Katie being social and active in the family is just simply amazing. I suppose it sounds awful, but honestly, I never expected to see it to this degree. The effort she is putting in still has me shaking my head in wonder. I suppose we'll never know for certain what caused the dramatic change, but it IS dramatic. We've spent a LOT of time with Katie recently, especially once school let out for the summer. There are family get togethers and cook outs quite frequently. And out of character of past behavior, Katie is eager to not only participate but to plan such gatherings. We did Nichole's bbq the weekend of Nichole's birthday. Nichole had lots of fun things for the kids to do. There was plenty of good food to eat. Evidently Katie was either "in a mood" or something because she reverted back to past behavior and spent the vast part of the day yelling at the kids while refusing to get up from her chair on the patio. Drove us bonkers. Kids paid no attention to her. Thankfully, when there was a last minute family gathering this past weekend.......she was more relaxed and no yelling. Katie is treating me to the movies friday night. easy child and family is going, Katie and family and I. 3d triggers katie's migraines and I just plain can't see 3d no matter how hard I try. (never could) So Nichole found a theater not too far that shows the normal version and it also happens to be cheaper at 5.00 per ticket. Katie is splurging for candy for all the kids at dollar tree and then the kids will have popcorn and soda there. Yesterday I spent 8 hrs literally shopping. I went in the morning with easy child and the boys as we usually do. Then went out again to take katie to aldi's and to hit the local sales because the meat alone would save her a ton. I paid attention to what she put into her cart. (I do this with my other girls too, making sure grands are eating healthy and moms are getting the best bang for their buck) At aldi she actually needed 2 carts but somehow managed to squeeze it into one. I was glad to see staple foods being the main content and she was really working hard at finding the best prices. Two pennies were 2 pennies saved. Know what I mean?? She bought enough for a small army at aldi's. No joke. Makes me worry they were nearly out of food or out altogether. (although I'd picked up a large ham, 2 cartons of eggs, and bacon for her last week because the prices were a steal and her food stamps didn't load until yesterday). At Kroger and our local market she was careful not to yield to temptation and to stick to the big deals. You'd have thought it xmas morning when I led her to the pork roast for 1.69 a lb and the chicken leg quarters at .59 cent a lb. At the local market she stuck to the hamburger at 1.99 lb. She bought an amazing amount of food for actually very little. Katie was stunned. Even more stunned that she still has half her food stamps left for the rest of the month. That and she has more meat in her freezer than she has ever been able to buy before. My car holds a ton of stuff in the huge trunk. At aldi she not only filled the trunk, but the back and front seats with her and kayla also piled high with bags. lol We had to drop the aldi stuff off before going to the other stores. There was no where to put anymore. Other than a horrendous amount of soda purchased......although it was all generic and somewhat cheap......I had no objections to her purchases, except she needs to learn to make a list. I'll have to talk to her about the soda though because that is eating away a LOT of her food stamps on just something to drink. I told her now that she has the staples stocked, she can go with easy child and I the rest of the month and just hit the best sale items. Katie did listen to me about the powdered milk, finally. (been working with her some time on this one) I think she has been running out of food stamps which has caused her to run out of milk before the end of the month. She bought 4 boxes of powdered milk at aldi. I told her if she doesn't have cause to use it, once she has enough I'll show her how to store it long term so it last for years and she'll always have an emergency store of milk on hand. So maybe it will just take some time with the soda. (that or higher prices) I was quite proud of her. Not only was Katie carefully spending her funds but she was firm with Kayla who like any other kid wanted just about everything she saw. Any other time I've shopped with katie with her kids she has caved to just about every request. This weekend Katie is "hosting" Kayla and Alex's birthday bbq at my house. (late due to lack of funds) Due to Alex's request, instead of a store bought cake Nichole will make the from scratch cake she made at Easter. What Alex doesn't know is it will have a Batman theme. lol Katie and M are doing spare ribs (holy moly!) for adults and hotdogs for the kids. easy child volunteered her potato salad and mixed fruit. I'm providing drinks which will be kool aide (grands recently discovered this amazing drink lol ) and lemon aide. This is the way we always do it. There are just too many in the family now for one family to provide all the food. I gave Katie and M mother in law's cherry coffee table, once a gorgeous table that Nichole and her husband ruined back in their teen years. (yes, I nearly killed them) M took great care sanding it down and made it beautiful again, he just needs to stain and finish it. I was amazed. He was so proud of himself. He said he used to help his grandpa do a lot of woodworking when he was a kid. He was excited when I asked him if he'd help Nichole and I refinish the floor in the dining room. Turns out he's done that many times too. He also got bored while we were away shopping and cleaned. I don't mean cleaned like a man cleans..........I mean the place was utterly spotless. He even washed down the kitchen table and chairs (mother in law's) that Nichole gave them with Murphey's oil soap. It wasn't messy to being with........but it's what he does when he's bored. Since he is lucky to get 1 day a wk at the restaurant, he is bored and restless most of the time. easy child gave them her basically new sofa, it just needed cleaned, because she was taking Nichole's modular unit due to needing more seating. It cleaned up nicely. Both Katie and M are coming over to help me clean and organize the family room now that most of the clutter is gone. M wants to help me with yard work too. Katie has volunteered to help me wash walls. I've been invited to their apartment anytime Travis and I need to escape the heat. (they don't pay utilities and their apartment has AC) M......and most of you know this.........I never expected to genuinely like. I mean honestly like. His IQ is low, he is illiterate for the most part, he's stuck at about age 14.....but the more I get to know him, the more there is to like about the man. He works as hard as he can for his family. There is no doubt in my mind he not only loves Katie but he adores her. He positively shines with the love he has for his children. M has experienced very little true family life and that was when he was very young. I can tell by the way he talks about life with his grandpa......that his grandpa had truly loved him and tried hard to teach him good family values. A shame the man passed away while M was still young causing him to enter the foster care system where he only had one bad experience after another. If I find something to praise M for he just beams like a little kid, I swear. It can just be something small and he reacts the same way. He is lowering his defenses and opening up........and I can tell he is eating up this family centered environment as much as his children. Katie is also opening up and letting her defenses down. She can tell me she had to shut off cable because she could no longer afford the bill and this or that when she'd make up a silly excuse or lie before. She speaks up for herself more and let's us know how she feels about things. I'm relieved to see the Munchhausen type behavior with both her and the kids basically gone now. Real conversations take place instead, however short they might be. With the Kayla rebellion? Katie has stuck to her guns and it is working. It may not be long and Kayla might be able to regain some of her social life. Her attitude has shifted. Not to say she won't try typical teen stuff and that can change as she test boundaries again.......But she had gotten so mouthy with Katie she was in great risk of her Nana backhanding her in the mouth. (my hand often has a mind of it's own when it comes to that) Oh, and katie and I are trading "poor man" recipes. She actually has some rather good ones and several I want to try once I have a chance to write them down. She was stunned I ask her. I told her, somehow you managed to feed your family in a motel room with a wok and a at best a microwave.......you had to come up with something. LOL Only sad part of all this is that her Dad is not here to get to know his adult eldest daughter for the woman she is becoming. I know he knows, but he can't tell her how proud I know he must be with the progress she has made.