Friday, December 28, 2007

Weekly update

I had a call with 'A' last night, and Katie is still doing well. She is still a little over excited after the pass, and they are watching that to make sure it doesn't go back into old patterns.

Looks like we will know by January 15th if she is going to be level 5 in time for PC3 in February, or we will be doing PC2 the weekend before instead. One thing is that PC2/3 comes with another 3 day pass - and there really isn't any way we can do that as well - that would actually put us gone for 8 days (3 days for the seminar, 3 for the pass, 2 for travel). Not really doable, though we will look into maybe adding a day before/after for a pass.

Katie has over 1000 pts (needs 1600), and needs her staffing credit, which they are going to schedule for her this week I believe, and then support for level 5 of course.

We are going to talk again after the PC about putting her through the opposite side of the process that she was on before. This is where other girls were going into Orange for things she did - now we want to have her go into Orange for what someone else does. I see this as beneficial for two reasons - the first and most important is to make sure she can deal with setbacks. So far every time she has hit a bump in the road she has completely derailed and blown it, and we want to make sure she can handle this. The second is to simply give her a chance to see the other side. I mentioned to 'A' that you do learn a lot being on the other side of any process, and she agreed.

'A' went and checked Katie's weight - she is currently 240, down 31 lbs since she came in. Not the 175 she claimed, which we knew was not realistic, but still that is good. I think she may have grown a bit taller as well, as she is big but not huge. When Katie and Diane went shopping for some jeans she was able to find and fit a pair of 20's right off the wrack - which she had never been able to do before.

We also talked about the religion issue a bit, and Katie had led 'A' to believe that we were Mormon - she never told her that it was just her mom, and she had just been baptised in the Mormon church right a month or so before she got there, and that only a few months after being baptised in the Baptist church.

So a good call, and more progress.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Back at Home

We are home, and I'm back at work (such fun), but luckily it is always very slow between Christmas and New Year here.

The pass with Katlyn went great! She and Diane had a real nice girls time, doing some shopping for her. Katie was so happy to be able to go and pick a pair of jeans right off the rack and have them fit without problems! I'm going to have 'A' check to see exactly how much weight she has lost in the program - Katie is saying 175 lbs but that is not realistic (it would mean that she was either over 350 going in, or is now less than 125, and neither of those is true).

We had some good conversations, and even had the opportunity to deal with some issues at the St. George mall, which was good. One thing that was very powerful, which we almost forgot but remembered Sunday afternoon, was for Katie to do an exercise with letting go of her mother. She wrote her a letter, then tied it to a balloon and released it. A lot of tears, but watching it float off into the moonlight was pretty powerful, and she said that she really felt like a bit burden was lifted from her.

We managed to do just about everything on her list for her pass, including all the food all the girls wanted her to eat for them (with pictures for her to show them!). She said that all the girls were so excited to smell the chlorine in her hair when she went back on Saturday night after we had gone swimming!

Then it was over. All to quick, but a very good visit. We can actually see the beautiful young woman that would be welcome back in our home in the future.

Now we just hope this inspires her to keep working.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Mid Pass Update

I'm sitting in our hotel room in the metropolis of Hurricane, UT, trying to keep from eating some of the snacks we brought. Katie and Diane are out having some girl time - doing some shopping and getting their hair done.

The pass is going very well. 'A' brought Katie down yesterday morning, and she was really surprised to see us. She came down with a friend she has made here - a very sweet girl a little younger than she is who just got voted up to level 6 and is working on graduating, probably in February. We went to breakfast and then drove up to check out where Zion National Park was and get some pictures from the La Verkin overlook (the temperature isn't too cold, but the wind was pretty chilly). I was worried about getting back in time (I hate unfamiliar areas), and ended up getting a speeding ticket on the way back - and of course was only a couple of miles away at that point and still we were a little early.

We went to a group session, and all the girls in Katie's group were so sweet and all wanted to talk to us and get/give hugs. At times it is really hard to picture them (and Katie as well) in the behaviours that got them there - they all seem so sweet and wonderful when you meet them.

We caught a movie (ps. I love you) - a real chick flick and Katie was just crying through the last half of it - but she really liked it. Then dinner and back for the evening. We picked her up this morning and they are now off doing their thing.

So things are going well. 'B' did tell us that to expect yesterday and today (and maybe tomorrow) a 'honeymoon' phase - but we are trying to work on some real issues - which is why it is so important for Katie and Diane to spend time together.

Friday, December 14, 2007


So it is time to get ready. In a week we will see Katie again, for the first time in 14 months, and for her first off-grounds pass. We pick her up at 8:00 am and have to have her back by 8:00 pm for three days. The first day we will be attending one of her group therapy sessions, and then have a family session with the therapist. But after that it is completely up to us. We do have to have a goal for the pass.

That is always one of the frustrations I have with some of the seminars - it is very common to want us to have goals for the seminars when they begin - yet for most of these I have no idea beforehand what the seminar is - so I don't have a way to set a goal for it.

Katie is still doing well. She has only two requirements left to hit level 5 - she has to start staffing other seminars (and they are going to start going over staffing assignments after Christmas), and she needs to earn enough points. Right now she has 1/4 of the points she needs, so she should be on track for both of those to hit level 5 in time for PC III in February.

I am trying very hard to not get my hopes up, but she is doing better and has progressed farther than ever before, and there may actually be hope for her to graduate. I don't know what we would do then (having her home again after three years will still be a bit strange, but it is a good problem to have).

Friday, December 07, 2007

Girl Call

Well this week I didn't talk to Katie, as it was just a call with Diane instead (and with 'B', the therapist there, of course).

I don't feel bad for being excluded. Not at all. I know when I'm not wanted. *sniff*

:-) :-) :-) :-)

Diane said it went well, if a little 'light'.

We are a little concerned that she got 3 cat 3's in one day, and don't even want to think that she could drop and lose the pass. She has done that before, I just so want her to finally be 'getting it' and really working at last.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Plans and worries

Wow. We had a great call with 'A' tonight. Katie is, for once, doing really, really well. She presented her goals for level 5 in group today, but forgot one so has to do it again. She has been on manor service, and is apparently working very well on it.

And we have our pass scheduled! Not only that, but got fairly good rates on a direct flight to vegas, so it will make the travel that much less stressful. I didn't realize that they don't tell the girls about ANY passes until the last minute, so it will be a slight challenge not to mention anything for the next three weeks. Especially when we have our phone call with her the night before we see her!

The only problem is that all our shopping will have to be done before we leave Ohio, as we won't get home until 10:30 on Christmas Eve. But that is not a bad problem to have.

It looks like we have our choice (given that Katies makes level 5) of going to PC II or PC III in February (these are the new ones - PC II is all new, and PC III replaces the old PC II (and thus PC IV is now graduation)). The weekend for PC II is better for us, but it concerns me that she wouldn't have time left to graduate if we did that (assuming things go well). We just don't have the finances to keep her there longer than 3 years total, and she does turn 18 in July. So we should probably do PCIII in Feb, which could allow her to graduate in June and allow for some slippage before she runs out of time and we run out of money.

Of course, all this assumes that she has truly turned a corner, and won't drop severely (and stay there) yet again. That is what happened the last two times we saw her (for PC I and then for a therapy visit). It is extremely hard to not get excited and get my hopes up.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Celebrations and Frustrations

We had a very good call with Katie and 'B' tonight - she made Level 4 today!!!! Great news, and she seems to be really working things now.

But I'm facing some personal frustrations - just trying to figure out when we can do a pass to see her now, with the holidays and everything - and nearly every weekend in December is already booked with things that either Diane or I can't change.

And the she is also talking about PC2, which is also great news - except for the weekend when it is scheduled is also something very big for us here. (Our band boosters are bringing in the Comedian Heywood Banks that weekend for a concert, and we are both on the board).
I'm frustrated that everything always seems to be at the last minute, and it feels like any time that cost is mentioned then I just hear about not being a +5 and that if I was then it wouldn't matter.

Part of me feels like when she was home over two years ago, and we would have to drop everything to deal with her.

I also feel frustrated because I feel it is as important for Diane to be there as it is for me, as they have so much more issues to work out between them. And I feel that Diane is apprehensive, and maybe even reluctant, about going out there, when I want her to be more enthusiastic.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Learning Patience

We had a good call with 'A' last night. Katie got into the vote up book for level 4, however she (again) got too many categories in the week to go up. but she is working harder now than she has before, and seems to be handling things much better.

So we continue to wait for that pass to come. 'A' did say that she expects her to make it to level four by the end of the month, so instead of mailing off her christmas presents we may give them to 'A' in person! But once again that is getting ahead of the game, and one thing Katie said is that she is learning patience - as are we.

One concern I have is about her long term goals, and just how viable they are. Right now she is so stubborn about being a vet, but is still struggling with 9th grade Algebra. I've been a bit worried about her school progress, though that isn't the primary goal here. She has to finish her 9th grade Algebra still, then 10th grade Geometry and she is almost done with 10th grade Biology, and is taking some 11th grade courses. Ideally she would complete all the 11th grade work by the time she left, but who knows now.

