Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Quick Quote

Ryan, after finishing a Slurpee: "Well...that just tasted like drinking a gummy worm!" 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Fall/Halloween record keeping post and there are lots of pictures. Sorry.

School starts and we are just completely slammed.  These years are busy beyond belief.  I kind of think I'm amazing that I pull off 6 kids and their activities in the fall. :)

School:  Faith got a tough teacher.  It's been a good experience for her to learn how to manage the high expectation and stress that comes with that.  She is a helper in the classroom and is being stretched.  Seth has a teacher personally picked for him by his last teacher and the school counselor and I think she is perfect for him. He has a lot of friend in his class and he's enjoyed that.  Jane is in the advanced classes and it's been a  challenge.  She hasn't quite been able to keep up her 4.0 (that Mr Owen's is a tough but awesome math teacher!)but she tries hard and we appreciate her effort.  Gabe seems to have an easier schedule this year than last year or he's learned to manage his class load and his running better.  Emma doesn't seem too stressed (but that's kind of her way).  She takes hard classes and I can tell is learning and thinking.  I've learned to not feel anxiety or anger when my kids have different academic goals than I do.
Faith and Seth did the inaugural cross country program at the elementary school and just loved it. I'd heard Faith was fast, but kind of hadn't paid attention.  We went to the first meet (against 6 other schools) and she won by 15 seconds!  It was kind of amazing and fun.  Seth did really really well, too, coming in 15th I think, I qualifying by time for the district race. For their second race, Faith was a little too relaxed and got beat and was SUPER bugged.  Seth continued to PR and loved it.  At the district race, Faith was determined not to be beat again.  She raced well, and edged out the girl who had beat her before, with about 200 meters to go.  The girl got mad and HIT HER.  Faith wasn't phased...just kept running while the other girl quit.  She got first and was really excited. Her time was 3:38 for the half mile race.  Seth PRd by a ton (6:38 min mile) and took 16th in the district.

Faith and Seth also did soccer.  Ryan was Faith's coach and she is still really good but REALLY is not good at taking direction and is learning how to be a good teammate.  Seth was surprisingly comfortable after 3 years off of soccer and we were glad he was out there enjoying himself.

Jane did soccer and cross country.  She loves her team and her coach and while they didn't have a fabulous season, she made some really great friends and I think continued to learn how to give it her all in every game.  Cross country was interesting.  She was consistently 3rd or 4th at every meet, so she is a good runner.  But she would cry through the last half of most of the races.  It was so interesting.  We talked about what the problem was (anxiety) and made some goals.  She worked on being happy with her finishes and showing good sportsmanship when she didn't place where she wanted.

Gabe of course was the cross country king.  He is the fastest kid on his team and took on a leadership role, but I think had a hard time figuring out how to push himself, with no runners ahead of him at training.  He finished in the top 2-8 almost every meet and while he didn't get his goal of 15:30 5 k (the kid aims REALLY high) and wasn't super happy with his state placement, his team really came together at the end of the season and all of the went to state.  Gabe finished 24th in the state and broke the 16 minute mark, with a 15:52 finish. As a sophomore.

Emma worked a lot.  We were proud of her efforts.  She advertised and got 2-3 regular house cleaning jobs,  usually babysits 6-10 hours a week and took on her first piano student! She is so so helpful and pleasant that we are happy when she is home and up for cheering on her siblings.

Jane competed in the math is cool competition as a 7th grader and the team took 2nd place!

Seth and Faith also participated in the Reflections contest.  Faith won a 1st place ribbon and went on to districts and Seth took 2nd place. Faith won a 2nd place at districts.

Seth, Emma and Jane all take piano and Emma is preparing a piece for competition this spring.

Right before school started, Ryan and I went to Mccall Idaho for our 18th anniversary.  We found a little cabin on airbnb and it was perfect.  We mountain biked all afternoon, hiked a little, had some yummy food, played golf and met up with our SIL Zaundra who happened to be close by visiting her family.  They are expert river rafters and we were lucky enough to float the Cabarton with them.  Such a fabulous way to spend the day.

We loved taking the kids hiking: cheap, exhausting, outside, nature, less fighting.  We found a list of must-do hikes in Spokane and have been trying to do them all.  Trowell Falls was on Labor Day and it was so great.

Halloween happened.  Corn mazes, carving pumpkins, costumes. I was a paper doll, Ryan was a stick figure, Emma was a pop art cartoon, Gabe was a scarecrow (2 minute thrown together costume), Jane was a nerd with her cousin Elise, Seth has $100 bill, Faith was a 80s valley girl, Levi was a puppy dog.

Also, it was the most beautiful mild fall of all time.  It was gorgeous and warm until late October.  I hate fall (because it leads into winter) but it was really perfect this year.

Thanksgiving was just our family this year.  We combined with a friend who is a wonderful cook and another friend who is a wonderful party thrower and it was perfect.  We cooked and she hosted and we had a great easy yummy day.  We did our usual appetizers at lunch and had literally 25 dishes and desserts for dinner.  Games and laughing afterward made it a perfect day.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Seth and neurofeedback therapy

This post has been a long time coming, and is probably going to be way too long and wordy but I'm not blogging for an audience anymore, really, so who cares!

