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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Highlights of Being 15

15 started with a great pool party to celebrate your birth!

You started high school in August and celebrated with an over the top fun slumber pool party that your friends are still talking about.

You finally got a new phone and have behaved with it long enough to enjoy it.

You enjoyed school immensely this year, after years of hating school.

You achieved A/B honor roll at a minimum every semester and straight A's a couple of times, earning the academic letter.

You signed up for dual enrollment/advanced diploma for the remainder of high school, because you started having goals. What amazing progress, going from not believing in a future to planning for a very bright future.

We took you and BFF to dinner theatre to see Beauty and the Beast. Not the Disney Version, but over the top crazy version, semi-redneck. Poor Beast, at the end, that mansion turned back into a double wide home.

We gave you tickets to see Carrie Underwood for your birthday and since your dad hates country music, we had a girls night and took your friend, K3.  A was there too and we had an amazing time.

We took you and K2 to the Make America Rock Again concert and she loved it so much. K2 is such a respectful kid and we really enjoyed her.  She was stunned to find out you weren't kidding about having a baby sister.

We took you and B to see Cirque du Soleil.  B is insanely crazy and cute in small doses, but has no manners and would get on anybodys nerves long term.  Not using utensils for a upper scale Mexican restaurant, really?  Her parents said she talked non-stop about how fun it was though. It was nice to be able to share experiences with somebody not able to do that themselves.

We took you and BFF to see Santa and the Nutcracker.  BFF is so adorbs.  Moose sat on your BFF's head while y'all unwrapped your BFF hoodies.

You had 4 boyfriends this year, only 1 of which you wanted to "go OUT" with.  We like him.  The others, not so much. I didn't want you out with them anyway. I trusted them as far as we could throw them.

You went to several parties and even went out of town with BFF to trampoline park. All of that was a really big deal.  You used to not even tell us about parties, not wanting to go, now you're a social butterfly.

You had your first "date", fishing with Z.

We took you and Z to see Blue Oyster Cult and him and dad had a great time at dinner talking about video games.  Y'all shared a funnel cake and afterwards you said "Did you see Z feeding me? did you think it was sweet? I bet most people did, but I bet he did it to make sure I didn't eat the whole thing"

We went to VA Beach and you finally didn't hate it, with it being crowded.  You got a henna tattoo of Tweety Bird.

You got a car--cute Beetle with your school mascot on the license tag and the car is your school main color.  Your got your learners permit and driving me insane with the constant need to drive, even when we have nothing to do.

Your cousin got married and you handled the crowd, the change in schedule and the timing like a champ, we were so proud of you. We went to visit her a couple months before for the shower and you played with the little kids there.

We went to a water park with your sister and she has made enough progress that she let ME go on a water slide with her when you weren't interested in going.  She also was nearly in tears when we left, showing that she's learning healthy attachments.

We went to the Broadway show of Rudolph for Christmas, which was insanely fun. You thought you were too old for it, until we got there and you found out how appropriate it was for all ages.  You said you hoped that they were nearby this year too, so we could go again.

We went to see Cheap Trick, one of dads favorites, and you got another guitar pick for your collection.  Your sister called while we were there and asked us to bring her home for Thanksgiving. We weren't able to, so we went to her for Thanksgiving and ate at Cracker Barrel.

We went to see Rick Springfield, moms teen heartthrob, and mom jumped out and hugged him and you couldn't believe it.

Mom went to Arizona and you handled mom being gone like a pro and video chatted with me a couple times.  You sprained your wrist while I was gone though.

We went to the Broadway show of Cinderella. It was good, but I think you liked Rudolph tons better, probably partially for seating.

We took you and I to see Pat Benetar and John Waite in concert and you two were roasting all of us old people and having entirely too much fun with snapchat filters on random strangers.

Your uncle from Germany visited and we all went to a cajun festival together.  I finally got to try alligator there, you stuck with your old standby, chicken nuggets.

We attended high school graduation together and you didn't sit with me, being a big high school girl, you sat with friends.  I think I'm suppose to be offended, but I was nothing but proud.

