Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Behavior Record Chart

Over the last 6 years, we've worked with several behavior therapists to help manage our 3 sons' behavior challenges.  In the beginning it was finding a solution for head-banging or feces-smearing.  We have encountered many obstacles that were unimaginable to us prior to becoming foster/adoptive parents.  

Currently we are trying to manage physical aggression, name calling, spitting, property destruction, antagonizing each other, and doing something the first time they are asked.  That may seem like a lot.  Well it is.  Some days it is absolutely overwhelming!  Why did we wait so long to seek help?  Well it wasn't by choice.  Trying to qualify for the level of services we are currently receiving was a 6 month process of being at the end of our rope.  To find out more, you can read this post.

On the flip side, usually all 3 of them don't have a difficult day together, and for that we are thankful.  The boys can be incredibly witty, entertaining, loving, helpful, and just fun to be around.  

We have set-up and used several reward systems, but they usually lose their novelty and the boys lose interest.  It also has to be a system that is fairly easy for us to manage.  I am pleased to share our current behavior management system.

This is a small pocket chart with all of younger kids' names and 1 card of each color: green, yellow and red.  If they are doing well, then they are on green.  If they need a *reminder* to calm down or to comply with instructions, then they are on yellow.  If they require a timeout for continued disobedience or exhibiting a target behavior, they are on red.  (*The reminder we give them is: "Stop, breathe & think."  Then they must show us they are taking a deep breath and tell us what they need to do.)  

Since we are trying to help the kids recognize and be more in tune with their emotions, we took pictures of each of them making faces.  We began with happy, sad, mad, and surprised.  They can put the picture of how they are feeling in their slot as well.

This is a sample of our recording sheet from the second week.  You'll notice we split each of the 3 evaluation periods (morning, afternoon and evening) into fourths.  This was so that each evaluation period was basically an hour and the kids would have more chances of resetting back to green and therefore earning more points. The points they earn they can cash in for different rewards (example:  a toy from the grab bag, a piece of candy from the candy bag, extra 10 minutes on the Wii, etc.).

This is a sample from our third week.  We split the evaluation periods (morning, afternoon and evening) in half so each evaluation was now every 2 hours.  We also added a new target behavior (upping the ante).  Notice the decrease in the amount of red squares this week.  The kids are getting the hang of this new system and we are loving it!

You can download this Behavior Record Chart free (for personal use only).

Let me know what you think, leave a comment below.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Moments to Remember

Moments to Remember was developed as a simple way to look back on our week as homeschoolers and find photos that encompass the memories we want to remember. 
The week may have been tough, there may have been more bumps than smiles, but in the end these are the moments that keep us going, the ones we need to remember.

Drive-Ins: A Summertime Tradition

We've decided that taking all the kids to the movie theater is not the BEST option for us currently.  The last couple of movies we went to see in the theater, we ended up leaving early.  You can read about one of our experiences here.  That is really disappointing for me, especially considering how much it costs.  

Our solution...the drive-ins.  We tried it for the first time on a Friday night a couple of weeks ago to see the new Disney/Pixar movie "Brave".  Then we discovered our local drive-in has "family night" on Tuesdays.  Adults are $5 and children ages 5-12 are just $1.  This drastically reduces our cost of seeing a movie before it comes out on DVD.  Not only that, but we can bring a cooler with beverages for everyone.  We also stop at the store beforehand to buy the big tub of Red Vines.  We do purchase the popcorn at the drive-ins because there is just something about movie theater popcorn.

This last week our nephew was visiting from Oregon so we took the family to see Ice Age: Continental Drift.  Since we drive a 12-passenger van it's hard to position everyone to be able to see, as well as keep the vehicle well ventilated, so we brought our camping chairs to sit outside the car.  Most of the younger kids ended up inside the car once the movie started and a couple of them even fell asleep during the movie.  It was a very successful evening and a new summertime tradition we will continue.  

Do you have any family summertime traditions?


This post is a link up with 1+1+1=1.

This blog has been nominated for Circle of Moms Top 25 Moms with Big Families contest for moms who blog about the rewards and challenges of raising 5 or more kids.  Would you consider voting for Diverging Lives?  Contest ends August 1, 2012 at 4pm PST.  Thank you!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Therapy Thursday: SPD Proprioception

Each week I post about some type of therapy we use, who recommended it, and the reason we are using it.  Remember, I am not a licensed therapist and I am sharing our experiences.  We would love to hear your stories too! Please leave a comment below.

