Thursday, May 29, 2014

You Think?

Yesterday was the first time a professional has voiced the word that has been at the back of my mind for a long time.  She only mentioned it as an idea to consider based on our story and based on the biological history of mother, aunt and grandma.

I have not but mentioned the possibility to a few close friends over the last couple of years. I know nothing about it.

The word is Bipolar. 

This week, out of the blue, my 16 year old sent me a youtube link on bipolar. She gave no explanation and I asked why she had sent it to me. She just said, "Watch it. I think you'll find some of it eerily familiar."

Missy is definitely on the UP. She is talking NON-stop. Even while we are talking- she talks over top of us, even when she is brushing her teeth, even when she is standing in the middle of the pasture all alone. . . She's loud and insistent. She's happy and animated, though. We can live with this much easier than the depressive misery.

Her twin on the other hand, is crying at the drop of a hat. I can't ask him to do a thing without his tears. He can't see through his glasses most of the time because of the dried tear stains. He's lethargic and passive aggressive.

I'm not going to rush to find a diagnosis. I am just going to start collecting daily data on a calendar.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

It's a Mighty Competition

One kiddo had an amazing 2 weeks of incredibly happy, healthy behavior. It was downright fun while it lasted. I told Steve the kid is gearing up for a showdown, though. I have to watch myself because my fear of him taking the leap has me on edge and I am super ready to react and mostly over-react in an instinctive effort to halt the inevitable.  It's an accumulation of many small behaviors and his moments of hollering and name calling that have us on alert.

The other kiddo is suddenly on the upswing from a really, really rough two weeks. It's over the top sugary at the moment ~Kisses and hugs and exaggerated manners, but I'll take it. She's like this mostly when he's struggling.

Competition seems very much to be the drive behind these highs.
RAD seems to be the drive behind the lows.
They can only hold it together for so long.

It's hiking season!
It's always good to have friends along.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Aunt Bertha Comes to Visit

I am not sure it's worth the fight and consequently I have not been real excited about fighting it. Every day it's THE bone of contention to be dealt with.

I understand the benefits. I see the potential. He even appreciates the final outcome, but it does not diminish the intensity of the malevolence that accompanies every single

piano practice!

But I am not sure quitting is the answer. He has a similar angst against math homework, and work in general. . . and really, you can't just quit life that easily.

Today when the choice was presented, after a passive aggressive stand-off, to choose to practice or miss the bike ride and picnic planned with friends he proceeded to wail loudly instead of choosing. So it was left to me to decide.

That is when I magically turned into Aunt Bertha*. She's a little mean, kind of loud because she tends to  match the decibels of the kid and she's in your face, and means business. She's even a little sarcastic and makes faces. If he can't muster some decent respect for dear old mom, then Aunt Bertha has the opportunity to appear and take over. Truth be told it's better than the alternative name he screams at me when he's mad; "Ihateyou youstupididiot!" I am so done with that name that I  told him "no more! never again!!" But of course I couldn't stop him and so I made him call me Aunt Bertha for the rest of the day. He hates it. Ha!  But you know, you have to come up with some humor somewhere. I got a laugh out of the girls and I even had to chuckle myself and it felt awfully good to fling those piano books through the open window. Eventually  I went out and picked them up and brought them back in for another round this evening, though. In the meantime while everybody else had a grand time at the park biking and eating ice-cream, Buster Brown was mowing. He wouldn't exactly cooperate, so I had to walk next to him giving orders at every swath. He completed the lawn and the orchard. The self-propeller on the mower is broke so it was tough, hard work for a skinny kid, but there's no better way to grow muscles than by good old fashioned work. We shall see if it builds willingness in the brain for the simpler, daily task of practicing two or three little songs each day.

** Hopefully I am not offending any Bertha's reading here.  I picked the most unused, old fashioned name I could think of off the top of my head and it just happened to be Aunt Bertha. As far as I remember I have never met a Bertha in my lifetime, but you never know...

Friday, May 23, 2014

Scavenger Hunt

I wanted the year-end choir party to be different. I get tired of musical chairs.

