Sunday, February 28, 2010

Another tooth?

Hannah's due diligence at wiggling has paid off. This afternoon the last of her loose teeth fell out, leaving her with an adorable gap toothed smile. I just can't beleive that my baby girl is growing up so fast.
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Calling Dr. Mom


I though you would all enjoy a look at what my life looks like at bed time. All of these (except for the vitamins) are repeated at various points throughout the day and night. Modern medicine is a great thing, but a bit scary at times as well.
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Friday, February 26, 2010

A Tale of Three Children


Hannah's surgery went very well. Despite her fears, she was a real trooper through it all. In fact, when she woke up she didn't cry and simply went back to wiggling her tooth. So fervently that it ended up falling right out. Her look of delayed surprise was priceless. And I do mean delayed because the reason she felt so good was all the stuff they pumped in her. It took her a couple seconds to realized what she had done.

She's resting right now on the sofa, surrounded by all her favorite things, watching a movie, sipping on juice and eating goldfish. She's happy as a clam.

That is not the case with Micah who woke up this morning after a very bad night's sleep. He'd spiked a fever of 102 and was completely lethargic. So, Andy took him to the pediatricians (Love you Dr. Anne!) who quickly diagnosed him as having pneumonia and strep throat. Poor kids feels horrible and looks even worse.

He's also on the couch, though not nearly as happy as Hannah. We're struggling to get his body to stop coughing enough that he can rest and his fever isn't really coming down very well. We're hoping the antibiotics kick in soon because this is a little scary.

Micah was supposed to sleep over at grandma's tonight and then head to Disney on Ice in the morning. Obviously he can't go and given the complete lack of attention Jason is going to get here, we shipped him off to grandma's instead. he's under strict instructions to have fun, but to not share the fun with his siblings. Too high a risk of weeping and gnashing of teeth with that one.

So, here we are with one recovering kid, one sick kid and one missing kid. It's likely to be a very long weekend with lots of runs to the store, drink refills and very little sleep for the adults. Wasn't this supposed to get easier as they got older?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tonsils and Schools and Chores, Oh My!

Our lives are just plain busy. Next week is March, bringing with it Andy's birthday which means Micah's is close behind. I still need to rotate the 2 bedrooms which including painting them both. Our Dave Ramsey class is continuing to go well, but it's a LOT of work right now. Laundry is piling up and really need to find the surface of my desk again. Needless to say, I've been struggling to find time to blog.

Jason had his full day trial at the new school on Tuesday. He said it went well and he really, really liked it. I hear a lot about the kids, the gecko and the gym. I also heard a little about the classes, but, well, he's a 10yo boy and felt he had already covered everything that was important.

The admissions director gave me good feedback when I picked him up, but nothing concrete yet about if he gets in yet or not. She is supposed to call me sometime later today or tomorrow and let me know if we move forward to the testing phase, so I am a nervous wreck every time the phone rings. Still, we are moving closer and closer to the end of the process and with each step I am holding a bit more hope.

Hannah tonsils will be exiting stage right tomorrow. It's a much needed and long awaited surgery that has my little girl all tied up in knots. She was just fine this morning until she realized that tomorrow is the day. I know she's afraid of the pain so we bought a bunch of popsicles, puddings and ice cream to soothe her throat afterwards. I have a feeling she'll be just fine and going stir crazy in a few days. Still, it's going to be a long day tomorrow with lots of tears from us both. I'll post an update tomorrow afternoon when it's over.

Our class has showed us how important it os for our kids to learn how to handle money now rather than in the future like us, so taking some ideas from Dave Ramsey, we started the kids on a chore chart. Lots of basic stuff them need to do and a bunch of stuff they can get paid to do. then we help them divide it each week into Spend, Save and Give envelopes. Hannah is taking to this with gusto, counting off her checkmarks and looking for more to do at every turn. Micah is enjoying it, but he has the attention span of a gnat, so we might get half the bed made before he wanders away. Although on payday he certainly is engaged because he likes his "monies."

