Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Should I Or Shouldn’t I?

I always have an internal debate going on when I sit down to blog.  I have been a victim of hate mail and mean comments before and that’s caused me to second guess everything I post. As a result, I’m not terribly open with the struggles that our family is dealing with due to my oldest daughter’s mental illness. I do feel like I owe a bit of an explanation as to why I rarely post family information here anymore.

Sometimes it’s just too much to share. I don’t know how to process the situation and put it into words. I freeze up and want to defend her against everyone and everything. At the same time I think that if I could help one foster or adoptive parent by sharing our story that it would be worth the snarky comments I’m bound to get. I haven’t decided to share the entire story because it’s her story and it should be Alexis’ decision to share it. I’m only going to share the basics from my point of view.

Mental illnesses are covert and sneaky. There’s this huge stigma to having a mental illness. I’m not talking about depression. That’s become rather mainstream lately. I’m talking about serious, violent, mental illness. It’s a dirty little secret that many families deal with. We have felt so alone and isolated while parenting Alexis. We don’t go out much anymore unless both of us can be involved.

For example, I can’t pack all three kids up on the car and go to the park because I worry that Alexis will take off. If she does I can’t leave the other two children to fend for themselves while I chase her down. I worry about her behavior in public. I don’t consider myself thin skinned. I’ve never been the parent who was embarrassed to have a two year old throw a tantrum in a grocery store. However, it’s an entirely different ball game when the child is nine years old and weighs over fifty pounds.

We are not allowed to touch her when she’s angry because she’s already made false allegations of abuse to her teacher. The therapist and psychiatrist KNOW her behavior and that she lies just to lie and cause trouble. She honestly gets a thrill out of it. Her teachers don’t know that. She is able to manipulate people like nobody’s business. I don’t get angry at her for that. She learned that she had to do that to survive. It doesn’t make it any easier to see your reputation dragged through the muck though. Now her allegation is in her school file and every new teacher looks at me like I’m the dirt she tracked in on her shoes! Sigh.

Alexis was placed in our home at 3 years old and we adopted her right before she turned 4. In hindsight, there were signs and symptoms that she had attachment disorder and other mental illnesses. We just didn’t want to see them. We were so hell bent on helping her and loving her that we completely missed some things. Other things were dismissed by her therapists. “Oh, she’s just developmentally behind.” “That’s why she still has two hour long temper tantrums at 4.” Oh. Okay. Needless to say, we didn’t have her full history before she was placed in our home.

Don’t get me wrong, we would’ve still adopted her. We were in love with her before the first hour of our first visit was up. She was a precocious child with a sunny smile. She was just a “little hyper”. We brought her in to the psychiatrist after a year and found out she had ADHD. In the years that followed, she assembled a litany of other letters and diagnosis. (OCD, ODD, RAD, Bipolar Disorder, Dyslexia, Tricotillomania, Vision Issues, and Fine Motor delay.)

We kept searching for doctors and therapists to help but we’ve found a common denominator to all of these providers. Either they are too rushed, too uninformed, or too uninterested to help. Today we were in crisis mode and I desperately needed to speak to her psychiatrist. It took over four hours to get him on the phone. When I got him on the phone, I expressed my very serious concerns. He dismissed them and said she needs more medicine.

She’s 9 years old and is on four different psychiatric medicines. I think it’s too much and even though she’s on that many, I can honestly say that they are NOT working. She’s gotten extremely violent. Remember that I’m not allowed to touch her at all when she’s angry. Not even to hold her hand. So if she refuses to go to her room I have to send the other kids to their room for their protection. Sometimes we can’t protect them quick enough. I won’t go into instances but use your imagination and it’s probably worse than what you’re thinking.

We’ve had to install an alarm on her door so we can hear her if she leaves her room at night. She’s figured out how to unlock the deadbolts and chains on the exterior doors. Alexis has tried more than one time to run away. With her lack of attachment to us, I’m not sure that she would come back if she did manage to get out. Our home has been an absolute war zone. I am hyper alert and always on edge. Everything I do has to be done with her by my side. I can’t let her play with the other kids unsupervised. If she’s alone she hurts herself. Our lives have taken on a nightmarish cast and so has hers.

We are scrambling for solutions. I have read book after book on bipolar disorder, explosive kids, adoption, reactive attachment disorder, and any other related topic I can get my hands on. I have a binder with a behavioral record that I had to start after she falsely reported us. I take videos of her to prove that she’s behaving this way because she can put on an entirely different persona in front of others if she chooses to. We are at the point where her therapist and psychiatrist believe us. Thank God. The videos have really helped.

