Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Meet the newest member of the family

Stormy is the newest member of the family. She joins Kayla, Reba, my Pomeranian, and me. We got her to be a guard dog as someone tried to break into our house while we were home a couple of weeks ago. She's been nothing but sweet and funny since we got her, though. She's a one-year-old retired show dog and is absolutely lovable. Today, she is Houdini because she's managed to bust through the little dog's doggie door and through her wire crate (I still have no idea how she managed that one).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Still here

Life has just been, well, life for the past few weeks. Kayla and I are doing great. Things seem much more relaxed since our finalization. I took care of all her vital records and her name change. It's still hard to believe sometimes that this girl is my child. We have come a long way.

Kayla hung out with her friends on Halloween night and I got some much-needed alone time. I've been doing some freelance writing in my spare time, mostly at night, and so far it's going pretty well. I hope this can be a good part-time income for me.

We had major flooding here last week and part of my fence is washed away. It seems like it's alway something to take care of but it could have been a lot worse.

I dragged Kayla to see Michael Jackson's This is It this past weekend and she was so embarassed by my dancing in the seat. It was hard not to! She said she saw more Michael Jackson in the movie than she'd seen her entire life.

Other than that, we've just been busy, busy, living life.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

I'm now officially a mom!

We had our finalization hearing yesterday...finally, after all this time. It went well except the DHS attorney forgot to get Kayla's consent in writing so we did not get the adoption decree yesterday but it's supposed to be filed today. We should be receiving it in the next few days. Kayla thought she would get away without having to testify but she ended up having to to give consent and I think it was good to have her say it out loud.

My parents were there and as it got closer to time to leave for the courthouse, Kayla got more and more excited. And there was a very noticeable sense of relief from her afterwards. We all went out and celebrated with Chinese food afterwards. It was definitely a momentous day in my life and I'm so proud to be the mother of this little girl...well, I guess she's not so little anymore.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Almost time

Tuesday we go to court for our finalization hearing. Kayla and I went shopping yesterday for her a new dress to wear and she's really starting to talk about it, so even though she won't say it, I think she is kind of excited about it. My parents are coming up to go with us to court Tuesday and then we'll go celebrate with dinner afterwards. I got Kayla a couple of gifts (a leather jacket she's been dying to have and heart necklace and earrings). I couldn't decide what to do so decided to go with one meaningful gift-the necklace-and the jacket is something she will think is "cool."

In the meantime, I am going to enjoy this rainy, cold Sunday and spend time with my daughter.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The sun will come out....

I'm exhausted. We've had rain for two weeks here. I finally saw the sun today for the first time in I don't know when but rain is forecast again for tomorrow. I don't know how much more of this I can take. It greatly affects my mood.

Kayla and I are heading into the home stretch with our court date. She doesn't really like to talk about it much but she's never liked to talk about her feelings. I'm just hoping deep down inside she is okay with everything...or at least somewhat okay. If she's having feelings about her own family, it's hard to tell. Our communication is much better these days, though, than it was this time last year. She tells me her grades as soon as she gets them, even if they're bad. She talks to me about her friends. And on a good day she'll talk to me about the guys she likes. We went to her school's open house last week and I got to meet her teachers. She's doing well so far this year in school. She's taking Spanish and Algebra, both which our high school level classes.

As for me, I'm trying to take advantage of all the time she is at dance class to do some things for myself. Go to the gym, meet friends for dinner or coffee, and I've also started dabbling again in some freelance writing. I used to freelance years ago but then life got in the way and I'm hoping I can get some extra money doing something I enjoy. We'll see where it goes. Life is definitely an adventure now. No two days are the same. And even though I'm constantly tired, I wouldn't change a thing.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remembering 9/11

I can't believe it's been eight years....this day will always get to me. I was in my first week at a new job in Washington, D.C., one block from the capitol. We thought our city was being bombed and when they finally figured out it was planes and one was heading for the capitol we were told to evacuate immediately. Outside it was utter chaos with everyone trying to get out of downtown D.C. Traffic was in a gridlock and cars were honking their horns. People were screaming and crying on the sidewalk. A couple of co-workers and I got on the subway and headed to Maryland. It was eerily quiet and we all held hands and prayed as we didn't know if someone was going to try to blow up the subway or not. I haven't felt fear like that ever or since and I hope I never do. It is a day I will never forget.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

We have a date

October 6 is our finalization date. I can't believe it's almost here after all this time. I'm trying to think of some things to do to celebrate that special day...does anybody have any ideas?

Friday, September 4, 2009

The calm after the storm

There hasn't been much to say lately because things are going pretty smoothly right now. Kayla and I are getting ready to finalize, her attitude has been really good (other than the typical teenage moodiness), she's opening up to me more about what's going on in her life. We've come really far. We're still in therapy for now but the therapist believes we can probably terminate once we finalize and just come back when and if we need her.

I'm settling into my new job. I like it okay but I am considering a big career change. I need to think and pray on that for a while, though. Kayla is doing good in school so far and enjoys her dance classes. The weeks fly by since we go from work to dinner to dance to bed every night. It's a fast-moving routine. Our house is still on the market--things are slow now--but I'm convinced it will work out like it's supposed to.

