Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Intervention

As I was thinking about the decrease in many of Tortuga's problematic behaviors I realized that part of what we have been able to accomplish is to reduce the interference. These behaviors interfere with his ability to communicate with and connect with us on many levels. They prevent him from listening to us and engaging with us on any but the most superficial (and contentious) levels. In working so intensively to change these behaviors part of what we gave up was trying to get him to understand the problem or need for change but simply to get him to "perform" better. It didn't matter to us if he remembered that it was disrespectful to talk/look at us that way or if he understood that it was disrespectful. Well, of course, it mattered on a deeper level to us but we began to understand that for him performing it was our first priority. In some ways it is similar to what Katharine Leslie discusses when she reminds us that our traumatized children don't have the scripts for the plays they are performing in so they don't know how to act in a family context.

So we shifted our focus as much as possible. In the process we have been able to uncover more of the deeper issues and hurts and of course, the next set of things that need to be worked on.  One change I didn't mention in my previous writing was that we have seen a reduction in his NEED to be oppositional for the sake of being oppositional. This is a kid who ALWAYS (and I do mean ALWAYS) had to find a way to oppose (whether verbally or by actions) whatever he was asked or expected to do. It was his default response and usually resulted in some kind of confrontation no matter how much we worked to avoid it. Even if he was in an especially good mood that behavior would surface although many times as indecision and would immobilize him and then get coupled with his other insecurities. So for example, let's say I offered a cookie or a cupcake for dessert (which we rarely did because sugar really messes with his brain.) He couldn't choose. Then he would ask me which one was better. Then he would get mad if I didn't say one was better. Then he would get mad because I wouldn't choose one for him. No matter which one I chose (or he chose) he would get mad because it wasn't the better one. Then he would fly off the handle and down that usual path. It could be a cookie, a book, a shirt, which chair at the table, or whatever. It just didn't matter. If I gave him permission to play outside with his rollerblades or his skateboard he would go out and come back in and ask to play with a scooter (which was inaccessible or being used by someone else) and that would become the focus of an argument. I got to the point where I prefaced every request by saying "THESE are your only choices so don't ask about anything else" before I made whatever request of him.

In the past 6 months that tendency has still been there but it is diminishing. I find him saying "I was gonna ask you if." and then stop himself and say "never mind" or "it's not one of the choices so you are going to say I can't." All by himself he was stopping that impulse! It was wonderful! One thing that I think really helped is that we slowed down his world and this is something my kid really needed because on top of everything else he does have learning issues, processing issues, and sensory issues. This is something that I have been thinking alot about as a challenge for kids like him in RTCs. I know that Tortuga loved being in the RTC. He loved the structure and predictability (probably the first time in his life he had access to food regularly and he could anticipate each meal and snack.) He loved that many of the expectations were pretty low so he both achieved success but didn't get corrected when he fell short (never showering appropriately.) If he destroyed toys, books, papers, etc. no one cared and out of somewhere new ones appeared. He had one on one adult attention several times each day (daily therapy and group therapy), a peer group he could join or escape at will and when he didn't like something or want to do something he quickly learned how to get out of doing it by engaging in unsafe behaviors that immediately put him on "watch" with one adult and usually earned him an extra therapy appointment plus a meeting with the psychiatrist usually punctuated by someone playing ball with him outside when he was supposed to be doing chores/schoolwork.  Before anyone gets upset with me about this please understand that I am not trying to slam RTCs and their staffs. I have worked in facilities like these, I have been trained as both an educator and clinical therapist, and I understand the protocols that any agency working with challenged children must adhere to. What I am saying is that this is how MY son experienced his RTC (which is a very desirable and reputable one) and he is the one who has been able to articulate all of the things I have noted above. Most importantly there was no expectation that he attach to anyone and it fact the RTC reinforced his view of the world which was that people came and went (roommates, floormates, house staff, and therapists) and you never saw them again so there was no real point in attaching to them because they would be gone and replaced by someone else. This is where family life was that much more scary for him AND impossible for him to participate in.

