Denise
We got home this evening and everyone is tired.  Very tired.

It was a long week. 

We have enough stress right now to consume us, but we haven't let it...YET.

Pray for rest for us.
Denise
Now I have to start by saying I have never been a middle school coach or really any kind of coach that I can remember, but if I were a coach and I wanted my team to be competitive I suspect I would select the positions the kids played.  Maybe assign them to the ones they were good at or seemed to fit the mold of.

So tonight when I picked up Younger Boy from practice I asked him which team he made, A, B, or C.  He still doesn't know.  I still wonder if HE doesn't know, but everyone else does or if it truly hasn't been announced yet.

I asked him when their first game is.  I think I have determined the thing next Wednesday is a scrimmage.  They aren't supposed to dress out for practice on Tuesday.  That leads me to believe there is some sort of a competition the next day.  Pretty good detective work, right?

So I asked Younger Boy which position he was going to be playing.  For those of you who have met Younger Boy...any guesses?  WRONG...Younger Boy is on the offensive line.  Yes...you read that correctly.  He volunteered/chose to be on the offensive line.  Never mind the fact that he weighs less than ninety pounds and has to grow at least four more inches to hit five foot.  He's a lineman.

The thing that happened next was interesting.  He said "Mom, what does an offensive lineman do?"  Oh my...I explained it to him.  He thinks it is the position for him...protecting someone.

So...maybe the seven doughnuts on Thursday night were part of his bulking up plan to become an offensive lineman...who knows?
Denise
Somehow now we are back to not knowing when we will close.

Realtor told me the seller's agent misunderstood the paperwork needed and they don't actually have it in hand and he is still trying to help them figure this out.

Contractually they were supposed to be ready no later than today. 

As I have been praying about this and thinking about it and what will need to be done should we not be able to close this week it occurred to me that there is a perk to this happening.  I will not have a house payment to make in the month of October since I will be buying the house in September.

At least there is something good about it that I can be thankful for.
Denise
I HATE being lied to.  Hate it.

All week I have been told by Middle Boy that he staying caught up on homework and turning in everything before leaving school. 

I have been reviewing the parent website daily, but there hasn't been much information there until today.

Middle Boy has NOT been doing his homework.  Not even close.  He read and took notes on chapter 1 and 2 of the novel he is supposed to read and got an A.  Failed to do chapters 3 and 4.  Got a D.

His first two math assignments...missing in their entirety.  This is after he spent the entire drive this morning telling me that math is so much easier this year.  Of course...DOING NOTHING is really easy.

I'm not doing this again this year.  He is going to have to bring home every assignment and PROVE to me it is completed.

Now to start emailing ALL of his teachers.  Lucky me.

Prayers I don't come unglued while talking to him about it tonight.
Denise
Mom J shared this with me today.  While my two boys are not disabled in what people would consider the traditional sense of disabled my boys require parenting which is different.  They require an understanding of the ways in which their trauma history has stunted their emotional growth.

I love this list.  I need to refer to it often.


Thanks for the beautiful reminder.
Denise
Tonight when I finally had a chance to check my email I had a message telling me the power letter for our new house was issued late yesterday afternoon and we should be able to close early next week.

Praise God.
Denise
Today I had my therapy.  I love having this time to just talk about what is going on with us.  Since I write this blog most of my friends and family KNOW what is going on, but no one really talks to me about it.

We talked about the behaviors the boys have been having over the past week or so.  Behaviors which are unexpected and some of which I don't understand what is going on.

We talked about the stages of emotional attachment of kiddos with RAD.  We talked about how to attach they have to go clear back to the infant stages and move through each stage of attachment to get to their chronological age.  Sometimes they will go through the stages quite quickly if they are older.

Through our discussions she was able to point out to me that my boys are healing.  She gave me examples of how just a few weeks ago what I was talking about were infant attachment in Middle Boy and now his attachment behaviors more resemble a five or six year old with the "watch me, play with me, hold my hand" stages.

She also gave examples of how Younger Boy was also in the infant stages a couple of weeks ago and is now a toddler emotionally.  He wants all the attention and doesn't want anyone else to be around me.  She said this is what clinging to your leg walking around the house probably looks like in a twelve year old.

We talked about my feelings about saying no to the new placement.

We talked about my feelings about the move and all of the things surrounding the move.

It was a good session and I am so very thankful to have her!!
Denise
During the whole "math thing" with Middle Boy, Younger Boy was clamouring for attention. 

His behaviors have declined over the past few weeks and he shows many signs of being toddler like.

He pulled out some homework.  He wanted my undivided attention to help him.  He didn't know what he was supposed to do.

It was past his bedtime.  There wasn't homework listed in his agenda for tomorrow.  This homework is due NEXT THURSDAY.

What he wanted was for me to pay attention to him.  When I told him I would love to help him, but Middle Boy's homework was due tomorrow he ripped up the paper and stormed out of the room crying and screaming he'll just go to bed.

I went in and told him I loved him and kissed him goodnight.  Tomorrow I'll email the IEP holder to see if she can put another worksheet in his bag.

Prayers for behaviors and understanding on all of our parts.
Denise
Middle Boy has been working on a packet for his AutoCad class all week.  It is a packet on fractions and measurement.  Both are important for AutoCad and technical drawing.  Neither is a strong suit of Middle Boy.

The packet is due tomorrow.  He started out working on it tonight already frustrated, because he was the "only" one who didn't finish it in class.

He hates math.  He isn't afraid to voice his opinion on it.  He doesn't understand why he would EVER have to learn it.  I get tired of hearing it and it doesn't make the time or the assignment go any smoother or better if you keep saying it over and over.  If when I am trying to explain something you interrupt and say "I hate math".

We started off on the wrong foot tonight.  I checked what he had done in class and when I said he had some of them wrong (poor choice of words) I could just see him getting enraged and shutting down.  He violently started erasing EVERY answer in the whole packet.

I got him to stop and we took a break.  We went to the couch.  We took some deep breaths.  I asked him to instead say "I can handle this with help" instead of saying "I hate this and I can't do it."

He gets frustrated with me, because I can do the problems in my head.  I would never say that I have LOVED math, but it comes fairly easily for me.  On top of that I use what he was doing ALL DAY in my job.  The fact that I can do them like that is one of the defenses he tries to use against me.

After the fifteen minute break we went back to the table and he sat down and we worked through the problems...every single page and every single problem.  I believe he understands them.  Toward the end he was doing them completely on his own.

When we finished I gave him a hug and told him I am proud of him...for many reasons.  I am proud of him for sticking through it.  I am proud of him for calming down and coming back to it.  I am proud of him for REALLY TRYING to change his attitude.  I am really proud of him for asking for my help, because it doesn't come easy for him to do that.

This isn't going to be easy for either of us.  He does need A LOT of help in math.  I am committed to helping him.

Prayers for wisdom and understanding.  Prayers for communication and learning.

Denise
We stopped at the home of K to pick up a cooler and check how much freezer space they have available as swing space during our move.

Plenty of freezer space.  Good to know we can just put our food in a trash bag and throw it in their freezer.

They are in the process of redoing some of their house so we went to see their new basement carpet and all of their freshly repainted rooms.  They had a crew of people helping them move furniture around and set things up so the boys jumped in and helped.

Younger Boy helped move carpet and vacuum.  Middle Boy helped set up the TV, stereo, DVD, whatever else combo.

They were also getting rid of furniture and other miscellaneous stuff.  From our errand we were given the following...
  1. A roll of carpet to use in our unfinished basement.
  2. A bookshelf with drawers for Younger Boy's room.
  3. A bookshelf with cabinets for Middle Boy's room.
  4. A comforter, bed skirt, and pillow shams for my room.  This is from when their house was staged and on the market and wasn't really their first choice of "stuff".
All of it is going to be DELIVERED to the new house by our good friend, J.

We are SO VERY BLESSED.

Praises for our friends...all of them.
Denise
While we were at Walmart tonight Younger Boy and I bought a dozen doughnuts.  If we were splitting them up it would be four for each of us.  That is what would happen in a perfectly equal harmonious world.

Because the back of our vehicle is FILLED with things for the move the doughnuts needed to be in the back seat with Younger Boy. 

It is a 30 minute drive home from therapy plus we had to run one other quick errand.

Middle Boy and I were talking and Younger Boy asked if he could have a doughnut.  Sure....he had eaten dinner.

By the time Middle Boy looked back and asked to be handed a doughnut Younger Boy had eaten SEVEN doughnuts.

What on earth!!

I told him he was done with doughnuts.  He was done with sugar for the night.  This is when I got the "no one told him to only have one doughnut" and "no one told him doughnuts have lots of sugar". 

In the past he has struggled with food hoarding and hiding.  As best I can tell (no ants, no crazy things stuck to clothes from sleeping on them) he isn't hiding food anymore. 

There are strategies for food hoarding that sometimes become necessary with foster kiddos.  I REALLY don't want to do them.

