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can I just say...

Friday, October 30, 2009

I can't stand them - my imagination is waaaaay too overactive to handle it.

I hate Halloween!
Not only do my kids get WAY overstimulated...and loaded with insane amounts of sugar...they're also subjected to all kinds of scary stuff, that quite frankly, their little minds aren't ready for. My tween, Alek, is starting to be exposed to more and more of this stuff. And honestly, I'm not really okay with that.
Shad and I have kept things pretty tame around here. We don't allow the typical kinds of movies most kids are allowed to watch. A PG-13 in this house, means our kids won't be watching them until they're at least 13. Scary movies are pretty much out for the kids - I can't stand them - my imagination is waaaaay too overactive to handle it, so if Shad wants to watch something on the frightful side the poor guy is pretty much on his own.
But this year Alek has started showing an interest in scary things. Nothing gory - thank goodness - but they must be talking about this stuff at school quite a bit because he's come home telling some amazing ghost stories...some of the stuff, quite frankly, I'm a little freaked out by myself. (I TOLD you my imagination is over-active. If I can be freaked out by an 11-year-old telling a ghost story, I must be REALLY pathetic! :)
This year we took a big step and allowed him to go to a haunted house with some of his sixth grade friends and tonight he's at a Halloween Party.
Last night, after I finished putting Nick to bed, prayed with him, kissed him goodnight and shut the door, I walked down the hall to the girls room to tuck them in.
And then I heard it...an audible wail.
I went back to Nick's room and found him curled up on his bed, sobbing.
Turns out the boy and his big brother were downstairs this morning, while I was getting ready for work, watching a scary show Alek had taped on the DVR. They watched it...laughed about it...and were fine.
Until last night.
It started out innocently enough. As they were getting ready for bed, they had started talking about Halloween...and then one of them remember the show - and in typical boy fashion, decided to recite every line in the movie verbatim.
Before they knew it they both were freaked out, but were too afraid to tell us what they had done, so they had put on a brave face as we had tucked them in, turned off the lights and shut the door.
As Nick confessed what had happened, Alek came in the room a little freaked out himself.
All I could do was love them, hug them, rock them a bit and tell them it would be alright.
We let Nick sleep on our bedroom floor, but Alek (the one who should have known better) had to return to his own room.
And then I snickered to myself.
That'll teach 'em.


look what I found when i got home tonight...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


this and that

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What am I saying? Maddie adds chaos to every situation. A good kind of chaos...but chaos never-the-less.

Its been nice and quiet around here today.
We finished up the boys' flag football season yesterday and so this is the first Sunday in quite awhile where we've been able to just stay home and veg.
Actually its the first day in awhile, period.
Its been nice.
Real. Nice.
I'm ALMOST caught up on laundry. I say almost because with a family of six you never REALLY catch up.
I mean, really. Never.
And while we're at it...why is it that adding one family member can make THAT much of a difference in the laundry level?
Before Maddie I was able to get the laundry done, most of the time. I may have a load left at the end of the weekend, but it was manageable and the kids had freshly washed, clean, unwrinkled clothes in their dressers by Sunday's end.
Now? Not so much.
Actually, they're lucky to have the clothes in their dressers...much less clean and unwrinkled.
Part of it is that I've decided to make them a lot more responsible for their laundry. They're putting their dirty clothes downstairs on Saturday morning...helping with loading and unloading the machines and putting their own clothes away after I fold them, but still...I'm WAY behind.
All. The. Time.
Little Maddie couldn't have added that much chaos to my weekend routine.
What am I saying? Maddie adds chaos to every situation. A good kind of chaos...but chaos never-the-less. ;)
In other news...
The boys football tourney went well yesterday. Nick's team finished third...and Alek's won the championship. Both boys did great and enjoyed playing, so I guess I know what I'll be doing next fall.
Now we're on to finding the girls some extra curricular stuff.
Anya got a jump start on hers. She began piano lessons a couple of weeks ago - and she LOVES it! She goes right after school one day a week, which means she goes while I'm still at work. (the babysitter takes her) Gotta love that schedule! :)
I'm still thinking about doing some sort of gymnastic thing for the girls. I think they'd both like it...and they both could use the creative outlet.
Hmmm...what else? I can't think of any other news right now. I still have the IEP meeting to write about. And I'm making a commitment to join the NaBloPoMo writing deal in November. I need to get back into the habit of writing.
Keep your fingers crossed that it works! :)