I thought and thought and thought... and studied pinterest until I was going cross-eyed, but I finally came up with a scavenger hunt that wasn't your typical "find a feather, collect a pinecone, and pick a red flower" type of treasure hunt. About the time that we were planning all this Brianna's friend on the other side of the country texted her and said, "I have to plan a scavenger hunt for the kids at campmeeting. Do you know anything about planning a hunt?"

Well, maybe just a little. Therefore, you will get the whole nine yards here, so if you ever decide to plan a scavenger hunt for your brood it shouldn't be too hard to execute. :-)

We started off with clues that had Bible verses and scrambled letters that led the kids to the potting barn where in an earthen vessel (clay pot) were the maps that Brianna had helped me make.   The Bible verses were:

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels
that the excellency of the power may be of God, 
and not of us. 
2 Cor 4:7

 I will instruct thee and 
teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: 
I will guide thee . . . 
Ps 32:8

Our hunt had a hiking theme.  Each of the things they would find would be something they would need on a hike or camping trip; a backpack, walking stick, light, trail mix, water bottles, maps, mountain money :-), matches, etc...

We had one crossword puzzle. You can easily make crossword puzzles online. Just type: Make your own crossword puzzle into Google. Ta- da! So, so easy!! free, too.

We had a word search: Word search puzzles are just as easy to make online. Type: Make your own Word Search puzzle into Google and it's as simple as figuring out what words you want to use.

I use Bible Gateway for finding the verses in the Bible that make good clues. Then I copy and paste and print.

We folded some of our clues into shapes... There are a ton of origami tutorials online. One of ours we folded into a flower which was really the fortune cookie fold and stuck them on wire stems in a flower pot.

We made some rhymes and used this site to help find the right words:

We also wrote Bible texts that had to be looked up in "invisible ink" which was only white crayon on white paper. We provided dark markers for them to rub over the words to reveal the texts to look up. You could write with lemon juice and such, but then they need a way to warm the paper and for our crowd that was too much.

I was suppose to take photos which was nigh impossible.  You see the sum total of my pictures! Bri was to take video and she then made this little 3 minute clip for the kids when she was done.

Obviously, we are blessed. Such wonderful kids and such a beautiful country to live in!

What I learned:  that our kids need to play more TEAM BUILDING games. *smile* and that instructions need to be super duper clear! But the kids had fun, I think, and it would be worth doing again.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Capturing the Team Work via an Iphone

Smoothing out the tomato patch

James weed-whacking the long grass on the banks

Missy picking up trash from the burn pile that didn't burn (strips of metal, cans, and nails)

Stretching out the water lines
taking a break!

lining up the rows
and this is a sneak peek at a couple of maps for tomorrow's  project.... stay tuned. :-)

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Putting on the Miles

The running with the twins is paying off. They managed this back road trip up and down the hills between our place and town (10 or 12 miles) with no trouble.We met at the park for a picnic.

Brianna has not acted like she has jet lag at all. She went to bed that first night and slept all night. The next day she and I walked about 5 miles in all and had a very busy day and she slept all night again. Today she was up all day and did this bike trip. One would expect her to be waking up at early hours wishing for breakfast, but so far so good. I think the exercise helps a lot.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Some Ducky Turned 2!

This little man sat at the table about ten minutes ahead of everybody else and declared, 
So cute!
He was so pleased with blowing out his candles 
and the singing and the clapping that we had to do it twice!! 
He kept saying, "Again, Again!!"
Big brother kept saying, "It's my birthday, too!!"

I love these kids.
I'm heartbroken over their circumstances.
Life is not fair and these guys have a very large portion of unfair.

It's so hard to sleep at night when I worry about them.

