Friday, February 29, 2008

I'm a mean, mean mom

Of course, I've been told this more times than I can count in the last 14 months. Strangely, for the 9 years I was a mom before that, I'd never been told that before. Hun.

Any-ho, this morning I got Max up, did our little I-love-you finger rhyme, read him a story and then it was time to get dressed. You may remember that on Wednesday Max managed to get dressed in two minutes (I allot five for that activity). Today, however, even though he slept in his undies and socks (and, thus, didn't even have to take off his pjs), he was still working when the timer went off.

The only this he had left to adorn himself with was his stocking cap. He likes to wear it at breakfast. It was still in his bin (where he keeps the clothes and school stuff for the next day). I said, "Time's up, buddy. Close 'er up and come to breakfast."

Max looks me in the eye, reaches into the bin, pulls out his hat, and puts it on - all while looking me right in the eye.

I calmly went over, took the hat off and put it back in the bin. At this point, it's worth noting that it has been very warm here the last few days. Highs in the 60s. Not to mention that it was crazy hair day today and Max had wanted me to put colored gel in his hair. That would be hard with a hat on. Just saying.

Max starts yelling at me, "You are a mean mom!!!! You are such a mean mom!!!! Why are you so mean to me!?!?!?!"

I set the timer for breakfast and went on about getting his breakfast done and lunch packed.

Max comes to the counter and, not 30 seconds after the yelling, says in a perfectly cheerful voice, "Oh, Mommy, are you going to put hair color in my hair for me?"

"I'd love to, Max, but mean moms don't do that sort of thing."

"mumble, mumble"

I reviewed the day's happenings for him, mentioning that it was crazy hair day. I said, "It's a good thing we did your hair cut last night so you'll have some sort of crazy hair sense mean moms don't put in hair color and it seems that I'm still mean." I was trying to lead him to apologize, after which I'd have put in his hair gel.

He finished up breakfast, got ready to go out the door and then looked at me expectantly. I opened the door and walked out. His little face fell.

"Oh, you were still thinking up until the last minute you were going to get hair color. But you said I was mean and then never even apologized. I guess that means I'm still mean and mean moms don't do nice things like that."

He was pissed. I reached out to straighten his backpack strap and he wrenched violently away from me. Then he started yelling, "I! Well! I won't! Because of you!!!!!!!!"

After a half a block, the pissed wore off and he started crying. He held my hand. I said to him, "It's pretty disappointing, isn't it? You really wanted color in your hair. I'm disappointed, too. I wanted you to have color. Unfortunately, that's not something mean moms do."

Screaming, "Stop saying that! You're not mean! Just stop saying that!"

"Dude, you were the one who brought it up today."

Over the top of me, still screaming, "Just stop talking about it!!!!!!"

The rest of the walk was decent, actually. It's an odd life I lead these days.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Can't Have Two Good Days in a Row

Davan saved Max's bacon last night. Max, it must be said, did quite well yesterday. We had the super smooth morning and good swimming followed by an okay evening. All-in-all, he had a good day. However, he hadn't earned that last sticker to get the black box back with his shoes that he needed for basketball practice. I really wanted him to get it, but he just didn't give me a reason at all.

After dinner, as Davan and I were leaving for her gymnastics class, I said to Max, "Good-bye, Cutie-Pie and I really hope you get that last sticker so you can go to basketball."

Davan spoke up and said, "Max did something really nice for me yesterday. When we were at the homeschool group, some boys were chasing us (Davan and two of her friends) around. They were friends of Max's and he got them to stop. I think he should probably get a sticker for that."

I concurred and Max got his 10th sticker and, thus, had the proper shoes for practice.

Now, after the first 10 stickers, when Max earned the black box in time for his basketball game, I let him know we'd continue with the sticker program. I wrote up a reward list that he could choose from ever 10 stickers. Plus, ever 40 stickers earns a couple of hours out with either Mom or Dad. For 10 stickers, he can choose to get his stuff out of the black box, play with Mom or Dad for a set amount of time - whatever he wants, not have to clean his room for a day, or a chocolate -cherry smoothy for an after school snack.

Apparently, though, these things are not enough incentive unless he's lost all of his shoes because he hasn't bothered to try to earn more. In fact, he was a piece of work this morning. He took right up to the timer to get dressed. He cried because I wouldn't let him get something for show and tell - the rule being that he has to have it ready the night before. He fussed and fussed because I game him tangelo slices for his breakfast fruit. They were actually left over from his snack yesterday afternoon.

Yesterday afternoon, Davan was ravenously hungry after she swam for an hour and forty minutes. She was tearing through food and looking for more. I asked Max if he wanted to eat his tangelos or if he wasn't interested. He said, "I'm going to eat them!" So, Davan didn't get them and she'd have totally eaten them for him.

Thus, he got them this morning. Well, folks, it turns out that he hates tangelos, which is kind of funny as he was very keen to eat them yesterday instead of letting Davan have them.

