March 24, 2012

Starting the weekend

     It's Friday and the girls are both a sleepovers tonight. Yippee ~ we can sleep in tomorrow as long as the door is closed to keep cats out. Dogs are happy to sleep in with you. Cats are only happy when you get up and fill the food bowl, preferably before 6am.

     Poodaloo is attending a birthday party for a classmate. They are staying in a trailer at a camp ground and all the girls will get feathers in their hair tonight. Nine little girls in a trailer. Glad I'm not the mother staying there.

     As we took her stuff from our van to the party vehicle, I told Poodaloo that daddy and I were going to have a date tonight since she and her sister were gone. "Ooooo, a date!" Then she tugged on my shirt and whispered to me, "Tomorrow I want all the details of the date."

     Huh?! Where on earth did she learn about getting details after dates? She doesn't even want to get married (she plans to be a Musketeer, like Barbie in Barbie and the Three Musketeers animated movie). I cast blame to Disney channel. We had it for six months and the girls would watch it 24/7 if we allowed it. Then I called the cable company to have it blocked. Bye-bye Mickey Mouse. It was nothing personal.

     Panda is staying with her best friend, J. Mama arranged it once she realized it could be a kid-free night and  we wouldn't have to hire a sitter.

     Our 'date' was fun. It has been awhile since our last date but we muddled through it pretty well. Happy to remember why I love my husband!

March 18, 2012

It's cookie time

     Panda and Poodaloo belong to a non-traditional Girl Scout troop. It is non-traditional because all the girls are from families who have adopted from China. Typically, troop members are from the same school & neighborhood. This troop was formed to provide the girls with friends who have similar backgrounds (a peer group, if you will) and the girls attend different schools. As hoped, it has worked out beautifully for the girls.

     What we didn't anticipate was the support group it also brings to the moms. These wonderful ladies know the challenges of raising kids with traumatic backgrounds. Each of these dear friends has helped me through tough times more than once.

     Last weekend, we manned a cookie booth for three hours on a blustery day. The girls were excited and enthusiastic. They more than made up for the moms' lack of genuine enthusiasm.

      We are bringing a small-ish supply of cookies when we visit Grandma over spring break. $3.75 per box. Checks and cash accepted.

     Both girls are signed up for Girl Scout horse camp this summer! It will be four days without parents but the pull of horses is strong and they are confident of being okay. Cookie sales will fund a portion of the camp (we hope).

Birthday celebration

     Panda had a birthday recently. We had a family dinner with my sister and her family. Panda chose to eat at a Japanese restaurant - where the food is prepared in front of you with a great deal of showmanship. First, a match was lit on the grill and a huge flame leaped into the air. Poodaloo hit the ground under the table and was not sure she wanted to come out again.

Our chef preparing fried rice (we are sitting out of sight on the right).

The three girls sit beside the pond.

Beautiful goldfish swim in the pond.

This fountain led to quite a conversation between the boys who were also eating at the restaurant.

     The birthday party for friends happened on the 10th. The party was at the YMCA swimming pool (for the second year in a row). I've spent the last year germinating the idea of birthday parties without presents. My little seed has borne fruit. We are calling it a 5 Spot Party with emphasis on lots of time for swimming. Guest bring $5.00 instead of a present. Panda will donate half to the local humane society and she can keep the rest to spend as she likes. My fingers are crossed for success. (Post script: It was a success! Most of her friends included handmade cards with the 5 Spot. Reading the cards gave the feel of opening gifts. The moms were thrilled with such an easy gift.)

(No party photos ~ too busy managing the party. Sorry . . . . )

     Panda & I finished a really good book. It's called Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M. M. Blume. Spoiler Alert: There is sadness at the end of the story. Panda & I went through a mountain of tissues as we finished the book. (Okay, it was me who went through 3/4 of the mountain of tissues.)

     We discovered electronic library loans and have gone crazy over them. There is one drawback to e-book loans: the library only allows five at a time and you cannot return a book early when you have finished reading it. This likely would not be a problem if I was not such a dunce about electronic things. I 'checked out' two e-books that are not actually Kindle books. They count as part of the five books but I can't download them. One is an MP3 file and the other has some bizarre file name that means nothing to me. Now we wait 14 days for the loan to expire. Sigh . . . .

     Another fantastic thing about the modern* library: requesting books via the internet. An email tells you when the book is at the library (you can borrow from any library in the valley). You zip in, use automated checkout, and in next to no time there are new books for you to read.

* I used the book mobile when I was in grade school & high school but had not used a library since until recently. Unlike today, there was no library in Troy when I was a kid.

March 8, 2012

Literal interpretation

     Poodaloo is still deep within the world of literal interpretation. Here are a couple of funny examples.

