE "C" word."  I say, "No sweetie.  I don't know what "C" word.  Can you tell me which one?"  "I don't want to get in trouble,"  she then lowers her voice to a whisper, and says, "she said Crap." 

Can you imagine my relief?  Not only did V NOT hit her sister.  But DQ didn't say a word that was all that bad.  I am OK with Crap.  I let V know that she shouldn't tattle tale on her sister, but I appreciate that she didn't hit her, then ask her to help me finish with the laundry.  You see if you keep V busy, with small household tasks, she stays out of trouble.   She loves it too.  I consider myself blessed to have a child who doesn't mind helping with house work.

We gave her another pill before school today.  I e-mailed her teacher, and let her know what is going on, what I witnessed, and asking her to keep in touch with me about what she witnesses.  Hopefully this helps.

Stay tuned to my blog two weeks from today!  Maybe I will unveil my recipe for chocolate chip oatmeal peanut butter cookies!?!?!

Aunt TT

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Christmas 1987

I was eight years old.  A few months before, I had lost my beloved Alaskan Malamute, Lady.  She died at the age of eight.  She was until her death, my best friend.  Mom always said she picked me.  That they went into a pet store just to look around one day when I was around six months old.  I was in my stroller, and they had recently lost her predecessor, Eeka.  Eeka was an Alaskan Malamute who jumped the fence in our back yard, and was tragically killed by a train.  Mom's memory of my first moment with Lady, was Lady breaking free of her handler, and bounding up to me to slather my face with kisses.  I giggled and petted her face in my pudgy hands.  Needless to say after seeing this, mom and dad left the store with a new dog.

Lady and I grew up together.  I loved her so much.  I clearly remember the day she died, I remember my heartbreak.  I remember my eight year old mentality being angry with God for taking my best friend from me before I was ready to lose her.  I remember the heartache of experiencing my first real loss.  I am tearing up as I write this, remembering how my eight year old heart ached for her to come back to me.

That year, for Christmas, mom and dad asked for our lists.  I made mine out, and the only thing I wanted Santa to bring me was another Lady.  I wanted a puppy so bad.  I clearly remember how badly I wanted that.  I made quite the eight year old plea to Santa in my letter, and I believed in Santa with all my heart that he would bring me what my heart so desired.

Christmas morning rolled around, and I tore through my gifts looking for my puppy.  Mom and dad always surprised us, making us wait to open our biggest gifts last.  I thought for sure that they would take me out to the back (enclosed) porch, and I would find a Malamute pup with a big red bow tied around her neck.  Where Santa had expertly hid her from me.  I had opened every gift, and I wasn't ungrateful for what I received, but I desperately wanted that puppy.  Last was our stockings.  In mine was a letter from Santa, explaining that he couldn't make the decision to give me a puppy, that it was something only my parents could do, so to keep from overstepping their bounds, he advised me to talk to them.

My heart broke.  I read the letter over and over, in disbelief.  It didn't take me long to realize that the handwriting was my father's.  I knew very well what it looked like from all the times he would help me with homework, etc.  I knew in that moment that Santa wasn't "real".  That mom and dad carried out the spirit of Christmas every year.  That I wasn't getting another Lady no matter how hard I tried.  I know mom and dad had good reasons.  Their hearts broke losing Lady just as mine did.  They understood better than I did that every pet's life isn't long enough.  Maybe they were trying to save me the heartache of losing another animal.  Maybe we all ready had too many animals...  I expertly brought a kitten home earlier that year by getting an, "ask the other parent" answer from both parents, which by the way... she lived a solid healthy 18 years, and was my father's faithful friend.

You may be wondering why I am recounting this painful lesson learned to you now.  Well there is something special about Christmas this year in my family.  DQ will be 9 in January.  She is getting close to the age of not believing.  I know that from things she has said, and my own experience.  This may be the last Christmas I see the wonder in her eyes.  It may be the last Christmas I see the excitement at what is left under the tree.  So that has charged my heart with the Spirit of Christmas.  Right now we are watching Polar Express.  I'm contemplating getting them tickets to a local Polar Express ride.  She keeps asking about putting the tree up, and although it isn't Thanksgiving yet, I really want to get it up.  She made out her Santa list all ready, and we are walking it down to the mailbox today.  I want this season full of delight for her.  I want to get her everything on her list, although she asked for magic dust to turn her into a Vampire... thanks to the Netflix show, "My Babysitter is a Vampire", she now thinks they are the coolest thing ever....  *sigh*  Not quite sure how to fill that request, but we will think of something. 

 DQ told M the other night that he and I are the best Christmas Gifts she ever received.  That is such a huge difference from four years ago when she was really mourning the loss of her biological mother.  When she used to yell at V for calling me mommy, because I wasn't her real mommy.  Such a vast difference.  One that makes my heart melt. 

Hopefully this Christmas will be the best yet for her.  Hopefully I can instill the spirit of giving, and help her to understand that even if a jolly fat man in a red suit doesn't climb down the chimney and fill her every desire that there is so much more to Christmas than that.  Hopefully I can make her eight year old Christmas a good memory instead of a bittersweet one like mine was.  Now to make this the best Christmas EVER!


Aunt TT

Friday, November 8, 2013

Random Ramblings from the Mind of Aunt TT

Everyone else is talking about Miley Cyrus.  I might as well.  I watched her Wrecking Ball video because I actually like the song.  I felt like I was watching pornography.  I hope I can keep the girls from seeing that video for a long time.  If it's this bad when they're young, what will it be like in 4-5 years...   *shudder*  I like the song because it reminds me of how fiercely I loved my ex husband, and how he continually tried to wreck me.  All except for the, "I will always want you." part that is.  It also reminds me that I walked away.  That I have a new life now.  One that is all ready better.

