Here's a quick Hannah story for you all. Lately Hannah has been really interested in all things related to the solar system, but especially the planets and the sun. We've been reading a lot of books about the planets and about the earth and the sun and consequently she's learned about the earth rotating on it's axis and revolving around the sun and how those two things make our days and nights and our seasons. The other day we were driving in the van and she was reading a book to herself called "Wake Up Sun." It's a cute little easy reader about some farm animals who, through a series of misperceptions, wake up in the middle of the night thinking it's daytime and that the sun has over slept. They spend the rest of the book trying to wake up the sun. Upon finishing the book (which she's read dozens of times before mind you) Hannah claps it shut rather roughly and says, (insert teenage valley girl voice here) "MOM! That is SOOOOOO silly. The farmer's baby didn't wake up the sun. It wasn't EVEN sleeping! It was just on the other side of the earth." Duh! I guess the author of "Wake Up Sun" didn't get the memo that stated that all elements of her story had to be completely and utterly scientific. Pay no attention to the fact that she wasn't bothered at all by the fact that the animals talked!
Here are some fun summer pictures for your viewing pleasure. Don't her legs look amazingly long in that swimsuit? That's why all her shorts that fit in the waist look like daisy dukes!
Hannah has made some HUGE leaps here recently in both her large motor skills and her academic skills. She's now a pro at riding her big girl bike and her stamina is increasing each time she rides. We took her to ride on the bike trail at our local park and I bet she went at least a half mile and that is WAY further than she's ever gone before. She was so much more confident too. There was no more staring at the ground or having a hard time getting on because she was afraid the bike would fall over. Now she just hops on and goes. She even had her first "fall" going down one of the bigger hills on the path. She didn't hit the ground because Kyle caught her, but the bike definitely tipped over as she got going quickly and she panicked when it was time to turn. Still, she got back on with some coaxing and rode on like a champ. I was so proud of her. Maybe it won't be long before we can all three ride on the bike paths together. That would be awesome. The problem is that just as she's getting comfortable with this new bike, she's outgrowing it! She towers over the handlebars and the seat is basically all the way up as high as it will go and her legs are still pretty bent. I'm not sure how she'd do on a bigger bike that would sit her higher up from the ground. For now I think we'll just stick with the Dora bike. It's working and I don't want to rock the boat.
Academically she's reading more and more chapter books and just this past week she started writing sentences independently! A few nights ago she stood at her easel and pounded out two sentences just because she wanted to write them. As her vocabulary of words that she can spell without sounding them out grows, it has become much easier for her to compose because she doesn't lose her train of thought while she's trying to spell a word. One of her favorite things to do recently is to dictate stories for me to copy down. They can get quite elaborate, but really she does a pretty good job of keeping them cohesive. I've been quite impressed. I'll have to put one of them on here someday for your reading pleasure!
Just so we don't get too complacent, she's also kept us on our toes with a steady stream of undesirable behaviors. Her venue of choice this past week has been the bathroom. She's started fishing around in the toilet bowl and pulling out poop and smearing it on the walls, dipping towels in the toilet, and just generally splashing around in pee water. UGH! At four years old I thought she'd be past that, but apparently not. We're back to having closely monitored bathroom breaks and that definitely puts a cramp in our style. Having to drop everything every time she needs to go to the bathroom really cuts down on the time I have to do things around the house.
It's taken me well over a week to write this post and it seems like a lot has happened since I started writing it. Yesterday I took Hannah to see Toy Story 3. The place where she has OT sponsored a sensory friendly showing at our local theatre and it was one of the most relaxed outings to a movie I've ever had. They kept the lights turned up (it was dark, but not like at a normal movie) and the volume turned down. They had fidgets and a break area available. They allowed you to bring in your own snacks and roaming and vocal stimming (as well as all manner of chatter and questioning) was totally allowed. No one got upset or freaked out about anything. It was so nice. Hannah and I really enjoyed the movie and look forward to them offering more sensory friendly showings.
