Week 9 – Kayli’s Graduation

This week marked Kayli’s last week at UC Berkeley. She had her last finals and has now officially graduated. We had ordered her graduation items last month and were worried the wouldn’t arrive before Saturday. They finally got her on Friday, just in time for the celebration. Sadly, the dress we ordered did not arrive it time. It was stuck in customs at LAX.

She spent the day she was supposed to be attending her graduation ceremony at home watch a virtual minecraft graduation ceremony and celebrating with just immediate family members.

We ordered sushi for dinner from her favorite local sushi restaurant and I made an angel food cake with chocolate frosting per her request.

This week’s COVID-19 cases totals:

  • World – 4,885,970
  • USA – 1,549,357
  • California – 80,265
  • Orange County – 4,434
  • Westminster – 75

Week 8 – Virtual Camp-In

This weekend Falyn participated in a Scouts BSA Virtual Camp-in. She set up the tent in the living room and the camping stove in the backyard so that she could cook us lunch and dinner on Saturday and breakfast on Sunday for her First Class Rank cooking requirements. She made quesadillas for lunch, a lo mein stir fry for dinner, and eggs, hash-browns for breakfasts. It was all very yummy!

Gallifrey’s 7 birthday was this week. The kids made decorations and a cake to celebrate. I’m not so sure that Gallifrey appreciated it, but the cake was delicious!

Dan and I again managed to get away for a picnic lunch at the park. It really helps with the monotony imposed by the quarantine to get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine.

Sunday was Mother’s Day. I had a nice relaxing day, which included spending time in the spa. Falyn made me breakfast, Dan got take-out for me for lunch, and Dan and Aidan made dinner. I got this nice card from the kids.

This week’s COVID-19 cases totals:

  • World – 3,619,523
  • USA – 1,376,317
  • California – 67,917
  • Orange County – 3,557
  • Westminster – 60

Week 7 – Support Your Local Businesses

Kayli had her last college class this week. I know it wasn’t what she had pictured for the end of her college experience. In two weeks she will graduate with no graduation ceremony. We will have to travel up to Berkeley to move her out of her college apartment by the end of the month, which is when her lease is up. I plan to take her graduation pictures while we are there. Even though there won’t be a graduation ceremony we can at least take pictures.

We have been supporting our favorite local small businesses to try to help keep them in business. We can order online and then stop by to pick it up while maintaining social distancing. Our favorite local brewery is Four Sons Brewing. We were excited to see our favorite food truck, Kaya’s Kitchen, taking online orders for pick-up at Four Sons last weekend. I had been missing their tator tots and thoroughly enjoyed them.

I continue to work out M-F at Mo-Mentum Fitness’s 8 am Zoom class. The Mo-Mentum instructors do a great job keeping you engaged in the workout even though you are not at the gym. It is nice to see all my workout friends each morning and gives me a reason to get up and get going each morning.

I love this time of the year when all the flowers are blooming. Here’s what my rose bushes in the front yard look like right now.

I did try a new recipe this week, but neglected to get pictures. I made homemade egg rolls. Everyone loved them and I will be making them frequently from now on.

This week’s COVID-19 cases totals:

  • World – 3,619,523
  • USA – 1,188,122
  • California – 54,859
  • Orange County – 2,743
  • Westminster – 47

Week 6 – Toilet Paper at Costco

The highlight of the week was finding toilet paper at Costco. We were down to the last few rolls so I was super excited to find it. I had to wait in line about 10 minutes to get into the store. Most of the people were wearing face masks and everyone was trying to maintain “social distancing” while in the store. I completely filled up my cart with food and hope that I can make it at least two weeks before having to go back to the store.

For PE, Falyn has been biking around the neighborhood every afternoon. It is great exercise and she enjoys it a lot. She is required to do 30-60 minutes of physical activity every weekday for school.

On Thursday the kids had a tea party on the front driveway. Kayli and Falyn had a lot of fun planning the party, decorating the driveway, and making the food.

On Saturday Kayli helped me dye my hair purple! I’ve wanted to try out purple hair for a long time and decided that there would never be a better time to experiment with my hair. It is a semi-permanent hair dye and will wash out over time. Here’s a pic of me with the new hair color wearing my face mask. Every time I go shopping now I feel like a bank robber!

On Sunday Dan and I picked up take-out and headed to the park for a picnic. It was nice to get out of the house for a little while.

