My blogging friends have been experiencing so much heartache lately. My heart goes out to each and every one of you.
I, on the other hand, feel like we have most definitely turned a corner and are in a new(good) place.
Our lives have changed dramatically since last year. Alyssa has worked hard, Jeff & I have worked hard. It has paid off! Alyssa finally feels safe! And, because she feels safe, she is opening up and sharing her feelings. I hesitate to use the word healed, because healing, I believe, is continuous. But I do believe that she is attached to us. She trusts us. That in and of itself is a huge accomplishment!
I also believe that my darling Alyssa will always have "issues". I also believe that because of her history, she is going to be a very strong, compassionate adult. She is going to appreciate her life more and really understand that she is special.
Our daily struggles have shifted from hate filled tantrums and defiance, to "normal" kid sassy issues. Our therapy has also shifted to repairing our relationship, and helping Alyssa realize how her words and actions affect other people.
Paulette gave us a new technique to use for apologies. She called it "The 5 Step Apology"
1. I'm sorry____________(Specifically address the person, ie: Mom or Dad)
2. For: _______________(Must say what she is sorry for)
3. My words or actions made you feel:______________________(she must connect that when she says for example "I hate you!", that it makes us feel unloved)
4. To make it up to you, I will:_______________________(she needs to tell us what she will do to make the apology sincere).
5. Is that acceptable to you? (This last step gives us the opportunity to coach Alyssa in the different magnitude of offenses. For example, an "I hate you!" could be made up for with a hug and a kiss, a broken vase might be made up for with chores, etc.)
This process is to take the place of Jeff & I handing down consequences. It is designed to get Alyssa to understand cause and affect. I am excited about this process. We have already begun using it and Alyssa has already had an "AH HA" moment!
I think I am going to enjoy this new phase in our therapy. I am starting to feel like just a "normal" Mom!
Thursday, October 30, 2008
My blogging friends have been experiencing so much heartache lately. My heart goes out to each and every one of you.
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 8:34 AM
Monday, October 27, 2008
In two weeks, Jeff & I will be attending a parenting conference called "A Place in My Heart". This conference will feature Juli Alvarado . The morning training is focusing on trauma and the afternoon session is attachment.
I have heard great things about Juli, as well as her organization "Coaching for Life". We are really looking forward to this learning opportunity, and since Auntie Tammy is taking Alyssa for the night, it will also give Jeff & I some much needed "couple" time.
Have any of you heard Juli Alvarado speak, or heard of her period?
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 1:43 PM
I can't believe it has been a whole week since I blogged! Time flies when you are having a normal life! Yes, it has been a good week! Alyssa has embraced the "Team Evans" concept and has really been making a concentrated effort to help out. She has cleaned the bathroom (YEAH!!!), kept her room clean, helped with laundry, helped Jeff put new windows in her bedroom, helped with dishes, the list goes on and on. Yesterday after church, she picked up all the hymnals and put them back on the table without even being asked! The ushers were so impressed, they gave her a bag of M&M's!
Saturday, Uncle Bruce and Auntie came to take Alyssa out to lunch. Alyssa was so excited. She told me made her feel very special! Way to go Uncle Bruce & Auntie!!!
Saturday night, Alyssa had her first concert for the Lakeshore Youth Chorale. We were so proud of her and she did GREAT!!!
Yesterday, we went and picked out pumpkins and then went to see "High School Musical 3". Alyssa LOVED it and Mom & Dad loved it too! It was a lot of fun just to see the excitement on Alyssa's face!
My best friend, soon to be sister-in-law, sister of the heart, beloved "Auntie" Tammy, has finally taken my advice and started blogging! I really think it will be good for her. So to all my cyber friends, please go check out Tammy's new blog, "Life Without Siarra" and say hi!
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 8:53 AM
Monday, October 20, 2008
Today is our 2yr anniversary. It was a rough weekend - Alyssa wore her emotions very close to the surface. If you looked at her wrong, she would burst into tears and be all "Why are you yelling at me?"
When Alyssa first joined our family, she was such a lost little girl. And then, once the honeymoon was over, man was she pissed! And guess who took the brunt of her anger? Yup, I did. Even last year, we saw behaviors that were all over the map. But last year they were still coupled with anger. Last year I was still being kicked, hit, pinched, slapped, etc, etc,etc.
Now, just one short year later. We could still tell what the date was. Alyssa has been having a rough couple of weeks. But, I can happily report that we have had no anger! We've seen her slack in school, slack at home, be weepy sad, giddy happy, and everything in between. She has been sassy, stubborn, disrespectful and controlling. BUT we have seen NO ANGER!!!!!
