Sunday 16 December 2012

Archived Post 2012 - Dear Kate

Dear Kate,

I should have written this letter 4 days ago. In fact I intended to write it, I meant to write, I thought about it and then I got sick.  Then, as I started to feel better I went out with friends for a much-needed evening out with some other Moms who parent kids who are a lot like you. I had a whole day after that where I meant to sit down but I didn't. We got busy, I still kept trying to find a few minutes to sit down and get this done and then Friday happened.

On Friday a young man killed himself and 27 other people, some of them were children. I am not sure why he did it but I do know that he was a deeply troubled young man and he clearly did not get the help he needed.

I couldn't find words after that. I couldn't find words to talk to you, my 6-year-old who I alternately love intensely and am completed frustrated by,  because the world lost 20 wonderful kids your age on Friday and the grief I felt over that tragic loss made me need to curl up for a while and stay away from the internet. It made me need to hug you and cuddle with you and think about how you have found this place in my heart in the last nine months that is just for you.

December 14 will be one of those days that I remember in the years to come, I will remember that as the news broke I was making lunch for you and your brothers and that as the radio started talking about the story the three of you got really loud and I couldn't hear the details, then I heard that it was a school shooting and that children had died and in the that moment I was really happy you got loud. You did not need to hear about this, you did not need to worry about whether you would be safe in the world, you did not need to know that kids just like you had died that day.

Tonight as I type this you are asleep in your bed, you are unaware of what has happened this weekend, of the families who are mourning the loss of children just like you. We decided not to tell you because you have had more than your share of scary things go on, you are just learning to trust us, to believe us when we tell you that we will keep you safe and we did not have the heart to explain to you that sometimes we will not be able to do that for you. That we will always do everything we can but that might not be enough. I hope with every fiber of my being that it is though, that you and your brothers will always feel safe here.

Kate, you have brought so much into our lives and this weekend I was reminded of just how very thankful I am for you. I would not wish that you ever have to repeat a single step of that journey that brought you here to me, it was long and hard, you wear the scars and it makes me sad when I think about it but I must say I am so very happy you are here.

I love you, past the moon and back again.


Wednesday 21 November 2012

Archived Post 2012 - The Rinse Cycle

Things are on the repeat cycle. Twice in the last week I have been ready to throw in the towel and each time it has been with a different kid.

I went to our adoption support group tonight and after it ended I stood talking with other Moms, Moms who live my life and it made such a difference.  I so needed them tonight. There are a group of us who keep going, I think we are scaring away other people but oh well, this is it people, this is real, adopting older kids is not all unicorns and rainbows and it most definitely not the same as parenting biological children.

I am tired of trauma.

I love my kids, I would do anything for them but the feeling like a hostage because one of them tries to hurt people when I leave, we do not need that to happen.  And the pushing me till I explode part, we could lose that too, I would be okay with that.

What kid spend 3 hours pretending they are unable to learn to count by 5's and tells you to go ahead and take their favourite stuff away because they DO NOT CARE - my 6 year old that's who. That would be the same child who uses every swear word in the book and then hits me when those are not effective.

Yesterday was so many levels of insane I can barely even talk about it without getting angry. I mean that in all honesty. I was so angry and so frustrated that I sat silently for more than hour because if I had spoken I would of said something so horrible to one of my kids that we might never of recovered. They knew how mad I was, they played together without fighting for over an hour. Amazing what  having an insanely angry parent can do.

Someone I love is coming to visit tomorrow and holding on to the joy is going to get me there.
Sometimes it is the little things that make it so that I can try again tomorrow.

Monday 12 November 2012

Archived Post 2012 - Dear Kate

Dear Kate,

It has been 8 months since you moved in with us, 10 or so since that little nervous bundle of energy greeted me at excitedly the front door of your foster home. I knew in that moment 10 months ago that you were going to give me a run for my money and I was right. To be honest though, I knew that before you leapt into my arms and called my Mommy like you had known me forever on the day we first met.

The thing I is I knew about you long before you knew about us. Last November while I was standing in the airport waiting to fly to California I got a call from your adoption worker asking when we could come down and start making plans for your transition which was code for - she is yours. I remember calling your Dad and saying, she's ours, she's ours. We were so excited and yet we had to contain our excitement for another 3 moths before we would finally meet you.

It was a long 3 months, I dreamed about you, about having a girl, about dresses and pigtails and watching Annie. I dreamed about not being the only female at the table anymore, about having someone to share girl stuff with and teaching another small person that your Dad's feet are ticklish. I longed for you to be here with us and yet we had to wait.

You were worth the wait.

Today 8 months in I have thought about those dreams and about so much more. These last 8 months have had their challenges, they have been hard, but you are worth it, the little person who is in there under the anger and the pain is worth it. I hope you and I have the patience we need to help you move past all the hurt parts because the little girl who is in there under all those hurt parts, she is a wonder and I am thrilled that I can say you are mine.


Wednesday 7 November 2012

Archived Post 2012 - Triangles and Manipulatives

Yes this could totally be a post about a homeschool math lesson but it is not. Nor is it a post about how to create a triangle out of manipulatives  I know, I know that might be a really exciting thing to write about but I am talking about attachment disorder and my kids fantastic ability to form a triangle between herself and two other people and then manipulate that situation till she gets what she wants.

