Tuesday, December 15, 2009

My Little Cutie!!

I love this little girl SO much!!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

From the mouths of babes...

we just came back from a chorus concert that I had.
It was about an hour drive away and we brought the whole family.

After I got there, I changed my clothes and someone else in the choir put my stage makeup on.

I had a few minutes before we started so I went into the auditorium to feed Kenzie.

When Jada saw me all dressed up and made up, she said,
"Mom, you look handsome!"

Then after the concert was over, Kishawn said,

"Mom, you were the prettiest one up there. Like out of all the girls, you were prettiest."

Which reminded me of a few days ago when we were all in the basement doing "Tae Bo" together. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Kishawn looking at me. Finally, he said kind of quiet like,

"Mom, you look sexy."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Poop, poop and more poop!

Sometimes I wonder if I'm going to be living in a toilet forever!

With all 4 of the kids peeing their pants and getting the urine smell on everything, and poop being deposited everywhere except the toilet almost daily, there is no escaping the feeling of living in a port-a-john.

Today, just after lunch, we were dancing to some music when I smelled the dreaded smell. Kishawn was excused from the "dance floor", to go wash out his pants and take a shower. At this request, he started a raging fit. Me, already close to the end of my rope, started quiet time a little early. Then, after quiet time, the seeming ever present aroma stuck it's head out again when I sat down next to Jazmine. I told her to go take care of it and take a shower.

"I CAN'T!!! IT'S IN THE HOLE THAT'S IN MY WALL!!!" she screamed at me.

So after Brad comes home, he breaks down the dry wall to get to it, and sees a foot high pile of garbage and feces inside of the wall! "There you go" he says... On to the next screaming rage (when combining the kids, this is number 9 for the day).


insert screaming, raging fit here.

Meanwhile, Kishawn is upstairs screaming about having to clean the poop out of his pants, Kiana was sent to play in the basement after she even further enraged the other kids by laughing hysterically at their doings, Jada is taking advantage of me being preoccupied doing her Tasmanian Devil act spilling water all over the kitchen, shredding my papers, dumping the laundry all over the family room, taking the ornaments off the Christmas tree, and spreading Kenzie's nicely put away clothes all over her room. I'm holding Kenzie during all of this and she is turning into herself more and more from all the tension in the house.

To an extent, I have gotten used to afternoons like this, but my poor sweet baby isn't capable of understanding what's going on. So she dissociates and becomes unresponsive to outside stimuli.
At this point, I focus all my attention on comforting her and bringing her back into the present.

Just a little glimpses into a not uncommon afternoon when living with 4 kids with RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder).

Monday, October 26, 2009

Baby Steps

Before I understood my children, before I knew what Attachment Disorder was and that they had it, before I knew that literally 1/2 their brain didn't function like an emotionally healthy child's does or function at all!, before... when I was naive and ignorant about my kids and their emotional health, I felt...

  • like a horrible mother,
  • alienated from friends and family because of my kids behavior,
  • judged by those I love the most,
  • judged by those I didn't know at all,
  • misunderstood,
  • hopeless,
  • full of hope with a new idea only to have the hope and the idea smashed and thrown back in my face over and over and over again by the kids themselves,
  • incapable of loving like a mother should,
  • a longing to feel love from my kids who only showed me hate and anger,
  • that any small step in the right direction was immediately followed by 3 gigantic leaps backwards
I wondered if all parents got slapped in the face when bending down to hug their child, got yelled at when telling their kids how much they love them, got spit on while walking by their children in passing, were constantly cleaning up poop and pee all over their house, got kicked, got scratched 'til they bled...

Did all parents have to deal with full blown fist fights, 150 decibel screaming and kids refusing to keep their seat belt on and stay in their seat every time they were in the car? Did other parents constantly have to be on guard to make sure their kids didn't abuse, humiliate or molest each other? How did they keep their houses so nice when I woke up to a complete and udder disaster every morning. Pictures all over the floor, food dripping off walls and smashed into the carpet, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, and soap bottles emptied all over mirrors, toilets, walls, floors and clothes, and toilet paper rolls filling the toilets. After attempting to supervise clean-up each morning, I was already exhausted and it was only 9 o'clock!

