Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Two steps forward, one step back

I talked to Katie and her counselor on our bi-weekly call. Unfortunately she seems to be slipping back a bit, though at least she recognizes it.
Everyone says not to get caught up in levels or points or advancement. It just gets hard hearing how it seems that everyone else is moving on, and getting invitations to PC1, and knowing it will be at least July before that can happen (since she has choosen out of Discovery next month already, then the earliest she could finish it is June). I miss her, and I'm worried about paying for the next year, or even the year after that.
She is still resisting the program. She gets written up for things like not cleaning or not following directions. She isn't in Orange, but she is still level 1 and not going anywhere.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Forums - finally

We have finally got forums set up. Please go and register and share your experiences and your issues with your teen. This is not program specific, so you can to talk to people at any school. ParentHelp Forums

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Site improvements coming

One of my major goals has been to expand this beyond just me (and occasionally Diane) sounding off into the dark. And that is finally one step closer to fruition. The new BBS for this site has been created. At this point it kind of looks like crap, as nothing has yet been set up (default across the board), but it is almost to the point where I can start to play with it to get it set up!! So watch this space, and soon there will be forums for people to discuss the issues they are having, ask questions, and share what is happening in their lives.


Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Two steps forward, One step back

I had our bi-weekly call with the family rep yesterday, and (as always) it went well. Katie is doing well in school, that isn't an issue for her. It should never have been, she is a very smart girl, just unfocussed there. This past week has been rough for her, falling back a bit into old habits. She didn't get her Discovery homework done in time, so chose out of the next Discovery in April. She talked to her therapist, and asked if there was a way she could do extra work and get back in, and he said no. She went all the way to the head of the program but still got the same answer - that she would have to live with the results she created - no one was going to rescue her any more.
She took it hard, but this is such a pattern in her life - not doing something then trying to avoid any consequences for it. Well she is definitely in the right place to learn that actions and choices have consequences - good or bad.
I think she is most upset because on Friday, during our therapy call, she really started to go on about missing me, and missing home. It has been long enough that this is definitely starting to sink in. I plan to write her and let her know that she has to work her program to get the results she wants. It is hard to think that she won't be in Discovery before June, which means that there is no possibility of us seeing her before July or August, and that only if she doesn't choose out again. It really looks like she might be there a full year before we see her again.
One good note - she has lost 37 pounds so far! She actually weighs less than I do right now!!! That is wonderful. Just the fact that she is back into 'normal' sizes - so that when she does come home we will actually be able to find clothes for her to wear.


Monday, March 13, 2006

One down, Four to go

Diane and I attended our first "Keys to Success" seminar this past weekend, "Being in Relationship". It was really good. Not nearly as powerful as Discovery or Focus, but I expected that, being only two day seminars instead of 3 and 4 days, respectively.
I really enjoy these - it is great seeing the other the other parents, and this was a bit more interesting as people who had previously been staff for our seminars were now attending these instead. Kind of like the first time you saw a teacher in the supermarket or anywhere outside of school - it is weird the first time to see them as ordinary people.
One thing we have learned is that you can't plan anything during the seminar - from when it starts to when it ends just keep thinking of yourself as in the seminar. For both Discovery and Focus we tried to plan dinner with other couples - doesn't work. We have thought that next time it might be fun to see who can come in early, and maybe go out the night before (right now we are thinking about seeing Blue Man Group).
I had a therapy call Friday afternoon with Katie that went well. I had to tell her that her grandmother had died in December, and she handled it really well I think. I waited so long because her mother wanted to tell her (it was her side of the family) - but she never did - and Katie deserved to know. I'll talk to the family rep tomorrow night and see how she did with it this weekend.

Friday, March 10, 2006


In my last letter to Katie, I mentioned in her life story that she didn't mention the lying or stealing. Well I got a letter today admitting both, though I don't know how 'factual' it is. She didn't mention her mother in it, and said she had stolen over $100 from her younger brothers - which I find hard to believe because they never had that much missing. But the amounts don't matter as much as that she is coming clean with it.
Tomorrow we head to our first Keys to Success seminar. I sure hope I feel better, or it will be an exceptionally loooong drive to Chicago. I am looking forward to the seminar however - so far they have always left me with such a strong feeling - the seminar high. I also look forward to talking to one of the members of my focus family - she visited her facility this week after what she read in 'that book', and I'm very anxious to find out what she found out.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A bit nervous...

Well, it's Thursday 3/9/06 and tomorrow Mike and I drive to Chicago for our third seminar. He's been sick the last couple of days so I hope he's up for the trip and the stress of the seminar.

