Posts tagged ‘reward system’

Stuck in Molasses Swamp

20170718_Candy Land Spread Out

I’ve been in a stuck in a swamp of major Bipolar depression for nearly three months now.  When I first felt myself falling in, I reached out to my counselor, with whom I had fallen out of contact.  I patiently awaited my psychiatrist appointment, which wasn’t until in mid-July.  My counselor didn’t want me to wait until then, however, suggesting that I “get evaluated” at a mental health institution.  That was NOT going to happen.  I have a “fear of commitment,” especially considering what happened the last time I was there.  Anyway, I saw my Psychiatrist a few days ago and she adjusted my medication quite a bit.  Of course, it’s too early to have taken effect but I am hopeful.

Everyone has ups and downs in their lives.  It is just so much more extreme for people with Bipolar disorder.  But God promises to be there every step of the way, even when our burden gets too heavy for us to bear.  Of all the symptoms a depressed person experiences, “hopelessness” has not been one of them for me.  Hope is the one thing I have been able to hold on to, to get me through this valley.  It’s a “Footprints” in the sand sort of situation:

Footprints in the Sand

If you’re unfamiliar with this poem, it’s worth the read!

 

The twins’ birthday was at the end of June, I now have two threes!

20170701_Birthday Blowout - Brooks

Though they bring me lots of joy, they are about three handfuls nowadays, stretching borders and testing limits.  I have implemented a “Stop Light” behavioral system.  Each morning they start out on green and if they stay on green they get a reward at the end of the day.  But if they misbehave, they get a warning and move to yellow, then red, then it’s Time Out.  If their behavior improves, they can move back down the color chart.  Bella often ends the day on green, but Brooks (my rough-&-tumble, all-boy, mischief maker) is usually up at the top on red.

20170718_Stop light Chart - Right thing to do

But the other night, they both ended their day on green and as a reward, I offered to play a special game with them.  I pulled out “Candy Land” and explained how to play.  They were so excited at first, but Brooks quickly became bored with the board game (pun intended) and wandered off to play something else on his own.  Bella and I continued and she got “Queen Frostine” rather quickly, which put her way ahead of me, which made me happy because I wanted her to win the game her first time playing.  But then I drew “Princess Lolly,” then got double blues which put me ahead of her.  She was cool about it, though.  As we both approached “Gloppy at Molasses Swamp” I warned her, jokingly, “Now don’t draw a red, don’t draw a red card, if you do, you’ll get stuck until you get another red card!”  The tension built as we both got closer and closer to the red game piece with the black dot on it, when low and behold, she got a purple, just past the red.  And low and behold, I drew a red and got stuck in “Molasses Swamp.”

20170718_Molasses swamp

As Bella got closer and closer to the end of the game, and I kept drawing cards that weren’t red, she started to get visibly concerned.  Finally, when she was just two colors away from winning, she took her pawn’s hand and used it to grab my pawn’s hand and pulled mine up with hers.  “I saved you, mommy, Now we both winneded!” she exclaimed as she put both pieces on “Candy Castle.”

Tears welled up in my eyes as I tried my best not to cry.  Little moments like that do save me.  In those moments no one loses.  And even the smallest of victories count.  We can’t always save ourselves but God can use others to pull us out of the swamp.

(Mica 9, Hope 8, Brooks & Bella 3, Asher 2, Audrey 5 mo)

Double Talk Quote: “Oh my gosh, I never seen that in the world!” – Brooks 6/17 (in awe at Mica’s super-long Chinese noodle)

Bible Verse: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Word that has Lost its Meaning:  stuck

Relatable Lyrics:  “Quiet you with my Love” By Rebecca St. James

“Come to Me, all who are weary
And take My yoke upon you
My burden is easy and light

Lay your head down on My shoulders
Be still my child, rest a while

And I’ll quiet you with My love
Rejoice over you with My song”

1. ADD to the Stress

Mica - awww

I have suspected for some time that Mica, my almost 7-year-old daughter, has ADD or ADHD. It is a genetic “disorder” and in runs in both sides of her family.  She has extreme difficulty focusing on and completing simple tasks such as getting ready in the morning and at night, doing homework, eating, and doing chores.  These tasks consume nearly every free moment she has and is stressful not only for her but for those in charge.  It is exasperating as a parent to try to get things accomplished.

The problem was first brought to my attention when she was 4 years old. Maybe I hadn’t noticed before because I was a stay-at-home mom and she was my first child and it was pretty early to notice symptoms.  Looking back on it, we did have a pretty relaxed schedule.  If we got interrupted while doing something, it was no big deal.  In fact I would encourage it for learning purposes.  For example, if we were having lunch together and we heard an unusual noise, we would go “investigate” and just go back to eating later.

So when her preschool teachers said she was on “Mica Time,” I didn’t think of it as much of a problem.  (I even have a song entitled “Mica Time” about how nice it must be to not be worried about time.)  Yes, we experienced some frustrations getting ready but I usually handled it pretty well.  I just made sure she got up early and promised to reward her with a game before school if she was ready early.  We actually had a lot of fun during those days playing hide-and-seek and Candy Land at 8:00 in the morning.

Kindergarten was not as charming of an experience.  I got pregnant and very, very ill during the Fall and stayed sick throughout my pregnancy so it was difficult for me to help her in the same way I had before.  Add to that the increasing responsibilities that come with elementary school, such as homework and the need to be more independent and organized and we ended up with some chaotic days.  Her scholastic grades were excellent but she consistently got “Needs improvement” in the areas of “Completing Class Assignments” and “Uses Time Wisely.”  We were advised to use a timer and play the game “beat the clock.”  That seemed to work well at first but soon became yet another source of stress.

I was determined that this year, 1st grade would be different.  It is different.  Different but not better.

I tried to implement a system that would encourage her to be more independent and reward her accomplishments.  She had a morning and night check-list and timers for each task.  I made her a “Wise Time” chart to try to explain in a visual way that shaving time off remedial tasks would equal more time for play (a concept she clearly grasps but can’t quite achieve).  We gave out reward bracelets for meeting goals and prizes once she collected a certain number.  She had a morning launch-pad she would prepare the night before.  It would have been a great system.

However, the arrival of the multiple babies in the house brought even more opportunities for distraction on all our parts!  It was difficult to follow through because she required so much one-on-one attention to focus.

Although her general pediatrician was unable to definitively diagnosis her, she instructed us to see a psychologist, and her school has started the process of evaluation, which will take approximately 10 weeks.

In the meantime, we’ll just keep on keepin’ on…

Double Talk Quote: “Please stop rushing me.” – Mica says this every day, usually more than once.

Verse:  “Finishing is better than starting.  Patience is better than pride.” Ecclesiastes 7:8

Word that has Lost its meaning: focus

Relatable Lyrics: “Tired of Waiting for You” by The Kinks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLAuxLqln5s

(March 4, 2015 –  twins 8 months)

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