Saturday, November 26, 2011

Celebrating Jaden

We got to celebrate Jaden's 7th birthday a little early this year. His birthday is actually on November 23rd. It usually falls near Thanksgiving so he got to have his party 4 days before he turned 7. He chose to have a basketball themed party at the YMCA. The kids got to play all kinds of games at the Y and they all had fun. They got to eat lots of orange colored snacks and drink lots of Gatorade. Everyone had fun despite the 3 inches of snow we got during the party.

This is an interesting age for Jaden. He is getting to be so independent. He is able to play outside by himself and follow the rules. He requests to play with friends all the time and rings our 2 neighbor boys' doorbells often. One time he rang the doorbell a few too many times and caused a neighbor boy to call 911. That will be quite the story for him to live down. I am sure Jaden will hear that over and over again. Jaden loves his friends, has lots of them and is very extroverted. Jaden just had his first outing with a friend today when they left to go watch high school basketball together.

He still has issues with hugs and people touching him so we continue to work on this as it seems heightened with a new little girl in the house. He is very organized and enjoys a controlled environment. His need to control things has increased as our house stress level has risen recently. He is fully aware of the changes in our house and has taken that stress more on himself than out on anyone else. He needs his life structured and predictable and if it's not, he must fix it. This causes him to obsess about some things that he shouldn't and this has made family life even harder. He could definitely use some prayer in this area.

Jaden seems to love all things "boy," cars/trucks/bikes, legos, Star Wars, super heroes, particularly Iron Man right now, sports, being physically active, along with reading, games and music. He became interested in the ukelele this summer when he saw 2 very cute older teenage girls playing them for one of his favorite songs, "This Is the Stuff" by Francesca Battistelli. Hopefully we have encouraged his love of music with his new uke.

Jaden is still very energetic and quite talented physically. He enjoys racing and competing with anyone at all times. He loves winning and knowing he is the best at something. I think he is a great reader and love listening to him. He is still very skilled at math and hopefully his love of math continues.

Jaden's personality is very similar to mine and I love that about him. I know he is my son! I see my weaknesses and strengths in him and I am very proud of him. He continues to teach me new things and I love that. Just today he showed me that he has a huge heart for the little girl in our house by trying to calm her down. This melted my heart. I want to squeeze him close like a little baby but he only wants to push me away and continue growing up and older. He is growing more compassionate and caring and growing in intellect. I love watching him change and love seeing how he changes me for the better. Happy #7, Jaden!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

learning delays

Here are a couple pictures from little girl's birthday party last weekend. We had my brother and his 3 kids over for dinner and cake and presents. She loved her dress up clothes from them! We inflated a bunch of balloons for her, which she calls, "moons" and she loved them too.

On Friday we took her to her special education evaluation after she needed further assessment from her preschool screening. I had to get over the lump in my throat that she would be going to special education and we were beginning to face development delays. Then yesterday she was having a very "smart" day. She performed very well on all the testing. The evaluator was quite impressed with her and said she was a teacher's dream but that she definitely needed speech help. I don't think she saw what we see and deal with daily. Then when we were about to leave the behavior issues started coming out. She didn't want to go and did everything she could to stay. We got through it and got her in the van. This was not the result of the evaluation we were expecting.

We know little girl is mentally delayed. We still don't know if that is because she just hasn't been taught (although she was in daycare from 1 to 3 years old) or because she has some severe learning difficulties. She might catch up completely but it is unknown. There is a lot of unknown with her. It is unknown how much speech progress she can make and it is unknown how her behavior will change as she ages. We know her learning is delayed and she will need extra help and the professionals agree but she looks smart compared to other special education children. What the evaluation did show me was that some of my efforts are paying off. I have been practicing a lot of the skills that were tested with her. And she performed them very well. She can now understand "what's missing," same or different and play matching games. She can write better and has learned more shapes. Her deficiencies still exist but they were not tested yet, other than her speech.

I was also reassured that having her at Clay's Montessori school is the right thing for her. We met with the 2 Montessorians (teachers) yesterday for Clay's conference and they reminded me that Dr. Montessori originally designed this program specifically for kids like our little foster girl. Dr. Montessori was the first female physician in Italy and she was put in charge of the "orphaned" children in Italy because it seemed like they didn't know what to do with her. The teachers agree with us that little girl needs lots of love and it is great to know she is getting more love while she is at school too. We have had her at school only one day a week but will be increasing it to two in December. A little more freedom for me and education for her. I am looking forward to getting involved again at the science museum.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

birth mom

A birth mom is what is known as the mom that gives birth to a child. She used to be known as a biological mom but now the correct term is birth mom. Less science-y and a shorter word to use. We are dealing with birth mom interactions and complications from those interactions or lack of them.

This afternoon was hard. Little girl can't understand why her mom doesn't show up to see her and she doesn't have the words to talk about it. We just say it is hard. I try to explain to the boys why she had a hard afternoon. We try to relax, share a treat and have some fun on hard days like today.

