Thursday, March 31, 2011

Boomerang Effect (also known as Fallout)

  There are certain things that happen around here that will most certainly result in some very poor behavior from small boys. Any disruption to the routine, any 'fun' event like a birthday or party, an illness, visits from family, etc. Each boy reacts in a different way, but it is usually pretty predictable.

  Seth has an issue with each time we have to spend time with Ahren for doctors visits, therapy sessions or testing. The last three times we have had to focus on Ahren he has done the same thing : pooped his pants. The incident when he threw the poopy drawers into the dryer and I started it? That was on a day we spent downtown seeing doctors. The day I spent with Ahren getting his MRI? Hidden poopy pants in my closet. The day we had to visit the specialist after the zoo? Poopy pants he then played in at the doctors office. So when I had to spend 6 hours with Ahren on Tuesday getting another set of testing done and then speech therapy, I knew what my punishment would be.

  But......he made it through Tuesday just fine. It helped that he got to go to a friend's house and spend the day there with our beloved Nanny, and that the other boys were very jealous of him.  Then yesterday I could see him winding up and beginning to unravel, but we made it through and had a great/hard workout at martial arts last night. (Oh the joy of the martial arts!)

  And then today......KABOOM.  The uglies swung around and smacked us good. Nasty behavior and talk this morning, lots of demands, and then the inevitable. I found him secretly trying to wipe the poop off of his rear end. He swore up and down he didn't poop his pants. He tried his very best to convince me of it. In fact, he made up a story of how the poop was stuck in  his bottom and he had to dig it out and that is how he got all messy. Well either the boy has a serious intestinal issue or the Poo-Punishment had struck. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is probably a duck. A dirty duck in his drawers, that is. So I calmly cleaned him up, then fetched him a diaper and diapered him up. We had discussed this in the past. Non-threatening and calmly, that if he had trouble then we would supply him with the right gear to handle the issue. If poo cannot go in the potty, then it needs to go into a diaper. Plain and simple. We love him and will provide him with whatever he needs, we are his parents and that is our job.

  Well, I am telling you if you felt a disruption in the universe this morning it was the fury that spewed from that small boy. He screamed and cursed and said every mean thing he could think of, he kicked and smacked and spit and rolled around like a scalded monkey. But....he did not get off the bed and he did not take off the diaper. (The bed is our safe zone for big tantrums. He can hit and kick and roll around and not get hurt) It took almost an hour until he was calm enough to come out and talk. I had him wear the diaper for another hour or so, then let him change, talking to him calmly and lovingly again.

  Now he is calm, regulated and happy. It's almost like the wild electrical activity of a seizure, how the rage tears through him like a storm, and then once it is spent, everything is fine again. He is once again a charming, respectful, happy little boy. I am so proud of him for being able to work through the rage while staying in the safe zone. He is understanding some of the boundaries and I think he actually appreciates them, deep down. They help him to feel safe.

One quick funny story: Levi was talking about someone he met, and he was trying to describe him to me. He told me that he had really thin ankles, and he was from, you know, that place where all the African Americans were.

Me: thinking hard, a place where all the African Americans are? Stumped.

Levi: Oh I know, Africa. He was from Africa!

Well, how very PC of our boy! LOL!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I Can't

  Does anyone else have a child whose first response to everything is 'I can't'? I struggle with this since I am a very Can Do type of person. Heck, last Saturday I took a woman's self defense class and for 2 hours I beat the living daylights out of bags, pads, and instructors. I learned to throw a much larger person off of on top of me if they managed to get me to the ground. Never sis I say I Can't. Instead, I said, 'No guts, no glory' and ended up a sore, sweaty mess, but very happy.

  Ahren approaches everything cautiously. I am not sure if it is because a lot of things are difficult for him, or if that is just his personality. Put on your shoes...I can't. Wipe yourself....I can't. Open this pack of crackers.....I can't. What really amazes me is that he is also a master manipulator. He bats those big eyes and smiles his sweet shy smile and people do anything for him. At the neighborhood Christmas party he had two women making his ornaments for him. All the other kids had to make their own! That made me laugh. But still, he is off to school this fall and how is he going to manage? I will have to have a talk with the teacher ahead of time. Not to tell her to help him, but the opposite. Make him do things for himself. He is perfectly capable of slipping his shoes on and off, etc. If his teacher helps him he will never want to try for himself.

