Sunday, November 30, 2008

And.....they're back

If there is one big thing that is obvious, one thing that defines the differences in my two girls, one thing that essentially proves the value of nurtured brain development in children, it is how they came home today.
The girls have been at my mothers house for the past few days. They were not kicked out early this time! The Husband went to pick them up and bring them home. Once inside the door, Genea began hollering- MAMA WHERE ARE YOU, I'm home!!! She barreled up the stairs, throwing off coat and shoes and whipping around the corner walking so fast only her toes were touching the ground to hug me and tell me how she missed me. The smile on her face was as big as I have ever seen it and she glowed with happiness. She stayed that way for about a half hour, just happy, so happy to be home.
Teena slowly walked up the stairs, more worried about her cup of ice than anything else. She approached Genea and I, and told me she had a cup of ice that she wanted to eat. I told her to go have it at the table and she did. No hug or nothin'!!!
Teena is a child who has never gone without attention. She has always been secure, and has always been safe. She has never had to wait for a need to be resolved. She has never cried hungry and not been fed. She has never had a wet diaper that she had to sit in for more than 15 minutes. She never had to fight for someone to hug her. She has never been cold without a coat or mittens or hat, or big warm jammies and a fluffy blanket. And when she came back home, her biggest priority was eating her ice.
A side note, my mom baked cookies with the girls. When she told them what they would be doing, Genea was confused, and Teena told her we go to the store and cookies come out of a bag.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

20/20 episode on Adoption

Last night, a TV news program, 20/20, did an episode on international adoptions that have "difficult" results when the child turns out to have mental- emotional- behavioral disabilities. Here is the link and you can watch most of the program on their website.
I don't even know where to start.
The main focus of the program was the Mulligan family, who adopted 2 girls from Russia, then went back rather quickly and adopted a boy. They showed pictures of the parents at their wedding and they were quite striking as a pair, very attractive. 3 or 4 years later, they are both a wreck. Overweight, visibly saddened and with rigid expressionless faces, they seem to realize that what they have done out of altruism has taken them to a path few would choose, and it is permanent. The oldest girl and little boy were diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)as well as other mental health issues. One of the 3 children does well.
My problem with this show, is that they aired footage from the oldest girls first week home. They showed her pacing around the house, crying and sort of wailing, and at one point had to pull her out from under the bed. They showed another incident of her sitting on their couch crying as they filmed her during a 54 minute meltdown. THAT IS NOT A DISORDER THAT IS A CHILD WHO IS SCARED AND OVERWHELMED.
Then they showed the little boy having a tantrum of sorts. Having had immediate problems with their first adoption, I have no idea why they would go back for another child. And I really have no idea who would have let them do this. Anyway, he was about 4 or 5 and they showed him crying and sitting at a wall and giving the dad dirty looks while the dad was filming him. The boy turned to face the wall, and the dad insisted he turn around and started to count to 3 but the boy turned around on 2. Again, this is the action of a child who is probably angry, probably scared, and probably overwhelmed. This does not a disorder make. That is my most significant problem with this show that was otherwise ok. They made it look like parents who could not handle a child crying and not listening constituted an attachment disorder. Those kids may very well have had a long list of problems but that is not what they showed, those behaviors are not, repeat NOT what drives parents to disrupt an adoption.