I am hoping once we get through the adoption this will just fix itself, but it is getting a lot worse.

Pray for resolution of food issues and that they are just temporary.
Denise
Tonight it was too hot to sit outside during Middle Boy's therapy.  That is what we usually do if it is nice out.  Younger Boy and I sit outside and either chat, read, or play games on our phones.  Just depends on the evening.

Way too hot tonight so we made a quick trip to Walmart and then went and sat in the waiting room at Therapist L's office.

When Middle Boy's therapy was over she asked if I could come in and chat for a minute.  Absolutely although I know it is NEVER good when someone like that wants to "chat".

She wondered about us moving.  She had planned a public service day for the boys in her group therapy program.  They were going to be working at a booth in our city's "Stop the Violence" day.  How I wish he could do this, but we actually are scheduled to move that day.

I think she thought it was just an excuse.  I'm thankful he was telling the truth.

I am still thinking he might be able to help them out for a couple of hours since it is an all day event.  I think it is important for him to see how violence has affected lives.  It has absolutely affected his in the past.

Prayers for a solution and praises for telling the truth.
Denise
Interestingly enough we may be homeless as of September 10th. 

We are now in an ironic situation with the closing of the new house.

The following is the email I just got from Lender.

Just wanted to make you aware that the title company closer is out September 7 - September 11.  To close before she leaves will require that we have the Power Letter in hand no later than Monday morning.  This is not good news, but needed to be shared with you.

As I'm sure Realtor may have told you already, the city sent someone out to again inspect that which had previously failed, but the home was locked so the inspection was not performed.

I'm CC'ing Realtor and the listing agent here to make sure everyone is aware of this new development and not surprised by any additional delay that may result from it.

So...there you have it.  The buyers close on our home on September 10th.  We may not be able to close until September 12th.  In looking at our schedule this might require us to move twice, because we will have to move our stuff out of the current house by the 10th.  To where?  No idea.

When I look at our schedule I see that the first time we can actually move in is September 29th....ten days after the adoption.  The weekend after the adoption celebration.

Realtor and Lender are working very hard to help.

When I think about where we will stay there are LOTS of complications.  We would have to stay with someone on our respite list, because the boys are still part of the foster care system.  We would have to be somewhere that can either have Sophie there or we would have to find an alternate arrangement for her.

Pray this works out.  At this point I am not really stressed out about it.  There isn't anything I can really do.  It might be HORRIBLY inconvenient for a whole lot of people, but there is obviously something I am supposed to be learning from all of this.



Denise
Here is what I found out about the power letter....some from what Realtor and Lender were able to find out and some from my contacts at the city since I am on one of the planning boards.

We cannot get a certificate of occupancy on the new house.  Not because there is anything wrong with it necessarily, but because no one ever had the plumbing inspected.  The certificate can't be issued until all permits are closed.  The building permit, closed.  The mechanical permit, closed.  The electrical permit, closed.  The temporary power permit, closed.  Two plumbing permits are still open.  One for the house itself and the other for the lawn irrigation system.

By law we have to be cleared to close for 48 hours before the closing.  If we had gotten the letter yesterday we could have closed yet this week and started moving things this holiday weekend.

Now it is looking more like Tuesday at the soonest.  It will become a mess if it goes past Thursday of next week.

Praying for a timely resolution to all of this.  At this point there is no action we can do to make it move any faster.
Denise
For those of you who put the psychiatric hospital on speed dial "just in case" I have made a decision regarding the temporary placement.

He will not be coming to live in our home.  Had things been different with the move and the adoptions and school starting I think he would have come to live with us and we would have all been in agreement.

I am going to offer specific weekends we will be available to provide respite for the family who takes him into their home or his biological family depending on the route they choose.

Thanks for praying for us while we made this decision.  While it may seem obvious what we should do it really wasn't that easy.

Prayers for this boy.  His life is going to be rough for the next year or so.  Pray there is a family able to intervene and help.

Pray I am not overcome with guilt for not taking this placement.  Right now I am confident this is what should happen, but the enemy has a way of making me second guess and doubt.

Denise
Younger Boy is still ALL IN for having another foster brother.

After I dropped off Younger Boy I asked Middle Boy if he had thought more about it.  I knew full well he had.

He said I think it is a bad idea.  I asked him to give me his specific concerns.  He gave me some vague answer that made no sense.

I said "look at me.  You are a part of this family.  You have a voice.  If I didn't care about your opinion I wouldn't ask you and I would just do what I wanted to.  Now, what are your concerns?"

He still mumbled something about it being a bad idea.  I asked him what was preventing him from telling me what he though.  He said he didn't trust that I cared about his opinion.

I immediately told him I was proud of him for recognizing that and for having the courage to tell me. 

He went on to tell me he feels our life is stressful right now with everything going on...the move, the adoptions, just starting school.  I validated that those were my exact concerns as well.  I also told him my biggest concern was how it would affect he and Younger Boy.

I think we made BIG STRIDES in our relationship this morning and I am so very grateful for it.
Denise
Younger Boy needs pictures of our family tomorrow morning.

We just got home from youth group and are heading for bed.

He worked on homework when he got home from football.  I even checked his assignment notebook.  No mention of said pictures.

We are moving....all of our family pictures are in boxes AT A STORAGE UNIT.  Our printer is not working...repeat of baby photo from last night.

When did he know he needed pictures of our family. 

What's that?  Tuesday after school.  What day and time is it now?  Oh, Wednesday, bedtime.

Now is not the time to start crying about us not having pictures.  When there is NOTHING we can do about it.

I wrote the teacher a note explaining the situation.  Then we talked about the importance of passing on information as soon as we knew.

Prayers the teacher will understand.
Denise
Tonight we had a family meeting regarding taking the temporary foster child into our home.

I expected to be met with IMMEDIATE rejection and resistance.  Maybe I was kind of hoping for it.

Because it is their home, too, I was honest about the story of the kiddo.  I told them what his behaviors were and why he needed a home for a little while.

Younger Boy was ALL IN.  As far as he was concerned this kiddo could move in yet tonight. 

Middle Boy was more introspective.  I could tell he was really going back and forth in his mind.  I expected him to be an immediate "no way".

I asked the boys to think about it and pray about it.  I told them they are part of this family and their vote and opinions matter.  I explained sometimes it would be necessary for me to overrule their vote, but they deserve to be heard.

Prayers for wisdom for the boys and for me going forward.

Denise
Today we had the intake meeting for Middle Boy's independent living meeting.  All I can say is WOW.  His life skills coach is AMAZING.

Because he was a ward of the state past age 14 he qualifies for the project.  His permanency objective is adoption...next month.  Doesn't matter.  He is 15 and still in the system.

The program AMAZING.

Here's what they do for the kiddos in the program....
  1. Take them to get their learner's permit.
  2. Enroll them in and PAY FOR driver's ed.  They provide transportation to and from every session.
  3. They have companies and entities they work with and will help you find a part time job within reasonable distance of your home.
  4. They help prepare resumes.
  5. They make sure you know you are pell grant eligible.
  6. They help with scholarships and all of the programs available to wards of the state.
  7. They have a bank they work with to set up accounts and teach budgeting and money management classes.  They even have an "account manager" at the bank to help them when they overdraft.
  8. They have savings/matching programs that help nearly everything.
    • The savings program for a car is you save $1000 they give you $4000.  They max you out at you saving $2000, but they will let you get a new car each year you are in the program.  Starting when you have a valid drivers license.
    • They have a matching account of housing expenses.  This one is a one for one match.  This can go toward rent, deposits, or whatever is associated with housing.
    • They have a matching account for college.  This is also a one for one match.
    • They have a matching account for starting a small business.  This matches two to one and they help with the business plan.
  9. You can take homemaking skills classes...how to cook, do laundry, clean, whatever.
What are the disadvantages to the program?  That more wards of our state don't know about it.

They have recently started a program where if you are a sibling of the ward of the state and were once a state ward you are grandfathered in.  Maybe not for all parts of the program, but for most of them.  So this means Younger Boy may qualify as well.

You remain in the program until age TWENTY FOUR.

The first meeting for Middle Boy is in 10 days.  They will talk about the information he needs to gather to get his learner's permit and then they will go the following week.

Praises for an AMAZING program with AMAZING workers.  This whole thing...such a blessing.  Praises for the team who started this program and recognized the need.  Prayers more foster kiddos can take advantage of it.

Denise
Middle school football with a kiddo who doesn't pay attention to detail...gotta love it.

There isn't a published schedule for the games yet.  Why?  I'm not exactly sure.  Is there really not a schedule available?  I don't know.  Is it because Younger Boy didn't pick one up or go get one or even hear there was one?  Maybe.

Tomorrow they will find out if they are on the A, B, or C team.  Middle Boy in his "ever so helpful" way told him he will likely be on B and maybe even C.  No explanation...just the "helpful" comment.