  I recently learned that he is quite capable of eating some foods that he had been avoiding for some time. He would not eat anything he had to really chew. Meat or chewy candy, anything needing chewing. Nope. Nada. Couldn't. Then we saw the speech pathologist and started work on improving his speech and chewing/swallowing and miraculously, he could do it for her! He still struggled a bit. Beef jerky is still beyond him, but raw carrots and apples are a go. I think the master manipulator got me. I felt sorry for him so I gave him the soft food choices he wanted instead of challenging him. I was worried he would choke. Oh well, I know the heimlich. No guts, no glory.

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Truth is so Very Complicated

  I know that RAD kids have problems with telling lies. It's some sort of self-defense mechanism gone awry. Still, knowing this and not being ticked off by it are two different things. I guess what gets to me the most is the absolute absurdity of the lies and how totally un-productive they are. I mean, I can totally understand a kid lying about breaking the lamp so as not to get into trouble. That seems logical. Telling a lie about something inconsequential blows me away.

  Case in point. This is the scenario in my kitchen this morning. Son, what do you have in your mouth. Answer: nothing. Now I clearly saw him chewing and only asked out of curiosity but now I am on alert. Whatever it is, he thinks it is a problem. So I press the point and immediately begin to get stammering, eye rolling and blinking, and parts of sentences that make no sense. I tell him, calmly, that I think he has gum in his mouth and he starts telling me he is sorry. I ask where he got it, he tells me in the bedroom. Is that where the rest of the gum is? Yes. I search. No gum. Next story is he put it back on top of the refrigerator, so I look and again no gum. (Now I am getting ticked because if he is climbing up on the counters to get on top of the fridge then he was in dangerous position) I send him to his room to think about where the gum is. Finally he tells me that it is hidden behind my bed. I find a mostly empty pack of gum and several empty wrappers. I have no idea where the gum even came from. Never did get that out of him.

  Now, the gum chewing before breakfast is a minor no-no. It would have elicited a very small reaction of 'spit it out and don't do that again'. Instead, this child is on restrictions all day. No electronic games, early bed, no sweets. Plus they get the joy of listening to me remind them about lying every half hour or so all day. Maybe it will sink into that little wonky brain, maybe not. In fact, i really doubt it will. This will need to be repeated many hundreds of times and then, maybe then, it will dawn on him that lying makes things worse.

  Do any of you have any secrets/tools/tricks to help them learn to stop lying? I will try anything short of dancing naked in downtown rush hour!

Update: it is now 4:30 pm and my day has been challenging. Take one child on restrictions, add a pit bull puppy who ate a child's expensive shoes, a bedroom door that mysteriously got locked and the key conveniently lost, a prescription that had to be picked up from the doctor's office to go get filled, another dog who threw up on the living room floor, a plate of ketchup dropped on the dining room floor and freshly washed sheets that got peed on and you have my day. So far. There are still hours to go. And I wonder why I never get anything accomplished around here......

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Skinny Kids

I have a lot of experience trying to keep weight on kids. Almost 19 years of experience now. Kaytee was my original weight challenged child. She was always in the 95% for height and about 15% for weight. She was always growing taller, just never any bigger around. Today she is just a hair under 5'10" and weighs 114 pounds. It's funny, though, she doesn't look scrawny, more long and lean. it's just how she is built. And boy can that child eat! It makes my mama's heart happy to see her gobble down a home-cooked meal when she visits. 

Then along came Ashley who was very sick for the first two years of her life. She couldn't tolerate breast milk, formula or soy based products. She had intestinal bleeding, projectile vomiting, infections, hospital stays, you name it. Keeping food in her was a challenge! She had many food allergies that caused her to vomit and have other intestinal 'issues'. She was also very tall and although she grew well, keeping the nutrition going was an issue!

And then, Levi joined the clan and once again we had a tall, skinny child whose height to weight ratio was poor. At the age of 3 years old he got a bad intestinal bug and ended up in the hospital for a week. They almost sent him home with an NG tube (a tube down his nose to his stomach to provide liquid nutrition) but at the last minute we got him drinking. I still had to take him in to the doctor every day for almost 2 weeks to make sure he didn't lose any more weight. That was a scary time and really taught me that a child who has no extra body fat reserves is at risk. 

Ahren has his own food challenges. He is not skinny, more stocky and round than my other kids, but because of his poor chewing skills and constant constipation issues, we have adjusted his diet in many ways. The speech therapist/swallow expert has further modified what he eats. I am happy to report that we have been able to maintain h is healthy weight through all of his challenges. 

When Seth came along he had some serious eating issues. He fought tooth and nail at every meal to control everything. He would work himself up so much that he would end up vomiting his food. He is never going to be a very big person, but at the age of 4 he weighed 28 pounds and wore a 2T. He was a master at manipulation through food. I feel so sorry for his other mother. She tried so hard to feed him good food, but it wasn't about that. He craved control and that was an area he could take it. No matter how hard she tried, he won, even though it was at his own expense. 

