It was a rough week at our house this week. Hannah had several major meltdowns during the after school hours. She managed to physically hurt me bad enough that I will bear the marks of her aggression for quite awhile. She also finished up kicking the last of her door jam off of her door so that the next kick fest could very well send the door off of its hinges. Anger management has not gotten any better with therapy or the meds thus far. However, I did get to spend some significant time with her today while under the influence of the meds and she exhibited control with another little boy at the museum rudely ripped the police cruiser radio out of her hand. I was quite proud of her for that and praised her profusely. As it was happening my heart went nuts, sure there was about to be a nasty scene, but my little one kept her cool! :) Today we had a fabulous day together. We needed it. When too many rough days/weeks pile on top of each other it's hard to drag yourself back up and remember the good times. Today helped me to remember the good times and to give me hope that maybe the right dose of meds can help her keep her anger/impulsivity under control enough to think about the consequences of her actions before she makes her choice of response to a situation.
Report cards came home last week and Hannah's academics were fine of course. We found out she's reading middle of third grade level and is right on benchmark for end of first quarter 3rd grade math. She's in first grade! Her work habits/social skills section on her report card wasn't quite as rosy, but it was better than I expected. The teacher listed that she needs to work on assuming responsibility, practicing self control, and respecting the rights and property of others. She loves writing stories and is actually pretty good at writing a coherent story with a beginning, middle, and end. They have not sent home an evaluation that lists where her written language skills are since most of her classmates are just focusing on getting a single complete sentence down on the page that is legible and uses basic writing conventions, but I would guess she is at least middle of second grade for it.
After the biting incident we started a trial on medication. At first we thought we were seeing some pretty severe side effects after the first day on the meds so we stopped them after one day and called the doctor the next business day to check in. She confirmed what we had already thought about which was that the medication SHOULD have been out of her system by the time we experienced what we thought might be the side effect so it was probably something else and simply a coincidence that it happened on the same day we started up the med trial. We tried the meds again that next day after talking to the doctor, and after 2 consecutive days on them we have seen no serious side effects and only a little bit of appetite suppression. We have also not seen any real improvements that can be measured, but she is on the very smallest dose possible and not even up to the normal starting dose for this particular medication. Apparently the doctor did not even expect any results at this stage, she was just ruling out negative side effects. I'm guessing that if things stay the same, sometime next week they will up her dosage.
Hannah's Halloween costume for the year is finally finished. Ever since she's been old enough to choose her own costume she's asked for something that was difficult (or impossible) to just go out and buy, so for the last 3 years I've had to make her costumes. I'm not a crafty lady and I can't operate a sewing machine on my own (even though I DO have one) so this is always a difficult task. I have to create something with as many premade parts as possible that needs a minimum amount of hand sewing to get me by. This year she wanted to be a grey wolf. I thought I was off the hook because surely wolf costumes existed. Well, they do, but only for toddlers or in the form of the Big Bad Wolf or werewolves for adults. So, I was stuck with making her costume yet again. At least this year I was able to cheat a bit because I managed to find a winter hat that was in the shape of a wolf's head to use as the head (in years past I've had to create a head on the hood of a hooded sweatshirt). That only left me with finding the appropriate color sweatshirt and sweatpants, stretchy gloves, and tube socks. The only thing I had to actually sew was the tail onto the sweatpants. It was a one afternoon job to get it all done. That was SO MUCH easier than her Bolt or Toothless costumes that I almost wept in relief. It's not the best wolf costume to ever come around the pike, but she likes it and that's all that matters.
Somehow September slipped right by me and now October is more than halfway over too! Since I last wrote, Hannah graduated from daily visits to the Severe Behavior Clinic to every other week once a day for an hour. That is much more doable although I still feel like we spend all of our time in the van! First grade seems to be moving right along for Hannah. Her teachers really have no complaints and she seems to be enjoying herself.
Report cards come out tomorrow so it will be interesting to see what her social skills are marked like. She did, however, have her first incident of aggression at school for the year. A little boy in her class pinched her (we have yet to figure out the reason-did Hannah do something to him first or was he completely unprovoked) so she bit him-hard. Of course this meant another office referral and it came at the absolute worst time as we were about to leave for a trip to Minnesota that very afternoon! After all the lying and omitting of the truth we think we finally got to the bottom of things.
Then yesterday I found out that the incident wasn't completely over because Hannah had neglected to return the signed office referral to her teacher. Apparently she had thrown it in the trash. It took quite awhile to wade through all the lies on that one too, but I think we eventually got there. After the biting incident we finally decided to give medication a try to help her control her impulses. We actually start that this weekend. I'm quite nervous about it, but I at least know that it's easy to change our minds and the meds leave no lasting side effects after they are out of her system if they don't work or we don't like what they do. Wish us luck as we embark on this latest leg of our journey. Last month we did a brief respite foster care stint with a little 3 year old girl. She and Hannah got on pretty well and I miss her now that she is gone, but BOY OH BOY was she a ball of energy. That kid went nonstop from the time she woke up until the time she finally crashed at night. The sad thing about her was that she was now our 5th placement we've had that had no idea how to cuddle and had never been read to or sung to at bedtime. Again and again I am amazed at how many of the basic "rights" of childhood these kids have never experienced. :( While the respite munchkin was here we also hosted a series of guests. My dad came to visit and then my best friend Sarah and her family stopped by for a night too. I am reminded again and again at what a blessing from God our house is that we can house extra children as well as guests and still have everyone be comfortable.
Hannah decided last night to try out for a speaking role in our church's Christmas program. I didn't get to watch the tryout, but Kyle said she did a great job and was one of the strongest readers he heard. He also said she was one of the youngest so that may very well affect her chances at actually getting a part. Still whatever happens, I'm proud that she tried and at least she'll be guaranteed a spot in the chorus despite her off key singing voice!
Next month I am participating in the Open Adoption Bloggers Interview Project again. Last year I interviewed a birthmom named Kate and it was an awesome experience. I can't wait to see who I get paired with this year. There is still time to sign up if you are interested and blog at least occasionally about adoption. Simply click on the button at the top of my page and it should take you to the registration page.
Photo Notes: The pictures are from a weekend trip we took in September to a local wildlife preserve. I think Hannah enjoyed chasing the chickens in the petting area more than she enjoyed the wild animals!
P.S. I hate the new blogger format and I cannot make my posts look like I want. My text and pictures keep getting all jumbled up. Until I figure it out, I apologize for the inconvenience of having to read the disjointed text.