French toast sticks from Sonic taste better, but are way cheaper at Burger King.  I know SparkFriends.  This is a really bad for you food.  I had a moment where I wanted to indulge myself.

My third grade teacher is quite the amazing guy.  I'm continually shocked at how many people he knows just because he is amazing.  Like our own local celebrity... who is humble, doesn't try to one up anyone, and takes his celebrity-dom with grace and brilliance I have seen from no other.

To my friend (whom I will not name), who is struggling with depression right now.  Things will get better.  I worried about you last night, and stopped by your house, but wasn't sure which was yours or your neighbor's.  So the car sitting outside your home for 3-5 minutes was me trying to look through my phone for the address you gave me years ago.  Didn't find it.  So I drove off.  Didn't want to leave a cryptic message for your neighbor - only you.  There is a light at the end of every tunnel.  Sometimes we just have to look really hard to see it.

I nearly cried watching DQ run her solo last Saturday.  The other moms, and all the other kids were gathered watching.  It was pretty amazing.  Sure she has room to improve, but if she keeps at it, she will definitely impress the judges.  She also looked adorable (as did the other girls) in their Christmas Parade Dance.  Speaking of which - if you would like to come see the BBDC girls dance, the Christmas Parade is November 30, at 4:00p, message me and I will get you details.  It's a Macy's Day Parade style with announcers, etc.  Hopefully it will be warmer than last year.  The poor girls nearly froze their little feet and legs off last year.  I may put two pair of tights, and find some hot pad of some sort to put in DQ's shoes this year.  I was honestly worried about her being frostbitten last year.

Sometimes it is amazing to me how very much I love V, even though she can be the most rotten child I have ever met.  The more rotten she is.  The more stubborn I am.  Sometimes I feel like she is pushing me to give up on her.  Like she is self destructive, and wants to push everyone and everything away from her.  So she hurts them in every way possible.  She starts her school day out with 100 points.  Yesterday she came home with -302 points.  The week before it was -250 points.  The week before that was -148 points.  She has been doing a steady nosedive with her behavior.  She loves her teacher Mrs. S., but she has taken to being physically violent with her.  She refuses to mind her own business, and gets in trouble often for tattling on other students, or trying to make them behave.  She can not keep her hands/feet to herself.  I honestly feel sorry for the teacher, and really question if this is the right placement.  I just have no where else to put her until she is in 1st grade.  It is so difficult.

V was placed on Ritalin.  I am not happy about this, but want to do the best for her.  She was diagnosed in July as being ADHD.  They wavered a bit between that and being Bi-Polar.  Her therapist says that this will be a deciding factor.  That if the meds do not calm her down, but set her off, making her more wild and crazy, then she is not ADHD, and I need to take her straight to the hospital.  The doctor who prescribed the medicine actually wrote me a prescription with another child's name on it.  M caught it when I asked him to drop it off at the pharmacy.  So I had to call the doctor, and request the correct prescription.  She however can not call it into the pharmacy b/c it is a controlled substance.  The doctor's office is 40 minutes away from home.  So she has to snail mail an original script to the pharmacy.  *sigh*  Always another hurdle to jump.  Hopefully by Saturday they have rec'd the script, can fill it, and I can see if this will help... or hurt her.

Regardless of what happens, I will not give up on her.  She is a beautiful child, and is capable of such good.  If by nothing else but sheer force of will, I will help her.  No matter what it takes.

A little less than three weeks till my big announcement.  All good things come to those who wait.






Aunt TT

Monday, October 28, 2013

Harvard or Joffrey?!?!

OK...  So I know it's a little early to start college planning.  But it's never too early to start college dreaming.  That I what I am trying to foster at least.  V is a little too young, and her ADHD diagnosis is still too in the way to hear me, but DQ isn't.

***** Warning :  Mommy bragging about to begin *****

DQ has straight A's on her report card.   I couldn't be more proud.  When I read the report card, and the remarks the teacher left for her, I looked her square in the eye, and said, "If you do this the rest of your school career, no door will be closed to you.  You can get into any school you want, and might even land a scholarship."  She beamed at me and said, "The Joffrey Ballet school?!?!"  I was thinking Harvard, but as long as she is happy, and doing what she dreams, I will support it.  So I nodded, and reminded her that she needs to apply the same dedication to dancing as she does school to get into the Joffrey.  So very proud.

****** Bragging over.  Wasn't so bad was it? *****

We haven't received V's report card yet.  She doesn't really struggle with her academics, she struggles with her behavior.  With being able to sit still, focus, and listen.  To keep her hands to herself, her mouth to herself, and recently, has regressed back to eating non food items (glue, paper, pencil erasers, etc.).  Even when I am doing her flash cards with her, she can't contain her excitement at getting a word correct and grabs my face to kiss it, or throws her arms around me (and bops me in the lip) to hug me.  She doesn't mean to hurt me, but she's just so rough, that she does.  I understand that, but I know it's rough for her classmates to understand.  It is hard for her teachers to sometimes control.  I have been told that because of her bad behavior, she might not be invited on the next Kindergarten field trip to a local aquarium.  I am trying to see when it will be, because a friend suggested I try to go with her to minimize her behaviors.  I think it could work.  Just have to get the time off work to do it. 

When V starts her school day out she gets 100 points just for showing up at school.  As the day goes on, she can earn bonus points for doing good things... or lose points for doing bad things.  For the past few weeks, she has been coming home with -17 to -120 points.  We haven't been able to pinpoint an exact reason.  Her teacher and I have been in quite a bit of communication about everything.  Through this, I have made a very very tough decision.

