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2 Girls, 2 Boys and a whole lot of noise.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Bed time story

I can't sleep as I think about this crazy weekend we have just had. Maybe it will put me to sleep to write about it. Maybe you will fall asleep reading it.

It started Friday. I went in to substitute as a 3rd wheel teacher (the teacher who walks around and helps the real teachers). This is an easy job. Sometimes you get to pull kids into your little office and really teach them instead of babysitting the big group of 25 students. However, when I got to the school they explained that both real teachers must have decided to go clubbing because they needed a sub for both teachers on this team. One teacher had scheduled a sub but the sub called in sick. This should have been a red flag to me but I said, "Sure, I'll sub for the sub."

This was all fine until the afternoon when the kids had me figured out. I am a pretty relaxed sub. If you are at least doing your work (which mostly consisted of playing math games on their devices - yes, that was the actual assignment) then I am not going to hassle you... that is, until I start getting reports from other kids that you weren't doing what you were supposed to. Usually I will do something about it after 2 witnesses have come forward so by the time 4 kids came to tell me that a group of 5 kids weren't doing what they were supposed to, I was pretty sure it is time to intervene. I decided to reign it all in and have all the kids go back to their desks to continue playing math games but one kid is not having it. He starts arguing with me and spouting off his disdain because I am a terrible teacher...etc. I feel myself getting frustrated and I asked him if he would like to go talk to the principal about it. The kid agrees. I said, "Deal" and he left the class.

Now all the kids want to know what just went down because kids don't usually get sent to the principal anymore. My own child asked later, "why didn't you just give him a "step" (which is the normal punishment)? And I am still trying to figure out the answer to that.

It almost felt like in the heat of the moment when you tell your kid to go see their dad for a punishment. As a mother, and having no formal education as an educator, I feel really terrible about how this all played out. I am considering writing a note to the kid because I feel like I should have handled that better.

So I am still stewing over this as we run a bunch of errands after work and I am preparing for a ward (church) party that I am in charge of on the following night. It is getting later and we decide to take the kids home while we run to Walmart to pick up a treadmill that we had ordered.

Did you know that Walmart pick-up closes at 8pm? Well it does. Don't go there and try to finagle anything with the manager to pick up your order because he Does. Not. Care.

On our way home, my daughter calls to say that they let the neighbor in because she was locked out of her house. (My kids are dumb. No matter how many times we tell them not to even go near the door when we leave them for 30 minutes, one of them can't help but peek at the door and then fall over into the hallway so that the doorbell-ringer can see them.)

We are pulling in the driveway and see the locked-out neighbor's husband in shorts and flip flops on the sidewalk. We asked if he is locked out. He seems confused and we tell him to just come inside our house. (These neighbors are refugees so we assumed that the confusion was a translation issue.)

I walked inside our house to find our neighbor with red eyes huddled in our living room with her 2 year old son... and right behind me is her husband, whom she is not happy to see. We aren't sure what is going on but we tell him to sit down, and he casually does. We try to make small talk and end up having this awkward conversation where be basically confesses to having been drinking. He explained that things had gotten heated and his wife and son ran out and were trying to hide from him. They all stayed for an hour until another one of their family members came home so that they wouldn't be alone together.

Oh. Em. Gee. I don't even know what to say and I am not sure if I should approach her to see if she needs help. She lives with her husband's family while her family is stuck in her native country.

Saturday we went snow hiking. It was beautiful and just cool and we got to go with friends who we met when we lived in California. It was really awesome - except for the part where we had our kids with us, who just complained, said their boots didn't fit, their gloves were cold, they were hungry, when will this be over?... etc. Except for that part.

We got a late start and a later finish and so we were not going to have enough time to set up, decorate, and shower before this ward party that I was in charge of. I am not proud of this but there were words said on that car ride home that I am not proud of (mostly because he wanted to go home and change his clothes but the timing would not allow for that.)

Miraculously and with the help of a few people we had enough time to set up and run home to shower. Party went great. Someone told us that they would take care of the clean up and we were exhausted so we went home...but not before Jeremy says, "Can we please go get the treadmill?"

We are halfway there before my son looks out the window and exclaims in a near panic, "Where are we? We were just at the church! I thought we were going home!"

We are just taking the long way kiddo.

