Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sometimes it's the little things that they remember...

I have this little book by Forbes (Heather) called "100 Daily Parenting Reflections." I have read it many times and each time I do I usually find some "kernel" to chew on and reflect upon. Today I was reading one entry that read as follows:
"The absolute essence of parenting is being able to step outside of your own emotional discomfort in order to meet your child at his level of emotional (dis)comfort."
I was reminded of a conversation I had with the children a few days ago. We were having dinner and "telling stories." This is one of their favorite things and they beg to hear stories of my childhood or my memories of them. I usually try to get them to tell their own stories and memories of one another which for the older kids usually means telling stories about the younger ones. Since we were about to celebrate Pollito and Milagro's birthdays the conversation naturally gravitated to when Milagro was born and when Pollito first came to us. Tortuga told the story of going to the "Baby" store to get gifts for Milagro just before she was born. I had encouraged each of the children to get a gift for her and for C. and we had gone out in the rain to pick out gifts for them.

At the baby store Tortuga, Corazon and Pollito each picked out a onesie with some clever saying and then they asked to pick out a toy for her so we walked over to that aisle. As Tortuga told the story he couldn't remember what he or the other kids had picked out for Milagro but he did remember something much more important to him. He remembered that as the day it "rained really hard on us" and he got his "baby keys." He also recalled "how happy" he felt. He was 8 1/2 years old. I had forgotten that I had allowed each of them to pick out a baby toy for themselves. I recalled curbing my impulse to say "no" because they were too old for those toys and deciding to let them pick something out. They were all so excited to pick out baby toys for themselves and they spent a long time making the decision. Ultimately two kids settled on those "baby keys" and the other chose a rattle. They still have those toys in their dressers in the top shelf where they keep other "special" things. None of them came to us as babies so they didn't come with baby toys so this is all they have.  I am so happy that I let them choose these toys and got over my own embarrassment at the checkout when each of them pointed out to the cashier which toys were for their baby sister and which ones were for them. I do remember her quizzical expression but I had forgotten how special these things were for them.

Tortuga's retelling got me thinking about the ways in which I have, and have not, been able to step outside my own "emotional discomfort" to meet them exactly where they are emotionally even if it doesn't match who they are physically, chronologically or even cognitively. Corazon went through a phase when she was about 6 years old in which she would "show me" everything she could do--walk, crawl, roll a ball, eat with a fork--and at first I was puzzled and even annoyed by this until I read somewhere that this was sometimes part of how a child behaves when they are starting to "feel" the connection to a caregiver. In some cases they re-live some of those critical milestones that they (we) have missed out on. I learned my lesson. When Pollito started doing this I had learned my lesson and tried to respond with the glee and excitement that I would with Milagro.

I also started trying to be more mindful of things they had missed out on that could help us build emotional security and maybe fill in some gaps. When each of our children came we got them three "bed toys." Each one got a stuffed animal of a cat (we have cats) and another animal. They also each got one of those baby blanket toys with a stuffed animal head at the corner (sounds weird but I think people know what I mean.) We also started working on their lifebooks and collected pictures and stories from foster parents and social workers. Over time I realized the importance of collecting mementos for them that might have greater meaning as they got older. This included pictures of them in the outfits they wore when we first met them, their first drawings,  a lock of hair from first haircuts and first tooth lost while living with us, etc. Over time I have added "baby items" that they have expressed a desire to have or that I hoped would help them connect to that part of themselves.