However to get into vetrinary school you need strong math skills - and she just doesn't have that. She has so much talent in art and writing, but can't seem to get the idea of working to her strengths into her head. I hate to see her set herself up for disappointment.

Friday, November 09, 2007

First the good news . . .

We had our therapy call with Katie and 'B' last night. It was a pretty good, working call. First the good news - Katie got support from the group for level 4! However she was not able to go to the high level meeting to get voted up there, apparently she just crossed the Category line (total number) about an hour before the meeting. But she is one step closer - maybe next week.
She started talking about all the feelings she had coming up, of not being worthy and suicide etc. As we explored this, she started talking a little about the basketball team.

I'm still confused about this, but apparently she didn't make the regular team, but she didn't get cut either. She is staying on as the manager, and is basically an alternate for other girls who, for whatever reason, don't have their level to play (level 3 for home games, level 4 for away). As we talked about this, it became pretty clear that she was pretty upset about not really making the team. A lot of it tied in to her weight and tying in her self acceptance to being picked on the team.

So something she was just barely mentioning was hiding a significant issue, and we worked on it a bit. I think we made some progress there.

One other interesting point - she did not know that her poem was in the newsletter! That helped to bring things into perspective - where we each have our own strengths and weaknesses, and while she will never be a star athlete (yes, unfortunately she most likely inherited my amazing *cough* athletic prowess (I was the kid in Junior High who was on the third string of the non-tournament team - and never scored a single basket all season in a game)).

What is a bit frustrating for me is that she can't seem to accept her strengths, and seems to always want to focus on her weaknesses. Things like basketball and being a vet (which requires a lot of math and science, the two subjects she struggles the most in), instead of pursuing her creative (i.e. writing) talents. We even had a discussion with A & B about this a while back, and they talked to all the girls about working on the things they are good at, rather than fighting to do the things they don't have natural aptitudes for.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Not much change

We talked with 'A' yesterday, and things are pretty much the same. Katie did not go to vote up for level 4 this past week, she says she is going to next week, but we'll see. It is all about what she does anymore, not what she says.

I just found, via the schools support BBS, that they have been putting out a newsletter for the past year - I never knew this before. On checking these - Katie was Student Leader of the Month back in June/July (they only did one that month) for her group - I didn't know that. Plus she has a poem in the October issue - I didn't know that either.

And they have changed the seminars from 3 PC (Parent / Child) seminars to 4 - so we may be eligible for another one any time now - I sent an email to 'A' to check on what was going on with this. I'm a little frustrated and not finding out more of this already, but I'm getting over it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Good Call

We had our therapy call with Katie last night. It was good, if interesting.

First, she made level 3, and is actually going up for level 4 next week. Plus she graduated Principles, so I guess (and this was news to me) that we don't have to wait 4 weeks from when she makes level 4 fora pass - the requirements are level 4 + EITHER 4 weeks or graduate principles. So we may have a pass pretty quickly - but I'm not jumping on that yet.

She was very excited and happy, but then we mentioned we might have to cut the call a little short (we were on our way to meet some people to go to the local comedy club to see Heywood Banks, who our band boosters are booking for a fundraiser in February), and she had a bit of a meltdown on the phone. Instant victim mode. She was so concerned about losing any of the call time - and spent half of it crying and upset, feeling like we didn't care about her.

However we were able to work through this, and help her to see he own victim mode and language, and the rest of the call was good. Yes, we had to cut it about 5 minutes short.
She has been writing a lot of poetry lately, which I did at her age as well. She read one, and I felt I did good because I did not go into critique mode, which is what I tend to do anymore with it (probably because I took Creative Writing in college one too many times :-) ). I did talk to her about being able to receive criticism and not to take it personally. I recognized in what she has been writing the pure raw emotion that is so typical of teenagers. She has a huge amount of talent, but it will take a lot of development before she truly gets good.

So the call ended well. In 6 weeks she and Diane are going to have the call with just the two of them - so that could be good.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Some progress

It looks like our call last week may have had some effect - when we taked with 'A' last night she said that Katie was doing much better this week, working much harder. Apparently even the directory of the facility commented on how she was actually working really hard. She seems to really be enjoying the basketball team, with tryouts at the beginning of the month. She got her vote up in group this week to level 3, and should have it by the staff today. So if she doesn't melt down again then she could actually make the team and play (at least home games). I just hope if she does that she is better than I was at basketball (I sucked back then, and still do now).

I'm not getting any hopes up, but any encouraging news is just that, encouraging. I guess right now I'm waiting for the next stumbling block that gets in her way - the key to if she is really beginning to change is not what she does when it is 'easy', but how she will handle the bad things that WILL happen.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

one small step

We had our call with B and Katie last night, a day early because I guess he is taking today off.
It started pretty normally - i.e. her talking about how she is doing all these things, but not showing any real progress. We started to question her a bit because she was working on some level 5 requirements - and when asked why she was doing that instead of working to get level 3 still, she said she had done all of them for 3 and 4.
So I asked if she had truly done them all, then why didn't she vote up already? If she had done them, then why wasn't she supported.
She started talking about being scared to vote up, and being afraid the responsibility of suceeding. As she tried to explain this, B called her on it, saying that the reasons she was giving weren't adding up. As we dove deeper into this, she actually started to get a little real, and into some territory that was a bit more difficult for her.
So while it didn't start out very well (in my opinion), the call ended up being pretty strong. We are still waiting to see results, but this was a positive step.

Friday, October 05, 2007

not much news

I had our call with 'A' last night (Diane couldn't be on it, she had to work). Fairly uneventful - things are pretty much the same right now. Katie is showing some slight progress, but nothing spectactular, and in fact nothing we haven't seen before, again and again. This seems to be her current pattern, work the program for a while until she hits a stumbling block, then completely crash and burn.
She did join the basketball team, and is working hard on that. We are not an athletic family at all, so this is a good departure, and the fact that she is working this is good news.
So we continue to wait.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Talking the talk

We had our therapy call with Katie last night. I have to admit, it didn't have my full attention as the homecoming parade was last night, and we were running a concession stand for it, so I was counting and packing inventory while trying to listen.

She is talking the talk, but then she has done that so many times in the past. I gave her feedback that it wasn't about what she was saying, but what she was going to start doing. She says she wants to go up for level 3 again next week, and has support from all but one girl. So we'll see on that as well.

I also have to come clean and admit that I have not written her in some time - I am just completely out of things to say. I currently have three letters that I have yet to respond to. Part of me feels bad about that, but I still don't know at this point what to write, what to say. It seems that it is all becoming so routine any more - it amazes me that her 2nd anniversary slipped by and I didn't even notice it at the time. It is getting close to a year since we saw her last - but I don't want to spend the money to go out there again until she earns a pass - I don't want to reward her for sitting on her butt.

Friday, September 21, 2007

So did it work?

We had our call with 'A' last night, and Katie is still out of Orange, and in fact took level 2 this week. She missed support for it by one (to get support they need to have 3 or less 'no' votes, she had 4), but they can always choose to take it without support.

She is, once again, saying a lot of the right things, but the actions may not be supporting them.

She had decided to join the basketball team before, then just did as a manager. She declared this time she would join it and play, but then again only did it as a manager. Some of the girls in the group called her on this, to which she didn't respond well - however a bit later she did come clean, say that yes, she had said she would play, and the next day she was there as a player.

So we are pretty much back where we were before, waiting to see what she is going to do.

Friday, September 14, 2007


We had a pretty rough call with Katie and 'B' last night. Diane wrote up a really good set of numbers that he printed out, one per page, and gave to her as we talked. These were:

720 - Number of days she has been in the program

338 - Numbe of days since we have seen her

125,000 - approximate amount of money we have borrowed to pay for her tuition

1,300 - approximate monthly loan payments - which will be going up

30 - number of years we will be paying for these loans

73 - how old I will be when these are paid off. Retirement - yeah right!

294 - number of days until she is 18 and on her own

'B' added one more:
438,000 - number of minutes I've had to work to pay for her so far.

There wasn't much discussion. We wanted her to think on it first. She was out of orange, but only half the group supported her being out.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Weekly Family Rep call

With Mike being tied up with Band Booster stuff, I was on the weekly call with "A". Katie is back on Staff Buddy. She was off for a short while last week but I think she said Katie put herself back on it on Monday. The week before Katie was talking about making Level 2 within 2 weeks.

Katie had one day where she was crying a lot and asking to be changed to yet another group. "A" told her that the group was like a family and just because people are mad at her or act frustrated with her does not mean it's better just to leave. And, totally unplanned, the higher-level girls came in from their meeting and one came up to Katie and apologized for being frustrated with her and her actions. She said something like "We love you but are just tired of your actions." Hopefully that will help.

She's not moving too fast on her school work again and is re-reading (how many times is this now?) "7 Habits of Highly Effective People", by Steven Covey. You'd think for how many times she's read this, some of it would be sinking in. It's like she's just reading the words but not absorbing anything.

Before going on staff buddy, the goals she was working on was:
-working on her attitude
-following her process (this was given to her when she chose out of the last seminar. Before she says anything she has to think to herself "Is it honest? Is it Kind? Is it Necessary?" But she has totally not done any of it because she thought it was stupid.)
-working on building trust
-get less than 100 demerits and get a self esteem book.

