Friday, July 29, 2011

Camp Success

They both made it all the way through the week. *Breathing a sigh of relief*  No dreaded phone calls!  Both girls have been invited back next year and both Susan & I have been invited to their weekend mom retreat that happens pre-camp.  J was happy as a lark tonight and very proud of herself.  And she should be.  After Kara left tonight, J said, "wheweee!  I made it!"  I'm going to bottle up the memories of this week and save it for a rainy day (week...month).

Thursday morning, on the way to camp, the girls mentioned that they have a bully in their group. A 13 y/o boy was kicking and hitting several of the small children in their group including them.  So we practiced, again, asking an adult for help and how to do it respectfully.  Honestly, I wasn't worried about the girls (considering their former bully status) but was a little concerned for the other littles.  I mentioned it to the counselor that met us at drop off but told them not to worry about the girls but to coach them if they couldn't ask for help respectfully.

At pick-up the director came up to the car expressing regret about the boy's behavior and explained that they were working with him.  Quickly told her she had n.o.t.h.i.n.g. to worry about with us and told her they might be getting a dose of medicine to see what it feels like on the receiving end but that was totally o.k.

Kara decided she liked my cooking and has been eating with no problems since the previous post.  Totally forgot to have her tap and shake before she went home with her mom tonight.  Hope re-entry is pain free for Susan.

Every night at approximately 9 PM a huge, military C-130 Hercules flies over the house and skims the lake.  Unfortunately it's always too dark to get a good picture of it though I have tried many times.  Last night it arrived at 7:15 and I was totally unprepared. was really cool to see him in the daylight as it dipped over the mountains, down over our house and the lake.  The sound is loud enough to make you hit the floor and cover your head but the sight was beautiful.

Now I'm going to relax and listen to the whippoorwill sing right outside the porch.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day Two

The camp mom, Claire, met me this morning at the drop off to tell me how great J did yesterday.  I did not cried on her too.  I made a trip to the Wal Mar ts and shopped at leisure.  When I made it back down the pig trail (that's a one lane road) to the lake I was blocked and could not get to the house.  They've been building a lake house  right on the road (seriously if you stick your hand out the window it will touch the house) for the past two years.  They block our driveway with about 20 trucks every day.  Normally when we're here it's no big deal since we're down at the lake while they're working but we've been having friends in and out and  they can't get by.  Now this week it's a real issue because I HAVE to leave the house at 7:50 to get her to camp on time and I HAVE to leave at 4:20 to pick her up.  I told them last week that I'd have to keep a schedule this week and gave them the times I'd be coming through and they promised to have it clear.  It's not working out so well....  I've been having to wait on them to move vehicles each time but it's been no more than 15 minutes.  This morning they made me sit and wait for 45 minutes.  They stood around and looked at me but wouldn't budge.  Mama was N.O.T. happy.

One of the trucks had to back up to our driveway because there was no where else for him to go on this dead end road.  He made a point to get out of his truck and glower at me as I went by.  Sorry dude but I didn't want to make twenty trips with groceries down a half mile road.  There is a wide spot in the road for all the trucks to park but they'd have to walk about 200 ft to get to the job site.  When I got back home I called Mountain Patrol and they agreed to come talk with them.  When Nelson (MP officer) he said he had told them again and again and he had called the homeowner to make sure they knew.  He said it had been a real problem the whole time but the next time that anyone couldn't get through they were going to call the Sheriff's Dept. to have them write tickets and if that didn't work they would shut the job site down since it's against Georgia law to block a public road.   I really hate to stir up trouble but this is getting ridiculous.  Hoping there's no retaliation down here on lonesome road but nice was just not working.  When I went out to get J this evening the road was clear for the very first time.  Yay!

Picked the girls up on time and they had another great day.  The activities were slower paced today.  Creek walking twice, arts & crafts, archery and swimming.  J did the high dive 4 times today.  She said she kept on telling herself that she COULD do it and she said it worked.  The camp mom said that neither girl was called out for a transgression and that both did great.

Today's proud moment:

J: Facing her fear of the high dive even though she didn't want to.
Kara: Better table manners today.

Tomorrow's extra work:
J: Wants to be able to dive without having to talk herself into it.
Kara: Not being so bossy.

Kara suckered me in.  Sunday night I had eight different mouths to feed and she caught me at a week moment.  She told me she wanted ribs (leftovers) for dinner instead of lemon shrimp & rice.  Not wanting to cause a ruckus I gave them to her.

Yesterday morning she didn't want bacon and eggs.  She wanted honey toast.