But I have digressed. I wanted to write about our weekend "intervention." C. had been away for a good part of last week and when she returned we checked in about the kids. So I was forced to go through my weekly routine (pickups, dropoffs, errands, etc.) with all 4 kids because we don't yet have a sitter who can handle the kids and do things as they need them to be done. That meant Tortuga spent a great deal more time interacting with the whole crew than he normally does and there were many more transitions. He did better than he normally was but some of the major issues (not behaviors necessarily but issues) surfaced in a clearer way because they weren't masked by his usual antics. So I was telling C. about his newfound obsession with Pollito's classmate and younger brother (I think I wrote about his playing with them at the park) and a secret club he was forming with 2 five year olds and a 4 year old. I was also telling her his new language to refer to Corazon ("enemy") and his continued need to just be mean to her and to Pollito. I also noted that he continues to blame Corazon for every perceived problem he has and he began accusing her of doing things she doesn't do (taking and hiding his things, going into his toybox, looking at him). He also continues to find ways to try and scare Pollito. In fact, we had a recent incident with Pollito at school where he threated a little girl with something that we know he must have heard from Tortuga. As I updated C. she once again reiterated that we needed to confront the possibility that Tortuga might never be a family kid and reminded me of her stance that if he hurts anyone else beside me (well even me if it were more than in the process of trying to help him or restrain him) she would not allow him to stay in our home.

So we set the stage for an "intervention." C. went upstairs and spoke with him (it is usually me but we wanted to change things up for him) about his progress and his ongoing problems. She also gave him some "causes" for his problems and told him the whole family was now joining in on helping him with his problems because we wanted to give him every opportunity to become a family kid. She also spoke with him about his issues related to his birthmom (doesn't want to connect with us because it feels disloyal to her, harbors belief that we are keeping him from her, believes she will come get him, etc.)

In the meantime I spoke with the other kids and had them share with me as honestly as they could what they wanted him to be like, what they wanted him to stop doing, whether they wanted him to stay in the family, etc. It was heart-breaking and amazing to see and hear what they had to say, especially Pollito. Then we met as a family and C. shared their conversation and also shared with the whole family our belief that Tortuga does ALL of this because he is AFRAID. Afraid of everything and everyone. She also shared our theory of why he is afraid and wants everyone else to be afraid. We also talked about how Tortuga has been taught that everything and everyone is disposible--when you get bored you throw it away whether it is a person or a thing. We talked about how it wasn't his fault that he was treated at disposible and that he learned to do that to protect himself from being so afraid. We talked about his hatred of Corazon and why we think this is the case and we reminded everyone that Corazon had some of the same behaviors and actions when she first came. Tortuga cried and cried. He spent most of the meeting sitting on my lap.

Then we had him listen to what the kids said about when he was being a "good brother" and what they wished they could do with him if he was able to play/be with them. They were so caring and articulate in sharing their thoughts with him and he continued to cry. The only difficulty we encountered was that he couldn't look at Corazon's face when she spoke to him or when he spoke to her. Then we enlisted everyone's help in helping him by informing him that the kids would be "tattle-taling" on him every single time he said or did something rude or mean to or about them (or anyone) and he was going to practice "owning" the behavior and apologizing when necessary. Plus he was going to THANK them for trying to help him. In return there would be no negative consequence for the behavior. We practiced what this would look like. We had a group hug and spent the rest of the day doing "fun" things as a family--bowling, dinner, ice cream, game. Tortuga did wonderfully and we got a chance to have him practice being "helped" by everyone.

