Saturday, October 31, 2009

Nolan Stark

One of my favorite parts of having our kids attend a Christian school is all of the historical Bible and Christian characters they learn about. Just last week at therapy, Tim and Danielle were playing Nolan Stark in the waiting room. I must confess to not being terribly familiar with this important personage of Biblical history.

Time was able to enlighten me through his play as I heard the following lines:

"Quick, Danielle, get in the Nolan Stark before God shuts the door! It's going to rain!"

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Coping with bedwetting

We have a bedwetter. I've mentioned that before so that's not particularly interesting news. It's one of the boys which is not uncommon given his age and the fact that he is an amazingly sound sleeper. Up until recently, he wore pullups to bed at night. We had tried a few different options and those were definitely the easiest. There were no punishments for wetting his pullups even though we thought that at least some of the time he was waking up but not getting up to go to the bathroom.

A couple of months ago I had a conversation with this particular boy that changed how we handle the bedwetting. It was bedtime and I was reminding/encouraging him to get up and go to the bathroom if he needed to go in the night.

"Why? I can just pee in my pullup."

That didn't sit so well with his mama.

Within a couple of days the pullups were completely gone (although I have a few saved for trips so don't worry if we're coming to visit you ;)) and we now have a new system in place. If he wets the bed, he strips his sheets, wipes down the plastic mattress pad cover with a wipe, and puts the wet sheets and pajamas in the bathroom. Then as soon as we get home from school, he has to go upstairs and make his bed with clean sheets before he can play.

We've had some tears over this new system but only over the making of the bed. I showed him how to do it but I do not help him make the bed in the afternoons. He is old enough and perfectly capable of making his bed. We are not treating this as punishment for wetting the bed; rather, it is taking responsibility for your actions (intentional or not). He is still wetting the bed--I would say 3-4 times a week. But I have also heard him get up and go to the bathroom at night which was pretty rare before. I'm really hoping that he is waking up at least a little when he wets the bed so that his body can start training him to wake up when he needs to go.

While it may sound like this new system puts a lot of burden on the boy, let me mention that it has increased my laundry load tremendously. It would be much easier to use the pullups. But I don't think that would be helpful to him in helping his body learn when it needs to wake up. And his future wife will be amazed at how well he makes the bed someday--he's getting lots of practice!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The theology of boys

Tim: Mama, how old is God?
M: Oh, he's pretty old. He's been around forever.
Tim: Is he 21?
M: No, much older than that.
Tim: Is he 121?
M: No, even older than that.
Tim: When I go to heaven, I'm going to ask God how old He is.
M: That sounds like a great idea.
Tim: But you go first and ask Him, okay?
M: Okay.
Tim: 'Cause you're going to heaven first, right?
M: I'm pretty sure.
Tim: So you go to heaven, then Alex and me, but not the girls because they're sisters.
M: Oh really?
Tim: Yeah. Sisters don't go to heaven. You just used to be a sister. So you can go to heaven now.

Oh how they make me laugh...dinnertime is never dull at our house!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What do I say??

I'm hoping you guys can help me out here.

Quite frequently when I am out with the kids I get comments. I've gotten the "Are they all yours?" question a lot. So far, my favorite response to my response of yes was the man yesterday who said "Congratulations!" I like that a lot better than "Wow, you've got your hands full." :)

But there's one comment I've gotten several different times that I just can't figure out a good response. It inevitably comes up from women who ask if any of them are twins (or occasionally, triplets). When I say no, they are 7, 6, 5, and 4 years old, I quite frequently get the comment of "oh my goodness, you were pregnant for four years!" LOL

In not all cases is it necessary or beneficial to share that all of the kids were adopted. I'm still torn as to how much of their history I should share and how much I should let them share if they so desire. They know they were all adopted and we frequently talk about Ukraine, things that happened while the boys were still in Ukraine (that Mark and I did before they joined the family), and things that happened while the girls were still in Ukraine. It's really part of our dinnertime conversation (as in Tim saying "no, you didn't go there Danielle--you were still in 'kraine") and I'm not sure the kids realize there's any other way to join a family.

