Denise
The boys don't deal well with change...not at all.

Since they thought we were having dinner with Grandma and Grandpa and now we are not they can't adjust.

What I should have done was just go at the EXACT TIME to the EXACT PLACE we talked about...that would have limited the change.  BUT...I still haven't learned and instead I changed everything thus making the evening miserable.

Denise
About an hour before dinner Grandma called to tell me there was a change in plans.  She had just gotten a call from her brother that Great Grandma had fallen and broken her hip.

Great Grandma lives in a REALLY SMALL town in the middle of nowhere.  They were going to transport her to have surgery and Grandma and her brother needed to figure out logistics.

Grandma felt bad.  I totally understand.  Someone needs to be there to help Great Grandma navigate the whole thing.  It will either be Grandma or her brother or a combination so they need to be there.

We can have dinner another time.

Prayers for travel for Grandma and Grandpa.  Prayers for Great Grandma's pain and for her surgery.  Wisdom for the doctors as they decide the best choices for a 91 year old woman.
Denise
Grandma and Grandpa are coming to town to have dinner with us tonight.

They need to pick up their tickets for the football game and we are meeting to celebrate my birthday this weekend.

We are going to have an early dinner since they are staying with Youngest Sister and her family this weekend to help them out with babysitting.

It should be a nice quiet evening.
Denise
Younger Boy had an appointment today with Dr. S. 

He was a totally chatterbox.  Very young child like chatterbox.  I have been noticing this a lot lately.  Lots of chatter...really detail filled chatter.

Dr. S commented on it.  She said "wow...you must be feeling a lot better, because you are sure chatty today."

He did some other "toddler like" things while we were there.  He sat on the floor and played with some toys in her office and colored in a coloring book.

She wants to adjust meds, but not until after the holidays.  She thinks with the permanency we can wean off of a couple of them.  That would be awesome.  She also said the number one rule in child psychiatry is to NEVER modify meds during a time of high stress and that the holidays count.

I like Dr. S.  She is kind of no nonsense here's how it is.  That is what I want.

Praises for a good psychiatrist.
Denise
Middle Boy is having a tough time in the mornings right now...well, actually a tough time all of the time, but mornings it seems amplified.

This morning he was angry because he wanted to be at school at 7AM.  He was on track to get there about 7:02AM, but that didn't matter...it wasn't 7AM.

So...let the verbal abuse begin.  I am childish for not caring about his schedule.  By saying it is only two minutes difference I am just being a jerk and not listening.  The next time I want to do something I can just wait for him.

After the barrage of names I dropped him off at school and he slammed the car door.

He wasn't done though.  He went ahead and texted me and told me I am unfair and ridiculous.

I didn't respond.  After school he continued again.  Telling me this isn't over...I can just watch.

For me it is over.  Honestly it doesn't matter.
Denise
A sense of urgency and not being able to wait for ANYTHING...that is a big symptom of RAD.

Tonight it was out in full force in our home.

I was trying to use the laptop to cancel a hotel reservation before the 24 hour deadline.  Middle Boy needed to listen to a song online...NOW.

NOW.

It doesn't matter that he has about ten other means of listening to it in our home.  He wants to use the laptop...and he needs it NOW.

Not everything is urgent.  In the grand scheme of things this isn't even really important.

He truly thinks he might die.
Denise
For one hour tonight homework was done with COMPLETE focus.

It is a rarity in our house.

Finally Younger Boy settled down and just got the three current events done.  After a rough start by researching Morocco in the 1980s.

Middle Boy read the majority of the novel he is supposed to be reading and took notes over half of it.

I wish they understood that if they did the homework regularly that it really would take about 15 minutes.

I was able to get the reading done for my lifegroup and the majority of the questions answered.

Praises for a night of productivity.
Denise
Younger Boy's three current events are due tomorrow.

He is playing the role of helplessness right now.

He doesn't know what his homework is.

He doesn't know what a current event is.

He can't remember how to turn on the laptop.

Where do we keep the paper and pencils?

How many current events does he have to do?

What is a current event?

He can't find the paper he wanted to use.

Where is his backpack?

I don't know if he thinks he can wear me down with all of these statements of helplessness.

He only had a month to do this.
Denise
Tonight while I was talking to Therapist L about Middle Boy Younger Boy was to be in the waiting room.  He did that.

Earlier in the week he had lost the opportunity to do use his phone or iPod with the exception of calling me. 

When I left Therapist L's office Younger Boy was texting on his phone, but quickly hid it from me.  So...I asked him about it.  He told me that he wasn't texting.  I had him give me the phone.  He was texting.  I asked if he wanted to be accurate.  He swore he was.

So...no more phone...not even to call me.  It is a privilege not a need.  Sorry.
Denise
The story always changes regarding therapy homework.  Every time there is therapy the story is different.

Middle Boy is at a point in this step of therapy where there are just a few things to get wrapped up before he can have the packets for the next step.  One of those things is to cut photos of emotions out of a magazine.  Two weeks ago I bought him a magazine for the express purpose of this assignment.  Tonight he tells me that he found the pictures, but hasn't had a chance to cut them out yet.

Then he said that he would be done with this step of therapy a week from Saturday.  He has to do four presentations and those get done on Saturdays.  So I repeated "you will be done with this step a week from Saturday, that's great".  No, he won't be done then.  Because what he meant was it is possible to be done then, but he can't guarantee it.

Then there were things that weren't done that he now remembered he still needed to do.  Then it was going to be something like the last week of January.

I am being lied to by omission.  I have talked to his therapist so many times about this that she probably thinks I am crazy.

Denise
Today I talked with Therapist M about the regression I have seen recently in both boys.  The return to toddler behaviors.

We assessed the behaviors in the three to five year old range.  We brainstormed about what needs might need to be met at this level in order to move on and heal. 

We talked about what kinds of things you do with a toddler that age which could be adapted to a 12 and 15 year old.  She said she has known families in regression to give sippy cups to get past the need for suckling and to rock and sing to their kids.  BUT...those kids aren't as old as mine.  How do you simulate caring for a 3 to 5 year old in a teen boy without seeming creepy.

We came up with a couple of things.  One benefit that I have is that both boys are fairly articulate.  They can't always recognize the feelings or the need, but if asked they may be able to think it through.  I have to be careful though, because Middle Boy is really sensitive to being talked to like you are a therapist.  Truth be told I am in therapy so often and witness therapy so often that I talk like a therapist.

The reality is that we are just going to have to go through the phases of healing.  I will do my job to help, but honestly it is hard to know how long it will take or how much will even occur.

We talked today about trauma.  We talked about how Middle Boy swears there was never trauma in his life.  His trauma is so painful to him that he doesn't acknowledge it happened.  I am holding my breath wondering when and if it is all going to come out one day.  The story has to be told to heal.

Prayers for the boys and their healing.  Prayers for wisdom for me as I navigate so much of what I don't know.  Prayers I am strong enough to hear the stories without emotion.

Denise
I have been seeing Therapist M for about six months now.  She is finishing her practicum in two weeks and then won't open a practice until June.

So...here I am at a crossroads.  Do I find myself another therapist?  Do I wait for her?  Do I need a therapist?

It is nice to just have someone to talk to.  Someone who gets it.

She helps me figure things out at home.  Things that most people wouldn't even believe are happening.

She doesn't think I am crazy.  She reminds me I am strong.

I will miss her.
Denise
Middle Boy just called.  He doesn't know what he is supposed to do for his English homework.  This is the same homework and the same book he was reading and taking notes on.

He is CONVINCED he no longer has to finish the book.  He just has to do an associated art project, write an essay and take the final test.

I asked how he plans to do those things without reading the book.  He said that it is too late to turn in the notes so he doesn't have to read it anymore.

I emailed the teacher.  Lucky for him it isn't too late to turn in the notes so he is at home working on reading the book right now.  He isn't happy about it.

Tomorrow morning he will go in early to find out what he is supposed to do for the essay and the art project.

On a side note.  I read the book he is supposed to read.  I started the day it was assigned.  It took me less than 90 minutes to read the entire thing.

Denise
Last night as we were talking Younger Boy told me that he has an overwhelming feeling that there is a story about his grandfather getting kicked in the chest by a horse and dying.

He repeated the same sentence multiple times.

I asked what he is talking about.  He said he is pretty sure that one of his grandpas died from a horse.  Then there was a part of the story where this same grandpa gave he and Older Boy a horse when they were still living in their biological home.

I stopped him and asked if he thought maybe some memories were getting mixed up and pieced together in a weird way.  He thought maybe that could be true.

We talked about what I know about each of his biological grandfathers.  One of them lives here in town.  That is where the boys lived when they were first removed from the home.  They were removed from that home for neglect.  I don't think there were horses there.

There were horses at a foster home right before me and then one of the homes three before that.  I only know this because I know both of those families.  Horses would have been present, but someone dying from getting kicked...who knows?

His other grandfather lives in Georgia with his biological parents.  I have the impression there aren't horses there either.

So...I am trying to help him make sense of this.  Putting the pieces together to form a whole story so that healing can occur.

Praying I can help him.
Denise
There is a movie coming out this spring.  It is based on a true story about Royal Family Kids Camps.

