Monthly Archives: June 2012

Understanding Chloe

For the first two months after we adopted Chloe (our border collie/greyhound mix), she drove me crazy. She didn’t just follow me everywhere, she got in my way every five seconds! She was neurotic and always on edge. You couldn’t get up without her spazzing out about it. She had the energy of a puppy, packed inside a 70lb, 3 year old dog. Calling her a bull in a china closet was putting it lightly.

She was the polar opposite of our other dog, Rodeo. Rodeo (lab/pit mix around the same age as Chloe) is the definition of chill roughly 90% of the day. He sleeps buried in the throw pillows of our couch for hours at a time. The only time he gets riled up is to protect us (usually unnecessarily!) Or to run. He LOVES to run. “Away” is usually his destination of choice! (He comes back, but on his terms.)

Chloe rarely barks and never whines, but she would get so anxious and excited – she seemed tense most of the day, really. She didn’t snuggle. She didn’t want belly rubs. She rarely slept. We were hoping she’d get used to us and settle down. Even once she seemed a bit more settled, she still drove me crazy.

I didn’t understand her. Rodeo could tell me what he wanted in a second, but I was lost with her. My inability to understand her stressed me out even more.

Recently, strong winds knocked down part of our fence. Rick did a patch job until we could fix it properly. Unfortunately, we had more wind come through one night and I didn’t realize that panel had fallen down again until after I’d let the dogs out the following morning. I looked up and they were both gone!

I ran through the house and out the front door – they were only a few houses away. I called out, “Rodeo! Chloe! C’mere!” I said it as sweetly as I could – I’ve read and been told how important tone can be.

Rodeo did his usual – he took one look at me, turned tail and ran in the opposite direction.

Chloe ran right to me. When she got to the driveway where I was standing, she sank down low and crawled to me. I praised her and loved on her and she got all wiggly and waggly. What a good dog! Suddenly, I started to notice her attributes.

Later that day, she was walking around with the Coveted Bone hanging from her mouth. (This bone was Rodeo’s, but she’s since claimed it as her own. They spend hours at a time stalking each other, waiting for the bone to be dropped.) I’d fed the dogs dinner and she wouldn’t eat. She just kept looking at me and pacing. What did she want??

Then it clicked. I took the bone from her and put it on the counter. She wiggled and ran to her bowl to scarf down her dinner. When she was done, she came and sat next to the spot where I’d put her bone. I jokingly said, “What?” She looked up to where her bone was, then back at me. I handed her bone to her and she was wiggling again. We’d connected. I was starting to understand her.

After that, she started snuggling me on the couch. She’s also been demanding belly scratches! Rick says she still doesn’t really like him scratching her belly. With me, she’ll either stand over my arm and paw at me or she’ll lay on her back until I get the idea. If I stop before she wants me to, she pushes my hand back under her for more.

This dog used to stress me out so much, we seriously considered giving her back. Now I can’t imagine not having her around. She’s so loving – we just had to earn that love. She didn’t give it up as easily as some dogs do. She’s incredibly smart and – now that we’re learning to understand each – she listens and does what she’s told. Even when she’s in full on play with Rodeo in the yard, she comes when called.

Of course, she still drives me crazy on occasion, but she makes up for it by being an all around wonderful pup. I love our Chloe.

image

She sits still enough for pics now!


image

They love each other!

It’s all about perspective

Yesterday was a scorcher.  By 7am, it was already 85 degrees outside.  (We got up to 106!!)

When I left my cool, 75-degree house yesterday morning, I walked outside and went, “UGH! It’s so HOT out here!!”

Then…sometime between yesterday afternoon and last night, our A/C stopped working.  Lordy.  I woke up in a sweat during the night. Thermostat said it was set at 76 and yet it was 85 in the house.  Not good.  At that point, it was only about 80 degrees outside!

After a sweaty, muggy morning (I opened up the windows, but we don’t have any windows in the living room), Rick arrived home from work and I walked out the door to head to work.

It was about 84 degrees outside when I left this morning.  I went, “Oh my gosh, that feels so good!”  There was a slight breeze and the air felt COOL compared to the couple of degrees warmer it was in the house (and the fact that we had very little air circulation).

Similar weather as yesterday, but a whole new perspective.

