miracles

30 09 2010

This is just a small update after dealing with all the frustrations.

The oldest child had his meds upped and we met his new CSI last night.  It’s been going really well for him.  There’s still a lot of taking a step forward then falling right back down, but when he met the new guy last night he was shy at first but by the end of the visit was giddy and playful.

It helped that Abbie fell completely and totally in love with him.  A man that is good with dogs – especially serious, jumpy dogs – is a man I’d trust to advise my kid.  I trust Abbie’s judgement and she never barked or growled at him.  She went right up to him and put her nose under his hand.  Abbie just does not do things like that.  After she responded so well, LJ started responding well.

Anyways, a CSI is like a mentor with a degree and experience in therapy.  Chickpea has one and the results have been mixed, but she likes having the extra support during the school day.  I also get more reliable information ABOUT the school day from her CSI.

I like this program quite a bit.  Mentors are a great thing but with special needs kids you need trained professionals with experience in the hard things.  You couldn’t take a normal person and ask them to deal with the things my kids go through.  Gentle support and unwavering availability won’t work.  They need advice and coping skills that WORK.  They need more than an older friend.

LJ has needed a male mentor for a while.  Shaun and I are great geek parents but as far as making friends or building social skills, we suck pretty damn bad.  We grew up wanting the same things LJ wants – friends, to be a part of something, someone to talk to who really knew us and had our backs.  We never really figured that out.

We also needed someone for LJ who could show him that he could be a sensitive male and still have male friends.  Boys at this age are assholes.  My response to boys (as a very small girl and later, small woman) was to “man up.”  I took my respect and kicked ass along the way.  I made sure that I could do anything they could do, and then I did it better.

In school, Shaun made sure he was the biggest threat around and then those who could stand up to him and WITH him got to see the real him.  The part that is smart and funny and kind.

LJ just doesn’t have that sort of camouflage.  I don’t know if I want him to get hurt badly enough to build it either – to learn to separate who he is from who he seems to be.  It’s a hard lesson and I’m not sure it’s necessary.

However it turns out, it will be fine.  He’s got a good brain and learns incredibly fast.  He’ll figure it out but now he’ll have a new tool.

Chickpea had her meds changed and she’s doing better.  She’s not as belligerent and restless, which is very nice.

I went to her parent/teacher conference a couple weeks ago and saw her work.  Now I know why her teachers aren’t that concerned with her.  Her work is head and shoulders above other kids her age.  Her handwriting is perfect.  Her Spanish is PERFECT.  Her writing skills are amazing.  Her comprehension skills are spot on.

It looks like she’s sloppy about things at home but I guess that’s just because she’s already bored with it.

She’s in a special school BECAUSE of her intellect and her knack for causing trouble if she’s not challenged.  (Sounds a lot like me, doesn’t it?)  She’s gone and blown it all away and now her challenge is in social skills.  I don’t think she cares, though.

When she got home from school that day I told her “if you keep doing work like I saw today, I don’t really care how you act.”  I’ve always believed that if you’re good at it, you don’t necessarily have to be good.  If you’re not that good at it, then yeah – your behavior is what your survival depends on.

Oddly, since that conversation her behavior at school has dramatically improved.  It may be the medicine or it may just be that she knows it won’t get a rise out of me any longer.  Oh, the joys of attachment disorders…  now she’ll have to come up with a new plan to piss me off.

The boys spent the night with my dad and we took her to get her hair cut and nails done as a reward for the good work.  She ended up having enough hair to donate to Locks of Love and she LOVES her new haircut – a chin length bob.  We went to dinner and had an actual conversation with her.  It was amazing.

This morning as we waited in line to drop her off at school, I was showing her my new purse.  Shaun was totally unimpressed with it, so I needed some girly reassurance. 😉  She saw my little rollerball perfume – Fracas – and wanted to smell it.  I dabbed some on her and now she’ll smell like Mommy all day.  She giggled and blushed.  I dabbed some on me too and I’ll smell like Chickpea all day!

The youngest had his intake to the therapy group last week and will meet with the therapists and psychiatrists in the coming weeks.  Hopefully it makes a change for him.  He’s having a lot of trouble at school in just about everything.