Younger Boy does know there might be a game next Wednesday...or maybe it is the following Wednesday.  He isn't sure what they said.

Looks like a call to the school is in my near future.  I AM NOT the "hey which team is my kid on?" mom.  Honestly my motivation is I don't want to be the "get a call from school we have a game today" mom.

Prayers for information and communication.  A little attention to detail thrown in on the part of Younger Boy (stop laughing now) wouldn't hurt either!
Denise
This morning when I dropped off Younger Boy he said he didn't know if he wanted to play football anymore.

When I asked why he said "practicing every day is just too much.  I would prefer just once a week."

I fought off the urge to say "welcome to really life, buddy".

The agreement we made was that if he went out for football he would NOT quit during the season.  I don't think it is acceptable to not finish something you start.  Therefore...he will remain a part of the seventh grade football team until October 10.

I hope he doesn't do something stupid like purposely get hurt or purposely become academically ineligible.  Neither is out of the realm of possibility.

Prayers for a great football season!!
Denise

This is a photo of me...this is what I am doing in regard to the possible placement.  I am pretending it doesn't exist.  I am pretending no decision needs to be made.  I am pretending there are no conversations which need to happen.  I am pretending there is nothing to talk about.

Yesterday I was torn without much information about the child.  Today I have a TON of information and I am even more torn.  Here's my problem...I CAN help this child.  I have the skill set and the understanding of behaviors to make a difference.  His situation is heart wrenching.  Completely heart wrenching.

Here are the questions I need to ask God...
  1. Is this what you want from me?
  2. Is this boy a good fit in my home?
  3. Can I make a difference?
  4. Would my heart be able to let him go at the end of the "temporary" placement?
  5. Is this the right thing for the two boys he has already entrusted in my care?
  6. What is it about this that scares me?
  7. What is it that makes me even think this is remotely a good idea?
  8. Am I crazy?
  9. What behaviors might I get from my two?
So many questions...and I am just waiting for a whisper...or a SHOUT...anything from God on this.  Maybe it would be easier to hear if I didn't have my head buried in the sand, but for now I like it here.

Denise
Tonight I made the boys a travel itinerary and drew them a map.

Where are they going?  TO BED.  They have had a difficult time getting there the past couple of days so I decided it was time to remind them of the location and estimated time of arrival.

They did a little bit better.  We'll try again tomorrow night.
Denise
You have to earn trust.  Middle Boy doesn't get that.

He thinks with everything that he should be able to do what he wants and I should like it and not say anything.  He's a teenager.

He thinks he should be able to text, be online and whatever else until he "gets too tired" as long as he doesn't have an attitude problem the next day. 

Here's the thing.  To him he NEVER has an attitude problem.  I force him to have an attitude problem.  He is always "provoked".

He will be just following the rules.  If he follows them he will earn trust and then the rules may relax...we'll have to see.
Denise
I can't even believe I am saying this...we might not be able to close on the new house on Friday.

Here's the new issue...

Because our new home was a model home the lender is considering it new construction...which it technically is.  As a result it kicks in some additional paperwork which needs to be provided by the builder in order to close on the loan.

One of these things is a "certificate of occupancy" or in the case of our city a "power letter" which is issued by the city planning department.

No one seems to be able to locate the power letter for our new home.  No one seems to know if one was ever issued.  The person with the city who issues them is gone until September 10th and her replacement isn't returning calls to Realtor or Lender.  I'm not sure if Builder and Other Realtor are helping with this process or not.

So...the power letter has to be to Lender Wednesday afternoon in order to close this week.  Honestly I am not sure what the other option is.

There have been SO MANY things which have been so frustrating with this process.  God...what are you trying to tell me?  What am I supposed to be learning?

Pray for answers today...whatever they might be.
Denise
As I looked around the house tonight I can't help but wonder if we are really ready to move.  Have we done enough?  Is it going to be too chaotic?  Do we have enough help?  Do we have any help?  What should we do between now and then to make it smoother?  What can just wait?

I am going to make myself crazy.

Prayers for peace for me.

Denise
More work on the mathematics timeline.  Younger Boy is still not enrolled in math...just mathematics.  Every time he corrects me it makes me smile.

Today he needed to draw the pictures associated with each of the events.  Ms. W helped him to create a "happier" timeline last week during school therefore making it a bit easier to work on the project.

He got wrapped up in the picture drawing...until he got to needing to draw a picture of a baby.  For whatever reason he INSISTED that it needed to be printed from the computer.  That's fine, but for whatever reason we couldn't get anything to print.  The whole thing isn't due until Friday, but this has now become all about this baby picture and less about the rest of the assignment.  I suspect it is because that is the part he can wrap his brain around.

Today he got another assignment...for another class.  This time he has to write about his favorite birthday party as a child.  Really?  Come on people?  More tears.  I was able to convince him that you are still a child (because you are) at age 11 so his first birthday party with me would count.  He could write about that.

I can't wait until these beginning of the year assignments are past us and you don't have to do "getting to know you" assignments.

Prayers for wisdom in how to talk to him about these things.  Prayers for peace for him as he works through how to handle these types of assignments.
Denise
Today was Younger Boy's normal therapy.  Honestly I haven't reconciled in my mind him missing TWO HOURS of school each week for therapy.  I'm torn, because in the grand scheme of his life therapy is probably significantly more important, but so is school.  School is what you are measured by as a kid.

It's no secret Younger Boy is having big feelings and behaviors.  One minute he is giving kooky stories, the next he is enraged, and then I have a toddler on my hands.  Therapist C calls it Little Younger Boy wandering around.  She talks a lot about being your "oldest self".  I rarely know who I am going to get these days.

This is the stress of the days leading up to adoption.  Add onto it the fact that our move was pushed back TWICE and is now still looming in front of us.  He also started middle school AND football. 

His brain is full.  Some of the stuff he is thinking about needs to come out through talking...not behavior.

There were two things he wanted to focus on which have been his triggers lately...the move and the guilt over "telling on" Bio Mom.

The move is a trigger because he has moved before.  He knows what that is about.  The difference is that every other time it has meant not only a new home, but also a new family.  The idea of moving is stressful for him.  It brings up big feelings and although "smart brain" KNOWS it will be the same family and all of his stuff is making the move "tricky brain" makes him question it.

We talked about guilt surrounding his bio family.  He believes (as most foster kids do) that it is his fault the family is not together.  If he could have been a better kid, if he could have not had nightmares, if only....

Therapist D was pretty blunt with him.  She told him that in cases where there is violence in the home sometimes kids die.  Sometimes it is the FIRST time there is violence.  She told him that is kind of where his life turned lucky.  The violence didn't kill him and there were adults who loved him enough to protect him.

We did the EMDR surrounding the guilt over "telling on" Bio Mom.  After the hour was over we were finally getting to the underlying thought.  He was convinced that by "telling on her" she would no longer love him.  There it is.  It took six or seven iterations of the lights to get there.  There were a lot of tears.

What is so fascinating about Younger Boy is how "smart brain" is REALLY SMART.  He can logically think through the entire scenario and figure it out.  "Tricky brain" is REALLY STRONG in him.  It overrides "smart brain" nearly every time and he becomes less capable of figuring things out.  It is so interesting to watch.

Prayers for continued healing and open discussions.

Praises for finding this amazing therapy...where we live.  God, thank you for opening the right doors for healing and support.  You knew what we needed...what he needed...and YOU ARE SO GOOD.
Denise
I received a call today about the possibility of taking in a temporary placement.

In this case temporary is defined as the school year.

Here's the situation...the boy isn't currently part of the foster care system.  He lives with his grandparents out of town and has for years.  The grandfather is terminally ill and they are unable to care for him in the manner in which they feel like they should.  It is anticipated the grandfather will die before Christmas, but the placement would be for the school year in order to not disrupt him twice during the year.

He is fifteen years old. 

The family is trying to do a "private" placement and will turn over his Medicaid and stipend to the family willing to be the caregiver for the year.

I have A LOT of questions.  I gave the caseworker a list of 30 and am sending another later this afternoon.

I'm torn, because we are in a good place right now for the most part.  I know what I am up against on a daily basis.  That doesn't mean it is always fun or without stress, but it is a known.

On the other hand there is this kid who needs a place and I could make a difference if just for a season.

Prayers for wisdom and direction and to hear His voice in this matter.
Denise
I have a confession to make.  I am COMPLETELY unreasonable.
 
COMPLETELY.  Not one single drop of reason in this mind of mine.
 
Here's what I "don't understand".
  1. 9PM is an unreasonable time to stop texting for the night.
  2. You can't just stop texting.  Sometimes it takes an HOUR to wrap it up.
  3. The conversations are important to his social life.
  4. Obviously I don't want him to have ANY friends. 
I've seen these texting conversations.  You could sum them up in under and hour.
 
