Monday, November 23, 2015

They Really Want to Go Swimming

We've had a hard, hard week. The twins have been pushing against their responsibilities.  I have not budged, but they keep pushing back harder. It's not like anything has changed. I didn't really add anything new, I just am holding the line where I've been holding it and they have been trying to strong-arm it away. Missy has had tantrum after tantrum and the harder I try to work with her the worse she gets. And so when I go places I won't take her with me, and she tries to bully me into taking her. Forget it kiddo. Change the behaviors first. I have gotten really tired. (Brianna gets home tonight from Oklahoma. YAY!)

This morning they did not get out of bed until 7:30 or later. Breakfast is at 7:30 except on the weekends it is at 8:00.  I drove Vanessa to the bus stop and got myself behind the school bus. All the kids in the countryside are dressed and have eaten and are on the bus and my kids are still laying in bed and had no motivation to get up and get the day going. Missy came into the kitchen about 7:35 and said, "I will be here for breakfast at 8:00."

I just said, "Today is Monday. Breakfast is at 7:30."

She turned around and walked out. I went about my business.

Neither kid showed up again for a long time - like 2 hours. If they happened to pass me they did not speak to me or look at me. My experience has taught me that there is nothing I can safely say at this point that won't throw us into a power struggle when they set themselves against the schedule hard like that. I remained silent. At  9:45 I took two pieces of paper and wrote their names on the top. Then wrote out a math problem for them regarding how many minutes late they were to breakfast and a list of jobs. On the bottom I wrote that if they expected to go to swimming tonight they would be working very hard today.  I set out a bowl of lentils and a serving of corn chips and a kiwi each and wrote for them to help themselves to their lunch when they were ready. I went in my bedroom and locked the door.

I heard them go and eat. I heard dishes being washed. I heard the vacuum running. Math got done, their laundry is nearly done, their rooms are vacuumed, and so are the stairs, the kitchen is clean and the floor is swept. I've come out and made vegetable soup and they are still hard at it. The bathrooms are being cleaned. The eggs are gathered and sorted, the garbage cans are emptied, the shoes are put away....


I reminded them that skipping their personal responsibilities, like teeth brushing, was invisibly on their lists as well. Suddenly they were both brushing their teeth. The lists are completed but they continue to look for things that need doing because they know if I catch them sitting around it's not likely going to sit well but I won't say a word and so they would be left guessing. They used up their free time this morning, as far as am concerned. They really do want to go swimming tonight.


5:30 AM. 24 degrees. 17 miles. And he's off to work on his bicycle. I really did offer to drive him but he's dedicated to his health. 😶 yesterday it took him an hour and a half to get there - something to do with how cold and how dark it was. At least today he can snag a bus for part of it. Yesterday he was chased by a big German shepherd. Last week he nearly hit a dead deer... But until the snow gets too deep he's riding. #determined #onecarfamily #reflectivegear #lovethatmanofmine

Monday, November 16, 2015

Raising Lions

It was Sunday and James was standing outside wailing loud and long enough for the whole valley to hear. It was time to clean the barn. He didn't want to. Every week is the same song and dance.

I was so tired of it. He's been calmer, more appropriate, and easier to live with, but he's still extremely repulsed by work, or anything he perceives as hard, and anything that takes muscle or mental effort. That's pretty much life so we endure tears frequently. His physical therapy team is about to dismiss him because he will. not. work. on strengthening his muscles. They say he shuts down the second he perceives that he must exert himself in the least. He's stuck physically, mentally, socially, emotionally, and developmentally because he won't do the work it takes to move on. Not a hair.

Vanessa bailed me out. She took him running. They ran along the irrigation ditch as far as it goes West, and then turned around and ran back and around the mountain so that they went as far as it goes West on that side. Then they ran along the road and up over the mountain to our side again. He decided to clean the barn without another word. If a barn could sparkle....

Meantime I cried and then prayed and then got on google and typed "lazy 11 year olds". Desperate times call for desperate measures!!  :-)

I scrolled through a few useless things and very nearly scrolled right on past a recommendation for a book. Raising Lions The Art of Compassionate Discipline by Joe Newman did catch my eye and I downloaded it to my Kindle app and sat down to read.  And READ. I read it all before the evening was over.

Raising Lions is a book for parents or educators dealing with behavior problems.  It is simple, straightforward, practical, and encouraging. James is William of the story of chapter 4. He is passive and content with his state of affairs. He has every avoidance technique mastered and exercises very little self-regulation.   Missy is Emma of chapter 5 who is manipulative, oppositional, emotionally volatile, will not accept correction or consequences or direction, wants everything to be fair,  and is super competitive. Both children are stuck in the stage where they believe they are what the writer terms omnipotent. They are the most important person in their world. They must control everything or everything will spin out of control. They have not reached the developmental milestone of interdependence. Consequently they have are not really developing relationships and it's no wonder they don't worry about hurting feelings, or destroying friendships. They don't get it.  As for us,  I've become the authoritarian parent and Steve is moralizing till we are all blue in the face. This is born of our utter frustration and burnout. We are getting close to six years of this...

I quote from " Raising Lions challenges us to re-examine our interactions and relationships with children, re-think the root causes of behavior problems and find new ways to support healthy, happy development."

