Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Birthday Parties and Report Cards........

The girls attended a birthday party on Sunday..............let me preface that by saying the weekend started on Friday when they attended their school's fall festival.  I decided right before school pick up that I would let them go.  They didn't really bug me about it obsessively as they normally do.  So I decided before pick up that I would let them stay.  They could run around, they could do the games and we could hang out somewhere where they could run off their after school energy (with a pm ADHD med booster of course).

When I met them at school I went to the spot where LGA's class goes to the bus.  The look on her face as she saw me was priceless.  Pure joy.  LGA has not wanted to take the bus as she knows that BGA is getting picked up by me (and no BGA can't ride the special ed bus, I checked).  And she's jealous.  But LGA's teacher feels it's important as the special ed day class gets their "pecking order in place" (teacher's words, not mine) that it is important to have LGA ride the bus with her classmates (some of whom live in our neighborhood, a surprising number I found).  So this has caused some dissention here in the FO4 household.  But it's worth it for BGA, who can de-stress and tell me about her day without her sister interrupting (which her sister likes to do just to mess with her, yes we are at that stage here).  So, LGA was pleased to see mommy and even more excited when I said we'd stay for the festival.

Since my mother died, I have had some anxiety issues. I don't know where they are coming from and they truly frustrate me.  Hanging out with Gwen at Nordstrom Rack outlet my reunion weekend, I noticed it.  Going to the reunion I noticed it.  Going to the mall I really noticed it, although going in stores that were not crowded helped.  I wondered what this was.  Well, hanging out with a bunch of sugar hopped up kids, running and screaming and not having had lunch (maybe that accounted for the festival anxiety but not the other times) I was feeling a bit anxious and had to go stand on the wall away from the fray. I spent a half hour in the "fray," while LGA and BGA played games.  There was some confusion (when is there not with an ADHD kid who can't remember what they are supposed to do??) as to whether they had to pay for games (they had to pay for some and some were free).  I had stopped to get breakfast in the am before taking my van to get a low air tire sensor looked at (ugh, it's possibly a battery but anytime there is a weather change there is a low tire sensor that comes on. I have new tires and have not run over anything, so this is frustrating) so I had a small amount of cash on me for them to use to buy tickets.  But they were happy enough when I told them how many tickets they could buy and did not fight me on it.

We left when I couldn't take it anymore, which was an hour into the festival.  They also did not really fight me on that (but I did promise they could play their video games when we got home).  LGA did not have much sugar, but the sensory overload for her was extreme.  We decided to go to dinner after Dave got home and it's getting increasingly hard to take LGA out for dinner these days.  She bugs her sister by kicking her under the table, she gets defiant and loud.  It has been making for a very unpleasant dining experience for us.  We have had some special events this month so have been out for dinner more than we normally would.  Except for a couple of times where we go over expectations, and she gets it, it has not been fun.  So Friday night until we finally got her calm, it was very embarrasing around other diners.  An older couple didn't linger, they just left.  I notice if we come into a restaurant (or if they know us as in our local Denneys where we have gone a couple of times a month for breakfast or dinner, or I have met my neighborhood mom there, they always speak to the girls and don't seat us in back unless we request it) and LGA is loud, they will seat us in the back.  Fine with me, less chance of diners having to listen to LGA.

Saturday we needed to get a birthday gift for the birthday boy whose party we had been invited to.  Now the birthday boy we have met a couple of times.  His mother sells jewelry that I have bought, and she's a sweet gal (I think in her 20's).  She's married and I have met her husband.  She has her son, her baby boy (2 yrs I think, but this kid slays me, he is such a cutie) and her step son.  She has a brother who I know as well.  Her mother is my age and a friend of my friend Kim.  We have all gotten together and they are a great family.  So we were invited to A's bday party.  The girls got to wear their costumes (I'll reveal their choices after Halloween and report on Trick or Treating).