We are heading to Oklahoma today to see my sister who recently moved there. My parents are joining us there too and we will have a fun few days before the manic Fall season begins. I'm just so glad that life feels pretty calm once more. I didn't know if that would happen a couple of months ago but we made it through. I'm starting to get good at these major life adjustments which is scary coming from me who craves routine and hates change. I'm looking forward to seeing what the future holds.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Petition For Adoption

So I am sitting here looking at our Petition for Adoption. It's finally here...hopefully just a few weeks away. I'm going to sign this document and send it to the attorneys and we should get a court date soon. It seems like I have been waiting for this forever, with all the delays that we have had. I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for smooth sailing here on out. This Fall, Kayla should be "officially" my daughter.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The first day of school

Kayla started eighth grade this morning. I can't believe it. When I was driving down Lee Avenue to drop her off at school, I felt like I had just taken this route yesterday instead of three months ago. What a crazy, fast, emotional summer it has been! Hopefully, the start of school and the fall season will bring good things with it. I'm ready for a routine and some peacefulness. It is certain to go by fast, though, as Kayla has dance five hours a week for three nights a week until nine o'clock at night. So our days will be work and school, homework (hopefully!), dinner, dance and bedtime. It will be Christmas before we know it.
Last year Kayla was the new girl at school and knew no one. This year she has a host of friends and has kept in contact with them all summer. She has a best friend who is on the dance team with her and they planned their first day of school outfits together. She claims to not like her teachers or her schedule but at least she has the social part down for now and feels comfortable and excited about going back to be with her friends. It's hard to believe the changes one year can bring in both our lives.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

She's off to camp

Kayla is off to camp today. A sports and adventure camp is offering foster care children an opportunity to go to a week-long camp free of charge. As the normal fee for this camp is $1,500, this is a great opportunity for these kids. I wasn't sure Kayla would want to go but she was excited about it. Kids from all over the South will be there and she will get to experience all different sorts of kids with all different backgrounds. I'm hoping maybe being around these children who are no longer with their parents may help enable her to open up more about her past. We'll see. But she gets a week away one last time before school starts and I get a week to recharge before the crazy school/dance routine begins for the year. Now I have to figure out what to do with myself for a week!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dancing queen

Kayla made the Platinum Dance Team at her dance studio. This is the junior varsity team and one step down from the elite team. All of the dancers on it are 14-15 except for Kayla and her friend Chloe. They both were also asked to try out for the Elite team which is all older girls but Kayla was glad to make the junior varsity team-she wasn't quite ready to be with the older girls yet. I'm so excited for her. I know she will do well and have fun. We register for school today--I can't believe the summer is already over! Where did it go?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dancing like crazy

We came back from the beach to a non-stop busy life. Kayla is trying out for a competitive dance team Saturday so all last week and this week she has had dance every night. This makes for very long days as we don't get home until 8:00 and then have to eat dinner. She's excited about dancing, though, and is already convinced she's made it so I hope for her sake she does.
We had a new roof put on the house last week and I spent the weekend painting the porch and running around town like crazy. And I can't believe school is around the corner. Registration is next week. And with the fall-like temperatures around here the last week or so I'm wondering where did the summer go?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A much needed vacation

I can't begin to tell you how much fun we had at the beach. It was a much-needed vacation for all of us. Kayla got along so well with my niece whose her age and the other kids. It was great being around my family, especially my sister and my parents. I miss having them around. We swam, ate great food, shopped, played mini golf and go-carts and laughed a lot. I'm already ready to go back. I can't believe we have to jump back into the regular routine tomorrow. Ugh! Take me back to the beach!

Picture Perfect Time at the Beach

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sun, surf and sand

We are heading to the beach tomorrow with my parents, sister, and four nieces and nephews. We are going to drive halfway tomorrow and then check into our condo at Gulf Shores on Sunday and stay until we check out next Sunday. I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to this much-needed vacation. I am especially excited for Kayla because she has never been to the beach, never seen the ocean. It's an awe-inspiring sight when you see it for the first time and I'm grateful I get to share that with her. So for the next week, it will be walks on the beach, dips in the pool, laying out and reading juicy novels, good seafood, and quality time with family. I can't wait!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Goodbye Michael Jackson

Thank you for creating the soundtrack to my life! Whatever you may have thought about Michael Jackson the person, you can't deny he was a talented artist. His music and dancing will live on forever. Even Kayla, who wasn't alive in his heyday, has choreagraphed a dance to "Thriller" with a friend this past week.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thank God for a three-day weekend

I'm so tired. I've been crazy busy at my new job, overcome with allergies, dealing with Kayla's staph infection and teenage attitude, and trying to sell my house. We ended up at the Children's Hospital last weekend for a bug bite on Kayla's chest that grew to the size of a golfball. The first round of antibiotics didn't work but this new one seems to be doing the trick. It hasn't been fun for her, though, because she's had to stay out of the water. She also hasn't felt good which makes her extra moody. Kayla is at a friend's house tonight and I'm enjoying the rest. We are going to stay here this weekend and do some low-key activities, like paint pottery, go to a movie, go to the Clinton Library and see the Space Exhibit, and go downtown to watch fireworks. We also have an open house to get ready for on Sunday so it looks like I'll be doing some heavy duty cleaning also.

I'm so glad I can say goodbye to June and I hope that July fares us much better. We leave next Saturday for the beach and that in and of itself has to make it better. I can't wait to relax with the family and Kayla has never seen the ocean so that will be a wonderful experience to share with her. So starting now, I'm counting down the days until I see white sand...

Monday, June 22, 2009

My crazy summer

Okay so I started my new job and I quit after two days. I have never done anything like that before in my life but I knew after everything else I didn't want to be miserable at work also. But I didn't leave without another job. I called an attorney I used to work for and and asked him if he was still needing someone and he said yes so I've been working for him the last four days. I really like it. I get to do all the research and writing I want, which is what I love to do. I had to take a pay cut but these days I'm valuing serenity more than money. Let's see how long that lasts!

I've been super busy adjusting to the new job and dealing with the fallout of my house. The buyers backed out last week after we had renewed our offer on the house we were going to buy. Nothing is going my way this month so I'm giving up. If something's meant to happen, it will happen.

Kayla has been busy hanging out at the pool. I found a couple of friends who were willing to let her tag along on their summer days so she is doing fine. We started back with family therapy tonight and it went really well. The therapist said she could see we had come a long way since she saw us last--so maybe one thing is going right and it's the most important. Kayla's spending the night with a friend tonight so I'm trying to catch up on my rest but I think I need about five more days....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

I've got a job!