When Seth started 3rd grade (with the same teacher he'd had in 2nd grade), I was 5 months pregnant with Levi.  I began to have spiritual impressions that Seth had ADHD and that I needed to begin to research how to help him.  Seth isn't really hyper and I think that's what we'd been looking for.  Eventually I began to realize that the disorganization, forgetfulness, getting lost, risk taking, blank looks, etc were signs of INATTENTIVE ADHD.  When I talked to his teacher, she was all "yeah, Seth totally has ADHD! I've known it for awhile." She informed me that it wasn't affecting him in school or socially and that she'd keep an eye on it and let me know if she was concerned.  I checked out some books and got some literature but didn't exactly know where to start in terms of helping him.  I am not opposed to medication but it's a very last resort to me and so I wanted to find ways of behavior modification.  

But then I had a baby and was completely sidelined by that little situation.  Seth's fabulous teacher kept letting me know he was okay and I kept trying not to worry about what I wasn't doing.  I had a neat experience (I talked about it here) where Heavenly Father helped me understand that He provided Seth the teacher he had because He knew I couldn't do all of it...she was picking up my slack.  

He started 4th grade and I alerted his notoriously tough but kind teacher that I was worried about this issue and that I'd check in with her to make sure he was managing.  I started feeling more promptings to begin focusing on this issue and began making phone calls and doing research.  I ended up talking to the elementary school counselor and he basically said "you HAVE to look into neurofeedback therapy.  We have kids here at school having lots of success and are seeing the same things district wide."  I also had a friend whose kids were doing it and she had lots of good things to say about it.  I set up an introductory appointment.  Seth had his parent teacher conference the next week...and it was VERY apparent that his work was beginning to suffer.  He wasn't finishing assignments, was forgetting to turn stuff in, was falling behind because he was daydreaming during instruction and was distracted during class time.  I was SO GLAD that I had the appointment scheduled...I didn't feel upset because I knew we were taking care of it.

Our first appointment was just an assessment and conversation about concerns and goals.  If we decided to come back, we'd do a brain map (to find out exactly where the problems in his brain) and begin weekly sessions. We liked our therapist and I was on board, but it was going to be expensive (insurance only covered 50%) and Ryan is very very skeptical about "The Next Big Thing".  He spent lots of time researching studies on neurotherapy.  It's a new therapy and there isn't tons out there, but he understood the science and the studies we found seemed to indicate that neurotherapy has shown the best results in kids with Inattentive exactly like Seth.

So we got started.  This is how the website of the office we visited defines it: a learning strategy that enables persons to alter their brain waves. When information about a person’s own brain wave characteristics is made available to him, he can learn to change them. You can think of it as exercise for the brain. 

We'd go to the office and Seth would have sensors placed on his scalp and ear and the therapist would decide what areas of the brain we'd be working on.  Seth would spend 30-45 minutes watching a video that would stop every time his brain wasn't working the way it was supposed to.  He would concentrate and somehow make the brain waves better and the video would start running again.  I honestly don't completely get it, but you can look around on the website that I linked if you have more questions.  

We also did some behavior therapy and relaxation techniques for the first 15-20 minutes that were hugely helpful to both of us.  It helped me understand expectations I should have, ways I was enabling and what I could do to help, while helping Seth be more responsible for his behavior, "using HIS brain, not mom's" as the therapist said. 

After 10 sessions, we did another brain map to see his progress.  Without going into tons of details, there was huge progress.  The therapist said he didn't know if he'd ever seen someone's brain change that much over such a short amount of time.  I felt like it was truly a little miracle and an answer to prayer.  We continued with 25-30 sessions over the course of 9 months. That is the amount of sessions that studies have shown have the most permanent results. After a final brain map, that showed continue improvement and an almost "normal" brain, we decided to be done.

We were sad to say goodbye to the therapist (Mr. Mark is SO talented) but kinda happy to be done with the $60 weekly visits! Before we left (at the end of the summer), Mr Mark had Seth make a plan for being successful at school.  I was nervous to see how the new school year would go...because that's where we see the biggest struggle (in and out of school).   

And the results?  This is a letter I sent to the therapist about 2 months into school:

Hi Mark,

I was actually just saying my morning prayers and was feeling so grateful about Seth's progress and wanted to just give you an update and express my gratitude. 

Ways we can see improvement:
1. He hasn't been late for school once. Ready and happy on time every day for 6 weeks!
2. He has had us sign his planner and homework almost every day since school started. I think he's missed 2 days. It's been with zero prompting from me. He comes in, opens his binder, works on his stuff and asks me to sign it so he can go play. It's unbelievable to me. 
3. He's working on his PE monthly calendar/worksheet thing. He has literally NEVER turned it in since they started coming home in 3rd grade (I just let it go...couldn't worry about it...and he got really bad grades in PE). Again, completely on his own, he has been getting it out, doing the activities and having us initial the boxes. 
4. Really improved grades. "A"s on most assignments. 
5. During family and personal scripture study, we notice an increased engagement and understanding of the things we are reading and talking about. 

These are things my husband and I have noticed separately and were discussing this morning. I would never have expected this amount of improvement. 

I feel so grateful that this technology is available to us and that we found such a great therapist in you. 

Just wanted to let you know what a difference your work has made in our family! 

--Jessica Romney 

He's not a different Seth...still talkative, a little socially obtuse, creative, open, a little spacey, not afraid of anything.  But he is functioning at a completely different level than he was a year ago.  

I wanted to write about it here, so I didn't forget the change and how blessed we felt.  And if anyone still reads this and is researching solutions to a similar problem, here is my testimonial.  

Oh wait, I haven't yet paid tribute to Seth!  He worked so hard.  Truly came each day with a willingness to learn and grow.  He did the homework between sessions and tried really hard to answer and understand while we were there.  It was sweet and humbling to watch his willingness to do hard things and grow and change.  We love that boy.  

Tuesday, January 12, 2016