We get the treadmill home from a Walmart that you really should be packing in, if you know what I mean. We were taking our lives in our hands going there 2 nights in a row.

We get the thing upstairs. Jeremy starts unpacking it and I get in my P'J's. The next thing I know Jeremy is staring at me with a bloody finger saying, "Are you going to take me or am I going to have to drive there myself?"

And we spent the rest of the night together watching Talladega Nights in the emergency room waiting for them to stitch him up.

I hope that you and I can now sleep after all this, although I am still wondering if I should write that kid a note. Thoughts?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

When substitute teaching, keep an ace in your pocket

I really like middle schoolers. I don't know why. I think it is because I already know that they are liars so we are on an even playing field. Middle schoolers still like school for the most part and they are far enough from being adults that they don't quite feel like they are on the same level as an adult. Compare that to kindergarten. I feel like kindergarteners are too young to lie but they aren't. They are opportunists just like every other kid. I want to trust those innocent little faces but I can't. The meanest teachers are the ones with the most obedient classes and I hate being mean. Kinder is a losing situation for me.

Anyway, I got to sub at the Middle School nearby. I didn't realize this at first but when any student sees that there is a substitute, they immediately do something against the rules. If you are a friendly -looking substitute, then they won't make this rule breaking malicious. If you are not so friendly-looking then you will have to leave notes for the teacher like the one I read that stated, "I will never substitute for your class again. I am crying as I write this..."

So the first thing I was asked in this class was, "Are you going to leave after 10 minutes like the last sub?"
Me: Um, I wasn't planning on it.

I then knew that I needed to up my game.

It was in this middle school that I had a class of kids who were supposed to have a textbook open and be making some notes for a test. Easy assignment. I don't even care if they talk to their friends as they do this as long as they have the book out and are half-looking at it. However, I came across a group in the corner who was being a little rambunctious so I casually sauntered in their direction to see what was up. There was a kid who was obviously copying off another kid's paper.

Me: What are you doing?
Little liar: Oh, it's fine. My friend George* doesn't care.
Me: Hmmm...well I care. Why don't you get out a book and take your own notes?
Persistent Little liar: No really, it's fine. My friend doesn't mind.

Now up to this point I didn't want to have to do this but I was a little irritated that this kid wouldn't even try and that George didn't just take his paper back and keep working. So I had to pull out the big guns...

Me: Well, unfortunately, I know George's mom and I don't think she would like what is going on here.

The entire class stops to listen to this. Mouths drop and George turns bright red because up until this point neither one of us had acknowledged this fact. I felt that I needed to add a little more fire to the persistent little liar's flame so I lowered my voice so that only the corner group could hear and I said, "And I know where he lives. So why don't you give him that paper back and get out a book?"

George wanted to die. I am certain. I felt kind of bad for him. He took his paper back and pretended like this did not just happen.

The kids in the class didn't know whether to laugh at him or at me so after the shock wore off, they all went back to work. The persistent little liar never did end up taking his own notes but he didn't ask for anyone else's either.

And that is why I pray every morning before I go substitute (sometimes twice before Middle School or High School) because everyone needs a random ace in their pocket.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

I blame the Fingerlings

Advance warning: This blog may contain inappropriate material for young children in regards to a guy who lives in the North Pole. Please protect little eyes so that I don't ruin their lives too. And I don't want to hear from people who think they are too saintly to celebrate Santa so that they don't have to break their kids' hearts. Every parent has to break their kids hearts at some point. I just choose to do it twice - 1. Santa Clause and 2. "the talk" about where babies come from and how much their body is going to change. No one gets out of the second one.

Every year there is some ridiculous toy that comes out that no one can seem to find, has no purpose, and everyone wants. Last year it was the Hatchimals. This year it was the Fingerlings. My mother was able to find said Fingerlings - which are bizarre toys that attach to your fingers and make weird noises. They aren't small either and can actually cause your finger to capsize because of their heaviness.
Anyway, my kids got these from "Santa" this year. They thought they were cute at first but now that we are home neither child wants to claim them because of their dumbness (however, I keep finding them in my living room after I put them away. Maybe they really can walk?).

So I am putting the kids to bed and pick up this unicorn for the finger and I tell Kaitlynn, who is 11, that Grandma looked really hard to get this toy but if you don't want it then just tell me (so that I can black market sell it like all the other crazy moms).