Last night Jeff & I talked about how stressful the weekend was because Alyssa was so touchy and we were on pins and needles. Today, I have been thinking about what I wanted to say in this post and I realized how much progress Alyssa has made.
So I will close this post by saying that the last two years have brought about every emotion under the sun. Our family has been on the brink of despair, only to turn and walk into sunshine. We have grown as a family and I think, really appreciate what it means to be a family. We have changed in the past two years. We went from being in survival mode, to getting to enjoy our daughter. Yea, she still has a way to go. But for today, I am counting my blessings.
God answered my prayer. I asked for a daughter. And boy did I get one! I wouldn't trade her for the world!!!
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 3:45 PM
Friday, October 17, 2008
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 2:21 PM
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The following was written on Brenda's blog. It describes so well what it is like raising a Raddish.
I Choose You
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 1:59 PM
Rick just posted this on his blog!
I felt like I got slapped in the face. Two months to Christmas and I have NO projects started! I've got lots of ideas, just nothing started!
Hobby Lobby, here I come!
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 10:59 AM
I just wanted everyone out in blogging world to know that I do read my comments. All of them. I don't always have the opportunity to comment back, but it is helpful to read the suggestions that are so thoughtfully given, and also really nice to receive the support that is so unselfishly given.
A huge THANK YOU to Lisa! She is such an awesome Mom and a great friend! If you have never checked out her blog, please go say hi and be inspired by her intense dedication to Miss J. Send some good thoughts and prayers her way also, they are going through some scary stuff and could really use the love!
Yesterdays rant about my family was just simply that, a rant. I do not want anyone to think that our family is not strong. It is. Very strong. I love my husband and my daughter and would not trade either one of them! I can complain because they are my family. I have earned the right to complain! Just as they have earned the right to complain about me! Jeff and I are married "Till death do us part" and are committed to making our marriage work. That doesn't mean that I don't get irritated with him, we are living in the real world after all! I also love my daughter very much, and yes, some days she pushes me to the brink of insanity! (I'm teetering there anyway!) But do I ever regret our decision to adopt Alyssa? No Way! Not ever, not for one teeny, tiny second. That beautiful child, who has pushed every button I have and even some that I didn't know existed, has brought so much love, and so much joy to our home! She has made our lives complete and really made our house a home!
So, changes are being made in my home. Jeff and Alyssa have both agreed to distribute the chores evenly. They have both agreed to help with laundry even! So tonight, I will hold a class, Laundry 101, and make sure they both know what they are doing! I really think that they will both make an effort to help me more, because I really think blowing my gasket at Paulette's kinda surprised them! We will see.......
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 9:52 AM
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
To the idiot that left this comment:
You are obviously not married or divorced. Yes, I complain about some of the things that my husband does or doesn't do. I am certain that I do things that drive him over the edge too!
Marriage is hard work! It takes commitment and compromise. My husband is my soul mate! He is my partner in life and the father of my child! How you presume to think he is a whiny, immature slob is beyond me.
So, going forward - no more anonymous comments! If you have something to say, say it! But don't say it behind my back, hiding behind anonymity! Have enough balls to say it to my face!
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 3:59 PM
We saw Paulette last night.
My issues hijacked the session.
I opened my mouth and out poured all my frustration, stress, and yes, I'll say it, anger. Add a ton of hurt feelings in there and you can imagine my mood!
I admit it. I have been feeling used and abused! I am so sick and tired of doing EVERYTHING in my house and I said so last night. I am sick to death of Jeff and Alyssa waltzing through life just dumping crap everywhere and assuming Mom will pick it up. I get no help and I am on the verge of giving up. Jeff does nothing around the house. Alyssa sees his terrible habits and falls in step right next to him! Can I get on her for leaving her stuff lay around when her Dad is setting such a crappy example?
I have allowed things to get too out of hand. Last night I drew the line. I demanded help! I am also demanding respect! I am sick and tired of being the mean Mom or the bitchy wife because I am telling them what to do! No more! Each one of us now have things we are responsible for each day. THEY WILL GET DONE! I am not doing everything, by myself, anymore.
I have made excuses and let things slide because it was just easier to do things myself. I take complete responsibility for that. But no more! We are at a point in our family when it is not just about survival anymore. Alyssa has made so much progress and our main goal is no longer just making it through the day. We are a family, and we are going to start acting like it!