So, he opted not to eat breakfast rather than have to face tangelos. He heaved big sighs and complained. He glared bitterly at me. He earned an early bedtime for being so grumpy in the morning, because, of course, if you're too tired to be co-operative in the morning, then you're obviously not getting enough sleep.

We left for school and he was pissed off most of the way there. He kicked some rocks out of a yard. We usually kick rocks on the way to school, but the rule is that you can only kick rocks already loose on the sidewalk. No kicking rocks out of yards. So, he had to put them back. We spent five minutes with him glaring at me before he finally did it and we were off to school again. Thanks to skipping breakfast, though, he was not late.

While he was glaring on the side walk, I put on my walkman headphones (I take them for listening to while I do my morning walk after he's dropped off), did some stretches and acted totally unconcerned about him just standing there. It worked for me!

We shall see how the afternoon goes...

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Just an Update

I don't have anything earth-shattering to post about, but if I don't keep it up on a regular basis, I'll find I'm out of the habit and the blog will, again, go to seed.

We ended up having a fairly nice weekend after the Saturday of feeling like I hardly spent any time with Anthony. We did a lot of family time on Sunday. When we have time to spend together and neither of us adults are feeling too much like strangling a child (and, thus, in need of time apart from said child), we do what we call "family rotational fun."

Depending on how much time is available, we each come up with one to three activities for everyone to do together. Sometimes we mandate a time frame for each activity (10-15 minutes, for example). Sometimes we mandate that it has to be an active thing or that at least one of each person's choices has to be active. Everyone writes down their chosen activities on a separate piece of scrap paper. The we put all the papers in a hat and take turns picking out an activity. Then we all do it.

Things people have come up with before include board or card games, sit down dodge ball, sneak across, patoe, hallway bowling, indoor frisbee golf (played with a soft frisbee and a cat scratching post), croquette, a bike ride around the local park, tag, hide and seek and so on and so forth. It's mostly fun. One can't expect two kids and their not perfect parents to totally get along for the hours that it sometimes takes to do family rotational fun.

Monday was the start of a new week with all of it's busyness. I had to take Cinnamon (one of our four cats) into the vet. It turns out he had developed an allergy to fleas. So, we started in with the spring flea regime and Cinnamon also got an antihistamine shot to start the healing.

After the vet, Davan and I ran off to Girl Scouts. Then it was swimming for me, a post Girl Scout play session with a friend for Davan. Davan and I met up back home thanks to said friend's mom dropping her off for me. Then it was back to the pool for Davan's swim session and I had to go get Max from school and back to the swimming pool for his swim session. Whew.

Then there was finally time for lunch and chatting with friends who's kids also take swimming. After Max's swimming, it's off to home for Davan to make dinner (on Mondays and Wednesdays usually). My parents came to eat with us and to watch Davan do gymnastics. Davan went home with them to spend the night.

Tuesday was great. A break from the schedule for some adult time for Anthony and I. We went skiing just the two of us! It was very, very nice. We skied like maniacs and very much enjoyed our time together. Max, of course, was at school and Davan was spending the day with my parents before they brought her back home.

Max, sadly, lost his last pair of tennies when he hung on a door knob to take them off. However, the good news is that he's only one sticker shy of getting the black box back as of this moment. I can probably come up with a way for him to get one before basketball practice tonight. However, his streak of co-operative getting things done in an effort to get his shoes (and other assorted black box items) seems to be easing up greatly.

I was planning on giving him one for having his list done (room tidying, possession patrol, laying out clothes for tomorrow, reading) before dinner, but he's not going to have it done because he got side tracked. So now I have to come up with something else. But what? What that he can do before basketball? He's earned 5 today already. One for being dressed with three (out of five) minutes to spare, one for being 10 minutes early to get out the door to school, one for just having a good and cheerful attitude this morning, one for being co-operative about hurrying out the door after he got home from school, one for waiting well for his turn to swim (although, he did have kids to play with, so this wasn't a great stretch for him, but still), one for getting undressed promptly and cheerfully with clothes right side out when I told him it was time to get ready for swimming.

However, then he dragged about getting into the tub when we got back from swimming. And he didn't get in and do his list like he said he would. If he doesn't have the list done by dinner time (not at all likely), he won't earn a sticker for that. Then his only real hope is to volunteer to do a task for someone else. I might have to prompt him to move in that direction.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Sore Neck, Kind of Grumpy

It happened Wednesday morning. Early enough in the morning to be considered still night. 4:20am to be precise. I woke up just enough to roll over and yawn when, mid yawn, my neck spasms and clenches right on up. I laid there thinking, "Will it pass?" The answer to that one, folks, is no, not so much. My neck is still sore. Wednesday, though was the worst and I know it'll pass, but I'm still not happy about it.

I've been really tired a lot lately. Maybe not so much lately. For quite a while, really. I don't know why I'm so tired. I seem to be tired even when I'm regularly getting enough sleep. Enough for me is about 9 hours.