 

Our sitter, Kay, has an 8 year old brother that has ADHD.  She thought she knew what she was getting into with Colin!  She’s told us a few times that Colin’s ADHD is much worse than her brother’s.  Rick and I were laughing the other day that she probably goes home from our house each day and hugs her little brother!  He likely seems like a cakewalk after 5 hours at our house.

But, similarly, there are children that I’ve seen that make even Colin seem like a dream.  I may have mentioned before that I was once at an ABA center where a young girl in the lobby could only scream/screech – that was her only means of communicating.  So, again, I’m thankful that Colin can communicate and can usually articulate his needs fairly well.

It’s all about perspective!

 

We have our next psychiatrist appointment tomorrow.  We’ve gone completely off the Adderall – it was just not working out for us.  It seemed to help his concentration but not his hyperactivity.  And the more Adderall he took, the more emotional he became – more outbursts, anger, sadness, etc.  The Seroquel seemed to help a bit, but not much.  The doc agreed with us switching him back to Ritalin.  He’s back on the 80mg of Metadate CD in the AM and then 20mg at noon of Methylphenidate…and another 10mg around 3pm.  Just trying to help him ease through the day and not crash. 

Part of me feels like we’ve just gone backwards – we’ve not only gone back to what we were on before, we’ve added to it.  But at least it helps.  And once we know what’s working the best, maybe we’ll try Concerta (still ritalin, but longer-acting) or maybe less Ritalin and add Intuniv or something along those lines.  Not sure.

For now, things are better than they’ve been for a while. I really feel the Seroquel has helped him with his outbursts when combined with the Ritalin. He seems to be in a much better mood.  Sleep is still an issue most nights.  The lock on his door at least provides some peace of mind.  Although, last night – after putting the boys to bed – I went to lay down with Rick for a bit.  I kept thinking I heard a noise, but the dryer was going and we figured that was it.  I was only in our room – with the door open! – for about 30 minutes.  After Rick left for work – around 9:15pm – I discovered that Colin had snatched the Wii remotes and disconnected the Wii cords…and was in his room playing with his Legos instead of sleeping.  So much for leaving his door unlocked until I go to bed.  I guess it can only be unlocked if I’m in the living room, standing guard!

Fruits & Veggies

I found something new and exciting recently.  Unfortunately, I don’t think it will help most of you (at least, those of you whose locations I have a vague idea about!), but I want to share anyhow…just in case.

A friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook about a month ago – her dining room table covered in gorgeous fruit and vegetables.  The caption read, “This week’s haul from Bountiful Baskets!”

I had no idea what that was, so I Googled.  Well helloooo, produce co-op!

Bountiful Baskets is a produce co-op run entirely by volunteers.  Participants pay $15 (+$1.50 handling) for pretty much 2 laundry baskets full of produce each week (one full of fruit, the other full of veggies).  They buy local as often as possible and stick to smaller farms when local isn’t an option.  You can also get add ons such as a case of some fruit or veggie offering that week, some amazing organic bread – things like that.

I signed up the first week, not really knowing what to expect.  I was excited, though!  (Yes, you can laugh – I’m a dork, what can I say??)

We went to pick up our first “basket” and I was amazed.  Watermelon, pineapple, apricots, plums, grapes, mushrooms, lettuce, spaghetti squash, potatoes… I can’t remember everything!  And it was all gorgeous! 

While we were there, I noticed a few of the people who had purchased bread and eyed up their bags.  The bread looked fantastic.  A mental note was made to get that next time.

Because this is an all-volunteer organization, they ask that if you participate, you also volunteer your time on occasion, if possible.  I decided last weekend was as good a time as any.  Discounted, gorgeous, locally sourced produce is definitely worth a measly hour of my time!

I showed up at the site an hour before pick up as the website instructed.  There was a pretty good turn out – about a dozen people showed up to help.

A few minutes later, the truck showed up – an 18-wheeler.  The driver used a pallet jack to bring our pallets (I think there were four heavily stacked pallets) to the rear of the trailer.  We lined up assembly style and as the pallets were broken down, we yanked the boxes off the truck and sorted them.

Heads have been cropped off to protect the innocent!

Once everything was sorted, the site coordinators got to business and told us what to do.  We broke off into teams and solos and made sure every basket had the right amount of produce.  Mangos, blueberries, nectarines, cherries, tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes, celery, onions, cantaloupes…again, I know I’m forgetting something!  Just look at all those baskets!