"A" realized that she has to call her on that last one because in something that was written a couple days before these goals she said she was *reading* a self-esteem book. So is she back to telling stories?

I guess Katie has also written a bit about her littlest half-brother Nicholas. We have heard that this boy is not well, but Mike and I don't believe that he's as sick as his ex and Katie say he is. The boys have said he is deaf and he's not real healthy but haven't said anything like what Katie says that he has Lupus -- and then at times she says he's got cancer really bad. Back to her old pattern.

Isn't Lupus an "adult" disease? I didn't think small children were ever diagnosed with that. But I could be making that up as I don't know for sure.

Anyway, Mike and I have an idea for next week's call with "B". Maybe a bit of "shock therapy" for her. No, not the kind with electrodes to the brain and a thing stuck in her mouth so she doesn't bite her tongue off. Though "A" and I laughed that sometimes we think maybe that's what we should do. Of course, we're kidding.

or are we...

Yes. Don't be sending me emails about that now. :-)

Alright, I'm outta here.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Grungies

Yes, my anger did come out last night on the call. I just can't believe she's fallen so far back. And it all feels so manipulative. Am I being too critical? Am I taking this personal? In a way, how can I not?

It's not supposed to be "about me" but it has an effect on all of us in the family. I know there is nothing I can do, it has to be up to her to change her ways. It just boggles my mind that after almost 2 years nothing has seemed to change. She knows the "program speak" like no other, but she doesn't DO it.

The "grungies" have a good hold on me since yesterday. I'm having trouble staying focused at work, though there really isn't too much to focus on at this time. We're going out with some friends after work to the Funny Bone. Hopefully that will lift this mood.


Early call, but not good

We talked with 'B' yesterday. Apparently he had something going on this evening, so he called me at work and we did the call a day early.

It wasn't good. Katie is back in Orange again. She was given an assignment when she chose out of Principles, to say "Is it Honest? Is it Kind? Is it Necessary?" before she spoke. Every time. And she didn't do it. At all. Which is a Cat 4 for not following therapy assignments.

We did talk to her - and tried to get to the bottom of, well why she has bottomed out. There were a lot of tears on her part, and a lot of anger came through on our part, especially from Diane.

Before she got on the call we did talk a little about wilderness programs - however those don't fall under educational loans, so I doubt we could even go that route, plus I really feel that she would end up with some type of medical issue going on, and get out of it that way. 'B' is very frustrated (as are we) about the lack of progress, and we have raised the concern about finances - this is not getting any easier.

I'm waiting to here back on the finalization of the next loan. I hope to hear that is finalized soon, it will be a big relief there.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Looks like another six months

I got the loan documents today, so it looks like we will be good to go for another six months. Or at least we won't have to pull her because of money - yet. Now paying for the loans is something else entirely - but finding $275/mo is much easier than $4200/mo.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lots of letters

After quite dry spell, we are suddenly getting lots of letters from Katie. I don't know if that is better or not however. In the past week I think Diane and I have gotten 5 letters.

The last one was all about how excited she was to go to principles, as well as a lot about religion.

Well, we know she chose out of principles, and not gracefully either. So all the talk about it pretty much goes out the window - she did her homework but wouldn't actually do the work in the seminar.

The religion thing is also 'interesting'. It wasn't long ago that she said she really wanted to go back to the Baptist church she joined two and a half years ago here, now she is wanting to be a Mormon (she says she was baptised (which would be her third time) in the LDS church when she was at ther mom's two years ago).

Me, I'm not religious. I'm not actively against any, I just don't believe in them myself. I can see how some people can get comfort from them, and at times I envy that, but it is not something that I can accept or believe in.

It is frustrating to here her say the same things she did before she ever went to the school. I'm feeling that her letters lately are just crap - nothing real again. She is going on about wanting to talk about things, but then I feel no trust of her that anything is true.

I guess that tells me what I need to do. I need to re-iterate my committment to only respond when she is being real and honest, and not to crap. I don't know how to tell when she is being honest, but right now I don't feel it.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Long Time, no post...

As with Mike, I am very frustrated too. I don't know what to say to her to get her to start working again. It's like she just gave up and is back at square 1. I don't how much my feelings would be different if she were "my blood child" and not just a step child. I know I'll probably catch hell from some saying "just a step child" but if you've never been there, there is a difference. Maybe if I would have had more dealings with her from a much younger age things would have been different. I'm not saying I'm the perfect, and all-knowing parent or anything. It's just that things would have been handled differently. And if she were younger, it all would have been different. Mike has done a great job with what he was dealt. I understand what he means when he says when the kids outnumber the parents by more than 2 to 1, it's extremely hard to do anything.

But I can't change any of the past. I just have to learn to deal with the here and now.

A side of me wants to just yell at her and say "WAKE THE HELL UP! Do you realize how good you could have it by just stopping all this stupid shit you continue to do???? STOP playing victim, oh poor you, you've had it SO rough. If you think rules don't apply to you, just go and make your own way in the world since you know everything. You can't live here and disrupt our lives any more. As it is we will never be out of debt. The boys know how much has been wasted on you -- yes WASTED. And they are not happy about it. They don't understand why you continue to make the stupid decisions you do and not just cut the crap and come home."

Then the other side just is frustrated. I see the stress on Mike and the boys. The money that we will never have, the easy retirement we will never have. I want to cry knowing there is nothing we seem to do or say that is making a difference with her. Other "program parents" say to just hang in there, and many have been in the same spot we're in -- maybe not for this length of time, but they've felt the same frustration.

The Cross Creek school is SO good, in my opinion. They are also frustrated and have done so much to try to make this work. I feel sorry for them to have to deal with her day after day and not being able to make her see the light.

The letters we get just seem to be rambling, and repeating. I think she is comfortable there and won't do anything until it is time for her to leave...when she turns 18 in 10 months. We don't think we'll be able to continue with student loans for that long, however. So what then? I truly don't want her back here disrupting our lives like she did. And I truly think that is what she will do. She has learned just enough to get her by, to manipulate those enough to get attention but in no way does she want to take responsibility.

Wow, just re-read the above. I guess I didn't realize I was this angry again. But as Mike has always told me. Be honest, even when it sucks.

I love him with all my heart and feel so lucky to have him in my life. I don't know how I can handle having her back home if she doesn't change her ways. And maybe I'm not giving her enough credit as Mike says, but my trust in her was trashed a long time ago and I know myself well enough that it takes a LONG time to build that back up , IF it ever happens. All I see is her manipulation and I'm not willing to play that game any longer.


Friday, August 24, 2007

23 months

Yesterday was 23 months in the program. So what does that mean?

I had to download another loan application. I'm in debt $100,000 so far, and have to ask for another $25,000 for the next six months. I'm paying more for the educational loans than I am for my mortgage.

Diane and I are keyholders. We have graduated 8 different seminars, and I have staffed one. Jon has also been to one as well. The things we have learned about ourselves at these are incredible, and life changing. I'm not the person I was two years ago, that is for sure.

Katie got out of Orange yesterday, but is back at square one completely, or perhaps even farther behind. She has destroyed all trust that she had built up with everyone around her. While I had expected her to drop a bit, I had thought she was making some real progress before. Now, I really don't know.

My frustration level is extremely high, and I'm not dealing with it well right now. At least I can recognize this. Getting out of it is another thing entirely.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Fallen, and won't get up

Well I've been out of town since Wednesday, but we did have our call with 'B' the therapist on Thursday, but not Katie. No, she was not on the call, because she is STILL in Orange. So we've gone back to some of the restrictions we had when she was in her other groups - if she is in Orange then she doesn't get to participate in the calls.

On thursday it will be 23 months, and that means time to go back to 'Aunt Sallie Mae' and beg for six more months again, and then hope I can find a way to continue to make the loan payments.

It is so much easier to do this when the kids are working the program and not fighting it. There are lots of times I have to tell myself that she is still learning, and we aren't just throwing money into a pit.

It has been 10 months since our last therapy visit, and 'B' is talking about us coming out for another one now, but I feel like that is rewarding her for not working.

It feels right now like she hasn't gotten anything out of the program, and the progress she had seemed to make before was just another lie. I wasn't upset about her falling at first, because I like that line from "Batman Begins" - "Why do we fall? To learn to pick ourselves up again." But now she has fallen, and won't get up again.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Like a yo-yo

Up. Down. Up. Down. Up.

In orange. Out of orange. Back in organge. Disrespectful. Working. Good days. Bad days. Better days.


Talked with 'A' last night as usual. Things are rough right now. Katie got out of Orange, then went right back in. It turns out that she had finished whatever tape credits she had to do, so got out. But was not supported by the staff to be out, so went back in. She didn't handle this well, and was deep back into her old patterns of disrespect etc. Yesterday she was doing much better at least.

I don't know what she needs to get out besides start working again. The one shining light is that she hasn't lost all her points - so all she 'needs' to get back to level 3 is support - which is the most difficult requirement of all. It is nice to know that she won't have to repeat all the other steps again and again.