Sensory Processing Disorder: Proprioception

Do you have a child who is clumsy, uncoordinated, invading others' space, bumping into people and/or objects, too loud, walks too hard, chews on everything, constantly jumping, and likes tight squeezes? You know the ones people comment about, "He's ALL boy."  (I hope it's not just me).  Well, your child may suffer from proprioceptive dysfunction, one subtype of sensory processing disorder.  

"Proprioception is the internal sense that tells you where your body parts are without you having to look at them.  The internal body awareness relies on receptors in your joints, muscles, ligaments, and connective tissue." - Raising a Sensory Smart Child

Here is the Proprioceptive portion of the complete sensory processing disorder checklist found on Sensory-Processing-Disorder.com

 Signs Of Proprioceptive Dysfunction:

1. Sensory Seeking Behaviors:

__ seeks out jumping, bumping, and crashing activities

__ stomps feet when walking

__ kicks his/her feet on floor or chair while sitting at desk/table

__ bites or sucks on fingers and/or frequently cracks his/her knuckles

__ loves to be tightly wrapped in many or weighted blankets, especially at bedtime

__ prefers clothes (and belts, hoods, shoelaces) to be as tight as possible

__ loves/seeks out "squishing" activities

__ enjoys bear hugs
__ excessive banging on/with toys and objects

__ loves "roughhousing" and tackling/wrestling games

__ frequently falls on floor intentionally

__ would jump on a trampoline for hours on end

__ grinds his/her teeth throughout the day

__ loves pushing/pulling/dragging objects

__ loves jumping off furniture or from high places

__ frequently hits, bumps or pushes other children

__ chews on pens, straws, shirt sleeves etc.

2. Difficulty With "Grading Of Movement":

__ misjudges how much to flex and extend muscles during tasks/activities (i.e., putting arms into sleeves or climbing)

__ difficulty regulating pressure when writing/drawing; may be too light to see or so hard the tip of writing utensil breaks

__ written work is messy and he/she often rips the paper when erasing

__ always seems to be breaking objects and toys

__ misjudges the weight of an object, such as a glass of juice, picking it up with too much force sending it flying or spilling, or with too little force and complaining about objects being too heavy

__ may not understand the idea of "heavy" or "light"; would not be able to hold two objects and tell you which weighs more

__ seems to do everything with too much force; i.e., walking, slamming doors, pressing things too hard, slamming objects down

__ plays with animals with too much force, often hurting them 

I think my child may have Sensory Processing Disorder, now what?  The Ultimate Guide to Sensory Processing Disorder by Roya Ostavar, Ph.D. has a ton of great information, including Chapter 5: Assessment, Diagnosis, and Treatment - Where to Begin.  She also includes a very thorough (20 pages worth) sample Developmental History Form.  

Then obtain a referral to an Occupational Therapist.  All three of our boys have been treated by an OT at one time or another.  Currently our two youngest sons are receiving treatment 1-2 times a month.  They give us many great ideas of therapies activities to do at home.  For more ideas, the Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A. has tons of activities for kids with sensory processing disorder.

A few of our family favorite activities are:

Take a large plastic container similar to this one (needs to be big enough for child to climb into) and fill it with pinto beans (we purchased at Costco).  Add plastic bowls, cups and shovels for scooping.  You can also add some wiggly creatures for your child to find (if it won't scare your child too much).  
 Newell Rubbermaid Home 31 Gallon Blue Roughneck Tote 2244CPDIM
Stretchy bag (aka body sock or body pod)

Bod Pod
Photo from Amazon

Bean bags.  If you have more than one, you can make a bean bag sandwich with your child in the middle, applying a small amount of pressure (depending on the size of your child). 

Sleeping Bag Stair Slide.  The kids get inside a sleeping bag (preferably one with a slick outside) and slide down the stairs.  You should have heard the laughter with this one!

 Lie down under the weighted blanket.  Or wrap up in it like a burrito.  We were fortunate enough to win our weighted blanket from DreamCatcher.  It is a full-size, 12 pound blanket made with a cotton material so that it does not get too hot.  As you can see, even the teenagers like it.

Does your child have sensory processing disorder?  What are your family favorite activities for "heavy work"?


Monday, July 23, 2012

Guest Post on See Jamie blog

See Jamie Blog

See Jamie blog shared our adoption story last week and I just happened upon it.  Won't you click on over to check it out?  I connected with Jamie on Twitter since we are both adoptive mamas and she asked if I would mind sharing our story.  So I did.