When Milagro was born, Pollito asked if he had a "baby blanket" so I gave him two receiving blankets with ducks on them that he loves to this day. Soon afterward, Corazon asked for a baby blanket for her doll so I gave her two and they quickly became blankets for her "bed toys." She still keeps them on her bed. Tortuga decided he also needed blankets for his "bed toys" so I gave him two and one has been reduced to shreds because he slept with it on his face every night and used it for all kinds of other things. The other one "accidently" makes it on every trip we take. We are now at a stage where the two boys use "baby wash" and "baby shampoo" when they shower because they claim to like the smell of it. All of them have had baby mobiles hanging in their rooms even though we bought them based onthemes of interest (moon and stars or fish) and not because we thought they needed the mobiles. When we took Milagro's hand and foot prints for her baby book I bought card stock and took the older kids handprints which we framed and labelled. All of the younger kids have had "footed" pjs at one time or another. These now hang in their rooms. Tortuga noticed that he didn't have any and after my initial response of "you are too big for them" I went on a serious hunt for footed pjs in a size 12/14. (I found them and he loved them!)

I have tried to remain open to "noticing" when baby or toddler things catch their attention and whenever possible have tried to support their desire to have or participate in play related to this. I think all of these things have helped foster attachment and emotional security. This summer we travelled with Milagro's current favorite blanket which C.'s mother made for her when she was born and we were talking with her about how much Milagro loves that blanket. She mentioned that she had thought about making them for the other kids but thought they were too old. A little lightbulb went off in both C's and my head at the same time and we simultaneously exclaimed "No! They aren't!" We laughed and now she is going to make "baby blankets" for each of them as a Christmas gift.

Friday, August 20, 2010


We got home about a week ago and have been settling into a routine as we prepare for a new homeschooling year. I have been vigilant as I watch the kids for signs of trouble since these transitions are usually the worst for them. Milagro is happy to be home. She walks around talking about all the things she missed and recounting tales from our time away. She misses a few things from Boston and still goes on and on about Monticello, the Liberty Bell and the Statue of Liberty. In fact, a book about each of these is on her birthday list which is coming up this weekend. Pollito seems happiest to be home. He goes back and forth between giddy-ness and goofy-ness but mostly he is just happy to be here. Corazon is more subdued but so far has settled into her usual routines and is actually anxious and happy to be doing her morning writing prompts. (Her blog should see some post soon I think.) Tortuga is also subdued. We haven't seen any of his "old" behaviors but I think there are a couple of storms brewing.

Last year it was after this trip that things got really bad with Tortuga and we made some pretty drastic changes which I first wrote about here. We have been anxious about what might happen but have optimistically been giving him more "privileges" as "tests." To many of you these won't seem like privileges but based on what we have been doing to try and help him (and the rest of us) they are things Tortuga has had to show he is ready to do. One of these is that he now has almost all of his meals with the family. In the week we have been home he has only had one meal away from us. This is huge! Mealtime is a high-stress time for him because he has to negotiate a wide range of feelings and competing interests including what we call "hating-on" Pollito and Corazon combined with competing with them for Milagro's, C.'s, and my attention. He also has to manage appropriate table manners, eating behaviors, inappropriate talking, (not)making faces, impatience, jealousy (comparing portions of food with other kids) frustration, and that is before any topic of discussion comes up. So far he is managing pretty well except for trying to dominate and/or be involved in everyone's conversation. We have also given him more "unsupervised" but structured time playing with Milagro and Corazon (He cannot handle doing this with Pollito yet because they are reduced to warring pre-schoolers in pretty negative ways.) So far that works for about 30-45 minutes before he starts to escalate and needs to go back to "quiet" activities. He has also picked up most of his old chores again (we had removed them when he decided to not be in the family last year) and for the most part that is going well. He asks to do chores and seems disappointed when I turn down his requests.

Yet, I do think we have a couple of big storms brewing.  The first is over the fact that we did not see his mother while we were in Massachusetts. To say we tried would be an understatement. I made over 25 phone call and did speak with her and set up meetings numerous times. She didn't show up but since this has often been a pattern we didn't tell him we were supposed to meet her and just played off being at the designated meeting spots for some other reasons. Eventually we did have to tell him she wasn't showing and that she was no longer answering her phone/returning phone calls. He has seemed okay with it but I don't think he really can be.