So, last night, I hit the hay early. Sadly, I didn't even wake up when Anthony came to bed and then he was up before me, so we didn't get in any good weekend morning cuddling, which is sad. All together, I'm feeling a bit grumpy.

I did cuddle with Davan this morning, though, which was nice, but not the same.

Max is having his basketball pictures done this morning. We have a game later, after which he's spending the afternoon with my parents - Oma and Tad-ku to the kids.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Pee, pee everywhere

After last night's incident of Max having to get out of bed to clean up the pee, we had an interesting night.

At about 4:00 this morning, Max started crying. Anthony went to see what was up. Max, apparently, was awake with bad images in his head. Now, Max does tend toward nightmares, but this wasn't a nightmare. He also used to do a lot of crying in the middle of the night because he would be awake and bored. Rather than lay down and go to sleep again, it was more interesting for him to wake everyone else up. He's mostly past that, but the 4am cry this morning seemed more like that than anything else.

Any-who, Anthony gets him calmed down and come back to bed for the half an hour he has left before his alarm goes off.

Then we hear Max get up to go to the bathroom. Max isn't big on middle of the night peeing. Pretty much, when he stopped with the bored night time crying, he also stopped with any night time peeing.

After a bit of bathroom time, Max knocks on our door. "I had an accident in the bathroom!" he announces.

Now, Max is usually quite upset with accidents. He cries and is visibly distraught. His announcement sounded down right proud.

Anthony got up to supervise the clean up. Max's story is that as soon as he felt the need to go, he got up. But, when he got into the bathroom and was standing in front of the toilet, he just started peeing. Without even pulling his pj pants down. He didn't want to just pull out his penis and pee int he toilet because "it might get on the wall" and then he's have to wipe that up, too. So, he just stood there and peed all of his pee. On the floor. Yeah.

Our theory? He realized when Anthony got him up last night that cleaning up pee was something he'd get to be out of bed for. And attention, too! What a deal.

So, we're thinking of an even earlier bed time this evening to make up for lost sleep.

I did manage to find two things to give him stickers for this morning, though. One for finishing getting dressed with a whole minute to spare. The other for being ready, backpack on and everything, a couple of minutes early. Although, I had a hard time giving him the first one, especially, because he'd also been thumping on the floor in the living room even after I'd asked him to stop. Davan was still sleeping or the thumping would not have been a big deal.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Max had a BAD night

Poor Max. He didn't have shoes to wear to basketball practice and he had to miss it. I did, however, start thinking again about rewarding behavior, as Violet suggested in the comments. Here's the thing. Well, the couple of things. One is how good Max is at sabotaging rewards. He tends to not earn them and then complain bitterly that I didn't give them to him.

The other thing, though, is that I'm pretty ambivalent about rewarding good behavior. I think Alfie Cohn has some very persuasive things to say about not rewarding kids. Check out the article titled "Five Reasons to Stop Saying, 'Good Job!'" if you're interested. It gives some incite into his thinking. To really check out what where he's coming from, one of his books is called "Punished by Rewards." Anyway, back to the ambivalence.

The fact is, though, that we do punish Max. Sure, we like to call it consequencing, but that's really just prettying things up. I tell him to go to his room when my blood pressure reaches the level that I'm afraid I'll do something I regret to him. We take toys (temporarily) that he either doesn't put away when he's supposed to or uses inappropriately (hitting someone or throwing the toy at the wall or whatever). We don't take him to fun events if he hasn't done the (granted minimal) chores and homework he is required to do. We are sure to let him know if he does something that annoys us. He gets a talking to.

So, maybe it's better to punish with rewards, or lack of them, than to punish with the above mentioned things. Or, at least, if I'm going to punish him, I might as well reward him, too. I try to avoid don't both with Davan as much as possible. I try hard to parent her unconditionally. I'm not always successful in this venturer, but much more so with Max, who seems to need the control. They like to call it a "structured environment" on the adoption blogs. Honestly, I didn't realize they meant consequences and rewards, but they do. I'd been thinking a time and place to do things - that sort of thing. Just one of those little misunderstandings, I guess.

Anyway, I told Max this morning that we were going to try out a new system. If it seemed to work well, we could keep it up. I let him know that he could earn the black box stuff early via good behavior. To quantify, I let him know that I'd give him a sticker for every time he did something particularly good. The idea here is that he wouldn't get one for mildly dragging his feet, but making it out the door on time in the morning. He would get one for a smooth morning plus an on time (or early) departure. 10 stickers on his sticker sheet = black box.

Then I went out of my way to find things to give him stickers for today. He did earn four. I didn't expect him to earn all 10 in time for basketball practice tonight, but it's looking like he may just get his shoes back in time to go to his game on Saturday. I just have to keep really digging to find those moments....

In addition to the no basketball practice deal, Max had to get out of bed to clean his pee off the toilet and floor. He'd totally sprayed all around, like he wasn't even trying. Anthony found it and got him up to clean it up. He never said anything or even tried to clean it up.