Last night I caught a glimpse of the little guy I held when he was 2 and first came to us.  He fell asleep in the floor before bath time and when I woke him up he was so cuddly.  His little angel face was just precious.  I got him bathed and then got his lotion on him and he kept falling asleep in my arms.  He’s so big and I can tell he wants to be small again and curl up in my lap.  It’s moments like that – moments where he’s completely trusting and relaxed – that I savor.

This morning he was snuggly.  He loved on everyone and gave big hugs and just wasn’t as mad as he’s been lately.  It seems like falling asleep in Mommy’s arms is what a lot of us need.

It’s definitely what Mommy needs!

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like a tap on the shoulder

30 07 2010

When I first started the change from Effexor to Savella, I bought several books – one of them being The Neighbor by Lisa Gardner.  There was also a David Baldacci book in that stack and he gets top billing EVERY time so it wasn’t until I was well into withdrawal – whoops – discontinuation syndrome that I picked up The Neighbor.

I started reading the first chapter and it scared me so badly I sat it back down.

Then, all this drama of the past few weeks happened.  Me and the meds.  LJ and the recurrence of the PTSD.  Trying my best to help with my sister’s wedding next week.  Chickpea and PTSD.  E being a 5 yo boy with too much energy and not enough people to torture.

Two days ago I had nothing to read in the bath (and I desperately needed a bath) except for the book that scared me.  I thought I could handle it and I put on my brave face.

POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT

Then I started reading and I found in Jason Jones the man I’m worried LJ will grow up to be.  Scared.  Scarred.  Able to love, but not able to connect sexually with the woman he loves.   Driven with need to pull back the privacy and pain he lost as a child.

I also found part of myself in Jason.  The hours online, needing to make things right.  The research.  Reading hand written notes from court cases.

See, this is how I found LJ.  A&E were separated from him around foster home #4 or 5 and he went to a group home (read: orphanage) and they went to an agency foster home.  Years passed.  Files were misplaced.  Siblings who remembered someone else being with them weren’t documented any longer.

A&E came to our home 3 days after we found out that the placement we were hoping for (we were adoptive parents with a foster care license) wasn’t going to work out.  They weren’t available for adoption – yet – but they’d been in care for so long that in case they did become available the agency wanted them to not have to move again.

Shaun and I said yes without meeting them and only seeing a file.  That Friday, they walked in to the agency, and their foster mom gave me the most precious gift she could have: her records from their time in care.  The file we had wasn’t correct in a lot of ways – their ages were wrong, names were missing, and it didn’t mention siblings.

Turns out there are 7 children that the state knows about.  The 3 oldest are with a biological father, then a middle child from another father, then A&E, then a baby who went to another home.  What happened to the missing middle child?  He would be about 7 years old from my estimation.

It took weeks for me to find his name handwritten on an old case file.  About a month to find out where he was.  Several months to convince our agency and DFCS that bringing him back to his siblings was a good idea.  I wrote a letter to the governor.  I testified in court.  I spelled my full name in front of the bio parents at the TPR hearing.

We found experienced therapists and got a new psychiatric evaluation done.  He had been classified as mentally handicapped, PDD-NOS, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and some other bullshit.  (His IQ is in the 120s and since he’s been with us he no longer qualifies as a delayed/disabled child at his school.  The current diagnosis is PTSD due to severe neglect and abuse and ODD with delays in social skills.)

I used every trick I knew to get information and I used it all.

It was because once I started looking I found I couldn’t stop.

I just finished The Neighbor and I like to read acknowledgement pages.

God tapped me on the shoulder.

I stared in shock.

Ms. Gardner had interviewed and thanked two people from the very county we adopted from.  The county where that group home is.  Two names I haven’t seen before.

I haven’t yet been able to bring justice to their doors for what happened to MY son but now I have a few more places to look and a few more emails to send.  If nothing else, maybe I can find some more files that will help with his therapy.

Tonight, I’ve left a comment on Lisa Gardner’s facebook page.

Tomorrow, I’ll start following the leads that dropped into my lap.

This is what I do.





3 weeks

23 02 2010

3 weeks is how long it’s been since I’ve posted.

That’s because the past 21 days have been FUCKED. UP.

So instead of posting, I’ve been escaping into books.  Christine Feehan, Alex somebody or other, Kay Hooper, Richard North Patterson have all been on my  reading list lately.  Now most of them are in the bathroom floor because I normally read in the tub.