I start my new job tomorrow. I'm a little nervous and I wish there was a way I could have taken more time off but as a single mom I'm the only one who pays the bills. I hope it goes well. I've never even set foot in the place so I have no idea what to expect. They offered me the job over the phone and created a position for me. Kayla picked out my outfit to wear tomorrow--she's excited for me. So off I go on another new adventure (there's been way too many of these lately).

By the way, does anybody have any suggestions of what to do with a 13-year-old girl during the summer? She's too old for day camps and too young to stay by herself. I have several friends who are helping me out this week but it seems like there should be an easier solution for kids this age.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Happy Birthday, Kayla

You're a teenager! Oh my! May all your wishes and dreams come true and may you please not send me to the insane asylum during your teen years! I love you, sweet girl.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

One year ago...

Kayla moved in with me one year ago. How time flies! I can't believe it has been a year since this little petite blue-eyed blonde beauty who was to be my daughter moved about 30 boxes of stuff!!! into my house. Last summer we were two strangers trying to get to know one another as mother and daughter. Talk about an adjustment. There were many times I wondered what I was doing and why I was doing it but I kept putting one foot in front of the other and here we are a year later. We are no longer strangers...in fact I can't get her to stop talking most days...or stop moving. She is no longer the scared quiet little girl. Walls have come down and yet many more still need to come down. But this relationship is a work in progress and we have definitely progressed. We have fun, laugh and tell jokes together. Some days I'm not her favorite person and some days she's not mine but we are forging a bond through thick and thin. We've already had to weather some storms with the delay of her adoption and then the loss of my job but I think (and hope) going through these things together will bring us closer together in the end. I have fought hard for her and I hope she knows I will continue to fight for her forever. I appealed to the school district to transfer her to a different school and won. I appealed to DHS to give us a subsidy and won--and our social worker said in all her years she has never seen anyone win a subsidy appeal on the first appeal. I did have a new house for her and was pretty much financially set but I guess God has other plans for us. I don't know where will be living or what life will be like one month, six months or a year from now but I do know that we are in this together and we will be okay, just the two of us.

And thanks everyone for your thoughts and prayers. Last week was rough but I do have some job offers on the table and hope to have accepted one by the end of the day. Now I've just got to figure out where we are going to live...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Are we in a depression yet?

I was laid off from my job Friday afternoon with absolutely no warning. They laid off the two of us that had been at the firm the longest due to the economy, so they say. I was shocked, still am, but feel a little better today. To top it all off, I had just sold my house Thursday and bought another one. So now I have no job and nowhere to live in a month. I was so scared of what to tell DHS and how they would react. But I called our adoption specialist today and she was really nice and assured me I would find something soon and seemed willing to work with me as I go through this phase in my life. Kayla is actually handling it really well--much better than me. Her attitude was great all weekend. Who knows what's going on inside her head, though. I already have a couple of interviews lined up. One tomorrow and one Friday in my parents' hometown so we'll just see what happens. I know God has a plan and I'll end up where I'm supposed to be...the journey there is tough, though.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Life on life's terms

I referenced Kayla's fit from the other night in the previous post. It was a doozy with all sorts of venom spewed towards me out of nowhere. I got the "you think you're perfect" speech among others and then she ran to her room declaring to me "to leave her alone." What fun for me. She knows exactly what buttons to push with me and it's so hard not to react. Thank you to those who have shared their insight and advice with me. I am immensely grateful to those who have walked in my shoes and are willing to share with me their thoughts and experience. We seem to have a few good days and then a night like the other night. I'm learning, though, that it's not me she's angry at--it's the circumstances of her life and who better to vent her anger towards than me. Kayla's not one to talk to or admit to any feelings, though, so trying to comfort her or get her to talk about it does no good at all. She continues to deny that anything wrong ever went on her life and that she has any bad feelings at all. It's frustrating to say the least but I am practicing patience these days as this is not an overnight process. I hope for her sake that she can connect to those feelings and earlier life experiences so that she can move forward.

We were supposed to finalize this month but DHS has extended the court date once again to give Kayla a chance to come to terms with the circumstances of her life and being adopted. We now have a new court date of October. At first I was shocked that it was so far out but I'm starting to think maybe she does need that time to process things some more. Our therapist is out for the month of May due to surgery but hopefully she will be back in June so we can continue working on getting through Kayla's walls.

This weekend we are off to see the family and I hope to get some much needed, R&R. I have my house on the market and I'm looking for a new one on top of all this so life has been pretty stressful. I need a pool, a book, and some grandparents to watch the kids while I nap.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Our American Idol!

We are so excited that our hometown boy, Kris Allen, won American Idol! It shocked me because I thought Adam had it sewn up. But we are so proud of Kris-and I loved his duet with Keith Urban-best of the night.

The night was great until Kayla threw a fit and had a meltdown but that's for another post. Such is the life these days.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

A bonding moment

Kayla is away on a school field trip. They went on a camping overnight. Well, she jsut called me about a half hour ago to just talk and tell me about her day. She said she fell in the mud and then got stuck in an ant pit and almost called me to come get her but decided to tough it out. Okay, Kayla has never called me just to chat about anything. When she has talked to me on the phone before, she never says much, just tells me what she needs. This may not seem like much but this is huge for a girl who never likes to talk about anything in her life or her feelings whatsoever, especially to me. I think we just had a bonding moment.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A dancing Mother's Day

We had a busy and wonderful Mother's Day weekend. My parents and four-year-old niece came up Saturday morning. My mom took the girls shopping and my dad and I hung out for a few hours. I got some much-needed dad time. It was also my dad's birthday and he didn't realize the girls planned a surprise for him while we were out. They made signs, cards, bought cupcakes, played instruments. And then waited for us as apparently we were two hours late coming home (according to their schedule) so they were pooped out by the time we got there. We celebrated his birthday at a Japanese steakhouse and my niece was enthralled by the chopsticks. Kayla got sick after we got home but recovered by the next day-she didn't want to miss her recital.