She is a master.

The boys did the same thing, they were pretty good and tried hard to make it work but Kate can do it with the skill of a ninja, you have to be watching to see it and even when my eyes and ears are on her I still sometimes miss it.

Lately she has been working on it with the boys, the problem is I am wise to her games and today she had to pay them back in Halloween candy which she hated and they loved. They are now encouraging her to be mean and manipulative so they can get more candy. She of course no longer wants to play, funny that.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Archived Post 2012 - When all else fails sing.

This is Christine, I love Christine, I stalk her but she totally know that so you can go ahead and stalk her to, really it's okay I can share.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

She is one smart cookie.  Press play, listen to her and then take a deep breathe and be silly.
We make up a lot of songs around here cause we have some kids who get really, really stuck. I was rather proud of this mornings and thought it might make you smile so feel free to sing along.

Cold Oatmeal( to the tune of the Farmer in the Dell)

I like my oatmeal cold, 
I like my oatmeal cold, 
I don't care what my mother says, 
I like my oatmeal cold. 

I can take all day to eat it, 
I can take all day to eat it, 
I have no where to be today 
So I can take all day to eat it. 

My brothers are laughing at me, 
My brothers are laughing at me, 
I don't care if they laugh all day
Cause I like my oatmeal cold. 

My raisins are walking away, 
My raisins are walking away, 
My raisins are bored and they don`t care 
that I like my oatmeal cold. 

I won't do what Mom says, 
I won't do what Mom says, 
My ears work fine but I don`t care 
cause I like my oatmeal cold. 

I think I probably had more verses but this morning was a long time ago and I can`t remember them now.

This week has been insanely long, I have 2 kids working through all sorts of huge feelings. I have managed in the last week to teach them that you can totally make Mom blow if you push her hard enough and when she is sick you do not have to push very hard. I have also taught them that singing along tends to make your siblings even more crazy than they already are, so leave the singing up to Mom. It`s a good thing I don`t give up easily cause this week past week I totally might of done it.

Tomorrow is another day, I have my singing voice on and will look for my patient pants in the morning.

Wednesday 12 September 2012

Archived Post 2012 - Dear Kate

Dear Kate,

Today marks month 6 since you moved here, no one made a comment, no one said anything to you at all about it, in fact I may have been the only one of use who remembered but there was a part of you today that was out to make me crazy. It was almost as if you knew something about today mattered aside from the fact that I was super sick and really just wanted to go back to bed from the moment I got up.

You started the day by having a tantrum over some ridiculous little thing and so I took you outside where you could holler and howl all you wanted but of course as soon as I encouraged you to you sat down and refused. Strong willed barely begins to describe you. Once you finally came inside you then spent much of the rest of the morning pouting. In fact,  by the end of the morning I was so tired of your games that I sent you to your room were you remained for much of the afternoon. Luckily for both of us you enjoy the toys you have in there and can entertain yourself for hours.

This happens about once a week, you have a really tough day where need to push every boundary you have just to see if you can. Sometimes I can manage it and let you play your games, other times I manage less well and you end up in trouble. I know what you are doing, I know why you are doing but oh my goodness it wears me down.

In the midst of all that behaviour there is a light in you that shines, you make us laugh at your ridiculous antics and fantastic little girl comments. You love your brothers when you are not trying to kill one of them with the death stare that you save just for them. You love home school and astound me with the things that you already know. You read all the time and are starting to want to write everything down and make little lists that you squirrel away for another day.

You like to wear dresses and leggings are your new best friend. I imagine that you and I are not going to see eye to eye on clothing in the very near future because you seem to think that tighter is better already and you are only 6. You are still addicted to monkeys and if could wear your monkey hoodie everyday I think you would . We had a fantastic summer and you are looking very forward to winter so that you can go sledding again.

You are a joy Kate, I am thrilled you are my daughter even on the really tough days.


Saturday 8 September 2012

Archived Post 2012 - Love

I have this boy, he is funny, adorable and has the ability to light up a room with his laughter. He has a great sense of humour,  he loves sports and music, he is his little sisters hero. His name is Fudge and I love him in a way that only a mother could. He makes me crazy with his misbehavior and his antics but underneath all that silly little boy behaviour I see a glimmer of the wonderful man that he is going to grow into. A man who will be a fabulous at whatever paths he chooses to pursue because if there one thing that persistence is good for it is being successful.

I have not always been able to speak of him in that way, there was a long time when neither of us wanted to love one another. We have moved through that in many ways, it took a really, really long time, years in fact but then this week, he reminded me how very hard things can be with him.

On Wednesday he took me to a place I have not been to with him for a while, a place where he reminded me just how tenuous our relationship was for much of the first 3 and half years that he was my son.

There was a time about 2 years ago when I had given up hope that Randall would ever love me. They were dark days for me, days when I thought that things might never get better. Weeks and months when I had to let Jack be the only parent Randall had because he was not willing to let me be his parent. I cooked his meals and did his laundry, I kissed him goodbye and goodnight but really that was all. Jack did everything else, all the nurturing, all the conflict resolution, assigning of consequences, all the stuff parents do for their kids was up to him. It was the only way to make it work.

