Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Minimize Holiday Meltdowns

I have learned a few things, directly from the source, about managing the holidays with a child who has Reactive Attachment Disorder. Things which have worked to help Genea remain on the planet during times of stress, and I thought I would pass them on. I'm not an expert and I don't even play one on TV.

With holidays and school breaks, kids easily go haywire and stay off track for weeks, even months. Most child-care professionals will verify- kids who are sensitive often destabilize this time of year. Genea actually has six other mental health diagnosis's, and so much of this could apply to any child sensitive to change.

First and foremost, be mindful that your RADish will probably not emerge from the other side of the holidays in good condition. Work from a position that expects problems and makes the effort to contain them before they blow. Anticipate. Think to previous years and plan.

RADishes do not like change!
My RADish (affectionate term for a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder) does not like change. She has every day scheduled to be exactly the same as yesterday. It might seem as if a  holiday like Thanksgiving where my little food hoarder/sneaker can eat all she wants would be a positive. However, the overriding feeling will be anxiety due to change in schedules, locations, people and rules.

But.. but... but... it's Christmas! She's getting presents! How could she flip out about that? That was my question until I realized, it's because of the changes. All change- even good change- is bad.

Anxiety always comes out.

When your child starts up with provoking behavior, constant demands and does bizarre things it may mean she is feeling unsure and unsafe.

So what do you do? You talk it through at every opportunity. I would describe every single thing I could think of to Genea ahead of time. We are going to Grandma's house. We are taking my car. It will be a long car ride and I want you to bring a few books. We will try to drive straight there without stopping. When we get to Grandma's, remember her 2 dogs will bark at you at first. We will not eat right away, it will be about 2 hours after we get there. These are the foods she will have. These are the people who will be there.

But wait! Do Not tell her too far ahead of time because then she will freak out anticipating the day. For Genea, usually the night before a big event is good. Sometimes, the day of. Seriously, rarely more notice than that. Where you have anticipatory anxiety you have your Wango Tango. Simple.

Do what you have to do to keep the chances for failure at a minimum.

My child could not control her urine when stressed. Even though she was 7 and fully capable, unfortunately her continence was always one of the first things to go. We use night time underwear style protective garments at the homes of other people. Nancy Thomas can come get me and bash me over the head with a diaper genie. If Genea doesn't need the back up, she doesn't need it but if she does it will not ruin the whole day, her clothes, or the furniture of others.

Know your child's signs of stress and look for them.

Genea can look perfectly calm, even happy, on the outside. I know she is feeling anxious because her pupils dilate. That may well be the only sign at all that she is internally dysregulated. And where does all that go if left to fester? After all, she looks good on the outside, why not take that for the truth? Here is why. Because the Wango Tango will always come out somehow. Maybe not at Grandma's for Christmas, but the next day? The next 7 unstructured days at home without school? Oh yeah, you will feel it!

Check in with your child often with physical contact.

I am always amazed when I casually hug Genea and I can feel her heart beating out of the chest cavity. Another cue she is feeling stress! I make her sit  next to me and I firmly hold her. Not forcefully but as the adult in charge. We might discreetly work on breathing or counting. I will have her place her hand on her chest to feel her heart beat and work on slowing it down (I call that biofeedback for the poor, lol). We might escape to a bedroom and close the door and do some strong sitting in quiet.  We can do quick brain shifts now that she is getting older and can do some academics. I might ask her to spell "frog" or use the math trick. The answer doesn't matter in the slightest- it will shift the brain out of panic and fear and away from fight/ flight/ freeze. Other ideas- ask her favorite color, favorite tv show, etc. Think of it as driving a car with a manual transmission (good God, why do those things still exist). If the car is in 1st gear going 45 miles an hour you are going to wind up with a messed up car. You have to shift to bring it into safety.

Other things that have helped Genea and I survive:
  • Keep visits to other homes short. Short.  Short as you can.
  • Plate your child's food for her. A buffet style or family style meal is going to overwhelm and freak out your little loved one.
  • Keep as many rules from home as possible. Example- we have a rule that you have to try everything on your plate with one bite, then you can decide not to eat it. Awkward and annoying to keep that rule at another persons home, but rules are reminders that someone is in charge and the child is safe.
  • Try not to "let it go because it is a holiday". I have wound up with 2 ungrateful, overstimulated brats on many occasions thinking I was giving the gift of fun and freedom from structure. Not. Good.
Get over the idea that this is your holiday too and you should be able to have some fun. Maybe you will, maybe you won't. Yes this will all be a lot of work. No, it probably isn't fair.

What about pushy relatives?

Those that are sure your RADish needs a fistful of crackers and you are just being too strict, you know them? They spend half the holiday trying to convince you that you are too hard on the child, you need to loosen up. Or the other where your child runs off totally out of control and just needs a good spanking. I have two lines that I have found will stop all opinions, second guessing, and unwanted "help".

1. Say this with your head tilted to the side and try to look tragic.
"You know, she will just never be totally sure that we won't abandon her too. No matter how long it has been she still doesn't quite fully believe we will always bring her home. Our rules may seem odd but she functions so much better with them".
Without fail, the "helpful" relative will make sad clucking noises, quickly look off into the distance, and wander away. I think the comment helps kick open the door that reminds people, we are not working from a regular box of chocolates. Half the box isn't even candy.

2. Looking helpless or a little doubtful, shift the focus (blame) off of yourself.
"Mmmm hmmmm, her therapist (insert whatever professional you want) says we have to 'blank' for her to be emotionally healthy you know, after all she's been through". Around my relatives that will move immediately into a discussion about this feelings crap in society now-a-days, psychiatrists are nothing but drug pushers and the Big Pharmaceutical Companies are running the world.  Clears the room. Get out with everyone else.

I realize the above idea may turn folks off completely. Do what works for you. This is what has worked for me. 

Now, on to gifts!

Around here, my kids get a lot of gifts. What a problem, right? No, it's not something I complain about. However with my children, too many new things at one time overwhelms them. Then they wind up playing with the box or an old cat toy from way under the couch. Spread it out.

We will do our family gifts 3 days before Christmas. No one has ever been arrested for opening gifts early. Winter Break from school starts five full days before the actual holiday this year- that's a long time and I'm sitting on a pile of new toys? Gifts mailed out from relatives get opened two days before. That will give the kids most of the next day to play with their new stuff. We once tried having Santa come early the night before Christmas because.......

For  2 years my little neurotypical child became so excited about Santa Claus that she vomited. She works herself so far up into a tizzy that she gets a fever going and cannot keep food down. All day. So, Santa will came early the night before, like 7pm,  instead of Christmas morning. Does that just not seem right? Kids are supposed to wake up Christmas morning at 4 am all excited and flipping out about Santa! Well, that may be how it is in all the stories but if the excitement is too much for your kids than how much fun is it going to be? Anyway, no one is having fun when there is vomit on the gifts. Words to live by.

It was a good plan I think, but Teena still remembers the year Santa came too early. However, she did not get sick so, in that regard it worked well.

Anyway, like I said, these are the things that have worked for us. You may have already tried every single thing on the list and none of it worked. For me, it's about maximizing the fun and helping my RADish be successful and that may mean my day sucks. But I would feel worse if she managed to ruin the day for a bunch of other people.  We will absolutely still have fallout, but if we try to work at the problems ahead of time and have a plan for the other stuff, it helps.

I actually wrote this a few years back, but to this day we still do most of the same things. Just this past Thanksgiving I was helpfully informed that a spanking would be a great idea for Genea.

So, opinions? Suggestions? What has worked for you and your family that is not typical? Fill me in, I will take all the help I can get!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Saint Who?

There appears to be, in the great state of Wisconsin, an extra saint with his own extra special child-focused holiday. As far as I ever knew, there's one St. Nicolas and he also goes by Santa Claus and Kris Kringle. However, here we have this whole other guy, who goes by St. Nick, and he gets his own day to give out presents. Just to children, not their parents.

Sounds like a scam doesn't it? I thought so. I'd heard about this St Nick dude years ago from some of the younger children I worked with. Apparently, dude comes every December 5th, only to Wisconsin, and maybe Europe. The littlest cheeseheads are supposed to leave their boots outside and in the morning there will be a gift. In the boot. Seriously.