You can watch the trailer here.

This camp is what started my entire journey into foster care.  I can still remember how broken hearted and burdened I felt when I returned home that first time and every time since.

If this film plays in a city near you...GO.  You won't regret it, other than you may feel burdened, too.
Denise
Boarder has lived with us full time since Sunday.  I have ZERO confirmed sightings of my own.

Middle Boy saw him once, but didn't talk to him.

Sophie LOVES having him here.  Now she is only alone two hours a day.  What's not to love for her!  She probably hopes he stays forever.

I talked to Boarder's girlfriend tonight and asked her about it.  She laughed, because she knew we hadn't actually seen him.  I was worried he thought he couldn't be around if we weren't there.

She said that he works at two jobs and goes to school full time.  He doesn't have a lot of free time.  She thinks he is probably just showering and sleeping at our house.

Maybe we will run across him this weekend...then again maybe not.
Denise
In the car on the way to youth group Younger Boy admitted he does in fact know what he is supposed to do for homework.  He just didn't want to do it.

He also admitted that he was making excuses for not meeting his responsibilities.

It's a good first step.

Middle Boy has been sleeping on Younger Boy's floor because he "prefers sleeping on the floor to a mattress".  No, because he pulled a mattress in there.  Let's talk about what is really going on.  Let's call a spade a spade.  Neither one of you want to sleep alone in a room.  You are afraid to. 

Let's not make up stories.  Let's figure out a solution to the ACTUAL problem not solutions to stories that are made up to cover up the truth.

If everyone in our home would just call a spade a spade things would go much smoother.
Denise
This afternoon I talked with Middle Boy's Spanish teacher.  She is sending me all of the notes from the ENTIRE YEAR so I can help Middle Boy get caught up.

When I was talking to him about it he said "that's fine, but I don't care".  I then told him I am not going to spend time every day helping him catch up if he doesn't care.

He quickly back pedaled and accused me of not listening.  His new claim was that he didn't say he didn't care he said he wouldn't remember.

I told him this has NOTHING to do with not remembering and EVERYTHING to do with not caring and that his first statement was accurate. 

He kept trying to turn the conversation into me not listening to what he had to say versus him not caring about school.

If I had money for every time he said he is going to start caring today I would rival last night's lottery winners.

Allegedly this is the day he is in fact going to start caring.  I wish I didn't think those were just words, but I do.

I am going to be brushing up on my Spanish.  At least now I will be able to go on a mission trip even if no one else in my house cares about Spanish!
Denise
When you name a coping strategy it becomes all the more clear what is going on.  At the same time it becomes all the more irritating when you see it.

Helplessness...I HATE this coping strategy.

Younger Boy was using it in full force this afternoon.  He didn't know how to do anything he was asked to do.  Things he had done a million times before.  Things he does every day.  Either no one told him to do them or he didn't know how.

He "didn't know" what to do on any of his assignments and "no one told him" he had homework.

I'm quickly losing my patience with this.  He DOES know.  It is his ploy to avoid what he is supposed to do and until this point in life it has worked for him.  It stops here.
Denise
I am so angry right now that I could just SCREAM.

You already know about Younger Boy missing the bus to play with legos.

Now he just arrived home and wants to know what he needs to do for his "three religion essay".  That was due TWO MONTHS AGO.  He is supposed to be doing three current events of Africa.  I asked him to look at his assignment notebook and tell me what is says he is supposed to do.  He doesn't know.  Can't find the notebook.  If I don't just tell him he will just have to fail.  There you go...helplessness coping strategy.

In the meantime I got the following email from Middle Boy's Spanish teacher.

I tried talking with Middle Boy today and see if I could help him somehow to get through his work today.  He kept walking around and didn't get his worksheets done.  He said to me that he already told people he will be failing this class.  Is there anything that you think I can do to help him?

No...unfortunately I can't think of anything.

While I was trying to respond to that I got a call from the Dean of Students at the high school to talk about Middle Boy's behavior after school on school grounds.  He was involved in physical horseplay which is against policy.  They have a "hands off" policy for all students and teachers.  This is the third time this has happened.  The first two were warnings and this time there is a detention.

He called me to tell me that the Dean of Students is stupid and that the rule only applies to in the building.  I explained that to resolve it we would need to meet with the Dean of Students.  Apparently if he has to do that he is going to "cuss him out, because he deserves it anyway".  No...you deserve the detention for not following the rules.  This is the consequence.  All he did was give you the consequence.  You made the choice.  Of course I don't know anything...not a single thing.  The rule is stupid and he isn't going to follow it.  No one can make him.

Today I have had it and I am not even home from work yet.  Maybe if I just stay here all night.  Maybe that will make all of this yuck go away.  A girl can dream right?
 
Denise
Today while I was in a meeting I got FIVE texts from Middle Boy asking what our address is.

Each one got more rude than the one before.

We have worked on our new address.  I asked him to write it down in his school planner.  He said he could just remember it.

I guess he was wrong and I am sure I am to blame.
Denise
This morning Middle Boy had to be at school early.  Since I drop him off we had to leave before Younger Boy's bus got there.  We left about 10 minutes before.  Younger Boy was up and ready.

I just got a call from Younger Boy...90 minutes later...telling me he missed the bus.

I asked why.  He told me a kooky story about how he saw the bus, told him to wait, because he had to go in and get his house key and then the next thing he knew the bus was gone.  I told him I was going to call and report the bus driver if the story was true and then I asked why he waited 90 minutes to call and tell me.  His response "I was scared you would be mad."

I asked if he wanted to try again with accurate words.  He said no.  These words were accurate.  I told him by the time I could get there and take him he could walk so to get started.  (It is less than a mile.)

He called back five minutes later.  He said his words weren't accurate.  He had decided to go to his room and play with legos and didn't hear the bus.  Ninety minutes later he realized that he had missed it and that is when he called me.

AARGH.  I can't be in two places at once and I can't trust him to get himself on the bus with only 10 minutes to wait.  When Middle Boy has to go early I am just going to take him early as well.  It is really the only solution.

Denise
Tomorrow is uniform day in JROTC.

Because Middle Boy wadded his uniform up in the closet after the last time it was worn it has been at the dry cleaner.  He had to put all of the pins back on the uniform.

He was METICULOUSLY measuring each one with his JROTC book and a ruler.  It was good to see him put attention in to detail.

It took him a while.  I think he had ten or eleven things he needed to pin on, but it got done.  He will look sharp.

Praises for his interest in the military and JROTC.  Now if they would just REQUIRE he get his haircut!!
Denise
Younger Boy is working on his paper which is due next week.  Notice I did NOT say current events.  Those are gone from his mind again.

He typed his entire paper yesterday at school and printed it.

When he got home to do the header, footer, and bibliography only the first paragraph was there.

This was CATASTROPHIC.  He screamed and cried.  Finally I got his attention and told him to get the printed one out of his backpack and just retype it.  It would have NEVER occurred to him.

It took 90 minutes for him to get it typed.  It about one page and he was copying it from the last one. 

This is what happens when you have to roll around on the floor after nearly every sentence.  When you fall out of your chair multiple times.  When you need a drink.  When you need a snack.

I fought the urge to type it for him, but I REALLY wanted to.  I just wanted it to be DONE.
Denise
Today I had a conversation with my attorney regarding the foster care license.

She has made COUNTLESS calls to COUNTLESS people.  She even had a lady tell her "Yes, I know that it is stupid, but that is the way we do it."  Really?  That is a defeatist attitude.

I am sending a letter today requesting an appeal hearing.  She advised me to make the letter as short and to the point as possible. 

I am calling the Director of Child Services today as well.  I am going to save the Inspector General for tomorrow.  There is only so much frustration I can handle in a single day.

Attorney gave me the wording for the letter.  She told me who to copy to get the attention of the department.

She told me that the more she gets into this the more angry it makes her.  She asked if we could be a team on this one from here on out.  ABSOLUTELY.  For the good of the KIDDOS.

Pray for widsom and discernment.
Denise
Today after school Middle Boy told me that he had no homework in math, science, or history.  He has to go in early for a history test.

In English he had a substitute teacher so he couldn't get the missing work and they had an all school assembly. 

He has a novel he is supposed to be reading for English.  He is supposed to take notes over each section.  There are at least three sections which should have been done by now.  I asked if he needed to talk to the teacher to do that part.  He said no.  I told him then he should get started.

BIG SIGH.

When I got home he was at the table reading and taking notes.  He had A LOT of notes there so I knew that he had been doing this for quite some time.

Even though I got the attitude I am proud of him for doing the work.  Very proud.

Denise
Therapist D, Therapist C, and Therapist P have identified (along with my help) Younger Boy's strongest unhealthy coping strategies.  Today we are going to work on them.

He has two very obvious strategies which are tightly woven together.  He uses avoidance and helplessness.  His avoidance mechanism is very strong.  It occurs every time there is an assignment he doesn't want to do.  He has admitted that if he doesn't want to do it he IMMEDIATELY decides that.  The therapists suspect that is why he NEVER knows any of the details about the assignments.  He has already decided they don't exist.

The helplessness surfaces in "no one told me", "I dont' know", and "I don't have the right 'stuff'".

