Friday, July 18, 2014

Someone Said The Magic Words!

Parenthood 102: A Lesson In Humility. When things are going smoothly, you can count on disaster striking quickly to put you in your place. It doesn't have to be an epic disaster, or even anything you can't bounce back from in a couple hours or days - but it always arrives right after that secret little thought you have. You know the one.  "Everything is going so well right now..."  Even if you're smart enough to not say the words out loud, just thinking them is a challenge to the powers that be, and they don't take kindly to challenges...

It started slow. I thought the words and then suddenly Vegas was waking up more during the night. Nothing we couldn't handle, and his wake ups are normally of the put-the-binky-back-in-and-lay-him-back-down variety.  But then the wakeups segued into harder-to-put-to-sleeps, nap-skipping, and a couple wake-up-screaming-until-you-rock-or-feed-me-back-to-sleeps.  We've attributed it to teething, since the poor kid is drooling worse than a St. Bernard right now, and four teeth seem to be poking through on top. Again, nothing major, but a little more exhausting than normal.  I thought the words again.

Then yesterday the little patches of eczema on Vegas' feet started morphing into little red blisters. We had a follow-up appointment to measure his head circumference again that morning (he still has a large head), and while he was cleared for that particular issue (whew!), the blisters had his ped worried. He wanted us to see a dermatologist "sooner rather than later", and so we squeezed in a time slot the next morning.  That of course meant that we had to split up, with Hubs taking Little Man to his therapy up north two hours away, and I would take Vegas to the dermatologist. Stressful, again, but we've got this.  Right?  I thought the words again, albeit a little less confidently.

I noticed as I was driving home from the checkup that my ear was starting to ache. The closer I got to home the more it felt like a giant needle stabbing me.  I got Vegas inside and waited for Hubs and Little Man to get home from camp and downed a glass of water and one of the giant ibuprofen left over from pregnancy recovery.  The pain seemed to dull a little so we decided to go ahead with our dinner plans and popped over to our friend's house for the night.  

As one of our friends put it - "Hanging out with friends changes so much as we get older." There was the usual wine and pizza we've loved for the last ten years, but really the evening was filled with relaxing and playing with all the kids.  Little Man was in rare form and managed to spill applesauce and red wine on two separate friends, and steal an unattended slice of pizza from a third - all while in complete control of the television. No one seemed too mad, but it was one of those parenting moments where I just wanted to face-palm and hide. Luckily Vegas was his usual serious but cuddly self, and so I used him as a distraction.  My ear started to hurt again though so I popped a few extra strength aspirin and drank half a bottle of wine. Self-medicating works, don't let anyone tell you otherwise.  I dimly thought the words for the last time as I dozed a little on the way home, with my kids sleeping peacefully in the back of my newish van.  

We got home around 11 and tossed the kids in bed before passing out.  At 3:30 AM, my ear pain woke me up from a deep sleep. After tossing back another ibuprofen, I realized quickly that this ear pain was going from bad to absolutely intolerable, and we called my mother-in-law over to watch the kids so I could go to the ER.  Yep, it was that kind of bad.

Got checked in and out in a flash, they couldn't see anything wrong with my ear but I got an antibiotic and a prescription for (surprise!) ibuprofen. Also an appointment to see an ENT on Monday, enjoy the weekend! Before I left they offered me a stronger painkiller for the road, so Hubs decided to cancel the Little Man's appointment so I could take that and pass out for the day while he took care of Vegas' derm appointment. Can I get an amen for an amazing husband?

Vegas' appointment, as relayed from the Hubs, wasn't too scary.  They took a culture of his ankle rash and threw around a couple ideas for what it could be - but no diagnosis yet.  He has to take bleach baths once a day and has a prescription lotion for now, and a followup appointment in a week.  She did mention that he will probably have a chronic skin condition with flareups for the foreseeable future, since he's had the eczema for so long.  Sigh.  Keep us in your prayers that the culture comes back boring and quickly curable!

And to round it all out, Little Man has had an upset stomach all day, my ear still hurts despite the medicine (although not ER worthy pain) and now there is some neck and shoulder pain involved, and next week Hubs is out of town again while all the followups and appointments and summer camp are still happening!