Tuesday 11/5, I have an appointment with the local Children's Hospital to medicate V's behaviors.  I am hoping I have made the right decision.  I understand that only time will tell.  With an ADHD diagnosis, the methods we have been trying have not pulled her behavior up enough that she can focus.  So maybe this will work.  I am afraid.  I know many parents have walked in my shoes, and they all say that the medication helped their children, and I need to put my fears aside and help her.  So that I what I am doing now.  I really hope I am doing the right thing. 

The girls are excited for Halloween.  I haven't had time to make costumes this year.  We bought DQ's, she will be Cleo De Nile (from Monster High), and V said she wants to be a ghost.  She suggested we get a white sheet, cut eye holes, and that she would be so happy.  Love that this kid is so easy to please!

Everything is still on the right track for the big announcement I mentioned a few blogs back.  Things are going so well, that I may be able to move my announcement date up to Thanksgiving instead of the first week of December.  I can't wait to share this new development with you my readers!

Have a fantastic day!

Aunt TT

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

"I Just Miss Her"

Last night in therapy with DQ was a bit of a tear jerker for me.  Halfway through the session, the therapist called me into the room and said that she felt like they were reaching a realization.  She explained to me, in front of DQ (while DQ snuggled against me - she was nervous.  I could tell), that DQ said she misses her biological mom.  I asked her what she misses about her.  She said I don't know.

I asked her what she remembers about her.  She said nothing.  Susan said, "Nothing at all?"

"Well I remember living in a car."  Said DQ.

"How did you use the restroom?"  Susan asked.

"She would take us to restaurants," DQ slowly said.  "We slept in our seats in the car.  We lived with mamaw sometimes too."

I confirmed that by saying, "Yes.  When your biological mom didn't have a place to live she would sometimes live with mamaw and papaw."

"Do you miss living in a car?"  Susan asked her?

"No."  DQ said.

"Well what exactly do you miss about your biological mom?"

DQ couldn't think of any one specific thing.  She said she doesn't even remember what she looks like.  I let her know that if she has any questions about her I will answer them to my best ability.  That I will help her with this any way I can, but she must ask me questions, and let me know she needs my help.  She agreed.

She then started talking about memories that she had with me from when she lived with my sister.  She talked about the time (she was close to 3.5 yrs old) we walked down to an ice cream shop and had ice cream together, and she was so tired on the way home that my ex-husband ended up carrying her back to the house...  sound asleep.  She talked about staying the night at my house with her cousin D, and how they watched High School Musical, and had tons of fun together.  That was five years ago...  before my sister left.  She talked a little about when she cut all of her hair off when she was three, and how she remembers me taking her to the hair salon to try to get it fixed up.  Susan asked at that point why her bio mom didn't just do that for her, and why she called me instead.  I speculated it was because she didn't have the money at the time.  But that struck a chord with me.  She did always call me.  She did always let me have DQ for the weekend (this was before V was born, and while V was an infant).  She even let me take DQ camping 9 hours away from her at the age of 4 for a long weekend.

Susan reiterated to her that she needed to understand if DQ missed her biological mom as a person, or just because she felt like she should miss her, because she was her biological mom.  She wanted to get DQ to understand that she is missing something she doesn't even remember.  Someone she doesn't even know.  I am not 100% sure DQ grasps this concept yet, but at least I know the gears are turning, and with the right love, patience, and time - she will understand.

This was a really tough session for me.  I sat there holding this little girl that I love with my heart and soul.  I began to realize that all of her fond memories of her childhood are memories with me.  That the memories she had with my sister are mostly gone, or are too muddled, and inconsistent for her to draw upon.  In one way it made me terribly sad.  Because my sister isn't a horrible person, and I don't want the girls to forget about her completely.  But in another way, it made my heart burst with love and joy.  DQ doesn't understand, or realize it yet.... but I have given her a better life.  Had I not - she would have lots of good memories of her time with my sister.

We realized in this session that in January, she will have lived with me for as long as she had lived with my sister.  Then every day after that... she will have lived with me longer.  V has all ready hit that point.  Since she was two when I had custody of her, and she is now six.

Hopefully I can keep these kiddos on the right path.  They mean the world to me, and I really just want to give them the best childhood I possibly can.  I guess I ought to pull together a Halloween costume for them then.  I am a little behind in that department.

Aunt TT

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Orange Belt Baby!

My friend that I wrote of in my last blog who tragically lost her 9 month old daughter a little over 38 days ago has astounded and amazed me.  With every post she makes on her Allistrong page I am in shock and awe of how strong she is after suffering such loss.  I want to share her page with you my readers because even if you haven't lost a child - her words are uplifting and invigorating.

Allistrong

There is so so so much going on in my household right now.  I will touch on what I can for now. 

DQ did not make the Nutcracker this year.  One of her friends did, though and we are so very excited for her.  DQ was a little sad she didn't get in, but I told her that it is OK and if she wants we will know more to be able to try next year.  She has been working hard on her solo, and I need to get started on her costume. 

I've still been sewing for the local soap store.  I am nearly done with this project, and am so thankful for the chance to do this.  Hopefully it will be successful for the soap store owner!

V graduated from a white belt (beginner) to an Orange belt in Karate yesterday.  I am so proud of and happy for her.  She was quite proud of herself too!  She saw her belt hanging on my bed this morning and looked at M and said, "I earned that!"  I smiled and M nodded his head at her.  We are quite proud!

DQ is doing well in school right now, she is so intelligent.  V has mastered the first 16 "sight words" that she needs to know for Kindergarten, and her left handed handwriting is improving quickly.  V still struggles with her behavior, and we know that is to be expected.  We stay in constant contact with the teacher, and hope to just pull her through this.

If everything goes as planned, I will have a major announcement to make sometime in early December, so stay tuned!!

Aunt TT

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Shame on me....

It is pouring rain right now.  The skies are black.  The heavens are weeping.

