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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Purity Ring Request

Immediately after Christmas, kiddo said "Momma, I need to talk to you".

Uh oh!

"No, do you know what a purity ring is?"

Yes baby

"Well, it's a promise to not do anything with boys until I find my husband and I want one"

She has mentioned it no less than 1/2 dozen times since then, so we started scouting for one.  I send hubs numerous links and he kept saying "Nope, not good enough, her purity isn't "cheap" so I want her to have something nice"

This is what we landed on. Hubs wasn't happy that the love waits is on the outside instead of the inside. He thinks that will say "challenge" to bratty boys.  I think if she's strong enough to be thinking this, this will help her.

He also didn't want the religious ones since she wasn't making a religious statement, but a statement about how she personally believes for her own reasons.


I realize this doesn't mean she will not change her mind, but this gives me more hope than you can imagine. 

Based on her past and the risk factors, as well as the mistakes she's made with her phone, one of my big fears has always been her getting physically involved with somebody before she's ready.  

The fact that she wants this reminder and is already planning gives me so much hope.

I'm so proud of my baby girl. 

Simple Pleasures

I love that our child isn't materialistic.

She loves gifts, but it really is about the thought for her.

Her love language is even gifts, but it's about the thought behind the gift and that somebody thought of her while out.

Last year, we got her a 42 inch tv for Christmas, and make a tv room out of her playroom for her.  As much as she loved it, she really got super excited over the Pamper Your Dog kit.  See, most people like TV's, including her, but Pamper Your Dog speaks to her as an avid pet lover and a potential future pet spa owner.

This year, hubs was so thrilled because he found the perfect geek gift for her.....the Amazon Echo. She loves it, has a ball asking it silly questions, enjoys having it play any music she wants anytime she wants, but her favorite gift.....a Shawn Mendes pillow.  Her doll had a note "Baby Mendes", which she loved so much because it proved we were paying attention to who her crush is. Everybody would love the geek gift.  The pillow and naming the baby proved we're "into her".

My silly girl!! I love her so much and love that she doesn't have entitlement mentality. She's way more spoiled that most kids as far as what she gets and way less spoiled in what she expects.  I tell her all the time that's why she is rotten, because she appreciates things and doesn't have unrealistic expectations.

She asked for a hoodie, a real looking baby (she now collects dolls), a stuffed Alvin (because she had a stuffed Alvin when she was little and wasn't able to take it with her when she was removed from the bios home) and an Olaf music box.  It was pulling teeth to get her to ask for that much. She's always responding with "You know the type things I like".

She doesn't sit inside playing video games all the time, she enjoys sitting outside on the gazebo in the fresh air with her pups (and mp3 player for the music, but who doesn't love music?)

We have vacation planned and her big excitement isn't about the out of the ordinary stuff, but the stuff like the tire swing in the backyard at the cottage we'll stay at, the hammock

Family & Christmas Traditions

The first year that kiddo lived here, we were on the outs with mother in law, so we created our own Christmas.  It was the first time we hadn't been anywhere for Christmas. My parents have been gone for too long.  We hated not having grandparents for her, but such is life.

We did all the family gifts on Christmas Eve and a nice dinner on our china.  We promptly found out she doesn't like steak or that type thing, as far as beef goes.  That became the end of our prime rib on Christmas Eve tradition.

We made cookies and brownies and directly after dinner opened all our gifts.  We put kiddo to bed early and brought out the Santa stuff.  She woke up about 4 and well all gathered in the living room for Santa fun.  Right after opening the gifts, all 3 of us curled up in our bed and slept for awhile, with kiddo at the foot of the bed, hugging a couple of her favorite gifts.

We used to love to go feed the hungry for Christmas, but it's so crowded that since kiddo moved in, we haven't been able to. She has crowd anxiety bad. If that ever gets better, we'll so be there! 

Somewhere before the next Christmas, mother in law came to her senses and wanted to be in our lives again.  So, the following Christmas, after the Santa stuff, we headed to her house for lunch and join the dysfunctional family for the day.

The following Christmas, she'd cut us out again, so we didn't visit.

This Christmas, our kids 4th Christmas, she called on Christmas Eve and left a message that we were welcome to come up there for Christmas.  It seemed more a show than anything genuine attempt to start an apology, so we didn't go. We did send along the message that the reason we weren't coming was because it was not healthy for our daughter to see family shut us out, then open the door, shut us out again, that family should demonstrate unconditional love and until that was possible, we would be unable to attend. Hubs baby brother came in from Germany. We considered it just for him, but didn't want to be fake, so we invited him here for Christmas Eve and to go out the day after Christmas with us.

So, what are our Christmas traditions?


  • Nutcracker Ballet every year and we let her have a Nutcracker each year.  The last few years, we also let her bring a friend
  • Christmas Eve is the "nicer" dinner. By nicer, I mean sit down at the same time and eat off china.  It's no longer prime rib. One year it was lasaagna, salad and rolls. This year, my company provided a ham, so we made that. It was spiral honey glazed.  We made it into the little sandwiches on Hawaiian rolls, potato salad, baked beans, sausage balls, tons of desserts, macaroni and cheese and soda in crystal. 
  • Christmas Day, we have cinnamon rolls for breakfast and lunch for the grown ups is crossaint rolls filled with smoked salmon and cream cheese with chives and shallots.  The rest of the day is leftovers from Christmas Eve and relaxing.  The kiddo doesn't like salmon so she has them without the salmon inside
  • Had to wake kiddo up this year because we were too excited not to, she thought we were weird. We woke her up at 6. Last year, she woke us up at 3:30.
  • going totally overboard on presents, despite always saying we will "do better this year"
  • cooking cookies together on Christmas Eve
  • peanut butter sandwich and coke left out for Santa, he needs the protein
  • taking toys to the local Toy Drive
  • staying in our pj's all day Christmas
  • letting kiddo eat dessert in bed Christmas Eve right after opening gifts
  • elf on a shelf, but she leaves gifts and love  notes, she doesn't get into mischief.  We don't think she should set a bad example, nor do we think kiddo should feel pressure with the elf watching her, it's for fun only
  • going thru the rich section of town to look at the Christmas lights on the amazing homes
This year, we also went to a museum to check out the Christmas display and local history.  We also went to Mannheimm Steamroller for the second time.  We will not be adding that to the tradition. It was great the first time. This time, none of us were certain that it wasn't men standing on stage pretending to perform while a soundtrack played. It was off and not quite right.

