We got up this morning and went back to the baseball field. Older Nephew J and Younger Nephew J both had games this morning and the boys wanted to watch before we left for home.

Older Nephew J won his game again and Younger Nephew J lost. We said our good-byes. I always hate that Middle Sister and her family live so far away. I miss her and hanging out with her. We don't get to do it nearly often enough.

On the way home we needed a break from driving so we took a tour of the University of Iowa. We took pictures in front of the Old Capitol and also Kinnick Stadium. Since the bookstore wasn't open we had to stop at the mall to get Hawkeye t-shirts.

I am so proud of the boys for the way they traveled. It was far better than I could have imagined it would go. They kept themselves occupied and didn't fight. They didn't even ask "are we there yet"!! They were always concerned about what state we were in and wanted to be sure I didn't forget to tell them when we were crossing state lines.

It is good to be home.

Praises for:

The boys behavior the entire weekend.
Middle Sister and her family making all of us feel welcome.
Patient cousins.
Safe travel.

Prayers for:

Adjusting to our summer schedule.
Healing for Middle Sister's feet. She had surgery on both and is in a walking boot until August.
This morning we started off the day by going to church. Middle Sister takes her kids for donuts before church if they are ready to go 45 minutes before the service starts. Luckily we were all ready for church early and everyone got to have donuts!

Both boys told me they really liked church that morning. They did really well and seemed to be paying attention during the service.

Older Nephew J had a baseball game early in the afternoon so we all went to it. Right when the game was supposed to start it started really raining! We sat in the car on "rain delay" for about half an hour. I was driving "Team Girl" and Brother-in-Law T was driving "The Man Van". The game finally started and Older Nephew J's team won. The boys thought it was great.

We went back to Middle Sister's and all of the kids rode bikes and scooters to the park for more baseball. We then went back home and they continued with scooters and bikes for about 90 minutes. On the last lap around the block Younger Boy and Younger Nephew J were walking their bikes because they were so tired.

The evening ended with dinner and a movie.

Praises for another WONDERFUL day.
Today was an awesome day.

Middle Sister took Older Boy, Younger Nephew J, and Niece L to the store to buy supplies for a "suprise" party for Younger Boy and Older Nephew J. I am told they had a great time buying tiki torches, balloons, and flamingo cups for all. They also ended up with a cupcake cake and also what seemed like a 55-gallon drum of cheese balls.

Older Nephew J and Younger Boy played video games and catch while they were gone.

Later in the afternoon we went to State Farm Park and played baseball and fed geese. Did you know that if you chase geese they will hiss at you? In fact...they will even chase you if you really make them mad!!

Praises for great weather and a great day with family!
Friday we left to visit Middle Sister and her family in Illinois. It is a seven hour drive from our house. I wanted to leave early, but ended up working until noon. I went home and packed, because it didn't get done the night before and we were on our way around 2:30pm.

I had good plans for the trip. I had my home laptop and my work laptop for the boys to watch movies on. Little did I work laptop wouldn't play DVDs...not sure why. Younger Boy ended up playing Nintendo DS for the entire 7 hours. Older Boy used my home laptop until he was pounding on the touchpad so much that it turned itself off. Who knew it had an auto-protection setting?

There was only one fight on the way there. It was because Younger Boy and I were "purposely" trying to make Older Boy mad. We were talking about high school and he wants to go to an OPS school. He is also convinced we are moving. Neither of these things are happening in the near future, but seemed to be the appropriate thing to be furious about during the car ride.

We stopped three times on the way. It would have been twice, but when I said "Be sure you go in and go to the bathroom" at stop two I must have used a different language. We stopped again 15 minutes later at a rest stop.

When we arrived...nephews and niece were outside on the porch wrapped in blankets with a flashlight awaiting our arrival. All of the kids were VERY excited!!

We talked very briefly and everyone went to bed.

Praises for safe travel and for excited cousins.
Older Boy is getting stressed out about our weekend trip to Illinois. He really struggled tonight. He cried and yelled and yelled and cried on three separate occasions. I finally convinced him he should go to bed at 8:15pm.

Younger Boy is pretty much ready to go...I think.

Both boys worked on "packing" the things they wanted to take. We have a lot of "stuff" and not many clothes going with us. I think I will supplement their bags with some extra things in mine.

I am looking forward to seeing my sister and her family. It is such a blessing that her kids are the perfect age to hang out with the boys. The first time they got together Younger Boy and Middle Nephew J became fast friends.

Prayers for safe travel tomorrow and a great weekend with family.
Both boys are GROUCHY today. Younger Boy decided to get up before 6AM, because he wanted to go to daycare as early as they opened (6AM) to play his Nintendo DS...which was at home.

He cried when I wouldn't take him to daycare that early. He cried when he couldn't find something to wear. He cried when he couldn't figure out what to eat for breakfast and he cried when I asked him to get his shoes on.

I haven't been a parent for long, but I am guessing he is OVER TIRED!!

Younger Boy also happened to wake Older Boy so he is not in a good mood either.

In fact this morning when we got in the car they were in such horrible moods that I made them go back inside to their room and start the day over. It helped...a little.

Prayers the boys rested at daycare to day and they will go to bed early tonight.
Tonight Older Boy had Youth Group. He wanted a footlong sandwich for dinner so we stopped and got him one on the way.

