Sunday, December 07, 2008

Just a general post

OK - so the amazing thought of posting twice a month didn't quite happen... not like my faithful readers were surprised! =-)

On the home front we had a wonderful Thanksgiving. My parents came over and I did the whole dinner at my house. It turned out very well and we had a nice afternoon together. It actually seemed like a small gathering since we usually find someone who doesn't have a place to go joining our table but I guess there were no strays in our circle this year!

Christmas deco is up and the house is looking quite festive! I keep trying to get gifts bought, wrapped and distributed early but... yeah... still working on that. 'Course I could blame my friends the Owens who had the audacity to buy a new house, renovate and move - effectively tying up my Saturdays for the last three weeks. Then again, I volunteered (building serious brownie points for a future move of my own!) and got to meet their great extended family including Lisa!

AJ is doing well at the moment. She seems to have backed off from the stealing and is actually doing really well with the restrictions at home and school. I'm enjoying the lack of drama but also holding my breath waiting for the next event. Her psych doc is considering new meds for her and they are looking at some scary diagnosis. It's so hard to diagnose kids - is their behavior indicative of PTSD? RAD? FASD? Personality disorder? Bi-polar? Just being a kid? Preteen hormones? Sad as it is, a diagnosis is important to us for two reasons - 1 to get the school to acknowledge and provide the need for services and 2 parenting help! Parenting techniques for a PTSD kid is different than parenting for brain damage with FASD or a lifetime situation like bi-polar. The overall goal is the same - love and attention to help them mature into responsible adults but techniques to use on the way vary greatly!

Friday, November 14, 2008

simple Woman

My dear friend Jenn keeps gently reminded I have not posted in a long while. I am so completely overwhelmed with life at the moment I don't even know what to share. So I thought I'd do the Simple Woman meme that Jenn's started doing.

Who knows? I might even post twice in a month! =-)

Outside My Window...
It's dark. it's not Alaska but the change to winter is noticable. It was a very pretty fall day. I love bright red fall leaves!

I am thinking...
I want a nap!

I am thankful for...
Friends, family, connections. Some friends just adopted their third son today - National Adoption Day!

From the kitchen...
Adoption celebration means I don't have to cook. Whoo hoo!

I am wearing...
Jeans and a long sleeved shirt. A brand new shirt I should point out, that I promptly spilled egg onto as I was driving to work. Grrrr.

I am creating...
Wire and bead creations for friends for Christmas.

I am going...
To an adoption celebration! And then to bed 'cause the family that just adopted is having a huge work party on the new house tomorrow!

I am reading...
Books on adoption, the blue collar worker and a lovely fantasy series.

I am hoping...
AJ gets out of her funky snit and decides to listen.

I am hearing...
AJ bouncing a ball and reading in her room.

Around the house...
Hmmm, just things to do.

One of my favorite things...
Creative quiet time to myself.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:
Saturday: Help friends. Sunday: Church, clean the car, relax. Monday: back to school and work!

A picture to share...
AJ attended a special board breaking class for her Tae Kwon Do school and this is what she learned!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Real Estate - funny post

So I'm thinking about buying a house sometime in the future. I'm checking out websites and came across this post.

I thought it was hysterical! Since I live in the area of these underground silos maybe I should check it out!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Seby's Eulogy

It's been 6 weeks now and I just didn't feel like writing before this...

AJ and I were at the Oregon coast for a mini vacation with Grandma and Grandpa when Seby finally succumbed to his health issues.

The vet identified a small murmur in Seby's heart years ago. Each time we go to the vet, they would remark that the murmur was a bit more pronounced. This summer Seby developed congestive heart failure and pulmonary edema - basically his heart was so enlarged that it was no longer pumping blood efficiently and fluid was collecting in his lungs.

Medication worked for a while and we had our happy, playfull sweet puppy back. While we were on vacation though, he had a seizure from a lack of oxygen to his brain. His heart was growing so big it was actually impinging on his windpipe and the heart was pumping so inefficiently that oxygen was not circulating well.

It was a very traumatic night as we were in a little sea coast town away from familiar resources, trying to take care of Seby, find an emergency evening weekend vet, trying to keep AJ from going hysterical... Finally found a vet about 40 minutes away. Dad drove me and grandma stayed with AJ. Everyone said good bye to Seby at the house because I just knew he wasn't coming home.

The vet was very nice and sympathetic and in the end I made the choice to let Seby go and we put him to sleep.

It's been hard to get used to a home where Seby doesn't jump up and greet us as soon as we walk in the door. I miss they way he cuddled next to me on the couch. His personality was so big... and the house feel much quieter without him.