We couldn't find our stockings this year, so Santa picked up an extra stocking and left it for kiddo and it was so stuffed that the stocking ripped. The day after Christmas, I found our stockings.

So, that was our Christmas in a nutshell and what stays and what doesn't.




Monday, December 28, 2015

Best Friend Drama

Not even sure where to start with this.

Think I mentioned before, the disagreement with hubs and BFF's mother.  It's put some unnecessary tension and new boundaries that weren't there before.

BFF's mom has forbid BFF from talking to hubs on facebook (although what that has to do with the situation is beyond me, it didn't involve her daughter at all, but I digress....)

Obviously, if he wasn't allowed to talk to her, that meant we took a different friend on our adventures.  BFF was  not amused and said "She's allowed to talk to him, just not on facebook"

Huh?

Anyway, kiddo has found that she really enjoys this other friend and said she's realizing now that BFF is trying to grow up too quick and she actually has more in common with this new friend and new friend doesn't trigger her.

It was so much fun listening to them play "Marry, kiss or kill" in the backseat on our trips.  Even more fun to hear "Spongebob and popstars" as some of the choices.

Quite a difference.

Kiddo is quite worried about the other BFF though, as are we.  Time will tell if she comes clean.,  Until recently BFF had pretty much ignored kiddo, hence her not trying to get them to work things out vs finding another friend to go places.

Kiddo was a little wonky for awhile until BFF finally started talking again, but BFF is hot and heavy with the boyfriend and Char isn't amused, so she's no longer struggling with that, just worry that BFF will do something stupid.

Holidays

Despite every year my saying we're going to cut back, we totally overdid it again, but oh, so much fun!!!

a couple comments from kiddo clinched that we definitely go overboard

"Momma, you and daddy get as much as Santa does and he goes overboard"

"Santa always leaves his bag here because I'm the last stop since I get the most"

"Momma, I thought about telling you y'all went overboard again, but I decided I like it so I'm not going to tell you that"

We had such an amazing holiday though, despite that we have no clue if our child has a floor in her room. It's a total wreck and she's overwhelmed to find spots for it. I think I'll take a day off when she gets back to school and organize for her and get her wing cleaned up good.

I even caught Santa leaving this time.


But it's not all about gifts, we took her and one of her friends to see Mannheim Steamroller to kick off the holiday season.  It was lower key this year, so they ended up dozing during the Christmas lullaby.


We got a live tree again this year and went to a tree lot that was on my bucket list for charm, complete with the bonfire in a barrel



We took the girls to see the Nutcracker and got them each a Nutcracker, also yearly tradition.  This was the 4th Christmas with our baby.  From left to right, her nutcrackers:  2015, 2013, 2012 and 2014.

I took a few days off work and we went to a local museum to check out the Christmas exhibits.  My personal favorite:

We made a gingerbread house.  I'm pretty sure, however, that that is always more about her eating the icing than ever having a house.  We also fixed cookies together.

We went to the speedway to donate toys for the local toy drive. Hubs picked out a walkie talkie set.  I picked out a baby doll and crib.  Kiddo picked out a pillow pet, because it's good for all ages and who doesn't love a pillow pet.

The Wednesday before Christmas, we had an unexpected knock on the door.  Imagine our surprise to see hubs brother that lives in Germany at the door.  He hasn't been home in 4 years and had never met Charity and surprised us. Nobody knew he was coming.

Yeah, pretty amazing holiday.

(and fun playing Santa)

Nothing better at Christmas than being a parent.


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Familiversary

Last weekend was our 2nd familiversary, well, legally.  In our hearts, it's been much longer.

I love looking back and seeing how much progress our daughter has made in the 3 years together.

We went on the mountain and went for a nice lunch at the winery, walked around some, went to an antique stores and went to the candy factory.

It was a nice time.

While we were at lunch, somehow the conversation of home schooling came up.  When I mentioned last moms experience, kiddo said "You mention last mom frequently, who is that?" I told her about her story and her beautiful princess.  When  I said that her princess finally feels like she's in her forever home and where the name last mom came from, she said "That's so sweet and amazing!! And wow, it took me 2 years to figure out you two weren't going to give up on me and I only had 3 placements, that's amazing!"

It felt so good for her to 1) admit that she didn't always believe it (because she was a good faker) and 2) admit that she now believes we're a forever family.

When we got home, she got quiet for a minute and then said "Momma, I need to tell you something and you're gonna be mad".  She said she took the phone we found in our rental and immediately felt guilty about it. She brought it back.  This is HUGE.  She had just taken it the day before and it hadn't even charged yet.

So much progress over the last 3 years.

So much fun for the weekend.

I love this child so much.  Who knew love could be so strong?

A fish named Blue

After the traumatic news that baby sis would not be returning to her former family, we met up with the mom to pick up the rest of her stuff so we can get it to her when she's ready for it.

One of the "things" is a fish named Marcus. Kiddo has promptly fallen in love with the fish and re-named it Blue.  I can see right now that after the fish is returned to baby sis, our child will have to have a replacement fish for her room.

The timing could not have been better though.

Recently, we were notified that the pyschiatrist kiddo has seen the entire time she's been with us left the practice.  No info why or where he went.  We weren't particularly stressed, because I had noticed she always sits in the seat furthest from him when we go there.  That told me she'd never formed a connection, he was just a means to get the prescriptions she needed.

