Thursday, January 31, 2008

Ignoring . . .

I refuse to engage my children in their battles. I will not get sucked into your bouts for attention. Here are some examples. . .

Last night Harrison and I had to go visit our pediatrician for a medication review. He was pleased with the progress we have seen due to the SDHD medication we put him on a month ago. In fact, he was thrilled that such a low dose was being effective and thrilled that our first shot at a med worked. I was as well. I know, better than most doctors, that medication is a tricky thing in all my experiences with Dustin.

I had some libraries materials we had to return and wanted to have Angie order some books for us so we visited Lakeside Learning Garden. Yes, I could order the books myself, but I hate to pay online and decided that I would support a locally owned, small business instead of visiting Border's or Barnes and Noble. So, we went into Angie's store and Harrison began playing with the Lego's. I got him out of the store with merely a grumble and headed over the library. He began to whine that he wanted to play on the computer. I said "Harrison, honey, I am only dropping these off and we have 3 computers at home for you to play on." "But, mommy, I want to visit" "Harrison, our computers go to the same place." The hopping and the grumbling began. I steered him out of the library, across the parking lot, back over the Angie's parking lot with silence. Problem is, my silence was met with lots of grumbling, "pleeeeease!", and "why nots". Just then Angie and her kids were leaving and he took the opportunity to throw a major hissy fit. This time he began hollering that "I don't like you" and he actually tried to run from me. I snatched his coat hood and steered him back into the van door without a word. I smiled to Angie and she gave me that mother knowing look.

I think years ago I would've tried explaining, and cajolling and saying things like, "Oh, Harrison, that hurts my heart, I know you love me you're just angry right now." Not now. I know he is mad, why inflame the situation or give any kind of attention when he is throwing his fit? Later I did address it when it was time for bed. I asked him if that's how 5 year olds should act, and asked him if he loved me and told him it's okay to say, "I'm angry at you", but we shouldn't say hateful things just because we are mad. I got a far better response then than I would have if I had tried that conversation when he was fired up. Anyone watch the Dog Whisperer? It's like Caesar says, don't give love and attention when they are in an excited state. It does nothing but reinforces the negative behavior. I'll say it, disciplining kids IS like appropriately training dogs.

Another example. When Dustin is sent to his room he likes to slam the door, bang on the walls and throw things down the stairs. I used to get all angry about this. I would address it right then and it always made the situation worse. I would always start with "How old are you?" and end with "No more!" Even if I was calm, it did nothing but made the situation worse. Now, I ignore. Let him cool down and THEN deal with it. When his time out is over and I call him down it usually goes something like this:

Me: Dustin!
Him: Can I come down now?
Me: Yep, but you have to clean up your mess.
Him: I can't clean all that up.
Me: Who threw it down the steps?
Him: Me.
Me: How old are you?
Him: 12
Me: Well, maybe a 12 year old will learn that if he doesn't like picking it up he shouldn't throw it down in the first place.
Him: Will you help?
Me: Nope, I didn't throw it down.
Him: Man, this sucks.
Me: Yep, maybe you'll think about this next time. You're doing a good job though.
Him: Thanks, can I have a snack.

Can I have a snack? He is ALWAYS hungry. It drives me NUTS! This is something else I ignore. I used to say, "You just ate. You can't possibly be hungry" and "Dustin, you need to wait 30 minutes." etc, etc, etc. But now I just lower my head, put on a really irritated look, and give him the "eye". He sighs, and says, "Sorry, I just ate."

So my motto is . . . Ignore! Don't engage! I have learned that the harping I used to do did nothing but irritate me! I try my best to deal with it later so they can learn from it in an appropriate setting that will make a difference.

I can also ignore loud noises really well. I can tune out just about anything. The only problem is I tend to ignore my husband as well . . . LOL. I always tell him it is a occupational hazard!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

An Old Friend . . .

I visited yesterday and got frustrated because you have to pay to get any information. One girl I wanted to find wasn't listed. I began trying to search for her online and found an obituary from her granddad. From this I found out her last name. I did find her brother and sister-in-law's email and I got one from her today! I am so thrilled!