15 was amazing and I'm so excited to see what 16 brings for you and us.
I love you baby bear! To the moon and back!!

Sweet 16

Baby girl monkey butt turned 16 last month.
Where does the time go?

We had a great sweet 16 celebration. There was 70% chance of rain that day, but not a drop of rain, perfect weather for a great pool party.

More friends in attendance this year, the attendance goes up every year.   They had a crazy good time. We extended time of party to include lunch of a hotdog cookout and the party was suppose to be 12-4.  As it turns out, the first person arrived before 11 and the last person to leave (other than cousin who tends to stay til bedtime) was around 6:30.

We invited her baby sister, who ended up being able to attend. This is only the 2nd party since kiddo has lived here that she was able to attend.

Kiddo said it was amazing being able to have baby sister, boyfriend and best friend all in the same location.

So many people invited that we had to have cupcakes in addition to the cake this year.  

BFF spent the night, the kids all had an amazing time and I got thank yous and "can't wait for the next party she has" from alot of her friends and a "You have the most amazing parties". 

We held the party the Saturday before her bday since her birthday fell during the week, so for her birthday I took the day off, hubs and I took her and her boyfriend to the park. They invited me to play truth or dare with them, lol, and then we took them to the Mexican Restaurant, where kiddo got sung to, wore a sombrero and got whipped cream pushed in her face by the staff.

A birthday to remember! 

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Progress in Dating

Our beautiful angel has had a string of inappropriate boyfriends for the past few years.  She wouldn't even ask to date them after she got of age to date because she knew they were inappropriate, but it was as if she couldn't begin to be interested in a decent guy.

In February, she came home and said she finally dumped A, the guy everybody said over and over wasn't good enough for her.  Then she came home and said B was her boyfriend.  Yes, A, then B.  I did my homework and found he was a scumbag too.  He even looked scary like he'd do something to her.  She came home and said she broke up with him, that he was a jerk.

We laughingly asked if she was going thru the alphabet for her high school years and if she really wanted that reputation of so many boyfriends. We asked who all at school had names starting with C, since she was going thru the alphabet.  It became a running joke and for a few weeks, she left boys alone and was telling the creeps no.

Then came the day...she came home and said remember "Z" that I've been friends with since 7th grade, well, he's my new boyfriend.

Yeah, we had to laugh about her jumping right to Z.

She said "I decided you're right, it's better to date a friend or nobody at all".  Not only that, but a week later, over dinner, it was "Mom, Dad, I need to ask you something" She actually wanted to go OUT with this boy. Finally one she trusted.

She's been dating him a few months, we like him and they are friends and not 24/7 on each other.  When we got ready to officially meet him (we'd met him at back to school previously, but not in a setting where we got to know each other), she said "Dad, I think I'm worried because you two will talk and I'll be left out, because y'all are alot alike".

Finally, she liked somebody like her dad and not somebody like the past people in her life that ended up in jail, etc.

They are similar enough that I feel like it's not going to be long term, but it's definitely a step in the right direction.  It's a promising sign that she's looking for stability and goodness and not just that bad boy chemistry.

Momma brag

It's been awhile since I've posted, but I needed a place to brag on my baby, so here goes.

Kiddo just turned 16 last month. She was 11 when she moved in, a short 4 months after being separated from her younger sister.

Along the years, we have had sibling visits and watched them progress from high anxiety short visits to fun longer visits.

When our kiddo first moved in, getting rid of any material thing was unheard of.  She'd lost so many things, she'd cling to everything she could.

Next month, baby sis will be 13.  Baby sis still doesn't have a home.

As I was putting together a box of gifts for her, kiddo said she had some books for her and asked for my help to get them together.  They were books we'd given her for her 13th birthday, as well as books we'd given her when shark week entered her life.  She hand picked which ones were appropriate for her, flipping thru, laughing and remembering us and our talks with those books.  She picked out the ones that her sister could read and self guide to learn the necessities and left the one on her shelf that required parental involvement and left the one that was more difficult to follow.

I was so impressed when kiddo explained her logic in her choices. She really has grown so much and has such a good head on her shoulders now.

