Thursday, October 30, 2008

In the Great Land of Undiagnosed Aspergers

We are here, with the in-laws.

And I have to give credit where it is due, the girls were absolutely great, both of them, with the travel. We left our house and took a cab to the airport. Then we flew to O'hare, had breakfast, and got on another plane. Then we took a bus to the car rental place and picked up our family minivan and drove a long way to our hotel. Except for refusing to sleep the entire time, the girls were wonderfully behaved. Through all the changes, and boring parts, they were great. It helped I think, that I put them both on those cutesy animal- backpack leads from Wal-mart. They kind of had no choice in the airports.

We had to wake up the girls early in the morning to make our flight. We had to wake them. I get a great pleasure out of that! Both kids are dreadfully early morning people and many a war has taken place over their morning behavior. Genea cannot stand to be alone and will go to extreme lengths to get someone to wake up with her. Now, mind you, she shares a room with Teena who is also a morning person. So she wakes up Teena if she is not already up then the two of them proceed to be pains in the butt and destroy the house if someone in charge does not get up with them to take names.

Never one to let an incidental learning opportunity pass by, I asked them all day how that felt. Was it fun to get up before you were ready? NO? Why not? Hmmm, how do you think other people feel when you wake them up.
So, was it fun when you had to get up early? Hmmm?

Where the in-laws live, is a place I like to call Aspergerburbia. It is a small town where everyone knows everyone and then some. There are a few places in the United States where the most scrambled of all the Egg-Heads gather and this is one. My fil is a nuclear physicist and mil teaches music here.

If you have ever heard of Tony Attwood, he is an expert in Aspergers Disorder, which can also be called high- functioning autism. He is a great researcher and educator, I have seen him speak. This quote is directly from his website to describe what makes an autistic person a person with Aspergers:

"The person usually has a strong desire to seek knowledge, truth and perfection with a different set of priorities than would be expected with other people. There is also a different perception of situations and sensory experiences. The overriding priority may be to solve a problem rather than satisfy the social or emotional needs of others."

When I went to his seminar in Milwaukee a few years ago, he started with a funny story. He said, he plays a little game of picking out the Aspie in a crowd, with ranking and points etc. Then he said, when he is with a group of scientists/ accountants/ engineers the challenge then becomes to pick out the person without Aspergers. It was really funny the way he told it anyway.

So to summarize, I am visiting with a pair of people who don't have 2 social skills to rub together to make a fire. And no one else here does either. And no one thinks anyone else center. They live with their own kind here in what they call "academia".

Lest anyone think I am being mean, or making this up, or exaggerating I will give you an example. One mere hour into this visit, my fil brought up the future love making abilities of my daughters. Yes, yes he did. At dinner, the mil brought up her problem bladder infection, how she got it, and then discussed her subsequent yeast infection. At dinner.

But actually I enjoy brief visits with them. The mil is the type that scoots around telling you all day how she just wants to make everyone happy, which is code for I have to control every single facet and its possible outcomes or I will die. So, that can be fun. Did I mention the OCD yet? There are no strangers to pharmaceuticals here! So really, we fit right in.

There are a few things I want to do here. First, I must go yarn shopping. I must knit, knit, knit like the wind! Second, I must go to the Coach outlet and Liz Claiborne outlet. Third, I want to go to the church with the Holy Dirt.

I'm gonna assume the first 2 are self explanatory.

I am totally cranked up about the chance to take Genea to visit the Holy Dirt, and Teena too. There is a church where a miraculous event occurred a bazillion years ago. Water appeared as a stream or something, and then disappeared, leaving just the dirt. People who visit this spot have reported medical miracles, there are braces and crutches lining the walls with little stories about how people were healed. I am not trying to be disrespectful in my description, I just don't remember all the details, it has been more than 10 years. Anyway, I cannot wait to take Genea there. I am going to bring some dirt home too, just in case it doesn't take right away. And Teena, I think I will set her right into the hole (in the ground where the dirt is) and tell her to sprinkle it over herself. In the olden days when this was discovered people would eat the dirt, but I will save that for an emergency.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Outwit, Outplay, Outlast

Where is Teena?
Seriously, where is she?

Question: Teena, why are you wearing only one sock?

Answer: So I can see the pretty nail polish on my toes

Monday, October 27, 2008


When Genea first came, she was 4 years old. She, like many 4 year olds, did not know the alphabet or her numbers so I set about teaching her. Of course the most interesting thing to any toddler is themselves or another toddler, so I started with her name. And progress was slow. But when she got it, she got it and that is the end of that. Once it goes in the little iron fist of her brain, you can be absolutely sure it is in there, and in there good.
I taught her to spell her name using the children's song about the little dog named Bingo. So we did it like this:

There was a family
that had a girl and
Genea is her name-o
AND Genea is her name-O.

Only, it turns out Genea had learned a few things along the way, and the right words to that song is something she had already learned. So, she merged the two in her iron fist brain.

AND Bingo is Genea's name- O!