When Genea first got here, she ran away from me in the store. She would not hold my hand, I had to drag her to the car and if she got free she would try to run through a parking lot in traffic. She pee'd on herself, on the couch, on the floor, wherever. She picked the paint off the wall and I suspect she ate it because I never found the chips. She took off her seat belt in the car, and took off Teena's too. I had to buy a special mirror for my car to be able to watch her in the back seat. At home, I walked away for 1 second and caught her hitting Teena. Just hitting her. No tantrum, no reason, just hitting her. Every great parenting idea I had was quickly stomped over and useless. Say 5 positives for every 1 negative. Tell the child what TO do, not what NOT to do. Ignore the bad praise the good. Please.
She woke up 2-3 times a night yelling NO NO NO over and over. Woke up in the morning around 5 am give or take an hour and would wail on and on, crying and screaming to make sure everyone was up with her. She looked like a kid with the most raging ADHD ever, she moved constantly. She would asked to be picked up and within 3 seconds would be squirming and kicking at me to be put down. She would reach to hug me and went rigid when I hugged back. She body slammed into me all day. She crawled on me or jumped on me or lurched at me with elbows and knees digging and jabbing painfully and had no response when I tried to tell her that hurt. .She did not stop talking and asking nonsense questions. Is that my lunch? Are you making my lunch? Are you using bread for my lunch? What are you putting on my bread? You are using a knife right? You need a plate right? Is that my lunch? Are you going to make me my lunch? Are you getting out the bread now? I want 2 pieces of bread, make sure I get 2 pieces ok? This went on with everything, not just food. If I did not give the answer she wanted, meltdown. And she binged on liquids. She would drink water and keep chugging it and chugging it until she started to choke and turn red and she would keep chugging it until she could not breathe anymore and was gagging and spraying water everywhere and still kept trying to get more. She stole things and broke them and hid them. She lied, and would tell a lie with the truth in front of her. It was maddening to ask her what is the truth. And I would spend 20 minutes assuring her I was not angry, I just need the truth. And you are not in trouble, nothing bad is going to happen, I promise. Just please tell me what really happened. And without flinching, without breaking eye contact, without a change in expression, she was adamant that she was telling the truth. She wasn't. I would catch her trying to hurt our cats, in minor ways. Her meltdowns went on every day. 5 or 10 or more, for 6 months there was not a day free of meltdowns. If she did not get what she wanted, meltdown. And she would ask for things she knew she could not have, like a glass vase, and when I said no, the wailing began. Meltdown. And there was no middle ground. She went from 0 to 120 in a second. There was no warning, she would perceive a trigger and then BAM you have a full blown meltdown. And I almost forget the dissociative episodes. Every once in a while, she left the building completely. Her eyes were open and she was sitting up but she had no reaction at all. I could pick up her arm and it would flop back down. Conscious, but unresponsive. And let me say this, Genea's behavior, as challenging as it was- is- can be, is probably moderate in severity. She probably meets the criteria for RAD. For some kids, it absolutely gets worse. She will not approach strangers and sit on strangers laps. She will not walk away with anybody who smiles at her. She does not poop on herself or smear it on walls. She does not use weapons. She has never actually used threats towards us. She is typically not aggressive to people or things. She doesn't hoard food or hide it. And I don't know if Genea has RAD, or Bipolar or Oppositional Defiant Disorder, or Conduct Disorder, or what. Doctors tell me, there is no precedence for her. Her physiology and neurology are so scrambled that there isn't a name for it. There is no one good answer for her. And that is why, while I think the concept of the program on 20/20 was great, it did not even touch the tip of the iceberg. If they wanted to do a show on this issue, they should have gone balls to the wall and done it right. The children that were shown, those are not the children that get disrupted from their adoptive families and that behavior is not what destroys their families. There IS help, and there IS hope. Sometimes it works. Not always. And the disorder is not limited to international adoptions either, in any adoption preceded by abuse and/ or neglect and the child is going to an unknown family, there WILL be challenges.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Congratulations to

I am sure most people have heard of Heather B Armstrong and her website . She is a blogger who has turned her blog into a full time job for herself and her husband. Her blog was the catalyst for this blog, setting the bar as high as it could go.
Heathers blog is hysterically funny, tears rolling down my face funny. She has a daughter who is the focus of many of her entries and she has the same view as I do in a lot of ways which is this parenting thing is great but can also be strange and crazy and sometimes even sucks.
So anyway, she is pregnant and Leta will be getting a sibling. CONGRATULATIONS to the Dooce family!
I wonder what names they are considering? I have 2 ideas, here they are:

Monday, November 24, 2008

Really Awful? Or Really Brilliant?