I made some more scones this weekend. I doubled the recipe and added some chocolate chips to the top of half of them. Everyone enjoyed them.

This week’s COVID-19 cases totals:

  • World – 2,994,761
  • USA – 987,160
  • California – 43,541
  • Orange County – 2,074
  • Westminster – 36

Week 5 – Spring Break

It was nice to have a break from remote learning this week. Everyone was able to sleep in and didn’t have to worry about zoom classes and homework. We got a nice surprise from Falyn’s school when this sign appeared in our front yard. It definitely brought a smile to her face.

Falyn and the twins used this week to work on Scout activities. Both Jared and Riley have the council go ahead for their Eagle Projects. They will start moving forward with them next week. Falyn finished up her Second Class requirements and had her scoutmaster conference. Her board of review is scheduled for next week. She also continued working on three merit badges: Personal Fitness, Personal Management, and Family Life.

Falyn also had a zoom meeting to continue working on her Ad Altare Dei religious award. One of the requirements for the chapter they were working on was to discuss with an Eagle Scout how they see their role in helping younger Scouts see the values promoted by Scouting. Aidan, and two of his friends (who also happen to be big brothers of Scouts in the class) jumped into the zoom and lead a great discussion with the younger Scouts.

We have been enjoying the musicals Andrew Lloyd Webber has been making available for free each week. This week’s show was The Phantom of the Opera. He drops a new musical each week on Friday at 11 am PT. It is there for you to watch for 48 hours on the The Shows Must Go On! YouTube channel.

I wasn’t able to try out any new recipes this week because we were missing ingredients for every recipe I was interested in making. I’m trying to stay away from the store for as long as possible, but may have to venture out later this week as we run out of food for dinners.

This week’s COVID-19 cases totals:

  • World – 2,464,870
  • USA – 781,561
  • California – 31,430
  • Orange County – 1,676
  • Westminster – 23

Week 4 – Holy Week

We have now been home on “safe distancing” for four weeks. We have all settled into a routine but it is hard staying home all the time. This week was Holy Week and it felt very weird to celebrate Easter at home without going to church and to the Grandparent’s house to celebrate with our extended family. We did watch Easter Mass in the newly renovated church and connect with our extended family over zoom.

We were able to dye Easter Eggs, which is a favorite Easter tradition in our house.

Falyn’s school official cancelled in-person classes for the rest of the school year this week. They have “postponed” the 8th grade graduation to a to be determined later date. That means she will finish the school year learning from home.

I was running low on food, so I had to venture out this week to restock. The CDC is recommending face masks now for when you go anywhere, so I created myself one out of my Zion National Park buff and two ponytail holders before leaving the house.

I was surprised to find that the stores still had empty shelves. This one was for cake mixes and frosting. The only frosting left was the coconut pecan frosting. Most of the other empty shelves in the store had to do with baking. Spices, flour, and yeast were all in short supply. We should be good on food for at least two weeks now.

I continued to try out new recipes this week and made scones. They were quite good and I plan to make them again.

This week’s COVID-19 cases totals:

  • World – 1,852,257
  • USA – 560,300
  • California – 23,177
  • Orange County – 1,277
  • Westminster – 20

Week 3 – Life Via Zoom

All interactions with anyone outside of our house is done via zoom. In addition to my M-F morning workouts, I’ve been zooming into the weekend yoga classes. I haven’t really done yoga in the past, but I’m finding that I really like the classes. I plan to continue to attend them once the pandemic is over and we can go back to classes at the gym. The highlight of my day is seeing all my friends from the gym everyday during our zoom workouts.

This weekend we were able to get all of Dan’s siblings, his parents, and a bunch of the grandkids together for a family reunion via zoom. Dan’s dad recently had open heart surgery and this is the only way for anyone to visit with him. There were attendees from 3 countries, 3 states in the US, and 6 cities in California. It was so nice to “see” everyone and be able to chat, even though we couldn’t do it in person. We are hoping that a planned family reunion for this summer will still be able to happen.

This week saw the official cancellation of in person school for the twins’ high school. They will be starting remote learning in full force next week. Falyn’s school set their return date for May 2, but given the fact that the governor of the state has requested schools close for the rest of the school year, it is only a matter of time until they cancel her in person school too. They did officially cancel Falyn’s 8th grade DC trip. I’m really sad that she won’t get to experience this trip that all her older siblings have gone on. The picture below was taken the last day the 8th graders were at school. At this point, I believe it will be the last picture of the SBS Class of 2020 all together. It was taken in the newly renovated, but not quite finished yet church. We were suppose to be able to celebrate Easter Mass in the church next Sunday. It has been around 20 months since Mass has been celebrated in the church. We look forward to being able to attend Mass in the remodeled church when this is all over.

