5th Grade Moving Up Ceremony and The Future

Yesterday was our fifth grade Moving Up Ceremony.

I’m so proud of the strides and growth my little man has made this year. I know that without the amazing teachers he had this year, our lives could have turned down a really, really bad path. I am so grateful for those teachers that helped us, there no words to adequately describe it! 

Things have been crazy emotional. I really miss my mom and wish she was here to see it. I know she was with us in spirit, or whatever not.. but it really stunk not having her by my side. Nobody fought for Moose the way I did, like my mom. She really would have just burst with pride!

Now onto Middle School. We still have no idea what the heck we’re doing. A new school is opening up; it’s a charter school, but it’s geared for ESE students. Which is what Moose *technically* is, but he’s so much more than ESE.

He doesn’t “fit in” with the ESE kids that were in his class this year, but when he was mainstreamed, he didn’t “fit in” with those kids, and found the only other kid with a functional ASD and bonded with him. So what the heck happens next year, when that kid doesn’t go to his middle school? I’m so frustrated. He’s my baby, I want to keep him home, and keep him away from all of the hurt of middle school kids, but I know that that’s not where we are right now. All I can do is pray that the right decision is found, and found quickly.

Pumpkin is doing well, excited that next year she’ll be going to another school. We’re out of district for our last school.. it’s bothering me a little, but I’m cautiously optimistic.

In the meanwhile, I’m going to enjoy our summer with my kids, and hopefully, they do, too. I really feel like I need a crystal ball sometime, but other times, I’m okay, just being Completely Puzzled.

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Behavior Monitoring Apps for Kids

One of the things that we’ve struggled with, {especially because Moose isn’t our only child}, is keeping track of his behaviors- positive and negative, ability to ask for things/time he needs, etc. Since we’ve been working with our home-based Behavior Analyst, life has gotten so much better.

When I say “life”, I truly mean our quality of life. I know I’ve said it before, but I think everyone should get an ABA to come help them when their kids are little {2-5ish} to help put them on a great path. It’s like an on the job training!

Any who– Part of keeping our services is taking accurate data.. so we can keep track of what we need to work on, and what is keeping Moose from being an active, polite member of society. Frankly, because Moose doesn’t have a filter yet. He’s gotten a lot better, but he doesn’t understand why he has to work with some people, even if he doesn’t like them, or they make him angry, or he thinks they’re not up to the same level as he is. He also doesn’t comprehend why he needs to work in groups, and when he is in a group, why he needs to do a solid chunk of a report/assignment, instead of just what he wants. {Wouldn’t it be nice if life was like that- we could do whatever we wanted when ever we wanted?!}

So we’ve tried several different ways, but so far the one that has worked amazingly is our two new apps! I have an android, but I was able to download iRewardChart Lite and Behavior Status (the icon is just a traffic light).  There are pros and cons to both apps, but I have to say, using them in conjunction with each other has really been the perfect solution.

We had a star chart, but Moose is almost 11.. so he thought it was babyish. We had a point system, but it was hard to keep track of how many points they earned, and when they used them, how many they had left, etc.

irewardschartWith iRewardChart Lite, I’m able to keep track of his stars, rewards, and balance with no problems. Because I have the Lite edition, it’s a little difficult keeping track of my daughter’s, but I make a comment in the other app and keep track that way.

The Lite version of this app only allows you four tasks to keep track of. For us, we chose: Access Items (aka using his words), Daily Chores, Takes Shower, and Bedtime Routine. You can shoose tasks off of a pretty well-rounded list, or you can create your own.

The picture above is a sample pic from their site, but you can get the general idea. You can add stars (gold) and take away stars (red) and it keeps a cumulative report of how many stars the child earned, has, and can “spend”. It also has another screen which you can keep track of the rewards, how many stars each reward is, etc.  I love that part, because it really makes it easy to keep track of his rewards. My ABA says the positive reinforcement is really what’s going to help change his behaviors.. especially during times where we see a lot of negative behaviors. I screen shot the star page each week and send it to our ABA.