Some days, you just don't know what you are going to get.
Genea pees on herself. She does it deliberately. The way I handle it, is you get one free. Anyone can have the occasional little squirt surprise them. After that, you are on your own. I hand her the cleaning supplies, and clean pants, and she is responsible for all the work she created. After a few more "accidents", I have her clean the toilet. I tell her, she obviously needs to spend her time closer to the potty because she is not making it there in time. So, while you are in there you may as well clean something. This has 2 effects. First of course, we all get a reasonably clean potty. I only let her use non-toxic cleansers, so it is only that clean. The other effect is it generally works to stop her in her tracks so to speak. Corks her back up. Stops the leak.
She has done this since she came to us. Peeing that is. It goes in cycles and if left unchecked a cycle can be 4-6 weeks long. If I use the natural consequences it will stop after about one week. The thing is all of this becomes quite the scene. There is much crying and howling and wailing. Teena cannot stand that she is not part of the action. So when Genea goes to school, once in awhile Teena will ask to clean the toilet. I try to tell her no, you are too little, you don't have to cuz you use the potty, stuff like that. But then she gets upset. And I am thinking, what the hell. Why would I try to stop someone who wants to clean the toilet. Why.
I think I feel a little guilty. I don't want to make my little girls do a nasty chore like that! But on the other hand, if it is good enough for her sister to do, as a consequence, why shouldn't she? And for crying-out-loud, she actually WANTS to do it!
I believe that the idea of a care-free childhood is doing no favors for any kid. I hear people say, our children should not have responsibilities, our children should be children! That's their job, to be kids! And I feel that pull. I want my kids to be happy and content. But to think that we should be raising our children to believe the sun rises and sets with their mere existence, I cannot get there. That they should get an award just for showing up, I think takes away the significance of all awards. I firmly believe that whole concept is resulting in a group of people coming in to adulthood with no life skills whatsoever. They learned about life skills in school. They have never had to use them. So who does that help and who does it hurt?
Back to my original point, is this unintended result really awful? Or is it really effing brilliant that now I have a child who asks to clean the toilet? Somewhere in the middle, that is what I hope for.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


I don't like turkey.
There. I said it. And now the whole world can see this bit of scandalous information about me. I am sure there is good turkey in this world, it has just never been on a plate in front of me. There is this holiday, Thanksgiving, coming up which for some reason demands a turkey be cooked and eaten by all Americans. Something about pilgrims, I don't really remember the details. Anyway, I have spent the past 15 years or so advocating against the bird with virtually no success whatsoever. I am not accustomed to putting out that much of an effort with no return!
Before I was married with children, I usually managed to skip out on this particular holiday. The Husband and I would eat pizza and watch movies. I got that idea from an Indian friend in high school (India Indian, not Native American). I have no problem with the concept behind the holiday, of sharing and gratitude, I just would like to share and be grateful for a pizza or some kind of food I do like.
Throughout my childhood, as a family we would go to my Aunt's house for dinner. Nothing stands out there, I just remember everyone making a HUGE fuss about the great turkey and thinking, what the hell is wrong with these people. The next day we always went to my grandparents for leftovers. Again, everyone would say oooh ahhh what a great turkey only this time I knew some of those people were lying because I asked them in the car on the way home. Not that I am naming any names. My Grandma is of the generation that believes a few things about food that cannot be changed or argued. #1: all food can be boiled #2: all food should be cooked until all consistency is gone and the texture is pureed #3: all food and all parts of food shall be eaten.
Nowadays, my mother has Thanksgiving. Here is where it gets tricky. I technically could have a holiday at my house. Rarely is this ever mentioned in my hearing and I pretend I do not think those thoughts. So, I should not complain unless I am willing to step up and do something about it. However, no one wants to come to my house. Sure, once in awhile it might come up, but no one follows through. I don't know if it is because they are afraid of what I might cook, or if they are afraid a cat might get them or what the deal is, but every time it gets to where it looks like a holiday celebration might convene at my house, nervous looks start passing around the room and then somebody remembers to mention the dogs. Oh! Phew! We can't go to her house, we cannot take the dogs because of her cats! Hmmm, and this is just occurring to me as I write, maybe they are afraid I will forget the whole thing and everyone will show up at my house and I will be like oh hi, what are you doing here? Or cancel it at the last minute because I just don't like the holidays that much anyway, so lets just drop the whole thing. Or pretend none of us are home. Hmm.
So, over the past 10 or so years, my mother and I have had the same conversation all year long. She and I discuss all year how we don't like turkey that much. Eh, it's ok if that is all you have, but now ham, that is good stuff. I spend the year reminding her of these facts and yet, every year come November she suddenly forgets her own mind and goes and buys a bird. Last year it was an Amish turkey. Why a religious group would have better turkey I do not know. Year before my uncle brought a fryer and fried the turkey. To the bone. Yup, lost most of it in the cooker thingy while shooting arrows and drinking martini's out in the yard with my Dad. Year before that, we were going to have a turkey and a ham, but that fell through when it turned out my mom had lied about the ham. Year before that was the year my cousin had the holiday in Chicago. He made 4 different turkeys, marinated and injected and whatever, until he settled on the one he put out which, you guessed it, was dry and blehch. However that particular Thanksgiving was memorable in that he had moved his new girlfriend into his house and his ex-wife had moved in to the house next door, so he pushed all the table right up next to the windows and I was freaked out thinking a bullet was going to come through at any moment. That, and the 8 courses of alcohol for 7 courses of food specially concocted to blend and accent each dish but by then obviously, who cared.
So, it's that time of year again. My mom insists this year she is having a good turkey. It is a smaller bird so it will cook better and it is smoked so it will have flavor. She says. Whatever. My sisters in-laws have started coming the past few years, and they bring a lamb (My Big Fat Greek Wedding was based on their part of Chicago) and a few of their own dishes that they all eat. It is annoying that all the good restaurants are closed on Thanksgiving, like Wendy's and Burger King and Pizza Hut. Anyway, the good news, the really really good news, is that the girls will be staying with my parents for a few days while The Husband and I rest in our seperate comas. Fabulous!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Parent- Teacher Conferences