So this is where we are. He is spending more time with the family (for example, dinner every meal now unless he asks to be alone) and we see it as him "practicing" being a family kid. I don't know yet how it is working but so far we have had only minor bumps. I am also reducing my one on one time to increase his investment in spending time with the whole group and we are increasing the "bonding" activities with me and with everyone else. I don't know yet what other steps we will be taking.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Before the intervention

I think it has been awhile since I have done a detailed update on Tortuga. It has been 6 months since we changed things around for him and I have been doing a great deal of thinking and reflecting on what we have been doing. A post that was really helpful to me recently was Christine's post about RTCs and when to consider them for our children. I fully agree with her perspective and appreciate her presentation of her thinking about this. It made me realize that in some ways what we had done with Tortuga these past few months was set up an "in-home" RTC.  In our case we have kept away what I would consider "bad" RTC influences (peers who could negatively influence him or give him new (unproductive) strategies) and where he cannot focus on attaching (and wanting to attach) to us. The changes in our home have made it so "it would look like they were at an RTC, minus their family, plus a lot of strangers."  (as Christine said in her post.)

 This structure has worked for him and it has worked for us. Every little thing is routinized and structured. His world is very, very small in terms of things and people. He isn't expected to interact with people he doesn't want to be near, nor does he have to participate in all the family activities and responsibilities that upset and challenge him. Most importantly he isn't subjected to what includes constant transitions, unpredictable stimuli, and multiple distractions that prevent him from doing what he needs to do. We aren't subjected to his unpredictable, volatile, and often violent, outbursts at every turn and especially Pollito and Corazon are not subjected to constant meanness, dirty looks, interruptions and verbal attacks. The rest of the kids are happier and much more relaxed (which helps me too). I have written (here, here, here and here plus here and then here and also here) about the many changes we made in his schedule, routines, and our lives over the past 6 months in order to try to create a better living and growing enviroment for all of us. We have had many bumps and regrouping but overall we have been extremely consistent and unwavering in our attempts to give Tortuga what he needs and not what he wants (or what we want for that matter.)

It has been hard, really hard. We have mourned many of what I call the "what could have beens." That's part of what is so painful for those of us with such traumatized kids--the "what ifs" and "what could have beens." If I let myself walk down that road too much it is downright depressing. I have learned to try not to focus on those fun things they might miss out on and concentrate on those positive things I want them to have and experience as they grow up--independence, self-confidence, self-esteem, love for family, connection to others, empathy, sense of self-worth. It's still hard but it helps me gain and keep perspective.

In making his world very, very small we have been able to more readily identify what factors cause him trouble. This in turn has helped us help him. C. has been away quite a bit with travel but as she got home for about 36 hours this weekend we had a chance to check in and talk about next steps for him and for us because the challenges are still great but we also needed to change things up a little more. After a great deal of talking and a good amount of tears we concluded that we needed to "confront" Tortuga with his progress and his greatest obstacles but we also decided that the whole family needed to be involved in his "treatment" in a somewhat different role. In essence, we staged an "intervention" much like what I imagine those sensationalized reality tv shows are like. I haven't been able to process how I think that went but I am working on writing about it. However, I wanted to make note of the changes we have seen in Tortuga over the past 6 months.