The main reason I’m posting this tonight is this… my advice to anyone who is thinking about foster parenting or adoption is to educate yourself. The foster parenting classes did discuss RAD briefly, but Ronnie and I believed that we could love whatever hurt had been done to our children away. That’s not true. It just doesn’t work that way. Before you adopt, please read as many books about reactive attachment disorder as you can get your hands on. It is much less rare than originally thought. In fact, there are doctors that believe that every foster/adoptive child is at least mildly attachment disordered.

I’m not saying I don’t love her. God knows I do. If we didn’t, we wouldn’t have adopted her. We wouldn’t be struggling on a daily basis to help her fit into a world that she feels is all wrong. We wouldn’t be arguing with our family members who think they know the best way to parent her. We also wouldn’t be subjecting our two youngest children to being abused by their big sister. We would’ve disrupted a long time ago.

Don’t get me wrong, Jordan was adopted at 2 years old and is bonded and happy even though she has physical disabilities. (Cerebral Palsy) I’m not trying to discourage anyone from adopting. There are so many children that need help. I'm just saying you should be informed and be prepared that everything may not turn out sunshine and roses. You may find yourself grieving for a child who is suffering and crying for a relationship that might never turn out the way you dreamed it would.

So now you all know the basics. When I disappear and don’t blog for a while, things are probably rough here at our house. If you’ve made it this far in my post I appreciate it. If you’re the praying kind, we would surely be grateful for any prayers. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. I’ll do my best to answer them. Please refrain from posting any unkind comments. I will not publish them and you’ll just be wasting your time. Thank you!

Plentiful Thank You

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Layout Lollapalooza

I have been on a roll lately as far as scrapbooking goes and it totally makes me happy! Nothing relieves stress for me like scrapbooking. I have been catching up on design team assignments at JessicaSprague.com. I’ve also done a few pages with paper goodies that I won! Here are the pages I’d like to share today…

1: Project 365 from 2011 Week 24

I'm really proud of myself for keeping up with this Project 365 thing again. I have to say though, I'm running out of ideas for photos! LOL If you have any interesting suggestions feel free to leave them in my comments. Please? I'm begging!

Supplies: Credits Available Here

2. Hikers


I used a PageMaps sketch and the Sweet Peach Crop Shop Kit I won on the ScrapFit blog to create this page. You should be able to read the journaling. The flower and blue button were from my stash.

4. Week 25 Project 365 from 2011


Another week in my Project 365 from 2011. I love templates that have a ton of space to use for journaling. It makes Project 365 a lot easier!

Supplies: Carina Gardner's Design 365 "A Year Of Rub Ons", Crystal Wilkerson's July 2009 Template Collection "The 365 Challenge Templates", Echo Park's Summer Days Paper Pack, Echo Park's Summer Days Element Pack 1, and Echo Park's Summer Days Element Pack 2.

5: Amazing


I did this layout with a kit from the Sweet Peach Crop shop. I used a sketch by Liz Chidester for a challenge that I'm entering. I added a bit of paint (under the button tied with twine) and printed journaling. I chose the topic of the page so it would fit with the "Scrapping Everyday Miracles" blog challenge about enjoying the little things.

I used tumbled glass stickles around the interior edge of the large wooden star. The journaling spot I used came from Elle's Studio. It's from her "Everyday Striped Circles" journaling pack.

6: Summer Fun


I can't claim any credit for this layout! My grandma did it with the latest template that I created. I thought that it was so cool that she used my template to scrap my rotten kiddos! I decided to share her page here. I hope she doesn't mind!

Oh and speaking of sharing stuff that other people have created... check out the amazing July kit that Jessica put together! (She's the owner of Scraptastic Club.) The kit is called "Sweet Summertime" and it features Echo Park's Country Drive papers and embellishments.


There's also a "Sweet Summertime" add on! I will admit that I've already purchased it. I'm a sucker for Prima, Thickers, AND butterflies. I bought it as soon as it hit my inbox! I can't wait until I get it in the mail so I can start scrapping with it!


Phew! Now that was a loooong post. I'm sure I'll be back to bug you all again soon.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Blog Train Stop Number 22!

I am super excited to be participating in a HUGE blog hop this weekend. We are celebrating the 4th birthday of JessicaSprague.com! If you’ve never been over to Jessica’s site you are missing a great time and some really amazing goodies. I am so privileged to be on the creative team there. I love every single second of it!

I made a quick page freebie to give away on my stop of this fantastic blog train. Here is what my finished page looked like before I turned it into a quick page.

ForeverWEB

Here’s the product preview page so you can see what the actual quick page looks like. (It’s all the same except mine has journaling and a title. I figured you’d want to add those yourselves!)

4EVERBloghop-HeatherLandryPrv

SORRY, THE BLOG HOP IS NOW CLOSED. I REMOVED THE LINK. THANK YOU FOR STOPPING BY! The next stop on the blog train is Jackie’s awesome blog. She’s stop number 23!

