Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rage diverted

Yesterday was the last dance class of the year. They give out medals to all the dancers and trophies for girls who have been taking for 2,5 or 7 years. Parents are responsible for signing up their dancers for the trophies, as it is a lot of work to keep track of how many years they have been taking consecutively. Not to mention, that it would be my job to do as the very part-time office manager.

Well, I forgot to sign Akila up for a trophy. I remember vividly the rages from last year when she did not get one and I explained that she needed to wait one more year for the 5 year trophy. Her
FASD mind of course did not get this. She has not brought it up all year, I have forgotten, and somehow, did not think about it when my boss was ordering trophies.

Thankfully, Juli (my friend and her teacher), called me to tell me Akila was freaking out about the no trophy. I have to admit, I was in quite a panic as I could see a week of perseverating on the trophy while I attempted to get one ordered. Then I remembered that we may have a few in storage from last year that dancers did not pick up. I arrived early to pick Akila up, found one from last year (a 7 year trophy, but I did not care at that point), and gave it to her. She was as happy as could be. She did not seem to notice it was a different color and said 2009 on it instead of 2010.

Rage diverted. Thank goodness we had some extras.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Nice weekend with Akila

Akila and I went to Willmar this weekend, just the two of us. My high school friends, Matt and Joanna, have a son graduating from high school and we went to his open house which was followed 3 hours later by a surprise birthday party for Joanna.

It is very hard to leave all 4 kids with Michael for a weekend, especially with as challenging as Akila's behavior has been lately, so I brought her with. There is one or two weekends this summer that I am saving up for my weekend away. She did great!

The car ride is 2 hours, and she was perfect. There were no other kids to fight with or be distracted with and we brought with plenty of activities. The birthday party was at a golf course and they had a DJ, and Akila danced the night away, it was like a dream come true for her. She was requesting songs and dancing with other kids and a few adults. My most proud moment was when she requested Michael Jackson's song, Beat It. And during the Beat It chorus part of the song, she would pound on her fist like she was beating somebody up. Not very cute to watch. I tried to have her stop with little success.

We visited a couple of family friends yesterday and then headed home. Got home around 4:30, and it maybe took 30 minutes for her to lose it and start having conflict with the siblings and neighborhood kids. It was very hot and humid, as it is today, so we went out to dinner. She was having a hard time holding it together but we made it.

Tomorrow, we have to go back to the Neuro-Psychologist for some more testing. Last Tuesday, is when she was doing her testing with the Dr. After lunch, around 1:30, the Dr. came out to ask me if we could come back next week sometime as Akila was having a really hard time focusing and sitting still. She had done really well in the morning, but wasn't anymore. I think I should bring her in around 6:00 for the testing, what an eye opener that would be!!

Depending on what kind of Dr. appt I am making, I sometimes try to make it as late in the day as possible so they can get a good flavor of her behavior and what I am talking about. Most people just have no idea and can't really imagine what I am talking about when I say she rages, or gets out of control.

Monday, May 17, 2010

More messes

A few weeks, ago, I posted about helping out my neighbor who has a daughter with FAS. We are helping them out again tonight.

Around 8:00, Akila was up in our room winding down and watching TV as I was waiting for her meds to kick in. Our other 3 kids were finishing homework before bedtime. When the two younger kids from next door came over and said their mom sent them over because their 16 year old sister (with FAS), had trashed their house. They went into our family room to play. I got all 4 of our kids put to bed, Akila didn't even know that we had visitors. Thankfully, she was good at bedtime.

Then the mom came over and the police were taking S to the hospital and she was quite upset. S had taken some tempura paint and splattered it all throughout their main level, on the ceiling, couches, furniture, floors. She had shredded some pillows, broken her lap top, knocked the TV off of the stand, broken glass in the kitchen. All because the mom would not get her soup at Byerly's. The mom had to take the younger kids to soccer, and she thought the 20 year old son was staying home, but he wasn't (at this point, she did not realize that S was super upset). While she was at soccer, S trashed the house. And it is trashed big time.