I wondered why, when I was tired, the thoughts of getting out of bed to face another day with them sometimes brought tears to my eyes. I blamed myself, felt sorry for myself, got over it and had yet another 'brilliant' idea to help them. Time after time, my reward systems became fighting systems. My one-on-one time with them became a mom bashing session with name calling, telling me they hate me, they didn't want to be with me, being spit on, swung at, kicked, bit, etc. Trying to get them distracted with outside activities resulted in someone else's kids getting hurt, complete melt downs, and phone calls to "Come pick your kids up!"

Before I knew that all of these behaviors, all of this hate that was targeted directly at me (the mother figure) , all of this anger was NORMAL for an attachment disordered child, I felt ASHAMED and hopeless.

I didn't talk about it. I put up a facade that everything was okay. I didn't want people to think bad about the kids and treat them badly and I didn't want them to think I was completely incapable of motherhood even though that was just how I felt.

The few people I did open up to had no way of understanding. How could anyone possibly know what it feels like to live with 4 people who hate you and have a deep seeded rage? Often times a rage that is unloosed 3-4 times a day by each child! That means dealing with a raging (screaming, kicking, hitting, scratching, pooping, peeing, property destroying child) 12-16 times a day! These were rages that lasted up to an hour and a half. One of our kids could go for 4 and 5 hours!

I felt VERY alone!

Personally, I feel that I have made huge strides! We now have an attachment therapist who has introduced us to some interventions and therapeutic parenting. Finally I have someone to talk to who understands what all of these behaviors mean and how I feel!

I am now able to talk about it. I am doing something that has been proven to work for others, instead of something else I've come up with hoping maybe this one, this time would work. I am starting to see progress in the form of tiny baby steps. It's
progress and I'll take it!

Because of all the neglect, abuse and repeated moves in foster care the kids faced as babies and toddlers, they never developed a conscience. This means that they can steal, lie, hurt others and even kill without feeling any remorse. I have walked in on a kid trying to kill our family dog on more than one occasion. I've had a threat from one of them to stab Makenzie (the baby). I understand that this must be difficult to comprehend to someone who has never seen it, it's even difficult for me to comprehend.

It is because of this, living with these kids for the last 2 1/2 years, watching how their minds work and seeing how sick they are that makes the
sweet little things they do actually HUGE things!!

On most mornings, I do a 'Feelings Journal' with each of them to help them become more attuned to their feelings. I ask them what their worst thing and their best thing was from the day before.

The other day Kishawn's answer for his worst thing was:

"The girls were screaming and I could feel the Holy Ghost leave. I felt sad."

His response for his best thing was:

"I didn't join the girls screaming during quiet time and I got to come out on time. I felt good about my decision. I felt proud of myself."

WOW!!! I had tears in my eyes!
That's more than a baby step in my eyes. I'm so proud of him!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Here's what we've been up to...

came to visit!!


came to visit!

We went with Maegan, Colvin, Kaydence, Dan, Paige, Landon, Mom, Justin and Lauren! So fun!

We had a delicious picnic provided by Gramma Mia!
(It did look good before my kids got to it.)



Kiana tries it out...

We went camping with several of our friends and their families.

My brother, Justin, had a summer job at a resort, so we took the kids there a few times to play.

(Andrea came to visit. We LOVED it and wish she would move here!)

I even tried it out. (Pardon the belly shot) These bikes are steered by tilting your body side to side.
It took Jada under 5 minutes to figure it out. Pretty good for 3 years old I think.

Thanks to the extreme generosity of some people from church (babysitting our kids),Brad and I have been able to go on some dates!!
It was beautiful!!

Makenzie got her first Farris Wheel ride!

We're making our basement more fun in preparation for cold winter days.

I had to add this adorable picture!
Added especially for my lovely sister, Andrea.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Deeper Look into Our Family

We've kept very busy this summer. About a month and a half ago, I decided to home school the kids. I've been trying it out during the summer to see if it would even be feasible for our family. It's been kind of rocky but I'm amazed at how well it's been going.