We decided to use EMDR on this.  We have talked THREE TIMES already this morning about how he has THREE current events due on Friday.

Therapist D asked him to think so something he is avoiding.

Here are his responses:

Getting angry.
Putting away his laundry.
Cleaning his room.

No...let's think of something with school.  All of the responses were like questions.

Bring home his PE clothes?
Math?
Reading?

No...what is due on Friday that we have talked about three times during your sessions.

My language arts?

Finally I said "your current events". 

We worked the avoidance of this single assignment with EMDR.  We are going to let them know how it went.

Therapist P pulled me aside as we were leaving and told me that it is fascinating to watch him and how his mind works.

I agree.  I am learning a lot, BUT it is VERY FRUSTRATING to live with this all day every day.
Denise
So...the scar on Younger Boy's head and the associated memories.  I talked to Therapist C and Therapist P about them today.  I told them about all of the times the memories have surfaced in the past couple of weeks.

There is a pattern...it was BLATANTLY OBVIOUS.  Any time Younger Boy feels challenged or doesn't want to do or talk about something the "memory" comes back.

Therapist C told me this is always a tough one, because you don't want to tell the kiddo that they can't think about the memory, BUT they can't use it as a crutch or an excuse.  We decided to call him on it.

He started to cry when we did.  He admitted that it has been an excuse...many times.  What is interesting is the times he listed.

Running the mile in PE.
Doing the pacer test in PE.
Independent writing in language arts.
Small group time in youth group.
In science.
In math.

Never at home. 

Therapist C and Therapist P talked to him about how the feeling of not wanting to do something or something being hard...those are normal.  Things are hard.  For everyone.

He can't continue to use the memories as an excuse, because that will lead to WAY BIGGER issues.

Prayers he will understand.  Prayers for wisdom to gently remind him of this when he is using it as a way to get out of something.
Denise
This morning I talked to Therapist C about the waiting until the last minute to urinate and sometimes waiting so long that he wets his pants.  She told me it is not uncommon for kids from hard places to have a disconnect between their bodies and their brains.  What was a defense mechanism in the past because of abuse and discomfort sometimes bleeds over to the discomfort of really having to urinate so they "shut off" the feeling.  She suggested using a "toddler type" let's go potty routine, but in a more adult way.

She also addressed it with him.  That is what I love.

She started by asking him if he has noticed that he does it.  She said I had noticed and that I was worried.  She asked him to stop RIGHT THEN and tell her if he felt like he had to use the restroom.  She stopped him multiple times during the session to ask the same.  At one point he said "now I feel like I have to go a little bit".  She told him that if he does then the next time he has a break (like between his two sessions) he should go to the restroom.  She made it therapy homework.  To stop himself and actually think "do I have to use the restroom?"

Praying this will go well.  I don't expect a miracle, but for his life it would be so much better to not have to worry about the extra clothes all of the time.

Denise
The boys got up at 5:45AM  today.  Not a big deal, but I wish one of two things would happen when they do this...

They would tell me that they are doing it so I, too, can get up earlier and get to work earlier

OR

Do something with the extra time besides sitting with their backpacks on in the living room.

This morning they sat, backpacks on, for over half an hour.  They didn't tell me they were getting up early so I didn't.  I heard them, but they disrupt my sleep so often I have started to ignore it otherwise I would be completely exhausted all of the time.

I got downstairs.  No one had fed Sophie.  Their breakfast dishes were on the table and so were their meds.

They were EXASPERATED that we had to do those things before we left.  Clearly I am irrational.

Prayers for smooth mornings and good communication.
Denise
I love the ladies in my lifegroup from church.  They make me think.  They make me laugh.  They lift me up in prayer.  They encourage me.

We are studying this book right now about the story of Ruth.  We can't get enough of the story of Ruth.  We talk about Ruth.  We talk about the parallels of Boaz and God.  We talk about Naomi.  We talk about what it would have been like to live then. 

We talk about how Ruth "just happened" to get to Boaz's field and where our own Boaz's fields are and how we can see God brought us to them.

These ladies...this study...our God...I love them.
Denise
Middle Boy hates Spanish.  He is making it quite clear to EVERYONE who knows him.

Here is the thing.  I don't think it is Spanish.  Middle Boy doesn't like feeling confused and overwhelmed.  He shuts down when he doesn't understand.  It is part of RAD.

The unlucky thing is that he has to have TWO YEARS of foreign language to graduate from high school.  That means PASSING two full years. 

He insists that Spanish is the problem.  I suspect EVERY foreign language will be the same thing.

The frustrating thing...I took Spanish.  I could help him, but it is such a trigger for him that instead of asking for help he pretends it doesn't exist.  So now he is nearly a semester behind. 

I offered every night for the past two weeks to help him study.  To try to help him understand.  NOPE...no doing.  I can't possibly know how one would study Spanish...that is just ridiculous.

If anyone has ANY IDEAS...I'm open to them.  Selfishly I don't want him taking something else, because then I can't help him very easily.  He thinks Chinese would be easier because "you can draw".

HELP!!

Pray for wisdom and motivation...for both of us.
Denise
Even more reverting.

In addition to the baby talk (only to me of course) Middle Boy has now decided he NEEDS to sleep on the floor of my room.

He "can't" sleep in his room because the floor is too messy and I "know" that he hates sleeping in beds.

He "could" sleep on the floor of Younger Boy's room, but I won't let him.  "I don't trust him."

This was a CRISIS tonight.  He CAN'T sleep in his room.  He cried and cried.  Dissociated for a while.

What on earth is going on with him?
Denise
Sophie is FINALLY catching on to potty training.  AFTER A YEAR.

She now is telling us when she needs to go out.  We are also letting her out every hour or so. 

I think what she is really liking is the fact that she is getting a treat when she goes potty or poop outside.

She seems disappointed when she goes out and doesn't get either.

Finally...she is getting.  FINALLY.
Denise
Today we had a VERY LONG list of cleaning to do. 

I told the boys I didn't want to start decorating for Christmas until our house was in better order.

Middle Boy and I got started.  It took Younger Boy THIRTY minutes to eat a grilled cheese sandwich before he could get started and then the only things he wanted to do on the list were things that someone had already done.

So...Middle Boy got to choose what he did and Younger Boy got his tasks assigned.  Of course...that isn't one bit fair.

Middle Boy did a GREAT JOB.  Younger Boy did an age appropriate (minus a couple of years) job.

The house looks a million times better and just seems a lot more peaceful.

Praises for help cleaning and the time and focus to just get it done.
Denise
Tonight I told the boys they needed to be in bed at 10PM.  I asked three times what time 10PM.

At 10:15PM no one was in bed.  I asked what time I had told them to go to bed.  One didn't know and the other didn't think I was talking about tonight.

Really?

From now on I will be setting an alarm...when the alarm goes off you have 10 minutes to be in bed.  Those minutes are reserved for washing your face, brushing your teeth, using the restroom and taking your meds.  NOTHING ELSE.

Want a snack?  Should have thought about that earlier.  Need to get your stuff together?  You'll have to get up earlier and do it in the morning.  Forgotten homework?  Again...in the morning.

Denise
Today for the most part we had a lazy day at home. 

I did a little bit of baking and some cleaning.  I read my Bible study and worked through the questions. 

I planned my grocery shopping and meals for the month of December and figured out what I still needed to buy/do for Christmas.

The boys worked in their rooms and watched a movie.

It was one of those days we don't have the opportunity to have very often and I enjoyed every minute.
Denise
We left to come home.  It was a long drive made even longer by the fact that Younger Boy had to stop to use the restroom SIX times.

The worst part is that he still waits until it is an ABSOLUTE emergency to either say something or go in the restroom.  He does it at home, too.  It causes accidents all of the time. 

I want to understand what is going on.  I want to understand why.  I want to be sympathetic to this, but it is hard.

Prayers for understanding and wisdom in how to deal with this.
Denise
Today we had lunch (at my favorite childhood drive-in) with my oldest childhood friend.  C and I have been friends since kindergarten...36 years ago.

It was nice to spend time with C and her son.  We don't do it nearly often enough and she lives less than a hour away.  Life just gets in the way sometimes.

The boys became quick friends bonding over video games and music.

C and I got the opportunity to just chat and it was nice.  I want to do it again...and soon!!
Denise
First let me start by saying I have NEVER been Black Friday shopping before and there is NO WAY we would have gone had we been at home, but since we were in a small town and there isn't as much competition we decided to go on Thursday night.

The store we went to had three different sales...8PM, 10PM, and 5AM.  We wanted things that were being sold at 8PM and 10PM.  Aunt A and Grandma went with us.

When we got there we got a ticket for one of the items we needed four of.  There were five of us meaning only one of us could be gone at any given time from the line.  We got in line around 7:15PM for a 10:00PM item.  The line was in frozen foods.  It was cold by the time we got out of there.

Honestly the boys ended up with more patience than I had.  When we went to check out we got in line behind someone buying FORTY movies.  She asked him if he wanted the protection plan on EVERY SINGLE ONE.  (He didn't.)