My bathroom looks like this: dirty laundry, dirty laundry, basket of soaps, stack of books, stool (the kind you stand on), stack of books, basket of bubble baths, books… It’s a really tiny bathroom too, so most of the floor is taken up by a big bamboo rug so it’s not like the books are TOUCHING the floor.  They’re just sort of near it.

It’s not gay unless balls are touching, right?

Reading is my drug basically because if you need to escape from life, no one will yell at you for reading.  People are SUPPOSED to read!  It makes brain cells instead of destroying them.  Right?

On the reasons for needing an escape, it’s pretty much because life has sucked balls for a little bit.  It’s all working out now and it’s all ending up to be for the best but as all of us parents of special-needs children know – everyone wants a say in how you parent your kids.

I’m trying to decide how much to share. While I firmly believe that my life experiences could help someone who needs to know they aren’t alone, I also need to make sure the family is safe and doesn’t feel embarrassment or shame.

3 weeks ago Chickpea went through a panic stage.  We know what the trigger was – there’s a teacher who she got abnormally attached to who went to have surgery.  Suddenly, that security blanket she had at school was gone and she started having a series of panic attacks and she self-harms.  Then things got blown out of proportion by the school and we ended up having to be scrutinized by DFCS again… just like when we were foster parents.  I may as well just keep writing the reports that we used back then so that when they want to call on us I already have all the paperwork ready. *rolls eyes*  Here I thought we were regaining some privacy.

The past 3 weeks have been spent in therapy dealing with these things – what was just  series of flashbacks in one of the kids has now turned into a totally new trauma for all 3 that threatens our “forever family.”  (Like my kids believe in forever… yeah, right.) Thank God for the kids’ treatment center because they were able to give us advice and make sure the damage to the kids’ was minimized.

It still causes all these… emotions… in me that the kids had to go through this AGAIN.  Fear, panic, shock, anger, more fear, stress, grief,  more fear, and then whole lots of fear.  I just feel so unsettled like maybe I’m the crazy one in this equation.  Then when other things that have nothing to do with these events happen, it just turns into the straw that broke the camel’s back.  Migraine?  *SOBS* Problems with my parents and siblings? *SOBS* Shaun had a rough day at work? *SOBS* It’s going to snow? *SOBS*

Everything now really is looking up.  The mail-order pharmacy finally got figured out and mailed me a 90 day supply of my medication.  I visited Best Buy to pick up some stuff and ended up leaving without being mad at the employees and with the stuff we needed to get. I got my Levenger order and I’m setting up daily diaries for the kids.  I have plans with my mom to go to a ballet with Chickpea and everyone is very excited.

And I’m ready for the next Kay Hooper book in this series.  Sanity is good so I’m going to try and hold on to it.  Bibliophilia saves another brain!





Good Deal

30 10 2009

Back to a serious post… if anything that goes on here can be considered serious.   We go from OMGWTF? to HAHA-AWESOME! in less time than it takes to butter a piece of toast.

The kids are starting to get a lot of our sense of humor (finally) and we haven’t even started indoctrinating them with Monty Python and Mel Brooks movies.  They have seen Down Periscope multiple times, so that helps.  It’s pretty awesome to see them crack cynical, sarcastic filled jokes and it’s even better to see them understanding and using puns.  LJ is a LOT like me – he says “puns work because of a misused homophone.”  Absolutely child.  Absolutely.

Me and LJ – we have an odd sort of relationship.  It’s been hard for me from the beginning with him.  There was a time where we almost refused placement with him – it was that bad.  See, I’m an alpha female.  I have been since the moment I was born and everyone in my family will tell you that.  LJ, when he first came to us, was under the impression that a woman’s job was to cook and take care of the younger babies.  This woman who will never exist was supposed to see a 7 year old boy as having more status in the household than her.  (I know I’ve written before about how the household is like a dog pack.)  Well… as you can tell, this attitude didn’t work.

So, over the 2 years we’ve known him and he’s come to live with  us and become our son, we’ve been working on this.  At times I’m overbearing and at times, he is.  For the most part, he’s figured out that he doesn’t get to tell A&E what to do and I try and give him responsibility over himself.  (I do get to overrule stupid things like wearing shorts to school when it’s 50 degrees outside.)

