Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Flaky Pastry and Parenting

UPDATE 1/29/10: I have changed this "traditional" recipe now to use traditional, real fats: half butter and half coconut oil. My mom and I both did this for Thanksgiving and the pie crusts came out even better than usual. Yum!

I made pastry dough today using a family recipe. It came from my mother's family, I don't know how far back. It may not be ancient, but it makes really good pie. I was amused at how easy it was for me to make compared to other recipes, it seemed like my hands just knew what they were doing, and my fingers knew when the texture was just right. I have been making this pastry since I was little; watching my mother at first and playing with the dough, then trying my own pies and hearing my dad say (with a twinkle in his eye) "It's good... just needs a little more practice!" So now, it's natural to me. I don't get lost in the recipe, I don't forget the ingredients, there is nothing to figure out. The pies come out great, and Dad still says "Just a little more practice!"
While I was mixing my dough today, I was wishing that parenting was more like making pastry. In fact, I used to think that it was. You follow the recipe, you make a good kid. You raise your children the way you were taught (in my case, coming from a loving home) and things will work out fine. Don't have an old family recipe for raising children? Never fear, just choose one from Dr. Dobson, Michael Pearl, or even Super Nanny! Read the books, follow the steps, and the result will be one nice shining kid.
Anyone who is a parent knows it doesn't work like that. I don't even have a great analogy for parenting, I don't think it fits one. My experience with parenting isn't even the same with each child, and yours would be quite different from mine. The closest thing I can think of at the moment is mining and cutting diamonds. It's hard work, messy, takes forever, and then each diamond has to be cut to bring out the radience of the individual stone. The best part of that analogy is that only a diamond can cut a diamond. So both diamonds are being shaped in the process. We are not creating children like we create a pie, we are being used to shape them. And we too, are being changed.
I need my experience with parenting to conform me into the image of Christ. I form my pastry into pie, and pray that I will be as pliable in his hands. But not quite so flaky.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Twenty Blue Devils and Pumpkin Spice Latte

“A cup of coffee, home made, that comes to you dark as a hazel-eye, but changes to a golden bronze as you temper it with cream…such a cup of coffee is a match for twenty blue devils and will exorcise them all.”
- H. W. Beecher

There are two things that this post grew out of: My annual pumpkin-anything craving and the nurse that Dan saw awhile ago who was adamant that he cut way back on coffee. He did try, but was rather miserable. Those of you who know us well, know that coffee is the culture of the Miller household and we quite agree with someone who has called decaf "useless warm brown water". Susannah once commented on how everyone's house has a certain smell, and I (very afraid) asked what my house smelled like. It was coffee of course. I had been imagining all the other undesirable smells I deal with every day.

This week I tried a pumpkin spice latte from Starbucks and determined to find a way to have one more often. So, here is my recipe for pumpkin spice syrup which you can add to your coffee, or latte. It is especially helpful for those who are battling twenty blue devils.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup

Add to pot:

2 cups water
2 cups sugar
Bring to a simmer and stir to dissolve sugar.


1 1/2 tbsp pumpkin pie spice


1 tbsp of ground cinnamon.
1/2 tbsp of ground ginger.
1 tsp of cloves (or allspice).
1 tsp of freshly grated nutmeg.

Simmer for several minutes
Cool and strain
Add 1 tbsp vanilla extract

I use about 1 oz syrup for a double shot latte, less for coffee.
Top with whipped cream and sprinkle with spice! Enjoy!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Full moon mania

This was the scene at our house earlier this week as the moon reached it's fullness and Cadi reached "hypomanicness". I found this cartoon on a website that has "positive mental health humor". We love that kind of thing around here because laughing releases all kinds of good brain chemicals and keeps us from getting sad/mad/bitter. You can click here to go to their website.
To start from the beginning of this manic episode, about 6 weeks ago Cadi was really hyper and unfocused. She was having trouble staying on task and it looked like her ADHD flaring up. Her Adderall used to help with this kind of thing so we (parents and pdoc) thought perhaps she needed a little more. We cautiously tried a tiny bit higher dose for 3 days and then discontinued because Cadi said it made her feel different, more angry, and we didn't see any improvement. We also raised her Lithium dose a bit to help prevent more mood swings. After that she continued with the hyperactivity and inattention and her impulsivity increased. One night when I called her inside for the night she climbed up a ladder and broke in my upstairs bedroom window. She was more talkative, and on labor day she sat down and talked to a table full of adults about what it was like in the hospital at NIH. They thought it was great that she was having a conversation with them, but it was really out of character for her. She began getting obsessed with one thing that she wanted to do, refusing to do anything else or be helped. This got very difficult when she started obsessing about a certain shirt that she wanted to wear that no one had seen for awhile or knew where to find it. Getting dressed started taking a very long time.
The climax of this episode (so far!) was Monday night (which happened to be a full moon) when she snuck out of the house at 11:30 pm. I heard her coming back in the house and found out that she had gone across the road to her friends house and talked to her. She had also picked up a caterpillar and was breaking out in a rash on her neck when she came back in the house. I treated the rash and put her to bed on the couch so I could watch her until she fell asleep. The rest of the week I discontinued her Adderall (just in case it was adding to the mess of brain chemicals), tried to get in contact with the pdoc and gave her lots of Benadryl. It doesn't make her groggy at all, but it does seem to help her calm down and she had a rash besides.
Tomorrow we will see the pdoc and get her input. The last couple of days have been more manageable. We had such a great summer though and the longest period of stability I have seen; at least 3 months. The fall swing seemed to come a bit earlier than other years, but I have been feeling the seasonal changes too, the light has changed and we have to adjust.
I have some more blog posts rolling around in my head so hopefully I can get them out and posted soon!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Still Praying for Justice in Kenya (video link and my thoughts)

