Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Gavin - Behavior - Update

So the first appt with the counselor is not until March 13th, and it's only with Chad and I. I had emailed her all Gav's medical/school history hoping to get it out of the way and dive right in since we have to wait so long for an appt, but it's not the case.

In the mean time I call periodically to see if there are cancellations that I can get in earlier.

Things seem to be better - although the weekend that pushed me over the edge was so bad that anything is better in comparison.

I did discover that he was not doing a good job eating all his lunch. Now, I don't overpack his lunch. I pack exactly the amount I believe he should eat to fuel him until after school - that way he eats it all, therefore he eats a variety, and doesn't just eat a whole lot of one thing he favors.

I have some tricks to knowing what he eats (and therefore what gets thrown away if it doesn't come home in his lunch bag). Last week a clean spoon still in the baggie came home. A non-messy baggy means no yogurt was consumer. There was no yogurt in his bag, so it got thrown away. Couple issues - not eating this 190 cal yogurt was almost half his calories! Not to mention the wastefulness of throwing an unopened yogurt away. AE ain't cheap (unless I stock up when it is).

Another trick is putting him main meal in a thermos. A sandwich can be tossed. He's not quite sneaky enough to think to dump his thermos out before putting it back in his bag. Heck, half the time he forgets to put the lid on.

They only get 20 minutes for lunch. And they have lunch before recess. I wonder if they had recess first, got all the chatting with friends out of the way, and were hungry and worn out when they came in, if they would do a better job eating? Ahhh....if only I ruled the world, right?

The kid has been eating a lot lately, and he has been doing a good job of telling us when he is hungry and identifying a healthy and appropriate snack, and he has been doing a good job drinking water without us having to tell him. This all helps prevents the over all grumps. Keeping the over all grumps at bay makes for a much more pleasant Gavin.

Still flying off the handle a bit when Sam messes with him. At this point, I'm going to say it's a learned habit. I mean, he is perfectly happy and playing one minute, then he just flips. Some things we are working on (and I would appreciate everyone that is at our hous/we are at your house to help as well):

Jumping in and defending Gav when Sam starts to mess with him. I believe we've fallen into the trap of Gavin is older and can defend himself. Sam is in that really naughty 3 yr old negative attention seeking phase. Gav lashes out at Sam, we are all over it. But if Sam lashes out at Gavin, we expect him to defend himself. How does that make him feel? Probably not great. So we are working on defending Gav as soon as Sam starts with him, so he knows we are sticking up for him as well, and that he doesn't need to escalate into screaming and fighting back.

Not letting Sam get in his room or his stuff. Gavin is allowed to be in his room with his door locked to play on his own, and his door is kept closed otherwise. We moved the car buckets that Sam likes to take cars from into the living room, so he has no excuse to get into Gavin's room. I asked Gavin first, of course, trying to respect his stuff/space, and he no longer really plays with that stuff so it was fine.

Alone time. When studying for a test the other night, I laid in my bedroom with Gavin going through the study guide. Sam woke from his nap and starting crying for me from the living room (Chad was in there but he wanted me). As hard as it was, I ignored the crying and gave Gavin my undivided attention until we were done with the studying. I could tell it was good for him, at the end he asked me if I would make some notes on the paper about one particularly confusing section (capital vs capitol) for him to study one last time in the morning.

Lastly, we are working on keeping our voices calm, and not using any attacking words/questions towards him (example, things like "what is wrong with you?") when he is freaking out. It's not like he's going to get into a conversation about what is bothering him in that moment anyway. The focus in the middle of tantrum is just to calm down, take a deep breath, tell him to let us deal with Sam (if that's the impetus).

We really did have a pretty great weekend. Friday night the boys were good, Saturday morning was a little crazy, but the rest of the weekend was pretty smooth as I recall. Baby steps.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Sam's Birthday Party

We had Sam's birthday party at the Ramada Tropics hotel about 3 weeks after his actual birthday. Because I thought to plan his birthday, oh, about 4 days before his birth date. Oops.

The way it works is you have to get a hotel room, which comes with 4 wrist bands for the water park. Then you add the birthday package, which includes 6 more wristbands, 3 pizzas, 3 pitchers of pop, and a reserved table for an hour and a half.