When he came here we completely threw the eating rule book out the window. He could graze all day long, choose what he wanted (from many healthy choices) eat a little, get up and walk around and then return to the food and eat some more. No, this didn't teach any good eating habits, but what it did was give him all the control and get him to start feeding his body. Then, slowly, slowly, slowly, we added some rules. Now we are back at the point that he has to eat at the table, not get up and leave the food, choose from limited choices (peanut butter or ham sandwich for lunch) and not leave his food just because he wants to go play. In one year he has grown 4 inches and gained 10 pounds. The average growth at his age would be 1 inch and 2 pounds. Also, with some reflux meds and a lot of patience, he does not throw up any more. In fact, he loves to try anything and everything new to eat. He loves spicy food and is fearless about new foods. He is still way too skinny for my liking, but he is growing very, very well. I will just continue to try and fatten him up!

I can practically see his spine! And yet, his legs have gotten very muscular. He is on his way!!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Very Good Days

  Lately we have been having many very good days. The kind where at the end of the day you are not exhausted, you are still smiling, life is good and you look forward to another day with the kiddos. Why? I don't know. Once we got back on track after spring break things just seemed to fall into place. I have been making the effort to point out to each boy how great they are doing, what fun it is to be with them and how wonderful our days are. I am hoping to stretch this good spell as long as possible. It has definitely helped that the weather has been awesome and we spend a lot of time outdoors. Sunshine, fresh air and lots of physical play is a magical combo.
  Ahren started speech therapy this week. After 2 sessions he is already showing improvement. It helps that he is head over heels in love with the therapist and will do anything she asks. We have been practicing at home, too. The improvement I see is in his ability to say his L's now. He is really trying. He also has exercises for strengthening his jaw muscles. I'll post some pics later. He is eating up the special attention he gets.
  Ashley had a really spectacular Thursday this week. First, she had interviewed for a job and they called and hired her on Thursday. Way to go Ash! Then, the new laptop that my hubby bought for her arrived at her house. I thought he had gotten a re-furbished off brand laptop, but instead he had splurged and gotten her a re-furbished MacBook Pro with all the bells and whistles. When she opened the box she squealed in delight and immediately posted pics on her facebook. When I talked to her she was so excited she sounded like Minnie Mouse!

  Oh, man, I knew I shouldn't have said anything about how good things are. The two little ones just got into a slap fest and called each other nasty names. For no logical reason. Now there is crying and door slamming, lying, and ugly garbage talk. (Their favorite thing lately is to tell me I think they are ugly) It's good to know things are normal around here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

They called him Snapper

On the way home from school yesterday we saw two cars pulled over on the side of the road. Two women and several kids were all huddled around something in the road. As I passed I saw that it was a turtle and in danger of getting run over. I pulled over too, and asked the women if it would be all right if I took the turtle to our pond. They said yes, but to watch out, it was trying to bite. I picked him up by the shell, avoiding his claws, and deposited him in the back of my van. The women were in awe that I was not scared to pick him up! I have to admit, he was quite ferocious and his claws were very long! We took him home and I washed him off in the tub so I could see if his shell had any damage. Besides a few little chips around the back edge of his shell, he was perfect. (A cracked shell can cause a turtle to get a serious infection and die. You can patch them with fiberglass, though, so they will heal) For the record, he really loved the bath. He stretched out and shut his eyes and just let me gently wash off all the mud and grass. After Chris got home, he and the boys took him out to the pond where he happily scooted into the water and swam off. He is a snapping turtle, indigenous to this area, and will live very happily eating little fishies in the pond. He will get quite a bit larger, though, so we won't be doing any swimming in there.

You can all call me The Turtle Whisperer!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


  We are working hard to get back into our normal routine. We NEED routine. We NEED boring, no surprises, same ol' same ol'. Without routine, all is lost. My sanity, their manners, progress. You know, all the important things.