So I have a strange feeling she will teach that song to her own children this way.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

THIS is Bothering Me

The tragedy involving Jennifer Hudson's family is desperately horrible. Her mother and brother were killed a few days ago in Chicago and her sisters' 7 year old son is missing. If you don't know, Jennifer Hudson is a singer and actress who is from the south side of Chicago originally and it seems her family still lived there.
The crime itself is absolutely terrible. To describe it, to put words to the emotional aftermath, is impossible. The pure, scathing agony is unimaginable.
What I don't understand is where is that little boy and why is there not a big search going on? There has been an Amber Alert and the FBI is involved I live 3 hours from Chicago (by my driving) and I have seen only the exhibitionist type of news on the subject. Like, this doesn't concern us but isn't it tragic. It has been several days now and again...where is he and what has happened to the little boy? I don't understand how he is involved in the murders. Was he supposed to be at his grandmothers house that day? Or did he go missing from school? Why is there not a nationwide alert going on with photo's and information streaming?
I have to say it, I really do. And if you don't like it, then bite me.
That cute little blond white boy from Nevada was nationwide news when he went missing, what, 2 weeks ago. And I am thousands of miles from Nevada. It was all over the papers, the tv news and internet pages. Updates came several times a day, and even when there was nothing new to report, reporting happened.
So here is the link to the Amber Alert for Julian King:
I hope he is okay.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I think I'll take up smoking again

What the hell is so bad about smoking anyway. Cut a few years off my life? The gorky years in a crummy stinking nursing home wearing a diaper? Talking to my imaginary dog about my imaginary trip to Hawaii?
Settle in, this is a long one.

We have a lot going on and coming up. There is the trip to Chicago to the home of the Most Spoiled Children on the Planet, along with visiting children from out of state, and a Show. This involves 3 days of travel, 2 overnights at my parents house, and many, many deviations from our regularly scheduled weekend of staying home and trying to not kill each other. Aside from the traveling part, I was looking forward to seeing some of the family from another state and doing some fun things in the city. Genea does not like anything new. She has the rest of her life scheduled to be exactly the same as yesterday. I learned the hard way, the realllllly really hard way, that cuing Genea in to an impending schedule Change does only one thing, and that one thing is to freak her out from that moment until approximately 1 week and 2 days after the Change. (There actually is a pattern there for those of you with sharp eyes ....see she will include the Change in her repertoire of scheduled events for the following week assuming the Change is a permanent addition to her schedule no matter what I tell her different, therefore her last freak out will be 2 days after she realizes the Change will not be repeating. Which is another Change).

Then, 2 days after our return we are leaving for a week to visit the other grandparents. Big Change. With a scary new thing. Flying. On an airplane. And folks, I know this is strange but you probably would not be to this paragraph if you were not expecting some strange payoff. You would have changed the channel by now as it were. Check out this one--- Genea has spent the past year believing her previous parents are living on an airplane. Oh yeah, no typo's.

No one knows where she got this idea, but somehow when she officially came to our home to live she put them on an airplane that never landed. Evidently, this was all part of the Magical Thinking that young children will develop to explain something traumatic to themselves. Every time she noticed an airplane for a year, she told everyone in her range that her Non-Mom and Non-Dad were on it. Even Teena would say it. Now, I slowly and carefully landed the aircraft across about six weeks over the summer, and released the Nons.(I was going to call them the Others but I remembered that whole plot line has been used elsewhere.) Notice the word "I". "I", may have landed them, but I have no idea where Genea put them. And she is not telling.

So, not to change the subject or anything, but moving right along. We have a lot to cover.

About a week ago, I noticed Teena going potty more than usual. She usually waits until the last possible second and springs up from whatever fascinating life altering activity she was doing to ricochet off the walls getting to the potty and fyi, get out of her way. But I saw her going a few more times than is her normal one day, and then she had a peeing accident. So I called the Doctor and made an appointment for the same day and Teena proceeded to stay away from the potty for the next 4 hours. I was sure the office staff at the Doctor would be snorting at my overreaction as soon as we turned the corner with the nurse. But, I was right, she had a UTI. Well she was thrilled. And so excited to be taking medicine! She basically felt ok so she was just happy to get to go out. Notice that a change in routine makes Teena happy. Then she got to have special juice. What the hell is so special about her juice? It better be ef'in' special for $12.00!!! Regular store cranberry juice is from concentrate and all the brands had sugar and a bunch of other stuff in them. So I went to a health food store- why do these stores always smell icky? Anyway, REAL cranberry juice with an actual cranberry, is pricey and incidentally, disgusting. Turns out there is a great reason for adding all that other stuff.

Yesterday, Genea came home from school and said she felt sick. I felt her forehead and it was warm. I had The Husband look at her throat because she said it hurt. I will get strep if there is one single germ in a 20 mile radius. I even had Scarlet Fever this past spring. That's why I had him look. Throat was red. Call the Dr., because we have all these trips out of town coming up! Sure enough, strep. More medicine. Nothing gets my Mommy Gene fired up faster than one of MY babies in pain. I will kick any ass necessary to save my babies from pain including an invisible germ. That was yesterday.

Now today, the girls are so excited to be home together unexpectedly that they are behaving like the Mexican Jumping Beans they used to sell at gas stations in the 70's. So I hear. Teena is devastated that her medicine is all gone and Genea gets to take it now. I finally realized I should probably separate them or they will both be sick. Of course I am feeling run down and sickish but I can't tell if that is my normal feeling shitty or if it is sick-shitty. Unexpected bonus now, our trip to Chicago is cancelled. I was going take Teena and go by ourselves but it turns out no one wants us anyway. Since we could be carrying a Death Plague across state lines.

With all these great times, I have been thinking, what would really make this all even better, is to start smoking again. Ahhhhhhh.

Several hours into this post, the girls will not be separated. The best I can do is to make a pillow wall between them and hope the germs don't jump up and race over. Genea should not be toxic anymore anyhow.

Does either of them look sick?
Teena is starting to feel warm.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Is it Really Real Simple?

