On a good day, parenting will test the integrity of your character. On a bad day, parenting will test your will to live. Parenting children with trauma histories will cause you to test the integrity of everything and everyone you thought you knew, for the rest of your life.
~J. Skrobisz

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

This and That

It's been a VERY busy week and a half.  I'll be back later with more to talk about but for now, will you consider visiting my Etsy store?  We're still working on paying off AB's dental appliance bill.  Thanks!


Monday, November 21, 2011

Resistance is Futile

how did it go, how did it go...

good, bad but neither ugly nor beautiful.

I'm exhausted. She didn't stop talking. When asked to stop talking she said, "I didn't even know I was talking." She just chattered and chattered to no one about everything. It fried my nerves.

OK, I've done this therapeutic parenting thing long enough to know that when discussing an event, one should begin with a positive, then add the negative and finish off with another positive. Let me try once more.

She was well kept when I picked her up - clean, no stains, hair tidy, face washed. She was excited to see me and happy to be going home for the weekend. She was pleasant on the trip home which was easy enough with a movie playing (thank god for the advances of modern technology!) She went straight to sleep and woke up cheery on Saturday morning. She didn't begrudge the yard work we all did as a family and was excited about our fire pit and s'mores plan for that evening, the children's reward for their hard work. When she got upset it was a tantrum and not full blown raging.

She had to be redirected at every turn. She didn't stop talking. She was rude and short-tempered. She showered but didn't wash so we made her shower again (this after profuse lying and complaining that the staff at the hospital doesn't care how long she showers and never checks after her.) She couldn't occupy herself, had to be given instructions even just to have "fun". She complained of belly pain for nearly four hours until she figured out that I wasn't going to go berserk about it. She tantrumed in her room, kicking and punching the walls. She picked fights with WG, she wouldn't receive correction, she blamed everything on everyone else and she asked me to get her a lot of stuff. To the point of my distraction. It was everything I could do to keep my stuff together.

But she settled down after her tantrum, 30 minutes before it was time to return to the hospital. She let me rub her back and talk to her about some of the things that need to be changed in order for living at home to be successful for her. She didn't launch into primal rage screaming and didn't threaten to hurt herself or anyone else.

How'd I do? Do I get the nod for therapeutic parenting?

Good. Now I can breathe. *sound of air escaping a large balloon that is now flapping and flitting all over the room until it empties and lands on the floor with a wet 'flap'*

And we get do to it again on Wednesday AFTER I bring WG and AB with me to the hospital and do a family session with Sissy and the therapist. Show of hands, how many of you think AB is going to handle that trip and therapy session well? Oh, look at that. No one has raised their hands.

Right, then. Whose bringing me a shot of vodka Wednesday evening when I get back with them knowing I'll have to turn around the next day and take them four hours round trip for Thanksgiving dinner with The Dad's family? Ah, there we go, much better. All of you have offered to commiserate with me and alcohol. Thank you.

Meanwhile, I'm quilting up a storm. I'm happy to report that I've got a few commissioned projects in the queue and AB's dental bill is slowly being whittled down. Keep your eyes peeled, I'll be adding some Christmas items on my Etsy shop. And once again, thank you SO very much to those of you who have contributed to my vices. I still wonder in amazement at the love and generosity I've gotten. From a new sewing machine to yards and yards of fabric, I'm one lucky gal indeed and I owe it all to you, my readers!

Now I'll have to surrender some of my coveted space in the garage/den (which has officially been deemed "The Happy Zone") to make room for a Christmas tree. Some of you may recall last year's tree debacle. AB suggested we put up a tree this year in The Happy Zone and after much deliberation, it appears that his idea may prove best. It just means I have to shuffle my quilting a wee bit.

I'll get over it.

With Sissy having left for the hospital before school started, we didn't get a annual portrait of her so I took some head shots yesterday and got them printed out at the local pharmacy. We hope to get a family photo over Thanksgiving as it's been three years since we had one. That's too long but the past few holidays have been so hard and we've endured so much as a family that the thought of encapsulating that grief and trauma in a photo was too much to bear. This year I'm marginally optimistic. Enough to get a photo or two. Which is saying A LOT. Turns out proz@c's good for a lot of things.

So as I wrap up my morning, the coffee in my cup ...hang on a sec ... now officially gone (I had to drink the last sip before I could type that because otherwise I'd have been lying), WG's friend leaving in a few minutes after a long overdue sleep over, bills waiting to be paid, holiday groceries waiting to be shopped for and quilting in The Happy Zone neatly laid out last night so I can piece the blocks, I shall conclude with a thought or two about the shopping TL.