So we go to Old Navy, as I wanted to get a couple of long sleeved t's specifically a darker pink color that they didn't have online.  I also knew that A liked Oakland Raider t's from his mom, so our first stop was there.  Now it's getting also harder to take LGA to stores (she used to ride in the cart and would be fine).  She doesn't ride in the cart nowadays but in a store with carts I will have her push the cart, which she loves.  But ON has no carts, so I was trying to look at what's out and on clearance and find a t for the birthday boy (which I did find).   I also found a couple of things I wanted to get.  Our particular ON now has jewelry so the girls were busy trying to pick up stuff (which was frustrating me because I always feel people are judging me when they grab stuff).  It was getting near time for the pm booster ADHD med, so they were getting a bit hyper.  Of course with LGA's OCD, she was picking up earrings that were out of place and trying to find out where they went on the racks.  I let her do it.  But they were a bit hyper in ON.  ON has toys near the registers.  I have at times, let them get something but this past weekend was about A, the bday boy.  We weren't shopping for toys as BGA's bday is coming up next month and Christmas is coming.  So LGA threw a fit at checkout when she realized that I wasn't going to buy her any toys. I explained why we were there, etc.  I tried to ignore her.  Then I had BGA trying to interrupt me while I was paying.

Now this is a nasty habit they had when they came home that I thought we had worked through but now it is back in full force. I don't know if it's ADHD related.  All I know is when I am at a checkout in a store, one of them will interrupt me. I ignore, they become more insistent. I say, "I need to pay please wait until I am done and then you can tell me what you want to say."  They keep on.  When I am on the phone I explain (and this I know all kids do but that does not make it any less frustrating) beforehand that they need to be quiet while I take a call (and in the aftermath of mom's passing I had to take many calls over the summer) and they aren't quiet, they do (LGA) everything to get my attention.  When I was talking to our new friends at the bday party, they would shout my name at a distance and then try to interrupt me while I was talking. I have tried everything to stop this and don't know what to do as they just demand my attention constantly.  They can be watching tv and will constantly ask me to watch what they are watching (even if I am otherwise engaged) or say, "MOMMY!!  LOOK!!"  several times.  How do I change this behavior??  So this is what happened as I was checking out at ON.  I will share the Target strategy for BGA below.

Target was our next stop and I treated them to ice-ees and hot dogs.  PM boosters were given and we had semi calm behavior to get through Target.  But they constantly pick up stuff so unless I have a list I am almost always distracted and even with a list I will forget something.  We got the other bday gifts (A is a fan of Diary of A Wimpy Kid) and a couple of other things.  But the "I wants" were epic.  I had to keep explaining that we were here for some food items and for gifts for A's bday.  In the checkout BGA started in on talking and asking me things.  So I had her put the bags in the cart.  That kept her busy.  Usually LGA is off looking at something and I have to ask her to come back, but she was by the cart this time (her med kicked in and there was calm).

It's frustrating to take them places and Dave told me I should just shop on my own and not take them.  You get distracted as they are constantly picking stuff up and unless you have them put hands on the cart, you are having to ask them to stay by you and to not pick stuff up.  Is it an ADHD behavior?  Maybe sometimes, but also a kid behavior.  Just frustrating in my old age as I struggle to read off my list and remember what I came to a store for.

The birthday party on Sunday was late pm, so we had all day to lounge.  The girls took baths and watched a bit of tv as there were some Halloween movies BGA wanted me to DVR.  When it was time to go they put on their costumes and we went to the party.

I like these new friends. It has been awhile since we had a group of friends to hang out with and these friends are great.  The mom (N - who is my age)'s older son, D, had all the decorations set up, strobe lights, skeleton figures that light up and talk and a granny figure in the bathroom that scared BGA.  I don't believe she went to the bathroom the whole time we were there.  These friends have not seen a full on LGA fit.  They got to see one at the party. Maybe I should realize that sensory overload is hard for LGA.  She started out at the Fall Festival at school and her whole weekend was just off.   I had to threaten that she would not go to the party if she couldn't behave, a few times.