We were pretty darn close in middle school and high school. I found picture of us at graduation. Man, I can't believe I was ever that young. I can't wait to talk to her about the last 20 years. . .

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Myrtle Young . . .

Years ago when I used to take the daycare kids to Seyfert's Potato Chip factory we would get a tour from Myrtle Young. Her job was to sit at the end of the production line at Seyfert's and pick out the chips that had too much starch and had burn marks. She found chips that looked like other things and collected them. Later they installed infrared cameras that sucked out the bad chips, and Myrtle ended up working elsewhere in the factory.

My favorite thing was getting to see the semi-trucks that delivered the potatoes being lifted into the air so that the potatos would dump out. Often, you could drive by the factory early in the morning and see the front end of a semi sticking way into the air above the factory. On the tour, Myrtle used to tell the story about a driver who was waiting to get his truck dumped and fell asleep in the cab. They guys lifted the truck with him inside, thinking they would be funny and got in big trouble. The Seyfert's factory has since been leveled.

This morning I drove by the Mike Sells Potato Chip plant and saw a truck in the air! I was thrilled. It brought back so many memories. I also realized that they no longer lift the cab with the truck. I noticed it was just the trailer in the air.

Here is the infamous clip of Myrtle on Carson . . .

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Things you find out on Saturday . . .

Today I found out a few things. . .

1. I found out that Dustin CAN get a good haircut at Great Clips by a woman named Svetlana. She jerked his poor head around like a ragdoll, but man, he looks adorable.

2. I found out a car and an oven can catch on fire in one week. Tonight I put 2 frozen pizzas in the oven and went into the laundry room to fold clothes. Dustin comes into the kitchen and hollers, "The oven is on fire!" Nice. I had a piece of foil in the bottom of the oven which apparently collected some grease and caught fire. The inside of the oven was engulfed in flames.

Robert came in and rescued me, without even having to use the fire extinguisher. I walked into the computer room to turn on the ceiling fan to rid the area of smoke and Dustin had both kids on the floor rolling around. I asked what they were doing and Harrison says, "Dustin told us to stop, drop and roll." So I say, "No honey, that's for when you are on fire."

The pizzas survived the fire and came out quite good.

3. I found out that if you have 2 pets rats and one dies, the other dear, sweet pet will EAT it's former friend. Eeeeeeww! I may find it hard to cuddle her after I found out that she had reduced her friend to a simple carcass.

4. I found out that while I can clean up puke, poop and all matter of bodily fluids as a mother and child-care worker for years, I cannot bring my self to look at OR clean up rat carcass.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Looking up . . .

Thank you Lord! My car is covered under warranty. Oh Joy!

Turns out my starter remained engaged and caught fire. They are ordering the part and it will be done in a couple days. My fabulous step-father is allowing me to use one of our old crappy church-vans in the mean time!

God is good.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Monday mish-mash . . . and pyschotropic drugs . . .

This weekend sucked. Dustin was horribly dysregulated. I say that, but then immediately I flash back to what that meant in the past. I didn't have to restrain him and he did have moments where he could function with the other kids. I suppose it wasn't that bad, but I suppose it's all relative anyway huh?

Our computer died. We purchased a new desktop in December. Robert and I were watching something on DVR and he walked back over to the computer and it was asking for a boot disk. He spoke to Support and of-course they were NO HELP AT ALL. I called Best Buy and he took it to the nerd-herd (man I miss "Chuck") and they said the hard drive was totally "gone". Thankfully it qualified for exchange since it was bought during the Christmas Season and returns and exchanges are lengthened to January 31st. He came home with a brand-spankin' new computer that is faster, has more memory and a $25 credit. Gotta like that.

Perusing some blogs over the weekend, I found some people critical of giving children psychotropic drugs for children "ailments" as they call them. You know what I have to say about that? Pitooey! I will acquiesce that in the past, physicians were far too quick to label a child and medicated them, and may still be. However, in my personal experience that is not the case. I think it is the family's right to medicate their child, but also their RESPONSIBILITY to educate themselves about the medication, the risks, to side effects and the half-life of these medications.

Whenever Dustin is placed on a new medication I ask these questions:

1. What is it used for?
2. What positive results should I be looking for?
3. What negative results should I be looking for?
4. How long before I should see a change? When should I call you if I don't see a change?
5. How long does it take for the medication to get out of his system?