awwww...THAT's my little man!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nick: Mom...I have a headache.
Me: Awwww Nick. I'm sorry. How long has it been hurting?
Nick: Since I went to town with Dad.
Shad: Nick! Why didn't you say something?
Nick: Because Mom is the only one who can fix it. She's fixed it before and I can trust her to fix it again.

Snicker. Snicker. Bwaaaahaaaahaaaa!!! I think the good doctor was a bit bent out of shape! :) (And yes, he actually did use the word 'trust'. ;)


baby steps

Friday, October 23, 2009

I don't know if we've just endured another time of testing...or if this is just the calm in the middle of the storm.

Thanks everyone for the supportive comments and virtual hugs. You all are awesome! :)
Some of the things you wrote about we've considered...others we hadn't. All of it was read, mulled-over and ingested.

We are so blessed to have such a great group of adoptive parents and wise friends surrounding us who have been there, dealt with that.
We still have a lot to consider in how to deal with Maddie in the coming days and weeks, but I am happy to say things have settled down in the last couple of weeks.
I'm not sure exactly why yet.
I don't know if we've just endured another time of testing. You know...the two steps forward, one step back thing. Or if this is just the calm in the midst of a storm.
The last two weeks things have been incredibly quiet on the school front.
No late afternoon phone calls. Great reports from the teachers when I call. My informants kids say she's settled down.
And so I'm confused.
I'm hoping its a permanent change. I'm imagining she's learned she's not going to get away with all of these negative behaviors.. I'm thinking the praise she received from her daddy and I about how good she's been behaving the last couple of weeks is working.
But I'm also not naive enough to think that it is over...whatever it is.

I'm seriously leaning toward this being just a time of testing. Trying out old behavior to see how it works in a new environment. Or maybe it was a temporary slide back into the orphanage. A bit of a post-traumatic response. I keep reminding the teachers that school can be very reminiscent of the orphanage to these kids.
Fifteen to 20 kids, all the same age, all crowded into a concrete block type room for a long day with only breaks for a few recesses and communal lunch.
Sounds awful familiar to me.
The teachers seem to be getting it. Really, they do. Her kindergarten teacher is awesome. So patient and understanding of Maddie's history and special needs. She's the one who is starting to wonder if the constant stream of extra teachers is contributing to Maddie's behavior. We're considering cutting back on some of it and will talk to Mrs. B again on Tuesday at the parent-teacher conferences. Maddie has a long list of teachers including a special needs teacher - which I'm not so sure she needs. This teacher offers more one-on-one instruction, which is nice, but Mrs. B says Maddie is doing great academically. Right on track with the rest of the class. YAY! :)
She obviously needs her speech help...and the teacher for the deaf - at least for now. But there's also a person to help keep an eye on her at PE (a teacher's aide). I'm not sure that person is needed either.
So we're considering it.
And then there's the lunchroom.
During her IEP meeting a few weeks ago (which I still haven't blogged about and which I am still working on) I mentioned the lunch room may be too loud and that may be why she was acting out so much. The teachers actually came up with the idea of having her eat in a quieter setting, possibly with a couple of friends (different ones each day), so Maddie could work on her interpersonal skills (having conversations, developing friendships, etc.). It is supposed to be a part of her final IEP - which I was really excited about. I'm not sure its been implemented yet, so I'm going to check on it.
Another thought...one of the behavior modifications that the teachers had put in place was a reward system based on gummy bears. I put the kibosh on that immediately. There is still a behavior modification in place but it has absolutely NO food attached to it now. Thankfully.