When we were done, each volunteer got to pick an extra item to take home.  Once that was done, we took the remaining produce and spread it out throughout the baskets.  Extras for everyone!

After all the sorting was done, I looked up and saw the line of people waiting for pick up.  Thankfully, our work was done – we signed for our baskets and add ons and headed home.

Once again, our haul made everyone happy.  I can’t tell you how much it makes me smile to hear my kids say, “Can I have fruit for dessert??”  (Granted, Colin’s still not thrilled by most produce, but this has been a great way to get him to try a few new things!)

And the bread? Well the bread is phenomenal.  We bought the Organic 9-Grain bread this last time (5 loaves for $12).  Maybe next time we’ll try the Organic Honey Oat…or the sourdough! 

I’ve been telling everyone I can about this organization.  They’re in several states across the US.  My brother and his wife are picking up their first basket this weekend! 🙂 

If you happen to not live in an area where they have a site, you can get some friends together and set one up…or get online and see if there’s something similar near you.  Check out their site regardless – they have some great recipes and how-to’s!  www.bountifulbaskets.org

Sum-sum-summertime!

image

Changing of the knobs

I mentioned before that there used to be a lock on Colin’s bedroom door.  I was the one that pushed to have it removed.

I’m now the one that’s reinstalled it.

He’s never been one to sleep through the night.  I’ve known for a while now that he’s been sleeping on the couch most nights. I’ve begged, pleaded, bargained and threatened him to stop. 

Lately, he’s been doing more than just sleeping on the couch.  In fact, I’m not sure he’s sleeping much at all, despite our medication alterations and attempts at setting the mood before bedtime, etc.  He’s been scaling our entertainment center (a roughly 6’6″ shelving unit) and rearranging games and DVDs. He’s messed with my sewing machine (thankfully he hasn’t figured out how to turn it on yet – it’s an antique). He’s climbed around in the kitchen and played with the toaster (not sure what else, but I know he’s played with the toaster because the toast settings are almost always changed when I go to make the boys breakfast). 

I’m worried for his safety.  I’m worried for the safety of all of us.  He’s a big fan of electricity – what if he burnt himself?  What if that bookshelf came toppling over one day while he’s doing his Spiderman routine?  Even if we mount it to the wall, what if that big screen TV comes crashing down on him?

What if he starts a fire?  What if he gets it in his head to let the dogs out – or leave himself? 

I could go on for an hour with all the worst-case-scenarios I’ve dreamed up.  And these are all based on the few things I know are happening.  He’s getting quieter and sneakier.  He’s doing these things between 1-4am.  I can’t stay up all night.  He’s going to get hurt.  I don’t want him to get hurt.

After his most recent bookshelf-climbing adventure (Monday night), Rick and I decided enough was enough.  I re-installed the locking doorknob.

I told Colin I will only lock it when I go to bed and I will unlock it as soon as I wake up.  We’re talking roughly 7 hours.

I don’t know what else to do.  We’re talking about a boy who can literally climb a door jamb.  He’s 8 years old.  He’s strong and can be amazingly quiet when he’s doing something he knows he shouldn’t be doing. 

After I finished installing the knob, I sat down with Robbie and Ryan to explain what was happening.  I didn’t want them to think I’d lock them up if they tried to do something like use the bathroom at night.  I didn’t want them to think I was just doing this because I’m mean or that I don’t like Colin, etc.

I explained to them that it was for his own safety.  I told them about all the shenanigans that were being pulled during the night.  Robbie’s eyes went wide – these were things that had never occurred to either of them to try.  I told them that most of the not-so-fun things I do are to keep my boys safe.  I make them hold my hand in the street/parking lot, I make Colin and Robbie wear life jackets at the pool because they don’t know how to swim.  And now…now I’ve had to lock Colin’s door.

I hate this.  I hate the idea of locking a child up.  It goes against everything in my heart and my head, but I don’t know what else to do.  I can’t rubberize our house. I can’t put everything on the floor or lock everything up in the office.  I can’t stay awake all night long.

I just don’t know what else to do.

Wrapped in Robbie

Robbie is my “baby.” More than him being the smallest/youngest, more than him being biologically “mine”, we share a connection that I cherish.