Sunday, we had mother's day lunch at Macaroni Grill. Kayla gave me a card she made herself. It was very touching and something I didn't expect from her! I also got a book and some chocolates and apparently some earrings that she lost between home and the store. It was a new and weird feeling to get a bunch of "Happy Mother's Day" messages from people. But it was a really neat feeling to get the spend the day with both my mom and my new daughter.

Kayla's dance recital was Sunday afternoon so the rest of the day was spent getting ready for that. She looked beautiful and danced awesome. My little niece is so enamored of her and was enthralled watching her dance. She was in four dances in her recital-ballet, modern, tap and jazz. She was great in all of them and is clearly a gifted dancer. She went on all night about how she messed up in jazz, though. I told her no one noticed-I sure didn't-but she is way too hard on herself. She said next year she will do her best. We got home late last night after eating dinner out after the recital and I still have laundry and grocery shopping to do for the week. It was not fun getting up this morning.

Friday, May 8, 2009

We love Kris Allen

Kayla and I are faithful American Idol watchers and have been voting for our dear Arkansas boy Kris Allen every week. I think I screamed out loud when it was announced he made the final three. Well, this afternoon, Kayla and I and a friend of ours made the trip to downtown Conway with 15,000! other people to watch his parade and homecoming concert. Boy, was it hot and crowded. Thanks to our lovely southern weather it was 85 degrees and humid. We stood in a crowd of thousands of people to catch a small glimpse of Kris (and it was small--thank God for the jumbotron). At one point, I thought I was going to collapse. No water and intense humidity is not a good mix. It was worth it to see our boy sing, though. Kayla was so excited and had "Kris Allen Number 1 Fan" painted all over her face. The American Idol producer said it was the best homecoming of any Idol he has ever been to and he said he has been to all of them in every season. That's impressive. He's done our state proud. I don't know if Kris can hold off Adam to win the whole thing but he will make it regardless. He has a great humble attitude and a wonderful voice. Afterwards, we ate Mexican food and we just now got home. It was a great night. My parents are coming tomorrow and we will celebrate my dad's birthday, Mother's Day and Kayla's recital. This was a good start to what I hope will be a fabulous weekend and a much-needed one at that.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Odds and ends

Well, our therapy session last week went much better. It was in the morning and the therapist said that Kayla was much more open than usual and I joked that maybe we need to have them always scheduled in the morning.

Kayla had to have an MRI last week for a knee injury she sustained in dance class. She fell on her knee and hit it real hard. It turns out nothing is broken or torn, thank God, but she does have a large bruise/contusion that is causing her pain. She was fitted for a knee brace today so hopefully she can make it through her dance recital which is this weekend. We have dress rehearsal tomorrow night for several hours so we will be able to see how she makes it through that. It was not good timing for this to happen!

My allergies are the worst they have ever been and I am beyond exhausted at all times. We've got so much to do this week to prepare for dance recital and family coming in this weekend and all I want to do is lay down and sleep. Oh well. One day at a time, right?

Sunday, April 26, 2009


Thursday was a tough day. We had therapy and Kayla was confronted by the therapist about her not talking about her feelings. She stayed angry most of the session but wouldn't even admit that she was angry to us. It was very frustrating to say the least. But then at the end the therapist made a remark about her having a wall up and she kicked over the table and said she "was sick of everyone and everything" and started crying. The therapist said it was the first display of real emotion she had seen her have. So we left there and I couldn't get Kayla to talk about anything that happened, which I don't know why I thought I could if she couldn't in there but I tried anyway, then she accused me of trying to talk to her "when I clearly should have known she was done with the conversation." Then our social worker decided to pay us a visit and I told her some of what was going on and she went to talk to Kayla. We all tried to sit down and talk a bit later and that did not go well. Kayla cried and argued and then ran to her room. She told me she planned to "run away where no one could ever find her." Our social worker thinks Kayla still has not come to terms with the adoption and that she has never been forced to talk about her feelings so this does not come easy for her. She is used to living in a state of denial about what has gone on in her life and can function pretty well like that but I know she won't be able to function like that forever without dealing with some of this stuff. Our social worker thinks we should give it another month or two for the adoption finalization instead of trying to finalize in May since Kayla's feelings are just now coming to the surface. I see where she's coming from even though on one hand I wonder if the finalization will help her feel more secure.

Kayla has been at her sister's all weekend and I've been cleaning the house and trying to catch up on my rest. She was acting pretty normal before she left but who knows what kid will be brought back to me. Now that we've opened Pandora's box, I can no longer predict what mood she will be in and how my days will go. I think we're finally hitting reality here and it isn't pretty.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Staying busy

We've been busy the last week or so. We went to Eureka Springs, a lovely little town full of charm in the mountains, last weekend and had a great time even though it rained most of the time. We even brought the dog and it was nice to get away for a few days though I've been running around like crazy since we've been back.

But the big news is I am putting my house on the market. I've been thinking about it for a while. My house was built in the 1950s and while it has a lot of character it also requires a lot of upkeep. Not to mention it's lacking in storage space and both of our bedrooms are practically on top of each other. So I have been looking at some newer houses with bigger bathrooms and updated appliances and lots more storage space. I hadn't found anything I really liked until last week. I can't get this house out of my head which I take to mean I should go for it so I am hurriedly trying to get my house in shape to be shown. This is stressful and scary and exciting all at the same time. I'll just see what happens and trust that if it is supposed to work out it will.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter eggs and clean kitchens

A weekend out of town was just what the doctor ordered. It was nice to get away and spend time with family. My mom and I took Kayla and my niece to see the Hannah Montana movie Saturday and Kayla and my niece hung out all day. Sunday was cold and rainy but the kids had fun on their muddy Easter egg hunt.

