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It’s Been Over a Month

October 4, 2015

The other day while we were eating lunch, out of the blue, Spuds said, “My morning pill used to make my hands shaky.”

“No,” I reminded him, “your morning pill was to stop your hands from shaking.  The shaking was caused by one of the pills you took before bed.”

“My hands used to shake.  And those pills made me sick.”

“Yeah, I remember you said they made your stomach hurt.”

“Yeah.  They made me feel sick.  Why did I have to take them?”

“They thought the pills helped you behave better.  Do you feel better now that you don’t take them?”

“Yeah, I don’t feel sick.”

“You also don’t shake anymore.”

“I didn’t want to take them, but they made me.  Am I different now that I don’t take them?”

“I haven’t noticed any real difference in your behavior.  Do you feel like you behave differently.”

“No, but my stomach doesn’t hurt.”

He’s been off of all of his meds for just over a month now.  If anything, his behavior is better, but that has nothing to do with the medications as far as I can tell.  I mean, maybe it has a little to do with his brain not being in the fog of big pharma, but mostly?  I think it has to do with a healthy dose of childhood freedom mixed with a heaping dose of daily life that doesn’t include (what was to him) the over-stimulating environment of public schools.  Basically, he’s settling in nicely.  Seeing this happen makes me want to scream even more about the pharmaceuticals he was on.

You know those shaking hands and aching stomach side effects?  I’ve found more than one reputable website that says a person who experiences those side effects from that drug should seek medical help immediately.  Yeah, they took him to a doctor about the shaking, all right, and that doctor put him on a Parkinson’s medication.  Did I mention I want to scream?

I have no idea what the long-term side effects of the years he spent medicated might have on him.  I hope there are none.

In the meantime, we’ve started our homeschool year back up, and?  He’s doing great.  I was worried that this might be some kind of trigger, some kind of RAD power struggle.  RAD my arse.  Bonding issues?  Sure.  But RAD?  Good lord.  I just want to text his previous parents and say, “He’s academically behind in a few areas, but he’s doing GREAT!  He does his work without argument, even when he’s frustrated and spent.  Easily distracted?  Hell yeah, but also easily re-directed back to the task at hand without argument.  Sure, I may have to redirect him ten times in ten minutes (or more) (what is so interesting about the ceiling, anyway?), but he does it.  He gets it done.  It takes him longer, but he gets it done.  Actually, he gets it done to the point that he spent about a week and a half memorizing a fairly long poem — MEMORIZING IT — and he did it.  I have video I could text you.”  But I don’t text them this because I know they don’t want to hear this right now.  They were pretty specific about when they wanted to hear from us, and early October isn’t one of those times.

Ha!  He just came into my room and started to ask me if he could watch and episo . . .

Then he remembered.

Last night, when the movie the kids had been watching ended, I told him to turn off the TV and then I disappeared into my bathroom (ok, maybe I was already in the bathroom, and he came knocking at the door to ask to watch something else, and I told him no, it was time to turn off the TV, but it sounds much less uncouth to say our conversation didn’t happen on two sides of a bathroom door).  After emerging from that room to which mothers disappear in a vain attempt to gain a little peace and quiet and . . . umm . . . do other stuff, I found Spuds lounging on the sofa watching . . . I don’t know what, because I immediately turned the TV off.  I told him he wasn’t allowed to watch anything tomorrow (which is now today), and if he even asked to watch anything he would have to sit on the stool (this is what happens when he gets in trouble — sitting upon The Stool).

So he just wandered in here ands said, “Can I watch an episo . . . oh, wait.  No.  Never mind.”  It was awesome and hilarious to see the realization of what he was doing click in his brain.

So I think we have a list now that looks something like this:

ADD/ADHD (the jury is still out on this one) (yes, he’s easily distracted, but I’m not convinced he can’t overcome that)
Attachment Issues
Bipolar Disorder / Schizophrenia

Oppositional Defiance Disorder

So glad we took Goethe’s advice in our approach to this kid (though I think in this case it would be more like, “Treat a child like his hyped-up diagnosis and you’ll create the behavior to confirm it.  Treat him like a kid, and he’ll be one).