The teachers were mortified at what they may have done in using food as a reward...seriously - one of them used that word later on. Again, I'm thankful for the teachers we are working with here. (Notice I'm saying teachers...just keep that in mind, okay?! ;)
So, for now, we're going to continue at the status quo. Things are going well. All is quiet (quick...someone find me a piece of wood) and Maddie is showing signs of making permanent behavior changes.
Its not that we're out of the woods completely, but I have to say Maddie seems to have attached pretty well. Extremely well, considering where we were a year ago.
She comes to us for comfort...
Seeks us out for approval...
Absolutely never mommy shops anymore...
Will seek us out if she can't find us...
There's no more bullying of other kids - at least not in our family circle...
She's treating animals with affection now (instead of absolute fear) - well, at least ours...
She responds appropriately to discipline and affection...
And will occasionally climb into someone else's lap for a second, but then will look at me and then come over and climb up in mine.
Leaps and bounds...
Millions and millions of miles...
Heads and shoulders of improvement.
And that's what I need to keep reminding myself. Isn't it? Baby steps. Keep an eye on the improvements...and keep working on helping her grow, learn and adjust..
Sure. We still have a ways to go...but we're getting there.


an explanation

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sometimes life just creeps up behind you and kicks you in the tail, ya know? And the last few days have been a virtual kick in the pants - and not the good kind.