So, baby sis is getting a good collection of teenage situation books by American Girl as well as the American Medical Associations Guide to Becoming a Teen Girl handbook.

Today we went to her psych for update.  Back in December, she had one med significantly reduced and today she got another med reduced for trial purposes.  I couldn't be more pleased with how hard our baby girl has worked and how well adjusted she's getting.

I hope I didn't jinx us with this post.

I love that kid.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Momza's Crazy Adventure to Arizona

I won a trip for 2 to Arizona from work. The 2nd person has to be at least 21 so that meant my 2nd couldn't be kiddo.
Hubs couldn't go because we didn't feel comfortable not having one of us with kiddo. My BFF has health issues and she wouldn't be able to handle a trip like that so I invited a friend from work that manages a branch across the state.

I didn't get home until almost midnight Thursday night and had to wake up at 4 am Friday morning for my flight, my plane arrived in AZ about 12:15 and my luggage WAS NOT there!! Eek, had to file a report and turns out my bag was at Dallas.

Then we went to transportation and a driver was suppose to pick us up. He wasn't there. I had to scramble and find a number for the hotel and ask for somebody handling travel for our company and they said driver left, thinking I wasn't there?! what the?! they sent somebody to pick us up but it took 30 minutes to get them there but they upgraded our ride there to a Cadillac Escalade.

When we got to the resort, my room had been given away because I wasn't there?!!!?? But no worries, they upgraded me to a casita, lol

The gift card for incidentals wasn't there either. By this point, E and I were STARVED!!! We went to walk to the restuarant near the lobby, but got lost and ended up in a senior living center, lol (the resort is 65 acres and our casita was on the very west edge of it), shortly before 4, we managed to find the lobby. I'm all icky feeling since I couldn't change when we got there because I have no luggage, so we asked the lobby which of the restaurants I would be allowed to go in in my travel clothes that was close enough to find without getting lost again. Lunch was at 4 (after being awake 12 hours). Finally, I was relaxed and chilling. lol.

E wasn't though, because she was upset that I was having to buy lunch on my dime because the company gift card they promised wasn't there for me and it was going to be about $60) HR lady came in and we waved and chatted with her and I let her know that my luggage was delayed and that the gift card that was suppose to be waiting for me wasn't. She called a girl and left message her to find me and get me the gift card. K (HR lady that we were talking to) told me to go shopping and get one outfit for the night and turn it in to get reimbused and she bought our $60 lunch for us).

Can't say enough good about this place:

What was possibly BEST hamburger I've ever had in my life. Oh, and birds ate with us.

We went shopping and I got clothes for the night and bath and body works and the cab was $15 for 2 miles, lol came back and was dropped off at lobby and we asked bellhop for golf cart ride to the casita and she called the other bellhop to get cart. I said I was running into gift shop to get drinks to take to room because I was feeling thirsty. Emma came with me, we ran into friends and 2 drinks and 3 hours later, we remembered we had a golf cart waiting on us, lol.

When we came back thru the lobby, the girl looked at my face and just died laughing. I said "I'm sorry, we ran into people and 3 hours later, I remembered we asked for a ride". They were so sweet and it wasn't like they rejected giving people rides waiting on us and she said it was no big deal and she was glad we were having fun anyway.

I can't say enough good things about that resort.

I have been there once before, but it was years ago and it was even better than I remembered and I still recalled it as the best place I'd ever stayed in my life:

11:30 pm AZ time, my luggage showed up. That's 1:30 my normal time.

Next morning, we get up at 7 am AZ time because we want to fill in every second we can since we missed out the day before on so much, still no gift card. Company had breakfast waiting, we decided to go to the ghost town and have fun. We weren't able to go the day before as planned because by the time we got in, ghost town was closed. I was much more annoyed about not getting to do activities the first day than the fact that the luggage was delayed.