The two young ones are sleeping here, and I think the 20 year old will be coming over in a few minutes to sleep on the couch, as he has been asked to leave by the mom. It is so hard when you are feeling so emotional, vulnerable and abused. I think the mom thinks it is the 20 year olds fault for leaving. But they frequently leave S alone. He is over at the house trying to do some cleaning, bless his heart. The mom thinks she will probably need to hire some professional cleaners, which I would agree with. She is a single working mom of 4 children. She is at the hospital with S tonight, I am assuming they will admit her, and I think she will more than likely be going to some sort of residential treatment now.

It is so hard to comprehend for those of us who do not have brain damage, how something as little as soup can cause such a big mess. How something so little as being told no, I am not going to drive to the store to buy you soup, as I already drove to a restaurant and got you dinner, can turn a night into a total disaster.


A former colleague of mine who I worked with in the Bloomington schools, mentioned to a mutual friend a few months ago that she would be willing to take Akila for a weekend respite. I of course emailed Jo right away and she was rearing to go. I said we could wait until summer sometime since Akila had just had a weekend away in March, but her hubby was out of town last weekend so she wanted to give it a try last Saturday night.

Jo is the person who loves the challenging kids in the school age child care program that she runs. She has always been gifted with tough kids, so I knew it would be fun. Jo had her 8 year old granddaughter stay over night as well, and she said the weekend went pretty good, they had some bumps, but she laughed that she did not get hit. She did get called an F***ing B multiple times, but it didn't phase her. Now, that is commitment.

It did phase me. It was just more proof of how Akila is getting to a new level of junk. She has always been the type, that starts a negative behavior at home, and withing 6-12 months (usually), the behavior follows at school. She has been hitting at home for two years now, it started at school. She has been calling names and swearing a little at school, but the brazen name calling and swearing at Jo, is new. This has been something she has lovingly reserved for Michael and I. Have I mentioned that she frequently calls us the N word. If she only knew.

When I picked Akila up, I went through her bag of course. She had one of the granddaughter's shirts in her bag. Jo's daughter was there who I also use to work with. Her mouth was wide open, not at all in a judging way, just kind of astonished. Then when I was about to check Akila's pockets and clothing, I saw that she had a double shirt on, and the bottom one was not ours. She had to go change. Jo's daughter was commenting on how she wasn't even really embarrassed. She was more mad that she was caught than embarrassed, which is normal for her. I was sure to look in the hole of her teddy bear this time, to make sure there was not another cell phone or something else hidden in it. It was clean.

So, it makes me a bit nervous that she was calling Jo the FB combo. Although, it is partially a testament to how comfortable Jo made her feel at her home. Jo is good, and I am blessed to have so many people who are willing to help us raise Akila, the whole village thing is really cool sometimes.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Adoption movie

There is a new movie coming out on adoption stuff, it looks interesting. Samual L. Jackson, Annette Bening, and others are in it. It will be interesting to see how it is written. It is called Mother and Child, check it out.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I was at the kid's school yesterday afternoon for the honor roll recognition. All 3 of my younger kids made the 3rd quarter honor roll. During the ceremony, I received a text from Akila's aide saying that she got a 230 on her MCA math tests, she scored a 187 in the fall and 211 in the winter, so she is going in the right direction. She also said Akila had a 2nd really good day, that is two in a row!

What a great day. To see all 4 of my kids succeeding, is a real blessing. It is what I try to look at when a few hours later, Akila is raging. Our school is full of issues like most schools, organizations or businesses are. But my kids are happy, my kids are learning, and they are supported, at school and at home. What more can you ask for?

It was picture night at the dance studio, Akila had 4 pictures within an hour. She did well, until the photographer told her to do a natural smile, not a fake one. She got mad, and had an attitude after that. So her first picture is decent, the other 3 are all horrible. I will have to remember to talk to the photographers in the future and tell them the fake smile is fine, it is much better than the fake smile that is hiding her anger.