Max spent 10 long minutes crying and wailing and stalling before he finally got the toilet and floor wiped up. Sadly for him, we let him know that for every minute he was up tonight, he'd have to go to bed 5 minutes early tomorrow night. It looks like an early bedtime tomorrow. Again with the punishment. Sigh.

On an exciting and totally different note, Davan came off the gymnastics floor all pumped up and happy this evening. Her coach told her that she's going to test Davan's class for team next month! Davan is ready and very excited. It's only the preliminary test. The girls who make it won't move up until May or June, but the girls who look like they're going to team based on the results of the testing will get to go three days a week to practice. Davan is over the moon about more gym time. Linda has already told me on more than one occasion that Davan will move up this time, so we're kind of counting our chickens before they hatch. Still, it's not much of an emotional risk. Her skills are there.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

I'm so bossy

I got Max up this morning, did an I love you finger rhyme, read to him and then it was time to get dressed. He usually has 5 minutes for this task. All of his clothes are picked out the night before, so it's just a matter of taking off his pjs and putting on said clothes. If he gets in and starts changing quickly, he does it in about 3 minutes and I don't' bother setting the timer. However, if he's dawdling, I do.

This morning, he got started fine, but then was busy standing around, so I set the timer for finishing up. This was the first time I was told I was so bossy.

Then it was breakfast time. I usually set the timer for breakfast, as well. Eat or don't eat, but breakfast is over when the timer goes off. I forgot to set it immediately when he sat down to eat, and didn't think of it until he had five minutes left and was sitting there, not eating at all. When I set the timer, he said, "What? Why are you doing that? I have so much left to eat. Why do you have to boss me all the time?" That makes two times for those keeping track.

Then he goes to wash his hands and plays in the water. And plays in the water. And splashes a bit. And sings a song. "Move on, Max, it's almost time to go." Yes, again a bossy complaint.

He then dries his hands. And stands there, playing with the towel. And sings a song. "Max, move along."

He goes and gets his sandals, moseying along, talking to himself, standing around for a bit, brings the sandals back across the house (rather than just making one trip), sits down and starts fidgeting with the sandals. "Max, we're out the door in one minute."

He starts to try to put them on. "But I'm having trouble with these! Why do you boss me around all the time?!?!!?" Wailing.

We go out the door with him giving a constant stream of whines, grumbles and comments on my bossiness.

It was lovely.

Oh, and why sandals in February? Because he's lost the use (temporarily) of all three of his pairs of tennies. He he's been having trouble with hanging on things while taking his shoes off - door knobs, the handle for the oven (which is bent now), drawer pulls, the end of the table, etc. So, we let him know that was not okay and, if he couldn't take his shoes off without hanging on something while standing up, he needed to sit down to take his shoes off. I also let him know that any shoes that were taken off while hanging would be put in the black box. He lost all three pairs of tennies in two days. Until the black box is opened (a few days), he has sandals and boots. I guess he didn't want to wear his boots today. Of course, the sandals and boots may well go, too and then he'd be down to slippers. I wonder if he'll stop hanging at some point.

Friday, February 15, 2008


We usually ski about once a week in the winter, but we haven't gone in a couple of weeks due to weather/illness. Today, though, Davan and I went skiing today with my parents. We had a really nice time. The weather was great...other than being too warm and thus, the snow was slushy and grabby by 11:30 or so. We left at 1:00 so that we would be home by the time Max got home from school, but we would have left by then anyway, as the snow conditions were to the point that it was not overly fun.

Plus, my parents had had enough skiing by then, as my step dad only skied once last year and my mom has only skied one other time in the last four years. Four years ago my mom did a number on her knee while skiing and had to have surgery. It is great that she is getting out there after that at all.

Max, though, had a rough morning. Lots of crying and fussing. He ended up having to go out the door with only one shoe tied because he delayed so much. He cried most of the way to school, even after I tied his shoe for him. Ah well. Can't win them all.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Normal; Normal Plus!

I was reading over what I just posted and I thought, "I bet a lot of people would read that and say, 'Oh, that's normal for a six year old.'"

Here's the thing, though, with adopted kids with a troubled background, normal behaviors are taken to an extreme. Yeah, being defiant is normal. But, other parents are meaning every now and then - a few times a week of on-going defiant behavior. I mean hours at a time. Some times most of the day for months - although that was more common in the beginning than it is now. Now it's hours at a time for a few days and then we'll usually have a good one. And it's only hours at a time, rather than all day.

And Max isn't just defiant. He's also aggressive. He's also rude. He's also trying to piss us off (he admits to this).

I see the difference in him between a day that he's just being a kid and and day where he's being pissed off kid plus. Yes, we still sometimes get defiance, sometimes there's misbehavior (kicking a ball where he shouldn't or whatever), but it's not the same. I can totally handle normal kid days.