This time, I have nothing funny to say (or at least sarcastic cracks that are funny to me). We had Genea's teacher conference yesterday, her first kindergarten report card came out. The day before the teacher sent a nice letter out to all parents saying basically, please don't get uptight (her word!) about your childs progress, and do not compare your child to others. All children walk and talk read and do math at different stages, accept your child as is. Ok, got it.
So the report rates with a 1-2-3-4 code, 4 being exceeds end of year expectations, and a 1 is minimal does not meet end of year expectation. Genea, my little failure to thrive, cortisol deficient, anaclymic depression, dissociative and autism spectrum disordered child, scored 2's and 3's on her entire report. So, she either knows what she is supposed to know in the category, or she knows more than the category. She is average. !!!! And, to put icing on my happy cake here, she got a 4 rating in: listening attentively, cleans up work, and courtesy to others!!!!! ADVANCED!!!!! A GOOD ROLE MODEL!!!!
Ahhhhh. It makes me happy just to look at the report paper.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Send Your Good Wishes....

To Taiwan!
A blog mate and Manic Mommie ( )member (Paula)is going to court tomorrow for the obligatory termination of parental rights hearing. She has a beautiful little girl as a foster child who she intends to adopt. Things are a little different in Taiwan, but so far as I can understand, she has to bail out the biological mother from prison for the day to go to court and terminate. Then, the judge will decided if Paula can be the adoptive parent, and it is a scary judge. And I would guess if it was me I would be freaking out about now, not the least of my worries being this is all in another language and has to be translated!
So tomorrow is a big day for them. I think it is tomorrow, it is the 19th but with the time changes which I can barely grasp in America, I don't know the other side of the globe. But anyway, really soon! Imminently! So get your good wishes fired up and shoot them out to Taiwan!!!
(note to Paula: please feel free to put your blog link and stuff if you want, I just did not want to do it in case you do not want it out there)Good Luck!! I hope your judge is in a good mood! I was totally intimidated when I had to go for this, just try to relax and KNOW that you are the BEST Mom for this little girl!!!!

Monday, November 17, 2008


We had a burst of snow today, a little 10 minute blizzard just to set us up for the winter. Me, I don't like snow basically because it is associated with cold, which I always am. I have no use for something that only comes around when I am already uncomfortable, to make things worse. Got plenty of things in this house that do that!
Other people are happy about snow. At the Walgreens, the little boy at the register (who looked 9 or 10 years old but had the special key so might have been older) said- all excited- did you see that snow coming down? I said, hmm, when you own your own driveway it is just not as exciting.
Now Teena, somehow she missed the snow blizzard coming down and only noticed it later. She was beside herself. She could not have been more delighted and enthused. There is snow out there!!! Look, see the snow? There is snow!! It is snow Mama, snow!! It's here, it's here! THE SNOW!!!
She has been waiting for the snow since the early summer. Why? Because her sister had a birthday early this summer and their grandma got her a special cake. A Barbie cake. And she got presents. Lots of good presents. And ever since that day, at least 4-5 times a week, Teena has asked, is it my birthday today? No? When is it my birthday?. Since she is only 3, she can neither tell time nor can she read a calendar. She is a toddler with limited experiences and I had to find a way to explain time to her that she would comprehend. Or throw myself off a bridge trying (and trying to get away from the question). So starting when the trees were green and it was hot and steamy, I began my attempts to get across to her that it was gonna' be a really, really looooong time until her birthday came again. After many failed tries, I was able to convey to her that after Genea started school, then after the snow comes, after Santa Claus, then after Daddy's birthday, THEN is Teena's birthday. When the leaves started to turn colors and come down she was happy, how she understood that was a sign of fall and that meant winter was next, I have no idea, but that is what she told me. So she is thrilled, so happy for herself!!! Her birthday is coming, it really is, and today there was another sign it is on it's way (although I think that birthday should really be about me, because I am the one who did all the work and it was horribly painful and took 30 hours, but whatever).