At the same time, when the pregnancy comment is made it is usually by people I don't know and won't ever see again and quite often that I am only seeing for a few minutes while waiting in line somewhere.

I figure I've got a couple of options. I could smile and say something like "It would appear so" and leave it at that. Or I could say "Actually, they were all adopted" and let them ask any questions they want. Part of my dilemma is that I don't want the kids to think I'm ashamed in any way that they joined our family through adoption, not birth. I don't want them to think I'm not sharing that or correcting people's misconceptions because I don't want people to know. I also don't want to get into an in-depth discussion of our family's history with random people I don't know.

Any thoughts??

Monday, October 26, 2009

The true benefits of having four children

On Saturday night we went to a Trunk-or-Treat at the church of one of my friends from work. We thought it would be a fun, low-key thing to do with the kids and no costumes were required.

They had a BLAST!

There were canival games set up inside (ring toss, bean bag toss, ladder golf, etc.) and free food. The kids played games for awhile and then we ate. Emily got pretty overstimulated pretty quickly--it was loud and there was a lot to see. Usually when she gets overstimulated and/or tired (here she was both, even though she'd had a nap in the afternoon) she gets overly affectionate with anyone and everyone. However, Saturday night she didn't try to hug a single person there!! Woohoo!!!

I did keep her on a short leash. :) She was either holding my hand or in my or Mark's arms the entire night. I'm not stupid and I'm not going to give her the opportunity to try to hug other people. :) But there were a few times that she could have reached out for people and she didn't--not once. It was great.

The other kids had a great time. I think it helps Danielle to have the boys lead the way. She always watched intently as they played the games first and then she took a turn. Alex really got into the games and he had so much fun.

After the games and food we went into the parking lot for the Trunk-or-Treat. For those of you not familiar with this, people park their cars in a parking lot and then open their trunks and you go from car to car trick-or-treating. It's usually safer than trick-or-treating on the streets and it's a little more controlled...perfect for our bunch.

The kids loved the trick-or-treating and wow did we come home with a lot of candy. I never really thought about how much we would multiply our candy haul with four kids! I decided we don't need to buy any candy for Halloween now...we can just pass out what we collected Saturday night. ;) Tim didn't get to trick-or-treat part of the time as he decided he didn't want to be polite and say thank you after people gave him candy. Not allowed in our household so he missed out on several cars due to a lack of manners.

The kids haven't even eaten any of the candy yet. They went straight to bed when we got home Saturday night and they never asked about it on Sunday (although they did play with all of their toys and pencils that they acquired there--the plastic frogs that you push on to make jump were a HUGE hit!).

Don't worry, I'm taking one for the team and making sure the kids don't get too much of the candy. And yes, I will be the one still on a sugar high at Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I never thought I'd be buying denture adhesive at this stage of life

Indeed I am.

But that's really great news because it means Emily has her obdurator!

We went last Monday to pick it up but it didn't fit quite right. The orthodontist wanted to make some adjustments so we arranged to come and pick it up on Thursday. None of us noticed what the real problem was until then.

Emily's impressions were made by her pediatric dentist when she was sedated for all of her (four!) root canals. None of us thought anything about it, but he did the impressions before the root canals and crowns which makes sense since he wouldn't want the impression goop to pull off her new crowns.

Only...he wasn't able to save one of her teeth. A tooth that was still present in the impressions when the orthodontist made her obdurator. A tooth that was supposed to support one of the wires for her obdurator.

So while the orthodontist adjusted it as best he could, he recommended that we use denture adhesive to hold it in place until she gets used to having it in and can keep it in herself. They recommended that we try to have her wear it about an hour a day until she gets used to it and gradually build up.