I can’t begin to express how happy I am that this kid is part of our family.  And?  Yes.  The family still consists of more than just this one kid.  You wouldn’t know it based on this post, but we are all still here, and everyone else is doing fine as well (and A~ is LOVING college).  The adjustment for everyone has existed but been pretty minimal.  My kids rock that way.  The homeschool effort is a little bit more labor intensive for me right now what with all the re-directing going on, so that leaves little time for blogging.  But we’re all here, and life is good.

Tewt the Newt couldn’t agree more.

My Smoothie Is Ruined

September 1, 2015

After a week-and-a-half of total food debauchery, I thought it prudent to start stuffing fruits and vegetables into my body again.  I was so good about the eating stuff yesterday, and yet?  By the time I went to bed I could feel a migraine coming on.  So today?  I’m still trying to be super good.  It makes no sense.  If I’m going to suffer, I might as well stuff my face with cake (more on the cake later).  I really want cake.  Seriously.

Anyway, I made myself a smoothie in my fantabulous Blendtec blender which I won as a door prize a few years ago at a Green Smoothie Girl event.  But?  In the midst of it whirring around and masticating my beet greens, peach, cranberries, and banana, it started making an unusual and somewhat horrible noise.  I don’t like it when appliances, whether large or small, start making unusual and somewhat horrible noises.  I also don’t like it when the unusual and somewhat horrible noise is accompanied by a positively horrible smell.  This happened today with my Blendtec.

So I poured the smoothie out into my special smoothie cup, washed out the blender, and did a little experimenting.  What I have discovered is that the blender base/motor unit is fine.  The big Wildside pitcher, however, is having issues.  I don’t know exactly what the issues are, only that they make an unusual and somewhat horrible noise and create a positively horrible smell.  It’s kind of like the smell of heating rubber.  I know this smell well since I spent a great deal of my childhood visiting Akron, Ohio.

After determining that the whole blender hasn’t gone toes up, I decided to not stress it too much (though those pitcher things ain’t exactly cheap) and just enjoy my smoothie.  But, people?  It tastes BAAAADDDDD.

I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, “Beet greens?  Cranberries?  Of course it tastes BAAAADDDD you crazy woman.”  Well, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that point.  I rather enjoy beet greens and cranberries in a smoothie, just not in a smoothie that smells and tastes like it was manufactured in a Goodyear factory.  So now I’ve got a bit of a conundrum.  I don’t want to throw the smoothie out because organic peaches and beet greens and bananas and cranberries just aren’t super cheap these days.  On the other hand, I don’t want to drink something that smells and tastes like Akron circa 1977.  My smoothie is currently in the fridge, lid open, in the hopes that it will breathe (maybe I should have put grapes in it . . . ) and lose that warm rubber smell/taste.

If that doesn’t manage to happen, I’m going to make a cake.  For reals.  Just because.  I’ve been wanting cake all day.  I’ve been wanting cake frosting since the moment we walked in the door from our trip west.  Today, as I was commenting on another blog, the whole reason behind the cake craving hit me:  I’ve been thinking a lot about the whole “dropping the kid off at college” thing, and I’ve been thinking of it in terms of “you can’t have your cake and eat it, too.”  Because I can’t have done a good job raising my kid and expect her to live in my house for the rest of her life.  Don’t misunderstand:  I’m not saying that I did a perfect job raising her.  I’m just saying that, at some point, if we’ve done a halfway decent mothering job, kids spread their wings and fly the coop.  It’s all part of the circle of life (cue music).  Like I said in my comment on that other blog: It’s one of the great injustices of motherhood, isn’t it? If we do our job well, they stretch their wings and fly, and we die a little on the inside. If we do our job poorly, they live in the basement until they inherit the rest of the house, and then . . . well, we’re just dead (end music).