Jason is the one who is driving me to distraction with his chores. He's decided that half done is good enough. Um, sorry. NO. Then I just make you redo it and take away some privileges. I've also started offering up his pay chores to his brother and sister which he doesn't seem to mind right now. Of course, that may change when he realizes I was serious about him paying them for doing the chore.

Oh, and things are moving forward on the adoption front. We decided to pursue adoption from the foster care system. It will be like it was with Jason, a straight adoption without being foster parents. We were thinking about that but decided that the cost to our kids was too high right now. Surprisingly, I haven't had much flack outside of the training department at our county about the age range we are looking at. Because we will not adopt out of birth order, we need to find a child 3 or under. A couple people I have spoken with have been very encouraging. I think us being experienced adoptive parents makes a big difference. We know more of what to expect from a child in care and how to deal with the long term ramifications of drug and alcohol exposures, abuse and neglect. So, training starts in July and depending on the back log, we will hopefully be licensed by Christmas.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Brief Education on My Son's Autism


Autism Spectrum Disorder encompasses a wide range of disorders and diagnoses, each with varying severity, including Autistic disorder ("classic" autism), Aspergers Syndrome, and Pervasive Development Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified, or PDD-NOS. This means that you can have kids who are both extremely severe or really mild with the same diagnosis. Jason's actual diagnosis is Pervasive Development Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified. What does that mean? Let me tell you.
In Jason's case, he has a complete disconnect socially. While he wants friends, he can't read facial expression or tone. Sarcasm is completely lost on him and he cannot distinguish the nuances of relationships or conversation. He may jump into a conversation at an inappropriate point, say something completely unrelated or take a joke too far. He's also quite literal with what he hears so when you say to him angrily, "I dare you to do that again!" he will. He fidgits and touches things and doesn't always have the best personal space awareness.
Because of all of this, he doesn't relate well with his peers or older kids. At this point, kids younger by a few years seem to be okay with him. I think they have more social tolerance at this age and as they are still learning the social rules themselves and are just less into talking and more into playing. Jason's peers aren't so understanding. Because he looks normal, they expect him to act normal. And if they have known him more than a year or two, they are even less understanding because he used to be normal. He wasn't. He just wasn't abnormal enough to be diagnosed.
Jason's reaching an age where kids have a greater understanding of their place in society and how they want to be perceived and so far, most don't want to be perceived at being his friend. This hurts Jason a lot. A common misconception is that Autistic kids can't feel emotions, but the truth is that they feel them quite deeply. He doesn't understand why the kid who played catch with him at baseball practice ignores him and laughs at him at school. He doesn't get why he's told he can't sit down with a kid at lunch. And he really doesn't understand why no one wants to play with him even in his own neighborhood.
Differences like these make it very easy for Jason, and others like him, to be picked on or bullied by people who are uninformed or uneducated about Autism or similar disorders. The fact that he doesn't always know or understand when he's being picked on often will make him a perpetual target.
So, here is my request. I know there are a few people who read this who have kids who know Jason from school or church. And if you don't, but know someone who does, please feel free to forward this on. I don't want people to force their kids to be his friend. I would simply like that if you have a child who knows my son that you take a moment to educate them a little on these differences to make Jason's next contact with them a positive one. I think that most kids just don't know what to make of him and without meaning to, hurt his feelings. I'm praying that a little bit of education can go a long way.
Thank you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Forgiveness

Every time I think I have a handle on my feelings about what happened to Jason before he came home to me, something comes out of the blue and bites me.

Over the years, I've come to terms with Jason's birth mom and her choices. They were not choices I would make, but I also understand better now how someone in her circumstance with her background could have ended up in the situation she did. I do not believe she every meant any malice or harm for Jason. It was, sadly, more a lack of education and ability. I've cried many a tear thinking about how the choices she made and the pain she might be feeling over his loss.