Randall hated me, yes I said hated. It was not me as a person he hated, it was me as his Mom. He had been so hurt and he was missing the Moms he had before so profoundly that there was no way he could attach to another woman who said she was going to be his Mom. He had no reason to trust that I was not going to leave him even though I said was not.

I almost gave up more times than I would like to admit. I almost threw in the towel and stopped trying because I felt like it would never change. In the spring of 2011 he and I started therapy together again. I was committed to giving our relationship a chance to be something more than it was, something more than just a kid and his caregiver which was how I felt. Therapy was hard, he consistently talked about how the grass was greener everywhere else, about how I was not as good as everyone else and how really there was nothing that I could do that would be good enough.

It hurt.

I cried a lot.

But I kept going.  Looking back I am not sure how. I am not sure what kept me going during those really dark months. I know that I was holding on to the fact that if he never attached to me it was not my fault, that I would of done everything I could to make him feel safe and loved. I could only show it to him though, I could not make him love me, that was up to him. There were times when I wondered what giving up would mean for our family, his brother was doing well and after much discussion we decided that it would just mean that Jack would be his only parent, that was really hard for me to think about and admit.

Week after week we pushed through, things got way worse, way harder and then almost a year after we started things started to change.  The changes I was seeing in him gave me so much hope for our relationship. He let me do things for him, he came to me for comfort and just to say hello, he wanted to brush my hair and to touch and to be touched. These were all huge steps for him and although there were times when the last thing I wanted was to let him touch me I did it, I sucked it up because I knew that this was what he needed.

When things finally started to change I was apprehensive, I was not sure that this was going to last but it did, he is slowly but surely attaching and it makes life with him so much more enjoyable. It makes me happy to be his Mom, I look forward to being together and not dreading our every interaction.

We have our moments, it is not all roses and sunshine around here let me tell you. This week I was reminded of that, on Wednesday he and I had an epic blowout, we were both so mad at one another the other kids were steering clear of both of us. Later when we were both calm, I talked through what had happened with him and apologised for totally blowing my top and he looked at me and said, " you kind of had a right to be that mad, I was being a jerk." I just about fell off my chair, I was floored by his ability to notice what he had done and admit it such a short time later.

He is attaching, I am attaching and we are going to be ok even if it did take 4 years to get here.

Friday 24 August 2012

Archived Post 2012 - Honestly...

This hard. I have said that before and I am about to say it again. This is hard. It makes me feel better when I voice that, when I speak the truth openly and let world in to all the pain and frustration that is parenting kids that other people hurt. I must say that I also know that parenting your own bio kids can be hard as well but I can only speak of what I know and that is older child adoption.

We have spent the last four years of parenting Randall and Kevin and there are days when I feel as though there is no way that I am ever going to make it through their adolescence and they are not even actually teenagers yet. Then you add Kate to the mix and not only am I outnumbered but their joint super powers are like kryptonite against my therapeutic parenting powers.

This week has been really hard.

Epic tantrums, big emotions, pee in places I would rather it not be, hurt feelings, mean words, anger, sadness, thrown food, lies, manipulation and triangulation just begin to scratch the surface of the things I have dealt with.

Tuesday was among the worst days I have had in a long time. Once it was over I took a deep breath, changed my expectations for my kids and talked myself into changing the way I had resorted to handling things lately. It was not working and if something did not change there was no way that I could keep the gray away until 40.

I put on my patient pants, I lowered my voice, I challenged myself to remember that some of this was just kid stuff and not only hurt kids behaviours. I worked on that for Wednesday and Thursday, it was a bit better, not great but better.

Then there was today, I threw a curve ball at my kids. changed up their routine with the announcement of unexpected ( although welcomed and loved) guests for supper. The house looked like a bomb went off, there was nothing to make for supper and I was busy canning peaches. Guests were not on today's list.  But I need to say aloud that my kids pulled together, listened to me, cleaned, got along and made it all happened.

Were the chores all done properly? Nope.  Was there bickering? Yep. Did kids have to repeat things?  Oh yeah, but no one hurt anyone else. Progress I tell you, progress.

My kids look for fights with one another and with me, they long for the chaos that an argument brings and when I do not engage, when I just call them back and make them fix it ( even though it is the 3rd time they are sweeping the bathroom because they have missed behind things each and every time even though it has been specifically mentioned multiple times), in those moments I am Wonder Woman because when I can stay calm. I am not feeding into the chaotic crazies that they want.

It is hard to stay calm in when yogurt is hitting the fan or when they walk away in the middle of a sentence but it really does work. I did not raise my voice once yesterday and although there were lots of  reasons for me to yell my head off (trust me I am one loud mama) I didn't do it. I was calm and quiet and it worked. Today was a little tougher but I did not yell about the big stuff although I did raise my voice but mostly just to be heard over the lawnmower or for kids to stop carrying one another like sacks of potatoes up and down the recently mopped staircase because the paper work after the big accidents is horrendous.