SO it started at the party when the girls really didn't know the kids there and it took them awhile to feel comfortable.  D started the stereo music going and LGA began to dance on the carpet (it was in the family room) on her own.  That's fine I just cautioned her to not get close to the tv or stereo.  So all was well, the girls like the baby boy so they were playing with him a bit, and LGA found N's younger son (her age) to play with, and another young boy.  In these situations LGA really leans toward BGA to guide her.  BGA, however, is the birthday boy's age and once she felt comfortable with the kids (and I left her alone outside and tried not to hover.  Dave was inside watching the end of the Raider game and the Giants -whoo hoo we won!!! - game) started to hang out.  The boys went off and sort of left LGA on her own.  This is where it gets tough.  She wants to play with BGA but BGA now wants to hang with older kids.  So BGA shut LGA out.  I was a bit mad at this, even though I understood it.  It set off a reaction in LGA.  LGA began to come in the house and flop on the couch and pout, throw a fit.  It got worse when they had games.  They had bobbing for apples, which BGA was excellent at.  LGA was in line behind BGA.  She got out of line and the kid behind her and BGA, told her no cutting.  That was it. LGA was done.  She threw a huge fit that our friends and N's mother and sister, all saw. I tried to calm her down. I made eye contact with Dave and he finally came over to help.  So I got her all talked into trying the apple bobbing, but also said if she didn't want to do it it was ok.  Well.........epic fail.  She gave up before the time was over and we should have left then. However, they hadn't done goodie bags or cupcakes so I didn't want to leave before that as what party is complete without the candy bar goodie bag???  They had been teased (and a few of them went for it) with the candy bar all party long.  So when it became apparent that LGA could no longer hold it together (and she also had one cupcake and a cake pop) it was time to leave.  The party was just getting going and the kids were dancing.  BGA was ticked!  I like our friends and enjoy hanging out with them, but it was hard for LGA to have a fit.  I was not enjoying her throwing a fit in front of them.

We decided again to get dinner as there is a steakhouse in that town that we like and decided that would be my birthday dinner since my bday is this week and we'd be too rushed during the week.  But LGA was holding a grudge against her sister and she didn't know how to process it.  So, she totally misbehaved, kicked her sister (who asked first to sit next to me, which sparked another fit) hard, and was told to stop, but kept it up, screamed, and misbehaved.  I know a lot of this is the fetal alcohol effects going, but it's just so frustrating.  We used to have a good girl in restaurants.  BGA gives up sitting next to me to keep the peace a lot of the time, because it starts when LGA does not get to sit next to me. Sometimes you can jolly her out of it, sometimes you just can't and the rest of the dinner is hard going.  Finally in the end she behaved.  But it was on sensory and possibly some sugar overload and not being able to let go that her sister would not hang out with her.  That prompted some discussion on the way home with BGA and although LGA crashed at 9, she was promptly up at 6. Dave usually has to drag her out of bed for school.  So that could be the time change as well.  Time change, holidays, disappointment, all recipes for disaster. 

I know now why parents of ADHD/fetal alcohol, neurological children skip things like birthday parties.  It's sad but there is a lot of stuff that goes on at these events.  Will they not be accepted, how to handle all the activity, not fitting in, etc.  And sometimes the fall out is huge.  The past couple of days, Dave who does the am routine for the girls, has struggled to get LGA to focus and get ready. Mornings have been hard. I have found some fetal alcohol groups on FB and it's been nice to read what others are going through, and if it's similar, that I can relate to it and get some support.