You can also buy 4 additional wristbands.

Overall, it was a pretty decent deal, and it's nice as it limits the guest list. We needed adults for the little ones, so we just invited our neighbors (they have a 3 yr old, their middle son is Gav's buddy, and a daughter), and we invited KK, the little girl we used to nanny share with and her mom.

When I picked Sam up from school and told him his party was finally here, he was SO excited. I don't think I have ever seen a kid so excited! He sat on the couch with a grin a mile wide, literally shaking with excitement.

We got to the water park and I made the boys snap some pics as I was sure I wouldn't get any once their friends arrived and they were in the water.

Starting to get his front teeth in!

Do not be deceived

The kids swam for about an hour. Gavin went off with his friend, and Sam was just so excited to see KK. He only wanted to be where she was, and he would rush up the stairs of the little slide first, just to let her go down the slide first. Her mom and I talked about how ridiculous it was, the connection those two have. Literally have only had eyes for each other since they were babies.

Then it was dinner time. Sam grudgingly ate some pizza, but all he really wanted was his cupcakes. Or rather, to lick the frosting off the cupcakes.

Gavin with the oldest of the neighbor kids, he rides the bus with them every day

Present time! More NERF guns, thanks Uncle Z

Thomas the Train set from KK - he LOVES this. The trains run on batteries.

"Cars" cars from Finn/the neighbors. Another hit.
After we ate, it was back to the pool. We ended up tackling the big slides, which meant Mommy carrying Sam up three flights of concrete stairs, sliding down with him on my lap, my hand trailing behind to slow us down, and hoisting him up at the entry to the water so that his head wouldn't go under. Fortunately it wasn't too deep (less than 4 ft). We did this numerous times and he loved it so much.

KK left, and I convinced Sam that we were only going down 2 more times. We went to our room to change into dry clothes and to look for the guys. Gavin's neighbor friend stayed to play with him while his family left. We found them with Chad in the arcade, and I could tell it was the witching hour. Sam used up a couple tokens, the kids picked out their prizes, and we headed back to the room to pack up.

Having to take A home was a great excuse not to stay the night in the hotel. We were able to sleep in our own beds couches and wake up in our own place in the morning. Sam is already begging to go back!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sam's 3 Yr Stats: He's a Big Kid!

Still owe you a post and pictures from the water park. Spoiler: he has a soul mate, and it was a BLAST!

I took Sam for his 3 yr check up on Monday. Didn't expect anything out of the ordinary, and that's what we got.

Blood pressure was fine - top number was 102, can't remember bottom number.

Height: 39 inches, 79th percentile
Weight: 36.8 lbs, 88th percentile
BMI: 80th percentile - I don't remember them giving you a stat for BMI when Gavin was younger. Is this new since childhood obesity is becoming more of an issue? I don't find this a useful measurement, because someone can weigh more due to having a lot of muscle, and therefore come up high on the BMI scale vs someone that is skinny, normal on BMI, but has a high percentage of body fat and is not at all in shape. I think they need a better measurement that incorporates body fat % into it.

At any rate, he looks good, he's doing great and we're hoping for a healthy end to the winter season!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Failure on Guilt on top of Failure

The title pretty much sums up how I am feeling after this weekend.

I write this not because I really love exposing our dirty secrets, but because I hope it will help other people that find themselves in a similar situation.

Parenting is hard sometimes.

We had an amazing birthday party Friday night at the Ramada Tropics water park hotel (more on that and pictures later).

Then Saturday and Sunday happened. Sam was naughtier than usual - just not listening at all - typical 3 yr old stuff, but still doesn't make life easier. Gavin's behavior was about the worst it's ever been. Usually no one sees it. Usually it's something that's been kept hidden and private, and he's good everywhere else, but not this weekend.

It wasn't only that it happened in front of others, it was the frequency and magnitude that pushed me over the edge. When I start to get a little panicky feeling, when I start to be slightly afraid.....I know we need help.

I know it shouldn't feel like failure. How many doctors and specialists has Gavin seen? Why is a counselor any different?

I'm not entirely sold on the nurture vs nature debate. I guess I've always sort of tended towards nurture, but that's because I am a control freak, and it makes me feel better if I think if I do things just right, then I get to control the outcome (positively). I feel like his behavior is a reflection of me as a parent. I love this child so much, how could I have led him astray like this?

