Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Man, What a BRAT

There is a phenom in the blog world where if you post something good, the fates will immediately and savagely reverse whatever goodness you posted about and cause you to beg for forgiveness from the Blog Gods on your hands and knees. It may or may not take much suffering and sacrifice before the fates forgive you and back off.

I should have known better than to post how well he was doing. The fates have thrown it in my face good these past few days. Wave after wave of awful behavior, each day bringing new and unforseen misery upon me.

He played in the mud then tracked it all over the house. Even on one bed, where I caught him bouncing on it like a small maniac in his muddy madness.

He threw his breakfast on the floor, then also dumped Levi's on the floor for good measure.

He peed where he wasn't supposed to, not once, not twice, but THREE times. He tried to hide them (sort of) but the smell gave him away.

He bit me, then bit Ahren. Tried to pass it off as playing and being funny. It wasn't. Funny that is.

He tore up several toys. Pulled the stuffing out of Levi's turtle he won at Disney World. Tried to pretend it wasn't him.

He ripped up some blueprints that Chris left in the hallway. Luckily they were old and intended for artistic purposes only.

He thinks it is hilarious to randomly tackle anyone who is unsuspecting and turns their back.

He ran out the front door when I was getting a package from the UPS man and refused to come back inside. That one made me mad enough I smacked his butt really HARD when he finally did come back in.

So which one is driving me mad? Pushing my buttons? About to get sent off to boarding school?

Not this boy. he is doing really well besides some ornery behavior that is a cross between annoying and adorable.
Not this boy either. He is always pretty good. A bit ornery too, but also adorable.
And surprisingly, not this boy either! The behavior modifications and medication are working wonders. We are down to one or two time outs and tantrums a day and they are lasting minutes instead of hours.
So who is it that is creating the havoc in my house? It's this one! I think he's getting back at me because I took him in for his little snip-snip doggy procedure last week. Man, what a BRAT!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Catching up with pictures

Here is a pic of the cake I ordered for Ahren's Gotcha day. Not only is the word butchered, it's not centered, the icing is full of cake crumbs and the exclamation point is giant sized. I am definitely going to submit it to Cake Wrecks, one of my all time favorite web sites for a good laugh. Oh, and I asked for brightly colored icing decorations. Nice squiggles, huh?

We made a decision on schooling the little guys. I was all set to fight to keep Ahren's spot in the public pre-k, but then we visited the school, met the teacher and learned about the curriculum. To say I was under-whelmed is putting it mildly. Why would I want to fight to keep my child in a class with too many kids, to learn things he already knows, and to be bused all over the place.

So we pulled Seth out, too, and I set about downloading a ton of worksheets and ideas from We had our first 'school' time this morning.
My goals for this year are to 1) teach them to write their names, 2) get their pre-writing skills mastered and begin writing, 3) learn to identify numbers 1-20 and all capital and lower case letter, 4) learn the sounds all the letters make, and 5) learn rhyming words.
They loved it and I accomplished more than they would have in a morning at school in about 15 minutes here. I am working on teaching them how to hold the pencil properly and to have good paper support. Learn the foundation first and you can build anything on it!
Proof that we have the laziest, most laid-back boxer on earth. If anyone is sitting or laying down he is asleep on them in an instant.
Ashley and levi entertaining themselves with the webcam on my laptop.
More lazy dog proof (I mean Buster, not Chris!) These are the only boys that take naps anymore around here.
I invested in a heavy-duty manual meat grinder. My original idea was that I needed this to make pickle relish (of which I now have at least a years supply canned and stored in the pantry). Then I got to thinking, hey, what if i used it to make my own ground beef? I watched for sales on good cuts of beef and recently scored 4 1/2 pounds of lean beef for $1.99 a pound. I ran it through the grinder and voila! Lean ground beef on the cheap. I divided it up and froze most of it, then a made a meatloaf with the rest. I also cooked some and added it to home made pizzas. Very lean, no 'pieces and parts' that can show up in regular hamburger meat, very low fat, and less expensive. I also used child labor to keep the costs down.....hee hee.