So K thinks for a moment and says, "But Santa brought us these."

Me: Long pause and eyes narrow because I see that I have caught myself in a trap. I evaluate all my options and say, "I know. Grandma looked everywhere and couldn't find them but Santa was able to."

K: "My friends say that Santa isn't real."

Me: Oh really? What do you think about that?

K: I don't know. I think he is real. Is he real?

Me: Now this kid is 11. She has recently started becoming a woman, if you know what I mean, and I'm thinking "I guess tonight is the night". So I go sit on her bed and ask, "Do you really want to know?"

K: Yes!

Me: "Well..." and then I say something about how Santa is a magical thing for Christmas and as long as we give presents to others then we get to be Santa's helpers - but then Christmas is really about Christ and that He is the gift to us, etc. Basically all kinds of things to soften the blow. But as I am saying this unprepared speech, alligator tears are flowing down and she is so upset with me. She demands that I should have lied to her for longer.

K: "Why would you tell me? Is Rosie (the elf on the shelf-which is another ridiculous pain that parents have to deal with every single night) real? What? Oh my gosh I loved her. How could you?" etc.

This goes on for an hour, and I can see more things unravelling in her mind about the other traditions we have. I tried to bear my testimony that Christmas is really about Jesus - which we have emphasized for years - and that He really is a special gift but this did not console her. At one point Jeremy naively walks in and I tell him to sit down and close the door - like a black widow providing a trap to her unassuming victim. He asks why K is crying and I let her explain that I am a terrible person. That I told her the truth and she wished I had lied. At one point even declaring, "Grandma would have lied about it!" He tries to explain how great her Christmases were because of the "magic" and that we can still continue the tradition and that she can even help make Cody's Christmases magical still. He even explained that he was the youngest of 8 kids and that he never even had the chance to believe in Santa and that he has never even gotten a single gift from Santa!

This kid did not care. Her life is ruined, according to her. We should have lied for longer and I am pretty sure that tomorrow the first thing that Cody will hear is that Santa isn't real. To counter this, Jeremy went to warn Cody that if Kaitlynn tries to tell him anything tomorrow, it is a lie. Which is just terrible too.

I'm not even sure what to do now. I thought she was old enough - she could put clues together, etc. and was asking questions and I have felt that when my kids ask about things I will tell them the truth. But here we are. I seem to have stolen away a child's innocence and magical world. I also cleaned her room today, which she said that I "ruined". So now she can't even wake up and trip over her clothes and toys when she goes to get a tissue to wipe her disappointed eyes.

This may be part of the "joys" of parenting but I still blame the Fingerlings.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Confessions of a Substitute Teacher

Now that I have completed all the college I can handle -for now- I am bored. I have a part time job at an accounting firm but I still had lots of time on my hands and I am not good at being idle. We will be moving this summer so I didn't want to get a "real" job and I needed some flexibility so that I can get my kids to school (one kid doesn't start until 9am!) so I did the most rational thing I could think of: SUBSTITUTE TEACHING.

Substitute teaching would be equivalent to having a temp come in and run a board meeting for one day in the corporate world. It would go something like this:
"Hello everyone. I am Connie and am here to fill in for George today. His notes here say that we are working on a major legal case and we have to make some important decisions today."
Connie thinks to herself, "I wonder if my arts degree will be of some service here."
Employee who looks like a con artist, making eye contact with all co-workers and clears his throat, "Um, hello Connie, Bob usually provides us lunch each day. Do the notes state that?"
Connie, "Hmm...no, they don't." But eager to please says, "Where would you like lunch from?"
Employee who looks like slick Willie steps in and says, "Bob usually orders catered sandwiches."
Connie says "Oh, okay. I'll take care of that!"

An expensive Subway platter arrives and Connie walks in so proudly with this meal and places it on the table. Every employee looks at it with disdain. Connie's smile fades from her face and says, "What's the matter?"
Employee who has yet to smile says, "Why couldn't you have ordered from Jimmy Johns? And where are the drinks?"