When he was younger, we used to snuggle at bedtime. For his 3rd birthday, he got a “big boy” car bed. Soon after, I realized we could fit in the bed together, and so began our nighttime routine. I’d lie with him and we’d talk or sing. Sometimes I’d even fall asleep and wake around midnight to find I was in the wrong bed. The sweetest thing about our snuggle time was that he would put his arm out and want me to rest my head on his shoulder/chest. This tiny child knew how to comfort me like no one else could at that time.

Our nighttime snuggle routine continued until Robbie and Ryan decided they wanted to share a room and have bunk beds. Robbie got top bunk. Weight restrictions aside, I am more than a little wary of climbing up there. We’ve moved our snuggle time to a chair in the room – he sits in my lap while we talk or tell stories.

And now I relish the other moments even more. Sitting on the couch with him calms me most days. He’ll sit next to me or in my lap, and just wrap himself in me. I’m not typically a touchy-feely person. I’m affectionate with my kids, but it’s rare for me to feel calmed by touch. Aside from Robbie, Rick is the only person I really crave touch from. I can snuggle with Ryan sometimes, but it doesn’t feel as natural.

Robbie intertwines his legs and arms in mine and he becomes an extension of me.

image

This isn’t to say that he doesn’t get wiggly and annoying at times! He is, after all, a five year old! But I love my baby.

Happy Fathers Day!

Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers, grandfathers, uncles, stepdads, foster dads, father figures and any other man that lives his life as a positive male role model for the children of the world.

Thank you for all you do!

Frosty for Foster Kids

Sarah at fosterfull stole the words right out of my mouth.
Go get a frosty!

Frosty for Foster Kids.

Seroquel

Dr. L called back the other day – Rick left an urgent message. Apparently he’d been out of the office for about a week and no one thought to tell us when we were leaving messages at the front desk.

He called in 25mg tabs of Seroquel (generic = quetiapine). We were told to give him 1/2 a tablet the first three days, then increase to a full tablet – taken at bedtime.

Seroquel is an “atypical anti-psychotic.” It’s used to treat schizophrenia, depression in bi-polar patients, and “to treat or prevent episodes of mania.”  The initial effect is drowsiness – which is why it’s given at bedtime – and then it’s supposed to help with the meltdowns through the next day.

As usual, I did a lot of reading.  There isn’t a lot of information on prescribing Seroquel to children, but that seems to be the case with many meds.  The worst I could find was that it caused nightmares in some and weight gain in most.  (Colin needs to gain weight – he’s incredibly skinny, even though he eats plenty.  He’s in constant movement, so he burns far more than he cares to eat. Being a picky eater doesn’t help!)  Many people compared it to Abilify saying that Seroquel helped with the anxiety in ways that Abilify didn’t – another plus for us.

Wednesday night, we gave him the 1/2 pill along with a now reduced  dose of Clonidine (0.1mg – down from 0.2mg). 

He got downright paranoid.  He kept getting up, telling us there were storms coming (yes, there were clouds outside and some lightning far off in the distance). At one point, he made me come look out his window at the cloud that “looked like a head.”  He just kept getting up. He was so nervous!  At one point, he came out and said, “I can’t breathe anymore and I can’t talk anymore.”  I said, “Honey, you are breathing…and you’re talking to me right now, okay?”  He went, “Oh. Okay,” and went back to bed.

He popped back up around 10:30pm – just when I thought I was in the clear! – and used the bathroom.  He went right back to bed, though, and didn’t get up until 6am. (And he slept in his bed!)

Last night… I honestly just screwed up. I completely forgot about the 1/2 pill to start and handed him a whole one.  I realized what I’d done entirely too late. So he was given 25mg of Seroquel and 0.1mg of Clonidine.

About 30 minutes later, he became incredibly drowsy.  It was almost 8pm (bedtime) anyhow, so I said, “Colin, why don’t you go lay down? You look very sleepy.”

He gave a half-hearted, “I don’t wanna go to bed yet, though,” and then let us lead him to bed without any further discussion.  He laid down and passed right out.

He slept until 6:10am.  That’s over 10 hours of sleep. I think the last time he slept that long, he was sick.  (That’s usually how you can tell he doesn’t feel well – he gets tired and still.)

We didn’t notice much of a difference in him yesterday – it will be interesting to see if the full dose helps at all today.  He woke up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed – his usual spunky, early morning self!  He got in trouble for messing with the dogs and was sent to his room while I made breakfast.  He pouted, but didn’t cry about it.  Otherwise, it was a wonderful morning.  We’ll see how this goes.