She was scheduled for a seminar this weekend (where the adults have 'keys', the kids have 'principles'), but 'A' didn't know if she was still eligible for it, even if she got out of orange in time. So yet another missed opportunity.

At least when she is falling it is for shorter amounts of time, and she is turning back around much quicker. Before something like this would have lasted for quite some time - but she may already be working again.

So much for me being concerned about a pass etc. I feel like we are back where we were six months (12 months, 18 months, . . .) ago.

And just to put in that little extra turn of the screw - it is getting close to the time to go back and get yet another loan.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Just breathe

Ok - deep breath. Hold it. Now let go.

That is the key. Let it go.

We had our call with the therapist 'B' and Katie last night. At first I didn't think I would be on it because I had something going on at work, but then it took Diane over half an hour to actually get through - she kept getting a busy signal, so by the time she did get through I was home and Ben was able to conference me on.

Katie is back in Orange.

She got fired from being Momma, for both not working at the job, and for an inappropriate conversation (it was about shaving - started about girls who shave their heads and headed south. She says she stopped talking at that point, but also didn't do anything to stop the conversation - which was in the tape room as well.)

Otherwise it was a working call, if not a good one. She does seem to realize some of the things that came up, and wants to work on it, so this may not be such a bad thing overall. It is also good for her to experience some bumps in the road - as that is what life is all about (at times it seems that life [b]IS[/b] the bumps.

So not the real key is to see where she is and what she is doing in two weeks. Is she back to her old behavior, or is she actually learning something. A lot of it comes down to here feelings - she said that she felt like a failure about this, and the key is to realize that this was a mistake. To not tie her self-worth to external events. Which I guess is something that has been coming up for the entire group a lot lately.

So time to take my own advice - and just breath.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Struggling again

We did have our call with 'A' last night.

Katie is struggling, having a lot of her old behavior coming back up. She hasn't dropped, but she also (once again) isn't moving. She got a Cat 3 because she had an envelope full of slips from her class saying how good she had done (I think we have all gotten these little notes) - however these had not been given to her.

Her attention seeking behavior is back as well. The group is giving her feedback on this, and she isn't taking that well either.

It is pretty rough on our end as well when we hear this. We are a bit disappointed - the idea of a pass being so close it hard to let go of. However saying that we are disappointed tends to feed her own feelings of nto being worth it, so we feel like we are in a catch-22. In the end we basically said that she needs to get working, and "put her big girl panties on and deal with it."

Friday, July 20, 2007

Slowing down

We had our call with Katie and 'B' last night, and it was a working call, if not a great one. She still hasn't made level 4, and in fact came really close to dropping back to Orange. They were doing an exercise in group, and she let slip a reference to Focus - which was a breach in confidientiality - not severe enough to be a full Cat 4, but still a Cat 2. She didn't take that well, and then was falling back into some of her old behaviors the next day as well, and didn't take that feedback well either.

So we talked about that, and maybe got her thinking about things. The whole idea that I tried to reinforce that crap will happen, and old patterns will come up again (and again and again). She has a bad habit (pattern) of thinking that once you get past an obstacle it is gone for good. She used to do this at home as well. It also manifests where she used to think that doing one thing right erased all the times she did it wrong.

So we'll see how she does, and what she does. We keep hoping for a pass - but we've already missed the best opportunity for us for it (before my oldest goes back to college). We will have to be gone for 5 days with travel time - and that is too much to leave her 15 and 12 (maybe 13 by the time it happens) year old brothers alone, especially during school. Diane has a friend who can stay with them, but she leaves for a year in France in mid-September or early October, so we are really hoping that we can get the pass in before then, or it gets really difficult.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Staff Buddy Momma

We had our call with 'A' last night, and Katlyn got the group vote for level 4, but has to go before the high level 'committee' to get it still, and may not. Now is the time when the past may come back to get her, but I think she is prepared for it.

On Tuesday she became the 'staff buddy' Momma - helping out in the tape room. One of the things I didn't realize about it was that means she has to be the first one up and the last to bed EVERY day - just like real parents. So far she is doing really well with it, but Angies says that it does take it's toll after a while, so we'll see. There is no defined time for this (they stay there until they learn what they need to learn from it), but she was actually enthusiastic (some girls break down on hearing they will do it, even before they give it a try) about the idea of seeing things from the 'other side' as it were.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Not quite there yet...

Katie did not make level 4 - probably won't for a couple more weeks. She had assumed that her homework would also count for her daily journalling (which it doesn't) so that is the only requirement she is currently lacking. This unfortunately means that we won't have the pass that we had hoped for during the first full week of August. However we don't want her taking any shortcuts, as that has never helped her in the past.

So we'll deal with it when it happens. The good thing is that she doesn't seem to be backsliding at this time, she is steadily moving onward. I feel fairly confident that she won't drop after earning level 4, so once we hear she has that then we'll figure out how to make a pass work (since her brothers will all be back in school (the oldest 2 hours away at college).

Friday, June 29, 2007

Almost to 4

We talked with 'B' and Katie last night (he switched this week and next with the Family Rep 'A' because he will be on vacation next week). Once again a very positive call. Katie is finishing up her requirements for level 4. Since B will be on vacation, he is going to have the vote up today instead of next week. So we are hoping she gets voted up, which if she does then it would mean she would have her level 4 by 7/5. She wasn't sure if she had everything she needed or not at this point however, there was some question on the journaling etc.

Once she gets to level 4 for at least 4 weeks then she earns a 3 day off ground pass, though it is not overnight at all. Diane and I looked at all our schedules, and we really hope she gets it, as the best time for us would be to fly out on 8/5, have the pass on the 6-8, and then home. The band leaves for camp on the 5th, so we'd have to fly out after that. Any other time would have to be fully during the week, or after school starts for the boys. I'd much rather do this when my oldest is still home from college, so we are a bit concerned about the timing.

I'm also a bit concerned what we will do on the pass. Some of it will be similar to when we were there last year, just a lot more time with her and being able to leave. We would still attend a group session, and have a family session there.

It is nice having some progress though, even with the additional (good) stress it causes.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Getting better

This is late, but we have been busy - namely Diane and I are now Keyholders! We finished our last keys seminar this weekend, and it was great to graduate. It was especially good for me, as one of my Focus sisters L staffed it (she was actuall the captain) - it made it even better having her there - she has been such an example of strength for me.

When we were in Minnesota we stayed with her the week before as well, and we gave her a special little gift as a thank you (and almost made her cry :-)).

However the big, major news isn't us, it is Katie. She graduated Focus! And she is going up for level 4 next week - which would be a wonderful birthday present for her to give herself. Our call last week was a little short because we had another scheduling conflict (Diane had won box tickets to the local minor league baseball team that evening - and of course the game started right after the callw as scheduled, so we called from the car enroute!) It was great hearing the joy in Katie's voice as she talked about her experience, and she already wants to start staffing. In fact, she wants us to come out there and staff with her, but I don't think that will be possible (because of my remaining vacation days this year, as well as the expense of flying out to Utah).

So it has been a great two weekends!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Still going strong!

We talked to A on Thursday, and Katie is in Focus, which was a LOOONG time coming. She is still doing really well, and on track to make level 4 soon, which means that not long after that she should actually earn her first pass. When we get home on Monday we need to check out the parent manual to see what Katie can have at level 4 for her birthday - she will be 17 in three weeks - her second birthday in the program.

One other good news, they are going to make her a 'mom'. This is where she is actually helping out in tape room for the other girls who are in Orange - a real interesting switch as she has been there so often in the past. This will be a great opportunity for her, and I look forward to hearing from her how it is going (she doesn't know she is going to get this).

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Still doing well

We had our call with Katie tonight, and once more it went very well. She is trying to deal with the issues she has with her mother, and they did some exercies in therapy that have helped, including not only having her write to her, but also having her write back as her mother as well, and B also wrote a letter as her mother. One of the major points was to stop living in the past, and instead live in the present and move forward.

B also talked to me about a possible visit, since it has been 8 months since we have seen Katie. However, right now she is very close to being able to make level 4 (assuming she graduates Focus next week) and earning a pass that I would rather wait for her to earn one than for us to have a therapy pass again. Simple logistics also comes into it as well as money also - we won't be able to afford two trips out, and I'd hate to go for a therapy visit only to not be able to go out for her first earned pass.

She was a bit sad to hear about us going on vacation tomorrow, because once again she will miss it. But that isn't always a bad thing, and is something for her to overcome. Plus it helps to drive her desire to work the program and come home.

Friday, June 01, 2007

No news

No update this week, because I simply forgot about our call last night. I don't really know why, I had thought about it earlier in the day, but after dinner it completely slipped my mind.

I did get some letters this week, but they were all a bit behind (dated the 11th and the 19th, before she got to level 3). It is really hard to have meaningful interactions there when they are so far behind.

Diane did write Katie a letter and sent it off - so with some luck they will begin the work to repair / rebuild their relationship.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Surprise - pleasant for once

Ok, time for my weekly update.

We had our call with the therapist 'B' and Katie last night. One thing I realized is that I haven't gotten a letter in two weeks from her - kind of disappointing in that.