It's his foster family that I haven't come to grips with yet. And last night, while looking at the Facebook page for our county agency, I ran across Jason's foster mother.

Without going into detail, lets just say that for at least the bulk of Jason's time in their home, that Jason was little more than a mouth to feed with a paycheck. Harsh, I know, but I have tons of assessments, teacher's notes and doctor's examines that point many of Jason's struggles to "gross environmental neglect." At 4, he spoke fewer than 50 words, had one 3 word sentence ("Pick up me") and was so emotionally shut down that he left the only home he had ever known without shedding a tear. The only early intervention he ever received was at age 1 and he did not finish the program. Although there are notes from his teachers expressing concerns about his "home environment." The last record of him attending that program was when he was 16mo. He moved into our home just after his 4th birthday.

I feel angry for him. For the time he lost and the hurt he endured. This isn't someone with limited resources or assistance. This is foster parent in a major metropolitan area. Resources abound in the area of early intervention. If it was too much, they could have allowed him to move to a home where they could get him the help he needed. Oh, and lets not forget the blind eye they turned the abuse going on in their home. Anyway, seeing her name and Facebook photo set a knot in my stomach and an ache in my heart. Obviously this is something I need to work on, especially if we plan to be re-certified with the agency this year. There is a chance I could run into her and I need to come to grips with this first and fast.

Forgiveness.

I know we are called to it, but I guess I am still having a hard time with this one. I bear her no ill will for the things she did to me after he moved, but to hurt my son in the way she did, I just can't seem to get over that.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Cleaning Day

Given the weather outside, we figured it was the perfect day to clean out the fridge. Although I think the kids are a little disturbed by seeing an empty fridge and a full porch.
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How to wear out your kid before bed....

video

I think the video says it all, don't you?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dinner, dinner, what's for dinner?

So, Andy and I started the Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University a couple weeks ago.  To be honest, I wish we had done this years ago, but as it is, we're figuring it out now.  Anyway, part of this is so we can be better with our money, save more, spend less and pay off all our debt.  And maybe even prevent our kids from making the same mistakes we did.

How are we doing this?

For starters, we went on a very, very, VERY strict budget.  This month we cut everything down to the basics with no real extras, just to see how much we were really needing to spend and to put the most into our Emergency Fund (Baby Step 1).  The biggest extra to affect me...dining out (or ordering in for that mater).  No more can we order pizza or run through a drive-thru during a busy day. I'm packing lunches, fixing dinners and reheating left-overs.  Every day.  No exceptions.

This means I'm also having to learn to be creative with my cooking.  I have a fairly limited repertoire of dishes I can do successfully.  I never really learned to cook when I was younger and have sort of approached fixing dinner with trepidation.  And I can't rely on my old stand-bys of noodles and sauce very often.  Therefore, I'm branching out.

So far this week, I've made pinto beans with corn bread.  (I did these on an appointment day in the slow cooker since I knew I wouldn't be home much.)  The next night we reheated them and have them over rice.  I've also made Peas and Rice (a Lebanese dish from some old friends of Andy's family), stir fry and tonight baked ziti with chicken.

I'm actually feeling a new found sense of accomplishment and creativity in being able to do this. I might even branch out and try a couple of the Haitian recipes I have been reading about on my friend Corey's blog.

I would love to get some new things to try.  Things that are easy and flavorful enough for us, but no overwhelming for the kids.  I'd also love some suggestions. Like I said, my cooking experience is limited, but I am always willing and ready to try new things.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Tonsils


