Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Getting Past [The Game]

He won 2nd place in the cute category,
but that's not what I'm here to brag about.
He plays harder music than it appears by this photo, but....

James did not make a whole lot of progress on the piano this year. 

He made a little, but it seemed like he would go one step forward and then it was two steps back. He avoided new songs, practicing, and anything to do with actually LEARNING. I had a chat with the teacher one day about a month ago and asked, "How did he do in his lesson today?" 

She had a whole lot of good things to say about him, as usual, but some people struggle to be direct and upfront honest about their trials with certain students and have a habit of pointing out all the good things they can think about a kid before tagging on the hard part on the end if they work up the courage to do so. I have known this teacher a LONG time. She has been my girls' piano and violin teacher for more than 10 years. I encouraged her past the uncomfortable part of the conversation. She finally told me it was as if he had forgotten EVERYTHING she had ever taught him.

I said, "No, he hasn't. That's only what he would like you to believe."

This is the issue we have had from day one with both of the twins. 
They would love for you to believe they know nothing.
That way you will not be able to get them to exert ANY effort towards learning new things.
We call this behavior, "THE GAME". 
They know in my book it is plain dishonesty.

It shows up in reading, math, chores, memorization, you name it....
it's part of how they cope with life.
I say "COPE".... it's coping instead of really living.

That week he battled against Brianna who was supervising his piano practice. I handed her the baby and told her I would take over. I knew I may as well armor up for WAR,
but I figured it was time.

I sat by him and while he pretended he didn't know the next note I sat silently most of the time and waited for him to work it out. 

AND I mean I waited

5 hours!

I tried to help in several ways but it was clear he was lying and I needed to wait.
His supper waited on the table.
He cried. He kicked. He pouted.
He kept up the charade.

I started having him do jumping jacks
and runs to the greenhouse and back.
and pushing him a wee bit harder all the time.

I made it clear I knew he was lying and had been lying to his teacher as well.

{it just occurred to me that I might have written about this already.... but there's a reason to share it again.}

At about 10 PM he realized I was not going to let him off the hook
and he apologized and played all his songs correctly.
Partly he was too tired to carry on,
partly he understood what I had explained about the "father of lies" and his desire to ensnare James in his net, and partly he knew I was going to hold out as long as it took and he could end "The Game" at any time he chose.

Since then I have sat in on his every practice.
Each day we went around the block on "the Game" but not for more than 10 minutes at a time. In the last week he has stopped that and has made tremendous gains. I am now able to sit across the room from him and he will practice properly.

And the victory is not just in piano.
It translates to math and reading and whatever else.

Yesterday, I was able to congratulate him in front of his dad for being such a good student in all his projects and not even once thinking of playing "The Game". I have him on a pretty tight schedule. He is reading books on volcanoes, building volcanoes, etc and he didn't want to wait until school was out to start his summer math program so he's already up to the first test.  He's very excited to work with me.... in a sense I feel like it is a dry run for homeschooling him eventually so I'm pushing as hard as I feel it is safe. He has taken a long time to get to this point where I can trust him and he can trust me. We had to wait until he was ready
and then I had to push him past his comfort zone.

I need to be super careful still in many ways. He does not handle unpredictable. Don't pop something on him unprepared. Always pre-warn him, etc. Hopefully this will diminish with growth of confidence.

Sadly, for Missy things are NOT going well.
She brings her reading and math to me and desires to have the relationship that is between James and I, but she cannot trust me enough to work with me. She sabotages my every effort. She reverts to "The Game" about 5 seconds in and I AM DONE. I walk away. There is no use until she is ready to put forth something on her part. We are in a really rough spot as far as the relationship between her and I goes right now and it is because she is struggling with jealousy towards James and what she sees him doing and the progress he is making in his life and relationships. She saw me make cookies with James so she wanted to make cookies with me. We start off and within 5 minutes she is doing exactly what I tell her not to and I end up sending her out because no one would be able to eat what she touches if she were allowed to continue. I'm frustrated with her need for full control. Relationships are about sharing.

She IS doing well at the violin, though....
but it's something I don't do with her because I don't know violin.
Her piece at the recital was done very well.