We got out of there before 11PM and I am done with Black Friday...before Friday even starts.
Denise
Sophie had a playdate this afternoon with Aunt A's dog, Meiko and Aunt D's dog, Scuds.  Aunt D is in Texas so Aunt A is watching her dog.

Scuds might be the UGLIEST dog I have ever seen.  We were trying to figure out how old he is and couldn't.  He has warts all over his body and a HUGE one above his right eye.  He breathes with a certain wheezing noise.  He takes a heart medication and a diruetic. 

Meiko is playful and about four times bigger than Sophie.  In the past this hasn't bothered her, but today she was terrified.  She literally lay down and played dead.  Every time Meiko would even glance her way she would play dead.

Aunt A put Meiko on a leash and then Sophie became really tough.  She stayed just outside the radius of the leash and barked and pounced...never getting close enough for Meiko to touch her.

I don't know if I think this was successful or not.  It was interesting though.
Denise
We had a really nice traditional Thanksgiving dinner with Grandpa, Grandma, the boys, me, Aunt A, and Uncle D.  It was good to see both of them.  We don't see them nearly enough.

Uncle D has certainly aged since we saw him last.  The years of dialysis are taking its toll as is his age.

Younger Boy helped make green bean casserole and Middle Boy set the table.

We played a game after lunch.

It was a nice relaxing afternoon.

Praises for the opportunity to get together with family.
Denise
Middle Boy has been talking like a baby for over a week now.  It makes me CRAZY.

Every thing he says to me is in a babyish voice.  I have heard him talk to others in his normal adult voice, but me...baby talk.

I am really struggling to figure it out.  What is different?  What needs aren't being met?  Is it the holidays?  It is just the next stage of attachment?  Should I be correcting it or ignoring it?  Should I ask about it or just let it go?

Prayers for wisdom to understand what he needs and why he is reverting to baby talk with me.
Denise
Sophie has potty training issues.  She REFUSES to learn.

As a result Grandpa and Grandma won't let her anywhere in their house with carpet and she has to sleep in the kitchen or in her kennel.

I took her kennel into the bedroom with me and put it in the bathroom on an area rug.  She whined and cried.  Every now and then she was quiet for a couple of minutes. 

Middle Boy came into my room, because he can't stand to hear her crying and said he was going to go sleep in the kitchen with her.

When we opened the bathroom she had COMPLETELY shredded the bathroom rug...in less than an hour...through the floor of her kennel.

So...off she went to the kitchen with the boys.  Spoiled Sophie.
Denise
When we got to Grandpa and Grandma's we still hadn't had dinner yet.

We dropped off Sophie and went to my favorite childhood drive-in.  The boys LOVED it.  They thought the fact that you ordered via phone from your table was curious and that there was a buzzer that went off when your food was ready was weird.

They were excited to go there.  They wanted to know which of the menu items I had over the years.   They wanted to know how often I ate there growing up and how often I went there when I went back home.

It was nice to sit and have a nostalgic dinner with them.
Denise
We had a four hour drive to Grandpa and Grandma's.  A lot of car time.

For the most part the boys just played video games or listened to music.

At one point though we were discussing Thanksgiving and all of the things we had to be thankful for.  I asked each boy to give me a list of the ten things they were most thankful for the in the past year.

Younger Boy's were all really recent...like in the last day or two...with the exception of the adoption.  Otherwise it was things like thankful for being safe driving to therapy and thank you for hanging out with Nephew JJ last weekend.

Middle Boy's were way deeper.  His first was the adoption.  His second that he lives in a home where it is always safe.  One of his others was something about having everything he needs and most of what he wants.

I also gave my list.  I am thankful Grandpa is doing better and that he is here with us to celebrate the holidays and about a million other things!!
Denise
Last night I talked to the boys THREE SEPARATE times and told them that when I got home from work at noon today they needed to be ready to leave.

Sophie needed to be packed up.  I even left a checklist for her things.

They both needed to be showered and packed and ready to go.

I explained each time I was leaving work at noon.  They needed to be ready so we could go to Middle Boy's therapy and then we would leave for Grandpa and Grandma's.

I even called during the morning to double check that this was in fact occurring and was assured it was.

I got home.  No one had showered.  Younger Boy was partially packed and that was about it.

I was NOT happy.  This stuff drives me CRAZY.
Denise
Here we go...

I have my approach regarding the foster care licensing.  I have learned a lot today.

My boss is going to allow me to use company time and money to fight this.  He is involved in child welfare in our state from an executive level.

Today he connected me with a lobbyist and an executive director.  The four of us plotted our strategy regarding fighting this.

It starts at the top...with the Director of Health and Human Services.  I now have his personal and work cell phone numbers.  There is a timeframe.  There is a secondary step which involves meeting with Inspector General for the state.  It also involves meeting with the director of Child Welfare.

It also involves meeting with the head of the Childrens Commission for the state. 

I am passionate about this.  Maybe it won't change things for me.  Maybe it will.  Maybe it will make the system in our state better.  Maybe it won't.

I will NOT any longer bury my head in the sand and pretend that foster care in our state is a pretty picture.  There is a reason we are in the bottom five in the nation.

God knows where this is supposed to go.  These are the doors I have been praying would be opened for me to be able to speak earnestly about all of this.

Pray for wisdom and guidance.  Pray for the welfare of children...above all else.
Denise
Tonight there was a significant amount of teamwork in our home.

After being sick for nearly a week myself and the boys being sick the house left a bit to be desired.

We got five loads of laundry done.  We got the trash and recycling out of the house.  We got the kitchen cleaned up.

There is still (and always will be) some work to be done.

I'm proud of the boys for stepping it up tonight.
Denise
A couple of days ago I contacted Mentor L about Middle Boy.  Partially I wanted to just update him on Middle Boy and partly I wanted him to help me out.

Middle Boy doesn't get it.  He doesn't understand/care about the importance of school.  He makes excuses.  When I talk to him it falls on deaf ears.  He doesn't care what I have to say.

He has told me REPEATEDLY that Mentor L tells him school is not important.  If I really thought this was true I would come UNGLUED, but I know it isn't.

Mentor L called him tonight and talked to him about misrepresenting his words and also about the importance of school.  He talked to him about "manning up" and meeting his responsibilities.  He talked to him about all of the ramifications of not meeting them. 

He explained how school, therapy homework, and probation are all tied together.

Middle Boy was quiet.  He didn't argue.  He didn't say a word to me afterward.  For him....that is huge.  If he would have been angry I would have known that he was in denial. 

This time he was introspective. 

I thank God for godly men in the lives of both boys.  For those men who will talk to them when I just can't seem to get through.  For another voice of reason to step in...to take the time to develop the relationship.  To show them they matter.
Denise
Not everyone at Grandma and Grandpa's or in our house is 100% feeling better yet.

In fact maybe only Grandma (who never got sick in the first place) is 100%.

We are still going to go to Grandma and Grandpa's for Thanksgiving though.  Middle Boy has never been there.  He missed last year's trip when he was at the juvenile center and we don't go that often.  He is excited about it. 

Younger Boy is ready to go, too. 

They are always excited/nervous for these things and it is so difficult to predict what it might trigger.  Luckily they have tomorrow off of school (although I have had to remind Middle Boy of that about 20 times).  There's irony in that.

Prayers for safe travel and health for all of us for the next few days.
Denise
I am working on a project overseas.  Today we got the following comment on our project narrative:

"Please refrain from using the term 'Royals' in the future.  Our preference is VVIP."

Seriously?

Denise
So...I originally planned to get caught up on the blog over the weekend.  It was not to be.

Here is what I can remember of the last week:

Tuesday - Younger Boy had therapy.  It was a really tough session....really tough.  We talked a lot about Bio Dad and it resulted in him in the fetal position sucking on his thumb for most of the session while talking about "the beatings".  Not a good morning for either of us.

Wednesday - The first day of illness at our house.  Started with Middle Boy.  Stomach flu.  I stayed home with him, because I was really dizzy and felt dehydrated.  When you have been in the ER to get IV fluids before you start to know what that feels like.

Thursday - Middle Boy well.  Younger Boy stayed up the entire night before watching movies on the Netflix app on his iPod.  I was furious.  He lost privileges to go to the concert tonight.  Babysitter JP stayed with him on last minute notice.  Middle Boy and I went to the Unashamed Tour.  Not my kind of music, but I liked it and with the exception of feeling dizzy toward the end....it was good.  It was nice to see him doing something he really loves.

Friday - Everyone at school and work.  This evening we went to Youngest Sister's for Niece C's 1st birthday party.  The entire extended family was there...including Great Grandma.  We had dinner and cake and all of the kids played. 

Saturday - Back to Youngest Sister's.  Nephew W not feeling well.  Spent the day as a family hanging out, playing games, and watching football.  Twenty minutes after getting home I was unable to hold down food.

Sunday - I am really sick.  High fever.  No holding down food.  Find out Middle Sister, Great Grandma, Niece I, Grandpa, and Nephew JJ are also sick and unable to hold down food.  Not food poisoning, because we didn't eat any of the same things. 

Monday - Middle Boy throwing up...EVERYWHERE.  Younger Boy throwing up...far less than Middle Boy.  Still don't feel great, but went to work.

