In some ways, I cannot believe it has been over 2 years since I last wrote here. I still continue to write but as the children have gotten older I have stepped back from writing here for a variety of reasons. I couldn't possible recap here all that has transpired in the past two years. We are doing well overall with some bumps along the road. Tortuga is now 17, Corazon is 16, Pollito is 12 and Milagro is 9! C. and I are getting older and hopefully wiser but sometimes I wonder about that.
We are still living in Texas and hoping to return to the East Coast sometime in the next few years but for now, this is still a better option especially for the children. We still homeschool and they are all still voracious readers and learners although production for school assignments still varies and is a struggle for some of them. Then again, it is for many of us.
Milagro is still amazing. She continues to be a loving, thoughtful, engaging, hard-working, creative and intelligent kid. She still LOVES orcas, anything green, strawberries and blueberries and fully expects to become a marine biologist. She is in 4th grade but reads and comprehends well above grade level. She does magical things with clay so my oven is frequently "busy" baking some new piece that she worked on well past her bedtime. She reads voraciously and right now moves between Pok*m*n graphic novels, Animorphs adventures, and she is finishing up Riordan's "The House of Hades." She is also pretty captivated by Girl Scout Founder, Juliet Gordon Lowe and is on a 2nd book about her. She was on a city swim team these past two summers and just started practicing on a competitive swim team that meets 4X/week. Her goal is to improve all 4 strokes enough to move to a group that has a longer practice and meets 5 days/week. She also became a Girl Scout last year and this year I got roped into becoming her troop leader.
Pollito has made tremendous improvement with his speech and sensory issues. He finished neurological reorganization which made a significant difference in many areas. He is attaching more and more each year and his learning issues severely interfere with his academic progress. When we combine that with his lack of interest in working hard at most things and his ODD then life isn't as much fun for any of us. In the past year and a half or so we believed the trauma bond between him and Tortuga has diminished and we let our guard down. We started letting them spend more time together (mostly supervised) but realized that we had made a huge mistake. Things got very ugly for quite awhile and he got to a point where he was raging daily and destroying his room and anything else he came into contact with when he was mad or frustrated. We have our ups and downs in this area but I am pretty convinced that a large part of the issues is the trauma bond he has with Tortuga. We have a plan in place with him that is mostly working but for almost a year it was shear hell.
Corazon and Tortuga really deserve their own posts. Corazon has made tremendous healing over the years. Her RAD is pretty much gone except for residual pieces that I think have become part of her personality more than anything else. She will still fight for control regardless of whether she is right or not, and despite the fact that the outcome is negative for her. She still has food sneaking issues and her lying ebbs and flows but stays mostly in the range of "normal" teen "stuff." She has developed a greater love for science and was focusing on forensics, cell biology, anatomy, and some chemistry with a local science team she became a part of in 9th grade. She is still a diver and has gone to nationals 3 years in a row although this past year was pretty tough on her because she moved up to the 16-18 age group even though she was still 15. Those divers were much better than she was and she went through a phase of not wanting to dive any more but seems to be back to enjoying it. She also got a part-time job last Spring as a lifeguard at a local Y. She LOVES this a bit too much so her schoolwork falls by the wayside at times. She is taking a couple of AP courses this year and struggling with time management. Most of our run-ins are about school work vs. part-time job. She says she wants to go to a Division 1 school and dive so we are trying to support her with this goal.
Tortuga healed tremendously these past 2 years. Some things, like the ODD, continued but his attachment to me especially is more solid. His aggression and violence continued to diminish but any time he didn't get his way we still dealt with blow ups, rudeness, disrespect and verbal aggression. They were fewer and farther between but still present. He is triggered by his jealousy of Pollito and Corazon on a pretty regular basis. Academically he has been well above grade level for years, especially in reading and writing so he has developed some coping skills for dealing with his learning issues. He and Corazon joined a Science Olympiad team and saw great success. He focused on Astronomy and Physics and for about a year and a half that became his obsession. Last Christmas (which is during his trauma "anniversary") we had the best Christmas ever with him and then things fell apart. It was pretty violent and ugly and ultimately forced our hand about what to do next.
We considered many options and ultimately settled for something that would give him a shot at figuring out next steps for himself and give the rest of us a break for awhile. He was gone for almost 6 months and came back determined to join the military. That was not something we had hoped for but we were willing to support anything that allowed him to move forward so he has been admitted into the branch of his choice and we await his departure to boot camp in the next few months. Since he has been home it has been rough but he completed homeschooling and graduated and he found a part-time job at a fast food place he loves. Between working out at the gym in anticipation of his leaving for boot camp and his part time job, we see less and less of him which helps everyone out. Although the kids mostly tiptoe around him whenever he is around. Our rules are pretty strict with him but we have no expectations that he participate in "family life" and for the most part he likes it that way even though he does say he "misses" it at times. While all this has its own unique twist because of his issues, for the most part it mirrors more typical teen separation. He is 17 1/2 after all.
I have so much more I could write but for now I will stop and maybe pick up again in the near future.