LIV-2011blognote-w

Plentiful Thank You

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tomorrow Is The Big Day!

I’ve pre-planned my post. I’ve checked it twice. It’s ready to go up at 10 PM tomorrow! I’m looking forward to chugging around on the blog train. Trust me ladies and gents, you do NOT want to miss this!

LIV-2011bloghopflyer-FINALweb

47 blogs! Can  you believe it?! I am so excited! (Can you tell?!)

Before I sign off and get some sleep, I have one paper layout to share. It’s called “Sweetest Pug” because that’s what she is…

Journaling: Lady Belle Buttercup (April 18, 2008)

I used a Sweet Peach Crop Shop kit that I won from the Scrap Fit blog to complete this layout. It was inspired by a June PageMaps sketch.

I opened a bottle of Maya Mist and flicked it all over the page. I think that looks so much cooler than spraying sometimes! I used a tiny dab of Jenni Bowlin Paint in “Seed Packet” to ground the right corner of the blocks. My favorite thing on the layout is the yellow Pom Pom trim. I want that in every single color. And… Studio Calico has a new fan because those stars… Oh my goodness!

Plentiful Thank You

June Template Two

I recently created this template for the Ideas For Scrapbookers blog. I based it on the layout I made for a blog hop on Jessica Sprague's website. I just realized when I sat down to write this post that I'm not allowed to share my layout until this Friday. Ooops! Thank goodness that Nancy, Vickyand Dolores came through with example layouts for me to share! Thank you very much girls. Here is the the preview of the sketch/template.



This is Nancy's layout. She scrapped about her daughter running away. The layout is so pretty and her journaling totally tugs at my heart strings. Such a wonderful page!



Vicky made this lovely page featuring beautiful handmade flowers and gorgeous layered butterflies. What a pretty dog! I also love that she included a paw print as an embellishment.



Dolores used the digital template that will be available for download at the end of this of post. She scrapped adorable photos of a sweet dog she meet at her family reunion. I love the clusters of flowers she used and the pretty color combination.



If you want to download the layered digital template that I created in Photoshop Elements feel free to click the link below.

http://www.4shared.com/file/QpCWAodD/HL_JuneTemplateTwo.html

Plentiful Thank You

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

No One Fell Overboard!

Continuing on… We slept at my grandma’s house and some of us didn’t sleep so well. I couldn’t get comfortable, and when I finally got to sleep Brandon woke me up. I heard him wandering around upstairs and went to go get him. He was coming down the stairs and I didn’t get to him in time and he missed a step and fell. Thankfully, he was near the bottom and only fell about two feet. He didn’t even wake up completely!

My grandpa came to wake us up for the fishing trip around 6:30. He had slept on the boat to avoid all of the chaos the night before. (Chicken!) I tried to get him to take me too but they wouldn’t let me go!  We got the kids dressed and headed out to my grandparents’ boat. It’s called “Miss Love” after my grandma’s childhood nickname.

A scenery shot of a few of the boats that were docked near my grandfather’s boat.

The kids all love driving the boat. They are obsessed with turning the wheel even though they were supposed to be going straight.

Brandon with Uncle Buddy. I don’t even think that he could see over the wheel in this photo. He was driving blind!

Alexis driving in her floaties. She didn’t like the life jacket much at all. Since she knows how to swim with floaties on and they were only outside of the boat when it wasn’t moving I figured it was okay. We did have the life jackets available at all times.

Some pretty scenery! I love being out on the water. I’ve missed it! We used to go fishing and trawling when I was younger and I loved being out on the boat.

Seagulls on pilings… They were not thrilled with the fact that we pulled up to the pilings and used them to tie up.

The girls fishing off of the front of the boat. It was really funny how the life jackets ended up matching the kids’ hats. We didn’t plan it that way but I thought it was really cool for future scrapbook pages!

This is my niece fishing. She wasn’t thrilled with having to wear the floaties and was unhappy. We’re so mean!

My grandma was the only one who caught anything! She caught two teeny tiny catfish. It was funny because she was only just learning how to cast and fish. My grandpa bought her a pretty pink fishing pole.

We didn’t let Brandon use real hooks and bait. We were worried that he would hook someone. We should’ve been worried about him throwing the entire pole into the bayou. LOL Luckily, my Mom was able to fish it out really quickly by hooking it with HER fishing pole. Yay Mom! I will tell  you that when I heard the splash I thought a kid had fallen in. I was really relieved to find that it was only a fishing pole!

I even consented to have my photo taken. Brandon was fussing over wearing his life jacket in this one. He was using Jordan’s pink Barbie fishing pole.

This is my favorite photo from the whole trip. Paw Paw was teaching Maw Maw how to cast and in between casts he bent down to kiss her. I was in the boat with the girls and I caught the shot through the window. I love it!