Tonight she sat and looked at her mini-burgers and said she didn't want them but wanted something else.  The party was over tonight.  I told her she would have to eat what we eat or not eat because I wasn't cooking two meals at each meal time.  She was m.a.d.  But she wouldn't admit to being mad, she would only admit to being sad.  Uh huh.  Right.  I had gotten both of the girls some jelly bracelets at the marts this morning and they both had them on.  Kara was so mad she tried to give her bracelets to J.   :)

I had talked with her mom earlier and she agreed no more catering.  Camp sure hasn't catered to her for the past two weeks so it's a control issue.  I assured Kara it was totally ok to be mad with me, she could tell me and I would totally understand.  J had a talk with her about it's alright to be mad but she needed to use her words and then she told her that her mom isn't a short order cook and she needed to eat what was put on the table because I was a great cook. :)

Kara wasn't buying it.  The girls did the dishes then I had Kara call and make her nightly phone call to her mother.  She wouldn't tell her mom about any of it.  By this time she was crying a little but she wouldn't admit that to her mom either.  She said she must be getting a cold.  Susan assured her that the allergy pills would help her with that and they went on to talk about her day.  Then I had Kara follow me around everywhere I went.  By the time we got to the laundry room to start the wash Kara (of her own volition) apologized about dinner.  I told her that was totally alright and that I understood.  Then I told her the story about J not eating a single bite of a.n.y.t.h.i.n.g. I put in front of her for weeks because she was testing me and wanting to control me.  I told her the good news is that J will now eat anything and tries new things all the time and has found out that there isn't much that she doesn't like.  Kara gave me a faint smile.  I told her to test me out as long as she needed to because I could be strong for her.  Then she gave me a big grin.

I do think Kara is missing her mom.  She's been away from home (except for one night) for almost 2.5 weeks.  Tomorrow night Susan is going to meet us up here when I get home with the girls.  I think that will make Kara very happy despite the fact that we are having the ever so dreadful meatloaf tomorrow night. :-)

Monday, July 25, 2011

1st Day of Camp

Kara is staying with us at the lake this week for camp.   This is the first spend the night (with a friend) for both of them.  A huge memory for both of them and so grateful that they are healed enough to do this.  I kept them swimming from 10 AM yesterday morning until 5:30 straight.  I even brought lunch down to the dock so they wouldn't miss a minute.  Kara didn't want to sleep in the room next to J's and asked if she could stay in J's room.  I talked with J about it and we went over safety, etc.  Both girls were adamant that they could be as quiet as mice.  Kara wanted to go to bed a J's bedtime of 7 since she was still exhausted from camp for the previous two weeks.  True to their word they were quiet and I stepped in to check 15 minutes later and Kara was sawing logs.  In 15 more minutes J was as well. 

J was up at 5:30 this morning nervous about camp and because she didn't sleep very well last night with Kara in the room.  We tapped, rubbed on psychological reversals and went over all the rules ad nauseum.  After breakfast, when they had all their camp bags ready, they took turns reading out of the Amer i can G irl book, Friends - Making Them and Keeping Them.  Great book BTW.

Tapped, etc all the way to camp.  They were the second ones to arrive which gave J a comfort level.  I left and all day I kept looking at the time and fearing that I'd be getting a phone call any second.  No calls.

The director came out first to greet me before bringing any of the kids out to their parents.  I was worried as she was walking up.  She kept a perfectly straight face all the way to my car.  I probably should've gotten out of the car but thought it would be better to receive bad news sitting down.  When she got to the car she said Jordan did amazing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  She said all the camp counselors were in love with her and couldn't believe all her good manners!  She remembered her manners, listened, told the director when she was scared, remembered to tell them she's allergic to cheese so she couldn't have mac & cheese today.  The kids liked her and she made new friends. Woo hoo for my kid!!!!!!!!!!!!  

And then I started crying!  This news would've been music to any mother's ear but to mine it was priceless.  J was never the charming RAD kid.  She was the "don't turn your back" kid cause you might seriously regret it and have wounds if you do.  Today the heavens were singing and I might have burst into song myself.  Then I had to hug the director awkwardly through the car door and told her I loved her.  Sadly, I'm not kidding. 

Jordan came running screaming, "MOM!!!!" with a grin as big as Texas.  Insert more awkward hugging through the car door.  I don't think I could get out due to the shock factor at this point.  The director told her she would see J in the morning and J emphatically replied, "yes ma'am you will!!!" She got in the car and screamed "THAT WAS SOOO AWESOME!!!!!!!"  Then I started crying again.  J said, "mom are you crying?"  Yep.  She turned to Kara and said, "she does that when she's happy."  :)

She chattered away about her day and how she did a the high dive.  She started on the dock which she does pretty well and then moved on up.  She said when she came up she sputtered that she had a "head stomach" and everyone thought that was funny. 