We meet at loving books.  He loves to read and so do I.  We’d rather read in our bed than talk to anyone.  The problem is that he’s not real sure where the lines between fiction and reality are.  He told some teachers at the school earlier this week that a dragon had bitten him on the neck.  Of course, no one believed him, but the counselor called home to tell me what was going on.  He’s had some pretty big stuff come up in the past few weeks so she knew this may be something we need to discuss.

He and I sat in the car and talked while in the carpool lane to pick up his sister.  We talked and talked and talked.  He didn’t understand that the words he says to people cause reactions – no matter what you say, you’re going to get a reaction.  We talked about how if people knew he just made stuff up all the time that no one would listen to him if something was actually wrong.  We talked about believable stories – dragon bit you?  Obviously not true.  (though, it’s probably better to make up a story that can’t possibly be true than say something equally untrue but believable.)

We talked about appropriate things to share with people (conditional boundaries) and what would happen if those boundaries weren’t respected.  We talked about kids in the foster care system (when we were picking up our AA check at DFCS, he saw some classmates in the waiting room) and the different things that could cause a child to need care.

We spent a lot of time talking about severity and differences – not all kids go through the same thing he did.  For some kids, they had an easier time of it.  For some, they had a time that was much worse than his.  We talked about how everyone, everywhere has something in their past that hurts and how we deal with it determines the kind of person we are.

After all that – we made a deal.

Until November 15th, he is not allowed to either make up fantasy stories or read fiction novels.  He still has to read every night – but he gets true stories.   He’s involved in a biography of Cal Ripken Jr. right now.  I’ll probably go to Goodwill today or tomorrow to pick up more kiddo friendly non-fiction books.  If not that, then we’ll visit the local library.

Things have been moderately better since then.  He’s been meeting my eye and making jokes with me.  He’s been helpful and respectful to the little bits.  Last night, we even put everyone to bed with the sound of laughter even though it was an emotionally difficult day for everyone.  He woke up this morning and told me – amazed – “I didn’t have any nightmares last night, Mommy!”  Awesome.  Pure awesome.

This morning we talked about how to say “its not your business” to people who made them uncomfortable with questions.  We talked about whose business it is – the family’s and the doctors.

After going through foster care and adoption, this is something all of us need to rebuild.  We all need to work on appropriate levels of privacy for ourselves and each other.  We’ve all just gone through so many years of having to report every little thing by phone and in writing.  There were always people in and out of our house – I couldn’t let the laundry go or not load the dishwasher because at ANY moment, someone could pull up and get to judge our worthiness.  This is partly why I’m so open on the internet – it would be hard to rape our privacy and background any more than what it took to become a foster/adopt parent.

Now, we’re having to work on telling people it’s not their business.  Truth is, most people aren’t looking to help – they’re looking for gossip.  Shaun and I are also having to relearn to trust our own judgment.  We’re both grown but we’re too used to having every move picked apart.   That causes stress and anxiety for all of us – we can’t just relax and have normal everyday fights.  Everything is a possible catastrophe.  Everything is caused by this event or that event, and everyone has a different opinion of what caused what.

I mean, I just want my child to feel free enough to scream “I hate you – you’re the meanest mom EVER.”  Right now, we’re still all worried about what we’re saying and trying to use proper communication skills.  In foster care, if they said “I hate her – she’s so mean” to a case worker it wouldn’t be about whether I confiscated the Nintendo DS – it would be “are you feeding them properly?  Whats your discipline policy?  We need to have a face to face meeting about this placement.  I need to talk to my supervisor.”   Basically, if you get mad and immature, your whole life could be turned upside down  (and immature is probably 30% of my personality.)

I want to be able to say “I don’t even want to see you right now” without it meaning “she may not love me enough to keep me.”  No, I just need some time not seeing YOU.  I’ll get to where I want to see YOU again but first I need 5 minutes to look at something else.  Every word that I say has to be examined from how they’ll receive it and how it will sound if they repeat it or how it will sound when I tell the therapist about it (because I can’t lie worth a shit and they can tell when something is going on.)  Then the kids see that I’m uncertain and they start thinking that maybe I don’t know what I’m doing and maybe they don’t have to listen to me.   Or something.