The original thought behind that shopping experience began when the therapist asked me what events at home were the most likely triggers for Sissy. I replied that any community outing was a challenge for both her and AB. She asked for more specifics. I began listing the places I consider taboo to take them too unless I absolutely have to. Of course, the grocery store was on the list.

This conversation was taking place during an FTM (family team meeting) which was staffed by the CBAY representative and the FSP (family support provider) who I'd met only two minutes before the discussion although she's "been on the team the whole time", a team that got it's inception in JUNE... I digress. Also in attendance was Sissy, myself, Sissy's individual therapist and the family therapist. We were all huddled in a room about 9x8, door closed, chairs and a table. It was cramped. Sissy was rocking. All eyes were on me. I was the only one talking and the general theme of the FTM was that we collaborate as a team to think of ideas in which "the family could be supported in the home environment to ensure a successful transition after discharge". (really, I get so freakin' tired of all that happy-go-lucky mumbo-jumbo therapy talk. *enter fake vomiting sounds here*)


The therapist landed on the grocery store thing. "What about the grocery store is hard for you and Sissy?" I tried to explain the past images and melt downs and rages I could see in my head and tried to verbally reiterate those events and with all those eyes on me I felt like I was bumbling and failing to communicate and Sissy was rocking and ... the therapist said, "would you be willing to do a TL at the grocery store so we can trouble-shoot those problem areas?" and like a deer in the headlights I said, "yes." because after all, it was an FTM and we were working as a team to help find successful ways for Sissy to transition home and if I'd said, "no," then the next question would have been "well what interventions ARE you willing to try, mom? We're here for YOU, to help YOU" and all those eyes staring at me and Sissy rocking and that tiny room with the walls closing in all around me and all i REALLY wanted to do was scream and shout and holler and rock like Sissy was doing because at that point, that really did seem like the best idea EVER.

Maybe I should have?

maybe my ability to keep my cool and not rage back at the machine called mental health is to my detriment?

Maybe if I went wickity-wackity-loo-loo too then someone running the machine would say, "huh. guess we're stressing out mom too much with all this. perhaps THAT's the problem?" Maybe I should have had a panic attack in the grocery store instead of being a good girl and taking my anti-anxiety tabs? Maybe I should have ...

Aw heck. I don't know what else I should have done. I'm tired of thinking about it all the time. It makes my head hurt. And it doesn't matter anyway. Mental Health is the Borg. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.

And that's why we did a grocery store shop with the therapist that never gave ME a positive/negative/positive comment about MY performance.

Friday, November 18, 2011


It's been an insane week but I finally put my items on Etsy.

Peace in Puzzles on Etsy!

I'll be adding Christmas items shortly so don't despair, they are coming. Also coming in January, some full size quilts so bookmark my page!

I'm off to pick up Sissy this evening for our second try at an overnight stay. I'm hoping it will go well but I'm not entirely optimistic. That is, I'm anticipating another colossal fail.

But the quilting will keep me going. Hurry quick to the site, the Thanksgiving coasters are for sale and I'd like to drop them in the mail to you tomorrow so you have them in time!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Crap on a Cracker

The road is long. 140 miles one way across mind-numbing pavement. In two years, I've logged 30,000 miles on my van, the bulk of those miles easily attributed to road trips to see Sissy.

Yes, two years. This November 23rd. It's a long time to be actively in crisis as a family. It's a lot of miles on the road. It's been out of hope and determination that this half-smiling face that is the spitting image of her birth mother, might be functional in a home environment.

I won't say "heal" anymore, which may be taboo in some adoption circles.  After two years of active crisis, the pinnacle of the previous nine years of turmoil attempting to help my daughter, I've downgraded my expectation and hope to "functional".
It's been a long, monotonous, weary, exhausting journey.

And it's not over.

The emotional and mental anguish will likely ebb and flow through my veins like the tide for the rest of my life. PTSD is alive and well in my body. Some days I can't separate it from my anxiety. Other days my body just says, "Nope. No way. Not gonna happen. Forget it."

I'm battle weary, war torn and despairing. This weekend we'll try again with another overnight visit. I WANT to be positive. I WANT to hope it will go well. I WANT my daughter to be back under my roof and be happy to be here. I WANT her functionality to have increased over the last four months. I WANT it. But I don't believe it's possible. Essentially, I'm telling myself what I want can never be and yes, I'm very much aware that my own mental approach could become a self-fulfilling prophecy for Sissy. She needs to believe in herself, she needs to believe that I believe she has overcome. She needs to hear my positivity.