I am praying for something to change here. She's totally stuck and only moves in response to peer impetus. . . . for violin it works, but will only work to a certain point.  It will leave her in the dust sooner than later.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Relief On It's WAY

Hubby is coming home early.


As soon as he left the twins turned into aliens. True story.

All my sobbing text messages *may have* had something to do with him deciding to come rescue me.

{I have to say that James snapped out of it after the first two days. We won't say anything about that other little being wandering around here.}

Old McDonald playing for the dress up recital.

Friday, May 24, 2013


Steve's Mum,
Dorothea Ford at 90 years old.
Steve is spending the weekend with her.

This awesome photo was taken by:
 our very talented photographer nephew, Isaac Wray
last weekend.

About that IEP

I walked into the IEP review meeting.....

Well, actually I missed it a week ago. They forgot to send me the reminder note and my memory is poor. They were kind of glad because none of them had time for it and so it was a rush deal and then the Special Ed gal called me in to go over the paper work with me. I went in with my summer plan under my arm and lots of questions about what they see as James strengths and potential.

And the wind was sucked right out of me before I was ever seated. I was asked if I had considered retaining James since I wanted Anna-Joy retained to give her a better advantage. I said, "No. I had not considered it. No, not at all, since they had given me no reason to believe he needed to be retained".

She said, "Well, we don't retain one twin and not the other. It hasn't worked well for us before and we don't want to do that."

Like WHAT? 

She went on to say they felt that retaining James a year would benefit him a lot. He's made a ton of gains, but after reading his MAP test scores they determined that he is basically at the beginning of 2nd grade in his knowledge. That reasoning was making more sense than the twin thing. I could work with that.

BUT then she said, "We feel like it doesn't matter if we retain Missy or not. There's no advantage to her either way. She's learning but she'll never be one of the other kids in a home room."

And then, I was just SAD.

In the end it was decided to wait and see how James is doing with summer school at the end of August. The Special Ed gal said she doesn't usually deal with parents who school their kids through the summer .... I had my math with me and had showed it to her.

Someday I plan to homeschool again. I wonder if that will be sooner than I realize?

Is anybody else amazed at what they want second graders to know already?

On the Night Stand

Just because I'm reading them doesn't make them all good
or applicable, or anything.....

BUT some are all that.

I get that the brain is "plastic" and can be rewired and I believe with all my heart that an intellectual disability can be reversed, but what I'm having a harder time finding out is EXACTLY
how that is done.

And because I do get tired of challenging parenting
I need to be reminded how to love my kids. . .
and to keep the focus on the heart of the matter.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

All in Day's {trauma}

One of those days!!

  • It would exhaust you to read all that happened today....  and I'm too tired to tell all. Suffice to say that some people ran a LOT of miles today - especially Brianna who is much stronger than I (she's claiming 9 miles - but alternating between two offenders for different miles at various times of the day). 
  • And there is a huge wheelbarrow full of chicken manure cleaned out of the barn by a little girl who needed to think about some different choices she could make - preceded by a spectacular tantrum because she didn't want to, but in the end she did an amazing job.
  • Cookies made as restitution for a big sister by a little brother. 
  • An in-home care worker who was dismissed super early because her charge would not cooperate. at. all. thus the the barn think time.
  • A visit to the dentist. A tooth pulled.
  • A lovely little lie to the bus driver that left her twin brother chasing after the bus screaming in the dust. SO MEAN. So hurtful.
  • The terrible two's in full swing - me sitting in the hallway to prevent him from getting out of bed tonight for TWO hours! 
  • Same 2 year old threw himself out of a crib headfirst because he was angry that I put him there. Man, he's going to break his neck. He absolutely has no self preservation skills.
  • A text or two from Steve who made it safely to his mother's in Canada.
  • A teenage daughter who mowed an older lady's lawns and promptly lost her pay ($20) as she was running down the road to meet up with me . 
  • A reluctant girl and her sister who went and volunteered at horse therapy even though it meant she will be late turning in her math test.... who then exclaimed it was SO refreshing to work with those kids and horses. 
  • A piano Guild (kind of like a piano test on 10 memorized songs) for Christina. A huge accomplishment well done.
  • A 1yr old who entertains the whole house but leaves a real mess in his wake. His current nick-name:  "His Royal Tootness"
  • And then the bomb!!!..... the IEP review for James. I'm still digesting that. Sigh. More about that another time.
Yesterday we had a pretty serious choking incident. James was acting like he couldn't breath, wouldn't answer me, had THAT look, and he was half bent over hands around his neck! I asked if he could breath and he shook his head no. I gave the Heimlich and asked him for some feedback again... NO response. I instructed Christina to call 911. He stood up straight and said "no" all freaked out! I was like, "Boy, you have to tell me the truth in these matters. If I ask if you can breath and you shake your head no but you are actually breathing....!!!"  BUT he was still in pretty big trouble somehow. Christina managed to look in far enough to see that it was a half a toothpick lodged in his throat. She got it out but made him throw up in the process. If there was a lesson learned it was that you aren't suppose to eat the toothpicks little treats have poked into them as handles.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Progress and Where to Go NEXT!

