Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Happenings at Our House

Spring Break was uneventful, which in our house is a very good thing. When you have five kids--three of whom do not do well with lack of structure--home for a whole 10 days, there's potential for chaos. We did some of the things we had planned, and didn't get to some of the other things. And we did things we hadn't planned. But we had a good time and were ready to go back to school yesterday. Here's a general "state of the family" post, mainly for my own records.

Snapper is now 11 1/2, and thriving. After a period of difficulty in math (not academic...difficulty understanding why she has to do/turn in homework when she understands the concepts), she managed to pull herself together for another quarter of all A's on her report card. Her big triumphs this quarter were in English, with her success in the district spelling bee and earning the high praise of her teacher for her research paper on Marie Curie. She is looking forward to the middle school living wax museum in a few weeks, in which she will be representing Marie Curie. We made her costume already, and she did an outstanding job on her presentation board. She is almost done memorizing her speech. We just have to work on the dramatization of the part now. Such a wonderful project! Snapper just earned her first purple stripe for her orange belt in karate. She's hoping to progress enough to test for her purple belt in May. That will move her into the intermediate ranks. She loves karate more than I've ever seen her love anything else. She has become such a wonderful young lady. I feel like every day I see a little more of the child fade, and more of the young woman appear. I'm so proud of her! Today she babysat her siblings for me so I could nap in the afternoon when I wasn't feeling well. She made snacks, helped the three youngest ones with homework, and kept them all quiet and occupied for two hours. I'm so thankful for Snapper, and so proud of her!

Bubbles is 9. She was recently diagnosed with rapid onset precocious puberty. We've spent a great deal of time in doctors' offices and at the hospital recently, trying to make sure we've thoroughly checked her body for abnormalities. She has been such a trooper, putting up with IV's, x-rays, blood draws, exams, MRI's, etc. The testing is done now. We're awaiting MRI results. If all is clear (as her doctor expects it to be), she'll begin hormone injections next week. This will slow her little body down, and allow her a few more years to be a kid. It will also let her grow to a more normal height. Without intervention, she will not even hit 5 feet tall. Bubbles has significant struggles in school. I've worked very intensively with her as I've home schooled her this year. It has helped some, but not enough. She will be tested by the public school within the next few weeks. I'm looking forward to having solid answers, and to getting an IEP in place for her for next year. We've seen such wonderful emotional growth in Bubbles the past few months. While she still struggles with how to be part of a group of kids without being in charge and having everything her way, she has mellowed enough to make a best friend. Her friend is my friend Holly's daughter, A. Bubbles and A have totally bonded, and are joined at the hip. They even wore matching shoes to church on Sunday, and got the biggest thrill out of that. Bubbles put herself to bed 45 minutes early tonight, just because she was tired. Just 6 months ago she was so fearful every night that there were tears and excuses every single bedtime. We've been seeing some good improvement in the last couple of months. But tonight shows us that Bubbles has overcome this monster in her life! She is no longer afraid to go to bed, and no longer afraid to sleep. She knows she is safe, and can rest peacefully. What a HUGE deal this is!!!

Piper is 8. We recently switched her ADHD medication, and what a huge difference it has made for her! We had been seeing a decrease in the benefits of the meds, and an increase in anxiety, defiance, meanness, and irritability. She said she feels like her brain is back to normal again. She is sweet, cheerful, full of fun and giggles, and is much more focused with her chores and schoolwork. This is what we were looking for, and we're all happy. Piper has made really great gains with her reading recently! Her fluency has increased, as has her ease with sounding out larger words. It delights my heart to hear her read to Sunny in the afternoons, because the reading is no longer choppy or strained. She even reads with wonderful expression, and has picked up how to interpret punctuation in her oral reading. This is a big victory for her. She still has some struggles related to her early years. We're working very hard on honesty, and the importance of being a girl of your word. She's on somewhat of a short leash right now because it is hard to trust the things that she says. She is such a sweetie, though, and she especially loves to help Daddy and me around the house. She's my overall best helper, often jumping in and doing extra chores, just because she sees that the chores need doing.