Mantra: some days are good, some days are good

I'm having a not fun day with Max today. Yesterday wasn't a bowl of cherries, either, but better than today.

Today Max is....well, I don't know. Some days he just seems pissed off. Which, considering his life to date, I can understand, but I still would rather it didn't happen. I don't like his behavior on pissed off days. Sometimes the pissed off days stretch into a week or more and that really sucks.

Right now he's in the bathroom, screaming loudly enough to be more piercing than the music that's playing. (Putumayo Kids - we really like them) And that's about the most mild thing today so far.

The kids both had swimming this afternoon - back to back. Max spent Davan's time swimming torturing me. Blocking the stairs with his body and toys so it was difficult for people to get by. Passive aggressively moving them an inch when I asked him to clear the steps. Asking me over and over for grapes when he had is own right in front of him. On and on. Spreading his clothes out over three bleachers. Not finishing undressing (stood there with one sock on for 5 minutes) until he was late to class. Yeah. On and on - every little minute.

Some days are good. Some days are good. And there hasn't been any hitting. Some days are good. Some days are good.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


One of the biggest symptoms of Max's distress about moving in here and his worries about permanence was violence. Max had been living with us for about two months when he started hitting me. Now I want to be clear that all was not peaches and cream up until then. We did not have a honeymoon. This was simply an escalation.

Max first started hitting when I was physically trying to do something he didn't want me to do - removing him from a store when he was having a tantrum, for example. But, once the floodgates were open, he started to be more overtly violent in other ways.

Before the hitting, Max would be physically aggressive by invading my personal space in a very angry/provoking manor. He'd scowl, set his shoulders and then lean on me, quite literally. He would stand in the hall, legs spread and hands on hips to block my path. He'd yank on my arm when holding hands.

The more overt violence included kicking me repeatedly one time when I was sitting with my back to a door in the room we were both in for time out. It was hard shoves and pinching.

One of the worst times was him flying at me in a rage and pummeling every square inch he could reach while I tried to collect up an item and then just leave the room.

Another bad time was when he attacked me with his basketball trophy, managing to break it on me before I stopped him. He'd hit the wall with the trophy and I was trying to take it away to put in the black box (where things can be retrieved after a week or so).

Some of the worst offenses, though, were under the guise of affection. He was mad when I was saying goodbye to him for the day at school. He turned to "hug" me, but instead whacked me in the side with his arm. The next morning, he ran to me, supposedly to hug me, but then just strong armed me in the stomach instead. These were awful to me because it's just so wrong to offer hurt instead of affection. And those were planned out, rather than loosing control in a rage.

I am happy to say that it's been months sense the last time Max has physically attacked me. He still will sometimes do the leaning trick or the blocking of the way deal. But, it's less and less.

I hated being his punching bag. It made me feel like I was staying, voluntarily, in an abusive relationship, even though it was rare that Max was effective in hurting me. It made me worry about Davan's safety. If his violence had been directed at Davan in the same way it was at me, he wouldn't have been able to stay in our family. I harbored bad feelings toward Max for a long time, even when the hitting had ebbed. Those bad feelings, in addition to his day to day on going behaviors and his and my personality conflicts, led us to consider disrupting.

I felt like a failure for considering it. However, I sometimes wondered if Max would be better off with a different family - perhaps a family that would appreciate his personality more. Perhaps a family with more patience. I admit to loosing mine. He was so effective at pushing my buttons that I sometimes reacted violently to him. I was worried about myself and what I might do.

I yelled a lot. I picked him up by his shirt front in anger. I shoved him down a couple of times. At one point, we'd started trying to restrain him when he was getting violent, but I found myself being too aggressive and had to stop doing that. Plus, Max seemed to enjoy those physical conflicts and escalate things to try to get there.

In the midst of all of this, I hated Max. I really hated him. I hated him for his treatment of me. I hated him for the changes he'd brought to the family. I hated him for my reactions to him. And, thus, disruption loomed large.

We kept chugging along, though. Now I'm glad we did. I'm glad because Max needed to get through all of that and get to stay, still. I'm glad because Davan learned that you don't just throw people away. I'm glad because I don't have to live with the huge guilt I'd have had. I'm glad because I love Max and some days even am starting to like him.

My family is okay. I had my doubts about us getting to the point where I'd feel that, but we have. It's still not what I dreamed of (I was really hoping school wouldn't be part of the picture), but it is was it is and it's okay. I'm not unhappy. Maybe that's the Prozac talking, but I'll let it talk for a while and see if I can't get past the pent up bad feelings from the first traumatic year. Then we'll see about facing life undrugged. Hopefully, I'll still feel okay. I think I will.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Weekend Moves on Anyway

So, we, indeed, did not go to Max's basketball game Saturday morning. After breakfast on Saturday, though, Max said, "So, when is my game? If I get my chores done..."

Yeah. We'd been really clear that everything needed to be done before bedtime on Friday. Not to mention that by then the game was more than half over.