And more lazy dog proof. Levi is kissing him as he sleeps on the couch with his toys.
Lap o'Boys. Undoubtedly watching something to do with explosions or motorcycles or guns....
Who got into the powdered sugar donuts? It's almost supper time!
Cookie monsters. Too bad they didn't know these were healthy peanut butter, whole wheat and flax cookies...... And no we didn't adopt another boy. He is just visiting for a play date.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Goteha Day and such

Two years ago we finally got to bring our son home. It took 3 years of pain, tears, frustration, despair, hope, faith and undying love. By the time we actually brought him home I was so numb that I couldn't even feel happy or relieved. All I felt was numb. I have told a lot of people that he adjusted so much better than I did. I can remember just staring at him as he slept and wondering who was this child? Was i really his mother? Why wasn't I over-the-moon at finally having him home? Well, by the time he was coming out of his perfect-child 6 month honeymoon phase, I was finally feeling like his mother. It's a good thing, too, because the next 9 months were, ahem, challenging.

Here is what he looked like 2 years ago. He was almost 3 years old, but was still in diapers, still took a bottle every 4 hours and barely walked or talked. He was essentially a big baby. I didn't mind. I missed his true baby-dom and so I got to enjoy a little bit of baby Ahren and it was sweeeeeet!!!!


We gradually weaned him off the bottle, then potty training took place. I had to teach him to chew his food. How to take bites and not stuff everything in his mouth. What most foods were, how to use silverware, how to feed himself even with his hands. He was incredibly weak and his muscles were loose and floppy. I still remember the orthopedist flipping his leg up over his head with no resistance and gasping in surprise. He was a total rag doll. We started in on a diet of high protein and lots of supplements. Started lots of physical therapy activities, lots of stimulation and lots and lots of attachment work. I sat on the floor with him hours every day, carried him when I could and talked non-stop to him in loving tones. My face was the first thing he saw each morning and the last thing each night.

Now, 2 years later, I don't remember time before Ahren. I sort of remember it, like a bad dream. The pain is like remembering labor and delivery of my other kids. I know it hurt so bad, but the pain is muted and distant. I almost wish I could really remember it, feel it again, because it is what makes Ahren so special. We had a 3 year high-risk pregnancy. Not even an elephant can claim that!

So why am I calling it Goteha Day? Well, because I went to the grocery store and ordered a cake for the special occasion. I told the woman behind the counter exactly what I wanted on the cake. I even repeated it three times. Since english was not her first language, she had a little trouble with the word gotcha, so i wrote it out for her. I wanted the cake to say 'Happy Gotcha Day'. What I got was a cake with the single word 'goteha!' on it. I laughed and laughed. How perfect for the adoption that never could go right. i think from now on we will celebrate goteha day!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Oh What A Week!

Which should also be titled, 'The week wherin I needed more cuss words".

This week was many things, mostly crazy. No, not the kids. Actually they were pretty good! It was absolutely everything else. Murphy's Law played in there big time. So let me see if I can lay it out for you.

Monday was the day Kaytee was scheduled to move into her college apartment. Coincidentally, Chris also got a jury summons for that day. There was NO way Kaytee and I could move all her furniture by ourselves, so it was time to punt. Chris contacted the courts and they allowed him to re-schedule. We had reserved a small moving truck that we could load the afternoon before and return monday evening. Unfortunately, when we went to pick it up, the reservation was messed up and we were supposed to return it by 4 pm the SAME day. We talked the woman into an additional day (at a full days extra charge) which meant the next person now had NO truck. I felt bad but had no other options. We spent the rest of the day loading my mini-van and the moving van with 3000 boxes of clothes and shoes plus a little furniture.

Monday morning we were up and at-em early. Kaytee and I got to the apt complex at 8:15, checked in and headed to her apt. it is awesome. Way better than my first apt, heck, way better than most places I have lived! She and I spent an hour hauling tons of small stuff up 2 and 3 flights of stairs. (She is actually in a 2 story town-home that is on the 2nd and 3rd stories) By this time it was 90 degrees and 90% humidity. Chris pulled up in the moving van just as we sat down to cool off. The next hour we spent unloading the van (OK, cute story here. Our van was parked near at least 3 other vans. Those all had young men hauling their stuff up into their apt's. Next thing we knew, a crew of 5 college boys showed up and within 20 minutes unloaded our van and had everything in the apt. Kaytee stood there handing out cold waters and thanking them. They then came back an hour later to see if she needed any MORE help. They never once moved any of the other guys stuff. Hmmm, wonder why?) Anyway, by the time Kaytee's father and sister arrived, we were unpacking and organizing. We had a blast getting her all settled. What a fun (but extremely HOT) time we had. How cool is it that my ex-husband and wonderful dear husband can come together all for a child and work so hard. Those two guys worked together to build furniture and hook up electronics, like old friends. I am so, so, so lucky and so are the kids. All of them.