It's hard, this parenting stuff,  but keeping some perspective about my reactions is helping make it a little easier this week.

May I be wise in the coming week.

Sunday 12 August 2012

Archived Post 2012 - Dear Kate

Dear Kate,

There is not very much to say, I could take last months letter and simply repeat it because you are continuing to both drive me crazy and make me fall head over heels in love with you at the same time. The falling in  love you with you part is a really good thing because when I have discovered some of your antics lately I have had an intense desire to hang you upside down from the moon, luckily for both of us I can not reach the moon.

This past month we went on vacation to the beach and had a fantastic time.  You had never been to the ocean and you were terrified that crabs were going to eat your toes,  neither of your brothers were very helpful as I tried to convince you it would be fine. You swam, surfed and built sand castles like a pro, it was a great week.

We also just came back four days with some of my friends and I was so impressed at how well you handled yourself. You had some stellar moments but all in all in you made great choices and really enjoyed having the chance to play with some other kids your age for hours on end. You also showed me that you have the fabulous ability to be really sensitive to the needs of other kids... maybe we can work on getting you to do that with your brothers.

It's only been 5 months but I can't imagine our life without you.


Thursday 12 July 2012

Archived Post 2012 - Dear Kate,

Dear Kate,

Before I say anything else I need to tell you that you are a joy. You light up our lives in a way that we did not know was possible, your Daddy agrees with me, you make us laugh aloud each and everyday. That grin, those comments, your timing and your fabulous imagination make me grateful that you are a part of my life.

It is that grateful feeling that keeps me going and that is a really good thing because lately you have pulled out all the stops in an attempt to see just what you might get away with. Just the other day you thought it would be funny to make faces at your brother as he got in trouble for something which of course would of made him more angry but you got caught. You also thought that it would be a good idea to go ahead and let the dogs out yourself which meant they ran away. I was less then impressed.

You still swear like a sailor and lie better than I did as a kid which is saying something cause I was pretty good liar. You have learned that throwing your juice at me, deleting all the photos off my camera and eating all the strawberries in the strawberry patch are not such good ideas unless you are looking for trouble.

But underneath all that behaviour, behind all those walls there is this beautiful little girl that we get to see glimpses of.  You are creative and have the most wonderful imagination, you make up these fabulous and complicated imaginary games that I try to follow but usually can't. You love to play orphans which amuses me each and every time you do it. You are bright and funny and you try to joke with your brothers which doesn't always work so well but you keep trying. You can read and you love to write, I am not encouraging you to read and yet you keep getting better and better.

I was thinking today about how happy I am that we fought for you, that we pushed the system to trust that living with other kids would be good for you. It is. You test and push and try to get them sent away so you can have us all to yourself but you are learning so much from them and even though they would never admit they are learning from you to.

Kate, you are a joy and I am so happy you are ours.


Monday 9 July 2012

Archived Post 2012 - This is hard.

  • it is hard to say that the post I was going to write today has been postponed cause this was a day that has left me spent.
  • it is really hard to here a child you have loved for 4 years tell you that he wishes he lived somewhere else. 
  • that he wishes he lived with a parent who hurt him, neglected him and left him alone. 
  • it is hard to watch him struggle through the pain of realizing that this woman, his first mother gave him life but hurt him so profoundly.
  • it is hard to explain addiction to children. 
  • it is hard to be rejected even though you do everything you can to be  the best parent you can be. 
  • it is hard to listen to your kid dig themselves a great big hole with their fantasies about what might of been and every time you offer them a rope to climb out they throw it in your face.
  • it is hard to remain hopeful when a kid is screaming at you about how horrible you are.
  • it is hard to be understanding when all you want to do is yell at them for the crappy choices they are making. 
  • it is hard to be a Mom. 
  • it is hard to listen to your kid tell stories designed to get another kid in trouble, they are not quiet lies but are right on the edge and without careful questioning the wrong conclusion could be drawn. 
  • it is hard to find the truth
  • it is hard to catch the giant moths that fly into your house at night when one of your kids leaves the only window without a screen open and the light on. 
  • it is hard to say that my lately my children are all sharing many of these stellar behaviours, it might be easier if there was only one of them but I don't do easy very well. 
  • it is hard. 

Wednesday 27 June 2012

Archived Post 2012 - 12!

Can it really be that this boy, our little Kevin, (who is as tall as I am now) is 12 today...

We met him at 8. He was outgoing and bold, underneath he was terrified. He has come so far in the last 4 years. He has moments of being a total jerk, an annoying oldest kid, a sensitive young man, a generous soul and a child with an insecure attachment who has an intense fear of abandonment by the people he now loves, us.

Tonight we had a party he did not know about because if you do not know that your family is going to celebrate how awesome you are you can not ruin it. If your siblings do not know they can not ruin it either. We celebrated his awesomeness tonight and he held it together, he was polite and handled both excitement, surprise and disappointment well. This is one of my favourite pictures from today because the look on his face is one of pure joy ( getting money tends to do that to for him) but I love how very happy he is.