So when our own little cheesehead appeared, and was joined by her sister-cheesehead, I firmly took the stand that I was against extra gift- getting holidays for the kids. My excuse was that I am from Illinois and there are well known rivalry's and several unflattering nicknames for us not all of which revolve around football. The Husband is from New Mexico where they don't even have football, and they have all sorts of other holiday traditions, none including this Mr. St. Nick. However, he is a soft and mushy sort of Daddy and he insisted our children participate in the getting part of this invented holiday.

SO I WAS CLEAR. If YOU want to do this, than YOU are going to have to do it. I will NOT do it. Raise your hand if you think The Husband pulled it off more than the one time (ha ha that's kind of a trick because your hands are probably on a keyboard but I'm thinking I win anyway). Right. Anyway, I wake him up around midnight and ask him what he put outside on the eve of December 5th. A combination sound of moaning/begging/whining vomits out his mouth and he asks me plaintively.... can you put something out? Naturally.

I dig through the gifts I've managed to obtain prior to the actual real holiday and pick out some small ones. I stuff them outside in the smelly, fetid boots of my children with rain or snow or both pummeling all of it. However, this year there was a small issue. See, since I don't know anything about this St. Nick dude (is he the same as the Saint Nick Santa Claus dude?), I don't remember to think about it. Additionally, it's not my responsibility. When Genea came home and announced it was St. Nick's holiday the next day I took her at her word, assuming she would not mess up a gift- getting opportunity.

I was sort of right.

In her Genea-ness, she was a day early. So she and her sister proudly carried off their little puzzle books to school to show their friends and all their little demon friends told them..... He didn't come last night, he was going to come the next night.

Well shit.

The Husband and I decided to come clean about St. Nick. Somehow, my 8 and 10 year olds had not figured it out despite our rather obvious error. Genea cried for about 2 seconds, then told me thank you for the gift. She seemed to think knowing the truth was pretty cool. Teena was angry we would even speak such evil. We had told them Santa is still, um, a thing. Teena informed us that if Santa is real, and the Elf of Shelves is real, then St. Nick is real and that's that. She told us unequivocally that Santa does not want kids to have to wait all through the dregs of December for their gifts so he spreads some around early.

Many of Teena's theories seem to work in her favor. She also believes that kids only have to be good in  December for Santa to come. Really.

The girls think St Nick and Santa are the same person. I spent like, 90 seconds looking for answers before this post and couldn't find anything definitive. Santa has his own big holiday, though it's really not in celebration of him per se, it's about someone else's birthday. If they are the same saint, is it his birthday 3 weeks prior? Are they different saints? I just do not know.   I think it's made up.

The last thing they wanted to know was if they could still get gifts for the holiday. Sure, I told them. Go buy them and I'll stick them outside for you to find. No problem!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Leaning Towards Gratitude

I was speaking with a friend recently, who I hadn't seen in a few years. Naturally the conversation wound up child focused, our children are close in ages. She knows Genea's full history and was there at the beginning of our adoption, until The Husband and I began staying home at a rapidly accelerating pace.

I briefly updated her on both girls,  hitting high points as well as reality. Discussing Teena was easy. Discussing Genea was frustrating. This happens often. If I'm talking about something wonky Teena has done, it's either laughter or "uh oh" in response. If it's something wonky Genea has done, it's either "ohhhh poor thing" or "oh, that's normal". Frustrating as it is, I understand the reaction. Genea's life has been an enormous struggle and I suspect the person believes they are being supportive and reassuring.

At some point clarity bulldozed its way through the fog of kid induced exhaustion. First, most people aren't going to understand what I am talking about. They hear my words and match them with an experience in their brains file drawer. They really cannot imagine what I am describing.

Second, and this is the gratitude part, I'm glad she doesn't get it. I don't necessarily want to be all kind and gracious. But the alternative is for the person to be living the same challenges, and I don't want that for them either. So I'm trying to remember to be grateful.

I am grateful she has healthy children who do ridiculous things and learn not to do it again. Who throw tantrums when they are tired or frustrated and not because their neurology is snapping like bacon in a frying pan. Children who enjoy hearing a compliment and who avoid parent anger (most of the time) instead of seeking it. Children who respond to a reward for good behavior by repeating the good behavior.  They often stop being annoying when ignored instead of becoming violent. Correcting, redirecting and natural consequences work with her children. They respond in the way one would expect. That is SO GOOD. 

Let's make no mistake though. I have to poke myself in the eye with a shishkabob skewer sometimes to remember WHY I am okay with the persons lack of understanding. It's hard sometimes, when I feel annoyed, irritated, frustrated because I am unable to get my point across. Lots of times I want to hiss between my clenched teeth the words "you don't get it and that. is. okay. because I am soooo fucking happy for you".

She doesn't get it when I describe the chaos, she's probably not going to. I try to do my part to ease the stigma of mental illness by being real. Same with adoption related issues- no unicorn farts or rainbows here. However.

This is what I've come to understand. For some things, there is no preparation. You can read about Reactive Attachment Disorder. You can work with dozens of kids who have multiple mental health diagnosis.  You can "get it" that institutionalized kids are going to have specific issues. That the challenges are going to be so hard, so intense, so incessant they will stretch your capabilities far past every edge.

If you don't get it,  I 'm happy for you. Thankful.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Things that are good

I've been trying to write out a post about Genea's overall emotional growth for a while now and I'm finding it difficult to express. It's the absence of negatives that defines much of her progress and that's hard to write in a readable way.

Like this... "Genea USED to pick paint off the walls and draw on stuff everywhere wherever she wanted too, BUT she stopped!". Or, "after six straight years of having the table manners of a buffalo, she told me yesterday she is practicing all the things I've been telling her so she'll have nice manners at Thanksgiving".

See? Those are two really awesome things, but to share them I almost have to include negative information for context. Otherwise? A ten year old who doesn't draw on the walls in crayon? Not impressive. I'm going to try to present things in a positive way, but if it reads awkwardly, well, hopefully the point will still get across.

So, here are some that *seem to be* sticking!
(I say that with a disclaimer so as to not incur the wrath of any Blog Gods or Goddesses who think I am getting uppity, or confident, or flippant, etc)

Genea goes to her performance classes every Monday until 7 at night. When she comes home, she has to get everything done in an hour. Her bedtime is 8, but even if we let her stay up late she asks to go to bed by 8:05. She finishes it ALL, without even a sigh of complaint. She sits at the table with her dinner doing her homework at the same time. She does homework on the bus and during class breaks to get it all done. I would say she does as well as "the average child" but honestly, I think most kids would whine about it. She does better than most kids.

On schoolwork, she is consistently just a bit behind her class academically. Just a bit! Even though it takes her 2 or even 3 times longer than other kids to get homework done, she just damn good and well does it. Any fuss is well within the range of "normal" annoying kid behavior.

She pretty much does all of her own personal tasks. In the past, every little thing required my constant attention and fits could be thrown for hours over any part. Now, she gets dressed, does her hair, picks out her clothes, cleans the room, changes her bedding, showers, all those things without any pleas for unneeded help.

I can hug Genea and she does not lurch away, recoil, or rub the spot I touched as if I'd hugged her with a plumbing wrench. I can hug her first.

She really remembers what she's been taught at school. She especially has a talent for retaining obscure bits of minutiae. Why is that such a great thing? Because The Husband has an intense love for the most tedious facts ever invented. Typically he has had only me to share with. The GNP of Nepal? Gosh.... I used to know.... hmmm. Now he and Genea can trade details!

Again, it's difficult to express what is so great about a kid who seems to be just meeting basic expectations. So I'll say this- for Genea, it has taken massive effort. I've never done heroin but I hear quitting is really hard. To turn around hard core habits- really hard.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Today's Twerk

Twerking my nerves today is this:

Where's the rest of it?
Was it stolen?
Is it in some CEO's garage?
I want the pizza that fit in that box dammit!
By my personal definition, which has no bearing on public perception, or anything else in the world except me, twerking my nerves is the equivalent of gluteal seizures. That is to say, super annoying and a little bizarre.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

A few blows to the RAD (1)

Genea and I have been going to see the same psychologist for almost two years now. We are so lucky to have found someone who is good, knows what she is doing, and has stayed accessible to us. Although, nothing is perfect. We are supposed to see her weekly. Every time I make an appointment I ask for the next available opening, without fail it's not for another month. At least we get in.

That's as opposed to her psychiatric practitioners-  after five and a half years she is now on #6. Can't complain though, we've had to go about 6 months without, but have always found someone eventually. Lots of people don't have anyone.