  Yesterday morning Seth said a bad word. I explained that the word was not allowed to be said in our home and that he was absolutely not to ever say it again. Well, 3 minutes later guess what came out of his mouth? I told him that since he now knew this was an unacceptable word, that he had to have a punishment. For his punishment, I sent him to brush his teeth and get rid of all the nasty in his mouth. I thought that was such a great punishment! Seth didn't, though. He immediately began wailing and screaming and throwing toys, then proceeded to hit himself in the head over and over. Oh boy I just wanted to snatch him up and turn him over my knee! Instead, I scooped him up and held him like a baby, gently rocking him until he calmed down. Then I sweetly asked him what was so bad about brushing his teeth. He looked totally confused. So I re-counted how he had said a bad word twice, and that I had sentenced him to brush his teeth to get rid of the nasty. So what was so bad about brushing his teeth? His answer: nothing. Well then why did he have such a tantrum? He looked even more confused. We ended up talking for a while about how if he would actually listen to me, he wouldn't have to throw a tantrum and everything would be fine. But if he didn't listen he was actually getting upset over nothing. We talked about it several times during the day, too, just to try and drive the point into his brain. It always amazes me how his brain works. He is super smart, but when the wiring shorts out he has one, and only one, reaction. Total meltdown. How do you un-do that? Will he ever get beyond that? It's bad enough at age 5, but what about when he is 15? Will he have any self control? Is he going to end up in prison because he has faulty brain wiring? I worry so much about his future. He is such a sweet, adorable little guy with so much going for him. It breaks my heart to see him struggling.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Let's all take a big collective sigh of relief

We survived Spring break 2011!
Where is my prize....

A boy and his Gremlin? Buster has turned out to be the best, most perfect dog for our family. We use him in a lot of therapeutic ways. Learning to care for and have empathy for an animal is an important step in a RAD child's emotional well-being. Here is a living thing that depends on us, even more than our kiddos, and they get to help care for them. Of course, you have to have the right animal. One that loves kids, can handle the occasional over-zealous child, is calm and even tempered, and has boundless energy. That describes Buster to a T. A plus is that he thinks he is a boy not a dog. He climbs playground equipment, plays with the horses and sleeps under the covers. 
 Have you ever had a good idea that goes terribly, horribly wrong? Yeah, well I had this bright idea that i could get some free time to bake a batch of cookies by giving the boys some cans of shaving cream and sending them outside to play with it. I could then rinse them off with the hose, plop them in the shower and have clean kids in time to start supper. Brilliant, right? Then the back door flew open and in bounded this. A shaving cream coated dog, who ran all over shaking and spreading the stuff everywhere. My house now smells faintly menthol-y.
 Kaytee and her new baby, Aubrey. That is one teeny, tiny little puppy. She is smaller than Ashley's guinea pig and she is already over 12 weeks old. I told Kaytee that absolutely, under NO circumstances, was that dog coming to live with us. She's bringing her to me for the night tonight so I can flea bathe her. Kaytee is afraid to do it so it's Granny Wen to the rescue!

Sunday, March 20, 2011


Levi and Seth have been taking Martial Arts. I love that they stress manners, respect and self discipline. Ahren tried it, but he just couldn't do it. He doesn't seem to mind. He likes to watch them instead. 

 The Tooth Fairy has been getting quite a workout at our home lately. 

Friday, March 18, 2011

March Madness has nothing to do with basketball

The only March Madness around these parts is the out-of-control herd of small boys. There are no basketballs involved (I almost wrote no 'balls' involved and then realized that it could be interpreted a different way, which made me giggle. A sure sign early dementia has hit me)

Conversation in the car:
Boy:  Remember that place with all the planes?
Me:  Do you mean the airport?
Boy:  No, no, no, no the one Daddy took us to.
Me:  Daddy took you to see airplanes?
Boy: No, No, No, No the place with the pets.
Me: A place Daddy took you where there were pets and airplanes?
Boy: NO NO NO (getting very irritated at me) the place with the train that was on the road with the cars
Me: Planes, pets and a train on the street? (very confused now)
Boy: (now yelling) NO NO NO we just went there but you wouldn't let us ride
Me: (light dawning) Do you mean the zoo?
Boy: YES! (big sigh)
Me: (how dumb can I be, that was totally obvious) What about the zoo?
Boy: Nothing.

I wish I hadn't used all the vodka to make vanilla extract. Then again, that was probably a wise choice considering all things.

I feel like one of the Mama monkeys we saw at the zoo, with a small child clinging to her all day long. If one child isn't rolling around on top of me, another one is. They hang on me, sit on me, touch me constantly, play with my hair, stroke my face, etc etc. A little cuddling is nice, but I feel like I am their big security object (which I am). I know anxieties are high this week, with Spring break and all. I knew this was coming. Still, I am exhausted and grouchy and we have 3 full days to go.

Activities we have done this week: (Note: budget and behavior keep us close to home)

The Houston Zoo
The Dollar Store (twice)
made necklaces
played at the park
went out to lunch, restaurant had large sand play area (sand in the queso, yum)
The Children's Museum (we have a family membership)
went out to lunch with many other kids/families
martial arts classes
outdoor play, lots and lots, involving mud, mud, mud
played with the horses, fed them carrots
play dates with friends, Levi had an overnight outing
Ashley is here (YEAH!!!)
a little shopping
new DS games (, I love you)
67 temper tantrums, slammed doors, hitting, tattling, annoying behaviors, kicking, spitting, hair pulling, incessant yammering, fake tears, screaming, etc etc. Too much fun equals fallout.