I haven't been on social networking sites much recently.  There has been so very much going on in my little bubble.  I have dealt with some pretty intense things since 9/2/13.  But none as intense as a friend of mine.  I climbed on my social networking site this morning to learn that a friend from high school lost her nine month old baby on Saturday, 9/7/13. 

Shame on me for complaining about spending 10-15 hours combing my DQ's hair trying to get the lice out.  At least I could hold her in my arms when the combing was done, and she was irritated at me for making her sit for such long bouts of time... and I could tell her I love her.

Shame on me for sending V to bed early last night because she was getting on M's and my last nerve, causing every form of mischief she could.  At least I could kiss her on the forehead as she slept, and whisper how very much I love her. 

Shame on me for all of the times I have longed for my life before my children.  When things were simpler, and I didn't worry about them constantly.  At least they are alive to worry about.

Shame on me for the times I have chosen to work, clean, or watch T.V. instead of play with my children.  I should enjoy them while I have them.  None of us are promised tomorrow.  

I write this blog today with the heaviest of hearts.  I can not focus.  I can not concentrate.  I know that today, my friend will be laying her baby to rest.  I can only fathom how she feels, but I know she has to be questioning everything.  Why such a beautiful, vibrant, perfect little girl could be given to her, then ripped from her so quickly.  She is a woman of faith, and I hope that faith will be able to pull her through this tragedy.

She is also a single parent, and I know this has to be hard financially, although I am sure that is the last thing from her mind.  She has been a cheerleading coach for years, and through that, and the many other good deeds she has done, people from all over have pulled together, and created a fundraiser for her.  I am sure she is missing a lot of time at work, not to mention the unexpected burden of funeral costs....  for a nine month old baby.

I write this blog to remind myself, and anyone who reads it to cherish every moment with your loved ones.  I write this blog to raise awareness of Mindy's cause.  But above all else, I write this blog to give Mindy comfort.  To let her know that I love her.  To let her know that I am here for her.  To let her know that I want to help her in any way I can.  The only way I know to help her is to spread the word about the Memorial Fund set up in her honor, and to let her know I am here.

So please share this information on your social networking sites.   Then spend a little time with your loved ones, and hold them a little closer tonight.

TOPS Strong for Mindy

Sleep Well, Sweet Angel.

Aunt TT

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Never Give Up.... Never Surrender.

Twelve years ago today I was living with my parents.  I worked as a nurse aide at a local nursing home, and took on the project of turning the closet in my small room into a wardrobe.  I wish I had photos to add to this blog of my creation, but that was twelve years ago.  I didn't have a camera phone back then.  I don't think many people did.

I was in my parent's car port, listening to 103.9 the X (my favorite station back then), and diligently sanding every drawer front to a smooth finish that my 8th grade wood shop teacher would have been proud of.  I had purchased a template to do the dove tail joints on the corners because this was going to be done right, and I desperately wanted my parents to be proud of this fixture that would be there long after I left their house.  This wardrobe is now part of my mom's craft room, and seeing it twelve years later, it's apparent that a novice wood worker put it together, but it's the thought that counts?  Right?!?!

I was living with my parents because they rescued me from my abusive ex.  I was depressed, as I loved him, and wanted to make my relationship work with him.  This wardrobe was a project to keep my mind and hands busy... and hopefully help me recover from the loss that was so difficult for me.  But that is another story all together.

The radio suddenly stopped playing music.  Instead some news caster was talking about something terrible happening in New York City.  Saying that they were unsure what was going on, but one of the twin towers had just crumbled.  They were speaking of first responders, and of all the possible casualties.  It didn't sound real to me.  I thought it was a really sick joke.  Some War of the Worlds type of broadcast.  I kept listening for the punch line.  For someone to tell me to go get my little Orphan Annie Decoder to reveal the secret Ovaltine message, like Ralphie on A Christmas Story.

My mom or dad came out.  I can't remember which it was.  They asked, "did you hear what happened?"  I told them my theory.  Sick joke.  Wasn't falling for it.  See... I was a cynic even then!  The 2nd plane hit the 2nd tower.  I listened to the radio of the blow by blow accounts of what was happening.  I listened in shock and disbelief...  this wasn't a sick joke.  It was worse.  It was real.  People were dying.  Why???  I asked my dad, "HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN, Who would bomb the towers."  While it was happening it wasn't widespread news that it was a jihad act.  That terrorists were actually using a plane to kill themselves as they killed countless other innocents.  Most in the country were asking the same questions as I, trying to learn what was going on.  I stopped working on the wardrobe, but I couldn't stop listening.  I kept getting angrier and angrier.  This wasn't right.  This couldn't be happening.  How could this happen???

Those were my feelings all day.  Anger.  Sadness.  Being enraged.  Wanting desperately to do something to help.  Someone on a news channel announced that the Red Cross needed blood for the survivors.  They were requesting rare blood types especially.  My dad being type O- (6.6% of the American population), and myself being A- (6.3% of the American population) decided it was best we made a trip to the local red cross and donate.  I know it was small, but maybe it helped.  I really wished I could do more.

Over the next few days and weeks the truth of what happened came out.  It was a shock to all.  Everyone in the country mourned the loss of so many innocent people.  A friend of mine mourned the loss of a dear friend of hers.  Almost everyone knew someone who perished on that horrific day, 9/11/01.  I would like to think that that awful act of terrorism pulled us closer together.  Made us stronger as a country.  Made us realize how precious life really is, and how much we should live it to the best we can.  I know 9/11 means something different to everyone, but to me...  it means to never give up.  Never surrender.  To live and enjoy life, because so many lives were cut short that fateful day.

I carry this into my raising two children whom I didn't birth.  I continue fighting against everything that happens.  I continue to be a voice for V at school, trying to keep her on the right path.  I continue to make DQ do her home work, practice her dancing, and get a good night's sleep no matter how much she fights me on it.  I will not give up.  I will not surrender.