Miscellaneous Things that happened this week.  I couldn't have a hearing about the foster care license without them starting the revocation process.  This means that if I lose I will not ever be able to hold a foster care license again.  Sometimes you have to lose for what you believe in.

Camp - Big prayers needed here.  Am VERY ANGRY about something that happened with the Teen Camp and it is making me reconsider my entire desire to volunteer anymore. 

Boarder - Our boarder moved stuff in on Sunday afternoon.  He won't be back until next Sunday.  The boys are super excited about it and he is kind of a nice addition to the "family".  Praying he is able to find something more permanent, but this will work for now.

There you have it.  Pray for healing and health.  Pray for wisdom and discernment.  Pray for safe travels.
Denise
Some time over the weekend I will catch up on the events of the week.

I only post this, because some of you begin to worry and email me.

I was sick for a couple of days and honestly didn't have enough energy to post.

Pray for feeling better.
Denise
Sophie ate an entire package of gum today and also a couple of Hershey miniatures.  The boys were in a panic.

I called the vet to see what we should do.   As it turns out the chocolate wasn't a big deal, but the gum was.  We needed to induce vomiting.

I called the boys and gave them the directions I was given from the animal hosptial.  They were to give Sophie between a teaspoon and tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide to induce vomiting.

I told them to take her outside to do this.  I didn't give specific instructions about this so they took her on the front porch.  Not really what I had in mind. 

She vomited up all of the gum and contents of her stomach. 

She was MAD at the boys for making her sick.

She is doing much better now.  I think she is going to be fine.

Praises for a good vet and prayers that she will be fine.
Denise
This morning I told the boys that I had volunteered to have someone stay with us temporarily.  This person is a student at the local Christian university and has been renting a house that was on the market.  They were told on Friday the house sold and they have to be out by Wednesday.

I volunteered our basement as a temporary landing place until they are able to find something permanent.

Middle Boy said "how can you spring this on us?"  My response was this.  I have not been sitting around planning for someone to lose their place to live and need somewhere immediately.  This is not something one plans.  We have space and they need space.  Wouldn't it be selfish not to let them?

I am SURE the thought of living with us will spur them to action.  Knowing us...I wouldn't want to live there temporarily!!

Prayers for finding something more permanent for this student.
Denise
I arrived at home before the bus.  I could have gone home and then got back to the church.

I decided instead to stay at the church and wrap myself in a blanket and take a nap in the car until the bus returned.  ALMOST THREE HOURS LATER.

By the time they got back I was pretty cold, but felt better having gotten the additional sleep.

I rarely get that much time to myself.  I was so tired when I got home from the retreat.  It was selfish to just stay there and sleep, but sometimes you have to think about your own well being first.

Praises for the additional sleep.
Denise
The final sermon of the fall retreat was "The Dash".  It was about a life well lived.  What will the dash between your date of birth and your date of death on your tombstone say about you?

Will you have a life well lived?  Will you have an eternal legacy?

The story he used to illustrate the life well lived was the story of a pastor who was an evangelist to the end.  Even as he lay dying. 

What am I doing with my dash?  Am I making a difference?  Do people see Jesus in me and my actions?

That's the goal.  To live a life well lived.  To fill my life with people who are chasing after Jesus and making a difference.

Prayers for lives well lived.
Denise
The theme of Saturday night at the retreat was "You Must Decide". 

The premise of the sermon was that you need to make a decision whether or not you are going to follow Jesus and do those things He asks of you or if you aren't.

Generally Saturday night at fall retreat is filled with emotion.  In fact the girls almost look forward to the tears.

Tonight we left the sermon in a "moment of silence".  All of the kids walked back to their small group areas and waited for their leaders to break the silence.  K and I tried to break the silence multiple times, but the girls just sat there tears rolling down their faces.

All of the girls in our group are from churched families.  They all believe in Jesus and are working on relationships with him.  Tonight the majority of the tears were as a result of doubt each of them was feeling.

Here's the thing about doubting your faith.  If you use it to figure more things out you are going to grow so much in your relationship.  You could also throw up your hands and throw it all away.  None of the girls are at that point, but they are all ready to go deeper.

We had the best small group discussion of the year tonight.

Praises for feeling comfortable enough to be transparent.  I love these girls.
Denise
Each of the girls teams makes elaborate outfits for the photo competition and honestly to wear for the majority of the weekend at the retreat.  We made tutus.  This was our entry in the photo contest.


We did NOT place in the top five.  We did have a great time.
Denise
This morning's session was titled "Two Eternal Homes".  It was a pretty intense session describing both heaven and hell...in detail through biblical reference.

Afterward we had small group and were talking about the two possible eternal homes.  It is so hard to wrap our brains around eternity.  There were so many questions.  We discussed what our mental pictures of heaven and hell were previously and what they were now. 

At one point they were on the topic of whether or not there will be burnt food in heaven.  They are high school girls after all.

I was pretty proud of them for their questions (minus the burnt food discussion).  They are really considering their faith and what it means and where they stand in their relationships with God.

So far it has been refreshing.

The afternoon is filled with team games and a team photo competition.  Also some free time. 

I'm looking forward to the evening session and our small group.

Prayers for a safe and fun afternoon for all of the kids here.

Praises for the questions asked.
Denise
We arrived at the retreat.  I drove, because I have ridden the bus once and it is no longer on my bucket list to do so again.  Two other leaders rode with me, because they are also able to cross riding the retreat bus off of their bucket list as well.

The first session started at 9:30PM and was entitled "Everything is Meaningless".  The speaker was amazing.  He was funny and engaging which was good, because I was exhausted.

I get to spend the weekend with these lovely ladies.  They bless my life so much!!

Praying all of you are moved this weekend and that it exceeds your wildest expectations!!
Denise
I was able to get ready for the fall retreat in 10 minutes...without the list.

Middle Boy...egad.  He certainly was not focusing on getting himself ready for the retreat.

He had the list.  Every time he would say he was ready I would say "Do you have your <insert something from list>?"  Nope...had to go back upstairs for that.  After three more sessions of this I finally told him to take the list with him and DOUBLE CHECK.

He came downstairs and proclaimed himself completely packed and ready to go.  He didn't have a pillow so he made the claim he wouldn't need one for the weekend...whatever.

He had to take a dinner with him on the bus.  I asked what he wanted to take.  Food from a convenience store.  Again...whatever...I don't have to eat it.

Finally with FOUR MINUTES TO SPARE we arrived at the church.

Prayers for a safe weekend for the 100+ high schoolers and leaders at the retreat.
Denise
This weekend is the high school fall retreat for our church.  I am going and so is Middle Boy.  That leaves Younger Boy as the only one home. 

Since this is both illegal and a really bad idea I gave him the choice of going to his mentor's for the weekend or going to the foster/adoptive home of three of his biological siblings.  He chose the siblings.

He is pretty excited to get to see his two older brothers and his younger sister.  The oldest sibling lives in Georgia and none of them have seen her in YEARS. 

Pray he has a good time with them.  Often times these visits bring up lots of behaviors which generally don't exist and also lots of memories.

Pray for Mom and Dad J as they host Younger Boy this weekend.  We love them so much!!
Denise
Because she is just so good at recapping this book here is another post from my "friend".

Three Steps to Regain Control

Oh my goodness...how I have tumbled down those very steps...I'm pretty bruised from it.

I'm getting better though...and I'm learning...and I am praying.
Denise
Today the fifth person told me I should consider running for office in our state with an emphasis on child welfare reform.

Hmmm...I don't know if I see it.  I think I am too results oriented to run for office.  I think that the bureaucracy of it all would send me over the edge.

At the same time though I want to be open to what God wants from me.  He had me go through ALL OF THIS in the foster care system for a reason.  He made me who I am for a reason.

I am praying for guidance and to understand what those steps are he thinks I should take.  I know I am supposed to make a difference in the system, somehow, someway.  That has already been revealed to me.


Denise
So...that post about relinquishing the license...delete that.

I just got a call from an attorney who heard about the whole thing and is going to take the case pro bono.  She thinks HHS is setting a really bad precedent and that they aren't considering the ramifications in their current homes.

Based on her counsel I will be sending a certified letter to the department requesting a hearing.  She said she assumes they will "settle" with me before they will have a hearing.  But she said they would have to have a hearing to revoke it anyway.

She also said that by law I have to be allowed to retain my license during the time in which I am waiting for the hearing.

Waiting to hear back from her again as to how to proceed from here.

Prayers for this whole thing going forward. 
Denise
I just got a call from Middle Boy. 

I am at work.

He is lost.

He told me what intersection he is at.  It is THREE MILES from our house.

I know I am not getting the whole story.  He should not have been out walking AT ALL.

I'm just so FURIOUS with him right now.
Denise
Middle Boy's probation office visited him this morning.  She dropped off some paperwork so that we could go out of state.

She also did her random probation urinalysis.  He passed. 

I appreciate her so much.  She is really easy to work with and reasonable.

Praises for having someone in the system who "gets it".
Denise
Younger Boy decided to stay up all night last night. 

Middle Boy didn't have school today.   I told Middle Boy to be in bed at 11PM. 