One very sweet thing that happened that might be mediating this happened right before we headed home to Texas.  We had scheduled another visit with Corazon's mother because her brother, sister, niece, nephew and grandmother hadn't made it to the previous visit. This time I left the other kids with a sitter. At the end of the visit with Corazon's mother in which we made plans for her to visit us in the Spring, she asked about the other kids interests so she could get them "a little something." She is always concerned about Tortuga and feels very bad about what she knows of his circumstances so she once again expressed her sadness about his not seeing his mother. She asked me to relay a message to him if I thought it was appropriate. She told me to tell him she would be happy to be his "birth mom substitute" if he wanted. She offered to talk with him about why she thought his mother might be conflicted about seeing him and offered to be his "punching bag" (her words) if he just needed to get mad at her. I thought about it and decided to share this with him. He was genuinely touched and actually thrilled. He wanted to call her right away and so we did. She was wonderful! She told him he could plan on visiting her next summer (whether or not he saw his mother) and told him a few things about why she thought his mother couldn't make visits. She also encouraged him to let her (Corazon's

The second storm that is brewing is that he is testing and trying new behaviors on "for size." He has made a few choices that were inappropriate and a couple that were unsafe. I think he is trying to see if all the "old" expectations still apply and probably his awareness of his new "privileges" around here are fueling this. A couple of his new behaviors have been "nipped" quickly but a couple of others might be linked to budding adolescence. Speaking of which I think we are reaching the onset of puberty with him. In the past week I have had more conversations about penises and body changes in boys that I had the entire time I was counselling middle schoolers over a decade ago! I think I am actually getting pretty good at this. :-)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Because you asked...

I think I have a couple of posts brewing sparked by some of the questions raised in the comments on my last post. Right now I want to answer a few of the questions that I think I have ready answers to. GB's mom asked if I was going back to work. I think the short answer is not in the near future. I have mixed feelings about that because I miss working, having work colleagues, planning my courses, and adult conversations (in real life ones that is :-)) The plan was for me to stay home for a year. I have now been home for two and most of the time I like it. The "work" feels so much more meaningful in many ways and certainly I think the kids benefit from it. As an educator I see the academic and social progress my oldest have made since they stopped attending regular school with the pressures that they aren't able to manage and I know it is the best choice for them. It satisfies some of my need for course planning, too! So most of the time, I am happy being home and homeschooling and therapeutic parenting.

Lynn asked something that I have been thinking an awful lot about. She said "don't you think the "cycle" of parenting for anyone is that you start out totally dedicated to your child(your life goes onto the back burner) and as they grow and become more independent then you slowly get to return to your relationship time?" I think there is much truth to what she says. This was especially true for us because we got three kids in 8 months (in 2007) so our lives centered around the needs of a new high special needs kid (who wanted to kill us!), a toddler who didn't speak, a newborn plus our daughter with RAD who had to do a whole lot of adjusting in a pretty short time frame. The whirlwind of all that activity and transition and getting to know their needs certainly dominated my life. However I was still working full-time so I still felt the "split" loyalties and responsibilities. In a funny way what helped is that C. and I also got married in the middle of all that and we joked about our "shotgun wedding" (she was 8 months pregnant) and "newlywed" status in the midst of all of the happenings. There wasn't much dedicated time for our "relationship" but we viewed it as "stolen moments" and focused on keeping our communication as clear as possible (essential for our triangulating kids) and it worked. There are times we think they are becoming more independent and we may have more time for ourselves but then they surprise us and don't seem to be ready for that independence. Somehow we foresee needing a babysitter for our son even when he turns 16-17 so we have to find another way to make time for our relationship. I think this is where babysitters come in but our kids have only recently been ready for that. (The two oldest rarely make up stories to get us in trouble anymore so we have a little bit more trust that we won't come home to social services/police investigations which has been a significant fear for a long time but especially since our move to a new state.) I guess in theory, I do hope it is true that they will become more independent and we can go back to the things that are for just us (together and individually) at some point but for now it seems far on the horizon so we work to make it happen now as much as we can.

