Adoption Interview

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2012

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Christmas Crazies

Boy has our house been full of the Christmas Crazies lately. You would think that being a thousand miles away from family and most of our friends that we would have a peaceful, low key holiday season. You would THINK, but that was not the case. Hannah was totally WIRED about Christmas this year and as a result her impulse control was even shakier than usual. She managed to have a blast and so did we, but it came with some truly tense moments. It didn't help that Kyle was out of commission for most of the season having just had his tonsils out. We were basically a one parent household with our normal routine thrown to the wind-not a recipe for success.

All the commercialization surrounding the season and generous family members who love spoiling Hannah with gifts and candy made it hard to get her focused on the reason for the season and the gimmies reared their ugly head. Hard as we tired to reinforce the meaning of Christmas, I feel that Hannah was so fixated on presents that much of what we did went in one ear and out the other :( Those gimmies are a nasty bug to get rid of and they led to some spectacular meltdowns, even causing the "library curse" to strike again. While at the library Christmas party some kids came up to me complaining that Hannah would not let another little boy play with them. When I went to talk to her about it she freaked out and tried to run away from me. When I caught up with her she started hitting and kicking so we had to take an early leave of the party. The children's room was PACKED to the gills because of the party so I had quite an audience as I attempted to wrestle Hannah, her boots which she kept kicking off and sending them flying across the room, her winter coat which she refused to let me put on her, my camera, and the leftover party snacks we had brought out of the library and into the car. It was NOT a pretty sight.

The joy on Hannah's face Christmas morning however made all the craziness worth it. The wonder she expressed at how Santa managed to get into her room while she was sleeping to leave her a new book and a stuffed Bolt dog just inside her bedroom door, the smile she flashed and the absolute speechlessness that overcame her when she saw her dollhouse under the tree, the genuine thank you hugs she gave Kyle and I for the gifts, it was all just glorious. We've spent a good many hours the past two days playing new games and moving little 3 inch dolls around their new home. Hannah even loaded up the roof of their car with all of their furniture and drove it around the dining room when it was time for them to move!

One nice thing about having so much down time the last couple of days has been that I've had the opportunity to have some serious conversations with Hannah. We were able to talk about what it means to be saved and have Jesus in her heart and how exactly to do that and also what it means if someone is not saved and dies before they ask Jesus into their heart. She definitely seems to be processing everything and has had many questions about "the bad place" as she has dubbed it. She's not ready to make a decision for Christ just yet, but the seeds have been planted and it's up for Kyle and I to tend to them and to God to help them grow. She does know she doesn't want to go to "the bad place," but truly deciding to always try to make decisions that please Jesus seems a like too much work to her.

With all the talk about heaven and hell and what happens to people when they die, I'm expecting some tough questions about what happens to animals when they die as well because one of our dogs has recently been given 2 weeks to live by our vet. We've had Abby for pretty much as long as Kyle and I have been married and of course Hannah has never known life without her. Even though Hannah isn't particularly attached to Abby (she's 18 years old and has never been particularly lively since Hannah's been alive!) she doesn't care for change and Abby's been a constant, dependable presence her entire life. I'm expecting Abby's death will rock her world, not because she'll be grieving a loss of a friend like I will be, but because her routine will change. Maybe she'll surprise me and be really sad about Abby being gone, but I don't think so. The other day I tried to broach the subject of prepping her for the event and she replied, "I don't care. I'll still have another dog. I'll have Sally. She's my dog." Whatever happens, it's going to be tough. That I'm sure of.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Leader---Or Just Bossy

Lately Hannah's been coming out of her shell a bit socially, at least with kids she knows pretty well. With this new found social interest has come another set of problems for my little girl. As she plays with her friends she MUST be in control of the entire situation. She orders around her playmates with the force of a drill instructor. "You go there! No! No playing with the blocks! We are playing tag. Here's the plan. You go over there and wait for me until I get there. Then I'll tell you what to do next." Sometimes the kids just go along with it. For example, at the library this week she had a whole posse following her around the children's library obeying her every command. It was actually quite impressive to watch, if not a little disturbing. Other times the children come complaining to the adults that Hannah won't let someone else play, or won't let them choose what they want to do, or that she is simply being too bossy. I worry that if she keeps this up then some of the kids she loves to play with will no longer want to play with her. In fact, I've seen that in certain situations already although the kids have always given her another chance on a different day.

I feel like it's such a fine line to walk to decide how best to handle this. I don't want to squelch any leadership potential she has, but at the same time I don't want her to alienate herself from the other kids just when she finally seems able to make friends. The problem is that she has a very limited ability to put herself in someone else's shoes. She can't transfer how she feels when she is excluded or forced to do something she doesn't want to do to how other children might feel when she does the same thing. We talk about it over and over again, but it doesn't seem to be sinking in. What I wish would happen is for another child to stand up to her in a firm yet gentle way and basically put her in her place without completely breaking her spirit.