I believe that the things I experience in the education world are bizarre and funny and I will share some of them with you. I get to pick which jobs I take - and in my district there are a plethora of jobs every single day (Thank goodness that I have my accounting job 2 days a week to keep me feeling like a human being instead of a circus performer). Because of my over-confidence, I have tried almost all grades and different schools in my district. We are rated between a 3 and a 5 (out of 10) on GreatSchools.com and the district is located inside the capital city of Columbus. I believe the principal said that the district consists of 75% of people who live below the poverty level. So with this in mind, I will start with yesterday and work backwards.
I substituted for Kindergarten. ( I have decided that kinders are con artists packed in the cutest little shells.) I only subbed for the afternoon so I walked into the classroom where the teacher handed me over 4 pages of notes  - which seemed excessive - and said, "you need to go watch them at recess outside. Bye!" So I take my book of notes to go read them outside. Much to my surprise she has specific kids to be aware of.
Kid #1: "Watch out for Bobby. (names have all been changed to protect the guilty parties and because I can't remember them anyway.) He is a flight risk. If he gets irritated he has been known to run out the door and into the street. If you see him getting frustrated put the bookshelf in front of one door and guard the other." (What?!?)
Kid #2: "has a bladder problem. If he asks to go to the bathroom just let him." These are Kinders. They all have bladder problems. They all just recently learned about the whole bathroom thing. It is my personal policy that if any kid asks to go to the bathroom I am not going to be the one to say no. I don't even care if they lied so that they can go to the bathroom. Go child, you have my blessing.
Kid #3: "has a heart condition. If this child turns blue, call 911." (Again, what?!?) If any child turns blue I will be calling 911, the principal, my husband, a psychologist, etc.
Kid #4: "Likes to touch other children and can't keep his legs and hands to himself." This kid is going to end up in prison. Good luck, my friend.

So after reading this list I head outside to try to identify the children who are part of my class - which is impossible. I would like you all to know that I never identified any of the children on the list. Yes, as a mother this does not make me proud, but I am one person who has 3 hours to learn 25 names. And they aren't normal names or phonetically accurate spellings.

So the first kids I encounter are the cutest little girls who are apprehensive about me being their teacher. But I get down to their eye level and tell them what fun we are going to have. After this they want to hold my hands...and then go with me everywhere...and then ask me to buy sandwiches for all the kids for lunch, essentially.
Child 1: "Mrs. Miller, can we bring our chairs over to the carpet for story time?"
Me: Is this something your teacher normally does?
Devil with an angel's face: (shrugs shoulders) um, yes, she won't mind.
Me: ok, sure. (I like to reward creativity.)
This was a mistake. These kids do not know how to bring chairs over without hitting other kids with them or even just being able to sit on said chairs while they listen to a story. Note to self, this kid lies.

These 2 little girls spend the rest of the day wanting to be next to me, and sit by me, and only have me talk to them. When I could not do those things, they complained that they wanted their real teacher back. (Me too, kid. Me too.)

The other big issue came later in the day when I encountered an offensive smell in a section of the classroom. I knew it was poop. You can just tell, but I couldn't pin point which kid it was. I was sympathetic to this, however, because my own son had a poop accident in first grade.
Sidestory: After he had been at school and piano lessons and I discovered the atrocious underclothings he explained, "the teacher wouldn't let me go to the bathroom." I said, "well, didn't she notice that you smelled?"
He said, "yes. she sent me to the nurse."
Me (confused), "Why didn't she help you?
Son: "I didn't go there. I just walked around the halls until school was over."
And then he didn't even come straight home. He walked to piano lessons still sitting in it. (Sorry Kara).
That school uniform and underwear took a trip to the garbage can.

Anyway, by this time another teacher had come in and smelled the foulness so she tried to ask the 4 suspects which one did it but no one would confess.
Another mother somewhere in this city was sent home with a gift, just like I was.

By the end of the 3 hours, I was done. Because of this and my other 2 kinder experiences, I am not sure kinders are my forte.

I will stop there for now but have more on the way!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Bali, Indonesia

So Jeremy and I took a trip with our good friends Tyson and Angela to:
Bali, Indonesia

This is us arriving at the airport.

Here is a recap of our trip in the random order that Blogger has decided to upload them in. Bali was amazing and awesome all at the same time. I recommend it!

We went to a monkey preserve. They sell bananas for you to feed the monkeys but you are supposed to hide them and pull them out one by one so that you don't get bombarded with hungry, greedy monkeys. We missed that memo and the people who work there had to come and tell Jeremy and Tyson not to touch the monkeys even though they were crawling all over them. 

