Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Where did November go?

Every month I have these wonderful intentions to write more so that I can reflect back on what is happening before I forget. Clearly I didn't get to write much this month. It has been busy and hectic and mostly really good. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. My mom and my brother and niece came to town as did C.'s parents so we celebrated the weekend with everyone here. It has been 20 years since I spent a Thanksgiving with all my siblings and my mom so that was pretty special. Generally speaking we get along well so being together was easy and comfortable and our children got along well despite their age ranges (4-16.) My 16 year old niece was wonderful with Milagro and Milagro found a new "best cousin" in her. The weekend was spent eating too much turkey, hanging out, watching football, playing board games and spending time with good friends. Even my mom seemed to mellow out a little more with all of her children together in one place. Of course we took advantage of having company to try out new places around here and we discovered a pretty awesome barbecue place that we went to on our last night together this year.

I am still in awe of how awesome my children are. Milagro is growing by leaps and bounds. About a month and a half ago she decided she really needed to learn to write her name. She is 4 years, 2 months old and doesn't go to any type of school so we haven't pushed her to do much in terms of academics. Within a week she was not only writing her full name but had pinned down the names of her siblings (with a little assistance) and a few important phrases "I love you" and "Please don't leave." She writes all the time (for fun) and she asks to spell everything.  She is also thriving in her new one day a week morning program. She gets to be around kids her age, dance, play and do art activities that she enjoys. Plus she is in love with her teacher. Last night as we reminded her she needed to get to sleep so she could get up in time for class she said "Oh yeah, I love Ms. M. I really care about her!" And that she does.

Pollito continues to make progress in his reading and math. Until a few weeks ago he could not recognize or write his numbers past 15. All of a sudden something has clicked and he is regularly recognizing, counting and writing his numbers to 100. He is also making connections between numbers in one setting and those in another.  Until recently this was something that totally escaped him. He could see the number 22 on the calendar and write it but then when asked to write the number a few minutes later he acted like he had never heard of the number 22. He also seems to be making strides in sounding out words. It is still very difficult for him but it is getting better. He still loves books, stories and going to the library and I am optimistic that he will get where he needs to in the near future.

Corazon held it together pretty well all weekend and was an AWESOME helper as we readied the house for guest. She helped set up her room for her grandparents since we had both mine and C.'s parents staying with us and she gladly moved into Milagro's room for the week. She even helped with much of the Thanksgiving meal prep which she usually cannot do because her excitement and anxiety make it impossible to count on her to be truly helpful.  Except for a few small bumps she was absolutely wonderful.

Tortuga did well also. This was our best Thanksgiving yet with him. He took to heart our "thankful tree" activities all month and wrote some heartfelt gratitudes. I had originally planned on throwing the tree away once we done but they are so attached to it I think I will bring it out next year so they have a chance to reflect on what they wrote about this past year.

Tortuga is clearly struggling but more importantly he is working hard to keep it together and not get mad when we redirect him or ask him to use his tools and strategies for calming down. He still struggled with transitions from family time to alone time but all in all he did really well.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What to do...

Tortuga has had a mixed week. Two days of really dysregulated behavior that involved him spending a good deal of time away from us because he just couldn't hold it together. I think it is a combination of more sugar, more "fun times" (Halloween and a block party), and the beginning of his "traumaversary" time (which will go through February). I think there is something else going on that I just don't know how to deal with yet.

We have a decent relationship with his birth mother. By "decent" I mean that we get along very well, we communicate well, we are open about why the boys don't live with her, and I think she trusts us. That said we don't hear from her regularly and her contact information changes often. When we schedule meetings with her she will often not show up without letting us know. She has multiple challenges that complicate her life and her desire to see the boys and we try to respect that. This summer we tried and tried to see her and she wasn't available and then her phone was disconnected.  We told Tortuga that we were trying to see her and he was adamant that he did NOT want to see her. This is a regular part of his process. He misses her, thinks about her, wants to see her, doesn't want to see her, and when we do see her he is anxious to not be there. When we didn't get to see her he seemed relieved and expressed this relief in both verbal and behavioral ways.

Once we returned from MA he asked if I had spoken to her and I mentioned that I still couldn't reach her. He said he didn't want to know if I talked to her unless it was "bad" news. I explained that he could choose to hear or not to hear and I would respect that BUT he couldn't be selective about what he heard because it left too much room for the imagination. We have had episodes of "you didn't tell me you talked to her" when in fact we always tell him. (She does not always wish to speak with him or his brother but she always sends her regards.)  I reminded him that he could choose to hear or not to hear. He chose to hear if we spoke to her and he wasn't sure if he did or didn't want to talk with her. I noted we would cross that bridge when the call came. In the meantime I have tried to find out what is going on. A friend has tried all her last known addresses and I have her former social worker trying to track down whether she has received any services that might allow us to get a message to her. I am concerned about her and hope she is well but I also know this is a typical pattern so I am trying not to be overly worried.

In the meantime, Tortuga is thinking about her and I know it. He will not admit that he is thinking about her which is fine. What isn't fine is that he has a tendency to tell himself "stories" in his head when something is on his mind and reality and fiction blur quickly for him. So this has resulted in his accusations to me that I am keeping him from talking to her and/or withholding information about her because it is "not good." I know this is his fear. I have tried to create room for him to express this and once in a while he does. Right now though, he is just lashing out at us and we have to "talk him down" from that place where he believes the fiction in his head rather than the reality. Any ideas?

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