In case you hadn't guessed it, Hannah is back home and I'm very happy about that. It's been a bit of a bumpy road reintegrating into the routine of home life for her though. We've been seeing a lot of aggression and pushing of boundaries. I'm sure the fact that Christmas is coming isn't helping in that respect! The hardest time we've been having is my nemesis, tooth brushing and washing up. Getting ready to go in the morning and getting ready for bed at night have simply been a nightmare since she's been back. It's where we've experienced most of our aggression and almost all of our meltdowns. So far I'm not seeing much to cheer about with 123 Magic. Kyle still thinks its making a difference, but I'm much harder to convince. He's not been the one who has been being scratched, hit, and kicked!

We did learn a surprising new fact about Hannah though. She can do simple addition problems (sums under 10) in her head now and has many of them memorized. She's also begun doing some subtraction and division in her head as well! She really does amaze me sometimes with the things she just spouts off that I had no idea she knew. Lately she's been very curious about words and their meanings. She asks me about dozens of words a day- some are words I've said or words she's heard on TV, others are words we read in books. Later she likes to try out her new words in novel ways. Sometimes she's successful in using them correctly, but more often I get to have a nice private laugh at some of the sentences she comes up with! :)

Friday, December 03, 2010


So today I got my telephone bill for last month and on it was a charge from the hospital where I stayed two nights in October. The charge was apparently for the fact that I HAD a TV and a telephone in my room. Not for the fact that I used them, but for the fact that they were there. When I called to inquire about the charge I was informed that if I didn't want these services then I needed to opt out of them when I was admitted. Seriously? I was supposed to know this? This is the 3 rd hospital that I've been admitted to over the course of my lifetime (not counting when I was born) and Hannah's been admitted to two different hospitals from that and this is the first time we've ever been charged for TV or local telephone access. How was I supposed to know I needed to opt out? And really, what kind of cold hearted business makes people confined to a bed (or who's children are confined to a hospital bed) pay for TV? That's just mean. What else is a kid supposed to do when they aren't allowed to get up and move around? A parent can only handle reading them so many books. I can only imagine if we had been charged for TV and phone service when Hannah was in the hospital for 2 weeks as in infant. Our cell phones didn't get coverage in her room and even if they did we weren't supposed to have them on because they supposedly affected some medical machinery, but yet we had hundreds of people wanting to know how Hannah was and if they could come visit. Then there was us, brand new parents, sick with worry for our only child, stuck inside the hospital for 2 weeks. In fact, we weren't just stuck inside the hospital, but stuck inside her room because Hannah was in isolation and wasn't allowed out of the room and anyone who entered had to gown up before coming in. It was just too big of a pain to leave the room. So, what did we do? We watched TV. Of course we read books and talked to each other and the nurses and our occasional visitor, but mostly we watched a lot of cable TV. What would our bill have been for that privilege if we had been in Kent County Hospital instead of the hospital we were at? I'll tell you. It would have been $300 just for the privilege of having the TV in our room. If you can't tell, I'm a little fired up by this bill. In the hospital they charge you for every little thing and for some things I can deal with it. For example, I wasn't allowed to take my own doctor prescribed prescription medication which I brought with me and had already paid for. Instead I had to take the same medication given to me by the hospital pharmacy and administered by a nurse and pay for it again and pay for the nurse to give it to me (or tell me I'd already had it and I couldn't have it that day when I HAD NOT already taken it and by golly she wasn't going to stop me from taking it!, but that's another story). That I can deal with. But paying for TV in my room. That is just too much. If they don't want to foot the bill for having TV at their hospital then don't put TVs in the rooms, but don't make people choose whether or not to have it in their rooms or make them pay for it when they didn't even know it was something they had to pay for. GRRR. . . . .

To update everyone on Hannah's stay in Indiana, she's still having a blast and apparently she managed to sweet talk Mamaw and Papaw out of not just one, but two pillow pets. She received both of the ones she's been coveting-the purple unicorn and the dog. Now I don't see what all the fuss about Pillow Pets is. They are cute enough, but not really any cuter than any other stuffed animal. Still, they are all the rage within the preschool and early elementary school set and Hannah is no exception. She's been asking for these pillow pets pathetically ever since they first appeared on the scene this summer. I absolutely refused to pay $20 for a poor quality stuffed animal with a Velcro strap around it's belly, but not Mamaw apparently. Apparently Mamaw already had purchased the unicorn and then later in the visit took Hannah to Walmart and allowed her to buy the dog. So much for my firm stand against Pillow Pets. It must be something to do with grandmas though because I happen to know that in a neatly wrapped box sitting in our basement are those exact same two Pillow Pets from Mindy (Pap's girlfriend of many years and Hannah's pseudo Nana). It looks like we'll have 4 pillow pets in the house soon! I wonder if she'll want the duplicates or if she'll want to trade in the extras for yet two different animals?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Missing My Baby