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Pregnant Man

Last night was a dreadful night for TV. Just terrible. I have about 40 channels to pick from and they were all rotten. I put on Supernanny which I usually like but it was so lame we switched to a CSI rerun. Then this show Super-Manny, which has potential as an idea but looked to me like too many men got involved in the production, not good. Then a void. I tried to watch the show Numbers which is deathly boring but on occassion has enough to hold my attention at least briefy. Surprise, last night was even worse than deathly boring, about an old surfer man. So as hard as I tried not to, I watched Barbara Walters (BW) do a show about The Pregnant Man, born a woman who had surgery to remove the breasts but kept the female reproductive organs and recently gave birth. He, Thomas formerly Tracy, is insistent that he is the first man to give birth to a baby. He is married to a woman -who was born that way and stayed a woman- but who was not able to carry a child. So he, Thomas, did in his leftover female parts and is again pregnant.
Um, so?
Yeah, the first public photo's of this hairy faced and armpitted man -looking person with an obvious pregnant belly were startling. From my mind and uterus I wondered, how. How the heck is a baby gonna get cooked up on a grill when it is supposed to be in an oven? The answer was it's not. The man here has all the parts on the inside for a baby, he has just changed the cover.
There has been plenty of publicity about this little family. There have been paid-for articles and photos in magazines. He even wrote a book. And when asked by BW if they chose to make money from this, they said OH NO we just wanted to tell our story before someone else did. Now, come on. Of course you wanted the money. If anyone gave a shit what my pregnant belly looked like, you better believe I'd build a studio in my garage for the photographers to take a picture. So just admit it. Hell yeah if I could make a boatload of cash to give my baby the best of everything I sure as shittin' would.
Ya' know, the initial reports caused some clamoring. And the photos were certainly startling. But once people realized what biology was taking place, I know I sure did not care anymore. Once I understood that all the female parts were in there cooking this baby, so what. Now the parents are complaining they get hateful phone calls and letters. Um, get a new number. Move. And then keep yourself out of People magazine and tell BW no next time. Cuz you had to know that would happen. If you have enough brains to figure out how to get yourself pregnant by ordering yourself some sperm off the Internet and defrosting it, then plopping it in with the female parts of your man-looking body cover, you HAVE to be smart enough to realize some people are going to freak out. And some would not care.
It looks to me like they are trying to get people to care, and they are trying too hard. I guess I can understand that some people can get hooked on publicity. Some folks want "their money for nuthin' and their chics for free" as the song goes. But I think, in MY opinion, that it is just like it is for all the birth-giving people everywhere, once you have a baby it is not just about you anymore.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Small but Huge victory

I know this sounds like a small thing, but take my word for it, for Genea, this has been climbing Mount Everest without shoes. Today, she started to cry, and when I pointed out that it sounded like she needed to let some crying out, she got up and walked into her room and shut the door and cried. And when she was done, she came back out and took up wherever we left off.


I have blogged about this before, but the short version is that this child has the capacity to let out one of the most brain crushing ear begging heart twisting cries that I have ever heard. It is impossible to fully describe what this sounds like. If you imagine 100 hands dragging 500 fingernails down chalkboards next to a microphone in a box full of 300 hungry kittens, for hours and hours without letting up, you have an idea. It is different from a frustrated kid cry or a tantrum cry, it is a cry without reason that feeds off of itself and rarely does it end with intervention. Most attempts at any kind of help make it worse, Genea herself has to beat it back.