The week of Labor Day is one of the worst weeks I have had since I was in an abusive relationship.  One after another, things just went wrong.  I can not go into too much detail, but something happened on Labor Day, and now the girls are going to have limited time with their brother.  My parents have custody of their brother, so I fear that will strain my relationship with them.  Found lice in DQ's hair, and spent countless hours treating it (treated everyone in the house... bugs creep me out!!!).  Ripped the house apart and cleaned everything in fear of lice.  Basement flooded again.  I have awful plumbing.  Guess I can't complain.  it is nearly 70 years old.  Hot water heater quit working a few days later, thank goodness my dad is a genius and could fix it.  M and I had a huge fight and he was so angry that he drove to his home town....  5 hours away.  I am not exaggerating.  It was one of the worst weeks of my life.  But that week is over.  I have done all of the cleaning and damage control that I could.  I learned a lot.  I hope my kids learned a lot.  I hope M learned a lot.  And now we move on.  We never give up on each other.  We never surrender to the awful things that happen.  We hold our heads high, and keep fighting the good fight.  It is all we can do.

DQ has been asking about her biological mom a lot this last week.  I am again encouraging her to write her a letter, and ask her some of these questions herself.  Hoping to fend off any rebellious, "I'm going to find my mom" teenage actions.  DQ is doing a solo in competition this year, and her dance teacher seems to be proud of how far she is coming in it.  She said she is where she needs to be right now to compete in February.  So I am quite proud as well.  It is beautiful!  I am making the costume!!!!  She is doing well in school, and bringing home a lot of A's on the work she is doing.  She is a wonderful kid.

V is doing fairly well in the ED class at her school.  She is riding the school bus, and I am praying she doesn't get kicked off.  Her teacher and I stay in constant communication.  I really like her, she is good for V.  V has decided not to dance this year.  She is taking Karate instead, and the Karate instructor is amazing.  I can't say enough good about him.  I am really glad that fate brought us to him, and have high hopes that he will help her to be more disciplined, and less impulsive.  She melts my heart with how sweet she can be.  Just this morning, she threw her arms around me and proclaimed very loudly, "I love you mommy.  You are the best mommy."  I must be doing something right.  

Today is a day of remembrance for our country.  I hope we all take a moment to reflect on what is truly important in life, because it is so short.  My heart goes out to all of those who lost a loved one twelve years ago.  May you find peace, and may your memories of that loved one never fade with time.  May you never give up...  never surrender.

Aunt TT

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Summer Break 2013

What a wild, crazy, and busy summer break this has been.  Where to start.....

In the beginning of June we drove to MI to pick up our Rent-A-Teenager (R.A.T.) for the summer.  She has been such a blessing, and I've truly enjoyed getting to know her better.  I'm thankful to her mom for letting her come stay with us.  She has been watching the girls while M and I are at work.  I know that caring for DQ and V is not an easy job, so I commend her for making it this long.  I'm a little sad to see her go home in two weeks.

The girls had a photo shoot in mid June with the same fantastic photographer who took their photos last year.  We asked that she photograph the R.A.T.  as well, and our R.A.T. really seemed to enjoy it.  I was glad to give her that opportunity. 







Near the end of June was the girls dance recital.  It was as always a stressful day.  It was bittersweet for me as V has decided not to dance anymore, so it was her last recital.  But she has decided to do karate, and the Sensi at her Dojo is amazing with her.  I couldn't be happier with the results.  She seems to be turning into a different kiddo. 

DQ and her friend Nanoo
 
V and her friend Nanoo
 Also in the end of June I celebrated my 4th Mamma-Versary.  I celebrated this year.  The past few years I tried to celebrate, but was always held back by feelings of guilt and frustration about how I became these lovely little girls mother.  I went out for a pedicure, bought myself a new bra, and just had fun with our R.A.T. 
The Rent A Teenager and I

In the beginning of July V was tested for psychological problems.  Part of my promise to help her get on the right track.  So many folks have mentioned that they are worried about bi-polar disorder, that I had see if there was any basis to it.  After all the testing was said and done, they decided she has ADHD, not bi-polar disorder.  Which was a relief to me.   I really don't want to medicate my sweet V, and made that clear to them.  They told me that I can try to fix it naturally, and in 6 months if I would like to medicate, that I can.  I hope it never comes to that.  The long term effects of these drugs have not been established yet.  Here are a few websites I have found to be very informational, and I will be implementing as much of this as I can.  I will be overhauling the girls diets to say the least.

8 Natural Ways to Treat ADHD

WEB MD info about ADHD

ADHD Parenting Tips

Alternative ways to manage ADHD

Mid July we took a vacation!  We met up with one of my best friends (and her family of course) in Savannah for a few days.  It was such a beautiful city, and we truly enjoyed being with our friends. 


Friends

Bonaventure Cemetery
We headed to Myrtle Beach after that.  DQ's dance team performed very well, and the teens were invited back to dance in the Battle of the Stars.   They were the only ones in their division invited back to dance, so it was very prestigious.  We had a fun time, and enjoyed our hotel room right across the street from the beach.  I'm so happy we were able to do this!

In the midst of all of this, I have obtained a part time job sewing promotional bags for a local Soap Store.  The business owner makes all of her own soap products, and has for years.  She is great to work with and my friend and I are excited to be sewing for her.  We have to deliver 100 promotional bags, 50 make up bags, and 100 lipstick holders to her by November 1st.  This is a little side venture to make money for DQ and V to do what they love off of my mild sewing talent.  I only hope I can keep up with the talent of my friend whom I will be sewing with! 

I will also be doing the job of fundraiser booster parent for DQ's dance company again this year, and have submitted the list of monthly fundraisers to the owner of the company.  It will be a busy year.  I have a lot of new and exciting stuff planned, that I hope will help fund the girls dancing. 