Glory is suffering too. She's become extremely anxious and will not leave my side while I'm home. If I go to a room and shut her out, she poops all over the house trying to find me/find a place to hide. She's even taken to trying to jump into the tub with me while I'm taking my morning shower!

AJ wants another dog. She's lost both Seby and Glory in a way since Glory is avoiding her and very clearly "my" dog. AJ really wants a dog that will love her. I don't think I'm ready yet. I am considering options though. I don't want a puppy! We're gone every day for 7-10 hours. Not exactly a good puppy situation!

He had the cutest little face...

Seby always looked like a drowned rat after a bath!

Christmas at my mom's house - playing King of the Mountain.

Cuddled with AJ...

Friday, August 01, 2008


My wonderful friend Jan took pictures today of the adoption festivities. Here're a few highlights!

The limo at our apartment this morning. Boy did we create a stir for the neighbors! The limo is done in a racing theme complete with model racing cars in display boxes on the bar, 4 TV screens, sattelite radio - it was deluxe!

AJ was sooo pleased and excited to be riding in a limo. She's talked about wanting a limo ride for the two years I've had her. I've always told her to wait for Sr. Prom or her wedding. Isn't God good to organize this for her/us!!

My parents, AJ and I before the adoption. The mother/daughter twin look was at AJ's request.

Grandma and Grandpa show their love and emotion as the adoption proceeds.

AJ and I and our wonderful Judge.

Friends and family after the adoption.

Friends at IHOP for breakfast. The fabulous lady sitting next to me was AJ's social worker for most of AJ's sojourn in foster care. Love her!

We show off our new Bible with our matching names imprinted!

AJ and Grandma show off their family connection rings.

It's Official!

It's done! I have officially adopted AJ!

This has been such a whirlwind morning and such an exhausting week. I haven't been this nervous and discombobulated since my wedding 17 years ago!

So much adrenaline and emotion today... It's only 11am here and I'm ready to call it a day!

A local limo company donated a ride to the foster-adopt parent group and I won the drawing at the last meeting! So I was able to surprise AJ this morning with a limo ride to the courthouse! And then we piled a bunch more people in the limo to go to IHOP for breakfast. The limo brought them all back and then brought AJ and I home. How cool is that!

The adoption itself was very emotional. We must have had 15 people there this morning supporting us and sharing in our joy. Our judge has presided over AJ's case since the beginning and she was very emotional. She did a wonderful little ceremony and told AJ she could be anything she wanted to be. I did my swearing of oaths (love, provide, care for... all the rights and responsibilities as a birth parent) and everyone cried. Even the baliff was wiping away little tears!

Lots of pictures afterward and then to IHOP for breakfast. Grandma gave AJ matching rings so she would always know love ties the family together. A friend gave us both new Bibles with our names imprinted on them which I just loved! A family picture frame, a teddy bear and so much friendship and joy!

I haven't planned the rest of the day because I figured we would want to just hang a bit after the excitement of the morning. So I think we'll chill and then maybe go to the movies.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

It's a date!

The official date is set!

Adoption - Friday, August 1st at 8:30am!

We're going to have a big party Sunday afternoon and invite all the social workers, judges, police, foster parents, etc. who were a part of her case. You are all invited so let me know if you'll be in town! =-)

So if we do the adoption on Friday and a party on Sunday - isn't there a rule that Saturday should be a spa day?

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Photo Shoot

AJ and I just had the funnest session at Sears getting anniversary/adoption portraits done. I just couldn't wait to share with you all. She is so cute!

Saturday, June 28, 2008


I might actually get to adopt AJ yet. This process has taken so long. I only have one hurdle left. The State offers adoption subsidies to parents who adopt foster kids with special needs. AJ qualifies - about 6 times over!

Anyway, I did the "negotiation" meeting. (That's actually what they call it! Like I'm buying a used car - or in this case a used child??? Ridiculous.) At the end of actually a very cordial and productive meeting, the guy informed me that the amount we just spent 90 minutes discussing, would be reduced by a significant amount when she turned 12. Because, apparently in 15 months, she will have miraculously changed into a child that will not need close supervision. Since I know this will not be true for my alcohol affected, PTSD, social skills deprived daughter, I am "negotiating" for the entire amount to be in place until the mandated 5 year review.

So now we wait again. The State really wanted to complete the adoption in June since that's the end of their fiscal year. Well, that's obviously not going to happen. Without the pressure of the June deadline, I hope they get back to me soon.

It's amazing how much of an advocate I've had to become for my child.