Bryna is still struggling to fall into a routine with her foster son. We can certainly relate to that especially when we first got Corazon (pre-RAD diagnosis) because each day was like a huge surprise in terms of behavior, attitude, needs, railroading efforts, etc. We created a routine that served our realities (schedule and priorities) and her needs (schedule, safety, physical, emotional, etc.) and moved from there. C. was less comfortable being alone with Corazon for long periods of time and she certainly was most dysregulated when I wasn't around and once I was around she raged and raged and raged. Even now, we have certain things we won't do unless the other parent will be around so it means having to postpone doling out consequences and/or privileges because we understand enough of what might happen and what support looks like for us.The key for us is to keep talking with each other about our fears and concerns and needs and not let the parenting stressors take its toll on our relationship.

Bryna also asked about finding babysitters and preparing babysitters.  I don't know how helpful I can be because we have only recently started using babysitters that weren't very close to us and who knew (really knew) what we were up against especially with Corazon. Recently we have hired two different young women to babysit and they both work for us but are quite different. One of them really doesn't "like" kids very much and that works for us with the two oldest because they do worst when the sitter tries to engage and interact with them. The other LOVES our two little ones and enjoys keeping up with them so we can have her babysit those two and ONE of the older ones by giving her clear direction on what to do with each of them. I think we found that what works best is to give sitters very specific guidelines about what the kids are expected to do and have no wiggle room otherwise. It helps our kids feel safe. For example, we would say "While we are gone Corazon may only be in this space, she has all the activities she can do right here so she doesn't need to go to any other part of the house. If she tries to suggest it is time for bed." In our case several of our kids can never be in the same space together for safety reasons so we tell sitters that and require direct supervision if something necessitate their being in the same space (meals, for example.) We will sometimes vary our routine so that the kids feel safest. For example, we might postpone bedtime if it will raise anxiety and allow in bed reading time until we come home of they fall asleep. Or vice versa. We might declare early bedtime and move up dinner schedule, reading time, bath, etc. I think consistency is key for any child with special needs and we don't try to leave too many rules as "rules" but as "needs." That helps our sitters follow our expectations even if they might not agree with them.

Ohchicken, who started all this reflection on our parenting, asked about finding time to be a couple and not feel like we are just co-parents. I think we struggle with this because we have this sense of being a couple as having to do with "alone time" in which just the two of us are doing something together. That's not often possible when the kids needs us right there and then or when one of us has to supervise a raging child while the other gets dinner on the table or keeps the other kids from freaking out. By the time we are done with the day to day we are tired and just need to go to sleep. I think we were friends and colleagues for so long before we had children that we have those connections together so I can still help her with her work and she can support my efforts at homeschooling with insights from those other "lives." That helps. It also helps that we can say to each other what we are missing or needing or worried about even if the other one cannot fix it. We try not to react in anger and frustration and when we do we quickly acknowledge it even if it cannot change at the moment. It helps us keep other dimensions (friendship, colleague) of our relationship alive which helps our relationship as a couple as well. We are getting better about taking the time alone together outside the house by hiring babysitters more often and we find that we may or may not end up talking about the kids when we go out but it is fine either way.  I think what has also helped us is that we view our time with our kids as part of OUR time and relationship as well. I don't know if that makes sense but for us spending time "with the family" can also feel like time for us because the kids are happiest, and have fewer issues and meltdowns when we are all together than when left to their own devices. Plus it helps that in TX there are restaurants with attached playgrounds which has made it easier to all go out to dinner and know that we have a half hour of time to chat while the kids are engaged and safe. We can still supervise but use that time to talk, dream and reconnect. I think we try to create as many "moments" like that throughout our days to get us to the times when we can actually spend more substantive time alone together and for us that works. Of course, we always want more time together, we get frustrated when we can't find it and we miss not having that but when it comes down to it we wouldn't trade what we have for anything in the world. We feel so very blessed to have what we have and we try to show our gratitude for that every chance we have.