Here's an example...(as seen on his phone)
 
wat up
nun
brd
me 2
kewl
wat up
bzy
k
brb
k
 
wat up
brd, u?
brd
kewl
 
Seriously?  You can't wrap this up in under an hour?
 
I explained I trust him to stop at 9PM, but I am reviewing times.  If it continues to go much past then the phone and iPod will have to be in my possession overnight.
 
Pray for wisdom for me!!
Denise
Tonight I was given the following question...which is more important...
  1. Following the rules regarding the time to stop texting  OR
  2. Getting good sleep
In my head the two are not mutually exclusive.  The rules regarding texting are in place so getting good sleep can occur.

So...I picked following the rules.  Apparently not the answer they were looking for.  Foiled again!!

Prayers for sleep...we all need it.
Denise
Middle Boy is COMPLETELY out of sorts right now...COMPLETELY.

This evening while Younger Boy was showering I went into their room to try to talk to Middle Boy.

I asked what is going on with him.  He said he has been wanting someone to talk to, but has been waiting for someone to notice he isn't himself and ask.  Hello?  Isn't this exactly what I am doing right now?

I told him I was here to listen to whatever he wanted to talk about.  That is when I got blasted with how I just don't care about anything and don't notice when he has something going on and needs to talk.

He yelled at me on that topic for about five minutes.  When he was done I told him that was actually the reason I originally went into the room.

I left still not knowing what is going on, but more frustrated with him than when I entered.

The fact there are a lot of stressful things in his life right now is not going unnoticed by me.

Prayers for peace for Middle Boy.  Prayers for a willingness to be open and communicate.
Denise
We are off of tracker services.

Since Middle Boy was removed from tracker services last Thursday they have done the curfew call EVERY NIGHT.  It is getting a bit annoying.

Tonight I reminded them AGAIN he is not longer required to have tracker.

Any bets on when they will stop calling?
Denise
Both boys want to do a weight loss program.

Younger Boy doesn't really have any weight to lose.  I think he weighs just under 90 pounds.

According to his doctor Middle Boy could lose up to 30 pounds for his height.  Tonight he decided he wants to do that.

Of course since everything in our home is an emergency Middle Boy didn't see why the 30 pounds couldn't be lost before homecoming on September 22....this year.

I explained that it is the safest to lose 1 or 2 pounds a week.  When calculated that will take almost all school year.  In Middle Boy's mind that is just ridiculous.

We talked about healthy eating, exercise, and drinking water.  He currently drinks about 8 ounces of water per day...total.  He only drinks it, because he has a med which must be taken with water.  When I told him he needed a MINIMUM of 64 ounces per day he thought it would be a good idea to drink it at 8:30PM this evening.  Luckily I was able to stop it so he wasn't up in the bathroom the entire night.

He doesn't want to go to the gym, because there are other people there.  He would rather I buy all of the gym equipment a gym has and put it in our basement.  Not going to happen.

He asked me to go through the school lunch menu with him so he could make the "best choices".  Turns out he doesn't like any of those so he'll just have "whatever".

Luckily their "programs" never last very long so by the end of the week we will be able to stop discussing this and we'll be on to something else.

Prayers for health for all of us.  At this point that is the best we can do.
Denise
Kooky stories are what the attachment and trauma center calls stories that make no sense.  Things that are OBVIOUSLY lies and just keep getting bigger.

Today when I checked Younger Boy's assignment notebook it said he didn't have his rough draft timeline done.

This is the same timeline that was worked on last week and again on Saturday morning.  Now it is missing.

When I asked Younger Boy about it I got a kooky story.  It started with him not being in the room when the assignment was being made so he didn't know there was a rough draft due.  When I told him he knew on Friday a rough draft was due and we had worked on it Saturday morning and he TOLD ME it was due on Monday.

He said he had asked "a kid" that morning when it was due and they told him Friday so he decided to leave it in his book bag.  Never mind the book bag was at school and in his locker with the timeline in it.

He is insisting on telling me it is due on Friday.  More kooky stories were given as evidence the first kooky story was a possibility.  I finally had to ask him to stop talking about the timeline assignment, because it was really getting silly.

Survival stories...I get it.  Doesn't make them less frustrating or absurd.  Doesn't make the teachers at school understand.  What they understand is the homework didn't get done.

Aargh...we are only in week two of school.

Prayers we can get thinking on track for a better school year.
Denise
Middle Boy is working on his therapy homework and it said to provide a detailed answer to the following question, "How has abuse played a role in your life?"

He answered in one sentence and then read it to me with the claim the assignment was done.  I asked the five questions which come with "detail"...who?  what?  when?  where?  and why?  I asked him if all of the questions were answered as part of his reply.  Hmmm....he didn't consider it.

Now there is an appropriate answer to the therapy question.

Prayers he will start to understand the importance of the therapy homework and stop "going through the motions".
Denise
This afternoon we Middle Boy and I met with Probation Officer to turn in our itinerary for TWO out of state trips.

We have not been able to go out of state since FEBRUARY.  He hasn't been able to go out of town during that time.

It feels good to be able to have more freedom.  It's still a hassle to have to go to the probation office and turn in the paperwork and get the appropriate signatures.

Praises for freedom.
Denise
Today Middle Boy basically asked for permission to loiter after school.

His claim is during the day there is no opportunity to hang out with friends and so the only time he has available to him is after school.

School gets out at 2:40PM.  He is requesting he not be picked up until 3:30PM.  I don't think so.  You don't need 50 unsupervised minutes.

I was willing to give him until 3PM, but that wasn't good enough for him.  He said "all or nothing".

I chose nothing.  He made the choice of all or nothing.  I believe he is regretting the challenge of all or nothing, but he would never admit it.

Prayers this does not cause an attitude problem.
Denise
There is a direct correlation between the days when Younger Boy chooses to not take his morning medication and the types of choices he makes.

Today it was bad choice after bad choice.

When you repeatedly do the same thing over and over and get into trouble EVERY time saying you're sorry doesn't hold much weight.  The only thing you could possibly be sorry for is that you were caught.  You are obviously not sorry for the behavior, because you have continued to repeat it.  At that point in my mind apologizing is like openly lying to me.

We had this scenario on three separate occasions this evening with three different behaviors.  There were privileges lost.  We discussed consequences.  We talked about how this happens every time he doesn't take his morning meds even though they are sitting right next to him at breakfast and he has been reminded.

Prayers for understanding of the correlation and better choices to be made.
Denise
Younger Boy had two pool parties today.  Six hours of swimming.

Middle Boy and I went to the second one.

It was a nice time with friends who had volunteered at the teenage boys camp.

Younger Boy struggled with direction following.  He struggled with getting along with other kids...especially his brother.

Both boys were very toddler-like in constantly wanting me to watch every single thing they did.  As the adoption continues to get closer the more this behavior has escalated.

Praises for beautiful weather for the parties and good friends to share the time with.
Denise
For whatever reason Younger Boy decided not to take his medication this morning.

Generally speaking I put their meds on the table before breakfast and they take them.

Today he chose to put his back in the drawer where we keep meds when I was out of the room.

Why?  No idea!!  I imagine it is because for that moment he could control something.

By noon it was COMPLETELY OBVIOUS what had happened!  He was giggly, couldn't sit still, and wouldn't quit talking.  At that time it was too late to do anything about it...so we got to spend a completely unfocused day.

Prayers for the day.  I will need superhuman patience.
Denise
Middle Boy has been doing a lot of talk about ancestors and his family history.

On our lazy day Saturday I decided I would do a free trial on an ancestry website just to see how far we could get on his family tree.

To say we were blessed by the website would be an understatement.  There is someone in his family who has done A LOT of work and we were able to trace Bio Mom's family all the way back to 1717.  Bio Dad's family...we don't even know his parent's names.

I also tried to do one for Younger Boy.  I got him and his parents and was stopped dead in my tracks.

We had a lot of fun doing the research and it was a nice family activity.
Denise
One of Middle Boy's behavior triggers is having anything on his shoes or his clothes. 

This trigger causes him to become enraged.  Truly enraged. 

Today Younger Boy accidentally left the door to their room open and Sophie unlaced Middle Boy's shoes. 

He was over the top angry.  He was screaming at Younger Boy for leaving the door open.  He was screaming at me, because I "didn't care" that his shoes were RUINED.  He was mad at everyone, because Sophie needs to be trained and NO ONE is doing it.

It took him about twenty minutes to calm down.  During that time he went around the house slamming doors and glaring at everyone and screaming at Sophie to get out of his way.

Afterward he felt guilty.  He came to me and told me he was sorry.  He just doesn't know why he gets so mad.  (I do, but he doesn't want to hear it.)

Once he apologized he wanted me to sit by him and read to him. 

He followed the steps of reactive attachment trauma behavior to a tee.

I am thankful I can now see it for what it is.  It doesn't make it any less disruptive or stressful necessarily, but at least I have a basic understanding that he really can't help it.  I just need to learn to not escalate it.