You probably know this magazine, Real Simple. If not, it is a beautiful monthly magazine that is very popular about how to simplify your life in 250 pages or less. At least, I think that was the intention.

But now, 5 years later it seems they have run out of ways to be simple and now are focused more on ways to get them some payola by selling their own more complicated but really pretty ways to put your stuff out of view. I am a person who needs my stuff in view or I forget I have it, so this fancy stuff is useless to me and this might be why I may take a slightly taunting tone when describing this publication. In the April 2008 issue, the 'beauty' segment features a guide to neutral nail polish to match your skin tone, and very simply proceeds to list 40, yes 40 suggestions of brands and color choices along with the useful tip to ''wash your hands well after applying sunscreen. Its ingredients can make sheer polish look dull and grimy''.

Anyway, the mag also has a segment they call the 'aha' use for everyday items, in other words a new way to use something you already have. For example, all those used bounce sheets. You could knit them together and make a ghost costume for your child and she would be the best smelling ghost at the party! (This is me exercising my right to satire, or shit I think is funny that may be not entirely factual- my sense of humor is not for everyone). I actually had an AHA moment of my own but I did not submit it. I will share it with the Internet People of the Air.
Start with a used up sock, cut off the grimy dull foot part and cut a hole out for your thumb.
Then, put your 'I knitted way too much and typed way way too much' brace from Walgreen's on over the raggedy sock. No matter what the label says all of these braces make your hand sweaty. Not with this AHA suggestion! Then you can put the sock top in the laundry and wash it in your $16.00 green laundry soap! In your little green bucket of rainwater! Then re-use the water for your green coffee! That you grew the beans of in your backyard and baked in the green sun using your green hubcap as a reflector! Ok, I probably took that too far. (!)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My Genea as an Adult

I wonder what my girls will look like as adults. I started and erased this post 3 times because I started by writing that I had an idea of what Teena would look like, but as one of the facets of adoption I would not know at all what Genea might look like. But really, no one knows about either of them. I think it is normal to imagine the ability to predict but the truth is you can guess and thats all. So it isn't any different trying to imagine what Genea will look like growing up.

Recently, we were laying on the couch together and she fell asleep (this is a point of progress for her, that she can fall asleep with another person next to her). And I was watching her as her features relaxed and she drifted off and I think I saw her growing up face. So like any good and crazy parent I popped off flash bulbs at her instead of leaving her in peace while she slept. If I look at this picture and tilt my head to the left, I think I see what is a hint of her adult face.

I guess we will find out in about 14 years.

Monday, October 20, 2008

The War of the Tacos

Everyone with children has funny stories about kids and food, especially if the kids are girls. If by chance those kids are my girls, then the funny part becomes what they will eat, and that is not much. The Husband, he has no patience with this at all. He, however is a boy and like most boys he only requires that the food be done moving before he will eat it. I grew up with a sister and our eating habits were so bad they made the evening news.
(Well, that's what our mom said). So legendary that 35 years later it is still talked about (ok, by our parents).

In my house, we just recently recovered from the Battle of the Rice-o- roni. The adults are proud to report a victory after the 4th appearance of said Roni for dinner. And with the addition of a slab of cheese. And, a reduction in standards. No matter how we got there, the adults won!

So, I made taco's for dinner. Cooked the tortilla's even ! I don't expect much from these culinary experts of refined palate anymore. However, they have eaten these taco's before. In fact, I made up a batch of taco meat awhile back and they ate it. They verbalized their approval. This was the exact same meat. I mean exactly. I had made extra at the time and I froze the rest of it. THIS was the SAME beef!

Sniff. Poke.

Agitated looks pass between the girls. With only the visual cues of their secret language they decide who is going to take one for the team. The first one speaks.

"I not like this"

"Sure you do, you have had it and you love it"

" I not like this taco"

"Just try it"

She bites. Her head rocks back. She gags, and she cries. "I not like this taco!!!"

The other one, we never get to the first bite. She pokes at the shell and tells me, " don't like this, don't like this beef, don't like this cheese. This cheese not yellow, this cheesez white".

Well girls, I tell them, this is dinner.

Later the same evening they find a bag of tortilla chips and launch into the combination Beg-Whine. They want taco chips. They must have tortilla chips noooowww! They tell me, we are hungry! Really.

Remember the olden days before really good antidepressants when parents would be mysteriously gone to "rest their nerves"? THIS IS WHY!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Disrupting an Adoption

Disrupting an adoption is brutal. It is something I am familiar with and I have seen happen, most recently in my own home with the adoption of my new daughter, Genea.

Disrupting an adoption is a subject going around blogs at the moment, so I decided to jump on in. To "disrupt" means that adoptive parents have gone to court and had their parental rights terminated forever. The child is then without parents and goes to any of several possible places, with another family, to a group home, to a foster home, etc. Sometimes the child is re-adopted, sometimes not.

Like many people, I had never even heard of the idea, and I never knew it was possible. About 10 years ago I was in charge of a treatment group home in a large city for young girls who had been sexually abused. To be placed in this home, the children who were between 5 and 12, had to be so damaged they were un-placeable elsewhere and could not remain in their homes if they had one at all. This was the last stop before institutionalization. Most of the girls were in CPS custody, there were a few that still had parents but most had been taken from conditions of abuse and neglect and parental rights had been terminated by the state.