Hannah had a field trip to the zoo and once again I was not impressed by her teacher. I won't go into all the details since you've all heard me whine about her many times, but this is just one more confirmation that getting Hannah out of there for next year is the right thing to do. In fact, if we wouldn't lose all the money we put in our flexible spending account to pay for preschool that we have left I'd pull her out now, but unfortunately the only way to get that money back is to spend it on preschool or daycare. Oh, and one more thing, I know I promised I wouldn't whine about her teacher, but this really upset me. The other day Hannah came home and told me that "Miss Nicole almost had to write me a note," but that she promised her that she wouldn't tell us what had happened. When I pressed Hannah about why Miss Nicole needed to write us a note, I found out that during nap time Hannah had went to the bathroom, but instead of going to the bathroom she went into another empty classroom (one they use for indoor large motor play on yucky days) and played in there by herself. That room has a door that opens up to the rest of the school and Hannah could have easily have just left the room and gone right on out and left the building. The teacher obviously thought her behavior was serious enough to threaten her with not allowing her to go on the field trip, but yet she did not inform us of this infraction. They lost her for pete's sake, and what she did was really manipulative. She's eloped from home before so the fact that she tried it at school is something I think we deserved to know. When I questioned the teacher about it she said it wasn't a big deal and she didn't want to write us about it and make it bigger than it was. UGH!
After the whole recommendation of a partial hospital program by the psychologist at our last appointment I had intended to give him the boot after speaking with Kyle, but we didn't make our final decision until the night before her next scheduled appointment and the late cancellation penalty costs more than my copay (doesn't seem right to me that it would cost me more NOT to see the doctor than to see him) so I took Hannah in to see him one more time and let them know we were done. While there, instead of giving us suggestions on how to better manage Hannah's behavior at home, or even doing an evaluation on her, he suggested that we should try stimulant medication. Are you kidding me! He hasn't even bothered to do an evaluation on her or diagnose her with anything that medication would be necessary or beneficial for! For that matter, he still hadn't watched the DVD of Hannah's meltdowns that I had given him over a month ago! Needless to say we gave him the boot and I've been doing a lot of research about where to go from here. I got many helpful suggestions in the comments to my last post and I'm very grateful for them. I'll keep you all posted on what direction we decide to go next.
Hannah also had her 4 year well child check up. She checked out just fine and weighed in at 38 lbs and was 42 inches tall. That puts her in the 74th percentile for weight for her age and the 90th for height. She also had to get 3 vaccinations while she was there. We had prepped extensively for this possibility and the doctor confirmed it was so. When she expressed concern he told her that they would give her the shots in her arm and that she could sit on my lap while they did it. However, when the nurses came in to administer the shots they decided to tag team her and give her two at once and all three of them in the leg, not the arm like the doctor told her. They also would not let her sit on my lap like the doctor had told her she could. I tried to tell them that this was not going to go well with them changing the plan on her and that we had it worked out so that we would have cooperation if they would just do it like the doctor had told Hannah, but they refused. Obviously they knew best. I also warned them that it would be much easier for me to control her if she fought if she was on my lap instead of on the table, but still they wouldn't listen. Well, for their stubbornness, Hannah threw a HUGE fit. She thrashed around like a crazy woman. I couldn't hold her down at all. She was moving so much they could only give one shot at a time. AND Hannah kicked one of the nurses in the chest so hard (she was even laying down too!) that I'm surprised it didn't break her ribs. All this because they wouldn't listen to mom who really did know best about this scenario and how it would go. Instead of apologizing afterwards for their stubbornness and saying they were wrong not to listen to me (I know, wishful thinking on my part) , the nurse that got kicked simply eeked out, "She sure is strong for a four year old isn't she?" Yeah no kidding! I tried to warn them.
Photo Notes: Except for the first photo which is of Hannah getting the tank reading for Evan the fish and that last 3 which are of Hannah at the zoo and playing in the sprinkler, all of the photos were taken when our good friends the Bowes visited us from Indiana. We went on a chartered harbor and lighthouse tour. It was a blast.