I'm sorry...this post is really long. I guess that's what you get for letting me spend the last week working this situation over in my mind six-ways to Sunday. I do want to thank you all for last week's virtual hugs. I needed them.
I still don't feel like I've fully wrapped my mind around what's been happening during the last month. To be honest, what Maddie has been up to hasn't been so much so horrible, as it has been disconcerting. I thought we had a better handle on all of this stuff and to find out otherwise was just a slap in the face.
I hate it when that happens.
Sometimes life just creeps up behind you and kicks you in the tail, ya know? And the last few days have been a virtual kick in the pants - and not the good kind.
When Maddie started school this year, she was excited. So very excited. In fact, she's still excited. The girl just loves kindergarten, often getting a bit pouty on Friday afternoons when she realizes it will be a couple more days before she can go back and see her friends.
I'm choosing to believe its because she loves learning (which she does) and has enjoyed making new friends (which she has done). I don't think there's any kind of bonding issues going on here. She comes home so excited to share her day with us...to show us her papers and to relate her experiences. It's so fun to watch. We've encouraged her love of school and have been so proud of the progress she's made.
Her teacher told us that in the testing, she's doing pretty well. She's hanging tough with the other kids on the materials she's learned so far. She can recognize her letters and is making good progress on understanding the sounds. Truly, the only cognitive delay seems to be in language...which makes sense, on so many levels. (Actually there is one other concern, but I'll save that for the IEP meeting post - which is also way too late in coming. UGH! )
But then two weeks ago it all started to unravel.
We've known she's been having trouble transitioning from one event at school to another. It's just too much for her little system to take. She's finally doing much better with changes that take place within the classroom...its any time they leave the room that her little life goes into a tailspin.
And she has an incredibly hard time recovering.
Most of the time she reacts by being silly. At first it was just yelling and running in the hallways...occasionally it would get a touch more serious than that. Messing with other kids' artwork on the walls or opening a door and popping into another class to say hi, but overall she was manageable. The teachers implemented a behavior management strategy - which we learned about at her IEP meeting, which I am in the middle of writing the blog about - and felt like they had things under control.
Until that Friday.
Two Fridays ago started out fine. I dropped her off at school with the big kids, just like always. She skipped into the building, all smiles...just like always. And the teacher said she had a pretty good morning...just like always.
But when it came time for lunch, it all went down the proverbial toilet.
Lunchtime has been a problem for awhile.
The room is noisy. There is a lot of conversation, a lot of excitement and not enough supervision.
It's a nuthouse...to put it mildly.
You can imagine what it does to a post-institutionalized kid.
Add to that the serious amount of noise coming at her, magnified by her hearing aids and the fact that she still has trouble distinguishing sounds and tuning things in and out...and well, you can imagine. (Which reminds me...I need to tell the teachers about her inability to tune in and tune out. UGH! I don't think I'll ever be able to keep this stuff all straight!)
The teachers had managed to use the behavior modification plan in the lunchroom with limited success...but this particular day nothing worked.
It started out with Maddie standing up on the bench instead of sitting down to eat. When the lunchroom monitor told her to sit down, she sat. For a second. Then she stood up again. The teacher told her to sit down again...and she did. For a second.
Finally the teacher walked over to her and firmly told her to sit down, to which Maddie replied 'no'.
At that point, Maddie told the teacher that she needed to go to the bathroom. The teacher told her no because she had the opportunity to go before lunch (this has been a daily problem - she doesn't go before lunch and then demands that she be allowed to leave to go potty - I think its because she likes the freedom of going to the bathroom by herself.)
The teacher then made the mistake of turning and walking away.
Maddie stood up and walked out of the lunchroom.
A hallway monitor caught her just outside the door.
Then, later in P.E., Maddie (for some unknown reason) decided to bite a girl.
That's when the superintendent was called.
They tried calling me, but I had just the afternoon before, changed cell phone plans and hadn't given them the new number yet - although they did have my work number and didn't even try to call that one.
The Superintendent decided to keep her in her office for the next hour or so, in which she worked with Maddie on her letters and numbers and talked with her about making good decisions.
This is where you can start coloring me increasingly frustrated.
While Maddie understands a good amount of English - using words like good choices and bad choices are completely lost on her. Completely.
Anyway...finally the Super decided Maddie was starting to miss her classroom and that it was time to take her back. She returned Maddie to the classroom which was in the middle of reading time. Maddie walked right in, sauntered up to another kid, shoved him out of the way and sat down.
Sigh. Sigh.
I had a conversation with the Super that night on the phone. As she repeated the day to me it was all I could do not to cry. Seriously.
And then she said these words...
"And what concerns me the most is that Maddie doesn't seem to care. She shows absolutely no emotion whatsoever. No compassion. No empathy. No regret. No nothing."
I tried explaining her background - for the thousandth time, but you know...I'm getting tired of it. I'm tired of explaining how she spent the first four years o her life in an orphanage...
How the orphanage was survival of the fittest...
How she had to fight in order to get what she needed/wanted...
How discipline is either non-existent or severe.
How we're working with her..trying to retrain her..but it takes time.
And I keep telling them its not an excuse, its an explanation....
But I'm sick of it. Really, really, sick of it.
That was a Friday.
Maddie had a miserable weekend...and not by her choosing. She went to bed Friday night at 5 p.m...as soon as she got up on Saturday she became my shadow and spent her entire day that way...she went to bed early again Saturday night and we continued talking about being nice to people and doing what your teachers' tell you do do - all weekend.
We made sure she realized we were NOT happy with how she was acting. It was COMPLETELY unacceptable and she would change her ways on Monday or she would be getting in more trouble. However, if she had a good report on Monday she could earn the privilege of working on the computer - which she loves.
We thought we had gotten through to her.
Monday wasn't good...much of the same behavior - except, thankfully, no biting. More sneaking out of the lunchroom and ignoring the lunchroom monitor.
Shad had Tuesday off and so I told the teacher to give him a call if there were more lunchtime antics. He would come over and take care of it right away.
Tuesday's lunch was fine...and she had a great day...until the last 20 minutes of the day - when she leaned over, during circle time, and bit a girl on the finger.
She says it was because the girl stole her ring.
So Shad had to go in and get her from school and bring her home.
It wasn't pretty.
Maddie cried. Hard. Much to the delight of the Super who must have thought we had adopted a monster.
Shad took the blubbering Maddie, brought her home and sent her to her room until he could get his thoughts together.
That night we came up with a plan.
We decided that we would take turns being on-call to come on a moments notice to deal with Maddie's behavior issues. If the school called, we would come and deal with her before going back to work. We also came up with a simple reward/consequences behavior plan. If she obeyed and got a good report from school, she could earn a coloring book at the end of the week - she LOVES to color.
If she was not able to make it through the week then she would have consequences.
We explained it all to Maddie - in simple words of course.
Darn it if that girl didn't have a great rest of the week.
The little stinker knows exactly what she's doing.
How do you handle a child that knows exactly what she's doing and is testing to see how much she can get away with?
At home, she's pretty well behaved...because she KNOWS she's not going to get away with it. But at school she's got a 50/50 shot. She behaves just fine for her homeroom teacher, but gives just about everyone else she comes into contact with a hard time.
Maddie's teacher is concerned that she may have too many people associated with her IEP. She thinks all the changes that she goes through everyday is just feeding into this chaos. Not that she doesn't think she needs the help - she obviously does. She's just trying to help us figure out how to help her the best.
I'm so confused. So frustrated. So worn out.
I have no idea how to help Maddie. Non at all.
I knew parenting an older post-institutionalized child would be difficult. And I knew parenting a child with a disability - no matter how minor - would be difficult.
I really did KNOW this.
But knowing and doing really ARE two different things.