For now, it’s just repeating “I’m your mom.  I was your mom yesterday and I’ll be your mom tomorrow.  I’ll be your mom next year and the year after that.  I’ll be your mom when you get old and have babies.  I’ll be your mom no matter what.”   If we say it enough, maybe we’ll all start to believe its not fiction or fantasy.





Caution: busy day ahead

21 07 2009

I can’t believe we’re less than 3 weeks away from school starting.  May and June were crazy months and thank goodness we’ve been able to have a quiet July.  My goal in July was to bore the crap out of the kids so that they’d be excited to go back to school.  I don’t think it’s worked yet… they seem happy to sleep in until 9 am, hang out in pj’s, and watch PBS.

I found out yesterday that the charter school Alyssa will be going to did get their pre-K charter.  I called up and they had lost Ethan’s paperwork (not surprising since his name dramatically changed with the adoption) but they did go ahead and put him on the waiting list.  It would be the best possible thing for him to be able to go to pre-K there.  Otherwise, I’m going to homeschool him during pre-K.  He’s one of those kids that does not do well in a normal school environment.  He’s not quite ADHD like LJ is but if there are other kids around who are not focused, then he won’t settle.  His brain works a lot like mine – he absorbs info, files it away as irrelevant at the moment, gets bored, then creates trouble.  So, I’ll file his paperwork with them today so that hopefully he’ll get in soon.

For Alyssa to get admission, I had to register her under her old name during the last school year.  There are only a certain number of spots available and it’s further broken down by the child’s primary language.  It’s a dual-immersion English/Spanish school and they also teach Mandarin Chinese.  Hopefully it will challenge her enough to keep her out of trouble.  Pre-K for her was like a lesson in futility.  She already knew EVERYTHING they were teaching the other kids (she’s on a 1st grade level) and decided that meant everyone else was stupid and she was therefore in charge.  With some kids, they do that and get this air of bravado and adults think “he’s going through that arrogant stage.”  With her, she really does believe that we’re all here to serve her and suggesting otherwise  does not compute.  Of course, she is smart and beautiful which means people DO line up to give her things.  She had talked her teachers into giving her 3 lunches a day, THREE!, letting her roll around in the dirt during recess, taunting other children, and basically acting like we will not let her act at home.  It’s all ok with them because she’s cute and smart and gives you those big green puppy dog eyes.  All this does is reinforce the thought that she’s a superior being stuck in a smaller body.  Or something.

There’s a reason my kids act like civilized human beings.  I don’t fall for the BS and I have no fear of saying no.  I don’t use fear or intimidation to keep them in line, they just know the expectations and they know I’m not going to back off of them.  This does mean we talk a lot about the meaning of words like upset, disappointed, unhappy, discussion, responsibility, and who is in charge.  We can actually eat a meal in a sit-down restaurant with the kids.

LJ will be going to the school across the street from us.  He didn’t get accepted into the charter school, and that’s probably for the best.  He didn’t walk or talk until he was 5 and he’s still behind in language and social skills.  Because he was non-verbal, his test scores showed that he was mentally retarded and he was held back a grade and stuck in special ed.  There’s nothing wrong with that because he did need to learn the basics but he has made so many strides since then that you’d never guess he wasn’t always “normal.”  He was in a regular class last year and recieved speech therapy and social skills therapy several times a week.  This year, he’ll still receive services, but they’ll be integrated into the class so he doesn’t get singled out or pulled away from class.

I really hope he gets a young, active teacher this year.  Last year we had all sorts of trouble with his teacher.  He needs someone interactive – not someone who hovers and scowls.  Doing that puts him on defense and he retreats into his fantasy world.  Then everyone who wants to play ball during recess is stealing his stuff and every time someone bumps into him in line means they’re deliberately trying to knock him down and get him into trouble.  This causes meltdowns and tantrums.  Then he’s scared to go back to class because he knows that’s not a “good reaction” so he does stuff to get sent out of class.  Things like picking his nose until it bled so he could go to the nurse’s.  Making himself throw up.  Stomping on another kid’s foot.