Thursday and Friday she wore it for a few minutes at a time. I was still trying to figure out how much denture adhesive to use (it says use sparingly at first and I took them at their word!) and wasn't using enough to keep it in place. Saturday she wore it for about 45 minutes and today she wore it for a few hours! Once it's in she forgets about it so I think she'll be used to it in no time. She hasn't tried eating a whole meal with it in yet so that will be an adventure.

It's pretty amusing to hear her talk. Her S's are completely gone. Without the obdurator she makes S's by sending air through her nasal cavity (the equivalent of making the S sound with your mouth open for those of us with a cleft palate) and she doesn't know how to do it when the hole is closed odd. It's funny because she can tell she can't say the S's but she can't figure out how to do it yet.

Once she gets used to the obdurator she will wear it pretty much 24 hours a day. We'll take it out once a day for cleaning (with denture tablets!) but she will eat and sleep with it in.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The scariest time of the year

No, not Halloween. Parent-teacher conferences. ;)

In all honesty, they went about as expected.

Alex does well when he applies himself and pays attention, but he has a really hard time focusing. He's really struggling with the concept of money (he knows pennies, dimes, nickels, and quarters but struggles with adding up coins of different denominations) but his addition and subtraction are making good progress. His handwriting has greatly improved although he has his days of being sloppy on occasion (shhh...don't tell, but he has better handwriting than some of the other kids in his class!!). Rhyming is killing him...I've got to find a way to teach it to him visually at least as a starting point. He doesn't get that the ends need to sound the same for two words to rhyme. He continues to do amazingly well in spelling, including spelling dinosaur, October, and September right on his verbal spelling tests!

Tim is doing great with phonics and numbers but gets bored in class and acts up. I'm not a bit surprised. We did most of the stuff they've been working on in kindergarten over the summer. His handwriting could stand a lot of improvement but until they get into second semester he's going to continue to be bored with the work.

Danielle loves school and it shows. She's had some behavior issues but usually not the same one twice. :) Most of that is just trying to figure out how this life-outside-the-orphanage works. Her teacher was a little concerned that she didn't know her colors or her numbers yet, but I assured her that Danielle is right on track with where she should be at 5 months home.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A few notables

Emily faceplanted off of the island in the kitchen. Yes, I know I shouldn't sit her up there, but it lets her watch and keeps her out from underfoot while I'm cooking. She leaned a little too far and went right off the edge. Good thing her nose is already a little flat. ;) She actually wasn't hurt at all, just scared.

I had an argument with Tim about Alex. He was stating that Alex didn't like the cars from the Cars movie. I told him he couldn't decide what Alex liked (Tim wanted the Cars pajamas that Alex was wearing). Alex ended the debate when he turned to me and said "No, I don't like the cars in the movie. I just like princesses."

Tim set up the chairs in the therapy waiting room and proceeded to "conduct" a concert while Emily and Alex were in speech.

Danielle has earned a caramel apple and a popcorn ball for excellent behavior at school on two separate days! She kept getting them confused so she kept telling people she got a "caramel popball".

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Meeting a princess

We had a busy weekend although we tried to make it feel pretty relaxed for the kids. Saturday morning was a dress rehearsal for our band concert today. Mark played in the dress rehearsal and I sat with the kids. We listened to a couple of pieces and then I took them out into the hall and we had a picnic lunch (it was way too cold to eat outside). As they finished eating, I sent them to the bathroom and then changed their clothes for the afternoon wedding we were attending.

Alex got all dressed up and then went back in to finish listening to the rehearsal--by himself! He did a great job sitting and listening. He's really growing up in so many ways. :) Tim and the girls stayed out in the hallway with me and I had just finished getting everyone dressed when rehearsal ended. I flew into the bathroom and changed and then we hit the road for a two-hour drive to the wedding. We arrived right as the wedding was starting and were there in time to see the bride walk down the aisle. As soon as Danielle saw Katy, she turned to Mark and said "Princess??" LOL She was infatuated with Princess Katy and her dress. It was adorable and so sweet to see.