She has a new diagnosis, one that I gave her. It's called DSM-NOS. Diagnostic (and) Statistical Manual (of Mental Disorders)- Not Otherwise Specified. From the professionals, she actually has seven mental health diagnosis's, the main one being Reactive Attachment Disorder. My opinion is once the number exceeds what I can count on one hand, it doesn't much matter anymore. If you were to scatter the contents of the DSM on the floor, pretty much any page would describe her in some way or another. So there you have it. DSM- NOS.

Anyway, somehow we got super lucky with our psychologist. She was new when we started, a fresh graduate, trained in EMDR. After our last experience, I decided to speak with her before committing. First, I said I wanted to be in the sessions. I won't talk if you don't want me to, but I don't see how we can work on attachment if I'm not here.

Second, I said, we had a bad experience with our last therapist. Here's the thing. Genea has a swiss cheese memory- random holes every which way. If she doesn't have a grasp on the details of an event, she will fill in whatever she thinks up. (I live with a constant fear of manufactured memories). I don't know if she believes what she is saying or not. I do know that if I am here she is less likely to do it, and I can often prompt her memory as well. I cannot allow her to triangulate either.

Makes sense to me, she said.

 She asked if I had read any books or was using any specific technique.  I started on my list, until she stopped me, laughing. OK, she said, you've educated yourself! I told her I use a hybrid of Heather Forbes's "Beyond Consequences" and Nancy Thomas's "When Love is not Enough". Both women might well shriek in horror at the thought of combining their techniques but I like to think I can tell when Genea needs for us to bond and strengthen our relationship or when she needs to have her butt kicked. You know, metaphorically.

Genea's problem with pea finally went away, mostly, about six months ago. If you have your own life and have not memorized mine, pea has been an enormous, incessant problem. If you can think of it, I tried it. The only thing that sort- of worked was an intense schedule of times, checks, and cleaning, including sitting on the pot 10 minutes of every 30. Sure it sort-of worked, but we couldn't live like that. Eventually I gave up and you know what? It didn't get better. It didn't get worse either. Basically no matter what I did that particular problem stayed the same.

(note I change the spelling of p e e.  If I use the word as it's spelled I get search traffic from people who should be incarcerated. So. )

We talked about it in therapy many times. I should be more specific. Genea crawled under furniture or screamed or curled into a fetal ball and sucked her thumb while the therapist and I talked at her about it. Once in awhile she would participate by shouting responses from under the table.

 Her psychologist suggested I give her a dime every time I "caught" her without pea on herself. This was not her best suggestion however I agreed to try another reward system.  As incentive, when Genea got to a dollar I would take her to get ice cream. It didn't work because around the 60 cent mark, Genea stole the money and brought it to the school Crap and Junk Store. Its a damn good thing I have a sense of humor. RAD rule #17- sticker charts can suck it.

Oh, and the pea continued.

It let up for a few weeks for no apparent reason. The therapist practically threw a parade with high fives and I'm-proud- of- yous. Pea then flooded the house. RAD rule #43- too many compliments are BAD.

We eventually landed on the true basic needs behind the behavior. Safety and security. No, it doesn't make sense. No, it doesn't have to.

Right about this time last year Genea told us that she was pea-ing to bring me to her. That I would not leave her if she needed me and if she kept pea-ing,  she obviously needed me.  She was using the pea to force me to her and make me stay. She was afraid I would abandon her if she stopped.  It's not great logic, but its how she viewed it and her realization has helped her stop. That day was the beginning of the end of that particular problem. She is almost fully reliable at night too.

We have had a few major breakthroughs in the past year, all massive blows to her Reactive Attachment Disorder. This one has had the biggest impact on our lives together but there are more to come in upcoming posts.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Teena Tornado

That's what I've always called her. Teena Tornado. This kid is a twirling entity of hilarious, crazy and wtf every single day. Here is the latest example.

"MAMA LOOK AT ME I made a smell guard so I don't hafta smell the rice cooking LOOK MAMA LOOK"!!!!!


When I say every day, I mean Every. Single. Day. ALL day.

Here is her writing fort. To the unafraid eye, it might look like a pile of trash. For the love of xanax, never-ever say that. Keep only thoughts in your head as to the brilliant nature of her structure. Or she will know. And you will pay.

If you're wondering why a few "bricks" on the side are wonky, I better make it clear that it was MY FAULT for trying to walk in my own house to sit on my own couch. And I ALMOST RUINED it, only barely redeeming myself by sort of fixing it but not- as- good- as she did it.

On a few occasions, I've been forced to dismantle a fort despite my strong sense of self preservation. The result is a child screaming as if I'd just mislabeled one of her myriad my little ponies. Which is the same level of fury/despair most folks aim at ohhhhh I dunno,  Mexican drug cartels.

I like to take selfies. You know, where you use your phones camera to take a picture of yourself? Well, Teena and I were set up to take a few nice ones. This happened instead.

Sigh. Double sigh, double sigh.

Friday, October 25, 2013

You. Are. Gay.

Genea has been having trouble with her friend across the street. The girl, we'll call her Dippy, lives in the house the Skankenho and Fucktardmoron moved out of. I'm wondering if it is cursed. Anyway.

Dippy seems to have a few of her own issues with impulse control and judgement. And lying and overall buttheadedness. She's also know to "flip" in a second. She is Genea's friend, then not, and back. While a lot of that is normal for girls their age, for Genea each tiff is the equivalent of waterboarding. She comes home and freaks out and I found out recently, then begs Dippy to forgive her. Of the nothing she did. Normally, Dippy forgets she is pretending to be mad about the made up event and is fine the next day.

I tell my girls they don't have to be nice, but they do have to be polite. Dippy is not a good friend, focus on the girls who are real friends. Say hi, and move on.

However, for an unknown reason, Dippy has been amping up her buttheadedness level with Genea on the bus. Of course, a school bus was the inspiration for the book "Lord of the Flies" and I believe the scene with the heads on spears actually happened in a city nearby. A friend of mine knows the person who heard about it. The bus is a shrink wrapped microcosm for aberrant child behavior.

At any rate, Dippy was supposed to hand Genea a cracker from another kid and instead tossed it on the ground and stepped on it. Genea said, that was rude, and now Dippy is refusing to speak to her etc, etc. All the usual buttheadedness. So Genea is already on edge (don't ever mess with her food!), when some stupid boy says to her "you are gay". Stupid Boy then sticks his foot 2 inches from her face. She replies "no I'm not", and kicks him.

(By the way, we have her convinced the bus driver stealth calls us. There have been other incidents when she was standing on the seat, jumping, throwing stuff out windows and so on and almost lost bus privileges but it mostly stopped when she realized we kept finding out. Truth is Teena races home first to tattle).

Okay! Probably I should be coming down on her for being physical. Instead I just asked her what the rules say she should have done. Secretly, I'm impressed. I hope she kicked him hard. Little shit.

All this history brings me to the part I do have a problem with. I don't know if Genea is "gay" or not. I am certain though, that Stupid Boy was not being conversational with his comment. Picking on Genea for her reaction is like going to a canned hunting farm. Easy, and not really fair. She's quickly flustered, struggles with word finding, and her emotional meter is set at 8 out of 10 most days. She's sweet and tries hard to be friendly, yet often comes off more awkward than anything.

The Husband and I discussed the behaviors of everyone involved and gave her suggestions on how to handle it next time. She demonstrated for us how school has taught her to put her hand up and say, "stop" and I almost went into a full body cringe. It's a good idea, ok, just somehow it looked and sounded bizarre when she did it. Almost guaranteed to create more problems. Anyway, that part is handled but calling someone gay to be mean is not acceptable. Now, how do I separate that out?

Just about every response I can think of would be exponentially worse.
"I'm not gay but why would you care?"
"Gay is not bad but acting stupid is"
"Get your head out of your ass idiot, your brain is suffocating".

I want to make the point to her that gay is how people are born and it's not a thing. It's not a thing to use to insult people with.  It just is. Calling a gifted child a smarty-pants as a taunt is similarly ridiculous. Why do some kids feel such a need to go after non-normative kids? The comments are meant to degrade, maybe to forcefully shame one child into acting within the groups parameters. Or something anthropological. I really don't know.

What I do know is that yesterday was not the time to go into human sexuality, but I can't leave it alone either. I'm planning to discuss with her again what gay is, and why it's not an insult and should never be used as one. We've discussed it plenty of times and so the facts will not be new. Kids shouldn't be taunting others regardless.