We went and met the replacement psych.  That was a bad mix. We will have to get a new one. This one went beyond not particularly liking, but absolutely triggered by her.  Tears, shut down, etc in the car right afterwards until the fish.

Pets are so soothing.

(and since then, we have reassured her, we will find another psych and she will not have to see that one)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Anxiety and Siblings

the family that wants to be baby sis's parents contacted us yesterday and said that they've been denied the opportunity to have her back.  They are devastated, as are we.  We actually think they were well suited for her. One of the few willing to put up with her crap and not give up on her.

It got me to thinking about how rough things were for baby sis while she was staying with them and wondering why she was going so crazy, when it was pretty obvious that she actually liked that family. They are the only family she's stayed in contact with while in residential.

I also realized that some of our most challenging times were while baby sis was with them too.

Hummm.....

I'm thinking it was the sibling visits.

They've been separated since May 2012.

They had a visit in fall of 2012.

In 2013, they saw each other April, June, November and December.

In 2014, they saw each other March, May, June, August, October, November and December.

In 2015, they saw each other in February, April and May.

That family entered the picture in October of 2015.

January-April was really rough for our family.  Kiddo really started turning arond in May and has been at her best since May and at her worst January-April.

I can't help but wonder if they triggered each other so bad, that's why both of them have had their worst behaviors in ages early this year.

In August, just the mention of baby sis and kiddo asked to not have to talk on the phone with her yet. I asked kiddo to tell me when she's ready for calls and/or visits. To date, she hasn't requested anything.

Kiddo has been better than she ever was since May. We've had the calmest 6 months since our family has been established.  Coincidence or because we told her she's allowed to control the frequency of visits?

Trauma Bonds are exhausting and heartbreaking.

I love both of these girls dearly and I just wish they could both be happy and well adjusted. I think ours is on her way there.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Trick or Treat

How old do you let your kids continue to trick or treat?

I'd give treats to a kid of any age (or adult) if they were dressed the part.  But, we live in the country, in the last 13 years, we have had ZERO trick or treaters.

Kiddo wants to go trick or treating so badly. We said no to trick or treating, but considering letting her go trunk or treating.  Church wouldn't be judgmental about my crazy teen coming for candy, right? lol

Not sure if we'll go for it or not.  She was going to have a party but the few she wanted to come can't come on Halloween, so she's having her get together the day after Halloween.

Now that she's free on Halloween, she wants candy!! Like we wouldn't buy her a ton.

So, what's your rule? What do you all do on Halloween? Just about have her talked into going to see Goosebumps on Halloween.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

BFF Love

Starting to think maybe we're seeing the drifting apart of the super closeness that kiddo and her BFF have had.

After our August vacation, taking BFF with us, we said BFF was going to have to step up if she wanted the perks of being kiddos bff.  We take her everywhere with us, treat her like our daughter when she's with us and 95% of their relationship is one sided. We spoil BFF. BFF rarely asks her to do things with their family.  Not really an issue as their family is much larger, so we have the funds to spoil, but more than an occassional "Come over and hang out" would be nice.

Kiddo is starting to talk about inviting other friends to do things and expressing a little need to seek out a more balanced relationship.

BFF spends so much time texting the boyfriend, crossing a few lines in several areas and a little more grown than she needs to be. Kiddo is finally realizing while they love hanging out and love each other, they are more different than similar and she's starting to get freaked out by some stuff.

So proud of her for speaking up and seeking ideas on how to change her path.

We shall see what comes of this.

On another note though, such sisters, these bff''s.

Friday Night, BFF woke up at 2 am and I was awake for some reason and she said "Mommy (yes, she calls me mommy), I'm going to push your daughter out of this bed. I hate sleeping with her. She's getting on my nerves and her knee has been up my butt"

Saturday Night, Kiddo woke up 2 am and said "Momma, BFF is getting on my nerves and her knee is up my butt, I can't sleep"

lol

The crazies of BFF life.

Morning Talks

We have such good quality conversations and/or laughter, whether serious or not on the way to school in the mornings.  While kiddo is not a morning person, usually we can talk in the car.

Yesterday:

Kiddo: (tells me story about something that happened at school yesterday)

Kiddo: "I just couldn't tell him no!"

Me: (thinking teachable moment)

Me: "Yeah, not being able to say no worries me"

Kiddo: lol, not like that momma, you know I can say no, I say no to chores all the time

Crazy kid!! What?


Today:
(after a rough start to the morning and serious ODD issues)

Me:  What's going on? What are you stressed about?

Kiddo: I don't know

Me: Well, if you did know, what would you tell me

Kiddo: Weirdo!! Okay, I'm worried you and daddy are mad at me

Me: Huh? Why?

Kiddo: Over my grades (report card last week)

me: What did we do Saturday?

Kiddo: Went to the movies and Game Stop

me: and what was that a reward for?

Kiddo: The good grades (laughs)

Kiddo: But there were some bad test scores

Me: You applied yourself this time, no missing assignments, full participation and obvious you worked hard on it. Why would we get mad about that?

Kiddo: I guess you wouldn't.

Kiddo: Laughs

Get to school, drop her off

Me: I love you, have a great day

Kiddo: Blah, blah (laughs again)

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Spoiled or Loved?

Some people say we spoiled our daughter alot.

My 2 besties say "no, she's just loved"

Yeah, she gets almost everything she wants.  She asks for very little though. She has no sense of entitlement. She says "I'm so spoiled" and knows she has tons, but it's so rare for her to actually ask for something.

The other day hubs ordered the Echo for her Christmas present.  We have almost all the Christmas shopping done already, because it's so fun to shop for her.

This morning she came in and said "I used to have a stuffed Alvin the Chipmunk and my dog took it. I really miss it. You should get that for me".