We ended up eating lunch on the boat and we didn’t get home until almost three in the afternoon. We were all exhausted but it was well worth it. Everyone had an absolutely wonderful time! I was so grateful that my grandfather offered to take us all out.

We celebrated Father’s Day on Sunday with Ronnie. We chilled around the house and let the kids swim. I heated up some lasagna that my Mom made for Ronnie. He loves her lasagna very much and she knows it. She spoiled him rotten and sent him a pan! I think he thought that was the best Father’s day gift ever.

Since the van is still broken, I’m getting a break from running the kids to therapy. I finally got to complete a paper scrapbook page for myself. I’ve been going through withdrawal. Here’s the page I created…

Journaling: I love it when my girls cooperate on our photo shoots. These are the Spring portraits that I took on Easter morning. 4/2010

This page is straight IRL. I just suck at taking photos of two pagers. I used a June 2011 PageMaps sketch for inspiration. I also used a kit from the Sweet Peach Crop Shop that I won on the Scrap Fit blog a while back.

I am entering this page in the "Scrap It With A Song" challenge this week. I used part of the lyrics from the Lady Gaga "Poker Face" song that they highlighted as my title.

Stay tuned this week because I have a free template and sketch coming. I will also be posting my part of the Jessica Sprague Birthday Blog hop!

Plentiful Thank You

Summer Mini-Vacation

In my last post, I wrote that we were getting ready to go to my grandparents’ house. We finally made it down there Friday evening after a comedy of errors and disasters. Sometimes the things that happen to me are so bizarre that I just end up laughing. We stopped so the girls could go to vision therapy on the way out and my van broke down. It made a loud popping sound and then it made an awful whirring noise. Brandon said it best when he asked me how an airplane got in our van!

I did my best damsel in distress impersonation and Ronnie came to rescue us. He gave me his car for our trip and he took the van. He says that it’s the cooling fans that are malfunctioning. My grandparents’ house is over two hours away so there was no way that it would be safe to bring the van.

We made the trip fine. I was worried about construction and driving through New Orleans because I’m a total worrywart, but it went smoothly. We woke my grandparents up from their nap when we got down there. I fed the kids lunch ad then the madness began. As you can imagine, I’ve got tons of photos so be prepared!

I took a photo of their house from the levee. I love the red roof. They just put in a new porch that we’ve dubbed “the veranda”. You’ve got to love being a Southerner sometimes!

I snapped this portrait of Alexis under the grape vines next to the veranda. She had a blast blowing up balloons and popping them in the grass. She did that for an hour or so…

My grandpa took the three kids for a ride on the levee in his golf cart. They took turns driving and running over random things in the back yard. Brandon even ran over the slip ‘n slide. My grandparents took it all in stride. I love how laid back they are.

I also love my grandma’s garden. I took lots of photos of critters and plants. Here’s a shot of a bumblebee on a sunflower!

My kids were fascinated by this old shed in the woods. It’s right off of my grandparents’ property. My grandma made up a story about it being Little Red Riding Hood’s grandmother’s house. Jordan wanted to meet Red Riding Hood and we told her that she moved away after Hurricane Katrina damaged her grandma’s cottage. She knew we were making it up but she grinned like crazy. She enjoyed it!

Of course we had to climb up the levee to see the river! The kids are fascinated by it. Especially once they hear that I used to wade and swim in it as a child. Not that I’d let them because… as I said I’m a total worrywart!

Here’s a photo of the river. I wish that the trees weren’t so high in the batchery so we could see the river better.

The kids had to roll down the levee. Because we’re rednecks and that’s how we roll. Ha! It always makes me giggle to see them doing the same things I did when I was little.

After we climbed the levee, the kids played on the slip n’ slide that Maw Maw bought them.

Then they decided that painting themselves with colored bubbles was a lot more fun than blowing colored bubbles. Thank goodness it all washed off. Crazy kiddos!

After we ate dinner we fed and played with the goats! Here’s a photo of my grandmother and Rapunzel the goat. Jordan named her after she saw the movie “Tangled”. That’s my niece in the background.

Maw Maw wanted to show the kids the nest full of eggs that she found in her green bean plant the other day. When we went to check on the eggs we found baby birds! Aren’t they adorable?

We climbed the levee again as the sun set because I wanted to get a photo of the pretty pink sky. The sun was slowly sinking below the horizon and the kids were starting to wind down.

We brought them inside and bathed them to get the grass out of their hair. They all settled in the living room to watch a movie and Jordan got scared. She climbed up in my Mom’s lap and buried her head because she didn’t want to see the scary parts!

This post is getting too long so I’m going to stop here and make a second post about Saturday!

Plentiful Thank You