Tuesday I had to take Ahren to have yet another speech evaluation for the school district. For many months now we have been working towards having both Seth and Ahren in the school Pre-K program. Initially, Ahren was a shoe-in because he spoke only spanish for the first 3 years of his life. That automatically qualified him as ESL. (English as a Second Language) I told them form the start that he did NOT speak any spanish, but it didn't matter. Seth qualified, after much discussion, because there is a new rule that any child having ever been in the custody of DCFS in the state automatically qualified. I checked back regularly to be sure it was still a go. Then last week they decided that they needed to test Ahren one more time to be able to place him in the correct class. They assured me it was only a matter of which class, not qualification. So Tuesday afternoon we went to the school and he did his thing. Surprisingly, he knew NO spanish. Duh! The next day they called me to tell me he was disqualified. They apologized and were so very sorry, but No. We had already bought all the school supplies, set up a transportation plan, and gotten him all excited.

The worst part was that when we went to Meet-the-Teacher night last night,. his name was on a desk, on the board and the teacher greeted him. Even she didn't know he had been bumped out. He was sooooo upset. How can we send one and not the other. They NEED each other. That was part of the plan, to help their attachment. They need to stay together.

Now I am in a pickle. If Seth stays in this Pre-K program, I have to get him and Levi to 2 different schools in 2 different directions at the same time each morning. And Ahren has NO place to go. Levi could ride the bus, but the bus stop is 1.2 miles from our house and the bus come an hour before school starts. Thats a pretty big demand on a 7 year old. I hate to not let Seth get the free services he qualifies for, but then again his emotional well-being is more important at this point.

So I spent the morning going from facility to facility in our area, checking out Pre-K classes and child-care options, searching for an answer. I have some options, one being very good but still not locked down. School starts next Monday and I think only Levi will be in attendance.

OK, if that wasn't enough, Wednesday was Ahren's 2nd Gotcha Day. We plan to celebrate this weekend. He won't realize it is a few days late. Seth needs 4 shots before school starts (if he goes to the public school) and we had to cancel a therapy appointment this week to make room for the chaos and Buster, our puppy, got neutered on Wed too. Add in a migraine I had on Tuesday that left me in pain and throwing up and it was a party week!

I have not been sleeping. I routinely fall asleep fine, but wake at 2 or 3 in the morning and am up for the duration. My mind is just a whirlwind.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Three Days In

I didn't know exactly what to expect from Seth as we started ADHD meds. I do know that the meds are stimulants and if a child is not truly ADHD then the meds will make things worse, not better. Given that this was just a trial to see, we just kept an open mind and let things play out.

Well, Day 1 he was able to sit through two movies with a calmness he has never had before. Day 2 and the sitter (who I did NOT tell about the meds) spontaneously told me that he had the best day ever. Yeah!!!

Day 3 and he was calm and loving and focused on whatever he was doing. And now, Day 4, we had to spend 3 1/2 hours at the DMV trying to get Kaytee's license renewed and he was AWESOME! (Note: Kaytree's license has been messed up for three years and finally it is all fixed. Now how is that for Friday the 13th?) He really and truly was wonderful. happy, calm, patient, quiet, and obedient. I am totally amazed by the difference in him. He seems happier. That is the golden ticket. He is happier. The one and only thing that means everything.

We will still be applying behavior modification and therapy with him. Meds are not the total answer to his issues. But it does seem that they will be an important part of healing for him. They will make it possible for him to focus and attach completely. He will be way more successful in school. He will have more friends and build deeper friendships. He will be better able to cope. He will be happier. I couldn't ask for anything more. My dear sweet boy, you are going to shine!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Better living through pharmaceuticals

I have spent the last 20 years of my life working on making better drugs to treat diseases. Cancer. Lung disease. Atherosclerosis. Muscular atrophy. Diabetes. And many others. And yet, I am not the kind of person who turns to a pill as a first defense.

