Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Great Morning-such a Praise!

This morning McKenzie was her usual grouchy self but she kept it to herself. Then her sister decided to throw a crying fit about her shoes. This usually drives Kenzie crazy and she says something really mean and cruel. Of course this just makes the situation worse with Tori. But this morning Kenzie was very quiet. So I noticed and took the opportunity to tell her that I was very happy to see her being quiet and not saying anything mean to her sister. I told her I knew it was probably driving her crazy and that it was very hard for her to stay quiet and I was very proud of her for doing so. I wish I had used the words "self-control" but sometimes I can't think that quick. Oh well, I"ll get better at this and next time I will remember to use those words. Anyway, the next thing I hear is Tori laughing because McKenzie is in her room hugging her and tickling her. Which, of course, totally helped. And boy, did I praise and encouragement that behavior. I even shared it with my carpool friend right in front of her. Normally my friend gets an ear full of negative stuff. I bet she was glad too to hear good things rather than bad. Well, what a Praise! Thanks, Jesus AGAIN! I am constantly amazed by His answers to prayer. And I am so joyful and thrilled with Kenzie's response to this new approach.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


I know that I have explained the first part of the Nurtured Heart Approach but I thought I would write an explanation on how the discipline side of it works. It has helped me stay very consistent and I thought maybe it might help others especially those who are raising a "difficult" child. I say "difficult" because that is what the book calls them but "difficult" can look like a lot of different things. I even think it is good for your a typical child. This is how it works.

First, you set up your rules-very simple and clear ones always starting with"No" like no hitting, no arguing, no talking back, etc. Then you explain to your children that they are no longer going to get any warnings. They know the rules and if they are broken it becomes an immediate time-out. They are also not going to get lectures, speeches, asking them to say sorry, etc. It will just be a time-out and then right back into the "game". Now, you have to describe to them what a time-out looks like. A time-out is a time where the child is quiet-no talking-just sitting or standing still. No playing with anything including other siblings. It can happen anywhere-the car, the store, the living room, etc. It is immediate and only starts when they are quiet and disengaged. Now you may ask what happens when the child refuses to take the time out. You merely say "Time-out will start when you are quiet," every time they continue to talk, and you disengage from them. There is no designated amount of time. You get to decide depending on how quickly they stop and get quiet and how long you think they need to regroup. You, the parent are in control. It could only be a few minutes. In the book, they say sometimes it could only be a few seconds. I have not gotten there yet. But the idea is to teach to them that when they make a mistake, they need to stop and regroup and start again fresh and new. It also allows you to know what to say each and every time and to not give the behavior or the child any extra negative attention, the attention that they have gotten so use to getting when they misbehave. After the time-out is over you go right back to encouraging and praising the child with something like "I like that you took you time-out so quickly and quietly." or "Thank you for sitting still and quiet. I know that is hard for you," or if you want to get in a simple teaching principle you can say, "Thank you for no longer arguing with me and stopping and taking your time-out." The book explains it better. So if you are interested I would get the book and read it thoroughly. It gives lots of examples. So far it has worked very well for us. I have learned some things from doing this approach. First, if you give the time-out for too long it looses its effectiveness. Second, McKenzie almost always has a horrible come back when I say, "That is a time-out." I usually get "OMG" or a cuse word or my favorite, "for whaaaat??" I have realized this is to get me to engage with her and begin to give her my energy and attention. So I have learned to ignore those comments, say nothing except, "Time-out will start when you are quiet." And guess what, instead of her exploding more and more and getting argumentive she finally gets quiet. So last night I told her out of context when things were going good that if she responds to a time-out given with "Yes, mom." and nothing else that the time-out will be considerably shorter. So we shall see if she heard me. I will say that this with encouraging the positive behavior has decreased the amount of bad choices and the explosions. However, it has not changed her mood swings, her anxiety, or her impulsiveness. That I believe that is the mental illness part of it all. And that I believe will need to be helped with medication. Our therapist also has told us that she will help with the last part of the approach that is also in the book. It is the "credit system". When I read that part, I was very overwhelmed. She told me to hang on and we would get to that later. So I am sure I will have more to share about this amazing approach.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


