Sunday, December 25, 2005

Merry Christmas - I guess

Diane and I went to a movie - then got some sushi. This isn't the worst christmas ever, but it is up there in the top 2. Plus I have to work - things at work have been blowing up, and I'm spending all my holiday days working as well.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Too quiet

The boys took off to see their mother in Albuquerque for Christmas, and it is already too quiet around here. We did finally put up the christmas tree, but that was it. I hate looking at it this year - there were no presents under it until we got a package from my sister. The boys present from Diane and I was the tickets out to see their mother, and with finances tight we said we weren't getting each other anything. I've had to endure christmas without the kids before, but it was always up in MN with Diane's family before we were married. Now we don't even have that, just us two, alone.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Choose-Out Letter

One of the processes when a teen "chooses out" is they have to write a choose-out letter home - which we got today. In the letter Katie was fairly down on herself - I don't think you get nearly the good feeling you get graduating choosing out. We sent her our nametags from the seminar, and are hoping these might help to inspire her a bit. At home it just doesn't feel much like the holidays this year. We still haven't gotten the tree up, nor any decorations. With the boys going to be gone, it will be the first year without any family from either side for Diane and I, and we aren't looking forward to it.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Choosing Out

Well, a big disappointment. I talked to our family rep tonight for our bi-weekly call, and Katie "choose out" of her Orientation seminar this past weekend. For the kids, they don't fail the seminars - instead they put in an accountable framework - and they choose not to stay in the seminars. I guess she has another shot at it in February. They don't do any of the seminars over the holidays, so it bumps the bi-monthly schedule back a bit.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Discovery Graduates

WOW!!!! again - WOW!!!! Well, we are Discovery graduates. I don't know fully how to describe this - it is simply amazing. The weekend was unbelievable. And now I feel fantastic. Tired, but pumped and excited. I really enjoyed the whole thing. Diane had some problems with some of the exercises, I feel that she got caught up on the mechanics, and missed the lesson. In some ways I so want to talk about everything we did - but that could spoil the experience for anyone else who might go through it. And the key for this is not the final lessons - but the experience. They call it experiential training - and it is a process, not an end point. We have signed up for Focus - the next seminar, in January, and I for one am very excited about it.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Discovery Tomorrow

We flew up to Chicago and then took a shuttle to our room. We have talked with a couple on the BBS about meeting for dinner, but we don't have any idea what they look like, when they will be in or anything. The hotel isn't all that great, but from the schedule it doesn't look like we will be spending much time in it anyway, so not a big deal. I am still a little bit bummed out about the timing of this weekend though. I had tickets to go see TransSiberian Orchestra on Sunday, and it still bothers me that I can't go this year. Katie has her orientation seminar this weekend as well - we are hoping she does well there.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Discovery Cometh

We head off to Chicago on Thursday for Discovery. We are a bit apprehensious about this - we have absolutely no idea what we are in for. Diane is a bit more nervous than I am. Everyone says it will be great, but that doesn't really allay our fears. Katie is still working, and getting ready for her Orientation. I hope she does well, it will be nice to see her start progressing. Thanksgiving wasn't too bad. But we really aren't in the Christmas mood yet. We still haven't put up a tree - and we usually do that the weekdend after thanksgiving. I'm taking my bonus and using it to buy the boys airline tickets to go see their mother - they haven't seen her in over three years, and they need to. Plus they have never seen one of their half brothers. I'm very frustrated there as well, as their mother said she was going to pay for it, but didn't. So it looks like it will just be Diane and me home alone for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Getting ready for Thanksgiving

Been very hectic. Diane took her daughter to Vegas for her 21st birthday to celebrate, and won't be back until Thursday, leaving me to get the turkey ready all by myself. Not a big deal, but it is tiring. In her letters she is talking a lot about working the program, but is still not doing it. It is interesting - they won't let her wear her hair in her face at all any more. She is finally in a full uniform - only took close to two months. It is funny, she is complaining about all the drama in her group - yet she is the queen of drama. It will be hard to have Thanksgiving without her, but we will get by.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Any progress is good news.