Did you know when you adopt a child out of foster care, the State provides the entire foster care case file as part of the full disclosure? So I received a paper box FULL of 8 volumes of AJ's life the past three years. And oh the things I've learned. Like dad's seriously a few fries short of a happy meal... her mother is legally married still - but not to her father... alcohol abuse is multi-generational issue on both sides... CPS (child protective services) involvement in three states... family health history of spina bifida, breast cancer and mental health issues... and the family story is so sad and there are so many victims.

I do want to provide a good life for her but I'm completely overwhelmed now. I feel blessed to have things like monthly financial support, respite care, counseling, etc. Things I know many parents would love but don't have access to. But I'm also feeling so strained by the thought of the future and raising this wonderful, fun, athletic child who is so very difficult.

I'm currently in volume 5 of 8 - she came into my home at the end of volume 4. When I finish through all 8 volumes, I'll probably feel differently, but right now I'm feeling very inadequate as a parent. In the other volumes they describe AJ as no longer needing counseling, on target for grade level, doing "wonderfully" in her foster home etc.

Now all the things I started documenting are showing up. The nightmares, the violent fantasies, the day care issues, the school work issues, the need for counseling. AJ is described as doing "fine" in my home.

Granted there was a lot going on. AJ had moved from a long foster placement (14 months), to a placement that barely lasted 5 weeks to my house. She was no longer able to visit her birth parents because of their legal issues. She went from 2x weekly visits to nothing to one a week and then she didn't get any visits with dad because of a restraining order.

So there's good reason why she was acting out in my home. I just like being the hero. In volume 5 there is a marked change in how well AJ is doing and it's hard not to connect it to me. Then again, hopefully volume 8 will document the marked improvement that's happening in her life! =-)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Adoption Update

We met with our adoption worker Erin this week. I have a bunch of paperwork today but she's met AJ and I've done my fingerprint check so we're on our way!

When I became a foster parent I had to be fingerprinted and checked. Now that I'm adopting a child out of foster care, I have to get fingerprinted and checked again! That doesn't make any sense to me!

On other news... I got my cell phone bill and was surprised to see $140 in charges I never made. All the charges were on the day my phone was stolen. I'm on the phone right now with my service provider...they better remove these fraudulent charges!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Adoptive Mom to Be!

Well, it's finally happening!

The adoption worker from the state talked with me today. We set up our first meeting for Monday!!!

Things should move pretty fast from this point so I'm still hoping to have the adoption finalized by the beginning of summer. At this meeting the adoptions worker will give me AJ's file as a disclosure to the pre-adoptive parent. We'll go over the adoption support stuff. She'll direct me to go get FBI finger printed. I'll find out if I need a new home study. All sorts of stuff.


This is really good news since AJ had a really bad visit with her birth mom yesterday. Her mom hasn't seen AJ in 6 months and she comes to the visit drunk. Amazing. On the one hand I'm calloused and angered by the birth mom's actions. On the other hand, I realize what a powerful hold alcohol has on this woman's life.

AJ was understandably quite upset by the visit though she was very happy to see her mom and they did share a few laughs together.

The next visit is not until September and will be under the open adoption agreement. Which means that I'll be the supervisor. And if birth mama comes drunk, this mama's going to go into serious mama-bear mode to protect my child!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Great Weekend!

As Jenn so generously reminded me, I have not been keeping up with my blog. So here's some news and highlights.

This weekend was quite a doozie. Someone broke into my house while we were sleeping and stole the contents of my purse and went through the file drawers in my desk. The first thing I heard about it is when I got a call Saturday morning from the police department saying they had some of my "personal effects" and had I experienced a robbery lately?

Yeah, that'll wake you up in the morning.

So another thing to keep from AJ. Since the robber took the contents of my purse but left my purse in its usual spot (!), I didn't realize I had been robbed. Anyway, I woke up Andrea and took her to a very compassionate friends house on the pretense I needed to shop for a surprise for her. I called my mom and sent her on and Easter basket hunt and spent the rest of the day giving a report to cops, changing the locks, canceling all my credit cards, placing holds/fraud alerts on all accounts, trying to get a new cell phone, etc., etc. So all was well on the surface when my friend brought AJ by later that afternoon.

That afternoon I got food poisoning so I laid on the couch a lot and I basically didn't eat until dinner today (gotta love diet 7-up and crackers!).

Helped AJ deal with the twin tragedies of a bleeding toe on her guniea pig and the death of her water snail (then lost my cookies yet again).

Went over to my parents for an Easter/belated birthday dinner of grilled chicken and potato salad (totally yummy but which I couldn't eat).

Then I desperately tried to do 8 hours of weekend office work in about an hour but experienced internet connectivity issues so couldn't send the documents I did manage to do to the office for the important meeting this afternoon.