I'm all out of positivity.

Monday I went to the hospital to do an off-campus family session. The therapist went shopping with Sissy and I. Imagine this please. I had to plan my grocery shopping list, with coupons and without any perishable items. I had to get WG and AB dressed, fed and off to school in enough time to be at the hospital at 11:00 A.M., planning for the construction traffic (20 miles of it both ways). I had to remember my list, my coupons, organize them according to the store's layout (only to find that the Kroger near Sissy's hospital is not laid out the same), pick up my daughter and the therapist, discover that we can not go in MY vehicle because it's hospital policy, dash back to the van to grab my grocery sacks, purse, list, coupons, etc. all with Sissy giddy as crap because she hasn't been to a grocery store since August. Then I get in the vehicle with the therapist and Sissy, instruct the therapist where the grocery store is (she doesn't live in the area of the hospital so even though I live 140 miles away, I have a better command of the local area - go figure). Thus, I'm navigating while Sissy is yammering about ... well, darn it, I love her and she's cute as a button but the girl can yammer about nothing and she can yammer for a.very.long.time.without.taking.a.single.breath.

Then three of us shop in the crowded store (who knew 11:30 a.m. on a Monday morning would be so busy?!) and the only correction I got from the therapist was "take of your hospital ID badge to protect Sissy's privacy" and "next time bring a clip board and a pen and organize your coupons to streamline the shopping process".


Oh, I attempted to defend myself, a skill I am working on in individual therapy for ME (by God, I'm sick of Sissy being the only patient in this family) but what was the point? She was already writing it in her notes that those were the suggestions she had for me.

OK, show of hands. How many of you, given that set of circumstances (and remember, I had to shop in a limited amount of time so I could be back on the 140 mile trek east bound to pick up AB and WG by the 3:30 bell) would have remembered to #1 - organize your coupons according to the lay out of a store you've never been in and #2 - remembered to bring a clip board and #3 - even if you remembered your clip board would have remembered to snag it in the 10 second impromptu car-switch just as you are about to leave for the grocery store?




yes, well, now it's in clinical notes that this is how i've failed and what I need to do in the future. Oh, and the tag thing? I wear a name tag nearly EVERY DAY now because I'm either at the school volunteering or at some meeting for Sissy. It's a miracle I remember to remove the dang things before I launder my shirts and ruin them! And why did the therapist mention the tag in the first place? Because a nosy customer overheard me showing Sissy how to read a coupon and locate the proper item so he remarked that I was being a good parent for not only teaching her how to shop at such a young age, but that I was teaching her how to save money. Then on the heels of praise from a stranger, correction from the therapist.

I didn't panic on the way home - took my tabs every 30 minutes, took a coffee break, arranged with The Dad that he would pick up AB and WG so I didn't have to face the time squeeze and got home in time for a clenched up belly, severe bloating and gas, extreme fatigue and lethargy, took a phenergen and went to bed after watching Jane Eyre. Then I slept almost all of today until I had to go to the school to observe AB because his teachers have really been complaining about his classroom behavior lately. As if I didn't have enough to contend with.

I'm not looking forward to Friday when I (or The Dad) go get her. I'm not looking forward to her tantruming because we designated this coming weekend as yard weekend several weeks ago and it needs to stay that way because there's winter prepping and Christmas decoration prepping and Thanksgiving and and and ... I'm not looking forward to her yammering. I'm not looking forward to the bickering between siblings. I'm not looking forward to the disrespectful attitude. I'm not looking forward to putting the alarm back on at night after four months without it. I'm not looking forward to the grilling from the therapy team when she returns Sunday night so I'm also not looking forward to the road trip to take her back.

I know the quilting will relieve my stress but I'm so stressed, I can't move. Can't think. Can't. I just can't. And that pisses me off. I'M not better. I'M not ready for Sissy to be home. But there is no concern for us, never has been. Sissy's the identified patient, her needs are paramount and even though I drove 140 miles one way to go grocery shopping for non-perishable items with a psych patient that hasn't been in a grocery store in four months, I erred because I had no clip board or pen and my coupons were not tidy.

