Something is up with Katie and M. Just not sure if it is a good something or a not so good something. I am taking it as a good something, but when Katie is involved......one has to keep tucked in the back of your mind there may be a hidden motive involved. Stinks that that is necessary, but it is what it is for now. Katie has been over enthusiastic about both spending time with the family AND volunteering to help both me and with family projects. This is new behavior. Before she'd say she wanted to spend time with family and then make excuses not to do so. M has often volunteered to help me out.........and has even surprised me once or twice by helping me with really big chores without being asked to do so. So not so much out of character for him on the helping part. With him the new behavior is the very family social aspect. They've been here nearly 3 years. Nichole has never spoken to the man. (I'm not exaggerating here, neither has easy child or either sister in law) easy child has a conversation with M in walmart that left her a bit stunned. (not a bad way) Nichole went to pick up Katie earlier this week to help with the yard sale sorting and M was super social. Nichole found him to be both polite and kind. Surprised her. lol (I've told both girls he has this capacity if they gave him a chance, they never believed me) Katie has come over to help this week. Both with the yard sale stuff and with long term food storage. In the past when she has come to help she mostly just sort of sat there just well, dunno, like a bump on a log or needing to be told what to do. This time? She was in there doing, and I do mean doing the work right along with us while volunteering for more work to do in future days to come. Even washing down walls with me. Holy Moly! Like I said over in PE............I think hades has frozen over, the devil is wearing a parka. omg wow! For a very long time Nichole has wanted to give Katie mother in law's kitchen table. One she kept forgetting to ask and two we were trying not to enable irresponsibility by over helping them if you know what I mean. But I reminded Nichole about the table because the yard sale is coming up. It was either sell it or give it to Katie. Now I'm the sort of person that would rather see such things used by family who needs it than it be sold. So first I asked katie if she had a kitchen table. She said no. They'd bought one but it was from walmart and it fell apart a few months ago after much "repairing" over the time they'd had it. I then had Nichole ask her. Nichole brought the table down with her yesterday. You'd have thought she had given them the moon. M had to put it together (no way could she fit it all in the car put together lol ) And Katie made a special point to call her after the kids went to bed to thank Nichole for the table again....she was choked up about it. While yard sale sorting...............well, there were other items found that Katie needed, not big items but handy items like bread pans (I'd bought new ones having forgotten I had some and wound up with waaaay too many lol ) and such. Also found were clothes I'd picked up for Kayla and Evan last year at yard sales even though she wasn't talking to us at that time, purposely bought a size too big. Nice clothes I got dirt cheap. She was so surprised.......the look on her face.........that I thought of them even with what was going on...... I had a heavy really nice winter coat in that too for M (I know he's the one walking every where including work) and one for her too. I couldn't get to these clothes items sooner because over time they'd been buried in with the yard sale items. With all the helping Katie has been very social..........and more open with what is going on in her life than I've ever seen before. It's like I'm seeing the child Katie that I knew so many years ago. I know she's having issues with food stamps. I know she's not lying about those issues because I'm having similar issues. I know it's scaring her. The restaurant has cut M's hours both because he had to call off for having been sick and due to reduced customers. They rely heavily on the food stamps. Katie tells us she is once again looking for work "because she's going stir crazy". I have no way of knowing if this is true or not. We've made her working a non issue, we don't discuss it. I suspect if she's looking.......it's because M's hours have been cut to the point where they're hurting for money. I know she's out of food stamps and has no cash at the moment. I know she is out of cash because we took her to yard sales yesterday and I realized quickly she wasn't buying things I knew she would normally pick up......things that were ridiculously cheap. I covered her for a few things, some books for the kids. (I have a thing for pushing reading) Cost me less than a dollar or so to do so. No biggie. I know she is out of food stamps because I asked when her card gets loaded to see if it is the same time mine does so we could make the trip to aldi's together. easy child and I could take her with us but easy child also has to take her boys and that does not give room even in her SUV for 3 families groceries. Know what I mean?? Actually I have more space in my trunk/backseat than easy child does. I will have to ask her to help with gas money, can't help that. But it would let her buy food cheaper......help me help her make better choices.......and show her how to shop so that she can start some long term storage herself for emergencies, in case M loses his job or something else. We are helping her with from scratch recipes to cut her food costs/increase her menus/increase the nutritional value of the food she serves while decreasing the chances of food snitching by both the kids and biomom (she can be worse than the kids). It's much harder to snitch from scratch items than premade ones. I'm having her save her laundry containers when empty and then I'm going to teach her how to make homemade laundry soap that is ridiculously cheap and cleans better than commercial brands. This girl who has loathed the great outdoors her entire life wants to help in the garden. Now if that isn't telling.............I dunno what is. Seriously. I think *some* of this is that Katie has come to realize that while in some