This week we went to two appointments for Kenz. The first one was on Tuesday, the new psychiatric nurse practitioner, Laura Jensen at Melmed Center and the second one was on Friday with Lisa, the new therapist. Both were very good and encouraging. From the psychiatric appointment, Laura wants to try an increase in her seroquel to see if that will help her mood issues. We have to get it up to 200 mg. and give it two-three week trial before we will really know if that will work. Then Laura is looking into the new medicine, Amantadine. It is an old Parkinson's drug that I learned about from my blogger friend, Megan. Her daughter takes it and it has helped her tremendously with irritability. But it is not a commonly used drug so Laura wants to research it first which I am very thankful for. Not that I do not believe my blogger friend but I am just glad that Laura did not just take my word and wants to investigate it on her own. She is the medical professional. She is so funny and down to earth. We really like her a lot. She has heard about amantadine but has not used it on any of her patients. If neither of these work then we might go back and try abilify again. It has been three years since Kenzie tried that drug and it made her very sick to her stomach. But who knows now, it might not. I really like that we have a plan of action in place. We go back to see her in May but I can call her if we need to change things before then.
Then we went to see the therapist yesterday. This was the first time that Kenz met her. She really liked Lisa a lot better than her other three therapists. I think that is a good first start. She helped Kenz understand how the brain works and what happens when she is angry or full of anxiety. She plans to give Kenzie coping skills to help get her brain to the frontal lobe instead of staying in the back part when she is upset because there she cannot reason or think logically. Have you ever been so angry that you cannot speak? Or how about when someone upsets you surprisingly and you can't think how to respond but later you have the perfect words. That is because your brain is only functioning in the back of your head. You have to do things to get back to the front part. For example, she told Kenz to count by fives on her fingers and then backwards until she is calm down. She also made sure that I knew not to remind her to do this. She said that it would only annoy her and then she would not want to do it. She said all of this to Kenzie not me but of course I was sitting right there. Very clever, lady! She also really encouraged her emotionally. Kenzie told her three things that she wants to improve and they were 1) conflict with her sister, 2) her relationship with her dad, and 3) her rages and anger to stop. From that the therapist told her that she could tell that Kenz loved and cared about her sister and her family, that she was very smart, and much more. This therapist really knows how to talk to kids. She was amazing. I like her a lot too. Well, that afternoon Kenzie really surprised me. I have been sick again! And with Spring Break I have tried to keep going and entertain the kids. Yesterday it really caught up with me. My house was a total disaster and I was exhausted. I made the comment that if only I had a magic wand to clean this messy kitchen and oh, how I wish she would help me, never thinking in a million years that she would. Because in the past she would just brush that comment right off her shoulders and continue to do want she wanted. But yesterday while I was resting she cleaned the whole kitchen: dishes, "stuff" put away, and even wiped down the counter. Then on top of that she heard the baby, got her up, and fed dinner to her. When I came out, the baby was playing happily and the whole kitchen was spotless. I cried and gave her a big hug! I told her again and again how happy and proud she made me. I also have told everybody else too. I guess when you build a person up from the inside they want to keep acting and feeling that way. I am amazed at how well this approach helps McKenzie. It just goes to show you how badly she wants to be a respectful, accepted, young lady. I feel like she is well on her way. I truly have hope again. Thanks Jesus!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

New Approach Really Helping

The therapist gave us a new appraoch to try with McKenzie called the Nurtured Heart Approach and I really love it. Already I have seen it help so much. What am I doing different? Well, to begin with I am really emphasizing the good things she does and trying to even notice when she is not making wrong choices. For example, she may be just sitting quiet in the car and I will say "Thanks Kenz for being in such a calm and good mood." or I might say, "Kenzie thank you for not fighting with your sister." I am really trying to make sure she does not feel invisible when she is behaving. The therapist says that intense kids like Kenz can feel invisible when they are making good choices because nobody says anything. In our minds we are thinking"Whew, she is not causing any problems better not say anything!" But the problem with that is that these kids want to be noticed. They want our energy and our attention. When they get it over and over again when things are positive their mind starts changing and realizing that being good is getting more of what they need than being "bad" (for a lack of a better word). It also works the opposite way which is why traditional parenting does not work with these kiddos. We give our most energy and attention when things are going wrong. Already I have seen less fights with her sister, less disobedience to me, and less ugly talk. I have also seen her wanting to do good things. For example, today she folded all of the laundry and then put it away in everybody's room. She has never done that. It was also done without complaining. Wow! She also shelled all of the green beans when I asked her for help at dinnertime. And when Addyson was fusing the other night she offered to let her come and take a bath with her. She drained the water, put colder water in the tub so it would suit Addy, and then played with her while I was busy cleaning. She has gotten off the computer when I have asked without an upset several times-not always yet but it is better. I still know there are things that she can't help that need to be helped with medicine but I also know that we needed help at home on how to deal with her and I think we have found it. My only fear is that it will wear off. However, I also know that it helps my mood. I am focusing on the good things and not as much on the bad things and that really changes my perspective of her and of life in general. I still need to read more to find out how to give consequences and not give any energy towards it. But so far the beginning has been nothing but good. The way I see it is that this approach can only help not hurt. Being positive and encouraging is definitely the way of the Lord.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Quiet Times Are Sweet