Crap on a cracker. Someone come tidy my *bleeping* coupons and surprise me with a dollar store clip board (in purple) with a matching pen that I can keep in my van at all times for the occasional 280 mile round trip grocery shopping excurstions i am prone to make to appease medicaid and therapists. Really, i should be more prepared, *tsk tsk*

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Conversations with Sissy

The following is not an exact transcript of tonight's call.  It's a conglomeration of the last several times I've talked to her both at the hospital and on the phone.  It's a fair representation so even though I've run three conversations into one, you still get the general idea.  And to be fair, since all the conversations go about the same way, this disclaimer is moot.

Phone call with Sissy tonight. 
"are you going to get fun Friday this week?"
"we don't have school friday. so it's fun thursday instead."
"so are you going to get THAT?"
"i plan too."
"Have you gotten all your classwork done?"
"I plan to."
"tomorrow is thursday."
"so is the work done?"
"not yet but I plan to have it done."
"what's the outing going to be?"
"only the greens get to go."
"what's the outing?"
"I don't know. only the greens get to go."
"They don't tell you the outing on Monday?"
"They tell you?"
"So what's the outing?"
"only greens get to go. i don't know what they'll be doing."
"what level are you right now?"
"so you don't have your work done and you're not green?"
"yeah but I PLAN to!"
"and how's that plan working out for you?"
"It's not fair! we only had three days instead of four this week!!!!"
"But you knew all the work you had to do on Monday?"
"yes. but there's no school Friday. and they change my color without telling me why. I don't do anything wrong. They just change my color because they are lying on me."
"the staff is lying about your behavior?"
"no. well, yes. they say I tantrum but I only screamed at them for thirty minutes this time and then I did what they told me to do."
"you screamed at the staff?
"yes. but I calmed down after and I used a coping skill."
"but you screamed at the staff so that made you yellow."
"yes. but they always change my color without telling me why."
"what is the consequence if you scream at staff?"
"they change my color."
"so... are you going to be green tomorrow?"
"I PLAN to."
"but will you be green tomorrow?
"will your work be done, will you be green, will you get to do the fun thursday outing?"
"no. But I plan to!"

and this, my friends, is why I'm on medication! Abbott and Costello thought they were so clever.  Not so.  They've got nothing on Sissy but in the interest of amusing you, here's their best attempt to mimic my child.

Monday, November 7, 2011

She Emerges!

Another internet hiatus. Seems to be a new norm for me but not because I WANT to be away, rather because there is so much fun and living and miscellaneous household chores to be done. I've relished my days filled with busy, busy, busy. I didn't realize how much of my energy was being stolen just in recuperating after Sissy's rages. Tired? Still very much so but at least I'm getting good rest. And I'm only twitchy every other day at night so here's to progress!

Speaking of progress, we managed a near miss with a discharge for Sissy. The new psychiatrist at the hospital decided to change her medication and did a direct doc-to-doc conference with the APS review board regarding Sissy's medical care. She won't be discharged on Tuesday but whether or not she'll get another full month is still up for debate. We should get the final score today.

In the meantime, we are actively preparing for discharge, a first for us. I will attend another CFTM on Tuesday followed by a short visit with Sissy. Then on Wednesday we will finally be discussing her case with LIPT. I've already alerted the special education department that there is no way she should be put back into a mainstream classroom after being in a residential classroom since March 8, 2011. Here's hoping that issue will be resolved at the LIPT meeting. Plan B is The Dad and I will continue to discuss and contemplate whether Sissy should be home-schooled for a brief interim to re-acclimate her to public community life.

Lastly, as part of APS requirements for transition, we will be doing weekend TL's including overnight stays. The objective is to show whether or not Sissy is able to transition home successfully or at least with minimal discomfort to all. And if it proves to be a colossal fail, then APS will review that information and will likely approve more time.

New changes (as if mental health never changed) include our IFI team from this summer is a bust. POO! Because that team had it going on in spades, first team to ever have a true idea of what was going on with Sissy and the rest of the family and then to advocate for ALL of us. Moving onward (and hopefully upward), Sissy's CBAY team found a new IFI agency that is also a core provider. We'll be staffing with them soon as well. Here's hoping they know RADs. If not, it will just be a waste of time for all (and more than likely, more finger-pointing at The Dad and me for our inability to correctly parent an un-parentable child.) Sissy still won't qualify for CBAY waiver dollars which puts us in the lurch for providing respite and other community wrap services that will help her. Whatcha gonna do? It was a crap shoot hoping she'd qualify twice.

