Thursday, November 17, 2016


We are at a transition stage in our family.... The girls are grown up and moving on with their lives.

Christina (19) is in California studying at Weimar College. It's the perfect place for her. We love it. We love the experience she is getting and the friends she is making. She will be home for Thanksgiving and we are looking forward to that with great anticipation.

Brianna (21) is in Peru. It's the perfect place for her right now. The experience is full and meaningful and exciting. She gets to use so many of her talents. She took a violin with her (not her best one) and is making it work hard, she took all her photography equipment and she's capturing children living life, she is working hard with the PT team and watching a grown man who hasn't walked since his vaccinations as a small child learn to walk again, she's sharing the gospel with people who need to hear and it's very fulfilling. Out there in the wilds of Peru she's busy, happy and practicing her Spanish. She will be home for Christmas. 

She's complaining about her hair in the high humidity. lol

Vanessa (23) is getting married! I could leave it at that. She is so excited and knee deep in wedding plans and looking forward to living forever with her man in New Mexico, BUT she's also in Peru with Brianna. She is preparing the way for our church group to go and spend 10 days in Peru on a mission trip. I will join the mission trip and come back with both girls in time for Christmas. 

James (12) is homeschooling. Right now he has a postcard project. He is collecting postcards to fulfill a requirement of the Postcard Pathfinder honor. Pathfinders is his favorite thing! We are very grateful to have such a fine club in our church. (anybody want to send him a postcard?) I have not pushed him ahead in his school work but have continued to go over our basic foundation of knowledge. I tested him in math and could have put him in 5th grade but decided to start him again in 4th. In one month he finished HALF the course, however the second half is going a bit slower. His slow processing makes it important to go over information many times to get it locked in. He's a different kid from a year ago. SO, so thankful. Mostly he's happy and interested in life. We don't have enough time in a day to do all that he wants to do.

Missy (12) is in special ed public school. Since she is on medication life has been easier, but she is still RAD and she is still determined to have her own way. An example would be last Friday she helped with house cleaning very, very well. It was veterans day and there was no school. I had 3 extra kids that we had been babysitting for 11 days and their house (just down the road) and our house was showing signs of too many children and not enough cleaning. So, I wrote out lists for each child to accomplish. I had to go with the other kids to their house while the twins worked on ours.  I could find NO fault with any chore Missy or James accomplished. It was amazing. I rewarded all the kids for their hard work and they had free time. At one point I had a small basket of clothes for Missy to fold. She folded part of it then decided she was done. There was no changing her mind and she eventually started screaming. She had a tantrum and threw things for a few hours. I tried to reason, I tried to have her make a choice. I eventually put away the basket of clothes but the tantrum continued. I told her clearly that if she couldn't pull it together she would lose the privilege of marching with the pathfinders at church the next day. It made no difference. The next morning she asked for her Pathfinder uniform and I gently, with my arm around her shoulder reminded her of her choice the day before. And thus began the tantrum that lasted on and off most of the day. After a real traumatic sort of day (of her own making ) this kid reverts back to ALL the mind games and RAD sort of manipulations and button pushing she knows. She had a visit with the therapist as we went over all the happenings and she was able to maybe process some of it, if nothing else. There's a Pathfinders club meeting tonight, so the last two days she has been on better behavior.

This is her happy place. But the season just ended. No more lessons until spring.

After babysitting those 3 extra kids for the 11 days I decided I'm ready to do something else. I still enjoy having the Smith kids on Saturdays  and I often pick up Drake to spend with me extra while his siblings are in school. He's still the cutest thing ever and a very loving child. He loves to come to Auntie's house and won't go home until it's dark! I look forward to having nieces and nephews over in the summer, but apart from that, I won't likely do fostercare or take in lots of kids again. This house will still see plenty of kids I'm sure... I'm just being honest about what I can and cannot handle as far as parenting goes. I told Vanessa "don't put me in charge of any kids' projects in Peru when I get there. I'd rather feed the multitudes than run a VBS program at this point".  With Missy's needs we will never likely have an empty nest, though sometimes that looks like it would be exciting. (lol) I'd love to see Steve home more, but we are in a place with where he needs to work overtime to keep us up to date so as not to have college debt for the girls and to pay for weddings, etc... :-)

Friday, October 28, 2016

Where Has the TIME GONE!!

It's been awhile, hasn't it.  AND SO MUCH has happened.

Right off I'm going to tell you that the kids are doing quite well. A year ago I wouldn't have believed it possible that we could have this level of peace in our home. It's not perfect but let me tell you it is SO, SO much easier to live here now.

James is maturing. Growing physically, too. He and I took a trip to Utah for over two weeks. On the way down no one at the airport questioned that he was 12, but on the way back airport officials questioned his age and commented that he looked 13. One time they even handed him a pass to hand to the TSA worker so he wouldn't be questioned on his age again. Kids 12 and under don't have to take their shoes off, or show ID. . .

James was giddy about flying in an airplane. He talked to everyone and anyone who would, or would not listen to him. I kept having to shush him when it was awkward for other folks. He's not the least bit shy. By the trip back, though, he was calmer and enjoyed it for himself and didn't have to pour his exuberance all over the rest of the travelers.