     One day her cold lunch had an insulated container to keep food warm. She watched me add hot water into the container and put on the lid. Apparently, she did not see me dump out the water and add warm food. So, she didn't eat the food in the container that day. Not wanting to eat hot water for lunch she figured there was no reason to open the lid. (Seriously, when have I given her an empty dish of hot water?!?!?)

     Getting ready for bed the other night, Poodaloo lamented the fact that two of her friends had gotten feathers in their hair. She really wants a feather in her hair, too. We talked about knowing the feather kiosk at the mall was no longer there. I suggested she should ask where the feather came from (can't remember my exact wording). She looked horrified and said she couldn't ask. I musingly wondered why she didn't want to ask her friends where they got the feathers.

     "Mom, you mean I'm supposed to ask my friends? I thought you meant I had to ask the people who run the mall! I'm scared to ask those people, not my friends." We had a good chuckle over that one.

Therapy updates

     I met with a new therapist who will begin seeing Panda. She specializes in working with children and she uses EMDR. After reading our information (a five page document), she said this is one of the most challenging situations she has undertaken. Yikes, no wonder we are having a hard time.

     Panda has a recurring weekly appointment starting next week. At some point, Panda’s protective shell has to crack and let in a chance for more healing. I just don’t think it will happen without a neutral party involved. Too much garbage surrounds Panda’s relationship with me. The garbage stinks and hurts and it needs to be tossed out. Like any child, Panda deserves to be free of her demons.

     The silver lining is recognizing the many positive changes in the past two years. Panda's reading has improved. She likes books! During first grade, I feared she would never be good at, or even enjoy, reading. That year I despised helping Panda practice reading. She pinched or kicked me at each difficult word. And, when your eyes don’t track from left to right properly, there are many difficult words.

     Books have always calmed Panda’s dysregulation. During an especially bad time last week, Panda searched for a book to read. She – got – the – book – herself.  I had no part in the search, not even to suggest it. Panda was the one who knew what to do.

     She is reliably able to get herself ready for bed and ready for school. She monitors the foods the orthodontist has said not to eat and does not eat them. She is helping prepare meals and does a good job. She feeds the dogs and empties the trash from time to time.

     In the black cloud part of things, the chaos is non-changing or getting worse. Random violence & destruction of household items doesn’t happen much any longer, but the violence toward me continues. Poodaloo also gets a share of smacks and thumps. Baba usually only gets it when he's restraining her. (May have already mentioned the literature indicates mothers are usually the target in these situations.) 

     My tears don’t flow at the drop of a hat anymore (yay) and I mostly ignore the words (yay) and I try to circumvent injuries (yay). 

     But . . . I want it to S.T.O.P. . . . N.O.W. (yesterday even better). 

     This can be my chance to firm up my backbone and establish more boundaries (not punishment or consequences). 

     The trouble is a boundary line is nearly invisible to me. Boundaries have been difficult to establish all of my life. It has something to do with being the people pleasing child of an alcoholic.

      The past couple of weeks have been stressful. About ten days ago I reached my limit of tolerance. Who knows why it happened then and not another time. I am tired:
     • of being a punching bag for anything that is not to her liking
     • of unreasonable accusations and expectations
     • of watching her hit Poodaloo without warning and for no reasonable purpose*

* Honestly, I'd probably be okay with it if this was a 'regular' sibling fight with two kids willing to duke it out. This is not that kind of hitting. It's sneaky and usually without merit.

     I continue to see my therapist weekly. She is helpful and supportive. She reassures me. Circumstances are the responsible culprit, not me. I am trying to make things better, not causing the problems. When I fail to remember this, she tells me I am the mother of a special needs child and it is a difficult path. I must stay healthy, give myself (and others) grace, take time to do enjoyable things and spend non-kid time with my husband. He will be with me when the girls have flown the nest (even though Poodaloo maintains she will never move away from me).

March 4, 2012

100% chance of sunshine

     Today was a gorgeous day, the best one of the year. Our friends Z & M invited us to the neighborhood park to play. Poodaloo and I accepted the invitation in an instant. We gathered up some snacks and water and made tracks down the street.

     Panda had gone with Baba to a meeting at church. It was a training on the 'ins and outs' of making coffee for the Sunday services. Panda likes to help when its our turn to ensure there is coffee available. Turns out the training was BORING. Her texts flew in such rapid succession I could not reply before a new one arrived. Because I didn't answer, phone calls began. After half a dozen calls (Where is Poodaloo's bike helmet? Does she have to wear one? What if we can't find it?) she arrived at the park to join us.

     All told, we spent more than two hours enjoying the sunshine. Hoagie came along and snoozed at my feet in the sun. At bedtime I noticed my chest is slightly reddened. So there you have it ~ first sunburn of the season on March 4!