And why do we care about a core provider? Because the children's local private psychiatrist is no longer accepting med!caid as of the 31st of December. Which means we need a new psychiatrist. Which means in our community, it's the other private psychiatrist in town (and I've met her and we don't "jive" - parent/physician relationships must be successful for a child's health to improve) or the local teach hospital's intern psychiatry team. Uh, yeah. NO. A core provider agency works with a contracted psychiatrist and will be able to staff both AB's and Sissy's cases. Plan B is to find a psychiatry team in the metro area, requiring the four hour round road trip once a month to take both of them to the doctor. It sounds insane, I know, but I'm leaning more toward Plan B. Core Providers through IFI agencies sounds like a second-rate plan because those agencies are always in transition. And all I've got to say to that is "ENOUGH TRANSITION!"

So you see, with all of that transpiring in the course of four days last week, there wasn't much else I had time to do beyond household chores, minor fixes and repairs to the house and of course, quilting!

I promised pictures. I keep my promises.

See this adorable young man?

His dental appliance is working its magic and should be off in time for Thanksgiving. Through commissioned quilts, I've already begun paying off the $900 bill not covered by med!caid.

The Commissioned Quilts:

I plan to make at least two or three more I Spy quilts. Like it? Look for it soon! I'll be posting items for sale on a different site and will link it by the end of the week.

Also Available
Thanksgiving coasters: sets of 8

I'll have pictures of Christmas Coasters up by the end of the week.  Another four sets of 8.
In addition, just in time for Christmas, I will have three or four Christmas Table Runners available.

And what about that Breast Cancer awareness bag?

I'll have three available for purchase and I can make more if there is a demand for them.  I will also be making purple for Pancreatic Cancer awareness.  What to represent another cancer awareness?  Awareness ribbons Just tell me what color you want. (not listed at the link is LGBSA but I will happily make a rainbow bag!)

Heart String Quilt:

I will be making at least two more of these, colors are representative and not exact.  I will be doing a more monochromatic theme with a central diamond color throughout as seen here.

I have plans for much more but that's just a taste to get you salivating, thinking, planning and wondering what you want to purchase for the holidays.  I'm also willing to talk about custom quilts.  Just email!

Here's AB and WG for Halloween as John Lenon and a black dog: (yes I made their costumes too!)

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Quilt for four straight months? OK!

It's been busy here. And I've been sick. And avoiding. Avoiding the indeterminable truth that this week med!caid reviews Sissy's case and thus far, she's never made it past a three month stay at a hospital. Oh to hit the four month mark...

Tomorrow I make the trip to the hospital to attend the DBHDD review of Sissy's case, a semi-annual event that just makes my heart go pitter-patter. Not cupid's pitter-patter, the cardiologist's tachycardia pitter-patter. Apparently DBHDD from our region lives in Candyland because they don't seem to be aware of the LACK of resources we have for mental health. I recall arguing with them in April about a local agency that closed last November that the DBHDD representatives insisted was still available for youths and adolescents. Oh, and the gracious comment that I should consult my church for mental health assistance for my children. So much for the constitution declaring we shouldn't mix church and state.

For a week Sissy didn't call on her call night. Sometimes I call first but then I get the notion to see if she'll be proactive and initiate a call. I'm usually right when I assume that she won't. But she made sure to call last night to let me know that she missed the hospital's Halloween event because she had a tantrum in class that day. Must have been some kind of tantrum to warrant the punishment of missing a holiday activity. I'm thinking more along the lines of quiet-room restriction during a rage? But getting those kinds of admissions from Sissy are close to impossible. She is keen to deflect, declaring "I don't want to talk about it," as her way of evading the hard truths about herself.

So we wait. Just as the clocks in my kitchen tick and tock, alerting me to the passing of time, the proverbial clock of med!caid's financial patience with my daughter's mental health progress ticks and tocks. Will she be home by next weekend? Your guess is as good as mine. Will we be prepared to transition her home? Nope.

I promised photos from the quilt retreat and I intend to fulfill that promise, tomorrow. Or the next day. I have made some lovely Thanksgiving coaster sets that will be available for purchase. I've also picked up oodles of pink fabrics to make several more breast cancer awareness bags. I've also got lots of fabric to make more I Spy quilts and because of generous donations from my readers, I have oodles and oodles of fabric to make other quilts. AB's dental appliance is working it's magic but now I have to work my magic to pay that bill. So if Sissy does indeed return next weekend, I can just quilt away my blues. I think I'll just quilt straight through to March and Orlando which, incidentally, is only four short months from now.