Max did finally get his stuff done and was able to move on with fun stuff. He called to invite a friend over for the afternoon, but his friend was busy. So, he played video games. And he got to join in on family movie night. And we all went to the park to test out our new Aerobee boomerang that I got for a couple bucks on clearance from Target.

Anthony is working on our shower, which means our bathroom is a mess and I'm brushing my teeth in the kitchen for a while.

I spent yesterday afternoon running errands while Davan had her first playdate with a friend from gymnastics.

This morning found us sleeping in and then going out to breakfast with my parents. The kids are switching things up this afternoon with Max having a playdate while Davan is just hanging out at home. She won't be playing video games, though. That's really not her thing.

Hopefully the basketball game happens next week.


I wrote all that on Sunday and then didn't post. Ah well. Now it's Monday and the weekend if over, having gone by too fast. I wasn't ready for Anthony to go back to work today. I wanted another day to wake up slowly, snuggling.

Not that today was a bad day. Mondays are busy, but good. I'm enjoying my swimming.

Davan's Girl Scout troop had their Valentine's Day party today. Davan made these great elephant Valentines pretty much all by herself. She even made them for the various adults who stay at the meetings.

However, she didn't make one for a girl who almost never comes to meetings. So, there was a snatch back from one of the moms (a friend) and a quick make over of the card. Luckily, she'd written in pencil.

Max chose to make these Valentines. Of course, at his age, that means that he and I made them together. We did it Sunday because his teacher asked for them all to be at school by the 12th. The only thing I can figure is that she wants to have a buffer for those who forget. Max took his in today, but apparently, he's the only one who's delivered so far. It'll be interesting to hear if everyone produces tomorrow.

Meanwhile, though, Max and I had an excellent day today as far as our interactions go. He even offered to help with dinner when he saw I was rushed to get it done. We laughed together at dinner, particularly, and I don't think we really had a negative interaction today. Who-hoo! Now to just not expect that all the time....

Friday, February 08, 2008

No Basketball Tomorrow

Max decided to test the "if you don't have your chores and homework done by the time you go to bed Friday night, there will be no basketball game on Saturday" rule. We announced this rule after the last minute rush out of the house and letting things slide last week.

Max, fully aware of this rule, chose not to clean his room (about a 2 minute job), do possession patrol (another couple of minute job), take the blue bin he keeps his school stuff in to his room (yeah, that's about 30 seconds) and do his reading homework and whatever other reading he likes to make a total of 20 minutes of reading.

This choice also meant that he didn't get to play video games today. It also meant that he didn't get to join in when the rest of the family played games after dinner.

It was definitely a test. Probably because we let it slip last week (we let him go to his game even though he wasn't totally done with the windows), he felt the need to see if we really mean what we say.

On the up side, it is a 9:10am game tomorrow. Not going means I can sleep in a bit and shower at my leisure.

I wonder if he'll get in and get stuff done tomorrow or if, come Sunday, he won't be able to go play at his friend's house as is currently planned. We shall see.

Also the up side, I did not let his bad mood effect my mood. I still had a good day. I didn't get mad. I still gave him hugs and told him I loved him at bed time.


Max has been affectionate from the first day we knew him. That isn't, actually a good sign in kids with attachment issues. It means they aren't discriminating when it comes to bestowing affection.

Max, though, as willing as he was to wrestle, snuggle, hug, be carried, hated to watch people kiss on TV/in movies and hated to hear about kissing in books. He'd groan and cover his face. He'd turn away and be very theatrical.

It got to be a joke. "Look away, Max! They're going to kiss!" At first, he heeded these warnings. He looked away. He hid his eyes. He covered his ears.

Lately, though, I've noticed he doesn't. He looks at us like we're kind of crazy and then looks back at the show. Hmmm. It's interesting.

Lovely Day - so there was crying, of course

Davan and I had a lovely day today. I took her to open gym at her gymnastics center. In the past, that hasn't always been the most fun thing ever. She started asking me to spot her and give her coaching at open gym. Yeah. That turned ugly. She would become defensive and get mad that she wasn't perfecting her skill fast enough. I told her I'd have to stop coaching or we'd have to stop going to open gym. But...she'd give me a pleading look and my one comment would turn into more. Or I'd refuse to say anything and then she'd start crying because I "disapproved" - pure fabrication on her part.

So, I finally really laid down the law about it and she has responded beautifully. We've had two really good open gyms sense we last talked about it.

Anyway, we then went off to do some errands before meeting my parents for lunch at the Paradox Cafe, which is totally yummy. We lingered for nearly two hours, chatting and eating. Then, after a quick stop at Trader Joe's, we came home just a few minutes before Max. Whew.

Then Max, though, had a good after school cry. It'd been a week sense his last one. Basically, the after school cry is some sort of cry with the flimsiest of reasons. He tried and tried to escalate it into some sort of conflict with me, but I just refused to engage. Then it passed. Yay me.