I went to bed about 11:15PM.  Both boys were in bed.  Younger Boy got back up shortly after I had gone to sleep and was up all night.

Middle Boy went to bed at midnight....allegedly. 

Younger Boy stayed home from school.  When I got up this morning he was lying on the floor crying and kicking and screaming.  He hadn't showered and he couldn't even pull a sentence together.  I made the choice not to subject the teachers to that.

So...I am going to be working from home this afternoon and Younger Boy is not going to enjoy it.
Denise
I talked with my foster care agency today.

The license thing is a big mess and the state is refusing to meet with me, because they have "made their decision".

I have until November 19th to relinquish the license or they will revoke it. 

I have gotten the advice of two attorneys and both are suggesting I should sue the state for my license, because the statute they are citing doesn't apply.

Here's the thing....so I sue the state.  All I really have then is the license and likely retribution from the department.  It is a really well known fact in our state that if you speak out about the foster care system there will be retribution so the likelihood I wouldn't have kids pulled in the future would be low.  I don't need the scrutiny.

We haven't gotten Middle Boy's case file officially sealed.  We have to do it this spring.  At that time the state "could" reinstate my license.  To have it reinstated I would have to take the 13 week class again.  I doubt I will.

So...I believe I am going to relinquish my foster care license.  At this time I do not intend to have it reinstated.  I don't want to be a part of a system who punishes people for providing permanency.

Now I will have the ability to advocate for both foster kids and foster parents freely without worrying about retribution.  Maybe this is what God's plan was all along.
Denise
I told the boys I expected help around the house tonight if they wanted to continue to have privileges for the weekend. 

I clearly outlined the things we needed to get done tonight.  All of the things I can get done/do myself, but they live here, too.  I explained that they could both read and showed them where the list was.  I explained that I wasn't going to beg them to help me.  If I ended up doing the whole list myself then there would be consequences.  I outlined what those consequences were.

I didn't get any help tonight.  I didn't really think I would. 

Denise
Middle Boy's conferences went FAR BETTER than I had anticipated.  The majority of his teachers said he is a joy to have in class.

Something interesting happens to Middle Boy over the course of the day.  As the day goes on at school his behavioral issues seem to escalate.  The other thing that I find interesting is that he doesn't seem to have behavioral issues in classes taught by men.  I don't know if that is the problem as much as it is the end of the day.  His entire day is taught by men with the exception of his last class each day and those are taught by women.

Those are also the classes he has the worst grades in.  Naturally this could be because of his behavioral issues in the classes.  He could be tired and has mentally "checked out" for the day.

I don't really know.

I told him when I got home that it seems like there isn't anything anyone can do to fix the issue EXCEPT Middle Boy and he needs to make the choice to do that.

Denise
The weekly newsletter from Younger Boy's school was distributed today...just like it is every single Wednesday.

Younger Boy was looking at the newsletter and saw the list of kids on the Honor Roll.  He looked for his name.  (Really?)

He threw the newsletter on the floor and said "I have done everything since conferences and I didn't even make the Honor Roll."

There was nothing I could say to convince him that the list was from the first quarter of school.  The quarter we went to the conferences about.  The one where he DID have all of the missing assignments.

I went on to attempt to explain that he is now working on the SECOND QUARTER and that Honor Roll won't be announced until January.  He will have to do good, consistent work until January if he wants to make it.

Nope...he is having none of it.  I am clearly lying and what is the point of trying if he isn't going to be on the Honor Roll.

Denise
Middle Boy and I had a heart to heart tonight.

Life isn't about only having fun.  EVERYONE in life has responsibilities to meet and with that comes privileges.  You aren't entitled to fun.

He tells me about people he knows casually who he thinks are "never stressed".  He sees them a couple of hours a week.  Not when they are paying bills and running errands and taking care of their responsibilities.  That is what he is comparing himself to.

I told him he is setting the bar too low for himself.  He countered with the fact that people have lowered his bar for him by telling him he is stupid and will never be anything.  I asked if he had ever heard me say that.  He said yes.  I asked him to explain.  What he hears in his head and what I actually say are so very different.  I said if you don't understand your homework, I will help you.  He heard...I think you are too stupid to do your homework.  I said accept responsibility for your actions.  He heard...You are irresponsible and will never be anyone.

I HATE his low self esteem.  Even more than that I HATE his fake ego to try to cover it up.

I want him to understand...TRULY TAKE TO HEART...his worth...in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of God.
Denise
Tonight I asked the boys for a valid reason for missing work.

Younger Boy said he doesn't know what valid is.  I explained that it was a good and truthful reason.  Logical reason.

He doesn't have one.  Neither does Middle Boy.  He told me over and over that his motto is "you should be having fun or you should be dead" so if he has to just spend his days going to school and doing homework and doing therapy homework and helping out around the house he may as well commit suicide.  Really?  That seems extreme for having to do the things that 90% of your peers are required to do.

They just don't like homework.  They think it is a waste of time.  That is their reasoning.

I wish I didn't care, but I do.
Denise
Tonight when I got home from work and went to my room to change I noticed that my bed had been moved away from the wall and was sitting at an angle.

It hadn't been like that this morning and the contractor was not there today, because I didn't get a call to let them in.

So...I asked the boys who moved my bed.  Neither of them. 

So...I have to surmise that it was Sophie (highly unlikely since she is a six pound dog) or someone broke into our home and did NOTHING except move my bed.  They didn't steal anything.  They didn't rummage through anything....Just moved my bed about a foot and at an angle.

Both boys wondered why they would move the bed.  Good question, but THREE PEOPLE live in our home.  I didn't move the bed.  I tried to move the bed.  It is too heavy...I can't do it alone.  That makes me believe it was BOTH BOYS, but no one did it.

So...I don't know what they were looking for and I don't know which one did it and they can't understand why I am irritated with them.

This is why I have trouble trusting them.
Denise
Today I got a certified letter asking me to relinquish my foster care license.  It is SO ABSURD.  If I had it with me then I would quote it...in fact I might do it later today.

I have until the 19th of November to decide to relinquish or they will revoke it and a note will be made in my file.

Perhaps I should go on the schedule they followed when the boys were in foster care...it was always so very timely.
Denise
I am looking back at this blog...this is my 2000th post.  EGAD....that's a lot of things to process and a lot of praises and prayer.

It is almost ironic that my choice for this post is all of the reasons why I REALLY want to meltdown.  Why I want to throw myself on the floor, or my bed, or wherever really and just have a complete meltdown.

Homework...we can't get a grip on this.  What makes this all the more frustrating to me is the boys don't really seem to care.  Doesn't really matter to them if they do the work or not, get bad grades or not, have missing assignments or not.  At least that it how it seems.  If they don't care, then why do I?  I haven't really been able to pinpoint it quite yet.  Is it because I know they can do it and I want them to be successful in life?  Is it because I think it is their responsibility and I don't understand why they can't see it?  Is it because I was a good student and I loved school and I don't understand why they don't?  Is it because I think the fact that they are both doing miserably in school somehow makes me look like a bad mom?  I know there is some of the last one in there.  Every time I hear from a teacher I just cringe.  I think to myself "they probably are wondering why I can't get them to do this work".  "They probably think I am completely inept as a parent."  These are the things I think.

Bedtime....another thing we can't get a grip on.  We just can't.  I am so very tired all of the time.  I don't have the luxury of getting home at 3pm and resting.  I don't have the luxury of sleeping in on the weekend.  I can't wind myself down until I get some quiet time during the day and IT ISN'T fair that it is happening at midnight.

Bureaucracy...there are so many things that can be lumped in with this one.  The prescription ordeal of yesterday.  The fact that my subsidy checks aren't straightened out and Case Manager is on vacation until December 3rd.  The fact that medicaid is still not really straightened out.  The state was very quick to get it cancelled...not so quick to get it reinstated.  The fact that I need to get NEW social security numbers for the boys so no one from their past can claim them on taxes anymore and that I don't have ANYWHERE NEAR the right paperwork to pull that off.

My foster care license....this is so frustrating.  Honestly I don't know the status of it right now.  I know that my agency and the prime agency are fighting it.  I know that Voices for Children is working on a position paper and that CASA is writing a letter.  Middle Boy's attorney and therapist are involved, because HHS is using records that should have been sealed with the adoption.  It makes me angry.

Lying and trust...I am so sick of the continual lying in my house.  Younger Boy's therapists warned me that this could happen.  That the fact that everyone in my house is RAD except me will make me start to feel crazy.  Like I can't trust anyone and that no one is telling me the truth...ever.  They warned me that I can't let it carry over to my life outside of home.  I appreciate them more than they will ever know.  I spend all my time verifying and backchecking and trying to trip the boys up, because it is so very rare that I am getting even an ounce of truth. 

Social Savvy...the fact that my boys are socially savvy.  That until you really spend time with them they both seem like charming polite boys.  To the outside world they are.  To me...not as much.  The verbal abuse in my home ebbs and flows.  Luckily now we are in a period where there hasn't been as much lately.  I just have to brace myself for the next unannounced storm.