One of the little girls was named Laney. She had been placed as an infant with her adoptive family and by the time she got to the group home she was 12. Without going into a long history, her parents terminated their rights saying that when CPS placed her 11 years earlier, they never told the parents that Laney's birth mother had abused drugs while pregnant. I judged this family with every bit of anger and degradation I could throw at them. Not that I ever met them because they came to the house exactly one time, and that was to drop her off. Every bit of hatred and bile and frustration and helplessness that I felt for the abusers of all of the children I aimed at this family. For a long time.

Fast forward many years and I am living in the midwest, I have had Teena who is about a year old and I see an ad in the paper for volunteer guardians. It is a program in the state to provide guardianship for adults with disabilities who have no one willing or able to take care of them. Elderly people with no family left, ''incompetent'' adults who have mental illness, people like this. My ward, as is the terminology, is an 18 year old young lady who was adopted as a baby after suffering abuse so horrid it damaged her mental capacity permenantly and put her in a full body cast. As a baby. No member of the family, who placed her in a group home at the age of 14, not one is willing to be her legal guardian when she reaches legal adulthood.

Then comes Genea and I have written about her and Teena and our family many times so this blog contains a lot of information and little stories about them and how they became sisters and how Genea became our daughter. There is no secret that Genea lived with another family who legally terminated their parental rights so that she was free to be adopted again, by us. She was adopted by this family from Ukraine when she was about 15 months old and lived with them until she turned 4.

It is easy to take aim and fire at the first family. What kind of horrible person does this? How could anyone be so wretched as to un-adopt an orphan? It is so vile of a thing to consider you want to wash your brain for the thought to disappear. But.

They did everything. And when everything failed, they did more. And when more failed, they stuck with it and still tried. No one spends $35,000 and a year of their life to give up. No one spends thousands and thousands of dollars and a year if they are lucky, two years for some to bring a child into their home and then change their mind when the child cries.

I have Genea's medical records. I will not go into all the details but I am going to summarize. Something was not right with Genea from the beginning. They took her to the pediatrician. They took her to specialists. They took her to 5 different medical professionals before they got a diagnosis from a Pediatric Endocrinologist which turned out to be similar to Addison's syndrome. Her body did not make a certain hormone it needed.

At the same time they knew she was having emotional problems that went WAY beyond what they had been told to expect. They called their agency. The agency told them to go for counseling. They went. And when that didn't work, they went to another clinic and tried again. And when that didn't work they were sent to a specialist in autism where she was diagnosed with moderate Autism Spectrum Disorder. They went to yet another clinic to get help for the autism. But by now they are done. They cannot do it. They have gone so far past what they are able to handle that they are destroyed. Literally. Genea is re-diagnosed with anaclymic depression and has been labled with failure to thrive as well. She had not grown for 2 years.

They went looking for another family to take Genea into their home. We were not looking to adopt a child, but became aware of the situation and decided to do it.

The original adopting parents had been devastated and they seperated soon after the termination hearing and are planning to divorce. They have been wiped out financially and emotionally. Their families have turned on them. Her parents tried to intervene and cost us thousands of dollars in trying to stop the adoption. Having a child with multiple disabling conditions can be isolating, and they no longer had any friends. Genea looked, and still looks, on the surface to be an average ordinary little girl. From the outside it was obvious where the problem was, squarely with those parents. And wouldn't it be nice if it was that easy.

Genea is working, and we are working, hard. The changes in her have been termed, more than once, a miracle. She is in kindergarten and acts just like the average child. Her problems are far less severe but they are still there. What made the difference? I don't know for sure really. I suspect that the neurological was driving the physiological was driving the emotional was driving the neurological. If that makes sense. Her little body had created this impenetrable cycle. I will write about that in another post because there is a lot to it and I have learned so much in research.

I remember early on being in the grocery store with Genea when suddenly she went into one of her hard core tantrums. The kind where a comparison could be made to a wild animal, and I am squatting down trying to calm her and a woman walks past us and gives me the fake sympathy look and says, awwww. And I thought lady, you have NO IDEA what you are judging. None.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Most Spoiled Children on the Planet

Not mine! Now, my beautiful little girls are the recipients of much love and affection and toys and clothes. Mine are the first girls in 10 years in the extended family on my side, and the only grandchildren ever on The Husbands side. So they do not lack, well, anything. They have entire storage systems dedicated to their toys, and multiple levels in their closet for clothes. This photo is of one corner in their room, there is a CD player on top. And of course they are rich in all the love and stuff we can shovel onto them!

(And all the attention they can drag out of us with successful whining! Every chance they get to trick us into doing something for them that they can do for themselves! 'Cause we are too tired to crab about it!)

You can see I am not watching Oprah in all my spare time.

We have a family gathering coming up in Chicago and we will be going to the home of the two most spoiled children on the planet. My cousin has the payola in a big way. So when I say these kids are really spoiled, it is not in the "oh mine are too" kind of way. Not the, got a tv and dvd in their bedroom, spoiled. These two little darlings are spoiled in the Mom drives a Porsche SUV way. Seriously.
(Who knew Porsche even made an SUV? The first time I saw the thing I thought they must have taken the hood ornament off of a roadster or something. Isn't that like jumbo shrimp?)

The family dog is a St Bernard. The biggest one that could be found. This dogs name is Rufus. Only the little boy cannot say Rufus. So he calls the dog Bob. His parents would never dream of saying, that's not the dogs name, kid. Rather than correct the little darling by saying, darling the dogs name is Rufus, they decided to change the dogs name instead. Now everyone calls the dog Bob. Really.

The next baby came along and is a girl. She is named for a place in Europe. Not, mind you, a place where anyone in this family has origins. They did not, for example, name the little girl Warsaw or Frankfurt which would have been culturally in our neighborhood at least. She will be baptised in Europe this winter, in un-said country containing the unnamed capitol. In a church that does a special religious celebration in December which this baby will now be a part of.