Just taking a mini break from mowing uphill for a minute or two ...

After SEVERAL days of pushing their limits and both children missing the bus, and or breakfast for a solid week they revamped their morning strategy and were on time and EARLY for the bus today. It was a total conscious decision, especially on Missy's part, to be on time. She was SO proud of herself, too. She pointed it out to me in happy chatter over her bowl of cereal.

For the most part, the really really really hard behaviors have kind of melted into oblivion which is much noted and appreciated. I know that just being calm and going with the flow and not acting in a wild and belligerent way actually tones down the stress in their bodies by a hundred fold and they are even more capable of then feeling calm and peaceful. In the same way that they can spiral down, down, down out of control into the depths of chaos, and anxiety, they can work their way upwards and outward into a more restful state. I can't tell you what's working right now. Is it that we know how to diffuse situations more efficiently? Are they maturing enough to be repulsed by certain behaviors to avoid going there? Is the routine just so steady it's all good? Is the consistency of the discipline...(when that happens - this happens every single time!).... finally making some inroads into their brains? Likely it's all of the above.

For the most part, Yes, Missy was way out of control with her in-home care giver a couple weeks ago and she did pull some wacky shenanigans out of her old repertoire, but I totally believe she was testing to see how far she could push this new person. It didn't work out so well for her and she's completely back to working with the lady just fine.  I consistently see this child as WAY below her age level and so it is to be expected that she will act like a 3 year old sometimes - but hopefully not a three year old with severe, severe behavioral issues. She is oppositional. Don't get me wrong. This child is defiantly oppositional and she can't seem to choose a softer approach to authority even when she wants to. It's like she is compelled to have the last word ALWAYS under EVERY circumstance. However, it's quieter than before. She isn't screaming bloody murder ALL the TIME.

Both children got in trouble yesterday. It was typical kid trouble. I asked them not to do something and that's exactly where they were found themselves and before long they were doing it again. It's how they reacted when caught in the act that shows where the progress is made. Missy was a trooper. She begged to be let off the hook with many promises of not ever doing it again, etc.... I told her I forgave her and all that, but it doesn't take away from the fact that she disobeyed and that she needed to learn from her mistake and take her consequence. She responded to her consequence without further ado. THAT shows the real progress. James had a little harder time. He hates to be caught. He started to spit... and I just looked at him and asked him what that was about and it was enough to make him think about where he was headed. He stopped and cooperated after that.

I'm searching, searching, researching for what we need to do next. I have two books on the brain I am reading at once. I have two or three DVD's / online videos I've been watching. I'm connecting with therapists and reading reviews, following leads and exploring every option for improving their brain capacity. I know it can be done. BUT NO ONE will share the information without a MAJOR price tag. It's tough. We're headed towards Neurological Reorganization and it is expensive and hard work, but I have run into a few roadblocks in trying to set up an appointment. I finally have a date, but there's more to it than just having an appointment.  Yay for living in the sticks (not!)

