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Sunday, January 10, 2010

Hello

Hello. Welcome to my blog. I usually post more often than I have been posting. I am sorry. I will try to catch you up on what's been going on around here.

Keith has been *gasp* actually trying to chew his food lately. I know! It came out of nowhere. He actually put a pinto bean between his front two teeth and chewed on it. I was blown away! This kid has been anti-chewing for over a year now - since we adopted him. It does my heart good to see him slowly progressing towards chewing food. *fingers crosssed*

In other Keith related news, his school teacher informed me that he is, indeed, in kindergarten but a special needs class. They have been taking him into a regular kindergarten class for about 30 minutes per day. The kids in that class say that Keith gives the best "high fives" of anyone around. That's my boy! His teacher, Mrs. S, says that he does well in the regular class unless they want him to do something he doesn't want to do and then he throws a fit - typical Keith behavior.

This past week Keith's class brought in a karoake machine for the kids to play with...and apparantly, Keith was deemed a true "rock star" because he would not only *sing* into the microphone, but he would dance, too! I was blown away by the news. My little boy is growing and changing so much. :o)

As much as I want to say how great Kristina is doing, she has been struggling lately. I have received several papers from her teacher, Mrs. P., who says that Kristina has been spitting, kicking, biting, pulling hair, throwing her shoes, and hitting both the other students and the teacher and the school bus driver. *heavy sigh* Every day I go over the paper from Kristina's teacher and we talk about making good choices instead of bad choices. She seems to understand our conversation and then the next day I receive a similar paper with a list of her bad choices. Kristina is a difficult child to raise because of her FAS symptoms. Tyler & I have discussed the idea of purchasing some books on how to raise a child with FAS. Does anyone have any recommendations?

I have endeavored to potty train the twins. Not easy...perhaps I should focus on Kristina and then try with Keith? When I put Keith on the potty, he has this look on his face which communicates to me that he has no idea what he's supposed to be doing on the potty...Kristina does pretty well going pee-pee, but poo-poo...not so much...

Anna is doing well in school. She is quite the talker and is eager to show me her gymnastics moves 21 times per day. Once our house in Ohio is rented out - we have a potential renter right now going through the paperwork - then we will enroll the girls back into gymnastics. They have missed going ever since we moved to Florida. Since Anna is now 8 years old, she will be going to activity days 2x a month. I don't think they had activity days at church when I was 8, because I have no memory of it.

I think we're starting to get to know some people in the ward and in the area. A month ago, I met Tanya at the post office with her two adorable children. Tanya is from Belarus, like my brother-in-law, Yury, and we seemed to hit it off quite well. I took her some Christmas treats before we left for Oklahoma, and then yesterday I invited her family over for lunch. Her husband wasn't able to come, but she and her kids came and we had a lovely time. I gave her a Russian Book of Mormon and she seemed interested in learning about the ancestors of the Native Americans.

This Wednesday, we have been invited to eat at this family's house, and we're excited about that. Plus on Tuesday there will be enrichment at church - so I can meet some ladies here. I am eager to make some friendships. It seemed like several ladies in Ohio had blogs and that was an easy way to get to know them, but I haven't found that here in Florida...guess I'll have to make friendships that old, non-electronic way. ;o)

I now have a calling to work in the Primary. I will be teaming up to teach Kristina's class. Tyler has been called to be a ward missionary and assistant to our ward mission leader. There is a lot of missionary work being done here in the area and Tyler's very excited to be a part of it all. I am excited to teach in the primary. I've only served in musical callings since I was 17 years old and went to college at Oklahoma State University. It will be fun, I think. Plus the gal that I'm teaming up with seems pretty cool. :o)

We took down the Christmas decorations today. It's always less fun to take them down than to put them up. I also finished my digital scrapbook for 2009. It was 200 pages! I can't tell you how nice it is to be up to date on my scrapbooking! Woo-hoo!

My mom is going to make us a king sized quilt for our new king sized bedroom set. It will be orange and brown. I am excited for it. I used to think of myself as a crafty person, because I did a lot of cross stitch when I was younger, but now I don't even own a sewing machine or even thread, so I appreciate those who do have a talent for sewing. My mom used to make my clothes when I was younger and has made several quilts for our family. This quilt will be in the log cabin style - I really like the look of it. I will post pictures whenever it's finished.

And that is what we have been up to lately.

9 comments:

shannon said...

So sorry about the difficulties with Kristina! It sounds so discouraging and frustrating! Good luck.

Drew, ME, Moriah, Daison, Janella, & Dylan Kyler Clerc said...

I know quite a few kids with FAS due to the high rate of FAS in the state of Alaska. We have about 5 in our ward (adopted or foster kids). Very difficult kids--they require a lot of patience, which I am sure you know. I think you are awesome to provide these kids with a loving home and family.

Diana said...

Yeah, Keith!

Have you looked into PTSD with Kristina? Do you have the kids back in therapy? We know just enough about our kids backgroud to assume that they were prenatally exposed as well. Of course, FASD presents differently in all kids, but in my experience, it's often very hard to tell where one issue ends and the other begins. What you're saying Kristina is doing sounds pretty PTSDish to me, though, especially with the move and all. Sounds like she's regressing to old orphanage survival skills at school. That's not all that uncommon, actually, especially since school can be really reminiscent of the orphanage environment. If there is FASD at work, it will certainly compound things and make the impulse control harder, that is for sure.

A couple of good books:

"Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control" (both volumes) - Heather Forbes

"The Boy Who was Raised as a Dog" - Bruce Perry

"Building the Bonds of Attachment" - Daniel Hughes

None of them are specifically FAS related, but they are all therapeutic parenting models based on raising hurt/traumatized kids that will really support raising any special needs kids. I don't know of any parenting book specifically about FAS. What I do know, however, is that FAS rarely stands alone. If situations were such that a child was prenatally exposed to alcohol, more than likely there was a whole bunch of other stuff going on as well...you know, the stuff we all hate to think about...abuse, neglect, abandonment, deprivation...yuck!