I want my kids to be independent and capable, but I want them to still be here, with me.  I want them to go off on their own and have the great growing experiences I had when I went off on my own, but I want them to still be here, with me.   I want them to be grown up (at the appropriate time), but I still want them to be my kids.  I want to have my cake and eat it, too.  But life doesn’t work that way.  A~ is gone, as she should be.  She is enjoying it so far.  She called yesterday to tell me that when her Intro to Greek and Roman Lit professor went over the entire semester’s worth of reading assignments she (A~) was fighting back tears of joy.  She is finally where she belongs, with her own kind.  I know that sounds snooty, but so be it.  She needed a more academic environment than what this small town was able to provide.  She needed to be with peers with an academic ilk the likes of which would have no reason to live here.  I’m not saying that’s what all of my kids are going to need, but it is what she needed. I made my cake, and now it’s gone.

And?  My smoothie is ruined.

I’m going to go make an actual cake.

Tewt the Newt thinks I should at least troll Pinterest for a healthy alternative.  Damn newt.

A Very Good Day

August 26, 2015

Today there was lots of hiking, some frisbee and football throwing, and some rolling down a hill on campus.  

There was a little necessary and unnecessary on-campus shopping (the football and frisbee throwing commenced with dad on the quad while the female contingent shopped), and a lunch which involved only one relative.  After all that, there was swimming.

“Hey mom, I was good today!” Spuds said proudly right before the boys went swimming while the girls did a little more shopping.

“Yes,” I responded enthusiastically, “you were great!”

Today was a good day.  Tomorrow is move-in day for A~.  I hope it isn’t another trigger for Spuds.  It sure will be for me.

Tewt the Newt is buying stock in Puffs.

Tripping on Triggers

August 25, 2015

We knew taking Spuds on a long trip this early could be a huge trigger.  We knew visiting with family and friends along the way could be a huge trigger.  Let’s face it, the last time his last family took him to a park to meet new “friends” he met us.  The last time they took him on a trip, it was to meet us.  Trips + new people = trigger.  We knew that was possible, even likely; but what could we do?  We couldn’t leave him behind.  And?  He’s been doing so, so well that I think we were overly optimistic about how the whole things would go.

So far, he’s had six major meltdowns.  Four of them were today.  Of the six meltdowns, I have held him through one of them and my saintly husband has held him through the rest.  Anybody who has a traumatized child understands that “holding” that child through a meltdown can feel more like a wrestling match.  It is exhausting both physically and emotionally.

McH is just plain beat after today.  He held Spuds through four very public meltdowns:  Temple Square in Salt Lake City, City Creek Mall (x2), and Bed Bath and Beyond.  He was so unbelievably calm and good with Spuds through all four episodes, even when the BB&B manager kept coming back to check on him and kept sending employees back to check on him.  I understand they want to make sure a child isn’t being abused in their store.  I understand they want to make sure their merchandise isn’t being destroyed.  I understand they don’t want other customers to be scared away.  But?  The husband and the kid were sitting on the floor, tucked away in a corner of the clearance bedding, and there weren’t that many customers in the store (we were shopping about 45 minutes away from the university to avoid the college crowds).  After a couple flybys with no evidence of child abuse, maybe just leave a man to restrain his child for everyone’s safety in peace, you know?  The comforters will be just fine.

Anyway, the husband is exhausted.  The now quite happy kid isn’t.  The surprising thing to me?  I am exhausted.  I am exhausted because we were with friends all day — friends we only get to see if we are visiting Utah — and so, while my husband was doing the hard work, I was pretending like everything was okay.  Just a normal day with a hurt child.  It’s okay, nothing to see here, I’m not embarrassed, everything will be fine, and I don’t feel the least bit guilty that we are doing things that are triggering him or that my husband is bearing the brunt of it all right now.  I didn’t know what else to do.

Just to be clear, I’m not exhausted because of the friends (oh how I wish we all still lived close together), I’m exhausted because of the acting.  I don’t know how actors can do what they do and not loose it.  Maybe that’s why so many of them wind up in rehab or Scientology.

Ha!  I joke.  I really know nothing about Scientology except the weird stuff I hear; but how many people know nothing about my church except for the weird stuff they hear, and how much of that weird stuff is just not true or taken totally out of context?  So I try to keep an open mind about other “weird” religions, but I digress.