Younger Boy and I dropped him off and went to the large furniture store to buy some charger adapters for the laptops so the boys have something to watch movies on while we are on the way to Illinois. I also bought headphones so I will have quiet on the way to Illinois. While we were there he was distracted playing their video game samples so I went ahead and bought him a birthday gift.

Afterward we went to the grocery store to order his birthday cake. I would like to say I going to make it, but sadly I do not have time. He is excited by the design, but wants it to be a "secret surprise".

Afterward we went to dinner and had pancakes and a really nice discussion about the things we are looking forward to on our trip to Illinois and this summer.

We don't get to spend a lot of one on one time so it was really nice. I truly enjoy Younger Boy very much.
Tonight we had a nice dinner out with Babysitter N. It was awesome! She is so much fun to hang out with and the boys love her.

Both boys used relatively good manners the entire time we were out. They didn't argue and they didn't whine.

After dinner we went home and did a few things around the house and they went to bed.

All in all uneventful...praises for a "normal" night!!
There has been a flurry of activity in terms of services for Older Boy in the last couple of days. Therapist is working very hard to find a CTA for him...even if it is just for a couple of hours a week.

Today I started the paperwork for the ITMS program. It is basically a program for people with developmental delays. It sets him up for the future if he ages out of the system and he will then be qualified for either group home services as an adult or day services as an adult. It could help him with things like job coaching, etc. in the future. Someone (me) just needs to get him enrolled in the program. He will have a ITMS caseworker and appointments. While it is going to make our already hectic lives more crazy this is what he needs to be successful in life.

Praises everyone on the team is working SO HARD right now to get Older Boy the right services.

My prayer as it relates is that Younger Boy doesn't see all of these services for Older Boy and start acting out in another way for more attention.
Older Boy is CONVINCED he is going to have to repeat seventh grade AGAIN. He is positive someone told him that. I contacted the school. He is officially an eighth grader next year and everything should be good.

Nope...still thinks he is repeating seventh grade. I don't know if it is summer school confusing him or what.

He keeps telling daycare he is going to be in seventh for the third time. I forwarded them the email from the school so they can show it to him, too. Maybe reinforcement from everyone will help.
Tonight was Younger Boy's first baseball practice. He was REALLY reluctant to go. He was worried none of the other boys would like him and also that he wouldn't be good enough since he hasn't played baseball in a whole year.

I reassured him that it was all the other boys first practice, too. I also said, "I dare you not to make any friends on the team."

Older Boy asked Head Coach J if he could be the "student manager". He did SO WELL last night. He listened. He didn't get mad. He was a good example.

Younger Boy made a lot of friends. Two of them actually go to his school so he was excited about that.

The boys were still wound up THREE HOURS after practice was over. Hopefully the newness will wear off a little bit...SOON!!

Praises for AMAZING Christian men as coaches...Head Coach J, Assistant Coach T, and Assistant Coach J. Your rules for the boys are FANTASTIC!!
This afternoon was Older Boy's follow-up with Psychiatrist. I am so thankful we did a two week instead of one month follow-up.

It seems there was confusion in the records at the last visit. She thought she was increasing his anger/aggression medications and in reality it was LOWERED. Praises we found this. All of the rage and anger were worrying me. As much as I wish he didn't have to take the medications at all I know now that for him it is necessary until he works through some of these things he has kept inside.

I am so thankful right is Older Boy. He is THRILLED he is going to be taking more of it. He doesn't like being angry any more than I like him being angry.

Praises he recognizes it!! I think it is a BIG STEP in self awareness.
Sunday morning we started out a little bit rough. Within minutes of getting up Older Boy went into his frustrated mantra of "I should just be dead." He typically does this when frustrated with himself. I tried really hard to figure out what could have happened and even asked him. I think it was just a bad mood.

Both boys did well at Church. They have a lot of friends there and they both seem to enjoy their Sunday morning groups.

On the way home Older Boy was convinced Younger Boy was going to get to pick everything they did all day and was yelling about it and hitting his head with his fist. There was nothing Younger boy had picked or done so I have NO IDEA what triggered the behavior.

I had training this afternoon for camp so Babysitter Z came over. I told him we now have a ZERO TOLERANCE policy at our home for damage to home or self and that we call 911 immediately. This is based on the advice of Therapist and Agency. When I left they were headed outside to play catch.

When I got home I found a frustrated Babysitter Z. Older Boy had gotten angry, because he couldn't find the straw he was using and Younger Boy "had it last". Instead of either drinking out of his cup without a straw OR getting another straw out of the cupboard he chose to run out of the house and hide under the deck in back for 90 minutes while Babysitter Z and Younger Boy searched for him.

When they found Older Boy Babysitter Z took them to the park. During their time at the park the three of them were playing basketball and Younger Boy thought the rules were different than what Older Boy thought they were. As a result Younger Boy ran away and hid in the playground. Babysitter Z had to look for him as well.

It is so disappointing to hear these things when I get home. I always feel so bad for the sitters. Babysitter Z and I talked to both boys about better choices they could have made. Older Boy is going to talk to Babysitter Z instead of getting mad and running away and Younger Boy is going to find out the rules BEFORE the games start.

Babysitter Z was EXHAUSTED. I totally get that!!
Today we were at the grocery store and both boys asked if we were going to run out of money soon.

I assured them we had plenty of money to buy everything we need and even some things we just want and don't even need.