Katie finally said happy birthday, only a month late. But at least she is trying. She needs more underwear and socks and bras - things her mother said she was going to help with and send. So I guess it is time to make another box and ship it off. Oh, and shoes. She left with her 'chucks' as she calls them, and needs more shoes. She also sent a huge collection of home drawn cards - at least she is exercising the artistic side of herself a bit. And then the big news - she finally worked her way out of Orange! She is also starting to lose some weight, and that is a great thing. She is finally scheduled for Orientation - the same time as when we are in Discovery. So things are finally looking up a bit.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Keeping up with the news

It is hard writing every week when the letters take so long to get there and come back - they end up being disjointed. In each one you end up responding to things that are by then weeks old. But I do try. I tell here recent news around the home. Her brother is going on the 8th grade Washington DC trip - the same one she got pulled from the year before because of ending up in the hospital. Everyone on the BBS system for the school keeps saying that we need to go to Discovery, and we are looking forward to it, even though it is 4 weeks away.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


Got her letter today. Of course it is a week old. Have I said how much I hate snail mail? She has a bit of frustration in it - frustration at still being in orange on on staff buddy, frustration at seeing other girls get into their full uniforms, frustration at herself. On and on. And then the tone switches. She says she wants to do this, but the proof is in her actually doing it.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Nearing Halloween

Things at home are quite hectic. The new roof is finished, but the computer died, so I have to write her on my work PC (you don't want to have to read my handwriting). I have been a bit shocked at the amount of demerits that she is getting - 1400 in one week. Is she trying to set a record or what? I talked to Katie's mom - who claims she has been out of town and will write to her. She hasn't written to Katie since she got to the school. My mom also wrote Katie a letter, which I added to mine. I don't know when she will start working the program, but they keep saying that they will progress at their own pace.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Letter update

The final oriententation phone call. These last two assignments weren't bad. One was to register for Discovery - we did that. The second was to go over what violations Katie would have made in the last three months at home, had she been in the program. Whoa, but she would have racked up a huge amount of demerits. But who am I kidding, she IS racking up a huge amount of demerits already.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Final Orientation

The final oriententation phone call. These last two assignments weren't bad. One was to register for Discovery - we did that. The second was to go over what violations Katie would have made in the last three months at home, had she been in the program. Whoa, but she would have racked up a huge amount of demerits. But who am I kidding, she IS racking up a huge amount of demerits already.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Crayon Letter

Interesting. Must be because she is in staff buddy - the lowest level at the school where she has to be with a staff member at all times, but her letters are in crayon. I got one this weekend. She is already learning a lot of the program language - but she is obviously not following it, as she is still not our of her orange jumpsuit yet. She did try a little manipulation in her letter - about not being worth the money we are spending on the school. But I'm not going to let that stop us - Diane and I know this is for the best.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Slow mail

I have not heard back from Katie for a while. Using snail mail is sure slow - it looks like it takes a full week for us to get her letters. I wrote her again, giving her more family news. Diane and I have also signed up for Discovery - this is the first of several seminars for parents. It is in Chicago on December 2nd. Looks interesting. Of course, that means I have to sell my Trans-Siberian Orchestra tickets that I got for my birthday, as it is the same weekend, and there is no way I can get back from Chicago in 1 hour to make the concert on Sunday night. Katie managed to screw up my birthday last year too. It may be childish, but I am feeling a bit resentful of her for it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

More Parent Orientation

We continued with the parent orientation. Chapter 3's assignment was to sign and send off a commitment letter - stating that Katie was in the program until she graduated, period. Chapter four was to log onto the bulletin board and make a post. I did that last week already, once I got access. The board is a little cliquish - there seem to be small groups that talk a lot, and it is hard to get in on those. Also, it is only our school, we can't see the boards for other schools. Plus there is a board to announce parent support group meetings - but nothing is being announced in ohio - bummer.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Finally had a chance to talk with her therapist. He seems like a real good guy. His first impression of Katie - "she is a trip". I think that is a clinical term :-). It does help a little bit to get some validation that hey, maybe we aren't crazy and she really can use this. So now we are on a weekly schedule, one week with the therapist, the next week with the family representative. Plus I'm doing the parent orientation on the phone. It has gone from no information to quite a lot very quickly. I'm feeling a lot more comfortable about all of this now at least.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Parent Orientation