He's still having a bit of edgy behavior this afternoon, but yeah. He's been pretty decent to be around all week. So, really, I can handle a little edgy this afternoon. It is Friday. A whole week of school does seem to stress him out, even though he loves school.

Thursday, February 07, 2008


Food has been a major issue for Max sense arriving on the scene. It's lessening quite a lot now, as he's gotten used to eating what we have. However, he'd still be happy to live on french fries, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, Kraft macaroni and cheese and cookies and to never, ever see a fruit or veggie again in his life.

Max's foster family did not eat fruit and veggies beyond a little bit of corn or canned green beans in casseroles. They ate a lot of processed foods - crackers and cheese packets, Kraft, canned foods, instant sugary oatmeal. The only fruit he ate when he moved in was bananas.

We try to eat lots of fruits and veggies, beans, whole grains, raw nuts - that sort of thing. We do stray and we do enjoy having junk food from time to time, but most meals are drawn from those food items. And we believe that fruits and veggies are the most important part of one's diet.

That was quite a change for him. Huge. He is fine with whole grains. He does like beans - out of a can, that is. If I make a bean dish myself, he's pretty darn not excited. The main things, though, was we seriously expected him to eat fruits and veggies. Wow. It was a shock.

He now eats grapes, apples, orange type fruits (we usually eat Clementines or such) and some melon in addition to his bananas. He also eats steamed green beans, carrots (both cooked and raw), corn, peas, broccoli, a little bit of cabbage, a little bit of lettuce and a little bit of other veggies. And he loves raw nuts. Of course, anything is better than fruits and veggies.

Max loves it when we eat out and he can eat whatever junk he wants. He loves it when I open a can of beans for dinner rather than making them in the crockpot. And yet. He tells me I'm the best cook ever. Sweet? Yes. But does it ring true? Well, not so much.

Lately I've noticed that his talk is coming around. He says things that are along the party lines - "We don't like McDonald's, right?" "You're the best cook ever, Mommy!" "I'd choose apples over cupcakes!" - but he doesn't actually choose those things if he doesn't have to. I still give him credit, though. "You sure are talking the talk, Max."

And the whole cupcake vs apples thing? Well, it depends on the situation. I do choose apples over cupcakes on a day to day basis, but put a cupcake and some apple slices in front of me and I'm betting I'd eat them both. LOL

My Sick Day

The mild cold I had last week escalated into a not so mild cold this week. Yesterday was probably my worst day. I'm better, although not well, today.

I still had to get Max up and off to school yesterday. When I came home, though, and got Davan up, she was the sweetest kid ever. She told me that sense I wasn't feeling well, I should just go back to bed and she would take care of chores. And she did. She cleaned both bathrooms (hers and Max's was her chore - mine and Anthony's was mine). She made smoothies and brought mine to me in bed. She brought me tea. I had the sort of sick morning that I've dreamed of ever sense she was born. It was my best sick day in a really long time.

Of course, I did have to drag myself out of bed to shower and get together snacks before Max got home (early release day) so I could take the kids to swim lessons.

I laid back down when we got home, after getting Max into the bath. Post bath, Max came and read to me. He's supposed to read for 20 minutes a day, but up until this month, we've counted time that we read to him. He's a strong reader, though, and we want him to practice his skills - plus, that's what the school has in mind. We still read to him, but he has to do his 20 minutes himself, as well.

He started on a Little Bill book last night, which he thought at first that he wasn't going to be able to read. He did really well with it, though. He only needed help with one or two words per page.

After dinner of leftovers, which I'd planned anyway, but was good for being sick, as I didn't have to cook, I took Davan to gymnastics. 2 hours of sitting on a metal chair. Yay. Actually, I usually really like going to gymnastics. I like to watch Davan, but also the more advanced girls. And, for that matter, it's fun to watch the beginners flop around, too. Anthony would have taken her, but both kids had sports last night, so it wasn't like I was going to get to just lay about if I didn't take her. Max had basketball practice.

I've promised to take Davan to the Children's Museum today - I can just sit around and read, which isn't as good as laying in bed, but I'm not as sick as I was yesterday either - and I'd better get us on the road.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Let's Trade

I called my mom up today to ask her if she and my step dad would like to move in here for a week while Anthony and I go live at their place. She said no. Can you believe it? I mean, really. It's just a week. We'd move back after that. Probably. Mom just says that I'll have my turn to be the grandma sometime. Hmpf.

We've had some heavy duty pre-teen hormonal angst going on around here. As just an example, we have this morning. I go in to wake her up at 8:30 by crawling into bed with her, singing a song about loving her, then read to her for about a half an hour. Then we talk about our day and I let her know what's coming.

Today that included Girl Scouts, spending time with a few of her friends, swimming, making dinner and going to gymnastics. These are all things she loves. However, after I tell her about the day, she's pouting. Why? Turns out she's mad because she's going to have to wait for Max to finish his swim class - about 20 minutes after she's done with her shower. Usually, there are friends about, but even so, it's 20 minutes. It's not like she doesn't enjoy reading and such.