This is Hannah today at the pediatricians. I took her back because after 7 days on the antibiotics, her strep wasn't getting much better. The fever is gone, but her throat is stil a bit sore and the blisters remain. They did another swab and it came back positive, again.
After much looking and discussing, we determined that Hannah's tonsils have some spots that are holding on to the strep, but can't get the antibiotic to it. I think the word necrosis was used, which sounded really bad until they explained it to me. My biggest worry was what do we do now and how serious is this. Since she's on antibiotics, she's not contagious, but she isn't very comfortable either. We decide to give her a penicillin shot and the follow up with Augmentan until her surgery. This should keep the strep isolated to those few spots on her tonsils and allow her to feel better.
The bad part was the penicillin shot. Hannah fainted the last time she got shots and this one is a bit more painful. She had it previously last spring when she has strep and remembers how much it hurt. As soon as we mentioned getting a shot, she burst into tears. Thankfully, Dr. Anne got us set up with Lolipops, but we still had to hold her down to give it to her. Then she gave us another fainting scare, although we hadn't taken her from the room yet. The picture is of her recovering. It took 45 minutes for her to be stable enough to leave. Talk about scaring Mommy.
We're home now and she's watching Cinderella on the couch. Snuggled up with her blanket and hippo and basking in all the attention a sick kiddo gets around here. I'm praying hard the drugs do their job and get her better. Her tonsils are MASSIVE now and given what's going on, that's a little scary. Thankfully, they are coming out in 2 1/2 weeks.
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Sunday, February 7, 2010

Bedtime

Jason wanted to read the bedtime story tonight. It's a family favorite, Where the Wild Things Are.
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The Curse


Hannah, my beautiful, intelligent, witty, blessedly normal child, is driving me crazy.

Years ago, my mother bellowed out a curse that I think we all have heard once-upon-a-time.  "I hope you have a daughter JUST LIKE YOU!"  I scoffed at the idea for years, thinking I would actually be blessed by a kiddo like me who despite my teenage attitude was actually a pretty good kid.  But I was stuck on the struggles my mom had raising my teenage self, I never really thought about what I was like at say, 5.

Hannah has realized that she is smarter than me.  And in all likelihood, she is.  But I do know more than her right now which is causing us to butt heads a bit.  She pontificates about the house on the things of her world, telling us all how things would be if she were in charge.  I have a feeling that she will be the child the teacher leaves in charge when she steps out of the room.  In fact, I think they have already done that a bit.

I really love that she is so stinking smart.  Reading already, working out basic math and writing all the time.  But I'll tell you, it can be incredibly annoying to have a 5 year old tell you how to play Wii, fold the socks or make your breakfast.  Part of it is that she is just so verbal and talks all the time.  In fact, she talks so much that it is a problem at school and I am sure that we will be discussing it at conference time.  She remembers EVERYTHING I say or do and will call me to task if I mess up.  Which I do...constantly.  Because, lets face it, I'm raising 3 kids and it's taken it's toll on my mental and physical abilities.

But she's also incredibly kind.  Including those who would otherwise be left out and going out of her way to make people feel better when they are down.  I can't tell you how many times she has said we are too tough on Jason.  I shared the story of when she realized the harshness of Jason's adoption story.  I think it's great that she's got such a huge heart to go along with that incredible mind she has.

So, she's probably going to run the world and I will just have to get used to her telling me what to do.  Of course, she can't run the world for a few more years so maybe I still have a chance at getting her to clean her room.  Maybe.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Winter Wonderland

We got hammered. Yep, my guess is we have 12-14 inches on the ground. And it's beautiful, moist packing snow good for snow men, snow forts and snow ball fights. The kids were out last night in the heart of the storm and then again this afternoon for over 2 hours each time. It's great exercise especially since driveways needed to be cleared 2-3 times.
Here's a few shots of all the fun we had today.

A view out the back...


And the front, pre-shoveling.


Daddy and the kids building a mini-sledding hill since we couldn't get off our street this morning.


Hannah


Jason


Micah



Hannah got the first ride since she worked the longest at building the hill.



Micah thought it was the coolest thing ever.



Jason was just looking for some speed.



Daddy



No, he's not stuck to the tree, he's eating the snow that was blown to the trunk.  To each their own.
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Friday, February 5, 2010

Good news!

First, we have everything we need to get him the Autism Scholarship.