It has been an insane week ( end of school, grade 6 grad, his birthday, about to go to camp alone for the 1st time ) for him and I expected disaster but instead I have been met with maturity and grace. He is growing and turning into a wonderful kid, he has his moments, he is still healing and needs things other kids his age wouldn't but that's okay, he will keep growing and as long as he is all that he can be than I will be happy both with him and for him.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

Archived Post 2012 - Dear Kate,

Dear Kate,

It has been 90 days since you came to live with us. You could also say 12 weeks or that I have been your Mom for three months, but really the number does matter because it feels like it has been forever.

You clearly think I am new at this parenting hurt kids gig. I'm sorry to tell you that I'm not.  You seem to think that you can pull the wool over my eyes on a daily basis and you are most upset when you discover that not only do I know what you are doing but I make you do it again the way I asked you too the first time. There is a lot of foot stomping that goes on on your part.

There were so many things that happened this month that I want to remember and some others that I would just as soon forget. You are learning that I follow through and always do what I say I am going to do. This week you learned that  walking through the whole museum barefoot was not as much fun as thought it would be but if you keep kicking off your flip flops every 2 seconds after you have been asked to stop eventually I am going to make sure that you stop kicking them off. Once I finally gave them back to you go outside you managed to keep them on your feet just fine, I thought you could probably walk in flip flops and I was right.

I also learned that you are not afraid of much, you will try to shatter a glass door with your fist if you think it will work and the fact that it hurts means little to you. Luckily for all of us you were not successful but you did learn that sometimes when I am SCARED it sounds more like I am mad. We talk about that a lot, you definitely learned something that day although I think that you might try it again.

You met your grandparents this month too, you were so excited to get to know them in person instead of just talking to them on the phone. Grandma made you a grumpus* and hid it in the basement. You cried at the thought of going into the basement with the boys to find it but you were so excited at the same time. It was really cute. You were devastated at the thought of being left with them when your Dad and I went out for dinner but you survived and when I came home you were so happy to see me and that was such a pleasant surprise.

You were baptised last Saturday and your foster parents who are now your Godparents drove up for the day, you were so excited to see them and I was so proud of how well you handled yourself throughout the day. I was expecting there to be a lot of tears and frustration on your part but you managed so well. I braced myself for the fallout and although there was some you really were pretty spectacular about the whole thing. I keep waiting for the shoe to drop but I think that you dropped both of them in the week before they came and now you are shoeless, well either that or you are plotting your next move with careful precision.

I have learned this month that you are always on top of everything, you miss nothing and you have the ability to recall details from events with the clarity of a well trained detective. This can be fabulous and awful at the same time. I have learned not to second guess you. With all the has been going on I am amazed at how often I see appropriate emotional responses from you and that you are learning about how things work in our family. You are growing before my very eyes and the good days give me so much hope for the future.

You are a wonder Kate


*In our house the Grumpus lives in the basement and sometimes at night he comes out and bites you when you are sleeping and then you wake up grouchy. Kate did not believe in the Grumpus, she called Grandma and Grandma told her that there was a Grumpus and that when she came to visit she would convince the Grumpus to let Kate meet him. The only cure for a Grumpus bite is being tickled, in case you were wondering 

Saturday 12 May 2012

Archived Post 2012 - Dear Kate,

Dear Kate,

Today marks 2 months since we moved you from your big city to our small town. Last night while your father and I were talking over you so that you might assimilate some of what we were saying about how we thought you might be feeling after a difficult day you said something brilliant. You said, "I am nervous cause this is my last family."

That sentence speaks volumes about what has gone on here in our family in the last month. We have had good times and really, really tough times. There are days when you manage to push the buttons of every single member of this family in a way that I never knew that a six year old was capable of and yet at the days ends and you melt into my arms, wanting and longing to attach.

Even though you can drive me absolutely crazy, I am loving getting to know you. This month you officially became a Beaver and you were so proud, you wanted to come home and tell your brothers all about it and show them your new necker. We went camping (only for one night) and you charmed the pants off every Scout leader you encountered. You had strawberries and rhubarb for the first time and loved it. You learned that spring around here means gardening and that means picking weeds and rocks. You are not a big fan of the garden but I think that you will get used to it.  You love bubbles, playing house and jumping on the trampoline. You are learning to love your brothers and to annoy them in that way that only a little sister can.

The other day you were playing with them as you ran through the house screaming that you were going to catch them I paused and marveled at how well  the 3 of you could get along. There was a minute when you tried to swear at them but caught yourself and then spent the next 30 minutes shouting that you were going to catch those puckers, it really was rather cute and there was really no way to correct you cause you were not really swearing after all.

Kate, you are a fabulous little being, even if it is hard I am thrilled to be your parent.


Friday 27 April 2012

Archived Post 2012 - 44 months and a ball.

Randall has been my son for 44 months which is about 1341 days or 32 184 hours... that's a lot of hours.

For the first 38 of them he merely tolerated my presence in his life. I was not the Mom he wanted and there was little I could say or do to make him change his mind. In many ways we tolerated each other, he tried to make me miserable ( succeeding frequently) while I tried to make him love me. Although I did make some progress ( in the processing of teaching him to trust me) I really felt like was rowing backwards at the edge of a waterfall. He did come to me for comfort on occasion, he did occasionally reach out to me, there was a part of him that wanted to be loved but the walls he had built around his heart where solid and very, very high.