I chastised her about it not too harshly, but let her know I didn't think it was okay to pout about such a small part of an otherwise great day. She bursts into tears. "I'm sorry, Mom! I'm sorry, Mom!" she wails. Sheesh.

Then there's Max. Surprisingly enough, he's being pretty darn good around the house today. However, he was not what you'd call a model student at swimming today. That's quite a juxtaposition for him. Still, I don't want him having trouble at swimming, either. Sigh. I must say I'm enjoying his home behavior, though.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Basketball or no basketball, that is the question

Max should have a basketball game today. It starts in just under an hour. Will we be able to go, though? This I don't know.

Max messed up and didn't take proper care of his basketball jersey after the game last week. I discovered it wadded up on the shelf of his closet Thursday afternoon. Now, Max had a hell of a day on Thursday. Usually, an item that is not properly taken care of (when it's time to clean up, -not just any 'ol time) gets put in the black box. The black box is available for emptying every other week.

If I'd put Max's jersey in the box, it would not have been available for his game today. So, I told him that instead of putting in the box, I'd give him an opportunity to earn it. This involved washing some windows - just the inside. He didn't do it and didn't do it and didn't do it. He's now frantically washing windows. Will he make it? I don't know. It'll be close.

I'm letting him slide on quality and I'll slide a little on the deadline for leaving for the game. He's supposed to be there early, but I'd let him go if we can just make it in time for the start of the game. Should I let these things slide? I don't know.

Davan had team photos for gymnastics last night. We made a bit of a fuss over it - she took an afternoon shower, I did her hair, I'd made soup in the crockpot for dinner so that I'd be available to help her prepare and so on.

So, Max says, or rather whines, "When will I get my pictures taken?"

Now, Max has played seasonal sports sense moving in. He's had pictures taken for basketball and soccer so far. We've made a bit of a fuss about them - making sure his hair has been freshly cut, making sure his outfit is ready, etc. He's also had school pictures done twice. Also sense he's moved in, Davan has never had pictures done, other than for our new family photo, which he participated in, as well.

I do understand the feeling of she's special today and I'm not (even if it's not accurate), but I also would like him to be able to see what good things have happened for him. So, I asked him, "Hey, how many times have you had your pictures taken sense you moved in?"




"Sports pictures?"

"Oh, yeah. Once for soccer."

"What about the picture above the stereo in the living room?"

"Picture in the living room?"


"Oh, right! For basketball!"

So, then, again to get him to think about it, I say, "How many times has Davan had her picture taken sense you've lived here?"


I shake my head.

"Three times?"



"Zero, dude."



Friday, February 01, 2008

Sick and Tired, Sick and Grumpy as Heck

Max, when he gets sick, is a lot different than Davan. Davan has always gotten kind of hyper when sick, rather than sleep extra and want to rest and all of that. When Max first moved in, it seemed like he was the same. However, as he's gotten more comfortable and less hyper vigilant, he's showing a new side when sick.

On Max's worst sick days, he's very, very easy to be around. He lays down a lot and even falls asleep. He's pretty quiet. When he must be up, he doesn't have enough energy to be annoying. When we were in Disneyland in December, he really, really wanted to still go to Disneyland, even though he was sick - with a fever, even. So, we let him go. I mean, other than this year for us, thanks to annual passes and a near-by relative, how many times does one get to go to Disneyland in one's life? Anyway, he was able to drag himself around, but didn't have enough energy to be oppositional or attach himself to other groups of people or intentionally misbehave. It was lovely.

However, as he starts to feel better, but not totally well, it's hell on wheels. Major regression. As if to make up for the easy days before. Sigh.

Max is sick this week. Davan and I also have colds, but I'd label them as mild. Neither of us is too miserable and both still managed to swim/do gymnastics/go grocery shopping all without feeling too sorry for ourselves. Max, though, has been a different story. The first part of the week was all about taking voluntary naps. Lovely. Then, starting on Wednesday, but really blowing up on Thursday - major grump.

We had a hell of a day yesterday about chores, cleaning up after one's self, wasting food that others want (a homemade slice of pizza!), being oppositional and generally being annoying all hell.

What was nice about this nasty day, though? Was that it's not our everyday anymore. And it wasn't even as bad as the worst days were before. Days that included him hitting/kicking/pinching me. Days that included having to lock his door to get him to take a time out (never for more than a few minutes). Days that included being defiant about absolutely every little detail (instead of about half of the little details). Days that included locking both Davan and myself in my bedroom to keep everyone safe. Judea (I think if him as Judea when I think if his early days) would try to start a fight every time I'd come out of my room. If I went in my room and didn't lock my door, he just open it up and follow me in. I'd get so freakn' mad that I was in danger of harming him.

Yes. Even with Max sick and grumpy as heck, things are better. It's good to see that. Is it so awful that I wish it were even better?