In addition to my research past, I am now working with a lot of kids who have myriad diagnoses. Their visual issues are clouded by many other issues. We can help clear one part of their troubles, but not all of them. We see the big picture. The total package. We peel away one layer, but more remain.

My dear little Seth has some issues. Are they attachment related? Maybe. Are they inherant to his personality? Maybe. Are they ADHD related. Maybe. How do we sort it out???? We have been doing behavior therapy for a while and it has helped some. But Seth seems out of control, unable to moderate many things, and very unhappy because of that.

So today he started meds for ADHD. Very low dose. Just a small trial. And you know what? He sat on the couch and watched movies today, for the first time ever. Normally he would have interrupted the movie 20 times, bounced on the couches, spun around the room and talked non-stop. Today he watched and understood. WTH? My sweet boy watched and sat still? It didn't last all day. By afternoon he was again out of control, but still......that is AMAZING. I have such hope.

He wants so badly to be good. He says it all the time. 'Am I good, Mommy?' And I always tell him YES. you are the BEST Seth ever and I love you soo much.

I love this little guy so much. The more he needs me, the more I am there. Four homes in four years. A family that didnt work. My poor baby. He needs us as much as we need him. I love him so much.

Sunday, August 08, 2010


In two weeks I will be officially unemployed. No work, no paycheck, no identity outside of Mommy. I am PETRIFIED! Never before, since I was 14 years old, have I been unemployed willfully. It's not really the fact that I won't be working that scares me, I kind of like the idea of setting my own schedule and being accountable to only myself. What worries me is that I will be all alone in this new job, stay-at-home Mom. Parenting is the toughest thing I have ever done and now I will going it alone for the most part. Oh yeah, Chris is still here, don't think I am counting him out, but he leaves for work at 4 am and gets home at dinner time. Bless his heart, he works so hard to take care of all of us. But the day-to-day work in the trenches will be mine alone. Kaytee is off to college (still choke up every time I even THINK about that)

I met with people from the school on Friday to get Ahren and Seth officially registered for the pre-k program. I had finally gotten the official 'they qualify' call on Thursday so I wasted no time in getting them registered. Of course, it couldn't go smoothly. The principal questioned whether they really qualify and wanted to see some official paperwork on them. Well, heck, it has taken me 6 months of hard work to get to this point and all I have is verbal approval. So they put in a call to the head honchos (who I had talked to the day before and who had ASSURED me they qualified and told me all I had to do was go enroll them and tell them she said so....) Of course they couldn't get her on the phone, so we are still in limbo.

Then, if they do get to go, we won't know if they go mornings or afternoons until meet-the-teacher night Aug. 19th. Then there is the stupid bus schedule. If they go mornings, I will drop them off early at Levi's school (30 min before Levi can be dropped off) where they will be fed breakfast, then bused to their school. Then at lunch time they would be bused back to our house. But, if they are in the afternoon class, they get picked up from our house and taken to their school and then after school bused to Levi's school where I could pick them up or they get put on another bus and dropped at the end of our road 1.2 miles away from our house. If they go to Levi's school they will arrive 30 minutes after Levi gets out. Not sure how this will all work out. My guess, given my luck, is one kid will be in the morning class and one in the afternoon and I will be insane trying to get three kids on three different schedules to 2 different schools every day.

So people (men and women) who stay home, what are your tricks? How do I keep my sanity and still keep all the balls in the air? Can 4 year olds really ride a bus and end up in the right place or are my babies going to get lost? What in the world do I do while I am home alone? (The last time I was home alone I was pregnant with Levi and on bed rest. ) Any tips? Trade secrets? Sage advice????

Thursday, August 05, 2010

I'm Afflicted

I have discovered that I suffer from an affliction, an ailment, a disorder, that affects my every day life to a huge extent. It is called Attention Deficit Mother-activity Disorder, or ADMD. Let me give you a synopse of how this disorder manifests itself.