Our sitter made it through her first full week!  I handed her a fat wad of cash last night and her eyes lit up. 🙂  I don’t think she’s going to quit on us.  She seems to genuinely like our crazy kids and she’s come up with some great ideas to help keep them in line. Best idea so far?  A schedule.  She thought of that on her own.  Her brother has ADHD as well (though, she admits, far less extreme than Colin) and she understands better than most, although she still doesn’t quite grasp the autism aspect. The only downside I can see so far is that our house is COVERED IN GLITTER.  Covered.  Especially Colin’s room, since he snuck the container of glitter they’d been using for art projects into his room and shook it all over the place.  Our house is very sparkly now!

In other news, my stepdad’s mother passed away yesterday.  She was 102 years old.  Her funeral is on Tuesday.  I’m not sure if we should tell the kids – I don’t know how to.  And honestly, they know her, but she wasn’t a vital part of their lives.  If they never saw her again, I don’t know that they would notice.  Robbie might.  I could see him ask Pop (my stepdad) one day where his mom is.  But even that’s a very slim possibility.  I just don’t know.  Kay is going to come over early on Tuesday to watch the boys so we can go to the funeral without them.

I’m not sad for her.  I’m sad for my stepdad because I know he will miss her.  But she lived a very full, wonderful life.  These last two years have been the worst for her – she had to be moved out of her nursing home apartment and into a full time care room. She wasn’t allowed to leave the room without an escort.  Her few joys were basically taken away – she couldn’t go play cards with her friends when she felt like it, she couldn’t even go to the mailbox on her own.  She went from a cute one bedroom apartment with a balcony and her plants and knick knacks to a hospital room.  I think she was ready to go.

I’m sad for my mom, too, because I think her mother-in-law gave her some sense of purpose.  Mom was the most likely to take her to church or the zoo or out to the park.  If it wasn’t for my mom, the adventures would have been very rare. 

Rest in peace, Lucille.

Dealing with the darker side

I understand impulse control. I have a hard enough time controlling my own impulses and I do not have ADHD. There are times, though, when I worry about Colin because I don’t know how you separate impulse control from just plain bad behavior.

Impulsively pushing buttons, I understand.  Yanking the wheel out of his brother’s really nice pop-up Lorax book because he has to know how things work… that makes sense (even if it frustrates me).

Picking up our 65 lb dog by her collar and throwing her to the ground? I can’t comprehend that.  What makes a child – any child – think that’s remotely okay?  (Let’s not even think about how Chloe outweighs him by at least 10lbs. How he managed to lift her up by the collar – even with her back legs still on the floor – is beyond me.)

This is what I walked in on after leaving the room for a few minutes last night.  We were going to head to the gym after dinner – I went to wake Rick up – and I told the boys what the plan was.  They were all excited (there’s a Kids Club at the gym). I told them all they had to do was behave for a few minutes while I went to get Rick and change clothes.

I heard her yelp and came in to see Colin holding Chloe up by the collar. Before I could get to him, he threw her to the ground.  I lost it.

I’m fiercely protective of my children – even when it’s one against the other.  Even when they’re “fur” children.  I completely lost it.

And then I just started crying.  I cried for about an hour. We obviously didn’t go to the gym. I felt awful for Robbie and Ryan – they’re constantly being punished for things that Colin does and that’s not fair to them.  I was too upset to go and too upset to be left at home with Colin.

Rick blames himself, which I tell him doesn’t make sense.  He’s not to “blame” for Colin – he saved Colin from a far worse fate.  If anyone’s to “blame” it’s that b—- that gave birth to the poor kid and likely messed him up for life by how she mistreated him in those first fragile few weeks.  (For anyone just joining us, Colin was adopted through foster care – taken from his birth mother at 5 weeks old.)

Rick called Dr. L’s office again last night. Hopefully we’ll hear from him soon.  Something has to give.

ETA: I am not saying that all kids with autism/adhd were mistreated at some point. I hope it doesn’t come across that way – that’s not my intention in the least. Colin may very well have issues beyond the autism/adhd diagnoses he’s received so far. He was malnourished and mistreated as a baby – peanut butter shoved in his mouth to keep him quiet and never held or loved for those first five weeks. I know that irreparable damage was done to him – physically, psychologically, emotionally – before he was even 2 months old.