I am not trying to paint a rosy picture because it's way more complicated than that but I guess I would say that we are very much in love and in like with one another and we seem to have a philosophy that allows us to live as fully as we can in the moment and make choices that we won't regret later. Sometimes that means putting kids above everything else and other times it means leaving them in bed or in their rooms longer so that we can have time to check in and be on the same page or at least what page the other dragged us to!

P.S. for Lynn.   Corazon has that lava lamp in her room so I think it must still be in style. :-)

Friday, August 6, 2010

Well orchestrated flying by the seat of our pants...

A while ago Ohchicken asked how C. and I balance parenting and how we make it all work. I am not sure this will answer her question but I thought I'd try to respond just because she asked so nicely... :-)

C. and I generally see eye-to-eye on most of the big things (values, expectations, priorities, etc.) and have a very high regard for the other's perspective on just about anything. We have been professional colleagues, friends and partners for long enough that we trust one another's decisions even if we wouldn't always do it that way ourselves. We don't tend to second guess one another nor do we engage in blame (except self-blame) when we screw up. We each know that we are our own worst critics and tend to be highly reflective in nature so when we screw up we seek each other for support even if we know the other one would never have made that same mistake. Another thing that influences many of our interactions (consciously and not) is that C. could have lost her life a few years ago in a freak accident that turned our world upside down. Ever since then we both have a greater appreciation for the frailty of it all so we try not to waste time on stuff we cannot control or change and thus we work hard to accept each other as we are and trust we do the best we can at any given time especially stress producing times. :-)
I think we have a pretty good system of parenting/household managing. I can get really caught up in the parenting for the kids' specific needs, keeping the older kids regulated, gauging their moods/ability to handle stuff at any given moment, etc. and she infuses more of the "fun" into our daily lives. We seem to see eye-to-eye on most things and where we each have blind spots/gaps the other has a strength.  Generally speaking I am the "final word" on most things but that's because I am home with them, the "therapeutic" parent, and have more patience (or so she says..)   The kids view me as the "final" authority on the day to day but know anything major goes through both of us and if they try to triangulate us (which they have) they don't get very far. It's works probably because we have good communication and make all big decisions together.

People we have met in Texas work pretty hard to "figure us out." Some of it is that we are the only same-sex couple they know with kids and some of it is because we seem to defy most of the stereotypes they might have about lesbians. A few months ago we were chatting with one of our neighbors about our household tasks for the weekend and she started to say "oh, I get it. You are more like the woman and she is more like the man." Ugh. No. We nicely pointed out she shouldn't go down that path and she caught herself pretty quickly. But that brought up what I think gets confusing for folks who see us together and don't automatically "guess" that we are together because we both look pretty "girly"although don't let C. know that I wrote that.

Up until a year and a half ago we were both working full-time and living in Boston. At that time I had most of the running around duties (pick-ups, drop-offs, appts, sports, etc.), cooking, shopping, etc. She and I shared the housework pretty evenly and seemed to have a good balance of joint skills, likes and dislikes. For example, I tend to do most of daily household upkeep but she does vacuuming and cleaning bathrooms. She did grocery shopping and I did the other shopping. I did the bulk of cooking, daily chores (which kids share), and based on work schedules dealt with the bulk of kid "care." At the time she worked a nine-to-five job and I was teaching at the college level so I could juggle my teaching schedule to accommodate our children's needs. That was ideal when Milagro was born because after C.'s parental leave ended I took mine and then was able to take her to work with me while the other kids were in school/daycare. Since I taught masters level students I could schedule my classes in the late afternoon/evenings so for over a year I had one "hell" day (7 a.m. - 10:15 pm) of work but the rest of the week I was flexible enough that I could come and go as needed or work from home. I taught on one other night so when I wasn't there she could be with the kids then. On my long day, I still ran out to do school pickups, dropped all the kids with a friend for 1 hour then C. left work early to manage them for the night. That gave her a sense of their routines, etc. and a little appreciation for the rest of my week. She SWEARS I do the harder job! :-) Overall this worked well for us. I tended to do the morning/getting ready stuff and we split the bedtime stuff (I did baths, homework, etc. while she did stories, tucking in, etc.) When we had to be up in the middle of the night I tended to do the bulk of it because she had the 9-5 job and because I need less sleep and can go back to sleep more easily after multiple interruptions. I should probably say that we were lucky enough that the baby slept through the night from day one!!! Seriously. We woke her to feed/change her and she went right back to sleep. I can count on one hand the number of times I have needed to be up with her at night and every single time it has been due to illness. Before you start hating me I should note that the OTHER 3 kids would wake me up several times each (bathroom, nightmares, drama, sneaking, etc.) so I didn't quite get the break I would have liked. Generally, I tended to do all the "emergency" stuff just because of my more flexible schedule.