Going to try and go bowling today. I am wondering if it is such a wise idea to hand large heavy objects to small crazy boys. Watch for us on the news......

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

We saw the specialist

  I am going to make this a short and sweet update. All of Ahren's basic bloodwork was fine, the MRI was totally normal and he scored just a little lower on the neuro-muscular test scale. Next step is a comprehensive genetic screen looking for deletions, mutations and small replications that are linked to known disease states. This involved getting one tube of blood. We should have the results within 4 weeks. The next test after that is a muscle/nerve conduction test. This will again require sedation. Oh joy. Better that way though, than seeing him all freaked out like with the MRI. The doctor was so nice and really genuine. I guess in the end his expertise is worth the delayed timetable. He even offered us his personal work e-mail address to keep in touch and ask questions.

  We spent the morning at the Houston Zoo. The weather was perfect. Cool shorts weather, which is the best time to see the animals. They were all out and most were moving around. We managed to cover everything we wanted to in just over 3 hours. Then we ate a home-packed picnic lunch and headed to the med center for Ahren's appointment. The traffic was horrific and I ended up getting out of the car in the stand-still traffic and running with Ahren down several blocks to get to his appointment on time. Just as we got to the building entrance Ahren tripped and skinned both knees. I dragged that poor crying, scraped up child onto the elevators and up to the office. (He didn't even bleed. I had his hand and saved him from really hitting the pavement. But according to him he was dying!)

  The doctor's office is where the very worst event of the day unfolded. As we sat in the exam room, we began to notice a certain odor. It got stronger and stronger. Chris asked Seth to walk over to me and that's when it hit me. A wave of noxious stench so powerful I saw the wallpaper curl up. Sure enough he had pooped his pants. I tried to get him to sit still while the doctors were in there, but noooooo. He had to hop all around, spreading the fumes like a gas chamber. When we left the office we still had to hit the lab for the blood draw. As we were sitting there waiting to be called, I looked over to catch him with his hand in his pants. I pulled him towards me and realized he now had poop all over his hand, his shirt, his shorts and his leg. I pulled out the only supplies I had in my purse. Kleenex and hand sanitizer. I got some of it cleaned up, but I know I missed a lot. For the record, I can catch vomit in my hands and not wince. Blood doesn't phase me. Pee all over, no problem. But feces? Oh man. Nasty!!!!!

We finally got out of there and when we reached the van I pulled out the pack of wipes, spare clothes, and a plastic bag to contain the putrid clothes. I'm not sure we could have driven home without all that gear and being able to de-contaminate thoroughly. I can still smell poop. I want to scrub my hands with Clorox and sand paper. Maybe an acid bath that removes a few layers of skin would help. All I know is that one small boy is headed for a very warm, very soapy bath very soon. Head to toe de-poopifying. I am afraid to even guess where else the poop is hiding.......

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Insecure Attachment

I can say with certainty that Seth is attached. It's been over a year and there was a lot of hard work involved, but he is definitely attached. But (there is always a but) is an insecure attachment at this point. What do I mean by this and how do I know? Well, he is attached, genuinely loves us and demonstrates appropriate interactions with all family members, but he is still fearful of losing us and has a lot of anxiety.

All day long he seeks me out and needs to know I am still there. I cannot go to the restroom without him finding me and asking me something, just to hear me answer him. I can tell him exactly where I am going, have him watch me walk into the bathroom and still, 30 seconds later he has to be at the door asking me something. Same thing if I am on the phone. He knows he is not supposed to interrupt me, but he cannot help himself. He is compelled to ask me something just to get an answer so he knows that I still am available to him and that I know he is there. If I cannot or do not answer, he will crawl all over me just to be sure I KNOW he is there and have to respond physically. I think of him like a little bat, sending out little sonar bleeps all day long, pinging off of me to let him know I am there. The more anxious he is, the more bleeps he sends out. One day after he got in trouble (pretty big trouble, not the routine stop annoying your brother sort) he literally hung off of me all day long, repeating over and over 'I love you'. He knew he had upset me and it made him very, very anxious.

He shows his anxiety in other ways, too. I have mentioned before that he tends to shred his food when he eats. It took me a while to really figure out why he does this. At first I thought it might be that he needed smaller pieces to chew, or that he had trouble with certain textures. Nope, pure nervous habit. He will sit down to eat, then talk incessantly, wiggle all over in his chair, and shred his food with his fingers. I don't think he is even aware he is doing it. He doesn't do this nearly as much any more, but if he is feeling extra nervous we can bet he will shred everything on his plate and eat very little.