I continue to receive updates on the situation with our friend Jeremiah, in Kenya. There is a video you can see from the local news at

"Friends, As of today, Jeremiah remains in jail. I was able to speak with him today and, while he remains confident that he will be exonerated, he sounded very tired. The police have concluded the investigation and the findings have been forwarded to the regional court for review and recommendation. The police feel that there is no evidence that has been uncovered that, in any way, implicates Jeremiah. However, the final determination of what comes next depends upon the judge who will examine the case. Please continue to pray that the Truth will prevail and that the healing can begin for the Pallangyos and for Naivasha. As a pastor friend of Jeremiah said to me, "Next will be damage control". Accusation (especially false accusation) can be devastating and only God knows the ultimate effect of this crisis upon the New Hope for All Nations Church and the ministry of Jeremiah and Beth. May we pray that it comes out of this stronger than ever! Continue to remember the Pallangyo children (Faith, Grace, Caleb and Winnie) as they try to deal with this attack upon their dad. Pray for the Church leaders as they stand for their Bishop and their ministry. Pray for the young man who committed these terrible acts. Pray that the Lord teach all of us what He would have us to learn in the midst of trials such as these."

"Beth returned home about 9PM her time today (2PM our time) . She had just
returned from visiting and taking food to Jeremiah. She 's been going there
3 times a day to visit and to bring him meals and bring him water to wash in
his cell. I asked her if he is comfortable and she told me that it is
difficult for him to be comfortable because he is sharing the cell with
others, including Geoffrey Matheri, the serial murderer and rapist who is
the accuser who implicated Jeremiah in the horrible crimes Geoffrey admitted
to commiting."
Can you imagine being in the same cell with these guys?

A final note: Jeremiah has been represented during this process by a group of attorneys recommended by his advisers. It has been their duty to see that all of the appropriate legal processes have been followed and to assure that Jeremiah is not "railroaded" in the heat of the moment. They have performed their work well---but, unfortunately, not pro bono. Consequently, there is an obligation of $3,500 owing to this firm. This is a sum that the Pallangyos do not have. If you would be willing to help defray this cost, you can do so through Child's Hope International on line @"

I am praying that this money does not have to come out of the mouths of orphans. The price of basic food like rice has gone so high around the world and there are so many orphans still starving in Africa. My heart has been broken over this lately, especially while we are complaining about affording the gas to put into our shiny cars, and my church is pouring money into colored glass.  We live world's away from the reality of life in places like Kenya. May our hearts be tender and ready to act as we are able.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Please Pray! ....UPDATE

From an email I received this morning:

"Jeremiah was on television last night and appeared very calm and spoke very clearly. This case has galvanized churches all over the nation and East Africa. Leaders from all over the region have begun to come to his aid.

Mama said the investigation is continuing, which she and Jeremiah want to happen, because until the investigation is fully done his name cannot be completely cleared."

I will keep you updated here when I find out more. Thanks for praying with us, Kathryn

Please Pray!

I received an urgent prayer request for Jeremiah Paragyo, who is a national pastor in Kenya and cares for many orphans in his home. Dan is involved with an organization that works to raise support and involvement with this man's ministry in Kenya. He is pictured below with "his kids".

Jeremiah has been implicated and named as an accomplice in a terrible crime.
"A shocked Bishop Paragyo told the reporters that his detractors were trying to malign him in public. Kisang' said the Bishop would remain in police custody to shed more light on the saga that has left many people reeling in shock and disbelief."
I don't want to share the entire story here on my blog because of it's graphic nature, but please do click the link to read the news article explaining the situation here.

Also visit Child's Hope to find out more about the organization that Dan is involved with, and Jeremiah's ministry.

"Please join us all in praying for Jeremiah and Beth and that the truth is brought out as loud as the National News broadcast these horrid accusations."

Thanks, Kathryn

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I'm hooked

I never thought it would happen. I have become a true blogger. I read AND write blogs, I check them daily, and I laugh and cry with my fellow bloggers.  I sit in front of my screen and tears roll down my face as I read what other women have written, what they are living, how they draw others closer to God through their stories. I want to introduce you to two blogs that have blown me away recently.

The first is My Charming Kids.

This is the site I have had in my sidebar as a prayer request. God is doing miraculous things in this unborn baby's life and it's faith-challenging to watch. I love this blog because I am reminded to pray and that God responds to our prayers, and because the photos are so beautiful.