The kids did great at the wedding. It helped that it was a Catholic wedding so we did lots of standing up and then sitting back down. Much better for them than sitting down the whole time. :) We had lots of time to play at the reception and the kids got their first taste of buckeyes (peanut butter balls covered in chocolate). We have lots of real buckeyes on our street so when Mark said there were buckeyes on the table to eat both of the boys wanted nothing to do with them until he explained what they were. :)

Sunday afternoon another couple came to the band concert to sit with the kids. They also brought their two boys who are in Alex and Danielle's classes so it was fun for the kids to have some other people there that they knew. All of the kids did really well at the concert. Emily in particular loves to mimic the conductor, although her favorite instrument by far is the cymbals. Tim commented that we also have a xylophone at home (a toy xylophone) like the one at the concert...and that he thinks we need to get some drums for home. Mark wasn't so keen on that idea and I told Tim he'd need to talk to his Aunt Diane (who's a percussionist). :) :)

Friday, October 16, 2009

End to a great week

Alex ended the week really well. He only brought home one unfinished paper each day on Wednesday and Thursday and both of those were completed within 15-20 minutes at home with minimal fuss. I don't know how long it will last--I'm not so naive as to think we won't have a regression or two ;)--but I'm enjoying it and I think he is too!

I won tickets to the circus through another local blog so we all went to the circus Thursday night. The boys have been to Circus Flora but the girls have never been to a circus before. Danielle was a little overwhelmed and scared at the beginning. It was loud and dark with random lights and she had no clue what was going on. But as it went on she enjoyed it more. Emily thought it was the coolest thing ever. The boys liked it except that Alex had some issues with some of the tricks. At one point, they "sawed" one clown in half. Alex was on the other side of Mark, but apparently he was shouting "No, no, don't do it, it will hurt!" to the clowns.

What's really awesome about that is that it shows he is developing theory of mind. One of the components of theory of mind is empathy. When Alex first did testing for his speech apraxia the testers were concerned that he did not show good development of theory of mind--in other words, understanding that other people do not perceive situations the same way you do and may not feel the same way you do. So even though Alex was comfortable in his chair, he was able to understand that a clown was about to be "sawed" in two and that that would hurt that man (that the man was not comfortable just because Alex was comfortable). That is an amazing jump in emotional maturity for him! He was also worried when one of the acrobats was going to jump through a ring of fire.

Friday the kids were off of school (we would NOT have taken them to the circus late at night if they'd had school the next day! ;)) so everyone got to sleep in. Since Alex had done such a good job with his work last week I just let everyone play all day. It was a great day and we had a lot of fun home together!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Please pray

Some friends of ours are having a struggle in their marriage right now. Would you please pray for them? Marriage is something that Mark and I hold in very high regard and we are working to help this couple get some resources, but I know that more than anything what they need right now are prayers.

If you like to pray for specific things, please pray for commitments to behavior change, unity for the family, and healing for the trust that has been broken. Please also pray that all involved in this situation would be able to find resources to help them work through this.

Monday, October 12, 2009

We bled it out of him

No nosebleeds or puking today and...

Alex did ALL of his work at school today!!!

I was so proud of him and gave him lots and lots of praise! I hope he can see the benefits of doing his work at school. He still had work to do at home (from work he didn't get done last week), but not much and it was done quickly and without complaining. I don't know how long this will last, but if he can keep this up we'll be doing some serious celebrating.

In other news, this weekend we moved our bedroom. When we first got set up in this house, we put our bedroom next to the girls' room. I wanted it that way so we'd be able to hear them and get up with them at night right after they came home. Unfortunately, our room is only separated from the girls' room by a set of pocket doors. When we go to bed at night, the light from our room shines into the girls' room and wakes them up and we can't talk at all without waking them.

Yesterday we swapped our bedroom and the kids' playroom. They now have a slightly smaller room but still a good space for play and we now have a bedroom that doesn't border anyone else's bedroom. I am loving it! We've only had one night there and I'm already so glad that we switched. We can still hear all of the kids, but this way we're also not walking by the girls' room as much at night and in the morning on our squeaky hardwood floors. I think this is going to be a much better arrangement for all of us!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

And so...