Is it enough to tell her why and be done? With another child it might be different but I can't imagine coaching Genea to tell the kid that gay is not an insult and he shouldn't be using it as one. I think I want her to stand up for other kids, other people, but as of yet she's not good at standing up for herself. As I write this right now I realize therein lies the answer. We have to work hard on what I suspect will be a long-term challenge for her, being picked- one, taunted, bullied. I can give her the facts, logic and knowledge but I guess we should probably hold back on defending others until she is better at managing herself.

As for Dippy, I sigh. We're telling Genea, stay away and don't bother with her. You are a good kid and a great friend and you don't deserve someone being mean to you. Genea's need to repel rejection is burned into her brain. Dippy's need to control and manipulate seems to be strong as well. I'd been letting Genea handle that "friendshit" (baaaa ha ha, that was a typo but I'm leaving it ha ha ha), with close monitoring but it seems time to squash it.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

today's winner....

So, the last time I was giving away a book, we had a family emergency and had to go to Chicago for a few days. Now this time, I had a dental emergency and did not get any good drugs. Bah!

Anyway, the winner of the book "Full Circle" by Dee Dee Hixon is..........

building tension

drumming up anticipation

now just being annoying

distracting now with the cute picture of Genea selecting the winner

(those papers on the table are her homework, not entries that fell out or anything ha ha)

(yeah, she's doing homework with a space heater next to her. It's October and I refuse to put on the heat. However, I hate to be cold and so does she. Hence the robe over her clothes too. It's freezing out- literally.)

So, just email me your address and I'll get it right out to you!


Thanks for playing!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Barbie's Pony Tale- with a DISCOUNT

I am only going to write about a product if I like it. So if you are seeing it here, it's because I think it has value.

Barbie has a new movie coming out this week called Barbie & Her Sisters in a Pony Tale. They all go off to a riding academy and, as would happen with my girls, all four sisters have different ideas of what to do. It's a rocky start, but the sisters work it all out.

We were sent the dolls from the Gala Gown Giftset, and they are adorable. The dresses are cute- and age appropriate. Two other things I really liked- their shoes stay on! I can't count as high as the number of doll shoes that disappear into my carpet. Also, the dolls hair is soft and shiny and easy to play with. I don't know if my memory fails or if something was changed but it seems a higher quality then from my childhood (maybe because mine were mostly hand me downs with haircuts that never grew back).

Here's the thing. There are a lot of creepy looking, grotesquely disfigured dolls for girls on the market. Distorted bodies, overkill make up on, hootchie clothes. These are not them.

The best though, is that there are "kid" dolls. Barbie is an adult, Skipper appears to be a teenager and the 2 younger ones are kids. It is SO hard to find dolls that are the ages of my girls (or close), especially in this size. I've tried to find similar-aged dolls over the years and either can't find them at all, or they are super expensive.

Which leads me to the next part---- WE HAVE A DISCOUNT CODE!!! Use the following links between 10/21/13 and 10/24/13 for a $5.00 discount. Use the code PONYTALE at checkout to apply the discount.

Barbie and Her Sisters in a Pony Tale Train and Ride RC
(this is really cool, the horse can be trained to respond to Barbie)

Anyway, my girls love all things Barbie and I super love that they play with them all the time (staying occupied!!!). There has even been Barbie and Her Sisters- dedicated artwork:
(and you- know- who is beyond thrilled that her art is being shared for the cause).

Monday, October 14, 2013

"FULL CIRCLE" giveaway!

I received a copy of this birth mothers memoir, Full Circle by Dee Dee Hixson to review. Now that I'm done reading it, I'm giving it away!

The subtitle to the book is "The Real Story behind My Fairy Tale", and it certainly is. Like most of us, the author had ideas for her direction in life. Things did not go as planned.

The author discovers she is pregnant at a young age, and decides to give the child over (I hate the phrase "give up" but that's just me) for adoption. She describes the legal issues of the day, including birth records that would be sealed for 99 years. With no such concept as open adoption, she was able to only briefly see her son after his birth. Difficult emotions are well-described and explored. It is not a decision she makes because it's what she wants, and it's devastating.

As much as the author struggles during this time, she is able to return to her "normal" life only she is profoundly changed. I think she attempts to get back on the path she expected, or felt was expected of her, only to find it unsatisfying. I don't want to give anything away, so I will just say the middle of the book holds an event that had me careening through emotions as well. You know it's a good book when that happens!

The author seems to find her voice towards the end and begins to search for her first child. Sealed records hold firm however, and the search does not go well. The final paragraph of the book contains the line, "There is more joy out there if you just stay strong a little bit longer until it shows up".

SO! Who wants to read this book for themselves? Leave a comment! Do you see the full circle? Someone gave me the book and now I'm giving it away! I try to be slick like that!

 I will draw a name on Sunday, October 20th. Actually, one of the kids will do the name pulling to keep it fully random.

A few other links:
Kindle copy of Full Circle
E- reader copy of Full Circle from iuniverse.com

ADDED: I opened up anonymous comments for entries. Please, if you are using it, specify some way to identify you from other people!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

twerking my nerves

Ya know, I don't consider myself to be an out- of- touch person. I like to think I keep up with current trends, pop culture and irrelevant gossip about people I'll never know. However, when this "twerking" thing came up, it was news to me.

What is twerking? It appears to mean to convulse one's buttocks in a seizure-esque way to look hot while dancing. I can't speak to whether or not it works. I'll just say it doesn't float my boat.

I've heard a lot of stupid shit in my life, but this is like the fresh shiny steaming bit at the top of the turd pile.
Seriously, twerking????

It occurs to me that we people have the power to change this word. We people made it up, and we people can eradicate it. How, you ask? How could one accomplish such an amazing feat?

The answer is so simple. Moms take over the word. It's bad enough when a cool phrase goes mainstream, and boring average people start using it. But let a bunch of mini-van driving, yoga pant wearing (despite those pants never ever seeing a downward facing dog), used tissue in the sleeve/ pocket/ handbag carting, MOMS start to say it? Forget it. It's over.

I even thought of an acronym- Moms Opposed (to) Mouth Stupidity!
Ok, I'll work on it.

So that's my plan. MOMS take over that idiotic word. We twist (twerk?) the meaning to: an extreme irritation. As in, that is getting on my nerves. Now would be, that is twerking my nerves. Added bonus- horrifying any teenager in a 3 block radius, double bonus points if the teen is related.

Currently twerking my nerves are people who want to video their brilliant child (not as brilliant as mine though) in some performance. They raise arms holding an ipad just like John Cusack and his boom box in Say Anything. The damn ipad obscures the view of parents such as myself for 5-6 rows back. The annoyance on those faces is clear, partly because the ipad proceeds to illuminate everything for a half mile behind the offender.

  like this only not nearly so cool, not cool at all

Showing off not only their technical prowess but their financial exuberance, the ipad user wants everyone to know he/she has an ipad and won't hesitate to use it. A mighty pride obscures common sense and it twerks my nerves.

THIS awesome blogger had another point, which is that twerking looks suspiciously like a child throwing a tantrum. Therefore, I've started using it there as well.
"She had a raging twerk last night".
"I got to enjoy a full out twerking fit".
"She was so mad she was twerking across the floor".

Please, do share. What twerks your nerves?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Math during a meltdown?

The brain is fascinating. I've spent a lot of time over the past six years trying to understand more about it and how it works. My personal brain works like a plinko game. Ideas bounce and jump, flip and flop, twist and contract. I often have no choice. When my brain finds something to latch onto, it wrestles it to the ground pummeling it into oblivion leaving a soggy mass. For whatever reason, when the motivation behind an action does not make sense, my brain hijacks the facts spinning them until I get it.

As one might imagine, my brain hit the motherload when Genea came.

I can't pretend to understand neurology, not even the tiniest thinnest bit. However, I read a lot and sometimes I find research that might apply to my daughter, even though it was intended for something else. Lots of research being done on PTSD in the military overlaps, for example. This study done by Stanford University was designed to determine the function of the posterior medial cortex (PMC) and the connections it makes.


I'll try to summarize (my apologies to the brilliant team at Stanford).

Math cuts off memories.

Yeah, okay, maybe a little more detail.

Actively doing math disconnects the brain from its memories and the energy goes to the area solving the math problem. You can do math OR you can explore your memory but you cannot do both.