Early on, I was told, and had learned from reading that we should never leave our adopted child alone as a consequence. If she was having a meltdown, or if she needed a time out, it should be in the room with us and she should always be able to see us. This makes absolute perfect sense. Of course you never would want to isolate a child you are trying to attach to! Common sense! All the books said so! But it is obvious anyway!

Lawdhy, I tell you, it became quickly obvious that none of my fancy books had ears. It also became unpleasantly obvious that if this child was going to make that sound on a regular basis she was going to be able to hold our family hostage with it. You couldn't talk, or hear or do anything else. You could hear it in the driveway it was so loud. We, and especially I, tried to sit with her in a time out. Tried to put her where she could see us. Tried all of the above. Holy hell there was no way this was going to work out and this is serious, there was no way this was going to work out. So the past year and a half have been dedicated to managing that unholy sound by a series of steps and chances and choices that end in Genea being sent to her room to shut the door until she is done. All along we have told her if she feels this coming on, don't instigate or pick a fight, don't break a rule and ask us if we saw you, if you feel you need to cry (and she rarely knows why, this is much different from a regular cry) just go to your room, let it out behind the door and then you are done.

Today, she did it.

I find myself hesitent to post this. I don't want people to think that I just let this poor kid cry and sob from sadness. That is not what this cry is. It is not the kind of thing you can hug or convince things are ok. It is like its own entity. It comes for no apparent reason, and leaves the same way. No external efforts have helped, she has to handle it herself. Mostly she instigates or picks a fight to have a reason to hang the cry on, then we are stuck with it.
But not today!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Kid-isms and other incidentals

Some things still surprise me about Genea. We went clothes shopping for her over the weekend. She now wears a kid size Small. A year ago, last June when she moved in, she was wearing a 2T. She and Teena wore the same clothes all that summer! (I like to mention that as often as possible- helps my lagging confidence which was run through a paper shredder this weekend). Anyway, we were in the back of the store looking at pants and I told her we are going to have to try some of these on because the sizes were all goofy. She looked up at me, very serious, she had been trying to think up the best way to tell me this. She takes a deep breath, fastens her big brown eyes onto mine and says, "Mama, I don't want to change my clothes here". I tried not to laugh, I really did try. But I had to. Then, I explained to her that I had no intention of stripping her down out in the jeans aisle of Steve and Barry's, and I let her in on the whole dressing room concept. OH. OKAY Mama, anxiety visibly leaving. Oh!
I never met a kid so excited to try on clothes before either. Cute!

Teena has a few words that she thinks are the same. For one, she told me when we were eating, that she was going to need a wife to eat her food. HUH? was my articulate response. A WIFE Mama, you know, a WIFE to cut this. Oh. LMAO. A knife.

The cats have started to actually hang around the same room as the kids. One of the funniest stupid new mom things I did was obsess about how I was going to keep the cats out of the babies room. My older sister had installed a screen door on my nephews bedroom. I had read about those caps you can put on a crib but they were pricey. My other sister had some fancy set up. I finally decided to put a hook and eye dealie on the door, and put the crib where we could peek in and see Teena but the cats could not get their big overfed butts in there.

(In the background is part of my Fiesta and Harlequin collection. Sad little dishes had to be put out of reach of unruly, poorly behaved children.)

Right. No way was one of our cats going to be seen near the Hairless Howler, which is what they called Teena. It would have wrecked their creds forever. Anyway, our 2 current cats are Boo Boo and Bailey. Teena has taken to calling the first one Boobie. Which is hysterically funny to me, because the name genuinely suits him. But we are not going to change his name publicly or anything else weird.

No kidding, I swear this is true. I found Mexican Jumping Beans in a store when we were on our In-law trip. They are awesome but the aforementioned cats are flipping out because they make noise but the cats cannot get to them Yet. Now, if I put curly brown wigs on them, would they not look just like Teena and Genea?

Pictures of the girls in the airport. Notice how Teena's monkey pack is looped around the chair. I bought one for Genea too, hers is a puppy. However, it was only for show because I knew above anything else, I KNEW there was no way Genea would get lost. She actually would hand us the strap when we got up to go. Teena figured out to get off the chair, run the strap down and over to the bottom of the chair leg, and picked up the chair to release the loop and be free.