Pepper is 7 1/2. His ADHD medication has made a huge difference in his overall functioning. He no longer resists going to school or resists doing his homework. He has no problems getting moving in the morning, and is always ready for school on time. His teacher reports that he is interested and engaged at school, and the negative behaviors have melted away. His grades have gone up, too, as he earned A Honor Roll for the first time! Now that he can focus, he's free to learn, and free to perform to his capacity in school. He had all his neurology testing done last week, and he received the diagnosis of Benign Joint Hyperlaxity. In other words, he has loose connective tissue in his joints, and will always be a flexible, floppy kid. There's no cure and no treatment for this. We updated his 504 plan at school to allow him the freedom to sit in whatever position is necessary for him to feel balanced. The good news is that his nervous and muscular systems received a clean bill of health! We are thrilled about that. Pepper continues to be a delightful, generous, forgiving, kind, little boy. He brings me delight and joy every day with his gentle, patient, tender personality. He is extremely excited about our new baby. All the kids are, but I think Pepper is anticipating her the most. He has already claimed her as his baby, and I know he's going to be a wonderful big brother.

Sunny is 6. She's such a tough kiddo to write about. She was finally accepted by one of the best Behavioral Health programs in our state, and we're awaiting her psychological evaluation, which should take place next week. We anticipate the possibility of a serious mental health diagnosis for her. There are several possibilities of what could be causing her troubles. We're praying that whatever it is, there is help available for her. Matt and I know that her struggles in life are caused primarily by what was done to her by the people who were supposed to love and care for her. Most of it is not her fault. But we have to help her learn to cope, and how to function in society. It's a tall order. Her bad days are very bad. But her good days are quite wonderful. There are two big positives that I can emphasize in this post. First, she is doing far better in school than we anticipated. She struggles with her fine motor skills, but is really growing in her reading abilities! She has a good mind for math, too. Her teacher is very pleased with Sunny's growth, and her effort in class. The other great thing is Sunny's attachment to Matt and me. The ambivalence we once saw in her relationship with us has gone. She has finally owned us as her parents, and is really letting herself grow emotional ties. In that regard, she's a different kid than she was 6 months ago. She's much more secure, and finally allows herself to enjoy closeness with us. Such great progress! I have so many hopes for this little one. I pray for wisdom for the doctors who will be working with us in this new program.

I'm hanging in there. I'm due in 3 weeks, and have officially reached the miserable stage of pregnancy. I'm still carrying very small, so at least I don't have bulky awkwardness to deal with! I do have some of the other undesirable symptoms of pregnancy, including (but not limited to) restless legs, acid reflux, hemorrhoids, and pelvic pain. I'm very much looking forward to putting labor and delivery behind me, and holding my little Sweet Pea in my arms, not my belly. I have another doctor's appointment tomorrow. I'm also touring the labor and delivery unit at the hospital, and meeting with the birth coordinator to go over my birth plan with her. This is my third delivery, and I'm pretty specific about what I want. I know my body. I know what it's like to have a baby. Experience has taught me what I want, and I'm glad to have someone to communicate all of that to. As I've had to gain a voice and become an advocate the for many special needs of my adopted kiddos, I've also gained a voice for myself. I'm excited that I'm going into this delivery confident, and ready to ask for what I need. Things are pretty much ready for this baby! We're all set on clothes and supplies. I've done all the laundry and packed Sweet Pea's hospital bag. Her car seat is ready in the back of the van. We should be getting our Suburban the first week of April!!! Then we can install the car seat. All I have left to do is pick up the pack & play/bassinet from my friend Tracie. Then we're ready to go! My BFF, Noel, arrives from California on April 8th to be here for the delivery. I can't wait to her to arrive! Then I am free to have this baby. If you had told me three years ago that by the start of summer in 2014 I would have six kids, I would have laughed in your face. Now here I am! Oh my!


Rachel McDonald said...

Hahah "oh my!" I LOVE your outlook and positivity Emily! You're wonderful. I think I saw Stan and Noel in Avila beach this last weekend? Maybe, maybe no. Haha ask her for me.... As if that's on the top of your to do list. Forget that...maybe she'll see/respond to my comment. :-) best of wishes for your last week's of your last (?) Pregnancy!! Love Rachel

Emily said...

Hey Rach, since you're not on Facebook anymore, I have no way to keep in touch with you! And yes, I think you probably did see them last week. =)