I have some items to purchase to make the new program work smoother. Tonight, I will get everything in order and Wednesday we will have a family meeting and set the wheels in motion. I am getting my life back! I too deserve to have time to do the things that I enjoy doing! I deserve to have time to read a book, or scrapbook, or do a craft. I have not been able to do anything for myself in a really long time! And my husband has the nerve to say "Why do you always have to be a bitch?"
"Uh, sorry honey. You have no idea what a bitch is. BUT YOU WILL"!!!
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 10:19 AM
Monday, October 13, 2008
Well, it's Monday.
The weekend overall was great! Alyssa had a lot of problems on Saturday morning though. She had a bad case of the sillies and when I told her to knuckle down and get serious so that we could go, she blew a gasket. She got really whiny, very disrespectful, and just plain bratty. It took us a long while to get her calm enough to do her sit. She was able to tell us that she was excited about going to the Pumpkin Patch Festival. I don't think that is the whole reason. While improved overall, her behavior was a bit shaky at times. Her biggest problem over the weekend, and my biggest "button" is control. She is 9 years old and thinks she can rule the roost!
We see Paulette tonight! I'm glad. She is really able to get Alyssa to bring things to the surface. One week from today is our 2nd Anniversary. It has to be weighing on Alyssa's mind, but when I tried to talk to her about it, everything is fine! Paulette will be able to bring it out in the open. And then, like always, Alyssa will see that Mom & Dad are strong enough to handle ALL her feelings, and it won't be such an issue anymore.
The verdict is in! This year's Halloween Costume... DA Ta DA.........
Keep this picture in mind, I will post an actual picture of Alyssa in her costume after Halloween!
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 1:15 PM
Friday, October 10, 2008
Did you ever have one of those mornings when you wished you could get back in bed and start over?
I am having one of those days!
Alyssa was not at her finest this morning. She was tired! I knew it, she knew it. I was not at my finest this morning either.
I don't want to relive the play by play. I owe my daughter an apology! Regardless of her behavior this morning, mine was less than exemplary! I will leave you with our final comments as I dropped her off at school.
Alyssa: Well you made me late!
Me: I made you late? You were the one wasting time and putzing around! I did not make you late!
Alyssa: Well thanks for making me feel even better by yelling at me!
Me: You are most welcome! Love You!
You have to understand that while it doesn't look too bad on paper, the tone of voice that this was spoken in, NOT VERY NICE!!!
I hope she can get her mood turned around. I certainly was no help! Otherwise, she will probably flunk her spelling test, and I will have to accept partial blame for that. She knows the words, but her mood will get in the way!
THANK GOD IT'S FRIDAY.....
WEEKEND - HERE I COME!
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 10:14 AM
Thursday, October 9, 2008
I think I need to clarify my last post a little bit.
I want my daughter to be proud of who she is. I want her to be proud of her heritage.
Alyssa's school is very culturally diverse. My daughter has friends that are Asian, Mexican, Hmong, White, and Black. There culture is a part of who they are. But they have names. They are not the white girl, or the Asian girl or the Mexican girl. They are Allison, Natalie and (insert name here).
I want my daughter to be proud of the person she is. I want her to be proud that she is adopted, that she has a beautiful voice, that she is black.
I JUST DON'T WANT IT TO DEFINE HER!
Hope that makes a little more sense!
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 12:00 PM
I have been thinking about this for a while now and have not known how to begin. So I guess I'll just begin. I hope it doesn't turn in to a rant. As you all know, Alyssa is bi-racial. Her bio dad was black and her bio mom is white. We adopted Alyssa knowing this - don't care, she is our daughter. What I don't understand is this. Why do we have to emphasize the fact that she is black. I have had some people lately telling me/asking me that I should teach her about her African heritage. I have had heritage camps suggested to me as well as celebrating Kwanzaa. I have really done a lot of soul searching and keep coming back to WHY??? Alyssa was born in this country! Right here in Wisconsin actually! Whey do we want to stress the fact that she is black? She knows that she is black. BUT and this is the most important point to me, she is part of our family! Do we want to stress the differences? Do we want to force her to celebrate holidays that she has never heard of or listen to African music, etc. just because she is black? Again, I say WHY??? We have talked to Alyssa about this. In her eyes, she is American just like everyone else. Yes her skin is darker than ours, but does that make her different? When we asked her what she thought of going to a heritage camp, she said, "Why, can't we go to a camp that has kids that are adopted?"