He goes to get her, and it takes several minutes to come back. She was in Focus pre-meetings again, not unusual because they have to keep doing these until they get to Focus. Then the news - she made level 3 this week! I was floored. She is actually still in the current group going to Focus in June!

Then another amazing point - she wants to get back to her pre-focus meeting, so she is cutting the call short. Things are going well and she really wants to keep working.

When she left B told us that she was going to find out that she was getting something close to 'most improved' for these pre-focus meetings as well, but didn't know it yet.

It was funny because Diane and I were talking that when she is working, we don't have a whole lot right now to talk about with her - we have been so focused before on the calls about what she is not doing and how she is not working - now that she is taking off like a rocket it is a bit overwhelming!

One of the interesting goals she did say was to have a call with just Diane, not me. This was also very good - as that is where a huge amount of work needs to be done before she comes home.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

More progress

I had the bi-weekly call with the family rep A today. I had to reschedule it earlier because my youngest son has an awards assembly tomorrow evening during our regularly scheduled call. And once again it was all good. Katie presented her level 3 goals, and had full support for them on Monday. One thing A does with her girls is to give them 'stretches' - and Katie, for that one day, had to only speak in a whisper, and to write down everything she said before she said it. She struggled with this a bit, and wanted to just quit presenting her goals, but the didn't let her give up on herself, and she made it through. This is good, as in the past (like two months ago) she would have just stopped and not done it.

She has realized that the nurses athlete's foot cream really works if she uses it twice a day like she is supposed to, so that is clearing up. And she got new glasses, and is going to get her hair cut - all positive things from my point of view. With the hair cut - they have to get parent's permission to change the style at all and I don't have any problem at all with that. Not that I can say much - but being a man I don't really have an opinion on that - it's a testosterone thing :-)

Katie actually has 1001 points right now, which is amazing. She most likely won't make the Focus seminar in June as the cutoff for being level 3 is this week, but she should make the next one in August without a problem.

She has also been named Bunk Leader, which again is a good thing. Yes, she had this before way back when, and quickly lost it. But now I think she may actually be able to do it, and learn something from it. The girls in the group are opening up to her and she is getting much more acceptance - by being real instead of trying to get acceptance. Isn't it amazing to see how these things work in life - so often you can get the things you want when you quit trying to get them, and instead just be yourself and let them come.

Friday, May 11, 2007

At long last

We had our call last night, and received the long awaited (like what - over a year) news that Katie has finally made level 2. And not only did she make level 2, but for the first time EVER she was voted up to level 2 with full support. She had taken it before, and then lost it the next week immediately because she didn't have support.

She is working on level 3, and really wants to go to Focus in June. However she has to make 3 by next week, which most likely won't happen. However she said that she DID NOT want a special exception made for her - she wanted to earn it herself. That is HUGE for her - in the past she has been so much about doing as little as possible and wanting everything given to her, as well as wanting any tiny bit of progress to erase everything in the past.

Very, very good news. I don't know how to get her and Diane working on their issues yet, Diane is still very stand-offish about it - still having a huge 'prove it' attitude. However she has been making progress now for about six weeks now, and when I talk to her I hear such a huge change in her voice. I'm optimistic at this point, maybe more than I should be.

Monday, May 07, 2007

running behind

I didn't realize that I forgot to post on Friday after our call with the Family Rep, A. It was a good call, though she still didn't go up for a vote (she should go up today). Things are going well. It looks like they have gotten a lot more girls into the group, which is taking a lot of the spotlight off of Katie. Not a bad thing really, and she seems to be handling it quite well actually, which is a good thing.

I'm also behind in writing to her - I got a letter on Thursday and haven't made the time to write back yet.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

hate waiting

Well, Katie should have gone up for a vote to level 2 yesterday. Of course, we won't hear what happened until Thursday evening when we talk to the family rep A. It should have gone well, which is exactly what we are expecting.

I may actually miss that call, as I have to go pick up my oldest son from college, and it looks like I'll be on jury duty - so I can't to Friday afternoon as planned, but will probably do it Thursday evening.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Still moving

I talked to Katie on her therapy call last night - went very well again. She goes up for level 2 on Monday. She is putting forth goals and plans and finally has said that she actually wants to come home. Right now she wants to make level 4 and get a pass by her birthday ( July 3rd ) - I did tell her that it won't happen that weekend because we already have a committment - she took that well and said it could be the next weekend. She also has decided she wants to be home by Christmas.
I don't know if either of these are realistic goals, and we discussed that as well. We also talked about that she needs to realize it is not all smooth sailing from now on, even if she has turned the corner. There will be bumps in the road, and she will lose levels. The key will be to pick herself up and keep going.
It is nice to have good calls.

Friday, April 20, 2007

growing stronger

I talked with the family rep 'A' yesterday, and Katie is still doing well. She presented her goals to group this week, and got 100% support on them. She should go up for level 2 a week from Monday, and if she keeps going like she has been then she should actually get voted up with no issues - a first!

She has also buckled down with her school work, and is getting caught back up to where she would be. She talks about wanting to be a veterinarian - and I had to stress that it was very hard to get into vet's school, especially when a few months ago she had barely completed her 9th grade work. I big change in that as well, so that whenever she gets out she will be where she should be in school, if not ahead!

B has made here the buddy of another girl. Katie has a problem with talking way too much, this other girl barely talks at all. So for now, they are only allowed to talk to each other and the staff. It is good, because this other girl is holding her accountable as well.

It is really nice to have calls that have good news instead of frustration.

Monday, April 16, 2007

2 letters

Surprising, got a letter from Katie and Friday and another on Saturday. I'll respond back to them today. Both are decent, meaningfull letters, which is good. It is really comforting to me to see her start to make some progress. I know I shouldn't get my hopes up, but part of me can't help but hope that she has actually made a breakthrough and is finally getting started working.

She wants to go by Katie - which we never had any issue with (as you can tell) - we just don't support her going by K.T. (that is her grandparent's dog's name). She also wants to read fantasy books again - which is not going to happen for a while. She was using them to escape and not deal with her issues and reality, and just doing a little bit doesn't earn them back. When she gets to high levels (i.e. at least 4) then we can begin to talk about it, but not until then.

Friday, April 13, 2007

A good call

I had our call with the therapist 'B' and Katie last night, and it was actually very pleasant - which is quite unusual. Katie is still working, and right now she actually sounds great! I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but both 'B' and the family Rep 'A' (and her teachers) have noticed a significant change in her these past few weeks.

'B' had her go back through Orientation as a buddy (her third time), and she said she really got a lot out of it, including accepting and incorporating feedback she received, another first.

There was also an interesting incident this week. Apparently someone from another group said that she took a piece of fruit without asking. 'B' confronted her with this, and it looked like she immediately went back into her old habits, not remembering doing it, not accepting responsibility for it. However then the big change came in - the rest of the group supported her on this - saying that it was not like Katie to do that at all, and that she did not take it. She said it was just amazing how good it felt to actually have support!

She had also worked on a big presentation she wanted to give to the group - and on the day she thought she would do it she was all excited and over the top - and 'B' caught it right away that she was playing for attention yet again. So he said she wasn't going to do it. And she accepted it without fuss and went on instead of getting upset and closing down.

She said she may go up for level two next week or the week after - she is actually re-doing a bunch of her 7-habits workbook stuff that she had just glossed over before. She doesn't sound worried about it, and seems to understand that she has to earn it.

She also talked about the future quite a bit - in a realistic way. Actually talked a bit about coming home, though she knows she is a long way from that happening, but she is actually looking forward to it.

So maybe she is finally making a real change. The key for me is to let go and let her work it - I can't get worried about it one way or the other.

But it was nice hearing good news for once.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

and hope flickers on

We received two letters from Katie yesterday - and both were better than usual. Not real deep, but then that isn't required every time. But they weren't just empty fluff either.

The one real significant bit is that Katie has started to get some support from her group, and it is making her feel good. These other girls are all really good and detecting bullshit, and their detectors have been going full blast for quite some time, so it is actually extremely promising to hear that she is being real and the group is getting behind her - because they won't do it as long as she is playing the games she has been.

I made sure I wrote her back very quickly, just to continue a bit of positive feedback for actually working.

She still has a huge way to go, and lots of issues about her mom - which is not a surprise to anybody. I did write to her about the fact that digging into these issues is painful - I made the analogy of an injury that requires surgery to repair it. You can leave it to fester and never get better, or you can bite the bullet, accept that there will be some more pain involved as you clean up the wound, and realize that the pain will actually start to decrease after the healing begins, but there may be a bit more to get it started.

Sometimes it is easier to endure the pain you know than to face the unknown, even it if promises to make things better. Especially if the unknown may mean more pain initially.

But isn't change always like that?

Friday, April 06, 2007

still glimmering

I had our call with the Family Rep A last night, and for once it was surprisingly good. Compared to the usual call of no work at all, she is making a small amount of progress. It does sound like the call last week, and maybe the letters, might be finally having some effect. And I don't want to discount with her therapist B has done - when he tore up all her work in front of her it seems to have had a pretty big impact.