So yeah - that was my weekend. How about you?

Monday Update - AJ still has no idea anything bad happened over the weekend - yeah! What I did manage to create for work over the weekend and this morning still enabled me to look totally prepared for my important meeting and I kicked butt! I got a new cell phone - a Motorolla Razr - ooo oooh! Was able to get some cash from the bank so I don't feel like I'm completely without resources for the next 10 days while new debit cards and checks show up. Feeling a bit better and enjoyed some leftover grilled chicken and potato salad for dinner.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


OMG! She confessed!!!!

AJ has a horrible, pervasive, compulsive lying problem. She will deny taking the cookie while she's still chewing it.

A month or two ago she came to me all freaked out because she had these painful, itchy bumps under her arm. Well, low and behold, there's a shaving rash under her arm and no hair!

I asked her if she shaved. Oh no. She hadn't shaved, she cut the hair with scissors! I told her I didn't believe her and that it was obvious she had used my razor without permission. She yelled, stamped around, slammed the door, loudly proclaimed I never believed her, etc. And that was the end of round one.

So tonight she comes in and is worried about her arm pit hair. She's afraid it will grow so long and never stop and people will see (remember, she's 10: young woman's developing body, little girl's head). I suggest I could teach her to shave. "Ehwee, that's gross mommy!" I pointed out to her she has shaved once before and I didn't believe her "it was the scissors" story and, if she confessed, we could talk about teaching her how to shave. She stamped off yelling about how I always think she's lying, she's never shaved, etc., etc. Hmmm. End of round two.

So tonight during bedtime prayers she asks God to forgive her for lying to mommy. And, after tuck-in tickles, she says she wants to tell me something - "very big honesty". After lots of hemming and hawing and a long irrelevant story about calling another kid a name while playing tetherball, she finally confesses.


It is so sweet to watch her heart grow and change.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I don't get her

AJ get frustrated VERY easily. When confronted with any new task she immediately says she can't do it, gives up, and walks away. If pushed a bit she gets frustrated, defensive and angry. If cajoled, teased, mollified, encouraged, persuaded, etc she might try but still with lots of frustration.

For example, AJ has been playing violin since Sept. She loved playing in her Christmas concert and performed very proudly for the family on Christmas day. Well, now it's time to learn new songs. Instead of being eager to learn something new, she "practices" all the old songs. When I sit down with her and break down the new songs note by note (let's just play this first note, D. OK let's just play the second note, E) she becomes hostile, disrespectfully and bit verbally abusive.

this is not ok behavior in my book. I get that learning new stuff is hard. I get that it's frustrating. I even get that she has self-esteem, self-concept issues. But to not even try? That I don't understand.

Today we went over to my parents house to clean. AJ was vacuuming. The study had a bunch of books of the floor so she skipped it. And when I asked her if it was done she lied and said she did it. And when I showed her why I new she was lying (obvious dirt still on the carpet, no vacuum tracks), told her I wouldn't be mad and invited her to just say she hadn't done it yet she yelled and stormed about proclaiming her innocence. Difficult task = no trying and lying about it.

I'm really at a loss about this. Even the neurophsychologist who just did a bunch of testing on her called her "rigid". Learning how to approach new tasks is a fundamental skill. How I'm going to help her learn this without loosing my cool or my mind remains to be seen.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Love my child

I love my child - I really do. But sometimes I could strangle her - she is soooo stubborn! This must be a test mommy's patience week.

Earlier in the week the 15 minutes clean out the guinea pig cage turned into 2 hours. The 45 minutes of weekly chores stretched to 8 hours!!! She's been so slow all week that she hasn't done her required 30 minutes of reading so she has 3 hours of reading to do today!!

(Internal mantra: I love my child. I will not be upset by her choices. I love my child. I will not allow her to get to me. I love my child. I will not loose my cool over this!)


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Done Deal!

Well, I'm the proud new owner of a 2007 Kia Rondo. Pictures will follow but since it was dark when I got home, there didn't seem to be much of a point.

It's an LX V6 in Navy Blue with a gray interior. It has only 10,000 miles and it still under a 5 year, 60,000 mile manufactures warranty. You know, I've never had a car with a manufacturer's warranty! I love the fact that it's blue. I test drove three cars and sat in a half a dozen other models. The Rondo fit me and my needs the best. To get it in a color I like is such a sweet, unexpected plus!