Repeat after me: I will never even think the phrase "Everything is going so well right now", ever again.
Next class?
Parenting 103: Why Do My Children Sleep Best In A Carseat As We Pull Into The Driveway?

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

When The Time Is Right...

It happened in a magical, painfully long yet somehow a whirlwind of an appointment.  I am now driving a Chrysler Town and Country.  Holy crap.
There is so much beautiful, usable, delicious space, I can't even handle it.

With all this space comes the next big question for our family - when is the right time to add another kid to this mix?

I know...  Some of you are thinking, "slow down girl, you just had a baby!"  But this baby is turning one year old in just over a month.  He's starting to cruise along the furniture, feed himself chunks of food and hold his own bottle.  Things that took Little Man so much longer are coming easily to toddler Vegas, and I'm holding on tight to my little guy as he speeds past babyhood.  Each moment he is so little and needy is more fleeting, and I know that before I blink he's going to be racing around the house causing havoc. In fact, I just lost an entire blog post because he thought it was hilarious to yank the cord out of the laptop while I said "No no baby, no no."  You would have loved it, but that's another story.
Look at how big they are!
I absolutely love kids.  I love being a mommy.  I love being a stay-at-home Mommy.  But Hubs and I still spend time here and there on date nights and kid-free evenings.  We are lucky to have moms and a dad that will watch the kids fairly regularly.  Not to mention that my in-laws never hesitate to just pop over to watch them for an hour while I go to the dentist, or if we're running late and need someone to pick up Little Man from the bus stop. With three kids though... that would change a lot.  Asking our parents to watch two kids is tough enough, but handing them three would be asking a very big favor, and something we'd have to ask them for sparingly. Especially as Vegas gets older and is more of a handful.

I know Hubs never really thought a big family was in his future. But there have been quite a few changes in his life since I dropped in, and he always rolls with it.  When I talk about having another baby, he is totally on board.  He doesn't even flinch (anymore) when I mention that four kids might be a great number.  We've talked a lot about when the best time to start trying is, and really there is only one obstacle holding us back at this point.


Being pregnant is beautiful and lovely, and all that crap.  But it is also 10 whole months of your life. Ten months where you are waffling between misery and elation, exhaustion and excitement.  I'd really call it a full year of your life, because letting your body recover from the train wreck you just endured during delivery is no piece of cake either.  So one year of your life.

And selfishly, I don't know when I'm ready for that year.

I want the baby. I can even do the newborn stage again. But I'm not yet ready to give up my body for a whole year. I'm not ready to feel sluggish and tired and worried, interspersed with all the goopy love stuff you feel.  I like wearing clothes that fit and feeling cute and sometimes even sexy. I like (the idea of) vacations and going out on the town and all the things you really don't feel like doing with a newborn or a giant belly-to-be.

And so I don't know when we will add another one to this crazy household.  Because change is scary and I hate it and I don't know when I'll be ready for it.  Even if at the end of it all, I get a beautiful snuggly little newborn again.  Even then.

But I do like the van.
Fun at my godparent's on the 4th!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Beep Beep - Get Out of the Way, my Mom-Van is approaching!

Life has been a whirlwind the last few weeks.  Every two years I work as an election judge and so I have to go to training class and set ups for that sweet gig.  This year I was working the early voting days as well, so we had to find childcare for all five of the days I was out of the house "working" (I use the term loosely, it's definitely not the hardest job I've ever done).  Of course, since life never runs smoothly when you need it to - Hubs was told he'd be on travel for work during the exact week I needed him home to watch the kids.  In another state, many miles away.  So we cashed in all our points and did a little begging, and my mom and the in-laws banded together to take care of the kids that week.  It was insane, and more than a little stressful for everyone involved.  But we powered through! I'm going to get a nice paycheck for my trouble, and Hubs even got a work promotion while this was all going down!!