The PMC is strongly activated when a person is remembering their past. However, activity in the region is strongly suppressed when the person engages in math.

I took this tidbit and considered it. Memories in traumatized children can occur on a repeating loop, as if they were burned into a pattern.  A child can have difficult memories of past abuse lodged in there. Perceived wrongs, distorted injustices, real wrongs, real injustices. The unfairness of having peanut butter and jelly for lunch when she wanted macaroni and cheese. It's a primal need that's been effected (predictability = safety), but it's the current memory of the unwanted sandwich causing the issue. Doing math tosses up a big brick wall in front of the PMC. It forces out the memory by moving the energy away from the PMC.

(This does not necessarily match up with the research study, I've extrapolated. The experiment subjects were not children or neglected or traumatized. I could well be stone cold wrong. Peruse the link above for all the specifics).

I'd like to point out that the child still has the memories. They've not been eliminated.

So when Genea is having a meltdown, I ask her easy math questions in a soft, calm and pleasant (no matter how I am feeling) voice. If she refuses I can do 2 things. I do a problem wrong. For example, 2+3=4. She may not respond but she knows it is wrong and bada-bing, focusing on math. It's a quirk specific to Genea, she cannot stand something being wrong. She has almost a compulsion to fix it, and so this gets her attention.

The other way is to do simple math, that she understands, near her. She hears it and bada-bing again, focusing on math. Her hypervigilance requires she focus intently on me, so I use it to her advantage. Often she'll scream over any attempts to help her with traditional calming techniques. Counting, breathing, telling her to "be a balloon Genea, be a balloon" (per a crappy-and fired- therapist), she will shriek her toenails off over all of it. Once, when I asked her, "What's 3+3" she screamed back "I know you know what it is!", but then she answered. Sometimes, she can't get to the answer right away, her neurology has become scrambled eggs. I watch her eyeballs vibrate with the effort it takes and give her a minute. It gets her unstuck.

 I can tell you this- the biggest, ugliest tantrums she has can be brought down this way within minutes.

Note, the purpose is NOT to teach her new math or to develop skills in math, or test what she knows in math. It has to be obvious trying to do that would be more frustrating, but I feel compelled to to write it anyway.

You still have to deal with the issue, dig out the current reason for the meltdown and figure out which primal need was offended upon causing the whole thing in the first place. Maybe she is screaming about wanting to play outside in her pajamas, but the real problem is she had a substitute teacher at school. Substitutes are a change and they never know how to be exactly like the regular teacher. What if she didn't know when to send them to lunch? Primal needs- food, safety.  But if you can get her to shift, you won't be trying to talk to her lizard brain with your prefrontal cortex. Math causes a shift.

If you try it, I would love to hear how it goes! Good or otherwise! Or does it sound ridiculous and stupid? Regardless, what's working for us may not work for anyone else. What works for us may not work for us tomorrow! I just like to share when I come across something that helps that I've not heard about before.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Excuse my delay but....

We have a winner!
Teena selected the slip and the winner of Jump Starting Boys is................

BETSY, who has 3 boys under 5 bless-her-heart-and-sanity, wins the book. YAY 

So, send your mailing information to-
and I will get it out to you right away.


eta: if you did not win this book, I have another one coming up. A memoire written by a birth mother.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Jump Starting Boys- Giveaway!

Hmm, you might be thinking, why is that Accident woman going to write about boys?

Normally if I am going to write about boys, it's to discuss how they are in my way. Boys have the advantage and  I have girls. Boys get more attention in school, they grow up to make more money than female equals. Boys get called -on in class more often and are given more help. Girls are ignored during subjects like math or science to focus on boys. Boys are so disruptive in a classroom that a good bulk of the teachers time goes to just keeping them in line.

While those things used to be true, and are still situationally true, lots has changed in schools for boys. Boys are faltering. A shift took place with the intention of leveling out girls academics, and it may have gone too far.

I've just read a book that makes the most excellent point- my daughters might well grow up to marry boys someday, so it is in my interest to pay attention to some things. Yep, got me there!

I know this. I see little boys who start off energetic and excited. Interested in everything and everyone. They are so much fun! They are sweet and they are nice. Considerate even.  Somewhere in grade school I see them withdraw a bit. They don't show their sweetness. Interests wane. I think they fade, lose their shiny brightness. Some boys channel the changes into different avenues, some grow out of it, and some become sullen. Where the path leads then, could be anywhere.

Jump Starting Boys
By Pam Withers and Cynthia Gill
"Help your reluctant learner find success in school and life"

It is a book about getting boys back on track.  I imagine parents of boys will repeatedly reference it until it shreds- it's that helpful.

What I like best about this book is the immense usefulness. The authors do not expect parents to dramatically change everything over night (and a miracle will occur!), it's more about taking advantage of what is already there, and building on strengths and interests.  They describe tons of ways to prevent off-tracking in the first place. There are lists upon lists of actions you can take right now, many with little upheaval, to alter the path your child might be on.

One story given as an example both make me laugh and think. A boy was having trouble in school. The Dad, a truck driver,  is told the boy might have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Surmising that meant the boy needed more attention, Dad started to take him along to work driving. The problems resolved.

SO, since the book was sent to me for review by the publisher, I am going to pass it on to a super lucky winner!  Leave a comment to the effect of "PICK ME" to be entered in the drawing I will have on Sunday, September 29th at noon Wisconsin time. You can also comment just to comment if you want- cuz you know I love comments.

Spread the word with my nifty little facebook gadget thingies or with copy-paste. Free stuff y'all!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Thanks for being ugly

There is a TV show in America, copied from the UK I believe, called Big Brother. The premise is a group of about 15 people are locked in a house together. The last one standing after 3 months of competitions and voting wins $500,000.

This year, the show has recieved much more attention than usual due to the nasty racist/ homophobic/ mysogynistic comments of several participants. Clips have been shown over and over on public media with evidence. I'm not going to link them, you can search for yourself if you want to. Or you can take my word for it that really nasty stuff was said.

 It's been an eye-opener for me to see that there really are still people in this country who speak and act like that. However, the ugly persists beyond. One contestant was adopted and another contestant has been taunting her with comments such as "at least my mother wanted me".

*#*# SCREECH #*#*

Well there you go. It just got personal.

I watch Big Brother with my daughters, and it occured to me I had a mine full of gold laying under all that horseshit.

It happens so often to kids, especially girls, where just one mean girl can make things horrible for another girl. Two or three mean girls working together can make a strong, self confident child into a shriveled, scarred mess. And so as a society we have these sayings designed to make it better.

Beauty comes from within.
Beauty is only skin deep.
It's more important to be pretty on the inside than the outside.
What's important is how you see yourself.
Beauty doesn't last forever.

As girls become teenagers, their bodies become awkward and betray them with acne and periods. Suddenly appearance is much more important. We share other brilliant sayings.

None of it matters after high school.
The "popular" kids wind up being boring adults.
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
It's part of growing up.
She'll be ugly and fat when she's 30.
What comes around goes around.

Most of the sayings really are true, and I am a big believer in karma- what comes around goes around.

But really? Any kid with a handful of working brain cells will perceive the pant load. Even peripheral exposure to the media reinforces what kids already know- pretty is important. Pretty is more desirable.  Pretty girls are models and stars. They are on TV and in magazines. They get all the attention. Girls don't look at the woman with the lawnmower haircut wearing a frumper and strive to imitate her. They want to sparkle and shine!

It so truly does not matter in the moment that the mean girl might go on to have a crappy life in some abstract future. 

Back at the TV show, my girls noticed how one group of women was horribly mean to a few other contestents. 3 people of non-Caucasian ethnicity and a non-heterosexual man were the targets.  The mean group has been made up of attractive, outgoing, (and unfortunately) articulate women. Beautifully done hair and make up, club dresses and party clothes. Confident and self assured. Nastier than a salvage yard snake.

Even in the beginning, when edited airings of the show portrayed false congeniality, my girls picked up on the tension. They rooted for the picked on and underdogs. This is good.

It's all lent a rare opportunity to see ugliness occur live, and watch consequences appear.  Two of the women have been fired from their real-world jobs because of their televised behavior. I can watch with my daughters and point out- see her? She is a beauty-pageant coordinator, like on Toddlers and Tiara's. She's pretty isn't she? Her body is in great shape and she wears beautiful clothes, right? But none of it matters. She's ugly on the inside. Ugly. She says mean, nasty things to other women and tries to make them feel bad, on purpose.