Goal: Take a shower
Reality: Head towards bathroom but remember work pants are in laundry room. Turn around and head to laundry room. Once there remember that a load of wet towels is in the washer. Place towels in dryer, then add a new load to washer and start it up. Grab work pants and head towards shower. See misplaced shoe on floor, scoop it up and detour to boys room. Stow away shoe, see dirty underwear on floor. Scoop up underwear and carry to hamper. On the way to the hamper, see wad of paper crumpled on floor, grab it and stop off in kitchen to drop it in the trash. Notice someone opened a jar of spinach dip and then put it back on the pantry shelf. Drop dip in trash can too. Notice sticky spot on kitchen island, grab spray and a towel and wipe it off. Head towards shower. Oh rats, dogs are still inside. Stop and open the kennel and herd them outside. See water dish is low, get hose and fill it up. Head towards shower. Wait, where did I set down my pants? Search out pants, finally find them in pantry, head towards shower. See Roomba sitting in its spot on the way, unplug and set to vacuum living room while I am in the shower. See several small toys on the floor so pick them up before they get sucked into Roomba. Pride myself on cleaning the house while taking a shower. Smirk! Head towards shower. Oops, still carrying dirty underwear. Drop in hamper. Check to be sure boys are all still sleeping. Finally get in shower, get out, go to get dressed.....can't find pants.


Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Child Psychologist and a Plan

It has been just over 6 months since Seth (I have decided it is time to introduce his name) to our family. Given his history and previous diagnoses, i knew we would eventually need to seek some professional help. I also knew that the first months would be a honeymoon period and that until he became comfortable and began to show his true self it would do no good to try therapy. Well, he seems to have hit his comfort level! I have also gotten to a point where I am struggling a little to be creative and ahead of the curve. Time to seek help.

I found a child psychologist near here who had a lot of experience with small children and trauma. Not necessarily RAD, but many related issues. I spoke with him on the phone at length (OK, that alone earned him points. He was willing to call me personally and talk at length, offering ideas, with no strings attached.) I checked out about 8 different therapists, but many failed to ever return my calls, or had office help that were rude and cold. Geez, like I needed to be treated badly by yet another person! So I made an appointment with Dr. R to start discussing Seth and Ahren and our parenting plans.

We met Monday evening. He works out of the top floor of an old house and his office has a full playroom and comfy, well-worn furniture. No fake plants, no decorator touches, no foo-foo garbage at all. Just a homey, relaxing environment geared towards kids. I could relate. That is the style of our home.

We talked and talked and talked. He was quite impressed with how well we have done so far on our own. He was very sincere and even asked if he could use one of the things we had tried. We designed a plan that helps us break down the attention seeking behaviors and deal with them with behavior modifications while simultaneously working on the emotions behind the behaviors. It is all designed to create a successful environment for him and to teach him the skills he needs to create that success. We have to get him out of a survival mode and into a calm, regulated, happy place.

The first thing we are going to work on is Seth's inability to modulate the loudness of his voice. He has one sound level....very loud. Stress on VERY. An example is that I will have him in the seat on the shopping cart and as I push it, his face is inches from my own. He will ask, at the top of his voice, some inane question, leaving my ears ringing and every other customer staring at us. I remind him to use an indoor voice but he just can't. I truly believe he has no idea how loud he is or what is sounds like to others. He seriously lacks the skill set to modulate his voice to the situation.

Per Dr. R., we have created a chart, using characters he loves, to represent different levels of voice and their appropriate uses. There is a green box around the appropriate talking levels. We will discuss the levels, act out the levels, record and then listen to the levels, and refer often to the chart. Finally, we will set up a reward system for the times when he uses the appropriate level of voice for the situation. Each member of the family is acting out the chart. We are outside so we use big, bold voices. We have a secret so we whisper very quietly. We will model the correct volume for him all the time. I will let you know how this works. I have great expectations.

We have many layers to the plan, but I can tell you that I wanted to crawl into Dr. R's lap and weep. I felt like someone really understood, was cheering us on, and had high hopes for Seth. I felt inspired. I think Seth can tell I feel that much better because he has had an awesome couple of days since then. (And I haven't even had time to implement the first part of the plan!)

Sometimes all it takes is a different point of view to shake you loose from a rut and bring new inspiration. This is a long process. Two steps forward and one step back. Progress comes in fits and spurts. Sometimes, all it takes is a fresh face. Thank you so much Dr. R.