And last night was when the miracle occurred. We got home late and had to go to the grocery store and Kayla started going through the refrigerator to see what we were out of and adding it to the list and her attitude was great all through the store. Then when we got home she decided to go through the refrigerator and pantry and throw out all the old food (of which there was many) and reorganize everything. It took her a couple of hours but it looks great. I now have a lovely, clean kitchen. And so now I'm wondering where did my daughter go? She wouldn't have done this last week. Maybe some of that stuff from therapy is seeping into her head. Whatever it is, I like it and I'm crossing my fingers I get to enjoy this new attitude of hers for longer than one day.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Living with a teenager

I now feel like I am living with a real live teenager. The hormones are coming out and out of control. Kayla has been arguing over every little thing with me this week and then last night's therapy session was the icing on the cake. Oh boy, is all I have to say. I didn't know whether to laugh, cry or jump out the window. She was so mad at me and the therapist. We are going to be working on communication skills this week and listening. I've written before that Kayla doesn't like to talk about her feelings or anything really personal so sometimes it takes a long while to drag stuff out of her and if you can't read her mind or don't know exactly what she is talking about then you are her enemy at the moment. We are also both very stubborn and like to be right so we clash often. Me, who doesn't like confrontation, is growing a thicker skin by the minute. It's the only way to survive in this ballgame.

We are also trying a new tactic for chores and being responsible. Kayla apparently has decided in the past week that she is tired of me telling her what to do all the time and it makes her "feel like a baby." I continually have to tell her or remind her what to do because as a child with ADHD she gets distracted and off task very easily. But whatever. The therapist told us to make a chart listing her chores and if she doesn't do what she's supposed to do she won't get her allowance for the week. Then it's on her and I don't have to worry anymore about what she does or doesn't do. It becomes her responsibility and she suffers the consequences. I also started reading the book Love & Logic for Teenagers last night, which is literally the bible for parenting kids that have difficult backgrounds. It's basically the same premise-let her make her own mistakes and suffer her own consequences for her choices...and the parent is supposed to stay cool, calm and collected. Maybe this will help lower my blood pressure!

Anyway, thank God it's Friday and Good Friday at that. We are headed to the family's house up north this afternoon. Happy Easter!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Shop til you drop

Shopping for clothes with an almost teenager is a nightmare. We spent hours in just one store and when I told Kayla that we couldn't get everything--she needed to choose a few things she pitched a fit. Luckily for both of us, she snaps out of her moods really quickly. She did end up with some cute stuff for Spring to get her through the end of the school year and we got the all-important Easter dress but the process was exhausting. We ended up having dinner at Applebee's at 10 o'clock at night because we ran out of time and then I literally crawled into bed.

We went to see my best friend's new baby yesterday. Welcome to the world, River! He is adorable. All my friend's are having babies right now...and I'm dealing with teenage hormones. That must be karma.

Our 75-degree weather turned into a 40-degree high today with massive winds. Kayla turned up for school in one of her new spring t-shirts and strappy sandals. I told her she was going to freeze to death and she stomped off to change into more appropriate clothing. Somehow the weather is my fault, I guess!

Can I have my weekend back? If so, I would just stay in bed and relax all weekend long. Why didn't I do that?!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Much better this time around

So our therapy session yesterday was much better than the last one. The therapist apologized to me for "forcing" Kayla to call me "mom." She said that Kayla was stubborn and that she wouldn't do anything the therapist asked her to do because she was told to do it. So the therapist said no more homework assignments. Kayla also told the therapist she would work it all out in her own time and would call me that when she is ready. And I totally agree with all of this. It shouldn't be forced because it would have no meaning then--when she's ready it will happen and it will have much more meaning to both of us. In addition, Kayla said that she is "willing to invite me into her family." That is huge for her and it took her 30 minutes to say it in session. She also made some additional disclosures that will be of benefit to us and told us that we miscontrue her words. The therapy stuff is hard for Kayla because she does not like to talk about feelings or anything personal but she did eventually get the hard stuff out last night and we both left feeling a lot better. Though I'm not sure the therapist did--Kayla must have told her a dozen times that she is mean and she didn't like her. Next time we are going to work on communication. I told her if she wants me to get exactly what she's saying then she's got to tell me exactly what she wants to tell me and not assume that I can read minds. She is fond of saying "You know" or "You know already" instead of saying outright what she is thinking and then gets mad when I don't know what it is she's trying to tell me.

We also had a visit from the social worker last night (yes, we had a busy night--I told Kayla at least we have it all over with for the week) and it appears our finalization date is still set for May. I told her I don't want to be surprised again if it's not and to let me know what's going on so my fingers are crossed that things will go smoothly from here on out.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Back to the grind

Spring Break is over and we are back to the daily grind. Last week was so quiet and I didn't like it! That's the shocker. I've gotten so used to having Kayla in the house that when she is not there it feels very weird. I didn't know what to do with myself but I did get a chance to have dinner with friends and read and relax. Kayla was given a ton of homework over Spring Break so most of her nights were spent working on school work. She was not happy about that but she had a good time getting away for a while. Now we are on the final stretch for the end of the school year and I've got to start figuring out summer plans for her. We see the therapist tonight and our social worker--double whammy. Such a nice start to the week! ;)

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Lemonade and gratitude

I was awarded the Lemonade Award from Sheri. And it came just when I needed to be reminded that I am a good mom...thank you Sheri. Go visit Sheri's blog at http://www.sherific.blogspot.com/ and say Hi. She is a great mom and has a great outlook on life. I'm supposed to pass this on to others and I will get around to it. It's so hard to do when all of you who are on this same journey inspire me every day.

Thank you to those of you who commented on my last post. You really gave me some things to think about and I feel a lot better about things. I know it's going to take some time and for a teenager it's got to be hard to close the door on your past and connect with a new family. I can't even imagine what that must be like for her. I know Kayla guards her feelings closely (and understandably so) but hopefully with lots of patience and love she will eventually let down some of that guard.