You know what else? She's been fired from her job. She doesn't even know it yet because she's still in the house game. Her bosses watch the show and see how ugly she is on the inside and now she doesn't have a job.

That other woman- the other mean one? She wants to be a model, or on TV and you know what happened? She is fired too. She hasn't just used ugly words, she has done  hateful things. It doesn't matter how pretty you are on the outside if your heart is ugly. If your spirit is nasty, good things won't happen.


Genea had been invited to a birthday party and was delerious with happiness looking forward to it. A few days ago, the girl told her she couldn't come. We don't know why, but obviously Genea has been devastated. To her credit, she is still being nice to the kid. That blows me away.

Now it's possible that one of the mean girls is going to win the show. And I can take that and use it as well. Sometimes the nasty ones make it to the top- they do, no use denying it. But her ugly spirit has caused her to lose something very very important to her.

What's on the inside really does count.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Where's the Beef?

So, I stumble back onto my blog after a lengthy break. I discover just about every site I have on my blog list hasn't updated in years. I got no new blogs to read. Seriously, there are 2 blogs that I regularly participate on. I need more. Who has more?

Now that gaggle reader is gone, I'm having trouble finding a good feed reader. I am using Feedly, which I like, but keep messing it up. I just discovered a list of 93 blog posts that I missed on there. Now how the hell did that happen? Thus, my problem.  I love that so many sites are streamlining their look. However, I can't figure out how to set it up and keep it that way because it's all too vague.

I tried Blog Lovin', despite the title which makes me feel cringe-ie like a 12 year old Justin Bieber fan. I don't care for them because they stick random blog posts in the middle of your feed list. Like, about cooking and shit I don't care for.
Where are people getting their blog lists from?

Some other things I have issues with today:

It's so cool that manufacturers are using re-sealable bags. Like with some cereals. Or shredded cheese. But why won't they make sliding thingies that work? Either I rip the whole thing removing the easy to remove tab, or the bag doesn't seal no matter how well I line up the edges. Seems so pointless to go to the expense for a frustrating lack of payoff. Why.

That reminds me. You know that "open here" spot on the side of a box of mac and cheese?  You are supposed to push your finger into the half-oval shaped perforations and the box will peel right open so you may behold the glory that is dried noodles and cheese- colored powder. Question- has anyone ever successfully done that? I mean using the directions as stated, and ended up with a well opened box with contents not on the floor? I can open the box from the side if I take out a steak knife, violently stab it, then peel, but that's cheating.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

The Actress

Several years ago I noticed Genea has a nice singing voice.  I didn't do much about it. Her school has a choir, and she participated for the last 2 years. She has done other things, dance, cheerleading, etc.

This past winter though, she and Teena did a version of American Idol with their dolls. Genea had written her own song. She created the lyrics and melody from scratch. And y'all? It was good. Every bit.

All this time, I've thought she might be interested in acting but I didn't do much about that either. Not too many choices until she got to high school. However, I discovered in this bizarre little town exists a performing arts studio. Dancing, acting, singing, performing, back of house, piano, violin, guitar. The kids that go there do local commercials. The instructors occasionally take time off to perform on stage. Perfect!

See, I've always thought a person should use their strengths. Even if your strengths are not always what another person might consider positive. An example is a family member with severe OCD. It can take him hours to leave the house. However he is the equivalent of a rocket scientist and that perseverance has led to a highly successful career. So with that in mind, this is what I thought Genea could use to her benefit-

Screaming= projecting your voice to the back of the house
Constant attention seeking= being watched on stage
Hypervigilance= knowing all the lines and marks
Lying= pretending something is true with all your heart
Histrionic fits/tantrums etc= emoting with conviction

(side note: we asked her to show us some of it at home and she did a whole bunch but none of it was hers. She had the lines of every single other performer memorized. Not one of her own. Hypervigilance. Gold level.)

Last spring she took a class in performing- acting and singing. And at the 3 hour and 45 minute show (where I nearly died of butt rot from sitting all that time) for all the students, she had a 4 minute skit. It was amazing. She got on stage and I couldn't hear a word. I would have tried to lip read but she was facing away from the audience. Slowly, and I swear this is true, I could actually watch her gain confidence. Her voice got louder. She turned a little and faced the side. She stood up straighter. Then she faced the audience! And then she started acting! By the time it was over she was just as good as the kids who had been there for years!

And so now she has this. This thing, that she's good at. No matter what else happens in her life, she has this. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Once in awhile, it's awesome!

I received an email recently asking if I would be willing to help promote the new Barbie movie- Barbie Mariposa and the Fairy Princess.

Ummmm, yeah sure okay.


'Cause if I didn't, there are 2 tween girls roaming this house who would make me pay for my egregious error in judgement for at least the next 8- 10 years. Quite likely more.

So I agreed to write a post, and the movie people sent us dolls featured in the movie, Barbie and Catania. The excitement! The thrill! The massive amount of cool mom points!

And so, while I'm not sure this is exactly what the marketing department had in mind, I'm going to tell a little story.

When Genea first arrived in our home at the age of 4, she brought all of her possessions with her. DVD's and VCR tapes included as well as tons of toys. Most everything was brand spanking new, as she refused to play with toys. Anyway, as I've noted in the past, she moved in and spent the next 4 years give or take screaming, tantrumming and flipping across the ceiling. The most I could hope for her to do, other than those preferred activities, was about 2 minutes with a book or 10 minutes of a PBS show. That's it. Oh, or sleeping. Though even sleep only allowed her peace for a few hours at a time.

Rest assured, I tried everything. Good idea's, recommended idea's, bad and even super sucky ideas. Nothing. She would do nothing longer than 10 minutes if it distracted her from her goal of 12 hours of screaming a day.

Except for one thing. In her boxes of precious possessions was included a Barbie movie. When she asked if she  could watch it, I agreed easily. Couldn't hurt. Might help.

Genea sat down and watched that Barbie movie from start to finish. It was a long one, about 2 hours, and it was amazing.

So when I say we are Barbie fans in this house, I mean more like super-fans. I mean like Packers fans don't got nothing on  us. In the early days, those Barbie movies were the only thing that could hold Genea's attention.

Well, both of my girls were beyond thrilled with the dolls. They played pretend with them for -I'm not kidding I swear- 3 hours straight. The dolls both convert from "normal Barbie's" to Awesomely Beautiful Fairy Princess Royalty with a little button. Here they are....

Teena was so excited in the morning morning she risked speaking to me before my coffee to say she had written a story about her doll and was going to read it to me!

Barbie Mariposa and the Fairy Princess. Check it out.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Abandonment- How could I forget?

Genea has been with us for six years now. Having arrived at the age of 4, she'd spent those years split evenly between an orphanage and a different family.

Lots of issues from those early days have held on. One thing I doubt will ever go away is her distaste for change. I've often said, Genea has the rest of her life scheduled to be exactly the same as yesterday. She relies on a rigid adherence to time. If she sees me reading near lunchtime,  she begins to show anxiety. She'll make a show of getting up to check the time. Lots stomping loudly and sighing with voice. As 11:50 approaches, we eat at noon, she'll start to ask me if I want to know the time. No thank you, I'll say, I know the time. A few minutes later she'll start to discuss the time with herself. Oh good, she'll say, it's almost noon. If that fails to raise my attention, she starts to comment on her hunger level in relation to the time. MMm, I can't wait for lunch, she tells the air in the room. I'm so happy lunch is coming soon. Panic starts to set in and she comments to herself that her stomach hurts. Must be because I'm hungry, she says.

Usually by now I'll start to laugh a little. Not to be mean, but because it's kind of cute now that she's able to handle herself better. My sitting and reading does not fit in her cycle of expectations and is a change. That makes it bad. She knows lunch is coming, she knows she has never missed a meal in this house. Not once. Never. But she still needs to reassure herself that if things do not appear in the anticipated way, that indeed I'm not messing things up, about to skip the very first meal in approximately 2,190 successive occasions.

So when our little cat Bailey died, we knew that she would be devastated that something so important had happened without any of her control. She was devastated but okay. Somehow, maybe all these years of counseling, she dealt with it as well as could be expected. In fact it was Teena who went off her rocker and skyrocketed into the WTF Zone.

About a week later, The Husband took a brief trip to Ohio to help his grandmother move.