These examples are the tip of the iceberg. I make these observations not out of jealousy or judgement, but rather out of fascination. And I also think it is kind of funny. So we have this coming up in a few weeks and are going to my cousins house. Which should be fun! 'Cuz my people are crazy! But in a good way!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Kids who are Lucky to be Alive

I broke free for a few hours last night. Those would be the bath and dinner hours I was free of. My replacement was in the form of a large male, human, believed to be at minimum, normal, intelligent and able to process information at a level at least a few years above that of the 3 and 5 year old children he would be in charge of.

Sometimes there is a reason for a stereotype.

When I came home I was greeted with Teena and Genea rushing at me hollering "we had pizza rolls and graham crackers for dinner!"

Genea wearing her new favorite pink tinkerbell jammies that I think at this point probably walked up to her and asked to be put on. Teena in some bizarre combination that obviously had come from the back "outgrown" part of the closet where she is forbidden to go.

I would have pictures but my dang camera broke. It only took me 5 sets of batteries before I realized the problem was not box after box of dead batteries, it was a problem with the battery slot in the camera.

So, these poor children have two adults in charge with, we'll say, questionable abilities. You know, I wondered about that when we left the hospital with Teena in the first place. They just......let us leave. With a baby. Who was quiet for the most part when we were in the lovely hospital birthing wing. Probably because of all the professionals around. Same child started crying when we pulled out of the parking lot to leave. She kept it up on and off for a few hours. That turned into days and months, now years. Clearly she knew something the adults in charge had overlooked. Or maybe they just pretended not to notice.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Last night Genea was sitting on the couch with me. I was reading Beyond Consequences and she was drawing on a magnet board. Her ability to draw is an area that continues to be delayed. She has caught up so much in so many other ways, but her artwork is similar to a child maybe 2-3 years old.

She asks me to suggest things for her to draw. I usually start with, draw yourself, or our house, or our family, and she always has said no to these. For the first time, she agreed to draw herself. She drew a face with a smile on it, then added something blobulous to the bottom. She said, this is me as a baby, I was so happy! Wow, I said, you sure were, where were you? Ukraine, she answered, right after I came out of my Mama's tummy.


You might think I should have been expecting that. I think I should have been expecting that.
I wasn't.

Genea took about 6 weeks to start calling us by Momma and Daddy. During that time she called us by our names and referred to her first family with the titles of Mom and Dad. In the interest of being honest, I will admit that got irritating after a few weeks. The Husband in particular was annoyed by it, especially when she would refer to her Mom and Dad in glowing terms and tell us what we knew to be outright lies about how much fun they had together. Here we were taking the brunt of this child's rage and grief and fear, and she is speaking to us as if we were the neighbors.

When she began calling us Momma and Daddy, it was a rapid turnaround, and was quickly permanent. We have several picture albums of the first family and she periodically looks through them, although it was about 6 months before she even asked to see them. We were, and are, open about her first family in a matter of fact way, and we discuss them without hesitation and as honestly as is realistic for her. But we are her parents now.

It wasn't until early this summer that I realized Genea was missing a big chunk of her history. I was filling out the 12,000 forms for school registration, and I was debating how much to share with the school- what a minefield that is! Place of birth, first language, etc. Genea knows where she was born, knows she lived in an orphanage, and knows she was brought to this country by her first family. She has no concept of her birth mother.

Genea is 5 years old, and at the time was going to start summer school. It could happen that moms and babies come up and if she thinks about it at all, she is going to think her biological parents are the first family. I don't want her to think that, because when she figures out it is wrong, then what else is wrong? And I don't want her to have no idea and realize the details herself when she is 14 and think we were hiding it from her.

I put a huge amount of thought into this. We will have to slowly work the idea of a whole other person whose tummy she grew in and who is her biological, birth mother. We will have to word things that she is not to blame, she is not bad, her birth mother is not bad. She lives with us because we adopted her and we love her and so on. So I did what many people of my generation do, I consulted her therapist and then hit the bookshelves. It took a long time to find a good book that was gender and ethnicity neutral. One that a child could understand, and was not too graphic. Not too abstract or imaginary. When I finally settled on a book and read it to her, nothing. Read it again, nothing. My other daughter was fascinated by this book and I read it to her. Teena wanted to know did she grow in my tummy? Yes, I told her sneaking several looks at Genea, that's right. Still nothing. I asked Genea a few questions to be sure she was understanding the story in the book. I pointed out the pictures to make sure she was getting the whole idea. Still, nothing.

I have been prepared and ready for Genea to figure out there is a whole other person in this world who gave her life. I had my defenses up and coated with barbed wire waiting. My brain was spring- loaded and ready to block it all out. I think no matter how prepared, and how "ok" you are with the concepts, the day your child refers to someone else as their mother, it is just going to get you. Well anyway, it got me! It didn't ruin my day, or make me crazy. It wasn't a shock though it was a bit of a surprise. Just, zzzzttt, got me with a quick one.

And that was it. The moment came and went and it was over. Genea started practising letters. She would not draw any more people. She drew shapes instead.

Saturday, October 11, 2008 want to do what?

My door bell rang this morning.