He also has nervous habits like picking his nose until it bleeds, or having his hands down his pants constantly. These also increase in relation to his anxiety level. When he is really anxious they become almost like nervous tics. He doesn't know he is doing it and is helpless to stop it. I can't tell you how many times we set out in the car and by the time we get somewhere his face and hands are all bloody and he doesn't even know it. You would think it would hurt, but he seems surprised when I show him the blood. He will even fight with me telling me he DID NOT do it and it's not because he is denying it. He doesn't realize he did.

Most days now we see only minor anxiety in him. He was able to handle some really big things lately with little or no ramping up. Even when he gets upset now, he calms down in a matter of minutes with very little intervention from us. Of course, what upsets him is not always logical. In fact, I laugh some days at the silly things that he gets all riled up about. I understand, though, that often the deeper emotions pop out in odd ways. He isn't really upset about the silly thing at all. It's just a safer outlet than revealing the true things that get to him.

One big thing we have worked very hard on is keeping the happy memories of his previous home alive in his heart. He had some deep hurt that we have worked on letting go, and have been developing an understanding that their home was just a stop on the way in God's plan. He now accepts that they loved him but he was meant to come to us. We talk about it a lot. He also loves to hear the story about how each child has come to us, either from my tummy, on an airplane, or picked up at a convenience store. They each have their own special story because each is their own special person!

Progress is measured in the number of moments he is calm and happy, not leaps and bounds, but it is still great progress.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Ahren Update

Oh Ahren. I utter those words so often! He is such a beautiful, happy, ornery, silly boy. Some days I still have to stop and just stare at him and convince myself he is really here. Working as hard as we did for three years to bring him home leaves some deep scars on a Mama's heart. 

So where are we in figuring out his physical diagnosis? 
See below:

We spent 2 half-days with a speech pathologist having every speech, fluency, language and swallowing test done she had in her arsenal. Last week i sat down with her to get all the results. (BTW, if anyone near here needs a speech professional I absolutely LOVE this woman!) The final results are that Ahren has no problem swallowing yet, but he does have difficulty chewing effectively. The muscles in his jaw are weak, so we will be doing strengthening exercises for that. The other issue is that he has a moderate fluency disorder. He has good vocabulary for his age, but when he has to put together a sentence or find the words to free-express himself he cannot find the words. It's sort of like stuttering and sort of like aphasia combined. He knows the words but cannot find them at the time. If you give him a choice to pick from he can easily voice himself. He also has great difficulty with many letter sounds that he should have mastered by this age. He will be starting twice a week therapy sessions to help this.

On this Wednesday we finally see the pediatric neuro-muscular specialist again and go over all the test results, discuss diagnosis and the plan for further testing and/or treatment. I am thoroughly ticked that it has taken so many, many months to even get to this point, but the upside is that by going right to the best specialist available in the southern U.S. we may have saved time in the long run. It was a calculated risk, but I still don't know if we chose the right path. I do know that whatever is wrong has only progressed a small amount in the last few months, thank goodness. He will no longer ride his bicycle, which he used to love. He doesn't climb into the play fort either. He will still go outside and swing, but that's about it. His speech is worse now than 6 months ago. The difficulty finding words is new, but the enunciation of certain letters is the same. The chewing issue is also nothing new. Shoot, the child's favaorite food is mash-a-tatoes. He would live on those if I let him.

One thing that the speech pathologist shared with me is that he is most certainly yanking my chain on some things. He is perfectly capable of chewing small bites of meat, which he showed her quite willingly. Here at home the only meat he would eat is things like soft meatloaf, diced chicken and so forth. He actually ate chunks of ham and small bites of beef jerky for her before he tired out. Now I need to push him, to insure he doesn't lose function from non-use. Little booger! Beef jerky. Really?

I will let y'all know what we find out later this week. I also have updates on Ashley, Aspen and all the other players here at Chez Chaos.

Oh, and I am the biggest loser of all time. I forgot my Dad's and my Sister's birthdays recently. Now I have to try and figure out a way to apologize and make it up to them, and not make them think I have totally lost my mind, which I have, and not seem a total blonde ditz, which I also am, and let them know how much I really, truly, and completely love them, which I do. (Does that sentence seem clunky????? Oh well, it matches my brick of a brain right now!)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Spring break has begun

This is not what you are thinking. Well, if you are thinking that this is a very large bottle of cheap vodka, then you are correct. But this is not my plan for surviving Spring break! (Even as tempting as that sounds) It is being transformed into the very best Vanilla Extract. 