I started my parent orientation with the parent co-ordinator. This is a series of phone calls to help get me familiar with the program, and review the Parent Orientation Handbook. Kara is nice and able to answer several of my questions - and then at the end she gives me homework. Just like in school - oh joy. I have to write up a full description as to why we put Katyln in the program for chapter 1, and for chapter 2 I had to describe what happened when she didn't get her way, and how she handled it, as well as what techniques she used to get her way. Interesting reflection on things.

Monday, October 03, 2005

My answer

I wrote her back. Most of my letter was simply news from home, what is going on in everyone's life here. I wanted her to know she is still part of the family, but also what she is missing out on. I told her how sharing love just makes it grow, and that when I remarried it did not mean I loved her any less. And I wrote about how small she was when she was born, and what a fighter she was in the ICU struggling to breath for her first few hours of life. I think about that a lot, the image of my newborn daughter, still covered with blood from her birth, laying in an oxygen tent as we waited to see if she would live. I feel a bit of that again now - waiting to see if she is going to choose life over the self-destructive path she was on.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The first letter

I finally get my first letter from Katie. Very brief, but filled with a bunch of attempts to induce guilt. Lines like "I guess now you can have a happier time with your wife" - made me want to tear my heart out, and at the same time made me angry at the manipulation I felt behind it. It is also very frustrating that letters take a week to get here - this was dated 9/24 - the day after she arrived. It will be really hard to keep up any kind of corespondence with that big of gaps in it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

One Day at a Time

We finally get some of the loan information in - I sign the paperwork and fax it back. So I know exactly how far in debt I am now, but we still don't know exactly what the monthly payments will be. All this, plus having to get the new roof and gutters, and I'm not expecting much of a raise (again). Diane is going to have to start selling a lot of houses!
Things start to return to normal in the house as well. The youngest boy moves into Katie's room (no reason for two boys to share a room with an empty bedroom next door) - but I'm having a real hard time cleaning out her stuff.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Just Breathe

I've heard the advise before, and given it myself many times, but so often we forget this in the middle of a crisis, or when we are overwhelmed. Just Breathe. In and Out. A couple of deep breaths and everything becomes much clearer.
We finally talked to our family rep, she seems very nice. The plan is to talk to her every two weeks, alternating with Katie's therapist. Our regular calls then with the rep will be on Thursdays. She says to expect to get in a Parent Orientation Guide in the next few days, this will help explain a lot. In addition, the Parent Co-ordinator will be talking with us, and going over the guide with us as well.
I explain to the FR about the package on the way, and she says not to worry, she will be fine until it gets there. Katie is fine and safe. She is also quite angry, and doesn't know why she is there. Katie is in Orange - basically orange colored scrubs to designate the lowest and most restrictive level. She is not allowed to talk to anyone else in orange, and must be with a buddy at all times. She scared her 'hope buddy' (another, higher level girl) by not responding at all (the older girl had this happen with another girl who had actually gone catatonic - so this really upset her), so Katie is on 'staff buddy' - meaning she has to have a staff member present with her at all times.

Friday, September 23, 2005


Try as we might, we couldn't sleep. The time seemed to tick by so slowly. At last we saw a car pull up across the street. A couple got out, we opened the door and greeted them. First they got her backpack. They wouldn't take the suitcase, that would have to be shipped. I noticed the handcuffs on their belts.

I took them upstairs, woke Katie up, and they introduced themselves to her. I then went back downstairs. In about fifteen minutes they all came down, and they took her directly to the car, putting her in the backseat. I bent over the front seat to say goodbye - she doesn't say a word and pulls away, shooting daggers from her eyes straight into my heart.

