Feb 8 – This week has been pretty good (cross my fingers, knock on wood)

September 2013 - This captures Ana's great personality that so many people never see

September 2013 – This captures Ana’s great personality that so many people never see

I hate to be optimistic, but so far things are going well. We’ve had a lot of snow which means a lot of snow days but Ana has handled it well and hasn’t gotten on my last nerve. One new practice that is working better than I imagined is making her say things on her iPad (since she can’t talk).

For instance, when she keeps asking about visiting her grandparents, I have her say with the iPad, “I want to visit Grandma, but I cannot today.” Or if she starts talking about going to daddy’s house, I have her say, “I want to see daddy today, but I cannot visit until Friday.”

I think it is working so well because I’m acknowledging her request AND giving her a reasonable response. It also is great practice for her using her iPad with complete sentences instead of just nouns and verbs (a skill we’re diligently working on).

Other than that, she’s had a few meltdowns – nothing major. We’ve began telling her to go ahead and put holes in the wall and she can fix them when her stepdad gets home. That has seemed to stop the destruction.

We’ve also eased up A LOT on noises. For our sanity we’ve had to put restrictions on where she can make her ‘yucky noises’. She is allowed to make all the loud noises she wants in her bedroom, the living room and outside. Everywhere else in the house is a quiet noise zone. So far, it is working. Also the car is a quiet noise zone. If she decides she needs to make loud noises while in the car I pull over and let her get out to make all the loud noises she wants. I do not get angry or frustrated which deflates her little plan with the yucky noises. I have also started building time into my car trips for this so the frequent stops won’t interfere with appointment times and the like.

While it feels good right now that all my scheming is working I, of course, realize that I’ve thrown Ana a curve ball and she is sizing up the new situation so she manipulate it as soon as possible. I have doubt she will be successful. But until that day arrives I will enjoy my relative control over her. Then, I will readjust.

Such is the story of my life with Ana.

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February 1 – Stop the noises!

An illustration of Ana's Yucky Noises

An illustration of Ana’s Yucky Noises

My biggest problem, currently, with Ana’s behavior is how to get anything accomplished when dealing with the rest of the world. She makes these awful noises, purposefully, to annoy the crap out of everyone within earshot. My husband and I have agreed to basically ignore them at home in the hopes they will diminish (someday soon!) but other people DEFINITELY react to them and are rightfully bothered.

For instance, the phone. When I get any phone call Ana begins with the ‘yucky noises’. Now, according to our plan she is to always be with me – no time outs. And she is cool with that. 100% cool. But, when I get a phone call I have to take, and she is making yucky noises and the other person can’t hear me, what do I do? I’ve tried putting her in her room, but she flips out and begins trying to punch holes in the wall with her cast. Then, she gets herself upset and negates all the hard work we spent the day doing.

Sigh.

If anyone has any suggestions I’d love to hear them. This is one manipulative cookie I have!

When we are out and she starts the noises one of us takes her outside or to the car. That works well, but the phone is a different story all together, and she knows it.

January 5 – So frustrated!

Babies at a Chinese orphanage

Babies at a Chinese orphanage

I am so frustrated. I’m sure Ana is too, but for now I’m talking about my frustration. As I’ve mentioned before, Ana waits to be bad till I’m busy doing something with another kid. I have no idea what to do about this.

At church Ana decided to yell during the worship service so we had to leave. I’m all for natural consequences but, honestly, what can I do for that? The only consequence I could think of was bringing fire wood up to the porch since that keeps her outside where we don’t have to hear her noises.

She was able to turn bringing the firewood up the porch stairs into a huge, dramatic ordeal, complete with self-injuring. It took forty-five minutes, but eventually she got it done. But, she was mad.

She came inside just in time for a Baby Grace massive diaper blow out and while I was cleaning it up she saw the opportunity to stir the pot. She started screaming, banging her head, pinching her sisters, etc… I was wrist deep in poop and could NOT comfort Ana.

This is where I find myself all too often. I understand that Ana needs a lot of my attention, but I can’t always give her 100% of my time. I feel like we’re spinning our wheels.

January 2 – Sort of back to normal

 

Haitian orphanage

Haitian orphanage

As expected the two crazy weeks out of school, jam packed with holiday festivities and family functions, threw our house into chaos. But, we’re back on schedule. No, school is not back in session, but the Christmas decorations are back in the basement, presents have found permanent homes on shelves and good, healthy food is back in our tummies.

That alone has made Ana a much easier girl to be around.

I am working very hard on providing natural consequences for problem behaviors and for always keeping the ball in her court. Example – Ana is in the car yelling and kicking. I say, “You are free to yell in the car, but if you choose to have a loud day we can’t go get ice cream because no one wants to hear you. Kicking the car is not safe. If you are not safe I need to pull over and hold you until you can be safe. The choice is yours.”

Yesterday, we were out and about and the last two stops (purposefully) were Lowes to get paint for her bedroom and frozen yogurt. She started the noises and chose to keep making them so we skipped those two stops and went home.  She was mad, but did not have a meltdown. I call that a victory.

I will add Ana is not stupid and is ALWAYS trying to find the boundaries surrounding rules and my patience.  To try and call my bluff about allowing her to choose whether or not to be quiet, while we were in the grocery she screamed her head off (since it was her choice) which was quite embarrassing, but at least I stood my ground and didn’t get angry. When we got back into the car I told her, “I really wished you had chosen to be quiet in the grocery so you could get some froyo, but since you’ve chosen to have a loud day I guess we’ll have to try froyo another day.” And left it at that.

Now, next week is surgery and home from school for a month. Fun times, guaranteed!