Also because I'm slightly insane, I decided on Monday that come hell or high water I am trading in my little car.  Right now I drive a Cobalt, and it is just big enough for me and the two boys.  If you try and add someone in the front seat though, forget it.  Your chair has to be completely forward and upright, and it's just really uncomfortable.  When Hubs' car started acting funny a couple months ago and we had to cram into mine for a trip out to dinner, I was a miserable grouch the entire way because I couldn't get comfortable.  For whatever reason I'd held off on the pressing need for a trade-in until I got an email about great interest rates on Monday morning, and it was like a dam broke.  I was on the phone with my car dealership an hour later, and made an appointment to get my car appraised in the shop within six hours.  By hour eight I had selected a pre-owned minivan, and committed my not-even-written-yet paycheck to the cause.  Yep.  Of course, I'm not a complete idiot, and since I know next to nothing about cars I did not purchase my "dream van" that day.  So this Friday we are scooting up to the dealership, and hopefully my amazing and wonderful husband will be approving this purchase.  A respectable four days from when I decided to trade in my youth and energy to become an official minivan mom.  And I'm not even the least bit sorry about it.  I've actually been having reoccurring dreams about the glorious amount of trunk space and how easy it will be getting the boys in and out and keeping them rear-facing longer.   

Sometimes adulthood sneaks up on you, but this time it feels like I ran out and grabbed it.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Upward Mobility

Today was officially the last day of school for Little Man.  He finishes Kindergarten and next year starts Kindergarten: The Sequel.  I think I mentioned in our last post that we are holding him back a year, and I don't regret the idea one bit.  He has plenty of years of sitting at a desk and learning life skills ahead of him, and I think one more year of free play and using social skills in a smaller group setting will be extremely beneficial.

No more baby chub.  Well, for him anyway, I've still got mine.

Next week he starts his special camp program!  They are going to have swimming and water park days, tons of arts and crafts (which he really likes), and hopefully it will just wear him out so he sleeps better at night.

With Baby Vegas' sensitive skin, I think it is going to be a challenge to find a good sunscreen for this summer, so it might be a lot of indoor/shady time for us while big brother is off having a blast.  The poor kid can't even crawl on the carpet without leggings on because his knees stay bright red for days. That doesn't stop him though - once this kid learned to crawl he was outta here!  Every few minutes I'm grabbing him away from something he isn't supposed to be touching.  Nothing dangerous, we've been baby-proofed for Little Man forever.  Just your average VCR slot (yep we still have a VHS player!), coffee table drawer, stack of DVDs kind of thing.  We did have to go out and purchase baby gates for the stairs - by the time we moved into this place Little Man was not at an age where we worried about them too much.  Plus after my townhouse which had floating stairs, every other staircase seemed tame.

"What do you WANT Tiny Noisy Thing?!"
Little Man and our dog Sandy are not big fans of Vegas' new skills.  Both of them hate being bothered while they are doin' their own thing - and Vegas wants all the cuddles.  He thinks anyone at floor level is fair game.  Luckily he has Max, our evil cat, to follow around and squeeze.  Max is surprisingly tolerant of a twenty pound baby "petting" him all the time.  The two of them are two peas in a pod, and it's adorable.

VICTORY!  She is too tired to move!!

Max doesn't respect nap time.  

Little Man's bus just pulled up, so it is officially Summertime.  I can't wait!

Thursday, June 5, 2014

IEP Update and Christening Photos!

School is nearly out and we've just had Little Man's last IEP meeting!  We received a list last week of new goals for Little Man, and it was pretty intense - most of them are completely new goals since he met almost of his goals this year.  All of the new goals make sense and we are excited to think of him meeting any of them!! We kept a few goals like 'toilet training' and 'participating in classroom routines', and added things like 'sitting and attending to classroom activities' and 'sorting and matching blocks/colors'.  This new IEP is gearing him up for eventually heading into the first grade classroom where he will have to sit at a desk for longer periods of time, and be able to follow along to group instruction.

The only hiccup in the process has been that his PT recommended reducing his therapy to once a month (down from once a week this year).  While I agree that gross motor skills are his strongest right now, I definitely don't think such a drastic reduction in therapy is good for him.  He still has a significant limp and turns out his feet while he walks, and has trouble balancing himself when he wears his backpack.  We mentioned this at our meeting and they let us keep the once a week for now, even though we agreed that every other week would've probably been fine.  But apparently the process for changing it was all-or-nothing*, and since we were disagreeing with the recommendation now, we had to keep the previous amount set on the last one.  Oh well!
Eating a ham and swiss sandwich.  So proud of him for trying a new food (and thanking my lucky stars I can alternate lunches between this and his usual PB&J)

*Little Man's PT was out of town during this meeting and so we couldn't make the changes without her present to accept them.