We double checked the paperwork, including letters from both me and her mom to be given to her enroute. And then they drove off. As they go, we suddenly realized that she was wearing her flip/flops and didn't have her tennis shoes - but it was too late to stop them.

We got a few hours sleep. The house was very quiet. Diane got the boys off to school, letting them know what happened. I was still off work, so I spent the morning getting everything together and shipped off a box for her with clothes and bedding - and her sneakers.

The house was strangely quiet - yet there was a feeling of relief in the air as well. I waited through the day, finally getting a call that they had dropped her off, and had no problems traveling. The school should be calling soon.

It is senior night at the football game, so we had to go and get pictures taken with my oldest son. Of course, this is when the school calls - she was safe, she was very angry (not unexpected) - and where are her shoes? They will call back on Monday.

My head is swimming. So much, so fast. They said I got the loan - where is it, how much is the payment? What next? What do we do now? I know she is safe, I know this is for the best, but I still am lost.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

T-1 and counting . . .

It took some effort to get all the paperwork together. We contacted a transport company - and borrowed some money from one of Diane's friends to pay for it. During the day on Wednesday Katie wanted to go back to her old middle school to visit her teachers. She didn't know she was saying goodbye.

Things were in motion. I was scared. I was having doubts. They were coming to get her tomorrow. So I asked her to go to bed at the same time as her brothers. She had a meltdown. One of her biggest. I ended up restraining her for well over an hour - it was only because of biology that she finally gave in - so that she could go to the bathroom - though the door must remain open with me outside of it. She then finally went to bed - I sat outside her door until she was asleep.

Diane had been talking to the boys during this - letting them know that we were resolving the situation - just wait a bit. We put the dog in his cage. At about 10:00 we headed to bed with the alarm set for 2 am. We couldn't sleep even though we were exhausted. And the clock slowly ticked on.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Now what do we do?

The tension in the house went up immediately. Diane stayed in our room, so she didn't have to encounter her. Katie slept all morning every day that week, and I didn't try to wake her early. I spent a lot of time on the phone. Kris Webster, from teenhelp called me, and we started talking. I filled out an application, and we got approved for a loan. We just beat the deadline to get her into Tranquility Bay in Jamaica, as they are no longer going to make loans to schools outside the US. But on further research, I decided that I'm not ready to send her out of the country. That leaves Cross Creek that has therapy programs.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Picking her up

Before picking her up, I looked desperately everywhere for help. I found a couple of sites to ask for information and I ask. I sent off a few emails. I called work, and told them I'm taking a week off (luckily I had plenty of vacation time saved up).
I drove to Indianapolis to pick Katie up at the airport. Her mother has only told her that she was coming back for a visit - even though she didn't know her return flight she thoughts she was going back. The drive was not too bad. It didn't take me long to notice the scars on her hands, which she had tried to cover up with makeup. She had been cutting again.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Phone Calls

I enjoy playing games with miniature figures - so I entered a local tournament. Then my cell phone starts ringing. And ringing. It is my ex, and then her mother, and then Katie, and then my ex again. Things aren't working out suddenly. From good to horribly bad instantly. She is coming home. No discussion, she can't handle her any more. She has supposedly stolen over $1500 from her mother. In the end, she was being put on a plane the next day to come home. And I didn't have any idea what to do. The irony is I won the tournament. Yipee. Now what do I do?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Summer 2005

The house was quiet. It was peaceful. There wasn't constant fighting and yelling. And when I talked to Katie on the phone - things were going great at her mom's. She was helping out at her mom's work and helping to take care of her three half-brothers. I got one call when she was frustrated, and knew that things weren't quite as rosey as they sounded.

She got enrolled in school there. Got involved in the local church. Was an assistant on the volleyball team. Again things sounded good. She wasn't going to use the return ticket home.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Winter 2005

Katie was in school, but wasn't going to class. Every day she would spend time in the nurses office, or in the counselors office. I was getting called at work about her every week.