They asked how much money we have and I had them guess. One said $100 and the other said $300. I told them they were right and that everything was good.

It hadn't occurred to me they would be concerned about something like that. It makes sense...I just hadn't ever thought about the need to reasssure it before.

Praises God provides everything we need each day and that HE knows exactly what we need.
The boys had very different days at respite. Younger Boy had a great day with Mentor R. They went to a softball game and played outside. He loved it. I picked him up and he was playing with some hair extensions I bought for camp. He clipped them in his hair and was taking pictures of himself and texting them.

Older Boy went to his daycare for respite. They played outside, did a pinata, watched a movie, and ate pizza. He melted down there for the first time today and got really angry. Daycare D helped him through it and they are working on talking when you are angry...not shutting down. Daycare D asked him about it when I picked him up. He took away all of the distractions and made him make eye contact when they were talking. Older Boy started to shut down and Daycare D immediately made him look at him. I could learn a lot from observing that. We need to all be consistent, so it was really helpful!

Praises for the break. Praises both boys had a good day. Praises for new skills in dealing with Older Boy.
All week I thought about all the things I would get done today while the boys were at respite. By the time it finally came all I wanted to do was watch TV and take a nap...heavy on the nap.

Maybe Foster Care Specialist, Service Coordinator, Older Boy's Daycare Specialist, and Therapist are right. Maybe I am not taking enough respite.
Foster Care Specialist says that I have to do a MINIMUM of 24 hours straight once a month or I am going to get burned out. I hate to admit it, but maybe she is right.
This morning started off really good. Both boys slept in and got some much needed sleep.

They got up and ate breakfast. We had got some new sketch pads and colored pencils last night and they were sitting on the couch drawing self-portraits.

Since it is so nice outside they decided to go outside in the backyard and play catch. I stayed inside and worked on cleaning the basement. About fifteen minutes later Older Boy was inside saying Younger Boy was purposely making him mad. Older Boy doesn't understand that he is in control of his anger. He decided to go back outside and play. Within ten minutes he was back inside punching walls, kicking furniture, and banging his head on doors, walls, and furniture. He kicked the spindles on the staircase and one broke in half. He kicked his dresser and his bed.

I now know the strategy I was given by Foster Care Specialist and Therapist doesn NOT work. They had suggested I hug him and try to rock him since he is reverting to the age of his trauma. When I tried to do that he immediately started screaming " are hurting me!"

Luckily Mentor R called and it jolted Older Boy out of his rage or I don't know how long it would have gone on.

Younger Boy again spent time in his safe place....which is EXACTLY what he is supposed to do.

I called Agency Hotline to talk about it. We have begun discussing the need to a higher level of care for Older Boy. We are going to try a CTA first, but the availability of CTAs in the community isn't very high.

I don't want to fail Older Boy, but I wonder if I am the right home for him and if I have the skills to help him. I know God does not give me more than I am capable of and will also give me the resources I need to get through nearly anything. Maybe I am not trusting him enough...maybe I need more prayer.

I am so thankful for respite this afternoon. Older Boy is going to his daycare for six hours and Younger Boy is going to Mentor R's. What a blessing!!
Tonight Younger Boy is having the kind of meltdown the Older Boy has.

I gave him the choice to either play Wii until 9pm or watch a movie and sleep downstairs. He chose to play Wii and then thought he deserved to sleep downstairs. When I told him that isn't what he chose he went downstairs and punched a vent, a table and a wall.

He informed me that if he isn't allowed to sleep downstairs tonight he will be running away in the middle of the night. I told him I didn't think that was a good idea.

He is now upstairs locked in the bathroom in the vanity under the sink. He is kicking the wall and telling me he hates me and that if someone loves you they don't give you consequences.

I called Mentor R. I don't think we will do respite tomorrow. There have to be consequences for your actions and the only thing he seems to care about it seeing his mentor.

Prayers we will all get a good nights sleep tonight. I'm not sure what is causing this meltdown other than he isn't getting his own way. Kind of extreme behavior for that.
Today when the YMCA baseball schedules were published I was SO THANKFUL!! Both boys play only on Thursday and Saturday. I was totally dreading having baseball every single night so this is an answer to my prayers!

We have so many other things we have to accomplish during the week that are court ordered...individual therapy, family therapy, tutoring. It's pretty chaotic and we aren't ever home. Kind of hard to be a kid. Praises this will work out!!
I am so conflicted about family therapy. All that ever seems to happen there is a lot of yelling, screaming, crying, and storming either out of the room or out of the building. What is hard is that while it totally stinks it is our real life. It is what our family time together is like and how interactions take place in our home.

While it is frustrating it is also good to have Therapist there to help facilitate.

The boys always claim they don't know what they fight about so we were discussing ways that we can keep track of what they fight about so that we can discuss it in family therapy. Younger Boy is all for it. He wants to make himself a journal and keep track. Older Boy wants no part of it. He doesn't want anyone writing his name in a book. Basically he doesn't want to be accountable for any of his actions. As a result he screamed that if his name gets written in any books he will just punch someone and stormed out of the room.

Therapist went with him and tried to calm him down. I stayed with Younger Boy while he cried. He is so exhausted by the controlling, dominating behavior he deals with all day from Older Boy. He asked if I could sit in their room until they fall asleep at night, because Older Boy is demanding of him. I don't know what that means. Therapist suggested a baby monitor in their room since I don't have a way to separate them. If it helps their relationship and safety I am all for it.