Sigh. I gave up coffee for nine months for this?

Genea is what I call a black and white kid. For her there is the right way, and everything else is the wrong way, and that is that. No gray, none. This gives her a way of looking at things that I am not used to, an objective, concrete style. In the car I was as usual saying some uh, questionable things, about the drivers in front of us and she asked me if I was talking to them. Yes, I told her, thinking she was going to comment on my um, creative use of language. Instead she said, but Mama, they can't hear you. So sincerely, as if she truly thought I might not know that. Trying to keep me from humiliating myself by talking to strangers who cannot hear me. Ah, kid, you're right. There hasn't been a logical brain in this family for a long time, we obviously needed one.

Sunday, November 9, 2008


The other day I was thinking to myself, Self, you should write a note to the companies that helped you out on your big trip last week. So, that is what I did. I wrote 2 nice little notes complimenting the employee's that were extra nice in guiding us through travel hell. I made sure to provide as many details as I could remember (post-traumatic stress from traveling with 2 small children aside) so that the actual employee's could be identified. American Airlines immediately sent me a heartwarming form email letter. The hotel at least waited about 12 hours, then sent me another warm and squishy form letter. So, F you both. If I had complained, would I have got a real answer? If I had pitched a righteous fit, what would have happened? The airlines have been on the receiving end of a lot of well-deserved disgust lately, and I expected my nice note to at least result in a nice note back. Here is the delightful, appreciative email in its entirety, minus the greeting.

Thank you for sending us such nice sentiments via our Customer Relations online form. Positive feedback means a lot to us as it helps us pinpoint areas of our service where we excel so we can improve our overall service.

Again, thank you. We regard every contact from a customer as a welcome opportunity to listen and learn. It is a privilege to have you as an American Airlines customer.

Know someone special that has left for college? Consider giving them the gift of travel to facilitate their visits back home. Check out our American Airlines gift cards at


Sean Bentel
Customer Relations
American Airlines

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Just lovely, huh.

Friday, November 7, 2008

People Can Be Very Nice

I discovered something on this little trip for all 4 of us to the in-laws home. People are really nice to you when you have kids. Like, they go out of their way to make sure your family is comfortable when traveling. This is a surprise to me! On an everyday basis, people are just regular. The same as if I wasn't toting 2 girls with me. Sure, once in awhile someone will say, oh isn't she cute. But, it's true, the girls are really cute, so that is not what I mean.
On both sides of our flight, the airline people (American Airlines) made every effort to put us all together, even when it meant bumping other people around who would not even find out about until they got to the gate (sorry!). When I was single, or with The Husband and child-free, no one gave a shit about us at all! After crawling onto the airplane and wedging into my pencil sized seat just reeking of cigarettes and alcohol so bad I could not stand the smell of myself, no one ever said hey lady, your eyes are more red than a John McCain state, and you look like you are going into a coma, here, have the whole seat. Or, here Miss, have the pencil-seat closest to the bathroom, so you won't have to run to vomit. On our flight home, our seats were together but oddly set, and right away a man offered to switch so we were lined up. He said, I raised 3 of my own, and that was that.
At our hotel, we had a reservation for a double bed room. I had gone on-line to check for amenities (hair dryer! wireless internet!) and noticed they had what they call a suite, where there is a main area separated from the bed area. The main area had a pull out sofa for the kids, as well as a microwave, fridge and sink. When we got there, it was only a few dollars more, but there weren't any available. The desk worker took an extra 20 minutes, with people in line, to switch rooms around (ahem, sorry) so we could be in the much bigger room. When it was just us adults, no one cared about our room at all. Of course, we didn't care either, being as we would be coming in to sleep or pass-out, take your pick. And using the coffee pot. And presumably the toilet for a variety of reasons. Anyway.
I know when I was child free, I did not care about people who had them. Mostly, they annoyed me shoving their stupid strollers through crowds, into my ankles, with their entitlement attitudes about bringing toddlers into a public restaurant where the regular people could hear them.
So I have to say, this is something that helped us out a LOT. It really made a difference for us, that I would not have guessed before experiencing it. It helped make the difficult (desperate!) task of travelling with small children go much easier. Go figure.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sanctuario de Chimayo (Church with holy dirt)

I got the holy dirt I wanted.
I was a little bit off on the story of its origin. No water involved (blame the FIL for the inaccuracy), it was a crucifix glowing under ground that was found and removed around the year 1810. 3 times it was removed from it's hole and brought to a church. 3 times it disappeared and was found back in the hole. So, folks decided there must be a good reason and built a small chapel on the site.