We went to visit my mom at Daystar. It's a boarding school in Castle Valley near Moab. The farm is beautiful with amazing Utah scenery.  We soaked in the sunshine and 80 degree days.
James got right into the routine with the students at the school. He showered, ate breakfast and went to Bible class and then followed everyone to the farm where they put in a good morning's work before lunch. After lunch they go to classes so that is when he did his homeschooling. On the farm he weeded, and picked, washed, and packaged vegetables.

He drove the John Deer gator, he ran errands, chased cows, threw hay, loaded up firewood, etc... whatever the students were doing he did to the best of his ability. He LOVED it!  We went for a moonlight hike to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park when the moon was full, and again the next day in the daylight to watch the sun set. We hiked, climbed mountains and sought out dinosaur tracks.
There was a half Marathon that the school was providing assistance to right near by. James volunteered to help in the parking lot. Each car was guided into it's specific spot as there was limited room and it was an odd shaped parking lot in the dessert. James was beside himself with joy flagging those cars into their spaces. He worked for 6 hours straight. They offered him hot chocolate and donuts and other foods and he would have none of it, because he had a job to do and he wasn't about to miss a single car if he could help it. He parked hundreds of cars and his nose burned to a crisp, but he was as happy as a clam.

I saw an amazing amount of learning going on in that kid's head on that trip. He enjoyed every minute and made everything an opportunity for growth. I was very thankful for having seized the window of opportunity to go. There's plenty of pictures and enough experiences from those two weeks to write a book. That's James' project. I have him set up to make a book with Anything to have him write  - an it doesn't even feel like school. He's also busy writing letters to all the people he met and thanking them for all that he learned from them. He actually writes interesting letters. Who would have thought!

So, Missy, on the other hand, WAS not thrilled about our trip because I didn't take her. She is not homeschooled and she absolutely needs her school!!! It was the break the twins needed from each other and a nice break for me and her. She was jealous as all get out, but the girls tried to make her life enjoyable with baking and such.

We saw a dive in her behaviors for a bit but she is leveling back out. Even the school noticed the dive but she really, really does try her best at school to be engaged and cooperative and to do her best. We are thankful. I couldn't be happier with the school and what they are doing for her right now. She missed the bus a couple times, but for the most part getting her out the door is a breeze. If you have been reading long, you know this is a major accomplishment for her.

I don't know if I wrote it here or not, but we recently got the diagnosis from a medical professional that Missy has RAD. I am glad if only that people stop saying she is just dealing with ADHD. No. It's much bigger than that. She is dealing with more than a full plate of stuff. RAD, Developmental delays, plus, plus. People are taking her more seriously and it's helped a whole bunch. For one the thing the medication Guanfacine is really helpful to her right now. It has taken her off the edge of the cliff and given her a chance to experience life more fully.

She is growing tall. The pants I bought her this summer are already showing her ankles... She's trying hard to be clean and tries to fix up her hair a bit. Her favorite sport is arguing so it's pre-teen behavior mixed with toddler behavior and you get yourself a sassypants! What can I say?

All the testing done at the school was not too encouraging. She is operating at her max and her IQ scores are very, very low. She's doing the best that she can.

I am still praying fervently for the hearts of these kids. That's all that matters in the end.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Tightening the Grip

Buster Brown did have a very long and difficult day yesterday, but before Steve left for work mid-morning he had laid down the law pretty firmly. James had a huge mental block over the expectations but Steve left with strict instructions that nothing was to change until he came home. By mid-afternoon James and I were working together and he seemed to be softening and while he could not do a single thing without repeated instruction and constant vigilance from me he was slowly losing the hostility. I cleaned the garage and James worked on cleaning up a firebreak directly behind the garage, so it worked well for me to be close by.

Surprise of surprises, Missy came home in a good mood and she pitched in and worked along side us.

Strict vigilance may be the key to getting this boy back on track. Praying for wisdom.

I'm so excited to be going to a women's retreat on Prayer!! It's 5 hours away and though I invited no less than 5 friends to come along, no one is available on short notice, so I shall enjoy the ALONE time and treasure every second of my break. I'm so very excited about learning more about prayer and praying with others.

Monday, September 12, 2016

A Struggle

My plan is to homeschool James. Unfortunately, all the ground we gained with him this summer is gone. Anything anyone asks him to do he will NOT do. Period. For example I asked him to do a task yesterday morning before he could work on changing the tire on his unicycle. He came back and said he did it and he got started on the tire. I went and checked and it wasn't done. This game went back and forth all day long, interspersed with long periods of screaming and stand-off. I had a care-giver for a few hours so I left the house. He continued the game.... I didn't come home until Steve could come home and he had just finally done the task. A 15 minute job at the most. If Missy hadn't been doing the same trick half the day, too, it might have been easier to handle. I was just so discouraged. How in the world does a person homeschool  a child who won't do anything I ask whatsoever?! I thought perhaps it was just me, but dad is home this morning and James won't do his barn chores. In fact last week we found he had not been feeding the chickens and telling us he was. There's no rhyme or reason. I may have to send him to the school, but he gets livid when I bring it up. Sorry, buddy, but a 12 year olds job is school.

I'm praying. That's the hope I have. I can't go on what I'm seeing because there's not a grain of sand's worth of hope in that.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Speaking My Mind to Behavioral Social Worker


School barely gets started and it's a holiday! I never quite understood why it's planned that way.