This rarely happens. I know I have written in the past that I have no aspirations toward being Super Mom. Adequate Mom, sure. Super Mom, not so much. Super Moms are not only able to keep their homes clean, they are sanitary as well. So when their door bell rings with Ed McMahon holding a check, they can open the door wide and let everyone in. I discourage visitors. My standards of housekeeping are low. I will not go into specific detail on this, but if I am going to get a guest I need about a weeks notice. The day Ed comes, I will step out into my overgrown yard to accept my check then suggest we all go to Chuck E. Cheese to celebrate.
I run to the door and I can see there are 2 kids on my overgrown porch, a boy and a girl. I open the door (and note that the stupid screen door has come off the track again and is flapping off in the corner) and I am greeted by these two children about 9,10 years old. The boy says, um, hi, um, I am Abbie's brother (a classmate of Genea) and um I wanted to ask if we could go in your yard and look for snakes.

Hmm. Well. I can't think of a reason not to.....hmmm. OH!
"Did your mom say this was ok?" I asked responsibly (did everyone catch that moment of Real Mom behavior on my part?).
Yeah, they both assert confidently, yeah it's ok with her.
Hmmm. Side thought here, this is the mom who met her kid at the bus stop with a beer....couldn't set the beer down long enough to go a half block to the bus stop.... yet this is Wisconsin and bringing your drink to the bus stop is oddly acceptable.....
"Ok then, have fun"

I go back into my house and tell The Husband that there are 2 kids snake hunting in our yard. Teena is immediately fired up. I WANNA HUNT SNAKESSSSSS TOOOOOOOOOOO. Hmm, let me think sweetie....NO. We watch them for a few minutes, and they genuinely are looking in the bushes and poking into trees and overgrown who-knows-what. Boring. It occurs to me that they are doing us a favor really. If there is a snake somewhere in our yard, well I will be happy to let them have it and take it away. Huh. This could work out really well! I am pleased!
Another thought wafts through my brain sort of in the back cob-webby area. Super Mom would think this is not a great idea. Super Mom would make sure they had on snake hunting boots and one of those stick things the Crocodile Hunter used, and would have an ambulance on stand by if something were to bite. Super Mom would have sent out The Husband to help and would be prepping a snack. Or maybe she would have gone to the snake store and bought them one. Or maybe she would have just said NO
SNAKE HUNTING and put up a sign in the yard to discourage other young zoology wannabees. Uh oh.

No worries. After about 20 minutes the door bell rings again. This time The Husband goes to answer. I can hear the boys voice.
We couldn't find any snakes. Do you know where they are?
No, The Husband says, No, I am sorry I don't.
Um, the boys says, does your wife know where the snakes are?
The Husband says, no, she doesn't (with a snort, knowing as he does that if I had any idea there could be a snake we would have moved back to the city where there are bricks and concrete and people are meant to live).
Sad and dejected, the children leave and go home.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Few Random Thoughts

#1. The next time I hear the word "surreal" used in a sentence I am going to explode. Now, some may say I spend far too much time watching talk shows and reading People magazine, since folks in Hollywood seem to be the worst offenders. To them I say: Judge NOT

#2. I have decided to market my financial planning strategy. Now that the $700 billion "bailout" is not enough and the economy is tanking anyway, my method is proving even more sound. We have almost no money in a 401 or 506 or LNMOP plan, no indeed.
OUR money IS secure in a bunch of crap and junk from the Dollar Tree.
And it retains its value!!!!!
Now, what should I call it, hmmmm.

#3. I have decided to change the criteria I am using to determine who will get my vote next month. The person who uses the word "fundamentally" least often will be my winner. All variations of this word are included in the contest.

Little Fights

The girls have little fights all day long. I think it is mostly normal. They are not slap you upside the head fights, they are more like quick verbal spats. One of their favorite things to fight about is how to say things. So the disagreement might go like this:
Teena singing: The ippy ippy spider....
Genea: you're saying it wrong, its the hissy hissy spider
T: NO IT NOT the ippy ippy spider.....
G: YOURE WRONG the hissy hissy spider
Me: (xanax take me awaaaaaaayyyyy)

Yesterday while briefly shopping at the mall, Teena and I had a few little tiffs. I am convinced I was right on this one.
T: I want to smell that shirt can I?
M: no
T: Can I please? I want to smell that shirt! Mommy? MOMMY? Please please Mommy? MOMMY!!!
M: (oh good crap) FINE, smell one shirt
T: (sniff)ewwwwwwwwwwww I want to smell another one
T: (doing the stamping dance) I WANT TO SMELL THAAAAAT
M: NO it looks weird to go around smelling all the things in the store!
T: NO it not weird I want to smell it
Who was right?

Tuesday, October 7, 2008


There are people who know me, who think that when we decided to adopt Genea it was so Teena would not be an only child. The Husband is a 4th generation only child, and a lot of people think I was determined to be sure Teena would not be the 5th generation. That never was something I thought about actually. We have a lot of friends with kids about the same age and I knew Teena would always have plenty of company regardless.(what's the blue stuff on Teena's lip? probably marker)

When Genea came along, and I became aware that her family at the time wanted to "disrupt" their adoption and find a new family, I thought more about Genea being a kid I could help. We already had a girl and lots of girl things, and after we met her we knew she would fit in. No glamour or romantic sentiments (she made us whole....or, we needed a little miracle lol). Just, she needed a home, and we had one. She needed a lot of help, and love and care, and we thought we could give her that. (I have since read that those are the bad reasons, put it on our list).