Somehow then, I failed miserably and fantastically, to consider that her father going away would set off her triggers and alarms and leave her fighting in the dust scrambling to regain her traction using all of her old ways to communicate. None of which involved words.

I took the three of us to visit my parents for the weekend. Share the responsibility a little. Genea lost almost every skill she has learned. Unable for even a minute to distract herself from what her psychiatrist calls her woodpecker behavior. If there was a way to get my attention on her, good/ bad/ indifferent was irrelevant. She came at me like a starving mosquito. When that failed, she went after Teena. Following that she started going after my parents dogs. Determined.

Because I am dense like that sometimes, I was still chalking it up to missing Bailey. I noticed though, we were sitting at my moms counter next to each other on the stools eating some fruit, her pupils were dilated way more than there was a need for. I knew then, that something else was going on and asked her.

"I'm worried about Daddy", she told me.

Oh geez. With everything else going on I never even considered she was worried about her Dad. But HELLO her cat just died and now her dad disappeared. Sheesh.

"What are you worried might happen?"
"I'm worried he might not come back. Or he might die. Or I'll never see him again".

In my defense, it's been SIX YEARS. Genea is 10 now. And yet, when something confusing happened, an unexpected change, and her control was swiped away, she immediately fell back into an intense fear of abandonment. An almost primal fear state I had failed to even consider might come around after all this time. Yet it did. With bells on.

Well, bells, a torch and a grenade.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Winner

Well, I greatly underestimated the crazy stuff that other schools could come up with for parents to buy. I thought for sure my own entry would take the win (3 empty 2liter soda bottles?) and after all, there was no prize. However, as I sat innocently clicking through comments, gigging to myself, along comes Hevel from www.Kosherkola.com to knock the rest of us out of the parking lot. Down the hill and through the weeds. To lay soggy in a marsh full of trash and brain munching amoeba infested waters.This is his comment, in full.

"Let me see, my kid in art school is required to take in 3 posable figures from IKEA. He already took in three last year. We have one at home, and it's impossible those three have been worn out already.

Last year (we homeschool this year) one of the kids had to take in used or new, blank label CDs or DVDs. They were used for Sukkot decorations. Since we always label our CD's I had to buy all new ones.

100 toilet paper rolls for the two in gan, each. No idea what they did with those. 1 kg of potatoes for the 4th graders each. At least I know they used them for a stamping project.

2 bags of wallpaper glue. When my kid went to school in Hungary, a class of 30 pupils used a bag for a whole year, and then the teacher had enough left over to glue wallpaper on the beaten up wardrobes to make them presentable for the following year. "

Wow. I mean, to me it sounds like someone is moving to a new house and is expecting parents to foot the costs for the redecorating and bathroom needs of the owners.

So Hevel wins. Big time!

Monday, August 19, 2013

A Contest! No Prize!

Once again, for the 6th time, back- to- school shopping rolled around in my life. This year, I did things a little differently. Designed to maximize my comfort and reduce personal stress, I set myself up with a clipboard across from the teeming mass of supplies, children, and parents that reminded me of a maggot infestation. I called out what was needed and assigned a name. The called upon child then raced through the aisles, tossing aside ugly pencils and weird notebooks to acquire the needed item. The child brought the item, told me the price, and I approved it for the cart.

It went well!

Typically I require the cheapest, store brand  junk available but I allowed them each one "luxury item" this year. They could pick one special, fancy, pricey thing. They both chose pencil containers.

I present to you the selections.

This is Teena's. She loves color in a mind altering way. I find my eyes seizing up just looking at it.

This is Genea's. She loves wallpaper.

And amazingly, she managed to find a reflective, metallic bag that practically glows! The full glory could not be contained to just one photo.

Last year for some reason, Genea's room teacher requested 48 pencils. The language teacher requested a set of 24. Other teachers, music, pe etc, requested a few pencils here and there. The grand total pencils I sent my 9 year old to school with that year was 78. All of which had to be sharpened!!! I was flabbergasted. However, I regretfully have to acknowledge that Genea "ran out" of pencils around January (code for *hucked them in the trash thinking she would not have to do work that way*) and expected me to buy more. Without sympathy, I told her to dig around under her bed until she found some. It had become one of her "things".

Anyway, the contest without a prize is the most ridiculous item on your childs school supply list this year. It should be known that I am prone to announcing contests in this vein only because I myself believe I have the winning entry. With that disclaimer, I give you my submission:

3 empty 2 liter soda bottles. Not green or tinted. Rinsed, with the label removed.


I could go off on childhood obesity and blah blah blah but that would be too easy. My objection here is, we don't drink soda. If I buy it, I actually go find those little half- size cans. Sometimes clear soda in bottles for a sick kid. That's it. I surely do not ever buy soda in liter measured quantities.

I'm guessing they are for some super cool experiment, or to make a lesson of I dunno', gravity or something. It's just strange. (3) 2 liter soda bottles, 963 individual tissues, only 56 pencils, and some folders that she will bring home in June of 2014 untouched by human hands. Etcetera.

SPECIAL BONUS NON PRIZE to the first person who can tell me how to get those cool social media icons embedded in a post (and working of course). I can get them to show on a sidebar, but using the gadget things, nothing shows up when I drag it over. It shows on my template, but not on the live blog. Argck!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Conclusion: Birth Mother information

To summarize, I found a profile on facebook where the name matched that of my daughters birth mother. I freaked out a little, wondering all sorts of things, including "what if I contact her and she wants Genea back" as well as my startling reaction. I heavily considered the statement of an adoption professional that adoptive parents should never participate in any search activities when it comes to the birth parents.

I will add, the lecturer who stated parents should never get involved is an "adoptee" herself, and works with adult adoptee's. In the comments of the post on Casa Bicicleta was the point that 100% of grown, international adoptees at another seminar reportedly said that adoptive parents should always keep their hands off the search.

Regardless of that opinion, I decided I had to do something. Genea may resent my intrusion some day in the future. However, I believe if she found out I could have searched and didn't, and the information changed and was gone forever, it could harm our relationship permanently. The adoptee's referenced above were from Korea. I don't know about the reliability of records there, or resident mobility, but I think there is decent documentation. In a country like China for example, entire villages are mowed down for progress. Children are abandoned anonymously and if there is any link, I think you have to race to preserve it. In Haiti, there are often not even records of birth. Haiti additionally had the earthquake which killed so many and dislocated so many others. If an adoptive parent has a trace of information they'd really ought to hustle to keep it for their adopted child. In my opinion.

Anyway, I did it. After deciding I was thinking too much and needed to just do something already, I sent a private message to the woman on facebook. All it said was "are you in Ukraine?"

I checked my private message box every few.... seconds, for a long time. Despite the fact that facebook plops a bright red circle on the box if there is a message, I clicked and checked anyway just in case there were errors. Nothing. Several weeks went by and nothing. I had no way to know if the woman had seen the message. The profile remained unchanged.

At one point, I was on my phone using the facebook app and clicked in to see if anything had happened. Come to discover, on the app it notes if the message recipient has seen the message and date stamps it. She had seen it. No response.

Of course, it takes me awhile sometimes to pull all my brain cells together to work towards a single goal and I realized- she may very well not speak English. Argh. Like Russia, Ukraine uses the Cyrillic alphabet. Have you seen this? It is extremely difficult! The government of Ukraine uses Ukrainian as their language, however large portions of the country use primarily Russian.

*Insert tons of mind numbing research including an effort to translate information with no exact sound- to- sound equivalent here.*

Using a translation program, I sent another message. I know Ukrainian pride is very important, especially concerning independence from Russia. I desperately did not want to be culturally offensive by using the wrong language. I'd sought out advice from a Ukrainian immigrant (thanks to a connection with Lindsay) and discovered the subject of language was even more complex than I thought. I finally decided if the government uses Ukrainian, it probably has the best chance of being understood.
This is my message:
Hello. I am searching for a woman with your name from Abcxyz, Ukraine. The woman would be ## years old. If that fits you, please reply. Thank you.

So, as of now, nothing. No response no matter how I click into facebook. I don't know if I'm being ignored, which is fine, or unseen, which would be something else.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

And then there is this.....

To continue, having unexpectedly found a name matching that of Genea's birth mother on facebook, I was frozen in place as to what to do next.

