My Family

My Family
Here we all are!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Too Much of a Good Thing

When our Callie arrived 9 1/2 yrs. ago she had severe attachment issues.  One was that she hold up her hands to be picked up and within about 30 seconds was pushing away.  It was up then down up then down over and over again.  It was exhausting, but slowly and surely she spent more time being held and received touching in a soothing way rather than an uncomfortable feeling she resisted.

She never became much of a snuggler and the times she would actually sit in my lap or close by me were pretty rare.  This is why one of the behaviors we're currently dealing with is a bittersweet problem.  She is working on personal space.  She doesn't have great boundaries and her closeness and sometimes inappropriate touch makes many people uncomfortable.  Lack of boundaries is another consequence of attachment issues as are a lack of social skills.

Tolerating touch was something we worked long and hard on with Callie and now we find ourselves trying to teach her the difference between who she can touch, how she can touch and when she can touch.  Trying to explain to other typical kids in middle school, let alone adults,  she doesn't mean anything when she taps them on the chest besides - hey pay attention to me - is difficult.

As so often happens with Callie, it's a good "problem" to have.   It's a lot like when speech pathologists  exaggerate a sound knowing that once the person has it, they can back down on the exaggeration. Similarly we will continuing teaching Callie when and how to touch others.  It's a bit of the "too much of a good thing" problem, but considering the alternative that she might have never allowed touch and always been defensive towards any physical affection - I choose to deal with this.

Friday, February 8, 2013

When I'm Good and Ready

Callie seems to have overcome yet another obsession.  She had a rollercoaster book she's carried around for probably a good 6+ months.  We found a replacement online, but every time I thought I'd ordered it, I really hadn't.  I think it was God's way of pushing all of us to let it go.

Today, Callie came home and went straight to the trash compactor and put the ragged few last pages into the compactor.  She was good and ready.  I may hold my breathe when bedtime comes tonight and she doesn't have her beloved book to prop up as she has every night for the past umpteen nights, but I am pretty confident that she is ready.  She hasn't gone back to look for it yet.  I may get her a new Barbie doll just to distract her at bedtime, the Barbies sleep with her too.  That seems a small price to pay for that bacteria laden book to be permanently retired.

Callie has been decisive about the end of several obsessions or behaviors.  We often found ourselves saying, "Huh - have you noticed how Callie doesn't ______ anymore?"  Squirt lotion all over, flood the bathroom, write on walls, freak out when the blender is turned on, eat so much she vomits - and a host of other past behaviors.

It's the hope that "this too will past" that keeps us going some days.  Most of her behaviors seem to come and go, which is comforting when we're facing one that is particularly disturbing.  Right now, she is obsessed with kissing.  First she wanted other people to kiss and would put couples together and demand they kiss.  Now, she wants to kiss - anyone who happens to be around when she has the urge.  She is an indiscriminate kisser - any age, any gender, anytime.  Most people find it amusing, but when she corners someone or goes in for a kiss from a younger more vulnerable child, that's not so cool.

Someday, God willing, we'll one day look back and say, "Huh, remember when she used to try to kiss everybody in sight?"

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Take a Pause

A few weeks ago Jacob's school began it's third quarter.  The teachers asked the kids to write two goals for the rest of third grade.  The examples given had to do with passing reading levels etc.

This is what Jacob wrote - exactly.

1.  Do not Get Posis in a week.
2.  Do not tock ot uf trn.

Just a reminder - Jacob has learning disabilities.  He has worked long and hard to get close to grade level in reading.  Writing is painfully difficult for him.  

The first goal states that he doesn't want to get any pauses in a week.  This is the classroom's version of time outs.  When they aren't paying attention or are disruptive, they take a pause.

The second goal says that he doesn't want to talk out of turn.  That's pretty self-explanatory.  The teacher's comment was, "Both achievable goals".  

I have really mixed feelings about these goals.  On the one hand I'm glad that Jacob wants to get along in school and doesn't like when his behavior doesn't reflect the kind, gentle young man he strives to be.  On the other, it bothers me that behavior and not academic achievement is not the first thing that comes to his mind.

Jacob gets very frustrated with himself when he isn't able to reach these goals, but from what we've seen, it's not because he doesn't want to.  Sometimes he just can't.  This doesn't mean he can't or won't at a later date, but sometimes - it's just not possible in that moment.

Personally, I know I would be a much better person if I took a pause before spouting off my mouth or judging someone else harshly.  We surely have high expectations for children - sometimes much higher than what we as adults expect from ourselves.

Everybody just take a pause today.  The world would be a much nicer, kinder, gentler place if we just followed that piece of advice.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Movie Set House

A few years ago while Mark was working on a new bathroom Jonathan commented that our house was like a movie set.  We just keep moving walls around to make new rooms to suit the needs of our family for that particular time and we are at it again.

 When we first moved in, 21 years ago,  we had 7 kids and this house had 3 official and two unofficial bedrooms.  So, we divided the basement into two bedrooms and we were set - for awhile.  Later on we sectioned off the end of our family room and made it into a bedroom for the Jacob and Christian.  Our master bedroom was split into a bathroom for Shannie and a bedroom for Ella.  We also had a half bath which we took out and made into an alcove with  desk and computer.  Right now we have 6 official bedrooms, only the boys are sharing for now and we're ready to have our basement back as a rec room or whatever they're calling that type of space now.  