Then I wonder if it's not nurture - is it because he was born early? Was it the oxygen, the exposure to medications, his brain bleeds, his underdeveloped brain having to endure experiences and sensations that most people don't have to go through in a lifetime? Is this due to my failure to carry him to term?

Again, I know it's not my fault. But it still feels like failure on top of guilt on top of failure. Perhaps I am the one that needs counseling.

I spoke with the school guidance counselor last night about what has been going on. I explained that he has always been an emotional child. Once - in Kindergarten when it got sort of bad, she had given us some good advice then. For a time he was putting himself in his room when he needed some space, and then life has been pretty good for a couple years.

Now this. He's been doing fine at school. I just assumed that nothing bothered him at school. She assured me that there are tons of ways that kids get irritated at school, and if he's not losing his temper there, then he has the skill set to control it. Now we need to figure out why he is failing to use those tools at home. Has it become a habit? Is his willpower just to worn out by the time he gets home? Is there some stress in the home that we are not realizing? Is it a response to the way we as parents are reacting to him?

She is sending home information about counseling and some resources. We'll approach it from the stand point that this is not acceptable behavior, and we are going to work together to find tools for controlling our anger. I'm ready to find something that works. I'm ready to put in the work to turn this around. She did say that this is sort of the critical age to learn these skills now, otherwise it gets harder to change.

If anyone out there has experiences to share - please email me or leave a note in the comments. I know most parents struggle with their kids at one point or another, you just don't see what happens behind closed doors - just the Christmas card version of a family. It's helpful to hear other people's experiences.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Gav - Behavior - Updates

Well, I'm happy to say that things seem to be a little better in the behavior department lately. Unfortunately, I can't pinpoint what has changed. Maybe it's just that he has bad mood streaks (as we all do).

But here's the thing. I am a control freak. I want to know the cause so that I can control the outcome.

We've been a little crazy lately, so the 1:1 evening time hasn't been happening, unless you count homework.

I've been trying to do vitamins consistently, but he was at Grandma Betsy's for the weekend, so didn't get them there, and I only seem to remember about every other night.

Snack time at school has started - this may be the key, as we know for sure that being hungry makes him super grumpy, which causes him to resist food when we tell him he needs one - vicious cycle.

Went to the chiro last Friday. While I didn't see a behavior/focus improvement after the first visit (he told me to pay attention - but things got worse) - there were a lot of other factors that could have been interfering. I'm not ready to say that it helps behavior, not ready to rule it out.

He's been sleeping pretty darn well. And we have been pushing drinking water.

Tomorrow we are celebrating Sam's birthday (3 weeks late, I know) at the water park hotel down the street from us with a few other friends. He is excited to be reunited with "KK" his little girlfriend that we nanny shared with and he hasn't seen for about 6 months. These two were inseparable and he still talks about her all the time.

I have lots of pictures to upload. Some day.

In two weeks I am taking the boys to Galena to meet my cousin and her boys for a ski weekend. It's Sam's first time skiing and I am super excited/terrified. They don't do lessons for 3 yr olds, so I bought a harness (and a helmet!) for him.

I just realized that I-9 sports league has a soccer team for 3 yr olds. YIPPEEEEEE! At first Sam said he didn't want to do it, then he decided he did and he is pretty excited.

So this spring Chad & I are coaching the youth track team, Gav is doing soccer, baseball, and track, and Sam is doing soccer. I haven't figure out how I can be at three places at once yet, but I'll let you know!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

This was our room in Breckenridge - Gavin in his long underwear ready to ski. He was very excited to get his picture taken by the bear. It was just a room with a double bed, couch, oversized chair, and some tables. Off to the left was a kitchen with really old appliances, and to the right there is a hallway with a bathroom and room to dump your wet gear when we came off the slopes.

Monday, February 13, 2012

We were hoping to see much more snow than this on the drive up!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Someone was up and excited to leave Denver and head for the mountains

Thursday, February 9, 2012

I managed to snap this pic with my cell phone, just aiming it out the front windshield while driving.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Behavior Flare Up

It's been a rough week. First off, let me put out there that Gavin, by and large, is a great kid. He is (mostly) sweet, loving, funny, patient, hard working, and sensitive.