When she and Teena first met, they bonded immediately. Honestly one of the things I worried most about was the two girls getting along and having to share toys and a room and parents! Genea was coming in older at 4, and so they would be out of birth order (we were told this also was a bad idea too, so bad there is not even current research on it) .They were both separately well- loved and cared and provided for by extended family and friends (code for spoiled with stuff). Thankfully it turned out they bonded so quickly and easily, it's like they became sisters the day they met. The judge who finalized our adoption even commented, when Teena wanted to hug Genea and Genea wanted no part of it, and Teena kept doing it anyway, he said he wanted the record to reflect they were clearly already acting like sisters.
While Genea and Teena got along reasonably well, Genea would not talk to other kids until she had been around them a bit. And she would certainly not talk to a new adult.

The day I knew it was a done deal was at a McDonald's play-land probably 6 or 7 months in. It was busy with many, many families. Kids running, screaming, parents glued to their Blackberry's trying to tune them all out. The play land was the kind with the elevated tunnels and slides. First of all, for Genea to even be in the tunnels, MAJOR deal for her. It took awhile for her to even try to try new things without freezing, or disassociating, or screaming a raging fit. You could see she wanted so badly to jump right in but would be too scared. Teena is alarmingly fearless (impulsive!)and so they balanced well in that Teena would just take off, and Genea would follow before she had a chance to remember she was afraid!

Anyway, Teena was on the ground and having trouble with her shoe lace. Someone Else's kind mother bent down to help her out, when Genea spots this little interaction. She FLINGS herself through the tunnels, hurling herself around the corners, and smashing in to the other children. You can hear her little shoes pounding on the plastic as she tries to run and squat through to the slides where she propels herself out and onto the ground for her big confrontation "THAAAAAAAATTTTSSS MYYYYYYYY SSSIIIISSSTTTEEEEER"!

She who would go in to the 'no one home zone' if you tried to get her to say BOO in exchange for a bag full of candy, protecting her little sister. I don't know and to this day I still don't know, what she thought was going to happen. She just knew her little sister was in danger and all of her fears were not going to get in the way of saving her Teena.

The girls are at a stage where it is greatly exciting for them to tattle on each other. Genea especially loves to rat out Teena while simultaneously listing her own personal strengths.

"Mommy Teena is drawing on the wall and I don't draw on the wall and I didn't drop the box of crayons and when I want to draw I ask first right cuz that's what I am supposed to do is ask first and Teena is using the green crayons and I don't even like green and now she is putting it in her mouth and I put all our clothes in the laundry and I don't eat crayons because that is YUCKY".

Someday, they will realize that if they band together against us, when they turn on us as teenagers, they WILL win.

Sunday, October 5, 2008


Writing the post below was like purging the weekend for me. I realize it sounds exceptionally negative and I thought about deleting the post altogether. I decided not to because, well, our weekend did suck. And I felt better writing it out.

The bigger reason I am keeping this post up is because this IS how it is sometimes. Not all the time anymore, but definitely from time to time it goes like this weekend. When I started this blog I wanted to be truthful and this is the truth. I know so many moms who try so desperately to be perfect and have a perfect family, and perfect home that they lose themselves completely and set themselves up for failure. Adoptive moms I think feel this in triplicate. Women think they have to be that way because everyone else is that way. I have no such aspirations. I figure we are doing pretty good if everyone is still alive at the end of the day. Cats included.

Genea has had a stellar few past weeks. Really, so few meltdowns and so little bizarre behavior that I think I let myself hope that it would stick this time. She has been polite and funny and helpful and pleasant. She has been following rules and doing things without being told. Really good! After writing, I sat myself down to list a whole bunch of the good things about both girls and I will post those later this week.

Anyway, I wanted to add this note. I am going to take the stand that this is a brief relapse. Emphasis on the brief.


Last weekend the girls went to my parents house to stay a few days. Lovely as they are, the trip was cut short. They stayed for 2 nights.

Genea is not a child who enjoys change so while she loves her Grandparents, she prefers to just visit and only to visit with her people then leave. The people she owns that is, her parents. This is an incredible testament to her bond with us, a bond we had no idea about ahead of time. We had all our little visits with SUCH a different child than the one who woke up from her nap the day she moved in, that we had no way to even guess as to whether a bond would occur or would we be counting our knives every night.

So to stay a couple of overnights is a big deal. Even though her sister goes with her, I think for the rest of her life she may never feel 100% sure that her people will always be where she can find them. We know this is big for her. We also know that she needs to do it, and we need her to do it. I make no apologies for pushing her and while I may feel like I am circling the drain regularly without any scrubbing bubbles, I can point confidently to the results.

How does that saying go? Payback is a bitch? No, I can clear that up, Payback is a freaked out 5 year old. Payback is the 5 year old holding so much in for so many days that when she blows....well you really don't want to be here. We held a refresher course in my house this weekend, of every obnoxious, annoying, drive your last nerve through a paper shredder, behavior that Genea could come up with. To be clear, I am not blaming. This child really has survived so much and I know very well that her behavior is a manifestation of deeply held anxiety, stress, and helpless-ness brought on by fear of separation and abandonment. However.

