Sunday, October 31, 2010

Fric and Frac

When I was young, my Mom used to call my brother and one of his friends Fric and Frac. They looked nothing alike, but where you found one, you found the other. For the most part, they were interchangeable- If one of them wasn't figuring out what trouble to get into, the other was. Not real trouble- just the usual shenanigans boys got into 40 years ago.

I find myself sometimes thinking of Hope and GB as Fric and Frac. They like many of the same things, and the best (worse?) consequence I can give them is to insist they play in separate rooms. They complain about each other using the same words, which is partially caused by Hope's tendency to mimic GB constantly, but also comes from their common lack of social skills. The constant "She's looking at me" gets old, but not as aggravating as the realization that I let them out of my sight and there is nothing but silence. They know they are not allowed out of sight and that it won't last long, so they take advantage of it whenever I let it happen. Once it was talcum powder all over MK's bathroom, another time it was Fric, Frac and Ellie eating baking chips behind the couch. They have painted the radiators with nail polish and "baked" with a combination of moon sand and brownie mix.

It is never more than a couple of minutes and it doesn't happen as often as it did in the beginning (it takes forever to clean up talcum powder, especially with their help) but during those times, I think the best bonding occurs between them... Fric and Frac vs. the Mom.

Friday, October 29, 2010

The System Runs Amok

The system is running amok again and this time it is trying to run over a dedicated mother, Lisa, who most of you know. Please visit J.'s blog and leave some encouragement for Lisa. Keep her in prayer, especially over the next two weeks. With God, all is possible.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Ms. (very young) Teacher

Today Hope officially turned 5. Of course she wanted to bring cupcakes (pink, purple, light blue Han*na Mon*tana cupcakes) into school this morning. It is also the day they have Halloween Parties and a costume parade. Rather then put them on the bus, I choose to drive them to school. I made sure to arrive before the other children entered the building so that I would have a couple of minutes to touch base with her teacher, Ms. VY Teacher. Ms VY Teacher really didn't want to talk to me and made that very clear. The three teaching assistants in the room couldn't wait to tell me how wonderful Hope is and that they could just eat her up. I told them it is very important that proper boundaries were used with Hope. They assured me nobody minds cuddling Hope, she is just a baby. Sigh. I gave them (and Ms. VY Teacher) my RAD handout again, and went to find the Chairperson of the CSE. We were suppose to complete Hope's IEP my the middle of October and I haven't heard from her. Emails go unanswered, phone calls are not returned. Mrs. Chairperson was hanging out in a meeting room and I politely suggested we go back to her office and discus the difficulties we were having with our communication. I reminded her we were suppose to meet in the middle of October to complete Hope's IEP. Mrs. Chairperson said that had been impossible, since none of the evals (speech, OT, and PT) were completed yet. Sigh. I told her that was not acceptable, they needed to be done and I wanted Hope's meeting scheduled ASAP. We agreed on Monday, November 8th at 10:30. She assured me the evals would be in hand and ready to go for the meeting. I reminded her I needed copies of all evals AT LEAST 3 days before the meeting. Sigh. My school district uses IEP Direct to write their IEPs. It is a point and click program for writing IEPs that I have also used in the past. I told Mrs. Chairperson that the most important goal, right now, for Hope, was learning personal boundaries. Mrs. Chairperson said that wasn't a possible goal for Hope and I told her to look under the social/emotional category. I am afraid Hope's school year is going to involve a lot of personal attention from me. It is hard- she really is cute.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Mr. Teacher

Today was my first individual parent- teacher meeting for GB. Her teacher is actually someone who taught in the same district at the same time as I did and we had been in trainings together. He is a natural with special needs kids. I asked about academic levels. GB is working in a 2.2 reader (second half of second grade). She is not in a regular math curriculum- she is way ahead in some areas and totally lost in others, so Mr. Teacher is doing an individualized program with her, trying to build on strengths and fill in holes. OT and Speech are as a class, 2 days a week, and individual 1 day a week. GB is described as happy and thriving. After seven weeks of school, Mr. Teacher knows GB better than 1st grade's Mrs. Teacher knew GB at the end of last year. It is truly a blessing to have an appropriate educational setting for GB. Now it is time to work on getting one for Hope.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