Everything wasn’t okay.  It wasn’t a normal day with our hurt child.  I wasn’t okay.  There was a screaming, kicking, scratching, trying-to-bite child to see.  I actually wasn’t embarrassed, believe it or not.  I worry that everything won’t be fine, or that it will get much worse for a long time before it gets better.  I feel immensely guilty that we have put Spuds in this situation that is triggering him and that my husband has been dealing with it all while I pretend everything is ok.

But I don’t know what our options are or were.  We couldn’t leave Spuds at home with grandparents while we trekked west.  What message would that have sent?  We can’t not shop while we are here, because A~ needs stuff, and we couldn’t buy it all ahead of time and haul it across the country because, with six kids in the car, space is limited.  I suppose we could have been total hermits and not visited any family or friends while we are here . . . but?  I don’t know.  Maybe we should have just been hermits.  Maybe we have screwed up royally.  I hope we haven’t.  I hope that this will help him learn that he can trust us to not give him away to new people.  I mean, I know this one trip won’t do it, but hopefully it will be the beginning of a foundation of some kind.  Hopefully, somewhere in that scared and vulnerable psyche of his, he will remember all the conversations I’ve had with him about meeting new people and how we wouldn’t send him away with any of those people, and then he will see that we didn’t, and then, maybe, a little tiny corner of his subconscious will start to think, “Maybe these people will be trustworthy, maybe.”

So many maybes.

At one point, during the last tantrum, he yelled at McH, “You all hate me and you want to get rid of me!” or something like that.  Oh, how wrong he is.  He has no reason to think we aren’t shopping him around.  I know this.  It breaks my heart.  I hope someday he stops just hearing me say that we want him and love him and actually feels those words.  In the past he was told that he wouldn’t be allowed to stay with his family if his behavior didn’t improve.  I keep telling him we’ll love him no matter what.  I can’t wait until he believes me, deep down in his heart believes me.

This evening, since we’ve been back at the hotel, he’s been fine.  No more meltdowns.  I took him out in the hallway for a little chat away from the other kids and, once again, reassured him that he is going home with us and staying home with us.  He doesn’t like having these little chats where I ask him how he’s feeling and reassure him that we love him.  He doesn’t like to talk about anything that involves any kind of introspection or feeling.  On the up side, the chat did not lead to another meltdown (they never have before, so I felt pretty confident about chatting again).  It did lead to an apology to his dad.  Sure, I suggested it, but he agreed that he needed to do it.  The apology was semi-mumbled and delivered quickly, lest he should accidentally feel something in the process, but he did it.

I joked today about moving to Utah so that we could live closer to our good friends out here.  Spuds immediately piped up, “No!  No, I don’t want to live here.  I want to live in Canada South!”

Leaving A~ behind is going to come too soon, but getting Spuds home can’t come soon enough.

Tewt the Newt will not permit any more road trips for a long, long, very long time.

The Last Post Before She Goes

August 18, 2015

Today has been a day of lasts.  It is A~’s last day at home.  We had our last family dinner with her (I barely sat down).  She babysat the youngers for the last time while I ran errands.  And now, as I am throwing in the towel for the night and figuring we’ll get out the door in the morning whenever we manage to get out the door, as I am having one last cry in my bed before we take her away, I hear music slightly blaring from the basement as my three daughters have one last sisters’ “party” together.  That should make me happy.  I wish I had room in my heart to feel all of the positive emotions I should be feeling right now.

They are spending time together and enjoying it.
A~ is going to the university she has always wanted to attend, it is a competitive school, and she has a full-tuition academic scholarship.
She is getting out of the small town she loathes.
She will finally be among people like her.

What mother wouldn’t be thrilled over all of that?  I am thrilled for her, really I am.  But I am so steeped in grief that I can’t even feel it.  I know I’m being dramatic.  She’s alive, she’s healthy, she’s moving on as she should.  Yet my heart is exploding with the loss.

We leave tomorrow, but we still have a week and a day with her before we leave her.  I try to console myself with that, but if I’ve learned anything in the past seven days, it’s that a week goes by way too quickly.

My older friends who have been through this already tell me that, contrary to what one might think, it doesn’t get easier with each child.  Five more to go after this one.  I can’t even imagine going through this five more times.

There I am, being all dramatic again with my first world, successful kid problems.  I can’t help it.  It hurts.  I’m a mom.