Shhh...don't tell anyone but I am like a giddy school girl right now because this is my first {guest post}.


San Diego Zoo

While we were in Los Angeles for our Disneyland trip, we decided to drive a little further south to check out San Diego.  Our oldest child, DJ, is attending college to earn a degree in Zoology/Animal Biology.  He has been quite interested, for some time, to check out the San Diego Zoo.  So that's what we did!

They have a little petting zoo area.  But to get back to it, you first walk over a bridge that may squirt you with water, then you walk past a large play structure.  We stopped for a few minutes to let the kids play, then stopped for another photo opportunity.

In the petting zoo area were mainly goats, but there were also a couple of miniature horses and a pig.  The kids loved feeding the goats a few pieces of hay that were scattered about.

The insect house had a lot of things that made my skin crawl.  I didn't mind leaving it quickly when Johnathan needed to go to the bathroom.

We did a lot of walking!  But it wasn't just walking.  It was up hill, then down hill, up again, down again.  It was also a very hot day!  When we passed a store and Johnathan saw binoculars, he just had to have them.  When we didn't buy them he was not happy at all.  Thankfully there was a pink hippo to distract him, if only for a second.

We had already walked to the back of the zoo and we needed to get everyone something to eat (which was towards the front of the zoo), so we decided to ride the Sky Glider back to the entrance.

Here's the view of Balboa Park and downtown San Diego from the Sky Glider ride.

Everyone was feeling recharged after eating lunch so we started walking again.  {Thankfully we had our stroller so Amada and James didn't have to walk the hills.}  Our older daughter, Adriana, loves panda bears and always has.  She wanted desperately to see the pandas up close and personal.  She was very pleased.  We also discovered that she can see them live anytime she wants through San Diego Zoo's panda cam.

At the panda bear exhibit, zoo personnel take your family's picture and edit panda bears into the picture to make it look like you are actually holding a panda bear.  So cute!

We finally decided to get on the double-decker bus and take a riding tour of the zoo.  This was much easier and we had a great view of the animal exhibits.  We ended up staying on the bus for one full route then got off close to the entrance.

We also learned a few interesting bits of information.  Like one of the giraffe's is pregnant and due very shortly.  They also have a baby giraffe that was born 3 weeks ago.

Adriana was happy she got to stop at the gift shop and pick out some panda items {bear and bracelet}.  I bought the younger kids matching shirts and DJ got a panda bear hat.

Thankfully we had a quiet ride back to the trailer.  Everyone was worn out and had a little too much sun today.  Apparently the sun in San Diego is hotter and makes you burn easier/faster because despite sunblock a few of us still got sunburned.  My only complaint was I thought the tickets prices were quite high.  We had a coupon for $4 off each admission, but it was still expensive.

That concludes our family's southern California vacation.  We were very pleased with all of the kids overall.  We were completely exhausted by the time we arrived home and took about a week to recover.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

Top 25 Moms With Big Families

I have been nominated on Circle of Moms again!  For this Top 25 contest, you have to be a mom raising 5 children or more and have a blog where you share about the rewards and challenges of a large family.  Yep, I qualify!

I feel like I may have a better chance of actually getting into the top 25 on this contest since there aren't as many bloggers as there were in the homeschool category.  But, I need your help!  You can vote once every 24 hours until August 1st.  We are getting a late start, but with your help I think we can do it!  Just click on the link below or go to my blog's homepage and click on the Circle of Moms Top 25 Vote for Me button.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vesicoureteral Reflux (or VUR)

Yeah, I know. That's a mouth full.  We became familiar with that term when our daughter was diagnosed with vesicoureteral reflux (orVUR) at 18 months.  She had chronic ear infections from birth and was on antibiotics constantly to treat ear infections until she had ear tubes inserted at age 2.  I believe that is why she did not have her first UTI diagnosed until she was 18 months old.

