Adoption Interview

Adoption Bloggers Interview Project 2012

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!

Monday, August 16, 2010

I Can't Take This!

The title of this post comes not from me (as many of you might expect!), but from Hannah. It's a quote from the middle of the night last night. She had woken up to go to the bathroom and after taking her back to bed and getting her settled she kept scratching and scratching at a bug bite on her back. I could tell she was really trying not to scratch, but it must have been itching something fierce because after several cycles of trying not to scratch and then scratching anyway she dramatically flopped over in her bed, turned to me and said, "I just can't take this anymore!" and then buried her head in her pillow! I had to stifle a laugh. I felt for the poor thing because I too have impossibly low willpower when it comes to not scratching something that itches, but it was so darn funny the way she said it and not at all how I expected a four year old to complain about a bug bite! She must of gotten that phrase off of Kyle or I, but neither of us can determine which of us says it enough for her to have picked it up. As far as we know, neither of us says it all, but she has to have gotten it from somewhere. Surely she just didn't pull that phrase out all on her own.

Hannah accomplished a huge feat this past weekend, one that Mommy still has yet to conquer. She learned to dunk herself under water and now she's an addict! She went from being pretty scared of getting any water on her face to begging Kyle to throw her into the air at the pool so that she could crash back down and go under water in one day! Now she's jumping into the pool on her own, putting her face in the water and pretending to swim, and of course begging to be thrown. That's my little sensory seeker! I'm quite excited about this development because swimming is great proprioceptive input for her and as an added benefit it tires her out too! Another thing I love is that I no longer have to tolerate screams in the tub about me getting water in her eyes. If she can stand getting launched into the air and crashing down into the pool and going completely under then she can handle a few drips of water running into her eyes! This tells me it's definitely time to start swim lessons this winter. Now that she's confidently going under and swimming around the pool independently with her flotation belt on, I think she's totally ready and capable of taking directions from a swim instructor. This also makes me feel so much calmer about us living next to the ocean. I don't have to worry as much now about her panicking if she were to accidentally go under or get hit by a wave in the water. Just her being more comfortable in the water makes me more comfortable taking her there.

Today Hannah had one of her oddest meltdowns ever. Her morning started off great and then when it was time to get ready to go I asked her to put her socks on. For some reason this set her off and she refused to comply. Socks were not an option with her AFOs and shoes were not an option for her school so she had to put her socks on in order to put her shoes on in order to go to school. Eventually she just went nuts. She started screaming and hitting and kicking and pinching. She was using all of her strength and truly intending to hurt. After about 15 minutes of this, she all of a sudden walked over to the toilet (we were in the bathroom) and sat down and closed her eyes. She sat there for about a minute totally silent and then began sobbing hysterically. I went over to hug her and ask her why she was crying and she said, "I just started. I don't know why, but I can't stop." She cried for probably 10 minutes with me holding her and then eventually she was able to get her socks and shoes on, get washed up and then leave for school. She was quite clingy when I dropped her off at school and I worry that she's going to have a rough time, but they haven't called yet so I hope that means so far so good. The odd thing is that usually she rages until she's worn out and everything just fizzles out. This abrupt end to the aggression and the beginning of the crying is very abnormal for her. I'm not sure what to make of it.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Roller Coaster

It seems like we live on a constant roller coaster. Yesterday Hannah and I had a wonderful Mommy Daughter Day. We went to the museum, had lunch, played, did school, had dinner, bath, bed with no problems. We made it through with no screaming, melting down, hitting, kicking, etc. There was of course some minor preschool disobedience, but hey, no one's perfect. This morning, however, was a totally different story. Hannah was out of control. She threw things, hit me, kicked me, scratched me, tried to bite me, and pinched me. All this because she didn't want to turn off the TV and then later didn't want to wash up and leave for school. It's not like this routine was out of the ordinary. We do it EVERY Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. We've done it for over a year. In fact, except leaving for school, we do the same routine every single morning! Still, it's impossible to predict when she'll be able to smoothly move through the morning routine successfully and when she'll just completely lose control of herself. By the time I actually got her to school she was fine and I'm sure she'll have a wonderful day there. That's the other thing that is frustrating. She almost NEVER displays these aggressive behaviors at school. For them she's a sweet angel all the time. I can almost guarantee though that the minute I walk in to pick her up the behaviors will start building and by the time we make it home they will be in full swing. UGH! How can she act so sweetly and behave so wonderfully one moment and then at the flip of a switch shift into another gear and go nuts on me? I just don't get it.