Dave was off yesterday and we hung out then went for a late lunch before picking up BGA from school.  Her report card came yesterday.  She has slipped from Proficient (grade) level to Below Grade Level.  We told her we allowed for the new school and a quarter to settle in, but now she's settled, and now she needs to step it up.  No awards ceremony for her this quarter.  She was disappointed, but knows she needs to step it up.  She told me that her book reports only needed to be a few lines then we had to sign them.  I felt that her spelling was bad and made her re-do one.  Then I wrote a note to the teacher telling her that BGA had tried to rush through it and that I checked her spelling.  The teacher, who is older and a good teacher, specifically brought in to teach this class, according to the principal, put in the notes section that BGA must read for 40 mins a day AND write a ONE PAGE report of the book she read.  So once again BGA snowed me.  She told me she only needed one paragraph, which was not true.  So Dave worked with her yesterday on her report and she practiced her violin.  Normally Dave would work with them on homework and then they could play a video game or watch a movie with him since he's home on a Monday weekday.  Not yesterday. I worked with LGA and Dave worked with BGA.  BGA's teacher said she needs to do less talking in class (this is a new one, and I think related to trying to meet new friends or be accepted, she's never had this on a report card) and more focus on the teacher.  Teacher did say she enjoyed having BGA in class and that she had no doubts that she would succeed in 5th grade.  So off we go.  I'm waiting for the parent/teacher conference.

LGA has an IEP so we just reviewed her goals.  She is being exposed to the cirriculum for 3rd grade and her homework consists of a 1st grade level reading book, and some double digit add/subtract problems.  We learned she has a processing disorder, so will be seeing what we need to do for that.  She's still taking speech and finally a bit open to us working with her on words, etc.  We will have an IEP for her in Dec and meet the 'team' then, hopefully.  It's hard to get a straight story out of her as she likes to make stuff up (like saying her old speech teacher is back in this school, but I don't think that's true) so it's always challenging trying to get the true story. I have to work with her a bit to actually get what happened in any certain situation. 

So, there's an update for us here at FO4.   We still have Halloween and my birthday coming up and BGA's birthday next month and the start of the holidays.

I'm thinking of all of you on the east coast and hoping you are all staying safe. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Reunions, Vacation and Depression........all in one post!

I had a little vacation the weekend of 10/12.  I drove to my high school reunion in S. CA.

I stayed in a hotel, by myself, no hubby, no kids, no pets.  It was near the beach and I had a very small view of the ocean.  I could see the waves breaking.  It was wonderful.  I drove down Friday and got to my hotel in the pm.  My friend Gwen, one of my high school besties, came to meet me and we talked while I got ready for the pm/evening mixer.  We decided we'd eat dinner first then head up to the mixer.  I'm glad we did that as I really didn't want to stop on the way down (friday LA traffic is not the best) so I ate a protein bar on the way, snacked a bit, and had had a bowl of cereal before I left.

To backtrack, Dave took some vacation time for that Friday and the next week as the girls had a week of 'fall' break.  So I was looking forward to my reunion and then going home for a week with Dave and the girls all home.

The mixer on Friday night was fun. I saw some friends I had not seen in over 20 years.  It was great, as well as good to see some of the friends I had been seeing when I came for visits (a bunch of us gals got together when I was there after my mom died and had a lot of fun). It's always interesting to see how people change or how they are the same.  To try and picture some people from your mind (or in Gwen's case, her yearbooks. She had the advantage of bringing them and then we would look people up if we didn't know who they were and she also looked them up the night of the reunion.  Once again I seemed to be getting ready to go, LOL.).  We left early and decided to head out to the outlets.  Now I do like to shop, but don't really have anyone who likes to shop here where I live, with me (although the girls like to, but that's a different experience, hehehehehe) and I usually go alone or just don't go.  But Gwen was in a shopping mood that weekend and took me to places I hadn't been in years.  The outlets are awesome and we laughed and talked and browsed. 

Gwen's husband and son were away on a weekend trip and her daughter had just had finals and wanted the house to herself (remember when you were a teen and you had the house to yourself??).  She had a series of books she was reading and wanted to read and watch the movies that were made from the books.  So I got to hang out with Gwen and we had the best time.

I had a hard time sleeping on my own and the quiet of my room, but my room was great and I enjoyed having my own little space for the weekend.

Gwen picked me up on Sat am for breakfast at a diner called The Breakfast Club.  Excellent food and conversation.  It lived up to it's name.  :-) 80's themes on the walls and cute sayings on the bathroom walls.