Missy is loving school and her three paras-pros and teachers are happy working with her. They don't have her in the self-contained room all day and after visiting the room the other day I can see why. There were two other kids in the room, two boys,  and they were not even close to the level of cognition that Missy is. She goes to PE and choir and a regular science and maybe a regular English class with a para-pro and the expectations are adapted greatly. She also goes to the resource room. So there is a lot of variety and a lot of movement in the day to keep her from getting bored and I think that may be a safeguard to keeping her from sinking into negative behaviors. The special ed teacher is amazed at how Missy keeps track of time and knows where she is suppose to be at all times. This, of course, does not surprise me. Hypervigilance is her specialty.

The first day she ate almost NOTHING at all. ~Nerves, I am sure.

The second day she ate everything I sent. ~Starvation from the day before.

The third day she ate everything except the fruit and veggies. ~An attempt at having a say at what is in her lunch? IDK. We'll see.

She is pale, WHITE as a sheet since starting school. I imagine her anxiety and nervousness is through the roof. Nevertheless, I'm a tad concerned as she is on a new medication. She denies that she feels sick or tired or anything.

The school has 30 days to test and evaluate Missy before coming up with her IEP. So, now I hope that the 30 day respite does not happen until this phase is complete. Also, her special ed teacher is due to have a baby in thirty days, so that plays in as well.

1st day of school. (before she got pale)

Behavioral Therapist Encounter

We had a visit to Missy's behavioral health social worker. It was our 3rd visit. The woman took Missy to her office and left me in the waiting room most of the visit. Of course, I'm sitting there thinking about the articles I've read on individual therapy and how harmful it is to kids with RAD, but I'm stuck. I can't get help in this town unless I go through the hoops and this is the hoop I'm facing. Of course, we don't have an official RAD diagnosis, either because, you know, I haven't been able to get anyone to pay attention and evaluate her, so I'm also thinking of the articles I've read how RAD is often misdiagnosed as ADHD. Missy, of course, has been diagnosed as ADHD and I wonder if the meds she is on for that doesn't work, because that's not actually her problem.

At the end of their time together she invited me in to see what they had talked about the and the pictures they had drawn, etc... I saw at a glance exactly what Missy had done, but I said nothing and just listened and let the therapist tell me everything from her point of view. First was a picture of each of our family members. Each person that Missy has a "great" relationship with was circled and there were things written about what kind of activities she does with each person. James was not circled. On it was written "Mean" and that sort of thing. I was circled and the activity listed was shopping. The therapist went on to tell me how wonderful Missy thinks our relationship is.  Finally I said, "this picture is our goal. This is not reality.  Only a part about her relationship with James is truth... she could care less about that, though."

The therapist was a bit startled. I said, "This is why we are here. She does NOT have a great relationship with me. There is no truth to that. This is NOT reality. She is telling you everything she thinks you want to hear! Furthermore, all this cuddling up to me and being sweet in the office is all for YOUR benefit. She does not normally do this, and she only does that here or when it makes her look good in public. It's manipulation."

The therapist is an honest soul, I'm thinking, surely this is NOT the first time she's run into this, but she looks at me wide-eyed and said, "So, do you think that individual therapy will be of any benefit to her if she's only telling me what she thinks I want to hear?"

"Look," I said with great feeling and passion, "According to the research I have done, and surely you have read in the past, individual therapy for children with RAD does more harm than good, but WE are at the bottom of the barrel. We NEED HELP!! And I am willing to do whatever it takes to get that help!!"

She looked like I had just slapped her. She quickly wrapped up the session, picked up her notebook and walked straight out the door to her car. I was left standing at the counter looking at her retreating figure with an eerie feeling. I have no idea how she actually took it. I talked to a therapist friend later that day and shared what had happened. I said, "I hope she goes to do her research because it seemed like she had not encountered something like this before." My friend said, "no, we do not usually see people who only tell you what you want to hear. That is super unusual. And, yes, I would guess she will go do her research."

I hope so. Our next session is not for three weeks because of the scheduling.  Getting help for my kiddo is so very, very frustrating and slow. I don't know if we ever really will or if it will be too little, too late.

Public Display

We are struggling with handling her in public more and more. For church the older girls have sometimes take her to sit in a pew away from the rest of the family as we still take a bunch of kids to church and she can be distracting to all. Events with fellowship meals are the hardest. Last evening after a baptism of some of the young people in our church Vanessa was trying to manage her at the potluck. The child used every tactic in the book to get more food. She ate twice as much food at Steve, had dessert and breads and spaghetti and all the fixings twice and had to be dragged away from the food counter by her dad while she was yelling, "I'm hungry!!! I need more food!!!" People from our church know her issues, it was the visiting church that looks on in wonderment..... She then sat on the step outside and boohooed her heart out for the neighborhood to hear  while all the other children played a game of tag on the church lawn.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Good Old Golden Rule Days

Tomorrow is the big day.

I'm super excited. I could do the happy dance... and I just may, after the bus leaves tomorrow.  I think Missy is, too. I hope she is. Having her home all day, every day when she is unmotivated and sitting is not good for any of us. She needs stimulation and she needs to take interest in life. I think that school will do that for her.

I cleaned out her room and removed the dresser. I also removed the top bunk off her bed. I re-evaluated her bedding and put ONE blanket on the bed. It's warm enough and it will make it way easier to make it. There are no toys in her room except one stuffed animal for on her bed.  Simplicity makes life so much less overwhelming.