He let Jack in first and as a result for a long time Jack did much of the parenting of Randall on his own. I met his day-to-day physical needs but when it came to handing out consequences or dealing with big issues Jack handled it. I supported him as best I could, I participated and Randall knew we were in this together but since he was so very good at making me crazy it was easier to step away and let Jack deal with it.

There were so many days when I felt as though nothing was ever going to change and that I had to be ok with that. He might never attach to me, it may always feel as though he is someone else's child and I am just taking care of him. I began to accept that he might never heal in the ways that his brother had. In many ways I had given up hope that anything was ever going to change. We were destined to tolerate one another's presence, nothing more and as heartbreaking as that was for me I had accepted it as best I could.

( please excuse me while I now compare my relationship with my son to a baseball game)

Then one day in October, literally out of left field there was a ball, he threw it to me and I caught it. It was a small ball, a little tiny piece of love thrown from him to me. Slowly but surely he started to throw more and more tiny little love balls in my direction. Weeks passed although he was still throwing little love balls my way he was also throwing great big huge balls that screamed you don't love me enough to keep me. As he threw those huge screaming balls he tested out how he could make me stop loving him. Catching those huge balls as they screamed toward me was infuriating and hopeful at the same time.

This past week he ran out of left field, circled the bases and met me at home plate. He ran straight into my waiting arms. I think he might be here to stay ( that doesn't mean he'll stop testing but he believes me when I say I love him) and it warms my heart to think that maybe, just maybe he might let me love him the way he deserves to be loved.

He is a fabulous kid with a compassionate and loving heart and I am so glad that he is finally trusting enough to let me take a little piece of it and keep it all for me, his Mama.

Thursday 12 April 2012

Archived Post 2012 - Dear Kate

Dear Kate,

A month ago you moved into my home and found yourself a little corner of my heart to call your own. Learning to parent a daughter has been amusing to say the very least, you like dolls, tea parties and lip gloss. You are definitely nothing like your brothers although you can hold your own with them as though you had lived together your whole lives. You love to read and would love to play Candy Land or Snakes and Ladders all day if I was willing.

You inspire and infuriate me on a daily basis.

Your resilience and desire to be a member of this family inspires me. Your understanding of your needs and your ability to express them make me wonder if you are really only 6. You can tell us why your make the choices you make, you can spout therapeutic language like a professional and you know that what you really need is to learn to trust that we are going to love you and keep you safe. You are working on learning to trust us, I know it will not happen over night and in the mean time your ability to infuriate makes me crazy.

On Saturday in about 30 minutes you figured out how to use an adjustable wrench to loosen the bolts on the poles for the safety net on the trampoline causing them to fall one at a time as your brothers jumped on the trampoline. I was less than impressed. You can push your brothers buttons in a way that only younger sister can.  You behave poorly with other kids when you feel stressed so that adults will intervene and help you regulate your emotions. You ignore our rules and try to get away with murder when ever you think that you might be successful. You break toys and steal things you want to have.

And yet when you get busted, you always come clean in the end. You lie first, again and again you will lie and then eventually you come clean. Your guilt takes over and you come and tell me. Sometimes I knew you did it and other times I had no idea but I can't let you know that because if I did you might never fess up again.

Your desire to become the child you were meant to be inspires me to keep going, inspires me to keep pushing ahead even when it seems as though you have done your very best to push me over the edge.

You are a scared, traumatized kid trying to make her way in a world that has taught you that you will not be safe if you are vulnerable child.

Kate, it's okay to be a kid, I will keep you safe. I promise.


Wednesday 4 April 2012

Archived Post 2012 - Wash, Rinse, Repeat

I have had a day, actually I have had a week that would roll my socks if I thought about it for to long and it is only Wednesday.

We will survive.

At one point tonight I had 3 kids having epic meltdowns because the behaviours of their siblings were triggering them and thus everyone was freaking out. Jack was not home from work, the phone kept ringing and my wine iv was not yet inserted ( that part is a joke, you need not worry or report me). I survived it all though and I must pat myself on the back and say that I did it very well.

Yesterday one kid had therapy and we pushed him really hard to work through some tough stuff that he does not want to work through. One kid got sent home from school, well actually I pulled him out because they called me as he was non complaint and the ridiculous staff could not get him to be complaint... if they had asked the right staff member he would of turned it around but that did not happen and I had to go to the school at which point I just took him home. As I had one kids in the car and was heading inside to get the other their older sister T showed up. They have not seen T in months ( long story). She goes to school around the corner and has run into me there before. We have been meaning to get together since I found her a couple of weeks ago but things have been super busy. I think she was waiting to see if I showed up that day and lo and behold I did, with her brothers in tow.

Awkward barely begins to describe the boys interaction with her. None of them know what to say to one another and she was really parental and rather critical of both of them. They both laughed off what she had to say but I think that they were both hurt and reasonably uncomfortable. She is really struggling in her own life and I am just not sure what to do or how to help her.