The last 2 I find particularly important since I need to know if a medication should begin working right away, or if it will take 3 weeks before I see the wanted results. That way, I can see if this medication will be effective or a dud. For instance, medications like Adderall are "in and out" in one day, where Zoloft may take 3-4 weeks before you see if it is effective. I also like the last question, so that I know if the medication has a half-life in his body. That one is particularly important for me since he typically has EPS reactions to medications. I need to know how long after he stops taking it will it still be affecting him.

I have no problems with medicating Dustin. He would be a danger to himself or others in our family if he was not medicated. You may say, "Well, Sheri, that's an easy decision." But, I also do not have issues medicating a child who is typical in most areas but has a problem focusing. My 5 year old, Harrison, is brilliant. This child was talking in full sentences at one year old, and reading words at three. He was reading for comprehension and enjoyment by four. Last night I found him in my bed, propped up on a pillow reading a comic book before bed. He is a kindergartner. He has really been struggling with keeping his body still at school. He doesn't look at you when you are talking, yet he can tell you everything you said. He is full of energy and is ALWAYS moving. I chalked most of it up to immaturity, because he is young for his grade and he has always been a little extra emotional. The last time he was at the doctor for an illness he was bouncing of the walls. The doctor said, "Boy, is he always like this? When you're ready to talk about that, let me know." We became ready after the holidays. School began being an issue and he was really struggling with self-esteem since he is always being reprimanded at school. He began to dislike school, and saying things like, "I hate this family." He even talked about being a bad kid. I noticed his relationships at daycare were changing and children were choosing not to play with him. He wasn't mean, he was just always moving!

He has been on medication for 3 weeks. He is happy and much calmer. He has been having success at school. Last week he came home and said, "Mommy, I kept my body in control." He was so happy. If medication can do that for my boy, I am all for it.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Parenting hard kids is hard . . . part 2 . . .

I wrote last summer about how parenting kids with disabilities is difficult on the entire family. My kids are better for it in some ways, and probably worse off in some ways due to the parenting it takes to make Dustin a part of our family. The huge amount of "gumption" it takes to be "on" at times regarding Dustin and his behaviors, his triggers, his rages, his possible reactions is tiresome. It is not possible to simply come home and "check out" for the evening, as some parents can, leaving perfectly "normal" children to fend for themselves. "Mommy is tired, can you just go play please?" doesn't work EVER! Let me give you a snapshot of my night . . .

Last night, Robert had an appointment to film a piece for the local public television about PEACE. Meaning, I had all three kids to myself. It is not my forte. This may sound horrible to most moms, especially ones who deal with far more children than I, but Dustin really knows how to push my buttons. He rarely acts the way he does for me with Robert. Claudia talks alot about how hard it is for her not to play the "push-pull" game when her girls push her buttons. I can so relate even though I am getting better.

Last night Dustin had a major melt-down turned rage about dinner. We used to struggle with major food issues. He would hoard, binge, and even refuse food regularly. Most of that has subsided, and we only deal with it occasionally. Last night was that occasion. Of course. He refused to eat dinner. I never make an issue out of food. If you don't want to eat what we eat, fine, the rule is you have a peanut butter sandwich. of course, he didn't want that either. Usually this is a perfectly acceptable option for him. And by the way, he LOVES the meal we had last night. He was simply being difficult.

He asked if he could go get some air. I told him he could, but he had to stay on the porch. This was the compromise we came to after he ran away the last night. If he needs "air" he can ask, but he has to stay on the porch. he went out, milled around and came back in about 4 minutes later. I said, "Nice job calming down." and he stomped his foot and went back out slamming the door behind him. This continued about 8 or 10 more times. I was proud of my lack of attack and handling the situation calmly and ignoring him. Finally I had had enough of the door opening and closing and the "Hhhrmph" theatrics, and told him he was to stay in the house. Then the running through the house ensued and the stomping, slamming and hollering. Hollering things like, "You want me to starrrrrrrrrve!!!!!" "You never feed meeeeee!" "I'm calling the poooooliiiice!". Nice.