Last weekend was also Vegas' christening!  We were so happy to have him christened in the same church my husband's entire family has attended for ages! He was a little angel during the service, and because he was the only baby being baptized he was pretty much the star of the sermon.  Granted, I have no experience with baptisms, but this one seemed pretty special to me.  Afterwards my mother-in-law planned a great luncheon for everyone and we had enough leftovers that I didn't have to cook for days.  A double win!
I Googled "Baby Christening Outfit".  It came with a jaunty little hat.  The bib/shoes were a gift from Grandma!

A little sleepy.  The organ music kept him up.
Little Man stayed home during the service with his first not-family babysitter!  My mother-in-law's good friend who has worked with special needs kids for many years came and sat with him for the couple hours we were gone.  He was apparently very behaved as well!  Maybe we just need to spend more time in churches?

3/4 of the family.  1/2 if you count the dog and cat (which Hubs certainly does)

When camp starts in a couple weeks we will have to relearn our morning routine, and I'm already kind of dreading it.  I have to drive Little Man to a drop off site, and pick him up there as well - drop off is earlier than we leave for school, and pickup is earlier than he usually gets home.  So we'll be waking up earlier, feeling groggier, and having less time for errands/quiet time at home.  I'm trying to psych myself up for this by noting that this will force me to get dressed and out in the world every day, and so maybe I'll get tons more done... But we'll see how that works.  I foresee a lot of coffee in my future.

Speaking of coffee... Back to the daily grind for me - Vegas is starting to get more and more mobile (he's crawling all over the place now!) and causing a little more trouble than he did even a few weeks ago.  The poor cat and dog have been lovingly squeezed multiple times today, and everything is now fair game for touching and nomming on.
"Look Ma!  I'm gonna do the splits!"

Monday, May 19, 2014

Just Being "Normal"

I am nervous to write the words down - but things are going suspiciously great right now.

Well enough that I feel good writing about it without worrying I'll jinx it somehow.  Little Man comes home from school every day nice and exhausted and ready to relax with us.  We've gotten into a great routine where he walks over to the dinner table when he gets hungry and we sit down to dinner together.  He goes to bed by 9:30 and stays in his room semi-quietly until we get up together for a bath before school at 7:30 in the morning. We've manufactured a new duct-tape belt and anklet set that prevents diaper removal that has been working for over a month.  He's progressed in his usage of the iPad to make some choices with food or television.  He's been more affectionate and open with us and his extended family.
Super fancy duct tape system.  And serious bed-head.
The only thing out of the norm we've done recently has been a "quick" (Hahah- with travel it was a 6 hour day) appointment for a baseline MRI for Little Man. His neurosurgeon assured me that Little Man wouldn't need sedation for the procedure, and I assured him that if he thought he'd get Little Man sitting still for ten minutes that he was batshit crazy.  We were both wrong I guess, because Little Man did manage to get his MRI done without sedation, he just needed Hubs laying across his chest in the machine with him. Which sounds like it would be really stressful and scary, and maybe it was - but Hubs took it like a champ and said it "wasn't that bad".  He did admit that stuffing two people in an MRI machine, one of those people wiggling and screaming bloody murder, was possibly a little claustrophobic.  Still, better than we expected for sure.

My big kid, looking little for a moment.
After the MRI was an appointment with his surgeon turn back on the shunt.  I didn't realize that they technically don't turn it off before the MRI starts, they just adjust it afterwards since the machine changes the magnetic setting of his shunt. The appointment was quick and easy, although when the doctor read the MRI he said that Little Man's baseline still shows more fluid than normal around his brain.  Basically his new MRI looked very similar to the one he had during his shunt failure in 2011, which was a little disconcerting to me. The doctor didn't seem overly concerned but he did tell us that if the shunt failed again there would be no real way to tell unless Little Man displayed symptoms (ie; another year of nightly vomiting episodes).  Of course, that morning before the MRI we'd noticed Little Man's breath was a little gross, and he spent the weekend afterwards being sick and pukey, so we're on high alert wondering if everything is okay with his shunt.  But he went to school today and seems to be on the upswing, so I think it might have just been a bug.  *Crossing fingers*

Doesn't that sound like life is totally normal and great?   I guess maybe my baseline for what is normal might also be a little skewed.   But the MRI was genuinely nothing but an expensive and fancy checkup, because things are going *deep breath and holding* really well.