Last week we spent traveling to the Midwest for Thanksgiving. We had a wonderful trip, exponentially better than the same trip last year thanks to a certain little electronic device that I broke down and bought (portable DVD player), but now I'm sitting here lonely because we are home without Hannah. You see, Hannah stayed behind with my mom to have fun and visit more family that we didn't have time to fit into our brief visit because Kyle had to get back to work for Monday. Hannah's having the time of her life playing with cousins, staying up late, and making cookies and Christmas decorations, but I'm missing her desperately. The house just seems so empty, quiet and lonely. I know it's a good thing for Hannah to have this opportunity since we live so far away, but I still selfishly want her with me. I've called her every single night so far. She doesn't appear to be homesick at all. I suppose chasing little black kittens around in the fresh air will do that to you.

I know you are all dying to know about our trip so here goes. We left on Saturday morning. We had intended to let Hannah go to her dance class and then leave from there, but an hour long tantrum to start the day caused us to miss dance. Still, once we got into the car things went very well and we made great time. Hannah and I alternated between doing school work and watching movies. We stopped somewhere in PA and got a hotel for the night. Hannah was a wild woman at the hotel jumping on the bed and shouting at the top of her lungs. When it came time to strap her into her braces and go to bed she complained about being lonely (we were in the bed right next to her for pete's sake!) and grunted and grumbled until she fell asleep. It was all we could do to keep quiet while she carried on! We were up relatively early the next morning and then drove the leg into Columbus, OH without incident. In fact, we arrived much earlier than they were expecting us thanks to the fantastic time we had made the day before. Hannah had fun playing with Pap and Mindy and climbing around in the woods with Baba (Kyle's grandma). Baba sure can hike with the best of them considering she's in her 80's! Baba took us out to lunch and spoiled Hannah with lots of Christmas presents. Hannah, however, in her not so tactful 4 year old way, generously pointed out that she already had 2 of the books that Baba gave her and that the 3rd one was the wrong book. She had asked for an Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) chapter book and this was an Ariel (Little Mermaid) chapter book. ~Sigh~ It looks like we have even more lessons on how to be a grateful receiver of gifts on our plate. Then we headed off to the Columbus Zoo to check out the animals and the Christmas lights. Hannah had a blast feeding and brushing the goats and then managed to make Mrs. Claus feel about "this big" (imagine my thumb and index finger very close together) when she offered to pass along a message to Santa about what she wanted for Christmas for her (we had chosen not to wait in the ridiculously long line to see him and had instead peeked around to the end of the line to watch Santa passing out candy canes to the kids as they exited his lap) and Hannah told her that she wanted Santa to know that what she really wanted was one of his candy canes! Poor Mrs. Claus didn't have any candy canes! She was pretty much helpless. It was heartbreaking and humorous all at the same time.

The next day we headed to Indiana and Hannah had her first meltdown of the actual trip. While it was not pleasant, I'd call it a huge victory that we made it to within an hour of our final destination before she had one. At Grandma's Hannah had fun chasing around and carrying a little black kitten for hours at a time. That poor cat really earned it's keep that day! While in Indiana we visited Lafayette to see our friends the Bowe's and Hannah got to play with her friend Evelyn. They were so cute together. We barely saw them they spent so much time holed up in Evelyn's room playing with her dollhouse. Then we spent Thanksgiving Day with my mom's side of the family. Hannah had a blast hanging out with the "big kids" and playing Bingo for prizes. She was even faster than I was at reading the Thanksgiving themed words on her card and finding them before the caller called out the next word. Then on Friday we visited with my dad and my aunts Jo and Terri and my cousin Becky in the morning/afternoon and then headed over to Tiffany's house (Hannah's birthmother) for dinner and to spend the evening. At Jo and Terri's Hannah had a blast chasing their cat and playing Wii. She really loves the fencing on Wii Sports resort and she's actually pretty good at it. Terri spoiled her rotten by giving her a few of her little knick-knacks and her father's old keyboard. I can't wait until Hannah's home so we can give the keyboard a whirl. At Tiffany's house Hannah turned into a wild woman again. I suppose an entire week of over stimulation will do that to a kid, but boy was she wild- not the finest representation of our parenting skills! Hannah had so much fun with Chase and Kayla though. They played on the trampoline, Chase gave horsey rides/bucking bronco rides, they watched a movie, and wrestled like siblings that have never been separated. It was lovely to watch. Hannah even gave both Donna and Charlie (Hannah's birthgrandparents) hugs which she has been hesitant to do in the past. It was a great visit.