Prayers for attachment and therapy which will help this PTSD behavior.  Praises for the wisdom to understand what is going on with him.
Denise
Today was a completely lazy day.

It should have been a day filled with packing, but it wasn't.

It all started when Middle Boy's therapy was cancelled due to a death in Therapist L's family.  That allowed sleeping in.

I did leave the house to get my haircut and go to Walmart.  I wouldn't have made the trip to Walmart, but we needed to pick up Younger Boy's replacement glasses for the ones that are lost.

It was good rainy weather for that kind of day.  We'll probably regret it later, but we don't get many of those kind of days so I like to take the opportunity when we can.
Denise
Tonight we were invited to dinner by a couple from church who have a little girl they adopted from Ethiopia.  M and I have been talking a lot about attachment through email, but hadn't been able to just get together and discuss it.

It was a WONDERFUL evening.  M and A were so hospitable.  My boys loved playing with their boys.  In fact at one point Younger Boy asked if it would be okay if he just spent the night.  Nothing like making yourself feel right at home!!

M and I chatted about the frustrations of having kiddos who struggle with attachment.  The biggest challenge we both face is what is the difference between normal behavior or simply their personality and what is an attachment behavior.  Sometimes they look so similar and we are both scared of doing something to hinder attachment.

We talked about the possibility of having a group at our church who meet once a month to talk about their victories and struggles as adoptive and foster parents. 

It was such a great evening.  I can't wait to reciprocate!!
Denise
I picked up Middle Boy from high school today.  (Thankful J will be back next week for transportation duties!!)

When he got in the car I asked how his day was and he said fine. 

Sorry...not going to cut it.

I asked specific questions about each class which could not be answered with a mere one word answer.  By the end of the conversation he was openly discussing school with me WITHOUT me asking questions.

Dare I say he likes high school?

He made the comment that he prefers the core class day to the elective day.  My impression is he knows more of what to expect in the core classes and electives are more of an unknown.  He is really uncomfortable in situations where he doesn't clearly know what is going to happen.

Praises for open communication with Middle Boy.  Praises he is enjoying school right now.
Denise
Middle Boy is having LOTS of big feelings right now.  They are coming out in LOTS of different ways.

Last night he posted this on Facebook

If I died right now who would really care?

He got the following responses from my friends for which I am SO THANKFUL....

JO - I would, I hate being so busy.  We haven't had you and your family over to play.

PH - I would miss seeing your smiling face every week.

AK - I would miss you, because I think you are wonderful, but I would also miss having someone to teach to flip off the diving board.

RO - I'd pretty much be majorly bummed.  I think you're a pretty cool dude and I look forward to seeing you out and about and in church.  If you need to talk or go fishing or anything else tell your mom to call me.

AZ - I would certainly miss you.  I wouldn't be needed as an arm rest and I would probably forget how short I am.

Thank you...from the bottom of my heart...thank you.

Middle Boy has a tendency to be quite dark in his thoughts any way and he is really struggling with the feelings of guilt about the adoption.

Praise God for the wonderful adults he has placed in the lives of my boys.
Denise
My friends, M and J, just received their foster care license yesterday.

The words J wrote on her blog brought immediate tears to my eyes and brough back so many emotions from not that long ago.

Foster Parenting

J...such beautiful words, from such a beautiful heart.

Thanks for being real.
Denise
I had therapy today.

We talked about some things I need to do.  Some things which have my mind kicking and screaming.  I just don't want to do them.  Not going to do them.  Anxiety is building up in me and I just don't want to think about it.

Item 1

I need to talk to M, Middle Boy's victim.  I need to meet with her and find out what her motive is.  Find out how I can help her while keeping Middle Boy physically and emotionally safe.  Therapist has suggested we do it in one of my therapy sessions so she can facilitate and help since it is becoming quite clear M's mental stability is in question.  She suggested I email M to set it up.

This needs to be done QUICKLY since we want to talk to her about not showing up at Middle Boy's adoption.  He has been looking forward to this day for 10 years.  I don't want anything to ruin it.

Pray for this one.  I need wisdom in the words to say and compassion toward her.

Item 2

We have received word Middle Boy's Bio Mom is not well.  He wants me to meet with her.

I have such mixed feelings about this.  Big feelings. 

I am working super hard to put myself in her shoes.  To be compassionate and understanding.

Therapist asked if I have fears surrounding the meeting.  I don't think fear is the right word.  Anxiety...absolutely. 

She still lives in town.  Do I want her to know where we live and where he goes to school?  Not really.  Do I want to be friends?  Not really.  Am I angry at her for not protecting Middle Boy all those years ago?  You bet I am.  Am I angry about the things Middle Boy is having to deal with which are consequences of her choices?  Absolutely.  Can I contain all of that emotion when we meet?  I don't know.  Do I need to?  Not really sure about that either.

Again...I am the one who is going to have to reach out.  Pray for wisdom and compassion.  Pray for peace about this meeting.

Item 3

Younger Boy's Bio Family.  Younger Boy wants to meet with them.  Once he is adopted it is completely at my discretion.

How do I feel about this?  I don't know.  Anxious?  You bet.  Scared?  Not really...at least I don't think so.

This one is a little more complicated.  Bio Mom and Bio Dad are still together.  He loves Bio Mom and is terrified of Bio Dad.  Can there be one without the other?  I don't know...maybe one day.

He also wants to see Bio Grandma and Bio Grandpa.  Because I am a Facebook stalker detective I know they are still here in town.  I also know she has a photo of Younger Boy, Younger Sister, and Older Boy as her profile photo. 

Younger Boy is going to push me on this one.  At this point I can wrap my mind around Older Sister, Bio Grandma and Bio Grandpa.  I struggle with Bio Mom and Bio Dad and I need to work through it.

I need wisdom here.  I need peace.

Therapist and I talked a lot about what it means to reach out to the Bio Parents.  Her experience is that it strengthens the relationship between the adoptive parent and child, because it shows that you love them enough to get over your own fear to embrace their biological parents.

These things are so foreign to me.  I didn't grow up talking about things...especially emotion.  It is making me want to talk to my family about a lot of big feelings I have had for a long time.  I just don't know how.
Maybe in all of this...that I what I am supposed to learn.






Denise
Another day...another football mouthpiece.

This time Younger Boy wanted to do this in a pot of boiling water.  Good choice.

A watched pot never boils.  That's all I could think about as he stood there literally watching the water.  Announcing the number of bubbles coming up.

He put it in the boiling water for 30 seconds.  So far so good.

He was supposed to dip it in cold water and then put it in his mouth.  He got distracted during the dipping and it was probably in there longer than in the boiling water. 

Then it went in his mouth.  To his surprise...it did not work.

Repeat process.

This time he thought he shouldn't dip it at all and just put the mouthpiece to his lips straight out of boiling water.  Immediately away from the mouth.  It didn't really matter that I was trying very hard to keep this from happening.

Repeat process.

We got it...FINALLY...after two full days.

Pray that everything associated with football doesn't go like this!!
Denise
Probation Officer came over and told Middle Boy he could have the honors of cutting off the band on his electronic monitor.

She and I chatted about the requirements of the remainder of probation.

Younger Boy got right down by the ankle monitor to watch it be cut off.  Whether he would admit it or not it has made his life more restricted as well.

By the time we were done chatting Middle Boy had barely made an indent in the bracelet.

Probation Officer and I just looked at him in disbelief.  We would have thought he could muster up superhuman strength to get that thing cut off, but he didn't.

She made a joke about not wanting to spend the night at our house and took the scissors from him.  In one cut it was off.

It's disconnected.  The buzzing box is gone from the kitchen.  We can go out of town again.

Praises for an AMAZING probation officer who has actually become a friend.

Prayers this will never happen again and that it provided an example for Younger Boy as well.
Denise
FINALLY...Middle Boy is on step two of therapy.

It has taken him SIX MONTHS to complete step one.  The whole program can be finished in six months, but that is beside the point.

With the incentive program we have in place he has FIVE WEEKS to complete the individual portion of step two.  He has no control over when he completes the group portion, because they each get equal opportunity to present on Saturdays.  If everyone is one their game (they aren't) then it takes longer to get through the steps since you have to present every assignment.

The program is based on three to four assignments per week.  Step two has 13 assignments.  I am giving him five weeks.  He says this is fair.

Prayers for continued focus on therapy and getting done so probation is over.
Denise
Sophie is jealous....particularly of Middle Boy, but to some extent Younger Boy.

Any time either of them gets near me, especially if they give me a hug, she runs around them and growls.

I don't know if she thinks they are hurting me or what.  If they sit too near me she will do everything she can to get them away from me.

We are going to work on this, but I'm not sure how.

Pray for peace for Sophie, because it is causing her to be aggressive.
Denise
Today Middle Boy went to the wresting informational meeting, because he was planning to go out for wresting.