5 minutes later it's ordered for Christmas. Alvin, Brittany, a Christmas CD and Christmas DVD.

Yeah, we love spoiling her.  I mean, LOVING her!!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Back to School

Kiddo broke her leg in March of this year and in mid March had surgery. She was out of school and home schooled the rest of the year. 

So much progress with attachment and anxiety has been made since then.

Needless to say, I was dreading her going back to school.

Back to School night was the day before vacation and she was having anxiety just on the way to the IPad meeting.  I thought we were going to have a meltdown, but she sucked it up and made it inside and found a couple of her best school friends and was glad she went because she missed them. 

We're a week in, 2nd day of school, she was in tears when I dropped her off (but in all fairness, had physical therapy that morning and was late to school as a result, both pain and off schedule was bad).  I was worried it would develop a habit, but she's been fine all week.  

Her and BFF still are trying to talk daddy into home schooling them, but they're not making progress. 

Hoping for a smooth school year. Smoother summer than normal, so optimistic that we're on a good path now.

Vacation

We took kiddo and her BFF on vacation week before last and it was one of our better ones. Only one incident and it was over within the length of time it takes to ride go karts.

We got so many compliments on the girls behaviors, even to the extent of being asked if we wanted to trade.

The girls wanted to ride go karts and when we got there, kiddo backed out and was near a meltdown, seemingly in fear.  Her BFF and hubs rode go karts and kiddo sat on the bench mad.

Not long after they were through, she said "I can't stay mad at y'all when you're making me laugh like that".  We asked why she was mad and she said she didn't know.

Therapy the following Tuesday and her therapist thinks she was triggered by something that reminded her of her birth family. I'm not really buying it this time. Normally I'd agree, but this time it just doesn't feel like that's what it was.

She's been okay ever since too. Not sure what was up there.

As for the vacation, we took the girls to the Great Smoky Mountains and rode first class on a train. The girls loved it, and honestly, it was one of the better vacations we've had on so many levels.  It was relaxing and full at the same time.

Some highlights:

BFF tied a cherry stem with her tongue. (she has a giraffe tongue)


\We all tried frog legs. They really  DO taste like chicken.



We went and saw an Indian dance


The girls and I were disappointed that we didn't see any living bears while we were gone, but we did see this stuffed bear in a store.


We went to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian. The girls were amazed at the amount of racism in the day demonstrated.


The amazing view from our hotel. Oh, and we had a window bench seat in the room that BFF slept in instead of the bed.

Our first time on a scenic train like this, and it was AMAZING.  Anybody wondering what it's like, it's worth it.  


First class seating, but we sat on the side with tables with 2 chairs each so we could all have a window view:

Speaking of window views:



Amazing food on the train too:

 The girls had Shirley Temples. The server was so impressed with their behavior and hair, she didn't even charge us.


And desserts for all in first class....



The gimme's were great on first class too. We all got a Smokies travel cup, unlimited refills on the train from first class.  The girls got nice spiral bound coloring books vs coloring sheets in the other cars.  They got free frisbees.  We all got nice canvas tote bags (and I have a tote bag fetish, so that made me happy).  The above desserts instead of airplane pretzels.


We would do it again.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Orthodontist Visit

You may remember this: https://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=4188971794575711170#editor/target=post;postID=3162261861794907511;onPublishedMenu=posts;onClosedMenu=posts;postNum=105;src=postname

Kiddo has brushed her teeth faithfully since then, but she is a bit lazy with it and she has an issue not brushing her gums well. It feels weird to her. She brushes them, but not well.

A few days ago, she was brushing her teeth and the wire popped out of her braces, they'd gotten hung on her toothbrush. It was after hours and the on call person didn't answer or call back.

Hubs cousin is an ortho assistant for an orthodontist out of town, so I took kiddo over to her house to clip the braces for us.  Pretty funny looking to not have braces on the 2 front teeth.

Once we got kiddo into the ortho, the assistant there YELLED at her and refused to fix them, because she's "not taking care of her gums".

Babygirl almost had a meltdown, anxiety and PTSD set in and hubs said the trip home was horrible.  She managed to get regulated with daddys help before they got home to her xanax and then he found out what happened.

He called the doc and spoke with the office manager, who promised to take care of it.  The doc called and apologized on behalf of the assistant and promised to make notes in her chart.

For now, I'm looking for trauma info to provide to the doctors office.

It's NEVER okay to yell at a child, it's VERY not okay to yell at a trauma child. That could have ended very badly.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Progress Report

Therapy went well last week and we don't have therapy again for 6 weeks, as therapist is very pleased with how well she's doing and the increased level of maturing.

A few signs of progress:

One example of being very open, a guy from kiddos school texted her and asked for nude photos, she said no and he asked if he could send her some and she said no (actually, she was a little more WTF on it all, but that's okay). She immediately blocked him, unfriended him and sent me the screen print.  We sent it to the deputy and the deputy went to talk to his parents.

At therapy, when kiddo was asked why she seemed calmer despite S going back to residential, she said "When I saw what she did unprovoked, I realized that I'm not responsible for what happens to her, she's responsible for her own actions and if she doesn't care enough to even try, it's not on me".
She asks for what she needs, instead of making us try to read minds and her blowing up later.  She even requested waiting awhile before the next visit, that she's feeling angry about this and needs some time.

She got nothing less than a B on her report card.

She tripped and had to be recasted and can't swim until just shortly before her birthday. No blowup at all. She recognizes it was her, not somebody else, that put her boot in the floor to be tripped over. She said if she's not swimming by her birthday, she still wants her friends over, that they can have fun and she'll enjoy having them here.  

One of her bouts of depression was from feeling bad about hurting our feelings and things she's said. She said she really cried hard later after we told her what she'd said during the blow up the day of her surgery.

We were talking on vacation and I was saying that you can't hold anger or get upset and sad at somebody that you don't care about, and she said she wasn't sure how she felt about my realizing that she cares for us.