My Hopes for Her

August 12, 2015

In one week from right now we will, all eight of us, will be on the road to take our oldest across the country and off to college.  She is going where she has always wanted to go, where I went.  She has a full-tuition scholarship for the upcoming school year.  She will finally get to escape this small town and be among “her people” (you know: bright, deep thinking, Harry-Potter-loving, book-reading, intellectual, testimony-driven people).  I am beyond proud of her, and beyond thrilled for her.  I’d be lying if I didn’t say I am even a little bit jealous of her.

And yet?  My heart is breaking.  I can’t sleep because I keep thinking about dropping her off and driving away, and I wonder if I’ve done a good enough job as her mother.  I worry that I haven’t.  I have so many hopes for her and this new school year, this brand new book in the series of her life, and I hope I’ve prepared her well.

I hope she will find good friends quickly.
I hope she will enjoy her classes (for the most part).
I hope she will learn more than she imagined possible, both in the classroom and out.
I hope she has a testimony that is as strongly rooted as I think it is.
I hope she turns to God for advice and comfort more than she turns to Alubus Dumbledore (wise though he is).
I hope she will be able to forgive me as time and distance give her a greater perspective on and understanding of my imperfections as a mother.
I hope she will become more confident.
I hope she will realize how truly amazing she is.
I hope she will remain humble, even in the face of that realization.
I hope she will join the quidditch team (because she has wanted to for a long time).
I hope she will study hard and get good grades.
I hope she will have fun.
I hope she will eat healthy, whole foods, even though I won’t be there to make sure she does.
I hope she will always feel welcome and wanted back at home.
I hope she will not worry too much, this year, about what her major should be.
I hope she will discover more of what God has in store for her.
I hope she will be able to be patient with her roommate (having a roommate can be difficult, no matter how great that roommate is).
I hope she will find opportunities to serve those around her.
I hope she gets to date a lot of boys.
I hope she doesn’t get married as a freshman.
I hope she will miss us all, but not too much.
I hope she won’t be too homesick.
I hope she won’t be homesick for too long.
I hope she grows to love the mountains as I did.
I hope she loves the Midwest even more.
I hope she will turn to me when she needs a shoulder to cry on.
I hope she will share her joys with me as well.
I hope she will be patient with me as I learn how to be the parent of an adult (it’s no fair that every new phase of her life has been met by a mother who has no experience with parenting that phase).
I hope she will be successful in her life.
I hope she understands what true success is.
I hope she will be safe.
I hope she will be healthy.
I hope she will be happy.
I hope she will doubt her doubts more than she will doubt her faith.
I hope she will continue to study her scriptures.
I hope she will pray always.
I hope she will continue to foster good relationships with her siblings, in spite of the distance.
I hope she will text or email me lots of pictures.
I hope she will do wacky, fun (but not dangerous or illegal) things.
I hope she will have more happy times than hard times.
I hope she will be able to learn and grow from and through the hard times.
I hope she will not be afraid to be feminine in a world that would have her be fierce.
I hope she will never defer to a boy just because she’s a girl.
I hope she will soak up the sun.
I hope she will start posting on Facebook so that I can follow along on her adventures.
I hope she will go through life knowing how much her mother loves her.

Tewt the Newt has no words.

Crossing Styx with Snowflakes in December

August 11, 2015

When your kid’s adoption triad looks more like a hexagon, it can be difficult to not be frustrated with one corner or another.  So, I’m a tad frustrated right now.  I want to write about it, but . . . maybe in the future.  He’s been hurt enough, and on the off, off, off, off, off chance that somebody finds my blog?  I don’t want it to cause further hurt on either side.  There are two sides to every story, and six corners to every hexagon, so I’m trying to put myself in . . . a lot of shoes.  Some of which really just. don’t. fit.

And?  I haven’t written anything funny in a while.  So?  Instead of venting?  I’m going to share a dream I had last night.  Hopefully it will be funny.  I mean, it was quite disturbing when I was dreaming it, but in the light of day?  Ha!  I think.