Kayla left today to go spend her Spring Break with my parents and she is so excited about getting to spend the week with them and my nieces. She loves hanging out with my family and even calls them "Memaw" and "Papa." It has to be a good sign that she enjoys being with my parents and the rest of my family. I had one therapist tell me that it is much easier for older kids being adopted to attach to the grandparents than the parent because of all the issues they have with their own parents, which makes sense to me. So it should be a fun week for her and it will give me a few days to rest and take it easy before I dive back into this thing called "motherhood."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The "Mom" issue

Kayla has called me by my first name ever since she moved in. It was kind of bothering me last summer so we had the conversation that went something like "I will never replace your real mom but if you want to call me Mom you can do so. If you feel more comfortable calling me Kristi then that's alright too." I felt relief after having said it and let go of it for a while.

In therapy tonight, she got confronted on not calling me "mom" and she kept saying "I will never call her mom." When the therapist asked her why, she said "I can't." The therapist said her homework was to call me mom...she said she wouldn't do it so it was changed to come up with some kind of nickname that wasn't as formal as my name. Right before time was over, Kayla said "I can't call anyone that's not my birthmom my mom." When the therapist asked her what she thought of me as she said "my guardian." We talked some about how it hurt me that she doesn't think of us as a family but it was right before the end so we couldn't really get into it. I'm sure we will get more into it next time. Kayla has very black and white views about her life and how it should be and is very stubborn about things and what she believes about certain things. She also has a fantasy about the perfect family (which is not me, the single mom, by the way). Part of me doesn't want to force the issue because her calling me anything would be just because she had to and not real but on the other hand delving into this issue brings up some important issues like how she views adoption and she and I as a family. It's very painful to hear the daughter that you want to raise and give a home to tell you she thinks of you only as a "guardian. "I don't know if that means she thinks of me as the person who is just going to take care of her until she graduates high school and then she's out of here. More will be revealed, I guess. In the meantime, she knows she hurt my feelings because she is scrubbing the bathtub. Scrubbing the bathtub?! That has never happened the entire time she has lived here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Did you wear your green today? I did because I was reminded by a girl who left the house in three different green necklaces.

Kayla went to see the psychiatrist last night for a check-in and the doctor upped her dose of ADHD medicine to the highest dose. I'm crossing my fingers this will work and we won't have to play the medication merry-go-round game searching for the right one.
Kayla spent most of the weekend doing make-up work and I spent most of it doing laundry and cleaning house to get ready for my parents' and little niece's arrival this Friday.

I don't have much else to say today except thank God the sun is out and the weather is warm...hopefully it's finally Spring.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Finally Friday

Well, I sent Kayla back to school this morning. She has been fever free for over 24 hours so I figure she'll be alright. She also cleaned her room yesterday so I figure she must be feeling better if she actually did that. She's got a lot of makeup work to do, though, so she will have a fun weekend. ;)

We went to our therapy session last night and this therapist is going to be a good one. She asks you those questions you don't want to answer. She had Kayla hiding in the corner behind the couch because the questions got too uncomfortable for her. I think she will be good, though, in getting everything out in the open as painful as it may be. Kayla told her on the way out, "I don't like you today." We'll start seeing her every week from now on. Kayla will have her own session with her and then we will have family counseling right after. So we should be getting down to the heart of all her issues pretty soon. We'll see how this goes.

I am so far flu-free but absolutely exhausted trying to juggle work and caring for a sick child and trying to get all her school work together and doing the regular household duties...not a fun week. Hopefully next week, we'll be back to normal-whatever that is.

Monday, March 9, 2009

It's worse than I thought...

Kayla has the flu. They swabbed her nose and it is indeed the flu. The doctor said every kid she had seen this morning has it so I guess it has finally hit our state. The doctor gave me a prescription for Tamiflu to try to prevent me from coming down with it. This is not good. This is when you really find out the joys of being a single parent...


Kayla spent the night with a friend Friday night and called me to tell me she thought she was getting sick. Yep, she was indeed. She was sick but feeling good enough Saturday to want to shop for clothes at Target but by Saturday night she was fast becoming immobile. When I took her temperature yesterday morning, it was 102. She also has a sore throat, cough and stomach ache to go along with it. So I made arrangements to work from home this morning and will be taking her to the doctor soon. I'm just crossing my fingers it's not strep throat and that I won't be next in line to get it.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Ready for Spring

I survived the weekend but didn't get my much-needed rest. Kayla went to the movies with some friends Friday night but I had to go buy a baby shower gift and replace my comforter that ripped in the washing machine (the good times just keep happening ;). Saturday, after returning with a friend from a baby shower I could not find my keys and ended up calling the locksmith. As I was getting ready to teeter over the edge into a full-blown meltdown, I discovered my keys had fallen through a hole in my purse into some obscure place. Thank God last week is over!

Some friends invited us to dinner Saturday night and we enjoyed a lovely time with them while watching the snow fall down. It was beautiful and we stayed in the rest of the night and watched a movie. Sunday, Kayla finally got serious about cleaning her room and spent most of the day rearranging it and getting rid of all her trash. I also got together several bags of stuff to donate. It amazes me how fast she goes through clothes. She's gone through a big growth spurt since she moved in and clothes that fit her a few months ago are already too small. I was exhausted by the end of the day but we got a lot done and my reward was getting to watch Brothers in Sisters in relative peace and quiet. I've discovered that if she has some sort of project to do she is more calm and more independent. When she gets bored, though, it is constant needing of my attention and for me to entertain her.

They're forecasting highs near 80 by the end of the week and lots of sunshine. I can't wait. I don't think I could stand another month of winter.

Friday, February 27, 2009


So it's Friday and I'm waiting for the electrician to finish installing my ceiling fan and it's taking forever. It's been one of those weeks...everything that has happened has just managed to frustrate me endlessly. I am tired and stressed. Right now, I wish I could do nothing but sleep for two days. But that is a dream that is never going to come true. One of the biggest changes I have had to deal with being a single mother is no longer getting to crawl under the covers and hide from the world when I'm exhausted or having a bad day and there is no husband to ask to take over with the kids while I take some time for myself. I have to keep going no matter what I feel like or what is going on and some days I feel like I'm going to collapse from sheer exhaustion but somehow I make it through the day. I guess it's because we have no other choice, right?