An Understanding of Time

Hope may not recognize her numbers or alphabet, but I am sure her difficulties do not include FASD. I have been having difficulties with my hip, and the Dad took over Hope and her physical aggression for the last three days. He used the time out chair and our big red 5 minute timed (thanks, Sherri ). As Hope is tantruming, she pulls on him the same stuff she pulls on me - trying to bite, kicking , throwing things (including the chair), name calling, spitting, etc. He deals with them differently. He does keep her from hurting him, which is easier for him then me, but her time out is based on the number of times he turns over the timer. I don't know if it is an art or a formula I just don't grasp, but during Hope's tantrum, the Dad adds on *Timers* as in "Hope you are up to three timers". After the tantrum ends, Hope needs to sit in the time out chair for as many 5 minute timers as he has said. She has earned up to 30 minutes and has completed them. She knows that 6 timers is a lot longer then 2 timers! This is still a mystery to GB- she still hasn't grasped that a single Hanna Montana show, with commercials, is a half hour, last year, now, next week. GB only has *now*, which makes it very hard to prepare her for anything. Hope knows that today always turns into tomorrow and you can communicate a rough sense of how long she will have to wait by counting *sleeps*.  She can understand around two weeks, 14 sleeps.

Hope still takes constant supervision and hasn't gone a day without a major blow up, but I think her future will be easier than GB's. RAD kids are never easy, but with a RAD kid without other medical conditions, at least you know where the problem is coming from. Since my first RADish came (1986), there is so much more identification of children with RAD and so many more treatments available. I think Hope has a bright future ahead of her.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hope's Party

Today was the big day. Both girls did well. The Dad only had to remove Hope from the party once to talk her down. She truly enjoyed being the center of attention. GB and I spent the last day talking about the party and how it was Hope's party and every thing should revolve around Hope. GB had a great time and let Hope  be the center of attention. She didn't lose it until we were home and everybody was moving to fast for her. No rage, but uncontrollable crying. I hugged her and told her how proud I was of how she let Hope be the center of attention. 

GB is sporting a new haircut. She has been so fragile, the morning battles over hair were not worth fighting and she asked to get it cut. So I took her and she got what she wanted. She is worried about what her class will say on Monday. I told she was beautiful and if she liked her hair, that was what counted.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Different Perspective

Hope was on a birthday high. We went out to dinner with friends and their daughters. Hope held it together through dinner and then lost it. The different perspective came from being in a public place and getting to watch the Dad handle it. He tried to sit her next to him and she fought him off, followed by loud screaming. He took her out of the restaurant. Five minutes later, he texted me to bring their coats out. They were sitting on a bench in front of the restaurant, with Hope still screaming and trying to get away. The Dad knew Hope was not calming down and said he was taking her to the car. 15 minutes later, the Dad called to say Hope threw up all over herself and could I bring him something to clean her up. I brought paper towels out to the car (from now on I will leave a roll), and heard Hope still screaming when I was still some distance from the car. I went back inside, asked for the Dad's dessert to go, and urged everyone else to finish up. Just as everyone was finishing up, maybe 10 minutes later, Hope and her Dad came back in. The waitress quickly got ice cream and balloons for Hope and most people in the restaurant sang Happy Birthday to her. She looked dazed and stunned and we got out of there as quickly as we could. As I watched this meltdown from the perspective of a bystander, I noticed a couple of things:
  • Meltdowns don't seem nearly as long when you are not the one directly involved with them.
  • Once Hope has lost it, there is no pulling her back... you just have to ride it out.
  • It doesn't take much for defiant, manipulative behavior to turn into a full blown rage.
  • When it was over, the Dad was obviously tired. No wonder I am ready for bed as soon as Hope is asleep.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Getting Ready to Turn Five!