She has started saying I love you, to BOTH of us on a semi-regular basis.

Of course, all this progress didn't come without a little set back. We had a few minor issues after therapy. Therapy provoked a few emotions, but over all, 2 steps forward, 1 back is still trending forward.

One set back was a "boyfriend" on facebook that she lied about the age of and she got sad and depressed when we said no to him coming to her party or him even being her boyfriend.  He has a reputation of being creepy from people we trust, so no way.

A step forward was when he said they could just keep their "relationship" a secret and not tell us and she told him she didn't want to keep things from her parents.

She got really depressed afterwards and that required some serious time in and xanax. When I asked what was wrong, she said therapy brought up some feelings. She said the depression and tantrum didn't have anything to do with the boy. I told her I thought it was because she was upset with herself for not being upfront with us and she's starting to develop a conscience. She said she wasn't admitting anything (laughingly) and said "bla bla" which is code for "I love you, but it's still hard to say".

She also came close to losing it at my nieces graduation because of the crowd, despite the xanax and started to get demanding about leaving early. We got it together though and had a very nice day.

She almost lost it on the way home and refused dinner, wanting to hurry and get home. We told her whether she ordered dinner wouldn't affect the time we got home because we were having dinner. She still refused.  We ordered ourselves extra and she ended up eating it later (our intention) and her mood cheered up.

All in all, I'm so ridiculously proud of this baby girl that I can't stand it.

Even my brother e-mailed me today to tell us thanks for coming and said "I guess kiddo can do okay with crowds as long as there are babies and animals, huh?"


Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Things to See or Do In Virginia

I was reading about the 8 wonders of Virginia and there was an offensive comment made on the thread about wondering why anybody would want to go to Virginia?

Why? Our state is beautiful!!

Obviously they have issues and have seen very little of Virginia.

Here are some of my favorite spots in no particular order:

Virginia Beach, what's not to love about sun & sea & sand. Pros: you can walk ANYWHERE from your hotel, not as crowded as places like Myrtle Beach, SC, very clean and family friendly  Cons: starting to get commercialized and busy, starting to get pricey


Williamsburg, a trip into historic times; pros: things for any budget and things to do for every type person
Dixie Caverns, Salem, VA
pros: inexpensive cavern experience, not crowded at all
cons: small

Luray Caverns, Luray, VA
pros: huge and lots to see
cons: way too crowded
Safari Park, Drive Thru Zoo, Natural Bridge VA
pros: hysterical to drive thru and see this critter staring at you thru your car door, a spot to walk thru afterwards as well for petting type animals and a place to enjoy a picnic
cons: careful feeding them, so they don't attack your car, also your car will smell like food for awhile, a little pricey for the experience, but I'd still do it again

Natural Bridge
pros: stunningly beautiful, great natural walk and if you have the energy there is a waterfall available to visit, can't wait to take kiddo and her bff there when their ankle/knee heals (the con is the number of stairs to get down to this beauty, not for the physically challenged)
Jamestown, VA first permanent settlement, the history, the beauty, what's not to love about that




Chateau Morrisette, Floyd VA
Virginia is full of nice wineries, this just happens to be "our" winery of choice to visit, great for special occassions and they even have fun things on the lawn for lower budget fun during the peak season. 5 stars!!

Great restaurant, great view and if you do the wine testing, you get free wine glasses with the logo on them. That was fun.

Lots and lots of museums in Virginia
Despite being a small town, Martinsville, VA has a super nice museum, Virginia Museum of Natural History (affiliated with Smithsonian)
pros: inexpensive, not crowded at all, met Carl Edwards, race car driver there
cons: not much else to do, so could be expensive if that was all you're doing, go there during a race

This is actually better than museums in Richmond VA
Other museums visited: Amazement Square, Lynchburg, VA, enjoyed this very much
2 of the childrens museums in Richmond, VA (one we were not impressed with at all, one we enjoyed, but wouldn't put in the loved it category)



Racing, Martinsville, VA and Richmond, VA
pros: short track racing for both, can see from any seat in the house, inexpensive  or expensive, Richmond has organized traffic pattern, Martinsville you can run into drivers and pit crew in any restaurant and they're all friendly
cons: Martinsville has a HORRIBLE traffic pattern for getting out of the race and restaurants are crowded and annoying to deal with during race weekend, make reservations early or you'll be stuck in sub par accomodations


Philpott Lake, Bassett VA
special to me, my great grandfathers house is under this lake. This is a man made lake and stunningly beautiful, cheap fun



Mabry Mill, Meadows of Dan VA
pros: on postcards in every state because it's so beautiful, cheap fun, you can also learn how to make moonshine just looking at the equipment nearby, heehee
cons: restaurant is VERY busy and small, long waits
recommendation: pack a picnic instead, lots of picnic spots


Lovers Leap, Meadows of Dan VA
the view says it all


Maymont Park, Richmond VA
mansion, gardens, wildlife.....something for everyone
(although truthfully I loved the park/pond we had a picnic at right outside of Maymont even better, but I can't remember what it's called. It's right at Maymont, we had the place to ourselves, fed ducks and walked the path)

Virginia Science Museum and Aquarium, Virginia Beach, VA


Monticello, Charlottesville, VA
yep, tons of history in VA, home of Thomas Jefferson
pros: lots of things to see
cons: you don't get to see the whole house, it's a guided tour and no photos

Zoo's
Metro Zoo, Richmond VA
Natural Bridge Zoo, (walk thru), Natural Bridge, VA
Safari Park Drive Thru Zoo, Natural Bridge, VA
Mill Mountain Zoo, Roanoke VA

Safari Park Drive Thru Zoo gets the most points
all the other zoos have caged animals that make me sad
Natural Bridge Zoo, however, does have elephant rides and photo opportunities feeding certain animals

Natural Bridge and Metro, you can feed or pet the giraffes



Roanoke Star and Roanoke VA in general
lots of fun things to do....museums, zoo, history, cultural opportunities, good food, caverns, etc



Amusement Parks
Busch Gardens, Williamsburg VA
Kings Dominion, Doswell, VA

Busch Gardens, one of the biggest amusement parks in the world, not just area

Kings Dominion, I like because it's smaller and you can go thru it all in a day. I also like the water park there.  