Second, Jason's interview with the school went very well and the admissions director told me today that Jason appears to be the type of student they can help.  The next step is testing and a full day at the school, shadowing a fellow student.  He'll get to do this on the 16th.

Keep the prayers coming!

Educational Insanity

Last night I had a meeting at the school to write a new IEP and discuss the results of the latest testing.  We also spent a great deal of time brain storming how to deal with the bullying situations.  The staff at the school really likes him and find him a joy to work with.  Overall, I am happy with the results, but still have some questions.

Because at the time we started testing, Autism was not in question, they did not do any educational autism assessments.  Now, they do believe he is on the spectrum and have written a portion of his IEP to deal with pragmatic language and social skills.  In fact, this social group that he is now a part of actually meets in the specialized Autism classroom once a week.  However, because they didn't do their assessment, they couldn't take his doctor's letter at face value and qualify him under Autism for his IEP.  My concern is that he will need this qualification to get the Autism Scholarship to cover the new school if he gets in, but the school psychologist says that is not the case.  That I just need to call the district office and they will help me through the steps in getting the scholarship.  Still, I'm going to be making some phone calls today to confirm this.

In addition to being stressed and in a meeting most of yesterday evening, this morning I am taking Jason over to visit the new school.  We are still very hopeful that this will work out, but don't know anything yet. They mentioned concerns about his language scores and the "underlying cause" of his LD.  We're still hopeful though and appreciate any and all prayers as we work towards this.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Hannah's Tonsils

Well, after consulting with our ENT yesterday, it was decided that Hannah's tonsils need to come out.  They are massive, impeding her ability to eat and breathe and she keeps getting strep. On the plus side, she's little enough that the recovery will be easier, but it will still be hard.

The surgery won't be until the end of the month, after her strep is cleared up.  I think she is pretty stoked about the prospect of eating all the popsicles her heart desires.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Dr. Seuss

"I don't want Green Eggs and Ham.  I want brownies and pancakes."

Micah's declaration after bedtime story tonight.  Gotta love it.

Lots and lots and lots of stuff...

We have so much going on right now, my head is spinning.

First, we have been invaded by illness.  Micah and Hannah have strep throat and Andy has tonsillitis, bronchitis and pink-eye.  Jason and I are so far healthy, but I think our days are numbered.  I think I might take my friend Nancy's advice and build us a bubble.

Jason's observation by the new school admissions department went well and they are "interviewing" him on Friday morning.  So far, we have no indication of how things are going, but they do have some concerns about the underlying causes of his LD as well as his language issues.  Still, we're praying that they will at least give him a chance.

Jason's present school situation is continuing to chug along.  We have his new MFE/IEP meeting tomorrow.  He's making great progress on his goals so I don't know what he will still qualify in.  For special education parents, this can be a good and a bad thing.  We don't want to see them lose there assistance, but we also want to see them make progress.  For example, Jason is doing great in math, but it's because of how the math is being taught to him.  Put him in a regular math class and he will fall behind again.  It's a bit of a catch-22.

Jason's also still struggling socially as school.  We've had a few more incidents of bullying behavior and I have a feeling a portion of tomorrow's meeting will be devoted to talking about it.  Honestly, we are doing everything we can to work with Jason on his social skills and he is making progress.  He's in individual and small group therapy as well as participating ins social groups at school.  Yet, the game of frustrating and bating Jason continues.  I've honestly reached the end of my patience, so tomorrow's meeting should be an interesting one.

We also started doing Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University at church.  It's a great class and we are really learning a lot.  Still, it also means that we have tightened our budget and there are no more Starbucks Fraps in my near future.  On the bright side though is we'll gain financial peace and all this eating in will make me a better cook and healthier person.

Which leads up to our final bit of news...

Andy and I are praying about adopting again.  There is still a long way for us to go on research and prayer, but it's in the open now.  The kids think it's great and Hannah is begging for a baby sister.  Right now, we're thinking it will like be a waiting child from the foster care system.  We have a lot of questions, but know that God can answer them as He has in the past.