So...here I am 2000 posts later and I am hanging by a thread.  Pray for me to get over these things.  To let them go.  To get some rest.  To realize that in the grand scheme of things they aren't really such a big deal.  To remember that God has it all in control.  I just need to trust in him.
Denise
Tomorrow is parent teacher conferences for Middle Boy.  I am not looking forward to it at all.

Before school started this fall we agreed that he is capable of getting at least a C in every class.  In an attempt to be reasonable I agreed if he was doing everything possible (going in early, staying late, asking for help at home) in a class and getting a D that would even be acceptable.

The consequence for getting less was to lose his cell phone and his iPod, because they are distractions, until mid-term grades came out for the next quarter and they were improved.

This morning I reminded him of the consequence and the agreement we had made before school started in the fall.  He remembered it.  He is also really agitated, because he knows that he will be losing his electronics.

He was attempting to bargain and negotiate this morning, but I reminded him again of our agreement.

I am going to have to start taking an EVEN BIGGER role in his school work.  To date I have been contacting teachers nearly every day and getting the missing work.

This morning I contacted all of them again and asked to pick it up at conferences so Middle Boy can spend his day off getting caught up.

Prayers for my frustration level to be low and for me to remain calm after the conferences.
Denise
Yesterday when I got the email from his spanish teacher Middle Boy told me his spanish assignment was finished.

Again tonight I told him to show me the assignment.  Tonight his claim is that it is a group project and his friend, PJ, has it with him.  He asked if I wanted to see the outline, because he kept that.

I told him I was going to email the teacher, because her first email didn't lead me to believe it was a group project.

He went up to his room to do other homework.

About two hours later he came down and said "I lied.  The spanish homework isn't done and I don't even know what the assignment is.  I should have asked the teacher, but I didn't.  Can you tell me what it is?"

I am proud of him for confessing the lies.  It is a big step for him.

It took him another two hours to actually get started on the assignment, but he did finish it...sort of.

Praises for growth.  Prayers for continued wisdom on my part and for truthfulness on his.
Denise
Today I am about to lose it I am SO FRUSTRATED.

Here is the situation...

Younger Boy needs his medication refilled.  The medication is a controlled substance so it has to have a handwritten prescription EVERY MONTH.  His doctor writes them ahead so I only have to go every other month to pick them up.  For that I am thankful.

His prescriptions have his "old" last name.  His medicaid with that name has been cancelled.

We have his new medicaid number, but the pharmacy can't charge the old name to the new number.

The doctor can't write a prescription for the new name, because we don't have a copy of the adoption decree to change the name in his file and she can't write a prescription for someone she doesn't have a file on.

The only option was to pay retail for his medication.  So...TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS later, we now have his monthly ADHD med.

We still have no adoption decree from the state.  I made about 10 calls yesterday to figure out why and no one seems to know.  People will "follow up on it", but no one really seemed to be "the one" we were supposed to receive it from.

I spent ALL AFTERNOON managing this.  It makes me so irritated.

Denise
With Therapist D we worked on avoidance.  We talked about how while avoidance makes you feel relieved in the moment it delays the bad feelings and also introduces guilt into the mix.

We talked about what point Younger Boy decides he is not going to do his homework.

He admitted he actually decides right when it is given to him.  Just says to himself "this is too hard or too much work so I'm not doing it".

Through EMDR we worked through him getting past that, because he admitted the feelings later when he is asked about it are really stinky.

We will just continue to work on this thinking which is getting in the way.

Prayers for continued therapeutic help.
Denise
Therapist C told me this morning they had a meeting about Younger Boy.  They are really struggling to tell if he is really as forgetful as he presents or if he is so adept at manipulation and avoidance that we are unable to tell.

She told me she had one more thought about what was possibly going on with school and she was going to try it today.

She asked him to list all of the "parts" of himself that exist in his brain.   Here is what we came up with collectively:

Football Younger Boy
Baseball Younger Boy
Faithful Younger Boy
Kind Younger Boy
Polite Younger Boy
Smart Younger Boy
Scared Younger Boy
Confused Younger Boy
Angry Younger Boy

The last three are what Therapist C calls "Little Younger Boy".  The part of him who still exists and doesn't feel safe.  This little boy is about five years old.  There is also "Most Mature Younger Boy" or his present day self.

She thinks Little Younger Boy is the person who gets sent to school.  The answers he has in school and the way he is unable to remember anything that goes on is similar to the how a five year-old would be able to function in a seventh grade setting.

She also had him make a list of the things that Little Younger Boy missed.  He listed a lot of things...coloring, singing, being read to, riding his bike, visiting cousins, having birthday parties, and playing outside.  He said he also missed out on love and caring.  She then had him list whether or not he could or has done these things as his "Most Mature Self" since he is still a kid.  He said yes.  She asked his most mature brain to talk to Little Younger Boy and tell him that he is still able to do the fun things he thinks he missed, but he can't go to school.

He told Therapist C he is going to work on taking "Most Mature Younger Boy" to school every day for the rest of the week.

Praises for amazing insight.  It is hard to hear and even harder to figure out how to help him through it.

Prayers for healing Little Younger Boy.
Denise
Middle Boy has to wear the splint for a week.  He thinks it is inconvenient.  Hmmm...you are right, it is inconvenient.  A cast would be even less convenient.

The most convenient thing might have been to not roll yourself in your desk chair down the stairs.  That didn't cross your mind though, did it?

So...wear the splint for the week.  That is what they told you to do.  Follow their directions, because they have a medical degree and, well, you don't.

Prayers your arm heals quickly.
Denise
Younger Boy was still up when I got home tonight. 

He seemed surprised that I was home.  He was claiming to not be able to sleep.  In reality he was messing around with Sophie and coming downstairs every 5 minutes to see what Babysitter J was doing.

He, too, claimed no homework.

When I walked in the door I sent him to bed.

Praying for a good nights sleep.
Denise
Middle Boy was allegedly tired tonight.  What he was really doing was avoiding homework and therapy assignments.

I had Bible study so Babysitter J was there with the boys.  He went to his room to go to bed at 7PM.  They never saw him again.

When I got home I checked his texting log.  He wasn't sleeping...he was texting for three straight hours.  Avoiding responsibility.

When I got home he was actually asleep so I didn't say anything, but the lying and deceitfulness has to stop.
Denise
Homework frustrations continue to plague me. 

Younger Boy is still the king of the kooky story about not knowing what to do.  Middle Boy is the king of overexaggeration about effort put forth.  We can't seem to meet in the middle.

Middle Boy is ALWAYS already done with his homework.  Again today...already done.

I had gotten an unsolicited email from his spanish teacher this afternoon telling me that he had a menu of at least 10 items due in the next class period.  It had to have pictures and descriptions of each of the 10 items. 

When I asked about it he didn't miss a beat...it is done.  When I asked to see it he couldn't produce it.  Must be lost.

I asked about therapy homework.  Therapist L had lost her patience will all of his group on Saturday and they each need to have 8 - 14 assignments done by the next group meeting.  He should be done with three by now.  I asked about them.  He's "working on it".

I'm so tired of this...so VERY TIRED.
Denise
Younger Boy and K finished up their visual aids for the lung presentation.

It took quite a bit of effort to keep Younger Boy on task.  I'll admit it...I was not engaged.  Thankfully K was there to pick up the slack.  In fact, she is hired for every night should she choose to accept the mission!!

He was stalling because he is nervous about the presentation.  I think in his mind if he doesn't do the work then the anxiety will go away.  That was really evident tonight.

I am thankful the project is done and thankful to K for helping (taking over) when I didn't have it in me!!
Denise
When we got home and Middle Boy was getting ready for bed he took off the splint.

WHY???

He said he is SURE they said he didn't have to wear it to sleep.  WRONG.  I wrapped it back up.

He is hearing what he wants to hear...as usual.
Denise
Middle Boy's wrist is possibly fractured.  It is fairly swollen and they are going to have a radiologist read it in the morning.  They gave us a disk of the xrays to give to an orthopaedist if we need to go there.

Middle Boy doesn't really want to wear the splint or his sling.  Maybe he should have thought about that when he was rolling the chair down the stairs.

He WILL be wearing the splint every second they told him to (all the time except when showering).

Prayers for quick healing.
Denise
Younger Boy has three assignments due on the lungs.  Before Middle Boy's injury he called my friend, M, in Seattle to interview her.  She is a respiratory therapist.  Really he called her to ask the questions on the paper he should have researched by now.

K came over to watch him while I went to the urgent care place with Middle Boy. 

After I left I got a text from her telling me Younger Boy has a headache so bad it is "affecting his ability to write".  She was going to give him an advil. 

He then texted asking how to hook up the printer so he could print a picture of the lung in lieu of drawing one like his assignment called for.

He also needed to do a presentation.  He is lamenting it not being as good as everyone else's.

Prayers for finishing this homework.  Praises for K and her patience and help.
Denise
Did you know it is dangerous to roll your desk chair down one of the stairs?

I have to start by saying I am not certain why Middle Boy's desk chair was anywhere other than his room and definitely not sure why it was near the stairs.  That is simply a side note though.

Apparently he was near the stairs and was leaning down to fix an area rug when the chair went down the first stair and slammed into the wall at the landing.  At the same time he went tumbling down the stairs and hurt his nose and his wrist.   He can't really move a couple of his fingers and his hand is getting really pale so we are headed to the emergency room.