I put her dresser in my closet and all her clothes are matched into sets and put into zip lock bags. Each morning she will find a set of clothes ready to go in the bathroom. Her hair has been cut into a pixie to make the hair job go faster. She has been learning to take her shower at night instead of in the morning like she tended to do. She also feeds the cats at night, now. I have made arrangements to send breakfast to school so that we do not have the breakfast fight anymore. Also, the special ed teacher will work with her on brushing her teeth after meals. SO THAT should take the struggle out of our mornings, I hope. The only thing she will need to do is get to the bus on time. I can see her making that the issue of the day, but I am praying she doesn't.

I made a big deal about homework at the teacher mtg. I told the teachers that outside of reading for a few minutes every evening she won't be doing homework. I told them that when she gets home she needs time to play outside, then time to do her evening routine and eat and that is ALL she can handle. Just living LIFE takes all day, and adding the pressures of homework - of me being expected to administer homework, is asking for a daily power struggle and putting unnecessary stress into her day. They understood and accepted that.

Today we make applesauce... It will be an all day event. BUT I do need to line up some packable meals for school breakfasts and lunches, buy a new toothbrush and paste and we are set. Her backpack is ready and her school supplies waiting. Here we go!!

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Registered for School

Missy is all registered for school.

She's one excited kid. She starts the last day of August.

There's a certain amount of information that is not shared with her until it is necessary. She's had a lot of doctor appointments and therapy appointments and such so I pretty much have had to talk in front of her so she figured out some things about her new school year. The school is  right across the street from our church. It's a beautiful school. We realized that she figured out which school, but she missed some important details.... namely, she is not attending a regular 6th grade class. She had her little head in the clouds yesterday thinking about what she imagined her school year was going to be like. She has heard a lot about 6th grade from Isabel. At first she acted mad about going to this school when she heard about it at the therapist office. She had a full pity party and pout about it  in front of the therapist until I reminded her she knows the special ed bus driver. That helped. Then after the doctor's visit yesterday where we again discussed school and some concerns she was super excited. It suddenly occurred to me mid story of her dreams of being in plays and band and sports that I hadn't told her anything about where she is actually going. The resource room with about 3 other special needs kids somehow just doesn't have the same appeal. I tried to explain that she's not actually able to do the work that they do in 6th grade, that she's just learning subtraction and the books she can read easily are 2nd grade level. She was totally stunned and crying foul. I reminded her that she doesn't yet follow directions, or do what people ask her to do so she will need a special helper at school to guide her along and to help her to do her best. She was solemn all evening. I think maybe the full range of emotions is being applied as her way of processing everything.

We have a new doctor for her. This lady is good. Her daughter and Bri took violin from the same music teacher so I was somewhat familiar, but Steve works with all the doctors around here. So he's knows her.

Monday, August 22, 2016


Missy went to a respite group home for the first time. She was there 5 days. I had a really hard time leaving her  there for several reasons... I wasn't super impressed with the home to start with, but I had driven 3 plus hours to get there and I was leaving for Californing in the morning with steve and to take Christina to college. Brianna and Vanessa had James. It was more than I was willing to ask of them to care for Missy, too. She has gotten difficult to manage most of the time. She's angry and sullen and doesn't do anything almost all day. So, I prayed over her and left. She seemed unfazed.

Meanwhile I was crying all the way home. I finally stopped and texted some trauma mama friends and they assured me I wasn't just an evil mom abandoning my child to who knows what. They talked me through and it helped tremendously.

Next day we left for CA. IT was a terrible trip down. We broke down multiple times and every time was a HUGe cost. We eventually arrived at the college late that night. Next day we drove to an Oregon beach and Steve and I celebrated 25 years of marriage and his 50th birthday. We relaxed.

The first couple days when I called Missy her voice was flat and lifeless. She had nothing to say. After that she livened up and started calling me and her sisters non-stop and chatting up a storm. Mostly she would say hi to me and ask for dad and then go off on a monolog for a half hour or more and then she would call the next one on her list.

When Vanessa called to tell her she would be picking her up the next day Missy argued that she wasn't planning to leave for a couple more days. Then she called me and argued when she was being picked up. So Vanessa eventually asked her, "Do you want me to pick you up, or not?" She answered, "Oh, I'll think about it."  lol. Okay. That's Missy totally trying to control everything.

She's home. She does her own thing and pays no heed to the schedule or what I ask. She whines and argues and fusses. I know she wasn't like that at the group home. sigh. I was prepared though, that re-entry would not go super easy.

I'm filling out applications to horse therapy, school, and pathfinders and she has a doctor's appointment. I'm waiting on a phone call to know when she enters the 30 day enhanced respite program...

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Trick to Dealing with an Angry Sister

Missy has been lobbing insults and unkind words non-stop. This can really, really put James in a tither. He hasn't ever been able to walk away or let it go. He cries.  I coach him often through the day. I remind him that she's angry at the world and nothing can make her happy and every reaction from him is another victory for her ugly darts.

Isaac, on the other hand, does not take any of it personally. He's grown up with older brothers. I dare say they have teased and kidded each other around enough for him to know that words are only words.  So when she screamed at him that he was a stupid idiot he just turned and smiled and said, "Thank you." And kept on what he was doing.

James watched this a few times. They discussed it. And then we all discussed it. I added a few other lines for him to add like, "You are such a sweet, kind sister! I love you!" If said in sarcasm it could mean more trouble, but if said kindly it could be helpful. It's not exactly truth. . . It's what we want for her.