 Madagascar Vanilla beans, split open
(reported to be the world's best beans)
Add 3 beans to each cup of Vodka

Store in a cool, dark place. Shake every few days. In several months I will have really, really yummy vanilla extract for cooking. I can't wait to make home made ice cream. You can keep adding vodka to the bottle as you use some, then eventually add more beans. It's a renewable source.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Fibbing and such

  Oh the little ones with issues, how they try me so. If it's not one, then it's the other. They are awesome at the tag team tantrums. The past two weeks have been especially trying. I am not sure what has spurred the recent craziness since none of the normal triggers are present. Nothing has changed, no new routines, no holidays/birthdays/vacations, nothing. I guess sometimes they ramp up 'just because'.

  There has been a huge spike in anger, lots of door slamming, talking trash, telling me No when I ask them to do something, and all around poor behavior. I can't even count the number of tantrums brought on by NOTHING and when I say nothing, I mean nothing. No logical reason anyway. They hit out of the blue, like a tornado, and rain destruction on all in their path. Sometimes all I can do is duck and cover and wait until it passes.

 Here is an example: I asked one boy to come into the kitchen. Whammo, kaboom, pow, his head blew off and venemous lava spewed forth. He wasn't in trouble, I just wanted to ask him a question. It didn't matter. I could have told him he had just won a new car and probably still gotten the same response. I made him sit next to me until he had cooled off, then asked him how he could have handled that better, then asked him my question - what would you like for breakfast.

 On another occasion, one child 'borrowed' something that wasn't his. I then told him that I would have to take one of his things to pay them back, and I told him I was going to take his remote controlled helicopter. Oh the screaming and hitting that ensued! Only problem is, this child, not any of the kids, owns an RC helicopter. I was just joking. I actually laughed at that tantrum it was so absurd. Afterwards I pointed out the joke and he laughed.

  And then there is the lying. Lies about little things, lies about bigger things, lies about nothing. It doesn't matter why, it just is a lie. All. The. Time. Normal consequences have no impact on this. Logic has no impact on this. Rewards for the truth have no impact on this. The only solution I can come up with is to NOT ask them, but just TELL them. As in, someone took my phone out of my purse and I found it in the bedroom. No one is allowed to get into my purse. Therefore everyone will do the following to help them remember this rule. (Insert punishment here) I like to use punishments that take a little while and hopefully benefit everyone. Things like pick up dog poo, pull weeds, put away clothes. (OK, things that benefit ME, but I deserve it!) Oh, and I talk, talk, talk all the time they are working. They may stop fibbing just to shut me up!

  Has anyone else noticed that kids with trauma issues do not understand humor? According to the experts, the development of humor is part of the ability to think outside of oneself and a part of normal development. It starts very young, when a small child will laugh when you put his shoe on your head and call it a hat. He sees that this is not true and gets the humor in the situation. Our traumatized kids do not think like this. They see the shoe and think, that's not a hat. Ahren gets humor now, but it took a long time for him to get it. Seth is still struggling with it. Sometimes he gets it, and other times he is totally lost. He can see humor better than he can do humor, though. He tries so hard to be funny and it is so sad how far off the mark he usually is. If he does make us laugh, he is so pleased and proud of himself, even if it was accidental. The other day I asked him what our phone number is, something we have been working on. He replied 877-cash-now and I belly laughed out loud. He then proceeded to repeat that about a million times, and also point out to me how he made me laugh. Each time I tell him it was indeed funny, and why. He will eventually get it, but the poor kid does not have a future as a comedian.

  The other thing I have been thinking about is how normal behavior modification absolutely does NOT work on these guys. Sticker charts, rewards, earning points, none of that works. They just do not have the ability to think beyond the moment and weigh the outcomes, good or bad. The type of behavior therapy that has worked for us is the visual cues coupled with verbal cues. Seth had a very hard time modulating the level of his voice. Everything was either a whisper or an ear-splitting yell. He had no clue if he was too loud or too quiet. So we developed a chart, using Mario characters. Bowzer was the 'outdoor' voice. Mario and Luigi were conversation voices, one a little louder than the other, and Princess Peach was a quiet voice. The chart hung everywhere and we would refer to it often and point out which voice he was using and which one was appropriate. I even modeled the voices for him so he could hear the differences. It took about a month but he got it. He is so much better now. No more screaming he loves me in my ear and no more whispering from the back seat of the van. It helped the other boys too. Only on rare occasions do I have to remind him to use the Mario voice, or Peach voice.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


Someone needs to invent a Shower Shovel....

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Awww, you make me blush.....