Something that interests me about Hannah's reading level is that even though she can read at a second grade level and comprehend what the text says as far as being able to report the events of the story and the facts objectively, she is unable to make predictions or inferences about the stories she reads. In this aspect of reading comprehension I would say she is just barely at age level for a 4 year old, maybe even a little behind since my expertise is not early childhood, but elementary school. Even stories that she has read to her and that she doesn't have to expend the mental energy of actually decoding, she is unable to display this higher level comprehension. Picture books she is a little better at picking up unspoken aspects of the story, but that is only because she studies the pictures so intensely. If the pictures weren't there she wouldn't gain as much depth about the story as she does. Every now and then she'll get something that I'm surprised she catches, but on the whole this uneven development she has in reading is quite fascinating to me. A four year difference between decoding and comprehension is a pretty big gap and I am amazed that it could even develop. It's hard for me to imagine being able to read the words, but not really understanding all that they tell. I've heard that this is quite common for children with hyperlexia, but I'm not too concerned yet since really she's right about where she should be comprehension wise. If it ever gets to the point where she can't comprehend at the grade level she's SUPPOSED to be reading (even if she's still reading 4 years ahead!) then I'll be worried. For now though, I'm just intrigued.

Monday, August 09, 2010

No Show

The karate instructor was a no show on Saturday. Hannah was VERY disappointed and it pretty much threw her off for the rest of the day. In fact, later that day when I was trying to get her washed up she threatened to chop my head off! I've no idea where she came up with that. She must have heard someone at school say something like that because her PBS shows don't use that kind of language and we certainly don't! I'm still waiting for the situation to be resolved as to whether the class is officially canceled and we'll get a refund or if we'll have a make-up class sometime and then class will start next weekend. I'm hoping that the class won't be canceled because it's too late for her to sign up for anything else at the YMCA this session since everything is filled. We'd have to wait until September. I'd like to get her into something NOW if possible.

At the end of June Kyle and I started a fitness plan called P90X. Besides an extreme exercise regime it also consists of a very regimented nutrition plan. Needless to say there's been a BIG change in the food we eat and the type of food in the house. We also discuss our food choices a lot more instead of just eating whatever is around and handy. Hannah of course is not on the nutrition plan and we continue to fix her healthy balanced meals for a preschooler. Even so, she's become very interested in food choices and the things Kyle and I have been eating such as protein bars and shakes. She's also started to pick up on food related vocabulary such as carbs, protein, dairy, etc. It's been pretty funny to hear her argue with her Daddy about what she wants for breakfast or snack by saying, "But I told you I needed two more carbs today!" She's also started learning about the difference between good sugar (whole fruit) and bad sugar (high fructose corn syrup) and likes to look at the nutrition labels on the foods we eat. It would be nice if this led to her naturally choosing healthy foods to eat, but so far she's still got a STRONG sweet tooth and would gladly down a bag of M & M's over just about anything!
Photo Notes: These were taken at our local children's museum. We just LOVE going there!

Monday, August 02, 2010


Hannah will be starting karate next weekend at our local YMCA. I don't think it's a very intense program (how can it be with 4 year olds!) so it should be a good introduction to the sport to see if she likes it. This particular session only lasts 5 weeks so if she hates it we haven't wasted too much money and she doesn't have to tough it out too long. I'm hoping that karate will give her a positive outlet for all of this aggressiveness she has, although I am aware that the opposite could be true in that it could increase her aggressive acts. Let's hope that doesn't happen. Sensory-wise, karate should be very good for her. I'm also hoping it will help a bit with impulse control.