Hope tuns 5 years old 7days from today. Her party is on Saturday. She wanted a gymnastic one  like her friend Mya. We are letting her have a scaled down version: my 2, my girlfriends 2, a little girl in GB's class, a foster child who has been coming over to swim for years and we invited her 11 classmates. So far, 1 child from her class has accepted. Texas family sent blocks and want to talk to her on her birthday. We spoke to Hope's therapist, who suggested we allow Hope the package and tell her who it is from, but as Hope never asks about them, she is not ready for the intimate contact of a phone call. I imagine that will not go over well.

Hope actually sat in the white chair without needing any physical help to get there. I know it was only once, but if it happened once. it could happen again.

I gave GB her PRN last night and she slept 11 solid hours. She had a much better day. The shrink also upped the lithium by 150 mg  a day. I gave her the PRN again tonight, just to let her body catch up to her mania. We will try Friday without it, because she can sleep in Saturday.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Not Fun

After 5 days of GB taking 3+ hours to fall asleep and waking up multiple times during the night, I do not think this manic is going anywhere soon. I emailed the shrink (psychiatrist), reporting what was going on and saying we need a change in meds. I also have an appointment with a new shrink, about an hour away, this evening. The Dad and I are considering using her for both girls. She is associated with the therapist we are using for Hope. I think I want to get GB in with the therapist, also.

Hope is having mixed days with GB being manic. Currently, Hope mimics everything GB says and does. This makes Hope look, to the casual observer, manic. She also seems to resent any attention GB gets and works hard at being in the spot light.

The school wants to start mainstreaming her. They don't get RAD.  Time to reconvene the CSE. It gets so old after a while...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Time with Hope

Yesterday was one of those rare days, where for a couple of hours, it was just Hope and I. We played games, without having a winner, we built with the Duplos for an hour, and played mermaids with what we built. We had a snack together and read a book. Hope turned on the TV, but then wandered over for a cuddle. Hope was pleasant and fun to be around. No accidents-on-purpose, no ugly-stupid-mommy. No quivering lip, no new bruises(on me). Hope even got to pick dinner.  Sometimes things are just soooo good!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Week Seven

Hope wants a hug!

We have now had Hope for seven weeks.

  • She has an excellent therapist    :)
  • She is toilet trained  :)
  • Except when she doesn't  want to be  :(
  • ODD (Oppositional Defiant Disorder) is out in full force  :(
  • If I don't take it personally, it is actually funny to watch her step over the line one teeny, tiny step at a time, waiting for a reaction. It can take her five minutes to exit the living room  :)
  • Take downs are getting to be routine, everyday events  :(
  • The honeymoon at school is showing signs of ending  ?
  • Hope has the teacher falling for her manipulation, line, hook and sinker  :(
  • We have two new fixations in the house *people are always stupid* and *I don't care*itits  :(
  • Hope allows some physical contact  :)
  • The deliberately spilling drinks and throwing food on the floor has made it to the *time-to-deal-with-this* list   :)
  • Hope can count out three of anything  :)
Four months ago, we didn't know Hope existed... we didn't even know we were adding to our family.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How to Make Ice Cream Mice

GB brought a cookbook home from the school library and this is the recipe she chose to make:

YIELD Makes 6 servings

3 cups vanilla ice cream
1 package (4 ounces) single-serving graham cracker crusts
6  chocolate sandwich cookies, separated and cream filling removed
12 black jelly beans
6 red  jelly beans
36 chocolate sprinkles (approximately 1/4 teaspoon)
An Ice Cream Mouse

  1. Place 1 rounded scoop (about 1/2 cup) ice cream into each crust. Freeze 10 minutes.
  2. Press 1 cookie half into each side of ice cream scoops for ears. Decorate with black jelly beans for eyes, red jelly beans for noses and chocolate sprinkles for whiskers. Freeze 10 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Blog Fates

The blog fates got me. After posting this morning about good things happening, Hope got off the bus screeching full blast and kicking and throwing every thing in her path. She raged for over an hour. Both of my hands and my right elbow are swollen. GB helped herself to a snack and without prompting sat down to do HW. The HW was much more realistic than the previous night's, and GB was highly motivated because she wanted to make Ice Cream Mice for dessert tonight. Just as GB was finished with her snack, Hope had settled down enough that I thought we had a chance to get through our afternoon. GB asked for a cuddle and I cuddled her while checking her HW. This did not go over well with Hope and soon many things where flying through the air. Hope was so busy watching for my reaction that it took her completely by surprise when MK pinned her from behind. MK told her she could not throw things ever and since the baby was sleeping Hope had to tantrum quietly. Hope was furious, but MK is much stronger than I am and no matter how hard Hope tried, MK would not let her move at all. She was unable to hurt her. The tantrum was over in 10 minutes.