The past month or so I've been beyond frustrated with Hannah's behavior. She's growing more defiant and deliberately antagonistic by the day. She's growing stronger as she gets bigger and her kicking and hitting hurt a lot more now than they used to and she's getting much harder to restrain to keep her from hitting us. At a loss for what to do about her behavior (having tried about every trick in every parenting and medical book out there) we decided to consult a pediatric psychologist for some family therapy hoping he would be able to shed some light on what we were doing wrong and help us out of this downward spiral we seem to be in. Those sessions have pretty much been a complete waste of money. So far he hasn't given us any strategies we haven't already tried and has now swung 180 degrees from his initial recommendation that we use a sticker chart to motivate good behavior to recommending a partial hospital program for Hannah! I about freaked out on the psychologist yesterday when he suggested this. It sounds awfully extreme to me and awfully expensive! When I think of a partial or full hospital program I think about kids that are dangerous. Hannah's not dangerous, she's just extremely challenging. If we don't put a halt to some of her behaviors she could be dangerous once she's older and bigger, but right now she's not dangerous and so I think a partial hospital treatment program is way out of line. Have any of you out there had any experience with programs like these? Am I totally off base here? Needless to say, I'm in the market for a new psychologist because we do desperately need the help. What would be the most helpful would be some sort of therapeutic Super Nanny type person who could come to our house and simply observe what goes on for several days in a row, maybe a full week, and then help us develop a plan to better manage Hannah's behaviors. She doesn't display many of her most challenging behaviours at school so I feel like the same thing would happen at the partial program since it's run very much like a preschool. The herd mentality, or maybe it's just that she's not completely comfortable there, whatever the reason she saves up everything for home. The moment I pick her up she lets it all hang out. I need someone to see her in action like that, not in the structured school/therapy environment. Does a therapist like this even exist? If so, what would they be called? I'd love to know so I could google them and see if I could find someone in our area that could help us out.
Another question for all you veteran parents out there, when is it no longer considered an annoying, but age appropriate stage for a child to get into lotion, chemicals, etc and smear them all over themselves and anything else they can find? This is what Hannah did on Monday. When she was supposed to be upstairs getting her pajamas on she instead went into our bedroom, climbed up to Kyle's dresser (which she can not reach without climbing) and got his Nivea lotion, hydrocortisone cream, and the fish tank chemicals-all things she KNOWS she is not allowed to touch- and then proceeded to smear the lotion and cream all over her body plus the carpet, her bedsheets, a book, and some toys. She then dumped out all the fish tank chemicals on the floor (thank Jesus she did not swallow them!) and then lied to me when I called upstairs and asked what she was doing by saying, "I'm just looking at my books" The next day, after now being banned from our bedroom, she snuck into our bedroom and got my package of birth control and hid it under her bed. The next day she went through my purse (which she KNOWS she's not allowed to do) and took my cell phone out while I was using the bathroom and hid it from me. Then today, right in front of both Kyle and I she decided to smear chapstick all over her face! She ground it into her eyebrows so hard that Kyle had to really scrub to get it all off before taking her to school! Is this something that all kids do at her age? If so, how long does this stage last? I'm getting multiple gray hairs from this new behaviour. I've ordered some medicine and chemical safes to put everything in to keep her from getting at any more medicine or chemicals since putting them up out of her reach obviously doesn't do the trick so hopefully that will stop that part of the problem from a safety standpoint, but what do I do about this taking things and hiding them? What about the other less noxious chemicals such as hand soap and shampoo. When will it be safe to put them back down where they are convenient?
It's hard to believe, but my baby girl turned 4 years old on the 6th. The time has simply flew by more quickly than I could have ever imagined. As I say every year, it seems like just yesterday we were talking with Tiffany and praying that maybe just maybe this would be our baby girl and now here we are 4 years later, parents of a high energy, super smart, opinionated, and beautiful girl. When I think back over the past year I am filled with wonder over all she has accomplished. She started preschool and learned how to successfully become part of a classroom. She made friends who not only wanted to see her, but who she wanted to see too! She learned to pedal her tricycle and then moved on to a big girl bike with training wheels. She learned to swing on a swing by herself, starting off from completely still to pumping herself so high the chains on the swing set chink! She climbs, runs, and jumps with reckless abandon. Her vocabulary is ever increasing and she's begun to ponder some of the deeper questions in life such as "Why can't we see the Earth spin?" And the reading, oh the reading. She's gone from level 1 readers to independently reading an entire chapter out of the chapter book The Boxcar Children. She devours every book she can get her hands on and can read just about any book you put in front of her. Of course, there have been some less than stellar developments over the past year such as increased levels of defiance and screaming, learning to use hateful and hurtful words, and increased aggression. Still on a whole this year has been full of accomplishments to celebrate. And celebrate we did. We rocked it out at Chuck -E-Cheese and Hannah actually gave the big mouse a high five and stood right next to him for a picture. For her actual birthday dinner she requested we go out to dinner at On the Border and she was delighted when the servers sang her happy birthday and brought her a brownie and ice cream.
Happy Birthday Baby Girl! Though they've sometimes been hard, you've given me the best four years of my life so far!
Photo Notes: These were taken at Hannah's preschool "Graduation" (though she and several other of the students aren't actually graduating and moving on to kindergarten!)