He tried it out and the results were as expected. She scowled and walked off. I don't know if he can remember when it makes him so mad to be screamed at. He knows all about it. He's done it himself a million times, but funny it bothers him when it comes from the other direction.

Monday, August 1, 2016

A Ray of HOPE

I have spent hours pursing help for Missy.

One day I emailed NAMI in our town. I told them some of the most recent happenings. And then I waited.  Surprisingly someone called me late one evening and she gave me a list of people to call and some advice..

Slowly I worked through the recommendations and things have become more encouraging. Getting help from the mental health system is pretty much futile if the providers are clueless about developmental disabilities. They cannot see past the DD. I was given the name of a lady who I think works with Treehouse and/or Behavioral health for children in our town. She really got the situation and she isn't going to leave me hanging. I think she will help me pursue all available avenues. She is clearly an advocate of adoption support. She mentioned that it was in the state's best interest to give us all that we need because too often these adopted children end up back in the system and that is the last thing they want to happen. She gave me a list of people I need on my team.

One is our Department of Developmental Disabilities case worker. Well, previously we had a case worker who was very sweet and made sure we had the basics, but when I pressed for more she had nothing to offer except an in-home behavioralist. The last behavioralist was terrible and I would NOT have him back in my home for any reason so I turned down her offer. Recently there was a change and we were assigned a new case worker. When I got ahold of her today I was blown away at how knowledgeable she was and how proactive and encouraging she was. She had a list of offers to us. I will accept the behavioralist (a different one, and the second person I need on my team) and I gave her the go ahead to get her enrolled in the 30 day specialized respite program offered. It may happen sooner than later. I'm fine with it running into school starting as this child will not learn anything academic until we get her mental illness under control. I'm thinking we may end up with more in-home care hours which would be good if I can have the new care worker I want!!. :-)   She's also getting me a list of things we have to do.  YEP... a third person giving me a long list of work.

The third person I need on my team is a pediatrician that was NOT accepting new patients. I would not take no for an answer. After back and forth phone calls and information gathering she relented. I was quite thankful for her receptionist who didn't push me away.

The fourth person on our team needs to be our current pediatrician.

The fifth is a DD child psychologist. Hmm... I didn't know there was one. Apparently there is. Someone else is going to get us the referral, though.

There's so many phone calls to make and so much to do. There are people praying that we will get the help we are seeking and I know that is why finally someone is hearing me.  It helps too when I say, "oh, the other day she threatened to jump from a second story window." That really gets people's attention. I really don't know if she would have really done it, but she was contemplating it and her mood was way crazy and out of control. Both feet were on the windowsill and she was hanging out....

Someone has come forward and would like to babysit her one day a week for pay, but they are praying about it as they have small children and are unsure if it is the right thing. I encouraged them to take as long as they like to make the decision.

James is doing well. He and Isaac have been playing a lot together. Truly it is the most I have ever heard this kid play pretend. Conversation, changing voices, interactive... it's great. Also they LOVE the new pump track in nearby town and can spend 3 hours straight  riding their bikes till they are so tired they can't anymore. I've been planning tubing down the river and swimming at the pool, etc...  AFTER they help in the garden for a couple hours in the cool of the morning.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Not Accepted

Missy was not accepted into the camp for special needs kids. They said they were not sure they could keep her safe. End of story.

Another shut door.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Happy News!

Our lovely oldest daugher, 
Vanessa Joy is engaged to be married to Sean Nebblett. 
 We are very blessed!!

Thursday, July 21, 2016


It's come clear that Missy, with everyone gone, the house quiet, etc.. Is not able to cover up her fear. She's afraid. Very afraid. Begging me to take her places or to have people over or to entertain her so she doesn't have to feel her fears. She's really really afraid. I think she's worked so hard to try push us away and spent all her time fighting us and now with it quiet her fears are overwhelming her and she is afraid of loneliness, of not being loved, of abandonment, of not growing up, of never being able..? I don't know exactly but terrified to have her bedroom door shut because I'm the only one home and she can't hear anything to assure her she's not abandoned. I've never seen her fears so stark. I was able to break through some of her layers this morning and have a conversation about love. She's calm at the moment. Pray for her.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Mental Health Care is Impossible

I started a post about our backpacking trip. Somehow I ran out of time and never wrote a word.... but stuck a few pictures on the blog. Well, it was a 26 mile, 4 day backpack trip up and down mountains and over snowfields and was incredible. Hoping I can finish the post soon.

I am trying desperately to get mental health care for this kiddo. Thanks to Obama we cannot go to Children's Hospital Mental Health Clinic. We live in the wrong county. Nice. We live in a small town with little available. My one option is to driver her to Seattle and take her to the Children's Hospital ER and have her admitted. They cannot turn us away.  Or I can go through the hoops of trying to get her admitted here and wait for an opening or a bed. Or I can continue to sit by the phone and hope someone finds the time to call me back. It's rough.