E said for me to call HR and get card before we went since the day could get expensive. After a few calls I tracked down M (the girl K had contacted), she met us in the lobby and gave us the card. We asked a bellhop about a ride and he said the cab to the ghost town would run 127 each way and suggested uber instead, lol. He helped us get set up and got us a $15 coupon, but uber doesn't take the gift card, lol. So my money again, $30 there, $45 back. lol. Get to the ghosttown and buy our ticket for 3 of the exhibits and hand them the card we got. They don't take cards, it's 1837, they need cash, lol. You can't even make this up. I just fell across the counter at that point.

I had to call hubs and get the pin number to our credit card because I had to go to an ATM machine and you can't use gift cards on an ATM. so our money again, lol. We went ziplining, rode a historical train tour, went in a mystery house and toured a gold mine. By then we were ready for lunch and found a cute place for burgers and hotdogs. They even took cards. yay!! Gave them my gift card, ummmm, we don't take American Express, only Visa and Mastercard. I was dying laughing at this point, probably looking like an insane person. I paid cash and we ate, explored the ghost town more, watched a gun fight, toured a church, bought souveniers. The "cat house" I wanted to visit was closed.

Tired, we called uber to pick us back up and headed back to our casita. On the way we saw a casino and I got excited thinking about moms ashes and that she'd like to visit there and asked E if she was interested in going to the casino after dinner. The uber driver said it was a nicer one closer to our place and gave us recommendations, etc. E was too excited, she said she hoped I wasn't kidding because she REALLY wanted to do that.

Dinner was a company required dinner (the only thing we were required to do with others). She asked me what time dinner was over (it was open and no close time) and I said no specific time, she said look at her when I was ready to go and we'd go. Not long after dinner, we bailed, lol. Oh, but before dinner, there was a reception. I said I wanted to go to the orange grove and then hit reception late. We ran into a golf cart guy that picked us up and we forgot about the orange grove, lol. We had an amazing time at dinner, but still excited about our adventures planned.

After dinner, we hitched a ride with a golf cart driver, but he got lost. We ran into our normal golf cart driver and he told the guy that he didn't know what he was doing and that they needed to take us, that he could drive the local resort people and he'd take those of us in casitas. We were dying laughing. Our new golf driver told the one that was lost that he'd taken us there numerous times and we'd be fine. ALL of us were laughing.

We changed into our play clothes and called uber to pick us up after dinner and we headed to casino. As you can guess, I made next to nothing, lol, I quit quick knowing how my trip was going. E came out ahead about $250 and gave me $45 (she made me use $25 there and the other $20 was for the trip back to the resort--uber was $27 each way, my money because they don't take the gift card, only normal cards, lol). We ran into people from our company that we had met at the dinner from other states, so we caught a ride with them and saved some moolah, lol. So, I told E since we forgot the orange grove, we needed to wake up 1/2 hour early and go see it and then head to lobby to check out. We set my alarm for 6:10 am, since we had to leave in the company provided bus at 7:30 to go to the airport.

Alarm goes off and I felt so groggy from getting in late night night before. This girl doesn't do partying and late hours.

I get up though and take my shower and then wake E up. She looks at me like I've grown 2 heads. My phone had auto advanced an hour for time change, but Arizona doesn't have time change. I woke up an hour early for nothing.

We forget we were walking to the orange grove and got on a golf cart, where our little guy spins around the corner and drops my luggage. I scream "I can't believe I forgot to go the orange grove". At that point we didn't even have time. He said "girls, I've got this, I can ride you over real quick and get you back in time". He dropped our luggage at the bus and told them to give us 5 minutes. The orange grove smelled so amazing.

We head back, get in the bus and go to the airport.

Once at the airport, I pull out the gift card and go to the kiosk, check in and want to use the gift card to pay for my baggage claim. They don't take that gift card, so I use my own money again. 1st leg of the journey home went well, connecting flight was delayed. I hate the Charlotte airport so of course that's the one I was stuck in during the delay. Get back home after finally getting on my plane and my luggage isn't there.

What?! Luggage? Missing? Both ways?

How does that even happen? It's 11 am and I still don't have my luggage. It was promised by 5:30. I called, they do have it and it will be delivered, but good grief. What a ton of challenges for so much fun and yes, the fun WAY out weighed the bad.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

The broken road

5 years ago today, there was a little girl visiting for the weekend that woke us up crazy early. She was so beautiful and spunky.