Please pray.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Child Betrayed

I stopped by to drop off some medical cards I had forgotten to give the grandparents when I had brought the little boys to live with them. I was not expecting to see oscar in such a state. Broke my heart. I expected him to be happy to see me like he was when I dropped him off, maybe yell, "mommy, mommy" like he always did when I came into the room, or at least repeat, "hi, hi, hi!" Which is characteristic of him. Instead he came out in the porch with a blank expression and uttered not a sound. I said, "hi baby!! Can I have a hug?" And he lifted his arms with a pitiful whimper and laid his head on my shoulder and didn't move. I felt like I was holding a live baby with a dead spirit.... I've seen this before in a babe a few months old being passed between his mom and me. I didn't expect to see it again... Utterly Heartbreaking! "I'm sorry", I said to the great- grandpa as I hand him the weeping babe (not his usual lusty angry cry, but a heart wrenching deep and almost silent cry), "I'm sorry!" 
 Ugh! This world of neglect and addiction is a horrible place for children. 
I feel like the betrayer of that little boy's heart. He trusted me and now he's in shock over the move.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


We're playing detective.

Missy hasn't been eating her lunches very consistently in the last two weeks. For a child who normally inhales any and all food we are finding this weird.

She's been acting sick, too, and lethargic.

I found evidence of a cafeteria food purchase in her folder today. . . but when I called the school to ask about it it seems that some of it has been paid up and all that is owing is a $1.25. I knew about the dollar already. But I have found a bill for as much as $3.25 from three days ago, so we are not talking mega purchases or anything..... :-)  BUT it's still too weird.

I'm thinking the chocolate milk and the hamburger she admitted to buying might have contributed to her tummy issues. She is a vegetarian... or shall I say, WAS!!! And she can't drink dairy.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Three Days

We can do anything for three days, right?

So, the little guys leave Friday. It would have been next week, except when I told them I would need respite for the weekend because I was taking the girls to the women's retreat, they suddenly went into high gear over moving the boys before the weekend. Whew! I knew it was my best playing card and I saved it for the perfect moment and it absolutely changed the whole scene around. I went home from the mtg all excited to tell Pieter he would be moving to Nana's house on Friday...  Only to drive up and find Vanessa trying to help Oscar with a big bloody nose because Pieter had kicked him in the face, and Pieter sitting in a big pile of poop because he had been put in time out over it. He's retaliatory like that. Sigh... Three days, three days... We can do anything for three days!

The little guys' mom has to move out of Nana's house in order for the children to move in with Grandma. I was disheartened to see her reaction was one of self-pity because she is now "homeless".  There was even an offer of a place to stay, but she said no and wanted to feel sorry for herself.

It was good to see the dad as excited as a teenage boy (if he's not a teen, he's not much more than that) that he got a job and it involves driving forklift. He's so proud. He's doing everything right and it's gratifying to see how well he looks and the sparkle coming into his eyes.

James is really, really benefiting from the daily run!  Yesterday Steve had to be at work at 3 AM so obviously they did not go running to start off the day. James really missed it. It has taken a few weeks but I think he's feeling the benefit of the endorphins flooding his body first thing in the morning. He has been so cheerful and good natured and engaging. He is thrilled with his report that he is writing for his school wax museum project. He cares about getting his homework done. He also cares that the other kids make fun of his shoes during track. He wears supports in his shoes and so he wears sturdy "hiking" style shoes, but I'll get him a pair of runners if it will make things easier for him during track and field.

Missy on the other hand.... sigh. She's faking so much we can't tell what is up and what is down.  Is she sick or not? It seems like she's sick for convenience sake and is not contributing much to life right now. She is fine enough to go horseback riding yesterday, but not fine enough to practice her music. It took her one hour to get the violin out of its case. She was not "Well" enough to go running this morning, but well enough to go on a school field trip. My thought is that we might be dealing with some sort of depression mixed with faking to get out of the things she doesn't want to do, or that she could have a touch of the stomach flu.... but it's awfully mild and lasting forever and I can't be sure. She's a complicated kiddo and  a conversation will only get us nowhere.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Bits of the Day

Today is the FTDM on the little boys. Wondering if today is our last day with them. It sounds horrible, but the issues are monstrous and so wearing us out that we have kept telling each other, "We can do ONE more day! We can do anything for ONE more day!"

