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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

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.


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.