It was the shortest stomach flu in history. I think it lasted a grand total of about 6 hours. No fever, but Alex did throw up several times and felt very puny. He was done throwing up by Friday afternoon and slept a LOT all day Friday but was still a little under the weather on Saturday. We did let him go to a friend's birthday party on Saturday (after talking to the mom to make sure she was okay with it) and while he didn't have as much energy as usual he had a good time. And he slept really well Saturday night.

Thankfully, although I felt queasy all day Friday, I never threw up. :) Everyone else seems to be fine. I'd say it was something he ate except we all eat the same stuff. Who knows?

Today we got to see my sister and brother-in-law who happened to be in town. We had breakfast with them before they headed home and then we went to church. The kids are doing really well with sitting in church with us. Emily loves to sing which is really cute to watch. She's absolutely amazed when we sing--I'm not sure she had ever heard anyone sing before and didn't realize people could make noises like that. Now that she's figured it out she will walk around the house singing (which I do as well so it's not too surprising).

I'm still concerned about Alex even though he had a great day today. Full of energy, good appetite...really good day all around. But then tonight as he was writing his spelling words he asked for a Kleenex. Since his nose wasn't visibly running, I told him to finish the word he was on and then get one. All of a sudden I hear "MAMA!" and look up to see blood pouring out of his nose. It was a doozy of a bloody nose although we were able to get it stopped within 15-20 minutes. He was a good sport about it after he figured out that it didn't actually hurt and that Mark and I didn't think it was a big deal (or at least that's what it seemed like to him!). I'm hoping he doesn't get one at school although we went over what he needed to do if he got another one and I had him practice squeezing the correct spot on his nose to help stop the bleeding. I don't really mind if he gets one at just makes such a mess and I don't want him to panic over it. Never a dull moment... ;)

Friday, October 09, 2009

I'm glad I'm not a sympathetic puker

Yeah, you might want to stop reading after the title if you have a sensitive stomach. :)

Alex has the stomach flu. Maybe Emily, too, but if so hers is a little further down the line already. I got a call this morning that Alex had thrown up at school. Then I got a call from the preschool that Emily had had a massive diarrhea incident, and since there's been so much stomach flu going around they wanted me to come and get her. Then I got a second call from the school that Alex had thrown up again and needed to go home. And I wasn't feeling so hot myself.

We came home and Alex seemed to feel great--I thought this was another of his "morning sickness" problems which happens on occasion if he gets dehydrated. He was starving at lunch and I let him eat his school lunch, plus a banana.

It all came back up about 45 minutes later. He's been throwing up about every 30 minutes and he just feels yucky. A little while ago he asked to come downstairs. I think he had the idea that if he could get out of bed he would stop throwing up. He was downstairs for about 10 minutes before he requested to go back to bed. :)

Emily's had one more episode of diarrhea but seems to feel great. So if she's got the flu I think it's already working its way out of her system.

I am so grateful for the school our boys attend and that our house is so close. One of the teachers is walking Tim and Danielle home for me since I can't leave Alex and I don't think he'd be able to make the walk right now.

Here's hoping no one else comes down with it!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Sometimes my children baffle me

On Monday Emily came home from preschool after a really good day there. But once she got home, as soon as I was out of sight (in another room) she would start wailing and crying uncontrollably. I couldn't figure out what was wrong or what to do with her. I finally ended up laying her down for a few minutes. Unfortunately she fell asleep...since it was 4:30 I didn't really want her taking a nap so I had to wake her up.

You can imagine how well that went over. :) :)

So she went to bed--pajamas and all--at 5pm, was asleep by 5:30, and slept until 6:45am the next morning. I was worried that she might be coming down with something, but she seems to have been fine every day since then. Apparently our weekend just wore her out!