In her eyes, the color of her skin doesn't make her different. In her eyes, being adopted makes her different. Does that make sense? I don't want to become one of those fanatical adopted Moms that force her children to participate in "Heritage Awareness Days". It would be completely different if Alyssa would have been adopted from another country. Then I understand it. But just because she is black - NOT, it's just a color!
OK, I'm glad I got that off my chest.
We are going up north this weekend! Jeff and I talked last night and realized that we have gotten so caught up in the day to day stress of dealing with RAD and all that entails, that we have almost forgotten to stop and have fun as a family! So many activities get tied to behavior. IF you have good behavior, IF you get your chores done, IF, IF, IF! So, come Hell or high water, we are going to go up north this weekend and enjoy the fall color. We are going to the Pumpkin Patch Festival, the corn maze, and whatever else we feel like! We told Alyssa that she can invite a friend along, no strings attached! We are going to have fun this weekend, not because Alyssa has been doing good, not because we have accomplished goals, we are going to have fun this weekend just because we are a family and we can!
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 8:49 AM
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
When I got home from work last night, my little poopsie was very apologetic and had made me a flower from Popsicle sticks. It was a very pleasant way to be greeted. We were able to talk about her attitude and she admitted that she thought that going to bed earlier was a good idea. Yes, that's right, Alyssa admitted that she needed more sleep!
Our 2 yr anniversary is coming up on October 20th. I think some of the behavior we have been seeing is because of this. Alyssa has been doing so good, but still has a big problem with sharing her feelings. I see her getting more quiet, and wanting to spend more time in her room. So, tonight, we are having a girls night! We are going to paint our nails, and maybe watch a movie. I am going to nonchalantly mention our anniversary and see if I get any kind of response. I think if I can get her to open up in a casual way, she will be more apt to talk about what she is feeling. Let's hope anyway!
This morning was still full of sass, but it was not disrespectful. Does that make sense? Alyssa was silly and sassy, but in a fun, playful sort of way. She told me that she is going to work very hard to improve her respectfulness. This was one of the traits that Paulette gave her to work on two sessions ago, and she is having some problems improving on this! So, we haven't gotten new ones yet. Still working on trust and respect. Alyssa says she is determined to improve so that she can get new traits next time.
I almost forgot to tell you! Last Friday, I had to bar tend. Alyssa was invited over to her friends house for dinner and Jeff was going to pick her up at 7:30pm because it would already be getting dark and he didn't want her walking home. Well, as usual, Alyssa was only listening with half an ear. She decided to walk home. OK, no problem, EXCEPT JEFF WASN'T HOME! He took advantage of Alyssa not being home and ran some errands and then stopped in by me for supper. So, when Alyssa gets home and Jeff wasn't there, she said she got scared. BUT, she totally did the right thing! She went to the neighbors and told them Jeff wasn't home. She couldn't remember Jeff's cell number, so she called the house phone and left a message for Jeff that she was at the neighbors. Jeff went to pick Alyssa up, she wasn't there, HE PANICKED! He got home, played the message from Alyssa, and went to the neighbors to pick her up. She was hanging out watching TV. Alyssa's comment was "Daddy yelled at me! Really loud!" Well yeah kid, you scared him half to death! So, all is well, Alyssa made very good choices when she got home and no one was there. She is having mandatory practice of cell phone numbers though. Jeff's panic could have been avoided if Alyssa would have called him. Next time, she will remember the number!
Tonight Alyssa has choir practice. They have their first concert coming up on October 25th. Alyssa seems to really be enjoying the choir. She thinks it is really cool that they are learning a song in Latin. I hope she sticks with it! This choir is a wonderful opportunity for voice training and forming good vocal habits!
Friday, Alyssa brings her violin home from school. I think I may have to buy some ear plugs! Jeff seems to be very excited and has promised me and Alyssa that he will be her practice buddy!
Stay tuned for further updates...........
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 10:54 AM
Monday, October 6, 2008
Our days of sunshine are over and I got my sass mouth back!
Oh yeah, and let's not forget the queen of control!
Our morning went something like this:
Me: Alyssa, it is time to get out of the shower.
Alyssa: I just got in here! Do you want me to get out before I even wash anything?
Me: Finish up, you have 5 minutes.
Alyssa: Well, if I'm not done, I'm not getting out! I just washed my hair! I have to wash my body! Do you want me to go to school stinking?
Me: (five minutes later) Alyssa, finish up, the water is going off! I have to get in their too!