I am going to have to put signs in the house discussing the dangers of rolling chairs near stairs.
Denise
I had Middle Boy drive the entire way home today.  He started driving when we left the convenience store where we got gas and stopped driving when we entered our driveway.

He is SO MUCH better than he was a couple of weeks ago.  So much better.

He still makes me nervous, because I don't think he brakes soon enough.  Multiple times I had to repeat that.  At one point I said...I have been driving for 25 years, you have been driving for 25 minutes....please listen to me and do what I ask.

He is conscientious.  He is still learning some of the rules of the road, but I quiz him continually when he is driving and when I am driving.

I am proud of him.
Denise
Middle Boy seems to have a new level of maturity about him.  He doesn't get mad at feedback these days.  He is willing to have a conversation without verbally abusing me or accusing me of making accusations or interrupting him.

We talked openly in the car about his therapy and how it is hard for him because he doesn't like to think about it.  He is ashamed of his behavior and would rather not think about it or talk about it anymore.

It was during this car ride that he told me he has been thinking a lot about protecting his heart since our discussion with the pastors yesterday.  He said he has decided that he is going to let me in.  He knows it isn't going to be easy and it might take a long time.  He said when we were talking yesterday it clicked that I am going to be his mom forever and there are some things I should know.

I am so thankful for this newfound maturity...even if it doesn't last long!
Denise
I hate myself for getting completely out of shape.  I am SO SICK of being like this.  I want to be able to do more with the boys and not be a complete hindrance to them.  I am so frustrated right now.
Denise
I decided I would let Middle Boy do some driving today on the way to the football game.

He hasn't really driven on the highway and the traffic wasn't too bad so I thought we would give it a go.

He ended up driving about two of the three hours.  I thought it was best if I got him out of town and I knew he had no business driving into town in game day traffic.  It is ALWAYS a mess, because the town isn't set up for that much traffic.

He did a great job.  I only had to slam my foot into the floor of the passenger seat twice like I was braking and grab the hand hold overhead once.  Pretty good.

He is really unsure of his driving and CONTINUALLY asks how he is doing.  Almost to the point of making me CRAZY.

He has improved A LOT.  He does a great job of listening.  I am proud of him. 

Now if he was good enough to drive while I napped!!
Denise
We dropped off Younger Boy and Sophie at C's for the weekend.

They have a lot of things planned.  C has some projects for them to work on and they are going to watch some football, bake some bread and cookies, and help her parents with a couple of projects.

Younger Boy is really excited to spend the weekend with C.  Both boys really love her.  So does Sophie.  Now if her dog, Bailey, and her cat, Happy, loved Sophie as much as she loves them!!

I am SO THANKFUL to have C in my life.  There has NEVER been a time when she wasn't willing to help me out.  She has taken the boys a lot and they have a wonderful time with her.

God...thanks for C.  We love her!!
Denise
This morning was a smooth morning.  No one yelled and no one got mad. 

We all got packed up for the weekend and everyone helped get Sophie's things together. 

It was a picture of how I wish all mornings went and I know could be possible.

It gave me hope!!
Denise
Ever since he woke up this morning Younger Boy has had his headphones in and has been singing at the top of his lungs.  I am guessing he has his iPod on shuffle, because it has been a random selection.  We have had worship, rap, and some Michael Jackson.  All loud and all a little bit off key.  Not horribly off key, but just a little bit.

It is a joyful noise and a blessing!
Denise
Tonight I was talking to Younger Sister and somehow we got on the topic of school.  Her kids go to a public school which utilizes the BIST (Behavior Intervention Support Team) Philosophy.  The school has "life goals" for the kids.

Niece A, a second grader, got on the phone to tell me the life goals.
  1. I will be okay and following directions even if I don't want to.
  2. I will be okay even when I have big feelings, because feelings come and go.
  3. I will be okay even when other people around me are having trouble.
Wow...these are life lessons we could all use.  I want to know more about BIST.  It really sounds like something we should be implementing at home.
Denise
Something struck me as we were talking with Pastor J and Pastor T.  On a couple of occasions one or the other of them commented that the boys are really mature in the things they are saying and also quite brave.

Middle Boy said he needs to change.  His behavior is affecting others and it isn't fair.

Younger Boy talked about a meeting the two of them had on Thursday about how they aren't fair to me.

Both things mature.  Both things show compassion and empathy.

I am proud they are my sons.  Thank you God for putting them in my life and allowing me to be their mom.
Denise
Middle Boy wanted to learn to park a car.  What better place than a church parking lot on a Friday afternoon.

So...we got in the car and went parking....until I got car sick.

Middle Boy is NOT good at parking.  Had their been other cars there we would have removed trunks, back bumpers, and side panels.  We would have looked like we didn't want door dings.

It was all around ugly.

We need to practice it again some time.  When my stomach isn't quite so queasy!!
Denise
During the session with the pastors Middle Boy got on the topic of having a concrete wall around his heart.  How he isn't planning to let anyone in...EVER.

After a bit of this discussion Pastor J said that it really makes him sad.  Maybe he should consider using wood to build that wall and work really hard to let people in, because his past doesn't define him if he doesn't let it.  He told Middle Boy that if he chooses wood over concrete one day he would look back and it would be hay.

This completely clicked with Middle Boy.  He really thought about it and talked about it...A LOT.

Thank you God for giving Pastor J the wisdom and the words to speak to Middle Boy's heart.
Denise
Our meeting with Pastor J and Pastor T at church went very well.

We talked a lot about anger in our household.  About the level of anger which occurs on all fronts. 

We talked about how EVERYONE who lives in our house is passive aggressive to some degree.  Some more than others, but everyone is passive aggressive.

We talked about aggressive behaviors and damaging behaviors.  We talked about trust.

At one point I knew we were striking a nerve with both boys, because Younger Boy started to cry and Middle Boy dissociated.  I was able to bring him back to present fairly quickly, because I caught it fairly quickly.

Pastor T described his thoughts on what we need to do.  He compared our anger to a boiling pot that you need to lift the lid on every so often and "release the steam" so it doesn't boil over.

We talked about communication and how important it is.

I am so thankful for our church family.  I am so thankful to these two men for sitting down with us and mediating this discussion.

Middle Boy LOVED hearing from them.  He said that he really felt like he could connect with them.  This is NOT something he says often so I know he really means it.

Denise
A couple who I went to high school with adopted their son at age 5.  I don't know the back story.  I'm not sure if he was from an orphanage or out of foster care.

He had recently been moved to a group home out of town for some behavioral issues.  I did a little bit of research on the home.  It is for boys who have emotional and behavioral issues.  They specialize in family therapy.  I can clearly see us in a place like this.  We have been in places like this.

On Halloween their 17 year-old son hung himself from some playground equipment at the group home.  He ended his life.

Any time a child feels like life isn't worth it anymore it breaks my heart, but honestly...this hits a little too close to home for me. 

My boys are both still very broken from their YEARS of abuse, both emotionally and physically.  They are healing, but there are still MANY times when it is evident that they have very little self worth.

God can heal all of these boys.  God can also heal these grieving parents.  I pray He will hold each of them in the palm of his hands and they can feel his loving arms around them.
Denise
Some good friends of ours are doing respite this weekend for a 3 year-old little boy and a 9 month-old little girl.  These kiddos foster mama just put in her notice.

J asked for prayers. 

We prayed about the big feelings everyone was probably having.  M and J with a nervous excitement, their kiddos being excited and a little unsure, and the foster kiddos being scared.

Middle Boy wanted us to pray the foster kids would be able to relax and know that they were in a good safe home that wouldn't hurt them.  Younger Boy also wanted to pray they weren't confused and scared.

It was good for us to talk about.  I doubt people ever really asked them much how they were feeling every time they went to respite or to a new home.  This was pretty healing to them, because they were able to talk about how they felt when they were "little".

Prayers for M and J as they do respite this weekend and moving forward.
Denise
Today I am out of sorts.  I'm irritated and on edge.  I have a lot to do today at work and also this weekend at home.

I'm spending the afternoon at home today with Younger Boy because he doesn't have school today.  Hopefully we can get his project about the lungs that is due Monday knocked out of the way.  I'm sure he will dig in his heals.

Today we meet with the pastors at church about anger.  The boys wanted to do this a couple of weeks ago.  This morning when we were talking about our day and I mentioned it Middle Boy asked how much of his time it was going to take.  I told him it depended what we were going to talk about and how cooperative everyone was.  He told me if all of the focus is on him he is "out of there".  I told him I am sure EVERYONE is going to feel like the focus is all on them.  Human nature.

I'm gathering my thoughts about this.  About the things that send me over the edge and make me very angry.  I'm struggling though to put things in perspective.  This morning didn't go well with Middle Boy.  He struggles to get ready in a timely manner and then blames me for him running late.  This morning I was ready for 30 minutes before he was.  We got up at the same time.  He has been tardy to school for the last four days.  He wants me to call them so he doesn't have to do a detention.  I wasn't the one who wasn't ready.

I'm hoping I can get out of this funk I am in.