December 6 – Why it takes me all day to clean my kitchen floor

I figured I'd just stick a picture of the kitchen I WISH I had

I figured I’d just stick a picture of the kitchen I WISH I had

Today was a snow day – yeah! Or not yeah. Depending on who you are. For me it was a ‘not yeah’ because I was stuck inside with five crazy kids. And of course, I ran out of milk. I, in my cynicism, avoided the ‘milk and bread’ rush all week only to run out of said items today, Friday.  Bread, I can make. Milk, I also make, but have been told by the family that it is not an okay substitute for store-bought milk.

We ventured out before the worst of the storm hit and Ana was typically noisy and defiant but not uncontrollable.  She did, however, earn the privilege of getting of bucket of kindling out of the garage when we got home. She did a pretty decent job (a lot of noises) and we moved on with our day.

One of the perks to being snowed in is that I am forced to clean my house. I mean, what else am I going to do? Oh, I know, restrain and hold Ana all day. Why didn’t I think of that?

The first chore on my list was the kitchen floor. Since I do this weekly I am pretty good at it and pretty fast. It takes me about thirty minutes to complete, prep time included. Today, however it took four hours.

First, Ana starts screaming in the other room. I told her I did not want to hear her screaming so if she chose to continue she would have to go outside. She screamed in my face. I put her outside (in a coat and boots).

Three minutes of floor cleaning.

After a few minutes I let her back in. She immediately picked up the screaming and I told her that obviously she was bored outside because she was still screaming out there so maybe she needed to get some wood and bring it up to the porch. I pulled five pieces out of the wood shed and told her she could come in when they were taken up to the porch, and I went back inside.

Two minutes of floor cleaning.

Ana began banging her head on the kitchen window and since she already broke through one piece of glass I really don’t want to take a chance on it, so I suited up and went outside.  I stood out there and watched/helped her carry the wood in the snow/sleet.  We came back inside.

Five minutes of floor cleaning.

Ana went hysterical screaming about going to daddy’s house. This is not even daddy’s weekend. This time I took her to the rocking chair. I made her go over last weekend at her dad’s house and talk about everything that happened (all her behaviors). That really set her off! I asked her if she was mad and she said no. She said she was sad. I took the opportunity to discuss body language and behavior. I told her that her body was saying she was mad but she was telling me she was sad. I also told her when her body was saying she was mad I would know she really was sad and respond accordingly. She chilled.

Two minutes of floor cleaning.

She went off again. Back to the rocking chair. This time she was fairly easy to calm down. I sang her a lullaby and she watched the snow fall out the window. I asked her if she was feeling better and she said yes. I asked if she wanted to get up; she said no. So, we sat and rocked about five more minutes.

Five minutes of floor cleaning.

The noises again. This time it was a deliberate attempt to annoy me. I told her the same spiel about not wanting to hear it, her outside, blah, blah, blah. I tried helping her get her coat on and she fought me so I put outside with no coat (it’s a covered porch so I’m  not THAT bad).

One minutes of floor cleaning.

She stayed out all of one minute before she began promising she’d be quiet. I let her in.

Ten seconds of floor cleaning.

She comes to the kitchen doorway, looks at me and screams.  Back outside – still no coat.

One minutes of floor cleaning.

Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Finally, I put her downstairs in her bedroom and held her a while. Again, I talked about what her body is saying versus what she is saying. Again we discuss this past weekend. Again she screams.

I think everyone can see a clear pattern by this point.

I know, I know, for anyone psychoanalyzing this crazy dance she is obviously wanting my attention. But I simply cannot give it to her 100% of the time which is what she wants. I mean, Geez-Louise, even the baby will sit happily in a bouncy while I do chores! If Ana cannot have my undivided attention she will make sure than I am miserable along with anyone to whom my attention goes.

Hence, why it takes me all day to clean my kitchen floor.

December 3 – natural consequences really can work!

Ana had a pretty good day today. Until dinner time came around and she got in a snit. I’m not exactly sure why, but I’m sure it had something to do with daddy (that is usually the case). Anyway, she was making her yucky noises (to annoy the crap out of me) and I told her upfront that the consequence for yucky noises today would be bringing wood up to the porch.

Following our psychologist’s suggestion I went with her to do her consequence and commiserated about what a bummer it is to spend the evening bringing wood up to the porch. I was giving her the consequence in two pieces of wood at a time increments and it took about five times before she figured out I was serious and would really keep this up all night.

So, she changed approaches. Rather than test my dedication to the job at hand she decided to throw the wood while climbing the steps. Of course, I told her to pick it up but she didn’t mind because it was keeping me outside longer and that meant leaving the little ones inside alone longer. Score for Ana!

Or so she thought…

Real quick I have to add here that she was doing this consequence bare footed because I suggested she put shoes on. That is very typical for her – do the opposite of what I suggest. No worries, though, because it was a warm evening for December even though I did make several comments about how warm my feet were in my socks and shoes and how I liked to be barefoot in the summer, but in the winter I was much more comfortable with shoes and socks on.

So there she was carrying wood up a flight of deck stairs, two pieces at a time, to the porch, throwing the wood at least once while climbing. Right as I was getting ready to say, “Little girls with no shoes on shouldn’t throw heavy logs,” she threw a particularly big log (big for her – not BIG big) which landed promptly on her foot.

She cried – real tears  – and I comforted her telling her how much I knew it hurt and how sad it was that her foot got a boo-boo and then told her to finish the job. She didn’t throw any more logs. In fact, she stopped the yucky noises so she didn’t have to even do any more logs. Thank you, natural consequences

russian orphanage

russian orphanage

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