I went to talk to Older Boy and I just made him more angry. I asked him why he doesn't want anyone to talk about him. Of course he has no reason. He just doesn't. He said he NEVER says anything bad about anyone or anything that isn't nice. I called him on it and he STORMED outside. It took Therapist 20 minutes to get him indoors.

Therapy over. The car ride home was fine and then they argued because Younger Boy won't listen to the CD Older Boy wants him to while Older Boy is in the shower. Total control. Older Boy is losing and it and doesn't like it. It is causing all kinds of behaviors from both boys.

Pray this can get better. Both boys talk all the time these days about not wanting to live together anymore and how their lives would be "PERFECT" apart.

Praises for Therapist. I am really starting to like her. I think we just needed some time to get acquainted and the boys needed to start to trust her.
At 4AM Younger Boy came in my room, because he had a nightmare. They are getting more frequent.

I went back to his room and sat with him and talked. He told me all about his dream. It had to do with Bio Dad beating me up to take him "home".

We prayed he could go back to sleep and have a really awesome dream and to protect him while he slept.

He said "I want to dream about living with you forever. Maybe we can even get a Dad." Buddy...I hope you can live with me forever...maybe it is God's plan. I can't promise you a Dad, but I can promise you a heavenly Father who loves you more than any earthly father ever could.
I thought the evening was going to be rough. I picked up Older Boy from daycare and he was in a HORRIBLE mood. Nothing was right. These are the times where if he doesn't get his way I can rest assured there will be an explosion.

We picked up Younger Boy and headed home to change clothes before Older Boy had youth group and Younger Boy and I went to Coach Z's house. Younger Boy and I were not moving fast enough for Older Boy. It makes me crazy. He is NEVER on time for anything yet always thinks everyone is making him late.

We went out to eat. He didn't throw a fit when I wouldn't buy him a $5 milkshake. It was actually a first.

I dropped him off at youth group, but all of the kids were outside and there were two fire trucks there. We found out later it was a false alarm.

Younger Boy and I went to Coach Z's house to plan crafts for Boy's Camp. Younger Boy played football and basketball with Coach Z's husband. He had a BLAST.

We got home and the boys "went to bed". For about two hours they were "going to bed". Every time I turned around someone was hurt in their room or someone was in the kitchen getting a snack or someone was killing a bug in the bathroom. GO TO BED!!
Denise Older Boy told Therapist the whole reason he got mad on Saturday was that it was skim milk instead of 2%.

I don't even know what else to say.
Camp Aunt and Camp Uncle brought us dinner tonight. It was good to have visitors and good to have discussion with someone else than the usual fighting that occurs at dinner.

Camp Uncle was AMAZING. He talked to the boys IN LOVE about behavior. He and Older Boy talked about the appropriate response to anger and how you have to use your head when you are angry and not just as a weapon. Older Boy was really soaking it all in. He became almost melancholy when they were talking. They also talked about all of the supplies needed to fix the walls and the doors in the house and how it was going to be a big project and how Older Boy should pay for it and do all of the work.

Camp Uncle also talked a lot about the times in the Bible when Jesus got angry and how he spoke to the people. It was a great lesson for all of us.

I am so VERY THANKFUL there are good Christian men who are helping me in this journey. The boys need it. I need it.
Tonight on the way home from LifeGroup I got a text from Babysitter J.

"Almost made it the whole night without fighting. Had to separate. Older Boy in bed. Younger Boy on couch in living room. Be quiet when you get home."


They cleaned the house while I was gone. They did trip a breaker that shut off the light in their bedroom and bathroom. Something to do with the vacuum. Sometimes it's better not to know.

At bedtime Older Boy told Younger Boy he didn't want him sleeping in their room. No real reason, but when Babysitter J asked them to both go in Older Boy said to Younger Boy "You should just die and go to H***". He also threatened to punch him if he slept in their bedroom. Now I understood the separation. I probably would have done the same thing.

This comes on the heels of Older Boy telling daycare that is it "his job" to control Younger Boy and that he likes it. Wow...we have a LONG way to go.

Pray this relationship can be healed and that both boys will participate.

Praises for Babysitter J. She deserves (and gets) hazard pay. She keeps a sense of humor. She reminds me of me.
Older Boy went to the school nurse's office three times today complaining he was going to throw up. He also went to the nurse's office at daycare complaining of the same thing.

He told them both he had been throwing up at home since Saturday...not true. As silly as it sounds I had to make a rule that if you vomit you have to save it and show it to me. None is EVER able to be produced.

What is REALLY happening is he has a lot of anxiety and fear over what happened on Saturday. He thinks he is going to have to move if he doesn't learn to control his anger. Coupled with the fact that he already thought he had to move, because he has New Caseworker we are in the perfect storm.

He can't identify feelings. It is part of FAS. If I ask if he is nervous he will freak out. Not really the way to teach about feelings, but sometimes it is just easier to leave well enough alone.

Do I want him to leave? No. Do I need him to be safe? Yes. Are the two mutually exclusive? I don't know. That's what I need to figure out.
This morning I spent time cleaning the carpet...again...trying to remove the red Hawaiian punch from EVERYWHERE.