The Behavior Status App is different because it allows you to record independent events. For example, if Moose asks for permission to go on the computer or takes care of Baby Bear, it’s recorded with a green light. If he needs multiple prompts completing his chores, or completing a task, he gets a yellow light, and I can record the amount of prompts for the event. If he has a hands on event, or a total temper tantrum, I record it with a red light, and explain what happened and to what degree. I love this app because I can email it directly to our ABA. It’s still new for us, so I had some difficulty going back and editing the day (like if it’s 12:15 at night, and it’s the first moment I have to sit and update how bedtime routine went), but I’m getting better at it.

behavior-status-screenshot

One Child’s Monthly Overall Behavior

I can keep track of both big kids and how their day is going, look back and see the whole month, too. I like that I have a spot that I can go to where the task/behavior can be fully defined, and that I can separate each individual behavior into their own little area, or just do overall behavior.  You can use this app for a family, an individual child, or for a whole classroom.

From their site:

Free Version Features:
– Track Overall Behavior
– Basic Status Input Red/Yellow/Green
– Alternate Status Input which supports up to 5 colors.
– Record Notes throughout the day
– Neutral Status
– Email Status Reports
– Easily correct past days
– Group Children by Class
– Easy Add/Edit Child, Classes, etc
– Sort Problem Kids to the Top
– 24 Hour Time Option
– Home Screen Widget
– Checking for new blog posts on BehaviorStatus.com
– Specific Behavior Tracking
– Enable Specific Behavior Tracking by Child
– Add/Edit/Delete Specific Behaviors by Child
– Copy Specific Behaviors from one child to another
– Stats and Graphing

As a former educator, I could see how this would be great for keeping track of kids with IEP’s. I use this app most, but I find the star app easier to go back and edit. I highly recommend using these apps, in conjunction with each other at home, to give the person who’s taking the data the best of both worlds.

This helps me, when my ABA asks how Moose’s week was, not to be Completely Puzzled.

 

 

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Didn’t I just clean this house?

Laundry is the devil. At least, in my house it is. It gets dumped on my couch, and it sits, whether just for a laundry-pilefew moments, or a few days {blush} it sits.

While it sits, it multiplies. I have no idea how, but it does. Then, it gets folded. Part of the kids chores is to put away their laundry. They know how it should go, and they’re old enough to do it.

I have a weird way of thinking..{as we established in other posts} my mind is almost photogenic, in the way such I can recall that I folded the orange shirt with the horizontal stripes, and put it in Moose’s pile DEFINITELY. I remember folding it, I remember putting it into his pile. . . and if that’s the case, then where the heck did it go?! He’s got four drawers in his dresser. It’s missing. It’s like it metamorphosed into a body of it’s own and walked away.

Then, I figured we’d divide and conquer. I hate cleaning as much as the kids do, and really wish I could go back to work just to pay for someone to clean my house. I mean that.

I send Moose to do the back computer/office area, and he gets it done last night to the point that he can vacuum. {Hallelujah!}

Then Pumpkin is in charge of cleaning off the table, and picking up the random toys and what not on the floor around the table. She got that done lickity split. I figured we’d leave the vacuuming until tomorrow, because her brother was enjoying vacuuming the back room.

Fine. So I was in the living room. With 80’s music blaring, I folded, sort, hung, and stacked all of the clean clothes into six piles of perfection.

Then the baby came storming into my front room, knocked over two piles of towels, and yanked his blanket {not the top one, which was perfectly folded and waiting for him} from the bottom of his piles, and sends gazillions of super shrunk outfits flying in the air. He looks at me, and starts to giggle ferociously, and then takes of running out of the room before my head popped off.

Last night, a few girlfriends came over. We hung out in the living room, and then I went to bed. The hubster let me sleep in late, but I was up about 9:30. Hubby left to go work on his car, and I got all three kids ready to go, and we went to two local Easter Egg Hunt/family fun events nearby.

We left at 10:20 am.

I just got back, at 3:30 in the afternoon, looked around and became supremely overwhelmed. I have no idea what happened to my house. It looks like a train hit it. Nobody was even here the whole day!

Does this happen to you? Did little gnomes ransack the place while we were hunting easter eggs, and bouncing in bounce houses?! I have no idea.. I’m Completely Puzzled!

 

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I’m Not Made of Money

cashFor 15 years, my husband and I have had the same argument. I love the man dearly, but he has no concept of money. I took over our finances quite awhile ago, and while I’m not perfect, I’ve handled it all a lot better than he does. Believe me when I say,  I’m not ragging on my husband here. There are some people out there who’s minds just don’t work the way mine does. His is one of them, and vice versa. We’ve tried to understand each other’s method of madness for 15 years now, but it’s overwhelming.

There are seasons where money is very tight for us, and there’s seasons where our fruits are plentiful. All couples go through this, all families do, too. The point of this post is to ask for opinions, suggestions, ideas..