She had just finished another round of antibiotics (Augmentin) for an ear infection and she came down with a fever.  A high fever.  It was up to 105 and she was miserable so I took her to the emergency room.  She was diagnosed with an ear infection and given a prescription for Zithromax.  She'd had many ear infections but never with a fever like this.  When I explained this to the doctor, he dismissed me.  I was told that if her fever did not improve within 48 hours of being on the antibiotic she should be seen again.  It seemed like she was improving slowly and then on the 2nd day her fever spiked again.  This time it was 104.  We went to a different emergency room.  {Of course both times it happened after the doctor's office was closed.}  I noticed that when she urinated, she screamed.  I reported this to the doctor who suggested they catheterize her to collect a urine sample.  Within an hour the doctor came back and reported that she had a severe bladder infection (lots of bacteria).  She was given an injection of Rocephin before we left the ER and a written prescription for Keflex.  She began the antibiotics and seemed to be doing better.  Then again on the 2nd day she woke up screaming at midnight.  She slept off/on with me until 4am when she began screaming again.  She still had a dry diaper from the night before.  I called the on-call doctor and requested to have her admitted to the hospital.  He replied, "I wouldn't know how to do that."  {Really?}  I told him she had already been seen in the ER twice and I wanted answers.  He condescendingly told me that they have urgent care hours in the office to prevent emergency room visits and that I could bring her into the office at 8am.  As I was packing her things to head back to the ER, she finally urinated and calmed down almost immediately.  I decided to wait and take her into the office at 8am.  When the office tried to locate a urine culture that the 2nd emergency room was supposed to do, they discovered that it had not been done.  There was no way to know if she was on the right antibiotics.  I was advised to continue her current antibiotics.

Six days later she woke up with a fever again and crying with urination.  I called the pediatricians office and got her an appointment right away.  A urine sample was collected and the urinalysis showed bacteria so a different antibiotic (Sulfa) was prescribed.  A urine culture would be done and I was instructed to call the office in a couple of days to check on the results.  The results showed that the antibiotics she was currently on should clear up the infection.  I was advised to have her urine checked 48 hours after she finished the antibiotics to make sure the infection was gone.  Some follow up tests were also ordered: a VCUG (voiding cystourethrogram) and an ultrasound.  

I found this website (kidneyreflux.info) that has a ton of information about VUR and other families' stories.

What is VUR?  Vesicoureteral Reflux (or VUR) is a condition in which the urine abnormally flows back up into the ureter or kidney and can cause infection.

VUR itself is not dangerous, it's the repeated infections that can harm the kidneys.  VUR can lead to infection because the urine that stays in the urinary tract can be a place for bacteria to grow.  There are 5 grades of VUR (I-V), with I being the mildest and V being the worst.

During our daughter's VCUG, it was discovered that she had grade III vesicoureteral reflux on the right side.  This was only seen as she was voiding (peeing).  She was prescribed a low dose of antibiotics daily to prevent infection and referred to a pediatric urologist.  We were told with grades I-II, kids most likely outgrow it by the age 6-7 years.  With grades IV-V, kids oftentimes need surgery to correct the reflux.  With grade III, it could go either way.  

Our daughter had her first set of follow-up tests (VCUG and ultrasound) earlier this year and she still had grade III VUR on the right. Additionally, her right kidney was starting to fall behind in growth, compared with her left kidney.  The good news is that she hasn't had any further infections on the low dose antibiotics.  The urologist has given us clearance to go off the antibiotics, but if she develops any symptoms of a UTI to been seen immediately.  I have been totally hypervigilant about taking her to the doctor with the development of any fever so this won't be any different.

We will return for more follow up tests (VCUG and ultrasound) after the beginning of the new year and we will see where things stand with the urologist.  For now, we wait.  

If your child has had any bladder or kidney issues, I would love to hear from you!  Was the testing more traumatic for your child or you?


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Date Night

My husband and I are both at home full time caring for our children and their array of needs.  On many days we don't really have a chance to connect because we are so busy, sometimes going in different directions all day.  With the medical, emotional and behavioral challenges we are up against, some days feel like we are in a battle zone.  I am so incredibly grateful that my husband is the one right there beside me though.

Every couple of months we have a date night.  Well it's more like a date day...usually about 24 hours.  My mom, or a trusted friend, comes to the house in the early afternoon.  The first stop is something to help us relax...a pedicure, manicure, or both.  Yes my husband enjoys these as much as I do!  We may run errands like picking up prescriptions or stop by Target, but we are able to take our time and not worry about any of the children.  We go eat dinner in a restaurant and actually get to finish our meal without having to rush through it or take the rest home to finish later.  Sometimes we go shopping or go look at cars.  We may go to a movie or check out a casino, attend a sporting event like basketball or football.  Sometimes we have trouble deciding what we want to do because sitting next to each other in the quiet car is so peaceful.  Then we have a good laugh about that.  Nonetheless, we are usually shocked by the amount and variety of items we are able to do in such a short period of time. 

Then because we have our travel trailer parked at our house, we use it as a sort of hotel room.  It gives me  security knowing we are close in the event anything happens.  It's refreshing to sleep through the entire night without getting up at all.  We get to sleep in, then come inside the house to the cheerful greetings of our children.