On the way home J kept saying she was about to get sick and she had a headache.  We made it home without an event.  I think dehydration/lack of food/and stress factors were the contributors.  She ate two pan-seared tuna steaks, 2 avocados and 2  peanut butter and honey sandwiches.  While she was doing the dishes she said, "mom, I forgot I was a bottomless pit at camp because I was nervous but now that I'm home I remembered that I am a BOTTOMLESS PIT!!!!"   No kidding.

At 6 the dishes were done and J was begging to go to bed due to exhaustion.  She went on and Kara and I read some more out of the AG book till 7.  J was already asleep and 5 minutes later so was Kara.

Tonight I think she'll do better with Kara in the room.  At bedtime I introduced J to Kara.  J meet Kara.  Kara meet J.  Kara is still Kara in the middle of the night just like she is right now.  Contrary to your midnight beliefs she does NOT morph into a monster.  She is always Kara.  They both giggled.


The high notes of the day:

Creek walking was the BEST according to both girls. J didn't like drama or basketball (because she thought she didn't do well) but she said it was all great.  Kara wasn't crazy about speed ball. 

Asked each what was the thing they were most proud of today. 

Kara: Being a good friend to J.

J: Remembering her manners even though she was stressed and making a new friend.

The things they both wanted to improve on tomorrow:

Kara: Wanted to do better on table manners.

J: Wanted to be a better friend tomorrow. 

Today is the day that I never thought would arrive.  I never in a million years thought or even hoped out loud that she could blow the doors off such a monumental challenge.  Yes... I've known that she's made great emotional strides to overcome so much trauma that would bring most adults to their knees.  But this was over the top!  It's a proud mama day today.   I'll take it and store it away here so I can always pull it out on a rough day and remember the champion of conquering her fears.  I love my kid.  She is the bomb!

Sunday, July 17, 2011


We're hanging at the lake a good bit this summer. Friends coming in and out.  J is loving it.  Next week she will start at a day camp from 8:30 to 5.  Like a real old fashioned camp.  Camp Dixie was started in 1914 and most of the buildings were built around that time.   Trees grow through the cabins and other buildings.  The wood on all the buildings has been worn so very smooth from years of use.  350 lush acres at the top of a mountain decorated with lakes and waterfalls.  So very cool.  It's very structured with lots of great activities and no electronic devices allowed.  I took her up last week for her to visit and get a comfort level.  She loved it and we both decided we'd love to live there.  It's about 1.5 hours from our house so we'll stay at the lake and I'll be 20 minutes away in case she hates it.

She has been able to tell me she's nervous about camp and talk through her feelings.  This is so huge!  She has also expressed nervousness about being away from me for so long each day. Yay J!  I have her a transition object to carry in her pocket so that when she's missing me or scared she can touch it and get some love.  The camp director is now familiar with tapping and shaking so they'll be able to identify her coping skills for her if necessary.

Her normal excessive appetite is now off the charts.  We ate at the seafood market last week and she ate 2 shrimp po-boys, 8 hushpuppies, a bowl of crawfish etoufee, a pound of crab legs, and half of my po-boy.  No.  That is not a joke.  She is a 4'10", 89 lb eating machine.  I cannot keep groceries in the house.

Last week my computer, cell phone, microwave and dryer all went catawompus.  In a period of 48 hours.  Geesh.  So now this strictly pc girl has turned mac and is dealing with all the frustrations that entails.  Not to mention learning a new cell phone, etc.

Have you met Barb and all her loveliness yet?  If not, rush on over and read a great post here.  Then go check out this post from Colleen at Therapeutic Moments.  I don't put links in for my entertainment people.  They are for you.  :-)  Not to mention that I haven't mastered copy and paste into blogger links so these are links that were slaved over.  Not. even. kidding.  So click, people.  Click.  You know you want to.....  :-)

(Why oh why will the mac not let me copy and paste links?  Please tell me this is just a temporary blogger issue.)

Sketchy internet up here.  I'm very happy that there is even a little bit of service but we're at the end of line so you never know if you're going to have it or not....or it will go down in mid-sentence.  Reminds me of dial up days....