Blue Ridge Parkway
all along the skyline
pros: nature, beauty, free
cons: weather permitting, once you're on the parkway, you're in for a drive, don't change your mind 




All these things are some of the reasons I love calling Virginia home.

Living in the country, but only hours away from most of these places. Even aliens have sense enough to know Virginia is for Lovers and more.  



Saturday, May 16, 2015

Play Date Disaster

We got to see firsthand the mild/moderate aggressiveness of the baby sis today.

It confirmed our decision not to have her for the weekend, but my heart is breaking for my baby, for little sis and for her foster parents.

We had lunch together and baby sis asked to ride with us to the movie theater. Given the behavior earlier this week, we set the ground rules first and she promised to behave. She did in the car. When we got to the movies, however, all bets were off.

We ended up leaving early before kiddo go affected too terribly by it.

We had some good discussion on the way home and some clinginess after we got home.

I'm sure more is coming later, but hopefully we headed off the worst of it.

Brokenhearted.

Baby sis is going to residential Tuesday. Our last playdate had to end early. Baby sis doesn't know yet.  We all hope and pray she gets the help she needs.

Kiddo and I both ended up with a headache and kiddo hung out in the gazebo for awhile to decompress.

I'm proud of our baby for working so hard to do the right things.

Bailed on Respite

Hated bailing on providing respite, but little S is going BACK to residential for the 3rd time, behaviors have escalated crazy like and honestly, we fear for the safety of kiddo if she spent the weekend here.  (S tried to jump out of a moving car, attacking foster dad while driving at 55 mph, in addition to other aggressive behaviors lately)

I don't think it'd be intentional, but I really believed it would happen.

S is very mad about this, but her foster family explained that her own behaviors were the reason that she wasn't allowed to spend the weekend after all and it's a choice.

We made plans to meet for a playdate instead so at least the girls can see each other before S goes back to residential.

Last night though, kiddo was dysregulated and made a fort in her bedroom and finally cried on my shoulders while explaining that she's really worried about S and that she doesn't want her in residential, wants her in a family and really scared she'll kill herself.

Gut wrenching and heart breaking to imagine that your child carries around the fear of their sibling killing themselves and all you can do is hold them and tell them that they're working on getting her help.

Sad. Feeling helpless.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Therapy Update

Therapist thinks kiddo is doing very well, despite the anxiety levels and her recent trip to the hospital.

She said she's really stressed out about how often baby sis is being hospitalized and worried about her going to a place like the residential treatment center that she was in and she's scared about how much like (her past) her she's behaving.  We talked some about S's mom asking C to talk to S and we talked about the upcoming respite weekend with us.

Therapist said no, not a good idea to put it on C to talk to S about her behavior, but she was completely for her spending the weekend with us and said S could get how to behave from watching how much she's progressed.

Therapist also said it seems like kiddo is more serious about what she does now, has matured alot since being out of school and that if she can make progress this summer with her daddy, then she'd like for us to consider home schooling.

She was very clear with kiddo that she needed to work hard on developing a strong relationship with her daddy.  She told kiddo that she's not required to talk about the past to heal, but if she doesn't want to talk about the past, she needs to work on healthy relationships and developing a good, strong relationship with her daddy would be evidence that she's healing.

She's been working hard on this. So proud of her.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

WOW!! What a weekend

Thursday we drove 4 hours to see our niece graduate Friday morning.

We got there and found out that the graduation had been moved to Saturday and nobody had bothered to tell us.  Our niece said her mom had said she'd told everybody.

Fortunately, kiddo didn't get too wonky.  Normally a change in schedule or appearance of rejection would have her off the wall, but fortunately not this time (so far)

We had dinner with our niece and came home Friday morning instead of after graduation.

There were no extra rooms in the area, we had teacher scheduled to come out and babysitter for the dogs only thru Friday  night.

Hubs and kiddo both think it was intentional.  It may or may not have been and honestly, whether it's intentional or not, I'm just glad we got to see our niece. It was obvious she had no clue we hadn't been updated.  I'd have been mad if we drove 4 hours each way and didn't even get to see her.

Why intentional? Hubs and sister in law do not get along at all.


The positive is that we avoided the trigger of crowds (graduation) and loud people (sis in laws family).

The negative is this schedule change last second, combined with mothers day weekend could potentially blow up.  Trauma kids can act out big time mothers day weekend. Some because the first moms were abusers, others because the first moms didn't protect them from their abusers.

As we were driving down the road, when it was hubs turn to drive, I was checking my messages and I'm very concerned that baby sis's placement is getting ready to disrupt. I hope they'll keep trying.  We have respite scheduled for next weekend for them, but it's sounding like it may not make it until then.  I really hope it doesn't disrupt before then. Kiddo is looking forward to this visit so much.

One placement disrupted the day before our adoption was final and little sis didn't get to make it.  If another disruption is right before they get to see each other, this will add pain for our daughter.

I am hoping that they'll postpone making a decision and let us see if we can make some progress with her, show her that her big sister is fine and not acting out, coach her a little and help her be calm, eliminating at least one stressor.

Fingers crossed, praying, join me in whatever you'll do.



Wednesday, April 29, 2015

2 years, 4 months, 16 days

That's how long our baby has lived with us now.

So hard to believe it's been that long in some ways, so hard to believe it's been that little time other ways.

We love this child to the moon and back and it's hard to remember there was ever a time without her in our lives.  It was love at first sight.

That said, there have been some hard times, but every step has been so worth it.