Then, on Saturday Kyle and I headed back to RI and Hannah stayed with my mom. Now I'm here typing this childless. I suppose it was fortunate for both me and Hannah that Hannah stayed with mom because today I'm sick. I've vomited 3 times already today and Hannah's hates to see me get sick. It makes her so nervous when I throw up, while at the same time she doesn't seem to be able to take it easy on me when I can't do everything she wants to do. So, I suppose for today at least I'm grateful she's there, but I still miss her.
Photo Notes: The picture with Hannah in the dog crate with BOTH of the dogs was not my doing. I came downstairs one morning and found them all 3 in there together. Hannah had coaxed both of the dogs in there and then got in herself and locked them all in. Even though she was able to lock herself in she was unable to get the crate unlocked from the inside so they were all stuck there until I decided to release them. I couldn't resist snapping a picture before I did so though!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

And the Results Are . . . . . .

Sorry it has taken me so long to post the results of Hannah's evaluations, but I've been in the midst of processing all that we learned-that and we traveled to Indiana for 9 days. Basically what we found out was that Hannah does not have enough clinical diagnostic criteria to receive a diagnosis of Asperger's anymore. She has simply grown out of it. She apparently still has many aspie traits and is "quirky", but not quirky enough to be technically on the spectrum anymore. Maybe I need to change the name of my blog again. Too bad. I really liked the title M came up with. I may just keep it anyway. She also does not have enough diagnostic criteria for ADHD or Bipolar, but she has too many red flags for each of them to rule either of them out at this point. Those two are on a watch and see status at the moment. She'll be reevaluated for them in a few years (or sooner if we have new issues crop up). Her behaviors are, however, abnormal. They are abnormal in intensity, frequency, and duration. They are abnormal enough they warrant a diagnosis, but don't fit any particular diagnosis. Therefore she gets Disruptive Behavior Disorder-NOS (not otherwise specified). You have to love that NOS catch all moniker. It was recommend that we work with a behavioural therapist to get her negative behaviours under control and to help teach her how to manage her strong emotions. The psychologist specifically mentioned that we should try 123 Magic (and The Active Alert Child) as a starting point while we are waiting to get in with a therapist. We've bought the book and implemented phase 1 of their program. Kyle thinks it is helping. I'm still up in the air about it. After all of our failures with other methods I can't help but be critical until proven otherwise. So, none of this that the psychologist told us surprised us too much, until she got to the final portion of Hannah's evaluations-the IQ test. Here's where we were in for the shock of our lives. Now, we knew Hannah was smart. We knew she was academically gifted in reading and had extremely precocious verbal language skills. What we did not anticipate was that Hannah would test as profoundly gifted, into the highest level of giftedness possible, that she would score higher than 99.7% of the population on her test! That threw us for a loop. How do we even process that kind of intelligence? We knew our local public school wasn't going to be right for her, but now we have to wonder if any of the private schools will be able to accommodate her long term even. The only gifted school even close to us is well over an hour away and charges over $25,000 a year for Kindergarten! We obviously don't have that kind of money. According to the psychologist, Hannah's extreme intelligence is currently working against her instead of for her with regards to her behavior. The Disruptive Behavior Disorder-NOS and her IQ have melded together to create the perfect storm. So, we are feeling out our options and having to learn an entirely new path. Anyone who has been down this road before us is encouraged to comment and help me out. Lord knows I could use the help.
Photo Notes: The first two photos are of Hannah trying out Daddy's mountain biking gear in the back seat of the car. It's one of her favorite car trip activities! The last photo is of her being silly while I tried to take a serious picture of her painting. She was concentrating so hard I wanted to capture the moment, but she has a tendency to get wild when the camera comes out so we have very few serious photos!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Long Awaited Day

Tomorrow is the big day. After going through a series of evaluations with the new psychologist and filling out a BUNCH of forms, we finally get to meet with Hannah's psychologist to hear the results of all of the testing. I'm extremely anxious, but at the same time ready to finally (hopefully) learn what is at the root of all of our struggles and begin to formulate a game plan. We've had a few good stretches since having Hannah evaluated, but for the most part our days have been a struggle. The simplest tasks turn into fights and all attempts at discipline send her into a complete rage. I am so hoping that the psychologist will be able to help us be more effective parents and just generally help Hannah to be happier.