Everyone I tell this to asks me if I'm crazy, especially those who know our family best. My kids (the older 4) aren't necessarily 'normal'. They have a lot of past trauma and neglect and all suffer from Reactive Attachment Disorder. As I learn more about older adopted children,the issues they face and how to help them, I am becoming more eager to do whatever I have to do. In a book I recently read there was a list of possible behaviors children with Attachment Disorders might have. Including:
  • Superficially engaging and "charming" behavior
  • Indiscriminate affection toward strangers
  • Lack of affection with parents on their terms
  • Little eye contact with parents
  • Persistent nonsense questions and incessant chatter
  • Inappropriate demanding and clingy behavior
  • Lying about the obvious
  • Stealing
  • Destructive behavior to self, to other, and to material things
  • Abnormal eating patterns
  • No impulse controls (frequently acts hyperactive)
  • Lags in learning
  • Abnormal speech patterns
  • Poor peer relationships
  • Lack of cause-and-effect thinking
  • Lack of conscience
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Preoccupation with fire
Between the four of them we have dealt with every behavior in the list. I was actually encouraged when I read this. Finally there was someone who understood what we were going through and who had answers for us!

I've learned that my kids, who were so charming and affectionate to us at first but then became angry, aggressive and refused any affection from us were acting out of a pattern that they've been forced to learn; that any time you let yourself get too close and to love someone things will change, that person will leave you or hurt you. We've dealt with consistent stealing; getting reports from neighbors, family and the school that things were missing and have woken up many morning to find the contents of our pantry ravaged through, eaten and thrown all over the house. We've watched in wonder at the dinner table night after night as they stuffed their mouths so full they couldn't chew, ate everything with their hands or putting their mouths to their plates (like dogs do), eating all the food within sight 'til it was gone sometimes 4 or 5 times as much as I can eat, finding food under mattresses, in pillows, in drawers and closets.

I've seen them make friends only to scare them away a short while later. We've repaired countless drywall holes, replaced several destroyed beds, found every toy they've ever owned at our house cut, chewed, torn apart, smashed, crushed and completely destroyed. We've tried to calm them as they run rampant around the house screaming, hitting, kicking, and pulling each others' hair.

I've watched in horror as they've hurt our dogs, kicking them, hitting them, dragging them by their tails and smothering them. After we pull them off, I wonder what the smug smiles on their faces meant.

I've felt helpless and fearful as my 7-year-old, after being sent to her room, bled from several cuts from climbing out her broken window (broken during a tantrum the previous day) several times, screamed at the top of her lungs 'til the neighbors started to worry and refused to let me stop her. In fear of her seriously injuring herself and me being unable to help, I called the police to have them help. Their appearance did stop that specific behavior but not the screaming tantrum that continued for another 2 hours.

I've woken up at 2:30 in the morning to the sounds of one of my kids, having climbed out her bedroom window, running around the outside of our house yelling, "Someone HELP me!" This behavior continues for several consecutive nights causing my mom (who herself fantastically raised 9 children) to sleep outside her bedroom window on the ground. Each time she tried to come out, my mom would tell her to go back in! (One of the many funny stories to be told around a family reunion camp fire in the future I'm sure!)

I've had to inform the neighbors of our situation and to not be alarmed when they heard strange noises coming from our house.

I've become an expert lie detector. I can see them coming even before they start! I was stunned into speechlessness when I realized that my 7-year-old was peeing down the heating vent in her room, my 6-year-old down his metal frame bed post, on his walls and drawing pictures in his carpet with his pee, and my 3 year old into her laundry.

I've wondered what to do when every time we went somewhere and my son would poop his pants. He also would poop his pants whenever something made him angry, sometimes as often as 6 times a day. We've found poop smeared all over walls, mirrors, clothes, beds... practically every place imaginable.

I've held kids for over an hour as they scream, kick and hit until they calm down, then hold them longer rocking them and singing to them as if they were a baby. I tell them that they didn't have someone to take care of them when they were young so I want to do it now.

I felt so much sorrow at realizing what all of these behaviors mean. Realizing that as tiny infants they were left to cry in hunger and discomfort for hours. Instead of receiving love and care they were hit. When they finally found someone to care for them who they gave their hearts to (some of their foster parents) they were taken from them. They learned that those you love and care for will disappear so it's easier and less painful to not let yourself love or to be lovable.

I've wondered how I can recreate their early years with four of them at once. I spend much of every day holding them, rocking them, reading to them and even feeding them with bottles to help them heal, but still I feel like I'm not doing enough. Sometimes I have to choose which ones I'm going to hold and which ones I have to let wait while they cry and tantrum. Even when they're all home all day, there doesn't seem to be enough time in the day to attend to all of them how I should.