It is so hard not to be angry and frustrated every time I find something else needing to be cleaned up. I want to repair the doors, but I know that they will get damaged again. I just don't think we are past all of the violence and anger.
Today was the field day at Elementary School. Younger Boy DID NOT want to go, because there was no way it was going to be as good as the one at his old school. He wouldn't get out of bed, wouldn't get dressed, wouldn't get his shoes on. Clearly this was going to be torture!!

Finally he was ready and I dropped him off at daycare, told him I loved him, and to try to have fun at the field day.

Mentor R and I went to field day. Younger Boy kept waving to us and trying to get our attention. We watched all of the events. He was so proud to have us both there. We got to meet his friends and his former girlfriend.

As we were getting ready to leave I asked if this field day was as good as at his old school. He replied no...paused and then said...WAY BETTER!!
This afternoon we went to Lincoln for the birthday party of Girl Cousin A. The boys took their light sabers and played with Uncle G, Girl Cousin A, Girl Cousin I, and Boy Cousin W in the backyard for a couple of hours.

Both boys did very well with their much younger cousins.

The girls asked if Older Boy and Younger Boy could stay for 10 days. Unfortnately...NO, but we will come back again.

I was proud of the boys during our time in Lincoln.
Today was NOT a good day.

This morning we were cleaning the house, because it was truly a disaster area. We have since made a rule that we are going to clean for 10 minutes each night before bed.

I assigned Older Boy to vacuum the basement and Younger Boy to vacuum the upstairs, because it is the opposite of what they did the last time. This was NOT what Older Boy wanted. He went to his room and cried for fifteen minutes yelling "It isn't fair. No one wants me to do what I want to do. You always take his side." It's vacuuming. You'll do the upstairs next time. Younger Boy offered to trade him. Nope...not happening.

The afternoon was relatively calm. What I didn't realize was that it was the calm before the storm.

At dinner I gave Older Boy the option of milk or water for dinner. He wanted Hawaiian Punch. He got mad. I didn't back down. I can't give him his way every time he gets angry. I again gave the option of milk or water. He answered with banging his head on the table...HARD. I asked him to go to his room, because he wasn't being safe. He stood up and flung a 20 ounce bottle of red Hawaiian punch into the living room as hard as he could. It hit the fireplace mantel and exploded. Now there is red punch on the fireplace, TV, sliding glass door, blinds, furniture, carpet, ceiling and all of the walls. Again I ask him to go to his room and tell him that I am going to have to call 911 if he doesn't calm down. He kicked a hole in the closet door at the top of the stairs. I got the phone to call 911 and he punched a hole in the hallway wall and kicked a hole in his bedroom door. I was shaking as I called 911.

Younger Boy did an AMAZING job of following our home safety plan and going to his safe place. I called Mentor R to come over and take Younger Boy or at least hang out with him until the whole thing blew over.

It took almost 15 minutes for the sheriff to get to our house. By this time Older Boy was in the hallway sobbing. I had the option of keeping him at home, sending him to an inpatient facility or having him taken away for the property damage. I kept him at home. The sheriff did a REALLY good job of talking to him about making better choices.

Older Boy went to his room when the sheriff left and Younger Boy, Mentor R, and I cleaned up as much of the punch as we could. The carpet is ruined and the doors will need to be replaced. This is just "stuff", but Older Boy needs to learn to manage his anger, because he is really going to get hurt one of these days.
We downloaded Netflix on our Wii. The boys immediately called Girl Cousin L to find out what the best movies or TV series are to watch. She is in second grade and I was surprised when she said "Avatar, the Last Air Bender" series.

Well...there are fifty-four twenty-four minute episodes on Netflix. The boys are convinced that they should watch them all in a row without stopping. It doesn't seem to matter to them that it is almost 22 hours of watching Avatar.

They started at 7:45pm...both were sleeping before episode THREE was finished.
Foster Care Specialist picked the boys up from daycare today. She came over to tell them they were getting New Service Coordinator 2. She gave them the ground rules for their meeting and told them what to expect. Immediately both boys assumed they are moving. Foster Care Specialist and I said over and are NOT moving. I don't know if they believe us or not.

Foster Care Specialist left before New Service Coordinator 2 got there. I'm not sure what I think of her. She came over to meet the boys, but she didn't really interact with them. Admittedly they weren't really in the mood to meet her and so they were being fairly disruptive, but she didn't even ask them any questions. About all she did do was say (over and over)"listen to your mom".

I understood we were going to talk about a permanancy plan and other services. That didn't happen. All she seemed to care about was scheduling our next visits.

Prayers that I will not become frustrated with New Service Coordinator 2.
Older Boy was on a all time high today. He gave his "How To" presentation in science and got an A. He was SO EXCITED!! He said that he had a hard time remembering everything, but that the teachers and kids all really liked it.

He also had an amazing day at therapy. He and Therapist actually talked and colored together. It was a good follow-up from the night before.

We dropped Older Boy off at Church for his baptism and Younger Boy and I went to a Christian bookstore to get cards and a Bible for Older Boy. While we were there Younger Boy saw a puppet he "really needed". I wouldn't buy it. He told me if I would just buy it he would stop begging me for it. I would have never though of that. He was jumping up and down like he was about three years old. It is during these times I realize he isn't a typical ten year old either.

Older Boy's testimony brought a lot of tears to those in attendance. He was so proud and happy. His math teacher came to the baptism...which was AWESOME. Older Boy had a huge group of people who are supporting him in this spiritual journey.