When I picked him up he informed me he is NOT going out for wrestling.  When I asked why he said it is "bogus".

I asked for further definition.  He doesn't want to wear the outfit.  Really?  That is your reason.

What it really boiled down to was that he wanted to participate in meets and go to practice, but he has no interest in all of the work required before the season starts.  Not interested in the weight lifting and the conditioning.  Too much work.

I explained to him that while it seemed like a lot it was going to be the case with EVERY high school sport.  Football camp over the summer...same thing.  Basketball camp over the summer...same thing.

He said he just isn't going to do anything then.  Nope...not an option.  I tried to explain the importance of extracurricular activities, but it was falling on deaf ears.

He loves to play chess...now he is considering chess club.

Prayers for a focus and a hobby he enjoys.
Denise
I just got a call from Probation Officer.

The revised court order has been issued and Middle Boy is off of electronic monitor and tracker services.

This is such a blessing!!
Denise
Middle Boy wanted to be at school early today.  I told him we could do it today only, because for him to get to school this early Younger Boy has to go and sit in the hall at school until breakfast opens and that isn't fair.

There is really no reason for him to be there early except to socialize. 

I told him when we move it is no problem to go early.  Younger Boy will be taking a bus and we will be able to leave to get there early.

As a result today is the last time we are doing this until after the move.

Middle Boy HATES to be inconvenienced by others.  He will make things up so he can get his way and prove that he is NEVER inconveniencing someone else. 

Prayers he will be accepting of waiting two more weeks to be able to socialize in the mornings.
Denise
Middle Boy posted something on Facebook right before we went into church.

While we were there it caused a FLURRY of comments between his friends.  Honestly it was a mess.  There were three main kids just fighting...really ugly fighting.

His post was a single sentence....nothing of any importance at all.

He joined it when we got home and it didn't go well.

It ruined the joy he had coming home.

He came into my room and I knew he wanted to talk, but didn't have the words.  Sophie was starting to try to play with him and I told him she just needed a hug from him.  He sat on my bed with Sophie just holding her tight and a single tear running down his cheek.

I asked if he needed a hug and he shook his head yes.  I hugged him (and Sophie).  I asked if he wanted to talk about it.  He didn't, but that simple hug seemed to calm his heart.

Prayers for his group of friends.  Prayers for his high school experience.  Prayers for his sad heart.
Denise
Tonight was everyone's first night of youth group.

Younger Boy is in the middle school youth group.  He has the same leader as last year who also happens to be his mentor.  The boys in the group are the same boys as last year.  He feels like he belongs and is quite happy to be a part of it.

Middle Boy is in the high school youth group for the first year.  He doesn't know his leaders or most of the kids in his group.  I really want Middle Boy to be successful in youth group this year.  I think it is important for him to make friends at church since we spend a lot of time there.

The whole teaching time at the high school group was about making the most of your youth group experience.  It was about how while it is fine to come to the group to make friends if that is all you are doing you are really missing the boat.  It should be about building your relationship with Christ.  It is about community and not rivalries between high schools.

Middle Boy LOVED it.  He LOVED his leaders.  He has some friends from the brief time he went last year.  They are in a different group, but he was talking and laughing with them.  I am so thrilled with this!!

I loved my time there, too.  I am the leader of a high school girls group.  I think we are assigned 12 girls, but only five were there tonight.  I love these five girls.  Four of them have been in my group since they were freshman and they are juniors now.  The other is new to the group, but is a friend of all of the girls in the group and has been going for the last two years.  It is going to be an amazing year.  I love the hearts of these girls.  I can't wait to spend Wednesday nights with them and to grow them.

I am so thankful for our church community.  Thankful our entire family feels like we belong.  Blessed to be a part of this community.

Denise
The boys and I were talking and Younger Boy told me he had a question for me.  He said it was a serious question.

He asked me if he did the right thing by telling me Bio Mom had called him.  He immediately burst into tears. 

I asked him to talk to me about it.  I asked if he felt guilty about telling me.  He did.

I told him that Bio Mom is not supposed to talk to him, because he is supposed to be kept safe.  I explained this meant safe in many ways.  One way is physically safe so she and Bio Dad can't hurt him.  I also explained that it is also to keep his heart and his mind safe. 

We talked about how he still has a part of his heart and his mind that love Bio Mom very much and always will.  We talked about how when he talked to Bio Mom it made his heart and his mind feel all mixed up.  I told him it doesn't hurt my feelings that he still loves Bio Mom.  I also told him we just have to stay safe.

We talked about how maybe he could talk to Bio Mom and Bio Grandma once he is adopted if his therapist thought it was safe for his mind.

This also brought up a tough discussion with Middle Boy.  We have received word that Bio Mom is very sick due to years of drug abuse.  The question I was asked to pose to Middle Boy was whether he thought he would have regrets if he didn't get the chance to tell her good-bye.  He's fifteen...how on earth can he answer that?

We talked a little bit about it tonight since we were talking about Bio Families anyway.  I told him he doesn't need to decide what he wants to do right now or even within the next few months.  He was pretty clear he doesn't want to see her or talk to her, but he would like me to meet with her and tell her he is doing well and he is happy.  I told him I would be happy to do that for him and we could talk more about it.  I also asked him if he wanted to know when it was happening or if he just wanted me to handle it and let him know when it was done.  He wants to think about that part.

As the adoption continues to get closer the sadness and the Bio Family questions seem to come to the forefront more often.  Behavior issues are increasing.

We are now within a month of both adoptions.

Pray for open discussions and wisdom for the right words to say in these discussions.  Pray for peace as we approach a new season of our lives as a family.
Denise
Younger Boy got a mouthpiece today for football with instructions for molding it to his mouth.

I told him we could do it just as soon as he was done with his homework and I went in my room to change clothes.

In that time Younger Boy decided to take care of his mouthpiece himself.  He was supposed to boil water, dip it in the hot water for 30 seconds and then quickly dip it in cold water and put it in his mouth to mold.

He put it in the microwave with the water.  When I got out of my room he was banging his head on the counter top, because he had melted his mouthpiece partially to the bowl and partially to the microwave.

He was screaming about how it was my fault for not helping him.  He was screaming about how he was an idiot.  He was screaming about how now he wouldn't be able to play football this year or ever.

I had him take a timeout to cool down.  He wanted to go to his room.  While in there he decided to call his friend.  Not a timeout.

He had to sit on the couch quietly to cool down.  The entire time muttering under his breath about how his life sucks and he is stupid.

When he finally cooled down he apologized for melting down and for blaming me for something I had nothing to do with.

Prayers he can easily get a new mouthpiece tomorrow and that he will let someone help him with it.
Denise
I picked up Younger Boy from school today and he was a little bit distraught.

He had football practice after school and that seemed to have gone fine.  He made a friend who has his football locker next to his and they worked together to figure out how to put the helmets into the lockers.

When I asked about his day he told me he is being bullied in the halls between classes.  Apparently there is a group of boys who are flicking his ears and calling him names.  He told me so far he has been able to keep his anger under control, but he said it is getting harder.

He doesn't know the name of the bullies.  I told him he needs to say something to a teacher.

Pray for him to keep his anger under control while being treated less than kind.

Denise
Honestly I didn't think there could possibly be anything worse than dropping off Middle Boy was this morning.

I was wrong.  Picking someone up from the high school is MUCH worse...so very MUCH WORSE.

I can't even explain the craziness.  There is traffic going all directions on roads that are technically one way.  There are students trying to get out of parking lots which are surrounded by this loop of multi directional traffic.

There are students darting out of every possible exit in the building.  There are bikes coming from all directions and there are buses which are apparently supposed to go against the flow of traffic.

Honestly I wish I could get on the roof of the school and video this.

The whole time I am thinking two things...

I am glad I only have to do this for the rest of the week.
I should be paying J more to pick Middle Boy up from school every day.

Praises for the ability to be able to pick him up and spend that time with him at the end of the school day.

Prayers for everyone who deals with this during the entire school year.
Denise
If I never had to drive to the high school in the morning again I would feel so blessed.  Not because I don't want to go to the high school, but good grief.

I found myself wishing Middle Boy was old enough to drive himself to school, because traffic was a mess.

At one point we were about three blocks away...stopped.  I asked Middle Boy if this was close enough and was met with a look of complete disbelief.  I actually was only partially kidding.

They could use a good traffic study at the high school.  At the very least they could use someone directing traffic.

I'm so lucky I get to do this every day for the next school year...at a minimum.  Hooray!!
Denise
Everyone did their 30 minutes of quiet reading tonight. 

Younger Boy was so excited about his book.  He asked a lot of questions during his reading time.  It was mostly vocabulary he didn't understand.  Someone once told me if you are reading you should keep a notebook and write down the words you don't know and look them up.  That way you will increase your vocabulary.  Maybe we will try it.  For tonight I will just be the human dictionary.