Here is a list of behaviors we no longer see or which have been significantly reduced. He NO longer:
  • rolls his eyes when we talk to him about something he doesn't want to hear
  • sighs loudly or exagerratedly yawns when he is being redirected
  • yells at me
  • makes mean faces (squinty eyes, tensed up face, etc.) when he is told to do or not do something
  • slams his door
  • tears his clothes, sheets, pillow, schoolwork, activity books, etc.
  • breaks pencils, toys, book spines, etc.
  • walks away when we are talking to him and he is mad
  • acts impatient when asked to wait or to listen to something that he doesn't like
  • turns his back on us
  • throws things
  • rages
  • postures and aggressive stance (raising voice, hand, body) toward me and Pollito for no apparent reason
  • sets off the door alarm dozens of times when not supposed to (after bedtime, baby sleeping, etc.)
  • argues back just for the heck of it (ODD behaviors significantly reduced)
  • pretends he forgot to hug back
  • screams that he "hates" us and wants to kill us every time he doesn't get his way
  • show disrespect to his clothes, bed, dresser, toys
  • turning his back/sulking/screaming/walking away after being (quietly) redirected in a public place or threatening to run away in public places
  • refusing to comply with simple directions that never changed (walking behind me in grocery store, mouth hug in car if he said something rude/mean, etc.)
  • shouting "I don't care! I hate this family" whenever he was missing out on something
  • meltdowns when frustrated at doing the simplest task--making his bed, sorting his laundry, putting away clean clothes
  • interrupting his routine to ask a question, get my attention, or tell me something that came into his brain (impulse control issues have been HUGE!)
He has greatly reduced the following behaviors:
  • attitude toward me and C.
  • complaining (which used to lead to rages) when he didn't like consequences of his actions
  • muttering to himself, using weird voices, sneaking notes under Corazon's door, veiled threats to Corazon and Pollito
  • "forgetting" important steps in his routines and then getting angry when redirected
  • gorging himself at every meal
  • meltdowns after outside physical/fun activity (these transitions were an absolute nightmare!)
  • saying "mean" or scary things to Pollito when he thinks others aren't hearing him
He has greatly increased his ability to:
  • accept redirection and even says "thank you, mom" or "thank you for helping me" almost every single time
  • wait patiently for his turn without interrupting
  • ride in the car without talking incessantly and/or inappropriately
  • calm himself before escalating, melting down and/or raging
  • STOP in the middle of doing something/saying something inappropriate and asking to do it over again
  • control his impulses and ask questions at the right time (rather than in the middle of his routine or when the thought pops into his head)
All of these are little things and big things at the same time. Of course, we still have issues--big ones--but this is getting really long so I am going to discuss those in my post about the actual intervention. If your are interested stay tuned...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Request for folks in Kansas

My dear friend Lisa over at Grateful House is searching for someone in Kansas who aged out of the system without a family. If anyone is from Kansas or has connections in Kansas could you please head on over to her blog and let her know. She really wants to track down this kid or information about her so please check in with her. Thanks a bunch!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

An Ordinary Day

We don't have too many of these--days where I feel productive, get things done as planned, and actually get to add in something "fun." After getting through my list of things to do this morning, I realized both of the older kids were diligently working on their schoolwork and might actually get through today's work. By the time we had to pick up Pollito, Two year old Milagro was also playing nicely by herself  and had asked to go to the park no less than half a dozen times:

"I go to park mom?"
"Mom, we go to park today?"
"Mom, get in car and go to park?"
"I take my ball to park today mom?"

What was melting my heart was that each time I said "not right now" or "I don't know" she would sweetly respond with "ok, mom" and go off to entertain herself. The last time she asked she said "Mom, you want to go play in the park with me?" How could I resist? Well, actually I could think of countless reasons why that wasn't a good idea for the rest of the crew but I really wanted to do this for her. It was a beautiful day with 70 degree weather and the sun was shining.

So after picking up Pollito and dropping off his classmate I got into a conversation with the mom and mentioned we might go to the park. She quickly asked if they could join us and I thought "why not?" This mom has been the only person in Pollito's class who I have "befriended" and I have ducked out on invites to her home a few times  mostly because of the reasons most of us avoid public places with unpredictable kids. We met at the park and the kids all did extremely well. She and I got a chance to talk and it turns out her 5 year old has sensory issues and she (the mom) spent a good part of her formative years in foster care. I had an absolutely wonderful time getting to talk with another adult and although Corazon worked pretty hard to get into our conversation a few times even she managed to relax and let us visit. I was really struck by how young developmentally Tortuga is. He spent the bulk of the time playing with Pollito and his classmate, plus his 4 year old brother. The 5 year olds taught him a game they made up and Tortuga couldn't have been happier!