We then drove out to my mom's place.  It has not changed, the new owners (grandparents bought the place for their 20 yr old grandson) had not even changed the odd color my mom had painted her house.  It was bittersweet to drive by there.  I think it would have been hard to drive by it and see it changed.  We then drove by the antique 'village' where I have some of mom's stuff on consignment and I saw a couple of her pictures in the ladies bathroom.  That was a hoot. 

I got a chance to go to Nordstrom Rack for some different pants to wear to the reunion, but both of us felt it was really crowded and loud so we didn't stay very long. 

Gwen and I ended up at Panera (love Panera) Bread co. for lunch and stayed 3 hours talking.  Before we knew it it was time to go to the reunion.

We were pretty late, as we stopped at her place so she could change then to my hotel so I could change.  We got there an hour and a half late.  But we did stay till the end.  :-)  It was fun to catch up with people, and there were a few I had missed, as we just didn't get to talk. 

The last pic is the end of the evening, with Gwen and I and one of our high school friends.I will take these pics down but you can see we had a great time.  We stayed till the end and it was so much fun to see people after so many years.

The next day we planned to go to the beach, but didn't end up making it.  We were tired and we just didn't feel like trekking down to the beach. Gwen and her daughter went to their church and I got to stay in my pj's till 11am. I had bought some pastries at Panera so ate them with some coffee and lounged around till time to get ready.  Since we didn't go to the beach we decided we wanted to check out a 3 story Target in a mall and go to eat at a diner called "The Pit Stop."  We had a lot of fun and brought Gwen's daughter along.  Shopping with a teen gave me some insight to what it will be like when the girls are older.  It was fun and I got to go into stores I had not been into (as we don't have them here).  We dropped Gwen's daughter off and met my cousin for a short pit stop and then decided on a fishouse for dinner.  I ended up giving Gwen most of my plate for leftovers, but once again we closed the place down.  I packed for my drive the next day and was really happy to reach home on Monday.

Dave and the girls were happy to see me and we have had a great week (capping it off on Monday when Dave and I celebrated his earlier bday and went to lunch together).  Dave got sick with a kidney stone on Wed so was not feeling well for most of the week, so we didn't get to do some of the stuff we'd wanted to do.  We still need to go to a Pumpkin patch we got a Groupon for, and we wanted to go bowling. We did manage to take the girls to see Hotel Transylvania and go to dinner afterwards so that was a fun time for them. We watched some DVD's, they stayed in and played with toys, slept in till 7 and stayed up a bit late, so it was fun for them. 

I've been having a bit of depression, dealing with my mother's and cousin's deaths, so I was really having a hard time doing stuff in the house, not wanting to do laundry and waiting till I had a lot to do, not wanting to clean or cook.  I think I'm slowly turning the corner, but it's been a rough path.  I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me, I just seemed to want to sit and do a whole lot of nothing.  I still have days like that, but it's getting better.  I keep plugging along.  Maybe I needed a good break away. I really enjoyed it and actually wished I had more time away.  I think I could have used a whole week and been certainly the better for it.  I arrived home in time though as Dave got his kidney stone and was not feeling well.  Back to reality..........sometimes with special needs kids or kids with issues, you just need a break, you need to know you are a person too, outside of being mom and meeting all their needs.

I really enjoyed my time away and our vacation. I hope there is a next time for me to get away or get some time to myself.  It was sorely needed and lots of fun.  :-)  It helped me to come back with a fresh perspective, having had some much needed time to myself. I was able to handle the week the girls were at home and there were few arguments and fights.  Dave handled things well while I was gone and they had a good time with him.   So, wonder when the next time will be that I can go away on my own and where I should go................

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Daughter Missed Me In School Today......

I got a call around 11, from the teacher.  I missed the call and she left a message that she wanted to speak with me.  Uh-oh.  It was LGA's teacher, so I knew something was up.  Ever have the nervous feeling when calling your child's teacher back???  I sure did.