James came home from school last week with a diploma from PT. He has completed all his goals and is PT free now. I was a little surprised. He still would have trouble playing ball.... and no one spoke to me about it at all, but I guess it's good. He was evaluated at the hospital recently also and did not qualify anymore. I have to think that his issues are more about slow processing than actual physical inability and thus we continue OT.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mount St Helens - In Answer to Prayer

This weekend we have had the privilege of having Dr. Doug Newton and his team put on a Creation seminar for us. We had had him here several years ago and we had all learned so much. It was the kind of highlight homeschoolers look for. We were excited to go again and I had a secret hope that it would generate some new interests for James. I prayed over and over that SOMETHING would catch his attention and he would get excited to learn.

We were a little late but the first meeting started off late, so we didn't miss anything, but it meant we sat in the back which was not acceptable seating for Brianna and after 5 minutes she weaseled her way up to the very front row with James in tow. Missy was a case. Totally uninterested and squirming all over the place. We finally told her to lay on the floor and go to sleep.

The first evening the topic was on the catastrophic explosion of Mount St. Helens, which was very apropos since yesterday was the 33rd anniversary of that major event. So much has been learned through this event. It is an amazing study.

There were a lot of drawings and prizes and artifacts to look at, pictures and interesting lectures on varies topics.  James continued to sit on the front row through the whole thing. I wondered what he was taking in and understanding.  He wanted to be chosen for a prize but though his sleeping sister's name was drawn, it never fell to him. She stumbled up to the speaker in a daze totally unsure why she was up there. James waited on the edge of his seat for his turn the whole time always alert. He perused the artifacts of bones and stones and shells and eggs.... at every opportunity. Finally it was all over. And his name had never been drawn and the tears started but when I told him that I would be getting a few DVD's for him he bucked up.

 This morning he greeted me with facts. "Mom did you know that Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980?"

Of the DVDs I bought for him the one he chose to watch first is the one on Mount St. Helens. He has been watching it on the computer and stopping it every time he needs time to soak in the pictures better. He also stops it to discuss with whoever will listen what he's just learned. He stops it to take brain breaks. He points out photos and illustrations that were shown at the seminar. He's totally into it. I know he doesn't understand it all. 

I'm grateful for the new interest. It's what had I prayed for!

Monday, May 13, 2013

They Call Me Mom

Vanessa ~ Brianna ~ Christina ~ James ~ Anna-Joy ~ Buddy ~ Duckie
We worked hard.
My girls have longed ago learned that 
Gifts of Service 
mean the world to me.

The lawns are mowed, 
weeds are whacked,
basement cleaned,
laundry folded, 

The little guys spent the day with their mom and I was able to make headway in reclaiming the house as well.

It feels good to have that much accomplished in one day.

The last few weeks I had been dragging from that sickness
and I was doing good to put one foot in front of another.
I kept saying,
"Do the next thing. Just do the next thing!"

I'm happy to report I'm over the hump and taking it up a notch.
My new line is:
"Do HARD things".

I told the girls the other thing that would please me much
would be a photo of the 5 of them that I could frame.
They dressed up and left for an our and came back with several different and interesting poses.

Motherhood feels like a bit of a conundrum.

I can't take a bit of credit for how well any of them turn out.
The good choices and the dedication of the big girls to God and His will for their lives
is despite my failings ~ and I am blessed,

and yet,

if we don't work our tail off on these next two
they haven't a chance in the world. . . 

I get it, of course.
Every which way you look at it
our reliance must be on God.

Speaking of the twins,

James decided to make me a treasure hunt for Mother's day.
I had to find his messages...

So cute.

 The green card was tucked into the cushions of the couch.
The yellow one on the dash of my van.

I got a text from an unfamiliar and extra long number yesterday.
Words I did not understand.

"Jenet wa mago namba yangu mpya. Its my new number."

I'm a little slow.  
Twenty-four hours later I finally figured out that
Jenet could be my mother, Janet,  who lives in the African village of Mago
where they speak Swahili.
So, I looked up the number and it is indeed from Tanzania.
She doesn't usually write to me in Swahili, though... ??
So, I wished her a happy mother's day and a happy birthday.
Love you,


Friday, May 10, 2013

How it Played Out

Things were escalating. I finally told the worker I was taking over and she could go home 30 minutes early, but I told her to please show me everything that she had expected Missy to do and I would sit by her and wait for her to do it.