As we were getting into the car he smiled and declared "Mom! I have two new friends!" I smiled back and once again marvelled at how much this kid has missed out on. I also realized just how little difference there had been between the boys' behaviors despite Tortuga being twice their ages (he will be 11 in a few months!) It's so hard to balance the gaps sometimes. He is emotionally/developmentally at their age yet academically he is closer to a 4th/5th grader and cognitively probably somewhere in between although he has many of the "experiences" and language of a "bigger" boy. He doesn't have any of the filters other kids would have to recognize that these were "little" boys and not peers. I had already checked him in the car several times when Pollito's friend gets in after school because I immediately have the three of them in the back of the van playing around like 5 year olds with no regard for safety or size or sense of appropriateness.

Anyway, I have to think more about how to help Tortuga bridge these gaps. We ended our evening by meeting up with my sister and going out to dinner at one of the kids' favorite restaurants. It was a nice end to what turned out to be a pretty ordinary day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Anniversary Picture and Rough Times Ahead

We managed to celebrate Pollito's anniversay without incident and everyone participated. I made a giant cookie and asked Pollito what he wanted it to say. He thought about it for a moment and said "Love the Family." So that is what we wrote on it.

Both Corazon and Tortuga will have anniversaries in the next few weeks. I have no doubt we are in for some rough times but right now we are holding steady and taking it one day at a time.

Corazon has made tremendous progress over the past few years but there are lingering behaviors that just won't leave! She continues to have pretty good days coupled with really bad days. On those days nothing works. There is a pattern that is emerging though.Her worst days are the days she doesn't have gymnastics and Mondays. With her advancing to the next level in gymnastics she is now going to the gym 5 days each week--yay! She LOVES it. All the girls come out after a 3 1/2 hour workout looking beat. She bounces out with the biggest smile on her face! It's wonderful to see how much she really enjoys this. On the other hand, schoolwork isn't getting done and when it is done it is dones slowly (4 hours to do a writing prompt) or incorrectly (she forgot how to round numbers to nearest tens and hundreds places). I just smile and say "great job" to which she gives me the most incredulous looks.

Tortuga has made tremendous progress and we had our best holiday season yet. It is still exhausting and I have to make so much effort for some small (albeit important) changes. Yet I can see the healing and the calmer kid and for that I am ever so grateful. He dominates tremendous amounts of our time and energy and the other kids are feeling neglected. Rightly so. We are still struggling with his complete and utter disdain(vehement and violent) for Corazon. It causes him to miss out on many family activities which he resents and blames her for. We continue to explain that everyone in our family is entitled to feel safe and he does not do things to make it comfortable or safe for her when he sits at the table and glares at her for no reason at all. He sits in his room and talks about how awful she is but so far all we get out of him is that she "looks" at him and that she "steals" (only once ever from him and it was half a bag of candy he had lost the privilege of eating.) It's sad, especially because she continues to work to help him every chance she gets.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Three years is a lifetime

Pollito's anniversary is today. I can barely remember my life without him. Three years ago he came home to us. We are the only family and home he "remembers" and today he asked me how long forever was? I asked him "why?" and he said "I have loved you a long time and it feels like forever!" So sweet. . Funny how these little ones wiggle their way into our lives and hearts. He has officially lived with us longer than everywhere else combined and this is showing. There are some subtle but important changes in his demeanor and attitude. He tests us more often and "demands" what he wants much more than he did before. The nightmares and night terrors have subsided significantly. He asks about when he was a baby and he "begs" to be my baby. He wants to be held like a baby and he wants to ride in an infant car seat. If he had his choice he would still be sleeping in a crib and drinking from a baby bottle--not so much as a regression but I think he want more of that bonding experience with me. Yet he has also grown so very much! At age 5 he is a smart, shy, charming, goofy, and obstinent little boy. His interests haven't changed much in this past year. Last year I wrote that:  "He is still a ham who loves dinosaurs, trains, purses and accessories but I should also add that he loves books, cars, his tricycle, drawing, "writing" his name, and cooking (real and pretend.)"   This is still very much the case although he can actually write his name now. He also loves gymnastics, puzzles, playing with his sisters, being outdoors, collecting sticks and coloring (he used to dislike this.)