Six or seven months ago Hannah went through a stage where she picked at toilet paper, wadded it into tiny little balls and then stuffed it various places, bodily orifices, heating vents, between her toes, cracks in the wall, etc. It's been awhile since we've had any toilet paper stuffing, but it looks like that streak might be ending. Yesterday Hannah wadded up and stuffed a HUGE amount of toilet paper down our bathroom sink drain and then filled the sink with water! Let me just tell you that soaking wet, disintegrating toilet paper is NASTY! I made her dig all the toilet paper out from around the stopper and from as far down the drain as her little fingers could reach. I wasn't about to clean that mess up! She definitely was not happy about having to clean up, but I sure wasn't happy about her little experiment either!

Lately I've been struggling to find appropriate books for Hannah to read. She's capable of reading most easy chapter books, but unfortunately most of the easier chapter books are written at a 1rst or 2nd grader interest level and not a 4 year old's interest level. There's also the problem of the characters being very sassy and rude. When I flip through a book and see the words dumb, stupid, and hate multiple times I know it's not the right book for Hannah. We have a hard enough time enforcing our rules about appropriate language and respect for others (especially adults) without having to confront negative examples in books just yet. We can tackle that later. There are a few animal stories written by Penny Dale that are perfect for her, but unfortunately those series don't seem to be carried in most bookstores or the library. The popular Animal Ark series also made a few "Little" Animal Ark books that are good for Hannah, but again they don't seem to be in libraries and bookstores and there are only a few of them. I did recently find a cute little series in the bookstore called Appleville Elementary that are early chapter books and they seem perfect for Hannah so far. The first book is about a bunch of kids getting ready for the first day of first grade. If anyone has any ideas about chapter books that are fairly easy to read and are the appropriate interest level for a 4 year old (I try to keep the main character no older than about 8 years old) I'd appreciate the help.

Yesterday I took Hannah to get her hair cut. She'd been begging to get it done for weeks. Now that we go to a kids only hair cut place (we had a VERY bad experience at a Super Cuts for her first hair cut and it made her terrified of getting it done) she loves having her hair cut. She'd go have it done weekly if I'd let her! Actually it's not the actual hair cutting that she likes. She really likes that after the cut is done they put glitter gel in her hair and while they are cutting she gets to watch a movie. I know I pay a little more for these silly little extras, but it's worth it when I see how calmly and cooperatively she behaves as opposed to that awful first cut. Last night Hannah discovered that I had cut Kyle's hair the night before. I had forgotten to get rid of the evidence piled up on the deck! She was quite interested in what she saw as this new development (I've cut Kyle's hair on and off ever since we got married, maybe even since before we were married, but Hannah's never knew that I did it) and asked if I could cut her hair. Ummm. . . . . No! I'll use the clippers to buzz Kyle's hair (although I don't even like doing that. It totally stresses me out, but I can't handle pay $20 for a cut every few weeks.), but I'm not about to touch the scissors on a wiggly 4 year old where my mistake could take months or even years to grow back. No Thank You! This curiosity of hers in my cutting of Kyle's hair has me worried given her past indiscretions with scissors and her own hair. In my mind this is a BAD sign and a really big goof up on my part. This just may undermine my standard speech I give every time she takes the scissors to herself about only people trained to cut hair can cut her hair. Pray that she somehow forgets about this and stays away from the scissors!
Photo Notes: All of the pictures except for the last one are from Hannah's birthday party. Those of you who read regularly will remember the little boy from her class, Jesse, whom Hannah said she was going to marry on multiple occasions. Well, Jesse is the boy standing with Hannah in the first picture. Doesn't he just look thrilled to have his picture taken? He's a cutie though and super sweet. We were so glad he could come to her party.