We assumed that since a visit was planned with us, it was because we were going to be chosen to be her parents. It's unusual for a child to be visiting multiple families.  During that weekend, she mentioned to us that she was visiting another family the following weekend.

A few issues happened with that little girl outside of the visits that caused her worker to delay her decision a little longer than we thought it would be.  

That's what we were told though. We didn't know then it was really a different reason.

We weren't the ones chosen and it would be several months before we realized that there was a grander plan that was coming true and the perfect daughter was just around the corner, one that we were meant to parent forever and would instantly fall in love with.

That delay happened about the time things were coming to a head in our daughters first adoptive home.  I'm convinced the delay was so that child would go elsewhere and we'd be available for our child.

Thank God for that broken road that led us straight to our daughter <3

I can't imagine life without her. The moment I found out about her though I knew why WE went through all we did before finding her. Every tear, every rejection was all a part of what needed to happen so we'd be available when it was time for her to be with us.

When I think of those visits vs the visits with our kid was so different, I see now that it just wasn't there.  She was fun, we enjoyed it, but it wasn't like having a daughter with us.  Our baby even felt like our daughter from the very first moment we laid eyes on her.

I was exhausted when we dropped Ms H off after that weekend with us.

When we dropped our kiddo off after the first weekend with us, it felt like she'd only been with us a few hours. I cried that she wasn't going back home with us.  It was like the difference between babysitting and parenting.

Okay, maybe I do believe in love at first sight.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Hyper Vigilance

Complex trauma in a child can create a host of diagnoses aka alphabet soup for a kiddo. Our child was no exception. One of her diagnoses is PTSD and that comes with an extreme sense of hyper vigilance.

One piece of the evidence was her stress level in crowds and noisy situations. Crowds make it more difficult to manage the awareness of any perceived threats nearby, as does a noisier than average situation. When you've been abused for years, you become so aware of all your surroundings at all times, so you can bolt at a moments notice.

It is a survival skill that's used to avoid, minimize or handle situations.

A gift at times, but very draining and difficult in most cases.

Early on, we could tell her stress level would get up if she couldn't see everything around her, have clear ways to the door, be able to hear what was going on and protect herself.  During attachment therapy, one of the things done to monitor what level she was at was her looking around the room for 10 seconds and then closing her eyes and telling everything she could remember in a short time frame.

Literally there would be nothing in the room that she was not aware of being there.

Last week, she went to a friends house for her birthday party. It was the first time visiting that friend.  When I picked her up, as you walk into the house, the laundry area is where you come in at.  I was talking to her friends mom and noticed the decor in the laundry room with the words "laundry today or naked tomorrow" on the wall.

Our laundry hamper broke and we'd ordered a new one, which also has that same phrase on it. When I mentioned her friends laundry room having that on the wall, kiddo looked at me like I grew two heads.  She hadn't even noticed. I was near tears and squealed. Literally.

I looked at hubs and said "Can you believe she didn't even NOTICE that?!".  Hubs knew what I meant but kiddo said "don't make fun of me momza".    I assured her I wasn't making fun of her, that I was actually mentioning it because I am so proud of her that she's made so much progress that her first instinct isn't to check out every detail of her surroundings, but to relax and just enjoy her life.

Obviously I want her aware enough to be safe, but I want her to relax enough that when she's in a safe environment that she can have fun and not be so concerned about how to escape.

Proud momma bear here.  Kiddo has worked so hard on her trauma and made so much progress.

This weekend, she went to the trampoline park with BFF.  I asked if she wanted to put a xanax in her purse in case it was overwhelming there. We hadn't been there before because of the crowds. She said it wasn't necessary. Crowds didn't scare her the same way they used to.  As long as she had somebody with her, she was fine.

She's also JUST started in the past 30 days going into a store by herself.

So much progress.

Thankfully though, this survival skill should help her recognize when somebody is fake or a threat.  I think that will automatically come back when needed.