I'm going to let you scour for reviews online. They are out there. Here's one to get you started:

We've done some things right. We have done some things wrong. I can see how having the kids do jumping jacks for a minute or two when they are struggling goes right along with the writer's plan, except we are creating stimulation instead of boredom, but it has been working. Having the door alarms goes along with the plan, too in that it creates a safe place to put a stop to behaviors - but I can see how I can do it differently and not leave them for longer than they absolutely need in order to reward their efforts at self-control. I can see how bringing them home to educate them cut out a lot of people in their lives that might have been catering to their "disabilities" and also created a consistency that is necessary. It cuts a lot of their power in being "disabled" out. We need to empower them to develop to their full potential, not bow to their "omnipotent" power of controlling the world around them to keep everything the same.


I have a podiatrist appointment Wednesday.
We are dealing with more than plantar fasciitis. I could survive the fasciitist on its own, but I compensate for the high arch by carrying all the weight on the outside of my foot. From what I can gather I am dealing with lateral column overload.... We shall see if I'm right and if there is anything we can do about it.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Success Story in the Making

Sometimes I want to write and I just can't get there. It's not like there is a reason not to I'm just struggling with a mindset. But here's the truth. My house is clean from top to bottom, save one major closet, and a few dishes in the sink.  I can almost never say that so I HAVE to say that. Harvest season is over, there's no canning to do, my greenhouse takes very little time to look after right now, and I might as well wait for the rest of the leaves to fall before we rake them again. We've had a string of wonderful, interesting young people coming and going and today the last of them left for the airport. Brianna left for a couple weeks, too.  We've even gone on our last weekend outing until winter is over. It's like we we turned a page and completely entered a new season starting today. Until today we have had plans and people and things to look forward to. . .

 So, let me share some good news that I've wanted to write concerning the twins. Steve and I decided to start them on the Feingold diet several weeks ago. I've been considering it for some time, but it's a bit overwhelming to get started. When you are already dealing with overwhelming behaviors it's really hard to want more of that.

#1. We noticed that on the Feingold Diet that Missy was calmer right away. Eventually James calmed, too. My kids have always fluctuated, though. We have had days of peace and relative calmness in bits in pieces over the last 5 years. Never consistent, never both kids at the same time time, and never for long. I thought it might be a fluke at first. The first few weeks of the diet were calmer, not super good or anything, just calmer. Things improved over the next couple weeks so much so that when we went to the church camp for the weekend the kids behaved like normal children. They enjoyed their whole time there. There was no pushing the boundaries, no attention getting behaviors, no inappropriate behavior, no fussing. They even accepted the fact that they could not eat everything served in the dining hall without any issue. It was unreal. We were quite amazed. We have NOT ever had a peaceful weekend like that with the twins since they joined our family. I do mess up on the diet sometimes, and I really messed up this past weekend. We totally paid for it with a screaming, raging, swearing and hateful tantrum on Sunday, each. Today they are fine. I see through the window that they are playing "Journey to Bethlehem" on the lawn together. They are even singing Mary Did You Know at the "manger".

#2. We really, really, really enforced the NO whining, no huffing and puffing, and no saying "No" to authority. Ever. Period. We did burpees and pushups and sit-ups and such for any and every infraction. We were on top of it. Brianna and I were a team and the twins were either with her, or me 100% of the time so there was no getting away with it ever. It was exhausting. The first week all we did was push-ups and burpee. They were doing so many ALL day long that we had to get creative and use jumping jacks and other things so as not to over-work their little muscles. Missy can now pump push-ups like nobody's business. James not so much, he doesn't put out any effort to build any strength and one can actually do all the activity and not build a single muscle if that is your goal. By the third week we were only doing them 6 or 7 times a day. By the fourth and fifth week they were doing them maybe three times a week.  Let me note that the heart is not at all changed by these exercises. That is still my number one goal, but expect that will happen "sooner than we think and longer than we wish".

#3. We put up the chart I explained in the last post and enforced it to a T. The first 2 weeks the kids took turns missing out on the blessings offered. They both missed sometimes and we had some phenomenal tantrums over that, but we stuck to it like the ten commandments. And then they went two days without missing and then three and then they were able to go almost a week without missing a single blessing.

#4. Tantrums were relegated to the bedroom with the door alarm on. This is a change from having their tantrums outside on the porch. If they wanted to destroy anything it would be their own property in their own rooms. They have both put holes in their bedroom doors and that is about it. I'm not going to fix the holes. Those will serve as reminders.

#5. We put Missy on a low dose of ADHD med. I can't tell if it is helping. I think the diet is more beneficial at this point, but desperate times call for desperate measures and we were desperate. Kind of bad timing on my part. The doctor was worried it would affect her appetite. She need not fear. That child could eat a horse anytime.

view from the house
It is quite obvious to everyone in the house that we are experiencing a measure of success. Yesterday's big tantrums were a reminder of where we have come from. We don't want live in that zone anymore. I can't wait to figure out just exactly what in the diet is effecting their ability to be calm and controlled. It's going to take patience though.

I'm thankful.

I am beyond grateful.

*And I'm burned out.*

I've been exercising like crazy and it is helping me but I have a serious problem with my feet. Some days I'm a total cripple. I'm waiting for my appointment to the podiatrist and hoping he can work a miracle. But I don't think that is going to happen. I have to figure out how to keep going...
Colchuck Lake Hike