I spent some time tonight, 24 hours later comforting Kevin over the tragedy that is not having his sister involved in his daily world. I can only begin to imagine how hard this is for him, he longs for her and I rarely even know where she is or what she is up to because the system is bent on protecting her privacy even if that means not having her siblings involved in her life. This angers me but I am helpless to change it. My boys hurt though and it makes me angry that the system is not willing to help them maintain a relationship that is so very important to them.

Today I also had the privilege of  walking Randall through dealing with an old trauma trigger that reared its head and that he felt helpless to deal with. He had skills and tools and did not use any of them. To say I was frustrated barely begins to cover it and although he was triggered and scared I had to keep leaving him to deal with his siblings who were melting down in a much more spectacular fashion elsewhere in the house.

And there is my Kate, my girl who has lived in my home for not even 30 days and is working so hard to do the work she needs to do. I was in awe of her today and she trusted me with even more of the horrific story that is her trauma and that asked me if I could keep her safe, if we could keep her safe because she is so very scared of being hurt again.

She is 6.

There is not a six year old in the world who should ever have to ask an adult if they can keep them safe. As Kate cried in my arms in a parking lot at the drugstore I assured her that I would keep her safe. That we would keep her safe, that is what families do.

We picked up her brothers, we went to library, we came home, all hell broke loose. I was not surprised that she was unable to hold it together after our afternoon. I was not surprised that Kevin lost it when Kate began talking about T and then he made threats when she would not stop talking about her. Randall did not shock me with his choices either as we talked about all the things he could of done instead of the doing what he did.

Jack came home with a roast chicken and box of wine. I was grateful.

Kate made some interesting choices both during and after dinner and thus was in bed early. Once she was in bed the boys and I finished game of Ticket to Ride because one of the most important things I can do for them right now is to spend time with them once Kate is in bed. They need time without her pushing their buttons and they need to do things that are just for them.

Once they were all in bed Jack and I took some much needed time to talk and decompress, it was a really long day. I worked hard, I heard a lot of hard things and as we talked I was reminded that if I am feeling this way how must my kids feel. Healing from trauma is hard work for them and helping them is hard for us.

If anyone has an inside line on  never ending patience I would appreciate being connected, that or the wine iv I mentioned earlier...

Wednesday 21 March 2012

Archived Post 2012 - Adjusting

We are adjusting to the change that is being a family of 5. I am tired, exhausted might be a better word but I must say that all things considered we are doing pretty well.

Last week was brutal. I knew it would be hard but it was way harder than I thought it would be.   Kevin had the hardest time by far and I must admit that it sort of caught me off guard. I had expected Randall to have a difficult time but I thought that Kevin was going to cope better given what we saw during our transition, I was wrong. His inability to cope with the controlling nature of a very scared 6-year-old who has just moved in meant that we saw behaviour we had not seen in years.

We kept telling him she is 6, she is scared, it will get easier but that meant little to him when she was trying to make him crazy. If I turned my back for 30 seconds and I mean literally turned it so that my eyes were not on them directly, one of them would provoke the other one in an attempt to create chaos. It worked, there was a lot of chaos here last week.

Things are easier with the boys being back at school, Kate still needs constant line of sight supervision when with them but with them at school it is much more manageable. She needs constant supervision in general but it able to entertain herself when alone without trying to triangulate the boys against one another or against me. It is a bit overwhelming to see this level of manipulation from a 6-year-old. I expected it, I am used to it and I still find it overwhelming, I can not even imagine what would have happened if she had been placed in family that just saw her adorable smile and expected sunshine and rainbows. Do not get me wrong there are absolutely wonderful moments but I am not for a minute going to suggest that this easy because it is not easy for any of us, her included. It is good but good and easy are not the same thing.

Her attention span with playdoh has disappeared and we are headed outside because someone somewhere in the universe decided to do me a favour and make it summer this week. It is hot here, like wearing shorts turning off heat hot, which is scary for March around here but it has been a nice treat I must say even if it does frighten me in terms of what it means for the summer and climate change.

Friday 24 February 2012

Archived Post 2012 - Subtle... Well one of them is.

Kevin is healing, he is a great kid who has worked so hard to overcome his early trauma but lately he has begun to slide into old behaviour patterns. Yes I know that the behaviours are because he is worried and stressed about all that is going on in our lives. His concern over the impending changes in our family are subtle, so subtle in fact that you might not even notice them if you were not with him on a daily basis, but I am and he is starting to drive me over the edge. Let me rephrase that, he has driven me over the edge but I think I can climb back up with the help of a few deep breaths, a bottle of white and friends who get it.

He does little things like refuses to eat or hides half eaten food, he accuses his brother of looking at him or of thinking mean thoughts about him. You know, cause he can totally read his brothers mind. On their own each of things is small but when put together they start to add up and I am slowly going crazy with his antics.

On the bright side, he is not raging or actively trying to hurt anyone so I do have something to be grateful for because I do not miss the raging boy at all and this is so much easier than dealing with that.