She is in the positive points, and is still working on the apology exercise, but the latest revision of the letter to her mom is much better. Still not where it really should be, but the last half that turned into a major guilt trip has been fixed by her, which is very good. It does seem that she is learning what a real apology looks and sounds like, as opposed to what she was doing.

The crux of it all is getting real, with her real emotions. Especially around her mother, but not limited to that by any means.

Friday, March 30, 2007

A slight glimmer of . . . something

We had our bi-weekly therapy call with B last night. Some interesting stuff going on lately.

He is doing an exercise with the entire group, of having them write apology letters. He had Katie write one to EVERYONE. She said she had done 15, but actually had did only 9. She turned these in to him, he looked them over, and then tore them up in front of her. She was a bit pissed off, as you can expect. He then said that is exactly what she has been doing to everybody else in her life - ripping up and throwing out all the effort they have been putting in with her.

I like this guy.

So then in group, he starts reading these letters, including two more she has written. These are read anonymously after the first few. The girls all then comment on them, sharing if they were sincere and real. When he read Katie's letter to her teacher - the entire group immediately recognized it as hers because it was repetitve and empty. No feeling behind it - it wasn't real.

When Katie came on the call, she talked about her apology she wrote to her mother, and read it. It started out much better, but quickly degenerated into a guilt trip towards her. Now her mother will never see it, because not only has she not had any contact at all with Katie since she entered the program 18 months ago, but even the other boys have not heard from her since last June.

However, as we talked about her mother, something interesting happened. For a very short time, some real emotions came out. For the briefest time, she let down all the pretenses, and got real about some of the things she felt about her mother. Her mother is truly a major issue with her, if not the central issue. It wasn't long - she quickly 'recovered' from it, but we did acknowledge that was exactly what she needed to do to begin to progress in the program. Not try and make others happy, not try to be what others want, but to be herself, with real emotions.

So it was a glimps of something. A spark in the darkness. The question is, will the spark catch and ignite, to burn and fire the passion for change that she needs, or will it smolder and die, smothered in fear and doubt. So often we are so comfortable with the pain we know, as opposed to change, that it keeps us from every moving.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Monday, Diane got a letter from Katie, and a nice poem that Katie has submitted to the parent support magazine. And she also sent a letter to her youngest brother. I got - nada.

However, there was one for me yesterday. She had gotten my previous letters, and this was much stronger than any have been in some time. She did say that she didn't feel I was being open with her because I was not angry in my letters, and wanted more honest feedback. It was one of the longest letters she has yet written.

I wrote back, and exactly as I had said I would, I addressed her letter. I was very open with her, and shared that I did not have any anger over her previous behavior at home like Diane does. I have forgiven and moved past that. In fact, I don't have much anger period - it is not an emotion I can hold on to, and I find that it weakens me to be angry, so even when I do get angry, it doesn't last long.

She said that she wanted me to be angry with her, which I won't do. She is looking for validations of her feelings of ruining the family, but I've gotten past that, and won't give her that validation.

Her letter, and my response back to it (which is the longest letter I have written to her since she has been in the program) are probably some of the best communication we have had in quite some time.

I just hope it starts to make a difference.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Seems to be slipping backward

So we talked with A, the family rep last night. From what she was saying, it now sounds like Katie has not only made no progress, but is falling back into her old patterns yet again.

Once more she is talking about going up for level 2 next week - but she is short on points, and hasn't done any of her goals. Working on pre-focus homework again. This isn't a bad things, and in the discussion I did learn that she will continue to do this process until she gets in Focus, regardless of level at the time. There is a cutoff date for each seminar, by which they must have their level, and that is either this week or next (each group picks their own date). She won't have it, so will have choosen out one more time.

No letters yet, though A did say that she had sent one off earlier in the week for Diane. I haven't gotten a letter in close to a month. So I guess I won't be writing today.

It was brought up again that she seems really comfortable there. I really don't know how to change that. On her call sheet she said that being on silence had allowed her to work on her relationship with God, and that she had decided to go back to the Baptist church she had attended for a year or so (before wanting to switch to and evangelical one, and then switching to Mormon (though that didn't work so well, as at the time they didn't "support her lesbian lifestyle").

If being religious would help, then I'm all for it. It hasn't so far though. To me it is yet another way to avoid the real issues.

She is out of Orange, and so should be in the call next week - we'll just have to see.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Very interesting paper

I was invited to join a new forum for parents, and found that a woman there had written a paper on finding help for teens. I put the link on the side, but you can also find it here : Managing Teens at Risk: A Massachusetts Parents Guide to Choosing the Right Private Program For Your Family .

I haven't finished reading it yet, and we don't live in MA, but I sure wish I had seen this in 2005 (she wrote it in 2004) when we were looking for help with Katie.

One of the goals of this Blog is to help others, and provide something other than the marketing information that is out there - and this is one item with the same intent.

Friday, March 16, 2007

A tough letter

After talking with the therapist 'B' the other day, I decided to write a bit of a tougher letter. I wasn't always that good at writing to Katie. But since November I have been doing it weekly, putting an appointment in my calendar every week to remind me.

And we can all see how much that has helped.

She is supposed to be writing home at least once a week, and that hasn't been happening either. So in an effort to get her moving, I wrote her that from here on, I would only respond to her letters. So if she doesn't write, neither do I. In addition, the letters have to be meaningful. No more drawings, song lyrics or 20 questions. Talk about the issues, get honest and dig deep. And let me know what is going on.

One thing that has amazed me is that she never talks about what happens there, the other girls or anything. I'm not asking for gossip, but just to know what is really going on. So if she writes that then I'll respond with news about what is happening here.

I said that I didn't feel that she valued our relationship, so it was time for her to show me that she did value it. I think that as much as I try to enforce that I love her unconditionally has just made her take me for granted.

It wasn't the easiest letter to write, and won't be easy for her to read. It may be a waste of my time.

The choices are all hers.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

No real progress

Talked with the therapist 'B' last night. Katie is pretty much the same. Still not working. He is letting her start to work off her 'tape credits' - the way to get off staff buddy. He goes on vacation today for a week, and didn't want her to be stuck there while he was gone.

A total of 5 girls got hit with the Katlyn Staff Buddy Brigade, but 4 more would have if they had continued the process. However, it wasn't giving them the results they wanted.

Once B gets back, they will start loading her down with assignments, and see what she does.

Everyone is frustrated, and no one seems able to get through to her.

One thing we talked about was letters. She is required to write home once a week - this is not happening. In my next letter I'm going to challenge her a bit more about taking me for granted, and ask her to step up to her obligations in this relationship.

She also has a lot of work to do on repairing the relationships in her group; unfortunately in the past she has not done that.

So here we are - same stuff, different day. *sigh*

Friday, March 09, 2007

And now getting worse

We had our call with A, the family rep last night. Things are getting worse. Katie is now also on Staff Buddy (also known as being in Orange). She had decided not to work, so that is what they have now down. Since she isn't working the program, she is not allowed to work the program. Every day when she isn't in school she is in the tape credit room, but she isn't allowed to work off her credits, she just has to sit. And each day she doesn't work them off, they add more. Yes, it sounds like a catch-22 situation at first. The key is that she has established by her actions that she just wants to sit there, so that is what is happening.

Once she decides that she wants something else, then she can move on. But not until then.

Apparently several more girls joined the KSBB before this was done. B, the therapist, also asked her previous therapist if he wanted her back, since he isn't reaching her. She did start to cry when she heard that - but when asked how the session went she said it went fine.

She has never really dug into her emotions or anything. She talks the program, but is just skating on the surface of what her issues are.

I can understand that. In my first seminar I was the same way, not really getting into the core of a lot of my issues, believing I had dealt with them, and replacing stories with really digging down. Focus broke that wide open, and really helped me to see what a lot of the issues in my own life are.

I'm going to talk with B next week as well (it will be on Tuesday instead of Thursday due to a schedule conflict), and I want to ask him if my trying to write every week is helping or not? Or, the thought occurrs to me as I write this, to keep writing, but go back to where she was before; i.e. when she is in Orange she doesn't get the letters. She can see that she has them, but isn't allowed to get them until she earns her way out.

She also needs some new shoes - so we need to get those this weekend and get them sent off. That is one I can understand - basically they have one pair of sneakers, and even the best of them will wear out from constant use.

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Katlyn Staff Buddy Brigade

No news actually. The schools maintain a bulletin board for parents to share and support each other, and on Friday I wrote up basically the same thing I posted here (without some of the edits I do to keep people anonymous).

I see a response this morning from the mother of one of the girls that got put on staff buddy because of Katie, or, as she referred to it, she got to be part of 'The Katlyn Staff Buddy Brigade'. When I saw that name I just had to laugh.

The good news is the girl got off staff buddy on Friday, and was still able to do the presentation she had prepared and attend the seminar she was scheduled to go to - so no real harm done, and an excellent learning experience for her.

No, this process isn't fair to the other girls, especially those who end up joining the KSBB, but one thing I truly learned is that life is not fair. Bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people. And things happen in our lives that are out of our control. The only thing we do have control is how we choose to respond or react to them. So the other girls get an opportunity to see what they will do when bad things happen beyond their control, as well as a chance to mirror what things they have done in the past do to other people (especially in their families).