Why am I reminiscing and thinking about how recent her move really is?

Kiddo had an extreme anxiety attack last night, such extremes that her leg cramped up from the tension and she wasn't able to move from the waist down for about 40 minutes. It was very scary.

I knew she had an anxiety attack when we were waiting on the ambulance, but I thought the anxiety attack was because of the paralysis, not vice versa.

The paramedics were great with her, I rode in the ambulance and by the time we got there, she was pretty calm.

They still ran some tests though and it was a 5 hour trip to the ER, resulting in grouchy family and getting home at nearly 1 am.

I wish so bad I could help her anxiety.  As far as she's come, it stuns me when this happens and it really shouldn't.  She was with her bio family for right at 7 years (being abused probably 4+ of those years), she was with her abusive first adoptive placement 2 1/2 years.  So any family she's been with that abused her were the only longer placements than us.  Her non abusive ones were shorter, of course she still has extreme anxiety.

One of the paramedics though commended me on how I was trying to handle the situation while waiting as we talked about what was going on preceding the call.

so scary though and I'm one exhausted momma!!

(and today we got bad news on the little sis, so now I'm wondering if they triggered each other Sunday or if it's because it's so close to traumaversary time)

Monday, April 27, 2015

School and Foot Update

Kiddo had her appointment today to follow up on her foot. She's been taken out of school for the rest of the school year. She will be starting physical therapy in May and target date for boot to come off is May 27th.

She has to do physical therapy until she can walk with no crutches and no limp, so hoping that she does better than I did at her age when I broke my leg.

Hubs has been doing physical therapy for his shoulder and BFF is getting ready to restart physical therapy on her knee, which has not been getting better. They're going to try to get appointments together and all go together.

Should be an interesting summer with 3 of our household (yes, I consider BFF part of the household) recovering.

Kiddo is not particularly sad about not going back to school this year. I wonder how she'll feel when she remembers that when she goes back next year, boyfriend will not be there, because he'll be in high school next year and she still has a year of middle school left.


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sibling Visit

Baby sis's parents reached out to us last week and said that she'd accepted Christ at church the week before and they were letting her have a small party to celebrate that and how much better she's done with her boundaries since being hospitalized.

We went and were the only ones that showed up for the party, but I don't think she was too upset, given that she said kiddo was the main person she wanted there.

The visit went well.

For the first time on one of their visits they actually referred to their past, specifically birth cousins.  I hope that is a sign that they are starting to heal and move forward.

We had lunch together, the girls went in baby sis's room and played with her hamster and took selfies with kiddos tablet.  We talked to the parents awhile about her progress and plans for continued success and I felt really good when we left that baby sis is in her forever home.  We played farkle and then had cake and looked at photos together.

When baby sis found out we'd make a new lifebook for new beginnings and a baby book for kiddo, she asked her parents if they could do that too.  I think that's a good sign.


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Post Sibling Phone Call

Kiddo got really stressed yesterday.

Thursday she had a phone call from her sister. It doesn't take a brain surgeon to realize something triggered her.

That's the first time I've ever not hung out to hear the whole conversation, so I asked her about it. She said baby sis told her about her hospital visit, only she described it as having to go to the hospital because she was bad.

Despite being so confident that she was there forever right after the hospital visit, now she's worried that she's not going to be there much longer and that she feels like it's her fault things keep going wrong. It's no convincing her that she's not to blame.

We mailed baby sis some pictures, a letter and a bracelet.

I would never tell kiddo this, but I'm worried too, just not for completely the same reason.

Baby sis's family is having a hard time, they've had to miss a bunch of work because of baby S's tantrums.  I can't imagine what life is like in their household, but missing work, not being able to be a stay at home parent and getting abused by your child, losing all your baby sitters because they all give up on her = a very hard life.

I hope they can find some solutions to help her calm down.

I've been worried sick about that kid.

and no, us having her if it falls through is not an option. Her behaviors have escalated to a point where I'd worry for kiddos safety. I know she'd never intentionally hurt her, but with that much unresolved anger, she could be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Visits are better.

I was aggravated and mad at kiddo last night because of the tantrum our child had at dinner.  As soon as kiddo was out of sight, hubs whispered "she's not giving you a hard time, she's having a hard time, remember that" and then "at least she's not XYZ (insert S behavior here)".  I had to laugh and yes, I calmed down.

Today babygirl wrote us each a small note and requested one from us. She also drew me a peace sign and cut it out and hubs a heart with daddy on it.

My note said: "Momma, I love you, no matter what I say" and asked for a kiss.


Therapy Update

Pychiatrist said last visit that babygirl would need her therapy upped while she's out of school because of the lack of peer interactions while she's out of school.

It really surprised me because I don't see that at all. On the contrary, she's overall been calmer since being out of school.

I took her to therapy this week and the therapist said she thinks he's barking up the wrong tree, that that is generally true for most kids, but for kiddo she could see that being the opposite.

It was a fairly good session.

She whined a little about baby sis not calling her the last few times she was scheduled to call.  The therapist said "I thought you were the big sister, why would you wait on her to call?" Her answer was PERFECT!! She said "I know my momma and daddy will let me call anytime I want, she still needs to learn that about her parents, so I let her call me so she can learn that they'll keep the communication going.

I thought I'd cry. That was perfect.

We also talked about the dad stuff and the food stuff.

Therapist says that kiddo is secure that we will feed her and that she'll never be hungry again and that she suspects it's an emotional eating disorder, not just the fear of not having enough driving the binging and hoarding of food.

Dad stuff is scheduled for next session. She still has a fear of men in general.  Last night it was hot in her room and she wouldn't let me turn her ceiling fan on. She said it's scary at night, and not in the day.. Hubs said the fan's movement looks like somebody hovering above her bed, so that makes sense.

Oddly enough, right after we got home from therapy, I had a message from baby sis's mom asking if she could call baby girl.  Yes!  Yes!!