Moose and my husband have very similar ways of thinking and processing. How do I help train and teach Moose to be more proficient in these areas I see my husband struggle with. I hate having a budget, I’d love to go and spend money without consequences, but the fact of the matter is, when we chose to live without credit cards, we chose this way of life. Moose wants to live frivolously.. just like his daddy.  How do you teach an 11 year old responsibility and money management without giving him too much “pressure”.

We’ve tried an allowance. It failed, and he brought his entire allowance to school and bought ice cream for a week and a half for him and a friend and then wondered why he had a not so great week, and a belly ache every day for the same amount of time. We’re using a star system now where he can cash in points for rewards.. but will it be enough?

I know I’m thinking irrationally, but I can’t help but panic a little when I think that my son will be graduating in 7 short years. Hopefully going off to college, and he’ll need to be more responsible than he is now. God willing, he’ll grow in those 7 years, but what happens if he doesn’t. His future wife will hate me for not teaching him how to budget.

Ok, ok, I know I have years to worry for that last part, but I’m serious.. especially you out there who has older kids.. how did they learn to be “responsible” when it comes to money? Was there a magic method of teaching them how?? Share with me your wisdom, please, oh please?

For those of you with little ones, what are you trying? Do you worry about the same thing, or am I just over-reacting? {Read: I’m not obsessing over this, I just want to make sure I’m not in a boat all by myself here. 😉 } Who handles the finances in your household?

I budget, and he spends.. on what, most of the time I’m Completely Puzzled…

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Structure, what structure?

Through the last few years, I’ve learned many things. One of the most important things that I’ve learned is that the more structured our environment is, the more successful my son is.

After the kids get home from school, they show me their planners, Pumpkin starts her homework, (Moose usually has plenty of extra time at the end of the day and finishes his before he gets home), and they have a snack. Then, they start their chores. I’ve been slacking in this department lately, because they’re supposed to have their chores written on a white board, posted and ready to go. Since we moved, I kind of dictate and we go. star

That small little change has made chore time more difficult than it typically was, but we’re dealing.

Then the kids set the table, take their showers, eat, spend some time on the computer, and then brush their teeth and are in bed by 8:30.

I’m exhausted just rehashing that and writing it all down.

Now there are definitely days where they are {or I am} over whelmed, and chore time becomes insanity hour. I’ve been making a conscious decision not to sit and rock in a corner on those days, but remind them that I have my handy-dandy new app that I can add a star, take away a star, or make their day go from green to yellow in one swoop.

Those things used to never phase Moose, but lately, it’s like the be all, end all. He jumps to attention, and gets his stuff accomplished, lickitey split. Now if I could only have him and Pumpkin on the same page, life would be good.

Whatever could I mean?! Oh, yes, now that Moose is doing what he’s supposed to be doing, Pumpkin decides she’s going to attention seek, and have mega-meltdowns that cause polar ice caps to shift, and volcanoes to erupt. Seriously, the pitch of her screeching is enough to make your ear drums bleed at times. I’m pretty certain I’m starting to become hard of hearing. Any who.. I’m trying to be patient, especially after my whole post from Saturday, but Lord, what more can I take?!

The inner child version of myself wants to sit and rock in a corner with my blanket over my head. The really-over-it adult in me wants to pour a gallon of wine and just gulp it. The mommy in me just picks her up and lays her in bed, turns and walks away.

Little Bear is looking at me with big eyes, Completely Puzzled.

 

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Little Bear and Our Leukemia Scare

Our world is crazy.. we are non-stop, on the go 24-7. My husband is convinced that I sit around all day and watch reruns of CSI or something, but in actuality, today is the first time that I’ve sat in one seat {edited to add: a seat that is *not* in a vehicle!} long enough for the cushion to get warm.

Last week I had the hell scared out of me, almost killed a dentist, and almost kissed a doctor. Here’s how it started…doctor

Little Bear hasn’t been feeling good since before we moved. We’ve been dealing with insurance crap- {which is a whole other blog post} – so I wasn’t able to bring him to a doctor to get checked out. Thankfully, he’s a pretty healthy kid, no fevers, no sicknesses, I don’t even think he’s ever been on antibiotics. Anyway, the insurance was finally active, so I called my pediatrician to have a check-up.

“What are his symptoms?”

“Well, he’s fine, except he’s tired.. much more placid than my other two, and other kids his age- but then there’s days where he’s fine.”