This is one of the many shrines where people hang their rosaries, light candles and tuck important items into. There are baby bibs hanging among the rosaries.
The dirt is considered holy by followers and can be scooped out from a hole in the floor by the chapel. There are canes and crutches lining the walls from people who no longer need them, and pictures of children laying about on shelves or pinned to the wall without explanation. Despite this being a Catholic Archdiocese owned area, there is no fee for any of it, which gives it greater credibility in my mind (being a recovering Catholic that is). Here is the official website from the church
They do not allow pictures everywhere. This is the hallway to the chapel and private room where the hole is.

I am not a super religious person. One time my sister and I went to attend a wedding rehearsal in a church when we were teenagers, and lightning actually did strike. Well that is what it looked like anyway. Turns out at night cars driving by with their headlights on reflected in a series of windows that from just the right (or wrong!) angle looked like an explosion of light. Freaked us out!
Here are my girls digging out their own dirt from the hole to put in little cups I got from our hotel. Although rumor has it the dirt can be bought, it is also rumored to lose its power that way. I certainly would not trust it!

Genea on the left, Teena on the right. My hope for Genea is that she will gain peace inside so we can leave the pharmaceuticals behind. My hope for Teena is that she will not suffer from well, from anything. I bought them little urns that we can put the dirt in at home and I will hang them over their beds. I have about a half cup extra for each kid in case of emergency, which sounds like a lot but seems to be the amount recommended.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A RAD moment?

I think I am in a situation where I know just enough about a subject to be dangerous with it. Not enough to actually be helpful.
When we got here to visit with the girls grandparents, The Husbands parents, my MIL asked the girls right away if they wanted to spend the night at their house. Both girls said yes right away, Genea said it first. That was a shock to me! I knew the grandparents wanted the girls to stay over (and of course I thought that was a great idea) but I expected them to take a day or so to settle in. Especially Genea. Obviously.
My first thought was, oh shit! What's wrong with this picture? This cannot be good. Genea hates new everything. While I prepped up the girls something crazy for this trip, no one gets in with Genea that quickly. No amount of prep could have made her feel comfortable right away like this.
What if it was a RAD moment? RAD is Reactive Attachment Disorder, and many children who were adopted older or had multiple caregivers, are diagnosed with this. One of the points of this disorder is that the child will go to anyone, can be overly friendly, and will go to strangers as if they were family. The adopted family is shunned, pushed away by the child out of fear of abandonment and takes the brunt of the child's fear and anger. The childs behavior can be outrageous and extremely hard to manage. We have that.
What if all this time, when it looked like Genea had bonded to us all, she really only came to us out of her fear. Maybe she holds on to us because we are the only people available? Too scared of another new house, maybe she has been play acting the togetherness. When she hugs and kisses and says I love you, is it because that is what we expect and not what she is thinking or feeling? She knows her Grandma K from probably 3 separate week long visits over the past year and a half. That is not enough for Genea to go right to her and spend the night! I mean, I am happy she loves her Grandma but this is a strange behavior for Genea.
My only possible explanation is this--- we told the girls we were going to visit their grandparents house. Every turn of the trip they thought they would land on their doorstep. Instead we took a cab to the airport, took 2 separate airplanes, a bus and a van. We kept going places and none of them resulted in their grandparents house appearing. Grandma K met us at our hotel when we arrived. Not her house. And just maybe, Genea had in her head, Grandma K's house, and the events were not completed until she was at the actual house. Like, such concrete thinking that she would only be able to relax when she was at the house standing in the kitchen.
I hope that is it. That she just had to finish in her mind where we were supposed to go. One thing her therapists have said many times is they were always worried that Genea had such an ability to change herself into what was expected of her, or what she perceived other people wanted. A chameleon, is what they said.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Just. Barely. Surviving.

Counting down.....2 more days.

The pressure to represent the neurotypical (or, regular folk) is unbearable.

I got my yarn. The Coach outlet was great. The Liz outlet, terrible. Where all the ugly clothes go to die.

Going to get my dirt tomorrow.

Must. Hang. On.


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