We've come to the conclusion that Missy is bipolar - and by we, I mean a person who works in adult mental health care, and some nodding by the pediatrician and by all the research I have been doing. She is now off the medication as it made her bipolar issues go crazy. Crazy, crazy.  We knew it could happen if she was bipolar. We were watching for the signs. She went into manic mode. She had pressured speech, hyper sexuality, hoarding food, craving carbs, stealing money, lying, eating out of the trash can, etc...( there was a HUGE hyperfocus on food).  Then she came off the meds and back to screaming and depression. She started throwing stuff and she nearly jumped from a 2 story window (had to put an alarm on her bedroom window). Most of her actions are for attention, but sometimes there's a look in her eye that tells me there's more to this. I am scared. She is out of control. I am doing my level best to get help.  Our little town has so little to offer. Our pediatrician is slow or afraid of mental illness. Getting psychiatric help is not easy let me tell you. I can't even get her in to see a psychiatrist!!! And I know that there is ONE in town.  Next time she does something crazy I am calling 911 or the crisis line. It's the only way someone is going to hear me. 

 James is at Young Disciple Camp. Vanessa is working there along with her fiancé, Brianna and Christina are in Vermont and headed to Nova Scotia to put on the teen program for camp meeting. Steve is working super long hours... like leaves before I wake up and home after 10...  I am trying to get Missy into Camp Korey which is a camp for special needs kids. They usually need the applications in before the end of April, but I didn't know about it until two weeks ago. She is in no way able to go to regular camp and is absolutely devastated that she can't go to YD. So, I called anyway and they had one spot left. I jumped through the hoops including going to the doctor for a physical and catching her up on immunizations and everything and now we wait. It's a free camp, not on the weekend, and serves vegetarian food for those who request it. It is on an organic herb and veggie market farm and has a whole medical staff to deal with her special needs.

All my efforts at finding respite care or more babysitting has failed. It doesn't matter that we are paying. No one is interested. My friends from church, Teresa and Cindy - also adoptive moms, and I all have our birthdays back to back. We decided to go out together to eat without kids. Oh my. I did not anticipate how hard it would be to get a sitter for ONE kiddo. It's a regular caregiver day so I assumed, but no, he was not able to be here that day and it looked like I would not be able to find a anyone. I looked around for a few days and finally found a lady from church willing to watch Missy, BUT then the caregiver agency came up with a new caregiver. Also, next Tuesday Vanessa and I planned to go wedding dress shopping in Spokane after I picked her up from being a counselor. The caregiver canceled again!! I resigned myself to taking the twins wedding dress shopping, but you can only imagine how that would go. A friend called today and offered to take the kids, and then the agency called has found me a caregiver... after some discussion the agency is looking for yet another caregiver. Between the three people we should be able to shop worry free. :-) 

James is loving camp and doing well. He finds Vanessa for hugs often. Her campers wanted to know what was up with that!! lol. Well, he's an adopted brother who has fear of abandonment... He needs assurance all the time. Son-in-law-to-be said James came to him quite perturbed that they played taps 30 minutes late one night. James wanted him to find the culprits and correct the issue. :-) That would be our little inflexible child... Ha!

Friday, July 1, 2016


Missy has been hard, hard, hard.

It's nothing like we have ever dealt with before. More sophisticated... more driven, unending and unyielding.

Food hoarding. To the point of stealing money to get food from a vending machine. The money was James, but it all came out when she was found searching my room for money. We have to be more careful about using the lock on my bedroom door, the pantry, the freezers, using the alarm on her door, etc... We are the kind to leave egg money in jars on the window sill... little stuff, 3 dollars here and there.  There's food everywhere on the fruit trees and in the garden. If she were hungry she would go for something good, I would think, but no, she eats frozen things that have no appeal. But she also eats all the treats up.

Hyper sexualization. Inappropriate attention seeking from men and older boys. Cannot keep her hands to herself.

Distorted Speech. She has gotten very hard for me to understand. Her cleft issues has made it hard for her to speak absolutely clearly, but for some reason I can't understand her well right now.

Irritable. But that's not new. It's just a different brand. She has taken to throwing things.

This driven sort of behavior is strange. Like we can work with her and she will apologize and then 5 minutes later do the same thing over again. It's like watching a 1 year old. You have to know where she is every second. She's become dangerous to herself. I can't let her go swimming at the pool with the other kids unless I'm there. I can't let her go places and she insists that she is as capable as everyone else, but she's downright scary.

So, it has been suggested we are dealing with the mental illness more than the DD at this point. Calling Children's Hospital for help. I think that the sleep Clinic's doc was concerned enough last month when we saw her that she will get us a referral.  She actually had Missy step out of the room so we could talk. She could see we are struggling to do this...

We had an enjoyable three days camping while she stayed with my mom at our house. Mom said she was okay one on one part of the time, but got out of hand by the end. When we took the airport trip and she thought she was going, but had to stay home the tantrum was awful. She had my mom crying and everyone else. My mom was like, "call the psychiatric ward!!" Sigh.... in the process Missy broke the door jam.

BUT James continues to be even keel and happy.

Monday, June 20, 2016

It's a Miracle

I've alluded to it, but have been cautious to say much, but it's real.... We are seeing some maturity and growth in James. He's happy.

If you read last summer's posts about James you would know that this is a miracle.

In the morning he gets up and gets going on his chores right off. He eats breakfast with the rest of us and then he and I work together on his YD Bible lesson. He is thinking clearly and able to follow the lesson, fill in the blanks and reads very well from the NKJV Bible. After that it is routine for him to do some outdoor manual labor. He weedwacks, or whatever. Weedwacking is a forever job here... We have two weedwackers now and can use them both every day and not ever be 100% done. Wild fires are always a possibility and it is important to keep everything trim around the house.