I am not an animal fan, generally, so I stayed away from the monkeys. However, that monkey not only photo bombed us but jumped on me uninvited!

 Scooters are the Balinese people's main source of transportation. You see them everywhere. Babies, children, teenagers and adults are all strapped to them and they just weave through traffic like it is no big thang. We rode in an SUV with a hired driver to remain safe. We would have killed ourselves on the scooters. They know what they are doing, they surround cars and weave in and out of the road, and traffic and steering wheels are on the wrong side. If we had tried to drive ourselves...whew. We would definitely be dumb Americans. We sat at a stop light at a large intersection discussing which road our driver was going to turn; we were all wrong.
 This is one of those countries where they carry large loads on their heads. It was unbelievable. There were plenty of people with bigger loads than this.
 Fruit Stand with real fruit grown there. This sounds normal to anyone who doesn't live on Guam. We  seem to only grow coconuts on Guam so it is rare to see a fruit stand.

 This is Jeremy's buddy. (It is a monkey at the Elephant preserve). He reached his hand out and held Jer's hand for a second but then he turned his back to him as if he wanted a back scratch. They could be twins.

 We rode this elephant. He almost took us swimming, which is part of the show but I was not thrilled. See comment about animals above.

We left our villa at 2AM, drove across the island to arrive at the base of the Batur Volcano at 4AM. We hiked for 2 hours straight up, I swear, but it was so that we could watch the sun rise! Beautiful! Check it out!

It was chilly at the summit and we had hot chocolate - which was probably Hersheys syrup in water. Then we hard boiled our breakfast (eggs) in the volcanic smoke. (It is still an active volcano.)

The rice paddies. They were beautiful!

                                      This is the beach behind our Villa. Black sand. Cool.
 They had temples everywhere. Buddhist and Hindu. They are obsessed with their temples and with making offerings to their Gods.  In fact, the workers at our villa made offerings everyday on our behalf. Offerings are these:

Banana leaves with various flowers in them. If they are on the ground, they are to keep the evil spirits away. If they are not on the ground they are an offering to the good gods. A typical family makes 25-50 offerings a day. They also put objects on themselves to show you that they are praying. I was trying to be courteous to a server at a restaurant in telling her that she had rice on her forehead. She informed me that she was praying. I thought she was messing with me but then I saw rice on other people too. I am going to use that the next time I get food on myself. :) 
 These were legit chicks. I don't know how they make them colored like that. We were told that they hatch colored.

OK, I think that this was a mans bathroom but I want to add that bathrooms in the world are not all created equal. Many bathrooms we went in did not have toilet paper and instead had a hose. Like, a bidet or washlet but not that sophisticated. What would happen is that a person, namely me, would go into a bathroom, would sit down, realize that there was no TP anywhere - not even a dispenser - and notice a hose, like the kind that you would use on your kitchen sink. This method does not come naturally and I usually left a mess of sprayed water everywhere. There were also toilets that had a bucket of water sitting next to them. There was scooper inside it. You apparently are supposed to "flush" by using water from the bucket to fill the toilet. I learned this after a few toilets where I walked away without flushing. This is a long paragraph but seriously, you don't even know the value of the simple toilet sitting in your bathroom right now. If you go somewhere that is third world country, ask for a "Western Toilet". You're welcome.
Our driver took us to his store (his wife runs a small open air shop). We met his wife and daughters, I am now friends with one of them on Facebook but can't understand the language that she posts things in. Our driver, Made (pronounced Maddie), also let the boys ride their scooters. 

 We did a cooking class one day and met these awesome people. There were 3 girls "on holiday" from Germany and Hungary, I think. One was taking a 2 week break. Another a month long break and the other was going to travel for 6 months, go back to Germany and have her job waiting for her! Crazy! We really enjoyed cooking with them. This was one of my favorite experiences.

This was Tyson's favorite activity: finding hot, spicy foods cooked by street vendors. This one was his favorite and cost 5000 Rupiah which was 40 cents USD. Food was so cheap there. I think one meal that we had was $7 USD total for 4 of us.

 Jeremy and Tyson went and swam with the Dolphins. This is hard to see from this camera. We weren't allowed to take pictures.

 Delicious. This was meat on a stick grilled right in front of us and the next picture is grilled corn on the cob. So yummy.