The kids have been keeping themselves busy at home with video games, board games, Netflix, and the fuzzball table.

In an effort to try something new, I made sushi this week. For a first effort, it turned out really good. I used an avocado from the tree in the backyard. We had the rice and I ordered the other sushi making items off amazon. I can’t remember the last time I went to the store. We are starting to run out of stuff and I will have to venture out sometime next week to restock.

This week’s COVID-19 cases totals:

  • World – 1,272,737
  • USA – 336,550
  • California – 15, 037
  • Orange County – 834
  • Westminster – 10

Week #2 – A New Routine

Kayli and Aidan are on spring break this week. Which means they don’t have to worry about remote learning until next week. UC Berkeley announced this week that they will be doing remote learning for the rest of the school year. They also cancelled the commencement ceremony. Kayli is pretty upset about this since she is graduating this semester. She is sad that she had her last in person college class at Berkeley without even knowing it was the last one. She is also upset about not having a graduation ceremony and not being able to take her graduation pictures with her friends. I told her we will still do graduation pictures when all this is over, but it won’t be the same since her friends most likely won’t be able to travel back to Berkeley to join us for the pictures.

The twins’ high school sent an email Thursday stating the school closure would be extended until April 17. The high school is still trying to determine how to do remote learning, so they didn’t have to worry about doing school this week either.

Falyn is into week #2 of remote learning and getting into the new routine. I have been getting up at 7 am to having my morning cup of tea and read through my email and take care of any urgent matters for my business. I wake Falyn up right before my 8 am zoom workout class starts so she can get her breakfast before her 9 am zoom class. I love that I can still “see” all my workout friends each day during our class. There is such a wonderful group of ladies at Mo-Mentum Fitness! Being able to workout with them every morning is the highlight of my day.

Falyn has zoom classes until 1:15, which a 15 minute break in the morning and a 1/2 hour break for lunch. She then will get her homework done. While she does school, I get stuff done for my business. I’ve discovered the joy of my noise cancelling headphones this week. With 5 kids at home, it can get really noise around here.

Now that I no longer have to go multiple places each day, I’m finding myself with extra time. This week I made homemade lemonade from lemons my neighbor gave me from the tree in her backyard. It was so good!

I also tried my hand at baking French Bread. I’ve never made french bread before and had to look up how to “roll the dough up”. It came out really nicely. I turned one into a garlic bread loaf and served them both with dinner. There was none left, so I’ll call that a success!

I wasn’t the only one doing baking, the kids made this quarantine cake.

The Week Everything Stopped

All last week as we watched the COVID-19 cases numbers creep up in the state of California, we knew it was only a matter of time until it started to affect our daily life. Since there has been a halt to our every day routine, with everything from school to scouts cancelled, I decided to start documenting our life under the Coronavirus “Stay at Home” order.

Last Thursday, we got an email from the school that the 8th Grade DC trip had be postponed to a TBD date. Last Friday we received emails from both the twins’ high school and Falyn’s school that they were going on remote learning and to make sure they brought home all their school books, notebooks, and any other materials they need to be able to do their school work at home. Right now the high school says it is until March 27 and Falyn’s school has it resuming on April 20.

Kayli came home from UC Berkeley last week because they went on remote learning until after spring break. Aidan had his last in person class last week as well, with UC Irvine announcing that the 2nd quarter finals would be done remotely and all 3rd quarter classes would be via remote learning.

On Tuesday night, Orange County released a stay at home order. That resulting in my gym going to zoom classes only. I’m keep my regular routine and zooming into my workout everyday at 8 am. On Thursday night the governor put the entire state under a stay at home order too. We are all learning how to use zoom and practicing social distancing, and 20 second or longer hand washing.

Falyn’s school started their zoom class on Thursday. We set up a table for her downstairs to serve as her school work area. Trying to sort through all the emails from all her teachers to help her figure out what she is supposed to be doing has proven to be a bit of a challenge. She has a schedule for when she has to zoom into each class. Some teachers are doing “flip the classroom”, which means she has to watch a video teaching the subject before the zoom class. Then the teacher asks questions about the subject for that day during the zoom class. She then has to do homework for each of her classes. By the end of the week we were starting to get it all figured out and hope that next week will be easier.