Yesterday was actually fairly easy, though. Steve took the twins and Pieter to the church work bee. I kept the little guy. In the afternoon the kids had naps (except James, of course) and then James played with the baby very nicely for a couple hours so the girls could study and I could work in the greenhouse and his brother slept. It was kind of fun to watch James come up with some creative ideas to keep the babe happy. He's come a long ways. Missy had stomach issues and stayed on the couch most of the time.

Missy has been sick and we haven't been able to figure it out. We thought she was moody. Then we noticed that the last few days she has been disconnected and blank. Even when other kids were around she was BLAH. I was watching her closely, because she had had a major tantrum on Friday and was thrashing around on her bed trying to kick me when she suddenly reared up and hit her head  really really hard on the top bunk. It was enough to make me sick to my stomach. It didn't end her tantrum so I figured she was fine, but I knew there was a possibility of a concussion. It came clear that she had a stomach bug, though, and I have it today, so that kind of ends my worry.  But she really doesn't have any weight to lose and she hasn't had an appetite for more than a week. She was slower than a snail getting moving today,  so I told her that I would assume she was still sick and keep her home if she couldn't get her jobs done in 15 minutes.  She spent the first 5 minutes doing NOTHING and then rushed around like a maniac screeching and hollering for the last 10 and made it out the door. Whew. that kid!

I'm holding myself aloof from the drama of Buddy's family. It's not easy, but I can't go there. I'm holding my boundaries tight. I'm convinced our only hope for those kids is in what God can do and I'm praying for a miracle of grace. She is clean at the moment.

I signed up the girls and I for the women's retreat day next weekend. Looking forward to it so much!!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Heart Broken Rant

My last post is pretty much devoid of feeling and emotion, it was just a brief outline of the events of our crazy life for the past week, but it really doesn't portray the heart of it or how we've been affected down deep.  How does one even put it into words?

The fallout of continually dealing with deceit and lying, attention seeking, manipulation, substance abuse, and unkindness is not pretty. We are surrounded by this. I can spot it in a child a thousand miles away and I have no time for it at all or patience. I straight up tell them what I see and tell them what I think of it, which backfires a lot of times in RAD kids. ie... "you just told me a lie and lying is not acceptable, so you need to sit right here in time out!" So, the child sits in time out and  poops his pants. Argh! In an adult it's much more complicated. I am not comfortable pointing out a lie and I don't necessarily recognize it immediately, but I am getting wiser and more cautious. We have had to set boundaries that say, "this far and no farther." But some of the lines are blurred even to me, because what if there is something one could do to change the heart of the situation?

Someone said to me recently that it is wise not to invest in someone more than they themselves are willing to invest in themselves.  True for adults. It just doesn't work for the kids, of course.

Our saga is not over (we have three sagas going on at once and I am sure I'm confusing you all, but some things should not be written). I just received a call from some concerned person, even as I am typing here, that things are NOT right with the parent even though all appears to be under control. The likelihood of it being A-OK is next to nil and the children are bearing the brunt of the destruction which is intolerable but how does one go about rescuing the situation? The oldest kiddo is suffering all the way down to the youngest and that baby might as well be mine for the bond that is between us is pretty tight. I'm broken hearted for all of these people, - children and adults, even if I'm short with some of them for frustration and helplessness to turn the tide. There is only One who can save. I remind myself that He has to be way more grieved than I am in the choices that throw the innocent and not so innocent into deeper and deeper pain.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mayday! Mayday!!

It's been a very eventful week and a half. I don't even know where to begin, so I'll just start with the mild stuff.

A store owner in town called me up and asked if I would sell him my tomato plants and so I spent the day transplanting and organizing an order of 100 plants. He wanted three of each variety. Keeping that all straight is a challenge as the names all start to blend together after awhile; Big Boy, Beefy Boy, Big Beef, Super Beefsteak, Steakmaster, Super Boy, etc, etc... until I don't know what is what!! All the plants were doing great and then this heat hit and wow, I could NOT keep up with watering. I was watering three times a day and each time takes an hour or more.  I had to get them transplanted quick into bigger pots so they wouldn't dry out so fast. Finding enough pots was a problem though, and then a friend brought me a pile. I cut down each landscape style pot to make it into an 8 inch pot. Tedious to be sure. There's still a hundred or more to transplant tomorrow. Buying pots would eat into the profits therefore we are actively recycling anything that looks remotely like it might do.