Last week there was one particularly bad day where I had about had it. The day had started with Hannah making the decision to go into the back of her closet, move some things around, disrobe and pee all over the carpet. Keep in mind she is fully potty trained, had the opportunity to choose to go to the bathroom, and that it most likely took her longer to get settled in her place at the back of the closet than it would have to walk to the bathroom. :( I have no idea why she chose to do that. The day progressed with meltdowns, rages, screaming, and frustration. Then at the end of the day I was informing Hannah about the loss of her bedtime privileges after another series of particularly bad choices and she looked at me and said, "Now, now, Let's not make any rash decisions." I about lost it! Somehow I managed to keep a straight face and hold my ground. Kyle on the other hand was listening from another room and he broke down into hysterical laughter. Way to back me up huh?

Our days truly are a roller coaster here. One minute we are down so low I wonder if we can find our way back up and then she pulls a ridiculous one liner like that out and we are flying high without a care in the world. Oh how I love that little girl. I just don't know what I'd do without her.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Where's October

Seriously, what on earth happened to October? I feel like I went to sleep one day and when I woke up, "BAM!" October had mysteriously vanished and we were well on our way into November. So, just to prove to myself that October did indeed happen, here's a recap of our month.

Hannah played soccer the whole month although we really must use that term loosely. It's more like she whined and complained about soccer the whole month, but refused to actually quit. Soccer is now over and we can all breathe a huge sigh of relief that we will never make that mistake again! (She sure did love her uniform though!)

The first week of the month my dad came to visit and we carted him around the whole week to all of Hannah's appointments and classes. He got to go grocery shopping, to the dentist, to OT, to soccer, to the doctor, to the museum, to a zoo class and to an animal class at the YMCA. The poor guy didn't get to do ANYTHING touristy or restful! The day my dad left, Kyle's brother and his fiance arrived for 4 days with their dog/small horse. Hannah loved Kahlua even though she outweighed her by close to 100 pounds! While our guests were here I managed to come down with an awful cough that decided to hang out for ALL of October (more about that later).

Eventually, all of our guests were gone and we dove head first into homeschool and unburrying the house after two straight weeks of house guests. Homeschooling has been going well and Hannah's flying right along with the curriculum we've chosen as well as all the extra stuff we've picked out to supplement the work and to get her social experiences.

My cough continued to build until finally one Sunday I woke up and just could not get out of bed. On top of my cough I ached all over, had a fever, and my neck was so stiff I could barely move it. The next day I tried to get a doctor's appointment, but my doctor was completely booked so I attempted to go about my business, but just could not do it. I eventually decided that I had to be seen that day and called the doctor to ask whether she thought I needed to go to urgent care or to the ER. Apparently that got her attention and they told me to come in right at closing time and they'd squeeze me in. Shortly after looking at me, the decision was made that I needed to go to the ER because she feared that I either had septicemia or meningitis. I knew I could not effectively control Hannah in the ER while I was being checked over so I called a friend to see if I could drop her off there for a few hours until Kyle would be home from work and she instead insisted on coming to pick both Hannah and I up and drove me to the ER and took Hannah back to her house. Hannah ended up staying with them for two days because I ended up being admitted to the hospital. They too suspected meningitis, but were unable to do a lumbar puncture on me. The resident tried twice and then called in the attending physician who also tried twice with no success. Apparently my vertebrae are too close together to pass a needle between them. Good thing I've never given birth because I would have been seriously ticked to have been in labor expecting an epidural and be told they couldn't do it because they were unable to get the needle in there! Fortunately it was determined that I did not in fact have meningitis, but instead a nasty case of bronchitis and a viral infection that had piggy-backed along on top of it. Since I take immune suppressant drugs for my autoimmune disease, my body was unable to fight off the two simultaneous infections and had become basically overwhelmed. They stopped my medication, pumped me full of fluids and multiple IV antibiotics and then sent me home. Since coming home I've been on bed rest for several days (although I had a hard time following those orders) and now I'm back on light duty. I'm feeling much better, but I'm not 100% yet. The bronchitis is still hanging on and I tire very quickly. Hopefully I'll kick it soon.