But we are doing everything we know to make things better. Brad has cut his work hours drastically to be home more and we are homeschooling them to keep them near us more, to help them be able to attach to us how a child should be attached to a parent. I spend almost every waking moment of everyday with them.

I'm reminded of just how fragile they are and how vulnerable they feel when after several months without a date, Brad and I go on a 2-hour-date. We came back to angry kids who won't look us in the eye or even acknowledge that we're talking to them. When we got too close to them they'd lash out at us. It took nearly 3 full days to get back to where we were before our 2-hour-date.

So with a huge and constant prayer in our heart and with all the energy we possess, we push forward with the hope that things are getting better and that we can make a difference for these kids that we love so much.

This is a creek that is about a 5-10 minute walk from our house!! It's SO beautiful and the kids had a great time playing in it for several hours.

I can't even begin to express the adoration I have for this little girl. She makes my every waking moment brighter and even my dreams too. I am convinced that I have the sweetest, happiest most tender-spirited baby ever born. I have a hard time sharing her with others who are dying to hold her. She makes motherhood SOOO rewarding.

Several times throughout the day I'll be holding her or she'll be lying somewhere close to me and I'll glance over at her to see her busting out in a big grin as she follows me with her eyes.

She 'talks', laughs and smiles all day long. Her spirit is very sensitive. Brad and I have both noticed her become uncomfortable around contention and be awed and calmed by beautiful music.

When she was just 3 days old, I took her to a musical fireside the missionaries put on that I was asked to sing in. My mother-in-law sat in the back with her and was in awe as Kenzie completely relaxed at the start of each song and looked around the room in wonder. As each song ended she'd drift off to sleep until the next song started and she'd look around again, sometimes with a smile on her face. Then as my mom and I sang a duet tears ran down my mother-in-law's cheeks as she watch her react to our voices.

She's been a happy and content baby from the very start. She was smiling at me before I even left the hospital with her after she was born. During her first 2 weeks, I heard her cry maybe 3 times including the minutes after she was born. Many times when I'm holding her she relaxes into me so much that I'll be sure she has fallen asleep. I face her toward someone and ask them if she's sleeping and be told that her eyes are wide open and she's looking around.

One of my very favorite things she does is while I'm nursing her. She'll be eating then pull off, look up at me and smile the sweetest, biggest, most precious smile at me then, she'll go back to eating.

She smiles at EVERYTHING! She smiles when I'm changing her diaper, when I change her clothes, when she meets my gaze, while she's eating, in the car, when I wipe her mouth, when I give her baths, when she spitting-up, when I lay her down, when I pick her up, she's even smiled at me a few times when I cleaned her nose out with a bulb syringe!! She knows how to make her momma's heart melt.
She's our angel and makes every day brighter!
This video is classic Kenzie behavior!
(make sure the volume is turned up)

She even tells me she loves me while she sleeps!Her quiet, peaceful influence everyday calms every member of our family. She is adored by all of us.

Monday, July 20, 2009

We ARE still here...

We've been busy since my last post almost 3 months ago...
But that's no excuse. I think the real reason I've slacked on my blogging is because I haven't wanted to stop looking at and holding my baby for a long enough period of time to post anything.
Can you blame me? Look at her!! She's adorable!

In the mean time, Kenzie got her first bath at home...
Laree, my sister, surprised me by showing up at my house the day I got home from the hospital. I couldn't have been happier to see her! She stayed for a week!...
Grandma Porter came to visit! It was so fun to have her here!! And I missed her terribly after she left. Not to mention I ate better than I have in a VERY long time.
I think Grandma's favorite thing while she was here was her daily afternoon naps with Makenzie...

Makenzie went to church for the first time...

We went to Mt. Rushmore twice. Once with Laree and again with Grandma...

We took the kids to the Air Show...

Laree, all her kids, Rachel and Jason all came and were here to see Makenzie get blessed by her Daddy...We had a good time with family (going to Rushmore Cave, Cosmos, and other tourist attractions)...
I admired and enjoyed my baby...

Brad and I took the kids to Storybook Island...
And we went to Arizona for 4 weeks.
Unfortunately, my camera broke so I didn't get any pictures of the Turley family reunion, time spent with friends and family or the Porter family reunion. But we all had a great time. It was nice, however, to leave the 115 degree heat and come home to 69 degrees. Ahhh.