Yesterday we spent time putting his new bed in order and moved him back into the room he is supposed to share with Tortuga. I successfully divided the room into two "sections" and both boys seem excited about their spaces. We settled on a low bunk bed set for Pollito and I am in the process of making a "canopy" that will cover it on 3 sides for him. He likes the feeling of being in a "tent" and misses his old bed tent. He was so excited to get the bed which he ultimately picked out himself as we scrambled for options and this morning he announced that he "slept really good" in his new bed. He also mentioned that he has a new favorite color--blue (the color of his walls and his new bed). For the past few years his favorite colors have been orange and pink.

He likes school (although not as much as kindergarten) and is starting to recognize most of the letters and some of the letter sounds. He is not yet interested in sounding out letters or words but he actually shows interest in counting and naming shapes. These were all things he had absolutely no desire to do a year ago. He has also started asking if he can homeschool. I am not sure what that is about yet. Despite a major growth spurt he is still such a little guy. In fact he weighs only 6 lbs more than Milagro and still wears 3T/4T clothing that is sometimes too big for him! He has the best imagination of any of my children and can create the most elaborate cities out of blocks and other assorted toys and he can play with them for hours. It's quite impressive!

Tonight we will have a small celebration in honor of his arrival and we will tell his "gotcha" story which he is finally beginning to understand.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

You didn't want to be me this past weekend....

I am patiently waiting for the 18th load of laundry to come out of the dryer. This is my 18th load this weekend and the good thing is that I did NOT let the laundry pile up. In fact I was all caught up with my regular laundry before the weekend began. I knew I had a few loads of sheets/towels to do as I cleaned up after the last of our visitors left but since Friday there has been a whole lot of diarrhea and vomiting going on around here and if I could've put the kids in the washer I would have.  Being sick is not fun for anyway but throw in some RAD and ODD and it is a whole heck of a lot less fun. Both boys were projectile vomiting and then sitting/sleeping in it. It was not pretty. I think we still have evidence on the floors/wall of the bedrooms.  I couldn't get the 5 and 10 year olds to get themselves to the bathroom, bucket, or even to shift positions so they didn't get it on everything in sight. Tortuga even managed to burst blood vessels all over his face from the force of his hacking and I had to take him to the doctor just to make sure it wasn't something more serious. Doctor was surprised someone his age put so much force into throwing up and it was hard to explain that when he is sick he really is about 3 or 4 years old.  The baby was the last of the kids who caught their stomach bug and after a few times of messing both of us up she "got the hang of it" and managed to announce she was going to throw up and move so that it went in more appropriate places. She even apologized for getting my clothes dirty!

I am struck by just how many gaps Tortuga has. While he was sick we had interesting conversations about bodily functions and his lack of understanding about some basic ones. I thought we had covered all that but of course, I was wrong. It is so hard to keep track of all the things he needs to learn and I forget that he had very little parenting before age 8. I need to find a systematic way to help him learn the stuff he doesn't know. I am pretty good at recognizing that he doesn't know something rather than assuming it is his ODD kicking in but then there are times when it hasn't really come up and WHAM! we discover that "oops he doesn't understand this/know this/etc." Of course there are still times it is his RAD or ODD.

Since it is a new year I am reorganizing and reassessing and revamping everywhere I go. The boys' room in undergoing yet another transformation. We have spent the last 6 months bumping poor Pollito from room to room because of the behaviors of the older kids. I put my foot down and decided Tortuga couldn't hold everyone else hostage anymore with his behaviors and I moved Pollito back into the room with him. That lasted about 3 weeks before we were seeing behaviors AND attitudes from Pollito targeting both girls and realized he was being "fed" a whole mess of nonsense by Tortuga. So I moved him back in with Corazon but that limits the time she can spend in her room and she really is at a place where she can handle doing some things in there by herself without constant supervision. So we spent about a week considering all our options and decided to move him back into the room but are working on dividing the room in such as way as to keep them separate yet with their own personal space. Tomorrow we search for a new bed for Pollito. If anyone has ideas about something that is set up something like a fort please pass them along... :-)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy Three Kings Day and Happy New Year 2010!