Missy then put up a false fight that lasted about 5 minutes and then she got down to business and did EVERYTHING for me just fine. At least she finally has it in her head that I am not to be trifled with. The expectations were not too high. The work was not overwhelming in the least. She was truly trying to get rid of the worker and I know I let her go a half hour early..... but then I made the kid do double. Plus she had to go running. She used up all her play time.

In a sense this display validates my concerns. No one outside our family has seen this behavior at this level for a very long time. Someone has now seen it in full bloom. The poor gal was in total shock. How could such a cute little girl be so aggressive and ornery?

Unfortunately, Missy was passive aggressive this morning and to her great joy...NOT! she missed the bus so she got to go running with dad again to get to school.


Oh dear. Buddy just came out with a nail clipper asking me to clip his nails. He's covered in mineral powder. I guess he thinks he's going out on the town today. He thought he needed makeup!!!! I'm so afraid to check out the bathroom.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Testing, Testing... 1.2.3....

I'm standing by as my daughter tests her in-home care worker to the max.

I've tried to intervene. It isn't working. She's crying buckets of tears because she knows the consequence, though I never mentioned it, but she refuses to respect the woman and follow directions.

This is nothing new, of course. It just means the honeymoon is over and now the child is going to work her finest in getting rid of this worker. The worker has a few strands of grey. She promised me she isn't going anywhere.

I feel sick making this woman go thru this non-sense.

I need to talk with the school and find out if they have been seeing any of this? Or are they just letting her off the hook? How can she be so like this for anyone who asks anything of her at home and we never hear about negative behaviors at school?

She hasn't been doing this kind of behavior for me in awhile - like I'm seeing right now. It's bad. Really, really  bad. Like ripping the pages out of her reader, slamming the table, screaming, manipulating, lying....


A great victory for the babies' mom today. No one can force medication because it isn't needed. She's fine. She has the doctor's word.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

60 days

Is the ruling... Some weird stuff.... But we'll get through it. The mom has the best attitude about it. She's likely to seek better legal counsel because of the fishy stuff.

Happy Birthday Little Duckie!

Sweet, sweet boy!

Little curls, contagious giggle, a toothy smile
Pinch~able chubby cheeks and little fat rolls
Always a happy face and a ready wave
Thrilled to patty-cake and ever dancing with the music
Such a snuggler... and so sweetly patting me on the back

I tell you I am "Aunty" and you call me "Mama", but you know who your Mama is ~ those bonds are as strong as they should be. Today was suppose to be a gigantic celebration.  . . They set this court date months and months ago to close this case with DSHS... And today they are still holding court, but the case is not closing and they will not be discussing celebration. I really don't know what will happen today. I just know I have to leave it in God's hands and just celebrate your 1st birthday at home with you. And celebrate that I know you and love you, and that, though you had a rough start, you are whole and healthy and happy. We won't try to think about the future. We'll just enjoy today.

You think you are pretty big. You made a call to a guy in Florida this morning ~ first thing. We'll have to watch where we put our cell phones from now on!

Have a happy, birthday little man. We all love you!! May your angels guard and protect you and may you grow to love Jesus!
Previous words to this same babe: http://pealsofprice.blogspot.com/2012/06/reunited.html

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Court Tomorrow {Prayers Please!}

Court tomorrow.

I have become more and more uncomfortable with DSHS's handling of this case. I think the babies will not be going anywhere and nothing is going to change much. Which is fine... except that mother has done everything they told her to do and more, but they keep changing the rules. There is some untruths being fed the Social Worker that are making things very difficult. Also, I don't think it is the Social Worker's place to diagnose a parent (based on here-say) with a mental disorder and then say that she won't allow the mother to have her children back until she is on medication. That is SO WRONG! She is neither qualified to diagnose, nor to force a person into medication.  She set up an Psych eval and then this same SW plans to attend the appointment.... Like, WAIT a second! There is something really weird about that. Thankfully that is ringing some alarm bells in some heads and I don't believe she will be allowed to do that. To top that off, the reputation of some of the psychologists here is really negative and we aren't sure which is which.

I just want truth to be known. I want justice; for the kids and for their mom.  I pray that the judge will make the right decision.