The picture on the left shows the wall that's being removed.  The picture below is painted on the wall that was Jonathan's room with "Pokinatcha Punx" - which we let Jonathan paint cause we're just that awesome as parents - from the band MXPX which he loved at the time.  It was forever called the Pokinatcha kid room.  It ended up being a graveyard for no longer useful items.  Now, it's being cleaned out and we'll see exactly how it turns out.

In honor of the first day of African American History month I quote Mary McLeod Bethune,  "I never stop to plan. I take things step by step."  This works best when remodel projects happen around here.  We never know exactly what the end project will look like - it's the beauty and the curse of this old house.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

An Apple A Day

I consider myself reasonably adventurous when it comes to food.  My boys and husband who only like food so hot they sweat profusely would undoubtedly disagree, but I am.  Yesterday while shopping I saw a new variety of apples, and I love a good new variety of apple,  that I will never try.

I was choosing apples somewhat based on price and somewhat on varieties we enjoy.  I bagged up some Jazz apples - very crisp and sweet - when I saw a 4 pack of apples in a plastic container.  The package was labeled "Grapples". No, not a hybrid grape/apple, but an apple infused with artificial grape flavoring.

Just what was it about naturally sweet and wonderfully flavored apples that made some genius decided it needed help to taste, better?  Are there really kids who won't eat a regular normal apple unless extra flavoring is added?

To say we have a little problem with our food America is a ridiculous understatement.  Can't we all agree to just leave our produce alone.  I know we can discuss the organic vs. inorganically grown and that there are definitely some food additives that should be off limits.  But honestly, can't we all agree that our fruits and vegetables do not need to be injected with flavoring to, well, add flavor.  Either you like the flavor as is or you don't.  Remember the expression, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away".  I'll take my apple without injections thank you very much.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Why the Rush?

I rarely, as in 3 or 4 times a year maybe, go to the Mall of America.  This week - twice.  Once to walk with a friend, which was great as the below temps made walking outside impossible.  Today after discussing several options I agreed to take Ella and Jacob to the mall and purchase a small lego toy if they walked around it with me twice which is equal to a mile.  So off we went.

As soon as we entered the doors we could see that there was obviously a cheerleading competition of some sort going on.  Girls in too short skirts with thick make up, including very young girls, maybe 5 or 6 yrs. old, big bows in their hair.  It's an odd juxtaposition to see the girlish ponytails with little girl bows, but adult faces with their make up.

There were several disturbing scenarios I observed.  One was a family who had matching T-shirts reading Jacey's Mom, Jacey's Dad, Jacey's Bro and lastly Jacey's Man.  JACEY'S MAN!!  These kids were maybe 16 yrs. old.  What were her parents thinking?  Don't even get me started on referring to this  kid as a man.  Sheesh.

I've never understood why some people seem to be in such a rush to have their children grow up.  Childhood is an incredibly short time.  We should cherish it and stretch it just as far as we possibly can enjoying every last second of it, not hurry our children into an early adulthood.

It made me oh so grateful for my level headed daughter.  When we arrived today we parked and had to walk through the store Forever 21, a store that would be very attractive to most girls her age.  We couldn't walk through the store fast enough for her, except maybe when she's passing the American Girl store.  Nothing there turned her eye.

I had to beg her to try on hoodies in a different store, but she tried on the first one I handed to her and she said, "that's fine".  There are times I wish she would take an interest in girly type things or the clothes she wears, but I'll take her lack of fashion interest over a girly girl any day and I will squeeze every last second out of her much too quickly waning childhood.  Adulthood can wait.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Laughing Because I Love

This is Frankie McDonald.  He has his own youtube channel.  He really loves to talk about weather, but also likes dancing and holidays.  He also, pretty clearly, has a developmental disability, perhaps autism.  When I watched the first time I wasn't sure if it was okay to laugh.  My conclusion is that it's okay if this is a population of people you really love, and I do.  Frankie is passionate about whatever he's talking about.  His parents are clearly aware that he's creating all these videos and likely are encouraging him.  All of us who have children with obsessions knows there are some battles you chose to fight and some that are not worth fighting.  I have no doubt that this obsession keeps Frankie very busy and in a much more fruitful way than many other obsessions.  He also keeps track of how many hits he has, so he really wants people to watch.

Some of the other videos I saw, including several radio stations,  featuring Frankie were clearly making fun of Frankie and were not laughing because they love.  That is my one reservation of sharing this video at all.  I don't want people to misunderstand that it's okay to laugh at Frankie.  Enjoying how he sees the world is different than laughing at him.  In this video Frankie clearly cares deeply that we Minnesotans need to be careful with our extremely cold temperatures so BE PREPARED!

How can you not love the extra body noises and the fantastic Canadian accent, this coming from a Minnasootah girl.  Frankie - thanks for the warning and I'll be watching you.