We've been struggling with Tim to get him to memorize his Bible verse for school. Every week they learn a new Bible verse, and since it's the only "homework" they really have in kindergarten we've been strongly encouraging him to work on his Bible verse. This week he knew his Bible verse--reference and all--by Tuesday afternoon! I picked him up from school and he said "Mama! Mama! I know my Bible verse! 'God is love.' 1 John 4:8. You didn't help me!" with lots of dancing around. So funny, and he is so proud of himself. I'm hoping we can encourage at least one of our children that it's easier to do your work than to fight over it.

Alex has had an interesting week. His teacher has been out for a funeral. That has not helped the "getting work done" problem, but I realized yesterday that he has not flipped out over having a substitute teacher. This is huge for him! He does know his sub, but last year that didn't even matter. Last year if he had a sub we saw the consequences at home as well as him having problems at school. This year? No big deal. Yay!

I find joy in every single bit of progress he makes (in part because it keeps me from going crazy over the schoolwork issue ;))! And he continues making lots of progress! :)

Tuesday, October 06, 2009


We had a really good weekend.

We had a lot of fun with the kids and Alex worked hard and got ALL of his work done with minimal whining. That in itself was amazing. I had hoped it would carry over into school yesterday.

But no.

He did nothing at school yesterday. And it's not that the work is confusing for him or too difficult--the two papers he brought home completely blank were handwriting. He had to copy the words or letters--already written on the paper--a certain number of times.

I gave him a little over an hour to work on it yesterday (thanks, BT!) and he got almost nothing done. So I sent a note to his teacher today telling her what had happened and asked that she give whatever consequences she thought would work best for him to get his work done. I also suggested one other thing she might try, so we'll see if she takes me up on it.

He has been told he will not go on his upcoming field trip if he is not doing his work. And if his Monday and Tuesday work is not done before this evening, he will not go to soccer practice which means he will not play on Saturday. It's a hard stance to take but we aren't sending him to school to play. He gets plenty of time to play at home.

In other news, I think Mark got a big kick out of watching me work with Alex on his flashcards last night. I told him I was about ready to assist in some further remodeling of our house by taking out some of our plaster walls. By banging my head on them. ;) A couple of the walls only need one or two good blows to bring them down, so I figured I could have taken several walls out last night. If I'm going to be frustrated, I might as well put it to good use!

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Crazy week

Alex is driving us crazy. He has basically stopped doing his work at school which means he has to do it at home. It is making my afternoons nuts to be trying to get dinner on the table, help Tim and Danielle with any homework they may have, and keep Emily entertained all while listening to the whines of "I can't do it...I can't find it...I can't...I can't" (which, by the way, he can, and when he stops talking he gets his work done very quickly).

Tuesday night I hit a wall and said no more. Yelled it is probably more like it. :)

I told Alex that because he wasn't doing his work at school that he would not be going to school.

What he didn't know is that I already had to stay home Wednesday morning to wait for the gas man (long story--huge bill in the summer--meter not working--fixed now). I took the opportunity to try to convince Alex that it would be a much better idea to do his work at school rather than at home. Part of the issue is that I think he likes the attention he gets from me (even if some or most of it is negative) when he does his work at home. No matter what, he has to have me check his work and sign off on it, and if it's wrong it gets erased and redone.

All of that changed Tuesday.

He brought home 4 papers he had not done (completely blank--all of his seatwork for the day) and another math paper that had to be corrected that he had failed. I was livid, because every piece of paper he brought home was on things that he can do without any assistance whatsoever. And because of the school district we're in, we send the kids to a small private school, so we are paying for him to go and not do any work and then make the afternoons and evenings miserable doing it all then.

So we have a new rule at home for him. Any work that does not get done at school will be done (or corrected) at home. And then it will all be erased and done again. And again.

Yesterday morning he spent at home doing his work again and again and again. He missed chapel, bake sale, recess, and lunch with his friends (and you can bet I reminded him of that several times). After the gas man had come and gone I took him to school...just in time for seatwork! What a fun day, huh?

I honestly don't know if it will help, but I'm at my wit's end trying to figure out how to get him to do his work.