When we figured out what was happening, we started playing games at home during homework.  When learning was a happy thing and he felt safe doing it he immediately started getting better.  He was making 30’s and 40’s before we started and after he was getting 90’s and 100’s.  Still, we couldn’t convince the teacher that he’s not a bad kid – he’s a scared kid.  She didn’t see anything wrong with her methods and would tell me “I have 20 kids in that classroom!”  20?  Really?  That’s all… huh.  That’s a TINY class.

Anyways, I have to register all three for school today since their names, birth certificates, and social security numbers have all changed. So I need to get them all ready to go while I fill out the paperwork here.  Thank God that it’s all online and all I have to do is print it out.

I also need to run to the post office.  We made a sale on Etsy!  Yay!  I also had a book mooched on BookMooch, so I need to send it out.  After all that, we’ll be back home and do lunch, then they get naptime and I get to list some more lace on Etsy.  If I get a chance, I need to go out in the garage and get a coat of primer on the keys.  Shaun’s going to do the metallic paint for me since he’s got a steadier hand and has more experience with oil-based enamels than I do. I also need to clean the bird cage, our bathroom, and my workstation.

The kids are up and the boys are already in trouble, so it sounds like time for breakfast!  Have a happy Tuesday, everyone!





Society reaps its reward

5 11 2008

Now, honestly, the similarities are too obvious to miss.  Our very own public school system has taken genuis and turned it into something “criminal.”  Photography and television caused a genetic switch that turned the mainly audible and sequential methods of learning off.  More and more often, children are being born with mainly visual and spatial reasoning skills.

This is me.

This is also what has caused my oldest foster son to come with all kinds of “special needs” labels – including autism.  He played and beat video games before he could speak (no really, true story.)

Learn for yourself, and please click links.  (Right click, open in new tab or window.)  This may be the secret to your very own bad-ass child.

http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/Articles/vsl/v04a.pdf

http://www.technozen.com/manifesto.htm

If you want to know what I did to grow up, I’ll tell you.  I have a father who is a VSL and he can make anything out of anything and make it work.  His IQ is through the roof but he’d rather live right and have a family than get an “education” and make tons of money.  So, as a kid, I played with circuit boards and such… the best toys came from Radio Shack.

Out of high school, I was hired by a dotcom because I said the following sentence in my interview:

“Anything you can teach me, I can learn.”

And that’s true.  In a year, I was in a different position, pointing out flaws and security issues.  Within 5 years, I was the person management loved to hate.  “You aren’t supposed to do it that way!”  “But it works, doesn’t it?”  “Well… stop showing people.”

My last year there, I worked as an analyst to “hack” the different systems together and create a reporting system that could see all.  I loved the work and hated the people.  So, I quit.

I have one trait that you will find in between the lines of those articles: I won’t do it unless I want to.  I’m not a hacker.  I’m a non-traditional end-user.

 

***

edited to add the following for accuracy’s sake, a suggested letter to the media:

Dear Editor:This letter is not meant for publication, although you can publish it if you wish. It is meant specifically for you, the editor, not the public.

I am a hacker. That is to say, I enjoy playing with computers — working with, learning about, and writing clever computer programs. I am not a cracker; I don’t make a practice of breaking computer security.

There’s nothing shameful about the hacking I do. But when I tell people I am a hacker, people think I’m admitting something naughty — because newspapers such as yours misuse the word “hacker”, giving the impression that it means “security breaker” and nothing else. You are giving hackers a bad name.

The saddest thing is that this problem is perpetuated deliberately. Your reporters know the difference between “hacker” and “security breaker”. They know how to make the distinction, but you don’t let them! You insist on using “hacker” pejoratively. When reporters try to use another word, you change it. When reporters try to explain the other meanings, you cut it.

Of course, you have a reason. You say that readers have become used to your insulting usage of “hacker”, so that you cannot change it now. Well, you can’t undo past mistakes today; but that is no excuse to repeat them tomorrow.

If I were what you call a “hacker”, at this point I would threaten to crack your computer and crash it. But I am a hacker, not a cracker. I don’t do that kind of thing! I have enough computers to play with at home and at work; I don’t need yours. Besides, it’s not my way to respond to insults with violence. My response is this letter.

You owe hackers an apology; but more than that, you owe us ordinary respect.

Sincerely, etc.

From: http://www.technozen.com/tetsuo/jargon/jargon_69.html