Begin dream sequence: (I need some kind of ripple font for that)

So the fam and I were on vacation in Florida, and we just happened to run into a fellow adoption blogger and her husband.  We stood there (wherever there was — it certainly wasn’t Harry Potter World, so I don’t even know why we were in Florida), when her husband asked me if I could go help him with something.

“Sure!  What do you need help with?” I asked.  I probably asked because, you know, my studly husband was standing right there, and surely he would be more help at anything than I would.

My friend encouraged me to go with her husband, so I did.  We were in some kind of . . . parking lot.  But, like, in front of a hotel or something.  You know, where they have those little half-moon pull through spaces so you can park there while you check in?  So there was this big van in that space, but it was somehow elevated just a bit.  The blogger friend’s husband told me to just stand there for a minute and he’d let me know when he needed my help.  He then proceeded to stack luggage in the back of the van in a very specific way before closing it up, walking around to the front, and hitting the hood of the van, thereby making it flip completely over and land on its top.  I quickly realized that he had just pulled off that prank that had been going around social media (you know, the prank where you stack luggage like Jenga in the back of a vehicle to get it off balance in just the right way then slap the hood so that it flips over onto its top — you don’t know that one?  Of course not.  I dreamt it).

I had absolutely nothing to do with flipping the van onto its top, but I was panic stricken because, at the exact second he slapped and it flipped, he magically transfigured himself into a horse and trotted off, and I was the only one standing anywhere near the van.  I knew I would be blamed, and I knew nobody would believe my defense of, “There was a guy here, but he turned himself into a horse so he could leave the scene without looking suspicious.”

Because hotel front doors are such equine hotspots, to be sure.

Oh!  I just remembered something!  He did tell me to stand back and watch my toes right before he flipped it.  Nice that he cared about crushing my foot bones.  I wonder if he was worried about the van landing causing injury, or about his impending hooves?  Oh well.

Anyway, as I knew would happen, I was blamed for the whole thing.  I tried to run from the scene of the prank/crime, but I think that made me look more guilty.  As I was fleeing, before the authorities caught me, I saw my blogger friend again and I was almost, but not quite, yelling, “You set me up!  Why did you do that to me????”  She then proceeded to inform me that the new blog I’d started to document Spuds’ adoption and adjustment?  The blog called Crossing Styx (which doesn’t exist, by the way) (or, if it does, it’s not mine) was offensive to her because Spuds’ previous adoptive mother, who I actually referred to as Styx on the blog, was her friend.

“Did you ever read the blog Snowflakes in December?” she asked me.  “That’s Styx!”

I had, in fact (that would be dream fact), read Snowflakes in December (which, just to make sure we’re all on the same page, doesn’t actually exist as far as I know), and I had no idea that it had anything to do with Spuds’ last family.  I thought that was a pretty sad commentary on the blog and the mother, given that it was an adoption blog and nothing about it ever would have hinted at Spuds being in their family.  I tried to explain to my blogger friend that I had read the blog, that I didn’t know that was Styx, and that it wouldn’t have made any difference because the things that I wrote about were true, and true is true.  I can’t change that.

She didn’t particularly care for my argument, and then the dream switched scenes.  I was back home, I think.  Maybe.  Regardless, it really didn’t matter where I was because no matter where I was, I was being tailed by a grumpy, bitter parole-officer-type-woman whose job it was to document everything I did and said in order to make sure that I didn’t go pulling the slap-and-flip vehicle prank anymore.  She wouldn’t believe me that I didn’t do it, and I knew that if I told her about the guy turning into a horse she’d have all my kids taken away from me.  Maybe she wasn’t a parole officer.  Maybe she just worked for DFS or something.  And?  She was naggy.  It was like being followed by Dolores Umbridge (she had a clip board), a DFS worker, and a live-in mother-in-law all at the same time.  *shudder*

Now I feel compelled to clarify that my real-life mother-in-law is not a nag.

Anyway, I woke up before anything bad happened.  I mean, that’s assuming that you don’t consider having your privacy totally invaded and documented by some government minion to be bad.  I was pretty happy to wake up, personally.

Ok, even if it wasn’t funny, it was weird, right?  And now?  It gives you all something to go arm-chair-psycho-analyze.

Tewt the Newt thinks you don’t need a degree to figure some of this out.


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