In the midst of all of this sickness, soccer, and visitors I also managed to make my first ever Halloween costume. Hannah is obsessed with the movie Bolt and desperately wanted to be Bolt for Halloween. Unfortunately the Disney Store doesn't sell a Bolt costume so I was left with the decision of telling her to pick something else (not something I wanted to do) or make it myself. My mother is a brilliant crafter and my sister and I always had fantastic hand made Halloween costumes (we were those kids who always won the costume contests at all the fall festivals!), but I DID NOT inherit her talent for sewing or ANY of her crafty genes. Much blood, sweat, and tears went into the making of that darn costume, but I got it done. I also learned the hard way that the words on the back of a bottle of fabric glue are LIES! ALL LIES! Just in case you ever decide to pick up a bottle and want to believe their claims that it permanently bonds two pieces of fabric together. But I digress, Hannah loved it! I thought it wasn't too bad for my first try, however on Halloween night she received many comments along the lines of, "Oh, what a cute bunny!" By the end of the night she had grown pretty testy about it and was snipping back at them, "I'm not a rabbit I'm a dog! I'm Bolt" despite my repeated lectures about being polite. ~Sigh~

We also made a big decision in October. We decided that after the first of the year we will officially jump back into the adoption process. We are very excited about it and Hannah is already asking regularly when her new brother or sister is coming. It's hard to get a 4 year old to understand the concept of waiting a year or more to get through all the paperwork and matching process. This time instead of doing a private agency adoption for an infant we plan on going through the foster care system and adopting an older child. Now, when I say older child, we are still planning on the child being younger than Hannah, but not necessarily an infant. Although you never know how God will work. We could find our selves welcoming an infant or a teenager instead of a toddler into our house. You just never can tell. We know God will point us in the right direction though.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Check Your Facts

Hannah had a serious crisis on Thursday. While at the library she found a book on bearded dragons. This is the same type of lizard that happens to be the class pet at her animal class at the YMCA. During the very first class they met this particular lizard (named Spice) and were told lots of interesting facts about bearded dragons, one of which was that unlike many other lizards, the bearded dragon's tail will not grown back after it falls off. WELL . . . . . upon reading that book from the library a page was found that stated that the bearded dragon's tail would indeed grow back after it had fallen off. Hannah was aghast. But her teacher had said! This conflict just would not do. So Hannah insisted on bringing the book with her to class later on that day to read the teacher the page that talked about the tails. She marched right into the room, interrupted the teacher who was still talking on her cell phone and not quite ready for class, and began leafing through the book to find the important page. She then began to read in a very authoritative tone that the bearded dragon can indeed grow its tail back. The teacher didn't quite know what to say. She appeared to be in shock although I'm not sure if it was from being called out by a 4 year old or the fact that she had just witnessed said 4 year old reading fluently from a book designed for 2nd graders! She did recover quite nicely though and managed to gracefully admit that she might possibly be wrong and that she'd check her facts and report back next week as to whether it was her or the book that had their facts mixed up. It was all I could do not to laugh out loud, but it also gave me a feeling of dread. This was probably the first of many, many instances when my little one will want to correct a teacher and if we don't start working on how to respectfully disagree with an adult now, I can see her ending up in some serious trouble!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

New Psychologist

After the fiasco of the last psychologist we searched long and hard before finding our newest doctor to help us better parent Hannah. We first went to meet her without Hannah and discussed our concerns. I felt like she really listened to us and asked all the right questions. Her next step was to set up an evaluation for Hannah, as well as send us home with a HUGE packet of questionnaires, check lists, and rating scales to fill out about Hannah as well as some for her teacher at preschool. I brought almost 2 hours worth of video containing the behaviors we were concerned about and the doctor promised to watch it. Then she went over the things she felt were the most likely culprits for Hannah's behaviors. Her list was long and scary and she said that everything on it needed to be ruled in or out before we could create a plan of action. On her list to check out were Asperger's, ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, and Early Onset Bipolar Disorder. Asperger's doesn't scare me. We came to terms with that almost 2 years ago. The problem is that Hannah no longer seems to be exhibiting a lot of the symptoms that were the key diagnostic factors for it. She still has many "aspie traits" but I have a feeling she no longer qualifies for diagnosis. Her problems are different now. She cannot handle having limits set and has grown quite aggressive, manipulative, and very moody. Now that all the testing is done we are just waiting to get the call to come back in to discuss what the doctor has found and what her opinions are. I'm anxious about what we might hear as some of those disorders she listed feel quite scary to me and require life long medication. However, at the same time I'm ready for an answer so that we can get on our way to helping our little girl.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ehler's Danlos Syndrome