The second is Bring the Rain.

I read this one last night with tears falling like rain. God answered this family's prayers in a different way, and somehow the beauty of life and family is no more apparent than in this story. The pictures and words are beyond moving, and the Sovereignty of God shines through each detail. Here's an excerpt that I love:

(A 5 year old makes a picture for her newborn sister who has recently died)

"I want to give it to her, mommy.  I want to put it in her basket." 

They call her "casket" a "basket," and we don't correct them, because frankly, I like the idea of a basket better anyway.

"OK."  Now what do I say? How am I going to explain this to a 5 year old?

 She looked at me, waiting.

"So..should we put it in the mailbox, mommy? Will the man come and get it?"  

She wanted to understand the details of our new situation, and the truth at that moment was that I did too.

"Well, Abby, the great thing about heaven is that Audrey can see all of the things that we are doing down here.  AND, she can see what you made for her!  She can just look right into our house and see it."  I waited to see how this felt to her.

Without a word, she spoke life back into my tired bones.

She took the edges of the drawing delicately and lifted it high above her head, closer to her baby sister.  She had her head tipped back, looking upward, and after a few seconds, she closed her eyes and a smile made it's way across her face.

"She liked it, didn't she?" I asked her quietly.

She nodded, still glowing, and ran off to play.

I don't know where you are tonight, or what hurts you are holding up to God, but I will promise you this.  If you can just trust Him enough to bring it to Him, He will rejoice in your masterpiece.  And if you need to scream a little, know that you have a God who can take that too, as long as your face is tilted (even slightly) toward Him."
You need to go read some more of this blog, but make sure you have tissues handy.

Blackberry Summer

Posted by Picasa

Friday, August 1, 2008

Family Vacation and Family News

For our family vacation we rented a cabin on Pleasant Lake, and enjoyed lots of fishing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and crafts. I always have to plan some crafts because when the kids finally drag themselves out of the water, the first thing they say is "We're bored." In these pictures we are doing fish print T-shirts. We caught fish, painted them and plopped them on our shirts. We made one for each member of our family. And yes, that is a onesie in the middle and we are expecting a new addition in early February! We are very excited and still a little nervous, but as I am moving into the second trimester this week, hopefully the biggest risk is past. You can check Pocketful Of Hope for more baby details. I apologize for not blogging here since May (yikes!) but writing has not been my favorite pastime lately. I'm sure it will come back to me eventually, along with my taste for chocolate, which I really could care less about right now.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, May 23, 2008


I used to think that at this point in my life I would be speaking a foreign language and my children would be running around babbling in something very tribal. As it turns out, our family has been learning a language completely foreign to us and to many of the people around us. Here's some examples of common phrases overheard in the Miller house recently.

Situation: Acadia placed in time out.
"I need to get my destructive feelings out. I need to rip grass, tear paper or chew ice, and you're not letting me use any of my coping skills."

Situation: Acadia spits at Lily, Lily responds.
"Just because you're mad about something doesn't mean you have to take it out on me. Why do you always take it out on me? Take it out on a thing, not a person."

Situation: Kids fight over front seat, Lily immediately moves to the back, Mom confronts Acadia, Acadia responds.
"I don't think that's right either, she shouldn't just move...Lily, get back in the front seat."

Situation: Mom tells Lily that she has found a therapist for her. Lily responds.

"Oh good, I wanted one."

Situation: Kathryn, watching PBS documentary on depression, starts asking the researchers...
"Oh, so if those areas of the brain are linked, what happens if you stimulate the prefrontal cortex? Does the hippocampus respond, or does area 25 show any changes?"

Here's some pictures of the restless natives:

Friday, May 9, 2008

For Mother's Day

For Mother's day, I want to ask everyone to watch this video and to remember the women who will be not be getting a card or a kiss or breakfast in bed on Sunday. Pray for the women in your church or community who cannot have a child. This will be a difficult day for them. Those of us who have children have no idea how blessed we are.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Model Kid

Miracle Kid

She played her first softball game, hit two singles, slid into a base, and ran home twice! I am marveling at the miracle of what it took her for her to do something other kids wouldn't think twice about. Since we found out a month late that softball had started, she missed all the practices and ended up starting the night of their first game. She was shy, but did fine socially, and played well for her first game. The game went from 5:30 to 8:00 and she stayed with her team, in batting order, and payed attention really well. She has been having a hard time lately, very intense, agitated and easily frustrated, and we also found out that her thyroid is now UNDER active and she has to start a new medication for that. If you didn't know, you'd just have thought she was the shy new kid on the team, not the miracle kid she is to have overcome so many obstacles just to be able to PLAY!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Normal Update

The blood work I had done after the miscarriage came back and it was all normal, as we expected. I knew I didn't have my Dad's blood clotting disorder which I got tested for several years ago, now I know that I don't have any other ones either.