Not to be left out, Baby Vegas is also doing fabulous.  He's been eating two or three meals of puree a day now, and loves him some puffs and rice crackers.  He doesn't crawl anywhere, he usually scoots on his butt until he reaches whatever he wants - which lately is the laptop cord or the television remote.  During the time Little Man is at school we watch our two favorite shows, The Daily Show and Colbert Report, and then turn off the tv for a long morning nap.  After we wake up we just hang out and play quietly together all day long. His face just lights up whenever he sees his Daddy come home from work or hears him on the phone, and he definitely has him wrapped around his chubby little finger.  He rarely cries or fusses, and I only know he's teething because he has had the worst runny nose for the last few weeks. Oh and the two teeth that have shown up!   He sleeps through the night from 9:30 to 7:30, every so often having a night where he wakes up and fusses for his pacifier to be put back in. It has been a marvelously normal and average babyhood so far for this little guy, and I'm loving every minute of it.  I love being home with him, watching him grow and learn. I love being the Mommy to two amazing little boys. 

Shopping, everyone does it.

Yes - Life is (our) normal.  We're doing great.  I'm trying to enjoy this time without worrying that the other shoe is going to drop and things will go back to crazy.  But if you'll excuse me, I have no time to worry right now, it's naptime over here!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Just keep stimming, just keep stimming... what do we do we STIM and STIM

If you aren't too familiar with the special needs lingo, "stimming" is short for self-stimulatory behavior.  It is seem a lot in autistic kids - the flapping of hands, rocking back and forth, spinning around...  The list is endless.  Technically most of us running around this planet stim in our own way, maybe you twirl your hair or jiggle your leg under the table when you're anxious (that's the one I do that drives my godmom crazy!).  The difference is that most of the time when we notice ourselves doing these things we can and will stop them. Kids like Little Man don't have that "off" switch to stop stimming and so... they don't.  They can stim all day long and since it feels great, they see no earthly reason to stop just because we say - hey, watching you do that is driving me insane and/or is a terrible idea!

I've written about a few of Little Man's stims before, but as he grows and changes so do his stims.  For a long time he loved to rock and bounce.  He still occasionally does the jumping on the couch but as he's gotten bigger I think the pillows aren't at the right height for his head any more and so he has really cut back on that particular stim.  One of his more difficult ones to control was when he liked to put his hands to his throat and hum, sometimes pinching the skin of his neck while he did it.  I'm very happy to say that after approximately 10,000 times of us saying "Little Man, NO HANDS!" and redirecting him to other choices - he no longer does this particular stim.  HURRAY!   He has moved on to constantly having his hands on his ears, not a stim really, he just avoids paying any attention to us or the noises around him this way.  But with his hands on his ears he doesn't have time to hum and pinch.

His newest obsession is the green music button on Vegas' exersaucer or the button on Vegas' bear-toy learning thing (obviously I am a pro at describing children's toys).  As far as stims go it's pretty benign. It's just annoying. as. crap.  Every five seconds you hear the horrible screech of some sort of Chuckie child singing "I AM A BEAR A HUNGRY BEAR A HAPPY BEAR A SLEEPY BEAR"... And eventually after a few hours my eye starts to twitch and I get really pleasant to my husband.  So we turn off the exersaucer and hide the bear, and Vegas' gets the short end of the stick on having cool musical toys because his brother steals them and makes them unbearable for the rest of us.

We have a big basket of Vegas' toys that I can take out for him to play with during the day and hide when Little Man gets home.  It's the only way to prevent Vegas' toys from being chewed up and spit out, literally.  I accidentally left out a set of those teether car keys and when I found them an hour after Little Man had gotten hold of them they were completely destroyed.  *Sigh* Chewing is still Little Man's biggest sensory thrill.  He tears the crap out of board books and chewy tubes and pillows and window ledges and ... really anything that is within biting distance.  Surprisingly he still has pretty nice looking teeth, but we'll see when he starts getting permanent ones...

I leave you with an outtake of a photo I took of the boys "playing" together (also known as, 'How many times can I press the button until Mom moves me away from the toy?').  I call this outtake "Lemme See Those Teef!"