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Friday, April 27, 2012

Mean Mommy

Things have been rough lately.  Luke has been struggling. I have had the privilege of being the one to follow through with what I say.  Sometimes when he is so upset and screaming and yelling and telling me how mean I am because he is upset at the discipline, I look in his eyes and this is what I see (see above picture).  This tiny little guy who is just 2 years old.  My heart breaks on the inside.  I hate it when he cries, or feels pain or hurts. 
I know that pain and struggle are apart of life.  I also know that Luke and Grace have struggled in ways I will never understand.  I want desperately to make it better.  Everyday that Luke goes to school, he deals with challenges I never had too.  You see, I lived a fairy tale school life compared to what Luke faces.  He has to struggle through the many sensory systems just to make it to school (clothes, socks, shoes, toothpaste, hair brushing, etc.)  Then while at school he faces the bright fluorescent lights, auditory stimulus, trying desperately to pay attention, keep quiet and still. All things that are so incredibly difficult for him.  All things that I never had to think about. 
Grace has her own set of special needs.  I haven't really spoke much about hers as I am still figuring them all out.  I do know she goes to school each day and struggles to be understood by her teacher and peers.  Her struggle with speech and speech sounds makes understanding her difficult sometimes.  One of her strategies is to just "give up" when she can't communicate effectively.  I have to come up with ways to get her to TALK even if it is difficult.  I worry about her in a class of 28.  She deals with more on a daily basis at school than I ever had to. 

Part of being a parent is training your children.  I have so many hopes for my three children.  I hope that Luke becomes whatever his heart desires.  It's my job to give him the tools to help him become whomever God has planned for him.  I hope for Grace that she excels in music and art, finding expression in make-up, nails and hair as she already shows so much interest in this area.  That she continues to blaze her own trail and never apologizing for the incredible girl that she is.  I hope for Isabella so many wonderful things.  I am still getting to know her and her personality.  God has a purpose for her and for Luke and Grace.

I also know that in training them it requires correction.  This is difficult for me.  It is challenging to know how much of their behavior is linked with their special needs and how to address the behavior.  I especially struggle in this area with Luke.  He had a really rough week.  He lost his bus privileges for a week because of his behavior on the bus.  He lost his snack sale money because he yelled at me.  He spent an evening crying/screaming because he was having a difficult day and just not knowing how to self regulate.  My heart broke this morning driving him to school.  One because he couldn't ride the bus, and two because he was very upset with me pleading with me to give him his snack sale money.  "Your the meanest mom ever!" he yelled at me over and over. Stone faced, I kept telling him why I couldn't give him his money.  I walked to his classroom, so that I could tell his teacher what happened this morning.  He clung to me as I tried to walk out of the classroom begging me to bring his money back to him.  I kissed him with tears running down his face telling him how much I loved him and I would be waiting for him when school was over.  I took Bella back to the van, buckled her in and sat down and cried.  I cried and cried and cried.  Meanest Mommy ever!

People have asked me what I do when Luke rages or how I handle the fits that Grace can throw.  The absolute best way I know how to is to remain calm.  I use whatever strategies I can to help them get through it.  With Luke walking away, ignoring or letting him scream through it can help.  I also am using some sensory type strategies to hopefully help him before he escalates. 

I admit defeat!  I advocate!  I get help!  I was reminded this week from Luke's previous social worker that I don't have to have all the answers.  Most people think that when you adopt...they are yours now...and everything is going to be rainbows and lollipops!  They are always going to have connections to their birth families (especially their genetics).  You blaze a new trail with them.  Previous attitudes and values can "go out the window" and you embrace new ones and see things in a different light.

I use my support system!  I have an incredible support system for Luke.  Just this week I talked with his previous social worker Beth, Joy his OT (he will be starting back to OT next week), he had a doctor appointment, Family Solutions (another therapy option for Luke), a friend that has adopted kids from foster care, my sister Katie who is always there to listen, and a good teacher friend that has a special needs son. 

People say I am an amazing mom...I heard it this week a few times.  It is so nice to hear, but to be honest I don't feel like and amazing mom....I just feel like a mom with AMAZING kids! 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Miracle Baseball

It was my son's first baseball game ever.  There I was with my Nikon strapped around my neck, video camera on my hand, and my phone camera in my pocket, trying to keep track of my girls and crying all at the same time. 
You see this little boy has had the dream of playing baseball for a LONG time.  He has been asking for at least 3 years.  Well...begging is a more accurate description. 
Unfortunately a regular baseball league would not be possible for Luke.  His disabilities make the competition of regular play and social aspects of the game just too difficult...and while I understand that the regular leagues are just supposed to be wouldn't work for Luke.  His nature to challenge and question everything along with his limited attention span wouldn't work with his peers without special needs.
About 2 months ago, Luke came home with information on the Columbia River Miracle League from is OT at school.  Bless Ms. Kate for letting me know about this incredible program!  I promptly signed Luke up!  This league lets ANY child, no matter their disabilities play baseball.  The focus isn't on who can play first base, or who can throw the most accurate, or even what the score is (they don't keep score).  It is about FUN and giving kids the opportunity to experience playing on a field, running the bases, hitting the ball, wearing a uniform, while being ENCOURAGED by both teams! 