Lily and I went on a field trip to a greenhouse with our homeschool group. She had a great time with her friends and brought home an elephant ear and a geranium. Later we snuggled on the couch and watched "My Louisiana Sky" with Daddy. I've been working on her scrapbook that covers her birth up to age 2 and I'm finally almost done!

Acadia stayed overnight at Grammie's as she's been doing every Wednesday. She's had some rough days and it was a relief to drop her off yesterday. She's started using language like "what the heck" and "Oh my gosh" and becoming extremely intense and agitated this week. She's been wrecking rooms when she's upset which takes us sometimes hours to get her to clean it all up. On the other hand she's had some good times when she's able to play and work just fine. Monday was a great morning for her but it didn't last more than half a day. I really don't know what's up with her. It could be a response to my feeling sad and depressed, or it could be the weather changing (which is what she claims) or maybe her medication isn't right again. I was glad I didn't decide to drag her along to the greenhouse, it would have been sensory overload! Anyway, it's stressful but manageable and part of our normal.

We've started the garden and we're filling up the pool, and Dan got his van stuck in the muddy yard yesterday so spring is in full bloom at our house! We can't wait for warm weather. We retired our rabbit who lost two litters and bought a new little 12 week bunny girl. I can't post a pic right now but she's the sweetest puffball and the girls named her Nellie. We hope to breed her in a few months and have better success than we've had so far. The rabbits are our family hobby and eventually we want to get the kids involved more so it can be a project for them.

Wow, this update does sound rather normal. Maybe we can hang out here for awhile.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


"Grief is like a drunken houseguest, always coming back for one more goodbye hug."

I've never had a drunken houseguest, (my poor guests are offered milk or water!) but this stinkin grief thing is annoying. Every once in awhile I just start sobbing. And now it's sitting on me and won't get off. This drunken houseguest is bringing all his friends back too, from my other miscarriages, to my brother Noah being in the NICU, all the way back to my brother Zebulun's stillbirth 15 years ago. It's like a sad scrapbook that's sitting out on the coffee table. I keep putting it on the shelf and someone keeps getting it out again.

Saturday, April 26, 2008


I went to see my doctor for a check-up on Tuesday. The miscarriage was complete with no complications and he sees no signs of any problems that require future intervention. I did ask for some blood tests which he agreed to although we don't expect to find a problem there either. It is hard to accept, but miscarriage is normal. Even recurrent miscarriage is normal. Research shows that even after 3 or 4 miscarriages most women will go on to have a healthy pregnancy without any intervention. Do we plan to try again? Well, there is something about having a miscarriage that makes us want to fight all the harder to bring another life into this world. To do that we have to get back on the roller coaster, but hey, that's normal around here. It's hard for us to say that we "plan" to have another baby. Early in our marriage we asked God to give us children as he saw fit, and then began waiting on him to give us a baby. You could say we have experienced infertility at various times, but on the other hand, we have two children and we were serious when we put our family in his hands. Even when we make decisions regarding our family, God is always reminding us that he is the author of life. He gives and he waits to give, he takes and he gives us himself.
In the reading that I have been doing since the miscarriage, I have been awed by the mystery surrounding the beginning of life. I had no idea that we know so little about why life begins and why it doesn't or why it ends so quickly. The sovereignty of God is nowhere more vital and powerful than the sacred beginning of the smallest embryo. This intersection of the physical and spiritual is holy ground, the miraculous "normal", that we take for granted... until it's gone.
Of the three miscarriages I have had, this one was the hardest. I don't imagine they get any easier, and I realize that if I do become pregnant, I could go through this all over again. But it's just as likely that I could go on to have a healthy baby. And we're back to the sovereignty of God. I cannot trust in statistics, no matter how favorable they may be. They tell me nothing of the story of my life that God is writing. I have no idea whether we will have more children, and I will not pretend that I am in control of it. I have been reminded of the fragility of life, and my place in the hands of the Creator.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


As the song says, I am being held. By love and prayers and really tight hugs.
I am healing, but I am not, as someone told me, "amazing". You might like to know that I too screamed at God in the night. Those words that came when I could not form any others, when anger was my first and all encompassing emotion. But as I came to the moment when my baby slipped away I felt the grace of God melt all of that anger into a sad acceptance. I don't know how He did it, but I know it wasn't me. He gives life, and He takes it, and he caresses my rage into gentle tears. He takes my chin in his hand and gently turns my head.
My girls are beautiful. They are happy and full of the promise of spring. They are muddy and sunkissed and stomping the last pile of snow, barefoot in bikinis. They are giggling in the bath and ask "Mom, what is that animal with a squarish nose that likes to go in the water sometimes, but lives on land? It's a something-bara". "A capybara.", I said. "Yes! We are capybaras and we have to wash our fur now." They are playing baseball and floating boats and drawing fairies and birds. All is right with girlhood at this glorious moment of spring. This, too, holds me.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Another Heaven-Birth

Last night we lost another 9 week baby. We don't know why, although we hope to get some kind of medical answer in the future. As we grieve we covet your prayers for our healing. Right now it seems like a reoccurring nightmare. This song could have come straight from my heart. Take some time to listen. (I double posted this on my other blog so no one would miss it.)