In April, she grabbed her pills and took a double dose. Not knowing how dangerous this was or not, we called 911. They took her to the hospital again, and this time admitted her to another treatment center on the north side of town - a forty-five minute drive to visit her every day, sometimes twice for therapy. They did not have any halfway program - she left there and went straight back to school.

The calls kept coming. Every day was getting worse. Then the school called one last time. If she can't stay in class, she can't be in school - she is just too disruptive. She had done enough work to be promoted, but she wasn't allowed back that year.

Her mom said she would take her. I wasn't at all sure about this, but I had no other alternative at the time. So she flew out to Albuquerque, with a return ticket in August.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Fall 2004

"Dad, I need a ride home".
"Ok, where are you?"
"At the hospital"
"Why are you at the hospital?"
"Christie is here - she won't wake up"

And with that we discovered she had been huffing lysol. Her friend did wake up a bit later, and they laughed about it. I wasn't laughing. We had been on waiting lists to get her in some therapy, but we couldn't wait any more. We called a local youth treatment center, took her in for evaluation, and they admitted her. She admitted to drinking a lot, and being around pot (getting contact highs but never smoking). She admitted to stealing money from Diane's purse and from her brothers. She got out of the treatment, and moved into the half day program for a few weeks. We got her in to see a psychiatrist and therapist, and he started monitoring her depression medicine.

We thought things were working, but a few weeks later she had a complete meltdown, threatening suicide. She was so out of control that we ended up calling 911 - they took her back to the hospital and admitted her again. Modifying her meds, they rushed her back out because my insurance was about up (only allowing 30 days lifetime for mental health inpatient treatment).

We kept her going to therapy, but things are home were not getting better. Eventually Diane had to completely break off any contact with her - they existed in the same house but did not speak, to avoid them only yelling. We thought it might help to have her visit her mother for Christmas, so we sent her for a couple of weeks. It didn't change much - and she came back and things were the same.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Spring - Summer 2004

Diane gets a job as a secretary, but tries to spend as much time as she can with the kids. They are getting old enough, and finances are tight enough, that I finally take the youngest ones completely out of day care before and after school. Katie is in girl scouts, and seems to have some friends, one of whom is in her younger brother's gifted program. But tensions are starting to rise at home. Their mother suddenly calls out of the blue but that call disconnects quickly. Katie does a *69 and gets the number and her mother claims that her cell phone dropped the call. She starts talking to the kids, sometimes every day.

When school gets out, we realize that Katie is too old for any program to go to, and too young to get a job. She ends up spending most of the time with her friends. I don't care for the 'Goth' look to several of them, but they do seem polite and nice. Katie is getting more volatile with everyone else, but her relationship with me is still pretty good. Then I get that fateful phone call.

Monday, August 01, 2005

In the beginning . . .

There was void and the earth was without form. Oh, not that far back. Something relevant. I was first married on July 25th, 1987. My first son was born in February of the next year, and we moved to Ohio. Katie was born in July of 1990, followed by two brothers in 1992 and 1994. It was in 1994 that the next door neighbor went to jail for eight counts of Gross Sexual Imposition involving her and three other girls (including his own granddaughter).

Thanksgiving of 1997, and my marriage was breaking up. I stayed in a hotel for a couple of weeks, then came home and the soon to be ex took the too younger boys the Florida for Christmas. Superbowl weekend came, and a big blowup.

On January 27th, 1998 the sherriff showed up at work to get my keys, telling me I couldn't go home. I had been accused of domestic violence. Five months later I finally saw my kids again. Two months later my ex gives me custody of Katie and her older brother, and she moves to Albuquerque with the two younger boys and her boyfriend. I see the younger boys for two hours at Christmas. June 8 1999 the divorce is final, I am given custody of all four kids - I fly to Albuquerque to pick up the younger two as soon as their school is out.

May of 2002 I buy my first house, and June 7 2003 I marry Diane. She moves down from Minneapolis to Dayton a month later. There are (understandably) some rocky times, but things seem to go well. The kids haven't heard from their mother in over a year - she claimed to have moved. Life goes on.