He's been good at doing homework, but I haven't. I feel very nervous about being confronted about it by Lou. With my focus family call on Tuesday, it seems over half have their homework done and are really working it. When Mike and I tried to discuss it last week, I got real defensive and I'm not sure why. I've been wracking my brain trying to figure out why I am having such a hard time with it this time. Well, to be honest, I haven't been real good at any of the homework. Is it because she's my "step" daughter and not a blood relative? Mike says to "do it for the family" and I understand what he's saying, but for some reason I still don't want to do it. I don't know. Just not feeling very worthy lately, though other parts of my life are doing well. Hope I can get this figured out.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Talked with Katie's therapist today. He sounds like a great guy. He actually called early because he needed to move our appointment. I was at the store, but called back when I got home.
First I discussed telling Katie about her grandmother. He agreed she needed to know, and we wouldn't wait for her mother to call. So I'll do this on Friday when we have our counseling call.
I then talked to him about his credientials. BS from BYU, MS from UNLV, both on Social Work, and fully licensed by the state of Utah. Personally, I feel that a Social Work degree is a bit weaker than a psychology one, (kind of like an MIS degree vs. Computer Science degree), but some of the best therapist I've had were social workers. But he does have credentials. We talked about the book, and he remembers something about the visit, but doesn't remember if he talked to her or not.
He did say that because of the therapy, their program was different than all the others, and they had to have state licensing that other schools did not. The others were just behavior modification programs, not residential treatment centers. Of course, he also said that while Katie was making progress, she was "quite a project" - yet another of those highly technical terms.
Diane and I talked, and we feel better. I'm very curious how my friend that told me about the book is doing, and what she will find out at her school.


Monday, March 06, 2006

The Book

Well I finished 'the book'. It is Help at Any Cost by Maia Szalavitz. I have very mixed feelings about this. But I did want to start this as a source of information for other parents in similiar situations.

The author is very strongly against any of the 'tough love' programs, and focuses on three of them, one of which is the association to which my daughters school belongs. She is going to Cross Creek Manor - which of all the places she talked about came out the most favorable. It does have certified therapist working with the girls (and boys in the other side). Which is also why it is the most expensive.

If my daughter were out of the country I would be much more concerned. In fact, we first looked at Jamaica because of the significantly reduced cost, but decided against it.

There are other alternatives out there - but these are difficult to find, and even more difficult to get information on - again why I started this. So as a source of information this book is out there.

I don't agree with some of it. I have attended both Discovery and Focus - two of the seminars that the schools provide, and have read her report on a couple who left in the middle of them. I would challenge the author to keep a truly open mind, and try experiencing these herself before declaring how damaging they are. I did not see some of the things described here, and where the seminars do work to question your values, they do not attempt to impose any on you.

I do believe that the seminars are valuable, and I'm heading to my third this weekend. I think my daughter is in a good program, and while there are questions, the growth I can hear in my daughter leads me to still believe I have made the right decision.


Saturday, March 04, 2006


I picked up and am reading the book "Help at Any Cost" by Maia Szalavitz. I'm not halfway through yet - but it is an expose' on the "tough love" program - including the one my daughter is in. I haven't gotten to the part about her program yet, and I'm not looking forward to it. One of the members of my focus family pointed me to this book - she is going to her program this weekend to question them directly about it.

I'm very mixed on this, as at this point I don't know what I would have ever done with Katie except what we did. We could not control her, and the therapy she was in wasn't helping. I really hate second guessing myself about things as well.

But at least I seem to be able to get some of the old information up. It isn't quite the way I want it (would be nice to all be blog entries), but it is 'close enough for government work'

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Darn Tools

Stupid computer tools. I went in and re-wrote some of the links and added pages for prior months, so that even though I didn't start this until January, I could put in old entries for September through December. But as soon as I used the tool, it overwrote all I had done darnnit. Have to find a way around that - there is probably a file that controls this I'll have to hack a bit.
Well, I got links that will do what I want, but managed to lose all I had written about in September - but it is still on my home PC. I'll have to fix that tonight. *sigh*

Getting better . . . one day at a time

Had our weekly call with the parent rep last night. It was good. She wanted to emphasize how much improvement she was seeing in Katlyn, although she is still not making progress. She did not get voted up to level 2 yet. She is still struggling with the rules - getting written up for things like not cleaning her room, talking when she shouldn't, etc. It is huge improvements over when she started, but she has such a long way to go.
I get a bit frustrated (which is my problem, not hers) listening to other parents whose kids are going through much faster. One family who we have met at the seminars had their daughter go in the same time as Katie, and she just graduated Discovery. Katie is hoping to go to Discovery next month, but she had procrastinated on her homework to prepare for it - and if she didn't have it ready by her meeting this morning then she wouldn't be going this round at all. I want her to succeed and graduate, but I do worry about he cost. Not right now, but when we have to take out the second loan for September (assuming that we can get the loan). If we don't get a loan then we will be hurting big time. And the references aren't happening yet either.
On a more positive note, met the Dayton / Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky support group this past weekend - this group is even bigger than the Columbus one we went to the previous weekend. Several of the people there will also be at our Keys seminar next weekend, which is good as well. I think there they break you out regionally, not randomly like the others. But we'll see. Not looking forward to the drive back and forth to Chicago, but flights didn't come down in price this time - and we can't afford $600 for plane tickets. That is one expense we did not anticipate - attending these seminars in Chicago every other month. By the time we are done it will have been 7 weekends (one of those 3 days, one 4) in Chicago, two in Utah and one in California. *sigh*.