Held by Natalie Grant

Two months is too little.
They let him go.
They had no sudden healing.
To think that providence would
Take a child from his mother while she prays
Is appalling.

Who told us we'd be rescued?
What has changed and why should we be saved from nightmares?
We're asking why this happens
To us who have died to live?
It's unfair.

This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive.
This is what it is to be loved.
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we'd be held.

This hand is bitterness.
We want to taste it, let the hatred numb our sorrow.
The wise hand opens slowly to lilies of the valley and tomorrow.

This is what it means to be held.
How it feels when the sacred is torn from your life
And you survive.
This is what it is to be loved.
And to know that the promise was
When everything fell we'd be held.

If hope is born of suffering.
If this is only the beginning.
Can we not wait for one hour watching for our Savior?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Pocketful of Hope

Yep! This is what it looks like! Our 8 week Belly Bean! We have known for awhile, but were waiting for this ultrasound to find out if the baby is healthy before we spread the news. Everything looks great and there is only a 5% chance of miscarriage now. For more details check out my baby blog at Pocketful of Hope. You might want to read the posts in order by going to the bottom first, if you want to catch up.
Acadia is doing pretty well right now. We seem to be avoiding the extremes and are just dealing with the regular stuff. She developed a new coping strategy: chewing ice cubes! Sunshine, bikes, the tire swing, and an emerging yard are really good medicine for any kid!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Brushing Off the Ants

It's very quiet in my house right now. Which is why I'm still up and have the desire to write. I love nighttime quiet, but not morning quiet. There is a difference. At night the silence feels like a blanket settling over me, a tent that gives me a place to think. In the morning, it feels like a blanket weighing me down with a heavy, sleepy promise that the day can wait just a little longer.
One of the reasons I am enjoying this quiet is that Acadia is quite frankly driving me nuts with her constant motion and sound. She's so squirmy and fidgety and nothing is right. It's like being next to a person with ants crawling all over them, you really would like to run in the other direction! Sounds are too loud (or too quiet), the stuff sticks out of the sandwiches too far, her teeth feel like something is stuck in them, her pants are too loose or too tight, her hair is too frizzy, her skin is too itchy... you get the point. Of course I'm supposed to fix all this immediately, but without speaking. I can only say about 5 words before she cuts me off and talks loudly and rapidly over me so that I will not finish my sentence and thereby say something that she already knows. Heavens, it might be redundant, unacceptable to her, or completely uneccasary and we can't have extra words floating about willy-nilly in the air. Sigh...tonight she told me she feels awful all day long and that she needs more attention from me. So I promised it, but right now that is really not what I want to do.
But tommorow I will get up (with a giant heave of the morning heaviness blanketing me) and start again. And the Grace will be there, that is my comfort. I will brush the ants off my daughter, the cobwebs from my mind, and the snarls out of fine blonde hair. I will read and pray and ask Him what my kids need from me today, and for the grace to let go and give it freely, as I have received.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Safe in Grace

I had a meeting with Acadia's doctors at the hospital today. The latest and most significant development is that she has developed hyperthyroidism. This is most likely a result of being on lithium. Statistically 12% of patients on lithium develop hypothyroidism while a rare 2% develop hyperthyroidism. Some studies I've read suggest that withdrawing lithium can cause this, and we did withdraw her lithium for about 6 weeks before adding it again.

Because hyperthyroidism causes symptoms such as anxiety, erratic behavior, nervousness, irritability, or panic attacks; this could be contributing to or causing some of her difficulties right now. So this is the first thing we will be treating.

Acadia will be in the hospital for at least two weeks. I was able to take her out for an hour today and we went to the mall. She did well, but she seems a little bit on edge. Today she got a roommate. It will be good for her to have another girl to hang out with. She's not doing school right now and kind of bored...she even asked me to bring in her math book!

Our family is relieved to feel safe again. Acadia is safe where she is and in an environment that she can handle. Lily is free to build forts without having them destroyed, Dan can cook in the kitchen and have the knives out on the counter, and I don't have to keep looking behind me to keep from being hit or hurt. Without living in that environment for two weeks you cannot know the relief that we feel to out of it. Instead of feeling sad or scared that our daughter is in a psychiatric hospital, we have peace and hope for her recovery. That is God's Grace in the ups and downs of life.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Code Green