James has been accepted to Young Disciple Camp. We have not told him yet to protect Missy, but eventually she will have to come to grips with it. I think he might know, but hasn't said anything, waiting for us to tell him. He has a knowing look when his friends talk about it, but he is showing great self-control in not asking about it.

We are going camping tomorrow... Glamping the girls call it. We are taking the tent trailer out to the Icicle, or Eight Mile and camping and during the day we are hiking Mount Cashmere which is a HUGE all day hike, of which a few of us may only go to Windy Pass, and the next day Colchuck Lake, etc... Vanessa's boyfriend is coming and bringing his mom. My mom flew out from Tennessee a week or so ago and she plans to stay home with Missy, but James is going with us. I have no doubts about Missy's ability to hike, but she is so incredibly cranky that mom has chosen to keep her so we can have a break. Pray for my mom!! It could be really rough. Missy found out yesterday and so I sat her down and we talked about how she is doing everything opposite to what is expected and safe and that she is discontent and stubborn and that I need a break. It's not that we love her less than James, but that he is showing maturity and we can trust him to be safe and content. She acted repentant for about 10 minutes after that.... but then she left the job I asked her to do and went into the freezer and took food, and then after being redirected she left it again and used a black marker to make tattoos all over her skin. The other day she got into a different freezer and was swiping the hiking food we were storing ... nuts and dried fruit and treats.

We decided to lower Missy's meds back down to where they were a month ago. It was pointed out that we may have gone past the level she needs. She started off in a depressive misery and the meds pulled her up, but we were not sure if a bit more would improve her moods  so the doctor  upped them again. But she went into this incredible arrogant, defiant, and persistent mode that would not back down for any reason and it is thought that she may have reached her ceiling for tolerance. Scary stuff. I'm thinking to go through Children's Hospital because I don't think the pediatrician knows very much about this stuff. I have not seen much of a difference since lowering the meds but it might take awhile.

James does have his moments. If we are super careful we can avoid a meltdown. He still does not transition without warning. So if I say he is going to weedwack after his lesson but change my mind and ask him to fold clothes I can expect him to scream and stomp. If I wait and not push it he will get over it. If we try to help him it gets worse. So, we usually just back way off and in minutes he will do what he was asked.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Grappling With Our Reality

I've been concerned about not having a school plan for the kids come fall. With two of the girls going to Peru and one going to California for college I knew we had to come up with a plan. The options are super limited. And it seems even thinking outside the box was not really turning up any ideas. I wanted to go explore the idea of public school for Missy.... It's not as if she would be set free in the crowd. She requires full time, one-on-one pretty much, so I figured checking out what they would offer was a sensible thought. My husband was not ready to make that step. His concern is that everything we are trying to teach the twins regarding the principles of the Bible and his efforts to draw them to spiritual things would be lost by the influences. It's a real possibility. They have no natural inclination towards spiritual things. James is not resistant, and seems to enjoy his Bible lessons, but you know, he's super drawn to swearing and negative talk and the media culture.

We drove out to visit a small private christian school that takes a few special needs kids a year. It's a boarding school and no question, the kiddos are nowhere near ready for that. It was a very good visit, though. We learned a lot. We got a good outline of what needs to take place for James to someday qualify for the school. (I don't believe Missy ever will qualify). It's an absolutely beautiful place out in the woods. I was totally impressed with the program.

The visit gave us a springboard to talk through some things and we came to the conclusion we needed to visit the public school and see what they would offer Missy. Somehow, I had been told, or got the impression that our middle school did not have a self-contained room, but they do. This next year there will only be three other kids in that class. As I talked with the special ed directors they offered to tailor the program to fit her needs. They practically offered the moon. I was so, so relieved, and Steve, too. I realize that in the end we might not get the moon, but it's a good place to start. They are willing to work her in slowly if we want, or full-on, cold turkey. They will have a team meeting with me and her and work out a plan in August. We are completely satisfied that Missy's needs will be covered. Hey, they even have a little kitchen in that special ed room to teach the basic skills of cooking. Nothing makes her happier than baking (food) except swimming!

James would not qualify for this set-up. He is making advances. It seems slow, but suddenly taking note (and yes, comparing the twins!! 😱😰) the ever widening gap between the two proves he has potential - lots of it if we can just nab it and make use of it.  Our trip down the coast with just the two of them in the backseat for hours at a time gave us a window into some interesting dynamics.

I had filled out the Young Disciple Camp application forms for the twins. We did not tell the kids that we were applying for them to go. Lots of the friends from church go to this camp and it's all that kids can talk about sometimes. The twins have begged to go, but I have never given them any reason to hope. My daughter and her boyfriend will be counselors there. Vanessa and I talked about it and decided that with them there if something were to go awry there were people there who understood them and could deal with them until I got there... So I applied. I got a call from the director who knows our story. After chatting with him I pretty much decided to withdraw Missy's application and to pray about James' some more.  Somehow, Missy got the idea that I had applied. She started whispering to her friends that she was going to YD and everything. Then after the call she said to me and Vanessa, "have you heard from YD yet?"  I told her I had and that she was not going. This has been an obsession of hers and that was a devastating answer. She did not cry or scream but argued vehemently her cause. We had to end the discussion. Yesterday at church potluck she came to me greatly agitated. She said, "I told Joyanna that it is better to get an email from YD than to get a phone call. It is so unfair!!! I want to go....." She got all worked up and was trying to argue her case again. I have to somehow get through to her the futility of these arguments. She's not ready for a week  at a Bible camp, period. How to get that across to her, I have no idea. She spent the rest of the time going from person to person trying to arrange playdates and inviting herself over to other peoples' homes.  She was intense. She makes people feel obligated. Most did not take her seriously, thankfully, but one family - where the mom just found out she has brain cancer, did. I need to call them and explain it is not her place to arrange these events and it is NOT their responsibility to have her over.