DQ will be doing a solo this year, and we will be learning what it is on Tuesday evening.  I am so excited as is she.  She wants to audition for The Nutcracker a huge production that a local ballet company puts on, and I am waiting on approval from her dance teacher for this, because I want to make certain it will not conflict with her competition dancing, as that was her first commitment. 

I have been learning to eat cleaner on a dietary plan called Whole30.  I am feeling amazing on this plan, and will continue to follow it.  It helps with my energy levels, and with all the stuff above I told you about... I'm going to need all the energy I can get. 

The girls go back to school in less that two weeks!   I need to get started on school shopping!!

I hope your summer has gone well too!

Aunt TT

Monday, May 20, 2013

Success!!

I have two things to blog about today.

The first?  We have had I.E.P. success.  We had a lengthy meeting at the school, with the school personnel, discussing our dear V, and if she is indeed eligible or not for the I.E.P.  The therapist was hesitant because she didn't want to put a child on an I.E.P who didn't really need one.  She was concerned that they didn't have enough information (b/c V was only in kindergarten for 5 wks) to qualify her for an IEP, and she made it very clear that she could not morally put a child on an I.E.P, unless they definitely qualified for one.  I spoke up at that point, reiterating that V has been kicked out of three daycare facilities, she has been suspended for 5 days in kindergarten due to her behavior, and was pulled out of school and placed in therapy setting that is one step below hospitalization, and still not functioning as a child her age should be.  In my opinion they should have plenty of data to back up this claim.  The therapist reminded me of how intelligent V is (she tested way above where she should be even without having been in Kindergarten for a full year), and that they have to make certain she qualifies.

The parent mentor spoke up and said that they have qualified other children with a lot less. 

The special ed teacher spoke up and said that she thinks that V would benefit from being on an I.E.P. plan.

The therapist then decided that we need to move ahead with it, BUT she will be tested in a year's time instead of three years time.  Which I am perfectly fine with.  I don't want her labled and on an I.E.P. any longer than she needs be.

I also have all of the paperwork mailed back for the psych testing at a local Children's Hospital, and should have that appointment set within the next month.  Hopefully this will rule out any psychological issues, and justify my keeping her off of medications.  If she is diagnosed with a psychological issue, then I will have the knowledge I need to take care of her.

I am excited, and relieved.

Our other success?

DQ has been weepy after spending a weekend with mamaw, papaw, and Z-man.  I asked her this morning what was going on and she shrugged her shoulders.  Here's how that whole conversation went down:
Me: "You have to be able to talk to me about everything.  I can help you."
DQ:  *shrug*
Me:  "OK.  Here's the thing, I need to know if you prefer chocolate cupcakes over vanilla cupcakes.  I need to know which boy at school you have a crush on.  I need to know if you have questions about your biological mom.
DQ:  "why?"
Me:  "Well if I know you prefer chocolate cupcakes... I can make sure you have them at your birthday party.  If I know what little boy you have a crush on, I can ask Daddy not to tease him, and embarrass you.  If I know that you have questions about your bio-mom, I can answer them."
DQ: "I do have one question."
Me:  "What is it?"
DQ:  "When am I going to get to see my real mom again?"
I think to myself, "Bingo.  I knew that was what was bugging her.  She knows that Z-man will be seeing her soon, and she doesn't understand why she can't."
Me:  "I have to make sure you are ready to see her again.  I have to make sure you can handle seeing her once, and not seeing her for a while after that, because she chose to live so very far away."
DQ:  "I'm not OK with that."
Me:  "I wish I could change it, but it is how it is.  She chose to live pretty far from us."
DQ:  "Why?"
Me:  "That is where her then boyfriend, now husband is from.  That is where his family lives.  That is where he wanted to go back to.  He asked your bio-mom to come with him, and she did.  So if you aren't OK with only seeing her once in a great while because she lives so far away, may I propose another option so that we can work our way up to that?"
DQ:  "What would that be?"
Me:   "Why don't you write her a letter?  We will put an envelope with your address, and a stamp in with the letter and mail it to her, and you can ask her to write you back."
DQ:  "We don't know where she lives."
Me:  "You are right, but mamaw does, and she will give us the address.  Would you like to write her a letter?"
DQ:  "Yes.  I would like that a whole lot."
Me:  "OK.  You write the letter, and I will get the address.  I think this would be a good starting point.  Now you need to know she might not write back right away.  Don't let your heart get broken if she doesn't.  It isn't because she doesn't love you, she just might have a lot going on, and we need to understand that."
DQ:  "OK.  I will try.  I miss her."
Me:  "I miss her to sweetie."

I gave her a big huge hug.  She seemed so much happier after the conversation.  I hope I am doing the right thing.  I know that I could be setting her up for failure, but I don't have many other choices.  My sister doesn't have a phone very often - so regular phone calls would be out of the question.  This is also a test for my sister.  Does she care enough to write back on a regular basis?  She has no excuse not to with a self addressed/stamped envelope being provided for her.  This will all be at DQ's pace, because she will only have an expectation of a letter when she initiates one being written.  I will be able to monitor how this affects DQ, while still letting her try to establish some contact with my sister, and I can intervene if it needs to be stopped.  I realize there could be some fall out from this, but I'm putting the ball in my sister's court, and if she doesn't do what she needs to, although DQ's heart will be broken, she will know it is 100% because my sister isn't responding, and not because I am trying to keep them apart.

I will let the girls' therapist know what has transpired, and she can help us deal with any fallout that may occur.  This is big and scary for me, but hopefully I am doing what is right for everyone involved.  And hopefully DQ will feel like she can talk to me more, and will know that she can trust and depend on me.  If my sister writes her back, I will know that I can trust in her more, and DQ will be able to ask her questions, and get to know her biological mother better. 