I can't believe all the feedback I got after my post a few days ago where I revealed my insecurities. I should be pathetic more often! This blog is sometimes the only way I have to be real and open. In my day to day life, like most of you, I have to be strong and patient and dedicated and well, you know, SANE. At least for the most part. At times when I have opened up about things I am feeling it has backfired terribly. I don't regret it because I was honest about how I felt at the time. If people can't accept and/or forgive my occasional outbursts, well then they don't have the luxury of having lived a life with lots of painful experiences. If you have never held a tiny baby in your hands that has been nearly killed by another human being and have learned to forgive. If you have never had to leave a child you love with every fiber of your being in another country at the mercy of others, with no idea when or if you might ever see that child again, and yet learned to trust in the Lord. If you have never loved a child who spends every waking moment trying to push you away so that they do not get hurt again, and yet you continue to love and cherish that child in spite of the pain. If you have been so blessed to have lived a charmed life full of joy and no pain, then you have not lived, for only by feeling the pain do you truly treasure the joy.

So all of my internet pals who get it, plus those IRL (in real life) who get it, here is to embracing the pains and treasuring the joys, leaning on each other and knowing that we always have each others backs, even when the poo is flying and the RADalicious behaviors are off the charts, to all of us, HOORAY, HOORAY, HOORAY!!!!!

Friday, March 04, 2011

Touched my Heart

I pulled this out of Levi's take-home folder last week. 
Makes me cry hot tears of sweet love for my sensitive boy.
He really wants his little sister.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011


  As I stepped out of the shower yesterday morning I looked up to see Seth standing there with his camera, ready to snap a picture.

  All three boys had dental appointments this morning. As I sat in the waiting room I could hear little chirpy voices talking away (as usual). Then I heard Ahren say, 'We never brush our teeth. We don't have any toof-brushes.'

  Someone locked the inside of the garage door and when I hit the opener arriving home it didn't budge. I thought I just didn't hit the button hard enough so I hit it again. Now our new opener doesn't work at all.

  The boys started Tae Kwon Do classes last week. On Monday night they dragged all the parents out on the floor to work out with the kids. Oh boy was that a workout. When we got home I squatted down to open a dog kennel and the entire back of my pants split. RRRRiiiipppppp!

  Levi was watching a movie on my laptop and got really excited and poked the screen, short circuiting it out. Now I have to figure out how to send it in to be repaired.

  I looked up how to measure my hair for Locks of Love and did what they said. I am less than 1/2 inch from donating. Less if I pull hard.....

  I registered to be on the national bone marrow registry last week and got my sample kit in the mail. A couple of cheek swabs to get tissue typing and I will officially be an available donor.

It's the very beginning of march and already in the 80's here. I need to start the prep work for my garden.  Actually, I am late. I should have already had the prep work going.


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Every time....

Every time I pass by the boys bathroom I have to flush their toilet.

Every time I do laundry I find surprises in pockets.

Every time I sit down on the potty (TMI?) someone yells Mommy hysterically.

Every time I think of Peri Brynn I now smile instead of cry.

Every time my husband tells me he loves me, I love him a little more (and he tells me all the time)

Every time I sweep the floors it amazes me how much dust, dirt and hair I get.

Every time I think about our journey to get Ahren I am amazed that he is really here and part of our family.

Every time I think of Ashley I remember the little girl who would cry with her hand on her forehead in her best dramatic role, going for the Oscar, and I smile. She was horribly adorable.

Every time that it would be a great day to sleep in, someone wakes especially early and rousts everyone else, who happen to be ravenous and only mommy's breakfast will do. Now.

Every time I consider cutting my hair that I have been growing for 2 years I think about how close I am to donating to Locks of Love and remember little Abby (who now has a gorgeous head of hair) and how that organization came through for her while she went through chemo.

Every time my head hits the pillow I thank God for another day and pray that tomorrow will grant me new strength, patience, and wisdom.

Every time I look in the mirror I can't believe I am a 47 year old mother of 5 (maybe 6) and not a 21 year old hard body anymore. It is so unfair!

Every time I smell my boys heads as I kiss them and they drift off to sleep, fresh from a bath and all warm and cozy, I feel more blessed than anyone on this earth.

Every time I think about my ex-husband I am thankful that we are friends and co-parents and that our girls have been our focus for many years.

Every time my kids drive me to the brink and I want nothing more than to run off and join the circus, I remind myself that I am a 47 year old mother of 5 (possibly 6) who is not a 21 year old hard body anymore. Rats! There goes my career on the trapeze.

Every time I blog I wonder if anyone besides my parents reads this and still loves me. Oh yeah, I am that insecure at times. I just hide it well!