However, once I called her back the teacher said, "LGA says her cousin got hurt. I tried to have her draw out what she wanted to tell me, as she seemed sort of mopy.  But even drawing it out didn't help.  Can you talk to her?"

Well, we had been talking a couple of days ago, about a girl whose cousin was one of LGA's friends at her old school.  I knew the mother too as LGA and the girl had been friends (the girl was really nice to LGA, so that's why she remembers her) since Kinder.  The girl moved to a different school this year, (as did the girls) however, her cousins are going to the girls' school, now too (they went with their cousin to the previous school).  So the girls have seen the little girl cousin (she is tiny, and seems much younger than her age, which attracts LGA because she likes playing with younger kids).  So I remembered a conversation we'd had about the cousin and how LGA mentioned something about her, etc., and my dective work (which pays off usually if I am on the uptake) deduced that it was the girl K's cousin who had gotten hurt. 

So the conversation went like this (my kids are really shy on the phone):

Me: Hi LGA, what's going on?

LGA: silence

Me:  LGA, what happened?  Did someone get hurt?  (then remembering the conversation about the cousin).

LGA: silence


LGA:  Mommy I just miss you (sigh, long sigh).

Me:  I miss you too.  I love you LGA.

LGA:  I love you too Mommy

Me:  LGA did K's cousin get hurt?

LGA:  Yes, someone hit her.

ME:  Did you tell the yard duty?

LGA:  No.  (then goes on to explain why).

LGA:  I just miss you mommy

Me:  I miss you too.  Hope you are having a good day

LGA:  Sigh.  No.

Me: No?  Well, let's see if we can turn it around.  Did you like the snack I packed for you (Clemmentine with some graham crackers)?

LGA:  Yes.

Me: Ok, well I love you and I'll see you later.

LGA:  Love you too mommy

So teacher comes back on and I share what happened and that I think it was about the cousin of her friend K and I explain the background, then explain (again......already told her this before school started) that my mom died and then my 2nd 'mother' died and that I have been sad some days (although I wasn't yesterday, I just didn't feel well), etc.

Teacher says it was good to know that (I already explained it and wrote it down, but ok).  So we hang up and I hope LGA has had a good rest of the day.

But the part that tore at me was her little voice saying, "Mommy I miss you."  Aw.  BGA used to do that in the beginning too, (I don't think LGA knew that though).  I said to the teacher, "Sometimes you just miss your mommy."  However, the teacher didn't really reply to that, but was trying to find out what was going on, so I had to switch gears and tell her that it was probably related to the cousin getting hit at school.  Someday I will have the conversation about how this is a good thing that my FASD, ADHD, OCD, sensory, etc., daughter just missed her mommy and let me know.

Hearing her little voice on the phone always seems so weird to me.  I'm used to the loud, fit tantrum, sometimes screaming, mad voice, and then the loving voice.  But the phone voice is different.

So, hoping for a good day when the bus drops off LGA.  She's had a tough year, she has an autistic boy in her special ed class and I don't know how to explain why he can't always help what he does.  She views it as him picking on her and really, I don't think he always knows what he is doing.  The teacher says they are all establishing the pecking order, so there are a few tuffles here and there.  It's been hard for LGA as she wants to be in control (just like her sister, who is learning you don't always need to be in control).  I am trying to engage her in getting it out when she sits down for her snack after school and she's getting better at telling me.  The teacher suggested if she has a hard time getting it out to have her draw it out.  So we have yet to do that (maybe because I can understand her better than I think the teacher can), but that's an option too.  But she is talking to me more and less tantrums/fits/explosive behavior when she gets off the bus (which is much nicer.  I really hope they keep her in this school next year.  Too many transitions are hard.  This school is in our zone whereas the first school last year wasn't.  I've asked for her to stay in this school).  IEP coming up in Dec, where I hope to meet her "team."

I think there will be an extra special treat for my baby when she gets off the bus (or after dinner) tonight.