(her sis sounds so adorable on the phone--I answered the phone and she sounded so cute and I said "I bet you want to talk to your big sister" and she said "Yes.....")


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Baby Sis Update

Baby sis has had a rough time lately and I hadn't been telling kiddo about it because I didn't want her stressing. Once they got past it, we let kiddo know the basics of what had happened and where things stand now.

Hardly any reaction at all. I was worried about a lash back later because of the lack of reaction.

This was yesterday.

Today, "momma, can you tell me what happened with her?" I went into a tad more detail, without going too deep to stress her out over stuff that wasn't really key to the story.  She smiled?

What?

She said "MOMMA!! You know what this means!! This means that she FINALLY has a family that's going to stick it out!! They're not going to give up on her! She has a forever home"

Smiles and relaxed and she was good then.

Hoping this is a breakthrough for everybody and both girls anxiety levels will decrease as time goes on.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Family History

When we went to disclosure on kiddo before adopting, we were told family history was a mess, issues on both sides of the family, many overlapping.  We also got her DNA test done on 23andme (highly recommend)

There wasn't anything in the history that was off our list of acceptable, but it was more than the average number of issues.

Last week, baby sis's new parents let us know of a sad turn in things. They stuck it out and kiddo is back home safe and sound with them.

This week, we received an e-mail from baby girls ex-case worker.

The bio mother contacts the case worker fairly frequently to ask about the girls and get updates.  The social worker asks her for updates as well.

More added to the family history....1 of the items was on our no list, but even if kiddo ended up with it, we'd still love her like crazy.  23andme DNA testing has helped alieviate anxiety about things she may or may not end up with and shows what likelihood of ending up with certain things (low for her).  But, more importantly, even though their is a genetic component to the disorders mentioned, there also is an environmental component.  Studies show that a nurturing adoptive home can greatly reduce the risks of certain genetic risk factors.

It's always good to have info though.  It's maddening to fill out paperwork at the doctor and they ask you a question about something you can't answer and have to explain over and over again that she was adopted at 11, it's not like we have a complete history.

It's even more maddening to see kiddo triggered when the doctors staff says "Did her mom have....?" over and over. *I* am her momma, thank you very much. Show the respect to say birth mom and not stress kiddo out.  Usually after correcting the first few times, I just deal with it and kiddo tunes them out.

More history, less mystery. Opposite of love life, but perfect for adoption.





Baby pics and more

I'm so lucky to have baby pics of kiddo.  Her birth family gave her some baby pics and she had somebody work with her on a lifebook. Her foster parents and her first adoptive parents both added pics as well (although the last year of her life before us is missing).

I'm so grateful for this photos. I've made a baby book of all her photos and look at them on occassion and wish I could have held that cute baby when she was little and prevent all the bad stuff that happened from even happening and showing her love the way she should have known it.

Occassionally though, I'm wistful for weird things.

This week one of my friends kid lost her front teeth.

I found myself wishing that I had kiddos first tooth she lost, that first lock of hair, her homecoming outfit and other silly stuff.

What I do have and count my blessings for:


  • some baby pics I scanned from kiddos lifebook
  • weight and length at checkups for 9 mos, 13 mo, 15 mo, 3 yr, 8 yr and when she got her
  • copies of her baby footprints
  • copies of her first birth ceritifcate, second and final
  • a few milestone markers (1st step, first word, first crawled, first playmate, etc
Some of those things are things I use when she talks about when she was a baby and with us (reconstructing her past to make sense and to focus on the positives).  She'll say "Remember when I first crawled and went chasing Bonkers" and I'll respond with "Yes, you were so cute, 6 months old and the kitty would grab your diaper"

Kiddo used to look thru her lifebook alot, tell me stories about who and what happened when. It's put away for now behind me on the shelf for her to look at whenever she wants to, but she no longer does that. I know it'll be good for her to have though when she's ready and it's helped her make sense of her past and helped us bond as she knows we are not denying her past.


If you're just fostering and no intent to adopt, please help your kids out.  Help them with their lifebook if they don't have an assigned worker to do so, send them to their final home with lots of photos. Your kiddo will appreciate it one day.




Home Schooling

Kiddo is homebound until May 18th.

After a rough start to get things started, babygirl started school at home a little over a week ago. It's going well and I'm amazed at how much she's done.  What's amazing is how little time it takes to get the same thing accomplished. 2 hours at home = 7 hours at school.

I wish we could do this all the time, year round and eliminate some stress.

I guess it's not meant to be.  It would be good though.  If only I could be a stay at home momma and do this.

Her first paper was a success.  I love her writing. She wrote about huskies.  "When caring for a huskie puppy, you have to be prepared to lose some shoes and stuffed animals."

One of my favorite quotes.

Easter Bunny

Babygirl forgot that last Sunday would be Easter, I reminded her Saturday and she said "Oh, I forgot" Not surprising with all the craziness.

Sunday morning she wakes up and says "Momma, did the Easter bunny visit?"

It was funny. Arlo started going bonkers at 2 am.

I asked her didn't she hear Arlo chasing the bunny in the middle of the night. She said she was zonked and didn't hear a thing.

Her loot:


The dress and luggage are from us. The basket of goodies were from the bunny.

I went out the day before for the dress. Things have been so hectic we hadn't had an opportunity to get things.  I asked kiddo if she wanted to go. She declined and it was a good thing. Rue 21 just came to our area a couple weeks ago and it was a zoo in there. Baby girls anxiety would have either been thru the roof or she would have used her crutches to clear the way.

The luggage is because BFF is going on vacation with us this year and that way they can not go thru our luggage picking out her outfits. She can be like BFF for the weekend.

It was a nice, lazy day. We did absolutely NOTHING!! I apologized for not having planned something and she said "Oh, this was PERFECT!!"

Good memories, good days, love spoiling the baby.