Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Who Needs An Alarm Clock?

You know, everyone always talks about all the negative things about having a child who is a rager. Today I am choosing to look at the positive. In our family, there are lots of times when we don't need our alarm clocks because Hannah's rages wake us up. Today was one of those days. The only downside is Hannah doesn't have a snooze button!

I was just stepping out of the shower a little before 6:00 am, when I heard pounding on my door, along with frantic yelling. My first thought was, "Oh, yay, another fun day is beginning". I told her I was just getting out of the shower and I would be out in a few minutes. I heard her yelling a bunch of stuff, but the only part I could make out was her telling me that she needed me to come out right now. I told her I had to get dressed and she actually left. Surprise, surprise. I dilly-dallied as much as possible because I knew the longer I took to go out there, the less time she would have to abuse me before she had to leave for the school bus. I hadn't made lunches yet, so I had to go out when it was still 10 minutes until bus time.

It turns out that she wanted me to sign on my computer so she could re-set her boyfriend's iPod. Apparently, he told her that his friend, who was arrested yesterday, had borrowed it while he (boyfriend Tito) was in Florida for Spring Break. Supposedly, the arrested friend had changed the password and Tito doesn't have computer access to change it back. He can't ask the friend what the new password is because he is locked up. Come to find out, Hannah had asked Luke to do it last night and he told her it was probably a stolen iPod. She, of course, believes the boyfriend, even though he has already served time in juvenile detention for stealing an iPod. He told her he has changed, so it must be true. When I heard that, I said it probably was stolen. Hannah right away became furious and said she would never have a stolen iPod in her hands. I tried to tell her I didn't think she had stolen it or knew it was stolen, but I'm not sure she believed me. After all, why believe your mom, who loves you, when you can believe the "already been locked up at least twice boyfriend"? I already knew she hadn't stolen the iPod because she only steals from her siblings! So, anyway, I still don't know what the truth is about the iPod and she wouldn't tell me why the boyfriend's friend got arrested. She just said, "Let's just say he did a lot of things, a lot". Then she heard her bus outside and had to leave. Lucky for the rest of us, Hannah is the first one to leave in the morning and the rest of us were left to get ready for our day in peace.

Monday, April 9, 2012

"Fun" Afternoon

I worked this morning and had an absolutely lovely day, taking L to play group. The morning went by really quickly and before I knew it, I was already home. Hannah had an appointment with her psychologist this afternoon. She actually came home on time, after several friendly reminders. Once she got home, she ran upstairs, saying she just had to change her shirt and would be right back down. Ten minutes later, when I told her we absolutely had to leave, she started to rage about not being able to find her shoe. I couldn't understand most of what she said because she was screaming and the dog started freaking out, as usual. Something about the shoe missing and that I should just go without her because if she only has one shoe, she can't go. I told her to put on the shoes that she had worn when she was out with friends today. She screamed some sort of reply, none of which I could hear or understand between the dog barking hysterically and Hannah's word vomit.

When she has refused to go to the doctor in the past, I have gone by myself. This time, however, she was so close to a full blown rage that I decided being that far away from home just wasn't a good idea. Instead, I went to the car and locked myself in. I texted Hannah and told her that if she chose not to go to the doctor, I was going to turn her texting off. She already has voice calls turned off all the time. She still refused to go, so I drove away from the house and had Jack turn off her texting for me. I stayed away for about a half hour and when I got home, she had left. That means tonight is going to be a rage fest! As soon as she comes home, she will start screaming at me and demanding that I turn her texting back on. If I don't have a stroke or heart attack before she even gets here, it will be a miracle. My stress level is way up there at this point, in anticipation of the trouble that is sure to come.