When we got home Older Boy said "This might be my best day ever."
During the middle of the night Older Boy woke me. We were in the middle of a huge thunderstorm with a lot of lightning. He was scared.

I suggested he sleep in the basement, because it would be quieter and he wouldn't be able to see the lightning as much. He didn't want to, because he didn't want to leave Younger Boy in the room by himself.

I sat by Older Boy's bed and tried to comfort him. Comfort from another person is not something Older Boy can feel or grasp. I started to rub his back, but he pulled away. I noticed he was rocking and rubbing the edge of his blanket over and over with his thumb and forefinger. It made me sad that he had to comfort himself when he was little....that he has had to do it all these years.

We prayed the thunder and lightning would stop and he would get a good night's sleep.

When I left the room he was peacefully sleeping again.

Pray for comfort for Older Boy. Pray for healing.

Praises for these special matter how tired I am.
Tonight we had family therapy. Tonight Therapist got a true picture of the interaction between the boys.

Therapist brought paper and crayons and asked each boy to draw a poster of their coping techniques for when they are angry. Younger Boy immediately sat down and started drawing. Older Boy immediately laid down on the floor under the table and wouldn't acknowledge Therapist.

As soon as Younger Boy got praise from both me and Therapist for following directions Older Boy started talking like a baby. We just pretty much ignored it. Obviously it is an attention getting strategy he is trying to use.

Younger Boy had chosen "talk to Mom" as one of his strategies so Therapist asked us to practice. Younger Boy walked up to me and said "Mom, Older Boy is making me mad." Older Boy immediately started screaming that he shouldn't be used in the example and ran out of the room to the lobby. I stayed with Younger Boy and continued to talk through what was now a real life situation instead of practice. Therapist went in the lobby. I could hear yelling coming from the lobby so I went and traded Therapist.

I talked to Older Boy about how this would have been a good time to try his strategy instead of screaming and running out of the room. Obviously not what he wanted to hear. This time he ran screaming from the building and tried to get in the car...which was locked.

Both Therapist and I had to go outside to get him. He refused to come in so we just walked toward the door and he started crying and wanted to come in the building.

We got back in the therapy room and Older Boy agreed to talk to Therapist about strategies the next day during his individual session.

Praises Older Boy seems to be agreeable to talk to her tomorrow. Praises Younger Boy is willing to participate even while being yelled at by Older Boy.

Prayers that at some point Older Boy will cooperate during family therapy.
It's time for new boundaries with Older Boy. He doesn't understand when hugs and touch is appropriate and inappropriate, especially socially inappropriate. we are working on handshakes with men instead of hugs. We are also working on not giving people a hug every time you leave or see them.

By far the hardest is how many times he insists on hugging Younger Boy. With him it is a control thing. We are trying to limit it to once a day. I'll be isn't working.
I have really begun to notice the power struggle which goes on in our house when the boys have been apart. It is fascinating to watch. Foster Care Specialist and Therapist can't believe I observe these things...I can't believe everyone doesn't!

When the boys have been separated for an hour or more and then are together there is a power play immediately made by Older Boy. He nearly always gets in the personal space of Younger Boy, stands over him with his hands on his hips and insists on a hug. If Younger Boy says no Older Boy will trail him until he gives in.

At the same time Younger Boy's entire body language changes. He tenses up and clenches his fists as though gearing up for a fight. The second Older Boy says ANYTHING Younger Boy is ready to strike.

I have been talking to Older Boy about how controlling someone is also abuse. They are talking about it at daycare and therapy, too. He doesn't see it. He views it as "caring about" his brother. We have a lot of work ahead of us in this one.

I was blown away tonight when Younger Boy was playing a game and getting mad and Older Boy said "It is a game. It is for fun. There is no reason to be mad." Wow...he is listening to me. Not applying it for himself, but listening nonetheless. I told him I could parent Younger Boy and that he should try to practice not getting mad during games, too. Older Boy said it was fine for him to get mad, but NOT Younger Boy. This is the "I don't have to be accountable" mentality that makes me CRAZY!!
Older Boy had his visit with the psychiatrist for his medication check today. She modified the med which helps to control anger and aggression and changed one of the other meds so that he wouldn't have dry mouth so badly. She also wrote a note to another of his doctors because she questions why he would be taking two drugs that do nearly the same thing. Hmmm...could it be because NO ONE has been following them all together for the last year and a half?

When I picked Older Boy up from daycare I could tell he was in a mood. Foster Care Specialist had dropped him off earlier after taking him out for lunch. He immediately started yelling at me. I asked why he was mad. He told me he wasn't mad. I explained that when people are yelling at me I assume they are mad and that if is he not mad would he please stop yelling. He continued yelling. Again I asked why he was yelling. He said it is not fair to assume he is mad just because he is yelling. I asked him to please explain why he was yelling and he said he doesn't have to. Then...more yelling. It continued all the way to pick up younger boy with him insisting he was not mad. We got home and he got out of the car and slammed the door, kicked the newspaper out of the driveway and went in his room and slammed the door. Then the crying started. Then the apology...I'm sorry I was mad and yelling at you. Geesh!!

