I recently installed a widget on my blog that shows where people are from that are visiting my blog. I am now insanely curious to know who you all are. I recognize only a handful of the 2 dozen towns that are listed on the Live Traffic Feed. So, if you don't mind identifying yourself (at least anonymously!) I'd love to get a shout out from all of you that read my blog at least occasionally. I rarely get comments (probably because I'm committing some form of blogging faux pas that I know nothing about) so I have no clue who actually reads my blog at all. I don't even know if the people I send an email to when I post updates actually read it! So, if you read my blog, feel free to leave me a comment on this post and let me know who you are. All you lurkers show yourself! :)
Here are some of the towns that are listed on the tracker from the past two days:
Santa Clara, California,
Huntington Beach, California,
Asheboro, North Carolina,
Perrysburg, Ohio (Baba is this you?),
Aurora, Colorado (Myrna is this you?),
Bloomington, Indiana (Lora I assume this is you),
East Lansing, Michigan (Christine is this you?),
San Diego, California,
Vero Beach, Florida,
San Francisco, California,
Monday, November 17, 2008
Today Hannah woke up from her nap muttering. I went into her room to find her stretched across her rocking chair covered up with a blanket. She turned her head when she heard the door open and whispered, "I don't like the dinosaurs." After some questioning and several serious insistences that she indeed DID NOT like the dinosaurs I have come to the conclusion that she had a dream about dinosaurs being at McCalisters (the restaurant where we eat at after church most Sundays). She's never expressed any fear of dinosaurs before. We have several books that portray them in humorous roles and have never discussed them being scary at all, BUT last week at preschool the theme was dinosaurs. I can only surmise that it was mentioned that dinosaurs were terrifying beasts (probably by one of the little boys in the class) and that overpowered all previous experiences she's had with dinosaurs. It's interesting to me that this fear manifested itself as a dream instead of her mentioning it after preschool one day. Other than recounting her dream, she has made no mention of dinosaurs after school or any other time pretty much ever. I wonder if she's been having other dreams that are scary that she hasn't told me about and this is why she has all of a sudden started insisting that she sleep with the light on. Something for me to think about I guess.
We finally got Hannah's appointment with the developmental clinic set up. It's not until February! I knew it would be a long time, but I guess I kinda hoped that somehow we'd get in sooner. We also have a meeting set up for December to begin the transition from the early intervention agency to the local school system's special education department. Tonight was Hannah's six month review with the early intervention agency and she blew her case coordinator away by reading dozens of words to her off of flash cards. Hannah's therapist just smiled one of those "I told you so" smiles and gave me a knowing look. No one ever believes us when we say that Hannah is reading. It's made even more unbelievable when they know that she's receiving special services for sensory problems. Unfortunately, this will probably continue and make our fight to get Hannah access to the services she needs and deserves difficult. Because her challenges and gifts tend to cancel each other out, it often appears that she's just average and that she has no problems and also isn't exceptional at all academically. This fact could keep her out of gifted programs AND out of special education services to ensure that her sensory needs don't prevent her from meeting her potential academically. I often worry that when she enters school she's going to be bored out of her mind, socially frustrated and anxious, and not have anyone who is willing to help her succeed. I suppose we'll cross that bridge when we get there (although it could be sooner than we think!), but at least this meeting will be a good start.
Hannah's been learning more and more words lately and now has 20+ sight words. Tonight she read me another book. I'm always so proud when I see her stop at a word she doesn't know and attempt to use the context, pictures, and what she can decode to figure it out.
Last week while Kyle was in Puerto Rico, Heather came to stay with Hannah and I to keep us both from going insane. I'm so thankful that she did. Things went so much more quickly than they would have otherwise and Kyle was back before we both knew it. Heather brought her two dogs (Heinz and Maverick) with her so we had 4 dogs, two cats, two adults, and a toddler in the house! It was really quite a full house. Hannah really enjoyed having Aunt Heather stay here. Most of the time she didn't want me to do things with her. She wanted Heather instead! She even tried to convince my non kid person sister to give her a bath! That would have been a sight to see! It was pretty funny to watch Hannah pushing around and ordering around Heather's dogs too. We have little dogs, but Heinz and Maverick are dobermans (103 and 60 lbs respectively) and lately Hannah's been a bit leery of big dogs. However, after a few hours you would never know it. She'd just go up and push them right out of her way.