When I called the doctor to let her know that Hannah refused to come, she was kind of mad at me. Ugh, just what I need. She wanted to know why I didn't come by myself. I explained that Hannah was really close to having a huge rage and, even though Shauna was locked in her room, I didn't want to go too far from home, in case Hannah got too out of control and tried to hurt Shauna or started to destroy the house or hurt herself. She reminded me that we were going to get billed, even if Hannah refuses to go. Another piece of news that I didn't really need. I would think that since psychologists sign up to treat mentally ill children, they would be used to them not showing up for appointments and not get mad at the mother for it. She must have forgotten that Hannah's secondary insurance is Medicaid and she isn't allowed to bill for missed appointments. At least that's what she told me the last time this happened. Anyway, the doctor also said that if Hannah does this one more time, she will drop her. Wonderful. Although I don't always love this doctor, she has made a ton of progress with Hannah and I would hate to have to start all over again. Hannah has only missed 4 appointments over the past 2 1/2 years and I went by myself to 2 of those, so the doctor still got paid. Since she has about 30 appointments a year, I don't think that is a bad record. Three of those appointments Hannah refused to go to and the other one was missed because I wrote the wrong date on my calendar. That time the doctor suggested that, "in order to assuage my guilt", maybe I would like to pay her, even though she wasn't allowed to bill me. Have I ever mentioned how much I love dealing with mental health professionals? Sometimes I wonder if they chose this profession just so they could get free treatment for their own issues!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Hummingbird Watch

I am expecting the hummingbirds to return any day now. I am waiting, not so patiently!

My Cataclysmic Mistake-The Beginning

I recently made want is, most likely, the biggest mistake I have ever made in my life. I am not exaggerating or being melodramatic. I truly wish I were. This mistake came from the best of intentions, but completely backfired and I'm afraid there may not ever be an end to the direct and collateral damage.

Here is some background to begin this very long, involved story. Alex and Shauna both have contact with their birth families. For Alex, we have been in contact since birth. Since his birth mom was killed in 2006 and his grandmother died the following year of cancer, we only speak to them on Facebook, but will probably see them if we go to Chicago this summer. As for Shauna, we had contact until shortly after her first birthday. Nothing happened between us or anything, but we moved to Virginia and her grandmother lost our new address. I sent her some letters, but they came back as undeliverable. Turns out the family had moved shortly after we did and lost our information during the move. A year and a half ago, I found them on Facebook and we have been in contact since them. I have talked to her grandmother on the phone a few times and Shauna texts and skypes with her sisters once in a while. They have been extremely thoughtful and careful not to cross any boundaries. They are so grateful to have Shauna back in their lives. They were very sensitive to Shauna's feelings and have never pushed themselves on her. Shauna enjoys the relationship they have. She loves seeing their pictures and discussing how much they have in common. She loves seeing people who look exactly like her. Hannah has told me several times that she feels really badly because she doesn't know anything about her birth family and she feels left out. I was trying to be a good mom and I decided that I would try to find Hannah's birth family for her. Have you figured out what the horrendous mistake was, yet? Here's a hint, I will never try to be a good mom again. (Insert a huge sigh here.)

I have searched for Hannah's family many times over the years. They have an extremely common name and it turned out to be very difficult to find them. One night, I spent about six hours on Facebook, going through everyone with the name of one of Hannah's birth sisters, Jasmine J. I clicked on each name, then looked through their friends, hoping to find a Jasmine J. who had friends by the names of Hannah's other six siblings . I finally hit the jackpot and found all but two of the siblings on Facebook. I also found Hannah's birth father and found out from his Facebook, that her oldest brother had died several years ago. The next day, I asked Hannah if she would still be interested in getting in touch with her birth siblings, if I could find them. She was very excited and didn't hesitate to say yes. I then talked to Mike and we agreed that I should send Jasmine a message, explaining the issues that Hannah has and asking if she thought that the family was ready for contact and if that contact would be safe for Hannah. I composed a nice letter and sent it under a fake Facebook account because I didn't want them to know our last name or where we lived right away. After about ten days, I hadn't received a reply. I wasn't sure if that meant they didn't want to know Hannah or if Jasmine hadn't read my message. I had a strong feeling that she had ignored the message because it was from someone she didn't know. Jasmine is 7 years older than Hannah and she had been so in love with her baby sister, I just knew she wouldn't pass up an opportunity to get to know her.

Here are a few excerpts from my letter:

She is sweet, loving, kind, caring, naive, friendly, and active (very active! Lol)...She has Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder... She is smart, but struggles with learning disabilities, also...She struggles with rules and often puts herself into dangerous situations because she is unable to completely understand consequences and has trouble "thinking ahead" and anticipating what might happen in certain situations...She has been in long-term treatment for these problems and she has shown tremendous progress over time, especially over the last two years...You and your siblings and parents have been in our thoughts all these years. We discuss you often and I have told Hannah that she comes from a kind, loving, close family. She has had a picture of her, you, and some of your brothers on her dresser, all these years. In the picture, she is sitting on your lap and she has always said she feels so close to you, even though she doesn't actually remember you...As I've said, she has a lot of serious issues and I don't want to start anything that will throw her off track. I am trusting that my gut feelings are correct in telling me that you are a trustworthy person, who will tell me honestly what you think. Before I allow Hannah to have Facebook contact with all of you, I need to know if you think anyone in your family will look negatively on our adoption of her and express those feelings to her. I'm not trying to be rude or anything, I'm just trying to protect Hannah, so please don't take any of this the wrong way...