Middle Boy is a good reader.  He loves to read.  I think he just forgets about it, because he gets so caught up in everything else.

I love to read as well, but find myself having less and less time for it and more and more books I want to read piling up.  Well...they would be piling up if I wasn't downloading them.

Praises for this quiet time together.  It was a sweet ending to our day.
Denise
I was bracing myself for nothing.  It makes me sad.

Middle Boy should have gotten his electronic monitor off today, but he didn't.  I was the one who told him.

He flat out told me he knew it wouldn't happen so he wasn't even hoping it would.

That breaks my heart.

Middle Boy is so beaten down that even when he KNOWS something is supposed to happen he expects it not to.  He expects things to go horribly wrong.

I told him his team was working really hard to make it happen by the end of the day on Friday.  He said it just didn't matter anymore, because he isn't worth it and he is just a bad kid anyway. 

He made a bad choice.  He isn't a bad kid.

I also told him the adoption was going to be exactly one month from today.  His look said everything.  It was clearly a "I'll believe it when I see it" look. 

Middle Boy...unless one of us dies between now and then THIS IS GOING TO HAPPEN.

I love this kid.  I hate that he no longer hopes for things.

Please pray for hope.  God will give him hope and a future...Middle Boy just needs to trust in Him.
Denise
We got our first behavioral ramification of the timeline tonight.  Lucky us!!

Since the boys have block scheduling we finally knew what we were missing in terms of school supplies for the individual classes.  So we set off to Walmart.

The trip was going fairly well.  The boys are usually given a list and a cart and they stay together and I take a list and a cart. 

Tonight we were kind of all together for the trip.  We were in the electronics section, because they both needed drives for their computer classes to be able to bring files home. 

It was right by the books and both needed books to read during bell work time.  Younger Boy went to books, but immediately started calling and texting Middle Boy.  We went over to books and no Younger Boy. 

After the whole Code Adam thing a few months ago he typically doesn't stray far from where he is supposed to be so I knew he would be right back.

Middle Boy looked for his book and still no Younger Boy.

The next thing I know Younger Boy is coming toward us SCREAMING "What did you want me to do?  Pee my pants?"  What are you talking about?  No one said anything to you.  Again...SCREAMING..."I didn't hear you say to stay here.  Did you want me to pee my pants?"  Again...nothing was said to him.

I don't know if he was beating himself up in his mind preparing for a fight that didn't exist or what. 

When he finally got calmed down we talked about what was going on.  I told him it is perfectly OK to need to use the restroom.  He didn't even need to tell me as long as he came right back.  I know he wasn't believing me.

Things like this are SO FRUSTRATING.  I want to help him, but we are just going to have to keep doing what we are doing until he learns he can trust me.

Prayers for continued trust building.  I know it is possible that it may not ever happen.  My "smart brain" is okay with that.  My "tricky brain" still wrestles with it.
Denise
By the time I got home from work Younger Boy had completed his timeline for math...or as he calls it mathematics.  Middle Boy and I told him it is the same thing.  He insists it is not.

The assignment was to select three things that happened in your family before you were born and ten things after.  Each of the things are to be shown on an axis timeline (to be completed later) with illustrations for each (to be completed later).  Today the only thing needing to be done was to pick your 13 things.  You also had to include the age you were when they happened.

I'm okay with what he put on the sheet.  I'm going to send an accompanying email to the teacher and guidance counselor.

Here's what he had...

Older Sister Born - 5 years before me
Older Brother Born - 3 years before me
Other Older Brother Born - 1 year before me
Younger Sister Born - 2 years old
Got a 10" scar on my head - 3 years old
Moved into foster care - 3 years old
Moved in with Grandpa and Grandma - 3 years old
Moved to a foster home - 4 years old
Moved to a foster home - 5 years old
Moved to an abusive foster home - 7 years old
Moved to a foster home - 8 years old
Moved to an abusive foster home - 9 years old
Moved to home I live in now - 10 years old

We talked about what he could draw for each of the things.

I am certain this is not the kind of timeline the teacher is expecting.  He is not being a jerk about the timeline.  This is what he wants to share.  In some ways it might be all he wants to remember.

We will get through the assignment, but it won't be without behavioral ramifications.

Prayers for a good nights sleep after having to create this timeline.
Denise
I just got a call from Younger Boy.  He is crying.

His math assignment is to create a timeline of his life.  There are 10 things that MUST be included and some of them he doesn't know and others are too painful to recall.

Why?  Homework is hard enough for us without having to bring back every traumatic situation in his life.

The mean and vindictive part of me wants to make a timeline for his teacher of his life.  I want to include every bit of horrific abuse he has lived through and the FOURTEEN home changes he has endured.  I want her to know what she is putting him through.

The rational side of me will instead write her an email and explain Younger Boy will include some major life events, but the majority of this timeline will be centered around his life since February of 2011 when he moved in my home.

Pray we can get through this assignment tonight and have it not create nightmares and dissociative behavior.  Pray I can correspond with the teacher in a kind and respectful manner yet still explaining our situation.

Pray for our evening.
Denise
The official court order came out about half an hour ago.  Although it says to follow the recommendations of Probation Officer it DOES NOT specifically list eliminating the electronic monitor and tracker.  For them to be eliminated they have to be specifically listed.

Probation Officer has already contacted Attorney and they are going to bring it before Judge T for resolution before Friday. 

So...I am left with the task of telling Middle Boy that although Judge T went with Probation Officer's recommendation it wasn't specific enough regarding electronic monitor and tracker. 

To say that I am dreading this conversation would be an understatement.  While I am hoping for the best I suspect he will disassociate for some time.  I don't expect a rage like those Younger Boy is capable of.  Middle Boy is a lot more introspective. 

I need to tell him early so he can process through his attachment and trust issues and still get to bed at a time when he can sleep restfully.

Pray for a teachable conversation and understanding. 
Denise
Judge T went along with every recommendation made by Probation Officer.  That means we will be rid of the electronic monitor and tracking by the end of the day tomorrow for sure.

Everyone I talked to said the hearing went very quickly so as to give M as little information as possible. 

None of the recommendations were read aloud.  The adoption will go forward as planned since they are two completely individual cases.  Everyone was careful not to say the adoption date aloud so M would not be able to attend, but someone didn't catch on and the adoption date was given.  Not the time...just the date.

I pray she will not come to the adoption hearing and ruin this special day for him.  Without a restraining order she can't be banned from the hearing since all court is public record and we don't really want a closed adoption hearing.  We could go that route if we have a concern, but we have friends and family we would like to include in court. 

As it gets closer we are just going to have to figure out what is best for Middle Boy.

As many times as I have been frustrated by the court system, I am so thankful for them today for protecting the mental health of Middle Boy.

Praises for the system and those who work in it who treat people like people.  I can't say enough about Attorney, Judge T, Probation Officer, CASA, Tracker, Service Coordinator, and Foster Care Specialist today.  Thank you God for allowing us to have this team if this was the situation we needed to be in.
Denise
Allegedly I do not understand good style.  This is the outfit Middle Boy chose to wear for his second day of school.



Being the good mom that I am I laughed out loud when I saw him.

I can't decide if he looks like a hospital orderly, Casper the Ghost, or the Pillsbury Doughboy.

He asked if I thought people would notice how good he looks.  I told him I thought people would notice him. 

He told me I do not understand what looks good or cool.

I think I prefer to remain unstylish!!

Denise
Today was court.  What a circus!!

We got there a little bit early.  Middle Boy was dressed nicely in a khaki shirt, khaki and black tie, and black pants.  He thought he looked ridiculous, but that is beside the point.

The next person into the waiting room was his victim...who was advised not to attend by his therapist, probation officer, and attorney.  His therapist met with her, because she wanted to do joint therapy with him and the therapist said no and told her she needs her own therapist.

Middle Boy took off for the restroom...our plan for this occurrence.  I texted Probation Officer and she came and took him to a meeting room at the courthouse.  When Attorney and GAL got there we all met and they decided to have Attorney attend court on his behalf and us to just leave, but they had to clear it with Judge T.

Judge T said he can't ask her to leave as the victim, but he agreed it was crazy so he sent us home before the hearing.

Probation Officer called after to let me know as soon as the official court report is issued we will be released from electronic monitor and tracking.  It should happen some time this afternoon.

Attorney called and recommended we get a restraining order against his victim, because she seems like a loose cannon.

I will have to figure out later today what I need to do to file a restraining order against her.

Middle Boy's whole team was there.  He had so much support.  Today worked out for him.  He told me on the way home no one has ever fought for him before like this team.  I told him it was because we all love him.

Praises for a good team.  Prayers for victim going forward.
Denise
Younger Boy had a rough morning.

NO ONE told him he needed to get his shoes on as part of getting ready for school.

NO ONE told him to take his meds from the table and put them in his mouth.

NO ONE told him he needs to give Sophie food and water (it's his week).