Kayla started on her ADHD medication this week and I have seen no change. She is still hyper at night, she still struggles to get her homework done, etc. We saw the therapist last night and she is going to have the doctor's nurse call me today...hopefully. However, she has been going to bed earlier and getting up earlier instead of me having to tell her repeatedly to get out of bed in the morning. She even made coffee for me this morning! That was a nice surprise to wake up to. They put her on some medication to help her sleep at night and that seems to be working well. Now if we can just get the correct dose on the other one, we will be good to go.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar Night

Kayla and I got all dressed up in formal gowns last night and went to the Oscar Night America party benefiting the Wolfe Street Foundation. It is the only officially sanctioned Oscar party in Arkansas. We got the actual programs the people at the Oscars received and enjoyed a 5 course meal. It was a lot of fun and a good bonding time getting dressed up together for a special event. Before we got there, Kayla wanted to know if we had to stay the whole time and could we leave early. Once we got there, though, she asked if we could stay for the whole thing! I was so surprised but she actually seemed to be having fun, even though the fancy food was a little weird for her. They had a silent auction and we had a bidding war going on all night for a Walt Disney Enchanted painting but lost out at the last second. She was bummed about that. However, we ended up staying until Best Picture was announced and were one of the last to leave. That didn't make for a fun Monday morning but at least she doesn't have school today. I was proud of her last night. She sat still, had good manners, didn't complain (except about the picture which was justified), and didn't bounce off the walls. It's good to know I can take her to a formal dinner and she will behave like a princess!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A diagnosis

Kayla and I met with the new counselor tonight to go over her treatment plan and objectives. She had some really good ones and I'm hopeful she can get Kayla talking about her past and the things she does not want to talk about because she doesn't want to feel. I think I am really going to like this therapist. I feel like I'm in on everything that's going on and she really gets kids that are in foster care. Kayla seems to really like her too--so far.

She gave Kayla an ADHD diagnosis, as well as adjustment disorder, and we see the doctor on Monday to discuss medication. I had a feeling she would get this diagnosis and hopefully she can get the right help for it. Since Christmas, I have noticed her get progressively hyper and distracted. I think it's a sign that she's getting more comfortable with me and I think it's great her true personality is coming out. I told her I would much rather you be you than to feel like you have to be on your best behavior all the time. However, she is bouncing off the walls nearly every night, constantly wanting me to watch her do something, is constantly losing things, has to be reminded no less than half a dozen times a night to take a shower, do her homework, clean up and now she says her teachers are getting on to her because she can't sit still in class. So I think it's time to try some medication and see if that doesn't help her focus and calm down. As we were leaving, Kayla pointed out one of the parenting classes they have at the clinic - Parenting the ADHD - and told me I should go...and then laughed and laughed.

Meanwhile, she's at a slumber party tonight. She doesn't have school tomorrow and I get some peace and quiet. Thank God! Monday can't get here soon enough.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Valentines and pageants

Oh what a long weekend we had. Where is my holiday today? I could have used a morning to sleep in. Kayla went to the movies with some friends Friday night so I got some time to myself for a little while. She apparently had a falling out with one of her best friends on Friday so there was a bunch of drama leading up to the movies.

She was my Valentine this year seeing as how there's not much time for anyone else lately. I gave her a stuffed bear and an American Girl DVD. She gave me some chocolate, valentine's socks, lotion and a rubber ducky because I "like to take baths." I guess she thinks I need company in there ;). She was actually pretty good the rest of the day. She cleaned her room and watched her movie on her computer while I worked on a big work project. I then took her to eat cheeseburgers and to go see Confessions of a Shopaholic. This movie is the story of my life, by the way.

Sunday, Kayla was asked to be a guest at a pageant preliminary. She won a state title in 2007. She was so excited. She loves being in pageants and talks nonstop about them and researches them endlessly on the internet and fantasizes about being in every one of them, not stopping until she wins Miss America. I told her I wished I could make her fantasies come true but I'd have to win the lottery first. These things are expensive to enter! I had no idea. So Sunday she got to see some of her old pageant friends and dress up like a princess. We ate dinner with them afterwards. It ended up being a very long day and I'm still tired. What happened to my peaceful weekends? Oh yeah, a tween took them over! Such is life for me these days.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dancing queen

Kayla tried out for a solo part in her jazz class for recital yesterday and she got it! She was so excited. She's been talking about it for weeks. She's now talking about trying out for the competitive dance team and the school dance team. She's a really good dancer so I hope for her sake she makes it. I'm all for it because it gives her someplace to burn off her energy and gives her something to do and be passionate about--and we all need that.

Meanwhile, I'm exhausted. I've never liked the month of February. Winter starts getting too long and I start getting depressed. I need lots of sunlight and warm weather. So I'm ready for Spring...right now.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Social butterfly

Kayla is becoming quite the social butterfly. In the last two months, she's been to at least four birthday parties. The latest one was tonight. I dropped her off at a friend's house for the little girl's 13th birthday. The latest craze is dance parties. I think this is the third dance party she's been to this year. All the girls get dressed up and giggle over the guys. She called me and wanted to spend the night with her friend Emily Claire afterwards so I picked them up and dropped them off and now have a night to myself. It is 12:30 a.m. and I am awake just because I want to do what I want as long as possible. The house is quiet and I can sleep in tomorrow. Maybe she'll be invited to another one next weekend. Here's crossing my fingers....;)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Family counseling, round two

We had our visit with the new therapist and I think I'm really going to like her. Kayla even said she liked her better because she said the other one made her "talk about her feelings." We just did an intake visit and answered a million questions. Our first official visits will start in two weeks and we will have one hour of individual therapy for her and then one hour of family therapy. We got late appointments, though, so it shouldn't be too bad. But it will probably make a VERY long night for her. We also have to visit the psych again in a couple of weeks. Kayla probably doesn't need any medication--if anything, she's got some ADD issues flaring up so that may need to be addressed. But all in all it went really well. I also like that we are going to have family counseling every week instead of every other week. I think that will really help. So hopefully this will be a good thing. I'm learning a lot how to deal with constant change in my life--something I was never any good at.