I'm seeing I have a child with a real intellectual disability that is going to become a very real struggle for people to be willing to be around. She is going to make herself unwelcome and annoying everywhere she goes. I don't know what to do about this.

James on the other hand listened to all the discussions on YD and never said a word. He's waiting for me to decide to tell him if he is going or not. He knows that we are working towards taking him on the mission trip to Peru, he knows his twin is not going. If I cannot find someone to take her for those ten days then I will not be going either. I can't ruin the trip for everyone else because of her. Ah, she seems so sweet and innocent to the uneducated eye, but we are turning a corner where that is not the case anymore. She's demanding attention and asking for time and energy that is not hers to ask for. I am at a loss.

So, we have not solved James' school needs yet. He's big into sawmills right now. He saw a sawmill on our trip. Then we went to a museum and he got interested in the big blades and old photos. Now he's playing "sawmill" and "logger" in the yard with a pile of sticks and building lego sawmills. I am rewarding him with a few minutes of old history sawmill youtubes now an again and he's eating it up. Maybe with her out of the house I could homeschool him? I don't know. I'm nervous about the idea.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

How Are We Doing... and What is the PLAN?

We most definitely ride the waves here as you know. The kids moods rock and plunge and are all over the place and that hasn't changed a wit.

We are in a very good streak with James. He's happy, content, taking pride in his work and finding pleasure in growing muscles. The garden bins are almost  all full and James has pushed full wheelbarrow loads of dirt with determination for hours on end. He will show you his biceps if you have time. :-) He sprained his ankle the other day. We weren't sure how sore it really was but we gave him the benefit of the doubt until he forgot and stomped his foot  at his dad a few times and jumped up and down in displeasure at a request.  The sympathy pot instantly dried up. lol  He most certainly has struggled with moods over the winter.  Maybe even depression, but that's not the case right now.

Missy has tried my patience to the core. I have danced on eggshells all around that child for two weeks solid. Today was showdown time. She knows what she needs to do but won't do it. If I speak to her about it she does the opposite. If I put it on paper she ignores it. If I just draw the lines with consequences she stands on the line and taunts me for hours. For instance; in the morning she will stand in her pj's, hair eskew, bed unmade, animals crying for food in front of me practically begging for me to point out that she is not doing the obvious. If I do say something I've taken the bate for her to make a scene, argue, or go in a complete opposite direction than what she's told. BUT she has the patience to stand stratigically in my view and attempting small talk for what feels like hours. We totally recognize it is about a power struggle and so we make every effort not to give her her the pleasure of ruffling our feathers. BLAH!! We coach each other quietly and we walk away when it gets impossible....  Today though, when I saw that her every waking thought was bound up in this incredble effort to undermine my authority as mom of this house I gave her  the consequence I knew would mean the most. I told her tomorrow I would not be taking her on the outing I had planned to the water pad park with the little guys. Nothing means more to her than water and friends. The disrepectful words flowed easy. "You are so RUDE!" she said. lol.  I put her in her room and told her what I just told you. That very clearly she is in a power struggle but that this IS MY HOUSE and I AM the MOM and she would be spending time in her room figuring out that this was true. All the screaming, beating on the door, and making the alarm go off would not change my stance. If she chose to do those things I would not stop her, but she would probably have to buy a new door, I would probably leave the house and she would be in there longer. She stopped screaming. She keeps calling me every 5 minutes. I am not answering yet as she is trying to pull me into her manipulations. I choose when to give her a bathroom break, I bring her water and food and no one else is interacting with her until she softens the insane domination game. I left her some things to do to show me that she's willing to work with me. Her whole focus has shifted to GETTING OUT OF THIS ROOM!  So, I expect it will take time for her to stop trying to force me to let her out and get on with the business of doing what I ask - and no half-hearted slop job will do.
sassy little photobomber!!

While we came to the conclusion that for me to both parent and homeschool the kids is not possible, we haven't come up with any good plan at all. I thought I had an idea... but my husband is not okay with it.  AND nothing else has turned up that is plausable. That saying, we are going on a little trip to visit ___ ____ School. It is a day school for 6th grade up and a boarding school for academy. We don't live close enough for us to use it as a day school.... so I don't think anything will come of the visit immediately, but I have had this school in mind for our future for awhile. In fact, the school comes here and does a concert in our church every spring and we often host half the group. Some of the kids are special needs like ours and the staff are amazing and incredible with the kids.  I feel like it is important to build a relationship with the school and to look for ways to support them as much as possible because someday I believe they will be working with my kids.  But for now, there's still NO plan.

 We took the kids to the zoo and then to Deception Pass and stayed in a nice large cabin at Rosario. Our whole church was there so it was very nice.

at Hidden Lake. Cooling off from our sudden SUMMER!!