These are fish - eating the dead skin off your feet and legs. I did not particularly enjoy this because I don't like fish touching me. It felt like they were vibrating on my feet but I wouldn't look at them because I knew I would freak out. This takes time to get used to.

This was our view from the villa. We had a 3 bedroom villa with an outdoor eating area, which we ate at everyday. We had this pool all to ourselves and the Indian Ocean right out the back gate.

That is the link to Bali Diamond Estates to get a better idea of what the place looked like. The furniture was different and we were in the right part of the duplex but they were all pretty much the same. Our outside chairs were blue, instead of red, obviously.


 These are our good friends, Tyson and Angela Jensen from Tremonton, Utah. We partied at all hours of the day and night with them. This was a really amazing trip!

When we got home we gave our kids their gifts. These are traditional temple attire that the kids wear in Bali. They go to their temples daily and wear these clothes. We made our kids put them on. Cody really hated his.

 But they got over it.

 And the thing I think I missed the most (sorry kids) was cereal and milk. They do not have that there. I had a big bowl at 3pm when we got home. Jeremy said, "That looks so good." I am grateful to be an American!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Real, deep, and personal

First of all, I need a blogger tutor. I can't figure out how to make my family picture (at the top) centered and smaller so for now - BAM - there we are!

I guess since I posted a picture of our white family with a brown teenager (Mertina), I should update this blog. If you go back in history you can track our history with Mertina. She hadn't been to school for 4 years. We helped get her back in school, then something happened with her family and she ended up living with us since February. We are in the process of trying to get guardianship of her. She doesn't like for people to know her story so we are going to leave it at that. Suffice it to say that she fell through the cracks of society and the school system but we have gotten her back into the real world and now we have ourselves a real live teenager, complete with a fun but sassy attitude.

I think that I am ready to post about some personal things that have really been going on at my house. We have had a very rough few years and I am going to be very open about what has been happening here. I hope that maybe this post will help someone dealing with similar issues or at least help me to let go of the whole thing.

If you have ever heard me talk about Kaitlynn and school, you would know that she hates HATES it! She has hated it since Kindergarten and would have dramatic outbursts right after school almost everyday - for the last 3 years! At first I thought it was just because she was tired, or school was too long. I talked to her teachers who said that nothing was abnormal at school but she would come home and just blow up at me. Like scream, cry, yell, hit, etc for no logical reason. The word "homework" produced spectacular displays of anger and rage that could warrant a visit from Security Forces. So last year I decided to do something about it. After first grade I tried "homeschooling" over the summer. Cody had to do it too. Cody was like "whatever" and just got his worksheets done, no problem.
 Kaitlynn, on the other hand, would get in the fetal position and cry for 20 minutes to an hour EVERY DAY! I was like, "Oh no, kid. Not this time. We are going to do this everyday until you submit." She couldn't possibly cry all summer, right? I mean, eventually she would get used to the idea and just do it even if she hated it, right?   Psh! Joke's on me, I guess. Every flippin day all summer. I even took the homework with us on our visit to the states. At one point my dad came out from his soundproof office and said "everything okay out here?"
No. It's not. This child with and angel face is obviously possessed by a devil, can't you see?

So when real school started back up I was like, "See you later, kid. At least I get a 6 hour break even if you don't seem to be learning anything."

Things must have been escalating from last August until January but when you live with an abusive person, (I don't use that term lightly. She seriously was physically and emotionally abusive to me and Cody.) you maybe don't notice the progression. You just deal with the stress that each day brings. When Jeremy left with a week's notice in January of this year, I basically had a breakdown. I wouldn't go hang out with friends. I just stayed home and cried almost everyday. I wouldn't say that this was all because of Kaitlynn, I just felt very much out of control in my own life. I decided to take that huge trip to the states to try and help curb the sadness. I like being busy and there are few things that keep you busier than trying to catch a military flight across the Pacific Ocean and then a 12 hour drive to Idaho....and back.

When we got back, though, things were not better. Plus then Mertina had that thing happen to her and she needed somewhere to go. I wanted to help her. Jeremy came home from training and I was still a mess. I thought the depression was caused by him leaving but it wasn't, I guess.