Monday, July 4, 2011

Anger Work

J has had a lot of anger toward a certain someone.  Rightfully so.  We've been doing anger work in therapy and it's been helping.  A couple of weeks ago a lightbulb went on and I remembered something that really helped me many years ago.  You write down the reason (person, place, event, etc) on the bottom of your shoe and stomp on it.  Usually by the time the writing has disappeared so has your anger.  A couple of times I had to do it twice but it worked.

I mentioned it to J and she loved that idea!  So she wrote her anger all over the bottom of her shoes with a sharpie.  Complete with mean faces.  Then she stomped.  Now I don't know about your child my but mine could make a Tennessee Walking horse jealous with the strength and volume level that she can stomp.  Kristy and I both thought her legs would be sore but miraculously they weren't.  Must be all those years of practicing.  She ended up stomping for several days.  Then it started dissipating and she only asked to do it every couple of days.  Now she doesn't think about it much.  Amazing!

Another anger tool I need to write down and put in my toolbox so that I don't forget. 

Do you have any good anger tools to share?  I'm writing them down and would love to have some more. 

Loved all your suggestions on the "No" post.  They're now in my toolbox too.  Signing "no"......I loved that and had to go look it up.  So grateful for all you smart mom's.

Thanks to blogger's like Corey's and Barb's I no longer have to pay for tv.  Saving mucho bucks and ever so happy about it. 

Love Don't Run

by Steve Holy. 

Tissue Alert: This song speaks volumes about us.  And you too.....

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Dreaded "No" Meltdowns

This post has been sitting in the draft box for a few weeks.  I'm truly not good at explaining stuff so please bear with me....

Our kids hate the word "no".  Hate it. Hate it. Hate it.  I used to think it was just an excuse to have a wango tango event.  Now I think it's more of a trauma response.  We already know that cause and effect is severely damaged in traumatized children so we can't expect them to respond correctly as a NT.  ESPECIALLY if it's a stressful situation.   BUT when J came home she was 5 and she was verbal so I expected her to understand what no meant.  Oh boy! Was I ever wrong!  When you've had about a million other homes and too many changes, and too many hurts and too many scary things happening it just doesn't work that way.  No, in their mind, means the end of the world because they think there will NEVER be another "yes."  The amygdala engages and all hope is lost.  They say "game on."  It's just one of the millions of things that I wish that I understood before I parented trauma.  I could've saved myself and J so much trouble and shattered eardrums. :)

Try to say yes to everything you can within reason.  I really have to watch myself because I will get in the habit of saying no just because....I'm too tired or I really don't want to be bothered or it's Wednesday, or whatever.

Please don't get your panties in a wad.  Hear me out first.... I KNOW there are times you have to say no AND that's it's really important that they can handle it and obey it immediately.  Sometimes it life and death.  As in...."no" when they're about to run out in the street, or touch a hot pan, etc.  BUT when you can say "yes" and when they're regulated, maybe you can try the things below that worked for us to take the sting out of "no".

We made up another word to use instead.  One of ours was hippopotamus.  Yes... I know it's crazy to use another word when it would be so much easier just to say no.  But it sounds funny and it would interrupt the spin into the amygdala and most of the time she could handle it.  Not always... but seriously people if it worked only for one day I would take it.  When hippopotamus stopped working we used supercalifragilisticexpialidocious cause that was even sillier and then she'd try to say it and couldn't and then we'd both be laughing.  (P.S. if you're both laughing you are both winning.)  Sometimes I let her pick the word that would represent "no."  It gave her some control and it was always interesting to hear her choice.


We practiced, ad nauseum, using the representative word or the dreaded actual "no" when she was regulated.  Lots of pizazz to enforce when they are strong enough to actually hear the word and accept it. Sweet treat rewards during practice never hurt either.  Your hand to their mouth with love.

Model it: Turn the practice around and let them tell you "no" and model the appropriate response.  Yes, you may feel silly but find the fun in it.  Use your imagination and make it fun.

J is attached and her responses are appropriate most of the time but still, even after 5 years, if she is not regulated or stuck in her amygdala due to a stressful situation she can STILL have a hard time with no.  STILL.  I have to keep reminding myself that sooooooo much was missing in her first 5 years that this may be a pattern for her.  It may be something she adjusts too eventually but it's up to me not to expect her to have the exact response a NT child might have.  She's doing the best she can and sometimes I have to adjust my expectations.  It is frustrating and there are times when I think "she just be over all that stuff by now."  That's just me being ridiculous.   Then I have to remember how far she has come. 

We've come a long way baby!

If you've got any helpful hints on what you've done to ward off the no wango tango please share.  I can use all the tips I can get in my arsenal.