We have decided to take the kids camping this weekend.  We found a nice campground near where we live that has a swimming pool AND a dog park.  So everyone is happy!  We are surprising the girls with the trip.  They have no idea what to expect yet, and I love to see the happiness and surprise on their little faces when we do things like this!

I feel like we have come so far with things, and will only continue to go further.  I hope your day today is as wonderful as mine has been!

Aunt TT

Friday, May 17, 2013

Purge

The last few years Mothers Day weekend has been miserable.  I have spent most of the time feeling guilty that I am now mother to these two amazing little girls, and feeling sorry for my sister for having made the choice to leave them.  Every time someone would wish me, "Happy Mother's Day" I would cringe.  It was almost a representation of my guilt.  I mean I took these kids from my sister.  I knowingly went to a court, ratted her out that she left them, and took permanent custody of them.  I knowingly have kept letters that she has written instead of reading them to them.  I have accepted phone calls, told brought her up to speed on things, but not had her talk to them.

Why?  Well she is just too inconsistent.  They deserve stability.  They deserve to have someone who is as constant as the sun.  Someone who will call once a week... month... etc. come hell or high water.  Someone who will write once a week... month... etc.  Not just now and then when the mood strikes them.  They deserve to know that regardless of what happens, their mom will always be there for them.  At present, my sister can not provide that.  So I have been their shield.  I absorb all of the damage that could be inflicted.  I filter out all the anger, pain, distress, and pass along only love and understanding.

My sister isn't a bad person.  She just makes bad decisions sometimes.  One of them is not putting her children first.  So as much as it hurts me to hurt her... I have to shield them from her, and put them first for her. 

Because I have resolved myself to doing what is best for the children, and I have accepted this is my walk in life, this Mother's Day was fantastic.  I spent it with DQ at the Greater Columbus Convention Center for the Starpower Talent Competition.  The girls danced their hearts out, and placed 1st out of their division for their Ballet (also winning a platinum), they placed 8th in their division for the jazz (winning high gold), and they didn't place with their tap, but they did win high gold.  They also ended up being Regional Champions for aged 11 and under, all lines, divisions, etc. for THE ENTIRE WEEKEND.  Meaning they had the highest scoring routine aged 11 and under for the WHOLE WEEKEND!  The average age for their group is 8, so they really did an amazing job.   The older girls in our dance company were also named Regional Champions for the entire weekend for routines aged 12 and up.  So our dance company was the Regional Champions!   We are so proud of the girls.



Every time someone wished me, "Happy Mother's Day" I just beamed with pride.  I guess I feel like I've finally earned the title.

V has started the "ED" (Emotionally Disturbed) program at one of our local schools.  She graduated from the day therapy program as well yesterday.  We find out the results on Monday from the I.E.P. testing.  I also have the ball rolling for Psych testing at Children's Hospital, and have mailed all the paperwork back.  They assured me that once they receive it, we will have an appointment w/in a month.  I am really hoping that her Psych testing comes back with no results, and we are just better informed to be better advocates for our sometimes difficult little angel.

In a side note, I wanted to touch base a little bit about how difficult it can be to have a relationship while parenting a child with RAD.  I've touched upon how intelligent my little V is.  How manipulative and controlling she can be.  Well she has begun using those highly developed skills to play M and I against each other.  How you may ask?  Well I will ask her to go brush her hair, while finishing my shower in the morning.  Instead of doing as I asked, she will go into the kitchen and ask daddy what he wants her to do.   He (not knowing I said brush hair), will tell her to go brush her teeth.  So she will come into the bathroom and ask me to get her toothbrush ready so she can brush her teeth.  I (not hearing M tell her to brush teeth), then remind her that she is supposed to be brushing her hair.  She then says, "Daddy told me to brush my teeth."  I'm sure you see where this is going.  This usually doesn't end well, she usually is in time out and M and I are usually upset with each other.

So M and I have had to be extra careful.  If she goes to him, he will ask her what she is supposed to be doing, or check with me before telling her what to do, and vice versa.  She is such a smart and crafty little child.  It is sometimes difficult to stay one step ahead of her!

M and I are emotionally exhausted, and overwhelmed, so my mom has agreed to keep the girls for the weekend while we head to the great sometimes white north to be with M's family for his grandmother's memorial service.  It will be nice to have a weekend away from the chaos.

The next few weeks are going to be hectic!  My parents are headed on Vacation next Friday, and we will be keeping Zebo for them.  I am trying to find child care for a few days next week while my folks are gone as school is out next Wednesday.  We have dance photos next week with the studio, then photos with a photographer friend of mine the 3rd weekend in June.  We have to head back to the great sometimes white north on the weekend of my birthday (6/8) to pick up M's neice so she can spend the summer with us and help us with the girls while we are at work.  Dance recital is 6/23 at 4:00p (Local friends hit me up, I will get you place/tickets).  In all of this I need to get the psych testing done for V, a vision appointment scheduled for V and DQ, and keep dentist appointments of my own.  Then we have Nationals in MYRTLE BEACH the week of 7/15, where we can defend our Regional Champs title!  I will do my best to keep up with writing, but life is about to get a little crazy!!

Have a fabulous day today!

 Aunt TT


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

I.E.P.'s, 3rd Competition, and Contact with My Sister.

So very much has happened since my last blog.  I have been in constant contact with V's Day Therapy program, and the elementary school we are trying to transition her into.  Through that contact and countless meetings, I have learned a few things:

-  the charter school we were trying to get her into won't accept her until she is in 1st grade and has an I.E.P.

-  if you have a special needs child, and your school district has a "parent mentor" such as ours does, you are blessed.  Call him/her, get in touch with them, and let them help you!