We cherish these times together and it definitely helps keep us connected during this period of life we are in right now.  For our recent 21st wedding anniversary (June 29th) we visited the San Diego Zoo with our family while on vacation {post coming soon!}.

How often do you spend time alone with your spouse?  What are some fun date ideas you've had?  


Saturday, July 14, 2012

Postcards from California

I am so excited for the postcard swap that Beth at Living Life Intentionally has organized.  I was planning on doing an in-depth study of the United States this year in our homeschooling and this just makes it much more exciting!  I found a website where I was able to personalize postcards and I am anxiously awaiting their arrival.  I was able to add text to the back of the postcard so I wouldn't have to write it out 50 times!  You can even order custom (matching) postage stamps!

Here is a preview of the front of my postcard:  


Since I am sharing this with you, Zazzle is offering you $10 off your order.  How cool is that?  I love saving money!

Disneyland and California Adventure...The Final Day

After a day of rest from all of the walking, we were ready to tackle it again.  This was our final day (Day 3) of Disneyland/California Adventure and it ended up being the hottest day also.  We decided to begin in Cars Land.  All I can say is, "Wow!  It truly feels like you have been transported into the movie."  I was completely amazed at all of the attention to detail, but slightly disappointed that there were only 3 rides in Cars Land.  And it was packed full of people!!

Notice all of the rails.
Radiator caps for Radiator Springs!
Michael, Johnathan & Grandma
Amada and Adriana
James and I (Mater & trailers are his favorite!) 

Alex and Daniel
Yep! Hubcaps.
 Next onto Luigi's Flying Tires ride.  This was a different, yet interesting concept.  Air is generated through the ground to help your tire glide.  You have to lean in the direction you want your tire to go.  Then there are gigantic beach balls flying around.  If you are lucky enough to catch one, you can throw it at another flying tire rider. (Tip: Grab a beach ball before the ride starts.)
(me, Amada and Adriana)
Yes, the wait for Radiator Springs Racers was 270 minutes.  Luckily we were able to get a fast pass to come back later in the afternoon.
Amada and I, along with grandma and Michael, waited in the shade while everyone else rode the Tower of Terror.  

We even got to see the red trolley come by and Amada was very excited when Mickey Mouse waved at her.

DJ was trying to hold on to James.  I love all of the expressions!
They ran into Stitch as they were getting off the Tower of Terror, so they stopped for a quick photo opportunity.  Johnathan was wearing his pressure vest today for extra help regulating his body due to all of the over-stimulation.

I knew I wanted to take everyone to the Rainforest Cafe once while we were here so we made reservations ahead of time for lunch.  It's a good thing we did because it was just what we needed to relax and cool off.  We warned the kids of the "thunderstorms" every 20 minutes and they actually did really well.

Our table was situated in a corner right next to a large fish tank.  We sat the kids facing the fish so they could have some entertainment while we were waiting.  The food and service were excellent and definitely worth the walk all the way through Downtown Disney.

It was time to use our fast pass for Radiator Springs Racers.  We ended up waiting about 30 minutes.  Not too bad!  The cars seat 6 people and since we had 8 people, we split up into 2 cars.  The cars are on a track and steer themselves like a roller coaster.  At one point during the ride, you race the car next to you. The boys loved it!  I think James laughed through the entire ride.

Adriana, Amada, Grandma, & Johnathan
Alex, Daniel, James, & I
Johnathan had to go on California Screamin' again, so everyone went with him except Amada and I.

We went back to the trailer to cool down, rest and eat dinner.  Originally we were all going to try to go back to watch the light show and/or fireworks, but Johnathan was having a hard time keeping it together so I stayed at the trailer with the 3 youngest kids and Daniel went back with the 3 oldest.  I was really tired too and was asleep when they got back later that night.  They were able to catch most of the light show and some fireworks!

Alex and Adriana
Space Mountain again (Adriana & Alex are behind Daniel and DJ)
Our family had a wonderful visit to Disneyland and California Adventure!  We made lots of memories and the kids are already asking to go back.  I don't think it will be anytime soon, but it was great while it lasted!

Say tuned next week for our last stop of the vacation.  I'll give you a hint: it's further south than Disneyland.


Homeschool Helps: Equivalent Fractions FREEBIE

 I know it has been a while since I have posted. Life is crazy, as usual. We are back to homeschooling two of our children this year. Becaus...