do they get cable in heaven?

Tonight's prayer-time with Nick went something like this...

Dear Jesus...
Thank you for the great day today. Thank you for Mommy and Daddy. Thank you that I got to play outside today. Please help Mommy to sleep well. Please give me sweet dreams...
And PLEASE help the Broncos to win.


finally...some comic relief

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Things have been so rough with Maddie the last couple of weeks, I think I had forgotten how to smile...or laugh...until this morning.
I found a stack of papers Alek left on the dryer. I imagine he wasn't too keen on me finding them. He tucks them away like that when there's a bad grade in the stack.
Hidden in plain sight.
For the most part this kid is an awesome student. Bringing home A's and B's daily...but every once in awhile one sneaks past him.
In that stack I found one such paper....an F.
I was all prepared to talk to him about it this evening...until I saw the note written at the bottom of the page...

If you are looking at this I tried my best! The second paper I did good at. I really tried. I just put the decimal in the wrong spot and did not know the first time.

It made me smile...actually, it made me giggle and snort and laugh out loud.
My son knows me too well! :)



Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I need someone to remind me...
Things will get better...
She eventually will get it...
Someday I won't have to deal with this anymore.
Someone remind me.
I really don't have time to hash it all out right now, but let's just say Maddie is trying us.
Big time.
And I'm tired.


tales from the sick ward

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Maddie believes in grabbing life with both hands, wrapping her arms around it and loving it to death.

Poor Maddie.
She's still sick.
Really sick.
Maddie is pretty pitiful when she's ill. I imagine its the drastic change in her personality that makes it so hard to watch. She is usually so vibrant and full of life...actually full of life is an understatement. Maddie believes in grabbing life with both hands, wrapping her arms around it and loving it to death.
Tonight she was reduced to laying on the couch with her favorite blanket, shivering with a significant fever and coughing her little head off.
I feel so bad for her.
We've drugged her up as much as we dare. The temp is under control...but the cough is still there and her eyes are red-rimmed and teary.
I imagine I'll be taking tomorrow off.
Maybe I can get a little blogging in during her nap. ;)


reasons 2272 and 2273 why I married the right guy

Monday, October 5, 2009

I did indeed have foresight, wisdom...nay, downright brilliance when I agreed to marry this guy.

oor Shad.
Not only does he have to put up with me - for which he probably deserves some sort of a medal - he often gets overlooked in my blogging. I tend to forget to include the blog-worthy material he provides me with every day.
Oh, the stories I could write.
In all honestly, he probably likes the anonymity.
But not today. Today I am declaring 'the day of Shad' because yesterday he proved to me yet again, why I did indeed have foresight, wisdom...nay, downright brilliance when I agreed to marry this guy.
These are just the latest in a long line of affirmations that I grabbed one of the last real good guys on the planet.