If you are a regular reader here you know that Hannah is EXTREMELY flexible, like you can take her thumb and bend it sideways to lay it flush with her wrist kind of flexible. She also has really flat feet and her feet collapse outward significantly. An orthopedist had been watching this since she was about 18 months old using the wait and see approach. Last October when Hannah starting complaining of pain in her hips we were back to the doctor again and she was given AFOs for her shoes and pronounced at the extreme edge of normal as far as joint laxity. The doctor called it hypermobility syndrome. Well it was time for her yearly follow-up last week and I believed that Hannah had outgrown her AFOs because she was complaining that they hurt her feet which she hasn't done since getting used to wearing them last year. Besides checking out the AFOs the doctor completely reevaluated her because of some concerning trends he had noticed in her gait. Because she's heavier now her ligaments are under even greater strain and her feet, ankles, and knees are showing the stress and are starting to show the effects of over compensation. It was hoped that her ligaments would tighten some with age and that the AFOs would be a temporary thing. Unfortunately, things did not improve. In fact, they got worse. After the evaluation the doctor informed me that Hannah had a mild form of a genetic disorder called Ehler's Danlos Syndrome. I don't know much about the disorder yet, but from what I understand it is mainly a defect in the production of collagen. Because the collagen is defective ligaments, blood vessels, skin, and anything else made of collagen are suspect to problems. So far, it appears that Hannah really only has issues with her ligaments and skin, but the doctor wants her to probably go see a cardiologist in about 6 months to get a baseline idea of her heart health in case any issues crop up as she gets older. There is no cure for Ehler's Danlos unfortunately, but the symptoms can be treated individually. So, Hannah had her AFO's adjusted, thank heavens she hadn't outgrown them since they cost $600 a pair and are NOT covered by insurance. She is also going to have to wear something called a Dennis Brown bar at night for 6 moths to a year (then she'll be reevaluated to see if it's helping or if she'll need surgery). I am SO NOT looking forward to this bar. It is basically a pair of shoes attached to a metal bar that holds the legs in a fixed position. They used to be used for infants a lot in past generations to correct bowlegs, in toeing, etc, but now they are basically a thing of the past and I can find absolutely NO information on them being used in a child as old as Hannah. Everything I have read about them show them being used on immobile kids. In fact, the idea of kid Hannah's age using them is so far fetched that when I went to order the special shoes that have to be bolted to the bar, the medical equipment guy had to look through several manufacturer catalogs before he found a place that even made Hannah's size (size 12 in case you were wondering!). Hannah hates wearing shoes and we have a hard enough time keeping her in her shoes during the day so I'm dreading trying to get her to wear what look like very uncomfortable shoes at bedtime. To make matters worse, she's a belly and side sleeper and with this bar she will have to sleep on her back. She also wakes at least once a night to go to the bathroom and I'm not sure how she's going to let us know she's awake if she can't get up out of bed and walk to the door to knock on it like she does now. We are definitely going to have a big learning curve here soon once the shoes come in. Wish us luck.

Monday, September 13, 2010


So. . . . . Soccer has been interesting. Hannah insists that she wants to do it, but whines pretty much the entire time during practices and games saying she's thirsty, tired, hungry, etc. I'm not sure if she likes it or not. One thing is for sure, she definitely DOES NOT get the concept of a soccer game. If the ball is near her she will kick it and she will sorta run after the ball along with the rest of the herd, but if another person is near the ball she will not kick it, nor will she try to kick the ball more than once or steal it from another player. Most of her games are spent wandering around the field not paying attention and then running when Kyle tells her she needs to run! I think she may not be quite mature enough for a competitive team sport. It has been interesting to see that for all her aggressive tendencies she shies away from using them on the field to her advantage and actually gets intimidated by the more aggressive players on the opposing team. If only karate hadn't been a bust. That might have been right up her alley, but we won't soon find out since we showed up again for the first class of the session last week only to have the instructor be a no show AGAIN! Then I found out today that the session is cancelled. I think next session (starts in November) we'll try swimming since she has really been enjoying that with Kyle and has made great strides as far as going under and propelling herself around the pool. Who knows how well she'll do in an organized class, but it's worth a shot.

Hannah has once again had a huge leap in her reading abilities and is now breezing through chapters out of chapter books. This past weekend we all camped out in our backyard and Hannah decided to get up at 4:30am. Kyle and I of course were not about to wake up that early and so Hannah picked up the only book in the tent, Stuart Little by E.B. White and began reading. I lay there and listened to her read two whole chapters. There were a few words over those two chapters that she stumbled over, but on the whole she did fantastic. Holy Cow! Stuart Little is at 3rd grade reading level if I remember correctly. I lay wide awake and stunned, unable to go to sleep for fear that I'd miss her amazing performance. Another recent obsession of hers is counting, counting for a LONG TIME. She's been able to count to 100 for a few years now, but now she can do it fast and without thinking at all so she's been constantly counting to 100 and then starting over and then over and over. The thought had never occurred to us to teach her to go past 100, but the other day Kyle asked her, "Hannah, what comes after 100?" She didn't know so he said 101 and then asked her what came next. She immediately got the pattern and now she can count absolutely as far as she wants. She hasn't made it to 1000 yet, but that's only because she usually gets tired of counting or we make her stop before she gets there!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pretend Cousins