The dog was stepped on, a bowl was broken, the kids were shell-shocked, stuff was spilled, towels were thrown. I was calm. I waited until he was done and asked him if he was ready for dinner. He said "yes." I shut the kitchen door, made him a small plate and started to clean up the kitchen. He grumped, he breathed heavily, he picked. He walked over and opened the door. I said, "Dustin the dog needs to stay out of the kitchen." He ran to the bathroom and barricaded himself in. I went over and removed him. He said, "I'm hungry!" and went over to his plate. The dog had indeed come through the kitchen door he opened and ate his food. The LAST of the food. Nice. Can you say. . . natural consequences?

Another rage ensued but now directed at the dog. Finally as soon as it began, he calmed, looked at me and said, "Can I play gameboy?" Oh Lord, thank you! About an hour later he ate 2 peanut butter sandwiches and said, "Mom! Those were the best sandwiches ever!" Oh brother!

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Nostalgia . . .

Okay that last post got to me. It made me start thinking about my babies . . . check out these wee-little ones from long ago . . .

Posting frenzy . . .

I thought I would share a picture with you from 2004. Robert and I went to see John Edwards speak in Lima, Ohio in October. We took McCartney while Harrison and Dustin stayed with Nannie.

Isn't she the cutest little decmocrat ever?

And check out that stylish sling. . . Thanks Cindy! Look how snuggly and happy she is! If you know anyone having a baby . . . you MUST have them buy a sling. And Cindy's are the best!

Transitions . . .

The day mother's of special needs kids dread. . . back to school after a break. A change in routine for most kids can be difficult. Going back to a normal sleep schedule, a normal play schedule and just making sure you get to the bus stop on time can be difficult on the first day back to school after Christmas Break. For kids that have special needs, a transition back to a "normal" routine can be quite traumatic. Kari dreaded the day, Cindy had issues getting her kid's heads off the pillows, Jo's son had issues in the after-school program, and even Marla and Maizie struggled with returning to their homeschooling routine. Yes, even I stressed out as my kid's returned to their normal grind.

It is on days like this when I have to remind myself that I cannot control my kid's behavior. I have to give them the foundation of a happy morning, a full belly and a loving hug as they run out the door, but ultimately it is their responsibility to act appropriately. But what about the kids whose brains have been affected by pre-natal alcohol exposure, or who have autism spectrum disorder, or who are just plain on their own schedule. They usually need someone, an external brain, to control their behaviors. That is not something one commonly finds in a "general education" classroom, or even a special education placement. My family is lucky enough to have Dustin with a 1:1 aide that is basically his external brain while at school, but that is not always the case. And even that can fall short when it comes to a child pushed beyond his or her limit for the day or their ability handle their impulses.

I have to ask myself what kind of pressure are we putting on our children to perform at a particular level that stresses them out so much. When I orientate a new employee into the child care world, I stress meeting each and every child at their level. We have a long talk about how each child had different abilities and temperaments and needs. We are expected to meet each child on their need as much as is possible. It can be as simple as helping children prepare for the next transition. We talk about those kids who need a 5 minute warning before clean up time. My youngest son will freak out if you all of the sudden say, "okay, time to clean up". He needs fair warning that his play is about to end. He needs time to "wrap-up" his play and be done. He needs to be prepared. Other children couldn't care less, you have to KNOW your students.

This cannot always happen in the "real world" of public schools. The classes are bursting at the seams with children. The day is so packed with the scope and sequence of what the Department of Education says must be accomplished in that school year, that there is little time for much else. In most classrooms, children are not given the opportunity to explore a topic and learn at their own pace. This is not always the fault of the teacher. People like Marla and Angie and Cindy are angels for homeschooling their kids. Years ago, I had images of home schooled families as outsiders, families whose children were not socialized and maladjusted to living in the real world. I have found there are so many families doing the right thing by their children. I envy that. I don't think I would be capable of that. I have a degree in elementary Education, but have chosen not to teach in the "real" school system because I became disheartened by the constraints placed upon teachers.

All in all, my kids had a great day yesterday. I worried for nothing. We shall see what today brings . . .

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

2007 in review . . .