After almost every other day experiencing severe fits of rage from Kaitlynn (That I recorded because I was starting to feel crazy having a 7 year old that I was afraid of.) I finally sought help. I realized that this was not normal, that it wasn't something that I could strong-arm my way through. She needed help. We needed help... And help was not coming. We live on a tiny island with one Child Psychologist on it. The wait to get in to her was a month. I remember that they called to ask if they could move our appointment back by another week. The secretary called right after a particularly difficult rage event and I begged BEGGED them not to move us back (after I stopped crying enough to gain some composure.) They said they couldn't and it was a really awkward conversation because I didn't want to hang up. So we managed to get through this horrible time where Kaitlynn didn't want to go to school and she wanted to kill me everyday after school.

We finally got to see the child psychologist. Whoa! She couldn't believe that we dealt with it for so long and said that they needed us to move to another location in the states where Kaitlynn could see a psychiatrist for therapy and medication. (By the time we had this first visit with the psych, I had started taking Prozac to help me.) When she said that we needed to move right away, I was like..."Um, I can't cry because of the Prozac but excuse me while I have an anxiety attack." My kid can't handle her life as it is and you want us to move back across the world? - not to mention, I have this teenager who has nowhere to go and we don't have guardianship of her yet. I actually managed to shed some tears after I left her office but I could tell that the Prozac had me numb.

While we were waiting to see the psychologist, I had been to every doctor at our clinic and no doctor was willing to prescribe Kaitlynn medicine until the psychologist said it was ok. Now that the psych was on board, I could start some medication for her. I was not opposed but not an advocate of medicating children before all this but I would have done ANYTHING to help her and I started to see that there are situations where medication is warranted for us and for others.

So fast forward a few months. Kaitlynn has had a learning disability test (8 hour test) to figure out what is wrong. She has been diagnosed with:
Generalized mood disorder (This is similar to depression but she is also defiant, which doesn't usually accompany depression so it is a mood disorder.)
Anxiety  and
ADHD (During the test she was hanging upside down in her chair, swinging her hair around. Boo-yah! Classic diagnosis.)

So here we are. Mental illness runs in my family. Specifically, depression and bi-polar. My sister and brother, and mother were/are bipolar. I know how these crazy people are - and that is probably not PC but seriously, they act so illogically and inconsistently that either they are crazy or I am. I have been met with skeptical family members who believe that society is so quick to diagnosis children with some sort of problem. Maybe that is true, maybe it isn't. I have read my sister's journals and I believe that maybe she could have been helped with medication or therapy for bi-polar rather than my parents just believing that she was so difficult to raise. I have also lived this myself as the parent. It sucks! It is hard. I don't understand it. I felt so hopeless for so long that I just accepted that Kaitlynn and I would never have a good relationship. It was horrible.

About a week after she started medication, I heard her singing in her room - SINGING! She hadn't done that in...I don't know how long. She started coming to tell Jeremy and I that she loved us. The rage outbursts subsided and I could see that my determination to "work it out myself" hindered the opportunity for her to feel better and happier.

Currently, with her medications working (for the most part) we are staying on Guam until our scheduled move date this coming June. Because we have a diagnosis, are receiving the therapy that is available here, and Mertina's papers are being worked on, I feel happier and am getting back to my normal self. I am almost weaned from the Prozac, (which is an amazing drug, and I was so grateful to have it.) and we might just survive this whole thing.

I could blog about how to deal (and what not to do) with a foster teenager who has been neglected as well, but I will save that for another time. The moral of the lengthy story is...if something doesn't feel right for you, your kids, or spouse  - or your life isn't joyful, seek out help. There is an amazing world out there to experience. Sometimes I think you have to fight to find it. Don't wait for 3 tough, frustrating, abominable years to pass before you realize that there is a better life out there.

So to end on a positive note, I will add some random pictures hoping that will make you all feel happier.

Kaitlynn and Mertina

Mertina and her BFF Darnarie

I find selfies on my phone all the time.

Grandma came to visit and exhausted all of us by wanting to go to the beach every day.

Jeremy and I at his award ceremony. He got a cool award from the Army (He is in the Air Force so an Army medal is pretty cool.)

Jeremy on top of our friend Tyson. They are tight.

Cody and Kaitlynn after ziplining.


Take your kid to work day. We are in a dump truck.

These are the cool tools that Jeremy works with in Red Horse.

Mertina, me, Darmarie getting ready for our Cinco de Mayo Party.