When we got home, she was being very disrespectful and I was very calmly trying to tell her that I would not help her with something until she could ask respectfully. She eventually melted down and I had to restrain her for a few minutes. Then, she laid for about 45 minutes on the living room floor and just sobbed. She couldn't talk, or express her feelings. She just sobbed. I kept her in eye sight, did some picking up, told her I would play cards with her after she was calm. It took forever. She finally settled down, and had to take her medicine. Then she started sobbing again, and had a little tiny episode of vomiting, more like spit up. But I couldn't tell what medicine got into her or not.

I have kind of noticed, that on days when she does a really good job holding it together at school, she is much more likely to explode at home. It is like she just can't keep it together anymore, and melts down in a major way! I am glad it is at home and not school, but I wish it was at neither places of course!!! I was quite worried that she would not stay sleeping last night since I wasn't sure what meds actually stayed in, but she did. Thankfully.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Code word

The other 3 kids are home right now, Akila is at her after school class. Zeke just informed me that he had a really bad dream last night, and it involved Akila attacking us with a knife. It spurred a good discussion.

We came up with a code word that the kids can yell to dad and/or me when they feel unsafe. The word for all those of you who may be at our house, or be babysitting in the future, is bagel. They chose it. We also talked about if we are ever anywhere and other people are asking questions about adoption or stuff that is making them uncomfortable, they can say to Michael or I "I want some bagels" and we will know to end the conversation and get them out of the situation.

It was a really good talk. It led to talking about what to do if approached by a stranger, on foot or in a car. There have been several incidents in Minneapolis lately and it was a good time to talk about. There were many crazy "what if" scenarios they brought up, but it went really well. I am thankful that all 3 of them have good common sense.

I am trying not to think too much about how sad it is that we have to come up with a code word, or that Zeke would have a dream like that. I did try to explain that the bagel code word is not to be mis-used or over-used. It is for when they feel very unsafe, whether it is from Akila's behavior, or a different situation. Now, I just hope to never hear the word again. But I know I will. Good thing we are not regular bagel eaters in our family.

Mother's day present, day late

I received a text message around 11:00 from Akila's aide telling me that Akila was in a good mood and having a really good day. I of course texted back how happy I was and to tell her I was proud. Her aide said she got a big smile.

I just heard from them both at the end of the day also, and her aide said she had the best day ever. I am so thankful. A good day, coming off a week where she was in trouble twice for hitting other kids at school, is just what we needed. Way to go Akila!!!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy mother's day, hugh?

I know that typical families, often try to make Mother's Day special, for mom. Kids will usually try to be on their best behavior, maybe be a bit more helpful, and stuff like that. That is not how it is in families like mine. FASD does not take the day off to honor moms.

Kari wrote a post that explains it well. Michael tried really hard, he had a deal with Akila that she was going to be on her best behavior. Didn't last long. My day started off with Zeke wetting his bed (too much to drink late last night- should have paid more attention) at 4:30. Akila got up at 5:15. Much fighting and arguing by kids by 7:30 am, while I was still trying to lay in bed.

Went out to lunch after church, and the kids all did well for the meal. That was lovely. Got home, about 10 minutes before rage #1 hit. Kitchen destroyed, things swiped off counters. Lots of fun. Ended up playing cards with Akila to try and get her off her game, or on her game, depending on how you look at it. Played cards on and off several times throughout the day, to distract her from whatever was currently making her mad.

Yesterday, at lunchtime, Akila was raging for food and did not like what we were having. I actually said she could have something else (when she is in rage mode, or near rage mode- her brain takes over, and she becomes a very picky eater- she normally is not). I gave her 2 choices, she didn't like them. She raged. She went nuts. She wanted something I did not have. I suggested something else. Eventually, she had 4 choices. She kept on raging that she was hungry. I could have made her something of my choosing, but it would have ended up on the wall.

I finally had the idea of writing the four choices on a pieces of paper and choosing one out of a hat. She liked the idea. As I was writing them down, she decided she wanted sushi. Hugh? Definitely don't have sushi. Raging started over. Finally got her to draw. She chose pizza rolls. Got mad as they are too spicy. Fine I said, draw something else. She did, and was happy with her choice. As I was boiling pasta, she stood beside me sobbing that she was hungry. I offered yogurt, grapes, apples, carrots, etc. She didn't want anything I could offer. She just sobbed and raged. Couldn't get that stupid pasta done quickly enough.