The other day I was eating M & M s and Hannah wanted some. I gave her my standard answer about not being able to have them until she was older. She then told me very matter of factly, "I can have them at Mamaw and Papaw's though." I guess the old saying, "What happens at Grandma's stays at Grandma's" doesn't apply with Hannah. This isn't the first time she's told us that she's done something at another person's house that she knows that she's not supposed to do or eaten something she knows she's not allowed at home. She's also started "arguing" when we tell her she can't have or do something by telling us that the other parent allows her to do it. This is usually her telling me that daddy allows her to do it. For example, she always wants to jump up the stairs or go up the stairs in some other unorthodox fashion like backwards or sideways. I don't let her because our stairs are steep, there is concrete at the bottom, and I don't have good enough balance to stop her from falling and keep myself from falling should she lose her balance and take a tumble. One day when she wanted to jump up the stairs and I told her no, she replied, "With Daddy I can do it!" and gave me a very defiant look. We're in for a real treat I'm sure once she's a little bit older and learns how to manipulate the system and pit us against each other!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
As Hannah's sensory needs are changing and as we are learning what things work best to keep her regulated, I began to get worried about how on earth I was going to survive the winter inside with her without our swing set. We spend a significant portion of our day swinging. This more than anything else is calming and regulating for Hannah. I hate the cold and was not looking forward to being forced outside for large chunks of time as the days got colder and colder. Eventually I whined enough to Kyle about it that he got the great idea to turn our guest bedroom into a sensory playroom for Hannah. We removed all the furniture except for the mattress from the guest bed and took the closet door off. We hung a doorway chin up bar in the doorway of the closet for Hannah to swing on and do flips on. We put her bean bag in there. We surrounded the guest bed mattress (minus the box spring to make it closer to the ground) with pillows, a comforter, and all of Hannah's stuffed animals to make it suitable for jumping on and crashing into and safe in case she were to get too wild (a good possibility!) and fall off. BUT the two biggest additions to the room that make me the happiest are a disc swing hung from the ceiling and the installation of our portable hammock on removable hooks above the guest bed mattress. Now Hannah has 3 options for swinging, two options for jumping, and 2 options for crashing and they are ALL indoors! :) Though I was most excited about the disc swing, the hammock has turned out to be the biggest lifesaver. It can be both calming and stimulating depending on how we choose to use it and Hannah can operate it herself which is a huge plus. We also got her some two pound medicine balls that we've been throwing into the bean bag and holding while we jump on the trampoline or bed so that we can add some heavy work into her indoor sensory diet. Hopefully as the winter goes on you will hear more great stories about how amazing this room is for Hannah instead of stories of me going crazy because of her meltdowns!
Here are a few videos of Hannah on her hammock. To see the video just click on the link and enjoy!
Hannah has always been one to love routines. I love them too so I can totally understand where she comes from, but sometimes her love of routines can cause her undue stress. For example, one of her current most endearing routines is the final segment of her bedtime routine. After being tucked in and kissed good night Hannah MUST say and the adult putting her to bed MUST repeat (or hysterics are involved) the following sequence as sort of a call and response as we are walking out the door.
H: I love you
M or D: I love you
H: Sweet dreams
M or D: Sweet dreams
M or D: Bye
M or D: Goodnight
This sequence used to be repeated over and over again multiple times until it was timed just perfectly to slip out the door and lock it before she could start it again. There were times I must have said it 10 times through or more. If we stopped in the middle or tried to tell her we weren't going to say it anymore OR if we didn't hear her start the sequence again as we were shutting the door then she would scream hysterically something to the order of "I need sweet dreams Mommy." or whatever portion we failed to repeat. Ignoring the hysterics were no use and one just had to suck it up and go back in there and finish up the sequence. At first I thought she was using it as a stalling technique since she is a MASTER at stalling, especially before bedtime, but as time went on I realized that it was a comfort routine for her that helped her settle down to sleep. Still there came a point where comfort or not, eventually I could take it no longer. I sat her down about an hour prior to nap time one day and told her we were only going to say I love you, sweet dreams, bye, goodnight one time and then we were going to leave. I reminded her of this fact as we were getting ready for her nap and then again just as the sequence was about to start. After the end of the sequence that nap she asked, "One time?" and I replied, "Just one time." and that was the end of that. She lay down and went to sleep. I congratulated myself for my brilliance and wondered why I hadn't done this sooner, after all Hannah is a smart girl and can often be reasoned with if she's not already on the path towards a meltdown. At bedtime that same night I reminded Hannah about the new one time rule and then went on about her bedtime routine. When we got to the final goodnight she again questioned, "One time?" Again I answered, "Just one time." Just as I was about to shut the door she said, "All done?" and I replied, "All done," and quickly shut the door. From that day on, "one time?" and "all done" became added to the nightly goodnight sequence, but so far the cycle has stopped there. Hopefully I have not replaced one monster with another that will cause this sequence to grow in length continually instead of merely repeating itself, but right now we are holding steady. So, I choose to continue to think my one time rule was brilliant and can fully enjoy a sweet goodnight exchange with my daughter.