Reason number 2272...
While we lived in Grab-Your-Lasso, we developed a bit of a Sunday morning tradition. We would have a special breakfast on the Lord's day. While the rest of us got some much needed beauty sleep, Shad would run out to grab some donuts, Mikky D's or some other such treat and bring it back for us all to munch on. Lovely stuff...especially on a Sunday morning. To me, nothing tastes better than a sausage, egg and cheese bagel on Sunday morning. Mmmm-mmmm.
Since returning to the Emerald City we haven't had that opportunity. ts surprising, I know, but there aren't very many good breakfast opportunities around here.
Not for miles and miles.
So we were back to cold cereal and bagels thrown in the toaster...until Shad stepped up. He decided we needed to start a new tradition.
So about once-a-month, we head to the big city across the river to Panera for an after-church brunch.
Again. Lovely stuff.
Yesterday, on our monthly installment of Panera Brunch, we knocked off a Baker's Dozen pack of bagels. The kids were unusually munchy...and only two remained. No less than three of the kids asked for one of those final two bagels...(after having finished off two bagels a piece, plus juice, plus a bit of breakfast before church.)
Shad wouldn't have it. He fought off the assault, saying the bagels were for me to have for breakfast this morning. So here I am, typing this post, with a lovely Cinnamon Crunch bagel with hazelnut cream cheese.
See? Marrying him, indeed, was a wise decision.
And then there was last night.
Maddie has been fighting a bit of a cold. At least we thought it was a bit until last night. She started coughing around 1 a.m. and seriously sounded like a seal.
I considered taking her to Urgent Care, but instead Shad got up, went down to our storm cellar of a basement, dug around in boxes for 20 minutes (because of course they haven't been unpacked), searching for the vaporizer.
Then he came back upstairs with a couple of different options, washed them all out, put water in them and tested each one to see which one worked the best, brought it back upstairs, plugged it in, made sure it was near Maddie for best benefit before coming back to bed.
All while I slept..because Maddie, of course, had settled back down.
My herooooooo.


writer's block 2009...and the fate of the mom-mobile

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I kindly reminded him that no woman likes to be referred to as 'Big' and if he wants her to treat him well, he needed to show some respect.

I am having some SERIOUS writing block here, ladies. Serious.

I can't think of a single thing that sounds half-way interesting to write about. Nothing is going on around here...at least nothing blog-worthy. And every time I so come up with something half-way cute that happens with the kids, I forget to jot it down.
Add to that the fact that I use all my good words up at work and you can see my problem.
If I have IEP meetings for the kids, I figure they'll just bore you.
The kids are way over-involved in sports this fall...and I'm sure you're tired of the highlight reels.
Work...well, yea. What can I say?
And seriously, there's nothing else going on.
I do have one little piece of news...but I think its a bit anti-climatic. I'm sure you're all so starved for news from the Sunflower State that I doubt this little nugget will satisfy. (I know...drama, much?! :)
The mom-mobile is gone. She had served us well, but we had abused her well, as well. Actually, I didn't abuse her...the kids did. Kids are hard on mom-mobiles.
I am proud to introduce you to...'Blue Mama.'
Actually...Shad refuses to call her Blue Mama. He's named her 'Big Blue'.
I kindly reminded him that no woman likes to be referred to as 'Big' and if he wants her to treat him well, he needed to show some respect.
He laughed.
He can't say I didn't warn him.
I have a real picture of Blue Mama on my work computer - because, that is after all, my home-away-from-home. A friend took a picture of me with her, but I keep forgetting to post it.
Its a recurring theme, isn't it....forgetting. I'm doing a lot of it lately. But worry not. I haven't forgotten about you.
I just keep forgetting to write.


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