Super Bowl hangover

I threw a last minute Super Bowl party this weekend. I spent all weekend preparing for it and collapsed after the game last night. I was so tired. Too bad I couldn't sleep in this morning. Planning for a party is pretty stressful at times. Kayla was so excited, though, and had so much fun hanging out with people. I made chili and queso and had guests bring their favorite snack. We will be eating leftovers for weeks. My team didn't win...I was pulling for the Cardinals because I'm a big Kurt Warner fan but oh well. It was a great finish to the game so at least it was exciting at the end.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Back to square one

DHS called me yesterday to tell me that we no longer have our therapist because apparently the entire office she was working in was shut down Monday unexpectedly. This is not a good thing because Kayla and I loved this therapist. She has been working with Kayla for months and has really gained her trust. She is excellent at working with foster and adoptive kids and knows all their issues. She is the reason our finalization was postponed-so that we could continue family therapy wit her. So this is very frustrating to say the least. DHS gave us an appointment with a new therapist on Monday and I'm just hoping and praying that she will be good and be able to help us. I can't believe we have to start ALL OVER, though. I just have to keep reminding myself that God knows what He's doing...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Wishing for my snow day

Well, Kayla has a snow day today but I don't. The streets are just wet so far but they called off school. It IS supposed to get icy later so I guess it was some preventative planning. However, I had to go into work today. I did let Kayla sleep 1 1/2 hours later than normal so I guess that was something...so here we are. She gets to play on the computer and I get to work. I want a snow day too!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Winter blahs

I have all good intentions of keeping this blog regularly updated but then life gets in the way...or in my case sickness. I have been sick with one infection or another since Christmas day. I've had a cold, the stomach flu, a sinus infection, and an eye infection. It sounds like I need to start a drip of Vitamin C in me. I just feel wiped out and drained constantly. I'm ready for Spring already...anyone else?

Kayla is going to spend the night with her sister tonight that she hasn't seen in a few months. I think it will be really good for both of them. Her little sister adores her and doesn't get to see her very often. And I will get some much needed rest time.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What they don't tell you....

They don't tell you how hard it is to have the person who is to be your daughter (but who is a complete stranger) move into your home and immediately be expected to become a family. And they don't tell the little girl who moves into your home and leaves behind everything and everyone familiar that she will go through an adjustment period and these feelings are normal. It's a process that takes time and now, seven months later, we are moving closer to that goal of being a real family. As Kayla gets more comfortable with me and in our home, the effects of her past are coming closer to the surface. Older kids who get adopted go through a "honeymoon" phase where everything is wonderful and they are on their best behavior. Then as time goes on and they become more comfortable, the real issues and behaviors take over. Kayla has a habit of keeping everything inside and not talking about her feelings but she has been seeing a therapist for the past few months and has slowly started talking about some of these things. Last week we started family therapy together and our first session went better than I could have imagined. I think it will be really good for us to get all of these things out on the surface and deal with them now rather than later...or not ever.

We had a court date last week. We had originally believed our adoption would be finalized next month but now me, the therapist, and our social worker have agreed to hold off while we go through this period of counseling and give Kayla time to work through some of these issues and give us time to work on building a stronger relationship. I can already tell a difference in Kayla since our meeting with the therapist last week. She has been much more open about things in her life and telling me when she is scared. She even got angry with me once which I take as a great sign because she has not done that before. And you don't get angry with people you are not attached to...so I think and hope our relationship will continue to get stronger each and every day. It is a process and a journey, and for me, as well as Kayla, a valuable learning experience on dealing with feelings and issues as they arise and learning to be able to communicate and ask for help. This is by far the hardest thing I have ever done in my life but I would not trade a minute of it.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Isabella's Birthday

My niece, Isabella, turned 4 this weekend. She is the one who idolizes Kayla and talks about her all the time. We drove up north just to see her. She had a big day with Kayla. We took her for pizza and bowling and then Kayla wanted to take her to Build-A-Bear where she got her first one--all dressed up in a Wizards of Waverly tee.

My parents gave us their tickets to the musical Wizard of Oz Friday night. Kayla seemed to enjoy it. She hasn't seen much live theatre and loves the dancing, of course. It was a bit long and we were tired but it was a good show.

Saturday night we took Kayla to her first Arkansas Razorback basketball game. They have been on a winning streak beating two top ten teams. I don't know what happened to them Saturday, though. They couldn't buy a basket. We ended up getting beat and Kayla said she was bad luck for them.

Kayla spent yesterday afternoon on Match.com determined to find me a suitable boyfriend. That was uh...interesting. I have no idea what she's done on there. She's apparently "winked" at all these guys on my behalf so who knows what I have waiting for me on my email.

We start family counseling today. I hope it goes well.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to my routine

I am so happy to be back at work today and feeling normal for the first time in two weeks. Being sick and off work for too long makes me crazy. Kayla did not want to go to school today. Her best friend from school moved to California over Christmas break. I hate that that had to happen since she already has a long history of people leaving her. She did spend go to a birthday slumber party for a girl from her class Saturday night which did her a lot of good. She came home in such a good mood she cleaned and organized her room on a scale I haven't seen in months. We'll see how long it lasts...

Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy second day of the year

For 2009, I resolve to not be sick. I've been sick for the past two weeks and I'm done. I'm feeling better but still feel like I could sleep the day away. I ventured out on New Year's Eve with Kayla to get some dinner so I could feel like I was at least doing some celebrating and promptly came home and got sick. So much for that. We did stay up until midnight to watch the ball drop and toast some sparkling white grape juice with each other and the dog.
As for resolutions, I would like to eat healthier and work out more, stay within my financial budget, and grow more spiritually. But I would be happy if we could all just have peace on earth and an end to this economic crisis in 2009. So here's to what promises to be another interesting, life-changing year...