So anyway, the majority of today was rage free, due to lots of card games. I do feel blessed to be a mom, and to be a mom to all 4 of my kids. I was thinking a lot of my mom today, and thinking about how hard it would be for her to be around our family with all the odd dynamics. She was a great mom, but patience was not a strength of hers. It really isn't one of my strengths either, it is something I need to pray for each day. I did it multiple times today, as Akila was cursing, and swiping my counters clean. And I will do it again tomorrow, and hopefully for many years to come.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The things you do

I sometimes can't believe the things I do. I just spent the last 45 minutes greasing and straightening an American Girl doll's hair with a hot iron. The whole time I was praying for peace and patience, as it was the last thing I wanted to be doing.

I'm feeling a bit crabby. Sorry. But there is no school tomorrow, so I have a good reason. It is probably good that there is no school tomorrow since Akila has had such a hard week. The kids were watching a movie tonight, I had said they could stay up late since there was no school. That means 9:30. I know that is normal bedtime for many families, but not for us.

Anyway, I should have known better. 9:00 the raging started. It started as she wanted to watch some Dr. show on ABC called Private Practice. It is not appropriate for kids. So she escalated. I gave her a few other options, for things to watch, and I tried to get her to play mancala with me, or Uno or some other game. But she was raging. And, by the way, she wanted to make soft cookies. I said we could make cookies tomorrow, but that it was too late.

She raged more. Threw things, destroyed things, to the point where I had to restrain her, more than once. Eventually, I had her on my lap, she was very tense, and she was sobbing. She was stuck on that we need to make cookies. Then her obsession moved on to hair. I told her we would take her braids out tomorrow and straighten her hair. She raged more. More restraining. More destroying. More cursing. She eventually returned to just sobbing as I tried to rub her back and calm her tense little body down.

Her next idea, was that I could straighten her dolls hair. I said I would tomorrow after we finished her hair. She raged. She had been raging for so long, that I still had not been successful in getting her evening meds into her, which pushes bedtime later. So, I made a compromise. I said I would straighten her dolls hair and make it shiny if she would take her meds. She agreed. It still took her 8 minutes total to take her meds, as she carried on and on about ridiculous things.

So, I fired up the hot iron. Put grease in the American Girl doll's hair (which I have repeatedly told Akila is not good for dolls hair), and straightened it. It looks the same as before I started, but it is a bit shiny from the grease. She calmed down, was a happy camper, and went to bed OK (I think, she is falling asleep as I type- I pray!).

Do you think I wanted to straighten a dolls hair after 9:30 at night (or at anytime of the day for that matter)? Um, no!!! But I took this moment to connect with Akila. This is what the book The Connected Child has been talking a lot about, and I am giving it more of a try. Many people would have a hard time with this, and think that Akila just won a power struggle. I would agree with them if it was one of my neuro-typical kids. Akila's brain doesn't really work like that. Compromising is sometimes the only way to survive.

I also want to make it clear that I am not goofy enough to go out and buy a $100 doll for Akila to trash. I bought it at a garage sale for cheap!!! Good thing, as she gave it some horrid looking bangs last week, and now it is full of grease and her hair is half way fried. She is looking a little trashy.

Akila has been begging to paint my finger nails and I suppose I will keep that option in my back pocket. I hate finger nail polish on my fingers, I can tolerate it on the toes, but not my hands for some reason. So I am going to get some clear stuff and see if that will satisfy her need to do my nails. It would be a great connecting activity. Last Sunday, I spent an hour and a half playing Barbies with her. She does love it, to connect on that level. And I know that sometimes I get too caught up in "life" and getting things done that I don't interact with the kids enough, with all 4 of them. This is a new goal I am going to try to work on.

Tough week

On Tuesday, I was having lunch with some former colleagues that I once worked with. I had turned my phone on vibrate and did not notice it vibrating. In the parking lot, I realized I had a text message from Akila's aide, saying she had hit a student and was being sent home for the rest of the day. I got the message an hour later than it came in.