This one is not about McKenzie. This time I want to share something that is on my heart and so wonderful. This week I have been waking up 15 minutes earlier to spend time with God. Since I have been sick I go into the bathroom, turn on the shower as hot as it will go and make myself a steam room. It has been wonderful. My Bible study teacher has taught us a new approach to studying God's word and applying it to our lives. I love it. I feel so much peace knwing I have God's word on my heart all day. Here is the approach in case you are interested: Read a verse, write down what it is literally saying, then write down in general what it means, and then what it means to your life asking it in the form of a question. Then sit and ponder and listen to what God is telling you. For example, today I read Psalms 116: I read the whole section but the part that stuck out to me was walking in God's presence for the rest of my life. So I asked myself, "Do I walk in His presence every day, how about every minute of the day?" This is the answer I heard: I need to walk in His presence every day. He is with me every minute and I need to rely on Him through everything. He is my best friend and will be there if I reach out for Him. This method of studying has been the best quiet times I have ever had. I hate getting up early and to get up 15 minutes earlier is a killer for me but I have been doing it and each day it gets easier. I don't want to miss that time with God. It is so important and so awesome what He teaches me through it. I am excited to discover what He will teach me next. Praise Him for getting me to that study. He never gives up on us and never lets go. Speaking of that, I now will share with you a sweet moment for Kenzie...
She heard a Christain song on the radio when she was sent to her room that really spoke to her. First of all, this is amazing because she hardly ever chooses to listens to K-love, the Christain radio station. Second, she really listened to God and what He was saying to her. This is what she wrote down-"There is hope for you because God won't forget all of the plans He has for you; He is not finished with you yet." Beautiful! I know this lyric is from a verse in the Bible. Anybody know exactly where it comes from? I told her with great celebration and energy how proud of her I was and that I knew God was in her heart because He spoke to her and she listened. I wish I knew the name of the song. I would love to know all of the lyrics. But anyway, I am so encouraged. He constantly shows me that He is there right with me every step of the way through this journey of life. May He be with you too.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Appointment Today

Sorry I haven't written in awhile. I have been sick this week with a sinus infection and have not felt good at all. When I have had a minute to myself I have wanted to rest not type. Anyway, I am feeling better and today we went to the therapist appointment. I was very impressed and have great hope again. I hope that it will not be crushed once again. We shall see but for now I do have hope. She believes that she can truly help transform Kenzie from the inside out. The approach she uses is called the Nurtured Heart Approach. I have a book and I can't read it fast enough. The only thing I am a little leery of is that it talks about medication not being good for kids cuz it tells them something is wrong with their brain. Well, in my opinion something is wrong with their brain and they do need medication. But I am not going to let that get in my way of reading it through and then trying the approach. She says that if she took her son to a psychiatrist he would probably be diagnosed with bipolar, anxiety, and ADHD too. And she says this approach works with him. So I will try anything. We are desperate and if it helps her feel good about who she is then that is awesome! And I am not planning on taking her off any medicine. Her doctor is the one who recommended this therapist and has highly wonderful things to say about her. I am going to ask about the medicine piece next time we go. She is on vacation next week so Kenzie will go the 26 of March to meet her and then she will come to the house the following week. I will let you all know more after I have tried what the book says to do and after I read more. Thanks everybody for praying for us. I do really like this lady, and hope is good.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Potential Great Therapist

Yesterday I got a return call from the therapist that the psychiatric nurse from Melmed recommended. I am so excited. I was thrilled with everything she said. She is going to meet with Todd and I next week, Thursday at 9:30, for 90 minutes and then we will set up a time for her to come the house to observe Kenzie and the rest of us. She is even willing to be here at 6:15 a.m. to observe, Kenzie's worse time of the day. I do realize that probably Kenzie will put her best foot forward when she is here, but the therapist said she would expect that and that she will still be able to observe things and get a feeling of how things work in our home. I am also not going to tell Kenzie when she is coming. I am going to let that be a surprise so Kenz will not have time to prepare herself to be on her best behavior. That might seem terrible, but I want help. I really believe that if she could see that side of McKenzie then she will be able to help more. I love her philosophy on helping children. She believes that when a child is that sick then the whole family suffers and it becomes imperative that the whole family strive towards wellness. So she not only works with Kenzie but also the whole family. Yah! This was what I was so excited about receiving at Hope Ranch, but now I think we will be able to get it here. She is even not that expensive. You think that with her coming to the house at odd hours she would be a fortune but she is very reasonable. However, it is still going to be an investment so please pray that the funds will continue to be there to help us all the way through this process. I am really excited about getting new ideas on how to help her and guide her. I also really like what she said when I told her that we have trouble figuring out what part of her behavior is manipulative and what is really part of her illness. She answered me with a question, "Whether it is or it isn't you still want her to have appropriate behavior, right? And of course, my answer was yes. So her point was that we still have to help her function appropriately in the world and she has to be taught correct behavior. On how we get there just might look different from other children.
Also, my husband tells me that I can be very defensive when I am given constructive criticism. So I am praying that I will be open and receptive to whatever she shares with me. I think that because I want help so badly that I will be more receptive than usual. But just in case, please pray for that one too. I am also excited that she will be able to help with all of the damage to Tori that has happened because of this terrible disease. All in all I am very ready for her to get started. The sooner, the better.