Well, I wasn't gonna do it, but I guess I will.

January . . . brought with it some changes on the home front. Dustin had a rough time of the few months prior and we started a new and scary medication. "The mother of all anti-psychotics" the psychiatrist called it. It has been a lot of work, but well worth the troubles. It really has been a god-send. Our renters of 3 years moved out. Robert made yet another trip to D.C. for a peace rally. The church that houses the daycare I work at, purchased a new "home" and thus began the most thrilling, scary and eventful 8 months of my life. I am not a fan of change, and this year rocked my world in more ways than one.

Febraury . . . The Colts win the Superbowl. Before the game, our back bathroom pipes froze, I broke a toilet seat, and our front door jam broke and the door was completely un-usable. During the game we had a huge pipe break in the basement, but the Colts won and all is right with the world! We had a nice new family move into our duplex, and did a bunch of improvements next door. Dustin turned 12 and Robert celebrated his birthday as well. Harrison got his tonsils removed and he can finally sleep well and actually swallow food. Amazing. Dustin's behavior at school was absolutely out of control. We began sitting in class with him and he could do it. But, as soon as we left he began acting up and actually attacking staff. We knew all would come to a head soon.

March . . . We modified Dustin's school day to 2 hours daily to try to get some success for him. I bucked the idea and then listened to the success stories. Looking back, it was the best thing I ever did. It has allowed Dustin to make more progress in 9 short months than all the time we have had him combined. He also received his very own 1:1 aide. We also flew to Florida for a vacation with my mom. We had a fabulous time, and the kids enjoyed every minute!

April . . . seemed to fly by as we struggled to change our routines to come to grips with Dustin's new schedule. We had our yearly celebration at daycare and all went well.

May . . . Harrison turned 5. McCartney had her tonsils removed. We now have 3 kids and one set of tonsils. McCartney lost more than her tonsils . . . she hacked off the entire left side of her hair. Blessing in disguise . . . she hated ponytails and didn't like barrettes, now she doesn't need them. The mayor's race got interesting around here, and we worked for Tom as much as our schedule would allow.

June . . . The crazy summer at work began. The weather was beautiful and we spent long days outside with the kids. I got bronzed and tired. At home we stayed outside far into the evening playing with the neighbors.

July . . . Mommy had yet another birthday. I think we spent more time outside this summer than ever before. My kids would rather play outside than just about anything else. Work got crazy as we got closer to moving the facility. I worked in excess of 60 hours some weeks.

August . . . the moving day came. A giant paycheck with tons of overtime came as well. Robert and I celebrated 10 years. Well, I worked and he watched the kids. The move took a ton of time this summer. My baby boy went to kindergarten, and I put him on a "big bus". Dustin continues a modified day at school and is doing fabulous.

September . . . McCartney Raye turned 4 and moved to Pre-K. Football season returned and I could once again see my Colts in action. Robert made another trip to D.C. for a rally and spent a longer time there this time with a police officer friend from Chicago. He enjoyed his time tremendously.

October . . . I reconnected with an old friend in the "blogworld" Angie, and have been frequenting her site since. We installed a huge new playground at the church and worked our tails off to do so. Dustin "ran away" for the first time and scared the pants off Robert. The mayoral election continued with much ado. Tom stayed true-to-form and was kind and complimentary to his opponent through it all. Halloween came and went, an angel and Clark Kent attended the festivities.

November . . . We got to see Evan Bayh support our own Tom Henry. I was accosted by Kelty supporters, and Mayor Tom was elected. Our roof had to be replaced . . . ugh. My kids had their first trip to the Roller Dome and they fell down more than they stayed up. They loved it, and I loved sharing an "old love", roller skating, with them. We made our yearly Thanksgiving trek to Kentucky and spent time with Granny Wanda and Aunt Teresa. McCartney started having symptoms of her Spina Biffida Occulta and we began testing.

December . . . tests for McCartney all came back negative. Great! The writer's strike significantly hampered my TV viewing habits (my world is rocked). My hair got funky as I visited my old stylist. And we celebrated a wonderful Christmas season with parities, food, family, neighbors and friends. We are truly blessed!

And to all my blog-friends, thanks for sharing my year with me!