When we were moving to Texas we decided that I would stay home for the first year to help kids with transition stuff and then we would reassess and figure out how that was working for all of us. My going from full-time work outside the home to being a stay-at-home mom gave me more time to focus on the kids' needs and on the day-to-day household stuff. However we found that many of the habits we had cultivated around the household stuff still made sense for us (I still hate vacuuming and toilets!) so we haven't really changed much of it except to accommodate schedules and needs. She has a less predictable schedule because she isn't working a 9-5 now. She is a doctoral student and works 2 part time consulting jobs that add up to more than one full time job. She tends to have one day working from home and 4 days with changing schedules. I do the day to day but we split certain things up. For example, last school year Pollito was the only one who didn't homeschool. I would get him up, dressed, fed, and make sure he has everything he needed for school and I did the after-school pickup. She tended to make his lunch, drop him off in the a.m., and go into his classroom whenever we have a question/issue/etc. With Corazon's gym, I did drop offs and she did pickups and meetings at the gym but I do ALL the corresponding with coaches and "fundraising" booster club. We generally take turns doing appointments (e.g. parent conferences or doctor's appointments) depending on schedules or who has the more relevant information. (For example, I ALWAYS do Tortuga's doctor's appointments because I have his history and meds info committed to memory.) I still do the daily household upkeep (she vacuums and does bathrooms). If we need to do work around the house she tends to do much of the physical labor (lifting and carrying) but I tend to do the actual "work" (plumbing, electrical, etc.) although we both enjoy putting things together so that one is dependent on who has time, opportunity or desperately wants the thing put together. :-) Generally she will run errands to places like H*me D*p*t but I have made the lists and have a better sense of the specifics we need. She tends to deal with workmen if we need something done around the house that I can't do although I generally am the one home when they come by. Right now, she makes the money but we both handles the finances.

When she is home she spends as much time with the kids as she can. There are things she does with each one (nightly walks with Milagro), reading to the two older kids, biking with Corazon, basketball with Tortuga, grocery shopping with Pollito and Milagro, reading with Pollito, etc. It's a big deal when one of them can do their "schoolwork" with her at a coffee shop when she has to get away from the house to write/grade papers. Tortuga and Corazon will usually get the privilege of going with her to "work." We try to reserve our weekends for "family" time as much as possible. These days that looks like Saturday morning "family chores" and then "family errands." We try to reserve almost ALL of our errands for Saturdays and sometimes we divide and conquer and other times do them all together depending on what needs to get done. She can usually run important errands that need to happen during the week (post office, bank, dry cleaners, etc.) if we need so that I don't have to take all 4 kids shopping just for milk, bread or whatever. That is the biggest challenge when we really NEED something and I have to take all 4 of them. Saturday afternoons/evenings and Sundays we tend to do stuff as a whole family as much as possible because we both enjoy it.