We hospitalized Acadia yesterday. We went to the hospital intending to do an intake eval for the day program. It had just dawned on me the day before that Acadia Hospital (the private psych hospital in Bangor) has a day program for kids that I could try to get Acadia into. On the way into the appointment she screamed "Help!" for 30 min. I think she sensed what was about to happen. We got about 20 min into the eval and the clinician said "I don't really need to go any further. I can tell you right now that she should be admitted." When Acadia heard that, she bolted. She opened the door and started running down the halls. The clinician pushed the button on the wall. "Code Green in the Access Center!" 15 people appeared out of nowhere and 4 of them restrained her. They were very calm and quiet, and only spoke a few necessary words. They used her name and asked her to calm down. Even with four people holding her she was still trying to bite, kick, and get away! I thought "Wow, I've been doing that by myself, and it's actually a four person job."
So since we were at the hospital when this happened, they immediately started the process (with my permission) for admission. I was relieved to have avoided the whole emergency room scene this time. I even felt a bit sly for having found the back door in to the system!
After we got her a room, Mom and I left. She threw a fit and had to be restrained again, but eventually she calmed down. We went to meet Bekah and Evan at the mall and I got a little baby therapy before we headed home. Dan and I packed Acadia's bag and got her a happy meal and went back to the hospital. We played a game and got all her stuff put away in her room. I read "The Stinky Cheese Man" to her. When we left she started in again, but I don't know yet how things went after that. We plan to go visit again this afternoon.
I feel so relieved to have her in the hospital. I knew I was tired and getting depressed and feeling trapped, but I feel all of that melting away now that I know she is in good hands. I was very impressed with the hospital and the staff, and I feel like she really needs to be there to get the intensive care that she needs right now.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

God complex

We tried to go to church this morning, but we never made it out the door. Acadia had her morning episode and that pretty much took away any thoughts we had of getting to church. She has been having 2-4 episodes per day now. These are mixed states of surging energy and dark thoughts, which usually results in screaming, crying, hitting herself and others, and raging through the house making huge messes. Other times she is just irritable or hyper and silly. The most disturbing thing right now is her fixation on trying to figure out why life is worth living. She also has this heightened spiritualality or as Dan described it this morning a "God complex". When she is upset she starts talking (or yelling, or crying) to God and asking him to do things or answer her questions. It's strange, I want her to pray, to reach out to God in the midst of her struggles, but this is not quite right. She was frantically searching her Bible this morning for verses that tell parents not to torture their children. She was praying that we would stop being cruel to her and that God would help her show us how wrong we are. She keeps telling us to do what God wants us to do. Then she sits there and screams that she is doing what God wants her to do. She wanted us to go to church so that we would learn something.
Since all that blew over, she's been okay this morning. She has these hours of being calm before she explodes again. We've decided to keep her at home unless she tries to injure herself or someone else, or unless the episodes get closer together again.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

To Whom it may concern

I sat there while you spoke to her, trying to figure out if I was really hearing those words. You did not yell. If you had I would have jumped up and blocked her ears. I would have used my body as a shield against the arrow coming at her. But I didn't know until it was too late. Words cannot be gathered up and put back again. They are arrows that sink deeply in the heart. That makes them especially hard to forgive. When they hurt a child, they are hard to forget.
You are an adult. She is a child with mental illness who has been suffering more than she ever has before. Dan and I have been painstakingly rebuilding the house of cards that is her emotional stability. Trying to show her that we love her unconditionally and yet have standards for behavior. Rewarding her progress with praise and encouragement. She was doing well today. Really only two episodes with many hours in between. She was struggling this evening, but she was pulling through. She ate dinner at the table. Do you even know what it took for her to be able to do that? When you asked her to stop saying things over and over, she did. When I asked her to log off the computer, she did. She was frustrated, but she did what she was asked to do with no fighting. That was huge! When she let out a short scream, it was like a pressure valve allowing a burst of steam to escape, so that nothing explodes, so that the situation doesn't become dangerous. She was calming down, when you walked in and spoke your piece..and she went to pieces.
She blames herself. She thinks that if she were never born, you would still be here and we would all be laughing and playing a game together. That we would all be happier without her. She hates herself, wants to die, wants to know why she should keep living. Thinks she can't do anything right. Won't listen to a word I try to say.
Her tears burn my heart. I can't stop the arrows she aims at herself, anymore than I could stop the ones that come flying.
But why? Why do they fill the air over the head of my little girl. She is sick. She doesn't mean to be, she is not manipulating, she is not pretending. Why can't thinking adults just understand that!
Sometimes all I can do is write. When she is finally done for the day, I take all the outrage and pour it through my fingers. I don't have the energy to do anything else with it.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Our world has been spinning and our daughter has been spinning out of control. But for about 24 hours she managed to hold it together while she stayed over at her cousin's. How or why she was able to do this I don't know. As soon as she stepped into my car, she let it all out. When we got to Dr. D's office she told me her name was LaFreaka and if anyone called her Acadia she was going to turn them into dust and put the pieces of dust in different countries. We went into the waiting room and she wrote on the wall with a crayon. In Dr. D's office she started scribbling on paper, flailing on the floor, crying, yelling, screaming, biting herself, hitting herself, etc. Dr. D asked her if she felt like hurting herself and she said "Yes, but I don't have a plan!" Can you tell she knows the drill now? "Do you have thoughts about hurting someone else?" "Yes!" "Who?" "Everyone!"
So she was a wreck and the doc said she should probably be hospitalized.
Now to catch you all up, we tried to hospitalize her Monday and that resulted in 5+ hours in the ER and then going home because there was just "No room at the Inn". Still nothing available Tuesday morning which is when my SIL offered to take her for the day and overnight if it worked out. So that's what we did, and it apparently worked out. Jump back to today, I have to make a decision. If I go head with admission, we can skip the ER because we just saw the doc. But what about the previous 24 hours? Where does that come in to the picture? The doc didn't have much of an explanation for me other than sometimes in a different environment kids can hold it together for awhile. She said it was up to me whether I wanted to take her home and try again, or admit her. Dan didn't know what we should do, either. In the midst of this, Dr. D took a break to call the hospital and I took Acadia to get a snack. At this point she switched. All of a sudden she was calm and talking to me. She started talking about how she was just pretending in the doc's office, and that she really could control herself. The next minute she was telling me that she thought maybe I wasn't real and I was some person in a good costume trying to kidnap her. Probably not, but she couldn't really be sure. is she manipulating? Paranoid? I have no idea. She says she wants to go back to the doc and tell her how she "really" feels. Sounds like a good idea. Back we go and she does start talking and answering questions. Acadia's story now is that she feels fine and wants to go home. I notice her movements getting faster and more driven. She starts setting up this whole playset of dinosaurs and gets so involved in playing with them, that she's not hearing what we say to her anymore. No one is going to make this decision for me so I say "Okay, I think that we are probably seeing some progress at least in the length of time that she is able to use self-control, and possibly in the length of time between episodes. I think I will take her home and we will wait and see what happens from here. If things go really badly tonight and we need to hospitalize her tomorrow I will call you, otherwise we will deal with it at home."
I drove home with her screaming, smashing the car vents, and describing each of her feelings with a different face and a different voice; happy, sad, angry, grumpy, scared and zooming. At home we tried to have a "normal" evening routine. The girls played on the computer together and started connecting again. We had some screaming and fits, but we also had cooperation with our bedtime routine. She was anxious about going to bed alone and threw a fit, but she told me that she stopped and asked God to help her do the right thing. Then she came and calmly asked me to lay down with her for a few minutes. This was a huge step for her and we told her how proud we were of her for that. Before she drifted off to sleep she asked me why God made her with Bipolar. I said that there isn't one answer to that question, like 2+2=4. It's more like a mystery. And she has the rest of her life to look for clues.