I gave Hope yogurt to hold her until dinner, then got her HW out. MK volunteered to supervise and I could let her- MK hasn't played head games in a while.

We got through dinner on the Dad's and MK's patience and finally it was time to make the Ice Cream Mice. They loved making them and loved eating them, so at least the night ended on a good note.

GB and her Ice Cream Mouse

Hope and her Ice Cream Mouse

Up and Down

GB didn't want to go to school today. She said her stomach hurt. I gave her some apple cider and tried to determine if she had a physical or an emotional stomach. I had already given Hope her breakfast, so GB was getting most, not all, of my attention. I saw Hope slide off her chair down to the floor. She immediately tried to bite GB's leg. I told her we don't bite and pointed to our time out chair. She said NO and tried to bite me. I picked her up and carried her to the overstuffed, brown chair I try to use for restraints and put her in a position where it would be difficult to hurt me. She screamed and screamed and screamed. She tried to claw and kick me, but she couldn't manage it.

After 10 minutes, she suddenly stop screaming and trying to hurt me. She laid still and quiet. I let go of her and waited until I was (pretty) sure it wasn't going to start again, I asked her if she wanted to cuddle. She shook her head yes and climbed into my lap and we cuddled. A couple of minutes later, GB came into the room dressed and said she felt better and was going to school. I still hadn't had my caffeine, so my brain wasn't functioning enough to try to process what was going on with them, but overall, I think good things are happening.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

She loves me, she loves me not...

GB loves being a big sister. She enjoys having someone to play with and she enjoys having someone that makes her look good. She does not enjoy physical aggression and she does not enjoy missing out on a fun activity because Hope is bouncing and I decide it is not safe to go out of the house with her.

Yesterday, Hope pushed GB against the wall and started pummeling her. An hour later, she bit GB on the leg. I showed GB how to put her arms out straight, with the palms of her hands perpendicular. We role played using that to enforce her personal space with Hope. It also gives GB a response before she gets bitten.

Hope spent yesterday right next to me. Every time she asked to do something, I said "I am sorry, but you can't because you were not safe with people today. You can try again tomorrow." Hope missed the walk MK took the baby and GB on. She missed watching the new video we bought. She was not allowed to go to gymnastics. Today was a school day and Hope was very happy to be getting out of the house. I know it will be a long struggle, but I am hoping we can make her world small enough that she can handle it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

God is Good

Today we met with a highly recommended therapist, about an hour away. We spent time with her and covered a wide range of topics.
The net is:
  • Hope has RAD.
  • She suspects Hope was sexually abused before she developed language. 
  • We are fighting an uphill battle.
  • It will be a long battle.
  • She reinforced that I was on the right track.
We are on a waiting list to meet with a new psychiatrist about both girls. She is an hour away, but that is much closer than the 2 1/2 hours it takes to get to Manhattan. At this point, all we have agreed to is talking to her.

We met the therapist at a good point for us. The Dad and MK were making me feel like the mean, wicked  stepmother. She validated that what Hope needed and what GB needed were different. The Dad is going to try to explain how the two girls needs are different, but I am skeptical- MK only sees black and white. So our Saturdays will be mostly taken up with seeing the AT. I am pleased to have found a therapist who got it- only 6 weeks since Hope has been home.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Little bit of progress...

Hope woke up like a grizzly bear this morning. Fortunately, it was a two parent morning. The Dad took care of Hope, GB took care of herself, and I got to shower and dress while giving out medication and checking teeth. I took both girls downstairs for breakfast. After breakfast, GB and I sat down to do her hair. I told Hope to put her sneakers on (gym day), Hope walked over and said "You stupid, Mommy" and hit me in the face. That could be considered progress, since she didn't bite me, but it was better than that. I said "Hope, we do not hit. Time out chair NOW". Hope said "NO". Instead of picking her up and carrying her to the time out chair, which is when I frequently get bit and she goes off, I said,"if you are not in the timeout chair by three, you will be in a cold shower". I got was far as two and she was in the chair. It is a first!