In some ways, the girls in the KSBB will learn more than Katie will from all of this. It is pretty rare to have the opportunity to see situations from both sides - and they get a little taste of what their parents got to deal with when they were at home. I know when Katie was here there were many things she did that caused us lots of problems. In a lot of ways, I'd like to see Katie have the chance to be on the other side of this process as well in the future - it would do her a lot of good.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Kickng it up a notch!

Well I had our call with 'B', Katie's therapist, last night - and he is sure stirring things up.

He has changed Katie's goals down to one - which is calling the other girls on broken rules, (known as Categories, or cats). However, she still refused to do it. So early this week he put her on silence - she is only allowed to speak when calling others on rules. Ok - a show of hands from everyone who thinks that did anything. Ok - you in the back - put your hand down. Nada, once again.

So the other day he had her in group, and asked who her best friend was. She said she didn't have any, but cared about everyone. He made her name the three girls she cared about the most. He asked if she had done her goal - and everyone in the group said no. So he pulled out a jar with all the girls names in it - and drew three (one of which was one of her 'better' friends). Those three immediately went on staff buddy because Katie had not worked on her goal.

Well that shook her up. The next day she was calling everyone in the group. When 'B' asked who she had called on rules, everyone's hand went up, except for the service manor girl (this is a high level girl from another group that comes over to help). She hadn't called her on anything, and in fact the girl was wondering why she hadn't. So another name was drawn, and a fourth girl went on staff buddy.

So I figure there are four sets of parents getting some interesting news this week because of Katie! And apparently the teachers have all be very enthusiastic about her being on silence as well - saying she has never worked as much or as hard as she has this past week.

She did get to participate in the call yesterday - but was still on silence so it was one-sided. A bit hard to do on my part, to talk but not be able to get any type of feedback at all (since I couldn't hear her of course, no see anything over the phone).

The girls will get off staff buddy probably today, but if she isn't doing her goal, then 'B' will put more on next week. This is pretty big - we'll see if it has any real effect on her or not. For someone for whom acceptance is such a huge issue it is a real big deal.

So in the words of Emeril - BAM! - let's kick it up a notch!

Friday, February 23, 2007

Saying one thing - but her results don't show it

Talked with A, the family rep, again last night. This was pretty much the same as before. All of Katies notes for the call talk about how she is working, and planning on going up for level 2 next week, however in group she hs not done here single goal AT ALL. She is so caught up in being accepted and trying to be liked that she is completely missing the point here.

Another major issue is that she is deceiving herself, and that is basically lying to herself and then everyone else, about where she is and how she is doing. Honesty has always been an issue here, and it truly has to start with being honest with yourself before it can go anywhere else at all.

Several girls are leaving first thing this morning to go to graduation. I would think that would have some impact on her - she has been there long enough so that kids who have come in when she did, and after she did, are now going home. I've talked with other parents, and that is often a trigger to get the kids working - just the idea that they are being left behind.

Her school work is catching up, except for algebra. So at least she may be caught back up by the end of the school year, or close to it. Since she doesn't really get summer break, there is no reason why she actually can't get completely caught up and even ahead if she tries. It does seem that almost everything is easy for her except for the math, and I believe a lot of that is simply attitude.

And so it continues as it has been. *sigh*

Friday, February 16, 2007

Staying the same

Well, right now she is pretty much doing the same. She has support for all her goals, except for the main one, which is calling out other girls on rules.

From the outside, this sounds like being a tattletale. But what it comes down to is personal accountability. The whole concept of realizing you are in control of all your decisions, and you are responsible for them and the results you get from them. And one of the ways you learn this is to accept the decisions you make - and the easiest way to do this is acknowledging when you decide to break a rule. However it is hardest to admit this to ourselves, and we often need help. So the girls are supposed to track when each other breaks a rule, and bring it to their attention. It isn't about punishing them, but about getting them to realize they made the decision, and here are the consequences.

Yes, the confrontation is hard. I have a problem with this myself - I don't like to hold the boys accountable for their chores (and I resent when Diane holds me accountable for not holding the boys accountable (ok, honesty time - I resent it BIG TIME, especially because I just feel like the go between - but that is another issue entirely)). However one of their rules is to hold others accountable - so they are actually breaking a rule when they let someone else break one without calling them on it.

However it does get easier, and the amazing thing is that people will step up. You phrase things in the terms of agreements - Did you agree to do (or not do) X? Do you acknowledge that you did not do (or did) X? From there you can deal with consequences, and integrity. Ultimately it isn't so much about others but about keeping the agreements you make - which leads to honesty and integrity and trust - and those are three things that Katie needs desperately.

So B, her therapist, had an interesting idea last night on the call. For the next week this is her only goal - she won't have to worry about the others for now. But every day she doesn't do it, when they are in their group sessions, she will then have to confront every girl there with an issue they have to work on. Right then. And there will be no avoiding or putting that off. So the next call should have some kind of interesting results.

One other thing Katie has tried - she wrote Diane saying that she wanted Diane to adopt her. We shut that down, but it was still something we had to deal with. She has such big issues with her birth mother, and I can understand these, but that is not a solution ( aside from the legal and cost issues involved for - well for nothing at this point). It is interesting to note that she said she wanted to do this as a symbol of her relationship with Diane. We replied that the relationship has to be repaired first - and even if we did an adoption, the paper wouldn't change the relationship. And while it has improved - Diane and Katie have an enormously long way to go. The distance between them is farther than the physical distance by a long ways, and will be much harder to truly cross.

Friday, February 09, 2007


I had our bi-weekly call with A, the family rep. last night. She is very nice to talk to, we ended up talking for almost an hour (most of it not about Katie)!

Katie had a bit of an up and down week. The real up point was that she attended the 'Orientation' seminar, this time as a Buddy, and once again graduated. Orientation is the first seminar the kids attend, and it introduces them to a lot of the concepts. They assign an 'older' (meaning one who has been through it) girl to each pair of new girls going through it as a buddy, to help them out. Apparently she had mixed feelings about this, but ended up doing ok and graduating again from it. I tried to emphasize with her (in my letter this week) that this is a good thing, and there is always more to learn. Even teachers learn when they teach a subject (and in fact, you never learn anything as well as when you teach it).

Then in group later in the week things didn't go quite so well. She brought up that she felt she was being 'disrespected' by several of the girls there. After she finished, A simply stated that if she talked to the other girls the way she had presented in group, then it would instead come across that she was disrespecting them. She, of course, did not like hearing that one little bit.

So it was mixed progress. We'll wait and see where she goes now - if she takes the opportunity to learn and grow, or shuts down, falls back into her old patterns, and loses the little bit of momentum she had gained.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Please sir, may I have some more?

Well, this Oliver Twist managed to survive his initial beating so far. Looks like we are approved for another 6 months worth of financing. It is kind of funny - I am so afraid of getting behind on paying the school that I actually jumped the gun on a little bit on this one. I don't think they will need the new money until March 23, but they should actually get the first one this week. And for some reason this is in five disbursements instead of six like the last one.

That is one thing about Sallie Mae - since they do it a bit at a time at least you have a few months to ramp up the payments before you start in full for the rest of your life. It will be a bit weird, because I will now have two Sallie Mae payments each month.

One of the things I need to do is to consolidate all of these into a single payment - but I've heard some things about that which make me want to wait until we have them all. And that may be another year and a half from now.

So a bit of breathing room, at least for the next six months. It has us really worried that we would not be able to get loans and she would have to come home early. Unfortunately, if she hits 18 then she will probably have to come home anyway, but at that point things are a bit different. At 18 she may come back, but doesn't have to be in the home. Before that there really isn't a choice.

Of course maybe she has really turned things around like it seemed last week - only time and her will tell on that.

We shipped off a box to her today. The 7 Habits for Highly Successful Teens Workbook, two big bottles of Dove body wash for sensitive skin, her med refills, a valentine, and a letter from her grandparents.

The letter is a bit rough, especially after having a good week - but she has got to be able to face the disappointment others have been feeling with her.

The body wash is for her Excema - she has it pretty bad, and the dermatologist they took her to said that she had developed an alergy to the soap there. A, the family rep, picked some up for her, but I figured I could get some more when I was at the store. It doesn't really surprise me - she has always had really sensitive skin. I remember when she was real little, she would get McD's chicken mcnuggets with the sweet and source sauce - and everywhere it touched her face (you know kids, getting it all over) it would leave a red mark.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Some small progress

Well, we had a pleasant surprise yesterday during our call. B, the therapist, reviewed what Katie had been doing. The first week it was pretty much the same, but the second week she had gained support in nearly all her goals, being about 80% completion. That is a huge jump. And then he went and got her on the call, which was the first time in about six weeks.

We told her we were proud of her accomplishments, but not to give up. She was saying that there was one goal she couldn't do (calling other girls on rule violations) - that it was just too hard. I tried to frame it just like everything else in her life - where it all seems too hard until she does it.

So, for the first time in a long while she actually seems to have a little bit of positive momentum.