Friday, February 1, 2008

"Show the doctor, honey."

We took Acadia in to see Dr. D today. Mom came with me. Cadi quit talking as soon as we were in the office. But she tried to express herself by drawing pictures and finding toys to act out her emotions. She was tearing around the office with a lot of energy. Dr. D told us that the citalopram triggered a mixed state.

Here's a description of a Bipolar "mixed" state: "Symptoms of mania and depression are present at the same time. The symptom picture frequently includes agitation, trouble sleeping, significant change in appetite, psychosis, and suicidal thinking. Depressed mood accompanies manic activation.
Sometimes severe mania or depression is accompanied by periods of psychosis. Psychotic symptoms include hallucinations (hearing, seeing, or otherwise sensing the presence of stimuli that are not actually there) and delusions (false fixed beliefs that are not subject to reason or contradictory evidence and are not explained by a person's usual cultural concepts). Psychotic symptoms associated with bipolar disorder typically reflect the extreme mood state at the time (e.g., grandiosity during mania, worthlessness during depression)."

The problem is that even though it was the medication that triggered this, and it should be out of her system now, the mixed state could continue for weeks. We can try to bring it down with other meds, but there is no guarantee. Dr.D said that if we put her in the hospital she could be monitered and meds could be adjusted quickly. Mom asked if we put Acadia in the hospital if I could be with her. I shook my head, Dr. D said no, and Acadia started crying. We talked about our options for awhile and Acadia clung to me and cried. Dr. D said she would feel better about us keeping her at home if Acadia would talk to her about whether she felt like hurting anyone. Acadia sobbed "I don't want to hurt myself. I don't want to hurt Mom, I just want to stay with her." So we agreed to take her home and give her Seroquel and Ativan in increased doses, and take her to get bloodwork done in the morning for her Lithium level. If we need to we can take her to the ER this weekend, but otherwise we will check in with Dr. D on Monday.
I do have some good news. After we gave Acadia her medications and a warm bath, she started feeling really sleepy. I got her in bed, Suzy read her part of a story, and then she decided she was ready to go to sleep. And now she is asleep in her own bed all by herself! A medical miracle! Something finally knocked her out. Sweet dreams.

Anxiety Attacks!

We had a rough beginning to the month of January. Acadia was having a hard time adjusting to being home and there was a lot of anxiety about schoolwork, nighttime, and transitions. On the 7th, we took her to see Dr. D who prescribed citalopram (Celexa) for the anxiety, as Dr. T from NIH had recommended. She started taking it on the 10th. We started to see some improvement about a week later, although I'm not sure whether it was due to the med change or just settling in to the structure at home. Acadia had about a week and a half when things were finally going smoothly for her. We were able to do schoolwork and daily routines, and we were working hard on the anxiety and seeing cooperation on her part.