I am so thankful we meet the AT tomorrow :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Therapist

We have found a therapist experienced with attachment and adoption- and she is only an hours drive. We meet her Saturday afternoon. Please pray that this women will have the knowledge to help Hope.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

A Looong Morning

Hope started early today. Everybody was dressed and downstairs, Hope was done with breakfast, and I was finishing putting GB's breakfast on the table. When I walked past Hope, she grabbed my pinky and bent it straight back.  It is the first time she went after me for no apparent reason. I picked her up and put her in the timeout chair and she went into full rage mode. The last week the raging has been increasing and lasting longer. I guess the honeymoon is over. They are still honeymooning in school.

 I am getting different ideas for restraint, because I am tired of being black and blue and clawed. MK says if I treated Hope like I treat GB, the rages wouldn't happen. Of course, GB doesn't intentionally try to hurt me.

The girls new bed comes today. I am looking forward to more space to to organize their clothes in.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Toasted Again!

The girls got off the bus today, smiling because neither of them had homework. Hope's smile didn't last long. She came through the door and said"I got to peepee" and promptly wet her pants. I went up with her so she could get cleaned up and changed. It was raining all day, so I put on a movie and made them popcorn. I told them to sit down and gave each of them their own bowl.  Several minutes later, Hope dropped her bowl and had popcorn all around her. I told her to pick it up. She said NO! I said "Pick it up or you will be sitting in time out". She said NO! again. I picked her up and put in the time out chair. She fell to the floor and tried to bite me. I picked her up and said "We do not bite in this house". She promptly wet her pants and said "I hate you". I ignored that and put her back in the time out chair and she was gone. Spitting, screeching, scratching, and trying to bite. I carried her into the kitchen (away from the audience) and sat on the floor, restraining her just enough that she couldn't hurt me. When she calmed down and was laying quietly I asked her if she was in control again. She quietly, with no attitude, said yes. I let her go and she immediately clawed my right arm. I restrained her again and she raged for the next 45 minutes, until her Daddy came home. He talked her down and after she was laying quietly again, I gave her to him. At that point, not only was I sore and tired, but I was pissed angry. We had dinner and the Dad put her to bed. The Dad and I are going to talk about building a safe room like my friend Integrity Singer did. I am already tired of being beat up and the kid hasn't turned 5 yet.

Monday, October 4, 2010

6:10 and I am toast.

The girl got off the bus at 3:45. It is 6:10 and I am a sweaty, exhausted mess. Hope has just had the most miserable 2 hr stretch she has had since her arrival. She had a 2 hour rage, that varied slightly in its intensity but never stopped. She tried to bite me endlessly, succeeding once, scratched and kicked me, and tried to go after GB. 2 hours of physically restraining her has me sore, sweaty, bruised and tired. MK and Booboo ended up taking GB to gymnastics and Hope is now quietly coloring. Dinner and bed for both of us.

Friday, October 1, 2010

At the Five Week Mark...

  • The physical aggression is almost exclusively aimed at me.
  • The rages that used to be are now tantrums under her control.
  • Hope has the beginnings of abstract thought. If she had age appropriate language skills, she would test off the charts. She doesn't.
  • When I realized it has only been five weeks, I was amazed. It seemed as is it had been much, MUCH longer. She has made an amazing amount of progress in that short time.
  • I am getting unsolicited hugs, occasionally, in between the manipulating games.
  • She will read, build and play games with me.
  • Raising special needs kids is hard, adding a new one makes it harder, having MK in the house critiquing my parenting is the hardest of all. I have kept control of myself so far. I am praying regularly that I will be able to continue to let her roll off my back.
  • I do not know how to respond to the level of sexual acting out Hope is exhibiting.
  • The adoptive family from Texas wants to talk to her and send her birthday presents.