She started on Saturday morning by waking up everyone in the house 30 minutes before she is allowed to get up. She lied and said she was sick. She opened the patio door so her sister could go outside at 7 am in her jammies. She said she had not eaten when she had. She walks back and forth taking things off of shelves and putting them back off kilter so she can breeze by later and knock them over. She would not sit down. She would rock, squat, stand, balance on the chair whatever, but could not stay in one place. She walked directly in front of the TV and started singing. She was then offended when she was asked to stop singing. She waits for her sister to move towards something, then runs in front of her and snatches it. She pushes everyone out of the way so she can be first. She antagonizes the cat. She follows us so directly up our butts that we literally and often, trip over her. She instigates and antagonizes. She cheats, she takes and grabs. She demands. When she is not demanding she is whining. She wants she wants she wants. Whatever it is she knows she can't have then she has a fit over it. Throws her food wrapper on the floor. Lies she didn't do it. Pee's on herself, sits on the couch and sits on the carpet. Wants to go outside. Wants to come in. Wants her blue dress which she knows is dirty. Knocks over a box of toys. Can't find all the pieces. Bosses and tattles. Demands attention. Doesn't want attention. Wants to know if I want coffee when I am making the damn coffee. Wants to know if I like coffee. What? Pretends she did not hear my answer. Now wants to know why. This is how we started the day. On and on.

And all this is, is payback. Payback for my delightful weekend that is now long over. My weekend, that like the other weekends we have had child-free recently, was spent at home. When I know I have a free weekend coming up I plan wildly. Going to the mall. Going out to dinner where there are no talking animals. Going out for drinks. Stop at Starbucks every time I go out. Talking to adults. Crazy, wild stuff. Instead, I do none of this. I rest. I drug myself so that stupid biological where -is- my-kid shit doesn't wake me up and I can sleep through the night. 4 hours or more consecutively. Now, I get my payback.

Genea is a bright child. For a long time I worried that her emotional problems would get in the way of her learning and using information, sort of weighing down the daily allotment of brain power with a bunch of crap. Thankfully this is not the case. She has such a skill of knowing how to crawl directly under your skin for maximum irritation, the CIA would be impressed.

Payback is a 5 year old.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Executive Function

Have you heard of this? This is the term used to describe neat freaks vs. slobs. People can be high in executive function or have impaired executive function. It is the ability to make lists and follow them. Make an appointment and keep it and be on time. Never running out of toilet paper. Or clean underwear. Cutting coupons and remembering to bring them to the store and remembering to get them out at the checkout line.
In my brain, where this ability should be is a shriveled up little pea. In The Husbands brain, there is a gaping hole and in Teena's brain, nothing has developed at all.
In Genea's brain, the executive function portion is the size of a muscular fist. I am afraid she is going to have to save us all.
She started school a month ago and she has been mostly on time. We have always made it to the bus stop to meet her on time, if a few times we had to run, well we did make it. We only forgot her meds twice.
She has taken exactly one book out of the library. AAaaaaaaaand, well, we got our first "special note" from the school. The book was overdue. Damn!
The Husband and I sat Genea down for a little talk. Genea, we said, you may have noticed we don't take out books from the library. That's because we are not able to handle the responsibility. Unfortunately being a part of this family means you are not going to be able to rely on us to remember your books, you will have to remember yourself. Our bills are late, we always run out of milk, and the trunks of our cars are scheduled with an archaeologist. Just don't ask us what day because we forgot already. And we lost the paper with the note. To be brutally honest Genea, you are going to have to carry the memory for all of us. It will be up to you to tell us when things are due. It will be up to you to make sure it is done right and all the rules have been followed. You will probably have to organize the clean up as well. Yesterday when Momma was painting your toenails and you suggested we should put down a paper towel- remember that? What we are trying to tell you is that for the rest of our lives together (forever family!) you are going to have to get the paper towel.
We love you. Now go find your jammies and put them on.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Uh Bidder-ba-Dahs (or, Shame in the Air)

Teena- I want Uh Bidder-ba Dahs
Me- Huh?
I want Uh Bidder-ba-Dahs
Me- one more time honey
Me- uh bidder ba dahs?
Teena very happy - YESZ!!!!Yesh, Momma you just said it!!
Me- ooHHHH, The Wizard of Oz!

I do not have any even vague clue how this internet thing works. It was amazing enough when there were just those old apple machines that could draw and spell. But now, sheesh! The idea that pushing the right combo of keys can bring an image into my home, man that is wild. Chat rooms, talking to actual people and they can answer you, then wireless. Now you don't even need a plug hole for all this? Crazy! All this is now flying around in the wind waiting to land somewhere?

So I think of internet people as People of the Air. Not non-people, but not real people either. Not People of the Floor, which is anyone that can reach out and pinch me (if they want a Beat Down that is- does that sound cool and tough?). This picture coming up is something I will only share with People of the Air.

These are, *ahem*, my boxes.

The worst part is that this is from the past week. Not say, a months worth. If I were to trip over a Polly Pocket or a stray hair clip and fall and bleed, what would come out would be weird little chunks of beige paste. Which is the stuff they coat with a homeless man's used brown paper bag and call McNuggets. What on earth is a presumably only half crazy adult doing with all those happy meals?
Uh, I may be a bit obsessed.
They released these Madame Alexander Wizard of Oz Dolls last year and I gorged myself on chicken nuggets to get them all. And yes, I know I could just buy them but, well, that would be cheating. Don't ask the logic, just work with me here.
They have been re-released now all just slightly different, and with 4 more! And I MUST HAVE THEM ALL.
Although I must also comment that this round of dolls is really cheap. Plastic chemicals in the baby formula cheap. The hair is uneven on all the dolls and they are dressed in little bits of thin felt, just cheap.
Anyway, these are just my dolls. The girls have been pestering my for over a year to play with my dolls. I have them where they cannot get to them without committing a series of crimes that they are too noisy to get away with. Now that they are out again, all 3 of us have had to eat enough happy meals to acquire 3 sets of 12 dolls. I am highly math impaired but I think that comes to roughly 9000 nugget-pastes wrapped in paper.


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