To be continued...

Saturday, March 31, 2012


The last two years or so have been a huge transition for me. First, I had to give up a big dream of mine, which was to adopt an orphan with Down syndrome from Eastern Europe. I'm pretty much okay with that now, but still sad that it isn't going to happen. Then, after almost 26 years of being a mostly stay-at-home mom, I started working. The first job I got wasn't a perfect fit for me, but I gained a lot of faith in myself. When I first decided to go back to work, I was terrified and didn't think I would have the stamina to do it. I didn't think I would be able to juggle everything that needed to get done. The first two months or so were very difficult to get through, but I made it and came out a whole lot stronger than when I started. After a few months, I quit the first job and found the job I have now, which is a job that I love and look forward to every day.

I've also made some changes in my home life. I have, somehow, managed to get more organized and I have even started a bunch of new routines that have helped me stay organized. I still have a long way to go, but I have made some huge improvements. I'm pretty proud of myself because lack organization has always been my biggest vice.

Relationship-wise, Mike and I have gone through some really rough times, between long-term job loss, resulting in severe financial hardship and dealing with raising 7 kids, many of whom have disabilities. We were so busy just trying to make it from one hardship/crisis to the next, that we never thought about or spent any time maintaining our relationship. The past few years have see big improvements in that area, as well.

Another change I have made is eating healthier and exercising more. That, as the organizing, is still a work in progress, but lots of progress is being made. Yay! By the way, my kids are not thrilled about this change. There has even been one Facebook status about the fact that I was making them eat a healthy dinner. Heck, I never get mentioned on my kid's Facebook status', so I'll take it!

I have been on a big blogging break, as a couple of you may have noticed. Not that you would have nagged me about it or anything! I was so busy working on and through those other things, that I didn't really have anything left for blogging. Now that I'm in a better place and have been able maintain these changes for awhile, I think I'm ready to start setting aside a bit of time to blog, whenever possible.

Even though I'm not in love with the blogging process, like some are, I enjoy getting everything preserved "on paper", since my memory is nowhere to be found these days.

Thanks to Wendy, for her comment telling me she missed me. It was the spark I needed to sit my butt down and write something! Mike and Denise get credit, too, for nagging me, periodically. Without them, I would have been...uh...less nagged, I guess! Denise's comments on her own blog, about "Michelle, the former-blogger" were some incentive too, I suppose. : )

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Dinner At Drew's Apartment

Last night we hopped in the van with all the makings for a pizza party and headed to Richmond. It was me, Alex, Hannah, and Shauna. Luke had to work and we invited Gramma, but she had to work at 5:30 am both Saturday and Sunday, so she couldn't join us. Mikey had stayed in DC to help a friend move, so he drove down and met us at Drew's place.


Drew and Julian cleaned the kitchen before I got there, which I appreciated, since pizza making takes up a lot of room! I pre-made the crusts and mixed the sauce at home, but even the assembly/cooking process uses a lot of space. They had some fresh pineapple, which was so good on the pineapple/bacon pizza. I normally like canned pineapple better, but in this case, fresh was so much better.
Drew in his clean kitchen

I was very impressed by Drew's room and bathroom. They were neat and clean! What??? Is this the same kid whose room had to be cleaned by me and my now infamous snow shovel??? When he moved out of his bedroom (or was forced out by me!), it was a room worthy of any Hoarders television show. He isn't a hoarder because he has no problem parting with things, he was just too lazy to actually get rid of them. Anyway, his room was spotless. I checked the closet since I thought he might have shoved everything in there, but it was perfect. Clothes were hanging neatly there was a cat carrier on the floor and a couple of things on the shelf. It was probably the neatest closet I've ever seen! I asked one of his roommates, Julian, if he cleaned for days before we came and he said no, Drew always keeps his room like that! Julian is well acquainted with Drew's old room, so he is just as surprised as we were. I talked to Drew about it and he said he just never let it get messy. Just like his mom! (Shut up, Denise!)