Today was the 4th visit that has been scheduled for mom to interact with her daughter since she has been in our house. The first visit mom showed up and left early. About 20 minutes into a 2 hour visit because little girl threw a tantrum and couldn't calm down quickly. Second visit mom didn't show up because she was in the hospital after a pretty serious suicide attempt. Third visit mom showed up late but had about an hour and half successful visit. Chips were shared and she got a stuffed gorilla. There was no mention of little girl's upcoming birthday. Little girl turned 4. Fourth visit was supposed to happen today and mom didn't show up. We lingered extra long in the waiting area of the supervised visit building, mostly because little girl wanted to finish coloring. I kinda wonder if she was hoping that her mom would show up. Not sure. I know she knew why we were there but it is very hard to talk about and it just makes her angry when we do talk about mom visiting. We got in the van to leave. Got a treat from Starbucks. Avoided a screaming melt down after the cake-pop (lollipop made of cake) was gone. Little girl had the saddest look on her face. Made me tear-up. She fell asleep on the drive home. Breaks my heart.

I am praying for mom to show up at our next visit on Monday. My life is harder whether mom shows up or not because of the emotion, fear, uncertainty and anger in little girl that results when thinking about her mom and knowing the possibility of seeing her. I pray her mom is still alive and that she has the will to try to get better.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

3 kids is harder than 2

We are still adjusting to having three kids in our house. For the first two weeks, the boys were on their best behavior. I appreciated their perspective sooo much. When little girl was throwing a fit in the van, Clay said, "It's ok that I don't have toys on one side of my car seat because I have enough on the other side." We had to remove toys from little girl's car seat and from one side of Clay's because she can reach his toys when she gets angry and throws a fit in the van while strapped into the seat. She likes to throw things when she gets mad. She also screams very loudly which has caused her to lose part of her voice the last couple days. That is actually refreshing because she can't be as loud. When she was at her ear-piercing loudest, Jaden and I were riding in the van with her on the way to school and Jaden had perfect timing as I was trying to mentally and physically block out the screaming. I was wishing for ear plugs. My ears were actually in pain. Jaden said in between screams, "Mom, it's ok. It doesn't hurt my ears because I have my hood up." So sweet. I wish I could make the screaming stop and I wish that he didn't have to suffer through it also.

We are over three weeks into this process and last week the boys got difficult. They snapped out of their good behavior and seem to have lost track of house rules and boundaries. We are trying hard to love each of them in individual ways and figure out what they need most. Dealing with three misbehaving kids is hard and exhausting.

We celebrated little girl's 4th birthday this weekend. We had fun and again it was exhausting. For once she got away with saying, "Mine!" as much as she wanted. Her birthday presents belonged to her. The 20 balloons Bryan blew up, belonged to her. Her birthday cake was hers and she enjoyed the mine-ness for a short while.

Monday, November 7, 2011


It has been two weeks now that we have had our foster girl in our house. It has been quite an experience. More work and a bigger challenge than we expected. I think we have had 3 days that have been tantrum free with 1-3 tantrums on the other days. This is the hardest part of life with the little girl. She gets violent to herself and with Bryan and I so we have to restrain her. It continues to shock me how much she tries to hurt herself - kicking and hitting walls and furniture, hitting her head on anything around her, pulling out her hair, digging in her fingernails into her hands and the list will go on. When she gets angry she has a very difficult time calming down and it takes her up to 40 minutes to calm down and stop screaming and yelling. Bryan and I have figured out that it actually helps for us to talk to her intermittently throughout the tantrum. This shortens the screaming time. We have also noticed that she is ready to be done when she starts screaming "Please..." and requesting whatever she wants to do. It is amazing how quickly she stops screaming and becomes the sweetest kid possible. There are lots of hugs and kisses and lots of holding and reading books in the calm period.

The tantrums are very difficult. We have not really seen notable improvement in the tantrum area. On the other hand, I have noticed improvement in other areas. She can share sometimes and can take turns. She can react to "No" without screaming now. She responds to threats with good behavior and doesn't throw a tantrum (all the time). She learned a new shape, square. She now can say some numbers even if they are in the wrong order. She can match and sort colors. She uses the toilet occasionally (even pooped once in the toilet). She will repeat her words and almost always tries to pronounce the word correctly when prompted. These might seem like small things but it is so encouraging to see any improvement.

I have been praying so much over the last two weeks. I need more patience. She needs to feel loved and given attention. She needs to be able to use some calming techniques when her anger or emotions are out of control. Her mom needs help to recover from drug addiction. We need to get services set up for developmental delays, speech therapy and possible physical therapy.

Thank you for your prayers. We feel them and it is neat to see God answering some prayers. She had her preschool screening last Wednesday. It didn't go well, as expected but now the ball is rolling to get her some help that she needs.

Her birthday is 6 days away and it will be exciting to celebrate with her. She will be 4 years old which is hard to believe. We often feel like she is a 2 year old in many ways but is the size of a 4 1/2 year old. I continue to be taken by her affection and sweetness. She has a soft heart and needs a lot of love and help from people around her. I continue to pray that we can provide some of the help that she needs.