But sometimes there is an alternate personality that rears it's ugly head. It's not all the times, and I don't know if it's in regular intervals, so I am documenting it here, perhaps if I do this every time I can trace a pattern.

When these "behavior flare ups", for lack of a better word, happen - his patience is short, he flies off the handle quickly when aggravated (mostly by his brother), he backtalks something awful, and he gets aggressive. Not physical, but he has pushed Sam away a little rougher than appropriate, and he will make menacing gestures.

If you've seen Gav on a good day, well, this is a complete 180.

This is only at home. He behaves very well, always, at school.

Some situational factors going on right now: the teen suicides in our community created quite a stressful week in our district, with the news flying through the schools, having to have tough conversations with kids not really able to process such information, on top of that, they had been all prepped and ready for district assessment tests, and they were postponed until this week.

Not as many sports going on right now - not as much physical outlet.

District tests - he doesn't seem too worried about them, but it's a change in routine, and he's not great with change in routine.

Other things I think may contribute are lack of consistency in taking his vitamins and being hungry. He's not doing a great job eating all his lunch (they only get 20 minutes and he is both meticulous and chatty), and they don't get an afternoon snack (however this is changing next week with the new "class law" that the students legislated on during their government unit).

It's tough. When his behavior is like this, I get stressed, uptight, grumpy. The house is yelling and chaos. Sam likes to get him even more riled up. I worry that Sam is picking up on bad habits when he sees Gav act this way. Mostly I feel like a failure as a parent, because it sucks to see your kid out of control.

Things we are going to be trying:
Praise good choices/behaviors often (last night he asked us why we were thanking him all the time!)
Change vitamin routine to dinner time to try to get these in daily (I failed last night - already)
Do a better job of keeping our cool and not yelling to model appropriate behavior ourselves
Respond immediately when Sam is picking on him so he doesn't feel like we are letting him be attacked or bullied
Give him more 1:1 attention

Any ideas out there? I'll take them!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Friday, February 3, 2012

Thursday, February 2, 2012

When No One is Looking

I think one of my favorite things about being a parent is "catching" my kids in the act of doing something really great, when they don't know we are watching.

While I will be thrilled if my kids are straight-A students, amazingly athletic or talented, or achieve any other accomplishments - I'm always the most proud when they are good people. I love when the teachers speak to the social aspect of school - that Gavin is well-liked, treats other kids well, doesn't have conflicts. When I see notes from his friends about how nice he is, or thanking him for helping with something (seems they frequently are asked to write letters to classmates, that or he gets lots of unsolicited mail!) - these are the comments that make my heart swell.

I mean....there's really no point in being the world's greatest (insert anything) if you're a complete a**, am I right?

So for all the fighting and backtalking that went down at my mom's Sunday afternoon, and the apparent funk that had taken over by Sunday evening, I was so glad that I overslept and missed gym class Monday morning.

Because I was able to spy on this sweet scene, which restored my faith in what a great, sweet kid Gavin really is.

I was trying to sneak out of the house around 6:30, Sam was stirring and I was hoping to get out the door before he woke up. Otherwise it's cry and put on the guilt so that Mom lays down with me "Sleep on your tummy, Mommy?"

I was in the mud room, coat on, bags in hand. I hear crying. I hear Gavin. Talking in a sweet, reassuring voice.

"Do you want Bubby to carry your B's* to Daddy's room? It's ok, Sam, you're ok. I'll help you. Do you want to bring your milkie?"

He carried Sam's blankets into our room, while I stood frozen in the mud room as they passed, lights off, hoping I wouldn't be discovered. When I thought it safe, I came back out to the living room and gave Gavin a big hug and told him what a great big brother he was.

I drove to work, a morning just minutes before ruined by oversleeping (not sticking to routine gives me anxiety), now happy and relaxed with the scene I had been lucky to witness.

Such an amazing thing, about brothers. No matter what, in the dark, in the quiet, when no one is watching, they always seem to be there for each other.

*B's = blankets. Both boys have an affinity for blankets and sleep with three. Sam has recently added to his collection, having recently claimed my couch blanket as his own, along with a huge blue one that resided on the guest bed in the basement.