Randall on the other hand is little less subtle, instead he is just clingy, he follows me around the house like a lost puppy wanting to be in the same room as me at all times and as much as I love the boy having him act like a second shadow is getting old really fast. He is way less subtle than his brother when he expresses himself and freaks out if anyone gets an ounce more attention than he does. He is concerned about adding Kate means for his relationship with Jack and frequently tells me that Jack needs to work less so that Fudge can see him more often. He told me last week that sisters are to much work and that he would rather have a brother cause little brothers are better and why on earth did I choose a girl. There is no reasoning with him, so I just acknowledged his feelings and moved on. But the poor kid is really having a hard time.

It is a bit crazy around here right now, I started this post yesterday and then all hell broke loose ( everyone is fine) but we had 2 boys and 1 young adult all having meltdowns ( one of which was life altering sort of meltdown)  and in the midst of all that another friend called to say that a friend is having a midlife crisis. A midlife crisis that might mean I have to do something I would not want to do... all of that made this post feel a bit pointless cause yesterday there was nothing SUBTLE about anyones behaviour. 

Friday 3 February 2012

Archived Post 2012 - More transitions

I am sitting here listening to my boys yell and holler as they try to get our dogs out into the pen for the day. They do it every morning and some days it is really amusing just to sit back and listen to them banter with one another and the dogs. They are a bit like a clown troop in a circus and it frequently involves lots of spilled water and a cat who tried to get in the way. This morning they are particularly excited because they are meeting Kate tonight.

Transitioning Kate to our family is a complicated process because of her issues and the fact she lives 5 hours away. Jack has that funny work thing during the week and the boys have school and so that means we can only go there on weekends. Her foster parents ( who are fabulous) are both teachers and they have to do that funny working thing as well, so it means that they can only come here on weekends as well.. All of that means that this transition process is going to be long. We transitioned the boys in 2 weeks, which in many ways was not long enough but we saw them almost everyday for those 2 weeks.

Starting last week and for the next 5 weeks, our lives be a mix of some combination of us coming and going in order to make sure that we see Kate every week till she moves here in March. As frustrating as it is for us, the adults, I can not even begin to imagine how hard it is for her. The boys are bigger, have healed more and can understand the process but she is 6 ( her birthday was yesterday) and the planning of all this coming and going has her expressing a lot of mixed emotions and even though she is a bright and articulate little girl it is pretty confusing.

So today we go back with the boys in tow ( they are excited, which makes me happy) to spend the weekend with our daughter so that she can get to know us all a little better before she moves here
and all hell breaks loose, she is stuck with us, and finally knows that she is not going to move again. I have no fantasies about this transition being an easy one, or that the move will go smoothly but I do know that this is going to be a whole lot different than our last adoption because there is little that princess can do that we have not already got the t-shirt for. We have a lot of been there, done that t-shirts, the boys made sure of that!

Friday 27 January 2012

Archived Post 2012 - Expecting

In case you hadn't heard, we are expecting, again.
Isn't that exciting.
I am thrilled, excited does not even begin to cover how I am feeling.
It will be soon.
Tomorrow in fact.
We meet Kate tomorrow.
She will be 6 next Thursday.
I am looking forward to this with an equal share of excitement, concern and anticipation.
I am excited to have a daughter.
I am concerned about how very hard this is going to be.
I am anticipating the challenges in a way that only a parent who has already experienced older child adoption can.
She only just heard about us yesterday, she was excited to have brothers.
Her brothers are mostly excited to have a sister.
This journey, the one we are stepping into with arms open wide is going to be a challenging one.
I am expecting there to be lots of bumps and turns along the way.
Yet I look forward to it in a way that I never knew I could because I love my children and I am so looking forward to loving another as much as I love the two I already have.

Saturday 21 January 2012

Archived Post 2012 - Transitions

We are in a state of transition around here in my little corner of the universe and my time to blog has been limited and it's hard to justify the time. I enjoy writing and the community of friends I have here and yet given the state of our lives right now there is little time for spending time in the virtual world.
We have a dollhouse half assembled on the dining room table, we have a pink and green bedroom mostly painted, we have a transition plan for getting to know Kate (who currently lives 5 hours away) and we have sons who are finding all of this change alternately terrifying and exciting. Their fear manifests itself as behaviour that I sometimes deal with in a calm, therapeutic fashion, other times I am less than stellar in my responses. I have been more conscious of how my reactions affect my kids and am working to keep the stellar moments to a minimum.

That being said though, I am seeing huge changes in the boys as they learn that no matter what they are here forever. We have had a rough few months emotionally as we have all survived, no one has exploded or left and I think that in many ways that has been really good my kids sense of security. We are working hard at communicating with one another helpful ways and I am working hard at making sure that my buttons are a little harder to push than they were a few months ago. One of my children is particularly good at pushing my buttons and it was definitely affecting his attachment to me. I had to be the one to change so that he could move closer to me. He still pushes, I still react, I am just reacting differently than I did before (as often as I can) and I see him moving closer to me as a result. It was a change I had to make because once Kate arrives things are going to get a lot harder.

The last 2 months of  waiting have been good for us though, a good time to dream and hope, to talk and imagine what life will be like. Once we start the transition next week there will no going back.  I guess I better ready for the ride cause my gut says that even though we are all excited this roller coaster ride is going to have some hidden curves.