We have been working on identify what you are feeling. I am NOT the best mentor in this area of life. I am thanking God for putting Older Boy in my life to help me work through this as well.
All in all it was a good Mother's Day. I think one of my favorite parts was the card I got from Younger Boy. It was a questionairre about me. Here are his answers (with my observations):

My Mom's Name is....Denise
I Love My Mom Because...she does everything for me!
My Mom likes the Wii with me (????)
My Mom's Favorite Flower....lylaks
My Mom's Favorite Hobby....working as an engineer (I would NEVER pick this as a hobby!!)
My Mom Helps Me...with my homework
My Mom has taught me...about Juses (apparently not how to spell it!!)
Mom's favorite food....edible (if the other choice is inedible I suppose)
My favorite for mom.
My favorite thing to do with my a movie.

I love it!!
Tonight we went to a college graduation party for Babysitter A. We all had an amazing time. There actually aren't words to describe their family. I met them at church...actually sat behind them for two and a half years before introducing myself. Now I feel like they are family. They are family to my two boys.

The mom raised two AMAZING sons. Tonight I was surprised when one of them took the boys in the garage and they planted a flower for me. Babysitter Z had purchased the flower and the beautiful pink bucket this morning so the boys could give it to me for Mother's Day. I only hope I can raise these boys to be half the men those boys are.

I am touched. I am honored God chose me to be the mom of these two boys. Our life isn't easy, but it is blessed beyond words!
This afternoon I took the boys to get MUCH NEEDED haircuts. We went to Former Foster Sister, because she knows them and does a good job with them.

Older Boy wants to shave his head bald. We are going to wait until next haircut. I'm not sure if it was impulse or if it will last. He has told a lot of people so I am led to believe it is not impulse.

We bought a red hair gel for them to use on special occasions with the caveat that you MUST ask permission and I MUST put it in your hand.

About one hour later Younger Boy "forgot" all of the rules surrounding the hair gel and ended up with blood red hair that could poke your eye out it was so stiff. Not his best look!
This morning we participated in a service project at our local homeless shelter. The women volunteers did a spa day for the women who live at the shelter. The men sorted t-shirts and the kids played with the kids who live in the shelter while their moms went to the spa day.

Younger Boy was disappointed he couldn't go with the men and sort t-shirts. Older Boy seemed to have a good time playing with the kids, but then he pouted all of the way home. I asked if something was bothering him...he said he didn't know and I let it drop.

Both boys say they want to go back again. I'm glad they enjoyed their time.
Tonight the boys got it in their heads that they wanted to celebrate Cinco de Mayo a day late. They had talked about it in school the day before. Of course they thought the appropriate thing would be to have Mexican food so we went to a Mexican restaurant. Of their minds the perfect Cinco de Mayo food were grilled cheese and fries for Older Boy and chicken strips for Younger Boy. Not really what I had in mind. Also...not where I would have chosen if we were going out for dinner.

The boys watched a movie and got along GREAT all evening. It was a good end to the week.
Well….we made it through family therapy tonight. It was better than last time, but I have mixed feelings if this therapist is the right one for us. Younger Boy participates partially and Older Boy doesn’t participate at all. It has been suggested to me Older Boy would do much better with play therapy than with talk therapy. I can see how that might be true.

The boys were playing with some action figures on the way to therapy and it was interesting. They were assigning roles to the characters and saying things like “I’ll be the step father” and “Did he know the biodad?” I wonder if it was because they knew we were headed to therapy.

I agreed to weekly family therapy….which I also have mixed feelings about. Older Boy REFUSES to talk about anything other than the things that happened at school that day. He won’t even talk about what happened at home that day. He also won’t talk about the future. When he is asked a question he covers his ears and screams….”I am not talking about it”. You might wonder how this could be BETTER than last time…you’ll just have to trust me on that one.

Pray there is something to get through to Older Boy which will then help his relationship with Younger Boy. He says over and over “this doesn’t work” and “we’re never going to have a good relationship”. I talked a lot to him about how he has to do his part or it won’t work for anyone and how it is important to me that he tries while he lives with me. That just makes him mad.

Pray for wisdom about therapists. My hesitation to meet every week is that we might develop a bit of relationship and then change and I wonder if that is more damaging than just trying to switch now or waiting and switching while we can.

It breaks my heart that Older Boy thinks things will never change and that he has already done “everything” to make it better.

Thanks for listening and for your prayers!!
So...I am officially a bad mom. Younger Boy's arm was still hurting last night when I picked him up at daycare. We went home and ate dinner and then took Older Boy to Youth Group.

I took Younger Boy to Urgent Care. How frustrating!! First of all we had to have proof that I was his foster parent. Then we had to wait for consent to treat from the State. Urgent Care couldn't call them to get consent to treat, because it against their policy. I had to call for consent. Then the Abuse Hotline (where you get consent) had to call Urgent Care back, because they actually have to talk to them. It took about 40 minutes to actually get on the waiting list to see a doctor. Thankfully it wasn't an emergency!!

We got three x-rays of the left wrist. It is definitely NOT broken, but could be cracked. A radiologist has to look at the x-rays today and will call us to let us know. For now we are in a splint. If it is a sprain...which the doctor thinks...then the splint comes off this weekend. If it is a crack the splint has to stay on for two weeks.

Should I have taken him yesterday? Probably.

The boys were so giggly when we got home. They both read for a while in bed. We are working on doing that so Older Boy can improve his reading skills.

Prayers for healing of the arm.
This morning while I was driving Younger Boy to daycare I mentioned I was kind of sleepy. Younger Boy said "Don't fall asleep driving to work Mommy. I don't want anything to happen to you. You're all that me and Older Boy have."