Speaking of comfort, Hannah has been having a lot of anxiety lately and has been really leaning heavily on any sort of comfort she can find and has developed some new "techniques" I'll call them to bring herself comfort. The first one is sleeping with the light on. Every night or nap time we turn out her light after her story. She then lays down for us to sing her a song. After the song she says, "I can turn the light on if I want to?" She waits until we are done with her routine and we are out of the room and then she gets out of bed and turns her light back on. I don't think she's scared of the dark. She could be, but she hasn't verbalized any fear about the darkness or monsters or anything. So, I just think it's a comfort thing. She likes her light on and it's comforting for her to have control over turning it on. Another comfort thing she's developed is constantly asking questions she already knows the answer to to get reassurance. For example, lately she's been a bit shy about big dogs. I'm not sure what sparked this hesitation, but it's there. Whenever we are going somewhere where she knows there will be a dog she says where she wants the dog to be in the form of a question. Here's an example, "Finn will be in the barn?" or "Sidney will be outside?" She knows that most likely those dogs WON'T be where she says they will be and seems to just be looking for reassurance that she needs to prepare herself for the dog and that she'll be ok.
I don't think I posted earlier on Hannah's Halloween experience. This year we were invited to go trick or treating with some friends of ours. Last year we didn't take Hannah trick or treating. She just dressed up in her costume and helped pass out candy. We also went this year to the Halloween open house that the gym where Hannah has gymnastics at had. They had several obstacle courses set up for the kids and the gym was all decorated for Halloween. It was a blast and Hannah didn't want to leave to go trick or treating when it was time to go! I was worried about how she would do trick or treating. I thought the other kids in costume might scare her or going up and talking to all those strangers would freak her out, but she did great! She was a little shy, but by the end of the night she was boldly walking up to houses alone and saying trick or treat and even remembering to say thank you! I was so proud of my little girl!
Friday, November 07, 2008
OH MY GOSH! Where are the aliens that snatched my daughter?!?! The past few weeks have been especially rough in our house. Hannah is fully ensconced in the terrible twos and I'm about ready for a nervous breakdown. To make matters worse, Kyle leaves for a week long business trip on Monday. Pray for me that the aliens will return my daughter quickly!
Toddlers are defiant. They are independent. They push the limits. They have tantrums. Hannah apparently knows what is expected of her because she has been displaying all of these behaviors in massive quantities the past few weeks. Yesterday and today were the worst. I have basically spent 48 hours of continuous tantrum/sensory meltdown. It has been absolutely insane. Hannah will be defiant and get in trouble. Then she'll have a tantrum because she is in trouble. Then the tantrum escalates and gets so out of hand that she basically throws herself into sensory overload. At this point the discipline has ceased to be effective AND it is no longer possible to reason with her or even bring her out of the meltdown. This morning, what started as basic toddler defiance-refusing to get dressed because she wanted to play instead- ended up in a 45 minute meltdown that seriously altered the fun outing we had planned for the day and eventually spawned several more tantrums turned meltdowns as the morning drew on.
Not only am I having a rough time of all of this, but Hannah is suffering too. She's so anxiety stricken that she's gnawed her thumbs and sides of her hands raw. I had just got the bad spots on her thumbs cleared up and now in the space of only 2 days one of them is bleeding again and she has teeth marks all over the other hand. I've been redirecting her as much as possible, but they are her hands and I'm not with her every single minute. Usually this chewing is reserved for socially stressful situations, but lately we've been seeing it at home too. This worries me.
I took Hannah to the doctor on Wednesday for a check on how she's doing with therapy and to take a look at her feet. His response to her feet was, "Holy Cow! She over pronates like crazy." He agreed with us that she runs funny-that's a technical term by the way :) He said it's possible that she "could" grow out of it since she's still developing, but that it's unlikely. He said he recommended that we take her to a pediatric orthopedic specialist to determine if it's severe enough to need treatment with orthotics or braces at her age to prevent future problems as she grows and matures or if we can just wait and see what happens. He didn't feel he was qualified to make that call. He was also concerned about some of her anxiety and her lack of progress in dealing with others emotions. He's referring us to a developmental pediatrician at the Riley Developmental Clinic (for those of you out of state, it's the state's premier children's hospital) for a consultation and some testing. Apparently it takes FOREVER to get an appointment. We don't have our date yet, but I'm sure it will be at least several months before we get in. If they can help then it'll be worth the wait though.