And I contacted the admission company about trying for another loan. I figured I'd ask for the next 17 months (to get to her 18th birthday) - I don't know if I'll get it, or just part of it again. But it is a start.

Friday, January 26, 2007

No real change

No real change this week. We had our call with A, the family rep, yesterday, and that went well. It was a bit humorous, as I think we told her more than she told us, simply filling her in on a lot of background.

As much as Katie is bringing her baggage with her, there is still a lot of starting over right now. She is still out of Orange, and slowly accumulating points. She is working on her homework for the next seminar - well, except for working on earning her level - as she has to be at level 3 to attend it, regardless of what homework is done.

We haven't heard from her in a couple of weeks as well, so hard to judge based on her letters, since we haven't had any.

She does have a rash, and I have to call today to give the insurance info to a dermatologist for her to see. I should have done this last week, but I kept leaving the number at home (and of course I need to call during the day to set this up). But I have it here now, so I can get it taken care of today.

Then next week one of the more fun parts starts again - it is time to apply for a third loan to keep her there. This part makes me real nervous - are we going to get another one, and for how much (i.e. how long?) I've estimated that it will be another $72,000 to keep her there until her 18th birthday or so - which is slightly less than we've already taken out. From what I know, my credit is pretty good anymore - the biggest concern is how much we owe - that is why the last loan was only enough for six months instead of a year. However when we did that one we were in the process of consolidating a bunch of other stuff - so all of it would have been outstanding at the time. With all those other things (car, gutters, credit cards, etc) paid off on that second mortgage I hope that it will go better.

It makes me feel a little bit like Oliver Twist though. "More please?"

I am really hoping I can do it without anythign else, but I do have some other ideas to help if they turn us down. I don't know if they would work, but it is better than nothing at all. I think, worst case being that we couldn't get any more loans, that I could come up with something like four to six months worth (via tax refund (that we are hoping is really good) and 401K loans), but it would really leave us hurting, especially because the payments on that option would be as much or more than what the education loans would be. Then there would be the straight 401k hardship withdrawal after that - which would not directly hurt so bad, but really hurt retirement, especially because I would have to stop contributing to it, which means I would lose the company match, which is the only retirement money they are providing any more.

But who am I fooling with that? The way things are, I can never retire anyway. I have to work another 30 years to pay off the loans I already have.

I do figure that once they are all done I can consolidate all of them into one, which should make that part a little less painful each month.

I sure hope Diane manages to sell a lot more houses this year - it would make everything a lot easier if we were a steady two income household. Last year she went from for over six months with no closings. Overall she didn't have a bad year (August was really good), but it wasn't consistent, and wasn't great.

Ok, this is depressing enough for one day.

Friday, January 19, 2007

First Call

We (finally) had our first call with the new therapist, B, last night. He sounds fairly nice, and right on the ball. He is a bit different than the previous one, but then that is what we were trying for as nothing was working before.

They do seem to have a fairly good handle on Katie, especially the part about not wanting to continue with her previous goals, and putting them off whenever possible. One thing he is all about though is to have her earn privileges, so I don't know when she will actually be on a therapy call again. That, in my opinion, is not a bad thing. If it will motivate her to work then it is all good.

Right after we got off that call, we also heard from the new family rep, A. She really seemed nice as well, and apologized for not getting with us sooner, but she just got the paperwork on Katie (isn't bureacracy wonderful!). So we will have our regular calls with her also on Thursdays, just a bit later.

She is concerned about the rash Katie has, an I need to make arrangements with a dermatologist for her to get an appointment - and of course I left that information at home today. She also saw that Katie was saying her knee hurt - but I think that is from all the running. We did get her a simple knee brace when we were there in October.

She did agree that there is pretty much no substance in any of Katie's letters, which is the same as in her group. One of the things they are going to try is to have her talk about something about each of the other girls - putting the focus off of herself for once.

One of the other things that was a bit surprising was a new 'revelation' that she made to everyone and said she put in her autobiography, but that none of us have heard of / seen before. We honestly don't believe her, and think once more she is making stuff up to try and get acceptance and fit in with her new group.


as much as things change, they still stay the same.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Feeling Poorly

We actually got a call from our old rep last night, because we aren't really set up with the new one yet. Apparently chicken pox is going around the school, and Katie has a rash. It isn't chicken pox, as she has had it, but it does appear to be infectious, so she is in the infirmary with it.

Plus the dentist does recommend she get her wisdom teeth out - however right now I would like to hold off on that for a while, unless they really start to act up. While it is 'minor' surgery, it is surgery and that is especially hard on someone without any family there, and the school really isn't set up for that. They recommended we wait until she makes a higher level, so we can do it on a pass. I kind of laughed at that, but we may just have to wait until she is actually at home for it, as it seems to me much more likely at this point than her making a high level.

It looks like our therapy calls will be on Thursdays with B, so I hope to get our alternate calls the same with A, but I haven't heard from her yet. This is the off week for therapy calls, so the first will be next week.

I don't like hearing that she is sick, and know that being away from home makes it even worse. Unfortunately it is a fact of life. Maybe this will make her want to come home a bit more, since nothing else seems to be able to inspire her.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Nice Weekend, new therapist

This past weekend we met up with our Keys family at the "Great Wolf Lodge" indoor waterpark in Sandusky Ohio, and it was a lot of fun, both for the boys and for us to have a chance to get with our 'family' outside of the seminars. Lots of playing in the water and talking. It is always nice to start to get to know the people you see there outside of that environment - I've found it fairly amazing how you can share such intimate details with people, and yet know so little about their 'normal' lives.

I also heard from Katie's new therapist, B. (I'm going to use his initial because having no way to refer to them except by 'her therapist' and 'family rep' was just getting difficult to write, but still keeps them fairly anonymous. And this is about us after all, not them.

Anyway, it looks like we'll be setting up our call for next week - he seems to be on the opposite weekly schedule than we had before, which is actually no big deal. So this week should be a family rep call, but we haven't gotten that contact yet.

B did say that Katie wanted to start fresh. Of course that means that she has made new goals, rather than work on the ones she had before. That, to me, means that the new goals are probably not what she needs to work on, as her old goals were to simply progress in the program, i.e. get to level 2. She claimed to be working on the homework for the next seminar, which is a moot point right now as she has to be at level 3 to be allowed to go to the next seminar, and right now that is a long way off.

So she has her fresh start - now we just have to see what, if anything, she does with it.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Pulling the Trigger

I just got an email from Katie's therapist, and it looks like they are going to move her tomorrow. We were a little worried when we heard that she wouldn't be going where we first thought, but he put my fears to rest when he said that the therapist he had first thought about is moving on - I had that paranoid feeling that someone else was going to refuse to take her!

I'm going to miss the old therapist and family rep - they were really good people, and have really helped us through this, even is Katie has been so stubborn and refused every opportunity she has yet had.

So tomorrow is a bit of a new start, though I think we are all hoping that the new therapist and family rep will give her the kick in the butt that she needs to actually do something.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Year, Same Old Stuff

So with the new year, people love to make resolutions, reflect on the past year, and paln for the future.

Katie however, is doing none of that. She is simply sitting there. We talked with our family rep last night, and they haven't been able to change her groups yet due to some issues with the group they were going to put her in, so now they are looking at another one. But she has done absolutely nothing at all in the past three weeks, simply waiting for a 'fresh start'. She doesn't seem to realize that in life there aren't any 'do-overs', no one truly gets a fresh start.

As much as a new group will be different, she is the same. And all the girls, from all the groups, know about her. There is enough movement, and the upper level girls doing service work in other groups than their own, so she isn't escaping her past.

She stayed out of Orange, but has done nothing. She says she is working on her homework for the next seminar, but to be eligible to go to the next seminar she has to first achieve level 3, and right now I wonder if that will EVER happen.

When we started this, I was first wondering how long it would take her to graduate, and what we need to change in our home when she returns. Now I'm really questioning if she ever will graduate, if she will even make the next seminar. And I worry a lot about the money, if we can get the next loan, how long we can keep her there, and in the end if she continues to choose not to do anything will this be worth my working for the next 30 years to pay off.

And I'm also frustrated with the constant barrage of student loan consolidation letters. I do plan to consolidate the loans - but only when I have ALL of them in - it doesn't make sense to do it before then, since you can only do it once (or so the law used to be, and I don't know if it has changed).

On the brighter side (if there is one today), I have requested to staff the next Discovery and Focus seminars in Chicago. Right now I'm extremely frustrated and not working my own program, and the fact that we won't be going to any more seminars until May isn't helping, so I figure this will. Since I've done one, I'm not really worried about doing it again, and I really think it will be cool to follow a group from Discovery through Focus into Keys (and not only that, but then perhaps I will actually have some people I know there when I graduate in May - isn't that selfish of me :-) !). Diane isn't going to staff, but she may go with me, though I think that her just sitting in the hotel for three and four days would be kind of a waste, as I won't have any time at all to do anything with her, since you are busy from 9 am to midnight every day. However I think she is a bit worried about me driving home afterward alone when I'm tired.

One last note - they put up new pictures of all the groups, and Katie looks pretty good in hers (much better than the last one) - and like she has lost even more weight, which is also great.