I’m pretty certain at this point, the 20 something year old kidless receptionist is rolling her eyes at me. We go to the appointment, he’s checked out, he’s fine. Doc orders some labs, just because we’re behind on “routine” labs. Three days after our visit- BAM- the baby has a fever. It’s Monday, so I don’t want to take him for labs, especially if he’s miserable, has a fever, etc.. so I delay it.

He gets a high fever, and it becomes hard to break. I call our pediatrician back, and he’s seen again on Thursday. They give him a flu swab, and a strep culture, and everything comes back normal. Our doc agrees that I did the right thing by waiting for his labs, but recommends that he gets them done as soon as he’s feeling better, just to make sure there’s nothing going on.

PS, there’s no red flags anything major could be wrong.

Sunday, Little Bear is finally starting to feel better, so I decide to watch him on Monday and make sure he’s better-better, and then I’ll take him in on Tuesday for his labs. Monday evening I made something with ground beef, and during our bedtime routine, I clean his teeth. Well, I saw ‘ground beef’ stuck in between his teeth, so I took a wipe, and gently pulled it free. It began to gush blood. Seriously, it didn’t stop for like 2 full minutes, and I was having a borderline panic attack. It wasn’t meat, it was his gums. In fact, his whole gums between his teeth was red and a little bit swollen. I thought I did this, and cried with him, apologizing for hurting him, and making him bleed.

Wednesday, I’m on the phone with my spiritual mom venting about how swollen Little Bear’s gums are, and how I have to cut every bite of food into microscopic pieces for him to eat because he’s in so much discomfort, and that he’s going in for a recheck on Friday when the big kids go for their physicals… and she says, did you try calling the dentist? DUH!

I totally didn’t, so I called them Thursday morning, and they give me an appointment for him and Moose Friday morning.

I kept the big kids home from school that day because they had their check ups plus, Little Bear had never seen a dentist, so I knew that it would be better if he got to see the dentist messing with Moose’s mouth, too.

So, we go through the drive through and get breakfast, not remembering the last time we had the same thing, Moose got motion sick.

Sure enough, ten minutes from the dentist, Moose gets motion sick, and throws up all over his lap, and my car. To make matters worse, the baby bag, with the wipes, diapers for the day, snacks, and cups Moose left at home after I handed it to him.

GAAAAAAAH!

Now, to picture this you need to realize that I’m not a small lady. I’m almost 6 feet tall, and wear plus size, *real* plus size clothing. I pulled into a Kmart, locked them in and pulled a super market sweep. I ran, literally, into the store, over to home cleaning products, grabbed paper towels, clorox wipes, then turned, headed towards the men’s department, grabbed the first pair of shorts in Moose’s size with a belt, and then took off sprinting to the baby department to grab wipes and diapers.

I get to the register and have Grandma Gerty check me out.. she wants to talk to me, and I just want to pay, and change my kid out of pukey clothes. Now she starts talking to me about the weather, and I’m trying to be polite and just smile, nod, and get ready to sprint out to the parking lot, because I was going to be early, but now I’ll be on time if I can pull out in three minutes, and she’s still going on about the weather! Finally, she stops speaking long enough to ask me how I want the receipt.. what?!.. and I snap, regular?.. and she looks at me like I’m the most disrespectful twit in the universe. So I snatch the bag, and take off running out the door like I stole the entire jewelry department, to my minivan.

Pumpkin whips open the door with an utter look of disgust, excited that I’m finally back {I was in the store a whopping 5 minutes} and she climbs to the front to give her brother some privacy. I make my 11 year old drop his drawers in the middle of the van, with his feet in the shopping bag, so his yucky clothes go right into the bag. I clean him and the car up the best way I can, make him throw on the shorts, sit in Pumpkin’s seat, and then fly out of the parking lot to the dentist.

The dentist goes well, until we get to Little Bear. Without getting into it, she basically poked his gums, they started bleeding and then she freaked me out completely insinuating that my baby had leukemia. She tells me that I should leave there and immediately get his labs done, and that even if his labs came back normal, she wanted me to see a gum specialist in Gainesville.. {which is in bumble.. I think it’s 6 hours away?!} so off I go to promptly get labs, and see what our fate is.

I stop at a walgreens to appropriately disinfect my back seat, call my husband, then my spiritual mom, and ask for prayers. I fly back up to my neck of the woods, stop off at my house, unload the nasty clothes into the washer, grab the carpet cleaner for my floor in my minivan, a towel, and then head to the lab. I unload the kids, spray the floor, and we go in.