Monday, May 6, 2013

THAT Special Needs Mom

The other day I was sitting with a woman at horse therapy. Her daughter was riding, too.  I said, "You know what I like about this therapy best over all the others? There's no homework!"

She laughed and agreed and then she began to open to me what it was like to be her.... that mom with a special needs child. Her daughter has a Sensory Integration Disorder. She struggles with sensory over-stimulation. She told about their therapies, and piano practice, school, their schedule and the balancing act of being fully mom to the 4 year old sibling, as well.

And I started to feel overwhelmed for her... because I could see how it's taken over their family and their day-to-day and over-all life. How it has taken an enormous amount of time and fortitude and persistence to make breakthroughs. How it's changed their social life because, naturally,  it has changed them.

And then I remembered;  I am THAT special needs mom, too.

She had asked about the twins and I had told her a little, but I realized at this point what she needed wasn't to hear about our crazy life ... {as in, I can one-up-you. I have two special needs kids ...} and I was digging down deep for words when we were interrupted from conversation and soon our little riders dismounted their ponies. I'll see her again Friday during therapy, but meanwhile I've been thinking a lot about what it is that we special needs moms need from each other the most.

Is it encouragement to keep plugging away that a difference will be made, by and by?
Is it to remind each other to find bits of joy in the journey & to hold that close when it's hard?
Is it the sharing of information back and forth to ease the roughness of some patches?
Is it validation that they are good moms despite behaviors they have to work through?
Is it friendship to make the journey less terrifying and solitary so they know they are not alone?

Among friends  we don't talk about the deep things much. It can get you into awkward situations if you try. Not many know how to relate or care to go there...  and it gets lonely. Quite lonely. Like living on separate planet from nearly everyone you know sometimes.

I totally get that. I guess I wouldn't have if I hadn't become that special needs mom.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Got Green Drink?

 The Buddy drinks it up lickety-split and says, "MORE! MORE!"

 We have greens of EVERY variety and shape and size in the greenhouse and garden...
and everybody is gung ho about green drinks, 

Except two......
I think though that I figured out a recipe that doesn't make me gag. 
I am not a smoothie or milk shake sort of gal.
I drink only to my health :-)
 And this one?
She drinks only for her mother's sake,
though she's threatening to go on strike... :-/

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Who'd a Thought? Pre Med?

I spent the morning with Christina at the college in the office of her "homeschool" biology teacher discussing her future.

She has big dreams.

She wants to be a missionary doctor should this old world last long enough. It surprises us a little that she is that serious about it. She reads blogs like Olen and Danae's & Bere Adventist Hospital,  Missionary Band and is mesmerized by them. She is riveted by her dad's stories at the end of his work day. She's the first one on the scene of someone needing first aid (if Vanessa doesn't beat her to it. That pull is strong in both of them and they don't shy away from vomit and dirty diapers. Lucky me!).

Forget what I said about her missing the math section of the college entrance exam by two points. They are now testing her to see if she can skip Algebra 105 and head straight into pre-calculus. Apparently Teaching Textbooks has a great reputation with this college and her grades are very good for Algebra 1 and 2, so, we shall see. I hope she doesn't go in over her head.

Speaking of which, she has also been advised to sign up for chemistry the first quarter, also. That put a little fire under her. The fire I couldn't seem to lite to make a certain homeschool chemistry course her priority!!! All of a sudden, it's center stage.  I realize A&P is a major science and doing two major sciences at once is a little tough, but I had this feeling. . . . again, I hope she doesn't go in over her head right off the bat. She is smart enough, but this will be her first "real" school experience.

Seeing she is starting her pre-requisits at the tender age of 15 she is being advised to take three years to get her Associates degree. She has time. She has a lot ahead of her. It could be done in two years with an AST degree, but that transfer degree is only good to certain colleges and could limit her greatly.

She's a busy gal right now. Drivers Ed. Volunteering at the horse therapy ranch, all her homeschool classes to finish up, her jobs, her music lessons and the flute lesson she teaches, and then she helps me out a lot with child care.


It's that time of year when everybody is talking about what their plans are for the next year. So much talk! Some will be trying school for the first time. Some will be leaving school and homeschooling again. Every year is a big shake up and it's kind of fun to see how the chips fall.