For one Falyn’s assignments, she had to go make a 3 course dinner for the family. She was required to plan the menu, make a shopping list, go shopping, cook the mean, set the table, serve the meal, and then clean up afterwards. On St. Patrick’s day I took her shopping and she made the dinner.

We were shocked by how little food their was on the shelves! She had planned to make a Taco Crescent Ring, which requires 2 packages of crescent rolls. We got lucky and snagged the last two at the store. Besides the Taco Crescent Ring, she made a salad, mashed potatoes that she dyed green for the holiday, with ice cream for dessert. It was all very yummy!

SCD – A Little Known Diagnosis

You’ve just gotten the DSM-5 diagnosis of F80.89 – Social Communication Disorder from the neuropsychologist after having comprehensive neuropsychological testing done on your child. You’ve likely also received a diagnosis of GAD , ADHD , ODD , and/or SPD –  an alphabet soup describing your child’s neurodiversity.  (For those of you unfamiliar with the terms: GAD  is Generalized Anxiety Disorder,  ADHD is Attention Deficient Hyperactive Disorder, ODD is Oppositional Defiant Disorder,  and SPD  is Sensory Processing Disorder.)

You start to research each diagnosis, looking for ways to help your child. You find plenty of information on everything but SCD, also known as Social Pragmatic Communication Disorder or SPCD. That’s the path I took when my daughter was first diagnosed with SCD.  I was frustrated by the lack of information and with how few people had ever heard of SCD. I’m hoping what I’ve learned will help you out as a parent of a newly diagnosed kid with SCD.

The first thing you need is an understanding of social pragmatics.  Social pragmatics refer to the way people use language within social situations.  It has three components:

  • The ability to use language for different purposes
  • The ability to adapt language to meet the needs of the listener or situation
  • The ability to follow the often unspoken rules of conversation and storytelling

Children with SCD have trouble with all three of these components.  These kids struggle with:

  • Proper way to greet others in different situations
  • Sharing information that is appropriate for the situation
  • Speaking differently based on the situation
  • Controlling their volume when they talk
  • Talking differently to children than to teachers and other adults
  • Taking turns in conversations
  • Making odd and/or irrelevant comments
  • Understanding and interpret tone of voice in others
  • Reading facial expressions
  • Picking up on social cues through others’ body language
  • Recognizing idioms, humor, metaphors, and sarcasm
  • Topics/tasks they do not find interesting
  • Recognizing and respecting others’ personal space
  • Being sensitive to criticism
  • Understand other people’s point of view
  • Repeating content
  • Making and keeping friends

A lot of kids with SCD would have gotten a diagnose of Asperger’s Syndrome prior to 2013. Asperger Syndrome is no longer a diagnoses in the DSM-5. There is now just the diagnoses of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The main difference between SCD and ASD is the lack of restrictive and/or repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities seen in kids with ASD. Before receiving a diagnoses of SCD, ASD has to be ruled out. You can not be diagnosed with both SCD and ASD.

Due to the newness of this diagnoses, teachers will often label these children as “bad kids”. Most teachers have never heard of SCD and have no idea that the child’s “bad behavior” is caused by this disorder. It is our job as parents of these kids to educate their teachers about this disorder. They truly aren’t intending to be rude, they just don’t get it. They don’t understand body language, they don’t get facial expressions, and they aren’t able to decipher tone of voice.

These kids need assistance and guidance in how to appropriately respond in different social situations. Social concepts of reputation and image are not something they really understand. All of these challenges can make navigating the social complexities of adolescence extremely difficult. They often do not respond in a manner that is typical or expected and are often misunderstood.

Everything said is taken very literally by these kids. They tend to interpret the world in black and white terms and miss the underlying gray tones that exists in every social interaction. They have a hard time making and keeping friends. They are frequently the target of bullying and are often ostracized by their peers.

The main question you will have is how to help your child that was just diagnosed with SCD. Look for a speech therapist that specializes in pragmatic language. A therapist will be able to provide individual therapy tailored to help your child with the areas they struggle with. A social skills group is also beneficial for helping these kids. The group setting helps to reinforce the skills they learn during the individual therapy sessions.

You may find difficulty getting your insurance to cover treatment for SCD. This is due to the lack of research based treatment for SCD, likely due to the newness of the diagnosis. Check to see what coverage your insurance provides with regards to speech therapy, then seek out a therapist from the list they provide.