NO ONE told him to brush his teeth after eating breakfast.  Gosh...NO ONE even told him to eat breakfast.

NO ONE told him to bring his backpack to the car.

For the record...he DOES NOT need a morning checklist.  I am just expecting WAY TOO MUCH.

Someone did tell him he would not be using electronics for the remainder of the day.  That wasn't a hit.

Prayers for his attitude.  Clearly he needs more sleep than he got last night.
Denise
Younger Boy started melting down tonight.

One of the assignments his reading teacher has is to read either to yourself or out loud each day for 30 minutes...seven days a week. 

Younger Boy is not a reader.  This is why he is in this reading class.

Tonight I asked him if he would rather read to himself or to me.  NO ONE told him he had to read.  He didn't hear the teacher say it (although he did write it down in his planner). 

We don't have any books.  They are all packed. 

He can't find anything online to read, because he can't get internet access.

He can't find any magazines or newspapers, because I make them clean the house too often.

Hmmm....I guess what he can do is go to bed.  Maybe tomorrow night he will be able to find something to read.

Prayers for a good night sleep.  He needs it.
Denise
Middle Boy had his bi-weekly burger outing with his mentor. 

They have developed a routine where they go for a burger every other Monday night and return to our house for about an hour of one on one basketball.  They both have a BLAST.  I couldn't imagine a better mentor pairing.  God really knew what he was doing on this one!!

They came in and had some of Middle Boy's homemade salsa and then chatted about school.

It was a good end to the first day for Middle Boy.  He was REALLY happy!!

Praises for adults who show interest in these boys.  They need all of the positive influence we can get.
Denise
Younger Boy and I had a quick dinner of pancakes tonight.  We had a couple of errands to run since it was our only completely free evening this week.

It was nice to just be able to chat with him about his day.

Praises for one on one time with the boys.
Denise
Today when I got home from work both boys were home and homework was done.

Not too stressful considering there was a single worksheet needing to be done.

They were playing XBOX.  I asked them if they could give me their undivided attention for 15 minutes each so we could talk about school and the supplies we still needed to buy.  Couldn't get the attention.

I ended up having to threaten to take away all electronics during the school week if I couldn't have 15 minutes.  That got me the attention I desired.

We talked about school and both boys thought the day was great!

Praises for a good day at school and undivided attention!!
Denise
Both boys are pretty energized about school. 

Because of our home situation I picked up Younger Boy today.  He was pretty excited about his day.  He showed me how he took notes in his agenda during every class.  He gave me the papers he needed me to sign.

When I asked if he had homework he said no.  Then he thought about it and he said "Yes, one paper that I don't understand."  I am SO PROUD of him for telling me.  I told him we would work on it as soon as I get home from work.  Last year he would have either thrown away or torn up the paper or not brought it home, because it was confusing and he didn't want to deal with it.  We are making progress.  I get that it is the first day, but small victories!!

Middle Boy called and was pretty excited about his classes.  He did say the entire day was power point presentations on what he needed for every class.  He is really excited about AutoCad.  He is also super excited about US History.  He talked about what he needs to do to get As in every class.  In comparison to last year when we ended with Fs that is a BIG DEAL.

Middle Boy even made an effort to talk to the two teachers of the classes he is going to miss tomorrow due to court.  He was able to connect with one and not the other.  He asked me to send an email to the one he missed to see when they could meet.  What happened to the Middle Boy who lived here last school year?  I don't know this kid!!

Praises for a good first day of school.
Denise
Please pray for Middle Boy's court hearing tomorrow morning.

His probation officer and tracker have recommended both electronic monitoring and tracking be removed and the department has asked to be relieved of responsibilities.

I talked with his attorney this morning and she thinks there will be no problem with the recommendations made and his monitor will be removed.

If this happens it will be such a relief.  We haven't been able to leave town as a family since February.  We have also had to be at home every night at 8PM for his tracker curfew.  It has been pretty restricting for the whole family.

I am more concerned about how Middle Boy will handle it if they are NOT removed. 

Please pray Middle Boy will be at peace with the outcome, whatever God's will is. 
Denise
The following is a picture of our first day of school.  It is a great example of how I stink as a photographer.

The boys were not thrilled about the photos being taken.  I am not in love with Middle Boys choice of outfit.

I have mixed emotions about the first day of school.  Middle Boy is starting high school.  Four more school years in my home.  He just got here.  Younger Boy is starting Middle School.  He only has six years left here.  It really isn't that long.  It makes me kind of sad.

Prayers for a good year at school.
Denise
Tonight before bed we sat on my bed and prayed for the upcoming school year and thanked God for our summer.

Younger Boy wanted to start the prayer and he prayed for a lot of things.  It was really sweet.

In the middle of my prayer Sophie attacked Middle Boy so we had to take a brief break to get her settled down.

My prayer for this school year is that the boys would believe they can handle it.  Really believe it.  They are both smart boys.  They can do the work that is asked of them.  They just need a little self confidence.  I pray they will bring the work home and trust that I will help them.  I pray they will be safe in their extracurricular activities.  I pray they will make wise choices in friends.  I pray they will feel comfortable and like they belong in their schools.  I pray they will see the joy in learning.  I pray they will trust their teachers enough to ask for help. 

Denise
Tonight was the pool party for the volunteers at the teenage girls camp.  It was supposed to be yesterday, but it was raining and about thirty degrees cooler.

It was a nice time.  They boys had a blast swimming and diving and doing flips off of the diving board.

One of the male volunteers at camp threw them a football about FIVE HUNDRED times while they were jumping off the board.  I suspect his arm is going to be sore tomorrow.

It was nice to visit with the people there.  It was a beautiful evening out.

We saw two hot air balloons go overhead and the boys yelled hello to them and they waved back.  All the kids thought that was pretty cool.

It is such a blessing to be included in such an amazing group of people.  We had an amazing time and we are lucky to be able to go again next weekend with the volunteers for the girls camp.

Denise
Middle Boy loves to make homemade salsa.  We are going to a pool party today where we have to take something and he has decided that is what we should take.

He chopped vegetables for about two hours for this salsa.  Partly because it was a lot of vegetables, partly because he does it all by hand, and partly because his knife skills could use a little work.

His salsa is REALLY GOOD.  It is a little different, but good.

I would share the recipe, but I don't know if it is some kind of secret.  I'd have to ask.

Praises for a hobby he loves and wanting to share his talent.
Denise
Middle Boy needs an outfit to wear to court on Tuesday. 

We shopped for nice pants, a shirt, and a tie.  If Middle Boy had his choice he would always dress like a waiter or someone on a Mormon mission trip.  His nice outfit of choice is black pants, white shirt, and black tie. 

I convinced him to branch out a little.  I think he agreed just so we could get out of there.

He told me if he dresses up and does not get off of the electronic monitor and tracking then he is never dressing up again EVER for ANYTHING. 

Wow...that will really show people.  I'm sure his future wife will understand at the wedding.  When I mentioned it he thought I was being ridiculous.

Of course...this brought up the whole discussion about what did I think was going to happen.  Generally speaking I am very careful with my words.  I told him I hope he will be released from electronic monitor and tracking, but honestly I didn't know what would happen.  He doesn't like these answers.  He wants me to commit to an answer.  I can't, because I don't know and I don't want to let him down.  I am VERY CAREFUL to not break a promise to him.

I can say this...he will look nice at his court hearing.  That is all that I can promise.

Prayers for his understanding the importance of dressing respectfully.
Denise
This morning we made it to the early service of church.

I love watching how much the boys have grown spiritually.

Younger Boy LOVES to raise his hands in worship and today he was making up actions to one of the songs.  I'm certain it was embarrassing Middle Boy, but I thought it was beautiful!

Middle Boy takes notes now.  He also sings.  He did NEITHER when he first moved in.  He always wants to discuss the sermon in the car on the way home.  He is making me better spiritually as well.

I love how the boys have a bunch of adult friends at church.  How they feel comfortable talking with the adults they know.  We are working on learning people's names.

There is a boy in the high school ministry who has befriended Middle Boy and I am so thankful for it.  He chats with him every week and tells him they should hang out some time.

On the way home Middle Boy told me he thought it would be good if he had some friends from church he could hang out with.

Praises for the eternal impact this place and these people are having in the lives of these boys.
Denise
Tonight the boys put the finishing touches on their school supplies and packed their backpacks.

They both have a binder for A day and a binder for B day.  They both have highlighters and pens and pencils and erasers.  They have loose leaf paper.  They have notebooks.  They have note cards.  They have folders.

We had a discussion about how you don't give away your school supplies.  Why did we have this discussion?  Because last year on the first day Younger Boy gave away ALL of his pens and pencils and had NONE.  He admitted he did it to make friends. 

Middle Boy thought it was crazy and told him he didn't need to buy friends.

They both labeled everything and tried to memorize their schedules.  I have them both memorized, but neither of them do.

Praises for a little bit of excitement surrounding the start of school.