Hannah, Shauna, and Alex, enjoying Drew's front porch

Anyway, the weather was absolutely perfect and we enjoyed our pizza and conversation out on their front deck. The kids, especially Alex, were very impressed with the active and interesting area that they live in. It is called The Fan district of Richmond and they are right on a main road, so people are constantly walking/jogging/skateboarding/roller blading by. It is a prime people watching spot. I still can't get over how gorgeous it was, between the perfect weather and the beauty of the area. The street is all large, old houses and the median is lined with crape myrtles, which are in full bloom. It was very relaxing and we had lots of fun conversation. Besides Julian and Drew, their other roommate, Mario, stopped by for a little while. We hadn't met him, yet, so it was nice to finally put a face to the name. Hannah thought he was cute, speaking of his face! One of their neighbors, Ryan, joined us, also, as well as two of Mario's longtime friends. Everyone enjoyed the pizza and Julian gave me the ultimate compliment when he told me this was the first time he has actually felt full in longer than he can remember. It was so good to meet everyone and spend time with Drew and Julian. Julian was a regular at our house for many, many years before they moved to Richmond. Have I ever blogged about the time Julian scared the crap out of my by climbing up to the second story porch and coming in that way?

Me and the sign that used to hang in the cafe at the rink

Living Room wall and cool neon artwork. That door leads to the front porch.

Alex had been having trouble falling asleep Friday night, so he baked a cake at 4:00 am! Shauna was his partner, although it sounds like she mainly cleaned up his mess! The cake was awesome. Since he didn't have access to my frosting recipes (they are on my computer, which is password protected), he looked a recipe up on his ipod. It was really delicious and he had decorated it to look like the beach. He used graham cracker crumbs mixed with cinnamon (which I thought was going to taste horrible on a cake, but it was so good!) for the sand. Then he used medium blue sprinkles for the ocean and light blue for the sky. It really looked like the beach, it was amazing. He tinted the frosting the perfect blue. I was impressed.

At the end of the night, we had to part with Mike, as it didn't make sense for him to come all the way home for a little over 12 hours. He headed back up north and we headed to Drew's Walgreens to pick up a DVD of my 2nd birthday party. We got to see the wild cats that live there, that Drew has been telling me about. We saw 5 or 6, including one with no tail. The clerk at Walgreens was super sweet and so excited about meeting "Drew's Mommy", as she called me. I'm working on uploading the video to You Tube, but Jack has to reformat it for me, so I had to send it to him. Hopefully, I will be able to get it up by tomorrow. I have to say that Jack was very patient with me, giving me detailed instructions on how to decrypt the birthday DVD and send him the information he needs to make it You Tube ready for me. His phone was acting up so he couldn't call me and mine kept going into roaming and was taking forever to send and receive texts. He didn't even yell at me once! I think it took almost an hour start to finish.

Speaking of my infamous snow shovel, keep an eye out for a rebuttal post to the above highlighted link from Denise! The Hotel Cinderella posts are in the works, as well. I just need some more time and energy in the day to get it all done.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I Got In Trouble! Hotel Cinderella Apology!

On Friday, Mike and I went out to lunch, since we had been apart (other than the few hours at Drew's last weekend) for almost two weeks. On the way, he told me that my blog post about Denise and Hotel Cinderella was MEAN. He thought it sounded terrible and he thinks that Denise is probably mad and not speaking to me. Wow! He might be right, since I haven't heard from her since I posted that, but I know what she is going through right now and thought nothing of it.

I apologize if anyone took this in a way it was not meant. I am not a snotty, bi*ch who complains about everything (shut up, Mike!) . That post was meant to poke fun at our time together and was in no way meant to offend or be mean or disrespectful to Denise. I think Denise will agree that we had a wonderful time together. We laughed our way through the week.
Okay, please read this very carefully!

1. Everything that I said in that post actually happened.

2. Everything I did at the Hotel C. was done out of love and caring. NOT because Denise was "demanding" it!

3. Denise said everything I said she did. However, everything she said was said in jest. She didn't force me to do anything.

4. Denise and I have a back-and-forth joking, kidding, silly relationship.

Here is an example of what I mean. I did spend forever and day, chopping veggies and making the stir fry. Denise did complain (jokingly) about the fork, as well as other things. She did lecture me about the fork. All in a joking manner!!! I did not mind making the stir fry, nor was I forced to. Get it????