I went to the school, and the Associate Principal(AP) had left the building for a meeting. I had wanted to touch base with her as the IEP team had talked in February about not having out of school suspensions for behaviors, unless they were of a more serious nature. I brought Akila home, and had her do some cleaning. She did not get it, that she was in trouble. Let's just say, she was full of attitude. It is very hard to be patient with a child who was just suspended and is not acting at all remorseful.

I was kind of emotional and slightly upset all night as I just don't see suspensions as a good option. We had a very busy night with a K-2 concert and some other things, but I wanted to send an email to the AP. I thought about waiting a few days, and decided not to. I sent an email late Tuesday night, and she called me yesterday morning when I wasn't available and wanted to talk.

I stopped by the school in the afternoon and we had a great conversation. She agreed with me on the suspension, and we talked a little about in school suspension, and other consequence ideas. And we talked about bringing her IEP team together when there was an issue. This is what her IEP says, but the AP just wasn't familiar with all the details of her IEP. So, it was a good meeting and I felt better afterwards.

Then there is today. My cell phone rings this morning, and it is the school. Many of you know the feeling you have when the school is calling. I always hold my breath as I answer. Sure enough, Akila was back in the AP's office for hitting a Kindergarten student in the afterschool program. They had assembled the IEP team and we talked to Akila about the situation. The AP is understandably worried with two issues of hitting in one week. Akila is losing recess today and if there is another incident like this, she will have in school suspension.

So, what can I say. Her behavior is frustrating. Is it going to get better? I truly doubt it. Am I prepared for it to get more challenging? Only by the grace of God. He knows what we can handle. He knows what is best for Akila. At this point, I do not feel led to home school. It may be in the future. I will be honest and say that I can't imagine how it could work. Akila is way more aggressive, argumentative and uncooperative for me, than she is at school.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Brain overload

I attended the Chrisitan Alliance for Orphans last Thursday and Friday. My brain is on overload. I am fried. It was a great two days, with emotions all over the charts. I am grasping for time to write some of the million things going through my mind, I hope to be able to sometime this week.

My favorite part was getting to meet a few bloggy friends. It is so funny to meet someone, whom you feel like you know almost better than some of your own family. There is such a camaraderie and level of understanding between us, that it is like seeing an old friend. I loved it. It made me want to have a blog conference or something.

A few brief highlights of the conference, were when Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth, shared their testimonies and sang (Steven sang, Mary Beth shared). They are amazing, and it was an emotional evening. I was privileged to hear Stephanie Fast speak, who was orphaned in Korea and has an amazing story to share about the love of God and His plan in her life.

I was blown away by Dr. Karyn Purvis, the author of "The Connected Child". I must share a couple of quick things I learned from her. We know that kids who have been traumatized, either by prenatal exposure, or early neglect or abuse, have brain damage and their brain chemistry is different than others. A few things she said can help is to feed these children every 2 hours, some kind of snack if it is not meal time. She said that for typical people, we get grumpy when hungry and our blood sugar levels get low. Kids who have neuro issues, get aggressive when their blood sugar levels get low. If there are sleep disturbances, she said to make sure they have a lean protein snack like turkey or chicken before bed, so their blood sugar does not drop while they sleep and they wake up.

Dr. Purvis also talked briefly about dehydration. The majority of us are usually walking around with mild dehydration as we do not usually intake the right amount of water. She said some hoity toity medical terms that I did not get down, but basically, when our kids with neuro issues have not had enough water, they also get aggressive more quickly. She said to have a child have a glass of water before they get a glass of juice, or a glass of soda. And for parents to do this. Before you can have a cup of coffee, you have the same size drink of water. Good advise.

Sensory issues were also discussed. As most of us are all to aware of, our kids have sensory issues. She reminded us that our kids should be doing something sensory every 2 hours, and this will more than likely decrease escalations and aggressive tendencies.

So, those were the really practical things I took away from her session. Some of it I knew, some of it was a refresher, and some of it was new. I am really tired now, and am going to hit the sack.