We try to have a plan of what needs to be done overall and we each are willing to take over the other's role if one of us is too tired, has other work to do, etc. Her line is to not have all 4 kids by herself but she will if she had to. Share professional relationship so we talk over her work stuff pretty often. Finding time for ourselves is hard and that is something we don't do as well as we could/should but we are working on that. We try to have good routines for the kids so that we have time together and we are getting better at going out now that we have found a couple of babysitters who seem to follow our rules. We try to talk about things other than the kids and work but those figure prominently in our lives so we aren't as successful at that. :-)

Do we bump into each other occassionally. Sure, nothing can go that smoothly with four kids and all the special needs ours have! Mostly we try to focus on the stuff that matters and the stuff that brings out the best in each of us because it is what allows us to give our best to our kids and each other. Questions?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What we have been up to...

We have settled into a nice routine in Boston and I can honestly say it has been a really good time. We will start making our way back home sometime this week. We are ready to head home. They are good travellers. Our car trips (the long ones) are generally smooth unless they just aren't. Then they are hellish. Our original plan was to visit friends in CT, NYC, NJ, MD, D.C. and GA on the return trip. Some of that hinges on how long we stop in NJ to see C.'s family and how well the kids do. We probably won't be able to make the D.C. and Maryland stops since C. has a work commitment next week. The kids are starting to show signs of anxiety and sadness about leaving. I don't know what kind of parents actually enjoy seeing their kids be sad but I think some of you will understand when I say I am thrilled to see them be sad about leaving people here. These are new and genuine expressions of connectedness to family and friends here especially from the two oldest and I am cherishing them (not the accompanying behaviors but I can't have everything I want...) We have had some good talks about these new feelings.

We have had some good moments that I haven't had a chance to write about which have me it a special and wonderful summer. We have seen and spent good times with our dearest friends and had genuine quality time with them. It has been very satisfying and thus leaving is more difficult too.We have celebrated two birthdays and if we stay any longer it will be four birthdays! My sister and niece spent their first time on the East Coast with us and we had a wonderful time being "tourists."  We can call ourselves Indigo Girls' "groupies" having now seen them in both Austin and Massachusetts during their current concert tour!

We have also had some bumps. No visit with the boys' mother. I have made many, many attempts to schedule a meeting and we have been stood up. Now her phone is not working. I am sad that we won't make the visit especially because Tortuga will be very disappointed. We had two visits with Corazon's mother who is having a hard time these days but who was very thoughtful especially to Tortuga. (I have been working on a whole post about the visits with Corazon's mother and Tortuga's near rage response to that.) We have seen some slippage in Tortuga's progress over the past several months but the true test will be when we return. He is mouthy and rude to me, questioning all of my decisions, challenging my authority, and refusing to cooperate. Since this has increased with C.'s departure and Corazon's visits with her mother I am thinking it is related to the changes and increased anxiety but we shall see.

Our travels these past few weeks took us to CT, RI, NH, upstate NY, Maine and VT. The high point was getting a chance to visit with The Other Mother and Mama Drama x2!

The kids had "fancy" pizza, played in the water, got pushed on the swings by The Other Mother, and had a grand time as we "closed down the park!" We talked and talked and it was wonderful to be with folks who not only "get it" but who are so gracious and wonderful to be with. As I said to Mama Drama sometimes it is often her blog that brings a smile to my face on those days where I wonder if I can keep going without losing my sanity! As much as I love her blog it was even better meeting in person. There's nothing like the feeling of being with people who don't miss a beat as you navigate the tricky waters of traumatized kids having too much fun while feeling unsupervised. The kids held it together nicely except for Tortuga who melted down almost immediately after we got in the car after saying goodbye to these wonderful women! Corazon was over the top having met one of her blog readers "Mama Drama" which I believe is the only name she remembers and getting some wonderful book recommendations from The Other Mother. She can't remember what I asked her to do 10 minutes ago but she does remember the books she referenced!

We are both looking forward to hosting them on their Fall visit to Texas!!!

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