Today the mayor of Vancouver threw out the first pitch.  And the Evergreen High School Soccer team came to be buddies with the CUBS (Luke's team).  Each baseball player gets a buddy.  Luke's buddy today was Connor.  Connor did everything along side Luke.  He went up to bat with him, ran the bases with him, was along side Luke as he was fielding the ball (or every ball for that matter).  We need to work on the sharing aspect. :)  Personally my favorite play of the day was when Luke decided to run the ball to first base instead of throwing it.  Oh one cared, and in fact told Luke "nice hustle Luke!" 
Imagine how my Luke must feel now... because today...when HE got up to bat...and HIT the ball...the crowd ERUPTED with CHEERING and CLAPPING because HE HIT THE BALL! "GO LUKE! RUN!!!" 

ALSO imagine how my Luke must feel because when he decided to get off first base to run over to me to excitedly tell me all about his "first" BIG hit, no one YELLED at him or told him NO or got UPSET.

NOPE..they CELEBRATED with him this huge VICTORY, which to LUKE is EVERYTHING and to anybody else wouldn't seem like much.   
Kids with disabilities are still "KIDS".  They have the SAME dreams as kids without disabilities.  Just..the road that they take to reach their dreams is different.  It may take the form of a 1 hour game where everyone bats each inning, everyone hits each inning and everyone makes a home run each inning.  The game is really 2 innings long.  No one worries about the score, or strategy or relief pitchers or even pitching from the mound for that matter.  I think Luke's biggest concern was what they were having for snack after the game....note to self...our snack turn is Sat. May 12. :)
It is true what they say..."it takes a village to raise a child".  I couldn't provide this "Miracle Baseball" experience for Luke even if I wanted to.  This was our neighborhood school reaching out to our family, connecting us with the community, so that Luke can have an experience like a "typical kid".  Because deep down...Luke is just a "typical kid" in an incredibly "special body". 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Spring Break Fun

Spring break always reminds me of being a kid.  My parents would most always take us on a trip to somewhere warm.  This year spring break was spent at home taking "day trips" around the Portland Area.  We spent the week making Easter crafts, going to Chuck E Cheese and Oregon Zoo, the older kiddos visited with Carol, they ALL participated in a big egg hunt and we ended it celebrating Easter at Mom and Roger's condo.  It was very fun and by they time they boarded the bus on Monday morning I was EXHAUSTED!!!  Here are some pictures that captured our week long fun.

 Luke playing outside on our own "play ground".

 Grace never passes up an opportunity to "pose" for the camera.

 Miss B just "hanging around."

 Bella channeling her Uncle D to win the video game!

 Grace riding the helicopter at Chuck E Cheese.

Luke bowling at Chuck E Cheese.

The 3 munchkins...

Grace dying Easter Eggs and Bella pretending to dye Easter Eggs with plastic eggs and cups provided by daddy.
Luke's final products!  Beautiful!
Luke and Grace before the Egg Hunt at Life Point Church.
Bella during her first egg hunt.
Grace and Luke with the Easter bunny.  Miss B wanted nothing to do with the bunny :)

Monday, April 9, 2012

My ADHD Wish List

I am back after a bit of a blogging break.  Last week was spring break, so we were busy with lots of fun kiddo activities (more to come with pictures on another post) same with Easter fun.  I just wanted to take this post to focus on a subject that has occupied most of my thinking as of lately. 

Before the break I received the kids report cards.  For the most part they were really great and the kids are doing awesome, but to say that everything with Luke is "rainbows and lollipops" would be a lie.  TRUTH...he is home, at school, in life.  I have tried to take the laid back approach and wait for some of the issues to pass, but they haven't.  Sometimes it is best to face a problem "head on" instead of sitting on the sidelines.  With him it really is my motto to face things right away.  So over my last couple of weeks of Internet research I have composed a list of my favorite things that "if I had a bazillion dollars" would buy for him. 

ADHD  likes to co-exist with other disorders like Tourettes, OCD and ODD.  Luke has confirmed Tourettes as well as ADHD along with sensory, visual and auditory processing disorders.   I have noticed he is ticking more these days.  The tics always change and there is NOTHING we can do for him except let him tic.  You can't tell him to stop because kids who try and suppress tics often just "tic more".  I want so much for Luke...I want life to be easier for him.  I want kids to stop starring at him, or Luke to know appropriate social boundaries, instead of invading other's space. I want him to take more responsibility and to not argue as much.

So here it dream list of ADHD helps for Luke....while they won't "cure" him, they would help make our lives better....

Sens-ational Hug Tee, Long Sleeves, Motorcycle Graphic
This compression shirt would help "ground" him and it feels as if you are getting a "hug".  The gentle pressure will help calm him.  Sometimes when Luke is all over...I gently press on his shoulders.  He always stops and sighs.  He loves pressure!  They make a whole line of children's compression clothing.
Weighted Hat / Cap for Sensory Processing Therapy
This hat would act the same way has the shirt. 

Weighted Vest (Blue)
This weighted vest would provide sensory input allowing him to calm his body.

Blanket Bundle
I would so LOVE a blanket like this for Luke.  No matter the temperature he always asks me for all his blankets put on him in a certain order.  The pressure/weight has the calming effect.

Joki Hanging Crow's Nest
If I only had a swing.....such and incredible therapeutic tool.  Swings are amazing.  How wonderful it would be to swing anytime of year and even on rainy days.  Did I mention we are turning our front room into a therapy room....more to come on that too.
Therapy Putty 4 oz.
Theraputty...a great hand strengthening tool for my little buddy who needs the extra input and work.

Short Reach Slant Board
Slant we could use you...ALL.THE.TIME.  Handwriting is such a chore for my little guy.  How great it would be for him to use this tool.

Well... there you have it. A few of my favorite ADHD helps.  :)
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