Happy New Year and Feliz Dia de los Reyes! The last of our holiday visitors left earlier today. We had a good visit with our friend P. and her 89 year old mom. In the past two and a half weeks we celebrated the boys' adoption anniversaries, Christmas, C.'s 39th birthday, New Year's and P.'s 61st birthday the day before she left. We are through with cakes for awhile but gotcha days are coming up so I need to get creative about treats that aren't cake (or cookies) for those celebrations. Tomorrow I will tackle getting decorations taken down and getting my homeschoolers back into their school routines.

Corazon has started gymnastics again. New schedule has her going 4 days/week for 3 1/2 hours each time plus 2 1/2 hours on Saturday mornings. She has been so excited by the new workouts although she is stiff and sore. The new coaches are tough but in a totally great-for-RAD-kids-kinda-way! She will hopefully thrive in that new structure. I need to find a balance for her because I am confronting that while she is totally attached to me it still feels like an "anxious" form of attachment and carries lots of baggage on top of her RAD behaviors. She is also reverting back to lots and lots of those "annoying" behaviors--forgetting how to do simple tasks, playing dumb (yesterday she couldn't "remember" what number came after 39), leaving 1 spoon in the dishwasher when she is asked to empty it, sneaking, lying with evidence in hand, etc. Nothing really major but stuff she had mostly been past. I am sure the changes in routine have created this plus two weeks off from gymnastics.

Tortuga need his own post. Lots of changes--good and not-so-good. Lots of testing but a new thing new--lots of "baby-like" behaviors and lots of calling out to me in the middle of the night (although not wanting comfort). I need a plan for some of this because all the adults around here are cranky after many nights of interrupted sleep. I swear the toddler is the only child of ours who has never kept us up at night! Pollito returned to school on Tuesday and has had two really good days. His teacher says she is seeing some maturing (socially and academically). Milagro is her usual cheery self. She got a keyboard and a "pizza party" for Christmas and those two items along with the mini-trampoline have continued to keep her happy.

The kids got gifts last night from P. for 3 kings day and this morning I decided not to give them their gifts until tonight before bed because we had so much going on. The gifts were a big hit--art kits for each of them and a book. We seem to have hit a good balance with the holidays and gifts.

On another note Amy over at My Life is Funny Like That gave me this lovely award.

Thank you Amy I think you totally deserved the award! I think I will pass this along to my dear friend ldw at My Sweet Chaos. I love reading her blog and laughing/crying right along with her!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Thank you for the Love!

I am very honored! LDW over at My Sweet Chaos, Mom in the Trench at This Work Stinks and Mom 4 Kids at The Land of The Loo-Loos all presented me with this award. It is so kind of all of them and if you haven't gotten a chance to check out their blogs please go over there right away! Here are the Happy 101 Blog Award Rules:

List 10 things that make you happy, try to do at least one of them today, and tag 10 bloggers that brighten your day. For those 10 bloggers who get the award, you then link back to my blog and create your list of things that make you happy.  Here is my list of 10:

 1.  C.--my partner, wife, soul mate
 2.  My children having fun
 3.  Reading
 4.  Lazy days
 5.  Quality time with friends
 6.  A clean house
 7.  Solitude, Quiet Time, Alone Time (I will take any of these whenever/ wherever I can get them!)
 8.  Online Shopping
 9.  Good cup of coffee
10.  The beach

So many bloggers out there brighten my days but I am going to try and select a few who have made me smile lately and who haven't gotten this award yet.

Hartley at Hartley's Life with Three Boys
Matryoshka at Our Maine Life

Please go on over and visit them all!

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