BUT here's the cool news. The store owner who called me asked if I would be interested in  planting especially for him next year. He would provide the soil and pots. I had spoken to him earlier in the year and he was telling me about how he was renting space in a greenhouse for his plants and he was recommending that I could rent part of it also. My greenhouse is small and unheated... Well, next thing I know I heard from a friend a few hours away that he had inquired about buying her plants because ALL of his had died. She sent him my way since I was local. I asked how his plants died and he said the heat had been turned off over Easter Weekend and all the plants died of shock. It's interesting since we don't use heat at all and only cover the plants at night with a frost cloth. It gets down to 35 degrees and they don't even wilt. If it gets lower than that I carry them all up to the house to be sure, but I haven't had to do that but once this year.

Yesterday James had his first Mental Health appointment. He's been sweet and happy and then suddenly he explodes. He has taken to slapping me along with the name calling. Missy gets to go in a couple weeks. She's not like James, just kind of a miserable and whiny and crying a lot. She stopped eating her lunch at school and I can't figure it out even after talking to the teachers about it. I started just sending her a banana and a pear.... She eats it all now and wants a regular meal, but if I send a regular meal she eats the treats like the granola bar and stuff and the rest comes home in her bag. She also fakes sick after school. The teacher says she's fine at school. When I mention violin practice, or any household chore she's very, very ill.  At school she is doing well and she even earned recognition for awesome effort and behavior. 

Things really came crashing down around us last Friday. We had been really, really working with the past foster family. We did everything we knew how to help and things only spiraled beyond control and finally I reached out for help and together we planned an intervention.  I ended taking the 4 children home with me when it was over. Someone else took the mom home with them. Talk about a stressful event. It was hard and painful.  BUT she was not as willing to receive the help as she had us believe and things were much worse than we ever dreamed. The next day a group of us then pretty much forced the mom into a detox center.  There was a ton of drama, but I'll spare you. Our family has learned much, oh so much more than we ever wanted to know. The total number of kids in our house was overwhelming and I was quite sick with the stomach flue. By that evening the children's father showed up and he took all but the baby who refused to leave me.  From the next morning on he had all the kids and I just helped him when he went left for  work . He called me often for advice.

Somehow the whole crazy few weeks and the interventions and the confrontations and the childcare and the disappointment left us all drained.  My fb post that day: The entire family is dragging today. We are fried, burned, disappointed and grieving. I don't think any of us harbor regret, though, except that we are now very acquainted with this world's painful tragedy on a new and deeper level. We did ALL we could when there was a chance we could make a difference! We gave it everything we had. It's been a day of processing and figuring out where to draw the lines and how to help those who can be helped and how not to be a part of enabling. It is humbling to find out "helping" sometimes was really just giving opportunity for more destructive behavior. Our focus on the situation is shifting to what we can do for the kids and to referring what we have learned we can't do to a third party. This was bigger than anyone ever realized. We have learned much. Tired. OH SO TIRED.

The mom is no longer in the detox center. She is starting to think more clearly and is attending outpatient treatment. The fallout from everything that went on is they face eviction from the house, and a lot of other stuff.

In the middle of everything our little fosterboys got themselves kicked out of daycare for good just after  I had called DSHS and asked them to find a new home for the kids. They understood our exhaustion and our story, but could not find a home. They even went to another agency and there are NO homes available.  NONE! They even tried to find respite for us this weekend and failed. As it stands they are probably going to place them with a grandmother who lives with the mother the children were taken from.  Not sure what to think about that. Pieter's behavior is painfully difficult moment to moment. He is classic RAD. Today he chopped off his hair at the bangs. I can't figure out what he used because of course, he "didn't do anything." So he won't tell me where he got the scissors or whatever he used. It's all a mirage. According to him there's no hair missing. I laughed and laughed, somehow, though, he didn't find it funny at all.

We have a choir concert this weekend at our church. James is pretty stoked about playing in the bell choir.