Monday Cadi had an appt with Dr. L. We went in with a good report, things had been going well for a couple of weeks. We agreed to wait on changing anything and see if things would continue as they had been. Of course they didn't. The tide came rushing in. Monday afternoon she started to get irritated and frustrated. Tuesday we had a difficult morning trying to do our routines and go to the library for school. We were only there about 30 min when Cadi got really frustrated and started hitting her head and biting her knees. We came straight home and she was hitting and kicking in the car. When we got home she tried to throw her backpack in the snow and when I took it from her she punched me in the arm. We went inside and she started crying and hitting her head again. She was saying how much she hated herself and how she could never make herself behave. She had a strong urge to bite something. I wrapped her in a quilt and she let me hold her. I asked her if she wanted to apologize for hitting me and she did. I forgave her and explained that she needed to forgive herself too. She was biting her hand so I got her a carrot and she ate that and calmed down. She even finished some schoolwork and seemed okay until later in the afternoon. I gave her 5mg of Adderall at about 2pm. This is her normal dose but lately I had been forgetting to give it to her in the afternoon. She had a rough afternoon and evening, but I don't remember any specifics.

Wednesday morning we tried to do schoolwork and get ready to go to the therapist. She was frustrated, crying, angry, depressed, and trying to express her feelings to me. I decided to just read out loud to the kids for school. We managed to get to the therapist, where she drew a sad and frightening picture of herself and a tornado that was sucking her up. She stopped using words and communicated with the therapist only by using props and acting out her feelings and drawing scary pictures. At one point she ran out the door and down the hall. The therapist asked her if she felt like hurting herself, and she nodded. She asked if she felt hurting me and she nodded harder. When asked how much she pointed to the opposite ends of the room. When we left she started communicating with words again to me. We called Dr. D and got some Ativan to calm her down. We went home, watched a movie and ate supper. She seemed okay during this, and even laughed during the movie. I had bought her a teething toy which she was using constantly to bite on really hard. As soon as the movie was over, the anxiety rose up again. She was crying and panicked. She refused to be alone. I tried to tuck in her bed and she wouldn't stop crying and trying to explain the feeling she had. She seemed driven to have to get me to understand it. She asked me what she could do with all the problems she was worrying about. I suggested we pray and she could start by asking God to help her with the things she was worrying about. She started praying by thanking God for everything she could think of...but then she couldn't stop. I could tell she was getting tired of listing everything of so rapidly and I told her that was enough, but she said if she didn't thank God for everything it would disappear. I suggested she use the word "everything". She wouldn't, but eventually she switched to crying out to God....."Why won't you help're the only one who is big enough to handle my problems but you won't help me. Why can't I see you, why can't i know that you're real? you have to help me i need you!" etc. She finally stopped praying.

I asked Dan to take a turn with her. She kept on talking and crying with him. He finally left her and said she could come down if she needed anything so of course she immediately came down. she started checking the livingroom and listening to the floor. she said she was checking for bombs. she said a homing missile was hidden in the cupboard. We couldn't tell if she believed they were really there or if she was worried that they might be. She drew a robot on her knee and called it "squarebot" she said he was her only friend. I took her up to bed with me and Dan slept on the couch. I read Winnie The Pooh out loud until we were both falling asleep. At one point she asked me "What is the point of living? No, mom, really, I need to know". She also said she would kill herself if she could but she didn't know how. I had given her another Ativan at 8pm. At about 11 I couldn't stay awake anymore so I shut the light off and gave her a back rub. She said it was the best feeling in the world, but then she kept getting freaked out that it wasn't my hand. Finally we both fell asleep and slept all night. I got up at 7:30 and she slept until 9am.

Thursday was a repeat of Wed. Super anxious and depressed. Wanted to run, so I took her outside and she ran in the snow. I had to stay with her constantly, she just kept going from one thing to the next trying to either express her feelings to me or try to get away from them somehow. Mom came over and took care of Lily and the house, so I could watch Cadi. When Dan came home i had to take a nap. She would get distracted by computer or movies for a while and then it would just hit her again and she would start freaking out. She hasn't really been aggressive since Tuesday, although she has talked about wanting to be. She still bites her knees and blankets. She made a huge barricade of stuff and said that she was blocking her feelings. I had to stop her after a while because she couldn't make it big enough to satisfy herself. Last night went about the same except I got her to watch a DVD in bed for awhile by herself. I still had to come in and sleep with her. She said she really wanted to kill herself but she wasn't brave enough. When she went to sleep she woke up a few times and said she'd had a nightmare and asked where she was.

This morning she is still the same. We are watching her closely to see if she is safe, and so far she is, but she is so tortured. She is in a lot of mental pain, and I wonder how long it's right to keep her at home, as much as I don't want to admit her. I am going to call Dr. T today and also see what Dr. D thinks we should do now. It has been more than 3 days now. We have taken her off the citalopram only since Thursday am. So if that's what's causing this it may still take longer for it to get out of her system.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

My New Nephew

I went to see my new nephew, Evan, today. He's started smiling! He looks just like my sister but with his dad's nose. I had fun introducing him to the baby in the mirror too....soo fascinating!