We've had our fair share of imaginary friends in the house the last few years and even some that were actually real people, but who weren't actually at our house! Currently Hannah's imaginary people are 4 pretend cousins. The thing that cracks me up about these four girls is their names: Julie (nice and normal) Monica and Hanukkah (they are twins!), and English (where did that come from?). Hanukkah and Monica crack me up the most. I think the fact that they have rhyming names and are twins is hilarious and don't even get me started on the one being named Hanukkah! We aren't Jewish. I guess she's just a multicultural girl when it comes to naming her imaginary friends! Her pretend cousins do EVERYTHING with her. They are a constant presence at our house. Julie seems to be the most active, although Monica and Hanukkah are quite the little tricksters too. English comes over less often, but she's still around enough that we can't forget about her! I wonder how long this current group of friends will last?

Hannah starts soccer this week and she is super excited. The first practice was supposed to be tonight, but it's raining so practice has been cancelled. She's still at school so she doesn't know yet. She's going to be crushed, especially after the karate class ordeal. At least I know this is a reputable league and she WILL get to play games and go to practices. I found her some cleats at a consignment sale that look like they have hardly been worn. She already had the appropriate size soccer ball. So, all we had to get her were black soccer shorts for her uniform and shin guards. Oh does she look cute in those cleats and shin guards! She's actually getting quite good at kicking the ball too. This is a skill that's been a long time in coming. For some reason kicking an object (not a person though!) has been difficult for her for some time. Add in kicking a moving object or moving while you are kicking and it was basically impossible. She has yet to kick the ball while it is moving, but she is starting to be able to run up to the ball and kick it without stopping to set up for the kick. I'll be interested to see how quickly (or not) her skills improve as the season progresses. In two weeks karate starts again and we're going to give it one more try. She'll be quite busy on the athletic front which should be good for her. We are currently being reminded of how tough things can get when she's not physically active enough since it's been raining for 5 days straight and she's been unable to use her basement playroom (where all her sensory swings, mini tramp, etc are located) because of a flea problem. UGH! It has not been pretty. I'm hoping for sunny skies soon and praying that the flea treatment that was done on Monday permanently fixes the flea problem.

Lately Hannah has been working on addition and subtraction. She found a game I used to use with my kids back when I taught elementary school and she's been asking to play it about every single day. It's called peanut butter and jelly and basically the goal is to be the first person to build you sandwich by answering math problems to earn your bread, jelly, etc. She has both addition and subtraction with the counters down, but the game mixes the problems up and she has trouble switching from one type of problem to the other. She gets into the pattern of one type of problem and then can't quite switch gears quickly enough. Kyle's been trying to teach her to use her fingers instead of the counters (I think he's just too lazy to get out the counters!) and she's actually doing pretty well with that too, but she's a little less accurate with her fingers since sometimes she accidentally moves a finger when she isn't supposed to.

Hannah's spelling is coming right along too. She's to the point where she can phonetically spell about anything she wants to spell and I can usually figure out what she meant if it's not spelled correctly. She still smashes all her words together with no spaces in between (we're working on that!) so that can sometimes hinder her legibility, but over all she does an excellent job with her writing. She's fast at sounding out how to spell the words too so this is making it easier for her to compose sentences since she doesn't lose her train of thought as much while she's trying to figure out a word. When she dictates stories to me for me to copy down she goes at the speed of light, so fast I can hardly keep up. That just shows me how fast her brain works. A month or two ago I mentioned her writing and promised to transcribe a few of her stories here for you all to enjoy. Today seems like a good day for a Hannah story so here goes. The first story is entitled How Pat the Rat was Born

Pat the Rat was once born because he was born in his mother. Because his father was watching, the baby came out. And the baby finally came out in the hospital. When he was a baby he first started not talking. Then when he was grown up he started squealing like his mother and father. His mother started not feeding him because he started feeding himself and then he was 110 years old. His mother and father took him to the park, and the beach, and the airport to go to Indiana. And then he flew back to Rhode Island so he could get his home. So he could play with his ball in the back yard.

In this next writing we had been learning about what dialogue is and how to write a back and forth conversation. She told me about an imaginary conversation she had with her friend Colin. So, without further ado, Dialogue with Colin

I wish I had a carthorse.

What? You wish you had a carthorse!

I want to be a princess and it would pull me to the castle to dance.

It would pull you to different places.

No, it would pull me to the ball.
I guess you're right.

I wish, oh I wish that would come true because it would take me to the ball.

Yes, it would come true if you would sleep every month then it would come true, but I don't think it will said Colin.

If you are wondering about her choice of the word "carthorse," we had just read a story about an old carthorse from the Dales in England so the word was fresh on her mind. I thought she used it quite well though!