Alyssa: OK (the water goes off)
Alyssa, then proceeds to putz and do everything in her power so that I can't get in the bathroom. I finally get really angry, tell her she is being inconsiderate, and tell her to get out of the bathroom - NOW!!!
Ayssa: YOU ARE THE MEANEST MOM! I CAN'T EVER GET READY, I ALWAYS HAVE TO GET OUT OF THE BATHROOM SO THAT YOU CAN GET IN! YOU ARE ALWAYS TELLING ME WHAT TO DO!
Me: Thanks for getting out of the bathroom sweetie!(As I am physically picking her up and putting her in her room).
I finally am able to get in the shower and get ready for work. Alyssa is putzing, gazing at herself in the mirror and arguing about everything!
Me: Let's go Alyssa, we are running late.
Alyssa: I'm walking!
Me: No, you are getting a ride. The neighbors already left!
Alyssa: So! I am old enough to walk to school by myself!
Me: Get in the car Alyssa!
Alyssa: FINE! As she is slamming the door and stomping her feet!!!
Me: Starting tonight, some things are changing. You will once again be going to bed at 8:00. You obviously aren't getting enough sleep when you go to bed at 8:30. From now on, you need to be in the shower by 6:30am. If you are not, no shower! I will once again be doing your hair in the morning as you have shown Mom that you can't handle the responsibility!
I will leave you with Alyssa's response that continued ALL the way to school!
Alyssa: YOU TREAT ME LIKE A BABY! I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU WOULD REALLY MAKE ME GO TO SCHOOL WITH NO SHOWER! MAYBE I DIDN'T FEEL LIKE DOING MY HAIR TODAY, DID YOU EVER THINK OF THAT? EVERYTHING ALWAYS HAS TO BE YOUR WAY! DO THIS, DO THAT! THAT'S ALL I EVER HEAR! YOU JUST WANT A PERFECT DAUGHTER! I AM NOT ALLOWED TO EVER MAKE A MISTAKE! NOW, JUST GO TO BED EARLY! THAT WAY YOU DON'T HAVE TO SPEND ANY TIME WITH ME!
Me:(as I pull up in front of school) Have a good day honey. I Love You!
Alyysa: Yeah, WHATEVER!
OMG - the sass! Is this control issues or is this normal 4th grade girl behavior? Let me tell you, IT IS NOT NICE!!!
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 2:14 PM
Friday, October 3, 2008
Please pray for my friend Lisa and her daughter "J". They are going through a really rough patch and could use your prayers!
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 3:44 PM
Following: This new feature on blogger is awesome! Leigh helped me figure it out and when Torina mentioned it in her blog it made me realize that I am already taking it for granted. So, if you are reading my blog, please say hi and follow me! I would love to know who is reading my blog.
Readers: I have readers from all over. WAY COOL! I am begging - please say hi! Also, if you have any questions regarding RAD or need advice, or are just curious about anything, please ask. I will be happy to answer your questions!
Blogging: I am finding it very hard to find things to blog about! Alyssa is in such a good place right now that I almost feel bad blogging about it. So many of my cyber friends are struggling and having a tough time that I feel guilty bragging - yes bragging, about how well Alyssa is doing. I also don't want to jinx it! On one hand, I want everyone to know that healing is possible! I also want everyone to know that I was once where you are now. I have felt the fear and the hopelessness that Alyssa's heart would never heal. I know what you are going through. When I was in that dark place and scared half to death, I had my cyber friends, Lisa in particular, giving me advice, praying for me, and just being supportive. That's how I survived my low spots!
I don't want my real life friends to feel bad. They love me unconditionally and have supported me with love and laughter, and occasionally, respite! Thanks Tammy! But, they have never raised a child with RAD. They don't know what it is really like. Don't get me wrong, they ask questions, understand the importance of following the rules we have in place, and support us in every way possible. BUT, while they understand the importance of doing what we do, they really don't understand it. Not like all of you! Blogging gives me the opportunity to express my joys, my fears, and my hopes while not being judged, and really understood by the people that read me. I have tried to explain this to Tammy, I think she would really benefit from blogging. I think it would help her to connect to other Mothers that are living with grief. It would help her to connect to other people that really get it. I have lost both my parents, I understand grief and loss, but I have never lost a daughter(and God willing I never will!) so I do not understand the grief a Mother feels. Blogging gives you that connection. It can help your heart to heal!
Finally, I am going to leave you with some random fall pictures. They are from 2 years ago, our first Halloween with Alyssa. October 20th, it will be 2 years that we have been a family. My how she has grown!
Posted by Alyssa's Mom at 9:51 AM