What we've found, though, is that treating the other stuff and letting them work through whatever, they're healing and we're not seeing as much pronounced FAS stuff. Yes, I'm sure it is still coming into play, but it's just part of the whole package. I'm still terrified for Matthew to start Kindergarten next year because of similar behaviors, but he's really working hard in therapy and is doing ok in school now. We have our kids in play therapy, BTW, which has been really helpful.

Yeah for callings. Boo for being new in a ward. I don't have much in common with most of the people in my new ward and it is hard to get to know people, especially when your kids take so much out of you! But I'm sure it will come with time.

We used to have Merry Miss and Targeteer activities quite frequently when I was a kid. They may not have been as organized or frequent as Activity Days, but I still remember going to quite a few of them.

Alabama Apples said...

Life is so full of ups and downs. I am always impressed at your positive outlook. Hooray for getting out to meet people. I always struggle with that for a little when we move, but then just try to immerse myself. Good luck with it all! Hooray for your family's achievements!

Aubrey said...

Hello!! I'm in your ward and there are a lot of us with blogs as well as on facebook! I haven't had a chance to meet you with all your travels but I have seen you at church a couple of times.
Feel free to find other ward members blogs from my list of family and friends on my page. There are quite a few. I will also be at Enrichment. I really hope you love this ward because they have been so warm and inviting to me! Aubrey Bundy

nicole said...

I love posts like these. It helps to know what's going on in your life, and to feel more connected with you. I hope the situation with Kristina improves, that must be so stressful. But it will all work out. You are a forever family now. :)

Courtney said...

Jill, what program do you use for your digital scrapbooking? I would love to scrapbook but I can't cut pictures--it's a mental thing. LOL But doing them digitally would be perfect for me!

Anonymous said...

As a special needs teacher and counsellor, I have worked with many FAS children. My advice to you would be to get back to the basics. Kristina is completely over stimulated with life right now. I would suggest that all of the behaviours (spitting, kicking, biting, pulling hair, throwing her shoes, and hitting) are from being overwhelmed with life. Your family has effectively done a "fruit basket turnover" (remember the game as a child?) You are doing a lot of fun new things, but FAS children cannot handle changes easily. When they become overwhelmed they revert back to survival mode, and it requires DRASTIC EFFORTS to calm and reassure her that you are there for her. YOU NEED TO START OVER AT SQUARE ONE, or things will continue to get worse.

THINK ABOUT THE "safe" environment, you created when you first brought Kristina home. She needs that again. It won't take as long this time, but you need to go through all those steps again. Keep her home with you for at least 2 or 3 weeks. Stay home. Never leave her side. Re-assure her that you love her by doing the activities she enjoys with you 24-7 for a while. If she reverts to any bad behaviours, calmly take her to her quiet place, staying with her, and calmly telling her "We can _______ (fill in the blank with activity she enjoys) when we are ready to be nice." DO NOT EVER SEND HER TO HER QUIET PLACE ALONE. SHE NEEDS YOU TO ACCEPT HER OR SHE WILL HAVE NO REASON TO DO BETTER.

You'll know when she is ready to move s l o w l y on to a slightly bigger world because you will be enjoying her so much, and she will be so happy!

The next step would be to take her to school for a small part of a day, (45 min to an hour) with you right there glued to her side. Arrange this with the teacher in advance. DO NOT STAY IF ANY BAD BEHAVIOR HAPPENS. (VERY IMPORTANT!!) LEAVE RIGHT THEN, AND TRY IT AGAIN THE NEXT SCHOOL DAY, staying slightly longer when she is doing good, trying to anticipate her actions, and leave early when you see the signs start to happen, so that you leave BEFORE she reverts to a bad behaviour. When you conquer the entire school day, (with you having been by her side the entire time) you are ready to take on the bus ride. You guessed it! Get on that bus glued to her side. If you have been VERY DILIGENT and taken LOTS OF TIME to assure that the entire school days have gone well with you there still constantly glued to her side, with no bad behaviours, the bus ride should also go well. Do not let her ride the bus the next day if there is a bad behaviour. After several days of success with the bus ride, let her ride the bus alone, with you putting her on the bus, and making a dash for the school, and meeting her at the school as she gets off the bus. Find out from the driver if she has had a 100% successful ride. If NO, go straight home with her, without school for the day, and you ride the bus again with her the next day.

So, you get the pattern of all this I'm sure. The next few steps would be: leaving the classroom for a brief period of time, and coming back, gradually adjusting intervals, for good and bad behaviours, letting her ride the bus to school, meeting her, and walking her to her teacher, and then leaving her there for longer and longer period of time, any slip-ups require you being glued to her side again, gradually adding new activities, each starting with you glued to her side, and s l o w l y increasing the time away from you. Take special care to not add activities back quickly. Any stresses begin the old cycle, and this care must be taken for the next few years. Make her environment very small to guarantee success.

Anonymous said...

If you will follow all this through, I will PROMISE you that you will have success with precious Kristina! I have seen it happen MANY times. I know it is overwhelming to think about all of this. I have told parents that you can think of it as a deadly illness. Would you spend all that time with Kristina if she had an illness that she was dying of? Of course you would! Well, she does, and she is! If you will go through a "virtual" pregnancy with Kristina glued to your side, you will give birth to a Kristina that is gentle, well adjusted, and happy. And you will reap the rewards for a lifetime. Otherwise, she will continue to act out to survive, and you will not see her reach her full potential. It's not easy, but I promise you, it's worth it!

Good Luck!!!