I wish he understood how far from true that is...and I pray one day he knows.
Tonight I went to a foster parent support group. I am SO THANKFUL I went. It ended up being me, Foster Mom from Church, and THREE foster care specialists. We really got to talk about things that matter to us. Things we are struggling with and things that are going well.

They had some AWESOME suggestions for working with Older Boy. Even one suggestion would have made it worth the time.

While I was gone Younger Boy was with Babysitter T. Younger Boy LOVES him...wanted him to spend the night...can't wait to see him again. Older Boy was working on his science project with Mentor M.

I got a text message while I was gone saying "garage code please". Of course I immediately thought the boys had locked Babysitter T out of the house. Turns out the garage door number pad isn't working that well.

Younger Boy thinks Babysitter T is a "really good prayer". I agree.

No problems with the boys at home tonight...what a blessing!!
This morning the boys were going to get up at 6:15AM to read their Bibles. I love this about them. Younger Boy is VERY disciplined about it. Older Boy relies on Younger Boy. Younger Boy controls the alarm clock, because if Older Boy is in control of it our experience is that he will just let it continue to go off...until it stops on its own...which is more than 10 minutes. Younger Boy got up this morning and tried to wake Older Boy. Older Boy didn't get up. Younger Boy tried three times and gave up.

When Older Boy got up with BARELY enough time to get ready for school he was FURIOUS with Younger Boy for not waking him. Of course he had enough time to do his "I'm awesome" routine. I think we will be getting a second alarm clock for their room!!

Older Boy was nearly late for the bus again. If we had a little less "awesomeness" and a little more getting ready it would help! He still hasn't grasped that the bus driver gave him a watch, because he was always late for the bus. He is convinced it was because he is never trouble!
Today when I picked Younger Boy up from daycare he told me he had fallen off the slide at recess and hurt his wrist. He was sure he "broke 90% of his veins and his bone".

He had written a note on his arm in red marker that said "Don't touch this wrist!"

He can move all of his fingers and his hand. It isn't swollen and it really only hurts if I am around and if I need him to do something. Maybe I am a bad mom, but we are going to wait to go to the doctor.
Both boys were at daycare all day, because there was no school. The reports from both daycares was that they had GREAT days.

I wish this didn't frustrate me, but sometimes it does. I just want someone else to see the behavior that I see when I am home alone with the boys. Foster Care Specialist tells me both boys feel very safe with me and so they don't shield their behaviors from me. It is also a little bit of a test for me. They have been moved so often. Foster kiddos will often times do all of the things they perceive got them "kicked out" of every foster home to see if I will "kick them out", too.

Father...give me the grace to see past the behaviors and see the boy. Help me to love unconditionally as you love me.
We got home from church to change clothes, run a couple of errands and go to gymnastics. Sounds simple enough.

Younger Boy offered to let Older Boy sit in the front seat. He knew Older Boy had struggled at church and was offering up some kindness. Older Boy didn't see it that way. He was CONVINCED that Younger Boy was doing something to scheme and take advantage and somehow get something better than Older Boy was going to get. He stood in the garage SCREAMING!!

I asked him to go to his room and cool down. That is what we do these days so that the entire house doesn't get damaged. He didn't want to go. He thought he was calmed down. By this time he was screaming and crying "No, am calmed down." My heart was breaking for him, but we couldn't get in the car with him in that state of mind. Again...I asked him to go inside. He refused.

Younger Boy and I left him in the garage with the door open screaming while we sat on the front porch and sorted rocks. First we sorted the ones that looked like crystals. Then the shiny ones. All the while I was telling him it was a good thing he had shown kindness to his brother. It is hard for Younger Boy to understand and very frustrating to him. I also told him I wished I had a way to take him to gymnastics so he wouldn't be late, too. Younger Boy said "That's okay, Mom." I praise God that he is understanding and also tries to be kind...even when it backfires.

Finally...after over an hour and a half and approaching two hours...Older Boy was calmed down enough to get in the car and go to gymnastics.

The boys did GREAT at gymnastics. We only ended up being 15 minutes late.

When we got home the boys were laughing and playing together and had a great evening. That makes me smile and makes me thank God for them.
This morning we went to church. Things were really good on the drive there. We sat with Babysitter Z and his family. Worship was good. Younger Boy and I were singing and Older Boy was looking around. Pretty typical for our Sunday mornings.

We sat down to listen to announcements and the service and things started downhill from there. At first Older Boy was sitting between Younger Boy and Babysitter Z. We were sitting in front of Youth Group Leader. At first it was simply Older Boy with his head on his lap. Then he tore a hole in his jeans, then he removed the button-down shirt he was wearing, then he started pounding his head on his knees...POUNDING. This was followed by hitting his head with his fist...HARD. A couple of times I tried to get his attention. I was telling him that if he needed to leave to cool down he could. He couldn't hear a word I was saying. I tried to comfort him by putting my hand softly on his back. Every time I did he would pull away. I couldn't listen to the service. I just sat and prayed for Older Boy. I prayed that God would remove all those demons going through his mind. I prayed that God would somehow give him peace.

I started to cry. We took communion and sang the last worship song and tears rolled down my face. I couldn't quit. Youth Group Leader and Babysitter Z both prayed for me. That is the first time I have cried publicly. I want so badly to help Older Boy, but I know it isn't me who can heal him. I do know the ONE who can.