Little Bear handles it like a champ, we reload the car, go get lunch, and head to the pediatrician. Now I begin to freak out. As we eat lunch, I’m googling. Googling. Why?! Never, ever google when you’re in a situation like this– trust me!

I get to my pediatrician, and my favorite medical assistant is behind the desk, takes one look at me and asks me what’s going on. I give her the readers digest version, and her head begins to spin as she freaks out for me, and starts dialing lab corp to see if there’s any news yet, since it’s been 4 hours.. even though the lab says 24-48 hours. Did I mention that I’m still freaking out?! No news.

We see the doctor, she gives the two big kids their physicals, they’re both amazing. She consoles me, and tells me that we’ll figure it out, and that she’s not happy with the way the dentist handled things earlier in the day. I just keep repeating that I just need to know if our life is going to change. They try lab corp one more time, and still nothing.

I head home. I’m numb. I’m pissed. I’m sad. I’m angry. I cry.  I’m numb. Repeat.

I don’t remember Friday or much of Saturday. Until my doctor called at 3:45 pm.. and my heart stopped for just a moment.

How amazing it was hearing my pediatrician tell me that his labs came back perfect, and that he did not have leukemia. I praised God, thanked her, and told her that I loved her. I hung up the phone, and started dialing everyone that I knew was praying for us, everyone who loves us, and everyone who asked for an update. It was the best half hour ever, as we shared the good news, and rejoiced!

Little Bear’s gums got better. Saturday night he took a bite of a whole piece of food without saying “ow”, and by Sunday, they were not swollen at all. We have no idea what caused it, and are thankful that it wasn’t something serious. Until we figure it out we will remain Completely Puzzled.

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Good Days, Bad Days, Misunderstood Days.. as a Parent

We’ve walked a long walk to get where we are today. I’m so grateful we are where we are.. but then we have a ‘bad day’ and it’s so hard not to feel like an epic failure.

When Moose was little, he was a difficult boy. He was very independent, but incredibly stubborn. He thought he was a know-it-all, and he really was very smart, but he was still a baby. He was tender-hearted, and took things very personally. He had no diagnosis at this point, and a ton of undiagnosed sensory issues that “maybe if we knew” things would have been different, but even if it was, I don’t think it would have been that drastic.

I found a video on a share site that’s going out of business next month, where my husband was laying into Moose because he had drawn all over the bead board on our bathroom wall. I remember the day like it was yesterday. Pumpkin had drawn ALL over herself with blue markers, while Moose colored on the walls.. in blue, as well. My husband’s head nearly exploded that day!

It wasn’t the fact that they colored on the walls or even because they colored all over my daughter. It was because my husband had installed the bead board not even a week prior to this spectacular artistic display, but Moose had no idea. Pumpkin was only about two, which means that Moose was only 4, which is obvious that they had no idea the severity of their decision to color on the bathroom wall.

Moose was always bigger than other kids his age.. and we had a habit of treating him as if he was older than he was. It doesn’t make it right. In fact, my mom used to tell me all the time, “You need to stop treating him like he’s a big kid- he’s just a baby”.. all the way until last year. I did realize in that instant that I was, and apologized.. but I never really SAW the effects until watching it replay today.

My heart ached when I saw that video; my little boy, my baby scrubbing the wall with a wipee, and my husband recording him saying sorry, and that he won’t color on the wall again. I apologized to my son.

Part of me wonders if it was because we were so young when we had him, and our inexperience in life that caused us to be so insensitive and hard on him. I don’t know what it was, there is no excuse for our past behavior, but I apologized to my sweet heart, little boy tonight. I held him in my arms and told him that I was sorry that we put unnecessary pressure on him, and that I loved him with every molecule in my body, and asked for his forgiveness for forgetting that he was just a boy, not a big kid.. not a grown up, and that he’s still learning, and that I’ll try to be more understanding that he’s still molding into the person he’s going to be.

We are starting to heal: mentally, emotionally, spiritually, & physically. We’re mending relationships, developing stronger bonds, and enjoying each other. Today was a good day. Parents are human, so we’re going to have ‘bad days’ too, but learning to apologize and help heal those broken lines of trust, communication and love- that’s what’s going to help increase our good days.

There’s a whole world of parents out there that have communications issues with their children, whether they’re 4, 14, or 34! Start mending those bridges, start speaking healing into your relationship with your child.. your child is exactly that- your child. A bright eyed, impressionable baby, who’s looking to you to try to figure out how not to be Completely Puzzled.

 

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