ways she is behind her sisters in practical knowlege ect, in others they are on common ground or she is a bit ahead of them. She has so much yet to learn, yet so do they, and that is ok. They are learning scratch recipes/long term storage and how to shop frugally too.....so it doesn't leave her feeling "stupid" or "inadequate". But she had to talk/have a conversation to discover that fact. I think she is finally learning that in this family money doesn't have a whole lot of meaning. Due to that, it also puts her on equal footing with the rest of the family even though both her sisters family income is vastly higher than hers. Perhaps these things are giving her the confidence to be herself again instead of the guarded withdrawn katie who has to make up drama in an attempt to get attention. We've not excluded Kayla, Alex, or Evan. But our focus is on Katie, herself, at the moment. The kids will always be included/get the love and affection, that is a given. Our relationship with Katie needs to be reformed into an adult version........the person she is now as opposed to the child she was. Our focus is also on getting to know M better and giving the man a chance......and having to ignore things meant to distract us from doing so. My grandmother was such a wise woman. I was so blessed to be raised by her. She told me once that she was blessed to be poor. When I asked her why, she told me that it prevented her from meddling in her kids lives and helping them too much so that they learned to find their own solutions to their problems and stand on their own two feet. This woman also rented a tiny one bedroom apartment the moment the last child left home so that none of them could return home again. Instead she shared her wisdom and taught them by example. It was their choice to learn or not to learn. I was just a little girl at the time, no older than Aubrey, and I've always remembered what she said and the look on her face when she said it. I remember, even being so young, thinking how that made so much sense. It worked. She had 5 difficult children out of 7 kids and even her most severe difficult children eventually led mostly easy child lives. This week if the weather cooperates I'm going to try to get both her and M over here to help. I'm trying to figure out how to get the kids over here before school gets out........but.......between weather and the upcoming yard sale......looks like it will be after next weekend at the earliest for the kids. I can only make so many trips across town gas wise. Broke my heart that while we were doing the long term storage yesterday I had a "shop in Mom's pantry" moment because that is how I rotate through things that aren't getting used up quickly enough......usually things that I bought in bulk with coupons that honestly these days I'm doing so much from scratch I'm not using it like I used to do..........I saw the relief in Katie's eyes. She didn't feel singled out because her sisters also shopped Mom's pantry. They split it 3 ways. Katie saw my storage areas (all of it for the first time) and her jaw dropped........she's like "OMG you have a grocery store in here!" Well, yeah, I sort of do. lol Although she didn't see all of the long term storage buckets of dried good items I have stored in my room, although she's helped during long term storage day twice now. She was stunned because she knows my income is much lower than hers, yet I could manage this amazed her. I don't do all this long term food storage / getting back to basics / frugal living stuff just for me. Much of what I have stored, because c'mon there is just me and Travis here, is as much for the other kids as us. You just never know what life is going to throw your way, what hard times may lay in wait. We lost power here the other day in the wee hours of the morning. Because I am so utterly prepared for just about any sort of emergency..........it didn't even put a blip in my morning, although it did irritate me the power company finally got power back on by the time I had the coffee done in my enamel coffee pot on the stove. ugh lol If the food stamp issues continue.......there is no fear Travis and I will go hungry.....it would take many many months before that would happen, actually 2 yrs or more. I stock for 5 plus people because it's the only way I know how to do it. Prices of food items / household items ect can climb and I can continue to wait for the best deals due to what I have stored and restock when they happen. Leaves me money to pay other bills. There is confidence/security in that in which you can't get in any other way. If welfare messes up Katie's food stamps.........as long as they're trying........they will never go hungry. Might not be any snacking going on..... But they can shop Mom's pantry as needed until the issue is resolved. If M loses his job, the kids will have school supplies/clothes, even if they're yard sale cothes and supplies bought on bargain sales. As long as they're consistently putting forth effort.......even if they lost their home.........they would not find themselves on the street again. Neither Katie or M has ever known this type of security, this love of a family. (Katie as an adult that is) I nearly said here that this is not enabling. But that is wrong. It IS enabling .........enabling them to do better for themselves and to succeed in life........instead of enabling them to the point where they don't learn from their mistakes or come to believe someone will always be there to rescue them or do it for them. Katie will always be a difficult child and it is doubtful her dxes will ever be treated due to her extreme fear of psychiatrists/tdocs. There is a part of me that will never forget that what I'm seeing now could abruptly change in an instant for either a stupid reason or no reason at all and we're right back where we started. That is where detachment comes in, I suppose. I'm learning to embrace the good and run with it...........while also discarding the bad and letting it go because I can't do anything to change it. There is the Mom part of me that hopes some of her dxes are caused by past experiences in which she can heal from given time and love and being shown another way, I admit that, but I think that all Mom's feel the same way.