About a year ago I read a fascinating post on the blog Casa Bicecleta. The blog author had attended a seminar presented by a well known adoption expert (who she never names). Muddling through emotional incendiary explosives as one does at these things, she listened closely as the subject of birth parent searches came up.

The lecturer was  asked "Is it okay for the adoptive parents to search for the birth parents?". The blogger (CB) had spent a long time considering the many facets of taking on the search for a young child adopted internationally. Whether it was the right thing to do, whether it would do more harm than good. 

I expected CB would go on to explain the speakers answer in terms of "if/then" and geared up to skim the section.
IF the child remembers their birth parents, THEN you should make contact.
IF the child's birth parents do not want contact, THEN you should respect that.
IF the child has medical needs, THEN search.

I was one hundred percent surprised to read on and find the presenter gave an answer in absolute terms.
No, she said. Never.


Searching out birth parents is something I thought of as my responsibility! To get what information we  could get and hold it for Genea until she was of an age to either handle it or when she became an adult.

I was highly tempted to dismiss the opinion. CB goes on to reiterate the status of the lecturer. Well known, highly respected, with great insights and loads of personal experience (still no name).

However, something I have discovered many times on this 'adoption journey' is, I may not always understand. I might just have to accept certain ideas as facts which I will never comprehend.

At any rate, CB proceeds to analyze her own beliefs in reaction to the lecturers statement. Here is an excerpt:

 And when I think about searching....I'm trying to think if she would want me to do that FOR her.  And I'm not sure she would want me to do that.  I want to give her information.  Because I want to help her.  I think that having information will make her feel better, having answers to her questions will give her a narrative that she can latch on to--she's a very concrete person.  I think a story will help.  I.  I.  I.  I think.  I want.  I suppose.  Mostly because I know for myself I would want information, I would want to have that, I would need it, it would make me feel better.  I, me, my needs, my wants, what I think, I feel.

And then, if I try to think of myself and my Mother......if I try to put myself in Bicicleta Girl's place.....


If I think of my Mother trying to do something like doing a search for me....  I have a feeling it would piss me off. I don't know.  I was, am, continue to be, fiercely independent. And if my Mother tried to hone in on my story and make herself part of it or tried to decide what I wanted, something so personal, something so excruciatingly personal as my Birth story....yeah....I would hate that.

I never thought of it that way before.  I always thought of it as me, the Mom, giving something to my daughter.  Something to help her.  Something to arm her with.  I wanted to give my girl some information to help her.  I wanted to be the one to GIVE her what she needed to be strong.  And you know what?  Maybe she doesn't want what I have to give her.  Maybe she wants to get it all by herself.

Mmm, yes, the "I"'s have summed up my opinion perfectly.
Part 4 to come (surely you didn't think I could keep it simple?)

What is your perspective?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

To continue.... birth mother considerations

It all seems rather anti- climatic now, but I'm going to continue anyway as I had planned. Since it got so dragged out though, I want to say that in the end there is no connection made.
(highlight the black bar to preview the ending. I feel bad this got dragged out so if you just want to know already, you can find out)

I had poked around Facebook and found an entry with a name that matched that of Genea's birth mother. The profile had been put up less than 2 weeks prior to my finding it.

To say I was shocked to find a matching name with such coincidental timing would be like saying eh, it can get chilly in Wisconsin . More like an earthquake and a blizzard hit simultaneously. Suddenly I could hear my blood rushing through my veins,  my stomach clenched and contracted, my eyes felt hot.

My very first thought was "what if that is her and she wants Genea back?". What if I contact her and she says the relinquishment was a huge mistake?  Once the thought barreled in, there was nothing I could do. I couldn't not think it through.

Then I was even more rattled, because the follow up was not, No Way In Hell. Unbidden, my brain listed a series of pro's and con's. Another part of my brain felt betrayed. How could I even think that? How could I defend the thought? What is wrong with me?

Suspicious of myself, I pondered a few ideas. Of course I love Genea. Of course I want her. Of course she is part of our family. But what if it would be better for her to be with her biological mother?

Logically I know that disrupting Genea even further, shipping her to a country she doesn't know, to a person she doesn't know, probably would not benefit her. But logic and feelings don't always meet neatly.

I think of the story of The Red Thread. It's a Chinese legend that says people who are destined to be important to each other are connected by a red thread. It may stretch and twist, but will never break. It is often referenced in adoption. Adopting parents sometimes consider their child was meant to be theirs and the red thread brought them together. Before learning that concept (today, on Wikipedia, checking my reference), I always thought the red thread was the child's connection to China and birth parents. Regardless there are many who scoff at it as a cliché, or as an excuse adoptive parents use to cover their discomforts. Some people consider it vile that the adoption community has hijacked the story in the first place.

Personally, I love it and I think it's beautiful.

Following the legend then, certainly Genea has a thread to me. Hers winds and twists over oceans and continents connecting her to people I've not met. Truly significant people I'll probably never even know about. When I think of my biological daughter I imagine a thick red cord. A fat cable even. It's a short, tight little thing.  Nausea provoking the thought may be, but if somehow we were separated when she was born, the thread would be there connecting us forever.

Anyway. Following my thoughts through, how could I not consider the feelings of another birth mother? Impossible.

That's if I were to contact her. That's if the mystery Facebook woman were to even be the right person. Myriad "if's".

More coming.

Friday, July 26, 2013

and we go on

We all miss our little cat Bailey. We keep "seeing" him places, the corner of something white catching us off guard for a moment, oh! there he is! But he isn't.

In an effort to let Boo Boo, our gray tabby, know that they love him so much, the girls are making extra sure they show him. I don't know if it's that they miss Bailey and want to hang around a cat, or if they think Boo must be lonely now that he is an "only" cat. Unfortunately, Boo doesn't particularly care for children. All those sudden movements, the unpredictable shrieking, the desire to pet a cat who does not want to be petted, meh, he'd just as soon have nothing to do with them. Plus he is 16. So he's not likely to change

Horror of horrors, they even want to pick him up. So demeaning.
To date, he has not scratched either of their faces off. I think they are quite lucky.

So, they merrily push ahead, trying hard to make friends with a cat who strongly feels he has enough friends.

Oh Boo Boo.


Thank you so much for all the kind words left on the last post comments. I keep reading them over, even though they make me teary a little. Our cats are our family. Lots of people feel the same. It's horrible to lose one but I guess it would be more awful not to have had them

I will be getting back to the previous subject in a few days to finish it out. :)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Little Bailey

The Husband and I decided to talk to the girls about our little cat. We wanted to give them the chance to say goodbye, tell him anything they want him to know, and in general get their closure going.
Both girls were surprised, which in turn surprised me. It seemed obvious Bailey was very ill but somehow, his imminent death did not make their radar.

He was laying down under a chair and we encouraged both girls to crawl on the floor to get closer to him and express their feelings.

Teena went first. She asked him to please not die. She said, Daddy will be so sad if you die Bailey, stay with us. We'll miss you so much.

Genea went next. She said, Goodbye Bailey, and she was done. She spent the next 15 minutes drawing hearts with crying eyes. She compulsively demanded I view her efforts every other minute or so.

Thank you so so very much for the lovely comments. It's nice to know so many people understand, he is not "just a cat". I appreciate it more than you can know.

He has always loved to sit in containers (though not anything so undignified as an actual cat bed). We set this one by his favorite window and put some cushioning in it. He had a lifelong interest in ornithology.
Bailey died yesterday. It was excruciating. His will to live was not overpowered by the systemic shutdown of his body and he lingered. In the end, we had to do the humane thing.
Genea sobbed and sobbed. She had to be prodded to accept comfort from her Dad and I, but she did. She is so sad. She is also determined to make every symbolic gesture of her love for him as is possible.
Teena is a mess. It's hard to watch her, she has never experienced anything so hard in her little life. She has no idea what to do with her big feelings and they are coming out everywhere. It's striking, this difference. Genea's years of therapy and history of traumatic events seem to have fully prepared her to handle something so difficult. Teena, not at all.
We had huge bowls of ice cream and talked about our memories of Bailey. We happily coated our feelings with sugar and spoke of the funny things he would do. It's happy-sad. Enjoying the memories and missing him even more strongly because of them.
I have simultaneous urges to never ever have another pet, and to race off and get a kitten right now.
Boo Boo, our other cat, is hopelessly lost. He used to give Bailey his baths, and is wandering the house looking for his baby.
It's hard to realize I also feel relieved that the fight is over for him. We miss him.


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