-  the elementary school V will be returning to is doing their best to help her, HOWEVER, they do not have the resources to effectively help her.  Their time out room has real glass windows, and cabinets, which can pose a danger to any child throwing a temper tantrum.  They do not have any extra staff that can help assist the teachers when V is having a "moment".  They just aren't equipped to handle it.  I spoke to V's therapist at the day therapy school, and expressed my concern about this because I am certain that V isn't the only child who has had these issues since the school was built.  She told me that a lot of the time, children are pushed out on "home instruction", or just let slip through the cracks.  If you have a special needs child, don't let this happen.  Please advocate for them.  It will be a long hard road, but it will be worthwhile.

-  if you have caught these issues early enough, and you have worked hard enough to help this child, it will make everything easier.

-  day therapy schools are amazing if they are used right.  If you make the decision to put your child in one, please make certain that they will do everything within their power to transition the child back into the school district, and won't just dump them back into the river and hope they swim, so to speak.  If you live locally to me (southwestern Ohio), then please contact me and I will refer you to our day therapy school.  If you don't, I can also recommend the franchise of Behaven.  Amazing place, but you must get them enrolled young (before the age of 8).  Although V hasn't improved 100% like many children who complete these programs, she has come a long way, and for that we are so very grateful!

Now I will tell you a little bit about our I.E.P. testing.  For those not familiar with the acronym, it stands for Individualized Education Plan.  This plan is made possible by laws such as I.D.E.A.  In the state of Ohio, if you suspect that your child has a disability, then you can request in writing to your public school district that they test your child.  They have 30 days to respond to your request.  I started this process in the end of March when I e-mailed the school psych and told her that my daughter was going to struggle when she starts back, and I want her tested for an I.E.P.  I also involved our school's parent mentor.  She talked with all of the important people, and learned that they were going to deny my request.  She let me know about this last Thursday, and I was heartbroken, but I knew I tried, and I can try again once they know their interventions that they plan on putting in place didn't work.  I hate to be so negative, but given her history, I have no where else to go.

We had a meeting scheduled on Monday (4/15) with the school, and the public school behavioral specialist was going to V's day therapy school to observe her.  On Monday morning before the meeting began, the parent mentor called me and let me know that the public school had reversed their decision, and would indeed move forward with the I.E.P. testing.  I was shocked, asked her what changed their minds, and she said a lot of it had to do with the behavioral specialist observing her in the day therapy program.  I believe in my heart it had a little to do with the parent mentor helping me advocate for her.

The meeting was long.  Two and a half hours long.  At the end of it I understood  even more the gravity of V's situation, and how I need to do my best to help her.  I signed all the necessary paperwork for her testing to begin.  They school scheduled another meeting for us to discuss the testing results on 5/20 (day before the last day of school).  We will begin transitioning V into the public school district on 4/29.  She will be doing 1/2 days, with me picking her up after lunch and driving her to the therapy school that is 20 minutes from where we live/work, then driving back to work.  M will then pick her up in the afternoon like usual.  It will be a hectic few weeks for me, but if it helps her transition, and makes her life easier, it is what it is.  Although this isn't all ideal, we have the right contacts in place, we are moving in the right direction, and V is happy.  That is all I can ask for.

DQ and her dance company had their 3rd competition last weekend.  They didn't perform as well as they usually do.  I don't know if it was nerves, or if it was due to being tired, bored, hungry, etc.  But it wasn't their peak performance.  They seemed to have fun, though.  Most little girls love getting all dressed up.  This competition, like the two we have attended before it, has three levels of awards, Gold, High Gold, and Platinum.  Then they have the overall awards for the category that the children dance in.  Our girls won a High Gold for their tap number, Gold for ballet, and Gold for jazz.  They placed 9th overall for their tap number.  This competition was local, but the next one will be away, and we will be staying overnight in a hotel again.

Here are a few photos I would like to share from the competition!
At breakfast before Make-up

Tap Costume - little miss attitude!

Ballet, such grace!

Before awards, exhausted but smiling!

The kids all did the Harlem Shake and other fun songs before awards.

Last but not least point in my blog (sorry this is so long!!!)

I was sitting on a couch in the 1st floor of the convention center watching DQ and her fellow dancers warm up for the competition.  She looked so beautiful.  I was so full of pride.  Then I get a text message from my sister saying, "Hey sis, I just wanted to say I love you and miss you.  I love and miss the girls.  You don't have to respond if you don't want to.  This is my new number."  Please keep in mind, I haven't heard from her since October, maybe September. 

I sat there for a second.  Thinking about the timing of her text.  Then I simply responded, "Can you receive photos?"

In no time, my phone buzzed.  I looked at the screen to see, "Yes!"

I texted her 4-5 of the photos I had taken that day of DQ.  I take a lot competition weekend.  I want to remember every moment.  She responded saying, "she is gorgeous you have done good, how's V".

I texted her 4-5 photos of V, told her she is doing well, and I am nervous because she will be transitioning back into school soon.  Her response, "That's good i have faith you will get it worked out you smart and caring :)"  Then she said, "Sis - V looks a lot like you"

She texted me a photo of Brayden, and I told her how much he looks like Z-man.  She then thanked me for the photos and said it meant a lot to her.

This all occurred around 3:00, at 8:30 after the competition/awards were all over, and we were sitting down to dinner at Friendly's, I showed mom the exchange.  She started crying.  I don't know if it was because I had a big enough heart to share all of this with my sister, or if it was because mom hopes we can mend our fences some day.  I felt bad for making her cry, but felt like she needed to know of the exchange. 

So that is where we stand right now.  I hope to keep up with my blogs better over the next few weeks.  There will be a lot to talk about with competition, school, and all the other fun things we are doing.  Thank you all so much for your support.  I haven't enough words to express what a constant comfort you all are to me.

 Aunt TT