It's looks kind of small from the outside but I picked up my friend and her two sons for a test drive and it holds 5 comfortably. There is almost as much cargo space as my Passport. The second row folds flat for a very large cargo area. The visibility is great from both the front and back seat. In fact, I'm thinking about tinting the back windows to prevent some of the solar gain in the summer and help AJ who seems to be pretty sensitive to sunlight.

It has all-wheel drive, 8 air bags and Electronic Stabilization Control which, when I learned what ESC was, would have been very nice earlier this week. I think I'm getting a lot of car for the money.

They dropped the sticker price by a couple thousand for me and I financed at 5.5% which seemed to be the lowest in our area. I will forever sing the praise of Hertz Sales and Service. They really have done a fabulous job taking care of me this week. I had a great sales guy named Joseph - super easy to work with, no pressure, let me take test drives on my own for hours at a time... Just a really good experience.

I haven't heard from the insurance company but no matter what they do, I'd still be getting a new car. I'll never drive the Passport again. And Hertz dropped the price some more to get the deal done today, so I'm pretty satisfied with the financial price. Can't say that I'm happy since I now have a car payment for a few more years! But, all in all, a good day's work.

It's very nice to have it done and over with. Hopefully this week I can get everything finalized with the insurance company.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Thank you all for your sweet comments and concerns. Last night it all started to hit me. I've been feeling pretty anxious today (NOT a good feeling if you know my mental history). Starting to do better tonight.

Very frustrated with trying to decide what kind of car to get. When we bought the passport, interest rates were very low and I've only been paying a bit over $200 a month. Well, I don't want to finance for another 60 months so trying to find a really good SUV, low miles, relatively new for $15k is a challenge. I just hate to shop!

The soreness is starting to fade (the two glasses of wine last night helped!) I'm having headaches so I think I need a couple chiro adjustments.

Thank you Kiana for the consumer report option -I'll probably take you up on it when I decide what I'm going to do! Unfortunately I probably won't get much for my car. It's a 98 and was only worth about $3,000. So I'll probably get enough to pay off the loan and put a bit down on my next car but thats about it.

And get this - my insurance company is paying to have my car towed 150 miles away to their "consolidated" adjustment garage. I don't understand that at all! How is it cost effective to tow vehicles from one major metro area to another? Anyway, I might hear from them tomorrow on my settlement but it will more likely be Mon/Tue.

I'm trying to get excited about a new car but at this point I'm just really bummed I've been set back 2-3 years on my get-debt-free plan!

Thanks for all the love!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

I'm Fine!

Well, since a picture is supposedly worth a 1,000 words, here's mine for the day. I'm fine, AJ was not with me and I'm really ok.

I was driving to work on a snowy day, fishtailed, hydroplaned and lost control. I actually tried to drive it into the ditch hoping I could stop and perhaps drive out again. Unfortunately, my right front tire and the angle of the ditch didn't agree so over I went.

Not the most pleasant experience but I really am fine. I was wearing my seatbelt (PTL!) and came to rest hanging upside down. I was able to crawl out the back door. I scraped my knee and am feeling some sore muscles in my neck and shoulders but that's all.

A very nice lady called 911 and got the cops out and let me sit in her car until the officer arrived. Got a tow, a loaner car and the insurance claim started. Missed a day of work on the day I was supposed to give a very important presentation but oh well. My boss has been great and very understanding.

The first thing the tow truck guy said to me was "So, what kind of new car are you getting?" So yeah, I'm 99% sure they're going to total it.

There's a part of me that's very sad about losing this car. It's really the last part of Alaska and my married life that's still a part of my new day-to-day life. When I went to the tow lot to clear out my personal stuff, I got a bit teary eyed. I remember buying the car with Damon, hauling all our band gear, driving the Alcan... it feels like another chapter of my former life is closing - a chapter I didn't even realize was still open.

The other very frustrating thing is I was ONE MONTH from paying off the car completely! I've really been working very hard to become debt free. I've been very excited to be out from under the car payment and apply the money to eliminating the last of my debts. I think I've almost been sadder today about this financial setback than about the accident itself!

I haven't told AJ at all. She only knows that my car had an issue so we have a loaner car again and mommy thinks it's time we buy a new car. She is very fearful and if she knew what had happened she would be scared and nervous to get into the car for the next few years (and I'm not exagerating). On the way to school today I had a MINOR fishtail going around the corner. She immediately popped up her head (she had been reading). "Are we all right? Oh, my gosh, we could have been killed! Can you drive mommy? That was so scary!!" And she told this story to her mentor this afternoon and told me about it at least twice more this evening. And that was for a minor, no danger tiny fishtail!!! So my parents and friends have agreed to let me freak out with them but mums the word when it comes to AJ! =-)

I'll post a picture when I decide on my new car!